Saturday, 19 August 2017

Disneyland Railroad Engineers Share Excitement for Return of Classic Attraction

The Disneyland Railroad has officially resumed its grand circle tour of Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom! The return of this classic attraction has been highly anticipated by Disneyland park fans eager to experience the beautiful new waterfront and updates along the Rivers of America. Among some the most excited fans, in fact, are the cast members who engineer and care for the historic steam engines.

Robert Rodriguez and Craig Ludwick are on the team of knowledgeable engineers working on the Disneyland Railroad. Both are experts on the engines and have passion for sharing Walt’s love of steam-powered travel.

“Any way we as cast members can inspire the guests to have a passion for these trains like Walt did, is fantastic,” Robert told us.

They have been busy the past few months preparing for the Disneyland Railroad to return to its 365-days-a-year operation. Both are excited for guests to join them on the rails and experience the new additions to this classic attraction. The Disneyland Railroad now travels across the rocks on a trestle that extends out along the Rivers of America.

When asked about his favorite new addition, Craig said, “Once our guests see those new waterfalls, lighting and the amazing stone work … you’re going to hear people say, ‘Oh, wow! Look at that!’” He’s also eager for guests to discover the breathtaking new view of Walt Disney’s iconic Dioramas of the Grand Canyon and Primeval World, which have been carefully restored to their original splendor with a bit of new magic added to both.

“I don’t want to give it away,” Craig says, “but you’re going to be amazed.”

GOLD COAST VOTED FAVOURITE AUSTRALIAN DESTINATION

Chinese travellers have overwhelmingly voted the Gold Coast as their favourite Australian holiday destination in the annual ‘Destination of the year’ awards.. 

The Gold Coast was the only Australian and the only Western destination to make the global top ten when presented by Ctrip, China's leading online travel agent, at a gala ceremony held in Shanghai. 

The award results were generated based on more than 50 million user comments, as well as online votes by over 3.6 million Chinese travellers. 

Gold Coast Tourism’s Chairman Paul Donovan said the recognition was testament to the years of strategic engagement with Chinese stakeholders by Gold Coast Tourism staff responsible for developing the China market.

“Together with industry and our destination stakeholders, we have invested a great deal of time and money in this market because we recognise the strong and increasing affection that Chinese travellers have for the Gold Coast’s coastal city lifestyle,” said Mr Donovan. “This is the biggest and most significant tourism industry survey in China and it is satisfying to see that the work undertaken by our China-based team has been so effective. Chinese visitors know the Gold Coast has it all and they are strongly attracted to our pristine natural assets such as our Hinterland and our beaches, our big blue skies, exceptional food, wine and shopping offerings. “However, without the right strategy you will always finish mid-field - to rank well ahead of major global cities like Paris and Sydney is remarkable. It is further proof we have matured significantly as a destination - which is reflected in the launch of our new Marketing Strategy and Brand”. 

The Ctrip top ten were:
  1. Phuket
  2. Seoul\
  3. Bangkok
  4. Gold Coast
  5. Bali
  6. Singapore
  7. Chiang Mai
  8. Jeju
  9. Maldives
  10. Tokyo 

The Gold Coast attracts more than 27% of Australia’s Chinese visitors, increasing by 33% in FY16. 

Independent of the survey, Ctrip also nominated the Gold Coast as one of the ten most preferred destinations for the FIT (Free and Independent Traveller).  

“The Chinese FIT sector prefers the Gold Coast because these travellers are able to get a sense of community and integrate into our lifestyle during their stays. We provide the ultimate experience because we welcome the modern global traveller,” he said. 

City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said he wasn’t surprised by the remarkable figures coming out of China. “We have worked heavily to promote the idea that the Gold Coast is just 'one sleep' from mainland China, as far as direct flights go,” said Mayor Tate. "The work done via our Mayoral missions to China and the UAE is paying dividends, backed by exceptional work led by Gold Coast Airport and Gold Coast Tourism." 

Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones welcomed the news that the Gold Coast had topped the list of Chinese travellers’ favourite destinations. “It’s no wonder the Gold Coast has been rated as the favourite destination among Chinese travellers, with our relaxed lifestyle, iconic beaches, warm weather and open skies luring around 295,000 visitors to the Coast from China last year,” Ms Jones said. “I’m so pleased our Chinese friends now know what we’ve always known – that Queensland is by far the best tourism destination in Australia. 

“Last year we saw Chinese visitor numbers surpass the number of New Zealand tourists visiting Queensland, making China our largest international market for the first time ever. “In total we welcomed 485,000 visitors from China to Queensland in 2016, which was up more than 33% on the previous year. “This was a real turning point for us because it reaffirmed that the future of our tourism industry is absolutely linked to the growing Chinese market. “This shows that our Government’s investment in growing the Chinese market is paying off and is the right thing to do because it’s supporting jobs and growing our economy.” 

Ms Jones said the Gold Coast recorded a 16% increase in international visitors in the year ending September 2016, which was a record high. “We’re seeing really strong growth in a number of Asian markets including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, with visitor expenditure on the Gold Coast increasing to a $1.3 billion,” she said.

Nine Must-Visit Places in Tianjin

Haihe River
Tianjin is the largest port city in northern China, and one of China’s four municipalities directly under the Central Government. Tianjin has historically been an important port and doorway to Beijing, being 120 kilometers (75 miles) away from the capital. By bullet train from the Beijing Southern Railway Station, it now takes just 40 minutes to get there.

The blend of Chinese and Western cultures also forms Tianjin’s distinctive tourism resources. Known as one of the most outstanding tourist cities in China, Tianjin never loses its appeal to visitors – from mountains, rivers, lakes and the sea to springs, wetlands and local delicacies.

Here are nine of the top places to visit in the city.

1. Haihe River

As the mother river and symbol of Tianjin, the Haihe River runs through the city and out to the Bohai Sea. A total of 21 bridges cross the Haihe River and each is scenic attraction, forming a distinctive bridge culture throughout the region. Rising over the spectacular Yongle Bridge is the Tianjin Eye, an iconic ferris wheel which lights up the city every night.

2. Five Big Avenues: A hub of international architecture

Wudadao, known as the Five Big Avenues, is an international architecture exposition in Tianjin, with about 2,000 villas in various Western styles, built in the 1920s and 1930s. More than 300 late residences of historical figures are located in the area, including former Olympic champion Li Airui, late president of the United States Herbert Hoover, and former U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall. For history lovers, dropping in a visit to the Historical Museum of the Five Avenues helps to get an overall understanding of the history of the area, and also a closer look at about 1,000 items used by the prominent residents who lived in the buildings.

