Thursday, 31 January 2013

Better Homes & Gardens Gets Lost and Finds the Real Singapore

Dr Harry at the Singapore Zoo
Channel Seven's Logie Award winning program Better Homes and Gardens will kick off their 2013 season in one of Australia's favourite international destinations, Singapore, this Friday evening 1st February at 7.30pm AEDT.

In line with Singapore Tourism Board's ongoing 'Get Lost and Find the Real Singapore' campaign the 90-minute episode aims to showcase the real Singapore beyond the familiar like the Singapore Sling, Chilli Crab and Orchard Road to challenge Australians to seek out the unfamiliar in Singapore.

Showcasing an assortment of things to see in Singapore, the episode is bound to tempt the taste buds with authentic Singaporean recipes cooked by Fast Ed atop the skypark of Marina Bay Sands, while  Graham will discover 2012's hottest new attraction, the gigantic 101-hectare Gardens by the Bay, highlighting the city's green transformation. Dr. Harry will also bring you up close and personal with animals you've never seen before at one of the world's best zoos.

Singapore Tourism Board Area Director Sandra Leong comments, "We are confident the Better Homes and Gardens Singapore special will show a different side of Singapore that will persuade more Australians to put Singapore on their destinations-to-do-list. Singapore is filled with a vibrant mix of cultural experiences, green spaces, mouth-watering hawker food, unique shopping finds in little back alleys and 24-hour attractions - which travellers will have to get beneath the skin of the city to find."

Viewers will also be encouraged to get lost and find the real Singapore like the Better Homes and Gardens team, with the enhanced Singapore Stopover Holiday deal promoted through the program. The new deal will offer Aussies amazing stopover accommodation and attraction deals. This includes free admission to Gardens by the Bay, Universal Studios Singapore and walking tours of historically-rich culture areas when they fly with Singapore Airlines before September 2013.

Tune in to Better Homes and Gardens at 7.30pm this Friday to Get Lost and Find the Real Singapore for yourself!

For more information on Singapore visit: www.yoursingapore.com/getlost 

For more information on Better Homes and Gardens visit: http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/better-homes-gardens

Photo: Fast Ed in Singapore cooking on the Marina Bay Sands Skypark

Business as Usual for Fraser Coast Tourism

Hervey Bay
The worst of the wet and windy weather has "checked out" of the Fraser Coast and it is now business as usual for visitors to one of Queensland's favourite tourism destinations.

Tourism Fraser Coast general manager Pip Close said a significant clean-up operation had been underway since heavy wind and rains impacted the area as a result of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald.

"I'm pleased to say the worst of the weather has left us and thanks to a great effort by all concerned, the Fraser Coast is virtually back to normal,'' Ms Close said.

"Fraser Island is open and its business as usual, while Hervey Bay is also back to normal although people need to drive via Torbanlea due to a road closure at Maryborough,'' she said.

"The beaches are open and the sheltered waters of Hervey Bay are proving a popular drawcard for families."

The Fraser Coast Airport is open and all coach services are operational. The Bruce Highway from Brisbane to Rockhampton is also now open.

"Overall there has been limited major infrastructure damage; the majority of tourism businesses are open and operational,'' Ms Close said.

Tourism Fraser Coast, Tourism Events Queensland, local government and industry stakeholders were working together to develop strategies to assist affected tourism businesses.

Fraser Coast Airport
Travellers have been advised to contact their travel agent, airline, accommodation provider or tour operator directly if concerned about a current booking.

Ms Close said Tourism Fraser Coast in conjunction with WOTIF had launched an after summer campaign offering great savings on holidays and activities up to June.

World Tourism Sector Shows up at EMITT


In 2012, 62 countries and 150 Turkish tourist resorts and towns attended to EMITT Fair, which is getting prepared to set a new record with much broader attendance. 60.500 m2 of exhibition area was visited by 4.500 exhibitors, 57.000 professionals and 71.000 vacationists. Compared to 2011 the total number of visitors has increased by 12 percent.

Municipalities who want to stand out in the world and in Turkey, development agencies, tourism companies and industry professionals show up on a regular basis at EMITT Fair every year. Hacer Aydın Director of Ekin Fair, states that EMITT is among the most respected international tourism fairs which contributes value to countries, touristic places and companies. Aydın claims that they received record-breaking applications for EMITT therefore it is certain that EMITT Fair will break a new application record in January 2013.

EMITT Fair: EMITT Fair first took place in Istanbul at the TÜYAP Tepebaşı Fair Convention and Congress Center in 1997 as the Voyager International Tourism and Holiday Exhibition. It relocated to TÜYAP Fair, Convention and Congress Center at Beylikdüzü on its third anniversary upon its rapid growth and took place in 4 halls totaling 700m2 in 1999. EMITT became known as the East Mediterranean International Tourism and Travel Exhibition as of that date. Attracting quite a bit of attention from both regional as well as the international tourism community, EMITT not only grew with respect to the number of participating countries, halls and the area standpoint, but further came to reflect the growth in Turkey’s tourism sector. In addition to breaking various new grounds, EMITT proved to be a success in becoming Europe’s 5th largest Tourism Fair within 15 years. The Fair is expected to implement various new projects, both on an international as well as on a national scale in the upcoming period. ITE Group PLC, one of world’s leading exhibition event organizers, became a partner of Ekin Fuar Inc., in 2009. www.emittistanbul.com

Moruya - Home of the Black Swan

Black Swan
The name Moruya is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning Home of the Black Swan. From its original inhabitants, the Bugell-Manji tribe, to bushrangers, the Gold Rush and beyond, Moruya has a rich history filled with the colour and romance typical of Australia’s early days. Moruya is a town located on the south coast of NSW Australia.

