Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Khmer celebrate Sene Dolta Festival

Thousands of Khmer people in the Mekong Delta region are celebrating the Sene Dolta festival, a joyful annual celebration to honour ancestors.

Thanks to the State and Government’s efforts, living conditions have improved for the Khmer community in Tra Vinh province. Many residents are celebrating the festival in their new home, with more than 40,000 Khmer households provided with housing assistance under the Prime Minister’s Decision No.167/TTg.

Additionally, the province invested in building and upgrading irrigation systems, transport infrastructure and schools.

The province aims to provide access to electricity for 18,900 households in remote areas by the end of 2014, increasing the proportion of Khmer households supplied with power from 92.93 percent to 95.76 percent.

Meanwhile, Khmer people in Soc Trang province are enjoying a successful harvest. Prices for rice and farm produce increased significantly, raising their income.

Sene Dolta is one of the largest annual Khmer festivals, along with Chol Chnam Thmay (New Year) and Ooc Oom Bok, a festival that pays tribute to the Moon for good harvests.

During the Sene Dolta festival, Khmer people get together to pay tribute to their ancestors and enjoy traditional songs and dance after a hard year’s work.

This year’s event is held from September 22-24. On this occasion, authorities in the Mekong Delta provinces, home to a large population of Khmer, organised meetings and visited dignitaries and monks at a number of pagodas as well as local Khmer residents in their communities.

Floriade blooms in Canberra

Floriade is Australia’s biggest celebration of spring. This iconic Canberra event, which is now in its 27th year, runs for 30 days over the months of September and October.

It showcases one million flowers in bloom throughout Canberra’s Commonwealth Park and entry is free. The event welcomes more than 400,000 local, interstate and international visitors each year.


Over five amazing nights, Commonwealth Park comes to life after dark with Floriade NightFest – an exclusive program of events featuring great live music acts, renowned comedians, cutting edge DJs, night markets and roving entertainment.


Floriade first began when Peter Sutton and his colleague, landscape designer Chris De Bruine, developed a proposal for a grand floral display to celebrate the Australia’s Bicentenary and Canberra’s 75th birthday.

The inaugural Floriade blossomed in 1988 with a stunning floral display of exotic bulbs and annuals, which grow beautifully in Canberra’s climate. The community embraced the event, making it such a success that it became an annual celebration of spring in Australia. Since its beginnings Floriade has been held alongside Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra’s Commonwealth Park.

Nowadays more than one million blooms combine to create a stunning backdrop to a month-long festival filled with music, cultural celebrations, horticultural workshops, artistic displays, entertainment and recreational activities. Floriade runs from mid-September to mid-October and attracts more than 400,000 attendees each year.

Visitor Information

Floriade 2014 is a month-long festival.
13 Sept – 12 Oct 2014 at Commonwealth Park in Canberra.

Floriade’s opening hours are:
9.00 am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday
9.00 am – 5.30pm weekends and public holidays
Last entry to the event is 30 minutes before closing.
Website:  www.floriadeaustralia.com/


MSC Cruises’ early bird specials are nearing an end with savings of up to $450 per person still available on selected European cruises until 30 November 2014.

Furthermore, these cruise savings will go well with the sensational airlines’ early bird fares on flights to Europe in 2015 recently being released.

This round of last chance Early bird offers commences on October 1, 2014, with such offerings as a seven-night Mediterranean cruise priced from $729pp ($NZ789), twin share, a 14-night Grand Mediterranean cruise from $1588pp ($NZ1658), twin share.

In addition, seven-night North Europe cruises are priced from $1189pp ($NZ1429), twin share, 14-night North Europe cruises from $2278pp ($NZ2498), twin share.

“With Grand Mediterranean, Grand Northern Europe and Grand European itineraries, it's the perfect time to take advantage of these incredible early bird savings, however they won’t be on sale for much longer” said MSC Cruises (Australia and New Zealand) managing director Lynne Clarke.

“So book now to be quick to avoid disappointment.”

MSC Cruises is also offering early bird savings on its winter 2015-2016 Mediterranean, Arabian Peninsula and Canary Islands sailings.

Details: 1300 028502 (Australia), 0508 4278 473 (New Zealand), www.msccruises.com.au 

Muswellbrook Creative Arts Fair 1014

Ice Climbing

Have you tried ice climbing?

Big White’s impressive 60 foot ice tower is located in Happy Valley Adventure Park, with beginner to advanced options.

All ages are welcome to participate in this exciting activity to conquer to the top, making this a fun family adventure!

Travelplan Ski Deals & Packages (PDF): http://bit.ly/WD0oGZ ‪#‎BigWhite‬ ‪#‎Canada‬

Marriott to open property in Hainan Island

The Haikou Marriott Hotel, scheduled to open in October 2014, has appointed Lily Jiang as General Manager.

Lily is one of the rapidly growing number of women to attain the position of hotel general manager, and she is also one of only a small number of PRC nationals that has reached the level of general manager within the Marriott group.

Lily has many years of experience in top management positions at a diversity of high-profile properties and companies. With Marriott International, Lily has taken the role of General Manager of both Renaissance and Marriott properties. She comes to Haikou Marriott from the Renaissance Wuhan Hotel, the first Marriott hotel in Central China.

