Τρίτη, 30 Ιουνίου 2015

UNWTO and the Turkic Council to work together on tourism development


UNWTO and the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (Turkic Council) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen collaboration in advancing tourism as a key driver of socio-economic growth and inclusive development (Madrid, Spain, 26 June 2015).

The MoU will enhance the cooperation between UNWTO and the Turkic Council in areas such as cultural tourism, including the development of the Silk Road, as a means to increase the competitiveness and diversification of the sector in the Member States of both Organizations.

The agreement was signed by UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai and the Secretary-General of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, Ambassador Mr. Ramil Hasanov, at the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid, in the presence of the representatives of the Embassies of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkey to Spain.

“This MoU comes to reinforce the strong relationship we have with the Turkic Council”, said Mr. Rifai on the occasion. ”The Turkic Council Member States are valued Members of UNWTO, and I am confident that by joining forces we will be better able to harness tourism’s full potential as a key driver of jobs and inclusive development in our Member States”.

The Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (Turkic Council) is an intergovernmental organization established in 2009 with the signing of Nakhchivan Agreement by the Heads of States of its Member States: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey. As a new regional cooperation mechanism, it involves a wide range of areas from economy to transport, from sustainable development to education and from media to tourism with a view to accelerating cooperation, not only among its Member States, but also in the region. After the Fourth Turkic Council Summit at the level of Heads of State, hosted by Turkey on 5 June 2014 in Bodrum, on the theme of cooperation in tourism, the Council has increased its efforts to promote the tourism potential of its Member States while boosting regional collaboration in the tourism sector

Hungary for romance? Budapest cheapest destination for a romantic getaway


Hungarian capital Budapest is the cheapest destination for UK couples to have a romantic getaway, according to a new study.

Experts at relationship site eHarmony.co.uk and travel search engine Skyscanner analysed the typical costs involved with a date across the 20 most populous European cities, including a meal, flowers, chocolates and hotel room, with average flights prices to these destinations from UK airports. The results reveal that Budapest offers the best value ‘datecation’ in Europe.

On average, a two night Budapest break will set you back £390, with a three star hotel room costing just £36 and a quality three course meal for two with a bottle of house white coming to £31. Twelve red roses and a box of chocolates come to £38 and travel around the city for two totals £8. Finally, return flights for two add on £277.

In fact, according to Skyscanner flight price data, it is cheaper to fly from a UK airport to Budapest and have a date there (£390 for all elements above with flights included) than it would be for people within the UK to travel to London for a romantic rendezvous (£547).

Following Budapest is Warsaw, with a weekend in the Polish capital coming to £394 overall. Belgian capital Brussels rounds out the top three cheapest cities, with it costing £413 in total to take a partner abroad. The average cost across the continent for an evening out as a couple is £500.

Table one: Top 10 cheapest destinations for a romantic getaway, across the top 20 most populated European cities 
RankCityPrice for date (without flights)Average return flight for two from UK airportsOverall total for break
1stBudapest£113£277£390
2ndWarsaw£135£259£394
3rdBrussels£203£210£413
4thBirmingham£175£253£428
5thBerlin£206£248£454
6thPrague£191£276£467
7thMadrid£198£281£479
8thBucharest£181£309£490
9thHamburg£213£278£491
10thRome£209£292£501

At the other end of the scale, a romantic weekend in Bulgarian capital Sofia ends up the most expensive, with flights to the city making up over three quarters of the £584 total cost for a date there. Vienna (£572) and Munich (£555) round out the top three priciest locations to holiday as a couple.

Without travel, London is the most expensive city in Europe for a romantic evening.  A ‘London love-in’, including hotel room, meal for two, roses, chocolates and travel around the city, sets you back £349 on average, meaning lovers in the capital can feel somewhat hard done by compared to their continental counterparts.

Table two: Top 5 most expensive destinations for a romantic getaway, across the top 20 most populated European cities
RankCityPrice for date (without flights)Average return flight for two from UK airportsOverall total for break
1stSofia£124£460£584
2ndVienna£171£401£572
3rdMunich£193£362£555
4thMilan£282£272£554
5thNaples£172£381£553
7thLondon£349£198*£547
*Based on an average cost of flights to London from UK airports outside the capital

Price tag aside, London is still the most popular destination among UK adults for a romantic mini-break, with 15 per cent choosing to take a partner away there over any other city in the world. City of love Paris is placed second (9%) with Barcelona (4%) the third most popular destination for vacationing as a couple.

The true value in holidaying as a couple can be found beyond your wallet though, with a quarter (24%) of respondents saying a trip away helped them realise whether their partner was right for them. This will certainly be familiar to the five per cent of people who admitted they have broken up with a partner as a direct result of a holiday together. For many though, holidays don’t just serve as a way to test the strength of a relationship – one in eight (12%) state that a vacation has positively affected their sex life.

