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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Emirates adds fourth daily A380 service to Bangkok

Two-Class service between Dubai and Bangkok to commence from 1 December 2015



July 2015: Emirates, a global connector of people, places and economies has announced its fourth daily A380 service between Dubai and Bangkok with the up-gauge of its current services from 1 December.

The new two-class A380 service will operate daily as flight EK376 from Dubai to Bangkok and EK377 from Bangkok to Dubai. The up-gauge from its current Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will see an increase in capacity of 255 seats per flight and 3,570 seats per week to and from the Thai capital city.

Barry Brown, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations East, said: “Thailand is an important market for Emirates, and the A380 has been extremely popular with travellers since we first started the double-decker aircraft service to Thailand in 2009. The addition of this two-class A380 passenger service will give even more travellers the chance to experience this revolutionary aircraft first hand.

“For business and leisure travellers, the Dubai-Bangkok route is a popular choice and this additional A380 service will be instrumental in helping us meet growing passenger demand, as well as deliver substantial economic benefits through travel connections and inbound seats.”

Emirates’ two-class A380 is capable of carrying 615 passengers across its business and economy cabins – accommodating 58 lie-flat seats in Business Class and 557 seats in Economy Class.

Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the spacious A380 aircraft, with 64 in the fleet and 76 on order. An industry benchmark for onboard innovation and comforts, Emirates’ A380s serve 34 global destinations of which 11 are in the Far East: Auckland, Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Perth, Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai and Sydney.

EK376 will depart Dubai at 0330hrs and arrive at Suvarnabhumi International Airport at 1235hrs the same day. This flight connects seamlessly with European and African destinations, and is especially popular with northern European travellers from the UK and Scandinavia heading to Thailand’s capital city.

The return flight, EK377, a popular flight for residents of countries in the Gulf, will depart Bangkok at 1600hrs, offering a convenient departure time that suits hotel check-out times, and arrives in Dubai the same day at 1955hrs, a flying time of 6 hours and 55 minutes.


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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Partners Fly Free to the Kimberley in 2016 With Aurora Expeditions


It's time to discover Australia's Kimberley Coast with Aurora Expeditions newly released 2016 Partners Fly Free package deal. Simply book Aurora Expeditions' 'Kimberley Coast Package' before 30 September 2015 and your travel partner will fly free to the Kimberley from any Australian capital city – a saving of up to $890 per couple.
The 15-day package features Aurora Expeditions' 11-day Kimberley Coast voyage between Broome and Darwin aboard 44-passenger Coral Expeditions I, plus return airfares from your nearest Australian capital city, two nights' accommodation and sightseeing tour in both Broome and Darwin, as well as airport and port transfers.
This package deal is valid for a limited time across all three of Aurora Expeditions' 2016 Kimberley Coast cruises departing during May and June 2016; the best time to see the Kimberley's lush waterfalls in all their glory and the arrival time for mating and calving humpback whales.
Each Kimberley Coast expedition is led by Aurora Expeditions' long-standing expedition leader, Mike Cusack, the co-author of Our Year in the Wildness, the inspirational account of 12-months living off the land in a drought-stricken West Kimberley, with his wife, Susan. Mike shares his remarkable story and offers adventurous cruisers the exclusive opportunity to join him on a 10-kilometre trek to the old Kunmunya Mission, where he and Susan spent their challenging year in the wilderness.
Each expedition includes daily shore landings via a specially-designed landing craft, the Explorer, which delivers passengers directly from the ship's deck to shore. Each day expect to explore a new landing site, such as the Wandjina and Gwion Gwion rock paintings on Bigge Island, the marine life of Montgomery Reef, or a thrilling Zodiac ride through the Horizontal Waterfalls.
Also on offer in 2016 is a special art program led by Australian artist and author, Alasdair McGregor. Budding artists will have the chance to bring their pens and pencils to create their own Kimberley masterpiece. 
Aurora Expeditions' team of experts, including naturalist and Kimberley specialists, will interpret your surroundings as you land ashore and through lively talks on board, whilst the on board crew will wine and dine you each evening as you sit back, relax, and enjoy the Kimberley landscape from the ship's deck and lounge.
Aurora Expeditions 'Kimberley Coast Package' starts in Broome on 21 May and 11 June 2016 or in Darwin on 1 June 2016. Price (pp, twin share) starts from $9,440 for the first person, the partner price starting at $8,605. Terms and conditions apply.
For more information contact Aurora Expeditions on 1300 061 490 or visitwww.auroraexpeditions.com.au.

