Hawaiian’s Seventh New A330 – Heiheionakeiki – Joins the Fleet

HONOLULU – Hawaiian Airlines today welcomed its seventh new Airbus A330-200 to its fleet, continuing a strategic growth plan that will have 22 of the new wide-body aircraft in operation by 2015.

The new A330 was flown nonstop from the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France, to Los Angeles this past Friday, where it underwent final preparations over the weekend before making its inaugural commercial flight today to Honolulu as Hawaiian Flight #3 carrying 245 passengers.

Hawaiian plans to use the 294-seat A330 primarily for its daily nonstop service between Sydney and Honolulu, with the transition to the larger aircraft from the 264-seat Boeing 767-300ER adding nearly 11,000 more air seats annually to the route.

Hawaiian has named its latest A330 Heiheionakeiki, the Hawaiian name to describe the “Belt and Sword of Orion” constellation. All of Hawaiian’s new A330s are named for a constellation or star used by the ancient Polynesians for celestial navigation when making their voyages across the Pacific to Hawaii.

Heiheionakeiki is the second of four new A330s to join Hawaiian’s fleet this year, with the remaining two A330s being delivered in May and June, which will bring the company total to nine. Hawaiian is taking delivery of 13 new A330s between 2013 and 2015.

The new A330s are more fuel-efficient and have a longer operating range than the B767s, giving Hawaiian the option to open new nonstop routes between Hawaii and points throughout North America and eastern Asia.

In addition, all of Hawaiian’s wide-body, twin-aisle A330s offer customer amenities that include a spacious interior highlighted by increased legroom, and state-of-the-art, on-demand entertainment system with high-resolution LCD touch-screen monitor in each seatback.

Helen Wong's Crazy 25th Birthday Sale

As part of the Helen Wong's Tours ongoing 25th Anniversary celebrations, the leading Asian specialist has unwrapped four hotly-priced deals for travel to China and Vietnam - some discounted to match 2005 prices.

And for those who book early, before May 31, 2012, a further $250 per person will be slashed off the price of two of the money-saving deals.

"We want everyone to share our Silver Anniversary excitement by saving on the next tour," said Helen Wong, who founded Helen Wong's Tours in Australia in 1987.

"It's a significant year for us," she said, "so there's no reason why travellers can't benefit and cash in on a sale as crazy as this one.

"Prices on two of the tours - Beijing Bonanza and Shanghai Surprise - are the same as similar tours seven years ago."

The four packaged itineraries in the aptly billed "Helen's Crazy Birthday Sale" promotion are as follow (prices include return flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth):

Seven-day Beijing Bonanza, priced from $1590pp, twin share (Brisbane and Perth passengers have extra day at no additional cost);
  • Seven-day Shanghai Surprise, priced from $1590pp, twin share;
  • 14-day 25th Anniversary Tour of China, priced from $2950pp, twin share;
  • 13-day 25th Anniversary Tour of Vietnam, priced from $2950pp, twin share (from $3280pp, twin share from Brisbane and Perth)
Book and pay a deposit on either of the 14-day 25th Anniversary Tours to China or the 13-day 25th Anniversary Tour to Vietnam before May 31, 2012, and price will discounted by a further $250 per passenger.

"That's $500 a couple," stressed Ms Wong whose company last year passed the 200,000 milestone mark for numbers of Australians to Shanghai.

Helen Wong's Tours' 25th Anniversary Tour to China begins with a flight to Shanghai and covers the sights and sounds of canal city Suzhou, ancient Wuzhen, Hangzhou, Xian (home of the Terracotta Warriors) and capital Beijing.

The 25th Anniversary Tour to Vietnam begins with a flight to capital Hanoi and covers Hoa Lu, Vietnam's first capital, breathtaking Halong Bay, ancient Hoi An, the religious centre of My Son, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Cai Be in the Mekong Delta.

All four special tour prices apply to travel in July and August, 2012.

Details: Helen Wong's Tours, phone (02) 9267 7833, www.helenwongstours.com; or your travel agent.

Growth Markets & My Background

As we'll get to know each other more during our blogging days ahead, here's a little info about me and Growth Markets via my recent interview with eTravel Blackboard:

What to Look For in a Discount Travel Site

There are a lot of discount travel sites online these days, and it's hard to figure out which ones are good and which ones aren't going to give you what you need to not only make a good choice, but to make sure you're protected later on. Here are 5 things to look for when deciding on a site.

1. You want to be able to book at least hotel, airline, and rental car at one site. If you can't get at least all 3 of these at once, don't even bother using the site. Even if you don't need one of these, you know that if all 3 are offered you have a great opportunity at getting a great discount if you did.

2. Are you getting any kind of deal to begin with? The best way to make sure is to pull up the site for either a hotel or airline, see what their rate is for at least a 3 day stay, and compare it to the discount you should be getting on a discount site. If you're not really getting a discount, then don't bother with the site. Hopefully, you're getting a discount of at least 20%, and if that's the case, then you're on your way.

3. A discount travel site should make sure everything you do is easy to understand. If you have to spend 10 minutes reading through something because it's confusing, move to another site.

4. Any good discount site has vacation packages that will offer you even greater savings than usual travel packages will. You shouldn't have to search too hard to find them, as they should be displayed somewhere very prominently.

5. They should have an easy way to contact them directly, either by email, phone, or online chat service. If you have to search all over the place for contact information, stay away because that means you'll have problems reaching them if something bad happens as well.

If you're careful, you will have a positive experience in booking your trip through a discount travel site, which means you'll also have a good time while on your vacation.

How to Travel Cheap - 3 Secrets Many of the Online Discount Travel Sites Hope You Don't Find Out!

If you are planning a family vacation or any travel plans at all, you should know that there are things the discount travel sites are not going to tell you and they hope you don't find out! But worry not, here they are spelled out for you in black and white:

1. You may not know that the published rate you view on the travel website may not be the lowest possible rate available. The reason for this is the big online travel agencies as well as the offline agencies receive their volume in bulk, and they don't announce or publish the private fare prices or those for consolidators. Why should they? They would lose money if they posted below-the-market airfares and deals. To discover these under-market prices and fab lower-price deals on airfares and travel, you will need to consult an experienced and knowledgeable travel pro, but just know that these fares are absolutely out there for you.

2. All costs are not normally shown in the search results when you are doing a search on one of the online discount travel sites. The price that comes up may be leaving out quite a lot actually such as surcharges for certain seats, checked baggage costs, and other surcharges added on by the airline. As a results of these shenanigans, that "lowest and best price" you are viewing at the site may in reality be a lot higher.

3. Once you have purchased your travel tickets from one of the budget travel websites online, you are pretty much on your own to deal with any problems. The websites may make it sound like they will be around to help, and they might very well be, but often you will have trouble finding a phone number to connect with a live person. So if you have any last-minute problems this could prove to make things difficult for you. If indeed you are able to find a phone number and talk to someone, you may often find they speak English as a second or third language. This again will make resolving your issues difficult.

Keep these thoughts in mind when searching online for your best travel deals. Those deals are out there waiting for you to find, but do your due diligence and know what you are dealing with before you hit "send" and purchase those great vacation tickets.

The Perfect Destination for your Vacation visit New York

New York is known as the city that never sleeps. It is a wonderful destination for your vacation and you’ve got to visit the place at least once in your lifetime. The city that never sleeps has so much in store to offer for you that you will always cherish for the reminder of your life. Considering the fact that most of us live in a hectic world servicing the corporate world and its requirements, it has become quite common and evident that everyone wants to take a break from the mundane routine and celebrate life to the fullest by losing control and partying like anything. New York subsequently becomes the perfect holiday spot for your breakthrough vacation. The city promotes tourism with a lot of enthusiasm and spirit that it has come up with several comprehensive and versatile tourist packages commonly known as New York Tours

Experience what the city has to offer by opting for New York Bus Tours as it gives you an astonishing and comprehensive experience of a beautiful city. The people in New York are highly friendly, lovable and welcoming to provide a heartwarming stay for you in the city. The city is also filled with several sightseeing spots that leave a spellbound effect on you. Museums, theme parks, Broadway, Times Square, multi-cuisine restaurants, shopping malls, theaters, Yankees Ballpark, pubs, discotheques and many more, you name it, you’ve got it. New York is simply a paradise on earth and it is the best place for you to experience fun filled and entertaining night life. 

