SCENIC TOURS LAUNCHES 2013 CANADA, ALASKA & USA


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Australia's number one tour operator to Canada and Alaska, Scenic Tours, has launched their 2013 Canada, Alaska and United States of America program with a number of exciting enhancements including the introduction of increased touring in the United States of America.

With Scenic Tours, guests will experience the finest hotels, cruise lines and rail experiences. Scenic Tours is the only tour operator with the exclusive access to the full range of Fairmont hotels and Resorts in Canada; they are partners with the renowned Rocky Mountaineer including a guaranteed upgrade to Gold Leaf class, as well as with luxury Alaskan cruise lines, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises. All tours are in small groups with a maximum of 40 guests ensuring a more personalised experience and extra space.

All Scenic Enrich (once-in-a-life time, culturally enhancing experiences) and Scenic FreeChoice activities (allowing guests the freedom to choose at no extra cost), events and dining experiences are all included. All tours are fully escorted with local Tour Directors and Cruise Directors and include all tipping and gratuities.

The exciting news for 2013 is the extension of the USA program with six new itineraries where guests will discover the California Coast featuring Yosemite National Park, the Grand National Parks and Canyonlands, the historic Trails of the east, the Southern Belles and the Caribbean.

Also new for 2013 are three new Canada and Alaska itineraries. Guests will now be able to travel from Montréal to Victoria including the Rocky Mountains, Vancouver, Denali, Mount McKinley, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Ottawa and Québec City, plus an Alaskan cruise and Arctic Circle flight. Or travel from Toronto to Vancouver including Niagara Falls, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ottawa, Québec City, Victoria, Banff, Whistler, Lake Louise, plus a seven night Alaskan cruise including Glacier Bay and Juneau. In Alaska, guests will discover these extraordinary new destinations on the 28 day Rockies, Voyage of the Glaciers, Kenai Peninsula & the Arctic Circle tour.

Scenic Tours strives in maintaining their lead in Canada and Alaska touring and every year enhances the ultimate of the 5 star all-inclusive touring experience based on customer satisfaction.

Proudly Australian and unashamedly passionate, for 25 years Scenic Tours has been delivering the ultimate in all-inclusive luxury touring experiences to unique and extraordinary places on every continent. www.scenictours.com.au





Fiji's Vatulele Island remains closed

Vatulele Island Resort
by Roderick Eime in Fiji

It appears the luxury A$800/night resort, Vatulele Island Resort, will remain closed indefinitely following its sale to controversial developer, Albert Bertini. According to a report in the NZ Herald, Hawera (NZ)-based rural services business and Hanover Finance victim Allied Farmers, borrowed NZ$11.6 million in 2009 to acquire the resort.

The 50-year-old Mr Bertini, apparently made overtures for the Fiji property, winner of the 'Fiji's Leading Resort' title at the 2010 World Travel Awards, as far back as July 2011 when he 'spontaneously' married 24-year-old, former teenage surf competitor Rened Hyman on the island. Bertini hit the news again when the company behind the refurbishment of the South Sydney Leagues Club went into receivership in March raising concerns that partners and pals, Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court, would also be exposed.

Quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald at the time, Mr Bertini said, despite his losses, "Nothing damages me."

A note on the Facebook page placed by outgoing receivers, ANZ (Fiji), dated 8 March 2012, reads:

We are pleased to announce the sale of the Vatulele Island Resort which has been completed on 29 February, 2012 to a Fiji incorporated company, Trivest International Limited, owned by Mr Albert Bertini, a prominent Australian property developer.

The new owner plans a significant expansion, refurbishment and upgrading of the Resort and replacement and upgrading of Resort infrastructure and accordingly the Resort is closing at the end of February, 2012 to allow this expansion, refurbishment and upgrading to proceed during March and April 2012. We see this as an exciting stage for this iconic property.

Accordingly, the Resort will not be open during the period of the refurbishment and all existing bookings will be refunded. Guests with bookings will be offered alternative accommodation at other leading resorts in Fiji. The Resort regrets any inconvenience to those holding bookings during the closure period.

It is expected that the new owner will make an announcement about the reopening of the Resort upon completion of the upgrading works. Having operated the Resort as Receiver/Managers since 14 June, 2011, we wish to thank our staff and partners for their co-operation and continued support for the Resort.

Malaysia Airlines takes delivery of Airbus A380

 source:

Malaysia Airlines joins Airbus A380 club


Malaysia Airlines has taken delivery of its first A380 aircraft at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, becoming the eighth carrier of the world’s largest and most eco-efficient airliner.

The new aircraft will fly non-stop from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, three times a week, from July 2nd 2012.

Malaysia Airlines’ A380 has a capacity of 494 seats, comprising of 350 economy and eight fully-flat first-class seats on the main (lower) deck, and 66 fully-flat business-class and 70 economy seats on the upper deck.

The airline has six A380 aircraft on order, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, with the second due to be introduced on the London-Kuala Lumpur route in August 2012, which will provide a daily non-stop A380 service to Kuala Lumpur.

The introduction of the A380 follows the upgrading of the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge at London Heathrow’s Terminal 4, which features pre-boarding dining and shower facilities and impressive views overlooking the runway at Heathrow, as well as a new Golden Lounge at Kuala Lumpur.



“The A380 showcases our latest premium offering,” said Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, Malaysia Airlines’ chief executive.

“This will be our flagship aircraft offering new levels of comfort, luxury and convenience for long-haul travel.

“With the A380 in our fleet, we will reinforce our position as one of the worlds’s preferred premium carriers bringing great Malaysian Hospitality to our customers.”

Providing new levels of unique Malaysian Hospitality to passengers, Malaysia Airlines’ A380 enhancements will include the introduction of the ‘Chef-on-Call’ service – currently only available to first class guests – for business class passengers.


A Thales seat back on-demand system, with easy-to-use on-screen controls, will offer every passenger the latest in-flight entertainment.

All seats in all classes are also equipped with USB ports and satellite telephone facilities.

Malaysia Airlines is due to join the oneworld alliance in the last quarter of 2012.

The carrier is also considered Asia’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards.

Excitement builds as Virgin Galactic given green light for powered flights

It may still be some way off but MTA – Mobile Travel Agents' Managing Director, Roy Merricks and his team are hopeful they will soon be gearing up to start sending the first Virgin Galactic 'future astronauts' into space.

Mr Merricks said the Virgin Galactic spaceline flights were now one step closer following news that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US has granted experimental launch permits for the company's Spaceship Two and WhiteKnight Two spacecraft.

MTA is infact one of only eight agencies in Australia to be handpicked by Virgin Group supremo Sir Richard Branson to sell his space tourism project.

 "According to the advice we have received this represents an important milestone in Virgin Galactic coming one step closer to bringing customers into space," Mr Merricks said.

SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo have already made significant progress in their flight test program.

With 80 test flights completed, WhiteKnightTwo is substantially through its test plan while the more recently constructed SpaceShipTwo has safely completed sixteen free flights including three thattested the vehicle's unique "feathering" re-entry system.

Additionally, its vehicle developer, Scaled Composites (Scaled)), has successfully completed ten test firings of the full scale SpaceShipTwo rocket motor, including full duration burns.

According to The President of Scaled Composites (Scaled), the US company which is developing the craft, the  Spaceship program is making steady progress.

Scaled president, Doug Shane, said the company was now looking forward lighting the vehicle's rocket engine in flight for the first time.

Although a handful of experimental launch permits have been granted to other rockets, SpaceShipTwo is the first rocket-powered vehicle that carries humans on board to receive such a permit.

SpaceShipOne, the manned spaceship successfully flown to space in 2004 and the basis for the design of SpaceShipTwo, flew before the Experimental Permit regulatory regime was established.

Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS, is on track to be the world's first commercial spaceline.


W:       www.mtatravel.com.au


Australian Gourmet Traveller 2012 Travel Award winners announced


The June issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller, out today, unveils the cream of Australia's travel crop, from the outback to the coast and beyond.

The winners of the sixth annual Gourmet Traveller Travel Awards were announced last night at an exclusive dinner at the lavishly refurbished Park Hyatt Sydney hosted by the editor of Gourmet Traveller, Anthea Loucas, and attended by Australia’s travel industry leaders.

Special guests included Nine Network personality and Getaway Lounge ambassador Catriona Rowntree, who acted as MC; star chefs Neil Perry, Guillaume Brahimi and Justin North; and Renaud Tinel of awards sponsor Nespresso.

Highlights of the 2012 Gourmet Traveller Travel Awards include the revamped Lizard Island (winner of Best Resort or Lodge); new categories such as Best Weekend Away and Best Stopover City (won by Melbourne and Singapore, respectively); South Australia's Arkaba Station (Best Outback Experience); the Whitsundays' Qualia (Best Australian Island Resort and Best Spa); and Hobart's MONA (Standout Australian Travel Experience for the second consecutive year).

London, naturally, is the Hottest International City of 2012: nowhere else will hold a candle, far less an Olympic torch, to the English capital this year.

Gourmet Traveller editor Anthea Loucas said: “While our soaring dollar has sent Aussies overseas in record numbers this year, there are loads of exciting experiences to be had right on our doorstep. We are proud to again celebrate the achievements of Australia's finest travel operators through our sixth annual Travel Awards. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists, and a big thank you to our Gourmet Traveller readers and Getaway viewers.”

This year's Gourmet Traveller Travel Awards attracted more than 22,000 votes. One lucky voter wins the main prize, courtesy of boutique hotel gurus Mr & Mrs Smith: a five-night escape to Shanghai worth $11,250, including return airfares with Qantas and accommodation at The PuLi Hotel and Spa.

The 13 Readers' Choice categories and finalists were chosen by an expert panel of travel writers, editors, photographers and independent industry professionals.

Gourmet Traveller readers and viewers of the Nine Network's Getaway program were then able to vote online in each of the categories.

Winners of a further five Expert Awards categories were chosen by the expert panel alone.

THE 2012 READERS' CHOICE AWARDS WINNERS:

• Nespresso Best Large Luxury Hotel: Crown Towers, Melbourne, Vic
• Best Adventure Tourism: Cradle Mountain Huts, Tas (2nd consecutive year)
• Getaway Best Family Experience: Lord Howe Island, NSW
• Best Weekend Away: Melbourne, Vic
• Best Spa: Qualia, Hamilton Island, Qld (3rd consecutive year)
• Best Indigenous Tourism Experience: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia
• Best Hotel/Resort Dining: Lake House, Vic (3rd consecutive year)
• Best Cruise Line: Orion Expedition Cruises (4th consecutive year)
• Best Airline Service: Emirates
• Best Stopover City: Singapore
• Best Golf Resort: Coolum Golf and Spa, Qld
• Best Resort or Lodge: Lizard Island, Qld
• Best Cellar Door Experience: Logan Wines, NSW

THE EXPERT PANEL AWARD WINNERS:

• Best Capital City Hotel: Park Hyatt Sydney, Sydney, NSW
• Best Australian Island Resort: Qualia, Hamilton Island, Qld
• Best Outback Experience: Arkaba Station, SA
• Standout Australian Travel Experience: MONA, Tas (2nd consecutive year)
• Hottest International City: London, UK

The list of winners and details are published in the June issue of Gourmet Traveller, on sale Wednesday 30 May, and online at gourmettraveller.com.au


World Fisheries Trust and Esquimalt Parks and Recreation are hosting an Oceans Day Festival at Esquimalt Gorge Park on Sunday, June 3rd 2012 from 12:00 PM to 3:30 PM.
World Fisheries Trust, a local NGO that delivers environmental education and conservation programs both locally and internationally, is working in collaboration with Esquimalt Parks and Recreation to join hundreds of other educators, conservation organizations, stewardship groups and thousands of individuals around the world to celebrate our shared ocean.


This year's Oceans Day theme is "Youth - the Next Wave for Change", and we are promoting and coordinating activities worldwide with a focus on getting youth involved in conserving the world's oceans. As such, our Oceans Day Festival will include activities such as live music, crafts, food, face painting, canoe tours of the Gorge, touch tanks with local marine life, interpretive walks, and educational and interactive displays and models among other activities.


Admission to the festival is absolutely free.



World Fisheries Trust and Esquimalt Parks and Recreation are hosting an Oceans Day Festival at Esquimalt Gorge Park on Sunday, June 3rd 2012 from 12:00 PM to 3:30 PM.
World Fisheries Trust, a local NGO that delivers environmental education and conservation programs both locally and internationally, is working in collaboration with Esquimalt Parks and Recreation to join hundreds of other educators, conservation organizations, stewardship groups and thousands of individuals around the world to celebrate our shared ocean.


This year's Oceans Day theme is "Youth - the Next Wave for Change", and we are promoting and coordinating activities worldwide with a focus on getting youth involved in conserving the world's oceans. As such, our Oceans Day Festival will include activities such as live music, crafts, food, face painting, canoe tours of the Gorge, touch tanks with local marine life, interpretive walks, and educational and interactive displays and models among other activities.


Admission to the festival is absolutely free.

Discover the World Marketing has moved



Discover the World Marketing is excited to announce that we have moved into a new office this week. After 30 years in North Sydney we have relocated to the Sydney CBD, into a newly refurbished office to accommodate our expanding team.

“Over the last few years we have experienced significant growth and as a result we out grew our office in North Sydney” says Birgit Eisbrenner, Discover the World Marketing’s Country Director. “Our new central location will provide great access for our partners and clients”.

“After an initial hitch with our systems, I am pleased to advise that our emails are up and running now. Some of our phones lines are however still affected and we would like to apologise to our valued travel partners for any inconvenience caused" continues Birgit.

We have set up dedicated mobile phones in addition to the below land lines which are in full operation:

Discover the World Marketing:
02 9959 3696 or 0401 857 390

Discover the World Marketing Travel:
02 9959 5309 or 0421 851 381

Expedia TAAP:
1800 726 618 or 0432 491 367

Our new address is Level 7, 89 York Street Sydney.

Korea Invites the World to join the fun at Expo 2012 Yeosu


The world's largest international fair in 2012, Expo 2012 Yeosu has opened in Korea on May 12.  Last Sunday, 27 May the Australian Pavilion hosted Australian national day at the Expo and had the opportunity to show the world what Australia has to offer.  With famous international model Jessica Gomez, pop sensation Jessica Mauboy and several other Australian performers they shone the light on the Australian pavilion at Expo 2012 Yeosu.

The Australian pavilion has won popular appraisal from visitors who are warmly welcomed by 'Alpy' the mascot, an Australian little penguin.  The theme of the Australian pavilion is 'In Harmony with the Ocean' where visitors can learn and enjoy many aspects of Australia's high environmental, scientific and technical capabilities in marine conservation and its commitment to sustainable development of our vast natural resources.

Expo 2012 Yeosu runs for three months until the 12th August.  The Expo is drawing great interest from international visitors to its pavilions.  From the world's first off-shore exhibition hall to Korea's largest aquarium and an International Pavilion which houses Australia's exhibition hall to the 'Big O', a 43metre tall structure over water is drawing great interest from around the world.

