Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Sydney New Years Eve Fireworks

Tonight people around the world will say goodbye to 2013 and welcome in the mew year of 2014. Sydney will celebrate in a big way with three fireworks displays.

Sydney's fireworks attract more people than 1.6million people, which is a bigger crowd than in Paris, London and New York. The fireworks will consist of a whopping 11.000 shells, 25,000 shooting comets and 1000,000 individual pyrotechnic effects, totally seven tonnes of fireworks. To set off the fireworks twelve computers and 45 pyrotechnicians will be used, sending 10,000 cues so that the fireworks are synchronised with music. Teams of people have been working on the production for more than 15 months.

The centrepiece will be a 12 storey bridge effect created after midnight, made up of more than 16klm of rope light. This year more than 1,000 fireworks will be set off from the top of the Sydney Opera House.

There will be actually three fireworks displays in Sydney
  • 9pm Family Fireworks Display
  • 10.30pm Brief Display showing Reg Mombassa's (the Creative Ambassador of this years display) own fireworks and the winning entry in a firework display competition created by Queensland teenager Tiffany Drew
  • 12.00 Midnight Fireworks 

As well as the fireworks, Sydney Harbour will also be the scene of a host of activities, including aerial acrobatic shows, fire tugs, images projected on the Bridge pylons, Boat Parade of 51 boats decorated with lights, and concerts.

For those who can not be on the harbour, they can watch the fireworks on ABC1 TV.

Times Square To Light Up On New Year’s Eve

Every year as the clock nears midnight on December 31st, the eyes of the world turn once more to the dazzling lights and bustling energy of Times Square. Anticipation runs high. New Year’s Eve at the symbolic center of New York City has become more than just a celebration – it’s a global tradition.

As the famous New Year’s Eve Ball descends from the flagpole atop One Times Square, an estimated one million people in Times Square, millions nationwide and over a billion watching throughout the world are united in bidding a collective farewell to the departing year, and expressing our joy and hope for the year ahead.

The Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration features star-studded musical performances, balloons, handouts, confetti, a colorful pyrotechnic display and about a million of your closest friends.

London’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks Display to Woo Tourists

London’s spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks display at the EDF Energy London Eye is famous around the world. At midnight, Big Ben’s famous “bongs” will ring out, followed by the UK’s largest annual fireworks display.

Celebrations will continue until 12:45am with a live DJ set – staying until the end will make it easier to leave the viewing areas and go home. Each year around 250,000 people watch the fireworks in central London.

There are designated viewing areas, which will close once full. You can see a detailed map of the viewing areas here. Visitors will be re-directed to other viewing areas as they fill up. If you are not in a designated viewing area by 10:30pm you will not be able to see the fireworks.

If you don’t fancy braving the crowds, you can watch the fireworks live on BBC One! If you are travelling into Central London on New Year’s Eve, make sure you plan your journey in advance. There will be major changes to regular Tube and train services, plus road and bridge closures.

There will be queuing systems and may be different routes and station exits on the night. See a map of walking routes here. You may not be able to travel home using the same route that you took in.

Plan your journey in advance with Transport for London (TfL), and make sure you follow the directions of stewards and police on the night. Transport on all TfL journeys is free between 11.45pm on New Year’s Eve, and 4:30am on New Year’s Day.

Public transport will be extremely busy – your journey will take much longer than usual, and queues of up to 90 minutes are expected at stations close to the fireworks once they’ve finished. Consider walking part of your journey home.

Spotlight on Luxury Travel in Vietnam and Cambodia at ATF 14

Over 1,600 delegates are expected to attend, including some 150 ASEAN tourism ministers and officials, 500 ASEAN exhibitors, 500 international buyers, 100 international and local media as well as 100 tourism trade visitors.

Award-winning luxury tour operator Luxury Travel Ltd. will display at the ATF 2014 a range of new niche products, responsible tourism, MICE ideas, Fam trips and other services in luxury travel across Vietnam and Cambodia.

The beauty of Vietnam and Cambodia is that they continue to evolve without diluting its cultural heritage. They achieve that delicate balance between modernity and the past, calm space and clamorous activity, elegance and authenticity. Over the next five to ten years, they look set to add even more offerings for the luxury traveler.

The luxury traveler is being tempted with new boutique hotels, experiences and tours, such as flying to Halong Bay from Hanoi by helicopter. Vietnam’s tourism infrastructure has improved a fast-growing list of modern luxury and spa destinations and recently opened golf courses, the launch of luxury yacht and river cruise services ensure stress-free journeys away from the busy roads. Such improvements account for the country’s recent growth in popularity.Luxury Travel Ltd is offering travel professionals fam trips to experience Vietnam and take on the role of a Vietnam travel specialist. The programme is designed for travel sellers and they join what the company claims are its “bestselling tours starting in Hanoi and ending in Saigon.”

The trips depart on the first of every month, with an optional extension to Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia or a Vietnam beach resort. Fam trip bookings are available online, but for detailed information travel agents can contact Luxury Travel’s sales and marketing director, Hung Nguyen.

Pham Ha says: “The beauty of our luxury tours is the first-hand knowledge and excellent service of local travel experts. Our trips have been carefully designed to capture the creme-de-la-creme, and allow travellers to really experience the culture, flow smoothly from place to place, and allow time for relaxation and personal discovery.”The highlight at this year’s event will be special packages to Vietnam and Cambodia. The 12-day Vietnam package leaves on the first day of each month from Ho Chi Minh while the 14-day Cambodian journey leaves Hanoi on the 15th of each month.

Ha says, “In response to market demand, our set departure offering will enable our travel partners and their clients the opportunity to book luxury tours on a predictable and affordable basis.”Luxury Travel offers services not only for tour operators and travels agents, MICE planners, but also for leisure-free independent travellers worldwide.

The company opened a Argentina sales offices earlier this year and is venturing into the Latin America market, with the aim of attaining double-digit growth in 2014. Luxury Travel has also entered into a joint venture with Asia Premium Travel marking the debut of Cambodia’s first high-end tour operator.

‘2014 China Jiuzhaigou International Ice Fall Tourism Festival’ to Give an Impetus to China’s Tourism Market

China waits excitedly to launch its Ninth International Ice Fall Tourism Festival at Jiuzhaigou, a well-known tourist destination in China, scheduled for Jan 12, 2014. Joao Manuel Costa Antunes, Chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Ninan Chacko, Global Chief Executive Officer of PR Newswire and over 300 representatives from world-renowned media organizations and the tourism industry will grace the occasion.

In a move to improve its competitive position and transform it into a year-round tourism locale, the brand ‘The Ice Fall Tourism Festival’ has been created by Jiuzhaigou to promote the scenic spot as an appealing winter destination. The series of consecutively held festivals have significantly advanced the development of the tourism market for Jiuzhaigou by adding extensively to the spot’s winter and spring traffic. During the first quarter of 2013, Jiuzhaigou witnessed 315,000 visits by tourists from both within China and abroad, an increase of 92,779 visits (41.5%) year on year.

Series of events, including the Opening Ceremony of Ice Fall Tourism Festival, the Fifth International “Smart Park” Forum, “Comprehensive Culture and Beautiful Aba” – 2014 International Introduction to Tourism and Tourism Marketing as well as local folk culture-themed exhibitions and performances will be the special attractions of the festival.

Throughout the winter, the 2014 International Ice Fall will also introduce related tourism packages and special offers to Jiuzhaigou’s visitors. This marketing strategy is a move to further strengthen the partnership with domestic and foreign tourism agencies, scenic spot operators, travel businesses, new media, airlines and hotels, heighten the importance of the cultural side of the tourism sector in Jiuzhaigou and promote Jiuzhaigou as a beautiful winter tourist destination as well as a venue where one can experience local folk culture. Additionally, these events will also enhance the presence of Jiuzhaigou’s winter tourism brands and balance out Jiazhaigou’s tourism traffic across the four seasons.

Still Room to Promote Malaysia in Russia

Although the number of Russians visiting Malaysia is rising, there is still room to further promote Malaysia in Russia, Russian envoy Lyudmila G. Vorobyeva said.

“I really would like to see perhaps a little bit more information about Malaysia in Russia promoted by your board (Tourism Malaysia) because Malaysia is a very attractive place and I know that all Russians who’ve been here were very happy with their stay in Malaysia,” she told Bernama in Kuala Lumpur recently.

The ambassador to Malaysia made the observation when asked to comment about the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 through which the Ministry of Tourism and Culture is targeting 28 million international tourists.

“Langkawi is very much known in Russia whereas Malaysia has many more places to offer.

However, Russian tourists are now starting to explore these other places. For instance, many of them are also going to Sabah now,” she said.

She said that tourism was a very promising area for bilateral cooperation and as such, it was very important to not only target Moscow and Saint Petersburg but also the Asian part of Russia (Siberia) and the Pacific Coast.

