Sunday, 24 June 2018

FEATURED MEMBER OF THE EXPERIENCE MEKONG COLLECTION: ISAN EXPLORER – KHON KAEN, THAILAND


Travel Experience
Isan Explorer, based in Khon Kaen, Thailand, is a small family-run company that travels almost exclusively in the rarely visited Northeastern Thailand region, which is known as Isan. All Isan Explorer daytrips and overnight tours go beyond the usual destinations (Khmer ruins, national parks, etc.) to include stops in ordinary villages where our guests meet locals, see handicrafts being made, and get a first-hand look at local culture. We want our guests to not just see the region, but get to know it, and these simple, but unforgettable encounters are the highlights of many people's tours.
Because we do private tours we allow you the flexibility to spend as much time as you want at each destination and to stop along the way whenever you wish to take photos, sample foods, chat with locals, or check out anything that catches your eye. And before your tour begins we will discuss your interests and travel style in detail because we try to tailor the itinerary to your interests – whether it's music, Buddhist art, silk weaving, herbal medicine, or anything else – and we can add or substitute special stops just for you.
Responsibility

We visit a lot of villages, giving locals the chance to earn a little extra income from showing us around, selling the handicrafts that they make, or preparing our lunch. When possible, we offer our guests the chance to do a village homestay instead of sleeping at a hotel. Besides earning a little money, many older people have thanked us for bringing guests to their villages because they hope these visits can boost the pride of the younger generations in their local culture and traditions. We also hire local guides at nature reserves when this is allowed. Isan Explorer also will arrange volunteer opportunities before, during, or after our tours at no extra cost for any guests who are interested.

Business Case
We have no desire to become a large company. By staying small and doing everything ourselves in our own unique way we can offer high-quality trips in a region that has a far less developed infrastructure than what's available in the rest of the country. And we can do so with prices lower than most Thai tour companies. Our focus on visiting villages and local handicraft artists requires more work on our part, but the number of guests who tell us that their trip wasn't just enjoyable, but special, makes it all worthwhile. And it's why many of our guests return to do a second tour with us.

Isan Explorer – Khon Kaen, Thailand
Year of Establishment - 2011
Address - 7/95 Darun Samran Rd.
Khon Kaen, Khon Kaen 40000
Phone Number - +66-(0)85-3549165
Email - tim@isanexplorer.com
Website - http://www.isanexplorer.com/

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO)
Is active on various social media platforms under the universal handle @TourismMekong.
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Electric buses coming to Christchurch

Red Bus 
Red Bus will introduce what we believe is New Zealand’s first fully electric urban bus service to Christchurch early next year.

This follows the signing of a deal to purchase three electric buses as part of its commitment to gradually introducing new innovative technology across Christchurch public transport services.

The new buses, which will be delivered by next March, will be used on the direct service route 29 between the CBD and Christchurch Airport which carries more than 200,000 passengers annually.

Red Bus chief executive Paul McNoe says this route between the city centre and the airport is ideal for the fully-battery electric -powered ADL/BYD buses that will be permanent replacements for three diesel buses to expose this cutting edge technology and commitment to sustainability to Christchurch visitors and residents.

“Based on current use of a similar electric bus design in Sydney, Canberra, London and China we’ll be able to use them all day on the airport service without needing a re-charge.”

McNoe says “using electric buses on the airport service achieves 4 objectives simultaneously; an improvement of customer service through lower internal and external noise levels, the immediate and long term reduction in local exhaust emissions, reduced carbon consumption for this service and the opportunity to demonstrate the latest vehicle technology to our Christchurch residents”.

“We are expecting immediate environmental and health benefits from these battery electric powered buses. The zero tailpipe emissions reduces our annual carbon footprint by 5% or 290 tonnes with reduced noise levels inside and outside the buses. The reduced noise levels improve the service for passengers and residents alike”.

The introduction of the buses also supports the Government’s commitment to reach its 2050 emissions reduction target. Red Bus is committed to using renewable energy sources and assisting with New Zealand’s contribution to climate change.

