Friday, 29 September 2017

Takayama Autumn Festival Float Exhibition

Come see the festival that is considered one of Japan’s Three Most Beautiful Festivals: the Takayama Autumn Festival.

During this festival you can see 11 “yatai” floats that are completely different from the ones that are shown during the spring.

In addition to the beautifully-crafted festival floats, you can watch skillfully controlled “karakuri” marionette dolls, parades of Edo-period watchmen, and many other kinds of events that showcase the beauty and tradition of the Hida region.


※October 9th (Mon)
・Exhibition of the Floats= 9:00am~4:00pm
・”Karakuri” Marionette Performances= 12:00pm, 2:00pm
・Float Parade (four floats)= 1:30pm
・”Goshinko” Festival Procession= 1:00pm
・Night Festival= 6:00pm~9:00pm

※October 10th (Tue)
・Exhibition of the Floats= 9:00am~4:00pm
・”Karakuri” Marionette Performances= 11:00am, 1:00pm
・”Goshinko” Festival Procession= 8:30am, 1:30pm

Venue Area around Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine

#takayama #festival #hidatakayama #yatai #unesco #autumn #fall #parade #gifu#tradition

Viet Nam’s biggest ferris wheel launched in Nha Trang

Vinpearl Ferris Wheel which is regarded as the biggest of its kind in Viet Nam has been launched at Vinpearl Land Nha Trang.

The 120m-high wheel has 60 cabins capable of carrying up to 480 passengers. It offers a panoramic view of the central coastal city.

The wheel called Vinpearl Sky Wheel has been recognized as Viet Nam’s largest wheel by the Guinness World Records, as large as the famous Melbourne Star in Australia and Sky Dream Fukuoka in Japan.

Invested by Vingroup JSC (Vingroup), the Vinpearl Land Nha Trang covers on an area of 70 hectares. The park comprises sports and cultural areas with about 90 entertainment woks.


Another 110 hotel rooms and suites will be added to Sydney’s accommodation inventory in November when Veriu Central opens near Central Station.

The $15 million refurbishment will enhance the heritage-listed Wentworth House building, combining old world elegance with contemporary style.

Hotel guests will also have free access to a fleet of bicycles to explore the city.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

IEEE opens the European Technology Centre in Vienna, expanding global presence

Centre to focus on collaboration, support and services for global technical community, addressing needs of industry, academia and government institutions

IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization of engineers, scientists and allied professionals dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity, announced the opening of the European Technology Centre in Vienna. The Centre will provide support and services to the European technical community, focusing specifically on the needs of industry, academia and governmental institutions.

“Establishing the European Technology Centre marks an important step in furthering IEEE’s global, strategic activities within Europe and beyond,” said Karen Bartleson, IEEE president and CEO. “We see a strong foundation for collaboration and look forward to contributing important technology and policy initiatives that will help grow and strengthen the European science and innovation ecosystem.”

With more than 423,000 members worldwide, including over 55,000 in Europe, IEEE brings a global perspective and strong membership base of professionals who are leading authorities in world changing technologies from computing, communications and sustainable energy systems to IoT, blockchain, biomedical engineering and many more. IEEE inspires a global community to solve shared industry and societal challenges by leveraging technology to address important global issues. IEEE nurtures, develops and advances technologies worldwide through standards development, supports the incubation of new innovations, produces highly cited publications, organizes major conferences and offers a wide range of professional and educational programs.

IEEE plans to expand on a number of strategic initiatives including the European Public Policy Initiative which aims to increase the dialogue between the European technology community and European policy makers and regulators through expert working groups in areas such as energy and information and communications technology (ICT). Activities of the European Public Policy Initiative include developing public policy position statements and organizing policy-related events, among others.

Current engagements of the European Technology Centre include participation in the European
Multi-Stakeholder Platform on ICT Standardisation and in the European Innovation Summit.

We are more than happy that such a prestigious and globally leading association has chosen Vienna for its office and this supports and underlines Vienna‘s position as headquarters for international not for profit associations.“ Christian Mutschlechner, Director of the Vienna Convention Bureau comments on the occasion of the official opening of the IEEE office in Vienna.

IEEE contacts in Vienna include Dr. Clara Neppel, Senior Director, European Business Operations, (, and Dr. Hermann Brand, European Standards Affairs Director (

Final Early Bird Call For Airlie Beach Festival of Music

Where in Australia can you see 74 bands for the princely sum of about $3 each?

The answer is Airlie Beach, where the annual Festival of Music from November 10-12 will feature international, national and emerging acts.

Big names like Leo Sayer, Glen Matlock (The Sex Pistols), The Baby Animals, Sneaky Sound System, Kate Ceberano and Shannon Noll will mix it up with other crowd favourites in the festival’s waterfront main marquee.

Meanwhile popular acts like 8 Ball Aitken and The Hillbilly Goats will play the additional 17 venues from the outskirts of Cannonvale to downtown Airlie Beach.

Passes are required to enter any of the festival’s ticketed venues but to get the best value for money you need to be quick.

Early bird specials on one and three-day passes close on October 1, with tickets costing $245 for the full three days and $130 for a single day until that date.

Festival founder Gavin Butlin said this was a price that was too good to miss.

“We’re pretty much one of the cheapest festivals in Australia – it works out at about $3 a band,” he said.

“Let’s just say you went to Brisbane and saw the Baby Animals on Friday night, Leo Sayer on the Saturday and Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols on Sunday, you’d probably spend hundreds of dollars in tickets just to see those three, let alone the other 71 bands.

“Plus you get a Thursday night jam session in the three-day ticket price - and that’s a great night.”

For people travelling from across Australia to be at the event, Mr Butlin had another important message.

“There is still plenty of accommodation in the Whitsundays to choose from,” he said.

“ A lot of the local accommodation houses are telling me they’ve taken their listings off Wotif and for that weekend, so people are going online and thinking there’s nothing available – but we’ve got plenty of packages – people have just got to go to our website and check it out.”

One of the festival’s accommodation partners is the newly refurbished Mantra Club Croc on the edge of Airlie Beach.

Here, general manager Luke Harley says one third of the hotel’s rooms have already been reserved for the festival’s all-inclusive package deals.

“But you have to book through the Airlie Beach Festival of Music website not by direct contact with the hotel,” Mr Harley said, adding, “we’re going to have music and we’ll be doing transfers from the hotel as well, so we’re not just a bed and breakfast but an atmospheric location for the event.”

Jeff Aquilina from Airlie’s atHotel Group, stressed this was an opportunity for visitors to experience both a premier destination and a major event.

“We’ve been proud partners of the festival since its inception,” he said.

“Our Waters Edge Resort, in particular, tends to host a good chunk of the visiting acts. And from our perspective, the Airlie Beach Festival of Music is one of the key major events in Airlie Beach.

“It’s a fantastic weekend for the town – there’s a real buzz in the air. Over the last two years we’ve seen greater visitation from outside the region, which is obviously great for Queensland and great for GDP. These people tend to stay and make a bit more of a holiday of it.

“Certainly, the demand is greater than normal for accommodation during that weekend but we still have rooms available right from our Whitsunday Vista lead-in four star property, to our flagship resort Marina Shores.”

For more information or to book a package including festival tickets, accommodation and even flights, visit

UNWTO General Assembly’s 22nd Session Took Place in Chengdu

The United Nations World Tourism Organization, the UN agency overseeing the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally-accessible tourism, held the 22nd of its biennial assemblies in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

Chengdu was the second Chinese city to host the event, which previously came to Beijing in 2003. 

