Friday, 31 January 2020


UNWTO urges tourism industry to take climate action
at the UN climate change conference in Madrid.
Transport-related emissions from tourism are expected to account for 5.3 per cent of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, up from 5 per cent in 2016, according to a new report from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Transport Forum (ITF).

At the same time, as tourist numbers rise and the sector makes progress in achieving low-carbon travel, emissions per passenger kilometre International Transport Forumre expected to decline over the coming decade.

Against this backdrop, UNWTO is calling for enhanced cooperation between the transport and tourism sectors to effectively transform tourism for climate action.

Launched at an official side-event of the One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme during the UN Climate Summit, COP25 in Madrid, the Transport Related CO2 Emissions of the Tourism Secto report presents the emissions produced by the different modes of tourism transport.

As the number of both international and domestic tourists continues to rise, this data is presented alongside the predicted growth in emissions to 2030 and is set against the ‘current ambition’ for the decarbonisation of transport.

“This comprehensive study analyses the environmental impact of the different modes of transport within the tourism sector. It is now for the tourism sector, especially tourism policy makers, to use data effectively and ensure the sector plays a leading role in addressing the climate emergency,” UNWTO executive director Manuel Butler said at the event.

Ovais Sarmad, the deputy executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, added: “While tourism is mentioned in many Nationally Determined Contributions as a big concern, not enough has yet been done. Industry must do more, but governments must align their policies, so that at the international level, we can collectively work to increase ambition. The One Planet Sustainable Tourism Program is a vital ongoing mechanism to promote sustainable tourism around the world.”

Some of the main findings from the study are:
  • Transport-related CO2 emissions from tourism are predicted to increase by 25 per cent, from 1,597 million tonnes to 1,998 million tonnes between 2016 and 2030.
  • During the same period, international and domestic arrivals are expected to increase from 20 billion to 37 billion, mainly driven by domestic tourism, followed by international arrivals.
  • Transport-related emissions from tourism represented 5 per cent of all man-made emissions in 2016 and will increase to 5.3 per cent by 2030.
  • Tourism-related transport emissions represented 22 per cent of all transport emissions in 2016, and will continue doing so in 2030.

Tourism’s transport-related CO2 emissions remain a major challenge and require tourism to work closely with transport in order to support its commitment to accelerate the decarbonisation process.

Read the full article at TTG Asia:

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
c/o 3rd Floor, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 154 Rama 1 Road, National Stadium, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: +66 2038 5071-1
Mobile: +66 8555 44234, +66 8098 95853

China now flush with tourism toilets


The campaign for a “toilet revolution” in the tourism sector is steadily progressing with the target for 2019 surpassed, senior officials from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said at a news conference on Tuesday.

About 22,300 new tourism toilets have been constructed so far this year - 17 per cent more than the 2019 target, according to a news release by the ministry.

The ministry is also making an effort to help travellers find the locations of toilets on electronic maps.

“So far, about 98,000 tourism toilets nationwide can be located on e-maps like Baidu Map, accounting for 82 per cent of their total number,” Li Hong, the ministry’s director of public services, said at the news conference.

“People can locate the nearest toilet on the e-map, and they can also get information about the toilet’s facilities and appearance.”

He said that the priority of the campaign for the “toilet revolution” in the tourism sector will be transferred from construction to management in 2020 to improve future implementation.

“Cleanliness and convenience are key elements for tourism toilets,” he said, adding that mobile toilets should be promoted at attractions to relieve pressure during travel rushes.

Also, an amendment of the standards used to classify and evaluate tourism toilets is in the pipeline to improve the quality of tourism services across the country.

Early in 2017, the former China Tourism Administration which merged with the ministry last year - released a three-year action plan in which 47,000 tourism toilets were to be constructed and 17,000 renovated between 2018 and 2020.

Read the full article at asia one:

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
c/o 3rd Floor, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 154 Rama 1 Road, National Stadium, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: +66 2038 5071-1
Mobile: +66 8555 44234, +66 8098 95853

Vietnam Aims to Grow Economy by 7 Percent in 2020

People visit a supermarket in Hanoi, AP Photo/Minh Hoang
Vietnam’s government is seeking to expand the country’s economy by seven percent this year. The goal would be one of Vietnam’s highest growth rates yet and could be greater than China’s expected economic expansion in 2020.

The Vietnam-based financial services company SSI Research reported the goal on January third. The Vietnamese central government set a target for its Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, to increase 6.8 to seven percent. GDP represents the value of all goods and services produced within a country during one year.

SSI Research said the growth is expected to be driven by investments in manufacturing, a lack of trade disputes involving Vietnam and a rising middle class. Manufacturing is predicted to be the leading area of growth, followed closely by the service industry, SSI Research said.

