Monday, 30 November 2015

Popular China TV Show Running Man to Be Filmed in Australia

Australia is to feature in two episodes of popular Asian reality show, Running Man, as part of a collaboration between Tourism Australia, Tourism Victoria and theSouth Australia Tourism Commission (SATC) aimed at attracting more Chinese visitors Down Under.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Museum, Rundle Mall and Barossa Valley are amongst the locations which will provide the backdrop for a series of celebrity challenges filmed recently in Victoria and South Australia. The mega-production involved four days of intense filming and a crew of more than 200.

The Australian episodes are expected to be watched by more than a hundred million fans of the cult series in China and across Asia, when the show airs in January 2016.

As a spin-off of the original Korean series, the Chinese version of Running Man was first broadcast in October 2014 and is now in Season 3. In that time, the show has accumulated a viewership of more than 23 billion and generated over 150 million social media posts. The first three episodes of this season's show have already generated more than 200 million online views.

Tourism Australia Managing Director John O'Sullivan, who got to play a small cameo role in one of the episodes, said the popularity of the show would build upon the recent success Australia had enjoyed showcasing its top tourism attractions through the eyes of well-known Asian celebrities.

“With its massive celebrities and huge audiences, Running Man is reality TV on steroids. Importantly, the audience profile for people watching the show aligns very closely with our target consumer, which makes the show a very appealing marketing platform for us,” he said.

The Federal Minister for Tourism and International Education, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck said, “Tourism Australia's research has shown that Australia sits at the top of Chinese travellers' travel 'wish list'. Running Man is the perfect opportunity to showcase Australia's strength in these areas to this crucial market and encourage them to convert that aspiration into actual holidays.”

"The Victorian Government is delighted that Victoria will again provide a backdrop for this blockbuster television format, broadcasting the sights of Melbourne to many millions of Chinese viewers. China is Victoria's biggest market in terms of visitor numbers and accounts for 31% of all international tourism expenditure across the State so productions such as Running Man are pivotal in promoting our destination there," said Victoria's Minister for Tourism & Major Events, John Eren.

South Australia's Tourism Minister, Leon Bignell, said the filming of Running Man in South Australia had already generated a lot of social media interest.

“China is an important tourism market. Recent data shows 32,000 Chinese tourists visited our state in the 12 months to June 15. This is a 9.3 per cent increase compared to the previous year. We are on track to reach our goal of 57,000 Chinese visitors by 2020, and Running Man provides a huge platform to showcase our state and help us reach this target,” he said.

Running Man (China) is produced by Zhejiang Satellite Television (ZJSTV). In each episode, a star-studded cast of 'resident' cast members is joined by two special celebrity guests, who all compete in a series of challenges in order to avoid elimination.

The Chinese stars featuring in the Australian episodes include actor and singer Deng Chao, model and actress 'Angelababy' (Yeung Wing), actor Chen He, actor Li Chen, actor and singer Wong Cho-lam, singer and actor Lu Han and actor Zheng Kai. During the visit, Mr Wong Cho-lam was inducted into Tourism Australia's 'Friends of Australia' program, in recognition of his involvement in previous Tourism Australia marketing initiatives.

Speaking of their time in Australia, all of the Running Man stars agreed that the experience had been “truly amazing', paying special tribute to the warm welcome they had received from their Australian hosts during the filming.

The show's Chief Producer, Mr Cen Junyi, and Chief Director, Ms Chen Gezhou, said they were glad to cooperate with Tourism Australia, adding that “the beautiful scenery, world-class travel destinations, friendly people, fresh and tasty food and wine experiences of Australia had significantly enriched the content of the program.”

This is the second time Tourism Australia has brought Running Man Down Under, having successfully lured the Korean version of show to Australia in 2013 when three episodes were filmed featuring Queensland's Gold Coast, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Palm Beach as well as Melbourne's laneways and surrounds. This was the first time the show had ever travelled outside of Asia to film.

Other Asian celebrities Tourism Australia has previously enlisted to help promote Australia include Chinese TV personalities Show Lo and Rainie Yang and Nicky Wu and Ekin Cheng.

China is Australia's second largest inbound tourism market by volume, with 966,100 Chinese visitor arrivals in the 12 months to September, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures.

Scotland like “Game of Thrones”

Scotland’s £1.9 billion meetings and conference industry is the sector’s answer to Game of Thrones, according to a leading international business expert.Guest speaker Bo Krüger made the colourful analogy ahead of the Business Tourism Scotland Conference 2015, which takes place in Edinburgh on Tuesday 1 December.

Held in the Assembly Rooms, the conference will be chaired by BBC Radio Scotland presenter Louise White with an opening address by Fergus Ewing, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism.

One of Europe’s leading meeting designers and the co-creator of the Danish Meetovation concept, which makes conferences and meetings more efficient and responsible, Bo said: “For me, Scotland is the meeting industry’s answer to Game of Thrones. You have amazing castles, dramatic landscapes, a heroic history, strong whisky and brave and bold people, with plenty of humour.”

The conference will feature a series of parallel sessions on the themes of Digital Opportunities, led by Charlie Smith, Director of Marketing at VisitScotland; and the Economic Impact of Business Tourism, with Bruce Redor, from Gaining Edge and the Joint Meetings Industry Council.

Bo said the 300 members of Scotland’s business tourism industry attending the event will “learn why engagement is the easiest and cheapest way to increase the value of meetings and events”, adding: “They will also learn that they have to think differently about the service they provide if they want to create a healthy business in the future.”

Business events account for around 25 per cent of all visitors to Scotland, making an estimated annual contribution to the economy of £1.9 billion.Talking about the biggest challenges facing the business events industry, Bo said delegates at the conference need to understand that “the real value in meetings does not lie in great food, beautiful furniture or using the latest technology. The real value lies in increasing learning, networking and creativity, so the meetings can become more than just a nice experience, but actually impact the organisation afterwards.”

Staging Rentals & Construction (SRC) marks 25 years in the industry

AIDA
This month, the recently rebranded Staging Rentals & Construction (SRC) is celebrating their 25th year in business as a supplier of event equipment and construction to the events industry.

David Comer, Managing Director of SRC, who has worked at the company for 17 years, said this important milestone is not only an opportune chance to take stock of the company’s past, but also to focus on ensuring the company’s viability and continuing success for the future.

“For more than 25 years we’ve been at the forefront of the many changes that have occurred in the events industry; to do this, we’ve had to continually evolve and adapt to the environment around us and stay ahead of our competitors in terms of services provided.

“I believe our willingness and ability to stretch our capabilities, when our clients have needed it, has been the true key to our success. We’re always up for a challenge and have the know-how and the fire-power to deliver,” said Mr Comer.

Meri Took, Founder of SRC, said he is proud of the company’s legacy, but more so of the company’s drive and ambition for the future.

“The team don’t spend much time focusing on what has been; they spend a lot of effort working out how they can do things better, what new products they can offer and how they can constantly make customers’ events more memorable,” said Mr Took.

“I think it is our constant focus on looking ahead together, with our dedicated team across the country, that makes all the difference,” concluded Mr Comer.

Hundreds of kilometres of drapes later, and with more than 10,000 events successfully rolled out, there is no sign SRC is slowing down.

Just recently, off the back of their successful build of Nefertiti’s head for Aida, SRC has been appointed as the set builders of the exciting 2016 season of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, which will see another major construction project completed.

www.stagingrentals.com.au

It's Snowing, Ski Resorts Are Open and Oregon USA Is Paving the Way for Winter Dreams

It's snowing, ski resorts are open and Oregon USA is paving the way for winter dreams

Crater Lake is one of the snowiest inhabited places in America, receiving an average of 13.4 metres of snow per year. Free, ranger-led snowshoe walks are a fun way to explore this winter wonderland while learning how plants, animals, and people survive in the deep snow. Snowshoes are provided free of charge, and there is no cost for the tour. The park does not collect an entrance fee in the winter months.

Metro Portland is famous for its quirky, avant-garde culture, iconic coffee shops, boutiques, farm-to table restaurants and micro-breweries and all of which are driving visitors to get out and explore this fresh vibrant scene. Come winter the city paves the way in access to the 12 ski resorts across the coastal US state of Oregon.

Combining a city stay and tax-free shopping with a ski resort visit has become a trend for overseas visitors to Oregon as they seek out all the comforts of city living with the extra luxury of purpose built resorts and ski lodges.

Mt. Bachelor is Oregon's largest ski area, located near the town of Bend – three and a half hours from Portland – offers a wide variety of skiing and snowboarding options for visitors. Many of Oregon's skiing is done off the stratovolcano Mt. Hood. Several ski areas like Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood Meadows, Cooper Spur and Mt. Hood Ski Bowl call Hood home.

