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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

AITTC Event: Know India Better - River Cruising in India



To inspire further growth of travel to India , almost all attendees at the Australia India Travel & Tourism Council (AITTC) organised Round Table Conference, held last month, recommended inititives to increase destination knowledge and make the market aware of products beyond the traditional offerings. Responding to this , AITTC in partnership with India Tourism and Taj Hotels relaunced their highly successful "Know India Better" program on 25 September introducing River Cruising in India.

"India is a large and diverse country with unlimited choices for travellers. This collaboration with AITTC is one of many initiatives of India tourism Sydney office, with the objective to provide more and more information on  Indian destinations to  Australia" , said Kanchan K Kukreja, Head of india Tourism in Australia

Over 60 guests comprising of tour operators travel agents, airlines, hotelliers, media and industry personalities dominating the India- Australia tourism attened the evening event at the waterfront Indian restaurant, Manjits @ The Wharf.

In the recent times, cruising along mighty rivers has emerged as a popular style of holidaying. While in Europe voyaging along the Danube or Rhine is well known for quite some time, journeying along other key rivers of the world from the Nile and Amazon to Yangtze, Irrawaddy and the Mekong are also gaining momentum. In India, river cruise holidays are relatively new. Entrepreneurs have started offering lengths of the holy Ganges and backwaters of Kerala in luxury boats. "But drawing global attention is the one along the legendary Brahmaputra River in North-East India, aboard luxury vessel MV Mahabaahu", said Sandip Hor Chairman of AITTC in his opening remarks. " While this voyage can match up with any European river cruise in terms of accomodation and onboard facilities, the great Indian hospitality comes in as a lucrative bonus" added Hor who ventured this journey earier  this year.

Sanjay Basu, Chairman of Far Horizons group of companies talked more about MV Mahabaahu which is India's first luxury river boat cruising the mighty Brahmaputra since 2012. Owned and operated by Adventure Resorts & Cruises, one of Far Horizon's subsidiary company this vessel has 23 centrally air-conditioned staterooms, its elegant décor and hospitality bequeathing guests flavours of North East India. This journey introduces guests with all flavours of Assam from history , culture , cuisine and lifestyle to one horned rhinos at the world famous Kaziranga National Park.

Earlier Chandru Appar Deputy Consul General, Indian Consulate in Sydney and Kanchan Kukreja spoke about India's current standing as a tourist destination from Australia and Thushara Liyanarachchi, Director Global Sales - Australia & New Zealand Taj Hotels Palaces Resorts Safaris about premium accommodation choices , while travel writer Roderick Eime and Maria Visconti shared their wonderful travel experiences in India.

MC of the evening ,Phillip Boniface, Co Chairman & Trasurer AITTC presented the vote of thanks at the end.

Contact: Sandip Hor- sandip.hor@aittc.net.au

Tauck Announces 2020 Oberammergau Land Tours and River Cruises


Tauck has commenced accepting reservations on itineraries to feature the next exciting performances of Oberammergau's Passion Play in the small Bavarian town in 2020.

In 2020, Tauck will include the Passion Play (or 'Passionsspiele', as it is known locally) on two European land tours, 'Romantic Journey' and 'The Ultimate Alps & Dolomites' and two European river cruises, 'The Blue Danube' and 'The Romantic Rhine'.

Each departure of the two land journeys will include the Passion Play as part of the tour itinerary. Performances will also be featured on selected dates of the two river cruises, and will be limited to 40 guests per-departure due to ticket availability. All guests visiting Oberammergau with Tauck will enjoy premier seating in the best available section of the Passion Play theatre, private tours of must-see sights and attractions in the area, and other exclusive cultural experiences.

Those interested in experiencing the Passion Play with Tauck can reserve space on their preferred itinerary and departure date with a modest deposit. The play's organising committee will be confirming 2020 hotel allocations for all tour operators in 2019, and Tauck has requested accommodation in the region's best properties. Once hotel arrangements and pricing are finalised, Tauck guests who have reserved space will be able to cancel and receive a full refund of their deposit if they wish.

