Monday, 31 August 2015

Northern Territory involves visitors in tourism campaign

Giant helium balloons will promote the famous Mindil Beach Markets and encourage locals and visitors to become ambassadors for Northern Territory tourism on social media as part of a two-week Tourism NT campaign.

Chief Minister and Tourism Minister Adam Giles said the giant balloons would help increase awareness of Tourism NT’s official hashtag – #NTAustralia and encourage market goers to use it when uploading their photos to social media.

“This type of advocacy is extremely valuable and a cost effective way of marketing the Northern Territory,” he said.

“When people use Tourism NT’s hashtag – #NTAustralia – they give permission to Tourism NT’s Instagram page, @AusOutbackNT, to share their photos to a collective audience of over 450,000 individuals from all over the world on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

“People who share their photos through #NT Australia have a genuine love for the Territory and want to share their positive NT holiday experience.

“This new promotion will encourage locals and visitors to use the hashtag more regularly while on the ground experiencing the Northern Territory.

“Tourism NT’s social media team regularly search the hashtag on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to repost the best photos, with the images providing inspiration to Australians and international travellers to visit and Do the NT for themselves.”

Mr Giles said the new promotion comes on the back of the new It’s About Time…Do The NT campaign, which is running across the country to encourage Australians to book a holiday to the Northern Territory before it’s too late.

“Tourism is the Territory’s largest employer, providing jobs for around 16,000 people, and we want the industry to grow even further to help develop our regions, boost local businesses and create even more job opportunities,” he said.

Kids Free in March at Niseko

There's very good Niseko-based packages from SkiJapan.com during March and April. Adults get a 20% discount and Kids 12 and under qualify for Free ski lifts passes plus Free snow rental equipment.

Two options with a discount that must be booked by 31 October are:

  • Seven nights at Powder Cottage in the heart of Hirafu Main Village. This multi-level, three bedroom apartment is ideal for families or small groups of skiers or snowboarders. Also included is a Six Day Niseko United mountain ski pass valid at four connected resorts, return door to door airport transfers, met on arrival at Chitose Airport and services of SkiJapan.com’s team at Niseko. Cost $865 per person (six share)
  • Seven nights in a four star deluxe, three bedroom Kamakura Apartment, also located in Hirafu Main Village (where there’s a wide variety of restaurants, bars and cafes), plus a Six Day Niseko United mountain ski pass, return door to door airport transfers, met on arrival at Chitose Airport and services of SkiJapan.com’s team at Niseko, costs $960 per person (six share).

For more details contact SkiJapancom 1300 137 411
or online www.SkiJapan.com

CAMDEN HAVEN GOES MOBILE-READY

Visit Camden Haven. The Camden Haven district, on the NSW Mid North Coast, offers a great range of accommodation from tent sites in our great holiday parks to luxury tree houses and B & Bs. There are also motels, self-catering apartments and holiday houses.

The beautiful Camden Haven is located thirty minutes south of Port Macquarie and forty minutes north of Taree. This ‘Valley of Villages’ hugs the Camden Haven River as it makes its way from the lush Comboyne Plateau to the blue Pacific Ocean.

As the river meanders through this magnificent valley it passes through the villages of Lorne, Kendall, Kew, Laurieton, Dunbogan, entering the sea between North Haven and Camden Head. Bonny Hills lies to the north overlooking Grants & Rainbow beaches. Just a further five minutes north is Lake Cathie (pronounced Cat-eye) with its beautiful lake, lagoon and beaches. Further afield you will find Port Macquarie, the regions ‘capital’, with its great shopping, beaches, history and attractions. Wauchope lies to the west of Port and is a beautiful town with a range of attractions and activities in a magnificent rural setting.

A key drawcard to the district is the myriad of waterways which make up the Camden Haven Inlet. Watson Taylors Lake, Queens Lake, Pilot Beach and Gogleys Lagoon are some of the natural features which are home to an abundance of marine and bird life. These waterways offer something for all lovers of water sports with fishing, boating, surfing, swimming and kayaking on offer. One of the best ways to experience the Camden Haven is aboard Camden Haven Cruises vessel Far-Lap; its shallow draft and low profile allow it to navigate a large area of the districts beautiful waters.

Be sure to call into the iKew Visitor Information Centre at Kew, when you Visit Camden Haven.

Camden Haven Tourism Marketing has launched a new mobile-responsive website. The website also features a new video promoting the diversity of the region.

The Visit Camden Haven website regularly attracts more than 1,700 visitors per month. It’s expected this will increase with the new mobile responsive feature.

The new website can be viewed at visitcamdenhaven.com.au

Cham tower reopens after four-year upgrade

A Cham tower within the UNESCO-recognised My Son Sanctuary in the central province of Quang Nam has reopened for tourists after nearly four years of restoration.

The restoration project of the E7 tower, which began in early 2011, was implemented at a cost of over 9 billion VND (413,000 USD) with support from Indian experts.

During the restoration, archaeologists unearthed nearly 200 objects inside and around the tower which will be handed to the My Son Relic and Tourism Management Board for protection, public display and research.

Apart from tower E7, the Indian experts have coordinated with Vietnamese agencies to conduct surveys, the results of which will serve as a basis for determining solutions to upgrade relic sites in Zone A of the sanctuary.

Spanning 142 hectares, the My Son Sanctuary consists of eight groups of 71 standing monuments and an untold number of unearthed relics.

The sanctuary was recognised by UNESCO as world heritage in 1999.

In a World First Tourism New Zealand Embraces New Colouring-in Trend

Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (L.A. Tourism) revealed new visitation forecasts and tourism data to hundreds of local leisure and hospitality business leaders at the organisation's third annual Market Outlook Forum last week. Among the highlights, overall visitation to Los Angles is expected to set a new record for tourism with more than 45 million total visitors in 2015, an increase of 2.3% from the previous record-setting year.

International visitation is estimated to grow 3.2% to more than 6.7 million, with Australian visitors numbers forecasted to increase by 4.5% by 2016. Total visitor spend in Los Angeles is projected to grow 5.2% from USD$19.6 billion last year to more than USD$20 billion in 2015.

“As one of the world's premier travel destinations, Los Angeles is poised to once again reach new heights in 2015 following the momentum of four consecutive years of record breaking tourism growth,” said Ernest Wooden Jr., President & CEO of L.A. Tourism.

“We are firmly positioned to reach our goal of 50 million visitors by 2020, but it's imperative there be progress with new and updated infrastructure and hotel development to showcase Los Angeles as a desirable destination to our visitors and accommodate the growth in visitation.”

Hotel occupancy for the first half of 2015 reached 79.6% and is projected to total 79.3% for the entire year. RevPAR for the year's first half totalled USD$122.83, an increase of 7.6% from 2014's first half of USD$114.16. RevPAR for the entire year is forecasted to reach USD$123.25, an increase of 6.1% over 2014.

Citywide, the convention business is also booming for Los Angeles with 32 conventions booked for 2016, the most for the city since 2001. Economic impact of these bookings is estimated to be USD$429 million. 

L.A. Tourism also highlighted its global sales and marketing plans at the conference, highlighted by plans to renew its successful “What's Your L.A. Story” campaign with new creative as well as initiatives to increase its market share of Australia, one of L.A.'s top international markets.

Get Ready to GO This September at the Snow

With Victorians still shivering through winter, snow bunnies can rejoice – with plenty of snow at the seven Victorian snow resorts, there's never been a better time to go to the snow!

“From the snow-capped mountains to snow ball fights, September is shaping up to be the perfect time for families to visit the Victorian snow resorts. As we near the end of the season, the resorts are offering special packages, like kids ski free, and it's the perfect time to learn to ski with fewer people on the slopes,” says Lorena Gibson, Marketing and Communications Officer, Alpine Resorts Co-ordinating Council.

“There's also plenty of snow at all of the Victorian snow resorts, and that looks set to continue through September. It's the perfect time for people to experience everything a snow experience can offer, from tobogganing, taking learn to ski or snowboard lessons, dog sled tours, as well as the great cafes, restaurants and entertainment.”

