Miami Herald: Faith-based Tours are Gaining Popularity

The Miami Herald just published a big story on faith-based travel.  Here's info about the article and how to access it:

Published by The Miami Herald

Written by Jay Clarke

Here's the opening two paragraphs of the article:

In troubled times, many people turn to their faith, which may explain why faith-based travel has been gaining momentum in recent years.
More operators are entering the marketplace, and more participants are taking journeys to sites with religious significance.

It's crunch time! NSW tourism operators only have a few days left to make their entry count

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The 2012 NSW Tourism Awards is nearing its submission cut off date - 7 September 2012 and organisers say it isn't too late to enter.  

Andrew Jefferies, General Manager of the Tourism Industry Council of NSW, has been happy with the level of submissions received so far, but knows that many leave it until the eleventh hour to complete their submission.

"Our main focus for 2012 has been to promote the benefits and value of participating in the Awards program. We've worked extremely hard to recognise and celebrate the efforts of our state's tourism operators - who continually boost our reputation across the country and the world.  

"I strongly encourage all tourism businesses across the state's wider tourism industry, who haven't already done so, to enter the highly valuable Awards program and build upon the success of 2011," said Mr Jefferies.  

The process of entering involves operators answering questions about their businesses and feedback received about the process have been very positive; with many entrants expressing how critical it is for the growth and success of their business.

2012 NSW Tourism Award finalists and winners will gain even more from their participation this year as their successes will become part of the 2013 Tourism in Focus campaign, where exceptional tourism products will be featured extensively in promotions and media.

Applications to enter the 2012 NSW Tourism Awards close COB 7 September 2012. All tourism businesses based in NSW are eligible to enter.

For more information, visit:

Tourism Industry Council of NSW:

Tourism Awards Facebook page:  

Tourism Awards Twitter feed:

The Awards have 31 categories across the industry spectrum - attractions, festivals and events, ecotourism, tour and transport operators, marketing and accommodation and outstanding contribution from individuals. To enter:

Entries to the NSW Tourism Awards close on Friday 7th September 2012.

Finalists will be announced on Tuesday 9th October 2012.

The NSW Tourism Awards Ceremony and Dinner will be held on Thursday 22nd November 2012 at Le Montage, Sydney.

Benefits of entering the Awards:  

  • The NSW Tourism Awards offer entrants recognition for outstanding achievements, an increased profile and valuable networking opportunities.  
  • Winning awards highlight that you are a professional, trusted and benchmarked provider which will help your business stand out in the marketplace.
  • Now in its 23rd year, this Awards program is the most widely recognised Tourism Awards program in the country and is backed by TICNSW and Destination NSW.
  • Entrants will benefit from increased brand awareness and the ability to generate marketing opportunities which will lead to increased sales and revenue.
  • Entrants will gain exposure to influential and valuable networks, opening up new business opportunities.
  • Entrants will have the opportunity to benchmark their business against that of peers and competitors.
  • The questions and criteria have been specifically designed to help entrants develop annual business plans.
  • Entry in the Awards provides an accurate record and overview for your business.
  • All entries will receive a site visit by a Judge and receive feedback after the Awards.
  • Winners will be identified as outstanding tourism businesses in their particular category and gain recognition in front of the industry at the Awards Ceremony and Dinner, which are publicised state-wide.
  • Winners are featured in a special NSW Tourism Awards feature by the Sun Herald and profiled in an edition of Channel 7′s Sydney Weekender.
  • Winners and Finalists can include the NSW Tourism Awards logo on all media and marketing materials.
  • Finally, winners will become automatic finalists in the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards and gain recognition for excellence in the industry on a national stage.

Webinar Invitation to Québec’s National Shrines (hosted by Destination Québec)

Are you involved in the travel industry? Are you involved in the product development and/or sales of tours?  Or are you involved in developing or expanding your faith-based travel portfolio?

