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Top ten ways to travel without hacking off the locals

Author David Fletcher is addicted to visiting the world’s greatest ‘off the beaten track’ locations. Africa, India, the Middle East – all places of astonishing natural beauty and remarkable culture.

So what is the biggest cause of environmental and cultural problems that he sees when travelling to these places? People who travel. People just like him. In their thousands – and all ‘off the beaten track’. Here, he reveals how to get around without upsetting the locals.

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From commissions to Koreans: ABiC debates continue

After Sydney’s successful Adventure and Backpacker Industry Conference drew to a close last Thursday, operators took the rare chance of all being in town together to arrange an extra informal meeting to further discuss some of the burning issues to have arisen from the conference.   Read more »

ATA’s tribute to the newly retired Ken Hart

Greg Zammit from Adventure Tours Australia bids farewell to his business partner of 22 years, Ken Hart, who retired two weeks ago.   Read more »

The widening gap between UK school-leavers and Australia

Tom Griffiths, founder of, argues that those students who miss out on a University place are also missing out on a gap year in Australia due to an industry system that fails them. Read more »

Tourism? But Australia’s got mining…

Scotty’s Beach House owner Boyd Scott argues Australia’s tourism industry is sinking into irrelevance while the country’s decision-makers are blinded by the mining boom.

“And don`t forget to say “G`day” to `em: you wouldn`t want to make a liar of me, now, would you?” So ended an amiable Paul Hogan Tourism Australia ad, where he told us Aussies how to treat the hordes of international tourists that he`d lured over here with his famous “Shrimp on the barbie” ad campaign.    Read more »

It’s time for tough questions and positive leadership

Destination Melbourne chief executive Chris Buckingham argues that James Packer’s uncomfortable home truths about Australia’s tourism industry should be listened to.

James Packer was strident in his views on the state of the Australian tourism industry over the weekend. One of the richest men in the country did not have a lot of good things to say.

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A little help please Julia

Honestly, I would rather eat a jar of Marmite than talk about politics so believe me when I say, this isn’t a political rant…
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Queensland fails tourism moment of truth editor Martin Kelly says Queensland has a lot to offer – but the sunshine state must face up to a few home truths.

The political thought police are back in action in Queensland – and the news is all bad for the state’s tourism industry, which needs honesty, not self-deception, in what is shaping as a pivotal period in its history.   Read more »

Beware of the beast

After returning from a holiday in the US this week, I not only came back with the post-holiday blues, but a sense of frustration about what Australia is so desperately lacking – good service.   Read more »

BOA NSW lobbies for van-packer solutions

BOA NSW president Katrina Greeves updates the industry on what the association has been doing about the thorny issue of illegal camping by backpackers.
Thanks to Thumbrella readers for sharing your local van-packer experiences and meetings with local stakeholders. I thought I’d give the industry a quick update on what we’ve been doing here in Sydney with Randwick City Council, which is turning into a very positive consultation process.   Read more »

Slow and steady wins the race

Top Deck director of global sales and strategy Lance Batty says it’s not all doom and gloom out there, but businesses must continue investing in their product ready for the day the dollar starts to fall.
After reading all the dire press out there recently, I wanted to share some good news. Our new season trips started operating post April 1. The inaugural departure of our new City, South and Outback trip headed south on April 3 from  Melbourne to Adelaide and on to Coober Pedy and Alice Springs, with a respectable 12 travellers. Not too bad for our first trip as our maximum load is 20.   Read more »

Australia – the new England

Scotty’s Beach House owner Boyd Scott explains why Australia has become the new England and how operators must accept that it is now an expensive destination to travel.

Some recent news articles in our papers and on BTN got me into a ruminative mood that culminated in a minor Eureka moment of major portent. Those of us directly involved in the Australian backpacking industry need to change mental gears and get our head around the new paradigm ASAP: we are the new England.   Read more »

Where’s the justice?

Port Campbell Hostel manager Tony McAuliffe says when it comes to user reviews, the customer is not always right.

My wife and I manage the Port Campbell Hostel, on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, which opened as a new-build facility in late 2009. It replaced a series of buildings offering backpacker-style accommodation since around 1983, which had, by all accounts, decayed past their best-before date several years ago.   Read more »

A note on our comment moderation policy

It’s very easy to let a site like this take over your life – especially when comments aren’t pre-moderated. There’s rarely a night when the last thing I do isn’t to check for something libellous, or a morning where my first task isn’t to do the same – even before I make myself a nice cup of English breakfast tea.   Read more »

Extras, extras, read all about them…

Website Travel managing director Matt McCourt expands on the all inclusive pricing discussion, a hot topic of debate, and what it means for commissions.

The question of “all inclusive” pricing stimulates another important topic, commissions.

All inclusive is the obvious thing to do when it comes to pricing; it appears the issue of commissions comes into play because operators note they will have to pay commission on “extras”.   Read more »

City vs country

Colourful Trips director and industry consultant Greg Cole says when it comes to freedom camping, the backpacking sector should choose its battles carefully.

I’d like to get some clarity on freedom camping. As I see it, there are two issues. One is parking and camping within Sydney – this is the Clover Moore story – and the other is freedom camping anywhere in Australia.   Read more »

Agent says yes, but computer says no

I may be a glutton for punishment, but last week I decided to give my local travel agent another try.

Regular readers will remember what happened the last time I tried to support my high street retailer with a commission friendly, twin-centre booking to Thailand. It wasn’t quite Little Britain, but it wasn’t far short.   Read more »

Slim chance of a sensible debate

The debate about alleged homophobia in Alice Springs currently raging on the NT News website is a good thing. The town hit the headlines last week when gay American author Armistead Maupin complained his husband was the victim of homophobic abuse from a barman in Bojangles Saloon and Restaurant in Alice Springs.   Read more »

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