Friday, April 2, 2010

Alice Springs celebrates explorer’s milestone

Imagine this for your next travel adventure – a friend gives you free transport, money, a few months’ food supply, and the freedom to name any notable landmarks you pass after all your mates and loved ones back home. Your mission is simply to get to the beach, and this can be via any route of your choosing. Who would say no?

Step back 150 years and this is the very adventure had by John McDouall Stuart, one of Australia’s most remarkable explorers.

This month, Alice Springs will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first time McDouall Stuart set foot in the geographical heart of Australia – he was the first European to do so. An entire week of activities has been planned as part of the National Trust’s Heritage Festival to mark this special occasion.

The week of celebrations kicks off on Sunday, April 10, in a remote area of bush 60km from Alice Springs will be a re-enactment of the moment Stuart arrived in the Centre.

Carefully reconstructed from Stuart’s own diaries, the cast members will be led by local identity and pastoralist Bill Hayes (aka John McDouall Stuart), famous in his own right after being inducted into the National Stockman’s Hall of Fame in March.

A small, wiry Scotsman, Stuart’s key factor to success was to always to travel lightly and to move quickly with his team of three men and 13 horses. Each time he faced an insurmountable barrier in his quest for the north coast, he would turn around, head south to Adelaide, regroup and try again.

“Stuart had an amazing capacity to cope with the hardships of intense heat, waterless country and poor food. He is generally regarded as the greatest of Australia’s explorers”.

“Hot on his heels from Melbourne, was the expedition led by the well known explorers Burke and Wills, and most people know the unfortunate ending that journey had.”

“Stuart finally reached the north coast of Australia on his sixth attempt in 1862 and this paved the way for the development of the remote Outback, including the Overland Telegraph Line, which connected Australia to Europe for the first time.”

The week of events runs from 10-18 April, and includes ‘Lifting the Veil’ - a rare exhibition of artifacts and items owned or used by Stuart and his party during their expeditions, at the Museum of Central Australia.

Fascinating items include a prismatic compass inscribed with Stuart’s name, a section of wood taken from the flagpole which Stuart used to hoist the Union Jack when he reached the Indian Ocean in 1862, and even some surviving beef jerky meat!

Rick Moore, President of the John McDouall Stuart Society in Adelaide will deliver the annual Doreen Braitling History Lecture, and Dr Philip Jones from the South Australian Museum will present ‘Mr Stuart’s route: Telegraph Stations and the early meeting of two cultures – 1870 to 1930’.

Tours over historic buildings will be conducted, including the oldest surviving building in Alice Springs, the Stuart Town Gaol, and a behind the scenes tour of the NT Archives will peak the interest of history buffs.

For a complete Program of Events visit

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Singapore Airlines tops Aussie consumer survey

Singapore Airlines has emerged clear favourite in the latest survey by Choice magazine, the Australian Consumers’ Association publication.The Singaporean carrier topped last year’s survey as well. Singapore Airlines scored in the 80s, taking the top place to almost every destination. V Australia achieved the highest cost satisfaction score and was only second to Singapore Airines for overall satisfaction. Qantas and its no-frills subsidiary, Jetstar, rated poorly internationally.

Choice’s latest survey of 9000 members linked the satisfaction survey to the favourite travel destinations for Australian travellers (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics). The magazine asked members to rate how satisfied they were for their most recent international flights to those destinations. They rated up to three airlines on cost, in-flight service, in-flight entertainment, seat comfort, leg room, food quality, redeeming frequent flyer points, timeliness of flights, baggage allowance and check-in process.

Singapore Airlines was voted the best to fly with to 11 out of 12 destinations in the 2010 survey. Many Qantas Frequent Flyer members felt Qantas was not delivering on cost or in-flight service.

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Qatar’s new high speed railway

Qatar is pressing ahead with a huge high speed rail network over the next decade, in a deal signed with Deutschebahn and reported to be worth $23 billion,

The completion date is 2026 with most of the project completed four years earlier in 2022 when Qatar hopes to host the FIFA World Cup.

The new line will connect Qatar’s New Doha International Airport (for photos, click here) with Doha city centre as well as a Doha Metro Network and a new metro system being planned. It will also connect Bahrain via a 40km bridge, and Saudi Arabia.

