Saturday, 30 June 2018


The Sydney Science Festival returns in 2018 with a program of astronomical proportions. Taking place from Tuesday 7 – Sunday 19 August, the Festival rockets into venues around Sydney and is overflowing with hands on science experiences for all ages.

Featuring 13 days jam-packed with over 200 events across 90 venues, the Sydney Science Festival brings together some of the greatest minds in science today, including Sydney Science Festival Ambassador and astronomer, Lisa Harvey-Smith, Indigenous Astronomer Kirsten Banks, leading Artificial Intelligence expert Ellen Broad, A.I. researcher Toby Walsh, comedian and public healthpractitioner Alanta Colley, former Greens leaderBob Brown, and 2018 Australian of the Year quantum physicist Michelle Simmons.

“Innovation is an essential part of any growing city. The Sydney Science Festival gives industry leaders and emerging talent a unique opportunity to both share and showcase their vision for a smarter future. With such a diverse line-up of speakers and exhibitions hosted across some of Sydney’s most iconic venues, including the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo, I’m confident that this year’s Festival will be our most ambitious and successful to date,” said Minister for the Arts, The Hon. Don Harwin.

Now in its fourth year, Sydney Science Festival is produced by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) and the Australian Museum as part of National Science Week, in partnership with Inspiring Australia.
“Last year saw 70,000 fans attend over 180 events, presented by 60 partners at the Sydney Science Festival. The incredible program for this year’s Festival provides an opportunity for the general public, both young and old, to come together to understand and marvel at how science influences every aspect of our lives. As STEAM disciplines become increasing important to future economies museums such as MAAS have a key role to play in engaging and educating students in real-world applications of STEAM subjects,” said MAAS Director of Programs and Engagement, Tristan Sharp.

On Thursday 9 August, after-hours favourite MAASLive Lates: Science returns to the Powerhouse Museum to celebrate the launch of the Festival. This free event is your chance meet experts, get creative with a range of hands-on activities, tour exhibitions and chat with curators in a huge night of science.

Program Highlights
What happens when galaxies collide? It might sound like an abstract question, but it's one that our descendants might need to worry about. Sydney Science Festival Ambassador,Lisa Harvey-Smith presents a lively talk on how a future collision between our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and its nearest neighbour will bring dramatic changes to our night sky. Lisa Harvey-Smith Keynote: When Galaxies Collide will take place on Friday 10 August, the possible galaxy collision on the other hand wont be for at least 3.8 billion years!

Get set for some outdoor fun with Science in the Swamp at Centennial Park. The FREE day is a favourite among families and this year’s theme “Dinosaur vs Superpower” will combine two of kid’s favourites. With roving dinosaurs and scientists on hand to point out amazing super powers found in nature, it’s an action packed day of fun. And don’t forget to come in your superhero outfit!

More family-focused events include the hands-on Super Science Saturday at the Australian Museum and Big Science Day at the Powerhouse Museum where interactive science shows and demonstrations will have the museum buzzing with science action.

A highlight of the Festival will be a new exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. Art, science and speculation converge in Human Non-Humanan exhibition that asks “what makes us human and how might humans adapt in the future?”  The exhibition features four art commissions that incorporate architecture, design, robotics, biotechnology, chemistry, animism, film and performance to consider the entanglement between humans and technology. Featuring artists Maria Fernanda Cardoso, Lindsay Kelley, Ken Thaiday and Liam Young, Human Non-Human explores the themes of food, work, sex and belief.

Sit back and enjoy a special screening of the landmark documentary The Living Universe - It’s Time to Meet the Neighbours. The film is an extraplanetary search for life on other planets. After the film, a panel of eminent scientists, space engineers, biologists and philosophers will answer the audience’s burning questions. The Living Universe will take place on Thursday 9 August at Event Cinemas, George Street.

Take a look into the future with Good Robot/Bad Robot - Living with intelligent machines/living with artificial intelligenceLeading Artificial Intelligence expert Ellen Broad, A.I. researcher Toby Walsh and MIT Media Lab technologist Hae Won Park will try to answer the question “if robots can be everything from carers to warriors, what does this mean not just for human lives, but for the way we understand human intelligence, human values, and humanity itself?”

Celebrate the women of science in GenWomen: Scientists Smash the Glass Ceiling where six women from six generations of science, including Indigenous Astronomer Kirsten Banks, share their experiences and challenge the stereotypes and preconceptions about what being a scientist means.

Alanta Colley: Parasites Lost combines science communication, storytelling, and comedy in a parable on parasites. Join comedian and public health practitioner Alanta Colley as she takes audiences on an adventure, across the world and through her intestine; and learn about some of the world's cheekiest micro-organisms, and how she contracted each of them. Alanta Colley: Parasites Lost takes place on Thursday 9 – 12 August.

Established in 1999, the Jack Beale Lecture Series provides an opportunity for a prominent individual to examine Australia's environmental responsibilities, opportunities and performance within a global context. On Wednesday 15 August at the University of NSW, the series invites former Greens Leader and environmentalist Bob Brown to share his insights.

Five years ago, 2018 Australian of the Year Professor Michelle Simmons and her team developed the world's first transistor made from a single atom, as well as the world's thinnest wire. Now she is looking to build a quantum computer capable of solving problems in minutes, which would otherwise take thousands of years. Join Professor Simmons for an insightful discussion on her work launching Australia into “the space race of the computing era” in The Einstein Lecture: The Quantum Computing Revolution by Australian of the Year 2018 - Michelle Simmons. The lecture takes place Tuesday 14 August at the University of NSW.

This year Sydney Science Festival features 25 events in suburban libraries throughout Sydney. From Castle Hill, to Liverpool, Sutherland, Blacktown and Parramatta there are 25 scientists are ready to meet local communities and talk about their research. The libraries have experts on everything from women’s brains, robots, technology of the future, gut health, Antarctica, bilingualism and children’s brains.

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki tackles the big issues in the universe today, like how air conditioners are sexist and whether there could be life on one of Saturn’s moons in Dr Karl Out West on Wednesday 15 August.

Innovation Games is a free event full of new ways to taste, touch and see science in action. At Innovation Games on Saturday 18 August, Sydney Olympic Park will be buzzing with interactive displays, an augmented reality treasure hunt, live stage shows, games, gadgets, film and food.

The MAAS Indigenous Sciences Symposium 2018 is dedicated to honouring the next generation of Indigenous scientists and those who are supporting their development. Join in on two days of events to celebrate 60 000 years of technological advancement and eco-sustainable practices. Presenters include recipients of the CSIRO Indigenous STEM and IDX awards for their exceptional contribution to the advancement of Indigenous sciences and technology locally, nationally and globally.

The full Sydney Science Festival program is available online at For more information about National Science Week events visit

Pho Hien set to be new tourism hub

province of Hung Yen 
The northern province of Hung Yen is branding itself as the gateway to Ha Noi city, in an effort to attract tourists and market its cultural sites and products.

