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

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. 

ASTW Newsletter – June 2020

June 2020

“How did it get so late so soon?”
― Dr. Seuss

Dear ASTW members,

And so we find ourselves, inconceivably, already in the month of June, the halfway mark in what is surely the strangest year in living memory.

Despite the growing chill in the mornings and the shortening of days, it feels oddly spring-like for our committee members. After months of sorting and tidying, discarding the old and unworkable and adopting more efficient processes, we’ve finally gained an accurate picture of both our membership and our financial situation. And we are feeling relieved, reinvigorated, refreshed and absolutely fired up for some much-needed future planning.

Supporting us, as we head into part two of 2020, is our new secretariat representative, Annie Coulter (see report below). We are thrilled to welcome Annie into the ASTW family and to gratefully hand over the burden we’ve collectively shouldered over the past few months. With her able assistance we aim to grow the ASTW, not just in member numbers, but in reputation – to be seen as the definitive authority on travel media in Australia.

Annie will be the point of contact for new members, and we hope you will all make her feel welcome if you have the occasion to be in touch.

We are still in discussion about when, where and what our AGM will look like after the unavoidable cancellation of this year’s conference, which was due to be hosted by Tourism Whitsundays in September. While the current uncertainties rendered a full-blown convention impossible, we urge members who might be hitting the road to remember that the beautiful Whitsundays region isn’t going anywhere and is as deserving of our love and attention as ever. And don’t forget the other regions hit hard by fire and drought; they all deserve our love. Meanwhile, we promise to let you know as soon as we can about possible alternative arrangements.

On behalf of the committee I want to thank those who have volunteered for the sub-committees and working groups, a full list of which is contained below. Your time and expertise are very much appreciated and we look forward to collaborating with you all on the many initiatives we have planned for the rest of this year.

And finally: we’d like to see more of you. Please take a moment to upload your photos to our members’ page on the website, come and chat on our Facebook page or check out one of our free webinars.

Stay well, stay positive and above all check in with your ASTW colleagues as we tentatively step into the sunshine of the brave new post-Covid world.

Elisa Elwin
ASTW President




It was with much pleasure this week that we welcomed onboard our new secretariat, The Association Specialists (TAS), following a comprehensive tender process (RFT). The committee was overwhelmed by the quality of responses to the RTF, and our selection team – Elisa Elwin, Kylee Kay, Keren Lavelle, Christina Pfeiffer and Saskia Baker – did a sterling job working through them.

“Although the applicants were all very competitive, we feel TAS and its team members are the most suitable fit for our membership,” says president Elisa Elwin.

“We are really looking forward to working with the team at TAS and moving forward during these unprecedented COVID-19 times and are confident this partnership will aid in strengthening and growing the society into the future”.

The TAS team will be led by director of member services Megan Ogier and association management team leader Annie Coulter, who will be the regular point of contact for our committee and members.

Managing director of TAS Francis Child said he is delighted to be working with the ASTW and looks forward to a long and successful partnership.

“Our dedicated team are already primed to assist the ASTW to grow and flourish as we come out of the most challenging times the industry has ever faced. We are excited to be working with a group of professionals ready to remind us how we can participate in our favourite pastime once again – travel”.

The TAS head office is located in Sydney’s Lower North Shore suburb of St Leonards. Members wishing to contact the secretariat can email, call the direct ASTW phone line on 02 9431 8663 or post a letter to PO Box 576, Crows Nest, NSW 1585, Australia.



We will shortly be commencing membership renewals for the 2020/21 membership year and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support. We are proud to have carried the society along through unprecedented upheaval. For all of us, the first half of 2020 has been a challenging one; however, we realise the ASTW has a key role to play in supporting our members as we rebuild and reimagine our industry as restrictions are lifted. Don’t miss out by failing to renew! This period of consolidation has brought home the unique position each and every one of you holds within an industry association that has enormous potential for resurgence and growth.

In recognition of the pressures of COVID-19, the substantiation process for the membership was suspended for 2020. You will shortly receive an invoice for your membership renewal via email. Please contact us at or call the ASTW phone line on 02 9431 8663 if you would like to discuss hardship options.

We look forward to a dynamic year ahead and are proud to be part of such an amazing group of people.


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

Belinda Luksic – Associate Writer member
Jacinta Bonus – Public Relations member
Julia D’Orazio – Associate Writer member
Roslyn Jolly – Associate Writer member
Heather Jeffrey – Public Relations member
Alesha Bradford – Digital Publisher member
Jarryd Salem – Digital Publisher member



After much deliberation, the committee has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Trivia Night. Uncertainty around interstate travel restrictions and requirements for social distancing would have greatly reduced the number of participants, while sponsorship of individual prizes would have been in question. Thank-you to our host, Sofitel Wentworth Sydney, who was on standby for the event, and our major sponsor, United Airlines, who we look forward to working with again when Trivia Night makes its return next year.

As restrictions are slowly being lifted on an almost fortnightly basis now, our super-star luncheon coordinator Laura Speirs and her team have been working behind the scenes to hopefully secure the comeback of all lunches from around August this year for Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. After a five-month hiatus, it will be a wonderful opportunity for members to reconnect face to face in their respective cities.

Although we were disappointed by the necessary cancellation of the Tourism Whitsundays 2020 ASTW Convention, the convention sub-committee have put their heads together and are hoping to create a COVID-19 style convention for 2020. Like the rest of 2020 it may not be the “usual” affair we are accustomed to, but we are hopeful we can create an event which, after so many months in isolation, can reunite members and bring the society together again – with social distancing of course – so we can celebrate in moving forward as a united group of esteemed professionals. At this stage, the mini-convention may be held in mid-October when, hopefully, Australia has opened up completely to domestic tourism for residents of all states and territories.