The 21st session, at which Chengdu was chosen by voting as the venue for 2017, was held in Medellin, Colombia. 

At the 22nd session, the organization elected a new secretary general, discussed the latest global developments in the tourist sector, and announced a new blueprint for the tourism industry. 

The Chinese National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and UNWTO co-hosted a roundtable focusing on China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, and advocated to establish an alliance of cooperation in tourism among the countries and regions along the Belt and Road. 

The theme of the assembly was “Tourism and Sustainable Development Goals – Journey to 2030”, and took place at the InterContinental Century City Convention Center in Chengdu from the 11th through the 16th of September, 2017

More information is available here.

Ly Son island expected to become geomorphological tourism site

The central province of Quang Ngai should turn its Ly Son island district into a distinctive geomorphological tourism site, said Associate Professor Dr. Vu Cao Minh from the Institute of Geological Sciences under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology.

Located in the north-east of Quang Ngai province, about 27 kilometres from the mainland, Ly Son island boasts unique geographic conditions which are highly valued by researchers.

Among nearly ten kinds of geological formations, bizarre volcanic craters fascinate researchers most. A thick layer of sediment containing argillite, siltstone, sandstone and breccias was discovered at the eastern area of Thoi Loi Mountain.

In addition, a range of 50-metre high rocks, stretching hundreds of metres like a giant carpet, coupled with turquoise sea water, have made the island landscape even more gorgeous.

Lava also formed choppy basaltic cliffs along Tien beach on Be (small) island. Experts said that the structure is rather rare and it only appears on Be island and some other places in the world.

Minh said that construction carried out under the island district’s master plan must not be a blot on the original landscape and it should dignify the height of the volcanic craters. Explosive architecture, or volcano-inspired architecture, should be applied to draw the attention of tourists.

The district should invest in entertainment facilities and shopping malls to serve visitors’ demands, he added.

In addition, special tourism products should be created, including discovery tours to link Lon (big) island with Be island or scuba diving to see submarine volcanoes and coral reefs, the expert suggested.

The province is seeking UNESCO regognition of Ly Son island as a global geopark. Thus, it is necessary for the district to raise public awareness of environmental protection and management.


Peak Hill Gold Mine’s new gold mining themed entrance and revitalisation works were officially opened this week by NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall.

Mr Marshall said, “The Peak Hill Gold Mine is a key driver of the Peak Hill visitor economy, and we're proud to be supporting Parkes Shire Council's efforts in revitalising the visitor experience at the mine through our Regional Visitor Economy Fund.”

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

P&O Cruises To Revolutionise Its Guest Experience With Ocean Medallion-Enabled Grand Class Vessel in 2020

P&O Cruises’ guests will be at the leading edge of a global revolution in the cruise experience when the line welcomes its first Ocean Medallion-enabled ship, Golden Princess, to the brand in 2020.

Ocean Medallion is a new enhanced cruise holiday experience that uses a wearable device – powered by a first-of-its-kind interactive technology platform - to enable a level of service and personalisation never before considered possible.

P&O Cruises will offer its own unique Ocean Medallion enabled guest experiences in a way that makes it even easier to offer great value holidays to like-minded Aussies who want to celebrate good times with the home-grown brand.

The technology, which is expected to be a game-changer for the guest experience, will be launched first on Princess Cruises later this year on Regal Princess in the Caribbean, followed by five additional ships in 2018 including the 2600-guest Golden Princess in Australia. Additional Princess ships will be Ocean Medallion enabled in 2019 and 2020 including the larger 3000+ guest Ruby Princess which will replace Golden Princess in serving Princess guests in Australia.

Carnival Australia Executive Chairman Ann Sherry also announced that Carnival Cruise Line intends to increase its Australia operation to two ships sailing full-time in 2020.

Ms Sherry said the Corporation was strategically realigning the Australian business to ensure it was at the cutting edge of guest expectations and had solid foundations.

“Carnival’s commitment to this market and the decision to put P&O Cruises’ guests at the heart of industry innovation through Ocean Medallion is a mark of respect for the Australian consumer,” Ms Sherry said.

Key decisions are:
· Ocean Medallion-enabled Golden Princess will sail under the P&O Cruises brand from 2020.
· P&O Cruises’ fleet will be refreshed over time.
· Princess Cruises will replace Golden Princess with the larger 3000+ guest Ruby Princess which will be Ocean Medallion-enabled before her arrival, sailing alongside flagship Majestic Princess.
· Carnival Cruise Line intends to increase its Australia operation to two ships sailing full-time in 2020. The detailed deployment will be announced in May 2018. As part of the strategic realignment, Carnival Splendor will remain within Carnival Cruise Line’s global fleet.

“Seven of Carnival Corporation’s nine cruise brands sail in this market and we intend to further strengthen our leadership position,” Ms Sherry said.

“In fact, this is a year of milestones for our Australian business: P&O Cruises marks a staggering 85 years as the home-grown cruise line, Princess Cruises celebrates more than 40 years sailing in Australia while Carnival Cruise Line notches up its five year anniversary.

“Our brands have pioneered the growth of the industry and set the industry up for success, and today’s announcement is about taking deliberate and strategic steps for the future of the business. We are making sure our locally-based fleet is fit-for-purpose and is at the cutting edge of revolutionising the cruise experience for Australian guests.”

See All the Best Attractions with Big Bus

Welcome to Big Bus Tours, the largest privately owned open top sightseeing tour company in the world. Providing memorable experiences in 19 cities across three continents, Big Bus Tours prides itself in its outstanding customer service, exceptional tour content, big experiences and big smiles. The current portfolio includes Sydney, Abu Dhabi, Budapest, Chicago, Dubai, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Las Vegas, London, Miami, Muscat, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome, Shanghai, Vienna, Washington and of course – San Francisco! Whichever city you're visiting, Big Bus hop-on hop-off sightseeing tours are tailored to showcase all that's unique to that particular city. Explore iconic buildings, monuments, landmarks and famous attractions. Go big with Big Bus!

Explore San Francisco on Big Bus

Explore San Francisco’s landmarks on a Big Bus hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour. Enjoy the ride as you cruise on an open-top bus and learn the city's unique history, with the choice of a personal recorded commentary, available in 10 languages, or an entertaining live commentary. The best way to discover all that San Francisco has to offer, this unique city tour has 20 stops for guests to hop-on or hop-off to visit attractions and points of interest from Fisherman’s Wharf to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Immerse yourself in San Francisco’s diverse culture, beautiful parks, stunning architecture and picturesque views.

Panoramic Night Tour of San Francisco with Big Bus

In addition to its daytime hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour, Big Bus Tours also offers a special Panoramic Night Tour of San Francisco on its signature open-top buses. Take in the sights of the city after dark with a two-hour night tour of the city from Big Bus Tours, with fantastic photo opportunities of the Golden Gate Bridge and skyline by night.

Explore Sausalito with Big Bus

Discover distinctive boutiques, a wide selection of restaurants and cafes, and unique art galleries with a Big Bus Tour to Sausalito. Dine with spectacular views of the bay, relax in the park, or explore the narrow streets in the hills of this quaint town. A premier destination and popular day trip for San Francisco visitors, Sausalito spills down its hillside locale and offers picture-perfect views of San Francisco across the bay.


Parkes Elvis Festival

Enjoy a fantastic evening of great entertainment as CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope celebrate the start of the 2018 Parkes Elvis Festival at The Dish. 

