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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Now you can pay to use a lounge at Sydney International Airport

Okay, so your flight is delayed and you look like spending a few extra hours at Sydney International Airport. Is it worth shelling out for the pay-to-use lounge?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

HG Travel Recognised As Leading Inbound Tour Operator With Coveted Vietnam Tourism Award 2016

Leading Southeast Asian destination management company (DMC), HG Travel, has been recognised as one of the country's "Leading Inbound Tour Operators" at the 16th annual Vietnam Tourism Awards, given to tourism companies that have demonstrated excellence in their products and client services.

Ms Nguyen Thi Tuyet, managing director of of HG Travel Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia) receives the annual Vietnam Tourism Award at Hanoi Opera House. For high res image please click here.

Ms Nguyen Thi Tuyet, managing director of HG Travel Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), received the award on behalf of the company at a prestigious award ceremony held on 7 July, 2016 at the Hanoi Opera House.

"HG Travel currently handles 50,000 inbound arrivals from regional and global source markets. We're truly honoured to have been recognised for our contribution to tourism in Vietnam," said Ms Nguyen Thi Tuyet.

Presented annually by the Vietnam Tourism Association, in partnership with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the Vietnam Tourism Award has become one of the most coveted accolades for local and international tourism enterprises operating in the country.

"This year's award is even more special as it accompanies the 56th anniversary of Vietnam Tourism Day," said HG Holdings CEO Tran Thanh Nam. "It also comes on the back of the recent extension of visa exemptions for visitors from some of our key source markets. We will therefore continue showcasing the best that this country has to offer to the world."

The accolade is particularly timely given HG Travel's strategic Asia-wide rollout plan over the next 12 months. The Hanoi-headquartered DMC is establishing a network of operations in the region – manned by seasoned experts in all key markets – to bolster its established presence in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

About HG Travel:
Established in 1997, HG Travel Group has become a leading destination management company specializing in travel to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. With offices worldwide staffed with travel professionals, the company provides trade partners with access to a comprehensive range of travel products and services. In 2015 it handled over 50,000 arrivals to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar managed by its offices and on the ground expertise in each of the countries.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Film Tourism Boosts European Rail Bookings

According to Rail Europe, the world's largest distributor rail passes and tickets, European cities and countries that have made it to the big screens continue to play a significant role in attracting travellers from Australia and New Zealand.

Manager Australasia of Rail Europe, Ingrid Kocijan, says there is no doubt that the upward trend in rail bookings to certain destinations is due to their direct involvement in major blockbuster movies or TV series.

"While film-induced tourism considerably influences our booking numbers, when combined with the increased accessibility and affordability to travel to Europe, numbers can skyrocket, " says Ingrid. "This year, for example, we can report that countries including Spain, Austria and Switzerland, all of which have been involved in major motion pictures recently, enjoyed a healthy increase in the number of train travellers from Australia and New Zealand in the first half of 2016.

Year-on-year records show that Rail Europe bookings for Spain increased by 15% from Jan-May this year, while Austria bookings went up by just over 10%. The biggest increase, however, came from rail package bookings for Switzerland, which recorded close to 80% increase during the same period.

Austria provided a number of spectacular filming locations for Spectre, the 24th series of the long running Bond Franchise, while Switzerland was featured in the true story of British ski-jumper Eddie Edwards, Eddie the Eagle and the critically acclaimed UK mini series of The Night Manager.

Then there was the filming of the fifth and sixth season of American fantasy TV series, Game of Thrones, which took place in the southern region of Andalucía and Navarra in northern Spain. Part of the latest Bourne Franchise, Jason Bourne, was also filmed in Spain, specifically in Barcelona.

"Often, film tourism can help put lesser known destinations on the radar for travellers, while increasing visitor numbers to major urban hubs," adds Ingrid. "For a continent like Europe, this works tremendously well for train travellers as the rail network is extremely wide, highly efficient, convenient and importantly for many travellers, cost effective."

Australasia continues to deliver impressive sales numbers when compared to other more populous regions, dominating as one of Rail Europe's top three regions for ticket sales globally.

The Cyber Pickpocket you’ll never see coming: RFID card security for travellers

It’s the call no one wants to get. It’s the first week of your month-long holiday. Your credit card has been skimmed and the bank is cancelling your card. Okay, most banks will guarantee the money and you won’t lose, but you can end up spending the rest of your holiday trying to obtain a new card.

"Oh, no!"
I was lucky. It was a short trip and I was home before my bank called telling me my card had been compromised and that they were cancelling it. As it turned out, all my travelling companions had fallen victim, most likely at the same time by the same perpetrator. We got off lightly.

Racking our brains, we all tried to figure out which store we’d been to that may have stolen our credit card details. My bank was not being at all helpful, just telling me that it was some time during my trip to Fiji the week prior.

Now fast forward to a travel expo I attended today and I meet Mike Casey of Travel Guard who is displaying an array of wallets, passport holders and document folios touting a big ‘digital security’ sign.

Yes, I knew about the RFID (Radio-frequency identification) technology being rapidly introduced into our bank cards, passports and even hotel keycards. Yes, I knew there were concerns about the security of this technology. And yes, I knew there were consumer countermeasures available for folks like me.

Wallets full of cards and data
What I did not know was just how darned easy it is to actually acquire the data from people’s cards without them even knowing.

“Watch this,” says Mike as he grabs an old bank card and his smartphone. “All I need to do is pass the phone next to your card and … voila … I have all your data, card number, expiry date, everything.”

The phone is equipped with a readily and legally available card reader downloaded from Google Play Store. Of course, to convert that data into something useful, some more kit is required but the ease of that was demonstrated to guests at a recent hacker conference in Washington. Security researcher, Kristin Paget, used about $350 in equipment to wirelessly read a volunteer’s RFID-enabled credit card and then encode its key data onto a blank card. Then, in the next minute, she used that newly encoded card to make a payment to herself.

When I related my Fiji experience to Mike, he was certain that we’d fallen victim to a skimming racket that likely captured data from all our cards and everyone else’s around us. In such an instance, Mike believes a hacker used simple, hobby store components to build an enhanced RFID scanner with sufficient range to capture data at a distance outside one’s normal ‘personal space.’

Cards displaying the payWave logo contain RFID technology
“Hackers are building these longer range devices into backpacks and suitcases, then lurking at places like airports and shopping malls and literally scooping heaps of data,” says Mike.

This disconcerting practice is supported by police reports.

"If I had one of those [devices] in my pocket, satchel or briefcase, and you were standing next to me on a train and your wallet was in your back pocket and I moved near enough to activate the signal on the RFID, well then I've got your details," said Detective Inspector Brian Hay, from Queensland Police's fraud and cybercrime squad.

Travel Guard RFID blocking card
The expert credit-security company, Veda, analysed frauds on Australian banks and credit providers, finding an overall rise of 27 per cent and a 103 per cent spike in identity theft in 2014.

There are other shortcomings and vulnerabilities in the whole RFID system that I will leave you, the reader, to determine for yourself with a few minutes of Google research.

So, having been (most likely) the victim of RFID data theft myself, I would advocate the purchase of what Mike was selling, namely a range of Travel Guard security wallets and blocking cards. I now have one in my pocket.

