Industry movements: DNSW, Oceanwide Expeditions, Bench Africa and more!

Industry movements: DNSW, Oceanwide Expeditions, Bench Africa and more!

There are some pretty high flyers in this week’s round-up of industry appointments, and it’s not just because they catch a lot of flights.

New chair for Destination NSW

Sally Loane (featured image) has been announced as the new chairperson of Destination NSW, with Minister for Tourism Ben Franklin thanking outgoing chair Christine McLoughlin AM.

Loane is a highly experienced non-executive director who serves on the boards of Chubb Insurance Australia, Venues NSW and Pankind, the Australian Pancreatic
Cancer Research Foundation.

From 2014-2021, Loane was the CEO of the Financial Services Council, is currently on the Advisory Board of Orizontas, is a trustee for Sydney’s Hyde Park ANZAC Memorial, a global ambassador for Business Events Sydney and a member of chief executive women.

Oceanwide Expeditions appoints new CEO

Oceanwide Expeditions’ CEO Clemens Van der Werf

Oceanwide Expeditions’ board of directors has appointed Clemens Van der Werf as chief executive officer.

Van der Werf is a results-driven executive with over 20 years of leading and building international businesses and has broad experience in the (expedition) travel, yachting, maritime, shipping and private aviation industries.

He served as president & CEO of companies dedicated to dealing with high-end customers and focused on creating first-class customer experiences.

Merlin Entertainment appoints Scott M O’Neil as CEO

Merlin Entertainment CEO Scott M O’Neil

Merlin Entertainments has announced the appointment of 25-year sports and entertainment industry veteran Scott M. O’Neil as chief executive officer.

O’Neil will be responsible for overseeing the business operations and global growth for Merlin Entertainments across its 147 attractions in 24 countries. O’Neil’s appointment comes following outgoing CEO Nick Varney’s decision to retire after 23 years.

O’Neil was most recently CEO for Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE), a portfolio of sports, entertainment, and investment properties, where he oversaw more than $2bn growth in enterprise value, from $415m to $2.5bn, through his focus on talent, culture, and guest experience.

Andy Kirkman named Bench Africa’s new trade relations manager 

Andy Kirkman, Bench Africa’s new trade relations manager

Andy Kirkman joins Bench Africa following a 2-year hiatus from the industry due to COVID.

Previously Adventure World head of sales, Kirkman has been welcomed into the Bench ‘pride’ to shape and ultimately spearhead the company’s sales strategy as they chart their way forward out of the pandemic with trade partners as their core focus.

Intrepid’s new chief technology officer 

Anu Karunatilaka Intrepid Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

Intrepid Travel has announced the appointment of Anu Karunatilaka as chief technology officer (CTO), in a new role that will lead digital transformation across the company’s global operations.

Having been with Intrepid for 15 years, Karunatilaka’s knowledge and expertise will be critical in delivering leading technology to customers post-pandemic and supporting business growth. The new role has been created to effectively implement Intrepid’s latest 2025 Digital Transformation Strategy across all functions of the business.

Karunatilaka will continue to be based in Colombo but will travel frequently to Melbourne and other regional centres. He will be responsible for the design, development, security, delivery, and management of technology to support Intrepid’s business needs and growth strategies.

He will commence in the new role starting December.

Discova appoints James Munro as global director of product

James Munro, Discova’s new head of product

Global destination management company, Discova has appointed James Munro as global director of product, replacing Susan Ogden, who is moving to Flight Centre Travel Group’s (FCTG) wholesale brand GOGO Vacations as their new executive vice president.

With over 25 years of senior leadership experience, Munro joins Discova from Ignite Travel Group, where more recently he held the position of product development director.

Based out of Queensland, Munro will be responsible for Discova’s end-to-end product capabilities, from procurement and design and development to distribution and will commence his role on 28 November 2022.

Latest News

  • Tourism

Tour Guides Australia backs Queensland Government Department of Tourism’s $2 million business capability subsidy

Tour Guides Australia has offered its full support for the Queensland Government Department of Tourism and Sport’s $2 million Tourism Business Capability Subsidy. The subsidy program is designed to boost the growth of Queensland’s tourism industry, offering up to $2,000 per eligible business to undertake targeted training and accreditation programs. “It is a significant opportunity […]

  • Tourism

Club Med Musandam is newest addition to the resort group and a first for the Middle East

Club Med has announced the newest addition to its Exclusive Collection portfolio with the opening of Club Med Musandam, the first Club Med resort in the Middle East. Set to be unveiled in 2028, the development of Club Med Musandam marks a significant investment milestone, surpassing the $100 million mark. A ground-breaking development as a […]