Parkes Shire's two great icons are brought together again with Wayne Cooper as Elvis Sincerely and the TCB Singers performing right under the world famous CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope - THE DISH! 

Wednesday 10 January, 6pm. Tickets available from

#parkeselvis #68comeback #thedish #visitparkes

Vancouver’s newest entertainment destination Parq Vancouver set to debut September 29, 2017

Parq Vancouver
Downtown Vancouver’s ever-changing skyline will evolve once again when the city’s newest entertainment destination, Parq Vancouver, opens its doors on Friday, September 29, 2017. A celebratory roll of the dice on the casino floor will mark the occasion.

Built to meet LEED Gold environmental standards, Parq Vancouver is the largest private development in British Columbia, delivering everything in one stunning space; including two world-class luxury hotels, a coveted culinary line-up, a new standard in convention hospitality, state-of-the-art gaming, and a transformative outdoor experience that is unique to Vancouver and uniquely Vancouver.

From its second-floor entrance at Gate G of BC Place, to its floor-to-ceiling windows and curated art collection, Parq Vancouver connects in every way to the dynamic culture and energy of the city. The Park, a stunning sixth-floor 30,000-square-foot outdoor space and the resort’s crown jewel, features more than 200 native pines and pays homage to the natural beauty of British Columbia.

Marking an introduction to Western Canada and bridged by The Park and all of the resort’s amenities, Parq Vancouver features JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and the DOUGLAS, an Autograph Collection Hotel.

With a lobby featuring a full-sized replica Douglas fir encased in glass, the DOUGLAS represents a balanced dialogue of nature and city. The DOUGLAS joins the diverse and dynamic portfolio of more than 100 Autograph Collection Hotels around the world that are independent and one of a kind Its 178 rooms and 10 suites, designed by Vincent Celano and created by Rob Wells, are located between the seventh and 17th floors, and are designed for the experiential traveller.

Parq Vancouver’s luxury status is further elevated by the region’s first JW Marriott. Designed by Toronto-based Studio Munge and boasting 281 rooms and 48 suites located between the sixth and 25th floors – as well as Canada’s first Spa by JW – the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver delivers sophisticated design, intuitive service, and thoughtfully crafted enriching experiences.

James Beard Award-nominated duo comprised of restaurateur Elizabeth Blau and Canadian Chef Kim Canteenwalla of Blau + Associates will debut eight distinctive restaurants and lounges at Parq Vancouver, introducing new flavour to downtown’s flourishing culinary scene. The food and beverage portfolio draws inspiration from the cuisines of the Pacific Northwest, as well as the pair’s international travels and discoveries.

With more than 60,000 square feet of well-appointed, fully accessible and flexible space, Parq Vancouver redefines the meeting and convention experience, offering 13 ballrooms, boardrooms, and meeting rooms, including the 15,604-square-foot Parq Grand Ballroom, the largest hotel ballroom in the city.

The second and third floor gaming levels – bathed in natural light by floor-to-ceiling windows – feature 600 slot machines, 75 table games, a poker room, and 11 exclusive salons for a private gaming experience.


Parq Vancouver
Fresh on the scene as a leading international entertainment destination, Parq is at the heart of downtown Vancouver’s energetic entertainment district. Built to meet LEED Gold Standards, Parq Vancouver’s dynamic offerings include two luxury and lifestyle hotels within one complex, Western Canada’s first JW Marriott Hotel and a first-to-market Autograph Collection Hotel, the DOUGLAS. 

Parq Vancouver offers locals and guests instant access to a wide range of amenities, including 72,000 square feet of world-class casino space spanning across two floors and featuring 11 private gaming salons, a 30,000 square-foot rooftop park, more than 60,000 square feet of well-appointed, flexible meeting and event space, and eight chef-driven restaurants and lounges from the world’s foremost international restaurant developers and James Beard Award nominees restaurateur Elizabeth Blau, and her Canadian husband, award-winning Chef Kim Canteenwalla. 

For more information or reservations, please visit for general information on visiting British Columbia please visit


From Australian documentaries The Last Goldfish and My Mother’s Lost Children, to intimate Yiddish drama Menashe, fascinating biopic Rebel in the Rye, and award-winning hits In Between and Keep the Change, the Jewish International Film Festival is back for another year of outstanding Jewish cinema from all over the world (25 October – 22 November).

With 65 films from 26 countries, the Festival builds on a 28 year long history of bringing the best of Jewish cinema to Australia, presenting 38 features and 23 documentaries to audiences in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra. The Festival will also screen films by the inaugural recipients of the JIFF Short Film Fund, Dream House and Still Alive.

“I am thrilled with the incredible creativity and diverse storytelling of our films in the line-up this year. With the first commercial release Yiddish language film in over 50 years, and fantastic events including a live jazz night and a collaboration with Sydney Writer’s Festival, we’re extremely proud to present our 2017 program,” said Jewish International Film Festival Artistic Director, Eddie Tamir.

“We’ll see you at the movies! JIFF and chill.”


The Festival kicks off with film festival favourite Menashe, an intimate drama critically acclaimed worldwide. Shot entirely in the Yiddish language and in the insular New York Hasidic community, it follows a widowed father struggling to hold onto his beloved son.

Closing the Festival will be The Rebel in the Rye, starring Kevin Spacey (American Beauty) and Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Days of Future Past). A fascinating biopic on the infamously-reclusive author JD Salinger, the film covers everything from Salinger’s Jewish upbringing and his WWII service, to the completion of his iconic novel The Catcher in the Rye.


Highlights of the 2017 program include: moving drama In Between, following three Palestinian women living in Tel Aviv balancing traditional and modern culture, and winner of the Best Feature at Tribeca 2017, Keep the Change, a charming romantic comedy about the blossoming relationship between two people at a support group.

Not to be missed is Bombshell: the Hedy Lamarr Story, narrated by Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds) and featuring interviews with Mel Brooks (The Producers) and Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), the eye-opening showbiz documentary shines a light on Hollywood queen Hedy Lamarr.

The Festival is also a great chance to catch poignant screwball rom-com The Wedding Plan, and Ben-Gurion, Epilogue, a rare, recently unearthed 1968 interview with Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, with director Yariv Mozer taking part in an audience Q&A post-screening.


Showcasing the best of local Jewish filmmaking, the Festival will screen The Last Goldfish, an autobiographical documentary by Sydney’s Su Goldfish as she searches for her lost family, from Australia to Trinidad and WWII Germany. Rich with archival images, the film echoes through all those touched by forced migration. Goldfish will also engage in audience Q&As after screenings.

The Festival will also screen two films from Melbourne filmmaker Danny Ben-Moshe: My Mother’s Lost Children, an uplifting documentary following Ben-Moshe’s own family, when two children, stolen from them, reappear after 40 years; and Shalom Bollywood: the Untold Story of Indian Cinema, a fascinating look into the overlooked influence of Jewish women in Bollywood – the first dance, kiss, talkie and colour film. Ben-Moshe will take part in an audience Q&A for both films.


Veteran Jewish actor Elliott Gould (American History X) stars in Humor Me, a hilarious father-son comedy with Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), and romantic drama The History of Love alongside Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia).

Star-studded docos include: The Pulitzer at 100, featuring Helen Mirren (The Queen), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), and Liev Schreiber (X-Men: Origins) about the renowned Pulitzer Prize; and Never be Boring: Billy Wilder, an intimate look at six-time Oscar winner Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot).

