About AOT

History of the AOT Group

THE 1980's

The AOT Group Ltd (AOT) was founded in November 1987 by CEO Andrew Burnes. Today the company is owned by Andrew Burnes (CEO) and Cinzia Burnes (COO).  

Originally called "The Australian Outback Travel Company", AOT commenced 4WD adventure tours in May 1988, running trips from Cairns to surrounding destinations including Cape Tribulation, Cooktown, Cape York and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Between 1988 and 2000 AOT took over 2,000 clients to the tip of Cape York and over 20,000 clients to Cape Tribulation.

THE 1990's

Following on from the pilot's strike in 1989, AOT started offering services as an Inbound Tour Operator in 1990 and over the following 6 years became the largest ITO in Australia.

In 1994 AOT purchased the Australian business of the Passport Tour Company and commenced operating a Sydney-based Destination Management Company, the Australian Incentive Travel Company (AITC). In 1998 AITC purchased the business of Landmark Travel and incorporated this business into the business of AITC, including the very successful shipping division and in 2000 the business of AITC was incorporated into AOT Inbound.

In 1994 AOT also commenced our domestic wholesale operation, "Travelpoint", which initially produced wholesale programs for the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.

In 1997 AOT began offering inbound services in New Zealand and in 1999 opened an office in Auckland. Today this office handles the inbound business from most of our major clients to New Zealand and is now one of the largest Inbound Tour Operators in New Zealand.

After being in Cairns for 10 years, AOT shifted its head office from Cairns to Melbourne in January 1998 into our St Kilda Road office and since that time has continued to grow and develop the range of services and business expertise offered.


2000 saw the Sydney Olympics come to Australia and AOT played a major role, making travel arrangements for over 18,000 passengers during the games. AOT also sold off its 4WD adventure tours operation at this time.

Following on from the terrorist attacks in September 2001 and the collapse of Ansett, AOT focussed on retaining our team and surviving this challenging period.

After three years of consolidation, in 2004 AOT went back on the expansion trail, purchasing the online businesses and, two of Australia's leading online hotel portals.

In the same year, AOT successfully tendered to take over the operations of New South Wales Holidays under licence from Tourism New South Wales. AOT purchased this business from the NSW Government in 2008.

In July 2005 AOT took over the operations of Sunlover Holidays under licence from Tourism Queensland and the Queensland Government adding Australia's premier wholesale operation to its group of distribution businesses further increasing its buying power, channel distribution opportunities and economies of scale. AOT purchased this business outright from the Queensland Government in 2008.

2007 saw the purchase of to add to our stable of on-line portals.

During 2006 and 2007 AOT opened up offices in Mumbai and Shanghai to bolster our business from Asia and in April, 2008 purchased the business of Experience Tours Australia (ETA), the leading inbound tour operator in Australia specialising in markets right across Asia. Experience Tours has operation centres in Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast and sales offices in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Mumbai.

In September 2008 AOT purchased the business of Great Aussie Holidays, a Perth based domestic wholesaler and inbound tour operator and the Great Aussie brand is still used today as part of our Sunlover Holidays range of product.

In 2009 AOT purchased the business of Pacific Spirit Travel, Australia's largest inbound operator specialising in the French and South American markets.

THE 2010's

AOT has continued to grow this decade and in 2011 we entered into a 50/50 joint-venture partnership with Air New Zealand to establish Pacific Leisure Group Limited, which now operates the Air New Zealand Holidays business and sells Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and North America as well as global content via Air New Zealand portals.

In 2012 AOT tendered for and was appointed the Accommodation Program Manager by the Department of Finance and Deregulation for all Agencies and Departments of the Federal Government. Details of our AOTHotels operation can be found on our dedicated site,

In early 2013 AOT began relocating from our Melbourne head office in St Kilda Road to our new "World Headquarters" in South Melbourne adjacent to South Wharf and the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

In October 2013 AOT acquired the business of ATS Pacific in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji together with a 60% share in Tourist Transport Fiji (TTF).

And in early 2014 AOT took over the operations of Territory Discoveries under licence for 3 years from Tourism NT and the Northern Territory Government.

In February 2016 The AOT Group merged with Helloworld Travel to form a diversified travel business. See the Helloworld Travel Limited website here.

In addition to our head office in Melbourne AOT has offices in Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Auckland, Nadi, Shanghai, Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Milan, Rarotonga, Munich and London.