These resorts have one of the longest ski seasons in North America operating from November through to May. Mount Hood's season is even longer boasting year round skiing.

The popular mountain, Mount Hood, is the tallest point in all of Oregon at 3426 metres above sea level, staying cool up top and is covered by glaciers at all times. Visitors can see it looming in the near distance above Portland's skyline making this region a year round summer and winter playground. All that separates this ski areas from the city are 84 scenic kilometres, and if you can't manage to make it out for some day skiing, you can always hit the slopes at night. The Mt. Hood Ski Bowl Area is the largest night skiing destination in the country.

Oregon's 13 ski areas offer a huge range of skiing, snowboarding and other snow sports fun — from bombing the black diamond to chilling on the bunny hill. We've got terrain parks, snow shoeing trails and snow parks for tubing —not to mention summer skiing on Mt Hood. Keep updated on current mountain conditions and events at SkiOregon.org.

For more information on all of Oregon's ski resorts visit: www.skioregon.org, watch : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ml24G7e9amI or get social with us @TravelOregon.

Ski Max is also offering a 'Stay 7 nights & Ski 6 days' at Mt Bachelor from only $1315 per person. Offer Includes: 7 nights twin share staying at Sunriver Resort in a Park City Peaks in a Lodge Room and 6 day Park City Lift Pass. *Conditions apply. Valid for travel 4 January – 20 March 2016. Prices are subject to change and availability. Book & pay by 15 December 2015. For more information call 1300 136 997.

Australia’s Largest Fair Trade Festival Back and Better than Ever

Melbourne based organization, Moral Fairground, is running its seventh annual Fair@Square festival in early December. Designed by Melbourne banker, Susanna Bevilacqua, the purpose is to promote Fair Trade, conscious consumerism and corporate social responsibility.

“I am excited to announce that Fair@Square is back and better than ever in 2015. With the help of our sponsors, our volunteers have worked tirelessly to conceptualise and deliver a program like no other. There will be live cooking demonstrations, fashion shows, seminars, live music, art exhibition, delicious multicultural food, documentary screenings, activities for the kids and ethical markets just in time for Christmas.”

Bevilacqua continued, “The thing I’m most excited about is screening Dukale’s Dream, a feature length documentary about Hugh Jackman’s life changing experience after befriending an Ethiopian coffee farmer. After spending time on Dukale’s farm, Hugh realized that something as simple as a cup of coffee could have a profound impact on global coffee.”

Ethical businesses Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand, LUSH Australia, Australian Ethical and Ecostore are proud supporters of the event.

The Fair@Square festival will be held at Federation Square on December 5-6, 2015.

For more information: http://moralfairground.com.au/

Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City listed in top 10 world’s destinations with reasonable cost

The world’s famous travel guide book publisher “Lonely Planet” has just announced the top 10 world’s destinations with reasonable cost for 2016. Both Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City have ranked 2nd.

Located in the Red Rive Delta, topography of Ha Noi is alternated by rivers, lakes, mountainous and hills forming many beautiful sightseeing such as: Hoan Kiem Lake, West Lake, Ba Vi Mountain, Huong Son Landscape…In addition, over 1,000 years of establishment and development with many ups and downs of history, Ha Noi still remains its valuable ancient architecture works including Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Ha Noi, Quan Thanh Temple, Tran Quoc Pagoda, Quan Su Pagoda, Long Bien Bridge…and maintains many famous traditional craft villages such as Bat Trang Pottery Village, Ngu Xa Bronze Casting Village, Van Phuc Silk Village…

Belonging to the monsoon tropical climate region, Ha Noi has four seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, of which autumn (from September to November) is the most beautiful and romantic time. In autumn, Ha Noi’s landscapes appeal by yellow celtis sinensis pers, red almond leaves and buds sesame flowers, green sticky rice and the fragrance of sua flowers…

To Ha Noi, visitors will have the chance to enjoy traditional dishes such as noodle soup, Ho Tay fried shrimp cake, La Vong grilled fish pies, Thanh Tri stuffed pancake… Besides, visitors can discover ten famous food streets including Hoan Kiem Lake (sweet and sour salad), Cau Go (seafood), To Tich (fruit relish), Ta Hien (fresh beer), Gam Cau (grilled belly), Phung Hung (hot pot), Ly Van Phuc (grilled chicken), Hoe Nhai (beef steak), Ngu Xa (rice noodle roll), and West Lake (snail).

Located between Southeastern region and Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City has many tourist areas and entertainment attractions such Can Gio Mangrove Forest, Thanh Da Peninsula, Suoi Tien Park, Dam Sen Park…; temples and pagodas (Quoc To Temple, Giac Lam Pagoda…), the French architecture works (Nha Rong Wharf, Ben Thanh Market, Opera House, Post Office, Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral...) and historical relics (the Cu Chi Tunnels, the Independence Palace…)

Ho Chi Minh City has focused on constructing and developing its tourism infrastructure as well as invested in building more tourist sites such as Mot Thoang Viet Nam, Binh Quoi, Suoi Mo…, recently Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street- the most modern walking and traffic street in Viet Nam

Due to being the centre of fertile southern land, Ho Chi Minh City cuisine is diversified and attractive. 7 food streets in HCMC selected by many visitors include: Vinh Khanh and Thanh Thai (snail), Nguyen Canh Chan (fruit), Ha Ton Quyen (sparkling puller), Vo Van Kiet (lemon tea), Nguyen Thuong Hien (mixed rice paper salad), and An Duong Vuong (grilled octopus).

Besides Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City, other destinations with reasonable cost in the top ten consist of Estonia; East Africa; New Mexico State (the United States); Bosnia and Herzegovina, Galicia (Spain); Quebec City (Canada); Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast; Timor-Leste and Western Australia.

"Impossible to Describe the Beauty of This Place." - Top Chefs from Gourmet Escape 2015 on Your Margaret River Region

The three-day Margaret River Gourmet Escape held from Friday November 20 until Sunday November 22 included 31 satellite events throughout the region. The event hub, the Gourmet Village at Leeuwin Estate hosted 150 artisan producers, 70 wineries offering over 350 wines to try, interactive food and wine activities, along with hands-on attractions featuring world renowned chefs and wine experts. It is every foodie's dream.

The biggest festival of food and wine in Western Australia delivers extraordinary experiences to patrons, but also to visiting chefs. Here's what some of the world's best chefs had to say about Margaret River:

Marco Pierre White, chef & restaurateur, London, UK

“The world is a very beautiful jigsaw, made up of lots of little, beautiful pieces. But without question, Margaret River is one of the most beautiful pieces within that jigsaw.”

Antonio Carluccio, cook, restaurateur, writer

“Margaret River is wonderful. The beauty of the place and the wonderful produce is what I like. Yesterday I went abalone fishing and I was very impressed with the quality of abalone. The clean air is incredible. It's a wonderful part of the world.”

Fulvio Pierangelini, Rocce Forte Hotels, Italy

“We are in such beautiful surrounds and I love the sea. The sea is a passion of mine and here the colours are beautiful. The people in Margaret River are all so nice. I stopped at a wonderful market, which I love to do, to see, touch and smell the produce. I need to get to know the produce of this area, learn about it and respect the ingredients. That is the basis of my job, of every chef's job, is to respect the ingredients. The produce is wonderful here.”

Shane Osborn, Arcane, Hong Kong

“I've been to Margaret River about six times over the past ten years and it's changed a lot, changed for the better. Margaret River is something very unique. Smiths Beach is beautiful, my kids love it. I love the space and the people, especially the people. People here are happy and show that true Aussie hospitality. They look you in the eye and shake your hand. I love the hospitality, and that's the business we're in, the hospitality business. The food and produce here is incredible. In Hong Kong we don't have the space to grow our own food – everyone in Margaret River has a connection to food or wine. Even when you go to people's houses, they have veggie gardens in their backyard and want to show you what they're growing, and I love that.”

Ryan Clift, The Tippling Club, Singapore

“This is my second trip to Margaret River. I love the beauty of Margaret River, driving along Caves Road from one winery to the next, and I love the wine. The produce here is fantastic. I don't think you can get a bad meal in Margaret River to be honest. I'm cooking at Vasse Felix at the moment and to walk about the back and just start picking stuff is amazing. I miss that living in Singapore, everything is imported. My courtesy driver went out at 5am this morning and came back with two crayfish for me from his craypots – I wish I could do that! You're really spoilt for ingredients here. It's a beautiful, beautiful part of the world.”

