Wednesday, 31 October 2018


Real Festival is back and with its best program yet, is set to once again transform the Nepean River with world-class entertainment, activities and experiences on 2-3 November, 2018.

This year’s event brings together Australia’s best creative minds with plenty of stage performances, captivating artworks and delicious cuisines from around the world, including some of Sydney’s best food trucks.

Produced by Penrith City Council, click here for more information.

Festival honours cultural values of ethnic groups in north-eastern region

More than a whopping 1,000 artisans and artists will gather at a festival scheduled from November 2-4 in Vinh Yen City, northern Vinh Phuc Province, aiming to honour the traditional cultural values of ethnic minority groups in the north-eastern region.

The information was released at a press conference in Ha Noi on October 26 to introduce the 10th Culture, Sports, and Tourism Festival for ethnic minority groups in the north-eastern region in Vinh Phuc Province in 2018 under theme “Preserving and Promoting Northeast Ethnic Culture in the Reform Process: Integration and Sustainable Development".

Director of Vinh Phuc provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Tran Ngoc Oanh said the festival aims to share experience and raise artists’ awareness about the promotion of traditional cultural values of ethnic groups in the north-eastern region and help to reinforce the great national unity bloc.

Diverse activities will be launched during the event, including art performances, a fashion show of traditional costumes and a photo exhibition, tourism and food fairs, and local folk games.

At the opening ceremony slated for November 2, a representative from the UNESCO office in Viet Nam will present a certificate to recognize tugging ritual and games as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity to Vinh Phuc authorities.
Source: VOV


Both locals and visitors to the region are invited to dig a little deeper into the stories behind the exhibitions and displays at the Museum of Tropical Queensland with a daily program of talks and tours.

10:30am - What's in the Box? 
Discover more about a museum object or the travelling exhibition in the Box Gallery.

11am & 1.30pm - HMS Pandora Highlights Tour
Discover more about the HMS Pandora and the tragic tale of the ship sent to capture the Bountymutineers.

12.30pm - Dig Deeper Tour
Join one of the our Volunteer Guides and learn about their favourite museum object, collection or activity.

Museum of Tropical Queensland's talks and tours operate every day (excluding school and public holidays) and are included with Museum admission.

Museum of Tropical Queensland

The Museum of Tropical Queensland is a museum of natural history, archaeology and history located in Townsville, Queensland, Australia. It is located in the same complex as the Reef HQ Aquarium. MTQ is a member of the Queensland Museum Campus Network.
Address: 70-102 Flinders St, Townsville City QLD 4810
Hours: Open ⋅ Closes 5PM

Phone: (07) 4726 0600


Celebrate the success and achievement of the event industry in your state and territory at the 2018 MEA Awards.
Australian Capital Territory – Tuesday, 26 February 2019, Old Parliament House, Canberra 
New South Wales – Wednesday, 27 February 2019, Luna Park Sydney
Tasmania – Thursday, 28 February 2019, The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel, Hobart
Northern Territory – Monday, 4 March 2019, Darwin Convention Centre
Victoria – Tuesday 5 March 2019, Metropolis Events, Southbank
Queensland – Wednesday, 6 March 2019, venue to be confirmed
South Australia – Thursday, 7 March 2019, [http://Adelaide%20Convention%20Centre]Adelaide Convention Centre
Western Australia – Friday, 8 March 2019, Crown Hotels Perth
Tickets for all events go on sale: Monday, 5 November 2018.

Start your submission now. There are only 10 weeks to submit your entry.


Join Us For One Night In Paris....

Citizens of Montmartre,

Don't miss joining us on our biggest production to date as we once again take you into the action of a movie which this time will be Baz Luhrmann's 'Moulin Rouge!'.

We've got an incredible venue only 25 minutes out from the CBD and some unbeatable packages!   Early bird pricing is active so don't miss out on this event save yourself some pennies in the process!  All packages include the immersive experience!
Le Montmartre from $55! - General admission to the 'One Night In Paris' experience (food and beverage available to purchase at extra cost).  Get ready to experience the decadence of turn of the century Paris like never before!
Le Vaudeville - A 3 course meal (canapes plus mains & dessert) & 3 hour beverage package (beers/wines/softs) in a sophisticated setting.
Le Versailles - A private dining affair - elegant 3 courses & 3 hour beverage package in your own unique space complete with personal butler and roaming entertainment.
All dining options will cater for vegetarians and other dietary requirements. We will finalise all specific catering requirements nearer the event.
Ticket site:

Not sure what to expect?  See our Gatsby video on the below:
The Beyond Cinema Team

Hikawa Shrine

Photo Credit: ©JNTO
Hikawa Shrine has a tall torii gate built in Myojin-style. It is 15-meters high, with the grounds filled with a number of trees over 500 years old and the sacred Keyaki trees rustling in the wind.

The Main Shrine and other historical buildings that carry on the Edo culture were registered as a designated cultural property of Saitama Prefecture.

Address: Japan, 〒330-0803 Saitama Prefecture, Saitama, Omiya Ward, Takahanacho, 1−407

Quang Binh debuts new tours to magnificent cave

VietNamNet Bridge – Quang Binh Province has debuted tour itineraries to the Hang Vom-Gieng Vooc Cave system late last week, offering visitors another choice for caving trips aside from the world’s biggest cave, Son Doong.

The cave is inside Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in the central province. The entrance of the cave’s first section, Hang Vom, is four kilometres from the western wing of the local section of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Hang Vom is said to have unique beauty thanks to an internal lake just inside the entrance. It also has underground streams that are tributaries of the local Chay. Hang Vom is 100 metres wide and 50m high.

Gieng Vooc is the second section of the cave system. It is 400m long and 2.3m wide. The cave has four lakes and several streams inside. The cave is one km from Suoi Mooc.