During gold mining times, industries like dairying, fishing and oyster farming were an important part of the towns economy and still are today. Moruya also quarried stone and is famous for the fine-grained blue granite used in Sydney’s Martin Place Cenotaph, Post Office, the Bank of NSW and the statue of Captain James Cook in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens. The beautiful stone for the piers and pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge were also provided by Moruya’s quarry. With its beautifully preserved and restored historic buildings and churches, Moruya is a country town surrounded by rich farmland and a mountain range backdrop, with easy access to beaches and National Parks. It’s main feature is the magnificent Moruya River, the splendour of which can be viewed from the bridge leading onto the town centre. Riverside picnics, barbeques or fishing from the banks of the river are popular activities anytime of the year.

Fast becoming the ‘cultural hub’ of the South Coast of NSW Australia, Moruya hosts the annual Jazz Festival in late October and the River of Arts Festival mid-year, which features performing artists of local, national and international renown. The town also hosts an ongoing dynamic visual arts program showcasing the best of traditional and contemporary art works by some of the finest artists in the region. Exhibitions are held at the Mechanics Institute, Eurobodalla Shire’s sole public arts venue.

There is something for everyone in Moruya.

For further information about Moruya see the website -
www.MoruyaMagic.com.au 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

New Content Added to WTM Latin America Event Programme

Two theatres will focus on current topics, trends, target sectors and much more.
 
World Travel Market Latin America, taking place in São Paulo on 23 – 25 April 2013, will incorporate a three day Event Programme highlighting different topics impacting Brazil, Latin America and the global travel industry.

The show will focus on Leisure, MICE and Business Travel, giving the Latin American travel industry a platform to conduct business and become one of the most important travel and tourism regions in the world. Two seminar theatres open to all visitors and exhibitors, will host a range of high-level local and international speakers who are experts in their field and guarantee to deliver quality content.

In addition to the existing Responsible Tourism and Social Travel Market Programmes, a number of new seminars have been confirmed including Sports Tourism concentrating on the upcoming FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, UNWTO ‘round-tables’ discussing Latin America as a multi-destination, a PhocusWright conference,  travel blogging, travel technology and an airline session.

Plus, the European Travel Commission (ETC) will host a high level industry think-tank during WTM Latin America covering key components such as long-term strategy and brand-building exercise for Destination Europe in Brazil and Latin America.

The three target sectors of the event; Leisure, MICE and Business Travel, will be serviced by the second seminar theatre with daily forums. WTM Latin America will be working with key Latin American Associations including BRAZTOA, ICCA, MPI and ABGEV to organise and host the forums with two conferences and a cocktail reception per day. Vincent Lhoste, Project Director for WTM Latin America says: “The content of the event programme provides global and local insight into important tourism subjects. The sectorial forums help segment the content into three very different areas and provide visitors with relevant information and new opportunities and ideas for business.”

For regular event programme updates, visit www.wtmlatinamerica.com

Inaugural Beach Bash


GET READY! Beach Bash is the first and only beach obstacle racing series in Australia.

A great way to challenge yourself and your friends on some of Australia's most iconic beaches. Test your physical and mental limits over sand and obstacle courses from 4 to 7km with up to 20 obstacles. If you're tired of getting stuck in the mud, challenge yourself and your buddies to the Beach Bash and get some sand in your pants!

When: Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd February 2013

Where: Challenge Course: The Entrance to Shelly Beach (via Toowoon Bay), Central Coast NSW Australia. Start line located on The Entrance Beach (approx. 500m from The Entrance Memorial Park). Finish line located in The Entrance Memorial Park. Just follow the signs!

Organised by: Central Coast Tourism

Full details and registration: www.beachbash.com.au/index.php/central-coast-nsw 

Phone No:      02 4343 4410

Email:             ldyer@centralcoasttourism.com.au 

EMITT Istanbul Ranked 5th Among the Tourism Fairs in 2012


With nearly 30 million visitors EMITT Fair, which plays an important role in the promotion of Turkey, took the 5th place in the tourism fairs list in 2012. East Mediterranean International Tourism and Travel Fair EMITT was created by Ekin Fuar in 90’s, which is considered to be the infancy period of the Turkish tourism, and has started a new era in tourism fairs.

EMITT Fair, which got the finger on the pulse of tourism in Turkey since 1997, has managed, in a brief period of time, to become one of the renowned fairs in the world. Today being in the 5th largest fair in the world, EMITT kept the pace with Turkey’s growth in tourism and proved its strength by becoming one of the most prominent fairs in its target area consisting of Mediterranean, Middle East, South East Europe and Asia.

EMITT fair also catapulted Turkey as the sixth most visited country in the world in 2012. The Director of Ekin Fuar, Hacer Aydın states that the number of foreign tourist visiting Turkey was 9.586.000 and the amount of revenues generated $9.161.000.000; and as of 2011 the number of tourist visiting Turkey had reached to 29.343.000 and the revenues to $23 billion, and stresses the important role of EMITT, who for 17 years brought the professionals of tourism sector to Turkey and held many grand fairs, in this success.