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World-renowned chef and personality, Peter Gordon will launch his ‘favourite things’, a five course degustation menu* made up of his clients’ five favourite dishes over the past five years to celebrate dine’s fifth birthday in April. This menu will be available for guests to try at dine by Peter Gordon throughout April and will include amazing Asian-fusion creations such as Pan-fried Alaskan scallops with sweet chilli sauce, crème fraiche and plantain crisps and five hour braised Firstlight wagyu short-rib with moromi miso eggplant relish, cucumber and chrain.

Now one of Auckland’s most chic, elegant and enticing restaurants, dine by Peter Gordon was launched in April, 2005 at the same time as the opening of SKYCITY’s five star Hotel, the SKYCITY Grand Hotel, also celebrating its fifth birthday in style with various offers throughout April.

Creator of the unique blend of Asian, Pacific and traditional European cuisine served in dine, Peter Gordon will be in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on his new ‘favourite things’ menu when he is here from London during April. Peter resides in the North West of London running his other restaurants, The Providores - but makes frequent trips ‘home’.

“This is an exciting time for dine, as we celebrate five years of growth, development and pride. I’d also like to ‘celebrate’ our chefs and staff at dine who really create an exquisite dining experience for those who visit us. Together, we are aiming to offer even more special eating experiences for Aucklanders and our overseas guests for the next five years as well,” says Chef Peter Gordon.

*The five course degustation menu is $115.00 per person or $185.00 per person with matching wines. The menu will continue past celebrations in April.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010


Simon Woolf, one of New Zealand’s leading professional photographers is hosting a photographic retreat at the Bay of Many Coves Resort in the Marlborough Sounds. The retreat takes place from Friday 2 to Sunday 4 July.

The retreat offers recreational photographers the chance to develop their skills and create stunning images amongst marine life, unique flora and fauna and exceptional landscapes. When each day is over, participants can relax in luxury and enjoy some of the finest cuisine in the Sounds.

Spaces on the retreat are limited. To find out more see

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Eurostar train evacuated after smoke alert

Hundreds of passengers were evacuated from a Eurostar train after a fire alarm went off as it travelled through the Channel Tunnel.The Brussels to London train stopped at Ashford International station in Kent where 450 passengers were evacuated as a precaution.
Police said no-one was injured and another train was sent to pick up the passengers.

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‘High Energy’, Sunseeker 88 Yacht, for UK charter

'High Energy' – the largest ever and most prestigious motoryacht of its kind for permanent charter in UK waters – is to be officially launched on 14th April 2010 at its home port, Ocean Village Marina, Southampton. At the launch of this 90 foot-long, £4.5million luxury Sunseeker, guests will be able to discover more about available charter experiences including:

Private and corporate day charter out of Poole and Southampton;
Private and corporate charter out of ‘High Energy’s’ secondary base in London;
Wedding receptions and anniversaries;
Dinner parties, banquets, cocktail parties and buffet lunches;
Business meetings and product launches;
Film and TV work;
Long weekend charter breaks along the Jurassic Coast;
Extended cruises to the Isles of Scilly, the Channel Isles, northern France and Ireland.

Also in attendance at the launch party will be representatives from companies working in collaboration with ‘High Energy’ to provide services to complement and enhance the charter experience further. These organisations include:

Hotel Du Vin, Poole – charter packages include: wine-tasting, dinner, overnight accommodation and a Sunseeker factory tour;
The Savoy, London – an iconic combination of Art Deco and Edwardian elegance with the thrills of London city via the Thames;
The Vineyard at Stockcross, Newbury – two Michelin star dining, wine-tasting, five star overnight accommodation and a spa;
Louis XIII experience – the ultimate way to enjoy the king of cognacs on board a luxury motoryacht.

Further information regarding attending the launch party and chartering the vessel can be obtained from Jenny Llewellyn, Charter Consultant for ‘High Energy’, tel: 01202 682890, email: .

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Winter Festival’s ‘big four’ events go on sale

Tickets to the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival’s biggest events go on sale at 3pm today (1 April) and festival goers are urged “not to fool about” in case they miss out.

Festival Director Simon Green anticipates sellout crowds for the ‘big four’ as he calls them - the Masquerade Ball, Jazz Night, Thriller in the Chiller and the Comedy Gala.

“All other tickets will go on sale in May but we’re expecting huge demand for these specific events so we’re getting tickets out now,” he says. “I’m really excited about the lineup we’ve put together for each event and believe all of them will be a fantastic night out as well as great value for money.”

