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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inaugural Australian Ecotravel Award Winners Announced


The inaugural Ecotravel Australa Award winners were announced last night at the first Green Travel, Climate Change and Ecotourism Conference. 300 plus national and international delegates including many of the most important independent and in many cases pioneering tourism operators in this field attended the award presentation – a glittering dinner themed around Baz Luhrman’s AUSTRALIA film and sponsored by Tourism Australia.

The proud winners are

The 2008 William Angliss EcoGuide Award of Excellence –

Phil Taylor – Wayoutback Desert Safaris, Northern Territory
Wayoutback Desert Safaris is a genuine small group operator carrying a maximum of 9 to 14 passengers in late model air conditioned Toyota Land Cruisers and Mitsubishi Canter 4WD's. Wayoutback believe the only authentic way to experience the Red Centre is by getting away from the crowds and getting immersed in the beauty and vastness of the desert - driving dirt tracks, bush camping, cooking over a campfire and sleeping under the starts.
2, 3 and 5 Day 4-Wheel Drive Safaris to Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, Palm Valley and West MacDonnell Ranges are offered.

One inspired tour is WAYOUTBACK’S Oak Valley Aboriginal Community tour – an experience the operator says will touch you with its deep cultural, mythological and artistic significance as well as the hunting and foraging ways of the Worlds longest surviving people.

It is the only Advanced Eco-Tourism accredited Tour Company based in Alice Springs operating in the Red Centre – the highest acknowledgement for environmental understanding, operation practices and cultural representation
www.wayoutback.com.au

The 2008 Eco Operator of the Year
Phillip Island Nature Park, Victoria
Phillip Island Nature Park is renowned as home to one of Australia's most popular wildlife attractions, the Penguin Parade. A mere 90 minutes drive from Melbourne, the Nature Park covers 2,750ha of Phillip Island — Victoria’s wildlife haven. The Park is an island adventure featuring wildlife reserves, wetlands and breathtaking coastlines.
The three main tourist attractions managed by Phillip Island Nature Park are the Penguin Parade, Churchill Island and the Koala Conservation Centre. Other destinations managed by the Park include Rhyll Inlet, Woolamai and the Nobbies, where visitors can experience wildlife in its natural environment.
//www.penguins.org.au/

2008 ECOTOURISM MEDAL
Steve Noakes, Director of Pacific Asia Tourism, Queensland
Pacific Asia Tourism has its origins over 25 years ago as the Overseas Visitors Centre (OVC Pty. Ltd) of Australia, founded by Steve Noakes. Since then Steve & his wife, Suzanne, have been involved in a number of tourism & travel enterprises involving both the private and public sectors. Over the past 15 years, they have worked closely with some of the world’s leading researchers and practitioners in the development and delivery of sustainable tourism outcomes in both developed and less developed economies of the Pacific Asia region. Nowadays, the company is owned by its founders as well as a group of expert researchers, consultants and ‘Future Leaders’ in the field of sustainable tourism. http://www.pacificasiatourism.org/

Alastair McCracken, Chair of Ecotourism Australia, said this industry is filled with passionate individuals who love what they do, and have frequently built their businesses up, not with an eye on the income, but on creating benefit for our community and for the environment. These awards recognise those leaders. “

Ecotourism Australia is the peak national body for the ecotourism industry in Australia. It aims to grow and promote ecotourism and to assist tourism operators to become environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially and culturally responsible.



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Monday, September 29, 2008

Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Solstice Sets Sail For First Time


Historic Event Attracts Tens Of Thousands Of Area Residents

The most widely heralded ship to enter the cruise market this year, Celebrity Solstice, departed Meyer Werft shipyard yesterday in Papenburg, Germany, as the largest ship ever built by the longtime shipbuilder. In a milestone event known as "The Conveyance," the 2,850-guest Celebrity Solstice made its way down the River Eems, as tens of thousands of area residents lining the river banks cheered and photographed the historic event.

