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Friday, August 30, 2013

Qatar Airways Lands At Camp NOU

 Last night, on the pitch of Camp Nou, FC Barcelona Club President Sandro Rosell welcomed Qatar Airways and Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker into the FC Barcelona family.  

“Our Club has more than 100 years of history with many glorious moments. Qatar Airways is a young company which is full of enthusiasm and which, like ourselves, strives for excellence in everything it does,” said Rosell presenting Al Baker with an autographed jersey. “Both of us are 2-prexpanding globally in the world, with more and more supporters and customers and we share objectives which will consolidate our partnership”
“We are proud to be uniting with a team that upholds one of my country’s core visions: uniting the world through sport, enriching societies through sport, and creating opportunities through sport” said Al Baker who in turn presented Rosell with a model of the Qatar Airways 787 Dreamliner. “FC Barcelona is a team that unites the world. And Qatar Airways is truly a global connector. A perfect match – bringing your fan base closer to your hearts and home.”

Invited guests had the opportunity to witness the official team photo which included Rosell and Al Baker and the 22 members of the FC Barcelona first team wearing this season’s new official jersey. Youngsters from the FCBEscola children’s squad also joined the team on the pitch.

During a reception following the launch, the airline presented its newest global television campaign 10-prentitled “The Arrival” an integrated campaign supporting Qatar Airways’ sponsorship of FC Barcelona, the first commercial partnership in the club’s 114-year history.

The 90-second ad, which launches today, centres on a Qatar Airways flight attendant touching down in the Land of FC Barcelona, disembarking the Qatar Airways 777 and taking a journey through this incredible destination to the famous Camp Nou Stadium. Throughout her adventure she encounters some of the club’s most famous players, past and present, experiences the rich history of FC Barcelona and meets the fans at the heart of the club.

Since its beginnings, FC Barcelona has been characterised by being not just a football organisation, but also a powerful force for globalisation, solidarity, integration and social cohesion. Qatar Airways fully identifies with these values, which is why this partnership between both organisations is much more than just a simple economic alliance. Furthermore, Qatar Airways’ partnership with FC Barcelona will help to position the airline in the world.

Delta Hotels and Resorts Welcomes Brand New P.E.I. Convention Centre to Delta Prince Edward

The Delta Prince Edward Hotel is excited to announce the opening of the state-of-the-art Prince Edward Island Convention Centre, which is connected to the hotel. 

The $24.3 million convention centre will position the property as a leading competitor for large meetings and conventions within the region, boasting a combined 59,000 square feet of meeting and event space that can accommodate as many as 1,500 delegates.

With stunning views of the scenic Charlottetown waterfront, the new centre offers a multifunctional convention and event space, six adjoining breakout rooms, two permanent boardrooms, two conference offices, underground parking, plus an outdoor reception-style patio capable of accommodating approximately 600 guests. The PEI Convention Centre facility is owned by Charlottetown Area Development Corporation (CADC) and will be managed and operated solely by Delta Hotels and Resorts.

"The addition of the P.E.I. Convention Centre to the existing Delta Prince Edward is going to put Charlottetown on the map as a host for major conventions," explained Ken Greene, President and CEO of Delta Hotels and Resorts. "The combination of this world-class conference facility with the warm Maritime hospitality that the region is known for will have a powerful impact on tourism in the region."
"The new Convention Centre will allow the Capital to be more competitive in the lucrative meeting and convention marketplace," said Mayor Clifford Lee. "This facility further adds to our multi-purpose infrastructure and creates a beautiful, new and exciting venue for hosting a variety of events such as sport, entertainment and culture."

The Delta Prince Edward Hotel is also undergoing its own state-of-the-art transformation, with renovations already completed to all of its public spaces, and renovations to all of its guest rooms in the near future.

The Delta brand has seen a flurry of recent expansion, with the openings of the Delta Kingston Waterfront Hotel, newly renovated Delta Ottawa City Centre and a robust pipeline of new hotels in development for downtown Toronto,Waterloo and Thunder Bay. The entire portfolio of Delta Hotels and Resorts is undergoing an extensive brand repositioning designed to deliver one of the most upscale guest experiences in the four-star hotel category. All Delta properties are being built or renovated to boast some of the most modern design and techno- enabled guest spaces in the Canadian hotel marketplace. The Delta Prince Edward Hotel will be reflective of the newly repositioned brand.

The Delta Prince Edward is owned by InnVest REIT and managed solely by Delta Hotels and Resorts.

"Having worked in partnership with the province of Prince Edward Island for over 5 years, we are thrilled to see this facility celebrate its official opening. This project has spurred our own investments in the adjacent Delta Prince Edward," said Anthony Messina, CEO InnVest REIT. "As Canada's largest public hotel real estate company, InnVest REIT is a proud real estate owner and employer in the region and we look forward to the long-term benefits this project brings to the island's vibrant tourism industry."
"This marks an exciting new chapter in the life of one of our most storied properties," said Mr. Greene. "We can't wait to welcome guests to our completely transformed space with the same Maritime hospitality they expect from Delta."

Hilton Broadens Footprint On South Island

Two years after its grand opening, Hilton Queenstownhas expanded its ambitions on the country's South Island and reestablished itself as Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa.

"We felt somewhat confined by the original name, which didn't quite communicate the expansiveness of the guest experience here," said Andrew Nisbet, general manager. "As a resort and spa, we're really embracing this destination as a place to experience some of the greatest natural wonders and most exhilarating pursuits available in all New Zealand."

