Travel, Tourism & Events

UNWTO suspends Russia from global tourism body

THE RUSSIAN Federation has been suspended from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), losing with immediate effect its rights and privileges as part of the United Nations travel and tourism agency. On the same day, Russia withdrew from the UNWTO.

Meeting for a first extraordinary UNWTO General Assembly in Madrid, members debated the suspension of Russia from the organisation, as decided by the UNWTO Executive Council at its emergency meeting last month.

The Russian delegation declined to step up and defend its position, and instead announced its withdrawal from UNWTO before the debate took place. 

The Assembly voted in favour of suspension, far exceeding the two-third member majority required. The decision to suspend Russia is effective immediately, from April 28, 2022, while Russia’s voluntary withdrawal is only “effective one year after a member submits an official communication through the appropriate channels” according to UNWTO.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said Russia’s military attack on Ukriane went against the UNWTO's fundamental tenant that tourism was a pillar of peace and international friendship.

“UNWTO’s members have sent a clear message: Tourism is a pillar of peace and international friendship, and members of UNWTO must uphold these values or face consequences, with no exceptions,” he said. “This emergency General Assembly shows that Russia’s actions are indefensible and contrary to the very principles of UNWTO and of international governance.”

In total, 99 countries were represented at the UNWTO Madrid meeting. According to Article 3 of the UNWTO Statutes, all members commit to developing tourism with a “view to contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity, and universal prospect for, and observance of, human rights”.

Mr Pololikashvili  said, effective immediately, the Russian Federation would not be able to exercise the rights or enjoy the privileges of UNWTO membership. This means it will not be able to receive services from the organisation, including technical assistance, nor will the Russian Federation be able to participate in any UNWTO meetings or events, be permitted to put forward any candidates to serve on UNWTO’s statutory bodies, or to vote in elections to UNWTO organs or to propose a candidate to serve as secretary-general.

The first emergency session of the General Assembly was convened at the request of six members and at the instruction of the UNWTO Executive Council. The UNWTO Secretariat then provided a comprehensive report to the General Assembly for member states to take an informed decision in relation to Russian Federation’s suspension from membership, following the organisation´s statutes.

The UNWTO Statutes state that any member state may be suspended if two-thirds of their fellow members believe them to be persisting in a policy that is contrary to the fundamental aim of the organisation.

A majority of two-thirds of full members present and voting at the UNWTO General Assembly is required for a motion for suspension of membership to pass. Suspension is temporary and may be lifted, though only by the General Assembly and following the same procedure.


Time for tourism to recover, rebuild and regrow says ATEC

AUSTRALIA's export tourism industry is calling on political parties to make big commitments in supporting the industry's recovery in the lead up to this year’s Federal Election. The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has outlined several key measures which will help tourism businesses to get back into the global market. 

The COVID-19 pandemic decimated the $45 billion export tourism industry, with many businesses having little or no revenue for the past two years.  With the reopening of international borders, ATEC claims the industry needs clearly articulated commitments from political parties which outline their plans to help drive tourism’s recovery and rebuild valuable tourism distribution networks.  

“Australia’s export tourism industry has endured two years of debilitating conditions where many businesses simply had no income or vision on when it would end,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said. 

“Now we have our borders open we are seeing the green shoots of recovery and with export tourism businesses looking to rebuild their markets, this an important time for government focus on investing in getting the industry back on its feet. 

“With an election ahead, we are calling on all parties to issue a strong commitment to our tourism industry and clearly articulate their policy platforms which will support its restart.” 

ATEC’s #itstimefortourism campaign: Recover, Rebuild, Regrow paper outlines key supports, investments and policy considerations which the industry is calling on our political parties to endorse with four pillars: 

  • Restart strong – increasing funding for Tourism Australia, extra funding and better targeting of the EMDG program, visa innovation and subsidies for businesses to attend trade events.
  • Workforce Resilience – extend the WHM fee waiver, invest in tour guide training and GoWithTourism Australia and more flexible student visas to allow longer working hours. 
  • Capability – programs to support training and capability building, Indigenous product development and building regional capacity. 
  • Distribution and Innovation – innovations for payment processes, promoting leading edge business practices, itinerary development and sustainability. 

“While we rebuild our industry we also have the opportunity to innovate and improve business practices, support a more sustainable industry and create a tourism industry of the future," Mr Shelley said.

“It’s time for tourism and it's time for our political parties to recognise the important contribution the tourism export sector -- Australia’s largest service export -- makes to our economy, by supporting these simple but effective requests that will enable tourism businesses across Australia to get back to what they do best.”



SME Travel Toolkit launched by Corporate Traveller

CORPORATE Traveller, the small business travel group, has unveiled what it calls ‘the ultimate SME Travel Toolkit’ to give small business owners a helping hand as they adapt to the ‘new normal’ and begin travelling again.

As the backbone and lifeblood of the Australian economy, SMEs are playing a central role in fuelling post-pandemic recovery and spearheading the return of the business traveller, according to Tom Walley, Corporate Traveller’s global managing director.