The ambassador said this year the number of Russians visiting Malaysia was expected to double to 80,000, compared with 44,765 visitors last year.

“We expect this number to grow because Southeast Asia as a whole is becoming one of the major tourist destinations for Russians,” Vorobyeva said, adding that last year one million Russians visited Thailand, 200,000 Indonesia and 100,000 Vietnam.

Vorobyeva said Southeast Asia also presented a very good mixture of interesting culture with warm and welcoming people.

The region is also blessed with beautiful nature as well as the warm sea and beaches which Russians love most, whenever they want to escape the cold Russian winter, she added.

Sochi Gears Up to Host Resort and Tourism 2014

In 2014, the exhibition “Resorts and Tourism” will mark a solid exhibition event for completing ​​20 years. During all the years of the exhibition, it was not just a showcase of domestic tourist industry, but also the existing platform to discuss and address critical industry issues. That exhibition will celebrate its 20th anniversary and will be very important for Sochi and for the Russian resort business year.

In 2014, the city will host the Winter Olympics, which also became a major event, attracting millions of people to the Black Sea coast, and that factor poses a lot of tourist industry hard questions: what's next? what's new? and what interesting things to offer in the main resort area of ​​Russia, received the so-called post-Olympic legacy with all its “pros” and “cons”?

Guests Sochi 2014 year – this seaside resort, is especially interesting in that it will be the site of the biggest events of global scale – XXII Olympic Winter Games in 2014 and XI Paralympic Winter Games. Also for the rest of Sochi – the city with improved infrastructure, offering all visitors new and interesting objects for all kinds of holiday: beach, recreation, adventure, educational, etc.

At the same time, representatives of the tourist industry of the Olympic Sochi – a city that has recently lost much of its attraction for tourists because of the large-scale construction and renovation happening. These difficulties have now ended and Sochi and other health resorts and tourist sites of the Krasnodar Territory offer comfortable and accessible tourist options for visitors. Successful promotion of tourist products requires new approaches.

These and other important issues will be central to the discussion in the framework of the business program of the exhibition “Resorts and Tourism-2014″.

All this determines the value of the exhibition “Resorts and Tourism-2014″ as a business platform for companies that aim to take its place among the leaders in working with partners and customers who are interested in an updated travel products.

Exhibition program:
  • examination of new hotels, mini-hotels, water parks, SPA-centers, sanatoriums January 10-11 (survey carried out by prior arrangement, according to the route chosen);
  • seminars, round tables and meetings of professional clubs;

  • All the participants and guests of the exhibition XX “Resorts and Tourism-2014″ are waiting for the anniversary celebrations.

Singapore Airlines Unveils New Airport Lounge

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has unveiled its new-concept SilverKris Lounge in Sydney, as part of a multi-million dollar investment program to upgrade all of the Airline’s airport lounges around the world.

Designed by renowned architectural and interior design firm ONG&ONG, the new-concept SilverKris Lounge is thoughtfully designed and modelled after elements of a home, following extensive research that included focus groups with customers.

The new design concept will be progressively introduced to all of SIA's SilverKris Lounges in 15 cities* over the next five years at an estimated cost of around $100 million. Following renovation of the Sydney lounge, which has just been completed, planning work is underway to upgrade lounges at London, Hong Kong and Singapore (Terminal 3) in 2014.

Lounge customers can look forward to distinct personal spaces that provide a sense of ‘being home’, as well as more personalised services from lounge staff and a delectable selection of food and beverages to complement SIA's in-flight offerings.

"Our customers frequently tell us that they have a feeling of ‘home’ as soon as they board our aircraft, and our aim is to extend this experience to the ground. Through our new 'home away from home' concept, the intention is for our customers to experience the feeling of being taken care of at every step of their journey," said Mr Tan Pee Teck, Singapore Airlines’ Senior Vice President Product & Services.

"Each space is thoughtfully designed to create the ambiance of ‘home’ that is familiar and comforting, adding to the warm, authentic and personalised service that Singapore Airlines is well known for."

First introduced in Sydney, the new 'home' concept SilverKris Lounge showcases SIA's unique heritage distinguished by a customised batik design screen in the welcome foyer that customers can recognise from afar.

Inside, the lounge features tastefully selected art pieces, sourced locally and from Singapore. Customers can make use of personal spaces tailored for different needs, ranging from a living room, kitchen and dining room to intimate coves for rest and relaxation.

Specially designed productivity pods will enable customers to work in privacy and comfort before their flight, while signature SIA armchairs will be a new feature at all refurbished SilverKris Lounges.

A familiar ‘taste of Singapore’ concept will also be progressively introduced at all SilverKris Lounges, with iconic dishes from Singapore such as laksa and mee siam offered alongside delectable food choices from around the world and a wide range of premium wines and spirits.

To complete the ‘home’ experience, Passenger Relations Officers, trained to deliver the personal SIA touch, will be on hand to host each customer and assist with their travel needs.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Welcoming the Year’s First Dawn: 2014 New Year’s Celebrations at Taiwan’s National Scenic Areas

2013 is coming to a close, bringing a time of joint celebration around the world. Where can you go to see off the year’s final sunset and welcome in the first dawning rays of 2014? To help you decide, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau has put together the following information on sunset/sunrise watching and New Year’s Eve events at Taiwan’s 10 national scenic areas:

1. Sunset at the Beimen Salt Fields (Beimen Township)
2. Northeast Coast Sunrise Concert (Fulong Beach)
3. Lishan Guguan New Year’s Eve Party (Taichung)
4. Welcoming the Sunset at Sun Moon Lake
5. Alishan Sunrise Impression Concert
6. Erliao Sunrise at Siraya (Erliao, Zuozhen District, Tainan)
7. Maolin Purple Butterfly Valley Biennial Butterfly Beauty Festival: Butterfly Dance Daybreak Concert (Maolin District, Kaohsiung City)
8. Greeting the Dawn of the New Year (Sanxiantai, Taitung County)
9. Green Island Low-Carbon, Round-the-Island Walk
10. New Year’s Eve Party at Donggang Township, Pingtung County
11. Greet the Dawn in Dongju (Juguang Township, Lienchiang County)

Enjoy the sunset with a fire dance, experience the beauty of the coastal sunrise or watch in wonder as seas of clouds blush under the morning sun. These and other wonders await during the many colorful events planned across Taiwan to celebrate the New Year’s holiday in style.

For event details and transportation information, please visit the Tourism Bureau’s Taiwan Tourism Information Website, or inquire at the various national scenic area administrations. The Tourism Bureau encourages visitors to make travel arrangements early and to dress appropriately for the chilly New Year’s season.

Historic Find: New Sea Creatures Discovered in Atlantic

Marine Scotland trawl surveys off the continental shelf in the North Atlantic have revealed a brand new species of large sea snail, two kinds of clams, and a marine worm. Four new species of sea creature have been discovered in ocean waters hundreds of miles off the west coast of Scotland.

The finds could indicate the presence of a cold seep, where hydrocarbons are released from the sea bed. If confirmed, it would be the first cold seep to be discovered in the surrounding area of Rockall. International experts have now confirmed that they are completely new to science — meaning the strange molluscs have managed to avoid detection during decades of underwater research around the Rockall plateau.

Richard Lochhead, Scottish Environment Secretary said, “Our oceans are often called Earth’s final frontier and these new species prove just how much we still have to learn about this rich marine habitat. Scottish waters cover an area around five times bigger than our land mass and are miles deep in places, and these hidden gems offer a fascinating glimpse of the treasures that still await discovery under the waves.”

Tourism looks promising in Cass County in 2014

According to a new report from the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, visitors to Cass County pumped about $11.3 million into the area’s economy in 2012.

The economic impact report studied the role of tourism in Indiana’s economy and took a closer look at Cass County and 39 other counties to determine the effects of visitor spending. According to the report, tourism-related spending accounted for about $10 billion in revenues for businesses across the state.

Visitor spending supported 219 local jobs and $4.5 million in total wages and proprietor income for those employees, according to the Cass County Visitors Bureau summary of the report.

In Cass County, visitors spent more in 2012 on lodging, recreation and entertainment, but slightly less in the food and beverage and retail categories, according to a release from the Cass County Visitors Bureau.

The report indicated visitor spending amounted to:
  • $2.8 million spent on lodging
  • $3.7 million on food and beverage
  • $3.4 million on shopping
  • $40,000 on entertainment and recreation
  • $1 million on transportation.
About 95 cents of every dollar stayed local, too, the report noted.

Toni Savini, Cass County Visitors Bureau executive director said that this is the first one the state has done in at least five years. Across Indiana, about 76 cents of every dollar stayed in-state, according to a summary of the report published by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.

