Saturday, 29 February 2020

Welcome to the former Kingdom of Kotte, and a piece of forgotten history.........

Two ancient stupas stand across a clearing overlooking the ramparts and a man-made reservoir. The hemispherical red kabok mounds that have weathered the elements for centuries is a testimony to its past glory. You may think that this is an out of the way clearing in Anuradhapura, or perhaps somewhere in the plains beyond Kurunegala? Not quite, this is indeed, “Kotte” a former kingdom and suburban Colombo.

A kingdom, which stood in the vicinity of our current suburban-capital for over 200 years, the Kotte Kingdom was one of the strongest the island had known for centuries. History recalls that in 1419, Parkramabahu VI succeeded in subjugating the Jaffna Kingdom, which ruled over a united island- the last native king to control all of Lanka.

Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte (or commonly known as Kotte) is the official, administrative capital of Sri Lanka. Kotte is a satellite city is located within the urban area of Sri Lanka's de facto economic and legislative capital, Colombo.

Our new home will now be known as “La Forteresse”, a masterpiece designed by Anjalendran - one of Sri Lanka's leading architects who played an influential role during the era of Geoffrey Bawa. Anjalendran's creations are known across the Indian subcontinent for their simple directness, modern spirit, and acknowledgement of the rich vernacular traditions of Sri Lanka.

It is with great pride we are announcing moving our office from the current address in Bullers Lane to Baddegana Kotte – finally a permanent home for us.

We plan to close our current office on Friday, March 20 at 2.30 p.m. to begin the moving process and will re-open at our new location on Monday, March 23 at 9:30 a.m.

Our business including the address and the new contact numbers are mentioned below will be fully operational during the moving process assuring you of uninterrupted services.

Please update your records with our new contact information:

Authenticities (Pvt) Ltd. "La Forteresse"
No 68, Veherakanda Road
Pita Kotte, Kotte
Sri Lanka - 10100.

New telephone numbers + 94 112795378
Fax + 94 112887203


Visitors are being encouraged to experience ‘a different kind of outback’ in Broken Hill and the Central Darling region through a new marketing campaign launched this week by the NSW Government.

It’s Out There has been developed by Destination NSW together with Broken Hill City Council and Central Darling Shire.

The campaign was brought to life for more than 200 travel and lifestyle media today with Destination NSW creating a replica pop-up in Sydney of the Heritage-listed outback town’s famous Bells Milk Bar.

The nation’s oldest continuously running milk bar served milkshakes at International Media Marketplace (IMM) – Australia’s largest travel and lifestyle media summit which was held at the International Convention Centre Sydney.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the campaign has been developed to drive visitation to the region and encourage longer stays.

“Many people have heard of Broken Hill and its surrounds, but what they don’t realise is how many incredible, quirky and diverse experiences this region has to offer,” Mr Ayres said.

“This marketing campaign showcases Broken Hill and the Central Darling region as a ‘different kind of outback’ – one that is full of spirit, history, diversity and character to explore and uncover. In addition to its striking landscapes, this region has a strong community of incredible artists, a vibrant drag culture and a unique Aboriginal cultural heritage.”

Broken Hill City Council Mayor Darriea Turley AM said: “Broken Hill City Council has been very keen to get out there and pursue strategic marketing and this campaign will show the world that we can provide a unique and genuine outback experience in the Far West.

“I believe we offer a level of authenticity that is unmatched in the tourism market and our product is showcased perfectly in this campaign,” Ms Turley said.

Central Darling Shire Council Administrator Bob Stewart said, “This marketing campaign reveals the landscape and cultural features that our Shire has to offer… I encourage anyone who has never been here before – come and see it for yourself – you will be surprised and enchanted.”

Minister for Western NSW Adam Marshall said that while towns in the region continue to deal with the impacts of drought, it has never been more important to visit these areas, and provide a cash injection to local economies.

“Whether you’re from the bush, or from the city, there has never been a better time to explore what Broken Hill and the wider Central Darling region has to offer,” Mr Marshall said.

Photo: Delegates from Broken Hill City Council, Destination NSW and NSW Government at IMM in Sydney to launch the new tourism marketing campaign "It's Out There" for Broken Hill and Central Darling. (L-R) Philmah Bocks, General Manager Broken Hill City Council, James Roncon, Broken Hill Mayor, Darriea Turley AM, Chair Destination Country and Outback, Clyde Thomson AM, Broken Heel Festival Director, Esther La Rovere, Acting CEO Destination NSW, Stephen Mahoney, Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism and Major Events, Geoff Provest, General Manager Destination Country and Outback, Lucy White and Art Simone.

Visit Malaysia 2020

Visit Malaysia 2020 brings out the best of what Malaysia has to offer to the world in a single, event-packed year.

The year 2020 holds a special place in the hearts of all Malaysians as we reflect and celebrate all our successes and challenges in transforming a once colonial land, into a thriving, multicultural and dynamic country

Tourism Malaysia

#VM2020 #VisitTrulyAsiaMalaysia #Millennial #ProductionDivision

Sharing what matters at the 2020 Mardi Gras Parade

Today over 12,600 dazzling parade participants will sashay their way up Oxford Street for the 42nd annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade!

