Saturday, 30 June 2012

Dungog Film Festival 2012

This weekend, apart from being the start of the NSW school holidays, is  when the annual Dungog Film Festival takes place.

Each year the Dungog Film Festival selects outstanding Australian films for exhibition from hundreds of submissions. More than 9,000 people attend screenings in 2011. In addition to discovering filmmaking's newest talent through the Festival's program of documentary, dramatic, and short films, Festival-goers experience live script reads, master classes with leading filmmakers and industry figures, nightly parties celebrating Australia film, and more. 

This year a suite of powerful documentary premieres, compelling new feature films, our legendary Aussie Shorts programs and a screen legend in conversation about her career defining role.  From classics to the cutting edge, works in progress to world premieres, the 2012 Dungog Film Festival program as it all.

The street parade was held today, with a Red Dog theme. Residents joined in  the parade with their own red dog or other pet pooch where the apparently incorruptible local celebrity resident Roy Bean judged Best Red Dog and Best Dog, in the sub category 'A Class of their Own'.

In addition to the canine contingent there were 100 members of the local police force marching to celebrate 150 years of the NSW State Police Force, the oldest police force in Australia, 50 members of the Singleton Town Band, marching children, floats, decorated push bikes and the greatest representation of Ukuleles ever seen in Dungog.

Tomorrow, Sunday July 1, there will be a feature direct from the edit suite, a feast of outstanding new shorts alongside a swag of sessions, forums and kooky cinema celebrations from Dungog locals.

Even on a weekend when the Film Festival is not on, Dungog is a delightful country town to visit and escape the rat race of the city. There are plenty of overnight accommodation options to choose from, and many cafes, restaurants, clubs and pubs to dine at. 

Yilan County Attracting More Visitors

Situated on the north-eastern coast of Taiwan, Yilan County is rich in natural and cultural attractions, drawing holiday-makers with activities such as leisure farming, whale watching and soaks in hot and cold springs.

The opening of the 12.9 km Hsuehshan Tunnel in 2008, linking Taipei City and Yilan in just 40 minutes, has significantly boosted the laid-back county’s tourism popularity. Before that, travel between the two cities took two hours.
Government statistics reflected annual growth in local and international arrivals – from 274,700 visitors in 2008, Yilan welcomed 855,400 people last year.
Yilan’s improved accessibility has endeared it to MICE planners who recognise the potential of twinning it with Taipei.

Northeast Coast National Scenic Area
Paul Hsieh, deputy general manager of Edison Travel Service which handles English-speaking incentive groups, told TTGmice: “Yilan is a new MICE (destination), as it’s only less than one hour (from Taipei City), but (offers) a completely different landscape and scenery.”

Yilan features attractions such as the Northeast Coast National Scenic Area and Dongshan River Water Park.

The county proved its mettle by successfully hosting the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale-Commission Internationale de Vol Libre (FAI-CIVL) Plenary Meeting 2012 in February. It drew more than 100 participants from 29 countries.

Evergreen Resort Hotel (Jiaosi)
Yilan’s Wai-ao district will welcome the FAI Asian Paragliding Accuracy Championship from June 12-18.

To encourage more MICE flow into Yilan, the county government has recently unveiled a programme to incentivise large Taiwanese companies that bring events to the destination. According to trade sources, Taipei City and Yilan are the only two destinations in Taiwan to offer such initiatives.

Lee Chang-shan, section chief, Tourism Marketing Section of Business and Tourism Department, Yilan County Government, said mid- to large-scale events would be targeted.

Silks Place Yilan
“Although we have only three five-star hotels, namely Silks Place Yilan, Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi and Evergreen Resort Hotel (Jiaosi), these hotels could join forces to handle big events,” said Lee, who added that Yilan’s MICE hardware would be boosted by the opening of the Luodong Cultural Working House which can accommodate events with 2,000 people.

The Luodong Cultural Working House is slated to open in time for the Golden Horse Film Festival this November.

Information released by the tourism bureau revealed that Yilan is also due to welcome several new hotels such as the 146-room Shangrila Resort in August 2013, 99-room Ocean International in December 2013, 84-room Spring Park Jiaoshi Villa Resort in August 2014 and 193-room Sheraton Yilan Resort in December 2015.

Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi
Yilan’s pursuit of strong tourism performance will help to preserve its traditions, as the county government intends to promote fading traditional industries by marketing them as attractions.

For instance, corporate groups can participate in a do-it-yourself pencil programme and create their own pencils with wood.

Thailand's "Creative Tourism" Campaign Generates 24 Million Online Visitors

Contestants from Croatia, Taiwan and Australia each have won free week-long holidays in Thailand after participating in an online competition designed to promote the kingdom as a "Creative Tourism" destination.

