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Re-launched Club Raro urges trade to look again

Club Raro Resort has re-launched to unveil a newer and more mature island holiday look.

The three star Cook Islands property has just completed a year long refurbishment project of all 67 rooms as well as the reception, restaurant and public areas.

A launch party was held at the resort late last week with agents from New Zealand, as well as local operators, invited along to check out the new look property.

Raumati Barbara, Coconuts Marketing, says the re- launch is a message to trade to forget the Club Raro of old, and give the new one a chance.

‘Forget the Club Raro that you had in your head previously, this new look Club Raro is better quality, the food is fantastic, and really it’s a good holiday destination for anyone looking for something affordable in the Cook Islands.’

Barbara says the resort got quite run down and unfortunately that image is what’s in the trade’s heads.

A major part of the upgrade was getting rid of the ‘party house’ and transforming that space into 10 self contained studio rooms.

The changes reflect the shifting of the traditional backpacker demographic to young couples wanting a private holiday that’s still affordable.

‘We’re really trying to broaden who we are targeting and show them that if you’re looking for an affordable resort where you’re going to get a good quality stay, relaxed friendly atmosphere, you’ll get that at Club Raro,’ says Barbara.

Shane Robertson, Infinity Holidays, says Club Raro used to look tired, so it’s been great to get a whole new perception.

‘Club Raro had a bad rap, but I’ve been really impressed and I think that it’s the best property for its price point in Rarotonga.’

The Club Raro famil group also visited Highland Paradise Culture Centre, went on a Raro Safari Tour, and stopped over for a night at Aitutaki.

Ashna Ali, Air New Zealand Holidays; Raumati Barbara, Coconuts Travel Marketing; Janine Keys, House of Travel Product Arama Framhein, Flight Centre Botany; Christine Robbie-Ulberg, United Travel

Luke Jones, GO Holidays; Trellay Reihana, Lifestyle Holidays; Shane Robertson, Infinity Holidays; Melissa Plumb, Flight Centre Product

Amanda Platt, Island Time; Jono and Laura Hutchins, New Zealand Herald Trellay Reihana, Lifestyle Holidays; Shane Robertson, Infinity Holidays; Janine Keys, House of Travel Product The old Sheraton Rarotonga still sits waiting...

Melissa Plumb, Flight Centre Product; Lucy Fox, Flight Centre visiting a waterfall on the Island Safari Tour

Club Raro famil group having a wee dip at Papa Aroa beach Shane Robertson, Infinity Holidays, testing out the tree phone at the top of the safari lookout
Captain Chocolate, Captain Trouble and their apprentice serenading guests waiting to explore the marine reserve on Captain Tama's Lagoon Cruise A spot of snorkeling on the lagoon Captain Chocolate found a giant clam!
The welcome crew at Highland Paradise Culture Cultural Centre Janine Keys, House of Travel Product, drinking coconut water during a coconut opening ritual at Highland Paradise Cultural Centre Arama Framhein, Flight Centre Botany; Ashna Ali, Air New Zealand Holidays; Shane Robertson, Infinity Holidays
Dancers at Highland Paradise Cultural Centre depicting a time when local children heard aeroplanes fly over their school for the first time Trellay Reihana, Lifestyle Holidays with the village dancers. Janine Keys, House of Travel Product; Luke Jones, GO Holidays; Arama Framhein, Flight Centre Botany; Trellay Reihana, Lifestyle Holidays

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Statement from FJ re Shannon Currie

Fiji Airways regrets to advise the passing of its regional general manager New Zealand, Shannon Currie, last night.

'Shannon was an integral part of our Fiji Airways team and a key player in the many successes of Fiji Airways in the New Zealand market,' says Fiji Airways CEO, Stefan Pichler.

'He played an essential role in our very effective and popular mid-air weddings campaign which gained us a Guinness World Record which we proudly share with him.

'Shannon was an absolute pleasure to work with; a valued team member, friend and colleague and will be dearly missed. Our thoughts are with his family at this time,' said Pichler.

Regional general manager Australia, Andrew Stanbury will look after the New Zealand region for the interim until a suitable successor is found.

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Sell three, sail free

Royal Caribbean is offering agents who make three or more qualifying bookings on select cruises departing January 2015 a complimentary cruise for two on a local Royal Caribbean itinerary of up to seven nights duration.

Ranging between 10 and 12 nights onboard Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas, cruise prices start from NZD$103 a day.

Each of the four select itineraries departs Sydney and makes a roundtrip taking in the South Pacific, calling at locations like Noumea and the Isle of Pines, Vanuatu, Lifou and Mystery Island. Departure dates include 17, 20, 28 and 31 January 2015.

To redeem a complimentary local cruise, agents simply need to send details of each qualifying booking, along with the details of the cruise they wish to request, to Inside Sales ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) by Friday 13th February 2015.

