Wednesday, 30 September 2020


Photo: CNN
With the end of the year approaching, travelers holding onto hope they may still get to enjoy a quick winter escape in Asia are facing some hard truths right now.

Christmas on the beach in Phuket? Highly unlikely — unless you’re willing to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks first.

Lunar New Year in Bali next February? Don’t book those flights just yet.

The list of countries in the region that are off limits to most leisure travel remains long and, according to the experts, is likely to remain that way for some time yet.
In early May, optimism was high that once governments were able to contain their Covid-19 outbreaks they would begin opening up to other nations that too had a handle on their case numbers.

Dubbed “travel bubbles,” the concept was first raised by Australia and New Zealand, then quickly picked up by other nations as a possible way to get international travelers flying again. This would give tourism-dependent economies a chance to recoup the millions of dollars in losses racked up this year.
For a number of reasons, those bubbles — also called air corridors — have yet to materialize in Asia.
In what’s been referred to as a twisted game of “Whack-a-Mole,” the virus continues to rear its invisible head in fresh waves, leading most governments to shy away from actually moving beyond the discussion phase.

“Travel bubbles are extremely complex to implement, much greater than what people may have thought originally,” says Mario Hardy, CEO of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

“Each respective destination needs to have well tested and tried protocols and the understanding that visitors from each country will respect them. They also need to ensure that they have a robust health care system to handle any potential resurgences of cases as well as good contact tracing capabilities.”

Read the full article at CNN: 
Tags: #Thailand, #tourismsituation, #travel

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 Northern Territory Government has today announced its biggest incentivised summer tourism campaign to date; the Never Before NT Summer Sale.

As the Northern Territory enters the summer travel season, the $5 million campaign will further entice Australian holiday makers to explore their own backyard and embark on a summer holiday in the Northern Territory, with deals and savings never before seen.

Partnering with the majority of Australian travel retailers, including Helloworld, Flight Centre and Holidays of Australia, the campaign offers an additional discount of up to $1000 on a Northern Territory holiday, allowing travellers to save on flights, accommodation, tours, attractions and hire vehicles. The savings are based on a set discount of $200 for every $1000 spent on a Northern Territory booking.

The campaign to welcome visitors back to experience the Northern Territory’s rich cultural history, abundance of wildlife, iconic landmarks, and breathtaking scenery will run from 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021. (All offers are valid for bookings and travel during those dates.)

With the tourism industry heavily impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic and border restrictions, the Never Before NT Summer Sale aims to drive visitation and capitalise on the NT’s wide-open spaces, nature, wildlife, iconic locations and its status as a COVID-free destination.

Tourism NT Executive General Manager of Marketing Tony Quarmby said that it was an exciting time to experience the NT.

“Summer in the Northern Territory is the opportunity all Australians have been waiting for - spectacular attractions, wide open spaces and an opportunity to explore the region at a once-in-a-lifetime low price.

“Last year Aussies spent more than $64 billion on overseas holidays. With international travel off the cards until at least next year, we’re encouraging our friends to the east, west and down south to come and have the adventure of a lifetime here. Visitors often tell us that they feel ‘more Australian’ when in the Territory and there’s no better time to support Australia and Australian businesses.

“We have never delivered an incentivised national summer campaign of this size before, and it’s great to have the backing of Government, Australian travel trade and local industry to deliver this program to drive demand,” he said.

Check out the Never Before NT Summer Sale here

Women in Tourism co-founder recognised by The International Alliance for Women

Holly Galbraith
Tourism professional and business owner Holly Galbraith has been recognised by The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) with a 2020 World of Difference Award.

The Awards acknowledge extraordinary women and men from around the world who have contributed to the economic empowerment of women. Ms Galbraith was selected for her ongoing work with Women in Tourism (Australia), an organisation that she started in 2015 with co-founder Emma Castle, former Editor of Spice Magazine, that advocates for gender balance and diversity at all levels of the tourism industry.

“Women in Tourism has been a passion project and came together after sitting in too many tourism meetings where the audience was full of women and the stage was full of men.”

“The perception is that because so many women work in tourism we don't have a gender issue but when you start looking at who is on the tourism boards and in the leadership positions, it is far from gender equal or diverse. Women in Tourism (Australia) aims to change this.”

“We have run more than twenty events over the past five years, covering topics such as mentorship, gender diversity in the workplace, career pathways, the role men play in women's careers, pivotal leadership moments and more. Our robust Facebook Group keeps the group of more than 2,400 tourism industry professionals connected in between events.”

The World of Difference Awards recognise up to 100 people from around the world each year across a range of categories including education, community, entrepreneurship, government, NGOs and more.

Two other Australians make up the impressive 2020 list of winners; Susan Coles, Australia's Former Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar and Melanie Gleeson, Founder and CEO of the endota Group.

A virtual awards ceremony will be held on 2 October 2020 including a series of inspiring speakers from around the world.


Are you a fan of sweltering summers?

Nagasakibana ~Cape of flower and art~
While we don’t want to bring up the issue of climate change, we do want to discuss how to enjoy summers in Oita. Located in the southern portions of Japan, things get REALLY hot in summer. Oftentimes, the
temperature can exceed 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit)

While the heat can be oppressive, it does come with a silver lining. For example, beer tastes especially delicious on a hot day. Alternatively, Japanese sake, wagyu and sashimi are all great after being out in the sun all day. Of course, you also need to be sure to properly hydrate and take enough sodium to avoid heatstroke too.

Summer is also a time for festivals. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic this year, many of the
happenings have been canceled. At the very least though, we can still enjoy the changing of the seasons.
For example, right now, sunflowers are starting to bloom northern parts of Oita at the Nagasakibana coast.

Anyway, hopefully you’re safe and well. While now is a bad time for the travel industry, we hope to be able welcome visitors from overseas again as soon as possible.

