Sunday, 30 November 2014

Accor Announces 5-Star Sydney Airport Hotel

Australia's largest hotel operator, Accor, today announced that they will be part of a new mixed-use hotel, commercial and retail precinct to be developed in Mascot, near Sydney Airport.

Accor has signed a management agreement with Goodman to manage a 5-star hotel to be badged Pullman Sydney Airport as part of a new AUD$100 million development project that will encompass extensive office and retail facilities.

Accor Pacific Chief Operating Officer, Simon McGrath, said the project will be a key development for Sydney.

“The Sydney hotel market has been considerably constrained over the last two years with occupancies idling between 80-90 per cent, hence the urgency for new inventory to service the high corporate and leisure demand in the city. Pullman Sydney Airport will not only add 229 rooms to Sydney's bourgeoning tourism economy but it will be the first internationally branded 5-star hotel serving the international airport precinct.

“Airports are no longer considered transport hubs, they are transforming into complete entities where hotels, conference centres, retail and office spaces co-exist. Accor continues to lead as an airport hotel specialist and we are thrilled to partner with Goodman on this project which is a win for the economic growth of Sydney and our fourth airport announcement this year.”

Goodman's General Manager Australia, Jason Little, said: “We are excited to be partnering with Accor to bring a new 5-star hotel to the Sydney Airport precinct. The new mixed-use precinct provides the highest and best use for this prominent South Sydney site and complements the DA approved future development of two commercial office buildings, totalling 34,350 sqm, together with ground floor retail space.”

Pullman Sydney Airport will include 229 accommodation rooms and suites, a restaurant and bar, conference facilities and gymnasium. The hotel will offer an Executive Lounge - a hallmark of every Pullman hotel - adding a quiet and convenient space for guests to do business or relax.

Construction of the hotel development on O'Riordan Street, Mascot has commenced this November generating over 100 jobs during the build. The expected opening date for Pullman Sydney Airport is May 2016.

Once operational, Pullman Sydney Airport will join Australia's fastest growing 5-star hotel network which has recently expanded to 13 hotels and resorts across nine locations. Pullman has established itself as the largest network of upscale hotels in the Asia Pacific with more than 45 hotels across the region and counting.

World Travel Market Latin America to focus more on technology for 2015

The third edition of World Travel Market Latin America, which will take place at the same time as the 43rd Braztoa Commercial Meeting, 22-24 April 2015 at Expo Center Norte in São Paulo, will now devote a much larger area for the growing Travel Tech Zone at the event after great results in 2014.

Targeting technology companies that work with the tourism industry, the section on the exhibition floor will be expanded to meet the demand and showcase the new products that are available. Exhibitors already confirmed for next year’s event include TravelClick, QuadLabs Technologies, Mystifly, Illusions Online and Wooba.

WTM Latin America 2014 Exhibitor Sergio Rosarios, Regional Vice President, Latin America & Caribbean, TravelClick commented: “After the launch and success of the Travel Tech Zone at WTM Latin America last year, we are pleased to be back at the show in 2015. We expect the Travel Tech Zone will be bigger and better and are excited to continue educating Latin American hoteliers on how to increase their revenue.”

To further strengthen the Travel Tech Zone, a larger focus will be put on the travel technology seminars taking place over the three days, with well-known expert speakers lined up and a dedicated space for games, applications and live demonstrations which visitors and other exhibitors will be able to take advantage of.

New technologies will be discussed in the Innovation Zone where companies will present new products and platforms, explaining its operation and affordability. The aim is to educate participants on the importance of technology to the current tourism market.

The importance of travel technology is not only evident at WTM Latin America. World Travel Market which takes place in London has seen Travel Technology become the fastest growing section on the exhibition floor over the past few years, so much so that in 2013 the Travel Tech Show at WTM was launched. It became its own dedicated event and currently holds the position as the largest dedicated travel technology event in the UK.

World Travel Market Latin America remains strong in its bid to be a business generator for exhibitors, buyers and industry professionals. This year more than $341 million was transacted in contracts signed during and after the event. With further growth predicted for 2015.

Travel Tech exhibitor Gaurav Chiripal, CEO at QuadLabs Technologies said: “QuadLabs is happy to be associated with WTM Latin America since its inception. We find it a perfect platform to reach our target market. A great place to interact with the industry leaders and explore new opportunities.”

12th Edition Of The China Products Exhibition -India’s Unique Multi-Sector B2B Trade Show

On the back of 11 successful exhibitions, the 12th edition of “China Products Exhibition” will take place from 18th – 20th December, 2014 at Hall V, the Bombay Convention and Exhibition Centre, Goregaon(East), Mumbai, India.

One of the most renowned multi-sector B2B trade show in India -the China Products Exhibition 2014 -will showcase products spanning more than 20 industries and verticals from Sichuan, Ningbo, Xiamen, Wuhan, Dalian, Gansu and Guangdong provinces of China. Products on exhibit will range from Consumer Electronics, Home Appliances, Household products, Furniture and fixtures, LED and Lighting products to Fashion Jewellery, Gifts and Accessories, Apparel and Textiles to Machine Tools, Industrial goods, Building material and equipment, etc.

More than 10,000-12,000 trade buyers from across India will visit this 3 day event, taking advantage of viewing the wide range of quality Chinese products from various sectors at one central location.

To enhance business opportunities, there will be special networking reception pavilions, one-to-one business matching for buyers and industry seminars, all aimed at deriving maximum benefit in minimum time.

The Exhibition assists Indian businesses in meeting their future business partners from China, Hong Kong and Macao to help produce high quality products at lower manufacturing expense and logistics costs.

This is a platform which will introduce contemporary technology and innovative products to Indian entrepreneurs and assist them in bringing the right products for the large domestic markets.

The China Products (Mumbai, India) Exhibition has been endorsed and supported by leading trade bodies in India including the Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC), All India Association of Industries (AIAI), India-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCCI) and SME Chamber of India.

The organizers of the show are China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), Guangdong Provincial Committee, Sub-councils of Commercial Industry, Ningbo, Hangzhou, Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Co operation of Guangdong Province and Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute. The show is managed by Worldex India Exhibition & Promotion Pvt. Ltd.

Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts Set to Thrill This Season

Freshlyground
What can be better than easing out of the weekend and into a new week than with music that satisfies the most diverse of tastes? Where the venue is so spectacularly beautiful that Sunday takes on a whole new ambience? Where friends and family gather their picnic baskets and blankets to enjoy the floral heritage and the mountain as the music rolls over them?

The Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts offer all this and more and fromSunday 23 November through to Sunday 5 April, 2015 with a magnificent line –up offering something for every taste. The tradition of top local and international artists appearing on this stage continues in this botanical garden that highlights the Western Cape's rich floral heritage and at the same time showcases world-class entertainment in an environment second to none.

The 2014/2015 season of Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts boasts one of the best line-ups ever and celebrates 23 years of outstanding concerts. Such is the prestige of appearing on this stage that many of the artists cite this as the highlight of their careers. Newcomers include The Soil, Barbara Hendricks and the SA National Youth Orchestra and a special concert featuring the internationally acclaimed UK performer, Passenger, on February 15.

Back by popular demand are: Oliver Mtukudzi, Prime Circle, Johnny Clegg, Mi Casa, The Parlotones, Matthew Mole, Jimmy Nevis, Freshlyground, Goldfish, Mi Casa, and Jeremy Loops.

Beatenberg and Gangs of Ballet share the stage as do Al Bairre and Shortstraw. Making a welcome return are Just Jinjer andthe energising Hot Water - all bound to please.

After a few years absence the 7 December concert sees ever popular band Just Jinjer return to the stage to wow the audience. One of the biggest rock band exports in South African history, they have sold more than a quarter of a million albums to date.

A sell out success last year, Zimbabwean sensation Oliver Mtukudzi is back on 14 December to perform his special elements of different music traditions. A seasoned artist,'Tuku', as he is known by his fans, is set to thrill.

Redefining his life purpose and his brand as 'Songoma' Hot Water creator, Donovan Copley will delight audiences with the energy and brilliance of his unmistakably South African music on December 28. The best opportunity to relax after Christmas festivities and wind down.

What better way to bring the New Year in than with Mango Groove and Arno Carstens!

These South African favourites bring their own special recipe for a New Year's Eve concert on December 31 bringing in 2015 with a bang! With South African pop at its best, this feel good concert will have people on their feet and screaming for more.

It's 2015 and Prime Circle opens the year on January 4. After 13 years of making waves as South Africa's most successful rock act, the five-piece is back with 'Let the Night In', a new studio album infused with fresh creative energy and a new edge to the distinctive Prime Circle sound.

