Friday, 31 March 2017

Measure Your Family’s Height, Explore Your Own Backyard and Take the World’s Best Quiz with Lonely Planet Kids

Measure Your Family’s Height, Explore Your Own Backyard and Take the World’s Best Quiz
with Lonely Planet Kids

A fold-out height chart with more than 80 stickers, a journal to record your backyard adventures, and a quiz with the world’s best questions are all on the itinerary when Lonely Planet Kids releases the latest titles in its Activity Series this April.

For Kids Aged 5+

Lonely Planet Kids: My Family Height Chart

Tall enough for the whole family, this pull-out height chart is metres of fun. My Family Height Chart is filled with facts and includes more than 80 stickers to track your progress and record your growth. Prepare to compare yourself and the rest of your family with some of the world’s biggest, smallest, weirdest and wackiest items. How will you measure up? Are you taller than the world’s biggest bunny?

For Kids Aged 5-8

Lonely Planet Kids: Backyard Explorer

Scribble, jot and draw in this brilliant fill-in journal and see your amazing neighbourhood in a whole new way. Backyard Explorer is filled with fun things to make, do and find on your own doorstep. Go cloud spotting, make a skyline collage, design your dream house, go on a scavenger hunt, create your very own time-and-place capsule, and lots more...

For Kids Aged 8+

Lonely Planet Kids: The Round-the-World Quiz Book

Challenge your friends and family to the ultimate quiz. This book is packed with more than 500 questions about our planet to boggle your brain and blow your mind. With different difficulty levels, there’s sure to be trivia tricky enough in The Round-the-World Quiz Book to fox the whole family. Can you name the biggest country in the world? Where you’ll find the world’s tallest waterfall? Or which animal disguises itself to look like bird poo? What are you waiting for? Test your knowledge, and see how many points you can score...


Published 6 April 2017
Lonely Planet Kids: My Family Height Chart
18pp, full colour, H305mm x W227mm, wallchart, paperback // RRP: AUD $19.99/NZD $19.99
Lonely Planet Kids: Backyard Explorer
72pp, full colour, H210mm x W165mm, hardcover // RRP: AUD $14.99/NZD $16.99

Lonely Planet Kids: The Round-the-World Quiz Book
160pp, full colour, H200mm x W200mm, paperback // RRP: AUD $14.99/NZD $16.99

Also available in the Lonely Planet Kids Activity Series: Boredom Buster, My Family Travel Map, and My Travel Journal (all published last year).

The Travel Industry Exhibition & Conference Conference Program Announced

Australia’s dedicated trade event for the travel industry, The Travel Industry Exhibition & Conference returns to Sydney (20 – 21 July, Crystal Palace, Luna Park) and Melbourne, (25 – 26 July, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre) for 2017.

For the first time, a two day conference, with the theme Agents of Change, has been added to the events mix and will feature more than 20 Australian and international speakers, who will share their knowledge, discuss the future of the industry, provide skills development & the latest industry tools and best practice case studies for the travel industry.

The conference in both cities will be opened by Zelda la Grange, who will share her experiences and lessons learnt from 19 years as Presidential Aide to Nelson Mandela. Her unique outlook on life, inspired by one of the greatest statesmen of our time, is a captivating story you will want to hear.

The next leading speaker is Richard Sauerman, The Brand Guy, ranked number 12 in the world on the world’s Top 30 Brands Professionals list. Richard will present his pioneering new way to do branding where everything you do and say as a business is driven by and aligned to a brand strategy.

Australia’s 1st Professional Instagramer, Lauren Bath, has also been added to the line up of stellar speakers. The Chef turned Photographer will share insights into her instagram success along with what travel agencies need to know to grow their online communities.

David Paterson, Event Director with Exhibitions and Trade Fairs, the organisers of The Travel Industry Exhibition and Conference, said, “This is a unique opportunity for you to become an Agent of Change for your industry.”

“As Australia’s trade only travel event, conference delegates will be inspired to shift their current thinking, recognise their brand value and find insight into how they can increase their customer base.”

“The free exhibition will once again take place alongside the conference and will give delegates and trade visitors the opportunity to see, compare and discuss the latest products and services, travel destinations, accommodation options, air services, cruising, tours, travel technology and more, all in an environment where you can do business face to face,” Mr Paterson says.

Take advantage of early bird rates and you can save up to $100.00 + GST. With early bird rates ending 30th April 2017, make sure you secure your conference ticket without delay.

To purchase conference tickets, register for the free exhibition or for more information, visit

Dajue Mountains win top tourism accolade

Representatives from the Dajue Mountains Scenic Area in Fuzhou city, in Jiangxi province, recently held a news conference in Beijing to promote the area's tourism resources.

The area, located along the border of the Jiangxi and Fujian provinces, boasts an expanse of virgin forest and a wide variety of wild animals and plants.

Visitors can see valleys, streams and ancient temples in the area, besides walking across a glass bridge and doing some white-water rafting.

In February, the National Tourism Administration designated the scenic area as an AAAAA attraction, China's highest rating. The area is the first privately run scenic spot in China to win this accolade.

Ouyang Quanhua, the Party secretary of the Jiangxi Province Tourism Development Commission, said at the news conference that the Dajue Mountains rating will encourage Fuzhou city to boost its tourism promotion activities.


The future is bright for one of South East Queensland’s most iconic destinations, as Jupiters prepares to transition to a new name and brand, becoming The Star Gold Coast from March 30, 2017.

Having played a pivotal role in shaping the face of the City since opening in 1985, the transition to The Star comes as the property redevelopment enters the next phase. 

Six new food and beverage offerings, 596 refurbished hotel rooms and a luxury poolside experience are among the already completed features, signifying the start of a new era for the Gold Coast’s future star. 

A new six-star luxury hotel at the front of the property will also open before the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, and approvals have been received for an additional 200-metre hotel and apartment tower. 

More than 800 items and 130 signs have played a starring role in the property rebranding. From the prominent five-metre emblem that proudly occupies the western facade, to the finer details such as streamlined hotel collateral, uniforms, and chocolates on pillows. 

The alignment follows parent company The Star Entertainment Group’s transition to a consolidated brand in November 2015 and heralds a new era for the Broadbeach Island property – further leveraging the equity built by The Star in domestic and international markets. 

The Star Entertainment Group’s Managing Director Queensland Geoff Hogg said the transition to The Star was another exciting milestone in the property’s 30 year history. 

“The refurbishment of our existing facilities has served as a catalyst in providing the standards of product excellence, and guest services, that The Star brand represents,” Geoff said. “The Gold Coast’s reputation as a must-visit destination continues to strengthen with both leisure and business travellers, so we are working to create a broad offering that will help to support this well into the future.

 “As a group we’ve put significant investment into ensuring we provide a distinctive premium product which will in turn, become a major driver in attracting vital economic benefits for the Gold Coast and Queensland tourism more generally.” 

While the essence of the property will remain true to its Gold Coast roots, The Star Entertainment Group Managing Director and CEO Matt Bekier said that Jupiters’ transition to The Star Gold Coast would enable the company to drive awareness and recognition for the evolving property – as being a strong individual entity under a unified group umbrella. 

“Our Gold Coast property is renowned for its bold, optimistic and enthusiastic character. Its connection to the community and the spirit of the Coast is its point of difference, and there will be even greater emphasis on these characteristics moving forward,” Matt continued. “We have set impeccable standards for our properties, and are committed to establishing Gold Coast, Sydney and Brisbane as world-class integrated resorts that retain their authentic local spirit whilst delivering consistently premium standards of service and experiences.” 