There are others who would argue that the risk of RFID data theft is so low that the fear is generated so that vendors of blocking technology can keep selling their stuff. The reader will need to make that decision for themselves, but after travelling for years through airports and hotels all around the world, they finally got me and I’m not taking the risk anymore.

For details and purchasing information, visit:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

PATA announces 2016 Grand and Gold Award Winners

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2106 PATA Grand and Gold Awards. Proudly supported and sponsored by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) for the last 21 years, this year's awards recognise the achievements of 26 separate organisations and individuals.

PATA will present 31 Grand and Gold Awards to such organisations as the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), EXO Travel, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Hotel ICON, Jetwing Hotels, Ministry of Tourism Republic of Indonesia, Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Malaysia.

The awards luncheon and presentation takes place at the Indonesia Convention Exhibition (ICE), Greater Jakarta, Banten Province, Indonesia on Friday, September 9, 2016 during PATA Travel Mart 2016.

Miss Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director of the Macao Government Tourism Office, said, “The PATA Gold Awards 2016 winners reveal a variety of creative new ways that can be effective in advancing the tourism industry while following sustainable principles, in a valuable contribution to inspire good practices in the tourism industry in the Asia-Pacific.”

Dr. Mario Hardy, PATA CEO, added, “On behalf of PATA, I would like to congratulate the 2016 Grand and Gold Award winners and to thank all of this year’s participants for their submissions. This year’s winners exemplify the values of the Association in working towards a more responsible travel and tourism industry in the Asia Pacific region and we look forward to celebrating their accomplishments at the PATA Gold Awards luncheon and presentation at PATA Travel Mart 2016 in Indonesia.

The PATA Grand Awards are presented to outstanding entries in four principal categories: Marketing; Education and Training; Environment, and Heritage and Culture.

Jetwing Hotels, Sri Lanka will receive the 2016 PATA Grand Award for Education and Training for its ‘A Journey of Hope and Progress - The Jetwing Youth Development Project’. The Jetwing Youth Development Project (JYDP) is an initiative designed to empower rural youth who are underprivileged and do not enjoy the opportunities for higher education or meaningful career prospects. Providing free training to school leavers from disadvantaged families in locations of Jetwing Hotels around the country, JYDP offers both practical and theoretical training to prepare them for a career in the travel and tourism industry. JYDP enables them to acquire suitable employment within Jetwing Hotels as well as creating equal opportunities for them to find employment elsewhere. As well as providing them with life skills, they also gain valuable exposure to communities beyond their village helping towards positive cultural integration.

The Environmental award will be presented to Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, for its ‘Sands ECO360°’. With the ECO360° Meetings programme, Marina Bay Sands provides like-minded clients with responsible meeting practices as part of its standard services at no additional cost. The programme offers additional options which can help clients to meet their event’s specific sustainability priorities such as increasing the options in the local food harvest menu(freshest ingredients sourced), developing the quality and quantity of the venue’s communications to event participants, producing a complimentary event impact statement and improving the energy efficiency of the MICE building.

The Heritage and Culture Award will be awarded to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), for its ‘One and Only Project in Discover Thainess Campaign’. The TAT organised ‘One and Only Project in Discover Thainess Campaign’ by inviting any foreigners who are interested in Thainess and have experienced Thailand’s traveling to participate in the Project. The participants were required to submit their video clips under the theme of ‘Discover Thainess’, filmed in any of these five topics: Muay Thai, Thai dancing, Thai cooking, Thai flower garland making and Thai language.

Three teams, with two persons in each team, were invited to Thailand to participate in activities related to these five topics. . Video clips of their activities in Thailand were uploaded daily Visitors to this website voted to determine the winner.

The Marketing Award will be presented to Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) for its ‘Hong Kong New Year Countdown Celebrations Campaign’. In order to fully utilise the power of social media the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) launched a promotion for the Hong Kong’s New Year Countdown Celebrations with an integrated campaign that allowed people around the world to broadcast their blessings to their loved ones as well as to participate at the New Year Countdown event via a live-stream broadcast.

PATA Grand Award 2016
Education and Training
A Journey of Hope and Progress - The Jetwing Youth Development Project
Jetwing Hotels, Sri Lanka

PATA Grand Award 2016
Sands ECO360°
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

PATA Grand Award 2016
Heritage and Culture
One and Only Project in Discover Thainess Campaign
Tourism Authority of Thailand

PATA Grand Award 2016
Hong Kong New Years Countdown Celebrations Campaign
Hong Kong Tourism Board

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing - Primary Government Destination
Total Solar Eclipse Indonesia
Ministry of Tourism Republic of Indonesia

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing - Secondary Government Destination
NSW South Coast Campaign
Destination NSW, Australia

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing - Carrier Brand Partnership
Fiji Airways, USA

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing - Hotel
Ways to wow
Hotel ICON, Hong Kong SAR

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing - Industry
Thailand Boutique Awards
Krungthai Card Public Company Limited, Thailand

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing - Youth Travel
Universal Studios Singapore's Halloween Horror Nights 5
Resort World Sentosa, Singapore

PATA Gold Award 2016
EXO Travel CSR Programme
EXO Travel, Thailand

PATA Gold Award 2016
Education and Training
Introducing young TEC – New Zealand training future tourism leaders
Tourism Export Council New Zealand

PATA Gold Award 2016
Environment - Corporate Environmental Programme
The TreadRight Foundation's Wild Coverage across Planet
The Travel Corporation

PATA Gold Award 2016
Environment - Ecotourism Project
Low Carbon Holiday Initiative Project
DASTA, Thailand

PATA Gold Award 2016
Environment - Educational Programme
Eco Walk the Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa
The Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa, Malaysia

PATA Gold Award 2016
Heritage and Culture - Heritage
Stone Houses, the heritage of Matsu Islands
Tourism Bureau, Chinese Taipei

PATA Gold Award 2016
Heritage and Culture - Culture
Lalare Orchestra
Ministry of Tourism Republic of Indonesia

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing Media - Consumer Travel Brochure
Perfect Moments - Luxury Travel by SOTC
SOTC Travel Services Pvt. Ltd., India

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing Media - Mobile Travel Application
Step Out, Macao Mobile App
Macao Government Tourism Office, Macao SAR

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing Media - Promotional Travel Video
Visit Nepal after the Earthquake
Adventure Travel Trade Association, USA

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing Media - Public Relations Campaign
Papua New Guinea's Past, Present, Future Photo Exhibit Event
Tourism Papua New Guinea, USA

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing Media - E-Newsletter
Kerala Tourism E-Newsletter
Kerala Tourism, India

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing Media - Travel Advertisement Broadcast Media
Visit Kerala
Kerala Tourism, India

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing Media - Travel Advertisement Print Media
2016 Calendar: K-Food
Korea Tourism Organization, Korea (ROK)

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing Media - Travel Poster
Landmark of Malaysia
Tourism Malaysia

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing Media - Web site
Mekong Digital Platform
Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), Thailand

PATA Gold Award 2016
Marketing Media - Social Media
Discover Hong Kong Facebook Fan Page
Hong Kong Tourism Board

PATA Gold Award 2016
Travel Journalism - Destination Article
Da Nang Breathing Fire by Roderick Eime
Vacation & Travel, October/November 2015, Australia

