Saturday, 31 May 2014

Sydney Opera House lit up for Vivid

Vivid Festival is on in Sydney now. This is what the Sydney Opera House looks like each night from 6pm till midnight. Play this video and it will inspire you to go to Sydney to see this and all the other lit up buildings and light sculptures that are part of Vivid.

Richard Hirst Vivid Sydney Trail

To see the Vivid festival in Sydney people can just wander or set out on a trail of suggested stops. Here is one of them.

Gain some perspective on ‪#‎VividSydney‬ with Richard Hirst's ‪#‎VividTrail‬! His Vivid Trail focusses on the beautiful lights on the Bridge, with the Opera House as a backdrop. The reflected light from the Bridge illuminates the water below creating striking imagery.

Stop 1 - Blues Point - this is the most front on view of the Bridge you will find. It's perfect for the wide angle panoramic shot of the whole Bridge or for a zoom lens to capture just a part of the Bridge with Opera House in full focus

Stop 2 - Lavendar St, Lavendar Bay - this is a little hidden gem of a spot that looks down over the bay of moored boats with Luna Park to the side and Bridge sitting proudly high above. Great for a wide angle or have a bit of fun and zoom in on Luna Park and try a long exposure with the spinning ferris wheel

Stop 3 - Directly under the Bridge, Alfred St Milsons Point - this is one of the more popular spots so try to get there either right on opening or towards the end of the night. Or if you're game, brave any inclement weather to enjoy this position with less of a crowd. If you have a wide angle lens, you can snap the whole illuminate Bridge

Stop 4 - Jefferys Street Wharf - a great spot to capture the other side of the Bridge with the City and Opera House lights in the distance. Try either a wide angle lens with the Bridge towering high above to the right or zoom in on the action of the Opera House

 View here; http://bit.ly/1hEDNhI

Tourists’ Travelling Schedules Hardly Affected by the Curfew

The announcement by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on the change in curfew time to 00.01-04.00 hr, as of 28 May 2014 means that tourists visiting Thailand will have more time to enjoy the Kingdom’s wide variety of tourist attractions.

A report from the Tourism Authority of Thailand indicates that tourists’ travelling schedules are also hardly affected by either the previous or new curfew time, as all airports remain open and the NCPO allows air passengers with arrival and departure flights scheduled during curfew to travel to and from the airports at any time as usual.

During the previous curfew time (22.00-05.00 hr) that took effect for only six days from 22 to 27 May 2014, tourists visiting Thailand could still enjoy their holiday in the Kingdom’s major tourist destinations including Ko Samui and Phuket as usual, as reported widely by local and international media as well as the tourists themselves and travel bloggers via various social media outlets.

In Bangkok, the situation is calm. A sense of normality has returned to streets and areas near Government House and Ratchadamnoen Klang and Ratchadamnoen Nok roads, as well as at the Government Complex on Chaeng Watthana Road, after anti-government demonstrators vacated the sites and a big clean-up was held. Roads at these areas have been re-opened to normal traffic.

Curfew has been widely observed at nighttime. Nevertheless, tourists are advised to be vigilant and check travel routing before travelling to avoid being inconvenienced by movements of security officers and the anti-coup groups.

As reported widely in local and international media, Thai military troops were seen exercising restraint when confronted with anti-coup demonstrators.

In other news, NCPO on 27 May appointed a 10-member advisory committee, chaired by General Prawit Wongsuwan, to offer advice on various issues, such as security, economic affairs, and legal matters.

It also instructed the establishment of reconciliation centers in various parts of the country to reduce conflicts and divisions between the people. The centers will be venues where people will be able to exchange their views and to receive information on the progress of efforts to solve national problems.

Guest Speaker Series Continues at Skal Sydney With John King OAM, Chairman of ATEC

John King
Skal International Sydney is delighted to announce John King OAM, Chairman, Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) as our guest speaker for the SKAL International Sydney Networking Lunch Meeting on Wednesday 11 June, 12 noon at the Grace Hotel Sydney speaking about ATEC and Export Tourism – 'The New Imperative'.

John King, who is based in Sydney, has a 40 year background in highly successful and widely recognised international tourism marketing and management, including operating his own international tourism consulting company for 19 years. He has held a number of senior positions with International tourism organizations. John was presented with the 2010 Pacific Asia Travel Association Award of Merit and is an Honorary Fellow of Southern Cross University in recognition of his contribution to tourism.

He is currently Chairman of Southern Travel Holdings, a Trustee of the Travel Compensation Fund (Australia) and a member of the Boards of Management of Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park and Lord Howe Island. He is also a member of the Australian Advisory Board of the Beijing based China Ready and Accredited and the Board of the Pacific Asia Travel Association.

In 2007 he was appointed Independent Chairman of the Australian Tourism Export Council, the primary industry body for the Australian inbound tourism industry, a position he still holds. He was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Visitor Economy Taskforce to develop a joint industry/government plan in 2012 to double revenue from tourism for the New South Wales Government. John was also recognised for his services to Australian tourism with an Order of Australia medal in the 2011 Australia Day honours list.

Members and guest are welcome. This months networking lunch includes a 3-course lunch and beverages for $73 per person. To RSVP visit the website at www.sydney.skalaustralia.travel

Skal International Sydney Skål is Professionals in Tourism, “Doing Business with Friends”.

Skål founded in 1934, is the largest organisation of professionals travel and tourism leaders around the world, promoting global tourism and friendship. It is the only international group uniting all branches of the travel and tourism industry. It's members, industry managers and executives, meet at local, regional and international levels to discuss and pursue topics of common interest in the Travel and Tourism Sectors.

Skål International, headquartered at the General Secretariat in Torremolinos, Spain, has approximately 18,000 members in more than 500 Clubs throughout almost 90 nations.

Skål International Sydney, Australia's longest established Club, meets traditionally on the second Wednesday of each month at a nominated venue within Sydney. Membership represents a strong cross section of senior leaders of the local travel and tourism industry.

Additional Information is available at http://www.sydney.skalaustralia.travel or email: sydneyskal@bigpond.com

To Philippines with love


Rebuilding dreams, rebuilding Tacloban - a press conference was recently held in Tacloban on 23rd May 2014 for the ‪#‎toPHwithlove‬ donation efforts where a total of USD 2.17million was raised.

See the entire event in pictures and the affected communities that your contributions will touch.
 AirAsia Australia

The Vanishing Tastes Festival

Alaçatı is an Aegean town on the western coast of İzmir Province in Turkey, which is known for its architecture, vineyards and windmills.

The first International Vanishing Tastes Festival will celebrate the traditional home cooking of the Aegean region that has been lost or is on the verge of being lost.

The first edition of this twice-annual festival in June will feature spring and summer foodstuffs from the Izmir region around Alacati, while the second festival for 2014, to be held on 10-12 October, will focus on autumn and winter recipes to delight the taste buds.

In addition to its cuisine, Alacati offers unspoilt sandy beaches and bays, lively beach clubs and an international windsurfing scene.

Explore Alacati is an umbrella association representing 27 hotels in Alacati.

Where: Alacati, Turkey
When: 6 to 8 June 2014 and 10 to 12 October 2014
Website: www.explorealacati.com. 

Spirit of Freedom swims with Dwarf Minke Whales

Swimming with dwarf minke whales on the Great Barrier Reef is a life changing experience, you'll never forget with Spirit of Freedom.

These inquisitive mammals of the sea migrate to the northern Ribbon Reefs each year, providing a very few, lucky swimmers / divers with the opportunity for close encounters between June and July.

Coming eye to eye with a dwarf minke whale in the open ocean is both memorable and magical; with these experiences led by the whales themselves, who often approach boats, divers and snorkelers.

Although called 'dwarf', these whales can grow up to 8m long and weigh several tonnes. With attractive and distinctive grey and white colourings / markings, dwarf minke whales are highly maneuverable in the water and seem to enjoy initiating contact with humans.

Spirit of Freedom has been encountering these curious cetaceans since they commenced Ribbon Reef operations in 2002. They are also one of only a few operators to hold a 'Swim with Dwarf Minke Whales Special Tourism Permission', through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

This permission allows divers and snorkelers to enter the water in close quarters with the dwarf minke whales during their migration period to the Great Barrier Reef.

