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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Call for Federal Government to establish an airlines ombudsman



Consumer group CHOICE is calling on the Federal Government to establish an airline ombudsman that is funded by the industry as new research shows travellers are getting increasingly fed up with unresolved complaints.

The latest data from CHOICE’s flight delays and cancellations tool, Complane.com.au, has found that Jetstar was the worst offender when it comes to leaving their passengers stuck at the gate, with 40% of total complaints.[1]

Qantas made up 26% of total complaints, while Virgin Australia had 20%.

“The data also found that 30% of passengers who complained weren’t given a reason for the delay or cancellation, or weren’t sure why they were left grounded,” says CHOICE Head of Media, Tom Godfrey.

7% of passengers were left stranded by their airline overnight.

CHOICE has identified numerous issues with airline complaints handling, including restrictions on the ability for consumers to seek remedies when something goes wrong.

“We know that most passengers won’t take up a fight with the airline when something goes wrong because they’ve been conditioned for years that they won’t get compensation,” says Mr Godfrey.

CHOICE found the main reasons passengers do not make a complaint are because they doubt that complaints will achieve anything (37%) and there is a perception that the complaint process is a hassle (34%).[2]

Consumers who want to take their complaint all the way face a number of problems:
  • The Airline Customer Advocate is unable to independently enforce its decisions, leaving passengers in the lurch when the airline refuses to compensate them
  • Consumers would have to take court action in the federal court system – facing thousands of dollars in filing fees
“The airline industry is failing to keep travellers grievance free. That’s why we’re calling on the Federal Government to establish an airline ombudsman which can actually regulate the industry,” says Mr Godfrey.

"What we need is an ombudsman with teeth who can actually call these airlines to account."

CHOICE’s pre-budget submission to the Federal Government also calls on the establishment of a fixed flight delays and cancellation compensation scheme, which will see passengers fairly compensated when the airline makes a mistake.

“The industry should provide fixed financial compensation to travellers who have flights cancelled for reasons within the airline’s control,” says Mr Godfrey.

“An industry-wide system of standardised compensation already exists in the European Union so it’s hardly a stretch for Australian consumers to get the same guarantees for a service they paid for.”

To lodge an airline complaint visit: complane.com.au


[1] More than 1100 eligible complaints logged at complane.com.au from July 2016 to February 2018
[2] CHOICE, September 2017, ‘Australian Consumers in the Travel Market – Annual travel trends report – phase 4 of the CHOICE travel project’, available at  https://www.choice.com.au/consumer-advocacy/policy-submissions

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Top Ten Hotels in Thailand Named

DestinAsian Readers’ Choice Awards 2018


  1. Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
  2. Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok 
  3. Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel 
  4. Banyan Tree Bangkok 
  5. Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok 
  6. Banyan Tree Phuket 
  7. Anantara Hua Hin Resort and Spa 
  8. Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui 
  9. The St. Regis Bangkok 
  10. The Peninsula Bangkok 
DestinAsian publisher Ronald Liem commented “We see the Readers’ Choice Awards as a litmus test of how travel industry brands are doing in our home region. After rolling out a system of country-wide rankings in last year’s edition, we have continued that approach, and it’s wonderful to see finalists representing both major cities and more idyllic holiday destinations.”

This year’s poll was conducted between August and October 2017. The voting process involved naming a winner in each of 31 different categories including hotels and resorts, service residences, spas, airlines, airports, and destinations. Optional comments about the winners’ standout attributes shed light on characteristics that readers deem the most important: friendliness of staff and services, convenient location, modern facilities, quality of dining options, comfort, and excellence in design.

Additionally, Bangkok was voted as the “Best City Destination in the Asia Pacific” for the third consecutive year.

The full results will appear in the February/March 2018 print issue of the magazine.

The DestinAsian Media Group began operations in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2001 and apart from DestinAsian itself, now publishes several lifestyle publications including DestinAsian Indonesia, Prestige Indonesia, and DA MAN.

Lufthansa presents a new brand design.

#lufthansa 

Heritage meets the future.

Lufthansa presents a new brand design.

-       Dark blue becomes the leading brand color – yellow accentuates
-       Lufthansa fleet receives new livery after almost 30 years
-       New design as the most visible sign of Lufthansa's modernization

Lufthansa will reveal its new, modernized brand image to customers and employees at two major events at the Frankfurt and Munich hubs on Wednesday, the 7th of February. The most visible change is the new aircraft livery. In front of more than 3,000 guests in Frankfurt and Munich, Lufthansa will officially present a Boeing 747-8 and an Airbus A321 with the new design. In the previous week, individual details created interactive discussions, especially on social media. The response to the new appearance was predominantly positive, although some people missed the

traditional yellow tone; nevertheless, it will receive a specific function to serve as a means of orientation and differentiation. The color will be found in the future, on every boarding pass and at every Lufthansa counter at the airport, among other things.