He said Corporate Traveller was already seeing a positive trajectory for early 2022 with a significant uplift in bookings, boosted by the Federal Government’s recent decision to reopen the international borders.

This indicated there was a strong desire for in-person meetings and gatherings for successful business development, customer retention, and networking, Mr Walley said. 

Mr Walley said as the dominant player in the SME travel space – “which counts over 1,500 team members serving over 4,000 Australian customers and more than 16,000 globally” – Corporate Traveller has tapped three decades of industry expertise to compile this easy-to-digest complimentary resource.

Available to read and download via the Corporate Traveller website, the 10-part monthly series tackles the most pressing concerns for SMEs.

Mr Walley said the SME Travel Toolkit would also set out to address the myths of managed travel programs by taking readers through the benefits of “enlisting a business travel pro you can trust and rely upon”.

Mr Walley said many business leaders were faced with a new set of challenges, “especially when trying to navigate international travel in the pandemic-era”.

“Travel today can be an overwhelming experience,” Mr Walley said. “The world has changed, which for budget conscious SMEs, has created a more confusing environment especially for those who previously handled their own travel and simply don’t know where to start.

“With international borders reopened in Australia and travel restrictions easing around the world, the desire to travel and connect face-to-face has increased for businesses … as have complications.

“Through our new SME Travel Toolkit, we’ve set out to share our deep industry knowledge to help small business owners decide how to plan and travel easily and safely.”

With the first and second chapters launching in Australia in March 2022, he said readers could expect to benefit from a variety of educational assets to help improve and inform their business travel choices.

“From providing guidance on how to craft the perfect policy to securing the best rates, controlling, and tracking spending to keeping your people safe, Corporate Traveller promises to discuss the issues that are troubling SMEs while offering practical advice,” Mr Walley said.

In keeping with the company’s customer-centric approach, the SME Travel Toolkit will also share details of real-life client issues resolved with Corporate Traveller’s help and support. Useful checklists and other downloadable tools will be offered too.

While Corporate Traveller envisages this content would mostly appeal to growing businesses that typically organise their own travel, it may also benefit companies looking for advice as they reconsider their own programs in the year ahead.

“No two clients are alike – nor too large or small for our assistance,” Mr Walley said.

“With the SME Travel Toolkit series, we’re helping businesses identify the best route and resources needed to maximise their productivity and savings without cutting corners or compromising on safety as they propel their businesses forward in this changed world.”

The first and second chapters in the monthly series are ready to view now. To access and receive subsequent chapters by e-mail, sign up to the following link:


Australian tourism industry welcomes visitors again ... slowly but surely

TOURISM BUSINESSES across Australia are poised to welcome back international visitors from Monday, February 21, following 23 months of border closures which have brought much of the tourism export industry to a standstill. 

“This is an important day for our industry and the first, but most important step in getting Australian tourism back on its feet,” Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) managing director Peter Shelley said.

“While the industry has endured a huge hit, the next 12 months will be the hardest for tourism owners as they work to rebuild once profitable businesses, having shed staff and depleted working capital and in many cases taken out loans to survive the last two years."

ATEC’s latest Industry Pulse survey revealed international in-market sellers of Australian travel have been reporting significant concern from consumers lacking confidence to book their travel to Australia.  

“While the government has invested in global advertising to drive demand to return to Australia, there are worrying signs consumers are wary of travelling here with confusion over our various state travel restrictions and concern about snap border closures," Mr Shelley said.

“Australia is a long-haul, aspirational destination and people are concerned by what they have heard in the media about confusing state entry requirements and isolation protocols should they get covid while here.

“While the industry is looking forward to welcoming back international visitors and rebuilding our tourism brand, there is a huge and complex runway to navigate and we need a multitude of factors to line up including access to skilled staff, a consistent approach to covid protocols and ease of movement between states, along with international tourism trade educational programs and targeted advertising campaigns.

“Our financially fragile tourism export sector is now starting to cautiously emerge from the greatest challenge ever faced, having lost hundreds of quality business and thousands of valuable staff," he said.

“Right now, as we welcome back visitors, it will be critical that both State and Federal Governments present a clear message to the global travel community that Australia is once again reopening its borders to the world and remain the welcoming, high-quality destination we are famous for.

“We cannot afford to allow inconsistent regulations around the management of covid to create confusion and erode the confidence of intending travellers," Mr Shelley said.

“Now more than ever we need united government leadership to remove obstacles impeding the recovery of our $45 billion tourism export sector.” 

Other data from ATEC’s Industry Pulse reveals:  

  • Confusion around varying state border requirements is creating booking hesitation;
  • Businesses don’t expect to see a significant flow of international visitors before October 2022;
  • Top recovery markets are expected to be UK, Western Europe, the US and Singapore;
  • Tourism supplier businesses are operating, on average, at 50 percent or less capacity compared with 2019;
  • Inbound Tour Operators are, on average, are operating at 30 percent or less capacity compared with 2019.



Corporate Traveller means business with its new online booking functionality

CORPORATE TRAVELLER can now have its extended online booking functionality working for small and medium businesses (SMEs) in just 24 hours.

