NCL extends Cuba sailings through 2018

first_img Wednesday, April 5, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Cuba, Norwegian Cruise Line NCL extends Cuba sailings through 2018 Sharecenter_img Travelweek Group Posted by MIAMI — Norwegian Sky will sail 33 roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba in 2018, with 32 voyages featuring an overnight call in the capital city of Havana as well as a call on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas.These new cruises will begin on March 26, 2018 and are in addition to the previously announced 30 calls that Norwegian will offer through December 2017.“Cuba is a spectacular destination and we are seeing incredible demand from our guests to experience the beautiful and cultural-rich city of Havana and her warm and friendly people,” said NCL President and CEO Andy Stuart. “We are excited to provide even more opportunities for our guests to experience this incredible destination into 2018.”Norwegian will offer a selection of 15 half and full-day shore excursions. Norwegian Sky’s four-day cruises to Cuba open for sale on April 20.last_img read more

Sunwing appoints new Groups Manager

first_img Monday, October 30, 2017 Sunwing appoints new Groups Manager << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Sharecenter_img Posted by TORONTO — Sunwing has expanded its Group Sales Team by adding Samantha Gillingham as its new Groups Manager.Reporting to Group Sales Director Lexic Lipitkas, Gillingham brings over 10 years of travel experience to her new role, with previous positions at Transat Holidays, Flight Centre Travel Group, and Jet Airways. Over the years her roles have ranged from consultant and account manager to team leader and corporate sales manager.At Sunwing, Gillingham will oversee the Toronto Group Sales team and the Nexus/Sunwing Group Excursions team.“I am eager to be working with our Group Sales Director to develop seasonal plans for group customers, and to work with the rest of the team to continuously develop their talent, and our sales and procedures that make us #1 to the sun,” she said.Gillingham can be reached at sgillingham@sunwing.ca and 1-877-877-1755 ext. 6927. Sunwing Group Sales manager for Quebec, Marisa Poggioni, can also be reached at mpoggioni@sunwing.ca and 1-877-877-1755 ext. 6956. Tags: Peoplelast_img read more