"We have some truly wonderful parade floats who have embraced the theme of WHAT MATTERS," says Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger. "From pure celebration and creative self-expression, to floats with a wild and witty protest call to action, the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is an opportunity for us to come together and tell the world about the things that are important to the LGBTQI+ community."

With 191 diverse floats, each taking their own unique take on the festival’s theme WHAT MATTERS, this year’s Parade promises to be a stunning display of celebration, passion and support.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres adds: "Since 2009, the NSW Government has proudly supported the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW. Sydney is a truly cosmopolitan city with a proud history of celebrating diversity, so it’s no wonder visitors flock from all around the globe to witness this incredible display of pride and creativity."

Here are a few floats not to miss:

Climate Change and Sustainability

Following the recent bushfire crisis, several floats are calling attention to the health of our planet. Le Petit Bateau are a collective of artists who are planning a colourful ocean theme float made using plastic bottles and recycled materials. Expect mermaids, sexy octopuses and incredible choreography.

Mardi Gras’ main float focuses on What Matters and is a powerful and creative protest for the world that draws attention to climate and sustainability. The float is built with love for the planet and hope for the future, featuring a genderless puppet Ze, a Gaia to remind people that all of earth’s inhabitants are alive and connected.

Bushfire Heroes
The heroes from the frontline of the recent bushfires will also come together and be celebrated on Parade night. LGBTQI+ community members and their allies from the NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and the NSW State Emergency Services will proudly take to Oxford Street in a symbol of unity for their LGBTQI+ members and the community.

Two community organisations will be commemorating significant anniversaries at the Parade. 35 years ago, St Vincent's Hospital opened the first dedicated HIV/AIDS ward in Australia - 17 South. This year their float pays tribute to how far we have come since then, both in overcoming the stigma associated with a positive diagnosis and also in transforming HIV into a manageable chronic condition for almost all of those living with HIV in Australia today.

Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, Australia’s longest-running HIV charity, will also be at the Parade celebrating 35 years of helping people living with HIV to live longer, healthier lives.

Regional AustraliaLGBTQI+ communities in regional areas across Australia will have their moment in the spotlight with the likes of Newcastle Pride, Central Coast Pride, Shellharbour, Broken Heel Festival and Country Queens all featuring huge and colourful parade entries. For the very first time ever, these regional areas will also become Parade live sites, screening the Parade in full so their communities and supporters back home can cheer them on as they strut their stuff in Sydney.

Mardi Gras Volunteers Farewell
Daniel Lester, a Mardi Gras Parade volunteer who has been involved in the Parade for 20 consecutive years will farewell Mardi Gras with a float featuring other Parade volunteers, friends and family. This important float shines a light on the wonderful people that dedicate their free time to helping spread LGBTQI+ awareness at the annual Parade.

The LGBTQI Homeless
A poignant message requiring urgent attention is LGBTQI+ homelessness. The float Please Don’t Forget Our Homeless aims to highlight the growing number of LGBTQI+ homeless, in particular the elderly who are living in their cars. The float will take to the Parade with a simple message and endeavors to be a voice for those who are the most vulnerable in our society.

Celebrating the colourful collision of creativity and culture across our communities, the world-renowned Mardi Gras Parade unites hundreds of thousands of revellers for the biggest night on the LGBTQI+ calendar.

Crowds line the streets for hours in anticipation of the Parade, which is open for all to enjoy, so make your way to Oxford Street or Flinders St early to get the best viewing place and experience this creative playground under the stars. Find out more about about planning your Parade experience here.

The 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.

Lodges Overlooking Mt Fiji

In June 2013, the symbolic representation of Japan, Mt. Fuji, was registered as a World Heritage Site. 

Each year, over 3 million visitors come to Japan in hopes of taking in the colossal mountain’s spectacular views. 

Stay at these Lodging Accommodations for the Best Views of Mt. Fuji! 

Booking a lodging accommodation around the area is the best way to ensure you get the best views of Mt. Fuji from morning to night. 

Let’s look at the best hotels and inns to stay in, nearby Yamanashi and Shizuoka to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes surrounding Mt. Fuji.

#MtFuji #Yamanashi #Shizuoka #relaxation #tradition #VisitJapanNow #Japan #JapanNationalTouristOffice


Final rehearsals and preparations are underway for today’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.

Spectators will line the streets, balconies and rooftops of Oxford Street to cheer on the 12,600 marchers and 191 floats starring in the colourful celebration of the LGBTQI community.

The 2020 theme WHAT MATTERS highlights the legacy of Mardi Gras as a platform for activism, and a call to action for the public to consider important issues facing the community.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade starts at 7.30pm from the top of Oxford Street (near Hyde Park) and for the first time will be broadcast live on SBS, hosted by comedian Joel Creasey, Studio 10 host Narelda Jacobs, drag icon Courtney Act and comedian Zoe Coombs Marr.