Music fans can’t miss: documentaries Body and Soul: An American Bridge, the history of African-Americans and Jews kinship throughout jazz, featuring US jazz icons Johnny Green, and Louis Armstrong; Bang! The Bert Berns Story, about the hugely-influential, often-forgotten songwriter Bert Berns; and musical dramedy Band Aid, starring Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen alongside Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy).

Also screening is: The Boy Downstairs starring Zosia Mamet (Girls) and Sarah Ramos (Parenthood); The Last Poker Game, starring Martin Landau (Ed Wood) and Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas); and Monkey Business: the Adventures of Curious George's Creators, about the extraordinary lives of the creators of the beloved Curious George books.


Showcasing a multitude of real-life stories, the Festival will screen Vitch, a provocative look at the charismatic caricature and mime artist Eddie Levkovitch. Israeli director Sigal Bujman and Eddie Vitch’s daughters, Lisa Cortez and Shani De Jesus, will attend the Festival and take part in an audience Q&A.

The doco line-up also includes: Muhi: Generally Temporary, a humanising glimpse into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, following a young boy stuck in immigration limbo; Heaven in Auschwitz, recounting the seemingly impossible - pleasant memories of Auschwitz; and Isabel Gathof’s Moritz Daniel Oppenheim: The First Jewish Painter, about the seminal Jewish artist. Gathof will also be a guest of the Festival.

Also screening is Exit: Music, an intriguing examination of lost Jewish music during the Holocaust from the ARC Ensemble, the Grammy-nominated group dedicated to recovering politically suppressed music, and Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story, an in-depth documentary on the iconic short story writer.


The program will also highlight some of the hottest contemporary Israeli films including, People That Are Not Me, an urban drama exploring Gen Y loneliness, and The Women’s Balcony, a lively dramedy about a group of women who declare war to repair their synagogue’s broken balcony.

Scaffolding, winner of Best Israeli Feature Film and Best Actor at the 2017 Jerusalem Film Festival will also screen, as well as the critically acclaimedThe Cakemaker, from first time filmmaker Ofir Raul Graizer is heart-kneading feature about a gay German baker and a weary Israeli widow who grieve for the same man.

Family ties are tested in The Testament, about a leading Orthodox historian who discovers the shocking truth about his Holocaust survivor mother, and Past Life, an engrossing drama from acclaimed Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher.


Two TV series will also get their big screen premieres at the Festival. Murder in Polna, a two-part miniseries based on the infamously grisly murder trial of Leopold Hilsnner, accused of murdering a teenage girl and using her blood for Passover bread in 1899; and Russian Jews, a landmark three-part series hosted by veteran Russian journalist Leonid Parfyonov, providing extensive insight into Russian Jew history.


The Festival has lined up a plethora of special events across Sydney and Melbourne, including filmmaker Q&As, pop-ups, in-depth talks, and more.

Sydney highlight events include: Sydney Writers’ Festival Artistic Director Michaela McGuire sharing her favourite Etgar Keret short story before the screening of Etgar Keret: Based on a True Story; So You Think You Can Kugel, JIFF’s inaugural kugel bake-off presented by the Monday Morning Cooking Club; and an intriguing talk by Holocaust researcher Professor Dr. Konrad Kwiet on the frailty of memory, after the screening of The Bloom of Yesterday.

Melbourne audiences can keep the good times rolling with: a hip-swaying live jazz night following Body and Soul: An American Bridge presented with the Jewish Museum of Australia’s Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait exhibition; a special presentation discussing female perspectives in portraying intimacy, sex and sexuality in collaboration with Melbourne Women In Film Festival; and a sumptuous spread of Eastern European treats supplied by After the Tears between sessions of The Russian Jews trilogy.



2017 Jewish International Film Festival screening dates:

Melbourne 25 October – 22 November Classic Cinemas, Elsternwick
26 October – 21 November Lido Cinemas, Hawthorn
Sydney 26 October – 22 November Event Cinemas Bondi Junction
11 November – 22 November Hayden Orpheum, Cremorne
Brisbane 26 October – 1 November New Farm Cinemas, New Farm
Canberra 2 November – 12 November Dendy Cinemas, Canberra
Perth 8 November – 19 November Greater Union Cinemas, Morley

Stay up to date with JIFF:

The Rees Hotel Queenstown's National Survey on 'Hotel Comforts When Away From Home' Surprises

It seems Kiwis have particular tastes when it comes to their “preferred hotel comforts when away from home”, according to a recent national survey conducted by an award winning Queenstown 5 star property.

The Rees Hotel in preparation for launching its new luxury ‘Rees Residences, wanted to gauge what former guests thought and surveyed 5000 previous guests, who didn’t hold back on their feedback.

“So often we think we know what people want, but when you actually go to the market you actually find out – and some of the results were surprising” says General Manager, Mark Rose.

The hotel’s multiple choice snap survey, with one qualitative question, was completed predominantly by employed Gen X women in their forties who shared their favourite and not so favourite top picks.

Gen Y followed by Baby Boomers were the next highest respondents. Guests aged older than 75 or those travellers younger than 21 submitted the least number of responses. Men made up 26% of the replies while women, at 73%, dominated; firmly supporting 2016 academic research by the George Washington University School of Business that nearly two-thirds of travellers today are women.

The majority travel offshore at least annually and were not shy sharing feedback about the strangest, weirdest or funniest amenity that they’ve discovered in their hotel room. Survey respondents also confessed to taking hotel amenities home with them – a 64% majority.

Top hotel and room amenities combined and ranked in order were:

1. free high speed Wi-Fi
2. complimentary breakfast
3. car parking
4. a room with a view
5. daily housekeeping.

The items and amenities that made the least favourite list were the in-room Bible, turn down service and complimentary magazine selection. The survey identified a parochial preference for ‘Linden Leaves’ when it came to a choice of bathroom amenity brands in order of popularity. The Kiwi brand beat international rivals; L'OCCITANE en Provence, Hermes and Molton Brown.

The list of “funniest, weirdest or strangest hotel amenity” was long, varied and appeared to cover the breadth of the world’s hotel inventories and cultural expectations, given the honest feedback.

Many guests were surprised to sight condoms in the mini bar and thought hotel shower caps were “very 1980’s”. Another recalls a coconut placed in the room that read "Don't disturb". Las Vegas amenities were unforgettable. One party received a “gun and gentlemen’s club guide, in a sketchy hotel off the Strip”. The USA definitely lives up to its name being the land of the free - “free ladies under wear” provided by housekeeping apparently.

Musical bathrooms were a common theme in Japan hotels due to memories of toilet rolls that played music “every time you used it” and “singing toilet seats”. Free teddy bears, face cloths folded into animals and “animal PJ’s” made many laugh upon discovery. So did a pair of brand new crocs - ready for the taking.

Mechanical contraptions in-room had some perturbed. One guest upon opening his door was greeted with the sight of a “putter and practice target machine”. Another couple, got the keys to their apartment to find a fully operational “bread maker which contained freshly baked bread” on arrival.

Others spotted paradoxes such as brand spanking new ashtrays in a non-smoking hotel room. The most frightening amenity was “a very scary looking large knife which was apparently a letter opener”. This contrasted with a tale about a cat in the room “to make me feel at home” and a selection of back scratchers and bath salts for comfort.

A practical touch was the “Luggage weigher – a really great addition” said one traveller. Complimentary yoga mats and iPhones “to take with you from the hotel for GPS maps” also struck a popular chord. The most unusual was “fresh rose petals?! What am I supposed to do with those?!”

