Friday, 31 July 2015

Sydney International Boat Show - Immerse yourself into’s where the magic happens

Australia’s largest recreational marine event is now open.

World premiers, Australian premiers, cutting edge products and new technologies are on display. Bring the whole family to the Sydney International Boat Show.

Show Features

  • Fishing with lures, need help?
  • Making the most of your fish finder?
  • Want to know the best cruising spots to take your family?

There will be eight Master Classes at this year’s show, for the full schedule click on the What to See page, all brought to you by industry heavy weights and boating, fishing and even cricketing legends (yes cricketing!).

Also... Old4New lifejacket swap ...superboat and historic boat music and BBQ.


It couldn’t be easier to purchase your Boat Show tickets, click here or wait until show time and buy your tickets at the door. Why not visit after work? The Marina and Halls are open until 8pm every night, so take advantage of our $5 after 5pm ticket and come along. Ticket booths are located at both locations; Cockle Bay (next to the IMAX Theatre) or Glebe Island at the entrances to the Halls.


Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island has 980 car park spaces to offer Boat Show visitors. Whilst Cockle Bay Wharf - Darling Harbour of course has the capacity for 1000’s of cars. The hardest bit is picking where you want to start your visit! For more information on parking options, click here.


A free event ferry operates between locations and there is also a free event bus between Glebe Island and Central Railway Station. For full transport options, click here.


Want to know who will be at the Show this year? Click here to see this year’s list of exhibitors, their brands and the vessels which will be on display at the Marina.


Book your accommodation at Novotel or Ibis Darling Harbour in advance to take advantage of a 5% discount offered to Boat Show visitors. Conditions apply, click here for details.

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We hope to see you at this year’s Show!

Peninsula Malaysia

Pangkor Island
The region known as Peninsula covers the areas within about four hours drive of KL. This region offers a range of things to do and see, including cool highlands complete with tea plantations, the historic city of Malacca and Malaysia's largest national park.

Pangkor Island

A relaxing island escape with stunning beaches and excellent accommodation.

Pangkor Island takes pride in its reputation for offering the quiet, laid-back Malaysian beach experience that might be lacking in some of the larger destinations. Beautiful sandy beaches are the clear highlight, with accommodation options dotted around the 8 square kilometre island ranging from simple beach huts up to five-star resorts.

If they can drag themselves way from the pristine beaches, visitors can also enjoy the old fishing villages, explore the impressive Fu Lin and Kali Amman Temples and check out the old Dutch Fort.
For an extra special treat the privately owned island of Pangkor Laut is an exclusive resort experience that regularly scoops the international spa and resort awards pool.


A fascinating and exciting city offering a snapshot of both old and new Malaysia.

Malacca, known as Melaka in the Malay language, is a diverse and eclectic city divided into old and new towns. The compact old town is full of interesting historical and cultural highlights, particularly around the town square and waterfront areas. Visitors can explore the many sights, such as St Paul's Hill, St John's Fort, Kampung Hulu's Mosque (the oldest in Malaysia), the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum and more by following the sign-posted heritage trail that weaves around the compact streets. Jonker Street is another highlight - a narrow street full of cafés, antique and collectible shops of all kinds buzzing with activity day & night.

Taman Negara

Taman Negara
Experience the wonder of Malaysia’s largest national park.

Malaysia's largest national park, and reputed to be the world's oldest tropical rainforest, Taman Negara today offers an exciting range of eco-tourism experiences. Keen hikers can climb to the Malaysian Peninsula's highest point, Gunung Tahan. Animal-spotters should keep their eyes peeled for glimpses of the Asian Elephant, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Red Junglefowl and possibly even a Malayan Tiger. Other must-do's include a canopy walkway, caving, jungle trekking and exploring the Tahan River.


A cool climate adventure through Malaysia’s surprising and inviting geographic high points.

The highlands are a fascinating mixture of lush green vegetation, undulating tea estates, colonial history and traditional tribal inhabitants. The highest point on Peninsular Malaysia, and with temperatures rarely topping 25 degrees, the highlands make a cool change from the rest of the country, too. Its relative remoteness and off-the-tourist-beaten-path feel make for an inspiring high-altitude sojourn.

The Cameron Highlands is the largest of these regions, and here visitors will discover a landscape rich in native and agricultural flora. The area has been a rich agricultural resource since the 1930's, with tea and flower production the two most important crops. Some of the flowers that flourish in this high-altitude environment cannot be found in other parts of Malaysia. Following the main road through the region will take you through a string of small towns, where accommodation and supplies can easily be found.

Fraser's Hill is another highland region that's a mixed-up but enticing blend of colonial history and local flavour - it is named for the 'colourful' Scotsman who established, amongst other more legitimate businesses, the region's first opium and gambling dens. Here you'll enjoy cool climate jungle where a golf course sits next to a mosque, which is next to an English-style country house.

Tourism Noosa Launches Noosa Eco Check - a New Tourism Initiative

Tourism Noosa have launched a new tourism initiative - Noosa Eco Check.

Ambassador Terri Irwin from Australia Zoo officially launched Noosa Eco Check yesterday at a VIP launch with stakeholders including tourism operators, Member for Noosa, Glen Elmes and Noosa Councillor Frank Wilkie.

The launch of Noosa Eco Check was also officially launched last night to over 200 tourism operators at the monthly Tourism Noosa networking night held at Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas.

CEO of Tourism Noosa, Mr Damien Massingham said Noosa Eco Check is an interactive online training program to assist businesses in implementing environmentally friendly business practices that will also support Noosa in becoming a truly sustainable and eco-friendly destination.

“The program is the second stage of the Welcome to Noosa program and provides a selection of easy-to-implement key actions in areas such as energy, water, waste and corporate social responsibility with great examples of sustainable business initiatives in the region”.

“We have developed Noosa Eco Check to provide businesses with the opportunity to assess their environmental performance”. Through combined efforts of local business, their teams and individuals, Noosa Eco Check will help position Noosa as a leader in corporate social responsibility that develops real conservation outcomes” said Mr Massingham.

Councillor Frank Wilkie said that Noosa Eco Check was a great initiative from Tourism Noosa.

“Noosa Eco Check is an exciting program for the tourism industry and it is great to see Tourism Noosa delivering a program that focuses on sustainability. The local case studies featured in the program show businesses that are making a difference and provide some great tips. Whilst the program will assist individual businesses, it will also go a long way in showcasing Noosa as a eco-friendly destination” said Cr Wilkie.

Member for Noosa Glen Elmes said “Noosa Eco Check is another innovative program that Tourism Noosa has delivered to the region following on from the successful Welcome to Noosa program. With a focus on the tourism industry, Noosa Eco Check provides some inspiration for businesses of all sizes, showing low and no cost actions that can easily be applied”.

Terri Irwin from Australia Zoo said “Congratulations to Tourism Noosa on developing Noosa Eco Check. The program will help businesses become recognised as committed to sustainability, by both the community and visitors, whilst also protecting and preserving the environment.”

Noosa Eco Check is free for anyone who has completed the Welcome to Noosa program. To register visit or email at


Noosa Eco Check is an online training course that starts as soon as you sign up and log in. Your progress throughout the course is saved as you go which means you can stop the course if you feel like a break and resume your course exactly where you left it. Once you have completed the course your Noosa Eco Check Certificate and personalised Sustainability Action Plan will be available to download immediately.
  • Free for everyone who has completed Welcome to Noosa [] 
  • Online course
  • Easy to follow and interactive
  • You can do it any time
  • Average time to complete Noosa Eco Check – 1.5 hours
  • The course suggests low and no-cost key actions every business and their teams can easily follow
  • Consumers will recognise you as a green business committed to sustainability
  • Be inspired by case studies of local businesses with an innovative approach to environmental sustainability
  • Good preparation if you decide to become a business with eco-certification and/or accreditation
  • You will receive a personalised certificate of completion and a Noosa Eco Check sticker for your business
  • Completing the course gives you the chance of being showcased as a green business to members and visitors in Tourism Noosa's newsletters and on Social Media

Moab Utah - The Unusual, the Less Known

Moab was once a mining town for Uranium. In recent decades, Moab has unwrapped that past to become the quintessential location for iconic beauty and big adventure.

