Friday, 20 April 2018

Western Wilds, Tasmania’s next iconic drive

Cradle Coast Authority
The name of Tasmania’s next iconic drive has today been revealed, with the Western Wilds now set to forge its place as a must-do Tasmanian attraction.

The Western Wilds will be a unique drive experience that will encourage visitors to explore and experience the wilderness of Western Tasmania.

It will add to the success of the Great Eastern Drive, which has seen a 20 per cent increase in visitors to Tasmania’s East Coast since its development.

The Western Wilds Project is the result of our Government’s Tasmanian Journeys Project, which included a $500,000 commitment to the project.

The work has been led by the Tourism Industry Council in partnership with Destination Southern Tasmania and the Cradle Coast Authority.

This week, a travelling roadshow will kick off in New Norfolk, before heading to Queenstown, Strahan and Cradle Mountain, where industry will be invited to engage in the next steps.

Following the roadshow, the Western Journeys Working Party will begin to identify experiences along the Western Wilds called “story stops” where visitors can stop, experience and share their story.

Local businesses will also be encouraged to tell their stories under the Western Wilds banner.

Work will also now commence on the overarching plan for signage along the route, including design, building and installation.

It is anticipated that the Western Wilds will be ready to launch in the final quarter of 2018.

The Western Wilds is the second in a series of five Journeys that the Tasmanian Government will deliver.

We have committed an additional $1.4 million over three years to deliver three other new journeys, including a Northern Journey, a Southern Journey, and a North-West Journey, to build on the Cradle Coast Tasting Trail.

We want every region to share in the benefits that an iconic drive journey can bring, such as encouraging visitors to stay longer, see more of our state and spend more.

*by Jeremy Rockliff, Acting Minister for Tourism

Saudi hospitality sector to grow 13.5% per annum to 2022

Saudi hospitality
Reforms and investment to drive hotel, travel and tourism sectors in KSA over the next five years according to new report commissioned by Arabian Travel Market

According to a new report, issued ahead of Arabian Travel Market 2018, recent reforms in Saudi Arabia – not to mention widespread investment in the Kingdom’s burgeoning tourism industry – will drive growth in the hospitality market of 13.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), higher than the established markets of the UAE (10.1%) and Oman (11.8%).

Commenting on the findings of the report, Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which takes place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 22-25, said:

“Following recent reforms and the relaxation of visa regulations, Saudi Arabia is poised to capitalise on these factors as it nurtures a vibrant leisure and entertainment sector, supported by a new generation of hotels.”

Saudi Arabia is expected to see a vast expansion of its hotel and resort inventory, along with a steep increase in airport passengers, as Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman continues to drive economic and social reforms, including direct investment in tourism.

The study produced by ATM’s research partner Colliers, found that religious tourism in the kingdom is still driving demand, with 30,000 rooms opened during 2017, with a further 40,020 guestrooms in 89 projects currently under construction – compared to 35,050 rooms in the UAE.

Last year, Saudi Arabia set the stage for this to expand to leisure tourism, as it pursues targets of 30 million visitors annually by 2030. As a result, 2018 will see the first tourism visas granted to international travellers and, for the first time, women aged 25 and older will now be able to obtain a single entry, 30-day tourist visa without a male chaperone.

The kingdom has announced a series of leisure projects in recent months, including the creation of a Six Flags theme park in Riyadh by 2021 and a Red Sea resort built on 100 miles of sandy coastline and backed by investment from Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson. Featuring hotels, residences and a transport hub, the project will create 35,000 jobs, adding SAR15 billion to the economy.

Aligned with the vision, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) ploughed SAR10 billion into entertainment ventures in 2017 and, under the National Transformation Programme (NTP) the kingdom has invested SAR171.5 billion in tourism development.

In 2017, 1,671 visitors from Saudi Arabia attended the ATM event, a 14% year-on-year increase compared with the 1,471 who visited in 2016.

Saudi Arabian exhibitors at ATM 2018 will include the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Saudia, Makarem Hotels, Saja Al Madinah, Mansard Hotel, Aljomaih Auto Rentals, ITRIP,, Choice Hotels International and Al Tayyar Travel Group.