If so, here's a webinar you'll definitely want to sign up for:

The Province of Quebec prides itself on the richness of four great National Shrines: Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré, Our Lady of the Cape Shrine, Saint Joseph's Oratory and The Shrine of Saint-Anthony's Hermitage. Together, they receive a total of 3,000,000 visitors annually, a number that shows the success of their intended purposes. They speak greatly of the faith of the people from Québec and the rich artistic creativity of the craftsmen who have built these great churches surrounded by beautiful gardens. A visit to these national shrines is truly a spiritual and also an historical experience.

Webinar Sign-up Info
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 2:00pm EST (14 h 00)

To register for the webinar visit

To know more about Quebec's webinars visit 

Major Article by Travel Weekly on Family Travel (by Michelle Baran)

A big story was published just this week on Family Travel by Michelle Baran of Travel Weekly.  I find it to be one of the most indepth and best stories published this year in the travel trade on the topic.  Below you'll find the link to the story. It is a MUST read for anyone involved, interested or affiliated with family travel. Enjoy! - Blogger Kevin

Travel Weekly - Logo

Family affair
By Michelle Baran

Read full story at

U.S. Travel Outlook - Current Industry Trends - Summer 2012

To get an inside look and glimpse at the current status of the travel industry, you can view the July 2012 issue of "U.S. Travel Oulook."

This publication is produced by the U.S. Travel Association with research and trends from Suzanne Cook.

To view the current issue, click here

To view other current news, resources and publications of the U.S. Travel Association, click here:


United Airlines' first 787 Dreamliner has completed its first production flight as Boeing makes final preparations for delivering it to United at the end of September. The aircraft took off from Boeing's Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on Sunday. Boeing pilots flew the 787 around the Seattle area for more than three hours as part of planned tests of the aircraft's controls and systems.

During the flight, crew members examined the 787's onboard systems at high and medium altitudes. They also checked backup and safety elements, including cabin pressurization, avionics, navigation and communications systems.

Sunday's flight was part of a series of work that Boeing performs after each 787 comes out of its paint hangar and before airlines take delivery of the planes. The work also includes fueling, systems tests, engine runs and taxi tests.

Student Youth Travel Association and Conference (SYTA)

I just returned from attending the Annual Conference of SYTA - Student Youth Travel Association. The event was held in Nashville (TN) from Aug 24-28.

The conference was outstanding and my congratulations go out to the entire SYTA staff and officers.

Who and what is SYTA? SYTA is a non-profit, professional trade association that promotes student & youth travel and seeks to foster integrity and professionalism among student and youth travel service providers.

If you're involved in student travel, be sure to get to know SYTA.

To learn more about SYTA or contact them, here is some helpful information and links:
+ Official website
+ About SYTA
+ Annual conference

To contact SYTA directly, click here:

New York Tours with Useful Information for Every Tourist

The city that never sleeps provides a world of exciting leads to everyone existing. The most comprehensive way of experiencing all that the city has to offer would be to go along on any one of the fantastic amount of tour services that are provided by various companies in the city. New York Tours can be an institution unto themselves wherein a vast amount of culture and experience is offered to customers. There is no possible end to the different types of tours that are available. You can select with regards to place, function of journey and even cost variety.

It is virtually impossible to chart out a standard route for these tours. Not every tour will show you everything in the New York area, but as dull as that sounds, every tour shows something novel. Some of the most famous of the New York Shuttle tours are the Statue of Liberty tour, the tour of Wall Street and the Empire State building tour. However, these don't cover all the things that New York City has to offer. A vast amount of local, borough specific tours are also available to take customers through the intricacies and histories of the local areas. All the local traditions, the people and their customs and all such other fascinating aspects are covered in these tours. There are also a host of dinner and lunch cruise tours that take guests to the most historic places in New York Bay.

Culturally and historically significant places such as Rockefeller Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, Central Park and many more all have a special tour. The New York tours give you a view into the pulse of the city and its historical roots. Some of the most unusual tours however, are the movie and TV tours, which take customers to all the sites of a pre-decided TV show or movie. Guests are given a chance to click pictures and stand in some of the most famous-on-celluloid places in New York City.

