Friday, 28 February 2014

Spectacular northern lights spotted in parts of UK

Aurora Borealis or the northern lights were spotted over parts of UK. The lights have been visible as far as Essex, where the spectacle is a usual sight.

The lights have been also seen in Norfolk on the west coast, and in South Wales. The alerts are posted on Twitter by the AuroraWatch UK, a group run by the Space Physicists at Lancaster University. They make people aware of the Northern Lights and their visibility. The northern lights have been sighted in many places of Scotland and northern England at around 9pm on Thursday, 27.02.14.

The ethereal light displays are caused by collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter into the earth’s atmosphere. They are most common above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres, where they are known as aurora australis.

Northern Lights generally appear as spectacular waves or streaks of pale green and pink, but shades of red, yellow, blue and violet have also been spotted by stargazers.

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney Twinkles for Earth Hour

On Saturday, March 29, 2014, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney will turn off its lights for Earth Hour, a worldwide grassroots movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The Hotel will switch off all non-essential lighting between 8:30 and 9:30pm as a symbol of its commitment to the planet. An visual installation of flora and a sprinkling of candles will greet guests in the lobby, restaurant and bar, bringing attention to this symbolic global event.

General Manager Rudolf van Dijk says: "Earth Hour has fast become a significant global event bringing attention to the devastating effects of global warming. We feel very passionate about communicating this important global message in an accessible and beautiful manner for all to observe."

Outrigger Offers 'March Magic' in Thailand

Three Outrigger resorts in Thailand are offering special "March Magic" offers for hotel stays from now until 31 March, 2014. The value packages are aimed at couples, groups and families seeking absolute beachfront resort luxury or mega-spacious accommodation. Two properties are in Phuket. The third is in Phi Phi Island, midway between Phuket and Krabi.

The absolute beachfront Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort on Bang Tao beach is offering best available rates for a Deluxe Lagoon Room for a minimum two-night stay. The deal includes daily breakfast for two adults, food and beverage credit of THB1,000 per paying adult per night, free wi-fi (in room), and access to the fitness centre. The resort is part of Laguna Phuket and is a 15-minute drive from Phuket International Airport. Full offer details.

On Phi Phi Island, the absolute beachfront Outrigger Phi Phi Island Resort and Spa is available at best available rates for a minimum two-night stay in a Deluxe Seaview Bungalow. The rate includes daily breakfast for two adults, a THB1,000 food credit per paying adult per night and free wi-fi (in communal areas). The all-bungalow resort is a spectacular 90-minute boat ride from Phuket. Full offer details.

At the very spacious Outrigger Laguna Phuket Resort and Villas, guests can stay three nights in a luxury Three-Bedroom Villa at best available rates and receive one more night for free. The offer includes daily breakfast for up to six adults, in-room wi-fi, use of bicycles, and access to the fitness centre. Full offer details.

All three March Magic special rates require a minimum two-night stay and are subject to a total of 18.7% service charge and government taxes.

Additional services such as spa treatments, round-trip airport transfers and baby-sitting services can be added at extra cost.

Outrigger Enterprises Group

Outrigger Enterprises Group is one of the largest and fastest growing privately-held leisure lodging, retail and hospitality companies in the Asia Pacific and Oceania regions and continues to expand its presence throughout the area. A family-owned company with 66 years of hospitality experience, Outrigger runs a highly-successful, multi-branded portfolio of hotels, condominiums and vacation resort properties, including Outrigger® Hotels & Resorts, OHANA® Hotels & Resorts, Embassy Suites®, Holiday Inn® Best Western®, Wyndham Vacation Ownership® and Hilton Grand Vacations. Currently, Outrigger operates and/or has under development 46 properties with approximately 11,000 rooms located in Hawaii; Australia; Guam; Fiji; Bali; Thailand; Mauritius; Vietnam; and Hainan Island, China. Outrigger Enterprises Group also operates and develops hotel properties and hospitality-related retail and real estate opportunities for partners in Hawaii, the Pacific, and Asia. For on-line information, log on at and

Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, Asia-Pacific
Ste 105-108, Plaza Del Mar, No. 1 Pasak-Koktanod Rd
Cherngtalay Sub-Dist., Thalang District
Phuket Province, 83110 Thailand
Tel: (+66) 76 318 230
Fax: (+66) 76 318 232

Accor Staying the Course with New Look Ibis Budget Hotels

Accor has unveiled an innovative new interior design at three Ibis Budget hotels in Queensland and Victoria, following the re-branding of all Formule 1 hotels to the new Ibis Budget brand.

Part of Accor’s Ibis economy family of brands, Ibis Budget continues to evolve and has embraced the new design vision ‘Avanzi’ by Paris-based Philippe Avanzielicit. Guests will experience the new ‘Avanzi’ look and feel which features generous bold designs, natural materials, bright colours and attractive lighting at Ibis Budget Brisbane Airport, Ibis Budget Melbourne Airport and Ibis Budget Dandenong.

Contemporary furnishings and clever layouts will bring a new energy to the existing Ibis Budget hotels and bring with it a complete change from what was once associated with Formule 1 hotels in Australia.

The $3.2 million refurbishment rollout across the three hotels has seen the lobby areas, breakfast rooms and guestrooms receive a new lease of life, reflecting the comfort and innovation that the Ibis brand essence represents.

The redesign in Ibis Budget Brisbane Airport, the first to complete the refurbishment, includes a new breakfast room, an open plan check-in desk and new furnishings set against sky blue walls. Ibis Budget Dandenong and Ibis Budget Melbourne Airport see new furnishings as well as colours in the breakfast rooms and lobby area. All three hotels feature cocoon-style guestrooms with contemporary furnishings and vibrant colours, creating an environment of modernity and freshness.

“This is a testament to Accor’s confidence in continuing to strengthen its economy portfolio. Since the announcement of the three-tiered Ibis brand restructure in 2011, we have seen strong positive results across the Ibis brand family,” said Simon McGrath, Accor Pacific Chief Operating Officer.

“Accor is committed to revolutionising economy hotels and will continue to invest in the Ibis brand portfolio in Australia.”

In line with this, Windsor’s former Formule 1 hotel in Brisbane is targeted to re-open on 1 April 2014 as Ibis Budget Windsor, incorporating the same ‘Avanzi’ design across the lobby, public areas and all 50 guestrooms. The hotel was closed in August 2009 due to construction and access issues associated with the Inner City Bypass connecting the Brisbane CBD to the Brisbane Airport precinct.

Work has commenced on the Windsor property, which will become the 20th Ibis Budget hotel in Australia.

Last year, the revenue growth for Accor’s Ibis Budget portfolio saw 5% RevPar growth against relatively flat competitor and market conditions, while consumer satisfaction exceeded expectations, with positive increases in guest sentiment.

Dubai International starts 2014 with record 6.4 million passengers

Dubai International started the New Year with record monthly traffic, exceeding 6.4 million passengers in January.

According to the traffic report issued by operator Dubai Airports today, passenger traffic reached 6,400,706 in January 2014, up 15.1 per cent from 5,559,760 recorded during the same month in 2013. The bumper traffic was boosted by the seasonal rush of holidaymakers into Dubai, as well as the recently concluded Dubai Shopping Festival, which attracts travellers from all around the world, particularly from the region.

Regionally the AGCC recorded the highest growth in passenger traffic (+180,982 passengers) – mainly boosted by double digit traffic growth recorded by Doha, Jeddah and Riyadh – followed by Western Europe (+140,910), and the Indian Subcontinent (+126,305 passengers). Eastern Europe was the fastest-expanding market in terms of percentage growth (+42 per cent), followed by the Australasia (+34.5 per cent), Asia Pacific (+26.7 per cent) and Asia (20.7 per cent).

India remained the top destination country (800,397 passengers) with financial capital Mumbai as the busiest destination, followed by Saudi Arabia (514,071 passengers) and the UK (435,806 passengers). Doha was placed number one on the list of top destination cities followed closely by London.

Aircraft movements totalled 32,625 during the month under review compared to 31,332 movements recorded in January 2013, up 4.1 per cent. Passengers per aircraft movement in January came in at 199.

Freight volumes in January 2014 totalled 197,021 tonnes an increase of 4.5 per cent compared to 188,520 tonnes recorded in January 2013.

Welcoming the record performance Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports noted that unhindered growth is the mandate given to Dubai’s aviation sector and timely infrastructure expansion and its full utilisation is key to achieving that goal.

“Our new Concourse A is a case in point. With 10,608 A380 scheduled flights to 26 destinations in 2013, Concourse A has helped Dubai International enhance its status as the world’s largest hub for Airbus A380 operations in its first full year of operations.”