The report, forecasts that five-year air passenger numbers will increase 8% at King Khalid International Airport Riyadh and 6% at King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah. This is compared to 8% at both Muscat and Dubai International and 7% at Abu Dhabi International.

Press added: “These higher visitor arrivals will support jobs, investment opportunities and economic diversification, in line with the kingdom’s plans for its future. In terms of regional tourism, these are game changing developments, completely unprecedented, and something few expected.”

ATM 2018 has adopted Responsible Tourism as its main theme and this will be integrated across all show verticals and activities, including focused seminar session, featuring dedicated exhibitor participation.

ATM – considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed over 39,000 people to its 2017 event, including 2,661 exhibiting companies, signing business deals worth more than $2.5 billion over the four days.

Celebrating its 25th year, ATM 2018 will build on the success of this year’s edition, with a host of seminar sessions looking back over the last 25 years and how the hospitality industry in the MENA region is expected to shape up over the next 25.

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 
is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2017 attracted almost 40,000 industry professionals, agreeing deals worth US$2.5bn over the four days. The 24th edition of ATM showcased over 2,500 exhibiting companies across 12 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, making it the largest ATM in its 24-year history. Next event 22-25 April 2018 – Dubai.

South Australia Welcomes ATE

Adelaide Convention Centre
South Australia’s $6.6 billion visitor economy is set to receive yet another major boost, this week hosting the country’s largest annual travel conference.

The Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE), is South Australia’s opportunity to impress tourism big-wigs from across the globe — attracting more than 2,000 delegates that will directly inject $10 million into the state.

Hosted at the new $400 million Adelaide Convention Centre, ATE will herald new opportunities for tourism across the state, with 700 buyers joining a contingent of more than 550 sellers and over 91 media from 20 countries.

Minister for Tourism, David Ridgway said the week of ATE is a rare and exciting opportunity to impress delegates so that they continue to encourage travel to South Australia.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of our small businesses - we must get our state brand out there so our economy and locals can continue to thrive,” Minister Ridgway said.

“We want more visitors to experience South Australia and we are committed to our 2020 target of $8 billion in tourism expenditure.

“The benefit of hosting ATE in Adelaide extends well beyond the $10mn economic impact. The long-term benefit will be the advocates we will win for our state, through these influential delegates who will experience some of the best of South Australia.”

“I thank Tourism Australia, the South Australian Tourism Commission and all the South Australian businesses for their support in the delivery of a successful ATE18,” Minister Ridgway said.

South Australian Tourism Commission, Chief Executive, Rodney Harrex said ATE is an exciting opportunity to place South Australia on the world stage and serve up its best experiences.

“South Australia is hosting 612 famil places with media and trade delegates from more than 20 countries visiting South Australian icons, including Penfolds and the newly opened d’arenberg cube,” Mr Harrex said.

“Buyers and media include our fastest growing international market, China - providing our hard-working businesses an opportunity to cash in on the lucrative market.

“There is no better way to sell South Australia than experiencing it, so it’s great to be breaking records with 49 passionate businesses representing SA at the conference and many more through media famils.

“Our operators will be out there doing what they do best, showing influential delegates how incredible our wineries, accommodation, wildlife, experiences, and state truly are” Mr Harrex said.

The Australian Tourism Exchange will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from April 15 – 19 2018.

Te Papa celebrates 20 years of Our Place

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa 
is a must do for any visitor to Wellington. 
Credit: Te Papa Museum
This last Valentine’s Day, New Zealanders celebrated their 20-year love affair with the national museum, Te Papa.

Te Papa Tongarewa the Museum of New Zealand has held a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders since the day it opened on 14 February 1998.

In the ensuing two decades, Te Papa Tongarewa (“a container for treasures”) has truly lived up to its popular name, Our Place. From the thousands who queued to be among the first to visit (35,000 people saw Te Papa on its opening day) to the more than 2 million who visited in its first year (not bad for a country that was less than 4 million population at the time) and all the visitors since, it has proven a drawcard for both New Zealanders and international visitors.