For full details:

Regional live viewing sites will also be hosted across NSW and the country including in Broken Hill, Central Coast, Lismore, Bathurst and Wagga Wagga.

Broken Hill will be represented at the parade through the Broken Heel Festival float – a celebration of the outback centre’s own nod to iconic film Priscilla Queen of the Desert which featured the town. Broken Heel Festival will bring together desert, disco and divas from 10-14 September 2020 and tickets are now available.

Pictured: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras officials, NSW Government representative Shayne Mallard MLC and Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell with Parade participants.


Photo: TTG Asia
Tourism and hospitality leaders have joined forces to launch a campaign to encourage visitors to extend their stay in Cambodia’s Siem Reap, as visitorship weakens for the town that serves as the gateway to Angkor Wat.

A recent report by Angkor Enterprise revealed visitors to the ancient religious site slumped by 15 per cent in 2019 to 2.2 million.

The latest available figures from the Ministry of Tourism show a 13.1 per cent decline in arrivals at Siem Reap International Airport during the first 11 months of 2019. This comes amid a steady decline in long-haul visitors.

The four-week #staylongersiemreap video campaign is currently underway, with two videos scheduled for release every week on social media to showcase the bounty of attractions the province is home to. These cover dining, drinking, Tonle Sap exploration, Bakong Temple cycling, arts, relaxation, nightlife and performance, and shopping.

Adam Rodwell, project manager and owner of The Little Red Fox Espresso, said: “The ultimate goal is to promote Siem Reap as a destination that has much more to offer beyond the majestic Angkor temples. (It) can offer traditional and authentic Cambodian experiences alongside more modern and contemporary choices; essentially something for everyone.”

Other businesses involved are Jaya House Hotels, Treeline Urban Resort, Wild Frontiers Travel, George’s Rhumerie, Phare Cambodian Circus and Mulberry Boutique Hotel.

Christian de Boer, managing director of Jaya House Hotels, said the current average length of stay at the property is three nights.

“Upon departure, almost all guests state they would have loved to stay longer and discover more,” he shared.

It is hoped the short videos, produced by Rafael Winer of FILM+STILLS, will showcase Siem Reap’s diverse offerings and encourage people to explore more of the area’s vast offerings.

Craig Dodge, director of sales and marketing at Phare, the Cambodian Circus, said: “It’s essential to build more awareness of the awesome experiences on offer beyond Angkor Wat.”

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

#Cambodia #campaign #Tourism #hospitality #dining #drinking #TonleSapexploration #BakongTemple #cycling #arts #relaxation #nightlife #performance #shopping #JayaHouseHotels #TreelineUrbanResort #WildFrontiersTravel #GeorgesRhumerie #PhareCambodianCircus #MulberryBoutiqueHotel

Friday, 28 February 2020

Relaxing in Ella

Ella experiences a similar climate almost all year round with a cool and comfortable temperature so that you are not stuck indoors either.

Every evening comes with a curtain call of low hanging mist, helping anyone to wind down and chill.

#EKHOELLA #Ella #SriLanka #DreamCastle

Dream Castle
Mount Lavinia, 10350 Colombo, Sri Lanka
+94 77 786 9577

Celebrate Japan's Spring Season in Style

Flower viewing known as “hanami” is a traditional Japanese affair that welcomes the arrival of Spring by appreciating the view of cherry blossoms in bloom. For centuries, these delicate flowers have been depicted as a symbol of life itself, for spring is often a time for locals to gather and reflect on life's fragility and fleeting beauty.

Hoshino Resorts' onsen ryokan brand KAI will offer “Stylish Hanami Tours” at 14 of their resorts across Japan. If you've ever dreamed of seeing Japan's most iconic flower in person, here are four unique ways that you could enjoy the spring season in style.

Enjoy soba like a feudal lord under a cherry tree
In front of KAI Izumo—an onsen ryokan with open-air baths in every room—is a river lined with over 350 cherry blossom trees. From the 1st – 20th April, guests are invited to participate in a “Cherry Blossom Excursion” which will take them on a traditional rickshaw ride to enjoy a picnic of warigo soba underneath the cherry trees. Warigo soba is said to have originated when a feudal lord enjoyed eating his soba from a multi-level box outside.

Relax and learn how to play the Shamisen
Surround yourself by seven weeping cherry trees in a secluded garden of KAI Tsugaru, an onsen ryokan located in Japan's northern Aomori Prefecture. In the first week of May, guests can relax underneath the cherry blossom trees where they will be treated to apple pie and cider, and taught to play “Sakura Sakura” on a traditional three-stringed traditional Japanese instrument.

Experience hanami like a traveller from the Edo period
Located in a mountain pass, Hakone is a revered onsen town where bloom periods last for a longer time due to the elevation and many varieties of cherry blossoms that grow there. Wearing traditional clothing, guests of KAI Hakone can experience hanami like a traveller from the Edo period. They can visit flower viewing spots such as Gora Park and eat traditional sweets and dishes made in the Hakone yosegi style.