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2015 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week Sails Onto Social Calendar


The tranquil waters of The Great Barrier Reef will soon be abuzz with sailors, food lovers and connoisseurs, fashionistas, business leaders and more when Audi Hamilton Island Race Week hits the shores from August 15 to 22, 2015.  The picturesque back drop of Hamilton Island will again make the ideal setting to celebrate and bring to life the vibrant diversity of the annual Whitsunday series, now in its 32nd year, with fine cuisine, fashion and sailing.
The iconic event is celebrating a 10 year partnership with Germany luxury car maker, Audi Australia.  National sailing legends, personalities, VIP's and cultured travellers wishing to tick off a bucket list moment will be offered a first-class experience and prime location to view one of the nation's preeminent regattas. A diverse fleet from around the country including big name contenders Wild Oats X, Ichi Ban and Sydney Hobart overall winner Wild Rose, are set to gather for the six day showdown open to cruising and sports boats, cruising and racing multihulls, trailer-sailers and grand prix racers.
This year the 2015 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week kicks off with an impressive line-up of on-shore events and activities from general admission, ticketed and invite only, including the Piper Heidsieck champagne lunch, Paspaley Luncheon featuring the exclusive launch of the Nautique by Paspaley collection, Louis Vuitton Art of Packing workshop and Audi Ambassador Collette Dinnigan will reveal elements of her much-anticipated exhibition, 'Collette Dinnigan – Unlaced'.  NET-A-PORTER.COM, the world's premier online luxury fashion retailer, returns for the second consecutive year hosting a cocktail reception during the opening weekend, followed by a private Style Suite hosted by the brand's personal shopping team who will be showcasing an exclusive edit of new season collections from the world's leading designers.
“Audi Hamilton Island Race Week caters for family-crewed boats through to the Corinthian and semi-professional teams vying for the prestigious 'Australian IRC National championship - Hamilton Island' that will run in conjunction with Race Week,” said Hamilton Island CEO Glenn Bourke, a multiple world champion sailor.
“The island and our title partner Audi Australia expect to host a diverse mix of close to 2,000 sailors and their family and friends from every Australian state and territory, and yachties flying in from overseas to compete in the regatta. With the event these days much broader than a sailing regatta, the shoreside program is action-packed and as fun as the on-water competition!” continued Mr Bourke.
“Audi Hamilton Island Race Week is a truly unique race meet, in one of the most beautiful locations in Australia. This year we're excited to bring up Audi ambassadors and iconic Australian chefs Guillaume Brahimi, Kylie Kwong and Shannon Bennett to delight guests with unique, new gastronomic experiences, as well as to allow Race Week guests to preview Collette Dinnigan's upcoming 'Unlaced' retrospective,” says Andrew Doyle, Managing Director, Audi Australia.
The full schedule of 2015 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week activities can be viewed at hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au.

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Park Regis North Quay EKKA Special


Park Regis North Quay in Brisbane has launched a new EKKA show travel deal with three different options to choose from.
SAVE up to 30 per cent and enjoy Brisbane's largest cultural festival, the EKKA Show, when you stay in a One Bedroom City View Apartment at Park Regis North Quay. Enjoy breakfast each day, complimentary WI-FI and bottled water with prices starting at $159 per night, $645 for five nights or $900 for seven nights.
Plus, choose one bonus offer when you stay for 5 nights or longer:
  • Complimentary upgrade to Riverview Apartment
  • Discounted car parking
  • One Dinner for two in On Quay Restaurant
  • Bowl of Whole Fruit and Bottle of Wine
  • Three course set dinner
Quote 'EKKA' when booking to secure this hot deal. Book: (07) 3013 7200http://www.parkregisnorthquay.com.au/
Term and Conditions apply. Valid from 08/08/2015 - 18/08/2015, payment at time of booking, pricing is for up to two people, surcharge for additional person, complimentary Wi-Fi download limit of 250 MB per day.

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Be Shellfish! Treat Yourself to the Hervey Bay Seafood Festival


The Fraser Coast brings another exciting event to the table in August with the annual Hervey Bay Seafood Festival offering something for all tastes.
Hosted by the local fishermen who catch Hervey Bay's famous seafood, the August 9 festival will serve up fresh and delicious wild-caught ocean produce, loads of entertainment, competitions, cooking and catching tips and even an exclusive pop-up seafood and wine restaurant.
Hervey Bay seafood is known around Australia and the world for its freshness and flavour. Hervey Bay scallops, in particular, are prized by seafood connoisseurs world-wide for their superior appearance, texture and taste. 
Festival-goers can savour the region's signature shellfish and other tasty treats such as  blue salmon bruschetta, Mary River barramundi burgers, steamed king prawn buns, Verdelho and scallop pie, grilled fish wraps, seared cuttlefish with Greek salad, delicious desserts and so much more from the wide range of stalls spread across the festival venue, Fishermen's Park.
Hosted by respected Queensland chef Andrew Mirosch, the sit-down Tastes of the Bay long lunch event is a mouth-watering five-course showcase of local wild caught seafood matched with award-winning Sirromet wines. 
Other leading South East Queensland chefs including Citi Chef of the Year Josue Lopez and Javier Codina from Moda Restaurant Brisbane will share their culinary expertise while forums on everything from filleting to prawn peeling and scallop shucking will satisfy the keenest fishos.
Councillor for Events, Sport, Recreation and Open Spaces, Darren Everard, said the Hervey Bay Seafood Festival will be a wonderful celebration of the region's famous seafood hosted by the men and women who catch it.
“Excitement is building for what promises to be another sensational seafood festival and the only one of its kind in Australia managed by the local fishing industry,'' Cr Everard said.
“As well as showcasing our renowned fresh, wild-caught seafood, the festival also promotes responsible and sustainable fishing practices so our precious ocean resources can be enjoyed by generations to come,'' he said.
The Hervey Bay Seafood Festival is on August 9 from 10am to 4pm at Fishermen's Park, Urangan Boat Harbour, Hervey Bay. Admission is $5 for adults and free for under 18s.
Visit herveybayseafoodfestival.com.au. 
Getting there: The Fraser Coast is just three hours' drive north of Brisbane along the Bruce Highway. Both QantasLink (Brisbane) and Virgin Australia (Sydney) offer direct flights to Hervey Bay on a daily basis. Queensland Rail also offers travel to the Fraser Coast.
Staying there: A wide variety of accommodation choices appealing to all tastes and budgets is available at visitfrasercoast.com.