Kirstenbosch welcomes back The Parlotoneson 11 January. Over the past 11 years The Parlotones have become South Africa's most accomplished rock band of all time. Here from their base in Los Angeles this concert will definitely be a sell -out.

18 Jan Tailor and Matthew Mole offer their unique styles to the audience and are popular performers at the garden. Jimmy Nevis is set for another successful performance on January 25. This young alternative pop singer/ songwriter and producer with his quirky lyrics, acoustic tones and catchy melodies has captured fans internationally.

Moving into February and music fans can enjoy the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra on February 1. Celebrating 100 years they are the most active orchestra in the country. Extremely versatile, performing symphony concerts at the highest level with internationally acclaimed conductors and soloists and exceptional South African artists, the CPO fills the garden every year.

Make a date for February 8 as Freshlyground packs the concert venue! A household name both here and internationally the audience will be singing along with their hit songs.

Make Valentine's Day extend to the 15 February and book to see Passenger, the UK sensation. This special concert features one- man band Mike Rosenberg whose melancholy folk song "Let Her Go" sold 1 million copies in October 2013. A Journey that began in 2003, Passenger has established itself firmly and Rosenberg's gravely singer-songwriter voice delivers a lyrical upbeat style while singing about social issues that resonate with his audience. (please note these concert tickets are R365 with no discounts).

Heading through the month, the 7th instalment of the Cape Town Folk n Acoustic Music Festival takes the stage on February 22 with an incredible line-up of South African folk and acoustic artists including Ross Learmonth, Ard Matthews, Jesse Clegg and Guy Buttery; this concert starts at 17h00.

March 1 and kick off the month with Goldfish who have just returned from another residency in Ibiza as well as many sold-out European and American dates. Mi Casa on March 8 will be a highlight of the month and their second award winning album “Su Casa” has received much critical acclaim.

Indie rules on March 15 when Shortstraw make waves on the stage and get the audience rocking! Indie pop band Al Bairre join them and, as a newcomer to the garden, their combination of cello, violin, guitars, keys, ukelele and drums will add to the rhythm of the afternoon.

Heading into the end of the month on the 22 March enjoy Beatenberg with their homage to our country's musical heritage, followed by Gangs of Ballet, a five times SAMA nominated, MTV MAMA Award winning band with captivatingly fresh melodies. A combination of styles that audiences will love.

End the month on a high note with iconic Johnny Clegg on March29. No stranger to Kirstenbosch his music packs them in every year and he is celebrated as the energetic, passionate human being who has become one of South Africa's greatest musical exports.

Hot Water
The season closes with ever popular Jeremy Loops on April 5 - the perfect way to enjoy an Easter Sunday on the lawns. This enormously popular performer has spent most of 2014 touring and his debut album “Trading Change” went to number 1 on the iTunes charts.

Ensure you don't miss a Sunday concert by booking early throughwww.webtickets.co.za

Visit the Kirstenbosch Summer Concert Facebook and Twitter pages regularly to keep up to date with who is performing when, exciting competitions and all the latest news.

Details:

The season runs from 23 November 2014 to 5 April 2015. The Summer Sunset Concerts take place at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town on Sundays:
Gates open 16h00
Concerts start 17h30 and end at 19h00
Ticket prices range between R100 and R160 for adults. Passenger ticket prices are R365.
The special Youth Ticket (6-21 yrs) will also be retained (ranging from R75 to R140)

For further information and ticket prices: call 021 799 8783 or www.sanbi.org.za
Book tickets on www.webtickets.co.za
Box office and telephone ticket sales (021 761 2866) start from the Tuesday preceding each concert if there are still tickets available.

Follow the music: twitter: @KirstenboschNBG #KBRocks
Facebook: Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Visitors Hooked on Fraser Coast, the Home of Australian Fishing

The Fraser Coast is hoping to lure thousands of visiting fishing enthusiasts this summer as the region's reputation as a world class angling destination catches on.

General Manager of Fraser Coast Opportunities David Spear said the Fraser Coast fishing experience was one of a kind.

“The Fraser Coast is fast becoming a must-visit destination for fishing enthusiasts. There is nowhere else in Australia where anglers can catch all three of Australia's iconic sports fish species – bass, bream and barramundi – in one place,'' Mr Spear said.

Appointed the home of the Australian Fishing Championships for the next three years, the destination is protected from prevailing winds by the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, creating ideal fishing conditions.

“Hervey Bay and the Great Sandy Strait form a meeting place for warm northern and cooler southern ocean currents, bringing with them twice as many species that can be found elsewhere,'' Mr Spear said

“The Great Sandy Strait provides one of Australia's largest seagrass beds to act as a nursery for many larger fish species and a feeding ground for prawns and fish.

“No wonder anglers from around Australia and the world are getting hooked on Fraser Coast fishing and this summer is shaping up as one of our best seasons yet,'' he said.

Here's a sample of some of the great summer fishing packages visitors to the Fraser Coast can hook into:
  • Fraser Guided Fishing provides personalised, professional guided sports fishing trips throughout the fishers' playground of the Fraser Coast. Guests have access to a huge variety of fish species and locations in the hands of experienced local guides on a fast, comfortable sports fishing focussed vessel. Half day guided charters start from $500 for four people with full day tours available from $650, including gear, snacks and water.
  • Enjoy a memorable day on the water being professionally guided around Hervey Bay's rich fishing grounds with Hervey Bay Fly and Sportsfishing. Packages include drinks, morning tea, snacks and lunch plus all the required gear such as tackle, rods, reels, lines, lures and flies. There are great deals on half day trips and full day outings.

For bookings or further information visithttp://www.visitfrasercoast.com/summer/deals.

The 5 best Christmas markets in Norway

1. Røros – the fairy tale town where you can feed reindeers

This fairytale Christmas experience starts in a horse drawn carriage from the station. From here you are taken into the old UNESCO world heritage town, where small wooden houses and narrow streets set the frame for one of Norway’s most idyllic Christmas markets. Each year people pour into the small mountain town of Røros for the world renowned Røros butter (served at Copenhagen’s Noma), local beer and reindeer meat. While you are there, do pop by an indigenous Sami family to feed a live Santa’s reindeer.
The market takes place 5-7 December.

2. Trondheim – the Viking capital of Norway

Combine Røros with a trip to Trondheim, the oldest capital in Norway. The city oozes of history, and the Christmas Market is suitably placed in front of the Nidaros Cathedral – the place where Olaf the Holy, whom christened Norway, is said to be buried, and marks the end of one of the main pilgrimage routes in the world.
The market takes place 12-21 December, and boasts of local cheeses, beer and handicraft.

3. Oslo – Christmas spirit comes to the capital

At the traditional Christmas Fair at the Norwegian Folk Museum, you get to experience Christmas traditions from all of the country in one place. With 100 old-fashioned wooden stalls with homemade crafts and foods, as well as horse drawn sledges and Santa’s workshop, this is the place that truly bring Christmas to the capital. Go back in time, and see how Norwegians have celebrated the time through the years in small decorated houses. This is the place that greatly inspired Disney’s Frozen, with stave churches, folk dancers, and old houses – each house decorated according according to specific time epoch.
The market is open 6-7 as well as 13-14 December. 

4. Geilo – newcomer this year

Combine a skiing get-away with the new Christmas market in Geilo, in the middle of the mountainous area in the middle of Norway. The charming market focuses on local food and art, and you’ll see the direct inspiration from the steep mountains and forests – an area that has inspired many folk tales including trolls and other mythical figures.
Opens 22 November, and is open every weekend up till Sunday 22 December.

5. Bergen – The biggest Gingerbread town in the world

Experience the fjord city in a very different way – each Christmas you can experience a miniature Bergen made from gingerbread. School children and nursery school children contribute to the tradition each year, making City Hall, ships, cars and small houses. Even the Hanseatic Wharf can be spotted by a trained eye.

Dubai Tourism to open a regional office to drive growth in visitors from Asia Pacific

With the aim of driving growth in visitor numbers from countries within the Asia Pacific, Dubai’s Corporation of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM) today announced the establishment of a new hub office to service the region. The Asia Pacific Regional Office will oversee the work of DCTCM’s existent offices in the Far East, Japan, Australia and New Zealand to maximise the opportunity to increase visitor numbers from Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.

Based in Sydney, Australia, the Asia Pacific Regional Office will be a DCTCM-owned office led by Julie King, with the responsibilities added to her current remit as Director of DCTCM’s Australia and New Zealand representative office.

