The latest news and press releases from the ASTW team to the world.

ASTW Newsletter – February 2021

February 2021



ANOTHER month with borders shutting and reopening as clusters surface and are contained. Now the vaccines are being rolled out with news coverage heralding Australia’s success and a positive future for travel.

The past week also gifting our Federal Government tackling Facebook. Publishers and news business pages were targeted, with many of our ASTW members’ pages caught up in the geo-targeted ban on Australian news.

Your Board and committees have been busy with admin responsibilities, most listed in this newsletter. A huge shout-out to all those giving their volunteer time to keep the society flowing and members supported, all while trying to keep their own business and livelihoods viable.

Best of luck, everyone, as we continue to tackle this unfolding year. May the coming months bring us together for lunches and our long-awaited convention in the gorgeous Tweed region.










THE gorgeous Tweed region in northern NSW was announced late 2020 as the host location for this year’s ASTW Convention from October 14-16, with registrations set to open soon.

Blessed with stunning beaches, ancient rainforest and fertile land that drives a rich food and drink scene, the Tweed is set to deliver a convention full of stories, learnings, fun and local flavours.

Meet, connect, unwind and celebrate beachside at the convention venue, Mantra on Salt Beach, with a program that includes morning wellness, evening festivities and plenty of inspiration in between.

Pre- and post-familiarisations for media delegates have been curated to immerse in the Tweed’s famous seaside style and sweet valley vibe. Taste farm-fresh food and artisan flavours, sip from a growing list of distilled and brewed drinks, experience outstanding art and ocean adventures, take a river cruise or seek calm in Gondwana-era rainforest.

Stay longer and take time to discover the Tweed’s village spirit, from the buzzing hum of Tweed Heads to the coast-hugging hamlets of Kingscliff, Cabarita and Pottsville and out along the Tweed River to peaceful Tumbulgum, art-deco marvels at Murwillumbah and valley life at Tyalgum, Uki and Burringbar.

From all these places, the ancient peak of Wollumbin Mount Warning is always in sight, welcoming you to the Tweed from wherever you are.

We can’t wait to meet you here later in the year! Note the dates now and be ready for registrations opening soon. Plan your convention stay with inspiration via


AGM AND CONVENTION DATES: October 14-16, 2021
HOST: The Tweed Tourism Co.
HOST RESORT: Mantra on Salt Beach, Kingscliff


THAT’S imPRessive

A BIG welcome to Janaya Birse, who has stepped up to the ASTW Board as second PR member and convention co-ordinator, joining Pip Macken. A destination specialist with more than 20 years’ experience in public relations, marketing and sales within the tourism industry in Australia and the United Kingdom, Janaya specialises in: consumer marketing and strategic planning; marketing and communication strategies; trade marketing and stakeholder management; media release and copywriting and marketing communications; digital marketing; and event management. Janaya fills the vacancy left by Shelley Winkel who resigned due to work commitments.



TRAVMEDIA’S International Media Marketplace (IMM) is Australia’s largest media networking event connecting PR professionals with Australia’s top-tier media titles. IMM Virtual Australia 2021, sponsored by Tourism Australia, transports your most-loved brands from Australia and New Zealand directly to your computer, in the safety of your own home or office. Taking place across May 5 and 6, IMM Virtual Australia is the same networking event you know and trust, run through TravMedia’s bespoke Media Marketplace platform, enhanced with video-conferencing capabilities.  IMM Virtual Australia will provide media with updates and information from a wide range of Australian and New Zealand travel brands and help plan a year’s worth of stories, features and press trips without leaving your chair. The event includes 16 pre-scheduled, one-on-one appointments, press conferences and an editors’ panel, and will run across two days from 11am-3pm AEST. TravMedia’s IMM Virtual is not a replacement for February’s IMM. However, given the current circumstances, we are excited to bring you IMM Virtual Australia in May with a face-to-face IMM Australia postponed until Q2, 2022. Register your interest now.


The BarrelRoom (+ Coach with 1 Night Granite Belt Famil Option)
Where: Ballandean Estate Wines, 354 Sundown Road, Ballandean Qld
When: Saturday, March 27, 2021
Time: 12.15-2.15pm
Cost: $40.00 incl GST for ASTW members
For more information, click here.

