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Saturday, June 30, 2012

New and increased flights bring more international travelers to Alaska

Russia’s Yakutia Airlines is new to Alaska (Alexander Sizov -

New and increased services to Alaska by several international airlines have been announced, allowing even more international travelers to visit. Russia’s Yakutia Airlines is completely new to the state offering seven summer flights to Anchorage from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Korean Air will operate flights between Japan and Alaska for the first time (four summer flights) joining its current seven summer flights from Korea to Alaska. Japan Airlines will start service from a few new cities (Naha, Kagoshima, Matsuyama, Okayama, and Niigata), offering 21 summer flights. German airline Condor has increased its total number of flights to 73 this summer. According to a new state research study released in April by the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, international visitation to Alaska is on the rise, increasing 10 percent to 154,000 visitors during the summer of 2011. Australia recently topped the United Kingdom as the primary origin of international visitors, followed by Europe and Asia. For more information on visiting Alaska, go to

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Virgin Australia in bed with Virgin America - Marriage approved

VIRGIN America has received approval from the US Dept of Transportation (DOT) to allow the ‘VA’ code of sister-carrier Virgin Australia on US routes (TD 12 Jun).

The “initial” list of codeshare points Virgin Australia will display its code on Virgin America metal are from Los Angeles to Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Ft Lauderdale, Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle and the US capital, Washington DC.

VA/VX had requested expedited approval to begin marketing the services as soon as possible.

Overnight, the DOT said the statement of authorisation to display the VA code was limited to points in the United States.

The agreement is Virgin America’s first codeshare alliance.

New InterContinental resort opens in Vietnam



(VIETNAM) June 2012: One of South East Asia's most anticipated new resorts, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort has opened its doors, heralding a new standard of luxury accommodation in Vietnam.

The Bill Bensley-designed InterContinental Danang is nestled within one of the region's most exquisite locations, cascading through rainforest-covered mountain slopes that act as a natural amphitheatre for the resort's private bay on the Son Tra Peninsula.

All 197 of the resort's rooms, suites and beachfront villas are designed to take full advantage of their location and panoramic South China Sea views.  Large terraces and shuttered windows elevate private living spaces that draw in the surrounding jungle and crystal bay, and add depth to the spacious rooms that start from 70sqm.

Taking six years to design and build, InterContinental Danang is the latest creation of one of Asia's most celebrated resort designers, Bill Bensley.  The design features a rich template of earthy colours and bold features, and marries traditional and contemporary designs with the pristine surrounding landscape.  Everything, down to the in-room dining cutlery, was specifically selected to create an aesthetic that sets InterContinental Danang apart from any other Vietnamese resort.

Also highly anticipated is the arrival of the first three-star Michelin chef in Vietnam, Michel Roux at InterContinental Danang's signature restaurant, La Maison 1888. Founder of renowned UK restaurant The Waterside Inn, Roux will bring some of the world's most celebrated French cuisine to the Son Tra Peninsula.

La Maison 1888 is one of three restaurants and two bars spread throughout the resort.  Guests can swim in the bay or one of the resort's outdoor pools, experience Spa InterContinental and make use of the many entertainment and recreation facilities available.  The resort's youngest guests will also be delighted by InterContinental's signature kid's club, Planet Trekkers.

The extraordinary new resort will be bought to life through the exemplary, yet understated service that has elevated InterContinental to become one of the world's most respected luxury hotel brands.

Now open, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is a half-hour drive from Danang International Airport, and only a few kilometres from the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of The Imperial City of Hue, The Old Town of Hoi An and the My Son ruins.

To celebrate the opening, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is offering special rates on stays between June 1, 2012 and January 1, 2013, from US$220 per night*. The rate includes complimentary daily buffet breakfast for two, high-speed Wi-Fi access, 10% off dining at the resort's Citron Restaurant, Barefoot Café or L_o_n_g Bar, and complimentary shuttle bus service into Danang City and Hoi An Ancient Town.

For more information or to book, phone +84 (0) 511 393 8888, email or visit

*Subject to availability, blackout dates and terms and conditions apply.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rent an Apartment in Paris

More than 100 apartments situated in the best Parisian neighbourhoods for short term leisure rental is a respected player in the business of short-term apartment rental in Paris. Backed by an established apartment management company, through innovation and quality service, Paris travellers benefit from this unique and thoroughly personal service.

Finding suitable, comfortable, well-located accommodations at below-hotel rates whilst visiting Paris for a week or a weekend is a daunting, if not impossible task.
Hotel package deals often compromise on service and quality. Renting via flat swapping or direct from owners is risky and can result in last-minute disappointment. Likewise there is no continuity in experience (cleanliness, quality) from one location to another.

In response, ApartmentParis has created an alternative solution positioned between these two extremes. Even though it is not a hotel, clients are guaranteed hotel standard services such as decoration and furniture suited to the travellers’ needs, wifi access, housekeeping service, fresh sheets and linens.

While each apartment can be adapted to the traveller’s needs, they all come with a basic service: sheets, linens, cable & satellite TV, high bandwith internet and wifi. Prices start at 55 euros ( 75 dollars or 46 £ )per night for a studio apartment in off-season.

ApartmentParis manages more than 100 apartments that can accommodate from two to eight people, perfect for single travellers, couple or families. Business travellers can also benefit from apartments located close to the main Paris train stations.

All flats are located near tourist attractions such as the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées, Montmartre, and in charming neighbourhoods like the Marais, Buttes Chaumont, Canal Saint Martin…

Reservations and apartment availability information are online at

A bilingual (French/English) call centre is available to assist travellers with their plans.

Their positioning between a hotel and person-to-person rental service permits ApartmentParis to address a large niche. Current economic circumstances reinforce the necessity to make travel budgets stretch as comfortably far as possible. The competitive price combined with the quality and flexibility of ApartmentParis’ flats adds an extra dimension of comfort (economic and physical) to your Paris travel plans.

For further information:

Allianz Survey Finds Summer Travel Continues to Rebound

By Theresa Norton Masek

* Social media featuring in more travel plans

More Americans will take a vacation this summer, and more are getting an early start, according to the third annual Allianz Travel Insurance Summer Vacation Confidence Index released by Allianz Global Assistance USA. Fifty-seven percent of Americans are likely to hit the road this season, up 3 points from last year and exceeding the 50 percent of Americans who say they typically take a summer vacation, traveling at least 100 miles from home for a week.

The vacation uptick is the result of those reporting they have already gotten away — 13 percent, up 5 points from last year — paired with the 44 percent of Americans who are confident they’ll take a vacation before summer’s end.

The index also found that America’s “vacation deficit” is shrinking. Measured by taking the proportion of those who think a vacation is important but are not confident that they’ll get one this year, the deficit dropped to 18 percent, down 6 points from last year and 10 from the year before.

“With the rebound of summer vacation travel, we’ve seen an increase in travel insurance sales,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications with Allianz Global Assistance USA. “This is especially true for bigger ticket purchases such as trips to London for the Olympics — the travel highlight this season.”

Social media continues to grow in popularity when planning vacations. Among those confident they will take a summer vacation, 52 percent are using social media for inspiration. Facebook is the favorite site, used by 29 percent; runner-up sites include TripAdvisor (14 percent), Twitter (6 percent), and Pinterest (4 percent).

Young adults age 18-34 are more likely to peruse Facebook, tweet, and pin to plan their travel (73 percent), than those age 35-55 (45 percent) or those 55-plus (24 percent).

Most seasoned travelers have one airport nightmare that they wouldn’t want to relive; however, sometimes hiccups are inevitable. Asked how they would spend time if their flight was delayed for hours, most said they would immediately call their travel agent or get in line to rebook (28 percent), while others would catch up with friends and family via phone, Skype, or email (24 percent), nap (19 percent) or load up on celebrity magazines (9 percent). Young adults said they are more likely to jump on their cells or computers to connect with friends and family (33 percent vs. 24 percent for travelers generally). And women were twice as likely as men to buy magazines (11 percent vs. 6 percent).

