Sunday, 31 January 2016

Auckland Airport welcomes new Emirates non-stop Dubai-Auckland daily service

The announcement that Emirates will start a new non-stop service between Dubai and Auckland from 2 March 2016 means that Auckland Airport will now only be one stop away from the airline’s 53 European and Middle Eastern destinations.

Norris Carter, Auckland Airport’s general manager – aeronautical commercial, says, “The announcement of this new non-stop Emirates flight between Dubai and Auckland is great news for Auckland Airport and even better news for New Zealand.”

“This new flight will help to significantly increase the number of people travelling between New Zealand and Europe, India and of course the Middle East. It will help to further stimulate travel, trade and tourism with these important and growing markets.”

“Auckland Airport estimates this new service using a B777-200LR aircraft will provide an extra 194,180 seats per annum on the Dubai route and deliver an additional $125 million every year to the New Zealand economy.”

“We are particularly delighted that this new Dubai direct service will be in addition to the three Emirates A380 flights that already operate daily between Auckland and Dubai – via Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. These four daily flights will provide passengers with significant choice for their journeys, and the new non-stop Dubai service will reduce journey times by around three hours each way.”

“The new non-stop flight from Auckland to Dubai is estimated to take 17 hours and 15 minutes. That is only 20 minutes shorter than the current world record holder, a 17 hours and 35 minutes Emirates flight scheduled to start next month from Dubai to Panama City. Today’s announcement means Auckland Airport will have one of the world’s longest non-stop commercial passenger flights and exciting destinations such as Rome, Athens, Budapest, Warsaw and Vienna will only be a short six hour flight away from Dubai.”

“With a fleet of more than 230 aircraft, including 72 A380s, Emirates currently flies to over 140 destinations in more than 80 countries around the world, including 38 European destinations. It is a truly global airline and since its arrival in Auckland in 2003 it has experienced significant growth.”

“Auckland Airport looks forward to celebrating the arrival of the new non-stop Auckland-Dubai flight, and we wish Emirates well for their new service,” says Mr Carter.

Discover Ten 'Off the Beaten Track' Things to Do in Tuvalu

Tuvalu is considered one of the smaller 'off the beaten track' type destinations in the South Pacific and a recent traveler's blog published by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) offers travelers an insight into 'ten things to do' on timeless Tuvalu.

The traveler's blog is a result of a travel familiarization initiative funded by the European Union to facilitate the production of travel blogs and articles to assist the tourism industry in Tuvalu recover following the severe tropical cyclone Pam, which struck Tuvalu in March 2015.

Australian travel writer Louise Southerden visited Tuvalu and captured in the traveler's blog some interesting discoveries about her visit to one of the most remote nations in the world.

SPTO Chief Executive, Ilisoni Vuidreketi, said the articles written by Louise Southerden of Australia provide wonderful insights into travel in Tuvalu.

“We thought it best to send a travel writer to Tuvalu to experience for herself the different tourism activities on the ground because we have noted that travelers enjoy stories based on real time experiences.”

“The blog on 'Ten things to do in Tuvalu' is a well written piece that provides an 'off the beaten track' experience that one would only find in Tuvalu and that's what makes this timeless paradise unique.”

“We are pleased to be able to offer travelers to Tuvalu an insight into what they can find and do and we believe that this will help tourists choose the island as one of the must-see and visit island destinations in the world.”

The traveler's blog can be found at www.spto.org/blogs/item/4261-10-things-to-do-in-tuvalu

Melbourne Goes Event Mad in March

March into Melbourne for 31 days of fashion, flowers, food, fast cars and world class festivities as the city plays host to multiple major events. The World's Most Liveable City is renowned for its year-round calendar of events, its sporting prowess, its love of food and its passion for fashion, and in the month of March the city reaches fever pitch. The line-up includes:

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
Now in its 24th year, the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (4 – 13 March) offers a smorgasbord of culinary events. From masterclasses and workshops with the pros, to food trails for the curious and the ever-popular World's Longest Lunch (which this year will be held on the 2016 Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix track), there is an experience for novices and gastronomists alike. The festival hub, at Southbank's Queensbridge Square, will take the shape of an Urban Dairy, where a selection of the world's finest cheese, yoghurt and ice-cream makers will produce their signature items. This is just one of many events that will form part of River Graze, with a plethora of culinary delights, free entertainment and regional flavours along the banks of the Yarra River - all feeding into the overall theme, 'Sense of Place'.

Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox present Marilyn Monroe
Records are set to be broken as Bendigo hosts the world-first exhibition that celebrates the life of one of the world's most loved film stars. Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox present Marilyn Monroe (5 March – 10 July) brings together authentic artefacts, clothing and other objects belonging to, or worn by, the screen siren. Visitors will see more than 20 original film costumes, numerous dresses and accessories from Marilyn's personal wardrobe, glamorous studio portraits, wardrobe test photographs and much more. Curated by Bendigo Art Gallery, the pieces have been drawn from private collections around the world and have never been seen before in Australia. To complement the exhibition, Bendigo Art Gallery has secured Seward Johnson's iconic eight-metre high sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, Forever Marilyn, which will be located in the Bendigo Botanic Garden precinct from February – July 2016.

Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival
Australia's largest and longest running public fashion event, the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF, 7 – 13 March) is set to rock the socks off fashionistas all over town when it returns for its 20th incarnation. The festival will showcase more than 100 established and emerging designers within the grandeur of its new location - the heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building - where, in another VAMFF first, three runway shows will be staged on one night. A true feast for the senses, the festival presents stylish, week-long entertainment including world-class runway shows, beauty workshops, industry seminars, forums and live entertainment. Upping the ante on its always-outstanding fashion offer, this year the festival presents a month-long Cultural Program of more than 70 free and ticketed activities and events (13 February – 13 March) across Melbourne, regional Victoria and online. Highlights of the program include 200 Years of Australian Fashion at the National Gallery of Victoria (5 March – 31 July 16) and Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox present Marilyn Monroe (5 March – 10 July).

Matilda The Musical
Matilda The Musical (previews commence 13 March) is the award-winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the children's book Matilda written by Roald Dahl. With original songs by Tim Minchin, it will be performed at Melbourne's Princess Theatre. Witty dialogue, catchy songs, quirky characters and a spectacular stage design ensure Matilda The Musical will be enjoyed by the whole family.

Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show
The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (16 – 20 March) is the biggest annual flower and garden show in the Southern Hemisphere and is set to return with an explosion of colour for its 20th year. Australia's top floral and landscape designers unite to create stunning floral displays in the world-heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens and share their new and innovative garden ideas. An extensive array of garden and floral retail products will be available, including rare and unusual plants, alongside a selection of food and entertainment.

2016 Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix
The Albert Park Lake circuit will celebrate 21 years of high-octane thrills in Melbourne when it plays host to the 2016 Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix (17 – 20 March). The fastest cars, hottest celebrities and latest technology from around the globe make Melbourne home for four days of breathtaking action, on and off the track. As well as watching the world's best drivers zoom around the circuit, the crowd can enjoy live music, stunt performances, street art and a dedicated kids' corner. Entry to General Admission areas is free for kids aged 12 and under, making for a good-value family day out. With St Kilda and the city both just minutes away, motorsports fans can keep the festivities going at any number of bars, eateries and live music venues.

Jurassic World
Prehistoric dinosaurs will be brought to life at Melbourne Museum for the world premiere of Jurassic World: The Exhibition (19 March – 9 October). Based on Universal Pictures' blockbuster film, this immersive exhibition offers encounters with realistic, life-sized animatronic dinosaurs inspired by the film and created in close collaboration with renowned palaeontologist Jack Horner. The exhibition is infused with interactive educational elements, drawn from the real-world science of dinosaur DNA including 'The Hammond Creation Lab'. Visitors can come face-to-face with a life-like Pachyrhinosaurus, be amazed by a towering Brachiosaurus and take a close-up look at the most vicious dinosaur of them all, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival (23 March – 17 April) celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2016 with a rip-roaring and diverse line up of international and Australian comedy, cabaret, street performances, theatre and visual arts. With a hilarious line-up of world class acts, visitors are invited to see for themselves why Melbourne has become one of the world's three biggest comedy festivals (with Edinburgh and Montreal). Artists set to tickle collective funny bones around the city include David O'Doherty, Arj Barker, Celia Pacquola, Hannah Gadsby, Judith Lucy, Tommy Little, Tripod, Ali McGregor, Charlie Pickering and Fiona O'Loughlin. To celebrate 30 years, the Melbourne Comedy Festival in conjunction with Arts Centre Melbourne, is presenting a major exhibition showcasing the life of the festival, from the 1987 launch with Peter Cook and Sir Les Patterson through to Deadly Funny – the only dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander comedy program. 


