Friday, 23 June 2017

CIRCUS, COMEDY, CABARET… AND BEYONCÉ DARWIN FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES MASSIVE 2017 PROGRAM

Running over 18 tropical days this August (Thursday 10 – Sunday 27), Darwin Festival today announces a program of over 80 events, jam-packed with breathtaking performances, laugh out loud shows, immersive experiences and family fun.

The Northern Territory’s biggest cultural celebration brings together the very best in local, national and international talent for an action-packed season of performance and play. Highlights of the 2017 season include: Rock legends You am I, who will open the Festival; The Project’s resident funny man Tommy Little with his new show, Good Talk; the powerful new theatre piece, HART, detailing Australia’s treatment of the First People; A Beyoncé dance workshop and stellar music line-up that includes indie-darlings Dappled Cities and Felix Riebl, as well as award winning hip-hop duo A.B. Original..

Following sold out seasons at London’s West End, Brisbane Festival, Adelaide Fringe and the Sydney Opera House, 2017 Darwin Festival will also play host to Strut & Fret’s saucy new production BLANC de BLANC. Featuring the finest cabaret and acrobatic talent from around the world, BLANC de BLANC will play for the duration of the Festival in The Aurora Spiegeltent on Darwin’s Parliament Lawns.

Acting Artistic Director Felix Preval said, “We know people come to the Festival because they’re looking for experiences that are unusual and that they won’t find anywhere else. From intimate circus works to large cultural experiences, the programming for this year’s Darwin Festival is a reflection of the spirit of the Territory and the people who live here: cheeky, challenging and inventive.”

The Minister for Tourism and Culture, The Hon Lauren Moss said, “The Northern Territory Government is proud to support Darwin’s premier festival.

“The program this year is exciting and demonstrates the Festival’s broad appeal, and I encourage all Territorians to book their tickets without delay.

“Darwin Festival is a highlight on the annual major events calendar and always brings in large numbers of interstate and international visitors, providing a windfall for the tourism industry.

“I look forward to attending as much of the program as I can”

Tickets for the Darwin Festival are on sale 12 noon Thursday 22 June at www.darwinfestival.org.au

Quang Binh received two world record certificates for Son Doong Cave

Son Doong Cave (Photo: khoahoc.tv)
In the framework of Quang Binh Cave Festival 2017 held in Dong Hoi City, Quang Binh Province, Quang Binh Provincial People’s Committee received two world record certificates for Son Dong Cave in Son Trach Commune, Bo Trach District.

Accordingly, Son Doong Cave is certified as the largest cave and the most beautiful natural cave in the world by World Record Association and World Records Union.

Son Doong Cave was formed 2-5 million years ago, when the river flowed through the limestone mountain area and was buried. The water eroded limestone and created an underground tunnel. In soft limestone areas, the collapse of tunnel ceiling formed large holes which became giant domes afterward. The cave is about 200m high, 200m wide and at least 8.5km long. With these tremendous dimensions, Son Doong Cave is much larger than Deer Cave belonging to Gunung Mulu National Park in Malaysia (100m high, 90m wide, 2km long), and has replaced Deer Cave to take pole position as the world’s largest cave.

Especially, Son Doong consists of two entrances, which is unique among explored caves in Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. Exploring the cave, visitors were surprised with spectacular scenery of numerous stalactites of which some giant stalagmites are more than 70m high. Deep inside the cave exists a grandiose tropical jungle called “Garden of Eden” by the explorers. The jungle is home to a diversified system of fauna and flora. Besides, the cave possesses a 2.5km subterranean river with layers of shells agglomerated in the river bed. Not far from the “Garden of Eden” lies an enormous “pearl collection” consisting of tens of thousands of small stone pieces in dry ponds, contributing to magnificent beauty of the cave.

Since the publication in July 2009, Son Doong Cave has quickly drawn the attention of international mass media. The National Geographic Magazine (U.S) published some articles admiring the beauty of the cave. The cave was also voted by the BBC (U.K) as one of the most beautiful caves in the world.

Domestic visitors are staying longer and spending more in the Whitsundays

Visitors from around Australia are staying longer and spending more in the Whitsundays, according to new figures released yesterday (June 20).

The National Visitor Statistics for the year ending March 31, 2017, showed that while the actual number of visitors to the Whitsundays was slightly down on the same period last year (by 2.9 per cent), visitor expenditure was up by 8.6 per cent for the 12 months, at $538.5m.

The average length of stay was also up on the previous 12 months, with domestic holidaymakers staying an average 1.1 nights longer than previously, at 5.9 nights’ average per person.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said the figures were encouraging, despite overall visitor numbers being slightly down.

“In terms of the local economy and our tourism industry, it’s the amount of money that holidaymakers spend while they are here and their length of stay – which are often related – which make the difference,” he said.

“Just over one night longer per person is a significant increase and means that our overall nights for the year for holidaymakers has increased by 18.1 per cent, up to 1.8m nights per year.

“While, overall, visitors might be down slightly for the 12-month period, these are very good results for the region and augur well for the future. If holidaymakers are staying longer and spending more in the Whitsundays, that has to be a good thing!”

In total, 477,000 people visited the Whitsundays in the year ending March 31, 2017, with 254,000 of those coming from within Queensland itself and 223,000 coming from elsewhere in Australia.

THE GYMPIE MUSIC MUSTER 2017 EXPANDS ALREADY PACKED LINE-UP

The Muster’s diverse line-up has
something to get everyone moving.
THE Gympie Music Muster has expanded its line-up of all-Australian stars, with artists including Golden Guitar winner Lyn Bowtell, Darren Middleton, Chelsea Basham, Kaylens Rain, current The Voice contestant Judah Kelly, Joe Robinson, charity ambassador Fred Smith, and Kyle Lionhart.

It’s another Muster not to be missed, with organisers of the 37th annual event encouraging everyone to put on their best dancing boots to enjoy line dancing, as well as rock ‘n’ roll dancing to a live band on a dedicated dance floor.

No matter what your genre of choice, the Muster offers something for everyone’s taste –
  • Enjoy an Australian country themed show on the main stage on Thursday night, including The Bushwackers, Anne Kirkpatrick, Chad Morgan and Travellin’ Still – The Songs of Slim Dusty, featuring Pete Denahy.
  • Put on your dancing shoes for an 80s Party in the Crowbar.
  • Everyone gets their chance to shine with 15 Minutes of Fame where the winner receives a chance to join an all-star line-up as the closing event on main stage.
  • For younger fans, Amber Lawrence’s ‘The Kid’s Gone Country’ show on Friday and Saturday in The Grove is sure to get some little toes tapping.
  • Audiences will also be able to see the Toyota Starmaker Showcase, Fender Guitar Jam, Songwriters’ Sessions, and the Muster Poets each day in the Crowbar.
  • We will farewell another marvellous Muster with The Newgrass All-Star Showcase on Sunday night featuring artists performing a bluegrass song of their choice.

“The Muster is proud of its reputation of delivering a program that is unique to the festival,” Program Director Jeff Chandler said. “Along with numerous country, blues, folk, bluegrass and rockabilly acts, this year we are ensuring a program packed full of themed events and showcases where music fans will witness special one-off collaborations, ‘guitar jams’ and rising stars as well as get an opportunity to show off their line dancing or rock ‘n’ roll dance skills. And, to top it off, it’s a 100% all-Aussie line-up.”

The Muster’s diverse line-up has something to get everyone moving.

Golden Guitar winner Lyn Bowtell merges a soaring vocal range, commanding stage presence and profound songwriting to draw audiences in – her performances are not to be missed. This year her evocative vocal abilities took her through to the top 24 on The Voice.

Former Powderfinger guitarist Darren Middleton has won ARIA and APRA Awards in the iconic Aussie band, and is also an accomplished solo artist who continues to tour the country, and the world, with his thought-provoking songs.