Touring New York could be quite expensive considering expenses and the standard of living the city follows. However, as it is your vacation, it would be advisable for you to be a little flexible when it comes to finalizing your budget for the vacation. However, this doesn’t mean you need to spend crazily. The tourism board of New York, lodging facilities, airline services providing flights to New York has all come up with versatile and comprehensive packages that help you to save ton of your budget.  Booking your tickets and planning your agenda at the earliest is the best way to go about enjoying New York while simultaneously saving a lot on your budget.  So hurry today and plan your trip at the earliest.  

Airbus A380 blows tyres on landing [pics]

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click to enlarge

An Emirates Airlines Airbus A380-800, registration A6-EDQ performing flight EK-384 from Bangkok (Thailand) to Hong Kong (China), landed on Hong Kong's runway 07L at 17:33L (09:33Z) on Apr 7th 2012 and vacated the runway via high speed turn off A7 stopping just past the hold short line with two blown right hand main tyres, the aircraft was disabled. The passengers disembarked onto the taxiway via mobile stairs about one hour after landing.

The northern runway 07L/25R was closed for about 4 hours until the aircraft was towed off the taxiway. The runway had been estimated to return to service by 23:30Z (07:30L Apr 8th Hong Kong Time), about 14 hours after landing.

Passengers reported they saw sparks from an engine at the right hand side and noticed a burning smell, the crew quickly announced they had burst tyres.

An observer on the ground reported maintenance staff were replacing a number of tyres.

Sources at Hong Kong Airport report the aircraft suffered an anti-skid failure on landing resulting in brakes locking and causing two main wheels to be ground down to the axle.

The airline reported the aircraft blew two tyres on landing.

Traveloscopy has learned that nose gear tyres on A380s are being replaced roughly every 25 landings as opposed to 200 on a B747.

All hands on deck as Oceania Cruises Riviera nears completion

Inline images 1

Anticipation grows as Oceania Cruises' newest ship, Riviera, nears completion at Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente shipyard near Genoa, Italy. The line's founder and chairman, Frank Del Rio, and the vessel operations team has been on-site for the last two weeks focused on every detail.
Among those on hand for the countdown to the May 11, 2012, christening in Barcelona are celebrated interior designers Dakota Jackson and Susan Bednar Long who are putting the finishing touches on the ship's spacious suites.
Jacksonis personally supervising the installation of the Vista and Oceania suites, which feature more than 40 custom pieces of furniture and lighting. In addition, a team from Greenwich, CT-based S.B. Long Interiors is overseeing the installation of the ship's three Owner's Suites, each measuring more than 2,000 square feet with furnishings from the acclaimed Ralph Lauren Home Collection.
"Riviera looks simply gorgeous and has been custom built to deliver the Oceania Cruises experience to our guests," said Kunal S. Kamlani, president of Oceania Cruises. "A mid-size ship that can access the world's most unique ports, multiple gourmet dining venues and un-matched, personalized service are the hallmarks of our brand."
Oceania Cruises' newest entry in the upper-premium category blends the line's signature country club casual atmosphere with the sophisticated elegance of a luxurious private estate.

Several one-of-a-kind features distinguish Riviera, including a museum-worthy collection of more than 100 works by some of Latin America's most accomplished and admired contemporary artists; the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, a cooking school at sea offering hands-on learning; La Reserve by Wine Spectator, a professional facility for wine tastings and pairing dinners, as well as 10 dining venues including Jacques, the namesake restaurant of the world-renowned master chef, Jacques Pépin.
The ship's gala christening ceremony in Barcelona will be presided over by Riviera's godmother, Cat Cora, who is a master chef, restaurateur, humanitarian, author, and co-host of Bravo's new "Around the World in 80 Plates." Following the inaugural festivities, the ship sails a 10-day Maiden Voyage on May 16 from Venice to Athens. Through November 2012 Riviera will offer 12 distinctive itineraries on a total of 20 Mediterranean voyages, calling on ports in France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Turkey as well as Israel, Croatia, Cyprus, Montenegro, Morocco and Monaco, with maiden calls in Cephalonia (Argostoli), Motril (Granada) and La Palma in the Canary Islands.
The latest " Explore Your World"  offers are out now featuring Riviera, for sales through to 30 June 2012.

Contact your preferred wholesaler now for further information.  
About Oceania Cruises
Oceania Cruises® offers unrivaled cuisine, luxurious accommodations, exceptional personalized service and extraordinary value. Award-winning itineraries visit more than 330 ports in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the Americas aboard the 684-guestRegatta, Insignia and Nautica. The line's 1,250-guest Marina debuted in January 2011 and will be followed by Riviera - a sister ship - in May 2012.

About Prestige Cruise Holdings

Prestige Cruise Holdings (PCH) is the parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Formed in 2007 to manage select assets in Apollo Management's cruise investment portfolio, PCH is led by Chairman and CEO Frank Del Rio, the founder of Oceania Cruises. PCH is the market leader in the upper-premium and luxury segments of the cruise industry with nearly 5,200 berths between the Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, a number the company expects will grow to approximately 6,500 berths by 2012.

For more information on Oceania Cruises visit

New look HM April 2012 now online

HM (Hotel Management) Magazine April 2012 V.16.2

Boeing Delivers First Lufthansa 747-8 Intercontinental

First 747-8 Intercontinental delivery to Lufthansa
Boeing (NYSE: BA) has delivered the first 747-8 Intercontinental passenger airliner to Deutsche Lufthansa AG, beginning a new era for the world's most recognized airplane, and beginning a new era of increased efficiency, stronger environmental performance and greater enjoyment for Lufthansa and its passengers.

"Lufthansa and Boeing have a long and proud history of working together to bring new innovations to the airline industry," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We are grateful for Lufthansa's inspiration and leadership in helping us design a new Queen of the Skies for the 21st Century, and I'm proud of what Boeing employees have accomplished by bringing this great airplane to Lufthansa and the world."

"After working together for many years, we are very pleased to have the newest generation of four-engine aircraft join our fleet," said Christoph Franz, chairman of the Executive Board and chief executive officer of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.

Lufthansa employees will conduct airline-specific preparations to get the airplane ready for a May 1 flight to its permanent home base in Frankfurt. Boeing will host a special flyaway celebration with senior executives from both companies that day. Lufthansa will then host a special celebration when the airplane arrives in Frankfurt on May 2. Details of those celebrations will be announced soon.

The 747-8 Intercontinental will bring double-digit improvements in fuel burn and emissions over its predecessor, the 747-400, while generating 30 percent less noise. The 747-8 Intercontinental's Dreamliner-inspired interior includes a new curved, upswept architecture giving passengers a greater feeling of space and comfort, while adding more room for personal belongings. It is powered by GE Aviation's GEnx-2B engines.

British Airways Marks 85 Years of Inflight Service

On May 1, 2012, it will be 85 years since the first inflight meal service on a commercial aircraft and food in the air has come a long way since then.

In 1927 Imperial Airways (predecessor to British Airways) introduced the Silverwing branded air service on the London to Paris route. The flight offered the first luxury onboard meal service. A male steward dressed in a smart white tunic served just ten passengers on the flight, which took around two hours.

On board was a small cabinet carrying four gills (servings) of whisky, a dozen bottles of lager beer, two siphons of sparkling water and twelve assorted bottles of mineral water. They also carried a packet of sandwiches or biscuits and one or two thermos flasks of hot water, within which the steward made coffee or beef tea to nourish the passengers during the flight. The service represented the height of luxury, up until this time passengers had to fend for themselves, packing homemade snacks for the journey.

85 years on British Airways' cabin crew serve around 100,000 meals a day to customers, often with more than one meal on an individual flight. The airline's 14,000 crew are trained in the art of premium service. They are taught skills which include how to tell a Merlot from a Shiraz, how to cook the perfect scrambled eggs and how to re-create a five star turndown service.

Bill Francis, British Airways' head of inflight service, said: "At British Airways we have an incredible history. We've developed the service to our customers and even as we've grown from small propeller aircraft to 747's, we've managed to maintain the magic that makes flying special."

The British Airways Heritage Collection opened in November 2011 at British Airways' head office and is open to members of the public. Information from the collection can also be found online at www.ba.com/heritage.

Enjoy Koreastay, Your home away from home!

