You might think we’re pulling your leg, but this week’s wrap is 100 per cent good news for destinations. Praise be!
WA creates $14.4m funding package for tourism industry
The McGowan government has launched a multimillion-dollar recovery package to support small tourism operators across the state, to adapt and refocus their businesses in the COVID-19 landscape.
With some regional travel and other restrictions being cautiously eased from Monday, as part of the WA Roadmap, the state government’s Tourism Recovery Program will “enable tourism operators to prepare for a staged return to business” in a new environment.
The $14.4 million initiative includes two funding programs, with an initial $10.4 million in one-off cash grants for up to 1,600 individual small businesses around the state.
The $6,500 grants will provide immediate support to eligible tourism operators with annual taxable wages of less than $1 million, including accommodation, attraction, tour and transport businesses.
The second, the $4 million ‘Tourism Business Survival Grants’ package, will be available for tourism operators dealing with exceptionally difficult circumstances, with grants of $25,000 to $100,000 available.
Tourism Malaysia appoints new Sydney director
Tourism Malaysia has appointed Tuan Razali Tuan Omar as the new director of its Sydney office.
Tuan Razali joins after 25 years with Tourism Malaysia, and has undertaken a diverse range of roles in tourism promotions across Europe, the United States, the Middle East, South East Asia and domestic markets.
He has held senior roles in international marketing, special interest unit, special events, research, advertising and domestic promotions for Tourism Malaysia, and spearheaded its Dubai office over the course of five years.
SATC welcomes back locals with eased intrastate travel restrictions
To celebrate travel restrictions easing in South Australia, the South Australian Tourism Commission has released a playful ‘20 to 1’ countdown video featuring some of South Australia’s most well-known faces and supporters.
From the likes of celebrity chef, Gary Mehigan, to past and present sporting legends, international artist Hans, along with SA’s media personalities and tourism operators, the video culminates in the South Australian Premier and Tourism Minister, Steven Marshall, welcoming intra-state visitors back to South Australia’s beautiful tourism regions.
South Australian can now stay overnight in a range of unique accommodation options, including caravan parks and campgrounds, and make the most of outdoor dining in cafes and restaurants (following social distancing guidelines).
Among those to open is Wilpena Pound Resort, located in the heart of the Flinders Ranges – an ideal spot for road trips, which is expected to be popular with South Australians keen to hike, camp and four-wheel drive.
The resort’s management team has put in place several measures to ensure the health and safety of its guests, including allocating powered campsites, limiting the number of campers to four per booking, and encouraging online bookings.
Further measures include pre-booking of communal areas, encouraging cleanliness in bathrooms and requiring guests to sign a health declaration form on arrival at the campground.
Frankie the porcupine visits the giraffes at Memphis Zoo
We love how curious our giraffes are. ?The real question is does Frankie notice he’s being watched or he notices but doesn't care. What do you think? ?#bringingthezootoyou #closedbutstillcaring
Posted by Memphis Zoo on Tuesday, 5 May 2020
While travellers are unable to travel or visit Memphis Zoo for themselves, the team have been busy keeping those at home up to date, and sharing behind-the-scenes footage from the zoo and virtual animal encounters.
As part of this, Memphis Zoo recently captured video of one of its porcupines named Frankie going for a leisurely walk through the empty zoo.
While on his walk, the video shows Frankie gaining quite the team of spectators as he passes by a group of curious giraffes.
As he walks by the giraffe exhibit, seemingly unaware of all the attention he is receiving, the giraffes can be seen following Frankie along and tilting their heads to try and capture a glimpse of the animal passing by.
Sunshine Coast offers ‘A Taste of Escape’ with new sensory marketing
Visit Sunshine Coast is launching an innovative new campaign to inspire future travel to the Sunshine Coast in anticipation of a significant relaxation of travel guidelines across Queensland after 12 June.
‘A Taste of Escape’ uses state-of-the-art ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response’ techniques to provide sensory sensations through a wide range of sounds that capture the “essence” and “richness” of the Sunshine Coast’s experiences and attractions, Visit Sunshine Coast said.
Sounds captured include beaches, everglades, wilderness, and some of the region’s famous attractions to provide a ‘taste’ of what the destination offers and to inspire overnight stays following relaxation of travel restrictions from 12 June.
For more information about the campaign, click here.
Agents invited on a ‘Swiss-capade’
To keep the Swiss alpine dream alive, Switzerland Tourism is inviting agents on a ‘Swiss-capade’ via a series of live webinars, where generous spot prizes will be up for grabs along the way.