Proudly presented by The Barrel Room at Ballandean Estate

Apple & Grape Season: ‘Meet the Makers’ – ASTW Granite Belt Famil
2 Days, 1 Night Famil
 Saturday, March 27, to Sunday, March 28, 2021
  • Meals Coach pick-up 8am Saturday, March 27, at Brisbane Transit Centre
  • Meals and 1 night accommodation (See draft itinerary next page)
  • Return coach to Brisbane Transit Centre, arriving 6.15pm Sunday, March 28
Cost for accompanying non-member partners: $110.00 incl GST (based on double/twin share, invoiced prior to tour).
Transit Proudly presented by Granite Belt Wine & Tourism
in partnership with Southern Downs Regional Council

THE Queensland members have been enthusiastically flying the flag for lunches. The February 4 get-together – the first ASTW event for 2021 – was held, with thanks to hosts Emporium Hotel South Bank and Caitlin O’Loan, where members (including a ring-in from the Northern Territory and another from Adelaide) devoured spanner crab pancake with garlic chive and aged cheddar, oven-finished market fish with fermented soybean chilli and charred bamboo shoot with steamed Asian greens and mixed leaves, petit fours and coffee of choice. Members downed NV Petit Cordon by Mumm while viewing a poolside Cabana Suite with a grand smart TV and views of the Brisbane skyline from the bed.

Members need to keep an eye on the ASTW FB page and ASTW website events page. We always alert lunches four weeks out.


THE ASTW Board has reviewed the 2020 Awards for Excellence process with fresh eyes following the AGM in December.

After long deliberation and looking at the process from all angles, board members made the decision to amend the record of winners and finalists as the only transparent, fair and positive way forward.

As part of the review of the issues relating to the awards system that was introduced last year, the Board acknowledged the importance of members abiding by the terms and conditions and concluded that any 2020 Awards for excellence entries that did not adhere to those rules should be disqualified. However, the Board also acknowledged that there were teething problems with the new system and parts of the entry process may have caused some confusion for members. Because of this, the Board decided all previously named finalists and winners who were affected would retain their trophy, certificates and titles.

Mark Daffey, who was previously the runner-up in the Best Story About Family Travel category, is now a joint winner of that category. Mark will be sent a trophy and certificate, and please offer him your congratulations.

We have made this decision in the spirit of fairness and transparency and trust all ASTW members will view it in that spirit.



LINDA Bloffwitch, who specialises in 4WD/caravan/camping and associated lifestyle articles, has applied for Associate Writer membership, and was approved at the February Board meeting. Thank you for wanting to join the ASTW family, Linda!

Her memberships is subject to the 30-day objection period, which will expire on March 27. Any objections to new member applications must be sent to the ASTW Secretariat at


WHAT would you like to see included in the 2021 Webinars Schedule? What topics would you like to learn about? What will help you grow your business, add to your skill set and develop professionally as a member of the travel media? Who would you like to hear from? The webinar series that kicked off last year was new, exciting and very well-received, allowing us to stay connected, keep spirits up and help our membership while so many were in lockdown. If you missed any of the webinar series from last year, log into the ASTW website, go to the Members tab and click on Webinars from the drop-down menu. Or head to Email with your suggestions. Meanwhile, the Board is working hard to develop a calendar highlighting upcoming professional development and webinar opportunities so members can properly plan and schedule in the events they are interested in and ensure they don’t miss the boat on registration.