At Haikou Marriot Hotel, Lily will use her formidable management expertise and experience to build awareness of the new property and realize its full potential as a unique tropical island resort.

Haikou Marriott Hotel

The 386-room five-star hotel consists of eight interconnected buildings with traditional Chinese architecture on a picturesque section of tropical shoreline.

The salutary waters of a natural hot spring feed a 923-square-meter swimming pool as well as six soaking pools located in the spa.

Boasting an 845-meter Grand Ballroom with 9-meter ceiling as well as an immense green lawn and outdoor terrace with ocean views, the hotel is also set to become a top venue in Haikou for weddings, meetings and corporate gatherings of all types.

"I am honored and delighted to have the opportunity to lead the team of this groundbreaking new resort, and I am excited by the possibilities it presents in terms of delighting guests and elevating the attractiveness of Haikou City as a tourism destination," said Lily.

Hang Pagoda distinctively

The Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh in Vietnam is home to many Khmer pagodas worth a visit, but the most popular and original one is probably Hang Pagoda, or Cave Pagoda.

Hang Pagoda is located in Chau Thanh District in Tra Vinh Province. It was built in 1637 with the Khmer name of Kompong Cray Pagoda.

To enter the pagoda, tourists will have to walk through a cave-like entrance whose width, length and depth are 12 meters each, explaining for its name as Hang Pagoda (Hang means cave in Vietnamese).

The pagoda’s architecture shows strong influence of the Indian culture. For example, there are two Yak statues with convex eyes, long fangs, wearing armor and holding a cane, flanking the entrance. In the Indian culture, Yak is known as a cruel ogre who was then converted by Buddha to protect the pagoda.

The main building of Hang Pagoda is placed in the center of a tree garden which makes it look like a giant palace. The front of the building is decorated with a meticulous carving of Naga, the god of snake with seven heads, while the interior exhibits rows of pillars, and paintings of Buddhism surrounding an imposing statue of Buddha in the center.

Hang Pagoda’s campus looks freshly green with ancient trees whose stumps and roots will be used by the monks to create stunning wooden sculptures.


Registrations are now open for the 2015 Port to Port MTB, a four day mountain bike race in Newcastle and surrounding regions.

The Port to Port MTB course begins at the tranquil Nelson Bay Marina, where riders are greeted by four days of exciting single track, fire trails, testing hill climbs and steep descents through Cessnock, the Hunter Valley, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle.

One of the features of the 2015 event will be the Crowne Plaza Sundown Shootout. This exclusive event will be a fast-paced mountain bike spectacular, consisting of a 2km time trial for the top one hundred riders, starting in the newly built Lovedale Brewery and winding around the Hunter Valley Golf course. For riders not competing in the Crowne Plaza Sundown Shootout, this will be an opportunity to witness Australia’s best Mountain Bike riders up-close in action.

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism and Major Events Andrew Stoner said he looks forward to welcoming participants from around the country and the world to Newcastle and the Hunter in NSW for the second Port to Port MTB.

“This year’s Port to Port MTB was very well received, delivering a significant economic benefit to the local community. The NSW Government is proud to have secured the event from 2014 to 2016 through our tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW”.

“The event showcases the magnificent Hunter region of NSW to an international audience, with competitors traversing idyllic beaches, picturesque wine country, and forest trails over four action-packed days of competition,” Mr Stoner said.

The Port to Port MTB will be held from Thursday 28 May to Sunday 31 May, 2015. To register and for more information, visit porttoportmtb.com

Monday, 29 September 2014

Da Nang fireworks competition set to light up the sky

The 2015 Da Nang International Fireworks Competition (DIFC) themed “A Symphony of Colours” is expected to attract five teams, including South Africa, the US, Australia, Poland and the host, Da Nang.

Also according to Da Nang municipal People’s Committee, each team is scheduled for a 20-minute performance.

Performance criteria are based on the idea, the diversity and the theme.

The organizing board assesses colours and sound-light combination in each fireworks display.

The competition is scheduled for April 28-29, 2015 on the banks of the Han River.

Bach Dang Street, Tran Hung Dao Street, Han River Bridge and Thuan Phuoc Bridge should be ideal places for local people and tourists to enjoy the interesting event.

A visit to longevity village in Hainan

99-year-old man

Luoyi village in Chengmai county of Hainan is an ancient historical and cultural village founded at the end of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

The most representative ancient building in Luoyi village is the Li Ancestral Temple, which dates back to the reign of Emperor Yongzheng in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The villagers share the same surname "Li", and more than 100 of the locals are above 80 years old, with the oldest 106 yearsold, winning Luoyi fame as a "longevity village".

Luoyi village is located in a volcanic rock area, so its water and soil are rich in selenium, which is a chemical element said to help prevent aging. Besides the fine ecological environment, a tradition of respecting elderly people also contributes to longevity here.

Chengmai was honored as the "longevity hometown" of China and the world respectively in 2009 and 2012. Luoyi village is among the 10 largest longevity villages in Chengmai.