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Your Margaret River Region Tops Delicious Produce Awards List

The Margaret River Region in Western Australia has been lauded as Australia's top food and wine destination, taking out the 'Outstanding Region in Australia' category in the 2015 delicious. Produce Awards.
Your Margaret River Region Chief Executive Officer Pip Close was delighted to accept the accolade on behalf of the region in front of a packed house at the awards evening, which was held at the prestigious Bennelong Restaurant at the Sydney Opera House on Monday night.
Although known predominantly for its world-class wine, the Margaret River Region is fast growing a reputation as one of Australia's hottest foodie destinations, with a focus on fresh, local produce and a down to earth, 'farm-to-fork' mentality which is widely embraced by local chefs and producers.
Now in their tenth year, the delicious. Produce Awards highlight independent producers from over 3,000 entries, thanks to the dedication of readers who nominate their local heroes, and the insight of its panel of renowned national chef judges including Maggie Beer, Matt Moran and Guillaume Brahimi.
The Outstanding Region in Australia is awarded each year to a destination that offers an outstanding and holistic Australian food and wine experience, with something on offer for everyone, whatever their budget.
According to the delicious. team, the judges felt that the Margaret River Region had worked successfully to combine, showcase and make accessible authentic experiences that appealed to a wide group of people.
The delicious. team affirmed that "with an amazing Farmers' Market, award-winning produce, food and wine experiences from the casual through to fine-dining, world-class accommodation and an internationally renowned annual food festival, the Margaret River Region was a deserving winner this year."
Ms Close was thrilled that the region's exceptional food and wine offering had been formally acknowledged by the delicious. Produce Awards.
“We are ecstatic to be named as Australia's most Outstanding Region – delicious. is an extremely well respected foodie publication. The Margaret River Region really is home to some of this country's most outstanding food and wine experiences so it's wonderful to see the region officially celebrated in this way,” said Ms Close.
“With tickets for the Margaret River Gourmet Escape going on sale today, this announcement is extremely timely.  Gourmet Escape is attracting phenomenal international attention; Marco Pierre White is coming for the first time this year, as apparently he has heard great things about the event from other celebrity chefs and is curious to see what our region has to offer,” she said.
Award-winning food journalist, restaurant critic and television personality Matt Preston, who is also a senior editor for delicious. and Taste magazine, endorsed the Margaret River Region's star status.
“It's a great culinary region that has that elusive combination of great local produce, great cooks, great restaurants and cafes, and great wines. 
Few pull off this quadrella with such stellar aplomb as Margaret River,” said Mr Preston.
Ms Close affirmed the region's diversity of tourism offerings was its point of difference to other wine regions in Australia.
“The most exciting thing about Your Margaret River Region, and what has been central to our recent rebrand,  is the fact that the region not only has exceptional food and wine experiences but also a huge range of other experiences for visitors – world class surf, spectacular limestone caves, mountain biking, hiking trails, whale watching - the list goes on," said Ms Close.
Ms Close congratulated Margaret River's Burnside Organic Farm who were medallists in the 'From the Earth - Primary' category, as well as a number of other local producers from the region who were finalists in the awards: Greenman Produce for both its pickled garlic and its honey, Leeuwin Grass Fed Beef, and the Farmhouse Margaret River for its Arkady lamb.
For the full list of winners head to delicious.com.au.
For more information on Your Margaret River Region, visit margaretriver.com

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

NOMA AUSTRALIA: World-Renowned Restaurant Announces Ten-Week Residency at Barangaroo, Sydney





One of the world's best restaurants, Noma, today announced it will relocate to Sydney for ten weeks from January 2016, to share the best of Australian produce as seen through the eyes of head chef, René Redzepi, and his team.

