Saturday, 31 August 2013

Russell Crows About Blue Man Group

It’s official! Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe is a big fan of Blue Man Group, recently heaping praises on the silent, blue-clad performers on Twitter.

"Just saw The Blue Man Group at the Lyric theatre at The Star, great show, SHAKE THAT THING!!! Crowe posted.

Showing at Sydney Lyric, The Star, Blue Man Group is currently touring Australia and the Southern Hemisphere for the first time in its 25-year-history.

Producer Rodney Rigby said after years of planning, he is thrilled that Blue Man Group has made its way to Sydney in partnership with Destination NSW.

"This brilliant show has been entertaining audiences for 25 years and has launched one of the most innovative performance groups ever," Mr Rigby said.

"First-time audiences leave the theatre astounded by the excitement of a Blue Man Group show, resulting in one of the highest return businesses of any theatrical event.”

Tickets for Blue Man Group are now available through ticketmaster.com.au

Great Rates at Metro Apartments Bank Place for Melbourne Cup Carnival

The Victorian Spring Racing Carnival is just around the corner, and Metro Apartments Bank Place in inner Melbourne is offering boutique apartment accommodation for the duration of the Carnival from just $185 (room only). Demand for accommodation in Melbourne during this period is high, so visitors to the city are advised to book now to avoid disappointment.

A minimum two night stay applies to Derby Day on Saturday 2 November and Melbourne Cup on Tuesday 5th November, and WIFI is complimentary for the duration of the Carnival period – November 2 - 9, 2013.

Metro Apartments on Bank Place offers inner city apartment style accommodation that lives up to the city’s European charm. Tucked away down an atmospheric cobbled laneway, the surrounding heritage-listed piazza introduces you to Melbourne’s charming lanes and city precinct with its range of cafes, restaurants and enticing shopping.

Bustling by day and alive with al fresco dining by night, Bank Place is situated a short stroll away from all of Melbourne’s sought after attractions: Bourke Street Mall, Federation Square, Southgate Centre and Crown Casino. Hop on one of Melbourne’s famous trams to spend the day at the MCG or the National Gallery of Victoria, and take in a show at the Victorian Arts Centre – only a short ride away by taxi or tram.

The property offers 46 apartments, a choice of either studio or one-bedroom suites, as well as a split level, two bedroom penthouse. All suites include a kitchenette and laundry facilities.

Guests can book at Metro Apartments on Bank Place and other Metro Hotels properties by calling the toll free Central Reservations line on 1800 004 321. Alternatively bookings can be made online at www.metrohotels.com.au.

Metro Hotels is the public face of Transmetro Corporation, an Australian owned public company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. The Group currently provides a national accommodation network of 13 properties, with over 1000 rooms in key locations and major cities across Australia.

Lam Dong Vietnam Targets 4.3 Million Tourists in 2013

The Central Highlands province of Lam Dong has designed numerous packages to lure more tourists to Da Lat city between now and the year-end, heading to the target of 4.3 million tourists in 2013.

Accordingly, local travel agencies are encouraged to launch promotion campaigns such as promotion month, golden week and tour discounts.

The province is paying attention to promote the local tourism with the establishment of tourist information centres and the organisation of farm trips to new destinations.

Da Lat city will run a campaign to clean the tourism environment, focusing on building standardised toilets at tourist sites and forming people’s communication and shopping culture.

The province will launch campaigns to plant trees and flowers at public places, main streets, agency headquarters and people’s houses while investing in improving infrastructure and service quality in preparation for the Lam Dong cultural festival week to be organised late this year.

Statistics of the provincial Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism show that during the first half of 2013, the province welcomed more than 2.1 tourists, including 120,000 foreigners.

The province set a target of attracting additional 2.2 million visitors in the remaining months of the year.

Clive Palmer Announces TITANIC II Model Test To Be Held In Germany

Blue Star Line Chairman Clive Palmer today announced Blue Star Line in conjunction with German ydrodynamic service and consulting company Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA) will next month be conducting the first model testing of the proposed Titanic II. Mr Palmer said a 9.3m wooden model of Titanic II will be put through resistance and powering tests in a 300m long tank at HSVA’s Hamburg facilities in mid-September.

Titanic II is scheduled to be launched from its construction base in China in 2016, before her maiden passenger voyage retracing its original journey from Southampton to New York.

“This model testing by HSVA will be an important stage in the Titanic II project,” Mr Palmer said. “The Titanic II model is to be tested in the HSVA tank at speeds of between 18 and 24 knots. This testing is crucial for assessing the speed and power performance of this prototype vessel design.”

HSVA Director of Resistance and Propulsion, Dr Uwe Hollenbach, said HSVA was delighted to be part of the historic Titanic II project in the company’s centenary year.

“Model testing is the only accurate and reliable method for a passenger vessel prototype such as Titanic II,” he said. “Titanic II is a prototype as present day passenger vessels have a completely different type of main hull parameters and therefore are unsuitable as references. The speed and power performance model testing is one of the critical aspects for a prototype vessel and needs to be verified before a construction contract is completed.”

On April 30, 2012, Mr Palmer announced to the world his intention to build and launch Titanic II. The announcement came 100 years after the original vessel last sailed.

The RMS Titanic was commissioned by White Star Line and was the largest liner in the world at just under 270m long, 53m high and weighing approximately 40,000 tonnes.

Mr Palmer said Titanic II would have similar dimensions as its predecessor, with 840 rooms and nine decks. The only changes to the original Titanic would be below the water line including welding and not riveting, a bulbous bow for greater fuel efficiency, diesel generation and enlarged rudder and bow thrusters for increased manoeuvrability.

HSVA is a private and independent company which has been at the forefront of hydrodynamic research and testing technology since 1913.

“Blue Star Line is looking forward to working with HSVA,” Mr Palmer said.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Ukraine Hosts “Vietnam: World’s Rendezvous” Celebration

The Ukraine’s Kharkov City will host a week long photography exhibition and film festival entitled “Vietnam: World’s Rendezvous” from August 30 to September 5.

The event includes more than 200 photographs and 100 documentaries selected by the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communication’s Centre for Press and International Communication Cooperation.

They cover the seven sub-categories of Vietnam’s National Assembly: Government; Vietnam: Integration and Development; World Cultural Heritage in Vietnam; Vietnam’s Traditional Craft Villages; Vietnamese Festivals; Vietnamese Food; and Vietnamese Beauty.

Introducing these images of Vietnam’s landscape and people to Ukrainian citizens is destined to expand the two countries’ bilateral cooperation.

Attendees can deepen their understanding of Vietnam’s Doi moi (Renewal) process, its long history, its traditions, and its continuing march towards development and integration.

The exhibited media will be handed over to the Vietnamese Embassy and the Association of Overseas Vietnamese at the conclusion of the event for further touring throughout the Ukraine.

The festival is part of the Ministry of Information and Communications’s commemorations of Vietnam’s 68th National Day (September 2) and the 21st anniversary of establishing Vietnamese-Ukrainian diplomatic ties.

The Holiday and Travel Magazine Rankings

Today I made an interesting discovery. I discovered another web site that contained information about my online The Holiday and Travel Magazine. I have always wondered where my website was in relation with other websites. Here is what I found:

Ranked - 1,042 amongst over 30 million websites
Google Page Rank - 1
Backlinks - 195
SEO Score - 49%
page views per visit - 2.36
average time - 2.38
Search percentage - 13.3%
Bounce - 59%
Safety - 100%

I am not sure what some of these terms refer to, so perhaps some readers with more computer knowledge than myself may get in touch with me with their explanations.

The most interesting piece of information is that a monetary figure has been given to the worth of The Holiday and Travel Magazine. Apparently it has a value of $1,390,164.00 USD. My Magazine is not for sale, but if someone has that much loose change in their pockets ...............

Da Nang Vietnam Launches Tourism Push

More than 80 travel agencies, hotels and transport companies have come together in an effort to boost tourism to the central coastal city of Da Nang.

The promotion programme was launched on July 31 with the aim to attract 3 million domestic visitors this year to the region, especially during the low season, between September and December.

