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Geoff Wilson First Australian to Complete Solo and Unsupported Crossing of Antarctica

Jan 17 (Fri ), 2014

 Adventurer Geoff Wilson has carved his own piece of history in Antarctica’s ice, becoming the first Australian to complete a solo and unsupported crossing of earth’s southernmost continent and setting a new world mark in the process.    The Gold Coast veterinarian has been kiting, trekking and skiing across Antarctica on a 53-day, 3,428.53km kilometer journey since November last year – with his pink ‘boobsled’ in tow - to raise breast awareness and funds for the McGrath Foundation.   “I wasn’t expecting to finish my journey so quickly, but after a couple of weeks of horrendous conditions the last few days were perfect and I was travelling up to 200 kilometers daily, the longest stretches I’d been able to accomplish on the crossing,” Geoff said from an ice shelf at Hercules Inlet, where he is awaiting an airlift to Union Glacier and then home via Chile.   Wilson, 43, has averaged one and a half marathons daily. He is the first Australian, and just the third person in history, to complete a solo and unsupported crossing of Antarctica.   Along the way he also set a new world mark for the fastest solo and unsupported crossing of Antarctica, smashing the record Norwegian Børge Ousland had held for 17 years, by 11 days.   “Australia has a proud and rich history of Polar exploration so it’s just a tremendous feeling to achieve this record for Australia and set a new mark for the others to chase,” Wilson said.   Leading Polar guide and adventurer Eric Philips OAM, who is widely regarded as a world expert on Polar exploration, described Wilson’s achievement as one of the ‘most extraordinary Antarctic accomplishments in recent history’.   “The Norwegians have traditionally been at the forefront of cutting edge polar adventuring but Geoff has taken it to them with an achievement that is truly world class,” Philips said. “I don’t think this mark will be broken for a while – men like Geoff don’t come around every year – he’s one of that rare breed that continues the great tradition of Australian Polar exploration.”   Hobart-based Philips, a guide with Prince Harry’s team on the Walking With The Wounded Antarctic expedition last month said Wilson’s feat was all the more extraordinary as it was totally unsupported.   “Geoff has had no physical assistance from a single person during the past 53 days, relying solely on his own resourcefulness and the wind to cross Antarctica from one side to the other,” Philips said. “And that would have been extremely difficult as there were a couple of temptations along the way, particularly when he reached the South Pole and was just meters away from a hot shower, a big steak, a glass of red, a warm bed and a flight home. He’d already accomplished so much by then that it would have been very easy to say ‘enough’s enough’, but he didn’t and I knew he wouldn’t the moment I met him – Geoff Wilson is an extraordinary man. A handful of other people have crossed Antarctica, but they have been supported with resupplies - Geoff is one of just three people in the history of Antarctic exploration who has taken on the crossing and won with zero physical support.”   Philips only met Wilson last year but became a vital link in the Pink Polar Expedition assisting with gear choices, tactics and permissions.   “The gear is critical and can mean the difference between success and failure on the ice,” Philips said. “The Antarctic is both beautiful and brutal and I can envision what Geoff was up against in the middle of the storm that delayed the Walking With The Wounded expedition in Cape Town. Thankfully his tent held out, but he also proved himself to be a very patient and resourceful man in the face of such danger.”   Wilson has also set a new national record for the longest solo and unsupported Polar journey by an Australian (previously 1,130 km) and become the first and only Australian to do the approach to the South Pole the long way from Novo Station on the South African side of the Antarctic Coast.   Since starting the Pink Polar Expedition on 13 November 2013, Wilson has lost about 18 kilograms, but none of his sense of humour as he joked about an unofficial record he can add to the list.   “I’m pretty sure I’ve just become the only man in history to drag a pair of pink boobs across Antarctica,” he laughed. “My body’s a little battered and so is the pink ‘boobsled’, but it also slid into the history books on Sunday, which is great because it is the symbol of what this journey has been all about.”   The Pink Polar Expedition was inspired by Wilson’s friend Kate Carlyle, who at 35, is a two-time breast cancer survivor.   “I couldn’t watch Kate go through her breast cancer experience without doing something and we have worked on the Pink Polar Expedition together from the outset,” Wilson said. “Katie represents every Australian woman experiencing breast cancer and those women inspired me to keep going. There were many days that I was tired and broken and feeling that I couldn’t go on but I’d remember those women and draw strength from their courage. I don’t think you could do something like this unless you were driven by a passion and I am passionate about raising breast awareness, particularly in young women, and funds for the McGrath Foundation. I saw the wonderful support Katie received from her breast care nurse and the difference that support made to her and her family. The great work the McGrath Foundation does was publicly celebrated at the ‘pink Test’ yesterday but it was also one my private inspirations on this journey, another motivation to keep me going on the tough days.”   The Pink Polar Expedition is self-funded with the support of generous corporate sponsorship so 100% of all donations go to the McGrath Foundation.   “My target when I set out was to raise $1 million and even though my journey on the ice has finished I’m not going to give up on that reaching that fundraising goal,” Wilson said. “We’ve had tremendous support from all the people who’ve been following the Pink Polar Expedition – I was very chuffed to hear that my favourite chef Jamie Oliver shared an image from the ice on Instagram the other day and, funnily enough, that was the day the wind came up! I love the McGrath Foundation’s tagline ‘together we can make a difference’ and I still believe that the Pink Polar Expedition can raise $1 million dollars which would fund three McGrath Breast Care Nurses to support Australian families experiencing breast cancer in communities around Australia.”   Personally Geoff has missed some important moments in his own family’s life while on the ice, including his son’s 13th birthday and Christmas.   “My family has been behind me every step of the way and every step I’ve taken is one step closer to home and to them,” Wilson said. “My wife Sarah has been amazing – from letting me build the pink ‘boobsled’ from a cast of her breasts to being my ‘mental coach’. And my three children have never stopped believing in me, despite their Dad being the crazy guy dragging a pink ‘boobsled’ across Antarctica! Home is my next journey and I can’t wait to get off this ice shelf and start it!” 

