The world of travel is a world of transition. Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield looks at trouble for Trivago and Uber (Boo!) while listing some big changes in travel restrictions home and abroad (Yay!)
Online booking website Trivago had been telling us that it would give us the best deal or cheapest rates available for a hotel. But it was misleading us, the Federal Court has decided, and ordered the company to pay $44.7 million in penalties. The court found that Trivago had made misleading representations about hotel room rates on its website and in television advertising, in proceedings brought by the ACCC. Trivago was using an algorithm which favoured online hotel booking sites which gave it the highest cost-per-click fee in determining which rates to highlight. Often the search result did not highlight the cheapest rates for consumers. Trivago admitted that between December 2016 and September 2019 it had received around $58 million in cost-per-click fees from clicks on offers that were not the cheapest available for a given hotel. People using the site overpaid approximately $38 million for rooms featured in those offers.
The ACCC has also instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Uber, which has admitted it breached Australian Consumer Law by making false or misleading statements in cancellation warning messages and fare estimates. Uber has agreed to make joint submissions with the ACCC to the court for penalties totalling $26 million to be imposed.
Rules for travellers seem to have been changing on a daily basis.
+ The WA Government has dropped the G2G Pass requirement for arrivals into WA altogether.
+ Vaccination requirements for interstate travellers have been removed, effective from April 29. The double dose vaccination requirement for international arrivals will continue as per Federal Government requirements.
+ WA’s requirement for unvaccinated Australian international arrivals to quarantine for seven days will continue, with a review in about four weeks.
+ Travel to remote Aboriginal communities remains restricted.
+ Under Federal Government requirements, all travellers arriving by air into Australia have to complete the Digital Passenger Declaration.
+ The Australian Government no longer requires people travelling to Australia to have a COVID-19 test before travel.
And the timing for us to unmask in WA is a real treat. As you read this, I am at the readers’ weekend in New Norcia with colleagues William Yeoman (in charge of our travel writing course), Mogens Johansen (in charge of photography) and Christine Sutherland (in charge of me).
Footloose and unmasked. Yay.
Singapore has moved to a new Vaccinated Travel Framework. If you’re fully vaccinated and flying in from WA, you can enter Singapore quarantine free. From April 26, all fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air or sea are no longer required to take a COVID-19 test before departing for Singapore. This means that fully vaccinated travellers will not require any tests to enter Singapore.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
+ The Radisson Hotel Danang has opened. This is a brand-new international “upscale” hotel, and Radisson’s debut in this vibrant Vietnamese spot. The hotel, with 182 rooms and suites, is next to My Khe Beach. It has one of the highest infinity pools in Danang — the Vivid Rooftop Bar and Pool on the 21st floor, which offers conceptual menus for lunch and dinner, sunset cocktails and a telescope for stargazing.
+ Azerai is one of South-East Asia’s most ambitious new luxury hotel groups. Azerai Ke Ga Bay, 180km east of Ho Chi Minh City, opened in November 2020, while the country’s borders were closed, and is an elegant and secluded ocean-front retreat with a 5km white sand beach. Azerai has two other resorts in Vietnam — Azerai Can RT-PCR issued within 72 hours before departure for Vietnam or a certified negative RAT test within 24 hours of departure.
OFF TO FRANCE
In less than 100 days, I’ll be on the way to France with my “old friends and new” on our Travel Club Tour in partnership with Viking. We have some time in Nice, then join the river ship Viking Heimal and visit Avignon, Arles, Viviers, Tournon and Lyon. The ship is brilliant, with a big top deck, outdoor dining at the bow and lots of “enrichment events” — local musicians coming aboard, guest lecturers, and craft and cooking demonstrations. I’ll be working in some writing and photography. And in Nice, before we board, we are preparing a special dinner, again with a chance for some unusual storytelling. We had a get-together on Wednesday evening, and the excitement is building. I’m really looking forward to it. Circumstances have freed up two cabins — see westtravelclub.com.au/tours and call 0434 704 194 if you’d like to snap one up.
When Connie White leads her small-group tour of Puglia, in southern Italy, and Sicily from May 27, 2023, she takes her new friends to the village where her parents were born, Motta Camastra. Connie says: “Here my relatives cook a traditional slow food meal, still cooked the way of my grandparents’ era. This village also featured in the Godfather movies.” Connie (“I am Sicilian! I’m married to an Englishman!”) has crafted a 25-day tour for a maximum of 25 guests. It visits a shepherd in the Modanie Mountains; the Valley of the Temples, the World Heritage site in Agrigento; the markets in Palermo to sample street food. The tour ends with a four-night stay in Taormina, by the sea, with a visit to Mt Etna. 0418 915 823 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Close to home, Cunard has announced savings on some short Queen Elizabeth voyages, including the three-night Tasmania sailing departing Melbourne on January 11, 2023, which starts from $649 per person, a saving of $38 per person on the usual price. Call a travel agent.