Red Bus is interested in the potential for wider use of electric buses and will be testing the new buses on other routes - including Christchurch’s hill suburbs - once they have settled into service.

“Both CAfE and ECan have encouraged us to take innovative investment in the future of Christchurch passenger transport and we welcome the opportunity to introduce a better public transport service”Red Bus Chief Executive - Paul McNoe

The ADL/BYD electric bus has been developed through a joint venture between BYD Auto in China and Alexander Dennis Limited in the UK.

Red Bus will monitor their performance through its sophisticated Telematics monitoring system which provides real time feedback to drivers on their acceleration, braking, cornering and speed; as well as driver and customer feedback.

Red Bus would like to thank the Christchurch Agency for Energy Trust (CAfE) for its core funding support and ECan for its strong funding support to collectively bring this project to life in Christchurch. “Both CAfE and ECan have encouraged us to take innovative investment in the future of Christchurch passenger transport and we welcome the opportunity to introduce a better public transport service” says McNoe.

McNoe says Red Bus is delighted both CAfE and ECan share its enthusiasm for the new electric buses, which builds on our other bus fleet sustainability initiatives such as the use of solar panels on our current bus fleet to use for auxiliary power requirements, reduce servicing and operating costs and the 2015 telematics investment that reduced the fleet fuel consumption by 3% and improved customer comfort through a smoother ride.

Stewart Gibbon, ECan’s senior manager public transport, says Environment Canterbury is excited to be part of the introduction and use of electric bus technology in Christchurch.

“Improving the environmental footprint of the public transport system is a key focus of ours, and our transport partners. This service will provide us with significant insights and learnings to help shape how we leverage this technology to evolve the public transport service for Greater Christchurch and Canterbury.”

The Christchurch Agency for Energy Trust (CAfE), a charitable trust established by the Christchurch City Council to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, has contributed core support funding for this project.

Christchurch City Councillor Pauline Cotter, the Trust’s Chair, says the project is setting a great example of a zero-exhaust emission bus service for Christchurch City.

“It’s wonderful to see such leadership from Red Bus, who are embracing innovation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and I congratulate them for it”.

Kevin Crutchley, Christchurch City Council’s Resource Efficiency Manager, who worked with Red Bus on researching available battery electric bus technology, says “This new battery electric transport service is excellent news for the city in both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. It also aligns well with Council’s commitment to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy which requires a Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

www.christchurchnz.com

Bo Luy-Lo Gach pagoda relic gets national status

A ceremony to receive the recognition certificate
was held in the province on April 16.
The relic complex of Bo Luy-Kompong Thmo pagoda, also known as Lo Gach (Brick-kiln) pagoda, in Chau Thanh district of the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh, has been recognised as a national archaeological site.

The architectural relics unearthed at Kompong Thmo pagoda, also known as the Lo Gach pagoda, in Tra Vinh southern province, carry features from the southwest region’s Oc Eo Culture, which was heavily influenced by the Indian culture, experts said following a recent excavation at the site.

Located in Luong Hoa commune, the relic site consists of two large-scale areas – one inside the pagoda’s complex and the other in the vicinity.

Excavations of an area of 778 sq.m dug up six brick architectural constructions sprawling across an estimated 4,500-5,000 sq. m.

These constructions were found to share similarities with architectural relics found at Go Thanh relic site in Tien Giang and Go Xoai relic site in Long An.

Both sites trace back to the Oc Eo civilisation, which was well-known for its canals, temples and tombs built from bricks and stones. Gold sheets that had elephant images carved on them found at the Lo Gach pagoda and in Go Thanh were strikingly alike, as both are Buddhist architectural structures dating back to the period between the 8th and 9th centuries AD. Other findings also include remnants of earthen ramparts to the west of Lo Gach pagoda.

Tran Thanh Thuong, Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said local authorities will carry out a project to preserve the relic complex, aiming to build it into one of the popular destinations in Tra Vinh in the future.