Red Planet Unveils Major Japan Expansion for Tune Hotels through 2020

Jan 17 (Fri ), 2014

 Red Planet Hotels has unveiled details of a multi-billion yen expansion into Japan, with plans to grow the Tune Hotels brand in the country.   Through Red Planet Hotels' newly established and JASDAQ-listed subsidiary, Red Planet Japan, the company will make an initial JPY10 billion (US$100 million) investment over the next six years, establishing a platform to grow the Tune Hotels network in north Asia.   From its Tokyo headquarters, Red Planet Japan will implement its pledge to open 20 hotels by 2020 for which a number of sites have already been confirmed in and around Tokyo and other major Japanese cities. Red Planet Japan's first hotel under the Tune Hotels flag opened in Naha, Okinawa last year.   Red Planet Hotels Chief Executive Officer and Red Planet Japan Director, Tim Hansing, said recent announcements by the Japanese government to promote inbound tourism and infrastructure investment in the country was a positive step forward for new hotel brands to enter the market.   "Now that we have established ourselves and the Tune Hotels brand in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, our strategy has always been to expand in north Asia and we will be commencing this move in Japan first of all,” Mr Hansing said. "We have been investigating a number of opportunities in Japan for some time and with the government actively courting inbound travel and tourism investment, now is the perfect time for Red Planet Japan to work closely with our partners at Tune Hotels to bring the brand that has been so well accepted in nine other countries to Japan.   "We are already open in Naha on Okinawa and very soon we will have a network in key locations across Japan. We have made a significant investment already to fund our expansion in Japan and are fully committed to bringing a well-established international hotel brand to the country's travel and tourism landscape.   "Our vision to have 20 hotels in Japan by 2020 is crystal clear as the year will be a significant milestone for the country when it hosts the thirty-second Summer Olympics.”   Mr Hansing added that Red Planet Hotels is actively exploring expansion into other north Asian countries, including South Korea and Taiwan.   As of 16 January 2014, Red Planet Hotels is the sole owner and operator of 18 Tune Hotels with 2,789 rooms across Japan, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. It has a further 12 hotels under construction in those countries.   Red Planet Hotels also has an ownership interest in a further 11 operational Tune Hotels through its investment in Tune Hotels Limited.   Established in 2007, there are 38 Tune Hotels operating 6,056 rooms globally in nine countries with Malaysia, England, Scotland, Australia and India being the other territories where the brand is operating.  