As well as a plethora of low-cost options, the increasingly accessible nature of international travel contributes to the fact that couples are going on holiday together earlier than ever. While over-55s in a relationship had waited an average of 13 months to vacation as a couple, 18-34 year olds tend to head away together inside of three months together. The average length of time to wait before going away is just shy of one year (50 weeks) overall.

Jemima Wade, spokesperson for eHarmony.co.uk, comments: "It's interesting to see more couples taking their first mini-break earlier on in their relationship, potentially seeing this as a 'make or break' milestone.”

“Spending quality time together is a great way to see if you're truly compatible. After all, compatibility sits at the core of long-term relationships and goes beyond having similar interests; it's about having similar values, beliefs and characteristics. eHarmony built it's better matches philosophy on 29 dimensions of compatibility, with number 13 being 'curiosity' for the world around you, and travel is a great way to delve into this."

Skyscanner’s Hayley Smith advises “As the guide shows, a cheap flight does not necessarily guarantee a great value romantic city break – two return flights can be under 50% of the total cost, as is the case with Milan. It’s therefore important to consider all your date-cation costs and we hope that this guide provides clarity for couples so that planning and budgeting for a date abroad is as easy as possible”.

Global travel report reveals rise of the Connected Traveller


LONDON, UK – Mobile usage is on the rise throughout the entire traveller journey, according to the TripBarometer Connected Traveller report released by TripAdvisor. The report defines Connected Travellers as those who have used a smartphone to plan or book a trip and provides in-depth insight into their habits and behaviours.

Key amongst the findings: forty five percent of Connected Travellers usually use their smartphones to book activities for a trip, almost three quarters of Connected Travellers (72%) use their smartphones to look for restaurants while on vacation and a third of Connected Travellers (34%) want their accommodation to offer mobile check-in.

The report is part of the larger TripBarometer study, conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor by independent research firm Ipsos and reporting on more than 44,000 global responses from travellers and the hotel sector.

“The TripBarometer: Connected Traveller report uncovers key emerging trends amongst a growing segment of travellers,” said Adam Medros, SVP of Product, TripAdvisor. “While booking travel via mobile is ultimately on the rise for all travellers, for the Connected Traveller smartphones are the essential travel companion. Through travel apps, Connected Travellers are finding their way around, looking for places to eat or things to do and reading reviews. They are also more likely to see their smartphones as a booking device, both before a trip and while in-destination.”

Mobile bookings on the rise
Mobile apps are becoming more popular as a booking channel – according to the report, the amount of people using mobile apps to book their accommodation has doubled year over year. In 2014, four percent of TripBarometer respondents booked their accommodation using a mobile app channel – that proportion has risen to eight percent this year. Those who book via mobile app channels are habitual users, with one in four (24%) saying they usually book this way.

The trend towards greater smartphone adoption in travel booking is even more apparent when looking at device usage among the Connected Traveller group. Connected Travellers are twice as likely as global travellers to book accommodation via a mobile device, while 45 percent of Connected Travellers say they use their smartphone to book activities for their trip compared to only 28 percent of global travellers.

Smartphones have become the essential trip companion
Connected Travellers are more likely to want their smartphones with them on vacation to organize their trip more efficiently (44%) and book accommodation on the go (37%). They are also more likely than the average traveller to use their smartphone for travel research while in their destination: 72 percent of Connected Travellers use their mobile to look for restaurants, 67 percent use it to find things to do and 64 percent use it to read reviews.
How mobile is used on holiday
Connected Travellers
Global Travellers
Finding my way around/maps
81%
67%
Looking for restaurants
72%
56%
Looking for things to do
67%
51%
Reading reviews
64%
47%
Looking for hotels
50%
36%
Making restaurant reservations
46%
36%


Connected Travellers: where they’re based and where they’re going
South America has the highest proportion of Connected Travellers with 57 percent of TripBarometer respondents from the region falling into the Connected Traveller segment. The Middle East (55%) and Asia (49%) follow close behind. However, looking at individual countries, Thailand and China lead the trend, with 65 percent of Thai and Chinese TripBarometer respondents identified as Connected Travellers.

Just under half of UK travellers (44%) fall in to the Connected Traveller group, while over half (53%) of all global travellers planning a visit to the UK in the next 12 months are Connected Travellers.

How to please the Connected Traveller?
All travellers say they find it useful for their hotel to offer adaptors, converters and a variety of chargers to save them from having to bring their own. However, the gap starts to widen between the requirements of Connected Travellers and the average traveller when it comes to services more closely related to smartphone connectivity. Nearly half (45%) of all Connected Travellers would enjoy an app to book things through while on their trip (compared to 38% of global travellers) and a third (34%) would find mobile check-in useful (compared to 28% of global travellers).