Costa Rican President Chinchilla denies link to Liberty Reserve attorney

first_imgIn the wake of last Friday’sarrest of online currency company Liberty Reserve’s founder, Arthur Budovsky, and several accomplices who were charged by U.S. federal officials on Tuesday of operating a $6 billion money laundering operation, Costa Rica’s Chief Public Prosecutor Jorge Chavarría announced on Thursday that authorities here would begin to investigate possible political links to Liberty Reserve.Meanwhile, The Tico Times this week uncovered information that appeared to link one of Liberty Reserve’s former key Costa Rican employees with President Laura Chinchilla. However, on Friday, Chinchilla denied those links and said she never met or worked with the woman.On her LinkedIn page, attorney Angie Portela, 36, describes herself as an “advisor” to Liberty Reserve from December 2009 to December 2011. A source with knowledge of Liberty Reserve’s operations in Costa Rica, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed that Portela worked at Liberty Reserve, performing legal and political tasks.Portela’s LinkedIn page also says she worked as an “advisor” to Chinchilla in 2005, when the current Costa Rican president was a lawmaker.Portela claims to have worked in the “Office of Legislator Laura Chinchilla” from February to July 2005, where her tasks were to “review, edit and propose alternatives for a bill of law for electronic signatures.”“I don’t remember meeting anyone named Angie Portela, nor does that name sound familiar,” Chinchilla told The Tico Times in an email. “I remember perfectly the names of legislative advisers assigned to my office during the period when I served as a legislator, and among that group there was no one with that name. …“Considering that a situation like this could be attributed to the irresponsible use of my name, and above all, a falsity contained in the work history of a presumed attorney, we are sending this matter to the legal office of the Costa Rican Attorneys Association,” the president stated.The Tico Times attempted to check employment records at the Legislative Assembly, but the Assembly’s Financial Department Director Mario Delgado did not return an email with questions and several phone calls to his office on Thursday and Friday. Delgado’s assistant told a Tico Times reporter that he had asked another person in the office to deal with the newspaper’s request, and that person “took the day off.”No one in the office answered the phones the rest of Friday afternoon.Portela, reached by phone, said she would not comment due to “the ongoing investigation.”After receiving Chinchilla’s response at 4 p.m. on Friday, The Tico Times learned through a public records search at the Supreme Electoral Tribunal that Angie Portela’s full name is María de los Ángeles Portela Rojas. She is a member of the Costa Rican Attorneys Association under that name.The Tico Times was unable to reach Chinchilla or her press secretary after learning the new information. Angie Portela’s LinkedIn page says she worked for now-President Laura Chinchilla in 2005. Chinchilla denies the claim. Last Friday, agents raiding Budovsky-linked homes and business seized over $1 million in luxury automobiles alone, including two Jaguars, three Rolls Royces and a Mercedes Benz. According to sources, some – if not all – of the automobiles were paid for in cash.On its blog on Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica referred to the case, asking, “Why did the accused come to Costa Rica, in the first place, to set up an illegal business? Why did they renounce their U.S. citizenship, and in the case of the mastermind, Arthur Budovsky, who seems to have married a Costa Rican empanada vendor, without ever having seen him, in exchange for ₡200,000 [$400]?“The answer is simple,” the embassy blog said. “They suspected that Costa Rica did not have the laws to detect and block their operations. … They committed a grave error.”More pictures: Related posts:Millions of dollars in limbo after shuttering of digital currency site Liberty Reserve U.S.: Liberty Reserve the largest money laundering probe in history Liberty Reserve: A cyberweb of intrigue A Russian patsy or high-tech criminal? Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky bought a bunch of cows during a 2008 cow parade in Costa Rica. Courtesy OIJ Chinchilla, who served as a lawmaker for the ruling National Liberation Party from May 2002 to April 2006, is a public security expert who has focused on fighting organized crime throughout her career. From 1996-1998, she served as Costa Rica’s public security minister, and as vice minister from 1994-1996. She became first vice president in 2006, and in 2010, the first woman elected to the presidency in Costa Rica.The president’s personal webpage notes that, “as a lawmaker, [Chinchilla] presided over various commissions from which she promoted several laws of great impact in the areas of participatory government, public sector efficiency, security, crimes against minors, domestic violence and fighting corruption.”During the 2009-2010 presidential race, Chinchilla campaigned on a slogan of “honest and firm,” vowing to improve public security and fight organized crime, which has expanded throughout Central America, mostly driven by illicit drug trafficking.Despite her broad career in public service focused on public security, her administration has been plagued by several scandals involving those close to her. On May 16, Chinchilla announced in a televised address the resignation of two key administration officials – Presidency Vice Minister Mauricio Boraschi, also the head of Costa Rica’s Office of Intelligence and Security (DIS) and the country’s anti-drug commissioner, and presidential adviser Irene Pacheco. Former Communications Minister Francisco Chacón had resigned the previous day over what has become known as “the plane of shame” scandal, in which the president twice traveled on a private jet owned or loaned by Gabriel Morales Fallón, a Colombian who allegedly had introduced himself to Chacón under a false name and was suspected by the Colombian government of having links to international drug traffickers. Morales denies the links.In 2012, an investigation revealed massive corruption in the construction of a road along the northern border with Nicaragua, secured with emergency government funds and carried out with little oversight, including a $5.6 million contract granted to a company that had no machinery and had never previously received a government contract.In the past three years, 15 government ministers have resigned from or been asked to leave Chinchilla’s administration. Meanwhile, the threat to Costa Rica by organized crime and drug traffickers continues to mount.Liberty Reserve, which U.S. authorities say was processing more than 12 million financial transactions annually, at a value of $1.4 billion per year by 2013 and had accounts in at least five Costa Rican banks, operated in Costa Rica for seven years before it was dismantled by the biggest joint money laundering operation ever conducted by U.S. officials. At least 17 countries participated in the investigation.And on Friday, the body of a 26-year-old turtle conservationist was discovered on a Caribbean beach in Costa Rica, the victim of suspected drug traffickers. Jairo Mora Sandoval was kidnapped and murdered, along with a group of foreign conservationists who survived the attack, in what colleagues believe was retaliation for statements he made to a local daily newspaper saying conservationists were being harassed by drug traffickers and turtle poachers in the area.A Liberty Reserve ‘advisor’On her LinkedIn