Japan Snow Guide Mobile App Launched

Jan 05 (Sun ), 2014

Outdoor Japan Media and MapMotion launch Japan Snow Guide mobile app, the new comprehensive English-language guide to Japan’s snow resorts and winter sports in Japan   Available for free on the iPhone & iPad from the App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/app/id781360770     MapMotion KK (Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, CEO: Craig Will) and Outdoor Media Japan Inc. (Chigasaki-shi, Kanagawa, CEO: Gardner Robinson) are pleased to announce the release of the Japan Snow Guide mobile app, Japan’s first comprehensive English-language guide to Japan’s ski resorts and snow country.  The free app is available for download starting today from Apple’s iTunes App Store.   The Japan Snow Guide app helps people get out and enjoy Japan’s amazing snow country, resorts and winter hospitality. Japan is blessed with a mountainous terrain that receives some of the heaviest snowfalls in the world and is dotted with natural hot springs. Inside the app, users will find information on Japan’s top resorts, objective resort spotlights, original editorial on featured destinations and activities, event listings, real-time accommodation booking in resort areas, weather conditions, highlighted local services and regular lift ticket giveaways and other promotions during the season.   MapMotion and Outdoor Japan Media have collaborated to bring end users a compelling mobile experience – a single app that lets users plan their trip, get to their destination and enjoy the local scene.  Comprehensive content from Outdoor Japan Media, publishers of Traveler magazine, Outdoor Japan Online and  the annual Japan Winter Sports Guide is included, from ski resort and trail information to original feature stories and winter event listings.     MapMotion has integrated this information into the mobile app, adding GPS-enabled map views, directions, bookmarking and trail map downloads.  The app also integrates weather content, a comprehensive shop list for travelers who need to pick up last-minute winter gear, the ability to book accommodation directly from the app and the option of receiving push notifications about lift ticket giveaways and hyper-local deals related to the resort a user is visiting.   The app targets the growing market of inbound travelers from overseas who are interested in experiencing Japan’s winter wonderland, as well as the international community living in Japan.  Japan’s countryside can be a challenging destination for inbound travelers. Japan Snow Guide helps solve this with comprehensive English-language content and GPS enabled map views and directions. For visitors from overseas, who often have limited data connectivity, most of the app content is also viewable offline, including Japanese language addresses to show to local taxi drivers.   FEATURES INCLUDE: - Resort information - Mountain information - Original trail maps, and downloadable resort trail maps - Weather - Events - Featured resorts and services - Real-time accommodation bookings - Original feature stories and articles - Shop List for finding great winter gear throughout Japan - GPS enabled map views and directions - Push Notifications - Facebook integration and sharing - Bookmarks and Favorites   * Additional content and features to be continually updated   Japan Snow Guide Web: www.japansnowguide.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/japansnowguide Twitter: www.twitter.com/japansnowguide   About Outdoor Media Japan: Outdoor Japan Media is small publishing house in Japan that publishes Traveler magazine, the first bilingual magazine focused on travel and adventure in Japan and the region, Outdoor Japan Online, the first portal promoting active travel to Japan in every season, the Japan Snow Guide, the free annual English guide to winter sports in Japan, the Golf-in-Japan Web site, free surfing guide to Japan and the Japanese edition of The Surfer's Journal, the premium reader-supported surfing magazine.   About MapMotion: MapMotion is a Tokyo based technology venture that enables innovative geo-location services, by providing a platform that simplifies the delivery & management of apps, location content, user-generated data, GPS signals and push notifications. MapMotion produces mobile apps for a wide range of customers and offers its APIs and technology platform to partners and developers.    Contacts: Outdoor Japan Media Contact Person:  Gardner Robinson Tel:  +81-467-81-3212 Email:  gardner@outdoorjapan.com   MapMotion Contact Person:  Craig Will Tel:  +81-3-5411-0778 Email:  craig@mapmotion.jp  