The cost per person of these tours varies with each tour and its type of coverage. The guided tour which covers all the most important landmarks in the city including the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Guests are advised to take caution, as fares are liable to change and also read the tour guide carefully so that exact details of the tour are known. Many of the tours offer guests the chance to taste the local cuisine but only at the guests own expense, whereas a few may provide guests with meals. One fantastic tour option is the tour on top of Rockefeller Center.

Faith Travel Evolves Into Diverse and Profitable Niche (by Ruth A. Hill)

Here is an excellent article published this week from Travel Market Report on the faith-based travel market by writer Ruth A. Hill.

Read full article at

Faith Travel Evolves Into Diverse and Profitable Niche

Some say Moses was the first faith tour leader. He led the Israelites out of Egypt into the Promised Land.

Worldwide religious, faith, or faith-based travel has been around for millennia, yet it’s growing and diversifying as never before. The good news for travel agents is that the niche represents hot business potential for those who take the steps to understand and serve it.

Tourism statistics on faith travel indicate that travel professionals who use creativity and expertise in responding to clients’ interests find unlimited business potential.

The UN World Tourism Organization estimates that 300 million to 330 million people a year participate in faith-based travel. The U.S. Travel Association reports that 25% of all travelers are interested in a spiritual vacation.

Read the rest of Ruth's article at

Current News Stories with Topic of "Growth Markets" Featured

Here are several travel industry stories circulating in the news with the actual topic of "Growth Markets" featured in the articles.

ASEAN Spells Out Its Tourism Priorities Ahead of 2015
The countries of ASEAN are now implementing a clear road map to achieve the tourism objectives of the ASEAN Economic Community, due 2015. There will be a new ‘ASEAN for ASEAN’ campaign and special promotions, along with enhanced strategic cooperation with the growth markets of China, Korea, Japan, India and Australia.

Tourism From Emerging Markets Exceeds Rapidly
Tourism from the large growth markets, in particular China, is increasing significantly.

Africa Travel Association and Cameroon Partner to Increase Tourism to West and Central Africa
The ATA congress offers a line-up of educational and professional development seminars for travel professionals. Topics include social media, branding and marketing, attracting media coverage, product development, growth markets, cultural tourism, culinary tourism, airline access, and the latest travel trends in Africa.

ASEAN looks at redefining its tourism including with niche markets

The following article is by Luc Citrinot. Click here to see article from Travel Daily News:

ASEAN (Association of South East Asian nations) is launching a new campaign to build up world awareness about the economic grouping.

BANGKOK– ASEAN countries are now implementing a clear road map to achieve tourism objectives of the ASEAN Economic Community, due by 2015. There will be a new 'ASEAN for ASEAN' campaign and special promotions, along with enhanced strategic cooperation with the growth markets of China, Korea, Japan, India and Australia.

ASEAN Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan and ASEAN Tourism Ministers have endorsed the plan, which includes a swathe of initiatives such as the creation of a new website and digital promotional campaigns targeting the mass markets of China and India. ASEAN will also go for niche markets such as experiential, creative, adventure, business, senior, and long stay visitors. Further, there will be special promotions for the cruise market.

"Our strategy is designed to help build global recognition of Southeast Asia as a competitive, world-class tourism destination," said Dr Surin. "Our focus is on drawing visitors to the region and encouraging them to visit more than one country. As each has its own unique attractions, we will capitalize on the sophisticated marketing capacity and resources of our individual national tourism organizations to spread the word."

The ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan2011-2015 is the foundation of the ASEAN Tourism Marketing Strategy (ATMS)2012-2015, adopted by ASEAN Tourism Ministers in January 2012. It is the plan with which ASEAN national tourism organisations (NTOs) seek to achieve the objectives of 2015 and maintain double digit tourism growth, an ASEAN hallmark for much of the last 14 years.

