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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Blue Wren Winery, Mudgee - Winter Menu and Winter Packages Released

Kip Harris – Executive Chef and owner at Blue Wren, Mudgee continues to take the restaurant scene in Central West NSW to another level as he launches his new winter menu.

Boasting the only Chef’s Table experience in the burgeoning Central West NSW wine region, The Restaurant @ Blue Wren launches its new five-course tasting menu that exhibits a unique cornucopia of flavours and challenges the taste buds of the most discerning and adventurous diner.

One of the innovative dishes on the winter menu includes Crispy Skin Duck breast, duck liver ice-cream brûlée, pickled radish, cauliflower, crouton, dehydrated raspberry. (below)

“This dish is certainly a non-traditional mix of flavours but I love experimenting with methods when putting together the ingredients for a dish and pushing boundaries in playing with the diners’ perception of flavours” says Harris.

The Restaurant is quickly becoming a ‘must visit’ destination for those wanting to experience fine-dining in regional New South Wales and now provides ease for diners with private car transfers to those travelling locally.

“Since launching our first five-course tasting menu last season we have received a great reaction from our guests. People have trust in our unique flavours and gastronomy forms the foundation for a memorable experience”, says Harris.

The 37-year-old Harris took over at Blue Wren two years ago and has recently completed upgrades to the property of over half-a-million dollars.

His long history in hospitality, especially in the kitchen, has allowed Kip to develop a passion for preparing innovative dishes and create an unforgettable dining experience.

“I love to prepare food for people. One thing I really enjoy is researching and experimenting with new flavours and technologies for our menu at Blue Wren,” says Harris.

Some of the other unique items on the winter menu include dishes as:-

Himalayan salt rock seared scallop, pork belly, sage thyme barley caviar, corn dust, pork neck croquette, crustacean curd. (below)

Sous vide chateaubriand, cacao, smoked potato puree, pear, black pudding crisp, morel, vegemite foam, horse radish snow.

Cinnamon doughnut, malt custard banana ice cream, coffee crunch, crumb pistachio, callebaut chocolate, white chocolate bubble.

Blue Wren is situated on 65 acres and is only a short drive from the township of Mudgee. It boasts a new function area for weddings and events, as well as a stunning new homestead for accommodation – The Farmhouse @ Blue Wren that was launched earlier in the year.

Open for dinner from Wednesday through to Saturday, and lunch Friday through Sunday; the menu features a five-course tasting menu $98 per person with matching wines from the Blue Wren range at $35 per person

“The intimacy of our restaurant is reflected in the fact that the seating is limited to only 16 people. My guests can dine either at an intimate table, or I love arranging for an exclusive place at the Chef’s Table – where I wholeheartedly encourage my guests to discuss every part of their culinary journey with me”, says Harris.

Only a short drive from Mudgee and located adjacent to Mudgee Airport, Blue Wren is the ideal place in Central West NSW to enjoy magnificent food, coupled with quality wines from the Blue Wren range and stunning views overlooking the vineyards.

For further information please visit:

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Major events “Come to Life” on the Sunshine Coast

#Visitsunshinecoast Launch of new marketing campaign

Sunshine Coast Council and Visit Sunshine Coast, today (May 31) launched a new marketing campaign promoting the diverse range of major events hosted on the Sunshine Coast.

The campaign, Major Events 'Come to Life' on the Sunshine Coast, features television and radio ads, a 54 page major events guide with My Weekly Preview, digital and social media activation.

The joint campaign will be activated in the Sunshine Coast region, by Sunshine Coast Council and in key drive markets by Visit Sunshine Coast.

The campaign follows the successful 'World is Coming' marketing activation, which was a finalist in the Australian National Event Awards for best event marketing and which promoted the Sunshine Coast as Australia's regional events capital.

At the launch Mayor Mark Jamieson highlighted the importance of major events as an economic and tourism driver for the region.