The 'Big O' is the place to enjoy the beautiful fountain show that features the world's first hologram video technology.  The 'Big O' is an oval shaped steel structure that has an enclosed water screen that shows videos, while the outer rim is installed with devices that produce water jets, mist, flames, lights, lasers etc. 

The Expo Digital Gallery is where Korea's world first digital technology shines, a giant LED display covers the entire ceiling and walls of the main street of the Expo site.  Through diverse exhibitions, the Digital Gallery aims to highlight the importance of nature to humanity.

The amazing structure of the world's first pavilion to be built offshore is the Theme Pavilion exhibition with the theme of the Expo 'The Living Ocean and Coast'.  Different images of the five oceans are shown on the 20 metre long video wall display and the half moon five metre diameter video screen creating an amazing underwater experience


The Korean pavilion built in the shape of a 'taeguk' or yin-yang symbol features an exhibition hall showcasing various media presentations using digital and analogue technologies and a media hall showing films about the future of Korea's role in the global marine industry.

The Aquarium/Marine Life Pavilion at over six thousand square metres is the largest in Korea where visitors can observe rare marine life like beluga whales, Baikal seals and penguins etc.

The Marine Life Pavilion allows visitors to interact with sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, jellyfish and more.  The Eco-Terrarium simulates the ecological features of the Amazon.  The pavilion also houses a mudflat ecosystem centre and a 4D submarine simulator to explore the aquatic life 6,000 metres under water.

There are a total of 106 participating countries in the International Pavilion which is divided into five sections each named after the earth's five oceans.  The Australian Pavilion is located here.  This pavilion also features a second floor restaurant hall serving and selling specialty dishes from around the world.

The Expo Hall showcases diverse cultural performances where visitors to the country will be able to enjoy Korea's traditional music and dance performances.  Also there are five themed Expo Plazas which have daily entertainment and events to enjoy.

The Corporate Pavilion depicts the future of the shipbuilding, marine, IT and green-growth industries.  It is comprised of seven individual company pavilions representing GS, Hyundai Motor, LG, Lotte, Samsung, SK and POSCO.

The Energy Park is designed to demonstrate the vision of 'Low Carbon, Green Growth'  The Renewable Energy Production facility houses a solar power plant and energy promotion centre and the Experience Zone provides platforms for energy education through energy orchestra, water cannon bikes and a dance floor.

A big drawcard for visitors to the event is the many K-POP Concerts being held at Expo 2012 Yeosu over the next two and half months.  The line-up includes some of Korea's biggest stars such as Wonder Girls, BEAST, SHINee, 2AM, Miss A, Super Junior and MBLAQ.

A Hallyu (Korean wave) concert scheduled for June 9 and sponsored by Korea Tourism Organization will include BEAST, Jay Park, A Pink, BTOB.  Big Wave concerts will be held on June 15, 19, 26, July 5, 21 and on August 11 prior to the Expo closing on August 12.

Many other K-POP concerts are being held from now until close of the Expo on August 12,   the best way to check the latest schedule of upcoming events is via the official Expo 2012 Yeosu website: http://eng.expo2012.kr

A standard one day pass to Expo 2012 costs 33,000 Korean won for adults (approx. A$28) and children/Seniors 19,000 Korean won (approx. A$15.80)   Tickets can be purchased online on the Expo 2012 website. 

Tour packages from Australia are available through CTS Tours who have tours starting at $2,300 per person twin share for a 6day/5night package tour to Seoul and Yeosu including return airfares Australia/Korea, accommodation, city tour of Seoul, two days at Yeosu expo and return KTX express train tickets from Seoul to Yeosu return. 

Contact:  CTS Tours by email:  ctstours@chinatravel.com.au 

Website:  http://www.chinatravel.com.au

Legend Asia have a three day/2night package from Seoul to Yeosu starting at $380 per person twin share including return KTX train to Gwangju, free shuttle bus from Gwangju to Yeosu, two nights accomodation with daily breakfasts and Expo admission for two days.

Further information:  Legend Asia Email:  bookings@legendasia.com.au 

Website:  www.legendasia.com.au

Lotte Travel have three day land only packages from Seoul-Yeosu including return KTX and accommodation from Seoul for $329 per person twin share depending on accommodation choice.  Packages with return airfare to Korea starts from $1,599 till 17 June.

Website:  Lotte Travel  www.lottetravel.com.au  Email:  info@lottetravel.com.aU

Smile Travel also have a three day/2nights package from $299 per person twin share including staying in either Suncheon or Gwangju nearby the Expo, return KTX from Seoul and free shuttle to Expo site. 

More information:  Smile Travel  Email:  smiletravelcity@yahoo.com.au

Website:  http://www.smiletravel.com.au

For more information on travel in Korea or Expo 2012 Yeosu contact the Sydney office of Korea Tourism Organization to request information, travel guide book etc. 

Email:  visitkorea@knto.org.au   Phone:  02)9252-1717

Official travel website for Korea:  www.visitkorea.or.kr

 

Chiang Mai death hotel is coming down


by Ian Jarrett/ TravelMole

The Chiang Mai hotel at the centre of a mystery after four guests - three of them tourists - died at the northern Thailand property, is being demolished to make way for a new hotel.

The Downtown Inn made headlines amid claims that chemicals used there might have caused the deaths.

A British couple, a 23-year-old New Zealander, and a Thai tour guide all died within 16 days in adjoining rooms at the three-star Downtown Inn in February 2011.

Thai health authorities initially blamed "toxic seaweed" for one of the deaths, but it later emerged that hotel staff might have been over-zealous with the use of pesticides to remove bed bugs.

The Bangkok Post reported that an official report - released after a five-month probe into the incidents - concluded that three of the deaths were probably connected to the use of pesticides.

Chiang Mai authorities have subsequently introduced a series of public health safety measures which they hope will offer greater protection to tourists.

Boozy 20-somethings deemed trouble by travel insurers


Travellers aged 23 to 30 encounters the most strife when travelling overseas, particularly those under the influence of alcohol, 1Cover Travel Insurance today announced.

Compiled data from the insurer highlights 20-somethings as the age group making the most claims – particularly for medical expenses and lost luggage. Managing director of 1Cover, Eddie Feltham, said he was surprised at the results.

“Our recent claims data reveals that young adults are claiming for medical reasons more so than their older counterparts,” he said. “It’s surprising considering that when people hit a certain age they pay a higher premium. The older you are the more likely you are to have an accident.”

Older people also pay more for pre-existing medical conditions, but Mr Feltham believes the general health of travellers is not what bucked the trend – its alcohol and mindset.

“We can assume that the heightened claims amongst 20-somethings are both due to their stronger belief of entitlement as well as binge drinking and the influence of alcohol.”

The 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that alcohol is a significant contributor to violence and hospitalisation of young adult and underwriters, Allianz Global Assistance, agree this carries over to behaviour abroad.

Claims Manager at Allianz Global Assistance, Peter Teen, said that they frequently dealt with claims where hospitalisations were attributed to misuse of alcohol and drugs. He warned young travellers about so-called ‘jungle juice’ and drink spiking at popular holiday destinations.

“Keep an eye on your drinks to protect against spiking and be mindful of what you are consuming - drinks can be laced with methanol which is poisonous. People have died from drinking jungle-juice,” he said.

1Cover found that young Australians mostly claim on their travel insurance for:
  • damaged personal items (e.g. iPhones, iPads, camera)
  • fractures or ligament injuries from ski/snowboarding accidents
  • lost passports
  • motorbike/scooter accidents (important for travellers to be licensed as according to local laws and they must also wear a helmet)
  • gastroenteritis while holidaying in remote locations (South America/Asia).