profile, Portela says her duties at Liberty Reserve were to “write, review and edit reports, opinions, policies and other documents,” as well as to, “write and administer client and employee contracts, conduct and coordinate research into a variety of legal issues,” “provide analysis and counsel on legal issues,” and “litigation and arbitration management.”Portela also said on her profile that she studied at the University of San José in 1993 as an “International Technician in Risk Management Systems of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.” In a conversation with The Tico Times, a source who worked at Liberty Reserve referred to Portela as a company attorney. Portela corresponded with Liberty Reserve clients by using the email address legal@libertyreserve.cr. In response to an angry client who said he was having trouble obtaining his funds from Liberty Reserve, Portela advised, “As to a third party involved in this communications [sic] I respectfully ask you to not take advice from people not related to L.R.”In the correspondence, Portela also gives other legal advice.She also is listed as “agente residente,” or registered agent, for at least four Liberty companies: Worldwide E-Commerce Business S.A. (WEBSA), Silverhand Solutions & Technology S.A., Liberty Reserve Solutions CR S.A., and World Treasure Consulting & Management S.A. As a registered agent, she received all legal correspondence involving the companies, most alleged by the U.S. government to be Liberty shell companies used to obstruct the investigation (U.S. officials ordered WEBSA funds in a Banco Nacional account seized on Tuesday).WEBSA and Silverhand offices were raided on May 21. The previous day, a judge ordered banking secrecy laws suspended on accounts for all four businesses.A black eye, or a major victory?Faced with last Friday’s raids of Liberty Reserve businesses and properties, Tuesday’s indictment in New York of several key participants, and growing outrage that such a large criminal operation was taking place here, Costa Rican officials are portraying recent events as a sign of success in the country’s bilateral battle with the U.S. to fight organized crime.At a Friday press conference at Casa Presidencial, Bernardita Marín, associate director of the Costa Rican Drug Institute, said the operation to dismantle Liberty Reserve was initiated by Costa Rican authorities, not the U.S. Celso Gamboa, who replaced Boraschi as head of DIS and presidency vice minister, and Gilberto Serrano, president of the National Banking Association, also attended the press conference.“In the case of Liberty Reserve, two national financial institutions detected unusual transactions through the monitoring procedures in place,” Marín said in a press release. At the conference, she added, “Thanks to the efforts of both the U.S. and Costa Rican governments, the biggest money laundering case ever was uncovered,” adding, “It wasn’t by accident.”Marín said Costa Rican authorities were aware of the Liberty Reserve operation since 2009. According to the U.S. federal indictment, Costa Rica’s Financial Institution Superintendency notified Liberty that it needed to apply for a license to operate as a money transmitting business.Marín also stressed that not all of the $6 billion that moved through the company in the past seven years – which represents roughly 25 percent of Costa Rica’s entire economy – was managed through the Costa Rican financial system.She said Costa Rican officials seized Liberty funds on three separate occasions – in 2011, 2012 and 2013 – although the U.S. indictment mentions only one seizure of $19.5 million, after Budovsky, Allan Hidalgo and Azzeddine El Amine allegedly began emptying Liberty Reserve bank accounts in Costa Rica of “millions of dollars.” They transferred those funds to a bank account in Cyprus held in the name of a shell company controlled by Budovsky and El Amine, and then to another account in Russia, the indictment alleges.On Wednesday, according to the Costa Rican Prosecutor’s Office, a court ordered the seizure of the “financial products and services” of Budovsky, Maxim Chukharev – who is under arrest in Costa Rica awaiting extradition to the U.S. – Worldwide E-Commerce Business S.A. (WEBSA), and Grupo Lulu Ltda., as well as accounts in Banco Nacional, Banco de Costa Rica, BAC San José, Bancrédito and Davivienda.The Prosecutor’s Office also stated that they, along with the Judicial Investigation Police, began a criminal investigation on March 7, 2011, following a report of suspicious activity filed by Banco Nacional and Bancrédito.Costa Rican law enforcement officials first met with their U.S. counterparts on Dec. 5, 2011, the Costa Rican Prosecutor’s Office said. A request for banking secrecy laws to be lifted against Liberty Reserve was filed on Dec. 13, 2011.Portela said she left Liberty Reserve in December 2011, after working for the company for more than two years.Liberty accounts that have been seized in Costa Rica since January 2012 include $17 million in Grupo Mutual Alajuela, $1.8 million in Bancrédito and $1 million in Banco Lafise, the Prosecutor’s Office stated.The Prosecutor’s Office also released a detailed report of the actions U.S. and Costa Rican officials took to investigate and prosecute the case, beginning in March 2011.Fate of other players?Another question is what will happen to other players in the Liberty Reserve operation, particularly a group of Costa Ricans who remain at large. The Prosecutor’s Office will not comment on Allan Hidalgo, aka “Allan García,” Ahmed Yassine, aka “Alex,” or Kelsin Antonio Varela Figueroa, who is listed in public documents as the president of Liberty Reserve Solutions CR S.A.It is unclear if an arrest warrant has been issued for any of the men. Yassine and Hidalgo are named in the U.S. indictment, although sources told The Tico Times that they could not be extradited to the U.S. because they are Costa Rican nationals. The Costa Rican Constitution prevents nationals from being extradited, except in very specific drug- or terrorism-related cases.According to public records, Hidalgo, 28, who is listed as president of Liberty Reserve S.A., has not left the country since arriving from Colombia in September 2012.Yassine, 42, a Moroccan who became a naturalized Costa Rican following a November 2006 marriage (he and his Costa Rican wife were divorced in March 2010, according to public records), has not left Costa Rica since returning from Spain in October 2012.Confidentiality contracts that Liberty employees were forced to sign state that Yassine is Liberty’s “legal representative.” A search of the Attorneys Association registry does not show that he is an affiliate.The confidentiality contract requires employees to “maintain in strict confidentiality all information” about the company, including “administrative affairs, operations and financial details” for 15 years after employees leave the company. The contract also requires employees to inform company operators if they receive a judge’s warrant to reveal confidential information about the company.A search of public documents shows that Hidalgo, who is married and has no children, claimed an income of ₡920,833.33 in the past 12 months, the equivalent of about $1,841.67. He is also listed as treasurer of Inversiones Hidalgo Jiménez S.A., president of Silverhand Solutions & Technology S.A. (which prosecutors allege was one of the many Liberty shell companies), president of World Treasure Consulting & Management S.A.(another suspected shell company) and secretary of Liberty Reserve Solutions CR S.A. The remnants of a $6 billion illegal empire. Courtesy OIJ Facebook Commentslast_img read more

