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Around the world

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives is working to enhance the global business travel industry with a new programme developing the skills of professionals and students alike

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ACTE’s ‘around the world in 80 hours’ launched its second semester in Beijing, China on September 7 and, after spending a week absorbing the culture, it was time for the delegation journey to Sydney, Australia.

‘Around the world’ is a certified, hands-on, training and development programme focused on global business travel management, for travel professionals and students looking to enter the industry. It teaches participants as much market knowledge of the destination as possible, through a series of seminars, and economic and cultural events with industry VIPs. In addition, there are site visits to local suppliers of business travel products and optional cultural activities.

The sunny side of business
Sydney – the capital of New South Wales (NSW) – is ideally positioned as a gateway to Australia and the Asian Pacific. It’s a city blessed with fine weather, friendly people and a stunning natural landscape. With a lifestyle comparable to that of North America and Europe, Australia also has similar legal systems, education and business cultures and, of course, English is the predominant language. Located in the southern hemisphere, September was springtime in Sydney and delegates enjoyed sunny days and balmy temperatures.

Consistently rated as one of the world’s most liveable cities, Sydney isn’t just a spectacular place to see, it is also a thriving commercial centre, a global city with around four million inhabitants. Sydney’s economy is strong and diverse, with a reliable infrastructure and a lifestyle second to none. Recession seems to have bypassed the city and, at the height of the global downturn in 2009, NSW was awarded the triple A rating from both Moody’s and Standard & Poor for financial stability.

Commercially, NSW is known for its mineral resource industry, particularly the export of coal, and the region dominates exports of professional, financial, computer and information services in Australia, reflecting its strength as a provider of solutions to businesses worldwide. Manufacturing is big here too. Pharmaceutical products, medical devices, electrical equipment and machinery represent more than two-thirds of manufacturing exports, showing the state’s technological strength. The agricultural industry is also important, and continues to grow.

Worth the journey
There is no doubt that delegates travelling to Sydney from Europe and the US have a long trip ahead of them, but this doesn’t have to be a negative. As airlines have become more competitive, flights have developed in luxury and comfort, with beds the norm in many business class cabins, increasingly sophisticated inflight technology and great cuisine. The journey can now be something to look forward to – a chance to catch up on movies, sleep and work.

Sydney is Australia’s main airport and most carriers offering long-haul flights land here. Once grounded, Sydney’s fast airport train will whizz you to the centre of the city in only fifteen minutes. Before boarding the train, delegates had the chance ‘to go behind the scenes’ at the airport as part of the programme. Sunday September 16 was a free day for sightseeing and cultural activities, and delegates took full advantage of this. In the centre of town nobody can miss Sydney’s most recognisable icons – the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. A boat trip around the harbour takes visitors up close to these feats of architecture and is an excellent way to enjoy the city. Annually September is whale-watching month, with expeditions leaving from King Wharf Quay.

City of culture
Museums, galleries (including historical art by the aboriginal people of Australia), wonderful restaurants and good shopping are all to be found. If a few extra days can be tagged on, within easy reach of Sydney city centre are sandy beaches (notably the famous Bondi Beach), national parks and suburbs with their own unique indentities. Sport is an important part of Sydney’s culture – rugby league, soccer, rugby union, Aussie rules football, tennis and, of course, cricket. What better way to feel the spirit of Australia than with a National Rugby League premiership match? Games can be seen at stadiums in Sydney on Friday, through Monday nights. With the Sydney Spring Carnival taking place in September at various courses, horse racing was another entertaining option enjoyed by the delegates.

Australia is home to unique wildlife and, if time does not permit seeing them in the wild, Sydney’s Taronga Zoo houses beautiful kangeroos, koala bears, wombats, emus, dingoes, platypus and possums.

So much to do and see, but so little time. Every ACTE ‘Around the world in 80 hours’ participant departed Sydney on September 22 with a full knowledge of the business travel management scene in Australia, and with some great memories of a vibrant city. They are off to Delhi next, with Dubai, Frankfurt and São Paulo also on the intinerary.

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