For travellers to Korea wanting to get a first-hand experience of Korean life and culture there is no better way than enjoying a home-stay with a Korean family.  'Koreastay' is a home-stay program certified by Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) which offers international visitors to Korea a special opportunity to experience life with a Korean family.

'Koreastay' host families are carefully selected after undergoing strict assessment of such criteria as residential environment, guestroom and house cleanliness, service and convenience.

A home-stay experience allows visitors the chance to experience the authentic Korean way of life including Korean family meals and various traditional customs and cultural activities like family traditions and Korean games etc.

'Koreastay' is a great way to start your trip to Korea while immersing yourself in Korean life and culture.  Most host families are located in major cities, close to tourist areas and provide some home cooked meals and various travel information.

Starting from US$30 per night rates vary depending on host and location.  By visiting the 'Koreastay' webpage on the official KTO website http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/koreastay you can search information on home-stay accommodation by city or region and the suitability of accommodation, reviews and much more.

Make your next visit to Korea a real cultural experience rather than staying in a hotel.  You may be surprised what you can discover by staying at home with a Korean family and how much more fulfilling your journey to Korea can be.

Ultimate luxury is launched with Club InterContinental at Dubai Festival City

InterContinental Dubai Festival City has re-launched its Club InterContinental offering, providing guests with its most superior, luxury stay option.

Club InterContinental guests will benefit from a range of added extras, including airport transfers, food and refreshments served throughout the day, early check-in or late check-out where available and complimentary high speed internet connection, among many others.

Guests can enjoy complimentary breakfast in the privacy of their own exclusive lounge as the sun rises over the city, indulge in high tea in the late afternoon, followed by an evening buffet and refreshing drinks overlooking Dubai's breathtaking skyline from the 26th floor. Guests can also enjoy complimentary bubbles from 6pm – 8pm, whilst the complimentary suit pressing service on arrival is perfect following a flight before a busy day ahead.

Check-in and check-out is very swift and convenient in the Club's own dedicated guest relations area, and an in-room check-in and check-out service is available for those with particularly busy schedules. Flexible express check-out is also available when time is of the essence. Business is made simple with daily complimentary use of the Club boardroom facilities, as well as complimentary WiFi, making sure guests are always connected.

Those that stay in one of the hotel's eight luxury signature suites will also benefit from additional deluxe features, including butler service, complimentary daily pick-up and drop-off, in-room floral arrangements and fruit basket, complimentary mini bar, preferential tee-times at Al Badia Golf Club and guaranteed Spa appointments at Spa InterContinental.

Tom Lord, hotel manager at InterContinental Dubai Festival City, said: "Club InterContinental is the most premium product that we offer here at the hotel, so right from the point of touchdown at the airport, we promise to deliver only the highest levels of comfort, convenience and personalised service during the guest's entire stay, providing a seamless, unrivalled experience that guests will long remember.

"We have listened to our guests and tailored our product and services to suit their needs, wants and requirements, so Club guests can enjoy a supreme level of attention, in superior rooms that have been carefully selected to meet their desires."

The new Club InterContinental option is available to book at InterContinental Dubai Festival City now. For room reservations please call +971 (0)4 701 1110.

Visit www.ihg.com for hotel information and reservations and www.priorityclub.com for more on Priority Club Rewards. For our latest news, visit www.ihg.com/media, www.twitter.com/ihgplc or www.youtube.com/ihgplc.


Bali to host Miss World pageant 2013

source: TravelMole

Miss World Bikini parade. How will this effect local Muslim sensibilities?
Bali beach litter is an on-going
concern (pic: RedSkyNews)
Bali will host the Miss World pageant, one of the oldest major international beauty pageants, next year.

Bali governor I Made Mangku Pastika says Denpasar would be the host for the event, following a meeting with a co-chairperson of the Miss World Organisation, Julia Morley.

More than 130 beauty queens across the world are expected to take part in the event.

"Bali will try to improve herself to get ready ahead of the pageant," Pastika said, quoted by kompas.com.

Bali has been the subject of criticism of late for its failure to tackle pollution and traffic congestion.

The governor said he hoped that hosting the event would boost Bali’s reputation and tourism sector.

Jetstar Japan prepares for takeoff with delivery of first aircraft

Jetstar Japan has taken delivery of its first Airbus A320 aircraft in Toulouse, France.

The Japanese carrier will start commercial services in July operating from Narita to Kansai, Fukuoka, Sapporo, and Okinawa with an initial fleet of three aircraft.

This fleet will grow to 24 aircraft within three years.

Jetstar Japan’s A320s are configured in an all-economy layout with 180 seats.

Each aircraft is powered by IAE V2500 engines.

“We are extremely happy to take delivery of our brand new Airbus A320.

“With its wider seats and more spacious cabin than the competition, we are positioned to provide better value that our customers will appreciate as well as fast turnarounds, which is key to our business model,” said Jetstar Japan president, Miyuki Suzuki.

“We aim to become the number one LCC in the Japanese market, and the A320 will help us achieve our goals.”

Jetstar Japan, established in 2011, is a joint venture between the Qantas Group, Japan Airlines (JAL), Mitsubishi Corporation and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation. Jetstar Japan’s Airbus fleet is from an order for 110 A320 Family aircraft placed by the Qantas Group in October 2011.


We all want ‘peace of mind’ when travelling overseas but with the world becoming more and more complicated – pirates attacking cruise ships, terrorism, political uprisings and now swine flu – the need to have as many points covered as possible to optimise your security is now more imperative than ever.

“People have to, now more than ever, be very aware of where they are going and what they are doing as situations can change dramatically,” Mark McCormack, CEO of Loop9, and developer of the new cutting edge technology Travel Messenger SMS ‘Concierge’ Service, said.

McCormack said Travel Messenger, which sends up-to-the-minute SMS security updates to a traveller’s mobile phone (covering over 200 countries and 3000 cities) is vital for 21st century travel security.

“To me, it is as necessary as travel insurance – you should not leave home without it”.

McCormack has five tips “absolutely vital” for those seeking peace of mind while travelling abroad:

(1) Register on www.Smarttraveller.com.au – the Australian Government’s travel advisory and consular assistance service. It provides up to date advice for travellers on a host of countries. If registered, the government can then contact you if an emergency arises at your destination.

(2) Check out World Health Organisation www.who.int for advice on subjects such as the swine flu outbreak. The WHO recommends that if you are travelling in swine flu affected areas to avoid public gatherings, avoid using public transportation, if in public try to remain 6 feet away from others, if you experience cold like symptoms see your doctor immediately

It also offers advice on keeping healthy while overseas and what to do if you fall ill.

(3) Travel Insurance – never leave home without it. Lack of travel insurance can ruin a holiday and end up costing the traveller tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs. Go to the website www.insurancecouncil.com.au for all the latest information. Read policy fine print carefully and make sure you are covered for all your varying needs.

(4) Photocopy all your travel documents and keep them separate from your originals. Also email all your personal details such as passport number, itinerary, flight details to your own email in case documents are lost/stolen.

(5) Sign up to Travel Messenger - www.travelmessenger.com.au - through major travel agencies.

“In less than 12 months of operations Travel Messenger SMS technology has proven crucial to the safety of thousands of Australians caught up in dangerous situations overseas – most recently the political turmoil in Bangkok and the terrorist attack in Mumbai,” McCormack said.

“We kept travellers constantly updated on the unfolding situations 24/7 with up to the minute travel warnings,” he said.

For further information visit www.TravelMessenger.com.au

Martin Boetz announced as final chef for Delicious Weekend

A delicious. weekend away, 8-11 June 2012

delicious. Magazine and The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa are excited to announce that top chef Martin Boetz of Longrain Sydney and Melbourne will bring his acclaimed Thai cooking to the line-up for the first delicious. weekend away for 2012.

Boetz promises to bring energy and colour to the weekend alongside Bangalow based pastry extraordinaire Katrina Kanetani from Town and delicious. food director Valli Little. The three day food and wine extravaganza over the June Long Weekend promises to deliver the best food and hospitality from the Northern Rivers region.

The weekend includes a cooking class with the delicious. maestro herself Valli Little, lunch at award winning Newrybar restaurant Harvest, a visit to local farmers' markets and a producer's farm and a gala four course dinner.