"The economic impact of major events can be broad and far-reaching as our region benefits from increased visitation and also the localised expenditure associated with holding the event," Mayor Jamieson said.

"Event guests come to participate and often stay and play and enjoy everything that our region has to offer.

"Successful events are also strong motivators that encourage event participants and their guests to return for holidays or business.

"Major events also generate invaluable direct and indirect exposure, as our region's natural setting is showcased to a wide audience via traditional and social media.

"So it's for these reasons that we've partnered again with our colleagues at Visit Sunshine Coast to develop and activate a comprehensive marketing campaign which highlights the amazing calendar of major events."

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said the new events promotion completed the final theme of the 'Come to Life' national campaign launched by the regional tourism organisation earlier this year.

"Visit Sunshine Coast launched a new destination marketing campaign called 'Come to Life' building on the region's 'naturally refreshing' branding, earlier in the year. The campaign reflects the key brand pillars of contemporary beach culture; wonders of nature; innovative food and produce; immersive encounters, and now the final piece - exhilarating events.

"We know that events provide the perfect opportunity to not only showcase our region as a tourism destination but also position the Sunshine Coast as the regional events capital of Australia.

"Research indicates three-quarters of event attendees would not have gone to a destination, if not for an event. Also, for 57% of first-time visitors to the region, the event is the main reason for visiting and likewise for 69% of repeat visitors.

"We are pleased to again partner with Sunshine Coast Council to market the impressive events on offer throughout 2017, in order to drive interest and visitation from outside the region.

"The Sunshine Coast is highly regarded when it comes to premier sporting events, but we are also looking at raising the profile of music and cultural events. The Council is also looking to develop new events to continually diversify the portfolio and make it more aspirational to visit the region for an event."

Queensland Garden Expo Event Manager Marion Beazley said she was pleased to have the Garden Expo included in the new Come to Life campaign.

"We certainly appreciate the work that Sunshine Coast Council and Visit Sunshine Coast and do to promote major events like ours.

"The concerted effort to promote major events has resulted in heightened interest from local media and an increased appreciation of the importance of major events to our local economy.

Mooloolaba Business and Tourism Association President Bruce Ferguson said the Sunshine Coast seemed to be thriving and major events had contributed.

"Events and the tourism they bring are becoming a major industry and the events are going to keep coming," Mr Ferguson said.

"What is fantastic is that as a region we're becoming educated to the value of major events, how to leverage the benefits they bring and how to be good at hosting them.

"All of the national and international exposure from the visiting teams and guests is also invaluable to the long term positioning of the region as a tourist destination."

In 2017 the Sunshine Coast will welcome a large number of major events, reinforcing the region's reputation as the major events capital of regional Australia.

The Sunshine Coast will host more than 55 state, national and international, sporting, lifestyle and music events.  

These events are estimated to inject about $60 million into the local economy.

The region will welcome more than 130,000 guests, many of whom will stay on after the event and enjoy the beautiful surrounds.

The Major Events Come to Life campaign will run until November 2017 and will feature a diverse array of music, lifestyle and sporting events staged in the region.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Scotland: Sleeping in Castles

Who wouldn't want to stay in a castle and feel like royalty if they could? Not only can people visit amazing castles in Scotland- they can also take their pick of castle accommodation in Scotland, stay overnight, and really bring dreams to life. VisitScotland unveils its list of top Scottish castles guests can sleep in when visiting Scotland.

What can be expected on a castle break in Scotland?

· An unparalleled choice of castle accommodation to fit all budgets, from 5-star luxury castle hotels and exclusive use venues to castle campsites and self-catering options
· Serene locations, with some castles tucked away in some of the country's most beautiful landscapes
· Accommodation with a fascinating history, and masses of quirky tales and stories to uncover.

See below for some great castle accommodation in Scotland.

Ackergill Tower

Ackergill Tower is a magnificent 15th century Scottish castle, and is situated just 3 metres from breath-taking waters. Visitors can book individual rooms, or the tower can be booked exclusively, as one of the world's most select retreats located at one the UK's most unspoilt locations. A Scottish castle with accommodation offering unrivalled peace and seclusion, a home beyond 5 stars to spend time with the people that matter most.