Where are hoteliers missing an opportunity?
According to the TripBarometer results, 45 percent of Connected Travellers would welcome an app to book things through while on their trip, yet so far just 16 percent of hoteliers globally offer such an app - falling to just 5 per cent in the UK.

Over a third of Connected Travellers say they would like for a hotel to make SIM cards or temporary mobile phones available for its guests, but only 7 percent of hotels currently offer this service. This would be an easy win for smaller properties, not only catering to the needs of Connected Travellers but also giving more of their guests the opportunity to use a mobile device as an in-destination travel companion.

Hoteliers in the UK are just ahead of the global average when it comes to making themselves accessible to Connected Travellers, with 51 percent offering a mobile-friendly website and 59 percent already accepting bookings via a mobile device. They are, however, behind the curve when compared to their US counterparts – 59% of US hoteliers offer a mobile-friendly website and 63% accept mobile bookings.

“While the majority of global travellers now use mobile devices, the tendency to see a smartphone as a booking platform is what sets Connected Travellers apart,” said Marc Charron, president, TripAdvisor for Business. “Hotels should identify the best ways to make themselves as visible and accessible as possible on mobile platforms in order to appeal to this highly engaged segment of travellers. For independent or smaller properties, leveraging a service like TripConnect instant booking is a great way to make themselves instantly bookable on TripAdvisor without needing to develop their own mobile booking solution.” 

Sydney inspires association leaders to be innovative thinkers


Business Events Sydney and International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) have partnered with innovation, diversity and success expert Frans Johansson to deliver exclusive and tailored workshops to valued American association clients. Held in New York on 26 May and Washington DC on 27 May, the interactive workshops are part of Sydney’s dedicated client offering to help equip associations with the tools and strategies that will allow them to meet the challenges they face in the rapidly changing global environment.
 
BESydney CEO Lyn Lewis-Smith and ICC Sydney CEO Geoff Donaghy said the inaugural Sydney Speaker Series, to be rolled out globally in the coming months, was representative of the kind of broader value available to associations that partner with Sydney.


 
“We know that business events have great strategic potential to deliver long-lasting and wide-ranging benefit to communities all over the world. For us, it’s not just about winning an event for the city, it’s about making a difference, it’s about creating value, and it’s about creating a better and brighter future,” said Ms Lewis-Smith.


 
“In Sydney, we’re committed to genuine partnerships that deliver benefits to both parties over the long term – this includes everything from developing capability in key industry sectors to understanding and helping to address business challenges,” she said.
“These high-end, interactive sessions were designed to help cut through the noise and provide some practical tools and tips to help our clients navigate increasingly uncertain times.”


 
ICC Sydney CEO Geoff Donaghy added that Sydney’s partnership approach continued at the venue and through the management of each event.“The depth of our relationships is what ensures we achieve our goals of delivering successful business events. An association’s Sydney experience begins the moment we connect and continues through with the exceptional service we stand by at ICC Sydney when planning, delivering and following up on each event,” said Mr Donaghy.


 
“We see ourselves as an extension of our clients; delivering on their economic, social and professional development requirements in Sydney,” he said. “Initial feedback on the sessions suggests we’ve hit the mark. In fact, we know that one of our clients called a debrief session immediately after the workshop and applied some of the techniques she’d just learned in the discussion with her team,” continued Ms Lewis-Smith.

Mandarin Oriental announces another luxury hotel in Beijing


Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has announced that it will manage another luxury property in the heart of Beijing, scheduled to open in 2017, in the Wangfujing district of the capital city. Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing will be located in the new premier mixed use centre ‘WF CENTRAL’ being developed by Wangfu Central Real Estate Development Company Limited, an affiliated company of Hongkong Land.
 
Located on the top two floors of the prestigious WF CENTRAL, the hotel will command outstanding views of several famous landmarks in the capital. The hotel is designed by world renowned architects Kohn Pedersen Fox, and will feature garden terraces intended to capture the intimacy of a grand courtyard residence, ideal for guests to socialize, entertain and relax in.

 
All 74 luxurious guestrooms and suites will be spacious and elegantly styled, and many will have excellent views of the Forbidden City. Mandarin Oriental’s renowned customer-centric in-room entertainment systems will be a prominent feature.

 
Featuring two restaurants and a bar designed to become a destination in itself, Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing will offer some of the finest cuisine in the city. Both restaurants will have access to a rooftop garden terrace providing unparalleled views of the city’s famous sites, while the bar will be connected to a private courtyard.

 
Other facilities will include an all-encompassing Spa at Mandarin Oriental providing holistic rejuvenation and relaxation in a serene, meditative setting. Additional wellness facilities include an indoor swimming pool and well-equipped fitness centre.

