VICTORIA's peak tourism industry body has encouraged Rolling Stones fans to take the opportunity to enjoy the array of cultural, culinary and natural attractions the Macedon Ranges region has to offer this week, despite the cancellation of the band’s concert.

“People planning a weekend in the beautiful Macedon Ranges can still enjoy so many wonderful restaurants, galleries, national parks and golf courses and we encourage them to take this opportunity to explore the region,” said Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) Chief Executive Dianne Smith.

Attractions include:

- Boutique wine cellar doors and fresh farm produce shops
- Restaurants and cafes serving the finest local produce
- Specialist art galleries
- Six public golf courses
- The picturesque Macedon Regional Park, Hanging Rock, Lerdederg Gorge State Park and the Cobaw Ranges 

The area also boasts diverse wildlife, including more than 200 species of birds and a wide variety of mammals, including koalas, kangaroos, swamp wallabies, wombats, possums and gliders.

Ms Smith’s comments followed the rock band’s sudden cancellation of a scheduled concert this weekend due to a band member’s illness.

VTIC commended the Macedon Ranges Shire Council on working to ensure the detrimental impact of the cancellation on local industry was minimised.

The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) is the peak body for Victoria’s tourism and events industry, providing one united industry voice.

Tourism and events are growth industries for Victoria and contribute $19.6 billion to the state economy each year and employ more than 200,000 people.

vtic.com.au

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PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said retailers could count on some steady improvement in retail sales over the Christmas period based on 2014 pre-Christmas sales predictions prepared by the ARA and research partner Roy Morgan Research.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said shoppers would spend a whopping $45 billion from 15 November until 24 December, representing a 4.3 percent gain on sales during the same period in 2013 ($43 billion).

“The 4.3 percent growth may result in shoppers starting their Christmas shopping a little earlier this year, rather than leaving it until late December. However, we also know that the week before Christmas will remain the busiest time for pre-Christmas shopping, and therefore the most profitable time for retailers.

“Delving further into the ARA/Roy Morgan figures we are expecting the hospitality, food and household goods categories to experience higher levels of growth this Christmas than apparel. This comes as no surprise as department stores and clothing, footwear and personal accessories usually rely on last minute Christmas promotions for any significant growth in sales during the festive season.

“Looking at the states and territories, the ARA is pleased that all are expected to see growth of between 1.2 percent (WA) and 6.1 percent (NSW), apart from the ACT which may experience a slight decline in sales of -0.4%.

“This time last year the ARA forecasted $42.2 billion would go through retail tills during the pre-Christmas trading period and this figure was later confirmed at an actual pre-Christmas spend of $43 billion. The ARA’s forecast was almost bang on, and while concerns remain over consumer confidence and low jobs growth, it’s fairly safe to say the retail industry is optimistic for a cracker Christmas this year,” Mr Zimmerman said. 

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Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $258 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said retailers are hopeful that the upcoming Christmas trading period will be better than last year with three quarters of retailers (75%) expecting a small yet solid growth in Christmas sales.

According to the latest Deloitte Retail Review survey, there appears to be genuine optimism about Christmas trading regardless of retailers expectations that sales growth isn’t likely to exceed a modest 5 percent.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said it wasn’t surprising that two out of three respondents believe Christmas trading is a “critical’ or “very important” trading period.

“For some retailers, Christmas trade can make up to 60 percent of yearly sales – meaning the festive season is an extremely important time for retailers to make up for what has been a tough year in business.

“This time last year the ARA and research partner Roy Morgan Research released an official pre-Christmas sales forecast of $42.2 billion expected to go through retail tills from mid-November 2013 to 25 December 2013. This figure was later confirmed at an actual pre-Christmas spend of $43 billion.

“The ARA’s forecast was almost bang on – and we are expecting our pre-Christmas figures for the 2014 trading period to be even higher. We will be releasing our official pre-Christmas figures next week.

“The Deloitte Retail Review survey provides some interesting information around expectations for online growth which continues to be greater than overall retail sales. The majority of retailers with an online presence are predicting Christmas growth of between 1 percent and 10 percent, which possibly reflects a maturing of the level of online retailing compared to a few years ago.