The Lindauer Masquerade Ball is Festival’s glamour event and a great excuse to dress up, don a mask and slip on some dancing shoes to celebrate the Festival ‘Queenstown-style’. Ball-goers will get a real kick out of this year’s Moulin Rouge cabaret theme and are urged to dress the part. There will be Moulin Rouge-inspired floor show entertainment accompanied by a French-style dinner and then three hours of non-stop dancing with Diva, a talented all-female trio from Auckland, interchanging with returning favourites The Hitmen who perform everything from ‘70s hits to modern classics. The ball is on Saturday 26 June at the Millennium Hotel from 7pm to midnight and tickets are $159 per person. Tickets include entertainment, a three-course dinner and wine, beer and Lindauer bubbles.

This year Sola Rosa, Eru Dangerspiel and LA Mitchell will headline at the ever popular Lindauer Jazz Night to be held on Saturday 3 July from 7.30pm at the Skyline complex. Sola Rosa’s unique blend of dub, hip hop, lounge and jazz combined with Eru Dangerspiel’s raw live energy will get the crowd dancing downstairs while upstairs LA Mitchell and emerging talent Coast will deliver a true jazz club experience. Tickets are $89 per person (including gondola) or $111 including supper.

The new Mountain Scene Thriller in the Chiller, on Sunday 27 June at Queenstown Events Centre from 7pm, looks set to be a knockout. With final local match-ups being announced next week, the 40 contenders are training hard to see who will be picked to square off at the fun charity fight night. The event will also feature several celebrity bouts including former Kiwi rugby league hero Tawera Nikau and TV2 Lotto presenter Russell Harrison. Funds raised via a charity auction on the night go to the Festival’s official charity, the Wakatipu-based Bruce Grant Youth Trust. Ticket prices vary depending on choice of seating – floor seating costs $39, grandstand seating is $59 and ringside corporate tables cost $1,000 for a table of 10 (includes table service and food platters).

The new Canadian Club Comedy Gala replaces the Comedy Debate and celebrates the start of a four-night comedy extravaganza with a stand-up show sure to split the sides of the audience. Hosted by funnymen Ward & Tuthridge, the all-star gala brings together the cream of local and national comedians featuring Jeremy Corbett, Steve Wrigley, Paul Ego, Dai Henwood, Ben Hurley, Jeremy Ellwood and Michelle A’Court for a night of hilarious standup comedy and a live stage performance of the cult TV3 show “7 Days”. The comedy gala will be held at the Memorial Hall on Monday 28 June from 7pm. Seating is theatre-style and tickets are $69.

Festival tickets can be purchased from TicketDirect online, by phone 0800 224 224 (03 450 9110), in person at the Queenstown Events Centre or Queenstown i-Site (corner of Shotover and Camp streets), or via the Festival website

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New charter flight service between Christchurch and Wanaka

Winter tourism will get a boost from a new charter flight service to Wanaka from Christchurch. “This is great news for the ski season,” said Christchurch Airport General Manager Marketing and Business Development Gareth Owen. “It gives Cantabrians and Australian visitors another option direct into Wanaka through Christchurch Airport, rather than needing to fly to Queenstown and then drive to Wanaka. We’re committed to growing ski tourism within the South Island, and this additional capacity reaffirms Christchurch as New Zealand’s ski and tourism gateway.”
The charter company flyDirect will offer morning and afternoon flights between Christchurch and Wanaka on a 35-seat Dash 8 aircraft. As part of the Ski Wanaka package deal, people will also receive accommodation in Wanaka plus optional car hire, and Wanaka ski passes and activities. “An entry level package of flights and 2 nights accommodation is only $289,” said flyDirect’s CEO Jef Kay. “We’re excited about what we’re offering the market, because it’s great value for a ski holiday in a stunning place.”
Lake Wanaka Tourism General Manager James Helmore said the new flight service was “fantastic”, and a great boost for the local tourism industry. “Last winter Lake Wanaka enjoyed a record season in terms of visitor numbers and the introduction of flyDirect’s flight/ski packages will help us to continue to grow the domestic market by making it even easier for visitors to get here,” he said. “We have four ski areas and the largest amount of skiable terrain in New Zealand, plus the largest heliski area outside of North America, so the flyDirect package initiative suits the destination perfectly.”
flyDirect launched its website on Monday and their inaugural flight is planned for 1 July 2010.

