Australia popular with Skyscanner users Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H Skyscanner users have voted Australia the place they would most like to visit if money were no object. The Skyscanner Travel Awards, which comprise the opinions of more than 600 travellers collected by the flights comparison website Skyscanner.net, also ranked Australia as the most popular place to live abroad, as well as having the friendliest locals. “Australia’s weird and wonderful wildlife, diverse experiences, friendly locals and laidback lifestyle attract visitors from all over the world,” Tourism Australia UK/Europe general manager Rodney Harrex said. “2011 has got off to a strong start in terms of arrivals and we look forward to welcoming many more holidaymakers over the coming months.” Italy was one of the award’s big winners, taking home the Most Romantic, Best Food and Best Culture awards. “Italy is a very popular destination for British tourists and it’s great to see Italy being recognised for what it can offer; excellent cuisine, romantic cities and a host of great cultural attractions,” Skyscanner Italian country expert Yara Paoli said. Spain was voted best for nightlife and most family friendly destination, while the Caribbean won awards for most spectacular beaches and most relaxing destination. France, home to some of the world’s most famous museums, art galleries and Michelin-starred restaurants, finished without a single gong. Skyscanner 2011 Travel Awards Winners If money was no object, where would you most like to go? Australia Runners Up: New Zealand, CaribbeanMost Romantic: Italy Runners Up: France, CaribbeanMost Beautiful: New Zealand Runners Up: Italy, AustraliaMost Spectacular Beaches: Caribbean Runners Up: Australia, ThailandMost Relaxing Destination: Caribbean Runners Up: Thailand, GreeceMost Family Friendly: Spain Runners Up: USA, AustraliaFriendliest Locals: USA and Australia Runner Up: IrelandBest Food: Italy Runners Up: France, ThailandBest Nightlife: Spain Runners Up: UK, USABest Culture: Italy Runners Up: UK, JapanBest for Business: USA Runners Up: UK, GermanyIf you had to live abroad, where would you go?: Australia Runners Up: USA, Spain
Travel Indochina is venturing deeper into more remote countries than ever before with Bhutan, Mongolia and Sri Lanka added in the 2012 range of already unique and extensive touring options.The Exploratory Journeys collection launched this year with the 13 day Highlights of Bhutan and 15 day Trans-Mongolian Adventure, was such a success that the 15 day Sri Lanka Discovery tour has been added to next year’s schedules.Eric Finley from Travel Indochina recently escorted a group of 16 travellers on the Highlights of Bhutan tour which offers a unique and exciting opportunity to explore Bhutan, where tourism is still in its early days, making for exciting and unforgettable travel experience.The tour gives the opportunity to experience the incredible colour, atmosphere and excitement of one of Bhutan’s famous religious festivals as locals gather to dance, pray, celebrate and socialise in an unforgettable ancient event. Travellers can experience this on one of two departures next year in June and October.With a reputation for innovative itineraries, small group journeys and tailor made tours, Travel Indochina’s new Exploratory Journeys range is forecast to be more popular than ever, with places already booking up fast.Tours are appealing not only because of the group size limited to a maximum of 16 guests, but single travellers have the ‘Willing to share’ option on all Classic Journeys, avoiding any costly single supplement payments other companies may chargeTravel Indochina managing direct Paul Hole said he was pleased with the year on year growth for the Australian market of 15 per cent across all destinations. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W
Hotel operators across the globe are more optimistic about business trends in 2012 than they had been last year a survey has found. The recent survey compiled by Horwath Hotel, Tourism and Leisure (HTL) which gathers responses from over 40 countries, revealed that while Asia and the US continues to flourish Europe remains flat. The survey concentrates on the outlook for occupancy, average room rates, total revenue and assessing the outlook for key demand segments. According to the survey the outlook for 2012 is not as positive as the outlook conducted in February 2011, however has improved from the July 2011 survey. The results reveal improved sentiment is detected in Asia, North America, and the Middle East/Africa, while Europe remains sluggish and Oceania has weakened slightly. Horwath HTL Asia Director Damien Little said the fact that sentiment in the US markets is beginning to increase is a good sign that better things are on the way. “Europe has a double bonus with the European Soccer championships in Poland and the Ukraine, followed by the Olympic Games to be held in London, both of which should drive a healthy demand for hotel bedrooms,” Mr Little said.“If Europe can finally settle its debt problem once and for all and inflationary pressures not impact too much on the Chinese economy, we should be looking at a much better second half of 2012.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T New Zealand’s premier travel trade show, Tourism Industry Rendezvous New Zealand (TRENZ) will make its return to the North Island next year. The announcement was made by Tourism Industry Association (TIA) New Zealand interim chief executive, Grant Lilly on the final day of meetings at TRENZ 2012. “After two highly successful years in the Southern Lakes region, we look forward to taking TRENZ back to New Zealand’s biggest city.” TRENZ has been showcasing in the Southern Lakes region for the past two years and was last held in Auckland in May 2010.Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) will work closely with TIA NZ to develop a uniquely structured event for national exhibitors, international buyers and media. “Next year’s event will have a completely different feel to any previous TRENZ held in Auckland. We will be working with ATEED to show international travel buyers and media the best of the main gateway to New Zealand,” Mr Lilly said. The Honourable John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand and National Tourism Minister expressed his delight at Auckland returning as host city for TRENZ 2013 during a press conference on the final day of TRENZ 2012. “It will be a different offering from Queenstown but a great opportunity to see what’s on display in New Zealand.”TRENZ 2013 will be held on the Auckland waterfront between 21-24 April and will make use of infrastructure built for last year’s Rugby World Cup. Grant Lilly, TIA NZ
