Six noteworthy travel industry CSR initiatives

For anyone that’s been compelled to go on weekend work getaway for a spot of mandatory teambuilding, corporate social responsibility (or CSR as it’s usually referred to) is more than likely to elicit little more enthusiasm than a languid groan.

While there are certainly some CSR initiatives that do little to inspire the mind, that’s not to say that there aren’t interesting ways for companies to provide a social service. And to its credit, the travel industry is one of the sectors that is increasingly taking a more proactive stance on the subject.

Here are just a few ways airlines and hotels have recently given back:

Wildlife trafficking prevention

Both Singapore Airlines and China Airlines signed the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration earlier this month, aimed at preventing the trafficking and transportation of illegal wildlife and products.

As signatories of the declaration, the airlines will provide staff training aimed at identifying and reporting suspected illegal wildlife and adopting a zero-tolerance policy.

“The illegal wildlife trade threatens the survival of many iconic species, and local communities that depend on nature-based tourism,” said International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac. “Airlines can play an important role in helping the authorities stamp our this appalling trade.”

The declaration currently has almost 40 airlines on board as signatories.;;

Tree planting

Korean Air has committed to volunteering to plant trees in Mongolia for the next 14 consecutive years, turning a previously deserted area at Baganuur 150km east of the capital Ulaanbaatar into an area that now has more than 110,000 trees planted.

Last month, this entailed more than 200 employees along with 600 local residents planting trees in what has since been renamed the “Korean Air Forest”. Covering 440,000sqm, the area now features mainly poplar trees, Siberian elm and sea buckthorn, the fruit of which is used in vitamin drinks.

Coral farming

From planting trees to planting coral – Hawaii-based Outrigger Resorts has set down nearly 100 football fields’ worth of coral over the past two years ever since it began its “Ozone” initiative. Aimed at enabling guests to get involved with sustainability projects, Ozone includes activities ranging from coral planting in Fiji to visiting marine rehabilitation centres in Thailand.

This month, to mark World Oceans Month, the hotel group’s properties are running activities ranging from educational tours of marine biological centres, to planting coconut trees, cleaning beaches, and creating coral nurseries, among others.

First-time flyers

Marking the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover back to China, Cathay Pacific took around 100 local children and their families on their first plane ride. Lasting 90 minutes and departing and landing back in the city, the B777-300 flight included a total of 230 guests along with some 60 volunteers from the airline including cockpit and cabin crew.

The children who participated were selected through a writing competition arranged by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service detailing how they had successfully overcome life challenges.

“As the city’s leading home carrier, Cathay Pacific is proud to have grown together with Hong Kong and its people for over seven decades,” said CEO Rupert Hogg. “The theme of this year’s Community Flight is ‘Inspiring Strength through Togetherness’, with the young participants being encouraged to strive together with determination in order to achieve their goals and follow their dreams.”

Organic meets

“Sustainability” is a popular buzzword in the corporate meetings sector at the moment, and rightly so – meetings can be an incredible source of waste when it comes to unused food, water, electricity, paper and plastic bottles.

Many companies now offer sustainable initiatives as part of their meetings offerings, and following the recent launch of its Blue Planet for Meetings plan, Radisson Blu calculates the carbon footprint of an event and offset it through projects in Guatemala, Malawi and India focused on water sustainability.

“Water sustainability is an important commitment from Radisson Blu, and we are delighted to partner with First Climate on dedicated water projects that will have a positive impact on communities as we help provide safe drinking water,” said Carlson Rezidor’s vice president of responsible business, Inge Hujibrechts.

Females of the future

As part of its efforts to develop future female leaders, Marriott International partnered with the Asian University for Women earlier this month, seeing 50 volunteers serve as mentors to the university’s students. The initiative will also see six students able to experience working with the hotel group in Hong Kong and its locations around south Asia.

“As a business that prides itself on its diverse talent, we’re honoured to help the next generation of women leaders achieve their full potential,” said Peggy Fang Roe, chief sales and marketing officer for Marriott International Asia Pacific. “Having seen first-hand how the Asian University for Women transforms the lives of its students, we’re thrilled to help even more young women gain the skills and confidence they need to succeed.”;

Five ideas for Father’s Day

Father’s Day is getting close – or at least, it is if you subscribe to the UK/US system of the third Sunday of every June. If not, then feel free to ignore the impending demands of coming up with a suitable gift or activity for another few months and simply wait until the appropriate day rolls around in September (we’re looking at you Australasia).

For the rest of us following the UK and US dates, Father’s Day falls on June 18. And whether you’re on the lookout for ways to honour your dad or are trying to surreptitiously suggest things you yourself would like, here are a few ideas to get you started.