Taking all these passionate responses into account, The Rees Hotel Queenstown will now have fresh eyes and inspiration when it comes to deciding on which amenities and inhouse comforts to provide guests of the new Rees Residences.

The Rees Hotel, Queenstown, New Zealand

The Rees Hotel blends chic five star accommodation with all the comforts of home and the service and facilities of an elite international hotel. Situated on the absolute lakefront, The Rees’ terraced construction delivers complete privacy and showcases panoramic views overlooking Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables Mountains in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Its landmark restaurant is the True South Dining Room.

Princess Cruises has today announced phase two of its popular Across the Ditch Program. As the leader in trans-Tasman cruises, additions to the program have been designed to further immerse guests in New Zealand culture and cuisine. Launching on Princess’ New Zealand cruises this summer, the enhanced program will continue to offer uniquely New Zealand experiences through a series of interactive and engaging onboard and shore activities. Among the list of new additions, the admired Matariki Festival will be expanded to offer guests more opportunities to learn about Maori heritage and participate in traditional customs from authorised, local ambassadors. With a reimagined menu, guests will be able to enjoy a traditional Hangi dinner as well as New Zealand lamb and Pavlova desert. New Zealand beers, Speights Gold Medal Ale and Steinlager Pure will be added to the New Zealand beer and wine list. Over the next 12 months, 50 new shore tours will be rolled out through the program. These include: a Piha bush and beach eco tour in Auckland, a Te Puia Thermal Reserve, Maori arts and Agrodome tour in Tauranga, a Canterbury Station, Mt Sunday, and Lord of the Rings sights tour in Akaroa, and an Oamaru and Moeraki Boulders tour in Port Chalmers. “Following the success of Across the Ditch, we’ve expanded the program considerably with a more immersive offering.” said Princess Cruises Vice President Australia & New Zealand, Stuart Allison. “Australian’s love of visiting their trans-Tasman neighbours shows no signs of weaning, with Australian tourism accounting for over 50% of international cruise arrivals at a time when New Zealand is set to enjoy a season which will see upward of 280,000 cruise ship passengers. Princess carries one in three of all Australian’s who travel to New Zealand. To put that number in perspective, if Princess Cruises was a country, it would be the 6th largest source of visitors to New Zealand, just behind Japan and accounting for more guests than Korea and Canada. With the expansion of our Across the Ditch program, these guests will now be able to enjoy an even more enriched, uniquely New Zealand experience.” Fares for a 13-night roundtrip cruise on Sun Princess to New Zealand departing Sydney start from $1899** AUD per person twin share with $100 onboard credit per person, based on December 9 2017 and March 4 2018 departures. For more information visit, call 13 24 88 or see a licensed travel agent. **subject to availability, conditions apply. *Statistics sourced from Tourism New Zealand: and Cruise New Zealand:

Princess Cruises has today announced phase two of its popular Across the Ditch Program. As the leader in trans-Tasman cruises, additions to the program have been designed to further immerse guests in New Zealand culture and cuisine.

Launching on Princess’ New Zealand cruises this summer, the enhanced program will continue to offer uniquely New Zealand experiences through a series of interactive and engaging onboard and shore activities. Among the list of new additions, the admired Matariki Festival will be expanded to offer guests more opportunities to learn about Maori heritage and participate in traditional customs from authorised, local ambassadors.

With a reimagined menu, guests will be able to enjoy a traditional Hangi dinner as well as New Zealand lamb and Pavlova desert. New Zealand beers, Speights Gold Medal Ale and Steinlager Pure will be added to the New Zealand beer and wine list.

Over the next 12 months, 50 new shore tours will be rolled out through the program. These include: a Piha bush and beach eco tour in Auckland, a Te Puia Thermal Reserve, Maori arts and Agrodome tour in Tauranga, a Canterbury Station, Mt Sunday, and Lord of the Rings sights tour in Akaroa, and an Oamaru and Moeraki Boulders tour in Port Chalmers.

“Following the success of Across the Ditch, we’ve expanded the program considerably with a more immersive offering.” said Princess Cruises Vice President Australia & New Zealand, Stuart Allison.

“Australian’s love of visiting their trans-Tasman neighbours shows no signs of weaning, with Australian tourism accounting for over 50% of international cruise arrivals at a time when New Zealand is set to enjoy a season which will see upward of 280,000 cruise ship passengers. Princess carries one in three of all Australian’s who travel to New Zealand. To put that number in perspective, if Princess Cruises was a country, it would be the 6th largest source of visitors to New Zealand, just behind Japan and accounting for more guests than Korea and Canada.

With the expansion of our Across the Ditch program, these guests will now be able to enjoy an even more enriched, uniquely New Zealand experience.”

Fares for a 13-night roundtrip cruise on Sun Princess to New Zealand departing Sydney start from $1899** AUD per person twin share with $100 onboard credit per person, based on December 9 2017 and March 4 2018 departures. For more information visit, call 13 24 88 or see a licensed travel agent.

**subject to availability, conditions apply.
*Statistics sourced from Tourism New Zealand: and Cruise New Zealand:

IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific 2017 Cements Industry Foothold with Dazzling Anniversary Edition

The 25th IT&CMA and 20th CTW Asia-Pacific opened today to a furore of event highlights, activities and entertainment to deliver an unforgettable anniversary edition. The leading MICE and corporate travel management trade event for the Asia-Pacific further strengthened its place in the region, expecting to welcome close to 2,900 delegates over 3-days with more than 100 business, networking and education sessions lined up.

Part of the anniversary highlights encompassing a future-ready theme include two light-up photo walls where delegates can leave congratulatory wishes and view milestones in the doublebill events’ history, a variety of booth activities and entertainment hosted by major pavilions throughout the exhibition, a deeper industry dive down at the education and conference sessions, and a spectacular Opening Ceremony later in the evening that will reminisce all the special moments in Thailand.

Expressing his appreciation, Darren Ng, Managing Director of TTG Asia Media, reinforced, “We are grateful and honoured to have our delegates witness this milestone together. We have come a long way since IT&CMA’s inception in 1993 and CTW Asia-Pacific’s in 1998, starting this series of events when we realised that the market lacked specialisation in and around the Asia-Pacific MICE and corporate travel market. Since then, we have propelled forward alongside the industry, benchmarked against global standards and positioned our region competitively with the trust and commitment our clients have placed in us.”

Delegates were also keen to share their own IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific journeys in support of the event to reinforce the value they achieved over the years of participating. The 2017 show will feature more than 800 participating exhibitors and 590 Meetings and Incentives, Association, Corporate Travel Buyers, and Media coming together to fulfil their business objectives and market activation goals.

Expressed Shreyash Shah, Director of Sales, MICE & Leisure, Royal Cliff Hotels & Pattaya Exhibition and Convention Hall (PEACH), “We have built a successful MICE base through IT&CMA, extending our reach and interest in many markets in ASEAN and beyond. When IT&CMA was hosted at PEACH, it was also a great success with many wonderful memories. We managed to secure many corporate clients and showcase our facilities to the world through the show.”

Added Freddy Muller, Vice President Head of Corporate & Incentive Sales – Americas for Silversea Cruises, “Silversea has always been a big supporter of IT&CMA since its early days. Over the years with our constant presence, many buyers have come to recognise our brand, and our association with the MICE business. By, successfully incorporating CTW Asia-Pacific into its programme, we have also reached out directly to corporate companies and travel managers.”