“As many as 52 hotels in the city have committed to discount bookings from 10 to 50 percent, while 10 major tours will offer from 20 to 25 percent off as the usual price,” said Ngo Thi Hoang Anh, deputy head of the Accommodation Service for the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

“We want to attract tourists from Hanoi , Ho Chi Minh City , the Republic of Korea , China and Thailand during the rainy season and make inroads with Meeting, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibition (MICE) tourism,” she said.

She said Green Plaza in the city would offering a 40 percent discount during the promotion, while five-star resorts Furama (Sandy Beach), Ba Na mountain resort and Debay hotels were also offering a 20 or 30 percent discount.

Budget Airline, Jetstar, was also offering promotional flights from Hanoi and HCM City to Da Nang for only 99,990 VND per ticket (4.7 USD) on Friday.

Restaurants and markets will give a 10 percent discount in peak times as well as 30 percent off during the three months of the promotion.

The Cham Sculpture Museum and Nguyen Hien Dinh Theatre of Tuong (Classical Drama) will offer 50 percent off ticket prices in December.

However, the general secretary of the city’s tourism association, Trinh Bang Co, said the programme should be a year round effort.

“We should do the promotion programme every quarter and during big festivals to attract more tourists. Travel agencies and hotels need to cooperate closely to host visitors with the best service,” Co said.

“The city’s major tourists come from Hanoi , HCM City and northern provinces , and the city has to introduce its promotion programme nationwide,” he said.

Nguyen Van Xuan from Sai Gon Tourane hotel said that booking discounts should not be a crucial factor in the promotion, rather the quality of service should be important.

“Tourists do not come to sleep and eat in the city. They want to join attractive and exciting tour programmes with the best quality and hospitality,” Xuan speculated.

Deputy director of the city’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Department Tran Chi Cuong said the city will launch a roadshow programme to promote tourism in the Mekong Delta; Bangkok , Thailand ; Russia and China from this month.

The city has hosted 1.5 million tourists in the first six months of this year.

Princess Cruises to Enter China Market for the First Time in May 2014

The China market will witness the entry of Princess Cruises for the first time in May, 2014. The Sapphire Princess will be homeported in Shanghai for the summer.

The 2014 China season will feature four itineraries: the seven-day itinerary will take passengers to the Korean capital of Seoul, the beach resort of Busan and the island of Jeju before returning to Shanghai; the five-day cruise will call at Jeju and Incheon; the four-day itinerary will call at Busan and Jeju; and the three-day cruise will call at Jeju.

The 2,670-passenger ship is expected to carry 70,000 passengers over a fourmonth season, mostly from China.

TICKETS ON SALE FOR TEMPTATION RELOADED

Tickets are now on sale for the Bollywood extravaganza, Temptation Reloaded, which descends upon Sydney on Monday 7 October at Allphones Arena, Sydney Olympic Park.

After selling out in 12 countries around the world, Temptation Reloaded will finally hit Sydney – now it’s Australia’s turn to witness Bollywood brightest stars in this amazing production of Indian music, dance and comedy.

Headlining Temptation Reloaded is India’s #1 ranked movie star, and the undoubtable King of Bollywood, Shahrukh Khan. This handsome and popular superstar has featured in over 75 films, has over four million Twitter followers, has been named by Newsweek as “one of the world’s 50 most powerful people”, and has been dubbed by the LA Times as “perhaps the world’s biggest movie star”. Shahrukh Khan is estimated to have a fanbase of over one billion people worldwide, a truly staggering figure for an entertainer.

NSW Premier and Minister for Western Sydney Barry O’Farrell announced in July that NSW had secured Bollywood legend Shahrukh Khan to visit Sydney in October as part of the fourth annual Parramasala Festival in Parramatta.

“Parramasala is a key arts and cultural event on the NSW Events Calendar and brings some of the world’s best artists to Western Sydney,” said Mr O’Farrell.

Joining Shahrukh Khan on stage will be leading Bollywood actress, Madhuri Dixit. With a string of awards to her name, Madhuri has been named the “Best Bollywood Actress Ever” by Rediff, has been given a tribute by the Indian Film Festival in LA, and in 2010, The Economic Times named her in their list of “33 women who have made India proud”.

With the magical stage chemistry between Shahrukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit, plus a cast and crew of 110, this is the largest and most exciting Bollywood production Australia has ever seen. The extravaganza will showcase state-of-the-art production, mind-blowing visuals and stunning costume changes.

The Indian cinema industry is the biggest movie ticket market in the world, with a phenomenal 3.3 billion tickets sold every year. Australia is considered the fifth biggest market for Bollywood outside of India.

"The past two years have been a labour of love as we’ve worked tirelessly to bring this show to NSW. With a travel party of over 110, spectacular stage production, and the biggest Bollywood stars, it will be the first time we’ve seen such an extravagant event,” UAE Co-Founder and Promoter Ritchie Perera said.

"It was a coup for us to secure such a stellar line-up for this milestone event. We’re so excited to be a part of Temptation Reloaded, it’s a privilege to bring Shahrukh Khan and this event to the wider community,” UAE Co-Founder and Co-Promoter, Eric Woo added.

Tickets available from Ticketek

For more information, please visit temptationreloaded.com.au

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Vietnam Culture Week Begins in Laos

The Vietnam Culture Week 2013 started in Laos on August 29 on the occasion of Vietnam’s upcoming National Day (Sept. 2).

The opening ceremony was attended by Lao Deputy Prime Minister Asang Laoly, and Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdala, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Huynh Vinh Ai, among others.

Deputy Minister Ai said the event helps to promote cooperation in culture and tourism between Vietnam and Laos while improving mutual understanding and solidarity between the two peoples.

The week will feature a photo exhibition portraying the cultural life of Vietnam’s ethnic groups, the country’s landscape, sea and islands, as well as the special relationship between Vietnam and Laos, plus an art performance by Vietnamese artists.

250,000 International Tourists Come to HCM City in July

Ho Chi Minh City reports an estimated 250,000 international tourists in July, a year-on-year increase of nine percent.

Among the tourists, nearly 210,000 arrived by air.

The July figure brought the total number of foreign arrivals to Ho Chi Minh City during the first seven months of the year to 2.1 million, up 5.5 percent over the same period last year, and achieving 53 percent of the 2013 plan.

In July, the municipal tourism sector was estimated to rake in over 6,000 billion VND (282 million USD), 15 percent higher the same period last year.  The figure for the first seven months is expected to increase 13 percent to 47,000 billion VND (2.2 billion USD), accounting for 57.3 percent of the total year plan.

Discover Dubai in the Palm of Your Hand App

Thinking of a trip to sun drenched Dubai but not sure where to go and what to do? Fret no more and download Dubai Tourism’s new iPad and iPhone app. This free consumer destination guide will help any visitor make the most of their holiday to the emirate.

Be inspired by images and videos of Dubai’s vibrant cityscape, golden beaches and sophisticated culture. Find out ‘What’ to do in this cosmopolitan destination from exploring its heritage and landscape both on land and in the water, to activities and sports, romance and relaxation, dining, nightlife and shopping.

Use the interactive Dubai map to find out ‘Where’ to go to see some of the best attractions the city has to offer including parks and beaches, malls, golf courses and water parks. Decide ‘When’ to go by checking out the huge variety of exciting events on the Dubai calendar including sports tournaments, music concerts, art exhibitions and the film festival.

The app also contains four sections on topics key to Dubai – Culture, Family, Affordability and Luxury – to help find the Dubai holiday to suit everyone. Explore the cultural gems scattered throughout the city, from museums and cultural centres to souks and Bedouin experiences in the desert; discover the wealth of family facilities and activities available; learn about Dubai’s selection of two to four star hotel accommodation and self-catering apartments, affordable dining options, free activities and inexpensive transport; indulge in the emirate’s five star luxury hotels, spa offerings, exclusive bars and award winning restaurants.

Download ‘Dubai The Destination’ from the Apple App Store today and start planning the trip of a lifetime.

Dubai offers year-round sunshine, golden sandy beaches and arid deserts full of adventure. Dubai has a reputation as one of the world’s leading destinations and boasts an array of indoor and outdoor activities for both adults and children alike. Visitors can enjoy local culture, world class shopping, a selection of hotels and self-catering accommodation ranging from affordable to some of the most luxurious in the world, award winning restaurants and vibrant nightlife, and a calendar of world famous International events.

WINGHAM AKOOSTIK MUSIC FESTIVAL: GRAB YOUR GUITAR!