Deep Desert Expeditions has ties to mining today. Try out the exclusive Azurite Mine Tour to find geodes, rosettes, malachite, as well as, azurite. You will get to keep some specimens too. There is an Annual Moab Rock Gem and Mineral Show held in October at the Old Spanish Trail Arena with terrific displays, demonstrations, field trips, and sales to check out. Then take advantage of Sunset Grill's free shuttle from downtown hotels to the former home of millionaire uranium miner, Charlie Steen. Converted into a restaurant, the Sunset Grill is perched on the Moab valley wall with a 'million dollar view'. Adorning the restaurant walls are around a hundred photographs which can be viewed. They commemorate that mining era. Call the restaurant to make shuttle arrangements 435-259-7146.

Explore the back roads of Moab, many etched into canyon country as past mining roads. The following are dispersed Bureau of Land Management campsites near Moab out along 4WD roads. These are free to use. Firewood, toilet and water must be brought in to use at these locations.
  • Gemini Bridges Road - There are six campsites located in Bride Canyon.
  • Picture Frame Arch Area - There are four sites located six miles from Highway 191.
  • Mill Canyon and Dubinky Road Area - There are about 40 sites located in this area.
  • Dripping Spring near Ten Mile Wash - There are several large campsites on the west side of the road and within the riparian fences.

Some out-of-the-ordinary trip opportunities to consider:

Pedal Paddle Pedal with Desert Highlights is a combination of mountain bike and pack raft. The pack raft deflated is the size of a football. Inflated it is used for passage on a water course to connect land sections, which means covering more backcountry territory and getting a whole lot of sightseeing and exercise.

Rock Art Tours can be enjoyed by people of all ability levels. The Moab Travel Council provides a free pamphlet to allow visitors to undertake a do-it-yourself tour. Many of these are roadside, perfect for sightseeing. Local tour companies lead visitors to additional sites not found on the free literature. The panels are protected by Federal Law, only look and record with a camera or in a sketch book.

Americans with Disabilities

Provision for adaptive gear is the essence of a SPLORE trip, bringing the outdoors to those with disability. That outdoor magic in Moab is rafting. There is financial aid available for persons meeting the essential eligibility criteria. Many participants could use additional help. Qualified people could apply to volunteer and will receive training after passing a background check. Read for more details.

Tag-A-Long Expeditions has been hosting military veterans for Cataract Canyon raft trips since 2011. Fred Solheim created Warriors on Cataract, a trip reserved for any level of disability, one with wheel chair, service dog, multiple amputations, post-traumatic stress (PTS) or traumatic brain injury (TBI). A therapist accompanies the trip to extend the empowering results of this awesome opportunity.

Disc Golf

This well-thought-out course is adjacent to Moab's Old City Park. It covers some terrific ridges, dotted with sage and juniper. The course has a variety of obstacles making holes unique and challenging. A spotter will be helpful to keep track of where discs land. The terrain is rugged. Wear shoes, rather than flip-flops. There is very little shade on the course. Carry a sufficient volume of water. Restrooms, water and shade are back at Old City Park. Plan accordingly. The shops, Gear Heads and Pagan Mountaineering, have discs for sale; Pagan also rents sets of discs.

Adventure spins off of history at times in Moab. Modern life enables opportunities to delve into remote sections of vast canyons and lengths of rivers. Caring individuals share their expertise to make Moab's tourism an unforgettable destination. Plan your trip to southeastern Utah using

Be Shellfish! Treat Yourself to the Hervey Bay Seafood Festival

The Fraser Coast brings another exciting event to the table in August with the annual Hervey Bay Seafood Festival offering something for all tastes.

Hosted by the local fishermen who catch Hervey Bay's famous seafood, the August 9 festival will serve up fresh and delicious wild-caught ocean produce, loads of entertainment, competitions, cooking and catching tips and even an exclusive pop-up seafood and wine restaurant.

Hervey Bay seafood is known around Australia and the world for its freshness and flavour. Hervey Bay scallops, in particular, are prized by seafood connoisseurs world-wide for their superior appearance, texture and taste.

Festival-goers can savour the region's signature shellfish and other tasty treats such as blue salmon bruschetta, Mary River barramundi burgers, steamed king prawn buns, Verdelho and scallop pie, grilled fish wraps, seared cuttlefish with Greek salad, delicious desserts and so much more from the wide range of stalls spread across the festival venue, Fishermen's Park.

Hosted by respected Queensland chef Andrew Mirosch, the sit-down Tastes of the Bay long lunch event is a mouth-watering five-course showcase of local wild caught seafood matched with award-winning Sirromet wines.

Other leading South East Queensland chefs including Citi Chef of the Year Josue Lopez and Javier Codina from Moda Restaurant Brisbane will share their culinary expertise while forums on everything from filleting to prawn peeling and scallop shucking will satisfy the keenest fishos.

Councillor for Events, Sport, Recreation and Open Spaces, Darren Everard, said the Hervey Bay Seafood Festival will be a wonderful celebration of the region's famous seafood hosted by the men and women who catch it.

“Excitement is building for what promises to be another sensational seafood festival and the only one of its kind in Australia managed by the local fishing industry,'' Cr Everard said.

“As well as showcasing our renowned fresh, wild-caught seafood, the festival also promotes responsible and sustainable fishing practices so our precious ocean resources can be enjoyed by generations to come,'' he said.

The Hervey Bay Seafood Festival is on August 9 from 10am to 4pm at Fishermen's Park, Urangan Boat Harbour, Hervey Bay. Admission is $5 for adults and free for under 18s.


Getting there: The Fraser Coast is just three hours' drive north of Brisbane along the Bruce Highway. Both QantasLink (Brisbane) and Virgin Australia (Sydney) offer direct flights to Hervey Bay on a daily basis. Queensland Rail also offers travel to the Fraser Coast.

Staying there: A wide variety of accommodation choices appealing to all tastes and budgets is available at

For festival information, head to

Vanuatu Celebrates 35 Years of Independence

The South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) conveys its congratulations to the government and people of Vanuatu on the 35th anniversary of the island nation's independence.

SPTO Chief Executive Ilisoni Vuidreketi stated: “We convey our hearty congratulations to the people of Vanuatu for 35 successful years as a nation. 2015 has been a particularly trying year for Vanuatu in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam; however the resilience shown by the ni-Vanuatuans is testament to the core of nationhood and pride of the people of Vanuatu and is a truly admirable trait.”

“We wish you all the best in your celebrations and we look forward to continuing to work with our Vanuatu tourism counter parts to develop and market Pacific tourism to the world. The steady growth of 1.8 percent over the last five years in visitor arrivals ensures exciting work ahead for SPTO and the Vanuatu Tourism Office”, Mr. Vuidreketi added.

Mr. Vuidreketi also expressed his sorrow at the passing of the former Vanuatu Prime Minister, Edward Natapei.

“Vanuatu has lost a committed and great leader and we offer our sincere condolences to Mr. Natapei's family, the people and government of Vanuatu”, Mr. Vuidreketi added.

Your Margaret River Region Tops Delicious Produce Awards List

Produce Awards at Bennelong
The Margaret River Region in Western Australia has been lauded as Australia's top food and wine destination, taking out the 'Outstanding Region in Australia' category in the 2015 delicious. Produce Awards.

