By Ellen Boonstra, Asia correspondent >>

GIVING NEW MEANING to the phrase ‘close to nature’, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort is giving guests a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the night observing Thailand’s majestic elephants in their natural habitat – while staying in unique transparent Jungle Bubbles.

Unfolding across 160 acres of Northern Thailand’s ancient jungle, the resort is set atop a hill overlooking the Mekong and Ruak rivers.

The secluded location is exclusively positioned to take in majestic three-country views over the confluence of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, and grazing elephants in the most stunning of natural settings below.  

Located in the jungle, the two pods are perched on raised wooden decks offering uninterrupted views of the elephants, as well as stargazing at night.

The Jungle Bubbles were custom designed by Eye In The Sky and are constructed with high-tech polyester fabric using exclusive ‘Precontraint technology’ – developed by innovative French materials company, the Serge Ferrari group – to create a milieu in which guests can enjoy an immersive, close-to-nature experience.


To complete the glamour camping experience – known as ‘glamping’ – the well-appointed bubble accommodation is fully air-conditioned, offering 22 square metres of indoor floor space; a 4.5m diameter bedroom and living space, with a king bed and seating area under a transparent roof; and an enclosed, non-transparent ensuite shower and vanity.

Guests at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort can purchase the Jungle Bubble experience as an optional activity and spend the night from dusk till dawn, returning to the hotel in the morning.

Rates start from 17,700 Thai baht per night (A$850) for two people and this includes a delectable dinner basket; a fully stocked mini bar; 24-hour in-room dining service; and tea and coffee making facilities. 

As leaders in the field of ethical elephant tourism, the resort is the driving force behind the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, set up primarily to help elephants that cannot help themselves.

The foundation assists local people that find themselves, through abuse or through circumstance, unable to provide and maintain an income for themselves, for their mahouts (people who work with elephants) and their families.

Here appropriate activities are designed that allow the elephant caretakers to raise the funds they need to look after the elephants without forcing them into activities they might not enjoy.



BRISBANE hosted more than 940 business events worth an estimated $351 million in economic impact in the 2018-19 financial year, almost doubling the previous year's results according to the most recent Queensland Business Events Survey.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the Queensland Business Events Survey showed the meetings, incentives, conference and exhibition sector in Brisbane was enjoying "incredible success". Support of long-term exhibitions and conferences continues to pay off, in spite of visitor market fluctuations.

“2018-19 saw 209,000 delegates attend a business event in Brisbane, delivering 579,986 delegate days – a 44 percent increase on the previous financial year,” Cr Schrinner said.  

“The business events sector is vital to Brisbane, boosting our economy, growing our knowledge sectors and supporting our accommodation, venue, hospitality and service providers.

“The biennial Brisbane Truck Show always delivers a major economic boost, attracting over 34,000 visitors to the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) in May 2019 and generating an estimated $75 million in economic impact," he said.

“Brisbane’s world-leading research and expertise also secured international events including the Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology Congress with 1,500 delegates in April, and the Australasian Sonographers Association Annual Conference with 1,200 delegates in June.

“Our success continued throughout 2019 with the Asia Pacific Cities Summit and Mayor’s Forum in July. This event attracted 1,400 government, business and emerging leaders from 140 cities for four days of talks on the innovation, mobility, liveability and sustainability of cities.

“Held in November 2019, the strategically important International Air Transport Association (IATA) Slot Conference brought together 1,200 representatives from international airlines and airports to plan future flight schedules," Cr Schrinner said.

“Playing host to this conference gave us the opportunity to provide industry with a first-hand experience of Brisbane’s transformative growth and the mid-year opening of Brisbane Airport’s second runway, as we continue our focus on attracting new direct airline services.” 

Economic development board Brisbane Marketing worked with the State Government and Brisbane Airport Corporation to secure an AirAsia service from Bangkok (June 2019), Qantas services from San Francisco (February 2020) and Chicago (April 2020) and a Virgin service from Haneda, Tokyo (March 2020).


Brisbane Marketing’s general manager of business and major events, Juliet Alabaster, said the city sets itself apart with a Team Brisbane approach to building its visitor economy.

“Our strategic partnerships with BCEC, all levels of government and industry trailblazers continue to produce successful bids and grow Brisbane’s profile as a leading business events destination,” Ms Alabaster said.

“A wave of tourism infrastructure including the Howard Smith Wharves dining, entertainment and events precinct, new four- and five-star hotels and experiences has also played a huge part in our ability to attract conferences and incentive events.

“Brisbane continues to break records with international and interstate visitation and spending at all-time highs, while BCEC enjoyed its most successful financial year ever and passenger numbers at Brisbane Airport during 2019 exceeded 24.1 million for the first time.”