Program of Events:
Friday 8 June
- Welcome party on the restaurant lawn featuring local producer stalls, canapés and wines from Tempus Two
- Two course dinner in The Byron at Byron Restaurant featuring local produce.

Saturday 9 June
- Visit Bangalow Farmers' Market and The Farm Gate Providore
- Lunch at award winning restaurant Harvest, Newrybar
- Long Table Gala Four Course Dinner featuring Martin Boetz (Longrain), Katrina Kanetani (Town) Valli Little (delicious.) and Gavin Hughes (The Byron at Byron) with wines by McGuigan, Nepenthe and Tempus Two

Sunday 10 June
- Yoga on the pool deck
- Morning Cooking Class with Martin Boetz and Valli Little presented by Nestle Plaistowe
- Long lunch featuring the cooking class menu
- Cocktail hour canapé demonstration with sunset drinks

Monday 11 June
- Poolside pop-up brunch by popular café The Top Shop
- Demonstration by local coffee roaster

$1119 per person twin share in a Standard Suite
Upgrade to Deluxe Spa Suite $1179
Read more
For bookings, email reservations@thebyronatbyron.com.au or call 1300 554 362

The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa
77-97 Broken Head Road
Byron Bay NSW 2481

1300 554 362 or +61 2 6639 2000


Best destinations for the strong Australian dollar

Strong dollar sees Australians flocking overseas

 But theft and currency rates remain a big concern

Australians are travelling overseas more than ever thanks to the strong dollar, and 68% say they'll spend more overseas while it remains high, according to new Galaxy research commissioned by leading currency specialist OzForex.

Certain global destinations are the cheapest they've been for decades, with Europe at the top of the list.  Three years ago in April 2009, $1 Australian would buy you 0.55 Euros.  Today it buys you 0.79 Euros - an increase of more than 43%.  OzForex CEO Neil Helm says it's worth taking advantage of.

"From Paris to Berlin, that's a massive jump in your spending power.  Travellers can thank a lack of confidence in the Euro as a result of problems in Greece, Spain, Portugal and other European countries for the bump."

In second place comes the US, where you get 42% more for your money: three years ago $1 Australian bought 72 US cents, now it buys well over $1 US.  The third best value is found in the UK, where the Australian dollar is still up an enormous 33% on the pound.

"That still might not make a notorious London latte good value, but it's certainly a great boost for Australians visiting the UK for the Olympics this year," says Neil Helm.

Closer to home, Thailand is also excellent value.  In 2009, you'd get about 25 baht for your dollar. Today, you'll net about 32 - a rise of almost 24%.

But while Australians jet off overseas, the vast majority are still stressing about exchange rates and fees, as well as the security of their money.

According to Galaxy, 87% were worried about theft and loss, even though 17% prefer to take cash than cards on holiday.  Younger and more frequent travellers also preferred cash.

And although 83% worry about transaction costs, the majority still use credit cards when they travel despite the higher fees that these incur.  Just 14% use pre-paid multicurrency travel money cards, which are specifically designed as a convenient and safer option for those travelling overseas.

"OzForex's new multicurrency Travel Card aims to take the headache out of travel by letting you choose when you want to lock-in exchange rates, you're not at the mercy of the markets," Neil Helm explains.

"And because we're a currency specialist, not a bank, we can offer very competitive rates, and we've been able to slash fees.  So there's no extra charge for putting money on your card, and it's much more secure than carrying cash."


Outbound tourism statistics

Outbound tourism numbers and expenditure are soaring.  Government figures show over 7 million resident outbound departures in 2011 and this is forecast to reach over 10 million by 2020.

In the September 2011 quarter, net expenditure overseas saw the first positive result in 10 years according to ABS statistics:  $254 million more was spent by Australians overseas, than by foreigners in Australia.  This is partly due to a fall in tourism, but also to an increase in Australians travelling and spending overseas.

Galaxy research findings
  • 48% find bank transaction fees hard to understand
  • 83% worry about exchange rates and fees overseas
  • 14% currently use pre-paid cards
  • 91% would find a pre-paid card with locked-in rates useful
  • 68% say the strong dollar will make them spend more

The 1st Post - A Toast to Growth Markets and the Future

Yay! Here we go! Here's to Growth Markets shaping and leading the travel industry into the future, while providing organizations with renewed vitality, spunk and financial vigor.


Hawaiian Airlines tomorrow will upgrade its service between Hawaii and Australia, with the much-anticipated introduction of Hawaiian's newest and largest aircraft, the 294-seat Airbus A330-200, on daily flights between Honolulu and Sydney.

The wide-body Airbus A330s have 30 more seats that the current Boeing 767-300ERs, which have served the Sydney-Honolulu route since May 2004, when Hawaiian entered this market with four weekly nonstop flights. The new aircraft will add nearly 11,000 seats annually. 

Hawaiian's first A330 to Australia is due to leave Honolulu as flight HA 451 at 11:45am local time on Tuesday, or 09:45am Sydney time on Wednesday. It is scheduled to arrive in Sydney at 7:20pm Wednesday, before returning to Hawaii as flight HA 452.

"Travel from Australia to Hawaii is booming," said Sherilyn Robinson, General Manager Sales and Marketing for Hawaiian Airlines in Australia.

"Introducing our new A330 aircraft will help meet growing demand and will further improve the travel experience for our customers," Ms Robinson said. "Our new A330s can seat 30 more passengers than the Boeing 767s, which means a capacity increase of 11% per flight, or the equivalent of 41 additional 767 flights in a full year. The Airbuses also have more spacious cabins, and all passengers have in-seat video and games entertainment."

The A330 features high-resolution LCD touch-screen monitors installed in each seatback, enabling customers to choose from a wide range of movies, TV programs, music, and video games, while also offering a USB port for the use of their own personal media players.

From Honolulu, Hawaiian operates frequent flights to the islands of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island, as well as to 10 US mainland cities – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Jose, Oakland, San Diego and Phoenix.

The growth continues, with daily nonstop flights between Honolulu and New York City commencing on 04 June. Passengers arriving from Sydney can connect in Honolulu with the new NYC services.

Through a partnership with Virgin Australia, passengers from 18 destinations around Australia can connect with Hawaiian's nightly flights from Sydney.

Passengers can also enjoy Hawaiian's signature "Hawaii Flies With Us" onboard experience which engages customers with a showcase of the culture, people, natural beauty, and Aloha Spirit of the Hawaiian Islands.

For more information about Hawaiian Airlines or to make a booking contact travel agents, call Hawaiian reservations on 1300 669 106 or visit www.hawaiianairlines.com.au.

Tourism Boost for Norfolk Island National Park

Park manager Dr Coral Rowston said the visitor centre would become a 'first stop shop' for park visitors and locals, packed with the latest information about the park and Norfolk's natural environment.

"This is a milestone for Norfolk - our first purpose-built visitor interpretive centre for the island," Dr Rowston said.

"The next stage is to fit out the interior of the centre with contemporary and interactive displays. We're planning to have this finished by the end of the year.

"I'm again amazed at the skills and talent of the people who have assisted in getting the construction to this stage. On behalf of Parks Australia, a huge thank you to all involved in delivering this challenging project. When the interior is finished, the centre is going to be a first-class facility supporting tourism on the island."

Crosscut Constructions' Brandt McRitchie and Norfolk Island Tourism manager Glenn Buffett, officially cut the ribbon to celebrate completion of the centre's construction last Wednesday.

At the same time, the park and BAUNTI ESCAPES launched another innovative product for Nofolk's tourist market - iPod self-guided tours for visitors that prefer to visit the park on their own rather than choose to go on a tour.

The iPod tour gives visitors the flexibility to wander the parks trails at their leisure while listening to recorded, informative commentary about the walk, and the plants and birds of Norfolk. This modern twist to guided tours has not been seen on Norfolk Island before and is set to be a huge hit with visitors and locals alike. Anyone wishing to hire out the iPods should see the friendly staff at BAUNTI ESCAPES.

SAA announces expansion with new direct flights to Maun in Botswana

South African Airlink Embraer ERJ 135
South African Airways (SAA) is continuing to expand its network in Africa by launching a new daily direct service between Johannesburg and Maun in Botswana on June 15.

According to Tim Clyde-Smith, SAA's Country Manager, Australasia, Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta, a 15,000 square-kilometre area of swamp and water that is the world's largest inland delta and also the world's largest oasis.