Saskia Baker and Kylee Kay


There are plenty more webinars coming up (and topics to be explored) but we’re keen to get our members’ thoughts on how often we should be presenting them now that restrictions are being lifted, and what topics you think we should cover. Please keep your eye on our ASTW Facebook page where we’ll be launching a poll next week in which you can vote on these questions. Or, if you’d prefer, you can email your ideas to Catherine Marshall and the professional development sub-committee at Meanwhile, stand by for sessions on memoir writing, creating a Pinterest strategy and advanced video techniques.



While we’ve already mentioned substantiation won’t be a requirement for 2020, we encourage members who haven’t already done so to fish out their published stories and load them onto TravMedia. It’s the perfect place to store and safekeep your travel features for 2021, making substantiation, when it finally rolls around, a far less complicated process. It’s also a place for media to showcase their work to editors, and for both media and PR members to keep abreast of what’s happening in the world of travel.


In this new column we profile our members in the spirit of curiosity and comradeship.


Writer member Alexis is a former music journo who joined the ASTW a year ago. He specialises in adventure travel and is a keen foodie.

What do you never travel without?

A notebook (obviously) and a few pairs of ExOfficio underwear

Aisle or window?

Window, every time

Scariest travel experience?

Being ordered to leave Egypt by police during the Arab Spring… and seeking refuge in Syria

Bucket list destination?

The mountains of Central Asia

Best dining experience while travelling?

Taking a break from a folk music festival in Serbia for a farmhouse spread of home-smoked meats, slow-cooked stews and far too much rakia.



Hearty congratulations to ASTW PR member Gaynor Reid for winning the inaugural GTMA’s Global Travel Communicator Award. The panel of international judges said AccorHotel’s “Wintervention” campaign was “a creative idea with strong execution, and the 66 per cent year-on-year increase in bookings represents a great result! It was a fun and highly effective campaign by the Accor communications team that achieved its objectives on a modest budget.”

Gaynor is vice president communications & CSR Asia Pacific for AccorHotels, and was one of four finalists in the award. Her project contributors included Bridie Commerford, Cynthia Dammerer and Ginni Post. The prize was a US$5,000 Apple Gift Card sponsored by


Thank you to Tourism Authority of Thailand for ensuring our Facebook page was filled with beautiful photographs taken by our talented ASTW members. It has evoked great memories in many of us along with a desire to make a return visit to “The Land of Smiles” as soon as we can. Congratulations to Justin Meneguzzi for taking out first place in TAT’s #HugThailand photo competition with his evocative shot of Wat Pho. And happy 60th birthday TAT สุขสันต์วันเกิด from all of us at ASTW.



The ASTW’s sustainability sub-committee now has four members: Carla Grossetti (committee member), Justine Costigan, Sarah Reid and myself as well as Jennifer Ennion and Kate Hennessy on the working group. We’re all about being inclusive, so if you have any ideas, suggestions or feedback or just want to get help ASTW members work and travel more sustainably, please get in touch with any of us by email or through Facebook.

As the travel cogs start turning again, now is a great time to brush up on sustainable travel tips – so check out the new Sustainable Travel section when it goes live on the ASTW website shortly. It explains why sustainable travel is important, what the sustainability sub-committee does and the difference between sustainable and responsible tourism. There’s also a list of links for everything from animal-friendly and child-safe travel to carbon offsets and destinations that have declared a climate emergency. Feel free to let us know of any others!

Since our last report, we’ve also finalised the new sustainable lunch guidelines, with help from the wonderful Laura Speirs and state lunch coordinators. They will be available to download as a PDF from the website soon. And Kate Hennessy wrote a great new Pro Tips Blog post: “7 sustainable questions to ask before your next famil”. We’ll be adding more posts soon, so let us know if you have a burning sustainable travel-related question or if you’d like to write a post.

For more sustainable travel news, keep an eye on the ASTW Facebook page or wait for the next ASTW newsletter. Until then, happy sustainable travelling.

Louise Southerden


This subcommittee has started looking at whether our current constitution complies with the NSW Department of Fair Trading’s requirements. If anyone is keen to check out the society’s constitution in order to consider and make comments on it, please do – you can find it on our website. Sections like the Code of Ethics might be in need of an update, while some of our joining requirements could potentially be re-drafted to fit with the code. Down the track we would like to invite our members’ input for rewriting the Statement of Objectives of the Society, and possibly coming up with a strategic plan for the society.

Keren Lavelle


Memberships and sponsorships, including awards


  • Saskia Baker
  • Lindy Alexander


  • Elisa Elwin
  • Kylee Kay
  • Christina Pfeiffer
  • Natascha Mirosch

Convention, Lunches and Awards


  • Saskia Baker
  • Kylee Kay
  • Shelley Winkel
  • Angela Saurine

Convention working group

  • Fiona Harper
  • Toni Fan


  • Carla Grossetti (committee member)
  • Laura Speirs (NSW and national coordinator)
  • Alexis Buxton-Collins (Adelaide)
  • Dianna Bortoletto (WA)
  • Belle Jackson (Vic)
  • Sue Fuller and Kerry Keaney (QLD)


  • Elisa Elwin
  • Justine Costigan
  • Mike Smith
  • Peter Hook
  • David McGonigal

Website, Facebook and Professional Development

Professional Development

  • Catherine Marshall
  • Dianne Bortoletto
  • Amanda Kendle
  • Seana Smith

Digital (website, social media etc)

  • Christina Pfeiffer (webmaster)
  • Natascha Mirosch
  • Katie Dundas
  • Digital working group
  • Christina Pfeiffer
  • Kerri McConnel
  • Paula Morgan
  • Amanda Kendle
  • Jim and Christina Butcher