Kaylens Rain is the pairing of siblings Kaylee and Glen Harrison, who combine Kaylee’s moving vocals with Glen’s stirring guitar-playing for unforgettable performances. Their contemporary country style is influenced by artists including Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Martina McBride and the Dixie Chicks as well as guitar-players Keith Urban, Joe Walsh and Don Felder.

Current CMC Female Artist of the Year, Chelsea Basham brings a burst of sunshine to the Muster with her feel-good songs. Hers is a stage performance that is upbeat and will take you to the beaches of Western Australia where she grew up, and beyond.

Joe Robinson is a self-taught virtuoso guitarist that has earned him a following across the world. As well as his instrumental abilities, he fuses rock, blues, jazz and r’n’b to create his own unique style of music and performance.

Performing on stage since the age of 10, Judah Kelly has opened for some of Australia's greats like The McClymonts and Diesel. With a soulful voice that will hit you right in the emotions, he is currently competing on The Voice, having made it into the final 12.

Kyle Lionhart is a folk and soul artist who hails from Byron Bay and has gained a reputation for stopping crowds in their tracks. He has shared the stage with Jeff Lang, Ash Grunwald and Kim Churchill with his performances bringing a range of acoustic and electric guitars in different tunings to the stage, combined with his wide vocal range.

Working with the Muster to help our mates, is diplomat and singer-songwriter Fred Smith. He was Australia’s first diplomat posted to Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan in 2009, where he served again in 2013, and has run songwriting workshops for the Muster’s charity partner Mates4Mates.

"My song Dust of Uruzgan which Lee (Kernaghan) covered on Spirit of the ANZACs, was written from the point of view of soldier named Paul Warren, who now works for Mates4Mates," he said.

This will be Smith’s first Gympie Muster, although he said he’d always known about the event.

"When they invited me to be the charity ambassador I knew straight away it was a good fit," he said. "I worked very closely with Australian soldiers and some of those boys need a bit of help when they get back, so I’m proud to be involved with Mates4Mates.”

The additional artists are:
  • Kaylens Rain – Chelsea Basham – Melanie Dyer – Joe Robinson 
  • Hussy Hicks Georgia Fall – Judah Kelly – Hurricane Fall 
  • The Killer Queen Experience – Viper Creek Band – Fred Smith
  • Kaylee Bell – Pete Denahy – Lyn Bowtell – Matt Cornell – Karin Page
  • Amber Lawrence With ‘The Kid’s Gone Country’ Show – Christie Lamb
  • Kyle Lionhart – Blues Arcadia – Linc Phelps – Liam Brew
  • Tim Wheatley – Darren Middleton – 8 Ball Aitken – Shelley & Lawrie Minson
  • The Electric 80's – Jodie Direen – Simon Kinney Lewis Band 
  • Bob Abbot & The Fabulous Green Machine – PC & The Biffs – Rachael Fahim
  • The Mercurys – The Faceless Men – Casey Barnes – Mitch King – Luella Widt Freya Hollick – Route 33 – Emma Beau – Seleen Mcalister – Mason Hope 
  • Alice Benfer – Mark Porter – Karrie Haywood – The Rock ‘N’ Roll Boys
  • The Muster Poets – Australian Institute Of Country Music 
  • Eighties Themed Party Night – Gympie Blues Club 
  • The Songwriters Sessions – ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ 
  • Toyota Starmaker Showcase – Fender Guitar Jam – 15 Minutes Of Fame
  • The Newgrass All-Star Showcase – Rock ‘N’ Roll Dancing – Line Dancing
  • The Music Makers

To join...
  • Jessica Mauboy
  • Adam Brand - Busby Marou - Graeme Connors
  • Amber Lawrence - Travis Collins - Sunny Cowgirls
  • Catherine Britt - Fanny Lumsden - Troy Kemp 
  • Caitlyn Shadbolt - Dean Ray - Adam Eckersley Band 
  • Reece Mastin - Davidson Brothers - Kirsty Lee Akers - Hillbilly Goats - Bondi Cigars
  • Anne Kirkpatrick - Bushwackers - Mason Rack 
  • Chad Morgan - Missy Lancaster - Travellin’ Still
  • The Songs of Slim Dusty with Pete Denahy & the Travelling Country Band

Held in the Amamoor Creek State Forest in the beautiful Sunshine Coast Hinterland, the 2017 Muster will feature more than 100 artists in more than 300 performances across multiple stages. The artists cover a range of genres including country, bluegrass, folk, blues and rockabilly. An unmissable event for music lovers, one ticket price gives Muster goers free camping and multi-venue access to all performances to experience everything Australia’s biggest country music celebration has to offer.

Run by the community, for the Community, the Muster is a not-for-profit charity event which has raised in excess of $15 Million for charities Australia wide since its inception. Proceeds from this year’s Muster will again go to charity partner Mates4Mates to help Australian Defence Force personnel with mental and physical injuries as a result of their service.

From its humble beginnings in 1982, The Muster has grown from a small celebration to an iconic event that defines the region and has placed Queensland on top of the map for Country Music festivals. Muster co-founder and legendary country musician Berard Webb of The Webb Brothers says the event has always been about ‘mates, music and making a difference.’

The Muster runs from Thursday August 24 to Sunday August 27, 2017.

To book tickets visit www.muster.com.au or phone:
1300 GET TIX (1300 438 849).

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Many interesting activities in “Da Nang – Summer rendezvous 2017” program

(Photo: dantri.com.vn)
“Da Nang - Summer rendezvous” program is an annual tourism event organized by Da Nang Tourism Department to attract visitors to the coastal city during the summer. The program also is expected to foster promotion of sea tourism products of Da Nang Cit.

In 2017, the program “Da Nang - Summer rendezvous” takes place from 17 to 23 June in Bien Dong Park and Pham Van Dong Beach, Da Nang City with a series of diversified and special culture, tourism, sports activities.
Activity schedule at “Da Nang – Summer rendezvous 2017” program
Date
Time
Activity
Location
17 June
15h30 – 18h00
Fishermen’s festival (tugging, weaving fishing nets, etc)
The beach area in Bien Dong Park
15h30 – 18h00
Sea sports (canoes, paragliding, water motorbike, etc)
The beach area in Bien Dong Park
17h00 – 17h15
Flashmob Bikini
The beach area in Bien Dong Park
17h30 – 18h15
The opening ceremony of “Da Nang  - Summer Rendezvous 2017” program
Bien Dong Park
19h30 – 21h30
“Rhythm of the sea” music show
Main stage in Bien Dong Park
18 June
06h00 – 09h00
Son Tra Adventure Run
Son Tra Peninsula
15h30 – 19h30
Beach games
The beach area in Bien Dong Park
19 June
18h00 – 20h00
Dance sports show
Main stage in Bien Dong Park
20 June
19h30 – 21h30
“Summer songs” music show
Main stage in Bien Dong Park
21 June
19h30 – 21h30
“Junior Talents” gala show
Main stage in Bien Dong Park
22 June
16h30 – 20h30
Cooking contest “Best dishes of Da Nang” – Exchanging with Master Chef Pham Tuan Hai
Bien Dong Park
18 & 23 June
19h30 – 21h30
Exchange of  pop – rock bands
Main stage in Bien Dong Park
17 – 18 June
13h00 – 19h00
“Sand sculpture” contest
The beach area in Bien Dong Park
19h30 – 20h30
Outdoor live concerts
Beaches in Da Nang City
17 – 19 June
14h00 – 18h30
Performance of art kites
The beach area in Bien Dong Park
17 – 22 June
08h00 – 22h00
Arranging and decorating basket boats
The beach area in Bien Dong Park
17 – 23 June
17h00 – 22h00
Neon painting arts
Bien Dong Park
08h00 – 22h00
Stall of tourism products, souvenirs, cuisine of Da Nang City
Bien Dong Park
17 – 30 June
Every Saturday and Sunday
15h00 – 19h30
Admiring the sunset on Son Tra Peninsula - “Son Tra Sunset” program
Son Tra Peninsula Observatory
23  – 25 June
08h00 – 17h30
Paragliding contest “Gliding over Tien Sa 2017”
Take-off: Ban Co Peak
Landing: Man Thai Beach

FREE FUN AND FAMILY FILMS AT EVENT CINEMAS THIS SCHOOL HOLIDAYS

Event Cinemas is gearing up for a pint sized takeover this June/July with the introduction of their winter school holiday program. Jam-packed with the biggest family blockbusters and FREE arts and crafts activities, the school holiday program is an extravaganza of film themed fun, rolling out at Event Cinema locations nationally*.