Hang Vom-Gieng Vooc has magnificent stalactites. Chay River and Suoi Mooc are two tourism hotspots in the province.

Viet Hung Company, a local firm authorised to run caving tours into the cave system, offers two options. Tourists can choose between a one-day trip and a two-day, one-night trip.

Visitors get a chance to trek through the unique local habitat, wade in streams and cave in the karst grottos.

Between July and October, the company ran trail tour programmes in the cave.

34, Lot 7, Den Lu 1, Hoang Mai Dist, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: (84-4) 3622 7195 - 3622 7752
Mobile: +84 903 411 916
Skype: mai_vietnam *

Wednesday, 24 October 2018


David Goldblatt - Young men with dompas
As part of the Sydney International Art Series, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) is presenting a major retrospective of the late South African photographer David Goldblatt, with the exclusive Photographs 1948 – 2018exhibition opening at the MCA this week.

David Goldblatt: Photographs 1948 - 2018 displays 357 works spanning seven decades of Goldblatt’s illustrious career. Goldblatt was renowned for his portrayal of South Africa during the rise and dismantling of apartheid.

NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said, “This landmark exhibition for the MCA offers a rare glimpse into the remarkable life and legacy of David Goldblatt. Throughout his career, his photos were the sobering display of racial divide in South African society, capturing everyday life throughout the traumatic decades of apartheid.”

The Sydney International Art Series is an event created by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, in collaboration with the Art Gallery of NSW and MCA, which brings the world’s most outstanding artists and their works exclusively to Sydney.

Masters of Modern Art from the Hermitageopened at the Art Gallery of NSW last weekend, featuring 65 works from the Hermitage Museum’s collection. For booking information, click here.

Northwestern culture to be featured at 6th Ban Flower Festival

The Ban Flower Festival
The Ban Flower Festival 2019 in the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien will feature activities imbued with the cultural identities of the northwest region.

The information was revealed at a meeting on October 15 in Dien Bien, which aimed to collect opinions on the event’s organisation from representatives of relevant departments, sectors, and agencies.

Vice Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Doan Van Chi announced that the event will take place from March 13-18, 2019.

The main activities will be held at several sites around Dien Bien Phu city, including the opening ceremony on March 16, an art performance, a low-range firework performance, a beauty contest, and a street carnival.

The festival will also feature entertainment activities imbued with the cultural identities of ethnic groups in Dien Bien in particular and the northwest region in general, such as a folk music and dance festival, a food festival, and an exhibition introducing tourism products and services in the locality.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Le Van Quy, who is also head of the festival organisation board, asked relevant departments, sectors, and localities to contribute to building the scenario, regulations, and agenda for the event.

The Ban Flower Festival is an annual cultural event of Dien Bien province, which began in 2014 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Dien Bien Phu’s victory. The festival aims to preserve and promote the cultural values of Dien Bien’s ethnic groups and introduce and promote the image of Dien Bien province and the Ban tree, which is symbolic for the northwest region of Viet Nam. The festival is also hoped to contribute to upholding Dien Bien province’s cultural heritage and promoting tourism development in the locality. March 13, 1954 was the opening day of the Dien Bien Phu Battle and the date was selected as the opening day of the annual Ban flower festival of Dien Bien. 

However, next year, March 13 is Monday and therefore the organising team plans to open the event one day earlier to make it more accessible for visitors.
Source: VNA


Jenny Mitchell
Jenny Mitchell, one of New Zealand’s brightest rising stars, has today released her sophomore album ‘Wildfires’. It comes off the back of her critically acclaimed debut album, ‘The Old Oak’, and a string of achievements including a New Zealand Gold Guitar and MLT Songwriting awards.

Speaking of the album, Mitchell says it ‘takes listeners through the journey of leaving home and the long ache of losing your first love.’  The title track, ‘Wildfires’, describes a passionate yet toxic relationship and paints a picture of what it feels like to be in the eye of the storm, while ‘Worth It All’ puts things a little more bluntly, albeit beautifully. ‘My lover, my liar, means the same thing these days. My truth, my cheater, where’s the proof that I’m not insane?’ sings Mitchell, with a haunting wisdom far beyond her 19 years.

‘Wildfires’ also explores the story of Mitchell’s grandparents’ migration and the highs and lows of life as a singer-songwriter. ‘It can be a transient existence,’ Mitchell says, ‘but I just hope people will listen and be reminded of themselves, or those around them, in my lyrics.’

The album takes a playful turn on ‘One Day’, a crowd favourite, and you can hear Mitchell’s smile as she sings ‘One day you’ll wake up and realise that the reason you like coffee so much is ‘cause it matches my eyes.’

Though the majority of the tracks were written in New Zealand, ‘Ends of the Earth’ was born in a central Dublin hostel and inhabits the world of Sheila and Joe Brouder, Mitchell’s grandparents, who left Ireland in the 50s in search of a better life. ‘Missing home makes you lonely, swear I nearly lost my mind & I prayed, for forgiveness for leaving my mamma behind,’ sings Mitchell on the Celtic-influenced ballad.

Mitchell’s versatility and storytelling is rapidly capturing fans across the globe. She’s comfortable with a country twang or softly spoken ballad, and despite her eclectic influences ‘Wildfires’ is a smooth narrative that’s equal parts heartbreaking and life affirming.

Recorded by an All-Australian cast, with award winning producer Matt Fell at the helm, the album has always been destined for success with the likes of Shane Nicholson (acoustics), Glen Hannah (electric guitar), Luke Moller (fiddle) and Josh Schuberth (percussion & drums) supporting the journey.  ‘I couldn’t have asked for a better team to create this next chapter of my musical career and as a result, I couldn’t be prouder of this record,’ says Mitchell. ‘I hope the ears it falls on can immerse themselves in it as much as I did.’

