Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Improved Roads For Better Quality Tourist Experiences in Philippines

The Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), led by secretaries Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. and Rogelio L. Singson, entered into a memorandum of agreement on January 19, 2012 at the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros to build roads that directly connect to such vital infrastructures like international gateways (airports, seaports, road network or a combination of these), town service centers where a cluster of hotels, restaurants, travel and tour services and other related services abounds. This will pave the way towards building better quality tourist experiences and enhance access to vital destinations

This was the announcement made by of the Central Luzon regional office in a press statement issued recently.

Regional Director Ronaldo P. Tiotuico said that an action planning conference was held on January 19-20, 2012 among regional executives of DOT and DPWH together with some partner NGOs and tourism councils. This conference fleshed out the directives contained in the agreement by prioritizing tourism road infrastructure projects (TRIP) located in the twenty one (21) tourism development areas (TDAs) identified in the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP 2011-2016). A TDA is defined as an area covered by a single LGU that has already an existing or emerging tourist center but which lacks road infrastructure support leading to places most frequently visited by tourists.

This is just the first step in achieving the goal of generating 10 million visitors in 2016, Tiotuico said. Many more projects are forthcoming.

The conference was hosted by USAID, Asia Foundation and facilitated by REID Foundation. Based on the agreement, DOT identifies these tourism road projects while DPWH builds. The timetable for this project is between 2013 up to 2016.

A new set of criteria has been established to serve as the basis for identifying these projects in the regions. Priority will be given to those tourism development areas which have already an existing gateway like an airport or seaport, and are served by a service center clustered by hotels, dining facilities, among other services. Priority will also be granted to tourist centers which generate a significant number of visitors and are supported by an ample supply of rooms and services.

In Central Luzon alone, and in accordance with the NTDP conclusions, its TDAs consist of Subic-Clark-Tarlac corridor, Pampanga, Bulacan, Bataan coast and inland, Zambales coast, Nueva Ecija and Aurora. Based on data gathered from the local tourism offices, these areas have already existing gateways and are served by a host of vital tourism services while the volume of visitor arrivals has become significant to warrant priority consideration in the program with a significant number of hotel rooms to support such development. 

The tourism development for the region is centered on the current and future development of Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) which is expected to be the premiere gateway to the world. At present, it generates monthly inbound travel for some 30,000 passengers - half of which are foreign visitors. At present, its existing passenger terminal can accommodate 2.5 million passenger movements but once the second phase of the terminal is completed this year, its holding capacity will reach 10 million.

On the other hand, the volume of domestic visitor arrivals in the entire region has reach the one millionth mark based on statistics gathered by LGUs - 50% of which is generated by both Clark and Subic.

The tourism road infrastructure project is expected to interlink all the provinces in Central Luzon to the gateway in Clark. In so doing, DOT is optimistic that it will increase visitor traffic in all the provinces, bolster the economic development of the entire region and at the same time create more jobs for all.

The final draft of the project for Central Luzon is expected to be formally submitted to DPWH by April 9, 2012 for inclusion in their 2013 work program. Meanwhile local tourism offices in the region are enjoined to sit down together and identify their priority tourism road projects based on the list articulated in the NTDP.

The members of the panel for Central Luzon include Dir. Antonio Molano, Jr. and Sergio Dizon of DPWH-RIII, Dir. Ronaldo Tiotuico and Sol Tayson of DOT-RIII, President Frankie Villanueva and Chairman Tito Lazatin of the Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (MACCII), Linda Pamintuan of Subic Clark Alliance for Development Council (SCADC), Christine Nunag and Rico Suarez of Angeles City Tourism Office.

Accra Beach Hotel in Barbados to be Re-developed

Having recently completed a US$1.5 million refurbishment of its guest rooms and suites, the Accra Beach Hotel in Barbados has announced plans to redevelop its meetings and events facilities later in 2012.

Actively targeting the meetings and incentive market, the remodel will encompass all 6,500 square foot of the hotel’s existing meeting and events space, which incorporates four large meeting and events venues and a dedicated boardroom.

“Both the size and the locale of the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa make it an attractive option for meeting and event planners considering Barbados. The resort spans over 3.5 acres with 224 professionally appointed guest rooms and suites, dedicated meeting and events space, a spa and fitness centre and five restaurants and bars,” explained Jon Martineau, the resort’s general manager. During 2012, our objective is to ensure that as Barbados continues to grow as a MICE destination.”

Malaysia's Action Packed Year of Events anf Festivals

Tourism Malaysia will focus its global marketing efforts on promoting events and festivals taking place in the country this year, with a first-of-its-kind Malaysia International Tourism Exchange (MITE) to be a calendar heavyweight.