PATA Gold Award 2016
Travel Journalism - Industry Business Article
The New Glamorous, TTG Asia Luxury December 2015
by Mimi Hudoyo and Raini Hamdi
TTG Asia Media PTE LTD, Singapore

PATA Gold Award 2016
Travel Journalism - Travel Guide Book
Thailand from the Air
Tourism Authority of Thailand

PATA Gold Award 2016
Travel Journalism - Travel Photograph
Journey of the Wanderer by Handi Lakonso
Colours, Inflight magazine of Garuda Indonesia, April 2015
Agency Fish, Indonesia

Honourable Mention
PATA Gold Award 2016 - Marketing
The RoadTrip: Asia 2015
Contiki Holidays, United Kingdom

About PATA

Founded in 1951, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a not-for profit association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region. The Association provides aligned advocacy, insightful research and innovative events to its member organisations, comprising 95 government, state and city tourism bodies, 29 international airlines, airports and cruise lines, 63 educational institutions, and hundreds of travel industry companies in Asia Pacific and beyond. Thousands of travel professionals belong to the 43 local PATA chapters worldwide. The chapters organise travel industry training and business development events. Their grassroots activism underpins PATA’s membership of the Global Travel Association Coalition (GTAC), which includes ACI, CLIA, IATA, ICAO, WEF, UNWTO and the WTTC. The PATAmPOWER platform delivers unrivalled data, forecasts and insights from the PATA Strategic Intelligence Centre to members' desktops and mobile devices anywhere in the world. PATA's Head Office has been in Bangkok since 1998. The Association also has official offices or representation in Beijing, Sydney and London.

Switzerland Tourism: See Basel from a Rhine Swim

Switzerland Tourism suggests travellers visiting Basel this summer to join in the fun at the annual Basel Rhine Swim taking place on 16 August.

Hosted by the Swiss Lifesaving Society SLRG Basel, the event not only promotes the sport, but importantly, appreciating the city's natural assets and a healthy lifestyle.

Director of Switzerland Tourism AU & NZ, Mark Wettstein, says swimming in the Rhine during the warm summer months is very much a popular local activity which more visitors should participate in as it helps them meet locals and experience the local lifestyle.

"There is no better way to experience a city like a local than to jump in and do what they do," says Mark. "Swimming in the Rhine to relax and cool off on a warm day is what many locals enjoy doing whether it's during the day, after work or on weekends. It's social and as a visitor, it also gives one a slightly different perspective of the city and of city life in Switzerland.

"The fact is we are never far from the mountains or water in Switzerland, and every opportunity we have, be it in the city or countryside, we will try to connect with our surrounds as much as possible through activities and events," he adds. "And we strongly encourage our visitors to do the same as that makes up a large part of their authentic Swiss experience.

Basel is a 53min train ride from Zurich and 1hr from Luzern. The Basel Rhine Swim event is scheduled to start at 18:00hr on Tuesday 16 August at Schaffhauserrheinweg 93 by the Münsterfähre ferry on the bank of the Rhine in Kleinbasel. It will end at Leuengasse / Johanniterbrücke.

Accompanied by water vessels and lifeguards, swimmers at the event can drift down the Rhine for about 15 minutes over a distance of approximately 1.8 km. During the event, the Rhine will be closed to boats and ships.

As a safety precaution, visitors should speak to locals on the common rules of swimming in the Rhine as the waterway is shared with river cruise ships and boats. More information can also be obtained from the local tourist office or on and

Monday, July 25, 2016

EagleRider Australia opens in Melbourne

The Australian arm of EagleRider is proud to announce the opening of a new location that has truly been a long time coming. Having already serviced the cities of Cairns, Sydney, and Brisbane, it's only natural that the great city of Melbourne is the next to receive full access to all that the world of motorcycling has to offer.

Centrally located on the doorstep to Yarra Valley, EagleRider Melbourne allows quick access to iconic motorcycling hits like the Black Spur Road, the Great Ocean Road, the Victorian Alps, North East Victoria, Phillip Island, and the mighty Australian outback.

Chris McIntyre, Founder and CEO of EagleRider, comments on the new location: "Managed by Stephen Camm—an avid rider himself—EagleRider Melbourne enables the adventures and dreams of thousands of new Australians and we are proud to make that happen for the country and the people that have been so good to us."

Wine country, gold fields, riverside locations and panoramic ocean views... See it all there at EagleRider Melbourne!

Friday, July 22, 2016

NSW’s top accommodation and business events hotels honoured at industry’s night of nights

NSW's top accommodation hotels were honoured last night at a glittering ceremony in the new Grand Ballroom of the Four Points by Sheraton Sydney which saw the Park Hyatt Sydney and Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley recognised as the deluxe hotels of the year (Sydney and Regional).

A crowd of more than 600 industry representatives gathered at the Four Points by Sheraton for the industry's "night of nights": the 2016 Tourism Accommodation Australia (NSW) Awards for Excellence.

The TAA Awards marked the first tourism industry event attended by Keith Pitt MP in his newly appointed role as Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment in the Federal Government.

A record 300 plus nominations were received this year from 71 hotels across 34 categories showcasing the best in the accommodation sector.

The Park Hyatt Sydney won Sydney Deluxe Hotel of the Year whilst Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley took out the Regional Deluxe Hotel of the Year title.

PARKROYAL Darling Harbour is Sydney Superior Hotel of the Year, while Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains won Regional Superior Hotel of the Year.

The award for Mid-range Hotel of the Year went to Atura Blacktown which also won Brasserie/Café of the Year for its Roadhouse Bar and Grill.

The State's leading business events hotels were also recognised, with the award for Function Venue of the Year going to InterContinental Sydney Double Bay; Conference Hotel of the Year Metropolitan Hotels went to Sheraton on the Park; and Château Élan at The Vintage Hunter Valley was named Conference Hotel of the Year Regional Hotels.

The award for Redeveloped Hotel of the Year went to The Old Clare Hotel while Apartment/Suite Hotel of the Year was won by Fraser Suites Sydney.

The Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley were the most successful regional areas, with The Hydro Majestic Hotel taking the award for Hotel Chef of the Year (Mate Herceg) and Lilianfels' Darley's Restaurant named Regional Restaurant of the Year. Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley took out two awards for individual excellence.

Staff from the Hilton Sydney had a good night with Morgan Meredith grabbing the gong for Hotel Industry Rising Star and Hayden Gibson winning the award for Employee Excellence in Service.

Last night's entries into the TAA NSW Hall of Fame, recognising 3 consecutive years of excellence in the category, were The Sydney Boulevard Hotel for Outstanding Community Service and Achievement and the InterContinental Sydney for Workplace Health and Safety Hotel of the Year.

Chair of TAA NSW Peter Tudehope said the excellent quality of all nominees and winners showed the very high standards of the tourism accommodation industry in NSW.

"NSW truly is setting a high benchmark for the rest of Australia, and indeed internationally, when it comes to accommodation hotels," he said.

"The quality of our venues really is on display here tonight . Our award winners represent the huge investment, hard work, dedication and drive of our industry right across NSW; from the regions to the heart of the Sydney CBD. I congratulate all winners."