Savini said the report didn’t address why a greater proportion of visitor spending stayed in Cass County than the state average, but suggested it could be because major recreational facilities are owned by the county.

The report defined visitors as those traveling from at least 50 miles away for a trip that’s not part of their routine, or those coming for an overnight stay, according to the IOTD press release.

France Park and youth sports are two of the biggest draws to the area, Savini said based on her experience. The visitors’ bureau is currently in talks with France Park director Lucas Beach to promote the park’s zip line, which was installed this summer.

The bureau is looking to exploit the growing market for outdoor recreation in other ways, too. A map of the county’s bike routes — including the Panhandle Pathway and Little Turtle Waterway, among others — is due to be released sometime in January.

Savini said that 2014 looks really promising, and with the trail system established in the county now, along with France Park, there are a lot of great things happening.

Cambodia accepts open letter on Travel and Tourism

The Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, affirmed tourism’s role as an important agenda item for the sustainable development of Cambodia’s tourism as he became the 13th Head of State in Asia to receive the UNWTO/WTTC Open Letter on Travel and Tourism.

“In spite of the worldwide economic crisis, Cambodia enjoys continuous tourism growth. Tourism in Cambodia grew from scratch to 4.2 million foreign visitors expected this year of 2013,” said Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Tourism development has been taken by the Cambodian government as a priority for the sustainable development of our cultural and natural heritage sites,” he added.

“Cambodia´s impressive tourism achievement over the last decade is a true success story” UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said. “With its wide variety of UNESCO heritage sites, Cambodia continues to draw tourists from all over the world and we are very happy to see the country placing tourism as a priority in their development agenda.”

Cambodia´s tourism has experienced a significant growth over the years, from 460,000 visitors in 2000 to 3.6 million in 2012, or an increase of 24% over the previous year. International tourism generated US$ 1.8 billion in receipts in 2012.

During his visit to Cambodia UNWTO Secretary-General announced that UNWTO and UNESCO will organize an International Conference on Tourism and Culture in Siem Reap in February 2015. UNWTO has been supporting Cambodia, a Member State since 1975, in its sustainable tourism initiatives through human resources training, the implementation of the national Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) system and community development projects namely the Mekong River Discovery Trail project done in cooperation with the Sustainable Tourism Eliminating Poverty (STEP) Foundation.

India’s Coastal Town Tarangambadi is Third Most Searched Travel Destination on Yahoo in India

Nine years after the picturesque coastal town of Tarangambadi was battered by tsunami, which claimed more than 700 lives, the town has undergone a total transformation and emerged among the most searched travel destinations on the Internet.

Software major Yahoo India recently published ‘Year in Review,’ its annual report on Internet search trends based on analysis of millions of searches by users in India in its search engine.

The report revealed that Tarangambadi, also called Tranquebar, is one of the most searched travel destinations in India after Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer and Wayanad in Kerala.

“Yahoo’s annual report reflects Tarangambadi’s growing popularity as a popular heritage travel destination. The town has great tourism potential and if properly tapped, it will emerge as the Goa of Tamil Nadu,” says Prof Maria Lazar, former Head of Department of Commerce, TBML College, Porayar who has done extensive research on heritage structures at Tarangambadi.

In the 17th Century, Tarangambadi became Denmark’s chief overseas settlement. They built a fort, churches, bungalows for Danish Governors, Guest Houses and the King and Queen Streets, all near the seashore. With all these monuments and ozone rich clean beach, the coastal town is now fast emerging as one of the preferred destinations on heritage tourism map.

In addition to native visitors, a large number of foreign tourists, mostly from the Scandinavian countries, visit the town every day.

Most tourism development activities in Taranagambadi were in the post-tsunami era.

Until a decade ago many Danish relics were in a dilapidated condition due to neglect.

Pained to see the poor state of the monuments erected by their forefathers, a voluntary outfit called ‘Danish Tranquebar Association’, comprising prominent citizens in Denmark came forward to renovate the monuments in 2002.

After the tsunami attack, their activities gained momentum and with the support of the Denmark Government, Tamil Nadu Government and other organisations, helped renovate many monuments in Tarangambadi and succeeded in restoring the glory of the town.

Historic Waterfront Trail Launched at Ballina

Ballina Shire’s first interpretive signage trail – Historic Ballina Waterfront – was launched this week.

The trail consists of 19 signage panels located along the pathway between North Wall and Fawcett Park in Ballina. The trail provides brief insights into the historic importance of the river to the Shire’s earliest European settlers and residents. It provides a taste of how the river has shaped, and been shaped by past residents and activity in Ballina.

Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright said: “The stories represented by the trail are by no means exhaustive; indeed they only begin to reveal the many histories that are part of our community’s past.”

“We hope the trail will be the first of a number of interpretive signage projects for Council,” said Ballina Council’s Tourism Coordinator, Caroline Klose.

“Council intends to build on this work, and provide further interpretive collateral that supports this trail.”

The trail has been developed in consultation with local historical community groups.

Council is seeking to work with the Shire’s Aboriginal community to tell its stories of the river, and is anticipating grant funding for this project.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Festive New Year Celebration in Thailand

During this festive New Year celebration, Thai people have a five-day public holiday from 28 December 2013 to 1 January 2014.

Like people elsewhere, Thais celebrate the New Year festival each year with many joyous activities. With the long holiday, many of them will have more time to travel and spend with their families.

On this occasion, the public has been invited to join Buddhist prayers at various temples across Thailand in celebration of the New Year 2014. This annual event, which takes place in the evening on 31 December until early in the morning on 1 January, is meant to bring about prosperity and happiness for the coming year.

As a New Year gift, the Ministry of Transport has allowed motorists to use certain expressways free of charge from 27 December to 3 January to facilitate travel by the people. Travelers have been urged to drive carefully for their safety. The call is also meant to reduce road accidents and casualties, which are usually high during this time of the year.

In observance of the New Year’s Day today, apart from exchanging gifts and greeting cards, Thais still maintain their style of traditional celebrations for the new year. During this festive season, they usually visit their relatives, especially the elderly, to show gratitude and respect.

There are various events up and down the country taking place in December 2013 and January 2014 to celebrate this festival.

Khanh Hoa Greets 3 Million Tourist Arrivals

The central coastal province of Khanh Hoa received more than 3 million tourist arrivals in 2013, an increase of over 29 percent against the previous year.

The figure included nearly 712,000 foreigners and 2.3 million domestic visitors, up 34 percent and 28 percent, respectively, said the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The province also welcomed 11 million others who made one-day visits.

With 150,000 arrivals, Russia topped the list of countries sending citizens to Khanh Hoa thanks to a new direct air route connecting Russia’s Far East and the province’s Cam Ranh airport and another linking Moscow and Nha Trang city.

The number of Russian tourists was followed by those of Australia, the US, France, the UK, and Germany.

The time that foreign tourists spend here also increased to more than 3.2 days per person.

There are more than 540 tourist residence facilities, including 48 three- to five-star hotels, with nearly 15,000 rooms in Khanh Hoa, where shopping and entertainment centres as well as unique tourism products are mushrooming.

In 2014, the province plans to further improve its facilities, provide more tourism products, and become a friendly, safe and healthy destination.

It will also increase collaboration with key localities such as Ho Chi Minh City and Lam Dong, Dak Lak and Ninh Thuan provinces to fully utilise its maritime and ecological tourism advantages.

100% Pure New Zealand Facebook Page Tops a Million Fans

New Zealand’s tourism high season has delivered another success for the industry with one million fans now engaging with the 100% Pure New Zealand Facebook page.

The milestone was reached earlier this week as thousands of holiday-makers flock to the country in search of beaches, BBQs and long summer evenings.

Tourism New Zealand’s Director of Marketing Andrew Fraser says one million fans is a significant achievement for the organisation with social media now the key channel for the “word of mouth” style endorsement that is actively sought by potential travellers.

“Our own research shows that the endorsement of friends and family is still the most compelling factor in helping potential visitors make travel decisions.

“Social media channels like Facebook plays perfectly in this space where “friends” of Tourism New Zealand can share and make travel recommendations and offer endorsements to others on the page.

“With one million fans of our page, the reach of this word of mouth channel is significant.

“Our use of social media is about facilitating a conversation that brings New Zealand to life through images, videos and the comments of others,” he says.

“As a communication channel, social media is continues to grow in significance with around 56 per cent of visitors using Facebook.

“Some 40 per cent of all international visitors to New Zealand are using social media while in New Zealand and 45 per cent of all our visitors are using social media to talk about their trip once they have returned home.

“This works out at around 1.2 million of our tourists sharing their trip to New Zealand on social media. When you then compare this to the reach of Facebook where the average user has 140 friends you can see the potential.

