Tourism NZFor Immediate Release – November 11, 2009

SANTA MONICA, CA – For the second year running, New Zealand has taken the top spot at the prestigious Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards.

Whale Watch Kaikoura was named as overall winner at the awards, announced Tuesday at the 30th anniversary of the World Travel Market, held annually in London. They also won the marine environment category.

YHA Wellington City was also announced as winner of the best large hotel/accommodation category.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton is thrilled by their victories. “This is a fantastic achievement for Whale Watch Kaikoura, YHA Wellington City and for New Zealand,” says Hickton. “For New Zealand operators to have featured in the Responsible Travel Awards again this year shows our industry’s strong commitment to the environment and local communities.”

The panel of judges declared Whale Watch Kaikoura the overall winner for developing a tourism initiative from the ground up. The awards are nominated by tourists and recognize individuals, companies and organizations in the travel industry that are making a significant commitment to the culture and economies of local communities and are providing a positive contribution to biodiversity conservation.

The judging process includes analysis from a panel of 13 judges including interviews and consultation from an international network of contacts and organizations with responsible tourism expertise and knowledge in specific destinations.

Justin Francis, founder of The Responsible Tourism Awards and managing director of award organizers, says despite the recession the nominations were impressive. “In this, the sixth year of the Awards, organizations continue to come up with innovative ideas around responsible tourism that ensure local communities and environments benefit from tourism as much as possible. The money may have dried out a little in the past year but the passion, ingenuity and creativity certainly hasn’t,” he said.

Founded by the Awards are run in association with headline sponsor, Virgin Holidays and partners World Travel Market, The Daily Telegraph and Geographical Magazine.


For information about New Zealand’s extensive vacation options, log onto the 100% Pure New Zealand website at:

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Contact: Ruth Atherley
AHA Creative Strategies
Ph: (604) 303-1052

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RC imageFor Immediate Release – November 11, 2009

Richmond, B.C. & North Pole – The real Santa, accompanied by Mrs. Claus and 38 of his top elves, will spend six weeks at Richmond Centre starting November 13, announced North Pole spokesperson and Senior Elf, VP Communications Reginald Rufus.

According to Rufus, Santa will arrive at the mall on Friday, November 13 at 7 p.m. in a GM zero-emission, Fuel Cell Chevrolet Equinox and will then lead Mrs. Claus, his merry band of elves and anyone who wants to believe in the magic of Christmas on a parade through Richmond Centre. He will commute back and forth to the North Pole, as necessary, as he prepares for one of the most exciting nights of the year for the jolly old man (Christmas, in case you forgot!).

“Santa chose Richmond Centre as his home base to visit with children this year because of the multicultural demographics in the city and how the people of Richmond would help him spread the spirit of Christmas around the world,” said Rufus via satellite from the North Pole. He added: “Santa is looking forward to seeing the children of Richmond this year and he knows that there are many people in Richmond that might be grown up, but are still children at heart.”

“We are thrilled that Santa chose Richmond again this year,” said Leslie Matheson, Director of Marketing, Richmond Centre. “Christmas is a magical time of year and having Father Christmas at Richmond Centre has everyone here very excited. The world is a very big place and that Santa has chosen to spend the six weeks just before Christmas here, is quite an honour for us.”

Throughout Santa’s visit, there will be many activities at Richmond Centre. They include:

  • Visits and Photos with Santa
  • Daily Elf Inspections
  • School of Christmas – classroom and theatre sessions
  • Santa Live! (Streaming live video of the child’s visit with Santa.)

Santa, Mrs. Claus and all 38 elves have their own trading card that they will hand out to courteous little boys and girls (and grown-ups), when asked politely. Santa’s card is a magical trading card that creates a 3D image of old Saint Nick, when it is held up to a web cam. Santa 3.0, is what he’s calling it.

Said Matheson: “Santa at Richmond Centre is an interactive experience. There is something to do for everyone – young and old alike. The spirit of the season, goodwill towards others, and kindness and joy will come to life here at Richmond Centre when Santa arrives. We’re hoping that not only will everyone who comes to see Santa embrace that, but that they will carry a little piece of it with them all year ‘round.”

Richmond Centre is one of the Lower Mainland’s largest shopping complexes with 240 stores and services. Located in the centre of Richmond, on the corner of Westminster Hwy and Minoru Boulevard, Richmond Centre is owned and managed by two of the largest developers in Canada, Cadillac Fairview Corporation Ltd. and Ivanhoe Cambridge II Inc.


For further information, interviews with Santa or media access, please contact: Paul Holman of AHA Creative Strategies at or by phone at 604-303-1052.

Please note: The PR team does not have any influence over Santa. If you haven’t been good, there is not much we can do about it – except advise you to start now!

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Tourism New ZealandFor Immediate Release – November 4, 2009

New Zealand’s made the cut to be named in Lonely Planet’s prestigious Best in Travel publication for 2010.

New Zealand was picked by Lonely Planet authors, staff and travellers as one of the Top 10 Countries to visit in 2010.

Also featured on the list are El Salvador, Germany, Greece, Malaysia, Morocco, Nepal, Portugal, Suriname and the USA.

Lonely Planet pokes fun at itself for recommending New Zealand as “too obvious, right?”

“But there’s wisdom in the old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, and last time we checked the land of Maori and hobbits it certainly didn’t need repairing,” the guide says.

It lists New Zealand essential experiences as being “as strong as ever,” from spectacular landscapes and wildlife to Maori culture and food and drink. It also singles out New Zealand for praise in spearheading eco-travel and for its ethos towards responsible travel.