Culzean Castle

Just like a storybook castle, this fantastic example of Robert Adam's genius stands dramatically on a cliff with superb views across the sea to the mountains of the Island of Arran. Culzean is in the heart of Burns country, a central base for visiting the poet's haunts. There are also a number of other National Trust for Scotland properties within easy driving distance of the castle.

Dalhousie Castle

Dalhousie Castle Hotel is steeped in a wealth of history - indeed Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scott have payed visits. The friendly atmosphere of Dalhousie Castle is created by the very special relationship between the staff, management and guests. With the timeless style of the castle, every stay is memorable, and many guests return year after year.

Borthwick Castle

Set amidst stunning rolling countryside only 12 miles from Edinburgh, this majestic and truly authentic castle was built in 1430 and has been carefully refurbished for private hire, corporate events and large family stays on an exclusive use basis. Walk through the arched stone gateway of Borthwick Castle and enter a hidden world of luxury and majestic style, steeped in 600 years of dramatic Scottish history. There are 10 uniquely designed bedchambers with lavish bathrooms, magnificent yet intimate dining and lounge areas, roaring fires, breath-taking views and spiral staircases inviting exploration and adventure. The cottage and Gatehouse bring the total accommodation to 12 bedchambers, sleeping up to 26 guests.

Glenapp Castle

Glenapp Castle is a fairytale castle hidden on the beautiful Ayrshire coast in Ballantrae, Scotland. Imagine exquisite rooms and outstanding cuisine. Perfect for rest and relaxation. The luxurious, award-winning five star hotel provides an intimate level of service, with genuine attention to detail. It has great beauty in its period furnishings and interiors and through the breath-taking gardens, forest and the seascapes that surround that castle.

Sherbrooke Castle Hotel

The Sherbrooke Castle Hotel has undergone extensive refurbishment to elevate this house to the heights that it warrants. In the most prestigious of residential areas, and set in its own grounds, the hotel is 5 minutes from the City Centre and 10 minutes from Glasgow airport.

Inverlochy Castle

Inverlochy Castle sits nestled amongst the foothills of Scotland's highest mountain - the mighty Ben Nevis - and in some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland. A 19th century Scottish castle hotel that guests will never forget staying in.

Castle Hotel Huntly

Set in 7 acres of parkland close to the ruins of Huntly Castle. Walking distance to town of Huntly and 18 hole golf course. Ideally situated for salmon and trout fishing. Also on routes of both Castle and Whisky trails. All twin and double rooms are welcome to single occupancy and the exclusive suite room hosts 24 hour internet access with free complementary Sherry. Haste ye back.

Crossbasket Castle

Sensitively renovated, Crossbasket is a stunning 17th century castle transformed into one of Scotland's most luxurious hotel and event venues. Crossbasket Castle has many unique period features inside and out which have been restored to their original beauty using traditional craftsmen and materials. There are nine breathtaking ensuite bedrooms, each decorated in a period style and named in honour of a historical custodian of this magnificent Castle. Every bedroom is finished with stunning period window and bed dressings and complemented with original antique furniture and luxuriously oversized beds, this castle also hold an Albert Roux restaurant.

Fasque Castle

Fasque House is a Baronial Mansion House situated in the heat of rural Aberdeenshire former family residence of Prime Minister Gladstone and the Gladstone Family. A 5* exclusive use venue with sumptuous rooms, delightful touches and splendid surroundings: Fasque Castle knows how to make guests feel truly welcome and comfortable with its range of superb accommodation – 19 bedrooms and cottages around the Estate.