Immortalise the view of blossoms in a landscape drawing
nsen lovers visiting Hakone could have the opportunity to capture 150 Yoshino cherry trees lining the banks of the Haya River in their very own landscape drawing. KAI Sengokuhara—an art-themed ryokan that inspires visitors to explore their creativity—will arrange for staff with art knowledge to accompany and assist guests with their drawing, making sure they get the colour of the cherry blossoms just right!

For more information about Hoshino Resorts KAI and its array of properties and cultural activities on offer, visit:

Free Visa for Entry to Sri Lanka

SRI LANKA a land of forgotten mysteries, a culture so diverse yet compact is sure to entice your thirst for adventure.

From the island’s breathtaking landscapes to its ancient traditions, artistic heritage, culinary delights and local hospitality, which starts with the warmest of smiles - Sri Lanka will ignite your curiosity, entice your thirst for adventure and warm your soul.

We are pleased to inform you that the Department of Immigration and Emigration has granted free visa for a period of 03 months, from 26th February, 2020 to 30th April, 2020 to the visitors from the designated countries as listed below.

The list of countries is as follows.

ItalyLatviaLithuania LuxembourgMalta
SlovakiaSloveniaSpain SwedenJapan
United KingdomAustraliaSouth KoreaCanadaSingapore
New ZealandMalaysiaSwitzerlandCambodiaChina
RussiaIcelandUnited States of America 

Those who hold passports of listed countries and travel to Sri Lanka from 26.02.2020 to 30.04.2020 for tourist purposes are exempted paying ETA fee (applicable for 30 days), in view of enhancing tourist arrivals from designated countries.

However, any foreign national who will be visiting Sri Lanka for a short period is required to apply ETA and ensure pre approval before the journey to avoid unnecessary delays at the port of entry and adhere with enhanced pre clearance.

Please share this information with your colleagues.

Best regards,
Team Authenticities.

Towns set for Unesco’s Creative City Network

A view of Battambang town (above), which consists of more 
than 800 historic Khmer and colonial-era buildings. 
This makes it suitable for Unesco’s Creative City status. 
UNESCO representatives on Friday met with Minister of Tourism Thong Khon, marking the next step in the Kingdom’s efforts to add Battambang, Kampot and Kratie towns to the Creative City Network.

Unesco representative to Cambodia Sardar Umar Alam led the delegation and discussed strengthening collaboration in cultural tourism, ecotourism, urban tourism and food tourism with the ministry.

Ministry spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on Monday that Battambang town consists of more than 800 historic Khmer and colonial-era buildings, which makes it suitable for Unesco’s Creative City status.

Kampot town consists of more than 300 of them, he said, adding that there are fewer in Kratie town. The three towns are also first-rate alternative tourist destinations to the more famous Angkor Archaeological Park.

“The Battambang Provincial Hall is a historic relic left to us from the French era,” he said.

Unesco has expressed its support for Cambodia and will incorporate some of its towns to its Creative City Network, the ministry said on Saturday via Facebook.

“Unesco will take a look at some of Cambodia’s towns, particularly Battambang, Kratie and Kampot, which sufficiently satisfy the criteria necessary for their inclusion to the list,” the post said.

Sopheak said Unesco’s assessment of the towns could be taken in many phases before receiving formal recognition.

“Normally, before recognition, Unesco has to go down to study and assess [the towns] on several occasions. It is we who initially suggested them, and Unesco immediately agreed.

“The towns are currently under study and assessment. We don’t know when Unesco will recognise them,” he said.

Unesco’s Creative City Network was established in 2004 to promote collaborations among various cities, which have defined innovation as strategic factors for the sustainable development of cities.

Sopheak said this was the first time the Kingdom submitted the three towns to Unesco for Creative City status. However, he noted that the qualities required for the status differed from those needed to become a World Heritage City.

“We intend for the towns to be recognised as Creative Cities for the benefit of further promoting the tourism sector. However, the qualities of the World Heritage City carry more weight than this Creative City Network,” he said.

The same Facebook post said Khon and Unesco agreed to jointly identify ecotourism areas across the Kingdom.

Unesco has expressed its support for the rapid introduction of the Four-Strategic Plan for Tourism Development aimed at reviving tourism in the Kingdom’s northern provinces.

The ministry and an inter-ministerial working group will focus on six priority areas – Angkor Archaeological Park, Siem Reap town, the Tonle Sap river, Prek Toal village, Phnom Kulen mountain and Banteay Srei District. 

Unesco’s Creative City Network was established in 2004 to 
promote collaborations among various cities. Hong Menea
Unesco experts will assess and provide feedback on the draft of this masterplan for tourism development in the northern provinces.

#UNESCO #MinisterofTourismThongKhon, #Battambang #Kampot #Kratie #CreativeCityNetwork #WorldHeritageCity #BattambangProvincialHall #AngkorArchaeologicalPark #SiemReap #TonleSaprRiver #PrekToal #PhnomKulenmountain #BanteaySreiDistrict. #Cambodia #TourismOfCambodia 


This 4 - minute video ( DISCOVER BREATHTAKING MALAYSIA) is newly produced in conjunction with VM2020.