Spirit of Freedom follows strict guidelines for interacting with dwarf minke whales, allowing the whales to control the encounter and approach swimmers / divers on their terms. They are proud supporters and long term contributors to the Minke Whale Project.

www.tusadive.com
www.spiritoffreedom.com.au

TAT to stage Thailand Tourism Festival 2014: the kingdoms largest travel fair

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has announced that the annual Thailand Tourism Festival (TTF) 2014 will be held as scheduled from 4 to 8 June at Challenger Hall 1-3, IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Centre Muang Thong Thani in Bangkok.

Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, TAT Governor said,“The TTF is the biggest tourism event in Thailand, and allows a cross-section of the industry’ biggest players – service providers, agents, hoteliers or tour operators – to meet face-to-face with end-consumers, the tourists and travellers they aim to serve. The event also offers a great opportunity for domestic tourists as well as local residents in Thailand to take advantage of some special deals for accommodation and tour services around the nation.”

In 2014, the TTF marks its 34th year and offers a showcase for all tourism-related products and services as well as Thailand’s popular One-Tambon-One-Product (OTOP) items in different designated zones of the massive 60,000 square metres of exhibit space. There will also be cultural shows staged by local artist groups from all corners of the country.

There will be five main zones at the fair, which will showcase popular and unique products and services from different regions. These are:
  • Fall in Love with Northern Thailand’s Charms: Time-honoured Cultures & Abundant Natural Beauty. In this zone, visitors will enjoy a slice of traditional Thai Lue village life through demonstrations of local cloth weaving techniques, pottery making and the construction of wooden and basketwork Khan Toke (traditional Northern dining trays). There will also be cultural performances from Lanna artists and educational displays about the region’s unique products.
  • Fall in Love with Central Thailand’s Charms: In a Variety of Styles. This zone boasts exquisite displays of Thai-style communal houses and villages – unique to the Central Plains region. There are also floating markets, village stalls and cultural performances that impart some of the region’s ancient folk wisdom alongside displays that enable visitors to learn about the 19 distinctive tourist attractions found in this region.
  • Fall in Love with Northeastern Thailand’s Charms: Land of Ancient Civilisation. In this zone, visitors will experience the communal lifestyles of the local Phu Thai ethnic group as well as see the distinctive indigenous architecture of their buildings. There will also be a range of cultural performances to enjoy and the chance to see what tourist goods the region produces.
  • Fall in Love with Southern Thailand’s Charms: Abundant Natural Beauty and Culture. This zone highlights the South’s unique natural charms with attractive images of the region’s crystal-clear sea, lush forests and unique blend of people and cultures. Visitors can see representations of the distinctive ‘Pan Ya’ Southern Thai-style houses, relax in Southern-style tea shops and enjoy a little taste of the many attractions found in the islands and lush greenery of this charming region.
  • Fall in Love with Eastern Thailand’s Charms: The Colours of the East. Showing off the high-end luxury resorts, along the Eastern Seaboard through a 3D art exhibition, and hosting fashion shows that display the gems and jewellery products of the East, this zone boasts a great deal for tourists to enjoy.

In addition, each zone will try to evoke the distinct atmospheres of the zones they represent with a walking street where visitors can experience the sights, sounds and smells of each region. Visitors can even explore with their taste buds thanks to the wide range of foods and culinary products on sale to taste and buy.

There will also be an entertainment zone incorporating the main stage where visitors will be treated to daily cultural performances from talented students from some of Thailand’s dramatic arts colleges as well as concerts from well-known singers and famous artists. For those who would like a taste of the Thai regions, without having to travel, a food zone will offer snacks and meals from over 100 leading restaurants from all over the country.

In a separate exhibition zone, visitors will be inspired to travel in the kingdom by giving them some great information about some of the leading tourist attractions around Thailand as well as a 4D presentation about ‘10 Dream Destinations’ in Thailand. There will also be displays about popular Thailand tourism products, information about the Thailand Tourism Awards, medical tourism, ecotourism, business travel and many more. This makes the event a perfect day out for anyone planning to travel round the kingdom.

Visitors interested in learning more about tourism in Thailand, are advised to join a special seminarhosted by TAT on the topic “Tourism Thailand : KEEP CALM AND LOOK FORWARD TO 2020”on 8 June, 2014, between 10:00 – 16:30 hours at Jupiter Room 4-7, in which this seminar will be conducted in Thai.

Bargain-seeking travellers should head for the booths hosted by airlines, hotels, resorts, travel agencies and car rental groups, where special deals and breaks offered at discount prices – all to encourage travel in the kingdom. Visitors willing to take part in some of the fun activities taking place may even win on-the-spot prizes and rewards.

To encourage would-be travellers and interested parties to come and take a look around the Thailand Tourism Festival, TAT is offering a free, hourly shuttle bus service from the Mo Chit’s BTS and MRT stations to the Challenger Hall at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani.

International Visitor Arrivals Set New Record for Melbourne

White Night Melbourne
Strong international passenger growth at Melbourne Airport of 8.6% for the fiscal year to date (July 2013 – March 2014) was driven by international passport holders, up 9.6%, and Australian passport holders, up 7.6%

For the calendar year 2013, Melbourne Airport recorded more than 30 million passenger movements for the first time (both domestic and international). This was a 4 per cent increase on 2012. International passengers made up 7.4 million of those passengers (+7% increase on the previous year) while 23 million were domestic passengers. In contrast, for the same period Sydney's international passengers grew by 4.1% to 12.25 million while domestic passengers grew 1.9% to 25 million.

During this period, Melbourne Airport's international seat capacity increased by 705,890 which represents an increase of 7.4 per cent over the previous year. There are currently 24 international airlines that serve overseas destinations to and from Melbourne Airport.

Melbourne Airport provides a world class facility with competitive strengths including 24 hour, curfew-free facilities, single international and domestic terminal layout and passenger charges that are significantly lower than other major airports including Sydney and Brisbane. The airport is currently undertaking significant construction projects to provide capacity for continued growth, including a redevelopment of its forecourt, an extension to airport drive and (a now completed) runway overlay. In total Melbourne Airport will invest $1 billion into these works over the next five years.

New air services

Victoria continues to succeed in attracting international air services; recent achievements for new and increased international airline services include:
  • United Airlines – announced on 21 February 2014 that it will introduce 6 x weekly non-stop flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles from 26 October 2014. (United currently operates a 'tag' service to Melbourne from its Sydney-Los Angeles service, the new flight replaces this)
  • Qatar – announced it will increase seat capacity on its Melbourne- Doha route by 30% through an upgauge in aircraft to a B777-300ER.
  • Jetstar – announcedit willcommence a Melbourne – Tokyo three x weekly services from 29 April 2014; this will create the first direct flights between Victoria and Japan in more than five years. Jetstar also commenced a service between Melbourne and Osaka, via Cairns, from 30 March 2014.
  • Air Calin – announced on 20 December 2013, it will launch 2-3 weekly Melbourne - New Caledonia flights from 6 June 2014, becoming the State's 25th international airline.
  • Etihad Airways – commenced a B777-300ER on its Abu Dhabi – Melbourne flights on 1 December 2013 providing an additional 13,104 seats per year for the State.
  • Malaysia Airlines launched a third daily service Melbourne – Kuala Lumpur on 22 November 2013.
  • AirAsia X –increased to double daily services to Kuala Lumpur in October 2013.
  • Air India launched daily flights to Delhi on 30 August 2013. Of these, Melbourne will receive three direct non-stop inbound services each week. Another four services a week from Delhi will arrive into Melbourne via Sydney. Air India will use Boeing 787 'Dreamliner' aircraft for the service, the first international carrier to fly Dreamliner aircraft to Melbourne.
  • Singapore Airlines introduced a fourth daily Melbourne - Singapore service from July 2013.
  • Garuda Indonesia –increased services to 5 weekly Melbourne – Jakarta from May 2013
  • Sichuan Airlines - launched its inaugural flight to Australia on 28 February 2013. The airline operates between two to three flights per week between Melbourne and Chengdu.
  • Qantas commenced a new daily A380 service between Melbourne and Dubai in April 2013, following the decision by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to approve a five-year alliance between Qantas and Emirates Airline.
  • Royal Brunei Airlines has upgraded its daily Melbourne services to the new generation Dreamliner B787.