While the generational divide on how travelers use social media is unsurprising, the survey also found that there is a strong split between young adults, middle-aged travelers, and older Americans when it comes to attitudes on how to handle a flight delay and other airport mishaps.

Younger Americans are more likely to have committed an airport faux pas — overpacking and arriving late — causing them to miss or almost miss their flights. Among their top confessions: they are more likely to have overpacked and paid extra fees for checking luggage than travelers generally (30 percent vs. 23 percent) and they are more likely not to have left enough time to get to the airport (24 percent vs. 20 percent).

Among travelers generally, 7 percent say they didn’t follow security regulations or had prohibited items in their luggage and missed or nearly missed their flight as a result. Four percent said they have missed or nearly missed their flight because they’ve sat in the airport lounge/bar for too long.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Hilton brand for Australia

Source: Travel Daily

DoubleTree by Hilton to debut down under

Hilton Worldwide has announced the "breakthrough" launch of its DoubleTree by Hilton brand in the Australian market under a deal with Ramtron Australia.

The 164-room DoubleTree by Hilton Karratha in WA's Pilbara region will be the state's second Hilton-branded hotel, joining the Parmelia Hilton Perth, and is slated to open by mid-2014, complementing the group's 15 other properties spread across Australasia.

"The hotel is strategically located to support the ever growing demand from the resources sector," Robert Scullin, vice president of development, Australasia Hilton Worldwide said today.

Global head Rob Palleschi said: "The DoubleTree by Hilton, Karratha shows our commitment to providing comfortable, amenity-rich hotel experiences for business travellers as we create a rewarding and friendly hotel experience for the DoubleTree by Hilton brand globally."

The eight-storey hotel will feature 20 apartments, a fitness centre, outdoor pool and three function rooms.

Hilton Worldwide has more than 300 DoubleTree by Hilton properties in 24 countries.

More information in tomorrow's issue of Travel Daily.

PNG cultural festivals now underway

tourists to gain cultural insight

The 2012 cultural festival season in Papua New Guinea is now in full swing, running from June until November each year, offering intrepid travellers an authentic PNG experience only a few hours flight from home.

Important aspects of Papua New Guinea culture, such as tribal dance and song (known as Sing-Sings), elaborate masks and costumes and traditional rituals take place at these annual events – which still today only draw a small crowd of fascinated tourists.

Peter Vincent, CEO of PNG Tourism Promotion Authority says the festivals provide genuine insight into the PNG traditions as the events are not actually held for tourist entertainment.

"There are important meanings behind each of the events that are taking place in PNG over the next couple of months and these festivals will continue to happen in local communities whether tourists attend or not," he said.

"This is what makes it such a unique experience for overseas travellers – they get to see the real PNG in all its glory."

Festivals such as the National Mask Festival in Rabaul and the Mt Hagen Show are slowly growing in notoriety, but there are smaller festivals like the Kenu and Kundu Festival in Alotau, the eastern tip of Papua New Guinea and the Crocodile Festival in Ambunti that are virtually unknown to tourists – providing that highly sort after – 'last frontier' experience.

While some festivals are not publicised and known only through local word of mouth, there are a growing number of events that Australians can research and attend with organised tours.

Kenu & Kundu Festival 2– 4 November, Alotau, Milne Bay Province
Canoes and the Kundu drums are a significant aspect of the lives of the people of Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. Both the Canoe and the Kundu were widely used in olden times in ceremonies and rituals and were meticulously crafted from special woods under strict customs, to derive the best results and to appease the gods.

Crocodile Festival- 8-9 August 2012, Ambunti District, East Sepik Province
The Sepik River is home to one of the world's largest populations of fresh and saltwater crocodiles. In respect for the strong bond shared between locals and crocodiles, this festival marks the coming of age ceremonies where many village men are given tattoos resembling crocodile skin. This WWF supported festival is intended to increase enthusiasm for conservation while maintaining local traditions.

Hiri Moale Festival- 14-17 September 2012, Port Moresby
The Hiri Moale Festival celebrates and re-creates the epic trading journeys of the Motuans of the Central Province. The voyages started when Edai Siabo of Boera village befriended a sea god and built the first lakatoi, or dugout canoe. Historically, these journeys contributed to the development of PNG's national language, Hiri Motu.

The best way for visitors to get off the beaten path is to celebrate PNG's dance, music, and artistic traditions alongside the locals. These remote festivals celebrate PNG's vibrant artistic heritage:

National Mask Festival – 18-21 July 2012, Kokopo, East New Britain Province
Warwagira Mask Festival- 13-17 July, 2012, Kokopo, East New Britain
Kavieng District Cultural Show- 21-23 July, 2012, Kavieng
Mt Hagen Show-10-12 August 2012, Mt Hagen, Western Highlands Province
Goroka Cultural Show- 14- 16 September, 2012, Goroka, Eastern Highlands

PNG's many maritime themed events also celebrate the importance of wildlife and environment in PNG culture:

Tembin Shark Calling Festival - 20- 23 July, 2012, Tembin Village
Tefa Canoe Festival- 27-28 Spetember, 2012, Boang Island

For further information about PNG and its popular upcoming festivals and recommended tour operators visit

Monday, June 25, 2012



Park Hyatt Sydney has re-established itself as Sydney's premier hotel when it was recently named in two prestigious awards after a much anticipated reopening in March 2012. The hotel was listed in the internationally acclaimed Travel + Leisure magazine's IT List: The Best New Hotels 2012 and awarded the title of Best Capital City Hotel in the esteemed 2012 Australian Gourmet Traveller Travel Awards.

Resurfacing after an 11-month transformation, the newly renovated 22-year old harbour front luxury hotel reopened its doors to a dramatic overhaul and recognition. Noted for its high quality of service and luxurious residential interiors, this is the fourth time Park Hyatt Sydney has been awarded a Travel + Leisure award and a first in the Gourmet Traveller Travel Awards.

The hotel has received eight international and Australian awards in 2011 and 2012 including Best Australian Hotel - Luxury Travel Magazine Annual Gold Awards 2012, Gold List – World's Best Hotels 2011 - Conde Nast Traveler USA, Travel + Leisure World's 500 Best Hotels 2011 and Travel + Leisure 2011 World's Best Service 2011.

"Park Hyatt Sydney is honoured to be recognised as a preferred luxury hotel in Australia. This recognition is a reflection of the hotel's continued commitment to service excellence in providing our valued guests with a residential style home that reflect the unique characteristics of our harbour city in one of Sydney's most coveted locations", said General Manager Andrew Mensforth.

Emerging from a dramatic transformation, the newly redesigned Park Hyatt Sydney brings a new level of contemporary luxury to the edge of Sydney Harbour. With an unrivalled harbour front location between the world-famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, Park Hyatt Sydney offers guests an intimate, residential-style hotel with architecture and art that reflects the Australian landscape. Three new rooftop suites, including the exclusive Sydney Suite with near 360 degree panoramic views of Sydney Harbour and a private outdoor terrace, cater for the most discerning traveller.

Friday, June 22, 2012

United Airlines welcomes Copa Airlines, Avianca and Taca Airlines to the Star Aliiance

United and avianca begin codesharing

United Airlines today welcomes Avianca, TACA and Copa Airlines to the Star Alliance, the world's leading global airline network, offering United customers additional reach into Latin America. 

In conjunction with this announcement, effective today, United is placing its code on Avianca-operated flights to cities in Colombia, and Avianca is placing its code on certain United-operated flights within the U.S. This is in addition to United's relationship with TACA, which dates back to 2006.

United has a longstanding and broad relationship with Copa, including codesharing on Copa flights from its Panama hub and United flights in the U.S. United also serves as Copa's mentor in its entry into the Star Alliance.

"United heartily welcomes Copa, Avianca and TACA into the Star Alliance," said Hershel Kamen, senior vice president Alliances, Regulatory and Policy for United Airlines. "Avianca, TACA and Copa customers now have access to an unprecedented network with more than 21,500 daily Star Alliance member flights worldwide. Meanwhile, current Star Alliance customers will benefit from improved access to Latin America."