Rip Curl Pro
Australia's surfing capital, Torquay (located at the start of the Great Ocean Road), will again welcome the world's best surfers to its famous breaks at Bells Beach when the 55th Rip Curl Pro (25 March – 5 April) hits town. Surf's up for the World Surf League's top ranked surfers who carve up the waves and compete for the prized Bell - one of the most sought after trophies in surfing. Along with the action in the water, there will be plenty happening on land for fans, visitors and surfers alike, between the famous Bells contest site, the local pubs and legendary parties around town.

Other Melbourne events in March:
The Davis Cup (4 – 6 March)
The Secret River at The Arts Centre (10 – 19 March)
Vitesse at The Arts Centre ( 10 – 21 March)
Moomba (11 – 14 March)
Brunswick Music Festival (15 – 20 March)
Whistler's Mother at the NGV (26 March – 19 June)
The Godfather at The Arts Centre (31 March – 1 April)
Melbourne Queer Film Festival (31 March – 11 April)
Warhol / Ai Weiwei at the NGV (until 24 April)

Regional Victoria events in March:
The Murchison Tomato Festa (6 March)
Swan Hill Region Food and Wine Festival (11 – 13 March)
Motor City Music Festival (11 – 13 March)
Rosebud Kite Festival (12 – 13 March)
Tastes of Rutherglen (12 – 13 March)
Wooden Boat Festival of Geelong (12 – 14 March)
Bacchus Marsh Harvest Festival (13 March)
Sale Music Festival (13 March)
Jailhouse Rock Festival (16 – 20 March)

1,000 Americans Visiting the Great Wall on March 25

To celebrate China-U.S. Tourism Year 2016, China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), China National Tourist Office-U.S.A. (CNTO) and three tour operators are working together to bring more than 1,000 American tourists to the Great Wall of China in Jinshanling, Hebei Province, on March 25, 2016. Click here for more information about these itineraries that you may add to your China vacation packages.

The three tour operators are offering several special itineraries featuring the Great Wall for this event:

China International Travel Service (CITS)
Contact: Mr. Simon Wu, wuzheng@cits.com.cn
Click here for promotional flier.

China Travel Service (CTS)
Contact: Ms. Jane Tong, tongl.md@ctsho.com
Click here for promotional flier.

China Youth Travel Service (CYTS)
Contact: Ms. Amy Jiang, amy@cytsonline.com
Click here for promotional flier.

February Events to be Held in Moab Utah

February averages 51f/11c temperatures in February. The bright winter sun is warming and walks are comfortable. Snowfall averages 2in/5.1cm in February. Sunny slopes melt fast while shaded grounds hold residual snow a little longer. The contrast of white fluff on Moab Utah's sandstone features is inspirational. Mix touring and sightseeing with the following local events dispersed throughout the month.

Going on February 6 2016

La Sal Mountain Outfitter Archery 3D Tournament

Saturday Trickle requires no pre-registration. Trickle starts at 9 AM - 3 PM. 11 targets with 1 moving target. Shoot Off begins at 4 PM. Fun Shoot: $25.00. Kids under 12 shoot free. Sign up for the money shoot before 4 PM. Held at Old Spanish Trail Arena. 3641 S Hwy 191 Moab UT. http://www.lasalmountainoutfitters.com

Chocolate Lovers Festival

Please join the Moab Charter School as we present one of Moab's favorite winter events, The Chocolate Lovers Festival! Make a chocolate art creation to share, or come and support MCS by sampling some of Moab's tastiest art at the MARC from 6-8pm on Feb 6th. This year's theme is: A CHOCOLATE LOVER'S FAIRY TALE. 10$ gets you a punch card to taste 8 chocolate creations (8$ for kids). We will have a silent auction, games, and prizes for outstanding chocolatiers. COSTUME CONTEST PRIZE AS WELL! Chocolatiers will need to register before-hand to enter a chocolate piece. For more info email MoabChocolateLovers@gmail.com or visit our Facebook page.

February 8- 10 and again February 16 2016

Ceramic Workshop

Get an introduction to basic hand-building technique and guided through the student's creation-own design. Appropriate for beginning to advance students. Sculpt during February 8-10 5-7:30 PM; Feb 16 5-7:30 PM to glaze work. Advance enrollment is necessary. $70 includes clay, tools, glaze and firing. Instruction is by Shari Michaud for 4 day ceramic sculpture workshop. Registration is limited to 6 students.http://gallerymoab.com/workshops or sign up in person at Gallery Moab, 87 North Main Street and held there.

February 13 2016

Red Hot Trail Race

Run an ultra distance race of 55k or 33k distances. Packet pick up is at Eddie McStiffs, 59 S Main Street, Moab on Friday 1-7 PM; as will be the after race party. Racers are at the starting line 6:30 am Saturday. At 3:30 there are awards at the Poison Spider Trailhead and finish line. After party starts at 7:30 pm. http://grassrootsevents.net/moab-red-hot/

Puttin' on the Ritz

Do not miss Moab's classiest event of the year, Seekhaven's annual fundraiser Puttin' on the Ritz. Come enjoy an evening of fine dining, live music and silent auction. All proceeds support the Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center. Tickets: $60/person, available at Zions Bank and Seekhaven. http://seekhaven.org/

February 15 2016

Free Fee Park Entrance at Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

By day and by night, the parks are open 24/7, although in February Canyonlands visitor centers will be closed and Arches National Park's visitor center has winter hours of 9 am – 4 pm in February.

February 17-20 2015

Quilted Moab Retreat

Fun projects like a Fat-Quarter Bag, Put together 4 Quilt Blocks, an easy quilt, bring leftover fabric for an heirloom quality quilt, use fusible web to appliqué patriotic skinnies, and many more projects. Classes will breakout at 9 AM – Noon, 2 PM – 5 PM, and 7 PM -9. Register now! http://www.quiltedmoab.com/

February 19 2016

Adult Spelling Bee

This entertaining evening is a fundraiser for the Grand County Education Foundation. Over the years it has outgrown the 289 seats at one venue to now be held at Bar-M Chuckwagon (7000 North Hwy 191). Get door prizes and appetizers with admission. Cost: $10 adults/ $5 students. Beer and Soda is available for purchase.

Want to compete? A 3 person team entry costs $150 before January 20th. Beginning January 21st cost is $180 per team. Prizes awarded for winning team of spellers and best team costumes. Melodie can be reached at mel777@citlink.net or 435-259-9797 or http://www.grandcef.org.

February 27 2016

Eagle Float on the Colorado River

The Eagle Float is an opportunity to enjoy a full-say trip on a calm Colorado River and go winter birding. Learn about identification, habits, migration, and management from local Moab Bird Club experts and see wintering Baldn and Golden Eagles. See cfimoab.org or phone 435-259-7750.

For travel details, www.DiscoverMoab.com has comprehensive lists of accommodations. Prices in February are as low as $49 a night.

London Mime Festival celebrates mime in its many forms

The London International Mime Festival in London celebrates the brilliant world of mime in its many forms. The longest-running festival of its kind, this celebration of the silent art form offers theatre-goers the chance to experience a highly diverse range of shows.

This year’s festival is set over 29 days across a number of London venues to be held until February 6, with 18 productions from nine different countries.

French double act and original Complicite members Jos Houben and Marcello (Marcel) Magni opens LIMF’16 with a funny but thought-provoking exploration of the perils of aging. The shorter Magni is put through a series of increasingly difficult physical and mental tests at the hands of his loftier comic counterpart in a celebration of physical comedy and the art of the “gag”.

You can also take part in an extreme puppetry workshop led by “puppet legends” Blind Summit, as well as several clowning classes, a course on the mask development process, and a number of other workshops. The Barbican is showing two great circus movies – Carol Reed’s Trapeze and Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus.