Facebook admins (open page)

  • Kerry Heaney
  • Jennifer Johnston
  • Danielle Lancaster

Social media

  • Jennifer Johnston (Instagram)
  • Tim (Twitter)

Keren, Elisa, Christina (LinkedIn)


  • Carla Grossetti
  • Louise Southerden
  • Justine Costigan
  • Sarah Reid

Sustainability working group

  • Jennifer Ennion
  • Kate Hennessy


  • Elisa Elwin
  • Danielle Lancaster (non-committee member)

Constitution, Legal Documentation, Request for Proposals (RFP)

  • Christina Pfeiffer
  • Kylee Kay (financials)
  • Keren Lavelle

*NOTE: In accordance with the constitution, the president is an ex-officio member of all sub-committees.


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 – July 2020

July 2020

Dear ASTW members,

The pandemic continues. Our industry is now painfully expert at ‘pivoting’, while most of us are surviving on JobKeeper and JobSeeker. We find ourselves in the unprecedented position of watching, waiting and listening but without any control or ability to influence. We move forward, day by day. Planning what we can, shifting when we can’t.

Colleagues, friends and family have become essential where they may have been merely important prior. And now we face a second lockdown and the first NSW-Victoria border closure in over 100 years. Our thoughts and good wishes go out to our Victorian members who face a long six weeks ahead. It could be any of us, and may well be in future. Strength to you all – please keep in touch via the Facebook group page, and let us know if and when you need a friendly chat or a shoulder to lean on.

Meanwhile, the committee continues in its endeavour to best support each other and you, the valued membership. We have successfully on-boarded our new Secretariat, and after a tumultuous few months we celebrate each task handed over to them and left in their expert, enthusiastic hands.

One of our biggest responsibilities has been the planning of our revised, Sydney-based convention, of which you can read more in the newsletter – an exciting development during these uncertain times. We’ve also been working diligently through the recommendations of the awards review panel in preparation for the 2020 ASTW Awards of Excellence.

The committee met for the first time face to face in the Tweed last week. We all realised how fortunate we were to have this opportunity to travel and connect, and how important that sense of engagement and community is, especially in our industry. We are looking forward tremendously to the upcoming ASTW lunches, our convention and future events when we can all celebrate in reunion.

Take care,
Elisa Elwin

ASTW President


Organisation for the 2020 convention is underway. Since our last newsletter, the committee has gone through the process of tendering for a convention manager and received some high-quality responses. A selection panel of three from within your committee was chosen, inclusive of treasury, convention sub-committee members and PR members. After a long process and careful selection, we are pleased to confirm the appointment of The Association Specialists (TAS) to handle management of our upcoming convention. Prior to TAS expanding into board and secretariat management it was in fact a business events organisation and so brings with it decades of experience and a large team full of key area specialists to ensure its clients’ success. The team will be led by Nell Harrison whom we hope you meet during this year’s convention.

Save the date: 20-22 October (unique Sydney location TBA)
Your convention committee has progressed well and has secured its PLATINUM sponsor: Tourism Australia. We are grateful for TA’s support and are delighted to be able to showcase Australia in many forms throughout the suggested program. Further sponsorship opportunities will be availed for various convention components. This year, we embark for the first time on a convention without a host sponsor and are working vigorously to achieve best possible outcomes.

2020 has been hard for all of us and we are very aware that, as these restrictions continue, it gets harder with an increasing loss of media outlets and reductions and, in some cases, removals of budgets to fund our work. In full consideration of this, your committee is aiming to provide a cost-effective program inclusive of two nights’ accommodation but with the ability to pay a much lower cost for conference and dinner attendance and no accommodation. More on this to come but it will in likelihood result as follows:

• 2-day convention with accommodation (including breakfast) — $450 (PR)
• 2-day convention with accommodation (including breakfast) — $350 (writers/other categories)
• 2-day convention with no accommodation — $250
• 1-day convention with no accommodation — $150

Lunch and dinner will be included on each day, along with the awards gala event. In addition to this, we are hopeful there will be a scaled-back famil program with one- and two-night opportunities. More details to come as negotiations progress. Again, this would normally fall to the remit of the host sponsor; however the committee is responsible in these extenuating circumstances for the delivery of these “usual” annual opportunities. Please bear with us as we work to determine the best possible program here, too.

Finally, we are looking forward to sharing a broad range of quality speakers to inspire and educate us and to share with you the ongoing progresses your committee has made during the hardest year of this society’s history at our annual AGM.

Kylee Kay, convention subcommittee




Defining the ASTW’s objectives
As travel and indeed media move into new and uncharted waters in the Covid era, the ASTW committee is keen to seek your input to ensure the society is on the right track. Our governance subcommittee is working hard to formulate a strategic plan with which to articulate our society’s vision. In preparing this plan, the most important question is to resolve our purpose/mission as a not-for-profit society by answering the following questions: Why does the ASTW exist? What does it want? What does it want to look like in three to five years’ time? How will it achieve its purpose? Once we’ve answered these questions, we aim to arrive at a set of key values or guiding principles.

The society’s current statement of objectives state that the ASTW should:

1. Encourage responsible professional standards of reporting.
2. Safeguard the professional independence of travel media.
3. Promote Australia’s travel media as a key segment of the travel and communications industries.
4. Undertake other activities (such as guest speaking or professional development) that contribute to the society’s prime goals of better travel reporting and more satisfying travel.
5. Uphold responsible and professional standards of reporting.