Corporate website: www.tourismvictoria.com.au
Consumer website: www.visitmelbourne.com

Dubai expected to construct ten hotels by 2020 around Dubai World Central

According to Helal Saeed Al Merri, director-general of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), by 2020, At least ten new hotels are likely to be built around Dubai World Central (DWC).

At the end of 2013, the number of hotel rooms was 84,534. Approximately 25,000 more rooms will open, with a large portion of the supply in the three- and four-star segment by early 2017. Construction work on Expo 2020, is likely to start next year, which will be held at DWC. The most important part of the construction is expected to be completed by October 2019.

According to Al Merri, hotel prices up Prices of hotels have gone up in the last two years, however, he said that the market would not continue going up because demand and supply will balance, and hotels are looking to get to the right balance. He added that DTCM won’t regulate pricing of hotels. He added that DTCM won’t regulate pricing of hotels.

The six-month Expo 2020 is expected to draw around 25 million visitors. The Expo’s legacy plan includes a university, museum, an exhibition centre and commercial areas.

Al Merri, said, since March 31, Hotels in Dubai have started charging guests the “tourism dirham”, a new fee announced by DTCM, which, hasn’t impacted visitor numbers.

Al Merri expects hotel occupancy during the summer months to be similar to the rest of the year, in the approaching years, which, according to analysts, stands at over 85 per cent. Meanwhile, Dubai, aims to be the world’s most visited city, which Al Merri thinks is “feasible.”

Wilson Prom, A Small Slice of Heaven

The only way to experience Wilson Promontory is on foot, literally as the 30km scenic drive through the park to Tidal River is the only road access which means there is no other choice but walk. The trip departs in November which is one of the best times of the year, from both a weather and lack of crowds perspective and will suit those people who just love 'walking'.

Brett Neagle at Auswalk waxes lyrical “that Auswalk is not just about getting away from it all, but also getting closer to it all.” This trip is no different.

Wilsons Promontory, or “The Prom” as it is affectionately known, is where the forest meets the sea. It is a vast granite promontory that teems with wildlife and offers walkers endless opportunities to explore. There are rocky headlands, remote beaches, idyllic coves, coastal bushlands, picturesque rivers, tall eucalypt forest and more. The coastal tracks climb several lofty peaks that offer spectacular panoramas offer magnificent views. The Prom's stunning beaches are also one of the highlights.

There is also a lot of wildlife including wombats, koalas, wallabies, emus and numerous birds. The tremendous breadth of scenery on offer makes this park extremely popular, so we've chosen a time of year that is fabulous for walking but avoids the busy tourist season.

As a complete contrast we'll also head inland to the historic gold mining area of Walhalla. We'll hike amongst the maze of huge granite tors of Mushroom Rocks on a section of the Australian Alps Walking Track and then climb Mt Erica on the Baw Baw Plateau. We will also visit the impressive Thomson Dam and take some time out to explore the historic relics at Walhalla.

Auswalk organises walking holidays to over 28 destinations around Australia and is in its 20th year of operation.

Contact: Brett Neagle or Monica Coleman Ph. 03 9530 8800
Email: info@auswalk.com.au
Website: Auswalk.com.au

Visitors to Antarctica up by 9%, announces IAATO

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) announced its tourism figures for the 2013-2014 season on the first day of its 25th Annual Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. The total number was 37.405, up 9% with a growing prevalence of Chinese visitors.

The total numbers of visitors travelling to Antarctica, with IAATO members, was 37,405, an increase of 9% compared to the previous season. Levels of visitation have been increasing modestly since 2011-2012, but are still considerably less than the peak of 46, 265 during the 2007-2008 austral summer.

There was an increase across all sectors of Antarctic tourism, with most growth (16%) seen amongst those operators offering an air-cruise combination, which accounted for 5% of all visitors. In this case, travelers are flown to the South Shetland Islands to join a cruise that makes landings at sites on the Antarctic Peninsula. Joining a ship carrying fewer than 500 passengers from a gateway port, such as in southern South America, remains the most popular way of visiting the Continent, accounting for 68% of visitors.

Inline with global tourism trends, the number of Chinese visitors increased, to make up 9% of the total. Ten years ago, in the 2003-2004 season, they represented just 0.2% of total visitors to Antarctica. China moved ahead of Germany and the UK to sit behind the USA and Australia, which made up 33% and 11% of visitors respectively.

Tourism Growth Management is one of the many topics being discussed at IAATO’s annual meeting.

Claudia Holgate, Environmental Manager, said, “As part of our member’s commitment to operating in a safe and environmentally responsible way, IAATO regularly analyses the trends and evolution of Antarctic tourism to identify any significant issues. Our Annual Meetings bring together a wide range of people with an interest in Antarctica’s future, from IAATO members to Treaty Party representatives.

The meetings provide a lively and productive opportunity to discuss potential challenges and ensure that the Association is prepared for these.”

CITADINES ON BOURKE MELBOURNE WINS SUITE/APARTMENT ACCOMMODATION OF THE YEAR AWARD FOR THE THIRD TIME

Citadines on Bourke Melbourne
The Ascott Limited’s (Ascott) first Citadines Apart’hotel in Australia, Citadines on Bourke Melbourne, has been named the ‘Suite/Apartment Accommodation of the Year’ at the 2014 TAA (Victoria) State Awards for Excellence. The pre-eminent awards by the TAA – the division of the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) representing the interest of the accommodation industry – recognises the best hotels, motels and serviced apartments.

The TAA Awards for Excellence are recognised as the most prestigious hospitality awards, honouring the achievement of excellence in a wide range of categories in the accommodation industry.

This is the third year that Citadines on Bourke Melbourne has received the award for best apartment style accommodation, having clinched the title at the 2011 and 2012 AHA State and National awards. The property, which opened in July 2010, also garnered the Silver Award in ‘New Accommodation Development’ at the National Accommodation Industry Awards for Excellence 2011 and was a finalist at the Victorian Tourism Awards for ‘New Tourism Development’.

Mr Kenneth Rogers, Ascott’s Regional General Manager for Australia and Indonesia, said “we are proud that Citadines on Bourke Melbourne has won the best ‘Suite/ Apartment Accommodation of the Year’ award for the third time. This award, which is given out by esteemed hospitality industry members, is a strong testament of the high quality products and services that we offer.”

Citadines on Bourke Melbourne reflects the vibrancy of Melbourne. Inspired by the city’s distinctive laneways of boutiques, cafés and galleries, the lobby of the property is designed as a laneway connecting two renowned shopping strips. Citadines on Bourke Melbourne also showcases the works of Melbourne artists, providing a local contemporary edge to the property.

Citadines on Bourke Melbourne offers choices of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. All apartments boast floor-to-ceiling windows, with the apartments on the higher floors offering panoramic views of the city. In addition, guests can choose to enjoy a range of facilities including a swimming pool, sauna, gymnasium, outdoor sundeck, business corner and services such as room service, onsite bar and restaurant and complimentary WIFI.

Located in the heart of the city at 131-135 Bourke St, Citadines on Bourke Melbourne is well served by public transport and is within walking distance to restaurants, cafés, cinemas, high-end shopping, parks and gardens. The property is also in the centre of Melbourne’s renowned theatre district and close to major office towers.

To experience Citadines on Bourke Melbourne’s award-winning brand of hospitality, visit www.citadines.com.au or call 1800 766 377 (AUS toll-free).

Introducing Midnight Magic at the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Beijing

Sometimes hectic city life can make it difficult to find time for romance. It seems that there’s never enough time to create that extra special surprise for a loved one. Now, Four Seasons Hotel Beijing is coming to the rescue with the Midnight Magic Spa experience, dedicated to just one couple per night. An evening reserved just for two, there’s no more romantic way to enjoy the nurturing embrace of love and togetherness right in the heart of the bustling city.