Tourism Malaysia acting director general Azizan Noordin said: “We will be concentrating on marketing the year’s events under the umbrella brand of Luxury Malaysia.

“Our strategy will involve participating in international travel trade fairs and seminars, public relations and advertising activities, and organising hosted fam trips for foreign travel consultants and media.”

About 40 per cent of its total marketing budget of RM130 million (US$41.5 million) has been set aside to do this.

Under the initiative, Malaysia will promote events such the Kuala Lumpur International Shoe Festival, the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak and the ASEAN Food Heritage Trail. Key highlights of the year are the 61st PATA Conference from April 20-22 and MITE 2012 from May 31-June 3.

To be held at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang, MITE 2012 will span five halls: an international hall, a Malaysia hall, an Asian hall, a China hall, a B2C hall and a hall featuring Asian cuisine. Up to 600,000 visitors and 1,500 exhibitors from 25 countries are expected.

Norman Kumar, group deputy CEO of the event orgainser, Myevents International, said: “The concept is a tourism exchange, not a fair. It will bring Malaysia to the world, and the world to Malaysia.”

He added: “It is definitely on a bigger scale compared to ATF or ITB Asia, which focuses on bringing overseas traffic to ASEAN and Asia respectively. MITE has a focus on ASEAN, with Asia as a bigger picture, and the globe as the overall picture.”

In 2012, Malaysia is targeting 24.5 million overseas arrivals and RM58 billion in tourism receipts.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Vietnam Highlights Tour

7 Days Australia l Saigon l Mekong Delta l Hanoi l Halong Bay l Australia, flying Thai Airways. From $2198/p.p.

The exciting tour shows you the highlights of Vietnam. It starts in Saigon to experience the contrasting of this bustling city and tranquillity countryside of the Mekong Delta with colourful culture, and ends in in Hanoi to discover the elegant architecture and fascinating Vietnam history with a scenic cruise at World Natural Heritage of Halong Bay on an overnight Junk boat.

The inclusions: Return international airfares with Thai Airways, centrally located hotels, listed meals, English speaking guide, all transfers in A/C vehicle, overnight cruise boat, 1 domestic flight, sightseeing and entrance fees.

Itinerary:   (B = Breakfast, L= Lunch, D = Dinner)
Day 1 Australia / Saigon
Fly with Thai Airways to Saigon, upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Day 2 Mekong Delta
Morning explore the lush countryside of the Mekong Delta, the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam. Cruise waterways, stopping at abundant orchards to taste exotic fruits and to learn how to make delicious coconut candies, later afternoon walking tour of historic Dong Khoi Street, and then visit the Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Enjoy a river cruise dinner along the Saigon River (B/D)

Day 3 Saigon / Hanoi
Today explore Saigon’s famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an amazing underground network of tunnels which stretches over hundreds of kilometres. You’ll have the opportunity to crawl in a section of the tunnels to learn how the brave men and women of Cu Chi built underground hospitals, kitchens and meeting rooms during their struggle for a unified Vietnam. Afternoon flight to the capital city of Hanoi, upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel (B/D)

Day 4  Hanoi / Halong Bay
Morning visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and explore his former home, the House of Stilts and the One Pillar Pagoda, before sit back and enjoy your first view of the northern countryside as we drive to Halong Bay - one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. Sail among thousands of limestone islands rising mystically from the water, explore caves and grottos and relax on the beach.  Stay overnight on the traditional junk boat. (B/L/D)

Day 5 Halong Bay
Morning cruise, take a wooden boat to explore caves and spot monkeys, after a lunch, return to Hanoi, wander through the streets of the fascinating Old Quarter, visit the ancient Temple of Literature and infamous Hanoi Hilton, enjoy local specialty dinner and an evening water puppet performance. (B/D)

Day 6 Hanoi / Australia
Spend your leisure time before transfer to the airport for your flight back to Australia (B)

Day 7 Arrive Australia

Prices from:
3* Hotels: $2198/per person twin share
4* Hotels: $2395/per person twin share
Inclusions: Vietnam  visa, travel insurance, tips and personal expenses.

Must book and fully payment before 25th Feb-2012
Price is subject to change based on the international flight seats availability
Travel period from March to April , 2012
Depart from Sydney or Melbourne. Departure from Melbourne will arrive Saigon on the next morning.

For enquiries or bookings, please call 1300 760 208, or email info@selectivetours.com

More Needed to be Done for Sustainalbe Tourism

Greater effort can be made to reduce poverty and support sustainable local economic development in destination communities by the travel and tourism sector, said 70% of respondents to a survey conducted at last year’s World Travel Market (WTM) among 200 travel industry professionals.