Business events to be held in Brisbane in 2020 include:

  • · Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Asia Pacific Forum and Exhibition 2020 BCEC, 800 attendees expected.
  • · Hort Connections – BCEC, 1200 people.
  • · 2020 Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction – BCEC, 2500 people.
  • · 23rd International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED 2020) – Royal ICC, 1000 people.
  • · Flight Centre Global Gathering 2020 – 4000 people.
  • · Land Forces 2020 – BCEC, 1000 people.
  • · NKT-IKBU Buddhist International Fall Festival 2020 – Royal ICC, 2500 people.
  • · Early Childhood Australia National Conference 2020 – BCEC, 2000 people.
  • · Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists Congress 2020 – BCEC, 1500 people.
  • · International Pediatric Sleep Association Congress (IPSA) and Sleep Down Under 2020 – BCEC, 1000 people.


THE Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has congratulated Tourism Australia on launching the first step in its  Holiday Here This Year campaign.

“This campaign has been quick off the blocks and will work to capitalise on the good will and sentiment shared by all Australians in helping to get the communities affected by bushfires back on their feet,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said. 

“With tourism at the heart of so many regional communities, encouraging Australian’s to prioritise a holiday at home is a great way to support the rebuilding of these towns and recoup some of the summer’s lost revenue.

“Tourism Australia is leading the charge with their expertise and reach and it’s great to see the positive collaboration between our national and state based tourism marketing bodies in delivering a single message of recovery," Mr Shelley said.

“While getting our domestic market engaged is a great first step in helping the devastated regional communities, our international campaign needs to encompass support for every destination."

Mr Shelley said the bushfires have had a severe impact on the international perception of Australia as a travel destination with a 40 percent reduction in forward bookings from Western markets including the UK, Europe and the US and a 20 percent overall decline.

“Despite the fact that most of the favoured holiday spots for international visitors have been unaffected, people looking to visit Australia have been spooked," Mr Shelley said.

“While this domestic campaign is a great first step, we are keenly anticipating the next stage of the recovery campaign and its focus on rebuilding brand Australia for our international audience.”


THE Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of a $76 million industry specific bushfire recovery fund.

“Today’s announcement of the Governments Rebuilding Australian Tourism package will be welcomed by tourism businesses across Australia,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said. 

“We applaud the key initiatives nominated to help the inbound tourism sector to recover, including an increase in international media and social media influencer engagement along with support for the Australian Tourism Exchange which is our largest annual trade show,' he said.

“While tourism businesses on the frontline of recent bushfires have an immediate need for support in their recovery, our global reputation as a holiday destination has been significantly impacted and we need to act urgently to reassure visitors that Australia is open for business.

“The inbound industry has experienced millions of dollars in cancellations from intending international travellers and we are also seeing a significant decrease in forward bookings which we have estimated will reduce inbound tourism revenue by up to $4.5 billion," Mr Shelley said.

“Timing is now of the essence with key booking windows from our larger international markets closing towards the end of February, therefore engaging these markets in the short term, especially via the established tourism trade channels will be critical.

“Our united strategy needs to be strong and nuanced, clearly defined, well-resourced and expertly executed in order to balance the swirling negative perceptions of Australia which have come off the back of the bushfires.

“Australia’s tourism industry is the economic backbone of many of the regional communities impacted by the recent bushfires.  As an industry employing one in 13 Australians and an inbound sector contributing more than $44bn a year to the national economy, we can’t afford to waste any time getting our export tourism outlook back on track," he said.

“While Australians understand the extent of the bushfire damage, and have already been keen to re-engage and support the affected areas, we need to work hard to positively influence the narrative around our global reputation as a leading tourism destination.”


MORE THAN 450 export tourism industry leaders from across Australia will gather in Brisbane this week for the Australian Tourism Export Council’s (ATEC) annual Meeting Place event.  

Meeting Place, which has been taking place annually for more than 40 years, will be the largest on record and is recognised as the premier business-to-business (B2B) and conferencing event for what is known as the 'export tourism industry' or inbound tourism. 

This year’s Meeting Place conference program ‘Into the Future’ features a strong line up of thought leaders and industry insiders who will lead discussions on current global issues affecting the travel industry.  

“Representatives from tourism councils in South Africa, New Zealand and Europe will provide insights into the global marketplace and share their experiences, while local inbound operators will unravel some of the complexities of our inbound marketplace, providing valuable insights into the performance of our key inbound tourism markets over the next 12 months - including China, North America, UK/Europe, Japan and India,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“Other highlights of the conference program include a presentation of Tourism Australia’s recently launched ‘Come Live Our Philausophy’ campaign, insights into encouraging more international travellers to visit regional Australia by Deloitte Access Economics and a forum focused on the development of a sustainable tourism industry.

“This year Meeting Place also has a number of new initiatives including the Marketplace exhibition area featuring a range of business tools to help grow tourism businesses.”  

Queensland's Tourism Industry Development Minister, Kate Jones said hosting ATEC Meeting Place was an opportunity to showcase Queensland.