Over a period of six years, the Wingham Akoostik Music Festival has established itself as one of the region’s most vibrant community-based events. Offering a diverse variety of performances and workshops, it attracts several thousand attendees, supporting the economic and cultural life of the Wingham local community and the wider Manning Valley.

Akoostik Music Festival Spokesperson, Donna Ballard, said: “This year we are excited to hold Akoostik at the Wingham Showground for the first time, thanks to the support of the Wingham Show Society. We are accessing the heritage pavilions on site to offer a choir workshop with acclaimed choral conductor Rachel Hore, and opening a third stage ‘The Akoostik Lounge’.”

“We can now offer caravan and camping options for festival attendees, enabling more people to prolong the festival atmosphere and jam around the campfire. For those that enjoy more upmarket accommodation, we recommend the Bank Guesthouse, Manning House, Wingham Golf Club Motor Inn and Wingham Motel.

“The relaxed festival environment makes it possible for up close and personal encounters with the artists, all at a bargain price, thanks to our generous sponsors,” Ms Ballard said.

The uniqueness of this festival makes it one of only a few music events within the region that has been awarded Regional Flagship Event status, as a key tourism event on the NSW Events Calendar. Through the extraordinary commitment and efforts of its committee and volunteers, Akoostik has a well-deserved reputation for delivering a meticulously co-ordinated and professionally run community event.

“We are fortunate that Arts Mid North Coast, the peak body for regional arts and cultural development across seven local government areas from Great Lakes to Coffs Harbour, has had a long and positive association with the Festival and highly values its contribution to our region’s communities” said Donna.

Festival gates open 9.30am each day, and more than 40 artists across the two days will perform on three stages amongst food and market stalls that feature hand-made and hand-grown goodies.

For more information and tickets, please visit http://akoostik.com.au/

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Orlando Scares Up the Most Halloween Theme Park Events in the Country

Visitors looking for thrills beyond roller coasters and flume drops should look no further than Orlando’s nationally-recognized Halloween events. From bone-chilling haunted houses to costume parties with popular characters, Orlando offers more than 80 individual Halloween events during the six weeks leading up to Oct. 31.

Visit Orlando is counting down to All Hallows’ Eve with 13 Weeks of Frightful Fun in Orlando. Each week, the blog will showcase tricks, treats and tips for the entire family to enjoy Halloween in Orlando visitorlando.com/blog.

Theme Parks

Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND Florida

Ghouls, ghosts and goblins descend on Miniland USA transforming the LEGO built city into a haunted adventure and scavenger hunt. This spooky, kooky event also features themed treat stations along the brick-or-treat trail, build your own LEGO model activities, the largest LEGO Jack-O-Lantern in the world, Halloween entertainment and an all-kids costume contest. Oct. 5-27, Saturdays and Sundays

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World Resort

Each fall after regular park hours, guests are invited to dress in costumes and trick-or-treat throughout the Magic Kingdom, which has been transformed into the happy haunted hallows. The boo-free bash includes special meet and greets with favorite Disney characters in their Halloween costumes, “Boo-to-You” Halloween parade and bewitching “Happy HalloWishes” fireworks. Sept. 10 – Nov. 1, Select Nights

SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular at SeaWorld Orlando

Youngsters can trick-or-treat among friendly sea witches, octopuses, mermaids, and pumpkin fish in an underwater “fantasia.” The event features Penelope’s Party Zone where guests can enjoy music, crafts, games, play with sea fairies, learn from a school of fish or dance with an ice witch. Oct. 5-27, Saturdays and Sundays

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort enlists a “scream team” of designers to research the human psyche and its deepest fears to create haunted houses and “scare zones” of terrifying magnitudes. New frightening experiences for 2013 include a terrifying maze inspired by the critically-acclaimed television series, “The Walking Dead” and a haunted house based on horror film fan-favorite “The Cabin in the Woods.” Sept. 20 – Nov. 2, Select Nights

Events Across Central Florida

Howl-O-Scream: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is transformed into a nightmare of inescapable fear that will overwhelm the senses with a new spin on horror. The devious creatures that infest haunted houses, scare zones and thrilling shows have plenty of psychotic surprises in store and bone-chilling roller coasters to keep the screams coming all night long. Sept. 27 – Oct. 26, Select Nights

Orlando Haunted Maze: Located in Maitland, guests select one of seven different paths; weave through ghosts, zombies, spiders, corn fields and graveyards to try and escape. With multiple paths to take, guests will have a different experience every time. Oct. 5-31

Petrified Forest Presents Museum of Mayhem: Experience the night-time terror of Central Florida’s premier haunted scare trail. In the middle of the forest in Altamonte Springs, guests will find over 85,000-square-feet (7896-square-meters) of uniquely themed scare rooms and sheer horror around every turn. The event also includes an outdoor festival featuring live bands, food and laser tag. Oct. 4 – Nov. 2, Select Nights
Spooky Empire: Hosted by the Doubletree at Universal Studios, Spooky Empire is the largest horror convention in the nation. The event features celebrity guests, live bands, tattoo artists, seminars, vendors, zombie walk and freak show film festival. Oct. 25-27

Zoo Boo Bash: Trick-or-treat in the wildest neighborhood in town at the Central Florida Zoo. This event is a fun and not-too-scary event for young and old alike. Children can wear costumes for trick-or-treat stations and face painting. Visitors can take a haunted hayride, visit the pumpkin patch for a fun photo and learn about the myths and realities of some misunderstood animals. Oct. 19-20 and 26-27

Exhibition Gives Hanoians a Glimpse of Guangdong Culture in Vietnam

The time-honoured cultural and artistic traditions of China’s Guangdong province are being introduced at an exhibition that opened in the Hanoi-based Ho Chi Minh Museum on August 22.

More than 100 photos and documents on display cover the main themes of arts, handicraft, architecture and folk customs.

The exhibition gives visitors a glimpse of Guangdong ’s Guangzhou city, which is famous for special types of arts such as drama, music, dance, circus and calligraphy, as well as sophisticated handicrafts like embroidery and ivory and wood carving.

Meanwhile, architectural works that are a combination of Western and Eastern styles in Guangdong city are featured at the event. Photos of monasteries and pagodas built under the Ming and Qing dynasties are displayed beside those of the 103-storey TV tower and the International Finance Centre.

The event is co-organised by the Ho Chi Minh Museum and the Guangdong Revolutionary History Museum.

CAST ANNOUNCED FOR THE LION KING

After a hotly competitive audition process, one of the most impressive and diverse line-ups of talent ever assembled on the Australian stage has been announced for Disney’s The Lion King. The multi-award winning Broadway musical opens at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre on December 12.

The cast features some of Australia and New Zealand’s brightest emerging talent, along with a number of seasoned performers, to make this one of the most sensational casts to appear in director Julie Taymor’s celebrated musical.

The call for talent drew 4,000 submissions with a total of 1,860 performers auditioning for the ground-breaking musical, which combines awe-inspiring puppetry and masks, ceremony and dance, and a music score of soul-stirring songs.

Executive Producer James Thane said: “In casting the show, our task from Julie Taymor was to find a diverse and exciting group of performers who uniquely reflect the cultural influences of our country and our region. After nine months of intensive searching, we’re thrilled to have found the perfect combination of singers, dancers and actors to fulfil Julie’s brief.

We’re now eagerly awaiting the start of rehearsals in October as we bring to life our own uniquely Australian version of The Lion King.”

The principal cast includes exciting new discovery Rob Collins in the pivotal role of Mufasa. Born and raised in Darwin, Rob has helped coordinate the National Indigenous Music Awards since its inception in 2004.

Rob is joined by popular television and theatre performer Josh Quong Tart as Scar, well-known theatre actor Cameron Goodall as Zazu, the charismatic New Zealand performer Jamie McGregor as Timon and the accomplished film, television and theatre actor Russell Dykstra as Pumbaa. Russell won the 2013 Helpmann Award for his role as Uncle Fester in The Addams Family.

The much-loved role of Simba will be played by New Zealander Nick Afoa, a keen rugby player and singer who made his mark singing the national anthem at the recent Rugby World Cup in Australia.

Former backing singer for Whitney Houston and session singer Buyi Zama returns to the role of Rafiki, which she performed to great acclaim in the original Australian production and has since performed on five continents.