The study was conducted by exhibitor SustainIt, a software and data consultancy that specialises in sustainability performance. Respondents came from a variety of businesses, including hoteliers, airlines, resorts and tourist attractions, only 18% of which had sustainable supply chains and procurement policies in place.

An increasing number of businesses offer their customers carbon offsets, but only 26% of respondents said their companies were looking at their own carbon footprint. Meanwhile, six out of 10 felt their company could do more to promote sustainability overall, with nearly a third (29%) not knowing if they had any targets or objectives to meet in these areas.

When WTM delegates were asked to identify the key responsible tourism issue for 2012, ‘increasing employee and customer engagement on sustainability, was the most popular, with only 29% believing their company is doing enough to promote sustainability and responsible travel/tourism to its employees and customers.

These two statistics coincide to unveil that the industry is informed and aware of sustainability on one hand, but has a lack of employee and customer engagement on the other hand.

“Our survey shows that while there is increasing activity and concern around sustainable and responsible travel and tourism within the trade, many employees are not aware of what their own company is trying to achieve and, therefore, are unable to share it with their customers,” said SustainIT managing director Charlie Stockford.

“We really hope that 2012 is a year where businesses start communicating and engaging far more with their employees about their sustainability and responsible travel programmes, and that those companies that are just starting out realise the real positive impact a good sustainability programme can make to both their profitability and to the future of our planet.”

Commenting on the findings, Reed Travel Exhibitions’ chairman of World Travel Market and pioneer of responsible tourism Fiona Jeffery explained that the observations revealed were the key reasons why WTM World Responsible Tourism Day – an international day of action dedicated to help protect the world – was created.

“Travel companies, destinations, and professionals worldwide recognise that responsible tourism offers a valuable and exciting new dimension to travel and tourism,” she said. “With this in mind, one of the key objectives of WTM World Responsible Tourism Day is to help drive change by educating more responsible behaviour within travel and tourism.”

For further information, visit www.wtmwrtd.com

New Partnership Agreement in London

ExCeL London, the UK capital’s largest event’s venue has struck two-year strategic partnership with Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), one of the world’s most prestigious meetings industry associations.

The agreement was finalised and signed last week at PCMA’s annual conference, Convening Leaders, in San Diego. The deal will see the development of a series of joint initiatives targeted towards the North American corporate and association meeting planning community.

“We are very excited by the opportunities this partnership presents, allowing us to strengthen our relationships with our North American customers and create forums where we work closer with buyers to bring their meetings to London,” said ExCeL London director, conferences and events, James Rees. “In our view, PCMA is the organisation best positioned to connect ExCeL London with this market and we know they share our vision andpassion for innovation and partnerships in the meetings industry.”

Commenting on the partnership, PCMA president and chief executive Deborah Sexton said: “As an association, we’re looking to grow our influence in the UK and Europe, so we’re delighted to be working with one of the most exciting and successful venues in these territories. ExCeL London also has some of the very best meetings technology around, something we’re particularly passionate about sharing with our members.”

IHG to Launch Homegrown Chinese Hotels

Intercontinental  Hotels Group (IHG) will launch a new upscale hotel brand in China by the middle of the year and is planning to eventually expand the brand across Asia-Pacific, according to a report in MarketWatch.

In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, Jan Smits, IHG’s chief executive of Asia, Middle East & Africa operations, explained that the move was to enable the group to become top-of-mind among increasingly wealthy Chinese travellers.

Jan Smits, IHG’s chief executiv
Subsequent plans include exporting the brand to other Asia-Pacific markets to cater to outbound Chinese travellers, with Hong Kong and Singapore seen as logical choices for expansion.

Event though details about the new brand have yet to be revealed, IHG has decided to bring forward its launch date—which was originally scheduled for later this year.

“There's obviously a lot of interest in a domestically-grown brand that has got the benefit of a large international system behind it. Owners have shown significant interest," Smits was quoted as saying.

According to MarketWatch, 12 contracts for the new brand have already been inked across China, including in Beijing and Shanghai.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Top 100 Cruise Ships in World

In the late 1980s cruise ships were welcoming almost four million passengers a year. Now that has increased to more than 19 million people setting sail on cruises each year. Superb new ships have arrived on the cruise scene, including the 256-passenger Viking Emerald and the 4,000-passenger Disney Dream. The Condé Nast Traveler 2012 annual readers poll results have just been released. In response cruise lines are expanding. An armada of ships will launch this year, starting in March with Disney Fantasy.

Here are the details of the top 100 cruise ships in the world, including rating information on activities, cabins, shore excursions and more.

