Arrivals & Departures Weekly Travel News & Views 30 January 2024

Calico owners Pat and Pauly in Hakuba.

Things are looking up, with cheaper air fares, record visitors, new openings and southern Europe coming to Subi, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield explores another week in Travel


Economy international airfares out of Australia fell by 12.9 per cent in the second half of 2023, according to the team at Flight Centre’s corporate divisions, Corporate Traveller and FCM Travel.

They have been tracking fares and compared the cost with the same period in 2022 — revealing an average saving of $280 per ticket.

Flight Centre Corporate reports that, during the same period, business class fares fell by 7.99 per cent (saving $834) and first class by 8.02 per cent (saving $1282).


Australians have been spending up big in the UK, with VisitBritain saying that in 2023 we exceeded pre-pandemic travel spending by 25 per cent. A spokesperson for this national marketing organisation confirms: “Australia has seen strong recovery and growth, with the market forecast to be worth almost $2.9 billion to the UK economy in 2023 — a growth of 25 per cent compared to 2019 in nominal terms. VisitBritain chief executive Patricia Yates adds: “We want more destinations across Britain to feel tourism’s economic benefits.” The focus is on vibrant cities, contemporary culture and the coast and countryside.


There’s a new Uber pick-up zone right outside the Qantas terminal building (T3) at Sydney domestic airport. Members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program will earn one Qantas Point per $1 spent on the final cost of an eligible ride.


We’re clearly a romantic lot. Australians are reported to have spent $485 million to celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2023 (up 16.9 per cent on 2022) — with a proportion of that spent on getaways. And the folks at Nikon offer a colourful suggestion as a gift for much-loved travellers in 2024. The Nikon Z fc with its Nikkor Z 16-50mm lens, comes in “a number of different colourways”, silver-based coral pink, crimson red and “black based Bordeaux red”. Its recommended price is $1699.


A true Panama hat will keep its shape. And my eye has fallen on a hat which is hand woven in Ecuador from toquilla fibre, finished and trimmed in Slovakia by Mayser Hats, and sold for $180 by David Morgan in Australia. (There are a lot of other good hats on the website.) The vented Panama has a Fedora shape and the toquilla fibre is lightly bleached. Each hat is unique.


Reader Jane Fromont spotted my reference to a natural mosquito repellent in a recent edition, and writes to suggest Sandfly and Mozzie Stuff by The Locals. Jane says: “I have been using it for years and it both repels mosquitoes and sandflies and also soothes the bites. I find it in health stores all over the place and it’s not expensive.”

Susy Griffiths created Sandfly and Mozzie Stuff and started The Locals business in 2005 — after moving to Point Samson in 2003 and being besieged by sandflies and mosquitoes. She says: “When the easterly breeze stopped and the spring tides arrived I discovered the sinister side of Point Samson; the reason that drove tourists out of town and sent even the hardiest of residents to the safety behind closed windows and doors. Arghh! Sandflies and mosquitoes. It was douse up in repellent or die.” But she was concerned about the chemicals and drew on her knowledge of aromatherapy products to develop her own natural repellent.


Calico restaurant has been a success in Bali — and now Australian-born best friends Pat Berrell and Pauly Bacchetto (pictured at the top of the page) have taken it to Japan. There are new Calico restaurants in the mountains of Hakuba and Myoko which are within walking distance of the slopes and onsens. And they promise the same blend of “high-energy vibes and bold flavours”. Pat and Pauly share a love of “riding sideways” on snow, waves and concrete (snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding) — and that active lifestyle led them to think up tasty treats from breakfast to late at night.


Marina Bay Sands will put an additional $1.1 billion into next phase of its hotel transformation in Singapore. The money will go into Hotel Tower 3, the hotel lobby, Sands SkyPark — and brings the reinvestment program total to $2.65b.

A Marina Bay Sands spokesperson says the huge investment will “meaningfully enhance the tourism appeal of Singapore in the decades ahead”. Expect premium dining and shops, a lobby transformation and a renewed focus on wellness experiences. More than 550 rooms, including about 380 suites, will be introduced in this phase, expected to be completed in 2025.


The 110-room Hilton Garden Inn Busselton is the third Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Australia. Near the jetty, on the shores of Geographe Bay, 54 rooms have ocean views and 40 of those have balconies. Rooms have sofa beds for bigger groups.


Subi Spritz returns to Perth this March, with its 10-day program featuring southern Europe. From March 8-17, Subiaco’s streets will have pop-up alfresco-dining restaurants, daily aperitivo hour, venues featuring European wine and food and a cinema under the stars. There will be more than 25 European-themed events across the 10 days.


Reader Graham Stewart has (rightly) pulled me up on a current issue. He writes: “Enjoy your articles ... however, I was concerned with the picture of charging with a power board, showing the lead from the plug to your power board looped and tied up. My understanding is the normal cable ratings assume that a straight wire can adequately disperse heat generated in the cable due to the current flowing freely. However, if you loop and tie it up, restricting current flow, and use close to the maximum rating then it stands a good chance of melting the plastic insulation and then causing a short.” Quite right, Graham — my apologies. I keep the power board cable rolled when it’s in Casey (my faithful suitcase), then straighten when using it. In this instance, I just set it up quickly for that picture. But now that Graham points it out, I should have uncoiled it. I promised Graham I would “straighten this out” so no one get inflamed. My apologies.