Destination Wrap: LA launches trade page, Spanish tourism board’s new Australian director + MORE

Downtown Los Angeles skyline with snow capped mountains behind at sunset

In the dark after a weekend away from travel news? Check back in with this breakdown of the latest destination updates.

LA Tourism Board launches new trade social media page

Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board has launched a new Facebook page dedicated to the travel trade.

The new trade communication tool has been designed to help the Australian travel trade stay up to date on the city of Los Angeles and LAX Airport.

The page will be updated frequently with important health and safety information on LAX Airport procedures as well as hotel and attraction re-openings, as LA moves forward with its re-opening efforts.

Australian agents who follow the page will also be able to win prizes and receive special promotional offers in the months to come. To join-up, click here.

Spanish tourism board appoints new Australian director

The Spain Tourism Board has appointed Monica Sanchez to head its office in Singapore as the new director in charge of Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Sanchez has more than 25 years of experience in tourism, branding, market research, and public management. She has also held various leadership and cabinet-level positions within the tourism board of Spain— both in America as well as in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism’s headquarters in Madrid.

She has also served as chief of staff for successive Directors General of the Spanish government’s official tourism organisation, Turespaña, as well as for the Secretary General for tourism.

Queensland Tourism Minister announces retirement from politics

Kate Jones, Queensland’s Tourism and Development Minister, has announced her retirement from politics.

Jones made the announcement on the last sitting day of Parliament before the October state election.

“It has been a very rewarding and humbling journey for me, with all the highs and lows that political life can throw at you,” Jones told Parliament, as reported by ABC News.

“I would like to thank everyone who has guided me and influenced me along the way.”

Destination Gold Coast chairman Paul Donovan said Jones had been a champion for the Gold Coast.

“The city has been hit for six this year but she’s been in there batting for us where she could,” he said.

“It is a sad day but I’m sure her decision, which is obviously based on being with her husband, Paul and the kids, is the right decision for her at this time.

“I’m shocked and saddened because Kate’s not only been a fantastic minister but she’s a wonderful person and she’s been an unbelievable advocate for our city.”

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers secured for five more years

In other Queensland news, one of the state’s most iconic festivals has been secured for another five years in a deal which further assists tourism recovery in Queensland.

Now in its 71st year, the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers was attended by more than 160,000 people in 2019, pumping more than $20 million into the local economy, the Queensland government said.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the deal between Tourism and Events Queensland and Toowoomba Regional Council guaranteed the future of Australia’s longest-running floral event.

Tourism Australia shares 101 ways to holiday in Australia

Tourism Australia has shared its guide to holidaying in Australia, to assist travellers and travel professionals in planning their next local getaway.

“Each year, millions of people from across the globe make the trip to Australia on their dream trip,” Tourism Australia said.

“And those experiences they’re dreaming of? They’re right in your backyard.

“It’s time to go explore Australia’s world-famous destinations – and the unforgettable sights and experiences that come with them.”

To learn more, click here.

NSW stadiums to benefit from increased capacity

Based on updated health advice, major sporting events at selected Sydney stadiums can increase crowds from 25 per cent to 50 per cent capacity (up to a maximum of 40,000 spectators) from 1 October 2020.

The NSW Government has announced Stadium Australia and Bankwest Stadium have supplied detailed COVIDSafe plans, which will allow the venues to host ticketed and seated-only events with increased crowds.

The SCG has also provided detailed plans and these are currently being reviewed by NSW Health.

Furthermore, from Monday, theatres, cinemas and concert halls across NSW will be able to increase capacity up to 50 per cent.

The relaxed restrictions will mean corporate events and function centres can host up to 300 people.

Venues can only increase capacity following the one person per four square metre rule, while theatres, cinemas and concert halls can sell seated tickets at 50 per cent capacity, to a maximum of 1,000 tickets.

Entertainment venues must have COVID Safety Plans in place and follow the public health orders, the NSW government said.

Greece urged by 160,000+ people to stop cruel donkey ‘taxi’ rides on Santorini

Over 160,000 supporters of PETA and its international affiliates, including PETA Australia, have signed petitions calling for an end to donkey and mule tourist rides in Santorini, Greece.

PETA Germany supporters held a protest in front of the Greek Embassy in Berlin featuring an activist riding a “bleeding” toy donkey, with protesters pointing out that Greece’s suffering tourism industry has an opportunity for positive change.

“If the country doesn’t wish to be regarded as a holiday destination that tramples on animal welfare and profits from animal suffering, the government needs to ban the cruel rides and allow the animals to ‘social distance’ from tourists for life,” PETA said.

A PETA Germany eyewitness investigation revealed that donkeys and mules are used as “taxis” in Santorini’s scorching heat, and are forced to transport tourists up more than 500 steep steps to the old town of Firá, even though a cable car has been operating nearby for decades.

According to PETA, many animals were tethered in the sun without access to water or shade – and some were forced to continue working at night, hauling bags of rubbish.

A new law passed last year prevents owners from burdening their donkeys with weights exceeding 100 kilograms, even though, according to veterinary recommendations, donkeys shouldn’t carry more than 20 per cent of their body weight – approximately 50 kilograms.