Opened on January 2nd 2013, Concourse A handled 14,596,893 passengers and handled more than 22-million bags in its first full year of operations.
Source:- Dubai International Airport

Queensland boosts tourism through ‘Room 753’

A landmark new Tourism and Events Queensland promotion is using a ‘room with a view’ to generate global social media coverage about the state’s holiday destinations and experiences.

Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey announced the “#Room 753” campaign, involving 22 high-profile bloggers, Instagrammers and videographers touring Queensland’s destinations to source inspiration for their audiences on social media.

“Social media is reshaping the way consumers plan and book a holiday, with the rise of peer-review travel websites and dedicated travel blogs becoming an important travel planning resource,” Ms Stuckey said.

“Sharing holiday experiences is second nature to most travellers and one of the most compelling ways of encouraging others to book a holiday to a destination.

“A 2012 study showed that some 44 per cent of people strongly agree that internet reviews by travel bloggers helped with the initial decision of vacation destinations.

“This innovative initiative will see TEQ host a series of influential social media specialists to showcase Queensland’s natural beauty through these emerging outlets.

“Tourism and Events Queensland is once again showing its ability to deliver innovative campaigns to help the industry towards the Newman Government’s election commitment of growing overnight visitor expenditure from $15 billion to $30 billion by the year 2020.

“Tourism had stalled under the previous Government, but we promised at the election to grow it as one of the four pillars of the economy.

“We are already seeing positive signs and this campaign will continue that growth.”

Ms Stuckey said #Room753 was set-up as a ‘home away from home’ for the VIP digital influencers until July.

“Prior to entering the room, the influencers will each tour a slice of Queensland that matches their passions, from surfing safaris to culinary experiences and romantic getaways to adrenalin-charged adventures,” she said.

“#Room753 will give these digital influencers them an opportunity to relax and reflect on their trips, enjoy the local lifestyle and produce enticing Queensland content for their world-wide audiences.”

Peppers Broadbeach was selected as the location for #Room753 for its inspirational views of the Gold Coast and evoking the lifestyle for which Queensland is renowned.

Peppers Broadbeach General Manager Craig Smith said he and his team were delighted to welcome their international and interstate guests.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase Peppers, the Gold Coast and indeed Queensland to a global audience and we are excited to be part of this great initiative,” Mr Smith said.

#Room753 translates to Room ‘Q.L.D.’, based on the corresponding numbers and letters on a phone touchpad.

Visiting influencer Liz Carlson, a US citizen currently residing in New Zealand, who writes a blog about being a solo female world traveller entered #Room753 on Monday 24 February after travelling to the Whitsundays and Brisbane.
Source:- Tourism Queensland

Malaysia: 2014 Le Tour de Langkawi Cycling Race flagged off

Twenty one teams, including five pro teams, lit up the 2014 Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) which flaged off at the legendary island Thursday, where riders will cover a distance of around the island.

Competing are 21 teams comprising five Pro Tour teams, five Pro Continental teams, seven Continental teams and three National teams.

The race for the coveted yellow jersey is being led by Orica-GreenEDGE’s Dutch star Pieter Weening, last year’s runner-up who lost out on the overall victory to Colombian Julian David Arredondo, by a minute and 15 seconds and will surely be back with a vengeance to go a step higher this time around.

The appearance of two of the biggest teams in the world, Katusha from Russia and Tinkoff-Saxo from Denmark and Team Colombia certainly adds spice to the already hot reception awaiting cycling fans throughout the world.

The race is sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) as a 2.HC (hors category) race on the UCI Asia Tour calendar, organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, via the National Sports Council (NSC) in association with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF).

The 19th edition of the race is marked not only by its start from its legendary birthplace, but also a challenging route which features a climb up Genting Highlands hill resort, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, the nation’s capital.

One of the region’s top cycling events, the annual race which flagged off in Langkawi, will cover an extensive 1,507.9km across Peninsular Malaysia, and finish at Tasik Kenyir, Terengganu, on the east coast.

The highlight of the tour is expected to be the 3rd stage which features the Genting Highlands climb and pitch two renowned climbers Fabio Duarte (Team Colombia) and Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEDGE).

Sydney Trailerboat & Outdoor Leisure Show 2014

There is something for everyone from canoes, kayaks and inflatable's, through to tinnies and rugged offshore fishing boats, plus everything in between.

Formerly the Rosehill Trailer Boat Show, the Sydney Trailerboat & Outdoor Leisure Show is your one stop shop for the latest boating gear and accessories.

You can see:
  • New and used trailer boats
  • Engines
  • Kayaks and canoes
  • Fishing accessories
  • Electronics
  • Water sports
Meet the Nautilus Boating Stars, including:
  • Fishing fanatic and sporting star Andrew Ettingshausen
  • Hear about wakeboarding with Red Bull's Josh Sanders
  • PWC champion James Masteron

  • Fishing demonstrations at the Giant Supertank
  • Hear on stage from experts about looking after your engine, buying a boat and tips for maintaining your trailer
  • Entertain the Kids at the GWS GIANTS Kids Zone

With over 65 exhibitors there is something for everyone at the show.

Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park
15 – 16 March 2014
9am – 5pm

For more information visit

Here are a couple of links to plan your day:
Getting to the show: Click Here
What to see and do: Click Here
Accommodation options: Click Here
About Nautilus Marine Insurance: Click Here

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Palm beach fine craft show returns for 11th Season, Feb. 28 – March. 2, 2014 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center

Now in its eleventh year, the Palm Beach Fine Craft Show has cemented its place as an integral part of the Palm Beach Art Show Season. Attendance has risen steadily in recent years, and the show continues to attract art collectors and lovers of fine craft from around the world.

With artists whose work can be found in important museum collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum and others, as well as many impressive private collections (Prince Charles, the Empress of Japan, Sir Elton John, to name a few), this juried event truly brings the very best in Contemporary American Craft to an appreciative and enthusiastic audience.

The Palm Beach Fine Craft Show will feature 136 contemporary craft artists offering their latest work in 12 categories: basketry, ceramics, decorative and wearable textiles, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed- media, paper and wood. These artists create amazing hand-crafted works of art, some functional, others purely decorative. All items are one-of-a-kind or limited edition, made in artists’ studios across the country.
Source:- Palm beach

World heritage comes alive

In April 2014, the Dharug National Park will play host to Red Coats, convicts and characters from the early 1800s to interpret the beginnings of the Great North Road, which is now a World Heritage Listed icon in north-west Sydney.

The Convict Trail Project, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the community of Wisemans Ferry encourage all to take this journey of discovery to praise the work of the re-offending convicts that were put to work to build the Great North Road, which still stands today. There are limited morning performances between 7 and 11 April, and groups are invited to book directly, by visiting 

Macau promoted at Guangzhou International Travel Fair

Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) joins “Guangzhou International Travel Fair 2014″ (GITF 2014) for a great opportunity to extend the tourism market and enhance connections with Mainland and international travel industry partners. The Office also seizes the chance to promote the positioning of Macau as a World Centre of Tourism and Leisure.

Starting from today (27 February), GITF 2014 is taking place at China Import and Export Fair Complex in Guangzhou for three consecutive days. Head of Marketing Division of MGTO, Cora Vong participates in the exhibition together with 39 industry delegates representing a total of 18 enterprises including hotels, travel agencies and MICE facility companies from Macau.

Boasting a size of 180 square meters, MGTO’s booth is designed after the theme “Touching Moments・Experience Macau” to promote Macau’s special image as a fascinating travel destination by showcasing the Historic Centre of Macau, events and festivals, the newest tourism facilities and products, etc. Personnel are stationed at the booth to provide travel information and distribute promotional leaflets to visitors. Macau trade delegates also discuss business opportunities with their Mainland counterparts.

GITF is recognized as one of the most influential international travel fairs across Southern China and the Asia-Pacific Region. Last year the event attracted a great number of exhibitors including 700 tourism entities and businesses from 39 countries and regions. GITF 2013 hosted 80,000 overseas and domestic visitors in total.

Through the exhibition, MGTO hopes to introduce Mainland citizens and industry partners from various places to the latest tourism development and diverse tourism products in Macau. Taking the opportunity to promote the positioning of Macau as a World Centre of Tourism and Leisure, the Office seeks to draw more visitors to Macau for an experience of the city’s unique blend of East and West culture as well as the festive ambience.
Source:- MGTO

Attractive Malaysia Airlines’ Deals Not to Be Missed

Malaysia Airlines is offering attractive fares and packages in line with the upcoming of the nation’s biggest Travel Fair coming up in March.

