SOUTH Pacific tourism leader Jo Tuamoto died yesterday in Fiji, with the industry hailing his extensive achievements to build the travel sector and resulting economic prosperity in both Fiji and the Solomon Islands.
The shock news was announced by Tourism Solomons board Chairman, Chris Hapa, who said his team was devastated at the loss of Tuamoto who had led the organisation since 2013, heading up many initiatives including the Solomon Is. branding which “truly positioned us as a force to be reckoned with on the international tourism stage”.
Prior to joining Tourism Solomons, Tuamoto had played a leading role in the Fiji tourism sector, including as MD of Blue Lagoon Cruises and then with Tourism Fiji, initially as Regional Director Australia and The Americas and then as global CEO where he championed the successful “Fiji Me” branding.
He was also Deputy Chair of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation and had acted as a senior consultant to governments and major businesses across the South Pacific region.
He was a graduate in physics and mathematics from the University of the South Pacific, and had undertaken management studies at the University of Wales, Harvard, Wharton and the University of Hawai’i.
Tuamoto had recently experienced a medical episode in Honiara, and was undergoing care in Suva when he died.
He is survived by his wife, four children and one grandchild.
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FORMER Bench Africa GMs Martin Edwards and Cameron Neill have combined forces to launch their own travel business.
Dubbed The Explorer Society, the fledgling operator will begin by offering “a range of tailored explorations in a variety of travel styles throughout Africa, the Middle East and South America,” according to Edwards, who with unlucky timing resigned from Bench to take up a new role just a week before the onset of the pandemic (TD 06 Mar 2020).
Neill succeeded him at Bench but stepped down earlier this year (TD 22 Jan), with the pair now focusing together on “developing modern and innovative ways to travel and to ensure smooth and seamless journeys for the post pandemic traveller”.
The Explorer Society is launching now in preparation for the expected 2022 boom, to capitalise on enormous pent-up demand from consumers.
“We want to use our lengthy travel experience to bring the fun back into travel,” Edwards and Neill said, foreshadowing the addition of further destinations to The Explorer Society portfolio along with “a range of utterly unique exploration experiences from around the world”.
The company will aim to avoid the crowds and manufactured experiences, focusing on “the real, the raw and the revealing”.
“Looking for positives, the pandemic has given us a great chance to do something new and look at what we think could be improved,” Neill said.
“This is our opportunity to do things our way and to explore destinations with all of their elements, its nuances and its lessons,” he added.
For more information see theexplorersociety.com.
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EXPEDIA Group has today announced it will expand its loyalty program to offer “unique member pricing discounts” and the ability to earn and redeem rewards across all of its brands and products worldwide.
The initiative will cover sites including Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Travelocity, Vrbo and Wotif, and span flights, hotels, car rentals, vacation homes, cruises and activities, the company said, claiming the move sees it provide “the most complete travel rewards offering in the industry”.
Expedia Brands President, Jon Gieselman, said the company’s Member Only Deals and loyalty rewards had already saved customers almost US$10 billion on travel alone.
“Soon their current rewards will be even more valuable, as they will gain access to the world of Expedia Group through one consolidated, easy-to-use program,” he promised.
Expedia benefits already in place include member pricing, reward boosters and upgrades and amenities offered at thousands of properties worldwide.
The unified program, to roll out in the coming months, will continue to be free to join, and all current members will keep earning rewards through their existing programs, with the addition of more flexibility and value in the future.
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THE travel sector is experiencing a spike in the number of new phishing attacks, according to American cyber security company Palo Alto Networks.
In the company’s Phishing eager travellers report, the data noted a rise in the number of travel-themed phishing URLs created between Oct 2019 and Aug 2021, with the most noticeable spike occurring in Jun of this year.
Commenting on the findings contained in the report, co-author Anna Chung claimed cyber criminals are seeking to monetise data such as credit card numbers stolen from travellers through phishing schemes by selling them on the dark web, or to conduct more theft by reselling airline or hotel loyalty points, or making fraudulent travel bookings.
One of the key ways cyber criminals have been carrying out their activities is by using key terms in travel like “airline” and “vacation”, creating a gateway to fool consumers into downloading the infostealer Dridex from tainted Dropbox links.
Google Cloud Storage has also been used to distribute malware to travel companies as well.
Palo Alto noted over 6,000 new fake URLs are created every day.
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P&O Cruises has been forced to cancel its planned upcoming summer season of Melbourne voyages, which is “no longer feasible to deliver” due to ongoing uncertainty about a cruise restart.
The cruise line has also extended its pause in operations for departures from Sydney and Brisbane by a further month until mid-Jan, to give guests greater confidence in planning their Christmas and New Year holidays.
The voluntary suspension now applies to cruises leaving up to 14 Jan 2022 for Brisbane, and 18 Jan 2022 for Sydney.
P&O Australia President Sture Myrmell said “unfortunately we are not yet clear on the requirements from governments and public health authorities for a phased return of domestic cruising, but we remain hopeful these conversations will gather pace now there is real momentum around society reopening”.
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NICOLE Regel was today announced as the new local Senior Director for Sabre, overseeing the Sabre Travel Solutions agency business across Australia, NZ and the Pacific.
Regel has been with the company since 2018, and her expanded role will also see her continuing to oversee Sabre’s relationship with the Flight Centre Travel Group.
Her industry career has also included six years at Virgin Australia, as well as positions at CT Connections, Creative Holidays and Explore Holidays.
She takes over from Sabre’s Director Southern Region, Richard Morgan, who is now undertaking special projects for the firm prior to his retirement early in 2022.
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NORWEGIAN Cruise Line this morning unveiled some of the “numerous cruise industry firsts” which will feature aboard its new Norwegian Prima when she debuts next year.
Innovations include a venue that transforms from a three-storey theatre into a Vegas-style nightclub, the largest racetrack at sea and The Drop, described as the world’s first “freefall dry slide” where guests experience an exhilarating 10-storey plunge.
Entertainment will include Summer: The Donna Summer Musical tracing the rise of the Queen of Disco as well as Tee Time, a supercharged version of mini golf, the Improv at Sea comedy club and much more.
More details in today’s issue of Cruise Weekly.
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SEALINK Travel Group has confirmed the acquisition of boutique Perth coach tour operator Swan Valley Tours, further expanding the company’s footprint in WA after the recent $85 million purchase of Go West Tours (TD 07 May).
The Swan Valley deal includes three vehicles and “a strong brand that has championed tourism in the Swan Valley for over two decades,” Sealink CEO Clint Feuerherdt said.
The tours complement Sealink’s existing Captain Cook Cruises WA business which operates regular Swan Valley Wine Cruises.
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EQUESTRIAN travel specialists Snaffle Travel has joined the membership ranks of the Australian Travel Agents Co-operative (ATAC).
The company offers 19 years of travel experience, offering clients equestrian tours featuring a blend of riding, sightseeing, culture explorations and escorted tours.
Commenting on the announcement, ATAC said Snaffle’s CEO Tania Huppatz is an “experienced travel agent and horse woman”, managing trips to some of the top equestrian events around the world.
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