To further strengthen the focus on the region, Shahab Al Shayan has been appointed as Regional Manager, Asia Pacific and will be based in DCTCM’s Head Office in Dubai.

The move is part of the strategy to deliver Dubai’s Tourism Vision 2020, which includes the headline target of welcoming 20 million visitors per year by the end of the decade, and follows recent strengthening of resources in the Australia and New Zealand office, in recognition of the visitor growth potential of the region.

Issam AbdulRahim Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “The Asia Pacific is of high strategic importance to us, with significant potential for growth across the whole region. The emerging economic power of the Asia Pacific countries is resulting in increased outward bound tourism and Dubai’s broad destination offering meets the varying demands of these tourists. With continual enhancements being made to our offering across hotels, events, attractions and services, the establishment of the regional office will result in a coordinated approach to communicating the fact that Dubai provides a compelling destination experience for both the individual and business travellers. With the connectivity afforded by Emirates, Qantas and other airlines that fly between the Asia Pacific countries and Dubai, our city is one that should be the next destination on the region’s tourist’s lists.”

Dubai’s hotels hosted more than 700,000 hotel guests from the Asia Pacific region in 2013 – an increase of 15 per cent from the previous year – and statistics for the first half of 2014 showed further growth. Emirates Airline operates 294 flights per week between the region and Dubai with numerous other airlines adding further options.

In the region DCTCM currently has representative offices in Hong Kong (servicing the Far East), Japan, and Australia (servicing Australia and New Zealand). The new regional office will oversee the work of these offices

SYDNEY TO HOST 2015 CENTENARY OF ANZAC AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL BAND CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 2015 Centenary of ANZAC Australian National Band Championships will be held in Sydney with the event expected to attract more than 5,000 musicians.

The Australian National Band Championships is an annual four day competition of band and soloist performances that is expected to attract more than 100 community and school brass and concert bands from Australia and abroad.

In 2015 the Championships will recognise the Centenary of Anzac and will feature a Parade of Bands and Commemoration Service that will take place with the support of the Returned Services League (RSL). Close to 50 community bands are expected to participate in the free, public Parade which will be followed by a Commemoration Service and Wreath Laying Ceremony at the ANZAC Memorial, to honour those who have served in the Australian Defence Force.

In tribute of this special occasion, the Band Association of NSW (BANSW) has commissioned eight new major compositions by Australian composers based on the theme of ‘a commemoration and celebration of the Spirit of Anzac’ which will premiere during the Championships.

The 2015 Centenary of ANZAC Australian National Band Championships will be held at the Seymour Centre from Friday 3 April to Monday 6 April, 2015.

Friday, 28 November 2014

SA Tourism's Magnificent Seven

Seven of South Australia's magnificent tourism experiences have been inducted into the State's Tourism Hall of Fame at the 2014 South Australian Tourism Awards, winning their category three years in a row:
  • Adventure Bay Charters – best Major Tourist Attraction
  • Hahndorf Farm Barn – best Tourist Attraction
  • Cellar Door Wine Festival – best Festival & Event
  • West Terrace Cemetery – best Heritage & Cultural Tourism Attraction
  • Barossa Visitor Centre – best Visitor Information & Services
  • Pindarie Cellar Door – best Tourism Winery
  • Rawnsley Park Station Eco-Villas – best Unique Accommodation

A black tie event attended by the who's who of the State's tourism industry saw30 awards presented to businesses and individuals judged to be the most outstanding in their category.

A further 71 entrants who achieved a high standard in their category were recognised with a gold, silver or bronze medal.

Calypso Star Charter's Ron Forster was also honoured for his involvement in tourism, receiving the award for an Outstanding Contribution by an Individual. Ron is a successful entrepreneur who has spent the last three decades creating tourism ventures that have been instrumental in promoting the Eyre Peninsula, and in particular Port Lincoln.

University of SA student, Joanna Chudy was chosen as SA Tourism Student of the Year, and will travel to Christchurch as part of the SKAL International Adelaide Student Exchange Program.

Announced for the first time at the South Australian Tourism Awards, Pawan Kumar was named the South Australian Taxi Driver of the Year - an Award that encourages the highest levels of service and customer satisfaction.

South Australian Tourism Industry Council Chief Executive Ward Tilbrook congratulated all winners and the seven inductees to the Hall of Fame.

“South Australia is home to some of the world's best tourism experiences and it is important to celebrate excellence in an industry that is so significant to the South Australian economy,” Mr Tilbrook says.

“As the State's peak tourism body, the South Australian Tourism Industry Council continually strives to raise the standards of the industry, present its members as high quality to build consumer confidence and increase participation in the world-class experiences on offer.

“The South Australian Tourism Awards are the pinnacle of excellence within the tourism industry, rewarding innovation and fostering better business practices by setting benchmarks for all tourism operators to aspire to.

“The Awards' standards are exceptionally high and visitors can book one of these award-winning experiences with confidence when planning their next holiday.”

The awards are judged in accordance with a strict set of rules and criteria, and winners will represent the State at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awardswhen Adelaide hosts the prestigious national event in April 2015.

For more information on each winner: http://satic.com.au/index.php/awards/winners/

Best festive Christmas Markets in Munich

Munich’s Christmas Market, also known as Christkindlmarkt, takes place between the first advent and Christmas Eve. The most famous one is the Christmas market at the Marienplatz that is located in the heart of the city. The origins of Christmas Market dates back to the ‘Nicholas Markets’ of 14th century.

Here one can buy all kinds of traditional Bavarian and varieties of Christmas gifts, such as crib figurines, toys, marionettes, woodcarvings, bee wax candles and notably some exquisite glass wares from the Bavarian Forest. The aromas of hit chestnuts, mulled wine, grilled sausages and other tasty snacks, further enhance the ambience of a ‘typical Christmas Market’.

Surprise packages:

During Christmas, music lovers can enjoy the festive season celebration with a special alpine Christmas Market concert, at Munich’s town hall. Gossamer wings and shimmering gowns lie ready in magnificent surroundings, waiting to transform young visitors into angels.

The equally popular Kripplermarkt, one of the largest in Germany that specializes in cribs and other nativity accessories, is a short walk away on Neuhauser Strasse. The historical event has been part of Munich‘s traditional Christmas Markets since the middle of the 18th century.

Special attractions:

More than a Christmas Market and very different is the Tollwood Christmas Market, Munich´s fantastic ethnic festival. On the Theresienwiese, an open space in the Munich borough of Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstad, visitors can find a spectacle of tents offering an exciting mix of international musicians and drama groups, performances, live music, art and culture as well as popular Christmas Market ideas with handicrafts and cuisine from around the world.

In all, there are a further 20 Christmas Markets located throughout the city of Munich, including a Medieval Christmas Market with gospel singing at the Wittelsbacher Platz, a gay pink Christmas Market (Stephansplatz) and if you happen to forget anything before leaving for home there is even a Christmas Market with ice skating facilities at Munich’s International Airport.

Record Air Traffic for Newcastle Airport in Port Stephens

Newcastle Airport in Port Stephens has recorded its busiest-ever day on October 24, 2014 with an unprecedented 4598 passengers using the soon-to-be-doubled terminal, and sixth busiest month ever with 107,312 travellers landing or taking off in total last month.

Newcastle Airport – the second busiest airport in NSW and the 12th busiest in Australia, with 170 domestic flights a week and 1.2 million passengers a year – is located in the Port Stephens council region, just 25 minutes from the Port Stephens holiday centre of Nelson Bay, providing a strategic gateway for interstate and overseas visitors. A 95-room hotel, worth $8 million, is currently being built next to the airport and will be open in 2015.

Newcastle Airport’s Manager for Aviation Business Development, David Nye, said the October 24 record was 44 per cent above the normal daily average of 3200 passengers.

“A combination of several major conferences in Port Stephens, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, major sporting events around Australia, the school holidays and the October long weekend led to Newcastle Airport’s sixth busiest month ever in October, confirming the gateway is meeting strong demand for travel to our region and underlining locals’ strong desire to travel,” Mr Nye said.
He said a $14.5 million expansion of Newcastle Airport, which will see the terminal area doubled, was slated for completion in late-2015, paving the way for possible international services to the airport in the near future. “The continued growth of passenger numbers into Newcastle Airport, as evidenced by our records last month, show the future potential for the facility is extremely bright and that the NSW Government’s $11.5 million investment in the terminal expansion is money well spent,” Mr Nye said.

Virgin Australia, Jetstar, QantasLink and Regional Express offer direct flights between Newcastle and Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, the Gold Coast, Ballina and Taree. Both Virgin Australia and Jetstar recently began co-listing Newcastle Airport as ‘Newcastle-Port Stephens’ on their websites and booking engines in recognition of Port Stephens’ growing appeal as a destination for leisure and corporate travellers.