2016 TAA (NSW) Award for Excellence winners also include:

·        Health Club and Spa Facilities of the Year: Emirates One&Only Spa, Wolgan Valley (Regional winner) and The Darling Spa, The Star (Metropolitan winner)

·        Metropolitan Restaurant of the Year (Deluxe): Bentley Restaurant + Bar, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney and Momofuku Seiobo, The Star (joint winners)

·        Metropolitan Restaurant of the Year (Mid-Range/Superior hotels): Steeds Club Grill & Bar, Rydges Parramatta

·        Workplace Health and Safety Hotel of the Year: Crowne Plaza, Terrigal

·        Outstanding Achievement in Training: Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney

·        Outstanding Community Service and Achievement: The Westin Sydney

·        Best Environmental Practices (Metropolitan): InterContinental Sydney

·        Best Environmental Practices (Regional): Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Solomon Airlines Terminates CEO – Gus Kraus to step into temporary CEO role

Honiara, Solomon Islands – The Chairman of the Board of Solomon Airlines Limited, Austin Holmes has today announced the termination of Solomon Airlines CEO, Ron Sumsum (pic above) with immediate effect.

Announcing the news to the executive management team at the airline's Henderson Airport head offices, Mr Holmes advised the board of directors has appointed General Manager Operations and Commercial, Gus Kraus to the acting CEO role in the interim period it will take to seek and appoint a new full time CEO.

Mr Holmes advised this process will require approval by the Solomon Islands Civil Aviation, Authority (CAASI) following a thorough review of nominated persons to the "substantive position involved."

"The implications will have far reaching effects," Mr Holmes said.

"And this is being worked through by the airline's executive team with notifications and change processes already underway to ensure the airline complies with all relevant regulations and authorities within the country and with countries that we have approvals to operate to."

Ratifying the temporary appointment to the CEO role, CAASI Director, George Satu stated that Mr Kraus had for several years held approval as stand-in for the CEO role as the occasion required.

"Gus is a very fit and proper person to step into the CEO role," Mr Satu said.

"I believe his 48 years of airline service and experience will see Solomon Airlines successfully  through its next phase of transition as we await the appointment of a new CEO."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New hotel complex announced for Brisbane

Brisbane is about to gain its most sophisticated new hotel and lifestyle address, THE CALILE, in Fortitude Valley’s chic dining and boutique destination, James St.

Sydney-based TFE Hotels will operate THE CALILE, which is being developed by Calile Malouf Investments (CMI) and due to open in 2018. CMI also delivered the highly acclaimed James St Market.

THE CALILE will become the second hotel under the TFE Hotels Collection brand and will encompass the brand’s ethos of beautiful design, bespoke service and attention to the individual.

Designed by Richards & Spence Architects, the seven-storey hotel will be located on bustling James Street – bounded by James, Doggett and Wandoo Streets – and will comprise 178 generously sized luxury hotel rooms and suites with over 2600 square meters of new retail and hospitality space.

Subtropical in style, THE CALILE promises a resort feel in a city-fringe location, making it a true urban oasis. It seeks to embrace Brisbane’s sunshine, blue skies and love of outdoor living to create a hotel that will set a new standard in design and service for travellers and locals alike

There will be a mix of ground floor boutiques, restaurants and cafés linking to a podium level designed as a raised urban landscape – complete with pool, cabanas, a poolside restaurant, day spa, fitness centre and business centre. The podium level will also house a function room with capacity to host banquets for up to 300 seated guests. Basement parking will be provided for 220 vehicles

James St in Fortitude Valley, just 2.5 km from the Brisbane CBD and 14 km from Brisbane airport, has rapidly become Brisbane’s foremost retail and lifestyle precinct. Having emerged organically from its inner-city industrial roots, the street and surrounding area has evolved into a high energy urban hub.

James Street has a mix of 130 specialty shops, art galleries and day spas, award-winning restaurants Cru Bar & Cellar and James St Market and Palace Centro Cinemas.

TFE Hotels CEO Rachel Argaman said THE CALILE would be much more than a hotel – it would be a new icon for Brisbane and a destination for the city’s stylish set and visitors to the city.

“We are really excited to be partnering with CMI, who have been instrumental in transforming James Street into the most sought-after destination in one of Australia’s fastest growing cities,” she said.

“This will be a sophisticated and fun resort experience in an urban location - where people will meet for drinks with friends, to shop or for a fun night out, taking advantage of that glorious sub-tropical outdoor lifestyle that Brisbane has to offer.”

Monday, July 18, 2016

Swiss-Belhotel International Appoints Dinah-Louise Marrs As Launch General Manager of Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA : Leading global hospitality management company, Swiss-Belhotel International, has named industry veteran Dinah-Louise Marrs as General Manager for the launch of Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane.
Dinah-Louise Marrs, General Manager for the
launch of Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane.

Mrs. Marrs brings a wealth of experience to the role having worked in key positions in the hospitality industry in Australia and Thailand over a distinguished 20-year career.

Mr. Gavin M. Faull, Swiss-Belhotel International Chairman and President, said Mrs. Marr and her team would ensure all pre-opening preparations were in place while achieving high operational and branding standards and the financial goals set by Swiss-Belhotel International.

"Dinah-Louise is the ideal person to steer the 4.5-star Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane when the leisure and business hotel opens on 15 October 2016 at this beautiful city's vibrant South Bank precinct overlooking the Brisbane River," Mr. Faull said. "This is a project hotel - our first in Brisbane - and we are very excited about expanding our footprint in Australia and imparting our unique brand of passion and professionalism in another key destination."

Prior to joining Swiss-Belhotel, Mrs. Marrs was General Manager of The Point Brisbane Hotel for a decade. She also spent three years at Six Senses Hotels and Resorts in Thailand, first as a Reservations and Guest Relations Manager and then as a Strategic Planner and Operations Analyst.

Mrs. Marrs graduated from the prestigious US-based Cornell University School of Hotel Administration's General Managers program in January 2016. She is an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

"It's a huge honour to be entrusted with the role of launch General Manager for this property and to begin my relationship this way with such an esteemed group as Swiss-Belhotel International," Mrs. Marrs said. "South Bank is Brisbane's premier lifestyle and cultural destination, with South Bank Parklands boasting 17 hectares of key attractions such as world-class restaurants and cafés, parks, markets, the Wheel of Brisbane - a 60-metre ferries wheel - and a massive man-made beach. We couldn't be situated in a better location."

Swiss-BelHotel Brisbane offers 134 guest rooms and suites and a range of international-standard amenities including a pool, fitness center and conference facilities.
Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane is also located close to international sporting facilities, private hospitals, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Queensland Maritime Museum, Griffith University and many more popular attractions and facilities.

The hotel offers 134 guest rooms and suites and other international-standard amenities include a pool, fitness center and conference facilities. Café 63, a very successful café and restaurant group in Brisbane, is subleasing a space at the hotel and will also provide room service as well as other F&B services.

The spacious, beautifully designed rooms and suites span levels one to seven. The room categories are Superior Rooms, Deluxe Studios, Executive Studios and Swiss-SuperSuites. There is also a residential component called Peak Apartments, located above the hotel comprising 46 spacious apartments and penthouses. Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane will also manage and service the apartments and their residents.

"With the highest quality finishes throughout, the rooms flow effortlessly to make the most of the elevated position overlooking the picturesque Brisbane River," Mr. Faull said.