The Star’s revitalised dining experiences have served up a host of award-wins since the launch of the first in late-2014. Opening under the guidance of Restaurant Executive Chef Chase Kojima, Kiyomi gained industry recognition just six months after opening, claiming its first Chef’s Hat at the 2016 Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Awards. 

It’s a title it has proudly retained for two years in a row, revolutionising the way visitors and guests dine. The popular restaurant was joined shortly after by the property’s first indoor-outdoor dining venue Cucina Vivo, and in early 2016, Garden Kitchen & Bar – taking advantage of the City’s enviable climate. 

The opening of an additional two outlets, Mei Wei Dumplings and M&G Café and Bar in December 2016, further strengthened the property’s gastronomic diversity through the offering of more relaxed dining alternatives for visitors and guests. The refurbishment of the property’s 596 existing rooms reflects a confidence in the region’s surrounding aesthetics and future growth, delivering modern, contemporary rooms that offer an unprecedented level of personalisation. From lavish suites boasting spacious outdoor terraces to the cool tones of the Superior Deluxe Rooms, each room exudes warmth and elegance. 

Locally commissioned artwork provides a unique personality, while no expense was spared on electronics, affording guests the opportunity to customise lighting, drapery, temperature and service preferences through the use of fully integrated technology. 

At the front of the property, the Gold Coast’s first six-star hotel in more than a decade is also taking shape, and forms part of crucial investment in the region ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Comprised of spacious suites and rooms while also showcasing signature bars and restaurants, private gaming rooms and butler service, the luxury development will focus on the creation of spaces that cater to the specific needs of individual travellers. 

“We have a proud history on the Gold Coast and wanted to create experiences that were reflective of our City’s vibrant personality,” Geoff added. “Through our redevelopment we have embraced our coastal lifestyle, opened up the existing property to celebrate our fantastic climate and created a breadth of experiences that cater to our guests’ needs. “Ongoing investment on the Gold Coast is an absolute necessity and we will continue to transform and evolve ahead of the opening of our luxury new six-star tower.” 

Adding to the excitement of the current development, approvals have been received for an additional 200-metre hotel and apartment tower on Broadbeach Island. The 4.5 star tower could be the first of up to five in a master plan for the property developed as part of a joint venture with partners Chow Tai Fook and Far East Consortium. 

The new tower would take the property’s transformation to a combined investment worth up to $850 million. Subject to successful apartment pre-sales, preparatory works are expected to start later this year, with the new 700-key complex to include an exciting new restaurant and bar concept, and a luxurious day spa. 

A recreation deck with ocean views will include a resort pool for hotel guests and quality residential facilities, while a range of flexible open spaces surrounded by tropical gardens will leverage the enviable Gold Coast climate and lifestyle. 

When complete, the new additions will increase the property’s overall accommodation to almost 1400 rooms, ensuring a range of price points for guests. The existing refurbished five-star facility will be joined by the six-star luxury hotel tower before the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and the additional 4.5 star hotel and apartment tower in 2020. 

The long term master plan concept for the property provides future development options potentially worth multiple billions of dollars featuring up to five new hotel and/or apartment towers, a worldclass recreational deck, and new entertainment facilities. 

For more information visit 


The campaign video for the public-private-partnership #MekongMoments social media campaign has won an award at ITB Berlin. Mekong Tourism Executive Director Jens Thraenhart announced the news via a Facebook post, as follows:

We won! Still in testing phase but the @MekongMoments campaign to promote the Greater Mekong Subregion as a single tourism destination and empower any travel operator to run their own social media campaign on the turnkey campaign solution, was recognized at ITB Berlin, the largest travel and tourism fair in the world.

The jury of the prestigious ITB Golden City Gate Video awards recognized the #MekongMoments campaign video for its innovative approach to being able to customize the video for any travel company and to capture the essence and magic of the region in an upbeat approach.

“Beyond the technical quality like editing, the jury focused a lot on the emotional quality of the film and how it inspires to travel . We have looked into how it generated compassion and empathy ” Jury of the “The Golden City Gate Award” after reviewing 121 films from 32 countries

We can’t believe #MekongMoments has won the prestigious Das Goldene Stadttor award otherwise popularly known as tourism Oscars at ITB Berlin.

We were competing with international regions like / in UAE, Turkey, Egypt, Germany, Canada, amongst others and putting the Mekong Region on the global map is very exciting.

Check out this video and contact us to participate in #MekongMoments:
#MekongMoments, BE IN THE MOMENT – TRAVEL RESPONSIBLY from CEN International on Vimeo.

Owned and operated by Digital-Design-Thinking Studio CEN International, based in Bangkok, and initiated by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, the innovative capacity-building program is developed as a public-private partnership between the six member countries of the GMS and the tourism industry in the region.

The #MekongMoments campaign is powered by the powerful Enwoke Social CRM solution that can turn any website into a travel inspiration and intelligence platform.

Special thanks goes to the support of the founding partners Khiri Travel Group / Yaana Ventures, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), SwissContact, and Odyssey Tours China.

Celebrations took place during the Myanmar Tourism Cocktail Reception at ITB Berlin with senior officials from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism Myanmar, the Myanmar Tourism Federation, the Cambodia Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism of Laos, Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), and CEN International.

HE Minister of Hotels and Tourism Myanmar U Ohm Maung, HE Secretary of State of Cambodia Mr So Mara, and HE Director General of Marketing of Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism of Lao PDR, and HE Minister of Chin State in Myanmar were very pleased about the award.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Conventions generate high value for New Zealand

Sue Sullivan
Convention visitors spent over a million nights in New Zealand last year, and international delegates generated twice as much as other visitors to New Zealand, new statistics show.

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) Chief Executive, Sue Sullivan says business events continue to be the high-value sector of New Zealand’s visitor economy.

The Convention Delegate Survey released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for the year to December 2016 show the number of overseas arrivals to New Zealand for conventions and conferences rose to 66,000, up from 63,000 in 2015. A total of 1,213,389 event days were recorded in 2016, up 19 per cent on 2015.

Multi-day convention delegates generated an estimated 1,005,000 visitor nights in New Zealand and they spent an estimated $588 million in 2016, up from $472 million in 2015.

Domestic delegates accounted for $316 million, 54 per cent of the total amount, local delegates spent $141 million - 24 per cent, and international visitors spent a total of $131 million - 22 per cent. Of the international spend, $72 million was generated from Australian visitors and $59 million from other international visitors.

Sue Sullivan says the high number of domestic delegates reflects a strong New Zealand economy. “Companies are investing in educating their teams, and domestic conference attendees are providing a boost to regional New Zealand.

“Smaller regions in New Zealand are investing in new facilities. The recently opened Napier Conference Centre, for example, has a range of domestic conferences scheduled for the next 12 months. Its first event this month was an international horticulture symposium where 86 per cent delegates were from overseas, and 14 per cent domestic.

“New Zealand’s share of the world’s multi-day convention market is set to grow once our new purpose-built facilities open in the main centres, giving us the ability to cater for much larger events,” Sue Sullivan says.

“The broader benefits of a growing business events economy are equally important. New Zealand’s business events sector provides key support for infrastructure development, business relationships, knowledge transfer and industry investment, with the benefits spreading across both city and regional economies,” she says.

