Sunday, 29 November 2020


Ever wondered about the story behind the design of Sydney Opera House?

Visitors now have the chance to learn from those who know it best. 

Sydney Opera House has introduced a new range of tours including the Architectural Tour, which will give visitors the opportunity to discover how Danish architect Jørn Utzon dreamed up its iconic shape, which in Frank Gehry’s words, 'changed the image of an entire country.' 

This special tour will operate on Fridays and Saturdays from 4-19 December. 

Visitors are encouraged to purchase tour tickets in advance online. 

For those unable to visit Sydney Opera House in person, the organisation is offering a Guided Digital Tour via Zoom, which runs for 45 minutes, three times every Monday. 

Find out more and book here


Saturday, 28 November 2020

The 1st Destination Mekong Summit

The 1st Destination Mekong Summit was a great success this year with many interesting sessions with speakers from the public and private sectors.

Recordings of the sessions, including the Chapter 3 panel discussion with Minister of Tourism of Cambodia H.E. Dr. Thong Khon, Vice Chairman of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism H.E. Dr. Ha Van Sieu and former Director-General of Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lao PDR Mr. Soun Manivong to learn how governments continue to support businesses and mitigate job losses and what are some of the effective recovery measures and policies put in place by Greater Mekong Subregion governments. The session was moderated by Mr. Steven Schipani from the Asian Development Bank.

All sessions are available on the event website at

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
c/o 3rd Floor, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 154 Rama 1 Road National Stadium, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: +66 2038 5071-1
Mobile: +66 8555 44234, +66 8098 95853

Banwa wins ‘Private Island of the Year’ in Destination Deluxe Awards 2020

From a shortlist of the most exceptional private islands in the world, Banwa is delighted to have been chosen as the Winner of the 2020 Destination Deluxe Award for ‘Private Island of the Year’.

This prestigious award, judged by a panel of highly respected industry experts, is testament to Banwa’s vision for creating unparalleled guest experiences in a remote yet luxurious setting.

Located in Northern Palawan within a marine protected area, Banwa is home to an abundance of rare and vivid flora and fauna.

Our 6.5 hectare island has six magnificent beach-front villas, each with their own infinity pool providing the utmost in privacy and tranquility. World-class amenities include a stunning open kitchen restaurant and terrace bar, a spa pavilion featuring floodlit tennis court, gym, massage suite, Pilates/yoga studio and juice bar. There’s a dive centre and short-game golf course too.

Vivienne Tang, Founder & CEO of Destination Deluxe commented “We’re thrilled to celebrate Banwa as this year’s winner in the ‘Private Island of the Year’ category. Banwa’s sought-after exclusivity is more timely and important than ever. Being able to experience Palawan’s untouched natural environment is something we all dearly long for, and a getaway on this beautiful and luxurious private island sanctuary should be on everyone’s bucket list for next year!”

Guests can opt to stay in any one of Banwa’s six beachfront villas or, for the ultimate friends and family escape, the entire island can be chartered on an ‘exclusively yours’ basis.

Island capacity for 2021 is 22 guests, with a range of individual private villa accommodation to suit couples and families alike. Short-hop heli transfers from nearby Puerto Princesa airport make for a stunning guest arrival experience on the Banwa Lawns, after a 1-hour flight from Manila.

CEO Peter Nilsson greeted the announcement as a significant endorsement of Banwa’s values, commenting “This award acknowledges the importance of privacy and tranquility in today’s luxury travel sector. We pledge to provide exceptional personalised guest experiences within our informal and intimate island sanctuary, whereby the genuine care and wellbeing of our guests is our ultimate priority”.

Banwa is set to re-open pending the easing of travel restrictions in early 2021.


MCEC Return of Events On Site

Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre (MCEC)
The Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre (MCEC) is now welcoming people back to our beloved centre for live events and experiences. 