Oberammergau's Passion Play dates back to 1633, when the village was suffering from a severe plague epidemic. Residents appealed to God to ease their suffering, offering in turn to stage a performance depicting the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The plague subsided, the once-per-decade Passion Play debuted the following year, and it has been an enduring tradition ever since (with the townspeople shifting the play's performance to the first year of each new decade in 1680).

Today, the Oberammergau Passion Play is a major event involving more than 2000 local residents who participate as actors, singers, costume-makers, musicians, technicians and more. Preparations for the Passion Play begin on Ash Wednesday a full year before the first performance, when actors begin growing the long hair and beards required for their roles (no wigs are used in the production). Officials in Oberammergau expect approximately 450,000 attendees to view the Passionsspiele in 2020.

Bookings to be directed to Tauck Australia on 1300 732 300 or reservations@tauck.com.au    


   

Cunard to add fourth ship to fleet



This investment is part of the company's ambitious plans for the future of Cunard globally.

Carnival Corporation - the world's largest cruise company and parent of the Cunard brand - has signed a memorandum of agreement with Fincantieri, Italy, to build a new ship that will join the Cunard fleet in 2022.

The as yet unnamed ship will join Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth as the fourth member of the Cunard fleet, the first time since 1998 that the luxury cruise brand will have four ships in simultaneous service.

The iconic cruise brand is going from strength to strength, having seen crowds of more than one million people gather in 2015 to celebrate the company's 175th anniversary.

Cunard has subsequently invested over £120 million refurbishing the flagship Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.

Alongside an array of exciting new itineraries featuring new destinations and special event voyages for 2018 and 2019, Cunard has also continued to evolve the guest experience to meet the needs of the luxury consumer by introducing new bar and dining signatures, entertainment offerings and brand partners across the fleet.

Simon Palethorpe, senior vice president, Cunard, said: "We have only recently marked the 50th anniversary of one of Cunard's much loved ocean liners, the legendary QE2.

"What better way to celebrate her important role in Cunard's past than by announcing our commitment to Cunard's future with the commissioning of a new ship.

"Cunard offers unrivalled luxury ocean experiences and the new ship firmly underpins our plans to continue our growth across international markets."

Cunard will be revealing exciting details about the new ship during the course of 2018 and through to the ship's launch.

Cunard is a luxury British cruise line based at Carnival House in Southampton, owned by Carnival Corporation since 1998.

It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic, celebrating 175 years of operation in 2015.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

South West Rock’s Sunshine Resort new luxury lodge accommodation



You can't see these lodges for the trees

The new Ngurra Lodges have been designed to blend in with the surrounding bush, including a decal that replicates the local setting

Sunshine Resort, located in the NSW mid north coastal town of South West Rocks, has launched new luxury lodges that literally blend in with the landscape.

The seven Ngurra Lodges ('Ngurra' means "place of home" in the local Dunghutti Aboriginal language) even boast a decal that replicates the forest setting behind it.

Award-winning Crescent Head photographer, Adam Williams, has created the decals by using over 200 original photos and photo-shopping them together to create remarkably life-like landscapes which mould the lodges into the local bushland.

The $1.6 million investment in the Ngurra Lodges is the latest product innovation at Sunshine Resort, following last year's introduction of permanent 'Sunshine Tents' to meet the growing demand for glamping-style holiday experiences.

The new two-storey Ngurra Lodges have been completed with modern high quality interior design fixtures and fittings including leather lounges, modern artwork, three televisions, full kitchen and laundry facilities (including oven, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer), ensuite bathroom and two large bedrooms that can sleep up to six, with bedding in the second room adaptable to accommodate larger family groups. A large verandah is perfect for outside dining, relaxing, and taking advantage of South West Rock's attractive year-round climate.