“It’s great to see that 83 percent of retailers are predicting higher online sales than last Christmas and over half (51%) of these are expecting 10 percent growth in digital sales. 

“Disappointingly, however, the survey revealed that retailers believe they will need to cut margins by discounting this Christmas. The good news though is that 49 percent of respondents said that they expect modest increases in margins, meaning retailers might not need to discount as much as they have done in previous years. It’s certainly a positive sign that the ‘slash and burn’ style discounting around Christmas is less likely this year as retailers fight to protect margins,” Mr Zimmerman said.

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Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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SIX finalists will present at QUT today (THURSDAY 6 NOVEMBER) for the chance to win the G20 Global Business Challenge and $100,000 in prize money.

The Challenge, a business competition for universities and business schools, is being run by Brisbane's three universities, QUT, The University of Queensland (UQ) and Griffith University along with the State Government.

The competition, being run in the lead up to the G20 Global Leaders' Summit, tasked teams from the world's top graduate schools and universities with developing an "innovative solution to use, recycle and/or manage water to achieve beneficial large scale impact".

Forty teams representing 18 countries submitted entries, and the six finalists will today present their ideas to a panel of judges of Australian and international business leaders.

The finalist teams represent the University of Pennsylvania/Berkley/UQ, University of Warsaw, Memorial University Canada, Nottingham University UK, UQ, and Griffith University

QUT Graduate School of Business Executive Director, Bob O'Connor, said after the volume and quality of entries, it was an achievement in itself to reach the finals.

"Judges have been hugely impressed with the innovations teams have devised in an effort to find a sustainable solution to what is a global problem," he said.

"The new technologies and ground-breaking business and financial models finalists have developed can lead to credible projects that could one day solve a critical water issue within communities across the world."

The winners will be announced at a gala dinner this evening, held at Room Three Sixty at QUT's Gardens Point campus.

The first-placed team will receive $100,000, with $15,000 to the second-placed team and $10,000 to the third.

Team presentations will take place today from 8am to 4pm, in Room P421, P Block, at QUT's Gardens Point campus.

Team finalists are:

AFK Studios, representing the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania, and The University of Queensland

Nasa, representing The University of Queensland

Impacts Solutions, representing Griffith University

Team Memorial, representing Memorial university of Newfoundland Canada

BIOrangers, representing: Warsaw School of Economics, Polish Japanese Institute of Information Technology in Warsaw, Warsaw University of Life Sciences Poland

Aquor, representing: University of Nottingham UK.

More information on the G20 Global Business Challenge can be found at www.g20gbc.org

www.qut.edu.au

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There are only two days left to apply for State Library of Queensland’s inaugural Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation fellowship program.

Four fellowships valued at $15,000 each are on offer to fund research projects relating to Queensland’s experience of the First World War, both on the home front and the warfront.

State Librarian Janette Wright said the fellowship program is a unique opportunity for researchers to explore and create new knowledge about our state’s history and commemorate 100 years since the First World War.

“We are calling for fellowship applications from across Queensland, particularly those that draw attention to the untold stories of the First World War,” Ms Wright said.

“Following the key criteria — relevance to Queensland and the First World War, new knowledge, use of collections, project outcomes and project viability — fellowship outcomes may include anything from a publication, an online engagement activity, a cultural activity or product, a significant acquisition or a curatorial contribution to the John Oxley Library collection.

“State Library is a leading collector of Queensland’s documentary heritage and the fellowship program aims to make these resources more visible and accessible to Queenslanders and the rest of the world,” she said.

The John Oxley Library is a key custodian of Queensland’s documentary heritage and presents a wealth of opportunities for researchers or anyone fascinated by Queensland’s First World War experience to contribute to our state’s history.

Together with the $15,000 stipend, each fellow is allocated a workspace for up to 12 months, access to the John Oxley Library collection and support from State Library staff.

Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation, is a five year legacy project led by State Library and proudly supported by the Queensland Government, commemorating the centenary of the First World War and Anzac across Queensland.

Fellowship applications close at 5pm on Friday 7 November 2014.

Visit slq.qld.gov.au for more information and to apply.

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PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) welcomes the Victorian Government’s support in delivering retail training specifically tailored to the Indian market through new funding under the Victoria India Skills Partnership Start-Up Allowances program.