Rural and Regional NSW tourism bonanza

Australian tourists are spending more money in rural and regional NSW than ever before, with strong visitor growth to NSW regions underpinning a record $16.7 billion year for domestic tourism.

Last year, NSW welcomed 29.3 million domestic overnight visitors, of which more than 70 per cent visited regional NSW, according to the National Visitor Survey released today.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said rural and regional NSW was experiencing a tourism bonanza having achieved its highest domestic overnight visitors, nights and expenditure on record.

“This is a fantastic result for our State, which is supported by the NSW Government’s absolute commitment to support growth of our tourism sector, and ensure every part of NSW reaps the benefits of that growth,” Mr Marshall said.

“These results show that record levels of tourism dollars are flowing to rural and regional NSW turbocharging local economies, generating jobs and driving investment in local communities.

“Rural and regional NSW is the heartland of domestic visitation into NSW, with almost three times the number of domestic nights spent in regional NSW than in Sydney.

“These latest National Visitor Survey results demonstrate the State is reaping the benefits of the NSW Government’s significant ongoing investment in tourism and major events, with the goal of doubling overnight visitor expenditure by 2020.”

In the year to December 2016, communities across rural and regional NSW welcomed 21 million visitors who stayed 71 million nights and spent $10.2 billion, delivering an incredible injection to local restaurants, hotels and tourism attractions.

Tourism expenditure in the State’s regional areas also grew by 10 per cent, making regional travel the largest driver of NSW’s visitor expenditure growth.

Nationally, NSW also had the highest increase in domestic overnight holiday travellers, welcoming 12 million visitors on vacation. This growth was mainly driven by holiday visitors to regional NSW.

Vietnamese city plans to form 'welcome club' for Chinese tourists

Over 20 travel agencies in Vietnam's south central coastal Nha Trang city have planned to gather into a "welcome club" for Chinese tourists in order to better deal with the influx of visitors from China.

Nha Trang in Vietnam's Khanh Hoa province has emerged as a favorable destination for Chinese holidaymakers, who bring revenue to the Vietnamese city, surpassing Russian travelers, reported local VNExpress online newspaper on Thursday.

The travel agencies have discussed plans to form the welcome club for Chinese tourists to ensure tourism quality, prevent price hike and unfavorable behavior towards tourists. Nguyen Van Thanh, vice chairman of Nha Trang Tourism Association, said on VNExpress on Thursday that the establishment of the club will ensure a healthy competition environment among local travel agencies, increasing business efficiency, stability and preventing price hikes levied on foreign tourists.

In January 2017, Khanh Hoa's international tourist arrivals rose 180 percent year-on-year to hit 163,000 person-times. Among the figure, more than 102,000 Chinese visitors spent their holidays in Khanh Hoa in January, presenting a massive 374 percent increase over the same period last year.

Record showbag numbers this Easter Show

Sydney's most discerning showbag critics today inspected, tested and appraised each of the record-breaking 381 showbags that will be offered at this year's Sydney Royal Easter Show (April 6-19).

The contingent of 30 children from Westmead Children's Hospital and Royal Far West left no stone unturned in their critique of what is the largest showbag offering in the Show's history which range in price from $2 to $30 including more than 130 showbags for $10 or less.

Sydney Show General Manager, Murray Wilton, said the extensive range available in the Showbag Pavilion would again ensure something for everyone - from the sweet tooth through to the fashionista.

"Traditionalists with will be pleased to know the Bertie Beetle bag is back for yet another Easter Show, while for the fashionistas, there's a noticeable push towards fashion showbags this year," Mr Wilton said.

"The Showbag Pavilion is always one of the feature attractions for Showgoers and this year will be no exception, particularly given the sheer number of showbags available for less than $10."

This year's Top 10 bags include (in no particular order):
  • Little Miss - Miss Naughty ($10)
  • Skylanders Swapforce ($10)
  • Doctor Who ($26)
  • Halo ($26)
  • Mister Maker ($26)
  • Spirit State Health and Fitness Pack ($26)
  • Paw Patrol Skye ($28)
  • Peppa Pig - George ($28)
  • Trolls Bag ($30)
  • Freddo ($6).

The Top 5 $10 and under include:
  • Shapes ($10)
  • Bertie Beetle Gold ($3)
  • Cadbury Dairy Milk ($6)
  • Diego ($10)
  • Pre-School ($10).

Mr Wilton said with a record-breaking number of showbags to choose from, there were also some simple preparations to help expedite the all-important selection process.

"Working your way through this number of bags in the Showbag Pavilion can be time consuming, so we've put together our Top 3 tips to make showbag shopping as seamless as possible," he said.

Jump online at and plan - each of the 350 plus Showbags on offer is listed here, plus you can compile your own Showbag wish list to print out and bring along

Know your budget - with more than 130 Showbags for $10 and under, there is a Showbag to suit every family budget. You can still buy a Showbag for just $1!

Save the best until last - visit the Showbag Pavilion at the end of the day, so you don't have to carry your loot around. Or if you can't wait, hire a locker, there are some available just outside the Showbag Pavilion.

Mr Wilton said using the Easter Show website was also the best way to make savings across the board, with bargain not only to be had in the Showbag Pavilion.

"There are a number of great online savings to be made on tickets, carnival rides and food by using the Easter Show website and planning ahead of time," he said.

"Family Showlink tickets have remained the same as last year at just $99.50 when you purchase online before midnight April 5 - and that includes same-day return public transport.

"On April 19, the last day of The Show (aka Kids' Day), children will enjoy half price entry at $12.50."

Tickets can be purchased online, at Woolworths stores from 6 April and at the gate during The Show.

A Special Offer at the Aquarium of the Bay

Upgrade for a sneak peek at what goes on behind the scenes at Aquarium of the Bay. Traverse the catwalks above the tanks, learn about dive operations, and find out how the Aquarium cares for more than 20,000 marine animals. Behind-the-Scenes Tours offer a unique perspective on the Aquarium’s main habitat areas and on its mission to protect, restore, and inspire conservation of San Francisco Bay.

Take advantage of a unique opportunity to explore the magic, beauty, and wonder of San Francisco Bay. Fans of San Francisco Travel can save 15-20% off general admission. Ticket sale proceeds benefit Aquarium of the Bay’s education and conservation initiatives. ]

Upgrade for a sneak peek at what goes on behind the scenes at Aquarium of the Bay. Traverse the catwalks above the tanks, learn about dive operations, and find out how the Aquarium cares for more than 20,000 marine animals. Behind-the-Scenes Tours offer a unique perspective on the Aquarium’s main habitat areas and on its mission to protect, restore, and inspire conservation of San Francisco Bay.


Global Millennial Summit heading to Sydney

Sydney has been chosen as the newest location for the global Millennial 20/20 Summit. Following successful events, each attracting close to 3,000 attendees, in London, New York and Singapore, the Sydney Millennial 20/20 Summit will be held at Carriageworks on 14-15 November 2017.

The Millennial 20/20 series is a unique and experiential gathering that celebrates the modern age of commerce and business powered by the millennials and future generations. The Summit's focus on the impact of technology, which is drastically altering how today’s and tomorrow’s consumer will interact with brands in sectors such as finance, retail, entertainment, tourism, FMCG and more.

UK based Simon Berger, Founding Partner of Millennial 20/20, explains the rationale behind the Summits.

"The Millennial generation have unprecedented access to technology that makes the way they deal with brands more complex than any preceding generation. The Millennial 20/20 Summits have been created to showcase how the leading global organisations and start-ups are interacting with this new breed of consumer," said Berger.