The Asian Development Bank keeps economic data of Asian countries. Its information shows that a seven percent expansion rate would place Vietnam among the 10 fastest-growing Asian economies this year. It also would put Vietnam ahead of China. The development bank has predicted a six percent rate for China in 2020.

Song Seng Wun is an economist with CIMB, a banking group in Singapore. He told VOA that much of Vietnam’s predicted growth in 2020 will come from money flowing into factories, offices and port operations.

Experts say foreign-supported manufacturing is expected to lead the country’s economy in 2020, just as it has for the past seven years. Song said a lot of foreign investors like, what he calls, “government stability” in Vietnam. Pay for factory workers in Vietnam can also be low. They can receive as little as $132 a month.

Most of the investors come from Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The companies’ Vietnamese factories produce things like clothing, car parts and electronics.

In the first half of 2019, foreign investment projects were expected to reach $9.1 billion. That would be a nearly eight percent increase over the same period in 2018. That information comes from the website of the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Besides manufacturing, economic experts say tourism and improvements in higher education are also expected to increase growth.

Between 2010 and 2018, the number of foreign tourists in Vietnam increased from 5 million to more than 15 million. This growth was mainly fueled by an increase in Chinese visitors.

Read the full article at VOA:

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
c/o 3rd Floor, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 154 Rama 1 Road, National Stadium, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: +66 2038 5071-1
Mobile: +66 8555 44234, +66 8098 95853

How Thailand Is Looking To New Markets To Boost Tourism

In Thailand, long a popular destination in the tropics, there’s a new group helping push the number of visitors higher than ever.

Thailand welcomed a record 39 million visitors in 2019, up from 38 million the year before, according to the country’s Tourism and Sports Ministry.

While European and Chinese tourists still make up the bulk of Thailand’s arrivals, visitors from India are rising fast. The number of Indian travellers rose 22% to 1.9 million last year, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. They generated 84 billion baht or 2.8 billion in revenue, a 27% increase.

“This shift has been a big deal for Thailand’s tourism industry,” says Pitinut Pupatwibul, senior vice president, JLL Hotels and Hospitality APAC. “While there were unwarranted concerns of over a decline of Chinese visitors, it just goes to show the potential of new markets opening up to foreign travel.”

Behind the wave of Indian tourists are more direct flights from India to Thailand’s hot vacation spots like Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, Pupatwibul says, while “the visa-waiver program for Indian travellers has been another boost.”

Rising incomes will travel

An expanding Indian middle class has been key for countries like Thailand to attract new visitor groups. The potential is similar to what started happening with Chinese tourists around 10 years ago, Pupatwibul says.

Chinese travellers abroad have had a huge impact on tourism industries in countries around the world over the last decade. In Thailand alone, Chinese visitor numbers went from 800,000 in 2008 to more than 10 million in 2018.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimates than Indian outbound tourists will hit 50 million this year.

“Emerging economies like India are a big source of new visitors for countries,” Pupatwibul says. “The potential for growth is enormous. And Thailand being so attractive as a travel destination – and in the same region – is part of why it’s set to be such a clear benefactor.”

The case for Thailand
A challenge for Thailand will be finding ways to keep the momentum going, which could prove difficult as airlines from India to Thailand are already at full capacities. Small airports such as Phuket’s are unable to handle more flights from India.

“Thailand needs to work with airports, airlines and hotels to make sure they’re able to cope with the demand, not just from India,” says Pupatwibul. “There are some efforts being made such as the waiver on visa on arrival, talk of blockchain visas being adopted to streamline the process, or cutting of airport landing fees for international flights, which are positive steps.”

Airports at beach destinations such as Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samui could also increase capacity, she says. These three islands registered an increase of international arrivals of 27%, 24% and 14%, respectively, according to JLL’s Global Resort Report.

Read the full article at Hospitality Net:

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
c/o 3rd Floor, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 154 Rama 1 Road, National Stadium, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: +66 2038 5071-1
Mobile: +66 8555 44234, +66 8098 95853


The FREE event celebrates all things effervescent with more than 60 sumptuous sparkling wines from premium Australian and international producers, including: Iron Gate Estate, De Beaurepaire Wines, Hungerford Hill, Wine SelectorsRowlee WinesTulloch WinesPetersons WinesFerrari Maximum RoseVinden WinesDrayton's Family WinesBarringwood EstateFreeman VineyardsDirect Wine CellarsThe Ridge North LilydaleHanging Tree Wines, Brave New World and Peterson House Ltd and more.

From Sparkling Cuvee, Malbec, Shiraz, Pinot Chardonnay, Moscato, Zibibbo, Prosecco and Cava to sparkling gins tasters from small batch producer Buffalo Vale, craft beers by Six String Brewing Company and sparkling ales by Frenchies Brewery – bubble connoisseurs will be spoilt for choice by the diverse array of beverages on offer!