  • Luxury
  • Products

Louis Vuitton champions travel in campaign featuring Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Louis Vuitton has relaunched its iconic Core Values Campaign with a new chapter that sees tennis champions Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Shot by industry legend Annie Leibovitz, the campaign features the tennis icons summiting a mountain together in the Dolomites of Italy with the tagline ‘There are Journeys that turn into Legends’. Together, they […]

  • Aviation

Garuda and Singapore Airlines to offer reciprocal benefits to frequent flyers, plus explore revenue sharing arrangements

Garuda Indonesia and Singapore Airlines will deepen their commercial partnership and offer reciprocal benefits to their frequent flyer program members, plus explore revenue sharing arrangements for flights between Indonesia and Singapore, subject to regulatory approvals.  The frequent flyer program agreement was signed by Garuda Indonesia CEO Irfan Setiaputra and SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong in […]

  • Hotels

My Fiji announce an exclusive deal with new Crowne Plaza Fiji Nadi Bay Resort & Spa

My Fiji have announced an exclusive deal with the new Crowne Plaza Fiji Nadi Bay Resort & Spa, Fiji’s newest premium resort experience, offering exclusive packages for a limited time. Situated along the shores of Wailoaloa Beach, the resort offers 324 modern rooms, immersive amenities and world-renowned Fijian hospitality, Crowne Plaza Fiji Nadi Bay Resort […]

  • Cruise

Sydney Swans greats announced for Crown Princess cruise

Princess Cruises has partnered with the Sydney Swans to offer fans the first-ever AFL Member cruise aboard Crown Princess. This four-night voyage to Tasmania departs January 25, 2025 and guests will be able to immerse themselves in a once-in-a-lifetime Sydney Swans experience featuring special events and activities dedicated to fans. The cruise will feature Sydney […]

  • Destinations

Listening to whales, followed by Ales and Prawn Tails on the Sunshine Coast

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is preparing to welcome more than 40,000 humpback whales that are making their way up the Australian east coast on their annual migration. The Sunshine Coast is one of Australia’s premier whale tourism destinations, built on its long-established whale watching cruises and Sunreef’s pioneering Swim with Whales experience, which celebrates its 10th […]

  • Aviation
  • Travel Agents

Webjet relaunches partnership with AirAsia with a huge Asia flights sale

Online travel agency Webjet has have relaunched their partnership with AirAsia with a huge Asia flights sale, available until 2 June. To give customers a greater breadth of choice and price point, hundreds of new flight options to Aussie favourite destinations have been added, including Bali, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok via AirAsia, AirAsiaX, Thai AirAsia […]

  • Luxury

Why luxury clients are opting for immersive experiences over material items

The Luxury Travel Collection’s (LTC) inaugural business owners Soiree took place on Hayman Island last week. The event saw luxury leaders gathering to find out more about the key trends shaping the industry. The Immersion Day, held on Thursday 16 May 2024, followed the growing luxury client trend of valuing immersive experiences over material items. […]

  • Conferences

Empowering underserved communities: Expedia Group’s drive for more inclusive travel

Expedia Group has used the EXPLORE conference at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas to highlight initiatives that empower underserved communities worldwide.   In a groundbreaking move towards fostering diversity and inclusion within the travel industry, Expedia’s Global Social Impact and Sustainability Team is dedicated to shaping a travel landscape that is safe, welcoming, and accessible […]

  • Cruise

P&O rescues Rotary volunteers after collapse of Air Vanuatu

P&O Cruises Australia has answered a plea for help from a group of young Australian Rotary volunteers, stranded in Vanuatu following the collapse of Air Vanuatu. The students, many of them teenagers from Albury, NSW, were volunteering for a youth project run by the Hive Rotary Club Australia when the airline abruptly cancelled all flights, […]

  • Destinations

Intrepid continues expansions with launch of first DMC in Jordan

Intrepid has increased its presence in the Middle East with the opening of its first destination management company in Jordan. Based in Amman, the local team will operate Intrepid’s range of nine experiential small group tours in Jordan from this summer, with a view to expanding the range for 2025 and beyond. Zina Bencheikh, managing […]

  • Appointments

Minor hotels appoints Puneet Dhawan to key Asia role

Global hotel owner and operator Minor Hotels has appointed Puneet Dhawan as head of Asia as the group plots its growth in Asia and India. From July, Dhawan will be responsible for the performance of all Minor Hotels properties in Asia, working in close collaboration with the Minor Hotels senior leadership team and will report […]

  • Appointments

Abercrombie & Kent and Crystal appoint Evon Ler to director of sales, Asia

Abercrombie & Kent Travel Group have announced that Evon Ler will join them in the new role of director of sales, Asia. She will work closely with Tony Archbold (VP, Sales, APAC, Crystal) and Susan Haberle (VP, Sales & Partnerships, APAC, A&K) with trade support across the region. Ler comes to the A&K family with more […]