Taking place bi-weekly, agents will have the chance to not only hear from, but also interact with key partners from Zurich, Basel, Lucerne, Interlaken, the Jungfrau Region and Jungfrau Railways, the Schilthorn (aka James Bond Mountain), Zermatt, and the Swiss Travel System.
Agents can expect to hear about product updates and new developments, as well as crucial advice on Switzerland’s recovery plan over the next couple of years.
Starting 19 May and ending 9 June, the webinars will run from 3pm AEST for a maximum of 30 minutes per session.
Agents are also advised that while the webinars will be recorded for replays, only live participants will be able to win the prize giveaways. Prizes to be won include Victorinox backpacks, Victorinox toiletry bags and Victorinox table knives.
Agents can head here to register.
Slow down with Los Cabos Tourism Board
The Los Cabos Tourism Board has been working with a facilitator of music therapy to develop 15 different online meditation sessions, using the sounds of nature to encourage emotional stability for all those who need it.
The 15-minute sessions include sounds of water, the desert, rivers, wood, wind and more combined with ancestral, classical and baroque music.
According to the tourism board, the program was created to be applied Monday to Friday for a three week cycle, best employed in the morning when you wake up or right before bed to encourage balance and positive energy into the work week.
The program is completely free, available in both English and Spanish and accessible to everyone here.
In Los Cabos, Mexico, connection to land and a love of nature are two of the most prominent contributions to the wellness of the Baja people. Los Cabos Tourism hopes the experience will shed similar light to those around the world who need it during this time.
Learn happiness skills from the happiest people in the world
‘Rent a Finn goes Virtual’ is a new social media initiative that lets people in on the Finnish way of life and daily routines for feeling happier, while staying at home and dreaming about their next trip.
The campaign picks up from Visit Finland’s global ‘Rent a Finn’ campaign launched in 2019. In addition to the live stream series that will showcase how to eat with a Finn, relax with a Finn or be active with a Finn, you can apply for an exclusive one-to-one session with ‘virtual happiness guides’.
For more information, click here.
‘Bula spirit’ remains strong in Fiji during COVID-19
Tourism Fiji is reminding the world of the power of the ‘Bula spirit’.
In Fiji, ‘Bula’ is more than just a greeting. It is a wish for happiness, good health, and the energy of life. Fijians are known for being rich with the ‘Bula spirit’ and their desire to help through acts of kindness and generosity.
As such, Fijians are sharing this spirit in several ways, including the establishment of a barter service, Barter for Better Fiji, which was started during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way for Fijians who are now short on cash to still collect items they need.
Almost 15 per cent of the entire country are now using the platform.
Janet Lotawa, co-founder and director of Rise Beyond the Reef, has turned her non-profit organisation that helps Fijians become income earners through community made crafts (tote bags, rugs, jewellery) to now make affordable fabric protective face shields for communities and organisations.
Lotawa is also distributing to families in need so that medical-grade masks remain available for their healthcare workers, as this supply is extremely limited.
Likewise, Five Marriott International Fiji Resorts – The Westin Denarau Fiji Resort & Spa, Sheraton Fiji Resort, Sheraton Denarau Villas, Sheraton Tokariki and Marriott Momi Bay Fiji – have teamed together to set up the “Solia Lesu” (Fijian for “Give Back”) by Marriott giveback foundation.
The Resorts are working together to provide meals to their staff and communities, giving interest free FJ$100 per week loans to staff and donating mattresses and linen for mandated quarantine areas.
In addition, Kiwi brothers Steve and Nick Darling who run VoliVoli Beach Resort and Ra Divers in the Suncoast have started a diving internship programme to help shape the lives of locals in Rakiraki.
During curfew and social distancing regulations to help Fiji combat COVID-19, The Pearl Pacific Resort is offering free accommodation for Police Special Response Units in the Pacific Harbour region.
Join AWS in supporting the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit
African Wildlife Safaris (AWS) is encouraging travellers and travel professionals to consider donating to the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU).
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, conservation groups that depend on tourism revenue are facing pressure to continue operations, with the threat extending to VFAP.
A long-time supporter of the VFAPU, African Wildlife Safaris has raised $134,647 for the organisation, with its last donation of approximately $1,785 made on 27 April 2020.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help raise vital funds for the VFAPU. To donate, click here. Please note that donations made are in US dollars.
Featured image: iStock/sara_winter