Whether a first-time visitor to the snow, or someone that hasn't returned in a while, there's something for everyone to do and some amazing packages for the rest of the season, including:

Mt Buller - Just three hours from Melbourne, Mt Buller is offering discounted accommodation deals including up to 50% of accommodation, lodge beds from just $55 a night, as well as deals where kids stay and eat absolutely free!

Falls Creek – 'Bring a First Timer Free' in September – take a friend or family members to Falls Creek for the first-time, and they can ski or snowboard for free. This special offer includes a two-hour first-time ski or snowboard lesson, 1 day access to Falls Creek's favourite first-timer lifts, and 1 day ski or snowboard rental.

Mt Baw Baw – ski peak snow at off-peak prices! Stay at one of Mt Baw Baw's select accommodation options and receive heavily discounted package deals. Mt Baw Baw has also slashed prices on mid-week lift tickets for the remainder of the season, ski or board for just $25 per person Monday-Friday.

Mt Hotham – hang out with your friends with the 'Mates Rates' deal – for any group of four adults who visits mid-week, one person receives free lift, lessons and/or rentals, in September.

Victoria's alpine resorts include Mt Buller/Mt Stirling, Mt Hotham, Falls Creek, Lake Mountain, Mt Baw Baw and Dinner Plain, and each resort offers a unique snow experience. Whether you're looking for a quick getaway with friends, a snow holiday with your family, a day-trip with the kids, or a romantic weekend escape for two, a snow getaway in Victoria has something to offer everyone.

With mountains of choice across Victoria's alpine resorts, this snow season is Go Season. To find out more, visit www.snowvictoria.com and get ready to go to the snow this September!

Chinese tourists to Australia increase boosting its tourism profit

Australia is witnessing record profit from tourism, thanks to the surge in the number of Chinese visitors to Australia.

Australia collected a 23.4- billion-U.S. dollar windfall from international tourism over the past year, 2 billion U.S. dollars more than the previous year, revealed News Corp. Of these, Chinese tourists were a major factor in the nation’s record revenue, with 829,000 trekking Down Under in the past year — a 19 percent increase, reveals Tourism Research Australia, based on the annual figures, ending in March this year.

In particular, the rise in Victoria’s international tourism numbers were linked to marked Chinese interest. Melbourne, Victoria’s capital city, was recently crowned the world’s most livable city by the Economist magazine for the fifth- year running.

The largest growth sector was from Indian travelers, with the group’s 25 percent increase largely attributable to Australia co- hosting the ICC Cricket World Cup earlier this year.

Australia’s three mainland eastern states — New South Wales (3, 272,578), Victoria (2,230,933) and Queensland (2,196,434) — were the only three regions to have in excess of a million international visitors over the course of the year.

Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel Hosts the 16th World Gourmet Festival to Be Held September 7 - 13, 2015

Continuing on the success of the past World Gourmet Festivals, Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel is delighted to announce that it will host the 16th Annual World Gourmet Festival this year, from 7th – 13th September 2015.

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

The full line up of chefs at the 16th Annual World Gourmet Festival is as follows:
Chef Francesc Rovira, Fonda Xesc, Gombrèn, Girona, Spain (1 Michelin Star)
Chef Jean-François Bérard, Hostellerie Berard, La Cadière d'Azur, Provence France (1 Michelin Star)
Chef Francesc Gimeno Manduley, Bohemic Bistro, Barcelona, Spain
Chef Pierre Crépaud, LeCrans Hotel & Spa, Crans-Montana, Switzerland
Chef Patrick Raingeard, Cap Estel, Èze-Bord-De-Mer, French Riviera, France (1 Michelin Star)
Chef Sean Connolly, Sean's Kitchen, Adelaide, Australia
Chef Hirofumi Imamura, Kazuo Okada Restaurant, Kowloon, Hong Kong (1 Michelin Star)

PROFILES: 

Chef Francesc Rovira, Fonda Xesc, Gombrèn, Girona, Spain

Like many great chefs, Michelin-star Chef Francesc learned the art of cooking at a very young age from his mother, working at the family owned village inn 'La Fonda' specialized in traditional Catalan cuisine. After finishing high school, he enrolled at the 'Escola d'Hosteleria de Barcelona' in order to develop his culinary skills and extend his knowledge. On graduating from culinary academy, Chef Francesc worked in a number of prestigious restaurants alongside many famous chefs, most notably the legendary Santi Santamaria, the first Catalan to be awarded three Michelin stars and a seminal influence on Chef Francesc's own cuisine.

Chef Francesc returned to 'La Fonda' and began introducing new dishes while the kitchen was still in the hands of his mother. He and his sister finally took over and elevated the kitchen inn into an acclaimed restaurant which was awarded one Michelin star in 2009. Like many chefs today, Chef Francesc likes to use local ingredients in his cooking. Mushrooms are a vital ingredient in Catalan cuisine as the local area has plentiful supply and they are probably his signature ingredient. 'La Fonda Xesc' is located on a building that dates back to 1730 in Gombrèn, a small village in the Catalan Pyrenees. The restaurant, nestled in a picturesque landscape, is an oasis of authentic Catalan tradition set apart from the modern world.

Chef Jean-François Bérard, Hostellerie Bérard & Spa, La Cadière d'Azur, Provence France

Coming from a family whose passion is focused on hospitality and gastronomy, Chef Jean-François Bérard had his first culinary exposure at his parent's boutique hotel, Hostellerie Bérard and Spa, located on a hilltop village instilled with the magic of Provence, La Cadière d'Azur.

Attending Lenotre School in Paris and consequently gaining a lot of work experiences with various master chefs at Michelin starred restaurants such as Frederic Anton at 3 Michelin star Pre catelan, Helene Darroze at 2 Michelin star la table d'helene, Roger Verger – serge Chenet at 3 star Moulin de Mougins, Jacques Chibois at 1 star le gray d'albion and Guissepina at 2 star Balsi rossa, Chef Jean-Francois' culinary skills were honed to the fullest.

Having a father, Chef René Bérard, who is a master chef himself, train him from his early age, the beauty of cooking using only the finest ingredients sourced in their garden and the locality, Chef Jean-François do wonders in the kitchen side by side with his father. Like father, like son, both have received various accolades including the ultimate Michelin star for their restaurant. Working as a family and team, the Bérards including the mother Daniele and sister Sandra, they have instilled this exceptional Hostellerie Bérard & Spa with their own very special magic.

Chef Francesc Gimeno Manduley, Bohemic Bistro, Barcelona, Spain

Chef Francesc Gimeno Manduley transmits emotion, passion and sincerity – qualities which are expressed in every one of his creations. Through his dishes, he transports the diner back to their childhood, when everything was still open to discovery and there was no time for worrying.

At the end of 2006, he opened a tapas bar, Bohemic Bistro, which progressively became a restaurant in which he expressed his overflowing creativity in a variety of styles with inspirations drawn from his time in renowned establishments.

Chef Francesc's Bohemic restaurant plays on high-concept miniature presentation of a variety of dishes for the diners to choose from after a pasta sized appetizer and complete the meal with a dessert.

Chef Pierre Crépaud, LeCrans Hotel & Spa, Crans-Montana, Switzerland

Describing himself as simply a cook, Chef Pierre's cuisine is mainly dictated by Mother Nature. A staunch supporter of the local farmers, he selects the best vegetables and regional products which are the basis for the creation of his recipes revealing dishes with playful tastes, colors and shapes. His cuisine is based on flavor with theatrical presentation.

Growing up in the mountains of Drome, he spent his childhood days with his great-uncle growing vegetables and loved the idea of eating food that they have grown. Nothing indicated that this would interest him in cooking but spent two years as a chef's apprentice and another two years gaining professional qualifications. His becoming a chef wasn't really a desire to work with food, but more of transforming things from the basic ingredient to a finished product.

Honing his culinary skills working with various hotels and restaurants in France and Switzerland, he finally settled at Crans-Montana and has been the Chef de Cuisine at Restaurant LeMontBlanc at LeCrans Hotel & Spa which received a Gault & Millau award in 2010.