Aaron Carr, Vasse Felix, Margaret River

“Visiting chefs are surprised with our produce and pristine environment. To come here from overseas, walk down the beach, forage for fresh ingredients in the morning for a dinner we're cooking that night just blew them away. The clean pristine environment and amazing produce is what really impresses. And the camaraderie among chefs, the friendliness – they love that.”

David Moyle, Franklin, Tasmania

“I was in Margaret River about four years ago. I like the beaches of the region and I love being near the water. At Smiths Beach where I'm staying, the beaches are stunning. The landscape is so unique and so definitively Australian. It doesn't feel like anywhere else, it's unique. The energy and the ocean – it's angry and peaceful at the same time. It's dramatic. The ocean is fierce, but so calm in the shallows. I've already been for a swim this morning and I've brought my board with me so hopefully I'll get a surf in.”

Matt Stone, Oakridge, Yarra Valley, Victoria

“I've been to every Margaret River Gourmet Escape and actually started my cooking career here. I love so many things about Margaret River – the people, the produce, the terrain and mix between ocean and forest. There's such diversity, which also reflects in the produce. The stuff from the ocean is amazing, from the paddocks is amazing, and the wild food is fantastic. Best of all, the people are so, so welcoming. The local chefs bend over backwards to help us, and there's a genuine welcoming feeling. People are happy here, and no wonder, they live in such a wonderful part of the world. It makes me want to come back here for much longer than just a weekend – it'll happen one day.”

Mark Best, Marque, Sydney

“I love the different flora and fauna – a unique combination of the beaches, forests, how the hills are and the light. Even driving down from Perth, when you get here you know you're in a little oasis. I'd like to spend a week or two in a beach house in Bunker Bay and just do nothing. The region is beautiful.”

Richard Ousby, Stokehouse, Melbourne

“I love the wide open space, the beaches, the wineries – you can't go wrong with a glass of wine from this region, and I love how relaxing it is. I'd love to spend time here and relax until the cows come home. Maybe I'd go and see a few cows too. I'd love to spend time in Margaret River just chilling out.

To hear the crash of the waves as you wake up, is one of those beautiful things that never grows old.

Everyone is very welcoming, it's all very beautiful. Every road you drive on to get somewhere, you are in picturesque countryside, and I feel lost every left or right I take. It's absolutely beautiful. If I come back again I'll definitely be tagging on a couple of days each side.

It is very different to other parts of Australia. This wine region is so vast and remote that it has its own identity. It's not like the Hunter Valley for example, it's very different in that way. I guess what's so nice is that it's so vast and untouched.”

Scott Bridger, Bib & Tucker, Perth

“Margaret River is my go-to whenever I have a few days off. We bring the kids and it ticks all the boxes. It's got great produce, good beaches and I've got a lot of friends who live down here, and it's where we want to end up living later in life. It's got a great community feel – someone grows this, someone grows that and they swap radishes for lettuces. That old school sense – people are into bee-keeping, fermenting and the old traditions. It's a really beautiful place.

You can find your own little beach that yours for the day. It's so beautiful. There aren't many beaches around these days that are untouched. It's what brings tourists here, it's not the big hotels, it's the ruggedness of it.

We have to come down here to get produce, it's all grown in this region. A lot of the fruit and vegetables are grown down here, because it's got more rainfall than we do in Perth. The marron is amazing. The truffles in Manjimup. I could sit here all day! We use about 80 per cent WA produce in the restaurant and a lot of it comes from the South West. We have a good relationship with the farmers.

Lack of WiFi in some ways is what people are looking for. They want to get away from it, if they're coming down south it's for a getaway, to be surrounded by nature and good food and surf. It's the real things in life. You can disappear and you have a good excuse for it.”

Michael Elfwing, Cape Lodge, Margaret River

“I've been in Margaret River for two years now. I love the clean air, the scenery – impossible to describe the beauty of this place in one or two words. The weather is great and I love that there's a seasonal change. Visiting chefs have commented that you can actually smell the trees, you can smell the bush, and smell the ocean. Our clean, bright, fresh climate surprises a lot of them, especially those that come from big cities. And the produce of course, it's amazing. We love living down here, it's spectacular to spend time outdoors, take my wife, son and our three dogs for a long walk on the beach and enjoy a winery lunch or pizza up the road. It's great.”

Eamon Sullivan, Louis Baxter, May Street Larder, Bib & Tucker

“I've only just started enjoying the Margaret River region. I'm really enjoying exploring it, the wine, the food and produce – the protein, cheese, diary and all amazing. At the launch last night at Meelup Beach, it felt like we were in a photo, just amazing views.”

Tony Howell, Margaret River Hospitality Group – Morries, The Common, White Elephant Beach Cafe

“As a chef, I'm excited to meet other great chefs from all over the world, see their ideas and see how they use WA products. Without a doubt the Gourmet Escape has helped raise the profile of Margaret River as a food destination and I love that the visiting chefs, some of the best in the world, leave raving about the place. It makes me feel incredibly privileged to live here.”

Joost Bakker, Artist Melbourne

“I'm a botanist and the diversity of flora here is incredible. I went for a short walk this morning and saw five plants that I'd never seen before. I also saw this huge bee – I think it was a bee, it was about the size of my thumb and I've never seen an insect like that anywhere – it sounded like a helicopter next to my ear. Just incredible. The native ingredients are amazing, and that's what we should be eating because they grow everywhere without pesticides, chemicals or anything.”

Gaggan Anand, Gaggan, Bangkok

“The thing I like best is the wilderness and the peace. I love the weather. We don't get this in Thailand. It's warm in the day and pleasant in the night. It's incredible and beautiful, and very surprising. I didn't know that the ingredients were so fresh and tasty. Back at home the lobster is not that sweet.

When you look at the landscape, it's incredible. It's similar to what you see in Italy or France or California, where you have the sea and the hills, and on the slopes there are the vineyards.

The wines are very good value for money. I'm really interested to connect with people who are exporting wines from this region and Western Australia. That would help me to sell them in the restaurant. Because now I know the area, I know the vineyards are not very big, and I like to give customers things that are not locally available and then I can actually show the influence and inspirations that I get through my travels.”

website: www.margaretriver.com

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Tourism Ireland launches new online film promoting the home town of U2

As U2’s iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE world tour comes to a close in Dublin this week, Tourism Ireland today launched a brand new online film, “U2 in Dublin – The Homecoming”, specially created to celebrate the band and to highlight their home city of Dublin around the world.

The film captures the atmosphere of the city and highlights some of the many places around Dublin associated with the band. It also showcases some of our tourist attractions, including the Ha’Penny Bridge, Georgian Dublin and The Little Museum of Dublin. The film urges viewers to come and discover Dublin for themselves: “why not visit Dublin, home of one of the greatest rock bands the world has ever seen”.

The “U2 in Dublin – The Homecoming” will be promoted on Tourism Ireland’s website, Ireland.com, which will attract about 16.5 million visitors by the end of 2015. Tourism Ireland is also sharing the film on social media – with its Facebook fans (3+ million fans worldwide) and Twitter followers (300,000+), and on its YouTube channel.



World cinema gets proud exposure at Dubai International Film Festival

This year’s most anticipated films from across the globe will take centre stage in the ‘Cinema of the World’ segment of the 12th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). Featuring an array of the brightest directors and filmmakers to grace the big screen, the programme is a culmination of 57 breath-taking features from across the globe and is set to enthral fans from December 9 – 16.

Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase will showcase her heart-warming film ‘AN’. Set in the life of a pancake stall manager, the story unfolds as an odd but sympathetic elderly lady looking for work comes to him for a job. With one taste of her home-made bean paste the manager at the stall hires her and soon the pair builds a relationship that is about much more than simple street food.

Illustrious director Santiago Mitre is welcomed to DIFF with his multi-award winning film, ‘Paulina’. Set in Argentina, ‘Paulina’ is a social thriller that explores judicial ideologies surrounding violence and gang culture in the country. The film follows its protagonist, Paulina, as she abandons her career as a successful lawyer to become a social activist in a poverty stricken area. One day, Paulina is brutally attacked by a gang, challenging her resolve and her will to uphold her convictions.

Iranian director Amir-Hossein Saghafi introduces his third feature, ‘The Man Who Became a Horse’. A father living with his only daughter attempts to keep her close at all costs after her mother passes away. A single white horse is kept in memory of her mother. The daughter dearly loves the horse, but is forced to say a painful goodbye when she must leave her father and their home after she is wed. Unwilling to let his daughter leave, the father goes to extreme lengths to see that she remains by his side in this visually stunning tale that will leave audiences guessing.

