Tony Charters and Associates

Edition 78 - July 2014

Circulated to 18,000 Professionals Worldwide

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Happiness Blanket

British Airways is testing a new hi-tech blanket which changes colour using brainwave to ensure it offers customers the best flight's sleep in the sky. The 'happiness blanket' which is woven with fibre optics uses neuro-sensors to measure a person's brainwaves and changes colour from red to blue to show when they're at their most relaxed and meditative. The airline hopes monitoring a person's sleep and relaxation patterns during a flight will improve aspects of the in-flight service from changing the timing of meals, to what food is served and even the types of films shown.

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Walmart Travel Club

Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores has launched Sam's Club Travel, an online booking service to serve the business and leisure travel needs of its members. It has partnered with Florida-based travel wholesaler Tourico Holidays a worldwide leader in innovative travel services, to allow Sam's Club members to select their choice of destination or vacation package from a range of 4,500 destinations, 90,000 hotels, 150 airlines, 18 car rental brands and 13 cruise lines worldwide. It also provides TripAdvisor reviews, real time price comparisons, instant member and secure booking services.

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Carbon Conservation

Virgin Australia is expanding its carbon offset program, Fly Carbon Neutral, by launching a new partnership with the Tasmanian Land Conservancy. Established in 2001, the Tasmanian Land Conservancy is a not-for-profit environmental organisation which actively manages over 30,000 hectares of land annually for nature conservation. All domestic and international customers will now have the option when booking online to neutralise the emissions of their flights by directly supporting the reserves protecting Tasmania's rare and threatened species of plants and animals.

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Hotel Tax Refund Incentive

The Korean government has implemented a new tax refund policy on hotel stays in Korea effective until the end of April 2015 to attract more overseas visitors. The incentive policy is applicable to only foreign independent travellers who stay in a VAT tax refund certified hotel for a total of more than two nights and less than 30. The tax refund service is only available at Incheon, Gimpo, Gimhae Jeju Airports and both major cruise ports of Incheon and Busan. Hotels involved in the tax refund scheme range from one star to five star properties in major cities and regional areas.

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Caravan and Camping Laws

The Western Australian State Government has released a consultation paper on the proposed changes to the existing 16-year-old caravan park and camping ground laws. The changes will provide a more flexible operating environment creating choice for consumers and opportunities for operators, campers, caravan users and long-stay tenants. The changes are part of the $21.05 million Parks for People initiative which will provide more high-quality, low-cost holiday options for families and tourists including 450 new campsites created in 16 national parks.

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Play Malaysia

The Malaysia Golf Tourism Association has taken another major step in its five-year strategy to increase the number of visitors travelling to the country for the primary purpose of playing golf with the launch of its new Play Malaysia Golf logo and website. The new website provides travellers with options of playing golf in the cities, on tropical islands and in forested highlands. The campaign aims to attract first-time golf visitors to the country by letting well-known professional golfers and celebrities do the talking.

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Natural Park

New Caledonia is now home to the largest nature preserve on Earth, Le Parc Naturel de la Mer de Corail or 'the natural park of the Coral Sea'. Creation of the newly established sanctuary was an exemplary decision by the Government of New Caledonia to protect its natural wealth and create the world's largest protected area on land and sea. Covering more than 1.3 million square kilometres, the marine park is larger than Alaska and three times the size of Germany. It contains around 450,000 hectares of coral reefs, 25 species of marine mammals, 48 shark species, 19 species of nesting birds and five species of sea turtles.

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Marry Me in Seattle

Visit Seattle has launched a new national travel advertising campaign to promote Seattle as a destination for LGBTQ marriage. The 'Marry Me in Seattle' campaign will appear in national LGBTQ travel and lifestyle media and include an innovative sweepstakes for engaged couples to win hosted trips and weddings in the emerald city. The website will also feature a wedding resource guide that includes more than 30 Seattle romance packages, transportation, wedding music and DJs, florists, photographers, venues and catering companies.