According to local people, the village was among the choices to film the first season of the famous reality show “Dad, Where Are We Going?”

Advance Purchase – Plan Ahead, Save and Win! at Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket

Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket
Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket launches the Advance Purchase promotion, inviting travellers to plan their Phuket holiday ahead to save -- and even win!

When booking stays at least 14 days in advance on www.dusit.com, guests can save up to 25% from now through 20 December 2014. Qualifying reservations will be automatically entered into a monthly raffle draw to be held in November, December and January to win a complimentary night!

One winner will be drawn at random and winners will be notified via email as well as on the Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket Facebook page. Qualifying reservations are for stays between 1 October – 20 December 2014 and prizes are for the same room category as the original booking. Prizes are redeemable between 1st March – 30th September 2015. Other terms and conditions apply.

For more information on this offer, please visit
or contact us on +66 (0)76 362 999 or email dtlprsvn@dusit.com

Back to messages New Zealand is first country to launch 5 extreme sports in one day‏

On 23rd September 2014, a world first adventure sports tourism product, the 5X1NZ, became available to adrenalin seekers from around the world. Via a global partnership between Tourism New Zealand and STA Travel, visitors to New Zealand are now be able to book an adrenalin seeker’s ultimate dream - the chance to complete five of the world’s most exhilarating adrenalin sports, within a single day.

This unique, world first tourism experience enables you to join an elite club of adrenalin seekers. Through the 5X1NZ you’ll be able to skydive, snowboard, mountain bike, bungy and jetboat, all within a single day, one adrenalin filled epic experience after the other.

To demonstrate the new experience, Tourism New Zealand challenged film director Justin McMillan and skydive athlete Chuck Berry to film a non-stop action sequence, during which Chuck completed all five sports within a single hour. Both the video and further details of the experience are available to view on www.newzealand.com/5X1NZ.

Chuck Berry commented about the challenge, ‘I’m used to jumping out of planes, but the idea of free-fall followed by boarding, biking, bungy and boats was enough to make my blood pump. As far as I know, no one else has ever done it and now anyone that’s mad enough can give it a go. I couldn’t take the smile off my face for days afterwards.’

New Zealand’s Queenstown is famous for being the adventure sports capital of the world. Travelers go there to try their hand at everything from skydiving through to jet boats, heli-skiing and downhill-mountain biking. It is even home to the first commercial bungy jumping operation. But what makes Queenstown unique, is not just the spectacular landscapes or the buzzing party scene in town, it’s how many of these adventure sports you can do within a 50km radius.

Kevin Bowler from Tourism New Zealand said, ‘Last year we had over 500,000 young travellers to New Zealand. People come here because they know they’ll have a life experience worth remembering and because there’s so much to do in such a small space that their trips will be packed full of memories. The 5X1NZ is just one more thing to add to people’s bucket list of things to do whilst they’re here.’

Emma Hudson, STA Travel Group’s market development consultant added: “The 5x1NZ is a very exciting new way to experience a raft of adrenaline sports! These sports are incredibly popular with our customers all over the world and now our exclusive 5x1NZ pack offers the chance for anyone to experience the thrill.”

The 5X1NZ adventure package is available exclusively from STA Travel. The product includes an NZONE tandem sky dive, downhill mountain bike trails at Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort, a Shotover jet boat trip, AJ Hackett bungy and a variety of ski combo pass options as add-ons for those travelling in New Zealand’s winter season - plus an organised day itinerary.

First Hotel Jen Debuts In Singapore

Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore, the first of a new 'Jenre' of fresh, friendly and fuss-free mid-range hotels by Shangri-La International Hotel Management Ltd, opened its doors to the public in Singapore today. The opening is the first in a major initiative to launch the Hotel Jen brand in nine key gateway cities across Asia Pacific by March 2015.

Mr. Greg Dogan, president and CEO of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, who was in Singapore for the official opening ceremony, said: "Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore marks a significant milestone in our journey to redefine the hotel experience for today's new generation of travellers. Singapore is one of Asia's leading travel and tourism destinations and a hub-market for the region, making it a prime location in which to showcase our new 'Jen' concept for the very first time."

Centrally located along Singapore's principal shopping belt, Orchard Road, and in close proximity to the CBD, Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore is well positioned for guests to discover distinctive local experiences, inspired by the virtual persona Jen, a professional hotelier who loves life, travel and the adventure of discovering new places.

Lothar Nessmann, chief operations officer of Hotel Jen, commenting on today's opening and the new brand, said: "We are thrilled to open the doors to our first Hotel Jen here at Orchardgateway. Catering to the changing demands of our existing customers and the more independently-minded 'millennial' mind set, the Jen brand offers travellers greater flexibility to blend the boundaries between business and leisure. An authentic 'informed and friendly' service style will allow our guests to discover Singapore's unique local culture without unnecessary fuss."

Located directly above Orchardgateway – Singapore's newest shopping mall – Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore is interconnected with three shopping malls providing a seamless, weather-proof shopping experience and direct access to Somerset MRT station offering effortless connectivity to all parts of Singapore.

