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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Aussies giving domestic holidays a miss

Domestic tourism in Australia is suffering as more Aussies are enticed to travel overseas according to Tourism Research Australia's latest National Visitor Survey.

Released on Wednesday, the survey shows a seven percent decline to 66.4 million in the number of overnight trips taken by Aussies in the year ending September 30, 2009.

Spending also dropped six percent to $42.2 billion during the period.

Hotels lost out even more during the year as Aussies clamoured take a day trip, which experienced a five per cent increase in popularity.

The highest number of overnight visits were recorded in NSW (33 percent) followed by Queensland and Victoria (24 per cent). These three states, in the same order, also welcomed the most day trippers.

The Northern Territory was the only state or territory to record a growth in overnight visitors.

The lower number of overnight visits and spending has pushed the total economic value of domestic tourism down four percent to $62.8 billion.

American Airlines flight 331 crashes in Jamaica

American Airlines flight 331: American Airlines crash in Jamaica injures forty, no death reported. The American Airlines Flight 331 from Miami to Kingston, skid off on Kingston International airport. The flight crashed as it failed to stop before the end of the runway.

The flight just wound up 10 – 15 feet from the Caribbean Sea. Jamaican capital is facing heavy rain, and it is believe that rain did this damage.

More than forty people sustained minor injuries like cut and bruises, they are all admitted to Kingston hospital. Information Minister Daryl Vaz has denied any life threatening injuries.

Meanwhile American Airlines official have denied the report which said that airplane was broken into pieces.

But officials have said that fuselage is cracked and one side of landing gear is damaged. Tim Smith, a Fort Worth-based American spokesman said that "both engines were removed or taken off the wing as it happened,"

A passenger Natalie Morales said "When we landed it was pouring rain. It literally was like being in a car accident... There was smoke and debris everywhere."

National Transportation Safety Board will work with the Federal Aviation Administration and Jamaican authorities to find the cause of the accident.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Completes First Flight

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner took to the sky for the first time today, ushering a new era in air travel as it departed before an estimated crowd of more than 12,000 employees and guests from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. The flight marks the beginning of a flight test program that will see six aircraft flying nearly around the clock and around the globe, with the plane's first delivery scheduled for fourth quarter 2010.

The newest member of the Boeing family of commercial jetliners took off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. at 10:27 a.m. local time. After about three hours, it landed at 1:33 p.m. at Seattle's Boeing Field.

787 Chief Pilot Mike Carriker and Capt. Randy Neville tested some of the aircraft systems and structures, as on-board equipment recorded and transmitted real-time data to a flight-test team at Boeing Field.

After takeoff from Everett, the aircraft followed a route over the east end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Capts. Carriker and Neville took the airplane to an altitude of 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) and an air speed of 180 knots, or about 333 km/h, customary on a first flight.

"Today is truly a proud and historic day for the global team who has worked tirelessly to design and build the 787 Dreamliner - the first all-new jet airplane of the 21st century," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. "We look forward to the upcoming flight test program and soon bringing groundbreaking levels of efficiency, technology and passenger comfort to airlines and the flying public."

Powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, the first Boeing 787 will be joined in the flight test program in the coming weeks and months by five other 787s, including two that will be powered by General Electric GEnx engines.

The 787 Dreamliner will offer passengers a better flying experience and provide airline operators greater efficiency to better serve the point-to-point routes and additional frequencies passengers prefer. The technologically-advanced 787 will use 20 percent less fuel than today's airplanes of comparable size, provide airlines with up to 45 percent more cargo revenue capacity and present passengers with innovations that include a new interior environment with cleaner air, larger windows, more stowage space, improved lighting and other passenger-preferred conveniences.

Fifty-five customers around the world have ordered 840 787s, making the 787 Dreamliner the fastest-selling new commercial jetliner in history.

Signature Magazine targets the time-rich 50+ consumer in the travel and lifestyle market

On sale now. A$8.95

Signature Magazine, a stunning new title aimed at the affluent 50+ market, has released its launch issue. Produced for the baby boomer who has both the time and finances to indulge their passions, the quarterly publication is brimming with inspirational editorial on travel, investments, wellbeing, fashion and style, food and wine, nurturing of the body, mind and soul and a host of other aspects that play a crucial role in this vibrant sector’s lifestyle.

The magazine, created by the publishers of Holidays with Kids, Signature Media Pty Ltd, launched with a ready made subscriber base of close to 1,000 leveraged off the well-established Holidays with Kids subscription base. Holidays with Kids readers were offered incentives to subscribe their parents and grandparents to receive Signature Magazine.

Signature Magazine is also available nationally in newsagents and Borders, as well as selected high-end travel agents, two leading airlines, up-market resorts and cruise lines and a leading financial institution.

The number of Australians over 50 will outstrip those under 50 this year, making this demographic the most powerful media consumers. Certainly not a market to be taken lightly, they control half of the country’s household wealth and represent more than one third of all spending. They are by far Australia’s wealthiest demographic. Over the next twelve months they will spend $46 billion on food and wine, $10 billion on clothes and over $34 billion on travel … and they will be looking to us for where to go.

The magazine will have a strong online presence with a ready-made audience created by leveraging off of the 51,500 online members of Holidays with Kids. All of these members, (aged 25-45) have parents or grandparents that fall into this demographic. They will be enticed by monthly offers to have their parents register on the Signature Magazine website.

The magazine, on sale now, offers editorial innovative to the Australian marketplace.

While researching the 50+ market it became evident that a large proportion of affluent boomers choose not to retire completely but to maintain their business interests well into their senior years, keeping their minds active and maintaining the camaraderie with business contacts.

With this in mind, Signature Magazine has also been innovative in being the first leisure magazine in the Australian market place to include a regular section on MICE travel. Our decision to include MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events) recognises that this 50+ market are actively involved as company directors and senior level decision makers in highly successful businesses.

Editor Cathy Wagstaff says, “The time is ripe for this publication. It meets the needs of this growing, active demographic which, according to Tourism Australia, are the highest consumers of adventure travel”. This market is passionate about seeing the world around them and won’t procrastinate.

The Signature Magazine website will be a one-stop, interactive site that will offer readers and members a range of targeted information, forums to share travel experiences, plus a chance to link up with other travellers with the same destination or event interests.

Signature is positioned to be the voice of a generation. A travel and lifestyle magazine that speaks to a sophisticated and financially independent audience

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Travel Writing and Travel Photography - from Dreams to Hard Reality

The result of a combined total of more than 200 years of experience in the professions of Travel Writing and Travel Photography, the new Global Travel Writers E-book Travel Writing and Travel Photography - from Dreams to Hard Reality contains material that you just will not find anywhere else.

The twelve contributors to this E-book take you through the processes of digging out a story idea; using the services of national tourism offices to arrange "famil" trips and to help research a story; pitching to editors; and much much more. The chapter on “New Media” contains exclusive material and advice on the latest techniques that you can use to enhance your writing’s appeal to editors and, through them, to readers. And because photography is so important, in this E-book we have devoted two comprehensive chapters to travel photography for a digital age.

The E-book Travel Writing and Travel Photography - from Dreams to Hard Reality is priced at just USD 8.95 or AUD 9.95.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Qantas to lift international fares

source: Travel Daily

Qantas to surcharge select international airfares

Qantas has announced this afternoon it will be raising fare prices in all cabin classes on a number of international routes from 18 Dec.

Economy Class fares will rise by up to 5% on services to the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Honolulu, South America, Singapore, Thailand, Africa, North America and the United Kingdom/Europe.

Premium Economy Class fares will increase, also by up to 5%, on services to North America, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and the UK/Europe.

Business Class fares will go up 3% on services to the UK/Europe, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Africa, Indonesia and the Philippines.

And, First Class fares are also going up by 3% on services to the UK/Europe, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Africa.

Qantas says the new fare levels will apply to point of sale Australia, issued on/after 18 Dec, effecting both published and retail net fares.

Agents are being given until Thu 17 Dec to issue existing bookings to avoid the fare increase.

The new fare levels will be phased into agent GDSs from Mon 14 Dec.

More details in Monday's issue of Travel Daily.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Massive Jetstar expansion

Jetstar to add four domestic A320s - and launches Fiji fares from $149

Jetstar has just confirmed a boost to its domestic Australian operations, with the addition of 77 new weekly services between Mar and Jul 2010.

Much of the expansion will occur from its Melbourne and Sydney gateways, with the new capacity representing the introduction of an additional four new Airbus A320 aircraft to the Jetstar fleet.

No new domestic destinations are being added, but frequencies are increasing on many leisure routes including Sydney-Gold Coast which will operate 11 times a day, Melbourne-Gold Coast 8 times a day, Sydney-Cairns which becomes double daily and Melbourne-Townsville which moves from the current three times a week operation to a daily service. Overall there will be 35 extra Gold Coast services from Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle; 18 additional Cairns flights from Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney; 14 extra services to Newcastle from the Gold Coast and Melbourne; and 10 extra Sunshine Coast flights a week from Sydney and Melbourne.