Hue Festival 2016 coming in April

Hue Festival 2016 will take place from April 29 to May 4 with various culture, sport and art activities.

The festival will celebrate 710 years since the founding of Thuan Hoa - Phu Xuan (now Thua Thien-Hue Province). It will also highlight the central province's cultural heritage in the development and integration process. With an aim to uphold traditional values and showcase modernity, Hue Festival 2016 will focus on events in which both people and tourists can take part in and enjoy, according to Nguyen Dung, vice chairman of the provincial People's Committee.

"It's an opportunity to promote an image of Hue - the cultural, heritage and tourism city, the Festival city of Viet Nam," said Dung.

The festival will gather artists from 20 countries with France playing as the main partner.

The troupes include Guangdong Theatre from China, the Cancer band from Denmark, Michal Milczareck Trio from Poland, Della Mae from the US, Hallelujah from Israel, Germein Sisters from Australia and Yun Myung-hwa from the Republic of Korea.

Domestic arts companies and street arts troupes will also bring interesting performances to this festival such as the Cleopatra belly dance group from Ha Noi, Giao Thoi band from HCM City and Viet Nam Circus Federation.

Besides, the festival is also a combination of traditional culture, art and tourism activities with great attractions and high community orientation, which will contribute to promoting local socio-economic development, including: Royal Night, Orient Legends, beer carnival, international food festival, old car exhibition, ancient village festival in Phuoc Tich Village, traditional boat race on Huong River and kite festival.

The festival will include several exhibitions featuring cultural icons, traditional games, and specialties from many localities across Viet Nam, thereby providing tourists with a better understanding of the Southeast Asian country.

It will be held in coincidence with the conference of Mayors from member countries of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Co-operation.

Hue Festival is the first contemporary festival in Viet Nam developed from the new concept of festival based on festival models from various cities in the world. As a typical cultural tourism event, which takes place every two years starting from 2000, it brings together excellent arts companies with unique performances from all over the world.

"After eight previous events, Hue Festival has gradually developed to a national scale with international orientation and contributed to building Hue tourism's reputation as well as promoting Viet Nam culture to the world," said Dung.

This will be the first time the festival will be organised on the holiday occasion of Liberation Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1).

"We anticipate the huge number of tourists flocking to Hue City on this occasion and the current number of 2,000 rooms may not meet the demand," said Dung.

"We will join with local travel agents and businesses to upgrade the service quality and satisfy tourists."

Besides attending the festival in the city, tourists can choose to enjoy sightseeing tours and eco-tours to discover local destinations such as Lang Co Beach, A Luoi mountainous region and Tam Giang Lagoon. Hue Festival 2014 received 200,000 tourists. In this first half of this year, there are 1.6 million tourists come to Thua Thien - Hue.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Thailand prepares grand celebrations to mark the 2016 lunar New Year

Thailand, one of a home to the largest overseas Chinese community in the world, is planning to welcome the 2016 lunar New Year with grand celebrations across the country. This year, the big day falls on 8 February, but the celebration dates vary in each province with the celebrations co-hosted and supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) scheduled during 5 to 15 February.

Mr. Visanu Jaroensilp, TAT Deputy Governor for Tourism Products and Business said, “Thailand’s celebrations to mark the 2016 Chinese New Year will be even more special, as this is a significant year for the country. This year marks His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 70th anniversary of accession to the throne and the 88thbirthday anniversary, as well as Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s seventh cycle or 84th birthday anniversary.

“This year also marks the 41st year of Sino-Thai diplomatic relations, and the 12th anniversary of cooperation between TAT and the Chinese Ministry of Culture in co-hosting the Chinese New Year celebrations in Thailand.”

To commemorate such a significant year for Thailand, TAT has scheduled to hold the 2016 Chinese New Year celebrations during 5-15 February at 13 major destinations nationwide. They are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Sawan, Ayutthaya, Suphan Buri, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chon Buri (Pattaya), Songkhla (Hat Yai), Phuket, Trang and Udon Thani.

Highlights for the TAT’s 2016 Chinese New Year celebrations at the 13 destinations will include:
  • A special ceremony to extend lunar New Year’s greetings to people across China and Thailand by Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports, H.E. Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Thailand, E. Mr. Ning Fukui. The event will take place on 7 February at the China Cultural Centre in Bangkok.
  • The official opening ceremony of the Yaowarat Chinese New Year 2016 that will be graciously presided over by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The event will take place on 8 February at Bangkok’s Chinatown on Yaowarat Road.
The Ministry of Culture, the People’s Republic of China has prepared special cultural shows from nine famous troupes and more than 180 performers as part of the wishes for the New Year of the Monkey for the people of Thailand. The shows will take place on 8-9 February at different locations:
  • Bangkok – musical and dance performances from Beijing
  • Nakhon Sawan – Kungfu performances from Tianjin
  • Suphan Buri – acrobatic performances from Ningxia
  • Ayutthaya – dance performances from Hangzhuo
  • Ratchaburi – Chinese opera performances from Beijing
  • Nakhon Ratchasima – dance and cultural performances from Xinjiang
  • Udon Thani – acrobatic and puppetry shows from Fujian and dance performances from Chengdu
  • Songkhla (Hat Yai) – dance performances from Mongolia
  • Phuket – musical and dance performances from Beijing and Kungfu performances from Tianjin
  • The ceremony to pay homage to the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, the highly revered Buddhist image of the Mahayana Buddhism followers, which has been taken from the Hua Seng Temple, Huangshan Mountains in Anhui province, China.

TAT estimates that the 2016 Chinese New Year celebrations, from 5-15 February, will help generate 2,350 million Baht for the Thai economy through the myriad of tourist activities, such as, from the travel and related expenses to pay homage to revered Buddhist images for blessings at destinations across Thailand.Mr. Visanu said, “The collaboration in organising the Chinese New Year celebrations in Thailand has strengthened the Sino-Thai relations while the array of great activities in different locations has attracted visitors to stay longer, thus resulting in more tourism spending and help to boost the economy. The performances from China not only help light up the celebration, but also inspire inter-cultural understanding. In addition, TAT takes this opportunity to promote Thailand and our cultural heritage through the experiences of the Chinese performers by arranging cultural tour programmes for them.”
In addition, during 6-14 February, TAT targets Thailand to attract about 1.01 million international visitor arrivals and generate approximately 29.92 billion Baht tourism revenue, representing a year-on-year increase of 19 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively. Of the totals, Thailand’s five main markets with large Chinese communities – China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia – are expected to contribute 476,000 visitors (up 20 per cent) and 15.2 billion Baht revenue (up 32 per cent).

For more details of the best places to experience the 2016 Chinese New Year, please seehttp://www.tatnews.org/events/thailand-chinese-new-year-2016/

Hangzhou & Guizhou named by NY Times in 52 Places to Go in 2016

Earlier this month, the New York Times annual travel story on top places to visit featured two delightful destinations from China: Hangzhou at #16 and Guizhou at #44.

According to the story, “Hangzhou used to be known for its ancient poets and painters; now, the city is home to the booming e-commerce company Alibaba, and will take a step on the global stage in 2016 as the first Chinese city to host the G20 summit… Guizhou province has long been one of China’s least accessible regions. As a result, its ethnic minority Miao and Dong mountain villages retain an unhurried pace and authentic feel.” 

Click here to read the article.

New Australian travel photography book ‘The Philosophy of Travel’ celebrates the outback and our connection to the land

As the publisher and TV host of 4WD Touring Australia, photographer Carlisle Rogers has travelled over 100,000 outback kilometres, met some incredible people and captured some of Australia’s most spectacular scenery.

The Philosophy of Travel (Escape Media, $69.95) is no ordinary travel photography book. It’s a lavishly designed cloth-bound hardcover ode to the spirit of exploration and discovery. In the book Carlisle shares over 100 stunning full page photographs of the people and places visited over the past four years, and includes beautifully written insights into each photograph featured. “The photos, and the ideas, are the product of well over 100, 000km of dusty, muddy roads, late night highway miles and the roadhouses, sunsets, waves, strangers and friends that have pushed me, challenged me and kept me looking for beauty in every direction.” Carlise says.