The album’s final track, ‘Travelling Bones’, was the last song written for the record and Mitchell says ‘it’s my way of explaining why I’m no longer chasing the white-picket-fence dream. In the process of letting go of old love and leaving home, I’ve really gotten to know myself and am beginning to understand that what makes me tick may not be what I always planned it would be.’ Exploring the internal tug of war between settling down and the burning desire to discover the world, ‘Travelling Bones’ perfectly wraps up an album that will leave listeners glad that while they may not yet have discovered the world, they’ve discovered Jenny Mitchell.

Jenny Mitchell will be performing tracks from ‘Wildfires’ in Australia on the following dates:

  • Friday 26th – Sunday 28th October - Tablelands Folk Festival - Yungaburra, QLD
  • Wednesday 31st October - The Spotted Mallard - Melbourne, VIC
  • Thursday 1st November - Caravan Music Club - Melbourne, VIC
  • Friday 2nd – Monday 5th November: Maldon Folk Festival - Maldon, VIC
  • Wednesday 7th November: Ararat Live - Ararat, VIC
  • Thursday 8th November – Porch Light Sessions, Petersham Bowling Club - Sydney, NSW
  • Friday 9th November – The Acoustic Picnic – Brookvale, NSW


BambooLao Wins Regional Travel Startup Competition

BambooLao from Luang Prabang, Lao PDR beat 111 entrants from across Southeast Asia to take top prize in the 2018 Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) challenge. The elite travel startup competition, supported by the Australian Government and Asian Development Bank, includes Asia’s most prominent travel-specialized venture capitalists among its advisors. MIST’s top prize comes with a $10,000 USD innovation grant.

BambooLao is on a mission to eliminate single-use plastics from hotels and resorts across Asia. They have produced more than 80,000 reusable bamboo straws and other bamboo utensils, using indigenous bamboo varieties and a proprietary natural treatment process. Their straws are used by Aman Group, Pullman, Rosewood Group, and Sofitel properties, as well as EXO Travel tours. BambooLao estimates their environmentally-friendly products have displaced the use of 5 million single-use plastic straws.

“The MIST innovation grant will help us scale-up production from one to three villages. We must invest in capacity to meet growing international demand,” said BambooLao founder Arounothay Khoungkhakoune.

Vietnamese startup Ecohost took MIST’s second prize and received a $5,000 USD grant. Ecohost facilitates quality tourism experiences in the Vietnamese countryside, working with rural communities to develop tours and activities while improving the capacity of local homestays to serve international guests.

MIST supports high-growth-potential emerging market startups in travel and hospitality – especially startups that generate positive impacts for communities, culture, and the environment. The program’s five 2018 finalists refined their business acumen and pitching skills during MIST’s weeklong business fundamentals bootcamp, five months of customized coaching by industry experts, and MIST pitch competitions in Ho Chi Minh City, Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, and ITB-Asia’s Mekong Travel Startup Forum in Singapore.

“BambooLao, Ecohost, and other MIST finalists demonstrate how the Mekong region’s bright, innovative entrepreneurs are finding practical solutions to solve industry problems, while striving to make tourism more inclusive and sustainable," said Jens Thraenhart, co-organizer of MIST and executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office: Jens Thraenhart  +66 (0) 85 554 4234

Asian Development Bank: Jason Lusk +1 262 385 0670

Operators honoured at region’s premier tourism event

More than 370 people from across the Whitsundays’ tourism sector came together on Saturday at Discovery Parks Airlie Beach for the industry’s ‘night-of-nights’ to celebrate the achievements of the region’s operators and service providers.

Whitsunday operators and organisations were recognised at the 2018 Whitsunday Tourism Awards which pays tribute to the tremendous contribution made by the region's tourism operators and service providers.

Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer Natassia Wheeler highlighted the significance of the awards night for the entire tourism sector.

“Tonight is a night of celebration, not just for those who take out gold awards, but for each and every one of you, whom without, we would not have this dynamic and diverse destination,” she said.

Mrs Wheeler noted the significant year that lay ahead for the Whitsundays, made possible through industry ties and cooperation.

“Thanks to the collaboration of our industry and government bodies working together, there will be an uplift to our entire region,” she said.

Abell Point Marina took home the Major Tourist Attraction award while Red Cat Adventures scooped the Major Tour and Transport Operators award.

The prestigious Bob Porter Award, which acknowledges outstanding contribution by an individual throughout the year, was awarded to Damien Head of Queensland Parks and Wildlife for his ability to bring new ideas to the table to support the Great Barrier Reef and enhance the Whitsundays’ tourism offerings.

Mr Head’s efforts to successfully raise industry concerns with ministers to gain funding for infrastructure in the Whitsundays was also acknowledged.

For the first time, professional travel organisation Skal International partnered up with Tourism Whitsundays to sponsor the Young Achievers Category, providing a great mentoring opportunity for the overall winner Chloe Autridge, Sales and Marketing Manager, Red Cat Adventures.

There were several VIPs and dignitaries who attended this year’s award ceremony, including Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones, Tourism and Events Queensland Chief Executive Officer Leanne Coddington, State Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan, Member for Dawson George Christensen, Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox and Queensland Tourism Industry Council Deputy CEO & General Manager, Business Strategy- Brett Kapernick.

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the Whitsundays was vital to ensuring the growth of Queensland’s tourism economy.

“I know the judges had a particularly tough time this year judging the overall winners. This is a testament to the quality of tourism offerings we have in the Whitsundays,” she said.

“We’re partnering with the private sector to deliver millions of dollars’ worth of new tourism infrastructure in this region to ensure we grow this sector in years to come.