“Welcoming Australia’s tourism industry to Brisbane for the 2019 ATEC Meeting Place, is a fantastic opportunity to showcase Queensland and drive future growth in our tourism industry,” Ms Jones said. 

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said he looked forward to welcoming the largest ATEC conferencing event. 

“Hosting ATEC Meeting Place is the first step to showcase Brisbane and appeal to influential travel industry buyers who operate in Australia’s key international markets," Cr Schrinner said.

“On the back of our city’s significant transformation, with new luxury hotels, entertainment precincts, restaurants and leisure experiences, we are being internationally recognised as a premium destination and competing with our southern neighbours.  

“We are excited to host more than 450 tourism leaders at the annual ATEC conference and take part in valuable discussions about the tourism industry. Tourism is such an important market -- we want to drive tourism in Brisbane and the surrounding regions."

The Meeting Place conference program will conclude with comic, Vince Sorrenti, before guests head to one of Brisbane’s newest and most popular destinations, the Howard Smith Wharves, for ATEC’s annual Gala Dinner and Awards.
Significant event partners for Meeting Place 2019 are Brisbane Marketing, Tourism and Events Queensland, Qantas and Brisbane Airport.


BRISBANE MARKETING and Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) have appointed BrandStory in Singapore as their strategic marketing and travel representation agency in Southeast Asia.

Brisbane Marketing CEO, Brett Fraser said it was a momentous day for Brisbane’s tourism industry. He said the establishment of this consortium marked a new era for Brisbane and is the first time the city has coordinated resources to target key international markets.

“This appointment clearly signals Brisbane’s intentions as a destination,” Mr Fraser said.  

“Brisbane has seen extraordinary growth in visitor numbers, infrastructure development and tourism product over the past five years. 

“Our work through BrandStory will help us better tell this story to our key markets and develop business for Brisbane-based operators.”

The BrandStory appointment is a key element of the three-year partnership between Brisbane Marketing and Brisbane Airport Corporation to boost recognition of Brand Brisbane in international markets.

Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO, Gert Jan de Graaff, said the decision to team with Brisbane Marketing to jointly fund and engage an agency with ASEAN market expertise was a mutually beneficial approach. 

“The pooling of significant additional funding by BAC and BM via this unique partnership has enabled the appointment of this specialist agency that will represent our shared interest in promoting Brisbane to this important market, making it more compelling for travellers to visit and stay longer in Brisbane.

“This is especially timely given our growing capacity and capability with the opening of Brisbane’s new runway mid-next year,” Mr de Graaff said.

The agency will work closely with other Australian representatives, including Tourism Australia and Tourism and Events Queensland, to maximise destination awareness in market. BrandStory is a strategic marketing and travel representation consultancy based in Singapore and will represent Brisbane across ASEAN markets.

BrandStory executive director, Peter Phang said he was delighted to take on the commission.

“Brisbane is an exciting destination with high appeal in South East Asia,” Mr Phang said. “We are delighted to be representing Brisbane and will deliver a powerful voice for the Greater Brisbane region in this highly competitive market."

The BrandStory appointment follows the recent signing of Advocate Travel Marketing to represent Brisbane in the North American market. Advocate Travel Marketing is a specialist trade and consumer engagement agency based in Los Angeles, now representing Brisbane in the US and Canada.

In January 2019, Brisbane Marketing and Brisbane Airport Corporation entered into a new multi-million-dollar international partnership marketing program to implement world standard destination marketing campaigns for Brisbane and to improve awareness of the city as a global destination for leisure travel.




THE Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has welcomed Tourism Australia’s new international Philausophy campaign which "will bring a focus to Australia’s unique place in the international tourism marketplace".

“While the global market for international tourism continues to grow, Australia also faces increasing competition from destinations willing to invest significant marketing budgets into attracting international visitors,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said.

“Finding new ways to connect and showcase Australia’s unique offering is a vital way for us to stand out in a crowded marketplace and this campaign hones in on some of the things that make Australia a truly special and unique travel destination." 

Mr Shelley said Australia was becoming an increasingly popular leisure destination, with 77 percent of visitors travelling here for holidays and that figure due to increase over the next decade.

“Tourism Australia is continuing to evolve our marketing campaigns in order to deliver not only a stronger message to-market, but to engage a more sophisticated and enduring visitor relationship," Mr shelley said.

"Our unique Australian personality is being celebrated in this campaign - a welcoming and positive message which has been well received by leading international travel buyers representing our key markets.

“The ‘Come Live our Philausophy’ campaign will highlight the Australian lifestyle and outlook on life in order to create inspiration to travel here, and with international visitation expected to almost double in the next decade, it's campaigns like this that will help to drive this growth.

"While Australia possesses many attractive and competitive natural and man-made tourism attributes one thing that is different is our unique, welcoming and relaxed Australian personality – an attribute which is consistently highlighted in guest books and review sites country wide by international visitors."


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