Your Margaret River Region Chief Executive Officer Pip Close was delighted to accept the accolade on behalf of the region in front of a packed house at the awards evening, which was held at the prestigious Bennelong Restaurant at the Sydney Opera House on Monday night.

Although known predominantly for its world-class wine, the Margaret River Region is fast growing a reputation as one of Australia's hottest foodie destinations, with a focus on fresh, local produce and a down to earth, 'farm-to-fork' mentality which is widely embraced by local chefs and producers.

Now in their tenth year, the delicious. Produce Awards highlight independent producers from over 3,000 entries, thanks to the dedication of readers who nominate their local heroes, and the insight of its panel of renowned national chef judges including Maggie Beer, Matt Moran and Guillaume Brahimi.

The Outstanding Region in Australia is awarded each year to a destination that offers an outstanding and holistic Australian food and wine experience, with something on offer for everyone, whatever their budget.

According to the delicious. team, the judges felt that the Margaret River Region had worked successfully to combine, showcase and make accessible authentic experiences that appealed to a wide group of people.

The delicious. team affirmed that "with an amazing Farmers' Market, award-winning produce, food and wine experiences from the casual through to fine-dining, world-class accommodation and an internationally renowned annual food festival, the Margaret River Region was a deserving winner this year."

Ms Close was thrilled that the region's exceptional food and wine offering had been formally acknowledged by the delicious. Produce Awards.

“We are ecstatic to be named as Australia's most Outstanding Region – delicious. is an extremely well respected foodie publication. The Margaret River Region really is home to some of this country's most outstanding food and wine experiences so it's wonderful to see the region officially celebrated in this way,” said Ms Close.

“With tickets for the Margaret River Gourmet Escape going on sale today, this announcement is extremely timely. Gourmet Escape is attracting phenomenal international attention; Marco Pierre White is coming for the first time this year, as apparently he has heard great things about the event from other celebrity chefs and is curious to see what our region has to offer,” she said.

Award-winning food journalist, restaurant critic and television personality Matt Preston, who is also a senior editor for delicious. and Taste magazine, endorsed the Margaret River Region's star status.

“It's a great culinary region that has that elusive combination of great local produce, great cooks, great restaurants and cafes, and great wines. Few pull off this quadrella with such stellar aplomb as Margaret River,” said Mr Preston.

Ms Close affirmed the region's diversity of tourism offerings was its point of difference to other wine regions in Australia.

“The most exciting thing about Your Margaret River Region, and what has been central to our recent rebrand, is the fact that the region not only has exceptional food and wine experiences but also a huge range of other experiences for visitors – world class surf, spectacular limestone caves, mountain biking, hiking trails, whale watching - the list goes on," said Ms Close.

Pip Close
Ms Close congratulated Margaret River's Burnside Organic Farm who were medallists in the 'From the Earth - Primary' category, as well as a number of other local producers from the region who were finalists in the awards: Greenman Produce for both its pickled garlic and its honey, Leeuwin Grass Fed Beef, and the Farmhouse Margaret River for its Arkady lamb.

For the full list of winners head to

For more information on Your Margaret River Region, visit

Have Kids, Will Travel – to South America

Take the kids to deepest, darkest Peru, birthplace of the famed Paddington Bear, and they'll leave knowing there's more to this region than duffel coats and marmalade sandwiches.

Zip-lining through rainforests, climbing ancient Mayan pyramids and playing on pristine beaches: for the young at heart, there's a lot to love about South America.

Often disregarded as too far or too exotic, more and more families are choosing to travel to Central and South America according to Matt McMillan, director and co-owner at Eclipse Travel.

He said the combination of increased air access, comparative safety and an abundance of 'real' adventure and educational culture makes South America a truly viable option for family holidays.

Air New Zealand flies to Buenos Aires three times a week from Auckland, Chile's LAN Airlines flies once a week from Sydney to Santiago (via Auckland) and Qantas increased its direct flights between Sydney and Santiago from three to four in February this year. Flights to South America also take the same amount of time as flights to the US, around 17 hours, something often overlooked when it comes to thinking about the overseas family holiday.

With trips to Central America, flights will typically go via the US, which means families can add in a stop at Disneyland or Hawaii, on their way to discovering the rainforests of Costa Rica or exploring the Mayan ruins and beaches of Mexico.

Eclipse Travel offers a range of family-friendly trips to Central and South America from the 8-day Peru Family Adventure and the 13-day Mayan Empire trip to the 18-day Incas, Amazon and Galapagos Adventure.

Eclipse Travel currently has a 'kids go free' special with Australis expedition cruises to Patagonia in December. Three and four-night departures are available on round-trip and one-way voyages departing from and arriving into Punta Arenas and Ushuaia where children aged 17 and under can cruise for free with one adult. The deal is for a maximum of two children per booking and available until October 31st for travel in December. A three-night Wild Patagonia round-trip cruise from Punta Arenas starts from $1,604 (USD1,189) per person.

The Peru Family Adventure, popular with spectacled bear-seekers is priced from $2,680 per person and includes chocolate making, canoeing and hiking the Royal Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Additional activities include cycling along the River Urubamba to Pisac market, a visit to the old Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman above Cusco and Ccochahuasi animal sanctuary, where visitors can see first-hand the size of a Condor's wingspan as it swoops, or maybe even a relative of Paddington Bear.

The 13-day Mayan Adventure is priced from $3,562 per person and travels from colonial Antigua in Guatemala to the pristine beaches of the Mexican Riviera. Families will be able to enjoy the allure of the Mayan ruins of Palenque, Chichen Itza and Tikal and savour the delights of colonial cities and busy markets. Along the way families can spend a night in the jungle, snorkel in cenotes, underwater sinkholes, or just enjoy the excellent beaches of Tulum.

Meanwhile the popular 18-day Incas, Amazon and Galapagos Adventure costs from $8,854 per person and combines the cultural highlights of Peru with the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon rainforest. The trip begins in Lima before flying to the ancient Incan capital of Cusco where families can explore the city including the ruins of Sacsayhuamán and the Sacred Valley and witness the sun rise over magical Machu Picchu. The trip then continues to Quito with its many cultural sights before heading to an exceptional Amazon lodge and completing the trip with a small ship cruise taking in the spectacular wildlife and landscape of the Galapagos.

McMillan said: “Central and South America offer an abundance of culture and history, with vast temples, sacrificial sites and ancient ruins all waiting to be discovered by explorers young and old. The destination is also rich in natural beauty, offering stunning beaches, volcanoes and lakes, that would delight any family looking for their own outdoor adventure.''

McMillan said getting around wasn't a problem with many families opting to take private trips with English speaking drivers and guides, or hiring a car and self-driving in areas like Patagonia, the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico) and Costa Rica.

In the Galapagos Islands, he said some cruise operators even focus on specific departures being family-friendly allowing kids to make their own friends along the way.

Child restrictions vary according to the specific trip and operator, according to McMillan with Galapagos Island cruising generally recommended for children above the age of five, and Antarctica expedition cruising recommended above the age of 10.

All prices as per person, land only and include accommodation, some meals, and some internal flights. For more information go to or call 1300 575 752.

Australian tourism reaches record heights

Australian tourism has reached stellar heights with a record $32.5 billion in international spend, a growth of 10% year on year, positioning tourism as one of Australia’s leading exports.

ATEC Managing Director, Peter Shelley, today congratulated Australia’s tourism industry on this outstanding achievement, a testament to the hard work of the export tourism sector in building an attractive product for the international marketplace.

“Across the board, from the USA to India, Malaysia and China, we are seeing double digit success in a wide number of markets, all of which are showing signs of further upward growth,” Mr Shelley said.

“It’s clear Australia’s tourism sector is continuing to grow, competing strongly and engaging across a broad range of new and traditional markets, including driving a 14% growth in spend from the US year on year.