By 14 February 2018, Te Papa had hosted almost 30 million visitors and 200 weddings, discovered more than 400 new species, hosted more than 3,000 pōwhiri (Māori welcoming ceremonies), and rocked visitors with more than 1.3 million shakes of its famous earthquake house.

Consistently rated as one of the world’s best museums, and a top attraction in New Zealand, Te Papa’s immersive, interactive approach to storytelling and its biculturalism remains a model for museums around the world.

Even before it opened, at the conclusion of a massive construction project lasting four years, the new building had a high profile and attracted close scrutiny, both at home and internationally. The radical concept for Te Papa was that it would be a bicultural partnership between tangata whenua (indigenous people) and tangata tiriti (non-indigenous people), and incorporate both the national museum and national art collection.

Considered the world’s largest museum building project of the 1990s, Te Papa remains the biggest-ever investment in New Zealand culture and heritage. The elaborate earthworks and construction saw a hotel mounted on wheels and moved off the waterfront site to accommodate the massive new structure.

A landmark both in its imposing physical presence on Wellington’s waterfront and in its historical and cultural significance for New Zealand, Te Papa is rich with symbolism and a forum for the nation. Its marae (meeting place) Rongomaraeoa faces the harbour and serves as a living exhibition space for traditional Māori culture and for contemporary art and design.

The museum has not remained static, continuing to evolve and change over its 20-year lifespan. Major changes lie ahead, beginning with a new art gallery, Toi Art. The NZ$8.4 million space is the biggest change to the museum since it opened and able to hold works never shown there before. The opening on March 17 will reveal major commissions by contemporary New Zealand artists. From Easter, work will begin on a new nature and environment section to open in 2019.

The most popular free exhibition at Te Papa is Gallipoli: The scale of our war, with 1,813,916 visitors from the time of its opening on 18 April 2015 to the end of January 2018. It cost $8 million to create, and was created by Te Papa working closely with Wellington’s acclaimed film special effects maestros Weta Workshop.

From time to time over the past two decades, controversy has raged about exhibits at Te Papa – including protests about the Tania Kovats “Virgin in a condom” artwork – but the public have continued to flock to the museum.

Geraint Martin, head of Te Papa, says its appeal is enduring because it offers a different kind of museum experience. “Museums aren’t cupboards full of old stuff, they’re a mirror held up to society,” he says. “Our aim is that every New Zealander can see themselves reflected at Te Papa, and international visitors can understand the richness and diversity of Aotearoa.”

Te Papa’s kaihautū (Māori co-leader) Dr Arapata Hakiwai has been with the museum since its earliest days. He says the strength of Te Papa has always been in its ties to the community, and its relationships with iwi, hapū and whanau (tribal groups and families). “We are a place where everyone can feel at home, and everyone can find a place to stand.

“The sense of fun, of joy, of connection and surprise that we see in our visitors, young and old, is the wairua, the energy that powers this place, Our Place,” Dr Hakiwai says.

Te Papa will mark its birthday with free tours and activities, short film screenings and a concert. The museum will be open on Valentine’s Day until 9pm.

Te Papa by the numbers

  • Projected total visitors since opening (up until 14.2.2018): 28,556,141
  • Busiest day: opening day, with 35,000 visitors
  • Number of visitors in its first year: 2,002,977
  • Exhibitions: 170 
  • Most popular ticketed exhibition: Lord of the Rings 1, 219,539 visitors
  • Artworks treated by conservators: 1,580
  • Shakes of the earthquake house: 1.3 million
  • Number of colossal squids: 3 (1 on display and 2 stored for research)
  • Largest object: sailing yacht NZL32 Black Magic, which won the 1995 America’s Cup race
  • New species discovered: more than 400
  • Scientific expeditions: 700
  • Children lost (and found): 3,500
  • Teddies abandoned: 550
  • Lightbulbs changed: 22,000
  • Coffees served: 3 million-plus


South Australia is plating up its best culinary and beverage experiences with the return of Tasting Australia.

The festival, considered one of Australia’s foremost eating and drinking events, will offer even more star power and unique meals, tours, tastings and masterclasses from April 13-22.