The event also boasts a mouthwatering offering of gourmet foods. Attendees can look forward to signature dishes from Sydney’s modern Asian fusion heroes Jimmy Liks, delicious Sydney Rock oysters fresh from the Ralson Bros South Coast NSW farm, Sofrito’s Spanish Paella, delectable French dishes from Frenchies Bistro and Crepe de FranceLucio Pizzeria’s award winning pizzas, vegan delights at the Vege for Love Food Truck and hand-made Italian gnocchi by The Gnocchi Way.

Sparkling SYDNEY has you covered with a sensational selection of fresh produce ranging from locally produced charcuterie to cheeses, award-winning salamis, gourmet condiments and even Champagne soaps. So remember to bring your shopping basket and take a piece of ‘Sparkling’ home with you.

A must attend event for wine lovers across the city, Sparkling SYDNEY offers a one of a kind sensory experience amidst the idyllic backdrop of Sydney Harbour, expertly curated to the day’s central theme ‘SPARKLING’.

Treat yourself to an unforgettable day of effervescent excellence this May at Sparkling SYDNEY!

WHAT: Sparkling SYDNEY
WHEN: Sunday 24 May, 2020. 11am - 5pm
WHERE: Pirrama Park, Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont
TICKETS: FREE - Tasting Packages start $26

Beautiful Blossoms in Japan

Enjoy an early Hanami in Japan! Although cherry blossoms are generally associated with hanami, or flower-viewing parties, the ume (plum) blossom is also a well-known sign of the coming of spring for many Japanese. 

There are plenty of places to enjoy viewing plum blossoms. Perhaps the most famous and early-blooming trees can be found in Atami Plum Garden and Kairakuen in Mito. 

Both locations are about an hour and half from Tokyo Station and make for a great day trip to experience an important Japanese spring tradition.

This is the best time to enjoy🌸🌷
Just 40 minutes from Tokyo Station by TOKAIDO Bullet Train
Enjoy nature, away in a crowded city!

Mount Fuji is considered a woman by the Japanese because of its beautiful curves.When a handsome man comes near, she hides herself in the clouds because she is shy, and when a beautiful woman comes, she hides in the clouds because she is jealous

Tourism Shizuoka Japan(TSJ) Welcome to the Majestic home of Mount Fuji!
Yamamura Bldg. Otemachi 10F, 2-20 Otemachi Aoi-ku422-0853 Shizuoka
Get Directions
  +81 54-204-0066
Send message

Balloons Over Bagan celebrate 20

The World Heritage town’s original hot-air balloon experience is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The first balloon ride lifted off above the historic pagodas 31 December 1999 and survived through the thick and thin of Myanmar’s chequered history dominated by intransigent military rulers.

For decades the country was off-limits to visitors and faced international sanctions over human rights abuses.

“Balloons Over Bagan pioneered a vision of portraying Myanmar history at a time when the country was unknown to most travellers,” said parent company Memories Group’s CEO Cyrus Punof.

“Sailing through the skies in these burgundy balloons has become a once-in-a-lifetime experience for thousands of international visitors from around the world, and will continue to be for decades to come, but most importantly it has contributed hugely to the local community, including our staff, many of whom have been with us since we first began.”

There were eight passengers on board the first flight and another eight ground staff supporting the inaugural flight, none of whom had ever seen a hot-air balloon before.

Move on 20 years, and 17,500 flights later, the Balloons Over Bagan operates an average of 12 hot-air balloon flights daily and employs more than 200 ground crew.

“Following the huge popularity in Bagan, in 2013 we introduced balloons at Inle Lake, and in January 2020 we will launch in the picturesque town of Loikaw in northeastern Myanmar,” said the current general manager U Tun Thura. “And in all that time, we have never had any accidents or injuries,” he claimed. “The only ‘accidents’ we can recall are passengers dropping their phones or cameras out of the basket.”

At the height of its empire between the 10th and 13th centuries, Bagan was a cultural centre for Buddhism and boasted no less than 10,000 temples, stupas and monasteries. The kingdom collapsed in 1287 AD following successive Mongol invasions.

A devastating earthquake in 2016 destroyed some 400 temples and monuments, and major renovation plans were subsequently drawn up plus a ban was enacted to prevent visitors from climbing on the temples.

This resulted in a surge of hot-air balloon rivals, as authorities, tour operators and visitors alike began to acknowledge that ballooning was by far the most sustainable way to view the ancient ruins without damaging them. The archaeological site was finally awarded UNESCO conservation status in July 2019.

Read the full article at TTR Weekly:

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
c/o 3rd Floor, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 154 Rama 1 Road, National Stadium, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: +66 2038 5071-1
Mobile: +66 8555 44234, +66 8098 95853


Vietnam and Laos have agreed to further co-operation in culture and tourism at a talk between the officials of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Vietnam and the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism of Laos.