WE all enjoy sharing our love of the tourism and travel industry, so why not ask more friends to party with us at the ASTW? The Board has begun a membership drive after COVID-19 dealt our industry a savage blow, forcing many of our colleagues to find employment elsewhere. Consequently, some have had to change their membership category or say farewell to the ASTW altogether. So, we’re prompting all members to “ask a friend” – like-minded travel writers, photographers, PR representatives and digital publishers – to consider the many benefits of Australia’s most highly-respected organisation for travel media. Maybe you’ve come across them on social media, met them on a famil or seen their byline in your favourite travel mag. Ask them to head to the website at Australian Society of Travel Writers – travel media and public relations professionals and go to the Join Us tab at the top to see if they qualify to apply and discover all the Member Benefits here: Member Benefits – Australian Society of Travel Writers (


WRITER member Susan Gough Henly is keen to restart the Book Club and recently put a call-out on the ASTW Facebook page. Members may have missed this post. Sue’s trying to gauge interest, so if you’d like to get involved then please respond via the Facebook post.  The book she has in mind is Bruce Pascoe’s Loving Country, described as a “powerful and essential guidebook that offers a new way to travel and discover Australia through an Indigenous narrative”.


The ASTW acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.

ASTW Newsletter – January 2021

January 2021


A New Year

WELCOME to 2021. And thank you to all the new Board members who decided to nominate in this vastly challenging time for our industry and the world. We are here volunteering for the benefit of all members and the society itself. There is much appreciation for your selfless commitment to the ASTW and its members. This year started badly with consumer confidence shaken in interstate travel after the pre-Christmas cluster on the Northern Beaches, subsequent lockdown and immediate border closures. International holiday travel seems another year away at least. In March, the loss of JobKeeper will be another significant hurdle anticipating that many more of our members will move by necessity to roles outside their chosen career of tourism and travel.

The entire ASTW society, including the Board and committees, are dealing with the impact of the ongoing pandemic on our professional and personal lives. We will continue to support the members with many events and opportunities where permitted and possible. The Board will be filtering our volunteer workload into manageable hours during 2021. The first significant change will see all incoming correspondence, unless urgent, tabled and discussed at our monthly Board meetings, replied to as needed the week following. The Secretariat will continue to be available during regular business hours.

The ASTW Board of 2021 has an exceptional task ahead to support the society and each other. Thank you, Christina Pfeiffer, for staying on for the long haul. We need your historical perspective, many skills and considered countenance. Pip Macken and Poddy (Scott Podmore), so grateful you remained with your words of wisdom, calm energy and kindness. Caroline Gladstone, Kerri McConnel, Jocelyn Pride, Shirley Sinclair and Christina  Butcher, we welcome your presence, varied areas of expertise, enthusiasm, fresh energy and, most of all, your support.

‘When written in Chinese the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.’ – John F Kennedy



KEEP mid-October free in your diaries for some welcome travel adventures when The Tweed Tourism Co. hosts the ASTW 2021 AGM and Convention in beautiful Northern NSW. While most of us have enjoyed some downtime (or forced Covid lockdown) in the past weeks, the Board members and The Tweed Tourism Co have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure this will be “the best Games ever!”. After the year we’ve all had, we need to get down to the serious business of travel…and industry camaraderie. Pre- and post-famils will be offered to explore the delights of the Tweed region. So, get in early once those details are released closer to October.

AGM AND CONVENTION Dates: October 14-16, 2021

Host: The Tweed Tourism Co.
Host Resort: Mantra on Salt Beach, Kingscliff



SADLY, Shelley Winkel has had to resign from the role as second PR member for the Board due to work commitments. We’re seeking an enthusiastic volunteer who can devote bags of energy focused towards helping to plan the 2021 ASTW AGM and Convention in Northern NSW. You will be joining PR dynamo Pip Macken and the rest of the Board team. If you are ready, willing and able to put up your hand for this vital role, please contact president Elisa Elwin or any of the board members with an expression of interest.



LUNCH supremo Laura Speirs reports that uncertainty with borders due to Covid isn’t helping with planning get-togethers in each state. But now Australia Day is over, the push is on to lock in local events. As always, members should keep an eye on the ASTW FB page and the ASTW website under events for immediate updates on what is confirmed.  Nothing appears unless it’s confirmed, to avoid confusion. Sue Fuller and Kerry Heaney’s February 4 lunch at The Terrace, hosted by Emporium Hotels, is booked out with a waiting list. The 25 spaces filled quickly. In March, Queensland members will be invited to a Granite Belt Long lunch on March 26 to 28, exploring the southern Ballandean area. It is a repeat of last year’s highly-successful event, which saw ASTW members from around the country enjoy Queensland’s wine country.  This year’s Long Lunch is a two-night event with a Saturday lunch. Get in early to be seated at that table. There are no updates at this stage regarding lunches in other states. But here’s a reminder of the hard-working organisers who go above and beyond to keep us connected, entertained and well-fed at these events:

NSW – Laura Speirs

VIC – Belinda Jackson

SA – Alexis Buxton Collins

WA – Dianne Bortoletto



BY now, everyone should have received their eye-catching 2021 ASTW sustainable and eco-friendly bamboo membership cards in the post. No? If you didn’t, that means that your contact details may not be up to date with the ASTW Secretariat. Is the spelling or category incorrect? That also means you need to check your details with the ASTW Secretariat. As a matter of urgency, please log in to the ASTW website (, check your profile details to ensure your address and contacts are current and update if necessary. Next, please alert the Secretariat by email at If your ASTW profile is not up to date, you may be missing out on forging valuable connections with other members and telling the world who you are as a professional travel media representative.


FRANCE-based freelance writer Chrissie McClatchie has applied to be an associate member with the ASTW and was approved at the January Board meeting. At the December Board meeting, PR member Louise Terry, from Tweed Tourism Company, and freelance writer and Family Holiday Destinations founder Jessica Palmer were approved. Thank you for wanting to join the ASTW family, Chrissie, Louise and Jessica! Their memberships are now subject to the 30-day objection period, which ends on February 27.

New member applications

Louise Terry – Public Relations member

Jessica Palmer – Associate Writer member

Chrissie McClatchie – Associate Writer member

Any objections to these new member applications must be sent to the ASTW Secretariat at by 27 February 2020.


SEVERAL members have now shared their thoughts and experiences of 2020: The Year of the Pandemic. For some, it was a wake-up call to remember what their priorities should be. For others, it was stopping to smell the roses as they approached life with new vigour. Many of us began projects, learnt new skills and stacked on the kilos due to Netflix binges. And sadly, for some, a loss of job or income meant a re-evaluation of life as they knew it. We’d love to hear your tales and reflections on “the time when travel stopped”. See the Covid Social History Stories on the ASTW website under the News tab. There, you’ll find: Mindful Moments in Manly by Angela Saurine; Lynn Gail’s Did you master baking banana bread during lockdown?; A year without Ollie by Lee Mylne; Sidestepping those rainbow-coloured macarons by Sue Wallace; Christine Retschlag’s 2020: The year I came home; The Final Farewell by Kirstie Bedford; and Life in Coronavirus Time by Shirley Sinclair. Meanwhile, please send your contributions to


The ASTW acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.

Did You Master Baking Banana Bread During Lockdown?

By Lynn Gail

What did your first day out of lockdown look like?

Were you able to master the downtime so many people cherished during isolation?

When restrictions were lifted across Western Australia, I caught a train and headed into the big smoke of Perth City (more a little puff really, when compared to most capital cities) to meet up with photography friends.

Freedom was scrawled across the last week of June in my empty diary.

A trickle of people confident enough to burst their isolation bubbles, were also making the journey.

Train trips often bring reflection, and during the half hour ride I began to process a slow replay of the past, what had it been? – barely three months.

At times, lockdown had seemed permanent – like having your worst relative visit for a few days then ends up staying indefinitely.

As a constantly on-the-go travel writer and photographer who covers remote destinations, I had initially welcomed the break.

It was an opportunity to put my footloose feet squarely on ‘terra firma’, to take pause, ‘sniff the roses’, and soak up the Indian Ocean’s ions while sunbathing with a good book to shield the sun.

Just five minutes’ walk away, the beach became my sanity drug.

As the clinically cleaned carriages slowed into each station, people sidled onto the train.

Furtive glances put a stamp on our new normal as passengers scanned for empty seats surrounded by extra empty seats.

As the train pulled away commuters relaxed, releasing stale air behind their sagging mouth guards.

But as we sped up to slow down, one question nagged at my sub-consciousness – had I mastered lockdown, how was I coping?