Oita Prefectural Tourism Association "Tourism Oita"

Reflections Holiday Parks calling an end to ‘pampered poochie’ holidays

With pet ownership soaring through the pandemic, one holiday park provider is pushing back on the recent spike of luxury dog holidays by urging pet owners to let ‘dogs be dogs’. They’re challenging owners to swap dog degustation menus and spa treatments for time outdoors getting mucky, chasing balls and digging holes in the sand.


“We have seen a recent increase in city based hotels promoting themselves as dog friendly and in doing so, offering everything from pet acupuncture to speciality non-alcoholic wine. With almost all of our parks dog friendly, we know what four legged companions really want from a holiday. There is nothing better than seeing dogs smile as they bound along the beach chasing the waves. You can’t get that same feel good moment from a hotel room - even if it has a dog minibar and in-room dining menu!” says Jo Thomas, spokesperson at Reflections Holiday Parks.


To encourage pet owners to holiday with their poochies outdoors, Reflections are encouraging nature based activities for dogs including running through muddy puddles, playing ‘fetch’ on the beach, games like ‘tug of war’ ropes, beach frisbees and walking trails. In addition to staying for free, dogs will receive a free pig’s ear or bone on arrival during October - a step change from fillet of grilled sea trout with broccolini, that you will see on the dog menu at one Sydney hotel.


The initiatives coincide with a Spring long crusade by Reflections to get people sharing photos of their feel good moments on social media to help raise each other’s spirits. Each week, one lucky winner who's shared their feel-good moment on Facebook and Instagram with #findthefeels #reflectionsholidayparks will win a holiday, plus the company will pay one forward to a healthcare worker in Victoria. This month, they’re urging pet owners to share photos of their dog’s feel good moments to win.


For those new to camping, Reflections have also gathered their top five tips for camping with dogs. “These tips are based on years of experience welcoming dogs to 29 of our 37 parks. We’ve seen every breed of dog enjoy caravan and camping - and we’ve also seen owners teach us a trick or two about hitting the road with a four legged traveller,” said Thomas.


Five tips for camping with dogs

  1. Buy a dog exercise cable and stake from a pet store before you leave home. This will stop your poochie wandering off in the night or chasing wildlife whilst you sleep. It’s also handy to keep them out of harm’s way whilst you cook and gather around the campfire
  2. If your dog is used to sleeping in its own enclosed space, you might want to bring a portable dog crate or invest in a dog tent. This will make him feel safe and secure overnight after a hard day playing at the beach.
  3. Do you research before you leave on dog friendly hikes, trails and beaches. Whilst you’ll need to avoid National Parks, there is a plethora of scenic gems that are pet friendly such as Jimmys Beach just north of Newcastle and Red Rock north of Coffs Harbour.
  4. Pack some dog shampoo or dog wipes so you’re not stressing about sand, mud and mucky paws inside your tent, caravan or cabin. If you’re letting your dog have the time of its life, you’ll want to wash it down at the end of the day - just like us humans!
  5. Write your campsite number on a dog tag with a Sharpie and attach it to Fido’s collar. This simple hack will stop your fur baby getting lost should he get off the lead.


To win a holiday worth $750 upload photos of your feel good moments and tag #findthefeels #reflectionsholidayparks.

An Giang launches tourism stimulus programmes

(Photo: VNA)
The southern province of An Giang will coordinate with Ho Chi Minh City and other localities in the south to launch tourism stimulus programmes with the aim of restoring the tourism sector as the COVID-19 outbreak has now been brought under control, according to Director of the An Giang provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Khanh Hiep.

New tourism products will be launched with the aim of promoting the quality, service and image of An Giang tourism to domestic and foreign tourists.

Tourism and service businesses in the province are also committed to implementing stimulus packages such as price reductions on sightseeing tickets, services and accommodation.

The Provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism is focusing on ensuring safe tourism destinations, building preferential new packages for tourists during the final months of the year.

The province currently has 97 standard tourist accommodations; 13 domestic and international tour operators; and 15 tourism attractions.

In the first eight months of 2020, revenue from tourism activities of An Giang was estimated at over VND3 trillion VND, down 34% over the same period last year, reaching 77% of the set plan for 2020.
Source: Nhan dan online
Tags: #AnGiang, #tourismstimulusprogrammes,

Spring Issue of Holidays With Kids Is Out Now!

The Spring edition of Holidays with Kids magazine, a part of Australia's #1 multi-platform family travel network, is out now and bigger and better than ever.

Amid social distancing and ever-evolving restrictions, the team at Holidays with Kids knows that Australians remain – at heart – a nation of travellers and adventurers. While the way we travel is changing, nothing can take away from the love we have for exploring our homeland and beyond.

To ensure our readers are ready to hit the road once borders reopen, we've packed our Spring issue full of holiday ideas focused on one of the world's most coveted travel destinations: Australia – including a huge 42-page feature on 52 great Aussie family escapes, covering everything from searching for quokkas on Rottnest Island and spotting crocs in Kakadu to tasting treats along Australia's Fruit Bowl (aka NSW's Riverina) and coming face to face with a Tassie devil at Cradle Mountain.

While journeys overseas may be temporarily on hold, COVID-19 won't stop people from dreaming and planning. So, with predicted safe travel corridors between Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and parts of Asia on the cards for 2021, we also share some international jetsetting inspiration for future adventures.

The Spring edition has been published as a special flip issue with the 2020 edition of Ski & Snowboard with Kids, featuring 65 pages of ski stories, advice and interviews with up and coming stars. It also includes the results of the highly anticipated 2020 Ski & Snowboard with Kids Best Family Ski Resorts Awards, as voted by our expert panel of judges and our readers.

In order to deliver a full range of holiday options to our readers, this issue sees the launch of The LUXE Edit (previously Five Star Kids), a dedicated section for luxury and high-end family travel. We've also introduced Family Matters by HWK, a tie-in with our bi-monthly ebook brimming with tips and ideas to help families stay happy, healthy and inspired at home.

