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Friday, December 28, 2012

THAI Takes Delivery of its Third Airbus A380

Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) recently took delivery of its third Airbus A380-800 aircraft, royally bestowed the name "CHAIYA".

At a delivery ceremony in Toulouse, France, the aircraft was handed over to Dr. Sorajak Kasemsuvan, THAI President by Mr. Chris Buckley, Airbus Executive Vice President, Europe & Asia, which was witnessed by members of THAI Management, and members of Airbus Management.

THAI ordered a total of six Airbus A380-800 aircraft, which are fully equipped with the most modern technology, products and services, which aim to meet passenger satisfaction in all classes of service. Read more information about THAI's A380 here.

From October 2012, THAI's first A380-800 operated on the routes Bangkok to Hong Kong and Bangkok to Singapore. With its second A380-800 in operation, THAI introduced the aircraft onto its Bangkok to Frankfurt route from 15 December 2012.

60 Royal Silk (Business) Class seats

The third A380-800 which was delivered recently will operate on the route Bangkok to Narita from 1 January 2013, while the fourth A380-800 will operate on the route Bangkok to Paris in the European Summer 2013.

The fifth and sixth A380-800s will be delivered in the last quarter of 2013.

To book a trip on the THAI A380, talk to any accredited travel agent or visit

More info :

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bangkok in Top Three of Global Cities for Tourist Shopping, Value for Money

Bangkok has been rated the world's second best city for tourist shopping and the third best city in terms of value for money, according to a global survey of 75,000 travellers covering 40 cities by the TripAdvisor travel site.

Tokyo was the most highly decorated world city ranked number one for best taxi services, friendliest taxi drivers, best public transportation, cleanest streets, and safety. Singapore also rated highly in several categories related to safety, cleanliness and transport infrastructure.

However, Bangkok rated best in two very important categories of the visitor experience, shopping and value for money. Said Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Suraphon Svetasreni, "This is a very important result for us because it underscores the success of our marketing campaign. We have always sought to position Thailand as a shopping paradise, thanks to our value for money factor and extensive diversity of products and services."

The exact results were as follows:

Best for shopping
  1. New York City 
  2. Bangkok 
  3. Dubai
Best value for money
  1. Lisbon 
  2. Budapest 
  3. Bangkok
Thailand recorded a 31% increase in tourism receipts in 2011 over 2010, according to Ministry of Tourism and Sports figures. The total earnings of 776 billion baht (US$25.45 billion) were also well above the original target of 716 billion baht (US$23 billion). Visitor spending per capita per day in 2011 averaged 4,187 baht, of which 24% (1,001 baht) was spent on shopping, the second highest expenditure item after accommodation.

The growth in total number of visitors, projected at 20.5 million in 2012 and 22.45 million in 2013, is being matched by increased average length of stay and average daily expenditure, further underscoring the role of tourism as one of the most important economic sectors and contributor to job creation and nationwide income distribution.

Overall, the expenditure figures show that the recent strengthening of the baht against the US$ is having little impact and Thailand remains good value for money for visitors across the board. The availability of a broad range of products from the latest designer goods to traditional Thai arts and crafts is further enhanced by the VAT refund scheme.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

QE2 sold for scrap.

End of an era. QE2 headed to China for scrap metal

The QE2 is set to be sold as scrap to the Chinese for £20m.

The move follows the failure of a after a last minute bid to bring it back to the famous cruise liner back to Britain as a five-star floating hotel.

The iconic ocean liner - which also served as a troop carrier during the Falklands - has been moored in a commercial port in Dubai since it was sold for £64m in 2008.

Read more:

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Everything ship shape in Fiji as families sun themselves by the pool after Cyclone Evan

Guest relaxing at Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa on 20 December
– just days after Tropical Cyclone Evan tore through the island
It's hard to believe, but just days after Tropical Cyclone Evan tore through Fiji, guests at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa are already lounging by the pool and enjoying cocktails in the sunshine. While some windows, shutters and lights were damaged, the main buildings are fine and already business is pretty much back to normal. Most of the damage at the resort was to foliage and for 48 hours the resort lost electricity but thanks to its twin generators was able to keep power running throughout the emergency. Guests praised the efforts of staff to ensure they were kept safe and comfortable throughout the rain and winds that swept the resort and while some guests chose to leave Fiji early, those who stayed on have already been rewarded with blue skies and sunshine.

Adam Laker, General Manager of the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa praised his staff for their quick action in cleaning up the resort in the wake of the storm.

"It is particularly pleasing to see, in difficult times such as this, our teams pull together to ensure the safety of our guests and to have everyone pitching in to do their bit to restore normality as quickly as possible," he said. "We made sure to keep our guests constantly informed of what was happening with the storm and now that it has passed we hope people will continue to holiday in Fiji to help the island recover.

"It is unfortunate that Cylone Evan hit at one of our busiest times of the year, but we are ready to welcome all those guests who have decided to continue on with their holiday plans and we will do all we can to ensure they enjoy the best possible time here."

The Sofitel is one of four Accor hotels in Fiji – with the Novotel Nadi, Mercure Nadi and Novotel Suva suffering mainly superficial damage and all back to business as usual. The Novotel Nadi suffered the worst damage due to fallen trees, but even so more than 80% of rooms are back in operation and on the whole, all General Managers have reported that, despite some mess, things are back to normal.

New InterContinental hotel opens in London- InterContinental London Westminster


InterContinental London Westminster opened its doors in late November 2012 as a luxury, six-storey city hotel in the prestigious royal and political heartland of Britain.


The first InterContinental hotel to open in the UK for more than 35 years, InterContinental London Westminster occupies the former Queen Anne's Chambers – an historic 19th Century address, previously home to the Treasury Solicitor and The Brewer's Society.


Behind its townhouse-style exterior, InterContinental London Westminster is an elegant city hideaway with British polish and rich furnishings. Spread across six floors, the new hotel features 256 guest rooms including a stunning penthouse and a collection of one-bedroom and studio suites.


InterContinental London Westminster's 180 staff have been specially-trained in the nuances of the esteemed neighbourhood, providing insider knowledge on local highlights, such as New Scotland Yard, The Houses of Parliament, the Ministry of Justice, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.


Set to be a destination in itself is the hotel's Blue Boar Smokehouse and Bar –  a luxurious spin on the traditional British pub, offering everything from local ale to signature cocktails, and a menu of rustic dishes created in the on-site charcoal and smoking ovens using authentic smokehouse techniques.


Other features include cocktail and champagne bar Emmeline's, The Lobby Lounge serving traditional tea, coffee and homemade sweets, a 24-hour gym, seven meeting and event rooms, and a business centre.


InterContinental London Westminster also offers the exclusive Club InterContinental Executive Lounge, located on the first floor of the hotel, providing complimentary breakfast, evening canapés and Wi-Fi to Club guests.


To celebrate the opening, InterContinental London Westminster is offering the Ace Opening Rate from £229* (approx. AUD $350) for overnight stays, including access to the hotel's Club InterContinental executive lounge, with complimentary breakfast, evening canapés and drinks, and free Wi-Fi. For more information or bookings, visit


The new hotel is the second InterContinental property to open in London, with InterContinental London Park Lane first opening in 1975 and reopening in 2006 following extensive renovations.


*Subject to availability, blackout dates and terms and conditions apply. Rates include VAT (value added tax). Offer must be booked by January 31, 2013, for stays from now until March 31, 2013.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

MTA - Mobile Travel Agents’ 2012 ‘Three Peaks Race’ Success To Feature On National TV

A documentary featuring MTA – Mobile Travel Agents' brand ambassador Jessica Watson's success in the 2012 H&R Block Three Peaks Endurance Race in Tasmania earlier this year will be televised nationally on Seven Mate at 1.30 pm this coming Saturday (22 December).

Jessica was at the helm of the MTA-sponsored 'Mobile Travel Agents Big Wave Rider' as the 46 foot catamaran crossed the Hobart finish line in first place, four days after leaving the start point in Launceston on Good Friday.

But it was a very close run thing as shown in the Southern Cross TV produced documentary which captures exciting coverage of the entire event - including gales, a grounding, snow and sunshine and the scaling of three Tasmanian mountain peaks along the way by the crew's running members.

Sponsored this year by H&R Block, the annual Three Peaks Race is a non-stop offshore sailing and endurance mountain running event, commencing at Beauty Point just north of Launceston on the Tamar River and finishing in Hobart on the Derwent River.

En route, the running members of each team have to scale Mount Strzelecki, Mount Freycinet and Mount Wellington.

The 2012 event has been described as one of the toughest in the history of the event with competitors forced to take shelter from rough seas and strong winds on several occasions.

The one hour documentary airs nationally on Seven Mate at 1.30pm this coming Saturday 22 December and again in Tasmania on Boxing Day.

Pictured enjoying a champagne moment after winning the 2012 H&R Block Three Peaks Endurance Race (back row from left to right) Bruce Arms, crewmember Suzanne Arms, Jessica Watson, Karen Merricks, Roy Merricks. Front: One of the two runners Andrew Kromar. Out of shot: Lachlan Pryor (sailor), John Kent (runner).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Alert: Overseas Mobile Roaming Costs

With the holiday season approaching, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has advice for travellers on avoiding "bill shock".

Unexpectedly high bills are easily racked up while using a tablet or smartphone overseas.

With some Australians returning from their travels with a phone or data bill that almost costs the same or more than their whole trip, here are useful tips for travellers before you go abroad.

The ACMA last week released a consultation paper on a draft Standard for mobile roaming that would require telecommunications companies to:

* warn consumers they are roaming
* provide country specific information about the costs of calls and data use when they switch on their mobile telephone overseas.

Australian VA to Taiwan passes the 50,000 mark

Australian VA to Taiwan passes the 50,000 mark

Setting a new record for Australian visitor arrivals to Taiwan, more than 50,000 Australians visited the destination for the 10-month period January-October 2012 according to figures released by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau this week.

The figure represents a 5.56 per cent increase over the 49,765 total achieved for the same period in 2011.

The new record was helped along by the more than 6,600 Australians visiting the destination in October.

TTB Marketing Representative Australia & New Zealand, Ms Pearl Lee attributed the growth in part towards the ease with which the destination can now be reached on a direct basis with both China Airlines and Eva Airways offering a total of eight direct weekly services from Sydney and Brisbane.

China Airlines' recently inaugurated Auckland-Sydney-Taipei service, which builds on the carrier's Auckland-Brisbane-Taipei routing, has also helped boost the number of New Zealanders visiting the destination with more than 8,248 Kiwis travelling to Taiwan for the 10 month period, a 13.26 per cent increase over the 7,303 total achieved for the same period in 2011.

Taiwan is currently experiencing a tourism boom with close on six million overseas visitors recorded for the January-October period.

The 5,937,265 total represents a 23.19 per cent increase over the 4,819,547 figure recorded for the same period in 2011 and has kept Taiwan firmly on track to welcome seven million visitors by the end of this year.

Speaking at the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism this week, Taiwan's President, Ma Ying-jeou said, based on the number of tourists visiting the destination over the last three years, it was highly possible Taiwan could be welcoming more than 10 million visitor arrivals by 2016.

President Ma pointed towards the growth in the number of international visitation since 2007 which has risen from 3.8 million to reach six million by the close of 2011.

"The speed of that growth is unprecedented and is evidence that Taiwan is a potential tourist hot spot," President Ma said.

Business Events News

Are you a MICE industry worker, conference organiser or business venue?

Then check out BEN, Business Events News, from the people who bring you Travel Daily and Cruise Weekly.

New Era for SriLankan Airlines

New traditional interiors and addition of flat beds

Passengers on SriLankan Airlines UL 312 to Singapore, were the first to enjoy a new flying experience, as the first refurbished aircraft, an A 330 took off on the 9th of December.

The airline has embarked on a complete transformation of its cabin interiors on its entire fleet, scheduled to be completed by July 2012. The new look will add a subtle, traditional Sri Lankan look and feel to its plush interiors, as well as a new, state of the art entertainment system.   In addition, travelling Business Class on SriLankan Airlines becomes a luxury in the skies with the introduction of flat bed seats on business class cabins of its wide bodied A330 and A340 aircraft.

The flat bed seat is essentially one that offers passengers the dual option of  working at leisure and sleeping in comfort. It has a 'buddy seat' in front, which enables another to sit opposite and engage in a discussion or even an in-flight meeting. Fitted with individual power adapters for laptop charging, one can work in comfort on this 'buddy' seat which also doubles up as a stool for propping up one's feet, for added comfort.

When the seat is fully reclined into a flat bed position, it extends its full length up to the 'buddy' seat, thus making it a firm full length bed in 180° position, with a seat pitch extending 79" inches. To create absolute privacy, seats can also be separated with a screen, which can be closed by either passenger. The seats seamlessly combine the work-relax-sleep experience on board.

"The underlying idea of the business class cabin upgrade is primarily to modernise our cabins and create a tranquil atmosphere in a traditional warm ambience of a Sri Lankan home in the sky" said SriLankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer, Kapila Chandrasena.

The seats developed by AVIO Interiors of Italy are covered with earthy terracotta coloured premium quality soft leather, in a deep rust tone. They are fitted with individual in-seat massage units and a pneumatic lumbar support system for comfort.  The carpet is soft, high-pile in black, with specks of terracotta, inspiring a warm, cosy atmosphere.

Complementing this is the aisle carpet and headrest cover, which are both derived from the famed Dumbara designs – rust coloured with black motifs. The design of the curtains and the bulkheads are from traditional 'batapellala' (bamboo) tats. At the back of the cabin, are scenes from Sri Lanka seen through in black and white glory.

The new cabin interiors were designed by a Sri Lankan design team led by Architect Madhura Premathilleke of Team Architrave and Fashion Designer, Gihan Nanayakkara of Orient Design.   The new Business Class In-Flight Entertainment is the state-of-the-art RAVE IMS system with the latest Audio / Video On Demand (AVOD) function with games. In the pipeline are more games with Nintendo type game controls and 'play your own music' features. Complementing this facility are the 15.4 inch wide screens with high resolution picture quality for infinite sharpness.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Up close and personal with Colonel Norman Macalister

Macalister mansion opens in Penang
Inline images 1
Authentic, quaint and historic, Penang just got a whole lot hipper with the highly anticipated Macalister Mansion, Design Hotels™' first member property in Malaysia. Recently opened in November, this eight-room hotel with five restaurants and bars is the first lifestyle oriented 'residence' in George Town and pays tribute to Colonel Norman Macalister, the first British Governor of the state in the 1800s. From his love-life to sea voyages, Macalister Mansion's design explores intimate details of the colonel's life. The result is an authentic vintage vibe set in a modern context.

100 is the new 0
Housed in a 100 year-old historic mansion, Macalister Mansion raises the bar for boutique hotels with its holistic concept. From curated art to specially designed uniforms, and personalised stationery to handcrafted paperclips, the hotel is a little house of treasures. For local owners Dato Sean H'ng and Datin Karen H'ng, Macalister Mansion is their first foray into the hotel world and they collaborated with Colin Seah, of Singapore-based firm Ministry of Design, to create a single, unique vision. As avid art collectors and supporters of the local arts scene, they have commissioned pieces throughout the hotel's public spaces and rooms. Each of the eight themed rooms traces different periods of Colonel Macalister's life and various Southeast Asian artists were invited to create works for them.

The rooms are dressed in bespoke furniture pieces and carpets all carefully handpicked by the owners. Bathrooms are fitted out with filigree inspired silver and white mosaic, and circular mirrors are suspended from the ceilings at a distance from the walls. Many of the mansion's original features were restored to their former glory including a wrought iron spiral staircase in the middle of one of the guestrooms leading to a viewing tower. The hotel is also the first project under Heritage Redefined, a conservation initiative spearheaded by Dato Sean to showcase the regeneration of Penang's old colonial buildings into useful and practical, contemporary spaces.

Dato Sean is a culinary heavyweight in Penang, having been involved in well-executed restaurants and bars such as Suffolk House, Beach Blanket Babylon and the old Bagan bar. His next ventures at Macalister Mansion do not disappoint and the five restaurants and bars are now George Town's new go-to hangout and event spaces, attracting the fashion and creative crowd. Mostly named after different sections of the home, the Dining Room, Living Room, The Lawn, Bagan Bar and The Den offer a wide variety of dining and drinking options. From modern French cuisine at the Dining Room to local cuisine with a twist at the Living Room, guests are spoilt for choice. The Den carries a good selection of cigars and is the only spot in Penang to offer both single cask and single malt whiskies.    

Location and Rates
Penang is well-loved for its old school charm, down-to-earth people, gardens and heritage buildings. Surrounding the hotel is exactly what this delightful town has to offer - a neighborhood of diverse cultures and colourful palettes of tastes and sights, including the famous Sister's Char Kway Teow (popular local dish of fried flat noodles) and historic Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall.

Rooms start at MYR 800.

For reservations, please refer to the following webpage
or the appropriate Design Hotels™ toll-free number:
00 800 37 46 83 57

Mantra Group Reveals Top Summer Travel Trends

Leading Australian hotel operator, Mantra Group, revealed the Gold Coast as the most popular destination to holiday this summer with relaxation and family time being the top reasons of choice, in its annual review of summer travel trends across the Group's 110 Peppers, Mantra and BreakFree hotels and resorts across Australia.

The Gold Coast is up 5% on occupancy across the Group's 20 properties compared to the same period last year and expected to reach 100% occupancy with bookings from the drive market to be made in the countdown to Christmas.  RevPar for the region also increased by 6.8%.

The upmarket Peppers Broadbeach lead the charge with a staggering 52% increase in occupancy year on year with holiday makers opting for quality accommodation whilst visiting the new attractions launched at Dreamworld and Movie World; and soaking up the relaxed beachside lifestyle.

The review – drawn from Mantra Group bookings data over the last two summer holiday periods- also revealed that average length of stay had increased from three to four nights to five to six nights over the December to February period across the Group's resort properties in Queensland, northern New South Wales and Victoria's coastline in Lorne and the Mornington Peninsula.

Mantra Group CEO, Bob East said that Mantra Group's extensive network of leisure resorts provided a good snapshot of summer holiday booking trends:

"Overall our resort network is performing well and given our strong presence in popular Queensland holiday hot spots we are able to really see where and how Australians are making their holiday choices."

"The proof really is in the booking data which also indicates that interstate guests are booking further out from their dates of stay so the Gold Coast is becoming less of a 'last minute' destination."

The review also indicated that customers are opting to research and book holidays by tablet or mobile device with the number of bookings more than doubling via these methods.

Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) also recorded a significant lift in occupancy of 6% in an encouraging trend for the region which is traditionally quieter over this period. Cairns properties, Mantra Trilogy and Mantra Esplanade are also recording a 4% increase in RevPar and are amongst the region's top performers contributing to an overall 8.2% increase in RevPar for the region.

"TNQ has done well to increase occupancy over this period to take it into February when Chinese New Year celebrations are really becoming a highlight on the tourism calendar for this region," said Bob East.

But it's not all about palm trees and pina coladas, with dedicated city holiday makers still flocking to Mantra's CBD apartment properties for their New Year's Eve celebrations, citing the space and convenience of the self-contained apartments as being the most conducive to holidaying with friends over the party season.

Mantra Southbank is the first of Mantra's six Melbourne properties to see occupancy levels rise due its prime location near Southbank entertainment precinct where the fireworks and key NYE celebrations take place.  Similarly, Mantra on Kent, with its access just two blocks from Sydney's Darling Harbour celebrations has enjoyed longer stay bookings with 2 bedroom apartments particularly popular.

Extended stays across the Christmas/New Year period are also on the increase with guests utilising the time to take in the many theatrical productions and sporting events on offer across Australia.

Brisbane will host productions such as Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, South Pacific and Legally Blonde while Melbourne will host the Australian Open Tennis in January and the annual Sydney Festival remains a popular favourite.

Great deals are still available across Australia – visit;; or

Mantra Hits The Stage With Key Arts and Entertainment Partnerships

Mantra Hotels continue to forge ongoing partnerships with the Arts and Entertainment industry with the acclaimed Diamond (60th) Anniversary Australasian Tour of Agatha Christie's iconic play, 'The Mousetrap' the latest to partner with the leading Australian hotel group.

Mantra's National Sales Manager, Beau Keller and Sales & Marketing Executive, Michelle Doyle-Jones are pictured taking time out on the set of the famous 'whodunit' with cast members Christy Sullivan and Gus Murray and Producers Linda Bewick and Louise Withers in advance of the production's final season of the tour in Brisbane, which commences performances on 28 December at QPAC'S Playhouse Theatre.

The show's production team, cast and crew will make Mantra South Bank their home throughout the season just as they did previously with Mantra on the Park in Melbourne and Mantra on Northbourne in Canberra during their seasons in the southern capitals.

As official accommodation partner, Mantra is also offering Brisbane theatre goers ticket and accommodation packages from $241 per person staying at Mantra South Bank or from $180 per person at Mantra on Queen – see for details.

Producer Louise Withers praised the partnership: "The Mantra Apartment properties provide a great opportunity for our companies to feel as much at home as possible as they tour the country. The partnership we have enjoyed benefits us commercially and provides a friendly and professional service allowing us to tailor our needs for touring productions."

Mantra's Beau Keller who heads up the Sport & Entertainment sales portfolio, said that "Mantra can also bring many other benefits to a production to complement the size and convenience of their apartment hotel rooms."

"As a full sponsorship, marketing and accommodation partner, we can promote the ticket and accommodation packages to our database of over 1.2 million subscribers; deliver cooperative marketing campaigns; advertise on our websites and point of sale at hotel concierge desks and partner with outlets such as Showbiz to generate interest in the production."

"We have greatly enjoyed the association with the cast and crew of The Mousetrap and look forward to working with Louise Withers and Associates and their Co-Producers to accommodate many more productions in the future," he said.

To date, Mantra Hotels have provided full sponsorship, marketing and accommodation partnerships with major productions such as, MAMMA MIA!, Hairspray, the English National Ballet and Global Creatures' How To Train Your Dragon. The relationship with Global Creatures will continue in 2013 when Mantra will accommodate cast and crew for War Horse and King Kong.

Other cast and crew accommodation partnerships have been forged with Cirque du Soleil, Moonshadow and Annie the Musical at Mantra apartment properties in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra; and with hotels located in all capital cities, Mantra is well placed to accommodate national touring productions.

For further information about Mantra Hotels and Resorts visit

CW breaking news - ICCA unites with global cruise bodies

International Cruise Council Australasia to become CLIA Australasia

The International Cruise Council Australasia has this morning announced that it would join with eight other cruise industry assocaitions to form a "common organisation which will serve as the voice and advocacy leader of the global cruise industry".

The change will see ICCA become known as Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia, with other groups joining the new body including CLIA in North America, the European Cruise Council, the Asia Cruise Association and the UK's Passenger Shipping Association as well as similar organisations in France, Canada and Alaska.

Existing offices will remain in place, with ICCA gm Brett Jardine continuing to lead the Australasian body and reporting to the organisation's US-based global ceo as well as the local board.

The new association aims to provide increased benefits and a "globally unified voice for cruise lines, travel agents and business partners," as well as offering a one-stop global resource for cruise line members on technical and regulatory issues.

CLIA will be governed by a Global Executive Committee, and will be headed up by Chrstine Duffy, the current president and ceo of the US CLIA.

ICCA chairman Gavin Smith said the transformation of the organisation reflected the continuing growth of the cruise industry around the world.

"This new structure will strengthen the cruise industry's voice in Australia and New Zealand and provide greater resources for the benefit of our travel agent and cruise line members," he said.

More information in today's Cruise Weekly.

This Cruise Weekly breaking news brought to you by Cruise Weekly.

$6m marketing deal for Tourism Australia and Etihad

Source: Travel Daily

Tourism Australia and Etihad have just confirmed a new Memorandum of Understanding which will see them together invest $6 million marketing Australia over the next three years.

The alliance will target visitors from the Middle East, UK and Europe, with EY ceo James Hogan saying that Australia is strategically important to the carrier and contributes "significantly" to the Etihad bottom line.

"We not only have 16 per cent of our global seat capacity dedicated to the route, but also major investments in community assets like Melbourne's Etihad Stadium," he said.

Hogan added that Etihad and its partnerships with airberlin, Air France-KLM, Alitalia and Czech Airlines were tapping into Tourism Australia-created demand throughout Europe for business and leisure travel to Australia.

"On top of that, our partnership with Virgin Australia adds another powerful dimension to the marketing of Australian tourism," he added.

TA md Andrew McEvoy said Etihad was clearly committed to Australia, feeding increasing numbers of passengers onto flights headed here via its Abu Dhabi hub, "particularly from Australia's traditional high volume markets of the UK and Europe".

He said that in line with continuing efforts to speak with 'one voice' in international marketing, Tourism Australia and Etihad would jointly seek involvement of the states and territories in future cooperative campaigns.

More information in today's Travel Daily.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fiji: Tropical Cyclone Evan Update

Official Name:  Severe Tropical Cyclone EVAN


Nadi, Fiji, Monday 17 December, 2012 (6pm) - As noted previously, the Fiji Government's emergency response teams have been activated, and all residents and visitors to Fiji have taken shelter while they await the passage of Tropical Cyclone Evan.

Once the cyclone has passed, emergency response teams as well as power, water and telephone companies will be focused on restoring any essential services that have been lost.

As seen on various weather-related internet sites, Tropical Cyclone Evan, a category 4 cyclone, is continuing its southwest movement past Fiji's biggest island of Viti Levu. At present, the cyclone is expected to pass between the town of Nadi and the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands at approximately 8pm local Fiji time.

Some flooding has been reported in low-lying areas, and this is expected to continue as the cyclone moves past the country.

Gale force winds and driving rain were experienced earlier in the day on the northern island of Vanua Levu, and winds were reported to have knocked down trees in various parts of this island.

No injuries or loss of life have been reported on any of the islands which the cyclone has already passed.

One northern resort near Savusavu, on the Island of Vanua Levu, reported the loss of tree branches and palm fronds, but minimal property damage, and the resort noted clean-up efforts were already underway.

It has been reported that power has been lost to most of Vanua Levu, parts of northern and western Viti Levu, as well as parts of the capital city of Suva. Fiji Electricity Authority, the country's electricity company plans to restore power as soon as it is safe to do so. Power in most parts of the country automatically shuts down during a storm or during electricity interruptions to prevent hazards from downed power lines or fallen wires.

Emergency centres established by the Government have been activated throughout the country for those living in non-cyclone proof homes, hotels, resorts, or buildings. The government has reported that it is already sheltering approximately over 4,500 people throughout the country (3500 people on Vanua Levu in the north, 250 people in Eastern Viti Levu, 400 in Western Viti Levu and 300 in the eastern part of Viti Levu). This number is expected to increase to approximately 8000 by the end of today. All shelters are stocked with enough food and water for three days. In addition, additional water trucks have been deployed to all parts of the main island of Viti Levu, to ensure water supplies are maintained.

The focus of the Government's Disaster Management Office (DISMAC) wil be on emergency relief once Evan passes tomorrow. Emergency teams are already on standby to begin clean-up operations immediately following passage of the cyclone, and the Ministry of Health has teams ready to assist with any safety, medical, or health issues. The Fiji Navy has also prepared or pre-positioned naval ships, helicopters, and medical supplies.

"We are well-prepared to respond as soon as this severe tropical storm passes by and down to the south of Fiji," said Elizabeth Powell, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Enterprises, Communications, Civil Aviation & Tourism. "All emergency teams are in place and ready to mobilise once the all clear signal is given."

For continual updates on the status of Cyclone Evan and its impact on Fiji please visit the website:


Nadi, Fiji, 16 December, 2012: As Tropical Cyclone Evan continues its expected move towards and past the Western side of the main island of Viti Levu in Fiji, high winds and heavy rain are expected to affect Nadi International Airport starting later this evening (Sunday) through Monday and into early Tuesday morning. Winds have already picked up at the northern island of Vanua Levu forcing the cancellation of remaining Pacific Sun flights to/from Savusavu later today (Sunday).

At present, meteorological sources expect the storm to pass the western part of Fiji sometime around 7pm on Monday night (17 December), and it expected to have dissipated by Tuesday morning (December 18th).

While the cyclone is not expected to come any closer than 70 nautical miles to Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, very strong winds, gusty rains, and other storm effects will impact sea ports, ferry operations and other activities.

The Fiji Government, through its Fiji Disaster Office (DISMAC) is working with the tourism industry to co-ordinate cyclone preparation and recovery efforts. Hotels and all operators are on alert and advising guests of the status of the Cyclone and providing assistance as required. DISMAC is closely monitoring the proposed track of Tropical Cyclone Evan.

“We are concerned about the capacity of this Cyclone and have activated and mobilised our emergency response teams, disaster relief centers, police and military forces,” said Elizabeth Powell, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Enterprises, Communications, Civil Aviation & Tourism. “The safety of our community and our international guests is our main concern, and we have established and stocked 300 emergency centres -- should they be needed.”

It is believed that many of the Australians, New Zealanders, and other international visitors who were holidaying in Fiji’s western outer islands (the Yasawas and Mamanucas) have already moved back to the main island of Viti Levu, and others have returned home as planned or early.

The Fiji Hotel & Tourism Association has advised that no change fees will apply to guests postponing their travel and rebooking a new dates*. Should guests cancel their travel, normal cancellation fees will apply.

Air Pacific, Fiji’s national airline, has also issued a “Waiver of Change” press release relating to travel during this period. (see

For continual updates on the status of Cyclone Evan and its impact on Fiji please visit the website:

Air Pacific has advised all passengers flying to/from Fiji from Sunday through Tuesday to regularly check its website for the latest updates on weather and flight information.

*Hotel cancellations are valid for arrivals until and including Friday the 21st of December

2012, and guests must re-book travel arriving by no later than the 31st of March 2013

Virtuoso’s Luxe Report Reveals 2013 Top Destinations, Key Trends

Australia on the 2013 Luxe List
By Mimi Kmet/Travelpulse

* Australia on the favourite list, Italy tops
* Baby boomers continue to drive sales
* Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile top emerging destinations

Virtuoso has released its annual Luxe Report, revealing the top destinations and other key trends for 2013, based on a survey of its luxury travel advisers. Among the findings: Myanmar, Bhutan and Chile debuted on the “most popular emerging destinations” list, and Cuba and Vietnam maintained their respective places among the top five emerging locations in the world.

As baby boomers continue to drive travel sales, and the desire to spend time with loved ones prominently factoring into decisions, the top and recurring trend for the upcoming year is multigenerational family travel. In addition, ocean cruising is predicted to have renewed strength in 2013, with the Baltic Region making debuting on the list, along with perennial favorites like Alaska, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. River cruising continues to grow, especially in Europe; and the addition of new routes throughout Asia will bolster its popularity in the coming year

Italy continues to top the list as a favorite international destination 2013, followed by South Africa, France and Australia. This year, Latin America emerges, with Argentina making the list for the first time. The biggest change from 2012 to 2013 is within the U.S. travel market. Napa Valley/Sonoma claim the top spot as the most sought after U.S. destination, bumping Maui and New York from these positions. While Las Vegas remains on the list, the city now shares fourth place with Alaska.

For families traveling in 2013, Italy remains at the top of the destination list, with Costa Rica moving up in popularity to join England. New to the list of top family destinations is Mexico, in fourth place. France, the Galapagos Islands and Turks & Caicos tie for fifth place. The most popular destinations for romantic travel continue to be Italy, French Polynesia, France, and Bali. This year, Fiji joins the list of exotic locations.

As in previous reports, the motivations behind high-end travel continue to be seeking authentic experiences in new destinations, rest and relaxation, personal enrichment, seeking adventure, and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones.

“The multi-faceted Virtuoso traveler wants to reconnect with loved ones, explore new destinations, and seek out opportunities for personal growth,” said Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch, CTC.

The 2013 Luxe Report also predicts that there will be a rise in longer trips (eight days and longer) to international destinations and suggests that, when necessary, travelers are willing to book lower room categories in order to stay in nicer hotels. Travel advisors continue to be the lead influencer in determining travel decisions, followed closely by input from friends and family. Meanwhile, Business Class is still the preferred way to fly, with Economy Plus gaining in popularity.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peru Festivals for the Picking in 2013

In 2013 Peru will celebrate, once again, a plethora of energetic and vibrant festivals across the nation, offering Australian travellers an abundance of opportunities to celebrate and discover the sights and sounds of true Peruvian culture first-hand.

During any time or the year, a visit to Peru can be combined with a whirlwind of local fiestas, gastronomic celebrations, and cultural carnivals. Peru's many festivals offer a unique insight into this majestic country and its kaleidoscope of intense colours and sounds. So why not plan your next trip to Peru around one or more of the diverse and culturally rich festivals below, for an authentic experience of South America like no other.

First up is Peru's Marinera Festival in late January, which takes place in Trujillo, a striking city located in the lesser known northwest of the country. This energetic festival brings together national and international Marinera dancers of all ages and expertise who come to take part in various categories and street parades that take place during this prestigious competition. The event involves a great deal of dancing, eating, and learning how to attract your companion with a twitch of a handkerchief in your right hand. Trujillo is also off the tourist trail; making this festival the perfect opportunity for Aussie travellers to head to the northern sites to uncover more of Peru's hidden gems.

Only in Peru can you celebrate two national holidays a year dedicated to the one cocktail. The much loved, national drink with grape brandy brings locals and travellers together for Pisco Sour Day, held on every first Saturday of February, as well as on National Pisco Day, taking place on 27 July 2013. If you're lucky enough to be in Peru for Pisco Sour Day, then the best way to honour the famous cocktail is by visiting the capital city of Lima where the fountain in Plaza Mayor swaps water for Pisco, and some 2000Lt of Pisco spouts fresh into celebrating mouths all day long. If you're unable to get to Peru for this unique fiesta, then why not celebrate with homemade Pisco Sours in your own Aussie backyard to get in the spirit for a Peruvian adventure at a later date!

March marks the enigmatic and flamboyant festival, Carnival. This is a festival where the entire country comes alive with a colourful display of dance, elaborate costumes and unique masks. Festivities include weeks of water fights and handfuls of powder flying from one street to another. This is one event your photo album shouldn't be without.

La Vendimia, Peru's Wine Festival, takes place in the second week of March, in the geographically striking region of Ica. Located in the heart of Peru's wine region, this annual festival marks the celebration of grape harvest. The festival is a rich mix of elaborate floats, traditional music and dancing, and a wide selection of food and wine. The highlight of the festival day however is the election of the Festival Queen. Her crowning is eagerly anticipated and once she is selected, she hoists up her dress and begins treading the grapes along with everyone else - the spectacle is all part of the fun!

If you're looking for a festival longer than a day, and an adventurous challenge, then Qoyllur Rit'i or Snow Star Festival will be right for you. This three day pilgrimage through the Sinakara Valley in the Cusco Region of Peru is a 'hard core' cultural adventure festival, starting in late May and ending in early June. Many groups of people from the Andean zones of Peru and Bolivia walk several days until they arrive at the foot of the snow-covered Qoyllur Rit'i religious shrine. Along the way and at the end of the pilgrimage, you can enjoy local Peruvian foods such as the potato pachamancas or "watts", and appreciate traditional dances and costumes, such as the ukukus and Collas.

September is all about food. The Mistura Food Festival is a 10 day cultural feast in Peru's capital and gastronomic hub, Lima, starting on the 8 September. Gastronomic events take place around the world but this food fiesta puts Peru firmly on the culinary map. In 2012 the event saw over 600,000 people attend, including Australian chef Peter Gilmore, to indulge amongst hundreds of street food and restaurant stands. The festival is host to local farmers, chocolate markets, together with a special area dedicated to Pisco, the Peruvian national drink. The whole event will assault your every sense with an explosion of colours, flavours and catchy rhythms.

Other popular festivals include the Inti Raymi - Festival of the Sun in Cusco on 24 June, Peru Art Week in Lima during May, and Easter in the beautiful Ayacucho for Semana Santa in April.

For more information on Peru and further festivals, please visit

Mariner of the Seas becomes the sixth ship to introduce the DreamWorks Experience


Royal Caribbean International and DreamWorks Animation are expanding their ground-breaking partnership, announcing that Mariner of the Seas will offer the DreamWorks Experience when she arrives in her new Asian home in May 2013. Mariner of the Seas will be the sixth ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet to offer this experience.

The DreamWorks Experience was introduced in May this year on Australia's largest and most innovative ship Voyager of the Seas, which has just made her debut in Australia for the 2012-13 summer cruise season.

"The DreamWorks Experience has been a huge hit with Australian guests of all ages on Voyager of the Seas, and we are delighted that this popular feature is being offered to guests on another innovative ship that will be based in our neighbouring region," said Adam Armstrong, commercial director, Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia.


Every Royal Caribbean ship with the DreamWorks Experience features parades, themed activities and events based on DreamWorks Animation's popular feature-film characters, including Po of "Kung Fu Panda;" Shrek, Fiona and Puss In Boots of "Shrek;" and Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, and the Penguins from "Madagascar". Each ship also is equipped with a 3-D movie theatre playing the latest DreamWorks Animation films, such as the summer blockbuster "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted in 3-D". Royal Caribbean's younger guests in the complimentary award-winning Adventure Ocean children's program can also enjoy an exhilarating line-up of activities, games and adventures rooted in the popular DreamWorks Animation films. Additionally, guests can enjoy DreamWorks Animation programming on a dedicated RCTV channel in every stateroom.


Guests of all ages can also meet their favourite DreamWorks characters over the DreamWorks Character breakfasts in the main dining room, and take advantage of plenty of photo opportunities throughout the day. Royal Caribbean recently released an online video about the DreamWorks Experience Character Breakfasts. To view this video, please use the following link:

"Royal Caribbean continues to be the perfect host for the DreamWorks Experience and this expansion agreement ensures that more and more fans will have the opportunity to interact with our characters and properties," said Kerry Phelan, Head of Worldwide Licensing for DreamWorks Animation.


The DreamWorks Experience was first launched aboard Allure of the Seas in November 2010, with beloved character Princess Fiona of the "Shrek" franchise inaugurating the ship as godmother, and continues to impress guests and receive accolades. As well as on Voyager of the Seas, the award-winning entertainment has since been expanded to Oasis of the Seas, sailing from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale; Freedom of the Seas from Port Canaveral on Florida's Space Coast; and Liberty of the Seas, which splits her year between Port Everglades and Barcelona, Spain.

For additional information or to make reservations, contact your travel agent, call 1800 754 500 or visit or Travel professionals can call 1300 754 500 or visit

Economy Class Airline Guide 2012-13

The 2012-13 edition of the Travel Daily Economy Class Airline Guide contains all the latest information on the economy class offerings of airlines marketing their flights in the fast-growing Australian market.
Click here to download the 2012-13 Airline Economy Class Guide as a PDF
Click here to display the 2012-13 Airline Economy Class Guide in an online viewer

For more information see

TD breaking news - Webjet to acquire Zuji

Sabre sells Zuji to Webjet for $25 million

Webjet has just confirmed the proposed acquisition of rival online agency Zuji, which is a subsidiary of Sabre Holdings'
The binding agreement covers Zuji's operations in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore, including Virgin Australia's Blue Holidays.
The $25m purchase price is about 4.6 times adjusted proforma earnings, with Webjet saying the deal will boost its total transaction volume by about 30%.
"The acquisition of Zuji represents a unique opportunity to substantially expand Webjet's marketing footprint, particularly in the major future growth markets of Asia," said Webjet md John Guscic.
He said the move coincides with the rapidly changing structural elements of aviation in the Asia-Pacific region, with Zuji also helping to "fast track the development of Webjet's global hotel contracting and online hotel distribution strategies".
The deal is being funded by a placement of 6.9m Webjet shares at $3.60 per share.
Travelocity global president, Carl Sparks, said "The strength of the Zuji brand and business across the APAC region made it an attractive proposition for Webjet and we believe that this is the best option for future success of the Zuji business, its employees and customers".
More information in today's Travel Daily.

Top 5 Scams of Summer Revealed

Travel Safety Expert Phil Sylvester from Travel Insurance Direct, Australia's leading online travel insurance provider, says the top 5 travel scams can be found in favourite vacation spots like Phuket, Vietnam, Paris and India, and include the 'damaged jet ski' scam, the 'gold ring' scam in Paris and the 'school books' scam in India.

According to Phil, "By providing practical, expert advice and information, we hope to turn novice travellers into seasoned globetrotters and help prepare them for every eventuality, rather than watch them fall victim to yet another common scam."

According to Senator Carr, 14,000 Australians find themselves in trouble overseas each year. With this in mind, Travel Insurance Direct have set out to make travellers aware of the most common scams found abroad, to help prepare them for the worst, with a convenient mobile app, Tripwise.

As we count-down to the summer holidays, Travel Safety Expert Phil Sylvester from Travel Insurance Direct, Australia's leading online travel insurance provider, has put together the Top 5 Travel Scams for Summer covering Australian favourite vacation spots from Vietnam and Phuket, to Paris and India.

According to Phil, "By providing practical, expert advice and information, we hope to turn novice travellers into seasoned globetrotters and help prepare them for every eventuality, rather than watch them fall victim to yet another common scam."

Top Five Travel Scams, according to Travel Insurance Direct

1. JET SKI DAMAGE - Phuket
This particular scam happens in many beachside destinations; however the scam rate is particularly high in Phuket, Thailand.

The scam: Travellers rent a jet ski from the beach. When it's return the owners claim that it's been damaged and present a hefty repair bill. If the traveller refuses to pay, some of the rental bloke's large friends come to "convince" and have been known to march the victim to the nearest ATM.  In some instances, the police have been called in to assist – and do negotiate a better price - but video evidence suggests the police are in on the scam too. 

Best defence: Don't hire a jet ski in Phuket. If tourists stop renting, they'll soon go out of business, or look for another lucrative scam.
Note: Some travellers have tried to beat this scam by photographing the Jet Ski before they head out onto the water – but the crooks have begun to hide the damage with water-based paint, which washes off.

Some say unless you've been offered a gold ring by a gypsy you haven't really been or experienced Paris.

The scam: Someone will approach the traveller and hold up a gold wedding band, claiming it's been dropped. Often, the scammer will pretend to pick it up right in front of the traveller's eyes. They claim that in Paris, there is a reward for returning it to its rightful owner, perhaps 20 Euros or so, and suggest splitting the cost with you. Conveniently, they say they don't have time to go to the police station, so the traveller is left to do it handing over their share of the reward money first. The ring is of course worthless brass and no-one owns it.

Best defence: Keep your possessions close and be aware of the scam. Don't feel heartless for ignoring someone who is trying to scam you or claim that someone else has been unfortunate to lose their possessions.

3. COPYCAT HOTEL - Vietnam
Make sure you know where you really are staying before you head to Vietnam this summer. 

The scam: In Vietnam if a particular hotel becomes popular with visitors it's likely received a good write-up in a newspaper, a mention in a popular guidebook or a breakfast TV show weather segment – the proprietors of less-successful hotels will try to cash-in on the reputation by re-naming their hotel to something that sounds very similar! For example The Mid-Town Sofeetel (with 2 E's), might not be quite what you were expecting to find!

Best defence: Have a copy of your hotel booking with you and make sure you have the exact address of your accommodation, preferably written in the local language. Check with the map on your phone that you've actually been taken there (not scammed by the taxi driver as well.)

4. CAR TROUBLE – Sicily
This scam is widespread, and notorious in parts of Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Sicily.

The scam: Someone drives alongside the traveller indicating there's a problem with their car. Naturally they pull over. The other driver walks with the traveller to the back of the car to inspect the problem whilst his accomplice makes off with all the valuables…. Or worse they rob at knife-point!

Best defence: Don't stop. If it's a genuine problem it will soon become apparent to you. Try to make it to a town or service station before stopping.

So you're off to Magical India? Keep your wits about you - only the really devious survive.

The scam: A 'poor student' will take the traveller sightseeing for hours in exchange for school books. Unfortunately when the traveller goes to buy the books they find they are significantly overpriced, and the kind student is getting a cut of the profit. Or, more disturbingly; a young child may approach to buy "milk for her sister". She'll escort the traveller to a small shop where they will end up paying 10 times the going rate. She and the shopkeeper share the profits. 

Best defence: If you're feeling charitable, make a donation to an official charity, one where they have professionals making sure the money gets to the right people.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Aussies Love Green Travel, But Who Foots The Bill?

Inline images 1Image source:

Research conducted by into the travel intentions of 3,000 Australians has shown Australians love being green but don't want to foot the bill – and that young Aussies are the toughest demographic to convince to do their part.

Managing Director of ZUJI APAC, James Gaskell, says the research has affirmed that travellers genuinely want to travel green.

"Australians like to think of themselves as environmentally conscious and our most recent research has shown that Aussies love the idea of saving the environment. However when it come to their holiday, they don't want their environmental conscience to impinge on them having fun.  In fact, 71% of Aussies would rather live it up than worry about reducing their environmental impact when travelling," says Gaskell.

The results also identified 18-24 year olds as the least environmentally conscious of all age groups, with more than 80% showing skepticism over carbon offset programs.


·         71% of travellers confessed that they'd rather live it up than worry about reducing their environmental impact when travelling.

·         18-24 year olds proved to be the most motivated by price and value, and the least environmentally conscious of all age groups.

·         Three quarters of Australian travellers are apathetic about carbon offset programs.

For discounts, deals and more, join ZUJI on Facebook, ZUJI on Twitter or ZUJI on Google+.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Azamara Club Cruises offers guests more with complimentary evening ashore events and extended complimentary beverages

Azamara Quest - new blue hull for 2013

Cruise Line Augments each Voyage with Complimentary Night Touring Event

When it comes to compelling enhancements for discerning travellers, boutique cruise line Azamara Club Cruises is clearly a winner – and now it has scored again.

The cruise line today announced that the guest experience will soon include the new AzAmazing Evening, an immersive complimentary destination event ashore featured on every voyage.

In addition, the cruise line is introducing a selection of complimentary standard spirits, wines and international beers throughout the ship during the bars' opening hours. Both offerings will begin with Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey's next Europe season, March 27 and May 15 2013, respectively.

The complimentary evening ashore varies from voyage to voyage, offering guests sailing consecutive voyages a wide variety of experiences.  During the events all interested guests will be transported via private motorcoach to an unforgettable evening. Guests sailing a Baltic voyage, for example, could enjoy a private ballet performance in St. Petersburg, Russia, while walking the red carpet and sipping champagne. Or those on a Mediterranean voyage may find themselves sampling Jerez, Spain's, famous sherry wine at Gonzalez Byass and later enjoying a private equestrian ballet at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art.

"Azamara Club Cruises' guests have an unquenchable desire to immerse themselves in the history, culture and night life of the destinations we visit, which is why we offer them longer stays, more overnights and night touring," said Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises.

"This new concept is an evolution of Azamara's core differentiator that resonates with our guests, who love their time onboard, but have made it clear that the cruise experience extends to their time ashore. With these new amenities added to Azamara Club Cruises, guests are offered an unmatched holiday experience at a tremendous value."

One-hundred percent of Azamara's 2013 itineraries feature late-night departures and overnight port stays, some as long as two or three days. This concept of slowing the ships down to offer guests the opportunity to experience a city's nightlife is an almost unique concept in the cruise industry that will now be further showcased through AzAmazing Evening, destination affairs to remember.            

The new AzAmazing Evening events will replace the current 50 percent savings off Land Discovery shore excursions program and provide guest with an even great value that further emphasizes the night touring concept and highlights a region's culture and distinct personality with a customized event exclusively for Azamara guests.

Guests sailing and pre-booking Land Discoveries, before March 2, 2013 for Azamara Quest or April 17, 2013 for Azamara Journey can still save 50 percent on most Land Discoveries when booking online at least four days prior to their sailing date.

Also new, beginning with the 2013 Europe season, is the expansion of Azamara's complimentary beverage offerings.  In addition to Azamara's existing selection of complimentary boutique wines, served at lunch and dinner, guests will enjoy a wider complimentary selection that includes a selection of standard spirits, wines and international beers throughout the day at any of the ships' bars and lounges.

Guests aboard Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest already enjoy more inclusive amenities, such as included gratuities for housekeeping, dining and bar staff; complimentary bottled water, soft drinks, specialty coffees, teas, and complimentary red and white boutique wines to accompany lunch and dinner, complimentary self-service laundry; English Butler service for suite guests; and shuttle transportation to city centers in ports, where available.  And now, guests will also enjoy the new AzAmazing Evening event on every voyage, and selected standard spirits, wines and beers throughout the voyage from bars and lounges.

For more information, contact your travel agent, visit or call 1800 754 500. Travel professionals can call 1300 754 500 or visit

Hydro Majestic Hotel - Renovation begins 2013

Legendary luxury resort, the Hydro Majestic Hotel in the Blue Mountains, will begin its revitalisation in early 2013 under a $55 million transformation that will capture its extravagant historic spirit.

After four years of detailed planning and review, the Hydro is scheduled to open in two stages with all public areas accessible late 2013 in Stage (1), and Stage (2) being 2 new accommodation wings & spa complex scheduled 2 years thereafter.

The renewal will allow the greatest public access to the flamboyant Art Deco and Edwardian buildings in its breathtaking history.

The long awaited opportunity to peel back the layers and rediscover the essence of the Hydro will see the famous property active again across more than one kilometre of escarpment with boundless views of the Megalong Valley.

Upon completion of both Stages (1) and (2), the Hydro will recapture the grace and glamour of its flamboyant past and provide 140 deluxe view suites, large conference spaces, an impressive array of hydrotherapy spa treatments and the finest culinary experiences of regional Australia.

Stage (1) will include the revitalisation of the majority of the existing buildings, including the Casino Building, The Wintergarden, The Majestic Ballroom, The Billiard Room and Cat’s Alley, The Delmonte Building and conference rooms. This famous and fondly remembered space will have a beautiful new lobby, large garden reception terrace and a pre-function area.

The Hydro in its first phase will also offer:
  • It’s largest public space, the new Mark Foy Pavilion, named after its retail baron founder. The providore will reflect the essence of the Easter Show Pavilions of Sydney’s old showgrounds. Operating as a magnificent interactive ‘living’ history space, the Pavillion will house a vibrant providore showcasing boutique and unique food and wine from the Blue Mountains and its regions, including Mudgee, Bathurst, Orange and the Western Plains. A Taste of the Blue Mountains retail and exhibition space will also explore the history of the Hydro, including multimedia screening suites and tours.
  • The Boiler House (which has been neglected for decades) will be open to the public for the first time and celebrates the history of the Blue Mountains being wired for electricity four days before the Sydney metropolitan region. The Boiler House will include a gallery, bistro, and beautiful Terrace Restaurant looking over the breathtaking Majestic Point Lookout.
  • The new Majestic Point Lookout, will have picnic and market grounds and provide public access to the best views of the Megalong Valley, encouraging the lost art of public promenading.
  • During this time the Belgravia Wing will be used to house the Hotel Management Institute, Australia’s most elite hospitality training school.
Opening in 1904, the Hydro Majestic Hotel began its life as an Edwardian house hotel. The retreat was the final residency of Australia’s first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton; opera singer Dame Nelly Melba rehabilitated her voice here with impromptu public performances, and the Hydro was Australia’s first hydropathic retreat.

A team of highly regarded heritage experts, architecture specialists and designers have been enlisted to realise the Hydro vision with particular weight given to examining and respecting the site’s social history and heritage. The team is under the guidance of the acclaimed heritage consultant Graham Brooks with Jonathan Bryant of Graham Brooks & Associates, with over 30 years of professional experience in Australia, Asia, UK, Europe and US.

Consultant Graham Brooks said the team was proud of the revival scheme which includes a comprehensive plan to revive gardens, interiors and facilities to a truly world class standard.

“The team philosophy is mindful of the past but always has an eye to the future to make sure the hotel continues to live well beyond current generations. Our alterations choose to borrow from the existing structures, enhance the old and provide a feeling of total renewal.”

International interior designer Peter Reeve of CRD, and a local resident, will create luxurious, new, and historically inspired interiors which reference the past and fold into the present with absolute luxe.

Mr Reeve said the work will harness the atmosphere and mood of the Hydro with a range of carpets and rich textiles based on period influences, timbers and stones, which reference the austere beauty of the Edwardian, the generosity of the Nouveau of the Belle Époque and moments of Art Deco.

“The Hydro’s original owner, Mark Foy was a visionary and this next chapter aims to continue his grand vision for the Blue Mountains,” Mr Reeves said.

The official public launch will be held in February 2013, with details to be advised closer to the time.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

82 per cent of Aussies Don't Get Enough Holidays

Do you get enough holidays? With the festive season fast approaching, this question can derive contentious responses. In fact, 82% of Australians say they don’t get adequate time to holiday, according to online travel agent

This finding came, following recent research conducted by ZUJI involving more than 1,800 people.

The research also highlighted the blurring line between work and play says Managing Director of ZUJI APAC, James Gaskell:

“75% admitted they research holidays while at work, 50% spending more than 10 hours of work time per trip. 33% say they would spend work more time researching their travel if they didn't have to worry about getting caught.”

However Gaskell says we’re also very conscientious: “More than 60% of Australians say they regularly monitor their work emails via a mobile device while on holiday.”

  • 82% say they don't go on enough breaks.
  • More than a third of us haven't had a holiday of any kind in 12 months or more.
  • The survey identified Queenslanders as the demographic most in need of a break, with 65% going more than a year since their last holiday.
  • 45% of NSW respondents were satisfied with the amount of holidays they take, making them the most satisfied state in the country.
  • Over 75% of Australians admit to researching their next holiday at work.
  • 33% of work researchers have said they'd do it more if they didn't have to worry about getting caught.· Almost 50% spend in excess of ten hours planning their next trip while at work.

Emirates Flagship A380 Network Expands East and West

Singapore and Moscow A380 services launched

Emirates' A380 destination list has flown past 20, with Singapore and Moscow joining the airline's double-decker network.

With the world's largest fleet of A380 aircraft, at 27 and another four to be delivered up to the end of 2012, Emirates continues to set the pace for A380 deployment. In the four years since the A380 has been in operation over 11.5 million passengers have flown on the aircraft, covering 169 million kilometres.

"Singapore and Moscow are both strategically important routes for Emirates," said Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline. "Deploying larger capacity aircraft, such as the A380, is central to helping us meet growing passenger demand in these markets.

"The Emirates A380 continues to peak customer interest.  Setting a new standard for aviation both in terms of customer comfort and environmental efficiency, the Emirates A380 continues to deliver strong load factors for us wherever it flies," added Mr. Clark.

Emirates' inaugural A380 service to Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow marks the first time a commercial A380 flight has touched down in the city reinforcing the airline's long-term commitment to Russia. In addition to the launch of the A380 to Moscow, Emirates will also upgrade its daily St. Petersburg service, launching a Boeing 777-300 on the route today adding a further 688 seats per week on the route.

"In Moscow the new A380 service will further drive demand for passenger and cargo services and the current buzz in the market certainly reflects this. As Emirates' South East Asian hub, Singapore will also benefit from the higher capacity aircraft which will further support the country's international trade agenda," added Mr. Clark.  

With the addition of A380 services, Emirates' total capacity across four daily services from Dubai to Singapore increases to 1,659 seats daily. In Moscow the total capacity across two daily services from Dubai to Moscow increases to 775 seats daily.

Continuing with its swift A380 utilization from December 10th Emirates will operate all five daily services from London Heathrow with an A380. New York and Paris will also benefit from the upcoming A380 deliveries, each receiving their second daily A380 service from 1st January 2013. The extensive Emirates A380 network enables many customers to now travel onboard the A380 for the full length of their journey.

Passengers in all classes can enjoy Emirates' award-winning 'ice' Digital Widescreen, the industry's most sophisticated video and audio system, offering 1,400 channels of on-demand entertainment - the largest selection of programming in the sky.

Emirates now operates to 21 A380 destinations with new cities to be announced in the coming months.

Aircraft timings;

Moscow - The new A380 service EK131, one of two daily Emirates flights to Moscow, departs Dubai at 1750hrs and arrives at Domodedovo International Airport at 2305hrs. The return flight departs Moscow at 0105hrs arriving in Dubai at 0620hrs.

Singapore - The new A380 service, one of four daily Emirates flights to Singapore, departs Dubai at 0325hrs and arrives at Changi International Airport at 1440hrs. The return flight departs Singapore at 2135hrs arriving in Dubai at 0100hrs the following day.

For flight information and bookings contact Emirates on 1300 303 777, visit your local travel agent or go to

Photos: Emirates' A380 destination list has flown past 20, with Singapore and Moscow joining the airline's double-decker network from 1st December 2012.

Emirates Adds Third French Gateway with New Service to Lyon

Five times weekly service between Dubai and Lyon

Emirates has touched down in Lyon, celebrating the international airline's third destination in France and fourth new European destination since the start of 2012.

Serviced by an Airbus 340-500 in three cabin classes, Emirates' flights to Lyon will offer a total of 258 seats including; 12 First Class Suites, 42 seats in Business Class and 204 seats in Economy Class. The addition of this new Emirates service will see an overall capacity increase of 12 per cent in France, further boosting the airline's presence in this important international market.  

The delegation on board the inaugural flight to Lyon included H.E. Alain Azouaou - French Ambassador to the U.A.E, Thierry Antinori – Emirates' Executive Vice President Passenger Sales Worldwide, Richard Jewsbury – Emirates' Senior Vice President – CO Europe & Russian Federation, Pradeep Kumar – Emirates' Senior Vice President Cargo Revenue Optimisation and Systems, Eric Giraud-Telme - French Consul General in Dubai and Claude Valle – President French Business Council Dubai & Northern Emirates and prominent members of the business community and representatives from the media.  

"The South East of France has been on our radar for some time. Lyon, as the second largest metropolitan area in France, is a strategically important market that is incredibly viable in terms of potential traffic flows through to our vast network of 49 destinations in the East, including ten points in India. We are confident that our new service will provide much needed capacity to the city's thriving commercial centre, one of the largest economies in Europe," said Thierry Antinori, Emirates' Executive Vice President Passenger Sales Worldwide.

"Our extensive destination list and all wide-bodied fleet will ensure that traffic in both directions is well stimulated. The strong interest and support in Emirates from the people of Lyon and the surrounding provinces is an excellent marker of the success we expect from this new destination," added Mr Antinori.

Feeding the underserviced Lyon region, Emirates is the first international carrier to provide direct services from Lyon to Dubai as well as key commercial hubs in the East, an important link for facilitating new trade opportunities. Business traffic to and from Lyon is expected to have a strong tie to the city's banking, pharmaceutical and biotech industries which have helped to make the Rhone-Alps region, which Lyon is the capital of, the sixth largest economy in Europe.  

For the leisure traveller, Emirates' new flight to Lyon opens the doors to the city's highly lauded culinary delights. A significant number of Michelin starred restaurants are housed in Lyon, testament to the city's moniker as the 'food capital of the world'.  

"Emirates' new service to Lyon will increase the number of international destinations accessible from Lyon considerable," said Philippe Bernand, CEO Aéroports de Lyon. "The new service will provide Lyon will an excellent link to the airline's hub in Dubai, in addition to its global network. Lyon-Saint Exupéry has strong development potential in terms of both passenger traffic and freight activity which make it the perfect partner for Emirates."

Emirates' presence in France has grown considerably this year with a capacity increase in Nice due to the introduction to a Boeing 777-300 and Paris Charles De Gaulle preparing for a double daily A380 service from January 1st 2013.

"Our commercial footprint in France has increased steadily since our first service to Paris in 1992.  Since day one we have invested significantly in France operating state-of-the-art aircraft and facilitating quick connections through Dubai to our global network. Today Emirates operates 31 flights per week between France and Dubai up from three weekly flights in 1992, further underpinning our long-term commitment to France," concluded Mr Antinori.  

Emirates passengers in Lyon will also benefit from the airline's recently launched frequent flyer partnership with easyJet that allows Skywards Miles to be redeemed for flights on easyJet across Europe.

Emirates SkyCargo will now have a weekly capacity of more than 1000 tonnes spread across the belly-hold of 31 return passenger flights serving Paris, Nice and Lyon. We expect there to be demand for a variety of commodities going into Lyon such as leather products, clothing, textiles, pharmaceuticals and electronics, while wine, machine and electronics parts, and pharmaceuticals will be transported in the other direction.

Emirates flight EK81 departs Dubai every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 1455hrs, arriving in Lyon at 1940hrs the same day. The return journey leaves Lyon at 2100hrs and arrives in Dubai at 0615hrs the next day.

Emirates passengers travelling in both directions will benefit from the airline's generous baggage allowance of 50kg in First Class, 40kg in Business Class and 30kg in Economy Class. Passengers will also enjoy the on-board ice system with over 500 channels of on-demand entertainment in all classes.

The Emirates Group currently has over 650 French Nationals working within the company and this number continues to grow as the airline holds successive recruitment days across France.

Photo caption from left to right: Emirates Cabin Crew member Victoria Lennox, Karim Mekachera - Director of Atout France, Dubai, Christophe Mousset - General Manager, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel, The Palm, Claude Valle – President French Business Council Dubai & Northern Emirates, Olivier Louis - Managing Director, One & Only Resorts, Dubai, Eric Giraud-Telme - French Consul General in Dubai, Mrs Azouaou – Wife of French Ambassador, H.E. Alain Azouaou - French Ambassador to the U.A.E, Thierry Antinori– Emirates' Executive Vice President Passenger Sales Worldwide, Yves Guyon – Ex CEO, Lyon Airport, Pradeep Kumar – Emirates' Senior Vice President Cargo Revenue Optimisation and Systems, Richard Jewsbury– Emirates' Senior Vice President – CO Europe & Russian Federation, Eyad Ali - Executive Director Business Development Media Relations – DTCM and Emirates Cabin Crew member Johanna Coq.

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places