"Lufthansa has changed and is more modern and successful than ever. From now on, this will also be visible to the public through a new design", says Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG. "The crane has always been with us and clearly stands for the promising performance from Lufthansa. To this day, it still stands as a symbol of highest quality, excellent service, flying expertise, reliability, innovative spirit; and it stands for trust."

Against the backdrop of digitalization and changing customer requirements, Lufthansa recognized that the company needed to modernize the aircraft appearance in order to remain up to date. The Group invests two billion euros a year in new, fuel efficient aircraft. The premium on board and ground services meet individual customer requirements. Lufthansa was awarded the Platinum Award by the International Air Transport Association IATA for its new digital services and was the only and first airline in Europe to be awarded the 5th star by Skytrax. The introduction of a new business class with the new Boeing 777-9 in two years is an example of how the path to modernization will be consistently pursued in the future.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the crane, every detail of the design was reworked – to meet requirements of the digital age. The new Lufthansa appearance gives the individual elements a new, modern quality to sharpen their impact. The designers found great importance in taking up the unique design tradition of the Lufthansa brand and leading it into the future.

Heritage meets the future

"The modernization of Lufthansa is only possible thanks to the commitment of our employees, who are the best in the industry. They are the actual face of the brand ", Carsten Spohr continues.

The crane, designed exactly 100 years ago by graphic artist Otto Firle, a distinctive icon in the sky, remains the airline's iconic symbol. In the future, it will be slimmer and fit for the digital world. A thinner ring makes the crane look more elegant, bringing it into the foreground and granting it more space. All in all, the trademark will gain lightness and elegance. The familiar blue-yellow color combination of Lufthansa will also be retained – but the use of these primary colors will be redefined. The blue specially developed for Lufthansa is somewhat darker, more elegant and is becoming the leading brand color. It stands for reliability, clarity and value.

After 30 years, Lufthansa's aircraft are gradually being given a new livery. The design was developed in a complex process with numerous experts. After intensive preliminary studies, more than 800 designs and own color developments in the laboratory, the new aircraft design was completed. In keeping with the airline's claim to be premium, the blue color of the livery will dominate the sky and the world's airports for the next few decades.

In the cabin, guests will encounter the modernized design within the crew's uniform in the form of new – and often yellow – accessories. On-board articles such as tableware, amenity kits, blankets or pillowcases will carry the new design in future. Around 160 million items will be exchanged over the next two years.

An important challenge in revising the design was to meet the requirements of today's and tomorrow's digital world. In addition to optimizing the crane for new technical requirements, Lufthansa has developed its own typeface, which is particularly easy to read on mobile devices or Smartwatches.

New brand campaign

Openness and curiosity – the launch of the new Lufthansa brand launch marks the start of the new #SayYesToTheWorld brand campaign. It questions familiar ways of thinking and habits. Lufthansa opens up the world to all explorers. With style, ambition and quality. With empathy for each individual. Reliable and trustworthy.

New design also for the Lufthansa Group

The Lufthansa Group's brand image has also been modernized. The new logo no longer bears the crane and is written completely in capital letters. This will take into account the great variety of brands in the Group, offering optical neutrality for all companies. The newly developed Lufthansa Corporate typeface is timeless and independent. The use of capitals is a characteristic of the new Group design.

The new Lufthansa blue is the Lufthansa Group's main color. White ensures lightness and an independent appearance. Yellow complements the color palette.

Carsten Spohr says: "We are the proud drivers of globalization and are honored to bring this abstract concept to life! All this drives us forward and makes our work so valuable and fulfilling."

Further information can also be found online at www.explorethenew.com


Monday, February 5, 2018

Pitcairn Islands to become 'Dark Sky Sanctuary'



The remote Pitcairn Islands are once again putting themselves on the world's stage as they embark on a journey to become an official 'Dark Sky Sanctuary'. Currently, there are only three locations on earth deemed a 'Dark Sky Sanctuary' ---a designation that means everything in the world of Astro Tourism.

From total solar eclipse meetups to Northern Lights photography workshops, worldwide Astro Tourism is a rapidly growing industry. In recent years, Astro Tourism has been heralded as an industry leader among sustainably-minded travelers and travel companies alike. For these reasons and more, Pitcairn is doubling down on Astro Tourism by applying to become a 'Dark Sky Sanctuary' in 2018.

