Wednesday, 23 August 2017

BALLET UNDER THE STARS RETURNS WITH SLEEPING BEAUTY

The Australian Ballet will return to Western Sydney for its annual free outdoor community program this year with a dazzling excerpt from The Sleeping Beauty.

Ballet Under The Stars will be presented exclusively in Penrith at the Sydney International Regatta Centre on Saturday,
4 November.

NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said the event had been secured for Western Sydney until 2018 through Destination NSW.

“Set against the stunning backdrop of Penrith Lakes, Ballet Under the Stars brings world-class ballet to Western Sydney for locals and visitors to enjoy,”
Mr Harwin said.

“This is a brilliant showcase for Penrith and I encourage visitors attending this spectacular event to spend the weekend exploring the fantastic community in Western Sydney.”

With high demand assured, ballet lovers are encouraged to join the waitlist via The Australian Ballet website to be notified when registration for tickets opens.

BRISBANE BOAT SHOW OPENS THIS WEEK

The 2017 Brisbane Boat Show opens Friday and runs for three days until Sunday, returning once again to the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre in South Bank.

The Brisbane Boat Show is Queensland’s premier trailer boat event, capturing the great diversity of trailer boating and all the gear for this very popular boating sector.

With Australia’s centre of boat manufacturing at Brisbane’s door step, you can understand why the event will feature the best that the industry has to offer, together with a very impressive international line up.

Whilst boats are the shows core attraction, all the gear for them will also feature; with electronics, safety equipment, fishing gear and much more playing a key part in the event. Anyone who loves boats, fishing and water sports, won’t want to miss it.

Whilst the event organisers boast that the Brisbane Boat Show is the best place to see and buy boats, entertainment and education play a big part in keeping visitors occupied.

The Stage will feature fishing master classes with well-known fishing experts and personalities: Tim Simpson, Paul and Doug Burt, Laurie Mcenally, Steve Morgan and Greg Vinall.

If adventure is in your blood, you must stop to meet and hear Michelle Lee and her mentor Andrew Abrahams. Andrew successfully crossed the Atlantic in a rowing boat not too long ago and is mentoring Michelle to embark on the same journey very soon. Michelle is attempting to be the first Australian woman to do so. A great story worth hearing.

For those with young ones, visit the big pool area where kayak and SUP demonstrations will take place. As well as this, the young ones can have a go in a bumper boat.

If you are new to boating, pop into the My First Boat Precinct where Geoff the Boating Guy will be able to give you some tips on how kids can get onto the water and what you can do to make sure your first boat is right for you.

With boating safety top of mind for all responsible boaties, take the time to visit the boating safety zone where many on-water agencies will be on hand to give you some tips and guidance on how to make sure every outing is a good one.


10am to 8pm Friday and Saturday, and 10am to 6pm Sunday, with parking available at the venue. Tickets are available at the gate and online. You can purchase online for a chance to win a 10’5 Hobie Eclipse valued at $2,890. $5 tickets are available after 5pm.

See the website for details http://www.brisbaneboatshow.com.au/

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

ICONIC GAME TO HOST INAUGURAL PIG FESTIVAL IN SYDNEY

Pigs, friends and family of pigs, and plain old pig-lovers, rejoice! Aussies are getting their very own pig festival, finally giving us the channel we’ve long needed to bask in the glory of our pink and porky friends.

Conveniently kicking off on ‘International Bacon Day’ (Saturday September 2), the official Pass the Pigs Festival is slated to be the ultimate porker of a weekend. Proudly presented by iconic ‘Pass the Pigs’ game, the festival will take place on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd September at The Greens North Sydney from 11.00am – 6.00pm daily.

Reid Herbert, Managing Director of Winning Moves Australia says, “Pigs have been unappreciated for too long, it is about time there is a pig themed festival in Australia that is fun for anyone and everyone. Pass The Pigs is a classic game that has, and continues to deliver much fun for people of all ages, so we are excited to be hosting this inaugural event!”

With a Game Arena set to excite gamers of all ages, the event will see competitions of Pass the Pigs played on the iconic bowling greens overlooking Sydney Harbour. There will be numerous prizes to be won including the classic Pass the Pigs Original, Pass the Pigs Inflatable and Pass the Pig Party Pig Editions.

Those inclined to hog all of the food are likely to find themselves sniffing around the line-up of stallholders offering a range of piggy-themed snacks from The Greens North Sydney.

The Greens have developed a range of food specials for the occasion, including pork shoulders freshly roasted over the fire pit, pulled pork burgers with old school slaw, and crispy pork dumplings. Plus, there will be bacon themed baked goods including salted caramel and bacon donuts. Wham, bam, thank you ham!

For adult oinkers there will be a signature ‘Makin' Bacon Bloody Mary’ cocktail, a bacon infused version of the classic drink, as well as ‘The Pink Piggybacker’, an alcoholic blend of flavoursome ingredients resulting in a beautifully pink concoction.

And don’t worry; your piglets won’t be s’whining thanks to a bunch of mini snorter-themed activities being hosted in our designated kid’s area, with a few including:
A petting farm filled with pigs (naturally)
Pig face painting
A candy bar
Squealing yet? Make sure you get down to the first-ever Pass the Pigs Festival for a grunting good time.

And be sure to share your memories from the festival on social media. The most creative photo that is uploaded and includes the hashtag #PassThePigsFestival will win the ultimate Pass the Pigs Party Package valued at over $100.

Details

When: Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd September
Where: The Greens North Sydney, 50 Ridge St, North Sydney NSW 2062
Times: From 11.00am – 6.00pm daily
Cost: Entry to the festival is free but due to limited spots registration is required.

To register visit: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/pass-the-pigs-festival-tickets-36845301288

Monday, 21 August 2017

Take advantage of the sun with an open top bus tour

Big Bus Tours' signature sightseeing bus tour allows visitors to experience the stunning views of San Francisco from open-top buses. With hop-on, hop-off service, you can leave the tour at any time to explore the city’s top landmarks, before jumping back on to continue your guided tour.

See all the best attractions San Francisco has to offer as you travel through the heart of the city on double-decker buses over the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge to the remarkable San Francisco Bay, where you’ll witness spectacular views from Vista Point. And with several types of tickets available to choose from, you can explore San Francisco your way.

Tour highlights include:

Fisherman's Wharf

The hub of the local fishing trade, Fisherman's Wharf is a must-see for San Francisco's many visitors. Get here early to fully enjoy the sights and sounds of the wharf before everyone else arrives. See the piers and look for the colony of sea lions. Find yourself some crab or chowder to snack on as you wander amongst the many street performers and then head to Fish Alley to see the boat sheds of the fishermen or the world-famous wax figures at Madame Tussauds.

North Beach and Little Italy

Largely established during the Gold Rush era by fisherman from northern Italy, North Beach's Italian restaurants, bakeries and delicatessens have formed the neighborhood as a genuine Little Italy. Memories of the Beat Generation abound as well throughout the area, from when writers such as Alan Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac made North Beach home and helped start the city's renowned cultural rebellion.

Union Square

Named so after becoming a gathering place for Unionist supporters during the Civil War, Union Square is now the hub of one of the world’s most vibrant shopping districts. Take a tour around the square, flanked by Macy's (home of an official Visitor Information Center), Saks and the impressive Westin St Francis Hotel; or explore the surrounding blocks - home to countless department stores, boutiques, salons and outfitters. Nearby is the Theatre District and Hallidie Plaza, the great crossroads, where San Francisco Travel also offers a Visitor Information Center.