3. The Taida Aircraft Carrier Theme Park

As a national 4A level tourist attraction, the Taida Aircraft Carrier Theme Park is a large military amusement park located in the Binhai New Area. The area integrates marine military culture and Russian culture, with Kiev, the retired aircraft carrier from the Russian navy, being the park’s biggest draw. Over the past ten years, the tourist attraction has seen an increasing number of visitors. During the three-day Qingming Festival in April 2017, more than 40,000 people visited the park, a 20 percent increase compared to the same time last year, which also set a new record.

4. Cross Talk Tea Houses

For Tianjin locals, sitting in a tea house enjoying cross talk shows while eating sunflower seeds and sipping tea is a common form of entertainment at night. The Mingliu Tea House, also known as the Celebrities Tea House, is just one example, offering cross talk performances every day. The entertainment hub was first built in 1991, and was designed by the wife of a Chinese literary giant, Lao She. The plaque of the teahouse was also personally inscribed by Ma Sanli, a famous Chinese crosstalk artist.

5. The Yangliuqing New Year Painting Museum

The Yangliuqing New Year Painting Museum showcases traditional Chinese New Year paintings as well as its history and masterpiece artworks, and demonstrates procedures to create the traditional way of painting. The famous folk wood carving painting first began in the old town of Yangliuqing during the mid-Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when locals portrayed their hopes for a better life with knives and paint brushes, using wood plates as canvases. A typical Yangliuqing New Year painting portrays a chubby child holding a big fish, wishing for an affluent New Year. The paintings are usually hung on walls and doors to seek blessings during the lunar New Year.

6. The Huangyaguan Great Wall

The Huangyaguan Great Wall, 42 kilometers long, is a World Cultural Heritage and a national 4A level scenic spot. The wall was first built in the Beiqi Dynasty (550-577), and rebuilt and expanded in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

7. The Panshan Mountain

The Panshan Mountain, a national 5A-level scenic spot, was once listed among the top 15 tourist attractions in China. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) visited the location more than 30 times, which has made it a must-see destination for both hikers and history lovers. The resort now also offers aerial trips on helicopters, charging 880 yuan ($130) per person for one trip.

8. The Ancient Cultural Street

The Ancient Cultural Street is a commercial strip filled with a wide variety of shops selling traditional folk handicrafts, including the Yangliuqing New Year paintings and the Niren Zhang painted sculptures. The 680-meter long street features buildings of traditional Chinese styles in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). In the center of the street stands an old opera tower, which can be traced back to the 15th century.

9. The Florentia Village Outlets

The Florentia Village Outlets, located on the outskirts of Tianjin, is a high-end mall featuring more than 200 outlet stores for fashion brands including Prada, Bvlgari, Celine, Chloe, Fendi and Jimmy Choo, among others. The outlets boast the “ultimate shopping experience” since its opening in 2011, with discounted prices all year round. It also features Italian-style architecture, as well as Italian and international cuisines.

Source: China Daily

CNN Travel readers list seven Thai dishes among Worlds 50 Best Foods

Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor said, “We’re thankful for all the votes – a testament to the already solid reputation of the Amazing Thai Taste, which is part of our foodie tourism initiative to motivate tourists and foodies to embark on a culinary journey to taste signature Thai dishes in renowned venues across Thailand as the way to explore Thainess through food.”

The latest CNN Travel World’s 50 Best Foods list was compiled based on the votes of 35,000 readers via a Facebook poll. The seven Thai dishes in the list are Tom Yum Kung in fourth place, Phat Thai (fifth), Som Tam Papaya Salad (sixth), Massaman Curry (10th), Green Curry (19th), Chicken Fried Rice (24th) and Mu Nam Tok or spicy minced pork salad (36th).

According to CNN Travel writer, Tim Cheung, the original World’s 50 Best Foods article, which was released in 2011 “stimulate some impassioned debate about the conspicuous lack of French dishes and the merits of ketchup over mayonnaise” and so the online publication “threw it open to a vote on a Facebook poll.”

Mr. Yuthasak said, “With seven Thai dishes voted into this influential list shows how Thai Cuisine is increasingly perceived as a world-class culinary experience and Thailand a great destination for foodie tourism.

TAT plays a large role in promoting Thai Cuisine through several initiatives, including launching the Amazing Thai Taste campaign in 2016, publishing several publications about Thai dishes and ingredients and the best places to find them, and sponsoring a large number of food based events around the world.

This year, TAT has entered into a partnership with Michelin Travel Partner to publish a Michelin Guide Bangkok as well as with Gault & Millau to publish a bilingual Thailand guidebook in the Gault & Millau Belux 2018 edition. In May 2018, Thailand will host the UNWTO Conference on Gastronomy Tourism.

RIVERSIDE THEATRES PRESENTS THE PREMIER ARTS FESTIVAL FOR CHILDREN

- SPOT ON CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL -

Riverside Theatres has compiled some of the best children’s entertainment from around the country for its sixth annual Spot On Children’s Festival, presented during the school holidays from 26th to 30th September.

The 2017 program is guaranteed to satisfy children who are bursting with curiosity, and their parents who are dreading finding the answers to endless questions! The jam-packed program of theatre, film, music and free events, will provide a smorgasbord of ideas, knowledge and inspiration to all!

Kicking off the program will be stories from the much-loved picture book character by Ted Prior, Grug and the Rainbow from Windmill Theatre Co. Featuring exquisite puppetry and gentle storytelling, this new show has been especially created for the littlest theatregoers (ages one to five) and those who just love Grug.

Crowd favourite, The Listies, will return to the Festival with their best-smelling book adapted for the stage, Ickypedia. This seriously silly show answers all of life’s unimportant questions, and mixes clowning, slapstick and improvised chaos with a bucket load of theatrical invention.

From Parramatta to China, audiences will embark on a magic journey with narrator and musician, Nicholas Ng. Combining stunning puppets, masks, sword dancing and live music from traditional Chinese instruments, The Descendants of the Dragon will delve into the classic Chinese myth of the dragons that live in the Eastern Ocean.

What happens when the sun and moon stay up all night together? The production Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon will attempt to find the answer with a star-spangled theatre rock party to delight audiences, with original music inspired by everything from folk to funk, disco and pop.

A visual spectacular will be on offer when Dislocate perform Curiosity, a theatrical collision between the worlds of Circus Oz, Dr Seuss and Alice in Wonderland! With aerial and acrobatic feats including chair balancing, stilts, ladder routines and original song and dance – this is a show not to be missed.

The much-loved Little Wing Puppets returns to Riverside to present the interactive production, A Little Bit of Blue, exploring the world of the iconic Australian Bowerbird through puppetry and clowning. While the gang from the hit ABC Kids television series will present their energetic and fun new show, SplashDance Live – Let’s Bop! featuring songs by the multi award-winning musical maestro, John Field (writer of more than 400 hits for The Wiggles).

Once again the Festival will screen a fantastic program of children’s films for the bargain ticket price of $10, including Beauty and the Beast Sing-A-Long, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, The Lego® Batman Movie and anime Wolf Children. The Festival’s program also includes a special screening of a live performance captured for the screen by Australian National Theatre Live, Rumpelstiltskin starring Paul Capsis.