Fonab Castle Hotel and Spa

Located on the banks of Loch Faskally, Fonab Castle Hotel is only a short walk from the heart of the historic town of Pitlochry, allowing guests access to all of the local amenities the town has to offer. Since opening in 2013, Fonab has become a popular destination to enjoy friendly, attentive service, breath taking views, exquisite food and luxurious accommodation.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Transformational Travel will Define 2017

Travel has the power to transform both our own lives and the world we live in. When we push our physical and psychological boundaries, incredible things can happen. And that’s why transformational travel is set to change everything in 2017.

Tribesmen perform ancient ritual dance on remote island in Vanuatu. Heritage Expeditions. (Roderick Eime)

Transformational travel is the next evolution of experiential travel and while it maintains many of the elements of the original, it aims for a new level of consciousness that’s carried on long after the trip is over. Travel expert and doctoral researcher Michael Bennett has identified a three-phase process consisting of the departure, the initiation, and the return – the “hero’s journey” – where travellers venture into the unknown to learn wisdom from cultures and places outside their own, returning home to implement this knowledge, ultimately changing their lives and the lives of others around them. It’s this post-travel action that separates experiential travel from transformational travel.

When travellers have authentic, genuine interactions with other cultures, they stop seeing the world as so black and white. They can be inspired to donate to environmental or social causes after first-hand experience.

While luxury and unique experiences have always been the key selling points for providers in this sector, they are now beginning to focus on these more transformational aspects. Environmental sustainability, corporate social responsibility, immersive conservation programs and positive engagement with local communities have now become major selling points to travellers eager to make a change within themselves and for the places they visit.

Source: Luxperience News
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Monday, May 22, 2017

Amazing Images of Australia from Above

SkyPixel Aerial Photography Contest Showcases the Best of Australia From Above

The winning photo, Refreshing Places to Float, taken by Airloft, focuses on a person enjoying on a float in a refreshing rock pool in Wyadup Spa, Western Australia.

SkyPixel, the world's most popular aerial photography community, Friday concluded the two-month Australia from Above aerial photography contest. This was SkyPixel's first region-specific aerial photography contest that showcased the stunning natural beauty of Australia seen from above.

Run in partnership with DJI and Tourism Australia, the SkyPixel Australia from Above aerial photography contest received over 6,000 entries, including photos from the inspiring expanse of Australia's pristine white beaches to the raw power of its rich, red outback.

The winning photo, Refreshing Places to Float, taken by Airloft, focuses on a person enjoying on a float in a refreshing rock pool in Wyadup Spa, Western Australia. For his winning entry, Airloft will receive a DJI Inspire 2 Premium Combo, a SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO� MicroSD and 480GB Extreme� 500 Portable SSD, a 1-year Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan (1-year membership), and 2-nights at Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island and 2-nights at Capella Lodge, Lord Howe Island.

SECOND: Sea of Green: The late afternoon sun shines through a breaking wave at Secret Harbour, south of Perth.

"The amazing work from participants really shows the growing interest around this new photographic artform and the potential of aerial technology" said Danny Zheng, DJI Vice President of Marketing. "We were thrilled to see so many quality entries, from local photographers as well as those outside the country who captured Australia's extraordinary beauty in an entirely new way."

The second and third prize winners were skysnaps with a photo titled Sea of Green respectively, one showing a breaking wave at Secret Harbour, south of Perth, and Yantastic for Rigby Island, and the other a top-down shot of a boat navigating its way through Rigby Island in Victoria. These winners will take home various DJI, SanDisk, Adobe and Epson products. Separately, 10 additional entries were shortlisted by SkyPixel users and awarded with an Osmo Mobile Silver, SanDisk MicroSD and Portable SSD.

The winning photos were selected by a judging panel that included Tourism Australia's Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Ronson, Australian landscape photographer Kirk Hille, who won the Grand Prize in SkyPixel's first annual contest in 2015, Todd Kennedy, adjudged "Travel Photographer of the Year" by Australian Photography Magazine, and Tom Rex Jessett, a globetrotting New Zealand-based landscape and travel photographer.