“Word of mouth is incredible important to this industry as tourism product is difficult to evaluate unless you have experienced it – which is why potential travellers are constantly seeking input from others who have been there, done that. “We regularly see our Facebook posts reaching hundreds of thousands of people in our priority markets. The high level of daily interaction with New Zealand travel content is a highly effective way to drive preference for New Zealand.”

Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) Chief Executive Martin Snedden congratulates Tourism New Zealand on the million fan milestone.

“Social media is an incredibly important way of promoting New Zealand as a tourism destination.

“Tourism businesses around the country can only benefit from Tourism New Zealand reaching out to such a huge audience who have already shown they are interested in New Zealand. We look forward to seeing Tourism New Zealand reach their second million fans.”

The national tourism plan, Tourism 2025, highlights the importance of social media and the growing demand from travellers for wifi so they can share their experiences with friends and family via social media as they travel.

Consumer engagement via social media is now a significant part of all Tourism New Zealand’s campaigns.

Andrew explains: “Being active on social media enables us to be highly targeted in reaching our key audience of people already considering New Zealand for a holiday, and it’s measurable so we can continually adapt our approach as we learn more about our consumers.”

Hong Kong Plans to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in an Innovative Manner

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) will stage a dramatic “pyrotechnic musical” interweaving fireworks, pyrotechnics, special lighting effects and music on New Year’s Eve (31 December) to usher in the year 2014 with visitors and residents of Hong Kong. The following are six highlights of the event:

  • First-time use of fireworks: For the first time, fireworks will be featured in the show,together with pyrotechnics, special lighting effects and music, to orchestrate an eight-minute pyrotechnic musical.
  • Largest scale in the event’s history: Fireworks and pyrotechnics will be launched at various heights across the harbour and on the shore, so that the show will cover an area higher and wider than in any previous edition
  • All eyes on the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre: The iconic Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre will be the focal point, with a gigantic LED screen set up next to the building to display the numerals “2014″ when the clock strikes midnight. Pyrotechnics will also be launched from the roof of seven buildings in Wan Chai and Admiralty.
  • A shore-to-shore show: The pyrotechnics will be launched in six layers, both skywards and from Tsim Sha Tsui towards the other side of the harbour.
  • Festive firework elements: Heart- and smiley-shaped fireworks will be launched to exude cheerfulness.
  • An awe-inspiring, immersive experience: Spectators will be able to fully immerse themselves in the spectacular show, as pyrotechnics will be launched close to the harbour front in Tsim Sha Tsui
The entire event will bring in a wonder struck experience for the viewers and will an inspiration for the entire world in the coming years.

Be Careful at the Beach when Swimming

Do you our your family know what a Rip looks like ? Share with family or friends spending time on the Beach this summer,the area between the arrows is not a calm place to swim. It is an out going current known as a Rip, Who knows this pic may save a loved one this Summer.

Dubai to Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Record-breaking Fireworks Display

Dubai has promised to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a record-breaking extravaganza, featuring over 400,000 fireworks, the largest display the world has ever seen, its government said.

The United Arab Emirates city state, home to the world’s tallest tower, largest man-made island and one of the world’s busiest airports, will “break the Guinness World Record for the ‘Largest Firework Display’,” a government statement said.

The six-minute show, over two of its man-made islands — The Palm Jumeirah and The World — will “feature over 400,000 colourful fireworks and a series of amazing scenes, designed exclusively for the event and set to a specially choreographed musical soundtrack.”

The display will be overseen by more than 200 pyrotechnicians, and the fireworks will be launched from 400 locations, it added.

Over the past few years, Dubai has been vying to become a permanent fixture on the world map of New Year celebrations, staging spectacular shows since the opening of the 828-metre (2,716-foot) Burj Khalifa tower in 2010.

The glitzy Gulf city, which has already established itself as a global hub for air transport and transit trade, as well as a regional financial centre, beat off opposition from Brazil, Russia and Turkey on Nov 27, to win the right to host the five-yearly World Expo trade fair in 2020.

Dubai’s economy was hit in 2009, by the global financial crisis, which caused its growing real estate sector to shed half its value.

But the economy of the emirate has made a strong comeback.

With its reputation as a liberal city in a conservative region, the Gulf city is home to an expat population of more than 200 nationalities.

New Wine Festival for Southern Highlands

Destination Southern Highlands (DSH), in conjunction with Southern Highlands Food & Wine (SHFW) will launch an exciting new festival ‘WINE TIME’ to run from 26 February to 23 March 2014.

This festival will promote the Southern Highlands as a key food and wine destination via a range of new trade and consumer events.

WINE TIME will commence with the Dan Murphy’s Australian Highlands Wine Show to be held on 26 and 27 February 2014, the third annual national wine show for wines produced from grapes grown at over 500m in Australia, and the inaugural Australian Cider Awards on 28 February, a new national competition for ciders produced in Australia.

“The introduction of this new festival in March will strengthen the now annual Southern Highlands Food & Wine Festival in September, continuing to reinforce just what a major contributor the food and wine industry is to the Southern Highlands region and tourism sector,” said Steve Rosa, Group Manager, Destination Southern Highlands.

WINE TIME’s program of events already taking shape include:
  • Sunday 9 March: the Southern Highlands will welcome Australia’s leading wine and travel writers for a ‘Wine & Wickets’ event to be played at Bradman Oval and hosted by the Bradman International Cricket Hall of Fame.
  • Saturday 15 March: the ‘Australian Highlands Wine Show’ Top 40 Public Tasting will return to the Bowral Memorial Hall. Entry fee includes wine tastings of all the wines, which received awards at the Dan Murphy’s Australian Highland Wine Show. There is also the opportunity to meet the wine-maker and enjoy delicious canapé-style finger food, featuring local produce.

“We want March to celebrate the harvest season and signify WINE TIME in the Southern Highlands and we want to be able to include as many events as possible throughout this month. The SHFW Association and Destination Southern Highlands are encouraging the region’s tourism industry to be part of WINE TIME and to create events that can be included in the Festival Program,” Mr Rosa said.

If you have an event which you would like to feature in WINE TIME, March 2014, please contact Destination Southern Highlands to express your interest – call (02) 4871 2888 or email trish.bow@wsc.nsw.gov.au

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Malaysia Airlines Flies to Vancouver by Code Sharing with Japan Airlines

Malaysia Airlines and Japan Airlines have established a new code share destination that took effect starting 24 December 2013. This would give the national carrier access to Vancouver, Canada via Tokyo.

The new code share will see Japan Airlines services from Narita to Vancouver and vice versa carrying the Malaysia Airlines flight code.

MH9770 will depart Narita at 6.05pm daily and arrive at Vancouver at 10.00am local Canadian time the same day. Meanwhile MH9769 will depart Vancouver at 1.00pm daily and arrive at Narita at 4.30pm the next day. The Japan Airlines code for this service is JL018 and JL017 respectively. Guests from Malaysia can connect to these services on any of Malaysia Airlines’ 11x/weekly services between Kuala Lumpur and Narita. Malaysia Airlines also code shares on Japan Airlines’ daily services on the same route.

To promote this code-share, Malaysia Airlines is now offering attractive all inclusive return fares to Vancouver starting from RM3158 for economy class travel and RM14299 for Business Class travel.

Malaysia Airlines’ Group Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Jauhari said, “Malaysia Airlines is very pleased to offer our customers an extended reach to Vancouver via Tokyo. This code share will also allow access for Japan Airlines customers from Vancouver into Kuala Lumpur. This is also our initiative towards enhancing air connectivity with key priority markets overseas for increased tourist arrivals into Malaysia and in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year 2014.”

Malaysia Airlines currently flies direct to over 60 destinations worldwide and a further 800 destinations in more than 150 countries via its oneworld partners.

Experience Something Different with Shangri-La

New “Experience It” MICE Programme Features Activities that Engage and Inspire

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has enhanced its global meeting and event offerings with a new Experience It programme featuring engaging and inspiring activities tied to hotels’ corporate social responsibility and sustainability initiatives.

Participating in activities with elements of CSR helps create memorable experiences and fosters greater connections among attendees while providing a taste of the local way of life, playful learning about environmentally friendly practices or promoting health and wellness.

“Meeting organisers are asking for alternative offerings that will spark creativity and engagement and have CSR elements, so we’ve created a menu of themed breaks, team-building exercises and activities that will cater to this need and energise attendees,” said Mandy Chan, Shangri-La’s director of corporate events management. “Planting coral cones in a marine sanctuary, painting a school, engaging with local farmers on an eco-tour, these are just a few of the many ‘Experience It’ activities available at our hotels.”

Launched this month, the menu of Experience It activities are designed around three categories:
  • People & Planet - including activities with children from a hotel’s local Embrace, Shangri-La’s Care for People project as well as conservation activities under Sanctuary, Shangri-La’s Care for Nature projects.
  • Green – utilizing eco-friendly amenities like glass water bottles or on-site venues such as herb gardens and solar decks and incorporating elements of environmental efficiency.
  • Be Well – featuring fresh, sustainable and local dining options, and healthy and rejuvenating activities.