Others, it seemed, had relished closed doors, reduced societal contact, and weeks spent at home.

I was becoming unstuck.

Six cancelled trips.

Departure dates scrubbed from my diary.

Daily links to virtual travel videos showcasing restricted destinations only made the ache more acute, while empty suitcases gathered dust.

Social media posts, one after the other, boasted images of banana bread baked 50 different ways – it seemed if you didn’t bake – you clearly were not locked down tightly enough.

Then there were the: ‘cleaned out the cupboards’, ‘replanted the garden’ and ‘rebuilt the house’ type posts.

My cupboards were still full, my garden still weedy, and the house still had a lengthy to-do list nailed to its timbers.

Any attempts to fit the stay-at-home mould were fast proving feeble.

Weekly ‘Zoom’ sessions with fellow writers and photographers eased the stay-at-home drudge as we played musical instruments, donned silly hats, and mastered screen selfies of us nestled in our pigeonholes.

Phrases like, “I’m writing 2020 off,” or, “I can’t wait to get back to normal,” have become standard.

While I too am counting the days until I hear the long awaited announcement, “please make your way to gate number 3, we’re now boarding for Kenya,” to write a year off, which changed our forever history, and the paths of almost everyone on the planet, seems yet another disposable waste.

Surely the silver lining to all the pain and suffering must be to take stock. To look at our world with a renewed focus, and nurture Mother Earth.

Without her, we are a dissolving mass.

It is fair to say conquering cabin fever has been a colossal challenge for myself and my colleagues.

And even with the recent Covid-19 cases and setbacks in the state of Victoria, as a nation we are still much healthier and stronger than our counterparts.

As the world resets its sails and we can to drop anchor and dive into cleaner oceans, the sensation will be so much more satisfying.

As the train pulls into Perth station, I feel I have landed in some faraway destination as the sweet sensation of absorbing life post lockdown soaks in.

Others it seems are feeling the same.

There’s a definite spring in their steps, a keen sparkle in the eyes, and an excitable din of chatter as they ease their way out of the train and step onto travelators to carry them into the city’s bustling malls.

The sun is smiling. Talented buskers are plying their trade outside cafés filled with Covid safe numbers.

And the city comes to life.

It feels like a festival, a celebration of life, and a reminder nothing is permanent.

In the distance I spot my fellow photography friends, and a new normal begins.

Mindful Moments in Manly

By Angela Saurine

When I first heard the term Rushing Woman’s Syndrome, I could immediately relate.

Coined by nutritional biochemist, Dr Libby Weaver, it describes the modern malaise of always being busy.

The constant juggle of work, grocery shopping, housework, social commitments and getting children to and from day care or school, as well as sport and other extra-curricular activities, is something many of us struggle with.

If there was one silver lining to the recent coronavirus-induced lockdown, it was the fact it gave us time.

The rushing stopped.

We were literally able to stop and smell the roses – and many other types of flowers in our case – and spend quality time with our closest family members,  without the usual pressures of everyday life.

Sure, at times it was hard.

But I am confident we will look back at this unexpected period of our lives with fondness in the years, and decades, to come.

My two-year-old son Oliver and I are extremely lucky to live in a beautiful locale – Manly in NSW.

Set on a peninsula, with Sydney Harbour on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, I was well aware that there were many worse places in the world to be forced by the government to self- isolate.

The area is blessed with lovely walking tracks, parks, bushland, and beaches.

While I thought I knew the area well, I soon realised there were so many more places to discover.

With playgrounds closed, and exercise one of the few reasons we were permitted to leave home, I was determined to find different places for us to go, within walking distance, and abiding by the social distancing rules.

Some days I pushed Oliver on his scooter to North Harbour Reserve at Balgowlah, along the Manly to Spit Walk.

Once there, we’d stop so he could climb on a rock and onto the winding branches of a big old tree, and have an afternoon snack.

We’d kick a ball around for a while so he could burn off some energy, or meander along the creek and over mossy rocks to get up close to the waterfall at low tide.

As we strolled along the path back, Oliver would point out boats on the horizon, and sometimes cruise ships and planes, which became less common by the day.