Little ones will be spoiled for choice with a stellar line up of fun films this winter. Watch the legendary Lightning McQueen zoom past the competition in the exhilarating Cars 3. Join the return of Greg and his crazy family in the hilarious Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. Or team up with the Minions for some mischief in Despicable Me 3.

To compliment these screenings, Event Cinemas have programmed in free artistic activities that’ll have kids using their minds, hands and creativity to make artworks to take home as a memory of their day out at the movies with mum and dad.

Make like your favourite Wimpy Kid character and laugh out loud with some hilarious Diary of a Wimpy Kid masks. Kids can also design their own book cover just like the author of the Wimpy Kid series, Jeff Kinney.

Children with a need for speed can get ready for the Florida 500 and create their very own Cars 3 Pit Pass and Driver’s License or transform themselves through DIY by making their own Minion goggles. Pint sized Picassos can also showcase their colouring abilities for the Despicable Mecolour in competition and get the chance to win a totally awesome Despicable Me 3 prize pack!

This fun, affordable day out with the entire family is made easy and affordable with the Cinebuzz Family Pass. Cinebuzz Members can see Cars 3, Despicable Me 3, or Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul at a discounted price** all throughout the school holidays. Available in variations of Admit 3 of 4, the Family Pass ranges in price from $30-$50.

Bigger kids won’t miss out either with action-loving teens in for a treat when autobots roll out in Transformers: The Last Knight, while Spider-Man: Homecoming will have Marvel fans rejoicing as the web-slinging superhero zooms through high rise buildings to take on a new villain named Vulture.

Join Event Cinemas for a school holiday filled with crazy and creative fun for the whole family. Check out screening and activity times at www.eventcinemas.com.au and start planning your trip to the movies!

NATIONAL SCHOOL HOLIDAY DATES:
QLD: June 24 – July 9
NT: June 24 – July 23
SA: July 8 – July 23
NSW/ACT/VIC: July 1 – July 16

* Check your local participating cinema for scheduled activities or similar as some sites have used their own activities instead
**Surcharges apply for 3D and Vmax. Pricing may vary between cinema locations.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Japanese idol group Nogizaka 46 appointed Thailand Tourism Brand Ambassador

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has recently appointed Nogizaga 46 – a famous idol girl group in Japan as a Thailand Tourism Brand Ambassador to promote Thai tourism to the Japanese market. The announcement was made yesterday (19 June) at a press conference in Tokyo, attended by over 100 journalists and editors.

Mrs. Srisuda Wanapinyosak, TAT’s Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Asia and the South Pacific) said, “This initiative is to promote a brand new image of Thailand in Japan. We’d like to boost the need to travel and inspire young Japanese people as well as first-time travellers to choose Thailand as their first destination for travelling abroad.”

Japan has long been one of the important tourist markets to Thailand. With the Japanese economy showing strong signs of recovering, TAT believes the needs for Japanese to travel abroad will soon be rising significantly and is thus coming up with several initiatives to draw back Japanese tourists to Thailand.

In addition, 2017 will be an important year to promote Thailand as a preferred destination for Japanese travellers, as the two nations celebrate 130 years of diplomatic relations. TAT has scheduled several initiatives including the Thailand Mega Fam Trip this week (21-24 June), which it jointly organises with Thai Airways International.

Earlier this year, TAT also provided special support to the Ayutthaya “Kizuna” Ekiden 2017 – 130thAnniversary of Thailand and Japan Foreign Relationship” long-distance relay running race, which took place on 12 March at the Ayutthaya Historical Park, Ayutthaya.

17th Annual Helpmann Awards Nominations in 42 categories announced

17th Annual Helpmann Awards Nominations in 42 categories announced

The countdown to the 17th Annual Helpmann Awards is on, following tonight’s announcement of the 2017 Helpmann Award Nominees.

A full list of nominations is available from 7pm AEST Monday 19 June at
http://www.helpmannawards.com.au/media-resources/

The Helpmann Awards are the premier celebration of Australia’s vibrant live performance industry and recognise distinguished achievement and excellence in Australia’s live performance sectors including musical theatre, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music, theatre, ballet, dance and physical theatre, presentation for children, regional touring and cabaret.

Live Performance Australia (LPA) today announced the Nominees in the 42 categories of the Helpmann Awards at simultaneous events in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

The winners of the 2017 Helpmann Awards will be announced at a ceremony on Monday 24 July at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney, on the set of Kinky Boots.

LPA Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson said, “This year has been a remarkable year for live performances in Australia reflecting a vibrant industry with more than 18 million people attending shows across the country and ticket revenues of $1.4 billion”.

“Over the past seventeen years, the Helpmann Awards have received over 10,000 entries and announced 2,600 Nominations, which further illustrates the scale of the live performance industry in Australia. We are thrilled to be announcing on 24 July a further 42 winners to add to the existing 550 Helpmann Awards alumni.”

NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said the Helpmann Awards is hosted in Sydney thanks to the support of the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.

“It’s been another remarkable year for live performance in Australia and this year’s Nominees reflect the strength and vibrancy of this sector. I congratulate all of the 2017 Helpmann Awards Nominees and wish them the best of luck,” Mr Marshall said.

As previously announced, Richard Tognetti AO, Artistic Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, will be the recipient of the 2017 JC Williamson Award. This award is bestowed on an individual who has made a truly outstanding contribution to the enrichment of Australia’s live performance culture and shaped the future of the industry for the better. Additionally, Rob Brookman AM will be the recipient of this year’s Sue Nattrass Award which honours an exceptional individual in a service role that supports the industry.

The 2017 Helpmann Awards will be broadcast live on Foxtel Arts and webcast free via www.foxtelarts.com.au.

The Helpmann Awards are proudly supported by the New South Wales Government, through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

Tickets for the 17th Annual Helpmann Awards are available now from Ticketmaster.
Bookings www.ticketmaster.com.au
Gold Star Package - Show and After Party Ticket $175*
Show only Ticket $55*
*Subject to availability
An additional handling fee of $8.55 is applicable to all online bookings per transaction.

Join the conversation and stay connected with Helpmanns news
Website: www.helpmannawards.com.au
Official hashtag: #Helpmanns
Facebook: www.facebook.com.au/TheHelpmannAwards
Twitter: @HelpmannAwards
Instagram: @Helpmann_Awards

Australians’ Love Affair with Peru shows no Sign of Slowing Down as Travellers Navigate towards Unconventional Paths

Australians’ love affair with Peru continues to grow according to the latest figures revealed by PromPerú showing a 3.1% increase in the number of Australians visiting the South America icon in 2016 compared to the previous year.

Peru welcomed a record breaking 3,744,461 international visitors in 2016, with Australian visitor numbers reaching 42,870.

For 2017, figures are showing no sign of slowing down and Peru is expecting “a sustained growth from the Australian market for 2017” according to PromPerú.

According to Latin America specialist Chimu Adventures’ co-founder Greg Carter, this figure was helped by an increase in air seats from all major Australian cities, increased competition on the South America routes and competitive airfare prices.

On the back of increased accessibility and affordability, Chimu has also recorded new trends in the ways in which Australians choose to explore the bucket list destination.

Whilst there hasn’t been so much change as to what to see, there has undoubtedly been some rethinking on how to see it, according to Carter.

“Today’s traveller is looking for immersion in every sense of the word, seeking to combine the traditional, the unique and the exclusive and no longer shying away from experimenting unconventional ways to do so” he said.

“Whilst Australians keep embracing Peru’s obvious drawcards, its incredible cuisine, fascinating ancient cultures and traditions and its natural icons including Machu Picchu and the Amazon, they are seeking out new ways in which to see them” he added.