Representing Scandinavian cinema in all its glory, Grimur Hakonarson’s ‘Rams’ is the Icelandic filmmaker’s most recent feature, and having already won eight awards in 2015, the film will be sure to receive high acclaim from audiences at DIFF. Set in a remote Icelandic farming valley, the feature follows two brothers who haven’t spoken in 40 years. When the outbreak of a disease threatens their way of life, they are forced to come together and resolve their differences to save their livelihood: their flock of sheep.

Globally respected and award-winning writer and director, Terence Davies presents his latest work, ‘Sunset Song’, a deeply emotional film adaption of the Lewis Grassic Gibbon novel of the same name. Set in the harsh and beautiful Scottish heartland, the film is a tale of ephemeral joys and the inescapable struggles in life. ‘Sunset Song’ is driven by a young farmer’s daughter, Chris, as she dreams of a life outside of her homeland. Swept away by the local farmer, Ewan, Chris’ dreams and intense passion for life, her husband and the unforgiving land are pushed to their limits as World War I takes its toll on her community.

French writer, scenarist, actor and director, Samuel Benchetrit joins the line-up with his latest directorial piece, ‘Macadam Stories’. A compelling tale of six chance encounters, the feature catches a glimpse of moments of compassion shared between a disabled old man and a night nurse; a troubled actress and a latchkey teen; and an American astronaut and a doting mother as shared moments reveal the essential humanity in everyone.

Winner of two awards at the prestigious Locarno International Film Festival 2015, Indian director Raam Reddy presents his feature film ‘Thithi’. A realistic comedy about three generations of sons living in a village in South India, ‘Thithi’ depicts the clans’ reactions and goings-on after the death of its eldest member, Century Gowda. Following Century Gowda’s “thithi” – the final funeral celebration 11 days after death – three stories materialise and the audience play witness as each of the sons pursue their own ventures in wake of their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather’s death.

Acclaimed Sri Lankan filmmaker Vimukthi Jayasundara, award-winning director of ‘The Forsaken Land’, adds his spiritual tale of life and death, ‘Dark in The White Light’ to the Festival’s programme. Journeying through the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, ‘Dark in The White Light’ follows a young Buddhist monk as he embarks on a quest for spiritual truth. Meanwhile, an organ dealer grows his business in a climate of general indifference and Colombo’s humidity. A surgeon, accompanied by a servant, who functions as his driver, heals by day, and rapes women by night. In the form of a philosophical tale, the film interweaves various stories of fraying bodies, on the threshold of pain, between life and death.

Esteemed Indian director, Rinku Kalsy joins the line-up with her compelling biopic, ‘For The Love of a Man’ about the adored Tamil actor, Rajnikanth. Blurring the lines between real-life and cinema, Kalsy perfectly captures the frenzied love of Rajnikanth’s fans. ‘For The Love of a Man’ demonstrates how fandom is about more than cinema; it is about togetherness and identity, portrayed through a star who provides fans with tangible reassurance through his on-screen immortality.

Bosnian director, Ines Tanović is also set to showcase ‘Our Everyday Life’ which gives insight into the life of a very traditional Bosnian family. The Susic family lives a typical everyday life and all is great in the world for the family of four until, slowly but surely, their life begins to fall apart. As their problems grow they begin to appreciate what really matters in life: family.

New to DIFF is Indian director Anu Menon, best known for her short film ‘Ravi Goes to School’ and her previous feature ‘London Paris New York’. Coming to the big screen at DIFF, Anu Menon’s latest feature ‘Waiting’ is a story about a retired professor and a terrified young wife whose partners have fallen into a coma. By chance the two meet and in their time of grief they must support each other if they are to stop themselves falling apart.

After a three-year absence from the filmmaking industry, Jayro Bustamante makes his triumphant return to cinema with his seven-time-award-winning feature ‘Ixcanul Volcano’. Set in a coffee plantation on the foothills of an active volcano in Guatemala, the film is centred around Maria, a young 17-year-old Mayan girl whose future lies before her in the form of an arranged marriage despite her dreams of going to “the big city”. However, that all changes when she is bitten by a snake and she is forced to venture out into the modern world to cure the bite. Maria’s life is saved but at what cost?

Nashen Moodley, Director of the Cinema of The World programme, commented on the importance of representing the industry on an international scale: “The diversity of the Cinema of The World programme is a fascinating range of remarkable films from some of international cinema’s finest filmmakers and acting talent who continue to excite us with bold and exhilarating stories.”

Masoud Amralla Al Ali, DIFF’s Director, praised the Cinema of The World programme and the acclaim it has come to receive since its inception: “Year-on-year the Cinema of The World programme welcomes a plethora of talent from across the globe in what is one of the most diversified displays of cinema. Bringing international cinema to the region’s doorstep provides fans with an eclectic mix of films to broaden cultural horizons and understanding, and in turn DIFF thrives from the exponential interest in the programme.”

With some of this year’s best films now confirmed for the line-up, film fans will not want to miss the 12th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival. The DIFF box office opens on Friday, November 27 at www.diff.ae. Additional information is also available through the Festival’s dedicated customer care number, 363 FILM (3456).

Canberra's Summer of Blockbusters Begins

Canberra has developed a reputation for delivering a sensational line-up of blockbuster exhibitions every summer and this season's offering raises the bar even higher.

National Museum of Australia's Encounters

Today, the National Museum of Australia opened its must-see exhibition Encounters: Revealing stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects from the British Museum. Drawn from the British Museum's collection, rare and culturally significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects will be displayed in an exhibition being described by the National Museum of Australia as the most important to date.

Many of the objects have not been seen in Australia since they were first acquired during contact between European settlers and the Australian continent's first peoples. Highlights of the exhibition include the Gweagal shield and two spears collected when Lieutenant James Cook landed at Botany Bay in 1770; a turtle-shell mask from the Torres Strait (pre-1855); and beautiful 19th-century glass spearheads from the Kimberley.

The exhibition is structured into modules, each representing a community, with the object from the British Museum surrounded by contemporary objects from that community. Films, images and quotes provide cultural context to some of Australia's most significant stories.

Encounters runs until 28 March 2016. The exhibition is free and tickets are available at the door or can be booked online at www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/encounters

National Gallery of Australia's Tom Roberts

Marvel at more than 130 works of the much-loved Australian artist Tom Roberts from his early days studying at London's Royal Academy in 1883 until 1931 at the National Gallery of Australia.

The summer exhibition Tom Roberts opens 4 December 2015 and will bring together major works from public and private collections, featuring more than 130 works of art. The paintings by Tom Roberts are some of the most recognisable and loved by Australians. He was among the first to promote outdoor landscape painting and his Impressionist landscapes set the tone for much that was to follow.

Roberts' seminal painting, which he called the Big Picture will be shown with his other major works. The enormous painting, 3 by 5 metres, captures recognisable portraits of 265 dignitaries at the Federation of Australia ceremony in May of 1901. This is the first time the painting has moved since it was hung in Parliament House in 1988.

The spectacular new Tom Roberts exhibition comes as the Gallery completes a rehang of the nation's art collection, with Australian art taking pride of place in a new location, which will transform the experience for visitors.

Tom Roberts opens 4 December 2015 and runs until 28 March 2016. Tickets are now on sale at www.nga.gov.au/Roberts

National Library of Australia's Celestial Empire

A short walk from the Gallery will take you to the National Library of Australia, where 300 years of Chinese culture and tradition will be explored this summer. Celestial Empire: Life in China 1644–1911 highlights exquisite and precious objects from the National Library of China in a joint exhibition telling the story of China's last imperial dynasty.

The exhibition covers the Qing dynasty and includes drawings and plans for Beijing's iconic palaces from the Yangshi Lei Archives, never before seen in Australia. Beautiful maps, books and prints come alive in ornate detail. And discover the National Library of Australia's acclaimed Chinese Collection, including rare items from the London Missionary Society that offer a unique view of early western impressions of China.

Running alongside the exhibition is a vibrant summer program, ranging from puppet troupes and Chinese food culture weekends to film screenings, China-themed family open days, English and Chinese-language tours and more.

Celestial Empire opens 2 January 2016 and runs until 22 May 2016. The exhibition is free and tickets are available at the door or can be booked online at www.nla.gov.au/exhibitions/celestial-empire

For more information on other things to see and do in Canberra during summer, visit www.visitcanberra.com.au

Maine's Winter Wonderland

November is when Maine really gets ready for winter. From holiday festivals to ski resorts preparing trails and well-curated exhibitions opening at the state's lauded small art museums, it's a time of celebration, outdoor fun and contemplation. For writers, editors and bloggers looking for short-lead news, there are details under Happening Now. Those in search of longer lead news – such as coastal inns offering winter packages and a preview of the snowmobiling season --scroll down to Looking Ahead.