We discovered another large park, surrounded by water on three sides, on the site of the old gasworks at Little Manly Point, and ventured up the hill to North Head Sanctuary, where we found swamps and World War II military fortifications.

On weekdays, when it was less crowded, we’d follow the sun to Shelly Beach, pausing to watch water dragons, and a cormorant that can often be seen standing on a rock drying its outstretched wings.

Sometimes, we’d walk to Manly Lagoon, where dogs splashed about in the shallows.

On warm days, we’d explore the rock pools at Delwood Beach at Fairlight, looking for fish in the water, touching periwinkles and playing with seaweed.

On the way home, we might stop to see a cockatoo perched on the railing of our building’s front balcony, and look for strawberries and tomatoes growing in the communal garden.

It was the ultimate staycation.

It’s a shame, in a way, that it took a pandemic to make us more mindful.

But I, for one, am grateful that the experience has given me a new, enlightened perspective, and I have vowed to incorporate some elements into our daily lives.

The story originally published in the winter 2020 issue of Out & About with Kids.

Call for Nominations

ASTW Awards for Excellence 2020 Finalists Announced

Congratulations to all the finalists for the ASTW Awards for Excellent 2020!

You can see a full list of finalists and links to their stories and photos here

Thank you to all those who submitted an award entry this year.

ASTW Newsletter – September 2020

September 2020

Dear ASTW members,

The Covid lament sounds for all the world like a broken record: another month of border closures and lockdown for our Melbourne and regional Victorian members, another month of uncertainty and staggering upheaval in our travel and tourism industry. We acknowledge the hardship you’re enduring, and commend you all on your fortitude. Thanks to everyone for the supportive and caring social media posts; it’s good to see our members reaching out where needed and helpfully shifting the tone to one that is positive, thoughtful and good-natured.

Speaking of which, a leaping high-five is due to Sherriff Shaney Hudson for taking on the role of chief ASTW FB group moderator – see below for more information on why this was necessary. The last month has also brought changes to your committee: we had departures by Carla Grossetti, Keren Lavelle and Natascha Mirosch, who had decided not to renominate as per their original commitment of coming onboard until what was originally scheduled as a 3-6 September AGM. Their contributions were significant, primarily due to the extended hours of voluntary work during the committee transitions over the previous six months. We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Carla, Keren and Natascha for their time and commitment. You’re missed already!

We are delighted, however, to welcome onto the committee Pip Macken as our second PR representative and Scott Podmore as a full writer member. Scott is doubly celebrated as the only male committee member and a valuable Victorian representative. Much appreciation is due to both of you for joining our ranks at this time.

We have been busy as usual, with our time filled this month by the 2020 Awards for Excellence, planning a virtual awards ceremony for November, working to renew TravMedia’s annual sponsorship contract and assembling constitutional updates to ensure the committee maintains its vigour and relevance in these changing times. I can’t forget the ongoing flow of excellent webinars and collaboration with all our outstanding volunteer sub-committee members (we seriously couldn’t do it without you!).

Special mention goes to the hard-working awards sub-committee – Mike Smith, Justine Costigan and front-man Peter Hook – for your time in not only working on the launch of this year’s new-look awards but also your availability in replying to the many questions and suggestions from members during the entry period. This was an extraordinary effort for a mammoth task, and it’s been a pleasure to work with you on this. With over 600 entries, the many judges are now actively working their way through the submissions before announcing the finalists. Best of luck, everyone.

Take care,

Kind regards,

Elisa Elwin
ASTW President




We’re delighted to welcome onto the committee ASTW members Pip Macken and Scott Podmore. With 20-plus years’ experience in PR and professional writing, Pip has held the role of Media Director for Destination Canada for the past decade. She is also Media Director for Yukon Tourism and Travel Manitoba. Pip enjoys creating PR programs for her clients, including hosting famils (during non-Covid times, of course!) and writing content to entice Aussies to visit Canada. Most of all, she loves getting to know ASTW writers and photographers, and tailoring remarkable famil itineraries to match their personal interests. Scott (or Poddy, as he’s better known) is a content “all-rounder” who brings fresh ideas and commercial nous from his experience as an award-winning journalist and newspaper editor, videographer, bestselling author and managing director of his company, October Grey Media. He’s been a freelancer over the years for dozens of magazines, newspapers and company websites including the Travel Design Group, a part of the Magellan Group, and online travel mag The Departure Lounge. Scott is set to launch some exciting new travel platforms including The Luxury Pod and Conscious Travel Mag post-COVID (once the dust settles).