The five-day sale that started on this Monday, 24 February 2014, ends on Friday 28 February 2014. Bookings made are for the travel period 28 February until 31 May 2014.
Malaysia Airlines Regional Senior Vice President Malaysia, Dato’ Muzammil Mohamad said, “Book these great fares now and travel immediately!”

“Malaysia Airlines is always committed towards providing a great travel deal while offering the MAS brand and hospitality experience to our customers. The five-days travel deal provides an opportunity for travellers to explore some of our best destinations, along with the five-star service travelling experience onboard Malaysia Airlines, at no additional or hidden cost.”

Customers can travel on Economy Class to ASEAN destinations from as low as RM169 all-in return. Meanwhile, the Economy Class to Taipei, Shanghai and Beijing starts from only RM999.

All-in return fares to explore South Asia such as Kochi starts from RM809, Mumbai from RM1130 and also Kathmandu starts from only RM1199.

Australia has been a favourite for many travellers. Customers can now fly from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin on Economy Class starting from as low as RM1099 all-inclusive return fare.

These fares are inclusive of airport taxes, surcharges, 30 kg check-in baggage allowance and one-piece cabin baggage allowance of up to 7kg.

Business Class travels are also available during the sale.

Malaysia Airlines’ tour arm, Golden Holidays, is also offering some attractive packages – four nights Beijing Tour package from RM2071, four nights Darwin with City Tour package from RM2589 and three nights Glimpses of Kathmandu package from RM2369.

These packages include Economy Class ticket, airport-hotel transfers, daily breakfast and tours as per itinerary.
Source:- Malaysia Airlines

Taste the Coolest Food from the Wildest Place in the Taste of Sydney's Tasmanian Pavilion

This year’s Taste of Sydney will see a gourmet line up in the Tasmanian Pavilion. The impressive line up of local Tasmanian produce will educate and excite visitors with gastronomic delights and classy beverages from Tasmania’s wild places. The Tasmanian pavilion will be the largest on site and it will showcase why Tasmania has earned the reputation of ‘the gourmet state of Australia’.

Inside the pavilion visitors can sample some of Tasmania’s best known produce grown and harvested in its world-renowned cool climate, clean air, fertile soils and pristine waters.

A selection of Sydney’s fabulous chefs and industry experts will be cooking up a storm in the pavilion’s demonstration kitchen using the best fresh Tasmanian produce. The impressive line up thus far includes Jimmy Campbell – MoVida Sydney, Shaun Presland – Sake, Hamish Ingham – Bar H, Grant Croft – The Cut, Peter Ridland - Jonah’s and Somer Sivrioglu – Efendy.

Ben Farley from the BBQ School will also be sharing how to become a BBQ star using quality Tasmanian beef.

So come and enjoy a glass of wine or cider, some fresh Tasmanian salmon, and learn more about Tasmania’s fine whisky and wallaby. The Tasmanian pavilion has all of this and so much more………….

The Tasmanian Pavilion will entice visitors with:
  • Atlantic Salmon and Ocean Trout from Huon Aquaculture – sashimi stand + new premium product testing on Sydney’s discerning palates. Do we like the sound/taste of cider infused ocean trout ?
  • Cape Grim beef and Robbins Island Wagyu– both favourites of Tetsuya’s. They’ll be offering some of the Retail Ready range for tastings and if that’s not enough you can find their delicious produce at Rockpool, and Hudsons Meats…..just to name a few.
  • Gourmet pies from Tasmanian Bakeries – using all local and quality Tasmanian produce these are a ‘must’ to sample. Showcasing their FANCY LITTLE PIES, which are little gourmet party pies, made with 100% Tasmanian meat, baked at their bakery in central Hobart. They are available in 5 varieties: Wagyu Beef, Peppered Beef, Chicken & Camembert, Minted Lamb, and our newest variety, Wallaby & Stout.
  • Beer from Moo Brew – from the home of MONA and Tasmania’s largest locally owned and operated brewery. They will be showcasing 5 of their most prominent beers: Pilsner, Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, Dark Ale and Belgo.
  • Tasmanian Single Malt Whisky bar- Tasmania is highly regarded as a place of origin of extremely high quality produce and Tasmanian Whisky continue to gain internal recognition. The whisky this year featuresLark Distillery – Lark Distillery whisky’s are popular with the likes of Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) and Barack Obama; Old Hobart Distillery,Belgrove Distillery and Tasmania Distillery. The World Of Whiskey, The Oak Barrel and the Baxter Inn all stock Tas Whiskey supplies.
  • Tasmanian Wine Bar showcasing wines from Clover Hill – A James Halliday Australian Wine Companion 2014 named 5 Star Winery will be sampling and selling their accolade winning wines; Josef Chromy Wines – will be showcasing 7 of their spectacular wines (all award winning) all available for you to sample. The will also be selling bottles to take home; and Heemskerk – Will be sampling a selection of award winning Heemskerk wines. They’ll also be sampling and selling some of their Abel’s Tempest wines; with something for everyone you will be more than satisfied.
  • Cider from Franks Cider – featuring apple, pear and the new pear & cherry cider from the fruit fields in Southern Tasmania. Sample the quality award winning cider then grab a take home pack of your favourite.
  • Lamb and Wallaby from Flinders Island Meat – The Lamb recently received gold for its special 8-10kg Milk Fed Lamb it also took gold for the Open Class Champion at the Sydney Royal Show. The ABC delicious. Produce Awards named Flinders Island Meat as overall Category Winner for their Milk Fed Lamb product.

Taste of Sydney is Sydney’s premier food festival for food and wine lovers. It will be held in the beautiful alfresco setting of Centennial Park from 13 - 16 March 2014.

Further information can be found at:
Tasmanian Pavilion

INDABA will remain the premier travel trade show for Africa

The annual Tourism INDABA remains unquestionably entrenched as Africa’s top travel show and will continue to be the ‘engine room’ of travel trade marketing for the continent.

So says South African Tourism Chief Executive Officer, Mr Thulani Nzima.

“Given the enormous potential and success of African destinations, and of South Africa in particular, it’s not at all surprising that there’s strong interest in our destination, and that various interest groups and multinational businesses seek to capitalise on the growth of our industry.

“At the end of the day, any exposure for our wonderfully diverse continent is of great value to us all.”

Mr Nzima said South African Tourism is more committed than ever to ensuring INDABA goes to the next level and remains acutely focused on its core business purpose: to trade, to contract, to engage and to give buyers and exhibitors an unparalleled platform to refresh and build relationships.

“It’s questionable whether our industry could sustain all current trade show ambitions. Ultimately, we might be left with the two best shows. INDABA is our industry’s showcase, not South African Tourism’s platform. It has no commercial imperative and is gearing itself up to be the dominant travel tradeshow offering the most value. It’s important for all of us to remember that INDABA’s only reason for being is to serve the best interests of our travel and tourism marketplace, and we’re committed to achieving that.”

INDABA’s success – and South Africa’s success as a destination – have been fuelled by strategically strong and mutually beneficial partnerships, he added. These successes are the culmination of work that South African Tourism has done predominantly in partnership with the South African travel trade.

“We are confident that competition will not erode INDABA. In fact, competition has intensified our commitment to our industry, and increased our efforts to innovate and add practical value for exhibitors and buyers at INDABA, affirming the growth in this exceptional destination.”

South African Tourism’s INDABA strategy now includes a well-considered buyer-centric focus with strong emphasis on identifying new buyers and hosting quality buyers. This has steered South African Tourism toward greater investment in an improved Buyer Programme.

“The success of this Programme is evident in the remarkably positive response we have received from buyers across the world. Interest in INDABA 2014 has been excellent. To date, three months before the show, 829 buyers have confirmed their attendance at INDABA 2014. This number is on a par with the number of buyers who were confirmed 12 weeks before last year’s show. Of those, 685 are leading international buyers. There were 3 379 buyers at INDABA 2013. We are confident this number will be exceeded in 2014.”

This year, INDABA takes its first steps to being a truly pan-African show, including other African destinations on the exhibition floor. This, says Mr Nzima, is over and above the SADC countries that have been regular INDABA exhibitors for 15 years already.

Destinations already confirmed to exhibit at INDABA 2014 are: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, DRC, Kenya, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Reunion, Seychelles, South Africa; Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A number of other African destinations registrations are still in process. These destinations will be announced once their participation has been confirmed.

“We have a long-term view of the future of INDABA as the most influential and valuable African travel tradeshow. We are confident that the number of exhibitors from other African destinations will grow over the next few years. We look forward to near-full African representation on the exhibition floor in the medium term.

“INDABA is institutionalised in South Africa and the rest of our continent, Africa. It has represented the fabric of our travel and tourism sector for three decades. South African Tourism is the proud custodian of INDABA, and remains completely committed to ensuring the trade show goes to the next level and continues to serve a thriving, growing and determined travel and tourism sector,” Mr Nzima said.