A uniquely presented coffee table book, The Philosophy of Travel is an extraordinary photographic celebration of the Australian outback and our connection to the land. After working as a freelance writer and photographer for some of Australia’s most prestigious newspapers and magazines, including The Age, Australian Geographic and RM Williams Outback, Carlisle Rogers created his own travel brand, 4WD Touring Australia in 2012. He produces and hosts the TV Series, 4WD Touring Australia, while travelling and capturing the true spirit of outback Australia for the magazine eachmonth.

Southeast Asian tourism ministers launch 10-year plan to boost tourism

In a bid to boost tourism, Southeast Asian tourism ministers launched a 10-year plan on Friday to market their region as a single destination. The ministers sought to raise tourism’s share of the regional economy to 15 percent by 2025.

Also a “Visit ASEAN@50″ campaign will be launched to mark the 50th anniversary of the regional group next year, the ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations announced. The campaign will showcase hundreds of ASEAN tourism products, events and experiences and target people within and outside the region.
An ASEAN cruise brand with a logo of linked, colorful waves was also unveiled by the tourism ministers.

Tourism is a major pillar of integration for the region of more than 600 million people and accounted for 12.3 percent of ASEAN’s GDP in 2013 with 102.2 million tourist arrivals.
The 10-year tourism plan calls for intensified promotion and marketing, diversification of tourism products including development of sub-regional destinations, attraction of tourism investment, promotion of an ASEAN tourism standards certification system, expansion of connectivity and infrastructure, and increased participation of local communities in tourism.

Tourist arrivals in ASEAN are expected to increase to 152 million by 2025 and ASEAN is forecast to account for 25 percent of 1.8 billion world tourist arrivals by 2030.

Great Ocean Road and Murray River to Star in Tourism Australia's Latest Global Campaign

Regional Victoria is set to star in Tourism Australia's newest global marketing campaign, as the Great Ocean Road and the Murray River region are showcased as top highlights of Australia's world-class, aquatic and coastal experiences.

Tourism Australia's aquatic and coastal campaign was launched in New York on Australia Day eve, January 25 2016. It will include a series of international television commercials, featuring a voiceover by Melbourne born, Australian actor and newly appointed Tourism Australia global ambassador Chris Hemsworth.

The newly filmed campaign features over a dozen distinct experiences representing every Australian state and territory. Flying over Victoria's stunning Great Ocean Road and 12 Apostles in a helicopter will form one of these hero experiences, while Victoria's mighty Murray River region with its many on-water experiences and unique Australian bush setting will also feature in the campaign.

The global marketing push makes use of ground-breaking virtual reality technology and user generated content in a way never before seen in destination marketing. Fully integrated print, digital and PR activity will facilitate the promotion of Victoria's diversity of state-wide aquatic and coastal regions.

Tourism Australia will spend A$40 million over the next six months rolling out the new campaign - starting in the US with a joint campaign with Virgin Australia and then across other key international markets, including the UK, China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and New Zealand.

Nick Foa, Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Victoria said the marketing campaign will help cement Victoria as one of the world's must-visit destinations for nature and wildlife.

“As one of the world's most spectacular and internationally recognised coastal drives, the Great Ocean Road offers striking imagery for showcasing regional Victoria overseas, but there is much more to discover in the region, from the wildlife and surf towns to rainforest and mountain biking adventures.”

“We are also excited to have an opportunity to showcase, and in many ways introduce, the Murray region to more international markets. This quintessentially Australian landscape is where the bush meets the river and where travellers can choose between historic paddle-steamer or horseback to explore the many cellar doors and heritage towns.”

“Victoria offers a breadth of aquatic and coastal experiences. Whether it's the nightly parade of little penguins at Phillip Island, paddling with a platypus, snorkelling with giant stingrays, water skiing on lakes or hitting the surf.” said Foa.

More details of the campaign including the broadcast ad are available at www.tourism.australia.com/Aquatic and Tourism Australia's multi-media release at http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7742051-tourism-australia/

Kite festival rings in New Year

An art kite festival was held in the southern coastal province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau on January 1 to celebrate the New Year 2016.

The two-day event drew 10 professional kite clubs together with 100 artisans from cities and provinces nationwide.

As many as 150 unique kites coloured the 2.2 kilometre beach of the Grand Ho Tram Strip, a local hi-end integrated resort in Xuyen Moc district.

A highlight of the festival was the “Rokkaku kite battle” in which flyers tryed to knock other kites out of the sky.

Numerous locals and tourists showed their great interest in the spectacular kite displays.

Friday, 29 January 2016

EUROPEAN STARS HEADED TO PERTH

The 2016 Perth International is pleased to confirm that Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen will return to Lake Karrinyup Country Club to defend his title from 25-28 February, 2016.

His win in Perth marked his second victory on the European Tour and he has since added a third title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews last October.

“I have some great memories from my last visit to Perth and am really looking forward to defending my title at Lake Karrinyup,” commented Olesen.

French Ryder Cup star, Victor Dubuisson, who finished runner-up to Olesen in 2014 has also committed to play. Dubuisson was another winner on the European Tour last October, securing his second Turkish Airlines Open in the past three years. He is currently No.7 on the 2016 Race to Dubai Rankings.

“I made a good run at Thorbjorn in the final round last time, so hopefully I can go one better this time around. Lake Karrinyup is a wonderful course and I look forward to getting back there,” said Dubuisson.

WA’s acting Tourism Minister Albert Jacob said securing these players was fantastic for the event’s profile.

“The State Government is proud to sponsor the Perth International through Tourism WA because it really helps put Perth and WA on the map,” Jacob said.

“Big names mean more broadcast interest; the Perth International generates tens of millions of dollars of media coverage across Australia and in key international markets such as China, Indonesia, Germany, the UK and the US.”

Minister Jacob said hosting international sporting events of this calibre was part of the State Government’s strategy to grow the value of tourism from the current $8.9 billion to $12 billion by 2020.

These players join the 2010 Open Champion, Louis Oosthuizen, in what promises to be the strongest field assembled for the Perth International since its inception in 2012.

Tickets for the Perth International start from $22 and are available through Ticketmaster. Children under 16 will gain free entry with a paying adult.

For general event information visit www.perthinternational.com and follow on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/PerthInternationalGolf and Twitter - @PerthIntl.

FESTIVE MACAO TO GREET YEAR OF THE MONKEY WITH COLOUR

MGTO float
The streets of historic Macao will come alive to the sights and sounds of a giant party as the former Portuguese enclave celebrates Chinese New Year with colourful parades, highly-charged performances, bright lights, fireworks – and plenty more.

Both on the third and sixth day of the Lunar New Year (February 10 and 13, 2016), as many as 14 floats will form a street parade in celebrating the Year of the Monkey.

More than 1300 local and international street performers will entertain the crowds during the processions, the February 13 parade beamed by TV networks in a number of countries.

Australian viewers will be able to capture the very essence of the New Year celebrations in a telecast on Chinese TV station TVB.

Street performers
“This is certainly an exciting time to be in Macao,” said Helen Wong, general manager of the Macao Government Tourism Office in Australia. “The colour and general vibrancy of the Chinese New Year celebrations is not to be missed.

“The initial parade will kick off with a launch ceremony in front of Macao Science Center with the procession moving through Avenida Dr Sun Yat-Sen to Sai Van Lake Square.

“The day’s activities will culminate with spectacular fireworks.”

Significantly, the fictitious yet legendary Monkey King will organise a gathering in the Celestial Court to “bestow New Year blessings”.

In addition to the general Chinese New Year celebrations, the Macao Government Tourism Office will present “Valentine’s Day Fantasia – The Fairytale of Lights” for romantics, beginning on February 7 through till February 29.
The Fairytale of Lights
 – steps in Taipa Village
The dazzling display of lights will decorate an area around the historic Taipa Houses-Museum and will be accompanied by a three-dimensional show, to be unveiled on Friday, February 12.

Details: Macao Government Tourism Office, 

China Extends Overseas Tourist Tax Refund Program to Six More Destinations

China recently decided to include another six destinations in its tax rebate program for overseas visitors to boost inbound tourism and consumption. 