In its tourism development plan, recently approved by the provincial authorities, the ancient Pho Hien (Hien Street) relic complex and the Hong (Red) River eco-travelling lodge have been listed as trademarks of Hung Yen tourism.

The province has set a goal to develop tourism industry as a key sector for economic development. The province seeks to tap the abundance of local products, as well as improve facilities, and promote its cultural identity.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Duy Hung said the province has set out a variety of basic targets for development, in which priority was given to the development of the tourism industry; facilities and products that appeal to tourists; and particularly the protection of natural resources and the environment.

The province also directed local tourism authorities to focus on improving transport infrastructure and urged the business sector to invest in this field, said Hung.

He said, on the one hand, the province will focus on domestic markets, mainly attracting tourists from Hanoi and other provinces in the Red River Delta as well as other provinces in the country.

On the other hand, he added, it will expand to international markets including those in Europe, Australia, and North America.

Those in Northeast Asia and ASEAN member countries will also be considered, according to Hung.

Hung Yen has, for several years, undertaken measures to preserve the ancient Pho Hien relic complex, which is recognised as a special national heritage site.

Numerous projects have been implemented in the locality since 1997 to restore Pho Hien, in a bid to protect its cultural and historic value. Repairs have been made to the Xich Dang Temple of Literature, the Chuong Pagoda, the Mau (Goddess) Temple, and the Dong Do Quang Hoi and Hien Pagodas, among others.

Now the province has cordoned off nearly 2,000 hectares of land to carry out a master plan to preserve ancient Pho Hien in line with local tourism development.

Furthermore, the province has paid consistent attention to restoring Pho Hien traditional cultural festivals in order to maximise the tourism potential of the locality. Worshipping places in the complex remain particularly popular among domestic tourists.

The Pho Hien relic complex contains countless pagodas and temples built in Vietnamese, Chinese and western architectural styles. A Catholic church boasting a gothic architectural style was built in Pho Hien during the 17th century.

The complex was also once a bustling commercial port on the Red River, reaching its heyday in the 17th and 18th centuries. Pho Hien was second only to the imperial capital city of Thang Long as a trading point. It was well-known among foreign traders, especially those from China, the Netherlands, Japan and France.
Source: VNA


New route: Leading Swiss carrier Edelweiss has announced the start of a bi-weekly service between HCM City and Zurich starting on November 15 this year.

Leading Swiss carrier Edelweiss has announced the start of a bi-weekly service between HCM City and Zurich starting on November 15 this year.

It will operate an Airbus A340-300 aircraft with a capacity of 314 passengers.

The flights will leave HCM City on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Some travel agencies are already accepting bookings and plan to sell tickets online.

The first ever air route between Việt Nam and Switzerland will reduce travel time, and promote trade and tourism, officials said.

Edelweiss hopes to carry 10,500 visitors from Switzerland to HCM City every year.

Read full article at Viet Nam News:


More than 59 million travellers visited the five countries that are members of the Greater Mekong Sub-region during 2017, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Annual Tourism Monitor 2018.

Monitoring travel movements in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, the report noted arrivals grew 13% giving the region 59.9 million arrivals.

However, Thailand dominates the inbound travel count accounting for more than 35 million, while Vietnam, is the second largest with 12.9 million arrivals in 2017.

The good news for the GMS five is the robust 13% growth rate that out performs the average growth rate of 5.8% for the Asia-Pacific region.

The positive performance added 6.9 million visits to the GMS countries, while collectively the five countries had a 48.4% market share when compared with all tourist arrivals to the 10-member ASEAN bloc of which they are members.

“As a bloc, these five destinations are coming close to equalling the volume of foreign arrivals into the other destinations of the Southeast Asia sub-region,” the PATA annual report noted.

The two big players in the GMS are Thailand with a 59% share of the Mekong travel pie and Vietnam a 22% slice.

“This represents a slight loss of share for Thailand since 2013, but an increase for Vietnam as that destination makes its presence in the international travel arena increasingly felt.”

Asia remains the dominant supplier of foreign arrivals to the GMS countries, followed by Europe, but travel from the latter is losing ground to massive surges from China and South Korea.

The two countries led the list of top 10 travel suppliers to the GMS in 2017. China supplied 16 million, up 22.8% and South Korea 4.7 million, up 31.3%.

Read full article at TTRWeekly:

Friday, 29 June 2018

Baolau Travel Search Engine Completes Expansion in the Mekong Region

Baolau Co Founder and CEO Alberto Moreno
Baolau is taking a step closer to become the leading multitransport travel search engine for the Greater Mekong Sub-region. First conceived as a travel planning tool with information of timetables and fares for transportation in Vietnam, Baolau converted to a ticket booking platform for the three domestic flight carriers –Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air and Jetstar Pacific–, the state-owned rail operator Vietnam Railways as well as the major bus and ferry companies. Having succeeded in Vietnam, the company expanded its business operations to Cambodia, Laos and Thailand throughout 2016 and 2017. 

2018 marks a new stage in the development strategy, as Baolau focuses on becoming the largest multi-transport search provider in the entire GMS, supported by MIST: Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism start-up accelerator. 

“As a participant of MIST initiative launched during the MEKONG TOURISM FORUM 2017 in Luang Prabang, Laos, we had the opportunity to benefit from the Market Access program. We travelled to Myanmar to meet potential partners, sign cooperation agreements and integrate additional transport content in our platform,” explains Alberto Moreno, General Director for Baolau. 

Following the successful venture into Myanmar, Baolau integrated flight routes of four domestic airlines and bus routes operated by a major local bus company. 

After Myanmar, Baolau looked into China: “Having established bus and train links connecting Kunming and Nanning from Laos and Vietnam, we thought about expanding our operations in Guangxi and Yunnan, as both provinces are part of the Greater Mekong Sub-region. This move aims to fulfil our mission to serve the six GMS countries,” tells Alberto Moreno. 

Just recently, Baolau added a number of airlines based in Guangxi and Yunnan to its inventory. Travelers can now use the search engine to book domestic and international flights to and from Kunming and Nanning as well as other tourist destinations such as Dali, Lijiang and Jinghong (Xishuangbanna) in Yunnan as well as Guilin in Guangxi. 

“We will not stop at flights. To deliver a real multi-transport solution, we will integrate train routes connecting the Mekong region with China as well as Malaysia,” adds Alberto Moreno. Last April, the company announced online ticket booking for rail services operated by Malaysia’s rail company, KTM, connecting Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to the train network of the State Railway of Thailand. 

The team is now confident to integrate rail services in Guangxi and Yunnan provinces by the end of the year, then extend its coverage to the rest of China. 

2019 should see the addition of further transportation services into Baolau search and booking engine, especially bus and ferry routes across the entire region. Finally, an important development in the process of international expansion will be the opening of a branch company in Thailand. “Thailand is already our second largest market in terms of sales. We believe that our presence in the country will help us to consolidate our position and add more services for domestic and international travellers,” tells Alberto Moreno. 