Brunch, beer and Bali

The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali is running a Dads Super Brunch to commemorate Father’s Day, replete with beer, bikes and a BBQ. The hotel’s restaurant Prego, meanwhile, is running a bunch of activities that include arm wrestling, a mini golf tournament and wine tastings, while the Heavenly Spa by Westin is offering bonus benefits such as a foot massage or hair wash with each 90-minute well-being massage.

Add together these drinks, pamperings and gladiatorial feats of strength and they make for a rather grandiose, hedonistic occasion that wouldn’t be too far out of place in a Roman period drama.

Seafood and Champagne

Sticking with the brunch idea, Hong Kong restaurant Seafood Room in Causeway Bay district is running a Father’s Day brunch offering that includes free-flow Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne complemented by a number of new meat and seafood dishes. These range from beef tataki with balsamic truffle dressing, to a US prime beef tenderloin and lobster dish.

To add an extra touch on top, the first 40 fathers with a booking will get a lapel handkerchief from Neapolitan lifestyle brand Dal Duca. All others will have to settle for a mini bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne.

Prices start at HK$448 (US$57.5) per person (+HK$200 for free-flow Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne).

Boat rides on the Bay

Singapore’s Monti At The Fullerton Pavilion will be offering free-flow beer or wine as well as complimentary boat rides around the bay for all dads this Father’s Day (available upon request). These come as part of a lunch or dinner buffet (starting at S$90++ (US$65++) per person) with additional packages offering mocktails, wine and champagne also available at different price points.

Along with the complimentary boat rides, an additional hot carving station will also be making an appearance on Father’s Day, including dishes such as leg of lamb, polenta, salads and crushed potatoes.

Steak and cigars

Hong Kong restaurants Zafran, Aqua and Armani are offering fathers the opportunity to channel their inner Vito Corleone from The Godfather with brunches accompanied by drinks and cigars. For the Father’s Day weekend, Zafran is serving Rubia Gallega dry-aged rib-eye steak for HK$690 (US$88.5) with a complimentary Colombian Dictador 20-year-old rum and Cuban cigar in the restaurant’s pop-up cigar room. Meanwhile, Aqua and Armani is offering a HK$598 (US$76.7) Italian and Japanese brunch with free-flow Veuve Clicquot Champagne and cocktails along with a complimentary Davidoff Primeros cigar for the first 30 bookings at each restaurant.;

Oyster offerings

All of Regal Hongkong Hotels’ restaurants are serving up special Father’s Day meals, ranging from four-course meals to traditional Chinese dinners. But for a good seafood feed – importantly, including fresh oysters galore – Café Rivoli should be top of your list. For HK$668 (US$86), diners can tuck in to the restaurant’s dinner buffet that includes fresh oysters, lobster with cheese and scallops. A seafood platter consisting of lobster, brown crab, mussels, golden whelks, crab legs and prawns is also available, and for those of a more red-meat persuasion, 18lb roast US prime beef OP ribs are also on the menu.

Five upcoming airport developments in Asia

Chengdu Tianfu International Airport

Changi International Airport, Singapore

Singapore’s Changi Airport hit an all-time high of 58.7 million passengers in 2016, so it’s little wonder the world’s sixth busiest airport (for international traffic) is looking to increase its capacity.

Construction on Changi International Airport’s new Terminal 4 building completed in December last year, with interior installations and operations preparations beginning shortly after. Construction began on the new two-storey building at the southern end of Changi Airport in early 2014, and when it opens in the second half of this year, the terminal is expected to be accompanied by two multi-storey car parks, a two-storey taxi holding area and three vehicular and pedestrian bridges with direct access to the passenger terminal.

Terminal 4 will also see the introduction of fast and seamless travel (FAST) initiatives to Changi Airport, including elf-service and automated options ranging from check-in and bag-drop facilities to immigration clearance and boarding.

Meanwhile earlier this month, Changi Airport Group launched a Master Architect tender for the development of a Terminal 5 building, part of a wider development plan to increase capacity at the airport to meet growing passenger and airfreight demand. The development includes the establishment of a three-runway system at Changi Airport, with the entire project scheduled to be completed in the late 2020s.

Incheon International Airport, South Korea

Opened in 2001 and serving as the main airport for South Korea’s capital Seoul, Incheon International Airport is already stretched thin. Last year, the airport handled 57.7 million passengers – 3.7 million more than the combined 54-million-passenger capacity of its Terminal 1 and Concourse.

With this figure expected to increase to 62 million this year, Incheon Airport is quickly looking to finish its new Terminal 2 building, which is expected to open towards the end of 2017. The new building will bring the airport’s total capacity up to 72 million passengers.

Along with the additional capacity, Terminal 2 will also see the addition of new advanced technology, with Incheon Airport looking to introduce artificial intelligence and robotics, along with virtual and augmented reality to its systems and facilities.

Outside of the airport itself, a new golf course and an “airport city” mixed-use development are both also planned to open adjacent to the airport in the near future.

