Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Tourism Malaysia hopes visa waiver trial will help realise target of two million Chinese tourist arrivals

Tourism Malaysia
Tourism Malaysia hopes the visa waiver granted for Chinese tour groups on a trial basis will help realise the target of attracting two million Chinese tourist arrivals this year.

The move, on a six-month-trial basis, is expected to be implemented this year to increase Malaysia’s competitiveness as compared to other neighbouring countries, said Tourism Malaysia (Planning) deputy director-general Chong Yoke Har.

“We found out that the competition is getting very very strong now, every market is paying special attention to China’s market.

“To show that we are interested in this market, we have to have more promotions, more touch base with local trades and consumers here,” she told Malaysian journalists after officiating the Malaysian pavilion at Beijing International Tourism Expo 2015 in Beijing, Friday.

Previously Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the cabinet on June 19 had agreed to grant visa waiver for Chinese tour groups on a trial basis to attract more Chinese travellers to visit Malaysia.

Meanwhile, HTC Travel Services Group chief executive officer Alex Yap welcomed the visa waiver announcement made by the government earlier for tour groups from China but hoped procedures such as the timeframe to register these tourists would be shortened.

The visa application process normally took three to four days to complete, he said, hoping that the visa-on-arrival (VoA) for Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia would be extended to every entry points in the country.

Currently the five air entry points that offered the VoA facility are the Bayan Lepas International Airport, Penang; Senai International Airport, Johor; Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Sabah; Kuching International Airport, Sarawak; and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA and KLIA2).

Apart from focusing on China’s second-tier cities such as Chengdu and Wuhan, she said a seminar was also conducted in Yinchuan city, the capital of Muslim Hui autonomous region of Ningxia, north-central China recently to introduce Malaysia as a country where the China’s Muslims could obtain halal food or products there.

Director of Tourism Malaysia’s Beijing Office Noran Ujang said niche tourism was also being promoted in China, where some 100 Chinese anglers would join a fishing competition in Rompin, Pahang on August 18 this year.

Sydney Bike Tours Introduces the Latest in Travel Tech

Sydney Bike Tours
Sydney Bike Tours has launched new GPS guided, audio cycling tours of Sydney CBD and Manly Beach.

Utilising the growing network of bicycle paths in Sydney, the tours safely guide you to a selection of Sydney's famous attractions, using both on-screen directions and audio navigation, via a standard smart phone.

"It's wonderful to be able to combine the latest in GPS and audio technology, with cycling around the city of Sydney. It now means that tourists can explore the city at their own pace while still having the benefit of a tour guide commentary along the way" Co-director James van Rooyen said.

The app can be downloaded for from either of their two locations via WiFi, and doesn't require a data connection whilst you are cycling, all the information is stored on the device.

The “Bike the Bridge” tour over the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge is the most popular ride. Alternatively guests can cruise the harbour-side board walk, past the city's iconic park lands to the Fish Markets; ride along the world famous Manly and Bondi beaches, and even spot whales from North Head. At each destination, guests will hear in-depth commentary covering the history, culture and unique stories of life in Sydney.

Sydney Bike Tours carry a huge range of hire bicycles. Kid's bikes cost $20 a day and Adult bikes start from $28 a day. If you need a smart phone device, you can hire one for the day at only $10.

Since 2007, Manly Bike Tours has been offering self-guided bike hire at Manly Beach. In 2014, the business expanded into a second location at The Rocks, Sydney - trading under the name Sydney Bike Tours.

The business serves over 25,000 guests per year and has been recognised in the 2015 TripAdvisor Hall of Fame, awarded to only the top 2% of tourism businesses.

For further information on the bike rides in Manly or Sydney, go to www.sydneybiketours.com.au or call the shop on (02) 8005 5724.

Anantara Angkor Resort & Spa Launches New John McDermott Gallery and Photography Tours

Angkor 
Illustrating how authentic indigenous experiences can be creatively enhanced by international flair, Anantara Angkor Resort & Spa in Siem Reap, Cambodia now proudly houses The McDermott Gallery, featuring an ethereal collection of Angkor monument images by the award-winning photographer John McDermott, who is also hosting guests for exclusive photography tours of these iconic UNESCO temple ruins.

John first came to Angkor in 1995 to witness a total eclipse of the sun. Inspired by the surreal light of the eclipse, he spent over a decade creating a definitive artistic portrait of the ancient Khmer temples before the arrival of tourism. These magical images reveal a hidden realm of Angkor temples lost in the forest, conjuring a 19th century explorer's dream.

John's evocative Angkor photography can be seen in his fine art book Elegy: Reflections on Angkor and at his galleries in Siem Reap. His images are on display at the National Museum in Phnom Penh and have been published and exhibited worldwide. His photographs are held in private collections worldwide and have been printed in numerous books and publications, including Time, Newsweek, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times which calls John McDermott “the Ansel Adams of Angkor”, writing that his photographs are “not just beautiful but iconic. . . dreamlike photos which look as though they were taken in an ancient, forgotten world.”

Housed in a setting that is perfectly suited to viewing and appreciating the dramatic photography, The McDermott Gallery is located on the second floor in an open air environment overlooking the resort's beautiful front courtyard. All artworks on display at the gallery are available for sale.

Anantara Angkor Resort & Spa is also delighted to offer once in a lifetime Angkor photography tours with John McDermott for guests who aspire to take direction from this leading photographer. The new bespoke tours are tailored to the personal interests and passions of each guest, whether they are a budding amateur or a more serious photographer who would relish the opportunity to capture magnificent images of these ancient ruins. Half day photography tours are priced at USD $350 per couple and full day tours are charged at USD $600 per couple.

For more information, please contact Anantara Angkor Resort and Spa on +855 63 966 788 or email angkor@anantara.com.

Wananavu Beach Resort – Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame and Travellers Choice Awards 2015

Wananavu Beach Resort has won, yet again, the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award for the fifth time consecutively. This has now taken Wananavu into the Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame in TripAdvisor. This comes just after Wananavu was voted once again in Fiji’s top 10 resorts in 2015. These awards are due to the great feedback left by our valued guests. General Manager, Allan Carter is once again very proud of the team at Wananavu as this wouldn’t be possible without them.

Wananavu Beach Resort is one of those places where time stands still. Escape to an untouched paradise of pristine beaches, crystal clear water and world renowned diving. Located on the Sun Coast overlooking the Sailstone Reef and the Nananui Islands, Wananavu is an idyllic 4 star resort with 34 deluxe bures. Voted as one of Fiji’s top 10 resorts by Trip Advisor in 2014 and 2015, Wananavu offers an island paradise experience with mainland convenience.

At Wananavu, the attention to detail is paramount; from the flowers on the beds on arrival, to the chilled fruit juice served as you enter into reception on arrival; to the deep fried coconut with sweet chilli sauce served at sundown as you watch the nightly ritual of the torch-lighting. The warmth of the staff embrace you, with choruses of ‘Bula’ and ‘Vinaka,’ and you will find yourself melting into their hospitality with gratitude each day.

Experience the real Fiji at Wananavu Beach Resort.

Shinju Matsuri - Festival of the Pearl

Japanese for Festival of the Pearl, Shinju Matsuri celebrates the unique culture, history and diversity of Broome. 

A traditional Chinese dragon is the centre-piece of the festival, and people proudly display their ethnic origins, and celebrate a pearling history that has made their getaway town the envy of the world. 

The festival will tempt your senses with an exciting whirlwind of colour, sound, taste and smell.