About Baolau 
Baolau is a travel search engine that calculates routes and facilitates ticket booking for multiple modes of transportation in the Mekong region: flights, trains, buses and ferries. Founded in 2013, the company started in Vietnam and has since expanded to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and China. 

More information about Baolau at

18th Annual Helpmann Awards Performers, Hosts, Presenters and Broadcast details announced

  • Performers, Hosts, Presenters and
  • Broadcast details announced 
  • A sensational line up of stars and industry heavyweights come together to honour and celebrate Australia’s most prestigious live performance Awards 

This year, the winners of the 2018 Helpmann Awards will be announced at two events over two big nights. Both events will be directed by one of Australia’s most internationally renowned producers, Olivier and MTV Award winner, choreographer and director David Atkins OAM. This year, for the first time, the Helpmann Awards will be broadcast live across the country, exclusively on the ABC.

Helpmann Awards Act I Sunday 15 July 6pm Sydney Town Hall
Act I is an up close, industry-insider event at cocktail hour celebrating the very best creative, designer and supporting roles and will include Awards for Best Presentation for Children, Best Regional Touring Production and Best Special Event.

Act I will be hosted by celebrated broadcaster, director, producer, actor, advisor and artistic director Rhoda Roberts AM and Michael Lynch CBE AO, one of Australia’s most experienced and internationally renowned Arts Administrators. The titans of musical direction, Vanessa Scammell and Max Lambert, will play on dual grand pianos. Performers will include Chloe Dallimore and Amanda Laing, musical theatre rising star Georgina Hopson, Sydney Youth Orchestra quintet, and dynamic operatic duo Jenny Lui and Andrew Jones.

Helpmann Award Act II Monday 16 July 2018 Capitol Theatre Sydney
Staged on the set of Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical, this Black Tie event will present Awards in all live performance genres along with celebrating the 2017 Centenary JC Williamson and Sue Nattrass Award recipients, and honouring colleagues In Memoriam.

Hosts for the night include Olivier & Tony Nominee, performer and writer, Tony Sheldon; acclaimed choreographer Raphael Bonachela; the multiple Helpmann Award winning mezzo soprano Jacqueline Dark and celebrated musical theatre star and TV host David Campbell.

Stellar performances will include a vivacious ‘stampede of sass’ with the cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical performing “It’s Raining Men”and an evocative duet from ab [intra] with electrifying Sydney Dance Company dancers Davide Di Giovanni and Charmene Yap. The stars from the celebrated new Australian musical Muriel’s Wedding, Maggie McKenna and Madeleine Jones, will perform Amazing as their characters, Muriel and Rhonda, affirm their new friendship.

Triple ARIA award winners, the quiet achievers of Australian pop My Friend the Chocolate Cake, with David Bridie, Helen Mountfort and Hope Csutoros will perform the entrancing “Weep” as part of the In Memoriam.

The biggest line up of Australia leading female vocalists will bring the show home with songs from the hit musical and film Funny Girl. Divas and funny girls themselves, Michala Banas (Upper Middle Bogan), Natalie Bassingthwaite(The X Factor), Casey Donovan (Australian Idol), Virginia Gay (First Tuesday Book Club), Verity Hunt-Ballard (Mary Poppins), Dami Im (Eurovision), Maggie McKenna (Muriel’s Wedding the Musical), Queenie van der Zandt(2017 Helpmann Awards Host) and Zahra Newman (Book of Mormon) will have the audience standing in their seats and cheering for more.

The Red Carpet will roll outside the Capitol Theatre from 6pm hosted by the diva of dresses and darling of Australian musical theatre, Rhonda Burchmore OAM.

The Helpmann Awards Act II will broadcast live from the Capitol Theatre onABC on Monday 16 July at 9.30pm. Highlight from the previous night, Act I, will also be part of the broadcast.

ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie said ‘The Helpmann Awards are an incredible celebration of the contribution the live performance industry makes to our country’s culture. The ABC is proud to champion this industry by broadcasting the event for Australians to enjoy the amazing performances and appreciate the hard work and talent of all the nominees.’

2018 Helpmann Awards Artistic Director David Atkins OAM said ‘I am proud and honoured to be part of the 18th annual Helpmann Awards in what will be a landmark year for the event.

This year the Helpmann’s will not only celebrate every genre of our thriving performing arts industry, they will also acknowledge and exalt the shared passion, joy and creative endeavours of those practitioners, both on stage and behind the scenes, that give life to the art of live performance’.

The Helpmann Awards are the premier celebration of Australia’s vibrant live performance industry. The Awards recognise distinguished achievement and excellence in Australia’s live performance sectors including musicals, contemporary music, comedy, opera and classical music, theatre, ballet, dance and physical theatre, presentations for children, regional touring and cabaret.

The Helpmann Awards are supported by the NSW Government, via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

Tickets for the 18th annual Helpmann Awards Act I and Act II are now on sale via Ticketmaster.

Don’t miss the showbiz night of nights presented live in Sydney and on ABC TV Monday 16 July 9.30pm. Catch up anytime on ABC iview

Helpmann Awards ACT I
Sunday 15 July 2018
Sydney Town Hall 6pm
Show only Tickets $29*

Helpmann Awards ACT II
Monday 16 July 2018
Capitol Theatre 8pm,
Red Carpet 6 – 7.30pm
Gold Pass $175*
(Show + Souvenir Programme + After Party)
Show only tickets $69*

*Subject to availability. An additional handling fee of $8.55 is applicable to all online bookings per transaction.

A full list of Helpmann Award nominations is available from:

Join the conversation and stay connected with Helpmann Awards news
Official hashtag: #Helpmanns
Twitter: @HelpmannAwards
Instagram: @Helpmann_Awards

Korean painters launch 30 more murals in Quang Nam village

mural in Quang Nam village
Volunteers from the Republic of Korea have completed some 30 more murals on walls of houses in the coastal commune of Tam Thanh in Tam Ky, the capital of central Quang Nam Province.

Korean volunteers have completed some 30 more murals on walls of houses in the coastal commune of Tam Thanh in Tam Ky, Quang Nam province. (Photo: NDO)

It is part of the second stage of the mural village project, namely “Art for a Better Community”, a joint initiative of the Korean Community Art Exchange Programme and the People’s Committee of Quang Nam to support the growth of local tourism industry.

On May 10, a group of Korean volunteers, comprising painters and fine arts teachers, together with local young people started working on the murals, depicting portraits of Vietnamese people, the nature, cartoon characters and the Viet Nam-RoK friendship, in Thuong Thanh village.

They also put on “new clothes” for more than 50 houses in the village with many paintings after 20 days of work.

The second phase of the project was inspired by the success of the first phase which saw Korean artists turning the old walls of 100 houses in Tam Thanh Village, Tam Thanh Commune into colourful murals in 2016.

Photographers from the RoK, the Philippines and Turkey flocked to take photos at the village for an exhibition in Seoul and other cities last year.-
Source: VNA


It's official, Aussie travellers just can't get enough of NSW's captivating coastline, country hospitality and rural charm, with the State once again recording its highest ever number of visitors, nights and expenditure.