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Prime Minister opens new ZEALANDIA Visitor Centre and state-of-the art Exhibition

Today, Prime Minister John Key officially opened New Zealand’s newest eco-attraction: a state-of-the-art natural history exhibition and visitor centre at Wellington's world-first ZEALANDIA eco-sanctuary. Just 10 minutes from downtown Wellington, ZEALANDIA: The Exhibition is the first facility fully-dedicated to showcasing New Zealand’s unique natural history and world-famous conservation movement. Housed within a new world-class visitor centre the award-winning ZEALANDIA eco-sanctuary, ZEALANDIA: The Exhibition will take visitors on an extraordinary journey; from the day before humans arrived; through centuries of catastrophic loss; and finally, to the present day, the massive efforts New Zealanders are making to protect and preserve what makes New Zealand unique and extraordinary. "ZEALANDIA: The Exhibition is a groundbreaking development that will see locals and visitors really learn and understand the past, present and future of our country’s precious flora and fauna," said Positively Wellington Tourism Chief Executive David Perks. "As you step back in time you'll realise what innocent mistakes have been made and how innovative and important ZEALANDIA's vision is. You'll learn what has been and what can be. This is a place that we should all be excited by and will give international visitors another reason to visit and spend longer in Wellington.”
Using state-of-the-art interactive exhibits designed by local but world-renowned exhibition designers Story Inc, leading model-makers Izzat Design and special effects specialists Sauce, ZEALANDIA: The Exhibition is a unique and immersive visitor experience.
In the exhibition visitors step into the sights and sounds of an ancient forest. They can marvel at prehistoric beasts as they stand before life-like moa and fearsome Haast’s eagle, and hear the haunting song of the extinct huia. Witness how humans almost destroyed what took millions of years of isolation to create in an extraordinary sound and light show. Upstairs see the fragments of this paradise that remain, and what places like ZEALANDIA are doing to make them whole again. Visitors will then be able to step outside and experience a groundbreaking eco-sanctuary first-hand. Finish your visit with an exquisite meal at the licensed café and enjoy the stunning views across the forest-fringed lake. Don’t miss the ZEALANDIA store on your way out, for a wide range of speciality gifts and books that capture the beauty of New Zealand and our natural heritage.

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Thrifty Announces Virgin Blue Car Rental Partnership

Thrifty CEO Australia/New Zealand Bryn McGoldrick today announced the signing of an agreement with the Virgin Blue Airlines Group and a partnership that will offer guests of Virgin Blue, V Australia and Pacific Blue special rates across all their local and global destinations.
As part of the NRMA Motoring & Services Group, with over 2 million members located throughout NSW and the ACT, we feel we bring a new and exciting dimension to this important partnership and we look forward to working with Virgin Blue, V Australia and Pacific Blue to provide great offers and service to their guests.
The announcement coincides with the launch by the Virgin Blue Airlines Group of a new car hire site which allows their Guests to search and select from a broad range of car hire companies across local and global destinations – all within one convenient website.
In Australia Thrifty is represented in every state, territory, capital city, major city, regional centre and commercial airport at over 260 locations. In New Zealand Thrifty has 30 offices nationwide, including all major and regional airports.
Thrifty New Zealand operates a modern fleet of cars, 4WDs and Minivans.

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Singapore Airlines launches new Boeing 777 cabin products

Singapore Airlines will introduce new cabin products in both Business and Economy class on its Boeing 777-200 aircraft, which operates on the Singapore-Auckland route and Singapore-Christchurch route.
The retrofitted aircraft will commence service this year between Singapore-Auckland from 3 July and Singapore-Christchurch from 1 August.
The new Business Class will feature incline lie-flat leather seats in a modern design similar to those on Singapore Airlines' Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
The Economy Class cabin will also feature new seat covers, designed by Givenchy.
Enhancements will also be made to the airlines award-winning KrisWorld in-flight entertainment system,  with better Audio-Video On Demand features in both cabin classes, such as a more intuitive and user-friendly graphical interface.
Following the refurbishment, Business Class seats will also feature larger 15.4-inch screens, while screens in Economy Class will be increased to 9 inches.

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Flight Centre, New Zealand’s largest travel retailer, is preparing for increased bookings to Mexico in 2010 as the destination rises in popularity.