THIRD: Top down shot of Rigby Island in Lake's Entrance, Victoria. Shot with Mavic Pro

Tourism Australia's Chief Marketing Officer, Lisa Ronson, was blown away by the quantity and the quality of entries. "There are some amazingly talented photographers out there who are using drone technology to capture some breath-taking images of Australia. Drone-facilitated photography as well as other new technologies such as VR and 360 are enabling us to tell our story in ways which were just not possible a few years ago. It's very exciting for our industry and will, I'm sure, provide inspiration to many Australian tourism operators as they look at new and engaging ways to promote their businesses," she said.

All the winning photos can be viewed here:

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Vivid Sydney celebrates the grit and glitter of Kings Cross


For the first time, Kings Cross will be an exciting precinct that includes all Vivid Sydney pillars of light, music and ideas, called Vivid KX. The program will include a wonderful mix of genres, theatre, performance, story-telling and light art, and celebrate exactly what makes Kings Cross so special.

Vivid KX will explore the bohemian underworlds that gave The Cross its unique DNA through a genre-bending performance program; pop-up cinema screening the strangest, craziest and best in Australian film; and raw and riveting talks of the days of the ‘Golden Mile’.

For the first time at Kings Cross, the Coca-Cola billboard will come alive to celebrate the talent, colour, creativity and diversity of Kings Cross. Shot by portrait photographer Katherine Williams the Characters of Kings Cross series will feature moving black-and-white portraits of the individuals that make Kings Cross so special. The projected images will feature on the left-hand side of the sign, and will include familiar faces such as Kylie Kwong, along with other Kings Cross locals.

The famous Coca-Cola LED billboard will for the first time in 40 years transform into a continuous light show of vibrant colours and special effects for the entire 23 nights of Vivid Sydney. Read more

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Accommodation boom across New South Wales

The State Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW has said growth in overnight visitation to NSW is stimulating an accommodation boom across the State.

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour opening 2017 (source: Accor)

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said this week’s Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) was a great opportunity to showcase both new and refurbished hotels.

“According to the International and National Visitor Surveys for the year ending December 2016, there were more than 33 million overnight visitors who stayed more than 183 million nights in NSW over the past 12 months,” Ms Chipchase said.

“New and refurbished hotels by the harbour, and luxury makeovers and quality boutique offerings are giving visitors to Sydney and regional NSW just what they want – accommodation in desirable locations, with a choice of styles and price points.

“Sky-high confidence in the visitor economy is driving the hotel boom with 7,800 new and refurbished hotel rooms under construction or approved for development and open for business by 2022.

“Our State is undergoing a major transformation to meet the growing demands from international markets, providing NSW hotels and operators with more opportunities than ever before to attract visitors.

“With occupancy rates rising from 75 per cent in to 76.3 per cent in the December quarter 2016, driven primarily by occupancy rate increases in regional NSW (66.4 per cent, up from 62.6 per cent), our State is leading the country when it comes to accommodation supply, demand and revenue takings.

“From Sydney to the Blue Mountains, the South Coast to up North, and out to Country NSW, we are seeing major refurbishments of heritage sites, to brand new beachfront pavilions and self-catering options as part of this hotel boom, and we look forward to highlighting the best of these exciting developments during ATE,” she said.

On top of the accommodation boom, other major infrastructure projects are underway including the harbourside development at Barangaroo, the Western Sydney Airport, significant upgrades to Sydney Airport and the planned regeneration of The Bays Precinct, a waterfront space in the inner west.

Click here to download the latest ‘Hotel News in Sydney and NSW’ Fact Sheet.

For more information on attractions and experiences in NSW, visit and

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Showcase NSW best food and wine

Some of the State’s finest produce will be showcased to travel buyers from across the globe tonight, as part of the 2017 Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE).

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said 1,300 domestic and international delegates will gather at a special harbourside location for the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency’s showcase event.