"The Okavango Delta lies in northern Botswana on the north-eastern edge of the Kalahari Desert, and is close to the border with the Caprivi Strip panhandle in eastern Namibia," Tim said.

"Botswana is increasingly popular with Australians who are looking for a different travel experience in a region teaming with wildlife. Now, with direct services to the Delta, they can reach it in just one stop from Australia," he said.

The Delta's combination of lush wetland lying next to arid dry country makes it one of the world's most unique places to see game, in terms of the variety of dry-land and wetland species that co-exist in near proximity. Low-ecological-impact tourist camps and lodges are dotted throughout the area catering to group and individual safari visits.

SAA's service to Maun Airport (IATA code MUB) will be operated by its regional partner South African Airlink with 37-seat Embraer ERJ-135 regional jets. SA operates eight 37-seat Embraer ERJ135LR regional jets, as well as eight 83-seat Avro RJ85s and 13 29-seat BAE Systems Jetstream 4100 turboprops.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana recently made a decision to allow increased flights into the country, meaning SAA can commence the new service in addition to its existing flights to Gabarone, the capital city.

The schedule for the new daily Johannesburg-Maun service will see flight SA 8300 departing Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) at 11:45 am, arriving at MUB at 1:15 pm. In the other direction, flight SA 8301 will leave MUB at 2:00 pm and reach JNB at 3:40 pm.

"SAA's new service to Maun opens up a new and much more convenient way to access one of Botswana's most popular safari destinations through our partners at Airlink," Tim Clyde-Smith said.

Note : SAA has daily non-stop flights from Sydney and six flights a week from Perth to Johannesburg, with direct connections to the largest network in Africa. SAA is consistently voted the 'Best Airline & Cabin Crew in Africa' winning it for the 16th consecutive year in the Travel Weekly Globe Awards in London. SAA took out top honours at the recent WTA awards in London, with three awards in the Africa category. SAA is a member of STAR, the world's largest alliance reaching 916 destinations in 160 countries. For more information on SAA flights and reservations please call 1300 435 972 or www.flysaa.com

USA Travel & Tourism guides to Faneuil Hall Marketplace

USA Travel Guides: Faneuil Hall Marketplace is also called Quincy Market, now it is one of the most popular Boston shopping destinations. A fun mixture of unique shops, restaurants, traditional food stalls, and national brand stores give shoppers and diners plenty of choices.  Outdoor vendors and popular nightspots including a re-creation of Cheers add to the fun. But Faneuil Hall Marketplace is much more than just a trendy shopping complex it's Boston's oldest market area, dating back to 1742 and rooted in a clash between wealthy businessman / developer Peter Faneuil and what he considered to be a regarded as a tight-fisted, repressive, post-Puritan city government regime.

Peter Faneuil amassed a reasonably large fortune as a merchant, ship builder, businessman, slave trader, and occasional smuggler, he inherited an even larger fortune from his wealthy uncle in 1738, making him one of the richest men in America. With all that money under his control, Faneuil naturally started looking for ways to spend it. The building's construction began in 1740, and took 2 years to complete.  Smybert's plans included an open ground floor with arcades, perfect for a covered meat and produce market.  A large assembly room occupied the second floor.

An 80-pound gold-gilded copper grasshopper weather vane, created by Shem Drowne in 1742 based on a similar grasshopper weather vane on top of the London Royal Exchange, crowns the top of Faneuil Hall's belfry.  A steeplejack stole this weather vane in 1974, planning to hold it for ransom, but the police recovered it a few days later. Peter Faneuil died only 6 months after the building was completed, and the marketplace came to be called Faneuil Hall in his honor. After fire destroyed Faneuil Hall Marketplace in 1761, it was rebuilt, and then enlarged by famous Boston architect Charles Bulfinch in 1806.  He doubled the width of the building and added a third floor, while managing to retain its Georgian columns.

You may be wondering how a marketplace ended up on Boston's Freedom Trail. Due to Faneuil Hall's second floor assembly room, and the patriotic events that unfolded there. Because of its size, the assembly hall became one of the Colonists' favorite spots, along with the Old State House and the Old South Meeting House, for fiery speeches advocating liberty as conflicts with England heated up.  Nearby taverns, some of which you can still visit today, no doubt contributed to the speakers' fervor.

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A Quick Look At Discount Travel Sites

When you are looking for the best discount travel sites, it will be important that you take some time to research the provider and make sure that they are reputable and have a reputation for providing excellent service to their customers. There are many sites that offer discount travel, however, finding the site that provides you with quality travel and accommodations will make your holiday travel both cost effective and worry-free.

The site that you select will often have discounts and travel packages that include your travel to a destination, accommodations and excursions once you have arrived at the destinations. The accommodations that a quality site will offer will provide you with all of the amenities that are available to travellers who do not receive a discount on travel.

When you are traveling by plane for several hours, you may want to get some rest before starting your vacation. This is especially true when on a flight to a foreign country.

Staying at Auckland Airport Hotels before you begin your adventure inland will allow you the time to recuperate from your flight and enjoy the hospitality and luxury of a hotel that will take only a few minutes to reach once you disembark from your flight. The Skycity Hotels Auckland makes available through discount sites, gives you the ability to begin your travels fresh and ready to experience the beauty and adventure that this country is famous for.

You will be able to enjoy a wonderful meal at the hotel restaurant and get a good night's sleep before you move on to the next step of your holiday fun.

Visiting discount travel sites to book your holiday will save you time and money when you are traveling on a budget or want to have more money to spend while you are on holiday. By booking early, you will be able to select the travel packages that will meet all of your needs and requirements.


Club Med Sahoro in Japan, has come out tops in the hotel rankings in Asia, in the latest ratings by TripAdvisor; and as the awards are judged by ratings given by those who have actually travelled with their family, this award is highly coveted.

Millions of reviews, opinions, pictures and replies are posted each year on the website, that is now regarded as one of the most reliable and up-to-date ways to critically examine all aspects of a resort before booking for travel.

As posts are from travellers all around the world, the reviews are seen as multicultural - reflected from the many different angles such as country of origin, customs, gender, culture and taste preferences – therefore Club Med's win is seen as a global pat on the back for its famous team of multicultural GO's (staff) and its signature gourmet buffets that they are renowned for, when staying at one of its 4 & 5 Trident Resorts, at 80 locations around the globe.

The move upscale in the past 4 years, to a minimum of 4 or 5 Trident has proven very successful for the Company, and the growth in business results are proving that move was timely and well planned.

"Sahoro is Club Med's all-inclusive Ski Resort on the Island of Hokkaido, Japan, and features some of the best quality powder snow which can be enjoyed by both beginners and skilled skiers alike. The Resort also offers many other off-piste activities such as horse-riding in the snow, snow-shoeing, a raft of indoor activities and leisure facilities such as heated indoor pool and outdoor jaccuzi in the most picture-perfect setting imaginable," says Quentin Briard, General Manager, Club Med Australia. 

Club Med Bintan Island (Indonesia – a 45min ferry ride from Singapore) came in first for Indonesia, with the ever-popular Bali Resort in the protected Nusa Dua green precinct, ranking 4th for the country.

"Club Med welcomes families and makes them feel at home, and that children are truly treasured. Parents have time to themselves as the children have so many activities to enjoy, and such a huge team of staff to keep a good eye on them, that some parents say it is truly the only holiday "with" the family they have ever experienced. Once they come, they come back – time and time again," Quentin Briard continues.

"Travellers looking to plan their family trips need not look any further with these highly-rated family-friendly properties. They are great vacation and accommodation ideas by those who really matter -- travellers themselves," said Jean Ow-Yeong, a spokesperson for TripAdvisor.

Travellers' Choice Hotels for Families Award Winners:

Top 10 Hotels in Asia

1.             Club Med Sahoro - Karikachi Kogen, Shintoku-cho, Japan
2.             Club Mahindra Kodagu Valley, Madikeri, India
3.             Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, Hong Kong, China
4.             Radhika Beach Resort, Diu, India
5.             Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Vaishno Devi, Katra, Katra, India

Top 10 Hotels in Indonesia

1.             Club Med Bintan Island, Bintan
2.             The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali, Bali
3.             Villa Awang Awang, Bali
4.             Club Med Bali, Bali
5.             Telunas Beach Resort, Pulau Sugi

To learn more about a Club Med holiday please call 1800 258 263 or find all the details at www.clubmed.com.au

Tauck's Small Group Departures

The phrase "less is more" has become a truism of sorts, and it's certainly proving to be accurate for Tauck and the small group departures it offers on selected itineraries. Over the past several years, these special departures, with an average of 20-24 guests, (vs. 38-40 on regular departures of the same Tauck journeys) have been enjoying incredible growth while earning high marks from Tauck customers.