Currently, Tra Vinh is home to 36 relics, including 14 national and 22 provincial sites.
Source: VNA

Clipper Carnival boosts Whitsunday economy

Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival 
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones has revealed the Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival injected around $2 million into the local economy.

Ms Jones said the event held in January generated almost 8800 visitor nights from attendees outside the region.

“The event not only attracted visitors to the region, but encouraged participants to extend their stay and explore this beautiful region,” Ms Jones said.

“The Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival showcased some of best of the Whitsundays region from long lunches on spectacular Whitehaven Beach to a Rodeo by the Reef in Bowen.

“The event further cemented the region’s reputation as one of the world’s premier sailing destinations and lured nature lovers from around the globe to the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef.

“The report commissioned by Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) revealed the event injected $2 million into the local economy, once again showcasing the positive effect events can have on a local community and economy.”

Ms Jones said just a year after Cyclone Debbie ravaged the region, events like this are key to boosting the local economy, supporting local tourism operators and promoting the beautiful Whitsunday region.

“The Palaszczuk Government supported this event through Tourism and Queensland’s It’s Live! in Queenslandcalendar and due to the success of this biennial event we’ll continue to support the Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival in 2020 and 2022.”

“Tourism is a vital industry for the Whitsundays, worth $524 million to the local economy and supporting around 4,500 local jobs – almost one quarter of employment in the region.

“Through TEQ, the Palaszczuk Government is continuing to support Tourism Whitsundays to market and promote this region across Australia, as well as globally.”

The Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival was staged over two weeks in January 2018 to celebrate the arrival of 12 seventy-foot ocean yachts on their final stop of the Australian leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Quandamooka Festival 2018

Quandamooka Festival, held over three winter months, returns in 2018 to coastal region of East Brisbane with up to 55 events including whale watching cultural tours, Kunjiels (corroborees), Indigenous sports, music, eco boat tours, art exhibitions, fibre art and weaving workshops, bush tucker dining, arts and cultural talks by specialists and new events featuring international acts and First Nations dancers and performances - something to suit all ages!

The festival invites all to visit and experience the Quandamooka Coast - the sands, seas, lakes, creeks, catchments and creatures found across the region as well as embrace Quandamooka peoples’ perspective of these unique environments.

Event Dates
1 June – 31 August 2018
Dunwich, North Stradbroke Island, Redland City Area

Saturday, 23 June 2018

VIETNAM BECOMES POPULAR DESTINATION FOR SOUTH KOREANS

South Korean visitors in Danang.
Vietnam welcomed 2.4 million tourists from South Korea last year, a 56.4% increase on 2016 according to the General Statistics Office. About 5.5 million international tourists came to Vietnam in the first four months of 2018, including 1.17 million South Koreans, a 67% increase on last year. South Koreans are second behind China in terms of tourist numbers and the central region is their favourite destination.

Statistics from the Danang Department of Tourism show that the city welcomed 1.3 million South Korean tourists last year, double the previous year. During the Reunification Day Holiday on April 30, well-known destinations received hundreds of visitors daily. Many restaurants in Danang have Korean on their signs. Eight airlines have direct South Korea flights which may be the major cause for the surge of visitors.

Hoi An Town Vice Chairman Nguyen Van Son said the number of South Korean tourists in town had increased sharply since 2016. More South Korean tourists have chosen Vietnam over China as their destination. Last year, over 240,000 South Korean visitors came to Hoi An, increased by 70% on 2016 and was higher than the number of Chinese tourists which was 200,000.

“Many tourism firms in South Korea chose Vietnam because of nice beaches, a wide range of food and cultural sites. Many local airlines have cooperated with South Korean partners to provide more services,” Son said.

However, Son said they were targeting European visitors. He said South Korean visitors had flocked to Thailand and Indonesia for only a while and worried that they would stop coming to Vietnam in near future.

The sudden surge of tourists also has some drawbacks. Nguyen Anh Toan, a tour guide in Danang said the number of guides that know Korean was lacking so they can only receive small groups.

Booked tours to Vietnam also increased. Fiditour reported a 45% increase in 2017 thanks to many destinations that have been recognised by UNESCO and socio-political stability. Tran Thi Thu Bao, head of the Department of Communication and Marketing of Fiditour, said, “The high number of visitors from South Korea helps Vietnam become less dependent on other markets and boost local tourism sector.”

Read full article at VietNamNet: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/travel/200389/vietnam-becomes-popular-destination-for-south-koreans.html
Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO)
Is active on various social media platforms under the universal handle @TourismMekong.
Please follow and engage on social media by clicking on the links below:
Twitter: twitter.com/tourismmekong
Facebook: facebook.com/tourismmekong
Instagram: instagram.com/tourismmekong
Pinterest: pinterest.com/tourismmekong
LinkedIn: Mekong Tourism discussion group
Flipboard: flipboard.com/@tourismmekong

Please find out more by visiting www.MekongTourism.org

Start of work planned for Ravenscar House

Ravenscar House
The Ravenscar Trust and Canterbury Museum have released the final design of Ravenscar House, which will display an extensive collection of New Zealand fine and decorative arts, sculpture, designer furniture and classical antiquities.

The Ravenscar Trust and Canterbury Museum have today released the final design of Ravenscar House and confirmed that construction will start at the end of October 2018.

The $15 million development on Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch, is being funded by the Trust, replacing the original Ravenscar House at Scarborough, the former home of Trust benefactors Jim and Dr Susan Wakefield.

The 520 sq metre single-story grand residence, designed by international award-winning architects, Patterson Associates, will be built on a site currently used for car parking.

The site was gifted to the Museum by the Christchurch City Council in 2016, following public consultation in 2015.

Earthquake rubble will be used in the aggregate to make the precast concrete panels for the house. When completed at the beginning of 2020, the Trust will gift the house to Canterbury Museum.

The Museum plans to convert it to a contemporary house museum, displaying the Ravenscar Collections of New Zealand fine and decorative arts, sculpture, designer furniture and classical antiquities, and open it to the public by mid-2020.

Ravenscar Trust Chairman, Steve Wakefield says that due to poor health, Jim and Susan Wakefield have now handed over delivery of the project to the next generation of the family who are Ravenscar Trustees and to the Museum.

“We’re all committed to delivering Jim and Susan’s vision for the house. While the cost of building, based on the detailed design, has necessitated a review of some of their aspirations, the final plans remain true to their original concept.

The four main rooms will be about the same size, and are inspired by the four reception rooms in the original house at Scarborough.

These will be linked by a glazed terrace framing views of a central courtyard, water feature, and landscaped garden.

The precast concrete panels, which are custom manufactured by Bradford Precast of Ashburton, will be made from earthquake rubble incorporating granite from the Scarborough property, red brick from another house owned by the Wakefields that was demolished post-earthquakes, and volcanic stone remnants gifted by The Arts Centre of Christchurch.

Canterbury Museum Director Anthony Wright says, “It’s tremendously exciting that this wonderful building will soon start to take shape across from the Museum. It will be a significant visitor attraction for locals and tourists.

The Museum is extraordinarily grateful to the Wakefields and the Trust for this generous gift which we will care for on behalf of the people of Christchurch.”

“It’s great to know that this fabulous new house museum will start taking shape in spring,” says Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

“The incredible generosity of Jim and Susan Wakefield and the Ravenscar Trust is truly uplifting and will add something quite special to the city’s cultural landscape.”

The house will be built on a base-isolated platform over an 880 sq metre secured basement car park (25 spaces), with an external public car park (25 spaces) accessed from Worcester Boulevard. The current Council-operated car park on the Rolleston Avenue site will close on 30

September 2018. The Council will also move the temporary toilets that have been located on the site since the earthquakes.