Top 20 Small Cruise Ships
Seabourn Odessy in Sydney

Top 20 Medium Cruise Ships
Crystal Serentity

Top 20 Large Cruise Ships
Disney Magic

Top 40 River-Cruise Ships
River Queen
AmaCello, AmaWaterways, 76.7

Condé Nast Traveler readers rated 479 cruise ships on a 100-point scale. only ships that received a required minimum number of responses from the 28,876 participating readers were eligible to be included in these rankings. Each ship was rated on seven criteria: Activities/Facilities, Cabins, Crew/Service, Design/Layout, Food/Dining, Itineraries/Schedule, Shore Excursions.

New African Bureau of Conventions

The recently formed African Bureau of Conventions has signed up Ovation South Africa, This has been done to satisfy a specific need for a destination management company (DMC) in its membership portfolio

Led by industry veteran David Sand, the Ovation South Africa team boasts a wealth of experience and possesses a deep understanding of the unique power of meetings, incentives, conferences and events to deliver on corporate objectives.

“We are delighted to become the official DMC partner of the African Bureau of Conventions, as we see our vision for our destinations to be significantly aligned in increasing the amount of secured conference, event, convention and incentive business to Africa," said Ovation South Africa’s Neulah Mallinson.

Commenting on the partnership, Sharon Peetz, director of the African Bureau of Conventions, said: “Ovation South Africa is an award-winning DMC with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and is one of Africa’s, leading destination marketing companies.

“Over the past year, the African Bureau has found that there is a distinct requirement for a DMC in its membership portfolio, and with Ovation South Africa offering clients the ultimate in unique destination experiences and incentive travel programmes in South Africa, this will be an extremely beneficial relationship.”

Ovation South Africa is part of Ovation Global DMC, which has branches in 15 destinations across the globe.

South Korea Records More ASEAN Arrivals

Tourism cooperation between ASEAN and South Korea took a turn for the better in 2011, with the latter implementing measures that paved the way for more ASEAN arrivals.
With South Korea’s visa system seen as a major obstacle to growing ASEAN arrivals, the destination’s authorities cut the number of supporting documents required, introduced double-entry and family-unit visas, relaxed conditions for multiple-entry visas and extended visa validity periods for travellers from  Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos from last April.
As a result, 459,300 travellers from these markets visited South Korea between April and November last year, an improvement from the 555,012 arrivals in 2010. Cambodia registered the biggest growth (70.1 per cent), while the Philippines accounted for the lion’s share.
Last year also saw the opening of Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) offices in Hanoi and Jakarta. Another will open in Manila before June.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Free Country Breakfast and Gospel Music

The Tamworth Country Music Festival concludes this weekend.celebrating its 40th year. One of the features of this weekend is the free Country Breakfast and Gospel Music that will be held at the Hallsville Uniting  Community Church on Sunday 22nd January 2012. The morning commences at 7am and features a yummy aussie breakfast and country gospel music provided by Arianne Baker, Peter Pratt, Mark Moulynox, Barbie & Lyn. Walk-up artists are also welcome. People are welcome to come and go as they like or stay to the end. There is no admission cost charged, although small donations will be gratefully appreciated.
For further information contact Ross Davidson on 67608369 or 0428 6087369..

Indonesia Tourism Promotion Board Established

The new Indonesia Tourism Promotion Board (ITPB), run independently by the private sector, has been formed to support the government’s destination promotion efforts and to replace the former IPTB which became inactive in the early 2000s.

ITPB will receive a seed fund of 23 billion rupiah (US$2.6 million) from the authorities, which can only be used on destination promotion programmes.

Indonesia’s deputy minister of tourism and creative economy, Sapta Nirwandar, said the fund was the government’s way of investing in ITPB, which “will need to generate income to develop more programmes”.

ITPB will start off with three key programmes, focusing on generating arrivals during low season, and developing creative tourism and green tourism.

Detailed programmes are being drawn up and will be presented to the minister of tourism and creative economy after ATF.

ITPB chairman, Wiryanti Sukamdani, said the role of the new body would not overlap with that of the ministry’s directorate general of marketing.

South Sulawesi Tourism Board vice chairman, Nico Pasaka, said: “I’m confident that the board members are people who are dedicated to the development of tourism, but I feel that there are a couple of things that might cause hindrance."

City of Mandurah Sponsors Scholarship

A new AUS$5,000 scholarship program is open to people involved with not-for-profit associations across a variety of industry sectors. It is sponsored by Western Australian destination the City of Mandurah.

The scholarship is designed to assist in personal and professional development, either through attendance at a relevant international conference, or by undertaking further study in their chosen field of endeavour. It is offered under the successful Perth Convention Bureau’s Aspire Programme, a newly named scholarships and awards programme that has been operating since 1999.