See Royalcaribbean.co.nz for full terms and conditions.

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Industry special in Samoa

Travel industry special at Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey's Resort from 15 Jan to 28 Feb, 2015. $US125 + 15% tax for deluxe ocean view room, incl breakfast for 2, 30% spa discount and unlimited golf green fees. Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , quote INDJANFEB

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FJ confirms WLG - NAN fights

Fiji Airways will commence year-round flights direct to Fiji from Wellington commencing June 25 2015.

This is one of the most significant new routes recently announced by Fiji Airways, and reflects the airline’s strong performance both globally and in New Zealand.

Fiji Airways managing director and CEO Stefan Pichler says New Zealand is an incredibly important market for Fiji Airways, and the introduction of this new route is testament to Fiji Airways’ strong performance here.

'We announced earlier this year in our five-year strategic plan that we were committed to increasing capacity between New Zealand and Fiji. The introduction of this new route reflects our commitment to the New Zealand market, and in growing our global network,' says Pichler.

The new Wellington-Nadi route opens up an additional 328 weekly seats between New Zealand and Fiji, as well as providing Wellingtonians with an opportunity to fly to Apia, Los Angeles and on to other North American cities, via Nadi.

The new service will run twice weekly, departing Wellington on Thursday and Sunday at 13.15 arr NAN at 17.00. The return flight leaves NAN at 08.30, into Wwllington at 12.15.

 

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Air NZ to fly direct to Argentina

Air New Zealand has announced it will launch direct flights between Auckland and Buenos Aires, Argentina – the airline’s first ever scheduled service to South America.

An Air New Zealand Boeing 777-200 aircraft will operate three return services a week on the route all year round.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the new destination, the airline’s 28th international port, opens up an exciting new world for travellers from both New Zealand and Australia.

‘South America was once the domain of the intrepid explorer, but the direct service to Buenos Aires, with a flight time of around 12 hours, means a quick and action packed getaway is now a reality.

‘Buenos Aires is the most popular tourist city in South America and is a perfect stepping stone for those who then want to explore the country, or continent, further.’

 

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Deva delivers

Agents on a recent the famil to New Caledonia spent one night at the Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Resort & Spa. Situated just over two hours drive from Noumea, the property sits on 13 km of white sand beach and within 80,000 hectares of land considered the eco centre for New Caledonia.

General manager Thomas Schwall says guests to the resort have the opportunity to explore some of the land with activities ranging from trekking along marked trails, animal watching, horse riding, cycling and further inland  - hunting.

The resort features 180 guest rooms, suites and private bungalows, each with a terrane overlooking the golf course, beach or gardens; signature Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed; flat screen tv, high speed internet; ceiling fan and air con and kitchenette facilities (in suites).

Hotel facilities include two swimming pools (heated to a comfortable 28°C); a water sports hut; fitness centre, spa (due to open late December), all terrain bicycles, resort shop and restaurant and bars.

We’re here - Rebecca Goodin, Flight Centre; Phillipa Stokes, House of Travel Product and Wade Munro, Infinity Holidays in the lobby of the Sheraton Deva

Simon Duffy, New Caledonia Tourism and Angela Hallett, Aircalin enjoy cocktails around the pool area with Sally Pepermans, Starwood Hotels and Resorts and  Thomas Schwall, general manager of Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Resort & Spa

<< Heading off to a site inspection is – almost in the drivers seat, Sibyl Hauraki, GO Holidays; Paula Lipscombe, GTA Auckland; Lisa Perkovic, Expedia; Sharma Smith and Phillipa Stokes, House of Travel Product

 

>> Kid’s Club at the resort. All sorts of fun things to keep the little ones entertained. It is the only Kid’s Club in New Caledonia

The bungalows stand alone in what feels like an African savannah setting. The round individual structures are dotted along lit paths, some beachfront and the rest set back with views of the trees/garden or golf course

Living and bedroom area

The bungalow deck overlooking the golf course – which is currently a nine-hole course

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Treasure in New Caledonia

There is just enough time before Christmas to squeeze in one last famil, so New Caledonia Tourism and Aircalin invited a group of wholesalers to New Caledonia for product updates and a look at the new Sheraton Deva. Over the next four days there will also be a treasure hunt, site inspections and a full day on the stunning Isle of Pines.