Melbourne launches the Food and Wine Festival

Premier Denis Napthine launched the 2014 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival at the Immersery, a pop-up kitchen, bar and raingarden anchored to the Yarra in Queensbridge Square that will be the hub of the Festival.

The Premier also announced that the Victorian Government will continue its successful partnership with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival with a further three-year commitment to the Festival until 2016.

The Festival hub represents the 2014 festival theme of celebrating water, from the bountiful fare of our rivers and oceans to the vital role of water in food production and preparation.

Dr Napthine said that recent attendance figures showed over 400,000 people enjoyed the Festival each year, and that the internationally acclaimed event had become a destination for domestic and international tourists alike.

“Each year, Victoria is taken over by a celebration of our mouth-watering food, culinary expertise and creative and talented food and beverage industry,” Dr Napthine said. “The Victorian Coalition Government is very proud to support this event, which returned $5.6 million to our state’s economy in a 2012 assessment.”

Dr Napthine said that the line-up for the 2014 Festival included over 200 events at a range of venues all around the state, including over 70 in regional Victoria.

The Festival runs from 28 February to 16 March and includes a regional weekend from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 March.

“The regional weekend is an opportunity to get out of town and explore the wonderful offerings of Victoria’s many regions,” Dr Napthine said. “From Bright to Baw Baw, from Werribee to Wodonga, there is truly something for everybody, whether it is Rhones on the River in Nagambie or an Ice Cream Party in Yarra Glen.”

Dr Napthine said the Festival not only attracted visitors to Victoria but also showcased the state’s food and beverage industry to the world.

“With fertile soils, varied climates, innovative food producers and competitive strengths in dairy and horticulture, we have the right conditions to ensure that Victoria becomes the food bowl of Asia,” Dr Napthine said.

“The Coalition Government is doing its bit to drive business opportunities for Victorian food and beverage producers to make sure that they are able to capitalise on growing demand for their high-quality produce. “Our program of trade missions is helping Victorian exporters build and strengthen relationships with importers and food buyers in growing Asian markets.

“The food and beverage industry is a key economic driver of our economy. Victoria’s food exports last year increased by 5 per cent to $9.3 billion. In addition, the accommodation and food service industry generates over $7.6 billion in value for the Victorian economy and employs around 184,000 people.

A New Hotel Brand. A Brand New Solution

Atura Hotel Blacktown ensures genuine service, unique urban / industrial art inspired design style and first-class facilities are available to all at an affordable price whilst offering a brand-new state-of-the-art hotel perfectly located in the heart of Sydney’s burgeoning West.

Atura Blacktown is situated conveniently off the M4 motorway close to the busy Business Park precincts to service commercial clientele, and adjacent to Sydney Wet & Wild Water Park, Blacktown International Sports Park, Eastern Creek Raceway, the new Skyline Drive In and only 10 minutes from Sydney’s second CBD of Parramatta to attract leisure and holiday guests.

The Atura is also keeping guests well connected, thanks to a partnership with Broadband Solutions.

The new Atura is doing things differently, including when it comes to technology. Guests at the latest hot property from Amalgamated Holdings Limited can enjoy free Wi-Fi and local and STD calls.

By implementing a solution from innovative technology provider Broadband Solutions, a leading provider in the 5-star sector, Atura was able to dramatically reduce its call costs whilst ensuring fast, secure, reliable Internet.

“It’s a completely unique approach in that it’s a total IP solution, which means all calls are travelling over the Internet, so they are being carried in a very cheap manner,” explains Craig Simpson, Director of Hospitality Technology. “The call quality is also fantastic – it’s just like any phone call – because of the great Internet connection.”

The call costs are dramatically lower and there was a huge competitive advantage going to market in being able to offer our guests free local and STD calls.”

The solution also provided a single network solution that is extremely well suited to today’s global, mobile workforce.

“Staff can be on site or off site anywhere in the world and calls will go to their device, which acts as a desk phone. They could be in Jamaica and that digital extension will ring their mobile.”

At Atura’s request, Broadband Solutions even wrote code that enables the system to work through iPods, iPhones and iPads, using a freely available app.

  • Plug-in at the Atura Blacktown:
  • Complementary Wi-Fi in guest rooms and all public areas for guests, guests of guests, and anyone in the building.
  • Complementary use of iMacs and printers in the lobby business centre. This also includes cloud printing, which means guests can print from their room or from any device.
  • Complimentary local and STD phone calls within Australia to fixed landlines.
  • Mobile check-in from the lobby via tablet.
  • Complementary Wi-Fi and in-room moviesAtura Hotels

Atura Hotels are the place where modern business and leisure travellers go to escape the tired and embrace a new experience. This fresh take on travel is high on connectivity and low on guest maintenance, with dynamic public spaces that are as easy to unwind in as your own lounge room. The Atura guest is amazed at the high level of quality given the affordable price of the hotel. This value proposition is a key to the strength of the brand. Atura will be rolled out across Australia over the next 3 years in fringe CBD suburbs and business parks – the first to open was Atura Blacktown on Tuesday 15th October, 2013.

For more information visit -

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Over 6,000 Chinese visitors will be in Bangkok and Pattaya for Annual Conference

In a huge show of confidence in Thailand, more than 6,000 Chinese visitors from Joymain International Development Group Inc. will attend the annual convention and incentive travel event organised by the East Shanghai International Travel Service and Golden Star (International) Group Ltd. The event will run from 22 February – 3 March, 2014, in Bangkok and Pattaya.

According to the draft itinerary, the first group will arrive in Thailand on 21 February 2014; the second group 24 February, and 26 February and 1 March, respectively. Each group will stay in Bangkok for 3 days and Pattaya for another 2 days. The Welcome Reception will be held at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden – Pattaya, which is renowned for its impressive elephant and Thai cultural shows, along with what is widely considered to be the biggest and most beautiful botanical garden in Southeast Asia.

Joymain International Development Group Inc. specialises in research and development, production and marketing of health care products. The company was founded in 2010 and is based in Nanjing, the People’s Republic of China.

East Shanghai International Travel Service Co., Ltd., established in 1994, boasts a large network of international and domestic air ticket sales agents and tourist charter business. For 10 consecutive years, it has been listed in China’s top 100 international travel agencies.

Its partner for this event, Golden Star (International) Group Ltd was established in 1980 and provides a one-stop service for MICE participants to Thailand. Between 2000 and 2008, the company organised more than 40 MICE events in Thailand mainly from the Taiwanese and Chinese markets, with 50-4,000 participants per event.

Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said, “We would like to sincerely thank Joymain International Development Group Inc., East Shanghai International Travel Service and Golden Star (International) Group for their support and confidence. This visit will make a significant contribution towards facilitating the recovery of the China market. TAT is pleased to support these companies in their efforts to raise the profile of Thailand in China.”

Mr. Thawatchai acknowledged that the flow of Chinese visitors to Thailand has slowed down due to the political unrest. However, TAT is confident that when the situation returns to normal, Chinese visitors will be back in full strength.

Thailand is a popular destination for Chinese visitors because of the visa-on-arrival facilities, short travelling distance and high value-for-money factor. Thailand and China also have much in common in terms of food, cultural and ethnic relationships.

In spite of the temporary slowdown, China is the biggest source market of visitors to Thailand with total arrivals of 4.7 million in 2013, up by 68.83% over 2012. In January 2014, Chinese arrivals totalled 309,731, a decline of 8.65%. TAT is forecasting a quick turnaround once the political unrest ends, with a projection that Chinese visitors will grow by 15% to 5.4 million in 2014.

In 2012, Chinese visitors stayed an average of 8 days and spent 4,716.56 Baht (US$151) per person per day. This generated 45.55 billion Baht (US$1.4 billion) in tourism foreign exchange revenue to the Thai economy, the highest revenue generating market for Thailand.

Thailand’s top tourist destinations for Chinese visitors include Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Ko Samui and new famous destinations; such as, Rayong , Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai , Ko Chang , Krabi and Kanchanaburi.

Luxury rail escapade – Rocky Mountaineer to connect Canada and USA

The award-winning Rocky Mountaineer is pleased to announce the official launch of its new Coastal Passage route, connecting Seattle and Vancouver, BC en route to the majestic Canadian Rockies. The season’s first departure May 10, 2014 marks the company’s fifth rail route and the first time the internationally acclaimed rail service will depart from, and arrive to the United States.