Shinju Matsuri rekindles the excitement and romance of Broome’s early days of being a world-renowned producer of South Sea Pearls that came from the Maxima Pinctada giant Pearl Shell. These giant pearl shells were used for mother of pearl buttons and the bi product of this was the highly sort after natural white pearls. The shells grew well in the pristine and isolated waters of the Kimberley coast. Japanese, Chinese, Malay, Koepangers, Filipino and Europeans flocked to Broome from the late 1800’s to be a part of this prosperity. This unique multicultural population of pearl industry workers joined with the local Aboriginal people and Europeans to work on up to 400 Pearling Luggers that sailed out of Broome. This influence on architecture and the local cultures contributed to the spirit and energy that is still present in the exotic town of Broome today.
Shinju Matsuri
The annual Shinju Matsuri (which is Japanese for “Festival of the Pearl”) originated from three cultural festivals – Japanese Obon Matsuri, Malaysian Hari Merdeka, Independence Day from British rule in 1957, and the Chinese Hang Seng. The Festival united these cultural groups. From these original cultural celebrations the Shinju Matsuri then became a festival that celebrated Broome and encouraged tourism.

Establishing itself as a unique festival in 1970, certification was gained on the seventh day of August 1973 when Shinju Matsuri Inc became incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act. Shinju Matsuri ran for many years on volunteer/donated assistance from local families and businesses. Broomes people and businesses have given generously to show their love of Broome over the 42 year life of the Festival and is a testament to the character and culture of this special place. The history of Shinju Matsuri continues to enhance the Festival, through events that showcase the local performing artists and visual artists, involvement with the schools through performance and educational opportunities, the magnificent venues, both indoor and outdoor that are unique to Broome and though visiting cultural performers and special guests.
Shinju Matsuri
The volunteer Board of Shinju Matsuri is driven by the community and sees the festival as an opportunity to re-educate and inform the community of the cultural heritage of Broome. Ensuring that education and information is passed on to young people and new arrivals will assure that Broome’s unique and diverse identity is acknowledged and remembered through the generations and Shinju Matsuri has the power to do this.

While pearling continues in Broome, and our pearls are still considered some of the best in the world, it is no longer the major industry. Industries such as tourism, pastoral, mining and resources have become stronger and development of the area is ongoing.
Shinju Matsuri
Shinju Matsuri will tempt your senses with an exciting whirlwind of colour, sound, taste and smell as the community share with the world this beautiful locale and the people who call it home. By recognizing the many different cultures that have existed harmoniously in Broome for over a century Shinju Matsuri showcase Broome’s natural beauty, unique history and diverse character to the outside world.

August 28 to September 6, 2015
Broome, Australia's North West

Traditional Attire and Music of Malaysia

Traditional attire
Traditional attire

From imposing tribal head-feathers with bark body-covers to gold-woven antique royal songket fabric, the array of traditional costumes and textiles in Malaysia is bold and colourful.

Early Malaysian aboriginal tribes wore native bark costumes and beads. During the era of the ancient kingdoms, Malay royalty used fine, hand-loomed textiles and intricate batik to display their prestige. As foreign trade flourished, costumes and textiles such as Chinese silk, the Indian pulicat or plaid sarong and the Arabian jubbah, a robe with wide sleeves, were also introduced.

Traditional attire such as the Malay baju kebaya, Indian saree and Chinese cheongsam are all still widely worn.

Traditional music

There are many different Malaysian regions and peoples, and they all express themselves through unique musical styles. Many of these are traditionally performed to celebrate religious and social events, and are a fascinating display of Malaysian culture. Muslim-influenced zapin dancing, Indian Bharata Natyam and the Chinese New Year Lion Dance are just a selection of the variety musical and dance experiences to be found in Malaysia. Ask around for musical events that may be on when you're in Malaysia.

EFORT picks Coopetition offer from Barcelona and Vienna‏

Messe Wien Congress and Exhibition Center
The European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (EFORT) has chosen for the annual congress in 2017 and 2020 Vienna and for 2018 and 2021 Barcelona, The years 2019 and 2022 will be organised in different cities.

Dr. Manuel Cassiano Neves, Past President and Ass. Prof. Dr. Per Kjaersgaard-Andersen, Secretary General, commented on this decision: "This final choice reflects the wish of the EFORT Leadership to streamline the endeavours for a consolidated congress approach. Indeed, the joint promotion of Vienna and Barcelona contributed to this final decision“.

The EFORT congress in Vienna will take place from May 31 – June 2, 2017 at the Messe Wien Congress and Exhibition Center. In Barcelona the venue will be the Fira Gran Via.

Christoph Tessmar, Director Barcelona Convention Bureau: "We started this project back in 2012 and we are proud that the choice to bring EFORT Annual Congress to our city can contribute to some of the strategic goals of the organisation.”

EFORT congresses last 3 full days and approx. 8,000 participants attend the scientific sessions, educational meetings and training courses. It is expected that the congress generates 40.000 overnights.

Christian Mutschlechner, Director Vienna Convention Bureau adds: “The whole process was not only built on the confidence between the EFORT Leadership and our two destinations, but we also developed a very strong partner-and friendship with the EFORT Head Office team. Together with Mr. Adrian Ott, CEO of EFORT and his staff, we are now striving to deliver outstanding services to the EFORT Annual Congresses in our two destinations.“

Christian Mutschlechner
Vienna Convention Bureau | Vienna Tourist Board | Invalidenstrasse 6 |1030 Vienna | Austria
Phone: +43-1-211 14-500 | Mobile: +43-676-88 929 500 | Fax: +43-1-211 14-599
christian.mutschlechner@vienna.info | www.vienna.convention.at

The Sebel Scrums Together With the Australian Schools Rugby Union

NSW Schools 1st XV, winners 2014
The Sebel Residence Chatswood is joining together with the Australian Schools Rugby Union (ASRU) for a second year, sponsoring the 41st Sebel Australian Schools Championships which began  on Monday 29 June 2015.

Taking place at St Ignatius' College in Sydney, both NSW teams are defending their titles for first and second place. The rugby matches are expected to bring large local crowds and families from across the state.

“We're delighted to support such a noteworthy event on the school's sports calendar and help encourage our youth to get active and participate in Australian sports,” says the General Manager Sandra Crisafi of The Sebel Residence Chatswood.

“The Sebel Residence Chatswood has a long-standing relationship with both the families of players who attend local boarding schools and the ASRU, hosting their bi-annual Committee meetings at the hotel, so it's been a very successful pairing.”

Andrew Elliot, the Executive Officer of the ASRU says “The Sebel Residence have become wonderful supporters of the Australian Schools Rugby Union, the partnership is very important to our organisation and we are very pleased to have them as the naming sponsor of the championships.”

The 41st championships, twelve teams will assemble with eight teams playing in division I - ACT, NSW I and II, QLD I and II, Victoria, Western Australia and a Combined States team will vie for the Jika Travers Shield. New South Wales have held the shield for the past three years, where Queensland previously had a six year run.

The championships were first played in 1975 in Melbourne where Queensland Schools defeated ACT, a result repeated in 1976. Queensland have won the championships 16 times, NSW have 21 wins, while the ACT have three wins.

For the first time championship matches will be streamed live. Links to matches will be available on the ASRU website: www.schoolsrugby.com.au alongside a full schedule of game days.

The major sponsor of the ASRU Championships from 2014, The Sebel Residence Chatswood is an apartment-style hotel which offers immediate access to the areas business district major retail shopping area and Victoria Avenue. The hotel is adjacent to the railway station offering fast regular service to the Sydney CBD. Providing guests with an exceptional range of facilities, The Sebel Sydney Chatswood features elegant conference space, a fully equipped fitness centre, Australia's first hotel mineral pool and in-room menus.