“Unlock The Sea” - Underwater Discoveries Unveiled at Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove, Seychelles

This interactive program helps guests discover a treasure trove of marine life around the island

Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove, Seychelles (, launched “Unlock the Sea”, a unique programme to help the creative and curious minded traveler experience and explore the island and ignite their inspiration with an incredible underwater encounter. Created in partnership with The Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, this interactive program helps guests discover a treasure trove of marine life around the island through a curated snorkeling experience and learn and educate themselves on the importance of marine conservation. Guests can also witness an underwater art gallery or post a postcard to friends or family from under water!

“Today’s travelers are looking for active adventure and new ways of experiencing a destination. Seychelles, with its pristine white sands lapped by topaz waters, coral sunsets and enchanting underwater sites provides all this and more,” said Romain Chanet, General Manager Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove, Seychelles. “Drawing inspiration from the brand’s commitment to help travelers unlock destinations through the Filters of Discovery - Coordinates, Culture and Cuisine, we hope this initiative will help us create an enriching guest experience.”

Marine experts from The Marine Conservation Society will guide the guest journey through five underwater zones. This includes the Welcome zone which is the sea grass bed, the Coral Village which houses the dramatic and beautiful coral reefs, Blue or the open waters, the Reef Town where the reef elevates from the sandy bottom towards the rocks and the Fish Ville, the untouched and preserved area. Through these zones not only can guests see a variety of fish but also gain insights into the ecosystem and how we can preserve it.

What is more while unravelling the mysteries of the underwater world, guests can get a glimpse of an underwater art gallery curated as part of the Arterial Network’s Giant Tortoise Art Project, inspired by a number of celebrated street art projects in major cities across the world. Painted by celebrated artists from Seychelles, the Giant Tortoise Art Project is a showcase of the local art scene on the Island and underpins the fragility of the eco system in the face of global warming and rising sea levels and also reinstates the reputation of Seychelles as a champion of the natural environment.

Proceeds from the donations collected through the programme will go to sustain the marine conservation projects led by The Marine Conservation Society Seychelles.

To find out more log on to

AFTA 2016 NTIA Awards - Winners announced

Best Cruise operator (International Deployment) – Royal Caribbean (supplied)
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) delivered the biggest award celebration the industry has witnessed.

Celebrated on Saturday 16 July at The Pavilion Darling Harbour, the Gala Dinner recognised 38 travel industry individual and businesses who have been awarded for their excellence and contribution to the travel industry.

2016 NTIA Awards AFTA National Travel Industry Awards.

1. Young Travel Agent of the Year – Brendan Ma, Carlson Wagonlit

2. Best Travel Consultant Retail – Deryk Neighbour, Flight Centre MET Centre

3. Best Travel Consultant Corporate – Sam La Rosa, Show Group Enterprises NSW

4. Best Travel Agency Manager Retail Single Location – Kobi Henderson, Flight Centre Sydney Airport

5. Best Travel Agency Manager, Corporate Single Location – Cherie Drummond, CTM (Corporate Travel Management)

6. Best Travel Agency Manager Retail, Multi Location – Louise Dann, helloworld Hunter Travel Group, Newcastle

7. Best Travel Agency Manager Corporate Multi Location – Andre Moten, CTM (Corporate Travel Management)

8. Best Travel Agency Retail, Single Location – Bicton Travel

9. Best Travel Agency Retail Multi Location – Helloworld Hunter Travel Group/RACT Travel, Newcastle

10. Best Travel Agency Corporate Single Location – Spencer Travel, Sydney

11. Best Travel Agency Corporate Multi Location – Stage and Screen Travel Services

12. Best Business Events Travel Agency – Event Travel Management

13. Best National Travel Management Company – (CTM) Corporate Travel Management

14. Best Travel Agent Technology Innovation – Qantas (Agent Site)

15. Best Travel Writer – Allan Leibowitz

16. Best Registered Travel Industry Training Institution – TAFE Sydney Travel and Tourism

17. Best Hotel/Resort Group – Outrigger Resorts

18. Young Sales Executive Industry supplier – Sarah Hoskin, Topdeck

19. Best Sales Executive Industry Supplier – Elizabeth Hutchinson, Air New Zealand

20. Best Agency Support Service – Covermore ‪Travel Insurance

21. Best Tourist Office International – Tourism Fiji

22. Best International Airline Offline – ‪Finnair

23. Best International Airline Online – ‪Emirates

24. Best Domestic Airline – ‪Virgin Australia

25. Best Car/Campervan Rental Operator award – Hertz

26. Best Online Travel Agency (OTA) – ‪Cruise Guru Australia

27. Best Specialty Wholesaler – Africa Safari Company

28. Best Tour Operator (Domestic) – APT Touring

29. Best Wholesaler (Australian Product) – Sunlover Holidays

30. Best Tour Operator (International) – Trafalgar

31. Best Wholesaler (International Product) – Excite Holidays

32. Best Cruise Operator (Domestic Deployment) – Royal Caribbean

33. Best River Cruise Operator – APT Touring

34. Best Cruise operator (International Deployment) – Royal Caribbean

35. Emirates Travel Consultant Scholarship – George Hedley, Events Worldwide Travel

36. International Traveller People’s Choice: Retail Travel Agency of the Year – Queanbeyan City Travel & Cruise

37. Best Non-Branded Travel Agency Group – helloworld for Business

38. Best Branded Travel Agency Group – helloworld

The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley unveils multi-million dollar transformation

Under the command of internationally renowned award-winning interior designer, Greg Natale, the historic The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley has received a multi-million dollar refurbishment which has transformed the resort from quaint country manor to 21st Century sophisticated chic, setting a new benchmark for hospitality in the Hunter Valley region.

All 70 guestrooms and interior public spaces have been rejuvenated by Greg Natale and his team, combining classic country heritage character with contemporary elegance. Upon arrival, guests are welcomed into an intimate arrivals precinct, complete with Natale's Hudson lounge chairs and tables, and Ralph Lauren lamps. The reception and atrium are coated in Natale's Atlantic Blue wallpaper from Porter's Paints. Continuing up the grand hall, the glass-domed ceiling has now become a classic congregational atrium area with a custom-built circular bench seat – a feature that adds to the drama and sense of arrival.

Interior designer, Greg Natale, said, "There is nothing better than arriving to a luxurious hotel room or suite that gives that sense of being transported into your own little oasis. With The Sebel Kirkton Park's design, we were really careful to make sure the rooms were not 'cookie-cutter rooms' – we really wanted to create that sense of occasion by heightening the guests overall experience.

"The overall design is a carefully planned combination of patterns with whites and blues that link back to the common areas of the hotel. The black carpets and rich blue drapes offset the pops of gold the floor lamps and wallpaper. It's very layered and it's very decadent. It transports you to somewhere very much unlike your own bedroom and that's part of the fun of a hotel stay."

In addition to the guestroom makeover, The Sebel Kirkton Park has also updated its lobby, lounge bar and restaurant.


With uninterrupted views across the manicured gardens of The Sebel Kirkton Park or the Brokenback Ranges, all 70 guestrooms are layered in rich fabrics, bold colours and drenched in natural light. Striking modern furnishings from Natale's Hudson furniture collection and Axminster wool carpets have created a bespoke sense of homeliness and character true to the region.