“From artisan smoked Bangalow ham, South Coast cheese, Pinot Noir from Orange, saltbush lamb from Wagga Wagga, and an eight metre long ice bar filled with NSW’s freshest and finest seafood, tonight’s event will take people on an incredible NSW food journey,” Ms Chipchase said.

“More and more visitors from across Australia and the world are learning about our State’s great local wines and fresh produce, with a desire to visit Sydney and regional NSW for a first-hand experience.

“NSW is home to fourteen wine regions, renowned fruit, beef, pork and truffle farms, and over 2,000 kilometres of coastline bursting with fresh seafood and local produce, some of which our guests will be able to enjoy and savour tonight.

“With such amazing produce and so many wonderful dining experiences to be had, it’s little wonder so many visitors are choosing to experience our thriving culinary hotspots and award-winning restaurants throughout NSW.”

Whether it’s a Hunter Semillon or a cool-climate Tempranillo, visitors can find plenty of scope for exploration and experimentation in each of the State’s fourteen wine regions.

In the year ended December 2016, there were almost two million domestic and international visitors who had been to a NSW winery. These visitors stayed 13.8 million nights and spent $2.2 billion in the State.

The latest International Visitor Survey results show that NSW received nearly 213,000 international wine travellers with Sydney, the Hunter, North Coast, Blue Mountains and South Coast as the most visited regions by international wine travellers.

“There’s a real movement around where and how our food is grown, sourced and prepared, and NSW’s pristine environment and varied typography is creating some of the finest produce in Australia for visitors to enjoy.

“We look forward to welcoming more international visitors to our State as a result of tonight’s special Destination NSW event and continuing to place NSW firmly on the global foodie-map,” Ms Chipchase said.

Download the latest ‘Food and Wine in Sydney and NSW’ Fact Sheet.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

The Puffing Billy Railway is Australia's favourite train

The world famous steam train, The Puffing Billy Railway, is Australia's favourite train and one of the finest preserved steam railways in the world.

The railway which commenced operation in Australia on December 18, 1900 and operates every day except Christmas Day, is a genuine relic of our more leisurely days.

An historic steam train which runs regularly in the Victorian mountain district, it was built to serve at the turn of the century, and was used to transport goods and passengers throughout the district.

The line was opened by the Victorian Railways in 1900 between Upper Ferntree Gully and Gembrook, however, there was a struggle to keep the railway alive. From the early 1930s the railway earned the reputation for being a financial liability on the Victorian Railways and due to a landslide in 1953, a subsequent decision was made to close the line in 1954.

It was during a series of farewell trips in 1955 that led to the Puffing Billy Preservation Society being established - to keep the train running, and it has been a success with figures of over ten million passengers now carried on the historic railway since re-opening in 1962.

Tourist services resumed between Belgrave and Menzies Creek in 1962, and were progressively extended to Emerald in 1965, Lakeside in 1975 and Gembrook in 1998.

The railway travels 25kms through the forests and fern gullies of the magnificent Dandenong Ranges to Emerald Lake Park and Gembrook- -the original terminus of the line- - and is one of two survivors of five experimental narrow gauge lines used to develop rural area in Victoria during the early 1900s.

Trains depart from Belgrave which is only 40kms or one hour east of Melbourne by car or coach. Easy access is also available by electric train from Melbourne in around one hour with a short walk from the electric train station to the Puffing Billy station.

Together with the traditional train journeys, Puffing Billy also offers a range of unique “First Class” travel and dining experiences in up to four luxurious, fully enclosed, heritage carriages, each seating up to 20 passengers. Choose from Lunch, which is available seven days a week or Dinner, on selected Friday and Saturday evenings. Other evenings are available for groups of 60-80 passengers.

Group bookings on all scheduled trains may be made and special charter trains for groups of up to 250 are available. “Special Interest” groups can also be catered for with escorted tours.

Annual patronage to the railway is fast approaching 350,000 people and in addition to the well-known excursion train services, its unique products include:

- The Dinner & Dance Train – selected Friday & Saturday evening

- The Steam & Cuisine Luncheon Train– daily first class service

- Days out with Thomas the Tank Engine

- Other activities such as Murder Mystery Trains, Jazz Trains and

- Drive an Engine experiences.