We are very keen to hear our members’ thoughts about what you believe to be the important goals for the society. Objective number 4, with “prime goals of better travel reporting and more satisfying travel” (presumably for all travellers) does seem worthwhile. But is this sufficient? Does the society also seek to elevate the craft and professionalism of travel reporting and publishing, in all forms, and of the interrelationships between professional media and public relations personnel in the travel sphere?

Email your thoughts to us at

Reviewing the constitution
The ASTW Constitution operates under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 (NSW). Our constitution has been rewritten and added to over the years, and to some extent its wording is unclear, even contradictory, or reflects issues of the past which may no longer be relevant.

For example, while two public relations members may be elected to the committee, currently no PR members may hold office-bearer roles – e.g. president, vice president, treasurer or secretary. It may be considered inappropriate for a PR member to be the president of a writers’ society; but on the other hand, it may be unnecessary to restrict PR members with the appropriate skills to be precluded from office bearer roles. Moreover, Digital Publisher members are currently not eligible to stand for election as committee members, and their title doesn’t necessarily reflect their professional function.

Along with developing a strategic plan – with a clearer vision of the society’s aims and strategies for the future, the committee would like to encourage members to contribute to the process of updating our constitution. You can find the constitution on the ASTW website as a downloadable PDF. All changes to the constitution would have to be voted for at a special or annual general meeting. Again, we invite comments on constitutional changes you might like to see.

Please email your thoughts and suggestions to

Keren Lavelle, governance subcommittee


It’s an interesting time to be a travel writer or PR. First, we can’t travel freely. Second, we’ve either been watching or engaging in the fresh wave of Black Lives Matter protests at home and abroad. Meanwhile, we’re seeing a growing spotlight on the lack of media diversity in Australia, with travel journalism being one of the most obvious examples. Possibly, this is because the barriers to entry are high, the income is unsteady, and success often relies on the power of personal networks that aren’t accessible to all potential players. Merit is only part of the picture.

We also know domestic travel is going to massively peak. Literally all of our travels will be here, in Australia, on Aboriginal land. Land we’ve been acknowledging as belonging to its traditional custodians for years, in our internationally envied Welcome to Country and acknowledgment addresses.

It all dovetails quite persuasively into now being a great time to be part of a meaningful solution. And if we agree, that could begin with the Uluru Statement.

Why ASTW endorsement?
‘Sovereignty was never ceded’ and ‘always was, always will be’ have become common ways to reference Australia’s statehood. No matter which way you spin it – both are true. Just as terra nullius was a lie. These are facts, which journalists, more than any other profession, are committed to. And the era for truth telling is upon us. We know this because our First Nations people have told us. Truth telling is an essential part of their healing, first, and of our collective healing, second. Australia started the process of truth telling nationally in 1997 with the Bringing them Home report into what became known as the Stolen Generation, a practice that continued until the 1970s. Today, one of the most hopeful and pragmatic Indigenous-led efforts of its time is the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

What is it?
This high-profile declaration was endorsed by 250 Indigenous leaders at Uluru, on Anangu land, in May 2017. It requested a First Nations advisory body to parliament be enshrined in the constitution, as well as a process of agreement making and truth telling to be supervised by a Makarrata Commission. Makarrata is a Yolngu word for peace after a dispute.

I challenge anyone to read the Uluru Statement and not be profoundly moved. Reading it to the children in your family is a challenge worth taking on! This paragraph particularly is the entry point for non-Indigenous Australians to step up.

“In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”

Many organisations have publicly endorsed the Uluru Statement. Endorsement can be as simple as making a public statement to that effect. Or it can be more. It’s up to the organisation and its members. For now, I simply propose the former as a first step.

Other endorsing organisations include Qantas, Shoalhaven City Council, Intrepid Travel, Woolworths, Marie Claire, Fred Hollows Foundation, Gilbert + Tobin, BHP, Curtin University, Goldman Sachs, Beyond Blue, NSW Teachers Federation, Seafolly, MacDonalds, KPMG, Lendlease, National Rugby League, PwC Australia, Swinburne University of Technology, Woodside and Aboriginal land councils around the country.

Eighteen of the nation’s leading law firms declared their support last year, as did 21 chief executives and chairmen from investment banks, super funds and accounting firms. Two former chief justices of the High Court of Australia, Murray Gleeson and Robert French, have delivered powerful endorsements.

Have your say: should the ASTW endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart?


I’ll leave you with this quote, from Thomas Mayor. He’s a Torres Strait Islander man raised on Larrakia land in Darwin who was present at the Uluru meeting.

“I saw people who’d been passionately debating each other, embracing, crying with hope. That emotional investment should not be forgotten. And reaching a consensus of 250 of around 270, that’s a very significant majority.

“It was a solution that went to the root cause of the issue, to structural powerlessness. Who wants to wait another generation or two before we have another meeting like that?”

Kate Hennessy, ASTW member


The ASTW has introduced an ambassador program designed to encourage stronger ties with its new members, which we believe is fundamental to growing the membership and fostering new friendships within the fraternity. The ambassador program was born due to feedback from some members who described how daunting it was attending their first ASTW event. In a normal pre-pandemic calendar year, the ASTW conducts multiple lunch events across Australia as well as the annual convention and awards ceremony. While pandemic protocols will dictate the way lunches proceed in 2020, the brand ambassadors will be on hand to play a small role in greeting new members as they arrive at lunch events. The following members were invited to act as ASTW ambassadors to facilitate introductions at networking events. We thank them for their interest in being involved in the ambassador program and we hope it’s an enjoyable and enriching experience for the ambassadors and the new members who will be met by a friendly face at networking events.