Destination Port Stephens CEO, Janelle Gardner said Newcastle Airport was crucial to Port Stephens’ expanding $400 million-a-year visitor economy and the region’s drive to attract more visitors from interstate and overseas.

“Our long-term campaign to lure more domestic and international conference delegates and holidaymakers to our region via Newcastle Airport is clearly paying dividends,” Ms Gardner said. “Port Stephens offers stunning coastal scenery, adventure activities, gourmet food and wine and first-rate accommodation and conference facilities and the proximity of Newcastle Airport to all this makes us an increasingly compelling destination.”

Hong Kong Pulse 3D Light Show Heightens Festive Ambience

Hong Kong plays host to a fascinating array of exciting events throughout the year. The city is preparing even more for visitors in the coming months to further enhance their in-town experience. They can enjoy some spectacular moments at the harbour front in the form of a 3D light show with exciting audiovisual effects. The Hong Kong Pulse 3D Light Show demonstrates the unique glamour, vibrancy and festive ambience of Asia’s World City.

The Hong Kong Pulse 3D Light Show shall be organised during the Hong Kong WinterFest and the Chinese New Year Celebrations. The stories and visuals for the two time periods are different to suit the theme of each event. The opening show took place at the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival in October, this year.

Hong Kong Pulse 3D Light Show
Date
17 to 29 December 2014
(covering the Hong Kong WinterFest)
14 February to 5 March 2015, except 19 February, i.e. the first day of Chinese New Year
(covering the Hong Kong Chinese New Year Celebrations)

Time
Four shows each night, at 8:30pm, 9:00pm, 9:30pm, and 10:00pm. Each show lasts about 15 minutes.

Vantage points
Open Piazza, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui

Creative Team
Australia-based Spinifex Group. Its Head of Creative, Mr Richard Lindsay, has over 20 years’ experience in the design industry and has been involved in numerous international creative media shows, including the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, in which he collaborated with famed Chinese film director Zhang Yimou; the 2010 Shanghai World Expo; the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics; and the 2013 edition of the Sydney Opera House light show in “Vivid Sydney”.

Remarks
The show will feature a theme song, which will be played during the show at the venue and on a number of radio channels, namely FM103.4 MHz, FM106.8 MHz, and FM107.9 MHz.

CHUCK CLOSE EXHIBITION OPENS AT MCA

An exhibition of portraits from one of America’s best-loved visual artists, Chuck Close, has opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) as part of the Sydney International Art Series.

Chuck Close: Prints, Process and Collaboration, is the largest exhibition of Close’s work ever presented in the southern hemisphere and is exclusive to Sydney.

Close is an artist noted for his highly inventive paintings of the human face, and his large-scale portraits. His work as a printmaker and photographer is also renowned, and has been the subject of more than 200 solo exhibitions in more than 20 countries. He is also known for his unique portraits of artists, celebrities and other well-known public figures including Brad Pitt, Kate Moss, Lou Reed and President Obama.

Chuck Close: Prints, Process and Collaboration is one of two exhibitions supported by Destination NSW as part of the Sydney International Art Series, with Pop to popism currently presented at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

More information on Chuck Close and the Sydney International Art Series can be found at Sydney.com.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Legendary Pacific Coast Delivers Great Holiday Options from Sydney to Brisbane

If you are looking for an insider's guide on how to best plan and enjoy a holiday throughout the coast and hinterland of Australia's third most popular domestic holiday destination then look no further than the new The Legendary Pacific Coast website. http://www.pacificcoast.com.au/

The Legendary Pacific Coast delivers expert advice on the leading holiday destinations from the Central Coast to the Southern Gold Coast and all holiday hotspots in between on this 930 km journey from Sydney to Brisbane.

“On November 18 we officially launch our new mobile responsive website across all tablets and mobile phones replacing our four year old website and iPhone app,” said Marketing Manager, Kim MacDonald.

“We've built the new website listening to the needs of our consumers and travel industry partners incorporating many new features to more easily access information on an endless range of holiday experiences along Australia's top touring drive.

Some great new features include quick access to key destinations along the route with information on where to stay, food and wine, see and do, local events, towns around the destination, a “near me now” option, and itineraries and touring drives in each destination plus the weather.

We have over 45 blogs on the site written by some of Australia's leading travel writers who have travelled the drive as part of our #mylegendarydrive social media campaign and these blogs provide tips and insights across all the destinations along Australia's top touring drive.

The Google maps used to locate products are comprehensive and easily manoeuvrable across all platforms so it's easier to divert from the main roads and see where the journey takes you. And, we are now more socially interactive. All website visitors can easily follow us across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus and share information from the website across their social media platforms.

“All in all we have taken our website to the next and latest level so our consumers can enjoy ease of access to expert information, enter a world of discovery and enjoy a great holiday on The Legendary Pacific Coast,” said Kim.

Qantas and China Eastern Deepen Ties With Joint Venture

Qantas and China Eastern today announced a new joint venture, marking the start of a deeper level of commercial cooperation on flights between Australia and China.

The airlines will now submit an application for authorisation to Australian and Chinese regulators. Subject to regulatory approval, it is anticipated that the joint agreement will commence in mid-2015.

The five year agreement was signed today by Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce and China Eastern Chairman Liu Shaoyong at Parliament House, in a ceremony attended by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping.

Under the agreement, the airlines will deliver substantial benefits for customers and support the growing trade, tourism and corporate travel links between Australia and China. It is designed to complement the Qantas-Emirates partnership for Europe, Middle East and North Africa and the Qantas-American Airlines partnership for the US.

Through the new partnership, the airlines hope to ultimately open up new routes between Australia and mainland China, such as between Brisbane and Perth to Shanghai.

A key benefit of the agreement will be the co-location of both carriers' operations in Terminal 1 at Shanghai International Airport, which will cut transit times by about an hour, open up a better range of onward connections and provide more choice for customers.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the airline was pleased to build on its existing codeshare relationship with China Eastern, which has been so successful with Qantas customers since 2008.

“We're looking forward to working more closely with China Eastern to bring together our complementary networks and enhance the options for the increasing number of Qantas customers travelling to Shanghai and beyond,” said Mr Joyce.

“Coordination means the opportunity to improve schedules and connection times, and to deliver improved products such as a joint lounge and streamlined check-in facilities in Shanghai. It will be a win for our customers and, by making it easier for Chinese travellers to visit Australia, a win for trade and tourism”.

In welcoming the agreement, China Eastern Chairman Liu Shaoyong said “Australia is one of the most important tourist destinations and trade markets for China, and Qantas is the key partner for China Eastern in Australia.”

“It's important for us to strengthen the cooperation with Qantas to provide better, more convenient travel products for passengers between the two countries,” said Chairman Liu.

Air services between Australia and China have been identified as critical to the ongoing development of strong economic ties between the two countries. China is now Australia's largest two-way trading partner in goods and services, its largest goods export destination and its largest source of merchandise imports. China is Australia's most valuable inbound tourism market – projected to contribute up to $9 billion annually to the Australian economy by 2020.

East Kimberley Region of WA Tops the State for the Well-Travelled

The East Kimberley region of WA has long offered some of Australia's most exceptional experience based holidays to some of the world's most discerning travellers, and recent wins at the WA Tourism Awards proved that Kununurra and the East Kimberley is still Australia's bucket-list destination for the well-travelled.

5 East Kimberley travel and tourism organisations took home awards at the 2014 Perth Airport WA Tourism Awards held at Crown Perth:
  • Freshwater East Kimberley Apartments: Gold - Deluxe Accommodation.
  • The Berkeley River Lodge a SLH property: Gold - Unique Accommodation.
  • Faraway Bay: Silver - Unique Accommodation.
  • Triple J Tours Ord River cruises: Silver - Tour and/or Transport Operator.
  • The Ord Valley Muster: Gold - Festivals and Events.
  • Jeff Hayley (Triple J Tours): Sir David Brand Medal.

Michael McConachy, director of Freshwater East Kimberley Apartments in Kununurra said that winning the Deluxe Accommodation category for Western Australia proved that the East Kimberley region has never been in a better position to cater to the discerning traveller. “Our business offers a variety of accommodation options that cater to families, couples, groups and more. It's fantastic to know that visitors to our region can enjoy iconic landmarks like the world heritage listed Bungle Bungle range by day and WA's finest deluxe accommodation by night.”

