Sunday, 22 April 2018

The Scone Horse Festival Story

The Scone Horse Festival
The Scone Horse Festival is 10 days in May of everything you can (& can’t) imagine that involves horses – from thoroughbreds to farriers, tent pegging & everything in between. A stunning street parade, world class horse racing and fun (mostly free) events for people of all ages.

Nearly four decades ago, four community minded, horse passionate men combined their vision to turn a major country race meet into a festival for many to visit Scone, the horse capital of Australia and experience a love of horses and all that goes with it. 

Jim Rodgers, Mike Pritchard, Barry Chapman & Brian Russell created the Scone Horse Festival, by adding a horse parade and forming a volunteer committee to nurture and grow the festival.

Each year, the passion of horses and creating an experience for the masses, grew stronger, through the stability of the equine industry and our strong, energetic and caring community.

Thirty seven years on, we are able to offer something for anyone and everyone with or without a love of horses. A festival filled with fun, unique and ‘once in a year time’ country experiences which we want to share with you.

A parade of family fun at the front end of the festival with around 80 colorful entrants, flows into the Scone Grammar School fete and markets. The original race meet is now followed the next day by a family orientated race day, and combined, form the highest paying standalone country racing carnival in Australia offering $2million in prize money.

Around 60 experiences over 10 days culminating with a spectacular fireworks display at the picturesque Lake Glenbawn.

Live shows from Farrier displays to Australian Tent pegging Championships, Equestrian Vaulting, Polo, Thoroughbred Horse demonstrations, Rodeo, Stud tours to sheep dog trials and Australian Stock Horse demonstrations.

Loads of exhibitions and mostly free events!

Getting Here
Scone, Horse Capital of Australia is located on the New England Highway and can be accessed by car, train, bus and private plane.
  • By car - A 3.5 hour drive from Sydney, 2 hours from Newcastle and 1.5 hours from Tamworth.
  • By train (more information) - Scone is on the Hunter Line and both SydneyTrains and Trainlink operate services to Scone Railway Station. When travelling to Sydney with SydneyTrains, you will usually have to change trains at Hamilton.
  • By plane - Scone airport is accessible by private charter only. Airspeed Aviation and Pay’s Air Service both operate out of Scone.

There is a wide selection of accommodation options available in Scone and the surrounding towns. Book early to avoid disappointment. Click here to view accommodation listings.

Toi Art – New Zealand’s new national art gallery opens

Toi Art Te Papa - Turangawaewae Art 
and New Zealand installation 
Credit: Michael O'Neill
Toi Art, New Zealand’s spectacular new art gallery, was officially opened by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in Wellington, on Friday, 16 March. 

The new NZ$8.4 million gallery spans two levels of Te Papa – New Zealand’s national museum which sits on the Wellington waterfront – and is part of a major renewal of all the museum’s exhibition spaces.

Ms Ardern says the new art gallery at Te Papa is a landmark for art in New Zealand.

“Toi Art is all about the fact that art is for everyone, and I believe every New Zealander will find something here that speaks to them, something to amaze and challenge them.

“Art it is a vital part of our lives. It is fantastic that as a free, family-friendly experience, the new gallery will make it more accessible to more people,” says Ms Ardern.

The gallery is free to enter, and opens to the public at 10am on Saturday, 17 March. As well as art exhibitions it offers hands-on art activities for children, and interactive experiences like a virtual reality visit to an artist’s studio.

As a new home for New Zealand art, Toi Art will showcase iconic works from the national art collection, alongside new art created especially for this space.

A significant new project by leading contemporary artist Michael Parekowhai takes on the first space of the new art gallery.

Toi Art also opens with two major retrospective shows, ‘Pacific Sisters: Fashion Activists’ and ‘Lisa Walker: I want to go to my bedroom but I can’t be bothered’, and two exhibitions showcasing the national art collection, alongside nine new artworks and installations.

Beloved works from the national collection will also be on show, including paintings by C.F. Goldie, Gottfried Lindauer, Rita Angus, Ralph Hotere, Colin McCahon, Gordon Walters, and Robyn Kahukiwa.

Charlotte Davy, Te Papa Head of Art, says the new gallery offers incredible new opportunities.

“Toi Art is a game changer for art in New Zealand. The vast new entrance gallery is larger than any space at Te Papa, and will enable us to showcase works that have never been seen before. There’ll be performance, dance, fashion, film, music, large-scale and new immersive works on show, which is now made possible by the size of the new gallery spaces,” says Ms Davy.

The new ‘ gallery has 35% more floor space for art in the national museum, with flexible gallery spaces to show large-scale and immersive new works.

Exhibitions opening in Toi Art include:

  • Megan Tamati-Quennell curates Détour - a seminal new installation that challenges art conventions.
  • Pacific Sisters: Fashion Activists – a celebration of mana wāhine, indigenous identities, and the role this collective has played over the past 26 years in giving voice and visibility to Māori and Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand. (17 March – 8 July 2018) 
  • Lisa Walker: I want to go to my bedroom but I can’t be bothered – the 30-year evolution of world-renowned New Zealand jeweller Lisa Walker. (17 March – 22 July 2018) 
  • Kaleidoscope: Abstract Aotearoa – an exploration of colour, shape and pattern in New Zealand and the Pacific, featuring a new immersive art work by Tiffany Singh. 
  • Tūrangawaewae: Art and New Zealand – through Te Papa’s extensive collection of New Zealand painting, sculpture, and photography, explore questions of art, identity, and cross-cultural exchange. 

The new art gallery is the first of a series of changes to the museum, as Te Papa transforms its 20 year old permanent exhibits over the coming years. Te Papa will remain open throughout the changes.

Toi Art by numbers:

  • 3,980m2 floor area on 2 levels
  • NZ$8.4 million investment
  • 5 new exhibitions
  • 40,000 artworks including 10 new artworks created for the opening 
  • 40 new acquisitions to the national art collection
  • 150,000 photographs
  • 1.5 million visitors annually to Te Papa
  • 16,000 hours works by builders on the new gallery
  • 38,000 nails used to build Toi Art
  • 142,290 screws, 30 tonnes steel, 20 km timber 


With only weeks to go to the Hunter’s best street party, preparations are well underway and things are heating up for what is set to be the biggest Upper Hunter Wine and Food Affair yet, with this year’s event being held on Saturday 5th May.

9 live bands and solo acts will perform on three stages throughout the day, a monster Woodchop competition and loads of kids entertainment will keep the entire family busy. Old of your favourites will once again be sprawled out along Ogilvie Street including the best wineries in the Upper Hunter exhibiting their premium wines along with a new range, and the biggest group of gourmet food exhibitors we have ever had.

There is something there to please even the fussiest of foodies. Buses will be running from Maitland, Singleton, Scone, Muswellbrook and Merriwa on the day. Don’t miss booking your seat.

Join us on Saturday 5th May in Ogilvie Street as Denman comes alive for the 14th annual Upper Hunter Wine and Food Affair. More exhibitors, entertainers and amusements than every before.Entry is $15 for Adults. $5 for Kids which includes an all day UNLIMITED ride pass for the kids and an official Wine Glass with tasting tokens.

Do you live in Maitland, Branxton or Singleton and would like to attend this year’s Upper Hunter Wine & Affair? Well then you are in luck, as the Singleton Volunteer Support Group of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service will be running a coach to this year’s Wine & Food Affair event. So save yourself the hassle out of working how you are going to get to the event and support this great local community service

$30 per person (covers transport only), tasting glass and 5 vouchers are available for purchase at the gate for $15 per person. Bookings Essential.

Locations included Maitland, Greta, Branxton, Singleton & Singleton Heights. Times confirmed closer to event.