“I’d personally like to congratulate all the winners on their achievements who have no doubt set a new benchmark in the pursuit of excellence for the Whitsundays’ tourism industry.”

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox said the awards were a great opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of our amazing tourism stakeholders.

“I applaud their resilience and dedication to the tourism industry to ensure the Whitsundays continues to be voted the most popular tourism destination nationally and internationally,” he said.

While the champagne flowed at the Gala Dinner, guests were also treated to a three-course meal and entertainment from magician and entertainer Matt Hollywood as well as Townsville-based eclectic five-piece, King Social, who brought a blend of hip-hop and soul tunes to the event. Rum Bars’ famous pop-up Tiki Bar was also a big crowd favourite, with the bar serving up delicious mojitos for guests.

Acknowledgments to the events sponsors for their support were made throughout the evening. Discovery Parks, Lion Australia, Hamilton Island, InterContinental Hayman Island, Daydream Island, Place Design Group, Brisbane Airport Corporation, Paradise Outdoor Advertising and Whitsunday Transit were the Gold and Platinum sponsors.

This year was a record-breaking event for the Awards, with 374 in attendance, highlighting the fact it truly is the ‘night-of-nights’ for the regions hardworking and passionate tourism sector.

This year, the awards covered 24 categories which recognise growth in tourism products and services and are based on businesses having a solid business plan, businesses that continually innovate their products and who implement targeted marketing campaigns.

To view a full list of winners view the PDF version of this release here.

‘Green Mindset’ of Luxury Queenstown Hotel – The Rees Earns World Sustainable Tourism Award out of 31 countries

The Rees Hotel Queenstown, New Zealand
Skål International, a member of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation has presented The Rees Hotel Queenstown with a global award for Sustainable Tourism at the Skål World Congress in Mombasa, Kenya - one of the world’s largest congregations of tourism stakeholders with 15,000 delegates.

The awards in their seventeenth year; highlight and acknowledge the best of the best leading in sustainable practices and environmental preservation in the tourism sector from around the globe. Eight categories are awarded: Community and Government Projects, Countryside and Biodiversity, Educational programmes and Media, Major Tourist Attractions, Marine and Coastal, Rural Accommodation, Tour Operators-Travel Agents, Tourist Transport and Urban Accommodation

The Rees Hotel Queenstown, an independent luxury property with 60 hotel rooms, 90 apartments and five Lakeside Residences on the shores of Lake Wakatipu won ‘best urban accommodation’ out of a total of 62 entries from 31 countries.

In June it submitted significant hardcopy and video evidence to meet the strict judging criteria that looked at tangible, measurable benefits to the environment, climate change mitigation, nature and native animal preservation/conservation, carbon off-setting, waste management, culture preservation, local employment socio-economic benefits and how The Rees promotes sustainable tourism practices.

It is the first time an entrant from New Zealand has won the award from the travel and tourism body formed in 1934 that recognises outstanding leadership.

“This is the big one for us as it highlights our incredibly strong ‘green mind-set’ backed by a collective commitment with our company-wide stewardship programme that spans from our Board to across our entire team to be conscious about our impact on both our environment and community,” says Mark Rose, CEO of The Rees Hotel.

“We reward critical thinking that reduces our carbon footprint and as a result we’ve minimised waste, developed efficiency strategies and responsible initiatives with the intention to be the best corporate citizen within the broader community in which we live – New Zealand’s most popular tourism destination.”

“Skål International has 15,000 members in over 90 countries with direct ties to the United Nations – so it’s a real pinnacle to be recognised and such a substantial vote of confidence for our standards by our peers on the world stage.”

In 2009 Skål International entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations to align with the Environmental Programme of the global organisation. It says it’s “a powerful force in the travel and tourism industry to initiate change and encourage the conservation of the environment in order to promote tourism and travel.”

The intention of the world awards in Sustainable tourism says Skål International “is to maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction and ensure a meaningful experience to tourists, raising their awareness about sustainability issues and promoting sustainable tourism practices amongst them.”

Recently on 12th of October 2018 The Rees Management Ltd (TRML), the manager of The Rees Hotel Queenstown, New Zealand, was sold to interests associated with Pioneer Capital.

The independent, stylish, luxury property has consistently been internationally recognised and awarded for excellence including receiving New Zealand Tourism’s top Qualmark 5 Star Hotel & Gold Business Tourism Sustainability Award in 2018 and ‘Best NZ Hotel’ two year’s running (2017/18), in the HM Awards for Hotel and Accommodation Excellence.

Along with awards for service, for its fine dining restaurant True South, executive chef Ben Batterbury and for its wine list, the hotel is also a leader in community service and sustainability initiatives, constantly striving to maintain and further develop the high standards it has set in the New Zealand hospitality industry.     

Beyond Cinema Presents: Baz Luhrmann's 'Moulin Rouge!'

Beyond Cinema are delighted to announce our latest production: One Night In Paris featuring Baz Luhrmann's 'Moulin Rouge!'.

Join us as we take you into the turn of the 20th century in Paris - a world full of decadence, debauchery and of course cabaret. We'll take you into Montmartre a melting pot of society home to some of the most sordid burlesque and cabaret clubs in the country.

It's time to dust off your dresses and pluck out those top hats as we invite into back in time, to a world society has tried to forget.

We have different ticketing options available - all dining options include the regular experience which will take place after dinner:
  • Le Cinéma Ticket - Must be purchased with one of the below packages (cannot be bought solo).
  • Le Montmartre - General admission to the 'One Night In Paris' experience (food and beverage available to purchase at extra cost). Note this will have a later start time.
  • Le Vaudeville - A 3 course meal (canapes plus mains & dessert) & 3 hour beverage package (beers/wines/softs) in a sophisticated setting.
  • Le Versailles - A private dining affair - elegant 3 courses & 3 hour beverage package in your own unique space complete with personal butler and roaming entertainment.