Beijing Daxing International Airport, China

China’s aviation sector is growing fast and the Chinese government has already expressed its intention to capitalise on this growth with plans to develop an additional 20 airports across the country by 2020.

Costing approximately RMB80 billion (US$11.7 billion), Beijing’s third airport – Beijing Daxing International Airport – is arguably the most important. Much like Incheon Airport, Beijing’s existing major international airport (and second-largest airport in the world) Beijing Capital International Airport has already exceeded its capacity, handling a total of 90 million passengers in 2015 – seven million more than its 83 million-passenger capacity.

Expected to open in 2019, the new airport will be located closer to the city in Beijing’s southern Daxing district. Its initial 45 million capacity may seem small compared to its over-capacity counterpart, though this will be expanded to 72 million in 2025 before finally expanding to 100 million in the future – larger than any other airport in the world currently operating.

Key among the new airport’s design is efficiency, with its farthest gate positioned just eight minutes’ walk away. Meanwhile the four runways are being designed in a manner so as to minimise delays by reducing taxi durations.

Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong

Hong Kong International Airport’s (HKIA) three-runway system had been under discussion for a long time, and is now set to come into effect around 2024. Meanwhile the upcoming Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge currently scheduled to open this year as well as the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok underwater tunnel due to open in 2018 are anticipated to significantly increase and improve access to the airport.

All these tie into HKIA’s plan to transform the airport into a major destination in its own right, most notably with the announcement of a new 668,000 sqm mega integrated development called Skycity near its Terminal 2 building. Phase 1 of the development will comprise the opening of a 1,000-room Regal hotel in 2020 (Regal Hotels Group’s second airport hotel in Hong Kong) and some 195,000 sqm of retail, dining and entertainment space.

Beyond the first phase, Skycity aims to offer attractions across five different areas: cybertainment, gourmet, edutainment, action and excitement, and events.

Chengdu Tianfu International Airport, China

Beijing isn’t the only major city in China getting a new airport. The new Chengdu Tianfu International Airport will be the Sichuan province capital’s second after Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, which currently has a maximum capacity of 50 million passengers.

The new RMB72 billion (US$10.5 billion) airport is set to have six runways and a capacity of 90 million when it begins operating in 2020. The airport is currently under construction in the city’s Yanghua district, about an hour’s drive from the city centre and also accessible from nearby Chongqing to the east once new road and rail link-ups are completed.

The airport is expected to become the city’s major international airport, with the existing Chengdu Shuangliu Airport likely to handle domestic flights.

The Business Traveller Asia-Pacific and China auction is nearly finished

The final phase of the Business Traveller Asia-Pacific and China charity auction is nearing its close, with bidding set to close next week.

Bidding for the final phase will end on February 28 when the auction comes to a close.

Items still up for grabs in the third and final phase include airline tickets, hotel stays across Asia-Pacific and beyond, as well as ferry tickets. Winners of each bid from the final phase will be individually contacted by email when the auction ends.

All proceeds from the Business Traveller Asia-Pacific and China charity auction go toward the Chi Heng Foundation, which provides educational sponsorship and psychosocial support to AIDS-impacted children in China.

To access the auction, bidders can go to Alternatively, the auction page can be accessed by visiting the Business Traveller Asia-Pacific website and clicking on the “Auctions” menu at the top of the page.

To place bids, you will need to sign in to the website using your normal Business Traveller password. If you do not have an account you can register here. If you have forgotten your password you can request a new one here.

Six new apps for business travellers

Close-up of a woman typing on a smartphone keyboard on a train


Where? Tokyo
Available for iOS

Tokyo’s Narita Airport recently launched an app specifically aimed at foreign visitors and designed to offer convenient services to help them explore the Japan capital. The Wamazing app (taking its name from developer Wamazing Inc.) offers a taxi-calling service for one of 12,000 taxis operating in Tokyo, along with the ability to pre-book activities and tours in the city.

Currently only available for travellers from Hong Kong and Taiwan in Traditional Chinese – travellers can download it ahead of arriving in Japan – the app is expected to be offered in English, Simplified Chinese and Korean in the future.

Narita Airport’s app was launched at the same time as its free SIM cards, which foreign visitors can also pick up. The cards have up to 500MB of data and can be topped up through the app.

Marriott Mobile

Where? Global
Available for iOS

Less a new app than a revamped one, Marriott Mobile underwent a recent overhaul to offer a more loyalty-focused service centred about offering members of its Marriott Rewards programme a more personalised and convenient digital experience.

The augmented app includes a number of new and upgraded features, key among these being the ability to request room upgrades get confirmation through the app before check in.

Other features include a live chat option for guests to make special requests to hotel staff, while the utility of its Mobile Key function is set to get enhanced by increasing the number of hotels that offer room access using a smart device by more than 500 this year.

The only downside is that the app is currently only available for iOS users, though an Android version is also in the works.