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Culinary Guide

Brand USA, the destination marketing organisation for the United States is launching a new guide aimed at promoting gastro-tourism and showcasing the U.S. as a top culinary destination for world travellers. The Department of the State's Diplomatic Culinary Partnership collaborated with Brand USA to produce the guide in six languages, backed by a social media campaign in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. The guide features 31 James Beard affiliated chefs with recipes from all regions and Q&A sessions.

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Natural Australia

Tourism Australia is hoping to inspire more travellers to connect with Australia's nature with a new travel app which showcases some of the country's best nature-based experiences. Developed by the Australian Traveller magazine, the app covers around 200 different products and experiences that can be enjoyed across 16 of Australia's natural landscapes including the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics, Tasmania, the Kimberley, Flinders Ranges and Kangaroo Island.

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Indigenous Product Development

The Western Australia State Government has announced funding of $4.6 million over four years for Aboriginal tourism product development. With over 70 Aboriginal tourism experiences offered in Western Australia, the increased funding will assist with the development of the sector which is acknowledged as a key focus of the Western Australian Tourism Strategy.

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Whale Trail

The Legendary Pacific Coast has recruited the expertise of tourism and cruise specialists from the Central Coast to the Tweed to compile a comprehensive new Whale Trail. The Legendary Pacific Coast Whale Trail plots 50 whale watching highlights on land and sea, details each location and tour operator and provides contact details to learn more by phone, email or web.

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Child Exploitation in Tourism

The UNWTO and World Vision East Asia Regional Office have signed a memorandum of understanding forging a partnership aimed at fighting the exploitation of children in the tourism sector. It aims to enhance collaboration in working to protect children from exploitation, trafficking and abuse including the promotion of tools, good practices and case studies to support child protection in tourism. The initiatives are geared to inform travellers on the actions they can take to protect children and young people from abuse in tourism destinations.

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Future of Travel Report

Skyscanner has come up with some futuristic predictions for airports in its latest 'Future of Travel' report including automated check-in and even greater use of technology. The report finds that the future will see a completely automated airport experience which will get rid of the need to wait in check-in queues and passengers possessing digital luggage tags and suitcases pre-coded with flight details and destinations. The aesthetic of airports is also predicted to change with open buildings housing open-air parks and pools.

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Travel Disruption

Abacus International has released a report 'The Root Causes of Travel Disruption' which highlights that natural phenomena including disasters and severe weather conditions have emerged as the largest source of travel disruption globally. The report found that the repercussions of human-made disruptions were much greater than those from natural events because they evolved into other alerts as they escalated. All human-made political and security related events accounted for four in every 10 alerts throughout the year in 2013.

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Adventure Travel Industry Snapshot

The Adventure Travel Trade Association has released the 2014 Industry Snapshot, a comprehensive health check of the adventure travel industry created by surveying several hundred tour operators in 69 countries. The research includes up-to-date information about trending destinations, activities and industry business practices.

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Sustainability Leadership Awards

The Daintree Discovery Centre took out the category for Sustainability Leadership at the recent United Nations World Environment Day Awards. The centre is located 10 kilometres north of the Daintree River in North Queensland and allows visitors easy access to one of the few remaining unspoiled pockets of lowland rainforest via a 23 metre high canopy tower, 10 metre high aerial walkway, a large indoor display centre and climate change displays. They also have an ongoing partnership with James Cook University in carbon offset and biosequestration.

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Jetwing Vil Uyana Takes Out 2014 PATA Gold Award

The PATA Grand Awards are presented to outstanding entries in four principal categories: Marketing; Education and Training; Environment; and Heritage and Culture.

