Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Sixth and Final ICOMEX Event Has Successfully Concluded to Give Way to the First Annual ibtm latin america by Reed Exhibitions

ICOMEX (now ibtm latin america, www.ibtmlatinamerica), part of ibtm events, reaffirmed its position as Leading Trade Show for Incentives, Congress and Conventions in Latin America, following the success of the two-day event which took place in Mexico City last month.

The show delivered over 5,600 business meetings and welcomed more than 6,000 attendees, including 168 international and 177 domestic Hosted Buyers and more than 380 exhibitors, over 5,000 m2 of show floor.

More than 30 conferences and educational events, organized by industry bodies, took place, including: Meeting of directors of IAEE; Exchange leads, conducted by CVBs Latin Caribbean; MPI meal; AFIDA meeting; the signing of COMIR consolidation; HelmsBriscoe meeting; EMC certification; Congress Mexico City; CBVS meeting, to name a few.

The Healthcare Day Forum, organized by CETIFARMA and Reed Exhibitions Mexico, brought experts together to discuss the best practices to organize, certify, and regulate medical conferences and events.
Other popular events which were held at the show include; the Human Resources Leaders Meeting which highlighted the importance of incentive travel; The American Express Meeting; the MCI Americas Meeting; the Corporate Planners' Meeting – PCMA; GBTA Mexico Education Day as well as the Wedding and Romance Congress, where attendees could learn how to manage and empower the romance segment's vision and innovation in Mexico and Latin America. This congress gathered major industry gurus such as Camelú Millan, CEO of the Asociación de Consultores de Bodas y Eventos Capítulo México y Latinoamérica (ABC); Emilio Serrano, Creative Director of La Canapería; Melanie Ramone, Wedding Designer and CEO of ABC Puebla; and Elizabeth Uribe, CEO of Specialty Cleaners.

Finally from the close of this year’s show, ICOMEX is to be rebranded as ibtm latin america, which will join its sister events; ibtm world, ibtm arabia, ibtm africa, ibtm america, ibtm china and ibtm india under the ibtm events umbrella along with AIME in Melbourne.

David Hidalgo, Show Director of ibtm latin america, who announced the new name during the opening ceremony, said: “Being part of the ibtm portfolio will provide the event with a major boost and an international presence in the MICE industry, offering new opportunities for the international database of meeting planners seeking new business, which will allow the 2016 ibtm latin america Hosted Buyers to qualify for the international market.”

Ricardo Baquerizo, CEO of the AFIDA, commented: "Mexico has become a country of reference for convention tourism. However, to continue growing, it is essential to continue to professionalize this sector."

Alejandro Ramírez Tabche, Representative of COMIR, added further: "The main objective of this type of event is to strengthen and represent the commercial tourism sector. According to a study undertaken in 2011, conference tourism represented 1.43% of the GDP, and by 2014, the GDP of tourism in general represented 8.4%, 17% of which pertained to meetings tourism. We need to achieve growth in these figures year after year, and the only way to do this is to support events of this magnitude."

Miguel Torruco Marques, Secretary of Tourism of the Mexican Federal District, concluded: “In the first half of this year, hotel occupancy in four-star and five-star establishments was between 67 and 73 percent, which is 2% more than in the previous year. Economic benefits were 0.6% greater than they were at the same point in 2014.”

Our department will continue its efforts to make Mexico City the place for more international conferences that will position the city as a more attractive and reliable destination for the meetings industry.”

Valérie Exposito-Coitte, Conference & Incentive Manager for Europe, Russia, Brazil & Mexico for the Paris Convention Bureau who exhibited at the show commented: “The show has been very busy, efficient and dynamic. The quality of the buyers has been excellent; they have been well matched, professional and we have made great contacts. The rebrand of ICOMEX to ibtm latin america has made the event an international one, not just a local show, and will make it an easy sell to our partners.”

Jim McMichael, Specialty Markets Manager for Las Vegas commented: “It’s been an amazing experience for us. The venue has been a tremendous asset for us; the welcoming that you get as soon as you arrive means this is a show we’re going to do business at. The set up has been great and the facilities well-managed. This year's hosted buyers have been the best ever. We’ve had positive leads from the buyers we’ve met with, people that have been telling us they have business ready to come to Vegas, they’re looking for quotes, they’re looking for us to respond with immediate action. Groups that are looking to come to Vegas within the next year.”

The ibtm events portfolio is part of Reed Travel Exhibitions, the world’s leading provider of events and exhibitions for the travel and tourism industry.

Welcome to Mooloolaba - the heart of the Sunshine Coast

Perfectly located in the heart of Queensland's Naturally Refreshing Sunshine Coast, Mooloolaba Beach offers the perfect year-round climate, and is an ideal location for a relaxing family vacation, a quiet romantic weekend, or just a great place to escape to.

The relaxing atmosphere of the Sunshine Coast, the friendly people and the endless sceneic beauty of Mooloolaba Beach make it a hugely popular destination to visit. 

The world famous Mooloolaba Beach offers perfect views over the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean, as well as having some of the Sunshine Coast's best dining, shopping and scenic tours, and having a great range of golf courses. 

Mooloolaba Beach is known as one of the safest swimming beaches on the Sunshine Coast, with the northerly facing beach providing protection from the prevailing southerlies and south easterlies, ensuring near perfect conditions all year round. 

With three patrolled beaches within 1km of each other, there is always somewhere that is perfect for you and your family to swim, whether it's big waves, medium waves or no waves that you are after. 

So do a Jessica Watson and set sail for Mooloolaba - just come as you are!

Digital detox? No thanks!

  • Aussies are jetting away with $5K worth of gadgets packed in their luggage
  • Two-thirds of stolen tech items uninsured

Aussie travellers are choosing not to switch off from their digital devices, taking on average five pieces of technology on holiday with them – packing close to $5K in their luggage.

Signalling the death of the digital detox, new research conducted by Southern Cross Travel Insurance shows the majority (92%) of Aussies cannot bear to leave the country without their beloved gadgets. A third (35%) have completely ruled out ever taking an unplugged holiday and a quarter (26%) would be dubious of a destination if they had to go tech-free.

While Aussies continue to favour smartphones (71%), cameras (68%), and tablets (45%), over two-thirds (65%) spend their holiday capturing the perfect social media pictures, with selfie sticks and GoPros being added to the packing list.

Aussie travellers’ digital dependence is proving costly, with many people not insuring their technology. Despite the majority (94%) saying a stolen tech item ruined at least part of their holiday, more than two-thirds (65%) weren’t covered. Women were twice as likely to have uninsured lost tech items, while the over 65s were the biggest risk-takers and the highest uninsured age group.

Craig Morrison, CEO for Southern Cross Travel Insurance says: “The days of packing your travel bag with a book, pack of cards and a bag of sweets have passed. Aussie travellers are now bringing thousands of dollars of tech on holiday, yet many aren’t insuring these valuable items. Unfortunately when things go wrong – and items are lost or stolen – it’s not only making a severe dent in the pocket, it’s ruining holidays.

“We encourage all Aussies to check their travel insurance policies to ensure their gadgets are adequately covered so they can relax and enjoy their holiday. That said, we encourage all travellers to be as responsible with their personal belongings overseas as they would be at home.”

Gone are the days of guidebooks or playing wild card with restaurant choices. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Aussies are using technology to research and book restaurants and bars from their sunbed. No longer relying on a good sense of direction, nearly half (49%) of travellers use their technology to find their way around.

While relaxation is considered the most important aspect of a holiday (88%), Aussies are still unwilling to switch off from their social circles back home. Responding to emails (51%) and browsing social media (35%) are also leading ways to use technology.

Morrison added: “In the 30+ years we've been in the industry, we've seen technology change the way we travel to the extent it’s now essential for many. To ensure customers can leave the country with full peace of mind, our TravelCare policy provides cover for electronic items.”

Lost, stolen or damaged laptops, PCs and tablets are covered up to $3,000 per item, whilst other electronic devices are covered up to $1,500 per item.

Higher value items can be specified on the policy and covered up to $10,000 per item, with a $15,000 total limit for all specified items, for an additional premium.

For more information visit www.scti.com.au

Hainan Island to Launch Complete High-Speed Railway Circuit

A major high-speed railway loop is scheduled to commence full operation in Hainan province by the end of 2015. 