Coastal Passage is available in the award winning GoldLeaf Service as well as SilverLeaf Service. In GoldLeaf, travelers enjoy luxurious surroundings in a bi-level custom-designed glass-domed coach with panoramic views, gourmet cuisine in a private dining room along with personalized service by Rocky Mountaineer Hosts. Alaskan Cruise sailings departing from Seattle with Holland America Line or Norwegian Cruise Line are available in conjunction with Coastal Passage and can be added to any 2014 Rocky Mountaineer package. The new Coastal Passage route can also be added to any Rocky Mountaineer two day or more rail tour into the Canadian Rockies.

“Guests gave us rave reviews on our inaugural Coastal Passage departures last August and experienced a journey they will never forget,” said Hubert Wat, Vice President, Global Marketing, Rocky Mountaineer. “We are excited to officially launch the first full season in May with 24 departure dates. Coastal Passage connects two amazing countries both famous for breathtaking landscapes, rich history and natural beauty.”

Departing from and arriving to Seattle’s historic King Street Station, guests experience stunning vistas of monumental mountains, such as Mount Baker, the Cascade Mountains and the pristine shoreline of the Pacific Northwest. Through BC and the Canadian Rockies, the train travels past an endless list of extraordinary landscapes, such as raging rivers, semi-arid deserts and towering mountain peaks.

The Coastal Passage route officially launches in 2014 offering 24 departures on 12 Saturdays between May and October. Offered packages allow for stays in Seattle, Vancouver and Kamloops, as well as the resort towns of Lake Louise, Banff or Jasper, Alberta.

TripAdvisor announces Travelers’ Choice Award for best islands in the world

Ambergris Caye, Belize
TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, announced the winners of its Travelers’ Choice Islands. In its second year, the annual awards recognize more than 100 islands globally,including top 10 lists for Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, South America, the South Pacific and the U.S.

“There is something transporting about an island vacation, and these Travelers’ Choice Islands winners will help travelers find their next escape,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. “From the coral reefs of Ambergris Caye to the beaches of Ko Tao, these winning islands have been highly rated from travelers around the globe.”

Travelers’ Choice Island winners are determined based on the quality and quantity of the most highly-rated hotels, restaurants, and attractions listed for each island on TripAdvisor gathered during a 12-month period.

Top 10 Islands in the World:

  1. Ambergris Caye, Belize
  2. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
  3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
  4. Marco Island, Florida
  5. Lewis and Harris, Scotland
  6. Naxos, Greece
  7. Aitutaki, Cook Islands
  8. Nosy Be, Madagascar
  9. Easter Island, Chile
  10. Ko Tao, Thailand

Top 10 Islands in APAC:

  1. Koh Tao, Thailand
  2. Bali, Indonesia
  3. KohhPhangan, Thailand
  4. KohLanta, Thailand
  5. GiliTrawangan, Indonesia
  6. Boracay , Philippines
  7. Phuket , Thailand
  8. Palawan, Philippines
  9. KohSamui, Thailand
  10. Langkawi , Malaysia

New Lighthouse Gallery venue at Australian National Maritime Museum

The Australian National Maritime Museum unveiled a new addition to their event venue portfolio, as part of the Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME).

The Museum’s new event venue - Lighthouse Gallery – is a special addition to the Museum’s already strong portfolio of venues. The distinct backdrop of Australia’s maritime history will bring a unique event experience opportunity to the industry and their clients.

Deanna Varga of the Australian National Maritime Museum said: “We’re very excited to have unveiled the latest addition to our venue portfolio, Lighthouse Gallery. We have transformed an existing exhibition space within the Museum to create a brand new event experience.

“Lighthouse Gallery is an exceptional venue set right on Sydney’s waterfront and flanked by the Museum’s own Lighthouse. The venue satisfies the need in the current event market for larger capacities and, backed by our own event team along with our partnership with one of Sydney’s best catering companies, Lighthouse Gallery offers a truly one-of-a-kind experience for event organisers and delegates alike,” said Ms Varga.

The Lighthouse Gallery comes equipped with leading event technology and is supported by the Museum’s experienced event team and catering experts, Laissez-Faire, to deliver outstanding events. The addition of this new venue brings the Museum’s portfolio of venues to eight.

Bookings can be made now for events to be held from the beginning of April 2014.

Tourism Australia launches new online events calendar

Tourism Australia has today launched a new online calendar, to assist the industry plan their participation in tourism events in Australia and key international markets.

Tourism Australia’s General Manager Destination Development, Katherine Droga, said the fully searchable calendar provided a valuable one stop shop for the tourism industry, providing an online hub of nearly 80 domestic and international tourism events.

“This new online resource will make life much easier for those working in our industry, helping them to select the most appropriate events to participate in or attend here and overseas,” Ms Droga said.

“Thanks to input from across industry, including our state and territory tourism partners and the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), we now have a simple, user-friendly tool which will greatly assist in planning for and participating in key international and domestic events such as G’Day USA, ATE14, Corroboree China and ATEC Meeting Place,” she said

Hamilton Island Enterprises General Manager of Sales, Philippa Harrison, welcomed the new online calendar as a much needed tool in an industry where trade events are a crucial part of business activity.

“Hamilton Island has a strong presence at industry events, it’s how we reach key decision makers in our target markets, so we are really pleased this new online events calendar will make the process of searching and selecting the right events for us a lot simpler,” Ms Harrison said.

The Tourism Industry Events Calendar is housed on Tourism Australia’s corporate website and allows industry to search by date, relevant market and host organisation, as well as add their own key events matching the set criteria. It will be regularly updated and acts as the central hub of event information, providing links to the host organisations’ websites for further event and contact details.

The creation of the new online calendar is the latest outcome of a recent review by Tourism Australia looking at ways to improve how Australian tourism product is sold and distributed at home and overseas.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Spirit Airlines Warms Up Winter With 100 Million Mile Giveaway for Twin Cities Customers

Spirit Airlines recently announced new non-stop flights between Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and several new destinations including Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH), Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW). Spirit is pleased to add to the fun with three days of frequent flyer mile giveaways in which up to 5,000 lucky area residents will walk away with 20,000 FREE SPIRIT® Miles certificates* each, that’s enough for an standard roundtrip award ticket (with taxes and fees from only $5.00 per ticket) on Spirit Airlines.

Spirit Airlines, which started service to MSP on May 31, 2012, will soon serve 13 destinations non-stop from St. Paul-Minneapolis including Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Phoenix, and Tampa plus connecting markets in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We’re thrilled to give travelers from throughout the Twin Cities region access to great opportunities to save money on air travel with our ultra-low fares plus optional services for a low total price that’s tough to beat,” said Spirit’s Vice President Consumer Marketing Bobby Schroeter. “Customers can save money with our insanely low fares and enjoy having more left in their wallet.”

Spirit invites people who like to travel and enjoy saving money while doing so, to come by one of the following locations to receive their 20,000 FREE SPIRIT® Miles certificate*. Spirit is giving away up to 5,000 certificates* (1,000 certificates* per each session noted below) on a first-come first-served basis, while supplies last; one certificate* per person; must be present to receive certificate*.

IBTM AFRICA Confirms A Strong Line Up Of International MICE Industry Buyers

IBTM Africa corporate and association companies qualified to attend the event, which is and takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 28th – 30th April 2014.

Major names including Widex India PVT, W&O Events, Capital Travel & Events, Capita Travel & Events, IIMC, Conference Direct and HelmsBriscoe Middle East have also been accepted onto the highly sought after Hosted Buyer Programme.

Bettina Wiethoff, Manager Global Accounts, HelmsBriscoe Middle East, commented, “With great flight connections from Dubai to South Africa we have seen an increased interest in the destination, for incentives and MEA regional conferences. Being an international venue finder, we always strive towards suggesting special venues, which guarantee a memorable experience for the delegates. I highly appreciate the efforts in arranging IBTM Africa, which allows the hosted buyers to meet many potential partners at the same time, not only from South Africa, but from other African countries as well. The possible activities and venues Africa has to offer are a perfect fit with the current Meeting Trends, attendees looking for an experience, a sense of place, being in nature. I am very excited to learn more about Africa and introducing its countries to my clients.”

The Hosted Buyer mix for IBTM Africa reflects the main traditional inbound markets for the continent, as well as accommodating a proportion of buyers from the emerging markets including Middle East, Asia and South America.

Exhibiting at IBTM Africa will provide African and Indian Ocean suppliers with the opportunity to conduct mutually matched business appointments with qualified international buyers that have proven budget and business to place in Africa, facilitating fast market penetration through the power of face-to-face meetings. Exhibitors will also be able to gain international exposure and obtain competitive intelligence whilst establishing their company as a key player in the meetings and events industry.

Leading exhibitors who have already signed up to attend IBTM Africa 2014 include: City Lodge Group, One & Only Cape Town, CSIR International, Salute Africa, That’s Africa Travel & Incentives, Private Safaris Destination Management, Shades of Green Safaris Tanzania and SA Reynolds Travel.

