Can't go overseas? You CAN head 'over the seas'

If you’re dreaming about replacing home isolation with holiday isolation – wide open spaces, clean air and amazing beaches – then one of Australia’s many island destinations can provide the escape you’re looking for.

With international borders still closed, SeaLink Travel Group, Australia’s largest land and marine, tourism and public transport service provider has launched Brilliant Travels, a place where many of our unique island escapes have united to showcase the amazing island destinations we can visit with domestic travel restrictions easing.

Ever dreamt about visiting Kangaroo Island, Fraser Island, North Stradbroke Island, Bruny Island, Rottnest Island or the Tiwi Islands? You may not have known some of these places even existed. Brilliant Travels is making it easier for you to find and escape to that dream island experience.

SeaLink Travel Group has launched a national advertising campaign to promote these islands and even more destinations right around Australia.

“As restrictions continue to ease, all of our iconic Australian island destinations offer exactly what people are looking for after a long isolation – stunning natural landscapes, wide open spaces, fresh air, incredible coastal views and a chance to meet some of our unique wildlife” says SeaLink Travel Group CEO Clint Feuerherdt.

“This year more than ever is the best time to take that Australian break, to see our own backyard and support our tourism industry that has been heavily impacted by bushfires and then coronavirus. You can go for the day, the night or even longer, take the car or caravan or we can package up travel, accommodation, tours and experiences, it’s up to you!”

“Some of our islands are putting on spectacular shows right now. On Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia, Mother Nature is exploding with green shoots everywhere following the devastating bushfires in January this year. Meanwhile, whales will soon be making their annual migration past Sydney on their way up north gliding by North Stradbroke Island, Fraser Island and Magnetic Island.”

To support the local islands, don’t just dream about your next escape, plan and book your next adventure. Explore our beautiful country and discover some truly unique Australian destinations at www.brillianttravels.com.au.

To celebrate the re-opening of the islands to tourism, Brilliant Travels is giving away the chance to win one of four dream holiday escapes with a combined valued of over $11,000. To enter, head to the Brilliant Travels website – www.brillianttravels.com.au – and register your email address for the chance to win. It’s that simple.

The islands are ready and waiting to welcome visitors back and promise an escape where you will create brilliant life-long memories.

Source: Brilliant Travels


$90M DEVELOPMENT PROJECT SET TO INJECT CREATIVE PRECINCT INTO LAUNCESTON

New Creative Group (NCG) thas announced one of Tasmania’s largest creative developments, at an estimate $90M AUD.

The Launceston Creative Precinct is an ambitious initiative that seeks to deliver an injection of culture and creative industry to the city centre. Designed with the intent of generating increased community engagement, tourism, employment and enhancing the standard of creative education in the region.

The project has received $10M grant funding from the federal government, under the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF).

The BBRF grant will support the transformation of Launceston and the Northern region of Tasmania. The overall project will drive new industries for the region and involves development of the central city. The project will drive economic uplift, city vibrancy, educational attainment and support for existing and emerging industries.

The precinct has been designed to encompass world-class education in design and technology, a virtual and augmented reality enterprise, commercial offices, modern food and retail offering, the city bus interchange and student accommodation.

Construction is expected to commence in 2021, with staged openings throughout late 2022 through until quarter four of 2023.

“It is an exciting time for Launceston, as we work towards a creative vision that will drive an influx of fresh space and new thinking helping us build our local economy and foster internationally recognised education,” said Chris Billing, Managing Director of New Creative Group.

New Creative Group welcomes discussion with leading creative technology, arts, design and education businesses to enhance the future of the Launceston Creative Precinct.

With the success of the Launceston Creative Precinct comes agility in a changing world. Cultural and creative content drives the digital economy – an industry utilised now more than ever. Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) contributed US$200b to global digital sales in 2013 – and that figure is only increasing exponentially.****

The cultivation of Launceston into a cultural and creative hub means Australia can increase its stake in the digital economy and become a powerhouse for sustainable modern growth in the digital sphere. By creating a cultural and creative hub within a re-energised Launceston, the hope is to cultivate a vibrant community with unrivalled potential and opportunity – a city for the future.

Source: New Creative Group


Etihad: 11 questions with Sarah Built, General Manager ANZ at Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways recently relaunched regular scheduled flights between Melbourne and Sydney to London Heathrow, via Abu Dhabi, to maintain these vital links between Australia and the UK until it is able to resume its full operation to pre-coronavirus levels.