 
WF CENTRAL is located on Wangfujing Street, an area that is well recognised as the prime commercial and retail destination in the city. The centre will showcase prestigious international retail and dining, as well as the 74 room luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel. The hotel is within easy reach of Beijing’s major tourist attractions, with both the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square within walking distance.

 
“Beijing continues to develop in stature as one of the world’s leading destinations, and we are delighted at the opportunity of opening a second hotel in this important capital city. We look forward to collaborating again with Hongkong Land to create another iconic property, as we have previously done with our award-winning hotels, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong and Mandarin Oriental, Macau,” said Edouard Ettedgui, Group Chief Executive of Mandarin Oriental.

 
“With WF CENTRAL being Hongkong Land’s debut flagship commercial development in Beijing, we look forward to working with Mandarin Oriental again to create a truly exceptional lifestyle experience in the heart of the city, following our inaugural partnership on The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong,” said Y K Pang, Chief Executive of Hongkong Land.

Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing will be the Group’s second hotel to open in the city. Mandarin Oriental will also manage a luxury 241-room hotel as part of the CCTV project, which is scheduled to open in 2016.
 
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is the award-winning owner and operator of some of the most luxurious hotels, resorts and residences. Having grown from a well-respected Asian hotel company into a global brand, the Group now operates, or has under development, 45 hotels representing almost 11,000 rooms in 24 countries, with 21 hotels in Asia, nine in The Americas and 15 in Europe, Middle East and North Africa. In addition, the Group operates or has under development, 15 Residences at Mandarin Oriental connected to its properties.

Shangri-La Hotel, Hefei Opens Today in the Ancient Capital of Anhui Province


Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts announces the opening of its latest China hotel, Shangri-La Hotel, Hefei, in a city founded as a county seat in the Qin Dynasty. Built to complement the striking structures, which form the modern skyline of Hefei, the 27-story Shangri-La Hotel, Hefei is centrally-located on Suixi Road near the commercial area and leisure attractions.


A new landmark in the city, Shangri-La Hotel, Hefei brings the group’s famous hospitality from the heart to 2,200-year-old Anhui province, home to the Huangshan Mountain Range, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located between China’s largest river, the Yangtze River, and one of China’s largest freshwater lakes, Chaohu Lake, the hotel offers some of the best views of the setting sun in Hefei. In addition to its surrounding natural beauty, the property offers the brand’s guest-centered technology of free Wi-Fi in the property and its limousines and paper-less check-in; while also establishing a destination for the community to appreciate design elements and culinary creations inspired by the local Hui culture.


The hotel offers 401 guestrooms, ranging from 45 to 135 square meters (about 484 to 1,453 square feet), with expansive views of the urban landscape. Full-length windows and elegant landscape features – namely mountains, flowers and streaming rivers – found typically in Chinese paintings, are fused with the room interior of soft beige tones. A well-appointed bathroom and large desk space enhance the convenience to enjoy the space at leisure.


Situated on the highest floors of Shangri-La Hotel, Hefei are its spacious Executive and Speciality Suites, which are fitted with plush living and sleeping spaces, and large windows overlooking the city. Marble-clad bathrooms include a separate bath, walk-in shower and television.


Aside from panoramic views of Hefei, suite and Horizon Club guests can enjoy extra privileges at the Horizon Club Lounge on level 27 of the hotel, including express check-in and check-out, complimentary breakfast buffet, all-day refreshments and evening cocktails, and full concierge service.

London hotel hires a dog who works as stress buster for guests!


A dog who works in a London hotel! Yes, that’s right.
 
His name is Waggers; he’s a labradoodle puppy, and he’s absolutely gorgeous.

 
His owner, Giovanni Valentini, is the manager of Staybridge Suites in London’s Vauxhall, and he decided to bring Waggers into work one day.

 
The cute pup immediately hit it off with all the staff and particularly resonated with the guests.

 
Giovanni decided to employ Waggers full time as a Guest Service Representative and now Waggers plays an important role in stress relief for all guests.

 
He also helps out around the hotel. He loves to assist guests with their luggage.

 
And after breakfast every morning he goes in and hoovers up all the crumbs from under the tables before walking it off in the park.

 
Staybridge Suites Vauxhall offers fully equipped apartment suites, ideal for guests wishing to stay longer in the city. They come with their own high spec kitchen, spacious bathroom, Apple TV and individual Wi-Fi.