It targets the Millennial market segment to throw open the vast holiday options in Malaysia. It highlights great locations around the country besides offering glimpses of Malaysia's attractions including nature, culture, food, shopping and more, to appeal to the young, trendy urbanite and IT-savvy traveller.

Tourism Malaysia

#VM2020 #VisitTrulyAsiaMalaysia #Millennial #ProductionDivision

Nashville supports Queensland

The global home of country music, Nashville, Tennessee, is throwing its support behind Queensland to encourage as many American visitors as possible to experience the state.

Under the innovative deal struck by TEQ and Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (NCVC), Queensland will be promoted to country music fans in the US to inspire Americans to choose Queensland as their international holiday destination in 2020 and beyond. 

The initiative builds on the partnership established in 2018, after TEQ, NCVC and the Country Music Association signed a Memorandum of Understanding to foster collaboration and amplify Queensland as ‘Australia’s Home of Country Music’.

Read more
Tourism and Events Queensland 

Enjoy Nabe in Japan

If you’re in Japan during the winter months, you have to try one of Japan’s most favourite winter hot pot dishes: nabe! 

Nabe brings out the flavour of seasonal seafoods like oyster, crab, shrimp, yellowtail, and blowfish, making for a uniquely delicious wintry dish. 

And you can’t forget about goosefish nabe! Goosefish meat becomes firmer in cooler waters, and Goosefish's liver expands to prepare for laying eggs during spring, which also enhances its flavour. 

Eating goosefish liver dissolved in nabe stock is also quite popular. Spicy nabe, such as kimchi nabe and spicy beef offal nabe, are other ways to warm up during the winter in Japan. 

If you see the kanji character for nabe (鍋) at a restaurant during your travels throughout Japan in the winter, stop by for a bite!

Learn more about Japanese food here
#cuisine #Food #nabe #seafood #Kimchinabi #kanji #tradition #VisitJapanNow #Japan #JapanNationalTouristOffice


After a year-long renewal, Hyde Park Barracks reopens - unveiling a rich, extraordinary new experience like no other in Australia.

Combining tradition with ground breaking audio technology, visitors will not only follow in the footsteps of real people who encountered the Barracks – they will relive it. 

The renewed Hyde Park Barracks tells the stories of all those who were affected by the site; convicts, immigrants, destitute women and the impact on Aboriginal communities. 

The reopening coincides with the launch of Jonathan Jones’ untitled (maraong manaóuwi) art installation. 

It features 2,000 maraong manaóuwi (emu footprint)/broad arrow designs created with red and white gravel sourced from Wiradjuri Country, covering the entire 2,500 square metres of Hyde Park Barracks courtyard. 

The installation is presented by Sydney Living Museums and City of Sydney as part of the Art & About program. 

*Destination NSW

Thursday, 27 February 2020


Sunshine Carnival is one of the entertainment
attractions at Ba Na Hills.
Across the length and breadth of Vietnam, quality real estate investments have turned localities like Da Nang, Sa Pa, Quang Ninh and Phu Quoc into tourism hotspots.

The number of foreign tourists visiting Vietnam reached an all-time high of 18 million in 2019, up 16.2 percent year-on-year.

The tourism industry also reaped an unprecedented harvest of global awards: the world’s leading heritage destination award and Asia’s leading culinary destination award, for instance, at the World Travel Awards (WTA); not to mention the world’s best golf destination at the international World Golf Awards.

The growth and prestige the tourism industry has garnered have been credited to the government’s policies, including visa waivers for nationals of potentially large tourism markets, the launch of new direct flights and the development of world class resorts and entertainment facilities by major Vietnamese investors like the Sun Group.

From transit point to tourism hub
Just over 10 years ago, the central coastal city of Da Nang was a relatively unknown destination. In 2007, the whole city had less than 1,300 hotel rooms that accommodated about one million domestic and international visitors. The local airport served mostly as a place for domestic flights that tourists took to reach other, more famous destinations in central Vietnam.

The turning point came when the city government called on major investors to join hands with the municipality and rejuvenate Da Nang. Responding to that clarion call, in 2007, Sun Group began developing a project in Ba Na – once a mountain retreat for French emigrates in colonial times, but long since forgotten and considered accessible only by some intrepid travelers.

A year later, the Sun World Ba Na Hills tourism and entertainment complex opened to the public, with a cable car route ferrying travelers up from the foot of the mountain. The impact was immediate. In 2009, more than 1.3 million visitors came to Da Nang, setting a new record for arrivals. With world-class services and entertainments, a high-end resort and golf course, Ba Na Hills has continued to be a tourism magnet.

In 10 years, the resort has seen tourist numbers grow 160 times. In particular, when the iconic Golden Bridge opened in Ba Na Hills in 2018, Da Nang experienced a huge spike in arrivals. Everyone wanted to check-in on the Golden Bridge with its two god-like hands cupping the structure.