The East Kimberley covers an area of 236,246 square kilometres of breathtaking scenery, towering escarpments, waterfalls, a huge inland lake and the majestic Kimberley coast. It's a region rich in indigenous culture, wildlife and adventure.

Nestled 800kms south west of Darwin, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Airnorth operate flights daily to Kununurra.

For more information on the award winning operators and events in the East Kimberley visit:
www.freshwaterapartments.net.au
www.theberkeleyriver.com.au
www.farawaybay.com.au
www.triplejtours.com.au
www.ordvalleymuster.com.au

Winter Travel to Korea offers Shopping Delights at Korea Grand Sale 2015

Korea in winter is the perfect destination to experience a white Christmas and to enjoy fun in the snow and it is also the best time of year for winter sale bargains. Korea's biggest shopping festival, The Korea Grand Sale 2015 runs from 1st December to 22nd February, 2015 and offers huge discounts on shopping, dining, entertainment, hotels and more.

During the Korea Grand Sale huge discounts are offered at many stores as well as hotels, restaurant and entertainment benefits. The 84 day shopping festival offers tourists a great opportunity to find the best bargains around the city of Seoul. The sale features both traditional and modern 'K-Style' cultures, with the participation of the major brands preferred by tourists.

There will be special theme weeks offering additional discounts and free gift events. From 9-23 January discounts of up to 50% are available to see popular theatre performances in Seoul. Some of the very popular shows with tourists like Nanta and Jump are offering 20% discount. From 24 January to 7 February, 2015 you can buy one get one free entry to theme parks etc. and from 8 -22 February there will be free gifts offered at department stores, shopping malls and fashion outlets.

Hotels in Seoul are offering good deals if you book two nights at certain hotels you can get one free night and at other hotels if you stay 3 nights you get one extra night free. Hotels in the major tourist destinations of Seoul, Jeju, Busan and Gyeongju are all offering similar deals if you are planning to see more than Seoul on your visit to the country.

To get your free Korea Grand Sale 2015 coupon booklet request by email from Korea Tourism Organization Sydney office Email: visitkorea@knto.org.au

or download and print out coupons from the Korea Grand Sale 2015 website: www.koreagrandsale.co.kr

or use your smart phone to visit the website: www.koreagrandsale.co.kr and click the coupon tab.

Why WTM Africa is the event to attend in April 2015?

Key South African tourism industry members and top media in Johannesburg and Cape Town were invited to share in World Travel Market (WTM) Africa’s excitement as they spilled the beans on WTM Africa 2015. The Premier Showcase Events were held in Johannesburg at the Southern Sun, Montecasino on 11 November 2014 and in Cape Town at The Fire & Ice Hotel on 13 November 2014.

WTM Africa is the leading B2B tourism event in Africa and will be taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) from 15 – 17 April 2015. It has already attracted exhibitors from all over Africa and beyond, and is the only tradeshow of its kind on the African continent to focus on inbound and outbound travel. WTM Africa is pleased to announce that The City of Cape Town will continue to be the event’s Host City Partner next year.

In 2015 exhibitors, visitors, international buyers and the media can look forward to a diverse array of opportunities aimed at promoting inbound and outbound tourism in Africa through an exciting 3 day event programme which includes tactical networking sessions specifically designed to cater for the WTM Buyers’ Club, the Hosted Buyers Programme as well as the world-renowned WTM Africa exhibition. Not yet spilling the beans on the ever popular WTM Welcome party, all invited attendees can look forward to an evening of superior entertainment, valuable networking and plenty of memorable moments.

WTM Africa is enthusiastic to announce its strategic alliance with the International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations and the WTM Vision Conference, which will both run alongside WTM Africa 2015. International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations will bring together travel companies, organisations and individuals interested in mainstreaming sustainable practices in the travel industry. The WTM Vision Conference outlines the latest trends in travel and tourism, offering attendees the ultimate learning experience and unrivalled networking opportunities.

Visitors to the WTM Africa Premier Showcase Events were also given the opportunity to hear Executive Director of Tourism, Events and Economic Development for the City of Cape Town, Anton Groenewald, discuss the city’s tourism forecast for the next 3 years as well as the importance of hosting an event such as WTM Africa in Cape Town.

R1.8 Billion has been allocated to Cape Town Tourism over a period of 156 weeks with the intention of utilising this budget to help attract 1.9 million visitors to Cape Town between 2015 and 2018 through city developments such as the expansion of both the Cape Town International Airport and Cape Town International Convention Centre as well as the launch of the Museum of Contemporary Art at the V&A Waterfront.

Events such as WTM Africa are critical to the success of the city’s growth in tourism. Anton Groenewald says: “Without this participation it would be fair to say that achieving this visitor target growth of 1.9m would be virtually impossible. The relationship with Thebe Reed Exhibitions and WTM Africa is critical to the city in helping to extend our positioning and to engage the market directly. This has been a deliberate strategy on the part of the city.”

“WTM Africa, in partnership with The City of Cape Town, is looking forward to making 2015’s event a great success, showcasing Africa as a prominent and promising continent to do business with,” concluded Sugen Pillay, Commercial Director at Thebe Reed Exhibitions.

World’s largest roller coaster restaurant opens in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi-based food and beverage concept development and investment company, The Roller Coaster Restaurant LLC, part of Group JWA, has opened its first UAE outlet with the launch of ROGO’S, a roller coaster inspired casual dining venue located in the capital’s latest retail hotspot, Yas Mall.

A one-of-a-kind dining concept with unique visual appeal both on and off the plate, the focal point of the 14,000-square foot restaurant is the network of 30 individual roller coaster tracks that loop, spiral and spin in and around diners to deliver an exciting menu of international comfort food directly to each table.

“The UAE is globally acknowledged as a groundbreaking destination for world firsts and with the world’s fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rossa, part of the neighbouring Ferrari World experience, ROGO’S offers a spectacular culinary experience for fun-loving diners looking for a new and exciting dining adventure,” said Jessica Wadih Al-Absi, Chairman & CEO, Group JWA.

“Each table has its own individually designed roller coaster track and a unique silent delivery system that thrills diners as they get to watch their food make a gravity-defying 360-degree journey to their table. Our state-of-the-art technology makes dining fun as it transports both cold and hot food and drinks along the multi-spiral, double loop and tornado tracks,” she added.

As well as its hi-tech high-flying food delivery system, the 378-seat restaurant provides guests with a fully integrated ordering system in the form of individual handheld tablets that allow them to order from the carefully crafted menu of delicious specialties.

The extensive menu covers all the culinary bases with dishes from the Americas to Europe and Asia. Signature dishes range from an Asparagus and Sweet Pea Risotto, topped with a Crispy Poached Egg and Hollandaise Sauce, to the DIY ROGO’S Tornado Burger, which offers a choice of 13 different toppings and a multitude of combinations. Those with a sweet tooth can enjoy the Upside-Down New York style Warm-Baked Cheesecake or the Sticky Date Pudding with Salted Caramel Ice Cream.

“Another unique element to the ROGO’S experience is the way our food is served. Each dish is presented in individual pots, making it a real journey of discovery from start to finish, and one that we know will resonate with children and fun-loving adults alike; because who doesn’t enjoy eating straight out of the pot?” noted Al-Absi.

British executive chef Paul Owens heads up the 34-person culinary team and has developed the menu to reflect dishes and flavours from across the globe using the freshest, highest quality ingredients and innovative combinations.

The Yas Mall location is the brand flagship and the first in what Al-Absi confirms will be a series of ROGO’S restaurants in both the UAE and the rest of the region.

“The global trend today is moving towards the development of eating and dining experiences that are fun and memorable; both our concept and our menu reflect this whilst, at the same time, consistently delivering on our commitment to quality, freshness and creativity,” she noted.

Chinese travelers voted Qantas cabin crew as the best of the lot

Chinese travellers have voted Qantas as having the “Best Cabin Crew” in the 2014 iDEALShanghai Awards. Qantas Country Manager China, Andrew Hogg, in Shanghai to accept the award, said the awards – judged by more than 100,000 people in Shanghai across all categories, and evaluated by a jury of reporters, columnists and lifestyle writers – confirmed that Qantas customers were experiencing the highest levels of service.

“The Qantas experience starts from the moment our customers step onboard, with our crew focused on providing them with the warmth and attentive hospitality that Australia is renowned for,” said Mr Hogg.

“This award is testament to the hard work of our crew who are committed to providing our customers with a truly personalised travel experience.”

“Customer satisfaction ratings for Qantas International have this year reached record levels. All the feedback tells us that our customers appreciate the fantastic service provided by our people, and this award further demonstrates they have never been more satisfied with their experiences with Qantas.”

