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Two anniversaries and many winners at NTIA gala night

July 24, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Here they are, the winners! AFTA’s National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) celebrated its 10th anniversary in style on Saturday at Sydney’s spectacular new International Convention Centre – with ladies looking glamorous and elegant, men looking dashing, and a host of winners on hand to collect their prizes.

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents’ 2017 NTIA also marked a milestone in the history of the organisation – it’s AFTA’s 60th anniversary.

Festivities started with a Greek theme as the Greece National Tourism Organisation, the arrivals sponsor, welcomed gala dinner guests. Drinks followed, then the grand ballroom – a fitting venue for the travel industry’s night of nights.


AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury and chief executive of Qantas Domestic, Andrew David, welcomed guests.

Renowned travel journalist and editor Ian McMahon was made a life member of AFTA.

Multi-awarding-winning journalist and TV personality Anjali Rao (emcee sponsor Dubai Tourism) led proceedings. Individuals and businesses across 38 award categories were recognised.

There were two categories of winner – judged and non-judged. Non-judged are chosen by popular vote. Judged are chosen by the judging panel (see at the bottom of this story for the judges’ names.)

In the non-judged Category, Virgin Australia was chosen Best Domestic Airline, which may have surprised Qantas, a major sponsor of the awards.

Saturday’s line-up of 2017 winners included Helloworld Limited, which was awarded Best Travel Agency Group for the second year running. Magellan Travel Group won Best Non-Branded Travel Agency Group and Kingscote Travel SA/NT was hailed as Australia’s favourite travel agency after receiving the most consumer votes in the People’s Choice: ATAS Retail Travel Agency of the Year Campaign.


Topdeck Travel, a Flight Centre Travel Group company brand, took out the competitive category of Best Tour Operator – International. APT won Best River Cruise Operator for yet another year along with popular favourite Royal Caribbean International, which won both Best Cruise Operator Domestic Deployment and International Deployment.

Elizabeth Hutchison from Air New Zealand won Best Sales Executive Industry Supplier for the second year running and this year a bright young star Stefania Lasek took out the 2017 Emirates Travel Consultant Scholarship.


Young Agent of the Year: Millicent Busby, Carlson Wagonlit Travel. (Judged Category.)

Best Travel Consultant – Retail: Lena Nielson, Flight Centre Sydney International Airport. (Judged Category.)

Best Travel Agent – Corporate: Alison Irwin, Stage and Screen Travel Services, NSW. (Judged Category.) 

Best Registered Travel Industry Training Institution: The Learning Collaborative (Travel Training Australia). (Judged Category.) 

Best Hotel/Resort Group: Shangri La Hotels and Resorts. (Judged Category.) 

Best Tour Operator – Domestic: Contiki. (Judged Category.) 

Best Wholesaler – Australian Product: Sunlover Holidays. (Judged Category.) 

Best Travel Agency Manager – Retail Single Location: Danny Englman, FBI Travel VIC. (Judged Category.) 

Best Travel Agency Manager – Corporate Single Location: Cherie Drummond, Corporate Travel Management NSW. (Judged Category.) 

Best Travel Agency Manager – Retail Multi Location: Stuart Ingram, Destination HQ VIC. (Judged Category.) 

Best Travel Agency Manager – Corporate Multi Location: Andre Moten, Corporate Travel Management QLD. (Judged Category.) 

Best Domestic Airline: Virgin Australia. (Non-judged Category.) 

Best Car/Campervan Rental Operator: Hertz. (Non-judged Category.) 

Best Travel Agency – Retail Single Location: FBI Travel. (Judged Category.) 

Best Travel Agency – Retail Multi Location: Phil Hoffmann Travel. (Judged Category.) 

Best Tour Operator – International: Topdeck Travel. (Judged Category.)

Best Wholesaler – International Product: Qantas Holidays & Viva Holidays. (Judged Category.) 

Best Cruise Operator – Domestic Deployment: Royal Caribbean International. (Judged Category.) 

Best Sales Executive – Industry Supplier: Elizabeth Hutchison, Air New Zealand. (Judged Category.)

Best Agency Support Service: Cover-More Travel Insurance. (Non-judged Category.) 

Best Tourist Office – International: Tourism New Zealand. (Non-judged Category.) 

Best International Airline – Offline: Finnair (Consolidated Travel). (Non-judged Category.) 

Best International Airline – Online: Emirates (for the fourth year in a row). (Non-judged Category.) 

Best River Cruise Operator: APT. (Non-judged Category.) 

Best Cruise Operator – International Deployment: Royal Caribbean International. (Judged Category.) 

Best Travel Agency – Corporate Single Location: Spencer Travel & Tourism Writer. (Judged Category.) 

Best Travel Agency – Corporate Multi Location: Goldman Travel Corporation. (Judged Category.) 

Best Business Events Travel Agency: The Events Authority. (Judged Category.) 

Best National Travel Management Company: Corporate Travel Management. (Judged Category.) 

Best Travel Agent Technology Innovation: Travel & Sports Australia. (Judged Category.) 

Best Travel Writer: Julie Miller. (Judged Category.) 

Young Sales Executive – Industry Supplier: Stephanie Ho. (Judged Category.) 

Best Online Travel Agency: TripADeal. (Judged Category.) 

Best Speciality Wholesaler: Wendy Wu Tours. (Judged Category.) 

Emirates Travel Consultant Scholarship: Stefania Lasek. (Judged Category.) 

People’s Choice: ATAS Retail Travel Agency of the Year: Kingscote Travel. (Non-judged Category.) 

Best Non-Branded Travel Agency Group: Magellan Travel Group. (Judged Category.) 

Best Travel Agency Group (50 Stores or More): Helloworld Travel. (Judged Category.)

High-energy entertainment was provided by ARIA nominee and multi-platinum selling recording artist Ricki-Lee, sponsored by Express Travel Group. She had everyone up dancing.

The attending airline sponsors delighted guests with lavish ticket give-aways. Major sponsor Qantas gave six lucky people return flights to London to experience their new Dreamliner Service. The Star Alliance network dispensed return flights for two to various international destinations thanks to alliance members Air Canada, ANA, Eva Airways, South African Airways, Thai International Airlines, Turkish Airlines and United Airlines.

Beverage Sponsor, Air New Zealand, true to its reputation, did things a little differently, providing an NTIA first – a virtual vineyard. Guests were invited to blend their own virtual wine for the chance to win one of six amazing New Zealand wine experiences to destinations famous for their world-class wine.

Finally, in true travel industry style, guests continued celebrations into the early hours of the morning at the After Party. That was provided by Singapore Airlines at The Port, Sydney’s hottest new harbourside venue.

“AFTA, together with our valued and important sponsors are very proud to have once again delivered such a spectacular event,” AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury told the audience.

The judges were: Bob Lunnon (chair), Christian Schweitzer, Donna Campbell, Gary O’Riordan, Hugh Houston, Iain Ferguson, Jeannie Foster, Julie King, Juliette Myers, Peter Collins, Richard Savva and Tim Poulter.

Written by Peter Needham

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