In 2017, the Spot On Children’s Festival continues its dedication to relaxed performances which sees the traditional rules of theatre dismissed to cater for young audiences with anxiety or additional needs; as well as Auslan Interpreted and Audio Described performances, and Autism Spectrum guides. During relaxed performances, the theatre lights will be kept on, children can meet the performers before the show, and there are no rules on entering or leaving the theatre throughout the performance.

Rounding out the bumper Spot On program will be a variety of free activities including a dance-along radio show, Together Time Live! presented by Kinderling Kids Radio, a Courtyard Party with live bands, a reading tent presented by Parramatta Library, balloon twisters, face-painting, craft activities, a play gym, book tent and more.

The 2017 Spot On Children’s Festival program is available via the Riverside Theatres website at: rshow.biz/spoton17

Spot On Children’s Festival

Dates: 26th to 30th September
Tickets: Single Tickets Free to $26. Discounts available for Riverside Members and Families of 4. From the Box Office (02) 8839 3399 or www.riversideparramatta.com.au
Venue: Riverside Theatres – Corner of Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
Recommendation: Children aged 1-13 years

Full Program:

· Grug and the Rainbow – 10am and 12pm on 26 and 27 Sept
· The Listies Ickypedia – 10.30am and 1pm on 26 and 27 Sept
· Beauty and the Beast Sing-a-Long – 10.30am on 26 Sept
· Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul – 4.15pm on 26 Sept
· Rumpelstiltskin – 1.30pm on 26 Sept; 4pm on 30 Sept
· Together Time Live! – 11am on 26 Sept
· Parramatta Library’s Reading Tent – 9.30am to 2pm from 26 - 30 Sept
· Free Activities – 9.30am to 2pm from 26 - 30 Sept
· NIDA Open Spring Holiday Workshop – 10am to 4pm from 26 - 28 Sept
· Descendants of the Dragon – 10.15am and 12.30pm on 27 and 28 Sept
· Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon – 2pm on 28 Sept; 10am and 12.15pm on 29 Sept
· Curiosity – 2pm on 28 Sept; 10.30am and 1pm on 29 Sept
· Courtyard Party – 11.30am on 28 and 29 Sept
· A Little Bit of Blue – 10.15am and 12.30pm on 29 and 30 Sept
· SplashDance Live – Let’s Bop! – 10.30am on 30 Sept
· The Lego® Batman Movie – 11am on 30 Sept
· Wolf Children – 4pm on 30 Sept

Womens Journey Thailand 2017 Campaign launched to boost female visitors

H.E. Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul (centre, left),
Minister of Tourism and Sports,
and Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn (centre, right), TAT Governor,
joined by well-known celebrities and bloggers from all around the world
Fifty-six well-known women celebrities and bloggers from all around the world attended the Women’s Journey Thailand 2017 Campaign launched to boost female visitorsat a gala welcome reception at Nai Lert Heritage House in the heart of Bangkok.

Organised for the second year by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the event was presided over by H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, and joined by Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor. The month-long campaign is designed to attract international and local female travellers to visit Thailand and enhance the kingdom’s positive image as one of Asia’s most female friendly destinations.

The global female celebrities and bloggers appointed representatives of “The Lady Celebrities to Thailand” and “The Lady Bloggers to Thailand” projects who are in Thailand for the launch are Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015; So-Hyun Kim, a famous Korean actress; Tanya Sharma, an actress from India; two representatives of Nogizaga 46, a Japanese female idol group; Li Zhenying, Miss Universe China 2016; Anika Morjaria, a famous Indian moderator and presenter; Hadia Ghaleb, an Egyptian fashionista; Naeema Al Maqbali, an actress, moderator, and social media influencer; Oman; Ho Ngoc Ha, a singer, actress, and model, Vietnam; Vaniphone Phumexay, Miss Vientiane 2017; Ei Kywat Khaing, Miss Myanmar World 2017; Do My Linh, Miss Vietnam 2016; Esma Voloder, Miss World Australia 2017 and 4 runner-ups; Mary Ornborg, Editor in Chief, First Class Magazine, and Lottie Knutson, a Swedish journalist, photographer, and writer.

TAT has launched a special “Women’s Journey Thailand” mobile app, which can be downloaded after registering for the access code. Registrants will get a “Welcoming Package” including such “goodies” as a free welcome drink by Coffee World, 7-days free Sim Card with WiFi by DTAC, and 300 Baht discount by Grab Taxi.

They will also get:
– 20% discount at King Power Duty-free Shops (except the airport branch)
– Special airfare for the domestic sector, starting from 1,290 Baht by Bangkok Airways
– Special car rental fee by Thai Rent A Car (499 Baht/day)
– 500 Baht discount voucher by the Siam Discovery Department Store (for women visitors)
– Free ice-cream cone by McDonalds Thailand (only during August 2017)

Thailand has recorded a significant rise in female visitors over the past few years.

Mrs. Srisuda Wanapinyosak, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing – Asia and South Pacific said, “Today women are significant decision makers and influential with high-spending power. With a full range of products and services that can serve women’s needs, Thailand can definitely be the ideal destination. The Women’s Journey Thailand campaign will showcase how women travellers can enjoy these products and services at very attractive prices when they visit Thailand in August.”

TAT is launching many other activities as part of the campaign including the Lady Golf Challenge, Lady Celebrities to Thailand, Thailand through Her Eyes, Lady in Thai Fabrics, and Lady Bloggers.

TAT has also appointed Ms. Nattaya Boonchompaisarn, or Grace, the winner of The FACE Thailand Season 3, as an honorary representative to inspire female travelers all around the world to explore the variety of quality products and services the country has to offer for this segment.

TAT has classified the products and services for women travellers into seven categories: accommodation (hotels and resorts); health, beauty and spa services; shopping malls, dining and restaurants; recreation and entertainment; such as, theme parks; lifestyle activities; such as, handicraft workshops and fitness, and transportation services; such as, airlines and car rentals.

Full details regarding products, services and travel deals on the “Women’s Journey Thailand” website, please click: https://womensjourney.tourismthailand.org/

Download the special “Women’s Journey Thailand” mobile app at App Store and Play Store

PORT MACQUARIE SHOWCASED TO MORE THAN 665,000 ON INSTAGRAM

Port Macquarie has been showcased to potential visitors around the world, with seven leading Australian Instagram influencers visiting the region this week.

The campaign activity was secured by the State’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, in partnership with Port Macquarie Hastings Council.

The images will entice audiences to take a journey through the maze at Bago Vineyards, the hinterland village of Comboyne, Bago Bluff National Park, Camden Haven, Diamond Head National Park, Lighthouse Beach, Dunbogan Boatshed as well as the famous Town Beach.