The complimentary digital version will be distributed to readers on and ISSUU, and will be promoted with solus EDMs, boosted Facebook posts, Google ads and across our network of titles, including the newly acquired Vacations & Travel.

The print edition has been distributed to open and operating domestic Qantas lounges, family-friendly hotels and resorts, holiday parks, lodges and chalets in Jindabyne and Falls Creek, Visitor Information Centres, select travel agents, in newsagents Australia-wide and, of course, delivered to our loyal subscribers.

Read Holidays with Kids here:, and Ski and Snowboard with Kids here:, or subscribe to the print edition here:

About Holidays with Kids
Holidays with Kids is Australia's #1 multi-platform family travel network, reaching more than 900,000 Australian families each quarter. Our portfolio includes Caravan & Camping with Kids, Ski & Snowboard with Kids and The LUXE Edit, Family Matters by HWK and

Our social media channels have a combined audience of over 201,200 people, while our online database of 68,000+ are engaged with offers, content and travel news.

No matter what your destination or budget, Holidays with Kids makes our reader's wildest holiday dreams possible through practical information and helpful advice, without losing sight of those special factors families must consider when planning a holiday, such as childcare, safety and entertainment.


Queenstown golf courses launch Super Pass

Golf at Millbrook
Golfers heading to Queenstown this spring and summer can now play four of Queenstown’s world-class courses on a single pass.

Already renowned as a leading golf destination, the Queenstown Golf Collective’s Super Pass costs just $399 and allows players a round at Arrowtown, Jack’s Point, Millbrook and Queenstown courses.

John Griffin, General Manager of Golf at Jack’s Point says this is a first for New Zealand golf.

“Queenstown has a number of incredible courses, and by bringing them together on a single ticket, we want to make it easy for golfers to play multiple courses during their trip. Working with the other courses in the Queenstown region like this makes for a really attractive offer and cements Queenstown’s reputation as New Zealand’s best golf destination.”

Alongside the stunning golf courses, Queenstown offers golfers a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and unparalleled off-course or après golf activities including fine-dining, wineries and vineyards, health and wellness, sight-seeing and of course all the thrills and action that have made the destination the home of adventure.

Brian Howie, Director of Operations at Millbrook says each course on the Super Pass has its own character and personality.

“The Super Pass allows players a series of contrasting golf experiences all within a 20 minute drive from central Queenstown. When you add in all the associated experiences that you can have in Queenstown, on or off the fairway, this is a really compelling offer and we’re hoping to see New Zealand golfers enjoy some time down here during spring and summer.”

The Super Pass is available from two of the region’s leading golf tour specialists, Peak Golf Queenstown and Remarkable Golf Tours, both of whom are able to help visitors build an itinerary including accommodation, transport and other activities.

Passes are available from Wednesday, 30 September 2020.

For more information please contact:
Richard Birkby, Queenstown Golf Collective Super Pass
Tel: 021 350 760

Or visit:
Destination Queenstown:
Peak Golf Queenstown:
Remarkable Golf Tours:


Cambodia Angkor Air says its business operations are optimistic
and well prepared in terms of strengthening domestic
 flights and expanding international flights. KT/Sok Chan
The national flag carrier, Cambodia Angkor Air says it will launch a new route from Phnom Penh capital to Zhengzhou today, the southern bank of the yellow river and the birthplace of the Yellow emperor of the China People’s Republic (CPR).

Cambodia Angkor Air’s public relations and branding division Deputy General Manager Sowath Panharidh said the flight number is K6 894 and will depart from Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH) at an estimated time of 13.35 with arrival at Zhengzhou at an estimated local time of 18.30. China is one hour ahead of Cambodia.

Panharidh added that the return flight number is K6 895 and will depart from Zhengzhou at an estimated time of 19:30 and arrive at Phnom Penh International Airport at 22:55 on the same day.

“The flight from Phnom Penh capital to Zhengzhou is once per week. This flight will be operated until Oct 24 and will be updated with more schedules,” Panharidh added.

He said soon the national flag carrier will operate flights from Phnom Penh to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh or Can Tho, a city in southern Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region. He said the company is now seeking approval from the Vietnamese aviation authority. “We are not sure which city we will be allowed to fly to: Saigon or Can Tho,” he added.

“For domestic flights, the company is operating flights from Phnom Penh-Siem Reap (REP)-Sihnaoukville, but it is not every day.”

There has been a drop in traffic of people travelling to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville airports of up to 75 percent in the last eight months, said Cambodia Airports.

Read the full article at Khmer Times:
Tags: #Cambodia, #CambodiaAngkorAir, #newflight

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

Dream big: Canada’s wilderness backyard awaits

Bay of Fundy
While health and safety continue to be a top priority, Canada’s vast national parks, epic mountain ranges and immense waterways are exploding in an autumn frenzy of colour and wildlife, reminding Aussie travel-lovers that big, beautiful Canada is looking forward to welcoming visitors when the time is right – guided by research, health regulations and clear border guidelines.

The 48 national parks spread across the country offer outdoor adventures of all kinds and a chance to lose yourself in the simple majesty of nature. Read on for four of Canada’s most magnificent natural phenomena.

Fundy National Park, New Brunswick
Highest tides in the world? Tick!
Sea creatures galore? Tick!

The Bay of Fundy has a lot to be proud of. Not only does it boast the highest tides in the world and is the summer feeding area for half the population of the North Atlantic Right whales, it is also the site of one of the greatest extinction events the world has ever known – the Triassic / Jurassic extinction.

Up there in biodiversity with the Amazon Rainforest, the Bay of Fundy is recognised with two designations by UNESCO: A Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site (Joggins Fossil Cliffs).

When the Bay of Fundy’s massive tides recede at the Hopewell Rocks, they leave behind a field of mud, sand and seaweed teeming with fascinating sea creatures. Visitors can pull on gum boots and pick their way through rock crabs, sea snails, periwinkles and limpets.