· Kate Symons — Sydney, NSW
· Monique Ceccato — Perth, WA
· Christine Salins — Brisbane, Qld
· Alexis Buxton Collins — Adelaide, SA
· Justin Meneguzzi — Melbourne, Vic

Carla Grossetti



With so many of our members financially affected by the travel restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of Covid, the ASTW decided to freeze substantiation for the next 12 months. While it is not possible for the organisation to waive membership fees and remain viable, we would like to thank all those who have supported the ASTW through these troubling times by promptly paying their invoice. It is because of this support from its 350-strong membership base that the ASTW is better able to represent the professional travel writers, photographers, editors, radio and TV presenters, filmmakers, bloggers, digital influencers and public relations representatives that make up the organisation. In addition to the webinars that the ASTW has provided free of charge, members will also be receiving value by attending our August lunch, which has been subsidised 100 per cent by Tourism Australia. Thank you again for your commitment to our organisation.

*NB your ASTW membership fees are 100 per cent tax deductible.


As part of our spring clean, the committee is busy cross-checking the membership database to ensure our members have applied for the correct categories or have changed to the appropriate category should their circumstances necessitate it. Category relevancy can change depending on the type of work you do and where you earn the bulk of your income (Covid notwithstanding!). To assist us, we’d appreciate it if you would check the list of categories and notify the secretariat at should you need to move to a different one.


The following new member applications have been approved by the committee. Any objections should be lodged with the secretariat within 30 days at
• Mark Sariban – Associate Writer member
• Wendy (Gwen) Luscombe – Associate Writer member
• Chris Ashton – Associate Writer member
• Chris Singh – Associate Writer member



Since our last report, the new Sustainable Travel section has gone up on the ASTW website and includes links to useful information and tips to help you travel more ethically. There’s information on everything from respecting the world’s First Nations people to child-friendly tourism, plus tools to evaluate animal-based experiences and better care for the natural environment.

There’s also information about carbon offsetting and the coalition of tourism businesses that have declared a climate emergency – two topics that will soon be covered on blogs on the website. The sub-committee is also working on a couple of sustainable travel-themed webinars relevant to Australia-centric trips; more on these soon, too.

We’re happy to report that the tender document for this year’s ASTW Convention included, for the first time, our new Sustainability Guidelines. While these aren’t set-in-stone requirements, they’re important to establish an ethical baseline we hope potential event sponsors, and future sponsors, will find helpful.

Remember that the ASTW website has contact details for all four of us on the sustainability subcommittee – Justine Costigan, Sarah Reid, Carla Grossetti and me – so please get in touch if you have any ideas, suggestions or feedback or want to lend a hand on a specific project. You can also message us through Facebook.

Thanks for your support!

Louise Southerden, sustainability subcommittee



ASTW events return to Queensland this month with a lunch at Spicers Hidden Vale hosted by Ipswich Tourism on 31 July, coupled with an optional famil of the Ipswich region. In August, lunches in NSW, VIC and Qld will be hosted by Tourism Australia, which is picking up the cost of tickets. A reminder that these lunches are for ASTW members only. Special thanks to our national lunch coordinator Laura Speirs in NSW, Belle Jackson in Victoria, who was instrumental in securing Tourism Australia’s sponsorship, and Kerry Heaney and Sue Fuller in Queensland, for all the work they have done during these challenging times. Queensland lunch invitations are imminent and work will continue with WA and SA lunch organisers to line up lunches in their respective states. If you are interested in hosting a lunch in WA or SA, please contact the state lunch organisers directly:

WA – Dianne Bortoletto
WA – Monique Ceccato
SA – Alexis Buxton-Collins


Webinars are continuing apace (in partnership with our hosts, TravMedia) and there are now 14 professional development sessions in the ASTW library. You can find them online and watch them at your convenience. Meanwhile, here is the line-up for the rest of this month:

Public Relations 101 with Dianne Bortoletto: 15 July 2020, 11am EDT
A seasoned PR in the tourism space and also a freelance writer, Di Bortoletto will present a PR 101 webinar that will cover how to create a PR strategy, preparing a media kit, generating publicity, media monitoring and account management. There will be plenty of time for questions, so if you’re considering moving into PR or representing some clients, or just want to understand more about the mysteries of PR, this webinar is for you.

How to improve your photography with Heidi Lewis: 22 July 2020, 11am EDT
Learn how to take better photographs on any device with ASTW member and veteran photographer Heidi Lewis. This webinar will cover the most important elements of photography: story, composition and light. Heidi will look at the importance of image size requirements and outcome requirements for photographs while giving specific advice on how best to tackle themes such as food, architecture, people and landscapes. Suitable for beginners and advanced photographers alike.

Telling responsible stories: wildlife and conservation, with Ben Pearson, Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection Australia and Julie McIntosh, founder of The Classic Safari Company, 29 July 2020, 11am EDT
Would you ride an elephant? Or walk with lions bred for canned hunting? In order to write responsibly about wildlife and conservation we need to be responsible travellers ourselves. In this webinar, facilitated by Catherine Marshall, we ask experts in their fields how best to do this – and how to influence our readers to become responsible travellers in turn.


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.




Special Resolutions Explanatory Memorandum & Electronic Ballot

20 August 2020

The ASTW Committee have undertaken a review of the ASTW Constitution and proposed a range of amendments to update terminology and definitions to better reflect the current environment, rectify contradictions in the current document and to adjust the composition of the Committee to allow for broader representation.

The amendments have been grouped with a summary of the change and the reasoning behind the amendment. A marked-up Constitution highlighting the changes is also linked below.

Each amendment is presented to the members as a special resolution via electronic ballot per the requirements of the Constitution. In order for the amendments to pass, at least 75% of eligible voters (Full Writer Members and Digital Publishers) must vote in favour of the change.