The eastern portion of the railway has been completed and operational for some time now, and the western portion is slated for completion in the coming months. 

Once the railway circle is fully completed, visitors to Hainan will be able to travel around the entire island by high-speed train, or using a combination of buses and trains if they so wish; either way, getting around Hainan will be even easier than before. 

Hainan’s tourism department is developing new day trips to capitalize on the new transportation methods and, according to the Hainan Tourism Association, the destination will be the first island in the world to boast a complete circle of high-speed railways, linking all of Hainan’s stunning tourism spots within one line.

RUSH - A MONTH CELEBRATING GYMPIE’S COMMUNITY, CULTURE & HERITAGE 3 – 31 OCTOBER 2015

It’s about who we are…it’s about what we do…it’s about where we are…it’s about where we come from…Rush Festival…an annual celebration of the Gympie region in Queensland Australia and its people.

During the month of October, musicians, artists, poets, actors and street performers will be out in force to show the strength of our regions creative culture for ‘Rush Festival’; a month celebrating Gympie’s community, culture, and heritage.

From October 3rd the festival kicks off at the Gympie Gold Museum with The Ultimate Steam Festival and the official opening of the Rush Festival month. The Rush Festival features a wide range of events and activities including Goldrush, the Great Moscow Circus, Heart of Gold International Short Film Festival, art exhibitions, Widgee Bush Balladeers Muster, Movies in the Park, concerts showcasing Thirsty Merc, Brothers 3 and Caitlyn Shadbolt, a dance party for the kids and much, much more.

This all-ages, family friendly festival celebrates the best in arts and culture the Gympie region has to offer.

For more information on events and tickets please click here

IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific 2015 Opens With New Highs

The Leading International MICE Event Centered in Asia-Pacific kicked off on Tuesday at the Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld Bangkok, Thailand, presenting the largest line-up of over 20 MICE, events intelligence, corporate travel and association management knowledge sessions helmed by over 30 expert speakers. Headlining the education front is the first-ever ASEAN MICE Forum, endorsed by the ASEAN Marketing and Communications Working Group. This initiative enables IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific to facilitate closer collaboration between ASEAN’s MICE industry leaders.

“The AMF @ IT&CMA is the first major step we are taking to raise awareness of the ASEAN region, made up of the 10 member countries, as a collective MICE destination. The AEC collaboration and close ties between the ASEAN national literally expands the possibility of any MICE programme to the region, as it can take on a multi-nation approach which will offer diversity and unique cultural experiences for participants. We are excited to initiate conversations with global MICE leaders during the forum,” said Khairuddin Abdul Hamid, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam, and concurrently the Chairman of ASEAN Tourism Marketing and Communication Working Group, ASEAN Secretariat.

The 2015 edition sees a growth of 14% in exhibitors’ participation, with sponsorship engagements increasing by more than 40% over 2014. All these have been made possible by TTG Events’ unwavering commitment to deliver quality content and buyers to the events. Featuring one of the largest CVB collections in the region, IT&CMA has once again delivered a truly global showcase of Convention Visitor Bureaus. The international presence is witnessed by the entrance of new European, Middle Eastern and North Asian bureaus like Berlin, Geneva, Lucerne, Zurich, Dubai and Jeju, while returning destinations Switzerland, Philippines, Macau and India are making a statement with an event bigger showing this year.

They are joined by all the leading Asian MICE destinations including Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Sabah and Thailand. This consolidates IT&CMA position as the must-attend MICE-focus event in Asia.

Ralf Ostendorf, Director Market Management of Berlin Tourismus & Kongress GmbH explained the motivation behind exhibiting at IT&CMA 2015 for the first time, “Our first experience with IT&CM Events was at IT&CM China earlier in Shanghai this year, and it proved to be a successful show for us. We are looking forward to the same success at IT&CMA 2015, as we see a lot of potential for Berlin as a MICE destination in Asia.”

Having reaped results from past sponsored networking functions at IT&CMA, Seoul Metropolitan Government, is delighted to return as a luncheon host for buyer and media delegates. Maureen O'Crowley, Executive Director, MICE Division, Seoul Tourism Organisation expressed her confidence backed by success at previous years' events, "We had been the proud sponsor of Seoul Gala Dinner for several years. This year, we are excited to engage with buyers and media at a Seoul Hosted Luncheon that will take place tomorrow (30 September). At this luncheon, we will be highlighting new incentives from Seoul, especially our special support programs. Through this intimate session, we want to create an event stronger working relationship with our target audience."

The first day of the 2015 edition will round up with the Opening Ceremony and Welcome Reception hosted by Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau. Held at Live House@Central World, TCEB will be playing host to all event delegates at the evening’s function themed ‘Heaven Unveiled. A Night in Paradise’.

For more information, log on to www.itcma.com    www.corporatetravelworld.com/apac

SHOPPERS ENCOURAGED INTO CBD

Sydney’s CBD retail area will be promoted in the lead up to Christmas with street lighting, banners, ‘pop- up’ stores, fashion parades and a nine-metre high Christmas tree as construction of the CBD and South East Light Rail gets underway.

In addition Market Street will be closed off to traffic for the the Boxing Day sales.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said, “The message for shoppers is that while George Street may close to general traffic between King and Market streets when key construction works get underway on 23 October, the city will be very much open for business,” Mr Constance said.

The Christmas program will run from late October until Christmas with further business activation campaigns being planned for other sections of the route.

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas Celebrates 15 Years with Fresh New Look

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, the luxury hospitality brand for modern travellers, is introducing a brand refresh to redefine its luxury positioning within today's demanding travel and hospitality environments. With the philosophy 'Life is a Journey', the brand evolution goes hand in hand with Anantara's global growth strategy.

Anantara celebrates the journey of life and puts the sense of anticipation and excitement back into the world of luxury travel and hospitality. Since the first property opened its doors in the Thai seaside town of Hua Hin in 2001, Anantara has grown into a collection of 34 luxury hotels and resorts in city, island and desert settings, across ten countries. From Asia and the Indian Ocean to the Middle East and Africa, Anantara has evolved into an award-winning brand that offers outstanding guest experiences in distinctive and iconic settings.

In an insightful understanding of market trends and traveller expectations, the development of the Anantara brand marks the start of a dynamic new journey, both in terms of a strategic international footprint and enhancements to the guest experience.

'Life is a Journey' reflects a contemporary interpretation of Anantara's unique philosophy and core values of natural luxury, in parallel with the brand's expansion plans. Setting an exciting stage for savvy travellers, the evolution embodies authentic luxury with a guest-centric focus. The evolution also incorporates a fresh new look and feel and a strong social and digital focus that encompasses a new website and mobile strategy giving travellers added value, reinforcing the brand's premium positioning within the luxury segment, whilst creating a platform for future growth.

“Anantara was born in response to discerning travellers seeking luxury with a sense of indigenous discovery. By infusing authentic cultural experiences and interactive journeys guided by gurus, Anantara satisfies guest desires to connect deeply and personally with their travel destinations,” explains Anantara founder and CEO and Chairman of Minor International, William E. Heinecke. “Fifteen years later, the way in which people travel and experience the world has changed, and Anantara's brand refresh has taken shape to meet the expectations, inspire the passions and delight the tastes of new explorers in city and resort destinations.”

To reflect the brand evolution Anantara has created a new logo, keeping the iconic water jar which symbolises Thai hospitality and generous spirit, and two Thai cushions representing ultimate comfort. The newly refined golden colour palette conveys Anantara's elegance, luxury and shining modern energy.

To complement the refresh an innovative new brand website has been launched, featuring built in class-leading CMS technology and other advanced features such as personalisation that will increase visitor interaction with the site. Anantara is also taking mobile technology to the next level delivering consistent experiences across all devices and enabling potential customers to enjoy a streamlined browsing experience across multiple languages on any screen size using responsive technology. A new Anantara blog will also be launched giving international expertise and insider knowledge on the indigenous elements.

“Advancing from Anantara's many successes to date, the brand refresh is a significant milestone paving the way for an exciting new era,” said CEO Minor Hotel Group, Dillip Rajakarier. “In an insightful understanding of market trends and traveller expectations, the development of the Anantara brand marks the start of the dynamic new journey, both in terms of strategic international footprint and enhancements to the guest experience.”