IT&CMA continues to showcase the largest congregation of Convention Visitor Bureaus (CVBs) and National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) centered around the Asia-Pacific from new and returning destinations such as Chiang Mai, Dubai, Korea, Macao, Osaka, Penang, Perth, Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand. This year also sees strong support from hotel and cruise clusters like Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, Dream Cruises & Star Cruises, Frasers Hospitality, Silversea Cruises, Resorts World Sentosa, and many more.

IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific has left an indelible impression on the Thai MICE industry for the past 14 years and will continue to do so in an extension of partnership with strategic partner Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) for the next three years till 2020.

President of TCEB, Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, affirmed, “Over the past decade, IT&CMA has multiplied the number of MICE events, visitors, and interest to Thailand, by creating opportunities for local suppliers, providing outreach for our campaigns, and giving visitors hands-on experiences through FAM tours. IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific have been instrumental in showcasing our potential.”

TCEB will also host the Opening Ceremony & Welcome Reception titled “Still On My Mind” at Dusit Thani Bangkok tonight to round off Day 1. Delegates are invited to post pictures of their business events in Thailand on their social media with the hashtag ThailandStillOnMyMind and win special gifts at the reception.

For more information, log on to

Funding Boost for Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival

The Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival received a welcome injection of cash today when it was announced the event would receive $200,000 in Federal Government ‘matched’ funding.

The announcement was made this morning by Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen and Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox at Abell Point Marina, which will host the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in January 2018.

The Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival is being staged to celebrate the region being a host port for the race, an epic adventure that sees more than 700 amateur crew members and experienced skippers sail in a 40,000 nautical mile race around the globe.

When the 12 yachts pull into Abell Point Marina on January 13 they will bring with them not only the attention of the world’s media but also friends, family and supporters, attracting more than 4,000 visitors in total and injecting around $3 million into the local economy.

The Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival will run from January 13 to 29 and is a region-wide celebration for everyone – the race participants, their followers, the local community and visitors from around Australia.

There will be plenty of events and activities throughout the 17-day extravaganza including an official Welcome Event in Airlie Beach, a ‘White on Whitehaven’ Long Lunch, a ‘Coast to Cane’ golf day, a ‘Rodeo by the Reef’ and a progressive lunch sailing from restaurant to restaurant!

Tourism Whitsundays’ Sales & Marketing Manager Tash Wheeler said hosting the Clipper fleet would further enhance the Whitsundays’ reputation as a world-class sailing venue.

“The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is a unique event that attracts worldwide publicity and we are extremely proud to have been chosen as an official host port,” she said.

“It will reinforce our standing as a world-class sailing destination and it also gives us the opportunity to promote the whole region and showcase how much beauty there is from the north to the south.

“We would encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the carnival activities and events, many of which are free, and make our visiting sailors feel truly welcome. Invite your friends and family to visit and make the most of this exciting time.”

The Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival was secured through a partnership between Tourism and Events Queensland, Tourism Whitsundays, Whitsunday Regional Council and Abell Point Marina.

Whitsundays Mayor Andrew Willcox welcomed the announcement and said hosting the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in the Whitsundays was a massive coup for the region.

“This support from the Federal Government will allow Airlie Beach to host the final Australian leg of the race and give skippers, international crews and supporters the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Whitsunday region,” he said.

“The Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival will highlight the whole region with signature events such as a long lunch on iconic Whitehaven Beach, a rodeo on the coastal beaches of Bowen, a golf day in Proserpine and a large scale community welcome event.”

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race was founded in 1995 and is a biennial event. This year the fleet set sail from the UK on Sunday, August 20, on their 11-month voyage with the Whitsundays the official host port for the final stop of the race’s Australian leg.

For more information visit

Tourists to Ca Mau increase by 11 percent in eight months

More than 840,000 tourists, including 17,000 foreigners, chose the southernmost province of Ca Mau as a destination for their holidays in the first eight months of 2017, rising by 11.2 percent from a year earlier.

Tourism earned Ca Mau total revenue of nearly 400 billion VND (17.6 million USD) during the period, up 38 percent year on year.

The tourist number increase is attributable to the province’s improved service quality, diversified typical tourism products, and upgraded infrastructure at many places of interest.

Chairman of the Ngoc Hien district People’s Committee Ly Hoang Tien said in the National Day holiday from September 2 to 4, the Dat Mui and Khai Long tourism areas attracted over 30,000 visitors thanks to Ho Chi Minh Highway’s section from Nam Can district to Dat Mui commune becoming operational.

According to Nguyen Tien Hai, Chairman of the Ca Mau People’s Committee, resources mobilisation will continue to be implemented for developing infrastructure and upgrading tourist sites so as to capitalise on local tourism potential and advantages.

Management efforts will also be augmented to ensure security, order and safety for tourists at local attractions, he noted, adding that more attention will be paid to tourism cooperation with other regional localities, connecting roads to boost tourism, improving service quality, diversifying tourism products, and encouraging the community-based ecotourism.

Ca Mau is accelerating the construction of four important facilities at the Ca Mau Cape tourism area in Ngoc Hien district. The provincial Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism is also updating tourism-related information and stepping up tourism promotion activities.

The province aims to serve 1.2 million tourists this year, Hai said.


Applications to attend Australia’s largest annual travel and tourism business-to-business event, the Australian Tourism Exchange 2018 (ATE18) are now open.

ATE18 will be held from 15 to 19 April at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

For further information on the event and to register, visit the Tourism Australia website. 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Viet Nam named among 20 most beautiful countries

Viet Nam has been voted one of the 20 most beautiful countries in the world by readers of Rough Guides, the renowned British travel site.

An article on the site at advises foreign tourists and those with a passion for traveling and adventure tours to drop by the Southeast Asian country, which has been ranked the world’s seventh-fastest growing travel destination by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

The site sings the praises of the astonishing rock formations in the UNESCO world heritage site Ha Long Bay and the endless beauty of terraced rice fields in the mystical mountain town of Sa Pa. Travellers should not miss these priceless nature treasures, the site advises.


Organisers of the 2018 Australian Deaf Games are inviting registrations for the event.

The Games, which will be held in Albury and Wodonga in January, are made up of 15 different sporting events accompanied by an exciting social program.

The 2018 Australian Deaf Games is supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

Entries close on 30 September.

Monday, 25 September 2017


The Scenic Skyway at Blue Mountains Scenic World is getting a $3 million upgrade.

The new Scenic Skyway, which turns 60 next year, will increase visitor capacity by 30 per cent, and promises shorter queues and a more spacious visitor experience.

The Scenic Skyway will be closed from 9 October, re-opening in mid-November.

Scenic World’s other popular attractions will operate as usual with reduced ticket prices.

Literature on Hue royal architecture - Viet Nam’s unique world documentary heritage

Literature on Hue royal architecture was honored as a world documentary heritage, the third of the Nguyen dynasty which ruled Viet Nam between 1802 and 1945. The poems highlight the authors’ pride of Viet Nam’s traditions and beautiful scenery.

The beautiful verses in Chinese script were carved, enameled, or embossed on Hue Royal Court structures. They were the best written by Nguyen kings, their relatives, and mandarins about Viet Nam’s peace, independence, natural beauty, and agricultural promotion.

Nguyen Phuoc Hai Trung, Vice Director of the Hue Relics Preservation Centre, said: “Literature on Hue royal architecture of the Nguyen dynasty is unique. The poems are engraved on different positions of palaces. It’s estimated that nearly 3,000 compartments have verses. It can either be one or several compartments to make up a complete poem”.