ASEAN destinations attracted 81.2 million visitors in 2011, an average increase of a million visitors each year for the last two decades. Three out of four visitors to ASEAN come from Asia;46.5% from within ASEAN and 27.6% from other Asian markets. According to ASEAN NTOs, Europe is the next largest group of visitors to ASEAN at12.2%, followed by Oceania (including Australia and New Zealand) at 5.3%,and the Americas at 4.4%.

Niche and mass market promotions will go hand in hand. ASEAN Tourism Marketing Working Group Chairperson, Mr Sansern Ngaorungsi, who is also Deputy Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said: "While ASEAN's niche, tactical campaigns will target sectors such as adventure, experiential, business and long stay, and show the diversity of ASEAN, mass tourism demand for mainstream attractions is expected to keep growing and bring important economic benefits to ASEAN destinations."

One niche sector, cruise is being favoured by ASEAN because river and sea cruise ships usually visit more, than one destination. To promote cruise ship activity in ASEAN, Singapore is organizing the "Cruise Shipping Asia Pacific 2012" forum on 17 September in Singapore.

Southeast Asia NTOs will also be emphasizing the grouping's marketing plan at the ASEAN Tourism Forum which will take place in Vientiane, Laos 17-24 January 2013. Over 1,600 delegates will include some 150 ASEAN tourism ministers and officials, 800 ASEAN exhibitors, 400 international buyers, 150 international and local media and 100 tourism trade visitors.

(News) Pioneers in Student Travel Industry Join Forces to Enhance Educational Programs

Read full story at

Junior Tours And Manhattan Tour & Travel Announce Merger

Pioneers in the Student Travel Industry Join Forces to Enhance Educational Programs

NEW YORK, Aug. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Manhattan Tour & Travel, a tour company with strong connections to the New York City theatre community since 1990, announced that it has merged with Junior Tours, a tour company specializing in overnight educational tours since 1967. This union will create exciting new opportunities for group travelers.

"This merger will have an extraordinary impact on our current and future customers. They will benefit from better pricing and from greater organizational resources. Perhaps most importantly, the combined expertise of the two companies will enhance the options available to group leaders as we expand our tour programs," said Rich Abrams, President of Junior Tours.

Founded by Martin Abrams, a former social studies teacher in Brooklyn, NY, Junior Tours has remained true to its roots and still operates as a family business today. Meticulous planning and personalized service have always been the hallmarks of the company. In all, Junior Tours has worked with group leaders in all 50 states plus Canada and has hosted more than 500,000 students. Junior Tours is an active member of the Student Youth Travel Association, National Tour Association, American Bus Association as well sponsors of the Future Business Leaders of America, Texas Educational Theatre Association and DECA.

Founded by Sanford Levitt, an accomplished actor and member of the Educational Theatre Association's Hall of Fame, Manhattan Tour & Travel specializes in theatre tours to New York City. Manhattan Tour & Travel plans tour packages featuring advanced theatre workshops, private seminars with Broadway actors and backstage theater tours. Manhattan Tour & Travel is an active member and supporter of the American Association of Community Theatre.

Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, groups will have the opportunity to participate in exciting new workshops including "Showstopper!- A Working Musical Theater Party", "Winning Auditions – Get That Role", "Broadway Musicals and the Joy Of Singing In Them" and "Okay, I'm Singing But What Do I Do With My Hands?"

The executives and management of each Company will stay onboard.

For more information about Junior Tours, go to
For more information about Manhattan Tour & Travel, go to
Media Contact:
Richard Abrams Junior Tours, 800-631-2241 
News distributed by PR Newswire iReach:

Quebec Shrines FAM Tour for Travel Agents/Tour Operators

If you are a veteran travel agent or a tour operator - and are looking to expand your faith based portfolio of tours in North America, you may want to apply for the upcoming FAM Tour for the faith-based destination in the province of Québec (CANADA).

For more information, contact Genoveffa Fiorin of Quebec's National Shrines.