According to the latest National Visitor Survey (NVS) for the Year Ending March 2018, visitors from around Australia have come in greater numbers, stayed longer and spent more in NSW than ever before.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said, “The NSW Government has invested record funding to grow the NSW visitor economy and rural and regional areas and the numbers speak for themselves.

“Rural and regional NSW has exceeded that of regional Queensland by $88 million and we’ve achieved double-digit growth into rural and regional NSW—growing at 11 per cent."

Mr Marshall said more than 32 million Australians chose to visit NSW (up almost 10 per cent), staying 101 million nights (up five per cent) and spending more than $19 billion (up almost 15 per cent).

“NSW leads Australia in terms of visitors, nights and expenditure. NSW’s domestic overnight expenditure growth was almost triple Queensland’s and nearly double Victoria’s, once again proving that we are number one on the ladder,” Mr Marshall said.

Destination NSW CEO Sandra Chipchase said, "These fantastic results also underscore the investment that the NSW Government is making in marketing campaigns, events and in vital new infrastructure such as the Sydney International Convention Centre and initiatives such as the NSW First Program and the creation of the Destination Networks, which are helping tourism businesses across the State promote, develop and sell their product."


More than 59 million travellers visited the five countries that are members of the Greater Mekong Sub-region during 2017, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Annual Tourism Monitor 2018.

Monitoring travel movements in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, the report noted arrivals grew 13% giving the region 59.9 million arrivals.

However, Thailand dominates the inbound travel count accounting for more than 35 million, while Vietnam, is the second largest with 12.9 million arrivals in 2017.

The good news for the GMS five is the robust 13% growth rate that out performs the average growth rate of 5.8% for the Asia-Pacific region.

The positive performance added 6.9 million visits to the GMS countries, while collectively the five countries had a 48.4% market share when compared with all tourist arrivals to the 10-member ASEAN bloc of which they are members.

“As a bloc, these five destinations are coming close to equalling the volume of foreign arrivals into the other destinations of the Southeast Asia sub-region,” the PATA annual report noted.

The two big players in the GMS are Thailand with a 59% share of the Mekong travel pie and Vietnam a 22% slice.

“This represents a slight loss of share for Thailand since 2013, but an increase for Vietnam as that destination makes its presence in the international travel arena increasingly felt.”

Asia remains the dominant supplier of foreign arrivals to the GMS countries, followed by Europe, but travel from the latter is losing ground to massive surges from China and South Korea.

The two countries led the list of top 10 travel suppliers to the GMS in 2017. China supplied 16 million, up 22.8% and South Korea 4.7 million, up 31.3%.

The others were: Laos 2.1 million, up 20.3%; Russia 1.4 million (+23%); India 1.5 million (+17.9%); Thailand 3.1 million (+6.9%); Cambodia 1.1 million (+21.2%); Japan 2.7 million (+6.7%), Taiwan 1.4 (+14.2%); USA 2 million (+7.6%).

The report suggested there was considerable potential to increase arrivals from Vietnam to other GMS countries while tapping the potential of Indonesia and Singapore.

(Note: China is the sixth member of the GMS, but data for China was not included).

Link to annual report at Pata’s online store:


Ethnic Padaung women walk past a church in Demoso
township in Kayah State in eastern Myanmar.
Photo: EPA
Tourism in Kayah State is booming and domestic travelers visiting the state increased by up to 97 percent while the number of foreign travelers rose by 41 pc last year compared with the previous year, according to the 2018 Kayah State Investment Opportunity Survey.

In 2014, just over 11,000 domestic travellers and 2600 foreign tourists visited the state. It jumped to 33,000 local visitors and nearly 9000 foreign tourists last year, data from the state Statistics Department showed.

The recent data is still low, but more Thai tourists are expected to visit Kayah once the border gate opens between Me-se and Khum Yuam in Mae Hong Son, Thailand, U Nay Moe Aung, managing director of 9 Generation Force, a Loikaw based travel and tours company, told The Myanmar Times.

“The four districts including Mae Hong Son that are connected to the border area with Kayah got seven million tourists last year. Most travellers went to ethnic minority villages that can be found on the Kayah side, too. That is why we hope to attract at least 50,000 to 100,000 tourists from Thailand when the border gate opens,” he said.

The Kayah government has opened community-based tourism in ethnic minority villages such as Hta Nee La Leh and Pan Pet in Dimawso township and Htay Kho and Daw Tama Gyi in Hpruso township.

Pan Pet and Hta Nee La Leh received the ASEAN Community-Based Tourism Award 2017 at the 36th ASEAN Tourism Forum held in Singapore in January last year.

Recently the Kayah government tried to open the border gate between Me-se and Khum Yuam for travellers between the two countries who want to stay at least six nights and seven days in Myanmar, U Nay Moe Aung said.

The Department of Hotels and Tourism in Loikaw has been trying to get permission to open the border crossing since 2015, but the effort was delayed because the border areas have not yet been mapped and one armed ethnic group in the state has yet to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.

Kayah has signed a border trade deal with Thailand but hasn’t signed the MoU on tourism, he said.

“The Kayah State minister is trying to sign the MoU with Thailand to open the border crossing for tourism. Loikaw is not too far from Inle Lake, where Thais like to go. Recently some people from Thailand came on friendship tours but they have to get permission from the Myanmar government one month ahead if they want to go through the border areas in Kayah,” U Nay Moe Aung said.

The survey also noted that the number of hotels and motels in the state rose to 18 with 384 rooms in 2017, up from eight with 175 rooms in 2014.

Another 15 hotels are being constructed throughout the state, including 13 with a total of 422 rooms in Loikaw district.

The government also re-opened some restricted areas in Kayah in 2017. Today foreign visitors can visit parts of Shardaw township as long they get permission from local authorities.

“Tourists cannot stay overnight at Pan Pet, Hta Nee La Leh, Daw Tama Gyi and Htay Kho villages, but they can visit Hpasawng and Bawlakhe without getting permission. Hotels are being built in these areas so tourists can stay overnight,” U Nay Moe Aung said.

Read full article at The Myanmar Times:

Thursday, 28 June 2018

On a mission to serve the Mekong Region: The story of Baolau

Alberto Moreno. CEO and Founder, Baolau
Baolau celebrates five years of activity and 2018 seems to be the year of the great leap forward. 

The story behind Baolau 
The project was born in 2011, while one of the co-founders, Alberto, was living in Japan. Having received a scholarship to study and research, he had the opportunity to learn about information technologies applied to public transportation in the country. Travelling himself extensively inside Japan by train, he also became familiar with the native online route planning services. Alberto, who had previously visited Vietnam and had experienced the difficulty of travel planning, thought that the same technology could apply to other countries, especially in Southeast Asia. 

After graduating, Alberto returned to Vietnam in 2013 and proposed the idea to his colleague, Miguel. Together, they founded Baolau, after the term “bao lâu”, which means “how long does it take?” in Vietnamese. It took them a year to design the algorithm to calculate routes, aggregate data from multiple transport providers and develop the website Originally, the search engine was intended to find itineraries and provide information of schedules and prices to travellers visiting Vietnam. 