Chef Patrick Raingeard, Cap Estel, Èze-Bord-De-Mer, French Riviera, France

Inheriting his love for cuisine from his grandmother, Chef Patrick at a very early age, liked watching her while she prepared sautéed potatoes, being fascinated by the foaming of butter on the stove, scorching but not burning. He pursued his interest and found his way to the culinary world where stellar chefs abound. Working side by side with renowned chefs such as Alain Passard of the 3 Michelin Stars L'Arpège and Jacques Maximin of the 2 Michelin stars Ledoyen and The Elysée Lenôtre, the experiences gave him confidence and motivation which resulted to his first Michelin star award for the Zebra Square restaurant in Monaco.

With his The Table of Patrick Raingeard restaurant receiving its Michelin star in 2013, Chef Patrick practices his cuisine instinctively in contemporary style and is a man of the soil. His five years of working with a Japanese chef gave him taste for exotic savors and he is a staunch advocate of local produce depending on seasonality. He and his team are proud that the Cap Estel uses some of the vegetables from its very own garden.

Chef Sean Connolly, Sean's Kitchen, Adelaide, Australia

Chef Sean Connolly is one of Australia and New Zealand's most well-respected chefs, with a growing list of accomplishments and awards to his name. A true visionary with a wealth of experience and uncompromising drive, his latest endeavor is the opening of his first restaurant in Adelaide, South Australia – the aptly named Sean's Kitchen. A New York inspired Brasserie restaurant offering mouth-watering dishes with a focus on showcasing the outstanding local produce, Sean's Kitchen located in Adelaide Casino, has won Best New Restaurant in The City Awards within a year of its opening.

As any other master chefs, Chef Sean got his inspiration from his grandmother which influenced his food today: generosity, imagination and a healthy respect for excellent produce. His formal training began at an early age of 13, taking on a Chef's Apprenticeship at a couple of 5-star hotel and restaurants in the UK. His culinary stints include aboard the luxury cruise liner, QE2, 5-star hotel such as Park Lane (now Sheraton on The Park), and other standalone restaurants. He hosted the critically acclaimed 13 part tv series called My Family Feast, a celebration of Australia's love of food and family life, which won the Best TV Show at the 2010 Australian Food Media Awards, plus Best TV Series for food and wine culture at the world TV Food & Wine Festival. With his cookbook, My Family Feast, he received the best celebrity cookbook in the world at the 2011 Paris Book Fair.

The awards and accolades he has received during the course of his culinary experiences truly attest to the success of Chef Sean's burgeoning career.

Chef Hirofumi Imamura, Kazuo Okada Restaurant, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Born in Japan, Chef Hirofumi started dreaming of becoming a chef at the age of four when he first tasted the joy of cooking for his parents. He mastered his fundamental cooking skills at his hometown Fukujima's Japanese restaurant Kawashou then journeyed to New York where he excelled as a sushi chef after gaining his Fugu license in 2001 and promptly moved up to become an executive chef at Sakagura New York. As the executive chef, he honed his insights in pairing food and sake and was awarded his Sake sommelier license in 2004 and created a sake pairing menu with 200 types of sake which resulted to an award for Sakagura's as No. 1 at Zagat Survey in the Night Life category and was one considered one of the most popular restaurants in New York. Moving on from New York to Las Vegas in 2006, he joined a Japanese restaurant at a 5 star hotel and turned the restaurant into one of the most talked-about Japanese eateries in Las Vegas. This was followed by a stint in Macau where he impressed the gourmands with his mastery of teppanyaki, robatayaki, sushi and traditional Japanese kaiseki. He now heads the One-star Michelin Kazuo Okada restaurant in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Chef Hirofumi is admired for the way he imbues each dish with uniqueness. Firmly committed to the idea that every dish should have its own seasoning, he searches the world over to source the perfect seasoning for his dishes. He also matches his creations with different dishware for an ideal presentation of the food across the seasons. One of his culinary philosophies is the belief that every dish should stimulate each of the five senses, even including sense of smell, texture of ingredients and the sounds while dining.

The event is coordinated and overseen by Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel'sExecutive Chef Nicolas Schneller, along with Shintaro Chef Satoshi Sawada, Biscotti Chef Daniele Bettini and Madison Chef Anchalee Pongrungsit. It is presented in association with Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia.

Each guest chef will host two evenings in one of the Hotel's restaurants. This year's World Gourmet Festival will also see the introduction of an exclusive sake tasting and pairing with Thai dishes event with the sake master, Keith Norum, an American who has worked with Miyasaka Brewing Company in Japan since 2005 educating their clients across the globe on sake. Also a first to the festival is the High Tea event with tea pairing by world-class master tea-blenders from Mariage Frères, France.

The hugely famous World Gourmet Brunch, one of the most popular events of the whole festival, will take place on the last day of the event, on Sunday, September 13th. If you missed some of the chef's dinners, this is your chance to sample some of their creations.

Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel has created the World Gourmet Festival package so that guests enjoying one of the festival dinners can retire to their guestroom afterwards, full and content, and enjoy a good night's sleep. The package at Baht 23,900 includes overnight accommodation in a deluxe view room, access to Kasara lounge including buffet breakfast, evening canapés, and tickets to any selected World Gourmet Festival dinner with the exception of the Japanese dinner, for two persons.

We are proud to support HRH Princess Soamsawali's 'Save A Child's Life from AIDS Project' under the auspices of the Thai Red Cross Society which provides medicine for pregnant mothers who are afflicted with AIDS. Proceeds from the auction for the duration of the event plus Baht 600 per dinner ticket sold will be donated to the charity.

The 16th World Gourmet Festival would not be possible without the help of our friends and partners. We are pleased to recognize Emirates Airlines, our airline sponsor who has supported air tickets for the chefs as well as Citibank N.A., Mercedes Benz (Thailand) Ltd. and the Tourism Authority of Thailand for their monetary support; and the official media partners, Travel+Leisure Magazine, Prestige and Hello Magazine.
Guests can make reservations for the 16th Annual World Gourmet Festival dinners starting on Monday, August 3rd, 2015. For more information or to make a booking, please contact the Hotel at 66 (0) 2 126 8866 or e-mail reservations.asia@anantara.com. Individual dinner tickets may also be booked through wgf.asia@anantara.com or log on to www.worldgourmetfestivalasia.com.

Co Tu minority culture highlighted in Ha Noi

A series of cultural and art activities will take place at the Vietnamese Ethnic Groups Culture and Tourism Village in the Dong Mo tourism area of Son Tay town, Ha Noi, featuring the cultural identity of Co Tu ethnic people in Tay Giang district of the central province of Quang Nam, said the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

As part of events to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the August Revolution (August 19) and National Day (September 2), the programme from August 19-23 will include activities such as cuisine and speciality introductions, festivals, folk singing and dancing, instrument performances and traditional games.

The highlights of the event will be a celebration of the Guol communal house and a wedding ceremony of the ethnic group.

Most Co Tu in Quang Nam province live in Nam Giang, Dong Giang and Tay Giang districts.

Their Guol house is a unique and age-old architecture type, which serves communal meetings and traditional festivals of the ethnic group.

It is an indispensable part of the cultural and spiritual life of Co Tu people, as it is closely connected with Gong performances. Their famous dances are Tung Tung (performed by men) and Da Dá (performed by women).

On the occasion, participants attending the event will also pay tribute to President Ho Chi Minh at his mausoleum.

NSW TAKES THE CAKE AT RESTAURANT AWARDS

NSW scooped the pool at the Gourmet Traveller restaurant awards this week. Sydney eatery Rockpool beat a very competitive field to be named Australia’s new Restaurant of the Year.

Gourmet Traveller’s editors singled out the landmark restaurant for its glamorous and grown-up take on fine dining. They said the Sydney restaurant was the whole package, with spectacular and inventive food from Neil Perry and Phil Wood, a deep bench of talent working its floor, a luxe room, exciting cellar, and savvy, welcoming service from its star sommelier.