The International Visitor Survey, released today, shows Chinese visitor spend grew by 25% in the past 12 months to reach $6.4 billion, almost half of which was spent during the March quarter. This is a direct impact of the spike in visitors during Lunar New Year celebrations.

“The industry has performed well over the past five years, building the eighth largest international tourism industry by spend in the world, and the current drop in exchange rates helps to bolster this success even further.

“Few Australian industries have enjoyed this level of growth. Only yesterday it was reported that the chief economist of Barclays Bank believes tourism can overtake iron ore as Australia’s No.1 export earner and we are seeing proof of this claim today.”

Mr Shelley said the figures showed the importance of hosting international events with March quarter figures highlighting the increase in visitors during the Asian Cup and the Cricket World Cup.

“Australia is fast becoming a popular destination for Chinese visitors during the Lunar New Year period which is evidenced by the remarkable 32% year on year growth in spend for this market in the March quarter.

China Eastern Airlines Announces Daily Service from Toronto to Shanghai

China Eastern
China Eastern Passengers traveling from Canada to China will now have more options, thanks to China Eastern Airlines’ expansion of their non-stop service from Toronto to Shanghai to a daily route.

The YYZ to PVG daily flights began earlier this month and are expected to connect almost 200,000 travelers between the two destinations this year alone. 

The expanded flights also complement nicely with China’s 72-hour visa-free transit policy (wherein passengers from 51 countries, including Canada and the U.S., can enter 15 participating cities in China without a visa for up to 72 hours) and the new 10-year multiple-entry visas that Canadian citizens can now obtain for travel to China. 

The YYZ-PVG daily flights will be operated on Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Australia witnesses a record growth in Chinese travel expenditure

Visitors to Australia spent a whopping $32.5 billion over the year to March 2015, driven by increased spending from the Chinese, TTF CEO Margy Osmond said today.This expenditure represents a 9.6 per cent increase on the year to March 2015 – the highest annual growth rate on record – according to the latest International Visitor Survey (IVS) released today by Tourism Research Australia.

“This amazing result is underpinned by strong growth in Chinese visitors,” Margy Osmond said.“Chinese visitors were responsible for $6.4 billion of the total spend, or almost 20 per cent of total money spent by international visitors.“What’s more, the total spending by Chinese visitors grew by almost a quarter over the past year, which is also the highest growth rate on record.

“Sometime this year we hope to see Chinese visitors push through the one million visitor barrier.“This expenditure helps create and sustain jobs across Australia, in cities and in regional areas, and across a range of businesses including hotels, restaurants, bars and visitor attractions.“To capitalise on this growth in Chinese visitors we must ensure Australia remains welcoming and competitive internationally as a must-visit destination.

Macau’s Walking Tour Routes – Take Selfies & Win Prizes

Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) launched a fun activity “Take Selfies to Win Prizes” under the project of “Step Out, Experience Macau’s Communities – Walking Tour Routes”, inviting residents and visitors to join. The fun activity aims to encourage residents and visitors to explore the beauty of different areas of Macau, thus boosting community tourism and smart tourism development.

Until November 30th this year, residents and visitors only need to download the “Step Out, Macau” smart phone application (App), take selfies on two designated shooting spots of any walking tour route, present them to staff of any MGTO Tourist Information counter in Macau and redeem a souvenir. In addition, visitors can also access “Step Out, Macau” App to upload selfies and share their travel experience in Macau, to enter a lucky draw, with prizes including two round-trip air tickets in business class (from winner’s place of residence to any destination), tablets, and other awards. Only visitors are eligible to join the lucky draw.

MGTO launched on 27 September 2013 the first four walking tour routes under the theme “Step Out, Experience Macau’s Communities”, and in February this year, the existing routes were redesigned with a total of eight walking tour routes presented, to encourage visitors to explore different neighborhoods, while also balance visitor flow trends around Macau and foster community tourism development. The eight routes are as follow: Footsteps into the Historic Centre; An Experiment of Creativity; Crossroads of China and Portugal; A Legacy of Arts and Culture; Enchanting Stories of Our Lady of Fatima Parish; The Marriage of East and West in St. Anthony’s Parish; Bygone Days of Taipa Village and Nostalgia in Coloane.

On weekends, MGTO presents different performances at certain sightseeing points along the tour routes, further enhancing livelihood to their specific neighborhoods. Moreover, the Office joins hands with local organizations to present community tourism activities and boost the charm of the communities. With the variety of activities offered, visitors can enjoy a more fascinating stroll along these routes and explore different local quarters for hidden gems and a glimpse of the city’s aroma.

Time Out to Crown 2015’s Culinary Kings and Queens

Gastronomes of Australia clear your calendars; Time Out have announced two hot new venues will host the 2015 Time Out

Food Awards, and tickets to the party are going on sale now.

Greek gastro-legend George Calombaris, and Gazi, his latest dining den with a cheeky twist; will play host to Melbournites on Monday 17 August, in a tasty celebration emceed by comedian slash DJ Andrew McClelland.

Sydneysiders, see you a week later, on Monday 24 August, where the party will be hosted by prime Yorkshire-export/chef Sean Connolly and his sexy new oyster and ale house the The Morrison, emceed by DJ and chef Andrew Levins.

These are most important dates in the culinary year so trim your beard, tame your locks, and grab your frock; it’s almost time to celebrate with the country’s best taste titillators.

On Thursday 16 July (Melbourne) and Thursday 23 July (Sydney) voting for the People’s Choice Award top ten nominees opens, giving everyone a chance to vote for the restaurant that blew them away this year.

The full awards categories and nominees are still to be announced so stay tuned.

"Time Out's Awards pay tribute to the places we love to visit and the chefs who are delighting our palates without costing us the earth,’’ said Freya Herring, Time Out Sydney’s Restaurants & Cafes Editor. “But we also have awards for the extremes – high-end restaurants, cheap eats – plus the city's best cafés too."

"The Time Out Food Awards are about celebrating excellent but also accessible restaurant culture," said Larissa Dubecki,

Time Out Melbourne’s Restaurant Critic. "In Melbourne we are blessed with a huge number of top-class affordable restaurants – places that Time Out's readers love to visit every week, not just on special occasions – and the scene is getting more exciting every year."

The Time Out Food Awards are an industry-recognized celebration of talent, voted on by independent editors and reviewers.

The Awards are an incredibly fun night out and an opportunity for the restaurant industry to rub shoulders with the people who love their food.

Joining the celebration so far are Appletiser Sparkling Apple, Yenda beer and Cargo Crew Apparel.

Early bird and VIP tickets are now on sale for both Sydney and Melbourne.

Keep up to date with news and nominee announcements for Sydney and Melbourne.


Standard Tickets: $60 + BF (after Thursday 23 July: includes food, drinks, good times + a copy of TOFA issue worth $4.95)
Early Bird Tickets: $55 + BF (valid from Thursday 9 – Thursday 23 July)
VIP Tickets: $80 + BF (includes Time Out Melb or Time Out Syd subscription worth $34.95 + bonus bag on the night!)



Twitter: @SydneyTimeOut + @TimeOutMel
Facebook: Time Out Sydney + Time Out Melbourne
Hashtag: #TOFoodAwards

Nine national relic sites recognised

festival at Y La Temple
An additional nine historical, architectural and archaeological relics nationwide have been listed as national relic sites under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s decision.

The sites are located in six provinces around the country - Tuyen Quang, Lai Chau, Thai Nguyen, Phu Yen, Long An and Ben Tre.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognised three sites in Tuyen Quang province: President Ho Chi Minh’s tent in Lung Tro, Trung Truc commune, Yen Son district; Thuong Temple in Trang Da commune, Tuyen Quang city; and Y La Temple in Y La ward, Tuyen Quang city.