The Vietnamese delegation was headed by Minister Nguyen Ngoc Thien and the Lao delegation by Minister Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune.

At the talk held in Vientiane on December 5, Minister Nguyen Ngoc Thien congratulated the important Laos’ achievements after four years of implementing successfully the resolution of the 10th Party Congress, successfully organising Party congresses at all levels towards the 11th National LPRP Congress. The Minister congratulated Laos on the prosperous developments.

Minister Nguyen Ngoc Thien also suggested that the Lao should coordinate to well organise the Cultural Weeks in each country; prepare and unify the content of the Vietnam-Laos cooperation agreement on arts, culture, and tourism for the period 2021 – 2025, especially for 2022 with many major events to mark the establishment of Vietnam-Laos diplomatic relations.

Meanwhile, Minister Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune suggested that the two sides continue to exchange information related to domestic and international situations, and experiences in the field of culture and tourism; asked Vietnam to support Laos in completing the dossier for UNESCO to recognise Hin Namno National Park in Khammuan Province as a world natural heritage. Vietnamese side has the basis of suggestions and corrections before submitting to UNESCO. The Lao side also asked Vietnam to support the organisation of short-term, medium-term and long-term training courses on Information, culture and tourism for Laos’ officials.

Read the full article at Nhan Dan:

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
c/o 3rd Floor, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 154 Rama 1 Road, National Stadium, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: +66 2038 5071-1
Mobile: +66 8555 44234, +66 8098 95853

A Sweet View for Your Valentine!

Celebrate the most romantic day of all, Valentine’s Day on Friday 14 February 2020 and be seduced by the spectacular beauty of Sydney Harbour on one of Captain Cook’s Valentine’s Day Dinner cruises.

All Valentine cruises are held onboard flagship vessel, MV Sydney 2000 featuring three dining decks each with their own bar and dance floor and an open top deck offering uninterrupted views of Sydney Harbour and the starlit night sky.

For the ultimate in romance Captain Cook Cruises Gold Penfolds Dinner cruise, offers it all.

Indulge in a six-course degustation menu, an open bar of Gold Penfolds bin and vintage wines, beer and spirits, priority boarding and live entertainment. Watch a romantic sunset from the open top deck and delight in the picturesque sights of Sydney Harbour.

The Gold Penfolds Dinner cruise is priced at $265 per person and departs at 7.00pm from Wharf 6, Circular Quay returning at 9.30pm or at 7.30pm from King Street Wharf No.1, returning at 10.00pm.

Lovers can dance the night away to a live band on the 7.30pm Valentines Dinner & Drinks cruise.

Be treated to a mouth-watering four-course Valentine’s menu, glass of premium Champagne, a chocolate gift and an open bar of house wines, beer and soft drinks, all while enjoying million-dollar Sydney Harbour views.

The 7.30pm Valentines Lovers Dinner & Drinks cruise is priced at $169 per person and departs from King Street Wharf No.1 at 7.30pm returning at 10.00pm.

Kick off the perfect romantic night together on the 5pm Valentine’s Dinner & Drinks cruise.

Enjoy a delicious three-course Valentine’s menu, glass of premium Champagne, chocolate gift and an open bar of house wines, beer and soft drinks.

The 5pm Valentine’s Dinner & Drinks Cruise is $95 per person and departs King Street Wharf No.1 at 5.00pm returning at 6.30pm.

A Valentines Long Lunch cruise is also available and is priced at $109 per person including 3-course a la carte dining, glass of premium Champagne and a chocolate gift. The cruise departs King St Wharf No.1 at 12noon, returning at 3.30pm or from Circular Quay Wharf No.6 at 12.30pm, returning at 3.45pm.

Guaranteed window seating is available for all cruises at an additional cost.

For further information visit:

Three Cambodian cities bid for heritage status

Photo: Points East
One of the many old French buildings in Battambang the government wants Unesco to help preserve. KT/Mai VireakOne of the many old French buildings in Battambang the government wants Unesco to help preserve. (Photo by Khmer Times/Mai Vireak)

The government has asked Unesco to recognize Battambang, Kratie and Kampot as world heritage cities as part of efforts to preserve traditional Khmer and French-colonial architecture.

Tourism Minister Thong Khon said the application will be discussed by member states in June at the Asia Cooperation Dialogue Ministerial Summit on Tourism in Siem Reap province.

Mr Khon said Cambodia wants the sites to be listed because they feature large numbers of historical buildings, adding there are 800 French-style buildings and houses in Battambang alone, according to a report by the .

“Unesco is supporting us to list the sites as world heritage cities, so we are preparing the application,” Mr Khon said. “Listing the sites will help develop them into new tourist destinations.”

Mr Khon said foreigners will appreciate being able to visit Cambodian tourist destinations besides Angkor Wat and the coastal areas. Investors will also be more likely to support development in the three cities once they are recognized by Unesco, he said.