Alamo Square

The Painted Ladies of Alamo Square are not in fact ladies at all, but Victorian Houses that form part of one of the most recognized picture-postcard vistas of San Francisco. Wander uphill and enjoy an unrivaled vantage point from which to photograph or simply take in the breath-taking views of the city.

Golden Gate Park

The third most-visited park in the United States. Golden Gate Park is full of magnificent horticultural landscaping, specific attractions and structures of interest, including the Kezar and Golden Gate Stadiums, the Japanese Tea Garden – the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States, the Conservatory of Flowers and the de Young Museum – a fine art museum that opened almost a century ago in 1921, and the California Academy of Sciences. The bus takes you right through the heart of the park, where you can scan for its famous bison, which have roamed in the Bison Paddock since 1891!

PIER 39

Often considered San Francisco's top tourist destination, PIER 39 offers a great range of shops and eateries plus an impressive variety of other entertainment. Visit the Aquarium of the Bay or the Marine Mammal Centre; or simply stroll along the waterfront and take in the superb views of Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge.

Other sightseeing landmarks accessible with Big Bus include the Ferry Building, Civic Center, Haight-Ashbury, the Palace of Fine Arts,Lombard Street, and Chinatown. A Big Bus Tour is a perfect introduction to San Francisco; visit Big Bus Tours online for more information and book your ticket today.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER NAMES NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA SMART CITY

National Geographic Traveler has announced Newcastle, Australia, as part of its Smart Cities series dedicated to celebrating cities that have risen to the challenges of 21st century urban life. 

Around 100 miles north of Sydney, Newcastle, Australia’s seventh largest city, sits at the mouth of the Hunter River just a short drive from the famed Hunter Valley vineyards. 

When the shifting sands of the global economy saw the local steel, copper and coal industries begin to wind down, Newcastle adopted a creative, new, education-focused tack. 

The renowned surf-city with a burgeoning artisan scene transformed run-down spaces into pop-ups for makers -- milliners, writers, painters and furniture designers -- and brightened the walls of large buildings with artistic murals a la major global capitals. 

This cultural vitality has preceded the arrival of smart city hardware set to make things better for locals and tourists alike. The University of Newcastle’s landmark city campus is set to open in mid-2017, and will provide a technology-rich, next generation learning environment for students and the community. 

Within this precinct, an Innovation Hub will nurture home-grown research, innovation and activity to drive the region’s economic and cultural success. 

Alongside these innovation-led developments, light rail and tech investment are hastening the postindustrial step of the city that inspired the hit musical Tap Dogs. 

Green energy research, eclectic cafés, restaurants, bars and bakeries, plus growing numbers of cyclists on sparkling coastal pathways, confirm a new Zeitgeist.

“We are on a global hunt to find cities where innovation meets imagination and are quickly becoming the next great travel destinations,” says National Geographic Traveler editor in chief, George W. Stone. “Newcastle has done just that. The coastal city has re-invented itself restoring its colonial-era buildings and becoming a base to explore all this city has to offer— from the Merewether Ocean Baths, superb coastline and working harbour to internationally-acclaimed live performance and exhibitions - the city is brimming with activity."

 Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said tourism was part of Newcastle's transition from a great regional city to an emerging global city with spectacular natural assets and relaxed lifestyle. "Last year visitor numbers increased by 1.25 million people to 10.1 million,"

 Councillor Nelmes said. "Many are being drawn by the re-invention of our coastline which now rivals any coastal walk in Australia and by the new urban chic many tourists might more readily relate to Brooklyn, New York. But instead, think of pristine beaches with golden sand and whales often in view only a short stroll from topshelf cafes and restaurants. "Soon, tourists will be able to access free wi-fi in the inner city thanks to a project that will also produce a digital hub for sharp-thinking entrepreneurs to make Newcastle and the Hunter even better travel destinations." 

University of Newcastle’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said the University, together with partners in Council, business and the community, is playing an important role in shaping the economic and cultural future of the city. “By developing the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs, and encouraging the creation of new businesses, we are positioning Newcastle as a magnet for talent and innovation from across the globe.” 

To learn more about Newcastle visit National Geographic Traveler’s Smart City online hub at www.nationalgeographic.com/smart-cities 

CINZ Conference 2017 focuses on the future

Deborah Sexton, 
PCMA President and CEO, 
and CINZ keynote speaker
International conference trends are top of the agenda at the Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) annual conference in Dunedin this October.

The 41st CINZ annual conference from 24 to 26 October is themed Ahead of the Curve, and focuses on the future with an insight into new generation technologies, smart thinking and leading-edge practice.

Chief Executive Sue Sullivan says CINZ has assembled an impressive line-up of 12 international and local experts on the subject, including Deborah Sexton, President and CEO of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), brought here by Tourism New Zealand with the support of Air New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive, Stephen England-Hall says Deborah Sexton’s keynote address focuses on the Future of Meetings and Events.

“Deborah has much to share from a global perspective. Under her leadership, the PCMA membership is at an all-time high, and the PCMA annual meeting has broken attendance records for the last five consecutive years,” he says.

Top incentive specialist, Fiona Batten, manager of Ci Events Australia is giving a special presentation on Insights, Trends and Beyond at the CINZ Conference 2017. She will be sharing with CINZ members the inside story on what Australian incentive companies need from New Zealand.

Dunedin-based Ian Taylor is another keynote presenter who is not to be missed. As the founder of New Zealand-pioneer technology company Animation Research Ltd (ARL), his team covers sports events all over the world. Ian was inducted into the New Zealand Hi-Tech Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2010, he was named North & South magazine’s New Zealander of the Year, and in 2013, Outstanding Maori Business Leader of the Year. He is also a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

In keeping with the conference theme, CINZ is mixing up different presentation styles to match different ways of learning in 2017. Traditional plenary sessions will share the programme with shortened workshops, TED-style talks, and panel sessions.

Register online at the CINZ website for the CINZ Conference and AGM 2017.

Miracle City return to the stage with Missy Higgins

A brand new production of Nick Enright and Max Lambert’s celebrated Australian musical Miracle City takes over the Sydney Opera House Studio from 11 – 29 October with an outstanding cast of new stars and musical-theatre veterans. Tickets On Sale on Monday 28 August at 9am.

Set in the early 1990s, at the height of televangelism, Miracle City tells the story of the Truswells, a family with a dream to build a religious theme park, and the extreme lengths the patriarch, Ricky Truswell, will go to in order to make their dream a reality.

The new production -features an outstanding cast including:
  • ARIA award-winner Missy Higgins in her first musical role as part of the powerhouse trio, the Citadel singers, alongside Lara Mulcahy (Les Miserables, Mamma Mia!, Moulin Rouge!, Strictly Ballroom) andJosie Lane (Little Shop of Horrors, Jerry’s Girls, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Miracle City)
  • Gus Murray (The Great Gatsby, McLeod’s Daughters, Packed to the Rafters) as the Reverend Ricky Truswell
  • Kellie Rode (Mamma Mia!, Rocky Horror Show, Mother & Son) as his wife Lora Lee
  • Jessica Vickers (Light in the Piazza, Fiddler on the Roof) as their apple-pie-fresh daughter Loretta
  • Liam Nunan (Away, The Golden Age) as Loretta’s love interest, and
  • Anthony Phelan (Seven Types of Ambiguity, The Kettering Incident, The Wild Duck) as evangelist Pastor Millard Sizemore.