Qantas continues to invest in both training and technology to deliver a better and more responsive customer service. Cabin crew utilise a dedicate application on iPads, the RED app, which allows them to access customer information such as frequent flyer status, onward connections or even something as specific as favourite type of wine or the customer’s birthday.

“This technology, combined with ongoing training, has made a remarkable difference on our crew being able to provide customers with the most seamless journey possible,” added Mr Hogg.

Qantas remains committed to serving the Chinese market, and continuing to provide award-winning service.

This week, the airline announced a new joint venture with China Eastern which, subject to regulatory approval, will support the growing travel links between China and Australia. Coordination will deliver substantial benefits for Qantas customers, through:
  • the co-location of both carriers’ operations in Terminal 1 at Shanghai International Airport, which will cut transit times by about an hour, open up a better range of onward connections and provide more choice;
  • improved schedules and coordination times; and
  • improved products such as a joint lounge and streamlined check-in facilities in Shanghai

Qantas operates daily return services from Shanghai to Sydney with A330 aircraft.

This award coincides with the week of Qantas’ 94th birthday, and follows a number of recent announcements Qantas has made to enhance the experience for its customers travelling internationally:
  • In January 2015 Qantas’ first refurbished international A330 aircraft with new Business Suites will take to the skies on key routes between Asia and Australia, offering fully-flat beds with seats which can recline from take-off through to landing.
  • The Economy cabins on all international A330s will be fitted with a next-generation model of the award-winning Recaro seat.
  • From 1st March, 2015 Economy customers travelling from Shanghai to Australia will enjoy a wider choice of meals including a locally-inspired dish, fifty per cent larger servings, faster service with the launch of a new dining experience for Economy customers
  • Qantas is implementing a new and improved inflight entertainment program giving customers more choice and variety, as well as more regular and in-depth news coverage as a result of its new partnership with Sky News, Foxtel and Fox Sports
  • We continue to add and refresh Chinese content in the Foreign Movie and TV categories and are committed to providing Chinese subtitles on an increasing number of Premiere movies

BridgeClimb Challenges Nervous Climbers to 'Face Your Fear'

On the 26th November 2014, BridgeClimb launched Face your Fear: an initiative supporting and encouraging acrophobia sufferers to pledge to overcome their nerves and climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

With help from Clinical Psychologist Gemma Cribb, BridgeClimb has developed an ultimate online toolkit at: bridgeclimb.com/face-your-fear hosting top tips, expert videos, support tools, blogs, a hero gallery and a pledge page completion.

Through the initiative BridgeClimb is giving pledge entrants the chance to win a special televised Face your Fear coaching seminar and Climb with personal Climb Leaders and Gemma Cribb.

Cribb said, “Two to five per cent of the population experience a fear of heights. It can hold people back from achieving goals and enjoying special activities with loved ones such as taking part in a BridgeClimb. However, with the right support and advice, acrophobia suffers will be surprised at what they can accomplish.

“I'm delighted to join BridgeClimb in their quest to help more Climbers take steps to face their fear and to do something they can be truly proud of, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge”.

BridgeClimb has been helping people conquer their fear of heights for more than 16 years, with a 100% safety record. More than 3.2 million people have reached the summit, from 137 countries.

Climb Leader Amiee Hesson said, “I've had the privilege of sharing in the magical moments of Climbers who have overcome their fear and achieved what for many is a lifetime goal. It's very special and we're so proud to play a part in helping them through.

“It's so important for nervous Climbers to realise they are not in it alone and they can do it! We're ready to hold their hand before and during and to celebrate with them afterwards.”

Acrophobia sufferers who make a #BridgeClimbPledge can win a place on a special televised Face your Fear Climb on a BridgeClimb Sampler: a shorter and economical 'taste' of the iconic BridgeClimb, taking Climbers half way to the summit, perfect for first-time Climbers nervous about going to the very top.

For more information, please visit www.bridgeclimb.com or call +61 (0) 2 8274 7777.

Visit Santa Barbara Presents What's New Winter

'Tis the season to visit Santa Barbara! Hit the road and enjoy a fabulous range of activities that appeal to travelers of every type. 

Captivating festive holiday activities, such as the Parade of Lights and Downtown Holiday Parade, are guaranteed to make everyone get into the holiday spirit. 

Additionally, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival along with other cultural exhibits offered this winter, allows oneself to become immersed in the local arts and culture scene. 

Finally, food lovers rejoice as they will not leave hungry or disappointed after experiencing the wonders of our annual Film Feast. 

This list below is a collection of the top 15 recommended activities while visiting Santa Barbara this winter.
  • Every year, restaurants and hotels team up for Film Feast to provide our film festival visitors the culinary experience of a lifetime. For twelve days straight (January 27-February 7), your taste buds are delighted with specialty food and the best pours you'll ever try. Enjoy Santa Barbara's local flavors, try innovative plates and get exclusive lodging packages. SBFilmFeast.com 
  • The newly opened Barbareño restaurant has been making waves with its unique style of cooking. This California-style bistro captures Santa Barbara's essence by creating dishes unique to the region. Barbareño's young chefs seek to celebrate the Central Coast through their cuisine and utilize local sources like the “pinquito beans,” which are exclusively grown along California's Central Coast. Barbareno.com
  • The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, one of the biggest and most anticipated events of the year, celebrates its 30thAnniversary January 27 – February 7, 2015. Hosting more than 85,000 attendees, film industry professionals and special guests, SBIFF promotes film as an art form through various events and showcases over 200 independent films in Santa Barbara's historic theaters. SBIFF.org
  • Lotusland, a hidden gem in the mountains of Montecito, comes back strong from winter break on February 18th to build their new exhibition “FLOCK: Birds on the Brink.” Thirty international artists promise to intrigue and shock visitors as they transform the gardens of Lotusland into a provocative exhibit that portrays the global loss of wild bird populations. Enjoy this exciting exhibit February 28 to May 23. Lotusland.org
  • Located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, the new Wine Collection of El Paseo showcases six premium tasting rooms that offer a variety of locally-crafted distinctive wines. If you appreciate a good wine experience and want to learn about Santa Barbara County's wine production, the Wine Collection of El Paseo is your next destination. Facebook.com/WineCollectionofElPaseo
  • Experience a magical night as you watch how the coastline of Santa Barbara is lit up by a boat parade adorned with thousands of lights and festive Christmas decorations. The annual Parade of Lights is on Sunday, December 14th where you'll enjoy holiday festivities like the tree lighting ceremony and a fireworks show you don't want to miss. SantaBarbaraCA.gov/ParadeOfLights
  • Santa Barbara welcomes the holiday season with its annual Downtown Holiday Parade on Friday, December 5th. Laughter and joy will reign State St. as our favorite holiday floats, marching bands, local personalities and performance groups meet over 50,000 spectators. Alan Thicke is the Grand Marshall of this year's parade, themed “Winter Nights and Holiday Lights.” Downtownsb.org
  • Things are getting wild at Santa Barbara Zoo as they welcome the second giant anteater born in 2014! The recently born male pups are the first born at the Zoo since 2006, making this a unique and special event. The Santa Barbara Zoo is home to 146 different species of animals and insects, stop by and meet their newest member! Who by the way, is also available for naming by making a donation. SBZoo.org
  • From February – May 2015, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is the only West Coast venue to feature the world-renowned exhibit “Botticelli, Titian and Beyond: Masterpieces of Italian Painting from Glasgow Museums.” The one-of-a-kind exhibit, from Gasglow Museums' Italian holdings, showcases the evolution of Italian Art with works from Renaissance and Baroque masters. SBMuseumofArt.org
  • Take part in an incredible spectacle and get up close with the thousands of beautiful Monarch Butterflies that migrate to Santa Barbara every year. Visit the Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove from mid-November to mid-February and enjoy an amazing sight as you witness how these orange-and-black insects flutter around the eucalyptus trees right above your head! GoletaButterflyGrove.com
  • The 1920's and 1930's come roaring back this December 5th as Santa Barbara gets ready to celebrate Repeal Day! Join us in remembering the end of prohibition and enjoy an evening of classic costumes and cocktails in eight of the finest bars in downtown Santa Barbara. Revelers in vintage costumes get special offers at all participating bars. RepealDaySB.com
  • Feeling adventurous this holiday season? Invite your friends and family to the perfect holiday getaway at Cachuma Lake! Take a nature walk and explore the scenic Oak Woodland trail, come aboard an Eagle Cruise that takes you into a journey to discover the seasonal and local wildlife or test your luck and spend a relaxing day fishing on the lake until the winter sunset colors the sky. SBParks.org
  • After a voluntary effort to “go green,” the beautiful Ramada Santa Barbara hotel is now the first to receive the prestigious “Green Business Certification” in the Santa Barbara and Goleta area. Stay at the award-winning hotel, Ramada Santa Barbara to enjoy their year-round solar heated swimming pool and find out what else they are doing to stay green! SBRamada.com 
  • Ever tried a Madeleine with a “bump”? Santa Barbara's new bakery Mademoiselle Madeleine, established by two French national visionaries, brings this delicious delicacy with their signature “bump” to The American Riviera®. Try their high-quality pastries in seven different flavors, now available in many local specialty stores. This authentic handmade treat will melt in your mouth! Mlle-madeleine.com
  • The Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC), one of Santa Barbara's cultural hubs within the Historic Theater District, presents five exciting theatrical productions during their 2014-2015 season. The inspiring stories of Amadeus, The Best Brothers, Intimate Apparel, Woyzeck and Venus in Fur will amuse you through music, theater and dance. Join the cast for a post-performance party on opening nights! EnsembleTheatre.com