Qantas VR

Where? Global
Available for iOS, Android, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive

Very much what it says on the tin, the Qantas VR app features a selection of virtual-reality videos that users can download and watch using their smart device.

The app works in conjunction with Google’s Cardboard viewer – a separate cardboard box with two lenses that can comfortably sit a smartphone inside. When viewing the 360-degree videos using the viewer, they give the impression of virtual reality. For those with Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift or HTC Vive devices, the app is compatible with these viewers also, while two-dimensional non-VR versions can also be downloaded.

Showcasing many of the Australian destinations in Qantas’ network – including aerial footage of the Uluru and Kata Tjuta rock formations in Northern Territory, and Hamilton Island in Queensland, among others – the app is designed to offer travellers to Australia the chance to explore their destinations before they arrive.

Frequent Flyer

Where? US
Available for iOS and Android

Big data is big business and location analytics company Placed has developed an intriguing way to gather data while offering users (particularly business travellers) something that could be actually useful for them in return – airline rewards.

By downloading the app and sharing your location, Frequent Flyer gives you back points that can be redeemed for airline miles and gift cards. Additional points can be accrued by completing surveys, connecting your social networks and referring other users (the latter entitling you to 10 per cent of all points they earn thereafter).

While currently only available in the US – the app listed Alaska, United and Hawaiian Airlines as partner carriers as of August, according to technology news website Geekwire – Frequent Flyer offers a unique way for travellers to earn miles just through using their smartphone.

Business Check powered by Linkedin

Where? Global
Available for iOS and Android

Accorhotels’ Business Check powered by Linkedin was added to its existing mobile app, specifically geared to aiding corporate travellers.

The aim of the service is to allow users to easily search for people in their professional network that are based in a destination they are soon to travel to, facilitating business opportunities between professionals while overseas. The app also recommends relevant profiles users may want to connect with during their travels.

According to the hotel group, business travellers made up 60 per cent of its app user base when the Business Check feature launched in October last year. The Business Check function is available in 18 languages, including English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai.

Fly Delta

Where? Currently at 25 airports in Delta’s network
Available for iOS and Android

While Delta Air Lines’ mobile app, Fly Delta, is not itself new, the addition of a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) luggage tracking system is. In November last year, the American carrier began sending passengers automated push notification updates through their smart devices using RFID luggage tags to transmit each individual bag’s location.

Travellers get notifications when their bags are being loaded and offloaded and the carousel they’re being sent to, as well as the number of the flight on which they are being loaded. The feature is an expansion of its October addition of real-time RFID luggage tracking through the app, providing simplified notifications rather than requiring travellers to go directly into the app.

The world’s longest commercial flights

Qatar Airways' B777

With Qatar Airways having launched its new 17.5-hour non-stop flight between Doha and Auckland yesterday, the list of longest commercial flights has had a bit of a shake up.

Former title-holder Emirates appears to have been unseated, yet Qatar Airways’ position at the top may not be as secure as it seems, with new ultra-long-haul routes in the wings and other existing flights technically flying greater distances in a shorter time.

That said, here are some of the current and soon-to-emerge ultra-long-haul flights that are at the top of the list.

Qatar Airways

ROUTE Doha-Auckland
FLIGHT DURATION 17 hours 30 minutes
FLIGHT DISTANCE 14,535 kilometres

The flight that has secured Qatar Airways the crown for now, QR921 is the longest commercial flight by time returning from Auckland to Doha. The flight from Doha to New Zealand’s most populous city, meanwhile, is approximately one hour shorter.


ROUTE Auckland-Dubai
FLIGHT DURATION 17 hours 20 minutes
FLIGHT DISTANCE 14,200 kilometres

A similar route that previously gave Emirates the title of longest commercial flight prior to Qatar Airways’ new service. Dubai is slightly closer to Auckland than Doha, making the flight that little bit shorter in both duration and distance. Emirates recently upgauged to an A380 on the route, replacing the B777-200LR that previously operated the route.

Air India

ROUTE Delhi-San Francisco
FLIGHT DURATION 14 hours 30 minutes
FLIGHT DISTANCE 15,110 kilometres

Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco is perhaps the longest commercial flight by distance covered – not specifically to do with the distance between the destinations but the route the airline takes. Originally flying a shorter route over the Atlantic Ocean, the airline switched to a longer trans-Pacific route in October, according to Forbes. The Pacific Ocean route is about 2,000 kilometres longer but takes almost two hours less time to fly due to more favourable tailwinds.



ROUTE Perth-London
FLIGHT DURATION Approximately 17 hours
FLIGHT DISTANCE 14,498 kilometres
AIRCRAFT B787-9 Dreamliner
LAUNCHING March 2018

Originally taking four days and nine stops when Qantas first began flying the “Kangaroo Route” in 1947, Qantas’ Perth-London non-stop flight is due to take about 17 hours when it launches in March 2018. Qantas lost its position as titleholder of the world’s longest commercial flight when Emirates’ Auckland to Dubai flight unseated Qantas’ Dallas-Sydney flight. And with a distance of 14,498 kilometres, Qantas’ new London flight would have regained it the title from Emirates, were it not for Qatar Airways’ newly launched route.