In this abridged exclusive Q&A, Sarah Built, Etihad Airways’ General Manager – Australia and New Zealand, discusses with LATTE how the carrier has responded to the coronavirus pandemic, details what is happening with its grounded fleet and explains a newly expanded health and hygiene program that builds on measures already put in place.

Q: How is Etihad Airways positioned during this uncertain time?
A: These certainly are unprecedented times and unprecedented decisions are being made, but we stand with our loyal customers and dedicate all our efforts and resources to ensuring we do all we can to assist them with their travel planning during this challenging period. We are utilising this time to ensure the airline is in the best shape for when it returns to flying. We’ve embarked on the biggest aircraft maintenance program in our history. We can reassure you that when this pandemic is over, Etihad will still be standing, our aircraft will still be in the skies and we look forward to continuing to serve our customers.

Q: What is happening with Etihad Airways’ aircraft fleet during this period?
A: While so many aircraft are on the ground we are using the ‘downtime’ as an opportunity to accelerate maintenance activities and enhance preparedness as more return to services are introduced. We are refreshing the interiors and exteriors of our aircraft, from laundering of all seat covers, curtains and shampooing or replacement of carpets to minor repairs, as required, to fittings, including seats, inflight entertainment units, fold-down trays, lavatory fittings and galleys.

Q: What health and safety precautions is Etihad taking as it looks to return to meaningful passenger flying?
A: We have just introduced ‘Etihad Wellness’, an expanded health and hygiene program that builds on the stringent measures already put in place to deal with COVID-19. Specially trained Wellness Ambassadors, a first in the industry, will provide essential travel health information and care spanning culinary hygiene, aircraft cabin deep-cleaning, health screening, boarding, inflight experience and more, so guests can fly with greater peace of mind.

To read LATTE’s detailed 10 question interview covering other topics such as post-COVID airfares and scheduled routes, click here.

Source: Latte


Hunter Valley: Tourists alone won’t solve $160 million economic loss threatening its future

The excitement of welcoming tourists back to the Hunter Valley is being over shadowed by the enormity of the economic cost of the COVID-19 shutdown. An uncertain future still looms large for many wine and tourism businesses.

Amy Cooper, CEO of the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association (HVWTA) reports that “figures released by the HVWTA reveal that COVID-19 has caused an $85 million loss to the Hunter Valley economy from March to May 2020. 100% of businesses in the Hunter Valley’s wine and tourism industry have reported a significant reduction in revenue, with close to half of all businesses suffering a complete loss of income since COVID-19 restrictions were introduced in mid March.”

80% of businesses have had to close, with COVID-19 restrictions forcing either full or partial closures. Businesses in the Hunter Valley have experienced an overall 95% reduction in business activity, with the tourism sector – accommodation, tour operators, activities & attractions, restaurants, cafes & bars – hardest hit by this pandemic.

“COVID-19 decimated our economy, which was already devastated by drought and the summer bushfires. With an annual wine tourism economy valued at $557 million per annum. The running economic loss for the Hunter Valley is conservatively calculated at a staggering $160 million since the bushfires started in our region in November 2019. Our industry requires urgent protection and immediate assistance,” says Christina Tulloch, President of the HVWTA.

Hunter Valley Wine Country is the most visited wine destination in Australia, making it the nation’s most important wine tourism asset. At 192 years old, it is Australia’s oldest wine region. The Hunter Valley is home to many of our most iconic wine brands. 2,800 people are regularly employed in Wine Country, representing $104 million in wages annually.

“Even with the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper support payment saving hundreds of jobs across our region. Three out of four businesses have still had to decrease their staffing levels, with over half of all Hunter Valley businesses having reduced their teams by 50% or more. Our industry needs certainty from Government about support beyond September” says Ms Cooper.

The majority of Wine Country industry is small businesses, from owner operator run to employing up to 25 staff. It will take time and significant support for these small businesses to get back on their feet. Particularly, as businesses are collectively facing a projected loss of up to $298 million over a 12 month period.