Hunter Heat Draws Visitation


The warmer temperatures are drawing visitors to the Hunter coast as the region saw positive occupancy rates over the Christmas and New Year period and the Australia Day long weekend.

Tourism Hunter Executive Manager, Sheridan Ferrier said that areas along the coast and riverbanks saw the biggest surge over the Christmas and New Yea.

"The warmer weather offers a perfect opportunity to experience everything the Hunter has to offer including an expansive selection of water sports and vast accommodation choices from camping and caravanning to hotels and bed and breakfasts," said Mrs Ferrier. "Visitors are realising this and taking full advantage."

In Newcastle, occupancy rates rose by 8% over the holiday period from last year as accommodation operators were almost at capacity and restaurants were full. Bookings were heavy from Sydney and regional NSW for local activities such as tours, eating out at restaurants and the Australia Day National Maritime Festival. For more information on events in Newcastle, visit www.visitnewcastle.com.au

The summer school holiday marks the busiest time for Lake Macquarie who reached almost full capacity over Christmas and New Year. The area remained busy in the lead up to Australia Day when visitors hit the surf and the sand as they hired boats and visited beaches. This year, Lake Macquarie welcomed a new Australia Day cruise, which offered patrons an Aussie BBQ whilst sailing upon the Solar Sailor. For more  events in Lake Macquarie visit www.visitlakemac.com.au

Port Stephens Visitor Information Centre has seen a lot of activity as visitors flock to this area to beat the heat. Port Stephens reported an almost 100% occupancy rate as predicted over the holidays. Activities on the water such as dolphin cruises and parasailing are most popular. Port Stephens hosted many community Australia Day celebrations. For further information, visit www.portstephens.org.au.

Since the holidays, Barrington Tops has seen a boom in camping visitation as families spend more time with one another. Areas along the rivers are popular and the Visitor Information Centre is receiving high enquiries regarding National Parks. Though a popular destination for camping, Barrington Tops offers a range of accommodation genres from hotels to bed and breakfasts, accommodating for the visitors over these popular holidays. The area holds programs of special activities For more on Barrington Tops, visit www.visitbarringtontops.com.au

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Strong Women, Strong Painting, Strong Culture


A ground-breaking exhibition of Indigenous women’s contemporary art from the Central and Western Deserts, the exhibition was curated to celebrate the Centenary of International Women’s Day in 2011 by local Hunter collectors and curators Deborah Sims and Matt Dickson.

Strong Women Strong Painting Strong Culture features a vibrant, colourful and energetic mix of contemporary acrylics on canvas, fibre art, textile art, carving, etching and more. The exhibition has been touring to venues throughout the state and will go on to tour to South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and regional NSW.

A full program of public events will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition, currently pn shoe at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre, including curators talks and special guest lectures, and a program of events on International Women’s Day itself. Details will be made available when confirmed.

 “Women’s art always strikes a deeply resonant chord, and I think this exhibition in particular will be seen as a landmark”, said Virginia Mitchell, Director of the Cessnock Regional Art Gallery, where the exhibition was first shown. “This is the first time an Australian exhibition has focused on the work and leadership role of our strong desert women artists”. 

 
When: 12 January - 17 March 2013
 
Where: Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre
PO Box 122
Corner Bridge and William Streets
MUSWELLBROOK NSW 2333

Opening hours: 
Tuesday to Friday 10.00am – 5.00pm
Weekends 10.00am – 1.00pm
Mondays - by appointment only
Closed public holidays

Phone: 02 6549 3880
Fax: 02 6543 4150
Email: arts.centre@muswellbrook.nsw.gov.au
 
Art Works shown above are -
Ruby Tjangawa WILLIAMSON (b.1940), Pitjantjatjara people, Puli Murpu – Mountain Range 2010, acrylic on linen 1980 x 1525 mm; Painted at Tjala Arts, Amata, South Australia; Image courtesy of the artist and Tjala Arts.

Nyanu Watson (b.1951), Waru (Black-footed Rock Wallaby) 2011, acrylic on linen 910 x 610 mm; Painted at Ninuku Arts, Kalka, South Australia; Images courtesy of the artist and Ninuku Arts.

Thailand Government’s Huge Investment Plan on Infrastructure Development

The Thailand Government is planning to invest two trillion baht in infrastructure development, as part of its national strategy to move the country forward.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt provided explanations concerning the infrastructure investment plan.

The Prime Minister said that the amount of two trillion baht would come from both domestic and foreign funding sources. The private sector would also be urged to co-invest in various infrastructure projects under the plan. The Government would issue a royal decree to seek loans for the plan, to be approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Celebrate Black History Month on the Freedom Trail African-American Patriots Tour


If 18th-century African-American patriot Crispus Attucks could tell you his story of life and rebellion in pre-Revolutionary Boston, what would he say?  On Friday, February 1, at 12:45 p.m., the Freedom Trail® Foundation begins celebrating Black History Month with its acclaimed African-American Patriots Tour, taking visitors through historic events of the American Revolution and the contributions of African-Americans who played a significant role in the country's formation. 

