AUGUST 2023 ISSUE
TWO OF the travel industry’s most experienced and well-known figures have united in a partnership that promises big benefits to travel agents.
Rediscover Travel Group is the brainchild of Chris Watson and Walter Nand, who is coming onboard as the General Manager.
In an exclusive interview with Traveltalk, Mr Nand said the company would be run “by travel agents for travel agents”.
“We know that coming out of COVID, there’s a big gap in the market and a lot of agents are struggling to find where they can buy product from.
“What we will guarantee is that our products will be great quality and great pricing. It won’t always be the cheapest pricing, but we guarantee the delivery.
“We know that most travel agencies around the country are struggling for staff and they’re overworked. So, we want to make is as easy as possible for travel agents.”
Walter Nand (second from right) with agents and guests during a recent trip to Fiji to promote Rediscover Travel
Mr Nand has more than 35 years’ experience in the travel industry, having worked in England and Canda before moving to Australia where he joined APT, MSC and Avalon before setting up Unique Cruises.
His move to Rediscover Travel takes him full circle, as one of the first destinations the company will be selling is Fiji, where he was raised.
“There’s so much that is happening in Fiji right now with so many new builds coming on.
“What I’m really excited about is that there’s a lot of new infrastructure going into Vanua Levu with new hotels coming up. So, for Australians who know Fiji really well, we will have a lot more options for them over the next few years.”
Pushed to disclose what future destinations might appear within the Rediscover portfolio, Mr Nand revealed to Traveltalk that several options are being considered.
“As we go through next year, you’ll see a much bigger, broader offering. We’ve got some great stuff in the U.S. and in Europe around our river cruising products.
“But one of the things I’m really excited about will be in South East Asia based around our wellness programs. We’ll have some great options where you’ll be able to fly over there and spend anywhere from four days to three weeks in total rejuvenation mode.”
Despite his longevity in travel, Mr Nand is looking forward to the challenge of getting Rediscover Travel in front of the Australian trade. He also sees a bright future for travel.
“A lot of what I’m doing now is what I have done for bigger companies over the years, so it’s nice to be able to come back and do it for myself.
“We’re getting there in our recovery from COVID but we’re not there yet. There are some travel agents out there and some wholesalers even that are still struggling to get through, because forward bookings don’t pay today’s bills.
“So, if we can get over the next few months, then I think travel will really take off.”
Rediscover Travel has appointed three new directors: Andrew Minto (Home & Afar Travel), Lauren Howard (How We Travel) and Narelle Cook (Next Travels), who will join Rediscover Travel Group founder Chris Watson (Chris Watson Travel).
The Rediscover team plan to highlight gaps in the market and areas of frustration experienced in their individual businesses. Rediscover will research these challenges and find solutions that will then be rolled out to the greater travel agency/advisor community.
All four individuals will continue to work within and operate their individual, successful, retail travel agency businesses while providing invaluable insights and experience to Rediscover Travel.
TOURISM GETS $200 MILLION GREEN LIGHT
THE FIJIAN government has just given the green light to a $US200 million (approx. $AU294m) project to boost its tourism industry.
In an exclusive interview with Traveltalk, Mr David Kolitagane, Fiji’s High Commissioner to Australia, said the loan from the World Bank would initially go towards building infrastructure on Vanua Levu, the country’s second largest island.
“This was just passed in parliament last week,” he told Traveltalk. “The majority of the funding is going into infrastructure – building roads, supplying water and other facilities. This is designed to support private investment in the tourism sector on Vanua Levu.”
It is understood that several large hotel chains have already committed to building properties on the largely underdeveloped island once facilities are in place.
According to a press release issued by the World Bank, the move will benefit at least 60,000 Fijians and create 30 locally managed marine areas. There are three main projects planned over the next 10 years to help Fiji deliver its vision for more sustainable, inclusive and resilient tourism across the country.
“This World Bank-funded program will also help to increase Fiji’s marketability both domestically and internationally, while adopting a community-centred approach to ensure the sustainable management of our precious local resources,” said the Hon. Biman Prasad, Deputy Prime Minister of Fiji and Minister of Finance.
“This will make travel to and from Vanua Levu more affordable, accessible and convenient.”
When asked if he was concerned at the potential damage such extensive works might cause, Mr Kolitagane said there were protections in place to preserve the environment, the culture and people of Vanua Levu.
The High Commissioner’s comments came as Fiji Airways launched its inaugural direct service from Canberra to Nadi last week. Mr Kolitagane described it as “a special and historic occasion” for Fiji and Australia to strengthen their bilateral relations.
“This new twice weekly service from Fiji Airways is not only bridging the distance between Fiji and Australia and the capital, but also building a stronger bond between the two governments and the people of Fiji as well as in the Pacific.
“Through this increased connectivity we will enhance cultural exchange, boost tourism and strengthen trade relationships and promote growth, especially for a small island state like Fiji.”
PERTH GETS A ROUTE BOOST
CATHAY PACIFIC will be increasing flight capacity between Perth and Hong Kong to meet growing international travel demand.
In addition to boosting its services from three to five flights per week from December 6, the airline will further build capacity between the two ports by upgrading the services to larger Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in place of the Airbus A350-900.
This additional commitment sees the airline provide a total of 61,152 additional seats between Perth and Hong Kong per year.
“This increased connectivity from Western Australia to Hong Kong and beyond will be a huge boost to international tourism, business travel, those visiting friends and family, overseas students and demand for WA exports,” said Sandeep Pillay, Cathay Pacific Acting Regional Head of Southwest Pacific.
The additional services will be operated using Boeing 777-300ERs, which have a total of 294 seats, including 59 fully flat business class seats, 34 premium economy seats and 201 economy seats.
CAN YOU GET A FULL HOUSE?
TTC TOUR Brands has launched its ‘Full House’ seasonal sales incentive for agents to win a spot on an exclusive famil to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The incentive awards nine agents each week and invites them to play the TTC ‘Full House’ game live within the TTC Tour Brands Australia agent Facebook Group.
Agents have the chance to win one of six Aussie spots up for grabs on the Bosnia and Herzegovina famil departing in October 2023 by turning over one of the winning cards.
All other cards are also prizes, so each top seller will be awarded in the weekly Full House game. The incentive runs until August 25.