Responding to this trend, Chimu Adventures have created a new luxury tour package designed to introduce discerning travellers to the highlights and icons of Peru whilst giving them the option to explore the paths less travelled in the most exclusive way.

The 11-day Ultimate Peru Experience (priced from AU$ 7,665*) takes in the seldom travelled Lares Region through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Machu Picchu staying in elegant mountain lodges run in partnership with local communities. Up in the Amazon, guests are treated to immersive boutique luxury on the new Delfin III Amazon vessel on a 3-night itinerary that combines natural wonders, dramatic scenery and indigenous culture. In Lima, guests get to spend a night in Chimu’s very own boutique, Casa Republica, located in the upcoming district of El Barranco.

For more information visit www.chimuadventures.com/peru

EXPANSION AT ART GALLERY OF NSW

An exciting new chapter for the Art Gallery of NSW was announced this week, with confirmation the Sydney Modern Project will transform the gallery into a global museum of the future, with new spaces for art, live performance and film along with spaces to learn, study and participate in cultural experiences.

NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin announced $244 million in NSW Government funding for the expansion this week and said the project will deliver significant benefits for the state.

“The arts play an important role in the visitor economy and are central to the quality of life we enjoy,” Mr Harwin said.

“The Sydney Modern Project alone is expected to inject over $1 billion into the economy over 25 years and create 240 full-time jobs.”

The project, which is being designed by Pritzker Prize winning architects SANAA, will link the existing site in The Domain to the Royal Botanic Gardens. The expanded Gallery will also include the nation’s most prominent and innovative display of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture.

Art Gallery of NSW Director Dr Michael Brand welcomed the funding announcement.

“We’re absolutely delighted with this funding, which will enable us to realise our Gallery expansion and provide us with the foundation to completely transform our much-loved institution into a cultural hub for the arts in Sydney, NSW and Australia,” Dr Brand said.

“This is a wonderful day for art and culture in Australia, and a significant investment in the sector for future generations.

“Our expanded Gallery will deliver an iconic building that combines art, architecture and landscape in an extraordinary way, and in one of the most breathtaking locations in the world,” Dr Brand added.

The expansion will significantly increase space for the Gallery to exhibit art, and is expected to attract two million visitors annually.

The project is set to begin construction in 2019 and will be completed in time for the Gallery’s 150th anniversary in 2021.

Visit https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/sydney-modern-project/ for more information.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Mekong Tourism Forum successfully showcases industry collaboration with new decentralized conference model

Luang Prabang
Nearly 400 travel and tourism industry professionals exchanged lessons and experiences to promote competitive, inclusive, and sustainable tourism at the 2017 Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF 2017), held on 5–9 June in Luang Prabang, Laos. Hosted by the Luang Prabang Provincial Government and the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism in collaboration with the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, the theme ‘Prosper with Purpose’ reflected the event’s strong focus on sustainability and engagement.

The Forum demonstrated that smaller towns without large conference halls can host world-class events. Luang Prabang’s historic district was transformed into the venue, where delegates joined highly relevant thematic sessions moderated by subject matter experts, aligned to the United Nations International Year of Sustainability Tourism for Development. Topics included child protection, heritage preservation, green urban development, women’s empowerment, human resource development, wildlife protection, community based tourism, youth tourism, sustainable investment, and emerging markets.

“This event was truly designed by the industry for the industry,’ said Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, one of the key event organizers.

Keynote speaker Ms. Anna Pollock, UK-based founder of Conscious.travel said ‘It was both an honor and delight to participate in the 2017 Mekong Tourism Forum, one of the best tourism conferences I have ever attended, setting a new standard in conference delivery. The ‘distributed, inclusive’ model maximized exposure to the talent in both the host and delegate communities, and was a brave, novel and constructive initiative, of benefit to many. Combined with the online platform developed for Mekong Tourism, the forum has set a new standard for destination management organizations to follow!’

Ms. Duanratchada Chimphalee, venue host and Director of Sales & Marketing at Mekong Cruises said: “Being able to discuss the issues of river-based tourism right on a river cruise boat on the Mekong River, made the debate not only so much more relevant and engaging, but also offered delegates to experience tourism products away from the traditional meeting room. We were very pleased to be part of the MTF 2017 hosting community. This new and innovative approach may open up future opportunities for collaboration among the travel industry in Luang Prabang.“

Mr. Peter Richards, session facilitator and International Trade Centre responsible tourism specialist remarked ‘While complex from a logistics standpoint, the organizer’s efforts paid off to create one of the most inclusive and experiential tourism conferences yet by making the destination the venue. This is a new benchmark for inclusive conferences. It was marvelous.’

Mr. Kevin Wallace, session facilitator and Managing Director of Dream Hotel Group commented: “The rolling venue format for this year’s Mekong Tourism Forum was innovative and excellent, drawing out high levels of interactive discussion and debate, locking right on to the hot issues.”

Professor Dr. Robyn Bushell, UNESCO consultant and session facilitator said: “The distributed approach no doubt added greatly to the planning and logistics but provided participants with many experiences, engaging with the town and its many assets. In the process providing many more businesses with profile. This works well in a small place like Luang Prabang that would normally not host a large meeting. Such a delightful place, I never tire of visiting Luang Prabang. It brought so many of the issues and opportunities being discussed into sharp focus. A great initiative, and a really productive forum.”

The Mekong Innovative Start-up Tourism Accelerator Program (MIST) was also featured at the Forum. MIST, a joint initiative between the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and the Asian Development Bank financed Mekong Business Initiative with funding from the Government of Australia, is the Mekong region’s newest tourism startup accelerator, offering young entrepreneurs access to publicity, investment, and mentors. During the final investor showcase, twenty-four passionate, innovate tourism startups out of over 250 applications, pitched to investors and tourism industry leaders. Myanmar’s GoP, a travel search startup, won Best in Show.

Another special feature was the introduction of the Refill Not Landfill Campaign to Luang Prabang. Every delegate received a durable and refillable water bottle, with all Forum venues doubling as official refill stations. Supported by the German development agency GIZ and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, the program is set to expand and continue.

Dr. Soudaphone Khomthavong, Luang Prabang’s Deputy Director of Information, Culture, and Tourism said ‘We avoided using about 5,000 plastic bottles during MTF 2017, which in itself is a great achievement and aligned to our theme ‘Prosper with Purpose’.

For more information about the Mekong Tourism Forum, please visit http://www.mekongtourism.org/events-2/mekong-tourism-forum/

Phi Ta Khon Festival and International Traditional Mask Performance

The Ministry of Culture will join hands with other government agencies and the private sector in organizing the unique annual cultural event "Phi Ta Khon,” or the Ghost Festival, in Dan Sai district, Loei province in the Northeast.

Permanent Secretary for Culture Kitsayapong Siri said that the Phi Ta Khon Festival this year will be held on 24-26 June in front of the Dan Sai District Office, along with an international traditional mask performance. The festival aims to sustain the inheritance of Thai art and culture, as well as local wisdom.

It is also intended to promote cultural tourism and enhance international relations through cultural exchange. There are many activities as part of the festival, such as the Phi Ta Khon mask contest, a recitation of the thirteen sermons of Phra Wetsandon (the story of a previous life of the Buddha), a food festival, a bazaar of community products, an exhibition of the festival, and a light and sound show.

More than 500 people from 11 local communities will take part in the festival as Phi Ta Khon performers. Joining the international traditional mask performance will be representatives from seven countries, namely Lao PDR, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, India, and Thailand.

This festival is combined with Bun Bang Fai, or the Rocket Festival. Bun Bang Fai is a rainmaking rite and is also meant to worship the guardian of the city pillar. The rite is believed to bring about abundant rain, good crops, and happiness.

After the Phi Ta Khon Festival in Loei, the Ministry of Culture will bring the exhibition on the festival and the international mask performance to an event at the ASEAN Cultural Center on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue in Bangkok on 1-2 July 2017. Visitors are invited to attend the event free of charge.