Bringing travellers closer to the details of destinations and the local fabric, be it the escape of a pristine white-sand beach or the heart of bustling city neighbourhood. Anantara creates journeys of inspiring, surprising moments and enjoyment – elevating all senses and connecting with the environment and culture of each one of its locations.

New ad campaign in Darwin to attract visitors in off peak season

The Northern Territory Government launched a new Australian-wide advertising campaign to help boost visitors to Darwin during the off-peak tourism season.

“The campaign message: “Darwin – take another look” aims to educate Australians about the cosmopolitan city Darwin has become and encourages them to book a holiday to the NT’s capital right now,” Chief Minister Adam Giles said.

“In recent years Darwin has grown into a vibrant, exciting, tropical city with a thriving café culture, urban beer gardens and modern waterfront dining.

“The problem however, is only those living in the city know about this change. So, as part of the new Darwin campaign, a series of short videos will be broadcast online across YouTube and Facebook showing the transition of old Darwin vs the new Darwin.

“The videos will show holiday-makers Darwin is different to what they might have expected and urge them to ‘take another look’.

As part of the Darwin campaign, the TODAY Show will broadcast their entire show live from the Darwin Waterfront tomorrow morning. The broadcast will involve pre-filmed segments on dining and outdoor experiences available in Darwin to show viewers the city is home to a range of unique activities found nowhere else in Australia.

“The broadcast will also promote the Million Dollar Fish competition with Season One kicking off this week and showcase regional activities on Darwin’s doorstep in Litchfield, Adelaide River and Berry Springs,” Mr Giles said.

“The TODAY Show broadcast will be seen by hundreds of thousands of Australians and will deliver substantial exposure for Darwin and our new campaign.”

Channel Nine TODAY Show co-host and ‘Mate of the Territory’, Lisa Wilkinson, said: “As a regular visitor to Darwin, it’s been exciting to see the city’s transformation into a not-to-be-missed holiday spot.

“While staying true to its laid-back charm, the new Darwin has that sense of freshness and energy that I thrive on when I travel. From activities like airboating along the floodplains to flyboarding at the lagoon, or doing a pub crawl by helicopter, the destination really sets itself apart from the rest with its unique adventure offering.

“I look forward to lifting the veil on this side of Darwin, and showing Aussies why they should hasten to book that unforgettable trip.”

The new Darwin campaign will build on the ‘It’s about time…Do the NT’ campaign, which ended in August, and will see Tourism NT partner with Virgin Australia, Apollo and Helloworld to promote holiday packages and sale fares to Darwin.

“These discounted flights and accommodation will help encourage bookings in the off peak season and stretch out the shoulder season as long as possible for our tourism operators and business,” Mr Giles said.

Darwin will also feature in an episode of “South Aussie with Cosi”, a travel program showcasing affordable destinations to South Australians, airing on 11 October on Channel 7.

The Darwin – take another look campaign will also involve digital advertising on popular news websites and a 30 metre long digital billboard at Sydney Airport, which will feature Darwin content for four weeks from 5 October to 1 November.

“This initiative is part of the Government’s plan to drive the development of North Australia and build a $2.2 billion visitor economy by 2020,” Mr Giles added.

Ca Hue singing recognized as artistic national cultural heritage

The People’s Committee of Thua Thien - Hue province, on the evening of September 22nd, organized a ceremony to receive a certificate recognizing Ca Hue (Hue folk singing) as an artistic national cultural heritage.

Earlier the same day, a scientific seminar themed “Ca Hue - values, preservation and development” was held with the participation of Hue culture scientists and researchers. 25 entries sent to and presented at the seminar affirmed the historical, cultural and artistic values of Ca Hue. Suggested solutions to preserving and promoting the heritage values of the folk singing were also discussed at the seminar.

TOP INDUSTRY STUDENTS HONOURED

Recipients of the 2015 Minister’s Student Achiever Awards in Tourism and Hospitality were honoured last week by Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres at a special ceremony held at Parliament House in Sydney.

Mr Ayres congratulated 13 students on their outstanding achievements in their chosen fields of study and acknowledged the importance of professional training to the tourism industry.

“These students have shown great commitment and determination towards a career in tourism and hospitality and it was inspiring to see the incredible talent and enthusiasm on display,” Mr Ayres said.

“The NSW Government, through Destination NSW, remains committed to helping grow the NSW visitor economy and this includes creating more job opportunities for our next generation of tourism industry professionals.”

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said the academic achievement shown amongst the students will no doubt make a significant contribution to our State’s tourism and hospitality industry in years to come.

“The tourism and hospitality industries are the world's largest employers and the Minister’s Student Achiever Awards is a wonderful platform to showcase the State’s best students who are on the right path to becoming future industry leaders,” Ms Chipchase said.

Since 1990, the NSW Government, through the Minister for Tourism, has acknowledged academically high achieving tourism and hospitality students at the annual Minister’s Student Achievers Awards ceremony.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

ILTM Americas 2015 celebrates luxury travel’s ‘culture of creation’

“When you urbanise, you get rich and when you get rich, you travel more.”

ILTM Americas 2015 opened yesterday at The Fairmont Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico, the fourth edition of the luxury travel event dedicated to designers, agents and buyers of elite travel from across the Americas. This week’s event welcomes 265 exhibitors representing the most luxurious products and destinations around the world who will meet with 265 exclusively invited and fully hosted buyers from the Americas – a 20% year on year increase.

Urbanist Greg Lindsay began the event’s Opening Forum last night with a presentation entitled “Tomorrow’s World”. Identifying where the luxury traveller of the future would reside, he commented that although half the world currently live in cities, by 2040, 80% would be urban dwellers in both new and old cities. Greg, author of the book Engineering Serendipity, and co-author of Aerotropolis, commented: “When you urbanise, you get rich and when you get rich, you travel more.” He also observed three trends that would shape the future of cities: Hypermobility, Serendipity as a service and Rolling your own attractions.

Alex Banayan, recently included in Forbes’ “30 under 30” list and the youngest author to be published by Crown Publishing Group then spoke about “Success, The Next Stage”. Highlighting learnings from some perceived great leaders of our day ranging from Bill Gates to Lady Gaga, he said: “To get to the next level in the travel industry, you need to change your mind-set: we have much to learn from other industries.” He also observed that the new generation of travel is about selling ‘moments’ as opposed to specific experiences – it is the moment that forms the luxury travel memory. “The Millennial generation are willing to spend a lot of money and put themselves into very harsh circumstances, for the self purpose of having their minds blown”, he commented.

To conclude, Tom Marchant, co-founder of Black Tomato, one of the world’s leading creators of bespoke experiential travel explored his own experience of “Building a Business Through Storytelling”. He stressed the importance of developing a ‘culture of creating captivating stories to engage travellers’, also highlighting the business reasons of doing so i.e. building empathy and maintaining momentum. Tom also urged the luxury travel delegates present to look outside the industry because “customers compare experiences, products and services across industries - use that information to create your own opportunities”. In conclusion, ILTM Americas media partner and owner of Mexican publishing group Travesias, Javier Arredondo joined Tom on stage to highlight Black Tomato’s bespoke approach of ‘through adversity, stories are created.”

The business of ILTM Americas now continues until Thursday 1 October. 60% of the agents present are from the US, 25% from Mexico (the largest representation ever to attend this event), 15% from Canada, plus 10 special guests from Brazil; 85% of buyers are new to ILTM Americas and 50% are new to ILTM events. A total of 15,000 one-to-one pre-scheduled appointments will take place throughout the week, not to mention the many social networking opportunities that will take place.

Alison Gilmore, ILTM Senior Exhibition Director, also commented: “We are delighted to be back at the Fairmont Mayakoba for the fourth edition of ILTM Americas – September’s definitive luxury travel event. The creative expertise of the speakers at last night’s Opening Forum has really set the scene for this year’s event and we look forward to week of building luxury travel business and business opportunities.”

For further information, please see www.iltm.com/americas or follow @ILTM_events.