Apple Tree Group puts Arnaud in charge of new Myanmar Resor


A man with more than 30 years of hospitality experience and a passion for working in remote areas has been appointed general manager of the new Sanctum Inle Resort in Myanmar’s storied Inle Lake region, effective July 7.
Philippe Arnaud comes to the 96-room, Brigitte Dumont de Chassart-designed hotel from Paris, where he served a three-year stint as corporate operations manager for Valotel France, owner of 16 Accor-managed hotels in Europe.
Before that, the 52-year-old Frenchman was the general manager of Hotel Pigonnet, a 50-room, Small Luxury Hotels property in Aix-en-Provence, just north of Marseilles.
“Philippe has an outstanding track record,” said Kurt Walter, Group General Manager – Hospitality Division, The Apple Tree Group, Sanctum Inle Resort’s management company. “He has broad international experience, demonstrated sales and marketing success, a strong food and beverage background and is a people-oriented leader. I’ve no doubt he’ll be a tremendous asset for us as we begin to write the opening chapter for Sanctum Inle Resort.”
Three hours from Yangon — spanned by air to Heho airport, then by car to Nyaung Shwe, and finally by boat to the lake’s west side — Sanctum Inle Resort (www.sanctum-inle-resort.com) is designed to inspire contemplation through its off-the-beaten-path location and architectural flourishes that invoke monastic traditions, such as Spanish-style arches and minimalistic (but modern) room designs.
The hotel offers seven room categories, including a pair of suites with full views of the lake, gateway to some of Asia’s most fascinating markets, distinctive pagodas and remarkable stupas

Marriott International to announce Q2 results of 2015 on July 29


Marriott International, Inc. will report second quarter 2015 earnings results on Wednesday, July 29, 2015, at approximately 5:00 pm Eastern Time (ET). The company will hold a conference call for the investment community to discuss its second quarter 2015 earnings on Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 10 a.m. ET. Mr. Arne Sorenson, Marriott International’s president and chief executive officer, and Mr. Carl Berquist, Marriott International’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, will discuss the company’s performance.


The conference call will be webcast simultaneously via Marriott’s investor relations website. Those wishing to access the call on the web should log on to http://www.marriott.com/investor, and click the link for the second quarter earnings call under “Recent and Upcoming Events”. A replay will be available at that same website until July 30, 2016. A transcript of the call will also be available on the company’s website.


The telephone dial-in number for the conference call is 706-679-3455. Please use conference ID 66506287 when dialing into the call. To help ensure you do not miss any of the conference call, please dial-in or link to the call on the web 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. News media will be able to access the conference call in a listen-only mode.

Meliá Hotels partners with UNICEO to increase MICE market visibility


Meliá Hotels International has announced a partnership with UNICEO, the international association for senior corporate event organizers, a further step in enhancing its recognition as a leading company in the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Congresses and Exhibitions) segment, a strategic priority for the hotel company.

Meliá Hotels International will now begin to actively cooperate in UNICEO projects which aim to promote the exchange of professional experiences and know-how among members. Meliá will also become a global sponsor and provide support for the activities of the non-profit association based in Geneva.


The agreement helps Meliá Hotels International strengthen its positioning in the MICE segment as UNICEO® is the only international association of senior managers responsible for decision-making for the corporate events of major international companies.
Meliá Hotels International currently has more than one hundred hotels with specialist facilities and equipment for hosting all kinds of corporate events in all of its different brands, as well as a team of professional specialists in the MICE segment to provide personalized service anywhere in the world.


The company has pioneered the development of specific products to meet the new needs and preferences of corporate clients such as the creation of flexible packages that allow greater control over spending, the development of innovative tools that facilitate organization, or the design of unique concepts such as Power Meetings by Meliá, or EcoTouch Meetings to host sustainable events in hotels un the Meliá Hotels & Resorts brand.

Experience Washington, DC with a fresh look and weekend travel saving


Chances are travelers haven’t been to the nation’s capital since their end-of-the-year, grade school field trip with their teacher and some parents as chaperones. A lot has changed since then, and Marriott International’s Washington, DC area hotels are encouraging travelers to take a fresh new look at an American classic, while saving on weekend travel. Washington, DC was recently named America’s “Coolest” city by Forbes Magazine and called America’s Fittest City for its vast network of cycling and walking paths. Since 2004, Washington, DC’s downtown retail has increased by 250% with over 700,000 sq. feet of retail, including the new luxury retail and restaurant destination, CityCenterDC.

A new restaurant in the District opens every week, almost doubling the amount of restaurants a decade earlier. Now is the perfect time to #StayDC. This Fourth of July holiday, July 3 through July 10, travelers who book on Marriott.com will receive 20% off best available weekend rates for stays July 10 through December 31, 2015. In addition, by booking directly on Marriott.com or Marriott’s mobile app, Marriott Rewards members will receive free in-room Wi-Fi during their stay.


Guests can choose from 21 participating different hotels, across six brands, JW Marriott, Marriott Hotels, Autograph Collection Hotels, Renaissance Hotels, Courtyard, and Residence Inn. Located in the many vibrant neighborhoods of Washington, DC and Arlington, Va., each hotel is uniquely tailored to fit a travelers’ own style, and provides the superior level of accommodations, service and amenities guests come to expect and rely on. Whether kayaking on the Potomac River, visiting the historical museums, running through Rock Creek Park, watching a play at the Kennedy Center, catching a concert at Verizon Center, shopping at many boutiques or discovering the latest new neighborhood restaurant, the Washington, DC area has plenty to offer travelers looking for a quick weekend away.

