Monday, 21 August 2017

Take advantage of the sun with an open top bus tour

Big Bus Tours' signature sightseeing bus tour allows visitors to experience the stunning views of San Francisco from open-top buses. With hop-on, hop-off service, you can leave the tour at any time to explore the city’s top landmarks, before jumping back on to continue your guided tour.

See all the best attractions San Francisco has to offer as you travel through the heart of the city on double-decker buses over the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge to the remarkable San Francisco Bay, where you’ll witness spectacular views from Vista Point. And with several types of tickets available to choose from, you can explore San Francisco your way.

Tour highlights include:

Fisherman's Wharf

The hub of the local fishing trade, Fisherman's Wharf is a must-see for San Francisco's many visitors. Get here early to fully enjoy the sights and sounds of the wharf before everyone else arrives. See the piers and look for the colony of sea lions. Find yourself some crab or chowder to snack on as you wander amongst the many street performers and then head to Fish Alley to see the boat sheds of the fishermen or the world-famous wax figures at Madame Tussauds.

North Beach and Little Italy

Largely established during the Gold Rush era by fisherman from northern Italy, North Beach's Italian restaurants, bakeries and delicatessens have formed the neighborhood as a genuine Little Italy. Memories of the Beat Generation abound as well throughout the area, from when writers such as Alan Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac made North Beach home and helped start the city's renowned cultural rebellion.

Union Square

Named so after becoming a gathering place for Unionist supporters during the Civil War, Union Square is now the hub of one of the world’s most vibrant shopping districts. Take a tour around the square, flanked by Macy's (home of an official Visitor Information Center), Saks and the impressive Westin St Francis Hotel; or explore the surrounding blocks - home to countless department stores, boutiques, salons and outfitters. Nearby is the Theatre District and Hallidie Plaza, the great crossroads, where San Francisco Travel also offers a Visitor Information Center.

Alamo Square

The Painted Ladies of Alamo Square are not in fact ladies at all, but Victorian Houses that form part of one of the most recognized picture-postcard vistas of San Francisco. Wander uphill and enjoy an unrivaled vantage point from which to photograph or simply take in the breath-taking views of the city.

Golden Gate Park

The third most-visited park in the United States. Golden Gate Park is full of magnificent horticultural landscaping, specific attractions and structures of interest, including the Kezar and Golden Gate Stadiums, the Japanese Tea Garden – the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States, the Conservatory of Flowers and the de Young Museum – a fine art museum that opened almost a century ago in 1921, and the California Academy of Sciences. The bus takes you right through the heart of the park, where you can scan for its famous bison, which have roamed in the Bison Paddock since 1891!


Often considered San Francisco's top tourist destination, PIER 39 offers a great range of shops and eateries plus an impressive variety of other entertainment. Visit the Aquarium of the Bay or the Marine Mammal Centre; or simply stroll along the waterfront and take in the superb views of Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge.

Other sightseeing landmarks accessible with Big Bus include the Ferry Building, Civic Center, Haight-Ashbury, the Palace of Fine Arts,Lombard Street, and Chinatown. A Big Bus Tour is a perfect introduction to San Francisco; visit Big Bus Tours online for more information and book your ticket today.


National Geographic Traveler has announced Newcastle, Australia, as part of its Smart Cities series dedicated to celebrating cities that have risen to the challenges of 21st century urban life. 

Around 100 miles north of Sydney, Newcastle, Australia’s seventh largest city, sits at the mouth of the Hunter River just a short drive from the famed Hunter Valley vineyards. 

When the shifting sands of the global economy saw the local steel, copper and coal industries begin to wind down, Newcastle adopted a creative, new, education-focused tack. 

The renowned surf-city with a burgeoning artisan scene transformed run-down spaces into pop-ups for makers -- milliners, writers, painters and furniture designers -- and brightened the walls of large buildings with artistic murals a la major global capitals. 

This cultural vitality has preceded the arrival of smart city hardware set to make things better for locals and tourists alike. The University of Newcastle’s landmark city campus is set to open in mid-2017, and will provide a technology-rich, next generation learning environment for students and the community. 