Mr Khon said the Tourism Ministry and Ministry of Culture and Fine Art have already prepared the applications for Unesco. More than 30 tourism ministers will discuss the applications at the Siem Reap summit from June 10 to 15.

Ho Vandy, the secretary-general of the Cambodian National Tourism Alliance, welcomed the move, saying the bid will preserve the cultural heritage of Battambang, Kratie and Kampot for future generations.

“The old buildings in Battambang, Kratie and Kampot combine Cambodian and French traditions. Once recognized by Unesco, all relevant institutions will have to follow procedures to develop and preserve them,” Mr Vandy said.

On Tuesday, Cambodia asked Unesco to register Lakhon Khol dancing and Bokator martial arts on its list of intangible cultural heritage. If the request is approved, it would mean Cambodia could be eligible for extra grant assistance from Unesco, which provides funding for activities aimed at safeguarding cultural heritage.

According to a Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts statement published on Tuesday, a working group of officials has been preparing the applications since December. The applications will be put through rigorous evaluation by international experts before being presented for approval at an intergovernmental committee meeting in 2018.

Cambodia has a total of six Unesco world heritages so far. The Angkor archaeological site was acknowledged in 1992, while Preah Vihear temple made the list in 2008.

Read the full article at Stock Daily Dish:

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
c/o 3rd Floor, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 154 Rama 1 Road, National Stadium, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: +66 2038 5071-1
Mobile: +66 8555 44234, +66 8098 95853

Thursday, 30 January 2020


Photo: VCG
Tourism has witnessed continuous expansion over the years thanks to enhanced visa facilitation, an increasing number of airlines and low-cost flights, the popularity of home-sharing platforms that are cheaper than hotels as well as the widespread application of digital technologies.

Nowadays more people can afford and opt for trips overseas. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide reached 1.4 billion last year, showing a year-on-year growth of 5.4 percent. China was the fourth most popular tourist destination in the world in 2018, behind France, Spain and the United States.

When it comes to the mode of transport, the share of air travel increased from 46 percent in 2000 to 58 percent in 2018, while land transport decreased from 49 percent to 39 percent in the same period.

Apart from being one of the most sought-after destinations, China has also become the largest source of tourists in the world. The total number of overseas trips made by the Chinese reached 150 million in 2018, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

In regard to domestic tourism, people’s wanderlust gets stronger during public holidays. Last year, 5.5 billion trips were made nationwide with major holidays, such as Spring Festival and the National Day holiday, seeing a massive surge in tourist numbers.

However, the obvious economic growth is not the only outcome of tourism development. The swelling number of tourists and the numerous trips made have put enormous pressure on the local environment, people’s lives and wildlife.

Barcelona, for instance, with a population of 1.62 million, saw its record-breaking number of visitors climb from 27 million in 2012 to over 34 million in 2016, which is 20 times of the local population. Overtourism ultimately led to overcrowded public places and increased the cost of rental housing for local residents. In early 2017, over 150,000 people joined an anti-tourism protest with banners saying “Tourists go home.”

The same year was designated as the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development” by the United Nations to raise the global awareness of sustainable tourism development.

For us travelers, admittedly, it’s much easier to ignore the hidden cost of every journey made. However, each individual shares the responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint wherever we go and be a responsible traveler. Here are few tips to incorporate sustainability into your future trips:

1. Avoid overcrowded destinations and peak times. Those hotspots that become social media sensations are more likely to draw tourists. However, instead of competing with massive crowds for a common sight, by going somewhere lesser known, you can have more fun in a less touristy spot and also have a positive impact on the local economy.

2. Less air travel. Air travel is many people’s first choice due to its convenience and speed. However, aircraft emit a staggering amount of greenhouse gases. The next time you travel around China, try the high-speed trains. They’re more energy efficient, eco-friendly and, in many cases, cheaper.

Read the full article at CGTN:

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
c/o 3rd Floor, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 154 Rama 1 Road, National Stadium, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: +66 2038 5071-1
Mobile: +66 8555 44234, +66 8098 95853

Romance is Alive in Colorado

Loveland's New Lock Sculpture. Credit: Visit Loveland.
A romantic stay in Colorado may conjure images of keeping warm by the fire after a day on the slopes; however the mountainous state is open to an array of romantic getaways year-round – from locking your love at Loveland’s new love lock sculpture to staying in rustic wooden chalets in former mining ghost towns or taking a dip in one of the state’s many natural hot springs, Colorado’s majestic scenery can be the backdrop to an array of exotic honeymoons and idyllic couples’ retreats. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, we’ve selected the top locations for love across the state:

America’s Sweetheart Town, Loveland, is celebrating its 74th Valentine’s Season with the USA’s largest Valentine’s festival, Valentine’s Day Group Wedding and a new Love Lock sculpture being revealed.