ILTM Americas, 28 September – 1 October 2015
Riviera Maya, Mexico
www.iltm.com/americas
@ILTM_events / #ILTMAmericas

Caloundra Coastal Walk

The Caloundra Coastal Walk stretches 25 kilometres along some of the most scenic shorelines you could ever wish to see.

The path is a continuous coastal link from Golden Beach in the south, where it hugs the Pumicestone Passage, before passing Bulcock Beach and Kings Beach on its way around Caloundra Headland heading north following the long, sandy beaches of Kawana to Mooloolaba. 

Along the way visit some historical sites including Military Jetty used for military operations in World War II, and the heritage listed Kings Beach Bathing Pavillion constructed in 1937. 

The headland section follows a trail of plaques honouring the lives of those lost in war. 

Keep an eye out for the wreck of the SS Dicky that ran aground on Dicky Beach in 1893 during a cyclone.

Caloundra Coastal Pathway

The Coastal Pathway is council’s longest shared pathway. It stretches from Pelican Waters (Bell’s Creek) in the south to Tewantin in the north [JPEG 144KB].

Council’s vision is for this pathway to be a world class scenic route connecting the coast. People can explore the beautiful coastline by walking, jogging or cycling. The pathway runs beside beaches, parks and leisure areas. Some sections of the Coastal Pathway are on-road for cyclists.

Caloundra’s Coastal Pathway is a breathtaking nine-kilometre stretch of paths, meandering along Caloundra’s beaches from Bells Creek in the south to Point Cartwright in the north.

With sights such as a lighthouse, lakes, creeks and surf beaches cropping up along the Coastal Pathway, this scenic trail is a great reason to get out and about and explore Caloundra’s natural beauty.

The former Caloundra Council spent $4.3 million on the planning and construction of the Coastal Pathway, designed specifically for walking and cycling.


Signage

Look for the new Coastal Pathway symbol to make finding your way along the pathway easier. Additional information is provided on maps and distance markers [JPEG 654KB]. More signs will be added to the pathway as funds become available.

The pathway has been divided into 11 sections called ‘connections’. Connection lengths work well for one day walks or casual cycling. The first connection to be signed is the Maroochydore Connection [PDF 180KB]. It stretches 4.4km from Cotton Tree Park to The Esplanade, Mooloolaba.


Funding

Council, the Queensland Sport and Recreation Program and the Queensland Government Cycle Network Program have jointly funded construction of many sections of the coastal pathway.

Alexandra Headland, Maroochydore and Mooloolaba Rotary Clubs contributed financial assistance towards installing stage 1 of the new signage.

11TH INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL EXPO HO CHI MINH CITY 2015 (ITE HCMC 2015)

Largest and most established travel exhibition in Vietnam and the Mekong Region

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 25 September 2015 – The 11th edition of the annual International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City 2015 (ITE HCMC 2015) concluded on 12 September 2015 at Saigon Exhibition & Convention Center with the highest number of visitors and transacted deals recorded.

ITE HCMC is a national tourism event of international magnitude and is directed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee. Over the past 11 years, thanks to the tremendous support and cooperation of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, ITE HCMC has become a brand name in the tourism industry not only in Vietnam but also in the neighboring counties in the Lower Mekong Sub-Region. Following the success of previous ITEs, the 2015 event under the theme “Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia-Myanmar-Thailand: Five Countries, One Destination”, continued to be a major gathering of travel business and offered many opportunities for information exchange and establishment of long-term cooperation and partnerships.

The three-day event hosted 200 international and regional buyers and attracted over 23,000 visitors. More than 250 exhibitors from 19 countries and territories, including Brunei, Cambodia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Poland, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK, as well as 27 Vietnam provinces participated in the event, cementing its status as one of the fastest growing international tourism trade events in the region.

“After 11 editions, the exhibition has indeed made significant advancements and has developed substantially. ITE HCMC 2015 sees increased investments from many of our exhibitors – in term of the size of their booth design. Some examples include Vietravel, TST, Fiditour, Viet Media Travel, Cambodia, Korea, Thailand pavilions. ” said Mr Pham Huy Hoai, Senior Project Manager, Informa Exhibitions.

There was a range of exciting activities at ITE HCMC 2015, aimed at promoting socio-economic cooperation and development among the regional countries, including forums and seminars to introduce regional travel insights and relevant travel destinations and recommendations. The Organizers also developed customized programs covering many activities such as: two ballots for prizes a day with many valuable prizes, including full tours from destinations including Ho Chi Minh City to Cambodia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, North America and Europe; cheap trans-Vietnam tours; performances; ballots for cheap tickets and promotion programs from airlines, In addition, there were also many attractive programs for the visitors, such as the Photo Exhibition displaying ASEAN nations and people in response to the anniversary of ASEAN Community, which aimed to strengthen friendship and cooperation between the ASEAN countries.

Exhibition Highlights

  • Opening Ceremony / Mekong Tourism Alliance Awards (MTAA)
  • Photo Gallery: “Beauty of ASEAN Community" // “Amazing ASEAN”
  • Friendship Golf Competition of Mekong river sub-region countries
  • International press conference chaired by VNAT
  • Pre-show and post-show tours for hosted buyers and hosted media 
  • Seminars on prospective tourism markets (CLMTV, Europe, India, Indonesia, etc.) 
  • Travel Fun Fair Day for public visitors 

The next edition of ITE HCMC will be held in Ho Chi Minh City from 8-10 September 2016.

Caloundra Music Festival 2015

Caloundra Music Festival will feature many Australian and international artists, including Hoodoo Gurus, Baby Animals and Ben Lee joining an already impressive line-up which includes Xavier Rudd, Angus and Julia Stone and San Cisco.

CMF Director Richie Eyles says the Gurus, Ben Lee and Baby Animals will all perform on Sunday 4 October.

“These 3 acts combined offer up a feast of hits that we have all grown up enjoying”, he said.

‘The Gurus are legends”, he said.

‘And The Baby Animals are back by popular demand following their performance last year, and this time they will be on the main stage”.

“Ben Lee was also a hit a couple of years ago and is excited about making his return to Caloundra”.

Other acts announced today include Pseudo Echo, Ash Grunwald, Tijuana Cartel, Abbe May and Lime Cordiale.

CMF continues its relationship with New Orleans with the inclusion of Royal Southern Brotherhood, along with George Porter and the Runnin’ Pardners. Cyril Neville (Neville Brothers) and George Porter (The Meters) respectively head up these two New Orleans institutions, who are sure to deliver an extravaganza of powerhouse blues and funk. Other internationals announced today include JJ Grey and Mofro(US), Babylon Circus(France) and Steve Poltz(US).

CMF Director Richie Eyles says he is particularly excited about the international line-up.

“We are so lucky to have international acts of this calibre coming to perform in our beautiful beachside backyard”.

“Babylon Circus are a bunch of fun”, he said. “I would describe them as a French version of a cross between The Cat Empire and The Melbourne Ska Orchestra”.

“And Steve Poltz is inimitable, talented and hilarious”.

CMF will also feature a host of local artists including Doolie Shadforth, Agnes J Walker and the Cry babies, Hoo8who and The Brains Trust, to name just a few.

Early Bird Tickets are on sale now and are expected to sell out fast. Tickets and further details at www.caloundramusicfestival.com

List of Artists:
Hoodoo Gurus
Baby Animals
Ben Lee
Ash Grunwald
Pseudo Echo
Tijuana Cartel
OKA
Lime Cordiale
Royal Southern Brotherhood
JJ Grey & Mofro
Babylon Circus
George Porter & the Runnin Pardners
Steve Poltz
George & Noriko
Alex Crook
Agnes J Walker & the Cry Babies
All Star Show Band
Band of Frequencies
Beverly Thrills
Dear Willow
Doolie Shadforth
Dubbary
Emma Beau
Fieu
Funk Majestic
Hoo8Hoo
Jimmy Davis
Landerzx-i
Michael Backhouse
Swing Factor
The Akhoustics
The Brains Trust
The Perries
The Settlement
Ukelele Blitzreig
Angus and Julia Stone
Xavier Rudd and the United Nations
Good Times Band Featuring Kate ceberano, Joe camilleri, Brian Cadd, Ross Wilson
San Cisco
Ukelele Blitzreig
Thundamentals
Josh Pyke
Blue King Brown
The Beards
Meg mac
Diesel n Dub
The Badloves
Katchafire (NZ)
Larry Braggs Soul Club (US)
Dynamic Hypnotics
Melbourne Ska Orchestra

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Opens Tangshan Property

The Shangri-La Hotel, Tangshan opened at the end of August in Phoenix New Town, a new eco-oriented urban area adjacent to Tangshan’s financial and commercial center. 