VIRGIN ATLANTIC ARRIVES IN VANCOUVER

Virgin Atlantic today celebrated its first flight between London Heathrow and Vancouver. 

The inaugural flight arrived in Vancouver today, 25th May and to mark the occasion, Sir Richard Branson was joined on the steps of the aircraft by Amy Williams MBE, winter Olympic Gold medallist from Vancouver 2010.

The new service will operate four times a week on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Initially the service will run throughout the summer up until 27th October 2012 and will see up to 40,000 Virgin Atlantic customers travelling between London and Vancouver in the first season.  As the airline's 32nd worldwide route, it is estimated that Virgin Atlantic's flights will deliver around CAD$20million (UK£12.5m) of tourism revenue to the Vancouver market each year.

Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic Airways commented:

"I am delighted to be here to mark this occasion and especially pleased to be joined by Amy Williams who is undoubtedly the darling of British Winter Sport – she returned home to the UK from Vancouver in 2010 as a National heroine."

"We've had lots of customers asking us to fly to Vancouver over the years, so we're delighted to launch this new route in response to customer demand.  Vancouver is such a cosmopolitan city, full of culture, shopping and restaurants but it also offers stunning beaches and a range of outdoor adventure options on its doorstep.  Vancouver's tourism is thriving and we believe that we can drive demand even higher by providing great competition with our award winning product and service. The UK has the largest number of overseas visitors to British Columbha each year so it is a natural addition to our route network.  This route launch further cements our position as the UK's leading long haul leisure airline."

Amy Williams, MBE, winter Olympic Gold medallist from Vancouver 2020 commented:

 "I've not been back to Vancouver since winning gold over two years ago so I am really excited to be here again.   It will no doubt be an emotional experience to go back to slide centre and to see how I feel and what emotions come flooding back.  Vancouver is a fantastic city and I am looking forward to being part of Virgin Atlantic's celebrations and to see what it's like now and if it's still reminiscent of the Games."

Sir Richard Branson along with the plane full of VIPS were greeted by a traditional ice hockey welcome and The Honorable Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia who said: 

"It is great news that Virgin Atlantic has chosen to add four weekly flights between London and Vancouver. The United Kingdom is one of our key markets and also serves as a hub for other international travellers heading to our province.

"Virgin Atlantic is recognised around the world as a progressive and innovative airline and we are excited about welcoming their passengers to British Columbia."

Commenting on Virgin Atlantic's first flight into Vancouver Larry Berg, President and CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority, said:

"We have been working for years to bring this world-class carrier to Vancouver as a means to offer passengers more choice and satisfy the high demand for flights to Europe, particularly during the busy summer season."

"This new service means more jobs for British Columbians and increased tourism revenue, particularly given that the UK is B.C.'s single greatest source of overseas visitors."

For further information or to book please contact www.virginatlantic.com or call 0844 2092 770.


New Vancouver route facts

§  The new service  begins on 24th May 2012 and will run throughout the summer until 27th October 2012

§  The new service will operate four times a week on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday

§  The service will be operated by an Airbus A340-300, which will be configured with 34 Upper Class suites, 35 Premium Economy seats and 171 Economy seats.

§  The outbound sector from London Heathrow (VS95) will depart at 13:00 and arrive in Vancouver at 15:10

§  The inbound sector from Vancouver (VS96) will on Thursdays and Sundays depart at 19:20 and arrive in London Heathrow the next day at 13:15 and on Tuesdays and Saturdays depart at 20:05 and arrive in London Heathrow the next day at 14:00.

 

Pre-opening bookings available for Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest

Guests can now book their first stay at the new Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest, opening August 2012    

 
Guests are now visiting www.adinahotels.com.au to pre-book their first stay at the brand new

Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest.

Located within the Norwest Business Park at Baulkham Hills, the apartment hotel is set for completion in August 2012.

It will feature: 

·         106 apartments including: 

-          21 studio rooms

-          80 one bedroom apartments

-          three two bedroom apartments

-          two three bedroom apartments
·         One conference room
·         Onsite café
·         Fitness centre
·         Swimming pool
·         Car parking facilities

 
Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest will be a welcome addition to Norwest Business Park - preeminent property developer Capital Corporation's latest development. Known as 22B Norwest, it is a significant and progressive business park fast becoming a thriving commercial hub. Situated just 45 minutes' drive from Sydney's CBD, Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest will make doing business with some of Australia's leading brands easy by offering a place for guests to make themselves at home, along with providing conferencing facilities.

At Adina, there is no need to sacrifice lifestyle when travelling – guests relax in the spacious living areas of the stylish apartments, relish the convenience (and cost savings) of fully equipped kitchens and laundries and wind down at the in-house gym and pool. Also, an emerging dining and retail precinct is close for those making Adina their base while away from home or relocating.

Rachel Argaman, CEO of Toga Hotels, said: "We are delighted to offer guests the chance to pre-book their first stay at the brand new Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest. We are thrilled to introduce our known and loved Adina Apartment Hotel brand to an area with high corporate and leisure demand. Toga has embraced the growth of the Norwest Business Park and an ongoing partnership with Capital Corporation." 

Steve Grant, Director of Capital Corporation, said: "Capital Corporation has been instrumental in the development of Norwest Business Park as we have built and/or developed over 40 properties since its inception. We are pleased to be able to expand our portfolio by developing Norwest's first serviced apartments and are excited to be working with Adina Apartment Hotels on this venture."

The building which houses Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest is comprised of approximately 11,000m² of quality office accommodation and speciality showroom in addition to the quality appointed serviced apartments. Designed by Scott Carver Architects, 22B Norwest will also include a three level open deck car park, coach set down and parking areas.

Toga Hotels is currently pursuing an ambitious growth strategy for the Adina Apartment Hotel brand within Australia. In addition to Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest, coming soon is Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach (2013), Adina Apartment Hotel Mascot (2013) and Adina Apartment Hotel Royal Randwick Racecourse (2014).

For more information about Adina Apartment Hotels visit: www.adinahotels.com.au


Take In More of Western Canada This Summer with Rocky Mountaineer




Rocky Mountaineer invites travellers to explore more of Western Canada with its new Holiday Extra offer. From now until June 30, 2012, guests who book package tours of four nights or more will receive added value of up to $500 per person to put towards their choice of activities, extra hotel nights in any destination, added meals or a trip onboard the Whistler Sea to Sky Climb route, further enhancing their Rocky Mountaineer journey.

"We are delighted to introduce our enticing new Holiday Extra offer, giving guests the opportunity to enjoy all of the stunning sights of British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies the way they want to," says Hubert Wat, Vice President, Global Marketing of Rocky Mountaineer. "With customizable options such as our Whistler Sea to Sky Climb route and city stop add-ons, guests will be able to enjoy and explore more of what Western Canada has to offer."

On board the Rocky Mountaineer, guests can experience the breathtaking Canadian Rockies first-hand with the Western Explorer package, one of the many great options available with the Holiday Extra offer. The eight-night/seven-night package offers two days onboard the award-winning Rocky Mountaineer and an exciting helicopter tour soaring above through the Canadian Rockies en route to Calgary. With this limited time offer, guests are able to customize their holiday to best suit their preferred itineraries.

Travellers can take advantage of the Holiday offer from now until June 30, 2012. Additional credit of $500 per adult is for GoldLeaf Service bookings. Guests in SilverLeaf Service receive $400 per person and RedLeaf Service bookings are given a $300 per adult in added value. Further restrictions may apply.

For more information on the new Holiday Extra offer or to receive a copy of the 2012 Rocky Mountaineer brochure, please contact your local travel professional or Rocky Mountaineer directly at 00-11-800-0606-7372, or visit rockymountaineer.com. For the latest news and offers, follow us on Twitter @rmountaineer or become a fan on Facebook.