Epoche Lounge Bar

The sunken central lounge area radiates from the fireplace creating a split-level space with intimate seating pods. Dark, Greg Natale designed carpets add to a sense of luxury in the lounge. Timber, luxurious upholstery, metals and stone all come together to create a decadent space for guests to unwind, socialise and enjoy the local produce on offer at Epoche Lounge Bar.

Epoche Lounge Bar also features an outdoor pizza oven and deck area overlooking Wyndham Estate.

Locavore Dining

With interiors inspired by the hotel's blue and white china sets, Locavore Dining is The Sebel Kirkton Park's new fine dining restaurant. Floor to ceiling windows have been treated with white timber shutters and a dark timber floor features a chic herringbone pattern - a hero of the space.

The refurbishment of the restaurant called for a new, elevated dining experience in line with The Sebel Kirkton Park's new food philosophy. Sustainable farming methods are used to support the restaurant and bar, with 30% of the menu sourced from the hotels 70 acre grounds, and 50%

from local partners/farmers. The wine list has been expertly crafted by 2016 Hunter Valley Winemaker of the Year Liz Silkman, chief winemaker from First Creek Wines.

Belinda Paterson general manager The Sebel Kirkton Park, said "It is exciting to see The Sebel Kirkton Park embark on a new chapter with such an impressive transformation, setting a new benchmark for hospitality in the Hunter Valley region. We congratulate the owners for their investment into updating this historic hotel and to Greg Natale and his team for creating beautiful spaces for our guests to enjoy for years to come."

About The Sebel Kirkton Park Hunter Valley

Set on a 70 acre estate, The Sebel Kirkton Park is one of the Hunter Valley region's most historic hotels, offering sensational vistas of the Brokenback Ranges and picture perfect manicured gardens, making it one of the Hunter Region's most popular resorts.

Kirkton Park is named after the first vines established in the area in the mid 1800's by James Busby. The undulating retreat boasts tennis courts, a billiards room, an onsite Grecian-style pool house with indoor heated pool, sauna and spa, and a gymnasium.

Room rates at The Sebel Kirkton Park start from $179 per room per night. To book, visit


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mantra Group Launches World's First #PokemonGo Friendly Hotels


Today Mantra Group launched the world's first Pokemon Go-friendly hotels in Sydney and Melbourne, encouraging fans to 'Pokestop By Our Bar' with free Pokemon Go Lures to increase their chances of catching one of the virtual pocket monsters.

Gamers can Pokestop by Mantra 2 Bond Street in Sydney from 3pm every Friday during July to receive a free bowl of fries with any drink purchase.

Melburnian Pokemon Go catchers can also cash in on happy hour drinks at Mantra on Little Bourke, Melbourne from 3pm every Friday during July.

Since Pokemon Go - a game based on augmented reality where players use their smartphone camera to walk around the street finding and catching Pokemon - launched just one week ago, it already has more daily active users than Twitter and, according to Similarweb, one in five Australian Android users have the game installed on their device.

Mantra Group Executive Director Marketing and Digital Matt Granfield said the free Pokemon Go Lures will encourage the spawning of valuable in-game creatures at two of the Group's tech savvy city properties.

“Our mantra is 'knowing what matters' to people, and it's pretty clear from the popularity of the game that playing Pokemon Go matters to millions of people all over the globe,” Matt said.

“We're always keen to find new and innovative ways of making our hotels great places to stay, so helping our guests catch a few extra Pokemon during their stay was a no-brainer.”

Pokemon have also invaded the property pages of Mantra 2 Bond Street, Sydney (click here to view) and Mantra on Little Bourke, Melbourne (click here to view).


Traveloscopy | 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Papua New Guinea introduces new tourist visa for Australians

Australian passport holders can now secure a 30 day, free tourist visa on arrival in Papua New Guinea.

The change in visa requirements was delivered this week by the National Executive Council and is the first time this option has been available to Australian visitors.  

Chief Executive Office of Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA), Jerry Agus, said he is delighted at the news and sees this decision as an important step forward for the PNG tourism industry.

"We whole-heartedly welcome this news and believe that by simplifying the process and allowing visas to be granted upon arrival at no cost, will entice more Australians to visit one of their closest neighbours," Mr Agus said.

"Over the last few years we've seen such fantastic growth in cruising and now with an easier visa process we hope to see increased numbers for those arriving by plane too.

"We now want to work with all the partners to ensure a streamlined process through the airport immigration system.

"It's an exciting time for PNG with the tourism bodies and partners strongly focusing on developing tourism infrastructure in areas including Milne Bay and Rabaul/Kokopo, whilst it's early days we are very motivated to grow this industry and welcome more tourists."

PNG, which is only around three hours' flight from Brisbane, comprises more than 600 islands with popular activities for tourists including fishing, diving, trekking, surfing and cruising.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Baby Pandas born in Macao


Macao's adorable local Xin Xin made history when she became the first giant panda to give birth in the city's Panda Pavilion.


The nine-year-old panda became the proud mother of twins, bonding well with her cubs which were born an hour apart.


She and the larger cub, which weighed in at 138 grams, were in good health, but the smaller cub was under weight at 53 grams and was whisked off to intensive care.


Both Xin Xin and male partner Kai Kai, were gifts of the People's Republic of China in recognition of the handover of Macao to the Central Government.


The pair was born at the Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre in Chengdu. The Macau Panda Pavilion opened in 2010 as an extension to the breeding program for the endangered black and white mammals.


The pair mated naturally. However, Xin Xin was also artificially inseminated with sperm from Kai Kai.


The gender of the twins is not yet known, and it will be about a month before the pair takes on the familiar black and white fur. 


Due the historic event, the domed air-conditioned pavilion, on Macao's Coloane Island, will not re-open until Tuesday, July 12.


The names Xin Xin and Kai Kai were chosen by Macao residents and represent happiness and the good wishes of the locals.


All those wishes were greeted with excitement by both the breeding staff and panda adoring Macao locals.


Details: Macao Government Tourism Office, phone (02) 9264 1488,


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

AccorHotels adds global luxury brands with landmark acquisition of Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel.


Following the approval of shareholders at the General Shareholders Meeting on July 12, 2016, AccorHotels Group officially announces the acquisition of FRHI Hotels & Resorts (FRHI) and its three prestigious luxury hotel brands: Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel. This addition of three remarkable brands instantly positions AccorHotels as a leading player in the global luxury hotel market, increases long term growth potential and profitability, and significantly expands the company's footprint in North America, the world's largest and most influential consumer market.

"Today is a great day for our Group. The acquisition of these three emblematic luxury hotel brands is a historical milestone for AccorHotels. It will open up amazing growth prospects, lift our international presence to unprecedented heights, and build value over the long term," says Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AccorHotels.

Joining AccorHotels' global network is a portfolio of globally admired brands, which includes management of many of the world's most iconic and historic hotels located in key strategic cities around the world, including: The Savoy in London, Raffles Singapore, Fairmont San Francisco, New York's The Plaza, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City, and Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris.

Combining FRHI's proven track record and deep expertise in operating and marketing luxury hotels, with AccorHotels robust global operating platform, extensive loyalty base and industry leading digital capabilities, means the Group is uniquely positioned to deliver the most profitable returns and best growth potential across all market segments.