HCM City among best cities for solo travel

Ho Chi Minh City is ranked second among 10 cities that are ideal for solo travel by the US-based online marketplace and hospitality service Airbnb.

Booking for single guests in HCM city has jumped by 146 percent since the start of 2017, according to the Airbnb. The city is viewed as a place of peace, hospitality and dynamism, with various types of service and reasonable prices.

International tourist arrivals to HCM City reached 2.8 million in the first half of this year, a 14.7 percent year-on-year increase, according to the municipal People’s Committee.

During the period, the city’s revenue from tourism services also saw a yearly rise of 12 percent to an estimated 53.61 trillion VND (2.35 billion USD).

Friday, 18 August 2017

Les Miserables - a great night at the theatre in Newcastle

Luke Baker (Marius)
Chloe Jeffrey-Williams (Cosette)
Stephanie Priest (Eponine) 
A 40 year anniversary is something special. The Metropolitan Players in Newcastle Australia are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year by doing something special. They are presenting Les Miserables, the musical inspired by the book written by Victor Hugo.

Les Miserables is the longest running musical on the West End theatre district in London and is the second longest running musical in the world.

I was fortunate to attend the opening charity night at he Civic Theatre last Wednesday with my two adult children enjoying the musical just as much as me. This was the first time I have seen a show at The Civic Theatre. What a gorgeous ornate theatre it is!

The singing and orchestra were great during this three hour show. The time went quickly as you became wrapped up in the story lines of the musical. The orchestra, in the orchestra pit under the stage, was not hidden away in darkness but was lit so that you could see the talented musicians.

Chris Maxfield, who played Valjean, was the standout star of the show with his superb singing and acting. He mastered his ageing on stage well as he recalled the events during his life up until his death.

Javert, the police comissionere was played by Simon Redhead. Simon acted well in his serious role and had a strong singing voice, but unfortunately it sometimes sounded harsh and distorted. Perhaps this was a bad positioning of his mic, or its volume being turned up too loud.

Luke Baker played Marius, the revolutionary fighter and young lover with sensitivity.

The three main female roles were well cast. Rachel Parish played Fantine, Stephanie Priest played Eponine and Chloe Jeffrey-Williams played Cosette. They all sang with sensitivity and passion and made the female characters very believable.

Light comic releif was provided by Thenardier, played by Tony Fletcher and Mme Thenardier, played by Annie Devine. The musical was quite sad in some places, moving some of the audience to tears, so these humorous moments brightened it up.

The three children in Les Miserables - Timothy Davies (Gavroche),  Frankie Parris (Young Cosette) Zamika Grant (Young Eponine) were excellent. The sang and acted way above their young years of age.

The male and female ensembles sang well together in their supporting roles. 

The sets were effective by their minimalisict style. Most of the action of Les Miserables took place on a dark stage with just a black wall as the background.. The large black revolving stage brought into view the few set pieces - a chair, a bed, a table, garden gates ....  Even though the revolving stage was round, this was not a theatre-in-the-round performance. The singers must remember to look less to the sides of the stage, or down into the orchestra pit, and more to where the audience is seated - out in front of them.

The featured set piece was the barricade that played an important role in the battle scene. It looked effective on stage, but its weigh proved to be a little too much for its swift sliding off stage when it was finished with. A bit of fine tuning will make its removal less distracting in future performances.

Lighting consisted mainly of spotlights shining down on the featured singers as they sang alone, with another person or in groups. There was no part of Les Miseables where the entire stage was brightly lit. Occasionally light patterns were projected onto the floor of the stage, and stars shone in the night sky.

Sound production was on the whole good, though there were a few occasions when mics were turned on a little late for the singers, or the volume was a bit too soft or too loud. I am sure these matters will be rectified in the upcoming performances.

The costumes and wigs looked really good and helped set the musical in the right French time period. The bright costumes contrasted well with the drab plain costumes.

The audience on the opening night loved this 40th anniversary production of Les Miserables. The production was a credit to all the singers, musicians and people behind the scenes. They all worked hard, perhaps a little too hard, to put on this great musical. All they need to do now is try and relax a little so that they enjoy the musical as much as the audience does.

Les Miserables is a must see musical for all who live in Newcastle. It is even worth the drive for those who live further afield.

The Metropolitan Players are to be congratulated on this 40th anniversary production of Les Miserables.

Les Miserables

When:  Fri 18th Aug 8pm,  Sat 19th Aug 2pm , Sat 19th Aug 8pm,  Sun 20th Aug 2pm,  Wed 23rd Aug 8pm,  Fri 25th Aug 8pm,  Sat 26th Aug 2pm,  Sat 2 6th Aug 8pm. 
Where: Civic Theatre 375 Hunter St., Newcastle
Cost: Adult $66.30; Junior/Conc/Student $56.10 ; Groups 8+ $58.15

StellaLou, Duffy’s Newest Friend, Dances Her Way to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

Dancers, dreamers and Duffy fans – I’m delighted to share an update that Duffy’s newest friend, StellaLou, has danced her way to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. This little lavender rabbit with cute ears and starry eyes has been delighting guests at Tokyo DisneySea since Duffy first met herin front of the S.S. Columbia at American Waterfront, where StellaLou told Duffy her dream of becoming a dancer on Broadway.

Starting today, StellaLou will join her friends at Hong Kong Disneyland in the photo zone of Main Street Cinema: My Journeys with Duffy – Presented by Fujifilm to share her dream of becoming a dancer with guests of all ages.

To welcome StellaLou, more than 150 new and exclusive plush toys, stationary, pins, accessories and more are being introduced, along with specially themed food and beverage items. Personally, I can’t wait to try the StellaLou Steamed Sweet Purple Potato Bun served at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel’s Crystal Lotus restaurant. It sounds delicious!

Join us in welcoming StellaLou, and keep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more from Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

Australian tourists spending more than ever before in Queensland

Australian domestic overnight travellers are spending more than ever before in Queensland pumping $15.3 billion into the state economy.

Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones said the latest Tourism Research Australia data released today showed continuing strong growth in visitor numbers and expenditure.

“The growth we have seen in expenditure of 5.8 per cent is nearly double the growth rate of New South Wales,” Ms Jones said.

“More Australians are choosing to holiday in Queensland with close to half of our domestic market expenditure – $7 billion – coming from people holidaying in the state.

“Australians know just the place to holiday – here in Queensland with our unique experiences, natural wonders, world-class events and unbeatable hospitality.

“In the year to March we saw Australians take more than 21 million trips to Queensland over the past year, a growth of 4.3 per cent, exceeding the national average of 3.1 per cent.

“Those visitors stayed a total of 83 million nights, up 5 per cent.”

Ms Jones said business visitors to Queensland grew more than 10 per cent and business expenditure up by almost 5 per cent.

“The strong growth we are seeing in our business travel to Queensland is a strong vote of confidence in our state economy and a strong sign of state’s growing capacity to provide exceptional business events,” she said.