The Environmental Award will be presented to Jetwing Vil Uyana, Sri Lanka, for its "Man and Nature in Perfect Harmony" project. Jetwing Vil Uyana embodies the ultimate in eco-friendly luxury - a private nature reserve created on abandoned agricultural land, comprising a wetland eco-system with lakes, reed beds, and forest. 30 luxurious dwellings are integrated into a wetland reserve of three acres despite the property spanning 24 acres. Paddy is grown on five acres of land using traditional harvesting methods with dwellings set within the paddy field - a first in Sri Lanka – and the entire property is now home to many species of flora and fauna, including the elusive loris, for whom a separate area of three acres has been designated as a loris conservation site.

Tony Charters visited Vil Uyana as a verification judge of the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards just a few months ago. Vil Uyana subsequently took out a Tourism for Tomorrow Award at the World Tourism Summit in Hainan. "This is another richly deserved award for Jetwing and their pioneering ecotourism work in Sri Lanka," Tony Charters said.

Mr. Martin J. Craigs, PATA CEO, added, "On behalf of PATA, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to all 2014 Grand and Gold Award winners. We are pleased to recognise their achievements at the PATA Gold Awards Luncheon and Presentation and look forward to celebrating their accomplishments at the PATA Travel Mart in Phnom Penh."

PATA will present 28 Grand and Gold Awards to such organisations as Capilano University, Canada; Garuda Indonesia; Khiri Travel; Korea Tourism Organisation; and Travel + Leisure magazine. The awards luncheon and presentation will take place at Diamond Island City Hall, on Friday, September 19, 2014 during the PATA Travel Mart, September 17-19 and PATA Executive Board and Board Meeting, September 19 - 21.


Tourism Matters

The World Travel and Tourism Council have launched a new campaign to change the negative perception of a career working in the travel and tourism industry. The campaign is based on research which shows opportunities in travel and tourism may assist in addressing youth unemployment and gender inequality issues in countries across the world. People are being asked to create their own 15 second video explaining why they love working in the industry and what career opportunities are available. These can then be uploaded to Instagram for a chance to win a range of prizes to spend on travel events.

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National Landscapes Forum 2014

The 2014 National Landscapes Forum will be held in the Flinders Ranges from 19 - 21 August 2014. Hosted by Tourism Australia and Parks Australia, the two-day workshop allows the National Landscapes Steering Committee representatives to meet, share ideas and contribute to the future direction of the National Landscapes Program.

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Cruise Down Under Conference

The 18th annual Cruise Down Under Conference will be held at Crown Perth, Western Australia from 3 - 5 September 2014. The conference will provide industry with a better understanding of the continuously expanding cruise market. It is supported by Tourism Western Australia, Experience Perth, Fremantle Ports and the City of Fremantle.

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Accessible Tourism Conference

The UNWTO and the Government of the Republic of San Marino will jointly organise the first UNWTO European Conference on accessible tourism in San Marino on 19 November 2014. The conference will be addressing how to maintain and develop quality, sustainability and competitiveness in accessible tourism. Policies and measures to promote universal accessibility in tourism will be at the centre of the conference.

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Taman Negara Pahang

By Marzieh Fallah - Malaysian Correspondent

Among more than 30 national parks in Malaysia, Taman Negara Pahang, with total area of 4,343 km², is the biggest one. Indeed, it is one of the world's oldest tropical rainforests, estimated to be more than 130 million years old. Its rich biodiversity, 10,000 species of plants, 300 species of mammals, 300 species of fish and 250 species of birds made it a noble destination for nature lovers. Taman Negara along with other national parks is under the protection and management of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) in peninsular Malaysia.

There are variety of activities in the park, like wildlife observation, rapid shooting, fishing, cave explorations, a canopy walk, and visiting the Orang Asli. Orang Asli are the local natives who principally have a nomadic lifestyle in Taman Negara. Tourists can watch how they use traditional methods to make fire and try their hunting weapon – the blowpipe.

Inside the park, there are a number of resorts, ranging from basic guesthouses to wonderful resorts including local village stays, local village resorts and the Mutiara Resort. Nature lovers can match their accommodation to their budget or the experience they are seeking and book online.

Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

By Mary Mwendwa - African Correspondent

The Kasenyi Plains, Mweya Peninsula, Kazinga Channel, Kyambura Gorge, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve and crater lakes are some of the major attractions of the most famous and visited park in western Uganda. Katwe explosion craters mark the park's highest point at 1350 metres above the sea level, with lowest point at 910 metres, at Lake Edward. There are Katwe salt mines and a variety of wildlife species including over 600 bird species.

As you enter the park the strong smell of the salt crater lakes fills the air and you can feel the ambience of birds chirping and gazelles running. Petronila Bira, a guide at the park explains that Queen Elizabeth National Park which was named after Queen Elizabeth's visit in 1954. Two major lakes exist in the park, Lake Albert and Lake George, which are joined by the famous cruising channel – Kazinga Channel. Lions, Impalas, buffaloes, elephants, leopards, cheetahs, hippos, crocodiles, zebras and several bird species have a home at Queen Elizabeth National Park. "This park has the highest number of number of buffaloes and elephants in this region. We have thousands of elephants which interact with people, we have empowered the community around here on how to co-exist with these animals, one unique site is the Kyambora Gorge (underground forest) which houses 24 chimpanzees which our visitors enjoy tracking. Lake George is a designated Ramsar Site (wetland of significance importance).'' confirms Petronila.

At the Kazinga Channel schools of hippos, herds of buffaloes and crocodiles dot the shores of the waters. A fierce fight among buffaloes ensures one old buffalo is finally kicked out of the herd. The injured buffalo finally looses the fight and walks alone to join other buffaloes which have lost similar fights in their herds. Several water birds are beautifully displayed on the deep waters of Kazinga.

One of the most famous lookout points is located in Uganda's Katwe –Kabatoro community on Katwe Salt Lake where traditional salt mining has been practiced since 16th century. Women and men here work like ants to earn a living out of the salt mines. The high humidity and heat does not stop them from scooping the salt with bare hands. Amina Nabanga, a mother of seven in her late 30s struggles to make ends meet at the salt mines despite the hazardous environment. "This salt irritates our skin so much, we have no protective gear to use in this field, but for the sake of our children who we want to get some food on table we solder on," she sadly says.

IT.A.CA. - Festival of Responsible Tourism

By Sara Vitali - Italian Correspondent

Unlike your typical festival with stand and pavillions, IT.A.CA. involved 10 days of events, activities and conferences, hosted by the region Emilia Romangna, related with responsible and sustainable tourism. Trekking, biking and hiking, tours, concerts, book presentations, tastings and special contests were all part of the festival which gave life to the program.

Held from 30 May to 8 June, the master location was Bologna but there were activities and events all over the region: from Ferrara to Rimini, passing through Parma. Between Bologna & la Piccola Cassia, the route between Bologna and Modena and up to the Apennines.

The were also conferences and seminars such as:

  • How to Offer Sustainable Hospitality, an educational seminar on accommodation facilities;
  • Learning Sustainability by Travelling, a convention with prizes awarded for the contests. Racconta la tua città (Tell us about your city) and Adotta un turista (Adopt a Tourist);
  • A Responsible Trip, a seminar with contest announcement and presentation by the Carta Etica del Turismo Scolastico (Ethic Chart of scholastic tourism);
  • FU-TURISMO conference on responsible tourism and World Heritage sites with UNESCO and an award ceremony for the IT.A.CA is Bologna contest – Prize for Sustainable Tourism 2014.

Activities in Bologna organised by IT.A.CA. fair included:

  • From the Botanical Gardens, a journey through the streets of Bologna. This was a walk for travellers of all ages, in discovery of the 'green' citizen presented by Vivisostenibile and other association.
  • A performance about ethnic groups and the commodification of tourism: the Masai, Hadza and Datooga, with Davide Palumbo
  • Daily Life in Area C – Photographic exhibition from the Palestinian territories

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