Rupa Ganatra, Co-founder of Millennial 20/20 continued with insights on how the conference will be tailored to the experience expectations of the Millennial generation.

"Each element of our event offers more of an experience than the traditional conference model, from the venue, to the program and exhibition format, even through to the food and beverage. I can assure delegates that they won’t have experienced anything like it before!" shared Ganatra.

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills, John Barilaro, said the Millennial 20/20 Summit will prove to be an iconic event for New South Wales.

"This event will further strengthen our reputation as a world-leader in technology, innovation and finance.

"With its energy and entrepreneurial spirit, Sydney is the natural choice for an event that focuses on innovation, disruption and technology and only adds to New South Wales’ standing as a global technology leader," said Barilaro.

Millennial 20/20 has partnered with the creative and experienced team at Hannover Fairs Australia, also based in Sydney, to stage the event. Lauren Greschner, Event Head – Millennial 20/20 explains further why Sydney was chosen alongside London, New York and Singapore to host a Millennial 20/20 Summit.

"Sydney is one of the top 20 start-up ecosystems and a bustling hub of disruption, featuring a mix of the world’s leading finance and technology companies. Allied to the early adoption of technology by Australians, Sydney was an obvious choice for the Summit.

"We are also excited to be rethinking the traditional conference model to deliver a new experience for delegates, including working with the exciting spaces at Carriageworks,"concluded Greschner.

Millennial 20/20 Sydney will be held at Carriageworks, Sydney, on the 14-15 November 2017. For more details visit

A wrap-up video of the London Millennial 20/20 gives attendees a taste of what to expect.


Bounyang Ketmany (left),
Sales Manager of Kiridara Luang Prabang,
and Nouy Vongmanichanh (right),
Deputy Head of the Tourism Marketing Division
Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) is in Luang Prabang, Laos until March 17 on a mission to sign up host venues for the innovative afternoon program of Mekong Tourism Forum 2017, “Prosper with Purpose”. 

Through meetings arranged by Nouy Vongmanichanh, Deputy Head of the Tourism Marketing Division at Luang Prabang Provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department, MTCO and Tourism Luang Prabang will sign MoUs with 16 venues in and around Luang Prabang. MTCO is represented in Luang Prabang by MTCO’s content & communications consultant David Gillbanks.

The venues will host between 20 and 50 MTF 2017 delegates for 90-minute interactive and topical sessions on June 7 & 8. The afternoon “breakthrough” sessions will give delegates an opportunity to see some of the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang while exploring topics of relevance to travel & tourism in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

Every delegate has the opportunity to choose two thematic tracks of two sessions each (one track for each afternoon (June 7 & 8)). Capacity for each track is strictly limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Register now!

As at March 12, Kiridara Hotel Luang Prabang and Pah Tad Ke Botanical Garden had signed up as breakthrough session venues.

Registration is OPEN for Mekong Tourism Forum 2017, "Prosper with Purpose".

Jens Thraenhart
To take place June 6-9 in Luang Prabang, Laos, MTF 2017 promises to deliver interactive topical sessions hosted at multiple experiential venues in and around the UNESCO World Heritage town. Indeed Luang Prabang is the venue for MTF 2017!

Yesterday we announced our keynote speaker for MTF 2017: Anna Pollock (pictured right). I could not imagine a more suitable person than Anna to address our tourism industry at MTF 2017. I worked with Anna, and was inspired by her, during my time at the Canadian Tourism Commission in the mid 2000s. I experienced first-hand one of her strengths, which is her ability to see the “big picture” and help others make sense of rapid change.

The theme of MTF 2017 is “Prosper with Purpose”. This corresponds to much of Anna's work over her 45-year career. As Founder of Conscious.Travel, Anna is currently working on models of destination development that, in her words, “generate higher yields with less impact”. She believes that for tourism to thrive it must "provide much higher levels of satisfaction to the customer, more net benefit to the host community, and sustained yields to shareholders”.

Anna will deliver her keynote speech, entitled "Passion + Purpose = Prosperity", at 10:30am on June 8 at Luang Prabang’s Central Bank building ... Read more about it.

In partnership with our hosts, the Ministry of Information, Culture, & Tourism, Lao PDR and the Department of Information, Culture, & Tourism, Luang Prabang, Mekong Tourism is keen to demonstrate that smaller towns can compete for MICE. We are doing this by inviting small- and medium-sized stakeholders to host sessions. Soon we will announce our eight-track program of 16 breakthrough sessions and their Host Venues. The breakthrough sessions will take place in and around Luang Prabang during the afternoons of June 7 & 8 — after MTF’s opening ceremonies, keynote speeches, and keynote panel discussions in the mornings and the included networking lunches.

Registration is OPEN. And the capacity for each breakthrough session is limited. So register early to secure a spot in the sessions you are most interested in.

We look forward to hearing from you as always, and hope you enjoy this week's newsletter. And remember: sharing is caring.

Have a great week!
Jens Thraenhart
Executive Director, MTCO

Casting Announced for the Royal Ballet's Exclusive QPAC Seasons of Woolf Works and the Winter's Tale

The Royal Ballet arrives in Australia, direct from London, this winter for an exclusive residency at Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) from Thursday 29 June to Sunday 9 July 2017.

Bringing with them their two award-winning productions, Wayne McGregor'sWoolf Works and Christopher Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale, the exclusive season will showcase the extraordinary breadth of the Company's modern repertory, and the virtuosity and theatricality of its dancers.

85 of The Royal Ballet's dancers will travel to Brisbane, with casting for the tour including Principal Dancers Federico Bonelli, Alexander Campbell, Lauren Cuthbertson, Francesca Hayward, Ryoichi Hirano, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Laura Morera, Marianela Nuñez, Natalia Osipova, Thiago Soares,Akane Takada, Edward Watson, Vadim Muntagirov and Zenaida Yanowsky.

Alessandra Ferri and Mara Galeazzi will dance the roles of Mrs Dalloway and Virginia Woolf in Woolf Works. Company members originally from Australia include Principals Steven McRae and Alexander Campbell, First Artist Benjamin Ella and Artists Harry Churches and Calvin Richardson. Full cast schedule below and available to download from the Dropbox link.

Kevin O'Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet comments, “It's a real privilege for us to be invited to QPAC as part of its International Series which has welcomed so many wonderful companies in recent years. Everyone in the Company is very much looking forward to performing in Brisbane, especially as it is the first time we have taken these two very exciting works outside of the Royal Opera House”.

Woolf Works by Royal Ballet Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor is composed of three acts inspired by three of Virginia Woolf's landmark novels; Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves, as well as a selection of her autobiographical writings that echo aspects of her famously eventful life.

Renowned for his ground-breaking style and cross-discipline collaborations, McGregor's choreography reflects Woolf's modernist rejection of neatly ordered narrative, in favour of heightened, startling and poignant perspectives.

Set to an especially commissioned score by acclaimed British composer Max Richter, the ballet was McGregor's first full-length work for The Royal Ballet and won the 2015 Critics' Circle Award for Best Classical Choreography and the 2016 Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production.

The Winter's Tale by Royal Ballet Associate Artist Christopher Wheeldon was The Royal Ballet's first three-act adaptation of William Shakespeare's work since Kenneth MacMillan's 1965 production of Romeo and Juliet.