We invite Full Writer Members and Digital Publishers to please carefully read the Special Resolution Explanatory Memorandum and drafted Constitution with amendments, and vote by electronic ballot by Saturday 19 September, 11:45pm.


Authorised by the ASTW Committee
20 August 2020

Special Resolution Explanatory Memorandum 

Marked-up ASTW Constitution with amendments

Vote will only be counted if membership for 2020-21 is fully paid.

ASTW Newsletter – August 2020

August 2020

Dear ASTW members,

What a rollercoaster this year has been. And as far as we can tell, there is no sign the peaks and troughs will be flattening out anytime soon – for both the world at large and, on a micro scale, for the ASTW committee.
Front of mind for us all right now are our Melbourne and regional Victorian members, forced to endure Australia’s toughest Covid-19 restrictions thus far. The load you’re enduring – financial, emotional, physical – is immense, and we’re thinking of you. Please reach out, via the Facebook page or in person, should you find yourself in need of a friendly voice and some industry solidarity. We wish you good health above all else.
Since the last dispatch, the committee has been hard at work figuring out how to maximise our members’ benefits and determining which events can be salvaged this year. As you know, we have regrettably had to cancel our face-to-face convention, and have been working on an online awards event and AGM. The good news is that our highly anticipated ASTW Awards of Excellence are now open, and we look forward to celebrating with the winners later in the year.

The bad news is that we’ve been forced by the pandemic to defer our AGM. Given this delay, a decision has been made by two of our much-valued members, Carla Grossetti and Keren Lavelle, to step down from committee as per their original plan of serving until what was originally planned as a September AGM. Carla and Keren both filled breaches in the committee during an intensely difficult period earlier this year, and worked diligently and tirelessly as members of a team united in building a strong and ethical society. Their contribution cannot be underestimated, and we thank them unreservedly for it.

In the midst of such turmoil and change, we urge our members to consider the toll Covid is having on us all, and to support your committee as we attempt to bring this difficult year to a professional conclusion. We look forward to commencing 2021 with new committee members, fresh energy, new ideas and even more vigour to enhance all the work of committees past in elevating our society as a leader in our industry for travel media.

Kind regards,

Elisa Elwin
ASTW President



In highly anticipated news, entries for the 2020 ASTW Awards for Excellence opened on Monday 10 August. Given the current media and travel environment, there has never been a more important time to recognise the very best published work and tourism promotion by ASTW members.

The announcement of the 18 categories follows a comprehensive review of the 2019 Awards for Excellence by the Awards Review Panel. Their recommendations, along with feedback from members, were assessed by a specially appointed ASTW Awards sub-committee, which didn’t comprise any current ASTW Committee members or members intending to nominate for this year’s awards. The Awards sub-committee was tasked with the job of revising the scope and criteria for categories to ensure greater clarity and relevance.

Updated categories include ‘PR Professional of the Year’, which replaces the previous ‘PR Communicator of the Year’ category first introduced in 2019, and ‘The Best Responsible Tourism Story’ category has also been changed to ‘Best Sustainable Tourism Story’. To ensure maximum participation in the Best Travel Book award will be held over for a year, with entries in 2021 Awards covering the previous two years.

The Awards sub-committee also reviewed judges, who have been selected for their long-standing expertise in their field – writing, editing, publishing, photography, PR, and digital media – and are sourced from across Australia and overseas. They volunteer their time, which is massively appreciated, but to ensure transparency they cannot be members of the ASTW and must declare any conflict of interest when judging entries.

For the first time this year, entries will be made through a new, sophisticated software program called Award Force, which will ensure that the considerable administrative requirements of organising an Awards program are streamlined, taking the awards to a new level of professionalism. The system will require members to register, and with the entry system being new, members may need to allocate a little more time to ensure they upload their submissions correctly. In other words, act early, rather than last minute!
Entries can be made via until Friday 28 August.

IMPORTANT: Please note, only paid-up members are eligible to enter the awards.


The ASTW is calling for sponsors for the 2020 Awards of Excellence, to be presented at a gala event in November. The event will comprise an online ceremony in conjunction with simultaneous state-by-state events where allowable. This esteemed annual gathering gives sponsors the opportunity to align themselves with Australia’s most respected association of travel media. In this unprecedented year, we acknowledge the restrictions placed on our PR members’ clients, and have taken this into account when packaging our sponsorship opportunities. Details will be available through a document posted to the ASTW FB page as well as our website.



The ASTW committee has announced that the 2020 awards event and AGM will go online for the first time in the society’s history. The awards ceremony will be held on November 5, 2020. The AGM will now take place in December, giving ample time for organisation and the possibility of state-by-state, in-person functions to coincide.

The President of the ASTW, Elisa Elwin, says the committee made the decision to hold the awards night on November 5 after enduring the most difficult year in the history of the organisation. Elwin says the travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 crisis have led to the necessary cancellation first of the Whitsundays convention and thereafter the modified Sydney convention.

“We acknowledge that both cancellations are a blow to the committee, which has worked so hard to deliver great results for the membership,” she says.

Elwin also acknowledges the impact Covid-19 has had on our industry is now being keenly felt across the board as writers, digital influencers and PR members struggle to find their feet in a landscape that is changing on an almost daily basis. She adds the tumultuous exit in March of five of the 2019 elected committee members has taken its toll on the current committee members, especially as it coincided with the first wave of the pandemic.

“Given the delay of the AGM, a decision has been made by two of our much valued and hard-working members, Carla Grossetti and Keren Lavelle, not to renominate as per their original commitment of coming onboard in the interim until what was originally scheduled as a 3-6 September AGM,” Elwin says.