The Hopewell Rocks is a place to pause and appreciate a remarkable story interwoven through time, tide, and the intricacies of nature. A place where you can actually walk on the ocean floor, and then kayak six hours later at high tide, 12 metres above sea level at the very same spot!

Lake Superior, Ontario
There’s a reason Lake Superior is referred to as an inland ocean. It is as vast as it is gorgeous. Called Gitchi Gummi, or ‘The Big Lake’, by the Anishinaabe people of the region, the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area will soon be recognized as one of the largest protected areas of freshwater in the world.

Guided tours are recommended as Lake Superior has erratic weather patterns, similar to the ocean, and is large enough to create its own weather. But the views and geology are worth a potentially tempestuous experience and storm chasers won’t be disappointed.

The region features unique geological formations such as columnar basalt outcroppings, geodes and stromatolites (fossilized blue-green algae from the earliest periods of life on Earth). At 2.7 billion years old, some of the world’s oldest-known rocks can be found on the Ontario shore, wearing the scars of many winter storms.

Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory
Kluane National Park, in Canada’s north-west Yukon Territory, is a land of extremes. The park is home to Canada’s highest peak, the 5959-metre-high Mount Logan, along with 17 out of Canada’s 20 tallest mountains.

The largest internationally protected area on the planet, the 21,980 square-kilometre Kluane is nearly four times larger than Banff National Park in Alberta. Between the massive mountains lie the largest non-polar glacial icefields in the world, while the valleys below provide an abundant home for thriving wildlife, including grizzly bears, Dall sheep, mountain goats, caribou, black bears and wolves.

Travellers from around the world flock to Kluane National Park to hike its alpine passes, raft alongside glittering glaciers and mountain bike along old mining roads and trails.

Wood Buffalo National Park, Northwest Territories and Alberta
Canada’s largest park and the world’s second largest protected area, the stars shine brightest at Wood Buffalo National Park. In 2013, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada designated Wood Buffalo National Park the world’s largest Dark-Sky Preserve, safeguarding this habitat for many owl species, bats and other nocturnal animals.

Wood Buffalo National Park
Restricted artificial light means visitors to the park see the constellations come to life and the dancing green and reds of the northern lights ripple across the night sky from late August to February. Gazing upon this astronomical masterpiece while owls and loons serenade you in the distance is nothing short of life changing.


Bangkok :The Ultimate Convenient Way to Travel for You and Your Loved Ones

Once we emerge from travel restrictions and celebrate skies and borders re-opening, with all that entails, the private jet option becomes even more attractive for the luxury traveller.

The award-winning 137 Pillars House is a stunning 30 suite boutique Hotel with a rich colonial past; built around the original colonial teak homestead which dates back to the late 1800's. It is located in a leafy residential enclave a few minutes' walk from the historical Watt Gate Temple, Ping River and boutique shopping area.

Set on 5 rai of land with a lush tropical landscape, (8,000 sqm, 86,111 sq ft or 2 acres) the layout of the property naturally lends itself to abundant personal space and privacy.

What could be more luxurious and supremely convenient than arriving in your own private jet? 137 Pillars House has partnered with VIP Jets based in Bangkok who operate with a highly trained team of International professionals flying Gulfstream G200 Private Jets which accommodate up to 4 passengers and 2 pilots. With VIP Jets there are no queues or crowds, no excess baggage charges, no waiting for security checks. You set the schedule – it's all about you! Perfect for a family of 4 or 2 couples travelling together for the ultimate escape with luxury all the way.

The Luxury Private Jet Package for two includes:
  • Round trip flights from Bangkok – Chiang Mai in a private Gulfstream G200 Private Jet
  • Round trip limousine transfers from Chiang Mai International Airport
  • Two nights' accommodation in a luxurious top category Louis Leonowens Pool Suite with private plunge pool
  • A complimentary bottle of Champagne or fresh juices and carved fruits on arrival
  • A 15 minute welcome massage at Nitra Spa & Wellness
  • Sumptuous daily breakfast for two at The Dining Room or a la carte breakfast in your suite
  • Our signature classic afternoon tea experience on The Lawn
  • Complimentary late check-out until 6pm (subject to availability)
  • Priority bookings at Nitra Spa & Wellness
  • Complimentary wi-fi Internet access in your suite

The package is priced at THB 967,918 (USD 31,223) and is valid until 20 December 2020. Additional nights are available at best available rate for applicable dates, and are inclusive of accommodation and breakfast. All rates are net, inclusive of applicable service charge and government taxes.

For more information and reservations, please contact 137 Pillars House on:
Tel: +66 53 247 788,  Fax: +66 53 247 780

Loo Roll Filled Vault Opens in Circular Quay with Clear Message: Why Save Toilet Paper When You Can Save $$$

TransferWise, the global technology company making it easy for Aussies to spend in multiple currencies at the real exchange rate, has installed a see-through vault filled with 2,500 toilet rolls in Sydney's Circular Quay.

The vault has been created to represent Australia's loo paper stockpiling movement. But the vault also comes with a more serious message: Australia; there are more valuable items you could be saving than paper for your derriere.

In just one year after launch, Australian customers using the TransferWise Platinum Debit Mastercard, have saved themselves $2.6million (over $7000 a day) in fees while shopping online with overseas retailers and on international travel (pre-pandemic). The saving is in comparison to the same purchases using their bank-issued debit or credit card.

With both the ACCC and MP Andrew Leigh recently sounding the alarm on exorbitant fees and hidden exchange rate mark-ups charged by banks when Aussies spend in foreign currency, the cheekily titled, "$*it and Think About It" campaign, forces Aussies to take a look at how they could be flushing money down the loo.