Regional Restaurant of the Year was Byron Bay newcomer Three Blue Ducks. New Restaurant of the Year award went to Sydney’s Bennelong. Lennox Hastie, a chef who cooks only with fire at his Surry Hills restaurant, Firedood was named Best New Talent, and Billy Kwong won Wine List of the Year.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The cyclo listed in 30 most unique modes of transport in the world

The website Boredpanda (USA) has published the list of 30 most unique modes of transport in the world, including the cyclo in Viet Nam.

Considered as development from rickshaw – a popular vehicle in Ha Noi and Sai Gon in the 19th century, the cyclo is the type of bike which has 3 wheels, its seat is assembled in the front, driver is in the behind. Some cyclos are added motor, called motor cyclos.

Cyclos are widely used in the big cities such as Ha Noi, Hue, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City. When visiting these cities, tourists often choose cyclos for sightseeing. Particularly, in some Southern provinces as An Giang, Tien Giang..., the seat of cyclos are not assembled in the front but behind, so called tourist pedicabs.

Besides cyclos in Viet Nam, the list of 30 most unique modes of transport in the world also includes reindeer sled (Finland), trams (France), suspension railway (Germany), hydrofoil (Greece), gondola (Italy), toboggan (Portugal), trolley bus (Russia), aerial tramway (Switzerland), underground funicular (Turkey), hovercraft (UK), terra bus (Canada), Zip lines over the canopy (Costa Rica), coco taxi (Cuba), ice angle (USA), dog sleds (Alaska), reed boat (Peru), bamboo train (Cambodia), maglev train (China), Du Bai trolley (United Arab Emirates), house boat (India), Shinkansen bullet train (Japan), elephant (Laos), tangah (Pakistan), Habal Habal (Philippines), Tuk Tuk (Thailand), funicular (Australia), Shotover jet (New Zealand), Matatu bus (Kenya) and Felucca sailboat (Egypt).

EXPEDIA AND DESTINATION NSW PARTNER TO ATTRACT MORE VISITORS TO NSW

More than 15 marketing campaigns across eight global markets will see Sydney and NSW promoted through a new strategic partnership between the Expedia Group and Destination NSW. Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said the exciting new one-year partnership with the Expedia Group, which has 150+ booking sites in more than 70 countries, will result in Sydney and NSW being promoted in priority international markets including the UK, Germany, USA, India, New Zealand, Japan and Malaysia and within Australia.

“Expedia is one of the leading online travel agencies globally. This partnership presents wonderful opportunities to further promote Sydney and NSW to increase visitation from our key domestic and international markets,” Mr Ayres said.

“More people are coming to Sydney and NSW, with the latest figures showing an increase in visitors, nights and expenditure. This agreement will help to grow our visitor economy and meet our target of doubling overnight visitor expenditure by 2020.”

Destination NSW CEO Sandra Chipchase said Destination NSW has previously partnered with Expedia in both international and domestic markets in individual cooperative campaign activities that have delivered strong results for the State.

“Expedia is a well-known and trusted brand operating worldwide. This agreement formalises our partnership and allows us to promote Sydney and NSW as Australia’s premier tourism and events destinations to millions of potential visitors in our priority international markets,” Ms Chipchase said.

Austria. A Place to Tempt the Tastebuds

Feel a little song about schnitzel with noodles and crisp apple strudels coming over you when you think of Austria? Fair enough: we Austrians sing of other things, but eat plenty of both. (Though sorry to tell you, Maria, that we actually eat schnitzel with potato salad: someone didn't do their fact checking). We're happy to be famous for such comforting dishes but, beyond the stereotypes, there are all manner of food experiences in Austria that will have your tastebuds singing entire odes to joy in no time.

Thinking of writing about food in Austria? Beyond the predictable, there are many ways to feast on Austria that allow you to write about history, culture and contemporary society too. Relax in a nineteenth-century Viennese coffeehouse over coffee – there are 20-odd varieties, some topped with whipped cream. Kick back in a Graz cocktail lounge where the fusion nibbles are defiantly twenty-first century. Dine in a castle restaurant outside Salzburg on the freshest trout dishes as you gaze over a lake. Stop off at a cellar door (or three) and try the latest vintages in Burgenland.

In between, of course, you'll want to explore our history and culture, palaces and peaks. Just make sure your itinerary isn't too packed, because there are always opportunities to relax. We have bars in museums, restaurants in castles, rustic inns on mountainsides that serve up hearty fare to get your hiking energy up. Blend wine into your stories; after all, what journalist doesn't like a cellar door? Follow gourmet driving routes, plunder farmer's markets and dither in bakeries over the cream-topped temptations. In Austria, you can have your cake – and eat it too.

Then retire to our 'Austria Collection' of highly select hotels, chosen for their authentically Austrian atmosphere – which often means authentic Austrian dining as well. In Austria, every meal is something to sing about – and write about too. Here are just a few ideas for indulging your tastebuds when in Austria.

Dramatic Cliff-Face Walkway 'The Gobbins' Opens in Northern Ireland

Intrepid adventurers to Northern Ireland's famous Causeway Coastal Route now have the opportunity to be suspended in mid-air above crashing waves on a spectacular cliff path over the wild Irish Sea.

The Gobbins, a dramatic, two-mile-long cliff-face walkway, has opened for bookings – and already people from Australia, America, Sweden, France and Germany are among those who have dared to get their ticket.

The magnificently restored Edwardian attraction features a series of tubular and suspension bridges, a staircase, caves and tunnels carved through the County Antrim basalt.

It offers a white-knuckle mix of adventure, rugged beauty, spectacular views, heritage, flora and fauna. In all, walkers must brave 23 metal bridges and water-splashed gantries installed along sheer cliff faces.

Strictly for thrill-seekers and those who can handle a bracing climb, the route offers not just a walk along a cliff top but also below sea-level experiences of the caves and the bridges.

Glass tunnels let walkers traverse part of the Irish Sea in mid-air as they pass through the metal bridges and water-splashed gantries. The Gobbins' geologically diverse landscape is straight out of Game of Thrones and is actually in the vicinity of locations used in the filming of the hit TV show.

With access by guided tour only, the journey begins at a state of the art visitor centre, from where walkers are transferred to the cliff path by minibus. Tours begin on the hour from 10am to 3pm daily. The full excursion should take several hours.

Those not wishing to walk the path can still enjoy the stunning views and at the visitor centre learn about The Gobbins through an exhibition on the building of the path, its history from Edwardian times and the local geology and ecology. There is also a coffee shop and gift shop.

Only a 40 minute drive from Belfast, The Gobbins is in Islandmagee, a narrow peninsula just off the world-famous Causeway Coastal Route.

The area is an idyllic holiday spot and home to the Giant's Causeway, the Glens of Antrim, Bushmills Distillery, miles of golden sand and loads of water-based activity.

The Gobbins was originally designed by visionary engineer Berkeley Dean Wise and built in 1902. Its name comes from the Irish An Gobain, meaning 'the points of rock'.

www.ireland.com
www.thegobbinscliffpath.com

Russian scientists seek to preserve My Son sanctuary

Russian scientists are seeking measures to preserve and restore the My Son sanctuary in the central province of Quang Nam, which was recognised as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1999.

The scientists have analysed the structure and construction materials of the sanctuary, such as the combination of brick samples and sculpture pieces used to decorate temples.

The research concluded that the materials used to build temples have various origins and characteristics; the bricks are unevenly baked and contain sand and plant specimen. Clay was used as initial material for brick production, according to Dr. Aleksei Pakhnevich from the Moscow Palaeobiology Institute.

Professor Sergey Nefedkin said water intrusion was the main culprit of the erosion and destruction of bricks, making it necessary to harden the surface of the bricks to prevent water endosmosis and restore their original value, he added.

Professor Nguyen Quoc Sy from the Moscow National Energy University said researchers are creating a brick with strong protective layers and will use it to restore the Cham temples in the sanctuary. Scientists are currently evaluating the brick’s reaction to weather patterns, he noted.

The preservation and restoration of Cham temples is not only to preserve their cultural heritage values but also to improve the management capacity of relic site preservers, develop tourism, improve local living standards and promote unique Vietnamese cultural identities to the world.