All dining options will cater for vegetarians and other dietary requirements. We will finalise all specific catering requirements nearer the event.

For more information and tickets visit the site below - we'll be sending full information on dress code and character assignment nearer the time post purchase

WHEN: Sat, March 16, 2019 6:00 PM – 11:30 PM
LOCATION - The HIGHLINE Venue, 462 Chapel Road, Bankstown, NSW 2200

Friday, 19 October 2018


WendyTeakel LandPlaceSite
Image credit: Noel Mc
The world’s largest annual free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, opened this week on Sydney’s spectacular Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk.

The iconic exhibition sees the coastline transformed into a 2km long sculpture park over three weeks featuring 107 sculptures by artists from 21 countries around the world.

As one of Sydney’s best attended and photographed events, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi attracts approximately 450,000 visitors over the course of 18 days.

A showcase of eight works by alumni from the leading Chinese art institution the Central Academy of Art (CAFA) in Beijing is one highlight of the exhibition, including a 3m tall fleshy figure, Horizon by Mu Boyan, which sits on the south Bondi headland at Marks Park. The exhibition also features works from leading Australian sculptors Hossein Valamanesh, Ron Robertson-Swann OAM and Wendy Teakel.

The exhibition is free to the public and runs until Sunday 4 November, 2018. For more information, click here.

Vietnamese Startup Ecohost Takes Second Prize in Regional Travel Startup Competition

Vietnamese startup travel company Ecohost beat out 110 competitors to take second prize in the 2018 Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) challenge. The elite travel startup competition receives support from the Australian Government and the Asian Development Bank and counts Asia’s most prominent travel-specialized venture capitalists among its advisors. MIST’s second prize comes with a $5,000 USD innovation grant.

Ecohost enables quality tourism experiences in the Vietnamese countryside, working village-by-village to develop tours and activities while improving the capacity of rural homestays to serve international guests.

“This grant will enable us to complete Phase One of our growth plan, delivering skills training courses across three villages and upgrading homestays for 15 families,” explained Ecohost CEO Bùi ThịNhàn.

Ecohost came in second to BambooLao from Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. BambooLao is on a mission to eliminate single-use plastic straws from hotels and resorts across Asia. They have produced more than 80,000 reusable bamboo straws as well as other bamboo serving ware, using special breeds of bamboo and a proprietary natural treatment process. Their straws – which are in use in Aman Group, Pullman, Rosewood Group, and Sofitel properties, as well as on EXO Travel tours – have already displaced the use of more than 5,000,000 single-use plastic straws.

The two-year-old MIST program supports high-growth-potential emerging market startups in travel and hospitality – especially startups making a positive impact on communities, cultures, and the environment. The program’s five 2018 finalists completed a weeklong bootcamp on business fundamentals, received five months of coaching, and showcased their business models at four events: the MIST semi-finalist pitch competition in Ho Chi Minh City, June’s Mekong Tourism Forum (Nakhon Phanom, Thailand), a final investor pitch in Singapore, and the Mekong Travel Startup Forum at Singapore’s ITB-Asia travel trade fair.

“The Greater Mekong Subregion includes the fastest growing tourism destinations on Earth, which creates enormous economic opportunity even as it places the region’s travel industry under unprecedented pressure to innovate. MIST’s uniqueness in the global travel industry is underscored by its winners BambooLao and Ecohost. These entrepreneurs have risen to the challenge of innovating practical local solutions to real industry problems and needs," said Jens Thraenhart, co-organizer of MIST and executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.

The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office administers MIST with the endorsement of the Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam national tourism organizations.


Image credit: @kensingtonroyal
Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were welcomed to Sydney this week and greeted by Australia’s Governor-General His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d), Lady Cosgrove and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian during a reception at Admiralty House.

Representatives from the 18 countries competing in the Invictus Games also welcomed the Royal couple at the start of their 10-day visit to Australia.

After the short reception at Admiralty House, Ms Berejiklian took the Royals on a tour of Taronga Zoo, where The Duke and Duchess of Sussex met their namesake koala joeys, Harry and Meghan - a wedding gift from the people of NSW.

On Thursday, the Royal couple touched down in Dubbo and were greeted by Member for Dubbo Troy Grant, providing an opportunity to meet with the local community who have been affected by the recent drought.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have today continued their Sydney tour ahead of the 2018 Invictus Games.

The Invictus Games kick-off on Saturday 20 October and conclude on 27 October, 2018. To purchase tickets, click here.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Viet Nam has six more national intangible cultural heritages

A boat procession during the Thanh Liet Temple Festival
in the central province of Nghe An (Photo:
Viet Nam has added six more cultural icons to the list of national intangible cultural heritages under a recent decision by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The additional heritages include a forest worshiping ceremony of the Phu La ethnic minority in the northern mountain province of Ha Giang’s Xin Man district; the Nang Hai Festival or Moon Festival of the ethnic Tay Ngan in Ha Giang province’s Bac Quang district; the Thanh Liet Temple Festival in the central province of Nghe An’s Hung Nguyen district; the Thuong Liet Village Festival in the northern province of Thai Binh’s Dong Hung district; the Doc Cuoc Temple Festival in the central province of Thanh Hoa’s Sam Son town; and the Tho Vuc Temple Festival in the northern province of Tuyen Quang’s Son Duong district.

The six intangible cultural heritages recognised this time belong to two categories of social religious customs and traditional festivals.