Within this precinct, an Innovation Hub will nurture home-grown research, innovation and activity to drive the region’s economic and cultural success. 

Alongside these innovation-led developments, light rail and tech investment are hastening the postindustrial step of the city that inspired the hit musical Tap Dogs. 

Green energy research, eclectic cafés, restaurants, bars and bakeries, plus growing numbers of cyclists on sparkling coastal pathways, confirm a new Zeitgeist.

“We are on a global hunt to find cities where innovation meets imagination and are quickly becoming the next great travel destinations,” says National Geographic Traveler editor in chief, George W. Stone. “Newcastle has done just that. The coastal city has re-invented itself restoring its colonial-era buildings and becoming a base to explore all this city has to offer— from the Merewether Ocean Baths, superb coastline and working harbour to internationally-acclaimed live performance and exhibitions - the city is brimming with activity."

 Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said tourism was part of Newcastle's transition from a great regional city to an emerging global city with spectacular natural assets and relaxed lifestyle. "Last year visitor numbers increased by 1.25 million people to 10.1 million,"

 Councillor Nelmes said. "Many are being drawn by the re-invention of our coastline which now rivals any coastal walk in Australia and by the new urban chic many tourists might more readily relate to Brooklyn, New York. But instead, think of pristine beaches with golden sand and whales often in view only a short stroll from topshelf cafes and restaurants. "Soon, tourists will be able to access free wi-fi in the inner city thanks to a project that will also produce a digital hub for sharp-thinking entrepreneurs to make Newcastle and the Hunter even better travel destinations." 

University of Newcastle’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said the University, together with partners in Council, business and the community, is playing an important role in shaping the economic and cultural future of the city. “By developing the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs, and encouraging the creation of new businesses, we are positioning Newcastle as a magnet for talent and innovation from across the globe.” 

To learn more about Newcastle visit National Geographic Traveler’s Smart City online hub at 

CINZ Conference 2017 focuses on the future

Deborah Sexton, 
PCMA President and CEO, 
and CINZ keynote speaker
International conference trends are top of the agenda at the Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) annual conference in Dunedin this October.

The 41st CINZ annual conference from 24 to 26 October is themed Ahead of the Curve, and focuses on the future with an insight into new generation technologies, smart thinking and leading-edge practice.

Chief Executive Sue Sullivan says CINZ has assembled an impressive line-up of 12 international and local experts on the subject, including Deborah Sexton, President and CEO of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), brought here by Tourism New Zealand with the support of Air New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive, Stephen England-Hall says Deborah Sexton’s keynote address focuses on the Future of Meetings and Events.

“Deborah has much to share from a global perspective. Under her leadership, the PCMA membership is at an all-time high, and the PCMA annual meeting has broken attendance records for the last five consecutive years,” he says.

Top incentive specialist, Fiona Batten, manager of Ci Events Australia is giving a special presentation on Insights, Trends and Beyond at the CINZ Conference 2017. She will be sharing with CINZ members the inside story on what Australian incentive companies need from New Zealand.

Dunedin-based Ian Taylor is another keynote presenter who is not to be missed. As the founder of New Zealand-pioneer technology company Animation Research Ltd (ARL), his team covers sports events all over the world. Ian was inducted into the New Zealand Hi-Tech Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2010, he was named North & South magazine’s New Zealander of the Year, and in 2013, Outstanding Maori Business Leader of the Year. He is also a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

In keeping with the conference theme, CINZ is mixing up different presentation styles to match different ways of learning in 2017. Traditional plenary sessions will share the programme with shortened workshops, TED-style talks, and panel sessions.

Register online at the CINZ website for the CINZ Conference and AGM 2017.

Miracle City return to the stage with Missy Higgins

A brand new production of Nick Enright and Max Lambert’s celebrated Australian musical Miracle City takes over the Sydney Opera House Studio from 11 – 29 October with an outstanding cast of new stars and musical-theatre veterans. Tickets On Sale on Monday 28 August at 9am.

Set in the early 1990s, at the height of televangelism, Miracle City tells the story of the Truswells, a family with a dream to build a religious theme park, and the extreme lengths the patriarch, Ricky Truswell, will go to in order to make their dream a reality.