Thai Nguyen is home to two national relics, including the place where the General Directorate of Supply - the predecessor of General Department of Logistics - was founded in July 11, 1950, in Thanh Dinh commune, Dinh Hoa district, and the workplace of the General Staff of the Viet Nam People's Army from 1949 to 1954.

Four other relic sites were also recognised: the tomb of Dao Tri temple in Xuan Dai ward, Song Cau town, Phu Yen province; the commemorative site of Lawyer Nguyen Huu Tho in Ben Luc town, Ben Luc district, Long An province; the commemorative site of Colonel Pham Ngoc Thao in Ben Tre city, Ben Be province; and Cau May (Cloud Bridge) in Son Binh commune, Tam Duong district, Lai Chau.


Tickets for the Emirates Australia Open, a world golfing championship to be held in Roseberry, Sydney, and secured by the NSW Government through Destination NSW, went on sale this week. Australia’s US Masters champion and former world No. 1 player, Adam Scott, is returning to compete.

Adam is one of Australia’s all-time great players; the 2013 US Masters Champion, the only victory by an Australian at Augusta National; a multiple winner of top-level tournaments around the world and a former World No. 1.

The event will also feature world golf’s new sensation and last year’s winner Jordan Spieth. The Texan superstar fell just short of winning a third consecutive major in the Open Championship this week finishing just one shot off a playoff at last year’s event.

With the Open returning to The Australian Golf Club for a record 19th time from November 26-29, the American is hoping he can emulate his eight-under-par round of 63 that sent the golfing world into a frenzy.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events and Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres said high-profile players like Jordan Spieth will make the 2015 Australian Open a highlight on the NSW events calendar.

“It is great to see Jordan Spieth returning to Sydney to defend his Australian Open title. The NSW Government is proud to have secured the Australian Open for Sydney, and with a world-class field including players like Jordan it promises to be a fantastic event for the State,” he said.

The Emirates Australian Open is a flagship tournament on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Tickets are on sale now from Ticketek.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Helpmann Awards celebrated in Sydney

Todd Mckenney
The 2015 Helpmann Awards celebrate the very best of the live performing arts industry in Australia. The gala awards evening was held at the Capital Theatre in Sydney on Monday 27 July.

The celebrities started walking along the Red Carpet from 6pm in front of a barrage of photographers and reporters. The ladies wore a dazzling range of gowns, the men, apart from a few adventurous exceptions, wore traditional black suit attire.

The Awards evening commenced art 7.30pm with the cast of Les Miserables singing several numbers form the hit musical which is currently being staged at the Capital Theatre.

More entertainment was interspersed throughout the evening ranging from magic to opera. On stage to entertain were Clare Bowditch and the Paul Kelly Band, Australia Piano Quartet, and Cosentino – The Grand Illusionist. The casts of Once and Victorian Opera’s Sweeney Todd also sang numbers. The musicians that came together to form the Helpmann Orchestra did a wonderful job of playing for such a wide variety of music styles.

Todd Mckenney hosted the evening and performed "I Am What I Am" after a quick sex change onstage with the help of his mum. 

The main purpose of the night was to present awards to the best of the best in the Australian entertainment industry. Awards recognised achievements in various areas such as opera, cabaret, children's presentation, drama, comedy, musicals, dance and festivals. Awards were given to those who appear on stage and those behind the scenes who bring productions to life.

Denise Scott
The awards were presented by famous entertainment people, including Cate Blanchett, Marta Dusseldorp, Danielle Cormack, David Campbell, Denise Scott, Amanda Bishop, Margaret Pomeranz, Graeme Blundell, Marcia Hines, and Darren Carr. The seriousness of the lengthy process of announcing the awards was made more interesting by the humour of the presenters.

The big winner of the night was my favourite musical of all time, Les Miserables, which won 5 Awards. It won the best musical, best male actor, best female supporting actor, best lighting and best sound. I am glad that my two favourite people in Les Miserables won their awards - newcomer Kerrie Ann Greenland and Simon Gleeson, who gracefully ages in each performance.

The most interesting award of the night was for the best actor in a musical. It was a matter of doubles. 
Les Miserables had two of its actors nominated, and Todd McKenney was nominated for two musicals.

Judith Lucy won the Helpmann Award for the best comedy performer. Her style of comedy even shone through in her acceptance speech.

Lead singer of Australian band Midnight Oil, Peter Garrett presented the 2015 JC Williamson Award to the iconic Australian singer Paul Kelly.

Earlier this year I travelled to Melbourne to see Anything Goes. I am glad that it won three awards, including one for Caroline O'Conner for the best female actor in a musical. She wowed the audience with her singing and dancing in her energetic performance on stage.

The strange award of the night was Vivid winning the best music festival, when Vivid is largely a light festival, and there are so many more festivals that solely feature music.

As a newcomer to the Helpmann Awards there a few things I have not grasped yet. Why not an award to the circus industry? Or are touring circus's now considered old hat? What about recognition to the many youth music festivals held around Australia attended by thousands of screaming fans? What about recognition to the many community theatre groups putting on shows in the city suburbs and country towns around Australia? Why do some musicals not even get a mention during the evening, such as The Rocky Horror Show and Strictly Ballroom? 

The Evening concluded with the Helpmann Awards After Party in the Capital Theatre. Even though this was in the two level newish lobby at the theatre, its was not large enough to comfortably hold the large number of people in attendance. On the bright side, it was an excellent way of bumping into a celebrity.

Helpmann Awards Red Carpet
It is now a matter of looking forward to the next Helpmann Awards evening. It will be interesting to see what the nominations will be, with several new shows appearing in the next 12 months, such as Matilda. May the performing arts industry continue to grow in all states and territories in Australia and keep on entertaining people like it always has.

The annual whale migration: here's where to spot them in Sydney this winter

Each year from May to November the coast of New South Wales (NSW) is home to a beautiful phenomenon, the annual whale migration, where an estimated 20,000 whales will travel thousands of kilometres north along the NSW coast for warmer waters.

According to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, over 50% of the world’s cetaceans are found in Australian waters. In Sydney, engravings of whales found around the Harbour Foreshore are estimated to be over 1,000 years old.

From aptly named Whale Beach to Bondi, there’s no need to leave the city to spot these gentle giants – with lookouts, foreshores and national parks in Sydney and surrounds offering the perfect vantage points for whale watching in winter.

Destination NSW CEO, Sandra Chipchase said: “Nothing beats the sight of seeing a whale frolicking in the ocean, and with over 2000kms of coastline in NSW there are numerous vantage points to witness these beautiful mammals without even having to leave the city. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this unique time of the year in Sydney and go whale watching!”