Australians, young and old, are taking to the road and venturing off the beaten track, discovering more of their own country, camping and caravanning, according to Caravanning Queensland. Making up to 91 percent of all national camping nights last year and accounting for more than 77 percent of the total spend by caravanning and camping travelers down under, Caravanning Queensland chief executive Ron Chapman said Australians were choosing this type of at-home holiday due to its flexibility and affordability. “The figures say it all, Australians are choosing to take their families on the road rather than travel overseas and why wouldn’t you when our own country has such a vast range of things to do and see,” he said. Andrew Hellier, 26 from Sydney, told eTB News he loved touring Australia with mates and had a few favourite locations dotted around the country. “I regularly head down the coast with friends and camp at Booderee National Park in Jervis Bay,” he said. “I also love winter camping trips to Cabramurra as well as jumping in the car and pitching a tent anywhere along the north-east coast of Australia, from Coffs to Cairns, there’s plenty to see and do.” An increase in the number of younger holiday-makers discovering camping and caravanning has added to the elevated number of local holidays. “Whether you’re young or old, it’s always a good time to escape together on a touring holiday with family and friends,” Mr Chapman said.The annual Queensland Caravan, Camping and Touring Holiday Show will be held in Brisbane from 6 to 12 June, 2012. Caravanning Australia Andrew enjoys the pleasures of camping in Oz Caravan park art Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Setting up the tent
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) came to the aid of 14,574 Australians overseas last year, but budget cuts and unrealistic expectations are challenging the department’s continued service, a report has revealed.According to the department’s annual report, DFAT has some 1,500 consular cases running at any one time in the context “of a widening gap between the expectations and reality of what government can and can’t do for Australians abroad”, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. To offset the soaring costs of helping those who get into strife overseas, travellers could be forced to pay a travel levy for foreign trips and higher fees for passports if recommendations from a joint standing committee on foreign affairs, defence and trade report are taken up by the government.The report found Australia’s diplomats are “chronically underfunded” as the burden of consular support for the thousands of Australians in trouble overseas grows.To offset the soaring costs of helping those who get into strife overseas, travellers could be forced to pay a travel levy for foreign trips and higher fees for passports under a new plan by the government.The report suggests a tiered levy that will take into account those people who take out travel insurance and those who are unable to or fail to obtain travel insuranceIn 2011-12, officials had helped 14,574 Australian travellers who ran into trouble overseas, including giving 365 travellers $218,470 in emergency loans.On top of this, 14,500 Australians were helped when in difficulty, such as those who were arrested overseas, and more than 200,000 Australians needed some form of minor consular help, such as for lost passports. Expectations are high for Aussie travellers seeking help from the government when abroad
Dubai Tourism received the Australian Industry’s award for “Best Tourist Office – International” at NTIA held on the 20th July 2013.Accepting the award Julie King Director, Dubai Tourism Australia & New Zealand said “We are honoured to receive such a prestigious industry award from AFTA which recognises our contribution and support to the travel industry in Australia”.“This has been an exciting year with many positive achievements for Dubai in the Australian & New Zealand market and added to that the new Emirates & Qantas Partnership which commenced on the 31st March”.“The invaluable support and working relationship we have with our national airline, Emirates and our new partner Qantas in addition to the support we receive from our industry partners and media partners is paramount to our success in the market” said King.“Australia ranks as the 12th source market for Dubai and we have achieved an 8% growth in 2012 with 193,575 guests to Dubai. Since the commencement of the Emirates and Qantas partnership we are already seeing increases in April and May of 26% and 38% respectively” said Julie King“We are projecting substantial growth out of this important market in line with the Tourism Vision 2020 and anticipate Australia will be placed within our top 10 source markets in the coming years. We plan to substantially increase our activity in this market and team to execute these targets. Australia has not seen one fifth of what has yet to come for Dubai” said King.Source = Dubai Tourism
Image: Atura Blacktown The hotelier will then open more properties in fringe city CBD suburbs and business parks across the nation over the course of the next three years. “The Atura brand is part of a growing global trend towards design-driven hotels offering guests a unique experience – Atura does this with even more value,” AHL Group managing director David Seargeant said. Source = ETB News: P.T. Amalgamated Holding Limited (AHL) will launch a new concept hotel brand – Atura Hotels – in Australia to meet growing city-sprawl demands. The new Atura Hotels brand will have a strong emphasis on supporting business travellers, providing complimentary facilities including Wi-Fi throughout the entire hotel and a high-tech business centre. AHL also operate designer hotel group QT Hotels & Resorts in Sydney, the Gold Coast, Port Douglas and Falls Creek, as well as 40 Rydges hotel properties across Australia and New Zealand. AHL plan to roll-out the brand from 15 October 2013, beginning with the first property in Sydney’s south-western hub of Blacktown, next to the new Skyline Drive-In and Wet & Wild water park.