In 2014, Sun Group unveiled their second game-changing investment in Da Nang – the InterContinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula Resort on the picturesque Son Tra Peninsula. The resort was named the World’s Leading Luxury Resort by the World Travel Awards for four consecutive years, from 2014 to 2017.

In the decade following the opening of Ba Na Hills, Da Nang’s tourism growth has been the envy of many other destinations. Last year, nearly 8.7 million visitors came to Da Nang, nearly five times higher than the number in 2010; and tourism revenue reached VND30.97 trillion ($1.33 billion), 25 times higher.

Sa Pa reclaims yesteryear glory
In early 2016, the Fansipan cable car opened as part of the Sun World Fansipan Legend tourism complex in Sa Pa, drawing the attention of travelers from all over the world. Invested and developed by Sun Group, the cable car set two world records in connecting Sa Pa Town with the rooftop of Indochina, the peak of Fansipan, which soars 3,143 meters into the sky.

A truly remarkable feat of engineering, the cable car boosted Sa Pa tourism numbers immediately, but Sun Group had many more attractions to unveil, including the Muong Hoa funicular as well as a complex of Buddhist monuments that made Fansipan a spiritual destination. At the Sun World Fansipan Legend tourism complex, tourists can now learn more about the unique cultural traditions of numerous hill tribes who have lived on the mountains of the northwest for centuries.

These investments have also given the northern highlands town a huge fillip. In 2013, Sa Pa only welcomed 720,000 visitors and earned revenues of VND576 billion ($24.77 million). In 2019, the number of visitors to Sa Pa had crossed 3.2 million, with revenue rising to VND9.34 trillion ($402 million), 16.2 times higher than 2013.

In 2019, when the Sun World Fansipan Legend was named Vietnam’s Leading Tourist Attraction and The World’s Leading Cultural Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards, Sa Pa had arrived as a globally-recognized destination.

Read the full article at VN Express:

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

#Investment #Tourism #Vietnam #DaNang #SaPa #QuangNinh #PhuQuoc #tourismhotspot #SunWorldBaNaHills #GoldenBridge #SunWorldFansipanLegend

New CSR Boutique and Trendy Bespoke Bensley Bejewelled Upcycled Jackets at Shinta Mani Wild

Following the recent launch of the Shinta Mani Shop With A ♥ boutique in Siem Reap which raises money for the Shinta Mani Foundation's CSR projects, Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild has launched its sister boutique at the luxury tented camp in the Cambodian wilderness, with all profits going to Wildlife Alliance, an NGO at the forefront of direct wildlife conservation in Cambodia. Guests at the property can join the armed Wildlife Alliance rangers on their daily anti-logging and poaching patrols and see the important work they carry out first-hand.

In addition to the popular soft furnishings and décor items visionary designer and architect Bill Bensley has created and curated from his global travels which are flying off the walls and floors, Bill's range of trendy one-off bejewelled upcycled denim jackets are selling like hotcakes at USD500 each. These good quality clothes that would have otherwise be discarded are bought to life with embroidered badges and sequined patches all themed around nature, wildlife and Cambodia, are bought back to life by Bensley's team of talented artists and designers. These pair nicely with the 'trashion' bracelets refashioned out of confiscated snares.

As an eco-conscious luxury camp, Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild is dedicated to finding ways to preserve natural resources. By choosing second hand clothing over a new cotton t-shirt, 2700 litres of water are saved and there is a reduction of carbon emissions and waste production.

The jackets have proved extremely popular with 40 already sold before the official launch with people literally buying them of Bill Bensley's back when he wore them at events, or used them as display props, when he was a keynote speaker such as ILTM and the Global Wellness Summit in Singapore last year.

For those wanting to order a bespoke jacket, or to send their own jacket, safari shirt or jeans to BENSLEY in Bangkok to have them embellished into a piece of wearable art, please contact Nikita Harrison at

For further information and reservations at Bensley Collection-Shinta Mani Wild visit, tel: +855 63 969 123 or email:

Bay of Plenty to become New Zealand's first National Park City

The Bay of Plenty
The Bay of Plenty has taken another step towards becoming a greener, more sustainable region by signing the National Park Cities charter in London.

The movement aims to apply national park principles and values to urban environments, promoting nature and re-wilding towns and cities as vital to health and wellbeing.

“Urban green spaces and strong environmental commitments attract visitors,” said Kristin Dunne, Tourism Bay of Plenty Chief Executive Officer.

“Travellers are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and looking for experiences that allow them to connect deeply to a place. We are seeking the types of visitors that will take part in local environmental initiatives, adding to our region's regeneration and leaving our home a better place for future generations.”

The project, championed by Envirohub Bay of Plenty, aims to give residents and visitors the opportunity to become more connected to nature, said Envirohub representative Laura Wragg.

“It's about creating more green spaces so we can all access nature closer to where we live and work.”

“People living across the whole region have told us they support the concept – they want greater biodiversity, more areas of green space and to see more native birds and plants in our cities.”