Singapore Airlines

ROUTE Singapore-Newark
FLIGHT DISTANCE 15,344 kilometres

Originally operated by the only aircraft that could make the journey, the A340-500, Singapore Airlines scrapped its Singapore-Newark route in 2013, due in large part to the fuel-intensive nature of the aircraft. However in October 2015, the airline said it would resume the route – which takes between 18 and 19 hours – in 2018 using an A350-900ULR. At 15,344 kilometres, the route is reportedly the longest non-stop commercial route ever, according to Bloomberg.

Passenger traffic records broken in 2016

Singapore Changi Airport T3 entrance

Twenty-sixteen was a good year for air travel, if passenger traffic records are to be believed. Across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, numerous airports’ passenger traffic numbers shattered pre-existing records throughout 2016 – whether in individual months or higher annual passenger traffic than ever before.

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific takes a look at a few of those airports that broke passenger traffic records last year:

Singapore Changi Airport

Hitting a 5.9 per cent overall growth in passenger numbers over the previous year, Singapore’s Changi Airport saw a total of 58.7 million travellers pass through in 2016.

According to the airport, South East Asia, North East Asia and Oceania routes contributed the vast majority of the airport’s passenger traffic growth, at approximately 90 per cent. Particularly noteworthy was the rise of China from fifth- to third-largest country market, growing some 15 per cent.

Meanwhile, the airport’s busiest routes remained relatively steady, with Jakarta retaining its position as the busiest route from Changi.

Melbourne Airport

Melbourne Airport set a number of new records in 2016, among them a 10.2 per cent year-on-year increase in international travellers in December last year. The growth resulted in a December record of 952,855 international passenger departures and arrivals for the airport.

The airport also recorded a total number of international passenger departures of 511,238 for December 2016 – the first time the airport has handled more than half a million passengers in a single month.

The airport’s total 2016 passenger traffic, meanwhile, grew 4.6 per cent over 2015 to 34.6 million.

“We saw tremendous growth in overall passenger volumes throughout 2016,” said Lyell Strambi, Melbourne Airport’s CEO. “The challenge for Melbourne Airport in 2017 is to ensure we enhance our capacity to accommodate even further growth, with forecast passenger volumes that are unprecedented in the history of this vitally important asset.”

Hong Kong International Airport

While Hong Kong International Airport’s (HKIA) passenger traffic growth was close to half of that of Changi, at 2.9 per cent, its overall passenger numbers were higher, reaching a new annual height of 70.5 million.

“During the past year, HKIA also achieved new daily records in flight movements and cargo volume, reaching 1,270 flight movements and handling over 16,700 tonnes of cargo,” said Fred Lam, CEO of Airport Authority Hong Kong.

Local Hong Kong resident travel was the biggest contributor to the HKIA’s passenger traffic growth, hitting 11 per cent year-on-year growth over the same month in 2015, with the overall largest increases occurring to and from Japan and Europe.

Adelaide Airport

Having achieved its eight-millionth passenger in a single year for the first time on New Year’s Eve, it’s safe to say Adelaide Airport managed to achieve its new record truly in the nick of time. The airport served a total of 8.007 million domestic and regional passengers in 2016, with international passengers being the market with the strongest growth.

According to the airport, the additional 50,000 people that travelled overseas in 2016 had much to do with the introduction of Qatar Airways and China Southern services in May and December, respectively, along with new domestic services.

“It’s great to reach a milestone like this,” said Adelaide Airport managing director, Mark Young. “We estimate the eight-millionth passenger would have been flying in or out of Adelaide early afternoon on New Year’s Eve. That equates to close to 22,000 passengers per day on average, or nearly 1,300 passengers per hour of operation (6am – 11pm).”

Dubai International Airport

While Dubai International narrowly missed hitting record-breaking numbers in December last year, it did manage to set a new record for passenger traffic in July, only to break it again the following month. In August last year, Dubai International saw a record of more than 7.7 million passengers pass through – throughout 2016 the seven million monthly passenger mark was hit a total of six times.

These figures contributed to the airport retaining its title as the world’s busiest airport for international passengers, hitting a total of 83.6 million in 2016. Asia marked the second-strongest region for growth coming in at 11.4 per cent, behind only Eastern Europe.

“After emerging as the world’s number one airport for international passengers in 2014, DXB has firmly established itself as the leader in that category,” said Dubai Airports CEO, Paul Griffiths. With our new forecast for 89 million passengers in 2017, DXB is closing the gap on Atlanta and Beijing for the top spot in overall traffic.”