Heather Beadle, Groups & Incentives Manage, SA Reynolds Travel, commented, “We believe IBTM Africa is an excellent platform to bring together buyers and suppliers with focus on the inbound market which is an area we are developing and are focusing on in our MICE department. We feel we will be put in touch with the right people who are planning MICE events in South Africa and they will use us as their suppliers. It will create some good business opportunities and offer excellent networking possibilities as well.

Tourism sector to generate US$750 million during 2014 Rio Carnival

This year’s carnival in Rio de Janeiro is expected to generate some 2.2 billion reals (US$950 million) for the city, the Rio state government said Thursday.

According to the Rio Tourism Company (Riotur), US$750 million of the total windfall will be generated by tourism, including hotel and restaurant revenues.

The remainder, said Riotur, will be generated by activities more directly linked to the carnival, such as investment in samba schools, street parades, decorations, and other related activities.

Last year, the festival generated US$665 million in tourism revenue, meaning officials are expecting a 10-percent increase.

Some 920,000 tourists are expected in Rio for this year’s carnival.

The fact that the city will be hosting the final match of the 2014 World Cup games and, two years later, the Summer Olympics, may have helped boost tourism in the city for the carnival season, said Economic Development Secretary Julio Bueno.

A total of 250,000 new jobs will be created thanks to the carnival, which generates employment throughout the year, as the city’s world-renowned samba schools have million-dollar budgets and hire personnel all year long.

Carnival is second only to the Christmas season in terms of generating temporary jobs at Rio’s popular shopping center Saara.

Anantara’s King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament Packs its Trunk and Moves to Bangkok

Mark it in your diaries, Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas is announcing the 2014 dates for the highly popular King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament. This year’s event will move from its original home of Hua Hin to the Thai capital of Bangkok from August 28th – 31st and promises to have more nail-biting action both on and off the field.

The annual tournament, now in its thirteenth year, has become one of the biggest charitable events in SE Asia. Last year’s event which had 16 teams encompassing over 50 players, including Thai supermodels, professional horse polo players, the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team and Thailand’s famous transgender cabaret team Miss Tiffany’s was a far cry from the small two teamed event back when it started in 2001. Over $US750,000 has been raised and donated to projects that better the lives of Thailand’s wild and domesticated elephant population.

Fundraising from last year’s event has been donated to a number of projects in Thailand including supporting research and clinics using elephants in therapy sessions for children living with autism; building the first elephant hospital in Krabi in the southern part of Thailand and donating a gantry to help lame elephants stand to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC).

Other projects include planting 4,000 trees to create elephant corridors in Kui Buri to help avoid elephant/farmer conflicts; funding the roll out of children’s educational programs with the Thai Ministry to teach them the importance of conservation and protection of wild elephants in Thailand, and funding workshops showing traditional elephant trainers and camp owners the benefits of Positive Reinforcement Training for domesticated elephants.

A total of 50 street elephants will take part in this year’s tournament, during which they are well fed, provided with a native forest environment, and receive essential vitamin supplements, full veterinary checks and care for the duration of the event. Street life and ‘unemployment’ can be tough for an elephant, walking through crowded tourist areas and busy roads for ten hours a night, forced to rest during the day on small green spaces within the cities, often without shade and water. The King’s Cup schedule is deliberately designed to give these elephants rest and relaxation on a scale they are never afforded in their ‘normal’ lives.

Due to the popularity of the tournament the event will move from the Royal seaside town of Hua Hin to the Siam Polo Park at VR Sports Club in Bangkok. The four day festival will have something for everyone including an impressive opening parade, Children’s Day, Ladies Day and wide a range of fun elephant related activities for the whole family.

For more information on the 13th Annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, please visit

Dreamworks Animation boss Katzenberg confirmed for WTTC Global Summit 2014

Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO and Co-Founder of DreamWorks Animation SKG, will speak at the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Global Summit, which takes place in Hainan 24-25 April 2014.

Katzenberg will be interviewed by Immediate Past Chairman of WTTC, Geoffrey Kent, on Thursday 24 April. The acclaimed “Geoffrey Kent interviews” at the WTTC Global Summit have included Ted Turner and the late Sir David Frost.

Katzenberg co-founded DreamWorks SKG in 1994 along with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, which produced a number of celebrated films including three Best Picture Academy Award® winners – American Beauty, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind.

In 2004, DreamWorks Animation became a publicly-traded company with Katzenberg at the helm. Under Katzenberg’s leadership, DreamWorks Animation has become the largest animation studio in the world and has released 28 animated feature films, including the Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon franchises. DreamWorks Animation films have enjoyed both critical and commercial successes, earning nine Academy Award® nominations and two wins for Best Animated Feature.

David Scowsill, President & CEO WTTC, said: “I am really looking forward to hearing Jeffrey Katzenberg’s perspectives on business, China and his travel experiences. He is a Hollywood legend responsible for some of the most celebrated films of the last 30 years.”

Extra funding for recovery efforts of Blue Mountains following devastating fires

The Commonwealth and NSW Governments have announced an additional $1.8 million to support the recovery efforts of the Blue Mountains community following the devastating fires in October 2013.

Federal Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said the additional funding will include grants for programs to support small business and community organisations.

“This joint package will drive the economic and social growth of the Blue Mountains community over the next 18 months and build community preparedness for the future,” Mr Keenan said.

NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services Michael Gallacher said this additional funding is on top of the $11.4 million the NSW and Commonwealth Governments provided to support the initial clean-up of the Blue Mountains.

“The NSW and Commonwealth Governments are providing the necessary staff support to the Blue Mountains City Council so that they are able to roll out this assistance for the longer term recovery.

“To continue assisting the Blue Mountains into the future, the NSW Ministry for Police and Emergency Services will also continue to Chair the Recovery Committee,” Mr Gallacher said.

Federal Member for Macquarie, Louise Markus said the additional package also included funding for a new tourism campaign to encourage visitors to the Blue Mountains and promote the area as a top tourist destination.

Member for Blue Mountains, Roza Sage, said the Government’s Recovery Centre has provided support services for Blue Mountains residents with more than 1,300 visits.

“It has provided the Blue Mountains with a range of services offered from the Departments of Health and Education, Public Works, Disaster Welfare, Legal Aid, WorkCover and Fair Trading,” Ms Sage said.

“The Government-led outreach programme to Blue Mountains residents has resulted in 6,000 visits to ensure immediate support needs were being met.

“The NSW Government continues to assist the community through the Bushfire Information and Support Centre and the support services that it provides to residents, and part of the new package will include services from BeyondBlue.”

The Bushfire Information and Support Centre remains open at the ex-Legacy Building at 7/5 Raymond Lane, Springwood. It can be contacted on 02 4751 6423.

The Centre continues to provide access to advice and support services and information on the additional grants scheme that is being provided by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments.

Note: Information on the criteria for available grants will be made available shortly.

Sydney International Boat Show 2014

This year will see the Sydney International Boat Show move from its traditional home at Darling Harbour to a temporary facility at Glebe Island, to be known as Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island (SEC @ GI).

The SCEC has been the shows home for 25 years and will reopen in 2017 after redevelopment between 2014 – 2016. The move to SEC @ GI has raised many questions and here are some answers.

Q: Where will the Sydney International Boat Show be held in 2014?
The undercover exhibits of the Sydney International Boat Show will be located in a purpose built facility in Glebe Island. The venue will be known as the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island. This facility has been constructed for the exhibition industry and will be used from 2014-2016. It is located in the heart of Sydney on the foreshore of the harbour near the underside of the Anzac Bridge. The marina exhibits will remain in Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour
Q: When will the Show be held in 2014?
Show dates: Thursday 31 July – Monday 4 August 2014 It is envisaged that the normal move-in and move-out time periods will apply. Schedules will be sent to confirmed exhibitors in advance of the show.

Q: Is Glebe Island actually an island?
“Glebe Island was a major port facility in Sydney Harbour and, in association with the adjacent White Bay facility was the receiving venue for imported cars and dry bulk goods in the region until 2008. It is surrounded by White, Johnstons, and Rozelle Bays. Whilst retaining its original title as an ‘Island’, it has long been infilled to the shoreline of the suburb of Rozelle and connected by the Glebe Island Bridge to Pyrmont.” (Wikipedia) For those familiar with Sydney, it is that span of land to the left that is visible as you cross ANZAC Bridge, heading towards the city from the west.

