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Australian airfare prices tipped to fall

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“Things are going to get better,” Flight Centre Travel Group CEO Graham Turner said on Thursday, having just returned from a whirlwind business trip to New York and London. “Capacity is starting to return and by early 2023, fares are coming down for long haul to Europe and the United States.”The return of the Chinese carriers like China Southern and China Eastern – expected in the first half of next year – will also stimulate competition. “Only about 5 per cent of Flight Centre’s business is with the Chinese airlines, but they are very competitive and tend to drive down price,” Mr Turner said.A China Southern flight pictured at Adelaide airport pre-pandemic.  Simon CassonJust note that Early Bird fares to the Northern Hemisphere are already rising again for travel during 2023 Australian school holidays.Which brings us to packaged deals and group tours. Intrepid travellers rarely rejoice at the idea of tours: But this model is coming into its own as the nation rides out ongoing capacity-restraint and high prices.By bundling holidays – be it a cruise & fly deal, or packaged tour – operators can draw on wholesale airfares purchased at scale, with the price locked in months ahead.Take family-owned Bunnik Travel Group, based in South Australia, which offers a range of international trips, such as the 21-day “Jewels of Dalmatia” tour to Croatia and Slovenia, for $11,295 per person from April next year.For a maximum of 20 people, the price includes economy return airfares ex-Australia, plus all accommodation, transport, guided tours, and tips.“Operators like us have been dealing in wholesale airfares for years, so the relationships are there,” said joint CEO Dennis Bunnik. He adds that the company only uses major carriers such as Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways and Emirates.Slovenia’s famed Lake Bled is part of Bunnik Tours’ “Jewels of Dalmatia” 21-day tour with flights included. iStockEven coming into the Northern Hemisphere’s busy June-August season, the price of the tour doesn’t rise as steeply as airfares alone. And travellers on the Bunnik tours can opt to arrive early or stay on in Europe after the tour.“People generally want flexibility, so if guests want to capitalise on the good airfares we can secure, but they also want a few weeks to do their own thing either side of the tour, then no problem, we’ll accommodate that.“Somewhat ironically given the situation at home, we actually don’t include airfares with the domestic tours we operate in South Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania,” Mr Bunnik said, adding that the number of Australians booking interstate travel remained strong despite the high airfares; however, fewer international guests were making enquiries.Another Australian operator, Luxury Escapes, is currently offering four nights for two people at Hamilton Island’s four-star Reef View Hotel overlooking the Coral Sea, priced from $2279 including flights from Sydney (with Virgin) – for travel from January to August 2023. Breakfast, free Wi-Fi and other inclusions are part of the deal.Given flights from Sydney to Hamilton Island return from late January come in at around $550 per person at the cheapest, rising to well over $800 during peak times or for a more direct route, the packaged deal is far from the worst value around.Catseye Beach at Hamilton Island   An international Luxury Escapes hotel + flights package offers two adults eight nights in four-star Katathani Phuket Beach Resort with flights ex-Australia from $3,243. The price also includes three meals a day, all taxes, and add-ons like a daily 30-minute massage per package.Search flights alone, and even Jetstar’s cheapest price for Sydney or Melbourne to Phuket is $219 one way, totalling just under $900 for two people booking return flights.“Packaging is a great way to leverage a better price because suppliers, be it airline or hotel, are often able to give a better price when you combine with other items,” said Adam Schwab, CEO and co-founder of Luxury Escapes, based in Melbourne.This is for a few reasons: “First, packaging means that the pricing of individual components is opaque, so the provider is able to offer a discount without breaking agreements with other retailers.“Secondly, sometimes airlines are owned or part-owned by a sovereign – say Qatar, Fiji or Dubai – so there is extra incentive to offer a discount on the air component of a trip if it means a traveller will spend lots of money in that country.”All-inclusive cruise offerings also leverage the model, such as Celebrity Cruises′ 7-night sailing on Celebrity Edge in Italy, France and Spain, departing on 16 September next year from Barcelona.All-inclusive cruise packages that build in flights – such as those offered by Celebrity Cruises – can present better value for money than buying flights alone.  Prices start from $3,920 per person based on twin share (for an inside stateroom) with economy flights return from Sydney. Upgrade to the ship’s exclusive restricted-access Retreat with business class flights return, priced from $19,950 per person.Rapidly shaping up as the Goliath of the travel industry, cruise companies can usually also offer a wider selection of dates and times to fly, plus the benefit of using the one booking platform.Luxury operator Silversea does an all-inclusive “door-to-door” service that comes in at $8900 per person (for an 8-day April 2024 Europe cruise), with the option to upgrade to business class flights for an extra $6000.Here’s hoping you like cruising.