The evening’s magic begins from the moment the couple is collected from their home in Beijing in one of the Hotel’s limousines. On arrival at the Hotel, slip into silk robes, and enjoy a traditional tea ceremony to soothe the mind and spirit in the Hotel’s magical Tea Garden, transformed by the night with flickering candlelight.

As the clock strikes midnight, the journey continues down a pathway of rose petals to a private poolside oasis. Enjoy a soothing swim in the warm waters, or simply head straight to the side-by-side treatment beds to begin a two-and-a-half-hour sensual, relaxing ritual including a soothing aroma-infused massage with the essential oil of the guests’ choice and a Biologique Recherché Midnight Glow facial to leave the skin refreshed and brightened.

Conclude the evening by sipping on Champagne and nibbling on decadent treats created exclusively by Executive Pastry Chef Holger Deh in private seclusion, a million miles away from daily stresses but still surrounded by the twinkling lights of the city.

The Midnight Magic Spa experience is reserved for just one couple per night at the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Beijing, and is priced at CNY 9,999 per couple, subject to government tax and service charge.

Natural Experiences on Phillip Island

Beaches, bush, wildlife and sightseeing - Phillip Island boasts enough breathtaking natural beauty to fill an entire holiday of exploring. The Island is renowned as one of the most varied beach locations in Australia with panoramic coastal scenes of crashing waves for surfing and swimming, and gentle bays for fishing and sailing.

In March 2013 Phillip Island's surfing community celebrated the formal declaration of Victoria's first National Surfing Reserve at Cape Woolamai Beach. Australian surfing legend Layne Beachley hosted the event and said that Phillip Island has always been one of her favorite surfing destinations. The Reserve is made up of four sites along Phillip Island's coast: Cape Woolamai, Smiths Beach, Summerland and Cat Bay.
Smith's Beach on the South Coast has a great swell and is a favorite on the surf scene especially for learners. Cape Woolamai, Berry's Beach and Colonnades are other popular spots, often with waves a little less challenging than Smiths. Coaching and equipment hire is available through local surf shops at the main beaches.

Fishing is a popular pastime on the Island with a large variety of fish to be caught including flathead, snapper, salmon, whiting and flounder. A lazy day can be spent in the fresh sea breeze tossing a line in from jetties at Cowes, Newhaven, Rhyll and San Remo. Charter fishing expeditions are offered from Rhyll and San Remo and hire-boats are available from Cowes, Rhyll and Corinella.

Phillip Island is a compact holiday playground, measuring just 26 kilometres by 9 kilometres and with more than a quarter of this area conserved for the environment, the best and most enjoyable way to get around is to walk or ride a bike. The island boasts many designated tracks and hiking routes suited to all fitness levels and each revealing a different island treasure - its spectacular coast, flora and fauna.

Stand out tracks include: Penguin Parade to the Nobbies that winds around the majestic south coast along a small, unsealed road. Spectacular coastal views and crashing waves can be observed in a one-hour walk or short bike ride. The Bush to Bay track starts at the Koala Conservation Centre and travels through the native bush land to Rhyll. This track is seven kilometers long and is popular for wildlife spotting and discovering the native flora of the island. Kitty Miller Bay lies inside the bordering Watts Point and Kennon Heads, with wide rock platforms at the base of the headlands and reef in between them. Walking east for approximately an hour from the car park along the beach leads to the shipwreck site of the SS Speke, which came to grief in 1904 in strong gale force winds. Remains of the ship can best be seen at low tide when the beach expands to 50 m wide.

Another great way to take in Phillip Island is from the air! Phillip Island Helicopters operate a number of scenic flights and heli-adventures around the area. There are seven flights to choose from, all with unprecedented views of Phillip Island's spectacular scenery. Highlights include the Phillip Island Penguin Parade, Cowes and some stunning surf beaches. Flights can also be tailored to suit visitor's needs. www.phillipislandhelicopters.com.au

Phillip Island Golf Club is a beautiful spot to spend a lazy day taking in the Phillip Island scenery and relaxing with friends over a round of golf. Situated close to the beach, the course is regarded as one of the finest layouts in regional Victoria. Measuring 6,003 meters, golfers are able to stroll through its magnificent landscape and spot native flora and fauna while soaking up the open air and sunshine. At the end of the game, groups of ten or more golfers can unwind and refuel with an authentic, gourmet Aussie barbecue at the Phillip Island RSL offering a traditional menu of succulent meats and fresh salads in a buffet styled service.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Townsville North Queensland World Class Products on Offer

Magnetic Island
Townsville North Queensland is an emerging international tourism destination featuring world class education institutions and tourism products.

As one of the only places on earth that is home to two World Heritage listed sites, Townsville Enterprise is pitching the region's world class tourism products to international buyers.

Townsville Enterprise General Manager Tourism and Events, Patricia O'Callaghan, said the region has emerged as a destination of excellence in the educational tourism field and the delegation provides an opportunity to showcase to an international audience what the region has to offer.

“Since launching 16 educational tourism (edutourism) experiences in Townsville North Queensland last year, we have seen a number of student groups, both domestic and international, come to the region specifically for these immersive hands-on experiences.”

“With Reef HQ Aquarium, the National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and world leading James Cook University all located in Townsville, the region is well positioned for diverse edutourism experiences and now we need to promote them to the rest of the world”.

“The city has an entrenched reputation as a thriving centre of learning excellence both in an academic and recreational sense and the next step is to use local attractions to position the region as an ideal family holiday destination where visitors can take home more than just photographs.”

“More and more families are heading overseas for holidays, and it's our ambitious goal to turn that around and encourage the younger generation to gain an appreciation of their rich Australian heritage.”

“Townsville North Queensland is home to an extraordinary range of natural wonders that are proving incredibly attractive for students, children and families who are curious about Australia's wildlife, environment and maritime history.”

“Here visitors will learn about marine life, ecology and the environment in a real life classroom from people who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with others

Townsville
With over 300 days of sunshine each year, Townsville North Queensland retains its local character indicative of the 'Real Australia' the world has come to love and is the gateway to the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef, tropical islands, wet tropics, rainforests, national parks, wetlands and historical, military and outback experiences.


Download the Townsville North Queensland Edutourism Manual
Explore Townsville North Queensland online @ http://www.townsvillenorthqueensland.com.au/

Townsville North Queensland at a glance

  • Townsville is situated between two UNESCO World Heritage listed ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef and Paluma Range.
  • Magnetic Island, just 20 minutes off the coast of Townsville, is made up of two-thirds National Park with 24 kilometres of walking trails plus 23 beaches and bays. It is also home to the largest koala colony in Northern Australia.
  • Hidden Valley Cabins in the Paluma Range is Australia's first carbon neutral resort, powered by solar energy.
  • Reef HQ Aquarium is the largest coral reef exhibit in the world, made up of 2.5 million litres of water and housing 150 species of reef fish, a variety of sharks, turtles, crocodiles, crabs and many other under water inhabitants.
  • Billabong Sanctuary offers a once in a lifetime animal encounter, where visitors can sleep next to the resident four metre salt water crocodile.
  • The Town Common, just 10 minutes outside of the Townsville CBD, is a 7,413 acre haven flourishing with deep water lagoons, mangroves, coastal woodlands and sheltered beaches to investigate.
  • The Museum of Tropical Queensland and Maritime Museum of Townsville showcase the region's rich history including the S. S. Yongala and H.M.S Pandora shipwrecks.
  • The Nywaigi Aboriginal people have inhabited the Townsville North Queensland region for 45,000 years, with tours discovering their amazing history and culture. Throw a boomerang, weave a basket and indulge in a traditional Kup-Murri meal.
  • Townsville North Queensland played an integral role in the Battle of the Coral Sea and World War II as the base for more than 50,000 American and Australian troops.

Background: 

Magnetic Island
Located 1500 km north of Brisbane, Townsville North Queensland has a population of approximately 230,000 and offers a mix of rainforests, reefs, sandy beaches and heritage outback towns seasoned with the friendly, easy going lifestyle which is a Queensland trademark. Home to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) the nerve centre for the single largest living organism in the world, Townsville also boasts Australia's largest aquarium with its own dedicated turtle hospital. The city is flanked by two world-heritage listed sites, the Great Barrier Reef and the Paluma Range National Park.

