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Brand USA hits home run

Brand USA attended the Pacific Area Incentives and Conferences Expo (PAICE) for the first time this week, much to the relief of attendees.

Wayne Mitcham, account manager NZ, says there hasn’t really been any official representation in New Zealand for over 20 years.

‘A lot of people are really grateful and relieved we’re here – they know who to go to now.

‘Now we have an official tourism board that represents the entire US, and we’re here to support the New Zealand trade and anyone doing potential MICE business.’

Mitcham says Brand USA found the show hugely successful, and will be back next year with an even bigger and better stand.

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GSR promotes ANZAC rail trip to Kiwis

Great Southern Rail is promoting its annual ANZAC Commemorative train journey in the New Zealand market for the first time.

Business development manager – international, Dave Atherton says the special trip has always been promoted domestically only but it is available to New Zealanders and can be booked through Rail Plus.

‘This year the journey focuses on the Top End and is priced differently from the usual trip because of the various inclusions, such as the ANZAC Day Dawn Service in Alice Springs.’

He says the four day – three night journey also includes a one hour gorge cruise in Katherine, a live concert under the stars and an outback dinner at the McDonnell Ranges.

As usual, all meals and beverages in Platinum and Gold Service are included in the price.

He says the company is looking at more ways to enage the New Zealand market, especially on the back of 17% year on year growth so far in 2014.

‘We are seing some growth in independent travel but a lot of it really is groups and cruise – rail combinations. We are making a lot more noise in New Zealand now and we see potential for even more growth.’

Meantime, Northern Territory Tourism and Great Southern Rail have put together a special ‘incentive adventure’ for the incentive market. Promoted at PAICE this year, the package includes flying into Adelaide, spending a day there and in the Barossa, 24 hours on The Ghan. A night or two in Alice Springs and then flying Sydney – New Zealand. The trip can be done in reverse.

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go explore the Gold Coast

A new, all-day travel Gold Coast ‘go explore card’ is now available for visitors and tourists travelling to the Gold Coast. The ‘go explore card’ offers unlimited one-day travel on The G: and Surfside buses for A$15 for adults or A$7.50 for children (aged 5-14 years inclusive). At the start of the journey, passengers touch on the ‘go card’ on the platform, and touch off when exiting. Information on fares and tickets can be found on TransLink’s website

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Everest gets closer

The world's highest railway, the Qinghai-Tibet rail line in China is about to get even closer to Mount Everest with a new stretch of track connecting the Tibetan cities of Lhasa and Shigatse. The US$2.1 billion line commenced in 2010 and is expected to open later this year giving passengers the ability to connect from Beijing through to the Mount Everest gateway of Shigatse.

With the arrival of the train, the journey from Lhasa to Shigatse shrinks five hours of driving over terrain ranging in altitude from 3,600 to 4,000 metres, to two hours by rail.

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AJ Hackett opens in Russia

Over three years of working with both Russian and New Zealand architects and engineers, then two years to build, phase one of AJ Hackett Russia is open.

Sochi Skypark or in Russian, ДОБРО ПОЖАЛОВАТЬ В, has a 69 metre Bungy Jump and a 439 metre long by 207 metre high Skybridge - the world's longest suspended pedestrian walkway - spanning the canyon.

Phase two will include a 207m Bungy - guessing it will be off the Skybridge; a 170m swing and 550m flying fox is scheduled to open end of 2014.

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Korea Tourism new brand

Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has launched a new tourism brand, 'Imagine your Korea'.  The new brand reflects KTO's ambition and aspiration to attract 20 million tourists and to advance Korea as a global tourist destination.

The new brand image emphasises the 'K' in Korea to symbolise a variety of resources that are offered in Korea such as K-Food, K-Culture, K-Pop and K-Style.

Coinciding with the new brand, the KTO is offering foreign visitors the chance to win one of eight trips to Korea this Autumn.  Winners will be asked to record videos of their journeys and share them online.

Enter online by August 31, 2014 at Eight winners will be selected at random to receive a four day vacation for two in Korea this October and November.

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Lonely Planet partners with Skyscanner

Lonely Planet has partnered with global travel search provider Skyscanner to launch a new flights-comparison engine.

The first time Lonely Planet has hosted an own-branded search engine, the mobile-optimised site has been incorporated into the recently re-designed site.

In addition to flights, the site provides information on 27,000 destinations and has a travel forum with a community of over 1.3 million members.

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AAT Kings 'bowls 'em out'

AAT Kings has fitted out one of its coaches with the world’s first mobile indoor lawn bowls green. AAT Kings is teaming up with Bowls Australia, Grassman and Scania, and setting out around Australia in a specially refitted coach before attempting a Guinness World Record for the 'longest marathon playing indoor bowls'.

Having stripped the interior of one of its luxury vehicles, removing almost all seats and replacing it with the indoor lawn bowls green, the newly decked AAT Kings coach will roll into several regional towns and metropolitan cities during July and August, inviting the public to climb aboard and have a bowl. The coach will then return to Sydney for the attempt at a Guinness World Record.

Decked out in its finest green lawn

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