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Thursday, March 28, 2013

G Adventures and Etihad - Famil of fun

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This is from a recent G Adventures and Etihad Airways famil to Kenya and Uganda for Student Flights.  Agents enjoyed a 9-day G Adventures trip to Kenya and Uganda - the highlights were spotting the Big 5 in the Masai Mara and gorilla trekking in Uganda.




Left to right:


Farie Bezuidenhout - SF Chadstone

Glenda Tam - Etihad Airways

Anthony Buccat - SF Hawthorn

Matt Drummond - G Adventures

Hollie Maynard - SF Innaloo, 

Prue Eltringham - SF Charlestown

Jodie Heathcote - SF Alexandra Headlands

Andrew Malon - SF Product Qld,

Sophie WilsonSF Sydney Central,

Sarah MillerSF Flinders St,

Luke Witteveen SF Randwick

Nicole Rodgers SF Knox City

Gemma Carlaw SF Newtown

James Johnson SF UQ

Edmund Kiprono G Adventures CEO

Nick Potter - SF Oxford St



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Travel Daily First Class Airline Guide

The 2013 edition of the Travel Daily First Class Airline Guide contains all the latest information on the first class offerings of airlines marketing their flights in the fast-growing Australian market.

Click here to download Travel Daily's First Class Guide 2013
Click here to display Travel Daily's First Class Guide 2013 in an online viewer

Venture Holidays to Cox and Kings Australia

 Following the purchase of Explore Worldwide last year, Cox and Kings have announced that the Australian General Sales Agency (GSA) will officially change from Venture Holidays to Cox and Kings Australia effective 01 April, 2013.

Existing Explore bookings made prior to 31 March 2013 will continue to be managed by Venture Holidays until clients have completed their travel.

Venture Holidays managing director Robert Mackay said he was proud to be associated with the Explore brand over many years and wished the company success in the new venture.

"The move is a logical one with Explore joining other Cox & Kings Australia brands including Tempo Holidays and Bentours." Mackay said.

The new reservation telephone number for Explore

1300 439 756


Monday, March 25, 2013

The Tour de France in the land of the rising sun

日出ずる国でのツールドフランス:さいたま クリテリウム by ツールドフランス 誕生

(The Tour de France in the land of the rising sun : Creation of the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France)

On 26th October 2013, Amaury Sport Organisation and the City of Saitama in Japan will launch the first Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France.

As the Tour de France prepares to celebrate its one hundredth edition, its popularity and influence beyond the French borders have never been as high.

Japan is not foreign to this phenomenon and its main TV channels have been broadcasting images of the Tour de France for the last thirty years.

Two of its representatives, Fumiyuki Beppu and Yukiya Arashiro, even featured in the final classification for the first time on the Tour de France in 2009.

Saitama and A.S.O. have therefore decided to boost the ever-growing popularity of the Tour de France in Japan, by creating the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France, an event which will see some of the world's leading riders, having won stages and worn the classification leaders' jerseys on recent editions of the Tour de France, battle it out.

It will be the very first criterium of this type that will convey the spirit and magic of Le Tour though its values and its heroes.

"Enhancing the standing of the Tour de France throughout the world is a major objective for A.S.O. and we are proud to observe the enthusiasm already generated by the creation of the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France, so far from the homeland of the world's biggest cycling event," said Mr Jean-Etienne Amaury, President of Amaury Sport Organisation.

"The creation of this new event follows on from a range of successive events in the past, including the World Championships in 1990, the creation of the "Nuit du Tour" by JSports and the appearance of Beppu and Arashiro in the race peloton, two riders who perfectly reflect Japan's growing attachment to cycling," added Mr Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France.

A new setting, a new country but the same values, such is the spirit in which the race will take place in the heart of Saitama. It will be both a major popular event as well as a promotional tool that only the Tour de France knows how to produce, thanks to the TV footage which is beamed around the world.

"Cycling brings various good values to society. My wish is that the event will bring smiles to everyone in Saitama and Japan," said Mr Hayato Shimizu, Mayor of Saitama.

A.S.O. will manage the event that will take place on a 2.7-km circuit winding through the city centre, on which a pack of 60 riders (30 Japanese and 30 international competitors) will battle it out, promising an intense and spectacular race.

Throughout the day, a village combining fun and educational activities based on the theme of cycling will be open to the spectators.

Significant resources will be devoted to promoting cycling in the city, as a sustainable means of urban transport.

On 26th October, the Tour de France will settle down in Saitama, Japan.

All information on

Mr Jean-Etienne Amaury (President of Amaury Sport Organisation) presenting the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France concept together with Mr Hayato Shimizu (Mayor of Saitama)

Mr Hayato Shimizu (Mayor of Saitama) presenting the Tour de France yellow jersey bearing the Saitama City logo and Mr Jean-Etienne Amaury (President of Amaury Sport Organisation) with the mascot of Saitama

Draft of the 2.7 km race circuit of the Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France


Last Minute Hard To Find Hotel Booking Deals For The Songkran Water Festival

Inline images 1 Has Last Minute Hard To Find Hotel Booking Deals For The Songkran Water Festival April 13 to 15, 2013 In Phuket, Thailand invites all travelers to take advantage of their last minute discount reservations and room rates with instant booking confirmation and no hidden fees for the Songkran Water Festival April 13 to 15, 2013 in Phuket, Thailand. It's not too late to plan a visit to Phuket for Songkran 2013. Get wet with and party Phuket style.

If you are looking for last minute Phuket hotel discount reservation rates for the Songkran 2013 celebrations that will take place between April 13 and 15 has rooms available all over the island and close to the different festivities. Besides our last minute booking deals for Phuket, we offer our no hidden charges, instant booking confirmation policy with all reservations.

Phuket, Pearl of the Andaman, Thailand's premier tourist destination, the idyllic Jewel in the crown of Thailand's tourist getaways is one of the world's most desired vacation spots. A spot where a traveler's every whim is catered to, and every exotic island fantasy can be realized. There is no better a time to visit than during the annual national celebrations for Songkran, just be prepared to get wet!

In the Thai language the term Songkran translates to "the sun is passing through a new configuration of stars" and this in turn signifies a change of season.  Songkran is essentially family and community event and it is a time of the year when most Thais will travel home to be with loved ones. Lots of traditional foods will be on hand, ancestors and elders will be recognized and respected with ceremony, and those seeking merit and good luck will make donations to the local temples and monks before joining in the water throwing activities that inevitably characterize this Thai New Year Holiday.

Songkran kicks off the Buddhist New Year and also signifies the end of the dry season. Traditionally Songkran was a much more solemn occasion than it is now with the ritual washing of Buddha images and bathing, making merit at local temples but over the years the rather sedate water ceremonies have become a family and friends rowdy free-for-all of throwing water, partying during the daytime, and street fairs, concerts, dancing, and drinking during the evenings.

In the provincial capital Phuket Towne much of the annual festivities and events take place in the Saphan Hin Park area, but the beachside resorts of Patong, Rawai, Kata and Karon on the southwest tip of the island, and the Kamala, Laguna and Surin Beach areas of the northwestern part of the island each have their own events and the partying takes on varying degrees of intensity.

During the Songkran holiday period all the rest of what Phuket has to offer is still open and available. The beaches are still there for a lazy day of sunbathing, the golf courses are some of the best and most beautiful in the world, the shopping is endless, and there is Thai food of every description everywhere you turn. Families are encouraged to take in a show at the famous Fantasea or Simon Cabaret, and for some a couple of hours of raucous Thai boxing, and then a refreshing beer or cocktails in one of Patong's many bars, clubs or discos is what makes for a perfect holiday.

Songkran is one of the busiest times of the year in Thailand and Phuket is no exception. Booking your transportation and hotel accommodations in advance is highly recommended and can help you plan your stay. Log on now and take advantage of our discount reservations and room rates with instant booking confirmation and no hidden fees. Come to Thailand and experience this world renowned party first hand.

New Mantra for Noosa

Noosa has welcomed a Mantra Resort to its popular Hastings Street strip with the opening of Mantra French Quarter Noosa following an extensive $5 million refurbishment.

Formerly the BreakFree French Quarter, a series of improvements have been carried out on the resort as part of the rebranding process including building a brand new Hastings Street reception and lobby to maximise its desirable location. The original lobby at the Halse Lane entrance has also completed an extensive upgrade, ensuring the arrival experience for Mantra guests sets a positive tone for their stay.

This investment complements the resort's major refurbishment of One and Two Bedroom Apartments. Over $3 million has been spent on 68 one and two bedroom apartments to upgrade them to a deluxe status with improvements such as a full internal refit to maximise floor space, new kitchens and appliances, flat screen televisions and all new furniture and fittings.

Over $1 million has also been spent to fully repaint and upgrade the resort's exterior, and to refresh the pool area and gardens.

One of the best value apartment hotels on Hastings Street – Noosa's premier address for dining, shopping and direct beachside access – the resort is ideally situated just a short walk from the entrance to the National Park and Main Beach.

Mantra Group CEO, Bob East, said it was fitting that Mantra should have a resort in Noosa alongside the three Mantra properties in neighbouring Mooloolaba.

"The resort is looking great and the upgrades will bring an extra level of comfort and style that holiday-makers to Noosa have come to expect,"he said.

Noosa's favourite local and Mantra brand ambassador, tennis legend Pat Rafter, said he was pleased to see the finished project.

"I was excited to hear that Mantra would be coming to Noosa - I've spent some time at the resorts  in North Queensland and down at Kingscliff and look forward to seeing the Mantra name on Hastings Street."

To celebrate the launch, Mantra French Quarter Noosa are offering an opening special Two-Night 'Relax & Refresh' package offering free in-house movies, popcorn and a cheese platter on arrival from $187 per night in a One Bedroom Deluxe Apartment or from $229 per night in a Two Bedroom Deluxe Apartment.  Plus, Mantra French Quarter guests will receive a free 30 minute facial when they purchase a one hour massage at the Endota Day Spa in Noosa.

Offer is valid for booking until 20 May and for travel until 24 December 2013 (subject to availability, block out dates apply.)  Visit for bookings and further details.

The new look Mantra French Quarter Noosa offers an excellent accommodation option for guests attending the upcoming Noosa Food & Wine Festival from 16 to 19 May and the ideal base for the Sunshine Coast's variety of sporting events and music festivals.

Resort facilities include a heated lagoon style pool with two spas, a sauna, children's wading pool, babysitting service and 24-hour reception.

 Visit for further information.

IHG signs first Holiday Inn Express in Australia

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Inline images 1 IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) will introduce one of the world's fastest growing hotel brands to Australia, with the signing of the Holiday Inn Express hotel in a prime Perth CBD location.

Perth-based developer Sunfire Asset has engaged IHG to manage a new-build 224-room Holiday Inn Express hotel, to be located at 257 Adelaide Terrace, overlooking the Swan River.

The new AU$35 million development will incorporate a 20-floor hotel and a circa 1888 heritage house, with construction expected to commence in mid-2013 and the opening slated for early 2015.

As a Holiday Inn Express hotel, it will offer uncomplicated guest rooms with a smart, modern and consistent layout and a select range of amenities, at a competitive price. Features will include convenient "Grab & Go" breakfast, intimate meeting spaces, self-service facilities including laundry, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

The development addresses the growing demand for additional hotel rooms in Perth, which boasts Australia's highest CBD hotel occupancy rates, sitting at 85.1 per cent in December 2012 and forecasted to rise to 88.2 per cent in the financial year to June 2015. The average price of a Perth hotel room is also expected to increase 30 per cent by December 2015 from AU$199 to AU$259*.

Head of Sunfire, Ralph Nunis said the Holiday Inn Express model offered a great solution for the Perth market and was a great fit for the development.

"There is real investment potential in Perth hotels at the moment, with the mining capital of Australia experiencing soaring room rates and a shortage of guest rooms. The CBD hasn't seen a new hotel build for more than a decade, so we're delighted to be working towards a solution for both business and leisure travellers to the city," Nunis said.

"Once open, the Holiday Inn Express business model also means we will be able to keep operational costs down and room rates at affordable levels, while meeting the highly competitive demands of the market for comfort, convenience and value."

Phil Kasselis, head of development, Australasia for IHG, said a Holiday Inn Express hotel – designed to deliver lower building costs, lower overheads and operational efficiencies – makes for a sound investment in a climate where adequate returns from new hotel construction are difficult to achieve.

"Holiday Inn Express' efficient design and a modular, no frills approach represents a more rapid build proposition than an upscale or luxury hotel, and meets the need for an affordable alternative to full service hotels. It's also a lower cost and higher yield model, which presents a faster road to profitability for owners," Kasselis said.

"We've seen Holiday Inn Express grow exponentially in international markets over the last two decades, pointing to strong demand for such a brand from both guests and investors. We've been looking for the right location and the right partner to launch the brand with here in Australia. We're confident Holiday Inn Express will do very well in Perth, among both leisure and business travellers."

Trent Zimmerman, acting chief executive officer of industry body Tourism & Transport Forum said additional accommodation capacity was essential to allow tourism to grow.

"As one of Australia's gateway cities, it is vital that visitors to Perth can access suitable and affordable accommodation," Zimmerman said.

Holiday Inn Express is one of nine IHG brands, including three brands currently operating in Australia -InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn. First launched in 1991, the Holiday Inn Express brand has grown to more than 2190 hotels worldwide - the biggest brand portfolio within the IHG estate.

Also debuting in India, Bahrain and Thailand this year, Holiday Inn Express continues to expand across AMEA (Asia, Middle East and Africa), with 12 hotels (and 2877 rooms) currently operating and 35 hotels in the pipeline. India will be home to 15 of these hotels, with 12 planned for Indonesia.

For more information on the brand, visit or

*Source: Deloitte Access Economics Tourism and Hotel Market Outlook report Q4 2012.

Yolngu Communities to Host Arnhem Land Tours


Travellers to Australia's Top End will soon be able to stay with Indigenous families in some of the most spectacular corners of Arnhem Land under plans to host guided tours of Yolngu homelands.


Lirrwi Tourism is preparing to launch multi-homeland tours that will enable visitors to experience Indigenous life and culture while camping with Yolngu families.


From later this year, the Yolngu Dhukarr tours will operate monthly for groups of up to 12 people, travelling with Indigenous guides to three different communities over five days.


Lirrwi Tourism Chairman Djawa Burarrwanga announced the tours at the Sydney Opera House on the weekend, where visiting Yolngu participated in the annual Message Sticks Festival of Indigenous arts and culture.


"Yolngu families are preparing to welcome travellers and share their way of life in the most authentic way possible," Mr Burarrwanga said. "Visitors will be able to make a personal connection with the world's oldest living culture while exploring some of Australia's most beautiful and remote landscapes."


The tours represent the next major step in the Yolngu Cultural Tourism Masterplan, which aims to develop dozens of Indigenous-owned tourism businesses and create a sustainable economy for Yolngu.


They will allow visitors to witness dance and ceremony, help gather and prepare bush foods, learn about Yolngu art, language and kinship, participate in hunting and fishing expeditions and visit locations rarely seen by outsiders.


Lirrwi Tourism Manager Matt Grooby said tour dates and prices would be announced in coming months, with the first tours to depart from Nhulunbuy later this year.


"These tours will allow Yolngu to share their culture with visitors while providing an economic foundation for their future," Mr Grooby said. "Tourism of this kind - developed by Yolngu themselves – will allow for several generations of a family to participate, helping them to remain on country and strengthen their culture."


Tours will include all ground transport, drivers, guides, camping equipment, bedding, meals and cultural experiences on three different Yolngu homelands.


To register interest contact Lirrwi Tourism by phone 08 8987 2828, email or visit



Photograph: Lirrwi Tourism Chairman Djawa Burarrwanga

Fiji Airways new A330 'Island of Taveuni'

Fiji Airways 'Island of Taveuni' - Soaring to New Horizons

Completing an 18-month journey from order to delivery, Air Pacific’s first brand new Airbus A330-200 arrived at the airline’s base of operations in Nadi, Fiji from Airbus’ facility in Toulouse, France. The aircraft represents state-of-the-art comfort, best-in-class amenities, and the strong future of Air Pacific, which is being renamed ‘Fiji Airways’ in June of 2013. The first of three Airbus A330s ordered in October 2011 and designed exclusively for Fiji’s national carrier—a first for the airline, the new aircraft carries the new ‘Fiji Airways’ branding that is authentic, distinctive, and true to the airline’s Fijian roots. The aircraft is named after one of Fiji’s 333 beautiful islands, Taveuni, also known as ‘The Garden Island.’ The airline’s second will be named Namuka-i-Lau, paying homage to Makereta Matemosi who designed the new identity for Fiji Airways and while the name of the third A330s are scheduled to arrive in May and November, respectively will be revealed later. By the end of 2013, Air Pacific will have retired its existing fleet of Boeing 747s, repainted and upgraded all of its Boeing 737s, rolled out new uniforms, and introduced a number of new customer service enhancements to reflect and elevate the new brand of ‘Fiji Airways’ which will launch in June of 2013. (Source: Air Pacific Media Center 19 March 2013)

Sydney's largest 5-star hotel brand partners with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia

Images: Pullman Sydney Hyde Park

Pullman, Australia's largest 5-star hotel brand is proud to announce it is the Official Hotel Partner of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia and as a result, will be playing host to key Australian media, revered international fashion writers, bloggers, fashion buyers, and the nation's top fashion designers.

After a move from Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal to Carriageworks in Eveleigh, this year's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia will see designers such as Jayson Brunsdon and Camilla and Marc celebrate significant milestones while the Pullman brand cements its status as Australia's most vibrant and innovative, 5-star hotel brand.

The Connectivity Lounge, a hallmark of all Pullman hotels allows guests to relax in comfortable surrounds and stay connected while on the go. During Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, a bespoke, pop up Connectivity Lounge will be installed in the Hub of the Event, where VIPs, designers, fashion buyers and journalists can relax in plush surrounds while enjoying free WiFi - ideal for bloggers and journalists wanting to update their followers on runway news.

Replicating the cosmopolitan and luxurious experience guests of Pullman hotels and resorts are accustomed to, the Connectivity Lounge will be furnished with elegant chairs, tables, ottomans and lounges, and will be hosted by Pullman Welcomers who will ensure the comfort of every guest to the Lounge.

Having recently undergone a multi-million dollar refurbishment, Pullman Sydney Hyde Park will be a hub of activity from 8-12 April 2013 as this is where the majority of fashion stars are staying. To celebrate the partnership, Bar Rendezvous, the hotel's stylish new bar will be serving a Cherry Ripe Fashionista cocktail, consisting of vodka, crème de cacao, 15ml of Mozart and a splash of raspberry puree.

Guests and passersby of Pullman Sydney Hyde Park will also be able to watch the day's highlight runway shows from large TV screens installed in the lobby, while huge black and white behind-the-scenes photographs of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks gone by, will be displayed around the hotel.

Located directly opposite Sydney's iconic Hyde Park and close to the cultural, dining and fashionable precincts of the CBD and inner city suburbs, Pullman Sydney Hyde Park is the city's newest fashionable hotel after completing a multi-million dollar refurbishment. All of the 241-guestrooms are stylish and spacious in design and boast an abundance of natural light with views of Hyde Park, Sydney CBD, Woolloomooloo and beyond.

The picturesque ECQ Bar at Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour is a popular venue for sunset cocktails and will become an exclusive hub for MBFWA after parties.

While Pullman may be the newest 5-star hotel name in Australia, it was renowned for changing the face of American overnight accommodation in the 19th century when Pullman railway carriages - known as 'palaces on wheels' - were introduced. With opulent sleeping cars and fine dining carriages, they changed train travel from a mode of transportation into a luxury travel experience.

Pullman is now having a similar impact on the Australian hotel scene as it is now the country's largest 5-star hotel brand - taking over from Hilton - while the renovation of Pullman hotels in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne will cement its status as Australia's leading 5-star hotel brand.


French wines & Fashion @ Pullman Sydney Hyde Park

Pullman Sydney Hyde Park invites you to see the daily runway shows in Bar Rendezvous every night from 6pm between 8-12 April.

Watch the best Australian Fashion has to offer while taking a fanciful culinary flight to France.

Enjoy 3 French wines matched to 3 canapés for $35 per person. Canapés include:

Prosciutto, cherry bocconcini, basil and apple balsamic with Soleil Cremant de Bourgogne.
Pacific Oyster, citrus dressing and finger lime pearls with Peleton Pinot Noir.
Rice paper roll, vermicelli chicken with Peleton Chardonnay.

Pullman Sydney Hyde Park, 36 College Street, Sydney. Phone (02) 9361 8400.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Adventure Travel body reinforces values

Passengers from Delfin II explore the Amazon (

Adventure Travel Trade Association Recognizes Values Statement Commitment as "Cost of Entry" to Adventure Tourism Industry Sector

Setting precedent for the global adventure tourism sector, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) today has released a Values Statement — a new prerequisite of membership in the near 900-member global community representing more than 80 nations — to ensure members of its community put effort towards nurturing, protecting and professionalizing sustainable development of the adventure travel industry.

As a trade association made up of travel organizations including tour operators, destinations, travel agents, accommodations and more, committing to these values motivates members to move their businesses towards performing responsibly and considering the whole of their actions in the global community.

“Our newly established shared values were several years in the making and were formed through a collaborative process between the ATTA team, advisory board, our members and input from our partners at the UNWTO,” said ATTA President Mr. Shannon Stowell. “As adventure tourism faces steep growth in the coming years, it is critical that we establish, commit to and act upon what we believe are the key values of our organization and our members as a whole. How we conduct ourselves will set the highest standards of responsibility, of care-taking of the people and places upon which our industry depends.”

With this announcement, ATTA members must now agree to the Values Statement prior to membership confirmation or renewal. After last week’s private announcement, more than 100 members voluntarily signed the Values. In signing, ATTA members state that they too will strive and move toward these values (in brief):

1) Tourism Ethics - The ATTA affirms and agrees with the UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism

2) Protection of Children - The ATTA believes in the protection of children from harmful effects of tourism and is a signatory of

3) Responsibility - The ATTA believes in the universal standards put forth by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), and that tourism businesses and destinations should adopt the criteria specifically in these four areas:

-Demonstrating effective sustainable management
-Maximizing social and economic benefits to the local community and minimizing negative impacts
-Maximizing benefits to cultural heritage and minimizing negative impacts
-Maximizing benefits to the environment and minimizing negative impacts

4) Community Principles established by the ATTA and its active Members — when working under the auspices as aforementioned — “...will treat each other and travelers with respect and professionalism and conduct business with safety, honesty and integrity. As a community, we will seek to improve our own organization’s compliance with the points noted above. As a community, we will wherever possible seek to assist other organizations and professionals within the association to achieve success, both in the pursuit of the values noted above and in business.”

When reviewing the Values, Secretary-General of the UNWTO Mr. Taleb Rifai said, “UNWTO welcomes the ATTA Values Statement and encourages all ATTA members to promote and implement these principles in their activities as a means to build a more responsible tourism sector. UNWTO is particularly pleased to see that ATTA has incorporated the principles of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism approved by the UN General Assembly in 2001 in its Values Statement and commends ATTA’s vision for the future of tourism.”

The ATTA has translated these Values into Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Mandarin Chinese with German and French versions impending. Once members sign the Values they are encouraged to share these Values that they hold as part of the ATTA community with their travelers and clients.

Click for full statement (PDF)

About Adventure Travel Trade Association

Established in 1990, the Seattle-based Adventure Travel Trade Association, serving nearly 900 members worldwide, serves as the hub for tour operators, tourism boards, media, specialty agents, adventure accommodations and industry partners with a vested interest in the sustainable development of adventure tourism. Host of the annual Adventure Travel World Summit trade conferences, the ATTA is dedicated to unifying, networking, professionalizing, promoting and responsibly growing the adventure travel market. The ATTA also publishes, the adventure tourism community’s news source and makes possible www.Adventure.Travel, the traveler’s guide for trusted tour operators from around the globe specializing in physical, cultural and nature-based adventures.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Martin Ferguson resigns as Federal Tourism Minister.

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ATEC today congratulated retiring Labor Minister, Martin Ferguson, on his contribution to the industry during his time as Federal Tourism Minister.
"Minister Ferguson has made an enormous contribution to the Australian tourism industry over the past 5 years and the industry has benefited greatly from his focus, dedication and vision," ATEC Managing Director, Felicia Mariani said today.
"In that time Mr Ferguson has helped to bring the various state and federal entities together in order to focus our industry on a long term strategy to overcome some of the issues that have held it back in the past.
"He has been a tremendous support and advocate for the industry, but most importantly he has set a vision and goal for his department and his agency and then let them get on with the job.
"Tourism gained a strong friend and supporter with his appointment to the portfolio which finally brought a significant voice for tourism to the cabinet table.  Deservedly, he has earned a great deal of influence and respect amongst his cabinet colleagues.
ATEC Chairman, John King OAM, said Mr Ferguson would be sorely missed as a leading supporter of the tourism industry.
He said ATEC had enjoyed a close and productive working relationship with Mr Ferguson since he was first appointed Shadow Minister for Tourism and had developed the highest respect for his commitment to, and understanding of, the issues of tourism.
"He will be particularly remembered for his passion and drive for the development of the important Chinese tourism market to Australia and for the greater involvement and employment of Indigenous people in tourism," Mr King said.

Aussies Warned of Dengue Fever Dangers in Bali

Stray dogs being killed in Bali in an attempt to control rabies

New research from the West Australian Health Department has found a major increase in health risks for travellers to Bali, one of the most popular holiday destinations for Australians. In 2012, a total of 2,605 infectious diseases were acquired overseas. Of these, 41 per cent were caught in Indonesia, mostly in Bali.

In particular, Travel Insurance Direct has witnessed an increase in gastroenteritis and Dengue Fever, through a rise in insurance claims[1]. Internal data over the past 12 months reveals:

·         Medical claims account for 50% of all claims from travellers to Thailand and Bali
·         Of those medical claims, half are related to gastroenteritis and food poisoning
·         Dengue fever accounts for just under 10% of medical claims in Bali

According to Travel Insurance Direct, the alarming data highlights the need for better education about the risks of travelling abroad and the preventative measures travellers can take to reduce the risk of serious diseases.

Dengue Fever - Covering yourself head to foot in loose-fitting, light-coloured clothes is not ideal in a hot tropical climate! Other more convenient tips include:

·         Slop on plenty of insect repellent to exposed skin during the day – Australians are accustomed to an influx of mozzies at sunset and sunrise, but the type of mosquito that carries Dengue Fever is active during the day, in shaded areas and in built-up urban areas.

·         When you arrive at your accommodation in Bali look around for any stagnant water. Check old pots and upturned cans and dishes as these quickly become breeding grounds for mozzies. Plus, if any of those floral offerings around your accommodation haven't been replaced for a day or two, remove them yourself. Decaying flowers are perfect for mosquito breeding. (But remember to be respectful; they play an important role in the religious life of the Balinese.)

Bali Belly - key precautions to avoid Bali belly include:

·         Insist on food being prepared freshly for you, as there is no way of knowing whether it has been stored in optimal conditions
·         Stick to bottled water
·         Take a bottle of hand sanitizer with you and as well as giving your hands the once over, wipe your cutlery and glassware before use.

Rabies - Dogs are considered holy to the Balinese, which is why they're allowed to roam freely. Unfortunately this has lead to an explosion in the dog population, and an increase in rabies. If you are bitten this is where your travel insurance can really pay off.

The below graph represents growth in percentage of medical claims over the past year for Travel Insurance Direct:

Qantas Welcomes The Ellen Degeneres Show to Australia

Qantas has welcomed The Ellen DeGeneres Show down under for a 6 day visit that is expected to boost the global profile of Australia as a great place to visit.

Qantas has partnered with Australian company Swisse Wellness, which is bringing The Ellen DeGeneres Show to Australia to film a series of segments screening worldwide in April, as part of the airline's support for tourism.

The talk show host and her crew arrived into Sydney on QF108 from Los Angeles this morning on an A380 temporarily renamed The Ellen DeGeneres Show Express for the 14 hour flight.

Chief Executive Officer of Qantas, Alan Joyce, said having the popular show film segments in Victoria and New South Wales was a major coup for tourism.

"Australia has already been a regular feature on The Ellen DeGeneres Show since this trip was announced in January," said Mr Joyce.

"The exposure so far, the coverage from this visit and the segments filmed in Australia to be screened as part of the show is priceless for the tourism industry. It's another way to showcase our everyday culture, natural beauty, iconic wildlife and our sense of humour.

"We are excited to be part of it and thrilled that Ellen, her family and her crew chose to fly with Qantas for her very first trip to Australia," he added.

As part of the original announcement of the visit, Qantas gave each member of The Ellen DeGeneres Show audience on the day a free return trip to Sydney or Melbourne. More than 100 audience members have already booked their flight, with a quarter of them choosing to bring another person.

Audience members were given the ability to pick travel dates that suited them and the average trip duration so far is seven days. More bookings are expected around the November Thanksgiving holiday period in the US.

The United States is a key source market for Australian tourism.

Qantas operates a total of 37 flights a week between Australia and the United States. Bookings from the US during January and February have shown a significant strengthening compared with the same period in the past year.

The Ellen Degeneres Show has a global audience of more than 16 million people in 23 countries.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

MTA Driving for Daniel

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Doing their bit for a very worthy cause, three MTA - Mobile Travel Agents' consultants took part in a Queensland travel industry charity golf day at Carbook Golf Club last week to raise funds for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation.

The MTA consultants, Ann McKinnon, Bettiann Gain and Jonica Gilbert invited valued clients Carol Aamodt, John Clancy, Donna Playford, Lorna Hughes and Dianne Jones to partner them with all donning red, the Foundation's official colour, to join close on 150 of their industry peers taking part in the 'Drive for Daniel Golf Day'.

The golf day annually raises much-needed funds for the Foundation which, created by Daniel Morcombe's parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe, is designed to deliver 'harm prevention' and 'personal safety' initiatives from which hundreds of youngsters and vulnerable people in the community benefit from.

MTA Managing Directors, Roy and Karen Merricks are strong supporters of both the foundation and the annual event.

The 2013 golf day raised more than $11,500 towards the 'Red Truck' program which visits schools delivering a 'Stranger Danger' message.

Pictured at the event with founder Denise Morcombe (second from right) are (from left to right): Donna Playford, Lorna Hughes, Jonica Gilbert and Dianne Jones.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Garuda Indonesia releases Brisbane flights

Airline's fourth Australian port to be reintroduced in August 2013

Garuda Indonesia, the airline of Indonesia, has announced its newly introduced flights departing Brisbane are now on sale via the airline's website and reservations team and through its partner travel agents.

Beginning on the 1st of August 2013, flights will depart daily from Brisbane to Denpasar on Garuda Indonesia's B737-800 Next Generation aircraft with a seating capacity of 162 passengers, comprising 12 in Executive and 150 in Economy Class.

Commenting on the new route, Bagus Y. Siregar, Vice President for Garuda Indonesia Australia and SWP said: "We're very excited that our Queensland customers can now book flights with us directly to Denpasar and Garuda Indonesia's vast network. The new service will operate daily with connecting flights to Jakarta, catering to both the leisure and corporate market."

Queensland's Treasurer and Minister for Trade, Tim Nicholls, welcomed the new daily service: "I congratulate Garuda Indonesia on this decision, which will build on our vital trade, tourism and education connections. It cements Indonesia as a major economic partner for our State."

Flying with the World's Best Regional Airline, passengers will be able to enjoy the Garuda Indonesia Experience with a uniquely Indonesian in-flight menu, warm hospitality - reflected in the service, on-board décor and its staff - and a Video on Demand (VOD) entertainment systems offering 35 feature films, 10 television programs, 48 music albums and 25 interactive video games.

With Garuda Indonesia's free sporting equipment allowance all passengers will also be able to take up to 23kg extra checked baggage in addition to the carrier's baggage allowance of 30kg in Economy and 40kg in Executive Class.

Fares start from $801* return including taxes

Garuda Indonesia's network expansion have also been boosted by the recently announced Etihad codeshare, which will see the airline's network increase from 19 international destinations to more than 80 cities in 50 countries, with almost 3,000 weekly flights covering Asia Pacific, Europe, The Middle East, Africa and North America.

For further information contact your preferred travel agent or call Garuda Indonesia on
1300 365 330 or visit

*Conditions apply. Prices are per person return ex Brisbane. Taxes and fuel surcharges are included and correct as of 20 March 2013 and are subject to change. Bookings must be paid and ticketed by 30 June 13. Valid for the following travel departures (1 Aug – 20 Sep 13, 01 Oct – 07 Dec 13, 15 Jan – 31 Mar 14). Conditions apply – limited seat availability.

Hawaiian Airlines Hawaii and USA Sale

Hawaii and USA on Sale!

More Flights and Special Offers for Passengers Aged 17 and Under

Sale fares from Australia to Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco,

Seattle, San Jose, San Diego, Las Vegas, Portland, Phoenix, Oakland, Sacramento

SYDNEY: Hawaiian Airlines has announced a "Hawaii and USA Sale!" offering special fares from 28 Australian cities to Hawaii and 11 US mainland cities. The discounted fares are on sale from now until midnight on 31 March, 2013, for travel until 12 December, 2013*.

Hawaiian Airlines is also making family travel more affordable. The airline will extend its children's fares during the sale so that passengers aged 17 and under can enjoy a heavily discounted child's fare normally available only to children aged 11 years and under.

Travellers flying Hawaiian to North America via Honolulu can also take advantage of free stopovers in Hawaii, giving them added itinerary flexibility.

The 15 destinations offered in the sale include: Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, San Diego, Las Vegas, Portland, Phoenix, Oakland, Sacramento. Just some of the specials (inclusive of taxes) include return economy class fares priced from:
  • Honolulu - $1087 per person ex Sydney, $1092 ex Brisbane and $1122 ex Melbourne.
  • Los Angeles - $1512 per person ex Sydney $1517 ex Brisbane and $1539 ex Melbourne.
  • New York - $1662 per person ex Sydney $1667 ex Brisbane and $1689 ex Melbourne.
The "Hawaii and USA Sale" fares are available from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne Gold Coast, Canberra, Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Emerald, Gladstone, Hamilton Island, Hervey Bay, Maroochydore, Newcastle, Whitsunday Coast, Port Macquarie, Albury, Adelaide, Hobart, Launceston, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton, Townsville, Perth, Darwin, Hayman Island, Ayers Rock and Alice Springs.

Domestic flight connections to Hawaiian Airlines' international departures from Sydney and Brisbane are operated by interline partner Virgin Australia.

Hawaiian Airlines now flies daily from Sydney to Honolulu and three times per week from Brisbane to Honolulu, with onward connections to Maui, Kauai, Hawaii Island and US mainland destinations. To meet strong demand from Australian travellers, Hawaiian has added 27 extra flights between Honolulu and Sydney and Brisbane commencing in September 2013. The new flights will add approximately 7,700 new air seats on the two routes during a peak travel period for Australian travellers.

Daily Sydney-Honolulu services will increase to 10 flights per week from 11 September to 19 October, adding 17 extra flights to the schedule. Between Brisbane and Honolulu, departures will increase from three to five flights per week from 13 September to 14 October, adding 10 extra flights to the schedule.

Hawaiian Airlines is a full service carrier. Our fares from Australia include complimentary meals, drinks, earphones and inflight entertainment. On board we offer pillows, blankets and slumber masks. We also offer a generous 64 kilo per person baggage allowance enabling our passengers to check in two items each weighing up to 32 kilograms.

Our "Hawaii and USA Sale!" fares are fully inclusive of all taxes. Passengers aged 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult. The fares apply to departures between March and 12 December, 2013 during low and shoulder season. Hawaiian Airlines has extended low season for the sale to include more departures in April, May, June, July and August. Further information is available and bookings can be made via Hawaiian Airlines web site, our toll free number 1300 669 106, or via participating travel agents.

About Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian has led all U.S. carriers in on-time performance for each of the past eight years (2004-2011) as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Consumer surveys by Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Zagat have all ranked Hawaiian the highest of all domestic airlines serving Hawaii. Now in its 83rd year of continuous service, Hawaiian is Hawaii's biggest and longest-serving airline, as well as the largest provider of passenger air service from its primary visitor markets on the U.S. mainland. Hawaiian offers nonstop service to Hawaii from more U.S. gateway cities (11) than any other airline, along with service from Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, American Samoa, and Tahiti. New nonstop service between Honolulu and Sapporo, Japan and Brisbane, Australia will begin in October and November 2012, respectively, with flights commencing in March 2013 from Auckland, New Zealand. Hawaiian also provides approximately 170 daily jet flights between the Hawaiian Islands. Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. is a subsidiary of Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HA). Additional information is available at

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lion Air lines up for Australia launch

Lion Air placed a firm order with Airbus for 234 A320 family aircraft

Indonesia's low cost carrier Lion Air has sent a strong signal that it intends to be a major force in Asia's skies.

The airline has placed an order with Airbus for a record 234 planes worth US$24bn.

The order trumps last year's record order for 230 Boeing planes - also from Lion Air.

The two orders, once fulfilled, would put the airline in the world's top 10 by number of aircraft, although Lion Air is banned from flying within both the 27-nation European Union and the US over fears that its safety standards are not up to scratch.

The planes are all in the A320 family of planes and the first are due for delivery in 2014.

Lion Air recently confirmed plans to launch Lion Air Australia and Lion Air Thailand subsidiaries.

The airline has reportedly reached an agreement to acquire 49% of an unnamed Australian company and base six aircraft in Australia.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Uniworld's Queen Isabel to be named by Andie MacDowell

Andie MacDowell

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises will inaugurate its newest ship, the Queen Isabel, in Portugal's Porto on March 22, 2013 and she will be named by one of Hollywood's leading actresses, Andie MacDowell.

MacDowell's many hits include the academy award nominated Four Weddings and a Funeral; Sex, Lies and Videotape; and Groundhog Day. MacDowell has also been the face of L'Oreal for more than 25 years.


Uniworld has named the ship Queen Isabel after one of Portugal's most beloved queens. The Queen Isabel will have a 118 passenger capacity with 18 junior suites at 20 sq. metres and two bigger suites at 30 sq. metres on the top deck—all with full balconies—and staterooms on the main deck will have French balconies.

Uniworld’s Queen Isabel
Queen Isabel Suite
Public areas include a lounge with full-service bar; an outside bar; restaurant with an outside dining area; sun deck with swimming pool; and fitness/spa area. She will sail Uniworld's popular 10-night Portugal, Spain and the Douro River itinerary. The Queen Isabel replaces the Douro Spirit, which Uniworld inaugurated in 2011.

"Uniworld has launched a number of ships over the years here, but Queen Isabel will have a more classic style and timeless elegance similar to Uniworld's other ships in Europe, which are all uniquely designed and decorated," says Guy Young, President of Uniworld.

"We are delighted that Ms. MacDowell will be Godmother of our new ship as she represents the same timeless beauty and elegance that befittingly represents the Queen Isabel."

Visit for more information or speak with your local or travel agent.

Connect with Uniworld by following us on Twitter @UniworldAUS or by becoming a Facebook fan via

About Uniworld

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, the world's only authentic boutique cruise line, is recognised in Travel + Leisure's World's Best Top Small Ship Cruise Lines; Condé Nast Traveler's prestigious Gold List, Readers' Poll for Top 25 Small Ships, and its Readers' Choice Awards for World's Top Small Ship Cruise Lines and Best River Cruise Ships. Uniworld was also rated among the top 3 cruise lines in Zagat Survey® in the categories of Top Cabins and Top Dining, and is the only river cruise line represented in their cruise survey. Uniworld offers over 500 departures on 39 itineraries sailing on 12 rivers in 20 countries throughout Europe, Russia, Egypt, and China.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Malaysia Airlines' new A380

Airbus delivers 100th A380 to Malaysia Airlines

Airbus delivers 100th A380 to Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines and Airbus together marked a major achievement earlier, with the hand-over of the 100th A380 to MAS at Airbus’ Henri Ziegler Delivery Centre in Toulouse, France.

The aircraft is the sixth A380 for MAS.

“We are delighted that our 100th A380 delivery is to Malaysia Airlines as this gives us an early glimpse into the future shape of aviation,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus president and chief executive.

“We see a growing demand from dynamic, competitive airlines such as MAS for larger aircraft, with many markets and routes, and in particular in the fast developing Asia-Pacific region, being ideally suited to A380s.”

Now in its sixth year of commercial service, the A380 is flying with nine world class airlines.

To date, the worldwide fleet has carried some 36 million passengers in 100,000 flights.

Previous generation Very Large Aircraft (VLA 400 seats and above) would have required 140,000 flights.

This reduction in flights brings essential relief to airport-congestion and the environment.

The corresponding saving of 5.7 million tonnes of CO2, demonstrates the A380 generates more revenue whilst minimising emissions and noise.

The A380 fleet performs over 140 flights per day and carries over one and a half million people each month.

Passengers can hop on board one of the A380s, which are either taking off or landing every six minutes at one of the 32 international airports where it operates to date.

On top of these, more than 50 other airports are getting prepared to accommodate the A380 and answer the airlines’ need for more A380 destinations.

Over the next 20 years, more than 1,700 VLA such as the A380 will have been delivered. Asia Pacific leads demand (45 per cent) for these high capacity aircraft, followed by the Middle East (23 per cent) and Europe (19 per cent).

Typically seating 525 passengers in three classes, the aircraft is capable of flying 8,500 nautical miles or 15,700 kilometres non-stop, carrying more people at lower cost and with less impact on the environment.

The spacious, quiet cabin and smooth ride have made the A380 a firm favourite with passengers, resulting in higher load factors wherever it flies.

Since 2006 the A380 has registered repeat orders by satisfied customers every year, bringing the total order book to date to 262 from 20 customers.

Another Carnival Cruises ship stranded

Carnival Dream stranded in Caribbean

Passengers on the Carnival Dream have been stranded in the Caribbean after the ship developed equipment problems.

The incident comes just a month after passengers were stranded for four days in the Gulf of Mexico on board the Carnival Triumph in what some described as toxic conditions.

Several passengers aboard the Carnival Dream, which is currently docked in Philipsburg, St Maarten in the Caribbean talked of human waste all over the floor in some bathrooms, as well as power outages.

According to a statement from the cruise line, Carnival Dream developed a technical issue with the ship's backup emergency diesel generator.

"At no time did the ship lose power and the ship's propulsion systems and primary power source was not impacted.

"There were periodic interruptions to elevators and restroom services for a few hours last night," added the statement.

Carnival is making arrangements to fly all guests home via private charter flights and scheduled flights from St. Maarten.

The cruise line confirmed it would cancel the ship's next voyage which is scheduled to depart on Saturday, March 16th.

Guests scheduled to sail on this cruise will receive a full refund and 25 per cent off a future seven-day cruise.

Guests who re-book will have their current rate protected on the future sailing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

MSC Cruises to become the world’s third largest cruise line

Inline images 1

The much anticipated launch this month of the MSC Preziosa will push MSC Cruises into the world's third spot for passenger capacity.

It will be the first time the family-owned cruise line has reached such a high position, closing in on first and second placeholders Carnival Cruises and Royal Caribbean International with an annual capacity of 1.45 million guests across its 12 ships.

"We see it as a very significant milestone," said Lynne Clarke, managing director of MSC Cruises Australia and New Zealand.

"When you consider MSC Cruises is a family owned company, it's a great achievement to be positioned so high against such public listed corporations," she said

"MSC Cruises has come such a long way since launching the first cruise ship, the now decommissioned MSC Melody, in 1997.

"In fact, since 2003, we have had an exciting time launching another 11 ships with the MSC Preziosa, about to be officially unveiled."

The newcomer, to be the fourth member of the cruise line's ever-expanding Fantasia class, will be christened by the MSC Cruises' godmother, screen legend Sophia Loren, in a gala event in the Italian port of Genoa on Saturday, March 23.

The delivery of the MSC Preziosa will see MSC Cruises increase passenger capacity to 1.45 million on 12 ships this year, a 9.4 percent capacity increase over 2012, leaving such cruise lines as Costa Crociere, Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line in its wake.

MSC Cruises' "bronze medal" ranking is based on data received from the 2013 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.

By market, MSC Cruises is expected to have over 50 per cent of its capacity in the Mediterranean, 14 per cent in South America, 12.5 percent in Northern Europe, and the remainder in Africa, the Caribbean, Canary Islands and Red Sea.

Details: MSC Cruises, phone 1300 028502 (Australia), 0508 4278473 (NZ),

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dont blow it under tough new French drink driving laws

SELF-drive holidays specialists, DriveAway Holidays has a novel surprise in glove-boxes for clients collecting one of their rental or long-term lease cars, people-movers or motorhomes when visiting or driving into France – two disposable breath-test kits.

Inline images 1

It's because from 1 July 2012 France has made it compulsory for all vehicles to have a breath test kit on board for drivers to self-check their alcohol level, with an on-the-spot fine of Euro11 (approx AU$13.50) if you are stopped by police and don't have one.

"Our suppliers are putting two into every vehicle on pick-up so if you are stopped by police and have already used one kit, you've still a spare until you've time to purchase a replacement at a supermarket or service station for around AU$2.50 to $5," said DriveAway's Senior Marketing Manager, Chris Cowley.

The legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers in France is 0.05%, although while the new self breath-test laws came into force on July 1, they won't be enforced until November 1 this year.

For more information contact DriveAway Holidays on 1300 363 500 or visit

Monday, March 11, 2013

Peru reports 17 per cent increase in Aussie arrivals

Lake Titicaca in Peru

Peru''s 2012 visitor arrival figures confirm that the South American destination is attracting more Australian travellers to its shores year-on-year. The latest visitor arrival statistics from PromPeru show a 17 per cent increase in the number of Aussies visiting Peru in 2012, with 35,745 arrivals reported compared to 30,436 in 2011.

Peru is fast becoming a destination of choice amongst discerning Australian travellers, seeking rich culture, ancient past and a diversity of experiences. PromPeru's coordinator for the Asia-Pacific region, Ms Rosana Guinea, attributes the rise in Australian visitors to increased awareness of the destination in the market, as well as a gastronomic boom that has firmly placed Peru on the foodie trail.

"Peru is rich with history and culture, but it is the combination of old and new experiences that is enticing Aussie travellers to the region, and inspiring them to come back again and again. Peru has evolved into an exhilarating mix of colourful heritage, contemporary culture and art, world-class cuisine and new discovery. This combined with an influx of new product, including luxury and boutique hotel openings, has helped put us firmly on the traveller map.

"PromPeru has also been working closely with the trade in the Australian market to showcase the wealth of opportunities and experiences Peru has to offer, and we are thrilled to see the results of ours and our partners' efforts in the increase in visitor arrivals. We are looking forward to continuing the trend in 2013 and beyond," said Ms Guinea.

With various new hotel openings, increased domestic air connections and new and unique experiences to explore in 2013, PromPeru anticipates arrival numbers from Australia to continue to grow.

PromPeru is also working with the trade to increase awareness of Peru's many lost cities and past civilisations beyond Machu Picchu.

"While Machu Picchu is a highlight of any trip to Peru, the country has many archaeological sites which are a legacy of even more ancient times than the Incas. The pre-Inca Moche Route in the north coast for example provides a great foundation for the exploration of Peru's past, or further discovery for the second time visitor," said Ms Guinea.

For more information on Peru please visit

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sydney's first on-site airport hotel to open in May

Sydney’s only on-site airport hotel, Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel, is set to open at the international terminal in May, creating a hub for both local and international business and leisure travellers and another first for the city.
The Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel is expected
to open at the International Terminal in May.
The 4.5 star, 318 room hotel will boast the highest standards in environmental practices, IT connectivity, food and beverage offerings. Set over 11 floors, it will house a restaurant, sports bar, gym and 11 different spaces for functions and events, including rooftop spaces with breathtaking views of the international runway, surrounding area and city skyline.

“The hotel is set to be a hub not just for travellers, but also interstate and overseas business guests," said Tish Nyar, general manager for Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel. "Being conveniently located just ten minutes from Sydney CBD by train and right next to both terminal buildings, the hotel is the perfect location for people coming to Sydney and looking for somewhere to hold a meeting or function that is more easily accessible than the usual Sydney venues and offers great parking rates.”
Inside the lobby at the Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel.
The rooms themselves offer seven different layouts from the Superior Queen Room to Deluxe King Suite, all equipped with Rydges Dream Beds. Despite being situated right at the terminal, special glass has been installed so that the noise levels are lower than most city hotel rooms and direct views of the runway can be enjoyed in peace.

Offering guests and visitors a tasty alternative, the hotel’s restaurant - The Blackwattle Grill - will specialise in modern Australian cuisine with a seafood accent. Meats and seafood from the grill will be complemented by lighter choices, perfect for those about to board a flight. The restaurant will also provide the food for 24-hour room service.

The more casual Champs Sports Bar will boast over-sized plasma monitors, showing all the latest sports from around the globe, as well as important airport and flight information. There will be plenty of ice-cold Aussie beer on tap, as well as a substantial bar menu.

Bookings are now open.

Friday, March 8, 2013

SAA wins annual on-time performance service award, beating African and Middle East carriers

South African Airways (SAA) has won a major award with a 91%-plus on-time performance
record for the Africa and Middle East region in 2012, beating major global carriers.

SAA’s Regional Manager for Australasia, Tim Clyde-Smith said the recognition last week from
FlightStats, the world leader in flight and airport information services, was a further testament to
the airline’s ability to take on some of the world’s leading carriers and win.

“FlightStats last week announced their On Time Performance Service Awards for airlines across
the globe. SAA, with a 91.17% on time performance (OTP) average, won in the Middle East and
Africa Major Airlines category,” Tim said.

“This is an outstanding award and reflects the hard work we have been doing at SAA to maintain
the performance of the airline in the region while maintaining high standards of customer service
and product enhancements,” he said.

“The category includes airlines based in the Middle East and Africa that operate at least 30,000
scheduled flights annually within the region with flight status coverage threshold set at 80%.”

“Other finalists included Etihad, Emirates, Gulf Air, Qatar and Saudi Arabian, so this is a major
achievement for SAA.”

The OPS Awards programme recognises airlines around the world that achieve sustained
operational excellence. Airlines are recognised for delivering the highest percentage of flights to
their arrival gates within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time.

“At SAA we’re delighted we’ve been able to demonstrate we can take on the major airlines and
win with outstanding on-time performance,” Tim concluded.

Note for editor: SAA has daily non-stop flights between Sydney and Perth to Johannesburg, with
direct connections to the largest network in Africa. SAA is consistently voted the 'Best Airline &
Cabin Crew in Africa' winning it for the 16th consecutive year in the Travel Weekly Globe Awards
in London. SAA took out top honours at the recent WTA awards in London, with three awards
in the Africa category. SAA is a member of STAR, the world’s largest alliance which offers more
than 21,500 daily flights to 1,356 airports in 193 countries.

For information on FlightStats awards:

For more information on SAA flights and reservations please call 1300 435 972 or see

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Australia ready for Astor


All hands on deck as Australia prepares for Astor

Brochures now available for Fremantle-based premium cruise ship

The owners of the 620-passenger cruise ship Astor have left Australia confident in their decision to base the premium vessel in Fremantle for the next three summers.

Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) UK announced early last month that it will be sending Astor to Fremantle for the 2013-14 Summer, the first of three seasons that it will be based Down Under. There are 15 itineraries being offered during her inaugural season.

After a week-long visit that included Sydney, Perth and Fremantle, Mr Christian Verhounig (Chairman and MD of CMV UK) said: ``We are genuinely encouraged by the positive response that we received from members of Australia's travel industry of our decision to bring Astor to Australia. There appears already to be much anticipation surrounding her arrival in December.
``Our visit has left us more confident than ever in our decision to base a premium vessel in Fremantle for the next three Australian summers.
``Our discussions with key industry stakeholders also confirmed our belief that Australia's growing number of cruise-goers are ready to have a greater standard of vessel than they have ever seen based in their waters.''

Mr Nicolas Tragakes (Chairman of Global Maritime Group), Mr Verhounig and Mr Alexios Tsokos (CEO CMV USA) also oversaw the launch of operations of the CMV Australia office, in Sydney.

The purpose of the visit was to:
       Launch CMV Australia's website,, which includes information about everything you need to know about Astor;
       Deliver Astor's 2013-14 summer brochure to travel agents;
       Open CMV Australia's sales office in Sydney;

The national sales office for CMV Australia is located at:
Suite 206, Level 2, 506 Miller Street, Cammeray, NSW.
Phone: Reservations – 1300 307 934.

Media wanting a copy of Astor's 2013-14 Australian summer brochure can contact Brad Elborough on 0417 175 434 or

SAVER FARES: ** For a limited introductory period, CMV Australia is offering generous early booking deals for Astor's inaugural 2013/14 summer cruising season. Saver Fares offer discounts of up to 25% on full published fares, applicable to a limited number of twin and single cabin bookings made prior to May 15, 2013. This discount is not applicable to the New Year's Eve celebration cruise.


Length – 176.5m / Width – 22.61m / Draught – 6.1m
Gross tonnage – 20,606 tonne
Cabins / suites / premium suites – 247 / 39 / 3
278 international officers and crew

·          The ASTOR was built in Germany in 1987 and underwent an AUD$18.6 million refurbishment in 2010 to the cabins and public areas. She has cruised in Europe for the demanding German market for the past 10 years.
·          The ASTOR has seven passenger decks and is a premium, fully stabilised and air-conditioned cruise liner with a maximum capacity of 620 guests.
·          The ASTOR boasts the impressive Waldorf Restaurant, which offers traditional cruise two sitting, fixed-time dining options. Alternatively, passengers can opt for the more informal experience of the sun-drenched Übersee Club Bistro.
·          The ASTOR has five lounge areas - the theatre style ASTOR Lounge, for some truly sparkling entertainment from the highly acclaimed show-team; the elegant Captain's Club, a perfect venue for pre-dinner cocktails with the resident pianist; the intimate Hanse Bar which leads onto the stylish Sonnen (Sun) Terrace Bar, with wonderful panoramic ocean views; and the Poolside Bar.
·          A popular feature of the ASTOR is the Sports Deck, with a volleyball court, half court tennis, jogging track, golf practice facility, big board chess and space for yoga.
·          Other facilities include the ship's Library, the Card Room, an internet café, a shopping arcade featuring a boutique, jeweller, perfumery and the Wellness Centre, which offers hairdressing and beauty treatments, an indoor swimming pool, ocean view fitness and exercise equipment, and sauna and massage facilities.
·          There is an outdoor, plus an indoor swimming pool, two whirlpools and, in keeping with her heritage, a traditional walk around promenade deck. There is a very good selection of comfortable modern cabin accommodation from Standard to De Luxe with 70% of cabins having an ocean view and with individually controlled air-conditioning.

ASTOR 2013-14 Australia highlights

4 nights Wine, Food and Fitness Cruise
Sails from Fremantle on Monday, December 16, 2013. Routing – Fremantle, Albany, Bunbury, Fremantle.

35 nights Grand Round Australian Circumnavigation
Sails from Fremantle on Tuesday, January 28, 2014. Routing – Fremantle, Kangaroo Island, Adelaide, Hobart and Port Arthur, Melbourne, Eden for Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Lombok, Komodo Island, Broome, Fremantle.

About CMV
CMV is an established UK-based independent cruise line and is part of CMV Holdings London Ltd with as associate North American sales office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. CMV Australia will be structured as a sales office to support the new Australian cruise operation in conjunction with the Global Maritime Group, CMV's majority shareholders.
With an annual program capacity of 45,000 passengers, CMV specialises in operating traditional smaller ship cruises of distinction. Serving the British and international English-speaking cruise markets, the renowned passenger flagship MARCO POLO operated alongside the popular 800 passenger OCEAN COUNTESS from six UK ports to mainly European destinations over the past three years. In 2013, Ocean Countess will be replaced by the upgraded 700 passenger DISCOVERY under a long-term charter arrangement as a joint venture partnership will All Leisure Holidays Ltd, part of the highly respected All Leisure Group PLC.
Marco Polo and Discovery are operated under charter by CMV, who has a wealth of cruise industry expertise spanning almost four decades and is a member of the prestigious Passenger Shipping Association and ACE - the Association of Cruise Experts. CMV's international head office is based in London in Purfleet Essex, close to the port of Tilbury.
All holidays featured in all CMV's brochures are financially protected by South Quay Travel & Leisure Ltd trading as Cruise & Maritime Voyages. Cruise arrangements not including air travel are financially protected with the Association of British Travel Agents 9ABTA Number: V9945) and cruise arrangements including air travel are financially protected with the Civil Aviation Authority (ATOL No. 4619)
For more information, visit Cruise & Maritime Voyages at

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sofitel Brisbane Lifts The Sheets On A New Level Of Luxury

Following a multi million-dollar rooms refurbishment Sofitel Brisbane Central offers a new level of luxury accommodation for Brisbane city. A visual landmark on the city horizon, the luxurious yet minimalistic interior of the hotel lobby has been replicated throughout each of the guest rooms. All 433 rooms including 81 Club rooms, and 21 luxurious Suites have undergone a makeover of impressive proportions.

"We're the largest luxury hotel in the city and our clients demand a high level of service and surroundings. When I arrived at the property in 2012 the owners and I identified that our rooms provided an opportunity to enhance our offerings and create a unique product for the business and leisure market", says Marcus Hanna General Manager for Sofitel Brisbane Central.

"We commenced the process mid last year and I'm pleased to announce that all 433 rooms of the property have now been completed, with the Prestige and Opera Suites undergoing complete remodelling. Our design concept focused on infusing French elegance with elements of our local heritage, and has resulted in a fresh and sophisticated décor, whilst still reflecting traditional French design influences throughout all room types", adds Hanna.

New finishes, furniture, lighting and technology ensure both the business and leisure traveller are well catered for throughout a variety of room types. All rooms access wifi and are provided with a dedicated data connection. Bedrooms have been appointed with sensor operated LED reading lamps, integrated bed heads and additional LED floor lamps, adhering to the hotels best practice sustainability principles.

Local design group DBI Design worked closely with Sofitel to create the collection of room types using a variety of tone and décor. Superior rooms are embellished with peacock inspired highlights whilst Luxury, and Luxury Club rooms boast a richer regal feel with velvet and plum accents. Junior Suites shimmer in luxury with silver and warm grey colour palettes layered with textured fabrics in duck egg blue.

The Prestige and Opera Suites exude a warm palette of mulberry accents, deep garnet and champagne with furnishings from B+B Italia, Max Aalto and Mooi. The Suites boast a homely feel reminiscent of a chic European apartment. The tasteful colour palette has been incorporated into the floor coverings, upholstery and soft furnishings with even the smallest of touches such as the internal desk draws reflecting the colour theme of the room.

A unique art concept has been adapted throughout celebrating the Sofitel global philosophy of combining old world heritage with modern local culture. DBI Design commissioned a stunning photographic collection, which features throughout each room of the property and showcases Parisian landscapes alongside iconic Brisbane landmarks.

The popular Opera Suite has been completely remodelled during the refurbishment project and now sprawls across one level, on floor 28 of the property. The lounge space of the suite leads off to the discreet powder room, with an en-suited bedroom unveiled behind large sliding panels decorated with spectacular designer wall coverings.

A grand ensuite incorporating a stone bath and vanity basins, rain head showers and dressing area offers the finest in imported European finishes by Arper and Fantini, with tapware created by famed Japanese designer Naoto Fukusawa.

State of the art surround sound, iPod and iPad connectivity and intelligent lighting, AV interface controls and electronic black out blinds ensure the tech savvy are simply a click away from their IT needs.

Sofitel's exclusive MyBed continues to feature throughout all guest rooms. Immaculate, high and plumped up with feathers and down, Sofitel's MyBeds create the perfect cocoon for a nights rest. The secret lies in the unique alliance of gentle softness and airy lightness to bring guests a sleeping experience that continually creates late checkout demand!

Experience Sofitel's inspiring savoir-faire and enjoy the new era of hotel luxury at Sofitel Brisbane Central. The hotel is celebrating the refurbishment of the property with Magnifique Romance*. Enjoy new luxury accommodation in Parisian inspired surrounds, a bottle of French champagne, a mouthwatering chocolate platter, and breakfast in bed from just $315 per night.

For reservations contact Sofitel Brisbane Central via 07 3835 3535 or visit

* Magnifique Romance package subject to availability. Bottle of French champagne and chocolates included per room, per stay.

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places