The story follows the destruction of a marriage through consuming jealousy, the abandonment of a child and a seemingly hopeless love. Yet, through remorse and regret, the ending is one of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Regarded as one of Wheeldon's finest works and with powerful designs by Bob Crowley and an original score by Joby Talbot, The Winter's Tale was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance and won the 2015 Critics' Circle National Dance Award for Best Classical Choreography.

The Company's first visit to Australia took place in 1958 with a six-month tour covering Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. Performances included Swan Lake and Les Sylphides with ballet luminaries, Svetlana Beriosova, Lynn Seymourand Robert Helpmann. The Company's most recent tour was in 2002. Fifteen years on, The Royal Ballet makes a welcome return with two new masterpieces each receiving their Australian premiere exclusively in Brisbane.

The Royal Ballet's Woolf Works and The Winter's Tale arrive at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane for the 2017 QPAC International Series from 29 June to 9 July 2017. Tickets to The Royal Ballet's Woolf Works and The Winter's Tale are on sale now via or 136 246.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Tourists watch performance of diver feeding swimming rays in Zhuhai

A diver feeds a swimming ray at the Whale Shark Plaza of the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai city, South China's Guangdong province, March 8, 2017.[Photo/Xinhua]

Is the Sun Setting on Bagan Temple Climbing?

Tourists take photos of the setting sun
from the famed Shwesandaw Pagoda 
Myanmar authorities are mulling a ban on climbing Bagan’s temples in order to protect them, reports Frontier Myanmar, but experts warn that such a move could have a negative impact on the country’s growing tourism industry.

Tourists take photos of the setting sun from the famed Shwesandaw Pagoda. (Theint Mon Soe — J | Frontier)

The government has said it is considering banning visitors from climbing the pagodas at the end of this year’s tourism season, in order to protect these ancient structures.

“Sunset and sunrise viewing on the temples can cause damage to the cultural heritage, and that is not suitable in the long-run and should be banned in the future,” State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said when she visited Bagan in January.

She suggested building alternative structures for sunset and sunrise viewing and said any decision will “benefit the country in the long-term”.

It is not the first time authorities have considered a ban. And calls for a ban have increased since a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Myanmar in August 2016 and damaged about 200 of Bagan’s estimated 3,000 structures.

Some foreign visitors support the government’s plans. But some operators are concerned that such a move would have a detrimental impact on tourism.

Full story at Frontier Myanmar.


When you think of San Francisco icons, the sea lions are up there with the Golden Gate Bridge. They are one of the reasons why PIER 39 is the top attraction in San Francisco. On a typical day, you can find them lounging in the sun or piled on top of each other on K-Dock in PIER 39’s West Marina. Some people say they're smelly, but they all smell that way here (fun fact: they are all male). Here's how one of San Francisco's cutest residents sees San Francisco.

What made you come to The PIER?

Food, of course! In the early 1990s, my pod (a group of sea lions) and I followed our food to PIER 39. Upon arrival, we discovered that there was not only a plentiful supply of herring but that the PIER 39 Marina also offered us protection from the predators we would face in open waters. It’s been home ever since!

Describe your perfect day in San Francisco.

Sleep, salmon, sun…repeat!

Where and what would you choose for your last meal in San Francisco?

Although I’m on a strict fish-only diet, I wouldn’t mind one of those mini-donuts…

What's your favorite beach in San Francisco?

When Seal Rock gets too packed, I like to head over to Ocean Beach and catch a few waves with the surfers.

When you have out-of-town guests, where do you take them?

We usually cruise around the Bay to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, and then back to PIER 39 to watch the tourists. K-Dock is a great spot for people watching!

If you could make it into the middle of the city, where would you go?

I’ve always wanted to ride the cable car, although I think I’d have a hard time hanging on over the steep hills.

As a fan of seafood, what have you heard about dining in the city?

It’s about as fresh and local as you can get! Each day, when I’m out and about in the ocean, I see local fisherman snatch up all kinds of fish and crabby critters for the restaurants at The PIER. Sure looks tasty to me!

What best captures the essence of San Francisco?

The kindness and acceptance of the people who live here. In San Francisco, people take care of their neighbors. When we first arrived, the folks in the PIER 39 Marina built a permanent dock for us to call home. San Franciscans came from all over the city to welcome us. Three decades later, we are proud to call the waters around this magnificent city our home, and its residents our neighbors and friends.

What should visitors to K-Dock know about your family and friends?

We are sea lions – not seals! Sea lions have external ear flaps and seals do not.

Where’s the best place for visitors to see a great bridge view?

There are great views from the Bay end of PIER 39, but nothing beats a photo from directly under the bridge. Those without a built-in wetsuit can see the bridge from this angle aboard a Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise.

Where’s the best place for someone to find you when not at The PIER?

Most days you can find me at K-Dock, but I do take a trip down to the Channel Islands each June for mating season. Also, if I’m not feeling well, I’ll be over in Sausalito with my friends from The Marine Mammal Center.

Any comments on Lou Seal?

As a fellow marine mammal and Giants’ fan, it gives me great pride to see Lou out on the field. And boy, can Lou dance!

You spend a lot of time on the edge of The PIER. What catches your eye the most?

The beauty of the city never ceases to amaze me. From K-Dock, I can see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the world-famous city skyline with iconic landmarks like Coit Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid. Millions of people come from around the world to take pictures of these views – and they’re in my own backyard!

There are a lot of boats out there around you. What’s up with them?

We stay clear of them, and they stay clear of us!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Kokoda 2017 - Alzheimer's Australia NSW

After the success of their first overseas challenge fundraiser – Kilimanjaro 2017 - the Alzheimer’s Australia fundraising team are thrilled to announce that this year’s challenge will take their supporters to the Kokoda track in Papa New Guinea! 

Emma from Alzheimer’s Australia says “The Kokoda track is so rich in a history that is close to the hearts of many Australians and so we thought we would give people the opportunity to combine the challenge with raising funds to help people affected by dementia in Australia. This will be an experience that participants will be proud of and reminisce about for a very long time.”

Each participant has a fundraising target of $2,500, making this trip extremely worthwhile for the charity but also very achievable for the trekkers. The Alzheimer’s Australia fundraising team will be there for participants every step of the way, providing support, advice and materials to help each person smash their target!

For over 70 years the story of the Battle of Kokoda has been told by survivors, memoirs and war records. No matter the interpretation the poignant narratives tell a very human story of comradeship and true grit that took place along the formidable Kokoda Trail, single file trail that links New Guinea’s interior to the coast near Port Moresby. The Kokoda Track is simply a prevailing journey of endurance and indomitable spirit.

When you begin the 96km trek you will feel the same level of physical exhaustion in the same way the Diggers and their Papuan brothers once experienced when they fought the Japanese. You will also quickly gain a sense of Diggers’ camaraderie and share a similar bond with your own group as you meet the environmental challenges that awaits in New Guinea’s interior; the deep ravines and precipices of the Owen Stanley Ranges, the raging waters only accessed by a log bridge and miles of inhospitable terrain though dense rainforests. And in a quiet moment of reflection, you may even think about the men who lived with the constant threat of another enemy ambush.

Wonder how they persevered when they fell sick with malaria or were shot. Or even imagine how they walked day after day in the searing heat with their with feet covered in festering blisters, but as you look across the remarkably beautiful and untamed panoramas from atop Papua New Guinea’s highest peak, you will feel a sense of exhilaration at having experienced one of the world’s most extraordinary treks that is steeped in history and valour.