NEW HOTEL OPENINGS OR MAJOR REFURBISHMENTS IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Mayfair Hotel, Adelaide 

Mayfair Hotel, Adelaide

Adelaide's highly anticipated Mayfair Hotel opened its doors, breathing glamour and sophistication in the heart of South Australia's vibrant capital. The boutique hotel is nestled on the corner of King William and Hindley Streets – accessible to Adelaide's Riverbank Precinct, Adelaide Casino, iconic Adelaide Oval and Rundle Mall shopping district. Preserving the heritage-listed building, the 1930s facade has been complemented by a stunning new jewel-box addition that adds a contemporary twist to a beautiful classic building. The hotel offers 170 elegant and well-appointed rooms and suites, a breathtaking rooftop terrace and lounge, function rooms, business centre, gym, the Mayflower Restaurant and Bar and Café 55.
www.mayfairhotel.com.au

ibis Adelaide

Located in the heart of the city centre, ibis Adelaide and is the largest ibis hotel in Australia. Its futuristic aesthetic is tied together by a LED lit multi-coloured staircase and commissioned artwork from street graffiti artist Ghostpatrol. The 311-room hotel features a chill out zone, where guests can use the free Wi-Fi or just simply relax. A communal bar overlooks Grenfell Street, and a restaurant, two boardrooms an indoor/outdoor gym and a guest laundry are just some of the features of this brand new Grenfell Street hotel.
www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-8822-ibis-adelaide/index.shtml

The Watson, Adelaide

The newest Art Series hotel has opened in Adelaide. The Watson on Warwick Street in Walkerville is the sixth Art Series Hotel and the first in South Australia. It pays homage to Indigenous colourist and landscape painter, Tommy Watson, and features his work all throughout the hotel. The boutique hotel boasts 24 open plan self-contained suites, an onsite restaurant and a 25 metre lap pool designed by Olympic swimmer Michael Klim.
www.artserieshotels.com.au/watson/ 

The Frames, Paringa

The Frames has redefined luxury, creating a sensory wonderland in the heart of the Riverland. Located on a cliff top at Paringa with endless views of the Murray River, each modern residence boasts open, large living spaces, high-end fittings, private pools and spas. The villas also include top of the range appliances and poolside outdoor kitchens, with the finest in bathroom luxury with spa baths, saunas and large rain showers.
www.theframes.com.au

Mount Lofty House, Crafters

Mount Lofty House
Once used to store hay bales, the original stables built in 1852 at Mount Lofty House have been restored and converted into The Stables Day Spa. Visitors can relax and rejuvenate while indulging in an array of exclusive therapies and packages including massage, facials, manicures, pedicures and treatments. Soothe the mind and body and head for the Adelaide Hills where you can experience health and wellbeing alongside boutique luxury accommodation and fine dining. 

Restaurant Roster Announced for dineL.A.'s Summer Restaurant Week Presented by the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board

Explore, Eat, and Repeat With 14 Days of dineL.A. Fixed Price Menus and Exclusive dineL.A. Dishes

The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (L.A. Tourism) is proud to announce the lineup for dineL.A.'s Summer Restaurant Week, the city's popular biannual food event set to take place July 13th – 26th, 2015.

Diners around Los Angeles County can take advantage of fixed price lunch and dinner menus, as well as exclusive dishes, from hundreds of acclaimed L.A. chefs at noteworthy restaurants over the course of 14 days.

The extensive list of 300+ participants includes hot spots like Connie & Ted's, Fogo de Chão, Gracias Madre, Lotería Grill, and Sushi Roku who return to dineL.A. this summer while newcomers like Cadet, HYDE Sunset Kitchen + Cocktails, Royal, and The District by Hannah An promise to please. The comprehensive restaurant list allows guests to choose from a wide selection of cuisines and dining experiences at three price points. Diners can enjoy lunch menus for $15, $20, or $25 or plan a night out on the town with dinner options priced at $30, $40, or $50 per person.

In order to further enhance the experience of Restaurant Week, participating restaurants will be offering menus that are 15% off the existing price and many will also be creating exclusive menu items just for dineL.A. customers. dineL.A. aims to encourage diners to take advantage of the creativity that participating chefs are putting into these new exclusive dishes and to explore new neighborhoods, cuisine, and ingredients.

“We're thrilled to continue welcoming participants new and old from all over the county to showcase their craft to so many Angelenos,” said Stacey Sun, Director of dineL.A. “We hope that the wide array of cuisines, neighborhoods, and price points encourage diners to explore this ever-growing, food-centric city throughout the fourteen days of Restaurant Week.”

dineL.A.'s Restaurant Week:

dineL.A.'s Restaurant Weekis a 14-day dining event, showcasing Los Angeles as a premier dining destination and highlighting the diversity of the Los Angeles culinary scene. Presented by the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board and in partnership with American Express, dineL.A.'s Restaurant Week is designed to stimulate business and introduce new customers to restaurants located in the many neighbourhoods throughout L.A. County.

Follow dineL.A. on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all updates and tag #dineLA on Instagram during Restaurant Week to be entered to win $50 gift cards to L.A. restaurants. For more information, visit: www.discoverLosAngeles.com/dineLA.

NEW TOURS OR EXPERIENCES IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

Disability Tours

Virtual Journeys

Tailor-make your own video itinerary to really bring to life the experiences and activities available in the NT via the new virtual journeys website. Available on desktop, tablet and mobile devices, the Virtual Journeys website features more than 200 products. This online platform introduces you to experiences and activities through inspirational video footage, and the unique images give the impression that you are the one who is actually having the experience and seeing it through your own eyes.
www.virtualjourneys.travelnt.com

SeaLink 3 Day Ultimate Tiwi Islands

SeaLink NT's newest tour offering is a rare opportunity to experience remote island life in the Tiwi Islands, only a short distance from Darwin via a new ferry transfer. Enjoy fishing, art and culture experiences on this ultimate 3 day adventure exploring the untouched Tiwi region. Limited to 12 people per tour, this exclusive opportunity is available for a limited season of 10 weeks in July, August and September.
www.sealinknt.com.au/tours/3-day-ultimate-tiwi-islands

Yellow Water Under the Stars Cruise, Kakadu Tourism

The 90 minute Yellow Water Under the Stars Cruise takes place on Yellow Water Billabong and is hosted by an Indigenous guide who identifies the countless star systems, providing a narrative based on generations of old Dreamtime stories. This experience captures how Kakadu fits into the solar system, providing visitors with the opportunity to appreciate the region's cultural background.
www.gagudju-dreaming.com/Cruises/Yellow-Water-Under-the-Stars.aspx

Karrke Aboriginal Cultural Experience Tour, Kings Canyon

Karrke is Central Australia's newest Indigenous cultural product. Located near Kings Canyon, Karrke offers a one hour cultural tour where visitors can learn about bush tucker, local languages and witness spear and boomerang displays. This hands on experience is a great addition to Watarrka National Park, a region home to over 600 species of plants and animals.
www.travelnt.com/en/uluru-and-surrounds/tour/karrke-aboriginal-cultural-experience/karrke-aboriginal-cultural-experience-tour

Yolnu Homelands Tours, Lirrwi Tourism

Lirrwi Tourism has two new tours of Yolnu homelands, inviting visitors to experience Indigenous traditions and culture. Small groups are now able to travel through remote Arnhem Land and stay with Yolnu families where they will be able to learn about customs, skills and ceremonies of the Traditional Owners. These week long tours include a women's only tour and homeland adventure.
www.lirrwitourism.com.au/experience

Outback Tour Services

  • Adventure Rentals - Outback Tour Services are proud to offer the opportunity to hire a fully equipped modern 4×4 vehicle – setting you free to explore. The vehicles are fully equipped with all the camping gear and safety equipment required. All you need is a valid driver's licence and a sense of adventure. The friendly staff (who are all 4×4 enthusiasts) will give you advice on where to explore, show you the best camping spots and even pack your built in fridge with all the food you need.
  • Disability Tours- Outback Tour Services offer tailored charter tours for up to nine people at a time. The modern, purpose-built vehicle can take one wheelchair passenger who remains in their wheelchair as well as another who can transfer to a seat. There is a wide variety of camping options from bush camping to “Safari in Style” camping with permanent tents. As they tour in remote areas, they also have a purpose built “off-road wheelchair” to enable you to track through riverbeds and rough terrain as well as go for a swim in one of the fantastic waterholes in the Western MacDonnell Ranges. www.outbacktourservices.com.au

Nitmiluk Cultural Safari

Nitmiluk Tours
Nitmiluk Tours and Cicada Lodge have launched a new small group safari cruise product on Nitmiluk Gorge. The Nitmiluk Cultural Safari series combines the exclusivity of small group touring with the authentic cultural interpretations of the Jawoyn people to create a new safari style cruise on Nitmiluk Gorge which gives a personalised and intimate view into the history and culture of the traditional custodians and of the ancient landscapes of the Gorge. 