“Business travellers are looking for much more than just a venue, they are looking for the whole package in terms of location, experience and hospitality – and Queensland delivers in spades in all of these areas.”

Queensland has also seen 5.2 per cent growth in the number of travellers visiting friends and family to 7.39 million.

Regional Queensland performed well, with about three quarters of expenditure in Queensland coming from outside Brisbane.

The latest National Visitor Survey (NVS) results are available on the Tourism Research Australia website at www.tra.gov.au

Silk Road International Tourism Festival in Gansu


The Seventh Dunhuang Tour on the Silk Road International Tourism Festival was held in Gansu Province this June. The festival was co-hosted by China National Tourism Administration and Gansu Province, guided by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and has been successfully staged for seven consecutive years since 2011. 

 Leaders from international tourism organizations and China National Tourism Administration have attended the each of the past sessions, and each festival has attracted more than two hundred tourism administrators, tourist agencies, and journalists from overseas. The festival, offering a diversity of spectacular and practical attractions and information, has become an international platform to promote international tourism cooperation.

The Seventh Dunhuang Tour on the Silk Road International Tourism Festival was held in Yongjing County, Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province from 19th to 20th June, 2017. The main activities included: opening ceremony, 2017 Silk Road International Tourism Promotion Night, “Glamorous River, Colorful Linxia” Light Show, Silk Road International Tourism Exposition, Silk Road International Travel Agencies Conference and technical tour, and more. 

In attendance were many administrators of international tourism organizations, tourism officials of the countries along the Silk Road, and representatives from across the tourism industry in and outside China.

Tourism Authority of Thailand scores big with Tuk Tuk at Hungarian Formula 1

At the Formula 1 race in Budapest, Hungary in July 2017, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) displayed an icon of Thailand – a 34-year-old Tuk Tuk that had been driven from Bangkok to Prague.

Mr. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications said, “This little tuk-tuk was fondly nicknamed ‘the Beast’ by the Hungarian media given her age, history and stamina, and the sheer crowd-appeal was well beyond our expectations.”

“This Tuk-tuk and the man that drove her across two continents, Mr. Martin Mĕchura, is a highlight of the Hungarian F1 Village. The Amazing Thailand Pit Stop design that we have created in this, our fourth F1 event, evidently works well,” he added.

“I was so happy to see so many European F1 fans coming up to our team at the Amazing Thailand Pit Stop at Hungarian Formula 1 expressing not only their delight that we were there but also sharing their stories of their travels to the Kingdom,” said Mr. Chattan.

Mr. Martin Mĕchura, who hails from the Czech Republic, received a round of applause when he started up the tuk-tuk after an 18-month hiatus.

The appearance of the Thai vehicle at the F1 was to promote the fun of driving in Thailand, as well as underlining the uniqueness of Thai culture and the Thai way of life, which always contain an element of fun and relaxation.

FUSION OF RIVERINA ART & FOOD

Griffith restaurant Limone Dining will host a special art series event this September to celebrate the forthcoming exhibition of local sculptor, Hape Kiddle.

Stories, process and inspirations will be shared directly from the artist and chef as diners experience an exclusive first look at the artworks while enjoying a thoughtful and interactive flow of fine food and service.

The art series dinners are being offered over four nights from 26 to 29 September, ahead of the official exhibition opening on Saturday, 30 September.

Click here for more details.

World News Vietnamese wins prize at int’l flycam photography contest

Vietnamese photographer Le Thai Duong, nicknamed helios1412, won second prize in the category “People” in the International Drone Photography Contest, an annual competition for flycam photography enthusiasts around the world.

The organizing committee has announced winners of the fourth contest on its website (www.dronestagr.am). Duong’s photo “Waterlily” depicts a woman harvesting water lilies in a pond in the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu.

The panel of judges comprises Patrick Witty, deputy director of National Geographic Magazine, and photo editors of the magazine.

Held for the first time in 2014, this year’s drone contest received thousands of entries in the Nature, People, Urban and Creativity categories from professional and amateur photographers from around the world.

FASHIONS ON THE FIELD – BIRDSVILLE STYLE

  • Fashion dos and don’ts for the Melbourne Cup of the Outback

The trackside glamour usually reserved for metropolitan race meets will embellish outback Queensland when the Birdsville Races kick off this September 1 & 2, 2017.

Known to many as the ‘Melbourne Cup of the Outback’, the iconic 135 year-old Races are staged against the spectacular backdrop of the red Simpson Desert, with the colour and couture of Fashions on the Field (FOTF) an annual highlight.

“Birdsville is the most remote town in Australia, with more than 7,000 visitors travelling thousands of kilometres to attend the Races each September. And with no beauty facilities like hairdressers or manicurists in town – and the lack of a high street with boutiques or fashion retailers – planning ahead is important,” saysBirdsville Races Fashions on the Field coordinator, Olivia O’Neill.

“Our FOTF judges look for unique outfits that either throw the current trends out the window or follow them with such precision and style that they blow them out of the water.

“Whatever race meet you’re attending, I would suggest checking the race club conditions of entry for any FOTF. For the Birdsville Races, stockings are not essential as the weather is lovely and warm this time of year.

“Given that our event takes place on the first weekend of September, I would also suggest incorporating spring colours,” added Olivia O’Neill.

With FOTF becoming an increasingly popular feature of the Birdsville Races, Olivia shares some of her fashion dos and don’ts:

Dos for the ladies

“Decide what the feature of your outfit is,” says Olivia. “Is it your headpiece or dress?

“If you’re planning on wearing a hat in spring, you should aim for a straw hat and one that’s very lightweight and summery.

“When it comes to shoes, be practical. The trend at the moment is the block heel, which has better support and might offer more comfort on sandy and uneven ground like racegoers will experience in Birdsville.

“Open toe and strappy sandal styles are ideal for the warm weather in Birdsville and spring-styling. Just proceed with caution when wearing heals and think about where you will be spending your day at the races.

“The jury is out on whether you need to match your headpiece to your bag and shoes. After following the debate closely, my personal opinion is that your headpiece, shoes and bag should complement your finished look – however, they don’t have to match unless you feel the outfit needs it.

“Only follow a trend if it suits your style,” adds Olivia. “Otherwise, only adapt some of it by incorporating it into your style. Or opt for timeless elegance. Classic, ladylike styles with a modern twist are perennial winners.”

“Gloves are also popular and can help bring spring colour to an outfit,” says Olivia. “They are not, however, mandatory and will add to the warmth of an outfit in the hot temperatures of Birdsville. If you have had a week in Birdsville camping, gloves on your hands might be a welcome distraction from not having well-manicured fingernails.

“Grooming is an important part of any head to toe FOTF look,” Olivia notes. “Keep makeup and tan to a minimum. It is a race day - not a night event - so keep your eyes bright and the look fresh and natural.