US donates crimefighting tools to Costa Rica

first_imgNo related posts. The U.S. government announced Monday the donation of equipment and computer software to Costa Rica’s Prosecutor’s Office to help modernize the country’s criminal justice system and take on the big fish of crime, including drug traffickers.Costa Rica is battling sophisticated international crime syndicates that use the country as a transit point for South American drugs headed to the U.S., and as a money-laundering destination.The donation is part of $20 million the U.S. government is providing to Central American countries through the Central America Regional Security Initiative, or CARSI.Also, the U.S.-based Florida International University is aiding the Costa Rican Prosecutor’s Office in designing, testing and implementing a new system to manage information to help improve the prosecution of international crime and drug trafficking.The university will provide training and technical assistance to local prosecutors through the program, in areas such as cyber-crime, international crime syndicates and victims’ assistance programs.“Investment in the latest technology equipment is fundamental to prosecute members of criminal groups, as those types of groups also have access to the most modern technology,” U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Eric Nelson said. “This new system will help prosecutors investigate cases and disband crime groups more efficiently.”The U.S. donation includes 17 laptop and 19 desktop computers, 107 software licenses and two projectors, worth nearly $30,000.“This donation is a display of the friendship and alliance between the governments of the United States and Costa Rica to develop strategies to neutralize new forms of crime,” Supreme Court Vice President José Manuel Arroyo said. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica faces strong competition as destination for US retirees

first_imgCosta Rica and Mexico have traditionally been the region’s preferred destinations for U.S. and Canadian retirees, but according to a report from the The Wall Street Journal, Panama, Belize and Nicaragua are increasingly competing with both countries.The report says that the number of U.S. citizens who receive pension payments in Panama increased by 65 percent from 2006-2011. In Nicaragua, the number doubled during the same period, from 595 retirees to 1,322.“These three countries offer packages of residency and breaks on taxes and fees that imitate Costa Rica’s pensionado program, which was introduced in 1971 and helped set the groundwork for a boom in retiree emigration from North America. Nicaragua added such a law in 2009, offering foreigners with retirement incomes tax breaks on everything from cars to construction materials,” the WSJ noted.The story also describes how last year Panama created a path to citizenship for retirement residents and introduced a new residency program for people under retirement age that has lowered requirements for investment in property, business and other ventures.Officials from Costa Rica’s National Tourism Chamber acknowledged the efforts of these three nations to attract retirees, but insisted that Costa Rica isn’t necessarily losing ground.The WSJ report also noted that crime and security problems are still a major concern for people interested in relocating to the region.“Security isn’t always adequate in the region. Mexico’s well-publicized drug war and escalating violence are starting to push Americans to look at new places for retirement, […] and Costa Rica’s petty crime such as theft and smash and grab muggings have increased in the past couple of years, along with home invasions,” added the story, also citing similar problems in all the other countries. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Arenal Report