What’s more, many animals stumble – often after being beaten with a stick by a handler – endangering nearby tourists who are on foot, PETA said.

Duty Free extended to the EU from January 2021

British passengers travelling to EU countries will be able to take advantage of duty-free shopping from January 2021, bringing the United Kingdom’s approach to the EU in line with the rest of the world.

This means that passengers will be able to buy duty-free alcohol and tobacco products, where available, in British ports, airports, and international train stations, and aboard ships, trains and planes.

This follows a consultation with industry on the UK’s approach to taxing goods carried across borders for personal use from January 2021, as the end of the transition period brings with it powers for the country to set its own rules in this area.

Post-pandemic vision for a 24-hour city

The City of Sydney is working with the NSW government on a vision to create a 24-hour alfresco city that will support Sydney’s recovery from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The city’s community recovery plan focusses on the need to reactivate the city centre and local precincts with outdoor dining and bars, late night trading, live music, and cultural institutions staying open in the evening.

According to a press release, the city and the government will work to “cut red tape” and create a streamlined process that will make it easier than ever before for businesses to take up outdoor dining in reclaimed spaces and laneways.

Under the new plans, associated outdoor dining fees will also be waived until March 2021.

The news comes as the NSW government revealed it will contribute $1 million to help the City of Sydney create an additional 9,000-square-metres of public space for pedestrians in the CBD.

Post-COVID-19 travel marketing to feature local food heroes

Planet Happiness, which promotes and measures destination wellbeing and movement towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals in tourism sites, has teamed up with Taste of Happiness to boost food tourism when travel returns.

The Taste of Happiness media production initiative aims to spotlight local people engaged in culinary crafts.

Through a series of 12-minute branded videos, Taste of Happiness will present destinations’ culinary crafts and traditional recipes. It will intertwine content with local culture and evocative landscapes. Chefs, food and drink artisans, farmers and winemakers will be featured.

HTA responds to state’s decision to start the pre-travel testing program on 15 October

Hawaii Governor David Ige has announced that the State of Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program will start on 15 October 2020, giving travellers arriving from out of the state an alternative to the 14-day mandatory self-quarantine.

“Hawaii will start its pre-travel testing program for COVID-19 on October 15, enabling travellers to avoid quarantine if they take the test within a 72-hour period prior to their arrival and test negative,” he said.

“We have agreements in place with CVS and Kaiser Permanente, who will offer the tests, and we will announce new testing partners in the coming weeks.”

In response to the announcement, John De Fries, the new president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) said: “The governor’s announcement aligns well with the fact that Hawaii’s visitor industry has established protocols to ensure the safety of our residents and workforce, while also welcoming back pre-tested guests safely.”

Initially the pre-travel testing program was scheduled to begin on 1 August. Hawaii’s trans-Pacific quarantine has been in effect since 26 March as a way to help control the spread of COVID-19.

The Hawaii Department of Health is in charge of the pre-travel testing program.

Memorial opens exhibition about tattoos in the military: Ink in the Lines

Ink in the Lines at Australian War Memorial (source: AWM)

A new exhibition that relates personal stories and experiences of Australian veterans through the use of tattoos, Ink in the Lines, is now on display at the Australian War Memorial.

Ink in the Lines features more than 70 portraits and details the experiences of 21 Australian servicemen and servicewomen.

It is thought to be the first exhibition in Australia to examine the use of tattoos in the military.

Throughout 2019, Memorial photographic curator Stephanie Boyle, photographer Bob McKendry, and videographer Stephen Toaldo captured oral history interviews and portrait photography documenting the stories of servicemen and servicewomen and their tattoos.

Many of the images and stories that were collected also form part of the Ink in the Lines exhibition.

Beluga whales take first swim in new sanctuary

The SEA LIFE Trust is pleased to confirm that beluga whales Little Grey and Little White have taken their first swim in their open water sanctuary home in Iceland.

Little Grey and Little White were released for the first time to fully explore the natural surroundings of the wider sanctuary at Klettsvik Bay on Heimaey, one of the Westman Islands off the south coast of Iceland.

The whales have been making good progress since moving to their bayside care pools in August and Little Grey and Little White’s first swim out in the wider bay is part of a carefully managed welfare program to help introduce the whales gradually into their much larger sanctuary home.

Led by their expert care team, the ‘Little Steps’ program will see the whales continue to be introduced to the bay and return to the sea sanctuary care pools over a short period of time while their health and wellbeing is assessed and monitored on a daily basis.

The bay is approximately 32,000-square-metres with a depth of up to 10 metres –equivalent to the size of 17 tennis courts.

Outdoor sculpture exhibition launches at Q Station in Manly

Q Station sculpture by Tania McMurty (source: supplied)

Q Station in Manly will be the host of the inaugural ‘Les Sculptures Refusées’, an outdoor sculpture exhibition modelled on The Archibald Prize’s Salon de Refusés, which exhibits works which missed out on the Archibald.

The open-air exhibition is a new opportunity for the local community to experience creations by some of Australia’s best sculptors, with most situated by the property’s Pier and Quarantine Beach.

From 15 October–19 November 2020, Les Sculptures Refusées will be open to all with free entry.