CEO Bruce Buchanan said the carrier was excited to be announcing one of its most significant growth spurts, with the move "in direct response to continued strong consumer demand for Jetstar's low fares."

He said the boost would see 700,000 new seats of capacity added, growing passenger numbers by almost 7% and seeing Jetstar's domestic market share grow to around 18% "maintaining Qantas Group market share at 65 per cent".

MEANWHILE Jetstar has also confirmed the commencement of its new services to Fiji which will debut on 29 Mar 2010.

JQ will operate four times weekly A320 flights between Sydney and Nadi, with introductory one way fares from $149, while Jetstar Holidays is also offering a range of special Fiji packages at prices claimed to be up to 20% less than existing competitor offerings. Every day fares to Nadi will lead in at $229 one way "well below competitors on the route offering lead-in fares of at least $289 one way," according to a statement from the carrier.

"We expect that Jetstar's low fares and holiday packages, combined with Fiji's great appeal and renowned hospitality, will present a compelling proposition for Australian holidaymakers," said ceo Bruce Buchanan.

The new Jetstar Fiji flights will depart Sydney each Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat at 8.55am arriving in Nadi at 4pm local time, while the return service will depart Nadi at 4.40pm and arrive in Australia at 6.40pm.

More details in today's Travel Daily.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cruise Passenger Readers' Choice Awards

and the Winners are .....

Cruise Passenger magazine’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards were announced this week at a well-attended event at Sydney’s Observatory Hotel. Cruise Passenger readers are dedicated cruisers and their independent opinions are valued by the magazine and the cruise industry alike.

Here’s the rundown of all the place-getters and winners for the 2009 Readers Choice Awards:

Best Luxury Ship
1st / Queen Mary 2
2nd / Queen Victoria
3rd / Silver Whisper

Best Large Ship (1,200-plus) passengers
1st / Diamond Princess
2nd / Queen Mary 2
3rd / Sun Princess

Best Mid-Size Ship (500-1,200 passengers)
1st / Pacific Princess
2nd / Regent Seven Seas Mariner
3rd / Tahitian Princess

Best Small Ship (under 500 pax)
1st / Orion
2nd / True North
3rd / Silver Whisper

Best Value Family Ship
1st / Pacific Dawn
2nd / Sun Princess
3rd / Pacific Sun

Best River Cruise Ship
1st / APT Amadagio
2nd / Avalon Imagery
3rd / Murray Princess

Best Ship Cabin
1st / Diamond Princess
2nd / Sun Princess
3rd / Queen Mary 2

Best Ship Cuisine (main dining room)
1st / Orion
2nd / True North
3rd / Diamond Princess

Best Ship Pool Area
1st / Sun Princess
2nd / Diamond Princess
3rd / Rhapsody of the Seas

Best Ship Gym
1st / Sun Princess
2nd / Diamond Princess
3rd / Queen Mary 2

Best Ship Spa
1st / Sun Princess
2nd / Diamond Princess
3rd / Queen Mary 2

Best Ship from Aus/NZ
1st / Sun Princess
2nd / Dawn Princess
3rd / Diamond Princess

Best Adventure Cruise Ship
1st / Orion
2nd / True North
3rd / Oceanic Discoverer

Best Cruise Region
1st / The Kimberley
2nd / Mediterranean
3rd / Alaska

Best Cruise Port
1st / Sydney
2nd / Venice
3rd / Vancouver

Best Individual Cruise Travel Agent
1st / Seniors Holiday Travel
2nd / Ecruising
3rd / Best cruises

Best Multiple Cruise Travel Agent
1st / Harvey World Travel
2nd / Flight Centre
3rd / Travelworld

Best Fly/Cruise Airline
1st / Qantas
2nd / Singapore Airlines
3rd / Emirates

Monday, December 7, 2009

Australian cruise industry needs port upgrades to grow

The cruise industry is forecast to contribute more than $3 billion to Australia's economy by 2020 but only if the federal and state governments can address port bottlenecks that are restraining capacity.

An Access Economics report on the cruise industry released on Monday found the sector was the standout performer in the tourism market in 2007/08 (2007/08) contributing $1.2 billion to the national economy.

Carnival Australia, the country's largest cruise shipping company, said that contribution could more than double in 10 years if governments committed to improving port facilities.

Carnival chief executive Ann Sherry said port infrastructure was needed in Sydney in particular so the sector could reach its growth potential.

"The industry and government must work together to resolve outstanding issues such as capacity constraints," she said.

The industry's economic contribution in 2007/08 was up 54 per cent from $781 million the previous financial year, in gross output terms, Access Economics said in its second annual report on the sector.

In value added terms the contribution increased to $549 million, from $357 million a year earlier.

Access Economics predicts the cruise industry could achieve growth of seven per cent each year for the next decade.

This compared to the general holiday sector, where international tourism rose by a modest 3.9 per cent in 2007/08, based on visitor nights, and domestic tourism activity dropped 2.4 per cent.

Access Economics also said the cruise industry's market penetration could rise from one to two per cent of the Australian population in calendar 2009 to three to five per cent in 2020, bringing it into line with more developed markets such as the US, UK, and Germany.

"Carnival Australia expects the local cruise industry will carry one million passengers by 2020 but this target will prove elusive if holidaymakers who want to travel around a first class country are discouraged by second rate port facilities," Ms Sherry said.

"The importance of Sydney as a destination is critical to the growth of the cruise sector in terms of attracting international (cruise) tourists to Australia."

In Sydney, Ms Sherry said solutions are needed east of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to accommodate the bigger ships being built around the world.

"As our cruise ships increase in size, on 15 per cent of liners visiting Sydney in 2020 will be able to dock west of the harbour bridge," she said.

Source: AAP

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Just one year ago, Sydney hoteliers were all gloom and doom but the arrival of the inaugural Telstra 500 V8 Supercars event has seen almost every hotel room in Sydney full, with occupancy rates 18% above where they were for the same period in December 2008.

Accor has 29 hotels in greater Sydney under the Sofitel, Pullman, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mercure, Ibis, All Seasons and Formule 1 brands, and manages the four hotels at the Sydney Olympic Park site where the V8 race is being held.

Accor's Regional General Manager for NSW, Garth Simmons said the event is a real shot in the arm for Sydney's tourism and hospitality sector, with both occupancy and rates heading upwards after a difficult first half of the year.

He said the full house for the four Sydney Olympic Park hotels doubled the occupancy rate of just 50.1% for the corresponding period in 2008, so the V8s event has literally doubled occupancy for the precinct.

"The race has had a significant impact on the whole of Sydney with our hotels full over the weekend," said Mr Simmons. "It builds on a big week of events in Sydney with the Danny Green fight, the Australian Open and a number of major functions making it one of the best weeks for Sydney hotels in many years. It adds to a strong revival in business travel and conferences."

Simmons, who manages the Novotel and Ibis complex at Sydney Olympic Park says his staff had one of their biggest weekends since the 2000 Olympic Games and the Novotel's popular Brewery set new records, with around 150,000 people visiting the park over the course of the event.

"While we would expect to be busy over a major event period such as this, I am happy to say that our hotels in Sydney are already looking like they will finish 2009 on a high note and move into a stronger year for 2010," said Mr Simmons.

The V8 Supercars is expected to attract over 20,000 interstate and international visitors and to pump more than $110 million into the NSW economy over the next five years. It will help to put Sydney on the international motor racing map and provide more than $20 million worth of national and international media exposure.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Top 10 Destinations Revealed by Lonely Planet for 2010

Lonely Planet has unveiled its fifth annual collection of the world’s best journeys, destinations and experiences for the year ahead with the eagerly awaited Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2010.

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2010 highlight:

1. El Salvador “‘And when it comes to cities, none in Central America is smarter or cooler than San Salvador, with first-rate universities, museums and galleries
2. Germany “Some countries are simply allowed to be, but Germany has had to reinvent itself more times than Madonna.’
3. Greece Seldom does a travel destination satisfy the blurbs that shout ‘has something for everyone’ but Greece truly does.’
4. Malaysia ‘Diversity is what Malaysia is all about From chaotic and modern Kuala Lumpur to the near mystical wilds of Borneo.
5. Morocco ‘Get lost and find new friends –and carpets – in the souk mazes of Fez and Marrakesh.’
6. Nepal ‘Trekking in Nepal is one of those travel benchmarks, like seeing the Taj Mahal, or diving the Great Barrier Reef...’
7. New Zealand ‘NewZealand is spearheading the ecotravel revolution, winning international accolades for its ethos towards responsible travel
8. Portugal ‘Old city centres, long ago abandoned by the young and upwardly mobile in favour of the suburbs, are slowly being revitalised.’
9. Suriname ‘Quickly emerging as a prime ecotourism and sport-fishing destination, Suriname has everything you could hope for in a wildlife adventure.
10. USA ‘Trains are a great way to see the country. Unlike the highways, trains don’t pass constant billboards and fast-food chains.