Since its inception, the programme has generated convention business worth more than AUS$80 million in direct delegate expenditure to the Western Australian economy. Perth Convention Bureau’s chief executive Paul Beeson said the City of Mandurah Convention Scholarship was a welcome addition to the long-established initiative.

“This is a great opportunity for the bureau to make valuable connections in an important and growing region and assist with the development of those working in the not-for-profit sector,” he said.

“For years the scholarship programme has been such a successful marketing tool for the bureau and has been recognised and duplicated internationally.”

The bureau in conjunction with the scholarship sponsor, The City of Mandurah, will launch the programme at a prestigious morning tea event being held in Mandurah on the 31 January. The event will be attended by the City of Mandurah mayor, Paddi Creevey, Beeson, local businesses, academia, local council officials and City of Mandurah staff.

“One the key strategies that the City of Mandurah has focused on in recent years is identifying new and innovative ways of attracting economic diversity to our region,” said Mark Newman, the destination’s chief executive. “Central to our strategy is the need to identify the skills and expertise that we have as a region. We also realise that taking a proactive approach to business events attraction cannot be overestimated.

“The Perth Convention Bureau Aspire programme addresses these strategies across a number of levels. It will allow us to identify the diverse knowledge base in our region, and address on of the key tourism opportunities by enabling the city to potentially attract business events to Mandurah and the Peel region. We are privileged to be the first regional city to offer this scholarship to members of our community and look forward to the opportunity this programme will present to make our city more livable and vibrant."

Mandurah is one of the most vibrant regional cities in Western Australia. Once a small fishing village that boomed during holiday periods, it now has a thriving population of nearly 67,000. Covering an area of 173.5 square kilometres, Mandurah follows the coast from its northern extremity at Madora to the Ramsar-listed wetland Lake Clifton and Yalgorup National Park 50 kilometres to the south.

In 2012, the Aspire Programme – which also embraces several professional development awards for five Perth universities – will see nine awards and two scholarships worth a total of AUS$60,000 presented to individuals involved with the state’s academic and not-for-profit sectors.

The deadline for applications for the City of Mandurah Scholarship Programme is 30 March 2012.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Malaysis to Develop Meetings Industry

Seventeen peoples have been officially appointed from key industry sectors to help develop the meetings industry in Malaysia, identified by the country’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) roadmap as an important economic sector.

Called kesatrias (meaning knight or warrior), the chosen individuals, who have previously hosted large-scale international events, will voluntarily assist in identifying and encouraging other potential local hosts to bid for and stage international conventions.

The progamme, developed by the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), is known as Kesatria 1Malaysia. It is modelled on the best of similar ambassador programmes operating internationally.

The programme launch was officiated by YB Dato’ Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen, Malaysia’s minister of tourism at JW Mariott Hotel and witnessed by stakeholders, industry leaders and the media.

Acting as the chief patron of the programme, Dato’ Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen said: “The role of the kesatrias is to assist MyCEB in positioning Malaysia as the world’s premiere business events destination. Through their expertise, knowledge, flair and influence, we are confident that we would be able to achieve our goal to grow business tourism arrivals from 5% to 8%, which translates to an increase of RM2.9 million by 2020.

“If each kesatria identifies two local hosts each year that agree to organise a business event in Malaysia in their two year appointment, with each event attracting at least 1,000 delegates, Malaysia will be able to secure 60 business events and conferences by the end of 2013, which would contribute an estimated RM659 million in economic impact.”

Speaking at the launch, MyCEB chief executive En Zulkefli Hj Sharif said: “Kesatria was chosen to be the name of the programme as it befits the hard work, passion, integrity and contribution that our appointed industry captains have given to champion their respective causes on the world business events stage.

"The most significant aspect of this initiative is to get the attention of the global decision makers and to convince them of our capabilities to host international conference in this competitive global association market.”

Statistics have showed that an estimated spending for each business tourism visitor is RM7,418, which is three times the spending of an average visitor. By 2020, the business tourism industry is expected to contribute RM3.9 billion in incremental gross national income and 16,700 additional jobs for Malaysians by year 2020.

First China Charters For Manado

Manado will receive charter flights from Guangzhou this month, the first direct charter service from China.

Operated by Batavia Air’s 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft, the first flight will touch down on January 23 with 170 passengers, while the second – which has not been filled – will arrive on January 26.
Manado-based Mapanget Mega Wisata Tours and Travel managing director, Reenaldo Wangkar, said: “I have learned that Batavia Air is testing the waters, as they are planning to launch regular services between China and Manado. We do hope that our products suit the market.”
The regional government has been vocal about trying to attract more direct flights from the region, as Manado is only served by SilkAir from Singapore.