Tauck has been increasing its small group business by adding additional dates to itineraries where it had already featured the small groups option, and by expanding the number of different Tauck trips on which small group departures are offered. For 2012, the company will operate over 230 small group departures spread among 46 different Tauck itineraries worldwide.

"Over the past three years we've dramatically boosted the number of small group departures we've offered, and our guests have responded," said Tauck CEO Dan Mahar. "On average, in each of the past three years we've seen our small group bookings increase by more than 40% over the prior year. Our small group bookings are growing faster than any destination or region, or any other segment of our business."

Tauck is also serving the small group market with its collection of Culturious journeys. Launched in 2009, the Culturious trips feature smaller group sizes on every departure (averaging 16-20 travellers). The Culturious itineraries also provide an immersive, in-depth experience within a focused geographic area (such as Tuscany or Provence), and feature, active, hands-on components ranging from cycling and hiking to cooking classes.

For further information on TAUCK please contact Travel the World on 1300 950 622 or visit www.traveltheworld.com.au

Is Your Family on a Vacation Travel Budget? Bargain Travel Sites Make Cheap Travel a Reality

Did you know there are options for cheap travel beyond the usual low-budget motels and fast food? You can save a bundle on your family vacation and stick to your budget by using the online discount bargain travel sites. Whether you have a sudden desire to visit Disney World in Florida or the casinos in Las Vegas, it's no problem with all of the bargain travel sites that have cropped up these days.

Before I discovered these online travel agents and figured out how to save money on travel, I was almost ready to just have a "staycation" instead and not travel anywhere at all. What with the high price of gas and airlines nickel and diming you to death charging for checked baggage and meals, it almost seems like more effort than it is worth sometimes, doesn't it?

Anyway, there are many online travel agencies to choose from where you will find cheap travel deals. Just to name a few there are Hotwire, Kayak, Cheaptickets, Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline, Travelzoo, Cheapflights, Cheapoair, and Farecast. This is not even taking into consideration several sites that offer deals on last-minute travel.

My two favorite are Hotwire and Kayak, I have found the cheapest travel bargains at these two sites. It can take you a while to go through all the sites checking for the best deals, but that is what I advise you to do. If you really want to save money it's worth it! Be sure to check for round trip prices and also one-way prices at each of the sites. Write them all down and then go with the cheapest.

Most sites also offer package deals where you can get the flight and hotel and even the rental car if you choose. I have gotten a lot of great deals through Travelocity in the past, but Hotwire is sometimes cheaper these days. It's still worth checking all of them though, as they all offer discount prices which vary according to the time of the year/week/day.

P&O Cruises Launches First Dedicated Papua New Guinea Cruises

Pacific Dawn carries in excess of 2000 passengers
P&O Cruises has added exotic Papua New Guinea to its great range of Pacific destinations, with the cruise line announcing new cruises visiting the remote islands and towns of spectacular Milne Bay.

In a first for P&O Cruises, Papua New Guinea will feature in two dedicated itineraries, with Pacific Dawn sailing from Brisbane to the turquoise waters of Milne Bay, where it will visit the local capital Alotau as well as the beautiful white sand beaches of Doini Island and the culturally-rich Trobriand Islands, also known as the Islands of Love, along the northern straits of the Bay.

A highlight of the new 2013-14 program, the Papua New Guinea sailings are priced from $1049* per person quad share for a nine-night cruise, with the maiden cruise to Milne Bay in October 2013 timed to coincide with the sacred Canoe and Kundu Festival where local communities compete in canoe races, costume display and cultural performances.

Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises, said the cruise line was excited to be sailing its first dedicated cruises to Papua New Guinea on a superliner.

"Papua New Guinea is one of the most remote and untouched corners of the world - it's so close to Australia geographically, but a million miles away in terms of culture and scenery," Ms Sherry said.

"We're very excited to be able to take Australian holidaymakers from their doorstep and show them this region from the comfort of a superliner for the first time - cruising really is the perfect way to explore Papua New Guinea's idyllic beaches and scenery and discover its ancient customs and history."

The new 2013-14 program, on sale from April 23, features 73 departures across 22 different itineraries with Pacific Dawn sailing from Brisbane and Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl cruising from Sydney.

Other highlights of the program include more weekend getaways and short breaks ranging from three to six-nights. In all, the program offers 21 cruises of less than a week with itineraries based around lifestyle themes as well as Melbourne Cup and Australia Day cruises.

The short break cruises start from $529* per person quad share for a three-night cruise from Sydney.

Meanwhile the cruise line's trademark Pacific Islands cruises start from $699* per person quad share for a seven-night cruise from Brisbane and $1099* for nine-night itineraries from Sydney.

For more information visit www.pocruises.com.au

Why Travel Sites Are Being Forced to Create Loyal Customer Programs

The best thing to happen since airfare travel sites went online, is the comparison shopping sites which are doing an excellent job of creating a uniform airfare stock market. No longer is it normal for a site to increase the price for a popular flight, without risking the loss of hundreds of sales, because of airfare comparison shopping.

The comparison shopping for airfare prices puts everybody's prices right out there for everyone to see. And in most cases the name of the airline is associated with the price. So more than ever, creating a loyal group of clients is becoming more important to travel sites.

Travelers are receiving everything from loyalty points to discounts and rebates for remaining loyal to a particular online travel company. This procedure has worked very well for the cruise line industry which showers loyal customers with unbelievable discounts on select cruises.

For example, Princess Cruise Lines, provides membership to a "Captain's Circle" club, where you have to a sailed a certain number of times with the cruise company in order to qualify. Members receive perks such as a quarterly magazine, with special pricing to special check-in privileges when boarding ship.

Usually when we cruise, we depart from San Francisco. The line to board ship extends out pass the terminal onto the sidewalk and this is when you arrive early. Becoming a member of the elite group and getting to pass up everyone in the line and go straight to the front of the line, is a benefit which was too good for me to pass up. It took me several years, but we finally reached the number of cruises which allow us to pass up everyone in the line. I can't explain what a great benefit it is to walk pass everyone, a thousand plus people, all standing in a very long line, watching and wondering, "Where are they going?"

It's the little things which, makes a customer loyal, and the travel sites have been forced into playing the loyalty game. In the pass, pretty much all they had to do was publish the web site and wait, while travelers flocked to the site and booked their travel.

Yes, online comparison shopping, for airfares, has made travel sites re-think how they are going to approach the Internet client. Free enterprise is great. Now if we can just get a couple of these large airfare comparison sites to offer affiliate programs! Oh well, I guess we can't have everything.

Find Your Travel Destination on Travel Sites

This is an exciting period for people to travel an as there are now very few inaccessible places on this planet. Fortunately, there isn't a corner of the earth that doesn't have a travel site dedicated to it so it is easy obtaining information on the internet. It is now true that increasing numbers of people carry out all their travel arrangements using internet web sites. The main problem is the convenience of it all and the huge savings that can be found using the internet.

I know it is the norm now but I am not comfortable planning my once a year vacation like this. However, I am still of the old school and prefer to sit down with a cup of coffee and plan my vacation with a professional, face to face. A travel agent will also fully expect changes to be made during the booking process and can be more flexible in their approach including when there are problems. Travel sites on the other hand tend to just be computerized and it is rare that you actually get to speak to a person and then if you do get to speak to a real person, you have no clue where they are.

They may say something just to appease you and it will not hold true in the end. There are too many factors that can go wrong and that's why I love having a travel agent because although I may spend a bit more than if purchasing from a website, the peace of mind is priceless. I have a good friend who would never use a travel agent as she books all her last minute vacations using travel sites because she can save a packet of money. She is good at this and saves hundreds of dollars of the proper price and has always had a good vacation.