By signing the charter, the Bay of Plenty has shown its commitment to the principles of National Park Cities, though Laura says the programme will develop in the way that is best suited to the region.

“We will work with our communities and with Iwi to come up with the right name. This is about creating interest, educating and inspiring and allowing everyone to take part.“

The benefits of healthier, greener towns and cities go beyond social and environmental. The biophilic benefits (human affinity to interact or be closely associated with nature) – wellbeing, reduced stress and improved cognitive function are becoming more evident, said Laura.

“The more connected we are to nature and to each other, the healthier we'll be as a region.”

The National Park Cities Charter includes committing to:
  • a city which is greener in the long-term than it is today and where people and nature are better connected
  • a city which protects its core network of parks and green spaces and where buildings and public spaces aren't defined only by stone, brick, concrete, glass and steel
  • a city that is rich with wildlife
  • a city where every child benefits from exploring, playing and learning outdoors
  • a city where all can enjoy high-quality green spaces, clean air, clean waterways and where more people choose to walk and cycle.


Play a Round of Golf at the Victoria Golf and Country Resort in Sri Lanka

Victoria Golf and Country Resort
Hidden away from the whirlwind of city life, Victoria Golf and Country Resort is the perfect destination to unwind, kick back and enjoy a game of is truly one of the most beautiful courses in South Asia.

Ranked among the 100 most beautiful Golf courses in the world. designed by the award winning Donald Steele & Co in 1997.

Victoria Golf & Country Resort is a 500-acre estate Sprawled amongst the hills and bordering the Victoria Reservoir and overlooked by the Knuckles Mountain Range.Truly it is offers the most picturesque scenery and breath taking views of nature.
#VICTORIAGOLF #SriLanka #DreamCastle
Dream Castle
Mount Lavinia, 10350 Colombo, Sri Lanka
+94 77 786 9577

OMO5 Tokyo Kawasaki Opening and Taketomi Island Date Night

Hoshino Resorts OMO3 Tokyo Kawasaki Opening
In June 2020, Hoshino Resorts will open its third property under the OMO brand in Kawasaki, Tokyo. Close to central Tokyo, Yokohama and Haneda Airport, the new urban style hotel has a lot to offer guests.

With three room types to suit different styles and budgets, guests can enjoy the comfort of sleeping in NEDOCO Pod, COBACO Cabin or the SUMICA Room which features a sofa and private shower.

Through its unique accommodation and OMO Ranger services, the philosophy behind the OMO brand is to allow guests to easily explore and experience the authentic local culture of the surrounding neighbourhood.

For more information about Hoshino Resorts OMO3 Tokyo Kawasaki, visit:

HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island's Iribana Date Night
From March to May 2020, guests of HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island can watch the sunset while enjoying a cocktail on a traditional wooden boat from the Ryuku Islands called a “Sabani”

During the day, many people come to visit the island in Okinawa prefecture. When sunset comes, those that are left can indulge in a quiet, relaxed atmosphere. The sabani is operated by a guide so that guests can relax and take in the sounds of Taketomi's nature.

For more information about HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island, visit:

For all media enquiries and for more information about Hoshino Resorts media updates, please contact Ellie Caswell at or call 0422 198 385.

Pop the Question on One of the World's Most Famous Stages for a 'Next Level' Proposal

Opera Australia today launched an exciting new Proposal Package that could make all the difference between a resounding YES and a dismissive NO, with a unique opportunity to pop the question on the Sydney Opera House stage.

Taking the daunting task of proposing marriage to an entirely new level, this package puts the couple literally on centre stage and firmly in the spotlight in front of an audience of 1,500 during a performance of Great Opera Hits in the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

The setting couldn't be any more romantic. Dressed-up to the nines, in the world's most famous opera house, sipping a sparkling overlooking Sydney's beautiful harbour, and swept up by the stunning music. A 'yes' is almost guaranteed.

At an agreed moment during the concert, the MC will invite the couple to the stage, much to the surprise of one of the pair, for the not-so-private but ever-so-special moment they will never forget!

Part of the Cultural Attractions of Australia collection that offers a range of premium cultural experiences, the Proposal Package includes two premium tickets, complimentary drink on arrival, and a bouquet of flowers presented on stage.

Cost: $2499 per couple

Includes two premium tickets for Great Opera Hits, complimentary drink on arrival and flowers

Australia's First Cross Laminated Timber Hotel to Open in 2020

TFE Hotels and Hume Partners Property will launch Australia's very first cross-laminated timber (CLT) hotel and the tallest timber adaptive-reuse project in the country - the ultra-modern Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne Southbank – later this year.

Just six months out from opening, the striking 220-room Bates Smart-designed apartment hotel, at the intersection of Southbank Boulevard and City Road in Melbourne's bustling cultural precinct, is turning heads as much for its edgy architectural design as its pioneering use of sustainable construction technology.

When it comes to the hotel's five-star green credentials, cross-laminated timber shines as a viable building material. It is a non-toxic, renewable resource that has a long-life cycle, is fire resistant, highly sustainable (since wood is renewable) and offers superior strength and stability when compared to common structural materials.