The ARA’s training arm, the ARA Retail Institute, is Australia’s leading retail training organisation.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said this funding will enable the ARA Retail Institute to partner with India’s peak organisation for retailers, the Retail Association of India, to deliver retail training in the Indian state of Maharashtra over the next three years.

“The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) looks forward to working alongside the Retail Association of India and forging a close relationship to ensure retail success both today and in the future. We are extremely proud to be part of this innovative project.

“The ARA welcomes the Victorian Government’s support in developing trade around skills in retail education, creating a significant skills export opportunity for Victoria and the retail sector.

“The ARA would like to thank the Victorian Government for this $100,000 grant that will certainly help people in India to develop internationally transferable skills in the retail industry as well as enhance the reputation of Victoria’s world class vocation training system,” Mr Zimmerman said.

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Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the retail industry is hoping the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) decision to keep the cash rate on hold at 2.5 percent will provide enough stability to stimulate pre-Christmas sales as the crucial festive season fast approaches. 

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the RBA remains one of the few central banks able to offer that support to the economy globally.

“While retailers didn't receive their Christmas wish of an interest rate cut today, the industry remains optimistic that the festive trading period will soon be in full swing and the stable cash rate may encourage consumers to loosen their purse strings early-mid November in the lead up to Christmas.

“While in an ideal world the RBA would be able to lower interest rates even further to support small businesses, the fact that the cash rate has remained low for some time now has seen retail trade figures increase (albeit slightly) month on month.

“ABS figures released this morning indicated monthly retail sales for the month of September increased 1.2 percent (month on month). In order for sales to continue building momentum as Christmas approaches, and for the retail industry to return to a growth of 6 percent, the Federal Government and RBA must do all that they can to ensure that retail trade is fully supported as consumers start to plan their holiday shopping.

“Some areas of Australia have also felt the effects of upcoming state elections which may result in lower levels of consumer confidence – an issue that businesses could certainly do without at this crucial time of year. With states such as Tasmania (0.8%) Queensland (0.4%) and Northern Territory (-0.6%) all falling under the month on month growth of 1.2 percent, the RBA must continue to hold a steady hand and ensure these states return to a percentage growth closer to the national average.

“There has been talk that interest rates may start to rise in 2015 but retailers believe the RBA will need to continue to support the economy via low interest rates for some time,” Mr Zimmerman said.

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Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

PEAK retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the seasonally adjusted rise (1.2 percent increase) in monthly retail trade figures (month-on-month) reported today by the ABS followed a 0.1 percent rise in August 2014.

Year on year retail growth rose 5.7 percent in September 2014 (seasonally adjusted, compared to September 2013).

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said retailers noticed a small upward swing in sales in September despite unsteady levels of consumer confidence.

“In seasonally adjusted terms the largest contributor to the rise was household goods retailing (4.1%) where electrical and electronic goods retailing recorded growth (9.2%). According to the ABS, this figure was heavily influenced by the release of the iPhone 6 during the month of September.

“Other industries which experienced rises were cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (2.0%), food retailing (0.4%) department stores (1.3%) and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (0.4%).

"As the ARA predicted last month, the arrival of spring certainly provided the above sectors with a boost in sales with consumers stepping out to socialise at their local cafes and restaurants as well as much-needed encouragement to start purchasing new summer stock in stores across the country.

“In seasonally adjusted terms the states which displayed rises were New South Wales (1.7%), Victoria (1.3%), Western Australia (1.3%), Queensland (0.4%), South Australia (1.2%), the Australian Capital Territory (1.9%) and Tasmania (0.8%). This was partially offset by a fall in the Northern Territory (-0.6%).

“The Australian Retail Index (delivered by BDO and Retail Express) reports that retailers across the country saw mixed sales results during September with all sectors showing a level of inconsistency. By mid-September, retailers in the fashion and accessories sector were grinning after two very strong weeks of sales.

"These results mirror sales growth for the same period in 2013, suggesting that the change in season had a positive impact and that consumers were shedding winter fashion to prepare for the warmer months ahead. By the end of September however, sales were down again across most sectors – continuing the rollercoaster ride for this sector during the first month of spring.