The role of Young Simba will be shared by Jasper James Lloyd, Joshua Park, Adrian Pulvirenti and Ethan Puse and Young Nala by Ruby Alexander, Ayanda Dladla, Ariana Haghighi and Sabrina Sialeipata.

For more information, please visit lionking.com.au or for ticketing information call Ticketmaster 1300 558 878

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Hoi An Eco-tours Attracts Visitors in Vietnam

A seven-kilometre tour around Hoi An’s Cam Thanh Village takes visitors through the beautiful countryside and straight to the heart of Vietnamese traditional crafts and lifestyles.

Coracle paddling among a nipa palm forest.

Christine, a visitor from Australia, shared the remake, saying that: “I would highly recommend these tours to everyone travelling to Vietnam”.

The tour combines coracle paddling among a nipa palm forest and bicycle rides on winding flat roads around the tranquil village. Along the way, stops are made to visit craft villages specializing in lanterns, silk goods, timber furniture and pottery.

The Bay Mau (Seventy thousand square metres) nipa palm forest is a unique ecological area with flooded forests and charming landscapes. The forested area has been reduced to 58 ha, but the nipa palm is still prevalent.

The forest is home to shrimp, fish and diverse avian life. Tourists can explore the wetland ecosystem in coracles, from which they can fish with nets or lines. The forest also provides raw materials to make craft products and build traditional houses.

The traditional house of Cam Thanh Village resident Sau Mot attracts a large number of visitors. “The house was built in 2011 with walls made of split bamboo panels and palm-leaf roof”, Sau Mot said, adding that the structures kept cool in summer, but warm in winter.

Sau Mot’s son, Phan Dinh Vu, also a Hoi An tour operator, said that modern houses had gradually replaced the old-fashioned ones, though villagers preserve some old houses for visitors.

Tourists also have an opportunity to observe furniture production, and purchase souvenirs, interior decorations, and special foods in Cam Thanh village.

The tour allows customers to feel free to visit any house and join in craft production with locals, travelling from place to place on bicycles, which are available for rent in Hoi An. Tourists can guide themselves using informational brochures and maps, which are provided for free in Hoi An.

The local government and people devised the eco-tours to preserve the environmental heritage of the region and raise local awareness of environmental stewardship, all while providing a stable income for the local community, according to the Deputy Head of Hoi An’s Trade and Tourism Office, Pham Thi Ngoc Dung.

The Trade and Tourism Office also organises training courses on foreign languages and cooking for locals to improve the quality of service, Dung said.

She also said that the green tours are expected to spread to other localities in the future, aiming to diversify Hoi An’s tourism and attract visitors.

PARRAMASALA INVITES COMMUNITY TO DAZZLE WITH DYNAMIC PARADE

A spectacular multicultural procession of people, floats and animals from all over the world will kick off an amazing long weekend line-up at the fourth annual Parramasala Festival on Friday evening, 4 October, in a colourful and noisy parade.

Organisers are currently seeking cultural groups and dynamic individuals with a passion for performing to participate in the Parramasala Opening Parade to celebrate the diversity and cultural riches of Parramatta and Western Sydney.

One of Australia’s most awarded international producers and director of major events, Di Henry, has been appointed to create the Parramasala Parade. Ms Henry worked on the Sydney Olympic Games Torch Relay and has worked recently on the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“We are seeking more participants with exuberance, unique cultural creative performances and colourful traditional costumes including acrobats, musicians and dancers," Ms Henry said.

The parade will run along Church Street, Parramatta from Town Hall to Prince Alfred Park where the Masala Night Markets will continue the festivities into the night with sensational music and performances from around the world to launch Parramasala 2013. The markets also feature Asian cuisine, fashion, spices, fabrics, arts, crafts and refreshments.

“Western Sydney is a cultural mosaic, and the Parramasala Opening Parade puts the people who are an integral part of this diversity at the forefront of the celebration,” said Festival Director David Malacari.

Parramasala is a key arts and cultural event on the NSW Events Calendar, developed by Destination NSW, on behalf of the NSW Government and Parramatta City Council.

To get involved, contact Parramasala by email at: parade@parramasala.com to register your interest before 27 August 2013.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Bike Adventure Marks Responsible Tourism in Vietnam

A two-day cycling trip in the northern mountainous province of Hoa Binh is to take place this weekend to raise awareness of responsible tourism.

Anyone who is interested in the trip, named ‘Recycle’ will be shuttled to Luong Son district, when they start their 30km bike ride. Participants will have a change to enjoy cycling while contemplating the beautiful natural landscapes.

They will also join community activities including picking up waste, repairing a local school and building for it a water tank.

Sleeping in still houses by the HoaBinh Reservoir and sampling ethnic local dishes are also included in the trip’s programme.

According to organiser Footprint Vietnam Travel, the annual trip is to support and to network among responsible tourism stakeholders such as tour operators, tour guides from Footprint and friends in the tourism industry.

JUST FOR LAUGHS LINE-UP ANNOUNCED

Sydney Opera House, Just for Laughs and Adrian Bohm Presents have announced the 2013 line-up for the Just For Laughs at Sydney Opera House Comedy Festival to be held from 16-20 October.

The global comedy festival is loaded with yet another world-class line up of international and Australian comedians.

Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris said: “The NSW Government is pleased to support the international comedy festival, Just for Laughs, a celebration of comedic talent garnered from all corners of the world. As Australia’s global city, Sydney is well placed to host this much-anticipated event at our world-renowned venue, the Sydney Opera House.”

“According to the 2012 Live Performance Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey, NSW’s market share of comedy revenue continues to perform well, with greatest growth in attendance last year than the rest of Australia.”

Some of comedy’s biggest names will converge on Sydney over five days for the annual festival now in its third year in Australia. Returning home to host the International Gala is Australia’s own Rove McManus, who most recently has been making Americans laugh with his regular appearances on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

This will be Rove’s first Australian live show in five years. The International Gala is a highlight of the festival where for one night only the audience will experience a plethora of comedic talent from here and across the globe on one hilarious stage.

Further highlights include the eternally brassy and incredibly sassy Kathy Griffin, returning to Australia ready to unleash her signature brand of humour onto her very suspecting audiences. Rob Schneider, best known for his starring roles in Saturday Night Live, Deuce Bigalow and Grown Ups will also appear in his unmissable solo stand-up comedy show.

Adding to this already impressive line-up of talent is Ireland’s number one comedian, Tommy Tiernan, Whose Line Is It Anyway? stalwart Colin Mochrie and his partner in crime Brad Sherwood, and England’s multi-award winning stand-up comedian Mark Watson, regular on BBC’s Mock the Week and Never Mind the Buzzcocks and veteran of the international comedy festival circuit.

Foxtel’s Comedy Channel will be filming the very special Sydney only shows, Just For Laughs: The Stand Up Series hosted by Australia’s Dave Thornton, for an exclusive six-part television series. Dave who himself has also appeared at major comedy festivals around the world, including Edinburgh Fringe and the invitation-only Just For Laughs Montréal Comedy Festival, will lead the pack of yet to be announced Australian and international comedians in the intimate Studio of Australia’s most prestigious venue.

Successful comedian, writer, director and actor Peter Helliar will be at the helm of Date Night: The Relationship Show with special guest Greg Behrendt, author of the best-selling book, He's Just Not That Into You. The show will see a group of still-to-be-announced romantically dysfunctional comedians explore the craziness of human coupling who are bound to have the audience in stiches as they leave no embarrassing story untold.

For more information, including tickets, please visit sydneyoperahouse.com/jfl

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Zambiatourism.com Has Had A Major Relaunch

Zambiatourism.com has been the leading online tourism guide to Zambia over the past 15 years providing in-depth information about Zambia to millions of visitors. The site has recently had a major revamp and now offers far more functionality, news and excellent imagery to boost awareness of Zambia’s excellent tourism gems.

Visitors can explore the interactive map with links to attractions, activities and lodgings, while the destination pages have in depth information and high quality photographs depicting the fabulous scenery, wide range of activities or excellent wildlife and safari options. The layout is also fully compatibility with smart phones and tablets.

The new website gives a clear and visual representation of what’s on offer with easy navigation on what to see, what to do and where to stay, without ever having to leave the site. Visitors can make direct enquiries to hotels, travel agents, car hire or air charter companies and zoom right into the map to see where everything is. All tourism companies are invited to add their illustrated listing to ensure they can be found.