In 2017 more than 52,000 people visited Town Square. This year’s program has grown to 10 days, includes more guest chefs from interstate and overseas and features more than 140 events across 11 South Australian regions.

New this year is Tasting Australia Airlines, offering all-inclusive full-day luxury experiences for guests to explore Kangaroo Island, Coffin Bay and the Limestone Coast. Several of these flights sold out within 48 hours.

The festival’s creative team remains strong with chef Simon Bryant, and chef Jock Zonfrillo leading the program alongside industry legends Cheong Liew as patron, Duncan Welgemoed as food ambassador and Nick Stock as beverage ambassador.

Minister for Tourism, David Ridgway said more than a third of all Tasting Australia events are sold out, demonstrating the hunger for South Australia’s unique experiences and flavours.

“Small World Bakery in Langhorne Creek is proving to be a regional champion, with their 2-day hands-on sourdough making masterclass selling out to interstate visitors,” said Minister Ridgway.

“We know that food and wine experiences are motivators of travel to SA and Tasting Australia is the perfect platform to showcase this passionate industry, incomparable regions and world-class produce.

“Regional tourism is of considerable importance and it’s great to see these areas will get a slice of the tourism pie through Tasting Australia Airlines”, said Minister Ridgway.

South Australian Tourism Commission Chief Executive Rodney Harrex said Tasting Australia was a fantastic event that tells South Australia’s food, wine and beverage story.

“We see demand for events that connect our guests with the regions, but the regions will also touch those guests who experience Tasting Australia in the city through Town Square, or at the Glasshouse Kitchen,” Mr Harrex said.

“We look forward to welcoming tens of thousands of people to the free festival hub in Victoria Square where they can share a meal, a drink or a snack with friends and family each day.”

Festival Director Simon Bryant said food and beverage lovers should embrace the opportunity to experience something new.

“I enjoy working on Tasting Australia because I see people excited about what we have here in South Australia, from guest chefs to international media and even local event-goers,” Mr Bryant said.

Programming director Jock Zonfrillo said the guest talent, including Michellin-starred chefs Norbert Niederkofler (St Hubertus, Italy) and Carlo Mirarchi (Blanca, New York), shared South Australia’s passion for ingredients, producers and growers.

“Tasting Australia is by far the most interesting food festival in Australia right now Mr Bryant said.

Tasting Australia kicks off on Friday 13 April till 22 April 2018. Locals and visitors are encouraged to visit the FREE Town Square (Victoria Square) where there will be 14 food vendors, daily varietal wine tastings, bar service by East End Cellars and d’Arenberg wines and live music.

Visit for more information.

Binh Duong spends big to preserve “Don ca tai tu” art

“don ca tai tu” art form (southern amateur singing) 
The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the southern province of Binh Duong has decided to earmark more than VND9.7 billion (US$426,800) to protect the “don ca tai tu” art form (southern amateur singing) from 2018-2020, heard a local conference on March 21.

Binh Duong is home to numerous don ca tai tu clubs, with 844 frequent members. The province will collect information to complete dossiers on the art form, while organising annual don ca tai tu singing and writing contests and festivals.

The money will be used to buy musical tools and fund the activities of 36 don ca tai tu clubs and groups.

Publicity and training work will be conducted on mass media and at schools. The art form will also be introduced in other communication programmes.

Individuals and units with outstanding contribution to preserving Don ca tai tu singing will be honoured with awards, titles of People’s Artists, Meritorious Artists and other more.

Considered one of the country’s main music genres, don ca tai tu originated from Hue court music and folk music of the southern region. The genre has been developing since the 19th century. It thrived in the early 20th century and remains an important part of the country’s traditional culture today.

The music is typically performed at festivals, death anniversary rituals and celebrations by farmer-performers. Instrumentalists and singers express their feelings by improvising based on 20 principal songs and 72 classical songs.

The art was listed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013 by UNESCO.
Source: VNA

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Johnson’s Beach celebrates 100th anniversary with music festivals

Johnson’s Beach
Long a favorite Russian River summer spot for Sonoma County locals and visitors alike, Johnson’s Beach celebrates its 100th anniversary this year with not one but three music festivals.