Royal Caribbean cruises kicks off its biggest season yetToday marks the start of RCL Cruises Australia’s biggest, boldest season yet, with the arrival of Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas to Sydney – the first of seven of the biggest, youngest and most exceptional cruise ships to sail local waters this summer.For the first time ever, all three RCL Cruises brands will be based down under, with Royal Caribbean International,Celebrity Cruises and new arrival Azamara Club Cruises offering a range of 95 itineraries around Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Asia.RCL will carry a quarter of a million guests over the season with almost 60,000 of them coming from overseas countries including the USA, Canada, UK and Germany.“Today marks the start of a record-breaking season in which we will double our guest capacity, introduce a new cruise brand to the region and offer a total of seven ships – around 20 percent of RCL’s global fleet,” said Gavin Smith, Regional Vice President, RCL Cruises Asia-Pacific.“For nearly a decade we have delivered the world’s biggest and best ships to Australians, offering them a cutting edge cruise product and a style of holiday that they would previously have had to travel overseas to experience,” Smith continued.Already an Australian favourite, the destination-focused Azamara Club Cruises brand will sail in Australia for the very first time this summer. Normally based in Europe and Asia, the 686-passenger Azamara Quest arrives in Darwin on 28 December as the first of three new ships to join the local fleet this season.Sydney’s biggest summer cruise line, Royal Caribbean International, will welcome Explorer of the Seas, which sets sail from Barcelona today en route to Sydney. The 3,800-passenger megaliner will take the title of Australia’s largest cruise ship from her twin sister, Voyager of the Seas, and the ships will meet in beautiful Sydney Harbour on Saturday evening on 28 November for a historic big-ship harbour rendezvous.Both Voyager Class vessels are the largest cruise ships based in the southern hemisphere and have recently emerged from a combined USD$160 million bow-to-stern facelift, equipping them with brand new features never seen before at sea in Australasia such as the FlowRider surf simulator and revolutionary Interior “Virtual” Balconies.Finally, Royal Caribbean International will base a ship in Brisbane for the first time. From 8 December, Queenslanders will have their very own world class ship, Legend of the Seas, when she commences sailing from Portside Wharf, Hamilton with no less than 15 itineraries.The seven ships will make 185 port calls and 85 turnarounds in Australia this season, which is expected to inject more than $185 million into the local economy in passenger spending alone. Royal CaribbeanSource = Royal Caribbean
Source = Swiss-Belhotel International Image credit: Swiss-Belhotel InternationalThe Chairman and President of Swiss-Belhotel International, Gavin M. Faull, is excited to announce that the purchase of the business and real estate of Swiss-Belresort Coronet Peak, Queenstown, New Zealand was completed recently.The acquisition was made with the support of New Zealand banks and internal cash resources of Swiss-Belhotel International.“This is a strategic move and strengthens the asset position of Swiss-Belhotel International,” Gavin M. Faull said.This is the first real estate investment that has been made by the international hotel management company and is an endorsement of its confidence in the tourism industry of Queenstown and New Zealand.Swiss-Belhotel International will be totally refurbishing the hotel over the next 18 months, which will also include the bar and restaurants.It is expected that over NZD1.5 million will be invested. It is the objective to present the hotel as a truly international operation as well as developing the restaurant, bar and recreational facilities in a way that the local market will use and appreciate.Swiss-Belresort Coronet Peak is well located near the Coronet Peak ski fields as well as the Shotover Jet operation.Swiss-Belresort Coronet Peak has 78 rooms and suites, the only seven lane bowling alley in Queenstown, two bars, two restaurants, and supporting facilities including gardens and recreation areas.The hotel offers great facilities for both tourists and locals and is ideal for the family traveller.Swiss-Belhotel International will continue to look for the appropriate real estate or business acquisition investments globally but in particular in New Zealand and Australia. Swiss-Belhotel International is also interested in acquiring management rights. Swiss-Belresort Coronet Peak
Glen Helen Gorge Northern Territory. By Toby Hudson, via Wikimedia CommonsThe Australian Government is unlocking the vast potential of northern Australia small and medium tourism businesses with a new team of experts deployed to provide one-on-one business advice.This AU$13.6 million Northern Australia Tourism Initiative is one of a suite of new programmes announced in response to Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.The initiative will combine the Entrepreneurs’ Programme with the Australian Small Business Advisory Services (ASBAS) Programme to meet the needs of tourism businesses in northern Australia.This team of five expert Entrepreneurs’ Programme Business Advisers and Facilitators have an understanding of the challenges tourism businesses in the north face and will provide businesses with the right tools and advice to overcome these challenges.Tourism businesses in northern Australia with a turnover or operating expenditure of AU$750,000 or more will have access to the new dedicated team.