Tangshan is just two hours east of Beijing and home to lush natural parks, majestic South Lake, the UNESCO-listed Eastern Qing Tombs, remote portions of the Great Wall, and many other historic and cultural relics. 

The luxurious new hotel property boasts 301 rooms and suites with five-star amenities, 34 serviced apartments, an elegant lobby, health club with gym, yoga, indoor pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms, restaurants, ballroom and function spaces, and more. 

Click here for more information on the Shangri-La Hotel, Tangshan.

Spain hits record figure of 24 million tourists in summer months

Summers have been unbelievably promising for Spain. The record figure of 24 million tourists (24,681,668) in the three-month summer period was surpassed for the first time between June and August 2015, an increase of 3.2% on the same period last year. In August, strong growth was posted from France, the United Kingdom, the Asian markets and the United States (the latter up by 25%).

According to FRONTUR – the Inbound Tourism Survey, Spain surpassed the record posted between January and August 2014 with the arrival of 47,201,960 inbound tourists in the period, an increase of 1.8 million and year-on-year growth of 4.1%.

The United Kingdom was the top emitting market between January and August with almost 11 million tourists (10,885,345), an increase of 2.9% and accounting for 23.3% of the total. August saw growth of 0.5% with 2,145,949 tourists. This increase was felt by all the main autonomous regions except Catalonia.

In second place was France, which surpassed the record figure of two million inbound tourists in a single month for the first time in August. A total of 2,088,801 French tourists came to Spain in the month, 5.1% more than in August last year.

With an increase of 7.1% and 8,164,180 inbound tourists in the first eight months of the year, France continues to be the market posting the highest growth among the main emitting markets. 17.3% of all tourists who visit Spain come from France.

Germany posted a decrease of 8.1% in August, down to 1,186,66 tourists. This counterbalances the significant increase of 11.9% posted by this market in August 2014.

These figures from the German market mainly affected the Balearic Islands, Catalonia, the Canary Islands and Andalusia. However, a total of 7,083,813 German tourists visited Spain in the first eight months of the year; a decrease of 0.4% on 2014.

The Nordic markets maintained their position as the fourth emitting market for Spain with 3,323,311 tourists between January and August. This represents a slowdown of the downward trend seen in previous months to -4.1% in this period. 7.8% of all inbound tourists came from these markets. A total of 362,722 tourists visited Spain from the Nordic markets in August, an increase of 0.1% on August 2014.

With 12,119,491 tourists in the first eight months of the year, Catalonia was the top destination region for tourists visiting Spain while, with 8,726,760 tourists between January and August (up 3.1%), the Balearic Islands accounted for 23.9% of the total.

The Canary Islands maintained growth of 1% with 7,595,694 inbound tourists – the most moderate of all the main destination regions while the Region of Valencia was visited by 4,605,052 tourists in the first eight months of the year, an increase of 4.4% and 10.6% of the total.

In August, almost one million tourists (979,261) visited the Region of Valencia, an increase of 6.3% in the month. The number of tourists from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France increased while the number from the Nordic markets and Germany fell slightly.

Air travel was the most popular form of travel in the first eight months of the year, accounting for 79.3% of the total, with 37,444,460 inbound tourists arriving by air – an increase of 4%. 8,912,801 inbound tourists travelled by road, representing 18.9% of the total and an increase of 4.4%.

Both forms of travel saw increases in August; by 1.8% and 1.2%, respectively.

Hotel accommodation was chosen by 62.1% of tourists although the number of tourists travelling on a package holiday fell slightly by 0.4%, slowing the downward trend seen in recent months.

HUNKA-HUNKA BURNIN' LOVE DONNY EDWARDS HEADLINES 2016 PARKES ELVIS FESTIVAL

Australia’s leading Elvis Presley festival, the 2016 Parkes Elvis™ Festival, will celebrate The King of Rock'n'Roll™ with headline U.S. Elvis tribute artist Donny Edwards as well as a major new concert series event, the 2016 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest™. The 2016 Parkes Elvis Festival will take place over five hip-swingin' days from Wednesday 06 to Sunday 11 January in Parkes, NSW.

Headlining the 2016 ClubsNSW Keno Feature Concert Series will be U.S. Elvis tribute artist Donny Edwards who will showcase The King’s classics over four spectacular tribute shows.

On Thursday 7 January Donny Edwards will perform a special Opening Night Concert in 'Donny Edwards Live From Las Vegas'. Then go back to where it all began in Sun Studios as Donny brings to life the best of Elvis in the '50s in 'The King of Rock'n'Roll' on Friday 8 January.

Relive The King’s passion for live performance and power ballads with 'Elvis: the '70s' on Saturday 9 January, and for his Sunday afternoon matinee finale, Donny will celebrate the monumental event that reignited our passion for Elvis, 'The ’68 Special'.

Donny Edwards - Elvis
Donny Edwards has performed extensively across the globe, performing his flawless tribute to The King in front of audiences as large as 25,000. Donny has worked alongside many of the original musicians who performed with Elvis Presley including the Jordanaires, the Sweet Inspirations, DJ Fontana, Charlie Hodge andBob Moore. Donny Edwards is the only Elvis tribute artist to be granted permission to perform his show at Elvis’s Graceland estate since 1977.

Parkes Elvis Festival continues to deliver the best Elvis tribute artists in the world. For the first time in its history, the Festival proudly presents a preliminary round of the 2016 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. The best Elvis tribute artists from Australia and New Zealand will compete live at Parkes Leagues Club. Backed by the dynamic eight-piece Elvis In Concert band, the Heats will be at 2pm on Friday 8 January before the top eight battle it out in the Final at 2pm on Saturday 9 January.

The winner of the Parkes preliminary round will then travel to Memphis to compete in the semi-final round of the 2016 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest during 'Elvis Week' in August 2016. The worldwide Contest is officially endorsed by the estate of Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.

The 2016 Parkes Elvis Festival features more than 150 free and ticketed events, shows, concerts and competitions. The 2016 program is now available online and in free print pocket-guide format. The souvenir program is available for pre-order and will be distributed in November.

For all programming and ticketing information, visit www.parkeselvisfestival.com.au

Anantara Launches Complimentary In-Room “handy” Smartphone at Anantara Siam Bangkok and Anantara Riverside Bangkok

Innovating hotel stays and Bangkok discovery, Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel and Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort now offer a complimentary smartphone called “handy” in all guest rooms, and are the first hotels in Thailand to offer such a service.

Much more than just a smartphone, the aptly named handy device is preloaded with destination specific features to offer a superior guest experience and interactive travel solutions for leisure and business travellers. handy keeps guests connected, informed and entertained 24 hours a day, both onsite at the hotels and when they are on the move.

handy also offers unlimited local and international calls to ten destinations from each hotel, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, China, the United Kingdom and the United States. Unlimited 3G data connectivity comes with a WiFi tethering capability to other mobile devices such as laptops and tablets and also pre-installed popular social media apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These features negate the hassle and expense of data roaming and high phone bills, and make it exceptionally easy to stay connected with friends, family or work.

Whether guests are in Bangkok for business or pleasure, getting out and about for sightseeing, shopping, events or meetings are seamless with a selection of pre-installed travel apps, including currency conversion, maps, GPS, news and translation services, enhanced by the option of installing additional apps from the Google Play Store. An informative digital city guide includes recommendations and promotions for restaurants, shops and tourist attractions, with both Anantara Riverside Bangkok and Anantara Siam Bangkok boasting prime locations enabling guests to take full advantage of this feature and make the most of their time in the Thai capital. Returning to the hotels after exploring the city is made easy using the handy taxi card feature, which details the hotels’ addresses written in Thai with a location map included for easy reference.

FESTIVAL AIMS TO BLEND THE BEST OF ESTABLISHED EVENTS

Music, art and technology will collide in Wollongong this October long weekend when the city presents the inaugural interactive Blender Festival. The event aims to combine the popularity of well-established events such as the Yours and Owls Festival and Wonderwalls.