 At a press conference on the sidelines of ATF, governor of North Sulawesi, Sinyo Harry Sarundajang, said: “We would also like to have better access between Japan and Manado, through the Philippines.”

Thursday, 26 January 2012

More Airline Pull-outs Could Hurt the Philippines

The local travel trade is hoping that the Philippine lawmakers will approve the abolishment of an airline tax, which has been roundly criticised for its detrimental effect on the destination. 
KLM – the last carrier to operate direct flights from Europe to the Philippines – recently announced it would add an intermediate stop in either Hong Kong or Taipei to its Amsterdam-Manila route from April.
Cees Ursem, Air France-KLM general manager South China Sea, attributed the decision to the financial burden dealt by two taxes – the common carrier tax (CCT), a three per cent business tax on gross receipts, and a 2.5 per cent gross Philippine billings tax.

Stephen Crowdey, first vice chairman of the Board of Airline Representatives, said that “less non-stop capacity significantly reduces the appeal of the Philippines for  the trade and tourists alike,” a concern shared by inbound travel companies.

Philippine Travel Agencies Association president, Aileen Clemente, explained: “The Philippines will be reliant on flights connecting through other Asian cities, which may be the deciding factor for tourists from Europe, (who may) just conclude their trip in an Asian hub of their chosen airline.”

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Silverlake Music Festival 2012

It became an immediate media frenzy after the news hit that critically acclaimed rock band Incubus will be headlining the world-stage at “Silverlake Music Festival 2012.” Organized by Silverlake Entertainment Company Limited at the Silverlake Vinery in Pattaya the concert will take place on Saturday, 28 January 2012 from noon until 2.00 am. It’s been seven long years since Incubus performed live in bangkok and both Incubus fans and music fans in general throughout Thailand are ecstatic by Incubus’ return.

Incubus has earned recognition as a talented rock band that successfully mixes alternative sounds with a touch of pop melody. Lead singer Brandon Boyd’s charm has won over both male and female fans alike and the band has done a solid job of maintaining a strong fan base throughout its 20 year existence. Boyd is also idolized by many of Thailand’s finest rock bands. There is no surprise why rockers of every origin have poured in to get their hands on those tickets.

Silverlake Music Festival 2012 There’s been an overwhelming outpouring of interest in the Silverlake Music Festival since the announcement of the addition of Incubus. Once the complete artist lineups from The United States, Europe, Asia, and Thailand is released, the public’s interest is expected to increase. There is little doubt that “Silverlake Music Festival 2012,” with its world-renowned artists and the setting amidst the beauty of Silverlake Vinery in Pattaya, will propel Thailand into the world spotlight.

Silverlake Entertainment Company Limited has ensured that every detail is attended to in order to guarantee the festival’s success. Tickets are now on sale at every Thai Ticket Major outlet. Please contact 02-262-3456 or www.thaiticketmajor.com for details. All events pass tickets are 1,500 baht (excludes accommodations).

For more information, please visit us at http://www.silverlakemusicfestival.com/

NATAS to Lead Missions

The National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS) has taken over the lead in giving Singapore a face at some major travel tradeshows this year, following the Singapore Tourism Board's (STB) move to cut back on its tradeshow presence. 

Inbound players are worried that this may be symptomatic of STB’s gradual withdrawal of local trade support. STB’s decision to skip major tourism events such as GIBTM, WTM and ATM in 2011 struck a raw nerve with the trade and many have interpreted the move as a snub.

According to a statement from STB to the Daily, attendance at AIME, ITB Berlin, IMEX Frankfurt and IMEX America in 2012 have been confirmed to date, fewer than last year, when the NTO chose to exhibit in at least eight major tradeshows.

NATAS’ initiative, which is being evaluated, is spearheaded by Samson Tan, CEO of travel group GTMC Holdings and a member of the association’s inbound sub-committee. It will see eight to 10 travel companies, three to four attractions and up to 10 hotels heading to key trade events such as ATM, WTM and CITM under the NATAS banner this year.

Participation rates are expected to be slightly higher than what STB charges – between S$3,500 (US$2,708) and S$9,000 depending on location – as NATAS does not have pockets deep enough to subsidise trips. 

NSW Tourist Accommodation Statistics Released

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the latest survey of Tourist Accommodation in Australia for the September Quarter 2011. The following results are based on NSW Establishments (i.e. hotels, motels and serviced apartments) with at least 15 rooms.

NSW has a total of 1,398 establishments across the State made up of:
-206 hotels
-998 motels
-194 serviced apartments.