About Rocky Mountaineer

Rocky Mountaineer offers over 45 Canadian holiday packages and four unique rail routes, rich in history and natural wonders, through British Columbia and Alberta. This world renowned, luxurious train travels by daylight through the wild beauty of Canada's West and is the best way to experience the majestic Canadian Rockies, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over the past 22 years, Rocky Mountaineer has grown to become the largest privately owned passenger rail service in North America and has welcomed more than one million guests onboard from around the world. In 2011, Rocky Mountaineer received the most awards for service excellence in the company's history. Winning its seventh World Travel Award in 2011 as "World's Leading Travel Experience by Train," Rocky Mountaineer has also been recognized by National Geographic as one of the "World's Greatest Trips."

VIRGIN ATLANTIC PUTS THE GREAT IN GREAT BRITAIN



Virgin Atlantic and Visit Britain launch a jointly funded marketing campaign, Great Britain by Virgin Atlantic, marking the beginning of a year-long partnership aimed at inspiring more Australians to visit Britain in 2012 and 2013.

The $1million partnership uses elements of Visit Britain's current 'This is Great Britain' branding and Virgin Atlantic's 'London by Virgin Atlantic' creative to deliver a bespoke multi-platform, integrated marketing campaign. Creative was developed by Virgin Atlantic's creative agency RKYR London and GPYR Sydney, with media planning and buying by OMD Sydney.

Virgin Atlantic and Visit Britain have combined marketing resources to increase the share of voice of both brands in a very competitive environment. Leveraging their strengths both have aimed at creating a campaign that communicates the multiple attractions of the destination in a uniquely Virgin way.

Margy Vary, Marketing manager of Virgin Atlantic says;

"The Union Jack flag is one of the most recognisable brand symbols in the world. To highlight all that's great about Britain, we built a uniquely intriguing flag collage from multiple images of British destinations and icons.

We added the Virgin wit and flair for cut-through, and the crew girl who symbolises the sparkling premium service that we are famous for.

Finally, we seamlessly integrated Visit Britain's core brand elements and logos to leverage the awareness they have already built in this market with the 'Great' branding campaign"

Capturing Australians at the research stage of their travel plans, the Great Britain by Virgin Atlantic campaign is focused around a two phase strategy;

· Driving awareness and interest in the destination
· Closing the sale with great offers on Virgin Atlantic,

The campaign will feature;

· Online primarily with Yahoo!7, SMH and Ninemsn travel sections
· Weekend travel sections of all major metropolitan newspapers
· Radio live reads
· Social media presence on Facebook
· Travel trade media

With the Australian dollar at an all-time high against the British pound, Virgin Atlantic saw significant opportunities in the Australian market to grow leisure traffic to Britain. 2012 is a landmark year for Britain and Visit Britain are the perfect partner to help Virgin Atlantic capitalise on the increased awareness and attention that will be drawn to this exciting destination.

To mark the launch of the partnership Virgin Atlantic launched the joint creative alongside competitive sale fare to London, flying economy from $1507 including taxes.

Through this collaboration, the Great Britain by Virgin Atlantic campaign communicates both organisations' commitment of inspiring Australian travellers to visit Britain not just in 2012 but beyond into 2013.

Royal Caribbean Deploys Mariner of the Seas to China in 2013


Royal Caribbean International, at a press conference in Beijing, said Mariner of the Seas will be based in Asia in June 2013 and will offer a number of itineraries from China and Singapore to Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea throughout the rest of the year.

Mariner of the Seas is the second 3,114-passenger ship to move to the China market, joining Voyager of the Seas. Royal Caribbean executives said this illustrates the company’s commitment to the growing cruise industry in Asia. Together, the two ships represent the two largest and most modern cruise ships operating in the region.

Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Adam Goldstein, president and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean International, made the announcement with Dr. Zinan Liu, group managing director for China and Asia.

Royal Caribbean will deploy Mariner of the Seas to China in June 2013. The ship will offer a wide variety of itineraries, ranging from three nights to 12 nights. The move is designed to offer additional capacity to a fast-growing cruise in China, as well as attract cruise guests from around the world to visit China and sail around Asia. The ship will adopt the same product customizations made for Voyager of the Seas' entry in the market, including Chinese-style menus, as well as enhanced retail and entertainment offerings, and language services.

“The opportunities to attract guests from China to cruise are abundant,” says Goldstein. “Mariner of the Seas recently received a host of Royal Advantage enhancements and I’m confident cruisers here will be amazed by the Oasis-class innovations available for everyone of all ages on this ship.”

“We’ve made it clear we see Asia in general, and China in particular, as a strategic objective,” adds Fain. “We have been so pleased by the market’s response to bringing Voyager of the Seas to Asia that it made strategic sense to send a second ship of equal size.”

Mariner of the Seas, which displaces 138,279 gross registered tons, will depart the Caribbean in April 2013 and head to Singapore and onto China via Dubai and the Suez Canal. When the ship sails into China in June 2013, Mariner of the Seas will offer guests the benefits of the company’s Royal Advantage strategy, including enhanced staterooms and other innovative features.

Underscoring the significance of the growing Chinese cruise economy and established desire to sail with Royal Caribbean International, Voyager of the Seas is confirmed to return to China in 2013 for a second season. Meanwhile, Legend of the Seas, which has operated out of Singapore and Shanghai for the past three years, will return to Europe.

New ferry connects Alaska's rainforest islands



A new ferry service is in the works for Alaska's rainforest islands. Stretching out through the pristine waters of the Inside Passage, the rainforest islands offer access to glaciers, mountains, ancient forests and caves and is a destination known for fishing and bear vhewing opportunities. The 70-passenger, 14-vehicle ferry features an observation deck, recliner lounge, coffee shop and food and beverage service. It will connect Wrangell, Petersburg (via South Mitkof) and Prince of Wales Island (via Coffman Cove) four days a week, with additional service to Ketchikan (via Saxman) three days a week. Throughout the winter, service will be maintained three days a week between Wrangell, Petersburg, and Prince of Wales Island. The Rainforest Islands Ferry will also provide transportation between ferry terminals and towns on both Prince of Wales and Mitkof islands as well as to connecting points for recreational opportunities for travellers without a vehicle. For more information visit www.rainforestislandsferry.com.

VOYAGER OF THE SEAS ENDS HER EPIC VOYAGE TO SINGAPORE, ARRIVES FOR HER ASIAN DEBUT


Inline images 1

 

 Biggest cruise ship in the region arrives for first Asian season, then Australia is next


Sailing an incredible six week voyage from New Orleans via the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, Dubai and India, Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas will finally come to rest in Singapore on Saturday 26 May, but not for long. Her arrival in the island nation kicks off her debut Asian season, which will see her sailing 25 cruises ranging from three to 14 nights. Immediately following her season in Asia, Voyager of the Seas will sail to Australia and New Zealand for her first summer cruise season Down Under.

While she made the monumental journey from one corner of the world to the other, Voyager of the Seas has also been busy in other ways. In preparation for her big debuts in Asia and Australia, she's enjoyed a freshen-up with the addition of new carpets throughout and flat screen televisions in cabins, while her casino and sports decks were also refurbished.

"Voyager of the Seas is going to astound guests with unparalleled experiences on Asian waters such as an ice-skating rink onboard and an exclusive DreamWorks experience at sea – where Po and Shrek and other celebrity DreamWorks characters will engage guests with special events like parades and interactive breakfasts. And now after her recent refreshment, guests are going to love cruising on her even more," says Adam Armstrong, commercial manager, Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia.