I wish I could do this but my work just wouldn't allow me to suddenly take time of as they normally need a couple of months notice. Using a travel site does have other advantages as well because while you can save money on the vacation itself, there are also savings to be made on additional excursions and trips as well if pre-booked. Knowing a little about what you want and information about the location you want to travel too can be useful so I still research as much of this as I can online before I pay my travel agent a visit. It may not be fair on my travel agent but at least I know if something goes wrong, I will have someone to complain to on my return.

More Australians Holiday in Macau

Macau has become a hot holiday destination for Australians with a forecast that this trend will continue throughout 2012.

In the first three months of this year, the number of Australians visiting the popular Asian centre has increased by more than 15 per cent compared with the same period in 2011.

In March alone, the number of Australian guests grew from 8343 in 2011 to 9994 this year, a startling rise of almost 20 per cent.

So far in 2012, 31,731 Australians have taken a holiday in Macau compared with 27,537 during the same period last year.

In 2011, almost 112,000 made the trip to the former Portuguese enclave.

"Judging by these early figures we should eclipse that mark in 2012," said a jubilant Helen Wong, general manager of the Macau Government Tourist Office in Australia and New Zealand.

"New attractions, new world class entertainment, new shopping centres, new exciting activities and additional good quality international hotels are all playing key roles in attracting Australians," she said.

"Couple these features with a solid marketing plan in Australia and a healthy Australian dollar and we can look forward to even better times ahead.

"There's little doubt such promotions as last year's Macau Festival in Sydney's Darling Harbour helped to not only bring awareness of Macau to Australians but to also highlight its many star attractions such as the UNESCO World Heritage sites as well as the new additions."

Among the new attractions for 2012 is the recently-opened US$4.4-billion Sands Cotai Central's (first phase), which included the 636-room Conrad hotel as well as the 1224-room Holiday Inn, each hotel the world's largest in the brands.

Overall, a record 28 million visited Macau from around the world in 2011.

In the first three months, an extra 7.95 per cent visited compared with the same months last year.

Details: Macau Government Tourist Office, www.macautourism.gov.mo

Travel Agents are the first to experience Compagnie Du Ponant's luxury mega yacht L'Austral on Australian Waters

Compagnie du Ponant's mega yacht, L'Austral, visited Australian waters for the first time with Travel the World offering more than 20 agents the chance to sail onboard. Travel the World conducted numerous ship inspections in Northern Queensland and Darwin whilst hosting client lunches onboard in conjunction with Louis Vuitton, Paspaley and Callaway Golf. The overwhelming feedback from those lucky enough to have experienced the ship was that the French have brought a new sophistication and elegance to cruising. Compagnie du Ponant will be launching a third sister ship next year and are planning to bring the ship to Australian waters in 2013.

Feedback from leading Australian Travel Agents on their experiences onboard:

"Ponant's latest mega-yacht, L'Austral, sets an exceptionally high standard in both luxury and eco-friendliness, combining sleek lines with ultra-chic décor. This is 5-star expedition cruising. It feels like you are on your own private yacht." Phil Hoffmann, Managing Director, Phil Hoffmann Travel.

"Every now and again cruising throws up a very pleasant surprise. Ponant's L'Austral did just that. Just embarking the sleek mega yacht makes you feel special and when you get onboard the experience continues with great food in the restaurants and great service from the staff. Anyone looking for a smaller ship experience with the added bonus of Zodiac excursions would be delighted with what L'Austral has to offer. And she sails like a dream!" Carol and Alan Smethurst, Bicton Travel

For further information on Compagnie Du Ponant please contact Travel the World on 1300 950 622 or visit www.traveltheworld.com.au

Royal Caribbean Announces Liberty Of The Seas, Navigator Of The Seas And Serenade Of The Seas To Sail European Waters In 2013

Royal Caribbean International has announced that Liberty of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas will join Independence of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas in 2013, to offer the culture, history, delectable food and hard-to-resist retail opportunities that Europe has to offer. This latest deployment opening offers 121 sailings on 25 itineraries, calling at 30 beautiful ports. Royal Caribbean's 2013 Europe cruise offerings already feature five of the world's largest and most innovative cruise ships, sailing to the must-see destinations that make an exciting and enriching Europe holiday. Royal Caribbean's 2013 Europe cruises and Cruisetours are open for booking, with additional deployments in the region to be announced later in the month.

"Royal Caribbean is the perfect choice for couples and families to experience and share all the wonders, flavours and colours of Europe," said Betsy O'Rourke, senior vice president of Marketing for Royal Caribbean International. "Coupled with our renowned friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service from every member of staff and crew, these ships offer holiday makers features and facilities that other operators do not, such as the DreamWorks Experience aboard Liberty of the Seas, a real ice-skating rink featuring breathtaking shows aboard Navigator of the Seas, and even self-levelling pool tables aboard Serenade of the Seas. In fact, Royal Caribbean will be the only cruise line in Europe to feature Madagascar 3 in 3-D aboard Liberty of the Seas, making it the perfect option for families."

Sailing roundtrips from her homeport of Barcelona from April to October 2013, Liberty of the Seas will offer:

A series of five-night, Western Mediterranean cruises with calls in France and Italy.
Seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries, departing every Sunday, which call at exciting ports on the French and Italian rivieras, including Provence (Toulon) and Nice (Villefranche), France; and Italy's Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), and Naples.
Guests can also choose to embark on a seven-night cruise aboard Liberty of the Seas at Provence (Toulon) or Naples. Called interporting, the option offers cruisers the flexibility of boarding at a secondary embarkation port.

Navigator of the Seas will sail seven-night roundtrip itineraries from Rome. Ports of call include:

Sicily (Messina), Italy; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; and Athens (Pireus) and Chania (Souda), Crete, in Greece.
Guests can also choose to embark their seven-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise roundtrip from Sicily.
Sailing roundtrips from Barcelona, Serenade of the Seas' 2013 European itineraries include:

12-night Mediterranean Greek Isle cruises featuring calls in Cannes, France; Italian cities of Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), and Naples (Salerno); Greek ports of Athens (Piraeus) and Santorini; and Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey.
 12-night Mediterranean Venice itineraries featuring an overnight call in Venice, as well as calls in Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples, and Ravenna, Italy, and a call at Cannes, France, or Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Lead fares and itineraries for the 2013 European season are as followed:

Navigator of the Seas – Prices for a 7-nights Eastern Mediterranean cruise sailing on 8 September 2013 start from $865 per person, with calls at Sicily (Messina), Italy; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; and Athens (Pireus) and Chania (Souda), Crete, in Greece.

Liberty of the Seas – A 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise sailing on 22 September 2013, starts from $1035 per person, which call at exciting ports on the French and Italian rivieras.

Serenade of the Seas – Fares for a 12-night Mediterranean Venice cruise sailing on 22 October 2013 start from $1315 per person, including an overnight call in Venice.

Prices are per person in Australian dollars based on twin occupancy and include taxes, fees (which are subject to change) and onboard gratuities.  

As the only ship in Europe to offer the DreamWorks Experience, as well as featuring the first-run Madagascar 3 in 3-D, Liberty of the Seas will also delight guests with onboard entertainment featuring the lovable and irreverent characters from DreamWorks Animation's popular films. Shrek and Fiona, Alex the lion, Po the Dragon Warrior and many more characters join in daily to greet guests, offer photo opportunities and lead themed-activities with kids and the young-at-heart. Guests can also catch a DreamWorks Animation's films in 3-D thanks to Liberty of the Seas' onboard 3-D cinema.

Royal Caribbean International also offers a range of Cruisetour options so guests can      experience the not-to-be-missed destinations that lie inland in Spain and Italy. Royal Caribbean Cruisetours combine a cruise aboard one of their innovative ships with a land tour itinerary. Royal Caribbean Cruisetours are escorted by regional Adventure Specialists who take guests to the best attractions to see and the right places to eat so they can get the most of their Europe holiday. Guests stay in premium hotels and enjoy a stress-free experience where Royal Caribbean makes all the arrangements including transportation, activities and select meals. Guests can choose a five-night Venice, Florence & Rome Cruisetour, which features tours of the must-see attractions in the three cities followed by a sailing aboard Navigator of the Seas, or a four-night Madrid & Barcelona Cruisetour, which is coupled with a sailing aboard Serenade of the Seas.

For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, call 1800 754 500 or visit www.royalcaribbean.com.au. Travel professionals Travel can call 1300 754 500 or visit www.cruisingpower.com.