HAPPENING NOW

MAINE WINTER FESTIVALS

Maine celebrates the season with a roster of inventive winter festivals. Foremost this year is Gardens Aglow, a festival of lights at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. From November 21 through December 31, more than 150,000 lights will be strung among the popular 14 acre gardens to create the largest light display in Maine. The always popular Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport offers tree lighting, fireworks, a candlelight stroll, caroling and the arrival of Santa on a lobster boat. In late January, it's Camden Winterfest, a celebration of snow sports and in-town activities that has been dubbed “Maine's Mardi Gras.”

SKIING AT MAINE'S FAMILY RESORTS

Maine's smaller, family-oriented ski areas are where generations of Mainers and out of state skiers learned to carve their turns. There are gentler, uncrowded slopes that offer a relaxed welcome to newbies, such as Mt. Abram in Locke Mills.
Many of these mountains, like Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, offer night skiing that allows you to enjoy a really long ski day. 

Camden Snowbowl is the only ski mountain in the East where you can enjoy spectacular ocean views from the summit, glimpsing the islands in Penobscot Bay as you're making your turns. The Snowbowl is also famous for its 400-foot toboggan run, open on weekends and holidays, and boasts a new lodge. Go to Visit Maine for a complete look at Maine's family ski resorts.

WINTER ARTS

Winter is when Maine's small art museums host some of their most important shows of the season. The Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville is currently featuring one of Maine's most famous painters in an exhibition called “Alex Katz: A Singular Vision.” There are highlights from the museum's permanent collection, several recent acquisitions on view for the first time, and two important loans in this show that runs until May 8, 2016. “Picturing Maine,” at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland features work by such legendary photographers as Berenice Abbott, Paul Caponigro, Eliot Porter and Joyce Tenneson until March 27, 2016. At the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, “Olive Pierce: Photographing a Maine Fishing Community” features the work of contemporary Maine photographer Olive Piece in a show that runs until January 17, 2016.

LOOKING AHEAD

HEALTH & WELLNESS GETAWAYS

Winter is the ideal time for a health and wellness getaway. At Meadowmere Resort in Ogunquit, the Mind, Body, Spirit Spa offers the Ogunquit Maine Spa & Wellness Package, where guests can choose from Swedish massage, Reflexology or a Balancing Facial. At Samoset Resort on the Ocean in Rockland, The Spa at the Samoset offers a full range of massages, treatments and facials, with a variety of spa packages. In York Harbor, the Stage Neck Inn has an intimate spa called the Spa at Stage Neck, with a roster of massage treatments. There are also a host of day spas throughout the state, such as Healing Hands Holistic Wellness in Winthrop, where owner Sara M. Dostie offers healing sessions, yoga and day-long snowshoe outings.

FAT BIKES AT MAINE HUTS & TRAILS

When it snows in the mountains of Western Maine, dedicated riders stash their mountain bikers and grab their fat bikes to hit the wintry trails at Maine Huts & Trails
Fat bikes, equipped with huge tires, are designed to float through the top few inches of snow. Thanks to underinflated tires, they're buoyant and the ride is cushy, clearly built for comfort, not speed. The bikes are ideal for the trails at Maine Huts & Trails, which are fairly flat with no significant elevation changes, making it suitable for riders of all skill levels. The four eco-lodges in the Maine Huts & Trails system are found along a 45-mile span of wilderness trail, making them an ideal winter adventure for fat bike fans, cross country skiers and snowshoers.

Event schedule in Visit Viet Nam Year 2016 - Phu Quoc - Mekong River Delta

Visit Viet Nam Year 2016 - Phu Quoc - Mekong River Delta with the theme “Exploring Southern Land” is a typical cultural-economic-social event with national scale hosted by Kien Giang in coordination with localities in the Mekong River Delta region, Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang City, provinces of Thua Thien Hue, Lam Dong and Lao Cai.

In the framework of Visit Viet Nam Year 2016 will take place many activities including 14 ones organized by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST) in coordination with others ministries and departments; 13 ones organized by Kien Giang Province, and 38 ones held by other provinces and cities.

Event schedule in Visit Viet Nam Year 2016 - Phu Quoc - Mekong River Delta


Activities organized by MoCST in coordination with others ministries and departments


February
  • Performing poetry and calligraphy exhibition, Ha Tien Town, Kien Giang Province

March
  • The Mekong River Delta photographer camp, Rach Gia City, Kien Giang Province

April
  • Workshop on Linking for tourism development of Mekong River Delta, Hau Giang Province
  • Poster exhibition on “Sea and Islands, our homeland”, Rach Gia City, Kien Giang Province
  • National Sport Fishing Competition, U Minh Thuong National Park’s Ecotourism Area (U Minh Thuong District, Kien Giang Province)

June
  • National Water Motorcycle Competition, Phu Quoc District, Kien Giang Province

June, July
  • National Fitness Club Championship, Rach Gia City, Kien Giang Province
  • National Boat Race Competition, Rach Gia City and Go Quao District, Kien Giang Province

July
  • National Beach Volleyball Competition, Ha Tien Town, Kien Giang Province

August
  • Ca Mau Volleyball Cup, Rach Gia City, Kien Giang Province
  • Viet Nam Art Photos Exhibition 2016, Rach Gia City, Kien Giang Province
  • National Folk Songs Festival, Rach Gia City, Kien Giang Province

September
  • Excellent Tourguide Competition 2016, Phu Quoc District, Kien Giang Province
  • Mekong Delta Cuisine Festival, Phu Quoc District, Kien Giang Province

Activities hosted by Kien Giang Province

January
  • Announcement ceremony of Visit Viet Nam Year 2016 and ceremony to receive certificate
  • recognizing U Minh Thuong National Park as the Ramsar site, Tran Quang Khai Square (Rach Gia City, Kien Giang Province)
  • The death anniversary of Hero of People's Armed Forces Phan Thi Rang, Hon Dat District Historical Relic Site (Kien Giang Province)

22 February
  • Tourism Culture Year Festival and the 280th anniversary of establishment Chieu Anh Literary Coterie (1736 – 2016), Ha Tien Town’s Central Square (Kien Giang Province)

16 April
  • Hung King Temple Festival – Tan Hiep, Hung King Temple Historical Relic Site (Tan Hiep District, Kien Giang Province)

April
  • Trade Fair of Mekong River Delta key economic region, Tran Quang Khai Square (Rach Gia City, Kien Giang Province)

9 April
  • Opening ceremony of Visit Viet Nam Year 2016, Old Airport (Phu Quoc District, Kien Giang Province)

May
  • International Half Marathon Competition, Long Beach Phu Quoc Resort (Phu Quoc District, Kien Giang Province)

10 June
  • The death anniversary of 4 martyr monks, Buddhist Tower (Chau Thanh District, Kien Giang Province)

August
  • The Mekong River Delta Bicycle Racing, Phu Quoc District, Kien Giang Province

26-28 September
  • National Hero Nguyen Trung Truc traditional Festival, Nguyen Trung Truc Historical Relic Site (Rach Gia City, Kien Giang Province)

14 November
  • The 10th Culture, Sports and Tourism day of Khmer ethnic people in Kien Giang, Go Quao District, Kien Giang Province

14-15 November
  • Nghinh Ong Festival – Kien Hai, Kien Hai District, Kien Giang Province

24 December
  • Closing ceremony of Visit Viet Nam Year 2016; the flag handover to Lao Cai Province for Visit Viet Nam Year 2017, Phu Quoc District, Kien Giang Province

Activities organized by other provinces and cities

21–23 February
  • Lam Chay Festival,  Tam Vu Town, Chau Thanh District, Long An Province
  • Nghinh Ong Festival,  Thanh Hai Commune, Thanh Phu District and Binh Thang Commune, Binh Dai District, Ben Tre Province

23 – 24 February
  • Don Ca Tai Tu Music and Song Festival, Can Giuoc Town, Can Giuoc District, Long An Province

February
  • Sa Giang Flower Festival, Sa Dec City, Dong Thap Province 
  • Lang Ong Festival, Thien My Commune, Tra On District, Vinh Long Province

March
  • Traditional dress (Ao Dai) Festival 2016, Dam Sen Park (District 11, Ho Chi Minh City)
  • Ho Chi Minh Tourism Day 2016,  Area B, 23/9 Park (District 1, Ho Chi Minh City)

19 – 24 March
  • Nghinh Ong Festival – Song Doc,  Song Doc Town, Tran Van Thoi District, Ca Mau Province

26 March
  • Tien Phong Newspaper Marathon, Can Tho City

16 April
  • Southern Traditional Cake Festival, Con Cai Khe Water Park, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho City

