Destinations

Destination Wrap: Join Thailand’s bite-sized webinars, WA’s $150m tourism injection + MORE

Check out all the latest news from destinations and tourism boards near and far, courtesy of Travel Weekly

Join Tourism Authority of Thailand on ‘Friday Morning with Amazing Thailand’

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is inviting travel agents to take part in a series of bite-sized webinars aiming at educating on what is happening in Thailand during the coronavirus pandemic.

The webinars will occur at 11 am (EST for the next six weeks), with agents encouraged to ask questions and participate in the quiz, to hopefully win some “amazing” prizes.

The first webinar begins on 14 August, when agents will hear how Thailand is coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, along with updates from key stakeholders.

Register here to join the first live webinar occurring this Friday, 14 August at 11am (EST).

WA Recovery Plan injects $150m into state’s tourism industry

Sugarloaf Rock, Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia (supplied).

The McGowan Government has made a $150 million investment to support Western Australia’s tourism sector as it responds to the impacts of COVID-19, as part of the ‘WA Recovery Plan’.

Many of the state’s natural icons are set to undergo major improvements, which will create a pipeline of jobs, help get people back into work and out visiting WA attractions, supporting local businesses.

Western Australia’s most natural attractions and tourism drawcards – including Kings Park, Margaret River, Karijini National Park, Monkey Mia, the Pinnacles, Rottnest Island and Ningaloo – are among “many” destinations to benefit from the $150 million package.

Key tourism attractions across the State will also be enhanced, with construction to begin on new visitor facilities, camp sites, trails, jetties, boardwalks, and other amenities and infrastructure.

The program further includes affordable airfare packages, enhancements for Aboriginal cultural tourism, road improvements for better access to destinations, and support to bring “unique” and “innovative” attractions to WA.

Queensland cheers for Ekka long weekend tourism bonanza

A dingo walking on Fraser Island’s 75-mile beach (source: iStock/DarrenTierney)

The Queensland government is celebrating news that regions including the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast and Southern Queensland country are all reporting “near full capacity” as a result of moving the traditional Ekka public holiday to this Friday, under the ‘Good to Go’ campaign.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said shifting the holiday and creating a new long weekend in southeast Queensland was aimed at helping tourism operators as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

“These long weekends pump millions of dollars into our economy,” the Premier said.

“By giving Queenslanders an extended break over the Ekka weekend, more, much-needed cash is being injected into thousands of struggling tourism businesses.”

The news comes as Tourism Whitsundays called for an “urgent” JobKeeper exemption to allow eligible tourism and hospitality businesses access to the program for new employees.

The Whitsundays’ tourism industry ordinarily has a high turnover rate of staff, many of which are transient, the regional tourism authority said.

“This has resulted in a significant number of tourism and hospitality employees leaving their jobs during the pandemic to return home to family or to take up roles in industries less affected by COVID 19,” it said.

Meanwhile, Tourism Tropical North Queensland has announced the appointment of new marketing manager Lani Strathearn to spearhead the rollout of the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef brand.

YouGov launches destination index tool that helps travel professional identify demand

YouGov has introduced YouGov DestinationIndex – a “revolutionary” tool providing travel professionals with relevant data from more than 120 tourist destinations across 25 markets.

“As the world is changing, now more than ever you need to understand travellers’ response to the change,” the company said.

“You are now able to track your destination the same way as a consumer brand and uncover data on your ideal traveller in real-time.”

YouGov DestinationIndex gives travel professionals the power to see what people really think of destinations, compare it to others, measure the value of partnerships and events, and recontact your ideal traveller.

With YouGov DestinationIndex, you can also identify potential demand for your destination by tracking its Consideration and Intention and start planning ahead of your competitors.

For more information, click here.

Singapore to force international travellers to wear electronic monitoring devices

Image source: iStock/Jui-Chi Chan

Singapore will force some returning travellers to wear electronic monitoring devices to ensure they abide by quarantine rules as the country begins to reopen its borders.

From today, incoming travellers, including returning citizens, from certain countries will be allowed to isolate for 14 days at home rather than a state-approved facility.

However, the condition of this is that they wear an electronic monitoring device, which uses Bluetooth and GPS signals.

Those aged 12 and below will be exempted from this requirement.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park reopened to visitors

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park reopened to visitors at 12pm on Thursday 6 August with the full support of the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation (MCAC).

Parks Australia continues to have measures in place at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to protect staff, visitors and the Mutitjulu community.

Ardent theme parks receive financial assistance from Queensland government

Ardent Leisure Group has announced that it has received financial assistance for its theme parks division under the Queensland government’s ‘COVID-19 Industry Support Package’ and ‘Queensland Tourism Icons Program 2020’.

The financial assistance package is for a three-year term totalling $69.9 million, comprising a secured loan of $66.9 million (which includes capitalised interest and fees) and a grant of $3 million, which can be used to fund working capital and approved capital expenditure.

The loan facility is mutually exclusive from the debt facility in place for Ardent’s US Main Event Entertainment business.

Plans announced for Northern Ireland’s first socially-distanced music festival

Irish singer-songwriter ROE will perform during the first weekend of Unlocked (source: Tourism Ireland)

The organisers behind one of the biggest annual music and arts events in Northern Ireland are hoping to deliver it as a world-first socially-distanced music festival in 2020.

The Stendhal Festival was forced to abandon its usual three-day event plans, but is now inviting festival lovers to get back out there to enjoy the experience of live music for the first time in months.

Should its socially-distanced event plans be granted the go-ahead, ‘Stendhal Festival Presents: Unlocked’ will become the first festival of its kind in the history of Northern Ireland.