Noma will temporarily close in Copenhagen, Denmark to open its new waterfront home at Barangaroo on Sydney Harbour, as part of an exciting collaboration with Tourism Australia and Lendlease.

“I have always been attracted to the incredible diversity you find in Australia's landscapes and ingredients, because they are like no other place I've seen before,” said Redzepi. “Australia combines strong influences from its Indigenous people with new communities from around the world. When you mix it all together, the result is something truly inspiring. It really is the perfect place to come and learn.”

The Noma team will find the best of Australia's produce to design an original menu, focusing on producers who have a respectful and passionate engagement with the sea and the land.

“We look forward to the new year and this new exploration. It will be a different journey, but one that I am incredibly excited about – the opportunity to broaden our horizons, to expand our minds and our tastes, to make new friends, and catch-up with old ones, as we delve into this magnificent landscape,” Redzepi added.

Tourism Australia Managing Director John O'Sullivan said that Noma Australia was a natural extension of its already successful Restaurant Australia campaign.

“A big part of Restaurant Australia has been about improving Australia's perception as a food and wine destination. And, with one of the world's top ranked restaurants about to open in Sydney, I'd say our country's culinary standing has never been higher,” he said.

Gary Horwitz, Head of Retail at Lendlease said the partnership is testament to the vision that is being created for the waterfront dining precinct at Barangaroo: “When Lendlease was approached by the Noma team, we knew it was the perfect fit; René's strong affinity to sustainability is aligned with our aspirations for Barangaroo. We are delighted to partner with Noma and Tourism Australia to celebrate the best of Australian produce and enhance Barangaroo's position on the global food map.”

Noma Australia will be located in the acclaimed Anadara building at the Barangaroo precinct, which is set to become Australia's landmark future food and beverage destination. The location was selected for its synergy to Noma in Copenhagen, which is also on the water and strongly connected to the sea.

As a vital part of Noma's research in the lead up to the restaurant opening, René and his team have already embarked on several Australia-wide visits to meet with producers, local communities, farmers and chefs, and explore the diverse landscape and multi-faceted culture of the country. Tourism Australia is supporting these important research trips, and providing assistance with travel and marketing.

Noma Australia will launch in January 2016 and will open for lunch and dinner five days per week.

Bookings for the restaurant will open later this year. Further details about registering interest and bookings can be found at www.noma.dk/australia




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Full Steam Ahead for Railbookers


Niche operator Railbookers has seen substantial growth in enquiries and sales for those discerning travellers seeking something more than the off the shelf travel package. The vast boost in sales over the past two months has seen the company expanding across Australia, New Zealand and Asia as it leads the way in tailor made journeys by rail worldwide.
Contactable 7 days a week, Railbookers offers the complete customised rail solution covering all time zones, providing the ultimate service.
“With the complexity and intricacy required to create bespoke rail journeys around the world, our knowledgeable team are here to suggest a vast range of rail products, accommodation of all standards and tailored sightseeing experiences quite often not available by other operators” says Managing Director Kevin Tasker.
Railbookers provides a seamless service to both the consumer and retail agents as a one stop shop ensuring guests and agents lives are stress free while the experts look after travellers unique requirements.

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Spiceroads to Donate US$250 with Every Nepal Tour Booking


SpiceRoads Cycle Tours is encouraging riders to visit Nepal this coming season by offering to donate US$250 for every rider booked on a Nepal tour from now until the end of March 2016. Many of the popular tourist areas have managed to escape the brunt of the earthquake and local tour leaders are now ready and eager to get back to work.
“Tourism is Nepal's lifeblood and it is important we support Nepal more than ever. Every person who visits Nepal this coming season will be directly contributing to rebuilding the country,” says Struan Robertson, CEO SpiceRoads Cycle Tours.
Which tour to choose?
Mountain Bike Kathmandu to Pokhara
The ultimate mountain biking experience along the Himalayas enjoying glorious views of Langtang and Annapurna ranges with glimpses of the highest mountain in the world - Mt. Everest.
Tour cost: US$1,895 (US$1,950 after October 1, 2015)
Days: 11 days (9 days of cycling)
Distance: 347 kms
Scheduled departures: 
2015: September 13, October 11, November 22
2016: February 14, March 6
Wonders of Southern Nepal
A leisurely ride amongst the soaring peaks of Nepal, from the Kathmandu Valley to the diversity of Chitwan National Park and then to the lakes of Pokhara, enjoying spectacular mountain views along the way.
Tour cost: US$2,400
Days: 11 days (3 full, 4 half days of riding)
Distance: 310 kms
Scheduled departures: 
2015: November 22, December 20
2016: March 20, April 10
Are the routes still ok?
Both tours ride through areas hit by the earthquake, however, the Wonders of Southern Nepal tour ventures through regions only slightly affected, but on both tours you will be amazed at how positive the gentle Nepalese are and the progress which has already been made to rebuilt the country.
Where will the funds raised go?
All funds raised will be contributed to WeHelpNepal. This organisation is not a traditional relief organisation but a network of people from various industries who have lived or are currently living in Nepal. Their expertise comes from their awareness of the Nepalese society and political landscape and have connections with local organisations which are beneath the international radar. We have chosen to support this organisation as it is locally led, they build at the community level and support long-term resilience and autonomy.
WeHelpNepal projects include:
  • Delivering 6 tons of food and solar lighting to Sindupalchowk district. An area which was over looked by both government and aid organisations.
  • Supplying tin roofing materials for forest user groups in Nuwakot
  • Rebuilding bamboo homes and schools
  • Setting up a community kitchen in Kathmandu and Gorkha to feed earthquake victims