In line with the Victorian Government’s Public Events Framework, events in our venue can now proceed under the following conditions.


o   Events at MCEC are currently limited to 25 per cent of the venue’s seating capacity, up to a maximum of 250 people seated.

o   A density limit of one person per four square metres applies to non-fixed seated areas.

o   Free-standing events are not permitted for the time being.

o   Event capacity will increase over time subject to public health advice, in line with the framework and future easing of restrictions. Visit the Public Events Framework for the latest Victorian Government advice on public events.


We’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to make our customers next experience at MCEC memorable and safe.


VenueSafe Plan

We have implemented a range of public health, hygiene and physical distancing measures under our new VenueSafe Plan to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees, customers, contractors and suppliers. Every event in the building will also be required to have its own COVIDsafe plan


These measures include: 

-          We have VenueSafe advisors within the business, to work alongside employees, customers and contractors to ensure that MCEC and government health measures are followed.

-          We’re only open to events and delegates in attendance. It will not be possible to use MCEC as a public thoroughfare to the surrounding precinct.

-          Entry and exit points will be reduced to allow for health check stations at each point, including hand sanitising and temperature checks.

-          Frequency of routine cleaning has already increased across the venue.

-          Signage has been prominently displayed to indicate 1.5 metre physical distancing and hygiene practices; and

-          All employees will receive training on coronavirus (COVID-19) safety and sanitisation protocols.  


Different times call for different events

While the world paused, we hit play on Virtual Events, and now we have dedicated studios from which we can run virtual events.


We recently transformed our exhibition bays into a film studio for a Hollywood blockbuster starring Liam Neeson. We also partnered with Guide Dogs Australia to use the venue as a training space for guide dogs and supporting Victorians with vision impairment or blindness through Melbourne’s period of restrictions.  


And it doesn’t end there! We have a number of exciting activations planned over the coming months and we will share more details with you as we’re able to. 


MCEC is more than an incredible event space. We partner with our customers to deliver unique experiences.


It will still be some time before we can return to the level of activity we’re used to in our building. But this is a positive step.


We continue to work behind the scenes to bring more activity to our centre and will keep you informed as we know more.



Readers: just when you thought you had seen everything, the Blue Mountains has a new attraction - Dinosaur Valley. 

Step back in time with this exclusive experience at Scenic World, which explores the Jurassic period. Visitors will meet dozens of life-sized dinosaurs among the ancient rainforest, join Dino Rangers on a 90-minute tour to learn fun facts about the prehistoric creatures, before wrapping up the adventure on board the world’s steepest railway. 

Dinosaur Valley, which is back by popular demand after much acclaim in 2018, will open on 26 November. 

Due to physical distancing requirements, capacity is limited with entry via timed tickets, booked online only. 

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.


Friday, 27 November 2020

Limited Ticket Release for Sydney New Year's Eve Fireworks

Want the best seat in the house as the eyes of the world turn to Sydney Harbour to farewell 2020 and bring in the long-awaited New Year? Captain Cook Cruises has just released a limited number of tickets onboard the MV Sydney 2000 to see the amazing fireworks display up close. There may never be a better year to cross this once in a lifetime experience off your bucket list.

Sydney's New Year's Eve midnight fireworks are going ahead but with the prime vantage spots on the foreshore only available to NSW frontline workers. Only residents and those with confirmed bookings at hospitality venues, will be allowed into Circular Quay, North Sydney and the City. Captain Cook Cruises has released a strictly limited number of New Year's Eve cruises for 2020 with tickets on sale now.

The Sydney 2000 is the largest vessel in the Captain Cook Cruises fleet with three restaurant decks offering live music, food, drinks and Veuve Clicquot Champagne at midnight from $699 per person. The Ocean Deck's newly refurbished lounge-bar with canapés and drinks is a great option for those who enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. Move up the decks and the menu, wines and views become more indulgent, culminating in a 5-course dinner, superior wines, spirits, liqueurs and magnificent views from the Sky Deck.