"Overall, September’s results are certainly a positive sign for the retail sector and we remain hopeful that December (year on year) sales will achieve 6 percent growth.

“Pre-Christmas sales are almost upon us and it is now imperative that the Federal Government and RBA do all that they can to ensure that retail trade is fully supported. The festive season is an extremely important time for retailers to make up for what has been a tough year in business,” Mr Zimmerman said.

MONTHLY RETAIL GROWTH (August 2014 – September 2014 seasonally adjusted)

Household goods retailing (4.1%), Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (2.0%), Department stores (1.3%), Food retailing (0.4%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (0.4%), Other retailing (-0.2%) and Total sales (1.2%).

Australian Capital Territory (1.9%), New South Wales (1.7%), Victoria (1.3%), Western Australia (1.3%), South Australia (1.2%), Tasmania (0.8), and Queensland (0.4%) and Northern Territory (-0.6%). Total sales (1.2%).

YEAR-ON-YEAR RETAIL GROWTH (September 2013 – September 2014 seasonally adjusted)

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (11.7%), Household goods retailing (9.7%), Food retailing (5.8%), Other retailing (3.4%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.3%) and Department stores (-4.1%). Total sales (5.7%).

New South Wales (9.4%), Tasmania (7.2%), Victoria (6.7%), Western Australia (3.3%), South Australia (2.6%), Australian Capital Territory (2.5%), Queensland (1.8%) and Northern Territory (1.1%). Total sales (5.7%). 

*

Since 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has been the peak industry body representing Australia’s $265 billion retail sector, which employs over 1.2 million people. The ARA ensures retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia.

Visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

This World Stroke Day the National Stroke Foundation is urging workplaces and individuals to act FAST to identify the signs of stroke.

FAST is an easy to remember, simple way to recognise if someone may be having a stroke: Face – has the person’s mouth drooped? Arms – can they lift both arms above their head? Speech – is their speech slurred? Can they understand you? And Time – call triple zero (000) immediately, do not delay. 

Standard Solar is among the workplaces supporting the National Stroke Foundation’s FAST campaign through the First Hour initiative. The company is encouraging and supporting its workforce to donate one hour of pay to the National Stroke Foundation in support of FAST in addition to providing stroke education.

Standard Solar Managing Director Rob Grainger said the company is supporting First Hour and FAST initiatives as the team knows first-hand the impact of stroke and the value of time in its treatment.

“I am alive today because my mum recognised the signs of stroke and many of our team have also seen the impacts of stroke within their families,’’ Mr Grainger said.

Mr Grainger was just 41 when he was struck down by a massive stroke. It was a Sunday night and Mr Grainger was alone at home and speaking to his mother interstate on the phone. While talking, Mr Grainger’s mum noticed his speech started to slur and Mr Grainger began feeling weakness in his arms.

“I was talking to my mum [while experiencing symptoms] and over the phone she knew what was happening, she said ‘I think you are having a stroke, you had better get to the hospital.”

On hanging up the phone Mr Grainger’s mother immediately called an ambulance, sending it to Mr Grainger’s home and saving his life. Doctors said, without his mother’s quick action treatment would have been delayed and Mr Grainger may have died or been left with a serious disability.

Following the stroke Mr Grainger spent four months in hospital learning to walk and talk again; today a minor limp and his rapid speech are the only indications of his stroke.

“You think stroke is an older person’s problem and not something to worry about, you don’t think that at 41 you will have a stroke. But it can happen to anyone, you don’t know why or who,’’ he said.

National Stroke Foundation National Director Programs Rebecca Naylor said time was critical in treating stroke.

“Time is a vital weapon against stroke. Every minute counts. The sooner the person having a stroke gets help and critical treatment, the better the chance of survival and quality of life,’’ Ms Naylor said.

“One in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime and 30 percent of stroke survivors are of working age, yet most Australians still don’t really understand what a stroke is or what to do about it.”

The National Stroke Foundation is urging work places across the country to get behind First Hour and the FAST initiatives by supporting a donation by their workforce and providing education on the signs of stroke.

“We are asking for people to donate one hours, just one hours pay, this doesn’t seem like much but collectively it makes a huge difference,’’ Ms Naylor said.