Wondering where to say ‘I do’? The land of love will be home to many couples tying the knot on 14 February at a group wedding in the city’s Foundry Plaza. Everyone is invited to this candlelit ceremony which has readings and music voted on by wedding couples, with all licenses that get issued from Loveland having a special ‘Sweetheart City’ designation. Also taking place this Valentine’s weekend, following the iconic status of Loveland’s original love lock sculpture, a second lock sculpture will be revealed in the city, where visitors – and the newly married couples – can hang their love lock as a symbol of love and commitment. The heart-shaped sculpture will sit in the Foundry Plaza of downtown Loveland for six weeks after its debut at The Loveland Sweetheart Festival (14 – 15 February), moving to the romantic shores of Lake Loveland thereafter.

For those who aren’t able to make it to the Land of Love, the city’s historic remailing program enables you to send cards and love letters with a special collector’s stamp and postmark from Loveland, with a group of 50 volunteers who play cupid in the first two weeks of February for romantics from all 50 states of the U.S. and 110 countries.

Get hitched in Loveland this Valentine's Day. 
Credit: K. Jean Photography, Visit Loveland.
If glamping in an 1800’s ghost town has you romanticising about times gone by, Dunton Hot Springs is the ultimate escape into the great outdoors of America’s Old West, where luxury can be found in its experiences and its accommodation, away from the crowds.

Set in an alpine valley in the San Juan Mountains, Dunton Hot Springs brings couples closer to nature, with activities ranging from horseback riding to mountaineering, mountain biking, rock climbing, photography and yoga. Hand-hewn log cabins provide a cosy retreat where couples can relax to the sound of nearby waterfalls after a day in the mountains. Any of the eight luxury tents at Dunton River Camp can provide the perfect waterside glamping experience; each is equipped with two mountain bikes ready for couples keen to explore the hundreds of miles of trails surrounding them. Those looking for a more intimate soaking experience can rent the Wellness Cabin, which features a private hot springs bath.

Cosy cabins at Dunton Hot Springs.
Credit: Dunton Destinations
The Broadmoor is home to mountain vistas, relaxing spa breaks and romantic adventures – before even stepping out of the resort. A Forbes five-star, AAA five-diamond historic resort in the Pikes Peak National Forest, The Broadmoor is on the doorstep of some of Colorado’s most iconic and breathtaking scenery; Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak – the mountain from which Katharine Lee Bates penned the lyrics of ‘America The Beautiful’.

Couples and honeymooners can experience Penrose Room, Colorado’s only Forbes five-star, AAA diamond restaurant, or relax with a couples’ spa treatment. The Broadmoor’s Wilderness Experiences make for an extra special stay for those wanting to find seclusion high in a mountain lodge or in a peaceful lakeside cabin.

The Ranch at Emerald Valley is an all-inclusive retreat where guests can hike scenic trails, try fly fishing in one of The Broadmoor’s private lakes or take a romantic horseback ride, before kicking back in one of 13 luxury private cabins in the forest. Cloud Camp – a lodge located 3,000 feet above The Broadmoor – has spectacular 360-degree views of Colorado’s mountainous landscape, which can be explored by day and provide a starlit backdrop at night as couples can relax by the lodge’s open fire.

Luxury awaits at The Broadmoor. Credit: Loren Bedeli.
Glenwood Springs is a steamy geothermal Colorado mountain town, home to world-famous hot springs and year-round adventures. First discovered by the Ute Indians for their healing powers, couples can relax in the region’s hot springs after a day of experiencing the best tree skiing at Sunlight Mountain Resort, rafting the Colorado River as it meanders through Glenwood Canyon, soaking in a mud bath in the Yampah Caves or navigating the rides at the USA’s only mountain theme park.

Glenwood Hot Springs Resort offers the Romance Package where couples are welcomed to pure relaxation with chocolate truffles and a bottle of champagne (or sparkling cider) in their rooms upon arrival. Couples receive a $100 spa credit that can be used at Spa of the Rockies for a couple's massage or for individual treatments; with all guests being able to take advantage of unlimited soaking in the world’s largest geothermal hot spring pool.

Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) is the official travel and tourism office for the state of Colorado. CTO’s mission is to generate traveller spending by promoting Colorado as a four-season, four-corner, world-class travel destination and to develop compelling, sustainable travel experiences. In 2018, Colorado travellers spent $22.3 billion, a 6.7% annual increase. International travellers topped one million visitors for the first time, with a total of 1,049,000. The number of jobs supported by the tourism industry was also at a record high of 174,400.

Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood.
Credit: Visit Glenwood Springs
Colorado is a year-round destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational activities, an abundant arts scene, Western heritage, distinctive cuisine and 28 renowned ski resort areas. The state's diverse landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of four major rivers, numerous peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 12 national parks and monuments and 58 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet, known as ‘Fourteeners’.