29 April – 4 May
  • Hue Festival 2016, Thua Thien Hue Province

April 
  • Contest of Young Talent for National Stage Director, Can Tho City

May
  • International Culinary Festival, Area B, 23/9 Park (District 1, Ho Chi Minh City)
  • Flower Offering Festival in Uncle Ho Temple, Luong Tam Commune, Long My District, Hau Giang Province
  • Travel Conference “Lam Dong – Kien Giang – connection, integration and development”, Da Lat City, Lam Dong Province

9 June, 6 – 9 July
  • Fruit Festival 2016, Cho Lach District Stadium, Ben Tre Province

June
  • Ba Chua Xu Temple Festival in Sam Mountain, Chau Doc City, An Giang Province
  • Southern Fruit Festival 2016, Suoi Tien Park (District 9, Ho Chi Minh City)
  • Southern Land Cuisine Festival 2016, Dam Sen Park (District 11, Ho Chi Minh City)

Quarter 2
  • International Mountain Bike Racing, Lao Cai City - Bat Xat - Y Ty - Muong Hum - O Quy Ho – Sa Pa racetrack

22 June – 11 July
  • “Summer Meeting” Program 2016, The East Sea Park and beaches in Da Nang City

1 – 3 July
  • Traditional Cultural Festival, Nguyen Dinh Chieu Relic Site (Ba Tri District, Ben Tre Province)

17 – 19 August
  • Nghinh Ong Festival – Binh Dai, Binh Thang Commune, Binh Dai District, Ben Tre Province

27 – 30 August
  • Vu Lan Festival 2016, Group 1, Cau Ke Town, Cau Ke District, Tra Vinh Province

August
  • Traditional Festival of National Hero Truing Dinh, Go Cong Town and Dong Go Cong District, Tien Giang Province
  • The 21st Art Exhibition of Southeast region 2016, Da Lat City, Lam Dong Province

14 – 15 September
  • Da Co Hoai Lang Festival 2016, Bac Lieu City, Bac Lieu Province

September
  • International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City 2016, Saigon Exhibition & Convention Center (SECC) (District 7, Ho Chi Minh City)

September
  • The 5th Asian Beach Games Da Nang 2016, The East Sea Park and beaches in Da Nang City

Quarter 3
  • Cultural Festival of Northwest Ethnic Group, Lao Cai City, Lao Cai Province

10 – 12 October
  • “Vam River Meeting” program,  Happyland entertainment complex (Thanh Duc Commune, Ben Luc District, Long An Province)

12 October
  • The 148th death anniversary of National Hero Nguyen Trung Truc, Vam Nhut Tao Historical Relic Site (An Nhut Tao Commune, Tan Tru District, Long An Province)

October
  • Traditional Craft Village Tourism and culture Festival 2016, Quan Ngua Sports Palace (30 Van Cao Street, Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi City)
  • Bay Nui Cow Racing Festival, Tinh Bien and Tri Ton districts, An Giang Province

13 – 14 November
  • Ok Om Bok Festival in Tra Vinh, Ba Om Pond Culture Tourism Area (Ward 8, Tra Vinh City, Tra Vinh Province)
  • Ok Om Bok Festival and Ghe Ngo Race in Soc Trang, Soc Trang City , Soc Trang Province

November
  • Tourism Festival in Dong Hoa Hiep Ancient Village – Cai Be, Dong Hoa Hiep Commune, Cai Be District, Tien Giang Province

December
  • The 155th anniversary of Vam Nhut Tao victory, Vam Nhut Tao Historical Relic Site (An Nhut Tao Commune, Tan Tru District, Long An Province)

New Products and Things to Do in the NT

Tourism NT's newest campaign aims to promote travel to the Northern Territory during the months of December, January and February when visitation is at its lowest. Travellers can make the most of sales and 'Do the NT' for less this summer.

NEW PRODUCTS

Little Miss Korea

Darwin's newest Korean BBQ restaurant, Little Miss Korea, has taken up residence in a quirky industrial space in the CBD. Renowned chef, Chung Jae Lee, is behind this exciting addition to Darwin's dining scene which offers food lovers the opportunity to cook their own meal on a hot grill at their table.
Website: https://www.facebook.com/LittleMissKoreaDarwin/

Epilogue Lounge

Located in the middle of Alice Springs off the Todd Mall, you'll find a cool space called Epilogue Lounge. Coffee haunt by day, cocktails by night, Epilogue has recently added a rooftop bar. Complete with live music every weekend, this is a favourite spot for locals and travellers alike.
Website: https://www.facebook.com/epiloguelounge/?ref=ts&fref=ts

H 105 Mitchell Hotel

H105 Mitchell is located in Darwin City with stunning views of Mindil Beach, The Esplanade and the CBD. Combining contemporary design with Darwin's tropical lifestyle, this central hotel and apartments is only a short distance from Darwin's entertainment and business hub.
Website: http://www.h105mitchell.com.au/

Aboriginal Bush Traders 

Situated in the historical Lyons Cottage along the Esplanade, Aboriginal Bush Traders (ABT) is fast becoming one of Darwin's popular integrated cultural attractions. The retail store showcases the work of indigenous artists and community art centres across the Northern Territory, sourcing products from the Red Centre to the Tiwi Islands. ABT provides support to indigenous community members wishing to share their culture, art and experiences. Authentic products include sculpture, weavings and carvings.
Website: http://www.aboriginalbushtraders.com/


Groote Eylandt Lodge

Groote Eylandt Lodge, previously known as Dugong Beach Resort, was rebranded in July and has recently launched a number of sport fishing packages. Groote Eylandt offers anglers a unique opportunity to experience the thrill of deep sea fishing. The island is renowned for having some of the most exciting fishing grounds in the world with its pristine waters and the unspoilt environment of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Anglers will relish the opportunity to try their hand at fishing for barramundi, sailfish and black marlin.
Website: http://www.grooteeylandtlodge.com.au/

World Expeditions launches new NT experiences…

Family Walking Adventure

World Expeditions has launched its new Kakadu Family Walking Adventure, timed to operate during school holidays and ideal for families with school aged children. This active, walking based itinerary is targeted at families who want to get beyond the regular tourist sites and broaden their children's minds through an authentic Top End experience. Their full day bushwalks venture to remote gorges, waterfalls and rock art sites seen by very few visitors.
Website: http://www.worldexpeditions.com/au/index.php


Bush Tucker Garden

World Expeditions has secured an exclusive partnership with the Yarrenyty - Arltere Learning Centre (YALC) combining their Larapinta Trail walking experience with a two day Community Project. The project aims to restore an Aboriginal community's bush tucker garden in Alice Springs. Visitors will be given an insight into Aboriginal herbal medicines and traditional foods, along with enjoying a world class walk along the Larapinta Trail.
Website: http://www.worldexpeditions.com/au/index.php?section=trips&id=2441065

COMING SOON

Field of Light at Uluru 

Bruce Munro's Field of Light will be created in its largest form to date at Ayers Rock Resort for most of 2016. The solar powered installation will illuminate a remote desert area within sight of Uluru from April 1st, 2016. There will be a number of ways to experience the installation.
Website: https://www.ayersrockresort.com.au/events/detail/field-of-light-uluru

Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Modern Honolulu

The Modern Honolulu
The Modern Honolulu overlooks the Ala Wai Boat harbour, and boasts more than a generous amount of style and originality. On arrival, I was delighted by the speed of the assistance and greetings we received as we entered the hotel. At first glance, it was obvious that it definitely lives up to its name. Vibrant decor contributes to it's contemporary feel - as we walked in, our eyes were drawn to a spectacular art installation consisting of sliced up, colourful surfboards which sat on a wall behind the reception desk. Behind us, a large bookshelf the width of a room and been tilted open to reveal a stylish bar called the study, which we later discovered is home to fantastic cocktails and great live music.

Aside from The Study, The modern is the home of a handful of impressive restaurants and bars including Morimoto, a renowned restaurant owned by Chef Morimoto from the hit television series The Iron Chef, and one of Honolulu's most exclusive clubbing venues, Addiction Nightclub.

The Modern Honolulu
Not only does The Modern provide a variety of places to eat and drink, it offers an array of amenities such as the adults only Sunset Pool, the all age Sunrise Pool and an airconditioned gym facility that supplies it's guests with complimentary towels, fruit and chilled water. When using the Sunrise Pool, we were offered complimentary sunscreen and also gelato tastings, which certainly added a nice touch to our highly enjoyable experience at The Modern.

The Modern Honolulu
Situated next to the sunrise pool is The Grove, which boasts ocean views, elegant greenery, comfortable furniture, and an array of incredibly delicious meals. We had Avocado Toast on Pumpernickle Rye, accompanied by a berry pitaya smoothie. If you are a lover of coffee, a multitude of specialty coffees are also available on the menu.