“The north has untapped potential, abundant natural beauty and talented people,” Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne said.“It is also close to key trading markets in Asia. More business, trade and investment in the north helps all Australians through economic growth, more jobs, higher incomes and better living standards.”“The Government is committed to seeing northern Australia reach its full economic potential. This initiative furthers this pursuit by helping northern tourism businesses to market themselves to the world and to give them a competitive edge,” Minister for Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg said.Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer, Kelly O’Dwyer, said the successful ASBAS programme would also be extended and tailored for small tourism businesses in northern Australia.“Australia’s two million small businesses employ over 4.5 million people and deliver $340 billion for our economy every year,” Minister O’Dwyer said. In Northern Australia alone, there are around 100,000 small businesses.“This initiative will support small tourism businesses to lead the economic charge in northern Australia.”Established not-for-profit small business advisory services can now apply for funding through the ASBAS programme to increase their capacity to provide low cost advice to tourism small businesses in northern Australia.Small businesses can expect to be able to receive this tailored assistance from ASBAS Northern Australia Tourism Initiative providers from mid-2016.“Tourism is one of five key sectors that will provide economic growth into the future – this initiative will help businesses in the north capitalise on that growth,” Minister for Tourism Senator Richard Colbeck said.“It will encourage more tourists to visit our spectacular rural and regional areas which will bring widespread benefits to local communities, including jobs.”“I am particularly eager to see growth in indigenous tourism – to support genuine employment while retaining connection to country. We are seeing a surge in demand for indigenous tourism experiences from our high value tourism markets.” Developing northern AustraliaSource = Australian Government
Source = MSC Cruises MSC Cruises www.msccruises.com.au book your free birthday cruise hereBirthday Deal with MSC CruisesCruising is a great way to celebrate any occasion. Just like the milestone that is celebrated, cruising is as much about the journey as the destination.Thanks to MSC Cruises, passengers who are lucky enough to have a birthday during selected cruises will enjoy cruising for free.The complimentary cruise will be an unforgettable experience in your choice of amazing destinations.MSC Cruises offers itineraries in destinations such as the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, West Indies, Arabian Peninsula, Caribbean and Cuba. Longer cruises are available through Grand Voyages. Individuals can extend their birthday celebrations, combining itineraries from 14 nights to 22 nights.Bookings must have at least one paying passenger and a maximum of one free birthday passenger. The birthday of the one passenger must fall on one of the cruising days (excluding arrival and departure days).Bookings are for a minimum of 2 adults, with one adult maximum celebrating a birthdayThis offer is subject to selected availabilityBookings must be made between 17th January 2017 and 10th March 2017Hurry and BOOK NOW to avoid missing out on this great offer. MSC Cruisesbook your free birthday cruise here
Major study identifies NZ tourism infrastructure prioritiesMore visitor accommodation is the highest priority infrastructure needed to support the future growth of New Zealand’s booming tourism industry, new research has found.Development of new accommodation would generate more additional tourism impact for New Zealand than any other category of infrastructure, according to the research carried out by Deloitte for Tourism Industry Aotearoa.The other priority infrastructure types identified by TIA’s National Tourism Infrastructure Assessment are telecommunications, airport facilities, road transport, car parking, toilets, and water and sewerage systems.The Assessment finds that the tourism industry will need to work closely with central and local government to achieve the required development to close these infrastructure gaps as market forces alone are unlikely to be sufficient.TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says coordinated actions will be required.“We need smart and active interventions to ensure tourism growth is sustainable, that the industry keeps growing its contribution to New Zealand’s economy and reaches its Tourism 2025 goal of $41 billion annual revenue,” Mr Roberts says.“The tourism boom is putting pressure on some of our most popular destinations. We need to address this as a country, otherwise we won’t be able to keep growing, the visitor experience could suffer and we’ll lose community support for tourism.”TIA identified that there was a need for solid evidence on the current state of tourism infrastructure, the desired future state, and where coordinated action needs to be taken to close any gaps.Supported by a number of industry partners, TIA commissioned Deloitte to undertake the comprehensive National Tourism Infrastructure Assessment.Surveys, interviews and various data sources were used to assess 20 categories of infrastructure across 31 regions.