Flight Centre’s PR manager, Marie Pilkington, believes Mexico is going to hit the must-do travel lists of many Kiwis as it has wide appeal and provides great value for money.

Mexico offers a diverse holiday option for Kiwis. From all-inclusive resorts to adventure touring, Mexico offers something slightly different that can suit all markets and budgets,” Ms Pilkington said.

Flight Centre Limited’s acquisition of GoGo Worldwide Vacations, the largest wholesaler of travel to the Caribbean and Mexico in the US, means Flight Centre New Zealand is now able to offer one of the widest range of Mexico holidays to this market.

Flight Centre’s boutique wholesale division in New Zealand, Escape Travel, has produced a dedicated 28 page stand-alone Mexico brochure, released this week, to prepare for what it believes will be the next ‘in’ destination.

“The new brochure will provide new inspiration for Kiwi travellers and we believe it will create even more interest around this increasingly popular destination.

Mexico perked the interests of many Kiwis over the past two years; however the outbreak of swine flu in 2009 meant tourism to the country stalled. Now this has largely been contained, Mexico is back on traveller’s wish list,” Ms Pilkington said.

The surge in popularity of all-inclusive style resorts means budgeting for holidays has become easier and family holiday options have expanded.

Mexico offers a wide range of destinations that offer all inclusive packages that comprise of accommodation, meals, snacks, drinks (including alcohol and soft-drinks), entertainment, activities, kids clubs, gratuities and taxes.

“All inclusive holidays such as cruising or resort getaways are on the rise and Mexico provides a huge range for both these options.

“Mexico’s close proximity to the United States of America means it’s a perfect destination for Kiwis to enjoy as part of their California holiday,” Ms Pilkington.

Highlights of the new dedicated Mexico brochure include Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Acapulco, Los Cabos, Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and cultural cities such as Mexico City, Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Merida and Haciendas.

Escape Holiday’s Mexico brochure is available at all Flight Centre stores across the country or call 0800 35 44 48 to request a copy.
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Hotels find cunning new ways to push up charges

Hotels are inventing new ways of charging guests for services that have hitherto been provided free. In the US, they have taken to charging for re-stocking mini-bars. A guest pays for the item consumed and then an additional fee to compensate the hotel for having to re-stock the item in the room fridge.
In the past, hotels charged hefty fees to make phone-calls. Many still do – but guests just use their mobiles instead. Other guests use their laptops or smart-phones, in conjunction with Skype, calling anywhere in the world at little or no cost. A few business travellers even use their laptops to watch movies, depriving hotels of another lucrative source of revenue. Savvy travellers know never to touch the mini-bar, preferring to buy drinks at the supermarket across the road.
Seeking extra revenue, some hotels have taken to charging guests monstrous fees for using internet. Charges as high a US$25 a day are being levied. Guests are aware that they can obtain internet for a fraction of the price outside the hotel, but may still fork out for convenience sake, particularly if their employers or their companies are paying. Extortionate internet charges work against hotels in the long run, however. Guests remember those progressive properties that offer them free internet – and they return. In Taiwan, five-star properties often supply free internet. Guests don’t forget it.
Hotel managers and operators face a dilemma. If they increase the hotel rack rate, they place themselves at a commercial disadvantage when rates are listed by price online by sites such as TripAdvisor and Wotif. If instead they become inventive and start tweaking incidental charges to increase overall take, guests may consider the charges a sneaky ripoff and not return.
A report in the Los Angeles Times notes that some US hotels now charge for holding baggage for a few hours after guests check out. Even room service trays are showing up on bills as chargeable items.
Extra charges at hotels are nothing new. The hospitality industry routinely charges guests for parking and other extras. In the US, however, cash-hungry hotel operators are emulating the revenue-generating tactics of the airline industry.
The LA Times quoted Bjorn Hanson, a hospitality expert and an associate professor at New York University, as saying that “restocking fees” for mini-bars could be as much as US$5.95 at some establishments for a can of soda that costs US$2.50.
Other imaginative fees, Hanson said, included a “room service fee” (on top of the charge for the room service meal) and even a US$2 fee to pay for lost or damaged room service trays. American hotels are obsessed with tipping and some are now starting to calculate the gratuity and include it on the bill. Then there’s that fee for holding bags after check-out.
Hanson estimates that the US lodging and hospitality industry collected about US$1.55 billion in such fees during 2009 – up from about US$1 billion in 2003.
Written by: Peter  Needham
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Another Virgin Takes To The Skies

With his custom bravado and Virgin spirit, Sir Richard Branson launched the newest Virgin family in South Africa last week.V Australia commenced its Melbourne – Johannesburg service, with passenger demand already seeing the carrier fly twice weekly services, with a third scheduled later on in the year. V Australia’s entry will now break the stronghold South African Airways (SAA) and Qantas have enjoyed as code-share partners on the route.