Tales of intrigue and bravery, poetry and defiance by black Bostonians unfold during the 90-minute walking tour of the Freedom Trail.  Led by costumed guides, visitors view history through the eyes of revolutionary figures like Attucks, Phyllis Wheatley, Prince Hall, Peter Salem and others.

"The roles African-American patriots played in America's history and their contributions to our country are exciting," said Suzanne Taylor, the Foundation's executive director.  "Sharing their important part of history along Boston's Freedom Trail is a great way to celebrate Black History Month with visitors and residents alike."

Ideal for groups, schools, residents and those visiting the city for a meeting or convention, the 90-minute tours will be regularly offered Friday through Sunday at 12:45 p.m. throughout February, and are available year-round for schools or private groups by reservation.  All tours begin at the Visitor Information Center, 139 Tremont St., Boston Common, and affordable tickets are $13 for adults, $11 for seniors and students, and $7 for children under 12.  Tickets may be purchased on-line at TheFreedomTrail.org or the Boston Common Visitor Information Center at 139 Tremont Street. 

Other exciting events celebrating Black History Month are held at Freedom Trail sites along the Trail.   For information regarding all events along the Trail, tickets, reservations, group rates or questions, please call 617.357.830O or visit TheFreedomTrail.org.

The Freedom Trail Foundation

The Freedom Trail Foundation is a non-profit foundation dedicated to marketing, promoting and preserving the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile path that leads to 16 of the country's most significant historical landmarks. The Sites are not adaptations or re-creations, they are real, and each one played a pivotal role in America's rebellious beginning - familiar events such as the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere's role in the first battle, the Battle of Bunker Hill - and the growth of the young nation. Marked by a red brick path or a painted red line, the Trail weaves its way through Boston's proud past in the midst of this vital, modern city.

Thailand Tourism Arrivals Cross 22 Million Mark in 2012


Thailand has achieved record-breaking visitor arrivals, crossing the 22 million mark for the first time in 2012. Figures tabulated by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports for January — December 2012 show total arrivals by nationality of 22,303,065, up 15.98 percent over 2011. 

Commenting on the performance, TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni said, “We are overjoyed to have achieved this result in the year the people of Thailand commemorated the 85th birthday of His Majesty the King. It is also a tribute to the cooperation and creativity of the entire Thai travel & tourism industry for the huge effort that has been made to ensure that travel & tourism remains a leading industry for job creation, distribution of income nationwide and contribution to culture, heritage and environmental preservation.”

The governor said that the primary contributor to this result was the prevalence of global, regional and local peace and stability. “Last year, the world was generally at peace and there were no major geopolitical, economic, environmental or natural disasters and no health pandemics. Travel & tourism can only flourish worldwide if the underlying conditions that support it remain free of disturbance and disruption. That is one of the most important lessons for the entire industry to learn worldwide,” he said. 

The highlight of the results was the fact that six countries, five of which are within the Asia-Pacific region, are now producing more than one million annual visitor arrivals. These are Malaysia, China, Japan, Korea, India and Russia. 

The following performance analysis by market is based on the figures tabulated so far: 

OVERVIEW: Visitors from East Asia totalled 12,502,194 (+20.84%), Europe 5,617,817 (+10.12%), the Americas 1,080,148 (+13.40%), South Asia 1,289,641 (+11.36%), Oceania 1,046,753 (+12.13%), Middle East 604,659 (+0.58%) and Africa 161,853 (+17.36%). 

EAST ASIA: East Asian visitor arrivals to Thailand comprise the biggest market share of all visitors. Of the 22.30 million arrivals in 2012, a total of 12.50 million (+20.84%) were from East Asia regions. 

By this year, two source-markets, China (2.7 million) and Malaysia (2.5 million) are now generating more than two million annual arrivals each. And two source-markets, Japan (1.3 million) and Korea (1.1 million) are generating more than one million arrivals each.
The ASEAN countries in total are generating over six million arrivals, with spectacular growth by Cambodia (+59.74%), Vietnam (+24.36%), Indonesia (+21.02%), Myanmar (+17.40%) and Laos (+6.63%). 

EUROPE: The European visitors showed a good growth rate of 10.12% to 5.61 million. Russia is the largest source market from Europe with arrivals of 1,317,387, up 24.97%. United Kingdom is the second highest source market with a total of 870,164, up 2.98%, followed by Germany 681,566, up 10.08%. 

THE AMERICAS: Arrivals from the Americas showed a good growth of 13.40% to 1,080,148 the main market, US, increased by 12.57% to 767,420. Arrivals from both Canada and Brazil showed positive growth of 12.18% and 22.18%. 

SOUTH ASIA: Arrivals from South Asia grew by a strong 11.36% to 1,289,641. India has become a top of the list from South Asian market with arrivals up by 11.03% to 1,015,865, making it the region’s fastest growing market, followed by Sri Lanka 73,338, (+36.73%).
OCEANIA: Arrivals from Oceania grew by 12.13% to 1,046,753 visitors. Australian visitors were up 12.14% to 930,599 and New Zealand +12.28% to 113,509. 

MIDDLE EAST: Arrivals from Middle East showed a slight growth of 0.58% to 604,659 with all markets up. Israel is the largest source market with arrivals of 129,184 (+3.27%) followed by UAE 113,174 (+4.20%) and Kuwait 64,536 (+15.68%). 