Foreign tourists visiting Liaoning, Anhui, Fujian and Sichuan provinces, Tianjin municipality and Xiamen city can enjoy value-added tax refunds on their purchases in specific shops starting from Jan 1, 2016, according to an announcement released by the Ministry of Finance (MOF). 

First launched in Hainan province in 2011, the MOF decided early this year to broaden the program nationwide upon approval to attract tourists and boost domestic consumption. 

Beijing and Shanghai were included in the program in July. 

Under the plan, foreign tourists as well as visitors from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan who have lived on the mainland for no more than 183 days are eligible for an 11% rebate on consumer goods purchased at designated department stores. 

The minimum purchase for a value-added tax refund is 500 yuan ($77.10) in any one store in a day. 

The refund is valid when the purchase is made within 90 days before departure and the products remain unused upon departure.

SWIPE AND RIDE ARRIVES IN CAIRNS

Solar powered, credit card-enabled swipe and ride bicycle hire has arrived in Cairns, with the opening of the first Spinway bicycle station in the heart of the CBD at tech-savvy Rydges Esplanade Resort on Abbott Street.

“This is a fantastic partnership which underpins our mission to deliver innovative, memorable experiences to our guests and we are very proud to be the first,” said Rydges Esplanade Resort’s general manager, Shannon Craig.

Spinway Cairns provides lightweight, reliable bikes for hire 24/7, 365 days a year. Guests can simply swipe their credit card, select their preferred rental period, and take off to cycle around the sights of the city.

“Cairns, with its beautiful Esplanade precinct and expansive new bike path network is an ideal city for bike hire,” said Shannon.

“It’s such a stunning waterfront, and you can ride from our property to the city, Botanic Gardens, Redlynch Valley, the Northern Beaches and beyond without any truly steep hills to slow you down.”

“This is a fabulous, healthy and environmentally sustainable way for visitors to discover the many natural attractions our city offers.”

The bicycle station is located at the entrance of the Rydges Esplanade Hotel. Spinway have purposely selected Avanti bikes, with comfortable adjustable seats, puncture-resistant tyres and a low step frame suitable for a wide range of riders to ensure guests have a hassle-free spin around town.

Spinway Cairns Director Benjamin Zivkovic, said Rydges Esplanade was the first station to roll out across the region and the initial guest response was fantastic.

"Rydges Esplande has been the perfect property to launch Spinway Cairns," he said. "The hotel is in a great location with easy access to safe cycle paths. Guests can conveniently jump on a bike and ride to town for a bite to eat or a swim. Spinway is a great addition to the city’s cycling community and its great to see councils active in expanding cycling infrastructure.”

"In the coming weeks, we will be deploying further stations in hotels around Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas, giving both locals and tourists access to a low-cost, environmentally friendly and fun way to both get around town and explore the area."

Spinway Cairns launched the Rydges station on Monday, 25 January 2016, which is the first of seven stations to roll out across the region.

Hainan Airlines Launches Changsha-Los Angeles Route on January 21

Hainan Airlines officially launched the Changsha-Los Angeles route, the company’s eighth North American route. Hainan Airlines flight HU7923 with over 200 passengers on board landed in Los Angeles, California at 10:30 am on January 21 local time.

Hainan Airlines deputy chairman Mu Weigang said, “Hainan Airlines has been expanding actively in international markets by progressively adding flights connecting Beijing with Seattle, Chicago, Boston and San Jose as well as routes from Shanghai to Seattle and Boston. With the new Changsha-Los Angeles route, Hainan Airlines has become one of the major airlines providing services between China and the US. We believe that the new route will further enhance economic, cultural and technological exchanges between the two countries.”

Brand USA president and chief executive officer Christopher L. Thompson commented, “With 2016 set as the China-US Tourism Year, Brand USA will continue to strengthen the cooperation with Hainan Airlines and other partners in a move to help Chinese tourists benefit from the abundance of popular tourism destinations in the US”

Visit California director Caroline Beteta commented, “California, the preferred tourist destination for Chinese tourists travelling to the US, accounts for as much as 45.3 per cent of the country’s total Chinese tourist numbers. The new service provides a direct convenient air route to California for those who live in central China”.

Over the past 20+ years, Hainan Airlines has transformed from a Chinese local airline into a large multinational group with businesses covering the aviation, industrial, financial, tourism and logistics sectors as well as a number of world-class brands. In July, 2015, the company made the list of the Fortune 500 companies for the first time. As a subsidiary of HNA Group, Hainan Airlines has been honored as a SKYTRAX 5-Star Airline for five years in a row. In addition, the airline has maintained an excellent safety record for 22 years since its inception and is ranked among the world’s top 10 safest airlines.

Sold on Melbourne – MCEC to auction USD$350,000 worth of meeting room and exhibition space

Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) and Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) recenly announced a strategic partnership with the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), marking the occasion with the launch of the “2016 PCMA Citywide Auction of Melbourne” – a unique opportunity for conference organisers to bid to win an event package at MCEC to the value of USD$350,000.

In what promises to be an important and exciting partnership, Melbourne is the first destination outside of North America to offer this unique opportunity. PCMA and MCB will work collaboratively over the next three years to showcase Melbourne as a leading destination for business events in the Asia Pacific region.

Deborah Sexton, PCMA President and CEO emphasised the significance of PMCA offering its first Citywide Auction in seven years outside of the US. “The Citywide Auction of Melbourne, Australia will prove to be a rare and unique opportunity for any global events professional,” Ms Sexton said.

“Melbourne is Australia’s most creative, exciting and intellectual city, renowned for world-class dining and culture as well as for research, education, innovation and knowledge – making it the perfect conference destination.”

MCB Chief Executive Officer, Karen Bolinger said the initiative is a great opportunity for conference organisers to stage an event at a great price, while enjoying Melbourne’s vibrant cultural scene.

“What we offer in Melbourne is unique and unparalleled in the Asia Pacific region and this strategic partnership with PCMA offers global exposure, while assisting us to showcase our city to North American and European markets,” Ms Bolinger said.

“Melbourne is celebrated as a knowledge and innovation capital, but what sets it apart is our ‘Team Melbourne’ philosophy – how we bring together the city as one to drive successful outcomes for conferences and events,” Ms Bolinger added.

MCEC Chief Executive, Peter King attributed the venue’s success and ability to host over 1,000 events each year to its mature, creative and experienced business model.

“At MCEC we have an unwavering commitment to always work with our customers to ensure that we plan and deliver world-class events while creating life-long, memorable experiences for attendees,” Mr King said.

“MCEC is a full package venue, with an in-house technology offering as well as a food and beverage package created on-site in the largest kitchen in the Southern Hemisphere. I encourage you all to take advantage of this special opportunity and place a bid in the auction,” Mr King added.

The 2016 PCMA Citywide Auction of Melbourne opened on January 11, 2016 during PCMA Convening Leaders in Vancouver and will close November 30, 2016 at 5pm CST.

For full terms and conditions and to place a bid, visit: www.cometomelbourne.com

Dinosaurs Were the Original Love Birds

Question: Were dinosaurs hot, as in hot lovers?
Answer: probably yes, when they were “in heat.”

This is a serious scientific question. We know some dinosaurs had flamboyant head gear: horns, frills and crests. Add the evidence that many had feathers and were related to birds, and a whole new vista of possibilities opens regarding their courtship, mating and display activities. Like birds, some of their closest cousins, the carnivorous 'theropod' dinosaurs may have engaged in colorful display. They say: “if you've got it flaunt it.” We may think of carnivores like Allosaurus and T. rex as cold-blooded killers, but they may have been amorous as well. And the evidence? Some is indirect, based on theropod family tree relationships to birds, those masters of showy displays arising to emotional peaks in the breeding season, but some evidence is more direct. It is just this direct evidence, reported in the prestigious journal Scientific Reports, (Jan 7th) that has allowed Martin Lockley, dinosaur tracking professor of geology at the University of Colorado Denver to lead an international team of trackers to unearth actual physical evidence of dinosaur love fests right here in Colorado.