London welcomes nearly 17 million international visitors – more than ever before

London
London has welcomed over 16 million international visitors in one year for the first time in history, making it one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world.

Tourists from around the globe have flocked to the city in ever increasing numbers to attend world class exhibitions, visit amazing royal palaces, dine at Michelin starred restaurants, and watch world class sporting events.

Many attractions, including the British Museum, Natural History Museum and National Gallery, experienced big increases in visitor numbers. The British Museum, boosted by exhibitions such as ‘Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum’, was the most popular attraction with over 6.7 million visitors – making it their most successful year on record.

However, the city is not resting on this success but is carrying on delivering world class cultural exhibitions, theatre and sporting events to ensure 2014 is also a momentous year.

Following the hugely successful London 2012 Olympic Games and Diamond Jubilee, the city has experienced a boom in visitors, as 16.8 million people arrived in 2013, well over a million more visitors than ever before in a calendar year and up nine per cent compared to 2012.

According to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics’ International Passenger Survey, visitors spent a record £11.2 billion on shopping, hotels, restaurants and visiting attractions, over £1 billion more than in 2012.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “These record-breaking figures are a tribute to the outstanding mix of culture, art, music and sport to be found here and more is planned. With major international sporting events including the Rugby World Cup and the Tour de France and spectacular exhibitions at the Tate and the British Museum this year, it is clear that this wonderful city will not rest on its laurels.”

Some of the major cultural events this year will be ‘Ming: 50 Years that changed China’ at the British Museum, ‘Constable: The Making of a Master’ at the V&A and ‘Rembrandt: The Final Years’ at the National Gallery.

Ming at the British Museum will include rare loans of some of the finest objects ever made in China, and will tell the story of this critical period in Chinese history. The Constable exhibition at the V&A will reveal the hidden stories of how the artist created some of his most loved and well-known paintings, while Rembrandt at the National Gallery will bring together approximately 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints by the master to offer visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the passion and innovation of his late works.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, said: “London is and always has been a global city. I am delighted that the British Museum has welcomed a record number of visitors last year.

“The world collection at the British Museum belongs to and is used by a global citizenship in London. One in four overseas visitors to London comes to see the collection which spans two million years of human history. We continue to explore world cultures and their cultural connections in exhibitions from Roman Pompeii and the Viking Age to Shakespeare’s world and Ming China.”

The positive picture for last year is reflected across Britain which welcomed nearly 33 million visitors, a six per cent increase compared to 2012, who spent £21 billion, an increase of 13 per cent compared to the previous year. Early figures for the first two months of 2014 also show there was a nine per cent increase in tourist numbers across Britain.

According to the International Passenger Survey (IPS) London’s previous best year was in 2006 when the city welcomed 15.6 million visitors just pipping the 2012 number.

Among many other 2014 events expected to capture worldwide attention is the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of World War I with the re-opening of the Imperial War Museum in July and the ‘Great War in Portraits’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Together with an exhibition about fictional detective Sherlock Holmes at the Museum of London and the Thames River Festival in September, this year offers a feast of cultural activities for visitors.

Kit Malthouse, Chairman of London & Partners, the city’s official promotional organisation, said: “London is continuing to build on its success and is offering world class exhibitions and attractions that people are prepared to travel from all corners of the globe to see.

“The wealth and breadth of the city’s cultural offering is incredible. From exhibitions showcasing the greatest artists and the world’s most famous fictional detective, to spectacular river festivals – the city offers something for everyone, young and old.”

The Historic Royal Palaces, including the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace, has also celebrated a record breaking year by welcoming over four million visitors for the first time after putting on successful exhibitions like ‘Fashion Rules’ and ‘Secrets of the Royal Bed Chamber’.

Danny Homan, Communications and Development Director of Historic Royal Palaces, said: “We attribute the uplift in visitor numbers to strong inbound tourism following the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics in 2012, and also to the enduring popularity of London’s extraordinary heritage.“2014 promises to be another successful year for Historic Royal Palaces. The Tower of London has just achieved a record-breaking Easter period and our ‘Glorious Georges’ season is attracting visitors to new displays and events at Hampton Court and Kensington Palace.”

Japan’s visa relaxation to increase inbound visits

Japan’s inbound tourism grows, as the country relaxes visa limitations for Southeast Asia and India, says new report from Timetric.

Besides encouraging international tourist to adopt e-visas, Japan has also waived visas for visitors from Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand and Malaysia. Easier access to visas and the introduction of new low-cost carrier flights between Southeast Asian nations caused the number of inbound tourists to rise. Arrivals from Thailand, for example, increased by 26% between 2009 and 2013 and are expected to grow steadily up to 2018. Moreover, visitors from the Philippines and Vietnam are entitled to multiple entry visas since July 2013, which will further increase the number of tourist travelling to Japan.

New agreement to smooth path for Indian tourists
To boost inbound numbers even more, Japan and India have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in New Delhi on January 22nd 2014. The memorandum is an agreement between the governments of India and Japan, which will help to strengthen cooperation between the two countries and relax visa restrictions for tourists from India.

Boost in Japanese tourism sector expected to continue
According to the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), the Japanese travel and tourism sector saw a moderate growth in inbound tourism. The number of international trips rose from 8.4 million in 2009 to 10.4 million in 2013, driven by the weakness of the yen. The four leading countries, which accounted for 65% of the inbound tourists, were South Korea, Taiwan, China and the US. Inbound tourist arrivals to Japan are expected to increase at an annual rate of 12.97%, to reach 19.1 million by 2018.

A First Timer at ATE, Yet Not His First ATE!

Culturl hunting tour
ATE 2014 marks the first time Walkabout Cultural Adventures exhibited as “seller” yet Aboriginal owner operator, Juan Walker, is an old hand at ATE.

This year Juan will be showcased his own business at the Cairns 2014 ATE, the first time as a Seller in the very busy and exciting event. However Juan has previously attended ATE's in the past, all round Australia, in many different capacities… as an Indigenous artist, representing the Indigenous Champions, Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa.

“Walkabout Cultural Adventures is my own business, I started in 2008 and I went slowly, slowly… but in only a couple of years, it really took off,” he says. “I think because my tours are unique and personalized, I take guests on half & full day tours around the Daintree – Port Douglas region and showcase my cultural land, heritage and traditions, basically because I am Aboriginal and my connection and history with the land I can take guests on a tour like no other, they really can experience things, no other tours can offer”.  " I am ready to take Walkabout Cultural Adventures to new heights.”

LOCATION: Far North Queensland.
Tours include Port Douglas, Mossman and Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation and Daintree region.
WEBSITE: www.walkaboutadventures.com.au

Malaysia to host Asia Media Summit (AMS) in 2015

Malaysia will host the Asia Media Summit (AMS) in 2015, after the last time it hosted the summit in 2008. Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said Malaysia was the original host of the prestigious event in 2004.

After the summit was held in Malaysia for five consecutive years, it was taken to other countries and will return to Malaysia after six years.

“On behalf of the Malaysian government, I invite all those involved to come for the AMS2015 in Kuala Lumpur, the place of its birth,” said Ahmad Shabery in his speech at the closing of AMS2014, in Jeddah.

The AMS2014, organised by the Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) and the Culture and Information Ministry of Saudi Arabia was held for three days from May 6.

It was attended by more than 500 media experts from the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the Middle East.

Ahmad Shabery said besides discussing and debating on important issues related to broadcasting at AMS2015, the participants would also be able to experience “Malaysia Truly Asia” where Malaysia wished to share its diversity of culture and food, as well as its natural beauty and top shopping centres.

“We invite all of you to the Asia Media Summit 2015 and we say ‘Selamat Datang’ (welcome),” he said to the audience at AMS2014.

Ahmad Shabery also thanked and congratulated Saudi Arabia’s Culture and Information Ministry as well as AIBD for a well-organised summit this year.

Catch a Crab Commences Work on the New Land Based Oyster Farm Attraction Opening in November 2014

Catch a Crab has announced that work has commenced on the new marine environment centre. Due to open in November 2014 the land based attraction is located at Catch a Crab's departure point Birds Bay Oyster Farm.