Six Asia-Pacific sporting events for athletic travellers

There are simple ways to improve your health and fitness

Exercising while travelling isn’t always easy – tight schedules, lacklustre facilities or even a plain old-fashioned dearth of motivation can all wreak havoc on exercise regimes when heading overseas.

But what if your itinerary was designed around a set-in-stone sporting event? By combining activities such as a short run or an intense marathon with business or leisure, a relatively straightforward trip can be something to look forward to even further.

Travel search engine Skyscanner has found a number of sporting events across Asia-Pacific that travellers can take part in while travelling in 2017. From casual 5km runs to 100km feats of endurance best left to those who are gluttons for punishment, here are six events in Asia-Pacific sporting enthusiasts can take part in this year.

Time to get training!

Wanjinshi Marathon

Where? New Taipei City, Taiwan
When? March 19
Distance? 7km, 14km and 42km

Covering New Taipei City’s Wanli, Jinshan and Shimen districts, the Wanjinshi Marathon saw approximately 12,000 runners take part in 2015. This year, the race starts at Wanli’s Pacific Hot Spring Hotel Green Bay car park and heads north along the course past the North Bay Golf Course and Shi Ba Wang Gong Temple, before ending in Shimen.

The Sunday morning run has an early start (6am for the marathon, 6:20am for the 14km and 6:50am for the 7km) with shuttle buses from three locations in the city.

The Music Run

Where? Singapore
When? May 6
Distance? 5km

The first of two more leisurely 5km runs on the list, The Music Run takes place on Singapore’s Sentosa Island and combines a mini-marathon with a music festival. Throughout the course, some 120 speakers are lined up playing different music in each of the five 1km sections – rock, pop, old school, hip hop and dance.

Runners can also vote on the music being played by casting votes on a special app, which are tallied in real time and push songs further up or down the playlist. After the run has ended, a festival with live bands, DJs, dancers, LED screens and fireworks takes place.

Andaman Trail

Where? Phuket, Thailand
When? June 18
Distance? 10km

Starting in Phuket’s Kamala area and finishing up at Bang Niao Dam, the Andaman Trail is designed to be a race for varying abilities. Runners are split into four groups depending on speed (runners can choose this upon registration), but aside from that runners are able to take their time on the run and staff are available to assist those in the final group to make sure participants can finish the race.

As its name suggests, the run is designed as a trail run, though according to the organisers approximately 90 per cent of the run does in fact take place on concrete, meaning first-time trail runners need not be too daunted.

Mongolia Action Asia 3-day Ultra Marathon

Where? Mongolia
When? June 16-18
Distance? 60-100km

The clue is in the name with the Mongolia Action Asia 3-day Ultra Marathon and at a distance ranging from 60km to 100km, this run is the precise opposite of a leisurely stroll in the countryside. That said, the goal of the run is actually to promote Mongolia’s natural terrain and top running locations.

Comprising single-track horse trails and open plains in the Steppes of Mongolia near the Siberian border, the specific location of the run is kept a secret until the night before each of the three days of running, when maps are given out to participants to promote exploration.

The Color Run

Where? Jakarta, Indonesia
When? August 7
Distance? 5km

With iterations in more than 35 countries across the globe, The Color Run is claimed to be “the single largest event series in the world”. The relatively leisurely run is just 5km in length, but the course is only half of the fun.

Every kilometre, runners have coloured powder poured on them – the aim being for runners to end the event more vibrantly multicoloured than an Andy Warhol painting. The event has two rules: wear white at the starting line; finish covered head-to-toe in colour.

Tough Mudder Melbourne

Where? Melbourne, Australia
When? October 28-29
Distance? 9km and 18km

Similar to the Color Run, Melbourne’s Tough Mudder event is designed to get you covered in colour by the end of it – only this time the colour is brown and the cause is mud. Claimed by the organisers as being “probably the toughest event on the planet”, the event is more obstacle course than run and tests participants’ strength, stamina and mental fortitude with a particular emphasis on teamwork.

This year, the event is introducing new obstacles that include climbing up a vertical tube while water rushes down, swinging across rings while suspended 30 feet above the ground, and wading through chest-deep water with a cage poised just inches above the surface.

Eight promotions for the Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year lanterns

As the Lunar New Year approaches, countless travellers around Asia-Pacific are preparing to travel for the holiday period. And while the season – as with many holidays – has a reputation for being an expensive time to travel, a swathe of promotions offering everything from savings to grand experiences are on offer.

With that in mind, Business Traveller Asia-Pacific has rounded up eight Lunar New Year promotions for those looking to make the most of the festive season.

The Peninsula Hong Kong

Along with peach blossom decorations, room and spa promotions and a traditional lion dance in the lobby on the first day of the Lunar New Year, Hong Kong’s Grande Dame is offering guests tours of the city to mark the festive period.

For starters, suite guests will be able to tour around Hong Kong in The Peninsula’s customised Mini Clubman car for up to three hours – a unique take on the Lunar New Year tradition of journeying around the city in order to bring luck and prosperity.