Hot or Not: Travel tips, trends and dream destinations for 2020

World Nomads has uncovered the top places that Aussies travelled to in 2019 and no surprise places like America, Thailand, Bali, were the most popular.

As we move into a new year, Australian’s will look to explore the globe with Bhutan, Malta, Portugal and Zambia being on the top of the list of 2020 dream destinations.

Not only are Aussies looking for new destinations that are a little exotic and inspire wanderlust, they are also looking for travel to inspire health and lifestyle choices with sustainable travel leading the charge.

What this travel brand found out about where we went this year (and where we’d like to go in 2020).
As a travel insurance provider, we get some pretty detailed intel’ about the trips people took in 2019 ...they forked out money for coverage so we’re pretty sure they went! We also publish content that inspires travel, so we have an idea of where people want to go, especially if they’re the ethical and sustainable travel type.

1. USA

2. Indonesia

3. Japan

4. Bali (yes, we know it’s in Indonesia, but we allow people to specify.)

5. Canada

6. Europe (because people select Europe rather than an individual European nation it suggests they go to more than one on a trip)

7. New Zealand

8. Thailand

9. Nepal

10. Vietnam

Why not? They’re all great destinations, but we wanted to dive a little deeper and see if we could spot some trends for up-and-coming destinations for 2020. This is what we found.

Are Aussies “over” travel to Thailand?
It’s still in the top ten destinations for adventure seekers, but travel to Thailand is down 30% this year. Despite still being ruled by a military junta it has been politically stable so it’s hard to say why it’s off the list. Perhaps the coronation of the new king in May had a dampening effect. The Aussie dollar has taken a hammering this year and is down 15% against the Thai Baht, so maybe it’s not perceived as a cheap adventure spot anymore. Maybe we all just decided to try somewhere else?

Not connected, but the other big loser in 2019 was Vietnam with 23% fewer World Nomads heading there.

South America is the new Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia’s loss was South America’s gain. With fewer beaten paths in the first place and that unexplored feel Southeast Asia had 40 years ago, World Nomads were exploring Peru (up 324%) and Colombia (up a whopping 706%) in 2019.

Peru has been in the nomadic map for a little while now, visits have increased 564% in the past 4 years. While Machu Picchu is a drawcard, too much love has forced authorities to impose a cap on numbers. But there are many other equally impressive Inca ruins you don’t have to share with 2,500 other visitors.

Colombia? Pablo Escobar was killed by police 26 years ago! Stop streaming episodes of Narcos and check out the destination, it’s awesome.

The 5 Stans on the silk road
There’s something utterly romantic about The Silk Road and Central Asia. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, like Southeast Asia 40 years ago, ooze mystery, appear so completely different to anywhere else on the planet and promise true adventure.

People who travel to The Stans are still an oddity, yet they’re greeted with open arms from a populace still trying to understand why you’re interested in their humble homeland. Maybe it’s the lack of touts and Disneyfication that has fuelled a travel surge: trips to Uzbekistan are up 117% year-on-year (and 79% since 2016), Kyrgyzstan up 55% and Kazakhstan up 10%.

Podcast popularity
World Nomads has a travel podcast which speaks with insiders and locals who have intimate knowledge of a destination. In 2019 the hosts and their guests poked around in every corner of the globe. But the destinations that have had the most listeners are the ones that seem a little exotic and inspire wanderlust.

They make up our top ten dream destinations. Do you agree with the list?
  • Bhutan
  • Malta
  • Portugal
  • Zambia
  • Ecuador
  • Rwanda
  • Georgia
  • Poland
  • Suriname
  • Chile

Hopefully this has given you some ideas for trips to take and places to visit in 2020. If you want to know more about any of them checkout our Explore section, our podcast, our Where Nomads Go guides, our travel safety advice and our insurance plans. Happy holidays and happy travels

*Commentary attributed to travel expert Phil Sylvester from World Nomads.

A special update on our crisis response

A message from Leanne Coddington,

It's certainly not the start to 2020 that any of us would have imagined. Queensland's tourism industry is already facing the direct and indirect impacts of bushfires, and now we have the added challenge of the spread of coronavirus and the subsequent group travel suspension out of China.

Make no mistake, the coming 12 months will be tough however I want to assure you that TEQ is working very closely with our national and interstate counterparts to assess the crisis and progress recovery and response activities as fast as we can. For Tourism Australia to have launched a major domestic campaign in a matter of days is an important demonstration of our collective commitment to support the industry across the country. TEQ's team is also working hard to reprogram marketing activities to ensure we are delivering the right message in the right markets at the right time. There are a large number of international campaigns in-market now to help counter the slow-down in forward bookings - for a full list, see last week's Eye on Q update.