The Nitmiluk Cultural Safaris series offers three options for a maximum of 8 guests in a covered flat-bottomed safari boat visiting exclusive and spectacularly scenic sites along the gorge system with commentary at each location from a local guide's perspective. These safaris are not only educational but also interactive and can include basket weaving, Didj playing, spear throwing and storytelling.
www.nitmiluktours.com.au

Culinary Delights in NSW

Sydney
Acclaimed chefs, great produce and stunning locations combined with a laid-back lifestyle give Sydney’s food and wine culture a unique flavour of its own. You’ll discover a myriad of unforgettable dining options including restaurants with harbour or beach views, neighbourhoods dedicated to multicultural flavours, aromatic native bush flavours and new dining precincts.

One of the most anticipated openings for the year is Bennelong, a new restaurant at the iconic Sydney Opera House which opens in early July 2015. With one of Australia’s most celebrated chefs Peter Gilmore at the helm, Bennelong will showcase the flavour, diversity and sheer quality of Australian produce. It has given the much-awarded chef an exciting platform to develop a new creative expression of his signature style, one that is simpler, produce-driven and in synch with the relaxed dining environment.

Sydney’s Quay restaurant has been listed at number 58 on the coveted S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list with Sepia debuting on the list for the first time in 2015 at number 84 and named as ‘one to watch’. A respected group of more than 900 of the world's top chefs and food critics judged the placing’s which were announced at an awards ceremony in London.

Situated in the back streets of Surry Hills and housed within a 1911-heritage building on Mary Street, Firedoor is Lennox Hastie’s much-anticipated new restaurant featuring an open kitchen that centres around custom-made wood-fired ovens, grills and an Australian-made Aga. Hastie spent five years working at Etxebarri in Spain where he was inspired by a strong tradition of wood-fired grilling over an open flame. Also in Surry Hills, Nelly Robinson’s new restaurant Nel, is located near Central Station in the basement of Central Station Hotel. Inspired by working with acclaimed chef Nigel Howarth (Michelin-starred Northcote Manor, UK), Nel’s menu showcases the best seasonal produce with a monthly changing seasonal degustation menu.

Pier One Sydney Harbour’s new restaurant The Gantry are hosting a series of NSW produce driven dinners. In June, they’re showcasing the famed Orange region, partnering their local four-course set menu with matched wines from Swinging Bridge Wines.

Australia’s oldest wine region, the Hunter Valley, just two hours’ drive from Sydney produces great wines and even greater winemakers, with some family dynasties stretching back six generations. Now home to more than 150 wineries, the Hunter Valley draws visitors from around Australia and the globe, with the promise of a taste of the good life. Enjoy the perfect escape, whether you’re being pampered in one of the valley’s day spas, teeing off from a championship golf course or enjoying panoramic views from an early morning hot air balloon ride. EXP Restaurant has opened to rave reviews, with local chef Frank Faulkner delivering an exceptional menu using the best local produce from the region and an equally exciting wine list.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Tasmanian Backpacker Tour Operator Goes National

Jump Tours
Jump Tours Founder and Managing Director, Greg Price, today announced that new destinations will soon be offered by the popular Tasmanian tour operator.

"With our award winning tours in Tasmania being well established, in 2013 we began working on branching out to other areas of the country," Mr Price said. "In keeping with our philosophy of making more destinations affordable for budget conscious customers, we began operating a 3 Day Kakadu & Litchfield tour from Darwin in May 2014, with a sharp starting price under $400. The idea was to offer a two wheel drive product, keeping costs down while getting guests out to the fantastic sites of Gunlom Falls, Ubirr, Nourlangie & Litchfield National Park."

Mr Price has revealed that a range of new destinations are under consideration as the company continues to grow strongly. "We are up 60% on pax numbers this year, with an expanded fleet giving us more opportunities to grow our product offering. We already operate in the far North and far South of the country, so it's time to fill in some of the gaps. At this point we are looking at destinations in Victoria & Queensland. As usual, our focus will be on areas with strong natural attractions that perhaps need more bang for buck in their product mix."

Jump Tours has been on a role for a number of years, winning Best Tour in Tasmania at the Golden Backpack Awards in 2011, 2012 & 2013, followed by the inaugural Adventure Travel Award for Best Tour in Tasmania in 2014. Jump also won the Telstra Business Award for Best Micro Business in Tasmania in 2013. In 2012 Greg picked up two big personal accolades as Tasmanian Entrepreneur of the Year and the Tourism Minister's Young Achiever of the Year Award.

Mary Poppins Magic Returns! Chim Chiminy, Chim Chiminy, Chim Chim Chiree

Mary Poppins 
Visitors to the Fraser Coast will be swept up in the magic of Mary Poppins this July when Queensland's most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious festival fills the town of Maryborough with its magic. Now in its 8th year this eclectic festival is held in honour of the Maryborough born author of Mary Poppins, Pamela Travers, whose story was brought to life recently in the Disney production, Saving Mr Banks.

This quirky festival transforms the heritage streetscapes of Maryborough into Cherry Tree Lane of the Poppins novels and characters come to life, including Mary Poppins and Admiral Boom, who fires his time cannon throughout the day. In 2014, LA Times listed Maryborough's Mary Poppins Festival as one of the world's best 'off beat' events not to be missed, and we couldn't agree more. Highlights of the day include:
  • Dress up in your finest and bring your most amazing hat or umbrella to join in the Grand Parade.
  • Enjoy a cuppa maybe with that spoonful of sugar and the performances by talented locals at the Mary Morning Tea concert.
  • Witness the madcap Great Nanny Challenge, where participants dress up in traditional nanny uniform and push a traditional pram, complete with a traditional 'baby'. (Note: No 'babies' are harmed in the making of this race)
  • The call is also out for people to dress up and take part in the hilarious Chimney Sweep Challenge for the young and young at heart. Remember when you're with a 'sweep, you're in glad company'. 
  • A special focus this year is on interactive craft experiences for the kids and there will be loads of children's workshops filled with hands-on, creative sessions involving puppets, circus troupes, arty umbrellas, vintage styling makeovers and more.

The Mary Poppins Festival has also acted as the catalyst for the introduction of Fraser Coast Street Life, a festival that celebrates the inspiring art, culture and heritage of the region. The inaugural Street Life Festival will take art and culture 'to the streets'. From pop-up gigs and busking competitions, to chalk art in the street and Mary Poppins: the Musical - Fraser Coast Street life is an eclectic assembly of the region's culture and art.