Event organisers say they aim to blur the lines between the experts and the audience by giving people more involvement, access and imaginative challenges.

Festival Director Ben Perry said the multi-day festival has a diverse range of events blending all aspects of music, arts and technology will both ticketed and free events spread across Wollongong’s Globe Lane, Stuart Park and a range of parks, cafes, theatres, pop-up spaces and laneways.

“It’s also great to be involved with a festival that has a large component of free events, such as the opening night street party in the City Centre that enables all to experience what Blender is about,” he said.

The Blender Festival runs from Thursday, October 1 to Sunday, October 4 at venues across the city. Events are both ticketed and free.

Air New Zealand Unveils Flagship Auckland International Lounge

Air New Zealand has unveiled its new flagship international lounge at Auckland International Airport featuring an ultra-modern design and tailored seating zones to meet the changing needs of travellers whether they're flying for work or leisure.

At more than 2,000 square metres, the new lounge is significantly larger than the previous lounge and can comfortably seat more than 375 customers.

The lounge is located in a different area of the terminal from the current lounge. It overlooks the runway and features a covered outdoor terrace and fireplace offering a year-round outdoor area with views of the runway.

The Auckland International Lounge was designed with award-winning global architectural firm Gensler, which also partnered with Air New Zealand on the new Sydney International Lounge and the Star Alliance International Lounge in Los Angeles Airport.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the sleek new lounge has been designed with feedback from customers in mind.

“With a growing network and customer base, the number of high value customers using our lounge has grown and one of the most common pieces of feedback we receive on our Auckland International Lounge is around space.

“This new lounge is significantly larger than the previous space and can accommodate around 40 percent more customers. Also recognising that our customers travel for different reasons and have different needs, we've created a mix of separate zones to offer the upmost comfort and convenience for those looking to relax, refresh or get some work done before they fly,” says Mr Luxon.

Additional features include:
  • 24 different styles of seating allowing customers to create the lounge experience that works best for them.
  • A new food theatre with cuisine cooked to order at meal times by the lounge's resident chef as well as a buffet offering which customers can help themselves to at any time.
  • A central bar area offering barista-made coffee that customers can pre-order directly from the Air New Zealand mobile app as well as premium New Zealand wines and signature cocktails.
  • A separate kids' area modelled on a Kiwi tree house with books, interactive toys and the latest children's programmes to keep little ones entertained.
  • A business zone with a range of seating and tables with electronic charging, Wi-Fi and printing facilities.
  • Enhanced connectivity with more than 300 power points and more than 300 USB outlets.
  • A New Zealand-centric design featuring large scale digital screens with looping time lapse imagery of New Zealand scenery and a “digital ceiling” over the bar area to reflecting the changing New Zealand sky.

Gensler Principal Architect David Loyola says, “The challenge was to design a lounge that reflected the Air New Zealand brand, responded to the unique sense of place, and elevated the customer experience. We are optimistic we have achieved these goals and it's very exciting to see the project completed.”

The opening of the new Auckland International Lounge is another milestone in a four year $100 million programme to redevelop Air New Zealand's lounge network and follows the completion of the new Sydney International Lounge and the Auckland Regional Lounge. More lounge developments are planned for a number of domestic and international ports over the next few years.

The Auckland International Lounge is located on level one of the international terminal and will be available to eligible customers from Tuesday 29 September.

BACK TO HARTLEY OFFERS FRESH LOOK AT HISTORY

Visitors to country NSW’s Back to Hartley family fair are being encouraged to explore the wider region at the annual event. Visitors will be entertained with live music by Lithgow Folk Club; take a trike or pony ride; have a close encounter with a furry friend at the petting zoo; make a fire poker with metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick at Talisman Gallery; and hit a bullseye at the archery.

Hartley Historic Site manager Steve Ring said, “If you’re coming from Sydney, travel up the Great Western Highway and see the Blue Mountains, spend the day with us at Back to Hartley, then drive into Lithgow and head home via the Bells Line of Road through the Hawkesbury to experience the World Heritage Area from a very different perspective.’’

Back to Hartley will be held at Hartley Historic Site, Hartley, from 9am to 4pm Sunday, October 27.

Ethnic group keeps folk songs alive

Nearly 100 kilometres from northern Bac Giang city is Mau village, a familiar destination for tourists and researchers in Vietnam who want to explore the unique culture of the Dao ethnic people.

Ban Thi Duyen, a local from Mau village in Tuan Mau commune, Son Dong district, is one of the few people who can remember the Dao ethnic group’s folk songs.

“Pao Dung” or “Pa Dung” folk singing is born from labour, daily life and affection between people, Duyen said.

It is performed in traditional festivals such as “cap sac” (coming-of-age), wedding party, funeral, and worshipping events, she added.

The melodies also reflect a love for life, labour and the unique culture of the Dao ethnic community.

The art form offers special features depending on the performance style. According to the daily-singing style (for lullabies, gathering and farewell songs), artisans could improvise on the spot to create countless different songs.

However, for ritual-singing, artisans must remember the exact lyrics to perform at ceremonial events. The music and lyrics must have specific regulations and standards due to Dao ethnic spiritual beliefs.

The difference between the two singing styles is also reflected through the musical instruments; the music in ritual-singing is exciting, while that of daily-singing is soft and sweet.

However, social development threatens the existence of Dao ethnic folk songs. Only a handful of people in Mau village can sing the songs which are no longer popular among the youth.

Tuan Son village, which is over 10 kilometres from Mau village in Tuan Dao commune, Son Dong district, has 60 Dao ethnic households.

Locals said hardships prevent them from keeping the folk songs alive.

La Trieu Van, Head of the district’s culture and information centre, added that preservation is complicated as most Dao people pass the folk songs on through word of mouth. Additionally, the number of people hearing and understanding the songs can be counted on one hand, he said.

To preserve this traditional art, it is necessary to instil love and appreciation among young people and include it in public art programmes, he suggested.

EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS TRAILBLAZING EXPLORERS

Following the recent renovation of Sydney’s Australian Museum a new major exhibition highlighting our country’s leading explorers will open in November. The explorers, from Douglas Mawson and Charles Kingsford Smith through to modern day adventurers Jessica Watson and Dick Smith, will be celebrated in the exhibition, titled Trailblazers: Australia’s 50 greatest explorers.

The exhibition was announced this week by Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant and the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres.

Mr Ayres said the Sydney exclusive exhibition showcases the remarkable achievements of extraordinary Australians and is set to be a drawcard for visitors to the harbour city.

“Trailblazers will be highly interactive and is sure to inspire exploration and discovery in its audiences through the use of activities including rock climbing, a caving experience and interactive activities,” Mr Ayres said.

“The exhibition is expected to bring more than 10,000 visitors to Sydney and the NSW Government is proud to support the exhibition through Destination NSW.”

Trailblazers: Australia’s 50 greatest explorers will be held at the Australian Museum from November 28, 2015, to July 18, 2016.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Secret Retreats expands into 14 Asian countries with 10 exquisite new properties

Announcing the addition of 10 new properties across the region, Secret Retreats is excited to expand its portfolio into three more Asian countries - Myanmar, Nepal and Taiwan. In just 3 years since it was founded, the Secret Retreats community has reached a new milestone this month, now in 14 Asian countries and featuring more than 60 properties, with a full collection of luxury and unique offerings that include hotels, inns, cruises, villas and restaurants.

“The beauty of what we do with Secret Retreats is that we are always looking for new properties that can offer our guests a different way to experience Asia, so that they can meet caring hosts who are willing to share their passion.” — Stéphane Junca, Managing Director of Secret Retreats

Secret Retreats 10 new members:

Nepal, Pokhara Valley

Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge
Perched 1000 feet above the Pokhara Valley in central Nepal, with a spectacular Himalayan backdrop, Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge is an oasis of tranquillity. Ideal for pre and post-treks located in an authentic Nepalese rural setting.

Myanmar, Inle Lake

Inle Princess Resort
Sheltered in a peaceful inlet on the shore, beneath the Blue Mountains, Inle Princess is a hidden refuge and gateway to the unique cultural and natural treasures of Inle Lake. Explore with boat trips, walks, bike rides or canoes, and dine on the lake at sunset.