During our time at The Modern, we stayed in the City View double room. It was a fairly spacious room embellished with decor that reflected the traditional nature of Hawaii. The beds were comfortable, and once on them, it was extremly hard to get up again. The room contained a great coffee machine (for Australian standards, anyway), as well as a variety of organic tea bags.

The Modern Honolulu
Outside of the hotel, many activities are on offer within the area. The Modern is only a few minutes walk to the ocean, the Lagoon Beach and the Fort DeRussy Board Walk which will lead you into Waikiki's epicentre. Here you will find hundreds of shops, cafes restaurants and bars. If you enjoy shopping, Ala Moana Shopping Centre is also a five minute walk from The Modern.

A quick visit to one of The Modern's elaborate penthouses certainly confirmed our desire to live in the hotel, indefinitely. We were blown away by the incredible city and ocean views from the extended balcony, and the beautifully furnished oversized living quarters.

The Modern Honolulu
If we were to offer any advice to readers, it would be to book through the website, as The Modern will reward those who book through them rather than a hotel booking website. Furthermore, stay as long as you can!

*Written by Lydia Bradshaw for The Holiday and Travel Magazine

Yunnan

Located in the southwestern part of China and with Kunming as its capital, Yunnan Province, also called “Dian” or “Yun” for short, is one of the important birthplaces of mankind. 

Yunnan’s Yuanmou Man dating back to 1.7 million years ago has been identified to be the earliest human being in China and Asia.

People of Dian tribe lived here in the Warring States Period (475BC – 221BC). 

Yunnan means “South of Colorful Clouds”, or “South of Yunling Mountains”. T

his province has a population of almost 46 million people.

Offshore Superboat Championships this weekend!

Thousands of spectators will flock to the Hervey Bay foreshore this coming weekend for the Hervey Bay Boat Club Offshore Superboat Championships!

Fraser Coast Regional Councillor with the Tourism portfolio, Stuart Taylor, said the event was expected to bring a lot of people from outside the region to the Fraser Coast.

‘The Superboats is one of our biggest events on the Fraser Coast calendar. Teams have started arriving in Hervey Bay, bringing along their friends and families to enjoy a long weekend of Superboat action in our beautiful region.’

Additional to the crowds, the Superboat championships will be televised nationally and with the Fraser Coast to be featured in coming months on SBS Speedweek, Foxtel, Sommet Sports (New Zealand), MAV TV (North America) and Motorsports TV APP (Global).

‘The Superboats event airs to over 900,000 viewers across the world so the Fraser Coast is set to receive some fantastic exposure from the final round of the championships,’ said Cr Taylor.

Con Saloumidis from SUV RAM Trucks said he was excited to be back on the Fraser Coast for the final round of the championships.

‘The Fraser Coast always offers such great hospitality during the last and most exciting round of the Offshore Superboat Championships.’

‘The waters of Hervey Bay are so different to anywhere else in Australia that we race. The calm  waters allow the boats to go even faster, so be prepared for some exciting racing on Sunday,’ said Mr  Saloumidis.

What’s on this weekend:
  •  Pit Bay Viewing- all day Saturday 28th November
  •  Pole position shootout – 12pm Saturday 28th November
  •  Street parade – 3.30pm on the Esplanade between Elisabeth and Main streets
  •  Race 1 – 11am Sunday 29th November
  •  Race 2 – 1pm Sunday 29th November

For more information about the championships, head to herveybaysuperboats.com.au.

Triple B Guided Tour - Blues, Bourbon, BBQ's

  • From AU$6,595 per person 
  • 15 days 14 nights
  • 2352 kilometers
  • New Orleans to Chicago

Ride EagleRider’s Blues, Bourbon, and BBQ Tour, and you will find great roads, food, and music at every turn. The rolling mountain roads will have you on cloud nine, while the soulful sounds of the South penetrate to the bone. From New Orleans, the birthplace of Jazz, to the Country Music capital of Nashville, all the way to the Chicago Blues, the roads sing the history of America. Nightclubs, juke joints, speakeasys, and honky-tonks abound, and the mouth-watering BBQ and bourbon will satisfy the biggest of appetites. Make sure you pack your Lust for Life in your suitcase, you’re gonna need it!

What’s Included: 


Guaranteed First Bike Choice, EagleRider Concierge Service, Hotel Accommodations, Custom Riding Jacket, Leather-Bound Custom Road Book, Custom Motorcycle Maps, Custom “Badge of Honor” Tour Patch, Unlimited Mileage, Fuel and Oil, Daily Tour Photos Uploaded to Facebook, Hosted Welcome Celebration, Helmets for the driver and passenger, Daily breakfast, Professional tour leaders, Support Vehicle with door to door luggage service, All taxes, fees, and environmental surcharges, National Park Entrance Fees, Hotel parking fees, Discounted Activities, One Way Transfer fees (when applicable), Transportation between hotel and EagleRider location (restrictions may apply at certain locations) EagleRider Legendary Private Farewell Celebration with Live Music, Preparation and Orientation.

What’s Not Included:

Airfare, Food and snacks, Beverages, Tips, Personal souvenirs, Any Tourist Visa Fees. Prices are based on summer season pricing, 1 motorcycle and 2 passengers and are in Australian Dollars & are subject to change.

Get on your bike & ride! 10 must-do pedal power adventures in Sydney and NSW

Scale mountain tops, meander through ancient forests, ride alongside lush vineyards, coast beachside paths and cruise city streets to enjoy the sights of Sydney and NSW on board a bicycle.

Destination NSW CEO Sandra Chipchase said: “Cycling and mountain-biking continues to grow in popularity amongst travelers looking for outdoor adventure with more visitors than ever choosing to explore the state on a bike.”

“There has been a 22 per cent increase in the number of domestic overnight visitors including a cycling experience in their itinerary over the last five years*. Destination NSW recognizes the high-level of interest in cycling and is bringing the L’Etape Australia by Tour de France event to the Snowy Mountains in December 2016 with more than 30,000 people expected to participate,” she said.

NSW boasts plenty of places to go cycling and mountain-biking ranging from short, easy rides suitable for the whole family, to half-day and full-day rides through some of the most beautiful scenery and challenging terrain for more experienced riders.

Here is Destination NSW’s pick of 10 things to do on a bike for both leisurely and more competitive riders:

Leisurely exploring on a bike

1. In the city: Grab a Swipe & Ride share bike from Interbike Ibis Darling Harbour and cruise The Goods Line, a disused rail corridor linking Railway Square with Ultimo and Darling Harbour. The line has been transformed into a shared path featuring buskers, picnic areas and table tennis tables

2. Cruise the coast: BYO bike and choose from six self-guided cycling adventures on the South Coast with Australian Cycling Holidays. Download an itinerary and fact sheet and set your own pace with a two to six day trip for all the family

3. Take a tour: Join skilled local guides from Mountain Bike Tours Byron Bay on a two-wheel adventure through fire trails, single tracks, exhilarating downhills and log jumps with an overnight camp and morning hike up Mt Warning

4. Art and bikes: Admire sculptures created by local Indigenous artists on the 5 km Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk along the Murray River. Learn the story of the regions Aboriginal history and cultural significance of the River with interpretative panels and videos via smartphone.

5. Mountain climbing: Ride around the family-friendly trails at Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa. There’s 25kms of scenic tracks encompassing the lake and nearby Thredbo River, with views of Kosciuszko National Park and Bullocks Hut.

Heart racing adventure

1. Wild trail: Experienced riders will love the Wylde MTB Trail at Western Sydney Parklands where the hard-core trails feature tight winding loose, irregular surfaces and steep hills, long steep descents, numerous natural and human-made obstacles including jumps, ramps, elevated features, berms, drops, rocks and other terrain variations. Requires off road riding experience and a high level of fitness

2. City to city: Pedal the scenic 90km’s from Sydney to Wollongong via the Royal National Park and the breathtaking Sea Cliff Bridge as part of the Sydney to the Gong race. The event is one of Australia’s most celebrated mass participation bike events attracting around 10,000 riders each year raising money for MS Australia

3. Loop-the-loop: Not for the faint hearted, the 22 km Big Yango loop trail traverses through the Yengo and Wollemi wilderness areas in Yengo National Park featuring steep climbs, descents and tight switchbacks. Admire the rugged landscape and keep an eye out for wombats, wallabies and goannas. Stay at the nearby Big Yango Homestead or camp at Blue Gums to really experience the remoteness

4. Multi-day ride: Attempt the Wollemi Cycle Trail, a 442 km, six-day adventure not for the faint hearted in the Blue Mountains. Riders pass through prehistoric pines in Wollemi National Park, the charming village of Katoomba, the Newnes Plateau and The Glow Worm Tunnel

5. Tour de Snow: Join more than 30,000 riders in December 2016 at the inaugural L’Etape Australia by Tour de France in the Snowy Mountains. The amateur event is run under professional conditions and features closed roads, a challenging route, sprint and a King of the Mountain section with riders competing for yellow, green, polka dot and white jerseys.