‘Mobile Travel Agents Big Wave Rider' wins 2012 Australian Three Peaks Endurance

The MTA – Mobile Travel Agents' sponsored 'Mobile Travel Agents Big Wave Rider' has taken out line honours in the 2012 H&R Block Three Peaks Endurance Race held in Tasmania over the Easter weekend.

MTA's brand ambassador Jessica Watson was actually at the helm as the 46' catamaran, skippered by fellow Australian sailing legend Bruce Arms, crossed the finish line in Hobart on Easter Monday, four days after leaving the start point in Launceston on Good Friday.

MTA Managing Directors, Roy Merricks was also directly involved in the event - albeit on a dry land basis - with organisers inviting him to fire the 10-minute gun at Inspection Head Wharf in Launceston which traditionally marks the official count-down to the start of the race.

Mr Merricks said he was immensely proud to see 'Mobile Travel Agents Big Wave Rider' cross the finish line with Jessica at the helm.

"But it was a very close run thing," Mr Merricks said. 

"Coming into the final stages of the race, when 'Mobile Travel Agents Big Wave Rider' failed to negotiate the Denison Canal before the compulsory closure at midnight on Sunday night, it looked like they had thrown their lead and the chance for victory.

"Strong winds funnelling through the canal combined with an outgoing tidal flow prevented the crew from rowing through into Norfolk Bay but after taking the opportunity for a sleep, they got underway just before 4am when the canal bridge re-opened – and that's when disaster nearly struck.

"The yacht had only managed to travel a few hundred metres before going up on a bank which forced skipper Bruce Arms and crewman Lachlan Pryor to jump into the water with ropes to drag the 46' catamaran clear of the shallows while Jessica steered."

Mr Merricks said the crew's action in manhandling 'Mobile Travel Agents Big Wave Rider' off the bank proved the decisive move for victory.

"Spurred on by 27 knot winds, 'Mobile Travel Agents Big Wave Rider' rounded the Iron Pot into the Derwent River, powering to the finish line an hour ahead of its nearest rival – a fantastic moment for all involved," he said.

Mr Merricks said that MTA's and Jessica's involvement in the 2012 H&R Block Australian Three Peaks Endurance Race was just one of several exciting projects the company has planned with her across the year.

Sponsored this year by H&R Block, the annual Three Peaks Race is a non-stop offshore sailing and endurance mountain running event, commencing at Beauty Point just north of Launceston on the Tamar River and finishing in Hobart on the Derwent River.

En route, the running members of each team have to scale Mount Strzelecki, Mount Freycinet and Mount Wellington.

The 2012 event has been described as one of the toughest in the history of the event with competitors forced to take shelter from rough seas and strong winds on several occasions.

Pictured enjoying a champagne moment after winning the 2012 H&R Block Three Peaks Endurance Race (back row from left to right) Bruce Arms, crew member Suzanne Arms, Jessica Watson, Karen Merricks, Roy Merricks. Front: One of the two runners Andrew Kromar. Out of shot: Lachlan Pryor (sailor), John Kent (runner).

Travel Sites Boost Bookings With Multi-Currency Display

The fierce competition amongst travel web sites is forcing this rapidly growing online market to find new ways to gain a competitive edge.

The newest tactic adopted by travel sites to boost their online booking conversion rates is multi-currency displays.

Multi currency display systems allow travel sites to show all of their travel package prices in the web site visitor's currency.

This allows visitors to instantly see product prices in a way that is meaningful to them - in their currency language. It's instantaneous, easy to use and meets visitors' needs at the exact time they need it.

Travel sites around the world from South America to Australia and everywhere in between are experiencing increased conversion rates for online bookings as a result of adopting these multi-currency display systems.

The need for these systems has been driven by the increasing demands and expectations of net-savvy travelers.

The needs of travelers are perhaps more demanding than for any other online industry.

Travelers are often experienced net-users and critically time poor. Couple that with the countless number of travelers who use travel sites whilst in transit and you can add travel weary and perhaps 'a little less tolerant than usual' to this demographic's description.

These travelers' characteristics make it even more crucial to convey meaningful pricing information quickly and efficiently.

Travelers today want information that is personalised to them and they want it fast.

That is where the previous attempts at displaying prices have been proven to fail.

Travel sites quickly learned that displaying prices solely in US dollars or only in the business' local currency simply wasn't enough.

Everyday more and more travel sites are discovering that the pop-up currency converters of the 90s are also failing as the net-savvy online travelers market is no longer satisfied with that outdated attempt.

Did you know that pop-up converters require visitors to perform 5 to 6 steps every time they want to know the price of just one travel package?

5 or 6 steps sounds like a lot doesn't it? But here it is: Using pop-ups first requires the pop-up link to be located on the site, then clicked on. Then a 3rd party web site opens up (Oh yeh, with third party advertising on it!). Then the visitor needs to select their base currency; select their local currency; type in the amount and then finally click convert.

Sounds cumbersome doesn't it?

You may think it's a bit overstated to say that the pop-up converter causes lost sales.

Though consider it this way.

How many prices do you think a hungry, weary, jet lagged traveler is going to convert before getting frustrated?

In today's world, forcing travelers through a 5 to 6 click process to convert just one price will not only frustrate them but ultimately cause lost sales.

How much of their time do you think they will waste calculating prices on a web site before thinking. "forget it, it's all too hard, I'll go to that next travel site that's listed in Google instead"

Oops, there goes another lost booking, all because of the pop-up!

When travelers don't find the information they need quickly, in the way they want to see it; these time poor and travel weary warriors will simply pop-out to the next competitor's site that does meet their needs by speaking in the customer's currency language.

In one of the most competitive online markets with such extremely low profit margins, imagine what a difference those extra bookings would make to a travel sites bottom line!

Armed with this powerful insight all travel sites should be looking for a better, more efficient way to show multiple currencies on their site. A way that is completely seamless and gives visitors the exact information that they need when they need it.

Taking just minutes to install with only one line of code needed, travel sites around the world are gaining a competitive edge to win more online bookings by adopting multi-currency display systems.


There are makeovers and then, there are Makeovers.  As she gracefully sailed out of Singapore's Sembawang shipyard, Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas showed off the results of her four-week long drydock.   In the largest project of its kind to take place in Singapore – and one of the biggest ever makeovers for an Australian cruise ship – US$54 million dollars worth of spectacular features were added in a complete revamp of the entire ship.


At a champagne ceremony held in the ship's new-look atrium Captain Rick Sullivan invited one of the ship's most frequent guests, Alan Worrall, to cut a ribbon to mark the rebirth of Rhapsody of the Seas.  Mr Worrall is the ship's biggest Australian fan with almost 50 cruises taken on her to date.


According to Gavin Smith, managing director of RCL Cruises Australia, Rhapsody of the Seas' revitalisation is further proof of Royal Caribbean's commitment to the growing Australia cruise market, with the total investment of revitalising Australia-based Rhapsody of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas amounting to over US$75 million in the last two years.


"With Rhapsody of the Seas we thought about all the innovative ways we can give Australians the best and most memorable holiday at sea. Now guests can enjoy a different dining option for every day of the week, they can be entertained under the stars in the open-air cinema or in the heart of the ship, when the atrium comes alive as a vertical theatre with breathtaking aerial shows, or they can choose to simply relax in any of the chic new lounges and bars. We're also introducing some 'firsts' to Australian waters, such as iPads in every stateroom and a Starbucks coffee shop.


"With this complete bow-to-stern makeover, guests will be sailing on a virtually new ship. I strongly encourage Australians, including some of her 175,000 past guests, to revisit one of Australia's favourite ships," said Mr Smith.


The revitalisation incorporates popular elements from Royal Caribbean's newest ships –the world's largest superliners Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the SeasRhapsody of the Seas is only the third ship to undergo a refurbishment since Royal Caribbean's fleet-wide 'revitalisation' program was announced last year and follows in the footsteps of her fellow Sydney-based sister ship Radiance of the Seas, which was fully revitalised in May 2011 in advance of her maiden Australian season. Both revitalised ships will return to Sydney in October this year and will also be joined by Voyager of the Seas – the largest megaliner ever based Down Under – with an unprecedented three Royal Caribbean ships offering a series of one to 18-night cruises around Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.


For a sneak peak of Rhapsody of the Seas' transformation, take a look at this short video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTQy3xumLvU


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