In the decision, the culture ministry assigned the authorities at all levels in localities where intangible cultural heritages are located to be responsible for management of the heritages within the scope of their duties and in accordance with the law and regulations on cultural heritages.

Earlier, in September, the culture ministry announced eight additional national intangible cultural heritages.

They include papermaking by the Dao Do ethnic people in Bac Quang district, Ha Giang province; Dum singing in Thuy Nguyen district, the northern port city of Hai Phong; Qua Son Temple Festival in Do Luong district, Nghe An province; as well as Lang Suong Temple Festival in Thanh Thuy district, the northern province of Phu Tho.

Others consist of the coming of age worship ritual by the E De ethnic group in Son Hoa district, the central province of Phu Yen; Ba Linh Son Thanh Mau (Mother Goddess of the Mountain) Festival in the southern province of Tay Ninh; water puppetry in Dong Hung district, Thai Binh province; as well as the traditional bronze casting of Che village in Thieu Hoa district, Thanh Hoa province.

As of September 2018, the country boasted nearly 260 national intangible cultural heritages.
Source: VNS/VNA

Exhibition on Kate festival 2018 opens in Ninh Thuan

An exhibition featuring the 2018 Kate Festival, the most important annual celebration of the ethnic Cham Brahman community, opened in the central province of Ninh Thuan on October 8.

On the occasion, Mukha Linga and Po Long Girai statues, along with Nandin, Patil, and Banal sacred bulls, costumes, and musical instruments were introduced to the public, contributing to maintaining, preserving, and upholding values of national cultural heritage.

Le Xuan Loi, Director of the Research Centre for Cham Culture in Ninh Thuan, said the display aims to popularise the unique culture of the Cham ethnic group in Ninh Thuan amongst domestic and foreign visitors.

On the occasion of Kate festival 2018, antique collectors from across the nation and abroad donated 14 valuable objects of different materials and dates to the centre, which offer visitors an insight into the iron casting, pottery making, and fabric weaving of the Cham people.

Since 2010, the centre has received over 900 valuable artifacts from antique collectors.
Source: VNA

Ox racing festival in An Giang kicks off

Bay Nui (Seven Mountains) Ox Racing Festival 2017
(Photo: VNA)
The annual Bay Nui (Seven Mountains) Ox Racing Festival kicked off on October 8 in Tinh Bien district, the Mekong Delta province of An Giang, attracting thousands of people.

This year, 64 pairs of oxen from An Giang and neighbouring provinces competed in the event.

The pair of oxen owned by farmer Nguyen Thanh Tai from Chau Lang commune of Tri Ton district won first prize, while the pairs of oxen owned by farmer Nguyen Van Cuoc from Nui Voi commune in Tinh Bien district and farmer Chau Ranh Ra from Van Giao commune in Tinh Bien district finished second and third, respectively.

The festival is part of the Sene Dolta, one of the most important annual festivals of the Khmer community in the southwest region, along with Chol Chnam Thmay (New Year) and Ooc Oom Bok, a festival honouring the moon for a good harvest.

The oxen racing festival commemorates the merits of the Khmer’s ancestors and wishes for happiness and peace for their souls.

The event is held from the 30th day of the eighth lunar month until the second day of the ninth lunar month each year, falling on October 8-10 this year.

During the event, the Khmer people pay tribute to their ancestors and take part in activities with traditional songs and dances after a year of hard work.
Source: VNA

Vietjet opens sales for Phu Quoc– Seoul route

Budget airline Vietjet Air has opened sales for the air route linking Viet Nam’s Phu Quoc island and the Republic of Korea (RoK)’s capital city of Seoul, in order to meet the increasing travel demands during the year-end festive seasons.

Accordingly, the new route, connecting two famous tourist destinations of Viet Nam and the RoK, will operate a daily return flight from December 22, 2018, with a flight time of around 5 hours 30 minutes per leg.

The flight will depart from Phu Quoc at 15:30 and arrive in Seoul at 22:45 (local time). The return flight will take off from Seoul at 01:45 (local time) and lands in Phu Quoc at 05:35.
Tickets for the new route are available via all sales channels, with a special promotion running between 12:00 to 14:00 (GMT+7) everyday on (also compatible with smartphones at or (just click the “Booking” tab).

Payments can easily be made with international debit and credit cards, including Visa/ MasterCard/ AMEX/ JCB/ KCP/Union, or with any ATM card issued by 34 Vietnamese banks and registered for internet banking.
Source: NDO

Viet Nam ideal for Asia first-timers

A bowl of bun oc (snail noodle soup),
a favourite Ha Noi dish
Viet Nam and Hong Kong are places where travellers should get their first Asia experience, Canadian travel news site Mapped said.

Hong Kong offered a more modern experience while Viet Nam provided a more true and authentic taste of the Asian lifestyle, it said.

Food lovers should visit Ha Noi’s Dong Xuan Market, which offered a variety of food from a bowl of pho to something like snail soup.

Visitors should also take a cruise through Ha Long Bay for jaw-dropping limestone landscapes and fairytale-like pictures of the Gulf of Tonkin, trek around Sa Pa to explore the vast golden rice fields and spend time on the beach or try out the scooter experience.

Viet Nam’s rising star in the global tourism firmament over the last decade has been affirmed by its consistent ranking in global lists by big-name travel publications like The Guardian, CNN, Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, and Rough Guides.

According to its General Statistics Office, Vietnam received 11.6 million foreign visitors in the first nine months of 2018, up 22.9 percent from last year.

In 2018, Viet Nam aims to serve 16 million international tourists and 80 million domestic holidaymakers.
Source: VNS/VNA

Friday, 12 October 2018

Bowen Information Centre Scoops Awards; To Host 2019 QICA Conference

Bowen, at the Top of the Whitsundays, has been announced as the host location for the annual Queensland Information Centres Association Conference in 2019.