08.30am – Maitland (Maitland Train Station)
08.40am – Rutherford (Bradford Hotel, Cnr New England Highway & Denton Park Drive)
09.05am – Branxton (Royal Federal Carpark, New England Highway)
09.30am – Singleton (Imperial Hotel, Cnr Elizabeth & John Street)
09.45am – Singleton Heights (Heights Shopping Centre, Blaxland Avenue)
11.00am – Arrive Denman Wine & Food Affair
Bookings Essential – Limited Seats

Further details contact Danny 0439 072 077 or visit

Woodchoppers to Denman

A woodchopping display will be held at this year's Upper Hunter Wine and Food Affair.

Woodchopping competitions originated from the pioneers of the Australian bush. They learnt to read the timber, learnt to sharpen their tools, their axes and their crosscut saws, because that's the only tools they had in those days. They were gifted men. They knew the trade. They knew the timber. Woodchopping competitions in Australia date back to 1870.

Bac Giang: Bo Da pagoda’s woodblocks recognised as national treasure

Bo Da Pagoda
Carved woodblocks bearing the Sutras of Zen Buddhism at Bo Da Pagoda in Viet Yen District, the northern province of Bac Giang were named national treasures at a ceremony held in the locality on March 31.

The pagoda, which is a centre of Lam Te Buddhism and had a major role in Buddhism’s development in Viet Nam, is home to 1,953 Sutra woodblocks.

In the 18th century, monks at the pagoda carved Buddhist Sutras on thi wood (decandrous perssimmom) that is both light and pliable, making it ideal for carving, preserve the texts so that they could be used to teach Buddhism.

According to Venerable Tu Tuc Vinh, head of Bo Da Pagoda, the woodblocks cover 24 sets of Buddhist scriptures in Nom (ancient Vietnamese ideographic script) and Sanskrit.

The same day, Bo Da Pagoda festival, a national intangible cultural heritage, began in the locality and will last until April 3.

The pagoda, also known as Quan Am (Goddess of Mercy), lies at the foot of a pine-covered hill, surrounded by earthen walls with mountains and rivers in the distance.

The pagoda was built in the 11th century under the Ly dynasty, the golden age of Buddhism in Viet Nam, but was badly damaged during wars in subsequent centuries. It was not until the revival of the Le dynasty under King Le Du Tong that the pagoda was reconstructed.

Bo Da is unique for its architecture, while it appears to be a closed complex from the outside, the pagoda’s inside has hundreds of compartments that open into one another. The pagoda provides visitors with a sacred, secluded refuge from the world.

Viet Yen District will work with relevant authorities to preserve and promote the values of Bo Da Pagoda, particularly the Buddhist woodblocks. Vice Chairman of the district People’s Committee Nguyen Dai Luong said the district is planning to build a special zone to exhibit and protect the woodblocks and digitalise them using 3D scanning technologies.
Source: VNA

Healdsburg Art-Food-Wine debuts in June

Healdsburg Art-Food-Wine
Spend three days immersed in the visual arts, culinary arts, and vintner arts at the inaugural Healdsburg Art-Food-Wine (AFW) weekend Thursday, June 14, through Saturday, June 16, in the historic Wine Country town of Healdsburg, in northern Sonoma County.

All activities are focused on Healdsburg’s amazing local arts, food, and wine scenes. Everything kicks off Thursday evening with a party at the Stafford Gallery and garden, in the historic Bank of Italy, with sparkling wines by Breathless, wines by TBerkleyWines, charcuterie by Valette, and desserts by Moustache Baked Goods.

Friday’s schedule includes a luncheon at the acclaimed farm-to-table Barndiva restaurant, an exclusive tour of the art at the Oliver Ranch, an evening reception at the Dallas Saunders Gallery, and intimate winemaker dinners with Healdsburg vintners at exclusive estates.

During the day on Saturday, participants will be able to choose from a variety of interesting activities combined with a private luncheon. Saturday night features an artists studio tour and a reception in downtown Healdsburg, at one of Northern California’s most renowned art galleries.

Healdsburg Art-Food-Wine
Event date: June 14, 15, and 16
Healdsburg, CA 95448

Cairns welcomes first flight from Shenzhen

Hainan Airlines
A new flight path from Shenzhen to Cairns will inject $64 million into the Tropical North Queensland economy over the next two years, in what leaders say is a game changer for the industry.

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones welcomed the first Hainan Airlines flights direct from Shenzhen early this morning.

“This new route will see Hainan Airlines fly twice a week to Cairns, providing a major boost for the local tourism industry and local economy,” she said.

“Chinese tourists are Queensland’s most valuable and fastest growing international market and we expect up to 30,000 Chinese visitors to arrive in Cairns using this direct flight over the next two years.

“This new route means we are continuing towards our goal of making Queensland the Australian destination of choice for Chinese visitors.

“With a travel time of just under eight hours this new flight path will provide the quickest route for Chinese travellers to Australia and provides tourists direct access to two World Heritage-listed natural wonders - the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest.

“It’s only through the Palaszczuk Government’s Attracting Aviation Investment Fund and the work of Tourism and Events Queensland and Cairns Airport that we’ve been able to secure this new route.”

Ms Jones said the Palaszczuk Government had already secured new international flights bringing an additional 740,000 seats and injecting $570 million into our economy every year.

“We’ll continue to invest in Queensland’s $25 billion tourism industry with $48 million to set up the Attracting Tourism Fund to bring more direct flights and cruise ships to Queensland,” she said.

Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Norris Carter said the airport was delighted to roll out the red carpet to welcome Hainan Airlines to Cairns.

“With more than 80 per cent of our Chinese visitors currently using a domestic flight to get to and from Cairns, this new service will enable them to spend less time travelling and more time enjoying everything Tropical North Queensland has to offer,” Mr Carter said.

“The city of Shenzhen has around 11 million residents and is situated near Hong Kong in the heavily populated Pearl River Delta region.

“These flights offer access to Cairns and Great Barrier Reef to a huge number of potential Chinese visitors. The Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport serves as Hainan Airlines’ Asia Pacific hub for passengers and cargo.”

“Hainan Airlines’ codeshare partnership with Virgin Australia offers Chinese visitors a convenient option to also include other parts of Queensland and Australia in their travel itinerary.”

5 no-signboard restaurants in Japan you need to visit

Tsukemen Gonokami Seisakujo (Tokyo)
In your next visit to Japan, take the gastronomic road less travelled and dine like a bona fide Japanese. With some of its best-kept food secrets obscured by the most unassuming, nondescript shopfronts, Japan offers plenty of delectable delights to discover in its numerous nooks and crannies. Getting to these hidden gems might be just a little frustrating – they include back-lane eateries and restaurants with barely-discernible Japanese signboards – but the most dogged and adventurous diners will receive the best reward of all: an authentic, top-notch Japanese dining experience to remember.

1. Tsukemen Gonokami Seisakujo (Tokyo)

Tucked away in a quiet back lane across from Takashimaya in Shinjuku, it’s all too easy to miss this tiny 15-seater restaurant, where all guests are served at a single counter. The only clue that you’re on the right track is a daily queue of locals glued to their smartphones near a small wooden signboard with the image of a shrimp on it.

Miss it, and you’ll miss out: behind its bland exterior, this tiny noodle shop serves up bowlfuls of vibrant flavours. The eatery is best known for its signature tsukemen, a kind of thick Japanese noodles which became popular in the 60s. The tsukemen here is the perfect blend of springiness and chewiness, and is served with a velvety, bisque-like shrimp broth which comes in three variations – basic shrimp, shrimp miso or shrimp tomato. The shrimp tomato option is served with a perfectly complementary dab of fresh pesto and a slice of toast, which is perfect for a tasty mop-up. With typical Japanese efficiency, orders are taken via an automated kiosk in Japanese – so it’s worth knowing what you want ahead of your visit.