What a bumper year it’s been for our awards! We received 618 entries this year, surpassing the previous year’s record of 524 entries. We have also received many positive comments about how easy the AwardForce system was to use. Big thanks to committee member Christina Pfeiffer for her intensive, behind the scenes work getting AwardForce installed and ready to use, and the awards sub-committee – including committee point of contact Elisa Elwin – for their unstinting work in the launch of the new and improved 2020 awards. The confidence in the awards process has certainly been reinforced by the significant increase in entries this year.

Meanwhile, the committee is busy planning a virtual awards event for 5 November 2020. While it’s impossible to predict what the future holds with regards to social restrictions, we are hoping to include small group gatherings in various states as part of the celebrations.

We’d like to express our gratitude to Tourism Australia and TravMedia for recommitting sponsorship for this year’s awards. We’re still seeking sponsorship of various elements of the awards event, and welcome enquiries at For details of the awards, please click here.





Thank you everyone for renewing your membership. We were thrilled to report an 81 percent renewal rate – an outstanding achievement considering the extraordinary times in which we find ourselves. This is in contrast to a general slump in Australia’s membership-based not-for-profits of between 20 and 25 percent, despite a widespread reduction or scrapping of fees – something your committee decided not to do. Our members’ positive response validates this difficult decision – in particular during a year in which sponsorships and other income generators have been absent. It is a resounding endorsement of the value of ASTW membership and the professional opportunities and camaraderie it delivers. We look forward to another year of ASTW collegiality with you all.


Following our poll and subsequent vigorous discussion on the ASTW Facebook group about the value of our TravMedia-sponsored membership cards, we have decided to issue these cards to our members using sustainable, recycled material. In order to expedite dispatch, please ensure your postal addresses are updated on the ASTW website before Tuesday 15th Sept. If you are having trouble logging in to your profile, please email your updated details to



The following new member applications have been approved by the committee. Any objections should be lodged with the secretariat within 30 days at

  • Ivy Carruth – Associate Writer member
  • Emma Shaw – Digital Publisher member




We regret to inform you of the cancellation of our Tourism Australia/Accor lunches, which were to have been held in Brisbane on 28 October, Sofitel Sydney on 29 October, and Melbourne on 30 October. Covid keeps messing up our plans, but we look forward to reintroducing this much loved pastime soon. Let’s all put an ASTW Christmas lunch on our bucket list!



The ASTW’s inaugural book club will be launched by member Sue Gough Henly on 15 September at 6pm AEST on Zoom ( and live-streamed on our Facebook group. Our first pick is this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award winner, The Yield, by Wiradjuri author Tara June Winch. Winch has described the novel as a ‘handbook for truth’. If you haven’t yet read it, there’s still time to grab a copy and join in a discussion about it with Sue and fellow members. Happy reading, and thank you Sue for taking on this project!



While we’ve adjusted the frequency of our webinar program, we have plenty of useful topics scheduled for the next couple of months, including sessions with Tourism Australia and several state tourism operators (watch this space and our Facebook group for more details). To watch any of the 21 webinars currently in our library, visit the ASTW website (password required). Meanwhile, bookmark these upcoming sessions:


TravMedia Masterclass for PRs with Nick Wayland, 16 September, 11am AEST
Following Nick’s hugely successful webinar on how media can make the most of TravMedia, he now turns his attention to the many ways in which PRs can benefit from this platform. In this masterclass he will take participants through each step of the process, from building an attention-grabbing profile to connecting with media, posting press releases and making use of TravMedia’s specialist clippings service.