The new centre will feature exciting and interactive displays of marine and birdlife of the local estuarine waterways with touch tanks, fish and bird feeding activities , informative displays and commentaries combined with exciting photo opportunities and of course THE GIANT CRAB.

For those who have already been on the catch a crab tour or who do not have time in their itinerary to take the boat tour, they will now have the opportunity to join the oyster farm tour. The new tour will be themed on the local marine environment featuring the famous terranora lakes oysters & mudcrabs.

The new tour will offer loads of exciting photo opportunies, interactive displays and activities including oyster and wine tasting. Exciting new seafood options will also be on the menu with the expansion of the oyster farm riverside cafe.

Catch a Crab is very excitedt to announce this new attraction and tour options opening in November 2014.

Website:  www.catchacrab.com.au

DUSIT DEVARANA NEW DELHI NAMED 'LANDSCAPE DESIGN OF THE YEAR 2014' at INDIA'S FIRST NDTV DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE AWARDS

Lobby at Dusit Devarana New Delhi
Dusit Devarana New Delhi, Dusit International’s first hotel to open in India, announces it has been awarded an NDTV Design & Architecture Award in the category of ‘Landscape Design of the Year 2014’.

NDTV, or New Delhi Television, has been a pioneer in India’s news television for a quarter century. Since then, it has expanded its brand portfolio to seize opportunities ‘beyond the news space.’ NDTV hosted its first ever Design & Architecture Awards, in partnership with GROHE and powered by Autodesk, on March 21st 2014.

The awards focus on the complexities of building projects from design, aesthetic, sustainability and conservation perspectives, as well as the local context. After an in-depth evaluation of each entry, the esteemed jury announced the winners and Mr. KVL Narayan Rao, Executive Vice-Chairperson of NDTV and the President of News Broadcasters Association presented the NDTV Design & Architecture Award for ‘Landscape Design of The Year 2014’ to Dusit Devarana New Delhi.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Jaideep Anand, Area General Manager of Dusit Devarana New Delhi, said, “I thank the NDTV team and the esteemed jury members to have bestowed this great honour upon Dusit Devarana New Delhi.”

Dusit Devarana New Delhi is set against a quaint background ensconced by nature. Surrounded by over a thousand mature trees, meandering water bodies, regally columned verandahs, elegant interiors, spacious guest rooms equipped with state of the art technology, it is an ideal destination for leisure and corporate travellers alike. Designed by Khun Lek Bunnag, the Dusit Devarana New Delhi offers an intimate sanctuary experience with understated yet elegant spaces.

DUSIT DEVARANA NEW DELHI

Dusit Devarana New Delhi
Catering to the high-powered, discerning sophisticate, Dusit Devarana New Delhi is a significant niche offering that leverages leading Asian hospitality group’s Dusit International’s rich Thai heritage and history of service excellence with Bird Group’s local expertise to offer an intimate, high-end sanctuary experience. The resort reflects the ultimate in luxury and refinement, providing an enriching experience through artistic touch points and a modern yet timeless aesthetic. With personalised, discreet, flawless service and privacy for each individual, Dusit Devarana New Delhi provides an escape from the everyday world – a sense of renewal, a renaissance of the mind.
Dusit Devarana New Delhi is perfectly located between the historical attractions of New Delhi and corporate hub of Gurgaon, providing business and leisure travellers a luxurious urban retreat in the heart of India. To find out more about Dusit Devarana New Delhi, please visit www.dusit.com

Snowman Selfie Competition!

Café Bus, the gourmet brand of Wildlife Tours Australia, is pleased to announce the re-launch of our MYSTIC MOUNTAINS SNOW, WATERFALLS AND CHOCOLATES day tour commencing June 2014.

Throughout this snow season we will be running a "snowman selfie" competition. The best photo of a Café Bus guest with a snowman on each trip will win a gift pack from the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie.

This new tour departs five days per week through the snow season and includes:
  • 3 HOURS OF SNOW PLAY at Lake Mountain
  • Visit to Waterfalls and nature walks at Steavenson Falls in Marysville
  • Visit to Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice-creamery

This new tour complements the existing Café Bus Yarra Valley Wine, Cheese and Chocolates tour and offers visitors a fun and easy day trip to Melbourne's closest snow resort.

Craig Cooney, Director of Café Bus, says Lake Mountain is an ideal destination for visitors to Melbourne. “Many visitors to Melbourne want to visit the snow fields for snow play and tobogganing and some to see snow for the first time. Lake Mountain resort is located only two hours from the city making it an easy day trip and allowing us time to showcase the Mystic Mountains and Yarra Valley region on the way.”

“Melbourne is famous for its café culture and we wanted to capture that essence and include it on our tours. All guests on our Mystic Mountains tour will receive complimentary coffee or hot chocolate with marshmallows to warm them up at the snow, as well as enjoy a visit to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice-Creamery for a sweet finish to the day” said Mr Cooney. For more information visit www.cafebus.com.au or contact Craig Cooney on 0433 757 857 or craig@cafebus.com.au. Café Bus is the gourmet brand of Wildlife Tours Australia.

Book A Room At Any Mandarin Oriental Hotel In Mainland China And Enjoy Complimentary Upgrades At Sister China Properties

Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou
Guests booking two nights or more at the Best Available Rate at Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai, Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou or Mandarin Oriental, Sanya will receive a Fantastic Exclusive Gift Certificate upon check out. The certificate entitles guests to enjoy a range of complimentary benefits and privileges redeemable at any of the other two Mandarin Oriental hotels in mainland China. Benefits include: RMB600 credit for dining or spa treatments, a room upgrade to the next category, daily breakfast for up to two guests and a VIP arrival amenity.

Guests can experience the cosmopolitan vibrancy of Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai, the Group’s newest China property, which features showpiece restaurants by Michelin star chef Richard Ekkebus and Shanghai celebrity chef Tony Lu; a 2,415 sqm Spa and Fitness Centre with high-tech Beauty by Mandarin Oriental clinic and a 25-metre swimming pool; plus 4,000 original artworks, luxury yacht experiences and more.

Enjoying a prime position adjacent to the TaiKoo Hui luxury shopping mall, Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou’s spacious guestrooms, suites and serviced apartments designed by Tony Chi reflect Mandarin Oriental’s distinctive elegance and style. Jiang by Chef Fei serves innovative Cantonese cuisine by one of China’s most acclaimed chefs, and the classic grill restaurant Ebony is a chic international dining destination. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou offers a rare opportunity for peace and tranquility in the city with nine private treatment rooms.

Mandarin Oriental’s Fantastic Exclusive Gift offer is the perfect excuse to treat loved ones to a tropical getaway on China’s luxurious holiday island of Hainan. Mandarin Oriental, Sanya is a secluded mountainside retreat overlooking picturesque Coral Bay. The resort offers 296 guestrooms and sky villas with private infinity pools, gourmet dining at nine restaurants and lounges, plus a 3,200sqm The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Sanya set in its own Zen-infused village with a resident Shaolin Kongfu Master.

The Fantastic Exclusive Gift offer is available until 31 December 2014, with vouchers redeemable until 31 March 2015. The offer is subject to availability, terms and conditions apply and advance reservations are required. Reservations can be made through Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s on-line reservations service at www.mandarinoriental.com or by contacting the Group’s worldwide sales and reservation offices, or by phoning the hotels direct.

Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou

Located next to TaiKoo Hui Shopping Centre, each of the hotel’s 233 spacious guestrooms, 30 suites and 24 serviced apartments reflect the Group’s distinctive elegance and style. Diverse dining choices include Jiang by Chef Fei, one of China’s most notable chefs known for his creative flair; a classic grill restaurant, Ebony; The Taikoo Lounge; The Mandarin Cake Shop and The Loft. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou offers city dwellers and visitors a rare opportunity for peace and tranquillity with nine private treatment rooms. Top-tier meetings and function facilities are spacious and equipped with the latest technology, and the hotel’s expansive 750 square metre ballroom is set to become the city’s premier celebration and events destination.