Save your Aussie dollars and keep your comforts with SAS Combination fares to Europe

With Scandinavia being the home of innovative design, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) popular 'designed' Combination fares offer a range of alternatives to the savvy business or leisure traveller seeking value-for-money and the highest degree of comfort and service. With three classes of comfort to choose from, itineraries for journeys to Europe can be tailored to suit almost any budget, by combining Economy class flights with Business class or Premium Economy class flights. Combination fares start from $ 3469 including tax.

"The concept of combining service classes in this way, has wide appeal for those seeking more choice than your standard Economy or Business class options" Lars Olofsson, General Manager Scandinavian Airlines Australia and New Zealand said. "With the strengthening of the Australian dollar, it is an ideal time to consider heading to Europe, whether planning a business trip or holiday."

With a Business Combination fare, for instance, customers fly Economy class between Australia and Asia with SAS partner airlines then, for the longer sectors to and from Europe, fly SAS Business class in absolute comfort and style with all the additional benefits.

"The majority of the journey is in Business class but you don't pay the full Business class price, so it offers the combination of the best comfort plus incredible value," Olofsson said.

The Economy Extra Combination fare is another alternative for those seeking comfort, space and service at an affordable price. Customers again fly between Australia and Asia Economy Class, and then continue onwards in Economy Extra to their final European destination.

SAS Economy Extra has many benefits – 38 inch leg room, extra-large leg rest and footrest, video and audio on demand, greater baggage allowance, premium meal service, comfort kit, Business class check-in, Fast Track airport security and priority boarding. "All these little 'Economy Extras', make long haul travel a much more comfortable experience all round," Olofsson said.

SAS Business Combination fares to 40 European cities via Copenhagen start from $ 4289 and Economy Extra Combination Fares from $ 3469 and are available ex Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to Europe via Bangkok, Tokyo or Beijing. Prices include taxes and surcharges and based on Sydney – Copenhagen and return.

For more information on the SAS Combination fares visit or call 1300 727 707.

Scandinavian Airlines offers daily connections from Australia in co-operation with selected Star Alliance™ partners THAI, Air China and frequent flyer partner Qantas. Services operate via Asia to Copenhagen and more than 75 destinations in Scandinavia, Finland, the Baltic's and Europe.

Scandinavian Airlines long haul fleet consists of Airbus A330s and A340s, serving 8 destinations: New York, Chicago, Washington, Bangkok, Beijing, Tokyo, Stockholm and Copenhagen. Three classes are offered on board:  Business, Economy Extra (premium economy) and Economy.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hong Kong's Newest Business Hotel Joins Summit Hotels & Resorts

Summit Hotels & Resorts™, a brand of Preferred Hotel Group™, is pleased to announce its newest member in Hong Kong – EAST – which joins a collection that includes more than 150 internationally acclaimed hotels and resorts that celebrate local luxury worldwide.

To be opened late January 2010, EAST is Swire Hotels' third property and is located on Island East in Quarry Bay, home to over 300 multinational corporations, including some of the most prestigious Fortune 500 companies. A business district in itself, complemented with a cosmopolitan atmosphere of restaurants and extensive shopping facilities, Island East has become a neighborhood for both business and pleasure. The hotel is a 5-minute walk to the MTR subway station and a 15-minute drive to the other key business and commercial districts of Central and Causeway Bay.

With 345 guestrooms and suites, EAST is created for business travelers looking for a relaxed, efficient, and contemporary environment. In an effort to be environmentally conscious and to enhance guest experience, the hotel has adopted the latest technology for the check-in and check-out procedures – a paperless arrival experience allows guests to check-in anywhere in the hotel using tablet PCs. Guestrooms feature harbor or skyline views and offer the latest in iHome/iTouch technology and complimentary wireless Internet access in-room and throughout the hotel.

EAST's food and beverage concept was created by entrepreneur chef David Laris, creator of the award-wining restaurant Laris at Three on the Bund, Shanghai. Dining is highlighted by the all-day restaurant Feast (Food by EAST), which offers Western classics as well as Eastern delicacies. Sugar (Bar.Deck.Lounge) on the 32nd floor will be the neighborhood spot to eat, meet, drink, and party after work, featuring signature and classic cocktails, tapas, and nightly DJs.

Fitness center Beast (Body by EAST) caters for worldwide travelers with a 24-hour gym and a heated outdoor swimming pool.

"EAST's lifestyle business concept, paired with its strategic location in Hong Kong, ensures its success, and it will be a significant addition to the Summit Hotels & Resorts brand," said Mark Simmons, Area Managing Director, Asia of Preferred Hotel Group. "The hotel will benefit from Preferred's global sales force and its portfolio of over 300 managed global corporate accounts."

About Summit Hotels & Resorts™

Summit Hotels & Resorts is a member of the Preferred Hotel Group family of brands which also includes: Preferred Boutique™, Preferred Hotels® & Resorts, Sterling Hotels™ and Historic Hotels of America®. For reservations and a complete description of the Summit Hotels & Resorts collection, please visit

Summit Hotels & Resorts guests are eligible to enroll in the I Prefer™ Guest Benefit Program, featuring benefits such as early check-in/late check-out, space-available upgrades, and more. For more information, please visit

Mid North Coast overtakes Sydney as the Number One preferred holiday destination in NSW

Destinations throughout the Mid North Coast have overtaken Sydney as the preferred NSW holiday destination for Australians 14 + in survey results released today by Roy Morgan Research.

The Mid North Coast destinations from Port Stephens in the south to Coffs Coast in the north are the number 1 preferred holiday destinations in the survey ahead of Sydney at number 2,  the Blue Mountains at 3, Hunter at 4 and Northern Rivers at 5 in a line up of more than 15 regions throughout the state, Mid North Coast Regional Tourism Executive Officer, Ms Belinda Novicky announced today.
"These are encouraging results that auger well for a bumper season throughout the region for 2009/2010 Christmas holidays," she said.

Ms Novicky attributed the region's growing popularity to a number of factors:

"While our natural attractions, national parks, beaches and forests remain unspoilt our product and services have matured to meet the more sophisticated tastes of the Australian travelling public, " she said.

"At the same time many people are seeking destinations where they can de-stress, rekindle relationships and memories.

"The Mid North Coast is a traditional holiday destination that is now drawing back people who holidayed here as children and want to  rekindle those memories and share them with their families.'

"The 2008/2009 Christmas holiday season was one of the best in the past 10 years and these survey results indicate that great trend will continue for our tourism operators into 2010," she said.

"We will continue to offer price competitiveness, build on our appeal as a family friendly destination and preserve and promote the pristine coastline and our nature based activities.

"That's obviously what travelling Australians want and we can deliver," Ms Novicky said.

Friday, November 27, 2009

All I want for Christmas is an experience

People want a holiday experience they can talk about at a dinner party rather than just another gadget – and tourism marketers need to make the most of this, a researcher from The University of Queensland says.

UQ School of Tourism senior research fellow Dr Noel Scott says many people have all the gadgets and designer clothes they need, so they start hunting around for unique tourist destinations and experiences.

The tourist destinations need to provide these people with an experience they cannot get anywhere else, Dr Scott said.

The comments come as Dr Scott prepares to release a book he edited with fellow researchers Eric Laws and Philipp Boksberger called Marketing of Tourism Experiences.

The book covers things such as wine tourism, visits to museums and national parks, design of urban precincts with tourism in mind and inter-cultural experiences.

Dr Scott said it aimed to help tourism marketers appreciate how important it was to sell their destinations as places where people could experience exciting new things.

"Wine tourism is an example of a type of experiential tourism because you get to taste it,'" he said.

"Up till now, people in marketing or in business have generally been selling products, like buying a bag of sugar. There is not much of an experience in buying a bag of sugar.

"Today people have so much money and they live in a consumer world. People are interested in brands, not just products.

"It is not just the physical product but the whole idea of the product they are buying.

"If you buy a Gucci handbag, you are not just buying a handbag. You are buying a name and a status. When you have all the brands you need, people buy experiences. These are unique.'"

It was the same in tourism, Dr Scott said.

"An experience is something you talk about afterwards at a dinner table and people are interested," he said.

"You don't talk about your hotel room or travelling by plane. An experience is emotional. It is delightful.

"You need to sell your tourism product or destination as an experience. You can stay at the Tarzan room at a particular hotel. You are not selling a room. It is an experience.'"

Some Hollywood hotels had rooms related to specific films, Dr Scott said.

Members in some Chinese tour groups are asked to take roles in a simulated wedding, alongside actors dressed in traditional clothing, he said.

"It is an example of interacting rather than viewing. It is something authentic and not just a product.''