“Lipstick can also help to tie everything together, especially when coordinated with your nail colour. And remember, nails in Birdsville will either need to be done by a professional before you hit town – a hard wearing shellac is ideal – or they’ll need to be a DIY project.”

“Do protect your outfit,” adds Olivia. “As Birdsville is a dusty dirt track, I’d recommend sourcing protection covers for your heels.

“Also, do your research. Jump on the Birdsville Races Facebook page for some inspiration on winning looks from last year’s finalists.”

Don’ts for the ladies

“Don’t over accessorise, keep it simple,” says Olivia. “Do, however, play with the textures of accessories to personalise a look.

“Also, be careful not to overexpose; balance your outfit. If you choose a short dress, keep the top covered and vice versa.

“Colour is also very important, especially at this time of year,” adds Olivia. “Try to avoid head-to-toe black.

“For winter-colour ladies, coming into this year’s Spring Carnival in Australia, I recommend keeping accessories away from your face to brighten your outfit – for example, your handbag and shoes.

“Also consider a belt, whether it be fabric or metals.”

Tips for the gents

“Guys are also invited to join our FOTF, so we’re hoping they’ll also get on-board with coordinating a special look for the races,” says Olivia. “We have a men’s and couples division.”

“A good quality suit always looks great, and men should purchase a suit that best fits their body type rather than just following a trend,” adds Olivia. “A slim fit suit isn’t for everyone!”

“Accessorising is also important,” Olivia says. “Consider a hat, tie, shirt, leather shoes, cufflinks, gloves, pocket handkerchief, belt, sunglasses and a watch.

Prizes for this year’s FOTF at the Birdsville Races include a range of vouchers from supporters including naming rights sponsor Akubra as well as Birdsnest, Charlotte’s Nest (Charleville), Panda Pearls, Birdsville Bakery, Outback Jack Designs (Longreach), Meredith McMaster Millinery, Mad Hatters, Target, Coca Cola and The Tack Room (Longreach).

This year’s Birdsville Races FOTF boasts the biggest prize and sponsorship pool on record, with a combined value of nearly $10,000.

The Birdsville Races are proudly supported by Tourism and Events Queensland It’s Live! In Queenslandmajor events calendar.

Birdsville Races

Where: Birdsville, Queensland
When: Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September 2017
How much: Two day packages start from AU$62.75
More info: www.birdsvilleraces.com
Road trip video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgPYvu7_ZfA

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Toy Story Land to Open at Walt Disney World Resort in Summer 2018

Many of you know that Toy Story Land is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios – we’ve shared several updates on this exciting project. Today, Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced that the land will open next summer!

In 2018, you’ll find yourself shrunk to the size of a toy to explore the world of Andy’s backyard with your favorite Toy Story characters, including Woody and Buzz. And Toy Story Land will feature two new themed attractions.

Slinky Dog Dash will be a family coaster attraction where you’ll zip, dodge and dash around many turns and drops that Andy has created to really make Slinky and his coils stretch to his limits.

Alien Swirling Saucers will also be a new attraction at Toy Story Land. It’s designed as a toy play set that Andy got from Pizza Planet, inspired by the first “Toy Story” film. Aliens are flying around in their toy flying saucers and trying to capture your rocket toy vehicle with “The Claw.”

Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for more details on Toy Story Land.

Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers continues to bloom

Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones today announced a new partnership with Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers, securing the future of the popular event for the next three years.

Ms Jones said the new agreement locked in support from Tourism and Events Queensland for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 events.

“There is a reason the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is a multiple Gold award winner at the Australian Tourism Awards and we are proud to support it on an ongoing basis, as it goes from strength-to-strength,” she said.

“Tens of thousands of people flock to Toowoomba every year for the carnival to enjoy the Ergon Energy Food and Wine Festival, watch the Grand Central Floral Parade and take in a series of live concerts.

“But obviously above all else, they come for the more than 80 community flower-themed events and to explore more than 110 private garden showcases.”

Ms Jones said the support of Tourism and Events Queensland for a further three years would enable the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers to grow its position as one of Australia’s leading horticultural events which last year pumped more than $10 million into the Queensland economy.

“There is no better place than Toowoomba – our very own Garden City – to discover the best of Queensland’s horticultural history while also exploring the unique visitor experiences offered right across the Darling Downs,” she said.

“This new strategic partnership will allow carnival organisers to focus on making the carnival bigger and better for the future.”

Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio said the new agreement gives the Carnival of Flowers an even stronger foundation for growth.

“Our community is so proud of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, Australia’s longest running horticultural festival as it continues to reach new heights,” he said.

“Our city comes alive each September as we host close to 200,000 event attendees who take in our natural beauty, gourmet delights and all that Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers has to offer.

“This latest boost from the State Government is further testament to the event’s strength and potential and I thank the Minister and TEQ for their faith in our carnival.”
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This year’s Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers runs from September 15-24.

PBS to Premiere Series Exploring "The Story of China"

America’s public television network PBS is set to begin airing The Story of China, a series in which historian Michael Wood traces the history of the world’s oldest continuous state from its ancient beginnings to the modern day. 

The six-part series will travel with the historian on a tour of the nation as he introduces viewers to its places, people and traditions.

 Its first half will look at China’s ancient myths and archaeology, follow the Silk Road and the spread of Chinese cultural influence under the Tang Dynasty, and catalogue the sometimes surprising number of key inventions that date from China’s Song Dynasty golden age. 

The story of The Forbidden City, The Great Wall and other nation-defining changes introduced during the Ming Dynasty will be the subject of another episode, the last empire under the Qing Dynasty gets a dramatic post-mortem in another, and then an examination of the 20th century tumult leading up the boom times of the last 30 years rounds out the series.

Check your local listings for series air dates.

Scone Literary Festival is ‘making connections’ with young readers in the Upper Hunter

To mark national Book Week Scone's floushing writer’s festival has released details of their program dedicated to our young readers and budding writers. In this fast paced digital age the Scone Literary Festival committee is passionate about encouraging their younger audience to ‘maintain the page’ so will once again be hosting a pre-school program at Scone Library on November 10.

Scone Literary Festival President Jan Sinclair said: “We are really excited to be releasing the details of our kids program this week to coincide with Book Week. It’s really important for children of all ages to experience the written word and to establish good reading habits from a very early age. The sessions will feature two authors, Jess Black and Lynn Jenkins and illustrator Kirrili Lonegran. The sessions will run back to back and be repeated so no one misses out and what’s more they are free to attend.”

In addition to the sessions at the Library UNLOAD will once again be running sessions for K-6 on the same day, and for High School aged students there is a writing competition to enter and win a prize pool of $1000. The competition is currently underway and entries close on 1 September. Stories need to be based around the festival theme of ‘Making Connections’ and need only be 500 words so hop onto http://www.sconewritersfestival.com.au/write-up and Write Up!