Called CT.GO, the portal’s new functionality enables businesses that partner with Corporate Traveller to implement their own online bookings through the portal from the next business day.

Or, if a business has specific travel needs, customers can select a more customised solution.

Corporate Traveller general manager Tom Walley said the new online booking solution “was a winner” with SMEs that wanted a quick and easy online booking solution that comes with all of Corporate Traveller’s premium business travel products.

“This is a fully-integrated online travel booking solution for businesses that want to book trips with minimal fuss,” Mr Walley said. “Your business and travellers will have full access to our global travel network by the next business day.

“Not only does CT.GO fast-track the onboarding process, but the solution means customers also get to use our AI-powered online booking tool Savi, our award-winning mobile app Sam – and they get a slick and easy-to-navigate user interface.

“It’s one platform with single sign-on for all your travel needs that can be rolled out rapidly and at no cost.” 

CT.GO allows partnering business travellers and bookers to manage all aspects of their travel. This includes being able to manage or view profiles, passport details, rewards and frequent flyer programs, travel alerts, travel invoices and expense reports.

Mr Walley said key features of CT.GO included free, next business day implementation; intuitive user interface for simple, fast, and easy management of travel bookings; full integration with Qantas Business Rewards and Accelerate for air travel savings and benefits; easy access to all Corporate Traveller’s negotiated SmartSTAY and SmartDRIVE rates to ensure customers are saving on accommodation and car hire; and efficient payment options that can be tailored to a business’s billing cycle.

“CT.GO is an excellent solution for businesses with decentralised travel programs in that the onboarding process could be as quick and easy as customers required, with a fast self-registration process for staff travellers and bookers,” Mr Walley said.

“Or if companies wanted more hands-on training this also was provided. CT.GO is a cost and time efficient solution for businesses with simple travel needs but who still want access to all the bells and whistles technology that we offer.”

Tourism industry calls for end to 'nonsensical border closures' 

MAINTAINING international border closures is no longer a viable or sensible approach to containing COVID-19 infection and is simply damaging the recovery of a range of important industries including tourism, hospitality and farming, the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) said today. 

“Australia now has a higher COVID infection rate than the UK and the US but we continue to maintain our border closures to these international visitors, applying huge economic stress to businesses across the country,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“Given every person arriving in Australia has to be fully vaccinated and tested, there simply is no greater health risk which would result from reopening our international borders, rather it would provide a huge relief to an already burdened and struggling tourism sector.

“The hermit kingdom approach to protecting our borders is no longer viable and we need urgent clarity from the (Federal) Government on when we can welcome international visitors, and it needs to be immediate." 

Mr Shelley said tourism businesses have now suffered though almost two years of stifled conditions with internationally focused products seeing no customers since March 2020.

“Opening our borders would bring in desperately needed workers, reconnect people with their families and provide a lifeline to our tourism industry which has copped a lot over the last two years.," Mr Shelley said.

“In every way we have joined the rest of the world in taking on COVID as part of our day to day lives and we now need to remove the last pretence of a barrier and accept that Australia has to re-engage with the global travel community by fully reopening or international borders.

“We are calling on the Government to urgently announce the date when we can once again welcome international visitors and give our tourism industry a chance to capture some of the current peak booking period by international travellers before it’s too late."



Travel agents welcome Queensland decision to open international gates

THE Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has welcomed the Queensland Government’s announcement that fully vaccinated international arrivals would be able to enter without quarantine from 1am on Saturday, January 22.
Rather than having to quarantine, fully vaccinated arrivals will be required to have a rapid antigen test (RAT) within 24 hours of arrival. Unvaccinated international travellers who have Commonwealth approval to enter Australia will be required to quarantine for 14 days in a Queensland Government nominated facility. 
Australian Federation of Travel Agents CEO Dean Long said, “The Queensland Government’s decision to allow fully vaccinated international arrivals to enter the state without having to quarantine but instead take a RAT within 24 hours of arrival is a very welcome step toward travel returning to normal.
“The return to more normal international travel conditions for vaccinated international arrivals into Queensland brings another important tourism market back on line globally. We thank Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Tourism, Stirling Hinchcliffe for providing a firm date for this which AFTA has been seeking for some time.

"This also provides an incentive for Queenslanders who have not been fully vaccinated, to get the jab and move to a living with COVID mindset which includes holidaying domestically and internationally," Mr Long said.
“But it’s a long runway to recovery for Australia’s travel retailers. Australia’s travel agents and businesses have been in hard lockdown for almost 700 days and, with no end in sight, we need the Federal Government to provide financial support so we can continue to support travelling Australians.

"Travellers need travel experts now more than ever and the percentage of all international travel out of Australia booked through travel professionals is rapidly rising from the seven in every 10 bookings pre-COVID.
“Australia is only going to have a healthy inbound travel sector if our outbound sector is also healthy and that’s not going to happen without ongoing support until international travel returns to normal," Mr Long said.
“There’s still no clear roadmap for cruise re-opening, international and domestic air is and will be significantly constrained for some time and 53 percent of bookings are using existing credits which require additional support from agents for little revenue. This will not normalise before mid 2022.”


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