The lodges were built in Armidale to a design by Sunshine Resort owner Tony Mayne, who is passionate about respecting the local environment. The lodges were pre-fabricated in Armidale and transported to South West Rocks where they were established on vacant ground immediately in front of sub-tropical bushland.

 "The word Ngurra comes from the language of our local Dunghutti Tribe who, years ago, used these grounds for one of their camps, hence the word Ngurra means home or hut," said Mr Mayne.

"The idea for using this Indigenous word was born out of our relationship with one of our residents, Liz, a very special person within the Sunshine 'family' and a Ngaku Elder of the local Dunghutti Tribe, whose knowledge of the region and her rich heritage based on stories passed down through many generations is inspiring and captivating. We hope guests will in turn share their stories of staying in this beautiful destination with family and friends.

"We think that South West Rocks is a very special destination, so we wanted these new Ngurra Lodges to be very special too, adding a new level of luxury while complementing the local landscape

"We were very conscious of the setting when we designed the lodges. In fact they are so 'harmonious' that the local kangaroos can be found right next to the verandas




 "Holiday parks are changing dramatically and we have always been at the forefront of meeting the new demand. We transformed the property by adding the $1 million Shipwreck Island water park two years ago. We then added villas and permanent 'Sunshine Tents' for those who like the idea of camping, but not all the hard work that goes with setting up and dismantling them, and now these luxury lodges really take the park to a new level of comfort

"We can now offer a comprehensive range of accommodation options wrapped around the popular holiday park experience. There's something for everyone –couples, groups and families can choose from traditional camping and caravanning to luxury lodges."

The multi-award winning Sunshine Resort is located at South West Rocks, halfway between Sydney and Brisbane and just over an hour from either Port Macquarie or Coffs Harbour airports. The park is surrounded by Hat Head National Park, just 10 minutes walk to the renowned Trial Bay Beach and has six of Australia's most glorious beaches – including one of the east coast's rarest phenomena, a west-facing beach, which offers spectacular sunsets – all within 15 minutes drive and ideal for all the family.

Attractions around the South West Rocks area include canoeing on the lagoon adjacent to the park, or cycling to town, exploring the National Park trails, Smoky Cape Lighthouse and historic Trial Bay Gaol. The nearby Macleay River is ideal for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing and sailing.

Leisure facilities at Sunshine Resort include the Shipwreck Island water park, a resort style pool with toddler pool and spa, covered Jumping Pillow and playgrounds, mini putt-putt, kids club, games room, movie room, go carts, bike and canoe hire, half court tennis, wi-fi, and The Full Circle Eatery Café/Restaurant on site.

Rates for the Ngurra Lodges start from $490 per night for up to six people.

Bookings - www.BIG4sunshine.com.au or (02) 6566 6142

 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Kakadu Bird Week 2017

Kakadu to stage Australia’s most spectacular natural expo as Bird Week takes wing - Kakadu Bird Week 2017 (1 – 7 October)



Kakadu is set to host the largest gathering of bird watchers and nature lovers for the annual Kakadu Bird Week 2017, with special birding activities, events, a new photographic competition and special sessions for children being offered from October 1st to October 7th.

Whether it is graceful sea eagles ‘fishing’ on Yellow Water Billabong, the remarkable ‘Jesus Bird’ seemingly walking on water, or local favourites such as the Jabiru and the tiny, but vividly beautiful, Kingfisher birds, Kakadu is Australia’s most spectacular location for lovers of exotic birds.

Kakadu Bird Week is the perfect time for nature lovers to discover Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. The Festival is being held from 1 – 7 October and while particularly popular with ‘twitchers’ (the technical name for a bird watcher) a special new program – The World of Birds for Kids – aims to introduce this remarkable spectacle to a new generation of nature lovers.