Pitcairn's application will be a strong one to be sure and this isn't the first conservation-minded designation the islands have sought out. In 2015, the United Kingdom named the waters surrounding the Pitcairn Islands as the largest protected ocean area in the world. Today it remains the 3rd largest Marine Protected Area in the world. Pitcairn's steadfast commitment to conservation will ensure its natural riches will remain pristine for generations to come. Located more than 500kms from its nearest populated neighbour, deep in the South Pacific, the Pitcairn Islands have amongst the world's clearest oceans and night skies in the world. Furthermore, with a population of only 50 people, and a volcanic landscape that provides a variety of dramatic viewing points, Pitcairn is ideally placed to meet the specific needs of Astro Tourism.

As its first step into the Astro Tourism world, Pitcairn has invited Emeritus Professor of Astronomy at the University of Canterbury, John Hearnshaw, to visit the islands in February 2018. His role will be to assess the suitability of the island for Astro Tourism as it relates to the training of night-sky guides, location scouting, and light metering. Training topics with Pitcairn's budding Astro guides will include information on planets, stars, nebulae and galaxies, lunar and solar eclipses, timekeeping in astronomy, black holes, quasars, and cosmology.



With locations identified and training for locals guides beginning in February 2018, Pitcairn's next step will be to apply for its 'Dark Sky Sanctuary' designation. If awarded this prestigious honor, Pitcairn would join the ranks of only three existing sanctuaries on earth including the remote regions of Chile, New Zealand, and New Mexico.

Making the announcement, Pitcairn Travel Coordinator, Heather Menzies said, "Pitcairn has amazing dark skyscapes. In line with our commitment to protecting our environment, we aim to curate a world-class night sky-viewing experience on Pitcairn. Being such a pristine and remote island, our natural amphitheatre will provide an ideal location for intrepid Astro visitors."

Located halfway between New Zealand and Peru, Pitcairn has been home to the descendants of the HMAV Bounty mutineers since 1790 and remains one of the most remote and undiscovered tourism destinations in the world. This new opportunity will provide visitors with yet another compelling reason to visit this fascinating and remote destination.

Access to Pitcairn is via a quarterly shipping service that offers 12 round-trips annually between Mangareva in French Polynesia and Pitcairn Island.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

NCL Norwegian Jewel local season brochure featuring Australia, New Zealand, Asia and South Pacific




Norwegian Cruise Line has recently released its 2018/19 Norwegian Jewel local season brochure, featuring an array of Australia, New Zealand, Asia and South Pacific cruises departing from 17 September 2018 – 4 March 2019. Norwegian Jewel will be returning to our waters for her second local season fresh from a multi-million-dollar bow-to-stern refurbishment as part of the Norwegian Edge™ revitalisation program.

Taking in stunning native destinations such as Cairns, Hobart, Milford Sounds and Tauranga, cruisers can also explore breathtaking sailings to Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and a once in a lifetime Trans-Pacific voyage from Vancouver to Tokyo. New itineraries include a 19-day sailing from Singapore to Sydney; a seven-day sailing soaking up the sights of Tasmania and a 13-day sailing of South Pacific must-sees including ports across New Caledonia and Queensland, returning via Cairns, Airlie Beach and Cairns.

To order the new 2018-19 Australia, New Zealand, Asia and South Pacific brochure, visit Brochure Flow in Australia https://brochureflow.tollgroup.com/ or Travel Marketing in New Zealand http://www.brochurenet.co.nz/. For further information on Norwegian Cruise Line email salessupportaunz@ncl.com; visit www.ncl.com; contact us in Australia on 1300 255 200 or in New Zealand on 0800 969 283.

Macao celebrates UNESCO Creative Cities Gastronomy recognition.


MACAO is set to celebrate 2018 with a year-long promotion that feasts on its recent UNESCO Creative Cities – Gastronomy recognition.

Now a member of an elite list of 26 global cities designated for their cuisine, the former Portuguese enclave will celebrate by promoting 2018 Macao Year of Gastronomy.

Chinese New Year

Among the major food-related events for the year is Macao’s hosting of the prestigious Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants promotion from March 25-27, complete with dining experiences, lectures, a chefs’ feast and a gala awards ceremony.

Throughout the Chinese Year of the Dog, Macao will be highlighted by a congested calendar of colourful festivals and events, along with the opening of a contemporary international hotel – the 1390-room MGM Cotai.

“Being recognised by UNESCO for its gastronomy is an exciting development for Macao which has always been renowned for having one of the world’s earliest forms of fusion food,” said Helen Wong, general manager of the Macao Government Tourism Office (Australia and New Zealand).

“Over four centuries, Macao has seen the evolution of what is known as Macanese cuisine, where families have prepared home-cooked dishes, recipes with elements of Portugal, Africa, India, Malaysia and China creating a real melting pot of tastes,” she said.

“During that time, Portuguese traders brought to China capsicum, curry, shrimp paste, pickled cod fish and other spices. These ingredients were combined with the evocative flavours and aromas from south-east Asia such as cinnamon, coconut milk, tamarind, garlic and red chilies’ along with the vegetables and fruit grown in the region.