At the heart of your journey is Oro Province, one of the most beautiful landscapes in Papua New Guinea. Located between the Solomon Sea and the foothills of the Owen Stanley range is the sleepy village of Kokoda where the northern end of the Kokoda Track ends. Established as an outpost for miners travelling to the Yodda Kokoda gold fields in the 1890s, Kokoda’s airfield became the central focus of Allied and Japanese interests during the 1942 Kokoda Trail Campaign.

Starting at Owers' Corner near Port Moresby (or v/v from Kokoda) your expert Australian led trekking experience will include camp stays (in tents) near the villages and battlefields at the forefront of the campaign while enjoying the warmth of Kokoda Spirit’s Papuan hosts.

At the end of your journey you will walk away with a sense of personal triumph at having trekked one of the most challenging tracks in the world. 

And your spiritual bond with the heroic men who left their footsteps along the Kokoda Track will forever stay with you.

To find out more about this opportunity, please visit 


One of the world's most colourful traditional events, the Naadam Festival, is among a host of eye-catching highlights on Byroads Travel’s two-week long Mongolian Discoverer tour.

“The festival is so unique, it is included on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list,” said Byroads Travel’s Steve Mortimer, who will host guests on this small group tour from July 4-17, 2018.

“The three-day event officially celebrates the Mongolian revolution and independence, although the festival is said to pre-date the great warrior Genghis Khan,” he said.

“Each Naadam Festival starts with an opening ceremony - a swirl of horse riders, wrestlers, singers, musicians, monks and dancers. And the hallmark of the festival is the ‘three games of men’ - the sports of archery, horse racing and wrestling.”

Although the capital Ulaanbaatar hosts the largest and most commercial Naadam Festival, Byroads Travel has selected one of the provincial events “for a more local and authentic experience looking at the nomadic history, culture and traditional sporting events which make this fascinating country famous”.

“There’s no doubt the festival will leave a lasting impression on visitors for many years to come,” said Steve.

The 14-day Mongolian Discoverer begins in Ulaanbaatar and explores several cultural centres as well as the remote, unimaginable wilderness, populated by traditional nomads who continue to roam the great steppe lands, grazing their animals and living in their felt gers, the traditional houses of the Mongolian people.

This tour is among the Australian-based travel company’s most adventurous, traversing a large part of Mongolia from Ulaanbaatar in the central north to the South Gobi Desert.

It was designed to not only “get travellers up close” to the many historical monuments and natural wonders but also to discover the rich cultural identity and way of life of the country’s nomads.

Byroads Travel’s 14-day small group tour begins in Ulaanbaatar on July 4, 2018 and is priced from US3550 (about AUD4884) per person, twin share. Return air fares from Australia are extra.

Details: Phone (02) 9357 6800 or visit

Tropical North Queensland open for business

Tropical North Queensland remains unaffected by Cyclone Debbie which is expected to cross the Queensland coast today (March 28) about 600km south of Cairns.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chief Executive Officer Alex de Waal said Tropical North Queensland had been enjoying clear sunny days since the low pressure system had begun tracking south of Cairns over the weekend.

“Cairns and Tropical North Queensland is open for business with both the Cairns Airport and the Cairns Port open,” he said.

“All 600 plus tours including those to the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforest are operating as normal.

“Forward bookings for the school holiday period and Easter are looking strong in Tropical North Queensland.

“We wish our southern tourism colleagues the best as they prepare for Cyclone Debbie and trust they will be open for business soon.

“The Queensland tourism industry is very experienced at dealing with the impact of natural weather events and after ensuring the safety of visitors will work towards a speedy recovery.”

Enter the gates to a lost civilisation and experience a divine culture --- Shen Yun takes you on an unforgettable adventure of a lost civilization

IMAGINE A PERFORMANCE so profound and inspiring, that it touches your soul. New York-based Shen Yun has become a global sensation. Shen Yun Performing Arts returns to Sydney Lyric Theatre 28 March to 2 April with an all-new program as part of its global tour. All-new 2017 program of around twenty masterful dances and songs bring Asia's celebrated past to life on stage with live orchestra.

In ancient times, China was known as the Land of the Divine and the world was full of magic and miracles. Everyone, from the emperors to the common people, believed that their culture was a divine gift. They lived in harmony with the universe and saw a connection among all things. Authentic Chinese culture carried these principles for thousands of years--until it was lost.

SHEN YUN INVITES YOU to visit this lost civilization. To make the journey possible, Shen Yun had to push the boundaries of performing arts. Shen Yun combines ancient dance with technological innovations, and historically authentic costumes with breathtaking animated backdrops. Shen Yun lets classical Chinese dance do the storytelling, and share with you the beautifully diverse worlds of ethnic and folk traditions. Filled with an enchanting orchestral sound, this is a stunning visual and emotional experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Now Shen Yun opens the gates to the lost civilization, where ancient myths and legends come to life, where dance and music connect Heaven and Earth. With the richly expressive art of classical Chinese dance, ground-breaking musical compositions, and cutting-edge, interactive stage effects, Shen Yun is leaving millions around the world in awe.

The Shen Yun orchestra combines the spirit and distinctiveness of Chinese music with the precision and grandeur of the Western symphony orchestra. The result – one refreshing sound in perfect synchronization with the power and beauty of classical Chinese dance – a tremendous energy leaving audiences uplifted and inspired. Experience the extraordinary. Experience Shen Yun. For more Information about the show:

“Absolutely the No. 1 show in the world!” — Kenn Wells, former lead dancer of the English National Ballet

"5,000 years of Chinese music and dance, in one night" - New York Times

"Demonstrating the highest realm in arts, Shen Yun inspires the performing arts world." - Chi Cao, Actor in Mao’s Last Dancer, and dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet

“I have reviewed over 3,000 shows, none can compare to what I saw tonight. I will give this production 5 Stars, that’s the top!... mind-blowing!” — Richard Connema, renowned Broadway critic

“One’s expectations are blown out of the water. The Shen Yun dancers seem to defy gravity.” — Australian Stage

“Don’t see it once, see it twice!” —WVOX

Shen Yun will be performing at Sydney Lyric Theatre 28 March-2 April. 

Tickets and information at:


Nura Diya tour at
Taronga Zoo Sydney
Travel agents and wholesalers can take advantage of travel packaging opportunities available in a new travel industry toolkit that profiles NSW Aboriginal tourism products.

Launched this week by Destination NSW, the NSW Aboriginal Tourism Toolkit features fact sheets and contact details for export ready products, making it easier for travel trade to connect directly with businesses.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said the Toolkit will provide NSW Aboriginal tourism businesses with greater cut through in the competitive travel marketplace.

“Destination NSW has been supporting NSW Aboriginal tourism businesses to become market and export ready and will be working hard to promote these experiences to travel agents and wholesalers around the world who design and sell travel packages for millions of visitors to NSW,” Ms Chipchase said.

To access the Toolkit and see the diverse range of experiences on offer, visit

Honouring 61 China’s Best of the Best Organisations at the 10th Annual TTG China Travel Awards

The 10th Annual TTG China Travel Awards 2017 announced 61 of the best and brightest in the Greater China travel trade industry.

This year’s honour roll includes 27 new, 28 defending and 6 returning winners – a reflection of the intense and rising competition among the region’s players for experience and service excellence.

Among the 27 new winners that emerged across various categories, the majority hailed from Hotel Awards within China. Surpassing their peers, organisations such as Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong and Sunrise Kempinski Hotel, Beijing & Yanqi Island successfully claimed their first-ever “Best Luxury Hotel in Hong Kong” and “Best Meeting & Conventions Hotel in Beijing” titles respectively – awards that were previously dominated by long-time defenders.