Captain Cook Cruises also has tickets available onboard John Cadman 2 and Captain Cook 3 from $599 per person. Both cruises include a premium 4-course menu, open bar of still and sparkling wine, local and imported beers and live music. Spacious interiors, huge picture windows and extensive outdoor decks are features of both vessels to see the fireworks in all their colourful glory.

For those looking for a more casual celebration, pack a picnic, bring your own drinks and see in the New Year on a Rocket Ferry. These catamaran ferries are also a fabulous way to celebrate the start of 2021 from only $299 per person.

All vessels depart from Darling Harbour, King St Wharf 1 and return approximately 1:00am. The premium vessels Sydney 2000, John Cadman 2 and Captain Cook 3 board at 8:00pm and depart at 8:30pm. Casual Rocket Ferries board at 9:00pm and depart at 9:30pm.

Captain Cook Cruises Sydney Harbour is a Covid-Safe vessel operator and restaurant. For further information and bookings call +61-2-9206 1111 or visit

Social Media #captaincookcruises

Captain Cook Cruises Sydney is part of the SeaLink Travel Group

Find Your Shine in Townsville North Queensland

Townsville Enterprise, the official regional tourism organisation for Townsville North Queensland has officially launched a new marketing campaign to shine the spotlight on a host of new travel and accommodation packages encouraging locals and visitors to find their shine in the region this summer after a challenging 2020.

Targeted at Queenslanders, and those within Australia who are able to travel, the 'Find Your Shine' campaign aims to support the local tourism and hospitality industry with a suite of tailored holiday packages to suit all tastes. The summer months are traditionally a quieter period for Townsville North Queensland's visitor numbers which is why a new marketing strategy has been undertaken in close partnership with local operators.

With another school holiday period quickly approaching across Christmas and New Year, Townsville Enterprise Visitor Economy & Marketing Director, Lisa Woolfe said attention had turned to the dedicated summer campaign heavily focused on conversion through bookings at

“With international travel off the table there has never been a better time to get out and explore Townsville North Queensland, or even rediscover the region and create new memories with family and friends,” said Ms Woolfe.

“With spectacular weather, world-class natural assets and some incredible deals on offer, experiencing our region will not only provide the opportunity to connect with loved ones, but support an industry that needs it now more than ever.”

All-inclusive packages range from family getaways cuddling koalas and snorkelling with marine life, diving the Museum of Underwater Art, exploring and learning all about a World Heritage-Listed rainforest, wetting a line on the ultimate fishing experience at the Great Barrier Reef, or wooing that special someone with a fully catered secluded beach picnic or a sunset sail.

All packages can be booked at the new-look destination website which has undergone a complete makeover, including an interactive trip planner to build customised itineraries.

Ms Woolfe said the aim of the campaign was to help reignite some joy for families after an exceptionally difficult 2020.

“We've been working closely with industry to develop deals to get families back to experience the best of our backyard in an affordable way, as well as offering experiences to attract visitors from outside the region and Queensland to explore a new destination,” said Ms Woolfe.

“The campaign is a reminder that you don't have to go far to experience a memorable holiday and that Townsville North Queensland is a place where our people, our landscapes and our experiences can help visitors and locals find their shine again after a COVID-19 impacted year.”

Key dates:
Booking dates: 16 November – 18 December 2020
Travel dates: 7 December 2020 – 28 February 2021

For more holiday deals and packages visit

Find Your Shine Quiz

With a new-look modern website, Townsville North Queensland's new Find Your Shine Quiz leads visitors through a series of four questions to find their ultimate holiday itinerary. It's a fun and easy way to find the perfect holiday for you, based on your interests, travel type and transport preference.

Come on, join us! Let us help you find your shine in Townsville North Queensland!