Address: 〒151-0051 Tokyo, Shibuya, Sendagaya, 5 Chome−33−16, シャトレー新宿御苑第一, Japan

2. Mizunara CASK (Tokyo)

Cloistered in an upper level of a nondescript building in Roppongi, this whisky bar is practically invisible to those who aren’t in the know. Among discerning local diners, though, Mizunara CASK is a favourite not just for those looking for a late-night tipple. Regulars understand that a trip here is never complete without sampling some of the bar’s gastronomic offerings, such as its signature beef curry rice served with flavourful onions that have been caramelised for eight days for extra sweetness. The rice is served with these caramelised onions on the right, and beef curry perfectly seasoned with Japanese black pepper on the left. Diners are instructed to begin with the right, then the left, before finally blending both for a spectacular finale to the meal. Other visitor favourites include the bar’s “secret” herbal soup – a blend of 13 medicinal herbs which packs a huge flavour punch. Ask for the bar’s suggested whisky pairings for a satisfying meal, served on a handcrafted bar counter carved from the trunk of a 500-year-old tree.

Address: 〒106-0032 6F, 6 Chome-1-8 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-0032, Japan

3. Okonomiyaki Chitose (Osaka) 

Okonomiyaki Chitose (Osaka)
Okonomiyaki is often referred to as the soul food of Japan, and Okonomiyaki Chitose in Osaka is often regarded as the purveyor of soul. This tiny, unpretentious eatery serves these sizzling circles chock-full of goodies such as pork belly, octopus, shrimp and even cheese, right off a hot griddle. Located in a back alley in a residential district, Okonomiyaki Chitose can be quite a challenge to hunt down – the key, regulars say, is to bring a keen nose to sniff out the unmistakable aroma of Okonomiyaki around the corner from a row of bars and karaoke joints.

A favourite among diners is the eatery’s signature Takasuga Yaki, a fry-up of mochi, fried noodles, pork and shrimp. Expect bold flavours juxtaposed against the curious texture of melted mochi – slightly sticky within, but crisp on the outside. Be prepared for a wait, however: lunchtime crowds can be significant, and indoor seating is limited to just two tables and a counter.

Address: 1 Chome-11-10 Taishi, Nishinari Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 557-0002, Japan

4. Gion Kinana Honten (Kyoto)

It’s worth getting acquainted with some basic Japanese hiragana characters ahead of visiting Kinana, or you just might miss this ice creamery’s near-indiscernible entrance. Tucked away in a quiet back alley in Kyoto’s Gion district, visitors in search of the perfect sweet treat are in for quite the hunt – but the silver lining is working up an appetite for what lies behind Kinana’s plain-vanilla shopfront.

Kinana serves up all-natural ice cream made from kinako, or soy bean powder. The result is refreshingly light, delicate ice cream which is low in calories. Visitors can choose from six flavours: plain, black sesame, red bean, matcha, brown sugar and yomogi. Be sure to try the dekitate, or freshly-made, never-frozen ice cream special which changes daily. All orders are served with a thoughtful pot of strong tea – the perfect foil to Kinana’s frozen delights.

Address: 570-119 Gion-machi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan

5. Endo Sushi (Osaka) 

Endo Sushi (Osaka)
No trip to Japan is complete without an excellent sushi meal, and Endo Sushi in Osaka delivers just that at wallet-friendly prices. This tiny eatery in Osaka’s Central Fish Market is over 100 years old, and serves up an array of expertly prepared sushi by the restaurant’s fourth generation of owners. The quest for great sushi begins with a long, winding walk from the JR Noda station – a journey best undertaken with GPS in hand. The final leg of the route is through a dark, covered walkway which leads right to the welcome sight of Endo Sushi’s turquoise roof.

Here, diners may choose from a fixed sushi set or dine omakase-style, where the chef decides what to serve based on the day’s catch. Most diners opt for the omakase option, which includes five pieces of amazingly fresh sushi, one of which will be toro (bluefin tuna). Diners who don’t eat raw fish need not fret – Endo Sushi serves up excellent anago, or saltwater eel sushi which is a must-try.

Address: 1-1-86 Noda Fukushima-ku Osaka City, Japan

*by Yuko Ogane

Exhibition of Vietnamese archaeological treasures to run in Ha Noi

The Viet Nam National Museum of History will begin displaying archaeological treasures of the country on April 12.

Lasting until July, the exhibition consists of 300 items collected across museums from north to south.

The items date back between the prehistoric era and the 17th - 18th centuries.

They have been classified into different themes, such as metalware from the Dong Son, Sa Huynh and Dong Nai cultures, Champa & the UNESCO world heritage My Son Sanctuary, and Dai Viet culture - civilisation.

The archaeological collection was displayed at three German museums from October 2016 to February 2018 as part of a programme promoting Vietnamese culture and history in the European country.

The exhibition attracted a great deal of attention from the local residents.
Source: VNA


Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand has unveiled the trans-Tasman schedule it will operate once its alliance with Virgin Australia ends this October.

Christchurch to Sydney will run twice daily Monday to Friday, with Auckland set to see an additional 125,000 Air New Zealand seats annually to Australia, including a new lunchtime service to Sydney.

All customers booked on Air New Zealand tickets for travel on Virgin Australia after 27 October 2018 will be moved to Air New Zealand operated services shortly.

Saturday, 21 April 2018


Vivid Sydney
Vivid Sydney and the Caravan Camping Holiday Supershow will be featured in two stories on Channel Seven’s popular travel show Sydney Weekender this Sunday.

The episode is one of six Destination NSW specials on Sydney Weekender
airing during 2018 and was secured by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

Tune into Channel Seven at 5.30pm, 22 April and across NSW & the ACT on the PRIME Network to watch the episode.

UAE and KSA continue to lead GCC luxury hospitality market

Arabian Travel Market 

  • The UAE has 73% of the region’s luxury properties, 61% of its luxury pipeline
  • Saudi Arabia to witness the sharpest rise in luxury hotel supply to 2022
  • Global luxury tourism and travel market, set to reach US$1.154 billion by 2022

The UAE will continue to lead the GCC’s luxury hospitality segment to 2022, with 73% of existing luxury hotel stock and 61% of the region’s current luxury pipeline located in the country, according to data released ahead of Arabian Travel Market 2018, taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 22-25.

The research demonstrates that luxury properties have increased three-fold in the GCC in just 10 years, with 95% of these properties operated by international management brands.

Despite taking the lead position, the UAE will face strong competition from Saudi Arabia, which is expected to witness the most significant increase in luxury hotel supply to 2022, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18% from 2018 onwards. Across the rest of the GCC, this figure stands at 10% in the UAE, 11% in Oman and Kuwait, and 9% in Bahrain.

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said: “The opening of such iconic properties as Burj Al Arab in 1999 and Raffles Makkah Palace in 2010, changed the face of luxury tourism in the GCC, as well as the skylines of its major cities. The region may be working to attract a wider visitor mix, but its commitment to luxury hospitality and tourism will not take a back seat anytime soon.”

Historically, Saudi Arabia dominates CAGR trends, with luxury property development from 2013 – 2017 accounting for 11% of the Kingdom’s growth in supply, compared to 8% in the UAE, 7% in Kuwait, 6% in Oman and 5% in Bahrain.

In 2017, the UAE topped the table, with 35% of the year’s pipeline made up of luxury projects; most concentrated in Dubai. This compares to 14% of projects in Saudi Arabia, 20% in Kuwait, 19% in Bahrain and 11% in Oman.

