Destination Wrap: Iconic NT national parks reopening, Tourism Ireland’s exclusive agent group + MORE

Uluru, AUSTRALIA - July 4, 2015: Uluru at Sunset

Get ready to welcome the worst day of the week in good spirits after reading Travel Weekly’s Destination Wrap.

Kakadu and Uluru‐Kata Tjuta national parks reopening

Parks Australia has announced staged re‐opening plans for Kakadu and Uluru‐Kata Tjuta national parks, with both parks to welcome visitors from Friday 19 June 2020.

Director of National Parks Dr James Findlay said due to COVID‐safe arrangements and infrastructure upgrades, some areas of the national parks will not be open to visitors during the initial re‐opening.

Kakadu National Park will be open for day use only, between 8am and 5pm. Most boat ramps will be open, meaning visitors will once again be able to enjoy some of the Top End’s best fishing.

Mamukala Wetlands, Mangarre Rainforest, Bardedjilidji, Gungural, the Yurmikmik area and the Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) region will also be open, allowing for walks and access to Kakadu’s wildlife and world‐class rock art.

At Uluru‐Kata Tjuta National Park, walking tracks and sunrise and sunset viewing areas will be open.

Visitors can take a walk to Mutitjulu Waterhole, hike around the base of Uluru or explore Kata Tjuta’s breathtaking views.

The cultural centre and associated businesses will remain closed during this first stage of reopening, as will organised group activities and tours.

Tourism Ireland launches Facebook group for travel agents

Tourism Ireland has launched the ‘Ireland Insiders Facebook Group’, giving travel agents exclusive access to all they need to know to sell Ireland successfully.

In the group, Tourism Ireland will share information about upcoming events, as well as product updates, trade industry discounts and familiarisation trip details.

You can join the Facebook group here.

France reopens borders to EU travellers

France will lift restrictions at its borders for European Union travellers on Monday, the French Interior and Foreign ministries said in a statement on Friday, as reported by the Australian Associated Press.

“Given a favourable development of the health situation in France and Europe and in accordance with the recommendations of the European Commission … France will lift on June 15 (0h00) all traffic restrictions at its European internal borders (land, air and sea), implemented to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.

Travellers from the member states of the EU, as well as from Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and Vatican will also be able to enter the French territory without restrictions, AAP reported.

Furthermore, the country’s iconic Eiffel Tower could reopen on 25 June, with a suite of new COVID-19 safety measures, according to French officials.

Guests aged 11 years and up will be required to wear masks, with elevators and the top floor off-limits. Capacity will also be limited on both the first and second floors, and separate staircases will be used for guests on their way up and for those heading back down.

Sunshine Coast demands tourism funding ‘fair play’ to recover from COVID-19 devastation

The Sunshine Coast is urging Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to allocate $1 million in funding so that Visit Sunshine Coast can “urgently initiate” an intensive marketing campaign to attract Queensland visitors over the winter period.

The call comes after the Palaszczuk government provided $2.4 million each to the Gold Coast and Tropical North Queensland Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) – a move which Visit Sunshine Coast said places those markets at a distinct advantage when marketing to Queensland tourists.

In a joint letter to the Premier from Sunshine Coast Council and Visit Sunshine Coast, it was acknowledged that while the $2.4 million received by Gold Coast and Tropical North Queensland RTOs in February this year was in recognition of the loss of their international visitor market in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, both had now pivoted their marketing efforts to focus on the Queensland visitor.

Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said the additional $2.4 million provided to each of those RTOs means they are now actively competing against the Sunshine Coast for intrastate visitors, which is a market that has traditionally been a major source for our region.

Auckland indie agency Run launches new campaign, ‘Zoom to Ruapehu’

The COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand was like torture for travelling kiwis. This is the catalyst behind a new Visit Ruapehu campaign launched this week, created by Auckland indie agency RUN.

RUN created the tactical campaign to reflect the feeling of the nation, by transporting people from the confines of their boring Zoom meetings, out into nature. It features fly fishing, cycling on the famous Timber Trail, hiking and enjoying surrounding townships.

UFC Partners with DCT Abu Dhabi

UFC and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) have announced that the much-anticipated UFC FIGHT ISLAND events will be held on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, one of the emirate’s most popular leisure, shopping and entertainment destinations.

UFC will produce four events on Yas Island, including one pay per view – UFC 251 – and three fight nights.

The schedule begins with UFC 251 on Saturday, 11 July, and will be followed with successive fight night events to be held on Wednesday, 15 July; Saturday, 18 July; and Saturday, 25 July.

Details for each event, including fight cards, will be announced in coming weeks.

To accommodate existing public health guidelines, DCT Abu Dhabi will create a safety zone within Yas Island that will include an arena, hotel, training facilities, and dining establishments.

This safety zone will only be open to UFC athletes and their coaches, UFC staff and other event personnel, and Yas Island employees who are necessary to ensure the operation of the facilities.

Switzerland Tourism shares 12 “unknown” facts about Switzerland

Switzerland Tourism has released 12 lesser or unknown fun facts about the country that may surprise many travellers.