Wildlife Encounters on Phillip Island

Phillip Island, situated in Western Port, is a place where visitors can immerse themselves in the magical natural wonders of Australia, from its distinctive animals to beautiful beaches, rugged coastline and picturesque landscapes. With diverse coastline and bush land, wildlife encounters, idyllic coastal dining and family adventure, the Island has many experiences to share, all within an easy 90 minute drive from Melbourne. Nature enthusiasts will love the island's beautiful and varied beaches that offer ideal conditions for surfing, swimming, fishing and boating; and its rugged, scenic coastline and native bush land with designated hiking trails and cycling tracks, which can also be taken in from above with a helicopter tour. Food lovers can sample the region's delicious local wine and produce at the many restaurants and cafes scattered across the island or buy direct from the farm gate, cellar doors or Churchill Island Farmers' Market. Families can create holiday memories with a wide range of fun-filled attractions including a three-dimensional maze, chocolate factory, go-karts and of course the world-famous Penguin Parade.

For full information on Phillip Island's natural attractions, experiences, events and accommodation offerings, visit www.visitphillipisland.com or call the Phillip Island Visitor Information Centre on 1300 366 422

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS

As home to the largest colony of little penguins in the world, koala conservation centre and 20,000 Australian Fur Seals, there is plenty of opportunity to get close to nature and view wildlife in its natural habitat on Phillip Island.

One of Australia's premier wildlife experiences, the Penguin Parade draws thousands of international visitors to the island each year. Taking place at dusk each day, hundreds of little penguins emerge from the sea after a day spent fishing and waddle up to their burrows in the sand dunes. Visitors to Phillip Island can take a Guided Ranger Tour through the penguin colony before the parade starts. www.penguins.org.au

Phillip Island Nature Parks has opened a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to care for sick and injured penguins and other wildlife. From February 2014, visitors to Phillip Island will have the opportunity to tour the Phillip Island Nature Parks Wildlife Hospital. These tours will reveal what goes on behind the scenes to nurse sick, injured and orphaned wildlife back to health. The wildlife hospital provides veterinary treatment and support to injured wildlife, helping rehabilitate them so that they can be released back into the wild. www.penguins.org.au

Wildlife Coast Cruises depart daily from Cowes Jetty and offer a range of cruises that let visitors experience the region's beautiful scenic landscapes and amazing wildlife in their natural environment. Wildlife Coast Cruises has been awarded the Advanced Eco Tourism accreditation and also achieved Tourism Accreditation Australia (TAAL) business accreditation. The Eco Certification logo is recognised globally and assures customers that the business is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. The accreditation also demonstrates Wildlife Coast Cruises operates to a high standard of environmental cultural and business practices with sound policies and procedures to support these.

Popular cruises include a trip to spy on the Australian Fur Seals at Seal Rocks off the rugged west coast of the island - breeding ground and nursery for over 20,000 seals. Visitors can have an up-close wildlife encounter and see young pups play and explore while adult seals bask on the rocks or fight for their territory.

In winter, Phillip Island welcomes the majestic, migrating great Southern Humpback Whales as they pass by Phillip Island from Antarctica. Wildlife Coast Cruises hosts Whale Discovery Cruises, taking visitors into ideal whale viewing areas. In addition to whale spotting, visitors see an abundance of native marine life, with sights of seabirds and playful dolphins. www.wildlifecoastcruises.com.au

The Koala Conservation Centre is an environmentally sustainable attraction dedicated to the wellbeing and future of koalas. Visitors can view the koalas in their natural habitat from the tree-top boardwalks and may even spot other native species such as echidnas, wallabies and bird life. The Visitor's Centre has educational information, a gift shop and café. www.penguins.org.au

The recently launched Phillip Island Bird Tour includes a day of bird- watching across Phillip Island's bushland, wetland and coastal habitats. Led by eco accredited ranges with excellent knowledge of the local fauna, the tour offers a wonderful up-close encounter. It is little known, but Phillip Island is home to over 200 bird species. The tour begins at dawn and concludes with a premium penguin viewing at the Penguin Parade at dusk. www.penguins.org.au

The Maru Koala and Animal Park is an award-winning, family run attraction that has been operating at Grantville near Phillip Island since 1983. Here, visitors can 'get in touch with wildlife' by patting a koala, hand feeding albino kangaroos, talking with parrots, meeting a golden possum, and getting wrapped in a three meter python snake. Maru also has an 18-hole mini-golf course, information centre and café which can also cater for group meals. www.marukoalapark.com.au

Penguin Parade
Phillip Island is home to literally thousands of animal species, all gathered within a short distance of the main township of Cowes. Rare and internationally-protected birdlife can be seen in the wetlands while crabs, sea stars and other ocean animals can be found when fossicking in rock pools at the water's edge. Dolphins and whales (during migration) can often be seen splashing around in the waves and a fun wildlife activity can be found at San Remo pier when the fisherman's co-op feeds the pelicans each day at noon.

Top 5 upcoming venues for Manila

For years, event planners had to contend with the same facilities for business events in Manila. However, as the Philippine economy grows, Metro Manila is levelling up with new venues for business events. Expect more than the tourism board’s slogan of fun in the Philippines. The number of hotel rooms in Metro Manila is soaring and set to reach a 26-year high in the next three years.

Colliers International analyst Romeo Arahan says an average of 4,300 rooms are expected to be delivered annually from this year until 2016, making it the highest number of units completed since 1988.

Local and foreign developers are on a roll to meet the growing demand for hotel rooms, in line with the government’s target of 10 million foreign tourist arrivals by 2016. Here are five in Metro Manila that meeting planners can choose from, for now:

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

After two decades, Marco Polo enlivens the Ortigas business and commercial district with the opening of a five-star hotel. The 316-room property had its soft opening in March and all the full amenities are due to be ready this month.

The hotel has an impressive Continental Club Lounge located on the 44th floor. Marketing itself as the country’s first ‘sky hotel’, a sky lobby on the 24th level of the hotel tower offers stunning views of the metro. Vu, the sky bar on the 45th floor serves cocktails, tapas and looks out to the nearby valley, mountain range and lake on the east and the Ortigas cityscape towards the west. Vu’s alfresco and indoor options high up on the 45th floor make for a memorable cocktail setting for groups.

For large events, Marco Polo Grand Ballroom on the seventh level seats 450 guests for a banquet or 560 persons for cocktails. The ballroom can be divided into two, with a pre-function area. The ninth level features eight meeting rooms with modern audio-visual facilities, soundproofed dividers, natural light, and complimentary WiFi. The hotel has five dining outlets: an all-day restaurant, a specialty café, a Cantonese restaurant, a designer café and the ‘sky bar’.

Nobu Hotel and City of Dreams

The first Nobu Hotel in Asia is due to open this year at the City of Dreams Manila, a new integrated casino resort in the metro.

This partnership between celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Academy Award winning actor Robert de Niro (right) will deliver a 321-room hotel. The hotel features a Nobu Restaurant set in a cabana-style dining terrace on a platform deck to showcase Manila Bay’s stunning sunset views.

Chimmy Leung, associate director of group corporate communications for Melco International Development, says: “The City of Dreams Manila will have a sound strategic mix of hotel brands from celebrity inspired lifestyle, a luxury casino hotel experience for VIPS, and unparalleled services and facilities for MICE and premium business guests.”

There will be six hotel towers including a 260-room Crown Towers Hotel and the 321-room Nobu Hotel Manila, along with numerous specialty restaurants, bars, gaming facilities and a multilevel car park. With US$1.3 billion invested in the City of Dreams, the integrated casino resort is aimed at making Manila an appealing alternative to Macau’s luxury hotel scene.

Little has so far been revealed about the third upscale hotel to complete the 900-room portfolio of the complex. The complex is slated to open in the third quarter of the year.

The presence of a Nobu Hotel is much anticipated by domestic and international tourists. Apart from the luxury hotel rooms and the Nobu Restaurant, expect a Nobu Tea Lounge at the lobby, and a Nobu spa and fitness room at the hotel’s platform deck.

Entertainment City

Around 40 per cent of the 4,120 rooms to be completed this year will be coming from Entertainment City. Radisson Hotel is expected to have 500 rooms and Tune Hotel will have 204 rooms.