Destination NSW offers these ten suggestions for whale watching in Sydney this winter:
  1. Hop aboard a whale watching tour: Sydney’s whale-watching cruise operators have years of experience spotting whales in local waters. There are two, three and four-hour tours on state of the art vessels departing from Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, San Souci and Manly for all ages aboard a variety of different-sized boats
  2. Barrenjoey Lighthouse: Barrenjoey Lighthouse stands high up on Barrenjoey Head in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park at Palm Beach on the Northern Beaches. Built in 1881, this heritage lighthouse is a beloved Sydney attraction and the perfect spot to look out for migrating whales. It’s a steep walk to the top but you’ll be rewarded with amazing ocean and Pittwater panoramas
  3. North Head Lookout: The northern headland of Sydney Harbour’s magnificent entrance, North Head, has towering heath-covered clifftops, ocean views and a spectacular panorama of the harbour and city skyline. The 1km Fairfax Walking Track is a paved path from the car park to the lookout and provides great vantage points for whale watching
  4. Georges Heights Lookout: Georges Heights, in Headland Park, Mosman offers some of the most stunning vantage points for whale watching with uninterrupted views across the harbour. The showpiece of Headland Park, Georges Heights Lookout, is the perfect place to enjoy the panorama from an elegant sandstone platform
  5. Freshwater North Headland: In this beautiful park overlooking Freshwater Beach on the Northern Beaches, there’s a circular stone viewing area where you can sit and soak up the stunning seascape as you watch for whales. There’s a car park right on the headland, too, so on particularly chilly days, you can whale watch from inside your vehicle. Steps lead down to Freshwater ocean pool providing access to a lovely boardwalk path along the rocks and round to Curl Curl, with views out to sea and benches for viewing 
  6. See whales in style from Jonah’s: Sydney’s only Relais & Chateau hotel, Jonah’s, is perched high on the cliff overlooking Whale Beach. Gaze out from the restaurant, gardens and rooms which have unobstructed ocean views; sip on a glass of wine (there are 1600 on the hotel’s wine list) or enjoy something tasty from the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant as you watch whales passing close to shore. The Jonah’s restaurant team are on constant whale alert, letting guests know as soon as they spot one, with binoculars at the ready
  7. Cape Solander: The viewing platform at Cape Solander in Botany Bay National Park is known as one of the best whale-watching locations in Sydney. The site is also part of a long-running, whale-counting volunteer program from June to July each year when volunteers count every whale that they see pass by for the National Park and Wildlife Service 
  8. Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk: It’s no surprise this coastal walk, winding along 6km of beautiful Eastern Suburbs ocean coastline, is one of Sydney’s most-loved attractions. As you follow the trail along cliffs and around bays through Marks Park, Mackenzies Point Beach, Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee, you’ll come across numerous whale-watching vantage points; fellow walkers are quick to alert others if they spot a whale. It’s a great way to combine walking with whale-spotting
  9. South Head Heritage Trail: Located next to beautiful Camp Cove Beach in Watsons Bay, this short loop track meanders along the coastline and clifftops, with the best whale-viewing spot at Gap Bluff. Along the way, you’ll see historic gun emplacements, native bushland, a heritage signal station, Macquarie Lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's cottages. Afterwards, relax on the top deck at Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel. Last season, a frolicking mother and calf were sighted from this chilled-out location.
  10. Royal National Park: The world's second oldest national park is within an hour’s drive of the CBD. Sydneysiders regard the 16,000ha Royal National Park as their big beautiful backyard, a place to roam the stunning coastline, camp, be close to nature – and see whales swim by. The 30k Coast Walk, skirting the park's eastern edge along towering sandstone cliffs, delivers exceptional coastal scenery and frequent glimpses of the travelling whales.
Share your whale watching tip or photo with Destination NSW @seesydney and #ilovesydney 

For more information go to

Park Regis North Quay EKKA Special

Park Regis North Quay
Park Regis North Quay in Brisbane has launched a new EKKA show travel deal with three different options to choose from.

SAVE up to 30 per cent and enjoy Brisbane's largest cultural festival, the EKKA Show, when you stay in a One Bedroom City View Apartment at Park Regis North Quay. Enjoy breakfast each day, complimentary WI-FI and bottled water with prices starting at $159 per night, $645 for five nights or $900 for seven nights.

Plus, choose one bonus offer when you stay for 5 nights or longer:
Complimentary upgrade to Riverview Apartment
Discounted car parking
One Dinner for two in On Quay Restaurant
Bowl of Whole Fruit and Bottle of Wine
Three course set dinner

Quote 'EKKA' when booking to secure this hot deal. Book: (07) 3013 7200

Term and Conditions apply. Valid from 08/08/2015 - 18/08/2015, payment at time of booking, pricing is for up to two people, surcharge for additional person, complimentary Wi-Fi download limit of 250 MB per day.

Sydney Boat Show Opens Today

Sydney International Boat Show opens today

Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island
Enter via James Craig Road, Rozelle,
and Cockle Bay Marina in Darling Harbour

Time: 10.00 am

The 48th Sydney International Boat Show will open today at the Sydney Exhibition Centre @ Glebe Island and Cockle Bay Marina in Darling Harbour.
On display will be almost 1,000 boats in value from $1,000 to $7 Million.

The Show will occupy two locations with a free ferry service between the two.

This year’s show will also include:

• The Penguin Semi-Submersible Boat
• Aggressor – Powered by a Rolls Merlin V12 World War II plane engine
• Master Classes on Cooking, Fishing, Sailing and Better Boating
• Cricketing Legend Lenny Pascoe

Celebrate New Year's Eve in Style on the Ultimate 'Flight-Seeing' Trip to Antarctica

Take off on the ultimate New Year's Eve adventure this year aboard Antarctica Flights' specially chartered Qantas 747 to one of the world's most difficult to reach destinations.

Antarctica Flights has announced bookings are now open for its unique all inclusive trip, which gives guests the opportunity to take in the vast expanse and breathtaking beauty of this frozen wilderness in just one day.

Only accessible to Australians, this special day flight over the pristine white landscape of the Earth's southernmost continent takes in the icebergs, coastal cliffs, glaciers and spectacular mountain ranges for which Antarctica is renowned.

Quality celebratory drinks plus dinner and a live on board jazz band add to the once in a lifetime excitement of the New Years Eve “Midnight Sun” flight, while expert Antarctic expeditioners are also on board to talk about the polar environment and life on the ground.

For 21 years, Antarctica Flights has taken more than 45,000 travellers on 125 flights across the Antarctic and, according to Phil Asker, Founder and Director of Antarctica Flights, the New Years Eve flight continues to attract the most interest:

“People are always looking for new and exciting ways to celebrate the New Year. Here in Australia, our close proximity means that we can actually fly to Antarctica and back in just one day. It's a once-in a lifetime experience. And what a phenomenal experience it is. Guests tell us that there is something quite special about being one of the first people in the world to welcome the New Year in daylight.

“Unlike cruises, there are no long sailing times, the cost is not prohibitive and because you are viewing Antarctica by air you get to experience its full majesty and gain an appreciation for its size. It's a great feeling to know that through our Antarctica Flights we enable more people to fulfil what is often a lifelong dream, to see this stunning continent in all its glory.”

Antarctica Flights' New Year's Eve itinerary takes approximately four hours to reach the South Magnetic Pole, descending over spectacular sea ice and icebergs and crossing the Antarctic coast near the French research base at Dumont d'Urville.

From there the aircraft flies over magnificent glaciers and ice fields before continuing to Cape Hudson and Cape Washington and the astounding Trans Antarctic Range.

Up to 19 different routes are available to take advantage of the clearest weather conditions of the day, ensuring the best possible views of the Antarctic landscape.

The 2015/16 Antarctica Flight program comprises three departures:
  • 31 December 2015 - Melbourne;
  • 7 February 2016 - Sydney; and
  • 14 February 2016 - Melbourne

There is also a flight on sale for Australia Day 2017 from Perth.
Prices begin at $1,199 for Economy Class Centre and range to $7,999 for Ice Class.

See for further information or call Antarctica Flights on 1300 633 449.

6 best places to shop till you drop at America’s best shopping destination

Philadelphia ranks the highest in America as a shopping destination. Passé are the days when it was known as a city of historic site and plentiful of museums. For a fashionable jaunt, Philadelphia has so much to offer from small boutique-seekers and antique aficionados, to outlet lovers and mall-goers. From the biggest name brands to independent boutiques, not only is shopping in Philadelphia world-class, but clothing and shoe purchases are tax-free! Take this statement literally because in Philadelphia every shopper benefits from tax-free apparel and shoes.