Regarded as one of the most famous festivals in Thailand, Phi Ta Khon is an important folk and merit-making event in Dan Sai district. Many Thais from other areas of the country and foreign visitors also come to enjoy this merry occasion each year.

This event features the procession of participants wearing ugly but colorful ghost masks with very pointy noses. Some people believe that the festival is called Phi Ta Khon because participants in the procession of ghosts wear masks resembling khon masks.

Phi Ta Khon has been registered as one of Thailand’s cultural heritage items in the social rituals and festivals category.

Wanaruah Naidoc Community Events‎ - Flag Raising

Come down to Simpson Park in Muswellbrook on Monday July 3rd to our Flag Raising Event!!

We will be holding a free BBQ, live entertainment, local stall holders and community services and our NAIDOC Celebration Cake that has been donated by Farrell's Cakery

NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.

Event time: 11:30am - 2:00pm

This is a community event where everyone is welcome!!!

Please feel free to share this post around :)

*If you are a small local business and would like to hold a stall please email wanaruah.naidoc@hotmail.com for a application form.

International Tourist Arrivals in 2017 Likely to Reach 35 Million

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports is confident that international tourist arrivals in 2017 will reach 35 million, compared to 32.59 million in 2016. In the overall picture, Thailand’s tourism situation is improving.

Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Sports Pongpanu Svetarundra said that, from January to May this year, Thailand welcomed 14.6 million foreign tourists, accounting for an increase of 3.2 percent over the same period of last year.

During the five-month period, the international tourist arrivals generated 740 billion baht, an increase of 5 percent over the same period in 2016. Thailand has set a target to earn 2.7 trillion baht from tourism this year. Tourism income from both domestic and international tourists in the first five months of this year was 1.05 trillion baht.

As for the diplomatic row between Qatar and other Arab countries, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports believed that the situation would affect the Thai tourism industry for only a short period. The Ministry is closely monitoring the possibility of the strengthening of the Thai baht, as this would affect tourist spending.

Speaking at a seminar on the potential of the Mukdahan Special Economic Zone, President of the Tourism Council of Thailand Ittirit Kinglake stated that tourism in Mukdahan in the Northeast has been growing. The number of Thai and foreign tourists visiting Mukdahan was 1.8 million in 2015, accounting for an increase of 25 percent over that of the previous year.

He said that Mukdahan had developed transport infrastructure that attracts tourist arrivals, as well. Moreover, the Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge connecting Mukdahan with Savannakhet in Lao PDR serves as a link between Thailand and neighboring countries. In the future, Mukdahan is expected to become a major tourist destination that distributes wealth to nearby provinces. The Vietnamese are among the largest groups of foreign tourists to Mukdahan.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, in cooperation with the Thai tourism industry, is hosting the Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion 2017. The event is taking place from 14 to 16 June at the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Center in Chiang Mai province.

It aims to promote the tourism and service business sector in Thailand and the Greater Mekong Subregion counterparts. The major buyer markets include Europe, Southeast Asia, Eastern Asia, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as emerging markets, such as the Commonwealth of Independent States, Eastern Europe, Middle East, South America, and South Africa.

ITE HCMC 2017 - Expand your business in Asia market!

ITE HCMC has established itself as the leading and most established annual international travel event in Vietnam and the Mekong sub-region. 

It is a place where both international and regional buyers, suppliers, trade professionals and media partners from the tourism and travel organizations meet and exchange the latest and new developments in the industry. 

ITE HCMC 2017 will be held from 7 - 9 September 2017 at Saigon Exhibition & Convention Center (SECC), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

EVENT HIGHLIGHTS:

+ Hosted Buyer Program
+ Hosted Media Program
+ Buyer- Seller Meetings
+ Grand Opening Ceremony & Gala Dinner
+ Seminars on Key Tourist Market & other topics
+ Travel Fun Fair Day with games, performances for public visitors.

BOOK A STAND NOW! 


http://www.itehcmc.com/en/Forms/BookExhibitionSpace/

Monday, 19 June 2017

Thematic tours of Mekong subregion have best potential

The enormous potential of the Mekong subregion countries to highlight themes; such as, culture, cuisine, cruises and city tours was the key topic of discussion “CLMVT: Moving towards Shared Prosperity” at the 16th Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion (TTM+) 2017 now under way.

The five speakers of the CLMVT countries at the session were:
  • Cambodia: Mr. Seila Hul, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Tourism;
  • Lao PDR: Mr. Vongdeuan Keosulivong, Acting Director of Division, Tourism Marketing Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
  • Myanmar: Mr. Nyi Nyi Oo, Deputy Director, Directorate of Hotels and Tourism, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.
  • Vietnam: Mr. Vu Nam, Deputy Director General, Tourism Marketing Department, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.
  • Thailand: Mr. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

Speakers noted that the region was dotted with iconic tourist spots, popular cities, and scenic cruising destinations; such as, Angkor Wat, Bangkok, and Halong Bay respectively. Myanmar and Lao PDR, too, have rich heritage sites namely Bagan and Luang Prabang.

All of these are part of the mosaic that binds the CLMVT countries and will play a major role in ensuring positive growth in future.

They noted that although many of the heritage sites could be traced back to similar cultural roots, they were all different in their own way.

The same could also be applied to the region’s culinary delights which had a lot of commonality but still managed to retain its own unique selling propositions from country to country.

Visitors also had a chance to balance the urban tourism delights of cities; such as, Bangkok with the charms of provincial destinations.

Increasing road connectivity will be a major facilitator of travel, especially for landlocked countries such as Lao PDR which has eight overland border checkpoints with Thailand, including four via Friendship bridges over the Mekong River.

Cambodia is also facilitating overland border crossings with easier visa processing.

The entire region abounds with great stories which can and should be widely disseminated across all social media channels.

The panelists were later joined by Mr. Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director, Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.

He briefed participants on the outcomes of the recent Mekong Tourism Forum held in Luang Prabang. The next MTF is to be held in the Thai Northeastern province of Nakhon Phanom, which will open up another major destination in the region.

ORANGE AND SYDNEY HARBOUR FEATURE ON NEW AUSTRALIAN MONOPOLY BOARD

Orange and Sydney Harbour have taken prime position on the latest Australian Monopoly board, occupying the prestigious dark blue spots reserved for Mayfair and Park Lane in the original board game.

The two NSW locations beat out challengers including the Gold Coast, Whitsundays, the Barossa Valley and the Great Ocean Road to take the two best places on the board.

They were selected by public vote, which saw 35,000 Australian Monopoly players choose from 40 different areas around Australia in a nationwide online poll last November.

NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said he was pleased to see two NSW locations in the most desirable spots on the board.

"We're delighted our state has trumped the competition, which once again reaffirms NSW’s position as the number one place to live, work and enjoy," he said.

The new Australian Monopoly will be available for purchase later this year.

SHEPARD FAIREY'S FIRST BRUSHSTROKES IN SYDNEY

Iconic American artist Shepard Fairey has revealed his first brushstrokes on his largest wall to date, ahead of his appearance at the Vivid Ideas Game-Changer Talk Series on Saturday 17 June.

Exclusively created for Vivid Sydney, the bespoke mural will be one of his largest yet, at 44 metres high and 28 metres wide.

Sydneysiders and visitors alike can see it come to life at 309 George Street, where Fairey will continue to live-paint the artwork into the weekend. Fairey has completed over 70 public murals worldwide. This is his first in Australia.

In addition to the mural, Fairey’s fine artwork will be showcased at a newly announced exhibition, Printed Matters, at a pop-up gallery in Chippendale, on view from tomorrow until Sunday, 9 July.

A selection of Fairey’s music-themed works, showcasing his revolutionary visual language and passion for the culture of music, is also being exhibited as part of Vivid Sydney until 17 June at Darling Quarter.

Shepard Fairey will appear in conversation with award-winning ABC journalist Monique Schafter at the Vivid Ideas Game-Changer Talk Series tomorrow evening at 7pm at Sydney Town Hall.