A new addition is the News portal for tourism developments, cultural and sporting events, as well as the latest sightings from safari guides or conservation and community development projects,thus keeping the site fresh and dynamic.

\Take a look at the Zambia Tourism website www.zambiatourism.com. Learn more about beautiful Zambia, explore cities and towns, find accommodation, tours and book adventure activities. Learn about the rich culture,historic and wildlife heritage or find out about upcoming events and festivals.

It’s almost as good as being here!

NSW TOPS LONELY PLANET’S AUSTRALIAN TRAVEL ADVENTURES LIST

NSW has been named ahead of other states as offering the most in ultimate adventure travel experiences in Australia by global travel authority, Lonely Planet.

Published this month, Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Adventures features 100 top 10 lists of the world’s most exciting activities and challenges to captivate and inspire gung-ho adventurers and armchair travellers – from the epic to the local, on land, sea and in the air.

Destination NSW CEO, Sandra Chipchase said: “NSW offers a huge diversity of exclusive adventure travel experiences and to be acknowledged by such a world renowned travel publishing organisation as Lonely Planet is recognition of the world-class quality of our tourism products. Nine NSW-based thrills have been listed by the Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Adventures guide from 58 of Australia’s ultimate adventure experiences. To be chosen ahead of other Australian states in this highly competitive field is a great achievement and is a testament to the unique experiences that NSW has to offer visitors,” Ms Chipchase said.

An international group of 30 travel writers selected the nine NSW travel adventures to appear in the publication, including:
  • Adventures in Tandem: Abseil in the Blue Mountains
  • Best City Hikes: Great Coastal Walk, Sydney
  • Best Hidden Huts & Shelters: Illawong Lodge, Kosciuszko National Park
  • Best Urban Climbing Adventures: Plumbers Mate, Bondi Sea Cliffs
  • Get on Board!: Wakeboarding, Stoney Park, Telegraph Point
  • Legendary Odysseys: Captain James Cook Collection, Australian Museum, Sydney
  • Most Spectacular Honeymoon Adventures: Lady Bay Beach, Sydney
  • Most Thrilling Canyoning Adventures: Blue Mountains
  • Old School Adventures: Australian Billycart Championships, Corowa.

For a full list of other NSW adventure experiences, please visit: visitnsw.com/things-to-do/adventure-and-sport and sydney.com/things-to-do/nature-and-parks

What Chinese Prefer While Traveling

Hotels.com released a report on the trends of Chinese travelers in their second edition of the Chinese International Travel Monitor and presented some precise insights about Chinese travelers, acclaimed as the world’s top-spending tourists.

According to the common assumptions, the report gave some fresh theories into the newly valuable demographic. In a major shift from a traditional preference for organized tours, more than half of Chinese travelers reported that they prefer to travel independently rather than in a group.

Latest findings about the Chinese tourists suggest:
  • They, like most travelers, want access to free Wi-Fi once they reach their destinations; 84 percent of hotelier respondents reported they’d received that request.
  • Sightseeing is the most popular activity among the group, with dining second and shopping third. Arts and culture, sports, and gambling are all low on the list.
  • Half of them book hotel rooms directly through the hotel, and only 14 percent use online travel agents to find and book accommodations.
  • They want more Chinese-language compatibility. Eighty-eight percent said that translated literature, TV, and newspapers were the most important service a hotel could provide.

The report also showed that Chinese travelers spend big on hotels – more than all except four other nationalities – despite their average annual household income of under $18,000. While they’re there, almost all prefer to eat in the in-house restaurant. They don’t stay in their rooms for long, though; the majority sleeps in each hotel for only 2-3 nights, and a quarter moves on the day after they arrive.

Mixing business with pleasure has also become more popular among this group, with almost a quarter of Chinese visitors to North America reporting that they combine work trips with leisure travel when they go abroad.

Kyneton Highlighted in MasterChef Australia

The historic village of Kyneton in the Macedon Ranges, one of regional Victoria’s most celebrated culinary and creative hubs will feature in this week’s episode of MasterChef Australia series five.Minister for Tourism and Major Events Louise Asher today said that it is easy to understand why Kyneton is the latest Victorian town to be selected to feature in the series.

MasterChef has already devoted programs to the Yarra Valley, the Goldfields and the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas.Ms Asher said over the past few years, Kyneton’s growing culinary scene has gained attention and acclaim from both visitors and the media. “Kyneton is now one of regional Victoria’s most talked about food and wine destinations with its many restaurants and cafes supporting a strong network of local growers and producers, all within a very compact geographical area,” Ms Asher said.

Ms Asher said the Victorian Coalition Government had worked with the show’s producers to bring the program to Victoria to promote the state as a leading culinary tourism destination.The Kyneton episode features the top five contestants gathering with the judges at the Royal George Hotel to cook and share great regional country produce. They will be joined by guest chef Annie Smithers, founder and former owner of Annie Smithers Bistro whose name synonymous with fine food and country cooking in the area.

In addition, MasterChef judge George Calombaris and two contestants will visit the nearby town of Trentham, to call on the self-professed ‘sourdough warrior’ John Reid at RedBeard Bakery, for a personal master class on the secrets of his famous sourdough bread.

Local MP Amanda Millar said Kyneton epitomises the idyllic country experience for visitors, with historic streetscapes, a charming village atmosphere and authentic country cooking, which supports the local community of growers and producers.“Showcasing Victoria’s culinary credentials and significant attractions on programs like MasterChef is a great enticement for people to visit Victoria and especially our outstanding local region,” Ms Millar said.Ms Asher said Victoria’s tourism industry is worth $19.1 billion, and employs over 200,000 people. Ms Asher said MasterChef is providing great exposure to many of Victoria’s attractions and experiences.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

EcoFest 25th Anniversary in New York


The 25th annual edition of this event features a slew of festivities that celebrate environmentally conscious industries. ECOFEST features green and sustainable achievements, choices and activities that encourage New Yorkers to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Produced by the West Side Cultural Center, ECOFEST is celebrating its 25th anniversary with green exhibits and eco-booths featuring environmental groups, animal care products, health and fitness information, and green technologies. Healthy food, music, dance and entertainment make Ecofest a fabulous destination for kids and adults alike!

Highlights are the ECO-FASHION SHOW, the ALTERNATIVE FUEL VEHICLES DISPLAY featuring the hottest electric and hybrid cars available, beautiful Tibetan sand mandala created by the venerable lama TENZIN(personal friend to the Dalai Lama), the CHILDREN’S RECYCLING OLYMPICS and Pete Seeger’s Grammy winning Rivertown Kids will be back to perform on the SOLAR POWERED STAGE. A 10FT. SNOWMAN will debut at Ecofest this year to represent the dangers of climate change, and to illustrate the possibility of reversing the damage climate change has already caused. For Info, Exhibit or Volunteer please call: 212-496-2030, ecofest.com

For more information, visit ecofest.org.
When: August 25, 2013
Where: Times Square, Broadway (bet. W. 42nd and W. 47th Sts.) Manhattan, NY 10036
get directions
Admission Price: Free

Photo Exhibition Praises Vietnam-Japan relationship

Cultural similarities between Vietnam and Japan as well as unique characteristics of each culture are reflected through 150 photos at an exhibition which opened in the southern coastal province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau on August 22.

The exhibition is held by the province as an activity to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic relations.

Theme “Vietnam – Japan, Ba Ria-Vung Tau – Kawasaki”, the exhibition also praises the beauty of landscape and peoples of the two localities which have established a twinning relationship.

The display will open to visitors until August 29.

Malaysian Airlines to see Profits by the 2014

Malaysian Airlines business turnaround plan has gained a momentum and thus it is hopeful in seeing profit at the end of the year. Malaysian Airlines reported on Wednesday that it will be in track by the end of the year after a second straight quarterly loss for the three months through June.

The net loss rose to 175.2 million ringgit ($53 million) was largely due to foreign exchange losses and was lower than a loss of 349 million ringgit ($106 million) in the same period last year. The further reports surmise that Operating revenue rose 12% to 3.6 billion ringgit ($1.1 billion).

CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya of Malasian Airlines said the company is on track to “build sustainable profit hopefully by the end of 2014.” Further he said that the airline have plans to purchase new planes as it will have to retire more than 40 old aircraft.

RORY MCILROY TO PLAY EXCLUSIVELY IN SYDNEY AT 2013 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Rory McIlroy
World No. 3 ranked golfer, Rory McIlroy has been secured by Destination NSW and Golf Australia to compete at the Australian Open, to be held at Royal Sydney Golf Club, 28 November-1 December, 2013.

Destination NSW CEO, Sandra Chipchase, said: “I’m delighted that World No.3 and 2012 PGA Champion, Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, will play exclusively in Sydney at the 2013 Emirates Australian Open.”

“Destination NSW works in partnership with the event organiser, Golf Australia, to secure the best available talent for the Australian Open of Golf in Sydney.”

“The 2013 Australian Open will be held on the prestigious Royal Sydney Golf Club and provides the only opportunity for Australian golf fans to see Rory McIlroy going head to head with US Masters champion, Australia’s Adam Scott, and some of the world’s best golfers – exclusively in Sydney.”

“Destination NSW is committed to the long-term vision of showcasing this historic tournament to the Asia Pacific region and highlighting Sydney and NSW’s stunning, world-class golf courses.”

“Following the record-breaking winter of sport events we secured for our State, which delivered an estimated boost of over $100 million to the NSW economy, this announcement reinforces Sydney’s position as Australia’s premier home of major sporting events.”

“The 2013 Australian Open in Sydney will provide sporting fans with an extraordinary opportunity to see some of the world’s best golfers and I hope everyone gets to be a part of such a special year for Australian golf.”

“The NSW Events Calendar continues to feature Australia’s leading major sports, with the Bledisloe Cup kicking off in Sydney this Saturday, 17 August and the NRL Grand Final on Sunday 6 October. In June, the NSW Government also announced that the Opening Series of Major League Baseball will be held exclusively in Sydney in 2014.”

Tickets for the Australian Open will go on sale via Ticketek on Wednesday 28 August 2013.

Visit Chicago on August 24th & 25th 2013 and be a Part of its Festivity

This weekend visit Chicago and spend an amazing weekend. On 24th August 2103 and 25th August 2013 Chicago will host a number of festivals. This American city with mesmerizing natural beauty will definitely enchant any traveller. Some of the most awaited festivals have been listed below:-

Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival: 

This festival presents the latest fashion trends. Celebrate this vibrant festival with music and awesome performances.

Long Grove Art and Wine Festival: 

this festival could be spent enjoying fine art, music and local food from 10am – 5pm on August 24-25, 2013.

Logan Square Summer Festival Schedule – The Boulevard: 

Two stages of live music, an emphasis on local foods and vendors and a great craft beer selection. Entry is a $5 suggested donation, and a portion of the proceeds benefit St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square.

Bash on Wabash: 

Located on Wabash Avenue between 13th Street and 14th Place.Chicago’s Bash on Wabash attracts all ages, featuring a wide variety of live musical acts on both Reggies Rock Chicago Stage sponsored by Budweiser and Kids Stage, free activities for adults and kids, food trucks and a variety of local vendors. Admission is a $5 suggested donation; Kids Stage is a $2 donation. A portion of the Bash on Wabash proceeds are donated to the South Loop Community Church Food Pantry. 

14th World Gourmet Festival

In another move to enhance Thailand's reputation as a culinary hot spot in Asia, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is joining the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok to promote this year's 14th World Gourmet Festival, to be held at Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok from September 2 to 8, 2013. Already confirmed are leading chefs and influential winemakers, and as the Festival approaches the list is set to grow.

Since its inception, the World Gourmet Festival has grown in prominence to feature an extraordinary line-up of some of the best chefs, winemakers and food experts from across the globe, all gathered together under one roof for a week-long celebration of outstanding cuisine and superb wines.

Currently confirmed to participate in the 14th Annual World Gourmet Festival are:
  • Chef Markus Arnold, "MA Pop-Up Restaurants", Bern, Switzerland
  • Chef Jérôme Bonnet, Restaurant Daniel,Paris, France
  • Chef Roger van Damme, Het Gebaar, Antwerp, Belgium
  • Ned Goodwin, Master of Wine, Japan
  • Pascal Jolivet, winemaker, Domaine Pascal Jolivet, Sancerre, France
  • Chef Hirohisa Koyama, Aoyagi, Tokyo, Japan
  • Chef Miguel Laffan, L'AND,Alentejo, Portugal
  • Chef Vito Mollica, Il Palagio, Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, Florence, Italy
  • Chef Paco Perez, Miramar Restaurant, Llançà, Spain
  • Chef David Rathgeber, Restaurant L'Assiette, Paris, France

Guests can also look forward to unique wine pairings at the dinners of Chef Jérôme Bonnet and Chef David Rathgeber. Chef Bonnet's cuisine will be paired with wines by Pascal Jolivet, and Chef Rathgeber's dinner will be paired with wines selected by Ned Goodwin.

In addition to the highlighted chef dinners, once again this year the lobby will play host to cooking demonstrations by the participating chefs in the Gaggenau show kitchen, as well as the much-loved World Gourmet Festival lunch and Sunday Brunch with cuisine from around the world.

Once again this year, the World Gourmet Festival supports HRH Princess Soamsawali's Save A Child's Life from AIDS Project under the auspices of the Thai Red Cross Society. THB 600.00 from the price of every World Gourmet dinner ticket, as well as proceeds from the World Gourmet live auction, will be donated to this charity.

The latest updates and further information about this year's festival will be available at www.worldgourmetfestivalbangkok.com as well as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Little Green Men Descend on Sydney



Sydney is set to be overtaken by little green men drawn from all corners of the globe.

A celebration of the 'flashing men' (and women) that stop traffic around the world and keep pedestrians safe will adorn street banners on some of Sydney's main roads as part of Art & About Sydney.

Walking Men WorldwideTM is a photographic collage of 99 different pedestrian traffic light icons that represent the 'walking man' around the world.

One of the world's most recognisable figures, the 'walking man' is arguably an international celebrity - a street icon that breaks down language barriers and appears in various forms around the world as an integral part of the urban landscape.

How each country represents the 'walking man' is intriguing and sometimes surprising:
• In Odense, Denmark, the silhouette of Hans Christian Anderson decorates traffic lights;
• Children's book and TV character Miffy has appeared in traffic lights in The Netherlands;
• The Amplemann (little traffic light man) is the symbolic figure of traffic lights in Berlin;
• In several European cities, traffic light icons are represented by females.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said Art & About Sydney was all about bringing art out of the gallery into public places where new audiences can enjoy it.

"These 'walking men' banners show just how significant a role art and design play in shaping the personality of urban environments," the Lord Mayor said.

"This project celebrates the most popular way of getting around our city - no matter how people get here, once they're in the city pretty much everyone walks."

The project's artist, Maya Barkai, said: "Standardised yet diverse, the characters of Walking Men WorldwideTM commonly show us the safe way of travel but also provokes multiple levels of conversations.

"The project is a collaborative effort of international photographers who have each added a piece from their own neighbourhood to the collection of images that together form our world.

The figures invite the audience to recognise, connect and perhaps provoke a dialogue around this simple yet special icon."

Israeli artist Ms Barkai first introduced Walking Men Worldwide™ in 2010 at the construction site of the upcoming Four Seasons Hotel in New York City.

This project was followed by Men At Work, featuring life-size renderings of the 'working men' figures from cities around the world, wrapping World Trade Center Tower 4 in NYC.

The project has also been featured at the PERMM Museum of Contemporary Art in Russia and the Bat Yam Biennale in Israel.

Some of the characters to feature in Walking Men WorldwideTM for Art & About Sydney include:
Fredericia - Denmark
Odense- Denmark
Cannes - France
Tokyo - Japan
Mexico City - Mexico
Amersfoort - Netherlands
A Coruna - Spain
New York - United States
Sao Paulo - Brazil
Tianjin - China
Buenos Aires - Argentina
Andorra - Andorra

Art & About Sydney runs from 20 September to 20 October 2013.
For more information, visit www.artandabout.com.au

Friday, 23 August 2013

Malaysia Gears Up to Celebrate its 56th Independence Day

When Malaysia achieved independence from Britain on 31 Aug, 1957, Malaysians then probably would have never imagined how far the agrarian state would develop in the future. While the nation is getting ready to celebrate the 56th independence anniversary this year, Malaysians can only be proud of the country’s many sterling achievements ever since.

