SCOTCH EGG ON FACE

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel - Susan Kuro­sawa

TOURISM slo­gans are funny old things but Depar­tureLounge is much amused (and si­mul­ta­ne­ously ap­palled) by Tourism Scot­land’s latest ef­fort. Af­ter en­list­ing Scot­land’s top ad­ver­tis­ing brains and spend­ing the equiv­a­lent of hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars, the tar­tan bu­reau­cracy has come up with . . . wait for it: Wel­come to Scot­land.

The slo­gan will re­place air­port signs pro­claim­ing Scot­land to be ‘‘ the best small coun­try in the world’’ (so there, Vat­i­can City, Monaco, Nauru and co). That junked slo­gan, to Lounge ’ s mind, may smack of cringe but is sev­eral steps ahead of other new grab-phrases that are ap­par­ently part of a sign­board sweep of Scot­tish towns and re­gions, in­clud­ing Home of Europe’s Fastest Grow­ing Life Sci­ences Com­mu­nity.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, the Con­ser­va­tive Op­po­si­tion has gone on the at­tack. Gavin Brown, the Op­po­si­tion en­ter­prise spokesman, has said: ‘‘ Next, (First Min­is­ter) Alex Sal­mond will be telling us this is the best small slo­gan in the world.’’

Af­ter many years of traips­ing the globe and peer­ing through her glasses in dis­be­lief at posters and signs pro­claim­ing Jewel of the East (or west, north or south, de­pend­ing where one is stand­ing at the time), Lounge ’ s favourite slo­gan re­mains the one she en­coun­tered in the south­ern In­dian city of Mysore about 20 years ago. ‘‘ If this is your first visit to our city,’’ it read, ‘‘ you are most wel­come to it.’’

At least there is a lovely logic at play there, un­like in the US state of Wash­ing­ton. Tourism con­sul­tants fat­tened their wal­lets there with SayWA (pro­nounced wahhh), un­til a pub­lic out­cry de­manded Wash­ing­ton State Tourism pull it. Please don’t any­one tell West­ern Aus­tralia there’s an as-new slo­gan go­ing cheap.

HERE’S an African out­ing that has a ring of Pre­cious Ramotswe to it. Alexan­der McCall Smith’s No 1 lady de­tec­tive — she of tra­di­tional build and old-style val­ues — would surely ap­prove of Bench In­ter­na­tional’s new range of ‘‘ gen­tle ad­ven­ture pack­ages’’ in Africa for ladies only. In­cluded in the mix is an 11-day tour that in­cludes go­rilla-track­ing in Uganda.

Such wild en­coun­ters are not nec­es­sar­ily la­dy­like, how­ever, as any­one would at­test who had viewed Lounge at large in Tan­za­nia’s Ma­hale Moun­tains Na­tional Park about this time last year. Lounge was chimp­ing at the time and a com­bi­na­tion of steep slopes, slip­pery ground and poor bal­ance meant an un­sched­uled slide down from the jun­gle, in the man­ner of to­bog­gan­ing with­out the to­bog­gan. Lounge was heard to screech words not taught her by her mother and Mr Lounge was forced to gag her with the near­est khaki cra­vat.

The Bench In­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ences are lim­ited to small groups and sound like enor­mous fun. Chances of en­coun­ter­ing Lounge therein are very small, which could be a bonus for many. www.benchin­ter­na­tional.com.au

IT has been six months since News Lim­ited, pub­lisher of TheAus­tralian, launched its One De­gree cam­paign to re­duce our green­house gas emis­sions. Myr­iad ini­tia­tives have been im­ple­mented dur­ing that pe­riod but, in the fes­tive mood, it’s ap­pro­pri­ate to pass on One De­gree’s list of sim­ple ways to re­duce the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of Christ­mas.

1. Re­cy­cle Christ­mas pa­per from year to year.

2. De­posit Christ­mas cards and torn wrap­ping pa­per in your re­cy­cling bin or a Cards for Planet Ark box at su­per­mar­kets.

3. Con­sider the vol­ume of pack­ag­ing as­so­ci­ated with the gifts and food you pur­chase this Christ­mas and re­duce where pos­si­ble.