Staying with Jen captures the joy of travel and spirit of adventure, celebrates culture and smoothes out frustrations. Jen's dream is for every stay to start with anticipation and end on a high.

Herve Duboscq, general manager of Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore, added: "It's a real honour to be opening the doors to the first ever Hotel Jen today. We have guests arriving already and it's just so exciting to see our virtual persona Jen become a reality, as her values of simple pleasures, easy efficiency and a sense of adventure come to life through the hotel and our fantastic team working here."


Swissôtel Sydney has appointed an internationally celebrated Executive Chef to lead their culinary vision at the five star hotel.

Thomas Heinrich boasts a range of experience from some of America and Canada’s top restaurants, earning him much praise among their national culinary scenes.

Sydney-born Thomas began his career locally at Basil’s Seafood Restaurant, developing his experience working at several local eateries before taking his passion for natural local ingredients to New York.

There, he landed the prestigious role of Sous Chef at the highly acclaimed Fifty Seven Fifty Seven restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Returning to Australia, he accepted the role of Executive Chef at Sydney’s fine dining restaurant Deep Blue Bistro.

However, Thomas was drawn back to the US soon after, where he undertook the role of Chef de Cuisine at Michelin star-awarded Seasons Restaurant at Four Seasons Chicago.

He then took over the culinary operations as Executive Sous Chef at Hyatt Regency Chicago, Hyatt’s  flagship property, before quickly being promoted to Executive Chef at Hyatt Regency Vancouver.

In every destination he has worked Thomas has embraced the region’s local ingredients. The talented chef has developed a passion and aptitude for mixing and matching Australia’s native produce with more traditional flavours. This can be seen through his new spring menu at JPB, the hotels signature urban eatery, which launched this week.

Food really will imitate art with locally sourced and seasonally inspired dishes such as a la minute smoked ora king salmon with avocado terrine and lemon myrtle fluid gel.

Thomas says: “I like to let Mother Nature speak for herself by using local ingredients and letting traditional flavours shine – within the one creative and considered dish. I’m looking forward to bringing this longstanding philosophy to Swissôtel Sydney.

“My menu will take each diner on a journey of flavour, colour and texture, with meals cooked from the heart, with the integrity of each ingredient in mind.”

More Information:  http://www.swissotel.com/hotels/sydney

ARTIC Coming Soon in Anaheim USA

Orange County is about to get a whole lot cooler, thanks to a ground-breaking new resident: Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC). This revolutionary 67,000-square-foot transit center will be located in the heart of Anaheim and serve as a hub for multiple transportation systems. ARTIC is set to open its doors in December 2014 and promises to bring with it additional development, more visitors, and new jobs.

If you’ve driven along the 57 freeway or been to an Angels game recently, you’ve seen the construction for ARTIC well underway. The construction for the progressive structure began in September 2012, with a focus on reducing Southern California’s carbon footprint. By using innovative materials and state-of-the-art design, ARTIC will hold a LEED Platinum certification – the highest level of green building certification in the U.S.

As you step inside ARTIC, it almost feels as though you’re still outside – the vastness of the building coupled with the see-through panels create a beautiful outdoor effect.
Programmable LED lights frame the facility, creating a spectacular nighttime sight to be seen.

No matter how you’re planning on getting to, from, and around OC, chances are you will pass through ARTIC once it’s completed. There will be 10 different on-site transportation options, which include: Metrolink, Amtrak, OCTA buses, Anaheim Resort Transportation, shuttles, taxis, tours and charter buses.

In the coming future, ARTIC will also usher in ARC (Anaheim Rapid Connection) and high-speed trains. It’s enviable location is perfect for getting to all of the major Orange County attractions, including Disneyland, The Honda Center, Angel Stadium of Anaheim (an underground pedestrian tunnel will connect the stadium to ARTIC), Anaheim Resort district and the Anaheim Convention Center.

Because the brains behind ARTIC know that half the fun of travel is the journey, they’ve built this hub to be a destination in and of itself. Within its arched walls you’ll find restaurants and retail services that will keep your tummies full and your needs met as you await the next leg of your journey. The Lost Bean, an organic coffee and tea shop, is the first of many tenants to make ARTIC their new home. In vein of the environmental mindset of the structure, The Lost Bean “sources raw, 100% organic, fair-trade certified coffee beans and roasts them to perfection every morning in house.”

The impact of ARTIC is best seen by the numbers:
  • 67,000 Square feet of the terminal
  • 200,000 Square feet of ETFE, an innovative building material, used
  • 10,330 Total daily travelers projected upon opening
  • 10 Modes of transportation on-site
  • 5,000 Jobs created during and after construction of ARTIC
  • 50 Percent reduction in energy consumption (projected)

ARTIC will undoubtedly change Orange County for the good, making it easier and more sustainable for locals and our 44+ million annual visitors to get where they’re going.