"We remain committed to providing guests with unparalleled service, while also keeping the ambition to deliver exceptional return on investment for our shareholders and hotel owners," added Bazin. "By leveraging the operational synergies between FRHI and AccorHotels, we are well-positioned to accelerate the growth of our luxury brands and offer guests even more exciting hotel choices and destinations to explore."

Chris Cahill appointed as the Group's CEO Luxury Brands

In support of the acquisition, and as part of AccorHotels' larger strategy to strengthen its luxury and upscale business, the company has appointed Chris Cahill as the Group's Chief Executive Officer, Luxury Brands. In this newly created role, Chris, who will also become a member of AccorHotels' Executive Committee, will lead the FRHI integration process and be responsible for the strategy and global operations of AccorHotels Luxury Brands. This new structure will include Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel Legend, So Sofitel, Sofitel, MGallery by Sofitel, Pullman and Swissôtel.

Chris is an experienced hotelier who has led several successful integrations, is familiar with multi-brand management and brings an extensive background in luxury operations, sales and marketing. With more than 30 years of hospitality industry experience, including 19 years working with FRHI and its predecessor companies, Chris is ideally positioned to lead the integration of the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands into the AccorHotels portfolio, and will ensure AccorHotels' luxury brands grow and prosper. He most recently served as Executive Vice President Global Operations at Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Closing Details

Following the approval of shareholders at the General Shareholders Meeting on July 12, 2016, the transaction with Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) of Saudi Arabia provided $840 million (€768 million) cash payment and the issuance of 46.7 million AccorHotels shares in consideration for the contributed FRHI shares. The transaction gives QIA and KHC respective stakes of 10.4% and 5.8% in Accor's share capital. Ali Bouzarif and Aziz Aluthman Fakhroo from QIA and Sarmad Zok from KHC will now join AccorHotels' Board of Directors.

AccorHotels plans to generate approximately €65 million in revenue and cost synergies thanks to the combination of brands, the maximization of hotel earnings, the increased efficiency of marketing, sales and distribution channel initiatives, and the optimization of support costs. Significant enhancements will also be made in terms of customer data, thanks to the integration of FRHI's customer base that includes three million loyalty members, of which 75 percent are in North America.

The vast majority of Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel's 154 hotels and resorts (of which 40 are under development) and 56,000 rooms spanning 34 countries and five continents are operated under long-term management contracts, with an average term of nearly 30 years; six hotels are leased and one hotel is owned. The Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands employ more than 45,000 colleagues worldwide. |


Monday, July 11, 2016

SeaLink's New 5-night Escorted Kangaroo Island Tour

Due to overwhelming demand from passengers, SeaLink have a launched a new fully escorted tour, the 6 day/5-night Ultimate Kangaroo Island tour, departing 24 February 2017.

The tour will be escorted by well-known South Australian Tour Escort, Shirley Tamm, who has over 35 years' experience in the travel industry and will explore Kangaroo Island's fascinating wildlife, spectacular coastal scenery, stunning landscapes, pristine beaches and unique local wines and produce.

"I'm so excited to be offering this new Kangaroo Island tour. The 4-night Kangaroo Island tour has been so popular for the past 2 years, but feedback from passengers was that they wanted even longer on Kangaroo Island so I've put together a fantastic 6 days/5-night option.

This new tour is a combination of everyone's favourite places like Seal Bay and Flinders Chase National Park, the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch plus exciting new places like Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, Stokes Bay and Rob's Shearing and Sheep Dogs to name just a few."  Shirley Tamm explains.

"I really believe this tour shows off just how beautiful the island is, the breathtaking sights and wildlife and how much the island has to offer." Continues Shirley.

Like all of Shirley's escorted tours, she will host the group across the entire six days.

"I pride myself on really looking after my guests. I'm with them all day every day and ensure they have a wonderful time." Ms Tamm continues.

Day one on the six-night Kangaroo Island Experience includes a drive to Frenchman's Rock; visit to the historic Maritime and Folk Museum and the Kangaroo Island Visitor's Centre; lunch overlooking the ocean at Zest and Thyme Café at Cape Willoughby. This is followed by a tour of SA's first lighthouse – Cape Willoughby including the weather station before heading to Dudley's Clifftop Cellar Door for tastings of their award winning wines.

Guests will then settle into their accommodation at Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn, home for the next five nights.

Day two features a tour of the township of Kingscote before visiting the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, home to over 150 species of Native Australian wildlife and over 600 animals! After lunch at the Parndana Hotel discover the charming but secret swimming beach and surrounding beauty of Stokes Bay. Then it's on to the picturesque surroundings of the Bay of Shoals Winery for some wine tasting and admiring the distant vistas of the North Cape.

On Day three visit Island Beehive shop which has a wide variety of locally made produce including organic honey. Then enjoy the spectacular and interactive Raptor Domain, Birds of Prey show before a BBQ lunch at Seal Bay Café. After lunch visit famous Seal Bay Conservation Park and join a guided walk through a colony of wild Australian Sea-lions.  Then travel back to Kingscote and enjoy the spectacular views of the Southern Ocean at Point Ellen and Vivonne Bay (named Australia's best beach).

On Day 4 experience the natural rugged beauty of Flinders Chase National Park where guests will witness nature's breath-taking creations - Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch, before falling in love with the Long-Nosed Fur Seal colony. Enjoy a gourmet lunch at the Andermel Marron Farm and then spend the afternoon touring the marron farm and sampling their Two Wheeler Creek Wines and bush tucker.

Day 5 visits Emu Bay and the Old Wisanger School, officially opened in 1885, before heading to Clifford's Honey Farm - home to the rare Ligurian honey bees and their famous honey ice-cream. Then visit Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Distillery for a BBQ lunch and tour of the distillery where they manufacture 100% pure Australian Eucalyptus Oil. Enjoy a brief photo stop at Duck Lagoon before arriving at South Australia's first sheep dairy and cheese factory, Island Pure Sheep Dairy, for a sheep milking demonstration and tastings. Complete the day with some spirit tastings at KI Spirits who have just won the prestigious title of Best Gin in Australia.

On day 6 depart Kingscote with a scenic drive to Penneshaw via American River and Pennington Bay. View prominent local art works and crafts at KI Artworks Gallery before enjoying lunch overlooking the Gulf at Ultima Thule Café. Then witness a truly authentic Australian experience at Rob's Shearing and Sheepdogs before returning to the mainland on the SeaLink ferry to Cape Jervis for a picturesque drive back to Adelaide.

The six-day Ultimate Kangaroo Island Escorted Tour is priced from $1799 per person twin share and departs from Adelaide Central Bus Station on 24 February, 2017.

The tour includes complimentary hotel pick up & drop off at selected Adelaide Hotels, return coach and ferry travel from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island, luxury air-conditioned coach travel around Kangaroo Island, five night's accommodation at Kangaroo Island Seaside Inn, daily continental breakfasts, six lunches and five dinners, all tour entry fees, guided tours and tastings and tour fully escorted by Shirley Tamm from Adelaide.

For further information and bookings visit: call SeaLink's Group Tour Consultant on 08 8202 8608 or email

Canada: 8th most peaceful country in the world


Canada ranks in top 10 most peaceful countries in the world #ExploreCanada

Dog sledding in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

The tenth edition of the Global Peace Index released this month by international think-tank Institute for Economics & Peace ranks Canada 8th most peaceful country in the world, ahead of Australia and Japan.