Meanwhile, 28 winners, close to half of this year’s recipients have retained their titles mainly in the Airlines Awards, Hotel Chains Awards and Travel Services Awards categories. Veteran organisations such as Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Chimelong Hotel Guangzhou have successfully defended their titles with consecutive wins, retaining their acclaim of being the best in their class.

Notbably, 6 of tonight’s winning organisations have made a commendable comeback into the awards. Qatar Airways reclaimed its title as the Best Middle Eastern Airline, while Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai returns as the Best Luxury Hotel in Shanghai. The 2017 awards also welcomed the re-entry of past recipients Kerry Hotel Pudong, Shanghai (Best Meeting & Conventions Hotel in Shanghai), Grand Hyatt Hong Kong (Best Meeting & Conventions Hotel in Hong Kong), The Ritz-Carlton Sanya, Yalong Bay (Best Resort in China – Beach) and InterContinental Kunming (Best Resort in China – Non-Beach).

“Determined and validated by an organisation’s customers, closest working partners and peers, all our TTG China Travel Award winners are thus reputed to be the industry’s true best for their relentless pursuit of consumer satisfaction through the constant uplifting of their value proposition, innovation and transformation to rise above the evolving competition. Their achievements will undoubtedly be an inspiration to many,” said Darren Ng, Managing Director of TTG Asia Media.

All winners were chosen after an industry-wide vote that took place between November and December last year. Voters comprised of readers of TTG China, TTG-BTmice China, TTG Asia, TTG India, TTGmice, TTGassociations, and TTG Asia Luxury, as well as the travel trade at large, who are travel consultants, tour operators and destination management companies.

The TTG China Travel Awards is a TTG Travel Trade Publishing Event organised by TTG China, held annually in Shanghai, in conjunction with The Leading International MICE Event in China, IT&CM China and The Leading Corporate Travel Management Conference For China, CTW China.

This year, the ceremony and gala dinner was held at Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai, the official venue sponsor of the event.

Voting for the TTG China Travel Awards 2018 will open in November this year.

More information on the TTG China Travel Awards can be found at:

Please here for the full list of 2017 winners.

About TTG China Travel Awards

The TTG China Travel Awards has been recognising the best of Greater China’s travel industry since 2008. This prestigious annual event honours stellar Travel Suppliers across Airlines, Hotels & Resorts, Serviced Residences and Travel Services segments in the region. This TTG Travel Trade Publishing event is proudly organised by TTG China, with the support of TTG-BTmice China, TTG Asia, TTG India, TTGmice, TTGassociations and TTG Asia Luxury.

Peace Cake provides new layer of military history on the Fraser Coast

The Queensland town of Maryborough is bringing back an important slice of history to add to their impressive list of military attractions.

The re-creation of a 1.5 metre “Peace Cake” will be joining the already established Duncan Chapman memorial, Cenotaph and Military Museum in Maryborough, plus Hervey Bay’s Light Horse statue and the coming HMAS Tobruk artificial dive reef.

Once completed, the new Peace Cake will take a permanent place in the Maryborough Town Hall as the latest in a string of works by the Maryborough Mural Project, a community group dedicated to revitalizing the heritage city’s CBD through art, murals and installations.

Maryborough Mural Project (MMP) co-founder Elizabeth Lowrie said the intricate, multi-tiered cake would be made to the same specifications of the original, standing approximately 150cm tall, 61cm wide and weighing around 50kg.

"The cake is being recreated in permanent materials by two local artists, Elizabeth Hersey and Marnie Koster. Cake decorators from the wider community were invited to particaipate in two workshops to assist," Ms Lowrie said.

“When completed the Peace Cake will be permanently installed where it once took pride of place in the Maryborough Town Hall, serving as a permanent symbolic reminder to all that view it, that world peace is important and that many continue to sacrifice their lives for it.”

Fellow MMP co-founder Deb Hannam said the Peace Cake was not only important to the region’s military history but was of national significance as well.

“It’s a part of Australia’s military history and we will be excitedly watching the cake take shape over the next few months,’’ she said.
Consisting of four tiers separated by silver stands, the cake installation will feature an Angel of Peace, white doves, roses, leaves and shamrocks plus miniature battleships, weapons, light horsemen, figures symbolic with the British and Australian crests and more.

It will be unveiled at a Gala Ball at the Maryborough RSL on Saturday April 29, 2017, which aims to replicate some of the spirit of original Mayoral Victory Ball in April 1919 where the first Peace Cake debuted.

The MMP has completed a further seven projects in Maryborough including the St Mary of the Cross Mackillop mural, Ladies of the Exchange mural, Legends of Moonie Jarl stories, Adding Hope to the Journey mural, Milking Time mural, Courageous Care mural and Battle of Long Tan mural.

Hong Kong flower show to open at Victoria Park

The Hong Kong Flower Show 2017 was held at Victoria Park from March 10 to March 19 as one of the events celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland.

This year's flower show was themed "Blossoms of Love" and rose is the theme flower.

During the event, Victoria Park was decorated by more than 350,000 flowers, including 40,000 roses.

The flower show also featured a light and music display at the central axis of the park every night and a mega-sized floral birthday cake to embrace the 20th anniversary.

Various educational and recreational activities were held at the park for visitors of all ages.


The flags of dozens of countries
are lined up along Preah Sisowath Quay
beside the Tonlé Sap river in
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Cambodia has been largely overlooked by the Middle East but there are signs that things are changing with the major Gulf airlines leading the way, reports Forbes.

Plans to boost tourist numbers in Cambodia have drawn the interest of Dubai-based Emirates Airlines, which announced last month that it was to start daily flights between Dubai and Phnom Penh from July 1. It will join Qatar Airways, which has been flying to Phnom Penh since 2013.

While Cambodia could have much to gain from new air links with the Gulf, the Middle East s unlikely to provide many more of its higher-than-average-spending tourists. Instead it is the one-stop connections the airlines provide to Europe and the Americas that will be more important.

Until now, Gulf involvement in Cambodia has often focused on aid, although there have been a few commercial deals too. In both arenas, Kuwait has tended to be the most active of the Gulf countries.

In trade terms, Emirates says it expects garments and clothing to be popular exports from Cambodia. Rice and halal foods are other areas which could see a lift. As yet, Gulf construction firms have not been involved in the mini construction boom taking place in Phnom Penh, but there is potential there too.

Full story at Forbes.


There's no better way to enjoy the beautiful scenery in Monterey, Carmel, Salinas, the Carmel and Salinas Valleys or anywhere else in Monterey County than by hiking through it. There are hikes in Monterey County for every level of hiker, from the novice in sneakers to the extreme hiker with the latest high-tech gear.

Here are 5 great day hikes in the area, with hike ratings noted. Make sure to visit for additional hike suggestions and up-to-date information on weather and accessibility.

Jacks Peak County Park

If you're new to hiking, the best place to start is Jacks Peak. One parking area is located very close to the peak, allowing you to see breathtaking views without getting out of breath! For your first hike, take a right once you pass by the park gatehouse. As you walk along the Skyline Nature Trail, you will find it is very well marked, with signs pointing you in the right direction. You'll see sweeping views of Monterey Bay and soon after, you'll be rewarded with sweeping views of Carmel Valley and Point Lobos. See the Monterey County Parks map of Jacks Peak County Park trails for more information and additional trails.