Experience Something Different with Shangri-La

“Several clients have already incorporated ‘Experience It’ activities into their meeting programmes in Beijing, Singapore and the Philippines, and we expect this to be a growing trend in 2014,” said Chan.

For detailed information on Shangri-La’s Experience It programme, visit www.shangri-la.com.

Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, one of the world’s premier hotel companies, currently owns and/or manages more than 80 hotels under the Shangri-La brand with a room inventory of over 34,000. Over four decades the group has established its brand hallmark of ‘hospitality from the heart.’ The group has a substantial development pipeline with upcoming projects in mainland China, India, Mongolia, Philippines, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Yangon and the United Kingdom.

A New Record: 25 Million Overnight Stays in Berlin

For the first time in history, Berlin has had more than 25 million overnight stays in a year. Berlin’s Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit and visitBerlin CEO Burkhard Kieker welcomed anniversary guest Christel Pröbstl, 59, from Egling near Munich.

Klaus Wowereit commented: “25 million overnight stays – that’s a new record in the continuing success story of Berlin tourism. The city’s reputation as an exciting city and its success as a destination for tourists from around the world can be attributed to its open and liberal attitudes. That’s what we’ve been promoting about our city for these past twenty years. Many people have contributed to this success story, including the city’s hotels, restaurants, clubs, museums, theatres, conventions and trade shows.”

“Berlin offers a diverse mix of lifestyles and unique cultural offerings surrounded by the places where key events in world history took place. In addition, Berlin represents freedom for so many people. That’s what visitors to Berlin find so fascinating about our city,” says Burkhard Kieker, CEO of visitBerlin. “This record number of overnight stays is due in large part to the amazing hospitality of our fellow Berliners. And for that, we say thank you.”

Willy Weiland, President of the Berlin Hotel and Restaurant Association, adds: “The positive and sustained growth in tourism demonstrates what Berlin’s hospitality industry is capable of.”

More than 26 million expected by year’s end

From January to October, 9.6 million individual guests had travelled to Berlin. The Berlin Brandenburg Statistical Office calculates that this equalled 22.9 million overnight stays by the end of October, meaning that the record number of 25 million has surely been surpassed.

visitBerlin expects far more than 26 million overnight stays and eleven million visitors to Germany’s capital by the end of the year. These figures only include guests registered at hotels. If one were to count those staying with relatives or in vacation rentals, the figure would certainly be much higher.

As of October, the German capital was reckoning an annual growth in tourism of 8.4 %, by far the fastest growing top destination in Europe. Berlin thus remains one of the three most sought-after destinations in Europe, after London and Paris.

Germany remains most important origin of visitors to Berlin

Many Germans are making their way to their capital city: The figures from October show that 5.9 million Germans had visited the capital in the first ten months of the year (+4.3%). They currently make up 57.1% of the city’s guests. Internationally, Berlin is particularly popular with visitors from the UK, USA, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Spain. The largest growth in visitor numbers, however, came from Eastern Europe, the Asia/Pacific region and the Arab Gulf States.

Every overnight guest spends an average of 204.70 € per day while in Berlin, meaning good news for the city’s hospitality and retail sectors. With gross revenues of about 10.3 billion Euro, tourism and the convention industry are the most important economic factor in Berlin (source: Wirtschaftsfaktor für Berlin: Tourismus- und Kongressindustrie, visitBerlin, 2012). This also helps to attract investors to the city.

Berlin expresses its gratitude

At today’s event at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit and visitBerlin CEO Burkhard Kieker expressed their thanks in person to the anniversary guests. In addition to being invited to this special event, Christl Pröbstl, who came to Berlin with her husband Hans, 63, for a short break, won another trip to Berlin for the coming year, a Berlin WelcomeCard and vouchers for the DDR Museum, for a spa stay at the Liquidrom and dinner in the restaurant at the top of the TV Tower.

Malaysia Expects to Attract Two Million Chinese Tourist Arrivals Next Year

Malaysia is expected to attract two million Chinese tourist arrivals next year in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014.

Malaysia managed to attract a total of 1.45 million Chinese tourist arrivals for the period from January to September, a rise of 32.6 per cent compared to the same period last year, said Noran Ujang, director of Tourism Malaysia’s Beijing Office.

Hence, he expressed confidence that although Malaysia’s target was 1.7 million Chinese tourist arrivals this year, it would be able to attract two million tourist arrivals from the world’s second largest economy in 2014, he told Malaysian media during a briefing with local travel agents in Beijing.

A total of 10 tourism exhibitions and fairs were expected to be held in China next year, including China’s northern city of Harbin’s Ice Sculpture Competition, Fishing Expo, Golf Show, and VMY 2014 grand fair, which would be held in May with more special fares promotion to be expected, said Noran.

He said a total of 21 new tourism initiatives would be implemented next year, including golf tourism, “Love Tour, Love Malaysia” silver-haired tour packages, fishing elite Malaysia tournament tour packages, “Ma Shang Liu Lian”durian tour packages and “fly and ride” packages.

General manager of BTG Outbound Tours Li Shuang said the company was expected to bring about 2,000 to 3,000 Chinese tourists in next year, especially from Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) segment.

Currently, China recorded about 200 million elderly demographic which accounted for 14.8 per cent of the total population.

Fish Tale Adventures, the first fishing company in China which is also a Malaysian based company, will organise fishing elite Malaysia tournament tour packages every year.

General Manager of Grand Tour Golf Travel Service, Richard Song said the Malaysian government had invested heavily in golf courses in recent years to emerge as one of the Chinese golfers’ favourite destinations.

Burkina Faso - Increasingly Popular with Tourists

The Burkina Faso means "land of upright people ". Sahelian countries, Burkina Faso is located in West Africa within the loop of the Niger. Continental country of 274,200 km2, more than sixty ethnic groups, speaking more than 120 dialects. Burkina Faso is bordered to the North and North East by Mali and Niger to the south and southeast by the Cote d' Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin. This location "central" because of Burkina Faso the entrance door in the West African region.

Population Today

The population of Burkina Faso is estimated at around 15 million distributed in 8317 cities and villages. Burkina Faso, has 13 regions managed by governors, 45 provinces run by high commissioners, 355 run by prefects and more than 350 rural communes departments. It should nevertheless be noted that the rating d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso border country houses an important Burkinabe diaspora estimated at about 3 million people. The presence of this diaspora in Côte d'Ivoire is mainly due to the transfer during the period of colonization, a labor for the work in the plantations of coffee and cacao. This workforce settled there and Cote d' Ivoire, has remained until recently a land of emigration to the Burkinabe. There is a slight predominance of women. Approximately 52 % of the population is female. The population is young, about 48 % of the population under 16. The population aged 65 and over is only 3.7% of the population.


Burkina Faso is a secular state, multifaith. There are three major religious groups. Muslims (54.8%) , Animists (24.8%), Christians (21%), but nowadays the trend has many advanced But despite all Burkinabe remain animists.

Climate & Vegetation

Seasons in Burkina Faso is characterized by the alternation : a dry season whose length ranges from eight months in the North, five or six months in the South. A wet season or rainy season which runs from May to October in the south and from June to October in the north.

1 - The Burkina Faso is divided into three climatic regions : - The Sudanian zone, which occupies the southwest. This is the most humid with a rainy season that lasts six months and rainfall up to 1300 mm per year.

2 - The Sudano-Sahelian zone that stretches across central Burkina and is the country's largest climatic region (about ½ of the area of ​​Burkina). The rainy season lasts from four to five months and rainfall is between 600 and 900mm per year.

3 - The Sahelian zone: this is the driest climate zone. It occupies the northern part of Burkina Faso. The precipitation may be less than 150 mm annually.

4 - Temperatures: whatever the time of year, temperatures are still above freezing.

Strengths and tourist areas:

5 - The central area includes the capital and regions of the Central Plateau, Central and West South Central . There is the national museum, the music, the craft village, monuments and traditional architecture, artisanal crafts center, carving granite Laongo, ponds sacred crocodiles of Sabou, Bazoulé the sacred crocodile pond, the zoo Ziniaré the Bangré - Weogo park Ouagadougou, Koubri Monastery ( 30 km from Ouagadougou) and the Museum of Manéga (the largest private museum in Africa with about 10,000 objects. This is an area of ​​business tourism, conferences and cultural.