In 2015, Baolau took a step further and pioneered the concept of online ticket booking for trains, buses and ferries in Vietnam. A year later, the platform integrated ticket booking for flights in Vietnam, offering domestic and regional connections to Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand. In 2016, the company continued its international expansion by integrating train, bus and ferry services in Cambodia. Domestic and regional bus routes in Laos followed. 

In 2017, Baolau entered Thailand after the announcement by State Railway of Thailand to introduce the use of electronic train tickets. The team listed the timetables and fares in the platform and connected with SRT system for ticket booking. 

The same year, the company received investment to purse expansion in the Greater Mekong Subregion by adding regional flights in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand as well as international flights to Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia. 

In 2018, Baolau reaffirms its commitment to support the use of public transport in the GMS by adding flights and bus routes in Myanmar as well as in Guangxi and Yunnan provinces in China. 

Leading multi-transport travel search in the GMS 
This year marks a new stage in the company development. Having completed the expansion to the six GMS countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and China), Baolau becomes the largest multi-transport travel search and booking engine for the Greater Mekong Sub-region, FOR PRESS RELEASE 2 with an unmatched coverage of 150 transport providers, over 500 destinations and nearly 1,000 transportation hubs including airports, bus and rail stations and ferry ports. 

“We have built a technology that allows travellers to find their way and compare prices and travel times simultaneously for all means of transportation in the Mekong region: flights, trains, buses and ferries,” indicated Alberto Moreno, Co-founder and CEO of Baolau. 

The online service aggregates information from multiple sources and calculates transport routes between cities in real-time. It even combines multiple legs with different providers when non-direct routes are not available or are more expensive. All in one website. 

At present, the travel search engine lists 50 regional airlines serving the Greater Mekong Subregion, more than 50 bus operators, 10 ferry companies, and 14 national and private railway companies, including Vietnam Railways, Cambodia Royal Railway, State Railway of Thailand and KTM in Malaysia. 

In the near future, the platform expects to cover the rail networks in Myanmar as well as in Yunnan and Guangxi in China. “With Baolau providing a one-stop solution for the transportation problem in the GMS, we aim to facilitate travel and connectivity in the region and promote tourism in secondary destinations,” added Alberto Moreno. 

Facts and figures 
Baolau booking engine records a monthly average of 15,000 tickets only in Vietnam, its biggest market, followed by Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR. The integration of additional transport providers and routes as well as entering new markets such as Myanmar, China and Malaysia will translate into a further growth of these numbers. 

Geographically, the largest source of traffic comes from Southeast Asia (over 50%), with other users connecting from Europe (25%), North America (6%), Oceania (5.5%), Northeast Asia (3.5%) and the rest of the world. Within Europe, Germany is the largest source of users followed by Spain, the UK and France. 

The website is available in English, used by 70% of the customers, with the rest of the transactions carried out in other languages: Spanish, French, Chinese (simplified and traditional) and Japanese. As the online service is intended to serve local travellers as well, the team added Vietnamese and expects to include more languages represented in the Mekong Region. 

About Baolau 
More information about Baolau at

Potted Potter The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff

  • Back by magical demand!
  • Sydney from 19 September, Perth from 26 September, Brisbane from 2 October
  • Tickets on Sale Friday 29 June at 4pm
  • All Seven Harry Potter Books in Seventy Hilarious Minutes!

Playing to sold-out houses all over the world, POTTED POTTER takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real-life game of Quidditch) into seventy hilarious minutes. This fantastically funny show features all your favourite characters, a special appearance from a fire-breathing dragon, endless costumes, brilliant songs, ridiculous props and a generous helping of Hogwarts magic!

“Gloriously goofy. Casts the perfect spell over the audience.” - New York Times - Critics’ Picks

POTTED POTTER opens in Sydney on 19 September for 9 shows only, then Perth from 26 September for 9 shows only, and finally in Brisbane from 2 October for 10 shows only.

“Cleverly appeals to both ardent fans and parents.” - The Times, UK

Created by double Olivier Award Best Entertainment nominees Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, the show is a must-see for Potter addicts and a great introduction to the series for anyone who’s ever wondered what all the fuss is about. Even if you don’t know the difference between a Horcrux and a Hufflepuff, POTTED POTTER will make you roar with laughter. This brilliant family entertainment is perfect for ages six to Dumbledore (who is very old indeed).

“Blissfully funny, a winner in every way. This show is a crowd-pleaser.” - The Guardian, UK

POTTED POTTER has played 30 weeks off-Broadway across two sold-out seasons, as well as five West End runs, and multiple North American and Australasian tours. The show has proved hugely popular with audiences around the world and now makes a welcome return to Australia, following two previous sell-out tours in 2012 and 2014.

“Gloriously irreverent. A very lovable romp through Rowling’s back catalogue.” - Time Out, London – Critic’s Choice

Clarkson and Turner first created POTTED POTTER in 2005 for an appearance at a London bookshop, as a five-minute entertainment for fans awaiting the release of the sixth book in the series. The show grew from there into a full-length stage production, first seen at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2006, and has since toured internationally for over a decade, securing an Olivier Award nomination as Best Entertainment and Family Show. All four Potted shows (Potted Panto, Potted Sherlock, Potted Pirates and Potted Potter) have earned widespread acclaim and a fan base that crosses generations.

“Comic and affectionate. A zany hoot!” - New York Post

Written and created by Daniel Clarkson & Jefferson Turner
Direction and additional material by Richard Hurst
Set design by Simon Scullion
Lighting design by Tim Mascall
Music composed by Phil Innes
Produced by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Potted Productions

VENUE Seymour Centre
SEASON Wednesday 19 September to Sunday 23 September 2018
9 shows only
Wednesday-Friday 7.30pm
Saturday 1.30pm / 4.30pm / 7.30pm
Sunday 12noon / 3pm / 6pm

VENUE Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
SEASON Wednesday 26 September to Sunday 30 September 2016
9 shows only
Wednesday-Friday 7.30pm
Saturday 1.30pm / 4.30pm / 7.30pm
Sunday 12noon / 3pm / 6pm

VENUE Playhouse, QPAC
SEASON Tuesday 2 October to Sunday 7 October 2018
10 shows only
Tuesday-Friday 7.30pm
Saturday 1.30pm / 4.30pm / 7.30pm
Sunday 12noon / 3pm / 6pm

HCM City has eyes on India as potential tourism market

Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City’s Tourism Department is launching plans to attract more visitors from India, which is considered a market of great potential.

At the May meeting on socio-economic issues of the municipal People’s Committee on May 30, Director of the department Bui Ta Hoang Vu said his agency is working with several airlines to promote Viet Nam to India. He noted that while 1.6 million Indians travelled to Thailand in 2017, only 170,000 visited Viet Nam.

The low-cost airline Vietjet Air is scheduled to open direct flights between HCM City and India this September.