Phillipa Stokes

Shelley Gutry, Our Pacific; Rebecca Goodin, Flight Centre and Sibyl Hauraki, GO Holidays ready for sundowners at the Chateau Royal Beach Resort & Spa, Noumea

As is Kirstin Hansby, Our Pacific; Phillipa Stokes and Sharma Smith, both from House of Travel Product

Fresh and ready for the challenges ahead is Sharma Smith, House of Travel Product and

Wade Munro, Infinity Holidays

Discussing tactics is group 1 - Sibyl Hauraki, GO Holidays; Shelley Gutry, Our Pacific; Sharma Smith, House of Travel Product and Rebecca Goodin, Flight Centre

Phillipa Stokes, House of Travel Product; Kirstin Hansby, Our Pacific and Angela Hallett, Aircalin with their clue at the Noumea market

Phillipa Stokes, House of Travel can't quite decide over which bracelet will be the best buy from the markets

Simon Duffy, New Caledonia Tourism with local guide Adele at Kuto Bay on the Isle of Pines

Phillipa Stokes and Sharma Smith from House of Travel Product with Paula Lipscombe, GTA Auckland at Kuto Bay, Isle of Pines Shelley Gutry, Our Pacific and Sharma Smith, House of Travel Product explore the grounds of the old French prison on the Isle of Pines

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Quality vs quantity

Australasian visitor numbers to Ireland have grown by a staggering 53% over the past 12 months, agents heard at the Tourism Ireland road show in Auckland yesterday.

In Auckland for his 20th or so visit, Tourism Ireland’s Jim Paul told travel agents that Ireland’s visitor numbers are up across other markets as well - 15% from the UK, 40% from Europe and 43% from North America, but it is the Kiwis and Australians that are ‘quality tourists. They spend twice as much as the French and Germans with an average stay of 12 days,’ says Paul.

A growing number of visitors are heading to Ireland for its movie tours. Katherine Webster, representing the Cliffs of Moher, says Moher is currently sitting as the third most popular tourist destination for Ireland.

‘But we have welcomed our one millionth visitor last month and that could push us into second,’ says Webster. ‘We have a new underground visitor centre and our movie trails are gaining interest.’

Harry Potter fans can see a cave setting from the Half Blood Prince movie; Princess Bride was set in the area as was Ryan’s Daughter, but it’s the Father Ted series that generates a huge amount of visitors.

‘Father Ted’s house is a private residence and the owners got fed up with people peering through their windows hoping for a glimpse of Father Ted, so they opened up the house and set up a tea house. It’s doing a roaring trade,’ says Webster.

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Become a Happiness Specialist

Tourism Fiji has launched its new online travel agent specialist training programme.

The new Fiji Matai Specialist Programme and website is a destination training programme for tourism partners selling Fiji, and went live around the world over the weekend.

‘Matai’ in Fijian means to be knowledgeable or an expert in something and Tourism Fiji says Matai Agents and Matai Specialists can become ‘Happiness Specialists’ by joining the programme.

The new site includes extensive educational content on Fiji. Members will receive exclusive incentives, monthly e-newsletters featuring updates on Fiji and its tourism industry, eligibility for exciting familiarisation trips, online training updates and the chance to receive excellent programme rewards.

Director of global marketing and acting chief executive of Tourism Fiji, Ken Freer, says the programme will enhance communication between the Fiji tourism sector and its global trade partners, and provide valuable knowledge to agents selling the tropical destination.

‘The aim of the new programme and site is to educate and promote that Fiji is where happiness finds you and that this happiness can be transferred to holiday- makers who chose to visit our idyllic island nation,’ says Freer. ‘There is a huge range of fantastic activities available to holiday-makers, and the new Matai programme will help our agent partners increase their knowledge and understanding of everything Fiji has to offer.’

Existing Matai Specialists and Matai Agents will automatically transfer to the new three-tier programme, but will be required to complete one refresher module within 12 months to maintain their status. Training modules include both experiential themes and regional destination content.

The programme is open to anyone in the tourism sector who has an interest in Fiji, with three tiers of membership.

MATAI AGENT MEMBERSHIP:

Available to all trade and non-trade partners wishing to receive a monthly email newsletter update on what’s new within the Fijian tourism industry and also events within the their local region. There are no entitlements or requirements to maintain this level.

MATAI SPECIALIST MEMBERSHIP:

Available to trade partners across the tourism sector upon completion of the initial four modules. They receive:

- A global or regional monthly email newsletter update on what’s new within the Fijian tourism industry and events within their local region.

- Access to specialist content modulesand status recognition upon completion (Phase II – March 2015).

- Access to Matai Specialist logos and branding for use on business cards and marketing collateral.

- Tourism Fiji Matai famil invitations

- Access to exclusive Matai Agent deals for personal travel (Phase II – March 2015).

To maintain status Matai Specialists must complete a refresher online training module each year.

MATAI FRONTLINER SPECIALIST:

This includes the above plus the opportunity to create a personal profile which, upon verification by the local Tourism Fiji office, will be published on the Tourism Fiji consumer site so agents may receive referrals directly from consumers visiting the site.