"This is a very momentous occasion for Celebrity Cruises," said the brand's President and CEO Dan Hanrahan. "Celebrity Solstice is the perfect manifestation of what the Celebrity brand is all about: extraordinary service, spectacular dining, and fabulous style and design. And as the first in a series of five Solstice-class ships, it's a vivid example of the growth and momentum of the Celebrity brand, and our commitment to meet our guests' and travel agent partners' demands for more vacation options with Celebrity."

Among the wealth of attributes guests will find only on Celebrity Solstice are:
  • The industry's first Lawn Club, a lush, half-acre recreation area with real, growing grass.
  • The industry's first Hot Glass Show, with live glassblowing demonstrations presented in association with The Corning Museum of Glass.
  • Larger staterooms, with design inspirations offered by a panel of five women, hand-picked for their unique travel and hospitality insights.
  • 10 varied restaurants, ranging from the dramatic, two-level "Grand Epernay" main dining room with a sweeping wine tower, to four exquisitespecialty restaurants, to several stylish, casual venues.
  • An entirely new category of accommodations, "AquaClass," designed to offer a spa vacation experience at sea rivaling the best of those on land.
  • A state-of-the-art theater and stage design, with three new leading-edge shows custom-designed for Celebrity with Poet Theatricals, in their first cruise line partnership.
"There also is the intangible attribute which is consistent across the Celebrity fleet, and that's the extraordinary, anticipatory service our phenomenal staff offer our guests every day," said Hanrahan.
Celebrity Solstice will be berthed in Eemshaven, Netherlands, from September 29 to October 24, with two separate sea trials planned during that period, in addition to crew arrivals, training, provisioning and finishing work onboard. The ship will depart Eemshaven October 24 on a transatlantic voyage, with arrival in Fort Lauderdale planned for early November, followed by a series of promotional cruises for invited travel agents, press and other dignitaries. The ship will be named in formal ceremonies on November 14, and will begin its maiden season November 23, with a series of alternating 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, calling on San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, and Tortola during this Fall and Winter. Celebrity Solstice presents a series of romantic 10- and 11-night Mediterranean cruises from Rome beginning in Spring 2009.

Celebrity Cruises offers comfortably sophisticated, upscale cruise experiences with highly personalized service, exceptional dining, and extraordinary attention to detail. Celebrity sails in Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, California, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal and South America. The line also offers unique cruisetour vacations in Alaska, Australia, Canada, Europe and South America. Noted for four of the top ten "Top Cruise Ships in the World" in the large-ship category, as voted by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler (February 2008 readers' poll), Celebrity's current fleet will be joined by Celebrity Solstice in 2008, Celebrity Equinox in 2009, Celebrity Eclipse in 2010, a fourth Solstice-class ship in 2011, and a fifth in 2012. For more information, call your travel agent, dial 1-800-437-3111 or visit Celebrity Cruises website

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Nude airline to take-off in Germany



First it was nude beaches, then nude tourist resorts.

Now a German travel agency has unveiled what is believed to be the world's first nude airline

It is fairly well known that a lot of Germans like getting their kit off, now there is an airline for them.

An Eastern German travel agency is taking bookings for the country's first nudist air service.

Passengers can strip off on board but will have to get dressed again before getting off the plane.

The flight is to be part of a summer day trip which flies from the Eastern German city of Erfurt to a popular Baltic Sea resort.

abc.net.au

Thursday, July 3, 2008

SCRAMBLE ON HOTEL BOOKINGS MARKS END OF FINANCIAL YEAR

The close of the financial year has seen a rush of travel budget spending with one of the world’s leading online agents, HotelClub, reporting a 27 percent increase in bookings for the last week of June, and a 30 percent increase over the month compared to the same periods last year.