The Tourism Department has developed products designed for this market and held some tourism promotion activities in the country.

Vu added that the department has also asked local restaurants to design dishes specifically for Indian guests.

It was reported at the meeting that an estimated 566,390 foreign tourists arrived in the city in May, up 37 percent year on year. Revenues from tourism came to around 9.3 trillion VND (over 406 million USD), up 3.03 percent.

For the January-May period, the total number of foreign arrivals was 3.18 million, a 32 percent increase, while tourism revenues were estimated at 51.65 trillion VND, up 14.8 percent.

A recent survey jointly conducted by the Tourism Department and the municipal Statistics Office showed tourists both domestic and foreign stay for an average 5 days in the city and spend around 145 USD a day, which showed a reduction in stay duration compared to a survey of the Vietnam National Tourism Administration in 2013 but the spending stays the same.

Chairman of the People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong stressed that tourism has been defined as a spearhead economic sector of the city. He urged the sector to study ways to keep visitors stay longer.
Source: VNA


The NSW Budget 2018 was announced this week with over $290 million to be invested into the State’s visitor economy.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said, “Tourism is big business and vital to the NSW economy delivering $35.2 billion in visitor spend last year and directly employing 171,100 people across the State.”

$82 million will be invested to secure and support major sporting, arts and business events across the State, while $54 million will be invested to promote NSW destinations and experiences to domestic and international markets, support tourism operators and secure strategic partnerships with airlines and trade partners.

$7.5 million will be provided for regional programs to attract more visitors, events and conferences, support industry product development and marketing, and spread visitor economy benefits to more communities.


Photo: World Economic Forum
Myanmar Second Vice President U Henry Van Thio called for more efforts to attract intra-ASEAN travelers to the country, Myanmar News Agency reported Wednesday.

Addressing the opening of the the Myanmar Tourism Conference in Nay Pyi Taw Tuesday, U Henry Van Thio urged for targeting Eastern countries of China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand for the largest number of tourist arrival in Myanmar and so do western countries such as the United States, France, Britain and Germany, for the development of the country’s tourism industry.

He said that arrangement is underway to relax the visa requirement to increase visitors from countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as China, Japan and South Korea.

He stressed the need to conduct more market promotion and make international advertisement to make the world know more about Myanmar as a travel destination, saying that hotel and transport rate should not be above the international rate and the services provided should be valued for costs to the visitors.

“When new travel destinations are being created, care should be taken to retain our culture and natural resources,” he warned however.

He called for ensuring balanced development for the safety and security of the travelers and business.

Myanmar has been exerting efforts to create new tourist destinations to promote the country’s tourism market.

It is also striving to promote eco-tourism, cultural tourism and community-based tourism (CBT) in resource-rich areas, including historical landscapes, rivers, lakes, beaches, islands and forests.

Foreign tourists visit Myanmar mostly through three international airports, the border checkpoints as well as via luxury cruise liners.

Read full article at Xinhua:


Myanmar will soon announce visa-free travel for Japanese and Korean national as well as visa-on-arrival for Chinese citizens at specified airports.

Myanmar Tourism Marketing chairperson, May Myat Mon Win, confirmed to TTR Weekly, Wednesday, that new visa privileges were in the pipeline.

There have been no official announcements by the country’s Ministry of Labour Immigration and Population.

Earlier in the week, Myanmar Times broke the news on the changes quoting U Khin Zaw, an adviser of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

According to the report various ministries (Hotels and Tourism, Labour, Immigration and Population and Foreign Affairs) discussed visa-free travel for Japan and South Korea and visa-on-arrival for China in Nay Pyi Taw last week.

It is understood visa-free status for Japanese and Koreans could be in place before the main tourist season begins at the end of October.

Asked for an assessment of the impact visa-free travel would have on tourism the MTM chairperson said: “It will certainly lead to an increase of visitors from these nations as we witnessed an increase from other countries such as Singapore when visa-free travel was introduced.”

She estimated the increase could be as high as 30% from visitors from Japan and South Korea. MTM has already organised road shows and attended trade shows and invited travel journalists, TV producers and digital marketing influencers from Japan, South Korea and China.

“It could ultimately give us a 50% increase in visits,” she said.

The latest statistics from MTM monitor arrivals at just Yangon Airport, the country’s main gateway. The figures reflect arrivals for all travel purposes not just tourism.

In 2017, Yangon airport recorded 1,139,166 arrivals of which 95,908 (+1%) were from Japan, 63, 612 (+1%) from Korea and 143,037 (+13%) from China.

Year-to-date arrivals at Yangon Airport, January to April 2018, showed a slight decline of 1% from 412,089 to 406,869.

China delivered a healthy 31% increase with 62,778 arrivals compared with 47,965 year-to-date. Japan delivered 32,715 arrivals year to-date down 1% and Korea 22,969 down 2%.

Visa-on-arrival facilitation for Chinese would encourage an even more dramatic growth as there appears to be strong demand for travel to Myanmar.

Read full article at TTRWeekly:

Punthill Apartment Hotels Bring Luxury to the Suburbs

Punthill’s latest designer apartment hotel in leafy Ivanhoe brings affordable luxury – and sweeping views – to Melbourne’s booming North Eastern suburbs.

Punthill Ivanhoe is the latest addition in Punthill’s 14-strong portfolio of upscale apartment hotels located in prime locations across Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.

The hotel’s 52 apartments sit atop one of Melbourne’s highest points, encompassing three floors of a landmark new building designed by award-winningFender Katsalidis Architects, of Eureka Tower fame.

Accepting guests from 11 July, Punthill Ivanhoe is close to cosmopolitan Burgundy Street, opposite the Austin Health precinct and world class Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre.

Furniture fit-out experts at Move-in have given the striking one and two-bedroom apartments a modern contemporary feel that you’d expect in a major city hotel.

All rooms are stylishly appointed with state-of-the-art features and appliances, with east-facing apartments offering views of the picturesque Dandenong Ranges.

Just 12 kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD, the complex boasts a modern gym and is a short stroll from local shops, parks and Heidelberg train station.

Punthill Ivanhoe is well situated for health precinct users and their loved ones, tourists and those visiting friends and family in nearby suburbs.

Business guests will enjoy convenient access to the expansive North Eastern suburbs’ corporate catchment area, and an easy drive to Melbourne airport via Bell Street.

Punthill Director of Sales and Marketing Keiran Spencer says the fourteenth Punthill apartment hotel offers superb accommodation in a bustling medical, residential and retail precinct not far from Melbourne’s CBD.

“We want our guests to feel at home while experiencing something special,” Mr Spencer says. “All our apartments provide a ‘home away from home’ feel while impressing with contemporary design and features.

“This is an exciting development for one of Melbourne’s busy medical precincts and the surrounding business region. Both are attracting more visitors who need quality accommodation.”

Punthill Apartment Hotels combine apartment living and the perks of staying in a hotel, making them perfect for couples, families, groups, tourists, business travellers and medium-term work stays.