Here's helpful info:

1) To connect with Genoveffa Fiorin on, here is her profile:

2) Here is the official website for the Quebec Shrines:

2nd Annual Faith-based Tourism Leaders Forum (Jan 2013)

One of the Growth Markets we often cite in this blog is the faith-based travel and hospitality marketplace.

This January NTA will be hosting the 2nd Annual Faith-based Tourism Leaders Forum at Travel Exchange. Currently more than 120 companies have RSVP'd for the event. To learn more about the Forum and how to register, see below.


2nd Annual Faith-based Tourism Leaders Forum
Sunday, Jan. 20 (2013), 4:15–5:45 p.m.

The Faith-based Tourism Leaders Forum is an R.S.V.P. gathering of professionals, executives, organizations and thought-leaders involved in faith-based travel and hospitality. Serving as the only industry event of its kind, the inaugural forum (Dec. 2011) garnered the participation of 60-plus companies and tourism leaders. The event also gained extensive trade media coverage. Any NTA member and Convention delegate is invited to attend – however, R.S.V.P’s must be requested and granted in advance.  Conducted in a dynamic, interactive and networking atmosphere, the forum provides a firsthand opportunity to:

· Connect industry colleagues involved in faith-based tourism.
· Create new business relationships and partnerships.
· Discuss entrepreneurial ideas and innovative approaches to the marketplace.
· Exchange market-specific strategies, insights, trends and opportunities.
· Enrich NTA’s coalition and collaboration of faith tourism leaders, members and delegates.
· Shape and advance an industry vision of the marketplace.

 To attend and RSVP for the above Forum, you must first register for Travel Exchange. Here is information on registering for Travel Exchange:

For more info about Travel Exchange itself, click here:

To view schedule featuring the Faith-based Tourism Leaders Forum on Jan. 20:

Great Tourism Movie to Watch this Weekend: My Life in Ruins

Looking for a good tourism movie to watch this upcoming weekend?

Check out the movie "My Life in Ruins" - it's a wonderful comedy about a tour director and her tour group traveling in Greece.

Here's the official movie website

You can also view the movie trailer at above website or click here:

My Life in Ruins Poster

List of Growth Markets in Tourism

As this blog is dedicated to the topic of "Growth Markets in Tourism" - let's take a minute to identify some of them.

But first, what do we mean by "Growth Markets"? The term is pretty versatile, as it can refer to any or all of the following:
* Market growing in number of travelers.
* Market growing in revenues generated.
* Market growing in number of tour operators, travel agents, tourist offices and suppliers entering or expanding their presence within it.

The following are just some of the growth markets in today's world of tourism - all of which we cover in this blog plus many more:

+ Adventure travel
+ Agritourism
+ Culinary travel
+ Cultural travel
+ Ecotourism
+ Faith-based travel
+ Family travel
+ River cruising
+ Sports tourism
+ Voluntourism

This Week's Tourism Stories: Culinary, Family, Faith-based, Sports and Ecotourism

Market Focus: Ecotourism, Culinary, Family, Faith-based and Sports Tourism 

FocusMarket Focus connects you to articles about NTA members in specific industry segments, and with each article is a link to the member to contact for more information.

Florida's Emerald Coast Ripe for Ecotourism
NTA member to contact: Emerald Coast CVB

Culinary Tourism
Vermont Tourism Showcases Food and Farm Experiences
NTA member to contact: Vermont Tourism Network

Family Travel
Tweens Define Another Segment of Family Travel
NTA tour operators RSVP for Family Travel & Adventure Tourism Leaders Forum at Travel Exchange

Faith-based Travel
A Century of Strength: Branson Still Rooted in Faith
NTA member to contact: Branson Tourism Center, Branson/Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Sports Tourism
Wilmington (N.C.) Officials Attempt to Beef Up Sports Tourism
NTA member to contact: Wilmington and Beaches CVB 

(Euromonitor) Travel and Tourism Market Research Reports

A resource to consider purchasing/acquiring for discovering what the growth markets are in various countries around the world are the Euromonitor market research reports.