Tim Hughes, an online travel expert and Vice President Commercial of online accommodation specialist HotelClub, attributes the spike to last minute business spending, “Many companies are trimming future travel budgets which accounts for this scramble to get travel spending into the ‘07-’08 ledger and for us that’s translated into a substantial 30 percent increase in bookings made in June.”

Hughes says that although confidence indexes have revealed that consumers plan to trim travel spending, HotelClub was well placed to meet changing business and holidaymaker budgets because it presents immense variety locally and globally. A ‘shop-around’ mentality has already become evident from visitor behaviour on Hotelclub.com.au where lengthier and deeper searches are increasing, supporting Hughes’ assertion that Australians’ desire to travel will not be quashed by the economic pinch, merely altered.

“Australian people travel no matter what. We’ve seen the travel industry bounce back from 9/11, SARS and explosions in Bali, Madrid and London.

“The state of the economy changes the type of travel. We can look at America, which is experiencing a stronger form of slowdown, and see a decline in average room rates and average occupancy and, although it’s just a matter of time before we see that reflected here, Australians will still travel.

“They’ll look at travelling closer to home and research lots of choices and options.

“Australians have an unstoppable desire to go overseas and we’ll see families electing to travel more domestically but singles and couples maintain a lust for international travel and it will take lot more than fuel costs to deter them. “

Despite this changing travel market Hughes says that savvy hoteliers can retain or gain on their share of visitors through shrewd alliances.

“We can’t know what the future will hold over the next six, 12 or 18 months to two years but right now the industry is still enjoying good times.

“However, the smart hotelier will be saying to themselves the good times can’t last forever and with inbound tourism declining they’ll be looking to capitalise on more domestic trips. And, they’ll look to strong distribution channels for international and domestic business rather than being handcuffed to the whims of their own marketing department. They’ll need partners who can help them ride through this changeable 08-09 period.”

Hughes concluded that HotelClub, which generates business from more travellers from more countries than any other organisation selling online into Australia, was in pole position to maximise hotel revenue.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

INNOVATION AND IMAGINATION ARE CORNERSTONES OF THE NEIGHBORHOODS ONBOARD ROYAL CARIBBEAN’S OASIS OF THE SEAS


Steeped in a philosophy that innovation and imagination contribute to a remarkable cruise vacation, Royal Caribbean has once again raised the bar with the announcement of the latest amenities on its newest ship, Oasis of the Seas. Launching in late 2009, Oasis of the Seas will be the world’s largest and most revolutionary ship introducing the cruise line’s new neighborhood concept, which will provide vacationers with the opportunity to seek out relevant experiences based on their personal styles, preferences or moods. Boardwalk, will be a breathtaking space for families inspired by the nostalgic seaside piers of yesteryear; the first amphitheater at sea, AquaTheater, will celebrate water with the largest freshwater pool found on a ship offering a full spectrum of activities and performances for guests; and the urban living concept will take to the high seas with the introduction of industry-first loft suites offering expansive ocean views and luxury amenities. Enhancements to the cruise line’s signature Royal Promenade will include a new design allowing guests to have a physical connection with the neighborhood above, Central Park, as natural light cascades down from the sky through the Crystal Canopy sculptured glass domes. Other surprises include two rock-climbing walls and the first zip-line at sea suspended nine decks above Boardwalk.

The announcement of the new neighborhoods adds to the previously revealed neighborhood, Central Park, which was introduced in April. Reminiscent of the piers that dot the coast of England and amusements parks such as Coney Island, the elements of Boardwalk will dynamically engage the entire family in classic fun – whether young or just young at heart – with eateries, retail outlets and carnival games. An original, handcrafted carousel – the first at sea – will be the centerpiece of this vibrant neighborhood. AquaTheater, created to offer two unique experiences, will allow guests to swim in the theater’s magnificent kidney-shaped pool, relax on sun loungers located on tiered platforms surrounding the pool, and even take SCUBA lessons in the afternoon. At night, it will deliver a complete sensory experience playing on the element of surprise as audience members witness the venue come alive with heart-pounding theatrical performances featuring dramatic acrobatics, synchronized swimming, water ballet, and professional high-diving, as well as elaborate fountain shows synchronized to music and lights.