“What we really wanted to identify is those infrastructure gaps that have a high tourism impact, and require a great deal of coordination between the public and private sectors. At a national level, seven infrastructure types fall into this category – visitor accommodation, telecommunications, airport facilities, car parking, public toilets, water and sewerage systems, and road transport,” Mr Roberts says.At a regional level, each region has a different pattern of priorities depending on local circumstances.Three of the priority areas – car parking, toilets, and water and sewerage systems – are the types of facilities usually provided by local government. As an additional piece of work to the mainAssessment, TIA commissioned Deloitte to estimate the scale of need for ‘local and mixed use infrastructure’ – facilities that are used by both residents and visitors.This gathered information from councils around the country and TIA members on tourism-related infrastructure projects they might be contemplating. TIA NZ Infrastructure ReportRead the full report hereSource = Tourism Industry Association NZ
TravelManagers’ amazing race around WaikikiTravelManagers’ amazing race around WaikikiHonolulu locals and tourists alike were probably somewhat bemused by the sight of more than 300 Australian personal travel managers (PTMs) and partner suppliers running around the streets of Waikiki on Saturday afternoon, many of them strangely attired and all of them having an inordinate amount of fun. This was TravelManagers’ version of the Amazing Race: a welcome break from the serious business of their annual national conference, which ran for three days over the past weekend.According to TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal, the race was designed as a fun, team-building exercise that would allow participants to explore Honolulu, discovering the sights and tourist attractions and seeing for themselves how easy it is to walk and catch public transport around Waikiki.“We had 38 teams of eight or more participants, each of which had a list of up to twelve challenges to complete,” Gazal explains. “These ranged from finding an ice-cream store and buying an ice-cream for a lucky stranger, to photobombing a wedding party.”The teams were given a budget of just USD40 dollars each, which had to cover their transport costs, team costumes and any items they were required to purchase as part of the challenges. Participants were also required to photograph each challenge and post the results to social media, using the conference’s #TM2018HNL hashtag.Prior to heading out on the Amazing Race activity, conference participants had spent the morning engaged in a series of workshops, which included how to use technology to grow their businesses, the importance of creating the right headspace and a wellness workshop presented by Altius Group CEO, Derick Borean.“Having spent a fairly intense morning working on the more cerebral aspects of running a successful business, it was great to get outside and just enjoy each other’s company and the amazing destination we’re in,” says Karin Evert, representative for Strathmore, VIC.After two and a half hours, teams returned to their conference base at the Prince Waikiki to compare experiences at an evening cocktail party.Day Three picked up where Day One left off, with further presentations from PTMs and suppliers. Julie Painter and Michelle Schulze talked about creating ‘Ladies Escapes’: a specialist small-group tour business which has taken a number of groups to Fiji and to Vietnam.“Our successful collaboration has come from sticking to five main principles,” Painter explained to the audience. “1) having strengths and weaknesses that complement each other; 2) understanding that honesty builds trust; 3) the value of brain storming; 4) the importance of supporting each other; 5) the magic of compromise.”For the first time this year, a representative from the National Partnership Office also gave a ‘Secrets of My Success’ presentation. The company’s Digital Marketing Manager, Tania Myles, who claims to have been terrified of travel agents when she started in the industry, talked about landing her “dream job” at TravelManagers.“When you surround yourself with the right people, you understand your worth and what you can achieve,” she explains, adding that the individual success stories to which she has contributed are her biggest motivator.“And I’m not afraid of travel agents anymore!”The conference was formally closed by Gazal at 5pm on Day Three, but not before one of the most eagerly-anticipated presentations of the conference: an address by Turia Pitt.“Turia is one of Australia’s most inspiring and sought-after speakers, so we were absolutely thrilled that she agreed to join us in Hawaii,” says Gazal.Pitt’s story is well-known to many Australians: she suffered burns to 65 percent of her body when caught up in a fire during an ultra-marathon in 2011. After her accident, she decided to focus on what was directly ahead of her instead of looking too far into the future, enduring an arduous journey of rehabilitation to achieve her goal of completing an ironman race.Having started her presentation by asking the group to perform a few squats, Turia went on to explain why she considers an ironman race to be a great metaphor for life: the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.“Turia emphasised that if you can get your mindset right, working for you and not against you, you become unstoppable,” Gazal says.Gazal says Pitt’s presentation provided the ideal note on which to close the conference, which concluded with a gala awards dinner in the Prince Waikiki Pi’inaio Ballroom at the Prince Waikiki.For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599.Source = TravelManagers