Sheraton Macao Hotel welcomes guests to experience DreamWorks animation


Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central invites guests of all ages to experience first-hand, the magic of DreamWorks animation at the Kung Fu Panda Academy.


While the attached document will give you a details on the academy and offers at Sheraton Macao, here is a glimpse. We will we glad to explore a story opportunity or have this exciting news featured.


ü Available from 4 July to 30 September 2015, the Kung Fu Panda Academy will be a five-zone interactive obstacle course that challenges children’s physical abilities and problem solving skills, and encourages their creativity too.

 
ü It will be easy for families to escape the daily hustle and bustle and enjoy this immersive experience through the Kung Fu Panda Summer Package, which includes ferry tickets, accommodation and special dining or spa offers, and starts at just HKD$1,498++ (approx. USD195++)*..

The Holiday Inn Brand Continues Journey to Extraordinary Campaign by Asking Travelers to Share Their Stories of Incredible Travel


IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) today announces the Holiday Inn brand’s new collaboration with the web and mobile travel platform Roadtrippers. The Holiday Inn brand’s Journey to Extraordinary campaign, which launched in the summer of 2014, continues this summer with a focus on celebrating the joy of travel and the shared experiences travelers have while on the road. Together, the Holiday Inn brand and Roadtrippers will make it easier and more enjoyable for travelers to plan, chronicle and share their extraordinary travel experiences as they hit the road this summer.

Joining forces with the Cincinnati-based Roadtrippers is a natural fit for the Holiday Inn brand, as both companies were born out of the quintessential American road trip. More than 60 years ago, Holiday Inn brand founder Kemmons Wilson took a road trip with his family. After being frustrated by the lack of consistent, family-friendly lodging available, he decided to create his own hotel brand, and the Holiday Inn brand has been championing enjoyable travel for guests ever since. Throughout that time, the brand has constantly innovated to deliver what is important to guests – a hotel that is warm, welcoming and makes them feel cared for where they can strengthen existing connections and make new ones, making their journeys more meaningful.

Heather Balsley, Senior Vice President, Americas Brand Management, IHG said: “When we launched the Journey to Extraordinary campaign in 2014, guests told us that they had their own stories of incredible journeys and experiences at Holiday Inn hotels that they wanted to tell. We heard them and through this relationship with Roadtrippers, we want to celebrate each and every one of those journeys. This program is the perfect opportunity to connect with our guests who are passionate storytellers through an exciting platform like Roadtrippers, which appeals to travelers eager to share their stories.”

Driven by a shared desire to enable amazing journeys and the special moments that travelers experience during their trips, the brands came together to introduce a new page on the Roadtrippers site called “Extraordinary Journeys,” featuring user-generated content curated to inspire readers and fuel them to experience their own journeys. Currently, eight one-of-a-kind adventures – from one traveler’s exploration of the Apostle Islands Ice Caves to another’s motorcycle trip across the longest railroad trestle in the U.S. – are highlighted, and over the course of the summer, the brands will collaborate with the Roadtripper community to put fans in the driver’s seat and feature more of their powerful stories on the “Extraordinary Journeys” page and across both brands’ social media channels.

Joshua Smibert, Chief Operating Officer, Roadtrippers said: “At Roadtrippers we believe you’re always five minutes away from something interesting. Of course, the adventure is not just in discovering these places, but also in sharing the experience with others. Our travelers, like guests of Holiday Inn hotels, have asked to share their adventures with the larger Roadtrippers community. So we are excited to collaborate with the Holiday Inn brand and extend our platform to tell some of these interesting stories and encourage all people to connect around the joy of travel.”

There is no better way to get out and explore than by hitting the open road, and according to a recent study by AAA[1], current low gas prices mean that this summer and through the rest of the year, people will be doing just that. Six in 10 Americans say that they are more likely to take a road trip of 50 or more miles if gas prices remain near recent levels. Additionally, American Express Spending & Saving Tracker[2] research shows that last year, four percent more travelers planned to take trips by car than the year before. While the historic tradition of the great American road trip remains unchanged, the way people share their experiences has evolved. An early 2015 report from Deloitte[3] indicates that 83 percent of consumers use the Internet while on vacation. Of these, 33 percent post photos via Facebook with their friends during vacation and 48 percent post vacation photos when they return home.

Sleep Under the Stars at London’s Stars at Hotel 41


Hotel ‘41’ invites guests to sleep under London’s star-speckled sky, enjoying an evening of supreme luxury in the glass-roofed Penthouse Conservatory Suite. Romantics and stargazers alike will adore the unique “A Night Under the Stars” , which is valid throughout the year and includes an array of memorable touches that complete the experience.