The campaign is supported by new research of over one thousand Australians, which revealed:
  • Over half (57.7 per cent) of Australian shoppers claim to know which fees their bank is charging them, however, when pressed further to describe what these fees were, 59.6 per cent answered incorrectly. 61.2 per cent are not even fully aware of their financial circumstances when it comes to spending overseas. A concerning statistic, given one-fifth of Aussies (20.1 per cent) plan on travelling as soon as international travel restrictions ease up
  • Despite hidden transaction fees affecting so many Australians, 17.4 per cent admitted they don't bother to investigate unexplained fees being deducted from their account after shopping online; and only 27.6 per cent correctly identified the average percentage mark-up banks charge on international purchases
  • Furthermore, one in four (24.1 per cent) of Aussies are of the belief there are no fees associated with using their bank card for shopping overseas, while one third (35 per cent) are aware they could be charged lower fees with a different card provider but will not change their spending habits accordingly

The reality is, Aussies could be saving much more than loo roll. Twenty-nine per cent of Aussies may have panic bought approximately 40,000 rolls across the nation in the last 12 months. However, Aussies that made international purchases in the same period using the TransferWise Platinum Debit Card saved the equivalent of 2,166,666[1] loo rolls, enough to travel 7 times [2] around Australia.

Tim Cameron, TransferWise Australia, Country Manager, said: "In just one year, our Aussie customers made substantial savings by ditching their bank cards and using the TransferWise card instead.

"Aussies are flushing cash down the loo daily, and they don't even know it. You don't only have to be in Bali, buying a Bintang to be a victim of hidden fees, for example. Even purchases made online outside of Australia, have hidden fees attached in the form of exchange rate mark-ups charged by the banks, and we're on a mission to help put an end to that.

"It seems Aussies value saving loo paper a fair bit, so we're asking them the next time they use that precious paper, to instead '$*it And Think About' the other precious paper they could be saving."

The TransferWise' loo roll vault' has opened in Circular Quay, for one day only (30th September). Not only will lucky passers-by score some free toilet paper, but randomly placed rolls will also include a wad of cash – $145 – reflecting the average saving each Aussie TransferWise Platinum Debit Mastercard holder made in hidden international card charges over the past year.

Fees to watch out for when paying in a different currency using your bank card:
  • Foreign transaction fee - Even if you pay in Australian dollars, most banks charge what's known as a foreign or international transaction fee if the retailer is outside of Australia. If you have a Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit/debit card with any of the big four banks, you'll be hit with these international transaction fees which shows up on your statement after you purchase.
  • Currency conversion fee - While some debit or credit cards won't charge a foreign transaction fee, a hidden cost you won't know about until it happens is the currency conversion charge. Credit and debit card issuers will often charge you a transaction fee of 3-3.5% of your purchase in order to convert your Australian dollars into the currency used by the retailer.

To find out more about the TransferWise Platinum Debit Mastercard, please visit:



Entertainment facilities including theatres, cinemas and concert halls across NSW will be able to increase their capacity to 50 per cent and corporate events at function centres will be able to welcome up to 300 attendees from next week.

The Premier’s Major Events Taskforce has agreed theatre, cinema and concert goers can return to entertainment venues in greater numbers and that corporate events at function centres can increase attendance, provided venues have COVID-safe plans and adhere to public health requirements.

Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said this is a major step forward to recovery for the performing arts sector, with entertainment facilities now able to sell tickets for seated events at 50 per cent of capacity, to a maximum of 1,000 tickets.

“For workers across the full spectrum of the performing arts – from box office staff to ushers, from technicians and roadies to the artists – this change means more jobs,” Mr Harwin said.

The changes mean a boost to box office revenues for the hundreds of theatres, cinemas and concert halls across the state. For some it means reopening their doors.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said getting more people into entertainment venues and function centres was key to re-starting the NSW visitor economy.

“Function centres will now be able to host up to whichever is the lesser of 300 people or one person per four square metres for a corporate event. It’s vitally important for the business community to get back on its feet by being able to collaborate and share ideas in person once again”. The limit of 300 people is an increase from the current limit of 150 for corporate events,” Mr Ayres said.

The NSW Government has supported the arts and cultural sector throughout the pandemic with support packages such as the $6.34 million support for arts, screen and cultural organisations as well as the $50 million Rescue and Restart package.

Destination NSW

Monday, 28 September 2020

Girl's Trip to Japan

Pose for a photoshoot of a lifetime in Okinawa, where you can wear a stunning wedding dress as you pose on a white sand beach against a beautiful sunset, or in one of many picturesque churches with sweeping ocean views. 

You can also don a traditional Okinawan kimono (ryuso) and have your photos taken at the historic ruins of Katsuren Castle or at Shikina Garden, home to former Ryukyu kings. 

With its pristine beaches and idyllic tropical setting, Okinawa is an ideal destination to weave your love story.

Find inspiration for a Girl's Trip to Japan by visiting our campaign website at

Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)
Website: Visit Japan Now


During the first stage of reopening, international flights will be
limited to three flights a week with 100 tourists per flight or
1,200 tourists per month. 
(Bangkok Post file photo)
The Tourism Ministry has pledged to bring the first batch of international tourists to Thailand by October, with Bangkok as the primary destination, and it wants tourism operators to gear up marketing plans right away.

“Tour operators can start promoting long-stay packages via the special tourist visa (STV) to potential customers now, while tourists can contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s overseas office for more information about travel plans using the services of tour operators or Thailand Longstay Company,” said Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

The most important thing is for tourists to provide all required documents regarding their itinerary to Thai consular officials, including payment for alternative state quarantine (ASQ) or alternative local state quarantine (ALSQ) facility, post-quarantine accommodation, chartered flights or private jet bookings, Covid-free certificate, and travel and health insurance.

After the Foreign Ministry approves all documents, it will issue a certificate of eligibility (COE) and STV to tourists to let them continue with travel plans.

“If the visa process can be completed in time, tourists can visit the country by Oct 1 via chartered flight or private jet,” Mr Phiphat said.

Bangkok is where the first visitors will undergo 14-day quarantine, as the city provides sufficient ASQ facilities that have proved successful in handling foreigners.

During the first stage of reopening, international flights will be limited to three flights a week with 100 tourists per flight or 1,200 tourists per month, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The number of tourists could reach full capacity in the first month of reopening, as many travellers have already showed intention to re-enter Thailand, Mr Phiphat said.

“If operations in the first month run smoothly without triggering another outbreak, we aim to increase carrying capacity in the next phase,” he said.

In terms of domestic tourism, there remains the possibility of extending the timeline of two stimulus campaigns and increasing privileges. The ministry will submit those details to the cabinet next month.

Mr Phiphat said a new stimulus plan aimed at supporting tour packages from tour operators will also be issued, while the delayed fiscal budget will not affect operations at the ministry.

Read the full article at Bangkok Post:
Tags: #specialtouristvisa, #Thailand, #travelresumption

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 'PAC Is Back: Major Arts Companies Stage QPAC Homecoming

Thanks to recovery funding from the Queensland Government, Queensland's flagship arts companies will once again grace the stages of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) from 27 September to 20 December 2020.

Opera Queensland (OQ), Queensland Ballet (QB), Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO), Queensland Theatre (QT), and Circa will all return to QPAC over the coming months representing a significant step in QPAC's reopening since its closure in March this year due to COVID-19.

QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas said the announcement was a very welcome light at the end of the tunnel for an industry hard hit by COVID-19 closures and said it was an important step forward in the industry's recovery.

“We're fortunate in Queensland to have our very own nationally and internationally acclaimed arts companies and we feel it's a natural progression for them to be part of this next phase of QPAC's reopening as we move towards our theatres operating at 50 percent capacity in a COVID Safe environment,” Mr Kotzas said.

“The recent success of our sold out QPAC Unlocked program shows there is appetite for people to get out and enjoy live performance again and that's great news for our industry but also the other sectors and businesses that are impacted by our closure.

“These challenging times have highlighted the important and unifying role that art plays in our lives and we're grateful to the Queensland Government for acknowledging this through their funding of this program.

“QPAC, alongside our state companies and the wider arts industry, is committed to creating joyful arts experiences and connecting communities and this funding is enabling us to do so once again.”

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the investment of $350,000 would enable state arts companies to return to the stage and reinforced Queensland's plan for economic recovery.

“This investment is part of the $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package and means these companies will perform once again on the QPAC stage, showcasing their incredible talents,” Minister Enoch said.

“This is a fantastic outcome for Queensland audiences who can once again connect with live performances from our leading arts companies.

“The new program will also support around 2000 employment opportunities for artists and arts workers. This is great news for the arts sector which has been terribly impacted by venue closures since March.

“Our Arts and Cultural Recovery Package works to sustain the arts sector, drive new creative work, employ artists and arts workers, and deliver rich COVID-safe arts experiences for Queenslanders,” she said.

Mr Kotzas said the health and wellbeing of its patrons, staff and artists was the top priority in planning for the upcoming program and said the Centre would be operating under its approved site-specific COVID Safe plan available at

Queensland's Own will kick off with classical music from the movies with Queensland Symphony Orchestra's Reel Classics (27 September). This will be followed by Beethoven 5 (16 and 17 October) featuring Richard Strauss' Don Juan and Beethoven's Symphony No.5, and Beethoven's Emperor (21 November) showcasing the composer's mighty Piano Concerto No.5 in E flat (Emperor) and Respighi's Pine of Rome.

In ENCORE, Opera Queensland returns to the stage, captivating audiences with a soul-stirring collection of much-loved arias, duets and ensemble pieces performed by acclaimed singers Shaun Brown, Andrew Collis, Eva Kong, Rosario La Spina, Virgilio Marino and Milijana Nikolic. This remarkable ensemble is joined by rising star, Opera Queensland's 2020 Young Artist Rebecca Cassidy from 23 to 24 October 2020.

Queensland Theatre will present the Queensland premiere of Mouthpiece by Kieran Hurley from 31 October to 14 November 2020 starring acclaimed Queensland actor Christen O'Leary (Ladies in Black, North by North West., End of the Rainbow) and Jayden Popik in his QT debut. Winner of the 2019 Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award, it is described as unmissable and destined to be a classic of our times.

After a sold-out season at Lights On at the Powerhouse, a program which was supported by the Queensland Government's venue pilot program to trial COVID-safe venue reopenings, Queensland Ballet will continue its 60th anniversary celebrations, presenting a collection of short ballets created by its own dancers in isolation around the theme of love, in Queensland Ballet for 60 Dancers: 60 Stories from 10 to 12 December 2020.

The Queensland's Own showcase program will conclude with two sensational circus productions by award winning contemporary circus ensemble, Circa. Humans from 18-22 November 2020 will be followed by the popular family production by Circa and QPAC's Out of the Box, Carnival of the Animals, from 16 to 
20 December 2020.

From September to December, QPAC will be the place to be when the best of Queensland arts companies and artist talent will be on show. General Public tickets on sale from 11am Friday 25 September 2020 at or phone 136-246.

QPAC, Opera Queensland, Queensland Ballet, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Theatre, and Circa present: 
Queensland's Own
WHEN: 27 September to 20 December 2020
WHERE: Playhouse and Concert Hall QPAC, Queensland Cultural Centre, South Bank, Brisbane
TICKETS: Refer for current pricing
BOOKINGS: or phone 136-246

Wendy Wu Tours Expands Product Offering to Include the Middle East

For the first time in its 26-year history, Wendy Wu Tours will be leading tours to the Middle East in 2021. Featured in its new Central Asia + Middle East brochure, the product offering includes a range of fully inclusive Classic Tours to Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Oman, plus new tours to Georgia and Uzbekistan.

“The Middle East has long been a drawcard for Australians, it's also a destination that's a perfect fit within our current product range, tour styles and experience,” says Andrew Mulholland, Managing Director, Wendy Wu Tours Australia.