Taste Good Food Month with Accor Hotels from $170‏

Australia's largest food festival,
Good Food Month presented by Citi
kicks off in Sydney and Canberra this October and as the official accommodation partner, Accor Hotels are giving you the chance to make a night of it and rest your tastebuds from $170 per night*.
Choose from over 30 Accor Hotels in Sydney and Canberra.

ibis Sydney Darling Harbour
Novotel Canberra
Mercure Sydney Potts Point
Pullman Sydney Hyde Park



Good Food Month presented by Citi

During October, this month long celebration features great events to showcase the world-class and vibrant food scenes in Sydney and Canberra from fine dining to the Night Noodle Markets in Sydney, pop-up bars, luscious lunches and delectable desserts. For more details visit goodfoodmonth.com.

Here is a list of the great events to enjoy across Accor Hotels in NSW and ACT:

Bar Hop - Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Bar Hop - Pullman Sydney Hyde Park
Slider & Cider - Harbour Rocks Hotel, MGallery
Good Pub Food - Pumphouse Bar & Restaurant, Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour
Good Dinners Under $30 - Mercure Sydney

Regional Table - Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour

Sweet Things
The Ultimate High Tea - Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Let’s Do Dessert - Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Let’s Do Dessert - Novotel Sydney Central

Art & Food - Harbour Rocks Hotel, MGallery
Exclusive 4 course dinner with award-winning local writer B. Michael Radburn on 9th October. $150pp. [ More Info ]

Regional NSW
Regional Table - Pullman Magenta Shores Resort
Regional Table - Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains, MGallery

Let’s Do Dessert - Novotel Canberra
Drink & Dine - Mercure Canberra
Good Dinners Under $30 - ibis Styles Canberra Eaglehawk
Download the 2014 program for further details
Download Good Food Month Guides
Book Now and enjoy sweet dreams with Accor Hotels.
Book Accommodation

Ceremony marking 20 years of Ha Long’s UNESCO recognition to be held on Nov 1

A special ceremony will mark 20 years of Ha Long’s UNESCO recognition.

The ceremony marking 20 years of Ha Long’s UNESCO recognition, a highlight of the event, will start at 8pm on November 1 at the 30-10 Square, Ha Long city. The 90-minute event will be broadcasted live on Viet Nam TV channel (VTV) and Quang Ninh TV channel (QTV).

The event will include a series of attractive activities namely a photo contest on Ha Long Bay (October 31), an international workshop on sustainably enhancing the Ha Long world natural heritage (November 01), a discussion of the role of business in preserving heritages (October 31), two airplane tours on Ha Long Bay (Nov 01), an art performing program (Nov 01), etc.

The event aims to strengthen the promotion for Ha Long Bay and raise awareness of heritage conservation among locals and tourists. This is also a good chance to promote the image, cultural values and landscapes of Quang Ninh Province as well as contributes to enhance competitive capacity of tourism in the province.

On December 17, 1994, the Ha Long Bay was officially listed as a World Heritage site with globally outstanding value in terms of natural landscape by UNESCO. In 2000, the bay was additionally recognized for its special value on geography-geomorphology. In 2011, it surpassed 261 other landscapes around the world to be voted as one among seven new natural wonders of the world.


New print and marketing initiatives for the Love Every Second of Summer in Sydney campaign were launched this week, reinforcing Sydney as Australia’s number one destination and aiming to further drive visitation during the summer months.

The Love Every Second of Summer in Sydney campaign will take over high profile outdoor sites including Australia’s largest digital billboard at Young & Jacksons in Melbourne and billboards at Tullamarine, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth and Canberra airports.

The campaign also appears across print, television, outdoor and digital media, including a 40-page, full colour magazine called Your Guide to Sydney in Summer, which was inserted into more than 1.9 million News Limited newspapers across Australia last weekend.

In addition to the media activity, Destination NSW is working with industry partners including airlines, hotels and online travel agents to develop a program of co-operative campaigns aimed at encouraging travel to Sydney over summer.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said the campaign will also include extensive digital media activity to drive visits to the Sydney.com website and the websites of event and travel related partners.

“A highlight of the digital activity is a high impact homepage takeover of Fairfax’s online mastheads which achieved over eight million impressions and features stunning aerial vision of Sydney Harbour from Destination NSW’s award-winning Sydney 360 project,” Ms Chipchase said.

“From October, the It’s ON! television commercials will feature on free-to-air and pay TV networks. Sydney’s exclusive major events present a compelling case to visit Sydney in Summer including the Sydney International Art Series, Emirates Australian Open of Golf, Sydney New Year’s Eve, Sydney Festival, Hurley Australian Open of Surfing and Chinese New Year,” she said.

Your Guide to Sydney in Summer was also distributed within 280,000 newspapers in New Zealand on 14 September.

The Sydney in Summer and It’s ON! campaigns are in market through to February 2015.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

400,000 Reader Miletsone for The Holiday and Travel Magazine

The day has arrived! The 400,000th person read The Holiday and Travel Magazine yesterday on 27 September 2014. The numbers have been growing over the months. I remember that it took a whole 6 months to reach the first 1,000 readers in 2011, then how I was excited when 1,000 readers read it each month. Then more than 1,000 people read the Magazine each week. Now up to 1,000 people read it each day. I realise that these statistics may not be as impressive as some of the more well known web sites who have huge numbers of readers, but I am pleased with the way my reader numbers have grown.