Today, highlights of the GCC’s luxury hotel stock of 69,396 rooms include St. Regis; Palazzo Versace; Bulgari; Armani and Raffles. With such prominence, it is hardly surprising that luxury is a key sector represented at ATM 2018, with luxury hospitality for junior travellers being explored during the ATM Global Stage session – hosted by DOTWN.

Also exploring the trends at Arabian Travel Market this year, ILTM Arabia will run alongside the main exhibition on the first two days of ATM (22 – 23 April). More than 20 new ILTM exhibitors are confirmed to participate, including regional names such as Fairmont Quasar Istanbul and Rosewood Hotel Group UAE. While, international exhibitors include Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts, Conrad Hotels and Resorts, Nobu Hospitality, The Golden Butler and Cannes Tourism Board.

Luxury spending in the region’s two largest source markets, China and India, is also on the rise, driven by the tandem increase in High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs). And the GCC is home to 410,000 HNWIs, with 54,000 in Saudi Arabia and 48,000 in the UAE, so there will be no lack of visitors interested in these luxury brands at ATM this year.

According to the research, compiled by Allied Market Research and published by Colliers International, there are six opportunities for further development in the GCC’s luxury segment. These include the introduction of more boutique hotels of 80 keys or fewer, offering privacy and exclusivity; luxury resorts to cater to the high demand for wedding and honeymoon destinations; iconic properties in prime locations; and nature and heritage concepts such as eco-lodges and glamping. High quality wellness and spa properties and luxury cruises also feature on the list.

Press continued: “The GCC’s reputation for world-class hospitality, original concepts and leading F&B have secured its place as one of the world’s most important luxury tourism markets attracting guests from around the globe. The trends we are witnessing are supported by a number of global developments in luxury spending.”

The global luxury market – including travel – is set to increase at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.5% to 2022, reaching values of $1.154 billion.

ATM – considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed over 39,000 people to its 2017 event, including 2,661 exhibiting companies, signing business deals worth more than $2.5 billion over the four days.

Celebrating its 25th year, ATM 2018 will build on the success of this year’s edition, with a host of seminar sessions looking back over the last 25 years and how the hospitality industry in the MENA region is expected to shape up over the next 25.

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 

is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2017 attracted almost 40,000 industry professionals, agreeing deals worth US$2.5bn over the four days. The 24th edition of ATM showcased over 2,500 exhibiting companies across 12 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, making it the largest ATM in its 24-year history. Next event 22-25 April 2018 – Dubai.

P&O Cruises Extends GoCatch Partnership Nationwide

P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises has extended its partnership with ride-sharing phenomenon GoCatch nationwide following a successful pilot scheme in Brisbane earlier this year.

Guests departing on cruises of up to six-nights from any of P&O’s Australian homeports will receive a $50 GoCatch credit per room to go from home to port. For cruises of seven nights or longer the credit increases to $100 GoCatch credit per room.

The new point-to-point service is a key feature of P&O’s new 3 x Free Sale which also includes up to $300 onboard spending money and a daily scoop of New Zealand Natural Ice Cream available on all bookings made before June 5, 2018.

P&O Cruises Vice President of Sales and Marketing Ryan Taibel said the GoCatch partnership had proved to be a success in Queensland and was being rolled out across the country to make a P&O cruise holiday even more convenient for guests.

“Like P&O Cruises, GoCatch is committed to providing our guests with top-notch travel experiences. Following the positive feedback from the Brisbane launch, we knew there would be an appetite for the service amongst guests in other cities who are looking to make their trip from home-to-terminal as smooth as possible,” Mr Taibel said.

With 58,000 drivers nationwide, GoCatch offers passengers transport options that range from economy private vehicles, taxis and maxis through to premium, luxury rides.

GoCatch CEO Andrew Campbell said the popular transport service was dedicated to transporting Australians in the most efficient and seamless way possible.

“GoCatch gives you access to Australia’s largest combined fleet of taxis and private vehicles while bringing new value to our customers through partnerships like P&O Cruises,” Mr Campbell said.

“P&O Cruises’ guests will continue to enjoy the added benefit of being able to book ahead with ‘GoCatch Advance Bookings’ for the peace of mind of a scheduled pickup with a no surge pricing guarantee.”

For more information visit, call 13 24 94 or see a licensed travel agent.

Two birds in the hand for Volvo’s eco warrior sailing crew on an Auckland day out

Views of the Hauraki Gulf from Motuora Island kiwi sanctuary 
Credit: Beau Outteridge / Turn the Tide on Plastics
An only in New Zealand experience has left one international sailing crew much wiser about a unique conservation challenge – saving the emblematic flightless kiwi.

After a day out in the Hauraki Gulf during their Auckland stop-over, the Volvo Ocean Race sailing team ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ will leave a living legacy in New Zealand – a young kiwi chick that they named Mōhio (meaning wisdom in Māori) before releasing it into the wild.

The United Nations team is carrying the sustainability message on their year-long round-the-world voyage. Alongside the competition to win the race, this team is on a mission to promote ocean health by highlighting the global issue of single use plastic.

Members of the team including New Zealander Bianca Cook, Lucas Chapman and Bernardo Freitas took part in the release of two, three-week old baby kiwi chicks on Motuora Island – a kiwi sanctuary crèche in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. The island, home to a resident population of around 100 – 150 kiwi, is a pest-free haven for young kiwi chicks raised under the Operation Nest Egg (ONE) programme.

Sailor Bianca Cook, who is sailing the gruelling round the world race, had the honour of naming a chick that weighed in at a healthy 447 grams on release day.

“It was an amazing experience, something that was very special to me and my team,” says Cook. "As most New Zealanders know we don’t often get the chance to even see a kiwi in the wild so having the opportunity to actually release one was incredible and very humbling.

“We named the kiwi Mōhio, the Māori word for wisdom, which is very close to us because the mascot for the Volvo Ocean Race is an albatross called Wisdom.”

The Hauraki Gulf, on the shores of Auckland, is New Zealand’s largest marine park and the location of a series of highly successful on and offshore sustainability and conservation projects designed to protect and enhance the rich marine life.

Steve Armitage, GM Destination at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) said the visit was an opportunity to show the Turn the Tide on Plastics crew some of the great sustainability work going on as well as some of the natural wonders of the region.

“We have a shared responsibility to protect and preserve Auckland as a destination, as a community, and as an economy for future generations. It helps to spread the word to our visitors and locals about how important preserving our natural environment is,” he said.

The kiwis were released as part of Operation Nest Egg, a programme managed by the charitable organisation Kiwis for Kiwi, in partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC).

The programme involves collecting eggs from the wild, incubating and hatching them at facilities like Auckland Zoo, then transferring them to safe crèches such as Motuora Island, where they stay for a year or so until they are around 1 kg in weight and able to fend off most predators.

They are then transferred back to where they were found as eggs, or are used to start new kiwi populations on other pest-free islands in the Gulf.

Motuora Island is managed by DOC in partnership with Motuora Restoration Society. There are no rats, stoats, possums or other introduced predators on the island, making it safe for kiwi and other threatened native birds.

It is one of 44 pest-free islands in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. DOC and Auckland Council are working to keep these native wildlife sanctuaries free of introduced predators and weeds.

The team were invited to venture into Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf to the island sanctuary of Motuora by Tourism New Zealand, ATEED and the Department of Conservation, Sea Cleaners, Auckland Zoo and Kiwis for Kiwi.