The introduction of 28 contemporary two-level loft suites will redefine cruise ship accommodations with vibrant, ocean-inspired colors in a sophisticated and spacious setting. Never before seen at sea, the lofts will feature spectacular views of the ocean with floor-to-ceiling, double-height windows to ensure the view will be enjoyed from each and every vantage point. The signature lofts will round out a new portfolio of 37 categories of accommodation options many with views unique to Oasis of the Seas.

“With our history of introducing game-changing amenities, we’re pleased to be able to answer the question of ‘what could possibly come next?’” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman & CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We are particularly excited about the neighborhood concept which gives guests compelling choices and the ability to flow seamlessly throughout the ship to meet their individual desires and preferences.”

Additions to Royal Promenade, the heart of the ship, will include a mezzanine level that overlooks the main promenade below. The Royal Promenade will be home to a vast array of shopping, dining and entertainment options including, the Rising Tide bar, the first moving bar at sea, which will traverse three decks and allow cruisers to enjoy a cocktail as they slowly ascend into Central Park. A focal point will be a giant copper globe sculpture built into the facade above the Globe and Atlas Pub, which will “crack open” to create a spectacular, surprise element for guests, as it unfurls on hinged hydraulics and becomes a bridge platform for performances. Other options include the cruise line’s popular Schooner Bar and Champagne Bar; the new Mondo Coffee Bar; Focus, a photo shop and gallery; and the ever-popular Boleros Latin dance club.

“Royal Caribbean is proud to introduce a number of industry ‘firsts’ on a level and scale that the world has never seen before,” stated Adam Goldstein, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Oasis of the Seas is the ultimate expression of the creativity and imagination found on all of our ships, providing guests with a collection of experiences that will offer an incredible cruise vacation.”

When she launches in late 2009, Oasis of the Seas will be the largest and most revolutionary cruise ship in the world. An architectural marvel at sea, she will span 16 decks, encompass 220,000 gross registered tons (GRT), carry 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms. Oasis of the Seas will be the first ship to tout the cruise line’s new neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, which includes Central Park, Boardwalk, and the Royal Promenade. The ship will sail from her home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Additional information is available at www.oasisoftheseas.com.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 21 ships currently in service and two under construction. The line also offers unique cruisetour vacations in Alaska and Canada, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, and South America. For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, visit www.royalcaribbean.com or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN. For travel professionals, go to www.cruisingpower.com or call (800) 327-2056.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Vine: Win a trip for 2 to the Fuji Rock Festival

The Vine: Win a trip for 2 to the Fuji Rock Festival: "TheVine.com.au is your information filter, shining a light on the latest and greatest news, entertainment, music and fashion buried deep inside the World Wide Web.

But TheVine also provides a chance to have your say by starting a profile, blogging or contributing your own work.

And though we’re primed with such original news and community participation – we’re still not too proud to seduce you by offering a trip for two, in conjunction with
STA Travel, to the most original music festival in the world – Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival 2008 (My Bloody Valentine, Underworld, Primal Scream). Includes flights, accommodation, transfers and spending money.

To enter, just sign up to the TheVine newsletter.

Authorised under NSW permit no: LTPS/08/03027, VIC permit no: 08/1361 , ACT permit no: TP 08/01321, SA permit no: T08/1206 Terms and Conditions apply"

Nature is just perfect on the Fraser Coast

Nature is just perfect on the Fraser Coast

Whales aren't the only wildlife smart enough to hang out around on
Queensland's Fraser Coast – there are many others that call this
year-round sanctuary home.

The Great Sandy Strait

This body of water between the mainland and World Heritage-listed
Fraser Island is home to one of the largest concentrations of bird
species in Australia. More than 300 species have been identified and
approximately 30,000 migratory trans-equatorial shorebirds use it as a
roosting area.