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Complete Artistic Immersion With the New QT Sydney “Art Attack” Package


To celebrate their position as the official hotel partner for Sydney Contemporary, QT Sydney have launched the ultimate accommodation package for art aficionados. The “Art Attack” package will immerse guests in the creative surrounds of QT Sydney as well as the diverse offerings of Sydney Contemporary.
Sydney Contemporary, Australasia's largest international art fair returns in 2015 from 10-13 September. Housed in Carriageworks, the Fair offers visitors' access to cutting-edge art from some of the world's most respected and established artists as well as the opportunity to discover exciting new talent. Featuring an array of ticketed and public events, travellers will always have something exciting on throughout their stay.
As Sydney's only 5 star design hotel, QT Sydney wants to make sure that all travellers attending Sydney Contemporary can do so in premium style and comfort.
Starting from $330 per night* and running from 10 September until the conclusion of Sydney Contemporary on 13 September, the “Art Attack” package includes:
  • Accommodation in a QT King Deluxe room (minimum 2 nights)
  • Breakfast daily for two at award-winning Gowings Bar & Grill
  • General entry tickets for two to Sydney Contemporary
  • Complimentary Sydney Contemporary Art Map
Art enthusiasts should look no further than QT Sydney for a place to base themselves for this Sydney Contemporary season.
*minimum two night stay
For more information or to book a visit to one of QT Hotels & Resorts, visit www.qthotels.com.au.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Viet Nam Prepares For Dynamic Tourism Growth



Viet Nam’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister, the Honourable HE Hoàng Tuấn Anh,
speaks candidly about his country’s Tourism Master Plan 2020 and Vision 2030, the growing
driver markets of India and Russia and Viet Nam’s expectations from the ASEAN consolidation.


Your plans for 2015 include an aggressive focus on both India and Russia. Are these your perceived growth driver markets for the future?

With regard to India, it’s identified as one of Vietnam’s biggest potential markets which shall lead the high growth in the future. In 2015, Vietnam Tourism has run many promotional activities for this market such as organising an Indian FAM trip to Viet Nam, a Bollywood film shooting group, and participating in the GES Trade and Services Exhibition and International Travel Mart PATA in India.

About the Russian market, during the recent years the tourist arrivals from Russia have been gaining high growth, with 365 thousand belonging to the top ten biggest markets visiting Viet Nam in 2014. In the early six months of 2015, due to the Russian currency’s devaluation, Russian tourist arrivals to Vietnam decreased compared with the same period of 2014. However, we believe that this market will recover soon and still belongs to the top ten visitor markets to Viet Nam. In 2015, Viet Nam Tourism will continue to participate in the main international travel marts in Russia such as MITT and Intour Market, as well as organise FAM trips and press trips from Russia to Viet Nam for Vietnam tourism promotion.

The latest Skyscanner poll includes Da Nang City as one of the top low-cost destinations for 2015. What are you doing to facilitate this in terms of infrastructure and facilities?

Da Nang is emerging as one of the most attractive destinations in Viet Nam. The city has many policies of facilitating the infrastructure and facilities for tourism development related to investment attraction in Son Tra, Hai Van and Lang Van tourism complex; implementing high-end resort building projects; establishing the co-operation mechanism between the public and the private sector; identifying responsibilities among stakeholders; supporting an enterprises’ campaign of new tourism product development and diversifying tourism accommodation and services to meet all demands.

Viet Nam tourism’s brand ‘Viet Nam Timeless Charm’ was slated to be from 2012 till this year. What is your identified ‘Viet Nam brand’ which was one of the objectives of your 2017-2020 proposed action plan?