Philadelphia Premium Outlets

Shop in Philadelphia Premium Outlets and enjoy savings of 25% to 65% at 150 incredible designer and name-brand outlet stores. You’ll get everything you want, be it Designer Fashions and Sportswear, Children’s wear , Shoes, fine leather and luggage , accessories & Jewelry, house wares & home Furnishings, Gifts & specialty items, food, etc. Philadelphia Premium Outlets is home to top brands like : 2b bebe, Adidas, Aerie, Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor Factory Store, Banana Republic Factory Store, , PacSun, Perry Ellis, Polo Ralph Lauren Factory, Clarks Bostonian, Cole Haan, Converse, Crocs, Dr. Scholl’s Shoes, Famous Footwear Outlet, Finish Line, G.H. Bass & Co., Johnston & Murphy, Kenneth Cole, Merrell, Naturalizer, Nike Factory Store, Nine West Outlet, Puma, Reebok, Robert Wayne Footwear, SAS Factory Shoe Store, Skechers, Steve Madden, Timberland, Coach, Coach Men’s, Wilsons Leather, Beads & More, Sunglass Hut, Totes/Sunglass World, Ultra Diamonds, Vera Bradley, Toys”R”Us Outlet, The Uniform Outlet, Verizon Wireless Premium Retailer, Vitamin World, Yankee Candle and many more.

King of Prussia Mall

King of Prussia Mall is the premier shopping destination of the East Coast, featuring seven world-class department stores and more than 400 shops, boutiques and restaurants. King of Prussia boasts more retail space than anywhere else in America and features stores that cannot be found elsewhere in the region. The Court and the Plaza at King of Prussia combine to make the largest mall on the East Coast. A veritable shopper’s paradise, the mall features eight department stores (including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s), more than 40 eateries (including Morton’s and The Cheesecake Factory) and nearly 400 specialty shops (including Burberry, Apple, Louis Vuitton and Sephora). You’ll find everything you need (and probably a few things you don’t) at this one-stop shopping extravaganza.

Jeweler’s Row – America’s oldest Diamond District

Jewelers’ Row is the oldest and second largest diamond district in America. Located on Sansom Street, between Seventh and Eighth streets, and on Eighth Street between Chestnut and Walnut streets. It features the longest continuously operating jewelry shop, which dates back to 1851, and a total of more than 300 retailers, wholesalers, and craftsmen. Many of the businesses on Jewelers’ Row have been owned by the same families for five generations.

South Street Antiques Market

The South Street Antiques Market is one of the area’s best kept secrets. Discreetly housed inside a historic building that was once used as a synagogue, the Antiques Market comprises of several unique vendors peddling everything from hand-picked vintage clothing and classic eyewear to rare toys and books. Most stores on South Street are independently owned and stay open long after the city’s other retail establishments have closed for the night, adding a decidedly nocturnal flair to ‘the hippest street in town.’ Find the very best in the eclectic, urban, and hip here.


Located in the historic Wanamaker Building on Market Street, Macy’s Center City is a premiere fashion destination within an icon of Philadelphia’s rich retail history. From the Wanamaker Organ to year-round events, to an in-house Visitors Center and personal shopping service, Macy’s has become a downtown destination celebrating old and new traditions for Philadelphians and visitors alike.

University Square

Experience over 80 places to shop, dine and meet in the heart of University City. The hub of University Square is a public green space and brick plaza, located at 36th and Walnut Streets, and hosts a variety of events throughout the year and is the perfect spot for dining al fresco.

Hilton Brisbane Reveals Six Sins of Winter

Tara Hoyos-Martinez
Indulgence, Idleness, Desire, Pride, Greed and Envy
Sinning has never been so easy at Hilton Brisbane this winter. From gastronomical delights that will leave you wanting more to luxurious suites that will have you never wanting to leave, Hilton Brisbane's Six Sins of Winter will make even best intensions succumb to pure indulgence.

In a video series starring Miss Universe Great Britain 2010, Tara Hoyos-Martinez, the international beauty unveils Hilton Brisbane's Six Sins of Winter. Guests are invited to join her as she experiences Hilton Brisbane's beautifully appointed suites, the delights of Vintaged Bar + Grill and the newly renovated rooftop pool featuring Brisbane's ever-present sunshine – all on the doorstep of Queen Street Mall, Brisbane's iconic shopping precinct.

The teaser winter campaign will slowly unveil a new sin each week, building a feeling of ultimate indulgence shared by our protagonist and viewers as it showcases the emotional rewards offered for a truly relaxing and indulging staycation at Brisbane's most iconic hotel.

The series will run from mid July until August and will culminate in a grand prize of one lucky winner receiving a selection of Winter Sins, which includes an ultimate winter weekend in the heart of Brisbane.

Hilton Brisbane is offering guests the chance to experiences these six sins with room rates from just A$164. Book now at


Governors Island
Governors Island, located less than half a mile from Manhattan and Brooklyn, offers the closest views on land to the face of the Statue of Liberty and was previously a military base for the US Army and US Coast Guard for over two centuries. It has since been transformed into a respite from urban life with its many artistic, cultural, educational and recreational offerings and is open to the public through September 27, 2015 (it opened for the summer session on May 23).

“We encourage everyone to explore Governors Island this summer. With festive dance parties, concerts, bike paths and hammocks, this bucolic island, just a short ferry ride away from Manhattan or Brooklyn, has something for everyone,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company. “Also known as New York City’s ‘playground for the arts,’ Governors Island’s transformation from a military base to a picnic place makes for a unique addition to any traveler’s itinerary.”

Experience Governors Island Like a Local

  • Getting There: Governors Island is easily accessible by ferry from the Battery Maritime Building in Manhattan daily; and the Brooklyn Bridge Park and East River Ferry terminals in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens on Saturdays and Sundays. For the ferry schedules and pricing, visit and Island Ambassadors are present on weekends to greet and acquaint visitors with the island.
  • History: Visitors can learn about Governors Island’s rich history at two forts dating from the early 1800’s, Castle Williams and Fort Jay. Weekend tours are offered every hour from 11:30am–3:30pm. Visitors can also stroll past historic homes and offices alongColonels Row. An interactive exhibit, open daily, in Soissons Landing highlights the island’s history and future development plans.
  • Arts and culture: Throughout the summer the island hosts free dance and music festivities, live performances and dynamic public art displays. Art buffs also have the opportunity to visit an annual exhibition and “Open Studios” events at the LMCC Arts Center. 
  • Recreation: Governors Island boasts miles of car-free bike paths. On Colonels Row, visitors can rent bicycles and, on Mondays–Fridays between 10am–12pm, visitors can enjoy an hour of free bicycle rental. Hammocks and rocking chairs await those looking for ultimate relaxation, available in Hammock Grove, Nolan Park and the Parade Ground. Perfect for playtime, the Parade Grounddelights little ones with its treehouse and mini golf, in addition to a play area in Hammock Grove.
  • Education: For those interested in cultivating a green thumb, the island’s 8,000 square foot Urban Farm hosts weekend educational sessions from 12–4pm. Topics include composting, urban farming and green infrastructure.
  • Food: Summer sweets, treats and ethnic delights are available all week at the Liggett Terrace food court. Specialty food trucks can be found on Saturdays and Sundays on King Avenue, offering a tasteful mélange of American, Caribbean, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Middle Eastern and Vietnamese fare. 

A short documentary is available online that features locals who highlight and recommend the must-see attractions of Governors Island. To view the documentary and island highlights visit

Governors Island
Visitors looking to experience more of Governors Island for longer than a day can stay in Lower Manhattan or near Brooklyn Bridge Park, which makes for a short connection to the Governors Island ferry terminals. With a diversity of hotel rooms to choose from at every budget and style, travellers can stay longer and explore more of New York City’s neighbourhoods. For the best available rates, visit and reserve through NYC & Company’s exclusive hotel booking partner,

NYCGO Insider Guides: Get to know our neighbourhoods

New York City is made up of five distinct boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Formerly Neighbourhood x Neighbourhood, NYCGO Insider Guides, which debuted in March, spotlight a new neighbourhood each month. The video documentary series and editorial content takes New Yorkers and visitors behind the scenes to introduce them to the character and characters that define some of New York City’s most fascinating neighbourhoods.