“Our Middle East itineraries showcase the very best Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Oman have to offer, customers will experience all the culture, history and iconic sights the region is renowned for, done the Wendy Wu way.”

In addition to its expansion into the Middle East, the leading tour operator will also offer a 14-day fully inclusive tour to Ecuador, as well as Antarctica cruises which can be done as either a pre or post-holiday extension. Also included in its 2021/22 product offering is a 15-day tour to the Philippines – another new destination for 2021.

The new 21-day Thailand & Mekong Experience is the first group tour to combine Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia + four nights cruising onboard Wendy Wu Tours very own deluxe river cruise ship Victoria Mekong.

Wendy Wu Tours has established its Travel with Confidence program which was developed in consultation with the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation), WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council) as well as local government regulations across Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

“In the new COVID-19 world we live in, health and safety are paramount. We are proud of what we have developed. These new safety protocols cover every element of the holiday experience from accommodation and dining to transport and sightseeing as well as customer's health and safety both overseas and on return to Australia.

“Our Book with Confidence guarantee provides our customers extra assurance with low deposit and extended final payments to 75 days prior to departure,” says Mulholland

Wendy Wu Tours is seeing an increased demand for solo travellers, it's for this reason it now has dedicated solo departures on popular tours to Vietnam, China, India and Japan. Customers will relish in being part of a smaller group, but also be able to relax in the comfort of their own room at the end of the day's touring – plus there's no single supplement to pay.

“With 26 years of experience escorting customers on dream holidays, we understand that everyone has their own travel style which is why we offer group tours, independent touring, solo departures and private tours. Our 2021/22 brochure collection has options to suit every type of traveller.”

Wendy Wu Tours has also unveiled a new website which will help planning and booking holidays much easier.

To view the 2021/22 brochure collection and new website visit


Famed stewed fish in the heart of the Old Quarter

Three stewed fish shops located next to one another
 on Cau Go Street. VNS Photo Hoang Nam
The old green Hang Be Market was well known for various ready-to-eat dishes.

Though the market no longer exists, customers can still come to shops in the area to see how the food is prepared and bring home dishes like nem rán (fried spring roll), chả mực (grilled squid) together with mắm tép chưng thịt (pork stirred in fat with shrimp paste), thịt kho tàu (Chinese-style stew pork) and cá kho (stewed fish).

Northern-style stewed fish is offered in three shops located next to one another on Cau Go Street, which used to host Hang Be Market.

The shops offer stewed fish, stewed pork with or without coconut and various other stews.

The shop at No 5 Cau Go Street named Mrs Trinh's Stew Fish is very popular.

Big pieces of grass carp in the brown colour of burnt sugar are placed neatly among sauce, wetting any customers’ mouth.

At 4-5pm every day, many customers flock to buy ready-to-eat food for dinner.

Nguyen Tuyet Trinh, the owner, said there was no secret to making the dish.

“This dish is quite easy to make,” she said. “Anyone can make it following the traditional recipe.”

Trinh said she uses simple ingredients like fresh fish, fish sauce, salt and galangal and makes the fish brown using burnt sugar.

“The special tip is that I spend lots of time to stew the fish so all the spices absorb well into the fish,” she said.

Trinh said the stewing process take up to 13 hours using cast iron saucepans over a moderate temperature.

She has run the business for the past five years and said her father made the dish very well, while her older sisters preferred studying instead of cooking.

Trinh liked cooking and learnt from her father.

“In the past, when food was not so abundant like today,” she recalled, “each family just stewed fish in a small saucepan and cooked it by coal or burnt rice husks.

“But now I stew bigger carp in big saucepans. Each saucepan contains 20kg of fish," she said.

Trinh said she selects the fish very carefully. The grass carps should be very fresh and weigh 5.5-8kg each so that the fish is tender.

She also uses round scad fish from the central province of Quang Binh.

Trinh said the most difficult thing when stewing a big saucepan of fish is ensuring all the pieces absorb the spices and are well-cooked while still keeping their original shape.

“To do this, I often put big pieces at the bottom, thin pieces on top,” she said.

“I put the piece of the tail and middle body in a certain order so that when customers prefer which part, I can take it out easily without searching all around the saucepan so the pieces are not broken in the searching process."

Trinh adds some fatty pork between the fish layers so that the fat absorbs the sauce well and the fish isn't too dry.

“Any dish, to reach a delicious level, depends much on the skills and passion of the cook, not only the proper recipe and materials,” she said.

Stewed fish needs different temperatures for different stages, sometimes it needs a big fire, sometimes small, sometimes without a cover on the saucepan.

“If one doesn’t pay much attention, the result may be quite different to what was expected,” she said.

Trinh said that a cook cannot be in a rush or careless just to make money.

Trinh said some of her customers come in a rush and order fish that is still being cooked, so she tells them to wait or come back later.

“I try to keep my trademark, but more importantly, I want when I give the fish to a customer, it should be marked 10 points perfectly, I don’t like marks like 8,” she said.

Heritage food
Pham Thi Thanh Hang, who runs Nghi Hang Stew Fish Shop at No 1 Cau Go Street, has another trick for her dish.

She puts sugarcane at the bottom of the saucepan so that the sweet sugarcane is absorbed into the fish above.

The sugarcane also protects the fish from being burnt.

Hang’s shop has lots of regular customers, many of whom live far from Hanoi

“I have bought fish here for many years,” said customer Ngo Thu. “I live in Bac Ninh Province. I sometimes come here to buy a large box to send to HCM City to my parents so that they don’t miss the Hanoi delicacy too much."

Hang’s family has been living near the market for several generations.

“When I was small, my parents ran a restaurant here,” she recalled. “I cleared tables and stalls and saw my grandmother stew the fish. At that time, our shop offered steamed rice with popular dishes like stewed fish, pork ribs stirred in fat, and stewed pork.”

Pham Thi Tuyet, 87, is a frequent customer of Hang’s shop and buys her stewed fish twice a week. Even if Hang closes for some reason, Tuyet would wait till she opens again to buy stew fish from her.