In the September quarter 2011, 6,477 room nights were available in NSW and the average room rate was $157.44.

The total revenue for all NSW establishments totalled $666.9 million. This represented an increase of 3.5% from September Quarter 2010.

Revenue from Sydney based accommodation totalled $425 million. In comparison to the previous year, takings increased by 4.6% (September Quarter 2010).

The Room occupancy rate for Sydney establishments was just under 80 per cent (79.6%); and 65 per cent for NSW.

Room occupancy in Sydney has increased slightly, by 0.1 percentage points from the previous year (79.5% in September Quarter 2010).

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Myanmar's Tourism Ministry Signals Change

A far sighted new government in Myanmar has revealed that it is studying the implementation of several tourist-friendly changes in the areas of hotel development, air access and visas.

Policies are in place to develop infrastructure in six regions including Yangon, Bagan, Inle and Mandalay.
U Htay Aung, deputy minister, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, told the Daily that the country’s land allocation and leasing policies are being relooked, including  extending the duration of leases from two to at least five years.
He said: “There are 25 foreign investment-backed hotels here,  and we may see a deluge if some of the policy changes take effect. We now charge US$200,000 or a percentage of gross revenue as a fee, whichever is higher. We are working on a formula that will be attractive to new overseas investors.”

According to U Aung Zaw Win, director general, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, a target to build 24,000 guestrooms in  the budget, two- and three-star categories over the next few years has been set.
Illustrating the destination’s dire need for rooms, he said the country’s 739 hotels were all booked out till March.
Aside from infrastructure, the Daily has also learned that a proposal to scrap tax on all incoming flights has been submitted to the government.

Destination Nsw Welcomes AirAsia X To Sydney

Destination NSW and low cost carrier, AirAsia X have announced that Sydney has secured a new daily Kuala Lumpur to Sydney service.

The AirAsia X services will commence on 1 April 2012, with the first flight taking off from Kuala Lumpur arriving in Sydney the next day (2 April). It is expected that the new service will deliver around 55,000 more international visitors to NSW every year.

Speaking at the launch event in Sydney on Tuesday 17 January; Destination NSW CEO, Sandra Chipchase said a new two-year marketing partnership with AirAsia X, Sydney Airport and Tourism Australia will promote the new service and NSW to the Malaysian market.

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with AirAsia X to increase visitation from some of our key Asian markets. Malaysia is a growing market for visitors to NSW. In the year ending September 2011, NSW welcomed 46,000 visitors from Malaysia. Most Malaysians visit Sydney and NSW for holidays and to visit friends and relatives, and more than 70 per cent of Malaysian visitors make repeat visits to NSW,” Ms Chipchase said.

In the year ending September 2011, visitor expenditure to NSW from Malaysia totalled $142 million, an increase of over 75 per cent on the previous year.

AirAsia X CEO, Azran Osman-Rani said, “It’s been a long time coming, but we are thrilled to announce that AirAsia is spreading its wings in Australia and finally jetting in to Sydney.”

Monday, 23 January 2012

Awesome Hangzhou

West Lake
Marco Polo visited Hagnzhou in 1280,and he was awestruck by Hangzhou's natural beauty. You will be, too.

Hangzhou lies 195 km southeast of Shanghaiat the south end of the historic Grand Canal and the lower reaches of the Qiangtang River. Vegetation here is lush and verdant and the weather is notably mild. As one of the six ancient capital cities in China, Hangzhou is also a city with a great number of cultural relics and heritage sites.

West Lake
Mountains with luxuriant trees and flowers surround Hangzhou's West Lake. Ancient pavilions, terraces, and gardens-within- gardens have been built on its islets. Amidst the stone pagodas and teahouses, temples, caves and hidden springs within the lake, you'll feel as though you are a figure in a traditional Chinese painting.

Linyin Temple
Lingyin Temple
The Lingyin Monastery was built in 326 AD, and still stands there. The monastery enshrines a 32-metre wood-carved Buddha, and an underground series of caves decorated with Buddhist carvings.

The Lingyin Monastery (Monastery of Soul's Retreat) at the foot of Lingyin Mountain, Hangzhou is one of the 4 famous Monasteries at West Lake and one of 10 well known Buddhist temples in China.

Located 64 km from Hanghzou, Shanoxing is another famous cultural city. It was the capital city of the State of Yue from 770 to 476 B.C.. Lakes are scattered all over the city and covered boats travel along the crisscross river. Points of interest include Lan Pavilion, Tomb of Dayu and the Lu Xun Museum.