Maryborough 'The Heritage city' is 284 km north-west of Brisbane, about 3 hours' drive by car but can be reached by train, plane bus or car. More information on Maryborough and accommodation options head to visit: www.visitfrasercoast.com

So pull out the umbrella and head to http://www.marypoppinsfestival.com.au/ for more information.

Australian Air Holidays Launches Into Inbound

Australian Air Holidays
Australian Air Holidays has unveiled new flightseeing tours aboard private charter aircraft, touring spectacular iconic parts of Australia and areas seldom seen by tourists.

Flying “low and slow” over many famous scenic landmarks of Australia including the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road and Kangaroo Island, Australian Air Holidays offers the ultimate Australian adventure.

“Our main charter aircraft is the high wing Fokker 50, perfect for scenic viewing with up to 46 passengers. The views are breathtaking as the aircraft can often fly as low as 2,000 feet,” Australian Air Holidays Manager David Hayward says.

“Through our charter flights, the distances of travelling this vast continent are greatly reduced. Holidaymakers can see more of Australia and enjoy greater relaxation time instead of sitting on coaches or driving for hours on end.”

Flightseeing touring options 1 April 2016 – 31 March 2017

Eight-day premium itinerary ex Melbourne to Cairns aboard a private charter Fokker 50 aircraft including accommodation, meals and tours.

Departing Essendon Airport, highlights include low altitude flights along Victoria's Great Ocean Road and past the Twelve Apostles to Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

Experience guided tours of Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch, Seal Bay while enjoying wildlife encounters with koalas and kangaroos and visit Andermel Marron Farm.

The tour then continues to the outback town of Coober Pedy, the Opal Capital of the world, and on to the spiritual heart of Australia – Uluru.

Head to Birdsville on the edge of the Simpson Desert before venturing into Queensland to the historic outback town, Longreach. Depart Australia's outback and discover a tropical paradise at Queensland's Airlie Beach, the Whitsunday Islands. Fly along the Great Barrier Reef to Cairns and more.

The tour and all-inclusive fares cost from $9,495 ex Melbourne per person, twin share.

Four-day premium itinerary Cape York and Torres Strait Islands ex Cairns flying by private charter aboard a Fokker 50 aircraft plus accommodation, meals and tours.

Departing Cairns Airport, discover Cape York, one of Australia's great unspoilt wilderness areasand enjoy the stunning Cape York “Tip of Australia' walk. Here visitors can stand in front of the official tip of Australia signpost for a unique photo opportunity.

Then travel to the unspoilt paradise of Thursday Island and explore the beautiful Torres Strait Islands including Horn Island, indulging in local seafood, visiting historic Cooktown and more.

The tour departs 10 June, 22 July, 26 August, 30 September, 14 October 2016, all-inclusive fares cost from $4,725 ex Cairns per person, twin share.

For more information visit www.australianairholidays.com

NSW SET FOR TOURISM BOOM

NSW
NSW is poised for a tourism boom, with a record $176 million allocated to tourism and major events in the NSW 2015-16 Budget. Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said Destination NSW would administer the allocation to support tourism, major events and business events.

“This includes $93 million to secure major arts, entertainment and sports events and $51 million to grow tourism across the State,” he said.

The 2015-16 budget allocation incorporates the additional $127 million over four years that the NSW Government earmarked for the sector as part of its election commitments, with events a clear catalyst for boosting overnight visitation. The additional funding represents an extra $73 million over the next four years to embed Sydney as the number one destination for major events in Australia, including $22 million to bring more world class events to Western Sydney.

The additional funding will also see Regional NSW benefit from an additional $40 million over four years to grow tourism as well as $9 million to target overseas visitors from the priority international markets identified in the Visitor Economy Industry Action Plan. Tourism and major events are key to sustaining and growing the NSW economy. In the year ending September 2014, the visitor economy was worth $28 billion to the NSW economy and was a source of 159,000 jobs.

“This budget uplift increases the State’s ability to deliver innovative tourism promotions and secure world class events for NSW to drive results that contribute to the Government’s goal of doubling overnight visitor expenditure in NSW by 2020,” Mr Ayres said.

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts opened in ancient capital of Anhui Province

Hefei
Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts announced the opening of its latest hotel in China in Hefei, a city founded as a county seat in the Qin Dynasty between China’s largest river, the Yangtze River, and the freshwater Chaohu Lake. Built to complement the striking structures, which form the modern skyline of Hefei, the 27-storey Shangri-La hotel is centrally located on Suixi Road and to both the commercial area and leisure attractions.

A new landmark in the city, Shangri-La Hotel, Hefei brings the group’s famous hospitality from the heart to Anhui province that is over 2,200 years old and home to the Huangshan Mountain Range – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, the hotel offers the brand’s guest-centred technology of free Wi-Fi in the property and its limousines and paperless check-in, while establishing a destination for the community to appreciate design elements and culinary creations inspired by the local Hui culture.

Welcoming guests are 401 guestrooms that afford expansive views of the urban landscape and range in size from 45 to 135 square metres. Full-length windows and elegant landscape features – namely mountains, flowers and streaming rivers – found typically in Chinese paintings, are fused with the room interior of soft beige tones. A well-appointed bathroom and large desk space enhance the convenience to entertain or enjoy the space at leisure.

Situated on the highest floors of Shangri-La Hotel, Hefei are its spacious Executive and Speciality Suites that are fitted with plush living and sleeping spaces, and large windows overlooking the city. Marble-clad bathrooms include a separate bath, walk-in shower and television.

Aside from panoramic views of Hefei, suite and Horizon Club guests can enjoy extra privileges at the Horizon Club Lounge on level 27 of the hotel including express check-in and check-out, complimentary breakfast buffet, all-day refreshments and evening cocktails, and full concierge service.

Dining at the hotel is an opportunity to try cuisines from talented chefs at the restaurants and lounge. Chinese restaurant Yang Zi Xuan (literally meaning a ‘dining hall in the Yangtze delta’) serves specialties from different provinces of China in a setting styled with lattice screens, cosy banquettes and murals. From Northern China dim sum to hot pot to family sharing dishes, the menu presents diners with the season’s freshest ingredients. Nine dining rooms are available for private gatherings.

At Café Wan, diners are treated to a food theatre-style concept serving Western, Chinese, Japanese, South East Asian and local cuisines, and choices from the à la carte menu. Chefs at work in the glass-encased kitchens provide all-day dining and a multi-sensory experience.

On the lobby level of the hotel, beautiful chandeliers set a relaxing scene at the Lobby Lounge with vast windows that look out onto a manicured garden. Comfortable seating cater for gatherings over snacks and afternoon tea, while live entertainment and cocktails change the pace in the evening.

An all-inclusive CHI, The Spa offers a range of wellness and massage remedies based on ancient healing philosophies. Guided by a personal therapist, each guest experiences a wellness journey within the sanctuary that is configured to maximise privacy and includes two double and five single spa suites, a spacious relaxation lounge for use pre or post treatment, as well as the comforts of a herbal steam and shower.

Whether guests are after a vigorous workout or an easy-paced regime, the multi-purpose equipment at the 24-hour Health Club suit all fitness levels. Personal training sessions, a 25-metre indoor pool, Jacuzzi, steam and sauna room, and a beauty salon are further offered.

Lavish weddings and banquets can be accommodated at the hotel’s 1,400 square-metre pillarless Grand Ballroom that exudes splendour in the finer details and crystal chandeliers. Capable of holding 900 persons, the space is the ultimate celebratory venue with natural daylight, exceptional technology and facilities to create bespoke events. Providing support are a well-equipped business centre and eight other function rooms, with city views, to host smaller-scale gatherings and meetings.

An introductory rate of RMB550, plus 15 per cent service charge, is available until 7 October 2015. The opening offer includes accommodation in a Deluxe Room, dining credit and triple Golden Circle Award Points for Shangri-La’s Golden Circle members.