The campaign, bearing the theme "Discover the Other You," was organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand in a global effort to boost its Internet and social-media profile, especially amongst young people, and attract more repeat visitors in the off-peak season months.

Although it was a worldwide campaign, key target markets were Singapore, Japan, Australia, UK, Germany, Scandinavia, the U.S. and Canada.

The campaign generated 24,008,170 views from 119 countries across all the various online media within 2 months. The Creative Tourism activities video was viewed by over 1.2 million visitors, and the Digital Brochure downloaded by over 3,724 people.

The 3 winners of the "Free 7 Days/6Nights Trip in Thailand" won round trip air-tickets, accommodation for 6 nights, meals, tour package with personal guide. The total package prize is valued USD 8,000, plus cash prize of USD 2,000, for a total value of USD10,000. Each winner is entitled to bring along one accompanying person.

Suraphol Svetasreni
Mr.Suraphol Svetasreni, Governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand, said: "Creative Tourism is an increasingly popular trend that gives visitors a chance to really experience host destinations up close. In an era when people seek out unforgettable special experiences, the ability to learn-by-doing about Thai art, culture and traditional practises is truly unique."

He said the TAT launched the "Discover the Other You" campaign in order to brand Thailand as "the first Creative Tourism destination in Asia".

The Governor added: "The concept of tourism marketing in the Marketing 3.0 era must have three-dimensional elements which are useful to society, save the environment and achieve sustainable profit for all relevant sectors irrespective of tourists, tour agencies and entrepreneurs.

"Creative Tourism fits the Marketing 3.0 concept very well and Thailand has various distinguished art and cultural heritages as unique places in the world that are ready to add value to tourism resources in the form of Creative Tourism.

"If entrepreneurs want to capture Creative Tourist market groups, they will have to create added value for their products by presenting an "Experience" to the tourists that make their products unique and different. This becomes a sustainable selling point because the experience cannot be easily imitated," Mr. Suraphon said.

The campaign was heavily promoted across social media, both in English and Japanese. The content was designed to narrate stories of Thai lifestyle and Thainess experiences in order to inspire viewers "to discover the other you" and "have new perspective on life".
Viewers were invited to participate in the online game by first watching a video series on specific creative tourism themes -- Adventure, Culture and Local Wisdom & Spirituality.

They could then join the game and answer specific questions on the theme that most inspired them.

The response also generated some valuable market-research data. For example:
 1. The top 5 countries that joined the online activities were Australia, England, USA, India and Singapore.
 2. The top 3 Creative Tourism activities that potential tourists want to experience are Thai massage, Thai cooking and Thai boxing.
 3. Expatriate groups or foreigners who work in Asia are most interested in bringing their families to learn about rice farming in Thailand because they want their kids to experience nature and local culture.
 4. The top 3 countries that saw a large participation by young people were USA, England and Australia.
 5. Young people believe that acquiring new skills and experiences via travel can be listed on their resumes and thus help them get better jobs.

Mr. Pandit Chanapai,
The campaign has also won the support of Thai Airways International PLC. Mr. Pandit Chanapai, Executive Vice President of Commercial Department, said the airline is promoting the Creative Tourism program to Royal Orchid Plus card members as part of a special offer that is valid until October 2012.

"Our direct marketing promotion targeted at our card holders will certainly encourage potential visitors to plan a Creative Tourism journey to Thailand," Mr. Pandit said.

More information on the Discover the Other You campaign is available here:

For additional information, please contact Khun Jantornthanee Pisittiporn, Tel. 086-886-4816, Email:

Go for Gold in Queensland Australia

 Lady Elliott Island
Budget can't quite stretch to tickets to the London 2012 Olympic Games? With one month to go until the opening ceremony signals the start of TV lockdown in households across the world, avoid becoming a couch-bound patriot and go for gold with a decathlon of outdoor events in Queensland.

1500m Race 
Leave the SKINS and running shoes at home and feel the sand between your toes with a leisurely stroll around Lady Elliott Island. The island has a circumference of approximately 1500m and is home to some of the best sights Queensland has to offer. If you're there at the right time of year you may even share the sand with hundreds of tiny turtle hatchlings as they make their way out to sea.

AJ Hackett Cairns
Olympic divers display acrobatic excellence while leaping from platforms of up to 10 metres, but in Tropical North Queensland you can take it to a whole new level with a 50-metre plunge at Australia's only bungy experience - AJ Hackett Cairns. With a menu of 16 different jump styles including everything from a swan dive to a rooftop or BMX jump on offer; you can work your way up to the perfect 10 score. 