Hilton has four properties spread throughout the country, with the Queenstown location being the LakesideResidencesExterior_FPonly resort & spa. Situated at the foothills of the Remarkables mountain range, the property is a jumping off point for skiing and snowboarding in the winter and exploring hiking and biking trails in the summer, as well as the numerous adventure sports in the surrounding area, including Bungee Jumping, which began in New Zealand.
In celebration of its new conception, the resort has unveiled a new spa package, "Escape to eforea," which includes:
  • Accommodation for two in a lake-view room with floor-to-ceiling windows, private balcony and a schist stone fireplace
  • Two half-hour massages (per stay) at the award-winning eforea spa: at Hilton, with 20 percent discounts on additional treatments
  • Full buffet breakfast at Wakatipu Grill, a finalist in Cuisine magazine's 2012 "New Zealand Restaurant of the Year Awards"
eforea spa has also received accolades, as a Conde Nast Johansens Luxury Spa Recommendation in 2012 and "Best Hotel Spa" in the Australasian Spa Association (ASPA) Awards last year.

Guests can opt for a la carte treatments like the Meditation Massage using deep aromatic oils, or select from three distinct spa journeys - Essentials, Escape and Men's. The threelevel spa includes a 25-metre heated pool with adjoining hot tub, sauna and steam rooms, and fully equipped fitness centre.

The spa, like the resort itself, has a strong sense of place. Renowned New Zealand designer Chan Andreassend created the ceramic lights, which emit a soft glow highlighting the etched symbols of Pacific culture. The earthy tones of the walls and the smoked oak wooden floors are in tune with Queenstown's position in the middle of the Southern Alps.

The resort is conveniently located only five minutes from Queenstown International Airport, and just a 15 minute drive or eight minute water taxi ride into the centre of Queenstown.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Toga Hotels Appointed Operator of Travelodge Hotel Hobart Airport

Toga Hotels is expanding its Tasmanian footprint with the announcement of their second property in the southern island state, Travelodge Hotel Hobart Airport.

Effective as of 1st October 2013, Toga Hotels will commence management of the former Quality Hotel Hobart Airport. A four star property, the 78-room fully air conditioned hotel offers a great value option for guests looking for a quiet and comfortable stay, whether on a late night arrival or Travelodge Hotel Hobart Airportearly morning departure.

First opened in 2009 and located just 500 metres from the airport terminal, Travelodge Hobart Airport’s facilities include both family suites and standard rooms, a restaurant and bar, conference room, ample coach parking and a complimentary airport shuttle bus.

An easy 15-minute drive away from the CBD and Salamanca, the hotel is also a great base from which to explore popular Hobart attractions including the famous Salamanca Markets and MONA.

Rachel Argaman, CEO of Toga Hotels, said: "Following the acquisition of the Travelodge Hotel Hobart in February, we are proud to be expanding our reach in Tasmania with this convenient airport hotel. 

Travelodge Hotel Hobart Airport will offer fantastic value and convenience for both our business and leisure guests.”

The arrival of the Travelodge brand into Tasmania was heralded with the opening of the Travelodge Hotel Hobart in February 2013. Newly refurbished, the 131-room hotel is conveniently located in Hobart’s CBD with an array of popular dining and shopping spots nearby.

The acquisition of Travelodge Hotel Hobart Airport is in line with Toga Hotels' ongoing growth strategy.

Other upcoming new hotels include Adina Apartment Hotel Royal Randwick Racecourse (2015), Travelodge Hotel Mariners Tuggerah (2014) and Vibe Hotel and Conference Centre Marysville (2014).

For more information about Travelodge Hotels, visit: or

Qatar Airways Charts New Territory As Global Main Partner Of FC Barcelona

Qatar Airways officially launched the start of its three year partnership with FC Barcelona at an event held today at Camp Nou.

The airline’s partnership with FCB took effect from July 1st this year.

In attendance were leading representatives of both organisations, the CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al-Baker, the President of FC Barcelona, Sandro Rosell and Vice President of FC Barcelona Economic and Strategy Area, Javier Faus.

Akbar Al Baker made the following remarks at the start of his address to the media during a press conference: “The joining of FCB and Qatar Airways is truly history in the making. It is the first time we enter into such a landmark, significant sports partnership.

“We understand the importance of FCB to Catalonia, to Spain, and in fact – to every country around FCB8-PRthe world. It is a great honour to be standing side by side as you create and spread the excitement that this great game of football brings to fans.”

Al Baker also spoke about the airline’s expansive communications campaign about the partnership that will cover various elements: “our aim with this new campaign is to show to the world how strongly we stand behind this new partnership, which we will share with passengers across our entire network."

He further described the partnership as “a fitting match for both organisations that share the same values: the pursuit of excellence, passion, pride and culture.

The airline CEO added: “This partnership will also raise Qatar Airways and FC Barcelona to a new platform internationally, bringing the fans of FCB closer together.

The State of Qatar’s national carrier, Qatar Airways began operating to Spain in December 2005 and currently flies 10-times-weekly to Barcelona and daily to Madrid.

FC Barcelona football club President Sandro Rosell said:
"We have a long journey ahead lasting three years in which we will share experiences, with a common starting point and goals. Barça and Qatar Airways are united by many ideals, such as a passion to be better each day, the conviction that the human factor makes a difference and the integration of different cultures, but I would emphasize the desire we have to connect with people. And this desire leads us to want to be every day closer to our fans."

