The Indians Are Coming – Strong Surge in May

Inbound tourism to Australia continued its steady rise during May with Indian market the strongest performer, recording a +20.9% increase over 2017, according to the latest ABS stats.  The biggest flops were Malaysia (-13.0%), the United States of America (-4.5%) and Singapore (-4.4%).

Meanwhile, outbound travel by Australians rebounded after a flat few months. Japan +20.9%, China +16.3% and Indonesia +11.0% recorded the best results. Worst were Thailand (-3.2%), New Zealand (-2.3%) and Fiji (-0.4%).

HotelsCombined Bought by Booking Holdings

Accommodation meta-search company HotelsCombined – based in Sydney, Australia – has been bought by Bookings Holding for an undisclosed sum. HotelsCombined will be absorbed into the Booking Holdings maw with management reporting to its “leading  travel metasearch brand, Kayak.” “We’ve always been inspired by the entrepreneurial culture of Booking Holdings brands,” said Hichame Assi, CEO of  HotelsCombined.  Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, added, “HotelsCombined has built a strong brand with loyal consumers across APAC, and we believe the team will be a great addition as we expand our worldwide meta-search strategy.”

What’s A Ski Resort Without a Snow Cam? Treble Cone

I love Treble Cone. It’s one of my favourite ski resorts anywhere, even though it has only two real chairlifts and is run on the smell of an oily rag. The place has great spirit, views and terrain.

But now the relationship is getting stretched all because of one small thing: they don’t have snow cams. Well, they did and then they pulled them and say they are being replaced but we’re already a few weeks into winter and isn’t this a job for summer anyway?  More 

Fake News – Air New Zealand Launches ‘Beef’ Burger

Looks like beef, takes like beef, but is a vegetarian hoax. Meet the new Impossible Burger  Air New Zealand is now serving in business class. The burger, developed by Impossible Foods from Silicon Valley, replicates meat by using an iron-rich molecule called heme derived from soy plant roots.  Heme is also found in animal meat and the result, supposedly, “is a plant-based burger patty that cooks, smells and tastes like beef but contains no animal products whatsoever.”

Village Roadshow sells Wet ‘n’ Wild at a Loss

Village Roadshow has sold its Wet ‘n’ Wild water park in western Sydney to Spanish operator Parques Reunidos for $40m, resulting in a $25 million pre-tax loss.

Parques Reunidos is a leading global leisure park operator with more 60 ‘entertainment assets’ around the world, including 20 water parks.

Village will use the sale proceeds to pay down debt.

Popularity and Rising Costs Emerging Issues for Queenstown

Queenstown is the least-cost effective international destination for Australians to fly to, according to new research from flight meta-search engine Kayak.  It says flights from Sydney to Queenstown cost an average of 16.89 cents per kilometre while Melbourne-Queenstown airfares are priced at an average of 12.2 cents a kilometre, making it the most expensive international flight destination from both cities relative to distance. This is despite an increase in capacity (tran-Tasman traffic up 24% in the year to May says QT airport). Meanwhile, Savills Hotels says hotel room rates in Queenstown increased 15% in the year to March, continuing a long-term trend. Also see: Queenstown is Being Loved to Death.

TourRadar Raises $50m To Turbo Charge Growth & Tech

Travis & Shawn Pittman, Founders of TourRadar

TourRadar, the most successful Australian travel company you’ve never heard of, announced overnight that it has raised a further USD50 million, money that it will use to grow staff and improve technology – with a major focus on mobile and personalisation.

So what is TourRadar? Founded by Australian brothers Travis and Shawn Pittman in 2010, TourRadar is the largest OTA in the multi-day touring market, which it estimates to be worth $55 billion. More 

Serko Lists on Australian Stock Exchange

Darrin Grafton

Serko CEO and co-founder Darrin Grafton today fulfilled a long-held ambition when his company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

The ASX listing supplements the travel technology company’s presence on the New Zealand Stock Exchange, where it has had a presence since 2014.

Grafton hailed the ASX listing as a “significant growth milestone. 

“Nearly 10% of Serko’s shareholder base is in Australia and being dual-listed will give us access to a larger pool of investors.” More 

2018 – Annus Horribilis for Aussie Tourism to New Zealand

New Zealand is on the nose with Aussie tourists, who are shunning their trans-Tasman neighbour and heading elsewhere for their holidays. The downward trajectory in Australian tourism to New Zealand in 2018 accelerated during April with a -3.3% decrease in visitor numbers compared with last year, according to the latest Overseas Arrivals and Departures figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. More 

BridgeClimb Loses Contract to Scenic World Blue Mountains

Tourism pioneer BridgeClimb has sensationally lost its contract to run climbing tours of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge to Hammons Holdings, which operates Scenic World Blue Mountains, it was revealed today.

BridgeClimb, which started operations in 1998,  was founded by Paul Cave after years of lobbying the NSW Government to allow commercial climbing of the Bridge. More 

May Events Help Drive Record Result For Sydney Hotels

Rego desk with beer tap at Paramount House Hotel, Sydney.

Demand continues to outstrip supply in Sydney with the city recording an all-time performance high during May. Hotel analytics company STR reports that Sydney room numbers increased 3.3% over the previous year, customers demand was up 5.6% and occupancy grew 2.3% to 84.3%.