Swap the dressage and show jumping for a horseback adventure on Noosa's pristine North Shore. Equathon, run by three-time Olympian Alex Watson, offer two-hour rides through surrounding bushland and along Noosa North Shore beach. For the true equestrian enthusiast, they also offer seven-day tours through south-east Queensland's finest trails.

Sure, Olympic sailing has its share of thrills and spills, but nothing beats the feeling of the wind in your hair as you sail your way around the Whitsunday Islands. Sign up for an Intro Sail Course with Sailing Whitsundays and you might just hook yourself a new hobby while also exploring some of the best snorkelling spots and relaxing on famous Whitehaven Beach.
Boxing bouts don't come any tougher than in Outback Queensland when Fred Brophy's nomadic boxing tent comes to town. Travelling since the '70s, the iconic Mount Isa Rodeo and Birdsville Races are now two of only a handful of events where the boxing tent - the likes of which have been banned in all other states and the USA - makes an appearance. 

Aussies don't belong in chlorinated pools - they belong in the ocean, stroking through salty brine under a glorious sun. Challenge yourself in the Great Barrier Reef Swim, Heron Island (18-22 October) and instead of following a black painted line, you'll swim amongst coral gardens and abundant marine life.   

The backdrop to the triathlon at the London Olympics will be typically British, boasting a swim and ride through Hyde Park and a run past Buckingham Palace, but the Sunshine Coast gives the Queen a run for her money in November when the Noosa Tri races into town. Entries are closed for this year but you can still cheer from the sidelines or take the opportunity to pace out the course yourself on any other weekend. 

Not quite up to Olympic standard? Bunyip Bike Tours are all about taking your time and soaking up the scenery of the Gold Coast coastline and hinterland. Opt for a Beach Safari, Wild Kangaroo Experience or Wine, Worms and Waterfalls tour.  

Canoe Sprint 
It's not a race when it comes to canoeing or kayaking your way around Queensland. Enjoy a paddle at your own pace and discover Brisbane's winding river on a kayaking tour with Riverlife. For a different spin (or stroke) try the popular Friday night Paddle and Prawns or Saturday night Paddle and Riverside BBQ. 

Trampoline Gymnastics is a relative newcomer to the Olympic program but Circus Espace at Novotel Twin Waters Resort on the Sunshine Coast has been bouncing around for years. Test out your gymnastic ability on the bungee trampoline and perform flips and tricks eight metres up in the air. 

Friday, 29 June 2012

Solis Hotels & Resorts expands reach in China

Singapores Solis Hotels & Resorts will open its third property in China by the end of 2013.

The 260-room Solis Guangzhou, which is currently under construction, will feature a cultural centre, four restaurants, a library, a spa, a fitness centre, an executive club lounge and a rooftop infinity pool. It also offers 1,780m2 of meeting space, including a Grand Ballroom that can seat up to 350-pax, a VIP stateroom and a VIP private banquet room.

Solis Guangzhou is said to be the only five-star hotel along the Pearl River and the only one with its own jetty and docks.

The property is a partnership between the Singapore-based hotel group and Guangzhou-based Jiachuang Investment Group, a hotel, commercial and retail real estate company.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Tops 100th Hotel in China

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Opening 23 Hotels in 2012
Frits van Paasschen
With recent hotel openings in Ningbo, Sanya, Yangzhou and Xian, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) today announced it has surpassed the opening of its 100th operating hotel in China with plans to open 15 additional hotels by the end of this year.  With eight hotels already opened in the first quarter of 2012, Starwood will open a total of 23 hotels in China in 2012, which is on pace with 2011 openings making 2012 the second consecutive year the company has opened a record number of hotels here in any one year.    

"In addition to the record-breaking pace at which we are opening hotels in China, we've signed 12 new deals in the first three months of 2012 and Greater China accounts for 44 percent of our global pipeline driven by an ever-increasing Chinese domestic travel market, as well as the fast-growing international inbound market," said Frits van Paasschen, President & CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.  "Additionally, China continues to be the richest source of new Starwood guests with more than 600,000 active Starwood Preferred Guest members which is up 62 percent from last year." 

The Great Wall Sheraton Hotel
Since Starwood's landmark debut of The Great Wall Sheraton Hotel in Beijing in 1985, China has now become Starwood's second largest market in the world after the United States and Starwood continues to lead as the largest high-end hotel operator in the country.  Looking ahead, Starwood's growth in China is being  fueled by the power of its Sheraton and Westin brands and, increasingly, the momentum of the company's mid-market brands - Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton which now boasts the company's second largest pipeline in China behind Sheraton.