AFRICA: Arrivals from Africa were up by 17.36% to 161,853. South Africa is a major market and has showed significant growth of 10.22% to 75,496. 

In 2013, the TAT is confident that if the global, regional and local situation remains stable, this year will see Thailand receive 24.5 million arrivals, generating a projected tourism income of 1,149 billion baht.

National Arboretum Opening Festival



If you are nearby the National Capital City of Australia this coming Saturday, then help celebrate  the opening of the National Arboretum.

  • Enjoy fun, food and fabulous entertainment! Everyone is invited.
  • Workshops, talks, art and craft activities for all ages.
  • Walking trails and guided tours through 250 hectares of symbolic, rare and endangered forests.
  • Interactive displays, cafe and shop in the new Village Centre.
  • Live music performances.
  • Magnificent displays at the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia.
  • Sustainable gardening advice from ACTEW Water at The Canberra Discovery Garden.
  • Spectacular views of Canberra, beautiful forests and sculptures.
Cork Oak
WHEN
Saturday 2 February 2013, 10 am to 3 pm

PARKING AND TRANSPORT
  • Catch FREE ACTION shuttle buses to the Arboretum Opening Festival. No public parking, except disabled parking, is available on site during the Opening Festival.
  • FREE ACTION buses labelled Arboretum Shuttle will depart regularly from the:
  • bus stop at western entry to Canberra Stadium, corner of Battye and Masterman Streets, Bruce.
  • City Bus Station, rear of  Platform 3.
  • bus stop at the Waldorf Apartments, 221 London Circuit, Civic.
  • bus stop at the front of the Federal Department of Treasury building, western side of Langton Crescent, Parkes.
  • Woden Bus Station, Platform 10.
  • Wide Brown Land Sculpture
  • Stromlo Forest Park, Uriarra Road, Stromlo.

For further information, please call 
Canberra Connect on 13 22 81
or see the website.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Asia and the Pacific and the Americas the Most 'Open' Regions for Travellers in Terms of Visas


New UNWTO research on Visa facilitation shows that Asia and the Pacific and the Americas are the most ‘open’ regions in terms of tourist Visa requirements. Data also shows that there has been significant progress on Visa facilitation globally in recent years, particularly with the implementation of Visa on arrival policies.

Based on a global evaluation of Visa requirements, including the implementation of policies that allow for Visa on arrival and eVisas, UNWTO findings show that in 2012 Asia and the Americas were the most ‘open’ regions for the entry of tourists. An average 20% of the world’s population were not required a Visa to visit an Asian destination, while 19% could obtain a Visa on arrival and 7% an eVisa – 31%, 8% and 1% respectively in the case of the Americas. European destinations were the ‘least open’ when comparing the three components of a Visa policy (no Visa; Visa on arrival and eVisas). Although 21% of the world population was not required a Visa to enter Europe for tourism, only 6% were able to apply for a Visa on arrival and no eVisa system was in place.

“An overall restrictive Visa policy means lost opportunities for economic growth and jobs, which tourism could bring to destinations. Travellers regard Visas as a formality which entails a cost. This can be a deterrent to travel if costs - whether monetary or indirect - including distance, wait times and service, exceed a certain threshold” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

On a global level, in 2012, only 18% of the world’s population were not required a Visa at all when travelling for tourism. Destinations around the world requested on average from 63% of the world’s population that they obtain a traditional Visa before initiating their international journey. Another 16% was be able to apply for a Visa on arrival, while only 2% of the population was allowed to apply for an eVisa.

This new UNWTO research also shows considerable progress towards Visa facilitation over recent years: the requirement of a traditional tourism Visa went from 77% to 63% of the world’s population between 2008 and 2012, with significant changes over the last two years.

It was also noted that destinations tend to thoroughly review and introduce changes when reviewing their Visa policies. Since 2010, 43 destinations clearly facilitated the Visa process for citizens of at least 20 countries by changing their Visa policies from ‘Visa required’ to either ‘no Visa required’, ‘Visa on arrival’ or eVisa’, directly impacting on 5,080 destination-source market relations.

“Important strides have been made in recent times in terms of Visa facilitation as more and more countries understand its implicit economic benefits. We welcome moves by the USA, the European Union and many other countries which have implemented or are looking into implementing more open Visa policies. But we cannot ignore that Visa procedures still represent an obstacle to tourism growth and we hope that these good examples can be followed by others,” Mr. Rifai added.

Improving Visa processes could generate an extra US$ 206 billion in tourism receipts and create as many as 5.1 million additional jobs by 2015 in the G20 economies alone, according to the joint research by UNWTO and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). As a result of this work, the G20 Leaders at their last Summit (June 2012, Los Cabos, Mexico) recognized tourism as “a vehicle for job creation, economic growth and development” and committed to “work towards developing travel facilitation initiatives in support of job creation, quality work, poverty reduction and global growth.”

Annual Harvest Activity at PB Valley Khao Yai Winery

Yearly Harvesting Activities are starting at PB Valley Khao Yai Winery the birthplace of the Khao Yai Wine Region in Thailand.