“A number of businesses have already made the incredibly difficult decision to permanently close. It’s a final heartbreaking call for people to let go of their livelihood, that they’ve invested years, if not decades in. So it is deeply concerning that 3 out of 4 businesses are reporting that they are uncertain and not confident in their viability over the next 12 months. The future of our wine tourism industry is under threat,” says Ms Cooper

“We were already having a tough time with drought and then bushfires in the Valley, COVID-19 has taken a huge personal toll on our people. We are normally a very connected community. The added burden of social isolation is challenging when people are under so much stress and pressure. Sadly, 1 in 5 people have shared with us that they have experienced a decline in their mental health and wellbeing. The HVWTA wants to be here to support our people in their greatest time of need” says Ms Tulloch.

The HVWTA is a member based not-for-profit, responsible for the sustainability of the wine tourism industry and destination marketing to attract visitors to the Hunter Valley. The history of the Association dates back over 173 years. However, the HVWTA currently receives no local, state or federal funding.

“The Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association is wholly a membership-funded organisation. Our businesses are just hanging on. They need the support of their industry Association now more than ever. So the HVWTA is calling on government for critical funding investment. Our industry has identified a number key of ways that government can be active in assisting recovery efforts. We want government to work with the HVWTA to ensure the Hunter Valley has a strong, viable and vibrant wine tourism industry into the future” says Ms Tulloch.

Source: Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association


Thredbo Announces Winter Season Opening Date of 22 June

Skiers and snowboarders, start tuning your edges and melting wax, this is the news snow lovers have been waiting for. With the easing of regulations, Thredbo is thrilled to announce it is planning to open for the winter season from 22 June 2020, conditions permitting.

To enable the resort to open for skiing and snowboarding, Thredbo will be implementing a revised operating model that has been developed under the advice provided by the NSW Health Department and the State and Federal Governments. The revised model includes reduced daily capacity limits by up to 50% on usual capacity at this stage and the implementation of a range of social distancing and sanitisation measures.

On the mountain, daily capacity will be limited to enable the resort to open under the Government restrictions. As a result, all guests will need to pre-purchase day lift passes or multi-day passes prior to arrival. Season Pass holders will be offered the choice of a refund or credit for their pre-purchased passes and will be provided with access to discounted day passes*. Thredbo will be communicating with all Season Pass holders by Thursday 4 June in relation to their options. Throughout the season, guests will be encouraged to use contactless payment using MyThredbo cards across all Thredbo outlets.

Other measures include 1.5m ‘ski tip to tail’ social distancing in lift queues and a limit of two per quad chair, two per gondola cabin and one per T-bar. Given the limited capacity, it is expected that skiers and snowboarders will incur wait times similar to a normal season. In addition, only private skiing and snowboarding lessons are able to be offered. Thredboland will be unable to open at the time of the season opening, but this will continue to be monitored as restrictions ease. Restaurants and bars will operate in alignment with Government restrictions as they continue to evolve.

The resort has invested in best practice hygiene and sanitisation measures including installing sanitisation stations throughout the resort and has incorporated new procedures to effectively sanitise high use areas including chairlifts, gondola cabins and rental equipment. The resort has also enhanced its stringent approach to cleaning all resort facilities and venues.

Thredbo Resort General Manager Stuart Diver says the resort is looking forward to welcoming guests back and has implemented an operating model to allow guests to ski and snowboard this winter.

“The wellbeing of our guests and our people is always our highest priority at Thredbo. We have worked hard with the relevant authorities to be able to open Thredbo this winter, which will look quite different to previous years. Our revised operating model is necessary for us to operate within the NSW Government’s social distancing restrictions and capacity restraints, to allow us to open.”

“We would really appreciate if guests could exercise patience as we navigate through the season and play their part in respecting social distancing requirements. We’ll be communicating all safety messages to our guests prior to arrival and remind guests they should not visit the resort if they are unwell.”

“After such a challenging start to 2020 with the bushfires and now COVID-19, we are so pleased to open and we’re confident we will continue to deliver Australia’s best skiing and snowboarding this winter. We will be opening our new Merritts Gondola, Australia’s only alpine gondola, as well as the enhanced ‘Dream Run’ experience with a new snowmaking system installed along with increased car parking.”

Thredbo’s revised product offering including day passes, private lessons, ski and snowboard rental and accommodation will be available for pre-purchase from 11.59pm on Wednesday 10 June by visiting Thredbo.com.au.

Source: Thredbo