Sheraton and Westin Continue to Fuel Growth in China, Including Starwood's Largest Hotel - Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central
Sheraton Macao Hotel,
Sheraton is slated to open nine new hotels across China in 2012, reaching a total of nearly 80 hotels there by 2015.  More than one-third of Starwood's new hotels in China will fly the Sheraton flag, building on the brand's 30-year legacy in the country.  In mid-September, the iconic Sheraton brand will also celebrate the opening of the first phase of the 3,863-room Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central which will be the largest Sheraton, as well as the largest Starwood hotel, in the world.  Offering three restaurants with poolside cafes, 20,000 sq m of meeting space and two outdoor swimming pools, Sheraton Macao is a highly anticipated addition to Cotai Strip, also known as the "Las Vegas of Asia."

Westin will open four new hotels in China in 2012, resulting in a portfolio of 18 properties in this key market by year's end, extending the brand's reach in second and third tier cities.  The new Westin hotels will open in fast-growing cities across China, including Ningbo, Xiamen, Changbaishan and Taiyuan. 

"About 70 percent of our hotel openings in Asia this year are in China," said Simon Turner, President of Global Development for Starwood.  "The incredible growth of our portfolio owes itself to the strength of our brands, our strong teams, and the confidence from our investors and owners in delivering world-class hotels and personalized services to our guests."

Starwood Continues to Grow Luxury Brands in China
The Astor Hotel - in Tianjin.
After a successful year in 2011 opening St. Regis hotels in Tianjin, Sanya, and Shenzhen, Starwood's Luxury Collection brand will open two hotels this year - Twelve at Hengshan in Shanghai and The Royal Begonia on Hainan Island, China's first Luxury Collection resort.  The Luxury Collection launched in China in 2010, with a suitably iconic property - The Astor Hotel - in Tianjin.

Starwood Rolls Out Global Starwood Personalized Travel to 1,100 Hotels Around the World
Following the successful pilot in key gateway cities across the globe, Starwood rolled out Starwood Personalized Travel to its nearly 1,100 hotels worldwide.  Chinese guests are now able to experience personalized home-away-from-home touches, including in-room tea kettles, slippers, translated welcome materials and on-site translation services, as well as familiar Chinese favorites like congee.

Miguel Ko
"With 100 million outbound travelers by 2015, China will become a major global travel force, and in fact, the largest travel market in the world," said Miguel Ko, Chairman and President, Starwood's Asia Pacific Division.  "When they travel abroad, the Chinese will stay with the hotel brands they know from home, which underscores the significance of our growing footprint of flagship hotels in China and its halo effect on Starwood's hotels around the world.  Now with the global roll out of Starwood Personalized Travel, we have once again taken the global hospitality standard to the next level - delivering personalized services to our Chinese guests anywhere in the world."

Beijing International Tourism Expo (BITE) 2012

BITE 2012 concluded on a high note after a three-day showcase at the China National Convention Centre in June.

Specially designed to help industry players meet up with their potential business partners, the Pre- Scheduled Appointment (PSA) programme served as the main highlight for all exhibitors present.
Through a pre-arranged business matching programme, the exhibitors were appointed to different buyers based on their respective business aims, goals and requirements. Having received positive feedback from our buyers and exhibitors, the PSA program is indeed a powerful and formidable platform that has opened doors to key markets and new business opportunities!

“The BITE series has grown steadily over the years and has now successfully positioned itself as the magnet for regional tourism organizations, travel associations, travel agencies, destinations, hoteliers and airlines to congregate, network and do business in one of the world’s booming tourism markets – China,” shared Mr. Edward Liu, Managing Director of Conference & Exhibition Management Services Pte Ltd.

Themed “One Platform; Many Possibilities”, the exposition has certainly lived up to its name as one of the leading expositions catering to the travel and tourism industry in Beijing. Exhibitors from all sectors of the industry have also gained and benefited from this exposition, thus successfully gaining a strong foothold in the robust tourism market of China!

For more information, visit

Aberdeen Highland Games

The Aberdeen Highland Games take place over two days and one night and is staged the first weekend in July each year. This year they will be held on the weekend of Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 July 2012. It is the final event of Scottish Australia Heritage Council's Heritage Week. Heritage Week commences in Sydney and concludes at Aberdeen.

During the two day event more than 23 events take place at three venues with stalls providing food and Celtic displays all of which represent traditional Celtic culture and recreation. The Games are a gathering together from Sydney and regional New South Wales of bands, Clans, dancers, heavy events and state and interstate tug-of-war teams to celebrate the Celtic history of the Upper Hunter.

For the past three years a display team from Australia's Federation Guard have enthralled spectators with their precision drill.

The 2012 Aberdeen Highland Games promises to be better than ever.