As every year the Harvest Activity during the weekends in February is an add on to our regular guided tour of the vineyards during which we explain the various steps necessary to grow grapes for award winning wines as well fresh table grapes. Thus during the vineyard tour guests are also brought to the various sections where grapes are ready for harvesting. The farm staff then show how the ripe bunches of grapes are cut and a little competition is organized who can cut the most grapes in a given period of time. Of course this is fun for the whole family as well gives plenty of photo opportunities.    

After this the regular program continues by a tour of the Winery which includes a wine tasting.  There is no extra charge to the regular price of the wine tasting tour of Baht 200 per adult and 150 Baht for Children 4 to 12 years of age.

Before or after the tour visitors can enjoy good food and wine with a great view of the vineyards at the Great Hornbill Grill. Scheduled tours are at 10:30 AM / 01:30 PM and 03:30 PM. Private tours can be booked on request.

Virginia Wine Festivals to Experience in 2013

Virginia is a "Commonwealth of Wine" - with more than 200 wineries that stretch across every region of the state, from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay to the Blue Ridge Mountains. This variety makes Virginia a wine destination unlike any other, with wineries surrounded by lavish scenery, quaint small towns and monumental historic sites.

The state's annual wine festivals vary just as the wineries do, offering wine lovers the chance to savor the flavors of Virginia's vintages at events big and small. Below is a sampling of some of Virginia's most popular annual wine festivals of 2013, with many more found on Virginia.org/wine.

Bacchus Wine and Food Festival at the Virginia Living Museum 
- Newport News, February 8, 2013
Taste excellent wines from around the world and sample food from local restaurants. Enjoy a variety of live entertainment and a huge silent auction, all in one night, for a great cause. With the eclectic mix of great music, delicious food samples and varied wine tastings, this event appeals to all ages - over 21 of course.

The 6th Annual Virginia Wine Expo 
- Richmond, February 19-24, 2013
The Virginia Wine Expo (VWE) is Virginia's premier, upscale wine and food event of the year. More than 55 Virginia wineries will be present, sampling and selling wine for on- and off-premise consumption. The VWE will feature celebrity chef demonstrations, specialty food, the Governor's Cup Grand Tasting, wine and food pairings and wine seminars.

8th Annual Virginia Wine Showcase 
- Arlington, April 20, 2013
The Virginia Wine Showcase is the region's premier winter wine show, featuring over 300 wines from the boutique farm wineries of Virginia. Shoppers will delight in the ultimate collection of gourmet foods, arts and crafts, lifestyle and culinary products in the nation.

Great Grapes Wine Arts and Food Festival 
- Reston, April 27-28, 2013
Celebrate the taste of over 100 diverse and flavorful wines. While mastering the art of wine tasting, be sure to attend the wine seminars, Gourmet Live! cooking demonstrations and shop amongst the unique artists.

Montpelier Wine Festival 
- May 4-5, 2013
Montpelier Wine Festival showcases 24 premier Virginia wineries on the historic grounds of 4th President James Madison. Live music, cooking with wine demonstrations and wine tasting classes all add to the experience. Specialty foods will be available along with an abundance of arts and crafts. Picnic areas and children's activities offer fun for the whole family.

Town Point Spring Virginia Wine Festival 
- Norfolk,  May 4-5, 2013
Enjoy the warm spring weather while spending time with friends along the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront during a wonderful afternoon of sampling wines from more than 20 Virginia wineries and vineyards. Live acoustic music and retailers selling items from jewelry and glassware to chocolates and hats will also be on site.

Monticello Wine Festival 
- Charlottesville, May 11, 2013
This spring, the public will be invited to the Wine Festival at Monticello to enjoy a glass of wine on the West Lawn as Jefferson himself did. Visitors will have the opportunity to walk the restored vineyards, meet wine-maker Gabriele Rausse and experience Monticello in the evening, as well as take tours of Jefferson's home, hear live music and see the garden in full splendor while tasting wines from locally produced Virginia vineyards. Local wine experts will be on hand to answer questions about our region's finest wines and how they compare to the vintages that Jefferson enjoyed.

Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour at Mount Vernon 
- Alexandria, May 17-19, 2013
Join Mount Vernon in its spring celebration of the history of the Virginia wine industry while overlooking the Potomac River. Guests sample wines from 16 award-winning Virginia wineries, learn about the successes and failures of our Founding Father's wine endeavors, enjoy live jazz music, and meet "George Washington" on the Mansion's piazza. Guests experience an evening tour of George Washington's home and are invited to visit the rarely-open basement cellar vaults where he stored his wine.

Virginia Wine & Craft Festival 
- Front Royal, May 18, 2013
Enjoy tastings from 20 Virginia wineries along with crafts in historic downtown Front Royal, Virginia. More than seven blocks will be filled with 100 vendors, artists and crafters selling fine handmade jewelry, hand painted wine glasses, hand crafted musical instruments, pottery and ceramics, clothing, original paintings and artwork, antiques and more.

Lynchburg Beer & Wine Festival 
- Lynchburg, September 21, 2013
The Lynchburg Beer & Wine Festival will feature over 15 area wineries with samples of their finest Virginia wines. Breweries from the state and beyond will have craft ales and lagers on tap with 76 different varieties to sample and buy. Artisans and crafters from around the state display their goods while area businesses are represented to feature their newest line of products.

Smith Mountain Lake Wine Festival 
- September 28-29, 2013
The Smith Mountain Lake Wine Festival is the perfect event for aficionados of wine as well as fans of outdoor concerts and craft festivals. Held at Southwest Virginia's Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, nearly thirty wineries will participate with dozens of juried craft and food vendors.