Share your favorite NSW cycling adventures with Destination NSW @Visitnsw #NewSouthWales

For more ideas for cycling in Sydney and NSW go to sydney.com/cycling and visitnsw.com/cycling

*Source: National Visitor Survey, YE June 2015

Secret Retreats collection now includes Asia’s Top 3 Restaurants

The Secret Retreats restaurant label, Secret Tables, now hosts three of Asia’s top independent restaurants. Across the region, Secret Retreats handpicks small, magical restaurants for their unique character and passion. They seek inspiring chefs who create original, non-traditional dishes and unusual menus that utilise local produce and share core values, focusing on sustainability, fair wages and career paths for young, local people. The independent chef-owners take great pride in their business, their style and taste to reflect the true culture and essence of the land.

Recently receiving the Trip Advisor Travelers Choice Restaurant Awardfor ranking as the #1 restaurant in Thailand and # 10 in all of Asia, David’ s Kitchen in Chiang Mai was delighted to receive this prestigious award.

Restaurant owner, David Gordon shares his pleasure:
“We are thrilled to receive this accolade as this is the selection made by our guests and their satisfaction is the best award any restaurant can have. Our aim is to provide the highest quality of food and also the highest degree of personal service. All our customers are treated like genuine guests in our home.”

In Indonesia, two Secret Tables are listed in the Top 3 best restaurants in the country. Locavore (Bali) is listed as the #1 restaurant in Indonesia, # 3 in Asia, and also rates in the Top 25 best restaurants in the world. Cuca (Bali) is rated # 3 in Indonesia and # 21 in Asia.

To be a Secret Table, chefs must use local produce. Chef Kevin Cherkas, from Cuca, explains how he uses Bongkot (aka Torch Ginger Flower) in a new and creative way. “Visually stunning like a green stick on fire its flamboyantly soft pinky red flame-like shape, the ginger blossom is often treated more like a decoration than a food. Studies have found the ginger blossom to be beneficial for health and wellbeing. It has antioxidant levels almost as high as green tea and also contains an abundance of important nutrients - we use the ingredient for a cocktail, by extracting a nectar from it. Delicious!”
In other exciting news, the sister restaurant of Supanniga Eating Room (Bangkok), called Somtum Der in New York City was recently awarded its first Michelin star. This is the first time Thai Isan Cuisine has been recognised in such a prestigious manner.

About Secret Retreats
Secret Retreats is a collection of unique properties (boutique hotels, villas, boats and restaurants) throughout Asia. We are 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 those travellers curious to experience and discover the “essence of Asia.”

www.secret-retreats.com

On the radar: Flight Centre ups the sell with VR

As virtual reality (VR) technology becomes increasingly commonplace, the travel industry too hopes to leverage on the exciting potential it affords. Dannon Har goes on a virtual trip to Japan, Vietnam and Australia in a span of 10 minutes, and tells us what his experience was like.

Why

Flight Centre Singapore is boosting its storefront retail experience with VR headsets equipped with 360-degree video content that showcases destinations around the world.

The headset was made available on November 25. While it is currently available only at its headquarters at 137 Cecil Street, there are plans to roll out the headsets to its other two stores in Singapore in the coming weeks.

What

This is the first time a travel agency in South-east Asia is employing the use of VR as a mainstay sales and marketing tool, and probably one of the few in the world to do so.

As of now, customers can be transported to three destinations – Tokyo, Hoi An and Cairns – upon donning the Samsung Gear VR headsets, which uses the Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone as the video storage and playback device. This is the same technology used by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts which launched its own major VR initiative just last month.

How

The experience of putting on one of these VR headsets is novel and exciting as it is a reactive system which portrays real-life vision, in a sense that as you swerve your head, your entire vision sways with you to capture different parts of the panorama. This also means that videos have to be watched multiple times in order to see everything completely.

It is cool to see yourself looking out at the landscape from a hot air balloon in Cairns, hear food sizzling as it is being wok-fried in Hoi An, and watch as Tokyoites wave affectionately at you wherever you look.

But novelty is a resource that wears off fast. This is only my second time using a VR headset to experience travel destinations, the first being the aforementioned Shangri-La’s VR tool, and already the fun-factor has markedly subsided.

Luckily, these devices weren’t designed merely to entertain, but to flaunt and highlight travel locales. To that end, it is a highly successful apparatus of content marketing. It is the second-best thing to actually travelling to these featured destinations.

As Suyin Lee, managing director of Flight Centre Travel Group, puts it: “It enhances the discovery process and provides a try-before-you-buy option for customers. It never really replaces the real thing of course, but it does give people inspiration to try a new destination. It evokes emotion, stimulates interest and provides assurance as to what one might expect.”

Verdict

Employing VR in an accessible manner for Flight Centre’s brick and mortar customers is a definite boon and goes in line with the agency’s expansion strategy to erect a greater number of physical stores islandwide.

Not only do walk-ins have an inventive option to find out more about a destination, the mere creation of 360-degree video content also opens up avenues for monetisation such as content sales.

Flight Centre Singapore

Tel: (65) 6692-9778
Website: www.flightcentre.com.sg

Auckland's First Adina Apartment Hotel Opens in Time for Peak Season

Adina Apartment Hotel Auckland
TFE Hotels is set to open the doors on its newest New Zealand hotel on December 1, the Adina Apartment Hotel Auckland, Britomart, located in the CBD only 1 minute from Vector Arena, the first Adina Apartment Hotel to enter the New Zealand market.

The opening comes at an ideal time for Auckland's stretched hospitality sector, with New Zealand visitor numbers surpassing the three-million mark for the first time, up 7% on last year. Coupled with this, Colliers International's latest New Zealand Hotel Market Snapshot shows that, despite increased demand and record-high market occupancy, Auckland hotel room supply actually went down 2.1% since their last update in May 2015.

The Adina Apartment Hotel Auckland opening will come as welcome news to the council whose Auckland Visitor Plan 2021 outlines a six-year growth plan that will require up to 3,400 new hotel rooms introduced over that period to hit their ambitious growth targets.

The new Auckland property will offer 140 stylish and modern apartments, located just a short stroll from the waterfront. Contemporary in design; the rooms are appointed with fully equipped kitchens and kitchenettes, comfortable living space and laundries in the one and two bedroom apartments, with a real focus on comfort and lifestyle, including undercover parking.

CEO of TFE Hotels, Rachel Argaman says, “We recognise the fantastic opportunity that exists in Auckland with the significant growth in tourist arrivals, and Auckland's position as an Asia-Pacific hub. We are thrilled to be able to provide Auckland visitors with a premium accommodation option allowing them to see the best of the city with all of the independence and amenities valued by a modern traveller.”

From February, the hotel will open an on-site gym and also operate a bar and café, offering a range of locally sourced food and wine where guests can dine, relax and feel at home. Meeting facilities will include two conference rooms, one catering to 45 people theatre style and the other a boardroom for 12.

Adina Apartment Hotels are designed to encourage guests to live like a local, combining the best of a premium serviced-hotel experience, with local apartment living. Within easy walking distance of the city's star attractions—the sparkling Viaduct, Wynyard Quarter, Britomart and Vector Arena. Adina Apartment Hotel provides the perfect launch pad for visitors wanting to explore all that Auckland has to offer.

Argaman believes the thriving Auckland market is a perfect fit for Adina's premium style apartments.

“The modern explorer is independent with all the latest travel tools and technology at their disposal. They want a hotel that facilitates their experience of the wider city, in a way that an Auckland local would. Adina's spacious apartment-style living, with the added benefit of hotel services definitely ticks that box and is perfect for business travellers, families and longer stays.”

Russell Property Group spokesperson, Brett Russell, says “We're thrilled to see the very first Adina in New Zealand, Adina Apartment Hotel Auckland, Britomart come to fruition. Adina Apartment Hotels is a well-respected brand globally and their signature premium offering will be a great fit here on the Auckland waterfront.”

Adina Apartment Hotel Auckland joins the TFE Hotels' company portfolio of over 70 hotels across Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Currently, Adina Apartment Hotels are located Australia-wide and in European cities including Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Budapest and Copenhagen. TFE Hotels' currently operates 3 hotels in New Zealand including Rendezvous Hotel Auckland, Travelodge Wellington and Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch. For more information, visit: www.TFEhotels.com