All posts by Chris Harrison


BREAKING NEWS: The Website Travel Group has been sold to Imperium Tourism Holdings following a long courtship

Imperium’s ownership of Website Travel Group (WTG) is effective Wednesday, 25th July 2018.

Over a period of 15 years, WTG’s founding Director, Matt McCourt, with Directors Mell Coppin & Prue Coppin, have grown what was a small family business with a handful of retail travel shops, to a significant industry presence that today encompasses more than 55 retail stores, 20 websites and 5 technology platforms, Hostels, and adventure tourism businesses.

The group technology division services more than 3,400 operators and 650 agents and is known for its innovation and progressive technology.

The sale of the Website Travel business includes the brands Peterpans Adventure Travel, Backpackers World Travel, Travel Freedom, The Travel Project, Junction 6 Travel, Rainbow Beach Adventure Company, Dingo’s Resort and Frasers on Rainbow.

Imperium Tourism Holdings is an Imperium Group company based in Melbourne. Imperium were first introduced to the WTG in November 2017 and have been engaged in an extensive due diligence process over the last 8 months. Imperium’s owner and Managing Director, Andrew Cox (pictured), is delighted to have acquired Website Travel Group in its entirety. Cox, says that strategic planning is already well underway for Imperium Tourism, and he intends to move swiftly and proactively to expand the tourism solutions into vertical tourism industries. “I am extremely impressed with the WTG portfolio, the work of the Directors, and Management team, and their significant achievements to date. A long due diligence process has provided us with a very strong foundation of knowledge about the group and we look forward to our new role as custodian of these great businesses.”

WTG Group General Manager, Barry Downes, says he is “thrilled to continue to lead WTG into the next frontier under the new ownership. I am delighted to be working with Andrew and the Imperium team who will bring a breadth and depth of experience from a variety of businesses into all our areas of operation in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Asia. Fresh perspectives and energy invigorate any business and everyone at WTG is looking forward to joining the Imperium Group and to continue working with all of our existing and long-standing industry partners.”

Imperium Group was founded by Andrew Cox in 2001 and it manages a diversified portfolio of businesses operating in luxury accommodation, restaurants, home improvement solutions, import distribution and sports management. Brands include boutique hotels Eichardt’s Private Hotel and The Spire Hotel, in Queenstown, New Zealand. Under its Home Solutions division, Imperium owns Garage Smart and Wardrobe World. Previously Imperium has owned Platinum Healthcare, TGI Fridays Asia Pacific (15 years), Australian Graphic Supplies (11 years) and the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union.

Imperium is known for its disciplined focus on core business operations and strong management. This combined with experience, the un-rivalled energy, passion and innovation of the long standing 200+ WTG employees, means the future certainly looks bright for this new alliance in tourism and technology.

Source: Selina Kelly

1000 comments, thanks from The Byte

The Byte launched in late 2014 (less than 4 years ago) with a vision to providing a reliable voice and lobby for inbound youth and adventure tourism operators and a mechanism by which this small but hugely important sector of tourism could interact with each other and be heard more widely.  Your readership and commentary has been critical in this process and we thank you for helping us reach 1000 comments.  We are very pleased with the response we receive from the backpacker and youth sector and would like to believe we are making an important contribution.

Providing a reliable and informed commentary and forum for the current ’88 days’ debate is an important example.

This is only possible if our readers continue to read, forward, post and comment on our articles and stories.  We are always on the look out for interesting pieces to write and we are happy to consider anything sent to us.  Our most important criteria is that it be relevant to Australian backpacker, youth and adventure tourism ~ your sector.

Please keep reading, please keep commenting and thank you once again.


The Team at Byte Media & Marketing

When 88 days turns into 4 years, Kelly Friel is an Irish backpacker who became the Manager of the Daly Waters Hotel

The iconic Daly Waters Pub is in the centre of a one million acre cattle station in the Northern Territory and the nearest town is a six-pack of beer … or more than 300 km away. There was the pub, the only thing in town and she chatted to bar manager, Kelly Friel, who left Ireland not only once but twice she left the green landscape of home, to return to the dusty outback and one of the most isolated watering holes in the world – Kelly tells Carolyne why.

SOUNDCLOUD (outside link)

Interview by Carolyne Jasinski, an intrepid outback reporter from Travel Writers Radio.

BYTAP reenergised – your panel is back

The Backpacker Youth Tourism Advisory Panel (BYTAP) is back! And they have renewed energy and focus.

There have been a few movers and shakers since the last pow-wow, but the same representatives are committed to nationally representing the backpacker sector on the issues of the day, they are:

  • Kerry Tate, Get Lost Travel
  • Brendan McKenna, Jucy
  • Mark Baldwin, Fuda Enterprise (Bounce)
  • Joanna Burnet, Visit Oz
  • Wendi Aylward, AIFS
  • Julian Ledger, YHA Australia
  • Silke Kerwick, YHA Australia – Secretariat

The most recent meeting was held on 14 June 2018 (in Sydney with dial-ins from around the country) and covered hot topics in the industry, including:

  1. Government regulation of labour hire. QLD, SA & VIC has new legislation.

This is all good news for the youth sector, as it will help hold rogue operators to account. Those who might try to exploit workers doing agricultural work, including vulnerable Working Holiday Makers, now need to ‘watch out’.

  1. Short term holiday letting. AirBnb, Stays, HomeAway etc.

The NSW Government has finally put in place controls for short-term holiday letting in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. This includes a maximum number of letting days of 180 in any one year, and also gives power to owners’ corporations to decide by 75% majority whether or not to allow short-term letting in their blocks, if no host is present. The legislation doesn’t help destinations battling with the negative fall-out from platforms such as Airbnb in other regional areas, but it’s a start.

The Backpacker Youth Tourism Advisory Panel (BYTAP) provides valuable insight into sector-specific issues, represents the interests of youth focused products and facilitates an active policy debate forum.  By raising the profile of the sector within the broader tourism industry, BYTAP leds the way in highlighting the signficant value this sector adds to the overall Australian visitor economy.

Everyone on the panel puts their personal and company interests aside and looks to the greater good of the youth tourism sector on a national level. They also generously donate their time and expertise in a voluntary capacity.

Stay tuned for more updates via The Byte.

Burdekin Shire Council condemns vile poster targeting backpackers

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin (pictured) has condemned a racist, anti-backpacker poster found in the Ayr CBD yesterday, declaring that those responsible do not represent the views of the community and should be “ashamed of their deplorable actions”. Cr McLaughlin said the “vile messaging” contained in the poster in no way represented the views of the Burdekin community. “We wholeheartedly welcome backpackers to our region, not only for the crucial work they do in our horticultural industries but for the cultural diversity they add to our community,” Cr McLaughlin said. “Our friendly community embraces backpackers and appreciates their wonderful contribution to our shire. We hope that while they are with us, the backpackers enjoy our country hospitality and authentic Australian lifestyle.

“Many of the backpackers who come here to work get to know our local families and become part of community life.” Cr McLaughlin said she was “appalled” by the messaging contained in the poster, which suggested that backpackers would not be welcomed in the Burdekin. “Backpackers are most welcome,” Cr McLaughlin said. “I am appalled by the vile messaging in this poster. The person or persons responsible should hang their heads in shame. “The poster is certainly not in keeping with the friendly and welcoming nature of our community, which celebrates cultural diversity. Our cultural diversity makes the Burdekin a great place to live and enriches our way of life.”
Cr McLaughlin said the police had been contacted and were investigating the matter. ”

I encourage anyone with information about the poster and those responsible to contact the police by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000,” Cr McLaughlin said.

Source: Burdekin Shire Council