The region is home to over one third of Australia’s bird species and October is the peak time to see the full diversity of birds, as the wetlands retreat after six months of ‘dry’ and birds flock to the Top End in preparation for the next breeding cycle.

A prime vantage point to view Kakadu’s immensely rich and diverse bird life is on Yellow Water Billabong, at Cooinda. Yellow Water Cruises and Kakadu Tourism will be offering visitors exceptional opportunities to get close to Kakadu’s bird life during the special week.

Yellow Water Cruises will offer a series of cruises hosted by renowned naturalist, Luke ‘hawk eyes’ Paterson, from NT Bird Specialists, who will provide his expert insights on Kakadu’s birdlife during sunrise cruises on Yellow Water Billabong on 1, 4 & 7 October. The three hour cruises on Yellow Water Billabong will depart from Cooinda at 6am and include transfers and breakfast. Seats are strictly limited, and available for $120 per person. Details and bookings: http://www.kakadutourism.com/kakadu-bird-week-2017/ or reservations@yellowwater.com.au



Many activities and presentations will be free during the week. Experts will host presentations at Kakadu National Park’s Bowali Visitor Centre and at the Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel and Cooinda Lodge, and there will be free daily walks at many of Kakadu’s major tourism sites, including Ubirr and Nourlangie. The full draft program and updates are available via: https://parksaustralia.gov.au/kakadu/do/events.html

Special Accommodation Rates during Kakadu Bird Week

Kakadu Bird Week is expected to attract thousands of visitors from overseas and around Australia, so accommodation is limited. Kakadu Tourism offers the widest selection of accommodation options, including Cooinda Lodge, which is located next to one of the largest bird habitats in Kakadu – Yellow Water Billabong.

Cooinda Lodge (+618 8979 1500) and the famous Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel (+618 8979 9000) are offering 15% off hotel rates during the week. Guests will need to quote “Kakadu Bird Week” to gain the discounts.

Further details: http://www.kakadutourism.com/kakadu-bird-week-2017/ or 1800 500 401.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Chinese ultra-marathon champion to run in Blackmores Sydney Marathon


#sydney #visitnsw

Ultra-marathon champion Chen Pen Bin has been announced as the first Chinese ambassador for the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival to promote the event and encourage visitation to NSW.

China's first international ultra-marathon champion, Chen Pen Bin is famous for running 100 marathons in 100 consecutive days across nine provinces in China. He was also the first Chinese runner to compete in an ultra-marathon on all seven continents.

Secured by the NSW Government's tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, the agreement with Chen Pen Bin will see Sydney and NSW promoted in the key inbound visitor market of Mainland China.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Chipchase said "China is Sydney and NSW's largest inbound tourism market and we are delighted to see this iconic event showing our beautiful Harbour City to potential Chinese visitors.

"More than 4,000 interstate and overseas visitors will travel to Sydney to run in the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, and we expect strong visitor growth to the Festival for many more years to come," Ms Chipchase said.

Blackmores Sydney Running Festival China ambassador, Chen Pen Bin said he is excited to compete on the Sydney Marathon course.

"The Blackmores Sydney Marathon is one of the world's most scenic running events. I look forward to running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and past Sydney's landmarks including the Royal Botanic Gardens, Darling Harbour and Centennial Park. Finishing the marathon at the Sydney Opera House will be a special moment for me and something that I will remember for many years to come.

"After the race, I'm eager to explore the Blue Mountains, Sydney Fish Markets and Taronga Zoo," Mr Chen Pen Bin said.



Race Director Wayne Larden said the number of international participants continues to rise, as Sydney cements its reputation as a major international running event.

"The Blackmores Sydney Marathon is one of the world's premier endurance events and attracts participants from all over the world. Its International Association of Athletics Federation Road Race Gold Label status places it alongside marathons such as London and New York," Mr Larden said.      