The largest and most amenity-filled cruise ship to sail in the region, Voyager of the Seas, will offer five cruises from Singapore, before sailing to China where she presents itineraries from Shanghai (Baoshan) and Beijing (Tianjin).  Voyager of the Seas will offer cruise guests a wide range of short cruises – three-, four-, five-, seven- and eight-night itineraries in Asia – to longer, 14- to 18-night cruises in the South Pacific to New Zealand and Australia.  Voyager of the Seas will wrap up her Asian season with a 14-night repositioning cruise sailing on October 22, 2012 from Singapore, arriving in Fremantle, Australia on 5 November 2012. 

Those who cannot wait for her arrival in Australia can escape winter with an Asian cruise on Voyager of the Seas. Fares for the seven-night "Pearls of the Orient" cruise departing on 4 August 2012 start from $1119 per person. For additional information, visit www.royalcaribbean.com.au.


About Voyager of the Seas

At 137,276 gross registered tons, Voyager of the Seas ranks among the world's 10 largest and most innovative cruise ships and will offer vacationers unparalleled experiences in the region.  She introduces several unique concepts never before seen at sea in Asia. These signature onboard amenities include the:

Royal Promenade – an indoor "main street" stretching nearly the full length of the middle of the ship, lined with places to eat, drink, shop and be entertained.  Guests can stroll up and down the four-story street and enjoy regular street parades.
"Studio B" Ice Rink – an ice skating rink for guests that doubles as a sensational 700-seat venue for ice show productions with world-class figure skaters.
Eleven dining venues include specialty restaurant "Portofino" for classic Italian fine dining and 50s inspired American diner "Johnny Rockets". There's also the grand three-story, 1,919-seat main dining room.
Unparalleled sports facilities including an inline skating track, Royal Caribbean International's signature rock-climbing wall, a nine-hole mini golf course, a golf simulator, a full size sports court with basketball court, three swimming pools and six whirlpools.

Forr additional information, call 1800 754 500 or visit www.royalcaribbean.com.au or the Royal Caribbean Australia and NZ Facebook page. Travel professionals can call 1300 754 500 or visit www.cruisingpower.com.

 

 

Chateau Victoria - Hospitality Night

The Chateau Victoria hosted members of the hospitality industry tonight at Clive,s Classic Lounge and Vista 18. Everyone in Victoria and all visitors in Victoria should know this. On may17, 2012 The only bar and bartender in Canada to be recognized at this years Tales of the Cocktail and Spirited Awards is right here in Victoria. Clive';s Lounge and it's Executive Barkeep, Shawn Soole were recognized in the prestigious Top 10 list for World's Best Hotel Bar and International Bartender of the year respectively. The announcement was made from New Orleans on May 17, 2012, following a rigorous evaluation of hundreds of nominees in 17 categories. Both Clive's Classic Lounge and Shaw Soole share the top 10 designation with some amazing international company. Congratulations are indeed in order. The drinks at Clive's Classic Lounge are amazing and the food and the views from Vista 18 are incredible.

For more informaton about the Chateau Victoria, visit their web site.
— at Clive's Classic Lounge.For more pictures see our Facebook Page

Chateau Victoria - Hospitality Night

The Chateau Victoria hosted members of the hospitality industry tonight at Clive,s Classic Lounge and Vista 18. Everyone in Victoria and all visitors in Victoria should know this. On may17, 2012 The only bar and bartender in Canada to be recognized at this years Tales of the Cocktail and Spirited Awards is right here in Victoria. Clive';s Lounge and it's Executive Barkeep, Shawn Soole were recognized in the prestigious Top 10 list for World's Best Hotel Bar and International Bartender of the year respectively. The announcement was made from New Orleans on May 17, 2012, following a rigorous evaluation of hundreds of nominees in 17 categories. Both Clive's Classic Lounge and Shaw Soole share the top 10 designation with some amazing international company. Congratulations are indeed in order. The drinks at Clive's Classic Lounge are amazing and the food and the views from Vista 18 are incredible.

For more informaton about the Chateau Victoria, visit their web site.
— at Clive's Classic Lounge.For more pictures see our Facebook Page

Toga to operate Adina Apartment Hotel Mascot


Adina Apartment Hotel Mascot

Toga Hotels is pleased to announce plans to open a new hotel in late 2013 to be known as Adina Apartment Hotel Mascot.

Located less than 1km from Sydney Airport on Bourke Road, Capital Corporation will soon commence construction on the purpose built apartment hotel.

Once complete, Adina Apartment Hotel Mascot will feature:

123 apartments with a mix of:         
  • 51 studio apartments
  • 66 one bedroom apartments
  • Six two bedroom apartments
An onsite restaurant and bar
Two conference/function rooms
Onsite parking
Gym


While there are many hotels in Mascot, apartment hotels are limited. Adina Apartment Hotel Mascot will service a growing need from travellers to be accommodated in apartment style accommodation.

Mascot is a thriving business hub and Adina Apartment Hotel Mascot will meet the accommodation demand from local businesses, along with leisure and business transit-travellers. Guests will value the ease of staying just minutes away from Sydney's international and domestic airports with the added convenience of an Adina airport shuttle service. The Mascot train station is located less than 250 metres away and offers an easy transport solution for guests wanting to explore Sydney's CBD and tourist attractions. 

Setting Adina Apartment Hotel apart from the competitor set will be Adina's signature apartment space, stylish interiors, functional features and premium lifestyle facilities. The full service apartment hotel has been designed to make time in transit more comfortable. Guests will be able to prepare home cooked meals in their private apartment, wash clothes in-room in a fully equipped laundry or simply relax in contemporary living areas. For business travellers, the apartment offers space for small meetings, along with conference rooms for larger events.

Allan Vidor, Managing Director of Toga Group, said: "Adina Apartment Hotel Mascot represents another great milestone for Toga Hotels. Adina Apartment Hotel Mascot is the fourth new Adina Apartment Hotel to be announced this year following Bondi Beach, Norwest and Royal Randwick Racecourse. Toga Hotels is implementing a compelling growth strategy for our international apartment hotel brand – Adina Apartment Hotels – in Sydney, off the back of continued success in Europe.    

"In 2013 we look forward to impressing our guests with the Adina brand and are proud to be once again taking on the operating agreement for Capital Corporation."

Other new Adina Apartment Hotels coming soon include: Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest (2012), Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach (2013) and Adina Apartment Hotel Royal Randwick Racecourse (2014). These new additions to the portfolio will take the total number of Toga Hotels to 56, across the four brands; Adina Apartment Hotels, Medina Apartment Hotels, Vibe Hotels and Travelodge Hotels.


For more information about Toga Hotels, visit: www.togahotels.com.au

TRAVELLING TO EUROPE? Visit www.adina.eu

Emirates Counts Down to Catalonia Service

Barcelona press conference (from the left): Thierry Antinori, Emirates' Executive Vice President, Passenger Sales Worldwide; Salem Obaidalla, Emirates Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Europe & Russian Federation and Fernando Suárez, Emirates' Country Manager for Spain, with Emirates' cabin crew.

Emirates is fast approaching the tripling of its flights to Spain, which includes the launch of a daily service to Barcelona from 3rd July.

The airline has been stepping up activities in Barcelona, part of the commercially and culturally rich Catalonia region. On Tuesday evening, Emirates hosted a media gathering in Barcelona, sharing the latest on preparations for the Barcelona service and its expansion in Spain.

The new Barcelona link will come two days after the launch of a second Emirates' flight to Madrid on 1st July.

"The new Barcelona flight is the culmination of a very significant increase in our services to Spain," said Thierry Antinori, Emirates' Executive Vice President, Passenger Sales Worldwide.