Great Outdoors Hong Kong Promotion Extended

Nov 19 (Tue ), 2013

This year’s “Great Outdoors Hong Kong” promotional period has been extended from five weeks to about three and a half months to encourage more visitors to enjoy Hong Kong’s alluring natural attractions. From now until 21 February 2014, ten guided tours along six themed hiking trails will be available for visitors on various Saturdays and Sundays. Also, and for the very first time, the HKTB has collaborated with a local cycling group to organise four guided cycling tours for visitors to enjoy Hong Kong’s scenery in a new way. These cycling tours will be held once every month between November 2013 and February 2014. The route will run from Shatin to Tai Po, spanning about 16km. Schedules for the guided hiking and cycling tours: 10 November 2013 - Metropolitan Woodland - from Lugard Road to Pok Fu Lam Reservoir 16 November 2013 & 4 January 2014 - Farmland & Wetlands - from Nam San Wai to Ha Pak Nai 30 November 2013 & 18 January 2014 - Geological Landscapes - from High Island Reservoir East Dam to Sai Wan Pavilion 7 December 2013 & 15 February 2014 - Heritage Hike - from Tung Chung Town Centre to Tai O 14 December 2013 & 11 January 2014 - Hong Kong Panorama - from Shatin Pass Road to Kowloon Reservoir 28 December 2013 - Urban Getaway - from To Tei Wan to Tai Long Wan Guided Cycling Tours - Hong Kong: From Shing Mun River to Tai Po Waterfront Park (Tolo Harbour Cycling Track) on: 22 November 2013 20 December 2013 24 January 2014 21 February 2014 In addition, the HKTB has published a brand new “Great Outdoors Hong Kong” activity guide, which features various hiking trails, cycling tracks and outlying islands in Hong Kong, and offers information on guided tours organised by the travel trade, allowing free independent travellers to fit green tours easily into their itineraries.  The activity guide will be available at major ports-of-entry and HKTB visitor centres, and from hotel concierges during the “Great Outdoors Hong Kong” promotional period. Local residents can sign up for hiking tours organised by the AFCD. Each tour is for a maximum of 1,000 persons, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

AirAsia X to Launch Flights to Nagoya, Japan

Nov 19 (Tue ), 2013

AirAsia X is to launch flights between Nagoya’s Chubu Centrair International Airport and Kuala Lumpur from 17 March 2014.   AirAsia X will operate the route with four weekly flights into Nagoya, Japan.   The airline currently operates daily flights to Tokyo (Haneda) and four weekly flights to Osaka (Kansai) from Kuala Lumpur.   To celebrate, AirAsia X is offering special fares from as low as MYR199 (JPY6 990) in Economy and MYR699 (JPY 24 900) in Premium to Nagoya.    Bookings are available online from 19 to 24 November 2013 for travel between 17 March and 5 August 2014.    “This marks another milestone for AirAsia X and reiterates our expansion commitment in the key markets we operate in with the Asia Pacific Region. With the addition of Nagoya, guests will have more travel options to explore Japan, and we believe Nagoya being a scenic and historical destination will be a popular tourist destination. We have carried over half a million passengers to and from Japan. Japan contributed over 14% of our total revenue in the first half of 2013,” said Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of AirAsia X. “Nagoya is strategically located just 50 minutes from Osaka and 1 hour 40 minutes from Tokyo via train. Guests may soon fly direct to Nagoya, and take a train to the metropolitan and capital city of Japan; Tokyo or visit the commercial centre of Japan, Osaka in the Kansai region and return from any of the ports we serve in Japan. Nagoya has much to offer, be it for families or even the back packers, the choices of attractions are endless.”   Fly-Thru routes available from Nagoya are: Adelaide, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney in Australia; Kochi in India; Bali, Bandung, Jakarta, Medan and Surabaya in Indonesia; Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Langkawi and Penang in Malaysia; Singapore; Taipei in Taiwan; Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand; and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.  