Organisers are hopeful that Unlocked will take place over five weekends in August and September, with the first set of dates confirmed as 21 and 22 August 2020, and 28 and 29 August.

Each weekend will have a capacity of between 500 and 1,000 people, all subject to the government’s policy on mass gatherings at the time.

Agoda joins hands with Japan Tourism Agency campaign

Agoda has announced it will join the Japan Tourism Agency’s (JTA) ‘Go To’ travel subsidy campaign, ensuring travellers booking domestic travel on Agoda can benefit from it and make savings of 35 per cent (up to $185) per person per night on accommodation bookings at eligible hotels.

It comes after Agoda joined forces with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to support the US$482 billion (more than $692 billion) ‘TTogether’ stimulus project.

Sri Lankan election results positive for tourism sector: The Travel Concierge

Colombo, Sri Lanka (source: iStock/cinoby)

With a 70 per cent voter turnout, Sri Lanka successfully completed the postponed parliamentary election this week.

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) won 145 seats out of 225, which is almost a two-third majority of the parliament and this is the first time a single party has ever secured such a high number of seats.

Laahiru Jayamanne, executive director of The Travel Concierge Sri Lanka, stated that the result is a positive one for the country and inbound tourism.

“There will be a welcomed focus on kickstarting the economy with the tourism sector,” Jayamanne said.

“Finishing the northern highway to Sigiriya and Kandy and also opening Port City Colombo are priorities that will benefit travellers to Sri Lanka.”

On 269 hectares of reclaimed land, Port City Colombo is a brand new city development built as an extension of the CBD of the country’s commercial capital, Colombo.

The development is being heralded as South Asia’s most sustainable port, The Travel Concierge said, with modern premium urban living and many high-end hotel projects being priorities for completion.

Sign up for the final ‘I Love New York’ webinars for the chance to win a hamper

Long Island, New York State (source: iStock.com/cinoby)

New York State Division of Tourism (I Love New York) is calling on agents to sign up for the final two webinars in its month-long webinars’ series, for the chance to win a New York hamper.

Taking place at the updated time of 1pm (EST) on Thursday 6, August and Thursday 13, August, the sessions will give travel agents in-depth, insider information on the Hamptons and Long Island, and Hudson Valley and the Catskills.

Agents who complete all four webinars in the series will go into a draw to win a New York State hamper, packed full of treats inspired by the destination.

To register, click here. Once registered, agents will receive information on how to join the webinars.

Graceland launches new interactive experience to coincide with first-ever virtual Elvis Week

Coinciding with the kick-off of the first-ever Virtual Elvis Week, Graceland launched 10 new state-of-the-art and immersive experiences at the Elvis Presley’s Memphis Complex.

Dozens of interactive, shareable moments allow guests to get closer to Elvis than ever before via virtual and augmented reality technology.

New added experiences will include things such as the Eras of Elvis Game, ‘Elvis Yourself’ Virtual Dress Up Experience, ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ AR Serenade and Elvis: Front Row, to name a few.

The announcement comes on the heels of Graceland releasing their plans for a modified Elvis Week, including the announcement of the first-ever Virtual Elvis Week.

The virtual schedule of events allow fans from around the world to participate in Elvis Week from the comfort of their homes.

Dive into National Science Week with SEA LIFE

A Short-tail stingray (also known as a Smooth stingray) at SEA LIFE Aquarium (source: supplied)

National Science Week is taking place from 15 to 23 August and SEA LIFE Aquariums across Australia and New Zealand are diving into the action.

With the expertise to bring the 2020 theme of ‘Deep Blue: innovations for the future of our oceans’ to life, SEA LIFE will present free educational activities and live video content throughout the week.

As part of National Science Week’s annual celebration of science and technology featuring more than 1,000 events, SEA LIFE will help students discover why sand is such an important part of the marine environment.

For further information, visit Merlin’s Education Toolbox and National Science Week.

Norfolk Island declares NSW, the ACT coronavirus hotspots

Norfolk Island has declared all of New South Wales and the ACT as coronavirus hotspots, following the lead of the Queensland government.

The territory will also continue to maintain that entry passes be denied to all who have been in Victoria in the past 14 days.

This includes denying an entry pass to returning residents and essential personnel.

Switzerland shares top winery experiences

Winery Schloss Salenegg (source: Switzerland Tourism)

Wine and history lovers heading over to Switzerland in the future will be pleased to discover the country’s lesser-known wine experiences, set in the grounds of some of the country’s most enchanting castles, including Winery Schloss Salenegg.

Dating back to 950AD, the Winery Schloss Salenegg in the Canton of Graubünden is one of Europe’s oldest wineries.

Producing award-winning wines since 1968, the von Gugelberg family who owns the estate blends traditional winemaking processes with modern methods.

Their famed Pinot Noir, for example, is mashed and fermented for 10 days in steel tanks before being transferred to traditional wooden barrels to develop character.

The castle’s location, Maienfeld, famous as the setting for Johanna Spyri’s Heidi, is just over 1hr by train from Zurich.

For more information on the country’s historic wineries, click here.

Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority hosts agent hike

Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority hosted an agent hike at Springbrook National Park, Queensland, in early August, led by Aidan Grimes from Our Spirit to help keep the industry active, inspired, and connected while travel restrictions are still in place.

Grimes, who has walked the Kokoda track more than 120 times, provided agents with insight into what walking the eight-day trek is like and relayed many stories from his experiences on the track and from his travels throughout Papua New Guinea.

The group of 19 agents, suppliers and industry friends thoroughly enjoyed the experience, according to Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority, which plans on hosting the hike each month moving forward.

Contact Holly@example.com.au for further information if you are interested in taking part.

Hikes will be in different locations throughout Brisbane and the Gold Coast.


Featured image source: iStock/martinhosmart

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