Interactive 'My Trip' Planner

Townsville North Queensland's new-look website also makes holiday planning a breeze, with the new 'Favourites' and 'My Trip Planner' functionality. All active listings on the webpage – from activities, places to stay and road trips – can be added to a Favourites list and customized into personal AND bookable* multi-day itineraries. These itineraries can be shared on social media, or to friends and family by email!
*If product is connected to sales platform. Subject to availability.



Tags: #Travel, #Domesticholidays, #Queensland, #Townsville, #holidaypackage

Opera Australia Returns to Uluru for 2021

Opera Australia will be returning to Uluru, the spiritual heart of Australia, in September 2021 with four magnificent performances planned across one weekend with the spectacular Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Bruce Munro's Field of Light Uluru as the backdrop.

This will be Opera Australia's second performance at Uluṟu, partnering with Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, having captivated audiences with its inaugural concert in November 2019. A return visit was planned in 2020 but had to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The event will be held under the stars from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 September 2021 and will provide guests with the opportunity to hear some of the world's finest music performed in a uniquely Australian setting.

Opera Australia Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini AM, who will host the weekend said: "Opera Australia is thrilled to be teaming up with Voyages and returning to Uluṟu in 2021 with an expanded program. Our first concert there last year proved such a success, we knew we were onto something really special. We were really touched by the feedback we received from guests who were visibly moved by the experience.

"We wanted to build on those foundations and create more opportunities for guests to experience the combination of the majestic Australian landscape and the exquisite talent of our performers. I'm particularly looking forward to the intimate, ethereal sunrise performances in the dunes near the Field of Light, these will be memories that will last a lifetime.”

In 2021, guests will be able to curate their own musical journey by choosing from a range of packages and stand-alone concerts.

The weekend begins on Friday night with an open-air Welcome Dinner, highlighting native bush ingredients, and will feature a performance of sublime arias from the final act of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. The event will take place among the expansive ghost gums at Sails in the Desert.

Two exceptional, intimate dawn performances for only 90 people each will leave guests awestruck as the sun rises over the horizon and bathes Uluru in the morning light. On Saturday, guests can enjoy four of Opera Australia's finest singers and a string quartet performing a selection of Brahms' most beautiful love songs, the Liebeslieder Waltzes.

And, on Sunday morning celebrated soprano and accomplished cellist, Taryn Fiebig, will enthral guests with a captivating recital, performing a selection of songs on her cello.

During what will surely be the high point for the weekend, the Gala Concert on Saturday evening will include a performance of famous arias from Bizet, Puccini, Rossini, Verdi and more, accompanied by a chamber orchestra conducted by Tahu Matheson.

As the sun sets over the desert backdrop, the evening will be illuminated by the spellbinding colours of celebrated artist, Bruce Munro's critically acclaimed Field of Light Uluru's 50,000 glass spheres. The weekend of performances offers a totally unique way to experience the global art phenomenon, which opened at Ayers Rock Resort in 2016.

Matthew Cameron-Smith, CEO of Voyages, said: “The return of Opera Australia to Uluru in 2021 will give people something to look forward to after such a difficult year. These extraordinary performances will be a true feast for the senses, combining one of the most iconic Australian landscapes with Opera Australia's awe-inspiring music and the magic of Field of Light Uluru.”

“We know that our guests are drawn time and time again to the magic of Uluru, and that they want to engage in a range of experiences that allow them to gain a deeper enjoyment of the destination, which is why we have worked hard to enable Opera Australia to return to perform in the spiritual heart of Australia,” added Cameron-Smith.

Tickets to the Saturday evening Gala Concert can be purchased as part of a two or three-night package with prices starting from $825.00 per person twin-share, including accommodation at Ayers Rock Resort, return airport transfers and in-room Wi-Fi. Tickets to the three other performances can be purchased individually ranging from $315.00 - $595.00 per person.

For more information go to or call 1300 134 044.

A video of last year's performance can be found at



The Virgin Australia Group entered an exciting new chapter last week, exiting voluntary administration after completing the sale to new owner Bain Capital. 