The announcement comes on the back of winning the Business Planning & Innovation Award and the Marketing & Media Award at this year’s QICA conference in Hughenden, Outback QLD.

The annual conference brings together tourism industry delegates and representatives from the 111 QICA accredited Visitor Information Centres across Queensland for networking, industry workshops and tours within the region.

Outgoing QICA president Anita Fry congratulated Bowen on being the successful region to host the QICA conference for 2019.

“We are excited to be visiting this gorgeous location, to have you on board and looking forward to attending, networking and bringing everyone together again in 2019” she said.

Bowen Tourism and Business Chairman, Jonathan Freeman, said the announcement was the result of the BTB team working with local businesses to highlight Bowen’s capability to host conferences and provide diverse tour experiences within the Whitsundays region.

“The 2019 QICA Conference will offer the opportunity to showcase Bowen’s beauty to staff from Visitor Information Centres across Queensland so they can promote Bowen and the Whitsundays as a holiday destination within their own centres” he said.

“Winning the Business Planning & Innovation and Marketing & Media Awards in 2018 demonstrates the hard work performed by the BTB team to market Bowen and the Whitsundays through new and ground-breaking technologies. The QICA conference in 2019 will allow us to showcase our innovative approach to destination marketing and the ways we are ensuring our Visitor Information Centre remains relevant into the future”.

Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer Natassia Wheeler congratulated Bowen Tourism and Business for winning the Business Planning & Innovation Award and the Marketing & Media Award.

“This is a well-deserved accolade and is a testament to the passionate and dedicated team at Bowen who continue to deliver innovative marketing initiatives for the region,” she said.

Mrs Wheeler also highlighted the significance of drawing the QICA Conference to Bowen next year.

“The flow on effects that a conference of this scale has on the broader Whitsundays region is huge and it is such an honour to be the destination chosen to host next year’s QICA Conference,” she said.

The 2019 QICA conference will be held in October, with planning to commence early in the new year.

2,500 hairstylists will meet in Vienna in September 2019

On 29 and 30 September 2019 more than 2,500 hair stylists from all over the world will convene at Reed Messe Wien for Global Zoom 19. The Goldwell.KMS Global Zoom event is held in a different city each year. After Stockholm in 2016, Barcelona in 2017 and Toronto in 2018, Vienna was chosen as the destination for 2019.

Hosted by Japanese chemicals and cosmetics group KAO, the hair styling fair will present industry trends as well as styling products from its Goldwell and KMS brands. A series of seminars will give international hairdressers an opportunity to find out more about the latest cutting, coloring and styling trends. The world’s top hairstylists will compete against each other in the live competitions for the coveted title of Color Zoom Global Winner. Another highlight is the gala show at the HOFBURG Vienna at which the annual haute coiffeur collection is presented.

WTM London 2018

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“WTM is the premier meeting place for senior travel industry professionals every year. It is the one gathering I do not miss.”

Stephen Meyer, Virtual Pictures Corporation

Wednesday, 10 October 2018


Rally Australia
NSW has once again been recognised as the home of major events with Sydney and Coffs Harbour both bestowed the International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA) 2018 World Festival and Event City Award.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said, “This is the ninth time Sydney has won this accolade and is the only global destination to have received this Award annually since its inception.

“Vivid Sydney is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown, with the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas this year attracting more than 2.2 million people and a record $172.9 million in visitor expenditure, completely reinvigorating the Harbour City’s traditionally quiet Winter trading period,” she said.

Coffs Harbour also received the Award for the fourth year in a row. The region has hosted some of the biggest sporting events in Australia over the past year, including Rally Australia, the Australian Ladies Classic and Women’s NSW Golf Open, the FFA National Youth Championships and two one-day internationals as part of the Women’s Ashes series.

In addition to Sydney and Coffs Harbour being named the IFEA World Festival and Event Cities, NSW scooped the pool with Vivid Sydney being announced the IFEA 2018 Grand Pinnacle Award winner along with 14 Gold Awards, five Silver Awards and one Bronze for major event marketing activities.

A full list of NSW’s wins at the 2018 IFEA Awards is available here.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018


Ovolo Hotels.
Sydney’s hotel industry is set to undergo its most profound transformation ever, with a new generation of hotels expected to add over 11,000 rooms in the next ten years and introduce new hospitality concepts, according to a new hotel innovation research report released today by Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA).

The report highlights how new global and local hotel brands, new designs, new technologies and new guest-centric services are changing the face of Sydney’s – and Australia’s – accommodation sector.

TAA Chief Executive Officer Carol Giuseppi said, “Sydney is undergoing the most fundamental change to its accommodation sector since the arrival of international hotels in the 1970s.

“Already we have seen international groups like Hilton bring their cutting-edge Curio brand to Sydney, while Marriott has introduced the Autograph Selection, and Accor their boutique MGallery by Sofitel collection. Ovolo has its unique lifestyle hotels, IHG is planning Voco and Indigo hotels and there have been many other announcements of boutique brands planned for the city.

“The regeneration of Sydney’s accommodation sector is vital to the tourism market as international and domestic travel continues to grow strongly. With a full calendar of high-profile events and conferences, the new wave of hotels across the city will ensure Sydney is able to cater for future growth in demand for the foreseeable future.”

The full report is available via

Monday, 8 October 2018

Museum tells the story of Ha Noi’s history and culture

Ha Noi Museum
What makes the Ha Noi Museum different from other museums is that its collection includes thousands of objects donated by people from around the country. A number of the objects are precious and have been preserved by families for many generations.

With their love for Ha Noi, many collectives and individuals have presented their “piece of memories” to the museum, helping to tell the story of the capital’s history and culture.