The restoration of Cham relic sites began in the 1980s and focused on studying the components of and materials to produce Cham bricks, studying and utilising vegetation-originated agglutinative substances, and seeking methods to reinforce the structure and sustainability of the architecture.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Le Van Thanh said environmental factors have been destroying the surface and threatening the structure of Cham temples.

He said that local authorities are coordinating with relevant agencies and scientists to discover ancient secrets of constructing temples that have stood for over thousands of years, thus finding ways to preserve them.

At present, several Russian scientists are seeking to preserve the surface of Cham temples to extend their longevity and prevent the impact of weather patterns.

Quang Nam is home to many national and international-level Cham architectures. The most notable are thousand-year-old towers, reflecting the phenomenal creativity of the Champ culture. Temples and clusters of temples in Chien Dan, Khuong My, Bang An, the Dong Duong Buddhist Institute and My Son are attracting scientists to discover their ancient techniques.

ALL IN BLOOM AT THE AUSTRALIAN BOTANIC GARDEN MOUNT ANNAN

Following months of careful preparation the annual spring paper daisy display at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan is expected to draws thousands of visitors to Western Sydney. The beds are situated at the base of the Connections Garden and have been featured widely on TV and in newspapers since the first display more than 20 years ago.

Species planted as part of the display include Rhodanthe chlorocephala subsp. rosea ‘Rosy Everlasting’, Rhodanthe manglesii ‘Mangles Everlasting’ or ‘Silver Bells’ and Schoenia filifolia subsp. subulifolia ‘Showy Everlasting’.

Netting is in place from late June when the seeds are planted until the end of August to protect the display from local ducks who have a taste for young daisies. The display will be at its peak in September.

The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan is open from 8am to 5pm during autumn, winter and spring, and 8am to 7pm during summer.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Air New Zealand Announces Record Annual Result

Air New Zealand has just announced its 2015 annual result with normalised earnings before taxation of $496 million for the 2015 financial year, an increase of 49 percent on the prior year. Statutory earnings before taxation were $474 million, while statutory net profit after taxation was $327 million, an increase of 24 percent.

Capacity growth supported by strong demand, cost efficiencies and lower fuel prices has driven a year of significant earnings growth. Very strong operating cash flow of $1.1 billion was up 51 percent on the prior year.

The Board has declared a fully imputed final ordinary dividend of 9.5 cents per share, an increase of 73 percent on the prior year, resulting in a 2015 full year ordinary dividend of 16.0 cents per share, an increase of 60 percent on the prior year.

“Our strategic initiatives over the past three years have positioned us well to take advantage of market dynamics which have contributed to these results,” Chairman Tony Carter says.

“Our investment in new efficient aircraft, the continued development of our alliance partner relationships, world class sales and marketing execution, great customer service and strong focus on cost management have enabled Air New Zealand to achieve revenue growth against a stable cost base.

“We indicated at our interim result that lower fuel prices and current sales momentum have strengthened the company's outlook, and this has seen the delivery of a record annual result that our shareholders and staff can be immensely proud of,” Mr Carter says.

“Given the current known operating environment, along with our increased capacity and improved operating efficiencies, we expect to achieve significant earnings growth in the coming year.”

Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says a continued focus on superior commercial results, enhancing the customer experience and further developing the airline's people and culture have resulted in a terrific 2015 financial year across all three of these commitments.

“We remain focused on the Pacific Rim as our growth strategy and will continue to provide the best connections, product and service at competitive prices, to maintain and grow our market share in these regions. Next year will see further capacity growth in international markets as we look forward to new routes starting in December 2015 to Houston and Buenos Aires. And while we are gearing up to launch these exciting new routes we have a team assessing potential new opportunities in Australia, Asia and the Americas,” Mr Luxon says.

“We operate one of the most comprehensive domestic jet and regional turboprop networks in the world renowned for frequency, service and reliability. Our domestic operation will grow eight percent in the year ahead, while at the same time maintaining our price leadership with more than two million domestic fares expected to be offered for sale for less than $100.”

Mr Luxon says Air New Zealand has spent considerable time and effort enhancing the on-the-ground and in-flight experience in 2015 financial year.

“This has resulted in a further lift in customer satisfaction including amongst our most frequent flyers, and has seen the airline receive many awards in the past year.”

Air New Zealand's loyalty programme, Airpoints, continues to grow at pace with around 1.9 million members now, which is up almost 17 percent on the previous year. Australia remained the biggest overseas membership base with growth in that market exceeding 20 percent during the year.

“This doesn't surprise us as more Australians than ever are embracing the Air New Zealand product and service offering whether it be on the Tasman, to the Pacific Islands, North America or South America.”

A cornerstone focus for Air New Zealand in 2015 financial year was knowing its customers better than ever before through the enhanced use of data and analytics.

“Air New Zealand will deliver more personalised and relevant offers to its customers in the future through the use of data and analytics. We have the systems, people and global partners in place to see the airline be more relevant than ever in our customers' lives and in turn to deliver even more commercially through the Airpoints programme,” Mr Luxon says.

While Air New Zealand's record annual result is good news for shareholders, it is also a great outcome for the airline's employees.

“Our people are critical to the airline's success. In the last year we have established a Company Performance Bonus to allow all Air New Zealanders to benefit when we deliver superior commercial results, and this will be paid to eligible employees next week,” Mr Luxon says.

The bonus will see 8,000 staff who are not on other incentive programmes, receive payments of up to $1,400.

Result Highlights:

• Normalised earnings before tax of $496 million, up 49%
• Statutory net profit before tax of $474 million, up 32%
• Statutory net profit after tax of $327 million, up 24%
• Result includes equity accounted losses of $29 million from Virgin Australia
• Operating revenue of $4.9 billion, up 5.9% (6.3% excluding foreign exchange)
• Passenger revenue of $4.1 billion, up 6.8% (7.5% excluding foreign exchange)
• Operating cash flow of $1.1 billion, up 51%
• Strong cash position of $1.32 billion, up 7.1%
• Gearing at 52.4%
• Fully imputed final ordinary dividend of 9.5 cents per share, an increase of 73%, bringing 2015 full year fully imputed ordinary dividend of 16.0 cents per share, an increase of 60%
• Expected aircraft capital expenditure of $2.6 billion over the next 4 years
• Upgraded credit rating – Moody's Baa2 investment grade, outlook stable

Splash Out With the Whales in Hervey Bay These School Holidays!

The school holiday break is the perfect opportunity to splash out on an awe-inspiring escape in the peak of whale season, where close encounters with our giant, curious friends are guaranteed.

Whale watching in Hervey Bay is not a typical “day trip” experience. Instead it's an opportunity to gain an interactive, up close and personal experience with whales. Tie in world-class eco-experiences such as the World Heritage listed Fraser Island and the UNESCO recognised Great Sandy Biosphere.

Hervey Bay is unique as far as whale watching is concerned. It is the only place of its kind in the world where migrating whales stay up to ten days in the pristine waters between the mainland and Fraser Island. They interact, rest and play in the Great Sandy Strait – a perfectly protected marine playground for mothers and their calves in the calm waters between Hervey Bay and Fraser Island.

The Fraser Coast has a range of whale watching tours that will exceed all your expectations and we've included a small sample of what's on offer.

Holidaymakers can hop aboard Tasman Venture for a half day tour complete with guaranteed whale sightings or return ticket. A trip out with Tasman Venture includes their expert commentary, refreshments and antipasto platters, underwater windows and unique viewing platform, hydrophone to hear the whales sing, free whale DVD and more.

Meanwhile, the Spirit of Hervey Bay has 3/4 day whale-watching cruises including morning tea and buffet lunch while Whalesong Cruises has four-hour morning or afternoon tours with quality local morning or afternoon tea, wide water-level viewing decks and more.

Another popular option is Freedom Whale Watch's luxury3/4 day adventure with gourmet morning and afternoon tea and tropical buffet lunch.

For example Blue Dolphin Marine Tours has exclusive full day whale encounters including limited passenger numbers for great views; eight hours touring on board the luxury vessel; morning, afternoon tea and quality buffet lunch with free drink. If the conditions are right, passengers can join the whales in the water on the boat's purpose-built platform.