“If we can educate more people on the signs of stroke and what to do when they see a stroke happening, we can help save lives and slash disability.”

Register online to join First Hour at www.strokefoundation.com.au

The National Stroke Foundation supports workplaces with resources to help promote and support the campaign including a how to guide, promotional video, posters, digital materials, an elevator speech to start conversations around the campaign and an employee deduction authority.

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THE Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) has congratulated the winners of the 2014 RACV Victorian Tourism Awards for the outstanding contribution they make to the state’s tourism sector.

“On behalf of the industry I congratulate the award winners who have been recognised for the outstanding contribution they make to tourism in our state,” said VTIC Chief Executive Dianne Smith.

"VTIC is delighted to see so many of our members achieving success and recognition through these awards, as the majority of winners and finalists (over 62%), are VTIC members.

"Solid business foundations are essential for a sustainable and professional tourism industry. The Victorian Tourism Awards are a wonderful way of showcasing business excellence, as well as the depth and breadth of products and experiences in our state."

Ms Smith’s comments come in the wake of more than 900 tourism and event industry leaders and professionals gathering at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre last night to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the awards which showcase the leading tourism products, experiences and services across the state.

Some of the winners by category included: 

- Sovereign Hill - Major Tourist Attractions
- Peninsula Hot Springs - Tourist Attractions
- Melbourne Cup Carnival - Major Festivals and Events
- Bendigo Tramways - Heritage and Cultural Tourism
- Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre - Business Tourism
- BIG4 Beacon Resort - Tourist and Caravan Parks
- Naturewise Eco Escapes - New Tourism Development
- Alla Wolf-Tasker - Outstanding Contribution by an Individual
- Fowles Wine Cellar Door Café - Tourism Wineries, Distilleries and Breweries
- Frankston Visitor Information Centre - Visitor Information and Services 

The evening was opened by Minister for Tourism and Major Events, the Hon. Louise Asher MP, and the audience was also treated to a performance by the cast of “Once”, the musical currently showing at the Princess Theatre.

Once again VTIC played a significant role in the tourism awards program, delivering preparatory workshops across the state, as well as coordinating the entrants’ mentoring program and judging panel.

The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) is the peak body for Victoria’s tourism and events industry, providing one united industry voice. Tourism and events are growth industries for Victoria and contribute $19.6 billion to the state economy each year and employ more than 200,000 people.

vtic.com.au

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BOTH major parties must commit to measures that make Victoria’s key tourist attractions more enticing to Asian visitors and attract additional cultural events to regional Victoria, said Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) Chief Executive Dianne Smith today.

In welcoming the Coalition Government’s commitment to expanding the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), Ms Smith called on policy makers to adopt complementary recommendations to ensure Victoria capitalises on the resulting visitor growth.

“VTIC applauds the Coalition Government’s decision to expand MCEC, and urges Victorian Labor to echo this commitment, for the significant benefit it will bring to Victoria’s business events’ and tourism sector,” said Ms Smith.

“Improving this facility will result in more visitors to our state, so there’s now more than ever a need to ensure we take the opportunity to grow jobs.”

VTIC calls for the major parties to commit to the following:

- Grow the events’ sector by establishing a dedicated sales team to secure new and expand existing regional medium-sized events.

Cost: $2 million annually
Estimated state-wide job creation: 600
 
- Make Victoria’s tourist attractions more appealing to the lucrative Asian visitor market through culturally appropriate upgrades to displays, ticketing and visitor information.
Cost: $7 million annually
Estimated state-wide job creation: 1600
 
Tourism could create nearly 9,000 additional jobs for Victoria over the next two years if the right policy settings are in place, according to VTIC research.

“As a growth sector in a rapidly changing economy, tourism has great job creation potential as it brings in visitors who spend money, which creates jobs and sustains communities,” said Ms Smith.

Ms Smith’s comments come ahead of the tourism industry’s celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Victorian Tourism Awards, which showcases the leading tourism products, experiences and services across the state.

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The Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) is the peak body for Victoria’s tourism and events industry, providing one united industry voice. Tourism and events are growth industries for Victoria and contribute $19.6 billion to the state economy each year and employ more than 200,000 people.

vtic.com.au

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