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ICE London 2023 to feature exhibitors from record 68 nations – IAG

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Industry trade show ICE London will feature exhibitors from a record 68 nations, topping the previous best of 65 set three years ago, according to organizer Clarion Gaming.
ICE London returns as a full-sized show for the first time since 2020 from 7 to 9 February, with the total 623 exhibitors representing everything from Argentina to Australia and Macau to Mexico.
“No other exhibition in the gaming space can come anywhere near the internationalism of ICE,” said Clarion Gaming Managing Director, Stuart Hunter.
“To have 68 nations represented by our community of exhibitors means that visitors are immediately part of what is a global experience with unique access to the smartest gaming innovators drawn from every corner of the world. There are very few exhibitions of scale in any industry sector which are able to compare with such international representation and legitimately lay claim to being a ‘global’ or a ‘world’ event.
“Once an event is recognized as being genuinely international, stakeholder groups including brands, regulators, trade associations, media groups and strategic industry-wide bodies focus their activities accordingly.
“Research that we’ve undertaken has shown that for many people ICE and iGB Affiliate London actually start on the Sunday preceding and finish on the following Saturday. In that week we estimate that over 100 gambling industry events will take place outside of the show hours providing a new and compelling perspective on why ICE and iGB Affiliate London are so influential and important to the world industry.”
IAG will have a team of four at ICE London next week. Visit us at Stand ND7-C.

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David Ford and Annie Dressner Live in London

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There’s something special about London on a Saturday night – there’s a certain buzz in the air as you head into the Capital city. For me that buzz was extra special, as I was going to see David Ford and Annie Dressner at The Lexington in Islington. I literally listened to their ’10 Days (Live)’ album for the first time a week ago, but since then it’s been on repeat and heading in I knew that the night was going to be special.
The Lexington is a great place for music, with a bar on the ground floor before heading up the winding stairs to the spacious venue itself. And as the crowd started coming in, the atmosphere in the room was growing by the minute.
Opening the night was Scottish singer songwriter Gary Stewart. He set the night off really well, with an engaging set that got the crowd onside from the start. He opened with his 2021 single ‘Hot To Trot‘ and you already knew the set was going to be a good one – a rousing folk song with great lyrical dexterity. The highlight of the set was ‘Frontlines’, a simply gorgeous song (check out a YouTube video of the song here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDCLwYwsesk). Gary ended with a fine cover of Paul Simon’s ‘Song for the Asking’.
It was time for a quick visit to the bar before settling down for the main event. 
The duo appeared on the stage to great applause, David in an orange shirt and Annie in a sparkling black dress. They opened with ‘Easy Falling’, the first song that I’ve ever heard of theirs, and a song that convinced me I needed to listen to the rest of the album. This slow and moving number is a touching love song and shows off the brilliant harmonies of David and Annie – there’s something special about the English (David) and US accents (Annie) mingling in the way that they do. 
Throughout the set, there were so many highlights. ‘Something I’ll Have to Learn‘ is a song with an almost timeless feel that feels like a conversation in song, Annie’s original ‘Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names‘ was simply brilliant and ‘Some Folks Are Lucky I Guess‘ is a song with a great sentiment. ‘Can’t Help What I Want‘ (below) is a great example of those brilliant harmonies that the two share.

‘Trash‘, a cover of the Suede hit, was a particular highlight – a song that was a nice surprise on the live album. As they break into ‘Oh maybe, maybe it’s the clothes you wear‘ it almost feels like this was a song that Suede wrote for David and Annie, their version is that good. Outstanding.
The set had a second cover, a song that Annie introduced as ‘an American classic‘. This classic was ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You‘ from Chas and Dave, a song that typified the cockney sound of London back in the 1980’s. I love the way they re-worked it and there was something special about the way Annie sings the word ‘Darling’ in her US twang that just resonated and put a smile on my face.
There were great moments of humour throughout the night, the chat between the two great. At one point mid-song, Annie passed her guitar to David, exclaiming ‘I knew there were chords in this song, I just didn’t know which ones‘ which had the crowd laughing.
The best of the night was saved till last. ‘Warning Sign’ had quickly become my favourite song from the pair and hearing it live in person lived up to all expectations. There’s such a beauty in live music, and hearing songs like this with other people in a venue can really bring a song home – and almost even change your own personal relationship with a song.
The final song of the night (there was no encore as David explained that they literally had no more songs!) was ‘Put Me In A Corner’. Annie’s vocals take the lead in this track and it was just magical, the emotion of the song emanating from the stage and filling the room. You can listen and see for yourself below.

You never know what to expect when you see an artist or artists perform for the first time. Some exceed expectations and some just don’t hit the heights you expect. In David Ford and Annie Dressner, it was definitely the former. The gig was stripped back – just two people on a stage creating a moment. And what a moment it was.
Annie and David and reviewer Nick Cantwell
Check out their websites and hit and follow the social links!
http://www.dressnerford.com/

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http://anniedressner.com/
***Note – I need to say a word about the audience for the gig. The audience was impeccable, with barely any talking at all at any point (apart from whispered orders at the bar). Credit goes to Gary, Annie and David, who managed to grab the audience from the start, but also to everyone there. If you were there yourself, give yourself a high five!***
Review written by Nick Cantwell (instagram.com/nickcantwellmanagement)
 
 
 


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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties – Church Times

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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties  Church Times

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