It took 3 years from 2011 to 18 October 2013 to reach the first 200,00 reader mark, then just under 1 year from 18 October 2013 to 27 September 2014 to add another 200,000 readers.

Initially it was only people in Australia reading The Holiday and Travel Magazine. Now people from many countries around the world read it. The majority of readers now come from four countries - USA, Australia, Russia and the UK. The next six countries in the Top 10 are France, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Spain, and China. (When the 200,000 reader mark was reached the Top 10 countries were - USA, Australia, Russia, UK, Germany, France, Philippines, India, China and Poland.) Many readers come from other countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Looking at the statistics today - reader page views in all time history are 400,733, last month 20,162, and yesterday 916.

Web browsers used to access the magazine (in order of popularity) are Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, Safari, BingPreview, Mobile Safari, OS FBSV, Mobile and GSA.

Pageviews by operating system (in order of popularity) are Windows, Linux, Macintosh, iPhone, iPad, Android, other Unix, iPod, Windows IT 6.1, and Blackberry.

To date the magazine has been a labour of love. It has not earnt any income. I thought that when the readership level went past 400,000 that I would leave my present part-time job and work on the Magazine full time, introduce advertisements, and make some money from it. The 400,000 mark has arrived earlier than I anticipated, so now I will have to start giving future directions some serious thought. However, I am a novice at website development and know very little about SEO.

Thanks to all the readers and contributors. I appreciate your support over the time I have been producing The Holiday and Travel Magazine. I have taken part in Famils and Travel Expos in Australia, China, Malaysia and Vietnam. I have met many wonderful people around the world and look forward to continued friendship and support.

27 September 2014

FITUR 2015 signs up to mark World Tourism Day

World Tourism Day, which will take place tomorrow, 27th September, will focus on raising awareness within the international community of the important role that tourism plays within the social, cultural, political and economic realms. In Spain, Tourism Day will coincide with the preparations for the International Tourism Trade Fair, FITUR 2015, which is organised by IFEMA. This trade fair constitutes one of the largest trade showcases for the world tourist industry. It is also the emblematic global event that inaugurates the international trade fair calendar for the tourist industry, taking place between 28th January and 1st February at FERIA DE MADRID.

World Tourism Day will seek to help address the worldwide challenges set out in the United Nations It will also highlight the strong contribution that tourism can make in terms of fulfilling these goals. These development goals coincide in good part with those pursued by FITUR, the trade fair organised by IFEMA that will be staging its thirty-fifth event on this occasion. FITUR constantly updates its exhibition in order to adapt to the industry's needs and prepare all of the tools required for the tourist industry to have its own special business forum at which to develop and implement its strategies.

The important role played by tourism in Spain is confirmed by the figures furnished by FRONTUR, the Spanish Inbound Tourism Border Survey. Thus, during the first half of the year 2014, Spain welcomed some 28 million foreign tourists, which represents an increase of 7.3% compared to the same period last year. Alongside these figures, we might also highlight the significant increase in the number of foreign tourist arrivals. Thus, over the first six months of the year Spain witnessed total growth of 4.6% under this heading compared to the same period the previous year. These trends attest to the favourable performance of Spain's leading industry, a fact that was also reflected at the last staging of FITUR, which enjoyed some excellent participation figures: more than 9,000 companies and nearly 220,000 participants.

Shared Goals: Tourism and Community Development

The theme chosen for World Tourism Day this year, "Tourism and Community Development", reflects the tourist industry's potential when it comes to generating new socio-economic opportunities at a local level, whilst also highlighting the decisive role that tourism plays in terms of boosting sustainable community development. In short, sustainability and innovation encompass most of the key values entailed by tourism development and, in turn, entailed by FITUR's strategic approach. In this respect, FITUR provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the goals promoted by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation through its staging of World Tourism Day 2014, based on the trade fair's staging of different specialised sections that revolve around the ideas of sustainability and innovation, two key pillars of the tourist industry.

FITUR's most important sections in this sense include the following: FITUR KNOW HOW & EXPORT, promoted by SEGITTUR and focusing on pioneering solutions under the heading of tourism management and foreign promotion; FITURTECH, which concentrates on the latest tourism technologies and applications; and FITURGREEN, with its range of energy-saving and efficiency solutions for hotel and tourism management. Neither must we forget to mention INVESTOUR Africa, a forum organised jointly by the UNWTO and Casa Africa, which seeks to promote investment in African tourism projects.

As a new feature, at its 35th event, FITUR will also present FITUR SHOPPING alongside its habitual sections. Organised in collaboration with Madrid Shopping Tour, this initiative seeks to cater for the growing importance of shopping tourism within the worldwide tourist industry. At the same time, FITUR SALUD will seek to promote health tourism in Spain through the auspices of the cluster known as Spaincares.

UNWTO’s World Tourism Day 2014 video is now available on Vimeo. All those interested in learning more about the initiative can view the video by clicking on the link below:


Belgian beer festival to be held in Viet Nam

A Belgian Beer Festival is expected to be held in Viet Nam, for the first time, at 6pm on October 3 at the American Club, 21 Hai Ba Trung Street, Ha Noi.