When asked what this evidence looked like Lockley said “we've found several large areas where tracks of carnivorous dinosaurs are found with dozens of large scrapes some the size of bath tubs.” He quickly added that “many modern bird species engage in a behavior known as 'nest scrape' display or 'scrape ceremonies' where males show off to females by excavating “pseudo nests.” The areas where they do this are called “display arenas” or “leks.” Lockley said the largest arenas, found in two National Conservation Areas (Dominguez-Escalante and Gunnison Gorge), in the Uncompahgre District, near Delta, Colorado, have more than 50 scrapes covering areas that probably extended for several acres. “These are also the first sites with evidence of dinosaur display rituals ever discovered, and the first physical evidence of courtship behavior.” Such evidence supports paleontological ideas about dinosaur mating display, that were previously based only on purely speculative comparisons with modern bird behavior.

Lockley's 15-strong tracker team is truly international with six Colorado residents, three Koreans, representing the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, which partly funded a three year joint dinosaur tracking project in Colorado and eastern Utah. The team also includes two Canadians, a Chinese colleague, and two Polish paleontologists, who like Lockley, are associated with Moab Giants, a new museum devoted to tracks in eastern Utah, where the display arena story is being worked into the exhibits. The team also includes three Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees who have worked closely with the team for several years assisting in state-of-the-art 3D photogrammetric documentation of the sites at the locations on BLM-administered land in western Colorado.

The rock formation in which the scrapes occur, is the Dakota Sandstone, also found all along the Colorado Front Range, including Dinosaur Ridge. In fact one of the traces described comes from this area. This 100 million-year-old rock unit has yielded the tracks of both carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs, crocodiles, turtles, pterosaurs, horseshoe crabs and other invertebrates. “The best candidate for the amorous scrape-making dinosaurs is the probably the carnivore known as Acrocanthosaurus” said Lockley. We can imagine these large dinosaurs, with feet up to 18 inches long, and bodies 20-25 feet, scraping sandy substrates near the shores of the famous Cretaceous gulf known as the Western Interior Seaway. They were probably not only excited but impressively vocal. It was perhaps like Spring Break in the Cretaceous: courtship has a very long history. Team members pointed out that one cannot remove such large scrape marks by removing the gigantic slabs of rock in which they occur. According to BLM Wyoming State Office Regional Paleontologist Brent Breithaupt and Neffra Matthews, a BLM paleontologist at the National Operations Center in Denver , “ because the traces cannot be removed without damage, and as required by BLM permit stipulations and the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act, the traces were documented using 3D digital photogrammetry.” Both BLM staff and their Canadian colleagues, creating a digital 3D data set for interpreting and monitoring the site over time. This data was also used in the scientific publication on the sites. In addition, several of the scrape patterns have been replicated by making rubber molds and fiberglass hard copies, held at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. “These huge trace fossils tell a fascinating story” said curator Joseph Sertich, adding that “they fill a gap in our understanding of dinosaur behavior.”

Lockley cautioned that some paleontologists have asked if there might be other explanations for the scraping. “We explored other possibilities” he said, explaining that digging for water or food by carnivores was very unlikely, as water was abundant in these environments. Likewise, these would not be actual nest sites because there are no eggshells or bones of hatchlings, and in any case sitting in a nest for long periods would smudge out the very clear scratch marks. Aggressive male theropods might have used suitable sites to make territorial displays, but these, say the team, would be difficult to distinguish from display arenas. “The display arena hypothesis is extremely convincing” said Richard McCrea and Lisa Buckley, team members and directors of the Peace Region Paleontological Research Center, in British Columbia.

The scrape evidence has several significant implications. Modern birds using scrape ceremony courtship, usually do so near their final nesting sites. This means that finding the right type of scrapes could mean a nearby nest colony. No one has ever found one in the Dakota Sandstone, where acid conditions have removed most calcium carbonate shells, and probably eggshells also. But the scrape evidence is a clue that when “hot” (in heat) dinosaurs congregated here in the spring breeding season and may have then nested nearby. Ornithologists have long been fascinated by the courtship displays of birds, especially the peacock and birds of paradise. They have interpreted such behavior, which we might call showing off, as a driver of evolution, through the process Darwin called “sexual selection.” Males either compete for females by driving off weaker rivals, or females select the most impressive male performers as mates. Similar sexual selection behaviors are well known in mammals whether it be in the rutting of elk or human posturing in the disco or sports arena. So, even in the Cretaceous, male and female dinosaurs evidently made considered choices about partners.

There may perhaps be 'minor' problems with all this talk of dinosaur love fests and sexual selection. Will it make the next text book editions a little too risqué? Will children need to avert their eyes when viewing dinosaur exhibits? Perhaps. But we need to remember that birds do it and bees do it, so dinosaurs did it also, and without their ancestral antics, the colorful bird world might look quite different today. Our language might even lack the emotional impact of such heart-warming expressions as “love birds.” Were dinosaurs the first love birds, and did the first dinosaur romances take place on ancient beaches that are today preserved as sandstones at Dinosaur Ridge and Colorado's western slope? The scientific evidence points strongly in this direction.

National Tourism Year 2016 to kick off in Kien Giang province

The 2016 National Tourism Year – Phu Quoc and Mekong River Delta, themed ‘Discovering southern land’, officially kicked off on January 9 in Rach Gia city, the Mekong River Delta province of Kien Giang.

The opening activities includes a ceremony announcing the 2016 Tourism Year and a ceremony commemorating the 54th anniversary of the Hero of the People's Armed Forces Phan Thi Rang at the Ba Hon historical relic site in Hon Dat district on January 9.

The Tourism Year will also feature another 63 cultural, arts and tourism events in 18 provinces and cities around the country.

Kien Giang province will host numerous events such as a trade fair for the Mekong River Delta region in April in Rach Gia city, the Cultural, Sports and Tourism Festival of Khmer ethnic people in the province on November 14, Nghinh Ong (Whale Worshiping) festival on November 14-15 in Kien Hai district, and the closing ceremony of the 2016 National Tourism Year.

In addition, a wide variety of activities will also be held during the Year including a photography campaign for the Mekong River Delta region’s photographers, the 2016 Viet Nam atistic photo exhibition, the folk song festival of Northern, Central and Southern regions and a culinary festival of the Mekong River Delta.

The 2016 National Tourism Year is a large-scale cultural, economic and social event, promoting the values of natural resources and heritages in Viet Nam, particularly Kien Giang province.

The event will contribute to attracting more domestic and foreign visitors, as well as promoting the country’s economic development in the coming years.

NSW's Coastal and Aquatic Experiences Light Up New York

The coastal and aquatic experiences of Sydney and New South Wales, Australia lit up New York this week when Tourism Australia launched its new global campaign in Bryant Park on 25 January 2016.

With more than 2,000km of coastline, hundreds of beaches, pristine lakes, swimming holes, waterfalls, river systems and the iconic Sydney Harbour, NSW offers world-class coastal and aquatic experiences.

Tourism Australia's $40 million multi-platform marketing campaign will showcase the best aquatic experiences to travellers globally, as research shows two in three international visitors to Australia enjoy coastal and aquatic experiences1.

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said, “This global campaign will shine a bright light on Sydney and NSW, Australia's number one tourism and events State. It will inspire travellers from across the world to plan a trip to NSW and discover the exciting and diverse array of coastal and aquatic experiences our State has to offer.”

Leading the campaign for NSW are iconic destinations Sydney Harbour, Lord Howe Island and the Murray River.

Destination NSW CEO Sandra Chipchase said, “As Australia's most geographically diverse state, NSW can offer visitors a huge array of aquatic experiences from urban to alpine, country to coastal, Outback to island and subtropical settings. This campaign will showcase our famous Harbour, home to Australia's most famous icons, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House; World-Heritage listed Lord Howe Island; and our historic riverways including Australia's longest river, the mighty Murray.”

“Beyond shimmering Sydney Harbour, you'll find an abundance of hidden and treasured coastal and aquatic gems, with the State home to a rich marine, animal and birdlife environment like no other. Our unique aquatic locations also encourage event experiences by the water – from international events such as Surfest in Newcastle to the Sydney International Rowing Regatta at Penrith,” says Ms Chipchase.