For more information
Phone: (02) 6543 8457
Fax: (02) 6543 8457

For the detailed program see the article in The Holiday and Travel Magazine posted on 23 June 2012 by clicking on this link
Don Your Kilt for the 2012 Aberdeen Highland Games...

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Get Your School Holiday Skates on to Canberra

Canberra Glassworks
From skating on an outdoor ice rink to watching Australia's elite athletes training in their final weeks of preparation for the London 2012 Olympics at the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, the capital city of Australia, offers plenty of fun experiences to keep kids entertained.

Throughout July experience Skate in the City - an outdoor ice rink in the heart of the city offering both skate and show packages.

Head indoors to the ever popular Questacon - The National Science and Technology Centre and sample the new Excite@Q gallery. The little thrill seeker in the family can ride a 360 degree swing, freefall six metres down a vertical slide and look into the Disgustoscape tunnel of mirrors to see their hair and face magnified.

Purchasing a 3infun pass is an affordable way to see some of the city's best family attractions. The pass includes a 10 per cent discount on entry to Questacon - The National Science and Technology Centre, Cockington Green Gardens and the Australian Institute of Sport plus a free pass to go back to your favourite 3infun attraction.

Visit the Canberra Glassworks and watch artists glassblowing from the hot shop and make your own glass paperweight or bauble.

Use Canberra as your base for a snow day trip. Catch a Murrays coach to the NSW Snowfields - an easy three hours drive from the city centre. Packages include lift passes, ski, stocks and boot hire as well as national park entry. You can relax on your coach journey back to your Canberra accommodation that night.

Grab a great winter deal online at today Thursday 28 July between midday and 1pm. Buy a Happy Hour accommodation deal and receive a $150 voucher to spend at the National Zoo & Aquarium, Canberra Glassworks or a combined 3infun plus Skate in the City experience.

Beijing International Tourism Expo (BITE) 2012

The ninth successful presentation of Beijing International Tourism Expo, widely known as BITE, concluded on a high note after a three-day showcase at the China National Convention Centre from June 15 – 17 2012.

Organized by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development, CEMS (Beijing) Conference & Exhibition Co., Ltd and Conference & Exhibition Management Services Pte Ltd, the 9th edition of BITE welcomed 929 exhibitors and 220 trade buyers from 80 countries and 25 cities, provinces and autonomous regions as well as a whopping 40,000 domestic and international trade visitors.

BITE 2012, reputed as one of Asia’s leading travel expositions, welcomed a total of nine new participating countries namely Croatia, Dominican Republic, Iran, Israel, Nepal, Mauritius, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. The exposition also played host to 25 country pavilions from Brunei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, Switzerland, USA and Yemen to name a few.

Beijing International Tourism Expo
Destinations’ Presentation Sessions, a new marketing and publicity initiative was one of the main highlights rolled out during the exposition. Well-received by the international visitors, trade buyers and media, several National Tourist Organizations (NTOs), airlines and travel agencies came forth and leveraged on this conductive platform to introduce their destinations’ unique selling points, which are often the primary attraction for visitors from around the world to visit the country.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Indonesia Australia Sales Mission 2012

The Indonesia Australia Sales Mission 2012 will be held in Sydney tomorrow, Thursday 28th June at The Menzies Sydney Hotel from 5:30 - 9:00pm

This event is being organised by The Visit Indonesia Tourism Office Australia & the Ministry of Tourism & Creative Economy, Republic of Indonesia.

On the night agents and product managers will meet face to face with 28 leading Indonesian suppliers such as -

1. Pacto Ltd. Indonesia
2. Garuda Orient Holidays
3. No Roads Expeditions
4. Orangutan Odysseys
5. Uma Ubud
6. Como Shambhala Estate
7. Freestyle Holidays
8. Blue Season Bali
9. Bali Garden Beach Resort
10. Samsara Hotel
11. Maharani Beach Hotel
12. Cocotinos Hotel Group
13. InterContinental Bali Resort
14. General Hotel Management
15. Asian Trails
16. Tasik Ria Resort & Spa & Diving,
17. Tasik Divers @ Derawan Dive Lodge
18. Tasik Divers Bali
19. Garuda Indonesia
20. Santosa Villas & Resort
21. Matahari Beach Resort & Spa
22. PT. Bidy Tours
23. PT. Tiga Putra Sejahtera Tours
24. Shanti Collection
25. PT. Taman Wisat Candi Borobudur, Prambanan & Ratu Boko
26. Bali Niksoma Boutique Beach Resort
27. Kamandalu Resort
28. Intrepid Travel

As well as be entertained by Indonesian dancers and sample the best of Indonesian cuisine.