Visit vividsydney.com/ideas to purchase tickets.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

TripAdvisor rates three Thai landmarks as among Best in Asia for 2017

The famous Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
Three of Thailand’s most iconic landmarks, all in Bangkok, have been listed as among the top 25 Landmarks in Asia by the influential international travel website TripAdvisor in its 2017 Travelers’ Choice listings.

The Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, (Wat Phra Kaeo) all on Bangkok’s historic Rattanakosin Island were named in the top 25 list, taking 4th, 9th and 14th place, respectively. These three landmarks are regarded as some of Thailand’s top tourist sites and have appeared regularly in must-see lists published internationally.

The Temple of the Reclining Buddha also took 21st spot in the TripAdvisor Top 25 Landmarks in the World 2017.

Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said, “Some of Thailand’s greatest treasures can be found in the historic heart of Bangkok, and we’re delighted that so many tourists come here to delight in the artistic, cultural and religious heritage of the kingdom. Thailand offers a huge array of historic sites including temples and cities, and we invite everyone to explore and discover the amazing art and craftsmanship of Thai builders and artists from times past.”

The annual TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, are given based on the quantity and quality of travellers’ reviews and ratings on TripAdvisor’s website gathered over the previous 12-month period.

On the website, tourists said the Temple of the Reclining Buddha was “Breathtaking” and “Iconic” and “A true beauty to behold”. The famous Grand Palace is called “Majestic” and the number one “Must-see site” in Thailand. The Palace’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is described as “A treat for the eyes” and a “wonderful example of Thai architecture.”

TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site and gathers advice and reviews from millions of travellers from around the world, covering seven million hotels and types of accommodation, restaurants and attractions. The website reaches 390 million monthly visitors in 49 worldwide markets.

For a complete list of the best destinations in the World, Region, and Thailand as well as for the review and traveller’s photos visit: TripAdvisor 2017 Traveler’s Choice Awards

Lantern Festival in Kinosaki Onsen

The magical Lantern Festival takes place in Kinosaki Onsen on August 22nd from 7 pm. Hundreds of lanterns float down the river. 

People write wishes on a paper lantern, put a candle inside and watch it float on the river. 

Anyone is welcome to make their own lantern for free. 

You will encounter the beauty of the summer in Japan!

DEEPWATER SCARECROW AND WOOL FESTIVAL - GLEN INNES

Deepwater Scarecrow and Wool Festival is a free family and community oriented event, held in mid-spring, where quirky scarecrows spring to life as do the plants and lambs, signalling an end to Deepwater's dormant, frosty, wintry months. 

Visitors to the festival held annually at the Deepwater Oval can experience not only the scarecrow creations on the Scarecrow Trail throughout the village, but also award winning fine fleece and local history on display at the Deepwater Wool Show, Woolly Games for all the family including Wool Bale Rolling, Aussie Thong throwing contest, Great Baby Race contest, Decorated Bike Contest, live animals, Deepwater Dog Jump, live musical entertainment, dancing displays, markets, Monster Raffle, hay rides, and much more!

Big enough to count, small enough to care, friendly enough to share.
Come and experience the atmosphere of this friendly village.

SATURDAY 04 NOVEMBER 2017

Thursday, 15 June 2017

WHITSUNDAYS SCORES ONE OF THE TOP SPOTS ON THE MONOPOLY BOARD

Following a hotly contested battle, the Whitsundays has come out on top as one of the destinations in the new, limited-edition Australian Monopoly game, due to launch in July.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox was present for the exciting announcement made in Sydney today.

“This success was due to the collaboration between Whitsunday Regional Council and Craig Turner's Tourism Whitsunday Team driving this initiative forward to be in a prime location just like the Whitsundays,” he said

One of the top spots on the board, Bond Street was secured after a massive collaborative campaign by Tourism Whitsundays, Whitsunday Regional Council and industry to encourage people to vote – means worldwide exposure for the region amongst board game lovers all over the world.

A huge number of votes were received for the Whitsundays, resulting in the region winning the most number of votes for the top spot in Queensland, followed by Gold Coast and Tropical North Queensland.

Other spots on the iconic board game, which was first launched in 1904, are taken by the other Australian states, including of course the country’s most well-known landmarks: The Sydney Harbour Bridge, Margaret River and the Great Ocean Road.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said it was incredibly exciting to actually have the Whitsundays on the board of this limited edition game, which was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Who hasn’t played Monopoly at some point in their lives, whether at Christmas, on holiday or when it’s raining too much to go outside?” he said.

“It’s beyond fantastic to see our region secure a square on the Australian Monopoly board and it will deliver enormous PR value for the Whitsundays.

“We would like to thank everyone who voted - it really does highlight the ongoing commitment and support of our local tourism operators, who I know voted in their thousands, and of course the whole community, who really got behind the region on this one’ social media campaign last November.”

The earliest known version of Monopoly, known as The Landlord's Game, was designed by an American, Elizabeth Magie, and first patented in 1904. Since then more than 250 million sets of Monopoly® have been sold.

Since 1994, many official variants of the game, based on locations other than Atlantic City, New Jersey (the official U.S. setting) or London (the official Commonwealth setting, excepting Canada), have been published by Hasbro or its licensees. For more information on the new board, go to http://monopolyaustralia.com.au/.

Mt Hutt ready to open – the South Island ski season begins!

New Zealand’s Best Ski Resort, Mt Hutt in Canterbury, has opened on Friday 9 June, marking the start of the South Island ski season.

Mt Hutt, located about 90 minutes from Christchurch, is the first South Island ski field to open, and with a bit of a bang too.

Mt Hutt Ski Area Manager James McKenzie expects a great start.

“Thanks to the 25-30cm snow dump on Sunday and long periods of cold temperatures the mountain looks like it’s been dipped in white chocolate – it’s absolutely stunning up here. Mt Hutt is shaping up for another award-winning season.”

“Thanks to our awesome snowmaking team, our snow base is sitting between 30 and 50cms on our main trails which is fantastic,” added James.

Mt Hutt’s 2086m altitude – making it one of the highest ski areas in New Zealand – and an annual four-metre snow fall results in one of the longest seasons in New Zealand.

“We know there’s a lot of keen skiers and riders who have been waiting for this, and we’re looking forward to rolling out the white carpet,” said James.

All the main trails and some park terrain will be open tomorrow when the field opens from 9am.

Mt Hutt was voted New Zealand’s Best Ski Resort at the World Ski Awards in 2016, following on from the 2015 win.

New this year at Mt Hutt are improvements to the base lodge included upgraded toilet facilities and extended coffee bars, increased skiable terrain with an additional 21 hectares at the South West face, new automated snow guns and modified terrain at the upper mountain to boost snow coverage on the higher runs.

“This is Canterbury’s playground, with a friendly vibe, great customer service and excellent facilities,” said James.

“This is a big mountain with wide groomed slopes, all-lift access for all abilities, top to bottom terrain parks with world-class jumps.”

The Kids4Free Deal is a huge attraction also. This initiative between tourism operators in Methven provides several accommodation, dining and activities options for children aged 10 and under free of charge with one adult. This includes Mt Hutt where children 10 and under get a lift pass free of charge every day of the season.

Other features that make Mt Hutt so popular is the long vertical drops, the spectacular views across the Canterbury Plains - on a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean in one direction and into the heart of the Southern Alps in the other – and the extensive terrain for all abilities, including four freestyle parks.

The 90-minute drive to Mt Hutt from Christchurch is beautiful also, travelling past the Canterbury Plains and Rakaia Gorge. From Methven, Mt Hutt is only 35 minutes’ drive.

Aside from the opening day and local competitions throughout the season, the Mt Hutt calendar includes some big events. Two must do’s are the Mt Hutt Slope Style competition on Aug 5 and 6th where up and coming freestylers defy gravity as they hit the park in front on gasping onlookers. The famous Peak to Pub race on September 23rd is a hugely popular annual contest for New Zealand’s top multi sporters – as well as a host of enthusiastic amateurs – who have to ski/board, bike and run from the summit of Mt Hutt at 2086m to the Blue Pub in Methven at 300m.