Point Lobos State Reserve

This beautiful promontory has been called "the crown jewel of the State Park system." It's also an inviting hiking spot, with convenient trails that allow hikers to go for short scenic walks or long journeys. Once you enter the reserve, head to the parking lot at Whalers Cove, where you'll see a staircase going straight up the steep hill. This is the beginning of the North Shore Trail. You'll see stunning views throughout your hike, which is a perfect excuse to stop and catch your breath! From many of the cliffs, you'll have great views of the Carmel coastline and Pebble Beach. Alternatively, the Cypress Grove loop leads through a natural cypress grove and along spectacular seaside cliffs, continuing along the Sea Lion Point Trail with views of - you guessed it - sea lions, as well as fascinating rock formations. Follow the coast along the South Shore Trail to complete your loop of Point Lobos with the Bird Island Trail around China Cove and Gibson Beach, with great views of a Brandt's cormorant nesting area. Backtrack to the Mound Meadow Trail, which will take you across a wooded area and back to the road to the Whalers Cove parking lot.

Toro Park

If you're looking for a strenuous climb with a great view, try Toro Park's Ollason Peak. It provides sweeping views of Monterey Bay and the Salinas Valley, and in the right season abounds with wildflowers. Make sure you've packed plenty of water and sunblock, and wear comfortable boots. This very sunny nine mile hike has an 1,800-foot elevation gain! Pick up a trail map at the park entrance, or refer to Monterey County Parks' online trail map for Toro Park.

Garland Ranch Regional Park

If you're looking for a dog-friendly hike in the Monterey area, this is the spot for you! Garland Ranch Regional Park has some of the steepest trails in the area, as well as glorious views and great wildlife. This hike will give you views of a beautiful waterfall, the Santa Lucia Mountains and Monterey Bay. The Waterfall Trail will lead, unsurprisingly, to a beautiful waterfall with a steep climb through verdant ferns leading up to Mesa Trail. Onto Garzas Canyon Trail, enjoy the pond and the meadow, then take some deep breaths, because you're about to embark on one crazy ascent: the insanely steep Snively's Ridge Trail, with grades that can hit 30%. The top of Snively's Ridge gives panoramic views from the oceans to the mountains. If your breath isn't taken away by the climb, it certainly will be by the majestic vistas. See the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District page for an excellent PDF map of the trails.

Pinnacles National Park

For fantastic rock formations and intriguing caves, Pinnacles National Park can't be beat. If you're interested in introducing children to hiking, the best option is the Moses Spring Trail, which is short, easy, and educational. This trail runs through a short stone tunnel that children are likely to find very entertaining. Depending on the season (and if you brought a flashlight), you may be able to take the Bear Gulch Cave Trail. If Bear Gulch Cave isn't open, or if it's too dark and scary for the young ones, Moses Spring Trail continues upwards through fascinating small caves and beneath a giant boulder permanently wedged about 10 feet above the ground between two stone walls. A set of stairs will bring you up to the Bear Gulch Reservoir. The entire loop is 2.2 miles. See the National Park Service Pinnacles National Park website for a detailed list of hike options in the area.

Don't forget that hikes can always be combined with a great overnight camping trip. For suggestions, visit Monterey County's top campsites.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Australian premier of Whatever Gets You Through The Night

Muswellbrook Amateur Theatrical Society is proud to present the 
Australian premier of Whatever Gets You Through The Night
The premiere season of a new Australian comedy about motherhood. Witness the trials and tribulations of three very different young women as they battle with pregnancy and the post birth struggles of a new born, their husbands and work-life. Written over the course of many years by Australian actor and drama teacher, Nicole Peelgrane. She penned her own experiences and those of others to create this unique and very relatable piece of theatre.

Tickets for Whatever Gets You Through the Night now on sale! 


Tickets $25 each

All performances commence 7pm

Tuesday 28th March

Friday 31st March

Saturday 1st April

Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music

Muswellbrook NSW Australia
Contains some coarse language and adult themes.
Mature audiences only.

A True Must-See: Shen Yun at Sydney Lyric Theatre

If you can make it to only one show a year, let Shen Yun be your show of choice. And for Australians, the company’s 7-day run at Sydney Lyric Theatre 28 March-2 is the best time to see this one-of-a-kind performance.

Since its inception, this classical Chinese dance company has taken off with, literally, flying colors. The pageantry of dance and music is a stunning display of Chinese civilization—with dancers spinning and leaping through the air in brilliant handmade costumes that take your breath away.

Shen Yun Performing Arts was established by a group of talented ethnic Chinese artists who came together with a shared vision—to revive genuine traditional culture and share it with the world. And as soon as it started touring in 2006, Shen Yun was an instant success.

By now, Shen Yun has toured to over 100 cities worldwide, performing in front of millions across North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. One of its trademarks is that each new season the company creates a brand-new production, which remains secret until the day the curtain finally rises.

More Than Entertainment

But sheer popularity is not the only reason why you should experience Shen Yun. Perhaps because of its profound mission, watching Shen Yun gives you the feeling of partaking in something historic, in the resurrection of a long lost world. It is the world of ancient China, the Middle Kingdom that can no longer be seen even in China today. It is a world where divine beings and humans interact, a magical world of myth and legend.

And it is a world that speaks a universal language. The performance includes bilingual MCs who provide brief preludes to each story. But more importantly, classical Chinese dance and music speak directly to the heart, resonating with the audience on many levels.

Many audience reviews speak of leaving the theater with indescribable happiness, inspiration, even a newfound sense of peace.

The performance “touched the deepest part of my soul,” wrote Maria Banks from Los Angeles in one review posted on Shen Yun’s guestbook. “Shortly after returning home, my tears broke through again and again. It feels as though my heart’s been washed clean. Gratefully yours.”

“Brilliant. Mind-blowing,” another wrote after watching Shen Yun in Toronto. “Heavenly music and dance evoke a land of purity, where the good always prevails.”

Not Made in China

“Actually in China today, you can no longer see performances of genuine traditional Chinese culture,” says principal dancer and choreographer Yungchia Chen. Chen grew up in China, later moved to Taiwan, won numerous awards throughout his dancing career, and finally found his calling with Shen Yun.

“Shen Yun is making every effort to bring back the most authentic, most beautiful part of Chinese culture—through dance,” he says. “For example, the story of a mother tattooing four words on her son’s back is about loyalty. The legend of splitting the mountain is about filial piety, and the tale of Wu Song battling the tiger is about courageously helping others.”

Five Millennia on Stage

“There are countless stories in the 5,000 years of Chinese civilization,” Chen says. “The challenge is to find stories you can depict on stage. In a play, actors can speak, but in dance you have just a few minutes to tell a story, and do so with clarity in a moving way.”

Year after year, Chen and his colleagues succeed in doing just that. Shen Yun’s performances have become a staple for many celebrities and veteran theatergoers alike. The company’s success has also attracted a constant stream of new talent.

Shen Yun is home to an impressive number of artists from around the world. And these artists take Shen Yun’s mission to heart. This can be seen in their energy and joyful enthusiasm on stage, as well as their seamless cooperation, the type that can only arise from a common sense of greater purpose.

“When dancing, sometimes there is an instant when you feel like our hearts are all together, united,” says Shen Yun choreographer Michelle Ren. “That moment is really sacred,” she says, “and in it, you can see pure beauty.”

Shen Yun will be performing at Sydney Lyric Theatre 28 March-2 April. Tickets and information at: