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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Magic of coral spawning captured in Reef Chat



The Great Barrier Reef coral spawning has captured the imagination of media around the world with extraordinary coverage of the Reef regenerating.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chief Executive Officer Pip Close said the annual coral spawn, which occurred last week and should happen again after the full moon in December, was a sign of hope for those concerned about the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

"It is fantastic seeing the media reports which are appearing multiple times in newspapers, broadcast bulletins and digital media around the world and across Australia," she said.

"News about the coral spawning is included in this month's free e-newsletter Reef Chat which shares some great images and videos of the annual event.

"Focusing on the people, places and science of the World Heritage area, Reef Chat has been published for the past three months in response to media, travel agent and traveller requests for up-to-date information on the Great Barrier Reef.

"This monthly newsletter will introduce people around the world to the thousands of stories the Great Barrier Reef holds.

"To subscribe go to bit.ly/ReefChat and we encourage those already on the subscription list to forward it to their contacts to encourage more people to discover what is happening each month on the Reef.

"The Great Barrier Reef is the number one drawcard for Tropical North Queensland and our operators are passionate about sharing this World Heritage area with the world.

"An extraordinary number of people from school children to scientists are doing their bit for the Great Barrier Reef both on the land and in the water and their stories are an inspiration for people who care about the Reef.

"We want to keep the conversation about the Great Barrier Reef going and encourage people around the world to be knowledgeable advocates for this beautiful and diverse ecosystem."

Image taken by Darren Miller aboard Divers Den's ReefQuest on December 9 at Saxon Reef.

Witness the coral spawning with marine biologists and film makers Stuart Ireland, Gareth Phillips, Pablo Cogollos and Paul Waghorn at Moore Reef beside the Sunlover Cruises pontoon: https://vimeo.com/stuartireland/coralspawning2017



Thursday, November 16, 2017

NSW Blue Mountains Roaring 20s Festival: Majestic art deco weekend


The Hydro Majestic Hotel will revive its most mischievous traditions and host the ultimate day-long vintage revelry on Saturday, February 24.                          

The Roaring 20s Festival celebrations will high kick off with a community Charleston for Charity dance in front of the Majestic Pavilion at 11am.

The naughty knees-up will be an opportunity for art deco buffs to don their most sophisticated 1920s-inspired costumes befitting the elegant venue (eg: feather boas, spats, fedora hats).

There will be prizes galore for best dressed lady, man, couples and hats. Cost: gold coin donation towards Blue Mountains Rural Fire Service.

The Charleston for Charity will be followed by a decadent regional food and wine showcase of shared plates featuring the culinary skills of Hydro Majestic head chef Mate Herceg and his team as well as other exceptional local producers.

A fashion parade of exquisite 1920s clothing will add an extra course to the long lunch menu. Cost: $95pp.

Sumptuous high tea will be available in the Wintergarden Restaurant overlooking the Megalong Valley throughout the day, along with history tours of the world-famous hotel.

That evening, the grandest of the grand Blue Mountains hotels will again resound with the likes of Al Capone, Dutch Schultz and Bugsy Siegel when the Hydro Majestic holds a Gangster Casino Night in support of Katoomba Hospital.

Guests can play all the traditional games at casino-quality tables with professionally trained casino standard croupiers.

There will be an array of prizes, and money raised at the 18 years plus-restricted event will go towards refurbishing the waiting room in the local Katoomba Hospital emergency department. Cost: $55 per person general admission to Casino includes welcome cocktail.

Visitors are encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the Roaring 20s Festival by staying for at least one night at the Hydro Majestic Hotel or one of its nearby sister properties Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, Echoes Boutique Hotel or Lilianfels Resort & Spa.

Go to www.hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 to book any/all of the Roaring 20s Festival events, accommodation and dining.

Virus-free. www.avg.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tourism Fiji Global Social Media Manager


Tourism Fiji continues to strengthen its consumer marketing capabilities with the appointment of home-grown digital marketing specialist Rush Pathak as Global Social Media Manager. In the new role Mr Pathak will lead the social media strategy for the destination.

With over a decade of experience in digital marketing and social media, Pathak will play a key role in building Tourism Fiji's digital marketing capabilities.

Matt Stoeckel, Tourism Fiji CEO welcomes Rush on-board and commented: "We continue to expand as an organisation and build our in-house capabilities. Rush is another high-calibre appointment to our consumer marketing team whose skills and experience, alongside his passion for the destination, will help to ensure Tourism Fiji remains an industry leader in destination marketing.

Born in Suva, and having spent time working across the media, tourism and public sector landscapes in both Australia and New Zealand, Rush is looking forward to spearheading the organisations social media activities.

"The organisation is going through a digital transformation by further developing their customer, data and digital focus. Something I am looking forward to being a part of." Mr Pathak said.

"Search, social and mobile play an important role when consumers begin their decision-making journey and I look forward to taking a customer-focused, data-driven approach to building our capabilities and relevance from consideration phases, to long after visitors have left," Mr Pathak continued.

Rush will initially work out of Tourism Fiji's Sydney office before relocating to the tourism board's headquarters in Nadi, where he will be based full time.

Mr Pathak feels now is a great time to venture back home to spend time with family and to collaborate with industry and partners to help support a broader Tourism Government agenda.

Tourism Fiji have continued to enhance their global and regional teams with a number of recent appointments, bringing a range of talent in-house to push the brand into the forefront of consumer minds.

For more information on Tourism Fiji, visit www.fiji.travel

 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Accor to buy Mantra



AccorHotels signs an agreement to acquire Mantra Group Limited

AccorHotels today announced the signature of an agreement with Mantra Group Limited with the view to acquire all of the issued capital in Mantra by way of a scheme of arrangement to be approved by Mantra shareholders. Under the terms of the agreement AccorHotels would offer AUD3.96 in cash for each Mantra share including any potential special dividend.

Mantra's newest property is a former office tower in Canberra transformed into a 176-room hotel as part of the city’s vibrant urban renewal program.

S├ębastien Bazin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AccorHotels said, “We are delighted to have come to an agreement to acquire the Mantra Group. This operation will underpin our long-term growth in the Asia Pacific region. Mantra’s portfolio would offer AccorHotels additional accommodation formats and a strong customer base to complement our successful hotel portfolio in Australia. We are confident that the transaction terms are attractive for shareholders of both groups”.

Chairman of Mantra, Peter Bush, said, “The AccorHotels offer represents an attractive proposition for Mantra and for our shareholders and the Board unanimously recommends AccorHotels’ proposal. AccorHotels is one of the world’s leading hotel operators and we trust that our business will be in good hands. Mantra’s strong expertise in apartments, in particular, and our presence in resort locations are very complementary to the AccorHotels operations in Australia and New Zealand. The combined business will be an important part of Australia’s strong and growing tourism market and its customers will benefit from the market leading expertise of both groups”.

Mantra is one of Australia’s largest hotel and resort marketers and operators with 127 properties and over 20,000 rooms in hotels, resorts and serviced apartments across Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Hawaii.

Properties in Mantra’s portfolio range from luxury accommodations and coastal resorts to serviced apartments in city and key leisure destinations, under three key brands: Peppers (28 properties), Mantra (75 properties) and BreakFree (24 properties). Mantra also manages core accommodation services including guest relations and reception areas, restaurants and bars, conference and function centres, pool and entertainment facilities and offices. Mantra has more than 5,500 employees.

AccorHotels and Mantra’s combined geographic footprint, together with enhanced distribution and systems, would form a favourable base from which AccorHotels can expand further in the region. Mantra’s expertise in apartment management, in particular, will offer a new opportunity for growth.

The Offer Price represents:

- A 23% premium to the last close price of AUD3.23 as at 6 October, 2017

- An implied EV / 2018e EBITDA (including transaction costs) multiple of 12.4x pre-synergies and high single-digit post-synergies.

The acquisition will be accretive to earnings per share in the first year of ownership pre-synergies. AccorHotels will pay AUD1.3 billion, equivalent to €0.9billion [1].

Besides, AccorHotels confirms it is in discussion with potential investors in relation to the sale of part of the Share Capital of AccorInvest. The Group aims at signing an agreement before year-end 2017. At this stage, the Group has no certainty to reach an agreement.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, including from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board, the Federal Court of Australia and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, as well as the approval of Mantra shareholders and other customary conditions. It is anticipated that subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals, the transaction should be completed by the end of the first quarter 2018.


[1] Assumes AUD1.49/€ as exchange rate

Hotel Career Expo 2018 Launches in Sydney



Minister for Tourism and Major Events, and Assistant Minister for Skills Adam Marshall joined representatives of Sydney’s top accommodation hotels in Sydney last night to officially launch Hotel Career Expo 2018.

The Career Expo - backed by Australia’s peak accommodation body Tourism Accommodation Australia – will be a major drawcard in the effort to attract the next generation of skilled young professionals to the tourism industry.

Minister Marshall told the crowd of more than 120 industry leaders the Expo was the perfect chance to showcase the wonderful career opportunities available for young people in the tourism and accommodation sectors.



“It’s great to see the industry working together in such a positive way to both fulfil a gap in the workforce, while at the same time allowing young people to see first-hand the great careers on offer right across the sector,” Mr Marshall said.

“The NSW Government is committed to growing the NSW visitor economy to ensure we remain the number one State for tourism and major events in Australia. This means the creation of more jobs across the industry and more opportunities for future generations of tourism industry professionals.”

TAA NSW chair Peter Tudehope said the Hotel Expo – which will build on the success of the previous event in 2016 – was the perfect example of the industry working together to make a difference.

“This is about filling a real need for skills across a number of disciplines in the tourism and accommodation sector,” he said.

“And it is also about showcasing the great opportunities available in this vibrant and growing industry to a new generation of young people and letting them know about the exciting employment opportunities we have to offer.”

TAA CEO Carol Giuseppi said the launch followed the success of last month’s Hotel Live Experience, which saw more than 550 young people given the chance for an immersive career experience across more than 25 top hotels.

“We had an overwhelming response to the Hotel Live Experience, which saw hundreds of students see first-hand a range of career options from events and marketing through engineering to HR, food and beverage,” she said.

“This was a unique opportunity for students to work one-on-one directly with experts in the industry who could actually be their employers in coming years.

“Our message to young people today is a simple one – our hotels offer great advancement for an exciting career across a range of fields, and the Hotel Expo in May is the perfect chance to see just what the industry has to offer.”

*The Hotel Career Expo 2018 will be held at the Sofitel Wentworth, Sydney on 7 May 2018.

For more information, visit: www.hotelcareerexpo.com.au


Targa Great Barrier Reef to rally for Tropical North Queensland


Tropical North Queensland will host a new major tourism event for the next three years with the launch of Targa Great Barrier Reef, a three-day car rally that will see the field of around 200 cars visit all key regions, including Port Douglas, Innisfail and the Atherton Tablelands.

The new event, to be based in Cairns from 31 August to 2 September next year, is modelled on the world's largest tarmac rally, Targa Tasmania, which has been held annually on the Apple Isle since making its debut in 1992.

Targa Great Barrier Reef will be a round of the four event CAMS Australian Targa Championship, which also includes Targa North West, Targa Tasmania, and Targa High Country in Victoria.

The extension of the series into Queensland was made possible through a three-year funding deal by Tourism & Events Queensland and Cairns Regional Council with series organiser, Targa Australia.

The two hundred cars expected to take part in the 2018 event will represent a cavalcade of motoring history from pre-war classics right through to the latest exotic supercars.

The cars will tackle 15 stages across more than 200 competitive kilometres on a course that covers more than 800 kilometres across Tropical North Queensland.

The event will start and finish each day in Cairns, with a Super Street Stage on the Saturday night bringing the action right into the heart of the city. Cairns will also host Targafest, where the cars are on display for fans to see close up, while regional towns will host a lunch stop each day which will see various local charities supported.

Underlining the scale of the event is the fact that more than 500 local officials and various community groups will be involved in its successful running.

Targa Australia Director, Mark Perry, is excited with the expansion of the championship.

"The secret to the long-term success of Targa Tasmania is that it is a tourism destination event built around a passion for the motor vehicle," Perry said.

"It attracts people and their cars from right around Australia, and overseas. It's a format that sees the event travel to the fans, stopping at a number of towns along the way, meaning it's not just one town or one city that is the winner and our `stadium' covers thousands of square kilometres of iconic landscapes that will showcase the region to the world.

"Targa is renowned for showcasing and bringing awareness to many of Australia's iconic and important World Heritage Areas through its TV Specials, broadcast around the world, and will continue to do so with Targa Great Barrier Reef in highlighting the beauty and importance of preserving the Tropical North Queensland region."

"Targa Tasmania attracts some beautiful cars from across the eras, and I'm sure many of those competitors will be drawn to this new event and others will enter now they have an event closer to home, along with also tapping into the lucrative Asian market due to the ease of travelling to Cairns."

"Being part of a national championship will ensure all the top cars and factory teams are present, and they boast some incredible automotive pedigree and some absolutely awesome drivers."

Queensland Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones said she couldn't wait to see Targa kick off in North Queensland. "With the backdrop of the Great Barrier Reef, this race will be an attractive proposition to Targa teams around the world," she said.

"To have such an iconic sporting experience so close to one of Queensland's most important natural assets will create a wonderful experience for teams and racegoers.

"Events like this deliver a valuable boost to the Tropical North Queensland economy – helping to attract visitors and support local jobs.

"I look forward to Targa becoming a permanent fixture on Queensland's It's Live! Event Calendar."

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said Targa was an ideal fit for the region's ever-growing sports event calendar.

"Targa Great Barrier Reef will not only be great for Cairns, but fantastic for our region," Cr Manning said.

"Major events play an important role in promoting our destination, driving visitation, supporting jobs and fostering community pride.

"This is an iconic car race which will be set against an iconic backdrop – it is the perfection combination. We have a reputation of facilitating world-class events, and this will be no different."

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Pip Close said Targa Great Barrier Reef would showcase Cairns, Port Douglas, the Atherton Tablelands and the Cassowary Coast to a new audience around the world.

"We are seeing increasing numbers of Asian competitors at events like Ironman Asia-Pacific and the Great Barrier Reef Marathon and this event will further appeal to these markets," she said.

"With new flights from China in December added to our direct connections from Singapore and Japan we have the opportunity to further grow Tropical North Queensland as an international sports event destination."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New Podilato Restaurant at Mantra MacArthur Hotel takes diners on a ride through the Mediterranean




Canberra’s craving for modern Mediterranean cuisine has been met with the opening of Podilato at the new Mantra MacArthur Hotel.

Podilato (which means bicycle in Greek) is the sister restaurant of the popular Bicicletta Italian restaurant at Peppers Gallery Hotel in Canberra.

Like Bicicletta, the restaurant offers a traditional-meets-modern-fusion in its menu.

Podilato Head Chef Sean Mawbey is well known for using fresh ingredients and uncomplicated cooking styles to temper the richness of tradition with the delicacy of modern gastronomy in some inspirational variations on classic Mediterranean dishes.

He has created a menu of Greek, Spanish and Italian cuisines that highlights the freshest seasonal ingredients with a great selection of tapas and dishes designed for sharing.

Featuring Hellenic favourites off the grill, accompanied by both Mediterranean and local wines, Podilato is a welcome addition to the list of Canberra’s best restaurants.

“My cooking philosophy is to accentuate the natural flavours and characteristics of the food, and to put a modern-Australian twist on traditional dishes,” said Sean.

“When preparing Mediterranean cuisine, I’m particularly fond of seafood but I also like to slow-cook food; it takes time and patience, but it reflects the Mediterranean way of life and is definitely worth the wait.”

Tapas dishes include dips, antipasto, paella balls, beetroot carpaccio, mini gyros, Persian lamb kofta, pork belly and crackle and main dishes include pollo alla diavola (grilled crispy flattened chicken with a chilli and lemon vinaigrette), ragu di agnello (braised lamb shoulder pasta), pumpkin and sage risotto, and more.

For groups (minimum two) there are also two banquet options - $45 per person for six plates or $55 per person for eight plates.

Podilato is open daily for breakfast from 6.30-10am on weekdays and 7-11am on weekends, offers a weekday deli option from 6.30am-3pm, a tapas menu (Monday to Saturday) from 3-10pm and dinner from 6-9.30pm (Monday to Saturday). For bookings, call 02 6112 9292.

The restaurant is located at the new Mantra MacArthur Hotel at 219 Northbourne Avenue, Turner ACT. A balcony also offers outdoor dining.

Mantra MacArthur Hotel offers a range of stylish and contemporary studio rooms as well as one and two bedroom suites.There is an opening special from $129* per night in a Studio Room including 1GB Wi-Fi daily, drink voucher on arrival and 12pm late check-out. To book, visit MantraHotels.com or call 1300 987 603.

*Conditions apply, subject to availability. Valid for sale and travel until 31 January, 2018.

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