The intact beautiful art and intellectual works were used as ornaments of the buildings. The scripts made up a handicraft product that required artisans to master calligraphy and ancient techniques. Trung further elaborated: “The scripts could be either placed in red lacquer trimmed with gold or enameled on bronze. They were carved in different calligraphic styles. The letters were written by the Nguyen Kings and mandarins who were good at calligraphy”.

UNESCO recognized literature on Hue royal architecture as a documentary heritage of the Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific in June, last year, for its variable content depending on where it was placed and for its usage as decorative items.

All literature of the Hue royal architecture has been digitalized by the Hue Relics Preservation Centre and will soon be available on the Internet.


Broken Hill’s mining history, its iconic Living Desert Sculptures, and national parks will soon be in reach of more visitors thanks to the opening of a new resort.

The new $5 million Broken Hill Outback Resort will open in March, and offers cabin, caravan and camping accommodation developed around the historic Mt Gipps Hotel.

The hotel, which was built in 1870 but has been closed since 1987, will be restored to include a bar, restaurant and reception.

The resort will overlook the beautiful Barrier Ranges and the Sturt Desert.

Broken Hill is Australia’s first Heritage-Listed city and is popular with visitors seeking the peace and open spaces unique to the NSW Outback.

Find out more about Broken Hill.

Sunday, 24 September 2017


NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall visited Parkes this week to launch the 2018 Parkes Elvis Festival program.

Held every January to mark Elvis’s birthday, the festival attracts more than 13,000 overnight visitors and generates more than $9 million in visitor spend for NSW.

The event, which is themed ’68 Comeback Special, has a packed line-up including a Concert Series, Elvis Gospel Service, Miss Priscilla Dinner and much more.

Elvis fans making the annual pilgrimage to Parkes will have more travel options in 2018, with the popular Elvis Express being joined by an extra train, the Blue Suede Express, and new coach services from Tamworth and Canberra.

Book your tickets to the festival and find out more about transport links.

International Famtrip delegation study Binh Thuan’s tourism products

Representatives from travel companies, buyers and journalists from India, the US, France, Mexico and Italy scoped out tourism products in the central province of Binh Thuan on September 9-10.

The Famtrip delegation visited a number of tourist attractions in the locality like white sand dunes in Mui Ne, While Lake (Bau Trang) in Hoa Thang commune (Bac Binh district) and Poshanu Cham Tower, and examined accommodation services in Ham Tien-Mui Ne and Phan Thiet city.

On this occasion, the delegation engaged in an exchange with leaders of the local tourism sector and travel companies in Binh Thuan, where they were briefed on potential and strength of the province.

According to the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Binh Thuan has more than 420 accommodation establishments with nearly 14,000 rooms, including three five-star and 29 four-star facilities.

Apart from beach resorts, water sports and exploring tours, Binh Thuan has joined hands with Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Noi, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong and southern central localities to develop tours of various types.

The number of visitors to Binh Thuan has risen by 10 percent each year since 2013, of which foreign holiday-makers increased by 12 percent.

In the first six months of 2017, the province welcomed 2.3 million tourists, of which 295,000 are foreigners.


Image credit: Ballina Tourism
A new travel video, presented by HotelsCombined Brand Ambassador, Lynette Bolton, and delivered in partnership with Destination NSW, will be aired to millions of potential travellers across Australia and New Zealand this month as part the NSW Government’s $300,000 North Coast Flood Recovery Support Program.

The five-minute clip will be shown on National Geographic’s television and online channels to highlight the North Coast’s stunning beaches, food, wine and accommodation.

Tweed and Ballina will also feature in future episodes of Sydney Weekender.

Social media influencer Lauren Bath also visited the Northern Rivers this week to capture images that will entice visitors to the region’s national parks, beaches and the charming communities of Tweed.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Everything You Need to Know For San Francisco's Fleet Week

Since 1981, San Francisco Fleet Week has grown into one of the most popular annual events in San Francisco, attracting more than one million attendees every year. Residents take great pride in the history that the United States Armed Forces have had in San Francisco, and Fleet Week is a prime example of precisely that. If you can fit Fleet Week into your schedule, we promise you won't be disappointed.

What Is Fleet Week?

Fleet Week is a celebration of the United States Armed Forces, specifically the United States Navy. The event itself is about a week long and consists of numerous events and activities that are appropriate for any age group. Perhaps the most exciting part of Fleet Week is the air show. This feat of aerial expertise involves some of the Navy's most skilled fighter pilots performing a number of aerial acrobatics and simulated dogfights that will have everyone's jaws dropping. The Parade of Ships is another popular event, involving some of the U.S. Navy's most impressive ships. Each of these ships move in formation under the Golden Gate Bridge, providing an excellent view for anyone lucky enough to be on the bridge during the event. Since this is San Francisco, there are also lots of musical events, as well as food and drink options for children and adults alike. Visitors can even buy a burger for a sailor -- just one way to show your gratitude for the hard work and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform!

Where to Watch

Getting a great view during Fleet Week will help ensure that you get the most out of your trip. These are a few of the best places to watch Fleet Week events.

Crissy Field
If you want to be right in the heart of Fleet Week action, Crissy Field is the place to be. Crissy Field used to be a U.S. Army airfield, but today it offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and easy access to all Fleet Week events. For most of the year, Crissy Field is a fairly quiet and laid-back public park. During Fleet Week, however, the area comes alive with attractions and activities.

Marina Green
Marina Green is a large grassy area located just east of Crissy Field. Close to the Palace of Fine Arts and Fort Mason, Marina Green is a smaller space for Fleet Week viewing.

Where to Stay During Fleet Week

Fleet Week is one of the most popular times to visit San Francisco, which means you'll want to choose the neighborhood you stay in as early as possible. Fortunately, there are three neighborhoods which are best for proximity to Fleet Week activities while also having attractions of their own.

Fisherman's Wharf
If you want to have some distance between you and the Fleet Week action, Fisherman's Wharf is an excellent neighborhood to stay in. Fisherman's Wharf has plenty of attractions in its own right. Located in the northeast part of the city, Fisherman's Wharf is perhaps best known for PIER 39 and Ghirardelli Sqiare. Here, you'll find plenty of restaurants and shops to fill your time. If you want to stick with the theme of Fleet Week, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is located nearby as well. You can learn about the history of the United States Navy and even get a look at the USS Pampanito, a submarine in service during World War II.

Fisherman's Wharf is also well-known for an abundance of excellent hotels. While there are plenty to choose from, two that stand out are the Best Western Tuscan Hotel and Pier 2620. The Tuscan Hotel is a European-style upscale hotel and is widely regarded as one of the best places to stay in San Francisco. Pier 2620 is a recently renovated, modern hotel with excellent views of the wharf. Find a hotel.

Nob Hill
One of the most exclusive neighborhoods in San Francisco, Nob Hill has some of the best hotels with an elevated view of Fleet Week activities, including the air show! Popular Nob Hill hotels include The Scarlet Huntington and Stanford Court. Find a hotel.

Pacific Heights
Pacific Heights offers close proximity to the activities while still putting a few blocks between you and the crowds. Both Hotel Drisco and The Laurel Inn are in Pacific Heights and are popular choices during Fleet Week.

If you're planning to visit San Francisco for Fleet Week, make sure to make the most of your trip by choosing the neighborhood that best suits you. Find a hotel.