HOME GROUND CRICKET TOUR LAUNCHES IN SYDNEY

The NSW Government will bring a summer celebration of cricket and community to sporting grounds across Regional NSW in coming months, building excitement for 2015’s biggest sporting event – the ICC Cricket World Cup.

The roadshow of memorabilia and activities will visit 27 towns across NSW, starting in Dubbo on 2 December.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism and Major Events Troy Grant said the Home Ground Cricket Tour will promote cricket across the State.

“The NSW Government is pleased to support the event and give regional communities across NSW the chance to get involved in the lead up to the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015,” Mr Grant said.

“There is no better time to be a cricket fan in NSW, and I hope people across the State get along to their local sporting ground when the Home Ground Cricket Tour comes to town.”

Minister for Regional Tourism John Barilaro said the tour will have something to offer cricket fans of all ages.

“This tour will give people in regional areas an opportunity to view key pieces from the world-famous Bradman Museum and get involved with the sport by taking part in hands-on activities conducted by Cricket NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.

The Sydney Cricket Ground will host five Cricket World Cup games including Australia versus Sri Lanka on Sunday 8 March, followed by a quarter and a semi-final.

For further information on the tour: www.sydney.com/homeground.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

AIME Takes Home Best Exhibition Award at Australian Event Awards (AEA)

AIME (Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo) has been named the Best Exhibition in the annual Australian Event Awards (AEA) 2014, further cementing its standing as the leading business events industry exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere.

Established in 2006, the Australian Event Awards is Australia's premier awards for honouring excellence in the events industry.

The awards receive hundreds of entries from organisations of all sizes and from all over Australia each year to make the list of just four finalists in the category. Joining AIME in the running for Best Exhibition was Australian Tourism Exchange 2014 (Tourism Australia), Taste of Sydney 2013 (Taste Festivals) and PAX Australia.

The category of Best Exhibition is judged on a company's innovation in relation to techniques, knowledge and practices, its long term benefits to the industry and the degree to which the event delivers outcomes for not only its attendees, but exhibitors and key stakeholders too.

Jacqui Timmins, Exhibition Director at AIME and CIBTM, said AIME was honoured by the accolade, and that the win was testament to the organisation's determination to constantly innovate to remain a relevant and compelling event for the industry.

“At AIME we're committed to constant innovation to ensure we provide for the industry's evolving business needs, and this award is further testament to our dedication to stay at the forefront for the last 23 years. Our team is passionate about ensuring we stay on top of worldwide trends to provide attendees with the latest insights, information and opportunities out there,” Timmins said.

AIME is the largest international business event in Australia attracting more than 700 exhibitors from across five continents. The annual event provides the best platform in the industry for suppliers and buyers to connect, do business and share knowledge.

Karen Bolinger, Chief Executive Officer of the Melbourne Convention Bureau, which owns AIME, said winning these awards strengthens AIME's position as a globally renowned, world-class event, attracting high volumes of business and interest from overseas.

“AIME is a cornerstone of Australia's highly successful business events industry and contributes substantial economic benefit to the local industry and economy each year. This award highlights how we continue to be the most relevant, must-attend event in this space, showcasing industry best practice.”

AIME will take place on 24-25 February 2015. For more information about AIME, please visit www.aime.com.au and join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Contact Reed Travel Exhibitions on aime@reedexhibitions.com.au or +61 2 9422 2500 to understand the opportunities of exhibiting at AIME.

Tourism Australia, Garuda Launch Campaign to Strengthen Tourism Ties

Tourism Australia and Indonesia's national carrier Garuda Indonesia have launched a massive joint marketing campaign, marking a milestone in their partnership as Indonesia emerges as one of Australia's fastest-growing markets for international visitors.

The latest campaign, which will run until June 2015 across television and digital media, aims to boost tourism ties between the two neighbours and to promote Garuda's services to Australian destinations including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane.

The campaign is also supported by seven Indonesian travel agencies* which have developed specially-adapted 'There's nothing like Australia' travel packages for visitors. These include experiences for Australia's world-class food and wine offerings, its fresh produce, romantic destinations, the great outdoors and the exotic wildlife.

“Garuda is a valued partner for Tourism Australia, and it is a pleasure to work with the award-winning airline to bring Indonesians to Australia to find out why 'There's nothing like Australia',” said Michael Newcombe, Regional General Manager, Southeast Asia and The Gulf, Tourism Australia.

“Tourism is a key industry for both Indonesia and Australia. We are proud that Tourism Australia and Garuda are playing their part to strengthen relationships between the two countries,” Mr Newcombe said.

Indonesia is one of Australia's fastest-growing markets for international visitors, with a total of 150,700 arrivals registered in 2013, an increase of 3.5 percent compared to 2012.

The number of Indonesian visitors jumped 9.9 percent year-on-year for the first six months of 2014 to 64,600.

“We highly appreciate this cooperation with Tourism Australia, and hope that through our prospective relationship, we will be able to fulfill all of our mutual expectations while yielding even greater benefits and value, not only for travelers from indonesia, but also travelers from Australia as well,” said Executive Vice President Marketing and Sales Garuda Indonesia, Erik Meijer.

*The seven travel agencies are: Dwidaya, Golden Rama, Australian Centre, Panen Tour, Avia Tour, AntaVaya and Smailing Tour.

For more information on the destination, visit www.australia.com.

Time to Dig Dinosaurs, Colonial Times and Mary Poppins!

Queensland's heritage city of Maryborough is famous for its quirky living colonial history but now it is heading all the way back to prehistoric times.

For the next few months Maryborough's heritage-listed City Hall will be overrun by dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures of all shapes and sizes as it stages Explore-a-saurus.

This interactive exhibition features amazing animatronic versions of some of the world's most famous dinosaurs, including Muttaburrasaurus, one of the most complete dinosaur skeleton specimens ever found in Australia, and the carnivorous Tyrannosaurus rex, King of the Cretaceous Period.

Exploring the concepts of palaeontology has never been so much fun or hands-on. Visitors can test their strength against a T-Rex jaw, recreate the sounds of various dinosaurs, uncover fossils and bones at a dig site and learn about how dinosaurs lived – from how fast they ran to how they digested their food.

The Explor-a-saurus Exhibition will run from the start of the Christmas school holidays on 13 December and continue until the end of the Easter Holidays on 19 April, 2015.

The dinosaurs exhibition will add an exciting new element to delving into history in Maryborough, where celebrating the past is served with a large dose of fun.

There are quirky tours and intriguing museums which bring to life Maryborough's fascinating, colourful and sometimes dark history as one of Australia's major immigration ports in the 1800s and one of Queensland's oldest cities.

Time cannons are fired on city streets by costumed ambassadors and replica old steam trains chug through its heritage-listed riverside park.

Maryborough is also filled with Mary Poppins magic, as the birthplace of author Pamela Travers. There is a Mary Poppins statue outside the heritage-listed bank residence where the author was born, a madcap Mary Poppins Festival, Mary Poppins public art and displays, and a delightful Magical Mary Discovery Trail.

Tickets to Explor-a-saurus are available from the Maryborough City Hall Visitor Information Centre or pre-book on line at www.ourfrasercoast.com.au/dinosaurs.

For information on Maryborough and the Fraser Coast holidays go towww.visitfrasercoast.com.au.