Sydney Opera House Head of Contemporary Performance, Danielle Harvey, says “It’s been said by many that Miracle City is an undiscovered gem of Australian musical theatre. I’m thrilled to champion local work with a cast and crew of formidable talent. Miracle City is a story that still resonates, loudly, today.”

Producer, Alistair Thomson of The Theatre Division, says “Miracle City is a unique, powerful and exhilarating Australian musical written by one of our finest musical theatre partnerships. We are delighted to bring this show to a wider audience with a stellar cast at The Studio at Sydney Opera House, a venue perfectly suited to this contemporary work.”

The late great Australian dramatist Nick Enright (The Boy From Oz, Lorenzo’s Oil, Cloudstreet) wrote the book and lyrics for Miracle City, based on a concept by Max Lambert (Hairspray, King Kong, Strictly Ballroom), who also wrote the music. It premiered at the Sydney Theatre Company in 1996 to universal acclaim, and was resurrected at the Hayes Theatre Co in 2014, earning five Sydney Theatre Award nominations and a slew of rave reviews.

This new production is directed by Darren Yap (Diving For Pearls, Letters To Lindy, A Murder Is Announced, Miracle City - 2014) with Max Lambert returning as musical director and conducting from the piano, and choreography by the award-winning Kelley Abbey (Fame The Musical, Footloose, Grease: The Arena Spectacular and Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour – Carmen).

Contemporary Performance at Sydney Opera House

Contemporary Performance at Sydney Opera House presents the latest in contemporary dance, theatre, circus, magic, comedy, musicals and cabaret. It champions brave, genre-straddling work and the reinvention and reinterpretation of classic art forms. In recent years the Opera House has featured preeminent international contemporary dance companies - including Akram Khan, Sylvie Guillem, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, DV8 and theKibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. The Opera House has staged hit new musical theatre productions including Heathers: The Musical as well as modern adaptations of the classics, such as Sweet Charity. Summer is the season for circus, magic and cabaret. Large-scale spectaculars, such as The Illusionists and Circus 1903, fill the Concert Hall and late-night variety shows like Club Swizzle, La Soirée, Barbu and Blanc de Blanc play before packed houses in the Studio.

www.sydneyoperahouse.com/events/whats-on/musical-theatre/2017/miracle-city.html?esc=44240

Tickets On Sale Monday 28 August at 9am
Where: The Studio, Sydney Opera House
When: 12 – 29 October, 2017
Prices Tickets from $59
Bookings: sydneyoperahouse.com or +61 2 9250 7777

Art exhibition celebrates Viet Nam – RoK ties

Vietnamese and Korean artists are showing their works at an art exhibition which opened in downtown Seoul on August 16, under support from the Viet Nam Embassy in the Republic of Korea and the Korea Foundation.

More than 20 paintings, video tapes and installation art works on display depict social changes in both nations over the past 30 years through the eyes of young artists.

The exhibition is part of activities marking the 25th founding anniversary of Viet Nam – RoK diplomatic relations. It is taking place at the Korea Foundation (KF) Cultural Centre until October 18, before moving to the ASEAN Cultural House in Busan.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, KF Executive Vice President Yoon Keum-Jin said the event is the biggest display of Viet Nam’s contemporary art in her country to date.

She noted that young Vietnamese and Korean artists shared a common concern over fading traditional culture amid rapid industrialisation and urbanisation.

Vietnamese Ambassador to the RoK Nguyen Vu Tu said in just 25 years, the ties between the two countries have obtained significant progress in various aspects, particularly people-to-people exchanges.

Stressing that further achievements for both sides lay ahead, the diplomat said he expects cultural activities like the art exhibition will help enhance Korean understanding about Viet Nam and stimulate bilateral engagements.

MTV BEATS AND EATS RETURNS TO THE GONG IN NOVEMBER

MTV Beats and Eats 2016 festival
 in Wollongong. Credit: Rocket K
.
Wollongong will again host the freshest selection of music and food ahead of the start of Summer, when MTV Beats & Eats returns in late November.

Now in its third year, the one-day festival will return to Stuart Park after the success of last year’s event which saw thousands of people dance and eat their way through offerings from some of Australia’s hottest foodies with tunes by Savage, PACES, Tigerlilly and superstar DJ Steve Aoki.

Secured by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, MTV Beats & Eats is a highlight on the NSW Events Calendar and a massive drawcard for youth travellers.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said, “It’s great to have MTV Beats & Eats return to Wollongong, providing visitors with another great opportunity to explore the many exciting attractions and adventure activities the region has to offer.”

Crowds will once again be treated to a selection of new and exciting bars, Instagramable activations, food trucks and vendors, while enjoying some of the hottest acts in music.

Click here to buy tickets.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

New and Returning Favorites Keep Summer Fun Going at Disneyland Resort

Don’t miss your chance for summertime fun at Disneyland Resort! With new and returning favorites in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park, there is so much to do and see — and some of the fun is only available for a limited time!

Main Street Electrical Parade

Main Street Electrical Parade is nearing the end of its limited-time run! Experience this beloved parade in the place it began – Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland park – now through August 20.

“Fantasmic!”

Fantasmic!,” the Disneyland park nighttime spectacular you’ve loved for more than 25 years is back — with its iconic theme song — and now features new mist screens that combine with innovative, state-of-the-art projection technology for brighter and more vibrant visuals than ever before.

Disneyland Railroad and Rivers of America Attractions

Beloved Disneyland park favorites have returned, with new magic! Experience the return of these classics for yourself aboard the Disneyland Railroad, Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbiaand Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, now open once again at Disneyland park.

Summer of Heroes

At Disney California Adventure park, summer is all about Super Heroes with special, limited-time experiences through September 10. From Groot bread and Gamma-sized donuts to one-of-a-kind encounters with the Mighty Avenger, Thor, you never know what adventure is waiting for you around each corner!

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

And speaking of adventures, join the Guardians of the Galaxy on the ultimate breakout! Rocket needs your help to free his buddies from the grasp of the mysterious Collector in an adventure set to the beat of some familiar pop favorites.

Disney MaxPass

New this summer is the best way to maximize your day at the Disneyland Resort – Disney MaxPass! This new digital tool provides unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads from your day, and enables the convenience of mobile Disney FASTPASS booking and redemption times while in the theme parks through the Disneyland App.

FOUR TIPS TO A WINNING GAMES ACCOMMODATION SEARCH

Thousands of people will receive confirmation of their Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games tickets this month and Gold Coast Tourism wants them to be prepared for their accommodation pursuit. 

Competition for favourite spots and key dates will be high, but a new online directory will help visiting fans secure a place to stay at the fairest prices, says Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter

Providers ranging from top end hotels to caravan parks, and motels to private rentals, have been compiled into an easy-to-use comprehensive listing on the Gold Coast Tourism website. 

Ticket holders can search dates, suburbs and proximity to different venues to ensure they get the best deal at the most convenient location.

And Gold Coast Tourism has some quick tips to enhance people’s accommodation search success. 

1. GET IN EARLY

- As soon as you know your dates, start your search and book your accommodation

2. BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS 

- Go beyond the obvious holiday suburbs and uncover other parts of the Gold Coast. There are accommodation offerings across the city ands surrounds 

3. BE OPEN

 - Consider all options, from hotels, motels, apartments and camping, caravan parks and private rentals 

4. STAY LONGER 

- Many providers may require a minimum length stay during the peak period.... so search for at least five nights 

Mr Winter says the Gold Coast is well equipped to host crowds of the scale expected for the Commonwealth Games – there are more than 30,000 options available to the city’s visitors.

But he warns ticket holders to get in quickly if they are keen on specific locations, a certain style of accommodation or are travelling in large groups. 

“This online tool has been created to help visitors who have been lucky enough to secure tickets to book accommodation early,” Mr Winter says. “We know that once people know which tickets they have they will be looking to lock in somewhere to stay. This is the best place for them to do that and gain peace of mind. “The Games is a premium event that will drive an influx of visitors, similar to a peak holiday season. There will be high demand so people can expect prices will be at a premium. “The online directory allows people to identify operators offering the best deals, especially if they stay for five nights or more.”

 The new directory can be found at: www.destinationgoldcoast.com/commonwealthgames/accommodation 

Emperor Qianlong’s Favorite Reading Place Getting A Facelift

An imperial garden in downtown Beijing’s Beihai Park opened to tourists after a restaurant that had operated for 60 years was moved out as part of a campaign to protect the city’s cultural heritage.

Yilan Hall, whose history spans more than 260 years, is a cluster of buildings designed in the architectural style of the Jinshan Temple in Jiangsu province. It was the preferred reading place for Emperor Qianlong, an 18th-century ruler of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

In the 1950s, the Fangshan restaurant and hotel opened in the building, offering “emperor’s dishes.” Taking advantage of the historical setting, the hotel, which boasted a lake view, earned fame by providing customers with a taste of Qing luxury. It had 11 small private dining rooms.

Thai tourism to strengthen links with agriculture sector

The Thai tourism industry is to forge stronger links with the kingdom’s agriculture economy by promoting the culinary delights of the globally-renowned Thai cuisine, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn has said.

Food in Thailand is renowned around the world for the freshness of its ingredients, produced by the nation’s farmers.

Addressing more than 500 tourism industry executives at the summary session of the TAT Action Plan (TATAP) 2018, the Governor said this linkage would go long way towards creating jobs and prosperity in both of Thailand’s leading economic sectors.

The Governor said, “This is a proactive approach under which TAT wants to use Thai food as its main product. Encouraging both Thai and foreign tourists to enjoy Thai food, especially home-grown products, not only increases the average expenditure per visitor, but also generates downstream benefits for suppliers of culinary ingredients and equipment. Ultimately, our farmer brothers will be the primary beneficiaries of the government’s objectives.”

He said the strategy also fits in with the marketing slogan of promoting a Unique Thai Local Experience under the Thailand 4.0 concept.

Mr. Yuthasak added, “The importance of Thai food is not only limited to being a product that contributes to economic growth, nor is it just because Thai food is a well-known global product because of its excellent taste. In fact, the wonders of Thai food can be traced back to the very livelihoods of the Thai people and wisdom of our ancestors. Thai food also tells great stories of the country’s history, culture and heritage.

“TAT is ready to make everyone see the value of Thai food. For the Thai people, Thai food is more than just a means of filling the stomach, but a source of national pride.”

He said the culinary delights of each province would also be highlighted under the Amazing G-Link programme, an extension of The Link project, which is designed to promote secondary provinces and decongest the well-established, popular destinations.

The Governor said that research showed that visitors are keen to save on airfares and accommodation but are happy to spend on food and beverage.

Agriculture has long been a bedrock economic sector for Thailand, one of the world’s leading rice exporters. Today, tourism is seen as a more promising ‘sunrise’ industry, and an important source of jobs and income distribution.

The TATAP 2018 is a comprehensive strategy designed to maintain a strong flow of visitors in a highly competitive environment. Its overarching slogan is to ensure that Thailand remains a Preferred Destination and a delivers a Quality Product, thus boosting the average length of stay, expenditure and repeat visitation.

The Governor also announced that in 2018, TAT will open offices in Toronto, Canada and Sao Paulo, Brazil, as well as join the Sao Paulo Fashion Week to present Thai designers at the global level.

He also noted that 2018 would get off to a good start with Thailand hosting the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) in January in Chiang Mai. This will help reinforce Thailand’s image as a hub of intra-ASEAN Connectivity and promote more intra-ASEAN travel.

Overall, the marketing strategy is designed to ensure that the Thai brand image remains strong in a highly competitive environment. It will also become more niche-market oriented with highly focused campaigns targeted at specific demographic and customer segments in specific markets at specific periods.

Unique Buddhist culture museum in Da Lat opens

Ancient bronze bells
A museum featuring thousands of antiques related to Buddhist culture and nationality in Van Hanh Zen Monastery in Da Lat City is regarded as the largest valuable private museum in the central highlands province of Lam Dong.

The museum displays more than 10,000 ancient objects from different eras which were collected by Buddhist monk Thich Vien Thanh during 40 years.

The artifacts include production tools and household items presenting the ancient rice civilization and daily activities of ethnic minority groups on the country.

There is an area of statues of Buddha and great men, and invaluable worship products.

Buddhist monk Thich Vien Thanh hoped the relevant department would help to systematize the collections, making objects to stay in the scientific archive.

Van Hanh Buddhist temple located at 39 Phu Dong Thien Vuong Street in Ward 8 in Da Lat resort town is one of the largest monasteries. The Zen Monastery is also the popular attractions, luring many visitors.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Disneyland Railroad Engineers Share Excitement for Return of Classic Attraction

The Disneyland Railroad has officially resumed its grand circle tour of Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom! The return of this classic attraction has been highly anticipated by Disneyland park fans eager to experience the beautiful new waterfront and updates along the Rivers of America. Among some the most excited fans, in fact, are the cast members who engineer and care for the historic steam engines.

Robert Rodriguez and Craig Ludwick are on the team of knowledgeable engineers working on the Disneyland Railroad. Both are experts on the engines and have passion for sharing Walt’s love of steam-powered travel.

“Any way we as cast members can inspire the guests to have a passion for these trains like Walt did, is fantastic,” Robert told us.

They have been busy the past few months preparing for the Disneyland Railroad to return to its 365-days-a-year operation. Both are excited for guests to join them on the rails and experience the new additions to this classic attraction. The Disneyland Railroad now travels across the rocks on a trestle that extends out along the Rivers of America.

When asked about his favorite new addition, Craig said, “Once our guests see those new waterfalls, lighting and the amazing stone work … you’re going to hear people say, ‘Oh, wow! Look at that!’” He’s also eager for guests to discover the breathtaking new view of Walt Disney’s iconic Dioramas of the Grand Canyon and Primeval World, which have been carefully restored to their original splendor with a bit of new magic added to both.

“I don’t want to give it away,” Craig says, “but you’re going to be amazed.”

GOLD COAST VOTED FAVOURITE AUSTRALIAN DESTINATION

Chinese travellers have overwhelmingly voted the Gold Coast as their favourite Australian holiday destination in the annual ‘Destination of the year’ awards.. 

The Gold Coast was the only Australian and the only Western destination to make the global top ten when presented by Ctrip, China's leading online travel agent, at a gala ceremony held in Shanghai. 

The award results were generated based on more than 50 million user comments, as well as online votes by over 3.6 million Chinese travellers. 