Supercars Watpac Townsville 400

At the halfway point in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, the racing is sure to be fierce when the spectacular Supercars race through the streets of Townsville once again at the Watpac Townsville 400, 6 to 8 July 2018.

There is something for the whole family, from the on-track action of the Supercars, Dunlop Super2 Series, ECB SuperUtes Series and more, to the evening concert entertainment.

Kids 12 and under receive free trackside admission with a paying adult.

Don’t miss the fastest and loudest weekend in North Queensland!

Supercars Watpac Townsville 400
Townsville, Townsville Area
6 – 8 July 2018

Wednesday, 27 June 2018


Hosted by the Thailand Ministry of Tourism & Sports, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and the Provincial Government of Nakhon Phanom, in collaboration with the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), is hosting the 2018 Mekong Tourism Forumis in Nakhon Phanom. Situated at the Mekong River, bordering to Lao PDR, the city in northeastern Thailand boosts Thai, Lao, and Vietnamese cultural influence, important Buddhist sites, as well as modern infrastructure and convenient road and air connectivity.

This year’s theme is following the MTF 2017 theme of “Prosper with Purpose”, and the MTF 2016 theme of “Creating Authentic Experiences”. Travelers today are seeking a more transformative and soul-enriching experience. Tourism can be an important catalyst in changing people’s lives for the better through mutual understanding and acting more responsibly. The theme of “Transforming Travel – Transforming Lives” will start with a keynote by Jeremy Smith, editor of Travindy and author of the recent book “Transforming Travel”.

The seminar on Buddhist Tourism will explore the power of transformative travel. As one of the fastest growing tourism segments in Asia, Buddhist Tourism not only draws international tourists into the GMS, but also boots domestic travel and contributes significantly to the local economies. Nakhon Phanom, this year’s host of the Mekong Tourism Forum and an important center of Buddhism in northeastern Thailand is the perfect destination to focus on Buddhist Tourism.

The Experience Mekong Collection, featuring over 150 responsible and sustainable small businesses in the GMS, will showcase innovative case studies from each of the GMS countries. Small travel operators, giving back to local communities, promoting gender equality, and alleviating poverty is a key mandate of the Mekong Tourism Collaboration between the six member countries. The Experience Mekong Collection brings this mandate alive, and acts as a capacity building platform to educate other businesses how to adopt responsible and sustainable business practices. In addition to the six Experience Mekong Collection Showcases, presented in partnership with Mahidol University International College, some of the Experience Mekong Collection members will exhibit their services in the Mekong Marketplace.

With MTF 2018, we don’t just want to attach a theme to the annual forum, but we want to live it. Senior travel executives from, AirBnB, Air Asia, and Inle Heritage Myanmar will relate “Transformative Travel” to their respective industry sectors in inspiring 15-minute mini keynotes, before this year’s “Mekong Opportunities & Threats” session will focus on the relevant Plastic Pollution issue and invite anybody to join the discussion how the travel and tourism industry can reduce single-use plastic in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Single-use plastic is one of the biggest issues we face in today’s world, and the travel and tourism industry can do its part to help solve the problem.

The 2018 Mekong Tourism Forum tries to do its small part to raise awareness of the issue and make the event plastic free. For the second year in a row, MTF 2018 has designed a limited-edition refillable water bottle, as part of the MTF 2018 Plastic Free Kit.

Finally, eight thematic strategy workshops on topics such as food tourism, adventure tourism, wellness tourism, and more, will be conducted in eight ethnic community villages around Nakhon Phanom. By visiting and engaging with the local communities, the delegates will be able to interact with the local people, while the local people will be able to interact with visitors from all over the world. As such, MTF 2018 embraces the theme “Transforming Travel – Transforming Lives” by experimenting with a new conference theme of hosting the actual sessions together with the local communities in their ethnic villages, and have the local people participate and be part of the experience. That way, we believe the discussions can be enriched, and the experience be a memorable one

Two integrated programs enrich the overall MTF 2018 experience:

1) The inaugural “Mekong Mini Movie Festival” will kick-off with a half-day Film Destination Marketing Conference, discussing the power of destination promotion via film, video, and visual storytelling, including keynotes by Rob Holmes of award-winning GLP Films to a case study of Hangover 2 at the Lebua Hotel in Bangkok. Following, delegates will be asked to judge some of the most inspiring films of the ongoing Mekong Mini Movie campaign. The Mekong Minis Awards Ceremony will announce the first set of winners of the Mekong Mini Movie Festival, and in partnership with WWF will raise awareness of the endangered Mekong Dolphins, the mascot of the Mekong Mini Movie Festival.

2) For the second year, the Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) program will showcase some of the most innovative travel startups, with the potential to disrupt traditional practices, and provide solutions to key issues the industry is facing. Besides the half-day MIST Travel Innovation Conference, one of the highlights will be presentations by the best startups coming out of the recent 2018 MIST semi-finals.

The Mekong Marketplace will showcase responsible travel operators from the Experience Mekong Collection, as well as feature the Blogger Matchup Lounge, as well as the MIST Startup Lounge.

Organised by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, the annual Mekong Tourism Forum gives stakeholders in the region, both public and private, a platform for joint discussions on the promotion and marketing of travel and tourism to and within the GMS countries – Cambodia, China’s Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

MTF was most recently held in Thailand in 2012 in the northern province of Chiang Rai. Last year, the Forum was held in June in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR.

More information about the 2018 MTF can be accessed at, and registration is free for travel and tourism professionals

The presentation given by MTCO Executive Director Jens Thraenhart can be downloaded at:

Da Nang welcomes more than 3.2 million visitors in 5 months

 Da Nang City
Central Da Nang City received more than 3.2 million visitors, including around 1.3 million foreigners and over 1.8 million domestic tourists, during the first five months of 2018, a year-on-year rise of 30.4%.

The total income from tourism revenue is estimated at more than VND11.1 trillion, up 53.6% against the same period of last year.

The municipal Department of Tourism has implemented procedures to build a headquarters of tourism promotion centre and continues to finalize the plan for a city-wide tourism accommodation database by 2025 with a vision to 2030.

In addition, it submitted a tourism development plan to the People’s Committee and directly carried out many activities to support visitors to the city, such as introducing chatbot applications and publishing images and information about Da Nang through different channels.

More than 35,000 visitors have been supported with tourism information, over 60% of whom sought out information on Da Nang during the first five months of this year.

Da Nang is expected to lure around 7.4 million visitors this year.
Source: VOV

Gold Coast Marathon

Celebrate the special fortieth edition of the Gold Coast Marathon and run for the good times on Saturday 30 June to Sunday 1 July 2018 on the beautiful Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.

The world class international marathon will attract 25,000 participants of all ages and abilities from over 50 countries across eight races including the Gold Coast Marathon, Wheelchair Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Wheelchair 15 kilometre, Southern Cross University 10 kilometre Run, Gold Coast Airport Fun Run, Garmin 4 kilometre Junior Dash and Garmin 2 kilometre Junior Dash.

The Gold Coast Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, is the pinnacle of road running events in Australia and during its 39-year history has distinguished itself as one of the most prestigious marathons in the world.