According to Bates Smart Director Julian Anderson, around 5,300 tonnes of CLT was used in the construction of the hotel, in turn offsetting around 4,200 tonnes of C02 from the atmosphere.

“In addition to reduced carbon emissions, cross-laminated timber incorporates several sustainability benefits, including lower transport costs and time saving advantages from off-site manufacturing,” he said. “It also presents a more sustainable approach to increasing density within our cities.”

Timber for the hotel was sourced from suppliers with Forest Stewardship Council certification* - one of only two internationally recognised forest certification networks - and an electric crane was used to limit noise impact during construction. Modular bathrooms were also manufactured off-site to reduce build waste.

“To create the 220-room accommodation tower, an additional ten levels* were able to be built on the existing concrete building, providing 13,000 square metres of new floor space,” says Anderson. “This combines to make Adina Melbourne Southbank the world's tallest mass timber vertical extension.”

TFE Hotels' Chief Operating Office, Chris Sedgwick, said Adina Apartment Hotels as a brand had wholeheartedly embraced the concept of design-driven hotels, and had a swag of contemporary new-build hotels in the pipeline

“As the Adina brand continues to evolve, expect to see a certain WOW factor in design that will be offset by the Australian hospitality that our hotel teams will deliver,” he said. “At Adina Melbourne Southbank, the WOW will come from the innovative use of such sustainable building product, as well as the contemporary look and feel.”

Sedgwick says the architects had paid careful attention to the way the existing building “turned the corner” and, by incorporating a glass curtain facade and vast curved balcony, they've reshaped Melbourne's skyline south of the Yarra. The same care and attention were given to the interior design.

“Internally, the hotel's design has taken inspiration from the architecture,” Sedgwick said. “The ground floor lobby is lined with timber, aligning with the new method of construction, which exudes a warm and welcoming ambience in shared public spaces.”

Curved walls also distinguish the space and complement the curved façade and graceful lines of the new 10-level timber extension. In keeping with its green roots, the hotel also has an energy management system integrated into each room, to automatically control the HVAC system.

In addition to the Adina's 70 Studio apartment-style hotel rooms, 140 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom apartments, the hotel will also feature a gym, 20 metre indoor lap pool, two light-filled meeting spaces and a boardroom. Spacious, fully equipped kitchens and laundries and lounge/dining areas provide the comforts of home.

“Adina Melbourne Southbank epitomises casual living in the heart of Melbourne - which is in keeping with our brand promise to deliver ample living space and apartment-style hotel rooms that feel like home for long-stays or shorter staycations,” says Sedgwick.

According to TFE Hotels, the hotel's prime location is a defining new gateway to Melbourne, sitting between the CBD, vibrant St Kilda Road, and the parklands surrounding the Royal Botanic Gardens. The area is also popular with the sophisticated set who flock to the designer shops, cultural experiences and the lively riverside promenade.

The hotel is located less than 500 metres from the city centre, with the Yarra River separating the CBD from Southbank, 300 metres from the Crown Casino Complex and 700 metres from the Melbourne Convention Centre.


Whale Sharks Arrive to Western Australia's Ningaloo Reef

Whale sharks have arrived early to Ningaloo Reef this year, with Coral Bay operator Coral Bay Eco Tours sighting two of our spotty friends last week.

The Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area is one of the only places in the world where whale sharks reliably congregate in large numbers annually, drawn to the reef by coral spawning during the full moon.

When experiencing a whale shark tour on the Ningaloo Reef, the day starts with a snorkel on the inner reef, where guests can sight colourful coral reef and fish, before continuing to find the whale sharks. Operators use spotter planes to locate them, communicating with the tour boat's skipper to guide them to the fish's location where small groups then enter the water to swim with these gentle giants. Groups consist of up to 10 people at a time, ensuring a relaxed and sustainable experience for both swimmers and the whale sharks.

In 2019, over 30,000 people travelled from around the world to Ningaloo to swim with the largest fish in the ocean in either Exmouth or Coral Bay. Whale shark tour operators saw a 96% success rate, and the average in-water interaction time with the whale sharks was just over 13 minutes.

Ningaloo's whale shark season traditionally runs from the middle of March to the end of June in Coral Bay and July in Exmouth. This year, Coral Bay Eco Tours and Exmouth-based Ningaloo Discovery Whale Shark Tours will commence their whale shark tours on Sunday, 1 March 2020, and Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo will commence tours on Wednesday, 4 March 2020. Other Exmouth whale shark tour operators will commence their tours shortly after, from the middle of March onwards.

According to Australia's Coral Coast Chief Executive Officer, David O'Malley, this life-changing experience is highly popular, so visitors are recommended to book their experience early to avoid disappointment. "Both Coral Bay and Exmouth based whale shark tours operators are highly experienced at delivering a well-managed, sustainable and enjoyable activity".

Tours are available to anyone over 5 years of age who can swim, although children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more information or travel itineraries, visit Australia's Coral Coast -

Learn More About the Whale Shark Experience