Gold Coast Tourism’s Chairman Paul Donovan said the recognition was testament to the years of strategic engagement with Chinese stakeholders by Gold Coast Tourism staff responsible for developing the China market.

“Together with industry and our destination stakeholders, we have invested a great deal of time and money in this market because we recognise the strong and increasing affection that Chinese travellers have for the Gold Coast’s coastal city lifestyle,” said Mr Donovan. “This is the biggest and most significant tourism industry survey in China and it is satisfying to see that the work undertaken by our China-based team has been so effective. Chinese visitors know the Gold Coast has it all and they are strongly attracted to our pristine natural assets such as our Hinterland and our beaches, our big blue skies, exceptional food, wine and shopping offerings. “However, without the right strategy you will always finish mid-field - to rank well ahead of major global cities like Paris and Sydney is remarkable. It is further proof we have matured significantly as a destination - which is reflected in the launch of our new Marketing Strategy and Brand”. 

The Ctrip top ten were:
  1. Phuket
  2. Seoul\
  3. Bangkok
  4. Gold Coast
  5. Bali
  6. Singapore
  7. Chiang Mai
  8. Jeju
  9. Maldives
  10. Tokyo 

The Gold Coast attracts more than 27% of Australia’s Chinese visitors, increasing by 33% in FY16. 

Independent of the survey, Ctrip also nominated the Gold Coast as one of the ten most preferred destinations for the FIT (Free and Independent Traveller).  

“The Chinese FIT sector prefers the Gold Coast because these travellers are able to get a sense of community and integrate into our lifestyle during their stays. We provide the ultimate experience because we welcome the modern global traveller,” he said. 

City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said he wasn’t surprised by the remarkable figures coming out of China. “We have worked heavily to promote the idea that the Gold Coast is just 'one sleep' from mainland China, as far as direct flights go,” said Mayor Tate. "The work done via our Mayoral missions to China and the UAE is paying dividends, backed by exceptional work led by Gold Coast Airport and Gold Coast Tourism." 

Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones welcomed the news that the Gold Coast had topped the list of Chinese travellers’ favourite destinations. “It’s no wonder the Gold Coast has been rated as the favourite destination among Chinese travellers, with our relaxed lifestyle, iconic beaches, warm weather and open skies luring around 295,000 visitors to the Coast from China last year,” Ms Jones said. “I’m so pleased our Chinese friends now know what we’ve always known – that Queensland is by far the best tourism destination in Australia. 

“Last year we saw Chinese visitor numbers surpass the number of New Zealand tourists visiting Queensland, making China our largest international market for the first time ever. “In total we welcomed 485,000 visitors from China to Queensland in 2016, which was up more than 33% on the previous year. “This was a real turning point for us because it reaffirmed that the future of our tourism industry is absolutely linked to the growing Chinese market. “This shows that our Government’s investment in growing the Chinese market is paying off and is the right thing to do because it’s supporting jobs and growing our economy.” 

Ms Jones said the Gold Coast recorded a 16% increase in international visitors in the year ending September 2016, which was a record high. “We’re seeing really strong growth in a number of Asian markets including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, with visitor expenditure on the Gold Coast increasing to a $1.3 billion,” she said.

Nine Must-Visit Places in Tianjin

Haihe River
Tianjin is the largest port city in northern China, and one of China’s four municipalities directly under the Central Government. Tianjin has historically been an important port and doorway to Beijing, being 120 kilometers (75 miles) away from the capital. By bullet train from the Beijing Southern Railway Station, it now takes just 40 minutes to get there.

The blend of Chinese and Western cultures also forms Tianjin’s distinctive tourism resources. Known as one of the most outstanding tourist cities in China, Tianjin never loses its appeal to visitors – from mountains, rivers, lakes and the sea to springs, wetlands and local delicacies.

Here are nine of the top places to visit in the city.

1. Haihe River

As the mother river and symbol of Tianjin, the Haihe River runs through the city and out to the Bohai Sea. A total of 21 bridges cross the Haihe River and each is scenic attraction, forming a distinctive bridge culture throughout the region. Rising over the spectacular Yongle Bridge is the Tianjin Eye, an iconic ferris wheel which lights up the city every night.

2. Five Big Avenues: A hub of international architecture

Wudadao, known as the Five Big Avenues, is an international architecture exposition in Tianjin, with about 2,000 villas in various Western styles, built in the 1920s and 1930s. More than 300 late residences of historical figures are located in the area, including former Olympic champion Li Airui, late president of the United States Herbert Hoover, and former U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall. For history lovers, dropping in a visit to the Historical Museum of the Five Avenues helps to get an overall understanding of the history of the area, and also a closer look at about 1,000 items used by the prominent residents who lived in the buildings.

3. The Taida Aircraft Carrier Theme Park

As a national 4A level tourist attraction, the Taida Aircraft Carrier Theme Park is a large military amusement park located in the Binhai New Area. The area integrates marine military culture and Russian culture, with Kiev, the retired aircraft carrier from the Russian navy, being the park’s biggest draw. Over the past ten years, the tourist attraction has seen an increasing number of visitors. During the three-day Qingming Festival in April 2017, more than 40,000 people visited the park, a 20 percent increase compared to the same time last year, which also set a new record.

4. Cross Talk Tea Houses

For Tianjin locals, sitting in a tea house enjoying cross talk shows while eating sunflower seeds and sipping tea is a common form of entertainment at night. The Mingliu Tea House, also known as the Celebrities Tea House, is just one example, offering cross talk performances every day. The entertainment hub was first built in 1991, and was designed by the wife of a Chinese literary giant, Lao She. The plaque of the teahouse was also personally inscribed by Ma Sanli, a famous Chinese crosstalk artist.

5. The Yangliuqing New Year Painting Museum

The Yangliuqing New Year Painting Museum showcases traditional Chinese New Year paintings as well as its history and masterpiece artworks, and demonstrates procedures to create the traditional way of painting. The famous folk wood carving painting first began in the old town of Yangliuqing during the mid-Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when locals portrayed their hopes for a better life with knives and paint brushes, using wood plates as canvases. A typical Yangliuqing New Year painting portrays a chubby child holding a big fish, wishing for an affluent New Year. The paintings are usually hung on walls and doors to seek blessings during the lunar New Year.

6. The Huangyaguan Great Wall

The Huangyaguan Great Wall, 42 kilometers long, is a World Cultural Heritage and a national 4A level scenic spot. The wall was first built in the Beiqi Dynasty (550-577), and rebuilt and expanded in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

7. The Panshan Mountain

The Panshan Mountain, a national 5A-level scenic spot, was once listed among the top 15 tourist attractions in China. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) visited the location more than 30 times, which has made it a must-see destination for both hikers and history lovers. The resort now also offers aerial trips on helicopters, charging 880 yuan ($130) per person for one trip.

8. The Ancient Cultural Street

The Ancient Cultural Street is a commercial strip filled with a wide variety of shops selling traditional folk handicrafts, including the Yangliuqing New Year paintings and the Niren Zhang painted sculptures. The 680-meter long street features buildings of traditional Chinese styles in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). In the center of the street stands an old opera tower, which can be traced back to the 15th century.