The Strait was declared a Ramsar site almost 10 years ago in
recognition of the importance of its wetlands area and is a dedicated
dugong sanctuary and home to many dolphins and turtles. All six marine
species of turtles are found here - the green, hawksbill, flatback,
Pacific Ridley, loggerhead and leatherback.

These are also the waters to which thousands of humpbacks and their
babies come each year for some time before their long swim back to the
Antarctic.

Explore the Sandy Straits by houseboat or yacht or enjoy a whale
watching tour during the season from July to November with one of the
many operators. (www.whalesherveybay.com.au)

Fraser Island

Birds are the most common form of wildlife seen on the island, many of
which are migratory species who use it as a resting place as they fly
from Australia to their breeding grounds in Siberia. Fraser Island's
Bird Week is held every year in May.
www.birdwatching.kingfisherbay.com.

In terms of mammals, the dingo is the most prevalent on the island and
these are regarded as the purest strain remaining in eastern
Australia. Bats, flying foxes, possums, sugar gliders, lizards, skinks
and turtles are also found in small numbers.

The local frogs are called 'acid frogs' as they have adapted to
tolerate the acidic conditions of the lakes and swamps.

Access to Fraser Island is by air, barge and passenger ferries.
Escorted tours depart daily from Hervey Bay and Rainbow Beach. A four
wheel drive is essential and can be hired from Hervey Bay, Kingfisher
Bay Resort and Rainbow Beach. A selection of accommodation options are
also available ranging from resort-style to camping.

Hervey Bay

A short drive from the centre of Fraser's Coast commercial hub is
Arkarra Lagoons, a natural paradise with hectares of subtropical
rainforest lagoons and meandering walking trails. Goannas, echidnas,
wallabies, kangaroos, possums and over 140 species of birds all live
happily here and it is a favourite spot for families and nature
lovers.

The Botanic Gardens at Urangan are another popular bird-watching area.
Around 80 species have been identified in the area and the lagoons are
homes to many types of water birds.

Dolphins of Tin Can Bay

Locals in this little town to the south of Hervey Bay have enjoyed
regular visits from a small number of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins
for around 30 years.

Most mornings between 7am and 10am the dolphins swim into the boat
ramp and allow people to hand feed them. This wonderful experience is
free, but the fish you feed them must be purchased to ensure their
feeding is monitored.

For information on self-drive routes and tours in the Fraser Coast
area visit www.frasercoastholidays.info

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Check-in.com.au



Check-in.com.au are a popular online accommodation booking site which offers discounted rates for a broad range of hotels around Australia, from the quaint to the extraordinary, suiting everyone's tastes or interests, the everyday or the special occasion. The company actually started in the now managing director's laundry five years ago and has grown to become one of Australia's most popular ways of booking accommodation online.

Check-in.com.au recently celebrated their fifth birthday and to celebrate, in an Australian first, the company has launched all 3000 accommodation properties on the popular online mapping sites Whereis.com, Google Maps and Multimap, to help celebrate the companies fifth birthday.

As you would know, travellers are becoming increasingly savvy at booking online and using online resources. Tools such as Google Maps, Whereis.com and Multimap have become popular ways to search for destinations with Whereis.com visited over four million times per month, alone.

This new online synergy allows those planning their next holiday or business trip to check out the surroundings of their desired destination - shopping malls, restaurants, function or exhibition centres, golf courses - and book directly through Check-in.com.au by clicking on the icon on the map!

They have also included PayPal on their website, which is just another convenient way for people to get the best deals on their travel and accommodation!

CruiseAgents and Costa in Australian First



Australian on-line cruise wholesaler, CruiseAgents, have reinforced their position at the forefront of technological innovation with the release this week of realtime cabin selection and booking.