Another excellent option is Hervey Bay Whale Watch Quick Cat II which has a full day Whales and Fraser Island experience including light breakfast, morning tea and hop off at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island for lunch. Conditions and temperament of the whales permitting, there is also the opportunity to swim with the humpbacks.

The Hervey Bay whale watch season is from July to November each year. To book your adventure to the 'whale watch capital of the world', head to whalesherveybay.com.au.

Ha Noi Old Quarter - A very hip place in SE Asia

The centre of Ha Noi around Hoan Kiem Lake has been cited by SkyScanner as one of the top 15 hippest places in Southeast Asia in a recent post on its website.

Here you'll find French Colonial architecture and Parisian-style cafes, boutiques specializing in original fashion, jewellery and furniture, and old-fashioned shops selling traditional crafts and trinkets.

For nightlife one can join the locals at the rooftop bars and street side watering holes that rock on into the early hours!

Culinary Excellence at Blanket Bay

Chef Corey Hume takes inspiration from California's top restaurants

New Zealand's exclusive Blanket Bay lodge has long been applauded for its focus on the finer things in life, from luxurious accommodations to impeccable cuisine. Executive chef Corey Hume is not only a board member of the applauded Bocuse d'Or New Zealand and an integral part of the NZ Culinary Team – which has won back-to-back gold medals at International culinary competitions since 2003 – but is also a member of the newly formed Fonterra Culinary Olympic NZ Squad, which sees the world's most talented chefs compete every four years in Germany.

Chef Hume brings his passion for food to the Blanket Bay dining experience, dedicated to top-quality New Zealand produce and wines. Determined to always improve offerings for guests, Chef Hume has just returned from a culinary tour of California, where he worked with the American state's most acclaimed chefs and restaurateurs.

Among the restaurants Hume partnered with were one Michelin-starred Gary Danko and Michael Mina; Daniel Patterson's two Michelin-starred Coi and Michael Tusk's Quince; as well as three Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood, with Chef Christopher Kostow, in Saint Helena.

“This was an incredible experience and at all times very demanding both mentally and physically,” said Hume. “The inspiration I've found in working with these establishments has been life changing. For Blanket Bay, it reinforces our philosophy of supporting niche local producers, farmers, foragers, fisherman and growers while we continue exploring purveyors that share our passion for excellence and sustainability, whilst remaining progressive with our Food and Beverage.”

Chef Hume's Blanket Bay degustation menu which changes daily includes delicacies highlighting New Zealand produce including Milford Sound crayfish, Perendale lamb, line caught fish, local artisan cheeses, seasonal organic fruit, vegetables and foraged herbs.

Fun Facts 2015 - Moab Utah

Since 1949 the Moab area has been a popular location for Hollywood movies. Movies filmed in our area range from the old John Wayne classics to more recent hits such as Geronimo, Mission Impossible II, and Transformers: Age of Extinction. Thelma and Louise took their final leap into the Colorado River from along the Shafer Trail under Dead Horse Point near Moab!

Southeastern Utah contains some of the darkest skies in the contiguous 48 United States. A moonless night spent under the stars in southeastern Utah will amaze visitors with the volume of stars visible to the naked eye. Paying attention to the moon phase and when it will rise and set can really enhance your visit.

The Legend of Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point is a peninsula of rock atop sheer sandstone cliffs. The peninsula is connected to the mesa by a narrow strip of land called the neck. There are many stories about how this high promontory of land received its name. According to one legend, around the turn of the century the point was used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa top. Cowboys rounded up these horses, herded them across the narrow neck of land and onto the point. The neck, which is only 30 yards wide, was then fenced off with branches and brush. This created a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs, affording no escape. Cowboys then chose the horses they wanted and let the culls or broomtails go free. One time, for some unknown reason, horses were left corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below. October 2014 three camping yurts were added to park's camping options. Those are situated for easy access to the various mountain bike trail loops which have been built in Dead Horse Point State Park.

Arches National Park contains the world's largest concentration of natural sandstone arches with over 2,000 arches located within the park's 76,518 acres.

Canyonlands is the largest national park in Utah, and its diversity staggers the imagination. It is divided into three districts by the Green and Colorado Rivers - the Island in the Sky, the Needles and the Maze. Named for their most prominent geologic characteristics, these districts are quite varied in what they have to offer.

Wine tasters and connoisseurs from around the world are often quite surprised to learn that there are two wineries right here in Moab area, as well as a micro-brewery.

Moab, Utah is your destination if you are looking for a great vacation value. Rates as of October 1 2015 are: For $25.00, visitors can explore Canyonlands or Arches National parks for seven days, or for $50.00 have unlimited access to these parks, as well as Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments for an entire year. Watch for reduced off-peak pricing for Arches National Park. That will mean $10 for a vehicle, instead of $25. Soon to be posted on DiscoverMoab, when it is instituted.

The City of Moab was the Nation's First EPA Green Power Community, with 5% of its electricity coming from renewable energy purchased through Utah Power's Blue Sky wind program. It is a Silver City in the Bike Friendly categories too. Local Facts. Come to Moab and keep a list of your own fun facts. Travel details to Moab are on www.DiscoverMoab.com.

Ha Giang reserve area to protect forest ecology

Authorities in the northern Ha Giang Province have just announced a plan to open a new nature reserve area in the province's Meo Vac District.

Nguyen Duc Vinh, director of the province's agriculture and rural development department, said the 5,500ha Chi San Nature Reserve Zone would stretch over six communes of Meo Vac District.

The zone is being set up to conserve the forest ecology of plants and animals to improve the local forest's capability of preventing floods, as well as to protect the rich flora and fauna.

He said after the zone's establishment, the department would co-ordinate with the concerned agencies to implement investment policies for developing the buffer area and the special forest area, along with anti-poverty projects for the local people.

The local authorities will also promote awareness among the local people about the need to protect forests, rare plants and animals.

MATILDA THE MUSICAL OFFICIALLY PREMIERES

Matilda The Musical officially premiered at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre last week. The musical is the story of an extraordinary girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

It is based on the beloved novel by best-selling author Roald Dahl and features lyrics by Australian performer Tim Minchin.

Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Matilda The Musical first played at Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2010, before appearing on Broadway and London’s West End. The musical has received widespread critical acclaim, winning five Tony Awards and seven Olivier Awards.

The Australian Premiere season of the musical was secured exclusively for Sydney by the NSW Government through Destination NSW.

Matilda The Musical will run at the Lyric Theatre until November. Information on the Musical and how to purchase tickets can be found at au.matildathemusical.com

New Partnership With Air New Zealand to Encourage More Visitors to NSW

More visitors to New South Wales from New Zealand are expected through a new partnership announced today between the NSW Government and Air New Zealand.

The NSW Government's tourism and major events agency Destination NSW has entered into a new two-year strategic partnership with the airline.

NSW Premier Mike Baird announced the partnership in Auckland today, during his first official visit to New Zealand as Premier.

“In the year to March 2015, we welcomed 396,000 visitors from New Zealand to NSW and this agreement will encourage even more people to visit this great State,” Mr Baird said.

“We have strong cultural, diplomatic and business links with New Zealand that will all benefit from initiatives such as these.

“It's estimated this partnership will increase the number of visitors from New Zealand and will result in an additional estimated $6.4 million in annual overnight visitor expenditure to NSW.”

Destination NSW CEO Sandra Chipchase said the new agreement cements the strong relationship that already exists and will result in more visitors to the state's major events.

“The close proximity of our countries means Sydney and Regional NSW are fantastic short break destinations where New Zealanders can come to enjoy our spectacular scenery, food and wine and many of the best major events in Australia,” Ms Chipchase said.

“In the past month alone we have welcomed visitors from New Zealand who have come to see major events such as the Bledisloe Cup and 2015 Netball World Cup.

“We also have a packed Spring and Summer Calendar to look forward to that includes the Sydney Running Festival, NRL Grand Final, Australian Open of Golf, Matilda The Musical, Rugby Sevens, AUS-X Open Supercross and V8 Supercars Sydney 500.”