9. The Florentia Village Outlets

The Florentia Village Outlets, located on the outskirts of Tianjin, is a high-end mall featuring more than 200 outlet stores for fashion brands including Prada, Bvlgari, Celine, Chloe, Fendi and Jimmy Choo, among others. The outlets boast the “ultimate shopping experience” since its opening in 2011, with discounted prices all year round. It also features Italian-style architecture, as well as Italian and international cuisines.

Source: China Daily

CNN Travel readers list seven Thai dishes among Worlds 50 Best Foods

Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor said, “We’re thankful for all the votes – a testament to the already solid reputation of the Amazing Thai Taste, which is part of our foodie tourism initiative to motivate tourists and foodies to embark on a culinary journey to taste signature Thai dishes in renowned venues across Thailand as the way to explore Thainess through food.”

The latest CNN Travel World’s 50 Best Foods list was compiled based on the votes of 35,000 readers via a Facebook poll. The seven Thai dishes in the list are Tom Yum Kung in fourth place, Phat Thai (fifth), Som Tam Papaya Salad (sixth), Massaman Curry (10th), Green Curry (19th), Chicken Fried Rice (24th) and Mu Nam Tok or spicy minced pork salad (36th).

According to CNN Travel writer, Tim Cheung, the original World’s 50 Best Foods article, which was released in 2011 “stimulate some impassioned debate about the conspicuous lack of French dishes and the merits of ketchup over mayonnaise” and so the online publication “threw it open to a vote on a Facebook poll.”

Mr. Yuthasak said, “With seven Thai dishes voted into this influential list shows how Thai Cuisine is increasingly perceived as a world-class culinary experience and Thailand a great destination for foodie tourism.

TAT plays a large role in promoting Thai Cuisine through several initiatives, including launching the Amazing Thai Taste campaign in 2016, publishing several publications about Thai dishes and ingredients and the best places to find them, and sponsoring a large number of food based events around the world.

This year, TAT has entered into a partnership with Michelin Travel Partner to publish a Michelin Guide Bangkok as well as with Gault & Millau to publish a bilingual Thailand guidebook in the Gault & Millau Belux 2018 edition. In May 2018, Thailand will host the UNWTO Conference on Gastronomy Tourism.

RIVERSIDE THEATRES PRESENTS THE PREMIER ARTS FESTIVAL FOR CHILDREN

- SPOT ON CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL -

Riverside Theatres has compiled some of the best children’s entertainment from around the country for its sixth annual Spot On Children’s Festival, presented during the school holidays from 26th to 30th September.

The 2017 program is guaranteed to satisfy children who are bursting with curiosity, and their parents who are dreading finding the answers to endless questions! The jam-packed program of theatre, film, music and free events, will provide a smorgasbord of ideas, knowledge and inspiration to all!

Kicking off the program will be stories from the much-loved picture book character by Ted Prior, Grug and the Rainbow from Windmill Theatre Co. Featuring exquisite puppetry and gentle storytelling, this new show has been especially created for the littlest theatregoers (ages one to five) and those who just love Grug.

Crowd favourite, The Listies, will return to the Festival with their best-smelling book adapted for the stage, Ickypedia. This seriously silly show answers all of life’s unimportant questions, and mixes clowning, slapstick and improvised chaos with a bucket load of theatrical invention.

From Parramatta to China, audiences will embark on a magic journey with narrator and musician, Nicholas Ng. Combining stunning puppets, masks, sword dancing and live music from traditional Chinese instruments, The Descendants of the Dragon will delve into the classic Chinese myth of the dragons that live in the Eastern Ocean.

What happens when the sun and moon stay up all night together? The production Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon will attempt to find the answer with a star-spangled theatre rock party to delight audiences, with original music inspired by everything from folk to funk, disco and pop.

A visual spectacular will be on offer when Dislocate perform Curiosity, a theatrical collision between the worlds of Circus Oz, Dr Seuss and Alice in Wonderland! With aerial and acrobatic feats including chair balancing, stilts, ladder routines and original song and dance – this is a show not to be missed.

The much-loved Little Wing Puppets returns to Riverside to present the interactive production, A Little Bit of Blue, exploring the world of the iconic Australian Bowerbird through puppetry and clowning. While the gang from the hit ABC Kids television series will present their energetic and fun new show, SplashDance Live – Let’s Bop! featuring songs by the multi award-winning musical maestro, John Field (writer of more than 400 hits for The Wiggles).

Once again the Festival will screen a fantastic program of children’s films for the bargain ticket price of $10, including Beauty and the Beast Sing-A-Long, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, The Lego® Batman Movie and anime Wolf Children. The Festival’s program also includes a special screening of a live performance captured for the screen by Australian National Theatre Live, Rumpelstiltskin starring Paul Capsis.

In 2017, the Spot On Children’s Festival continues its dedication to relaxed performances which sees the traditional rules of theatre dismissed to cater for young audiences with anxiety or additional needs; as well as Auslan Interpreted and Audio Described performances, and Autism Spectrum guides. During relaxed performances, the theatre lights will be kept on, children can meet the performers before the show, and there are no rules on entering or leaving the theatre throughout the performance.

Rounding out the bumper Spot On program will be a variety of free activities including a dance-along radio show, Together Time Live! presented by Kinderling Kids Radio, a Courtyard Party with live bands, a reading tent presented by Parramatta Library, balloon twisters, face-painting, craft activities, a play gym, book tent and more.

The 2017 Spot On Children’s Festival program is available via the Riverside Theatres website at: rshow.biz/spoton17

Spot On Children’s Festival

Dates: 26th to 30th September
Tickets: Single Tickets Free to $26. Discounts available for Riverside Members and Families of 4. From the Box Office (02) 8839 3399 or www.riversideparramatta.com.au
Venue: Riverside Theatres – Corner of Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
Recommendation: Children aged 1-13 years

Full Program:

· Grug and the Rainbow – 10am and 12pm on 26 and 27 Sept
· The Listies Ickypedia – 10.30am and 1pm on 26 and 27 Sept
· Beauty and the Beast Sing-a-Long – 10.30am on 26 Sept
· Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul – 4.15pm on 26 Sept
· Rumpelstiltskin – 1.30pm on 26 Sept; 4pm on 30 Sept
· Together Time Live! – 11am on 26 Sept
· Parramatta Library’s Reading Tent – 9.30am to 2pm from 26 - 30 Sept
· Free Activities – 9.30am to 2pm from 26 - 30 Sept
· NIDA Open Spring Holiday Workshop – 10am to 4pm from 26 - 28 Sept
· Descendants of the Dragon – 10.15am and 12.30pm on 27 and 28 Sept
· Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon – 2pm on 28 Sept; 10am and 12.15pm on 29 Sept
· Curiosity – 2pm on 28 Sept; 10.30am and 1pm on 29 Sept
· Courtyard Party – 11.30am on 28 and 29 Sept
· A Little Bit of Blue – 10.15am and 12.30pm on 29 and 30 Sept
· SplashDance Live – Let’s Bop! – 10.30am on 30 Sept
· The Lego® Batman Movie – 11am on 30 Sept
· Wolf Children – 4pm on 30 Sept

Womens Journey Thailand 2017 Campaign launched to boost female visitors

H.E. Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul (centre, left),
Minister of Tourism and Sports,
and Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn (centre, right), TAT Governor,
joined by well-known celebrities and bloggers from all around the world
Fifty-six well-known women celebrities and bloggers from all around the world attended the Women’s Journey Thailand 2017 Campaign launched to boost female visitorsat a gala welcome reception at Nai Lert Heritage House in the heart of Bangkok.