“We started Virgin Blue in Australia 10 years ago to give Qantas a run for their money, as there was no real competitor on the domestic routes. We now have 30% of the market and are a well-respected brand in Australia. V is an extension of that competition but serves long-haul routes such Los Angeles and now Johannesburg,” said Branson in an interview with Business Day.

V Australia’s Springbok route is now one of several Virgin-branded airlines, which includes the starship, Virgin Atlantic, as well as Virgin America.

And like the entrepreneur that he is, Branson has created his own aviation alliance with his own services, giving Star Alliance and OneWorld a run for their money.

“There are alliances and then there are alliances. If the intention is for one airline to feed passengers to another airline,” he says, “that is good for competition. But alliances which become monopolies that dominate certain routes that can be detrimental to competition.”

According to Bangu Masisi, who heads up South Africa Tourism in Australia, V Australia’s entry in the marketplace will make the destination more affordable.

If Branson has his way, he’ll make it equally more accessible.

“Who would have thought that 25 years after we bought our first Boeing 747 for Virgin Atlantic we would be the first group that allowed you to fly around the world on one airline group?” said Branson.

The trip could also include a ticket on Space Ship Two, with flights into space only a possible 12-18 months away.

Branson will be among the first passengers to take the flight.

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Daylesford massages its way into Guinness World Records

Daylesford, Australia’s spa-capital in Victoria today smashed the world record for the largest ever simultaneous massage.

The new world record was set this morning Tuesday 30 March at Daylesford’s Massage en-masse, with 263 qualified massage therapists and 263 volunteer ‘massagees’ taking part in a history-making event at Lavandula Lavender Farm.

Guinness Book of Records adjudicator Mr Chris Sheedy said the event was an historic moment for Daylesford with abundant enthusiasm from local spa and massage therapists.

“I’ve seen a whole lot of wonderful events around the world, but during the past decade I have never seen such a beautiful record attempt,” Mr Sheedy said.

Tourism Victoria’s Marketing Director Don Richter said setting the new world record confirms that Daylesford is the nation’s leading spa and wellbeing destination.

“Spa and wellness is a growing market and now Daylesford is in the history books its therapeutic credentials will be showcased around the world,” Mr Richter said.

“We were confident Daylesford could break the record as the region boasts the largest concentration of naturally occurring mineral springs in the southern hemisphere and the highest number of therapists per capita.

“We want to share this amazing region with Australia and invite visitors to discover Daylesford’s depth and diversity first-hand.”

“Daylesford’s abundant natural mineral springs, award-winning restaurants and produce, boutique accommodation options and close proximity to Melbourne make it the perfect getaway.”

Daylesford broke the record by 96. The previous record for the largest ever simultaneous massage was 167 people, set in 2009 in Washington D.C, USA.

Australian model and TV presenter Sophie Falkiner hosted the record-breaking event which saw a total of 526 participants create a visually stunning display of bodies across the grounds of a picture perfect Lavandula Lavender Farm.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

British Airways strikes may continue after Easter

With the second lot of strikes nearly at an end and no talks between the British Airways or cabin crew, Unite the union have threatened to take further industrial action after the Easter break.
The union has hinted at more disruption after these strikes end on Tuesday night, but due to an earlier promise of not striking during Easter, a window for further talks are able to take place before the union's self-imposed truce finishes on the 14th of April.

While British Airways admits that one in four booked on travels during this recent strike period won't get off the ground, it will still be able to transport 180,000 passengers during the 27th to 30th of March.
British Airways is claiming that it's been able to transport a higher percentage of travellers this second time round.

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Amazing Race host to promote Christchurch and Canterbury

The host of long running reality TV show The Amazing Race has been appointed as Christchurch and Canterbury’s newest ambassador set to woo Australians to the “heart of the south island”. 