Scone Literary Festival mission: To promote books and to nurture a love of literature, learning and writing.

For more information and updates to the program visit: www.sconewritersfestival.com.au

New flights strengthen Thailands status as global aviation hub

Photo credit : Thai Airways
Five international airlines are expanding air access to Thailand with new flights from Beijing, Doha, Istanbul, Maldives, India’s Jaipur and Tiruchirappalli, and Singapore, strengthening the Kingdom’s status as a global aviation hub.

The new flights offer visitors greater convenience and more choice for point of entry when travelling to and from Thailand. The country’s aviation authorities continue to expand both flight frequency and international gateway destinations to handle growing traveller demand and the never-ending quest for new itineraries.

Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said, “Thailand has long been the key portal to Asia and global aviation hub. Steady passenger growth depends on more flights and finding new entry points to the country. These new flights provide visitors with more choice, flexibility and convenience when travelling or making connections to major cities around Thailand. We hope that the expanded air access boosts tourism arrivals.”

Scheduled flights to be added or recently started service during 2017 include:

Starting 27 March, this year, Thai Airways International has launched its ‘Phuket Express‘ service with four direct weekly Beijing to Phuket flights.

Since 1 June, this year, Qatar Airways has operated flights from Doha to Bangkok five days a week. The increased frequency, along with its double-daily Phuket flights and the five-month-old Krabi operations (four weekly flights), increase Qatar Airways departures from Thailand to Doha to 53 flights per week.

Turkish Airlines has launched the Istanbul to Phuket direct service on 17 July, 2017, starting with four weekly flights that will increase to daily during this coming winter. The airline started the Istanbul-Bangkok return service in 1989 and currently operates 14 flights per week.

Low-cost carrier Thai AirAsia will add daily Maldives flights from Bangkok to Male starting on 11 August, using Airbus A320 aircraft. The airline is also expanding its services to India with the Bangkok-Jaipur and Bangkok- Tiruchirappalli routes, each with four flights a week, starting on 29 September. The airline operates from Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport.

Another low-cost carrier Jetstar Asia will add four weekly flights from Singapore to Hat Yai return from 3 November, 2017, using 180-seat Airbus A320 aircraft. Bookings are currently available for purchase in Singapore.

Mr. Yuthasak added, “TAT has also signed a series of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with major international airlines aimed at strengthening tourism cooperation and boosting the number of visitor arrivals to Thailand.”

TAT recently inked MOUs with EVA Air to work on joint tourism promotion strategies for the US and Canada markets; with Etihad Airways to jointly promote travel to Thailand from the UAE, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Egypt, and Kuwait; with Qatar Airways for travellers from Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and Singapore Airlines’ important inbound markets including Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

BLUE MOUNTAINS GREAT WALKS

Great Walks of Australia collective has added Blue Mountains Grand Traverse by Auswalk as its latest member. The new walking holiday member brings the total number of walks in the program to 12, with 10 of those showcased in the new Signature Collection.

Blue Mountains Grand Traverse features a three day, two-night walking experience including transport to and from Sydney. It is the second Great Walks member in NSW.

Click here for further information on the Blue Mountains.

Da Nang hotel ranked high by travel magazine

Viet Nam’s InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula resort
was chosen among the ‘Top 100 Hotels in the World’
\(Photo courtesy of InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula)
Viet Nam’s InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula resort was chosen among the ‘Top 100 Hotels in the World’ in the 22th annual World’s Best Awards, announced by US tourism magazine Travel Leisure.

The World’s Best Awards 2017 are one of the most significant accolades in the travel industry, and this year proved to be much competitive. Over 300,000 readers participated in a survey to identify the best of the best in travel.

Highly praised for its stunning architecture, unique location and impeccable service, the resort is also ranked number five among the top 10 hotels in the South East Asia category.

“We are delighted to be recognised as one of the top resorts in the world by our discerning guests and readers of the prestigious luxury travel publication. We look forward to delivering even greater level of luxury experience to our guests who choose to stay with us,” the resort’s general manager, Juan Losada, said.

Suspended over mythical Monkey Mountain, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is one-of-a-kind resort that redefines the definition of luxury in Viet Nam, as well as throughout Asia, where the demand for luxury accommodation has never been greater.

Earlier this week, the resort was featured in the 100 list, editorial choice of best hotels in the world by World Travel Magazine, a Singapore-based luxury travel publication.

Over the years, the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort has firmly established itself as a familiar name in many top lists of the most respected publications, such as Conde Nast Traveler, CNN and Robb Report.

Falls Creek apartment special for late August

After significant snowfalls the natural depth at Falls Creek is now well above one metre.That'll ensure the alpine resort can offer good snow cover for skiers and boarders of all abilities plus every ski lift is operating.

Several families can stay in the snow from Sunday 27 August in a standard, well located self-contained apartment, from $91 per person per night. Plus an added bonus there's 20% off snow equipment hire.

The well-located Fall Creek Country Club apartment can accommodate eight guests. However, for few dollars more (about $15 per person) will allow the guests to upgrade to a three bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and a separate toilet and an outside balcony offering views of the ski lifts and snow-covered slopes.

The apartments have a full kitchen with stove, cooktop, microwave, fridge, large flat screen TV and DVD player – this means your family will have a holiday of a lifetime.

A huge feature of Falls Creek Country Club apartments is driveway access on arrival in Falls Creek (no expensive and time wasting oversnow transfers required), free access to its heated pool, spa and sauna and free Wi-Fi and an on-site restaurant

Call Falls Creek Country Club now to take advantage of this amazing offer! Direct bookings only. 03 57583391

www.fallscreekcountryclub.com.au
We STRONGLY recommend you purchase Travel Insurance to cover the loss of monies paid in the event of having to cancel your reservation

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge & Toy Story Land Models on Display Soon at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land currently under construction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the park is truly in the middle of an exciting transformation.

Today, we wanted to share another park update that will very soon give you a thrilling, up-close look at what’s to come at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The One Man’s Dream attraction is currently being reimagined into Walt Disney Presents, which like its predecessor, will continue showcasing historic items from Walt Disney’s history, such as sketches, photos and storyboards. But wait – Walt Disney Presents will also act as a preview center where guests explore what’s next for the park. Starting in mid-September, you’ll be able to view concept art, ride vehicle maquettes and a never-before-seen model for Toy Story Land. A portion of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge model also will be on display, as well as concept art for the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction.

The attraction will also continue to host greetings with characters like Star-Lord and baby Groot, plus special sneak previews of upcoming Disney films.

New festival of sailing a shore thing for Whitsundays

The Whitsundays’ reputation as a world-class sailing destination is riding high with Airlie Beach to be a host port for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in 2018.

Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones said the carnival was expected to attract more than 4000 visitors to the Whitsundays and generate more than $3 million for the local economy.