Northern Territory commercial aims to attract Australian tourists

A unique new television commercial that uses a surprise twist to encourage Australians to book a holiday to the Northern Territory before it’s too late will start running across the country from this weekend.

Chief Minister and Tourism Minister Adam Giles said the It’s About Time … Do the NT campaign aims to increase holiday bookings to the Northern Territory by using the theme of life and time running out.

“The commercial breaks the mould of normal tourism ads, which traditionally feature vast landscapes, sweeping imagery and operatic soundtracks,” he said.

“Instead, the It’s About Time commercial features ordinary people in their everyday lives, beginning with characters reflecting about older relatives and loved ones who have ‘gone to a better place’.

“The humorous twist in the ad is that the better place is revealed to be the Northern Territory with the closing tagline of ‘Go now, regret never’ emphasising to viewers the need to book a holiday to the NT before it’s too late.

“The Northern Territory is an iconic destination that is on many Australians’ bucket list and this commercial features the larrikin spirit and humour the Territory is known for to help us stand out from the crowd.”

Mr Giles said domestic holiday visitors were extremely important to the Territory, injecting about $553 million into our economy annually, and the It’s About Time…Do the NT campaign was aimed at attracting even more visitors here.

“Tourism NT is investing $1.4 million on an extensive six week media blitz that will include free-to-air TV, pay TV, cinemas, outdoor advertising, YouTube, social media and co-operative campaigns with retail and airline partners,” he said.

“This is one of the biggest campaigns in years and will run from Sunday in the Northern Territory’s key markets of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, regional New South Wales and Victoria.”

The campaign features original music from Alice Springs musician Dave Crowe and includes a separate television commercial promoting both the Top End and Red Centre as well as digital and print ads promoting regional areas of the NT like Darwin, Kakadu, Katherine, Alice Springs and Uluru.

Mr Giles said the Country Liberals Government had increased Tourism NT’s overall budget for 2015-16 to $50.4 million to help market the Northern Territory and its attractions.

“A thriving tourism industry will help to develop our regions, boost local businesses, create more jobs and grow the Territory economy,” he said.

“It’s all part of the Country Liberals Government’s plan to drive the development of North Australia and build a $2.2 billion visitor economy by 2020.”

Ba Na Hills splendid with European festival

A European festival themed “The Colour of Summer” is taking place in Ba Na Hills tourist area in central Da Nang City.

During the event, there is a flower festival at Le Jardin d’Amour garden introducing giant flower decorations on bicycles and horse carriages and fresh flower collections.

Besides, a wine festival at the Debay Wine Cellar area is expected to attract thousands of visitors.

The highlight of the event, running to August 31, is a street music festival with the participation of French artists at Du Dôme square in the French Village.


The Three Sisters walking track
The Three Sisters walking track in the Blue Mountains has re-opened following a $1.5 million upgrade. The track’s pathways have been resurfaced and landscaping and signage upgraded. The 12-month project also included an upgrade of Spooner’s, Oreades and Lady Game Lookouts.

Last year the Three Sisters became the 98th Aboriginal Place declared in NSW. The declaration recognised the special cultural, social and spiritual significance of the site to the Aboriginal community.

The walking track links Echo Point Lookout to Lady Game Lookout, both of which overlook the Three Sisters.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The George welcomes two luxury properties to growing portfolio

The George
Christchurch’s luxury boutique hotel, The George is adding two high-end properties under its growing Brook Serene Hotel Management portfolio.

Hotel Montreal, Christchurch’s only other Qualmark five-star property opened in 2014, will become part of the portfolio from July 31. It will be called Hotel Montreal by The George.

In May it took on ownership and management of The Regent of Rotorua, an established boutique property in central Rotorua.

Family-owned company TJK NZ and its management company, Brook Serene have owned and managed The George since 1988, establishing a 28-year reputation for excellent service and style. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, The George has won numerous awards, including several years as New Zealand’s #1 City Hotel in Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards and New Zealand’s Leading Boutique Hotel in the World Travel Awards.

The George’s General Manager, Bruce Garrett who has been in the role for 10 years, will become Managing Director of the hotel collection.

Bruce Garrett says the synergies between the hotels and the resources are a perfect fit for The George. “Everything from our style and service, food and beverage to our staff training and sales and marketing is being aligned under our banner,” he says.

Developing and retaining good staff has been a large part of the motivation for the company to expand. “This the perfect way to provide exciting career opportunities for our talented staff,” he says.

In Christchurch the hotel has 100 staff based at The George and is taking on the 20 staff based at Hotel Montreal, with 20 staff based at The Regent of Rotorua. They will all benefit from the increased opportunities available within the expanded group, Mr Garrett says.

Nathan Maynard, The George’s long-standing Operations Manager, has recently moved to The Regent of Rotorua as Hotel Manager. The George has also expanded its reservations and accounts office in Christchurch to take the hotels under one team.

Bruce Garrett says the three-hotel portfolio gives greater opportunity to expand the hotels’ international and group client base.

“With two properties in Christchurch we can cater for more small high-end leisure groups, plus high-profile sporting, entertainment and diplomatic groups.”

The George’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Jan Stuart will now represent all three properties. She is heading to Luxperience in Sydney in September, while Bruce Garrett will be representing the group on overseas trips to the United States and the United Kingdom later this year.

Hotel Montreal is located just a minute’s walk from The George making it easily accessible for guests wanting to use facilities at either property. Guests will have three restaurants to choose from - fine dining, bistro and tapas style - while facilities such as Hotel Montreal’s well-equipped gymnasium and The George’s mountain bikes will be available for complimentary use by all guests.

7% Increase for First Quarter Visitor Arrivals to Pacific in 2015

The Pacific region has recorded a seven (7) percent increase in the number of visitor arrivals according to the first quarter tourism review for 2015.

This was demonstrated in a review produced by the European Union supported "Pacific Regional Tourism Capacity Building Programme" (PRTCBP) implemented by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), providing statistics and data from 12 Pacific Island Countries (PICs).

380,870 tourists visited the region in the first quarter of 2015, compared to 355, 601visitors in the same period in 2014 with Fiji (143, 447), Palau (48, 647) and Papua New Guinea (42, 678) recording the highest visitor arrivals for this quarter.

According to the review, overall the PICs recorded positive growths although the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands and Vanuatu experienced a drop in their visitor arrivals. The highest growth during this period was recorded by Palau (72.7%).

SPTO Chief Executive Ilisoni Vuidreketi said the review provides accurate data for planning which is imperative for growth and development of the tourism sector.

“This review provides a fair analysis of the individual PICs tourist arrivals and is a good gauge of future trends in our region,” he added.

“The gradual increase of visitor arrivals in Palau is commendable and is attributed to direct flights from mainland China. Overall, the visitor arrivals into the South Pacific remained on a steady growth particularly from the major source markets of Australia and New Zealand and this is very encouraging,”Mr. Vuidreketi continued.

According to the report, Australian tourists continue to dominate the visitor arrivals into the South Pacific. A total of 115, 581 Australian tourists visited the region during the review with Fiji, dominating the market share at 58.4% with 67, 552 visitors and Papua New Guinea at 17.4% with 20, 110 visitors.

Meanwhile, 41,679 Chinese tourists visited the region showing a 151% positive growth compared to the same quarter in 2014. Of this, 63% visited Palau while 23% visited Fiji. Chinese visitor arrivals to Palau have increased significantly from December 2014 due to the direct flights from Hong Kong and Macau.