Dubai more than a transit hub

Power of connections

While talk around the Emirates-Qantas alliance is focused on the ensuring greater choice of onward connections from Dubai to Europe, tourism officials are hoping travellers will see the port city on the Persian Gulf as more than just a transit hub. A director at Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Julie King, says the city will be more accessible, with the airlines offering 98 services a week between Australia and Dubai.

Dubai attracted 89,574 Australian visitors in the first six months of this year. By year's end, the 380-room Fairmont Palm Hotel and Resort and the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel (at 355 metres, the tallest dedicated hotel building in the world) are set to open in Dubai. For thrillseekers, Jumeirah Sceirah waterslides are open at Wild Wadi Waterpark. From a height of 32 metres, the brave stand on a trap door and are released into a 120-metre tunnel - reaching speeds of up to 80km/h. Thursdays are "ladies' nights", with an all-women team operating the park. Emirates has also begun A380 services from Melbourne.


Virtual guarantee has named its top multi-generational holiday destinations. Florence is considered easily walkable for those with little legs, and Washington DC rates for its free cultural experiences including the Smithsonian museums and national monuments. London made the list for Tube travel to the Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery and the London Eye. The Gold Coast is listed for its theme parks (SeaWorld, Wet 'n' Wild, and Warner Brothers Movie World) and the SkyPoint Observation Deck in Surfers Paradise rates for the 360-degree view of the area. Also on the list is Banff National Park for scavenger hikes.


India weaves its magic

From the silk brocades of Kanchipuram to the embroidery and tie-dye work of Kutch, India's textile traditions date back 6000 years. The principal curator at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum, Christina Sumner, who has worked with the museum's decorative arts and design collections for 25 years, will guide a 15-day tour run by Threads of India Textile Tours and Artisans of Fashion. Starting in the south-east to visit Chennai and Kanchipuram, the tour continues to Gujarat before stopping at Ahmedabad and visiting the Calico Museum. The trip departs Sydney on February 25 and costs from $9460 a person, twin share.


Fast lane to glory

Victoria's 270-kilometre Great Ocean Road, a much-loved coastal drive constructed by returning World War I soldiers, celebrates its 80th anniversary next month. The road links Angelsea, Aireys Inlet, Lorne, Kennett River, Wye River, Apollo Bay, Port Campbell, Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland. A five-day celebration will include a motorcade of vintage vehicles including the 1908-built Isotta Fraschini 10HP FENC, one of just four of its kind in the world. Celebrations are from November 24-28.


Jetstar's stylish turn

It's a subtle change, but Jetstar cabin crew and ground staff across Asia have a new uniform with a shared style. The threads for Australia-New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore and Japan include a jacket with tailored, buttoned front and Asian-style collar. Staff will still be unmissable - the signature orange and black colours remain.

Vietnam adventure

Following on from Tunnel Rats, a book about Australian Army engineers of 3 Field Troop who entered Vietcong tunnels and bunkers during the Vietnam War, comes A Sappers' War and another tour to the region by Sandy MacGregor and Jimmy Thomson. Thomson and MacGregor, an officer with the troop, will travel to Ho Chi Minh, Cu Chi, Nui Dat and Vung Tau. "We're not the most organised tour guides in the world - and that's our strength," Thomson says. "We have an itinerary, of course, and an excellent, and very patient, local guide, but if we find something interesting, we're not going to ignore it ..."

The tour costs from $1900 (flights excluded) a person, twin share, and departs on October 26.


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The story Dubai more than a transit hub first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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