Organised for the second year by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the event was presided over by H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, and joined by Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor. The month-long campaign is designed to attract international and local female travellers to visit Thailand and enhance the kingdom’s positive image as one of Asia’s most female friendly destinations.

The global female celebrities and bloggers appointed representatives of “The Lady Celebrities to Thailand” and “The Lady Bloggers to Thailand” projects who are in Thailand for the launch are Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015; So-Hyun Kim, a famous Korean actress; Tanya Sharma, an actress from India; two representatives of Nogizaga 46, a Japanese female idol group; Li Zhenying, Miss Universe China 2016; Anika Morjaria, a famous Indian moderator and presenter; Hadia Ghaleb, an Egyptian fashionista; Naeema Al Maqbali, an actress, moderator, and social media influencer; Oman; Ho Ngoc Ha, a singer, actress, and model, Vietnam; Vaniphone Phumexay, Miss Vientiane 2017; Ei Kywat Khaing, Miss Myanmar World 2017; Do My Linh, Miss Vietnam 2016; Esma Voloder, Miss World Australia 2017 and 4 runner-ups; Mary Ornborg, Editor in Chief, First Class Magazine, and Lottie Knutson, a Swedish journalist, photographer, and writer.

TAT has launched a special “Women’s Journey Thailand” mobile app, which can be downloaded after registering for the access code. Registrants will get a “Welcoming Package” including such “goodies” as a free welcome drink by Coffee World, 7-days free Sim Card with WiFi by DTAC, and 300 Baht discount by Grab Taxi.

They will also get:
– 20% discount at King Power Duty-free Shops (except the airport branch)
– Special airfare for the domestic sector, starting from 1,290 Baht by Bangkok Airways
– Special car rental fee by Thai Rent A Car (499 Baht/day)
– 500 Baht discount voucher by the Siam Discovery Department Store (for women visitors)
– Free ice-cream cone by McDonalds Thailand (only during August 2017)

Thailand has recorded a significant rise in female visitors over the past few years.

Mrs. Srisuda Wanapinyosak, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing – Asia and South Pacific said, “Today women are significant decision makers and influential with high-spending power. With a full range of products and services that can serve women’s needs, Thailand can definitely be the ideal destination. The Women’s Journey Thailand campaign will showcase how women travellers can enjoy these products and services at very attractive prices when they visit Thailand in August.”

TAT is launching many other activities as part of the campaign including the Lady Golf Challenge, Lady Celebrities to Thailand, Thailand through Her Eyes, Lady in Thai Fabrics, and Lady Bloggers.

TAT has also appointed Ms. Nattaya Boonchompaisarn, or Grace, the winner of The FACE Thailand Season 3, as an honorary representative to inspire female travelers all around the world to explore the variety of quality products and services the country has to offer for this segment.

TAT has classified the products and services for women travellers into seven categories: accommodation (hotels and resorts); health, beauty and spa services; shopping malls, dining and restaurants; recreation and entertainment; such as, theme parks; lifestyle activities; such as, handicraft workshops and fitness, and transportation services; such as, airlines and car rentals.

Full details regarding products, services and travel deals on the “Women’s Journey Thailand” website, please click: https://womensjourney.tourismthailand.org/

Download the special “Women’s Journey Thailand” mobile app at App Store and Play Store

PORT MACQUARIE SHOWCASED TO MORE THAN 665,000 ON INSTAGRAM

Port Macquarie has been showcased to potential visitors around the world, with seven leading Australian Instagram influencers visiting the region this week.

The campaign activity was secured by the State’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, in partnership with Port Macquarie Hastings Council.

The images will entice audiences to take a journey through the maze at Bago Vineyards, the hinterland village of Comboyne, Bago Bluff National Park, Camden Haven, Diamond Head National Park, Lighthouse Beach, Dunbogan Boatshed as well as the famous Town Beach.

HCM City among best cities for solo travel

Ho Chi Minh City is ranked second among 10 cities that are ideal for solo travel by the US-based online marketplace and hospitality service Airbnb.

Booking for single guests in HCM city has jumped by 146 percent since the start of 2017, according to the Airbnb. The city is viewed as a place of peace, hospitality and dynamism, with various types of service and reasonable prices.

International tourist arrivals to HCM City reached 2.8 million in the first half of this year, a 14.7 percent year-on-year increase, according to the municipal People’s Committee.

During the period, the city’s revenue from tourism services also saw a yearly rise of 12 percent to an estimated 53.61 trillion VND (2.35 billion USD).

Friday, 18 August 2017

Les Miserables - a great night at the theatre in Newcastle

Luke Baker (Marius)
Chloe Jeffrey-Williams (Cosette)
Stephanie Priest (Eponine) 
A 40 year anniversary is something special. The Metropolitan Players in Newcastle Australia are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year by doing something special. They are presenting Les Miserables, the musical inspired by the book written by Victor Hugo.

Les Miserables is the longest running musical on the West End theatre district in London and is the second longest running musical in the world.

I was fortunate to attend the opening charity night at he Civic Theatre last Wednesday with my two adult children enjoying the musical just as much as me. This was the first time I have seen a show at The Civic Theatre. What a gorgeous ornate theatre it is!

The singing and orchestra were great during this three hour show. The time went quickly as you became wrapped up in the story lines of the musical. The orchestra, in the orchestra pit under the stage, was not hidden away in darkness but was lit so that you could see the talented musicians.

Chris Maxfield, who played Valjean, was the standout star of the show with his superb singing and acting. He mastered his ageing on stage well as he recalled the events during his life up until his death.

Javert, the police comissionere was played by Simon Redhead. Simon acted well in his serious role and had a strong singing voice, but unfortunately it sometimes sounded harsh and distorted. Perhaps this was a bad positioning of his mic, or its volume being turned up too loud.

Luke Baker played Marius, the revolutionary fighter and young lover with sensitivity.

The three main female roles were well cast. Rachel Parish played Fantine, Stephanie Priest played Eponine and Chloe Jeffrey-Williams played Cosette. They all sang with sensitivity and passion and made the female characters very believable.

Light comic releif was provided by Thenardier, played by Tony Fletcher and Mme Thenardier, played by Annie Devine. The musical was quite sad in some places, moving some of the audience to tears, so these humorous moments brightened it up.

The three children in Les Miserables - Timothy Davies (Gavroche),  Frankie Parris (Young Cosette) Zamika Grant (Young Eponine) were excellent. The sang and acted way above their young years of age.

The male and female ensembles sang well together in their supporting roles. 

The sets were effective by their minimalisict style. Most of the action of Les Miserables took place on a dark stage with just a black wall as the background.. The large black revolving stage brought into view the few set pieces - a chair, a bed, a table, garden gates ....  Even though the revolving stage was round, this was not a theatre-in-the-round performance. The singers must remember to look less to the sides of the stage, or down into the orchestra pit, and more to where the audience is seated - out in front of them.

The featured set piece was the barricade that played an important role in the battle scene. It looked effective on stage, but its weigh proved to be a little too much for its swift sliding off stage when it was finished with. A bit of fine tuning will make its removal less distracting in future performances.

Lighting consisted mainly of spotlights shining down on the featured singers as they sang alone, with another person or in groups. There was no part of Les Miseables where the entire stage was brightly lit. Occasionally light patterns were projected onto the floor of the stage, and stars shone in the night sky.