Q: How will visitors travel between the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island and the marina exhibits in Cockle Bay at Darling Harbour?
During show days, there will be regular ferry and bus shuttles between the two locations. The BIA NSW is currently working with the venue and it’s appointed transport providers to develop a comprehensive transport plan. All transport shuttles will be free for show ticket holders. Ferry shuttle travel time will be approximately 10 minutes. There will also be a taxi rank at both locations. Pedestrian access into the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island is not possible. Free bus shuttles will be available from Central Station (Eddy Avenue).

Q: Is there parking available?
Parking is available at Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island. Coupled with the overflow areas, it is envisaged that a similar number of parking spaces will be available to those that existed within the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre car park, around 900 spaces. Our message to visitors travelling by car will be to travel to Darling Harbour as first choice. Significantly more parking is available in the Darling Harbour precinct than SEC @ GI. Additional information will be provided as and when available.

Q: How will the ticketing work?
Ticketing will work in a similar manner to previous years. Visitors can purchase tickets at either venue and that ticket will be valid for entry at both venues. Shuttle transport between the venues will be free.

Q: How big is Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island?
The interim venue is 24,500 m2 in size. By comparison Halls 1 – 5 of the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre were 25,000 m2.

Q: What type of structure is Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island?
Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island is primarily a hard walled structure built on a raised concrete slab. The venue will be air-conditioned and have permanent lighting installed. It will be a fully functioning purpose built facility with catering and amenities. Prior to being erected at Glebe Island, the structure was used at the London Olympic Games.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Goleta - A Good Land for Family Fun: A Family Getaway With an Enchanting Butterfly Grove and the Only Coffee Farm in the Continental US

Goleta, Santa Barbara’s neighbor to the north is a respite for families, offering countless activities for those who want to explore more of Santa Barbara County. From the undiscovered treasure of the Goleta Butterfly Grove to Goodland Organics, the continental United States’ only coffee plantation, there is something for every family.

Families that don’t mind getting a little dirty will appreciate Goleta’s outdoor offerings. Hike the bluffs in the Ellwood Mesa with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean en route to the Goleta Butterfly Grove. Every winter (mid-November to mid-February) thousands of Monarch butterflies migrate to their winter home in the hidden eucalyptus groves along the interior of the Ellwood Mesa. The area is never crowded with people, so sit back and enjoy watching these beautiful creatures as they flutter overhead, and if one is lucky enough, a butterfly may land on their shoulder. Prefer to be more active? Take advantage of the free parking at Goleta Beach, one of three beaches where Channel Island Outfitters rents equipment such as stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and surfboards. For those that prefer to stay on land, there are volleyball nets and a fishing pier to keep busy. Don’t miss the stunning ocean and mountain views at championship golf courses Sandpiper Golf Club and Glen Annie Golf Club, both offering discounted rates for junior golfers. The spectacular views make it hard to concentrate on one’s golf swing. After a fun-filled day, cheer on the UCSB Gaucho’s as they take on their rivals in soccer, basketball and more.

Ride Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner throughout Santa Barbara County and then learn about the history, technology and adventure of railroading at the South Coast Railroad Museum. While there, be sure to check out the historic Goleta Depot. This Victorian-styled country railroad stationhouse was built over 100 years ago (1901) by the Southern Pacific Railroad during completion of the Coast Route, which joined San Francisco and Los Angeles. Parents will want their camera handy to capture their child’s smiling face aboard a train ride on the Goleta Short Line miniature train. Model train aficionado’s will appreciate the model railroad exhibit “Railroading on the South Coast,” which depicts the railroad areas of Santa Barbara and Goleta during the late-steam/early-diesel era.

No smart phone? No television? No problem. Show your children what life was like in the 19th century by taking a tour of the Stow House. Adjacent to the South Coast Railroad Museum is Rancho La Patera and Stow House, historic for its role in the Goleta lemon trade. Today, children can learn how people use to live (without Wi-Fi!) on a tour of the Stow House - a museum displaying the family’s photographs and furniture from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

With so many activities to fill the day, a caffeine jumpstart for the parents and a snack for the kids may be required. If so, the Coffee Educational Tour (offered seasonally) at Goodland Organics is in order; tour the continental United States’ only coffee farm with a Cup of Joe in hand. Situated in the coastal foothills of Santa Barbara, this certified organic farm also cultivates exotic crops such as cherimoyas, lychee, dragon fruit and finger limes. Continue exploring the culinary side of Goleta with a trip to Fairview Garden Farms and Goodland Kitchen & Market. For a healthy snack, purchase organic fruits and vegetables grown at Fairview Garden Farms own farm stand. Producing over 100 different fruits and vegetables on its 12.5 acres of land, children will love seeing the goats and chickens during a docent or self-guided tour of this non-profit educational farm. Not sure what to do with all of the great food products purchased in Goleta? Take a culinary class at the Goodland Kitchen & Market. Classes are periodic at this Old Town Goleta establishment, but year-round it is a grab-and-go eatery specializing in delicious, locally-sourced, and affordable meals. The food is prepared in small batches and comes from local farmers to provide an exceptional culinary experience.

For family friendly nightlife, go back in time to a different era with Goleta’s West Wind Drive-in movie theatre. Showing first run movies nightly, movie-goers can stick around for the double-feature for the same price. Pajama’s welcome. Zodo’s Bowling & Beyond is another popular family activity, and one of only two bowling alleys in Santa Barbara County. Families of all ages and skill levels can bowl together – ramps and bumpers are available for the little ones, and teenagers will love Glow Bowling with a live DJ on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night’s. There is also an on-site restaurant and arcade.

To rest your head after a busy day, Goleta has a range of hotel properties that will appeal to families. The newest addition to the area is the Courtyard by Marriott Santa Barbara / Goleta. Located just minutes from the University of California, Santa Barbara, this hotel is great for parents visiting their children at school, or for families that want to be within walking distance of restaurants, a movie theatre and a park. Kids (and parents too) love El Capitan Canyon for its glamping – hotel amenities in a camping environment. Families can choose to stay in a cedar cabin or safari tent, both furnished with willow beds, down-style duvets, western-inspired blankets and casual furnishings. Start the morning off with a nature hike and end the day bonding over a campfire eating s’mores and telling ghost stories. Families interested in a secluded getaway can stay at Bacara Resort & Spa. Parents can even opt for a little alone time by taking advantage of the Monarch Kids’ Club (offered seasonally). Pacifica Suites is another good family choice since every room on the property is a suite furnished with a pull-out sofa, and parking, Wi-Fi and a cooked-to-order breakfast are all included in the price of the room.


Less than 10 miles north of Santa Barbara, Goleta was incorporated as a city in 2002. Initially named “The Good Land” by the Spaniards, the official name changed to Goleta after a schooner with the same name arrived in the area in 1822. A prominent lemon growing region during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, today Goleta is a family-friendly community honoring its roots with the annual California Lemon Festival every fall. The climate is mild and sunny all year, with an average daytime temperature between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (16 and 21 degrees Celsius). Goleta attire is generally California casual, and transportation and sightseeing services are abundant.


Featured on the cover of Travel + Leisure in May 2013 and voted Best Getaway by L.A. Times Readers’ Choice Awards in 2012, Santa Barbara is located just 92 miles north of Los Angeles and 332 miles south of San Francisco, on the Pacific coastline. Visitors can arrive via scenic Highway 101, train, bus or by flying into Santa Barbara Municipal Airport or Los Angeles International Airport. For travel and accommodation information and to request a free copy of the official Santa Barbara County Visitors Magazine, contact the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission at 800.676.1266, 805.966.9222, or Visitor information is also available at the Visitor Center, 1 Garden Street (at Cabrillo Boulevard).

Qatar’s new world-class zoo part of Qatar Tourism’s promise for the future

Qatar will have a new, world-class zoo by 2020 featuring drive-through safaris, a unique elephant walk-way over Al Waab Street and an exclusive seven-star tree-top hotel, a senior Ashghal executive revealed during the second day of the Tourism in Tomorrow’s World conference (Monday).

The zoo, on a 71 hectare site in Al Waab, will link with Aspire Park and Villagio mall via a cable car, dedicated tram system and a custom-built walk-way to create a “zoo within a park”, following the vision of His Highness the Emir, delegates at the tourism conference at the Renaissance Doha City Center Hotel heard.

Speaking on the theme of New Doha Zoo – a case study in sustainable approach to tourist development in Qatar, Gregory Clarkson, Senior Planner at public works authority Ashghal, outlined the concept and vision of the new mega attraction, which will help to elevate Qatar to being a global tourist destination.

Mr Clarkson, whose prior experience includes Hong Kong Disneyworld, said the zoo would be split into zones and would feature star animal attractions including gorillas, giraffes, lions, tigers, rhinos and an elephants’ walkway on a bridge linking the zoo on the south side of Al Waab Street with Aspire Park to the north. Mr Clarkson said: “It will be a world-class zoo and truly unique.”