Visitors to Shangri-La Hotel, Hefei can arrive via the Xinqiao International Airport, Hefei Railway Station or the Hefei South Railway Station, which are approximately within a half hours’ drive to the hotel. The cities of Nanjing and Shanghai are an hour and three hours away respectively by high-speed train.

Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, one of the world’s premier hotel companies, currently owns and/or manages more than 90 hotels under the Shangri-La brand with a room inventory of over 38,000. Over four decades the group has established its brand hallmark of ‘hospitality from the heart’. The group has a substantial development pipeline with upcoming projects in Mainland China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Myanmar, Philippines, Qatar and Sri Lanka.

Transparent Night Kayaking on Moreton Island

Moreton Island
Moreton Island Get Wrecked Tours Australian Sunset Safaris has officially launched our Moreton Island 1 and 2 Days Tours departing from Gold Coast and Brisbane.

On our 1-day tour, you have the opportunity to explore the Tangalooma Shipwrecks by snorkeling or paddling in our TRANSPARENT kayaks! For the extreme adventure lovers, you can find yourself travelling speeds of up to 70km/h while sandboarding down huge Sand-dune slopes at the Desert on Moreton Island

For those who haven't been to Moreton Island, it is a place of turquoise blue ocean waters filled with a vast array of marine animals and coral. A tour around Cape Moreton lighthouse takes you to a fantastic lookout where we regularly spot marine animals such as turtles, mantra rays, sharks and Humpback Whales. The whale watching season is fast approaching our doorsteps so look out for the migrating pack while you enjoy the view from the headland.

Transparent Night Kayaking

If you choose an overnight stay, you can also experience Moreton Islands most SPECTACULAR ACTIVITY EVER! Sunset Safaris is proud to present our NIGHT KAYAKING experience around Tangalooma Shipwrecks. With super bright LED lights illuminating everything under your transparent kayak, you will be BLOWN AWAY by the colour of the Corals and marine life dancing under the sea at night! It is definitely the main highlight of the tour, and an experience of a lifetime.

The Ring Of Fire

Vanuatu
Lush tropical forest, white sand beaches, a warm and benign climate and a myriad of lovely boutique resorts graciously nestled in dream locations, have combined to turn Vanuatu into a main tourism destination. But Vanuatu has so much more. Vanuatu is indeed, unique -with a capital U.

Its ancient culture is still alive and well, with villages practising their kastom rituals as they did a thousand years ago. Ceremonies in which people clothed in grass and feathers wildly stamp the ground, villages made of bamboo and natangora, jungle that has not been grown in a pot… There are an abundance of spectacles in these islands, which are not ‘staged’ for the benefit of the tourist.

Perhaps even more spectacular yet, under Vanuatu’s soil, a battle of tensions is being fought, as pressure builds and finds release, a young land still breathing fire. Vanuatu is teaming with active volcanos, every one of them different, mesmerising, dangerous and beautiful.

For those unfamiliar with Vanuatu’s volcanic world, Mount Yasur in Tanna is the only name that may come to mind. Yasur has been active for a long time, and with its beauty, dramatic lava bombs blowing high up into the air and easy access, has taken much of the volcanic spotlight and the tourism dollar.

Of late, the country has seen two newcomers jumping onto the scene and diverting some attention away from Yasur; Marum and Benbow, located on the island of Ambrym. As with Yasur, both of these volcanos are spectacular, with their lakes bubbling glowing red-hot lava, perfectly visible from the top of their crater. Unlike Yasur (reachable by 4WD to the bottom and an easy short trek to the crater), Marum and Benbow require a full day trek through the jungle, followed by a long walk across the volcanic ash plane to reach the crater. Once there, be prepared to bear witness to the power of Mother Nature.

Vanuatu
Vanuatu’s volcanic underworld is prolific. It has active volcanos on nine different islands and many more dormant and extinct volcanos. The exact number of volcanoes is impossible to tell, as they lie hidden in the jungle and under the ocean. Vanuatu sits on the ‘Ring of Fire’ around the rim of the Pacific tectonic plate, one of the planet’s most active zones; most of Vanuatu’s islands are the result of volcanic activity in the last few million years.

We are standing right now, on moving ground and the earth below you is being pushed, lifted and generally shaken. Although Yasur, Marum and Benbow have been active for a while, they are generally stable, bubbling and spewing rocks away, releasing tension in a generally orderly fashion.

There are other active volcanos however, that behave in a more temperamental and unpredictable fashion. It was not very long ago that Manaro Vui, in Ambae, decided it was time to shake things a little. The biggest active volcano in Vanuatu, its summit has two concentric calderas, the smaller one containing three lakes. The volcano had ferocious eruptions around 420 years ago and again 300 and 120 years ago. Because of the lakes in its caldera, and the chemical reactions that could occur between water and magma, Manaro Vui is considered the most dangerous of Vanuatu’s volcanos. Back in 2005, the volcano surprised us with smoke coming from its crater. Small eruptions ensued with a change in the colour of the water in the lake in 2006 and further small eruptions in 2011. At present, activity remains constant although stable and the alert is level one.
Vanuatu
Volcanoes are no doubt, unpredictable and dormant volcanoes can awaken at any time. This was the case of Mont-Garet, in Gaua, in the Banks Islands, which in 1962 decided to wake up after a long period of inactivity and at the end of 2009 made its voice heard with more violent eruptions. The ocean turned red and people from neighbouring islands had to be evacuated. It destroyed many food gardens and the people from the Banks are still suffering the repercussions of a relatively small-scale eruption.

Other currently active volcanoes in Vanuatu are Lopevi, on the inhabited island of Lopevi and Suretamatai, in Vanuatu Lava, Banks.

Vanuatu also has a number of active submarine volcanoes with currently four of then known. One of then is Mount Gemini, which last erupted in 1977. The submarine volcano Kuwae which last erupted in 1973, is responsible for splitting, back in 1453, what once was the big island of Karua, into the current islands of Epi and Tongoa.
Vanuatu
With so much activity on the volcano front, is there anybody really watching and trying to keep us safe? This is the job of the Vanuatu Geohazards division, part of the Vanuatu Meteo and Geohazards Department; the first and only centre in the Pacific that integrates weather, tsunamis, volcanoes and earthquake departments under the same roof, with a tight exchange and sharing of real-time information between all divisions. Since 2006, the department has received the attention and funding it deserves, with new equipment and a team of dedicated experts whose job is, firstly, to keep the population safe by early detection of any geo hazards and secondly, to gather information and continue further research.

At present, the department is incorporating a new earthquake and tsunami detection system that records sea level variations and will incorporate sirens and other alert systems in case of tsunami. The centre monitors all of Vanuatu’s active volcanoes, with live webcams and stations in six of them. “Before 2011, Vanuatu did not have monitoring stations at the site of the volcanoes. So the only data we had was that compiled by research teams while visiting specific volcanoes under different research programs. Hence data was patchy at best and none-existent at worst,” explains Esline Garaebiti, manager of Vanuatu Geohazards division. With a BSc in vulcanology and geology, and not one, but two Masters in geology of land management, seismology, earthquake engineering and disaster mitigation, this strong woman surely knows her field. As one of the most highly educated women in the country, Esline is also a fantastic role model for young girls and an example of what one can accomplish regardless of gender.