Singapore New Hotel Openings: 2015

The Patina – opening early 2015

The Patina, Capitol Singapore, will be Patina Hotels & Resorts' flagship hotel. Blending heritage and contemporary interiors with modern technology, highly personalised service and a world-class art collection, the 157 guest rooms and suites will deliver an unparalleled experience for guests – traditional, yet contemporary; intimate, yet in the heart of the city. It will be housed in the iconic Capitol Building and Stamford House, which is being masterfully restored by Pritzker Prize Architecture Laureate, Richard Meier.
www.patinahotels.com

Genting Singapore – opening early 2015

Genting Singapore will be the first hotel to open in Singapore's Jurong Lake District in the west of the island. Conveniently located five minutes from an MRT station, it will be situated close to the business districts within the area and a popular choice for a stay away from the city centre. The architects have adopted a “hotel in a garden” theme for the 550-room hotel, with property features including, exclusive roof gardens, sky terraces and many courtyards to complement Jurong Lake's lush tropical lakeside setting.
www.gentingsingapore.com

Park Hotel Farrer Park – opening early 2015

Originally famous for where Singapore's first racecourse was located, Farrer Park will soon be home to the Park Hotel Farrer Park, a 300-room hotel conveniently located atop Farrer Park MRT. Connected via an underground walkway to Singapore's first eco shopping centre, the hotel is also a stone's throw from the northern end of Little India, where Indian cultural influences and the 24-hour Mustafa Centre will provide added colour to one's stay.
www.parkhotelgroup.com

The South Beach – opening late 2015

The South Beach has been conceptualised by Philippe Starck, known worldwide for his luxurious hotels and bold reworkings of entire environments. The designer hotel will hold 654 rooms and will be centrally located between Raffles Hotel and Suntec Singapore. The new area of South Beach is one of Singapore's greenest developments supported by a microclimatic canopy, a high performance glass facade and extensive sky gardens.
www.southbeach-sb.com/hotel

Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa – opening late 2015

Following extensive refurbishment and renovation, Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa will soon be Sofitel's second hotel in Singapore. This property will be located on the tropical island of Sentosa, and promises to provide French-style luxury for guests through 215 guest rooms including suites and villas, a grand ballroom and terrace with sea views, and landscaped grounds.

Crown Metropol in Melbourne and Perth named the most popular luxury hotels in Australia

Australians are spending more of their precious travel time seeking five star hotel experiences and Crown Metropol hotels in Melbourne and Perth top the list of the most popular luxury hotels in the country! New data released by hotel price comparison site, HotelsCombined shows that the number of five star hotel bookings in Australia has increased by a huge 194% since last year. According to their research, Crown Metropol, Melbourne has received more bookings in the last six months than any other luxury Australian hotel and Crown Metropol, Perth has received the second largest number of bookings.

General Manager Crown Perth Hotels Shaun D’Cruz said that the team at Crown Resorts is incredibly proud to be listed as the most-booked luxury hotels in Australia.

“At Crown, we aim to set the benchmark for true five-star international luxury in Australia and it is fantastic for our hotels to receive recognition as the nation’s two most popular luxury hotels. This result is testament to the high calibre of service provided by our dedicated team, paired with our world-class accommodation, dining and spa offerings. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the entire Crown team on this outstanding achievement.”

Short, luxurious getaways appear to be the trend with HotelsCombined revealing that travellers are staying on average only two nights in five star hotels.

Alycia Simons of HotelsCombined said that the increase in five star bookings suggests that five star luxury is becoming more affordable and travellers are willing to spend that little bit more to ensure that their getaway is comfortable.

“Booking a five star hotel ensures that travellers will enjoy a superior getaway that is luxurious and relaxing. They’ll stay in a quality room and be offered exceptional service by the hotel. Australians and travellers within Australia have recognised this value,” she said.

A Crystal Festive Season at Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai

This festive season, Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai speaks for crystal elegance and grace. Embellished by LALIQUE, the French crystal design legend, the Hotel’s festive decoration this year spreads the season’s spirit far and wide and makes a few jaws drop. Mesmerizing LALIQUE centrepieces and a full range of decorative motifs seamlessly merge into the Hotel’s ambience and décor.

Get ready for myriad activities prepared this season in edgy and inimitable style. Starting December, the Hotel will offer a variety of sumptuous delicacies for festive occasions on Christmas and New Year, in both buffet and set menu.

And the ingenious pastry team is at it again: after the pleasures of the Chocolate Chamber during Easter, they step up once again in bringing guests a Festive Afternoon Tea to remember. From fresh crepes to warm raisin scones and Parisian hot chocolate, there is nowhere better to pass those cold winter afternoons than in one’s favourite cozy corner of Camelia.

Celebrate this festive season at Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai for beautiful memories with friends and family.

Reservation Hotlines:
Shàng-Xí:+86 21 2036 1310
Camelia: +86 21 2036 1300

Stacks to See and Do in the Summer School Holidays

There's something on offer to delight and entertain children of all ages in Canberra during the summer school holidays.

Stand up, dress up, make up, think up and step up in a fabulous space at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House that has turned the traditional idea of what goes on in museums completely on its head. The new children's exhibition space, Play Up pokes its tongue out at the idea that museums are hands off. Visitors become the curators and it is their work that will be on the walls and the media screens. Pop into Play Up's brand new graffiti room, plus don't miss the indoor and outdoor family action packs, zine making and dress ups. Free after admission fee. www.moadoph.gov.au

For animal lovers, a visit to the National Zoo and Aquarium is an absolute must.Be brave and take part in an animal encounter to get up close and personal with some of the world's most amazing creatures like cheetahs, sharks, sun bears, white lions and red pandas. The interactive Family Tour is designed with younger children in mind. Come face-to-face with creatures both great and small, feel the warm breath of a giraffe on your face, experience the rush of looking a big cat in the eye and challenge yourself to hold or touch a snake.www.nationalzoo.com.au

Take part in a fun-filled summer of activities at the National Portrait Gallery. Draw along to music in free Drawn In classes; make your own creature using clay in theExtraordinary Creatures workshop; and program and instruct Lego NXT robots to complete a special task with Robogals Canberra for a taste of engineering in a hands on and fun way. Listen to excerpts from the story The Little Prince and create your own visual response during Story Time; explore portraits through drawing and creative activity in the galleries at Portrait Play; and watch a family film with special screenings throughout January. Bookings essential.www.portrait.gov.au

No family trip to Canberra is complete without experiencing the excitement of Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre. Home to a range of interactive exhibitions like Awesome Earth, Wonderworks, Q Lab and Excite@Q, Questacon is a favourite with the young and the young-at-heart. Surprise your senses and challenge your mind in Perception Deception with more than 60 hands-on and multimedia exhibits featuring perception tests and illusions. Questacon will be a hive of activity this school holidays, with Spectacular Science Shows, Puppet Shows for preschool audiences, and a range of fantastic hands-on activities in Q Lab. Launch into the New Year with water-powered rockets, race a milk-carton boat and celebrate International Potato Day by making potato batteries, potato stamps, and more. www.questacon.edu.au

Visit the Australian War Memorial with your family and connect with the stories of people and events that have shaped our nation. Climb into a Vietnam War era helicopter, or explore a First World War trench or a Cold War submarine in the Memorial's Discovery Zone. During school holidays participate in hands-on-history, where kids can handle real objects and dress up in nurse or soldier uniforms. Hear extraordinary stories about ordinary Australians, or see moving performances portraying the experiences of women during wartime.Children can also make their own colour patch, bookmark, or poppy to take home as part of Drop in craft.www.awm.gov.au

The National Library of Australia will be buzzing during the summer school holidays. Drop in to read, write, illustrate and imagine as part of the Library's WordPlay program running through January. A range of fun activities are available in the pop up kids' space exploring the shape, meaning and use of language. There will be a number of story time events and free screenings of children's films like A Little Princess, Fairy Tale: A True Story and Arrietty in the Library's theatre.www.nla.gov.au

Be inspired by the National Museum of Australia's Spirited: Australia's Horse Storyexhibition, which reflects on the powerful bonds and enduring relationships between people and horses to trace how together they have helped build the Australian nation. The Spirited family trail Imagine My Horse Powered Life is a fun and informative way to explore the exhibition. The trail culminates in a dedicated family space, where you can dress up as a pony club rider or a stock worker, try out a side saddle, learn how to draw a horse, and measure your height in hands. Children under 16 receive free entry to the Spirited exhibition if accompanied by an adult. www.nma.gov.au

You can catch some world-class sport in Canberra over the summer with the nation's capital hosting seven matches of the AFC Asian Cup 2015 in January and three ICC Cricket World Cup matches in February and March, as well as the Prime Minister's X1 v England and the T20 Big Bash League final at Manuka Oval.

For more great school holiday ideas and places to stay in the capital, visitwww.visitcanberra.com.au.