Craig Gibbons Marketing Manager for the Visit Indonesia Tourism Office Australia says “This really will be the leading Bali & Beyond trade event for Australian travel agents and product managers. Agents will receive all the latest destination and tourism product information that Indonesia has to offer'”

NSW Tourism Boosted in India

Mr Paramjit Bawa has been appointed as the inaugural Manager of the new India Destination NSW office based in Mumbai.

The Mumbai office will be the seventh in Destination NSW’s network of international offices and will manage the development of Indian inbound tourism to NSW.

Sandra Chipchase, Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer, said Mr Bawa’s knowledge and experience in the international tourism sector will be a great asset to Destination NSW. His most recent role of six years was Regional Manager of VisitBritain’s Indian and Middle Eastern operations.

“This appointment is a major commitment to boost our direct involvement in this important market,” Ms Chipchase said. “The number of visitors from India to Australia in 2020 is expected to grow by more than 100 per cent, so it’s important we have an experienced, knowledgeable representative proactively engaged in the Indian market:.

Mr Bawa will work closely with airlines, travel trade, media and business event organisers to keep Sydney and NSW top-of-mind for holiday visitation. 

He will also be representing Business Events Sydney to promote Sydney as a preferred destination for meetings, incentive, travel reward program, conferences and our key exhibitions.

30 Days to Opeing of 2012 Olympic Games

Day 4 - Bath
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games is fast approaching. In fact they open in London in one month’s time – in 30 days.  They open on 27 July 2012 and close on 12 August 2012. The 2012 Paralympic Games will follow from 29 August to 9 September.

For those who want even more, the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics, open in the Maracanã Stadium in Brazil on 5 August 2016 – that’s only 1501 days away

The games are a gathering of people from around the world, with 205 nations expected to take part in 300 events at the Olympic Games in 2012. This is not the first time that London has hosted the Olympic Games – they also hosted them in 1908 and 1948.

A significant part in the lead up to the Olympic Games is the Olympic Torch, which spreads the message of peace, unity and friendship.

Elephants salute
The Olympic Torch Relay is on a journey to many of the cities and townships in the UK, visiting a number of UK’s Islands including the Isla of Man, Guernsey and Jersy   over a period of 70 days, England, Wales, Ireland, & Scotland will all see the Torch at some stage of the Relay.

The Olympic Torch was lit from the sun's rays at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, in a traditional ceremony among the ruins of the home of the Ancient Games. It arrived in the UK on 18 May and commenced its 70 day journey when it went from Land’s End to Plymouth on 19 May.

Chariots of Fire
The halfway mark of the Torch Relay (Day 35) was completed on 22 June when the Torch was carried from Kendal to Blackpool. At this point  the Olympic Torch Relay had been carried by 3,529 Torchbearers and had travelled 3,901.57 miles of its 8,000-mile journey and has been through 548 of the more than 1,000 cities, towns and villages that it is due to visit. More than 4 million people had seen the Olympic Torch at this halfway point of the Relay.

Some of the highlights so far of the Torch Relay  include:
- Elephants at the West Midlands Safari Park saluting the Olympic Flame as it was carried by Christopher Stokes on the Severn Valley Railway
- Joseph Forrester carrying the Olympic Flame along St Andrews West Sands, made famous by the film Chariots of Fire
- Bear Grylls carrying the Olympic Flame on a zip wire from the top of the Tyne Bridge
- David State proposing to his girlfriend in Loftus while carrying the Olympic Flame
- Stephanie Booth carrying the Olympic Flame on a steam boat across Lake Windermere

Bear Grylls
Today the Torch is being carried from Grimsby to Lincoln. On the last day of the Torch Relay, Day 70, the torch is being carried from Hampton Court into the Olympic Stadium  The last Torch Bearer will light the  Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony.

For more information about the Olympic Torch relay and the 2012 Olympic Games  see the official website

Advancing Cairns to China

Advance Cairns, the peak coordination agency for economic development in Tropical North Queensland, has joined with Tourism Tropical North Queensland and the Cairns Regional Council to develop tourism and business matching opportunities for a pending trade mission to China later this year. The Beijing Consulting Group (BCG) will assist with on the- ground support for the mission in China which is scheduled to take place in October.

Key focuses for Advance Cairns are to identify opportunities for Tropical North Queensland businesses in the China market. Areas of particular expertise and interest include:
•Promoting Tropical North Queensland as a tourism, meeting and conference destination
•Working with Chinese airlines and travel wholesalers to increase the number of flights from China to Cairns - just seven hours from southern China
•Promoting study and training opportunities in Cairns, particularly hospitality training
•Promoting the tropical expertise developed by many North Queensland businesses
•Exploring occupational health and safety opportunities

Ross Contarino
"Despite a recent slowing in international spending, Advance Cairns believes there are still opportunities to be found as Australia- China trade remains strong. We will encourage local businesses to take advantage of the opportunities the trade mission will present," said Advance Cairns CEO Ross Contarino.