The festival will offer visitors a chance to taste 30 different Belgian draught beers, discover the brewing process, learn more about Belgian culture, enjoy Jazz performances, and attend a wide range of other activities.

Known for quality and variety since the Middle Ages, Belgium produces more than 2,500 different types of the beverage.

The Belgian Beer Festival is held annually in different regions of the country. The festival provides an opportunity for brewers and beer connoisseurs to share and indulge in their passion.

In April this year, Belgium took steps to have Belgian beer recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage product.

The non-profit event is co-organised by the Embassy of Belgium, Beluxcham and Anheuser-Busch InBev – the world;s largest brewing company headquartered in Leuven, Belgium – and three domestic companies including Beer Plaza, SBB and My Way.

The Embassy of Belgium is planning to organise the festival annually in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City, according to Belgian Ambassador, Angelet Bruno.

Tickets including three bottles of beer can be bought at the entrance or through the hotlines 09.7467.7754 or 04.3519.0808.

Two Centara properties amongst Holidays with Kids top three family resorts in Thailand

Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket and Centara Karon Resort Phuket have come out number 2 and 3 in the top ten family resorts in Thailand as voted by the readers of family magazine Holidays with Kids.

Centara Hotels & Resorts are proud to have one four and one five star property recognised in this highly sought-after award.

The two resorts, both located in Phuket, impress with the most unique facilities targeted to the family market.

Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket is the only five-star resort with direct access to Karon Beach and offers utmost comfort to families with spacious family rooms, including double double bedding and interconnecting rooms and a range of family facilities including an extensive waterpark with four swimming pools, lazy river and waterslides as well as a kids’ club and daily activity programme and babysitting services on request.

Centara Karon Resort Phuket blends four residential zones in a quiet area in the heart of Karon, only a 10 minute drive from Patong, and is surrounded by lush green gardens spanning over 14 acres, whilst at the same time having all the benefits of shops, restaurants and markets of Karon on your doorstep. The four star resort’s family-oriented rooms are spacious and 2 wings accommodate up to four people in each room. Three children’s pools, a brand new e-zone as well as a kids club, and daily activities for kids are only some of the selling points that attract thousands of families every year.

Discover Boating Week

The Boating Industry Association, under its MyBoatingLife.com.au will be launching Discover Boating Week from the 18th until 26th October. This week will allow us as an industry, to further connect with consumers and demonstrate the benefits of the recreational boating lifestyle.

Furthermore, this week will give your business the opportunity to show consumers your products and services, and connect with them within a promotional calendar. Discover Boating Week will be promoted through Social Media, our Extensive Consumer Database, 3 Sydney Weekender Stories, and a mainstream media campaign.
  • Discover Sailing Day – 40 locations around NSW on 26th October
  • Discover Paddling – Numerous locations in Sydney, various days.
  • Try a Trailer Boat – Numerous Locations in NSW, various days.
  • Discover Boat Sharing – Numerous locations around Sydney
  • Marina Open Day – Numerous locations around NSW

For further information on Discover Boating Week, or to register your interest or participation, please contact the BIA Team:

Behind-the-Scenes at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind-the-scenes of a popular stage show? I recently visited Pirate’s Dinner Adventure in Buena Park for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour.

The elaborate show takes place aboard an authentically replicated 18th-century Spanish galleon that is anchored in an indoor lagoon. Surrounding the lagoon is a showroom of six additional ships where the audience is seated. Voyagers on each of the six ships have their own fearless pirate mascot whom they cheer on as the adventure unfolds with a cast of a dozen actors, singers and stunt performers engaging in a bounty. Needless to say, there is a lot of prepping that goes on ahead of the show.

Actors fine-tune their routines on stage with props before the show while the set technicians are simultaneously busy working on sound and lighting. The show utilizes several pieces of equipment such as trampolines and a revolving ladder. The crew also prepares safety precautions and makes sure the stage is dry so no one slips.


Aerial silks are also used in the show and there are plenty of pre-performance checks to ensure the aerialists’ safety.

During my visit I met with Celeste Peterson, operations manager for Pirate’s Dinner Adventure, who explained that the actors typically rehearse after their shows. She also mentioned that during a typical interview process, they can interview upwards of 200 people before narrowing it down to one or two actors.

My son and I took in an evening show that night, and while wearing our red headbands and beaded necklaces, we were thoroughly entertained for hours. Although it is known as a Pirate show, there is quite a bit of humor tied in. The Pirates engage with the audience, crack funny jokes and even do some silly dancing. And a huge animatronic dragon even makes a cameo.

During a brief interview with Pirate’s actor Ed Bangasser, he told me that he once was a director of the show, and that for the month of October they host a different show called Vampirates. This special Halloween show includes a costume contest with prizes. While he was talking to me, I mentioned to him that I enjoyed his accent, which was a mix of Australian and English. I asked him where he was from and he laughed and said, “America.” It then occurred to me that he was still in character.

Ed wears many hats at the show - he plays the yellow and purple pirates, as well as the captain and McGee. The best part of all is that I learned Ed works as a teaching assistant during the day. Who would have guessed?!