Here is additional information about these reports:


Summary description:
Market research for the travel and tourism industry
Euromonitor has the world’s most comprehensive research on the travel and tourism industry. We monitor and analyse industry trends in travel and tourism globally, including in-depth data on market share and market size – from the “big picture” down to specific category levels.


Scenic Tours, the leading operator of all-inclusive and fully escorted luxury tours in Africa, has launched their Africa programme for 2013.

Africa boasts vast expanses, incredible wildlife and unique cultures. With Scenic Tours, guests will witness wildebeest migrate across the Masai Mara and go on safari to spot the 'Big Five' in Kruger National Park. They will witness flamingos on Lake Nakuru, experience sunrise over Mount Kilimanjaro and discover Victoria Falls.

Itineraries travel to South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania, and new for 2013 is extended touring to Botswana where guests will meet the Maasai and dine under the stars at an ethnic boma dinner. Also new for 2013 are some exceptional hotels and lodges including the renowned Simola Golf and Country Estate in Knysna. And some additional Scenic FreeChoice activities, where guests have the freedom to choose at no extra cost, such as whale watching, walking safaris and African cooking classes.

Scenic Tours Product Manager for Africa, Andrew Kelleher said "We're really excited about our new Africa touring programme for 2013. With new Scenic Special Stays and Scenic FreeChoice we have again raised the bar of luxury for our guests offering unrivalled quality and location as well as exclusive choice. Feedback from our 'sold out' 2012 touring has been incredible and am looking forward to an even bigger and better year to come."

Scenic Tours operates small group tours with a maximum of 36 guests. There is unrivalled access to natural marvels with exclusive early access to game parks and state-of-the-art open top vehicles to ensure face-to-face wildlife encounters.

From bookings made by 31 December 2012, guests will enjoy savings of up to $1600 per couple. Prices on the

31 Day Grand African Adventure start from $15,695 pp twin share. Includes all accommodation, most meals, all activities, events and entertainment, airport transfers, and all tipping and gratuities.

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

Sign up for Switzerland Faith-based Tourism Webinar

Join the online information session on Switzerland's Faith Travel sites, taking place at noon (ET) on Aug 23. Learn about Lucerne or St.Gallen's heritage, where you can sleep in a monastery or about the reformers in Zurich and Geneva.

Send an email with your contacts to and they will sign you up.


Switzerland's Religious Sites


ICCA launches National Cruise Week

ICCA announces first ever National Cruise Week

The International Cruise Council Australasia has just announced "Australia's largest cruise promotion" - the inaugural National Cruise Week which will take place 03-09 Sep 2012.

ICCA gm Brett Jardine said the initiative would be the largest consumer promotion ever undertaken by the local cruise industry, with 28 ICCA member cruise lines and over 1000 member travel agents taking part across Australia and New Zealand.

He said the Australasian initiative followed the ongoing success of similar promotions in the UK and USA, and will see member cruise lines offering exclusive deals and "spectacular savings" only available through ICCA member travel agents.

Last year's US National Cruise Week, hosted by ICCA's sister organisation Cruise Lines International Association, generated $55 million in new sales (and more than $7 million in commissions) across North America.

"As Australia is one of the fastest growing cruise markets in the world, we have high hopes for the inaugural National Cruise Week and believe it will help drive sales even further as we enter the region's largest cruise season," Jardine said.

More information in tomorrow's issue of CruiseWeekly.

Brand New Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou


China's most significant hotel opening this year creates new design landmark for the city of Guangzhou

Global interior design leaders HBA, Hirsch Bedner Associates set out to challenge perceptions of hotel design with the styling of the Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou, a stunning new architectural landmark in China's southern provincial capital and the brand's 88th property worldwide. Remarkable for both its soaring height and tapering avant-garde design, the newly opened hotel is set to become a new benchmark for interior design in Asia.