Sound production was on the whole good, though there were a few occasions when mics were turned on a little late for the singers, or the volume was a bit too soft or too loud. I am sure these matters will be rectified in the upcoming performances.

The costumes and wigs looked really good and helped set the musical in the right French time period. The bright costumes contrasted well with the drab plain costumes.

The audience on the opening night loved this 40th anniversary production of Les Miserables. The production was a credit to all the singers, musicians and people behind the scenes. They all worked hard, perhaps a little too hard, to put on this great musical. All they need to do now is try and relax a little so that they enjoy the musical as much as the audience does.

Les Miserables is a must see musical for all who live in Newcastle. It is even worth the drive for those who live further afield.

The Metropolitan Players are to be congratulated on this 40th anniversary production of Les Miserables.

Les Miserables

When:  Fri 18th Aug 8pm,  Sat 19th Aug 2pm , Sat 19th Aug 8pm,  Sun 20th Aug 2pm,  Wed 23rd Aug 8pm,  Fri 25th Aug 8pm,  Sat 26th Aug 2pm,  Sat 2 6th Aug 8pm. 
Where: Civic Theatre 375 Hunter St., Newcastle
Cost: Adult $66.30; Junior/Conc/Student $56.10 ; Groups 8+ $58.15

StellaLou, Duffy’s Newest Friend, Dances Her Way to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

Dancers, dreamers and Duffy fans – I’m delighted to share an update that Duffy’s newest friend, StellaLou, has danced her way to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. This little lavender rabbit with cute ears and starry eyes has been delighting guests at Tokyo DisneySea since Duffy first met herin front of the S.S. Columbia at American Waterfront, where StellaLou told Duffy her dream of becoming a dancer on Broadway.

Starting today, StellaLou will join her friends at Hong Kong Disneyland in the photo zone of Main Street Cinema: My Journeys with Duffy – Presented by Fujifilm to share her dream of becoming a dancer with guests of all ages.

To welcome StellaLou, more than 150 new and exclusive plush toys, stationary, pins, accessories and more are being introduced, along with specially themed food and beverage items. Personally, I can’t wait to try the StellaLou Steamed Sweet Purple Potato Bun served at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel’s Crystal Lotus restaurant. It sounds delicious!

Join us in welcoming StellaLou, and keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more from Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

Australian tourists spending more than ever before in Queensland

Australian domestic overnight travellers are spending more than ever before in Queensland pumping $15.3 billion into the state economy.

Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones said the latest Tourism Research Australia data released today showed continuing strong growth in visitor numbers and expenditure.

“The growth we have seen in expenditure of 5.8 per cent is nearly double the growth rate of New South Wales,” Ms Jones said.

“More Australians are choosing to holiday in Queensland with close to half of our domestic market expenditure – $7 billion – coming from people holidaying in the state.

“Australians know just the place to holiday – here in Queensland with our unique experiences, natural wonders, world-class events and unbeatable hospitality.

“In the year to March we saw Australians take more than 21 million trips to Queensland over the past year, a growth of 4.3 per cent, exceeding the national average of 3.1 per cent.

“Those visitors stayed a total of 83 million nights, up 5 per cent.”

Ms Jones said business visitors to Queensland grew more than 10 per cent and business expenditure up by almost 5 per cent.

“The strong growth we are seeing in our business travel to Queensland is a strong vote of confidence in our state economy and a strong sign of state’s growing capacity to provide exceptional business events,” she said.

“Business travellers are looking for much more than just a venue, they are looking for the whole package in terms of location, experience and hospitality – and Queensland delivers in spades in all of these areas.”

Queensland has also seen 5.2 per cent growth in the number of travellers visiting friends and family to 7.39 million.

Regional Queensland performed well, with about three quarters of expenditure in Queensland coming from outside Brisbane.

The latest National Visitor Survey (NVS) results are available on the Tourism Research Australia website at www.tra.gov.au

Silk Road International Tourism Festival in Gansu


The Seventh Dunhuang Tour on the Silk Road International Tourism Festival was held in Gansu Province this June. The festival was co-hosted by China National Tourism Administration and Gansu Province, guided by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and has been successfully staged for seven consecutive years since 2011. 

 Leaders from international tourism organizations and China National Tourism Administration have attended the each of the past sessions, and each festival has attracted more than two hundred tourism administrators, tourist agencies, and journalists from overseas. The festival, offering a diversity of spectacular and practical attractions and information, has become an international platform to promote international tourism cooperation.

The Seventh Dunhuang Tour on the Silk Road International Tourism Festival was held in Yongjing County, Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province from 19th to 20th June, 2017. The main activities included: opening ceremony, 2017 Silk Road International Tourism Promotion Night, “Glamorous River, Colorful Linxia” Light Show, Silk Road International Tourism Exposition, Silk Road International Travel Agencies Conference and technical tour, and more. 

In attendance were many administrators of international tourism organizations, tourism officials of the countries along the Silk Road, and representatives from across the tourism industry in and outside China.

Tourism Authority of Thailand scores big with Tuk Tuk at Hungarian Formula 1

At the Formula 1 race in Budapest, Hungary in July 2017, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) displayed an icon of Thailand – a 34-year-old Tuk Tuk that had been driven from Bangkok to Prague.

Mr. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications said, “This little tuk-tuk was fondly nicknamed ‘the Beast’ by the Hungarian media given her age, history and stamina, and the sheer crowd-appeal was well beyond our expectations.”

“This Tuk-tuk and the man that drove her across two continents, Mr. Martin Mĕchura, is a highlight of the Hungarian F1 Village. The Amazing Thailand Pit Stop design that we have created in this, our fourth F1 event, evidently works well,” he added.

“I was so happy to see so many European F1 fans coming up to our team at the Amazing Thailand Pit Stop at Hungarian Formula 1 expressing not only their delight that we were there but also sharing their stories of their travels to the Kingdom,” said Mr. Chattan.

Mr. Martin Mĕchura, who hails from the Czech Republic, received a round of applause when he started up the tuk-tuk after an 18-month hiatus.

The appearance of the Thai vehicle at the F1 was to promote the fun of driving in Thailand, as well as underlining the uniqueness of Thai culture and the Thai way of life, which always contain an element of fun and relaxation.

FUSION OF RIVERINA ART & FOOD

Griffith restaurant Limone Dining will host a special art series event this September to celebrate the forthcoming exhibition of local sculptor, Hape Kiddle.

Stories, process and inspirations will be shared directly from the artist and chef as diners experience an exclusive first look at the artworks while enjoying a thoughtful and interactive flow of fine food and service.

The art series dinners are being offered over four nights from 26 to 29 September, ahead of the official exhibition opening on Saturday, 30 September.

Click here for more details.

World News Vietnamese wins prize at int’l flycam photography contest

Vietnamese photographer Le Thai Duong, nicknamed helios1412, won second prize in the category “People” in the International Drone Photography Contest, an annual competition for flycam photography enthusiasts around the world.

The organizing committee has announced winners of the fourth contest on its website (www.dronestagr.am). Duong’s photo “Waterlily” depicts a woman harvesting water lilies in a pond in the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu.

The panel of judges comprises Patrick Witty, deputy director of National Geographic Magazine, and photo editors of the magazine.

Held for the first time in 2014, this year’s drone contest received thousands of entries in the Nature, People, Urban and Creativity categories from professional and amateur photographers from around the world.