American Cruise Lines Has Done it AgainAmerican Cruise Lines Has Done it AgainBrand new riverboat, American Song, arrived to a warm Southern welcome in Memphis on Friday, October 12th after a week’s long inaugural cruise up the Mississippi from New Orleans, stopping at Oak Alley, Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, Natchez, and Vicksburg. Guests were buzzing with excitement as they came ashore at the Beale Street Landing, having enjoyed a marvelous time along the Nation’s most historic river—aboard the very first modern riverboat in U.S. history. (The following day, American Song departed on its 2nd 8-day Lower Mississippi cruise from Memphis back to New Orleans, and as of today, Monday, October 22, the 3rd sailing is in Baton Rouge).American Song’s inaugural guests were treated to all-inclusive fine dining and complimentary cocktails every sunset. The cruise was highlighted with onboard entertainment and expert lectures, as well as guided shore excursions at every port. Ensconced in the largest most comfortable cabins in the industry, guests enjoyed the gorgeous river views through American Song’s floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading to private furnished balconies. The beautiful new riverboat offered scenic views throughout and particularly spectacular views from the ship’s largest observation lounge 40 feet above the water—American Song was designed with 3 times more glass than any other riverboat. American’s inaugural guests were also the very first passengers to use American Song’s unique retractable gangway and opening bow.Upon arriving in Memphis, many guests headed straight for Graceland on American’s Deluxe Signature Tour, which included a brief tour of historic downtown Memphis and the riverfront area. Other guests chose a Memphis City Experience, including a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum; a complex of buildings incorporating a section of the famed Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Shore excursions were guided at every port, and all throughout the cruise, guests were treated to unique local experiences such as a special private concert at the J.N. Stone House in Natchez, a guided visit to the iconic Oak Alley Plantation, and a tour of the USS Kidd, the infamous “Pirate of the Pacific.” Guests were even invited to participate in a live Gospel performance at the Frogmore Plantation.The cruise was further highlighted on board with expert presentations on American History featuring many of the specific locations along the itinerary. The cruise visited Vicksburg, a historic Civil War town also known as “The Key to The South,” where some guests spent the day exploring the Vicksburg National Military Park. During the Baton Rouge stop, guests were treated to an authentic Bayou experience during an Atchafalaya Basin Tour which included a special luncheon at Pat’s Fisherman’s Wharf. All throughout the cruise, guests could choose from an array of shore experiences while also enjoying pleasant walks and free time in the charming historic towns which adorn the Lower Mississippi.American Cruise Lines’ is proud to introduce the 1st modern riverboat to U.S. River cruising and delighted to add American Song to its fleet of authentic paddlewheelers. American looks forward to 2019 with continued excitement, when the 2nd modern riverboat, American Harmony, begins sailing the Line’s superb Mississippi River itineraries and American Songheads West to the Columbia and Snake.American offers 8-Day Mississippi River cruises throughout 2018, including special Holiday-Themed cruises Thanksgiving through New Year’s. The wonderful activities and shore excursions mentioned in this Press Release will continue to be offered along the Line’s 2018 and 2019 Lower Mississippi River itinerary. Complimentary pre-cruise packages are available on cruises originating from New Orleans or Memphis.About American Cruise LinesAmerican Cruise Lines was just awarded Conde Nast’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Award, for a 5thyear in a row, as one of the World’s Best Small Ship Cruise Lines. American was also recently named 2018’s Best River Line in the U.S. & Canada by Cruise Critic’s Cruisers’ Choice Awards. American operates the largest and newest fleet of authentic paddlewheelers, coastal cruise ships, and the only modern riverboats in the U.S. With over 35 itineraries visiting 25 states, American cruises along the rivers, as well as the coastal and inland waterways of New England, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the Mississippi River system, and the Southeast.For reservations or to learn more about American Cruise LinesPlease call 1-800-814-6880 or visit: www.AmericanCruiseLines.comFollow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/americancruiselinesFollow us on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/American_CruiseSource = American Cruise Lines