The new production -features an outstanding cast including:
  • ARIA award-winner Missy Higgins in her first musical role as part of the powerhouse trio, the Citadel singers, alongside Lara Mulcahy (Les Miserables, Mamma Mia!, Moulin Rouge!, Strictly Ballroom) andJosie Lane (Little Shop of Horrors, Jerry’s Girls, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Miracle City)
  • Gus Murray (The Great Gatsby, McLeod’s Daughters, Packed to the Rafters) as the Reverend Ricky Truswell
  • Kellie Rode (Mamma Mia!, Rocky Horror Show, Mother & Son) as his wife Lora Lee
  • Jessica Vickers (Light in the Piazza, Fiddler on the Roof) as their apple-pie-fresh daughter Loretta
  • Liam Nunan (Away, The Golden Age) as Loretta’s love interest, and
  • Anthony Phelan (Seven Types of Ambiguity, The Kettering Incident, The Wild Duck) as evangelist Pastor Millard Sizemore.

Sydney Opera House Head of Contemporary Performance, Danielle Harvey, says “It’s been said by many that Miracle City is an undiscovered gem of Australian musical theatre. I’m thrilled to champion local work with a cast and crew of formidable talent. Miracle City is a story that still resonates, loudly, today.”

Producer, Alistair Thomson of The Theatre Division, says “Miracle City is a unique, powerful and exhilarating Australian musical written by one of our finest musical theatre partnerships. We are delighted to bring this show to a wider audience with a stellar cast at The Studio at Sydney Opera House, a venue perfectly suited to this contemporary work.”

The late great Australian dramatist Nick Enright (The Boy From Oz, Lorenzo’s Oil, Cloudstreet) wrote the book and lyrics for Miracle City, based on a concept by Max Lambert (Hairspray, King Kong, Strictly Ballroom), who also wrote the music. It premiered at the Sydney Theatre Company in 1996 to universal acclaim, and was resurrected at the Hayes Theatre Co in 2014, earning five Sydney Theatre Award nominations and a slew of rave reviews.

This new production is directed by Darren Yap (Diving For Pearls, Letters To Lindy, A Murder Is Announced, Miracle City - 2014) with Max Lambert returning as musical director and conducting from the piano, and choreography by the award-winning Kelley Abbey (Fame The Musical, Footloose, Grease: The Arena Spectacular and Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour – Carmen).

Contemporary Performance at Sydney Opera House

Contemporary Performance at Sydney Opera House presents the latest in contemporary dance, theatre, circus, magic, comedy, musicals and cabaret. It champions brave, genre-straddling work and the reinvention and reinterpretation of classic art forms. In recent years the Opera House has featured preeminent international contemporary dance companies - including Akram Khan, Sylvie Guillem, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, DV8 and theKibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. The Opera House has staged hit new musical theatre productions including Heathers: The Musical as well as modern adaptations of the classics, such as Sweet Charity. Summer is the season for circus, magic and cabaret. Large-scale spectaculars, such as The Illusionists and Circus 1903, fill the Concert Hall and late-night variety shows like Club Swizzle, La Soirée, Barbu and Blanc de Blanc play before packed houses in the Studio.

Tickets On Sale Monday 28 August at 9am
Where: The Studio, Sydney Opera House
When: 12 – 29 October, 2017
Prices Tickets from $59
Bookings: or +61 2 9250 7777

Art exhibition celebrates Viet Nam – RoK ties

Vietnamese and Korean artists are showing their works at an art exhibition which opened in downtown Seoul on August 16, under support from the Viet Nam Embassy in the Republic of Korea and the Korea Foundation.

More than 20 paintings, video tapes and installation art works on display depict social changes in both nations over the past 30 years through the eyes of young artists.

The exhibition is part of activities marking the 25th founding anniversary of Viet Nam – RoK diplomatic relations. It is taking place at the Korea Foundation (KF) Cultural Centre until October 18, before moving to the ASEAN Cultural House in Busan.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, KF Executive Vice President Yoon Keum-Jin said the event is the biggest display of Viet Nam’s contemporary art in her country to date.