Tourism marketing worked best when it evoked the senses and emotions and may involve providing traditional food, trinkets infused with smells or music associated with the destination, Dr Scott said.

"A physical experience can lead to an association with a destination."

Dr Scott's book is available for $134. Visit

This article comes from:
The url to this article is:
Copyright © 2009 The University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More support needed for regional tourism: report

source: ABC News

A new parliamentary report says regional tourism needs extra support in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The House of Representatives report released today has investigated the impact of the world economic downturn on regional Australia.

A total of 170 submissions were received from welfare agencies, small business, the National Farmers Federation and councils including Griffith, Urana, Tamworth, Gunnedah and Moree Plains.

Most cited a big fall in income, losses on investments and difficult trading circumstances.

The committee chairwoman, Catherine King, says it is clear additional support is needed in some areas.

"So we've made some recommendations around certainly some capacity building in local communities, better coordination of federal government services so that people at the local level can actually take advantage of programs as they come up," she said.

"We've also obviously called for the extension of some Federal Government programs in which there's funding, particularly in the tourism portfolio."

Ms King says the financial crisis has hurt regional communities reliant on income from overseas visitors.

She says regions that support only a couple of industry sectors are also struggling to bounce back.

"If they were not sufficiently diverse they had been knocked about quite a bit by the global financial crisis and we do know that nationally unemployment figures are continuing to rise," she said.

"In regional communities it's been exacerbated where there is just one large employer, but in others it's just been a slow bleeding of jobs in smaller communities as well."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fairfax folds Travel + Leisure

Story by: Nikki MacLennan/

SYDNEY: Fairfax Magazines will close Travel + Leisure Australia following its December issue, after four and a half years of publishing.

Fairfax said in a statement that the closure was due to the decision by American Express Australia to no longer distribute the magazine as a benefit to its platinum credit card holders in Australia and New Zealand.

Travel + Leisure Australia recorded circulation of 90,323 (including New Zealand) in the March 2009 CAB audit. It launched into Australia in 2005.

Travel + Leisure Australia was one of seven international editions of the title, which was aimed at “travellers, not tourists” and showcased travel writing and photography covering food, wine, fashion, art, architecture and driving, both in Australia and overseas.

Fairfax Magazines chief executive and publisher Lisa Hudson said: “We are very proud of the quality of Travel + Leisure Australia and it is with a sense of regret that we announce its closure.”

Fairfax said it was “working with staff in relation to their future”.

Fairfax Magazines also publishes Good Weekend, Sunday Life, the (sydney) magazine, Sport & Style and the age (melbourne) magazine.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

How the hospitality world changes in just 25 years ...

R-L: Sally Sneddon, Rebecca Montague, Lisa Dawson, Andrew Montague, Bill Sneddon, Alan Jurd, Sandra Jurd and Julie Mollenaar 

Peppers celebrates its 25th anniversary

Peppers Retreats, Resorts and Hotels celebrated its 25th anniversary on Monday evening (26 October) with a cocktail party event at Peppers Guest House in the Hunter Valley, the home of the original Peppers.

Peppers Retreats, Resorts and Hotels CEO Bob East said the celebration was an opportunity to focus on the personalised service that sets Peppers apart from other boutique properties with a philosophy of “we’re all about you”.

“Twenty five years ago, a luxury holiday usually meant spending a week at a big international hotel, with the formality of traditional hotel systems. Peppers changed this holiday mentality when it opened Peppers Guest House in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales and Peppers and consequently redefined the top-end Australian holiday market,” said Bob.

“The Peppers concept was a big risk at the time, as the short-break holiday market was still in its infancy. But a combination of a personalised approach to service, luxurious surroundings and a focus on quality holiday experiences such as food, wine and spa encounters paved the way for the redefinition of an Australian holiday escape.”

As part of their silver anniversary celebrations, Peppers will be slipping slipping a surprise, in the form of designer jewellery, under the pillow of one lucky guest each week in November. Every Peppers property in Australia will present one lucky guest each week with an elegant CarneyMcCarthey necklace which features 25 scattered silver pebbles in a cascading design.

Since the opening of Peppers Guest House in the Hunter Valley, 25 years ago, there are now 27 Peppers Retreats, Resorts and Hotels throughout Australia and New Zealand. Each Peppers property has its own style and charm and experiences range from luxury outback cattle stations, intimate vineyard retreats, tropical rainforest lodges, mountain resorts, golfing getaways, grand country estates, to tropical islands. All are within easy reach of a capital city or major town.

For more information, visit

Susan Boyd spent a few minutes with Mike O'Connor, the original owner of Peppers Guest House, the original Peppers Guest House retreat owner, Mike O'Connor

What was your vision for Peppers when you opened the doors to Peppers Guest House on 26 October 1984?
Our vision was to move to the country, build a stylish hotel, unlike anything then in existence. We decided to call it a Guest House because we didn't want it to be a hotel in the traditional sense.

Why 'Peppers'? How did you choose the name?
We called it Peppers because the old house that stood on the site of the current courtyard (we moved the house to it’s current location and called it the homestead) was surrounded by pepper trees.

What was opening day at Peppers Guest House like?
Fairly chaotic. It was a Friday night; I was in Sydney getting the liquor license in the court and didn't get back to the Guest House until 7.00pm. The place was packed to the rafters and we had forgotten to order an ice machine. The first chef we employed did not cope well. All very stressful.

And the opening party?
The opening party was the next weekend, Sunday I think. We had Suzi Cruckshank singing and her Jazz group playing on the lawn in front of the main building. All was going well until the biggest thunderstorm you have ever seen enveloped the valley. We had 4 inches of rain, the roof leaked and the power went out for 8 hours. It was only then that we realized that when the power was off, not only did we have no lights, but also no water. Chaos reigned for some time until we all crowed into the lounge and bar to listen to Suzi sing around the piano. We drank and feasted on anything that could be cooked on a gas stove.

What was the hospitality industry like then?
Just as it is now, very competitive. There were fewer operators but also fewer visitors.

And how has it changed since?
It was very difficult to get everyone to work as a group and market the Valley as a destination. That changed over time and by the late 80’s the Hunter Valley was the most dynamic destination outside Sydney.

What were guests seeking then that they may or may not be seeking now?
I think they are seeking the same thing today they were seeking 25yrs ago. A relaxing weekend getaway in a cozy environment with good food and wine

How did you intend to set Peppers apart from competitors?
We wanted it to be everything a hotel wasn't. Hopefully our guests would feel as if they were staying in a friends house

Has this changed?
I don't think so

What was your biggest challenge back then?
Convincing our bank manager that although we were spending twice as much as it would cost to build an equivalent motel we could achieve an average room rate, three times that of a motel.

What do you think is the biggest challenge in retreat accommodation today?
Today there is so much competition in this sector; you need to differentiate your product.

Did you imagine 27 retreats and resorts throughout Australia and New Zealand?

What inspired you to open Peppers Guest House in the Hunter Valley?
We were seeking a life style change (at the time we owned and ran a contract cleaning business in Sydney). We looked in Thredbo and the Blue Mountains but the Hunter Valley accommodation stats showed the area had the highest occupancies and the highest room rates in NSW. We were confident that we could build the best in the area and therefore take the top end of the market. In the first 5 years of its operation the Guest House ran at an average annual occupancy above 91%

Do you keep in contact with any past guests?
No but I am constantly meeting people who have stayed there. Last weekend in the Port de Soller in Mallorca, I met an Aussie guy on a boat who attended an insurance conference at the Guest House in 1986. Needless to say we shared a few drinks.

How much did a night at Peppers Guest House cost in 1984?
Around $115

Describe your funniest Peppers moment?
Caught swimming naked in the pool house with the staff from the Cellar Restaurant by my wife Suzi, at 3.00am

And your happiest Peppers moment?
Swimming with the staff of the Cellar restaurant

And your biggest Peppers achievement?
Selling Peppers Guest House for $10 million in1989 and buying it back 2 years later for $5.5 million

Any tales of famous people who have stayed?
My lips are sealed

Where are you now?
Living in Mallorca, in a beautiful stone villa, in an ancient town called Soller

If you could open another Peppers Retreat in Australia or New Zealand now, where would it be?

Do you have any advice for the Peppers team now?
Market the product to women, because in the short break segment it is the woman who makes the decision. Men just want to be organised.

Any stories you would like to share?
We originally bought the land where the Guest House now sits from a man in Cessnock called Laurie Murphy. After concluding the sale we took him to lunch and we all had much to drink. As we were leaving he offered some fatherly advice. Clearly he had a skeptical view of our proposed project, and took me aside suggesting we should change the design so if it didn't work as a guest house we could convert it to a retirement complex. I now wonder if he was just ahead of his time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Clean Me, Green Me, Fiji Me

Fiji sets world mark becoming first country to implement a national low carbon travel and tourism sector initiative

With international focus starting to turn towards Copenhagen as the Danish capital gears up to host the UN Climate Change Conference in December, Fiji has stolen a march on the rest of the planet becoming the first country to launch a national low carbon travel and tourism sector initiative.

The national tourist office and key players in the destination's tourism, hotel and business sectors have aligned resources with Australian-based clean technology specialist Greenlight Technology Group (GLTG) and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) to help advance Fiji as a low carbon tourism destination.

According to GLTG CEO Chris Andrew the first phase of the initiative, the establishment of an alliance amongst all key players in the Fiji tourism industry and clean technology businesses, is already underway.

The next step, he said, will be for the alliance to work together to prepare an advisory paper on how best to bundle a range of individual hotel initiatives into a larger Clean Development Mechanism* (CDM). The proposed Fijian Hotel CDM Program will be a world first for the tourism sector

When this has been completed, a pilot project deploying energy efficiency technologies and small-scale renewable energy sources will be rolled out across the destination over the next 12-15 months.

"Tourism is critical to Fiji's economy, contributing approximately 25 per cent to GDP," Mr Andrew said.

"Bringing together all the key players in tourism is really what will ensure that the maximum benefits are achieved while helping to keep Fiji solidly positioned as an environmentally responsible destination.

"The May 2009 World Economic Forum report 'Towards a Low Carbon Travel & Tourism Sector' notes that tourism destinations that pro-actively work on sustainability initiatives will be better positioned than their competitors to survive in an era when international tourists are growing more environmentally conscious in choosing their holiday destinations.

"With this global trend in mind, GLTG and the Fiji alliance will consider and agree on methods for deploying energy efficiency technologies and small-scale renewable energy sources suited to hotels in the Pacific region.

Tourism Fiji CEO Josefa Tuamoto, who sits on the committee of the newly formed group, said the CDM was intended not only to benefit the people of Fiji but provide a model for low carbon tourism to Fiji's immediate neighbours.

"We intend showing the world that even as a small nation, we can set the pace when it comes to critical international action in an area that is affecting each and everyone one of us today.

"As the world becomes more and more aware of the efforts needed to protect the global environment, a subject that has become an everyday issue for people all over the world, it is inherent on the world to unite to ensure that we leave our children and our children's children and the generations to come with a world fit for everyone to live in and prosper.

"It has long been a dream of mine that Fiji and particularly Fiji's tourism industry becomes a leader in this area and helps us become a nation recognised for its efforts on behalf of the entire global village.

"To this end we hope in the not too distant future to unveil the plans that we and our industry colleagues plan to establish and in the process shine a spotlight on a new capability for Fiji and its people."

For further information on the Greenlight Technology Group visit

For more information the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership visit

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Accor Positioned for Cairns Recovery

Special location report for HM Magazine by Roderick Eime

Despite the widespread disappointment and cynicism at the deferral of the promised Jetstar direct flights to Japan, Accor is demonstrating its confidence in the Cairns/Port Douglas region’s recovery by investing millions of dollars in key properties.

Currently Accor manages or brands eight properties across five badges ranging from the recently rebranded, 5-star Pullman Reef Casino to the 3.5-star All Seasons Cairns Gateway Resort.

Two new properties to join the Accor family include the landmark Oasis Resort on Lake Street and one of the region’s best known properties, Treetops in Port Douglas. Both properties had fallen into decline and required substantial modernization and refurbishment.

Accor Vice President Australia, Simon McGrath, said in a recent press statement that the addition of Mercure Port Douglas Treetops was a significant milestone for Accor and the Australian hotel industry.

“The addition of Treetops marks a very special occasion for Accor as it will take our Australian network to over 20,000 rooms – the first hotel group to achieve such a mark in Australia.

“Not only will the hotel benefit from our partnership, but it will bring Port Douglas to an even wider audience. The destination achieved a very high-profile in recent decades, and we will use our vast distribution channels to revitalise interest in what is one of the world’s most attractive destinations.”

The 224-room resort is located a short walk from Four Mile Beach and is five minutes drive to the centre of Port Douglas village (a shuttle bus service operates throughout the day).

Over the past six months, the hotel has received an extensive, multimillion dollar renovation, including upgrading of rooms, the restaurant and public areas and a fresh new paint scheme throughout the resort.

Now carrying the Novotel logo, the Oasis Resort in Cairns received a radical $7 million bare shell makeover almost as soon as the resort changed hands in August 2007.

“The Oasis was one of those typical ‘80s ‘tropical’ resorts needing lots of TLC,” said director of sales, Philip Newland, “and now we have a totally new look ... much more contemporary. The previous AAA 4-star rating was generous, now we are a confident 4.5 rated property.”

Just down the road and occupying the prime location adjacent Cairns’s Trinity Wharf, is the Pullman Reef Casino. Newly-installed GM, Adrian Williams, relishes his new post and strongly believes 2009 represents the bottom of the current cycle.

“Like many destinations reliant on tourism and corporate travellers, Cairns has been responsive to the difficult GFC period and demonstrated new adaptability and innovation.”

$4.5 million has been spent on the property up to May this year in a continual process of upgrading rather than a debilitating refurbishment.

Despite Williams’s disappointment at the deferral of the Jetstar flights, he considers this a minor hiccup that “provides tourism operators, marketers and travel agents with a better lead time in which to properly prepare a strategy to sell on the back of the forthcoming Osaka services.”

Bridget Catterall, General Manager of the Best Management Group, who are contracted to manage the Treetops Resort & Spa under the Mercure franchise contract sums up the climate:

“Travel to Australia and Cairns has never been cheaper, and with Port Douglas boasting such a high profile in the American, European and Australian markets, we believe there is great potential to grow our business substantially over the next few years.”

Discover a World of Boutique Adventure in Nicaragua

Aventura Lodge is the latest hotel to open its doors in the beautiful beach town of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. The boutique adventure hotel is a tropical oasis, complete with a pristine swimming pool and waterfalls. The hotel has a variety of accommodation to suit all travelers, from the luxurious Jungle Suites to the Tree House beds.

A lush jungle garden is the setting for this intimate lodge. The tropical canopy provides the perfect place to relax and escape the heat. Relax by the refreshing swimming pool or swing in a hammock in the garden. It’s a different world inside the gates of Aventura Lodge.

San Juan del Sur is a tranquil and laid back town on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. It’s the perfect place to spend a week, month or even years. San Juan del Sur is the hub for exploring Nicaragua’s best surf beaches and all the country has to offer. The friendly locals will happily show you around and point you in the right direction of the best bars and places to eat.

Adventure comes in many forms in San Juan del Sur and Aventura Lodge can create unique experiences for each guest. Whether your idea of adventure is surfing, climbing volcanoes or exploring coffee plantations, the team at Aventura Lodge will make your vacation come to life. And at the end of an active day, you can relax by the pool with an ice-cold drink or treat yourself to a rejuvenating massage perhaps.

The hotel has 5 luxurious and individually decorated Jungle Suites from $50 per night; a 2 bedroom Canopy Apartment from $80 and for those on a slimmer budget the 4 Tree House beds from $15. Breakfast is included and the hotel has Wi-Fi. The Jungle Suites and Canopy Apartment have air-conditioning and cable television.

Your next adventure awaits you at Aventura Lodge.

For more information, visit

Media contact information:
Kate Jenkins or Daniel Lloyd
Aventura Lodge
(+505) 89037622 or (+505) 83585924

Pullman positive despite delayed Jetstar Cairns-Japan route

The Accor group’s flagship Cairns property, the five-star Pullman Reef Casino Hotel, is still looking forward to the launch of Jetstar’s new route between Japan and Cairns, despite an announcement delaying the first flight until April 2010.

Jetstar has postponed the creation of flights between Cairns and Japan to April next year after it was unable to reach an agreement with the Cairns International Airport.

Pullman Reef Casino Hotel General Manager Adrian Williams says, the new Cairns-Osaka route is still great news for the region, inspiring confidence that the city may be about to embark on a positive new growth phase

“It was originally hoped the four weekly flights to Japan would launch in December,” said Mr Williams.

“The delay however is just a minor hiccup, and essentially provides tourism operators, marketers and travel agents with a better lead time in which to properly prepare a strategy to sell on the back of these services.

Mr Williams said Jetstar’s commitment and ‘aggressive’ marketing approach to Japan has overall been encouraging for Cairns tourist operators and hoteliers.

“Jetstar’s new Osaka service to Cairns is still the first real sign that the destination may be poised to start a positive new cycle in 2010,” he said.

“The Osaka service is an opportunity to grow Japanese visitation that will ease the pressure on hotels, restaurants and attractions.

Mr Williams said he strongly believed that 2009 would represent the bottom of the current cycle. “Like many destinations reliant on tourism and corporate travelers, Cairns has been responsive to the difficult GFC period and demonstrated new adaptability and innovation.

“The domestic market of course has naturally been a priority. Tourism Australia and Tourism Queensland’s national campaigns have been the perfect complement to the marketing support and activity that hotel, airline, and local tourism offices has undertaken over the past 12 months. We’ve seen some encouraging results from our wholesale and retail partners as a result.

Mr Williams added that since he came on board as General Manager at the beginning of the year that he has seen Cairns take on a fresh new approach to business events.

“Although a challenging time for a new brand to come into Australia, let alone Cairns, it has also been a great opportunity for us to reposition and rebadge the Reef Casino Hotel with the benefit of Accor network and all that Pullman represents behind us.

“Accor’s loyalty programs including AClub and Advantage Plus have been a powerful backbone generally for the hotel with leisure guests, however AClub’s new focus on incentivising the meetings and conference market has also proved timely for Pullman.”

Pullman hotels in Australia are offering a new ‘Delicious Escapade’ package which has an even more delicious incentive of a $7,500 prize of a holiday for two in Bangkok, including airfares, 5 nights accommodation and breakfast at the stylish Pullman Bangkok Kong Power, $350 towards dining and limousine transfers.

Entry to the competition is available to travellers who book the new Pullman Delicious Escapade package at Pullman Reef Hotel Casino and stay before 6 January 2010.

The Pullman Delicious Escapade package includes 10% discount on stays of two nights or more, daily breakfast for two, late check out and a $30 voucher for use in the hotel’s bar and restaurant.

The Pullman Delicious Escapade offers a 5-star experience at great value rates: from $170 a night at Pullman Reef Hotel Casino.

The Pullman Reef Hotel Casino is in the heart of Cairns, overlooking Trinity Inlet and packed with great dining and entertainment options. Each room has its own private garden balcony and spa bath, and there is a rooftop swimming pool, full gym, Cairns Wildlife Dome and the Reef Casino.

The prize features 5 nights at the Pullman Bangkok King Power, one of the city’s newest 5-star hotels, conveniently located near Victory Monument BTS train station. The Pullman offers a wide range of restaurants and bars, a luxurious spa, a vast swimming pool and a large Kingpower duty-free complex next door.

Pullman, is the upscale hotel brand of Accor. It was designed with the requirements of business women and men in mind. Located in the main regional and international cities, Pullman hotels provide an extensive range of tailored services, access to ground-breaking technologies and the “Co-meeting” offer, a new approach to organizing meetings, seminars and high-end incentives. At Pullman hotels, business travelers can choose between being independent or relying on the staff available round the clock. End of 2009, the Pullman network will consist of 50 hotels in 23 countries across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Soon, we expect over 300 establishments around the world. All information regarding the hotels is available on the website

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Piracy fears force cancellation of Indian Ocean cruises

By Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa

The first of possibly more cruises in the Indian Ocean and along the Eastern African countries has now been canceled and the vessel is due to be moved to the Caribbean instead of the Indian Ocean in 2010.

Cruise line company Yachts of the Seabourn decided to move its Seabourn Legend, which was scheduled to sail during the 2010 and 2011 seasons between the Seychelles, Kenya, Zanzibar and Madagascar, among others, after the latest spate of attacks on vessels along the Horn of Africa.

The decision may have been influenced by the growing radius of pirate attacks further out into the open sea, the latest being the reported hijacking of a Chinese ship. The company has a special appeal to cruise aficionados as the company uses smaller vessels offering a true luxury hospitality environment and fear for their very posh and wealthy clientele being taken hostage by Somali ocean terrorists may have been a major factor to avoid the Indian Ocean in the immediate future.

Passengers already booked now have the option to select other itineraries operated elsewhere in the world or else get a refund for deposits made.

No response was yet received from tour and safari operators lined up to handle the ship during port calls and take the passengers on safaris or island tours, but the loss of revenue is thought to be considerable.

This loss will undoubtedly add to the sentiments against the Somali pirates and bring about even stronger calls for a more robust and determined engagement against their safe havens, their mother boats and skiffs out on the ocean, including hot pursuit into waters claimed by Somalia as their own.

The Seychelles, in particular, depend on tourism as one of the main sources of their national income and has openly embraced overtures of the naval coalition partners for more support to patrol and police their extensive national waters, which extend 200 nautical miles around the archipelago.

Subsequently, the capacity of the Seychelles Coast Guard and related units has been substantially boosted in recent months in regard of both surface as well as aerial capabilities in a bid to create a credible deterrent.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jetstar, V Australia granted Fiji capacity

The International Air Services Commission has granted Jetstar and V Australia capacity on the Fiji route.

Qantas Group was awarded 852 seats of capacity per week which must be used no later than April 2010.

V Australia has been awarded 907 seats of capacity per week, but the carrier must launch services by December 31 this year.

The Commission said it expects Jetstar and V Australia to compete strongly on the leisure market.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Caledonia Reports Record Growth in 2009

New Caledonia Tourism (NCT) Australia has reported record growth for inbound Australian tourist numbers during the months of July and August 2009.

Both months have seen increases in arrivals, with July up 31% from 2008, making it the best July in nine years. Meanwhile August also saw promising growth with a 7.8% increase in comparison to the same month in 2008 – the best figures for the month in eight years.

Diane Moynihan, General Manager for NCT Australia said, "to have two outstanding months at such a tough time is reassuring for the future of tourism in New Caledonia. So many Australians are embracing the unique experiences this Pacific destination has to offer. We're pleased to be seeing tourist numbers continually increase as a result of the gourmet campaign and look forward to the new directions 2010 will bring for our marketing and PR initiatives."

The figures also come with the news that New Caledonia has been listed as one of the top 10 travel destinations for Australians, as announced by

As a result of increased visitation to New Caledonia over the last three years, the destination has attracted a number of new hotel developments.

Most recently Starwood announced a new property, the Sheraton New Caledonia Bourail Resort & Spa. Due for completion in January 2013. The property will cater for both the leisure and business traveler, offering 120 guest rooms and suites, as well as 60 free-standing villas.

The TERA Hotels & Resorts chain has also confirmed to develop the Nouméa Tera Beach Resort at Anse Vata beach on the previous Club Med site. The resort will offer 112 three star apartment style rooms and is scheduled to open at the end of 2010.

For information on New Caledonia visit or phone New Caledonia Tourism's Sydney office on 1800 673 745.

Qantas Loses Out to Virgin Blue in the Best Brand Battle

The Brand Surgeon, Paul Harmer, surveyed 2,092 people aged 19-66 to help compile a list of the top 10 most liked and disliked brands on the market. Options covered a range of traditional commercial brands, internet and social media sites and personal brands.

The survey reveals that of the options Google (1) is the most liked brand out there, closely followed by Obama (2). On the flipside, surveyed individuals reacted most negatively towards brands such as Twitter (1) and Telstra (5). Comparisons of similar brands showed Virgin Blue (10) beating out Qantas (17) comprehensively for the title of best airline brand.

"What made this survey even more interesting were the two or three word comments made by participants. Whilst everyone voted for their top ten best and worst, there were some brands that polarised or stimulated intense opinion" said Paul Harmer, founder of The Brand Surgeon.

"Interestingly, some of the brands near the top of the best-brand list also appeared in the top ten most disliked brands. Commonwealth Bank showed this polarisation of opinion, with 906 people for (9) and 1146 against (2)".

Over the past 25 years, branding strategist and author Paul Harmer has learned from the experts experiencing what it takes to achieve brand success. Harmer has worked with psychologists, top executives and some of the most successful brand owners on the planet. He has seen brand owners both struggle and thrive in creating the right powerful brand experience, producing the recipe for brand glue and greater profits. 

The top 10 most liked brands on the survey were:

The Body Shop
Commonwealth Bank
Virgin Blue/ Samsung

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Taihape is Back on the Kiwi Railway Map

The central New Zealand North Island town of Taihape is back on the railway map. Dropped from the train timetable in 2005 due to falling numbers, Taihape will be reinstated from the 23rd October, following renewed interest and growing passenger numbers on the Overlander.

"After careful consideration of the potential passenger numbers for a Taihape stop on the Overlander, we have decided to include Taihape as a scheduled stop," comments Tranz Scenic marketing manager, Richard Keenan.

"We have been impressed with Taihape's commitment to regular train services, including enthusiasm for events and attractions which will add to the appeal of Taihape as a destination. We have also seen increasing passenger numbers on the Overlander."

Those passenger numbers grew by over 25% in just 18 months, prompting Tranz Scenic to bring peak seven day services forward to September rather than the usual December. "Passengers are responding, with a 70% jump in numbers from last year over the school holidays just gone," adds Mr Keenan. "We are also seeing renewed interest in all our scenic services, and in visits to heartland New Zealand by train."

Commenting on the return of Taihape as a scheduled stop for the Overlander, Taihape Community Development Trust manager Elizabeth Mortland commented; "Fantastic. Really wonderful news."

The regular northbound service will arrive at 11:21am, and the southbound at 3:03pm, with a scheduled 2 minute stop to allow for passengers to board, disembark, and for luggage handling. Services will start on Friday 23rd October 2009, and run initially as a one year trial period

"We look forward to working with the town to make Taihape a successful permanent stop on the Overlander journey," Richard Keenan says.

More information on The Overlander is available from

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Executive Chef for Park Hyatt Sydney

Andrew McKee returns to Sydney to take the reins of harbourkitchen&bar

Park Hyatt Sydney is pleased to announce that Andrew McKee will take the reins as executive chef of iconic waterfront restaurant harbourkitchen&bar, effective 12 October 2009.

McKee returns to Sydney after five years working as a chef at leading hotels in Asia, and will manage Park Hyatt Sydney's day-to-day catering and lead the acclaimed waterfront restaurant harbourkitchen&bar.

With a wealth of experience under his belt and having cooked for some of the world's leading celebrities, McKee prides himself on sourcing the finest local seasonal produce, cooked simply and presented minimally with style.

McKee joins Park Hyatt Sydney from his most recent position as executive sous chef at Hyatt's flagship hotel, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. However, while in Asia, McKee also had the pleasure of cooking for such high-profile celebrities as Johnny Depp, Cameron Diaz, Orlando Bloom and more at one of Japan's most famous restaurants, the New York Grill in the renowned Park Hyatt Tokyo. Prior to that, McKee enjoyed his first international role at Aria Restaurant in the China World Hotel, Beijing.

Working internationally gave seasoned culinarian McKee the opportunity to work with world-renowned chefs, including Christian Le Squer (at the three Michelin star Pavillion de Ledoyen), Albert Portale (Gotham Bar and Grill, New York), Daniel Beloud (Daniel, New York), Shannon Bennet (Vue de Monde) and George Calombaris (The Press Club).

Before leaving Australian shores for Asia, McKee worked with some of Australia's best-loved chefs, including celebrity chef Darren Simpson at the famed Aqua Luna, and Paul Wilson and his team at radii in Park Hyatt Melbourne; he then followed Wilson to Botanical to take up the role of senior sous chef. McKee also assisted Damien Pignolet with the opening of the Bellevue Hotel in Sydney.

Thanks to its celebrated waterfront position, harbourkitchen&bar guests enjoy direct views of the Sydney Opera House and can hear water lapping through floor-to-ceiling folding glass doors. In the coming months, diners will be able to experience a new modern Australian menu created by executive chef Andrew McKee.

For bookings at harbourkitchen&bar, please call +61 2 9256 1661 or email The hotel is located at 7 Hickson Road, The Rocks, NSW Australia.

About Park Hyatt
Intimate and residential in style, Park Hyatt hotels promise elegant and gracious service on a personal scale, and are further distinguished by prime locations and exceptional interior design. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and its subsidiaries operate 24 Park Hyatt hotels, with an additional 10 properties under development. Current locations include: Baku, Beaver Creek, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Canberra, Chicago, Dubai, Goa, Hamburg, Istanbul, Melbourne, Mendoza, Milan, Moscow, Paris, Philadelphia, Saigon, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Washington DC and Zurich.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Samoa Tourism Industry progresses to Recovery mode

Samoa’s Tourism Industry is making a sure and steady recovery despite the effect of the Tsunami that struck Samoa on Tuesday 29th September 2009.

The owners of the affected properties which make up less than a quarter of all accommodation (resorts, beach fale and day visit properties) in Samoa have a realistic and positive outlook on where they will go from here.

The plan of action for most if not all those owners affected is “Rebuilding”. These owners are determined and adamant to move onwards and forward in spite of the damage done to what has been their home, their source of income, their lives.

“This is our livelihood… of course we will rebuild”, firmly states Koroseta, owner of Faofao Beach Fales at Saleapaga, one of the worst affected areas along the South-South East Coast.

Ms. Sose Annandale has assessed the damage to Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa and expects to reopen by 1st November 2009.

Coconuts Beach Club and Resort is aiming to reopen on 1st February 2010, as stated on its website “with fresh beginnings”.

Though the task seems daunting from the outside looking in, the owners have a confident outlook.

The support from the local tourism Industry and Government ensures that this positive stance becomes an actual accomplishment.

The Hon. Deputy Prime Minister, Afioga Misa Telefoni Retzlaff has confirmed that Government through the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) and KVA Consult “will carry out a study to assess the damage and provide advice on a roadmap to total rehabilitation in the least possible time”. The Australian Government is providing financial assistance for this study which is expected to be completed in 2-3 weeks.

Samoa Tourism Authority is restarting its destination marketing initiatives on the 12th October 2009. STA’s tourism campaigns have currently been withdrawn in consideration of the situation at hand. STA with assistance from international tourism organizations as well as the foreign travel media and marketing agencies, will step up its promotional strategies upon resumption.

South Pacific Tourism Organisation’s CEO, Mr Tony Everitt, put it aptly in an interview with the New Zealand Herald. According to the article, Everitt emphasized that it would not help if people stayed away from Samoa from some misguided sense of decorum.

"It is quite important that as we grieve for those who have been severely impacted by the disaster we keep it in context and understand that there is a lot of Samoa that - while they will be in mourning for some time - is quickly going to be back in business as usual."

In the meantime, STA continues its humanitarian efforts to assist all those that have been affected by the tsunami.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Strategic applies for Bali capacity

Newly certified carrier Strategic Airlines has requested capacity from the International Air Services Commission which would allow it to operate services to Indonesia, with plans to commence a once weekly A330 service from Bali to Denpasar from 06 Dec.

The carrier said it plans to introduce a second weekly service from 30 Jun 2010, with the capacity requested being a reallocation of seats currently allocated to OzJet Airlines, which Strategic purchased from its administrator earlier in the year.

Confidence returns with strong accommodation forward bookings

Holidaymakers are pre-booking their Christmas accommodation in advance, with Mantra Group properties in south-east Queensland, North Queensland and northern NSW experiencing their strongest forward bookings yet, the leading hospitality group says.

Mantra Group - one of Australia’s leading operators of branded corporate and leisure accommodation with over 140 properties under the Peppers, Mantra and Breakfree brands – has recorded strong bookings, particularly on the Tweed Coast.

Mantra CEO Bob East said the results showed a marked increase in consumer confidence.

“We’ve had particularly strong bookings at Mantra on Salt Beach and Peppers Salt Resort and Spa, both at Kingscliff, where we operate over 750 rooms,” Mr East said.

“After a tough year and pent-up demand, customers are booking early to ensure they secure their preferred accommodation over the Christmas holiday accommodation.

“This shows how highly Australians value local holidays, especially beachside resorts.

“People are feeling better about the economy and life in general, and are very much looking forward to the Christmas holidays.

“Our call centre is now receiving over 1500 calls a day, more astounding is the Web traffic numbers over the last month, we have averaged 25 500 unique visitors a day.”

In comparison to last year the group is holding 15% more occupancy than the previous year.

With 3,500 employees, Mantra Group manages around 140 properties and approximately 15,000 rooms across the corporate and leisure market in Australia and New Zealand.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New System to Identify Hotel Room Trashers

Ubid4rooms Debuts System to Help Travellers Avoid Guests Behaving Badly

Australia’s world-first flexible rate website,, has become the first accommodation site in the country to activate a new service – Guests Behaving Badly – that automatically alerts hotels to troublesome customers at the time of booking.

Guests Behaving Badly (GBB) - - provides hospitality members access to an online database used by hotels to identify guests with a recorded history of anti-social, intimidatory and destructive behaviour. GBB members can also lodge verified complaints against hotel customers on the database.

The founder of, Gary Berman, said the GBB database would automatically alert hoteliers if customers booking via Ubid4rooms were on the database.

“We’ve introduced access to the GBB system via Ubid4rooms to help hotels avoid troublesome customers and ensure consumers enjoy a trouble-free stay,” Mr Berman said. “Prevention is better than a cure and what GBB does is provide peace of mind and security for everyone staying in a hotel and those who manage and own the property.”

Mr Berman said hospitality providers were keen to minimise the hefty cost and effects of inappropriate behaviour such as theft, vandalism, large parties, loud noise , offensive behaviour and misuse of facilities.

“The vast majority of hotel customers are dream guests but there are individuals who have little or no respect for the property or rights of others and GBB helps hotels pro-actively manage this risk. We felt GBB was an important service to offer Ubid4rooms customers and the properties who bargain with our customers to fill beds.” allows travellers to make their own offers for rooms up to 28 days in advance at rates better than those advertised. Unlike e-bay auctions, bidders don’t compete against other bidders and confirmation is provided within three hours, often minutes. The process results in a confidential, one-off deal struck directly between the hotel and the customer.

More than 700 properties across Australia are now ‘haggling’ with consumers on the site, including premium properties such as Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast.

“Consumers have become much more savvy and aggressive in their hunt for good deals so hotels need to be more flexible on rates and realise that profits can still be achieved through controlled discounting,” Mr Berman said. “Nothing changes if nothing changes so our bidding system is an ideal way for accommodation providers to try something different to boost business. And GBB is a great new way for hotels and travellers to safeguard their security.”

* For more information on Guests Behaving Badly, visit

Monday, September 21, 2009

PATA Gold Awards 2009

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 PATA Gold Awards, sponsored by the Macau Government Tourist Office. This year the awards recognise the achievements of 24 separate organisations and individuals.

For 2009 there are 23 PATA Gold Awards to be presented, with multiple awards going to Hong Kong Tourism Board, Korea Tourism Organization and Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. The awards ceremony takes place on September 25th during PATA Travel Mart 2009 in Hangzhou, China (PRC).

PATA Grand Awards are presented to the outstanding entries in the four principal categories: Marketing, Education and Training, Environment and Heritage. This year the Grand Awards go to Visa Worldwide Pte. Limited (Marketing); Bintan Resorts (Education and Training), Spice Village Thekkady, India (Environment) and Temple Tree, Malaysia (Heritage).

Full list of 2009 PATA Gold Awards

New Zealand Voted Best at Destination Branding

New Zealand has come out on top in a survey asking tourism organisations from around the world to rank the best destination brands.

The survey, published by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and European Travel Commission (ETC) asked 165 National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) what countries they considered to be good at destination branding.

New Zealand received the most nominations, ranking the country as 'best' at destination branding – ahead of India, Spain, Australia, Dubai and Ireland.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton said that, coming in the same year as the 10th anniversary of 100% Pure New Zealand, the survey was a fantastic reinforcement of the effort and perseverance that has gone into building the brand.

Survey respondents cited the consistency and credibility of 100% Pure New Zealand. They said the strong imagery of the campaign, the instantly recognisable brand and the strong positioning statement ("100% Pure") set New Zealand ahead of other destinations.

Respondents praised New Zealand for addressing the country's isolated location "at the edge of the world" and turning that into a positive.

They also considered the brand as successful in "going beyond tourism" to pull-together a number of different sectors under a unified country proposition.

George Hickton said the result recognised the efforts of the tourism industry over the past 10 years in supporting the campaign and delivering on the promises made through '100% Pure New Zealand'.

"A successful brand like 100% Pure is more than just a logo and advertising. The efforts of the tourism industry to deliver quality, innovative products and to reflect the values of the brand in their own work has been critical to its success."

The survey was part of a wider study on what NTOs perceive is important in destination branding, their current branding practices and willingness to share.

The results were published in the recently release ETC/UNWTO Handbook on Tourism Destination Branding.

Find out more about 10 Years of 100% Pure New Zealand:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

ZUJI Awarded 5 Stars For Medical Insurance

Online travel agent ZUJI Australia has been awarded a prestigious 5 star rating for its Medical Travel Insurance product by Canstar Cannex, Australia's leading financial research and ratings agency. a website that rates and compares insurance and financial products. Canstar Cannex's inaugural report - declared ZUJI's Medical Travel Insurance the winner alongside Worldcare Travel Insurance, for offering significantly cheaper premiums for comparable coverage than is available on many other online travel sites, and for its unlimited overseas medical cover.

Peter Smith, General Manager ZUJI Australia says "We are thrilled to have our medical insurance product recognised as excellent value to consumers in such a significant and objective industry comparison. At ZUJI Australia we are dedicated to helping holidays happen. Making great travel insurance available at low premiums is one way we do this. Another is our recent step to remove all online bookings fees on our web site, thereby making travel more affordable than ever before in these tough economic times."

ZUJI Australia's award-winning medical insurance can be purchased online at  

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Aussies still avoiding Fiji despite massive holiday discounts

A Special Industry Insider Report by John Alwyn-Jones, eTravelBlackBoard’s Special Correspondent

A Sydney Morning Herald Report this week says that despite, massive discounts at luxury resorts, Australian travellers are still avoiding Fiji, with the latest figures showing Australians and New Zealanders are still staying away from Fiji and especially the resort strip of Denarau.

The report goes on to say that visitor arrivals to Fiji are down 30% compared to this time last year and occupancy rates are below 50%, a drop from the healthy 70% in previous years, with visitors to five star resorts including those on Denarau most affected, despite massive discounts of up to 80% offered on hotels and flight deals designed to counter the slide.

On top of this, three major developments on the island have hit trouble in recent months, including receivership of a Hilton resort extension that was funded by dozens of Australian and New Zealand investors.

eTravelBlackboard has reported an number of times on the challenges facing Fiji and in particular I have said for a number of years that discounting is not the answer for hotels, because if affects the price point and perceived value of that room or stay in the eye of the consumer, which when discounted is then very hard to get back to previous values. Offering added value is the key, but never affecting that perceived value or price point.

Fiji has also had more than its fair share of problems over recent years, not least of all the coups, but also the January floods deterred thousands from visiting over summer and of course, the global economic downturn has had its effect – and of course, the perception of the country's political leadership by a military regime has also taken its toll. Much of that though is actually is media hype in Australia and New Zealand with travel advisories being used as political sanction tools by Australia and New Zealand.

Please be clear, there is no risk whatsoever in visiting Fiji and I will be doing so again very shortly. Also, be clear that by Aussies and Kiwis not visiting Fiji, it is only the people of Fiji that suffer, not the political adversaries!

I have just returned from Vanuatu and interestingly business is booming, with hotels full and yields and rates strong – there are also plenty of Aussies and Kiwis in Vanuatu, with no sign of the effects of an economic downturn.

In Fiji, as reported by the SMH, there is no doubt that Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s refusal to return the country to democracy before his chosen election date of 2014, the suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum, the cutting of aid funding from the European Union and, just this week, ousting from the Commonwealth, are all playing their part in Fiji's tourism slump, but it also appears that Fiji’s, recent “Fiji Me” ad campaign has had less impact than anticipated or needed to boost visitor numbers to Fiji.

Dr Steven Ratuva, a Fiji academic at the University of Auckland, said in the SMH that politics plays a big part in Fiji's tourism slump, adding, "The regime might not like to think so but the coup and the unsettling relationship between Australia and New Zealand and the Fijian government is undoubtedly putting people off visiting," and, "It's not that it's unstable there. It's actually quite fine at the moment.” "But people don't like the rift and have a lurking fear things could boil up." He also says tourism is an extremely sensitive industry, and even though the suspensions do not alter security in Fiji, it affects the "imagination" of tourists, adding, "They imagine something has changed and that's enough to stop them going," the specialist says.

He also says that the paradox is that a 2007 survey showed Fiji was one of the top 10 marketable names in the world, with several European businesses using the word to benefit from "romantic" connotations, adding, "And yet you have Fiji itself struggling to use the benefits of that very sellable name to generate economic benefits".

Other islands in the pacific, including Vanuatu, who are about to launch an extensive new campaign and brand, and Samoa and Cook Islands are all sadly for Fiji, cranking up their tourism to take advantage of Fiji’s problems with Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, an open critic of Fiji's regime gleefully telling the SMH that their campaign was working at Fiji’s expense, adding, "Of course, because Samoa is better". Mr Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi – what happened to friendship and cooperation when a fellow Pacific Island was suffering?

Very strangely, the International Federation of Journalists this week also appears to have joined the trash Fiji campaign, calling for travellers to rethink any plans to holiday there, with the group's Sydney based spokeswoman, Deborah Muir, telling Radio Australia," Tourists who go there blithely unaware of the reality of the quite severe repressions being inflicted on the people of Fiji are supporting a dictatorship with their tourist dollars,".

If all tourists around the world followed Ms Muir’s advice, their travel would be restricted to very few countries indeed!

Frank Yourn, executive director of the Australia-Fiji Business Council, thankfully says that advice is misguided, saying, "It's not a matter of propping up the dictatorship; it's really a matter of trying to ensure the economic survival of people who are really suffering quite badly."

Dr Ratuva also dissuades tourists from voting with their feet, saying, "Life is too complex for travellers to be basing their travelling decisions on who is running the country", adding, "Think of George Bush for instance, and John Howard, too" “I didn't like Howard's political stance but I still went to Australia. "That's just life."

I fully agree with Frank Yourn and Dr Ratuva and it is time that the Australian and New Zealand Governments to get off Fiji’s back or at least the Fijian people’s backs, because at the end of the day, they and not the Fijian Government are the only people that suffer as a result from Aussies and Kiwis not visiting Fiji.

Over and above all their lofty political objectives, it is a mystery to me what Australia and New Zealand and for that matter Fiji, all hope to gain by continuing their ongoing disagreements. Somebody, somewhere, potentially even at United Nations level needs to intervene in this ongoing political impasse or the financial and social consequences for the Fijian people, tourism and the overall economy, will be very serious indeed with the potential of Fiji’s tourism industry collapsing in heap – with the consequence then being that the rescue will be a lot more serious than it is now – perhaps that is what the Australia and New Zealand Governments want?

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places