Key New South Wales coastal and aquatic destinations:
  • Two of Australia's most famous icons, the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House on Sydney Harbour, hundreds of kilometres of shoreline, national parks, beaches, islands, waterside dining, foreshore walks, sailing, swimming, kayaking and diving to choose from. Intrinsic to the city, the Harbour defines the coastal lifestyle for which Sydney is famous
  • Located 660km off the North Coast of NSW, the World-Heritage listed Lord Howe Island contains the world's southernmost barrier coral reef and only allows 400 visitors on the island at one time, ensuring the island remains a pristine oasis.With its volcanic geology, rare collection of plants, birds and marine life, visitors can enjoy incredible snorkelling, diving, kayaking and surfing experiences
  • Australia's longest river and the third largest navigable river in the world, The Murray River offers some of the best kayaking and canoeing in the country. The historic town of Echuca Moama, known as the paddle steamer capital of Australia is home to one of the largest riverboat fleets in the world. With creeks, billabongs, lagoons, lakes, wetlands and marshes with incredible wildlife to explore, the Murray is the perfect destination to unwind, by paddle steamer, kayak, canoe, water ski or houseboat
  • Renowned as the 'Pelican Capital of Australia', the daily Pelican Feed at The Entrance on NSW's Central Coast draws crowds far and wide. For the past 20 years this longstanding tradition, held at Pelican Plaza supports the local pelican community by providing them with fresh fish, health checks and plenty of fun and entertainment for the local crowd
  • The honeypot of surf culture in NSW is undoubtedly Byron Bay, which buzzes with cafes, galleries, and shops peddling surfboards and swimwear. For quieter beachfront, learn to surf south at Lennox Head and Ballina, or head north to Brunswick Heads. Kingscliff, further up, has emerged as another terrific destination, with clear waters in Cudgen Creek and plenty of chances to hire a kayak and hit the waves
  • Get up close and personal with dolphins in the Port Stephens-Great LakesMarine Park with Dolphin Swim Australia, the only wild dolphin swim available in NSW. Onboard a 52 foot ocean catamaran, you'll swim with qualified dive masters who will take you on an amazing adventure with short-beaked common dolphins and oceanic bottlenose dolphins
  • South of Sydney the coastline unfolds a string of lovely beaches including Hyams Beach, renowned as having the 'whitest sand in the world.' Located on NSW's South Coast in the Jervis Bay Marine Park, this destination offers a myriad of water based activities including diving, snorkelling, sailing, sea kayaking, whale and dolphin watching.

For more coastal and aquatic experiences in NSW please visit www.sydney.com and www.visitnsw.com

(Tourism Australia research carried out by BDA Marketing Planning,www.tourism.australia.com _

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Hilton Worldwide Opens First Hotel In Hunan

Hilton Hotels & Resorts recently announced the opening of Hilton Zhuzhou, Hilton Worldwide’s first hotel in Hunan Province. 

The opening marks the 32nd Hilton branded hotel in China. Hilton Worldwide has 180 hotels in the pipeline for China and currently operates more than 60 hotels across the country, including Hilton branded properties in key cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Shenzhen. 

As one of the largest cities in Hunan, Zhuzhou is not only an important transportation hub, but also a dynamic regional center. Hilton Zhuzhou is proud to serve customers in the key location of the Changsha-Zhuzhou-Xiangtan Golden City Delta. 

To mark the opening of Hilton Zhuzhou, the hotel is offering Hilton HHonors members double bonus points per night on the best available rate for stays completed through to March 21, 2016. 

ASEAN rides the waves with launch of Southeast Asia cruise brand

ASEAN members unveiled the inaugural Cruise south-east Asia brand, taking another step towards establishing the region as a cruising region of choice.

The brand was launched by the ASEAN Tourism Ministers on the last day of the ASEAN Tourism Forum at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, and bears the tagline, ‘Feel the warmth’. It emphasises the warmth of south-east Asia’s hospitality – similar to that of the ASEAN tourism brand – and also references the region’s year-round warm waters, which make it ideal for cruising.

With cruise tourism being a regional product that taps on the appeal of the various destinations, the creation of the Cruise south-east Asia brand will further entrench south-east Asia in the minds of both consumers and industry stakeholders. It will also help raise interest in cruising as an ideal way to discover the region’s myriad cultures and vibrant combination of history and modernity.

Said Ybhg Tan Sri Dr. Ong Hong Peng, Secretary General, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia: “I am confident the development of an ASEAN Cruise brand is indeed a significant initiative to generate new sources of growth for the region. As such, ASEAN countries can look forward to seeing more cruise ships coming to this part of the world. Towards this end, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia will intensify our support and enhance cooperation to promote and grow the ASEAN Cruise brand in the coming years.”

The idea for a unified regional brand was proposed by Singapore in its role as the ASEAN lead co-ordinator for cruise development. It was warmly supported by the other ASEAN member states, reiterating their desire to grow cruise tourism together.

Said Mr Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board: “The launch of the Cruise south-east Asia brand reiterates our region’s commitment to band together and harness the growth potential of the cruise industry.”

The brand will be unveiled to the international cruise industry in March when ASEAN member states come together once more to promote cruising in the region at the Seatrade Cruise Global conference and tradeshow in Miami, Florida, United States of America.

35 Hotels Inducted into Historic Hotels Worldwide in 2015

Historic Hotels Worldwide™ added more than 35 historic hotels in 2015. Hotels designated to join the prestigious Historic Hotels Worldwide registry range from over 600 years old to 75 years old. These new additions represent six countries, including Vietnam, Italy, and Mexico. The oldest historic hotel inducted in 2015 is Bernini Palace Hotel that dates back to the 15th century.

Historic Hotels of Worldwide is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (United States of America)for recognizing and celebrating the finest Historic Hotels around the globe. Historic Hotels Worldwide promotes heritage and cultural travel by featuring a prestigious collection of historic treasures, including historic hotels, castles, chateaus, palaces, academies, haciendas, villas, monasteries, and other historic lodging spanning more than 10 centuries across the globe.

Below is the complete list of Historic Hotels Worldwide hotels inducted in 2015:
  • Bernini Palace Hotel (15th Century) Florence, Italy
  • Sopwell House (1603) St. Albans, Herts, England
  • Mansion Merida on the Park (1644) Yucatán, Mexico
  • Hacienda San Antonio Millet (1667) Yucatán, Mexico
  • Hacienda de los Santos (17th Century) Álamos, Mexico
  • Hacienda Xcanatun (1790) Yucatán, Mexico
  • Hacienda Misné (1800) Yucatán, Mexico
  • The K Club (1832) Kildare, Ireland
  • The Bentley London (1880) London, England
  • Casa Lecanda (19th Century) Yucatán, Mexico
  • Gran Real Yucatán (19th Century) Yucatán, Mexico
  • Casa Azul Hotel Monumento Historico (1900) Yucatán, Mexico
  • Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel (1901) Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel & Spa (1909) Yucatán, Mexico
  • Wyndham Merida (1912) Yucatán, Mexico
  • Rosewood London (1914) London, England
  • Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows (1923) Chichén Itzá, Mexico

From the United States, the following Historic Hotels Worldwide hotels have also been inducted in 2015:
  • Historic Inns of Annapolis (1727) Annapolis, Maryland
  • French Lick Springs Hotel (1845) French Lick, Indiana
  • Southernmost Hotel (1896) Key West, Florida
  • The Silversmith Hotel (1897) Chicago, Illinois
  • West Baden Springs Hotel (1902) West Baden, Indiana
  • Churchill Embassy Row Hotel (1906) Washington, DC
  • Le Pavillon Hotel (1907) New Orleans, Louisiana
  • The Partridge Inn, Curio Collection by Hilton (1910) Augusta, Georgia
  • Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton (1913) Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • The Ashton Hotel (1915) Houston, Texas
  • The Sam Houston Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton (1924) Houston, Texas
  • The Redmont Hotel, Birmingham, Curio Collection by Hilton (1925) Birmingham, Alabama
  • La Concha Hotel & Spa (1926) Key West, Florida
  • Loews Don CeSar Hotel (1928) St. Pete Beach, Florida
  • Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo, a Doubletree by Hilton (1939) Hilo, Hawaii
  • The Fairfax at Embassy Row (1927) Washington, DC
  • The Westin Portland Harborview (1927) Portland, Maine
  • Hotel Alex Johnson, Curio Collection by Hilton (1928) Rapids City, South Dakota

“We are delighted to recognize and celebrate these historic hotels. Many were built for another use and subsequently have been preserved by converting to use as a hotel,: said Lawrence Horwitz, Executive Director, Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “Each hotel has numerous fascinating stories and many unique and iconic architectural features to experience. Each historic hotel allows travelers to discover, explore, experience, and share the past in a very unique way. Congratulations to these hotels.”