Vanuatu
The potential disastrous consequences of the Ambae eruption in 2005, prompted a change in legislation and more funds being directed to the modernisation of the Geohazards division. With funding from New Zealand Aid as well as the help of the French Embassy, New Caledonian Government, GEF and GFDRR (Global Fund for Disaster Risk Reduction), the Geohazards division installed its first live webcam and monitoring station in 2012. Now, the division has webcams and stations on the main active volcanoes, Marum, Benbow, Yasur, Lopevi, Manaro, Mount Garet and Suretanatai. The set up looks impressive, with screens showing live images of the volcanoes and graphics depicting real life data. Sylvain Todman, Geohazards division’s technical adviser since 2008, shows me around the screens, pointing out what each thing means. From tiny seismic movements to a range of weather information happening Pacific-wide, it is high-tech no doubt and the department is proud to be at the leading edge of geo hazards reporting data in the Pacific.
Vanuatu
The stations not only serve to quickly alert of any emergency that could eventuate but also, the data collected will allow the division to study the behaviour of volcanoes and better predict in the future, the scale and risk of any volcanic activity. One of the challenges that the centre has undertaken in the last decade is convincing villages to follow the centres’ advice in case of an event. Until not long ago, villagers living close to volcanoes relied only on their own visual knowledge and experience of the volcano to make any decision pertinent to when and if they should evacuate an area. Visual information, although informative, is of course, not as accurate as the data that the centre now receives. Convincing villages and chiefs to, for example, move away under the advice of the department, before they see any significant change, has taken some work. During the past decade, Esline has travelled to these areas frequently, holding meetings with villagers and their chiefs, to explain the role of the centre. As a scientist and a woman, persuading chiefs was challenging to say the least. With time however, she and her team have managed to win the confidence of the villages that live ‘under the volcanos’. Vanuatu’s volcanoes, at once dangerous and beautiful, will continue to mystify and mesmerise us all, forever reminding us that we never really were the earth’s masters.

(Source: Island Life Magazine Vanuatu 29 May 2015 Issue 19)

Thai Ministers Officially Open Thailand's First Wyndham-Branded Resort

Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort Phuket
The introduction of the first Wyndham-branded property in South East Asia was celebrated last night at the official opening ceremony in Phuket, Thailand, attended by prominent Thai ministers and members of the local tourism and hospitality industry.

Mrs Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mr Pornchai Rujiprapa, Minister of Information and Communication Technology and Mr Sommai Phasee, Minister of Finance welcomed the world's largest hotel company, Wyndham Hotel Group, to Thailand with the opening of Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort Phuket.

The resort will contribute to the growing tourism industry in Thailand, providing first-class accommodation and facilities to domestic and international tourists and the company's signature Count On Me! service, that comes with being part of the globally recognised hotel company.

Wyndham Hotel Group will continue to invest in the local economy with the recruitment of local companies and contractors to complete refurbishment works set to begin later this year.

Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort Phuket will operate as a mixed-use property for the use of hotel guests and CLUB WYNDHAM ASIA® members. It is the latest addition to the extensive Wyndham Vacation Ownership portfolio, including more than 200 vacation ownership resorts across North and Central America and the South Pacific.

“We are very excited to welcome Wyndham Hotel Group to Phuket, Thailand and we believe the introduction of this rapidly expanding global hotel company is further proof that Thailand has the potential to be the top tourism hub in the Asia region,” said Mrs Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports.

“We are one of several countries across Asia working to open up more opportunity for international tourism in the region and we are delighted to have such a globally recognised brand like Wyndham join us as we embark on a new era of tourism for the country.”

Barry Robinson, President and Managing Director of Wyndham Hotel Group South East Asia and Pacific Rim said the opening of Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort Phuket was a significant milestone for the company.

“The launch of our first Wyndham-branded property in Thailand is an important step in the growth of our Wyndham Hotel Group brands in South East Asia and the Pacific Rim, which is set to continue across the region in the coming months and years,” Mr Robinson said.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Sea Pearl Group to strengthen our presence in Thailand and I believe that Phuket is the perfect fit for our vacation club members and hotel guests as one of South East Asia's tourism hot spots.”

The sleek, contemporary resort, which was constructed in 2011, is idealy positioned a short distance to Patong Beach and will be marketed to families and couples who are looking for a more tranquil holiday option in Phuket, but still close to all of the major attractions.

Located on 16 acres of hillside, the property boasts views of the Andaman Sea and onsite facilities including four restaurants and bars, a multipurpose hall for meetings and events with catering and a five-star day spa offering a range of lavish treatments. There is also a fitness centre with a 35-metre lap pool, fully-equipped gym, yoga room, kids' club and free shuttle bus services.

Managing Director of Sea Pearl Group, Mr Sitikorn Soontornnont said, “We are thrilled to be partnering with the world's largest hotel group with its introduction into Thailand. We are certain that the globally-recognised Wyndham brand will be a perfect fit for the sleek and sophisticated style Wyndham Sea Pearl Resort Phuket offers.”

For more information visit www.wyndhamap.com/hotels/seapearlphuket

The Margaret River Region to Welcome Interstate Flights

Busselton Regional Airport
Interstate visitors will soon be able to fly direct to Busselton in Western Australia's Margaret River Region, following a significant airport funding announcement from the State Government on the weekend.

Premier Colin Barnett and Regional Development Minister Terry Redman were in Busselton to announce the new $59.7 million Busselton Regional Airport project, made possible with $45.9 million from the State Government's Royalties for Regions program, $10 million from the Department of Transport, $3.5 million from the City of Busselton and $300,000 from the South West Development Commission.

This significant injection of funds enables the commencement of Stage 2 of the Busselton Regional Airport Masterplan, encompassing expansion of the airport's runway to cater for 737 and A320 jet aircraft and expansion of the existing airport car park and terminal.

These upgrades will enable regular direct flights to and from the Eastern States and, in due course, some Asian destinations.

Mr Redman said the expanded airport would be a game changer for tourism in the region and he was pleased to see Royalties for Regions, through the Growing our South initiative, facilitating new economic and business opportunities in the South-West.

"The South-West is one of our premier tourism regions, with events such as the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, Drug Aware Pro and Cinefest Oz supported through the State Government's Regional Events Program," Mr Redman said.

"Direct flights from the east coast will take tourism in the South-West to a new level," he said.

Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association CEO Pip Close affirmed the Association was thrilled with the funding announcement.

"The Busselton Regional Airport upgrade has been highly anticipated by the industry as the catalyst to increase visitation to the Margaret River Region," said Ms Close.

"This will vastly improve accessibility to the region and open up our extraordinary destination to the interstate market," she said.

"We are extremely grateful to the State Government, the Department of Transport, the City of Busselton and the South West Development Commission for funding this exciting project, and we look forward to working with these stakeholders towards the successful completion of the project," she said.

The Busselton Regional Airport upgrade is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

CinéfestOZ

CinefestOZ 
CinefestOZ will take place over five days in August, showcasing some of the best Australian and French films, as well as filmmaker forums, film premiers, free community screenings and gala events. 

Cinefest OZ boasts the nation's richest film prize of $100,000 for an Australian feature film, a major drawcard for the diverse pool of talent.

Set in the seaside centres of Busselton, Bunbury, Dunsborough and the Margaret River wine region, CinéfestOZ premieres feature films and events in the region’s cinemas, wineries, small bars and galleries, making it a feast for the senses and an unforgettable five-day getaway.

CineféstOZ has consolidated its position as the premiere destination film festival in Australia with record numbers of high calibre film guests, a sensational line-up of new Australian and French films and unprecedented audience numbers.