first_imgNo related posts. Denyce Parnelltreated members of the Arenal Garden Club to a feast of floral abundance rarely seen outside the likes of Lankester Gardens or CATIE. A devoted horticulturalist, Denyce has for the past ten years enjoyed creating eight hectares of paths, terraces and ponds, utilizing the natural flow of a stream that courses through the property en route to Lake Arenal. She has planted hundreds of unique trees and flowers, many not often seen in theviveros of Costa Rica, and she knows all of their scientific names, citing genus and specie for anyone interested.Surprises await the casual stroller admiring the gorgeous flowers. A turn in the  path suddenly reveals a beautifully sculpted dragon or the head of a giant Buddha. Another turn and you walk through the gaping mouth of the ancient spirit of the forest, a la “The Hobbit.” Through a huge set of wooden double guests discover mysterious concrete creations by an artist friend. An added (and necessary) feature is a pottery in which all manner of large decorative concrete planters, flagstones and sculptures are made on premises. The plant nursery rivals that of most commercial viveros.Denyce, who is a pathologist devoted to research, says her garden is, a work in progress. Her next area for development? A bonsai garden.After a two and a half hour walking tour, one-third of the garden was still unexplored. But the garden club members retreated to the breezy second floor veranda of Denyce’s home for a refreshing luncheon. The next Garden Club meeting takes place Jan. 6 at 2 p.m. at Garden Club President Victoria Torley’s home. There will be a plant exchange, so select a nice healthy plant from your “extras” to make it interesting for all.The 4th annual Christmas Bazaar will be presented by the Ladies of the Lake on Sunday, Dec. 8 at the Salon Communal in Tilarán. The silent auction features a number of high-end prizes. Someone will win a half-day deep sea fishing trip valued at $800. Other winners will benefit from generous donors who have offered two multi-night beach stays, one at the Coco Palms Hotel in Coco Beach, and another in a private condominium. Other types of auctions will be held throughout the day. Vendors will have a huge array of crafts, homemade delicacies, art work and more, so save the date, have fun, do some early Christmas shopping and help fund the community work sponsored by the Ladies of the Lake.-William & Jean Priestjean_pri@comcast.net Facebook Commentslast_img read more

NASA offers internships for Tico high school students

first_imgTwo Costa Rican high school seniors will have the opportunity to spend two weeks learning alongside astronauts and other scientists at the Johnson Space Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Houston, Texas.The internship is part of a NASA program called Space School that promotes vocations within the aerospace industry, and Costa Rica is the only Central American country eligible. The application period begins this week and ends March 7.The project is organized by the Asociación Estrategia Siglo 21 and chaired by former Tico astronaut and scientist Franklin Chang, said the association’s spokeswoman Diana Alvarado.To qualify for a full scholarship, students must be high school seniors between the ages of 15 and 17. A full command of English and average grades of 90 or more in physics, math and chemistry is mandatory. Applicants also are required to demonstrate leadership and communication skills, along with the ability to work as part of a team.Those interested in applying for the internship must submit a 500-word essay in English expressing their interest, stating their purpose in applying and explaining how Costa Rica will benefit from their participation. The application must be attached to two letters of recommendation highlighting academic performance and personal skills.The scholarship includes airfare, departure taxes, hosting, tuition and all participation expenses.Classes will be held at the University of Houston–Clear Lake campus, located next to the Johnson Space Center.Only printed applications will be accepted at the Franklin Chang building, located 1.5 kilometers north of the U.S. Embassy in Pavas, west of San José. Facebook Comments Related posts:Two young Ticos prepare to go to NASA space camp Chevening Scholarship awarded to Tica physician Ad Astra’s deep space rocket moves into new testing phase with help from NASA NASA astronauts celebrate mission anniversary in Costa Ricalast_img read more