“The Whitsundays is a jewel in our tourism crown so for it to be confirmed as a host port for the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is another significant achievement,” she said.

“We all know the impact of Tropical Cyclone Debbie on this community but we also know the resilience and determination of the people and businesses in the Whitsundays.”

Airlie Beach will host the 12 yachts, their skippers and their international crew and supporters as the final stop of the Australian leg of the race, but the stopover will be complemented by a festival set to include a large scale welcome event, a regional rodeo and a spectacular lunch on the iconic Whitehaven Beach.

Under the deal, which has been signed off in England by the event’s legendary founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, the entire fleet of the Clipper Race will stopover in the Whitsundays in January for the week-long Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival.

Ms Jones said the carnival was supported by Tourism and Events Queensland.

“The Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival is an ideal way to remind the world that the region is open for business and will continue to be a favourite destination for sailing enthusiasts and nature lovers.

“We look forward to hosting the skippers and their crew, as well as family, friends and supporters of the race in Airlie Beach, providing some welcome respite and showing off the best of what Queensland has to offer.”

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said the region would embrace the carnival.

“Tourism Whitsundays, in conjunction with Whitsunday Regional Council and Tourism and Events Queensland, is pleased to be able to announce the welcome return of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race to the Whitsundays,” Mr Turner said.

“The economic contribution to the region, as a result of the sailors and their families coming here, will be significant and it will be a great opportunity to showcase the Whitsundays as a sailing destination to the whole world.”

Legendary yachtsman and founder of the Clipper Race, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the world in 1968-69, said the Whitsundays was the perfect host port for the race.

“The Whitsundays was an extremely popular stopover port during our last race, for the crew, supporters, and the Clipper Race team alike,” he said.

“A truly stunning location for our crew members and partners, and a perfect place to really relax and unwind midway through our intense race route.

“Being a Clipper 2017-18 Race Host Port will not only enable the Whitsundays region to host our international crew members but also to continue to promote itself and its beautiful surroundings to our global race community as a leading sailing and tourism destination in the Southern Hemisphere.”

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Wilcox said the carnival would showcase the diversity of experiences on offer in the region.

“Hosting the Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival presents an ideal opportunity for us to highlight and promote the regions many attractions and encourage visitors beyond just the headline locations of Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach for authentic Australian experiences,” he said.

The Whitsunday Clipper Race Carnival was secured through a partnership between Tourism and Events Queensland and the Whitsunday Regional Council together with Tourism Whitsundays and Abell Point Marina, where the fleet will be docked during the stopover.

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is held every two years and features 12 yachts sailed by more than 700 amateur crew in a 40,000 nautical mile race around the globe.

For more information visit www.whitsundayclipperrace.com.au

Xiamen Airlines Begins Los Angeles ‐ Xiamen Flights

A new route between Xiamen and Los Angeles on Xiamen Airlines made its debut on June 27. The airline is now serving the route three times per week with 787-9 aircraft. 

This is the airline’s second new U.S. route this year — the Fuzhou to New York flight launched in February. 

Xiamen Airlines is a member of the SkyTeam alliance and maintains the largest all-Boeing fleet in China.

International Convention Centre FERRY SERVICE

Captain Cook Cruises has commenced operating its new fast ferry route between the ICC Sydney, Barangaroo and Circular Quay.

To launch the new service a special offer of 10 trips for $5 is on sale until 16 August 2017.

Captain Cook has also introduced a ticketless travel pass system, including a special ‘ICC Delegate TravelPass’ for business event visitors.

Available as a two, three or five-day pass, the three and five-day options also include a free Harbour Story or Hop on Hop Off-Harbour Explorer cruise.

Click here for further information.

MBK Shopping Center launched Bangkok Buddy service

MBK Center has recently launched a ‘Bangkok Buddy’ service with an objective of providing memorable customer experience for local and international shoppers while shopping at one of the largest malls in the Thai capital.

The MBK Shopping Center Bangkok Buddy is available daily from 14.00 – 16.00 Hrs, and starts with a rendition of hip hop and Thai contemporary dance which is performed along with the hip hop, EDM tunes, combined with the Thai chorus and Thai instruments, including Ranat Ek (Alto xylophone), Ching (finger cymbals), drums, Kaen (reed mouth organ) and gong circles.

The music is exclusively arranged and produced for this performance. The performance is choreographed by D-Maniac Megacrew, Thai youth group whose love for hip hop brings them to the number five in 2016 World Hip Hop Dance Championship.

Following the daily dance routine to announce the start of the two-hour service, the Bangkok Buddy team will walk around the mall to greet shoppers and tourists as well as offer to provide any shopping or travelling assistance they may need, to ensure their maximum shopping experience.

MBK Shopping Center, found in 1985 as Mah-Boon-Krong, is one of the most famous malls located in the heart of Bangkok, at the Pathumwan Intersection. The eight-story mall has a usable area of 140,000 square meters, offering 150 eateries and over 2,500 shops and stalls selling everything an average visitor coming to Bangkok would want to buy. The centre has an average of 115,000 customers a day, including 35,000 tourists from all around the world.

Pathumwan Intersection is considered a shopping and dining paradise in Bangkok. Tourists going to MBK Shopping Centre normally combine the trip with a visit to nearby Siam Square, Siam Discovery, Siam Centre and Siam Paragon, all offering great shopping and dining experience.

Be Inspired at WTM London...

WTM London brings you the opportunity to meet the world under one roof and be inspired by travel industry leaders, trends and innovations. 

Attend over 80 events, including sessions with Terry Jones, Chairman of Wayblazer and Hari Nair, Global Senior Vice President of Expedia Media Solutions.
  • Discover new conference sectors featuring group travel and destination weddings. 
  • Experience cutting-edge products and solutions at The Travel Tech Show at WTM. This year with a focus on payment solutions, featuring dedicated suppliers such as eNett, Emerchant Pay, Wirecard, Guestline, Trekksoft and Kigo.
  • Learn from industry leaders during World Responsible Tourism Day, who will be discussing sustainable practices and driving the responsible tourism agenda.
  • Finally, join the party at the WTM Festivals, where destinations showcase their culture, music and cuisine. 

Complete your registration today to be inspired this November... 

Hoi An ranks among World’s Top 15 Cities: Travel & Leisure

Travel & Leisure has named the ancient town of Hoi An in the central province of Quang Nam among top 15 cities in the world.

In the World’s Best Cities list, Hoi An ranked the seventh place with scores of 90.31.

Asia continues to become the attractive destinations for visitors with seven cities named in the list including Hoi An (Viet Nam), Chiang Mai (Thailand), Kyoto (Japan), Ubud (Indonesia), Luang Prabang (Laos), Siem Reap (Cambodia) and Udaipar (India).

According to Travel & Leisure, these cities possess a green space friendly to pedestrians and a time-honoured history.