Background: The Hauraki Gulf and Conservation

  • Department of Conservation (DOC) manages one third (8.6M hectares) of New Zealand’s entire land area
  • Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is New Zealand’s largest marine park (1.2M hectares)
  • Hauraki Gulf is the seabird capital of the world with 27 species
  • Hauraki Gulf is home to 22 (25%) of the world’s species of whales and dolphins
  • Hauraki Gulf has 44 pest-free islands providing safe havens for precious and endangered species such as the kiwi


Pho Fan Girl
Destination Organization Exposes Anaheim’s Surprisingly Uncommon Places and Experiences Through a Wide Range of Character Portrayals

Visit Anaheim today introduced a new brand campaign, Uncommon Character, to illustrate the destination’s new infectious energy and innovative characters bringing change to the city’s dynamics. The campaign peels back the curtain and reveals unexpected hot spots, trendy culinary and craft beer experiences and revamped neighborhood spaces, inviting visitors to experience a new side of Anaheim.

Created by San Diego-based advertising agency, Greenhaus, the Uncommon Character campaign draws inspiration from Anaheim’s rich story-telling heritage and larger than life cast of characters rooted in the city’s DNA. To paint the picture of what is uncommon to Anaheim, Greenhaus worked with local tastemakers to craft a cast of uncommon characters for leisure consumers and the meeting/convention audience. This includes Captain Brew Beard, Pho Fan Girl, the Libation Sensation and the Crushers of Convention, to name a few. The first phase of the campaign on the leisure side focuses on key regional markets to drive visitation to Anaheim, including San Francisco, Phoenix and Seattle. The campaign will be supported by digital ads across a number of ad networks. For the meetings and convention audience, digital and print activations will go live this month across a variety of national trade outlets.

“Already one of the most well-known destinations, Uncommon Character allows us to show you a side of Anaheim that isn’t as well known,” says Charles Harris, senior vice president of marketing, Visit Anaheim. “The campaign helps us extend the conversation beyond what the area’s already known for and invites our 24 million annual visitors (and growing) to experience a new, unique tapestry of food, fun and adventure found throughout the destination.”

The first phase, launched today, targets both leisure and meeting/conventions guests coming to Anaheim to experience one of our main attractions or attend a conference or event at the Anaheim Convention Center, the largest convention center on the West Coast. Here are the first seven uncommon characters appearing in the campaign:

Leisure Vacation Characters:
  • Captain Brew Beard: Take a tour through Anaheim’s emerging craft beer scene with Captain Brew Beard. The cinemograph includes Greg Nagel, Anaheim local and beer expert depicted at BARBEER, Center Street Promenade’s barbershop and beer bar.
  • Libation Sensation: Discover the city’s creative culinary explosion and unique neighborhood concepts. Robert Adamson, owner of the Blind Rabbit speakeasy is highlighting one of his fiery cocktails in the cinemograph.
  • Pho Fan Girl: Explore the region’s most authentic food destination and cultural gems found in Little Saigon.
  • Virtual Ace: Transform into a junior jet pilot in the midst of an aerial dogfight at Flightdeck Flight Simulation Center.

Meetings/Conventions Characters:
  • Meeting Mosher: Showcasing Anaheim’s nightlife and the memorable experiences meeting attendees can delight in after their program ends for the day.
  • Crushers of Convention (male and female characters): Portraying the versatility of the Anaheim Convention Center campus and how meeting planners can create exceptional and unconventional programs for groups.

As Anaheim continues to grow, develop and add character to its city infrastructure with new luxury hotels, innovative businesses and theme park developments, visitors will meet new characters over the next three-to-five years that represent new destination experiences.

"Having worked with many destination marketing organizations across the state of California over the years I can say without hesitation that the team at Visit Anaheim is as forward thinking, creative and bold as any we've had the pleasure to work with,” says Rob Petrie, creative director, Greenhaus. “When they came to us they knew they were ready to stand on their own two feet and that made all the difference in carving an ownable and unique brand with them. It's been a highly collaborative relationship in the development of this new campaign. We are grateful to be a part of it."

For more information on the Uncommon Character campaign, please visit

Hoi An gets 3rd night market

Hoi An
A new night market has been set up in the ancient town of Hoi An to cater to the shopping needs of visitors.

Nguyen Van Son, Deputy Chairman of the city People’s Committee, said the market on Tran Quy Cap, Bach Dang, Tieu La and Hoang Van Thu streets has 56 shops selling handicrafts.

Open from 6pm to 11pm daily, it is the city’s third night market after others selling souvenirs on Nguyen Hoang Street facing the iconic Cau Pagoda and food on Cong Nu Ngoc Hoa Street along the Hoai River.

The opening of night markets is also meant to prevent illegal encroachment of pavements by vendors to restore the city’s beautiful tourism image.

The renowned UK-based travel site Rough Guides recently put Hoi An City in the list of the top 10 intriguing travel destinations in Southeast Asia while last year the ancient town was named seventh out of the world’s 15 best cities by US travel site

The city expects to welcome around 3.78 million visitors this year.
Source: VNS

Vote for your favourite Whitsundays café!

Is the Whitsundays home to the Café of the Year? It could be if everyone in the Whitsundays gets voting!

The inaugural Countrywide Café of the Year competition has been launched and cafes all over Australia – and the Whitsundays – are in the running for a top prize of $25,000.

Submit your vote for the Countrywide Café of the Year by the deadline of May 31 for your chance to win FREE coffee for a year, with 10 winners receiving this amazing prize valued at $1,300.

It only takes a few seconds to vote, so why not make one of our wonderful Whitsundays cafes a winner! There are also five regional prizes of $5,000 each for the cafes.

There are 20 Whitsunday cafes in the running from all over the region - including Airlie Beach, Cannonvale, Proserpine, Bowen and Collinsville - and they are listed on the Countrywide website or simply look out for the competition posters and counter cards when you are next in your favourite eatery.

Tourism Whitsundays General Manager Tash Wheeler urged coffee-lovers to get behind the competition and ensure a Whitsundays café took out the crown of Countrywide Café of the Year.

“The Whitsundays’ quality of service and food is stronger than ever thanks to so many great establishments,” she said.

“Make your vote count and vote for one of Tourism Whitsundays’ fabulous members. Imagine what they could do with $25,000 and imagine what you could do with free coffee for a year!”

Tourism Whitsundays members in the running include the Airlie Beach Treehouse, Cruise Cafe & Bar, Denmans Beer Café, Fat Frog Beach Café, The Deck Airlie Beach, Le Sorelle Coffee House, La Marina and Wildlife Hamilton Island.

Greg Lange, owner of The Deck, said the goal for the restaurant was to keep growing, so winning the title would “definitely help”.

“We are always getting lovely comments about our coffee and food from our customers so we thought, why not enter!” he said.

Paul and Debra Burfitt, owners of the Airlie Beach Treehouse, said “win or lose” it was great to be recognised.

“It’s so good to see that our little Treehouse and our awesome team are in the running for such a prestigious national award,” Mr Burfitt said.

“It just goes to show, a small town and a small team can do great things. Win or lose, we are so proud of what we have created in the Treehouse over the past couple of years.”

Café owners can drive their own success in the competition and use social media to spread the word and canvas votes using the hashtag #cwcafeoftheyear.

Petaluma Drinks! weekend showcases artisan beverages

Petaluma Drinks! 
Taste the wares of craft beer, wine, spirits, and cider producers in and around the historic Sonoma County town of Petaluma during the inaugural Petaluma Drinks! weekend, June 2 and 3, 2018.

Petaluma is home to a close community of brewers, vineyard managers, winemakers, cider makers, and distillers who are eager to welcome you into their tasting rooms, ranches, and production facilities for this new weekend tasting experience, which is like no other.