She noted that young Vietnamese and Korean artists shared a common concern over fading traditional culture amid rapid industrialisation and urbanisation.

Vietnamese Ambassador to the RoK Nguyen Vu Tu said in just 25 years, the ties between the two countries have obtained significant progress in various aspects, particularly people-to-people exchanges.

Stressing that further achievements for both sides lay ahead, the diplomat said he expects cultural activities like the art exhibition will help enhance Korean understanding about Viet Nam and stimulate bilateral engagements.


MTV Beats and Eats 2016 festival
 in Wollongong. Credit: Rocket K
Wollongong will again host the freshest selection of music and food ahead of the start of Summer, when MTV Beats & Eats returns in late November.

Now in its third year, the one-day festival will return to Stuart Park after the success of last year’s event which saw thousands of people dance and eat their way through offerings from some of Australia’s hottest foodies with tunes by Savage, PACES, Tigerlilly and superstar DJ Steve Aoki.

Secured by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, MTV Beats & Eats is a highlight on the NSW Events Calendar and a massive drawcard for youth travellers.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said, “It’s great to have MTV Beats & Eats return to Wollongong, providing visitors with another great opportunity to explore the many exciting attractions and adventure activities the region has to offer.”

Crowds will once again be treated to a selection of new and exciting bars, Instagramable activations, food trucks and vendors, while enjoying some of the hottest acts in music.

Click here to buy tickets.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

New and Returning Favorites Keep Summer Fun Going at Disneyland Resort

Don’t miss your chance for summertime fun at Disneyland Resort! With new and returning favorites in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park, there is so much to do and see — and some of the fun is only available for a limited time!

Main Street Electrical Parade

Main Street Electrical Parade is nearing the end of its limited-time run! Experience this beloved parade in the place it began – Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland park – now through August 20.


Fantasmic!,” the Disneyland park nighttime spectacular you’ve loved for more than 25 years is back — with its iconic theme song — and now features new mist screens that combine with innovative, state-of-the-art projection technology for brighter and more vibrant visuals than ever before.

Disneyland Railroad and Rivers of America Attractions

Beloved Disneyland park favorites have returned, with new magic! Experience the return of these classics for yourself aboard the Disneyland Railroad, Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbiaand Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, now open once again at Disneyland park.

Summer of Heroes

At Disney California Adventure park, summer is all about Super Heroes with special, limited-time experiences through September 10. From Groot bread and Gamma-sized donuts to one-of-a-kind encounters with the Mighty Avenger, Thor, you never know what adventure is waiting for you around each corner!

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

And speaking of adventures, join the Guardians of the Galaxy on the ultimate breakout! Rocket needs your help to free his buddies from the grasp of the mysterious Collector in an adventure set to the beat of some familiar pop favorites.

Disney MaxPass

New this summer is the best way to maximize your day at the Disneyland Resort – Disney MaxPass! This new digital tool provides unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads from your day, and enables the convenience of mobile Disney FASTPASS booking and redemption times while in the theme parks through the Disneyland App.


Thousands of people will receive confirmation of their Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games tickets this month and Gold Coast Tourism wants them to be prepared for their accommodation pursuit. 

Competition for favourite spots and key dates will be high, but a new online directory will help visiting fans secure a place to stay at the fairest prices, says Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter

Providers ranging from top end hotels to caravan parks, and motels to private rentals, have been compiled into an easy-to-use comprehensive listing on the Gold Coast Tourism website. 

Ticket holders can search dates, suburbs and proximity to different venues to ensure they get the best deal at the most convenient location.

And Gold Coast Tourism has some quick tips to enhance people’s accommodation search success. 


- As soon as you know your dates, start your search and book your accommodation


- Go beyond the obvious holiday suburbs and uncover other parts of the Gold Coast. There are accommodation offerings across the city ands surrounds 


 - Consider all options, from hotels, motels, apartments and camping, caravan parks and private rentals 


- Many providers may require a minimum length stay during the peak period.... so search for at least five nights 

Mr Winter says the Gold Coast is well equipped to host crowds of the scale expected for the Commonwealth Games – there are more than 30,000 options available to the city’s visitors.