Businesses wary of hiring amid continued political uncertainty says survey

first_imgThe high cost of electricity and fluctuating exchange rate ranked among the greatest concerns for Costa Rican businesses during the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the Union of Private-Sector Chambers and Associations’ (UCCAEP) latest Business Pulse survey released Wednesday.A majority of the 502 businesses surveyed said they do not plan to hire new employees in the first quarter of 2014.UCCAEP’s president, Jaime Molina, used the survey’s findings as an opportunity to call for a “clear” policy from presidential candidates on expanding private-sector generation of electricity as a remedy for the country’s high cost of power.“These results are more proof of the urgency to reduce electricity rates in Costa Rica. As a nation we are less attractive to international businesses that would prefer to go elsewhere because of the high cost of production in our country. If the country wants to grow, like the candidates say they want it to grow, Costa Rica is going to need more electricity,” Molina added.Forty-five percent of businesses surveyed said the cost of electricity had a “high” or “very high” affect on their prices. Molina estimated that the cost of electricity in Costa Rica could be more than 20 percent higher than in other Central American countries.Molina said that ruling party candidate Johnny Araya had a “clearer” plan for reducing the cost of electricity than opposition candidate Luis Guillermo Solís. The business chamber leader lauded Araya’s support for increasing the amount of privately generated electricity in Costa Rica.Molina said Solís and his team had yet to convince UCCAEP that they had firm plans for how they would lower the cost of electricity in Costa Rica.Molina noted that political uncertainty leading up to the Feb. 2 presidential election also weakened private business owners’ levels of confidence in the economy. Business confidence looking forward to the coming first quarter of 2014 dropped 4 percent from the same quarter in 2012.The survey’s organizers suggested that the continued political uncertainty has kept businesses from hiring. Of those surveyed, 64 percent said they did not plan to hire new staff and 13 percent said they planned layoffs in the first quarter of 2014.The Central Bank has sold over $60 million since Monday in an attempt to stem the recent devaluation of the Costa Rican currency.Molina did not comment on the current exchange rate, ₡546.22 to the dollar, according to the Central Bank’s MONEX index Wednesday, but added that sudden drastic changes in the exchange rate were not good for the economy. “When we see changes like this, uncertainty grows, and that doesn’t help us,” he said.UCCAEP surveyed 502 business owners and managers between Jan. 14 and 28. The survey has a 95 percent level of confidence and a 5.6 percent margin of error. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica unveils $35 million program to improve small business competitiveness Business leaders, industrialists worried about Costa Rica’s ‘political problem’ Energy prices and politics weigh down business confidence, Costa Rica private-sector survey notes Some members of Costa Rica’s business sector alarmed over ‘historic’ jump in unemploymentlast_img read more

Costa Ricas Postal Service unveils stamps to honor La Sele in World

first_imgCorreos de Costa Rica, the company that manages the country’s postal service, on Thursday launched a special limited edition of 30,000 stamps to commemorate Costa Rica’s participation in the upcoming World Cup Brazil 2014.The stamp series called FIFA World Cup 2014 portrays the tournament mascot, the World Cup trophy and Costa Rica’s National Team, known as “La Sele.”The series comes in two editions of ₡500 and ₡710 ($1 and $1.30), available at the agency’s main facilities in downtown San José, the Zapote branch (east of the capital) and online at www.correos.go.cr.At a presentation ceremony Thursday, Correos de Costa Rica General Manager Álvaro Coghi appointed coach Jorge Luis Pinto and president of the Costa Rican Football Federation Eduardo Li as “Honorary Mailmen.” Both received a certificate and a mail bag.Assistant coaches and former World Cup players Paulo Wanchope and Luis Marín also attended the event. The special edition comes in two designs of ₡500 and ₡710. Alberto Font/The Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Paulo Wanchope named new coach of Costa Rica national soccer team Costa Rica can go far, says coach Pinto Portugal’s last-second draw is US’ most-watched soccer game Music legend Rubén Blades writes Editus to praise Costa Rica’s World Cup achievementslast_img read more

Mexico deports US affluenza teen Ethan Couch

first_imgTonya Couch was deported from Mexico on Dec. 31 and was promptly arrested by U.S. authorities to face charges of hindering his apprehension.Her son had lodged an appeal that could have delayed his deportation for months, but he dropped it on Jan. 15.In 2013, the teen crashed his pickup into a group of pedestrians in Texas and another vehicle, leaving four dead and several seriously injured. Couch, who was 16 at the time, had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit for an adult.The son of millionaire parents made headlines during his trial when a psychologist testifying on his behalf claimed he suffered from “affluenza.” The term, coined from affluence and influenza, implied that financial privilege made him unable to understand the consequences of his actions.Couch pleaded guilty to intoxication and manslaughter. Prosecutors had sought a 20-year prison term, but the court handed him a surprise sentence of mental health treatment and a decade of probation. A handout photo released by the Jalisco State Public Prosecutor’s Office of U.S. “affluenza teen” Ethan Couch at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Sate, Mexico on Dec. 28, 2015. AFP/Jalisco Prosecutor’s Office Facebook Comments Related posts:Mexico horrified by suspected massacre, incineration of 43 students How chocolate cake led to Mexican drug kingpin’s arrest Mexico drug war shootout leaves dozens dead Peña Nieto administration wants answers after Egypt kills 8 Mexican tourists MEXICO CITY – Mexican authorities on Thursday deported a U.S. teenager known for using an “affluenza” defense in a fatal Texas drunk-driving accident, a month after the fugitivewas caught at a resort.The National Migration Institute released a video showing agents escorting a bearded Ethan Couch, 18, into a plane flying from Mexico City to Dallas, Texas, after he dropped an appeal against his deportation.Couch, who had spent 28 days in a detention facility, will be met by U.S. authorities in Dallas “because he faces several charges,” the institute said in a statement.Couch and his mother, Tonya, were detained by Mexican authorities in the Pacific resort of Puerto Vallarta on Dec. 28 following an international manhunt. The young man had disappeared late last year after missing a mandatory meeting with his probation officer. Couch apparently vanished after the emergence of a video showing him at a party taking part in a drinking game, which violated the terms of his probation.last_img read more