Christopher Luxon, Air New Zealand's Chief Executive Officer said the agreement further strengthens Air New Zealand's relationship with New South Wales.

“New South Wales has always been a popular destination for New Zealanders and we fly more seats from New Zealand to Sydney than to any other international destination on our network. This partnership will encourage more Kiwis to hop across the ditch to Sydney and also to explore greater NSW with our alliance partner Virgin Australia.”

In the year to March 2015, visitors from New Zealand stayed a total of 4.5 million nights in NSW and spent $473 million during their stay. The average length of stay for visitors from New Zealand to NSW was 11 nights.

Air New Zealand and alliance partner Virgin Australia operate direct flights to Sydney from the major cities of Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown.

Friday, 28 August 2015

STAYZ ANNOUNCES AUSTRALIA’S MOST EXCEPTIONAL HOLIDAY PROPERTIES AT ANNUAL HOLIDAY RENTAL AWARDS

Bonnay, Hunter Valley, NSW 
Australia’s number one holiday rental website, Stayz, has today announced the winners of its 2015 Holiday Rental Awards. In its fourth consecutive year, the annual awards highlight the very best holiday rentals across a portfolio of more than 45,000 rentals listed on Stayz.com.au in over 2,000 unique locations nationally.

This year, Stayz has introduced two new categories – Best for Gourmet Getaways and Best Unique Property – as acknowledgement of the growing demand for unique experiences coupled with unrivalled foodie destinations. The Awards represent not only the best rental properties across the nation but also those that are on trend and meeting consumer demand.

Stayz appointed a panel of industry expert judges to determine the standout holiday rentals across eight categories on both a national and state level. The national winners are:

Best for Gourmet Getaways: Bonnay, Hunter Valley, NSW 

This charming cottage, sleeping six, is a delightful haven in the Hunter Wine region. Just a short drive from some of the best cellar doors and hatted restaurants in the area, guests can head out to taste the local gourmet produce or just relax and enjoy the ambience this property offers. Guests can cook up a storm with the BBQ, large country kitchen and generous dining area, which is ideal for hosting a dinner party or long lunch. 

Best Unique Property: Casa Alberto Via Roma, Isle of Capri, QLD 

Known as “The Flinstones House”, this mansion sleeps 12 and boasts a solar heated pool with ‘coral’, a private jetty, an eight-person spa, multiple sun lounges, a private beach, plus everything the family would need to go fishing or to just keep the kids entertained. 






Best for Indulgence: The Ocean Retreat, Falmouth, TAS 

The Ocean Retreat is a stunning contemporary property with 180-degree waterfront views, decked out with luxury furnishings, including heated bathroom floors that will leave every guest wanting to return. Sleeping ten, the property features a heated plunge pool that overlooks the ocean, an outdoor open fireplace, large deck and a spa bath.




Best Property for Outdoor Lovers: Deep Creek Retreat, Delamere, SA 

No TV here. Voted as a national finalist for best eco house in 2013, this two bedroom solar and wind powered house features an open plan living area with stunning views of the valley and Kangaroo Island. Guests can enjoy nature at its best by strolling through a secret garden, taking an outdoor shower or simply gazing at the stars on the outdoor decking.




Best Pet-Friendly Property: Culburra House, Culburra, NSW 

Located on the beach and featuring an open plan living space, Culburra House is ideal for holidaymakers travelling with pets. The property features a fully enclosed, secure garden so your furry friends will be safely contained. In addition to this, a selection of dog bowls and tags, with the property’s address, are available for use during your stay. Furry friends can also enjoy the outdoors with a leash free and dog-friendly beach just steps away.


Best Property for Romance: Thalia Haven, Little Swanport, TAS 

Four separate pavilions, sleeping eight, allows for plenty of space to relax. There's a sauna, outdoor bath, outdoor shower (overlooking Great Oyster Bay) and bedrooms that are equipped with king-sized beds with custom-made duvets, plus each room has sweeping ocean views. Candlelit dinners and baths overlooking the ocean are a must at this property.




Best Property for Families: Play Shack 2 River Front, Sawmill Settlement/Merrijig, VIC

This rustic log cabin, combined with modern architecture, is the ultimate family haven. Sleeping up to 16, two distinct wings provide peace and quiet - upstairs is for playing and downstairs is for relaxing. Property features include a pool, a variety of games and entertainment for the kids – such as a ping-pong and air hockey table – plus direct river access which is perfect for afternoon drinks or fishing.



People’s Choice: Tyntynder Lodge, Bright, VIC 

Set amongst a peaceful haven for nature lovers, this property sleeps up to eight and houses everything a guest could want. Providing guests with a gift bag on arrival, Tyntynder Lodge boasts an open fire, BBQ, DVD player with an array of movies on offer, a playground for the kids, plus a beautiful deck and garden. Located close to the town and just 100m from the river, guests can easily enjoy all that the local area has to offer.

Anton Stanish, General Manager, Stayz said, “We are incredibly proud to have such a diverse range of inspirational holiday rentals available across Australia. We recognise Australians’ love for unique experiences, coupled with awe-inspiring locations, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer holidaymakers an option to suit every need, interest, group size and budget.

“Our annual Holiday Rental Awards recognise the leading holiday experiences across Australia, from the family friendly and the indulgent, to the pet friendly and more. Whether it’s a gourmet getaway or a family weekend away, there’s something for everyone. On behalf of Stayz I’d like to congratulate all of the winning property owners on their commitment to delivering phenomenal guest experiences. These homes truly are the crème-de-la-crème of each category.”

For a full list of all the state and national winners, please go to http://awards.stayz.com.au/winners.

Cable car system to be built in Phu Quoc

The People’s Committee of Kien Giang Province has approved a project on building a cable car system linking An Thoi Town and Hon Thom Isle on Phu Quoc Island, a district of the province.

The project including a 7km long cable car system and a hotel and entertainment complex will be invested at a total cost of VND10,000 billion (US$458.4 million) by the SunGroup.

The first phase of the project worth VND4,900 billion (US$225 million) will be completed by 2017.

Hon Thom is an archipelago off the southern coast of Phu Quoc Island, consisting of 18 isles.

Hon Thom is considered as the pearl of Phu Quoc and famous for its beautiful beaches, a best place for fishing, diving and watching coral.

Phu Quoc District has attracted more than 164 projects worth VND168,931 billion (US$7.7 billion).

Spring into snow much fun at Mt Buller this September

Mt Buller is getting set to turn up the fun this September, as the resort celebrates the arrival of spring with plenty of great value deals and a colourful line up of events on the horizon. 

September is known for iconic spring events including the ABOM Mogul Challenge, the Subaru Australian Interschools Championships, the very colourful ‘80s Day as well as the popular Corona Extra Pond Skim National Championships.

Spring is a sensational time to visit Mt Buller, and visitors can enjoy heavily discounted accommodation, with up to 50% off the peak season rates at many properties across the mountain, free overnight parking and up to 30% off lift passes. 2016 Early Bird Season Memberships are also on sale from September 1st, and give skiers unlimited lift access for the remainder of the 2015 season.

The first weekend of September is set to be a colourful one, with Saturday 5th September hosting both the ABOM Mogul Challenge and the ever popular ‘80s Day. The annual ABOM Mogul Challenge will see world-class freestylers and mogul enthusiasts tackle the bumps in a bid to win fantastic prizes. Mt Buller will also revisit the neon-coloured glory days of the 1980s, when the annual ‘80s Day celebrations hit the mountain. Celebrations will be held across the mountain, with a DJ at Koflers spinning 80s tunes throughout the day, a World Record attempt for the most amount of one-piece ski suits in one place, and the annual 80s Après Party where there'll be a DJ, prizes for the best dressed and more.

From 9-13 September, hundreds of school students from across the country will gather at Mt Buller, when the resort hosts the 2015 Australian Interschool Snowsports Championships. Returning to Victoria in 2015, Mt Buller is proud to host this massive event which will see students compete in a range of disciplines from cross country to snowboarder cross throughout the 4 days.