Building and implementing the strategy of branding Viet Nam tourism till 2020 is one of the most important missions, with the aim of strengthening the quality, effectiveness, professionalism and competitiveness for Viet Nam Tourism. In fact, Viet Nam tourism branding in the new situation is to ensure:

Firstly, identifying and affirming the core values of Viet Nam Tourism in relationship with defined characteristics and tourism products. Secondly, completing the National Master Plan of regions, routes and sites of tourism destination in the overall orientation for Viet Nam branding and product tourism development, as also calling for investment in outstanding new tourism products in local and main tourism regions. Thirdly, focusing on the branding tourism administration in orienting, supporting and supervising in order to ensure the unity of values and branding images in the promotional activities, while regularly evaluating the branding results for the better adjustments and amendments. Fourthly, pushing forward internal marketing activities in which all the related partners from the governmental organisations and industrial ministries to enterprises, communities and localities who play a role as holders of Viet Nam tourism destinations, must know well and together agree about Viet Nam branding values in order to contribute to Viet Nam’’s brand establishment, consolidation and promotion. Fifthly, upgrading the quality, diversifying the promotional activities and ensuring a united theme and message, but still having special creativity and amendment for each market as well as the focussed market segments. And lastly, supporting the enterprises in building their own brand and strengthening the cooperation between domestic and international entrepreneurs in order to promote their brands related to identified products.

What are your strategies regarding MICE?

MICE is one of Viet Nam’s priority tourism products to develop, as mentioned in the Vietnam Tourism Development Plan to 2020, and Vision to 2030, as well as Vietnam Tourism Marketing Strategy to 2020. In order to develop this product, all the big hotels are equipped with infrastructure and facilities for MICE service, especially in the main cities such as Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, while reinforcing marketing activities and cooperation with regional countries in attracting more MICE arrivals to Viet Nam.

Your competition analysis (Viet Nam Tourism Marketing Strategy) shows that international outbound tourism to the Mekong region is expected to intensify. What is your overall strategy on this?

Besides a particular tourism product development, in order to attract more tourists to Mekong region, Viet Nam has been enhancing the cooperation with the Mekong sub-regional countries in tourism product development and marketing activities, such as the plan for five Mekong sub-regional tourism cities and ACMECS, CLMV tourism development cooperation, organising and participating in the Mekong Tourism Forum annually, and strengthening e-marketing activities to promote Viet Nam tourism destinations in general and Mekong tourism in particular. In the frame of ASEAN tourism development cooperation especially, Viet Nam is assigned as the lead country for river-based tourism, focusing on researching and exploring the value of Mekong region with the close cooperation of UNWTO consultants in carrying out research analysis, with the aim of recommending the proper policies of developing river-based tourism in the Mekong region in particular, as well as marketing these river-based tourism products for all ASEAN countries in general.

What are the new tourism projects for Viet Nam?

Vietnam has been strengthening investment attraction into tourism development with a variety of projects related to infrastructures, facilities, human resources and sustainable tourism, with co-operation between the public and private sectors. Beside the on-going projects such as Mekong Sub-region Tourism Development Project funded by ADB Bank, the Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development Programme funded by the European Union for the time being, other concerned projects include: A green, smart city in Da Nang; the European Village and Coastal Luxury Resort Sun Villas, Dai Duong Park Complex in Quang Ninh and a building telpher from Sa Pa to Fansipan Peak in Lao Cai. All projects are strictly oriented to sustainability development and community benefits.

In 2013, Viet Nam approved the National Tourism Promotion Programme for the period 2013-2020 which included a sustainable tourism policy. What concrete steps have been taken to achieve this?

Sustainable tourism development has been both the viewpoint and the target identified in Viet Nam’s Tourism strategy. The National Tourism Promotion Programme for the period 2013-2020 is one of the strategic plans with the aim of reaching the targets of Viet Nam Tourism Master Plan 2020, and Vision 2030. Thus, all the missions in the Programme are carried out in the sustainable development orientation.

In the past, the Viet Namese government has concentrated on nationwide activities related to raising awareness on environmental conservation, both social and natural environment in tourism sites and maintaining the quality, friendliness and safety in all destinations, thus attracting more international tourist arrivals to Viet Nam.

It is great that Viet Nam recognises the current visa rules are hampering and restrictive and is taking action to redress this. Will more countries be added to the visa exemption list, following the recommendations from tourism officials?

The Viet Nam government has perceived the important role of visa policies in attracting more international tourists to Viet Nam. Until now, Viet Nam has implemented the unilateral visa exemption for 13 countries including: Russia, Belarus, Japan, Korea, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy and Spain and has implemented the lateral visa exemption for all ASEAN countries. It has also applied a visa exemption for international tourists to Phu Quoc Island for a period of 30 days. In the future, Viet Nam Tourism shall continue to recommend other countries to the government to be considered in the list of visa exemption countries.

What is Viet Nam’s expectation from the AEC in terms of tourism/visitor arrivals?

The ASEAN Economic Community is a big market with over 600-million population. To integrate within the AEC, Viet Nam wishes to attract more international tourists from these member states as well as those from third countries to ASEAN as a single destination.
Please elaborate Viet Nam Tourism Master Plan 2020, and Vision 2030. Are there any linkages with ASEAN as a single destination?