Japan Airlines to Expand JAL New Sky Project

Oct 29 (Tue ), 2013

Japan Airlines is to further expand its JAL New Sky Project and install inflight internet service on select domestic flights within Japan. JAL New Sky Project was initially launched by the airline in January 2013 with the introduction of the JAL Sky Suite 777 on international routes.    The revamped aircraft boasts increased comfort and functionality in all classes. Leading the redesign are the airline's new fully-flat seats in JAL Business Class.   The new JAL Sky Suite 767 will be introduced onto select international flights starting in December 2013.   As part of this latest Project, JAL will revamp cabin interiors on aircraft operating on select domestic routes, which will include the installation of leather seating and LED lighting throughout the cabin.   Another highlight of the new Economy Class seat is a slim-style seatback design resulting in approximately 5cm (max.) more legroom than the present seat pitch, providing customers with a more comfortable travel experience.   Additionally, inflight internet service, currently available on select JAL international flights from July 2012, will be first installed onto select Japan-domestic flights.

20th Laguna Phuket Triathlon

Oct 15 (Tue ), 2013

20th Laguna Phuket Triathlon - Nov. 24, 2013 The 20th Laguna Phuket Triathlon will take place on Sunday 24 November, marking the beginning of Laguna Phuket’s week long Tri-Fest.   This year’s Laguna Phuket Triathlon (LPT) will celebrate its 20th anniversary while welcoming inaugural Challenge Laguna Phuket (CLP) on Sunday 1 December to its iconic multi-sports weeklong event Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest 2013.   During the proceeding seven days, Laguna Phuket will be a hive of activity, with athletes and guests taking part in social activities, training sessions and competitions at the destination resort.   On Sunday 1 December, athletes will race in the Challenge Laguna Phuket – a longer, more challenging triathlon, comprising a 1.9K Swim, 90.1K Bike ride and a 21.1K Run.   The days between the two spectacular events in Phuket will be filled with a Tri-Fest of training and social events held in and around the Laguna Phuket destination resort.   This triathlon carnival has proved a popular attraction for international athletes eager to sample the delights of Thailand while rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ruedi Wild and Radka Vodickova, last year’s Laguna Phuket Triathlon champions.   Ruedi Wild triumphed at Laguna Phuket last year in 2:29.22. Following Wild home were an elite field of seasoned athletes including Tim Meyer, Alberto Cassadei, Massimo Cigana, and Simon Agoston.   The 2012 women’s field top finishers were Radka Vodickova, Belinda Granger, Edith Niederfringer, Nickey Barnard, and Sarah Wheeler.   In the Challenge Laguna Phuket, 2012 Champion Melissa Hauschildt of Australia – has registered to return to defend her title. She’s set to face strong challenges from a field that will include Vodickova and Granger, who finished second and third respectively last year.   LPT and Challenge Laguna Phuket are once again set to see high-calibre fields of elite men’s pros taking on their tropical challenges.   Reigning World Champion Pete “PJ” Jacobs has confirmed he will race the inaugural Challenge Laguna Phuket half distance triathlon on 1 December – setting up an intriguing contest with fellow Australian Chris “Macca” McCormack, the defending title-holder, two-time World Champion, and Challenge Ambassador, for a slice of the race’s 25,000 Euro prize purse.   Italians Massimo Cigana and Alberto Casadei will try to make an impression on the two Australian champions in a filed that also features Laguna Phuket Triathlon 2012 champion Ruedi Wild from Switzerland.   The enduring appeal of Laguna Phuket Triathlon and the unique challenges of Challenge Laguna Phuket are attracting entries from leading international pro athlete personalities, as well as age groupers worldwide.   To date, a combined 1,500 athletes have signed up for the two main races. Registration for the 2013 half distance Challenge Laguna Phuket is open until 20 November and total of approximately 1,800 athletes are expected to sign up this year.   “The two Laguna Phuket’s triathlons are recognised as being organised at one of the best destinations,” said Phuket Governor Maitri Inthusut “especially the 20-years-standing Laguna Phuket Triathlon which I consider the success of Laguna Phuket and the pride of Phuket Province.”   Mr. Suvadhana Sibunruang, TG’s Director Brand Management and Commercial Communications, said “Congratulations to Laguna Phuket and Phuket Province on the 20th anniversary of Laguna Phuket Triathlon! Thai Airways is pleased to offer 15kgs excess baggage allowance exclusively for athletes booking online at challengelagunaphuket.com”