Learning English in Costa Rica then and now

first_imgRelated posts:Claiming my Afro-Latinidad A look back at 1930s Limón and the real legacy of Afro-Caribbean immigrants Finding La Negrita: A story of coming home Dr. Charles Gourzong: Costa Rica’s visionary medicine man My two children, born in New York, are English speakers with a fair background in the basics of Spanish. They attend a private international school in Costa Rica where instruction is in English – except for Spanish class, of course, and the preparatory program for the Costa Rican high school exit exams. My 15-year-old son has emerged as a true Tico, as he can now roll off his tongue all themaes, esos and other soccer-field lingo that signifies “arrival.”For my husband and daughter, the journey has been a bit more treacherous. As for me, I have never had formal Spanish instruction, but I can understand, speak (tongue-tied much of the time) and write it. Yet much of my daily life involves English. The neighborhood we live in is a mix of U.S. and European expats and professional Costa Ricans who love speaking English with me, though I attempt to reply in Spanish. Outside of this enclave, of course, the Costa Rican world remains mostly Spanish-speaking. At the feria on Saturday morning, I have my regular vendors who greet me with fresh kale as we discuss the weather and their crops.I realize as I move between spaces that my worlds are language-driven. When I am with my Costa Rican family, conversation is generally in Spanish, with whispers when I need translation. I began to think about the significance of this since there are rumors that within 20 years, 60 percent of Costa Ricans will speak English.  I think that today, the majority of Costa Ricans who speak English fluently come primarily from two spaces: from an Afro/Caribbean-descended family, or from a private school education which was either bilingual or English-based. The latter indicates a class status. The former is based in a specific political and cultural tradition from the Caribbean coast which still has ramifications today.I love the fact that I can simply make a phone call to my maternal aunts and get all the information I need on their experiences growing up in Puerto Limón in the 1940s and 1950s. My Aunt Marjorie is the family storyteller; in West Africa she would be called a griot. A griot is a respected holder of communal knowledge, usually shared through word-of-mouth as part of a community’s oral tradition. Well, Tía Marjorie has a suitcase of knowledge that I am grateful for! I have always heard my mother and her sisters laugh about Sister Jesse and English school, but only until I spoke with my tias did I get a good idea about how they acquired English in Costa Rica.At the turn of the 20th century, the influx of Anglophone Caribbean immigrants into Puerto Limón and the surrounding area to work on the Northern Railway and the banana plantations of the United Fruit Company, created a “country” on the Caribbean coast that was fully autonomous from the central highlands of Costa Rica. These Caribbean immigrants – educated, religious and professional – established their churches, local newspapers, businesses, worker unions and social clubs, which were mostly church-based. These organizations helped the community articulate itself as it struggled with the identity politics of being of Caribbean origins and non-Costa Ricans (until 1948, when those of Caribbean lineage but born in Costa Rica could apply for naturalization). One of the great markers of this Caribbean identity was the creation and maintenance of private English schools by the local Black community.My tía tells me that her father, Jamaican-born and married to a black woman from Limón, insisted that his four daughters learn to read and write English as part of their cultural heritage.  My grandfather never learned Spanish, and he did not need to in the Limón of his time. My grandmother learned Spanish well into her 50s, once she was living in San Jose. The world of Puerto Limón was an English-speaking center which was cosmopolitan in its outlook, as it engaged with sailors from around the world. Newspapers about global events were widely circulated. There were several private English schools that Black children could attend, including those run by the Baptist and Methodist Churches. Sister Jesse, Teacher Thomas and Mr. Davidson, all of Caribbean descent, were some of the English teachers who ran these schools which offered a program complementary to that of the Spanish schools that the Costa Rican government mandated all children to attend.Enter the world of Sister Jesse! She was a member of the Methodist Church and my grandmother was her seamstress. Tall and imposing, she wore long skirts with full petticoats, frilly white blouses closed at the neck and laced-up black boots in the hot Limón sun! As an exchange for her sewing services, my grandmother was allowed to send her four daughters to Sister Jesse’s English school for free. It was located in a one-room building next to the Methodist Church, around the corner from Los Banos in Limón. So, in the early 1940s, my mother and her sisters went to the schoolhouse, mostly in the afternoons, from 1-3 pm after Spanish school.Sister Jesse’s classroom was divided into Primary and Secondary; she had a younger woman teach the Kindergarten, First and Second Grades about 15 students. Sister Jesse took the older students in one large mix, up to 25 students at a time. She taught English, Geography/History (British of course!), Math and Religion.Sister Jesse’s world was ordered and serious, and maintained the respectability politics of the immigrant Caribbean community of her time. My tia recounts that most of the teaching and assessment was done orally: the students would form a daily semicircle around Sister Jesse’s desk, with the head of the class going first. Everyone vied for that spot, because the last thing a student wanted was to be the tail. Class started with the times tables, then spelling and geography. My aunts admitted that they were naughty and chatted a lot in class, therefore rarely avoiding the punishment meted out at the end of the day by Sister Jesse.It was this Limon community that established the foundations of English literacy for its children as an act of political and cultural consciousness which remain strong today among many Afro-Costa Ricans. One of the initiatives for the United Nations Decade of Afro-Descendants is the support of English-speaking Afro-Costa Rican communities through the sharing and celebration of language and cultural norms. Costa Rican scholars such as Dr. Marva Spence Sharpe study Limonese linguistic patterns in order to preserve all of their wonderful influences in Costa Rica’s history.Read more of Natasha Gordon-Chipembere’s columns here.Natasha Gordon-Chipembere, a writer, professor and founder of the Tengo Sed Writers Retreats, moved to Heredia, Costa Rica with her family from New York in June 2014.  She is now accepting applications for Tengo Sed IV Writers and Yoga Retreat in Jan 2017. She may be reached at indisunflower@gmail.com. Her column “Musings from an Afro-Costa Rican” is published monthly. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