Previous trade missions have proven fruitful for local businesses, including Garden City Design Co - a member of the Cairns Landscaping Industries Cluster - who, after attending the 2004 trade mission to China, won a contract to collaborate with their Chinese counterparts on the design of the 34 hectare Sino-Australian Friendship Garden in Cairns' sister city of Zhanjiang in Guangdong province. And in 2008, more than 50,000 Chinese visited Cairns, with further growth predicted for 2009.

- For more information on Tropical North Queensland visit: or
- or contact Dianne at AdvanceCairns 
Tel: 07 4031 3999
Address:: 51 The Esplanade Cairns Australia
- or contact the Beijing Consulting Group

Mr & Mrs Smith Brings the Best of Australia

Boutique travel experts Mr & Mrs Smith have partnered with Tourism Australia to showcase the best experiences and properties in Australia.

The Best of Australia collection is part of the latest phase of Tourism Australia's global marketing campaign, There's nothing like Australia, which was officially launched in Shanghai at the beginning of June.

The campaign is a media first for Mr & Mrs Smith - the brand hasn't worked with a National Tourism Organisation before  - to deliver an integrated multi-media campaign comprising of online, print, image and video assets. The online campaign collection is split into five easy to browse categories; Hidden Gems, Journeys, Cuisine, Wildlife and Coastline.  Each section includes a further five specific locations and suggested activities that are linked to the Mr & Mrs Smith property where that activity is on offer.

The platform,, features video content on a carousel, which will lead with the new 90-second There's Nothing Like Australia film, which is at the heart of Tourism Australia's global campaign. 

The Best of Australia collection will also be displayed in a Mr & Mrs Smith 24-page booklet which will include quotes from high-profile ambassadors on their favourite travel experiences across Australia. More than 350,000 copies of the booklet were distributed with The Sunday Times this Sunday, 17 June.

Co-branded advertising across the Mr & Mrs Smith site will drive traffic to the microsite, with additional online advertising linking through to a bespoke There's Nothing Like Australia campaign page on, Tourism Australia's consumer platform.

Juliet Kinsman
Juliet Kinsman, Editor-in-Chief, Mr & Mrs Smith, says, "We wanted to extend our offering beyond our portfolio of Australian properties to present a complete experience for travellers, building on the activities that we know inspire people to travel to Australia.  This campaign allows us to make it even easier than before for our customers to plan a boutique, luxury holiday using the expertise of a tourism partner."

Visit the Mr & Mrs Best of Australia collection at

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Sunset Strip Music Festival To Celebrate The Doors At 2012 Festival

SUNSET STRIP MUSIC FESTIVAL (SSMF) organizers have announced that the fifth annual three-day music festival--taking place on THE SUNSET STRIP Thursday, August 16 through Saturday, August 18--will celebrate the music and legacy of THE DOORS.

The festival will kick off with an exclusive VIP event honouring the iconic Sunset Strip band on August 16, which will feature an all-star band celebrating THE DOORS, and will conclude with an all-day street fest on Saturday, August 18. MARILYN MANSON will headline the outdoor street fest, which will also feature performances by THE OFFSPRING, STEVE AOKI, BAD RELIGION, very special guest BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, FAR EAST MOVEMENT, DE LA SOUL, DEAD SARA, DAS RACIST, THE MOWGLI’S and more. Many of the artists will celebrate THE DOORS by performing their take on some of THE DOORS’ legendary songs. The venues within the street festival closure--The Roxy Theatre, Whisky A Go-Go and Key Club--will also host full line-ups from more than 50 bands throughout the day.

Look for further line-up announcements to be revealed in the coming weeks. Tickets are on sale via (various pricing options below). A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit IMPACT DRUG AND ALCOHOL TREATMENT CENTER in Pasadena, Calif., which has been treating individuals struggling with the powerful force of addiction since 1969. Impact is a residential treatment community for men and women from all walks of life and has outpatient clinics, transitional housing and in-custody programs throughout L.A. County. Impact offers programs to everyone from the roadie to the rock star, with their simple and effective no-nonsense approach to substance abuse treatment.  For more information, go to

As in years past, Sunset Boulevard will be closed to traffic between Doheny Drive and San Vicente Boulevard and transformed into a premier concert destination with two outdoor stages, beer gardens, an artist autograph tent, an outdoor VIP rooftop lounge, silent disco, VIP Lounge at On The Rox, food trucks and interactive experiences.