Your ticket is your tasting pass; you can visit each producer once during the weekend to taste what they have to offer. Many will be giving ticket holders discounts on purchases, in case you want to take something home with you. Plus, the ticket includes a voucher for any food item at The Block, Petaluma’s centrally located food truck park.

Participating producers are listed at and transportation options during the event (to not drink and drive) are Early Bird tickets are $55, with regular tickets $65; 20 percent of the proceeds will be donated to two local nonprofits — the COTS homeless foundation and PAWS animal rescue.

Event Date
11 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, June 2 and Sunday, June 3, 2018

Petaluma Drinks!
Various locations, Petaluma, CA 94952

Queensland a world leader in fitness tourism

Queensland a world leader in fitness tourism
New research shows Queensland has emerged as a global leader in fitness and wellness tourism, with a report released by the government revealing what drives the world’s most active travelers to ‘bucket list’ endurance events across the state.

The Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland supports a line-up of 17 world-class endurance events stretching from the Gold Coast to Tropical North Queensland and covering everything from triathlon to multi-sport challenges, running, mountain biking and cycling events and ocean swims.

In the countdown to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Acting Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development Shannon Fentiman said the state was proud of its reputation as Australia’s endurance event capital.

“Last year, endurance events on the It’s Live! in Queensland calendar brought 60,000 visitors to the state and generated 430,000 visitor nights,” she said.

“These events were worth more than $100 million to Queensland’s economy in 2017.

“This research shows Queensland is a world leader in this field – there is a growing demand for unique endurance events that athletes can put on their bucket lists.

“Above all, the research tells us Queensland ticks all the boxes for this increasingly active, connected group of travellers, striving to ‘be their best’ and perhaps clocking up a personal best in paradise.

The research, commissioned by Tourism and Events Queensland, was undertaken by Strategic Facts, polling 3695 domestic and international participants in the state’s endurance events.

It was conducted as part of a long-term strategy to better understand what drives these participants to Queensland and ultimately enhancing their experience in the best address on Earth.

The survey also found that 69 per cent of international and interstate participants took a post-event holiday in Queensland with nearly 80 per cent of them rating the holiday extremely highly.

Ms Fentiman said Queensland also offered special kids’ events, family-friendly entertainment and enticer courses, enabling participants of all fitness levels to get involved.

“For anyone thinking about New Year’s resolutions around health and happiness, Queensland is just the place to achieve your personal best,” she said.

“The fact that the majority of the athletes surveyed stayed for a holiday in Queensland after their sporting event just shows what a lucrative market this is.

“We know events are important drivers of visitation to Queensland. Our tourism industry is now worth $25 billion and supports more than 225,000 jobs.

“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government has been relentless in its support of events for Queensland – this is having a direct economic impact on our great state.

“Our events portfolio continues to grow. Last year it was worth $600 million and this year it’s tipped to be worth around $780 million.”

Endurance events supported by the It’s Live! In Queensland events calendar can be accessed here:

For a summary of the report please visit:

Tonami Tulip Fair 2018

The Tulip Tower
Its the Spring season of the year. The long awaited Tonami Tulip Fair 2018 is here once again.

Do visit the Tulip fair when you are heading to Toyama prefecture. Its simply a tribute to our magical spring season.

Do note that the park will be closed between April 10 – 19 and May 6 – 8 in order to prepare for the Tonami Tulip Fair.

Getting there:
1. From Tokyo

Tokyo Station > Hokuriku Shinkansen (Approx.2hour 30min) > Shin Takaoka Station > JR Johana Line (Approx.20min) > Tonami Station > On Foot (Approx.15min) or Free Shuttle Bus (Approx.5min) > Tonami Tulip Park

2. From Osaka
Osaka Station > Thunderbird (Kanazawa via / Approx.3hour 20min) > Shin Takaoka Station or Takaoka station > JR Johana Line (Approx.20min) > Tonami Station > On Foot (Approx.15min) or Free Shuttle Bus (Approx.5min) > Tonami Tulip Park

3. From Nagoya
Nagoya Station > Shirasagi (Kanazawa via / Approx.3hour 20min) > Shin Takaoka Station or Takaoka station > JR Johana Line (Approx.20min) > Tonami Station > On Foot (Approx.15min) or Free Shuttle Bus (Approx.5min) > Tonami Tulip Park

The Tulip Tower is the symbol of the Tonami Tulip Park. The large flowerbeds form a picture when looked down on from above.

Christchurch to get "green spine" from city to sea

Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor concept drawing
Image: Regenerate Christchurch
Walkways and biking tracks, wetland developments and a variety of other public and private land uses are included in a shortlist of potential options for an area of land known as the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor.

The 11-kilometre stretch of land was described as Christchurch’s “residential red zone” for many years following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, owing to the houses that occupied urban sections there before the quakes.

It is nearly twice the size of Central Park in New York and four times the size of Hyde Park in London.

ChristchurchNZ is highly supportive of the decision to create a “living laboratory” in the corridor, with ecological, food, cultural and recreational experiences, sustainable agriculture and adaptable housing forming part of a unique urban environment.

“The way we use this land is an opportunity for Christchurch to be known internationally as a city that values sustainability and is prepared to explore new and different ways of living,” says Chief Executive Joanna Norris.Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor concept drawing - Image: Regenerate Christchurch

Regenerate Christchurch is responsible for developing the regeneration plan for the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor and says a mix of naturally-occurring and new activities has potential to attract up to a million unique visitors a year.

It says a “green spine” will extend along the river, up to 150 metres wide on each side, with large areas of ecological restoration, wetlands and community spaces.

Elsewhere, there will be three significant areas suitable for a variety of potential public and private land uses reflecting themes of food and culture, experiencing nature and activity and play.

“These will create opportunities for school children and researchers to learn about the natural environment to better understand the challenges and opportunities within a truly living laboratory,” says Regenerate Christchurch Chief Executive Ivan Iafeta.

Norris says the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor is “an incredible resource on our doorstep” and the concepts provided by Regenerate provide tangible opportunities for Christchurch people and visitors to reconnect with the land.

“The green spine will give our residents and tourists a chance to explore a really interesting and beautiful part of our city.”

Regenerate Christchurch says 83 percent of people surveyed about the land’s future in 2017, after it published 10 possible combinations of uses for the area, prioritised groundwater quality in the area and 72 percent prioritised water quality in its rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands.

It has now development a refined shortlist that will feature in an upcoming public exhibition.

Iafeta says implementation of the plan is likely to be the beginning of a 30-year intergenerational programme of work.

Ninh Binh Province to hold Hoa Lu Festival

Ninh Binh
The northern province of Ninh Binh is planning a wide range of activities to celebrate the Hoa Lu Festival, scheduled for April 24-27, and mark the 1050th anniversary of Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang’s naming of the country as Dai Co Viet.

The activities will include cultural exchanges between the former Vietnamese imperial capitals and other provinces as well as Asan, a city in the Republic of Korea, and Oudomxay province in Laos.

A workshop will also be held to discuss the role of the Dai Co Viet Empire in the history of Viet Nam.

On this occasion, Ninh Binh Province will stage a photo exhibition on the beauty of the local people and landscape, a popular song and dance programme and various temple festivals.

For the first time, Ninh Binh Province will hold a tourism week to promote the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

After Dinh Bo Linh defeated the 12 warlords, he ascended the throne in 968 and named the country Dai Co Viet, meaning Great Buddhist Viet, thereby establishing the first imperial dynasty in Viet Nam.

The capital of Dai Co Viet is located in Hoa Lu in modern-day Ninh Binh Province.
Source: NDO


The Regional Conferencing Development Grants Program
Following the success of the NSW Regional Conferencing Development Grants Pilot Program, the NSW Government has committed a further $300,000 to attract and create more business events across the State.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said there has been an overwhelming response from the industry since the launch of the Pilot Program in August 2017 and 12 successful business events have already received grants of up to $65,000.