"In the space of 48 hours, we will have tripled flights to this market in a clear demonstration of our commitment to Spain."

Also present at the press conference in Barcelona was Salem Obaidalla, Emirates Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Europe & Russian Federation, Damià Calvet i Valero, Mobility and Transport Secretary of the regional Catalan government and Sonia Corrochano, Director, Barcelona El Prat Airport.

Barcelona has one of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean and thousands of cruise passengers are amongst the city's 7 million visitors per year. The city is also the capital of the Catalonia region, which receives approximately 25% of annual foreign investment in Spain.

"Dubai is strategically located between east and west. Through our industry leading Emirates' Terminal 3 in Dubai, companies will have faster and more efficient access to Middle East, African and Asian markets. At the same time, Catalonia will be able to attract more foreign investment and our new daily service will certainly boost the tourist flow in and out of the region," Mr Antinori added.

Emirates will serve Barcelona with a 360-seat Boeing 777-300ER with highly trained, multi-lingual cabin crew on hand in the First, Business and Economy Class cabins.

The aircraft, amongst the largest in the airline's fleet, offers luxurious First Class Private Suites, lie-flat seats in Business Class and a new generation of comfort in Economy Class. First and Business Class passengers can enjoy a complimentary chauffeur service to and from the airport.

Throughout all cabin classes, gourmet chef prepared food is served, while the much-enjoyed ice entertainment system carries over 600 channels of movies, TV programmes, games and music.

From Barcelona, passengers will be able to fly more conveniently to popular destinations such as Mumbai, Delhi, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Manila. In Dubai, travellers can also pick up Emirates' flagship aircraft, the A380 when travelling to places such as Jeddah, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Sydney and Auckland.

EK 185 will depart Dubai at 0655hrs and arrive in Barcelona at 1200hrs. EK 186 will take off daily from Barcelona at 1640hrs and land in Dubai at 0100hrs the following day.

Emirates SkyCargo has been operating freighter flights to Spain since 2006, largely in support of the country's fashion industry. Clothes are also amongst Catalonia's main exports to the Gulf, along with items such as cosmetics, audio and video equipment and fresh food.

In 2010, overall trade between Spain and the UAE reached AED 4.15 billion (US $1.13 billion) and has been increasing at a rate of around 15% per year.

Emirates employs over 300 Spanish staff globally, many of whom are cabin and pilots, and regularly conducts recruitment exercises in Spain.

For flight information and bookings contact Emirates on 1300 303 777, visit your local travel agent or go to www.emirates.com/au.



KIWIS UP IN ARMS OVER TUNNEL THROUGH ‘LORD OF THE RINGS’ NATIONAL PARK


Tourism operators fear private bus tunnel will ruin Fiordland World Heritage area; more than 9,500 sign Change.org petition demanding project be scrapped

New Zealand tourism operators fear one of the world’s last great wilderness destinations, the World Heritage Fiordland national park, will be ruined by the construction of an underground bus tunnel through the area.

A private company plans to build an 11km bus tunnel in New Zealand’s Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks, both situated in the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. The tunnel would be for the exclusive use of buses to take tourists from Queenstown to the iconic Milford Sound.

Tourism groups believe the World Heritage status of the region is under threat because of the project and have joined a growing online protest aimed at halting the development.

Local resident Patricia Ko started a petition on Change.org which has been signed by more than 9,500 people. Each time the petition is signed, an email is sent to Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson, who has the final decision on the project.

Patricia said the Milford Dart tunnel project was putting at risk New Zealand's “100% Pure” brand.

“Putting a bus tunnel through this world heritage area is akin to building a chairlift to the top of Ayers Rock or putting a parking lot on top of the Great Barrier Reef,” said Patricia, who lives in Glenorchy, the town known as “The Gateway To Paradise” and for its amazing backdrops used in the Lord of the Rings, Hobbit and Narnia films.

“I can't believe that the government might jeopardise New Zealand's most valuable and precious natural tourist destination, and destroy our communities at the same time.”

Patricia has been joined by a number of tourism operators in condemning the project.

Vladka Kennet, owner-operator of inbound travel company True Travel, said the tunnel would “immensely and irreversibly affect the whole purpose, idea and success of the tourism industry in the region”.

“The majority of my clients come to New Zealand to experience the pure, almost untouched natural environment that the area has to offer,” said Vladka.

“It is the solitude, tranquillity, the end of the road destination, remoteness and the feeling of being one with the land – physically and spiritually. My clients also appreciate that the people of New Zealand treasure their natural heritage and have campaigned vigorously in the past to prevent similar ventures from going ahead.”

Dart Stables owner Jenny Davies said: “We are reminded almost daily by our clients how fortunate we are to live, work and operate in such a stunning, unspoilt part of the world. People are genuinely blown away by the area’s beauty, tranquility and the extent of wilderness on our doorstep. The tunnel project is so inappropriate on so many levels it is hard to believe it has received serious consideration.”

Steve Norris, whose business Trips 'n' Tramps offers guided tours of Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound and Te Anau, said the impact of the tunnel would be “hugely negative”.

New Zealand’s Department of Conservation has given notice of intention to grant permission for the tunnel, but the final decision rests with Conservation Minister Wilkinson, who has admitted the topic is “very controversial”.

For more information on Change.org, please visit:
http://www.change.org/about
Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by one million new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.
The Nanaimo Rhododendron Society (NRS) is hosting the American Rhododendron Society (ARS) Western Regional Conference here in Nanaimo in Sept of this year. The convention will bring together people from all over the Pacific Northwest to discuss and share ideas about rhododendrons, in addition to travelling and enjoying the countryside.
Title: American Rhododendron Society (ARS) Western Regional Conference


The theme of the conference is: Rhodos in Paradise


Dates: September 21 to 23, 2012


Place: Nanaimo, BC


Host: Nanaimo Rhododendron Society, Nanaimo, BC


website: http://arsnanaimo2012.ca


"Imagine a place,


Surrounded by mountains and oceans


Where winters are mild,


Summers are warm,


and the gardening is easy...


Welcome to Nanaimo...


A Rhodo Paradise!"
Go to our facebook page for more photos.

The Nanaimo Rhododendron Society (NRS) is hosting the American Rhododendron Society (ARS) Western Regional Conference here in Nanaimo in Sept of this year. The convention will bring together people from all over the Pacific Northwest to discuss and share ideas about rhododendrons, in addition to travelling and enjoying the countryside.
Title: American Rhododendron Society (ARS) Western Regional Conference


The theme of the conference is: Rhodos in Paradise


Dates: September 21 to 23, 2012


Place: Nanaimo, BC


Host: Nanaimo Rhododendron Society, Nanaimo, BC


website: http://arsnanaimo2012.ca


"Imagine a place,


Surrounded by mountains and oceans


Where winters are mild,


Summers are warm,


and the gardening is easy...


Welcome to Nanaimo...


A Rhodo Paradise!"
Go to our facebook page for more photos.

Mount Kinabalu - Kota Kinabalu - Places To Visit In Kinabalu Tips



Mount Kinabalu - Kota Kinabalu - Places To Visit In Kinabalu - Travel Advice

Image source - cliftonphua.blogspot. com

 This beautiful mountain is 4.084m, is located north of the island of Borneo in the region of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu being the nearest town about 80 miles away by road. The mountain's name means "where dwell the dead," and is situated in a nature park with the same name, Kinabalu Park.

The easiest way to reach this site is via a flight to Kota Kinabalu. Once at the airport, the best way to get around is by taxi. There is a tourist office at the airport where they will tell you where to go to catch a bus to Kinabalu Park, so in the taxi office you can buy a tiket to bring you up to this area, the taxi fare is about 50 ringers.