Viet Nam Tourism Master Plan 2020 and Vision 2030 was born with the aim of speeding up Viet Nam tourism in terms of quality and depth, to satisfy the current demand in professionalism, modernity, integration, effectiveness and sustainability that would be worth the country’s great potential as competition with the other countries in the region, and worldwide.

In order to reach the above target, Viet Nam has been actively co-operating with ASEAN member states in developing tourism products and marketing and promotion activities, especially for the whole ASEAN destination as a single destination. At present, the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism is co-operating with all the ASEAN countries in actively carrying out the initiative of the ‘Go ASEAN’ channel established by Malaysia. Besides, for Viet Nam Tourism’s participation in all domestic and international travel marts, we focus on branding both Vietnam Tourism’s logo and slogan, ‘Vietnam – Timeless Charm’ and the ASEAN Tourism’s logo and slogan, ‘ASEAN – Feel the Warmth.’

Will the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Agreement in Tourism Professionals help to ensure the distribution of wealth from tourism?

The ASEAN MRT-TP aims at professional standardisation as well as facilitating tourism labour force transference, creating new chances for the labour and upgrading service qualifications of the regional tourism entrepreneurs. Thus, we do believe that ASEAN (MRA-TP) will help to make the benefits from tourism equal for all.

Le Meridien Unlocks Free Play for Families on the Road With Global Partnership With the Lego Group®

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) today announced a global partnership between Le Méridien Hotels and the LEGO® Group to offer a complimentary Welcome Amenity to children checking-in to any of its more than 100 hotels and resorts worldwide. Just in time for the summer family travel season, children up to age 12 will be greeted with a complimentary LEGO toy to enjoy during their stay and take home as a keepsake from their travels. 

"Travel broadens a child's perspective of the world, expanding inherently curious and creative-minds,” said Brian Povinelli, Senior Vice President, Global Brand Leader for Le Méridien and Westin. “Our exclusive partnership with the LEGO Group encourages families to unlock their destination through imaginative free play, strengthening bonds and creating memories that are sure to last, and the LEGO amenity sets the tone for this upon arrival at our hotels.”

The LEGO Welcome Amenity is the first feature that will be offered in the brand wide, multi-faceted Le Méridien Family program, which will debut this fall. Le Méridien Family will focus on illuminating, immersive and inventive experiences for the entire family, to ignite imaginations on-property and unlock the local destination for both parents and children.

"At the LEGO Group, creativity and exploration are essential, and we recognized in Le Méridien a similar spirit and mentality,” said Soren Borup, Senior Product Manager for Merchandise & Promotions, the LEGO Group.  “We are pleased to partner with this global hotel brand to offer their exclusive Welcome Amenity for families, enabling more children across the world to get a hands-on LEGO building experience.”

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New Digital Platform 'Travel In' Launched to Promote Tourism to Regional NSW


A new digital platform set to inspire travellers to visit regional NSW was launched today in Broken Hill by Parliamentary Secretary Mr Jonathan O'Dea, who officially unveiled 'Travel In' on behalf of the NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Mr Stuart Ayres, in conjunction with Inland NSW and its project partner, Bauer Xcel Media.
“On behalf of the NSW Government, I am delighted to launch the Inland Digital Platform 'Travel In', an innovative tourism project aimed at growing overnight visitation and expenditure to the State's inland communities,” Mr O'Dea said.
“The funding for this project has been made available under the Regional Visitor Economy Fund (RVEF), administered by the State's tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.  
“Tourism to Regional NSW is vital in helping the NSW Government achieve its goal of doubling overnight visitor expenditure by 2020 and we look forward to welcoming those visitors to Regional NSW as a result of this new digital platform,” he said.
Inland NSW Chairman, Rodger Powell outlined the launch of the platform as a major new initiative that will drive increased visitation and benefit  not only the Inland region but  Regional NSW as a whole by providing travellers with the ability to build personalised itineraries, based on rich content and a powerful booking engine.
“We applaud the NSW Government on its continued commitment to grow the regional visitor economy and today's launch of 'Travel In' is a case in point,” said Mr Powell.
'Travel In' will provide not only essential destination information but also capture the essence of non-coastal regions of NSW, showcase their local characters and deliver credible content, according to Inland NSW CEO, Graham Perry.
“Through Destination NSW, the Government's investment to the digital platform has made it a reality. In partnership with Destination NSW and Bauer Xcel Media, Inland NSW has delivered the first stage of this game changing online asset for regional tourism,” Mr Perry said.
“Think 'Gourmet Traveller' meets 'online travel agent'. Travel In brings together publishing level content with a booking functionality to provide the complete package – information and inspiration coupled with the ability to book. It's driving economic benefit and providing visitors with a better experience, meaning everyone wins.”
Development of 'Travel In' was supported by NSW Government funding through Destination NSW, with a grant of $832,000 over two years under the Regional Visitor Economy Fund (RVEF).
For more information on the new digital project go to www.travelin.com.au.
Left to Right: Rodger Powell, Inland NSW Chairman; Mr Jonathan O'Dea Parliamentary Secretary for Trade, Tourism and Major Events; Graham Perry, Inland NSW CEO; Robert Gallagher Bauer Xcel Media General Manager Travel 

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Boost Qantas Points While Shopping Online

Qantas Frequent Flyer members have new opportunities to earn points for activities other than flying, with the introduction of another 16 retailers into the popular Qantas Online Mall.
The Online Mall, accessed via qantaspoints.com/onlinemall, gives members the ability to earn Qantas Points while they shop with well-known local and overseas brands.
New retailers include Australian labels Oroton, Lorna Jane, Peter Alexander and Glasshouse Fragrances, as well as a number of lifestyle and youth brands such as Rebel Sport, Wiggle, Kathmandu General Pants, L'Occitane Fossil, Smiggle, and Forever New. Overseas brands Kurt Geiger and Uniqlo, plus furniture and homewares company Zanui and computer manufacturer Lenovo, take the total number of retailers in the Online Mall to 45.
Qantas Loyalty CEO Lesley Grant said Qantas Frequent Flyer rewards are within reach for those who maximise points-earn across their everyday spend.
“Today we offer well over 15,000 opportunities to earn points as part of your normal day-to-day activities: from using a credit card, dining out at great restaurants, playing golf, through to filling up your car with fuel and of course shopping. All of these things, that you were probably going to do anyway, can earn you Qantas Points.
“Shopping at the Online Mall is a simple way to earn points and some of our retail partners offer five points per dollar spent, so it can very quickly add up,” she said.
Ms Grant said that if members use a points-earning credit card to make their Online Mall purchases, they can effectively double-dip on Qantas Points.
“It's the breadth of Frequent Flyer partners that helps our members reach their rewards faster – that's what makes us stand out from the competition and that's why over 10.7 million people have chosen to be part of Qantas Frequent Flyer to date.
“Our members earned over 4.8 million rewards last financial year – the most popular being flights and upgrades to business class. But a growing number of members are also exploring other ways to earn and use points and the success of the Online Mall is a great example of that.”
Lorna Jane Clarkson, founder of Australian activewear brand Lorna Jane, and active living advocate, said she was thrilled to be associated with Qantas.
“I want to encourage women to embrace active living no matter where they are in the world. Partnering with Qantas Frequent Flyer is a great way to increase the benefit for our customer when she shops with us,” Ms Clarkson said.
Over the past three years Qantas Loyalty has created a variety of businesses and communities complementary to Qantas Frequent Flyer, offering members increasing opportunities to earn Qantas Points. These include Qantas Cash (pre-paid travel money facility), the business rewards program Aquire, Qantas Golf Club and Qantas epiQure (wine club).
The access point into Qantas' Online Mall, www.qantaspoints.com, is a site designed to help Frequent Flyers understand how they can maximise their points and get rewarded as quickly as possible.
Members who make a purchase via the Online Mall before 21 September 2015 will go into the draw to win a shopping trip to London, New York or LA.

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Introducing 'The Cellar' – a Venue With French Flair at Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour


The Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour launches an exclusive, intimate French-inspired venue this winter with 'The Cellar' doors opening on 23 July.
Available exclusively for high-end private events, the renovation has transformed the area into a rustic wine cellar, providing the ultimate setting for small groups, with a capacity of up to 50 people, cocktail style.
The Cellar features beautiful antique decor combined with a touch of historical elegance, paying homage to the Sofitel brand's French pedigree to offer “le Rituel du Vin”, or high end Wine Rituals.
Sofitel New Zealand's Area General Manager, Wouter de Graaf said, “Our ethos is centered on gastronomy, design and culture and The Cellar certainly embodies all of these elements.
“This wining and dining space will truly showcase the hotel's association with the world's finest wines, characteristic of the best wine each region has to offer. As such, we have worked in close collaboration with a careful selection of acclaimed wineries to ensure that The Cellar features a hand-picked 'library' of only the best New Zealand and French wines to suit every palate.”
The result is an exclusive selection of wines and champagnes that unite and complement the rest of Sofitel's renowned gastronomic brand rituals.
As part of The Cellar's select wine offering, guests will have the opportunity to embark on wine journeys with Sofitel wine flights. Each flight is composed of a tasting of five wines accompanied by the Sofitel bread ritual and artisan olive oil. For champagne connoisseurs, an exclusive champagne flight will be available with Sofitel's knowledgeable sommelier, ready to take guests on a journey through the origins, history and varieties of champagne.
The hotel's signature charcuterie boards and cheese platters will be available in The Cellar offering guests an opportunity to discover the art of French cuisine in rustic, vintage vintner surrounds.
A truly one-of-a-kind space, the venue is available for bespoke events only such as wine tasting and private dinner events. For more details, contact the Conferencing and Events Team on Tel +64 9 354 7455 or visit sofitel-auckland.com
Find out more about Sofitel at www.sofitel.com.

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