Amadeus and MTCO Launch Mekong Trends Aviation Seminar

Free Mekong Trends Seminar on Aviation in the Greater Mekong Subregion, hosted by Amadeus in Bangkok on October 10th, 2017.

Amadeus and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) is jointly organising the first Mekong Trends Aviation Seminar, which is scheduled to take place in Bangkok on the 10th of October.

The inaugural Mekong Trends Aviation Seminar will highlight the key insights of the recently published Mekong Trends Snapshot on Air Transport in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). Both the report and the seminar intend to emphasise the importance of aviation in the development of the region’s tourism.

Nanda Pillai, Regional Director, South and South East Asia, Airlines, Amadeus Asia Pacific, said: “Together with MTCO we look forward to hosting a stimulating discussion with the GMS travel industry on the further evolution of aviation in the region, and the existing challenges as well as opportunities for airlines. Air transport brings regions, economies and people closer together, and we’re committed to working with our airline customers and industry partners like MTCO to ensure it can continue to grow and develop sustainably, for the greater good of all.”

According to the report, over the last 20 years, air transport in the GMS helped to open up many destinations in the region such as Siem Reap in Cambodia, Luang Prabang in Lao PDR, Danang in Vietnam, Mandalay in Myanmar and Guilin in Guangxi, the People’s Republic of China.

The trend accelerated with the emergence of budget airlines. New air routes today link destinations such as Sihanoukville in Cambodia, Khon Kaen in Thailand, and Pakse in Lao PDR, destinations which were barely noticed by travellers before.

Jens Thraenhart, MTCO Executive Director, said: “Therefore, it is fitting that our first Mekong Trends Snapshot covers GMS Aviation, providing a quick overview and some key insights on important developments and trends in the region’s aviation industry.”

Mekong Trends is a public-private partnership to deliver valuable industry intelligence on specific and relevant topics. Published for the industry on behalf of the MTCO and the National Tourism Organisations of the six member governments of the GMS, Mekong Trends is owned and operated by CEN International.

The first Mekong Trends Snapshot on Air Transport in the GMS was released in June this year during the Mekong Tourism Forum 2017, a platform for GMS travel industry collaboration supported by the Asian Development Bank. The report can be downloaded for free at

Key insights of the report will be used to discuss the state of aviation and connectivity in the Mekong Region during the Mekong Trends Aviation Seminar hosted by Amadeus. The seminar will take place on 10 October, from 16:00-18:00, at the Amadeus Executive Briefing Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.

Entry is free, but registration is required. For more information, please click here.

Contact information
Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
Executive Director
Jens Thraenhart (

Night sky magic in store for stargazers and astro-tourists

Stargazers and astro-tourists will be treated to three days of night sky magic at the Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival.

The biennial festival runs from October 13-15 in Mt Cook Village and Tekapo and celebrates the Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park as one of the best stargazing locations in the world.

Keynote speakers include NASA scientist Dr Natalie Batalha, who was named as one of the 100 most influential people on Earth by Time Magazine in 2017 for her contributions to the discovery of habitable exoplanets. Dr Batalha will discuss the possibility of finding potentially habitable environments in the not-so-distant future.Festival-goers will learn about the night sky, the effects of light pollution and gain an understanding of outer space through a mix of scientific, educational and cultural events, such as lectures, planetarium shows and a photography exhibition.

Another festival highlight includes a lecture and video presentation by award-winning photographer and time-lapse filmmaker Mark Gee, whose short film Full Moon Silhouettes gained international acclaim. Gee enjoys the challenge of combining New Zealand’s striking landscapes with the ethereal beauty of the night sky in new, creative ways.

“We’re extremely lucky to have the likes of Dr Natalie Batalha and Mark Gee on board for the festival, alongside several other exciting speakers,” says Professor John Hearnshaw of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury. “We hope the varied programme will attract all sorts of people, from international visitors and academics to amateur astronomers and families with school-age children.”

The Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park region has some of the most beautiful scenery in New Zealand; from clear starry nights and crisp sunny days to turquoise blue lakes and snow-capped mountains. It is home to the University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory in Tekapo and the southern hemisphere’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, which at 4,300 square kilometres is also the largest in the southern hemisphere.

The dark sky reserve is ‘gold-rated’ due to the quality of its almost light-pollution-free skies, devoid of urban light. On a clear night, a spectacular number of stars are visible to the naked eye.

Festival organisers
The Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival is organised by the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve Board in partnership with the University of Canterbury through the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Festival location
The main festival venue is the iconic Hermitage Hotel in Mt Cook Village, including the adjoining Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre and Digital Dome Planetarium. Some events will be held nearby, including in Tekapo.

Tickets are on sale now and some events are free. For more information, visit


Balloon Safaris with Hunter Valley Ballooning
An exciting new ballooning event will light up the skies above the Roche Estate in the Hunter Valley on 30 September.

Hunter Valley Night Glow is a spectacular display of nine hot-air balloons that will light their burners in the dark, choreographed to music.

There will also be a food and wine night market (picnic blankets are encouraged), musical performances and pilots will be on hand to explain how the balloons are operated.

The evening will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display.

The event is the latest addition to the Balloon Aloft Fiesta which runs from Friday, 29 September until Monday, 2 October. To find out more, visit Balloon Aloft.

Dive with a local Ama diver! (Mie, Japan)

Want to experience to diving with an actual Ama woman diver? Why not visit Ise-shima in Mie, Japan?

Ama are free-diving women who catch shellfish and seaweed by hands without any mechanical diving equipment from the rocky sea since 3000 years ago. 

Ama are always careful not to overfish the waters, using conventional tools to measure the growth of their catch, ensuring the protection of the ocean’s natural resources.

Between 1000 and 2000 Ama fish the waters across Japan from Tohoku to Kyushu, with approximately 750 residing in Ise-Shima alone. 

In 2017, the harvesting techniques of Ama were officially designated an important folk cultural property.

Experience it yourself: "Dive with a local Ama diver!"

For more details, please check out the links below.

Free walking tours to be offered to international visitors

Visitors walking in Hoi An Ancient Town
From the end of September 2017, international visitors to Viet Nam will have the chance to take free walking tours in Ho Chi Minh city, Can Tho, Da Nang, Ha Noi, Hoi An and Ha Long.

The tours will be arranged every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with an itinerary visiting famous attractions with totally free guides.

The tourism product is designed by Vietravel Company to create a free pedestrian network, helping tourists to have more experiences. International visitors and overseas Vietnamese can register for the tours.

In Ha Noi, foreign tourists will experience the attraction of the product “When the old town lights up”, including the following destinations: Hanoi Opera House, Ly Thai To flower garden, Ngoc Son temple - The Huc bridge - Pen tower, Ba Kieu temple, and memorial house to President Ho Chi Minh.

While in Ho Chi Minh city, they will enjoy many products, including the highlighted tour “Pearl of the Far East” that will bring them to the famous spots such as Ben Thanh market, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Post Office.


The cool-climate wines and seasonal produce of Orange will soon be within reach of more visitors thanks to a tourism funding boost from the NSW Government.

Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW Rick Colless said Ross Hill Wines had secured $150,000 from Destination NSW’s Regional Tourism Fund, which will go towards the development of a new cooking school and onsite function centre.

“Hatted chefs, Michael Manners and Simonn Hawke will lead the cooking school using some of region’s best local produce, while the function centre will conduct wine and spirit education courses, providing fantastic upskilling opportunities for the local hospitality and tourism industry,” Mr Colless said.

Visit Ross Hill Wines to find out more.