Its famous flat, fast and scenic course located alongside the city’s renowned surf beaches and stunning broadwater plus ideal winter running conditions featuring low humidity, little wind and mild temperatures result in 60 per cent of participants achieving personal best times each year.

Gold Coast Marathon
Southport, Gold Coast Area
30 June – 1 July 2018

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

MEET TAIWAN High Fives Singapore In Returning Roadshow To Launch Latest Incentive Travel Campaign

The MEET TAIWAN networking event returns for its annual Singapore destination roadshow with their latest MICE and incentive travel campaign, High Five Taiwan. Organised by the Taiwan External Trade Development Association (TAITRA) and powered by TTG Events, a delegation of 9 Taiwanese MICE companies that include representatives from travel agencies, airlines, venues, DMCs and Taipei City Government, will meet about 80 buyers and media with strong interests in Taiwan on 27 June 2018 at Mandarin Orchard Hotel.

Guests also get to experience Taiwan’s 360 ‘High Five Taiwan’ campaign with an immersive glimpse into the beauty of Taiwan’s nature, food, sights, people and culture, and tradition within the metropolitan city through a VR showcase.

Shared Jessie Tseng, Executive Director of MEET TAIWAN, “Taiwan is rated one of the most ideal destinations for incentive travels within Asia. Nature and culture surrounds us and we have exceptionally modern facilities coupled with technology and mature infrastructure, numerous resources within our MICE programme, and most importantly, the Taiwanese enthusiasm and hospitality that shine through to make every trip to Taiwan unforgettable.”

MEET TAIWAN is Taiwan’s one-stop MICE promotion programme for international and domestic MICE companies keen on bringing their events to the territory with key services including matchmaking with local industries, bidding assistance, the provision of cloud technology and mobile application services for new shows and conferences, subsidies and flexible entry permits, corporate social responsibility and corporate incentive itineraries.

Notably, the half-day event will elaborate on the incentives of MICE in Taiwan. Taipei city government representatives will present to buyers and media on the many initiatives and subventions they can enjoy. Representative from the iconic Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, Taiwan’s largest tradeshow venue, will unveil details of their second mega hall slated to officially open early 2019 but has already started taking venue bookings.

The roadshow will culminate in a themed panel discussion by Eagle Tour, Lion Travel Service, and Taiwan Tour Travel on the ease of creating unforgettable experiences in Taiwan ‘as easy as ABC’ through their specialties in catering for Halal travel, Young Generation and Life Experiences tours, cultural hands-on activities, and unique itineraries on food and train travel tours; followed by a one-on-one table top session, a networking lunch and lucky draw to win a ticket to Taipei sponsored by EVA Air & China Airlines.

The Asia Super Team campaign also returns with the theme ‘Dare To Future’. Each year, a chosen corporate team from 8 targeted countries – Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines – come to Taiwan and compete while experiencing Taiwan’s MICE facilities, scenic locations, cultures, and unique city features through play. The winning team is then awarded a Taiwan incentive travel package valued at USD 50,000.

The 9 Taiwanese companies that will exclusively flown in for the networking event are Eagle Tour, Lion Travel Service Co., Ltd., MSL Group, Taiwan Tour, ABLY Conference and Exhibition, Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, Taipei City Government, EVA Air, and China Airlines.

If you are a buyer interested to attend this event in Singapore, contact us at
This is just one of the targeted roadshows and events powered by IT&CM Events on behalf of destinations and brands to help achieve market activation, outreach and promotional goals in the region through our extensive network and expertise in MICE. To find out more about how you can engage us to further your campaigns, contact

Mt Hutt kicks off Canterbury ski season with all lifts open for the first time in two decades

Soaking in the scenery
New Zealand’s best ski resort, Mt Hutt in Canterbury, kicked off the 2018 winter season with all lifts running on opening day for the first time in more than 20 years.

A timely 30cm of new snow arrived on Tuesday night and a further 5cm of snow on Wednesday blanketed the award-winning ski field.

At 6am this morning, the conditions were clear and calm with crystal clear skies.

Mt Hutt Ski Area Manager James McKenzie reported a mix of over 1500 regular guests and first-timers throughout the morning.

“With the best opening snow base in years and a sunny day with light breezes, we couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the 2018 winter season,” says James.

As all the lifts are running, which means the “First on Triple” Tees – new for 2018 – will become a much-coveted collector’s item.

First on the lift, who received Amisfield bubbles - hot chocolate for the little ones - and first on the chair t-shirts were from left to right Cantabrians Andy Cameron-Daniels, Paul Womersley and Ben Yorston. Ben Yorston was also first on the Summit chair.

“The Triple chairlift usually opens at the end of June or early July due to insufficient early season snow coverage on the lower mountain,” explains James.

“But thanks to a massive upgrade to our snowmaking system over the summer, we have been able to make snow on “International” in the lead up to opening day.”

James says that Mt Hutt has effectively doubled snowmaking capacity for 2018.

“We can now operate snow guns on the upper and lower sections of the mountain simultaneously. In the past we had to focus snowmaking on specific areas of the upper mountain due to pumping limitations.”

Snowmaking is key to the mountain, and these investments have increased capacity and snow management capability to improve coverage in season.”

Thanks to a record-breaking, pre-season snowmaking campaign and the recent southerly weather fronts, the snow base on groomed trails stands at an impressive 35-70cm.

“We are looking at the best opening snow base in nearly 10 years and it is awesome to see the Triple chair lift turning on day one along with the Summit Six and Quad chairs” says James.

New at Mt Hutt this year
Nothing has changed when it comes to the awesome customer service and big mountain ski terrain at Mt Hutt – two of many reasons why it’s been voted New Zealand’s best – but behind the scenes there’s been plenty of investment in infrastructure

The 365ha ski field, which is 30 minutes from the ski town of Methven in Canterbury, once again won the Best New Zealand Ski Resort at the World Ski Awards for the 2017 season. This is the third consecutive year it has won.

.The wait is over!
James says, “Behind that great natural terrain is a lot of technical work that makes sure we get the best out of the mountain during the ski season for guests!”

As well as the 50% increase in snowmaking, Summit 6 chairlift has had a wee makeover too.

This is the highest point on the mountain, which on a good day has unrivalled views across the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific Ocean.

A robust new tower safety system at Summit 6 looks to shave off an hour of de-icing, helping the lift take guests sooner on big snow days, while a new unload ramp will also make the experience safer.

The popular Sky High Café has been renovated to speed up food and coffee service and create more space.

This includes an entire new food servery for hotter, faster bigger, better meals and with a more logical layout, a new seating area for groups, and an extended Sixteen10 coffee bar doubling coffee output and accommodating more seating.

Other developments include a SNOWsat (a super-accurate GPS/snow depth system) installed in groomers, and a new call centre to deal with sales and enquiries even more efficiently.

In terms of parking, a new 44-seater 4WD bus will make car park shuttling more efficient, and toilet facilities will be provided at the lower carparks.