October Virginia Wine Month 
- Statewide, October 2013
Wine lovers unite to Discover Your Local Crush for Virginia Wine Month, a month-long celebration with special events, tastings, festivals and more at Virginia's 200+ wineries statewide.

Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival 
- Amherst, October 12-13 2013
Amherst Rebec Vineyards is the setting for this aromatic and delicious annual festival. Several Virginia wineries pitch in for tastings and sales along with Virginia restaurants offering garlicky foods. There is plenty of live entertainment and arts and crafts highlighted by the crowning of the Garlic Queen and King.

Blackdog Wine & Music Festival 
- Floyd, October 12, 2013
A yearly staple, the Black Dog Wine & Music festivals gather folks from near and far. The field becomes a big party of music lovers, sun chairs, barefoot dancing and frivolity. Musicians, craftspeople and vendors will be on site for shopping and plenty of great food.

Taste of Culpeper 
- Culpeper, October 13, 2013
Experience the very best in Virginia wines, microbreweries and local cuisine and discover treasures for the  home and the table from local artisans and crafters. Fun and festivities for the entire family will promise an enjoyable fall afternoon.

Powhatan's Festival of the Grape 
- Powhatan, October 19, 2013
Experience the excellence of 25 Virginia wineries at the annual Festival of the Grape at Powhatan's Historic Courthouse Square. A festival for family fun, Virginia wines, arts and crafts, food, live music and entertainment is becoming one of the best wine festivals in Virginia.




Sunday, 27 January 2013

VisitEngland Lists the Best Entertainment Options for Travellers


VisitEngland outlines some of the country’s best pick-me-ups, from indulgent spa sessions to soul-southing weekend breaks, that’ll leave you ready to take the new year by the horns.

Cleanse and Revitalise at Bath Thermae Spa 

Bath Thermae Spa
- Once enjoyed by the Ancient Celts and Romans, Bath Thermae Spa continues to offer visitors an indulgent experience with 2,000 years of history. Make the most of Bath’s natural thermal waters with the Spa’s Ancient and Modern package, which includes an exploration of the great Roman temple within the world famous Roman Baths museum, lunch in the classical Pump Room with the chance to sample water drawn straight from the spa fountain, and a 2 hour spa session at Thermae Bath Spa.


Find Your Zen at a Weekend Yoga Retreat in Gloucestershire

 - Waking up to views of the Malvern Hills from your guestroom at Elmore Court in Gloucestershire is guaranteed to invigorate and inspire you. Start your day with silent walks across rolling fields, crisp with January frost, to still the mind and to prepare for four hours of calming yoga in the great hall. A beautiful stately home, gifted by the Queen to the Guise family in the 13th century, Elmore Court remains an intrinsic part British history and a unique destination for a country yoga retreat – perfect for recharging your batteries after the overindulgence of Christmas and New Year.

Detox the Indulgent Way at Allibaster House

 - A million miles away from the strains of daily life, Allibaster House is a beautiful 18th century country house set in nine acres of lush West Sussex countryside, offering personalised detox retreats. Its Simply Healing Retreats programmes are engineered so that a combination of fresh juices, herbal supplements and specialised treatments, including body wraps and massages, specifically target the toxins that slow down your metabolism and create that feeling of lethargy – perfect for this time of year.

Channel Your Creativity with a David Hockney Experience in Yorkshire 

- The White Swan Inn in Pickering, North Yorkshire, has launched a new mid-week break for art lovers. Renowned for its excellent Yorkshire food and hospitality, the hotel is offering guests the chance to walk in the footsteps of David Hockney and explore the countryside that so inspired the famous artist. The David Hockney experience includes a two night mid-week stay at The White Swan Inn, set amidst the very countryside that inspired the work featured in this year's 'David Hockney: A Bigger Picture' exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Pottery Courses by the Sea

 - Combine complete relaxation with a brand new skill on a pottery workshop in the beautiful and secluded coastal village of Welcombe in North Devon. During the morning’s formal tuition, explore the art of raku pottery and learn hand-building techniques including slab building, coiling and moulding. Punctuate your pottery sessions with some bracing coastal air: the sea is less than half a mile away and the long stretches of coastal path offer spectacular views across the vast Atlantic Ocean. Residential courses include a stay at Home Farm, a 200 year old stone build Georgian farmhouse in the pretty farm hamlet of Mead. Famous visitors have included the singer Kathleen Ferrier and the revered composer Benjamin Britten, who would have celebrated his centenary in 2013.

Find Treetop Tranquillity in the New Forest

 - Appearing to ‘float’ across a wooded canopy with full picturesque views of the surrounding New Forest, Chewton Glen’s six new Tree House Suites offer a spa bath and fire pit on their decks. Choose from a trio of luxurious treatments: Cocooned in Nature, a decadent and deeply nourishing fragrant body massage using rosehip and mint essential oils; New Forest Flow, which draws upon the energy of the surrounding forest to release tensions and toxins, and Tree Top Tranquillity, which uses unique sensual hot oil candle infused with rose to comfort skin in need of nourishment.