Rising 103 stories above the Pearl River, the Four Seasons Guangzhou occupies the top third of the new Guangzhou International Finance Center. The project is architecturally dramatic for its triangular tower, diagonal lattice and soaring, 30-floor-high atrium. HBA's interior design concept is striking, developed to push the boundaries of design and challenge perceptions of the classic hotel interior.

HBA won an international competition to design the hotel. "It was because we were able to beautifully communicate a visual presentation that upholds the integrity of the Four Seasons brand coupled with innovative design and sensitivity to location," said Ian Carr, CEO of HBA in Singapore.

Every detail of the hotel's elegant yet ultramodern interior was meticulously planned and executed to ensure an exceptional guest experience. From the ground floor, guests take dedicated express elevators to the 70th floor lobby, where a dramatic three metre (ten foot) red steel sculpture by Australian artist Matthew Harding appears to float on a sea of watery glass, reflecting the astounding ceiling window 30 floors above.

The incredible naturally-lit atrium, surrounded by restaurants and rooms above, is higher than the top of St. Paul's Cathedral in London and New York's Statue of Liberty. The intricate textured screen made of woven metal wraps around the interior of the sky-high lobby. In a subtle reference to the hotel brand, the screen is themed around the four seasons, from spring in the basement to fall in the upper reaches.

"The artwork extends to edgy, modern Southern Chinese pieces by local artists and continues the theme of the four seasons from spring on the ground floor to winter at the top floor," said Sandra DeSouza, Director of Canvas, art consultants on the project. For instance, at Tian Bar on Level 99, the artwork is pure, white and ethereal in a fitting tribute to the heavens.

A key challenge facing HBA was to match interiors with the complex structural columns featured in all public spaces and the hotel's 104 guest rooms and suites. Each boasts a unique floorplan as a result, with the building narrowing as it rises and columns intersecting at different points. The only constants in HBA's guest room interiors are the bathrooms and beds, positioned to offer unparalleled views of the Pearl River Delta and cityscape. Floor to ceiling glass windows additionally encourage guests to "look right down", said Carr. "This design is naturally inspired by the 103-storey building we were given. We didn't want to close up the windows and deny guests the spectacular view."

Furniture is predominantly modern Italian, with contemporary Chinese art playing off elements of nature and culture. HBA created beautifully customized carpets that are watercolor-like and evocative of the skies and clouds.

"Everything Four Seasons does is classy – nothing trite or glib," said Carr.

Embracing this brief, HBA's objective was to bridge the gap between Four Seasons' "modern conservatism" style and the building's avant-garde architecture, with the vast, light-filled central atrium contributing to a particularly dramatic effect.

"Where guests check-in, they can look up and see beautiful patterning spanned across 35 floors of tapering diagonal glass, it's quite amazing," said Carr.

This lent itself to creating further patterns of angles and refractive elements in the interior design, from the handrails in the atrium – custom measured for each floor – to a dynamic skylight at the top, with angular black panels. The effect is magnified in interior corridors, with angled glass deliberately projecting outwards to "embrace the height". Nowhere is this sense of height more intense than from a bridge on Level 100, where a staircase projects into the void and glass floors look down 40 floors below to the lobby.

In addition to Tian Bar, HBA also provided sumptuous interiors for Yu Yue Heen, Caffe Mondo and Kumoi – three of the hotel's four new dining destinations. Located on Level 71, signature Chinese restaurant Yu Yue Heen deliberately speaks a different design language than the rest of the project, with interiors playing on traditional Chinese calligraphy and carrying the colors of the Red Dragon. In Yu Yue Heen, and throughout the hotel, design marries tradition and innovation to firmly ground interiors in modern China.

"Overall, Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou breaks conventions, coupling luxury with the avant-garde," added Carr. "The architect created amazing spaces for us to work with and this building really stands out as a new design icon for both Guangzhou and for the Four Seasons brand."

