Monday, 30 November 2020


The InterContinental Sydney is about to undergo a major facelift, with construction underway on the $95 million redevelopment.

The refurbishment of the former NSW Treasury building will cover all 500-plus guest rooms and corridors, the ground level including the Macquarie Street entry, reception areas, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant and level 31 gym and pool. 

Members of the public will be invited to enjoy a new public bar within the heritage central court, along with a new bar within the level 32 InterContinental Lounge. 

The hotel will remain open throughout most the works, which are expected to be completed in early 2022.


Sunday, 29 November 2020


Ever wondered about the story behind the design of Sydney Opera House?

Visitors now have the chance to learn from those who know it best. 

Sydney Opera House has introduced a new range of tours including the Architectural Tour, which will give visitors the opportunity to discover how Danish architect Jørn Utzon dreamed up its iconic shape, which in Frank Gehry’s words, 'changed the image of an entire country.' 

This special tour will operate on Fridays and Saturdays from 4-19 December. 

Visitors are encouraged to purchase tour tickets in advance online. 

For those unable to visit Sydney Opera House in person, the organisation is offering a Guided Digital Tour via Zoom, which runs for 45 minutes, three times every Monday. 

Find out more and book here


Saturday, 28 November 2020

The 1st Destination Mekong Summit

The 1st Destination Mekong Summit was a great success this year with many interesting sessions with speakers from the public and private sectors.

Recordings of the sessions, including the Chapter 3 panel discussion with Minister of Tourism of Cambodia H.E. Dr. Thong Khon, Vice Chairman of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism H.E. Dr. Ha Van Sieu and former Director-General of Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lao PDR Mr. Soun Manivong to learn how governments continue to support businesses and mitigate job losses and what are some of the effective recovery measures and policies put in place by Greater Mekong Subregion governments. The session was moderated by Mr. Steven Schipani from the Asian Development Bank.

All sessions are available on the event website at

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

Banwa wins ‘Private Island of the Year’ in Destination Deluxe Awards 2020

From a shortlist of the most exceptional private islands in the world, Banwa is delighted to have been chosen as the Winner of the 2020 Destination Deluxe Award for ‘Private Island of the Year’.

This prestigious award, judged by a panel of highly respected industry experts, is testament to Banwa’s vision for creating unparalleled guest experiences in a remote yet luxurious setting.

Located in Northern Palawan within a marine protected area, Banwa is home to an abundance of rare and vivid flora and fauna.

Our 6.5 hectare island has six magnificent beach-front villas, each with their own infinity pool providing the utmost in privacy and tranquility. World-class amenities include a stunning open kitchen restaurant and terrace bar, a spa pavilion featuring floodlit tennis court, gym, massage suite, Pilates/yoga studio and juice bar. There’s a dive centre and short-game golf course too.

Vivienne Tang, Founder & CEO of Destination Deluxe commented “We’re thrilled to celebrate Banwa as this year’s winner in the ‘Private Island of the Year’ category. Banwa’s sought-after exclusivity is more timely and important than ever. Being able to experience Palawan’s untouched natural environment is something we all dearly long for, and a getaway on this beautiful and luxurious private island sanctuary should be on everyone’s bucket list for next year!”

Guests can opt to stay in any one of Banwa’s six beachfront villas or, for the ultimate friends and family escape, the entire island can be chartered on an ‘exclusively yours’ basis.

Island capacity for 2021 is 22 guests, with a range of individual private villa accommodation to suit couples and families alike. Short-hop heli transfers from nearby Puerto Princesa airport make for a stunning guest arrival experience on the Banwa Lawns, after a 1-hour flight from Manila.

CEO Peter Nilsson greeted the announcement as a significant endorsement of Banwa’s values, commenting “This award acknowledges the importance of privacy and tranquility in today’s luxury travel sector. We pledge to provide exceptional personalised guest experiences within our informal and intimate island sanctuary, whereby the genuine care and wellbeing of our guests is our ultimate priority”.

Banwa is set to re-open pending the easing of travel restrictions in early 2021.


MCEC Return of Events On Site

Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre (MCEC)
The Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre (MCEC) is now welcoming people back to our beloved centre for live events and experiences. 

In line with the Victorian Government’s Public Events Framework, events in our venue can now proceed under the following conditions.


o   Events at MCEC are currently limited to 25 per cent of the venue’s seating capacity, up to a maximum of 250 people seated.

o   A density limit of one person per four square metres applies to non-fixed seated areas.

o   Free-standing events are not permitted for the time being.

o   Event capacity will increase over time subject to public health advice, in line with the framework and future easing of restrictions. Visit the Public Events Framework for the latest Victorian Government advice on public events.


We’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to make our customers next experience at MCEC memorable and safe.


VenueSafe Plan

We have implemented a range of public health, hygiene and physical distancing measures under our new VenueSafe Plan to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees, customers, contractors and suppliers. Every event in the building will also be required to have its own COVIDsafe plan


These measures include: 

-          We have VenueSafe advisors within the business, to work alongside employees, customers and contractors to ensure that MCEC and government health measures are followed.

-          We’re only open to events and delegates in attendance. It will not be possible to use MCEC as a public thoroughfare to the surrounding precinct.

-          Entry and exit points will be reduced to allow for health check stations at each point, including hand sanitising and temperature checks.

-          Frequency of routine cleaning has already increased across the venue.

-          Signage has been prominently displayed to indicate 1.5 metre physical distancing and hygiene practices; and

-          All employees will receive training on coronavirus (COVID-19) safety and sanitisation protocols.  


Different times call for different events

While the world paused, we hit play on Virtual Events, and now we have dedicated studios from which we can run virtual events.


We recently transformed our exhibition bays into a film studio for a Hollywood blockbuster starring Liam Neeson. We also partnered with Guide Dogs Australia to use the venue as a training space for guide dogs and supporting Victorians with vision impairment or blindness through Melbourne’s period of restrictions.  


And it doesn’t end there! We have a number of exciting activations planned over the coming months and we will share more details with you as we’re able to. 


MCEC is more than an incredible event space. We partner with our customers to deliver unique experiences.


It will still be some time before we can return to the level of activity we’re used to in our building. But this is a positive step.


We continue to work behind the scenes to bring more activity to our centre and will keep you informed as we know more.



Readers: just when you thought you had seen everything, the Blue Mountains has a new attraction - Dinosaur Valley. 

Step back in time with this exclusive experience at Scenic World, which explores the Jurassic period. Visitors will meet dozens of life-sized dinosaurs among the ancient rainforest, join Dino Rangers on a 90-minute tour to learn fun facts about the prehistoric creatures, before wrapping up the adventure on board the world’s steepest railway. 

Dinosaur Valley, which is back by popular demand after much acclaim in 2018, will open on 26 November. 

Due to physical distancing requirements, capacity is limited with entry via timed tickets, booked online only. 

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.


Friday, 27 November 2020

Limited Ticket Release for Sydney New Year's Eve Fireworks

Want the best seat in the house as the eyes of the world turn to Sydney Harbour to farewell 2020 and bring in the long-awaited New Year? Captain Cook Cruises has just released a limited number of tickets onboard the MV Sydney 2000 to see the amazing fireworks display up close. There may never be a better year to cross this once in a lifetime experience off your bucket list.

Sydney's New Year's Eve midnight fireworks are going ahead but with the prime vantage spots on the foreshore only available to NSW frontline workers. Only residents and those with confirmed bookings at hospitality venues, will be allowed into Circular Quay, North Sydney and the City. Captain Cook Cruises has released a strictly limited number of New Year's Eve cruises for 2020 with tickets on sale now.

The Sydney 2000 is the largest vessel in the Captain Cook Cruises fleet with three restaurant decks offering live music, food, drinks and Veuve Clicquot Champagne at midnight from $699 per person. The Ocean Deck's newly refurbished lounge-bar with canapés and drinks is a great option for those who enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. Move up the decks and the menu, wines and views become more indulgent, culminating in a 5-course dinner, superior wines, spirits, liqueurs and magnificent views from the Sky Deck.

Captain Cook Cruises also has tickets available onboard John Cadman 2 and Captain Cook 3 from $599 per person. Both cruises include a premium 4-course menu, open bar of still and sparkling wine, local and imported beers and live music. Spacious interiors, huge picture windows and extensive outdoor decks are features of both vessels to see the fireworks in all their colourful glory.

For those looking for a more casual celebration, pack a picnic, bring your own drinks and see in the New Year on a Rocket Ferry. These catamaran ferries are also a fabulous way to celebrate the start of 2021 from only $299 per person.

All vessels depart from Darling Harbour, King St Wharf 1 and return approximately 1:00am. The premium vessels Sydney 2000, John Cadman 2 and Captain Cook 3 board at 8:00pm and depart at 8:30pm. Casual Rocket Ferries board at 9:00pm and depart at 9:30pm.

Captain Cook Cruises Sydney Harbour is a Covid-Safe vessel operator and restaurant. For further information and bookings call +61-2-9206 1111 or visit

Social Media #captaincookcruises

Captain Cook Cruises Sydney is part of the SeaLink Travel Group

Find Your Shine in Townsville North Queensland

Townsville Enterprise, the official regional tourism organisation for Townsville North Queensland has officially launched a new marketing campaign to shine the spotlight on a host of new travel and accommodation packages encouraging locals and visitors to find their shine in the region this summer after a challenging 2020.

Targeted at Queenslanders, and those within Australia who are able to travel, the 'Find Your Shine' campaign aims to support the local tourism and hospitality industry with a suite of tailored holiday packages to suit all tastes. The summer months are traditionally a quieter period for Townsville North Queensland's visitor numbers which is why a new marketing strategy has been undertaken in close partnership with local operators.

With another school holiday period quickly approaching across Christmas and New Year, Townsville Enterprise Visitor Economy & Marketing Director, Lisa Woolfe said attention had turned to the dedicated summer campaign heavily focused on conversion through bookings at

“With international travel off the table there has never been a better time to get out and explore Townsville North Queensland, or even rediscover the region and create new memories with family and friends,” said Ms Woolfe.

“With spectacular weather, world-class natural assets and some incredible deals on offer, experiencing our region will not only provide the opportunity to connect with loved ones, but support an industry that needs it now more than ever.”

All-inclusive packages range from family getaways cuddling koalas and snorkelling with marine life, diving the Museum of Underwater Art, exploring and learning all about a World Heritage-Listed rainforest, wetting a line on the ultimate fishing experience at the Great Barrier Reef, or wooing that special someone with a fully catered secluded beach picnic or a sunset sail.

All packages can be booked at the new-look destination website which has undergone a complete makeover, including an interactive trip planner to build customised itineraries.

Ms Woolfe said the aim of the campaign was to help reignite some joy for families after an exceptionally difficult 2020.

“We've been working closely with industry to develop deals to get families back to experience the best of our backyard in an affordable way, as well as offering experiences to attract visitors from outside the region and Queensland to explore a new destination,” said Ms Woolfe.

“The campaign is a reminder that you don't have to go far to experience a memorable holiday and that Townsville North Queensland is a place where our people, our landscapes and our experiences can help visitors and locals find their shine again after a COVID-19 impacted year.”

Key dates:
Booking dates: 16 November – 18 December 2020
Travel dates: 7 December 2020 – 28 February 2021

For more holiday deals and packages visit

Find Your Shine Quiz

With a new-look modern website, Townsville North Queensland's new Find Your Shine Quiz leads visitors through a series of four questions to find their ultimate holiday itinerary. It's a fun and easy way to find the perfect holiday for you, based on your interests, travel type and transport preference.

Come on, join us! Let us help you find your shine in Townsville North Queensland!

Interactive 'My Trip' Planner

Townsville North Queensland's new-look website also makes holiday planning a breeze, with the new 'Favourites' and 'My Trip Planner' functionality. All active listings on the webpage – from activities, places to stay and road trips – can be added to a Favourites list and customized into personal AND bookable* multi-day itineraries. These itineraries can be shared on social media, or to friends and family by email!
*If product is connected to sales platform. Subject to availability.



Tags: #Travel, #Domesticholidays, #Queensland, #Townsville, #holidaypackage

Opera Australia Returns to Uluru for 2021

Opera Australia will be returning to Uluru, the spiritual heart of Australia, in September 2021 with four magnificent performances planned across one weekend with the spectacular Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Bruce Munro's Field of Light Uluru as the backdrop.

This will be Opera Australia's second performance at Uluṟu, partnering with Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, having captivated audiences with its inaugural concert in November 2019. A return visit was planned in 2020 but had to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The event will be held under the stars from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 September 2021 and will provide guests with the opportunity to hear some of the world's finest music performed in a uniquely Australian setting.

Opera Australia Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini AM, who will host the weekend said: "Opera Australia is thrilled to be teaming up with Voyages and returning to Uluṟu in 2021 with an expanded program. Our first concert there last year proved such a success, we knew we were onto something really special. We were really touched by the feedback we received from guests who were visibly moved by the experience.

"We wanted to build on those foundations and create more opportunities for guests to experience the combination of the majestic Australian landscape and the exquisite talent of our performers. I'm particularly looking forward to the intimate, ethereal sunrise performances in the dunes near the Field of Light, these will be memories that will last a lifetime.”

In 2021, guests will be able to curate their own musical journey by choosing from a range of packages and stand-alone concerts.

The weekend begins on Friday night with an open-air Welcome Dinner, highlighting native bush ingredients, and will feature a performance of sublime arias from the final act of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. The event will take place among the expansive ghost gums at Sails in the Desert.

Two exceptional, intimate dawn performances for only 90 people each will leave guests awestruck as the sun rises over the horizon and bathes Uluru in the morning light. On Saturday, guests can enjoy four of Opera Australia's finest singers and a string quartet performing a selection of Brahms' most beautiful love songs, the Liebeslieder Waltzes.

And, on Sunday morning celebrated soprano and accomplished cellist, Taryn Fiebig, will enthral guests with a captivating recital, performing a selection of songs on her cello.

During what will surely be the high point for the weekend, the Gala Concert on Saturday evening will include a performance of famous arias from Bizet, Puccini, Rossini, Verdi and more, accompanied by a chamber orchestra conducted by Tahu Matheson.

As the sun sets over the desert backdrop, the evening will be illuminated by the spellbinding colours of celebrated artist, Bruce Munro's critically acclaimed Field of Light Uluru's 50,000 glass spheres. The weekend of performances offers a totally unique way to experience the global art phenomenon, which opened at Ayers Rock Resort in 2016.

Matthew Cameron-Smith, CEO of Voyages, said: “The return of Opera Australia to Uluru in 2021 will give people something to look forward to after such a difficult year. These extraordinary performances will be a true feast for the senses, combining one of the most iconic Australian landscapes with Opera Australia's awe-inspiring music and the magic of Field of Light Uluru.”

“We know that our guests are drawn time and time again to the magic of Uluru, and that they want to engage in a range of experiences that allow them to gain a deeper enjoyment of the destination, which is why we have worked hard to enable Opera Australia to return to perform in the spiritual heart of Australia,” added Cameron-Smith.

Tickets to the Saturday evening Gala Concert can be purchased as part of a two or three-night package with prices starting from $825.00 per person twin-share, including accommodation at Ayers Rock Resort, return airport transfers and in-room Wi-Fi. Tickets to the three other performances can be purchased individually ranging from $315.00 - $595.00 per person.

For more information go to or call 1300 134 044.

A video of last year's performance can be found at



The Virgin Australia Group entered an exciting new chapter last week, exiting voluntary administration after completing the sale to new owner Bain Capital. 

The Group’s new CEO and Managing Director, Jayne Hrdlicka, formally commenced in the role and outlined the company’s future vision. 

Ms Hrdlicka noted the airline would target passengers in the middle of the market who want a more premium experience at an affordable and competitive rate. 

Virgin Australia will also undertake a review of its business class offering and in-flight WiFi and entertainment, new self-service and assisted check-in and baggage drop facilities, as well as a network of lounges across major airports.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

How British Columbia Leads the World in Sustainability

With the United Nations declaring 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, Canada's western province of British Columbia continues to blaze a trail for prioritising environmental initiatives and inclusive economic growth and innovation.

Cities throughout British Columbia have introduced pioneering initiatives ranging from Canada's first net zero multi-unit residential building to recognition as the first biosphere destination in the Americas.

Olympic Village, Vancouver

Vancouver, a model for sustainable urban planning, is on track to become the Greenest City in the world. With the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions of any major city in North America, Vancouver runs on more than 90 percent renewable energy, thanks to the city's large supply of hydroelectricity.

Olympic Village, Canada's first net zero multi-unit residential building, uses solar heating, green roofs and other systems that cultivate an energy-efficient ecosystem where people live, work, play and learn.

From kayaking False Creek and checking out the Craft Beer Market, to riding the Aquabus mini-ferry to bustling Granville Island, visitors to the Olympic Village have much to explore.

Thompson Okanagan Valley

British Columbia's Thompson Okanagan region, famous for its world-class wineries and progressive culinary scene, achieved recognition as the first “biosphere destination” in the Americas, a certification awarded by the Responsible Tourism Institute, recognising the quality, environmental sustainability and social responsibility of the region as a tourism destination.

Recently, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) became a founding signatory with the Future of Tourism Coalition, an international coalition set on shaping the future of tourism by cultivating healthy, inclusive communities and environmental stewardship.

Whether scaling the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, wine tasting at one of over 200 wineries in Canada's only desert, or cross-country skiing along snowy winter trails, visitors can't get enough of this this beautiful, natural outdoor playground.

Great Bear Rainforest

Along the coast of British Columbia lies the largest tract of unspoiled temperate rainforest on Earth, the Great Bear Rainforest.

Local First Nations, government, environmental groups and forest companies have collaborated to maintain ecological integrity and human wellbeing of the 6.4-million-hectare ecosystem – an initiative that protects 85 percent of the forest, while creating economic opportunities for indigenous communities and providing sustainable harvesting for forest companies.

The magical Princess Royal Island in the Great Bear Rainforest is not only home to a healthy population of grizzlies, but also the rare Kermode (Spirit) bear, a sub-species of black bear found only in this part of the world carrying a recessive gene that gives them a naturally white coat.

Companies operated by the local Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nations people in the nearby village of Klemtu offer tours to view the bears, while two floating lodges in the vicinity, Knight Inlet Lodge and Great Bear Lodge, also offer grizzly bear-viewing tours from spring through autumn.

Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island

The village of Cowichan Bay, on the coast of Vancouver Island, is North America's first Cittaslow (Italian/English for 'slow city') community. The movement, founded in 1999, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in small towns (fewer than 50,000 residents), slowing down the overall pace and flow of traffic through them.

Cowichan Bay is dedicated not only to keeping the pace of life reasonable, but to working with First Nations and industry to re-establish much that has been lost in the way of culture and sustainable living in the area. For example, although the bay is no longer a source of harvestable marine life due to industrial activity, the local Cittaslow folk intend to reverse that trend.

This tiny region is a Canadian culinary hot spot, priding itself on producing artisan fare, such as all-natural, locally produced ice cream, locally-caught, sustainable seafood, breads made from Vancouver Island-grown grain, cheese created with locally-produced milk and regionally-cultivated wines and spirits.

Canada looking forward to welcoming Australian visitors once more when the time is right, guided by health regulations and clear border guidelines. Click here for COVID-19 updates.


Accolades for Australia's Top Travel Media at the ASTW Awards for Excellence 2020

A record number of finalists were acknowledged at the recent ASTW Awards of Excellence virtual event, including travel writers, PR professionals, photographers and digital influencers.

As host of the annual event, Australian comedian Jean Kittson shared her signature wit and absurd humour with almost 200 ASTW members and guests who tuned in throughout Australia.

“While we were unable to connect in person, our virtual Awards of Excellence was a huge hit, celebrated via a professional platform featuring a networking room where attendees could engage with each other, as well as spontaneous competitions and giveaways,” says Elisa Elwin, President of the ASTW.

Platinum Sponsor, Tourism Australia, presented two awards on the night: Best Australian Travel Story over 1000 Words and Best Australian Travel Story under 1000, while Gold Sponsor, TravMedia presented the award for Best PR Professional.

“Given the current media and travel environment, there has never been a more important time to recognise the very best published work and tourism promotion by ASTW members,” says Nick Wayland, CEO of TravMedia.

The highly esteemed Jack Butters Award was presented to long-standing ASTW member, David McGonigal, for his tireless support and valuable contribution to the society during the past 12 months.

Much-loved travel writer Jack Butters co-founded the ASTW in 1975. The award was created to commemorate Jack following his death, with the objective of recognising the person or people who have contributed significantly to the society throughout the year.

ASTW Awards for Excellence 2020 winners

Anabel Dean – Maple Magic

Natascha Mirosch - Turning Back Time - Staying in a Medieval Mountain Village in Abruzzo

Sue Williams - How Australian passports are made and checked: The secrets behind our passports

Lindy Alexander - Vegan Food Adventure Across India

Michael Turtle – Time Travel Turtle

Carolyn Beasley – Paradise with a paddle

Jeremy Drake - Korul Village Boys, PNG

Tracey Croke – The Path of Hope and Unity

Craig Tansley - Magical Realism

David McGonigal – A Whole Lotta Lava

Craig Tansley – Horse riding through Patagonia
Tracey Croke – The Path of Hope and Unity

Rachelle Mackintosh – African Gold

Steven Madgwick – These Unearthly Plains


Catherine Marshall – On Eden's Shore

Destination Canada
Wild Bush Luxury

Shelley Winkel – Tourism and Events Queensland

Dan Avila

Sarah Reid - As the oil flows, can Guyana continue to be a beacon of sustainable tourism? Is Saudi Arabia really ready to receive the world's travellers? Celebrating a nation that doesn't exist.

David McGonigal

For more information about the ASTW or for membership enquiries, please visit the ASTW website or email



The Australian cruise community is calling on the public to get behind its latest campaign in a show of support for the global industry, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The industry is worth more than $5 billion and supports 25,000 jobs in Australia and New Zealand, including travel agents and tour operators, farmers, winemakers, port workers and technical service providers.

But since March this year, cruise ships have been unable to enter any port in Australia due to restrictions introduced to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has drawn on some of these personal stories as part of its #WeAreCruise initiative to unite the cruise community and help build the case for a carefully planned revival, which includes a commitment to extensive new health and safety protocols.

CLIA has developed a range of assets for people to use on social media to show their support for the industry, which can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Sunshine Coast Unveils New Destination Brand 'For Real' Following Successful Campaign Launch

Queensland's Sunshine Coast is 'For real'.

Regional tourism organisation Visit Sunshine Coast (VSC) has unveiled 'For real' as the destination's new brand, following the launch of a successful campaign by the same name.

The VSC team shared the news with over 240 members at the Annual General Meeting and end of year networking celebration last night.

For real encapsulates the authenticity the Sunshine Coast is known for. It is where those in the know come for an experience that is as authentic as is it extraordinary.

VSC Interim CEO Craig Davidson said For real had been developed over the past 18 months in partnership with creative agency Banjo but took on a new relevance following the pandemic, with extensive research highlighting travellers' desires for authentic, nature-based and real experiences.

“The new branding segues from our previous 'naturally refreshing' tagline, which has served us well for the past 10 years but our research showed was no longer setting us apart in the marketplace,” Mr Davidson said.

“Instead, we recognised the increasing importance of authenticity and nature in people's travel choices, and the new For real brand resonated strongly with travellers.

“For real will be instrumental in driving VSC's marketing activities into the next decade as we position the Sunshine Coast as one of Australia's most desired, premium destinations for families, couples, groups and business events.

“It builds on the region's unique natural advantage of being home to many of Australia's most pristine environments, including uncrowded beaches, two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, a World Heritage Marine Park, the dramatic Glass House Mountains and sub-tropical rainforest of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

“What has progressed so strongly is being able to offer tourism experiences that match the environment, and this brand is just as much about recognising those experiences, the people, culture, food and lifestyle that make up the fabric of the Sunshine Coast.”

For real shows the Sunshine Coast is welcoming and unaffected, the people are genuine and down to earth, it is where you meet amazing characters and experience real Aussie culture.

The new brand follows in the footsteps of VSC's latest marketing campaign also named For real, which since its launch in October, has recorded more than 3 million social media impressions driving over 20,000 visitors to the dedicated Visit Sunshine Coast For Real webpage.

VSC has partnered with booking agents and Experience Oz for the campaign, with phase two offering consumers mid-week 'Real Deals' on the Sunshine Coast to help further drive bookings to local tourism operators.

Mr Davidson said the launch of the new brand was perfectly timed with the arrival of VSC's new CEO Matt Stoeckel who will take up his position with the company in early 2021.

“We are extremely excited by the launch and look forward to showing visitors the depth of experiences we have here on the Sunshine Coast – For real,” he said.

For more, go to


Echidna Walkabout Help Australia Win Lonely Planet Best in Travel Award

Australia has won the Best Community Restoration Award in the Lonely Planet Best In Travel 2021, for the response to the Black Summer bushfires. Echidna Walkabout's koala tree planting project is one of the community recovery efforts recognised in the award.

Echidna Walkabout owner Janine Duffy is the spokesperson for the award, and spoke to the judges of her experience with the bushfires and determination to take this opportunity to save koalas.

“In summer 2019 /2020 we had the worst bushfires in human history, in koala habitat” says Duffy.

“After the bushfires we started a project to get travellers to plant trees adjacent to the bushfire zone,” she said.

“We figure if you're going to a place to see the animals, you may as well help them while you're there.”

“How would a traveller feel if they planted a tree, next year, and in 4 years came back and saw a koala in it, knowing they helped save this threatened species?”

“We have the perfect opportunity to really save koalas now, with so much local and international attention.”

“We love it when travellers come and help our wildlife, and we're going to need them to plant all these trees.”

The prestigious Best In Travel global list, established in 2005, sets the tone for the upcoming year, and drives focus on a destination. The awards changed in 2020 to reflect the changes to travel due to COVID and to show that travel remains a force for good. The three new categories: Sustainability, Community & Diversity reflect important shared values of travel.

Local, and when safe to travel, international travellers can get involved by joining one of Echidna Walkabout's Koala Recovery Experiences, west of Melbourne or in Gippsland.


Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours is an international award-winning, social enterprise tour operator that offers small group wildlife conservation experiences for travellers who want to see wild animals and help nature at the same time.


Janine Duffy has been a Koala Researcher for 22 years, specialising in Victorian koalas. She is also known for discovering that koalas can be identified by their natural nose markings. She is the co-founder and co-owner of Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours and the president of the Koala Clancy Foundation.


Tags: #, #


How can digital technology help restore travellers confidence and help Southeast Asia’s small and medium-sized tourism businesses endure the COVID-19 downturn?

Southeast Asia depends on domestic and international tourism for sustainable economic growth. COVID-19 has widely disrupted tourism, resulting in significant job losses and overall economic productivity. Re-establishing confidence to travel, both international and domestic will be critical for Southeast Asia’s long term economic recovery. With health and safety being a critical consumer concern, innovative solutions are emerging to provide real-time accurate   information needed for safe travel planning, provide tourists with peace of mind, and promote local tourism businesses. As Southeast Asia starts to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19 and borders begin to reopen, significant innovation will be needed to support long-term inclusive tourism recovery. Proactively and effectively communicating safety protocols and accurate travel information will help assure international and local tourists that destinations are ready to receive visitors.

To help Southeast Asia’s small and medium-sized tourism businesses endure the COVID-19 downturn, how can we use digital technology to provide health and safety information, or develop consumer products and services, that restore confidence to travel?

Your innovative solutions are what we need to fast-track tourism recovery in Southeast Asia!

In this challenge, ADB seeks digital solutions that can contribute to Southeast Asia’s tourism recovery in the wake of COVID-19.

The following areas of interests are eligible for the challenge:
  • Real-time updates on COVID-19 health and safety protocols implemented by public and private tourism service providers and information about evolving visa, air and ground transport, accommodation, tours, food and beverage services, and other tourism business operations
  • Integrated end-to-end travel planning tools (air and ground transport, accommodations, food and beverages, health, and wellness, etc.) that integrate COVID-19 safety and prevention measures
  • Creative digital marketing campaigns that maintain destination visibility and engender consumer confidence to travel again 
The selected solution will have potential funding of USD 10,000 or more for selected pilots in ADB’s developing member countries. 


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

Australia Recognised in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel Awards for 2021

Australia has been recognised in global travel authority Lonely Planet's much-loved annual Best In Travel Awards announced today, receiving the 'Community Restoration' award.

Reflecting the ways in which the world and attitudes to travel have been changed, Lonely Planet has created new award categories for 2021, including 'Community', 'Sustainability' and 'Diversity', to recognise not just the places but also the people and communities that are transforming the industry.

Australia secured the 'Community Restoration' award in recognition of its recovery efforts at both a local and national level to rebuild communities and preserve Australia's unique wildlife following the 2019/20 summer bushfires.

Tourism Australia Managing Director Phillipa Harrison said that the award was a reflection of the significant efforts made by Australians to help drive the recovery of communities and the tourism sector more broadly following the bushfires.

“There is no doubt that this has been the most challenging year our industry has faced, having to first deal with the impacts of last summer's bushfires followed directly by a shutdown of travel due to COVID-19,” Ms Harrison said.

“But in response to these challenges, we really have seen the best examples of the Australian spirit shining through particularly as people across the country rallied behind those communities both directly and indirectly impacted by the bushfires, with so many extending offers of support.

“That spirit of resilience has really endured as recovery efforts have continued, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is heartening that this has been recognised as part of these awards.”

Australia is one of 30 destinations, inspirational individuals and tourism projects selected by Lonely Planet to shine a light on pioneering sustainable practices, efforts by local communities towards restoration and the importance of diverse representation in all aspects of travel.

“Travel in 2021 and beyond will be a much more considerate exercise than it has been ever before,” Lonely Planet CEO Luis Cabrera said.

“With travellers cautiously re-engaging with the world and focusing on ensuring their impact is safe and positive for host communities, we have decided to highlight destinations and individuals that truly enable visitors to make genuine contributions through regenerative travel.”

Lonely Planet hopes the Best in Travel 2021 awards will champion those who make travel a force for good at a time when COVID-19 has disrupted and devastated the industry worldwide, affecting so many in the industry. Rather than delivering a destination bucket list, Lonely Planet has focused on how people travel now: outdoors, in family groups, purposefully, with careful attention to the communities they will explore. 

“We are taking the chance to re-emphasise what we are here for and why our mission remains to be a trusted travel companion. One that inspires, informs, and guides, while being in sync with travel wants and needs,” said Cabrera.

Lonely Planet started the process for the 2021 Best in Travel list by seeking nominations from their vast community of staff, writers, photographers, videographers, bloggers, publishing partners and more. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, they paused the process but observed the conservation surrounding travel take a decisive shift. As a result, Lonely Planet crafted this new approach to the awards, tailored for the world of travel in 2021.

In addition, Lonely Planet is inviting readers to add nominations for their favourite people and places that are shaping the future of travel this year and beyond. Voting is open from today on the Best in Travel website and Lonely Planet will announce the Reader's Choice Awards winners in January 2021.

For more information on the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2021 list, including images and videos of the winners visit

About Lonely Planet:

Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company and the world's number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveller since 1973. Over the past four decades, we've printed over 145 million guidebooks and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travellers. You'll also find our content on, The Guide Ap, mobile, video, guidebooks in 14 languages and children's books, lifestyle books, e-books, and more. Visit us at or join our social community of over 14 million travellers. Find us on Facebook (, Twitter (@lonelyplanet), Instagram ( and Pinterest (

About Tourism Australia:

Tourism Australia is the Australian Government agency responsible for promoting Australia to the world as a destination for leisure and business travel. The organisation aims to grow demand for the destination's tourism experiences by promoting the unique attributes, which will entice people to visit. More information is available at

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Visit Riverina NSW has launched its new #VisitRiverina social media competition, encouraging locals and visitors to snap and submit images of their favourite places in The Riverina.

The competition is running over four weeks, with each week based around a specific theme. This week’s theme is Water, which will be followed by Culture and Heritage, Food and Drink, and Outdoor Adventure.

There are great prizes to be won, including products and experiences from across The Riverina, with a People’s Choice winner to be announced in mid-December.

Competition entrants are asked to share their favourite photos for each themed week on Facebook and Instagram using the #VisitRiverina hashtag and complete the entry form on The Riverina website.

To find out more and read the terms and conditions, click here