Knead Out the Stress with Atelier des Chefs 

- Ah, a tea party. What could be more English? Learn to prepare the finest tea in town with an Atelier Afternoon Tea course. In a two-hour class you’ll make four different recipes: savoury recipes include bruschetta with grilled vegetables, while the sweet treats include macaroons, butter scones and flavoured chocolate truffles. De-stress through vigorous kneading, folding and whisking and, after the class, relax in the private dining area with a cup of tea or glass of Champagne.

Green with Growth

There's always plenty happening here in the Whitsundays in Australia

February/March sees the traditional dominating bright azure blues of the Whitsundays somewhat overshone by the greens of North Queensland's tropical green season.  The cane fields of inland Proserpine are in full growth, a lime green winding and undulating carpet of colour leading towards Airlie Beach.  The island vegetation is a thick and luscious forest green, dotting the horizon of the Coral Sea.  

The rainforest is cool and bright, with sub tropical species blooming and growing throughout the wet.  One of Australia's largest and significant wetlands, the Goorganga Plains, just out of Proserpine is teeming with flora and fauna.
 
The summer rain isn't cold, and the tropical green season introduces a new range of sightseeing throughout the Whitsundays, including:
  • The rain bringing out all kinds of wildlife.  Birdwatch for Magpie Geese, Brolgas and Jacanas, and species migrating from Papua New Guinea such as Spangled Drongos and Buff-breasted Kingfishers.  Frogs are also out and about, filling the air with raucous calls. a guided tour; the Whitsunday Crocodile Safari on a calm river cruise spotting crocs, and a wetland tour within the Goorganga Plains.  
  • Sitting in one of the cosy, sheltered restaurants enjoying great food and wine on the Airlie Beach Esplanade/Main Street.  Cuisines are very multi cultural from fresh local seafood (the rains make for excellent Barramundi catching) to Indian, Italian, Mexican, modern Australian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese.
And if you're wet already, then why not get out and do all the activities you'd planned - snorkelling, sailing, cruising and exploring the Whitsundays.  Just because it is raining in Airlie Beach might not mean it's raining on the islands, or at the Reef, or vice versa, so make sure you check with local operators as to the conditions of the day.  

Saturday, 26 January 2013

You know you're Australian if ...


1. You know the meaning of the word "girt". 
2. You believe that stubbies can be either drunk or worn. 
3. You think it's normal to have a Treasurer called Wayne. 
4. You waddle when you walk due to the 53 expired petrol discount vouchers stuffed in your wallet or purse. 
5. You know, whatever the tourist books say, that no one says "cobber". 
6. You believe it is appropriate to put a rubber in your son's pencil case when he first attends school. 
7. When you hear that an American "roots for his team" you wonder how often and with whom. 
8. You understand that the phrase "a group of women wearing black thongs" refers to footwear and may be less alluring than it sounds. 
9. You pronounce Melbourne as "Mel-bin". 
10. You pronounce Penrith as "Pen-riff". 
11. You believe the "l" in the word "Australia" is optional. 
12. You can translate: "Dazza and Shazza played Acca Dacca on the way to Maccas."
13. You believe it makes perfect sense for a nation to decorate its highways with large fibreglass bananas, prawns and sheep. 
14. You call your best friend "a total bastard" but someone you really, truly despise is just "a bit of a bastard". 
15. You think "Woolloomooloo" is a perfectly reasonable name for a place. 
16. You're secretly proud of our killer wildlife. 
17. You believe it makes sense for a country to have a $1 coin that's twice as big as its $2 coin. 
18. You understand that "Wagga Wagga" can be abbreviated to "Wagga" but "Woy Woy" can't be called "Woy". 
19. You believe that cooked-down axlegrease makes a good breakfast spread. 
20. You believe all famous Kiwis are actually Australian, until they stuff up, at which point they again become Kiwis. 
21. Hamburger. Beetroot. Of course. 
22. You know that certain words must, by law, be shouted out during any rendition of the Angels' song Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again. 
23. You believe, as an article of faith, that the confectionary known as the Wagon Wheel has become smaller with every passing year. 
24. You still don't get why the "Labor" in "Australian Labor Party" is not spelt with a "u". 
25. You wear ugh boots outside the house. 
26. You find yourself ignorant of nearly all the facts deemed essential in the government's test for migrants. 
27. You believe that the more you shorten someone's name the more you like them. 
28. Whatever your linguistic skills, you find yourself able to order takeaway fluently in every Asian language. 
29. You understand that "excuse me" can sound rude, while "scuse me" is always polite. 
30. You know what it's like to swallow a fly, on occasion via your nose. 
31. You understand that "you" has a plural and that it's "youse".
32. You know it's not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to handle. 
33. Your biggest family argument over the summer concerned the rules for beach cricket. 
34. You shake your head in horror when companies try to market what they call "Anzac cookies". 
35. You still think of Kylie as "that girl off Neighbours". 
36. When returning home from overseas, you expect to be brutally strip-searched by Customs - just in case you're trying to sneak in fruit. 
37. You believe the phrase "smart casual" refers to a pair of black tracky-daks, suitably laundered. 
38. You understand that all train timetables are works of fiction. 
39. When working on a bar, you understand male customers will feel the need to offer an excuse whenever they order low-alcohol beer. 
40. You get choked up with emotion by the first verse of the national anthem and then have trouble remembering the second.
Happy Australia Day!