Telling responsible stories: Think Child Safe with Tracey Croke, Friends International’s James Sutherland and a panel of travel operators, 26 September, 11am AEST
Do you put children at risk when you travel? Most travellers would answer no to this question. Sadly, research shows the majority do – largely because well-intentioned actions can inadvertently lead to exploitation and abuse. When travel returns, vulnerable children around the world will need the power of the tourism industry more than ever. In this webinar, chaired by Tracey Croke, we will shine a light on the blind spots and learn how we can become agents for change by making ourselves, our businesses, our content and our publications child safe.





The ASTW committee has asked Life Member and past president Lee Mylne to chair a new Ethics sub-committee, which will advise the committee on ethical issues and review the ASTW Code of Ethics. As a current Doctor of Creative Industries student researching the ethical challenges facing Australian travel journalists in the digital age, Lee is the ideal person to head this sub-committee. Other members of the sub-committee are writer members John Borthwick and John Maddocks, and PR members Sarah Anderson (GTI Tourism) and Shelley Winkel (Tourism & Events Queensland). ASTW members with ethical concerns or questions are also welcome to contact sub-committee members for advice or guidance. The committee thanks Lee, John B and John M, Sarah and Shelley for agreeing to give their time and expertise to this important topic.



The ASTW secretariat recently released a series of special resolutions for constitutional change as deemed necessary in order to cultivate growth of the membership, the committee and the parameters in which we function. There has been substantial feedback and we take on board all constructive comments. We have learned a lot through this process, and whilst we feel the current changes are an important catalyst for growth, we recognise that there are still gaps in the current constitution; it will require a further, in-depth review to ultimately position it as a fundamental document that stands the test of time as our industry evolves. We acknowledge the changes made by many committees over the years, each with a genuine desire to improve the society; however, with each change a little “chink in the chain” has developed, as one change affects another, and the result has been a less than robust and at times contradictory constitution. Your committee is committed to full involvement of the next steps for correction and ultimately the cementing of the constitution for the foreseeable future. For now, however, we ask that these initial changes put forward through special resolution be voted on through the link forwarded to eligible voters. A positive result will allow us to fill our committee and office bearer positions and bring new talent and energy to the committee – something sorely needed after a tough year indeed. If you haven’t already voted, please do so.



Our Facebook group has become our primary meeting place this year, and we thank Shaney Hudson for offering to moderate the space (along with various committee members who have fulfilled this role until now). While we welcome robust discussion, it’s important we recognise the fact that the ASTW is required to meet certain legal obligations as creator of this group. We ask our members to brush up on the group guidelines, which can be found here. Please carefully consider contentious posts, checking first that they are free from bullying, ableism, racism and aggression. Note, too, that posts will only be approved between 9am and 8pm (unless moderators are available outside of those hours). Finally, a reminder that official requests or questions regarding committee issues or decisions or official ASTW business need to be officially put in writing to the Secretariat at or the committee at





The Global Tourism Media Alliance, of which the ASTW is a member, has welcomed the German travel journalist society, VDRJ Vereinigung Deutscher Reisejournalisten to its ranks. This will create mutually beneficial opportunities for all our societies’ members as well as the alliance itself.



In exciting news, for the first time ever GTMA alliance member the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) has invited ASTW members to join their annual convention, to be held virtually from 14 – 17 October. For more than 60 years, the SATW’s convention has been limited to members, their guests, and professional development speakers. But in the spirit of community, and in recognition that many journalistic and media organisations have had to cancel their annual conventions, they have opened registration to ASTW members. This year’s agenda includes keynote addresses by Longwoods International President Emir Elyon and hospitality entrepreneur Chip Conley; panels on the future of the industry; discussions on sustainability and diversity; hands-on tutorials on communications metrics, SEO, writing and running your own business; destination tours presented by sponsors; and networking happy hours. Confirmed speakers include Carnival CEO Arnold Donald, Travel + Leisure Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Gifford and Melvin Tennant, president and CEO of Visit Minneapolis. All sessions will be recorded and available to conference registrants after the convention (which will help with the time difference!). The cost for non-member journalist attendees is US$250; those who register by September 8 receive a US$25 discount. You can learn more about the meeting and register at



The ASTW acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.