6 - The area of ​​the west, which includes the Hauts Ponds, waterfalls, Southwest and Mouhoun. This is the area of ​​tourism and resort discoveries as consisting of many natural sites and many ancient traditions are still practiced . It counts several equally attractive as each other . Attractions (natural sites), waterfall Karfiguela, the tavern of Nasso, the pond Hippos Tingrela the Sindou Peaks, Mount Ténakourou, pool sacred Bobo-Dioulasso protective engineering and emblem of the city of Bobo- Dioulasso. (archaeological sites), Ruins Loropeni fish which have been listed as World Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO), June 26, 2009 in Seville (Spain), Cave Koro and the Mausoleums of Princess Guimbi Ouattara and Tiefo Amoro , railway station Bobo- Dioulasso Borodougou . ( architectural sites), buildings of Lobi, Dioulassoba mosque of Bobo-Dioulasso. In addition, the craftsmanship is much developed in this region. Pottery of Lobi , Dagara country weaving, bronze e Bobo -Dioulasso, Bolomakoté Musicians district of Bobo-Dioulasso where you can see the making of traditional instruments. The diversity of sites in West gives this region also enjoys a pleasant climate, great attractiveness. It adds the Ethnographic Museum Gaoua Obiré and sanctuaries of kings Gans.

7 - The Eastern Zone is the area of ​​hunting tourism and vision par excellence. It is home to many national parks and reserves: Arly Park W shared between Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso with an area 235,000 ha for Burkinabè.les part Arly wildlife reserves and Pama part a set of partial or total reserves and forest reserves. Many African wildlife such as lions, hippos, hartebeest, buffalo, elephants, panthers, Cobs Buffon Cob défassas Cobas horse or antelope.

8 - The Sahel region is very favorable to tourism adventures and raids. You will encounter nomads and their cultures ( Fulani , Tuareg, Bellas , Songhai ) You can visit the mosques of Bani , of gold mining sites, dunes Oursi , the Archaeological Museum Oursi , the pool of Oursi which houses a wide variety of migratory birds, the village of Tin'Akof , cave paintings and Pobe Mengao Arbinda . Multicolored Gorom- Gorom markets and Markoye Bam Lake production site green beans (exported to Europe).

Cultural events

9 - Beyond the sites and species that can be seen in Burkina Faso, there are cultural dimensions that are very interesting. Cultural events of different ethnic groups in Burkina Faso are exceptional opportunities for discoveries of rich tourist heritage. As such there is the National Week of Culture ( CNS) , which takes place the last week of March in even years in Bobo- Dioulasso.

10 - The Festival of Masks and arts Dédougou ( FESTIMA ) , it is a festival , which takes place in the
first week of March , which brings together all companies masks the South West.

11 - International Fair of Crafts Ouagadougou (SIAO ) became arguably the largest permanent event in the world of African crafts. It attracts exhibitors, buyers, collectors, decorators, visitors from Africa, Europe, America, and Asia. In addition to its commercial nature, SIAO has some cultural interest by the quality and variety of the exhibited works . SIAO is a biennial that takes place in even years alternating with the FESPACO.

12 - The Pan African Film Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO ). This festival of African cinema was created in 1969 in Ouagadougou by some passionate moviegoers. Its development and rapid notoriety led in 1972 to the creation of a state institution responsible for its organization and management.

13 - The annual festival flutes San Sawa, it takes place in a small village near Toma, held annually in the month of April. A festival dedicated to the expression of the traditional flute San.

14 - The festival of archery Gaoua in Lobi (LE FEST'ARC ). It is a festival, which has recently created the initiative of a group of associations of the Southwest, the event aims to promote a handy feature of the Lobi culture.

16. The festival of culture and arts Tiébélé. It is a festival of art and popular tradition, devoted to Kassena culture. It has been held since 2002 in late February early March. Highlights are archery, traditional music and dance ( Djongo ), Nagla theater and mural contest reserved for women, the representative of the architecture Kassena.

*written by guest writer tour guide Stephane Barro
Telephone: OO226 70 83 93 99 or 00226 75 53 72 45
Email: guidestephane1@yahoo.fr

Tooth Fairy Cleans Up Sydney Aquarium Shark Teeth

The Tooth Fairy made a special visit to Sea Life Sydney Aquarium to collect the growing number of teeth shed in the Shark Valley Oceanarium.

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium held the massive clean-up to prepare for the brand new Shark Mission experience launched on Saturday 21 December – an immersive experience, which is set to challenge common misconceptions about sharks and educate adults and kids about the plight of the world’s most misunderstood ocean predators.

Considering the Shark Valley Oceanarium has almost 20 large sharks capable of shedding up to 1,000 teeth a year, it is no surprise that the Tooth Fairy had her work cut out. However, after delving into the depths of the Oceanarium, surrounded by beautiful shark species, including huge three-metre Grey Nurse and Lemon Sharks and the Port Jackson sharks, she was able to collect nearly 100 teeth on her first mission.

“Little do people know that a shark has as many as four conveyor belt rows of teeth and are capable of going through 30,000 teeth in a lifetime. So to show visitors just how remarkable these misunderstood creatures of the sea really are, we thought it was fitting to hire the Tooth Fairy to come in and clean-up the Shark Valley Oceanarium ahead Shark Mission,” said Claudette Rechtorik, Sea Life Conservation Fund Manager.

A shark’s curious dental health is just one of many weird and wonderful facts that kids can sink their teeth into as part of the Shark Mission experience this summer. The new interactive exhibit will provide visitors with 360-degree views of 10 different shark species, the chance to marvel at these fascinating creatures in the brand new Shark Nursery and Shark Valley Tunnels as well as discover compelling facts about shark anatomy and habitats with giant interactive touch screens.

For a larger-than-life experience, there will also be the opportunity to climb inside the gargantuan jaws of a Megladon shark, the biggest prehistoric shark that ever lived, whose teeth are nearly 10 times the size of a great White Shark. Kids can also delve into a new, fun interactive trail to learn all about sharks by touching jaws in an interactive game, revealing a shark’s diet, interacting with a 3D maze displaying how sharks use their senses, and much more.

For more information on the soon-to-be launched Shark Mission, please visit: www.sydneyaquarium.com.au

Friday, 27 December 2013

Macau introduces Mobile App “Step Out, Macau”

Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) launches an iPhone App named “Step Out, Macau” today (27 December) so that citizens and visitors can enjoy easy access to information about the four walking tour routes of the project “Step Out, Experience Macau’s Communities” on phone. With the new mobile app, users can explore various walking tour routes more conveniently for a wonderful travel experience.

MGTO unveiled the first four walking tour routes under the theme “Step Out, Experience Macau’s Communities” in September, encouraging visitors to explore different quarters in Macau for fascinating encounters and local traditions. The four routes include “A Tour of Historical Trails”, “A Tour of Nature and Creativity”, “A Tour of East Meets West” and “A Tour of Arts and Culture”. In line with the four walking tours, the “Step Out, Macau” App not only provides maps and videos of the four routes but also introduces various tourist spots along the routes as well as transportation tips in the first stage. Other functions will be successively available including virtual reality, social network and instant information.

The app is available in Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, English and Portuguese. Citizens and visitors are welcome to download the app for use. Users may search and download the app for free from App Store by entering the key word “Step Out, Macau”,

MGTO is actively promoting community tourism, guiding visitors to stroll around various local quarters leisurely and discover hidden gems in town. At the same time, the Office will continue to provide Macau travel information through multimedia and interactive channels.

Bangkok Shopping Mall tops list of the most Instagrammed places in 2013

The popular Bangkok luxury shopping mall, Siam Paragon, has emerged as the world’s most Instagrammed location of 2013. This is the second year in a row that a Thai location has topped the list. In 2012, the chart-topper was Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Siam Paragon was Number Two on the list in 2012, and has risen to Number One in 2013. Although Suvarnabhumi Airport has dropped to Number Nine in this year’s list, Thailand is still the only country outside the United States with two locations on the list.

The most Instagrammed locations of 2013
1. Siam Paragon, Bangkok
2. Times Square, New York
3. Disneyland, Anaheim, California
4. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas
5. Disney World Florida
6. Staples Centre, Los Angeles
7. Central Park, New York
8. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
9. Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), Bangkok
10. The High Line, New York

As Instagram is hugely popular with global tourists, both Siam Paragon and Suvarnabhumi Airport have provided visitors with extensive opportunities for attractive photographic backdrops featuring a range of cultural, floral and architectural icons of Thailand.

Both have taken advantage of their locations as major transportation hubs and the global technological revolution to generate millions of dollars worth of free publicity for Thai travel and tourism.

Siam Paragon is located at the primary interchange station of Bangkok’s popular mass transit system, the Skytrain, used by thousands of city visitors every day. Built at a cost of US$450 million, it is one of the biggest shopping centres in Asia.

Opened in December 2005, it includes a wide range of specialty stores and restaurants as well as a multiplex movie theatre, the largest aquarium in South East Asia, an exhibition hall, a Thai art gallery, an opera concert hall, a large bowling alley and karaoke centre. These provide perfect venues for a ceaseless range of activities from fashion and flower shows to trade events and film festivals.