The Trust will issue tenders for construction of Ravenscar House in July and plans to select a contractor by September and begin works onsite in October.

www.christchurchnz.com

HCM City medical tourism guide released

bilingual Medical Tourism Guide
The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism and Department of Health on May 23 released a bilingual Medical Tourism Guide with basic information about travel and healthcare in the city.

The guidebook in Vietnamese and English has the names, addresses and phone numbers of 14 health facilities in the city, including the HCM City Heart Institute, Dermato-Venereology Hospital, HCM City Paediatrics Hospital, Odonto-Maxillo-Facial Hospital, Otalaryngology Hospital, University Medical Centre, Traditional Medicine Institute, Tu Du Hospital, Hoan My Hospital, and HCM City International Hospital.

Ten thousand copies will be distributed to tourist information and support centres, travel agents, hotels, and hospitals in the city.

The health facilities registered to be listed in the guidebook and were chosen after meeting the 24 criteria stipulated by the Department of Health related to facilities, medical staff, check-up and treatment, and prices, Nguyen Thi Huynh Mai, chief of the Department of Health office, said.

With a number of quality public and private hospitals, capable doctors, and low cost of treatment, the city’s hospitals have attracted a large number of international visitors coming for healthcare, she said.

Many hospitals offer advanced treatment in areas like organ transplant, robotic surgery, cardiovascular surgery, endoscopic surgery, obstetric and gynecological diseases, dentistry, and others.

Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, Deputy Director of the Department of Tourism, said the city’s medical tourism potential remains untapped.

To fulfil the potential, the two departments have cooperated to promote medical tourism and the guidebook is part of that cooperation, she said.

The city would focus on promoting medical tourism in neighbouring markets such as Cambodia and Laos and to overseas Vietnamese, she said.

Last year, Viet Nam attracted around 80,000 foreign tourists who came for health checks and treatment and spent 2 billion USD.

In HCM City almost 40,000 foreign tourists received medical services costing 1 billion USD.
Source: VNA

Vietnam National Administration of Tourism

Locals extend invitation to Heron Island


Heron Island local Lauren Bailey is the hero in the latest Queensland tourism promotional video as she invites tourists to connect with nature on Heron Island.

Produced in partnership between Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) and Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited (GAPDL), the 90-second video is a compelling local invitation to ‘learn and grow’ while visiting the Gladstone region.

TEQ Chief Executive Officer Leanne Coddington said the video was part of a local invitation series featuring Queensland’s new ‘Find your perfect next’ campaign.

“Locals play such a powerful role in engaging with travellers and helping them experience a destination in a more authentic way,” Ms Coddington said.

“Lauren’s enthusiasm for Heron Island shines through in this video, where she also highlights how visitors can get a first-hand perspective of the Great Barrier Reef through the island’s research station.

“As Lauren says in the video - being able to gain an appreciation and passion for the reef is key to us looking after it in the future by becoming global ambassadors – and I couldn’t agree more, this is such a special experience.

“The video highlights the unique natural encounters of this region, which are sure to amaze and inspire.”

“Heron Island is a treasured part of the Gladstone Region, and Lauren’s insights are just a few of the reasons why it’s loved by locals and international guests alike,” GAPDL’s CEO Darryl Branthwaite said.

“Heron Island’s DNA is built on unique marine encounters, crystal clear water and world-class research.”

Lauren’s local invitation video is being promoted together with series of destination blogs targeted to families, empty nesters and ‘SINKs and DINKs’* in Brisbane, South East Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne over the next fortnight in a joint campaign funded by TEQ and GAPDL.

*SINKS: Single Income No Kids / DINKS: Double Income No Kids

A TOUCH OF ARNHEM LAND IN BEGA

Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression
A celebratory exhibition of Yirrkala Print Space in Arnhem Land, entitled Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression, is set to open at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery (BVRG) on 22 June.

The exhibition will include works from 50 artists and showcase historically significant prints. For more information on the Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression exhibition or the Bega Valley Regional Gallery, click here.

www.destinationnsw.com.au