But he warns ticket holders to get in quickly if they are keen on specific locations, a certain style of accommodation or are travelling in large groups. 

“This online tool has been created to help visitors who have been lucky enough to secure tickets to book accommodation early,” Mr Winter says. “We know that once people know which tickets they have they will be looking to lock in somewhere to stay. This is the best place for them to do that and gain peace of mind. “The Games is a premium event that will drive an influx of visitors, similar to a peak holiday season. There will be high demand so people can expect prices will be at a premium. “The online directory allows people to identify operators offering the best deals, especially if they stay for five nights or more.”

 The new directory can be found at: 

Emperor Qianlong’s Favorite Reading Place Getting A Facelift

An imperial garden in downtown Beijing’s Beihai Park opened to tourists after a restaurant that had operated for 60 years was moved out as part of a campaign to protect the city’s cultural heritage.

Yilan Hall, whose history spans more than 260 years, is a cluster of buildings designed in the architectural style of the Jinshan Temple in Jiangsu province. It was the preferred reading place for Emperor Qianlong, an 18th-century ruler of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

In the 1950s, the Fangshan restaurant and hotel opened in the building, offering “emperor’s dishes.” Taking advantage of the historical setting, the hotel, which boasted a lake view, earned fame by providing customers with a taste of Qing luxury. It had 11 small private dining rooms.

Thai tourism to strengthen links with agriculture sector

The Thai tourism industry is to forge stronger links with the kingdom’s agriculture economy by promoting the culinary delights of the globally-renowned Thai cuisine, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn has said.

Food in Thailand is renowned around the world for the freshness of its ingredients, produced by the nation’s farmers.

Addressing more than 500 tourism industry executives at the summary session of the TAT Action Plan (TATAP) 2018, the Governor said this linkage would go long way towards creating jobs and prosperity in both of Thailand’s leading economic sectors.

The Governor said, “This is a proactive approach under which TAT wants to use Thai food as its main product. Encouraging both Thai and foreign tourists to enjoy Thai food, especially home-grown products, not only increases the average expenditure per visitor, but also generates downstream benefits for suppliers of culinary ingredients and equipment. Ultimately, our farmer brothers will be the primary beneficiaries of the government’s objectives.”

He said the strategy also fits in with the marketing slogan of promoting a Unique Thai Local Experience under the Thailand 4.0 concept.

Mr. Yuthasak added, “The importance of Thai food is not only limited to being a product that contributes to economic growth, nor is it just because Thai food is a well-known global product because of its excellent taste. In fact, the wonders of Thai food can be traced back to the very livelihoods of the Thai people and wisdom of our ancestors. Thai food also tells great stories of the country’s history, culture and heritage.

“TAT is ready to make everyone see the value of Thai food. For the Thai people, Thai food is more than just a means of filling the stomach, but a source of national pride.”

He said the culinary delights of each province would also be highlighted under the Amazing G-Link programme, an extension of The Link project, which is designed to promote secondary provinces and decongest the well-established, popular destinations.

The Governor said that research showed that visitors are keen to save on airfares and accommodation but are happy to spend on food and beverage.

Agriculture has long been a bedrock economic sector for Thailand, one of the world’s leading rice exporters. Today, tourism is seen as a more promising ‘sunrise’ industry, and an important source of jobs and income distribution.

The TATAP 2018 is a comprehensive strategy designed to maintain a strong flow of visitors in a highly competitive environment. Its overarching slogan is to ensure that Thailand remains a Preferred Destination and a delivers a Quality Product, thus boosting the average length of stay, expenditure and repeat visitation.

The Governor also announced that in 2018, TAT will open offices in Toronto, Canada and Sao Paulo, Brazil, as well as join the Sao Paulo Fashion Week to present Thai designers at the global level.

He also noted that 2018 would get off to a good start with Thailand hosting the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) in January in Chiang Mai. This will help reinforce Thailand’s image as a hub of intra-ASEAN Connectivity and promote more intra-ASEAN travel.

Overall, the marketing strategy is designed to ensure that the Thai brand image remains strong in a highly competitive environment. It will also become more niche-market oriented with highly focused campaigns targeted at specific demographic and customer segments in specific markets at specific periods.