In 2014, CinéfestOZ highlights included:
  • Over 200 public screenings of Australian and French feature films, documentaries and short films
  • 104 free community screenings
  • Film-related events, open to the public and ranging from Red Carpet premiere gala nights to intimate short film screenings in cosy bars
  • Forums with filmmakers and cast members through Q&As and ‘In-Conversation’ events
  • The $100,000 CinéfestOZ Film Prize will be awarded to an Australian film entered for selection at CinéfestOZ
  • Filmmaking workshops for public participation
  • Seven screen industry workshops held in conjunction with ScreenWest, Screen Australia and the South West Development Commission (SWDC)
  • Cine-Snaps schools program will attract 2500 South West school children to its film incursions and excursions, workshops and a Short Film competition
  • A CinéfestOZ Screen Legend is awarded to an Australian actor or filmmaker of international repute.
We welcome you to stay in touch by subscribing to our Box Office newsletter (see right of this page), where you can keep track of exciting announcements in the lead up to the Festival Week 26-30 August 2015.

The full festival program and ticketing goes LIVE 1 August 2015.

As a production of Geographe French Australian Festivals Incorporated, the CinéfestOZ film festival is a not for profit event, produced by its Board of Directors.

August 26-30
Bunbury and the Margaret River region, Australia's South West
www.cinefestoz.com

Auswalk, Unplug and Explore the Healthy Way

Fraser Island
The answer to why people choose one holiday over another is ultimately how they think it will make them feel during and after. You can never really know the answer to that without actually experiencing the holiday, but you can make considered choices that reflect your desired outcome. If your passion is about authentic exploration, about unplugging and reconnection, to have a deeper experience of a destination, so that in the end you perhaps triumphed, had some fun and ultimately the experience has left you feeling better than you did before you started; then with an Auswalk walking holiday you have come to the right place.

Auswalk takes a slow approach to landscapes, gradually rendering them familiar, not unlike those regular encounters that strengthen friendship. They support the true art of walking, the art of sauntering, to amble or to wander in order to deepen the relationship with the environment and oneself.

We know people walk for various reasons, the list is lengthy. According to the owner Brett Neagle, Auswalk took the time to ask them why they walked and they responded as you expect in various ways. However he went on to say that the common thread was that walking reminded people of the possibility and prospect of being free, travelling light, with just a day pack, free if you will of the grasping and doing that makes up a large part of our lives, they felt that they got to rediscover the simple joy of just being. This was an opportunity to take the time, to be grateful and savour the privilege that we have to walk and to breath in the incredible Australian landscapes, rather than what is the norm in this industry, to rush from one destination to another looking through a viewfinder. A chance to stop and marvel at the beauty of the day, the sun, the trees, the sea all without any of the normal daily intrusions.

The company has slowly evolved over this last year, made changes to the 'packaging' and made some upgrades adding some new accommodations. But the fabulous itineraries, bar a couple of new trips, and the people delivering them have largely remained the same. My impression is that the emphasis still remains on what is important, fun and the safety of the guests, always with the guarantee that with Auswalk's 20 years of experience, the best possible walking holiday will be provided, seamlessly organised and something that travellers could never repeat on their own.

Great Ocean Road
Auswalk are Australia's walking holiday specialist offering authentic outdoor adventure in comfort and style. Auswalk offer over forty walking holidays covering every state in Australia. They include superlative landscapes like the South West Cape, Tasmania, the Red Centre, the Top End, the Flinders Ranges, Kangaroo Island, the Australian Alps , Carnarvon Gorge, the Grampians, the Great Ocean Road, Fraser Island, Tasmania, and Australia's Pacific Coast .

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

Welcome to LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort!

LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort
LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort brings together a LEGOLAND Park, Water Park and Hotel in one LEGO® themed location. It is a family holiday destination with more than 70 hands-on rides, slides, shows and attractions. Almost everything is hands-on, so you can push, pedal and program, or steer, squirt and splash, your way through a truly interactive experience – and of course there’s building too.

LEGOLAND® Malaysia Resort has seven themed areas of attractions for all ages such as The Beginning, LEGO® Technic, LEGO Kingdoms, Imagination, LEGO City, Land of Adventure and MINILAND. It’s an inspirational land where the children are the heroes. From LEGO experiment centres to rollercoasters, the park is a day-long voyage of discovery for all the family.

The centrepiece is MINILAND, where Asian landmarks have been recreated using more than 30 million LEGO bricks. It’s an interactive world on a scale of 1:20, where people, trains and aeroplanes come to life at the touch of a button.

LEGOLAND Water Park which can be enjoyed seperately or in combination with the theme park has more than 20 slides and water based attractions and boasts 70 LEGO models. Highlights of this unique LEGO themed water park are:

Joker Soaker

A fun interactive play structure in the wade pool where children can aim water cannons at one another. But watch out: The huge bucket will pour 350 gallons upon everyone every few minutes.

Build-A-Raft

A unique concept where children can customize their own raft made from LEGO soft bricks before floating down the lazy river.

LEGO Wave Pool

Families can ride the waves or simply cool off in this wave pool where swimmers of all ages will enjoy making a splash.

Coffee Trends Brewing in Melbourne

Code Black Coffee
Melbourne is known globally for its coffee culture with more than 2000 cafés to choose from as well as some of the world's best baristas. From cold-drip, siphon, nitro and pour over, boutique varieties of milk or no milk at all – caffeine connoisseurs can experience all the latest brew styles and trends in Melbourne. The challenge is stopping at just one cup.

Cold-drip

Cold-drip coffee is painstakingly prepared one drop at a time to produce a subtle taste, with low acidity and bitterness. Housed in a converted warehouse in South Melbourne, St Ali is one of the best places to try this brew. Back in central Melbourne, Krimper and Manchester Press are also top spots to taste it.

Nitro coffee

The latest trend in cold coffee, Nitro coffee is brewed 500 litres at a time, then filtered and charged with nitrogen to enhance the bubbles. It is then poured into kegs, ready to serve over ice. Try it at Axil Coffee Roasters in Hawthorn or Aunty Peg's in Collingwood.

Pour-over

Pour-over coffee is created via a gentle process of pouring hot water over coarsely ground coffee grains that are sitting in filter paper. It produces a light, subtle brew that is then chilled. Milk lovers can opt for an iced latte or an espresso shake served with vanilla ice cream. Assembly Coffee in Carlton is a great place to try pour-over coffee, as is Seven Seeds, also in Carlton; Dukes on Flinders Lane; and League of Honest Coffee in Exploration Lane.

Siphon

The production of Siphon coffee is quite theatrical; it is brewed using a hot water vacuum system. The team at Collingwood's Proud Mary serves up a top notch siphon brew as does Plantation Café in Melbourne Central.

Simple menus

Some on the scene are recognising a need to strip their menus back to basics. The leader of this trend is Patricia, hidden away on Little Bourke Street, where there are just three menu options: black, white and filter, and just one size to choose from. Reverting to the Italian tradition, this café has standing room only.

Back to black filter coffee

Some say that coffee without milk better highlights the taste of the coffee. Light style roasting gives the coffee a more tea like experience taking out the bitterness of the bean and allowing the full flavours of the origin of the bean to come through. Top Paddock and Kettle Black are leading this trend as well as Collingwood roasting house and sample brew bar Aunty Peg's which serves only black coffee.

Boutique milk

Meanwhile, latte lovers can rest assured that there are plenty of cafés offering an ever-increasing range of boutique milks including: milk sourced direct from the farm, soy, almond, and coconut and almond. League of Honest Coffee is a leader in this trend, as is Industry Beans in Fitzroy.

Coffee Tours

Those who would like to know more about Melbourne's thriving café culture can explore the city with one of several walking tours showcasing coffee. Melbourne Coffee Tour, run by barista judge and coffee connoisseur Maria Paoli, showcases the city's cafés and provide information about popular brewing methods and Melbourne's café culture history. Hidden Secrets Walking Tours also offers a Café Culture tour highlights Melbourne's hidden away food and coffee scene, as does Walk Melbourne with its Coffee Tours.