The Group’s new CEO and Managing Director, Jayne Hrdlicka, formally commenced in the role and outlined the company’s future vision. 

Ms Hrdlicka noted the airline would target passengers in the middle of the market who want a more premium experience at an affordable and competitive rate. 

Virgin Australia will also undertake a review of its business class offering and in-flight WiFi and entertainment, new self-service and assisted check-in and baggage drop facilities, as well as a network of lounges across major airports.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

How British Columbia Leads the World in Sustainability

With the United Nations declaring 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, Canada's western province of British Columbia continues to blaze a trail for prioritising environmental initiatives and inclusive economic growth and innovation.

Cities throughout British Columbia have introduced pioneering initiatives ranging from Canada's first net zero multi-unit residential building to recognition as the first biosphere destination in the Americas.

Olympic Village, Vancouver

Vancouver, a model for sustainable urban planning, is on track to become the Greenest City in the world. With the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions of any major city in North America, Vancouver runs on more than 90 percent renewable energy, thanks to the city's large supply of hydroelectricity.

Olympic Village, Canada's first net zero multi-unit residential building, uses solar heating, green roofs and other systems that cultivate an energy-efficient ecosystem where people live, work, play and learn.

From kayaking False Creek and checking out the Craft Beer Market, to riding the Aquabus mini-ferry to bustling Granville Island, visitors to the Olympic Village have much to explore.

Thompson Okanagan Valley

British Columbia's Thompson Okanagan region, famous for its world-class wineries and progressive culinary scene, achieved recognition as the first “biosphere destination” in the Americas, a certification awarded by the Responsible Tourism Institute, recognising the quality, environmental sustainability and social responsibility of the region as a tourism destination.

Recently, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) became a founding signatory with the Future of Tourism Coalition, an international coalition set on shaping the future of tourism by cultivating healthy, inclusive communities and environmental stewardship.

Whether scaling the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, wine tasting at one of over 200 wineries in Canada's only desert, or cross-country skiing along snowy winter trails, visitors can't get enough of this this beautiful, natural outdoor playground.

Great Bear Rainforest

Along the coast of British Columbia lies the largest tract of unspoiled temperate rainforest on Earth, the Great Bear Rainforest.

Local First Nations, government, environmental groups and forest companies have collaborated to maintain ecological integrity and human wellbeing of the 6.4-million-hectare ecosystem – an initiative that protects 85 percent of the forest, while creating economic opportunities for indigenous communities and providing sustainable harvesting for forest companies.

The magical Princess Royal Island in the Great Bear Rainforest is not only home to a healthy population of grizzlies, but also the rare Kermode (Spirit) bear, a sub-species of black bear found only in this part of the world carrying a recessive gene that gives them a naturally white coat.

Companies operated by the local Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nations people in the nearby village of Klemtu offer tours to view the bears, while two floating lodges in the vicinity, Knight Inlet Lodge and Great Bear Lodge, also offer grizzly bear-viewing tours from spring through autumn.

Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island

The village of Cowichan Bay, on the coast of Vancouver Island, is North America's first Cittaslow (Italian/English for 'slow city') community. The movement, founded in 1999, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in small towns (fewer than 50,000 residents), slowing down the overall pace and flow of traffic through them.

Cowichan Bay is dedicated not only to keeping the pace of life reasonable, but to working with First Nations and industry to re-establish much that has been lost in the way of culture and sustainable living in the area. For example, although the bay is no longer a source of harvestable marine life due to industrial activity, the local Cittaslow folk intend to reverse that trend.

This tiny region is a Canadian culinary hot spot, priding itself on producing artisan fare, such as all-natural, locally produced ice cream, locally-caught, sustainable seafood, breads made from Vancouver Island-grown grain, cheese created with locally-produced milk and regionally-cultivated wines and spirits.

Canada looking forward to welcoming Australian visitors once more when the time is right, guided by health regulations and clear border guidelines. Click here for COVID-19 updates.