“Carla and Keren both filled breaches in the committee during an intensely difficult period earlier this year, and have worked diligently and tirelessly as members of our team who were united in building a strong and ethical society,” she says.

Elwin says the remaining committee members would like to take this opportunity to thank Carla and Keren for their tireless work and dedication to the society and their contribution during a time that has inflicted havoc on our industry.

“I would also like to thank the committee members who have made the tough decision to stay on amid this most challenging period. With states under lockdown, shutting borders and most of the world on pause, members Kylee Kay, Christina Pfeiffer, Catherine Marshall and Natascha Mirosch remain committed to building a better organisation that has an inclusive, professional and collegiate culture with ethics and integrity at its core,” Elwin says.

With nearly four months to go until the AGM, the decision has also been taken to fill casual vacancies on the committee. Expressions of interest are being sought and should be directed to the committee via email to Further details of the responsibilities of committee members and position descriptions will be shared with those interested in joining.


As Covid-19 and subsequent restrictions wreak havoc on our industry, we would like to assure our members of our unflagging support. It’s been gratifying to see members reach out to each other; to commiserate or, conversely, to celebrate the small wins that have become so important in these uncertain times. We thank each and every one of you for your part in creating this supportive and caring community.

And if you need a reminder of the more tangible benefits of ASTW membership, including updates relating to Covid-19, please click here. We encourage you to take full advantage of all that ASTW membership offers.

Thank you to all our members who responded to our call-out to update your profile pic and background image on the ASTW member directory. It was wonderful to see that around 40 members updated their biographies and background pics, which range from the English countryside to Uluru and Antarctica. If you haven’t got around to updating your profile, please take a moment to do so.

Also, if you haven’t already done so, please consider uploading the ASTW logo to your email signature. It’s both a great way to signify your status as a professional and to publicise the ASTW. There is one for each member type and you can find them on the ASTW website here.

If you need help uploading a pic, or the ASTW logo to your email signature, please contact the secretariat at

It’s been a busy few months for our new secretariat, The Association Specialists (TAS), and the committee is pleased to report that our main points of contact, Annie and Rachel, are proving themselves to be invaluable assets. They’ve helped streamline our committee processes and engagement through the implementation of efficient platforms such as Our Cat Herder and Asana, and have produced monthly reports which log precise activities and clearly show the hours worked. They can be contacted on 02 9431 8663 or


The following new member applications have been approved by the committee. Any objections should be lodged with the secretariat within 30 days at
• Madelin Tomelty – Associate Writer member
• Chris Chamberlin – Associate Writer member
• Nannette Holliday – Associate Writer member




Members will remember that in the last newsletter we put a yes/no vote to you to determine whether or not the ASTW should endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The numbers are in and it’s a resounding ‘yes’ in favour. We wanted to let those of you who voted, and were curious, know the outcome. We’re now working out which steps to take in order to make our endorsement official, and we will be in touch.

Kate Hennessy


If you haven’t yet attended Zoom drinks hosted by Amanda Kendle and Tracey Croke you’re in for a treat. Amanda and Tracey have hosted these now-monthly events since Covid-19 hit in March 2020, and have turned drinks at the bar into drinks at our individual homes, giving our members a much-needed outlet to socialise. All you need to do is download the Zoom app, pour yourself a drink, click on the link provided each month in an email reminder and on the ASTW Facebook group, and wait for the barflies to join you. To whet your appetite, here are some of the things you’ve been missing:

* Kylee’s fire twirling
* Delightful tales of everyone’s first ever flights
* Dianne’s sunset tours of Margaret River
* Birthday songs from Caro (who also spread her love of bandanas)
* Tracey not crashing while giving us a cycling tour through Manly
* Premiere of Shelley’s new video skills
* Flexible ASTWers: Keren’s yoga and Monique’s contortionist antics
* Making new friends, and learning more about old friends




A huge thank you to long-term member Sue Gough Henly, who has generously volunteered to convene the new ASTW book club, the first of which will be held via Zoom on Tuesday 15 September at 6pm AEST. Members can join in the discussion by clicking this link; password ASTW.

SEPTEMBER BOOK CLUB PICK: The Yield by Tara June Winch

Our inaugural book club pick is this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award Winner The Yield, by Wiradjuri author Tara June Winch. We thought our members might enjoy this virtual announcement of the winner on YouTube. In line with the ASTW’s support of the Uluru Statement and #blacklivesmatter movement, we recommend The Yield for its relevance at a time when we must all make a contribution towards imagining a post-reconciliation future for Australia. Winch has described the novel as a ‘handbook for truth’. We hope you enjoy reading it, and look forward to discussing it in more depth at our first book club.


A hearty shout-out is long overdue for our webinar subcommittee members Amanda Kendle, Dianne Bortoletto and Seana Smith, whose energetic and enthusiastic work has brought together speakers on a range of subjects for our professional development program. You can access our library here, and follow our experts – many of them valued ASTW members – as they take you through the process of polishing your skills, from writing a good sentence to writing an entire book. If there are any topics you’d like us to cover, or if you have skills of your own to share, please don’t hesitate to contact us on Meanwhile, whet your appetite on these upcoming topics.

Catherine Marshall, professional development subcommittee

How to work with State Tourism Organisations, with Shelley Winkel of Tourism and Events Queensland and host Dianne Bortoletto, 12 August 2020, 11am AEST
In the second in this series hosted by Dianne Bortoletto, the ASTW’s very own Shelley Winkel from Tourism and Events Queensland will discuss how TEQ’s overarching business objectives help shape the experiences they’d like travel media to cover, divulge seven (or more!) simple things you can do to improve your chances for famil support, and help you understand you true competitive advantage when it comes to attracting STO time, money and attention. This is another great opportunity for members who aren’t confident in approaching STOs for famils to pick up some invaluable insights.