This exclusive stay also includes a personalized “Name a Star” certificate that enables guests to choose and name a star after their special someone – truly a timeless gift. Lovers can absorb themselves in the astronomical universe with the help of a guided star book and the beautiful in-suite telescope. A flight of Champagne is served from Houses like Ruinart and Laurent Perrier, and guests are also gifted a 100% pure silk scarf (designed by Red Carnation Hotels President and Founder Beatrice Tollman) and a traditional full English breakfast.

This experience is perfect for special occasions, and the hotel is always prepared for a few proposals along the way.‘41’ is an intimate five-star property located opposite Buckingham Palace offering sophisticated style and comfort. The luxurious Executive Lounge boasts a lavish 24-hour Plunder the Pantry buffet and honesty bar, which ensures a relaxed atmosphere supported by a five-star team with a ratio of two members of staff to every guest.

“A Night Under the Stars” is available year-round. Prices start from $1,460.00 per room per night and is subject to availability and booking terms and conditions. The “Name a Star” certificate can take up to two weeks to pre-order. Black out dates may apply.

Places where you can find Scotland’s best food experiences


So we know Scotland is a wonderful place to visit, with its rich heritage and breathtaking scenery. But did you also know it produces some of the most delicious foods you could ever find?
 
In fact, these particular delicacies are so revered their names are protected by law, ensuring you know you’re getting the real thing, and eating it right where it comes from.
Scottish Salmon: On Scotland’s west coast, the wild Atlantic laps stunning beaches, just waiting to be explored. While you’re here, be sure to try fresh Scottish Salmon.

 
Argyll & Bute is particularly renowned for their fish and seafood, and pick a restaurant here and you’ll have one fantastic view. While you’re at it, what better way to round off an evening of fine food than with a dram of whisky from one of the many local distilleries.
Arbroath Smokies: The world-famous Arbroath Smokie is haddock that’s wood-smoked, using a specific process in the small fishing town of Arbroath in Angus.

 
The distinctive delicacy is the subject of a dedicated trail that you can follow round the town, taking in no fewer than 8 restaurants and cafés that incorporate Smokies into their dishes. It also takes you to producers that sell authentic Smokies to take home, and gives recipe ideas such as Arbroath Smokie Cullen Skink and risotto.

 
Stornoway Black Pudding: While touring the stunning islands of the Outer Hebrides, be sure to stop off in Stornoway on Lewis. Stroll past the town’s picturesque, bustling harbour before sitting down for a full Scottish breakfast featuring Stornoway black pudding.
Unique to Stornoway, this blood sausage speciality is rich and hearty. That will set you up for the day!

 
Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar: The heart of Neolithic Orkney is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the stunning scenery makes these islands a must-visit. All that sightseeing is sure to work up your appetite for some creamy Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar.

 
Following a traditional recipe and process, cheese has been made using local milk in Orkney for hundreds of years; traditionally crofters’ wives would sell surplus to supplement their income. Have yours with oatcakes.

 
Shetland Lamb: Britain’s northernmost island group, The Shetlands have a distinct character, and being as far north as Norway, are best visited in the summer when the sun seems to never quite set.

 
After taking in the views, be sure to seek out a local restaurant serving Shetland lamb. Island flocks graze naturally on herb-rich pastures, wild heather and grassland stretching down to the sea, just like they have since ancient times, and results in the meat that has the special ‘sweet’ natural flavour that sets this breed apart.


Sea Darwin creates new signs and new experiences to engross tourists



A remote Top End tourism attraction has used its Brolga award prize money to launch new interpretative signage that tells the story of Bare Sand Island’s sea turtles.
Chief Minister and Tourism Minister Adam Giles said the new signs were established by local operator, Sea Darwin, who runs award winning turtle tracks tours on the island throughout the year.
“Sea Darwin’s turtle tracks cruise showcases Bare Sand Island as a new destination and new experience for the Top End, and these new signs will help tell the Territory’s story to visitors,” he said.

“Sea Darwin has previously received the NT Brolga Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism and I am pleased they chose to use their $2000 prize from sponsors Qantas to develop interpretative signage to enhance the visitor experience on their eco-tours.”
Sea Darwin owner Jim Smith said they were excited to launch the new interpretative signs.

“For the first time on the NT coast, there will be interpretation signage that tells the story of our sea turtles, our war history and who the land belongs to,” he said.