For HBA in Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore, Brisbane, Melbourne, New Delhi, Dubai Thailand, Moscow, Istanbul and Manila, visit

Bridging the gap between Four Seasons' ultra-luxury standards and the avant-garde design of Guangzhou IFC, HBA's design creates a space that is sumptuous and soaring in scope

The building's unconventional structure required more than 100 different room configurations, each offering unimpeded views of the Pearl River Delta and cityscape

In signature Chinese restaurant Yu Yue Heen, and throughout Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou, HBA's concept marries cultural tradition and design innovation

New SAA bagage policy

SAA announces changes to baggage policy on flights from Australia

South African Airways (SAA) is introducing a new check-in baggage policy in response to varying customer requirements in each of its markets. The new policy will apply to all SAA flights departing from and arriving into Perth, Western Australia.

According to SAA's Country Manager for Australasia, Tim Clyde-Smith, the new policy aligns with most of the larger Star Alliance carriers, ensuring a transparent and consistent set of rules across SAA and other Star Alliance network airlines. From 5 September 2012, SAA will move to a checked baggage policy that provides for the number of pieces of baggage a passenger can check in, rather than the total weight of a passenger's checked baggage," Tim said.

"Each of these pieces will be subject to weight and size restrictions. The new policy describes the number of baggage pieces a passenger may check-in, as well as the weight restrictions for each piece, according to route and class of travel," he said.

"Excess baggage, ie. additional items, or where the baggage exceeds the weight and or size allowance, will be charged at a flat rate per piece of luggage. This is a change to the current policy where excess baggage is charged per kilogram."

"For the Australia market, the policy will apply to SAA's flights out of Perth. It does not at this stage apply to SAA's codeshare flight out of Sydney in conjunction with Qantas. In addition SAA cannot accept any check-in items weighing more than 32kg. Any items exceeding this limit will either have to be repacked into separate bags or checked in at the SAA Cargo counter and flown at cargo rates."

Tim said the new policy, which contains simple explanations and identifies routes where variations are applicable, can be viewed online at It also forms an important part of the Terms & Conditions of all SAA tickets, including flights purchased online.

"Passengers travelling on any multi-sector or multi-carrier tickets and SAA code-share partner flights, ie. tickets purchased from SAA for a flight with an SA flight number, but operated by another airline, should check with the other airlines to see which baggage policy is applicable."

The policy will apply on tickets for all flights operated by SAA, i.e. flown using an SAA aircraft and crew. For tickets involving joint international transport services (code share) provided by SAA and foreign airlines the free baggage and excess baggage charge policy has been adjusted and will be based on the policies of the predominant carrier for the trip.

"For travel between Perth and Johannesburg, the following applies: Business class: 2 pieces at a maximum of 32kg each and economy class: 1 piece at a maximum of 23kg each." Tim said.

Tim said the new policy brings SAA into line with a growing number of international carriers.

"We recommend all of our passengers check our new policy by going online to our website and confirming with their travel agent with respect to their specific bookings," Tim concluded.

About: SAA has daily non-stop flights from Sydney and six flights a week from Perth to Johannesburg (daily from August 17) 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 see

For all SAA media releases see:

Free Guide from Group University on "Understanding Faith Tourism" (by Cindi Brodhecker)

As this blog is dedicated to Growth Markets and learning more about them - one excellent resource to obtain is the free guide from Group University on the topic of "Understanding Faith Tourism."

This publication and resource is written by my good friend and faith-based tourism expert, Cindi Brodhecker. To learn more about Cindi and her company visit

Regarding obtaining the guide itself, here's the information:
Website link:

Understanding Faith Tourism

In this free Guide from Group University, Cindi Brodhecker, President of Faith Travel Development and Consulting, discusses the history of why religious groups travel, how to define your religious travel niche market and how to develop a portfolio for your religious travel product.

Introduction Excerpt:
“While new to some, faith tourism has existed since antiquity and was the first viable sector of the travel industry. In ancient Greece, for example, people would travel to worship the gods at important temples. Later, the Olympic Games became an event that drew thousands of “tourists” to Greece.”

To download your free copy, visit the website and following webpage:
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