Visiting Sydney last Friday, Phil Keoghan was the ideal choice to promote the destination; after all it is his birthplace and having spent his high school years in Canterbury, he still fondly refers to it as his home region. 
“Australian travellers have had a love affair with New Zealand for a long time but my opportunity is to share the great experiences they can have in and around Christchurch and Canterbury region – the heart of the south island,” Mr Keoghan said.

“I’ve travelled to over 100 countries and the best travel experiences are going to places with people that you love, and incredible landscapes make the experience even better.”
With one million Australians visiting Christchurch and Canterbury in 2009, Mr Keoghan told guests, “If you haven’t been to the south island, you haven’t been to New Zealand”.

Christchurch is gearing for a ground-breaking ski season this year, and with 18 ski areas in the region plus 95 flight direct connections, Australians are encouraged to try the Kiwi slopes.

“The Amazing Race has taken me all over the world to some amazing places but there is still nothing like New Zealand. Of course Canterbury has a special place in my heart. I still get excited every time I fly into Christchurch and see the snow-capped Southern Alps, the patchwork of the Canterbury Plains, and the beautiful, unspoiled coastline,” Keoghan said.

“Each time I visit I am reminded just how special this place is, but what really gives Canterbury its charm are the people who live there. To me, that’s what really determines one holiday from another and I’m very excited about sharing some of my home-grown knowledge of what Canterbury has to offer to our visitors.”

Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Christine Prince said the new ambassador role is expected to drive more Australians to the region, which offers great diversity for first timers or repeat visitors. “Last year we saw one million Australians heading to New Zealand but we think we have only just begun to grow the opportunity to visit Christchurch and the Canterbury region. And with the airlines on board as well providing great access and terrific fares, we expect to see an increase in visitors from the Australian travel market.” Ms Prince said. “Phil is everything we could possibly hope for in an ambassador – he hosts a program which brings to life a range of exciting experiences – similar to those that Australian travellers can look forward to enjoying in our region. Phil also embodies the can-do attitude and fun, friendly nature of Canterbury. He loves his home and he’s prepared to tell the world about it.”
For more information, visit www.christchurchnz.comBookmark and Share

Growth for Asia Pacific region?

International visitor arrivals to Asia Pacific destinations forecast to grow at an average rate of 2.7% per annum over the next three years

The Executive Board of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) today released its forecasts of tourism demand across the Asia Pacific region for the next three years. At the aggregate level, international arrival numbers are predicted to increase by an average of around +2.7 percent each year to 2012. Not surprisingly, these forecasts show a significant slowing in growth rates from the pre-financial crisis level of seven percent per annum.

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Cathay Pacific Airways has announced that it will start operating to Moscow on July 13 with three flights a week departing Hong Kong every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, subject to government approval. The airline announced its plan to fly to the Russian capital about a month ago.

With the introduction of Moscow on the Cathay Pacific network, Cathay Pacific will offer the fastest, most direct and most convenient service from Auckland to Moscow. Passengers can depart from Auckland every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1.20 pm, and arrive at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport at 7.05 am, the next morning, via a short stopover in Hong Kong.
The Moscow service will be the second new destination to be launched by the airline this year and will become the 48th online passenger destination in its global network. The new four-times-weekly service to Milan, which launches on 28 March, has already had a positive reception from the market.
Full details for the new service are as follows:

-          Thrice-weekly service
-          Flights begin on 13 July 2010
-          Aircraft type: Airbus A340-300

Flight no.
Days of operation
Tue, Thu & Sat
Tue, Thu & Sat

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Biometric security in place for Indonesia

Travellers to Indonesia will now have to undergo biometric screening, as the immigration department begins its installation of fingerprint and facial imaging technology at its air and sea ports.

Adisucipto International Airport (JOG) serving Yogyakarta in Java is the first airport to introduce the biometric security systems, with the rest to be rolled out in phases throughout the country.
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Waikato travellers to fly overseas with Cathay Pacific

Pacific Blue and Cathay Pacific Airways have entered into a partnership which will allow passengers to depart from Hamilton International Airport to long haul destinations.
Waikato passengers will now be able to travel on Pacific Blue services to Sydney or Brisbane, and then on connecting Cathay Pacific services to Hong Kong and to the rest of the carriers network.
Cathay Pacific has released a celebratory launch fare of $2091.00 to Cathay Pacific's eight destinations in Europe.
Ian Herald, marketing services manager for Cathay Pacific New Zealand, said the new service would appeal both to Waikato passengers and those from the Bay of Plenty.
"A 40 minute drive across to Hamilton is much more appealing and convenient than the two hour drive on a busy state highway to Auckland.
"To be able to depart locally without having to worry about missing your flight from Auckland due to delays or hold ups in the drive to Auckland takes a lot of stress out of the start to that overseas trip."