Six Chinese media including sports channel NetEase.com, men's lifestyle magazine Bazaar Men's Style, lifestyle website sohu.com, travel channel tencent.com and video streaming channels Youku and Can Video will shadow Chen Pen Bin while he travels in NSW to capture and share the beauty of the region with fellow Chinese travellers.

In the year ended March 2017, NSW welcomed 701,000 visitors from Mainland China, who spent almost $3 billion in the State[1].

Destination NSW will also host five Singaporean and four Malaysian media in Sydney and NSW to participate in the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival and promote visitation to the State.

The Blackmores Sydney Running festival will be held on Sunday 17 September. More information on the event can be found at https://www.sydneyrunningfestival.com.au/.

For more information on things to see and do in Sydney visit sydney.com, and in Regional NSW, go to: visitnsw.com.

www.sydney.com

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thomas Keneally to sail with Silversea on world cruise



Silversea Cruises, the world's leading luxury and expedition cruise line, is pleased to announce acclaimed Australian author Thomas Keneally as its newest guest enrichment lecturer, featuring aboard Silver Whisper as part of the incredible World Cruise 2018.

Joining for 13 days from Sydney to Bali as part of the magnificent World Cruise 2018, Keneally will deliver a range of thought-provoking enrichment lectures.  Guests will hear Keneally's unique insights into his personal stories and profound experiences, all while travelling through a variety of incredible destinations in all-inclusive, intimate luxury.

Keneally is a critically acclaimed Australian novelist, playwright, and essayist and has published more than 30 novels and screenplays during his career.  Keneally's novel, Schindler's Ark won the 1982 Man Booker Prize, and was later adapted into the Academy Award winning Spielberg classic, Schindler's List.

Amber Wilson, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Silversea Cruises said:

"We are delighted to welcome one of Australia's most distinguished novelists aboard Silver Whisper in February 2018.  Guests will have the opportunity to attend fascinating and stimulating discussions with the highly regarded author and will be thrilled with his array of riveting stories and insightful lectures."

Designed to spark the imagination of avid travellers, Silversea's World Cruise 2018 is an epic 121-day voyage from Los Angeles to Civitavecchia, Rome, on board the elegant, all-suite Silver Whisper.  This extraordinary one-of-a-kind voyage will encompass 60 unique ports in 21 countries across 5 continents.  Including numerous late-night and overnight stays, guests have ample time to take in all the amazing sights, sounds, and flavours of the beautiful cities, great wine regions, and architectural spectacles of this incredible journey.

In addition to Keneally, a stimulating program of eminent lecturers, wine experts and renowned chefs will also be on offer to engage guests for the duration of World Cruise 2018 along with certified ACBL instructors, and the ever-popular L'École des Chefs by Relais & Châteaux®.

Featured voyages:

V4804 - Departing Sydney on 20 February 2018 on this 13-day voyage to Bali, Keneally will join guests on boardSilver Whisper as they journey up the beautiful coastline, experiencing the indigo waters of the Whitsundays, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Northern Territory's spectacular wildlife and searing sunsets before arriving into Bali on 5 March.  Fares start at AU$12,200* per person based on double occupancy in a Vista Suite.

World Cruise 2018 - Departing Los Angeles on 6 January 2018, an exclusive 121-day voyage aboard Silver Whisper, will venture to 60 ports across 21 countries.  This ultimate cruise showcases: the blue lagoons of Polynesia, the mesmerising landscapes of New Zealand, ancient wonders including Angkor Wat and the Taj Mahal, Sydney's Opera House, the Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur, and the soaring skylines of Singapore and Hong Kong; and much more.  Fares start at AU$96,245* per person, based on double occupancy in a Veranda Suite.

Silversea's cruise fares include: all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary on board wines, Champagne and spirits; and one hour of complimentary WiFi per day for each guest or unlimited WiFi for select suite categories, and all gratuities.

*These voyages are subject to availability.  Terms and conditions apply.  For more information, contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 or visit www.silversea.com.

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