Record Number of Visitors to Japan in August

Oct 10 (Thu ), 2013

According to Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), the number of international visitors to Japan in August 2013 was 907,000 (17.1% increase from August 2012). This was a record number on a monthly basis and exceeded the number of foreigners who came in August 2010 (803,000) by 104,000. JNTO also announced that the estimated number of Japanese overseas travelers in August 2013 was 1,842,000, a 6.2% decrease over August 2012. The outbound figure decreased over the same month of the previous year for the seven straight months.

20th Annual Rota Blue Triathlon

Oct 10 (Thu ), 2013

20th Annual Rota Blue Triathlon November 16, 2013 The event is sponsored by the Kiyokazu Fitness Club of Japan, Marianas Visitors Authority and the Rota Mayor's Office.   The event features two distances: an A-type half-marathon distance, which includes a 1.5 km swim, followed by a 40 km rigorous biking course and a 10 km run (no time limit) and the B-type Olympic distance, which includes a 2.0 km swim, followed by a 90 km biking course and topped off with a 21 km run (8-hour time limit). For team competitors, there will also be triathlon of the A-type distance, again with no time limit. Pre- registration will be held on Friday, November 15, 2013 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Bay Breeze Restaurant & Bar.    The swim course inspection will be held the same day from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the East Harbor.    Final registration will take place that evening from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Rota Resort & Country Club's Sunset BBQ Tiki Tiki. The pre-race briefing for all participants will be held that evening from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Starting time for both distances is 6:30 a.m. at Rota's East Harbor.    Wetsuits are permitted, while bike helmets are required.   Registration fees are $80.00 for A-type course solo competitors and $70.00 for each member in the team category. The fee for the B-type course is $100.00.    The entry fee includes an event t-shirt, high-quality swim cap, and an invitation to the awards banquet at the East Harbor.   Prizes: Men's/Women's Top Three & Categories. The annual Rota Blue Triathlon is one of four major triathlon events held in the Northern Mariana Islands, joining the XTERRA Saipan Championship, Tagaman Triathlon, and the Tinian Turquoise Blue on the list. For more information about the annual triathlon, please contact Frank Tudela at 1 670-664.3200/01 or ftudela@mymarianas.com, or Sandra Atalig at the MVA Rota Office at 1 670-532-0327.

Izu Surf Film Art Show Oct. 19-20, 2013

Oct 08 (Tue ), 2013

Check out the Izu Surf Film Art Show coming up Oct. 19-20 in beautful Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka. IZU SURF FILM ART SHOW 5 海外、国内のアーティストの作品を集めたサーフアートイベント! Oct. 19-20, 2013 http://izusurfart.com/