Saturday, June 29, 2013
Fiji's effort to attract more international visitors has been given a significant boost with the launch of a new Tourism Fiji website to showcase the country and its attractions.
The search engine-friendly address, www.fiji.travel is a state of the art, interactive site that allows holidaymakers to organise most aspects of their visit themselves before they leave home, including obtaining quotes and making bookings.
The website's unique built-in Travel Planner can tailor individual preferences for the full range of Fiji's offerings - family holidays, romance, backpackers, diving and adventure. Prospective visitors can also share their holiday plans with friends and family via social media outlets such as Facebook.
Designed by a New Zealand-based specialist company, Sparks Interactive, the new website is part of the recently announced global rebranding of the country's tourism effort under the slogan "Fiji – Where Happiness Finds You".
Launching the site in Nadi, the Attorney General and Minister for Tourism, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said the initiative put Fiji on the cutting edge of website marketing and had important benefits for the Fijian tourism industry.
"We expect that the ability of holidaymakers to get quotes and book their holidays direct will lead to an overall increase in the number of bookings. Those direct bookings mean more money in the pockets of local operators, rather than their overseas agents, and more of the returns from tourism being kept in Fiji. Local operators are also empowered by giving them easy access to the website to showcase their various attractions. It acts as a kind of living travel brochure about Fiji that can be altered and updated at any time," he said.
"The international tourism market is highly competitive and there are many other destinations vying for the same trade. This website puts us in a great position because of its interactive capability and the imaginative way in which it showcases the unique Fijian travel experience," he said.
The Acting Chair of Tourism Fiji, Elizabeth Powell, said prospective holidaymakers now had a much higher degree of control over what they wanted to see and do in Fiji.
"Visitors used to be dependent on travel agents for advice or the word-of-mouth of family and friends. Now they can examine all of the available options on one interactive website from the comfort of their homes anywhere in the world. With all the information they need at their fingertips in a user-friendly online environment, they're in the best possible position to get the most out of their holidays and Fiji has more opportunity to get repeat business," she said.
The new website is a vital component of the major overhaul and brand transformation announced by Tourism Fiji last year. This includes the appointment of a new global advertising agency, the selection of new public relations and media partners in Australia, New Zealand and the US, the appointment of a new social media partner and the appointment of a new CEO, Rick Hamilton.
The Minister said Fiji had embarked on an exciting transformation in its efforts to market the country, grow the tourism industry and provide ordinary Fijians with more opportunities for employment.
Tradition and Innovation in Canada's Festival City
Edmonton's longest running festival is K-Days.
The festival began in 1879 as a forum for farmers to share ideas and trade goods. Like today's farmers' markets, the event showcased locally produced products including vegetables, grain and livestock. The inaugural exhibition took place on the site that is now the city's historic Fort Edmonton Park.
As the city grew so did the exhibition, reaching 80,000 visitors by 1910. The fair relocated to its current site at Northlands Park, which is a slap shot away from Rexall Place, home of the NHL's Edmonton Oilers. Over the years, organizers added attractions including midway rides and family entertainment to augment the popular agricultural showcase.
Producers gave the fair a facelift in 1964. They renamed the festival Klondike Days as a nod to Edmonton's past as a trading post for prospectors bound for the Northwest Territories during the Gold Rush. The theme was an instant hit, and attendance records grew to over 740,000.
This year, the festival celebrates a new name. Organizers asked Edmontonians to rename the festival, and the people picked K-Days, a nickname locals often used to refer to Klondike Days. Classic events have been brought back this year. People can pan for gold in Klondike Park or enjoy songs performed by Klondike Kate, the festival's iconic ambassador. But K-Days also looks to the future with its varied programming.
Today, music is as much a part of K-Days as the agricultural exhibition. Expect to catch Colin James and Down with Webster at this year's festival. In addition, K-Days showcases the next generation of talent with the K-Days Talent Search. The talent competition has featured rising stars, including last year's winners Jessy Mosop and Stephen Lecky, who went on to perform at the 2012 Canadian Youth Talent Competition. This year, the format expands to include different acts and older performers.
Organizers say the 'K' in K-Days can mean anything you want, which is fitting since anything can happen at the festival. In 2012, Mark and Kari-Ann Rattray celebrated their wedding day by doing what they did on their first date: they slid down the Kiwanis Giant Slide.
Across the river, a fledgling festival has tuned into the city's love of outdoor music concerts. Shauna de Cartier of Six Shooter Records combined her love of music and wine to create the Interstellar Rodeo.
She had attended Edmonton's popular Folk Music Festival since she was 14 and believed the popularity of the festival meant Edmonton had a huge appetite for great music, and the city could accommodate another outdoor music festival. A song lyric by Veal, one of the bands de Cartier represented, inspired the name of the festival while her love of Americana music shaped the line-up, but as the festival name suggests, she wasn't afraid to pick artists outside the genre.
The Heritage Amphitheatre in William Hawrelak Park played home to some amazing acts during the first festival. Randy Newman and Blue Rodeo were familiar faces, but it also featured some surprise hits such as the Caroline Chocolate Drops, who brought people to their feet after almost every song.
The new finds were not limited to artists either. Festival goers also discovered new wines, courtesy of Gurvinder Bhatia, a wine connoisseur who lent his expertise. He paired wines with artists, looking for the right notes in wines that best characterized the artists' musical personalities. The clever insights into artists and wine were a hit.
He is excited about finding the right wines for this year's performers, which include the Alabama Shakes, Steve Earle and the Dukes, Serena Ryder and John Fullbright. Whatever your musical or wine tastes are, Interstellar Rodeo will have something for you.
A new festival feature, Interstellar All-Stars, invites various artists such as Jim Cuddy, Danny Michel and Quique Escamilla on stage to learn and play each other's songs. This rare chance to watch artists collaborate is a music lover's dream. This isn't Edmonton's first Interstellar Rodeo, and it certainly won't be our last.
July 19 - 28, 2013
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July 26 - 28, 2013
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