Click here for more Mt Hutt 2017 events. For information go to www.mthutt.co.nz

YULEFEST IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS

The Blue Mountains is welcoming visitors to celebrate Christmas in July this winter, with the annual Yulefest celebrations bringing a European-style atmosphere to the region.

Yulefest is one of the busiest tourist seasons for the Blue Mountains, attracting enormous interest among domestic and international visitors. Restaurants and accommodation providers come together to recreate the festive atmosphere of a northern hemisphere Christmas.

From traditional turkey dinners to carol sing-alongs, roaring fires, and perhaps even Santa, Yulefest is a wonderful time to enjoy a winter escape to this magnificent region.

Click here for more information on Winter Yulefest Packages across a range of venues.

NYC & COMPANY ANNOUNCES NICKELODEON’S TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES TO CONTINUE AS NEW YORK CITY’S OFFICIAL FAMILY AMBASSADORS

NYC & Company, New York City’s official destination marketing organisation, together with Nickelodeon, announced the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will continue their role as Official NYC Family Ambassadors for a second year, commencing a refreshed campaign to highlight New York City as a family-friendly destination. The first-ever Ambassador to embark on a two-year partnership, the new campaign features new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles artwork, exciting family-friendly itineraries across all five boroughs, interactive SMS messaging with exclusive content, and more. Since the launch of the Family Ambassador program in 2009, family travel to NYC has seen steady growth, and in 2015, family visitation made up 22% of total visits to the city. For kid-friendly NYC itineraries, attractions, articles and more, visit nycgo.com/family.

“We’re excited to have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles welcome family travelers to NYC for a second year, this time with richer NYC travel content and interactive features for visitors,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company. “Just as each family visiting NYC has their own unique interests, each Turtle has their own favourite activities across the five boroughs, and we’re pleased to bring those itineraries to life for our visiting families.”

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with NYC & Company, with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles assuming the mantle of New York City Family Ambassadors for a milestone second consecutive year,” said Pam Kaufman, Global Chief Marketing Officer and President of Consumer Products, Nickelodeon Group. “New York is a family vacation hotspot, jam-packed with exciting things to do on every corner so it’s a no-brainer to have the beloved Turtles who know the ins and outs of the city, serving as ambassadors and representing the fun and adventure that can be found on these iconic city streets.”

With personalities ranging from adventurer to foodie, each of the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has their own favourite destinations to discover across NYC, and now family visitors can too. Itineraries and maps catered to each turtle are featured on nycgo.com/family, providing families with tools and inspiration to plan their own NYC adventures. Five new creative posters feature itinerary-style illustrations of each Turtle’s tours across the five boroughs, from Leo’s adventurous side enjoying Staten Island’s Chinese Scholar Garden, to Donnie learning at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.

Considered one of the most popular kids’ television programs of the 1980s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a classic, global property created in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. It first debuted as a successful comic book series and then became a hit animated TV show, a live-action television series and later spawned numerous blockbuster theatrical releases. Since its launch in 2012, Nickelodeon’s all-new CG-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has re-energised these iconic characters of this wildly popular franchise. Currently in season five, Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo have emerged in the anthology series, Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which follows the Turtles through a variety of action-packed and bizarre adventures that have never been seen before. The series is seen in over 170 countries and territories and translated in 45+ languages.

The Family Ambassador program was created in 2009 to help position New York City as a welcoming family-friendly destination, encourage families to visit year-round and invite those who have already visited New York City to return and enjoy all of the new attractions the City has to offer. The Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles are the eighth Family Ambassador after Dora and Friends in 2015, Curious George in 2014, Where’s Waldo? in 2013, The Muppets in 2012, The Smurfs in 2011, Dora the Explorer in 2010 and Sesame Street in 2009.

For more details on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ambassador campaign, visit nycgo.com/family.

Thailand announces 14 Thai tourism favourites as voted by Chinese visitors

H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand,
 expresses his heartfelt appreciation to the winners of 2017 People’s Choice
Awards Thailand Voted by Chinese Tourists at the awards
presentation ceremony, held in Bangkok
The “2017 People’s Choice Awards Thailand Voted by Chinese Tourists” attracted 3.7 million votes during the two-week voting period and reached an audience of 45 million.

Bangkok – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) today announced the 14 most popular tourist attractions and activities as well as medical and wellness services in Thailand among Chinese tourists, as a result of the much anticipated “2017 People’s Choice Awards Thailand Voted by Chinese Tourists” campaign.

H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, and H.E. Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, presided over the “2017 People’s Choice Awards Thailand Voted by Chinese Tourists” ceremony at the Muang Thai GMM Live House, 8th Floor, CentralWorld.

The winners of the 2017 People’s Choice Awards Thailand Voted by Chinese Tourists are:

Luxury Hotel: Rayavadee Krabi
Boutique Hotel: Anantara Lawana Koh Samui Resort
City Hotel: Centara Grand at CentralWorld
Beach Hotel: Banyan Tree Samui
Airline: Thai Airways International
Show and Entertainment: Muay Thai Live: The Legend Lives
Medical and Wellness Service: Samitivej Hospital
Restaurant: Baan Rim Pa Phuket
Spa: Let’s Relax Spa
Golf Course: Gassan Khuntan Golf and Resort
Shopping Centre: Emquartier
Tourism Activities/ Theme park: Vana Nava Hua Hin
Attraction: Pattaya Floating Market
Destination: Pattaya

The contest was a continuation of a project carried out successfully in 2015 and 2016 to enhance Thailand’s tourism profile and brand image via social media networks, which are frequented by millions of Chinese every day. It also helps support the many Thai tourism products and services seeking more exposure in the Chinese market.

TAT organised the voting campaign in partnership with Tencent, which owns a number of Chinese online channels; such as, WeChat (570 million users per day), QZone (330 million users per day), QQMusic (70 million users per day) and Tencent News (27 million users per day).

Chinese who have travelled to Thailand were invited to vote via the website www.peopleschoiceawardsthailand.com between 26 May to 8 June, 2017, in 14 categories; such as, tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, medical and wellness services, spas, shopping centres, golf courses, etc. The voting attracted a total of 3.7 million votes, and the publicity given to this activity was estimated to reach an audience of 45 million.

They were enticed to participating in the voting activity with a lucky draw prize. The first prize is a five-day holiday for two in Thailand, including return air tickets on Thai Airways International and accommodation. The next five prizes are also return air tickets for two to Thailand on Thai Smile Airways, NokScoot Airlines, Thai AirAsia, Bangkok Airways and Thai Lion Air. Over 100 other prizes are also being offered including vouchers for accommodation, spa treatments, dining, shows and entertainment, and much more.

TAT launched the “People’s Choice Awards Thailand Voted by Chinese Tourists” project in 2015 as The Best of Thailand Awards Voted by Chinese Tourists, and renamed it to the current name in 2016. In its second year, the voting attracted over 3.2 million votes.

During the first four months of this year, Thailand welcomed 12 million visitors, spending around 620 billion Baht, an increase of 4.71% from the same period last year. In this number, 7.5 million came from East Asia generating 308 billion Baht. China remained the leading source market at about 3.2 million arrivals, who generated 161 billion Baht in tourism revenue.

Get a real insight of Korea with new Korean Cultural Experience Programs

No matter where you may be travelling often the best way to get a true insight to the country is to join a cultural experience program. Korea is nowadays offering many great cultural experience programs where visitors can immerse themselves in a fun and educational experience and some are also free.

A Korean food experience is a very popular way to have fun by joining one of the many cooking classes available from learning how to make kimchi to joining a new specialty Hallyu (Korean wave) cooking class which teaches Hallyu fans how to cook their favourite dishes as seen in the famous dramas.

The Hallyu Cooking Class experience program allows pre-registered international tourists to participate in making various Korean foods. The cooking class opens on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month, between 11am - 1pm at Baekseol Cooking Studio in CJ CheilJedang headquarters in Seoul.