For those that want to take this concept even further, however, a helicopter ride around Victoria Harbour is also available. Following the aerial voyage, guests are able to have afternoon tea at the lobby as part of the package, which comes in at HK$2,167 (US$279.4) per person or HK$4,256 (US$548.8) for two people.

Qatar Duty Free

China Unionpay International credit cardholders at Hamad International Airport can take part in Qatar Duty Free’s (QDF) Lunar New Year lucky draw when they spend at least US$410 on QDF products.

Launched last week, the raffle involves eligible cardholders receiving a traditional red packet, which contains a shopping voucher valued at either QAR100 (US$27.5), QAR150 (US$41) or QAR200 (US$55).

The promotion is set to run until February 7, with the vouchers being valid for use until February 9.


Combining accommodation and dining discounts, Swissôtel is offering guests that book before February 11 reduced rates of up to 35 per cent on guestrooms and 15 per cent on F&B.

Applicable for stays between January 25 and February 12, the promotion notably is aimed at both domestic travellers within China and those heading further abroad for their travels. Participating hotels include Swissôtel Beijing, Swissôtel Grand Shanghai, Swissôtel Kunshan and Swissôtel Foshan, along with properties in Bangkok, Basel and Dresden.

A similar 35 per cent promotion on premium rooms is also being offered by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts for its properties in China, Switzerland, Monaco and Ukraine.


A relative newcomer to the luxury travel scene, Asia travel destination club Afini launched in November last year. The club is a combination property-leasing platform and subscription membership concept, enabling members to book one-of-a-kind accommodations at lower rates than industry norms along with experiencing customised service.

In addition to travel options over the festive period, Afini is offering prospective members limited celebratory lifetime memberships for US$8,888 – eight is, after all, a lucky number in Chinese tradition. Those that join by January 20 will also receive 2,000 travel credits towards their first journey.


Travellers can expect a number of different promotional Lunar New Year offers from Dubai-based luxury hotel chain Jumeirah, depending on the property in which they are staying. Guests heading to the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah in Dubai will receive 20 per cent off the best available room rates, for instance, along with a complimentary dinner for two guests at the hotel’s Al Iwan. Meanwhile, those staying at other properties in the company’s portfolio – including the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, or any of the hotels as part of the Madinat Jumeirah resort – can get a 20 per cent discount off the Jumeirah Flavours rate, along with complimentary breakfast, lunch or dinner.

In addition to its Dubai properties, though, Jumeirah is also providing a three-night package at its Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah, Istanbul in Turkey. The €150 (US$159.9) package also offers a 20 per cent discount on spa treatments at Per Spa by Spa Soul and 25 per cent off on Harvey Nichols and Brandroom stores. 

Jetstar Asia 

Likely the most counter-intuitive Lunar New Year promotion on this list, Singapore-based low-cost carrier Jetstar Asia is promoting something few airlines at this time of year would hope to encourage – not travelling during the holidays.

Up until January 28, the airline is waiving all change fees and fare difference when moving flight departures on the eve and first day of the Lunar New Year – January 27 and 28 – to a different day. The campaign is intended to encourage travellers, particularly younger generations, to spend the holiday period with their families rather than heading overseas.

In fact as part of the campaign, Jetstar conducted a social experiment. The airline showed young travellers who had free tickets for flights over the holiday period clips of their family members discussing the importance of the festive season to them. The aim was to see whether these travellers would be willing to give up their tickets in order to stay home for the Lunar New Year. Check out their reactions below.

Onyx Hospitality

Singapore-based hotel and serviced residence company Onyx Hospitality has introduced a promotion for the Lunar New Year offering discounts of up to 20 per cent on bookings made at 31 of its properties across Asia and the Middle East. These include hotels and serviced residences across the group’s Amari, Ozo, Shama and Mosaic Collection brands.

Travellers can make use of the promotion – which runs until January 31 – using the promo code CNY2017. The promotion covers stays taking place between February 1 and 28.

Royal Caribbean Cruises

For those looking to find their sea legs in 2017, Royal Caribbean Cruises is offering discounts on some 22 cruises aboard two of its vessels: Ovation of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas. The cruise company has recently extended the duration of the two vessels’ homeport seasons in Hong Kong – which will take place between July and November this year.

While the travelling itself isn’t for the Lunar New Year, prospective cruisers can nonetheless get a discount of up to 25 per cent on their selected voyage when booking four- to five-night sailings from today (January 18) until January 31 as part of the company’s Lunar New Year promotion. Destinations include Sanya, Okinawa, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Keelung, Hualien, Kaohsiung and Taichung.