Hearing about the Ha Noi Museum’s call for donations, Tiem and his 83-year-old mother Nguyen Thi Tung decided to offer objects which have been preserved by his family for many years, including sets of costumes and accessories for Mother Goddess worshipping ritual.

Nguyen Van Tiem from Van Tu Commune, Thuong Tin District, Ha Noi had respectfully offered incense to his ancestors before giving the Ha Noi Museum these items. Many of the items are centuries old and are considered the family’s treasure.

At a ceremony held by the museum to receive donations, Tiem said that some of the items were used by his grandfather a half of century ago during the Mother Goddess worshipping ritual.

His family have received many offers from others but they refused to sell the items at any price.
A spirit mediumship ritual is considered a primitive and superstitious practice among some people, Tiem expressed his hope that by donating objects which are related to the Mother Goddess religion, the public will get a clear and proper understanding of the traditional practice.

The Ha Noi Museum was inaugurated eight years ago and is still in the process of completing tis collection for display. The museum’s collection is intended to give an overview of Ha Noi, ranging from its natural geography and history to culture and society, requiring a huge number of exhibits.

Due to its small budget, the museum’s managing board raised an initiative of calling for support and donation from people to complete the collection. The appeal has received an enthusiastic response from collectives and individuals who support Ha Noi city’s cultural development.
Director of Ha Noi Museum, Nguyen Tien Da said that the objects will be systemised to help visitors have a clear view on the history and culture of Ha Noi through different periods.

“We are deeply touched by donors’ whole-hearted contributions as some of the items have strong attachment to the families of the donors,” he stressed.
With a total of 140 items, Nguyen Van Tiem’s family are among the donors who gave the largest number of precious objects to the museum.

Apart from Tiem, there are also touching stories of other donors, including Trieu Thi Thuc, who donated silk products and a picture of Van Phuc silk village. Thuc also presented a silk sample featuring hoa ban (Bauhinia flower) to the museum. It was created by her husband, late People’s Artisan Nguyen Huu Chinh, who was a seasoned craftsman of the village.

Thuc said that as the Chairman of Van Phuc Craft Village Association, her husband had devoted his whole life to restoring and promoting the craft of silk weaving in Van Phuc village. She shared that her eyes became full of tears whenever she saw objects relating to her husband.

She decided to present the mementos to the museum so that the descendants and people can admire the charm of Van Phuc’s silk weaving craft.

During its object raising programme in 2018, The Ha Noi Museum received more than 1,000 items, which are expected to go on show to the public on Ha Noi’s Liberation Day on October 10, 2019.

Other prominent donors included painter Nguyen Manh Duc, who offered a set of worshipping objects; Pham Van Nen from Lai Xa village, Kim Chung Commune, Hoai Duc District, who presented a documentary photo collection of the village’s traditional trade of photography; Quach Phan Tuan Anh from Dinh Cong Ward, Hoang Mai District, who donated a set of tools used in silver carving.

Covering an area of nearly 54,000 square metres on Pham Hung street, the inverted pyramid-shaped Ha Noi Museum was inaugurated in October 2010 as a significant construction to welcome the millennial anniversary of Thang Long – Ha Noi.

Thanks to the donors, it can be proudly said that Ha Noi Museum is being built by the hearts of Ha Noi citizens.
Source: NDO


Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Dubbo and Mudgee are likely to be on more Hong Kong travellers’ must-see lists, thanks to a cooperative marketing initiative between the State’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, and the Hong Kong travel trade.

Member for Dubbo Troy Grant said the collaboration with Cathay Pacific Airways and their top 10 travel agents was a new initiative for Destination NSW, designed to increase visitor expenditure in rural and regional NSW.

“Never before have we promoted travel itineraries that include Mudgee and Dubbo via Cathay Pacific Airways,” Mr Grant said.

“Last month the Hong Kong travel agents experienced our region first-hand, exploring Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Mudgee wineries and some of our best boutique luxury accommodation, helping them to promote and sell Country NSW to their clients back home.”

The promotion will run until the end of October 2018.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Muong Lo Tourism-Culture Week to resume on October 12-14

The Muong Lo Tourism-Culture Week and the Mu Cang Chai Terraced Field Festival will take place in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai on October 12-14, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Duong Van Tien has said.

Many activities will be arranged in the week, including art performances, exhibitions, and a Muong Lo cake festival, among others.

Accordingly, the Miss Muong Lo contest is slated for October 12, while a carnival with the participation of 100 artists and an art performance will take place the next day.

Notably, the “Yen Bai - Heritage Journey” programme which will start on October 13 morning will be a highlight of the events.

Meanwhile, the Mu Cang Chai Terraced Field Festival will also feature various activities, such as a contest of H’Mong panpipe performance, a goat fight, community tourism activities and a photo exhibition on terraced paddy fields by domestic famous photographers.

Earlier, Yen Bai decided to suspend all recreational activities in the province, including the Muong Lo Tourism-Culture Week and the Mu Cang Chai Terraced Field Festival, due to President Tran Dai Quang’s sudden passing.

Mu Cang Chai has 500 hectares of rice terraces in La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and De Xu Phinh communes, cultivated by the H'mong people for centuries. The local terraces are among the 2,500 hectares recognised as national heritage sites in 2007 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The locality is about 1,000 metres above sea level, making it impossible to grow rice the same way as in the plain. Local residents grow rice in terraced fields to make the full use of the limited water flow.

Terraced fields in Mu Cang Chai are beautiful year-round. Visitors in March can see glittering ponds before locals start to cultivate rice between April and May. After May, the hills are covered in green until the fields start to turn golden with ripening rice in early September.

During the harvest in October, the golden rice fields stand out amidst green forests.
Source: VNA