First Royal Amplified Ship in the South PacificFirst Royal Amplified Ship in the South PacificAdventures in the South Pacific will take on a whole new meaning with the highly anticipated arrival of a bolder-than-ever Voyager of the Seas this summer. Royal Caribbean International has revealed a USD$97 million new look with a lineup of first-to-market features for the region’s debut amplified ship. From The Perfect Storm duo of racer waterslides to the reinvigorated Vitality Spa and redesigned kids and teens spaces, Voyager will tout a thrilling combination of experiences that make for an unforgettable family holiday on this side of the world. Beginning Oct. 21, the newly transformed ship will set sail on a series of 3- to 5-night Southeast Asia itineraries from Singapore, followed by a season down under with 9- to 12-night South Pacific cruises from Sydney, Australia, starting on Nov. 30.“Royal Caribbean is an innovator in holidays, and the newly amplified Voyager of the Seas is no exception,” says Susan Bonner, Managing Director for Royal Caribbean International Australia and New Zealand.“We are thrilled to welcome Voyager back to Sydney where local holidaymakers can step onboard for a holiday of a lifetime with its new bold adventures and exhilarating features. From pulse-raising adventures down high-speed waterslides on The Perfect Storm or going head to head at Battle for Planet Z laser tag – both firsts for the Australian market – to unwinding and indulging in the brand new Vitality Spa, Voyager of the Seas offers unforgettable experiences for the whole family to enjoy.”Deck-Defying ThrillsOn Voyager of the Seas, holiday-makers can dial up the adventure with newly added Royal Caribbean hits never before seen in the South Pacific.The Perfect Storm waterslides duo – Typhoon and Cyclone – will raise the stakes with three stories of heart-pumping twists and turns. This is the ultimate ride where guests can challenge their limits and each other in a highspeed race for bragging rights. The can’t-miss attraction joins returning favourites, including the FlowRider surf simulator, rock-climbing wall and mini-golf, to round out the ship’s action-packed aft.Family Time MaximisedThe cruise line’s amped-up holidays also introduce new and reimagined experiences for the whole family to spend time together and on their own while on board.Making its out-of-this-world debut on Voyager of the Seas, Battle for Planet Z laser tag has quickly become a staple on Royal Caribbean ships. The glow-in-the-dark adventure in Studio B takes place in a universe of the distant future as two groups of thrill seekers – aliens and robots – go head to head to claim the last planet of a far-flung galaxy.Younger guests, ranging from babies to teens, will enjoy a top-to-bottom redesign of their dedicated spaces. A fresh take on the award-winning Adventure Ocean, for kids of 3 to 12 years old, brings a modern, free-play approach to a new, open layout with whimsical activities at every corner. A first on Voyager, a nursery for babies and tots will open its doors, while 3- to 5-year-olds can dive into the excitement in an area created just for them. Teens are in for an exclusive, updated hangout like no other on board, along with the addition of a laidback outdoor deck.Relaxation RenewedHoliday-makers looking to relax and recharge are in for a treat at the Vitality Spa and Fitness Centre. Enhanced and relocated to the aft of the ship, the spa and gym will offer its extensive, signature menu of services, including massages, acupuncture, manicures, fitness classes and personal training. Guests who opt to cool down poolside can look forward to a refreshed Solarium for all-day, adults-only tranquil vibes.More highlights to make their way to Voyager include 72 new inside and balcony staterooms, a Suite Lounge and outdoor area – exclusively for guests in Grand Suites and above; and the Diamond Lounge for members of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program. The reimagined ship will also feature the new Royal Caribbean International mobile app. Travellers can soon check in for their cruise holiday from their phone, and once on board, the app will deliver an array of capabilities. From exploring and planning activities for each day of the itinerary, and viewing onboard expenses, to booking and managing dining, shore excursion and show reservations, guests will be able to seamlessly transition into holiday mode.Voyager will be the fourth ship reimagined as part of the Royal Amplified fleet modernisation effort built on research and guest feedback. The cruise line’s investment of more than $1 billion spans 10 ships in four years and touches every facet of the guest experience. Introducing a robust variety of bold adventures meant to appeal to every generation, the program is a representation of Royal Caribbean’s passion for innovation, relentless attention to detail and commitment to delivering unforgettable holidays.Source = Royal Caribbean International
Dubai Parks and Resorts is on track to open in October 2016, and will feature motion gate Dubai – a unique theme park showcasing some of Hollywood’s most beloved characters from DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Studios and Lionsgate as well as the region’s first LEGOLAND Park and LEGOLAND Water Park. It will also feature Bollywood Parks Dubai, the first ever theme park based on the sights and sounds of Bollywood. The entire destination will be connected by Riverland Dubai – a retail, dining and entertainment walkway. Guests can stay at the Lapita Hotel, a Polynesian-themed resort catering to families.In addition to this, there will be featured intellectual properties from globally recognised and well-loved movies and brands, bringing leaders and experts from the global leisure and entertainment industry to create a family destination that is expected to draw 6.7 million visits in 2017, the first full year of operation.“We believe that Dubai Parks and Resorts will give Indian nationals even more reasons to visit Dubai in addition to their current reasons including visiting their relatives and to enjoy shopping. We aim to create a high growth, high return family entertainment business based on internationally recognised brands with the long-term appeal,” said Nevil D’souza, Head – Sales, Dubai Parks and Resorts.