Livery transplant: new aircraft designs

Brussels Airlines' A320 Magritte livery

Cathay Dragon

Cathay Pacific regional subsidiary Dragonair’s transition to its new Cathay Dragon brand was close to a year in the making, initially having been announced in January 2016 and coming into effect on November 22. The rebrand, which along with a new name and logo, introduced a livery that was designed to highlight brand cohesion with its parent carrier, while maintaining its original character.

The red variation of Cathay Pacific’s brushwing logo, along with the inclusion of the former Dragonair logo towards the front of the aircraft, seems to have managed to do just that – though opinion seems to remain divided on whether it beats the former design. In our online reader poll, 51 per cent of you said you preferred the new livery, logo and name, compared to 49 per cent who like the old Dragonair designs better.


Like the Cathay Dragon rebrand, Qantas’ new livery design was accompanied by a new logo when it launched in late October, however instead of a new name the airline introduced with it new cabins for its Dreamliner aircraft.

The new aircraft livery sports the carrier’s streamlined Flying Kangaroo logo (gone are its arms and subtle head details) along with a new non-italicised font. This sleeker design undoubtedly feels more modern and appears to be a subtle improvement. According to our reader poll, 60 per cent of you said you like the new livery better than the previous iteration.

Eva Air

Eva Air has become known for its series of Sanrio cartoon character-themed aircraft liveries. Starting with its first Hello Kitty Jets livery in 2005, the carrier has regularly launched new designs, along with introducing new characters.

In November, Eva Air unveiled its new Gudetama-themed livery, featuring Sanrio character Gudetama, an animated fried egg. The designs showcase the popular breakfast food character basking in the sun and enjoying a life of travel, accompanied by such items as a bacon rasher blanket.

The Taiwanese carrier’s design has been outfitted on its Airbus A321-200 initially servicing Tokyo Narita, while similarly themed cabin products – ranging from culinary objects to pillows and headrest covers – are offered inside.

Jet Blue

While legacy carriers such as Qantas were busy making themselves appear more modern with contemporary livery designs, relatively young US carrier Jet Blue went in a different direction. Unveiling its “Retrojet” livery in November, Jetblue – which launched in 2000 – wanted the new design to celebrate the iconic jet age by “reverse-engineering” its current brand imagery.

The resulting one-off A320 design features blue and orange “speed stripes”, time period-appropriate typeface and a 1960s jazz-style font on the tailfin. Travellers can check out the aircraft first-hand by flying the carrier’s New York JFK-Palm Springs International route.

China Airlines

Taiwanese carrier China Airlines introduced two notable livery designs in 2016 – a co-branded China Airlines/Boeing design in May celebrating the carrier’s tenth B777-300ER and the 100th anniversary of the manufacturer, and an A350-900XWB design in October featuring one of Taiwan’s endemic bird species, the Syrmaticus Mikado.

The Boeing aircraft, which has been deployed on the airline’s Frankfurt and North America routes, features the manufacturer’s blue and white colour scheme on the fuselage.

The Syrmaticus Mikado design, meanwhile, is set to adorn a total of 14 new A350-900XWBs between now and 2018. The livery features an image of the bird just behind the wings along with wispy landscape designs in different shades of blue along the side of the aircraft.


As with Eva Air’s Gudetama theme, Aeromexico’s design for its first B787-9 Dreamliner featured a colourful illustration-based concept, this time designed by Mexican graphic artist, Jose Manuel Escudero.

Aeromexico’s new design was the result of a four-week-long competition, with Escudero’s concept beating out more than 1,000 rival entries.

The winning design features traditionally inspired imagery depicting animals in various bright colours, while the aircraft it was applied to has since been named Quetzalcoatl (“Feathered Serpent”), a deity of pre-Hispanic Mexico.

The new livery was unveiled in September and can be seen on routes between major airports in Europe and Asia.


One of the more simplistic and conventional livery designs on this list, Latam’s new look features blue and red stripes on the tailfin reminiscent of the carrier’s logo, which appears at the front of the aircraft by the airline’s name.

The design was the result of the consolidation of Lan and Tam Airlines into a new unified Latam brand back in August 2015. The first aircraft to sport the design – a B767 – departed Rio de Janeiro on May 1 last year as part of a flight to collect the torch for the 2016 Olympic Games.

All of the South American airline’s aircraft are expected to sport the new livery by 2018, including on its new, longest-ever flight between Santiago and Melbourne, which is set to begin on October 5 this year.

Brussels Airlines

From conventional to creative, Brussels Airlines’ Magritte livery is perhaps the most artistically inspired livery to come out of 2016. Featuring two of Belgian artist René Magritte’s paintings, La Clairvoyance and Le Retour, the A320 livery was developed by three Belgian designers from the airline’s marketing team in collaboration with the Foundation Magritte, and was spray-painted on by airbrush artist, Andre Eisele.

The Magritte livery is Brussels Airlines’ second in its series of aircraft designs celebrating Belgian icons – the first featuring the character Tintin. The design is set to remain on the aircraft until 2020.