NT Department of Land and Resource Management marine scientist Rachel Groom welcomed the initiative which she said provided the public with accessible information on turtles.
“Turtles are a group of species vulnerable to many impacts globally and this demonstrates a local commitment to providing a sustainable tourism opportunity,” she said.
Mr Giles encouraged Territory tourism operators and businesses to nominate for this year’s Brolga awards.
“The Brolgas are the Territory’s premier tourism awards and nominations for this year’s awards are open now until Friday 14 August,” he said.
“Tourism is the Territory’s largest employer, providing jobs for around 16,000 people and a thriving tourism industry will help to develop our regions, boost local businesses, create more jobs and grow the Territory economy.”
Bare Sand Island is one of the most significant nesting grounds for flatback turtles in Australia, and is located 90 kilometres by sea from Darwin in Bynoe Harbour.

Warner Bros. Studio tour London to serve up sweets and treats feature this summer


Film fans are invited to get a taste for how magical meals and confectionery (both real and replica) were created for the Harry Potter film series as Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter hosts its first ever Sweets and Treats feature. From Monday 20th July – Sunday 6th September, visitors will discover how the Prop Department moulded jelly snakes, decorated sugar skulls and piped ice-cream sundaes during production.

Based in the Ministry Munchies kiosk from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, expert prop and cake makers will demonstrate the techniques used to construct the floating pudding from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (that Dobby drops on the Dursleys’ guests) and edible Gillyweed, as used in the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Visitors will get to spot the difference between real bakes and prop fakes as they get up close to original artefacts and see edible delights being created.

Butterbeer ice-cream will be available to purchase in the Studio Tour’s new backlot café for the first time this summer as well as frothy tankards of the drink which is reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch. On the Diagon Alley set, visitors will be able to learn how towering ‘frozen’ desserts were assembled outside Florean Fortescue’s ice-cream parlour.

During production, graphic designers were tasked with creating dozens of unique sweet boxes and wrappers for treats from Honeydukes and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. In the end they created more than 120 different items for the Weasley twins’ shop and some of their original sketches and designs will be shown in the attraction’s Art Department especially for Sweets and Treats.


Some iconic sets will also be given a makeover as the Great Hall’s long tables are lined with props from Hogwarts feasts and the Gryffindor common room is dressed as it was for Quidditch victory scenes in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.


Food facts:

·         Chocolate desserts of all kinds covered the Great Hall tables in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and nearly all of it was actually made out of intricately-painted resin. However, some edible pieces were baked such as the chocolate phoenix cake which is displayed at the Studio Tour (having survived more than seven years in storage).

·         To make the scene where Ron throws up slugs in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets more palatable for actor Rupert Grint, filmmakers created the slimy creatures out of orange-flavoured jelly.

·         More than 300 litres of silicone were used to make the vibrantly-coloured sweets in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, including Puking Pastilles and Nosebleed Nougat.

The Studio Tour’s Sweets and Treats feature will run from Monday 20th July – Sunday 6th September. Tickets must be pre-booked and all extra activities are included in the ticket price.

TAT Action Plan 2016 conference takes place this week in Chon Buri


The annual Tourism Authority of Thailand Action Plan (TATAP) conference is taking place this week, from 29 June to 2 July, in Bangsaen, Chon Buri. Attended by more than 400 officials of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) from TAT headquarters as well as its local and overseas offices, the conference is set to result in the much-anticipated Tourism Marketing Plan for 2016, which is scheduled to be announced to the country’s public and private stakeholders on the coming Monday, 6 July.

The conference’s opening ceremony is graciously presided over by H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports. In her opening remarks, she said, “Today, Thailand needs to count on quality tourism rather than the number of tourists, in line with the Royal Thai Government’s key economic policies to promote economic development towards stability, prosperity and sustainability. Thailand’s tourism industry has increasingly becoming more important, and in order to achieve higher tourism revenue, the government is promoting close collaborations among all stakeholders with transparency, synergy and quick action.”Thailand is on target to achieve 2.2 trillion Baht tourism revenue for 2015, including 1.4 trillion Baht from 28.8 international tourists, H.E. Kobkarn added. “For 2016, the government expects Thailand’s tourism to generate an income of 2.3 trillion Baht. The amount is anticipated to grow further to 2.5 trillion Baht in 2017.”
Mr. Kalin Sarasin, Chairman of the Board of TAT said, “TAT must focus on on core policies for next year’s tourism promotion plans, including connectivity and collaboration; strengthening the Amazing Thailand brand legacy and continuing the Thainess brand success; more quality tourism – enhancing promotions of tourism products that generate higher revenue; using TQM Approach, and preparing efficient and professional resources to keep up with the expected tourism growth.”
TAT-Action-Plan-2016-02
Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa, TAT’s Acting Governor said, “TAT has started working on the TAT Action Plan 2016 in December 2014 through a number of meetings with a board network of partners both in Thailand and overseas. “The TATAP 2016 follows the policies and guidelines of the 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan and Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ National Tourism Development Plan that focus on attract more quality tourists to Thailand as well as on spreading tourism income to secondary destinations.”