The new sports kit was first showcased during the Asia Tour earlier this month when the team travelled to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok to play friendly matches in preparation for the upcoming season.

FCB12-PRThe fans reunited with the team with great glory and the stands were filled with absolute excitement to have the likes of big players from FC Barcelona squad.

Since its beginnings, FC Barcelona has been characterised by being not just a football organisation, but also a powerful force for globalisation, solidarity, integration and social cohesion. Qatar Airways fully identifies with these values, which is why this partnership between both organisations is much more than just a simple economic alliance. 

Furthermore, Qatar Airways’ partnership with FC Barcelona will help to position the airline in the world.

Qatar Airways will work with FC Barcelona to create joint initiatives and will especially focus on connecting with the club’s fans and also with underprivileged children to spread the love of the game to all corners of the globe.

Flying to 129 leisure and business destinations Qatar Airways is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world.

Qatar Airways has so far launched six destinations this year – Gassim (Saudi Arabia), Najaf (Iraq), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Chicago (USA), Salalah (Oman) and Sulaymaniyah (Iraq).

Over the next few weeks and months, the network will expand with the addition of further destinations Chengdu, China (September 3), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (September 18), Clark International Airport, Philippines (October 27) and Philadelphia, USA (2 April 2014).

Corporate Christmas Party Offerings to Make Every Reindeer Smile

Tis the season to start planning company Christmas parties, networking lunches, staff and family gatherings and if you are looking for somewhere away from the hustle and bustle, then InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort has a fabulous selection of festive packages to make your occasion truly wonderful.

Entertain your guests with an evening  function under the stars beside the beautiful Beach Lagoon Pool or choose to celebrate in one of our restaurants or other unique event spaces.

InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort's Corporate Christmas packages offer everything from Christmas buffets, BBQ or plated menus and can be booked to include a complete beverage package.

All Corporate packages start from $135 per person and include Christmas themed buffet or plated meal and 3 hour beverage package.

Special accommodation packages are also available if you want to make it into a night or weekend celebration.

For more information visit or to make a booking phone (07) 55 301234.

Travellers Pause to Remember Bill Peach

by Roderick EIme (travelling with Bill Peach Journeys)

Guests on Bill Peach Journeys Classic Australia Aircruise woke to the news that the company's namesake had passed away overnight.

Against a glorious Cable Beach sunset, the group recalled the great man who inspired millions of Australians to get out and see their country with his ground-breaking series of television programs including the iconic 'Peach's Australia'.

Tour director, Lesley Neil, an employee of the company for the last three years shared her memories of working with Bill when she was a young school-leaver in the mid-60s.

"I was working as a young PA at the BBC representative office in Elizabeth Street where Bill worked as the television rep," recalls Lesley, "He was such a kind and gentle man, even a little shy, with a distinctive lock of auburn hair. He had such a lovely manner and very easy to talk to. He was just a natural for the job."

Bill Peach Journeys was established by Bill in 1983 and began with a F27 Fokker Friendship flying guests around Australia. The company that still bears his name now takes people to iconic places all around the world.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pelangi Beach Resort Re-Furb Completed

Pelangi aerial viewTHE completion of multi-million dollar refurbishments at the Meritus Group’s Pelangi Beach and Spa resort on Malaysia’s beautiful island of Langkawi is being marked by a comprehensive marketing campaign which will position the property  as the ”Jewel of Langkawi”.

The resort’s makeover included renovation of the property’s 260 guest rooms and suites, the Meritus Club lounge, reception areas  and re-landscaping of the frontage and driveway.

Other facilities given a major facelift during the work  are the Pelangi lounge, Spice Market restaurant, the fitness centre and pools, the Cba Lounge and other public areas.

General manager Thomas Mueller said that the resort had been in operation  almost 25 years and the enhancements would further strengthen its position as the island’s leading five-star deluxe resort and provide a new landmark for luxury accommodation  in Langkawi.

For more details contact Randall Marketing at 02-9929-2829 or

Pelangi -PoolView room

A Spring Fling for the Tastebuds

Mudgee Region’s gastronomical event of the year, the Mudgee Wine and Food Festival, kicks off from Friday 13th – 29th September, with more than 60 delicious events scheduled over the two-week period. 

Visitors to the mid-NSW province can take part in roaming feast events such as Go Tasting and Go Grazing, or enjoy hot-air ballooning, wine and cheese tastings, food workshops, kids cooking classes and plenty of live music to sip and nibble to. 

On Saturday 28th September, the Mudgee Region will come together for a free street festival in the centre of town to mark the final weekend of the festival.

CEO of Mudgee Region Tourism Holly Manning said, “The Mudgee Wine & Food Festival has long been a highlight of the foodie calendar-year and we cannot wait to share a juicy slice of our renowned produce with visitors once again.

“Almost all of our vineyards are family-owned and run, meaning you could have the winemaker guiding you through the fruits of their labour while visiting their cellar door. We have a proud community of food and wine-makers and believe you can practically taste the love and dedication that goes into their produce”.

Just a 3.5 hour drive from Sydney or a 50 minute flight, the Mudgee Region is renowned for its rolling countryside, flourishing market and arts scene and as one of NSW’s oldest wine regions.

For more information on the Mudgee Wine and Food Festival, please visit

Couple celebrate 50 years of marriage after meeting on CIE Tours bus tour

In 1962, Nora (Norrie) Coakley booked an Irish bus tour that forever changed her life. A young, single woman living in Dublin with her father, Norrie suggested the two of them embark on a CIE Tours International bus jaunt as a break from the routine of their daily lives, and as an easy way to see more of their Irish homeland.

What she couldn’t have known is that on that trip she’d meet an Irish-American World War II veteran named William (Bill) Short, a Chicago accountant travelling on his own, seeking to connect with his Irish roots. Norrie and Bill never expected to find true love.

Sometime during their coach journey, Norrie and Bill took a side trip by car – minus Norrie’s dad – to Killarney. What transpired between them was an instant attraction and a year later Norrie moved to Chicago to marry Bill. Their love grew, and for Bill and Norrie, happily-ever-after included three children and six grandchildren. As a beautiful reminder of their meeting, a vintage 1962 CIE Tours’ poster now hangs in their Western Springs, IL home. And, in August, the couple will take another CIE Tours’ Irish holiday, this time to revisit the place they first fell in love, and to celebrate their golden anniversary.

Norrie booked that long-ago holiday as an escape from everyday life. Bill signed on for an adventure 534331that would help him discover his Irish ancestry. Neither expected to find love. But that’s the thing about a CIE Tours International holiday – no matter what you seek, there are always surprises to be found. What you can be sure of on any CIE Tours International vacation, however, is that you’ll travel in luxurious comfort on your fully escorted, all-inclusive trip. You can also be sure that any one of the dozens of Irish itineraries will leave you in love – if not with a fellow traveller, then with the green and friendly island that will greet you with open arms and always welcome you to “come home to visit.”

For more than 82 years, CIE Tours International, has set the standard for fully escorted coach tours of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. This renowned tour operator delivers unsurpassed experiences and value for both packaged holidays and custom independent travel, combining the best of each destination with expert professional tour guides who bring each itinerary to life.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Westin Kids Club - a fresh new look with enhanced facilities

The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali is excited to announce that our famous Westin Kids Club has been given a fresh new look with enhanced facilities to satisfy the holiday needs of young travellers.

The club is now bigger and better than ever before with age appropriate areas for toddlers, children and teens.

With its bright decor and funky furnishings, Westin Kids Club has been given a new lease of life. This uplifting environment provides fun actives to keep children of our in house guests entertained throughout the day completely free of charge. Parents are guaranteed full peace of mind in knowing that their precious ones are being well cared for in a secure setting.

The revitalization of The Westin Kids Club was thoughtfully planned to incorporate separate social Westin Kids Club - Playgroundand play spaces for specific age groups where personal tastes and interests are understandably different. All areas are carefully monitored, there is a fully supervised section just for toddlers complete with a shaded playground featuring slides, swings, rideable cars and other cool toys. For quiet time indoors, the club has mini activity tables, Lego and early learning playthings. A set of bunk beds as well as giant floor cushions are also available to accommodate little ones in need of an afternoon nap.

Children between the ages of 4 to 12 years have their own area with a separate playground Westin Kids Club - Teens Zonefeaturing a climbing wall, trampoline and sandpit. It has been designed for safe play where kids can run around and burn off excess energy. A colorful activity room has been set up to include art & craft stations, a photo corner, internet computers, Playstation, books and educational toys.

The Teens Zone is a brand new addition to our Westin Kids Club where youngsters aged 12 and above can simply hang out. It is a clean-line space with relaxing beanbags and personal window seat pods equipped with Nintendo Wii. This specially designated area has internet computers along with a well-stocked library, billiards table and a home theatre showing movies throughout the day.

An updated schedule of daily activities is now available at the club with a special emphasis on yoga Westin Kids Club - Toodlers areafor children, tennis clinics, culturally-inspired pastimes and other healthy outdoor pursuits. There is also a new activity called “Save Nature” as well as excursions to the nearby sites of interest such as the Waterblow Peninsular.

Unique to Westin Kids Club is a small spa facility where youngsters can enjoy a session of personal indulgence just like mum and dad. 

Westin Kids Spa will open soon and offer a menu of suitable treatments including mini manicures and pedicures, hair braiding and foot reflexology for some special holiday pampering.

Safety and security upgrades at Westin Kids Club ensure that children of all ages continue to be well cared for in this nurturing environment by our qualified team. Opening hours are 9am to 5pm daily. After hours services are available and trained nannies can be easily arranged.

“As a family-friendly property it is important that our younger travellers have their very own place to play and interact. We have created a concept that truly encompasses the needs of children from 4 up to 16 years of age with clearly defined spaces and appealing activities. The renewal of Westin Kids Club is part of a multi-million dollar revitalization project to enhance in-house facilities for leisure and business guests,” comments Mr. Bipan Kapur, Managing Director of The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali.

Treat the little ones to a fun-filled family holiday and let them explore our newly refreshed Westin Kids Club that is perfect for toddlers, children and teens. Our Family Package starts from USD220++ per night for a minimum stay of 3 nights. Valid for stays until April 30th, 2014. Booked byDecember 31th, 2013. For more information, please visit or follow the property

New Research to Shape Tourism Australia's India Growth Strategy

New consumer research carried out in six of India's fastest growing cities is being used by Tourism Australia to further shape its 10-year marketing plan for the country, aimed at tapping into the future tourism potential of a market estimated to be worth up to A$2.3 billion for Australia by the end of the decade.

The release of the findings comes as the latest international visitor arrival and spending figures confirm India's status as one of Australia's fastest growing and most valuable international tourism markets, with 164,000 visitors (up 7.8 per cent on the year ending June 2012) contributing A$804 million to the Australian economy in overnight spending.

The publication of the research coincides with the start of the India Travel Mission (ITM) 2013, which will see a delegation of up to 40 Australian tourism representatives spend a week in Goa developing and establishing business relationships with Indian travel agencies and tour 534277operators.

Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said insights from the research would support Australian efforts to lure travellers from India where leisure spending has increased by more than 25 per cent since the launch of Tourism Australia's India 2020 Strategic Plan just over 12 months ago.

"India is one of the world's fastest growing outbound travel markets, with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation predicting 50 million outbound travellers by 2020. While these numbers are staggering, the bulk of this travel is to near neighbours. Tourism Australia has been very active in the market for a number of years and now has a 4 per cent share of medium to long haul travel," Mr McEvoy said.

"We've significantly upped our efforts in India over the past three years and the results are evident. Whilst overall arrivals are up a solid 7.8 per cent, leisure visitors have grown at double that rate. By getting in on the action early, we hope to reap the benefits as long haul leisure travel becomes more common amongst India's rapidly emerging middle classes," he said.

Mr McEvoy said the findings would inform Tourism Australia's own marketing efforts in India and, by sharing the results, assist Australia's tourism industry gain a share of outbound travel from India.

"This research provides some really valuable learnings into the Indian consumer, their purchasing intentions and desire for experiencing travel. India is already Australia's tenth largest source market and has the potential to grow strongly in coming years if we get the marketing, product, distribution and aviation access right," Mr McEvoy said.

The research found that Australia has 'wow' factor and is considered a 'highly aspirational'destination for Indian travellers, with the country's beaches and iconic landmarks high on their travel wish list. Australia's strongest appeal is its natural landscapes and wildlife, with a wide range of experiences appealing to families as well as the more adventurous independent traveller.

Indians' perceptions of Australia are largely positive, acknowledging the beautiful scenery and unique wildlife, as well as the country's contemporary cities and modern infrastructure. Australians are viewed as laid back and friendly.

Although seen as a significant financial investment, an Australian holiday is considered to provide a 'memorable experience' and offers good value for money. Most associations with Australia tend not to go beyond icons, which include kangaroos, Sydney and cricket, while knowledge about specific Australian destinations and attractions is low.

Other key findings of the research:
  • Recommendations from family and friends who have visited or who live in Australia play a very influential role in destination choice;
  • Indian travellers want a holiday that offers comfort, happiness, relaxation and adventure;
  • Pre-packaged holidays are preferred for long haul travel as they provide convenience, a range of options, value for money and safety;
  • Online travel information is their primary source when 'dreaming' or considering a holiday destination as well as in the holiday planning phase;
  • Most Indian travellers continue to use travel agents to plan and book a holiday to Australia. 
Mr McEvoy said it was the first time Tourism Australia had undertaken comprehensive consumer research into its target Indian consumer living outside of Mumbai and Delhi - by including the cities of Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Mr McEvoy said including some of India's more important secondary cities in the research had highlighted similarities but also some interesting differences. For example, Delhiites are more likely to design and book their own holiday; while the ease and comfort of a package holiday was considered more appealing for respondents from Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Tourism Australia will share the findings and insights from the research with industry and governments in Australia and India to help drive targeted marketing communications, and inform the development of products and experiences most likely to drive further demand amongst Indians for Australia.

The research - undertaken by research consultancy Ipsos Social Research Institute (Ipsos) - was conducted in two stages using both qualitative focus groups and in-depth, quantitative interviews, and was based on a targeted sample of 2,054 Indian nleisure travellers.

It also included interviews with travel sellers in India, who provided feedback that Australia's visa application process  out the need to continue to innovate, create and communicate new reasons to travel to Australia.

Hannah Race, Research Manager at Ipsos Social Research Institute believes the research highlights the potential outside the traditional target cities of Mumbai and Delhi, and presents opportunities to raise awareness of specific locations and attractions in Australia.

"The research revealed the high status and importance of overseas travel to Indians in all six of the cities included. Australia certainly has a 'wow' factor for this market, with its natural environment being among the strongest attractions. There is now an opportunity to further build on these positive perceptions by raising awareness of specific destinations and activities on offer to visitors to Australia."

The India 2020 Strategic Plan was developed to maximise India's tourism potential and to set the foundation for the future, when long haul leisure travel becomes more common. Launched in June 2012, it was developed by Tourism Australia incollaboration with industry and government stakeholders. It is a key deliverable of the industry's broader Tourism 2020 strategy, recognising India's role in driving tourism growth in this 'Asian Century'.

Top 10 historical secrets of Newcastle - Australia's second oldest city celebrates History Week with a calendar of exciting events

For those keen to uncover the tales and tribulations of the past there’s no better place to indulge your interest than Newcastle, Australia’s second oldest city and the birthplace of much of our history – and there is no better time to visit than during History Week.

To whet your historical appetite – see below (and attached) 10 facts you may not know about Newcastle:
(the attached also provides information about the City of Newcastle’s History Week events and its year-round historical attractions offering)
1.       Newcastle was founded by one of Australia’s most important colonial artists – Captain James Wallis, and the city continues its strong connection to the arts to this day, boasting one of Australia’s best regional galleries.

2.       Newcastle convict James Hardy Vaux wrote Australia’s first full length autobiography, and our first dictionary (a vocabulary of ‘Flash Language’, or convict slang) during the 1800s under the reign of Commandant Thomas Skottowe. 

image002 (1)
3.       Newcastle was home to the first ‘lighthouse’ on the east coast – a coal-fired beacon at Colliers Point which opened in 1804. The famous Nobbys Lighthouse was turned on in January of 1858. 

4.       The Reverend L.E. Threlkeld began the first systematic study of Aboriginal language in Newcastle in 1824.

5.       Newcastle was the birthplace of Australian railway – with the Australian Agricultural Company officially opening Australia’s first railway in 1831. A plaque on Wharf Rd commemorates the occasion.

6.       Iconic Australian biscuit manufacturer Arnott’s traces its humble beginnings back to Newcastle when a small bakery was opened by William Arnott in1865

image003 (1)
7.       Australia's first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, was married in Newcastle to Novocastrian Jane (Jean) Mason Ross in 1877 at the Presbyterian manse on Newcastle’s oldest street - Watt Street.

8.       Newcastle is home to Australia’s first European-style swimming baths – the Bogey Hole, which was hand-carved by local convicts in 1819 under the commandment of Major James Morriset.

9.       On June 7th1942, Fort Scratchley became the only Australian fort to fire at an enemy ship during war time when the Battery’s six inch guns fired two salvoes at a Japanese submarine that bombarded the city with two dozen shells.

10.   Newcastle was the first Australian city to elect a female lord mayor, Joy Cummings, in 1974.

Travel and tourism hero, Bill Peach dead at 78

Bill Peach's Australia, a ground-breaking TV travel show,
 introduced Australians to their own backyard. (The Australian)

Bill Peach, the former presenter of trail-blazing ABC current affairs program This Day Tonight (TDT), has died.

It is with great sadness that Bill Peach – journalist& travel doyen - died today aged 78. After a short illness he passed away in the early morning surrounded by family.

Following his eight years as the presenter of the ABC's ground breaking current affairs programme "This Day Tonight", Bill began his "Peach's Australia" documentary series. He made 27 programmes in 2 years, filming in every part of Australia. Bill probably added another 5 times around the world while making his other programmes "Holidays with Bill Peach", "Peach's Australian Cities", "Peach's Gold" and "The Explorers". But in 1984 he exchanged the ABC's battered 4 wheel drive vehicles for a more salubrious mode of transport - the F27 Fokker Friendship plane.

For thirty years Bill hosted travellers on trips in Australia and around the world. He was also a great writer publishing ten books on Australian history, as well as many magazine stories and newspaper columns. He received many awards including a special Logie for Outstanding Personal Contribution to Australian Television and was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) for his services to the Australian media and tourism.

Bill was an amazing man, whose passion for travelling in Australia never swayed, whose zest for life was incredible. He will be greatly missed by all those who have worked and travelled with him.

Bill’s family and the team at Bill Peach Journeys would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and kindness.

Read related story at

Monday, August 26, 2013

Seychelles launches its biggest and fastest high speed ferry, the Cat Cocos - Isle of Mahe

Inter Island Boat Company of Seychelles has this week launched its new high speed ferry on the route Mahe to Praslin Islands. The company has now ensured that Seychellois and tourists alike can enjoy the one hour crossing in total luxury.

The Cat Cocos - Isle of Mahe has been built in Australia, and it arrived in Seychelles aboard a special cargo ship. For the Inter Island Boat Company this latest acquisition represents an investment of over one hundred million Seychelles rupees.

Cat Cocos - Isle of Mahe fast ferry is inaugurated
Cat Cocos - Isle of Mahe fast ferry is inaugurated
The Cat Cocos -Isle of Mahe, the fourth ferry of the Cat Cocos fleet has been commissioned for the inter island crossing for over five hundred passengers in Business, Comfort Upper Deck and in the main cabin. The owners of the company have been quoted assaying that this new ferry is providing a model of international luxury ferry service in the Seychelles waters.

A state of the art thirty six metre long vessel designed with a dynamic fresco depicting the essence of Mahe with the symbolic Clock Tower of Victoria and Trois Freres Mountain is increasing the comfort of passengers moving between Praslin and Mahe islands.

 Guillaume Albert of Inter Island Boat Management Company said that it is the company’s belief that the ferry will bring added benefits to the business of Inter Island ferry service in Seychelles.

“This new boat is also equipped with a state of the art right control system which will accentuate considerably. It is our strong belief that this vessel will contribute to increasing tourism flux between our two islands and ultimately benefit the business of Praslin and La Digue operators’’ Guillaume Albert said.

Addressing the crowd at the launching ceremony, Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture said that the ferry is a big move forward for Praslin and La Digue Islands.

“This is indeed a remarkable success story for the islands. I am sure Seychellois and visitors alike will appreciate that this service, on such a big fast boat is today available in Seychelles. Those of us who know the region well will appreciate that the launching of this modern luxury fast ferry in Seychelles is a success for the region. On behalf of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and on behalf of the Government of Seychelles we need to thank Mr Joe Albert and his family, as we need to congratulate you for having brought to Seychelles such a fine product’’ Minister Alain St.Ange said.

Minister St.Ange said with the launching of the high speed ferry service Seychelles realises the mechanism to develop andto stimulate the Inter Island ferry market.

“It was clear a couple of years ago when Mr. Joe Albert and his partners brought in the small Cat Cocos ferry everybody was surprised. Could he make money out of it? Could it sustain that run to Praslin? Everybody was proved wrong because it did not only succeed in proving the need for a fast boat to Praslin, but the owning company made money out of it. That prompted Joe Albert and his family and his Creole Travel Services Company to move forward and bring a bigger Cat Cocos. This big five hundred plus seat Cat Cocos - Isle of Mahe ferry shows you that it was needed. Joe Albert stimulated and developed that business. I salute you Joe and your company for having the fore sight, and for having the bravery that is needed for you to really put your money where your mouth is” said Minister St.Ange
The Minister went on to say that with the arrival of the new big boat in the Inter Island fleet, this will also bring more competition.

“As we are launching this new boat I take the opportunity to salute the ferry operator William Rose and his daughter Cindy for having provide for many years a ferry service of quality between the islands of Praslin and La Digue. Today as we launch another new ferry in Inter Island Boat Group we must anticipate that this brings with it new competition for the inter island ferry businesses. Because of our size, competition should also bring the need for us to relook at how we operate. On behalf of the government I appeal to you all to work in partnership in this ferry business to ensure that as you move forward, everyone in the industry moves with you for a more joyous Seychelles, and for a better environment in our tourism industry’’ Minister Alain St.Ange said. The French Ambassador to Seychelles, Mrs Genevieve Iancu had the honour of smashing the traditional bottle of champagne on the new boat as the 'godmother' of the new Cat Cocos - Isle of Mahe and Minister Alain St.Ange and Mr Joe Albert jointly cut the ribbon to declare open the gang way to the vessel. Bishop Denis Wiehe of the Roman Catholic Church and Fr Danny Elizabeth of the Anglican Church blessed the vessel and crew. Has Had A Major Relaunch! has been the leading online tourism guide to Zambia over the past 15 years providing in-depth information about Zambia to millions of visitors.

The site has recently had a major revamp and now offers far more functionality, news and excellent imagery to boost awareness of Zambia’s excellent tourism gems.

Visitors can explore the interactive map with links to attractions, activities and lodgings, while the destination pages have in depth information and high quality photographs depicting the fabulous scenery, wide range of activities or excellent wildlife and safari options. The layout is also fully compatibility with smart phones and tablets.

The new website gives a clear and visual representation of what’s on offer with easy navigation on what to see, what to do and where to stay, without ever having to leave the site. Visitors can make direct enquiries to hotels, travel agents, car hire or air charter companies and zoom right into the map to see where everything is. All tourism companies are invited to add their illustrated listing to ensure they can be found.

A new addition is the News portal for tourism developments, cultural and sporting events, as well as the latest sightings from safari guides or conservation and community development projects,thus keeping the site fresh and dynamic.

Take a look at the Zambia Tourism website Learn more about beautiful Zambia, explore cities and towns, find accommodation, tours and book adventure activities. Learn about the rich culture,historic and wildlife heritage or find out about upcoming events and festivals.

It’s almost as good as being here!

Khiri Travel Enhances Credentials for its Tour Leaders

Khiri Travel Thailand has been certified with Dutch ANVR tour leader accreditation following a three-day intensive course held in Bangkok.

Khiri organized the tour leader program August 19-21 in conjunction with partner organizations, Shoestring and Koning Aap, both Kuoni companies.

The ANVR (The Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators) regulates much of the tourism industry in The Netherlands, inbound and outbound. They are now in the process of certifying their tour operators' tour leader credentials. By 2014/15 all official Dutch tour operators must have ANVR tour guide accreditation.

For the training, two trainers were flown in from Amsterdam, Mr. Bart van den Heuvel from Shoestring and Ms. Marieke Schutter, an external trainer. Between them, they have over 20 years of experience in leading grouptours all over the world. Training involved intense briefings, role play and group interactions.

Khiri Travel Thailand General Manager Mr. Andre van der Marck said: "As tour operators we live and breathe by the quality of our tour leaders. We are constantly enhancing and training them -- and also learning from them. ANVR accreditation builds our already highly respected reputation in the Dutch market. It also makes our tour leaders more confident while on the road with our groups."

At the end of three full days of training, 20 tour leaders were successfully certified as ANVR tour leaders.
"Khiri's policy is to invest in our future," said Van der Marck. "The training was another proof point of Khiri's commitment to quality tourism."

The training took place in the Pak Ping Ing Tang Boutique Hotel in Nonthaburi.

Tour leader training

Friday, August 23, 2013

Once Upon a Time in Ubar – The Lost City of the Sands

Once upon a time there was a city where the streets are paved in gold and fortified by imposing, lofty pillars unlike anything ever created in the world.

Coined ‘Paradise on Earth’ its inhabitants were also one of the richest due to the many prosperous years in the trade of priceless, exotic and luxurious commodities: fruits, silks, gemstones, spices and frankincense which was revered throughout the world.

The Holy Quran describes it as the "City of Towers",  the legends of the "Lost City of Ubar” has for centuries been one of the Middle East’s greatest mysteries. Bedouin tales and local folklore is cited even today among the local population about the ancient city.  

Frankincense, copyright Dusk Devi
Located in Shisr in the southern Dhofar region of Oman, it is believed that Ubar existed from about 2800 B.C. to about 200 A.D. and was a desert outpost near a verdant oasis, on the camel tracks where caravans assembled for the transport of frankincense across the desert to the rest of the world.

Today only a hole in the desert floor, a black void full of ones imagination of what this ‘Paradise on Earth’ must have been like, is what remains in present day Oman. Tours are readily available from near-by Salalah for those curious in a site that was one mans mission for over twenty years.

The Lost City of Ubar, was discovered in 1992 by NASA imaging technology by a team of British archaeologists lead by the passionate Sir Ranulph Fiennes, uncle of actor Ralph Fiennes.

The Fabled City
Myths surrounding Ubar were unparalleled even by "lost city" standards. Ubar was a magnificent kingdom, immensely rich with "streets paved with gold." It was a city of tall towers whose like had not been built ever in the whole world. T.E Lawrence called it "The Atlantis of the Sands."

UbarLegend has it that Ubar was said to have become a hotbed of wickedness and its people corrupted by its riches. It is believed that like the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, it also suffered the wraths of God. It is said to have been destroyed by the cyclonic storms that swept away the fort and sucked it into the deep hole that remains even today. Historians chronicle Ubar's destruction somewhere in the first century AD.

Very little is known of prehistoric times in the barren deserts of Arabia. The rock drawings in the desert suggest that the prehistoric people of the second millennium were not the Arabs from the north. In the past the descendants of the Mahra tribe inhabited these regions. They were Australoid by DNA analysis and lived in Yemen and the Shahra of south-western Oman, on the Dhofar highlands. They are now known as the 'lost Arabs'(al-'Arab al-ba'ida), representing the present-day tribes of 'Ad, Tamud and Gurhum. The Shahra tribe are probably descendants of the People of 'Ad. The population is now in small numbers. Their native language is very different from Arabic, something older and called the "language of the birds."

The Dhofar region is a rugged and mountainous region. The Shahra called their land Uz, after the patriarch who must have led them out of The Empty Quarter of the deserts. There was a man in the land of Uz, a man named Job whose tomb is located just outside of Salalah in Oman.

The 'Ad region possessed something that the civilized world greatly desired and valued in those days: the frankincense tree. The Dhofar mountains had numerous groves of the small trees, whose resin was as valuable as gold in ancient times. It was used as a fragrance, for medicinal purposes and for embalming. The Sumerians were using frankincense and it is mentioned in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

The People of 'Ad tended to the frankincense groves with great care and reverence. The harvest was during the month of August. As a holy tree the farmers were only allowed to wear clean clothes, they had to abstain from sex and could not touch a corpse until the harvest was completed. They would make cuts in the branches and gather the sap when it hardened into fragrant crystals. By 900 BC the trade had become a major component of the ancient world trade. Camel caravans and ships carried products throughout the known world. The People of 'Ad had to find a way around their competitors in the desert, so they redirected their trade routes directly across The Empty deserts. On that camel caravan route they built the fabled city of Ubar, around an Oasis. Traders came here with their wealth to do business and to enjoy the fabulous riches available in the city.

It became a walled city known for great wealth and it was the only source of available water before the perilous trek across the desert. The vast wealth of 'Ad was used to create a paradise in the sand with vast palm groves and orchards. It is mentioned in Claudius Ptolemy's Geographos written in the 2nd century AD as the land of the Iobaritae. To the Arab it was called ‘Irem of the Pillars’.

The Downfall of Ubar.

The story by the 13th century historian, Rashid al-Din, tells how the sinful inhabitants of Ubar were punished:
"God punished the people of Ubar with a great wind and a terrible noise from the clouds, which struck them dumb. And in the morning there was nothing to be seen except ruins. From then onwards Ubar belonged to evil creatures, each with a single arm, leg, and eye. And it was known that anyone who went near the ruins would be driven mad with fear."
Excavations at the site at Ash Shisr found conclusive evidence that Ubar had indeed been located at the oasis and affirming the legends about the destruction of Ubar. The city was located over an immense limestone cavern a natural feature of the region. Heavy flooding had dissolved it and washed away the lime stones from the underground. Perhaps an earthquake had sucked in the city along with the water in the oasis. It was swallowed up by the very earth it stood on.

What actually happened?

Ubar was a trading outpost when the Arabian Desert was not in its current barrenness. It was near a water stream which is buried with desert sand now. The rocky bottom was of lime stone which melts when water remains over it during floods. The city was built on such a rocky terrain which dissolved in a flood and thunder storm. From the satellite pictures it is evident that the walls of the settlement had been built over a huge limestone cavern that had collapsed burying the city beneath the sands. The towers guarded a water source in the surrounding 50,000 square miles qualified as the "great well of Wabar." When the city crumbled it was the result of something like an earthquake and that the city fell into a kind of hole in the ground just behind a large hill. The path to walk down the hill to the hole has a bit of a slope now. Ironically, the Arabic word "Shisr" is the word used for hole.

You can drive up to this place now and in the middle of the night when there is nobody else around except the vastness of the desert; you can feel the strangeness of the ancient past, which is buried below your feet.

Full Day Tours of the Ancient Settlement of Shisr are available with any Salalah Tour Options. Contact your local travel agent for more information or

Oman is accessible by air with Emirates/Qantas and Etihad flying daily to Muscat via Dubai or Abu Dhabi. For a one-stop flight the national carrier Oman Air are currently offering a special from $1,545 per person return*. Conditions apply, contact your local travel agent for more information or visit

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places