“We are happy to bring another amazing and diverse line-up to the boulevard as we celebrate the music and legacy of one of The Sunset Strip’s most influential artists, The Doors,” noted SSMF executive director Todd Steadman. “We’re also excited to mark the fifth year of the music festival. SSMF is a home-grown, not-for-profit festival that continues to grow each year. It is shaped by a team of venue owners who partner each year to create a unifying event that celebrates The Sunset Strip and the community of musicians and music fans it has fostered. We look forward to seeing past attendees and welcoming new fans to this year’s event.”

THE DOORS--organist RAY MANZAREK, guitarist ROBBY KRIEGER, drummer JOHN DENSMORE and late singer JIM MORRISON--have earned worldwide notoriety for being one of the most influential rock groups of all time. With an intoxicating, genre-blending sound, provocative and uncompromising songs, and the mesmerizing power of singer Jim Morrison's poetry and presence, THE DOORS had a transformative impact not only on popular music but on popular culture. The band was formed in Venice, Calif., and remains a vital piece to the legacy and history of The Sunset Strip. It was on The Strip that THE DOORS got their start at the London Fog before moving down the street to perform as the house band at the Whisky A Go-Go. A show at the Whisky in August 1966 helped them land a deal with Elektra Records, which would propel the band into international music icons.

"The  Doors are honoured to be celebrated by the magical, legendary Strip,” says RAY MANZAREK.  “A great leap forward from the Summer Of Love to today. What a great time we're going to have! The Sunset Strip. Live bands, loud music, Rock and Roll. It's the ‘60s all over again, and everyone is welcome. Dancing in the streets. Joy, Love, Peace.  And we want to get it all together just One - More - TIME! Could this be the beginning of the new Golden Age? Let it be so."  ROBBY KRIEGER says, "It's a thrill to be honoured by The Sunset Strip Music Festival this year. Venice was our home, but The Doors lived and came of age on the Sunset Strip. It's exciting to see that the legacy we helped create is still alive and thriving today!"  JOHN DENSMORE adds, "The Sunset Strip in the ‘60s was the incubation canal for an entire renaissance in music, and its impact is still with us.  The Doors are proud to be honored this year at the 5th annual SSMF celebration."

Tickets for SSMF 2012 are on sale beginning today at TicketWeb and are free of additional ticketing fees. Ticket options include general admission August 18 street festival ticket for $75 and VIP options for $135, which includes access to the rooftop VIP area with views of the West stage, VIP areas in the beer garden and venues, access to VIP lounge On The Rox, a separate entrance and additional perks. A very limited number of three-day VIP passes will also be available for $250. These special passes include access to THE DOORS celebration on Thursday, August 16, VIP access to the August 18 street festival and entrance to all of the Sunset Strip Venues on August 16, 17 and 18--House of Blues, The Roxy Theatre, Viper Room, Whisky A Go-Go and Key Club--pending capacity.

Previous SSMF performers have included Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, The Smashing Pumpkins, Slash featuring Fergie, Public Enemy, Common, Bush, LMFAO, Kid Cudi, Neon Trees, Matt & Kim, Cobra Starship and She Wants Revenge, among others.  Highlights from SSMF 2011--which drew a festival record of 15,000 music fans from Southern California and beyond--can be seen here:

Attendees traveling to SSMF can also enjoy a special offer on Virgin America flights to Los Angeles between August 13 and 21, when they book online at:

SSMF2012’s proud supporting sponsors include Virgin America, Jack Daniel’s, Gibson Guitar, Bud Light, Monster Energy Drink, Los Angeles Hornburg Range Rover and Land Rover on The Sunset Strip, Glaceau Vitaminwater, Mondrian, 98.7fm, TicketWeb, City of West Hollywood, West Hollywood Marketing & Visitors Bureau and Clear Channel Outdoor. Street fest/event production provided by Swing House Hollywood. Festival creative provided by Signature Creative.

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Thousands of Roses For Third Anniversary of Death of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson
Yesterday was the third anniversary of singer and entertainer Michael Jackson’s death as a result of an overdose.

Neverland Valley Ranch
Michael Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, the eighth of ten children, and he died at the age of 50 on June 25 2009. He grew up in a musical family, joining with his brothers to form The Jackson 5, and went on to be a performer in his own right, and is remembered for his contribution to music, dance, and fashion gaining the title “King of Pop”.

In May 1994, Jackson married the daughter of Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley. Michael Jackson's 1982 album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time.

More than 11,000 long-stemmed roses have been placed on his grave
at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale by his adoring fans to mark the 3rd anniversary of his death. 

To read more about the life and times of Michael Jackson click on this link, Michael Jackson: An interactive timeline courtesy of the Los Angeles Times..