All of our work is being undertaken in close consultation with the Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) across Queensland, and I look forward to working even more closely on aligning our campaigns this year to ensure we gain a share of the voice in what will be a competitive domestic environment.

We are also keeping a close watch on the latest updates from federal and state advisories on the coronavirus, and we are keenly aware that our industry is already feeling the impacts of the group travel suspension. If you've been impacted by cancellations or otherwise, please contact your RTO to provide feedback.

For further information on the coronavirus, Queensland Health is providing the latest updates on the virus and its impacts. You can also read updates from the World Health Organisation including some handy infographics that you could use to help guests understand how to protect themselves and others.

I know it will be a challenging year and our passionate team are here to support you and drive visitation to Queensland.

Leanne Coddington, Chief Executive Officer

Tourism & Events Queensland

Top spots for Chinese travellers

A Hotelbeds’ study shows Thailand, Japan and Singapore lead the top 10 international destinations for Chinese travellers during Chinese New Year that gets underway on 24 January.

The chart leads off with top destination Thailand, followed by Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, the US, Philippines, Spain, and Italy.

Hotelbeds noted that Chinese travellers are visiting a wider range of countries with hotels in 104 countries booked up from 102 last year and 88 in 2018.

Vietnam and South Korea dropped out of the top 10 countries this year, replaced by Spain and Italy respectively.

However, the two Asian destinations remain popular with Chinese tourists coming in 11th and 15th this year.

China remains the fourth biggest source market for Hotelbeds globally, and the company offers Chinese travel intermediaries – such as tour operators, airlines, points redemption schemes, and retail travel agents – access to over 180,000 hotels, 24,000 transfer routes and 18,000 activities, available in over 185 countries.

Hotelbeds managing director China Forrest Zhang confirm a dramatic shift in how people are travelling in recent years.

“Travel demand surges massively during the Chinese New Year, but traditionally this holiday has been spent at home with family in China – and now we are seeing more and more Chinese people travel not just abroad, but to a more distant and wider range of destinations.

The Chinese New Year holiday, also known as Spring Festival, is a seven-day national holiday in China that takes place from Friday, 24 January to Thursday 30 January. The date of the Chinese New Year varies each year, according to China’s lunar calendar, and last year started 6 February.

Read the full article at TTR Weekly:

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
c/o 3rd Floor, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 154 Rama 1 Road, National Stadium, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: +66 2038 5071-1
Mobile: +66 8555 44234, +66 8098 95853

Ho Chi Minh City emerges as medical tourism destination

A foreign patient talks to a Vietnamese doctor.  .
Ho Chi Minh City has emerged as medical tourism destination due to its fast-growing health services and medical technologies, according to local authorities.

The number of overseas Vietnamese and foreigners visiting Việt Nam for medical tourism has increased steadily over the past few years, according to the city’s Department of Tourism.

Treatments span the full range of medical services, with the most common choices of services including dental care, cosmetic surgery, cardiology intervention and fertility treatment.

Last year, more than 357,000 foreign patients visited hospitals in Việt Nam for medical check-ups and treatment, with in-patients accounting for 57,000, generating revenue worth US$2 billion.

HCM City accounted for 40 per cent of the number of foreign patients. The HCM City University Medical Centre, a popular destination for foreign tourists, receives an average of 40-50 foreign patients a day.

Âu Thanh Tùng, head of the hospital’s general planning department, said: “Foreign patients from nearly 80 countries have visited the hospital for medical treatment, with Laos and Cambodia accounting for 80 per cent.”

“The main drivers of medical tourism development are highly competent doctors, modern infrastructure and advanced technology as well as better-quality care.”

Dentistry costs in Việt Nam are three to ten times lower than in other Asian countries, according to the Health Ministry’s Medical Services Administration.

Despite high quality care and lower cost, the number of dental tourists is still modest compared to the total number of foreign visitors to the country.

An average of 100,000 foreign patients have received dental care with annual revenue of VNĐ3.5 billion ($151,200) in recent years.

Experts said that long-term strategic plans and concerted efforts were needed for growth of medical tourism.

The city’s People’s Committee’s plan on medical tourism development for the 2019-25 period calls for expanded emergency medical services for tourists.

The committee also ordered the health sector to focus on developing a medical tourism network that meets international standards.

Tăng Chí Thượng, deputy director of the city’s Department of Health, said that the number of foreign tourists and expatriates in the city had steadily increased, resulting in high demand for emergency and health services.

In recent years, his department has implemented marketing and promotion activities for medical tourism.

In 2018, the city’s Department of Health in coordination with the Department of Tourism released the first guidebook on medical tourism in the city.

Read the full article at Viet Nam News:

Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
c/o 3rd Floor, Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, 154 Rama 1 Road, National Stadium, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: +66 2038 5071-1
Mobile: +66 8555 44234, +66 8098 95853