Camping Camp Tent Beach

Holidaymakers ditching fancy hotels for tents, new data shows

MORE Australians than ever before are choosing to holiday in a caravan or go camping, new data shows.

The new figures from Tourism Research Australia show national overnight camping and caravan trips reached 12.3 million for the year ending June 2018.

It’s the first time ever that overnight trips have exceeded 12 million in a 12 month period.

Total nights spent caravanning and camping around the country also increased by 6.5 percent to reach a record 52.8 million nights for the year ending June 2018.

The new data also revealed over 6.3 million Australians who chose to go caravaning or camping in the last 12 months also spent money in local restaurants or cafes, boosting the economy.

A further 4.2 million stopped at the beach, while 4.1 million went sightseeing in the local area.

The figures also highlighted the increasing interest in caravanning and camping among the younger generations, with more and more people aged in their 20s ditching hotels for tents.

The number of caravan and camping trips taken by people aged 20-29 in the 12 months to June this year increased by 22 percent to surpass 2.2 million.

Airport Terminal

Airport workers to protest around Australia today

Anyone catching a plane to or from five of Australia’s major airports today are being warned they may experience some disruptions, with hundreds of airport workers set to protest over poor pay and conditions.

Tuesday’s planned protests are part of a global day of action by airport workers across the world.

It comes following the release of The Transport Workers’ Union report to the Productivity Commission, which shows low standards are impacting on aviation safety and security.

According to the union, protesters will demand an end to “forced part-time hours that see workers rostered to work as few as three hours a day and just 60 hours a month.”

“Coupled with this, low pay and split shifts are forcing some workers to sleep at airports,” The TWU says.

The report calls on the Federal Government to mandate that airports and airlines take responsibility for labour standards in their supply chains.

To plan ahead, here are the times and locations of the protests taking place at Australian airports today:

Sydney                     9:30am, international terminal arrivals

Melbourne               11:00am, Virgin domestic arrivals

Brisbane                  11:00am, domestic terminal between Qantas & Virgin

Adelaide                  10.30am, airport main entrance

Perth                        10:00am, domestic terminal

Qantas plane (new logo)

Queensland secures first Qantas pilot training academy

Exciting news for aspiring pilots in Queensland today, with it being revealed that Toowoomba will be home to a new Qantas pilot training academy set to open in mid-2019.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk joined Qantas at Wellcamp Airport for the announcement of the Academy this morning.

It’s understood the aviation training school will have capacity to train up to 250 pilots a year and create up to 160 jobs in training and support roles.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the airport, state and local government, and the community had demonstrated that Toowoomba would make a great home for the first Qantas Group Pilot Academy site.

“Qantas has a well-earned reputation of having some of the world’s best pilots. For many of them, the journey will start right here in Toowoomba,” Mr Joyce said.

“Toowoomba will be an amazing place to learn to fly. It’s home to Australia’s newest airport and offers over 300 days of Queensland sunshine each year and an environment that is textbook for pilot training.”

Mr Joyce said the company has already had thousands of students express their interest in moving to Toowoomba for the pilot training.

“In partnership with the Queensland Government and the Wagner Corporation, who own the airport, we’ll build state-of-the-art training facilities and student accommodation. What we’re ultimately creating is a world-class pilot school for students from Australia and around the globe,” he said.

Toowoomba is the first of two locations chosen from a shortlist of nine regional cities, with Alice Springs, Bendigo, Busselton, Dubbo, Launceston, Mackay, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga still under consideration for the second academy site.

According to Qantas, selection criteria includes access to uncongested airspace, a high proportion of clear weather days per year, access to support infrastructure and ability to attract students and trainers to live in the area.

Construction of the Academy’s new facilities at Wellcamp Airport will begin next month with the first students to commence training in mid-2019.

So far, more than 18,000 people have already registered their interest in the Academy via qantas.com/pilotacademy.

Travel Airport

Welfare debt dodgers to face overseas travel bans

Anyone owing money to Centrelink and other Government agencies could be prevented from travelling overseas in a bid to recover millions of dollars in welfare debts.

150,000 Australians owe the Government around $800 million because they were overpaid or received welfare fraudulently.

The Government has already stopped a number of people from leaving the country with more than 20 Departure Prohibition Orders issued.

Human Services Minister Michael Keenan says they will target people who consistently refuse to pay back money owed.

“It’s very important people repay money to the Australian taxpayer,” Mr Keenan said.

“The money that funds the welfare system has been earned by hardworking Austalians and they expect us to make sure that system operates with integrity, that people get the support that they need and that they’re not getting more out of the system than they’re entitled to.”

Mr Keenan says the travel bans will only be issued for large debts where efforts to recoup the money have previously failed.

One person from New South Wales was stopped from travelling overseas for business because of an outstanding $10,000 debt.

The measure has previously been used to target parents who have refused to meet child welfare payments but is now being extending.

Interest payments will also be added to unpaid debts.

Thailand

Direct flights between Gold Coast and Thailand on the horizon

Hello Thailand vacation!

Direct flights between the popular holiday spot and the Gold Coast could soon become a reality, with Mayor Tom Tate meeting with Thailand’s Tourism and Sport Minister on Tuesday to talk about the potential route.

“I’ve presented the idea of encouraging a direct flight link, from either Phuket or Bangkok, to the Gold Coast,” Mayor Tate said.

“The feedback was positive and I’ve now left it with Paul Donovan, chair of Destination Gold Coast, to progress.”

Mayor Tate said that Thai Minister Weerasak Kowsurat agreed that a direct air link would boost tourism for both destinations, with Thai Air Asia considered as the ideal airline for the flights due to its “competitive fares” and “modern fleet”.

It’s understood the Mayor spruiked the Gold Coast as a sports training and events destination, as well as our “obvious shared tourism appeal.”

It comes after the Mayor was in Phuket to sign the first agreement between the Gold Coast and Phuket, as the two destinations look to formalise a Sister Cities relationship.

You can read more about the exciting new international partnership here.