Roseate Hotels & Resorts announced the launch of its latest addition Roseate House New Delhi and unveiled its flagship property The Roseate New Delhi – an urban luxury resort, located between the historical attractions of New Delhi and corporate hub of Gurgaon. Roseate House New Delhi is a contemporary narrative creating a new age revolution in the hospitality space. With cutting edge facilities and state of the art technology, Roseate House New Delhi offers an international fragrance.Following the ‘Make in India’ campaign, Roseate Hotels & Resorts will be the next Indian luxury brand in hospitality after a gap of nearly 30 years.The Roseate New Delhi, designed by the master architect Lek Bunnag, prides itself in award winning architecture combined with warm ambience and top-notch services. The uber luxurious property is spread across eight acres of land, with well landscaped gardens featuring refreshing greenery and tranquil waterways shimmering with clear water.Roseate Hotels & Resorts has two properties in UK. The Royal Park – an English style country house boutique hotel acquired by the group in 2011, would be rebranded as The Royal Park – a Roseate House hotel. The Forbury acquired by the group last year is the finest 5-star hotels in Reading and the neighbouring Thames Valley, would be rebranded as The Forbury Roseate.In India, Bird Hospitality has a firm pipeline of three luxury and upscale properties in Jaipur, Goa and Rishikesh. In addition, the company has plans for acquiring hotels and exploring management prospects in India and international markets like Europe, Middle East and the UK.
in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News, Secondary Market CBO: GSE Wind-Down Bill Could Cut Spending by $60B September 8, 2014 589 Views The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a cost estimate on Friday for S. 1217, a senate bill proposed June 2013 by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) that would eliminate GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and replace them with a private insurance company system with a government backstop.According to the newly-released estimate, removing the two GSEs would save the government billions of dollars in the next 10 years.Under S. 1217, the new system of guaranteeing mortgage-backed securities (MBS) would mean less risk for the government, therefore costing the government less money.Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would no longer offer guarantees on MBS under S. 1217; instead, the newly-established Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation (FMIC) would offer guarantees on MBS that originated in the primary market. FMIC would then guarantee payment of principal and interest by charging fees on the underlying mortgages. Private capital would take on some of the losses before the government payments would kick in.CBO estimates that S.1217 would result in a reduction of direct government spending by about $60 billion over a 10-year period from 2015 to 2024.The reduction in spending is primarily be attributed to the fact that fees that FMIC would charge MBS issuers would be more than the cost of the guarantees calculated under the Federal Credit Reform Act.Also, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the conservator for the two GSEs since 2008, would no longer charge fees (recorded as revenue) to the GSEs to pay for their administrative expenses, which would result in a $1.5 billion decline in revenue during a five-year period from 2020 to 2024.Federal deficits are expected to decline by $58 billion over the next 10 years under S. 1217, according to CBO. Pay-as-you-go procedures would come into play under S. 1217 because the bill affects direct spending and revenue. Congressional Budget Office Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Politics 2014-09-08 Seth Welborn Share
Year in Review: FHFA News FHFA 2014-12-29 Tory Barringer Share in Featured, Government, News From the start of QM to the end of quantitative easing, the past year saw plenty of big news in the mortgage and financial markets. As the new year rolls in, MReport is taking a look at some of the biggest FHFA headlines of 2014.FHFA Director Lays Out Strategic Vision: After months of silence, FHFA Director Mel Watt took the stage at the Brookings Institution in May to outline his own plans for Fannie and Freddie. The new platform was built on three blocks: maintain, reduce, and build.FHFA Report Highlights Progress, Concerns at GSEs: In June, FHFA submitted its 2013 Report to Congress, which detailed findings from the agency’s latest examination of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The report found that although experiencing significant exposure to credit losses from mortgage originations several years prior to the government’s conservatorship, the two GSEs had record amounts of net income in 2013.FHFA Gains Support for Single Security Proposal: Following FHFA’s request for input on its proposal for a single security for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Urban Institute expressed support for the idea but concern that the agency may be unnecessarily slow in implementing such a plan.FHFA Releases Strategic Plan for Years Ahead: In November, the agency released its plan for the coming years, which outlined three main goals: ensure safe and sound regulated entities; ensure liquidity, stability, and access in housing finance; and manage the enterprises’ ongoing conservatorship.Fannie, Freddie Introduce Low Down Payment Programs: Finally, commentators had mixed reaction to the news that Fannie and Freddie—under FHFA’s direction—were relauching loan options for certain homebuyers that could cut down payments to as little as 3 percent. December 29, 2014 467 Views