The Corona Extra Pond Skim National Championships will return to Mt Buller for the second time on Saturday 19th September. Spectators will enjoy seeing participants dressed in crazy costumes skim across a temporary dam on Bourke Street, taking on silly stunts to get from one side of the dam to the other. Celebrations will continue with après drinks and a BBQ at the Corona Beer Garden on Bourke Street, with an after party kicking on into the evening at Moosehead.

Director of Marketing for Mt Buller Mt Stirling Resort Management, Amber Gardner, said spring is a fantastic time to enjoy a snowy break. “Spring is all about fun in the sun at Mt Buller, with great deals, plenty of snow, sunny days and exciting events taking place including ‘80s Day, the ABOM Mogul Challenge, as well as the Pond Skim National Championships. We’ve had such a fantastic season here at Mt Buller and it’s not over yet. Bring on a super spring!”

For further information on Mt Buller, including accommodation deals, lift tickets and the events calendar, visit mtbuller.com.au.

Have You Thought About Niue?

The Pacific Island paradise of Niue, also called “The Rock”, is a large, upraised coral atoll with some of the clearest water in the world. It has water clarity of up to 80 metres, creating, the perfect conditions for whale and dolphin watching, or for diving and snorkelling.

Niue offers the best of both worlds for sea and land lovers with a 64km ring road leading to coves and chasms accessed by sea tracks. These and the unique marine life, as well as fishing and diving experiences are just waiting for those with an adventurous spirit to discover.

If you prefer to travel on the water, this standalone land mass Northeast of Tonga provides every yachtie with the perfect destination, says Niue Tourism's Vanessa Marsh.

“We have 19 moorings in Alofi Bay's crystal clear waters, perfect for small to heavier yachts. Our world-renowned Niue Yacht Club also offers you a home away from cabin with a warm smile and a cold drink,” says Vanessa.

During the months of July to October, Niue's pristine waters are on the migratory path of the Oceania Humpback Whale. Niue offers a wealth of educational whale watching experiences like no other from land or out on the water.

Old friends Falcon, Gentoo, Stumpy and Alofa are expected to return to the warmer waters of Niue soon to calve and mate during whale season. A whale sanctuary since 2003, the beautiful waters of Niue have long been a favoured place for Oceania Humpback Whales.

Several of these deep ocean dwellers – although not the regulars mentioned above yet – have already returned, so visitors should be booking their tickets to see one of the ocean's biggest creatures up close.

Because of Niue's reef proximity and water clarity, whale watching from land is possible as the humpback whales swim as close as fifty metres from the shore line, having travelled five thousand kilometres to get to tropical waters during the Southern Hemisphere's winter months.

“As Niue's waters are a humpback whale sanctuary, no one is able to approach the whales unless with a licensed, local operator, but we can get up close,” says Krystal Hunter, Director of Buccaneer Adventures Niue Dive.

“The humpback whales are so undisturbed here in Niue they feel safe enough to breach and play more often than not. So you really get to know each humpback and their personalities when out on the water.”

The whale watching trips have started on Niue and will run through September. Tours start in the morning, run for four hours, include light refreshments and educational presentations on the Humpback Whale, and costs start at $130 per person.

The following tourism providers offer experiences with the humpback whales:

To learn more about going to Niue to take advantage of whale watching, please visit the Niue Tourism website: http://www.niueisland.com/content/whale-watching

Key northern economic area to be converted into tourism centre

The key northern economic region - comprising Ha Noi, Hai Phong city, and the provinces of Vinh Phuc, Bac Ninh, Hung Yen, Hai Duong and Quang Ninh - will be developed into a leading tourism centre for the country with various highly competitive products, reinforcing the national cultural identity.

According to a recently approved master plan on developing culture, family, sports and tourism in the area by 2025, tourism in the zone will be a spearheaded as a leading economic sector.

Ha Noi, Hai Phong and Quang Ninh will become cultural, sport and tourism centres of the nation, thus promoting the region’s development and its connection with others nationwide and with international counterparts.

The master plan focuses on preserving and upholding tangible and intangible cultural heritage values, and embellishing and upgrading regional relic sites. Movements to build new-style rural areas and modern urban areas will also be promoted.

The plan aims to construct and upgrade cultural and sporting centres, residential quarters, new urban areas with high-standards, and industrials parks and export processing zones with leisure centres for children.

The region will also intensify promotion activities within the country and in foreign markets while developing specific tourism products such as cultural and spiritual tourism, and sea and island-based tourism.

The plan targets the strengthened development of a number of national tourist sites including the Vietnamese Ethnic Groups Culture and Tourism Village, Ba Voi-Suoi Hai, Huong Pagoda and Thang Long Royal Citadel in Ha Noi; Tam Dao in Vinh Phuc; Con Son-Kiep Bac in Hai Duong, Cat Ba and Do Son in Hai Phong, Ha Long, Van Don, Tra Co and Yen Tu in Quang Ninh; and Pho Hien in Hung Yen.

By 2025, the region aims to greet around 9 million international tourists and serve over 26 million domestic visitors with revenues reaching VND170 trillion (US$7.65 million).

Thursday, 27 August 2015

HCM City prepares for travel expo in September

The 2015 International Travel Expo in Ho Chi Minh City will take place from September 10-12.

Viet Nam's main international tourism event, with its motto of One Decade - One Mekong - One World this year, is expected to draw 25,000 visitors besides the foreign media.

According to a release from the organisers, 22 Vietnamese provinces, 13 international tourism promotion organisations, and 25 tourism enterprises from 20 countries and territories have registered to take part in the event.

It will be held at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre in District 7.

Last year the event attracted 320 companies from 21 countries and territories and 22,000 visitors.

A WORLD FIRST TOURISM NEW ZEALAND EMBRACES NEW COLOURING-IN TREND

TNZ_Colour Your Journey_BTS Gabby Malpas
Tourism New Zealand is giving travellers the opportunity to ‘colour their journey’ with a series of adult colouring-in sketches available to download from newzealand.com

Colouring-in is believed to have the same effect on the brain as meditation has on the mind. Considering these benefits, Tourism New Zealand has created four sketches of iconic New Zealand locations from the new 100% Pure brand campaign.

With colouring-in fast becoming a popular pastime for adults to relieve stress and increase mindfulness, the colour sketches allow adults to unleash their creativity whilst planning their next adventure to New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand collaborated with New Zealand artist, Gabby Malpas to re-create four evocative destinations sketches using line art. The North and South Island images reflect those featured in the latest brand campaign and include a couple exploring Waiheke Island, Hobbiton™ Movie Set, Milford Sound and Cathedral Cove.

Gabby Malpas was born and raised in Auckland and is now based Sydney where she infuses New Zealand and Pacifica culture into her work. Gabby said she is honoured to be taking destination storytelling to a new level for a place that’s close to her heart.

“I feel privileged to recreate stunning New Zealand landscapes and really encourage people to bring these to life through their own creativity. The trend of adult colouring-in is taking the world by storm and I love that it encourages people to get back in touch with their artistic side whilst finding calmness along the way.

“New Zealand will always be my home and I drew deeply upon its uniqueness when sketching the line drawings. As people colour in the lines, I hope they will be inspired by the North and South Island’s beauty,” Ms Malpas said.

Tourism New Zealand General Manager, Australia, Tony Saunders says it’s a holiday for the mind.

“It’s exciting to offer people a new way to experience New Zealand - especially as we’re the first National Tourism Board in the world to showcase our landscapes through colouring-in.

“New Zealand has such a rich story; we chose the four locations as they each present a different adventure and are all easily accessible from Australia. Whether it is sipping wine at a vineyard on Waiheke Island or jumping in a kayak to explore the wonders of Milford Sound, New Zealand has something for everyone.

“Colour Your Journey is a great way to hero our new brand campaign, which marks a fresh chapter for 100% Pure New Zealand,” Mr Saunders said.

TNZ_Colour Your Journey_Artwork

Colouring-in books for adults have shot to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list with five of the top 20 best-selling books being colouring-in titles.

Tourism New Zealand’s latest brand TVC which inspired the line art illustrations can be found here

People are encouraged to use #colouryourjourney #NZMustDo and @purenewzealand to share their colouring-in creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.