Suvarnabhumi is Thailand’s primary aviation hub, recording more than 23 million embarking passengers and 1.3 million transit passengers in 2012. Its departure halls are dominated by photo-friendly icons of Thai culture and heritage; such as, the famous King of the Nagas, the mythical giant guardians of Thai temples and replicas of stupas which house relics of the Buddha.

Millions of tourists who visit Thailand, especially first-timers from China and India, are seen taking photographs of themselves along with their travelling companions in front of these colourful and iconic images.

Overall, the Instagram popularity of these two locations saw Bangkok hit Number Two on the chart of the world’s most Instagrammed cities, behind New York City. This was largely due to the popularity of New York’s primary tourist spot, Times Square.

The list of 10 most Instagrammed Cities:
1. New York
2. Bangkok
3. Los Angeles
4. London
5. São Paulo
6. Moscow
7. Rio de Janeiro
8. San Diego, California
9. Las Vegas
10. San Francisco

Commenting on the results, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Thawatchai Arunyik said, “This is an example of how technological opportunities can be merged with our well-known Thai heritage and culture to generate positive publicity of infinite value. Thai people are known for being creative and artistic. We are glad to see these characteristics producing such wonderful results for promoting the country.”

International Public Relations Division
Tourism Authority of Thailand
1600 New Petchaburi Road, Makkasan, Ratchathevi
Bangkok 10400
Tel: 66 (0) 2250 5500 ext.4545-4548
Fax: 66 (0) 2253 7419
Email: prdiv3@tat.or.th

Bangkok Shopping Mall Tops List of the Most Instagrammed Places in 2013

The popular Bangkok luxury shopping mall, Siam Paragon, has emerged as the world’s most Instagrammed location of 2013. This is the second year in a row that a Thai location has topped the list. In 2012, the chart-topper was Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Siam Paragon was Number Two on the list in 2012, and has risen to Number One in 2013. Although Suvarnabhumi Airport has dropped to Number Nine in this year’s list, Thailand is still the only country outside the United States with two locations on the list.

The most Instagrammed locations of 2013

1. Siam Paragon, Bangkok
2. Times Square, New York
3. Disneyland, Anaheim, California
4. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas
5. Disney World Florida
6. Staples Centre, Los Angeles
7. Central Park, New York
8. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
9. Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), Bangkok
10. The High Line, New York

As Instagram is hugely popular with global tourists, both Siam Paragon and Suvarnabhumi Airport have provided visitors with extensive opportunities for attractive photographic backdrops featuring a range of cultural, floral and architectural icons of Thailand.

Both have taken advantage of their locations as major transportation hubs and the global technological revolution to generate millions of dollars worth of free publicity for Thai travel and tourism.

Siam Paragon is located at the primary interchange station of Bangkok’s popular mass transit system, the Skytrain, used by thousands of city visitors every day. Built at a cost of US$450 million, it is one of the biggest shopping centres in Asia.

Opened in December 2005, it includes a wide range of specialty stores and restaurants as well as a multiplex movie theatre, the largest aquarium in South East Asia, an exhibition hall, a Thai art gallery, an opera concert hall, a large bowling alley and karaoke centre. These provide perfect venues for a ceaseless range of activities from fashion and flower shows to trade events and film festivals.

Suvarnabhumi is Thailand’s primary aviation hub, recording more than 23 million embarking passengers and 1.3 million transit passengers in 2012. Its departure halls are dominated by photo-friendly icons of Thai culture and heritage; such as, the famous King of the Nagas, the mythical giant guardians of Thai temples and replicas of stupas which house relics of the Buddha.

Millions of tourists who visit Thailand, especially first-timers from China and India, are seen taking photographs of themselves along with their travelling companions in front of these colourful and iconic images.

Overall, the Instagram popularity of these two locations saw Bangkok hit Number Two on the chart of the world’s most Instagrammed cities, behind New York City. This was largely due to the popularity of New York’s primary tourist spot, Times Square.

The list of 10 most Instagrammed Cities:

1. New York
2. Bangkok
3. Los Angeles
4. London
5. São Paulo
6. Moscow
7. Rio de Janeiro
8. San Diego, California
9. Las Vegas
10. San Francisco

Commenting on the results, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Thawatchai Arunyik said, “This is an example of how technological opportunities can be merged with our well-known Thai heritage and culture to generate positive publicity of infinite value. Thai people are known for being creative and artistic. We are glad to see these characteristics producing such wonderful results for promoting the country.”

Free “iTaiwan” WiFi Service Launched for International Visitors

The Taiwan Tourism Bureau will roll out the “iTaiwan” free WiFi internet service on December 20, 2013, making it easier than ever for international visitors to get online during their stay in Taiwan. With about 5,100 participating hotspots throughout the island, the service provides widely available online access in a user-friendly environment. Visitors can sign up for an iTaiwan account before departure or apply after arrival at a Tourism Bureau service counter or visitor information center (passport required). Accounts are effective for 30 days and can be extended to 60 or 90 days as needed.

Account holders can get online at any iTaiwan hotspot with a WiFi enabled smart mobile device by selecting the “iTaiwan WiFi” SSID and logging in with the account number and password. The service provides unlimited WiFi internet access for everything from looking up tourism and transportation information to sharing on-the-spot photos of Taiwan’s cuisine, scenic beauty and other special moments with friends.

Ancient Spider Rock Art in Egypt Discovered, Sparks Archaeological Mystery

Archaeologists have discovered a panel containing the only known example of spider rock art in Egypt and, it appears, the entire Old World.

The rock panel, now in two pieces, was found on the west wall of a shallow sandstone wadi, or valley, in the Kharga Oasis, located in Egypt’s western desert, about 108 miles (175 kilometres) west of Luxor. Facing east, and illuminated by the morning sun, the panel is a “very unusual” find, said Egyptologist, Salima Ikram, a professor at the American University in Cairo, who co-directs the North Kharga Oasis Survey Project.

The identification of the creatures as spiders is tentative, and the date of it is uncertain, Ikram told LiveScience in an email. Even so, based on other activity in the area, the rock art may date to about 4,000 B.C. or earlier, which would put it well into prehistoric times, before Egypt was unified, noted Ikram, who detailed the finding in the most recent edition of the journal Sahara.

The main panel shows what appear to be a few spiders, with a “star” that’s possibly meant to depict a web next to the spider. There are also comb-like drawings that are more enigmatic; Ikram said, they could be insects being trapped by the spiders, plants or even silken tubes spun by the spiders.

A piece of rock that appears to have been broken off the main panel, depicts creatures drawn in a different style, their limbs not flexed, but rather have a flat appearance. This could be an attempt to portray a harvestman, an insect that looks like a spider.

The discovery leaves archaeologists with a mystery — why did people in the Kharga Oasis create rock art, showing spiders, especially when no other examples are known to exist elsewhere in Egypt or, it appears, the entire Old World?

There is little evidence the ancient Egyptians had much interest in drawing spiders. The only spider hieroglyphs that Ikram knows of are rare examples from “religious texts dealing with the so-called ‘Opening of the Mouth’ ritual, a rite that was performed on the mummy or a statue to restore its senses for use in the Hereafter.”

The secret to solving the mystery may lie more in the western desert itself. Ikram consulted with Hisham El-Hennawy, an arachnologist, who mentioned spiders called Argiope lobata, living in the western and eastern deserts, may have attracted the interest of ancient people. These spiders can be found “shaded and surviving, in the middle of their orb web under the burning sun at Noon,” Ikram writes.

The idea of spiders bathing in the sun may hold religious significance to ancient people in the area. “This would combine the force of the sun and the ability of this solar creature to survive its heat successfully, and thus be worthy of reverence or totemic allegiance,” she writes in the Sahara article.

In addition, some spiders in Egypt are known to bite people and pose a danger, something that may have attracted ancient interest, and hence, the creepy-crawly rock art, Ikram said. It’s also possible that spiders were more prevalent in the oasis in the past, something the environmental research her team is conducting may shed light on.

Another possibility is that, whoever drew these depictions didn’t have a special reason in mind but just felt, for whatever reason, like trying to draw spiders. Spiders are of interest for several cultures around the world, she noted.

Whatever the reasons were for creating the spider rock art, the ancient people of the oasis left something unique behind, in a creepy-crawly way. These “images are noteworthy, if they are indeed spiders, as these would be unique depictions of such creatures, in Old World rock art,” writes Ikram.

Qatar Tourism Authority Convenes Tourism Marketing Workshop to Enhance Tourism in 2014

Qatar Tourism Authority convened its international representation offices and local tourism and hospitality sector stakeholders last week for a Framework Workshop on Strategic Tourism Marketing Initiatives for 2014 and beyond. The two-day workshop, held at The Ritz-Carlton Doha aims to update source market representation and provide the opportunity to share the Tourism Marketing plan for 2014.