- External contracting in niche markets (e.g. steam locomotive overhaul and repair, timber bridge maintenance)

The Railway recently received a Certificate of Excellence 2015 from TripAdvisor which was a direct result from the consistently great reviews given by TripAdvisor travellers.

For further information please visit:

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Monday, May 8, 2017

True or False? More than 90 percent of travellers rely on online reviews.

This interesting infographic supplied by TravelCarma which they claim illustrates the "Global State of Online Travel". Presented as is.

Scenic launches South America program for 2018

Scenic has launched its South America program for 2018 which features a brand-new 12/29 day tour, Icons of South & Central America. With its rich, colourful history, this Scenic-exclusive tour combines the very best of South America, from the history-steeped Havana and Trinidad to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Machu Picchu and Cuzco.  

There's a new Scenic Enrich experience, a horse-and-carriage ride and dinner in Cartagena, as well as a host of new Scenic Freechoice options: think Cuzco cooking classes, off-road adventures in Los Glaciares National Park and a Classic Havana tour.

Also new for 2018 is a Belmond Andean Explorer two-day luxurious rail journey across the awe-inspiring Andes to Lake Titicaca on Scenic's 16 day Peru Discovery tour, where guests will delve into Peru's Sacred Valley and visit the World Heritage site of Machu Picchu.

Scenic is offering brilliant Earlybird offers on 2018 journeys. Book by 31 October 2017 and fly to South America from $995 when you book a journey of 20 days or longer – a saving of up to $2,330 per couple; or fly from $1,295 on journeys of 11 to 19 days.

For more information call Scenic on 138 128 or visit

Up the Fiji creek - with a paddle!

Pictured paddling her way along Fiji's mighty Navua River, MTA – Mobile Travel Agent, Sandra Di Benedetto recently visited the destination with fellow Member Michelle Edwards as part of a Tourism Fiji 'Matai' specialist Fiji sales agents' familiarisation.

Their program included a high-speed Sigatoka River Jetboat Safari and a visit to a traditional Fijian village in the picturesque Sigatoka Valley.

pic: Mobile Travel Agent Sandra Di Benedetto



Saturday, May 6, 2017

2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games Promotion at Snow Travel Expos Sydney & Melbourne

Korea Tourism Organization will participate in the Snow Travel Expos in Sydney on Sunday, 21 May and Melbourne on the following Sunday, 28 May, 2017 with the main aim being the promotion of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games being held in Korea from 9-25 February, 2018.

Five major ski resorts from Korea will join the Snow Travel Expo in Sydney on Sunday, 21st May, 2017 at the new International Convention Centre, (ICC) Darling Harbour for the first time. They are ski resorts - Alpensia, Daemyung, High 1, Phoenix Park and Yongpyong.

Alpensia, Phoenix Park and Yongpyong are all directly involved as venues for the upcoming Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games so will be able to answer any direct questions from the public regarding their resorts.

Korean Air, the official partner airline for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games will also be on the Korea stand at the Sydney Snow Travel Expo on 21 May.

The Korea stand will also host CoSport, the authorised ticket reseller for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Australia. Tickets and packages are already on sale online at and are selling well.

A highlight of the Korea stand will be a virtual reality ski jump experience being brought to Australia from Korea for the Sydney Snow Travel Expo only. Visitors to the Expo can enjoy a virtual ski jump experience as if they are competing in the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Brochures and materials relating to the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be distributed freely as well as small giveaways. Korea Tourism Organization will provide advice and assistance to visitors at both the Sydney and Melbourne Snow Travel Expos in regard to travelling to the Games as well as general travel information on what to do and see in Korea.