Myanmar, Mrauk U

Mrauk U Princess Resort
Along the Kaladan River, in a bend of lotus ponds and mangroves, Mrauk U Princess is a gateway into the ancient kingdom of Arakan, and a way of life that has remained almost unchanged for centuries. Explore archaeological wonders, 500 year-old temples and stupas scattered across the hills of the former capital, once home to Bengali literati, Samurai mercenaries and Mughal Princes on the run. 

Taiwan, Pingtung County

Mudanwan Villas
This hot spring resort is situated in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, set amidst remote mountains on the banks of Tou-Mu Lake. Each suite features both an indoor and outdoor hot tub with spring water that can be adjusted to any temperature.

Indonesia, Bali (Ubud)

Kenanga
Surrounded by lush greenery and breath-taking views overlooking its own rice paddy fields, Kenanga Hotel offers an ideal gateway to Ubud’s culture. Just 5 minutes by car from the town centre, replete with a swimming pool and restaurant.

Thailand, Andaman Coast

Golden Buddha Beach Resort
Away from the tourist crowds, Koh Phra Thong is a gloriously unspoilt remote island. 28 privately owned traditional wooden homes sprinkled along the shoreline of a sheltered bay along a beautiful and deserted 12 km beach. 

Cambodia, Siem Reap (Angkor)

Maison Polanka
Set in the spacious grounds of a family estate, with a gorgeous saltwater swimming pool and a fine dining restaurant, Maison Polanka is a collection of two Khmer wooden houses on stilts and villa with five stylish rooms making one’s stay here a truly authentic Cambodian experience.

Cambodia, Battambang

Les Maisons Wat Kor
Located in the heart of a Khmer Village with beautifully preserved traditional wooden homes on stilts, within the atmospheric Cambodian countryside. Maisons Wat Kor features a restaurant-bar and salt-water swimming pool, replete with Khmer cooking classes and classic Khmer massage services. 

Vietnam, Mekong Delta

The Island Lodge
Located 90 minutes by car from Saigon, this 12-room lodge is set on a small island in the Mekong Delta with Mekong River views and tropical gardens. 

India, Ladakh 

Nimmu House An architectural jewel built by one of the King of Ladakh’s cousins, this unique 30-room home features two Buddhist temples, stables, and a large orchard laden with hundreds of apricot, apple and walnut trees. Nestled at 3,100 metres above sea level, embrace Himalaya’s rich cultural heritage.

For reservations, please contact Secret Retreats at dream@secret-retreats.com

Secret Retreats

Secret Retreats is a collection of unique properties (boutique hotels, villas, boats and restaurants) throughout Asia. It is a community built by independent owners and chefs to share resources and ideas. Together, we offer our guests authentic travel experiences to the very heart of Asian culture and traditions. Our owners are vibrant advocates of their surroundings with the generosity to share special moments with travellers who are curious to experience and discover the “essence of Asia.”
www.secret-retreats.com

Sunshine Coast continues its double digit international visitor growth, with UK now number one international source market

Figures in brief (International Visitor arrivals to June 2015)
  • Sunshine Coast up 10.6% to 257,000; holiday visitors up 10.4% to 194,000
  • UK now number 1 international market up 23.7% to 59,000;
  • Germany fastest growing: up 30.6% to 32,000 visitors
  • NZ pipped by UK, but inbound still grows 0.3% to 58,000 visitors
  • Asia inbound up 7%
  • ‘Queensland on Stage’ to further boost Sunshine Coast in Europe market

The Sunshine Coast continued its double digit international visitor growth with a 10.6% increase in overseas arrivals, fuelled by Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL) promotions in northern Europe and New Zealand.

The figures were announced today as part of the International Visitor Survey (IVS) released by Tourism Research Australia.

The UK (up 23.7% to 59,000) took over as the Sunshine Coast’s international source market, followed closely by New Zealand (58,000), with Germany (30.6%) once again producing the highest growth figures.

The strong growth in international arrivals saw the Sunshine Coast attract 257,000 visitors for the year till 30 June 2015.

New Zealand continued to be a powerful contributor, producing 58,000 visitors, while increasing awareness in the Singapore, Malaysia and China markets saw Asian arrivals increase 7% for the year.

The Sunshine Coast’s double-digit growth was part of an impressive overall performance by Queensland in the International Visitor Survey. Queensland was up 7.7% overall, and every Queensland region recorded positive growth, with Brisbane up 9.8%, Gold Coast 6.2%, Tropical North Queensland 9.8%, Whitsundays 10.2% and Fraser Coast up 14.1%.

Simon Ambrose, CEO of Sunshine Coast Destination (SCDL) said that SCDL campaigns in Europe – especially Germany – as well as New Zealand were producing sustained benefits for all local areas within the Sunshine Coast region.

“The benefits of targeting mature markets such as Germany, the UK and New Zealand – which really understand and appreciate the diversity of what the Sunshine Coast offers – continues to pay dividends,” said Mr Ambrose.

“The English may have won the Ashes but they’re voting with their feet and escaping England to come to the Sunshine Coast!

“We are also seeing the benefits of so many English, Kiwis and Europeans coming to live on the Sunshine Coast as that has significantly increased the number of friends and relatives coming to the region over the past year. The arrival of direct Sydney-Qantas air services from December will increase that flow even further.

“This weekend we host a vast number of European travel media for Queensland on Stage, which will showcase everything from Australia Zoo and the Great Beach Drive to Mooloolaba Prawns and Woombye Cheese, and this will further fuel interest in the destination in the European markets.”

Mr Ambrose said that SCDL’s campaigns were also resonating with emerging markets, such as backpackers: “Noosa has become the backpacker capital of the Sunshine Coast, with the IVS survey showing a 11.5% increase in backpacker numbers to Noosa. Backpackers now represent more than 55% of Noosa’s international visitors, and evidence suggests that backpackers tend to return later as higher-yielding tourists that will benefit the whole of the Sunshine Coast.

“We expect the New Zealand figures to accelerate in the second half of the year and through to 2016 as a result of increased flights and SCDL’s major promotions in the New Zealand market. Already July arrival figures at Sunshine Coast Airport are showing double-digit growth for Air New Zealand flights.”

The optimism for continued strong New Zealand inbound growth was shared by Sara MacLeod, Director of Sales New Zealand, Mantra Group, the largest hotel operator on the Sunshine Coast with brands such as Mantra, Peppers and Outrigger.

"The SCDL campaigns in New Zealand have really driven substantial business from New Zealand to all areas of the Sunshine Coast,” she said. “It has captured the imagination of New Zealanders and has translated into year-round growth for the destination.

"The campaigns have certainly resonated in the New Zealand market, with the Sunshine Coast’s attractions, diversity and laid-back feel producing a very positive response."

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson, who participated in an overseas investment road-show in June that included the two fastest growth markets of UK and Germany, said the results were a “great result for our region and a reward for the hard work being done by Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd”.

“Everyone appreciates how important tourism is as an economic driver on the Sunshine Coast,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“In our new diversified economy, tourism will continue to be very important and it’s very pleasing to see such strong results from the some outstanding work that is being done in this sector by the many people who are dedicated to growing our tourist numbers.”

Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL) is the regional tourism organisation that manages and promotes tourism on the Sunshine Coast, representing local tourism areas such as Caloundra, Gympie, the Hinterland, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, and Noosa.

Explore the Sunshine Coast

On the Sunshine Coast, the only thing more refreshing than the water is the lifestyle. With its endless beaches, lush rainforests and easy smiles, it’s a place where you will feel like a local from the moment you arrive.

By the beach

Choose your patch of sand from over 100 kilometres of pristine coastline – stretching from Caloundra in the south to Noosa and the rainbow sands of the Cooloola coast in the north – and soak up the warm sunshine and laid-back atmosphere.
  • Paddle into the home of longboarding with a surf lesson at Noosa’s Main Beach.
  • Hire a boat, kayak or stand-up paddle board and cruise the calm waters of Pumicestone Passage or one of the many lakes and inlets.
  • Build sandcastles, eat fish and chips, or just lay back with a book on Mooloolaba Beach.
  • Swim, ride and run your way through a triathlon, marathon or fun run with the best views on the coast.