Travel agents using the CruiseAgents system can now check availabilities, choose a cabin and book immediately with the client paying in Australian dollars and confirming their Costa cruise on the spot without waiting for frustrating callbacks or holding on the phone.

“There were a lot of late nights getting the two systems to co-operate, “ said Brett Dudley, managing director of CruiseAgents, “but the result is a very exciting innovation and a first for the industry that I’m sure will have other cruise lines looking closely at our process.”

Premier Italian-flagged cruise line, Costa Cruises, entered into a Preferred Sales Agent (PSA) agreement with CruiseAgents in early 2007 with the aim of increasing the growing brand’s presence in Australia as well as offering a booking alternative for both agents and the cruising public.

“Our experience is that cruising clients have a tight relationship with their travel agents, often relying heavily on their advice and industry knowledge. Our new system, I believe, will not only save time and money, but strengthen the bond of trust between agents and clients by providing a vastly enhanced and streamlined service that will really be appreciated by travellers. Clients are bound to be impressed by their agents’ ability to complete their booking so quickly and efficiently,” concluded Dudley.

CruiseAgents invites travel agents to log into the new system at www.cruiseagents.travel and see for themselves how quick and easy it will be to book their next Costa cruise.

For further information, please contact CruiseAgents on 1300 55 88 64 or e-mail marketing@cruiseagents.travel

About CruiseAgents:

Sydney-based CruiseAgents launched in June 2002 and has grown to become Australia's premier online cruise wholesaler and fulfilment specialist. CruiseAgents has been awarded many accolades and continue to lead in cruise travel technology. Cruiseagents is a member of the Travel Compensation Fund.

About Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises is Italy and Europe’s number one cruise vacation line. For the past 60 years its ships have plied the seas of the world, offering the best in Italian style, hospitality and cuisine and providing dream holidays with the utmost in terms of fun and relaxation. In 2007 over 1.1 million Guests chose to go cruising with Costa, a record for the European cruise industry. The Company’s 12 fleet members, each with her own distinctive characteristics and unique style, all fly the Italian flag and sail to 250 destinations in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean, South America, the United Arab Emirates, the Far East and the Indian Ocean. 5 more vessels have been commissioned and will enter service by 2012. Costa Cruises has been certified by RINA (Italian Shipping Register) with the BEST4, an integrated system of voluntary certification of corporate compliance with the highest standards governing social accountability (SA 8000, issued in 2001), environment (UNI EN ISO 14001, 1996), safety (OHSAS 18001, 1999) and quality (UNI EN ISO 9001, 2000). All Costa’s ships have been awarded RINA’s voluntary “Green Star” notation based on the highest environmental protection standards. Costa Cruises is also an official partner of the WWF for the protection of the marine ecoregions of the Mediterranean, the Greater Antilles and Brazil.

New Country Lodge


The Priory Country Lodge - BothwellTasmania’s newest fishing lodge is to open in June (2008). After a year of renovations the circa 1847 house has been reborn with just four luxurious bedrooms.

The Priory Country Lodge is in historic of Bothwell, one hour north of Hobart. Bothwell is a gateway to the central highlands and fly fishing country. The Priory is a sister property of Hobart’s acclaimed Islington hotel.

Beyond the bedrooms the Priory has a library, hunt room, dining, reading and movie rooms, a barbecue area and an outdoor infrared sauna. The manager lives off site but is the property’s host and chef.

The Priory offers a refined country experience. It is for travellers who are looking to blend luxury with hunting and fishing. Priory guests will also have ready access to the oldest golf course in Australia, whisky tasting at the exclusive NANT estate, private tours and historical walks.

The Priory costs $550 a night per room. All rooms can be yours for $2000 a night. Breakfast and dinner are included in the tariff.

To arrange a familiarisation visit to The Priory Country Lodge contact Nicholas Parkinson-Bates:
Tel: 0415 431 016 Email: gm@vandiemenhotelgroup.com

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