Sydney Opera House_sailsHere's a sneek peek of what the Sydney Opera House will look like during Vivid Sydney, an 18-day festival of light, music and ideas starting May 23. Vivid has become a major tourism driver, with 11,000 international travel packages sold last year.

There's no end in sight to the craziness of Australia's airline wars, which are beginning to resemble Monty Python's 'Life of Brian' – "it's only a flesh wound," said the Black Knight after both his arms were cut off. Yesterday Rob Sharp, chief executive of Tiger Australia, which lost 60% owner Virgin Australia $18.4m in the six months to Dec 31, vowed to keep prices as low as they need to go. More …

Georg Ruebensal, ExpediaExpedia claims it processed more than one million annual transactions in Australia for the first time during 2013. Expedia Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Georg Rubensal (pictured) told the Australian Financial Review that Australia is now Expedia's third largest market behind the United States and Canada. He said Expedia's local "no booking fee" strategy gave it an edge over competitors Wotif and Webjet.

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A quick note on Qantas boss Alan Joyce…

For a while there it looked like he had plan, and the strength of character, to lead his airline through a self-proclaimed crisis even if it did involve sacking 5000 staff. In terms of messaging, Mr Joyce has resolutely held the line: Qantas is in crisis, it will collapse without govt help and serious cost-cutting measures. More …

Remember Check-in.com.au? Some will never forget. It's the online travel agent that collapsed last May with $4.4 million in debt; 5300 consumer and industry creditors.

It was sold four weeks later for $35,000 by the receiver to the Disruptive Investment Group (DVI), which has been operating it since. More …

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C360 - Stewart Williams, smallThe astonishing growth of river cruising will continue for at least the next five years, predicts Stewart Williams, MD Australasia of Globus, which owns Avalon Waterways.

River cruising numbers ex-Australia grew 338% between 2007-2012 and 50,000 Aussie pax are forecast this year. Mr Williams said 2014 had virtually sold out and the company was already marketing 2015. More …

After 14 long years, Wotif.com, Australia's largest online travel agent, has made the monumental and inevitable decision to ditch the home page it's had since launching way back in 2000. Wotif will replace the dated visage within a week or two – no firm date set – and roll out a modern look that has passed muster, though not without reservations, in testing with its devoted customer base. More …

Agoda, the Asian online travel agent, has signed with Jetstar to provide the Australian low cost carrier with hotels for its dynamic packaging product, prompting industry speculation that in-house Qantas Group accommodation provider Hooroo had been dumped.
But that's not the case for the simple reason that Hooroo never had the Jetstar dynamic packaging gig in the  first plac because it has not built a connection to the airline's Navitaire booking system.
Instead "Hooroo remains the exclusive provider of standalone hotel content on Jetstar and Qantas, powering the hotels tab for all retail hotel bookings, where the majority of business lies," said Hooroo's Commercial Director Bruce Fair.
"The big market share is around retail where the volumes there are much higher."
Hooroo also has a popular consumer site, hooroo.com.
On dynamic packaging Mr fair said: "Jetstar has a number of wholesale hotel suppliers that may offer a hotel purchase during the flight booking path on the Jetstar website, where a connection to Navitaire is required in order to package up a flight + hotel.
"We have an option to build a connection with Navitaire to also provide dynamic packaging to Jetstar if it makes sense, but haven't done so because we are working on other higher-yielding opportunities."
Mr Fair said Hooroo offers all Jetstar "bookers access to exclusive discounted hotel deals (closed user group) via various access points, including links from the flight confirmation email, and a post booking email."
Hooroo now has 5500 directly contracted hotels, Mr Fair said.
"We are pleased with the way things are going, we are growing very nicely."

Agoda, the Asian online travel agent, has signed with Jetstar to provide the Australian low cost carrier with hotels for its dynamic packaging product, prompting industry speculation that in-house Qantas Group accommodation provider Hooroo had been dumped. More …

On track. The phrase was used a couple of times by Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti while announcing an $83m half-year net loss for the airline group. But on track to where? More …

$144m Jetstar Profit Crash – Asia To Blame

Low cost carrier Jetstar, part of the crumbling Qantas empire, recorded a pre-tax loss of – $16 million for the six months to Dec 31 compared with a $128 million profit the previous year, largely blaming Jetstar Asia for the shocking result. More …

Qantas To Axe 5000 Jobs by 2017

Qantas, Australia's largest airline, today announced a $252 million half-year loss and said it will "take actions unprecedented in scope and depth to strengthen the core business". More …

The contrasting fortunes of Australia's two biggest travel agency groups were highlighted yesterday when market leader Flight Centre posted a record first-half profit of $110.8 million while smaller rival Helloworld said it lost -$4.7 million over the same period. More …

The profit of Australia's largest online travel agent, Wotif.com, fell 18% to $22.64 million in the six months to Dec 31. The black and white reason is that costs grew faster than revenue, which rose 3.5%, propelled by an increase in commission. More …

Advertising spend grew almost as fast as bookings at Priceline's travel companies during the December quarter – 36% to USD427 million, while gross travel bookings increased 39% to USD9.1 billion. Coincidence? Probably not. More …

Embraer - E-Jet E2

Embraer - E-Jet E2

For once, aviation heavyweights Airbus and Boeing stood in the shadows as smaller manufacturers such as Embraer, Bombardier and ATR took the spotlight at the recent Singapore Airshow.

The tier-2 aircraft makers signed orders worth more than USD5 billion for their regional jets and turboprops at Asia's leading aviation marketplace headlined by a landmark deal for Embraer's E-Jet E2. More …

January was a relatively tough month for most Asia Pacific hotel markets – especially protest-torn Bangkok, where occupancy fell 26% over the previous year. “Performance in Asia Pacific is showing vastly different trends compared with the other world regions”, said Elizabeth Winkle, managing director of STR Global. More …

HomeAway to Invest Heavily In Stayz

Brian Sharples, HomeAwayHomeAway CEO Brian Sharples (pictured) has said the company will invest in the infrastructure of Australian accommodation site Stayz, which it bought for AUD220 million in December. "Since that acquisition, we’ve been focused on financial and production integration and ensuring the business continues to execute as Australia’s market leader," he said. More …

Cruise Fastest-Growing Online Sector Says Google

Cruise was by far Australia's fastest-growing travel category during 2013 with a 23% increase through the year in consumer search queries, Google has revealed. This compares with 15% growth for accommodation and general travel, a 13% boost to air traffic and a 10% rise in car rental queries. More …

Schapelle CorbyThe Mantra Group today announced that the Sentosa Seminyak villlas – where notorious Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby stayed after her release from a Balinese prison last week – will carry its Peppers brand from March. Maybe it's not the kind of image they were looking for, but there could be benefits.

The media have really played up the luxury of Corby's post-prison accommodation while one TripAdvisor review headline read: "If it's good enough for Schapelle Corby it's good enough for me". More …

Helloworld, where have you been? Australia's newest travel retail network has just launched a five-week integrated campaign covering "a vast range of marketing activity – press, billboards. TV commercials, search engine marketing, digital and social media." More …

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