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Viva forced to stop operations

Viva Macau has had its Air Operator Certificate revoked by the Civil Aviation Authority of Macao SAR (AACM), meaning the airline is no longer able to operate.

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Garuda Indonesia's Bali on ANY budget launches new iconic brochure

Garuda Indonesia’s Bali on ANY budget is reinforcing its commitment to exceptional value with the launch of its latest iconic ‘Bali on ANY budget’ brochure.

Michael Woods, Marketing Manager, Garuda Orient Holidays said: “According to ABS figures, Bali is now Australia’s number one short haul leisure destination. Almost all prices in this year’s brochure are lower than in 2009, so there is certainly incredible value to be found in Bali.”

This extraordinary value and diversity is reflected across the vast range of accommodation options that today’s Bali has on offer - from basic two Star hotels to lavish villas and resorts.

Featured on the brochure’s front cover is The Royal Pita Maha, a stunning resort in a secluded valley overlooking the Ayung River in Bali’s cultural capital, Ubud, just one of many of the new brochure’s luxury offerings.

New debuts in the brochure’s ever expanding Villa Holidays section are the stunning Alila Villas Soori in Tabanan, as well as The Wolas Villas in Seminyak. New additions in the main section include Ramada Resort Camakila in Legian and Satriya Cottages in Kuta.

Also new for 2010 is Sea Trek Sailing Adventures. Sea Trek offers a unique range of sailing and cruising adventures throughout the crystal waters of Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands. Golf lovers will also welcome the Bali Garden Beach Resort/New Kuta Golf package in the Tee Off to Bali section.

Further commenting on the new ‘Bali on ANY budget’ brochure, Michael Woods said: “In response to customer demand, this year’s brochure also includes an increased number of specialist Beyond Bali packages to destinations throughout the vast Indonesian Archipelago.

“Serviced daily by direct Garuda Indonesia flights from Bali, Lombok has become a particularly popular and an easily accessible add-on destination to the traditional Bali beach holiday. Pictured on the back cover of this year’s brochure is the particularly beautiful Hotel Villa, Ombak situated on the island of Gili Trawangan, just a short boat ride from Lombok.”

Combined Bali/Lombok packages start from just $1053.00pp ex Perth, $1326.00pp ex Melbourne and $1345.00pp ex Sydney. Prices include return economy airfares from Australia to Bali, 4 nights at Matahari Bungalows, Kuta, return airfares from Bali to Lombok, 2 nights at Puri Saron, Lombok, all airport and hotel transfers, breakfast daily and taxes.*

The brochure’s Beyond Bali section also highlights incredible value tour packages that give the discerning consumer an opportunity to explore the incredible diversity of Jakarta, the Indonesian capital.

Jakarta and close by Bandung packages start from just $1230.00pp ex Perth, $1510.00pp ex Melbourne and $1529.00pp ex Sydney and include return economy airfares to Jakarta, 4 nights at Novotel Mangga Dua, 2 nights at Arion Swiss-Bel Hotel, Bandung, all airport and inter-hotel transfers, breakfast daily and taxes.**

Yogyakarta and the mystic beauty of ancient Borobudur is also now within easy reach, just a short flight away from either Jakarta or Bali.

With Indonesia’s capital now being served by regular direct flights with Garuda Indonesia from both Sydney and Melbourne and direct connections from Denpasar, Jakarta is now not just the ideal shopping holiday destination, but the perfect gateway to endless holiday experiences throughout the diverse archipelago that is Indonesia.

The popular e-brochure will also shortly be available for download at
The new 2010 Bali on ANY budget brochure is also available through TIFS 

To view other deals and make bookings visit: or contact the team of Bali experts on 1300 657 747.

* Valid low seasons only from 01 April 2010 to 31 March 2011
** Valid low seasons only from 01 April 2010 to 23 December 2010

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