Rashed Al-Qurese, QTA Director of Marketing and Promotions commented: “This workshop is an opportunity to convene Qatar Tourism Authority’s international and local tourism sector stakeholders and prepare for the year ahead in a strategic and coordinated way. As Qatar’s tourism sector is developing rapidly it is critical that the people representing Qatar abroad are aware of the developments and plans for the year ahead, as well as hear first-hand from the local stakeholders on their new products, services and plans for 2014. In this way we enter the New Year with everyone aligned and pushing in the same direction to support the promotion of the tourism industry in Qatar, at home and abroad”.

QTA is expanding its network of representation offices, opening its second location in Europe earlier this year in Paris. Other offices are scheduled to launch in 2014 and beyond in line with the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030 (NTS-2030). The representative offices are essential conduits to the national markets as they are charged with revealing the rich cultural heritage of Qatar, its culture and traditions, tourism products, hotels and reception facilities.

Participants have applauded Qatar Tourism Authority’s collaborative approach in working together with the local tourism and hospitality industry stakeholders to give them visibility to future plans through the workshop which allowed them the opportunity to hear and see first-hand the tourism marketing strategy and plan for 2014.

Promotion of Qatar as a tourism destination saw increased efforts in 2013, with QTA and stakeholder delegations present at regional and global MICE and leisure tourism exhibitions and conferences around the world, including EIBTM in Barcelona, Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, World Travel Market in London, and ITB Asia in Singapore, among others.

Tourism is on the upswing in Qatar. The latest figures released for 3rd quarter 2013 showed that all key indicators of the tourism sector demonstrated improvement and growth from the previous year comparable period. The largest source of tourism is from the GCC, with regional visitors increasing by 20% in Q3 2013 compared to Q3 2012. This is reflective of the draw of Qatar’s offerings that appeal to regional visitors. International arrivals are also increasing, thanks to the strong performance of the MICE industry, in particular. Tourists coming from other continents rose by 13.36%, with arrivals from Asia showing the biggest increases at 18.27%.

US Helps Preserve Hue’s Trieu To Temple

The US State Department has committed over 30,000 USD in non-refundable aid to a project restoring the altars at Trieu To temple, a relic in the ancient Hue Imperial Citadel.

According to Chief of the provincial People’s Committee Office Hoang Ngoc Khanh, the aid, which was channelled through the US consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, will be used to compile a dossier on the relic in the form of statistics, photos and paintings, strengthen the temple’s wood frames and restore three altars as well as several parts that were trimmed with red lacquer in others altars.

The temple is dedicated to the first ancestors of the Nguyen Dynasty, Nguyen Kim and his wife. It is an important part of Hue Imperial Citadel, which was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

New Sanctuary for Critically Endangered Koalas at Symbio Wildlife Park

Located 45 minutes south of Sydney, Symbio Wildlife Park has opened its new Koala Sanctuary, getting top marks from the zoo’s koalas, which have recently taken up residence and are making the sanctuary their new home.

Part of a multi-million dollar development at Symbio Wildlife Park, the Koala Sanctuary has been completed on schedule and is ready to welcome visitors through the summer school holidays.

Symbio Wildlife Park is an active contributor to the population management program for our critically endangered Koala.

“With less than 80,000 koalas left in the wild it is critical that zoological institutions, like Symbio, participate in positive population management programs, which contribute to genetic sustainability,” said General Manager Matt Radnidge.

“The Koala Sanctuary will initially be home to five koalas (four female and one male), with the view to increase the population through successful breeding at Symbio.”

Symbio Wildlife Park’s tagline – We’ll get you closer – certainly rings true here with the Koala Sanctuary enabling visitors to get up close and personal with Symbio’s koala family. Exclusive VIP experiences will be a new initiative in 2014.

Hand-built by the team at Symbio, the open exhibit allows koalas to inhabit and enjoy a more naturalistic environment. The Sanctuary has a covered walk-through for the general public with up close viewing vantage points, and VIP viewing deck for groups, which will also allow for more engaging keeper talks.

The development of the Koala Sanctuary was made possible with the support of AusIndustry, NSW Trade and Investment and Bluescope Steel through the IRIIF grant program.

Symbio Wildlife Park has embarked on a development unlike anything the zoo has seen in its almost 40-year history. The Koala Sanctuary is the first stage of a six-stage development, which will see Symbio create, in the next six months:
  • A state of the art Reptile House, (opening soon)
  • A lion exhibit and a cheetah exhibit, adding to Symbio’s big cat collection
  • A ringtail lemur island
  • Covered eating areas
  • Upgraded facilities and amenities around the park.

The new exhibits and upgrades will be rolled out in January/February 2014 with completion by the end of June 2014, making Symbio Wildlife Park one of the most comprehensive wildlife experiences in NSW.

For more information, please visit www.symbiozoo.com.au/

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Tourists, Pilgrims Celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem

The festive mood was palpable as thousands of tourists and pilgrims thronged Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations. The huge turnout in Bethlehem – the birthplace of Jesus Christ, helped to lift the spirits of the residents of Palestine as they prayed for a war-free year ahead.

Tourists in large numbers were seen thronging Manger Square, often stopping by at restaurants or standing in front of the illuminated Christmas tree.

It was definitely a positive vibe in Bethlehem amidst the peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Although some seemed skeptical regarding the speculated Israel-Palestine truce; the entire travel industry believes that the new year will bring an end to the ongoing unrest.

Discovering the Hidden Treasure of Langkawi Island with The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa

The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa introduces their new package, Naturally Langkawi for nature and travel buffs. The experience starts in the morning with a revitalising buffet breakfast in Seasonal Tastes, the all day dining venue where all nutritious dishes are paired with generous flows of sparkling wines. The resort believes in using only the best ingredients for your body and has created a SuperFoodRx™ breakfast menu that features healthy dishes made from powerhouse ingredients rich in nutrients, antioxidants and delicious taste so your body can always stay healthy and fit.

Then, kick start your island exploration with an exciting journey discovering the Geopark Langkawi, one of the "not to be missed" attractions on this island. The beautiful Killim Geoforest Park features a beautiful mangrove forest and calm-winding river within a long established marine ecosystem. The tour consists of the mangrove ride and cave exploration.

The journey begins from Tanjung Rhu, which serves as a point of your departure and return trip by boat. Rest assured that you will be accompanied by an experienced tour guide. Witness the wildlife of the island up close and personal where you will see hairy nosed sea otters, brown winged kingfishers and cute macaque monkeys, amongst others along the way. To explore the mangrove will take at least a good four hours to complete. Light snacks and mineral water will be provided.

The cave exploration will take place at two famous caves – Bat Cave & Crocodile Cave - and will take around three to four hours to complete. Both are only accessible by boat; expect to see thousands of bats hanging from the ceiling and inspiring scenery of limestone formations.

After a long day of exploration, guests can look forward to relax in one of the freshly rejuvenated rooms or ultra luxury private pool villas which have recently undergone 15 months of transformation work. In addition to the fresh look, the renovation process also allows the resort to introduce new room categories, offering its guests more choices for luxurious pampering.

These freshly rejuvenated rooms and ultra luxury villas create a sense of calm and sophistication with an array of wellness amenities by Westin. An elegant glass wall separates the sleek bathroom from the bedroom. The spacious bathroom boards a rejuvenating Heavenly Rain Shower and the Signature White Tea by Westin™ bath amenities, thick towels, and a plush bathrobe, adding bliss to your bathing routine. They also feature a king-size and/or two double, award winning signature Westin Heavenly Beds® equipped with sumptuous pillow-top mattress, billowy down blankets, and soft pillows.

If your muscles need some tender loving care, then pamper yourself at the Heavenly Spa by Westin, a perfect sanctuary for pampering and rejuvenation. The spa offers a range of attractive services to choose from such as therapeutic aging facials, body exfoliations, foot and bathing rituals, amongst other. The Heavenly Spa by Westin was recently awarded as the Country Winner for Best Luxury Beauty Spa and Finalist for Best Luxury Destination Spa at the 2013 World Luxury Spa Awards.

Even the kids are not left out; while you allow yourself to unwind, the resort also stores something special for your kids. Introducing the Westin Kids Club® - open for kids ranging from 4 to 12 years old.

The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa has been recognized by numerous awards and recognitions including Country Winner for Luxury Beach Resort in 2010 and Best Luxury Island Resort in 2011 and 2013 by World Luxury Hotel Awards.

This exclusive package is open for booking from now until 31 May 2014 with a minimum stay of two nights required. Terms and conditions apply. To find out more details on the package or the resort, please visit www.westinlangkawi.com or call + 604 960 8888.