The first part of the program consists of a demonstration by a certified Korean chef. Then participants can join in and make two different dishes and later enjoy their culinary results together in a separate dining room. The Hallyu Cooking Class offers a good learning opportunity to make such Korean treats as bulgogi, bibimbap, gimbap and pajeon (Korean pancake).

Cost to join the experience is 20,000 won (approx. A$26), so a relatively cheap way to enjoy a fun lunch with your fellow participants and learn how to cook Korean cuisine at the same time. Inquiries can be made to the Hallyu Experience Program email: hallyuseoul@gmail.com

Another great hands-on cultural experience of Korea's traditional culture for visitors is to join the free Taekwondo classes at the Namsangol Hanok Village. A special taekwondo experience program exclusively for foreign visitors started mid May and runs to 26 October, 2017 (except July 7-31 August). The class includes the basic forms of taekwondo, a martial art that represents Korea around the world. The classes are run in English and are totally free of charge. Classes run on Wednesdays and Thursdays for one hour from 10.30am.

Registration for classes is accepted online up to three days prior with a maximum of 20 students per class. Further information: https://goo.gl/forms/25xWOzi3crRISL3v1

Other experience programs to be enjoyed at Namsangol Hanok Village range from a traditional tea ceremony to a straw craft demonstration to making folk craft as well as a hanbok (Korean dress) experience, a great way to get special photos for your family and friends back home. Some programs are free and others are minimal cost from 3,000-10,000 won (approx. A$4-$13).

These are just two of the exciting new ways to have an authentic Korean experience on your travels in the country. For general information on travelling in Korea get your free guidebooks and information from Korea Tourism Organization Sydney office email: visitkorea@knto.org.au or order online at www.visitkorea.org.au

VIVID Sydney 2017 at Loftus Lane

At Loftus Lane in Circular Quay, 'Tidal' is a 3D installation that draws on real-time tidal data and sampling audio to present scenarios that range from the hustle and bustle of Circular Quay, to the beauty and nature of Bradley’s Head; woven throughout are stories of the city’s landscape, history and architecture. 

Ends 17 June, 6pm–11pm nightly. 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Khanh Hoa: ceramic, brocade exhibition highlights Cham culture

An exhibition showcasing ceramic and brocade products of the Cham people in central Ninh Thuan province, began in the Ponagar Tower centre in central Khanh Hoa province on June 9 as part of activities of the upcoming Khanh Hoa-Nha Trang Sea Festival 2017.

On display are nearly 1,000 ceramic products from the Bau Truc ceramic village, and 2,000 brocade products woven by artisans from the Cham ethnic group in the central province of Ninh Thuan.

Visitors can learn to make ceramic and brocade products.

According to Nguyen Van Thich, former director of the Khanh Hoa provincial preservation centre, prominent Cham culture - related architecture works in the locality are promoted and preserved effectively.

The Ponagar Tower - a national history and culture relic site in the locality attracts dozens of thousand of believers and tourists for exercising religious practice and spending holidays every year, Thich said, adding that ceramic and brocade trade crafts of the Cham people are also widely introduced to visitors and locals.

This is the fifth time ceramic products from the Bau Truc ceramic village and woven brocade products of the Cham people in Ninh Thuan have been displayed in the Khanh Hoa - Nha Trang Sea Festival.

The festival, slated for June 10-13, is expected to greet about 150,000 domestic and foreign tourists.

The biennial festival is estimated to cost more than 28 billion VND (1.23 million USD), of which 17.3 billion VND (761,000 USD) will be funded by enterprises.

See Vivid Sydney from the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

See Vivid Sydney in a new light AND from a new height! 

Enjoy panoramic views of Sydney Harbour with BridgeClimb Sydney, as their 'Vivid Climb' leads you to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge before dancing under the stars on an illuminated 70’s style multi-coloured flashing dance floor. 

Ends 17 June.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

DENI UTE MUSTER ANNOUNCES ALL-AUSTRALIAN PARTY ON THE PLAINS

The Deni Ute Muster has announced an all-Australian music line-up for the 2017 festival.

Country music favourites Lee Kernaghan, The McClymonts and Shannon Noll are back, with Sara Storer and James Blundell also headlining the program.

Taking place from 29-30 September, the annual Deni Ute Muster is one of Australia’s most iconic events with around 18,000 patrons flocking to Deniliquin in the NSW Riverina for the event.

NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said the Deni Ute Muster is proudly supported by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

“As one of the country’s premier regional events, the Deni Ute Muster encapsulates the uniqueness and vibrancy of Australia’s rural heritage and culture,” Mr Marshall said.

“Since its inception the event has grown steadily, generating considerable economic benefits to the Riverina region. With a sensational program scheduled across two days, I encourage visitors to start planning their trip to Deniliquin for the chance to experience this standout regional NSW event.”

Click here to see the full event program.

FANNY LUMSDEN & TOBIAS ANNOUNCE CENTRAL WEST QLD TOUR

Australian folktronic artist Tobias and CMC and Golden Guitar award winner FannyLumsden are excited to announce they have teamed up with Rotary, and will be taking their music out on the road in July for 4 exciting shows in Central West QLD. 

A mutual love and respect forAustralian music and community has motivated these two celebrated artists to join forces and meet the Australian live outback audiences head on. Both Tobias and Fanny Lumsden have enjoyed much success having various singles receiving national airplay on Australian radio, along with performing at festivals throughout Australia, and sharing the stage with some of the country’s biggest names.

Tobias and Fannyn Lumsden will be kicking off their shows in Longreach on Thursday 20th July and will be making their way through a host of venues including small halls, ending the tour in the small outback town of Yaraka on Sunday 23rd July, a town boasting a population of just over 100 people! "What I love about performing music in Australia is connecting with the communities I travel too. I think both my music and Fanny's will really resonate with these audience. It’s also really exciting to team up with an organization like Rotary, it's a wonderful feeling being able to give back to a community and participate in bringing people together rather than being the 'attraction' of an event" says Tobias.

Tobias and Fanny Lumsden met when they both performed at the 2016/2017 Woodford Folk Festival and discussed the importance of not only sharing music, but using music to help community organizations for local causes that many of us may be unaware of on the east coast of Australia, like the drought. No stranger to playing to Country audiences, Fanny is looking forward to the shows in July - "we can't wait to get out and swap some stories with the folks of central Queensland! These are my favorite types of shows and it will be the first time we have got the chance to get out there and share our music!' says Fanny.

As fortuitous as meetings go, it was at a house concert in sleepy Maryborough, Qld when a Rotary member saw Tobias perform. Knowing he would be perfect for a project they were hatching, Tobias was quickly introduced to Longreach Rotary President David Phelps, and thus the idea was created. David Phelps stated this project is close to his heart and is looking forward to seeing the impact it will have on communities. "It means a lot to have Tobias and Fanny Lumsden heading out west on their drought relief tour. They will bring families and communities together who have been facing tough times for five years now. We don’t know when this drought will end, but the big rains will come eventually. The wait is easier when we know we have the support of people like Tobias and Fanny Lumsden — and yourselves in towns and cities all around Australia".

David is hoping that through these concerts they will be able to generate funds and much needed awareness for the West QLD Drought Appeal, which supports people in remote areas affected by the long drought. "They will also show how everyone can let farm families and communities know that you care, by donating to the Western Queensland Drought Appeal. The appeal is a charity established by people living the drought, for the benefit of families right across the outback", said David.

GIG DATES:
Thursday 20th July - Longreach Civic Centre – Longreach, QLD
Friday 21st July - Ilfracombe Hall – Ilfracombe, QLD
Saturday 22nd July - Isisford Hall – Isisford, QLD
Sunday 23rd July- Yaraka Hall – Yaraka, QLD


Concerts in Ilfracombe, Isisford and Yaraka are free entry. Please arrive early to guarantee your seat.

Tickets to the Longreach concert are FREE – registrations are essential. Click here to register.