Special edition stamps and gold and silver coins will be issued by the National Museum in conjunction with its 50th anniversary on Aug 31. Department of Museum Malaysia director-general Datuk Ibrahim Ismail said Pos Malaysia will print 1.5 million stamps while Bank Negara will produce 27,750 gold and silver coins to celebrate the Golden Jubilee, along with Malaysia’s 56th year of independence. The stamps will feature museums found nationwide while the coins will boast mural design of the National Museum. Other activities lined up to celebrate both events include the 50-Year Formation of Malaysia Exhibition (Aug 20 to Nov 17), A Night at the National Museum (Aug 30 to Sept 1), Fly The Jalur Gemilang (Aug 31), launch of the National Museum’s 50th year celebrations and launch of the stamps and coins.

Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said that the national anthem, Negaraku, will be played in cinemas before the screening of films in conjunction with the 56th National Day. It will be implemented from Aug 28 to Sept 3 in more than 700 cinemas nationwide. He said two independence promotional video clips would also be screened along with the national anthem by the five cinema operators, namely Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) (in 238 cinemas), MBO Cinemas (185), TGV Cinemas (170), Lotus Five Star (100) and Cathay Cineplexes (30).

Ministry of Welfare, Women and Family Development announced new items for the state-level Women’s Day celebration on Sept 28 held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebration of the state’s independence in Malaysia. Its minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said that several awards will be given out to women who made a difference in shaping the development of women in the state.

ILTM AFRICA 2014 EXPANDS - THIRD DAY ADDED TO BUILD EXCLUSIVE LUXURY TRAVEL BUSINESS MEETINGS

Following the success of the first ILTM Africa held in Cape Town earlier this year, Reed Travel Exhibitions has announced that ILTM Africa 2014 (www.iltm.net/africa) will expand to include a third day of mutually matched, pre-scheduled appointments for the elite of the African luxury travel industry to meet with up to 150 Africa specialists from across the globe.

Over 8,500 targeted luxury travel business meetings are planned to take place during ILTM Africa (28 – 30 April 2014), a key event during Africa Travel Week 2014 (www.africatravelweek.com: 28 April – 3 May) in Cape Town.

With the continued growth of Sub-Saharan travel destinations, inbound tourism arrivals to Africa reached a new record figure of 53 million in 2012. The number of African luxury travel specialists creating luxury travel itineraries for high net worth individuals worldwide is also increasing from emerging and established markets across Europe, Asia and Latin America. ILTM Africa 2013 alone welcomed 71 buyers from 30 countries and the 2014 edition is set to double in size.  Confirmed participants include Wilderness Safaris, Dare to Explore, Victoria Falls’ Elephant Camp, Western Cape’s Grand Dedale and Virgin Limited Edition, returning to build on their business success at ILTM Africa earlier this year.

Peter Allison, Wilderness Safaris commented “We have a long history of success with ILTM shows all around the world. ILTM Africa 2013 was such a targeted, great show for furthering new and existing relationships – we achieved not just a corporate connection with people, but a personal one too and cannot wait for ILTM Africa 2014 to build on this success.”

Janet Hoolohan, Group Sales & Marketing Director for Virgin Limited Edition added “We are so appreciative of what ILTM is doing in Africa as it affords us an opportunity to establish new and also develop and build on existing relationships.”

Newcomers to the guest list at ILTM Africa 2014 include Zimbabwe’s Baines’ River Camp who will introduce their new river cruise Matusadona. Owner Sabine Featherby said “To be invited as an exhibitor to ILTM Africa 2014 is an absolute honour. We are delighted to have the opportunity to introduce both Baines’ River Camp and our new venture Matusadona to the world’s top travel specialists. With the focus on luxury travel to Africa, a stress-free diary of appointments and no added cost to dress your stand, the question of participating was simply a no-brainer for us.”

ILTM Africa will be one of three co-located travel industry events at the Cape Town International Conference Centre (CTICC) that form Africa Travel Week 2014. The others will include IBTM Africa (Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings) 28 - 30 April, and WTM Africa (World Travel Market), which will take place from 2 – 3 May.

For further ILTM Africa information, please see www.iltm.net/africa or contact david.paterson@reedexpo.co.uk

MADAMA BUTTERFLY TAKES WING ON SYDNEY HARBOUR 2014

One of the world’s most spectacular outdoor events, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, will return next year with a modern retelling of Puccini’s tale of love and honour, Madama Butterfly, Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris, has announced.

The production will include an enormous full moon, a dynamic moving set and dazzling fireworks bursting against Sydney’s stunning Harbour night vista and will open on 21 March 2014 for an exclusive three-week season, playing nightly on the magnificent stage at Fleet Steps in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

“Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is a key cultural event on the NSW Events Calendar, and the NSW Government is proud to support such events,” Mr Souris said.

“Madama Butterfly is one of opera’s timeless classics, revered by opera enthusiasts the world over. While retaining the grace and beauty of the traditional production, the contemporary styling of this version, with modern costumes and innovative set designs will connect the production with today’s world and attract a new generation to opera.

“Following on from the enormously successful productions of La Traviata in 2012 and Carmen in 2013, Madama Butterfly is a fitting ‘third act’ to Opera Australia’s objective of delivering three seasons of the greatest operas ever written.

“I congratulate Opera Australia’s Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini who has again assembled a world-class creative team and cast for Madama Butterfly, including internationally renowned director Alex Ollé, one of the six artistic directors of La Fura dels Baus, which is one of the most innovative and prestigious theatre companies in the world. He is fresh from a great success directing Aida at the famous Arena in Verona.

“Cast in the lead role as Cio-Cio-San is Japanese soprano Hiromi Omura, who is known as ‘the Butterfly of today’. She returns to Sydney after great success in the title role at Sydney Opera House in 2012. Alternating in the role will be celebrated Korean soprano Hyeseoung Kwon, performing in Opera Australia’s Ring Cycle.

“International tenors Georgy Vasiliev and Andeka Gorrotxategi will make their Australian debuts as they alternate as Pinkerton, the American naval officer who romances Madama Butterfly.”

Mr Souris said the forthcoming season of Madama Butterfly would build on the successes of Carmen and La Traviata and would reinforce the fact that Sydney is Australia’s global events city and home of the performing arts.

“Madama Butterfly will attract huge levels of interest, showcasing our creative talent to both local and international audiences and resulting in greater visitations to Sydney,” Minister Souris said.

“Since 2012, it is estimated that Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour has attracted more than 11,000 overseas and interstate visitors who came to NSW specifically to see the opera, generating at least $10 million in direct visitor impact to the State.

“Investing in exclusive events that have such bold vision is a key priority for the NSW Government,” Minister Souris said.

Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini said: “La Fura Dels Baus is a creative powerhouse and we are thrilled with the spectacular new production their team is bringing for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour’s Madama Butterfly.

“We have some superb international singers joining us here in Sydney for what has become the cultural event of the year and we are very appreciative of the support of the NSW Government and Destination NSW in helping us deliver this in 2014. We also thank Dr Haruhisa Handa’s organisation, the International Federation for Arts and Culture, for its generous investment in our vision for an opera event like no other.”

Tickets to Madama Butterfly will go on sale within Opera Australia 2014 Season subscriptions from 23 August, with general public tickets on sale from 23 September.

Photo: Opera Australia's Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini (L) with Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris.

To purchase tickets, please visit operaonsydneyharbour.com.au

Celebrate Golden Week in Luxurious Fashion with Small Luxury Hotels of the World

National Day Golden Week is one of China's major holidays and a prime time for travel amongst Chinese. To celebrate this holiday season, Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ is enticing Chinese travellers with an array of unique experiences in bustling cities to idyllic and romantic resort escapades.

Twinpalms Phuket, Thailand - www.slh.com/twinpalms

For a tranquil and secluded retreat, Twinpalms Phuket is perfectly located to offer some privacy and ultimate relaxation. Guest can also charter the resort's Twinpalms One yacht for an island hopping sea cruise discovering deserted beaches and diving sites.