“Since launching, we have provided more than $350,000 to business events in regions such as Mudgee, Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga, Tamworth and Armidale to assist with venue hire, event marketing and developing pre and post touring opportunities to encourage longer stays in NSW,” Mr Marshall said.

The Regional Conferencing Development Grants Program is managed and administered by the State’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, and provides funding on a matched dollar-for-dollar basis. Applicants are encouraged to apply for grants before 30 June 2018 through

Friday, 20 April 2018

Western Wilds, Tasmania’s next iconic drive

Cradle Coast Authority
The name of Tasmania’s next iconic drive has today been revealed, with the Western Wilds now set to forge its place as a must-do Tasmanian attraction.

The Western Wilds will be a unique drive experience that will encourage visitors to explore and experience the wilderness of Western Tasmania.

It will add to the success of the Great Eastern Drive, which has seen a 20 per cent increase in visitors to Tasmania’s East Coast since its development.

The Western Wilds Project is the result of our Government’s Tasmanian Journeys Project, which included a $500,000 commitment to the project.

The work has been led by the Tourism Industry Council in partnership with Destination Southern Tasmania and the Cradle Coast Authority.

This week, a travelling roadshow will kick off in New Norfolk, before heading to Queenstown, Strahan and Cradle Mountain, where industry will be invited to engage in the next steps.

Following the roadshow, the Western Journeys Working Party will begin to identify experiences along the Western Wilds called “story stops” where visitors can stop, experience and share their story.

Local businesses will also be encouraged to tell their stories under the Western Wilds banner.

Work will also now commence on the overarching plan for signage along the route, including design, building and installation.

It is anticipated that the Western Wilds will be ready to launch in the final quarter of 2018.

The Western Wilds is the second in a series of five Journeys that the Tasmanian Government will deliver.

We have committed an additional $1.4 million over three years to deliver three other new journeys, including a Northern Journey, a Southern Journey, and a North-West Journey, to build on the Cradle Coast Tasting Trail.

We want every region to share in the benefits that an iconic drive journey can bring, such as encouraging visitors to stay longer, see more of our state and spend more.

*by Jeremy Rockliff, Acting Minister for Tourism

Saudi hospitality sector to grow 13.5% per annum to 2022

Saudi hospitality
Reforms and investment to drive hotel, travel and tourism sectors in KSA over the next five years according to new report commissioned by Arabian Travel Market

According to a new report, issued ahead of Arabian Travel Market 2018, recent reforms in Saudi Arabia – not to mention widespread investment in the Kingdom’s burgeoning tourism industry – will drive growth in the hospitality market of 13.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), higher than the established markets of the UAE (10.1%) and Oman (11.8%).

Commenting on the findings of the report, Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which takes place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 22-25, said:

“Following recent reforms and the relaxation of visa regulations, Saudi Arabia is poised to capitalise on these factors as it nurtures a vibrant leisure and entertainment sector, supported by a new generation of hotels.”

Saudi Arabia is expected to see a vast expansion of its hotel and resort inventory, along with a steep increase in airport passengers, as Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman continues to drive economic and social reforms, including direct investment in tourism.

The study produced by ATM’s research partner Colliers, found that religious tourism in the kingdom is still driving demand, with 30,000 rooms opened during 2017, with a further 40,020 guestrooms in 89 projects currently under construction – compared to 35,050 rooms in the UAE.

Last year, Saudi Arabia set the stage for this to expand to leisure tourism, as it pursues targets of 30 million visitors annually by 2030. As a result, 2018 will see the first tourism visas granted to international travellers and, for the first time, women aged 25 and older will now be able to obtain a single entry, 30-day tourist visa without a male chaperone.

The kingdom has announced a series of leisure projects in recent months, including the creation of a Six Flags theme park in Riyadh by 2021 and a Red Sea resort built on 100 miles of sandy coastline and backed by investment from Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson. Featuring hotels, residences and a transport hub, the project will create 35,000 jobs, adding SAR15 billion to the economy.

Aligned with the vision, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) ploughed SAR10 billion into entertainment ventures in 2017 and, under the National Transformation Programme (NTP) the kingdom has invested SAR171.5 billion in tourism development.

In 2017, 1,671 visitors from Saudi Arabia attended the ATM event, a 14% year-on-year increase compared with the 1,471 who visited in 2016.

Saudi Arabian exhibitors at ATM 2018 will include the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Saudia, Makarem Hotels, Saja Al Madinah, Mansard Hotel, Aljomaih Auto Rentals, ITRIP,, Choice Hotels International and Al Tayyar Travel Group.

The report, forecasts that five-year air passenger numbers will increase 8% at King Khalid International Airport Riyadh and 6% at King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah. This is compared to 8% at both Muscat and Dubai International and 7% at Abu Dhabi International.

Press added: “These higher visitor arrivals will support jobs, investment opportunities and economic diversification, in line with the kingdom’s plans for its future. In terms of regional tourism, these are game changing developments, completely unprecedented, and something few expected.”

ATM 2018 has adopted Responsible Tourism as its main theme and this will be integrated across all show verticals and activities, including focused seminar session, featuring dedicated exhibitor participation.

ATM – considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed over 39,000 people to its 2017 event, including 2,661 exhibiting companies, signing business deals worth more than $2.5 billion over the four days.

Celebrating its 25th year, ATM 2018 will build on the success of this year’s edition, with a host of seminar sessions looking back over the last 25 years and how the hospitality industry in the MENA region is expected to shape up over the next 25.

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 
is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2017 attracted almost 40,000 industry professionals, agreeing deals worth US$2.5bn over the four days. The 24th edition of ATM showcased over 2,500 exhibiting companies across 12 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, making it the largest ATM in its 24-year history. Next event 22-25 April 2018 – Dubai.

South Australia Welcomes ATE

Adelaide Convention Centre
South Australia’s $6.6 billion visitor economy is set to receive yet another major boost, this week hosting the country’s largest annual travel conference.

The Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE), is South Australia’s opportunity to impress tourism big-wigs from across the globe — attracting more than 2,000 delegates that will directly inject $10 million into the state.

Hosted at the new $400 million Adelaide Convention Centre, ATE will herald new opportunities for tourism across the state, with 700 buyers joining a contingent of more than 550 sellers and over 91 media from 20 countries.

Minister for Tourism, David Ridgway said the week of ATE is a rare and exciting opportunity to impress delegates so that they continue to encourage travel to South Australia.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of our small businesses - we must get our state brand out there so our economy and locals can continue to thrive,” Minister Ridgway said.

“We want more visitors to experience South Australia and we are committed to our 2020 target of $8 billion in tourism expenditure.

“The benefit of hosting ATE in Adelaide extends well beyond the $10mn economic impact. The long-term benefit will be the advocates we will win for our state, through these influential delegates who will experience some of the best of South Australia.”

“I thank Tourism Australia, the South Australian Tourism Commission and all the South Australian businesses for their support in the delivery of a successful ATE18,” Minister Ridgway said.

South Australian Tourism Commission, Chief Executive, Rodney Harrex said ATE is an exciting opportunity to place South Australia on the world stage and serve up its best experiences.

“South Australia is hosting 612 famil places with media and trade delegates from more than 20 countries visiting South Australian icons, including Penfolds and the newly opened d’arenberg cube,” Mr Harrex said.

“Buyers and media include our fastest growing international market, China - providing our hard-working businesses an opportunity to cash in on the lucrative market.