  1. The Swiss consume the most chocolate in the world, averaging about 12kg per person per year. Switzerland is also the world’s largest exporter of chocolate, and chocolate indulging experiences abound throughout the country
  2. Albert Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity, E=mc², while living in capital city of Bern. Visitors can still visit his house located in the city centre today
  3. Switzerland is very small, stretching just 350 kilometres from east to west, and 200 kilometres from north to south. To put things into perspective, all of Switzerland fits between Sydney and Canberra
  4. Switzerland is home to more than 1500 lakes, all located within no more than 15 minutes by train, car or bus from any given spot
  5. In 2007, about 100 armed Swiss soldiers accidentally “invaded” neighbouring country Liechtenstein. The soldiers unknowingly lost their way, which resulted in both countries enjoying a good laugh
  6. The world wide web has Swiss roots. A British scientist developed it at CERN (Europe organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva in 1989
  7. Switzerland has the second highest life expectancy in the world after Japan, with an average of 83.60 years of age
  8. Switzerland is one of only two countries in the world to have a square flag. The other country is Vatican City
  9. There are more banks than dentists in Switzerland, with an average of one bank per 1,400 people
  10. Even though Toblerone features the famous Matterhorn in its logo icon, the famous chocolate is actually made in Bern, whose icon is the bear, and is also part of the Toblerone visual branding. There is even a hiking trail named after the chocolate
  11. The two-letter abbreviation for Switzerland is CH, which stands for Confoederatio Helvetica. This is the original Latin name of Switzerland
  12. The personal guards of the Pope are all Swiss Citizens who have served in the Swiss military service. Recruited from the Catholic cantons, Swiss guards have been guarding the Pope since the 16th century. Visitors can learn more at the Museum of the Swiss Guard in Brig.

In other news, 14 luck agents achieved top scores during Switzerland Tourism’s recent seven-part webinar series, each winning a knife set, backpack and toiletry bag.

The winners were Debbie Andrew from MTA Travel; Michelle Woodsford from TravelManagers; Jenna Lewis from Travel Associates; Kerrie Kaesler from MTA Travel; Alivia Philipps from Orbit World Travel; Maree Kinder from NZ Travelbrokers; Leigh Refugia from House of Travel NZ; Carolyn Schonafinger from Holidays to Europe; Roz Nielson from Helloworld; Selese Rowe from TravelManagers NZ; Serena Harden from Travel Plan; Shirley Taylor from Taylor Made Travel; Helen Niddrie from Helloworld and Caroline Travel from MTA Travel.

To view the webinars, click here.

Agent webinar: Canada’s northwest territories featuring the Aurora Capital of the World

Destination Canada

All travel agents including Canada specialists are invited to join one of two webinar sessions from Destination Canada to learn about the two aurora seasons in Yellowknife, plus accommodation and viewing options, seasonal activities and the gateway to the arctic region of Canada.

When: Wednesday 17 June

Times (Australia): 8:30am (EST) or 10:30am (EST)

Register for session one here. Register for session two here.

URBNSURF Melbourne will re-open this Friday

URBNSURF, Australia’s first surf park, located in Tullamarine just minutes from Melbourne Airport’s terminals, will resume operations this Friday after temporarily closing in late March.

In line with the Victorian government’s gradual easing of restrictions, up to 18 surfers will be permitted on each side of URBNSURF Melbourne’s surfing lagoon, and additional hygiene and safety measures have been implemented to ensure guest and crew safety.

While initially only surfing guests will be permitted at the park, as restrictions are eased further, surf lessons and spectator visits will resume and more of the surf park’s areas and amenities, including new lagoon-side hot tubs, will be opened.

URBNSURF is also launching two new surf session products on re-opening: cruiser sessions, designed for novice and intermediate surfers who enjoy riding pointbreak-style conditions, and expert sessions, delivering challenging barrels for experienced riders.

Melbourne Star to reopen on 18 June

Melbourne Star Observation Wheel will reopen to the public on 18 June 2020 following the easing of Victorian government restrictions.

To celebrate its reopening, Melbourne Star is offering two-for-one tickets along with a hot or cold complimentary drink for guests to relax and reconnect in the comfort of their own warm, Private Cabin with friends or family until 31 August 2020.

As another great way to celebrate with the loved one, guests can opt for a more exclusive High Tea option, served for lunch with a glass of bubbles.

People power to push Balonne tourist trade

The Balonne Shire Council is transforming its residents into welcome ambassadors. as the council launches a new tourism marketing campaign to navigate the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 shutdown.

Balonne Shire Mayor Samantha O’Toole said ‘Welcome to Our Place’ follows on from the hugely successful ‘Welcome Mate’ campaign that brought the community together to create the St George Matesong which went viral.

South Africa’s tourism activities and skies open up

South Africa has been recognised for slowing down infections and implementing various lockdown measures through a risk adjusted strategy aimed at easing restrictions and opening up the economy and other activities over five alert levels (with Level 5 being the most restrictive).

When the risk-adjusted strategy was initially introduced in April, the tourism sector was placed at alert level 1 with some operations permissible at alert level 2.

However, over the last few weeks, a lot of consultative work and focus has been placed on both de-risking the sector and putting health and operational protocols in place for the safety of all tourists and employees.

These have been benchmarked against measures being rolled out globally, South African Tourism said.

Following industry-wide engagements, there has been a commitment by the South African government, led by President Ramaphosa and the private sector, to work towards a phased reopening of the sector, starting at Level 3.

Featured image: iStock/FiledIMAGE

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