Interested parties can see more about the Snow Travel Expos in Sydney and Melbourne on the Snow Travel Expo's website:

Come along and experience the fun and enjoyment of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Korea stand at the Snow Travel Expo. Have your photo taken with Soohorang (the White Tiger) and Bandabi (the Moon Bear) who are the official mascots for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics.

Official Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games website:

Information on Tickets & Tour Packages visit CoSport website:

Website: on Facebook:


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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bangkok remains most visited Asia-Pacific destination in Mastercard Index 2017

Bangkok has retained its place as the Top Destination in terms of Visitor Numbers out of 171 destinations in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the latest figures from the influential Mastercard Asia-Pacific Destinations Index 2017.

Bangkok remains most visited Asia-Pacific destination in Mastercard Index 2017
Bangkok welcomed 19.3 million international overnight arrivals in 2016 of the 339.2 million visits made to the 171 Asia-Pacific destinations on the Mastercard list. This put the Thai capital above second place Singapore, which attracted 13.1 million. Thai destinations Phuket and Pattaya also placed in the Top Ten on the report, with 9.1 million and 8.1 million overnight visits, respectively.

The Mastercard Asia-Pacific Destinations Index 2017 ranks 171 destinations in 22 countries. These include resorts, towns and cities and are ranked in terms of the total number of international overnight arrivals, cross-border spending, and the total number of nights spent at each destination.

Mr.Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor said, "Bangkok once again takes top place in the Mastercard listing, showing how attractive the city is to tourists and business travellers who visit knowing they'll find a city that will impress and meet their needs. Whether they are just passing through or want to explore the amazing shopping, food scene, history and entertainment, visitors find that in this most exciting of destinations, there's something for everyone."

Bangkok also topped the list of total nights stayed with 87.6 million nights, showing that visitors to Asia-Pacific destinations are travelling for longer periods. In 2016, visitors to the region stayed for 1,768.7 million nights, compared with 1,023.1 million nights in 2009, representing an 8.1 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR).

In terms of overall tourism expenditure in the region, Bangkok took second place with spending of US$12.7 billion of the US$244.9 billion spent in 2016. Singapore topped the list with US$15.4 billion. The growing numbers of tourists from China and South Korea helped to boost these figures to the Asia-Pacific region. Meanwhile, China was the top source market for visitors to Bangkok with affluent Chinese seeking out shopping and dining experiences in the region.

The Mastercard Asia-Pacific Destinations Index is an off-shoot of the annual Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index and reflects the increasing importance of the Asia-Pacific region for tourism. In 2016, five of the ten most visited cities in the world were in the Asia-Pacific region.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Chocolate cake frenzy at this year's Leura Harvest Festival

The ultimate chocolate cake parade marks this year's Leura Harvest Festival

The boutique Leura village in the Blue Mountains will be transformed into a country fair and interactive sustainable-living experience at the Leura Harvest Festival this weekend.

The festival on Sunday 7 May, will feature everything from micro-farming stalls and local organic food producers to homemade scarecrows, pet chooks on show, and a chocolate cake parade culminating in a sweet public feast.

Now in its fourth year, the Leura Harvest Festival honours the region's natural food bowl and highlights the latest in sustainable living initiatives at more than 70 market stalls under the famous cherry trees along the mall.

Along with fresh produce and locally grown plants and herbs, this annual event will see stallholders showcasing everything from solar-powered cars, upcycled and recycled fashion and jewellery, handcrafted ceramics and art, and luscious handmade beauty products.

In true harvest style there will be organic cuisine and locally crafted wines and ciders – all produced within a 100-mile radius of Leura.

The festival also features a series of homespun events for all ages, including the ever-popular Pet Chook Show, the return of Birches of Leura's fabulous Scarecrow Competition and the ultimate Chocolate Cake Competition.

Presented by Josophans Fine Chocolates, the cake competition will see home and professional bakers walk down the Mall with their delicious creations before the judging begins at 1.30pm.  Once the winners are announced the chocolate indulgence begins, with free slices of cake provided to onlookers.

For more details on the Leura Harvest Festival, visit

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
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