Image source - cliftonphua.blogspot. com
The place where the buses to Kinabalu Park is a bit chaotic, buses tend to leave very early, but there is an option to take a van to take you only when such vehicles are full of people. It is very easy to negotiate with these drivers and even with a dodgy pint, are usually very reliable. For my part, after we got a bargain price of 40 ringet for two (normal is 60 ringett) and the van to ourselves.

The van and the bus will leave the park gate, you need to pay a fee to enter the park. Before, I would go through the shop-bar there on the other side of the road because prices in the park are quite high and does not hurt to catch water, soft drinks and stuff that may be needed. Not a bad idea to eat at noon here.

When you enter the park you should go to the reception room and give you a guide assigned to you, you also get a ticket that will serve you for lunch, breakfast and lunch in the shelter the day of ascension. It's a little mess because they send you from one building to another to do these things but take it calmly.

The guide costs 80 ringet per group, up to 6 people, so if you can associate with others to form a good idea, since the guide costs 80 ringer and not very useful (you can make the guide takes backpack long as you pay 100 ringer).

Image source - cliftonphua.blogspot. com
The rooms tend to be shared if you go for the cheap, are cold and need shelter. They give a blanket per bed to my insufficient, and bathrooms with shower, are common differentiated by sex (in the room is usually a kit with soap and shampoo). The stay in the park is boring, not much to do. For dinner there are two options, buffet or a la carte. The buffet is more expensive than ordering a hamburger and a la carte drink,.

The day of the ascent must be the guide in the guides office near the reception, you can leave luggage bags that do not use, I think it cost 5 ringer per package. From there you take a jeep or minibus to the entrance of the path that goes up top, is as about 6km, once in this place i am just starting to climb. The climb is spectacular, everything is conditioned with steps to climb without technical difficulties.

Every kilometer or so there is a seating area with toilet and place to rest. The problem most people usually start very fast and forget that the day before would probably be at sea level and now you start with only 1.900m of altitude acclimatization night, not much but better to go slowly . The climb continues for 6 km curvy linked,-D, all with the same style of stairs, watching the flora changes as you climb.

Image source -mountkinabaluclimb.blogspot. com
The last mile will clear the forest and it shows a change of flora file where the trees are not as large and shrubs begin to appear until the refuge located at 3,200 meters.

The peak of Mount Kinabalu is very small and gets between large rocks, there are plenty of people and all doing the same picture and waiting for the dawn. If there is a clear day you can see the Philippines, in my case I could see nothing. With a lot of people who had decided to come down and watch the sunrise from a bottom but looks the same and thus avoid falling rocks in that part of so many people. The sunrise is breathtaking and timely, at 6:00 am, shows the true nature of this mountain it's awesome.

The impressive atmosphere. A dense forest, dense, moist, do not allow more than 50 meters down, and created a dark, that in moments of more intense rain was becoming sad. The sound of rain against the leaves, against the hood of the poncho, the waterfalls were added to their fatigue was becoming overwhelming. As we gained altitude we got closer to the clouds, dense enough, and only at certain times let see the rocky summit.

Image source -mountkinabaluclimb.blogspot. com
Sepilok, east of Sabah, is one of the four orangutan rehabilitation centers that exist in the world. It was the number one goal of the trip, but he complied, and as time went well, had to close. It has nothing to do with a zoo, a nature reserve, which allows you to see orangutans, monjeys and other animals in their native environment, surrounded by dense tropical vegetation.

It is also a good opportunity to see a real jungle, dense, moist, dotted with huge straight stems, with more than 50 feet above the ground, and always accompanied by rain.

The descent to the park is horribly tiresome, you better have some technique and get off quickly because they are miles and miles down stairs if they get tired less quickly.

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Illawarra Fly Launches their New School Holiday Program


The Launch of the iFly 4 Kids was a spectacular success with teams of kids in awe of the lifesize dinosaur, a Dwarf Allosaurus, that wandered the Illawarra Fly grounds along with the baby dinosaurs.

"The kids had a ball and were running around screaming as the dinosaur walked around the visitors information centre" says Neredith Elliott GM Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures "They were both amazed and terrified of the life like prehistoric animals".

The dinosaur show is part of the ERTH performance that will be running in early July. To complement The Fly's environmental treetop walk experience, Illawarra Fly launched its iFly4 Kids program. iFly 4 Kids is a series of school holiday programs with a different theme for each of the holidays. It's dedicated to delivering relevant, educational, environmental, inspirational, high quality entertainment for children and families.

"We are looking at ways to provide a different offering for our visitors" says Neredith Elliott GM Illawarra Fly "It's important for us to keep reinventing ourselves to gain return visitation as well as increase the number of new people that visit us and the region"

The new school holiday programs, collectively known as iFly 4 Kids, is expected to increase visitation to the region bringing with it economic benefits to other businesses in the area.

"We expect visitation to increase threefold during these events" says Elliott "We start with the Erth Dinosaur life size puppet show in July where kids can pat the dinosaurs and see them in action, then we are bringing snow to the Southern Highlands in September".

Steve Rosa, Southern Highlands Tourism Manager said "I'm so pleased to have such a premier attraction in our area. The iFly 4 Kids program will rejuvenate, reinvent and showcase the Southern Highlands"

"Historically the Southern Highlands wasn't a family destination but with our rebranding of the region, the iFly 4 Kids program will be a star attraction in our new campaign".

"This is a great opportunity for local businesses to really embrace this new product line up and build business around it. The expected increase in visitation brings more spend to the community" says Elliott.

Each of these events will attract new visitors to the region and will also increase repeat visitation. "We are hoping to attract more people from Sydney and Canberra. I don't think they realize how close we are to them and these events will help create more awareness of the Southern Highlands and South Coast regions".

To be presented each and every school holidays, the iFly 4 Kids program is expected to provide kids with a knock out series of activities that will offer families a great day out during each school holiday period. It's a great chance for Grandparents, & parents, to bring the kids for an exciting day out. Illawarra Fly is less than two hours from Sydney and Canberra.

"We've put together an amazing schedule of fun school holiday programs for kids" says Neredith Elliott GM Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk "For our launch event we are presenting Petting Zoo by Erth which is a fantastic show about Australian Mega Fauna that is in huge demand all around the world, kids love it"

The iFly 4 Kids tickets for all events are on sale now.

The iFly 4 Kids program includes:

- July 5-7, 2012 ERTH @ the Fly
- September 26-29 2012 Snow @ The Fly
- January 10-14, 2013 Circus @ The Fly
- April 17-20, 2013 Stars on The Fly

Illawarra Fly General Information

Located in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, less than two hours from Sydney or Canberra, Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures offers a unique way to experience the rainforest with breathtaking views from the Illawarra Escarpment overlooking the beautiful South Coast from Wollongong to Kiama.

Illawarra Fly is at Knights Hill, near Robertson in the Southern Highlands above the South Coast - why not take a tour of the Grand Pacific Drive, take in the Fly, head to Robertson and check out the famous Pie shop then cruise back home. It's a relaxing, interesting and fun day out, or take a break and spend a few days.

Enjoy the panoramic views high above the escarpment across the South Coast. "The 45m tower is a big hit being one of the highest points to view the beautiful coastline, with views from the Fly to the Coast which is over 50km away you can literally see for miles" says Elliott.

Not only can kids have fun over the school holidays, they get to learn about the rainforest with interpretive signage and they also get to burn off energy.

After your awe-inspiring walk, take in the ambience of café 106 and enjoy the varied menu with a coffee or glass of wine.

Head to Illawarra Fly for the school holidays with loads of entertainment and fun.

More information on Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures can be found at www.illawarrafly.com or phone 02 4885 1010

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