How to get started as a travel (or general) copywriter with Emily McAuliffe, 19 August 2020, 11am AEST
If you fancy taking on some copywriting work to diversify your income and assignments or want to learn how to write your own web content and marketing material, this webinar is for you. In this session, travel copywriter Emily McAuliffe will explain what copywriting is and how it differs from feature writing, how to approach a copywriting project, and how to master common copywriting terminology and the basics of SEO. She’ll also share some tips on how to find work and price your projects.



How vibrant is our social media looking these days? Our generous and hardworking volunteers are doing a fantastic job keeping it fresh and interesting, with help from your photographic contributions and pithy writing.
Don’t forget to follow all our accounts (handles as per below) and hashtag #astw and tag @astw_inc in your own travel-related social media – we love to re-tweet and re-gram our members’ work. And if you’re on a famil (remember those?!) consider tagging the PR person/company who supported it as well – that way they’ll get extra love when we re-tweet or re-gram your post.

Again, a warm thank you to our social media team for all that they do. And a special thanks to Kerry Heaney and Danielle Lancaster, who along with Jennifer Johnston have worked tirelessly on the open Facebook page. Kerry and Danielle are taking a well-deserved break, so if you’d like to put up your hand to help Jennifer Johnston, please contact us at

Our Social Media All-Stars
Tim Richards (Twitter: @ASTWinc)
Belle Jackson & Jennifer Morton (Instagram: @astw_portraits/@astw_inc)
Jennifer Johnston (ASTW Facebook open page:
Katie Dundas (LinkedIn: Australia Society of Travel Writers)



In what looks like a popular trend, Queensland members jumped on the bus for another long lunch that was enjoyed over two days. The fun started on July 31 as 20 guests explored the Ipswich region, with highlights including a visit to an olive and lime farm and workshop making boho posies in a teepee.

Lunch at the two-hatted Homage Restaurant in Spicers Hidden Vale — where the homestead has recently been rebuilt after a devastating fire — was another highlight, followed by a tour of the wildlife centre sponsored by the Turner Family Foundation. The evening was then spent drinking local Pumpyard beer, dining at Dovetails and eating interesting ice cream combos including blue cheese and fig and salted caramel, bacon and pecan. Overnight accommodation venues included Quest Ipswich Apartments and Cumquat House, a 1930s heritage B&B.

Day two was spent meeting the animals at Ipswich Nature Centre and experiencing a Japanese tea ceremony at Nerima Gardens, both in Queens Park. With guidance from Indigenous artist Ronald Vieritz, guests had to find their creative sides and experiment with dot painting at a Sip ‘n’ Dip class in the park. Ronald’s advice was that we could probably sell our paintings but not to give up our day jobs. A big thank you to Carly Morrissey for making this event happen during such uncertain times. Stay tuned for the next event, which we hope will be city-based and accessible to all members.

— Kerry Heaney and Sue Fuller


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.

New Committee Line-Up

Awards Sponsorship 2020

The ASTW has released details of sponsorship opportunities available for the upcoming awards event scheduled for 5 November.

Download the Awards Sponsorship & Application Form.

Please feel free to email for further information.


ASTW Convention accommodation RFT released

June 18, 2020: The Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) committee today released a Request For Tender for an accommodation partner for the upcoming 2020 ASTW Convention scheduled to be held in October in Sydney, NSW. With the release of the RFT, the ASTW is inviting interested parties to submit an offer for the contract position by June 26, 2020. The tender document can be viewed here

 ASTW president Elisa Elwin said the ASTW as a whole is looking forward to reuniting as many members as possible in Sydney after what has been the most turbulent year for the travel and media industry in the history of the ASTW. 

 “We are already in strong discussions with industry partners to assist us in creating our convention and, although it will look different to previous years, the event will be an uplifting and inclusive occasion,” Elwin said.

“The convention will also provide opportunities for members of the ASTW to support our domestic tourism industry, which has also faced unprecedented challenges throughout the year, from the bushfires to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic,” she says.

Elwin said members of the ASTW are focused on planning stories and content and continuing the relationship with fellow members of the tourism industry by inspiring readers to think about where they next want to travel to.

For further details, please email

The Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) has been the peak travel writing body in the country for more than 40 years. Its more than 350 members include writers, photographers, editors, radio and television presenters, filmmakers, bloggers, digital influencers and public relations representatives who are professionally engaged to produce articles, reviews, photographs, stories and social media commentary on national and international travel destinations and experiences.    

For more information about the ASTW, visit our website or contact our PR representatives Saskia Baker or Kylee Kay

The request for tender document can be viewed here


The Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) committee today released a Request For Tender for the role of Secretariat and Convention Manager for the ASTW and is inviting interested parties to submit an offer for the contract positions by May 14, 2020.

The tender document can be viewed here. The tender offer must outline which contract the applicant it responding to; Secretariat, Convention Manager or both Secretariat and Convention Manager.

ASTW president Elisa Elwin said the committee is looking forward to the process of filling the role and working closely with the incoming secretariat to shape the future of the organisation post-Covid-19.

“Like our whole industry, the society is at a turning point and the entire committee is working tirelessly around the clock to deliver better processes, greater transparency, and more value to our members”.

For further details, please email

Comprising more than 300 members, the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) has been the peak travel writing body in the country for more than 40 years. Members include writers, photographers, editors, radio and television presenters, filmmakers, bloggers, digital influencers and public relations representatives who are professionally engaged to produce articles, reviews, photographs, stories and social media commentary on national and international travel destinations and experiences.

For more information about the ASTW, visit our website or contact Saskia Baker or Kylee Kay