“The story of Macanese cuisine is just as enticing as the taste of the food itself.”

Red Market

Among the popular dishes on the Macao menu are African Chicken, Minchi, the salt cod fritters and the sawdust pudding Serradura along with the sought-after Portuguese-style egg tarts.

Macao will kick off 2018 with its annual Chinese New Year celebrations, including two vibrant family street parades have been organised for the evenings of Sunday, February 18 and Saturday, February 24.

From April 27-29, the compact Asian centre of more than 600,000 will host its 6th Macao International Travel Industry Expo (MITE) at The Venetian Macao, this year’s exhibition increasing to 500 booths.

Over five Saturday evenings from September 1 until October 1, the skies over the Macau Tower will explode into a kaleidoscope of colours as countries from around the world compete in the 29th Macao International Fireworks Display Contest.

African Chicken

For the first time in its history, the annual contest was cancelled in 2017 after Macao was devastated by the fury of Typhoon Hato which struck in the days leading up to the event.

On September 27, Macao will celebrate World Tourism Day with an array of colourful activities while, in October, it will host the Global Tourism Economy Forum.

Giant steins will be raised throughout the same month as the MGM Macau celebrates its annual Oktoberfest with all the food and singing expected at such a German-style gathering.

More food for thought in November will be the 18th Macau Food Festival, the overwhelming aroma of dishes enough to wake the taste buds as guests wander between street stalls.

December will be another busy month with the hosting 8th Macau Shopping Festival, the ever-appealing Macao Light Festival and the 3rd International Film Festival and Awards – Macao (IFFAM), completed with its red-carpet ceremonies.

To wind up 2018, sports fans can look forward to the Macao International Kart Grand Prix while lovers for fireworks can prepare for a colourful evening on December 20 to commemorate the 19th year since the establishment of the Macao Administrative Region along with the traditional New Year fireworks on December 31.

Despite last year’s impact of Typhoon Hato, Macao boasted a record-breaking 2017, attracting more than 32,600 international visitors – and increase of 5.4 per cent on the previous record-breaking year.

An increase in the number of integrated resorts and hotels coupled with a growth in attractions and activities have played key roles in the rise in popularity.

The total number of hotel rooms in Macao increased to almost 38,000.

Such expansion saw an increase of almost 10 per cent in the number of visitors taking overnight stays, ensuring the average occupancy rate would be between 88 and 90 per cent.

Details: Macao Government Tourism Office, go to www.visitmacao.com.au (Australia) or www.visitmacao.co.nz

Traveloscopy | 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Intrepid Group celebrates record growth

 


Carbon-neutral travel company the Intrepid Group is celebrating record growth, with revenue up by 17% to $350M in 2017, the UN's Year of Sustainable Tourism Development.

It's the second year of record growth for multi-brand Intrepid Group and comes two and a half years after the travel company split from TUI Plc to become an independently-owned company with a 'purpose beyond profit'.




Intrepid Group CEO James Thornton says that the Australian-owned business is seeing an increasing global demand for sustainable and immersive tourism experiences, with growth across all brands and regions that the company operates resulting in record profitability for the year.

The Melbourne-based Intrepid Group employs 1800 staff in 30 offices, is now the world's largest provider of adventure travel experiences, operating through tour operator brands Adventure Tours Australia, Geckos Adventures, Intrepid Travel, Peregrine Adventures and Urban Adventures.

In August, the Intrepid Group announced that it was investing in Chimu Adventures, taking a 50% stake in the company, with Polar charters a key priority for the partnership. The deal which will make Chimu and Intrepid Group the largest seller of Antarctica trips in Australia and one of the largest globally, was funded through Intrepid's cash reserves.

The year also saw Intrepid Group's launch its first season of Adventure Cruising, with 94% trip fill on charters giving the company confidence to expand the range in 2018; the opening of new destination management companies in Japan and Central America; day tour company Urban Adventures almost double its passenger numbers; as well as record levels of customer enjoyment.

According to Thornton, the results support that Growth and Purpose, the two goals in Intrepid's 2020 business strategy are indelibly linked.

"It's become increasingly evident to us that having a Purpose Beyond Profit can actually be profitable" says Thornton, who was appointed as CEO of the Group, as well as Chair of The Intrepid Foundation in 2017.

"Growth is nice on its own, but it's this sense of Purpose that has us excited about the future because it means the more we grow, the more we can do".

The Intrepid Foundation, the Intrepid Group's not-for-profit also marked a record year in 2017, raising $1M for local and international charities.

"The travel industry continues to be impacted by the social and environmental events that face our world today. While the Year of Sustainable Tourism might be officially over, it's in all our best interests that conscious travel companies do more to give back to the places and people they visit. The good news is, that it's what travellers want too'.



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