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Massive developments for Vuda, Fiji

Fully overwater bungalows, along with semi overwater bungalows on its famous Foot Island are features of a foreshore development at First Landing Resort and Villas in Fiji. Foot Island will have a new restaurant and a horizon swimming pool with views out to the Yasawa Islands.

Major development at the resort, 15 minutes from Nadi airport in the Lautoka direction, also include six two bedroom beach front villas and six garden villas immediately behind them.

All villas will have private pools and the building on those is expected to start next month (December 2014).

First Landing director James Dunn says there are also plans in the two year time frame for a ‘villa village’ and longer term there will be added residences, villas, apartments and a cultural village across the road from the current complex.

The development comes at a time
when the adjacent Vuda Marina is also looking towards major growth, more than doubling in size and gaining the capacity to service Super Yachts. ‘We will also be adding retail, residential accommodation, private villas and a beach club,’ says

Vuda Marina general manager and chief executive officer Adam Wade. ‘We hope to start next year.’

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All go for TAANZ NTIA show

The TAANZ National Travel Industry Awards 2015 are 'all go' says TAANZ CEO Andrew Olsen.

'The steering group committee met last week and a number of matters were discussed - principally that 100% of TAANZ members are behind the success of the event and 100% of suppliers are also in support of TAANZ NTIA.

'NTIA brings together those agents across the country who are engaged in the concept of celebrating achievements in a national awards programme and the on-going improvement of standards, both of which will ultimately deliver value to consumers,' says Olsen.

'We have sought comfort from our 2014 event partners investors and it has been made clear that they strongly support the ongoing TAANZ NTIA.

'Self nomination will be permitted. This allows the brands, groups, independents and all suppliers to put forward their best nominee. Finalists will continue to be selected by poll, agents for suppliers and vice versa. Award category selection by our event partners will also be modified a little with a trade industry ballot process to be used.'

More details will be provided in the NTIA prospectus which will be issued before the end of the year.

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NZ flavour injected into China Southern flights

Auckland Airport, China Southern Airlines and Al Brown have joined forces to inject a taste of New Zealand into the China Southern inflight experience.

The announcement was made at a launch party held at SKYCITY Auckland’s Bar Twentyone yesterday.

The initiative will see New Zealand- themed inflight menus on China Southern’s Auckland to Guangzhou services.

Tan Wan Geng, president and CEO of China Southern Airlines, says China Southern is the fourth biggest airline in the world, and is committed to innovating and supporting the route to Auckland and New Zealand.

‘Although this initiative is focused in the first instance on our Auckland to Guangzhou services, in the future we hope to extend this further by bringing more international elements across our entire network.’

Adrian Littlewood, Auckland Airport chief executive, says the announcement is a wonderful opportunity to deepen the relationship between China and New Zealand.

 

‘We’re excited by the opportunity to bring a taste of New Zealand to passengers coming to New Zealand the first moment they step on the plane.’

Littlewood says the announcement also forms a strong part of Auckland Airport’s ‘Four Seasons, Five Senses’ project – a partnership with the New Zealand government to drive the growth in high valued Chinese tourists into New Zealand in the shoulder seasons.

‘We want to drive tourism growth by raising awareness within China of the unique and iconic activities that New Zealand has to offer, engaging the five senses of travellers with a focus on high quality food and wine, cultural and adventure experiences.’

Al Brown, celebrity chef, will be in charge of redesigning the China Southern Airlines inflight menu for its Auckland
to Guangzhou services, as well as recommendations and training of the inflight chefs and crew.

The meals will also include background information to tell the story behind the New Zealand produce featured on the menu, such as a map highlighting the area of New Zealand the produce was sourced from.

Brown says he revels at the chance to champion and promote New Zealand product on the international stage.

‘Using food and wine as a vehicle is a very compelling way to tell the New Zealand story. As a chef I relish the opportunity and the challenge of creating great tasting dishes at 35,000 feet.’

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Winning stands set the PAICE

Fiji took out the regional stand of the year award at the Pacific Area Incentives and Conferences Expo (PAICE 2014) this week, with New Caledonia named runner up.

Judge Nigel Pilkington, senior vice president of SKAL International, says Fiji was well branded but still retained an individual feel among the various stands. ‘You couldn’t walk through the area without being approached and they had a nice touch with the foot spa being offered.’

Pilkington says New Caledonia had a nice mix of modern technology and a personal approach.

Tahiti and Business Events Australia were both highly commended.

In the individual category, Starwood Hotels & Resorts was named winner.

‘I walked past the booth twice and both times I was approached by different people who asked how they could help me. That makes PAICE really work.’

Runner up Destination Asia had the same proactive approach to the show, Pilkington says. ‘The representative’s eyes were up, not down. She was engaging and the stand was bright and clear.’

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