Hinterland charm

From rolling surf to rolling hills, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is full of natural beauty, cosy cafes and boutiques waiting to be discovered.
  • Be entertained by local artists and stock up on arts and crafts at Eumundi Markets.
  • Take in the view from the Glass House Mountains or wander through national parks and trails.
  • Pair local cheese and wine in Maleny or treat yourself to high tea and antique shopping in Montville.

Sample the ‘Sunny Coast’

With award-winning restaurants, food trails, vibrant food festivals and bustling farmers markets, the Sunshine Coast is one giant celebration of food and wine.
  • Tick off your foodie bucket list with beachfront and rainforest restaurants worth travelling for.
  • Sample just-picked strawberries and fresh-caught seafood at an outdoor farmer’s market.
  • Create your own cuisine at one of the many cooking schools.

Olympic Winter Games Promotes Tourism in China

With China cemented as the host of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games (and making Beijing the first city to host both the winter and summer games), an influx of hotels are in development throughout the country.

The Olympics will take place in China’s capital city, as well as in the Hebei province, bringing with them a new high-speed rail line that will transport athletes, journalists and spectators quickly and comfortably. 

Along the route and in the surrounding areas, more than 670 new hotels, with 205,000 rooms, are in the works. Starwood’s Element hotel brand is planning the 200-room Element Chongli, slated in to open in summer 2017. 

Several luxury hotels – including Bulgari Hotel and two properties from Mandarin Oriental – are under construction in Beijing, and many more are being developed throughout China.

Caloundra Fringe Festival - 11 days of arts, culture, comedy, cinema, music & culinary delights

If you’re looking for a little or a LOT of music, arts, culture, comedy, film or culinary delights, the Caloundra Fringe Festival has 11 days and more than 80 different events to choose from.

A little taste of what’s coming to Caloundra these September School Holidays . . .

Live art in the park, watch as the mystery doors come to life through out Kings Beach . . .

Get your hands a little dirty and up-cycle your old tool box into a new herb garden . . .

Snuggle up and enjoy Twilight Seaside Movies on a picnic blanket with gourmet treats and a glass of red . . .

Pack your charcoal and shade in the curves at late night life drawing classes . . .

Be inspired by the culture and history of stories told through dance . . .

Be part of the interactive LIVE artscape in Lions park through film and photography . . .

Entertain the kids for free with beach cricket, volleyball & sand castle competitions . . .

Learn how to create the perfect pizza with award winning Italian chefs . . .

Laugh until you cry with a raucous night of comedy under the stars . . .

. . . and so much more . . .

Gather your tribe and venture into a world of interactive festivities right here on the Sunshine Coast. New things to discover around every corner, there’s something for everybody happening in Caloundra these September school holidays!

A sneak peak of things to come . . . Laugh until you cry with a night of raucous comedy under the stars . . . Live art in the park, watch as mystery doors come to life throughout Kings Beach . . . Get your hands a little dirty and up-cycle your old tool box into a new herb garden . . . Be inspired by the culture and history of stories told through dance . . . Be part of the interactive LIVE artscape beachside, through film and photography . . . Learn how to create the perfect pizza with award winning Italian chefs . . . Move with the good vibrations of street-side buskers as they deliver lyrical treats . . . and so much more!

Continuing to grow year after year our grassroots community is the life blood of the
. We look forward to another year of welcoming new and old friends to eat, drink, stay and play in Caloundra!

NSW WINS AGAIN: NUMBER ONE FOR EVENTS

NSW has again been recognised as one of the world’s best event cities. Sydney, Newcastle and Coffs Harbour have each been bestowed the International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA) World Festival and Event City Award, and Destination NSW has also received seven awards including three Gold, in the 2015 IFEA/Haas & Wilkerson Pinnacle Awards for Vivid Sydney.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said the awards come off the back of a string of major event investments and event wins in Sydney and Regional NSW.

“These accolades are an important acknowledgement of the State’s robust major events strategy and the tireless work of the NSW Government through Destination NSW, to ensure world-class events are coming to NSW,” Mr Ayres said.

“This is the sixth year in a row that Sydney has been awarded by IFEA, reaffirming our rightful position as the major events capital of Australia. The harbour city is home to Australia’s largest event, Vivid Sydney which attracted a record 1.7 million attendees this year, and hosts blockbusters including Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour – Aida, Australian Open of Surfing and the NRL Grand Final.

“It’s also particularly pleasing to see Coffs Harbour receive its inaugural IFEA World Festival and Event City Award, following the success of major events including Coates Hire Rally Australia, F.I.T Touch World Cup and the Australian Surf Festival.

“We are also delighted that Newcastle has been recognised at such a prestigious event, demonstrating the continued efforts by Government and locals alike, to establish Newcastle as one of the leading destinations for major events.”

President and CEO of IFEA Steven Schmader said the international panel of judges noted that among the many great world cities considered for the award and recognition, Sydney consistently stands out as a leader in all that they do.

“It is a tribute to the combined leadership of Destination NSW, your city and events, that Sydney is the only global destination to have received this award every year since its inception, and a pleasure to see the DNA of the successful model that you have built spreading throughout other cities across NSW, as well as being emulated by your peers around the world," Mr Schmader said.

The seven IFEA/Haas & Wilkerson Pinnacle Awards won by Destination NSW for Vivid Sydney were as follows: Gold, Best Social Media Site; Gold, Best Newspaper Insert/Supplement; Gold, Best Event Promotional Photograph; Silver, Grand Pinnacle; Silver, Best Event Website; Silver, Best Outdoor Billboard, Silver, Best Press/Media Kit.

CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL IS SPOT ON

Once a year, during the Spring school holidays, Riverside Theatre in Parramatta is transformed by thousands of children and their families, dozens of artists and oodles of imagination with our annual Spot On Children’s Festival.

Embracing children’s love of singing, dancing and playing make-believe, Spot On Children’s Festival takes them into curious and magical worlds through live theatre, quirky circus, sensational storytelling, marvellous music and far-out films.

Spot On Children’s Festival includes both free and ticketed events and is for children of all ages, their families and carers. It offers something for everyone with easy access, relaxed performances for children with specific needs, a variety of session times, a mixture of live performances and hands on experiences. We also have a new retro movie day called Be Kind Rewind, bringing back to the big screen many retro favourites plus a couple of more recent family films. A great way to kick off the festival, all tickets to Be Kind Rewind films include a free popcorn.

Spend a day or three hanging out at Spot On enjoying the festival atmosphere, seeing shows, having a movie marathon, playing in the courtyard, eating food and letting little imaginations run wild.

Oktoberfest comes back next month

The German Business Association in Viet Nam and Windsor Plaza Hotel will host Oktoberfest Viet Nam this year from October 8 to 10 and from October 14 to 17 at the hotel, Windsor Plaza Hotel announced in a statement.

Taking its roots from the original Oktoberfest held in the Bavarian region of Munich, Germany since the 19th century, Oktoberfest Viet Nam has become an annual event to celebrate the introduction of German culture and partnership to Viet Nam. The event recreates the authentic atmosphere found in the massive beer halls of the original Oktoberfest, complete with German cuisine, imported German beer, and traditional Bavarian music.

The event this year will feature performances of An Ton Show Band, a traditional Oktoberfest band which has played concerts worldwide.

Attendees are promised to witness and enjoy the festivities from the rituals of opening a barrel of beer to wearing traditional costumes, dancing to foot-stomping music, authentic German cuisine such as sausages, sauerkraut, sauerbraten and pretzels, overflowing beer, aside from games and raffles.

In Viet Nam, the Windsor Plaza Hotel and the German Business Association have been hosting Oktoberfest since 2005. Oktoberfest Viet Nam was recognized by Reuters as one of the Top 10 Oktoberfest celebrations outside Germany, and was also featured in the Chicago Tribune magazine.

Ticket costs VND1 million (US$44.5) per person on Wednesday and Thursday and VND1.3 million on Friday and Saturday. Those interested can buy tickets online at www.oktoberfestvietnam.com or call the hotline at 0908 477 489.

Early bird bookings will enjoy a 35% discount until Friday. Windsor Plaza is located at 18 An Duong Vuong Street, District 5.