Through the Star Alliance, members of United's loyalty program, MileagePlus, and the Avianca and TACA frequent-flier program, LifeMiles, now can earn and redeem mileage anywhere on either airline's route network. MileagePlus is also Copa's loyalty program. Further, United Club members and MileagePlus Premier members with Star Alliance Gold status traveling on a same-day Star Alliance member flight can access Copa, Avianca and TACA lounges at the flight's departure city. Avianca, TACA and Copa Star Alliance Gold members can access United Club lounges worldwide when traveling on a same-day Star Alliance member flight from the airport lounge location. United and Copa jointly operate the lounge at Tocumen International Airport in Panama.

SITA report: Mobile apps transform how airlines do business

Survey shows 93% of airlines choose mobile as top IT investment

The way airlines are doing business is undergoing a fundamental transformation as mobile apps permeate every step of the journey and core aspects of operations. The 14th annual SITA/Airline Business IT Trends Survey shows 93% of airlines have mobile services for passengers as a top investment priority over the next three years, with 58% investing in major programs.

The survey, which represents the views of more than half of the world's top 100 carriers, reports that airlines are focusing IT investment in the key areas of improving passenger service, reducing the cost of business operations and revenue generation. Passenger service is the top priority and mobile services for passengers tops the list with 58% of airlines planning major programs in the next three years. An additional 35% are investing in research and development. In the area of sales and distribution, mobile has taken hold with more than half of airlines already selling tickets via mobile devices and by 2015, 89% of the airlines plan to do so.

But the real transformation is not just in the area of sales, this year's survey shows that airlines are using mobile apps right across the business. By 2015, almost nine out of ten airlines plan to have the following core services available via mobile: flight search, check-in, boarding passes, ticket purchase, flight status notification, ancillary services, with customer complaint handling and missing baggage management following closely

Half of the airlines have already implemented mobile services for flight search and check-in with close to half also providing boarding passes, ticket purchase and flight status notifications.

Launching the 2012 Airline IT Trends Survey, Francesco Violante CEO SITA, said: "This year's survey shows how airlines are committed to mobile across the whole business. Mobile apps are being used to improve the passenger experience, reduce operating costs and generate revenue. This is the second year that mobile services for passengers tops the list of investment programs and it is the adoption of mobile apps across sales, customer services and passenger processing that truly shows that airlines are committed to transformation."

Nine out of ten airlines are investing in social media over the next three years. Some 57% of airlines believe social media can play a significant role in promoting sales with 39% stressing its value in customer service. Four out of ten promote flights via social media already, and almost 90% plan to do so by 2015. Both social media and mobile open the door for a more personalized service, and 78% of airlines in this year's survey already have, or plan to, personalize sales offerings via their direct channels.

Over the last number of years, the SITA/Airline Business annual survey has shown the migration to mobile but the results this year show an absolute commitment from the airlines to a mobile future.

For further information go to

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Taiwan Tourism Bureau appoints PMACG as AU/NZ promotional agency

The Taiwan Tourism Bureau has officially appointed Sydney-based PMA Communications Group (PMACG) as its Australia/New Zealand promotional agency.

Announcing the appointment the Director of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau in Singapore, Arthur C.M.Hsieh who holds responsibility for the Australia/New Zealand region said the company's activity on behalf of the national tourism office would encompass strategy, creative, media, PR and event management on both sides of the Tasman.

Mr Hsieh added that the agency would work very closely with the Taiwan Tourism Bureau's Sydney-based Marketing Representative – Australia/New Zealand, Ms Pearl Lee on a day-to-day basis for the duration of the contract period.

A critical component of the overall agreement, he said, would be addressing visitor arrival targets which the bureau expects to see increase exponentially in the coming 12 months.

"Taiwan is very much a multi-faceted destination offering a host of new and exciting travel opportunities to the Australian and New Zealand markets," Mr Hsieh said.

"Our destination is full of surprises – we literally tick all the boxes with our unique culture, our quality, gourmet food experiences, fantastic shopping, superb spa and hot spring facilities, affordable, very easy to use transport systems and sightseeing.

"Add to that we offer a huge range of soft adventure activities ranging from trekking and mountain climbing to surfing some of the best waves to be found anywhere in northern Asia.

"Accommodation wise, we are geared to suit every type of traveller irrespective of their taste, requirement and budget.

"We really are a new and exciting choice for the Australian and New Zealand markets, both as a long stay destination or equally, as a new, alternative and interesting stopover destination for Europe bound traffic.

"We are delighted to be working closely with PMACG in the coming 12 months."

Day to day management of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau account by PMACG will be headed by Elissa Kent supported by Group Business Director, Matt McCarthy and Senior Communications Adviser, Mike Parker-Brown.

PMACG Managing Director, Paul McCarthy said the Taiwan Tourism Bureau appointment represented a major coup for the company at a time where it was moving to strengthen its stance as a leading communicationsprovider on the international tourism scene.

"This was an open pitch process that PMACG was extremely pleased to win and secure," 
Mr McCarthy said.

"Having the Taiwan Tourism Bureau on board not only represents a coup for our brand, it also reflects our ability, our diversity of skills and our experience in being able to deliver."


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Heightened opulence as guests of the luxurious Tower Club at lebua (Bangkok) now enjoy exclusive Acca Kappa products in suite

Heightened opulence as guests of the luxurious Tower Club at lebua (Bangkok) now enjoy exclusive Acca Kappa products in suite

Sophisticated Tower Club at lebua, Bangkok offers guests a deluxe haven high above the hustle and bustle of buzzy Bangkok, where you can enjoy five-star facilities, exceptional Thai hospitality and high-end dining and entertainment at the superb restaurants and bars of The Dome, Tower club at lebua – glamorously positioned high above the glittering city.

Adding to the air of indulgence, guests of the exclusive and spacious Tower Club suites - spread across the top nine levels of Tower Club at lebua will now enjoy pampering themselves with acclaimed Acca Kappa products – a well-known favourite of celebrities and royal families worldwide.

Tower Club guests will love the White Moss Collection – found nowhere else in Bangkok – which includes body lotion, shampoo, conditioner, soap and shower gel - which will entice the senses with their fresh, fragrant aroma.

But that's not the only way Tower Club guests are spoiled. Complimentary access to the Tower Club Lounge is your ticket to discreet personal service, gourmet canapés and beverages.

Round off your high-end holiday with a Thai cooking class package held by esteemed 'Chef de Cuisine' Prayong Khundongling who has worked in leading hotels in Thailand, India, Russia and the US; or an afternoon of high tea and champagne at the Tower Club Lounge.

Make the most of the panoramic views and deluxe facilities of your suite with an in-room massage before heading to dinner at one of the Dome, Tower Club at lebua's glamorous restaurants including: Sirocco (one of the world's highest alfresco restaurants); Mezzaluna (modern innovative fine dining) and Breeze (gourmet Asian) – as well as two chic bars.

Sky Bar offers an incredible open-air ambience of the stars above and the streets below- topped off by a stunning menu of inventive cocktails – while Distil is the ultimate destination for lovers of fine whiskeys, cognacs, champagne, Iranian caviar (Almas, Beluga Impérial Huso Huso, Ossetra and Sevruga Royal Réserve), fresh oysters, sushi, sashimi and hand-rolled Cuban cigars.

Now is the time to spoil yourself with a number of exceptional indulgent packages, including:

Tower Club Prestige Experience (Now – 26 Dec. 2013): Minimum 3 night stay with complimentary upgrade to a Tower Club Riverview Suite, round trip airport transfers, daily Ocean 52 drink voucher, a set dinner for two persons, late check-out. Rates start from AUS$ 270*++ per night.

Luxury Tower Club Package (Now - 26 Dec. 2013): Minimum 3 night stay with complimentary upgrade to a Tower Club Riverview Suite, round trip airport transfers, Ocean 52 drink, 3-course set dinner at Mezzaluna, Thai Temple or Thai palace tour. Rates start from AUS$295*++ per night.

*Prices as of 19 June 2012, subject to change and availability.

