Austravel has said it is keen to increase its brand awareness amongst the travel trade following what has been a tough year for long-haul sales in a crowded market. The Australia and New Zealand specialist, which is part of TUI’s specialist sector, visited Tourism Australia in Sydney with five stakeholders two weeks ago to discuss the UK market and its needs. “Australia and New Zealand is tough [to sell] at the moment but everyone is trying to push bookings,” explained Joel Saunders, managing director of Autravel to Travel Daily. “There are too many reasons for clients to put it off so we need to create value for money, which is not always based on price point. We met Tourism Australia to have our voice heard and show how the market is”. To raise its profile within third party companies, the tour operator has launched its own quarterly newsletter, continues to visit agents on the road and is looking into launching a trade website. “We are trying to carve a niche in the third party consolidator market,” said Saunders. “We have a good team on the road and things are going quite well. This is a revised view and my appointment six months ago was part of that. We are working to get Austravel back to where it was. We are a true Australian and New Zealand specialist where for others it’s part of their global product, so these two destinations are all our staff worry about.” Meanwhile Saunders said that sales to New Zealand have struggled since the earthquake in Christchurch earlier this year. “Unfortunately the public perception is that New Zealand is shut but we are hoping that the Rugby World Cup will be a six-eight week showcase for the destination,” he said. “There are signs it [travel to Australia and New Zealand from UK] is coming back but to get to where sales were a few years ago I’d say we are a few months away, so it is getting back”. This includes the island resort of Hayman Island, which was affected by the cyclone but has been refurbished and reopened for guests.