As the gap between the most and least peaceful countries continues to widen, due to increased terrorism and political instability, Australian travellers are seeking destinations like Canada that offer incredible experiences without the threat of violence or unrest.

click for free travel brochures

"In 2015, more than 279,000 Australians travelled to Canada, and this figure is set to rise again in 2016," said Donna Campbell, Managing Director Destination Canada, GSA Australia.

"We know that Australian travellers want to get off the beaten track, explore amazing wilderness, witness incredible wildlife, and immerse themselves in local culture, but they want to do it in a safe environment."

Kayak in Newfoundland and Labrador

Predictably, the Global Peace Index ranks Canada much higher for safety than the USA (ranked 103), and also places it ahead of Singapore, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the UK.

"With the increasing number of terrorist attacks in Europe, mass shootings in the US, as well as political unrest in Asia and the Middle East, Canada is becoming the ideal destination for outdoor and urban adventures in a safe, non-violent environment," said Donna.

"One thing is certain: Australians won't stop seeking new experiences in far-flung destinations, and every year more and more Aussies are travelling to Canada for some of the world's best road trips, events, urban adventures, wildlife, and winter sports, in destinations that are exhilarating, yet free from terrorism and conflict."

Getting there: Air Canada flies daily from Sydney and Brisbane to Vancouver, connecting through to the eastern provinces. For great Canada travel deals and packages click HERE


The Global Peace Index is the world's leading measure of global peacefulness produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). It gauges ongoing international and domestic conflict, safety and security in society, and the degree of militarization in 163 countries and territories by taking into account 23 indicators.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

ASTW Awards of Excellence Finalists Announced

The Australian Society of Travel Writers is delighted to announce the finalists for the 2016 Awards of Excellence.

The team of judges, gathered from around the world, have praised the quality of the entries with several saying they were inspired to travel to a range of destinations after reading them.

Thank you to everyone for entering and congratulations to all the finalists.


Travel Writer of the Year - Sponsored by South Africa Tourism

Kerry van der Jagt
Where to Sing and Swim with Wild Dolphins – Traveller - Fairfax Media
Grin and Bear It - Traveller - Fairfax Media
Myanmar: Floating on a wave of hope for a new beginning - Traveller - Fairfax Media

Craig Tansley
Coming Up Trumps - Traveller - Fairfax Media
The Last Great Ski Town - Traveller - Fairfax Media
Maldives Luxury Adventure on a Budget - Traveller - Fairfax Media

John Borthwick
Where the Cold War Thawed – The Weekend Australian
Burmese Daze - Traveller - Fairfax Media
In the Wake of Cape Crusaders - Traveller - Fairfax Media

Best Travel Broadcaster – Sponsored by Tourism and Events Queensland

  • Ben Groundwater – Beauty and the Backpacker travel web series – Traveller – Fairfax Media
  • Quentin Long – Mornings/Today Extra - Channel 9
  • Greg Grainger – Greg Grainger TV

Photographer of the Year – Sponsored by Tourism Authority of Thailand

  • Dan Avila - Alone in the Universe/Love on the Bosphorus/Heaven
  • Jocelyn Pride - Three Pillars of Travel: Protect/Respect/Reflect
  • Mark Daffey - Antiquity/Harmony/Destiny

Best Story about the AGM Host Destination - Sponsored by Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia

  • Justine Costigan - Written in the Stars – Jetstar magazine
  • Marie Barbieri - The Red Beating Heart – Australia & New Zealand magazine
  • Angela Saurine - The Heart of the Rock – Best Weekend – News Ltd

Best Family Travel Story – Sponsored by Signature Media

  • Belinda Jackson - Dolphin Island Fiji: Family Experience for a chosen few- Traveller – Fairfax Media
  • Mark Daffey - Are We There Yet? – Traveller – Fairfax Media
  • Helen Hayes - Salzburg - A Favourite Thing – Holidays with Kids magazine
  • Sheriden Rhodes - Island Life Revisited - Five Star Kids Magazine

Best Travel Blog – Sponsored by TFE Hotels

  • Girl Tweets World - Jayne Gorman
  • Together We Roam - Rene Young
  • Boy Eats World - Aleney de Winter

Best Australian Story – Sponsored by Tourism Australia

  • Kerry van der Jagt - Where to swim and sing with dolphins - Traveller - Fairfax Media
  • Andrew Bain - Cape Crusaders - Traveller - Fairfax Media
  • Celeste Mitchell - Girls Just Wanna Have 4WD Fun - Escape - News Ltd

Best Food Story – Sponsored by Outrigger Hotels and Resorts

  • Sue Wallace - Summer in Aspen – Delicious
  • Sue Gough Henly - Dining for the Greater Good – Australian Traveller magazine
  • Carla Grossetti - A Taste of History – Cuisine magazine

Best Responsible Tourism story – Sponsored by Intrepid Travel

  • Kerry van der Jagt - Monaco's Prince Albert is on a Mission to protect the environment - Traveller - Fairfax Media
  • Andrew Bain - Nature's treasure trove – Traveller - Fairfax Media
  • Jocelyn Pride - Alaska Untouched - Wellbeing

Best Adventure Story – Sponsored by G Adventures

  • Andrew Bain – Back to Peak Performance – Traveller – Fairfax Media
  • Lee Atkinson – Driving Across the Simpson Desert – Traveller – Fairfax Media
  • Catherine Marshall – Drums of the Jungle God – Traveller – Fairfax Media
  • Roderick Eime – Southern Exposure – MINDFOOD magazine

Best Cruise Story

  • John Borthwick – Burmese Daze - Traveller - Fairfax Media
  • Craig Tansley – Maldives Luxury Adventure - Traveller - Fairfax Media
  • Jocelyn Pride – It's (not) all Akademik – International Traveller magazine

Best Story Over 1000 words – Sponsored by AccorHotels

  • Craig Tansley – Where Cross Country Skiing is a Religion – Traveller – Fairfax Media
  • John Borthwick – Where the Cold War Thawed – Weekend Australian
  • Marian McGuinness – Scents and Sensibility – Weekend Australian

Best Story Under 1000 words – Sponsored by Macau Government Tourist Office

  • Tim Richards - A Boy and A Coin – Traveller – Fairfax Media
  • Rob McFarland - Cowboy in Training – Traveller – Fairfax Media
  • Kerry van der Jagt - In Wake of Van Gogh – Traveller – Fairfax Media

Best Tourism and Travel Trade Story

  • Kristine Madden - The Wheel of Fortune – Travel Bulletin
  • Lee Mylne - Traversing the Long, Open Road – Travel Bulletin
  • Sheriden Rhodes - Well, well, well – Traveller – Fairfax Media


PR Campaign of the Year Sponsored by TravMedia

  • Kim McKay - Positively Wellington Tourism
  • Karena Noble - Launch of Field of Light Uluru
  • Natalie Schofield - Westin - World Sleep Day

Communicator or Communications Team of the Year – Sponsored by TravMedia

  • Klick Communications
  • Karena Noble
  • AccorHotels

Best Tourism Organisation or Travel Product – Sponsored by ZOIK

  • Leigh Maloney – The Little Nell
  • Caroline Davidson – Rocky Mountain International
  • Karena Noble – Ayers Rock Resort Indigenous Tourism

Traveloscopy | 

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places