“Being singled out as one of the Top 10 Countries for 2010 by Lonely Planet is an astonishing result for New Zealand, given the competition out there from established and emerging tourism destinations,” Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton said.

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2010 also features its top 10 regions and cities for the year ahead, as well as other travel lists including:

  • Top 10 super cycling routes – the Otago Peninsular route is named as one of the best rides for its mixture of “scenery and sweat.”
  • Top 10 places to walk your dog – Dunedin makes the cut for its “network of dog-friendly trails” around the city.
  • Top 10 for twitchers – the Otago Peninsular is singled out as one of New Zealand’s hot attractions because of the region’s birdlife.

Earlier this year, readers of the prestigious travel magazine Condé Nast named New Zealand as one of their favourite destinations.

“New Zealand’s ability to continue to compete with hot new destinations is a testament to the country’s desire to deliver a great tourism experience, its innovation in creating new tourism products and its drive to improve its environmental performance,” Mr. Hickton said.


For more information about New Zealand, visit

For updates, media information and to see our newly updated Events and Regions section, visit

For high-resolution images, visit

For year-round travel deals to New Zealand, visit

Contact: Adriena Daunt                                    or                          Contact: Ruth Atherley
Tourism New Zealand                                                                    AHA Creative Strategies
Ph: (310) 857-2207                                                                      Ph: (604) 303-1052
E: adrienad@tnz/                                                               E:

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hp_fresh_foods_lg1-300x263For Immediate Release – November 3, 2009

Vancouver, B.C. – Things are getting saucy at Happy Planet Foods, Inc. Vancouver’s favourite premium food and beverage company is thrilled to bring a new adventure to your taste buds. Happy Planet Natural Sauces will spice up any meal in minutes with an array of international flavours from Thai Yellow Curry to Spanish Red Pepper. These new Natural Sauces are delicious and a healthier alternative, which is just what you expect from Happy Planet.

With six authentic, gourmet taste sensations to choose from, you’ll have dinner on the table in less time than you can imagine. Happy Planet Natural Sauces are available in:

  • Thai Yellow Curry, with coconut curry & kaffir lime leaves
  • Spanish Red Pepper, with Spanish paprika & cayenne pepper
  • Indian Butter Chicken, with red chili & coriander
  • Bengali Coconut Curry, with fresh cilantro
  • French Mushroom Wine, with fresh cream & rosemary
  • Japanese Ginger Miso, with a hint of maple syrup

All Happy Planet Natural Sauces are vegetarian and gluten-free and go great with vegetables and tofu. But fear not carnivores; you can also add chicken, beef or fish and let the sauces do the rest. Tasting is believing. The Natural Sauces are kettle-cooked and handmade in small batches with fresh, premium, natural and certified organic ingredients. Happy Planet continues to deliver on their commitment to nutritious, great tasting foods – meaning there are no preservatives, artificial ingredients, colourings or anything that you can’t pronounce.

With nothing to hide, Happy Planet Natural Sauces are packaged in clear pouches so you can see exactly what will be on your plate. Just add some protein and/or veggies, heat and enjoy. Happy Planet Natural Sauces are now available across Canada in the refrigerated or deli section of many community grocery stores (Whole Foods Market, Big Carrot Natural Food Market, Planet Organic Market, Capers Community Market, Choices Market, etc.) and coming soon to major grocery retailers. Visit for quick and tasty recipes.

Happy Planet Foods, Inc. is Canada’s leading natural and organic food company. Started in 1994 in Vancouver, B.C., the company sells premium organic juices, smoothies, organic and all natural soups and sauces, as well as healthy functional shots across Canada. All Happy Planet products come from 100% natural ingredients from the best sources on the planet and are made without preservatives, artificial ingredients or colourings.


For more information please contact Paul Holman of AHA Creative Strategies at or 604-303-1052.

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BH_logoFor Immediate Release – October 27, 2009

Vancouver, B.C. – For many people, starting the new year off right demands more than just champagne and noisemakers. For those looking to ring in 2010 by doing something spectacular, BikeHike Adventures is offering a special adventure trip of a lifetime. Adventure travellers searching for a special trip to start off 2010 can start off the new year atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak on New Year’s Day.

This 7-day Kilimanjaro climb along the Lemosho Route includes an African Safari into the Serengeti plains, Ngorongoro Crater and a bike ride through tribal Masaai villages. There’s also an option to hot air balloon over the Serengeti on the trip. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, the small group will gear up with headlights and warm clothing and trek from Barafu, the last high campsite, to Uhuru Peak, Kilimanjaro’s summit at 19,340 feet/5,896 metres. The goal is to reach the peak by sunrise on January 1, 2010 and usher in the new decade.

This special departure is from December 25 – January 8. The land cost is $4,199 USD starting from Arusha, Tanzania. The trip includes all internal transportation, accommodation (shared twin), most meals, and all equipment (camping gear, bicycles, veteran guides, porters and cooks).

Rated as one of the top adventure travel companies in the world by National Geographic Adventure, BikeHike Adventures Inc. was founded in 1994 by Trish Sare. The organization’s spirit of adventure mission is to bring together like-minded active individuals with a passion for cultural exploration and physically rewarding travel. BikeHike specializes in small or gender group multi-sport adventures in South and Central America, Canada, Europe, Oceania, Asia, and Africa. To review travel itineraries please visit or call 1-888-805-0061.


For more information, interviews or images, please contact Paul Holman of AHA Creative Strategies at or 604-303-1052.

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