It’s great news for a number of new properties that opened over the past 12 months, including Paramount House Hotel in inner-city Surry Hills (pictured), recently named by Gourmet Traveller magazine as its ‘Hotel of the Year’. More 

Finally, NSW Govt Makes A Decision on Short-term Letting

The NSW government has finally made a decision on its regulation of short-term letting – and as expected it’s met with a mixed reaction: Airbnb is happy,  HomeAway thinks it is a retrograde step while the hotel lobby doesn’t like it at all.  In essence, the new rules place a cap of 180 rental days on renting out entire apartments or houses while there are tighter restrictions on what absent landlords can and can’t do. There is also scope for individual building managers to ban short-term rentals in their apartment block. See coverage on ABC and Domain.

Rising Fuel and Labour Costs Impact Airline Profits

Rising fuel and labour costs are the reasons behind a profit downgrade for global airlines from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is forecasting a collective net profit of USD33.8 billion  for its members in 2018 . “This is a solid performance despite rising costs, primarily fuel and labor, but also the upturn in the interest rate cycle,” IATA said, lowering the previous forecast of USD38.4 billion. While operating profits for airlines have been trending downwards for the past four years, “the industry’s financial foundations are strong with a nine-year run in the black that began in 2010. At long last, normal profits are becoming normal for airlines.”

Outdoorsy Expands to Australia, Makes Financial Pitch

Jeff Cavins is something of an anomoly – a person who runs a ‘sharing economy’ business, Outdoorsy, and promotes the fact that  some people using his Recreational Vehicle and caravan marketplace are ‘power sellers’ he says can turn over millions of dollars a year through the site.

“Just like Airbnb, we’ve seen the emergence of power sellers on our platform – some members of our community own more than 100 RVs vehicles and are  doing millions and millions of dollars a year in business.” More 

Post-Video Facebook Marketing Tips from Tourism Australia

For years the best advice to increase organic reach on Facebook was to publish video content. But since Facebook altered its Newsfeed algorithm in January to drive more meaningful social interactions, the platform’s love of video appears to be over. For tips on how to adapt your Facebook strategies to the new paradigm, check out this post from Nick Henderson, Tourism Australia’s Global Manager of Social Media, 

'Celebrating the Business of Travel'
- Sydney, October 24, 2018 -

Travel IQ is a new one-day conference that celebrates the business of travel with the people who live it every day.

- Entrepreneurs
- Owners
- Directors
- Investors
- Managers
- Key executives

Travel is a business, and Travel IQ will treat it like one.

You’ll learn how to improve your business, list a company, source finance, scale-up, connect with the right people, capitalise on fresh opportunities.

The program will be packed with industry innovators, creators, accumulators, doers, legends and pioneers.

See the travel industry through their eyes and leave with a better understanding of where you’d like to take your business.

Travel IQ is being held in the small but perfectly formed ballroom at the delightful Langham Hotel in The Rocks, Sydney, on October 24.

Numbers are strictly limited.

There are just 135 seats, ensuring everyone who comes receives maximum value and can properly engage with fellow attendees.

Catering will be of the highest standard with ample networking opportunities in comfortable surroundings.

Please register your interest here and we’ll be in touch when bookings open.

Travel IQ is being produced by Martin Kelly, who created the TRAVELtech and No Vacancy conferences, now owned by National Media.

More information on Travel IQ

Who’s Who in The ANZ Travel Zoo

People, Companies, Research, Data.

Travel IQ is an industry-first initiative dedicated to providing definitive data on the ANZ travel industry’s leading companies and people.

-Register for Updates

It fills a yawning gap in the local travel industry – so much going on, so little meaningful information on the people and companies who make it tick.

Research is well advanced, and the first iteration is due for release in late 2018.

Travel IQ will feature:

- Top 150 travel businesses in Australia and NZ, local focus

- Detailed profiles, expert industry analysis, exclusive insights

- Information on hundreds of ANZ industry leaders

- Major industry investors, deals and transactions listed

- Key sector overviews and analysis

- Financial information where possible

- Interviews with industry entrepreneurs and innovators

- Member access to 3000+ unique stories on

Travel IQ is being researched and written by publisher Martin Kelly.

It will cover the leading companies and people in retail, inbound, cruise, shipping, attractions, operators, aviation, tours & activities, media, technology, shipping, car rental and accommodation.

There’s an initial focus on locally-owned companies and industry dynamics.

Due to nature of travel, private companies dominate the research though every publicly-listed company (there are now more than 30) with exposure to travel will be covered.

Travel IQ will also feature key New Zealand companies and investors, while select international companies with substantial local infrastructure and holdings will come under the microscope.

The aim is for Travel IQ to be the indispensable, insiders guide to the local travel industry.

It will evolve over time and more details will be revealed in the coming weeks.

If you'd like to register your interest in the project, please sign up for updates.

Alternatively you can contact Martin Kelly on 61-414-774-978 if you believe your company should be included.

- It's All About The Information - 

TravelTrends founder Martin Kelly has diversified and now also runs Bluewater Press, a communications and thought leadership consultancy with a particular expertise in travel. Services include:

- Strategic Communications
- Media Releases & Distribution
- Crisis Management
- Thought Leadership
- Industry Advocacy
- Positioning, Messaging
- Marketing Plans & Execution
- Engaging Content

Martin is a communications, public relations and media professional with extensive high-level experience across the travel, internet, property and banking industries, both in-house and as a consultant.

For further information please email