For reservations, please contact Tower Club at lebua on +66 (0) 624 9555 or


PMA Communications Group has appointed Mike Parker-Brown to manage the company's newly formed PR division.

Announcing the news PMACG Managing Director, Paul McCarthy said Parker-Brown's profile and experience both as a journalist and seasoned PR practitioner provided a solid fit for the company's existing and future client base.

"The development of a dedicated PR division has always been seen as key to PMACGexpanding its business activity and enhancing overall service delivery in all our areas of operation," Mr McCarthy said.

"This is especially the case in the Asia-Pacific region where we are now experiencing solid business gains - having Mike on board and heading up the new division is intended to play a major role in growing our business even further."

Sydney-based Parker-Brown is no stranger to the regional tourism industry where he has managed handled PR for several large organisations in recent years.

These include airlines, wholesale tour operators (both domestic and overseas-based), travel agency groups, hotels, cruise lines, industry associations, recruitment companies and national tourist offices.

Countries represented on a local basis include Indonesia, Hong Kong during the 1997 handover period, Oman and most recently Fiji where he had responsibility for Tourism Fiji's global PR activity for close on four years.

His experience also includes a stint as a senior media adviser with the Australian Trade Commission where he managed for several key portfolios including the Federal Government's Olympic business strategy and the Export Market Development Grant scheme.



PMACG (PMA Communications Group) is a full-service, integrated communications group of companies based in Sydney,Australia. With both local and international clients, its collective power and diversity of skills makes it a powerful presence in more than 10 countries around the world.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Scenic Tsar: the First New Ship Registered in Russia in 25 years

Scenic Tours today announced the successful registration of their small ship Scenic Tsar in Russia as the first 'new build' ship to be registered in Russia for 25 years. The Russian Maritime Authority classifies 'new build' as one that is at least 80 per cent new and Scenic Tsar (originally named ms Grin] has undergone a total reconstruction, the most extensive re-build ever undertaken in Russia, funded by Scenic Tours.

Scenic Tours Managing Director, Glen Moroney said that in order to operate a ship that met "both our world-class standards and the complex Russian regulations, we chose to embark on a total gut and re-build of an existing ship. Scenic Tsar is a new style of ship and will take the experience of river cruising in Russia to a whole new level." He said that due to the complete rebuild "from hull upwards," the Russian authorities ultimately decided to put Scenic Tsar through its stringent 'new build' ship registration process. Moroney added that Scenic Tours' objective is to "deliver the same high level of quality and service over all of our products", with professionally trained and experienced staff providing a standard of excellence.

With only its original steel hull, floors and ceiling remaining, Scenic Tsar now boasts a new deck of cabins, two new bars, a new lounge, a new restaurant, a new wellness area, a new galley with all new equipment, all new cabins (walls, showers, toilets, and all fittings), new air conditioning (main compressor, ducting and in cabin fan coils), new main engines and drive units, new generators, all wiring and electrical fittings, new plates on the steel hull, and all new furniture, curtains and soft furnishings.

Widely renowned for their world-class Scenic 'Space-Ships' which revolutionised river cruising in Europe, Scenic Tours are again setting the benchmark with Scenic Tsar, their first boutique small ship in Russia. Scenic Tsar will cater for a maximum of 112 guests who will experience the Scenic Tours signature of all-inclusive cruising .

93% of cabins have private, full-size balconies, stylish en suites, satellite TV, in-room safe and mini bar, and bottled water replenished daily. In addition to the luxurious new features and amenities, Scenic Tsar also includes complimentary Wi-Fi and an on board doctor. All meals are included and guests will enjoy both continental and Russian cuisine, whilst complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks are included with dinner.

Scenic Tours will be running the exclusive charter of the Scenic Tsar for the next five years with the inaugural taking place last Sunday, June 17 2012 from St. Petersburg to Moscow on the Scenic Tours 15 day Imperial Jewels of Russia River Cruise, including four days each in St. Petersburg and Moscow and visiting Mandrogi, Kizhi Island, Goritsy and two of the 'Golden Ring' cities. Guests will discover Russia's most iconic sites, and experience exclusive Scenic Enrich events, from lunch at an old-world wooden restaurant to a private ballet concert at the Palace of Prince Vladimir. A full list of dates and itineraries are at

Proudly Australian and unashamedly passionate, for 25 years Scenic Tours has been delivering the ultimate in all-inclusive touring experiences to unique and extraordinary places on every continent.

Viva Las Vegas ­ MTA¹s Alysha White pins her way to six-day Las Vegas trip

MTA's Alysha White must be hoping her luck will hold out at least until after she leaves Las Vegas later this year where she will spend six nights as a guest of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority and the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

Alysha won the trip when she attended the Sydney leg of a recent Las Vegas/Nevada State industry road show, her entry in a 'pin the location on the map' promotion earning her an opportunity in the prize draw where she then went on to win one of the major prizes.

Alysha's prize includes three nights at one of the eight hotels operated by the world-famous Caesar's Hotel & Casino group plus three nights in either the equally renowned The Venetian or The Palazzo.

Topping things off and giving Alysha the opportunity to see Las Vegas from a completely different perspective (and hopefully away from the gaming tables), her prize also includes a 'Maverick' helicopter tour of the city.

Commenting on the Las Vegas/Nevada State workshop, a very excited Alysha said it was one of the best travel agent functions she has ever attended.

"It was awesome – so much fun and very interactive," she said.

"In order to take full advantage of my Las Vegas prize I am also very excited to explore other regions of Nevada including the beautiful Lake Tahoe, where California and Nevada meet."

Pictured – Alysha White with Las Vegas/Nevada State workshop MC 'Vance Fontaine' aka comedian Patrick Duffy.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Come Play with Lightning McQueen and Mater in Cars Land, Offering Fuel-Driven Fun at Disneyland Resort

Radiator Springs Comes to Life at Disney California Adventure Park with Three New Attractions, Plus Characters and Familiar Places from the Movie ‘Cars’
The Happiest Place on Earth gets happier June 15 with the grand opening of Cars Land, the largest piece of the five-year expansion at Disney California Adventure Park. Cars Land adds 12 acres of immersive excitement to the park and offers freewheeling fun for everyone as it brings the town of Radiator Springs to life, just as guests remember it from the Disney Pixar movie “Cars.”

The thrilling additions of Cars Land, Buena Vista Street and the Carthay Circle Theatre, home of the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge at Disney California Adventure add to the storytelling magic of the Disneyland Resort, a world-class, family vacation destination in Southern California with two theme parks, three hotels and the Downtown Disney shopping and dining district.

“The crown jewel of our Disney California Adventure expansion, Cars Land is the extraordinary result of a close collaboration between the gifted filmmakers at Pixar Animation Studios and our talented Imagineers and cast members,” said Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company. “It’s also a spectacular example of our ability to take our characters and stories and bring them to life in new and unexpected ways.”

“More than five years ago, we embarked on a journey to realize Bob Iger’s vision of transforming Disney California Adventure with new attractions featuring our most iconic characters, including Mater, Lightning McQueen and the residents of Radiator Springs,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Cars Land immerses guests in the world of ‘Cars’ like never before and combines the imagination of Pixar with the creativity, innovation and legendary storytelling that are the hallmarks of a Disney Parks experience.”

Cars Land invites guests to take the off ramp right into Radiator Springs, “the cutest little town in Carburetor County,” where they will enjoy three family attractions showcasing places and characters from the movie: Luigi’s Flying Tires, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Radiator Springs Racers, one of the largest and most elaborate attractions created for a Disney theme park.

Themed shops and restaurants also look familiar to fans of the movie, including Flo’s V8 Café, Cozy Cone Motel and Ramone’s House of Body Art. The Radiator Springs locals are at home, so Lightning McQueen and Mater make appearances and pose for photos near the Cozy Cone Motel.

“We want guests to think they are on this great road trip and, in a way, almost like they are going home,” said Kathy Mangum, executive producer of Cars Land. “Cars Land will feel very familiar in so many different ways. I can’t tell you how many people have seen it and said ‘I can’t believe I am in Anaheim.”

Each attraction and facility will have its own personality, allowing guests to get to know more about the characters who live in Radiator Springs.

“A lot of the places you will find only inside Cars Land, so we took the theming and storytelling all the way through, in a way that guests will really feel as if the shops, restaurants and attractions are being operated by that character,” Mangum said. “Everywhere you look there is a funny little car nod. After all, it is a land built by cars.”

Many of the automotive winks were inspired by a research trip Imagineers took along Route 66. Others were inspired by working with the animators from Pixar.

"While I love all of the movies we've made at Pixar, the ‘Cars’ films are particularly close to my heart, so seeing Radiator Springs come to life at Disney California Adventure is a dream come true," said John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. "The artistry and attention to detail throughout Cars Land is absolutely incredible, and I couldn't be more proud of the teams at Pixar and Walt Disney Imagineering who worked side-by-side to make this project a reality."

The “Cars” gang gathers to prepare visitors for the big race in Radiator Springs Racers, the high-octane, indoor/outdoor adventure that revs through the beautiful mountains of Ornament Valley. Guests board cars, each with their own personality, for a scenic road trip that takes them through Radiator Springs, with a stop at either Luigi’s Casa Della Tires or Ramone’s House of Body Art. After getting some final racing tips from Doc Hudson, the cars zoom over the roadways in a nose-to-nose, high-speed race, never knowing which car may win.

Elsewhere in Cars Land, Luigi invites guests to test-drive his new shipment of Fettuccini-brand “Cuscino D’Aria” tires – which are just like riding on air (or being on an enormous air hockey table). At this festival of flying tires, riders lean left and right aboard Luigi’s Flying Tires, floating and bumping along in a 21st century attraction reminiscent of the classic Disneyland Flying Saucers attraction. Music plays and giant inflatable balls hover along the floor, adding to the fun.

Mater provides his own unique siren song, courtesy of a Junkyard Jukebox that has lured baby tractors into Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. There, the tractors dance to Mater’s hoedown tune, swinging guests around in trailers they are pulling behind them. It’s a “tow-si-do” square dance to a playlist of seven songs sung by Mater himself.

The streets of Radiator Springs are humming with entertainment, too. DJ, the ultimate party car - a big road-trippin’ mobile boom box with giant speakers and built-in disc changer – invites his crew to “DJ’s Dance ‘n Drive,” a spontaneous, interactive dance party. And Red the Fire Truck, with the help of his comic “Volunteer Fireman,” recruits guests of all ages to join “Red to the Rescue!” - helping water the flowers and clean up the town of Radiator Springs. (Prepare to get wet!)

The road leading into Cars Land is dotted with large animated neon signs reminiscent of the ‘50s era of cross-country travel along Route 66. As with other aspects of the land, the neon signs are three-dimensional representations of recognizable landmarks from the movie “Cars,” and they come to life each night at sundown when it’s cruisin’ time along the boulevard.

“Cars” fans and other interested shoppers will find a great selection of Cars Land and other Disney and Disney●Pixar gifts and souvenirs at the “local” retail shops in Radiator Springs. Although the interiors of most of these locales weren’t seen in the movie, they were created for Cars Land by Walt Disney Imagineers with their characteristic attention to detail, drawing on inspiration from vintage stops along historic Route 66.

Sarge’s Surplus Hut offers a broad selection of merchandise – kids clothing, costumes, hats, toys and plush – featuring Lightning McQueen, Mater and other “Cars” characters. Radiator Springs Curios is a country-style mercantile with special appeal for collectors of pins themed to all things “Cars.” The shop also stocks magnets, antenna toppers and license plate frames. Ramone’s House of Body Art features the signature items of the Low ‘n Slow Car Club and Champions Custom Speed Shop collections in t-shirts, work shirts, hats and accessories.

Dining options in Cars Land include Flo’s V8 Café, modeled on the quirky roadside eateries along old Route 66. The café serves full meals from a quick-service counter. A windowed “showroom” dining area and adjoining outdoor patio offer a breathtaking view of Cadillac Mountain Range and the vehicles zooming by in Radiator Springs Racers. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at Flo’s, and specialties include chicken tamale with scrambled eggs, brioche French toast with salted caramel and bananas, home-style rotisserie classics such as pork loin or New York strip loin, plus the house-made Pie-O-Rama for dessert.

The distinctive “wigwams” architecture of Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel offers quick service cone-themed snacks from five different cones, including ice cream cones, chile “cone” queso, pop “cone” and other “cone”-coctions. Fillmore’s Taste-in celebrates the Cars Land “new age” hippie-van-in-residence. His food and beverage kiosk offers the “high-octane” natural health benefits of fresh fruits, bottled water and juices.

About the Disneyland Resort

The Disneyland Resort features two spectacular theme parks – Disneyland (the original Disney theme park) and Disney California Adventure Park – plus three hotels and the Downtown Disney District, comprised of unique dining, entertainment and shopping experiences. The Resort’s hotels are the luxurious, 948-room Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which also features 50 two-bedroom equivalent DVC units; the magical, newly renovated, 969-room Disneyland Hotel – both AAA Four Diamond properties – and the 481-room Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel with its “day-at-the-beach” fun. For information on attractions and vacations at Disneyland Resort, visit, call (866) 43-DISNEY or contact local travel agents.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Myanmar rejoins UNWTO

Myanmar president U Thein Sein has confirmed the country will initiate the process of restoring its membership of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

Officials in the country argue the destination is unique in that it can offer a relatively untouched, authentic experience that few countries around the world can still truly deliver.

“Tourism is a major sector of the economy not only for Myanmar but also for all countries around the world. It brings benefits to a country, boosts its economy and create employment opportunities,” said President Sein.

“We therefore request that our membership of UNWTO be restored so that we can obtain the relevant knowledge to further promote and develop our tourism sector.”

Meeting with Sein, UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai assured him that UNWTO stood ready to support Myanmar in taking full advantage of its “tremendous tourism potential”.

“Myanmar is a country abundant in natural and cultural resources, the foundation of any tourism sector,” said Rifai.

“Following talks with the Minister of Hotels, Tourism and Sport, U Tint San, UNWTO will lend its expertise in a number of areas, ranging from capacity-building to sustainable tourism practices and travel facilitation, to responsibly develop tourism for the benefit of all.”

According to long-term forecast from the UNWTO, Tourism Towards 2030, international tourist arrivals to Asia and the Pacific will increase from 204 million in 2010 to 535 million in 2030.

South Asia will be the fastest growing sub-region in the world, growing six per cent a year.

“Asia and the Pacific is the future powerhouse of global tourism and Myanmar is in a strategic position to receive a significant share of these arrivals,” said Rifai.

Friday, June 8, 2012

P&O Cruises to sail to PNG

Port Moresby: Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill has welcomed Australia’s leading cruise tourism company, Carnival Australia, into the country.

The Papua New Guinea Government and Carnival Australia made this joint announcement after a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Morauta Haus on the 10th of May, 2012. The entry of P & O Cruises is a major boost for PNG tourism and comes after years of hard work by the PNG Ports Corporation Limited and the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority in developing the cruise tourism sector.

Carnival Australia, which operates a combined fleet of seven P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises' vessels, recently announced that P&O Cruises will do a series of cruises to PNG beginning in October 2013. The joint announcement by Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, and Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, is the outcome of the ‘Cruise Ship Development Strategy’ produced by Australian-based CHART Management Consultants for the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority as part of its Tourism Master Plan 2007-2017.

In highlighting PNG’s strengths as a cruise destination, the strategy describes the region as ‘one of the last tourism frontiers, undiscovered by western travellers’ with areas only accessible to tourists by sea. Prime Minister O’Neill said: “The Government and people of Papua New Guinea welcome P&O Australia’s ship to our shores. We are taking steps to ensure cruising becomes an important contributor to our nation. Infrastructure improvements are part of that strategy.” In a sign of growing interest in PNG as a cruise destination, P&O Cruises recently added two dedicated PNG cruise itineraries to its 2013-2014 program. Pacific Dawn will sail to Milne Bay with calls at Alotau, Doini Island and the Trobriand Islands.

“We always believed in Papua New Guinea’s potential as a cruise destination and this has been confirmed by the strong interest following the announcement of P&O Cruises’ initial three cruises to the Milne Bay area,” Ms Sherry said. “Papua New Guinea is one of the most remote and untouched corners of the world, which is so close to Australia geographically but a million miles away in terms of its amazing scenery and fascinating culture.

“The PNG Government’s decision to accelerate funding for the port upgrade at Alotau and for necessary hydrographic surveys in the Trobriand Islands is a positive investment to achieve the economic benefits of regular cruise ship visits. “Our aim is for the initial October to April 2013-2014 cruise itineraries to PNG to be the first of many as this relationship continue to grow.”

Ms Sherry said the Milne Bay area would be popular with Australian travellers for its exquisite scenery, its colourful culture and for its historic World War II links for many Australian families.“It is very satisfying to see the strategy developed for PNG is already bearing such rich fruit,” said Ted Blamey, Principal of CHART Management Consultants. “By facilitating operations for cruise lines and developing port and island facilities, PNG plans to attract more ship visits and so bring real benefits to the national economy, local communities and related businesses. This is while being sensitive to the needs of the people, to their rich and unique cultures and diverse environments.

“Finally, the strategy is to deliver great guest experiences to those lucky enough to be cruising PNG. P&O’s leadership is greatly admired”, Mr. Blamey concluded.

“We are excited that P&O ships are soon to visit our beautiful Milne Bay region” said Mr Peter Vincent, CEO of PNG Tourism Promotion Authority.“The Strategy, which holds great promise for PNG, builds on this over time to extend the benefits to many other parts of the country”, he added. “We look forward to what we hope will be many visits by Carnival Australia’s fine fleet”.

PNG Ports CEO Stanley Alphonse said they were also excited about the entry of Carnival Cruises. “As part of PNG Port’s plans to support the development of cruise tourism, it has undertaken some new initiatives,” said Mr Alphonse.“These include the introduction of the Volunteer Youth Ambassadors as tour guides, temporary refund of pilotage charges for all bona fide cruise ships, rehabilitation and maintenance of our berths and wharves and purchase of air-conditioned inflatable tents for Port Moresby port. With the assistance of PNG Tourism Promotion Authority, inflatable tents will also be purchased for other ports frequented by cruise ships,” he said

Making Samoa’s beaches safer

The Samoa Tourism Authority is launching the second phase of their Surf Life Saving training for the tourism industry. Australian volunteers Erin Doyle and Emily Cox will be conducting the training with staff at resorts and beach fales.

Participants will be trained in the areas of water safety, rescue techniques, first aid and CPR. The participants in this year’s programme will have the opportunity to upgrade the Surf Survival Certificates gained last year to the higher level of a Surf Rescue Certificate.

The Surf Rescue Certificate is the minimum qualification required to be a patrolling Australia’s beaches. CEO of STA Sonja Hunter said the training will help to save the lives of tourists and Samoans. “Although Samoan beaches may appear calm to the untrained eye, strong rips and currents can catch swimmers offguard.

By having a greater number of trained staff, Samoan beaches will be a safer place for Samoans and tourists alike,” Ms Hunter said. “I want to encourage resort and beach fale operators to get their staff trained in Surf Life Saving.” Read more. (Source: Samoa Tourism Authority Media Release 08 June 2012)

2012 is year of tourism for Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands Tourism Year 2012 has been launched in Honiara. The theme is 'Tourism Development in Harmony with Nature and Culture. Speaking at the launch, Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo says the theme is to steer tourism on a sustainable path based on the diverse culture. Government has put in place a five year tourism action plan 2011-2015, which includes plans to provide funding to constituencies to develop tourism projects. Solomon Islands, the Prime Minister said has everything that can attract tourists including world heritage sites. Read more. (Source: SIBC/PACNEWS 04 June 2012)

Cook Islands Visitor numbers up 6 per cent for April

Asian tourists are coming to the Cook Islands in increasing numbers, with the group spearheading an increase in visitor figures for April 2012. The number of Asians coming to Rarotonga in April is up by 40 percent compared to the same month last year, with the statistics office recording 56 inbound tourists compared to 40 the year before. Working with numbers of a larger scale, Australia was up 14 percent, with 1633 visitors coming compared to 1437 the year before. The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation said this was underpinned by targeted trade campaigns and media activity in this market by the corporation over the last 18 months. Europe and New Zealand both sit at an 8 percent increase in tourist numbers compared to April the previous year. Read more. (Source: Cook Islands News Top News 05 June 2012)

Former McLeod's Daughters Homestead Opens as Boutique Accommodation

The iconic property featured as Drovers Run on the popular drama series McLeod's Daughters has opened as premium accommodation after undergoing a dramatic redevelopment.

Situated on the edge of the Barossa in South Australia, Kingsford homestead boasts six unique suites, each named after a previous owner of the historic property, as well as the private Stonemason's Cottage.

The 225 acre property is steeped fascinating history and provides stunning views across the valley, with a cobbled creek running through its centre and patches of scrubland sprinkled between grazing paddocks.

Kingsford also offers two particularly unique luxuries - an underground cellar, perfect for private dinners and wine tastings, and an outdoor bush bath among the gum trees.

All meals are prepared using seasonal Barossa produce by world-renowned chef Stuart Oldfield, who has drawn inspiration from regional dishes served at the time the homestead was built in 1856.

Visitors are invited to take part in a range of tailored experiences on offer including walking trails, private wine tours, picnics, billy tea and damper, hot-air ballooning, gliding, sheepdog demonstrations and spa treatments.

Further additions are planned for the near future including an all-weather pool house, spa treatment room and a redevelopment of the property's shearing shed, transforming it into a function room perfect for private or corporate events.

Owners Stefan and Leanne Ahrens purchased Kingsford in 2009 for its sentimental value, with Stefan recalling fond memories of playing there as a child with family.

He says he's proud to now be able to share the experience with a range of guests.

"The property will provide facilities that are adaptable to a range of uses, from corporate retreats to private intimate events, within the local, interstate and international markets."

The redevelopment has been assisted by $300,000 worth of grants from the South Australian Tourism Commission.

State Tourism Minister Gail Gago officially opened the property today, although bookings have already been filling up based on word of mouth.

"This is a very exciting day for tourism in the beautiful Barossa," Minister Gago said.

"Kingsford Homestead now offers a new experience for visitors to the Barossa and it is expected it will have an enormous appeal to interstate and overseas visitors to South Australia.

For more information visit


Hawaiian Airlines has commenced its long-awaited daily nonstop service between Honolulu and New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Flight HA 50 ("Hawaiian 5-0") now departs Honolulu daily at 3:05 p.m. and arrives in New York City at 6:55 the following morning.

Passengers from Australia can connect in Honolulu with Hawaiian's daily flight HA 452 from Sydney, which is scheduled to arrive at 10.55am, enabling travellers to clear US Customs then continue on the afternoon service to New York, one of the most popular US destinations for Australian visitors.

The return service, Hawaiian flight HA 51, departs JFK daily at 10:00 a.m. and arrives at Honolulu International Airport at 3:00 pm, enabling passengers to holiday in tropical Hawaii before continuing to Australia.

Hawaiian operates its Honolulu - New York flights with new Airbus A330-200 aircraft, seating 294 passengers - 18 in First Class and 276 in Economy Class.

The wide-body, twin-aisle A330s offer the comforts of a spacious interior, new generation seats with increased legroom, and a state-of-the-art, on-demand entertainment system in every seatback, providing a wide variety of movies and other programs, audio channels and video games.

Each system also offers a USB port allowing system connectivity for personal media players, with First Class customers enjoying larger in-seat LCD screens and iPOD compatibility.

Hawaiian Airlines offers daily Airbus A330-200 departures from Sydney to Honolulu. Through a partnership with Virgin Australia, passengers from 18 destinations around Australia can connect with Hawaiian's flights from Sydney.

For more information about Hawaiian Airlines or to make a booking contact travel agents, call Hawaiian reservations on 1300 669 106 or visit

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Garuda Indonesia reinstates service to Taipei

Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia's national airline, has just introduced a new daily service from Jakarta to Taipei following an eight-year hiatus on the route.

Commenting on the new daily service, Bagus Y. Siregar, Vice President for Garuda Indonesia Australia/SWP said: "The reinstatement of the Jakarta-Taipei service is part of our ongoing network expansion and shows our commitment to constantly improve our services. The new direct daily flights to Taipei will provide our Australian passengers with more choice and convenience when connecting to our vast Asian network.

"To celebrate the launch, we're delighted to be offering our Economy class customers exceptionally priced fares to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan and one of the region's most dynamic cities."

Daily flights will be operated by Garuda Indonesia's B737-800 NGs with a seating capacity of 156 passengers, comprising 12 in business class and 144 in economy class. 

For all travel bookings contact your preferred AFTA travel agent or call Garuda Indonesia on 1300 365 330.


Tourism Australia's Facebook page,, has achieved another major milestone - reaching more than three million fans worldwide.

Already Australia's largest fan page and the world's most popular tourism destination page, Tourism Australia's Facebook page has seen fan numbers increase by one million since January 2012.

Tourism Australia's Managing Director, Andrew McEvoy, said social media continued to play an increasingly significant role in the national tourism agency's global marketing push.

"We are in the business of telling the world about Australia's incredible tourism experiences but the beauty of social media is that it allows our fans to share their stories about what makes Australia a unique destination to visit in a compelling and authentic way," Mr McEvoy said.

"The success of our Facebook page demonstrates the value of advocacy and word of mouth endorsement as a marketing tool and this is an approach that we will continue to use in the next iteration of our global marketing campaign There's nothing like Australia," he added.

Tourism Australia has a strong focus on using multiple digital platforms as travellers increasingly venture online to research their holidays and share their holiday experiences. 

The Facebook page is integrated with Tourism Australia's wider social media activity, which includes Twitter, a dedicated YouTube channel, Google+, Instagram and an increasingly large presence on major Asian social media platforms Weibo and Tudou.

Tourism Australia's Executive General Manager Consumer Marketing, Nick Baker said that listening to the audience and placing fans at the centre of the social media strategy has been a critical factor in evolving the destination's presence on Facebook.

"A key part of our success so far has been to understand what our audience cares about and create social media activity around that," Mr Baker said.

"Collectively, our three million fans have a Facebook network of more than 350 million friends which means we have a huge potential reach.

"What we are finding is that the best way to get Australia's message out there is to encourage them to get their networks involved in telling their story.  We will continue to evolve our strategy to provide our fans with relevant content that they can be part of and build upon with us," Mr Baker said.

Twitter -


To celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee, passengers from the UK arriving into Sydney International Airport will be treated to a right royal welcome care of Virgin Atlantic.

Passengers arriving into Sydney on Monday 4th June will be welcomed with a sample of Twinings tea and a cupcake by Virgin Atlantics red hot cabin crew.

Belinda Gurd, Public Relations Mangers says:

"All around Britain, people are sharing lunch with their neighbours and holding royal street parties over the Jubilee weekend. 

As Britain's Flag carrier we wanted to bring a piece of this royal magic to people who had been in the air over the Jubilee weekend"

Arriving guests will receive a Twinings tea bag and cupcake, served on tiered cake stands as featured in Virgin Atlantics Upper Class on-board High tea.

Margy Vary, Marketing Manager says:

"We really felt it was our duty to share a time old English tradition of a cup of tea and cake with all those passengers arriving into Sydney. We wanted to help celebrate Her Majesties 60 years at the Throne the Virgin Atlantic way."

The giveaways add another layer to Virgin Atlantics Jubilee activities around the world. Travellers in New York can join the airline and head to Union Square or Union Jack Square as it will be known over the Jubilee weekend whist sunseekers in Barbados can enjoy a Caribbean style street party down in St Lawrence Gap. Virgin Atlantic are treating select guests at the Sydney Film Festival can take part in a tea party with a twist at the Lower Town Hall at a Mad Hatters Tea Party hosted by Virgin Atlantic's red hot cabin crew.


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Tony Charters
Having taken ecotourism from a concept to a thriving industry in the 1990's, Australia is now shying away from the term, according to tourism industry professional, Mr. Tony Charters.

Convenor of the 2012 Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference for Ecotourism Australia, Mr. Charters said Australia is recognised globally as home to some of the world's most outstanding ecotourism products and we must ensure continuity across our promotional messages to international visitors.
"The Asia-Pacific region recognises Australia as the leader in ecotourism and has grasped the concept with both hands. We need to make sure that we don't walk away from the term just as the rest of the world discovers it."

"Maybe Australia needs to re-read the book on ecotourism – the book it wrote in the early 1990's".

This year 300+ national and international ecotourism experts will converge on Cairns, Queensland for the 20th Global Eco Asia-Pacific Conference, 15-17 October 2012.

"With the focus on 'Optimising Eco Wonders' this is a unique opportunity for Australia to show to the world that we remain dedicated and committed to the concept of ecotourism" says Mr. Charters

The Global Eco Conference features a three-day interactive program incorporating the Asia-Pacific Tourism Forum and the Indigenous Tourism Forum, along with a wide range of networking opportunities to connect with other key players involved with ecotourism.

Full program details are available at

W |

Friday, June 1, 2012


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Australia's number one tour operator to Canada and Alaska, Scenic Tours, has launched their 2013 Canada, Alaska and United States of America program with a number of exciting enhancements including the introduction of increased touring in the United States of America.

With Scenic Tours, guests will experience the finest hotels, cruise lines and rail experiences. Scenic Tours is the only tour operator with the exclusive access to the full range of Fairmont hotels and Resorts in Canada; they are partners with the renowned Rocky Mountaineer including a guaranteed upgrade to Gold Leaf class, as well as with luxury Alaskan cruise lines, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises. All tours are in small groups with a maximum of 40 guests ensuring a more personalised experience and extra space.

All Scenic Enrich (once-in-a-life time, culturally enhancing experiences) and Scenic FreeChoice activities (allowing guests the freedom to choose at no extra cost), events and dining experiences are all included. All tours are fully escorted with local Tour Directors and Cruise Directors and include all tipping and gratuities.

The exciting news for 2013 is the extension of the USA program with six new itineraries where guests will discover the California Coast featuring Yosemite National Park, the Grand National Parks and Canyonlands, the historic Trails of the east, the Southern Belles and the Caribbean.

Also new for 2013 are three new Canada and Alaska itineraries. Guests will now be able to travel from Montréal to Victoria including the Rocky Mountains, Vancouver, Denali, Mount McKinley, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Ottawa and Québec City, plus an Alaskan cruise and Arctic Circle flight. Or travel from Toronto to Vancouver including Niagara Falls, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ottawa, Québec City, Victoria, Banff, Whistler, Lake Louise, plus a seven night Alaskan cruise including Glacier Bay and Juneau. In Alaska, guests will discover these extraordinary new destinations on the 28 day Rockies, Voyage of the Glaciers, Kenai Peninsula & the Arctic Circle tour.

Scenic Tours strives in maintaining their lead in Canada and Alaska touring and every year enhances the ultimate of the 5 star all-inclusive touring experience based on customer satisfaction.

Proudly Australian and unashamedly passionate, for 25 years Scenic Tours has been delivering the ultimate in all-inclusive luxury touring experiences to unique and extraordinary places on every continent.

Fiji's Vatulele Island remains closed (after three years)

Vatulele Island Resort
by Roderick Eime in Fiji (updated August 2015)

It appears the luxury A$800/night resort, Vatulele Island Resort, will remain closed indefinitely following its sale to controversial developer, Albert Bertini. According to a report in the NZ Herald, Hawera (NZ)-based rural services business and Hanover Finance victim Allied Farmers, borrowed NZ$11.6 million in 2009 to acquire the resort.

The 50-year-old Mr Bertini, apparently made overtures for the Fiji property, winner of the 'Fiji's Leading Resort' title at the 2010 World Travel Awards, as far back as July 2011 when he 'spontaneously' married 24-year-old, former teenage surf competitor Renee Hyman on the island. Bertini hit the news again when the company behind the refurbishment of the South Sydney Leagues Club went into receivership in March raising concerns that partners and pals, Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court, would also be exposed.

Quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald at the time, Mr Bertini said, despite his losses, "Nothing damages me."

A note on the Facebook page placed by outgoing receivers, ANZ (Fiji), dated 8 March 2012, reads:

We are pleased to announce the sale of the Vatulele Island Resort which has been completed on 29 February, 2012 to a Fiji incorporated company, Trivest International Limited, owned by Mr Albert Bertini, a prominent Australian property developer.

The new owner plans a significant expansion, refurbishment and upgrading of the Resort and replacement and upgrading of Resort infrastructure and accordingly the Resort is closing at the end of February, 2012 to allow this expansion, refurbishment and upgrading to proceed during March and April 2012. We see this as an exciting stage for this iconic property.

Accordingly, the Resort will not be open during the period of the refurbishment and all existing bookings will be refunded. Guests with bookings will be offered alternative accommodation at other leading resorts in Fiji. The Resort regrets any inconvenience to those holding bookings during the closure period.

It is expected that the new owner will make an announcement about the reopening of the Resort upon completion of the upgrading works. Having operated the Resort as Receiver/Managers since 14 June, 2011, we wish to thank our staff and partners for their co-operation and continued support for the Resort.

The note remains on the resort's Facebook page (fetched 1 August 2015)

The following report was posted in August 2013 on the JustLuxe website, supposedly heralding the reopening and probably from a press release, but no evidence can be found that bookings are in fact being accepted. Comment has been sought from the PR agent who issued the release.

The Vatulele Island Resort in Fiji Unveils New Look After $30M Renovation

Links to the Vatulele resort website mentioned in this report return 404 errors as does the Trivest Pty Ltd website.

29 October 2013: The High Court of Fiji determined that Trivest International Limited be wound up [see court document] following petitions from local creditors.

14 December 2013: Sydney Morning Herald PS Private Sydney - Andrew Hornery

Sun and Sandilands

It was no coincidence Kyle Sandilands washed up on a Fijian beach last week; he owns the island - at least part of it. The millionaire radio star has bought into the luxury private resort on Vatulele being developed by new owner, controversial former Sydney property developer Albert Bertini, who left these shores with a string of creditors in his wake.

Sandilands is one of a long line of celebrities of varying repute, including bad boy rocker Tommy Lee, who Bertini has courted in recent months, the heavily bejewelled and tattooed property developer convincing the stars to invest serious dough into the island, which has been billed as a paparazzi-proof enclave for the rich and famous to party on away from prying eyes.

Indeed when photographers were staking out the island in search for Sandilands last week, it was Bertini who appeared to be captaining a boat filled with local "muscle", which was soon circling the tropical paradise in search of those pesky snappers.

However, given Sandiland's 22-year-old girlfriend Imogen Anthony's penchant for uploading bikini-clad selfies while on the island, such measures to avoid being photographed would seem a little redundant for Sandilands, who thankfully avoided any swimwear snaps himself.

Meanwhile, PS hears the mood on the island has become more tense since Bertini's arrival, especially among the 1000 or so villagers who live on Vatulele and who are mostly employed at the resort.

"It's going from Fantasy Island to the Island of Dr Moreau, the locals are getting a little tired of all the so-called celebrities washing up here since Bertini took over," said one observer who witnessed Bertini's naval escapades, which included quizzing the local chief on any suspicious visitors to the island.

Another investor in the island has been former luxury car salesman Nasser Elkordi, a regular around the Kings Cross haunts of John Ibrahim and a close mate of Sandilands.

Bertini first became interested in the island back in July 2011 when he "spontaneously" married 24-year-old former teenage surf competitor Renee Hyman - half his age - on the island. The marriage happened as Bertini's Sydney property development company Trivest went into receivership after the refurbishment of the South Sydney Leagues Club, which has also since gone into receivership causing a headache for Bertini's former pals and business partners, Rabbitohs owners Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court.

The resort's website boasts staff are "unspoiled by Western influences, and to the delight of our guests, maintain their natural gentleness and warmth."

One wonders how long that will be the case given the arrival of the island's new "rock star" residents.

Malaysia Airlines takes delivery of Airbus A380


Malaysia Airlines joins Airbus A380 club

Malaysia Airlines has taken delivery of its first A380 aircraft at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, becoming the eighth carrier of the world’s largest and most eco-efficient airliner.

The new aircraft will fly non-stop from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, three times a week, from July 2nd 2012.

Malaysia Airlines’ A380 has a capacity of 494 seats, comprising of 350 economy and eight fully-flat first-class seats on the main (lower) deck, and 66 fully-flat business-class and 70 economy seats on the upper deck.

The airline has six A380 aircraft on order, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, with the second due to be introduced on the London-Kuala Lumpur route in August 2012, which will provide a daily non-stop A380 service to Kuala Lumpur.

The introduction of the A380 follows the upgrading of the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge at London Heathrow’s Terminal 4, which features pre-boarding dining and shower facilities and impressive views overlooking the runway at Heathrow, as well as a new Golden Lounge at Kuala Lumpur.

“The A380 showcases our latest premium offering,” said Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, Malaysia Airlines’ chief executive.

“This will be our flagship aircraft offering new levels of comfort, luxury and convenience for long-haul travel.

“With the A380 in our fleet, we will reinforce our position as one of the worlds’s preferred premium carriers bringing great Malaysian Hospitality to our customers.”

Providing new levels of unique Malaysian Hospitality to passengers, Malaysia Airlines’ A380 enhancements will include the introduction of the ‘Chef-on-Call’ service – currently only available to first class guests – for business class passengers.

A Thales seat back on-demand system, with easy-to-use on-screen controls, will offer every passenger the latest in-flight entertainment.

All seats in all classes are also equipped with USB ports and satellite telephone facilities.

Malaysia Airlines is due to join the oneworld alliance in the last quarter of 2012.

The carrier is also considered Asia’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards.

Excitement builds as Virgin Galactic given green light for powered flights

It may still be some way off but MTA – Mobile Travel Agents' Managing Director, Roy Merricks and his team are hopeful they will soon be gearing up to start sending the first Virgin Galactic 'future astronauts' into space.

Mr Merricks said the Virgin Galactic spaceline flights were now one step closer following news that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US has granted experimental launch permits for the company's Spaceship Two and WhiteKnight Two spacecraft.

MTA is infact one of only eight agencies in Australia to be handpicked by Virgin Group supremo Sir Richard Branson to sell his space tourism project.

 "According to the advice we have received this represents an important milestone in Virgin Galactic coming one step closer to bringing customers into space," Mr Merricks said.

SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo have already made significant progress in their flight test program.

With 80 test flights completed, WhiteKnightTwo is substantially through its test plan while the more recently constructed SpaceShipTwo has safely completed sixteen free flights including three thattested the vehicle's unique "feathering" re-entry system.

Additionally, its vehicle developer, Scaled Composites (Scaled)), has successfully completed ten test firings of the full scale SpaceShipTwo rocket motor, including full duration burns.

According to The President of Scaled Composites (Scaled), the US company which is developing the craft, the  Spaceship program is making steady progress.

Scaled president, Doug Shane, said the company was now looking forward lighting the vehicle's rocket engine in flight for the first time.

Although a handful of experimental launch permits have been granted to other rockets, SpaceShipTwo is the first rocket-powered vehicle that carries humans on board to receive such a permit.

SpaceShipOne, the manned spaceship successfully flown to space in 2004 and the basis for the design of SpaceShipTwo, flew before the Experimental Permit regulatory regime was established.

Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS, is on track to be the world's first commercial spaceline.


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