Before the adventure kicks off, the cast holds a group meeting to go over details and come together as a team. Ed informed me that the wardrobe/dressing room is a very sacred place for them. This is where they go to get “pumped up” before the show, taking enjoyment in playing loud music while getting ready.

If you’re ready for some fun and excitement, then head on over to Pirate’s Dinner Adventure!

Pirate’s Dinner Adventure is located at 7600 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, CA 90620. For more information, visit Pirate's Adventure on Facebook and on Twitter.

Blogger's tip: Here's a coupon for 30% off Pirate's Dinner Adventure tickets, through December 2014.


October and November Meetings

Full Day Delegate Package at $84 per person

  • Plenary Room hire (minimum numbers apply)
  • Note pads, pens, iced water and mints
  • Morning Tea and Afternoon Tea served with 2 catering items
  • Working Lunch served with Soft Drinks and Juice
  • Continuous Nespresso Machine
  • Wi-Fi internet for all delegates
December Meetings

Full Day Delegate Package at $79 per person

  • Plenary Room hire (minimum numbers apply)
  • Note pads, pens, iced water and mints
  • Morning Tea and Afternoon Tea served with 2 catering items
  • Working Lunch served with Soft Drinks and Juice
  • Continuous Nespresso Machine
  • Wi-Fi internet for all delegates
  • 1 x Onsite parking for organiser (normally $40.00 per day)
  • Data Projector and Screen (normally $280.00 per day)
Fraser Suites Sydney is a 5 star property in Sydney CBD comprising of 201 luxury all-suite residences, ranging from Deluxe Studios, One & Two Bedroom Suites to the spectacular Two and Three Bedroom Penthouses. 

Located in the heart of Sydney’s business, retail and entertainment hub, with views of Darling Harbour and a short walk to the famous Sydney Town Hall & Queen Victoria Building.

The hotel offers innovative Conference space with state of the art presentation facilities, abundant natural light, high ceilings and contemporary style with flexibility and functionality.

Kent 1&2

Two meeting spaces with the flexibility to combine into one main plenary room which leads onto an exclusive Pre-Function area. The Kent 1&2 room is a pillar-less room filled with natural light, high ceilings, built-in audio visual equipment and contemporary furnishings.


This dedicated boardroom offers natural light and inbuilt video conferencing facilities.

Liverpool 1&2

Multi-function room offering natural light. Perfect for intimate conference groups, leadership seminar and workshops.

Bathurst Room

Dedicated boardroom with a ceiling mounted Data Projector and Screen.


Inspiring break-out area. Perfect venue for an informal gathering, cocktail party or private dinner. Take a break from your meeting and enjoy lunch in a relaxed environment.

Level 11 Pre-Function Area

Chic foyer area ideal for networking and hosting breaks.

For any enquiries or a quote please call Jessica Mangraviti on 02 8823 8890 or email Jessica.mangraviti@frasershospitality.com

Metropole Hanoi makes prestigious Top 100 list

Travel guide Fodor has cited the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel as one of the top 100 hotels in the world.

The Metropole Hanoi is the first hotel in Viet Nam to receive the distinguished award.

In making the determination, more than 500 specialists of Fodor evaluated over 5,000 hotels assessing their quality, architecture and accommodation.

Fifteen journalists of Fodor served as the jury and made the final selection.

The top 100 hotels in the world include famous names such as Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, Thailand, Savoy in London, the UK and Taj Mahal in India.

The Metropole Hanoi was built in 1901. It is located in the centre of the capital city of Viet Nam, near the Hanoi Opera House and Hoan Kiem (Sword Lake).

The hotel has received many accolades throughout its history and many well-known prime ministers, presidents and ambassadors from around the globe have stayed there.

Some of the more famous visitors included former US President Bill Clinton (twice), former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (twice), French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev.


The award-winning musical theatre blockbuster, Wicked, has opened to a packed House at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre this week, after the show’s witches literally flew into Sydney the week before.

Landing by helicopter at Macquarie Lighthouse at South Head, Glinda ‘The Good’ and Elphaba ‘The Wicked Witch’ were greeted by the citizens of the Emerald City in Oz, marking the return of the internationally acclaimed production to Sydney.

Broadway’s number 1 show for an unprecedented ten consecutive years, Wicked, has been declared “A Cultural Phenomenon” by Variety and “The Best Musical of the Decade” by Entertainment Weekly.

This 10th Anniversary tour stars Lucy Durack as Glinda and Jemma Rix as Elphaba, both reprising the roles which shot them to stardom during the original Australian tour. Starring in the role of the Wizard is Australian musical theatre icon Reg Livermore.

Joining the Wicked Company in his first musical theatre leading role is Steve Danielsen as Fiyero, while doyenne of stage and screen Maggie Kirkpatrick returns as Madame Morrible. The role of Nessarose is played by newcomer Emily Cascarino, while Edward Grey plays Boq and Glen Hogstrom is Dr Dillamond.

The show joins a stellar live performance line-up in Sydney over the next six months, including, Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage, Les Misérables, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour’s rendition of Aida and James Thierrée’s Tabac Rouge at the Sydney Festival.

For more information go to wickedthemusical.com.au