For Golden Week, Twinpalms Phuket is offering a 'Stay and Dine' package which includes two nights' accommodation for two, roundtrip airport transfer, daily breakfast, one hour private Thai Cooking Class at Oriental Spoon Grill & Bar and a romantic dinner paired with a bottle of champagne which can be enjoyed at guests' favourite location around the property such as the beach, Thai Sala or Wine Room. For dinner, guests will also have the option to choose between a seafood, Thai or Western menu. This package is priced from THB 8,950 per night.

Twinpalms is also offering a Summer Retreat package which includes three nights' accommodation for two, roundtrip airport transfer and daily breakfast, priced from THB 4,633 per night.

Princess D'Ân Nam Resort & Spa, Ke Ga Bay, Vietnam - www.slh.com/princessdannam

Set on the idyllic shores of Ke Ga Bay, overlooking the tranquil East Sea is the pretty Princess D'Ân Nam Resort & Spa - Vietnam's first all-villa boutique resort. The resort provides a fantastic retreat away from the usual tourist tracks and is also a perfect vacation for golf enthusiast as it's close to one of the best courses in Vietnam - the Ocean Dunes Golf Club. This par-72, and 18-hole course is designed by Masters and British Open champion Nick Faldo and offers magnificent views and challenging holes.

From now to 31st October 2013, Princess D'Ân Nam Resort & Spa is offering an amazing 43% discount on its best available rate. This promotion which includes daily breakfast is exclusive only to China, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong passport holders.

Hotel Ella, Austin, USA - www.slh.com/hotelella

Hotel Ella, nestled in the heart of Austin, known as the "Live Music Capital of the World", is a striking historic 19th century mansion that has undergone an extensive refurbishment and is opening its doors in time to celebrate China's Golden Week.

October is the ideal time to visit Austin as the city hosts Austin City Limits (ACL) - an annual three-day American music festival that attracts a global audience and takes place in Zilker Park, just minutes from Hotel Ella. This year's festival will see the likes of popular artists such as Kings of Leon, Lionel Richie, The Cure and Depeche Mode taking to the stage.

Hotel Ella's ACL Package begins at US$439 (minimum two night stay) and includes accommodations for two in a luxurious guest room, an ACL welcome gift upon arrival and a complimentary cocktail at Goodall's Kitchen & Bar each evening before the festival. This package is available from 4th to 6th October and 11th to 13th October.


Hotel Éclat Beijing, China - www.slh.com/eclatbeijing

For those not looking to travel too far during the Labour Day holiday, Hotel Éclat Beijing is the perfect place to re-charge and rejuvenate one's self. A striking landmark at the exclusive Parkview Green shopping and commercial complex in Chaoyang, Hotel Éclat Beijing is an architectural masterpiece that stands out as a distinctive statement of luxury and design.

Hotel Éclat Beijing is offering a revitalising National Day package valid from 1st to 7th October 2013. Priced at CNY 14,800 per night, this package includes:
one night's stay at the hotel's popular Deluxe Pool Suite
  • luxury skincare set from La Mer worth CNY2,500
  • a round-trip limousine pick-up service from and to Beijing International Airport
  • complimentary breakfast for two at the Éclat Lounge or in room
  • a three-course set dinner for two at Alfie's Dunhill restaurant
  • complimentary bottle of wine with canapés and snacks
  • Welcome fruit basket
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Full access to Éclat Lounge benefits
  • VIP in-room check-in
  • 24-hour butler service
  • Late check-out at 4pm (subject to availability)
For more information, please email resv.bj@eclathotels.com.

Velassaru, Male, Maldives - www.slh.com/velassaru

Sitting on a private coral island where the glistening turquoise waters lap the shores of a perfectly white sandy beach is Velassaru. Wonderfully secluded, Velassaru is every island fantasy come true with thatched villas over water decks and sun lounges, some perched over the lagoon with direct access to the azure waters and others with their own private pool.

For the month of October, Velsassaru is offering 10% off their best available rate for a minimum four nights stay. This package includes daily breakfast and an exclusive Male Tour where guest can embark on a voyage with a guided tour to experience the abundant history and culture as well as the modern day sights and sounds of the island.

Hansar Bangkok - www.slh.com/hansarbangkok

For guests seeking a little cultural sporting action during their vacation, Hansar Bangkok is offering a Muay Thai Kick Boxing package from now to 31st October 2013. Set in a chrome and glass tower conveniently located in the business and exclusive shopping district of Ratchaprasong and close to the Erawan Shrine, Hansar Bangkok is known for their exceptional hospitality and highly personalised individual service.

Guests of Hansar Bangkok can now learn the art of Muay Thai Kick Boxing during their stay with Hansar's Thai Kick Boxing Package priced at THB15, 000. This package includes:
two nights stay in the Studio Suite with complimentary upgrade to Urban Suite (based on availability at check-in)
  • Daily breakfast at Eve Restaurant
  • Two sets of one hour Muay Thai Kick Boxing sessions for one (*)  including personal trainer, boxing stage, boxing equipment and shower/locker facilities in a Thai Boxing studio within a 10 minute walk from the hotel
  • Complimentary souvenir  of Muay Thai Boxing Shorts
  • One 60 minute Signature Oil Massage at LUXSA Spa
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi access
  • Complimentary minibar
(*) Additional boxing package for 2nd guest is THB 4,000 and includes signature oil massage and two sets of one hour Muay Thai Kick Boxing sessions and Complimentary souvenir of Muay Thai Boxing Shorts.

Castle Hotel & Spa, Tarrytown, USA - www.slh.com/castlehotel

Castle Hotel & Spa is a 19th-century, medieval-styled castle with towers and turrets, that was meticulously transformed into a luxury hotel resembling an ancient fortress. Set in an 11-acre wooded estate with a pool grotto and a life size chess the hotel is also home to the award-winning Equus restaurant which features Auberge-styled French-inspired cuisine. Perched on a hilltop overlooking the Hudson River, just 25 miles north of New York City the hotel's location provides a beautiful backdrop during October and the fall months with the leaves changing and the beautiful brisk air.

From now to 30th December 2013, Castle Hotel & Spa is offering a 'Stay 3, Pay 2' package which includes three nights' accommodation, daily breakfast for two and complimentary use of mini-bar.

Discount for Cruise Passengers at Metro Apartments Darling Harbour

As another Australian summer draws near and thousands of Australians prepare for the annual cruise season, Metro Apartments Darling Harbour is offering cruise passengers a special 10 per cent discount off the best available rate for the length of their stay, to ensure their time in Sydney is as enjoyable as their time at sea.

With more than 80 cruises departing Sydney between September 1st and December 30, 2013, thousands of passengers will pass through Sydney before being carried off to intriguing destinations around the globe in ships such as Pacific Pearl, Radiance of the Seas, Carnival Spirit and Sun Princess. Sydney Harbour will be transformed into floating apartment hotels as these majestic cruise liners of the world prepare to pamper their multitude of guests.

Many interstate and regional guests will arrive in Sydney over the next few months to embark on a cruise, with cruises departing from the International Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay and from the White Bay Terminal at Rozelle. Located close to both departure points, Metro Apartments Darling Harbour is perfect for a pre- and post-cruise stay, just a short taxi trip away from both terminals.

Metro Apartments Darling Harbour offers a selection of 32 recently renovated loft-style one-bedroom apartments, each with a queen sized bed and sofa bed and offering all the comforts of a ‘home away from home’ with the convenience of a perfect city location. Located in two separate buildings in Sussex and King Streets, guests can choose from the larger, contemporary-styled Sussex St apartments with views over Darling Harbour or a New York styled King Street apartment with access to rooftop pool.

Apartments have full kitchen and laundry facilities, spacious living rooms with cathedral windows and have been designed as a ‘home away from home’ where families can relax at the end of a long day’s sightseeing, or just have a break before venturing out again to explore more of Sydney. Discount parking of $30 for 24 hours is provided nearby at 170 Sussex St Secure Car Parking.

To access the special offer, cruise passengers can book online at http://www.metrohotels.com.au/sydney-hotels/metro-apartments-on-darling-harbour-4; http://www.metrohotels.com.au/sydney-hotels/metro-apartments-on-king-17

On these websites you will get the best available packages and rate and use the word CRUISE when prompted for a discount code. Alternately they can ring the toll free Central Reservations line on 1800 004 321.