“There is no better way to sell South Australia than experiencing it, so it’s great to be breaking records with 49 passionate businesses representing SA at the conference and many more through media famils.

“Our operators will be out there doing what they do best, showing influential delegates how incredible our wineries, accommodation, wildlife, experiences, and state truly are” Mr Harrex said.

The Australian Tourism Exchange will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from April 15 – 19 2018.

Te Papa celebrates 20 years of Our Place

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa 
is a must do for any visitor to Wellington. 
Credit: Te Papa Museum
This last Valentine’s Day, New Zealanders celebrated their 20-year love affair with the national museum, Te Papa.

Te Papa Tongarewa the Museum of New Zealand has held a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders since the day it opened on 14 February 1998.

In the ensuing two decades, Te Papa Tongarewa (“a container for treasures”) has truly lived up to its popular name, Our Place. From the thousands who queued to be among the first to visit (35,000 people saw Te Papa on its opening day) to the more than 2 million who visited in its first year (not bad for a country that was less than 4 million population at the time) and all the visitors since, it has proven a drawcard for both New Zealanders and international visitors.

By 14 February 2018, Te Papa had hosted almost 30 million visitors and 200 weddings, discovered more than 400 new species, hosted more than 3,000 pōwhiri (Māori welcoming ceremonies), and rocked visitors with more than 1.3 million shakes of its famous earthquake house.

Consistently rated as one of the world’s best museums, and a top attraction in New Zealand, Te Papa’s immersive, interactive approach to storytelling and its biculturalism remains a model for museums around the world.

Even before it opened, at the conclusion of a massive construction project lasting four years, the new building had a high profile and attracted close scrutiny, both at home and internationally. The radical concept for Te Papa was that it would be a bicultural partnership between tangata whenua (indigenous people) and tangata tiriti (non-indigenous people), and incorporate both the national museum and national art collection.

Considered the world’s largest museum building project of the 1990s, Te Papa remains the biggest-ever investment in New Zealand culture and heritage. The elaborate earthworks and construction saw a hotel mounted on wheels and moved off the waterfront site to accommodate the massive new structure.

A landmark both in its imposing physical presence on Wellington’s waterfront and in its historical and cultural significance for New Zealand, Te Papa is rich with symbolism and a forum for the nation. Its marae (meeting place) Rongomaraeoa faces the harbour and serves as a living exhibition space for traditional Māori culture and for contemporary art and design.

The museum has not remained static, continuing to evolve and change over its 20-year lifespan. Major changes lie ahead, beginning with a new art gallery, Toi Art. The NZ$8.4 million space is the biggest change to the museum since it opened and able to hold works never shown there before. The opening on March 17 will reveal major commissions by contemporary New Zealand artists. From Easter, work will begin on a new nature and environment section to open in 2019.

The most popular free exhibition at Te Papa is Gallipoli: The scale of our war, with 1,813,916 visitors from the time of its opening on 18 April 2015 to the end of January 2018. It cost $8 million to create, and was created by Te Papa working closely with Wellington’s acclaimed film special effects maestros Weta Workshop.

From time to time over the past two decades, controversy has raged about exhibits at Te Papa – including protests about the Tania Kovats “Virgin in a condom” artwork – but the public have continued to flock to the museum.

Geraint Martin, head of Te Papa, says its appeal is enduring because it offers a different kind of museum experience. “Museums aren’t cupboards full of old stuff, they’re a mirror held up to society,” he says. “Our aim is that every New Zealander can see themselves reflected at Te Papa, and international visitors can understand the richness and diversity of Aotearoa.”

Te Papa’s kaihautū (Māori co-leader) Dr Arapata Hakiwai has been with the museum since its earliest days. He says the strength of Te Papa has always been in its ties to the community, and its relationships with iwi, hapū and whanau (tribal groups and families). “We are a place where everyone can feel at home, and everyone can find a place to stand.

“The sense of fun, of joy, of connection and surprise that we see in our visitors, young and old, is the wairua, the energy that powers this place, Our Place,” Dr Hakiwai says.

Te Papa will mark its birthday with free tours and activities, short film screenings and a concert. The museum will be open on Valentine’s Day until 9pm.

Te Papa by the numbers

  • Projected total visitors since opening (up until 14.2.2018): 28,556,141
  • Busiest day: opening day, with 35,000 visitors
  • Number of visitors in its first year: 2,002,977
  • Exhibitions: 170 
  • Most popular ticketed exhibition: Lord of the Rings 1, 219,539 visitors
  • Artworks treated by conservators: 1,580
  • Shakes of the earthquake house: 1.3 million
  • Number of colossal squids: 3 (1 on display and 2 stored for research)
  • Largest object: sailing yacht NZL32 Black Magic, which won the 1995 America’s Cup race
  • New species discovered: more than 400
  • Scientific expeditions: 700
  • Children lost (and found): 3,500
  • Teddies abandoned: 550
  • Lightbulbs changed: 22,000
  • Coffees served: 3 million-plus


South Australia is plating up its best culinary and beverage experiences with the return of Tasting Australia.

The festival, considered one of Australia’s foremost eating and drinking events, will offer even more star power and unique meals, tours, tastings and masterclasses from April 13-22.

In 2017 more than 52,000 people visited Town Square. This year’s program has grown to 10 days, includes more guest chefs from interstate and overseas and features more than 140 events across 11 South Australian regions.

New this year is Tasting Australia Airlines, offering all-inclusive full-day luxury experiences for guests to explore Kangaroo Island, Coffin Bay and the Limestone Coast. Several of these flights sold out within 48 hours.

The festival’s creative team remains strong with chef Simon Bryant, and chef Jock Zonfrillo leading the program alongside industry legends Cheong Liew as patron, Duncan Welgemoed as food ambassador and Nick Stock as beverage ambassador.

Minister for Tourism, David Ridgway said more than a third of all Tasting Australia events are sold out, demonstrating the hunger for South Australia’s unique experiences and flavours.

“Small World Bakery in Langhorne Creek is proving to be a regional champion, with their 2-day hands-on sourdough making masterclass selling out to interstate visitors,” said Minister Ridgway.

“We know that food and wine experiences are motivators of travel to SA and Tasting Australia is the perfect platform to showcase this passionate industry, incomparable regions and world-class produce.

“Regional tourism is of considerable importance and it’s great to see these areas will get a slice of the tourism pie through Tasting Australia Airlines”, said Minister Ridgway.

South Australian Tourism Commission Chief Executive Rodney Harrex said Tasting Australia was a fantastic event that tells South Australia’s food, wine and beverage story.

“We see demand for events that connect our guests with the regions, but the regions will also touch those guests who experience Tasting Australia in the city through Town Square, or at the Glasshouse Kitchen,” Mr Harrex said.

“We look forward to welcoming tens of thousands of people to the free festival hub in Victoria Square where they can share a meal, a drink or a snack with friends and family each day.”

Festival Director Simon Bryant said food and beverage lovers should embrace the opportunity to experience something new.

“I enjoy working on Tasting Australia because I see people excited about what we have here in South Australia, from guest chefs to international media and even local event-goers,” Mr Bryant said.

Programming director Jock Zonfrillo said the guest talent, including Michellin-starred chefs Norbert Niederkofler (St Hubertus, Italy) and Carlo Mirarchi (Blanca, New York), shared South Australia’s passion for ingredients, producers and growers.

“Tasting Australia is by far the most interesting food festival in Australia right now Mr Bryant said.

Tasting Australia kicks off on Friday 13 April till 22 April 2018. Locals and visitors are encouraged to visit the FREE Town Square (Victoria Square) where there will be 14 food vendors, daily varietal wine tastings, bar service by East End Cellars and d’Arenberg wines and live music.

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