4. Use en­ergy-ef­fi­cient LED Christ­mas lights, which last up to 100 times longer than in­can­des­cent bulbs, and use less than 10 per cent of the power.

5. Turn off Christ­mas lights each night be­fore go­ing to bed or use a timer.

6. If hold­ing a party, opt for re­us­able rather than dis­pos­able cut­lery, plates and glass­ware; re­cy­cle dis­pos­able prod­ucts that must be used.

Af­ter all that, you re­ally can tell Santa you have been very good in­deed.

THAT fab­u­lous pop-up pro­duc­tion, Syd­ney’s St Ge­orge Ope­nAir Cin­ema, is back in 2008, kick­ing off on Fri­day, Jan­uary 11, with TheJaneAustenBook Club adapted from Karen Joy Fowler’s well­re­ceived novel of the same name.

Lo­cated at Mrs Mac­quarie’s Point, with deep views back to the Syd­ney Har­bour Bridge, the 350sq mscreen rises on a slow hy­draulic sys­tem to stand three storeys high. From Lounge’s past ex­pe­ri­ences perched up in the grandstand with a wickedly good Pat and Stick’s ice cream sand­wich, this mo­ment in­vari­ably is ac­com­pa­nied by whoops from the au­di­ence and the mad flap­ping of cir­cling fruit bats.

There’s a restau­rant and Chan­don bar on site and, as in past years, the cin­ema’s head hon­cho Rob Bryant has se­cured Aus­tralian pre­miere rights for open­ing night; also fea­tured on the di­verse agenda for the 34-night run are DeathataFuneral , TheKiteRun­ner and pre­mieres that in­clude Juno , Char­lieWil­son’sWar and the French hit Moliere. Tick­ets go on sale next Tues­day at 9am. But be quick; 34 of the 2007 sea­son’s 35 films were sell-outs. 136 100 or www.stge­orge.com.au/ope­nair. ■ LOUNGE loathes: De­part­ment store shop­per rage. What ex­am­ples are be­ing set for young chil­dren when there is un­seemly push­ing, shov­ing and mut­tered threats even at Santa’s Cave? ■ LOUNGE loves: Cu­nard Line’s latest liner, Queen Vic­to­ria, has been of­fi­cially named and launched by she who would be queen, HRH the Duchess of Corn­wall. The 90,000-tonne, 2000-pas­sen­ger ship, sec­ond in size to QM2 in the Cu­nard fleet, sets sail on its maiden world voy­age on Jan­uary 6. Billed as ‘‘ the youngest ocean liner ever to visit Aus­tralia’’, Queen Vic­to­ria will ar­rive in Melbourne on Fe­bru­ary 21, Syd­ney on Fe­bru­ary 23, Bris­bane on Fe­bru­ary 26 and Port Douglas on Fe­bru­ary 29. On Fe­bru­ary 24, there will a royal ren­dezvous with sis­ter ship QE2 in Syd­ney Har­bour. www.cu­nard­line.com.au. ■ FIND of the week: The new spa at Mir­vac’s Cairns In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel has re­ceived an ex­cel­lence award for best Li’tya spa fa­cil­ity. Aus­tralian prod­uct range Li’tya is based on Abo­rig­i­nal and na­tive bush heal­ing reme­dies and in­gre­di­ents and has been a suc­cess story in spas across the world. To cel­e­brate its win, the Cairns In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel is of­fer­ing a re­ju­ve­na­tion pack­age from $390 a per­son twin share that in­cludes two nights in a pre­mium har­bour view room, buf­fet break­fasts and ex­tras such as a re­lax­ation mas­sage for two; valid to Septem­ber 30. www.cairnsin­ter­na­tional.com.au. DEALS OF THE WEEK Dou­ble sav­ings on flights to China; cut­price Thai­land; early dis­counts on Mid­dle East and African tours; say hello to Dubai with a free night. Th­ese and other money-sav­ing of­fers are fea­tured in Travel&In­dul­gence’s hol­i­day deals, up­dated daily, which can be found via our up­graded and di­rect link.

www.theaus­tralian.com.au/travel/dd

Il­lus­tra­tion: Paul New­man

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