The Centennial Celebration kicks off the festivities on Saturday, June 9 with a day-long music festival featuring a lineup of high profile talent. Then, the beach’s popular Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival, previously held in the fall, expands into two separate events — the Russian River Blues Festival on Sunday, June 10, followed by the Russian River Jazz Fest on Sept. 8 and 9, with two full days of jazz, funk, and R&B music.

Located in the charming and eclectic riverside town of Guerneville in western Sonoma County, Johnson’s Beach provides the quintessential summertime river experience. In addition to boats, umbrellas, and other beach rentals, it offers a variety of lodging, including rooms in the 1920s lodge building, rustic cabins also built in the 1920s, and tent camping.

Johnson’s Beach, 
16241 First St. Guerneville, CA 95446, 707-869-2022

Queensland shines at peak national tourism awards

Queensland shines
10 Queensland businesses and events have taken home awards from the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards in Perth on 23 February.

Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers (pictured) once again led the way for Queensland, winning gold in the Major Festivals and Events category for the second year in a row.

Ocean Rafting from the Whitsundays also went back-to-back, winning Gold in the Major Tours and Transport Operators category while the Grand Hotel and Apartments in Townsville won Gold in the Standard Accommodation category.

A total of 25 Queensland businesses were competing at the awards after they all took out Gold in their respective categories at the 2017 Queensland Tourism Awards.

“Once again Queensland tourism has shone on the national stage - proving there’s no better place in Australia for a holiday or to attend an event,” Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said.

“The strength of our tourism industry relies on our operators and our product so to see so many Queenslanders recognised on a national stage is testament to the work they do.

“The Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers has grown into one of Queensland’s biggest events which draws tens of thousands of people to the Garden City every year. There’s no better way to experience the Whitsundays than with Ocean Rafting.

“The Grand Hotel and Apartments in Townsville also deserves congratulations for taking home gold, but every operator nominated on the night did Queensland and our tourism industry proud.”

Ms Jones said it was important tourism operators were strongly supported by the government.

“Queensland’s tourism sector has gone from strength to strength under the Palaszczuk Government with our events portfolio doubling in value to $600 million under Labor,” she said.

“We’re committed to making sure our tourism industry continues to grow. That’s why we’re investing an extra $134 million on tourism in this term of government.”

Australian Tourism Awards chair and Queensland Tourism Industry Council CEO Daniel Gschwind said the results reinforced Queensland’s reputation as a tourism and events leader.

“It was a fantastic night to be a Queenslander,” he said.

“The Whitsunday tourism industry should stand tall – it’s been a tough road for many operators in the region and their hard work and commitment has not only been inspiring but it is certainly paying off.”

The full list of Queensland winners are below:
  • Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers - GOLD - Major Festivals and Events - Southern Queensland Country
  • Ocean Rafting - GOLD - Major Tour and Transport Operators - Whitsundays
  • Grand Hotel and Apartments Townsville - GOLD - Standard Accommodation - Townsville
  • Mount Isa Mines and Rotary Rodeo - SILVER - Festivals and Events - Outback
  • Fun Over Fifty - SILVER - Tour and Transport Operators - Brisbane
  • Cobbold Village - SILVER - Hosted Accommodation - Tropical North Queensland
  • Cumberland Charter Yachts - SILVER - Unique Accommodation - Whitsundays
  • Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort - BRONZE - Ecotourism - Southern Great Barrier Reef
  • BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort - BRONZE - Caravan and Holiday Parks - Whitsundays
  • RACV Noosa Resort - BRONZE - Self-Contained Accommodation - Sunshine Coast

Greater Tokyo Train Pass is now available.

A New Plan Ticket for overseas visitors, the “Greater Tokyo Pass” is now available.

It is a Plan Ticket for three days of unlimited rides on railways of 12 participating private railway companies in Kanto area and buses of 52 companies in metropolitan Tokyo and surrounding 3 prefectures!
  • Sales launch date : April 1 (Sun.), 2018
  • Sales Locations : At Narita Airport, Haneda Airport and tourist information centers at major stations
  • Sales Prices : 7,200 yen Adults; 3,600 yen Children * Both are tax inclusive fares