Mr Clarkson said the zoo will also include drive-through African and Asian Safari zones, walk-through African and Asian safari areas, a mountain experience and a tropical rainforest environment. He added that planners are designing a system where visitors can take their own cars through defined areas of the zoo. Mr Clarkson said: “You will be able to take your personal vehicle on safari, as a special added-extra for the project.”

The zoo will have an innovative controlled biosphere roof system – the first of its kind in the world – where it will rain once an hour, and a river ride throughout the zoo network.

Visitors will be able to get to the zoo by cable car directly from Villagio, which Mr Clarkson described as being “a ride in itself” or by dedicated tram system, which will be zoo-themed and link Villagio mall and the Aspire Zone to the zoo. There will also be an underground car park.

In addition, there are plans for a tree house hotel – an exclusive seven-star resort nestled in mature trees, with boardwalks throughout the tree canopy; a five-star rainforest hotel and a four-star Montane family resort.

The zoo village, which will be open to the public, will feature architecture in sympathy with Qatari heritage and culture and will include themed cafes and restaurants to create a new, popular gathering place similar to Souq Waqif and Katara. Mr Clarkson said Ashghal is planning to have the zoo to be up and running by 2020, and is expecting 1.3million visitors to the village with around 950,000 visitors to the zoo.

Mr Clarkson added: “We want to create a world-leading model for integrated nature conservation and visitor experience. It will be a unique and memorable attraction.”

Also at the conference, Qatar Museums Authority revealed its plans to develop cultural heritage, offering the opportunity to “live like a Qatari” in days gone by. Maja Knezevic, Head of Qatar Museums’ Authority (QMA) Cultural Tourism Unit (CTU), spoke of developing the country’s heritage sites to keep alive bygone Qatari culture. Cultural tourism is a central part of Qatar’s National Tourism Strategy, inviting tourists to step back in history at historical and heritage sites as well as offering a compelling line-up of museum, art galleries and attractions to visit.

Focused on protecting and promoting Qatar’s rich cultural heritage by developing its archaeological sites, CTU aims to turn sites into an authentic experience to raise awareness of the rich potential found throughout Qatar.

The launch of Al Zubarah Archaeological Site as a UNESCO World Heritage in June 2013 is a prime example which, with its authentic Qatari atmosphere and tents offering traditional food and drink, has attracted over 10,000 visitors in January 2014.

Other successful restorations include Barzan Towers, 19th century desert forts like Al-Thaqab and Arakiyyat to Bronze Age sites such as purple-dye production site Jazirat Bin Ghanam and the rock craving of Jassassiya, castles and the fabled Al Wajba fort which played the decisive role in the defeat of the Ottomans in 1893.

More projects in the pipeline are the old Fish Souq in Al-Khor, built of local stone and traditional materials, and four ancient Qatari villages including the old pearl-diving village Al-Mafyar, where visitors will be able to live like Qataris did in years gone by, restored with modern amenities and facilities.

Ms Knezevic said: “This is just a small step for the mankind but could be a big one for Qatar. We count on your support and cooperation to reach and achieve this common goal and to see Qatar positioned on a world cultural map as a cultural destination.”

Christopher Knable, Chief Operating Officer of conference sponsor Katara Hospitality, addressed delegates about hotel development in Qatar. He said: “Doha will soon be the best hotel town in the world. We are going to have the greatest hotels right here in Qatar.” He spoke about the need to plan for the next generation, saying: “as a hotel developer, we have to be a futurist – we have to figure out what is coming. What you are doing must be meaningful 10 and 20 years from now.”

He also highlighted the need to anticipate guests’ needs, keep track of guests’ comments and feedback, the importance of knowing the provenance of produce and keeping ahead of trends, such as pop-up restaurants.

The two-day conference, under the patronage of HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, was organized by Stenden University Qatar in collaboration with Qatar Tourism Authority and attracted 250 expert delegates from industry and academia, from Qatar, the region and internationally.

Malaysia Airlines unveils new office in the heart of New Delhi

Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier of Malaysia, announced the opening of its new office space in New Delhi. Situated at Barakhamba Road in Connaught Place, the office was formally inaugurated by the High Commissioner of Malaysia, H.E. Datuk Naimun Ashakli Mohammad in the presence of the Mr. Azahar Hamid, Regional Senior Vice-President, South Asia & Middle East, Malaysia Airlines.

The opening of the new office is in line with the airlines’ global move towards a new corporate identity that imbues both luxury and the essence of the ‘Malaysian Hospitality’ that the airline promotes – elegance, beauty and more importantly, truly Malaysian.

The new contemporary and stylish look has already been implemented at the award-winning Golden Lounge at Satellite Terminal, KL International Airport, and is also underway at Malaysia Airlines offices globally.

Located in the heart of New Delhi, the new office is the first of its kind outside Malaysia to get this look. Besides accommodating corporate, sales and other departments, the office will cater to all ticketing, reservation and allied needs of passengers, all under one roof.

The new office has been designed to effectively meet the requirements of customers, and is another step towards strengthening Malaysia Airline’s proposition of being a 5-star airline. A larger and more comfortable waiting area for First Class, Business Class and Economy Class makes it more conducive to meeting and serving guests with service excellence in a superior and modern environment. The reception area has been carefully developed to provide detailed information on Malaysia Airlines products and services and designed for better queue management. It also has a special handling room to manage and handle special cases.

Speaking at the occasion Mr. Azahar Hamid, Regional Senior Vice-President, South Asia & Middle East, Malaysia Airlines said, “Malaysia Airlines is adapting to a brand new corporate identity globally. Keeping an eye on the changing market dynamics, the new office has been specially designed for user convenience, presented in a fresh, contemporary and elegant ambience. I am confident that this new design will further strengthen Malaysia Airlines’ commitment of providing world-class service experience to its customers.”

The office attends to customers from Monday to Friday from 9:00 Hrs to 18:00 Hrs and Saturday from 9:00 Hrs to 13:00 Hrs.

China to construct world’s longest cable-stayed highway in Shanghai

Construction of the world’s longest cable-stayed highway and railway bridge will get underway in eastern China at the end of this month, the authorities say.

The bridge, which will link Shanghai — China’s biggest city and transport hub, with Nantong in Jiangsu Province, is 11 kilometres long with a five-km span across the Yangtze River.

Construction will take more than five years, the transportation authority of Jiangsu said Thursday.

The project is expected to ease traffic pressure in Shanghai, a conurbation of some 24 million inhabitants, and Jiangsu, which is china’s most densely populated province, and contribute to the economic development of the Yangtze River Delta and Shanghai free trade zone.

Accor sponsors WTM Latin America 2014

The French company Accor, the world’s leading hotel operator, will once again be the headline sponsor of World Travel Market Latin America.

Accor was the headline sponsor of last year’s inaugural WTM Latin America and will sponsor this year’s event, which takes place at the Transamerica Expo Center, in the city of São Paulo, between the 23rd and the 25th of April, as alongside the 41st Braztoa Business Meeting (the Brazilian Association of Tour Operators).

Accor Latin America’s Sales Marketing and Distribution Director, Emanuel Baudart said the hotel chain is continuing its headline sponsorship of WTM Latin America as it is the best event for it to grow its business in the region.

“With a diversified business model that is pioneering for the region, WTM Latin America facilitates professional contact with a variety of players and offers the opportunity of meetings organized in advance with qualified international buyers, which is definitely an attraction for our company,” he said.

“At the event, we have the chance to present our launches and tools to the market, as well as to close some good deals”, he added.

Accor is aiming to grow its business in the region and take advantage of the increased profile and interest this year’s football World Cup and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics will bring.

The travel industry has been a key driver of economic growth in the region. The number of people arriving rose almost 50% in the past 10 years, increasing from 54 million in 2003 to 80 million forecast for this year. Brazil is the main driver of this growth.

“The economic growth that has been registered in a number of markets such as Chile, Colombia, Mexico and in particular Brazil, has led a lot of multinationals to invest in Latin America, thus increasing the corporate flow,” Baudart added.

“This together with the decision to hold major events such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games has caused the travel flow to our region to increase significantly.”

WTM Latin America, Director, Lawrence Reinisch said: “In total, there were exhibitors from 60 countries at WTM Latin America 2013 – all of whom had their eyes firmly fixed on the potential of Brazilian tourists, who in 2012 alone spent more than US$ 22 billion overseas.

“This year, the expectation is that the trade fair will be an even bigger success, bearing in mind that with three months still to go before the event actually takes place, the level of interest from the market is already exceeding expectations. And the partnership with our sponsor Accor, is crucial for us to achieve this objective.”