While there are luxury options, Tune Hotels at Entertainment City offers space-efficient rooms, focusing on offering high quality basics such as five-star beds and powerful hot showers. The strategically located hotel provides housekeeping services, electronic key card access into rooms and no access into the main lobby without a key card past midnight.

Tune currently has eight hotels in the Philippines, with three more scheduled to open within the year. Rather than meeting facilities, the hotels are aimed at providing affordable accommodations to delegates using business facilities in the Entertainment City area and nearby SMX Convention Centre.

Solaire Resort and Casino

The first of the four anchor properties in Manila’s Entertainment City is Solaire Resort and Casino.

Solaire appears to have a winning edge, having opened in March last year. To mark its first anniversary, it showcased a flair by hosting outstanding events such as the Solaire Open Golf Championship and Pinoy Pride Boxing.

This 500-room hotel features 15 dining outlets and delegates seeking extra pampering can opt for the bayside villas that range from 600 to 1000 sqm with each overlooking Manila Bay. Each villa has a 24-hour butler service, a dedicated 24-hour chef service for meals, in-suite spa facilities, private jacuzzi and spa, and putting green overlooking Manila Bay.

Planners of large events will be pleased to discover that Solaire has one of Manila’s largest ballrooms. The Grand Ballroom can accommodate a maximum of 1,000 guests banquet style. Its Entertainment Lounge, Eclipse, offers live entertainment throughout the day, making it a great venue for cocktails for a maximum of 200 guests.

Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels

One of China’s leading hotel operators is making a splash in Manila with the conveniently located 95-room Jin Jiang Inn Ortigas and 70-room Jin Jiang Inn Greenbelt. The Ortigas is a close to the Asian Development Bank headquarters and three large shopping malls. The Greenbelt hotel is across Ayala’s premier shopping malls and a short walk to top restaurants, museums, and the Makati Central Business District.

* Written by Maida Pineda

Pinnacle Tours - Creating an Experience You Come Back For

Following the acquisition in December 2012, Australian Pinnacle Tours has now commenced operating as part of the ADAMS Group. As a locally owned coach-touring operator, we feel this as an exciting addition to our service offering.

Now, these two iconic Western Australian brands have combined to form the future of coach travel in this state. One brand that represents the very best experience. One voice that delivers a consistent, authentic promise.

ADAMS is one of the most trusted brands in the Western Australian people transport business and the next 12-24 months will see changes that continue to strengthen that position.

In October 2013 The ADAMS Group launched its new brand strategy which includes the addition of 11 brand new coaches to the fleet over the next 12 months.

In line with International standards and as part of ADAMS commitment to reducing our carbon footprint- these vehicles meet stringent Euro 5 emissions standards and have been assessed as the most fuel efficient in their class.

The Volvo-Irizar coaches have a level of comfort and innovation which is the highest in Australia. Coach features include passenger LED screens with entertainment suite and GPS display as seen in modern aircraft; hot and cold water outlets; on board restrooms; On board satellite Wi-Fi and driver fatigue monitoring cameras. Each seat also has 50% more leg room and a USB mobile phone charging point. These innovations will ensure we deliver a luxury touring experience in Western Australia.


Tourism WA CEO Stephanie Buckland welcomed the significant investment by the ADAMS Group in upgrading and expanding its coach fleet.

“Providing a high quality visitor experience is crucial to success in tourism, and nowhere is that more important than in the vast State of Western Australia,” Ms Buckland said.

“This commitment by ADAMS will not only enhance their product, but also the extraordinary experiences visitors can enjoy in regional WA.”

As we see it, the coach-touring sector is a key tourism driver for Western Australia, to the benefit of all – particularly regional communities. We would like to grow this area to its full potential, working closely with other key stakeholders in our industry beginning in 14/15 with Margaret River, Perth and Fremantle surrounds. ADAMS Pinnacle Tours believe local operators in each region of Western Australia are the key to providing our clients with unique, specialised and memorable experiences that they will remember forever.

Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association CEO Pip Close applauded the relationships ADAMS Pinnacle Tours is creating with local Margaret River operators.

“AMRTA is thrilled that Pinnacle Tours has taken the lead in introducing this new 2 day tour to the region.

The initiative provides a premium boutique product which focusses on the extraordinary diversity of the region.

We have so much to offer on top of our wonderful wine experiences and great to see Pinnacle tours incorporating these unique operators into their inventory.

The experiences are highly personalised and this new tour will provide fabulous alternatives for those travellers seeking more than just a wine tour”

Raise A Pint As Sceptre Tours Takes Travelers On The Ultimate Dublin Pub Tour

Ireland is synonymous with tipping pints in boisterous local pubs and Sceptre Tours has designed a seven-night vacation tour of Ireland in which participants will experience the fantastic pub life in Dublin — including learning to pour the perfect pint of Guinness — along with the picturesque scenery of the Irish countryside.

In Dublin’s Ultimate Pub Tour, the first half of the getaway will be spent in Dublin. Inclusions featured are a Literary Pub Tour which strikes the perfect balance between learning about the city’s rich literary history and experiencing the iconic pub scene. The tour begins at the Duke Pub off famous Grafton Street where an entertaining guide will take participants to all of the spots where James Joyce and James Larkin wrote their most famous works.

One of the most iconic spots to explore during this vacation is the iconic Temple Bar area, and while the actual Temple Bar is a great tourist spot to visit, there are dozens of different places to check out from authentic Irish pubs and dance clubs to intimate bars and more. Off Grafton Street is the traditional Irish pub, Kehoe’s, where travelers can grab a pint and admire the Victorian-style interior while chatting with the locals who make their way to this bar.

One of the highlights of the tour will be a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, a staple in the city of Dublin. Travelers will enjoy the interactive tour, learn how to pour the most perfect pint of Guinness, and will receive a certificate stating that they are an expert at the craft of pouring this iconic beer! Here they can also indulge in a Guinness at the Gravity Bar where they will have panoramic views of the city. Another highlight is a visit to the Jameson Distillery which is a beautiful storehouse where the brewing of this legendary whiskey takes place.

After time in Dublin — which is easily walkable by foot — travelers will pick up their rental car and take off to the countryside where the next three nights will be spent at an Irish Welcome Home of their choice. These 4- and 5-star Bed and Breakfasts are truly incredible and participants can select from 100 Bed and Breakfasts which have met the exacting criteria to be named an Irish Welcome Home. Travelers will be able to interact with their knowledgeable host who will be able to offer directions, travel tips, and a wonderful warm welcome with a little surprise upon arrival.

The 7-night Dublin’s Ultimate Pub Tour includes the following:

Transportation:
• Round-trip economy class airfare to Dublin
• Airport transfer to hotel in Dublin
• Manual shift economy car rental for 3-days (pick up in Dublin and drop off at Dublin Airport)

Accommodations
:
• 4-nights at the Maldron Hotel Cardiff Lane or at O’Callaghans Alexander Hotel in Dublin
• 3-nights at an Irish Welcome Home of Choice

Tours & Sightseeing:
• Old Jameson Distillery
• Guinness Storehouse
• Dublin Literary Pub Tour

Other Inclusions:
• Full Irish breakfast daily
• All local taxes
• Hotel service charges
• Carrier and government taxes/fees/facility charges on airfare are included
• Gratuities and meals (other than noted) are not included

Sceptre’s Top 5 Recommended Pubs in Dublin:
• L Mulligan Grocer
• The Stag’s Head
• The Long Hall
• The Black Sheep
• Kehoe’s

This vacation is priced from $1,632 from New York, $1,892 from Atlanta, $1,656 from Boston, $1,729 from Chicago, $2,024 from Los Angeles, $1,901 from San Francisco, and $1,965 from Washington, DC. All rates are per person, based on double occupancy for select travel dates in June of 2014. Other departure dates and origins are available at slightly higher rates. Prices are based on 7-day advance purchase and include round-trip economy class airfare including carrier and government-imposed taxes and fees including the September 11th Security Fee of $2.50 per enplanement originating at a U.S. airport. Fluctuations in exchange rates may affect some taxes or fees. Restrictions apply.