Add Hang prepares the sugar sauce to make sure it has
an attractive colour and fragrance. Photo
Hang said each day she sells up to 200kg of fish.

Hang shares the work with her family members and hired helpers but she personally makes the nước hàng (burnt sugar sauce).

“I make it myself to make sure it has a beautiful colour and fragrance,” she said.

Each week she makes the sugar sauce once to use throughout the week using more than 1kg of sugar to make more than a litre of sauce in three hours.

She offers also stewed pork and stewed white radish.
Source: VNS
Tags: #Famedstewedfish, #theOldQuarter, #Hanoi,

READ ALL ABOUT IT ... PONANT release 4th issue of DISCOVER Magazine

At this pause in time, many are considering the question “where to next?”

“To stimulate the wanderlust in us, PONANT has released the fourth issue of its travel magazine DISCOVER, an anthology of travel writers' published articles reflecting their take on some of PONANT's range of global destinations. Great inspirational reading to plan the next adventure,” says Deb Corbett General Manager Sales & Marketing Asia Pacific for PONANT at the release of the magazine which is available as an e-magazine and also as a limited-edition print run.

The articles, written by well-known writers Helen Anderson, Angela Macdonald-Smith, Catherine Marshall, Brook Turner, Clare Colley and Belinda Luksic reflect on some of the diversity PONANT offers across hundreds of luxury expedition and small-ship itineraries that stretch from the polar regions to tropical and sub-tropical destinations.

“From the Chilean fjords to the Red Sea, Tahiti to Antarctica, I think there will be one or more stories of voyages that will stir every reader's imagination, set hearts racing, and perhaps stimulate for adventures to come in the future,” adds Deb Corbett.

The 4th issue of PONANT's DISCOVER Magazine is available to read online:

Should you wish to also read any of the earlier issues of DISCOVER Magazine, please visit


Four of Kansai's Most Picturesque Destinations You Didn't Know Existed

From mountain ranges to endless fields of flowers, Japan is well-known for its spectacular outlooks and photography opportunities. To help plan your next Japan trip, we’ve found four of Kansai’s most breathtaking year-round destinations (that you might have never heard of) to add to your itinerary, with all destinations accessible along the Kintetsu Railway line.

1. Explore the hidden natural wonder of Akame Waterfalls
Akame 48 Waterfalls in Mie Prefecture is home to endless waterfalls lining a four kilometre stretch along Akame Valley. The walk takes around 4 hours to complete and allows visitors to immerse themselves amongst the serenity of the falls. The waterfalls are considered one of Mie’s hidden natural wonders, with the forested Akame Valley holding a historic past as a training ground for ninjas between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Every season Akame 48 Waterfalls greets visitors with new scenery. In spring, cherry blossoms come into bloom, while in autumn the changing colour of the forest leaves see it painted in red and brown hues. In the summertime, the valley is a luscious green, and in winter visitors may be rewarded with frozen waterfalls and icy outlooks.

The falls can be reached with the Kintetsu Railway by alighting at Akameguchi Station and a 10-minute bus ride.

2. Find endless fields of flowers at Menard Aoyama Resort Herb Garden
Nestled in a national park in Mie Prefecture’s west is Menard Aoyama Resort. The resort houses an eight-hectare herb garden that is home to 300 different varieties of herbs and flowers including lavender and camomile.

In mid-June more than 30,000 lavender plants come into bloom, blanketing the resort’s garden in a mesmerising pastel purple. After enjoying the endless fields of flowers, a quintessential Japanese summertime activity, visitors can treat themselves to a lavender soft serve ice-cream made with lavender fresh from the herb garden.

Menard Aoyama Resort can be accessed from Kintetsu Railway’s Iga-Kambe station, with a transfer on a free shuttle bus (reservation required).

3. Explore cedar forests and ancient structures at Murouji Temple
Murouji Temple stands on Mt. Muro on the border of Nara and Mie Prefectures. The temple is hidden in an almost magical cedar forest which covers the surrounding mountain area.

Murouji Temple is known for being home to the smallest five-story pagoda in Japan, which is just 16 metres high and smaller than 3 metres wide. The most photogenic times to visit the pagoda is in the autumn when it is surrounded by blazing leaves and in early summer when it is perfectly framed by azaleas and rhododendrons.

Get to Murouji Temple from Kintetsu Muroguchi-Ono Station, followed by a bus bound for Murouji-mae, alighting at the last stop.

4. Discover the Japanese countryside at Soni Village Highlands
Soni Village Highlands offers a rare outlook of expansive green fields reminiscent of the old Japanese countryside. The almost never-ending grassland is covered with Japanese pampas grass, which was traditionally used as roofing material in early Japanese houses.

The grassy fields offer easy hiking courses, giving way to amazing views, especially at sunset when the glowing sun above the pampas grass dyes the fields gold.

After a day of hiking, visitors can soothe their muscles with a relaxing hot spring soak at Okame-no-yu Onsen which offers panoramic mountain views as you bathe.

Access Soni Highland from Nabari Station using the Kintetsu Railway line. During peak season a bus will take you to the highlands from the station, but it is recommended to access the area by car if you wish to experience the sunset views and explore the surrounding village after dark as buses stop mid-afternoon.

About the Kintetsu Rail Pass
The Kintetsu Rail Pass gives travellers unlimited rides on all Kintetsu Railway lines for 5 days.
Available for visitors from overseas at a discounted price of 3,700yen, pre-purchase your passes online or buy at any Kintetsu Station in Japan.
For information on the pass, please visit:

About Kintetsu Railway

Founded in 1910, Kintetsu Railway was originally an electric tram system operating between Nara and Osaka. Over the past 110 years, the company has become one of Japan’s largest operating railway networks that connects major cities in the Kansai region including Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Nagoya, Tsu, Ise and Yoshino. For more information, visit: