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Monday, September 30, 2013

Chinese Opera and Contemporary Art At The Peninsula Shanghai

A fascinating new range of Peninsula Academy tours are now available at The Peninsula Shanghai – showcasing highlights of the city’s culture, history and lifestyle.

Timeless Shanghai: A Heritage City Tour gives guests an insight into the city’s unique heritage in a modern 21st-century setting. The adventure begins with an authentic Shanghainese image008breakfast at The Peninsula’s Yi Long Court, followed by a visit by Rolls-Royce Phantom to a traditional Shanghai tea house. Guests will then be guided through the historic Wukang Road district, enjoy a private tour by the curator of the Propaganda Poster Art Museum and visit Hong Merchant to experience timeless Shanghai culture, interiors and art. Participants can also sample retro Shanghai chic with a tailor-made qipao or Chinese jacket created by a celebrated personal stylist and dressmaker.

Chinese contemporary art has taken the global art market by storm, with collectors snapping up works by established and emerging image009artists who deconstruct the cultural and societal complexities of today’s China. Art of the Century: 

An Introduction to Chinese Contemporary Art provides insights into the history and development of contemporary Chinese painting, sculpture and installation art. An experienced art expert will provide a private tour of The Peninsula Shanghai’s own art collection, and take guests into the heart of the city’s thriving arts scene to visit its most prestigious galleries and art museums.

Music, Colour and Facepaint: An Introduction to Chinese Opera allows guests to experience Chinese Opera from an insider’s perceptive, learning about its fabled history and the intricate stage production and musical processes. The half-day programme is conducted by celebrated Chinese Opera star Xu Jiali, who will take guests behind the scenes of this much-loved art form. Guests will also have the opportunity to dress up and be photographed in operatic stage costumes and traditional make-up.

Other programmes on offer at The Peninsula Shanghai include kite crafting or chocolate making classes for younger guests and a private tour of Shanghai Auto Museum.

For more information visit

Australian visitors to Jordan increase

image001The latest statistics released by the Jordan Tourism Board shows there has been an increase in visitors during the month of August which is up by 0.4 % to 1,360 visitors in the month and a total of 14,031 for January to August.

Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan of the Jordan Tourist Board in Australia said, “This is a pleasing result. I was in Jordan during the month of August with JTB representatives from all around the world and felt completely safe in this magical haven which boasts Petra, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea and so many incredible religious sites.”
“There are over 100,000 archaeological and heritage sites, one of the largest number in the world, including 11,000 documented under the national data base, on top of which is the red rose city of Petra,” she said.

Speaking about the increase, Lenoir-Jourdan said, “Australians are incredibly geographically savvy and these results show that they are still embracing travel to Jordan, the Switzerland of the Middle East.”
The Jordan Tourism Board are continuing to invest money into the Australian market in 2014 and are also looking to invite Australian trade to a Jordan Travel Market to be held either in 2014 or 2015.

For further information contact Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan on 040409 5326 or

Successes of Seychelles Tourism discussed at Top Resa Tourism Trade Fair in France

The ongoing successes of the Seychelles Tourism Industry has been centre of discussion points with the Press at the French Tourism Trade Fair - Top Resa.

It was Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture who was 
ASA Top Resa
spending time answering questions from the Press covering the biggest single tourism event of France.

It was in answer to the question as to what was Seychelles doing different to its neighbours to be going against the challenging tide facing the region at large that Minister St.Ange said with a smile that tourism must be led with passion. 

The Seychelles Minister said that tourism policies in place in Seychelles came from the bottom up with the private sector trade implicated at every step of the way. "This approach gives us as much dept as it gives us uniqueness. This is the style of leadership I have maintained at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and it comes with an open door policy that gives access to every trade member, large or small, local of foreign immediate access to look at their challenges with them as and when they need me" Minister St.Ange said.

He also put emphasis of working with the region and through Tourism Organisations such as the UNWTO, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to remain relevant and visible where necessary and when necessary.

"We have developed working partnerships with our neighbours, and we have consolidated our very own regional grouping of mid ocean islands we have called the Vanilla Islands. We are leaving no stones unturned, and we are leaving no avenues unexplored as we move forward with plans and with innovative policies to consolidate the region's tourism industry and in so doing the Seychelles tourism industry". Minister St.Ange said.

He also discussed the yield from the tourism industry into the Seychelles economy which he said remained a challenge that needed to be seen to. The Minister from Seychelles said that Seychelles needed to encourage new tourism support initiatives to get off the ground which would encourage visitors to Seychelles to spend their holiday money on. 'The yield from tourism is not just the room rate, it is the total spending by tourists so we need to offer new activities and new attractions as we need to encourage new initiatives to get off the ground. Seychelles is blessed with its natural beauty and with its environment, but that in itself will not generate income for the country unless something is done to encourage money to change hands at such sites and for money to change hands it the country itself'Minister St.Ange said

Sydney's Historic Menzies Hotel Turns 50

To celebrate, The Menzies hotel staff will be dressed in 1960s outfits for the month of October


The Menzies Hotel Sydney turns 50 years young this October, and to celebrate the and staff are going back to the 60s where all the fun began.

Over the month of October the hotel will step back in time with staff dressed in 60s clothing. Everything from The Beatles, to Jacqui O, the perfect 60's housewife (and husband!) and the Hippy movement will be represented in staff uniforms. The lobby will feature a 60s inspired lounge room playing old school films and music from the era, where guests can capture a photo of themselves "back in the day". Guests and patrons will also be able to enjoy 60s inspired alcoholic milkshakes in the Piano Bar.

Over the last 50 years The Menzies Hotel has played a large part in the history of Sydney City. Being the first international hotel built in the city since World War II, it was officially opened by The Beach Boys in 1694. The hotel hosted skating stars on a permanent, retractable ice skating rink - a restaurant showpiece and local favorite. The first ever Japanese Restaurant in Sydney opened at the hotel in 1972, called Keisan, and in 1979 Shell House, the office building adjacent to The Menzies became part of the hotel adding 196 rooms to the hotel's inventory. As of March 2000, The Menzies joined international hotel group Accor as a 4-star hotel.

Today the Menzies hotel is known for its incredible hospitality and customer service, provided to its guests by the 200 loyal staff members who work there. Located near Sydney's famous attractions including The Rocks, Opera House and Botanical Gardens, The Menzies overlooks Wynyard Park and is surrounded by restaurants, boutique shops and theatres. The hotel boasts 446 guestrooms, 14 function rooms accommodating up to 450 delegates, 2 restaurants, 4 bars, a gymnasium, indoor heated pool and souvenir shop.

IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific 2013 Inaugural Online Diary Facility A Success

Exhibition To Open With Strong Showing of New Exhibitors and Support From CVBs

The Online Diary facility has seen success yet again with its inaugural implementation at IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific 2013. Over 100 exhibitors and buyers have already achieved 100% scheduled appointments before the event is due to commence tomorrow.

“The success of the Online Diary at the IT&CM China show held in April early this year proved how beneficial this feature is for delegates. We are equally delighted with the positive results we are witnessing at IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific. They demonstrate the intensive efforts the show organisers have put in to ensure delegates can justify their ROI ahead of the event, and have greater control over their appointment schedules,” said Darren Ng, Managing Director of TTG Asia Media.

Buyer Hirohisa Kirita, Manager of Global Corporate Sales, JTB-TNT Co., Ltd expressed his satisfaction with the Online Diary. “Before I even left for Bangkok, my appointments were completely filled. This saves me a lot of time and I am able to review and update my schedule at any time.”

Exhibitor Jose De Jesus Ting, Director of Sales of Ramada Plaza Bangkok Menam Riverside echoed the same sentiments. “The Online Diary facility is an excellent tool for me, since I am a busy person. The ease of the Online Diary appointment scheduling function allows me to easily fill my appointments from 50% to 100% in a short span of time.”

Confidence in IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific has also translated to strong support from industry exhibitors, notably from new participants and destination CVBs. This year’s showcase will feature 122 new exhibiting companies, with many of these new companies coming in under the various CVB and national pavilions, including new participating countries Jordan, India and New Zealand. Japan’s private MICE sector has also chosen IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific to stage a strong comeback to the MICE scene. To help position the destination to international buyers, event organisers have clustered all participating Japanese exhibitors on the show floor. Similarly Singapore is represented by 15 private sector organisations, 10 of which have been clustered into a dedicated Singapore pavilion to promote the destination. Taiwan has also doubled their confidence in the event with twice the booth space this year. The country is also coinciding their exclusive MEET TAIWAN networking event with IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific to maximise their reach to local buyers and media.

“We are seeing an increase in MICE visitors, with the bulk of arrivals coming from Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia among other South-East Asia regions, and IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific 2013 is an excellent platform for us to reach out to these markets. Our participation this year is the biggest to date with 9 co-exhibitors at the show. We are showcasing a larger scale of destinations, products and services, enabling us to promote Taiwan as the best MICE destination to buyers,” said Lily Su, Manager - Convention Section III, Taipei International Convention Centre of Taiwan External Trade Development Council.

Host country Thailand with their newly launched Thailand Connect brand is featuring additional MICE cities Phuket and Khon Kean amidst overwhelming response from Thailand’s private sector that resulted in 15 Thai spillover booths as compared to 5 in 2012. This is on top of an already strong contingent of 55 organisations in the main Thailand pavilion led by Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB).

“TCEB has been an active main supporter of IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific every year. Our partnership has always been based on our firm conviction in both the value and strategic potential of the event as an industry springboard for the Asia-Pacific market. Our new Thailand Connect brand focuses on Thailand’s winning combination: a diversity of destinations, incomparable business opportunities and quality MICE professionals. With our world-class infrastructure, connectivity and facilities, strategic location at the heart of ASEAN, matched with the perfect blend of legendary hospitality and service excellence, Thailand is emerging as Asia’s premier MICE destination,” said Nopparat Maythaveekulchai, President of TCEB.

Meanwhile, pre-event activities kick off today with the city tours that had delegates enjoying tuk tuk rides, traditional Thai boxing classes and cooking classes.

For more information, log on to |

Friday, September 27, 2013

Niue Survey Results Out - 100% of Visitors Enjoy Their Stay

Exit surveys in Niue show the Island is still delivering on their claim of under promising and over delivering every time. 100 percent of those surveyed in the last 2 years ‘enjoyed their stay on the island’ and almost as many indicated a high intention to visit again and recommend Niue to family and friends.

By the end of 2013 visitor numbers would have seen more than 2,000 additional arrivals for the year. 

That means several million more in revenue per annum for this tiny nation. With all tourism operators rating highly in the survey, visitors have seen that Niue offers not only amazing nature based experiences, but also highly rated accommodation, dining, and other tourism related activities.Since its inception in 2010 the Niue tourism development programme has yielded excellent on-going results. The growing demand has seen the Island respond with several upgrades, and plans to continue to improve tourism infrastructure and visitor services and they are paying off with these high satisfaction levels.

Tourism Development Manager Hayden Porter says “the reason Niue is so popular now is that people have realised it offers something very different to other Pacific Islands. There are so many possibilities for adventure offered by the island and visitors are amazed by the untouched nature, rainforests and coastlines. There is no crime, no one hassles you to buy anything, it’s the way things used to be elsewhere.”

The small island nation, with welcoming locals, consists primarily of uplifted limestone which is inundated with hundreds of caves and chasms both above and underwater. The water is amongst the clearest in the world and makes for some of the best diving and snorkeling on the planet.

Niue is also one of only a few places in the world where visitors can engage in land based whale watching. The deep waters surrounding the island bring whales as close as 50 metres from the shore.

“Once people discover that Niue is so much more than they thought, they nearly always find that a week isn’t long enough to fully take in what’s on offer. I think that’s why we see so many people return to the island, they have made friends with the locals and have had adventures that they want to share with other friends and family,” Porter says.

The standout results of the Niue airport visitor survey suggest increased growth in tourism will see many more New Zealanders choose to holiday in Niue in 2014 and beyond, with more accommodation and flight capacity just around the corner.

Tourism Indonesia Mart & Expo (TIME) 2013

This year's TIME, the Tourism Indonesia Mart & Expo 2013 or otherwise known as "Pasar Wisata" will take place in Padang, capital of West Sumatra from 18th to 21th October 2013, after the success of two consecutive editions in Bandar Lampung, capital of Lampung Province.

TIME is an annual event organized by the Tourism Society of Indonesia (Masyarakat Pariwisata 
Indonesia/MPI) supported by various shareholders of Indonesian Tourism including the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, the Provincial Government of West Sumatra , the Association of Indonesia's Travel Agents (ASITA), the Association of Tour Guides of Indonesia, the Association of Hotel and Restaurants (PHRI), and Garuda Indonesia airline.

TIME is the only international contract travel mart in Indonesia with a direct business to business concept. The event is a meeting place for those who sell tourism products and services of Indonesia (sellers) to the international market (buyers). TIME is Indonesia's only mart listed in the calendar of international travel marts together with ITB Berlin, WTM London, Arabian Travel Mart (ATM), PATA Travel Mart, and other similar world prestigious events. TIME 2013 will present all Indonesia's tourist destinations, including popular and newly discovered travel destinations, tourism objects, and new product developments.

Padang was chosen as the venue for this year considering its relatively easy connections to neighboring countries since the Minangkabau International Airport serves direct flights to and from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Singapore. Participants will also be introduced to the fascinating landscape of West Sumatra including Bukittinggithe Sianok Gorge, and Lake Singkarak.

This year, the number of buyers are expected to increase to 83 from 28 countries; while the transaction value is projected to reach over US$ 19 million.

For more details and registration, please log on to

Iconic Adventure Tourism Leader AJ Hackett Bungy Celebrates 25 Years of Bungy

Adventure tourism leader AJ Hackett Bungy will celebrate 25 years of bungy in spectacular style with a 25-day long calendar of events, promotions and competitions culminating in a ‘not-to-be-missed’ party on November 12 2013.

With pre-birthday fun kicking off on October 18, #25yearsofbungy will celebrate the many achievements and successes of the multi-award-winning adventure tourism company, known worldwide as the ‘pioneers of bungy’.

As the official ‘World Home of Bungy’, Queenstown’s historic Kawarau Bridge will be the focus of celebrations.

From humble beginnings in 1988 when AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch were first granted a temporary consent from the Department of Conservation to set up the world’s first commercial bungy jumping operation at the bridge, AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand has become a world-renowned adventure tourism company recognised for its innovation, edgy company culture and constantly-evolving range of products.

Over the 25 years more than three million people have jumped at AJ Hackett Bungy sites around the world. Celebrity visits to the four New Zealand sites include; Jack Black, Tiger Woods, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and comedian Billy Connelly - who famously jumped naked.

AJ Hackett Bungy co-founder and director Henry van Asch said he was “overwhelmed and incredibly proud” to see the company reach the quarter of a century milestone.

“For 25 years AJ Hackett Bungy has encouraged people to step outside their comfort zone, balancing the perceived risk of jumping, swinging and now zipping from a great height, with the most stringent of safety measures,” he said.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since AJ and I dreamt up the idea to jump off structures around the world attached to a bungy and then start a commercial operation at the now world-famous Kawarau Bridge.

“It’s been a fun, interesting and incredible ride, during which time we’ve become not only one of the best-known brands in New Zealand, but also the 539671world,” said Mr van Asch.

“Bungy’s an iconic ‘must-do’ adventure activity and we look forward to welcoming people for many more years to come.”
“There are always plenty of new ideas coming up and my business partners and I are very happy to have a great team around us to make them possible and a reality for our valued customers.
“I for one can’t wait to see what fun, crazy new products and ideas we come up with,” Mr van Asch said.

The #25yearsofbungy promotion will start on October 18 2013 with an advent calendar-style promotional campaign featuring quirky and unique themes, discounts and challenges every day.

Prizes including bungy jumps, limited edition 25th birthday T-shirts and more will be up for grabs each day.

“There will be plenty of details and some great announcements nearer the time,” said AJ Hackett Bungy Marketing Manager Katie Macpherson.
People can follow celebrations on the AJ Hackett Bungy Facebook page and are encouraged to use the#25daysof bungy hashtag on social media sites.
On birthday day November 12, students from local primary and high schools will be joined by teachers and spectators to kick start celebrations at the Kawarau Bungy Centre.

Pupils aged from 10 to 13, whose names will be picked out of a hat, will jump from the bridge, embracing their fears and completing their first ever bungy jump.

A number of teachers will also be egged along by their pupils to take the plunge.

The local schools event is an annual tradition for the iconic adventure tourism company.

Throughout the day and into the night fun birthday activities will include bungy stunt jumps and an invite-only event in the evening for VIPs, media and staff.

Australian visitors to Jordan increase

The latest statistics released by the Jordan Tourism Board shows there has been an increase in visitors during the month of August which is up by 0.4 % to 1,360 visitors in the month and a total of 14,031 for January to August.

Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan of the Jordan Tourist Board in Australia said, "This is a pleasing result. I was in Jordan during the month of August with JTB representatives from all around the world and felt completely safe in this magical haven which boasts Petra, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea and so many incredible religious sites."

"There are over 100,000 archaeological and heritage sites, one of the largest number in the world, including 11,000 documented under the national data base, on top of which is the red rose city of Petra," she said.

Speaking about the increase, Lenoir-Jourdan said, "Australians are incredibly geographically savvy and these results show that they are still embracing travel to Jordan, the Switzerland of the Middle East."

The Jordan Tourism Board are continuing to invest money into the Australian market in 2014 and are also looking to invite Australian trade to a Jordan Travel Market to be held either in 2014 or 2015.


Here Comes the Fun and Sun: Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises Arriving Soon

Inline images 1

The arrival of five superliners gives Australians five more reasons to look forward to summer!

September 2013, Sydney: – Five world-class Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises superliners are making their way Down Under for a sizzling 2013-14 cruise season. The combined fleet will keep adventurous travellers happy with a selection of 73 cruises available throughout Australian, New Zealand, Asian and South Pacific waters; and dock-masters in Sydney busy with a total of 59 turnarounds in Sydney Harbour.

First off the mark is Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas, which departed Vancouver earlier this month and arrives in Sydney on 5 October to start her seventh consecutive Australian season. She will be followed closely by Radiance of the Seas on 11 October. Arriving on 23 October is Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Solstice, Australia's youngest superliner epitomising 'modern-luxury'. The largest and most innovative ship in the region, Voyager of the Seas, returns to her Sydney home port on 7 November. Celebrity Millennium calls on Sydney on 20 November on her way to Asia.

"It is full steam ahead for an even bigger Australasian cruising season this year. We are offering a total of 73 cruises and are looking forward to welcoming over 210,000 guests on our five luxurious superliners – 10% more than last year," says RCL Australia & New Zealand Commercial Director, Adam Armstrong.

"Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises now offer the newest, biggest, most modern and amenity-rich cruise ships sailing from Australia. As Australians have become more 'cruise savvy' we have responded to their evolving demands by bringing a superior fleet to deliver a calibre of cruise holiday that you couldn't previously experience in local waters. We're especially pleased to welcome back Australia's largest ships, Voyager of the Seas and Celebrity Solstice for their second seasons.

"We continually look for ways to improve our guests' experiences. This season we introduce the Barbie Experience At Sea on Royal Caribbean ships and a host of new itineraries; whilst on Celebrity Cruises, we've introduced a new craft cocktail selection, Xbox At Sea and iTake movie workshops for teens."

New itinerary highlights this season include the chance to sail to the South Pacific islands of New Caledonia and Fiji for the first time on Australia's highest rated premium cruise ship, Celebrity Solstice; a shorter 11-night itinerary to New Zealand; additional 2- and 3-night Sampler cruises; and a 15-night New Year cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas which uniquely combines ports in Queensland and the South Pacific islands for the very first time.

"Bookings for this season show the continued popularity of multigenerational cruising –kids, parents and grandparents travelling together. Our South Pacific cruises are particularly popular for travelling families.  More people are also turning to cruising as a way of seeing their own country, for instance on a Tasmanian,  Queensland or Round Australia cruise, and these itineraries remain ever popular with overseas guests," says Mr. Armstrong.

CLIA Australasia General Manager Brett Jardine, said: "This summer season will see a wide range of ships sailing our waters, so it will really demonstrate the many different styles of cruise holidays now available locally. Cruising is a year round industry for Australia now, but a busy summer season like this will be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy."

Royal Caribbean International remains Sydney's largest cruise line this coming summer, offering more cruises and carrying more guests than any other cruise line in the 2013-14 season. Royal Caribbean International was also recently voted 'Best Australian Based Cruise Line' at the National Travel Industry Awards.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Six Senses Spa Laamu – Maldives Welcomes Visiting Practitioner Joao Santos

Wellness therapist and professional masseur Joao Santos will be practicing at Six Senses Spa Laamu, Maldives, for a limited engagement from October 08 through November 29 2013. Joao’s specialty is deep tissue sports massage.

Having initially trained at Thailand’s Chiva Som Academy in Bangkok and the Steiner Academy in London, he subsequently worked while further training at Six Senses Spas in Qatar, Dubai and the Maldives, plus spending some time in Switzerland.

These days, Joao travels the globe as a visiting therapist. His self-proclaimed nomadic lifestyle and extensive travelling gives him the opportunity to participate in various roles and courses, through which he discovered himself, while at the same time evolving his renowned technique.

His propulsive inspiration is also expressed through his writing and photography, as he is not only a traveller but also an artist. One of his recent visits was at the Sha Wellness Clinic, which focuses not only on improving but also expanding people's health and well-being. This is achieved through the unique fusion of the best natural therapies, deriving from the ancient Eastern wisdom and with the most advanced Western techniques.

At Six Senses Spa Laamu, Joao will be available for treatments of deep tissue sport’s massage, foot reflexology, a fusion of deep tissue and stretch massage, express back massage and an Indian head and foot reflexology combination therapy. Treatment times and prices are available from Six Senses Spa Laamu.

Joao Santos, visiting therapist at Six Senses Spa Laamu – Maldives, during October and November 2013
The Six Senses Spa Laamu, tucked away in the resort’s Maldives tropical island landscape

Private treatment nest for couples at Six Senses Spa Laamu - Maldives

For further press information regarding the above press release, please contact Lora Hoare, PR & Social Media Executive: or visit the website at

London welcoming growing number of Chinese visitors

Survey results published today show that London’s tourism industry is increasingly adapting to the growing number of Chinese visitors to the capital which have doubled in the past three years.

London & Partners questioned 70 of the capital’s top restaurants, hotels, shops and tourist attractions for the survey, which revealed that more than a third of businesses now employ Mandarin speakers amongst their staff to cater for the growth in Chinese customers.

Businesses are also providing an increasing amount of information in Mandarin for Chinese tourists - in particular brochures, menus or other literature.
Improved travel links, with four Chinese cities now flying to London, have contributed to the increase in visitors in the last 12 months. Businesses in the capital believe that Chinese customers will be important to the growth of their enterprises over the next five years.

Feedback from the survey also showed that there is also a significant willingness across the board to continue to adapt products or services to suit the requirements of Chinese customers.

Director of Consumer Marketing and Digital Channels at London & Partners, Julie Chappell said: “This is great news for London and its Chinese visitors. London is a welcoming city and an accessible destination for mandarin speakers. We already know that more languages are spoken here than in any other capital city in the world but it is good to hear that so many businesses are investing in Mandarin language services. We want to make sure that all overseas visitors have a very positive and enjoyable experience during their time in London.”

London has communities from 33 nations with 300 languages spoken – Cantonese and Mandarin are among the most common. In 2012, London welcomed 104,000 Chinese visitors, up more than a third from the previous year and double the number since 2009.

Attracted by big brand names in London’s Luxury Quarter, Chinese visitors spent an average of £1300 each in London last year which is more than any other nationality. In total, Chinese visitors to the capital spent £140 million in 2012 – an increase of 150% on the 2009 spend figure.

A record 15.5 million people visited London from overseas last year, spending more than £10 billion.

Madrid offers an abundance of tourist services

No need to worry about traveling to a different country if Madrid, Spain, is your destination. Here visitors will find an abundance of tourist services readily available as they journey through this vibrant city.

You need a map of the city and someone to recommend the places you cannot miss when you are visiting Madrid. You want to know what exhibitions and shows you can go see. You are planning a tour for your friends who will be in town this weekend… Don't think twice, you have to go by or contact one of the tourist information points.

History, art, gastronomy and curious facts are all things you'll find in the program of Official Guided Tours. The Madrid City Council offers guided tours in 8 languages to help visitors from across the globe to get acquainted with the city: Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch and Japanese.

MadridCard is the best way to discover everything the city has to offer. With this sightseeing pass, getting to know the city could not be simpler or more enjoyable. For a very reasonable price, it entitles you to discounts in shops and restaurants, guided tours and free entry to over 50 museums.

The Tourist Travel Pass is the most economical and practical way to get to know Madrid. It can be used on all public transport in the Region as many times as necessary within the valid dates. There are five passes valid for 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 days.

Madrid City Tour is one of the easiest and most comfortable ways of discovering the city. All you have to do is buy your ticket, hop on the bus, put on your earphones, listen to the recorded commentaries and enjoy the streets, monuments and places of interest that you pass by.

Madrid is a very welcoming city, offering numerous accommodations for people with disabilities. Download guides and find out more about more about specially adapted tours and routes designed for people with physical or intellectual disabilities and hearing or visual impairments.

Madrid is an ideal place to learn Spanish, a language spoken by more than 400 million people around the world. The city's cultural richness, nightlife and climate will turn your academic stay into an unforgettable holiday. Find out more about studying Spanish in our city.

If you enjoy getting about by motorbike, check out this guide which is packed with information about all the top places to visit in the city. It also includes a number of tours for covering on two wheels as well as a list of public car parks and a road map.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sultanate of Oman ranks 26th in the World on economic freedom, Australia ranked 10th.

The Sultanate of Oman has been ranked the 26th most economically free country in the world, according to the 2013 Economic Freedom of the World Report, released by the Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading 
Al Riyam Parkpublic policy think tank.

The report reveals that the Sultanate has made considerable improvements in the 'sound money' and 'freedom to trade internationally' indexes as it becomes more competitive in global markets and offers attractive incentives to investors.

It further highlights Oman’s efforts to reduce bureaucracy, bypassing outdated regulations and safeguarding property rights while aggressively promoting international trade and investment, a press release said.

The annual Economic Freedom of the World Report is the most objective and accurate measure of economic freedom published by any organisation, using 42 distinct variables to create an index ranking countries around the world based on policies that encourage economic freedom.

Hong Kong and Singapore retain the top two positions, followed by New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Mauritius, Finland, the UK and Chile completing the top ten. Oman was ranked third within the GCC.

“As more countries are surveyed each year and standards improve, Oman’s ranking of 26th out of 152 countries clearly signals we are a leading business destination for investment and a country that is serious about improving its business environment and competitive appeal. In fact, research shows that people living in countries with high levels of economic freedom enjoy higher levels of prosperity, greater individual freedoms and longer life spans,” said His Excellency, Dr Salem al Ismaily, Chairman, Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (PAIPED).

Commenting on Oman’s financial performance, H E Hamood Sangour al Zadjali, Executive President, Central Bank of Oman, said, “Over the past few years, the Sultanate’s financial markets have matured significantly, this has resulted in improved liquidity as well as supported growth in a number of sectors.”
The Sultanate has observed a 71% increase of Australian travellers in the past year, with predictions of further growth in 2014 with the unveiling of two more luxury resorts: Alila Resort in Jabal Akhdar and Missoni in Dhofar.

TOP 10 Holiday Parks launches Qualmark-standard Top Motel product

For those who like the idea of holidaying in wide-open spaces but camping isn’t their  style, New Zealand’s premier holiday park group TOP 10 Holiday Parks has launched its new Top Motels product.

Of the 49 TOP 10 Holiday Parks throughout New Zealand, 42 of them now have top-quality motel accommodation, offering an alternative to camping and powered sites and appealing to a wider audience and target market.

New Zealand’s accommodation and activities assessment body Qualmark recently assessed and rated all Top Motel properties, with the majority receiving a 4-star rating.

TOP 10 Holiday Parks CEO David Ovendale said recent research showed a lack of awareness of the parks’ motel accommodation, with the majority of people associating the iconic Kiwi institution with tents, motorhome and caravan sites.

“We’ve launched the Top Motels product and achieved Qualmark accreditation for all our motels to encourage a broader range of clientele to enjoy an amazing holiday park experience,” he said.

A Top Motel room at Waihi Beach features a secluded balcony with stunning sea view
A Top Motel room at Waihi Beach features a secluded balcony with stunning sea view
“Many who would enthusiastically embrace a traditional Kiwi holiday staying in a park-like setting, but don’t own a tent or motorhome, have perhaps discounted TOP 10 as they may not be aware we offer high-quality, very comfortable motel accommodation.

“Holiday parks have always been, and will continue to be intrinsically-linked to long-term family memories and deep family bonding for generations of Kiwis and now with our motels we’re able to offer fantastic new options to families and indeed other market segments, appealing to a new customer base.”

Top Motels means guests can experience all the benefits of a park environment including “contained freedom” for the kids (translating to full relaxation for Mum and Dad) and access to a broad range of amenities, not available with most motel accommodation elsewhere.

Amenities differ between parks but many include a swimming pool, hot tub, jumping pillow, bikes for hire, games room and basketball or tennis court, and kids’ activities in the school holidays.

The pool and playground at Motueka TOP 10
The pool and playground at Motueka TOP 10
All the parks have a Qualmark Enviro rating of bronze or greater and provide a unique environment with opportunities to meet others.

“When did you last enjoy the convivial experience of having a beer or glass of wine with your neighbour in the next room in either a hotel or motel?” said Mr Ovendale.

“This sort of camaraderie is common in a holiday park environment and a connection our society doesn’t generally get enough of these days.”
Mr Ovendale said he wanted to emphasise that Kiwis and visitors could now enjoy a TOP 10 holiday year-round, not just in the warmer summer months.

“Families that want to get away and relax year-round can now visit somewhere like Queenstown in spring or even the middle of winter, relax in a motel unit, watching it snow outside, all from an idyllic, warm setting. It’s the perfect break!

”The kids can run about outside as much as they choose in a relaxing, safe environment, meeting other children, all with the added bonus of having self-contained facilities.

“Holiday Parks have always been seen as an iconic Kiwi summer activity and they’ll remain so for years to come. The new motel product simply enhances what’s already a popular Kiwi pastime.”

Further information on all TOP 10 properties is available at

Panoramic Highway and Bali’s expanded Airport ready for APEC Summit

One week before the APEC Summit to be held from 1 – 8 October, the island of Bali, Indonesia, is ready to host one of the world’s most prestigious conferences, to be attended by 21 Heads of States, Ministers and delegations, members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Among Heads of State confirmed attending are President Obama of the United States, President Putin of 
Russia, and China’s President Xi Jinping.

On Monday 23 September, Indonesia’s President Yudhoyono will officially declare open Bali’s first, panoramic 12.7 km toll road between the island’s Ngurah Rai Airport and Nusa Dua and Benoa harbour, of which 10 km. sweeps across the beautiful Benoa Bay passing over mangrove forests, confirmed Minister of State Enterprises, Dahlan Iskan. Also officially opened will be Bali’s expanded airport, where its new International Arrival Hall already started operations smoothly on Thursday, 19 September, without glitches.

Also ready are the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center and the Bali International Convention Center in Nusa Dua, as are 22 hotels at Nusa DuaTanjung Benoa, Sawangan, LegianKuta and Sanur, and other locations to accommodate heads of state and officials, CEOs and international media.

Some 5,000 to 7,000 delegates are expected to attend APEC, among whom, 1,000 CEO’s of the world’s corporations, while the Media Center is ready to serve 3,500 to 5,000 of world journalists.

Meantime, even today Bali is already in full swing of operations for APEC, since APEC Finance Ministers have started convening here for their deliberations, as has the APEC High Level Meeting on Health and Economy. On 1-2 October is scheduled the High Level Dialogue on Travel Facilitation. Pinnacle of the Conference will be on 1 – 8 October, when APEC Economic Leaders will have one whole week of discussions and related meetings. Meanwhile, from 2 – 5 October, the 4th APEC Business Advisory Council will hold its own separate meeting.

Bali’s beautiful new toll road
“Everything is according to schedule” confirmed Minister Dahlan Iskan. “Moreover, the completion of the road was even faster than anticipated. The paving and installation of road markers, toll booths and lighting is now completed.”

Safety testing and roadworthiness evaluations were undertaken since mid-July 2013.

Earlier, Minister Dahlan Iskan said that the Airport-Nusa Dua-Benoa toll road has achieved 3 top records. 

These are: 1. The toll road, 12 km. of which is built over the sea is the longest of its kind in Indonesia, longer than the existing bridge between Surabaya and the island of Madura in East Java, and was completed in only 14 months, including preparation time. 2. It is the most beautiful and most panoramic of them all. And 3. The toll road has a special, dedicated lane for motorbikes. “From the airport to Nusa Dua over the toll road will now take only 9 minutes” gushed the Minister. Since it is largely built over the sea, the new toll road is equipped with wind speed monitors and CCTV cameras.

Construction of the road was undertaken by a project consortium comprised of a number State-owned companies: PT Jasa Marga Bali, PT Pelindo III, PT Angkasa Pura I, PT Pengembangan Pariwisata Bali, PT Wijaya Karya, PT Adhi Karya and PT Hutama Karya.

The Bali toll road together with the completion of the Simpang Siur underpass, are expected to reduce heavy traffic congestion that has so far beset this part of Bali.

The Star Introduces New Rooftop Pool

The Star Sydney's Astral Towers, a luxurious 480-room five star hotel, has launched a new rooftop, indoor/outdoor pool for hotel guests.

Perched atop The Star, Sydney's only integrated resort, the pool at Astral Towers was re-designed to take advantage of  the stunning Sydney harbour location providing expansive views of iconic Sydney Harbour, the city skyline and beyond. During the evening, guests can bask in the light offered by the Event Centre's unique back-lit glass shell.

In an Australian first, the pool at Astral Towers has RGB colour changing LED pool lighting, allowing a truly bespoke experience with over 16 different colours that can fade and illuminate in a variety of ways, adding an extra special touch to the stunning pool space atop the city.

The rooftop indoor/outdoor pool is set to a comfortable temperature and has adjoining indoor hot tub and outdoor spa. Keeping the environment in mind was key throughout the entire re-development and the new Astral Pool has seen a 30% reduction in energy consumption since the completion.

Now open from 6am to 9pm, the pool at Astral Towers has previously been closed for two years whilst The Star has been redeveloped to take advantage of its harbourside position.

The Star

After an $870 million redevelopment, The Star has been transformed into Sydney's premium entertainment destination. The Star offers award winning chefs and restaurants, The Darling, a five star boutique lifestyle hotel, a 16 room day spa, a luxury retail collection, and a world class casino.

The Star's new $100 million Event Centre has been designed to host A-list performers from around the world. The state-of-the-art venue fills a void in the Sydney conference, convention and banquet market.

Pullman Melbourne Albert Park unveils multimillion-dollar renovation

Melbourne's first 5-Star Pullman hotel


Pullman Melbourne Albert Park has opened its doors following a multimillion dollar renovation of its 169-guestrooms, executive lounge, meeting spaces and public areas. The hotel is the first of Australia's largest and fastest growing 5-star hotel brand to open in Melbourne.

Enjoying a spectacular location overlooking Albert Park Lake and the Formula 1 Grand Prix track, Pullman Melbourne Albert Park will be a front row seat to the popular racing event taking in more corners than any other view in Melbourne from the top floor suites.

Having long held the reputation as Melbourne's premier business and events hotel, the former Sebel has received the 5-Star Pullman treatment of its business facilities and meeting spaces making it a luxurious yet functional experience for travelling executives.

The new look lobby features a spiral staircase and a striking light feature creating an impressive sense of arrival for guests complemented by a personalised and friendly check-in process.

The Pullman Executive Lounge, a hallmark of every Pullman hotel, has been designed to create a serene space to do business or simply relax. Available exclusively to guests staying on executive floors of the Pullman Tower, access to the Lounge adds value and convenience to any stay.  With a stunning new marble refreshment station, plush sofas and LED televisions, the Lounge is a comfortable and stylish home-away-from-home for discerning business and leisure travellers.

As part of the hotel's dramatic transformation, the guestrooms have been updated with a contemporary colour palette of gold, red and chocolate. Each guest room features an iPod and iPad docking station, a multimedia connectivity panel, glass work table, lounge chair and well-appointed Roger&Gallet bathroom amenities, meeting the needs of both business and leisure guests.

Gillian Millar, General Manager of the Pullman Melbourne Albert Park said: "As Pullman is now Australia's largest and fastest growing 5-star hotel brand it was only a matter of time before Melbourne was home to a world-class Pullman."

"Being such an iconic business and events hotel, particularly with the Grand Prix racetrack directly opposite the hotel, we're excited to see the hotel flourish under its new internationally revered banner and mixing business with leisure – a key Pullman identifier, certainly prevails here."

With 28 event spaces under the one roof, Pullman Melbourne Albert Park is one of the largest and most comprehensive hotel event venues in Melbourne. Hosting functions for up to 1600 people, the ballroom completed an extensive renovation earlier this year and new LED colour control lighting and pin-spot technology was installed, as well as new curtains, operable walls and carpets.

Other facilities on offer at Pullman Melbourne Albert Park include Windows restaurant, Atrium Bar, Espresso Bar in the hotel lobby, a fully equipped gymnasium, indoor heated swimming pool, spa and sauna.

Experience the new Pullman Melbourne Albert Park with an opening special Bed & Breakfast package, for two people, with rates starting from $260 per night. To book, call (03) 9529 4300 or head to or

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gourmet Weekend, Laucala Island, Fiji

539313Enjoy the tropical magic of Laucala Island with Quay's executive chef, Peter Gilmore. 

This premier South Seas escape has just 25 exquisite villas with interiors by leading London-based designer Lynne Hunt, plus a choice of dining venues with menus by leading European and Asian chefs.539297
The array of diversions includes swimming, snorkelling, diving, spa treatments, beachside horseback riding, sailing and cruising, and golf on an 18-hole championship course created by premier designer David McLay Kidd.

Over this long weekend, Peter Gilmore 
will collaborate with two of the resort's chefs,
French-born Martin Klein and Thai chef Kun Santi, to produce a series of spectacular culinary events.

Highlights will include:

FRIDAY - 1. A traditional Fijian evening at Laucala's Cultural Village. 2. Cocktails followed by dinner prepared in a lovo, and a 539310spectacular dance performance.

SATURDAY - 1. An exploration of the island's organic farms with chefs Martin Klein and Peter Gilmore  2. An informal lunch around Laucala's spectacular pool 3. An elegant, seasonal seven-course dĂ©gustation dinner at Plantation House Restaurant by Quay's Peter Gilmore, showcasing Laucala's home-grown wagyu beef

SUNDAY - 1. An afternoon masterclass with Peter Gilmore at Seagrass Restaurant 2. An informal seafood dinner by Laucala chefs together with the kitchen team from Quay at Seagrass Restaurant.

WA's 'Best Jobs' Winner Gets a Taste for the Kimberley

WA's 'Best Jobs in the World' Taste Master, Rich Keam, has started his six month position with a Kimberley adventure, which included a tangle with a huge mud crab - that he later ate!

The 35 year-old, from Brighton in the United Kingdom, has spent his first two weeks as the Taste Master visiting Broome, the Dampier Peninsula and the East Kimberley.

"I travelled around the rest of Australia about 15 years ago but never experienced anything like the Kimberley," Rich said.

"The rugged landscapes, the colours, the wildlife, the people and the adventures I've already had have been mind-blowing.

"And the food has been amazing too, particularly in some of the more remote locations like Kooljaman, Cygnet Bay and El Questro - as good as I've had anywhere in the world."

As per the Taste Master job description Rich has had to catch some of that food for himself,  which meant his first ever mud crabbing expedition with Indigenous elder Brian Lee near the Kooljaman luxury wilderness camp at Cape Leveque, 220 kilometres north of Broome.

"Brian Lee is my new hero, no question. Not only is he an expert mud crabber (he caught one monster by hand by duck diving in a tidal lagoon!) but he's extremely wise and a great teacher and story teller," Rich said.

"He showed me how to spot a mud crab hole at low tide, how to feel for the crabs deep in the holes and how to hook them out with a metal pole. It sounds simple but I can vouch that it is very exciting, and slightly terrifying, when you do find one. Brian also taught me how to pick up a mud crab without losing any fingers!

"At the end of a wonderful afternoon we put our catch on a beach barbeque and had an absolute feast of delicious mud crab meat."

To watch Rich's mud crabbing adventure click here (see below for embed code). Additional footage of Rich attemping to catch the mud crab can be viewed here.

Next stop on Rich's Dampier Peninsula road trip was the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, Australia's oldest operating pearl farm, on the other side of Cape Leveque.

"Like most people I'd never been to a pearl farm before, and it was absolutely fascinating," Rich said.
"There is such a delicate science behind the whole process and a great deal of hard work to create the pearls. One of the by-products is the fantastic meat from the pearl oysters, which has a kind of scallop taste with a calamari texture.

"Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm is an oasis in this rugged wilderness. It has evolved and expanded over the past three to four years, allowing tourists to visit and stay overnight, and they've opened a top notch bistro and cafĂ©. It's quite astonishing really.

"One of the highlights of our stay was the Giant Tides Tour, which is on a fast-boat out to see the huge tidal movement (around eight metres the day we were there) as King Sound was emptying. It was exhilarating powering over the tidal rapids and big whirlpools, then we went around the back of one of the islands to see a waterfall hundreds of metres long as the tide fell away from a reef.

"What a great start to my Taste Master adventure, I can't wait to see what the rest of Western Australia has to offer.

To see more of Rich's Dampier Peninsula road trip click here. (see below for embed code)As part of his six month stint as the 'Best Jobs in the World' Taste Master, Rich will visit all regions in WA. The 'Best Jobs in the World' campaign is a collaboration between Tourism Australia, Tourism WA and five other States and territories.

Rich beat more than 90,000 hopefuls to land the dream job as WA's Taste Master.

You can follow Taste Master Rich Keam on his blog, on Twitter @RichKeam and Instagram @TasteMaster_WA.

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places