AirAsia X Ditches India, Europe in Favour of Regional Markets

Longhaul low-cost carrier, AirAsia X will suspend services to India and Europe by the end of March in response to the combined impact from a weak global economy, rising jet fuel prices and soaring taxes, and instead, focus on developing its core markets.

The network realignment will see the suspension of AirAsia X’s four-weekly services to Mumbai after January 31, four-weekly services to Paris after March 30 and six-weekly services to London after March 31. The carrier's New Delhi’s daily links will be reduced to four-weekly in March, and will be suspended after March 22.

Despite enjoying healthy load factors of over 80 per cent on the carrier’s London and Paris services in 2011, CEO Azran Osman-Rani explained that the changes were necessitated by “continued high jet fuel prices and the weakening demand for air travel from Europe, brought about by the current economic situation together with exorbitant government taxes, (which) have placed cost pressures on operating long-haul low cost flights between Asia and Europe”.

He added: “The implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme and the escalating Air Passenger Duty taxes in the UK, which will rise yet again in April, has forced our decision to withdraw our services to Europe."

While flights to New Delhi and Mumbai were amended due to “continued visa restrictions for travel between India and Malaysia, and the increase in airport and handling charges (a 280 per cent increase in airport fees will take effect in April)”, Azran said services could be reinstated “once these structural issues can be resolved”.

Passengers booked on these flights will be offered a full refund or an alternative travel option on another AirAsia X route or another carrier where available.

Meanwhile, the carrier would continue to hold firm in its core markets of Australasia, China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, said Azran, who added that plans to launch new routes within these markets and additional frequencies were on the horizon.

JTB Foundation Forecasts Steady Growth

Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) Foundation is forecasting a 2.7 per cent growth in outbound demand this year to 17.4 million travellers, based on a full-year 2011 estimated result of 16.95 million. 

 For inbound, it is forecasting a 26.5 per cent increase in arrivals to Japan to 7.9 million this year, although this is still way below the peak in 2010 of 8.61 million. 
"Japan will need a little more time to surpass the pre-quake arrivals," JTB Foundation said in a statement.
In contrast to the sound recovery of outbound, inbound demand to Japan marked the worst performance among past major crises. 

 The five major source markets for Japan, namely, South Korea, China, Taiwan, the US and Hong Kong, comprise more than 70 per cent of the total inbound, but while monthly growth rates from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan were back to positive in October 2011, the other major source markets have stayed in negative, as of November 2011.
The foundation said China would lead the inbound recovery. "The Japanese government has gradually been easing its visa policy for China to boost the number of visitors to Japan. Although Japan lost approximately a fourth of its Chinese arrivals in 2011, the relaxation of visa policy together with significant growth potential of the Chinese outbound market will lead to a strong recovery in 2012, surpassing the number of arrivals in 2010. 

"Taiwan is another market which is expected to see more arrivals in 2012 than 2010. But arrivals for other major source markets will not reach the pre-quake level in 2012, although they will all show double-digit growths due to the bounce back effect," it said.

Dragon Boat Races In Sydney

What better way to celebrate the Year of the Dragon than at City of Sydney's Chinese New Year Festival Dragon Boat Races at Darling Harbour?

Dragon boat racing is a cultural phenomenon of China, with a long history dating back to the Zhou Dynasty (770BC to 256BC). A symbol of good fortune and a sign of intense power, these mythical beasts appear to surge through the water, as 12-metre long boats decorated to feature the head and tail of the dragon battle it out in the waters of Cockle Bay. Each boat is large enough to seat 20 people with a sweep to steer and a drummer pounding loudly above the thrashing of the oars.

Eye-dotting Ceremony
Did you know a dragon boat must undergo an awakening ceremony before it can compete? This is done by dabbing red paint on the eyes of each dragon boat's "blind" figurehead. Once the eyes are dotted, the dragons come to life and the mythical beasts surge through the water in the highly anticipated, and very exciting Dragon Boat Races. Come along to the eye-dotting ceremony and the blessing of the waters before the first race on Saturday at 9am.

Date: 4 February - 5 February
Time: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Location: Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour, Sydney Australia
Phone: 02 9265 9333
Cost: FREE

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Harbin Hosts Mass Ice Wedding

Most people would prefer a nice warm day on which to get married to their loved one. However 18 couples decided to choose a nice cool winters day on which to get married The wedding was organized by the Harbin city government, and 18 couples from Nigeria, Russia and China participated in the mass wedding ceremony. This was part of the 28th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, Heilongjiang province. Notice the warm coats they are wearing!
A man lifts his wife in front of a snow sculpture after the group wedding ceremony 
Confetti is thrown at couples during the group wedding ceremony
Couples wave during the group wedding ceremony