Q Station’s G&Tea House will be operating from Friday to Sunday and serving tea-infused gin and tonic cocktails alongside sweet and savoury High Tea options, while live Sunset Sessions will be happening on the lawns every Saturday from 4pm to 6pm.

Sydney operators stand together for World Tourism Day

On World Tourism Day (26 September 2020), leading NSW operators across the attraction, accommodation, hospitality, and leisure industry united in a bid to encourage visitors back into the Sydney CBD in time for the September school holidays.

The Sydney Visitor Collective is made up of a group of industry leaders from attractions such as Sydney Opera House, BridgeClimb Sydney, Taronga Zoo Sydney and SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, as well as representation from the hospitality and harbour transport sectors.

SATC shares 10 incredible experiences you’ve been missing

Dive with giant cuttlefish in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula (source: SATC)

Following the announcement that South Australia has opened its borders with NSW, the South Australian Tourism Commission has pulled together some of the best ‘eat, play, stay’ experiences.

  1. Swim with Giant Cuttlefish and dive with Great White Sharks in the Eyre Peninsula
  2. Shuck and eat fresh oysters whilst wading through Coffin Bay
  3. Plunge into a secluded sinkhole at Little Blue Lake on the Limestone Coast
  4. Go Ballooning over the Barossa Valley
  5. Meander the Murray and stay the night on a houseboat
  6. Sleep 25 metres below the red earth in Coober Pedy
  7. Experience Adelaide’s stunning sunsets on the Adelaide Oval Roof Climb
  8. 4WD the rugged terrain of the Flinder’s Ranges and Outback
  9. Blend your own wine and dine on a degustation at the famous d’Aranberg Cube
  10. Walk on water at the Salt Lake of Lake Gairdner.

“Where the Fakarava is that?”: underwater photo from Tahitian island gains acclaim

‘Under Water. The night shift’ (source: ©Laurent Ballesta/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

The little known Tahitian island of Fakarava has been thrust into the spotlight, thanks to a stunning photo in this year’s ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ competition and exhibition.

Making it onto the list of ‘Highly Commended’ photos, ‘Under Water. The night shift’ was taken by Laurent Ballesta beneath the waves on the remote coral atoll of Fakarava.

Ballesta’s image captures the stirring of huge molluscs—that form the subject of the shot—which emerge at night to feed on coral rubble and algal pavements.

Known in inner circles as a diving heaven, Fakarava’s wall of sharks has been an attraction for divers for many years, and the passing predator in Ballesta’s shot is evidence of the active shark population in the region.

Vanuatu Tourism Office launches Vanuatu Moments webinar series

The Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) has announce the launch of a four-part webinar series. Developed to give agents a deeper insight into the islands, the series will highlight the new and most well-loved Vanuatu experiences, giving agents the tools to best sell the destination once international travel resumes.

The first session will give agents essential background information about Vanuatu and the destination’s unique selling points, with subsequent sessions exploring specific islands, with insights on how to book key experiences.

The series launches at the end of September and includes sessions on:

  • 29 September: Top 20 Vanuatu moments – a reintroduction to the destination with information on the top things to do and see
  • 6 October: Port Vila and Efate – an overview of the best holiday moments on the main island of Efate, including the must-see spots in Port Vila, the top snorkelling spots on the Havannah Coast and general information on how to book day trips from the capital
  • 13 October: Espiritu Santo and the Champagne Coast – an in-depth guide to five experiences on Vanuatu’s largest island, including visits to the famous blue holes and Champagne Beach
  • 20 October: Tanna and the Outer Islands – a recap of the key cultural and active experiences available on Tanna and the outer islands, including Pentecost, Ambrym, Malekula and the Banks. The webinar will include information on how to coordinate a visit to a local village and a tour of the world’s most accessible volcano, Mount Yasur, as well as top tips for getting to the outer islands and info on when to visit for events like the renowned ‘Nagol’ land diving on Pentecost.

To sign up to the Vanuatu Moments webinars and be in for a chance to win a trip to Vanuatu, agents need to complete and submit this form.

Opportunity to win Tourism Solomons ‘Ear Saver’

Having been inundated with requests from travel agents looking to snare one of its branded ‘ear-savers’, Tourism Solomons is again offering the opportunity to win a set.

And as with the previous promotion, winning is a cinch.

All consultants have to do is email Tourism Solomons’ marketing representative, Richard Skewes at and tell him one interesting or fun fact they have learned about the Solomon Islands.

As an obscure but interesting example, not many people know that the Spanish introduced chickens to the Solomon Islands when they landed there in 1568.

Entries need to include consultants’ names, agency and postal address and must be received by COB on 2 October 2020, when names will be placed into a draw (only one entry per person) and randomly drawn until stocks run out.

Norfolk Island to ease restrictions for ACT travellers

From 1 October, Norfolk Island will remove its existing blanket 14-day quarantine for NSW and ACT travellers, Provided there are no major changes associated with risk of coronavirus infection from these areas.

The existing ban for travellers from Victoria will remain and be reviewed when the risk from this state is also regarded as ‘low’.

Featured image source: iStock/choness

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