Do you know of a hotel that embodies the essence of Historic Hotels Worldwide and would be a great addition to this iconic collection? Submit your nomination form here. For getaways around the world, travelers may search and book hotels by destination, experiences, and special offers on HistoricHotelsWorldwide.com.

Website for National Tourism Year 2016 launched

Vibrant activities and significant events scheduled during the 2016 National Tourism Year will be introduced through the website http://namdulichquocgia2016.vn, which was launched by the Kien Giang Provincial Department of Information and Communication on January 15.

The website will help popularise the 2016 National Tourism Year with tangible and intangible cultural values and special tourism products in Kien Giang province, the Mekong Delta region and other localities nationwide.

In addition, it will promote tourism in the country in general and in the Mekong Delta region and Kien Giang province in particular, of which Phu Quoc Island is expected to become a national and global tourism centre, making contributions to the local socio-economy.

Kien Giang province will host the tourism year with a theme of “Explore the Southern Land”. It is a large-scale cultural, economic and social event, aiming to attract domestic and foreign tourists.

The province recently held a ceremony to commemorate the 54 th death anniversary of heroine Phan Thi Rang at the Ba Hon historical relic site as part of activities organised during the event.

With 12 provinces and one centrally run city, the Mekong Delta is considered the country’s biggest region for rice and fruit production. Particularly, Kien Giang province is home to many popular tourist sites such as U Minh Thuong National Park, the Giant Buddha Pagoda and Phu Quoc Island.

Australia launches new international tourism campaign

Tourism Australia has launched its latest campaign, which is focused on highlighting the country's world-class aquatic and coastal experiences, in a bid to lure more international visitors to Australia.

The new creative, the latest instalment in Tourism Australia's global There's Nothing like Australia campaign, was officially unveiled at an event in New York on Australia Day eve attended by Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon. Julie Bishop.

Guests at the event were treated to immersive 'virtual reality' displays and aquatic-themed images being projected onto the ice rink at the iconic Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park alongside the reveal of a new broadcast ad, featuring a voiceover by Australian actor and new Tourism Australia global ambassador Chris Hemsworth. The event was hosted by Australian chef Curtis Stone and guests enjoyed a specially designed Australian menu by Luke Mangan.

Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O'Sullivan, said the new campaign would focus upon one of Australia's key competitive advantages.

“Already 70 per cent of our international visitors enjoy an aquatic or coastal experience as part of their trip to Australia, so this is a campaign we know will resonate strongly across all our key markets.

“While Australia is known for its natural beauty, the world still doesn't have a full appreciation of the breadth, depth and quality of our aquatic and coastal experiences. They've always been an important part of our destination story but they've never before taken centre stage,” he said.

Mr O'Sullivan said that Chris Hemsworth's voiceover for the new broadcast ad would provide an authentic and influential voice to help tell the country's story and demonstrate to the world that Australia is 'a place you feel'.

“I have always been so proud to be Australian and it's a pretty special feeling knowing that I will have a role in promoting my country to the world and encouraging more people to come down under and experience our amazing beaches and landscapes for themselves,” said Chris Hemsworth.

The campaign will sit alongside and complement existing Tourism Australia marketing activities, including its current promotion of food and wine and Indigenous experiences, providing an additional proof point to demonstrate why There's Nothing like Australia.

“Our long term campaign, There's Nothing like Australia, was always designed to provide a platform from which we could evolve our tourism message. We did this most recently with Restaurant Australia and now with a dedicated focus on Australia's distinctive and high quality aquatic and coastal experiences," Mr O'Sullivan said.

The newly filmed campaign features over a dozen distinct experiences representing every Australian state and territory. These include: a helicopter ride over the 12 Apostles; swimming in Sydney Harbour; snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef; kayaking through Katherine Gorge; driving on the beach in South Australia; cycling around Lake Burley Griffin; sailing through the sparkling blue waters of Rottnest Island; and walking the recently launched Three Capes Track in Tasmania.

Tourism Australia Chief Marketing Officer, Lisa Ronson, said the campaign would be brought to life using ground-breaking virtual reality (VR) technology and compelling user generated content (UCG) on a size and scale never before seen in destination marketing.

“The world of destination marketing is increasingly competitive. We have to constantly push ourselves to find new ways to gain a competitive edge in the global travel market.

“Australia has always had the advantage of being a highly desirable destination. The challenge is how to create a sense of urgency to visit that counters those perceived barriers such as time, distance and cost.

“This campaign has been designed to be incredibly immersive and capture what it feels like to be in Australia and to experience for yourself being on, in or near the water.

"By using VR and 360 technology we hope to inspire prospective travellers considering Australia for their next holiday and get them to take that crucial next step towards making a booking," Ms Ronson said.

Tourism Australia will spend A$40 million over the next six months rolling out the new campaign - starting in the US with a joint campaign with Virgin Australia and then across other key international markets, including the UK, China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and New Zealand.

More details of the campaign are available on Tourism Australia's Aquatic and Coastal page.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Shanghai Airport Building World’s Largest Terminals

Construction of the world’s largest passenger terminals has begun at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, with completion set for 2019. 

The new facilities represent a milestone in Shanghai’s quest to become a world-class air transportation hub. 

The two new passenger terminals will boost airport capacity to 80 million passengers annually, up from 60 million in 2015.

China's First Dusit Thani Hotel Debuts in Jiangsu Province

The highly anticipated Dusit Thani Dongtai, Jiangsu Hotel announces its official opening, making it the first internationally branded deluxe hotel in the city and the very first Dusit Thani to launch in the People's Republic of China.

Featuring 160 well-appointed guestrooms and suites, the Dusit Thani Dongtai, Jiangsu is situated in the city's newest economic development zone, with easy access to the central business district. It is a 3-hour's drive from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, as well as the city centres of Suzhou and Nanjing.

A coastal city in east China, Dongtai is known for its new energy industries, including solar and wind power generation. The city is also known as the “Yellow Sea Pearl” and its pristine wetlands have been recognised by UNESCO.

The opening marks the debut of the Dusit Thani brand in China. The legendary hotel brand first launched in 1970 with the opening of the Dusit Thani Bangkok in the Thai capital's central business district. Since then, the Dusit Thani brand serves as a trusted symbol of Thai values, embodying the very essence of gracious Thai hospitality.

The Dusit Thani Dongtai, Jiangsu offers guests a variety of business and leisure facilities, including three dining outlets. The All Day Dining Restaurant serves a wide array of international fare, including Thai specialities from its signature open kitchen. The Chinese Restaurant offers exquisite Huaiyang and classic Cantonese cuisine which can be enjoyed in any one of its 15 private dining rooms. Overlooking the resort's beautiful serene landscape, the elegant Lobby Lounge offers guests an extensive selection of refreshments and cocktails.

With state-of-the-art audiovisual facilities and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, the banquet and meeting rooms at Dusit Thani Dongtai, Jiangsu caters to a variety of business and event needs. A 650-sqm pillarless ballroom can accommodate approximately 380 guests, while 920 square metres of lush, natural landscaping provides the perfect venue to host outdoor cocktails and social events.

“We are proud to launch the Dusit Thani brand in China to deliver the finest service rooted in gracious Thai hospitality,” said Mr. Peter Gan, General Manager of Operations and Hotel Openings – China, Dusit Fudu Hotels and Resorts. “The hotel is set to meet the increasing demand of high-end accommodation for business and leisure travellers to this historical and vibrant city, and we aim to exceed our guests' every expectation.”

To celebrate the opening, the Dusit Thani Dongtai, Jiangsu has launched its limited-time “Grand Opening” package. Priced from RMB 498, the package is inclusive of a stay in a Deluxe Room, buffet breakfast for two, a seasonal fruit basket, welcome drinks and complimentary use of kid's club facilities, valid now through 31 March 2016. Visit http://www.dusit.com/dusitthani/dongtai/specialoffers/grand-opening-special-rmb-498/ for more information.