5 questions for a Costa Rican photographer

first_imgRelated posts:Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica 5 question for a Costa Rican photographer 5 questions for Costa Rican sculptor José Sancho 5 questions for Costa Rican director Federico Peixoto Francisco Cubillo is only 19, but his phography is already capturing a broad variety of life, from concerts to nature and the city’s vivacity. The native of Puriscal, in the mountains southwest of San José, travels frequently to the capital as part of his work as a freelance photographer and audiovisual producer. Cubillo is self-taught and began his photographic journey less than a year ago when he bought his first professional camera and computer. His photographs are characterized by the use of a cold color palette and a clean aesthetic.On a rainy afternoon at Starbucks in the Plaza de la Cultura, The Tico Times sat down with Cubillo to talk about his life and work. Excerpts follow.Why did you choose photography?I like to demonstrate to people my own perspective on a specific situation. I feel I can tell stories through the photos I take; I’ve always felt that people don’t understand my point of view and photography is the most efficient way in which I can achieve that. [With photography] beauty is found within simplicity, which is portrayed in small things that most people take for granted.People usually focus too much on their defects. With photography I like to show them that their defects can make them beautiful. I’m uncomfortable with the idea that people are never satisfied with their portraits. I don’t like it when they let their insecurities overcome them. The Milky Way photographed by Cubillo in Puriscal. (Courtesy of Francisco Cubillo)What things do you like to photograph the most?Urban and social situations. I enjoy street photography because it’s more of a challenge for me. I’m from Puriscal, where you can go out at 1 a.m. and see the Milky Way. Those are photos that impress people, but they’re not a challenge for me. I love the urban settings much more; the city never stops moving, and I can lose the photograph within half a second if I’m not attentive at that moment. I like that idea of knowing that I’m capturing that exact moment in the most ephemeral manner possible. (Courtesy of Francisco Cubillo) A statue at the National Theater. (Courtesy of Francisco Cubillo)What about San José draws your attention?I’ve got this love-hate relationship with the city. I feel it’s a profoundly awful place, yet profoundly beautiful. People don’t appreciate at all the beauty San José offers. People focus way too much on the bad things, and not all the good things we can all regain [from the city]. I like to be able to show people that beauty they overlook. People often don’t like San José because they don’t know it. It’s a place that works as a point of transit: Most of us come here to work. We spend the day in San José, but don’t experiment it. We don’t live San José, so it’s very easy to overlook all of those beautiful things happening in the city because we’re not paying attention. San José comes alive during the rainy season. (Courtesy of Francisco Cubillo) (Courtesy of Francisco Cubillo)What differences do you notice between Puriscal and San José?Well, San José is not a new place for me: If you live in a rural Costa Rican area, 60% of your life is in San José because this is where we work, where most people come to study. However, the lifestyle and the way in which people behave are more impersonal. For example, if by any chance I end up being a homeless person, in Puriscal I’ll never end up living on the streets. In San José you’ll end up on the streets. In Puriscal you’ll never go hungry; in San José you will. It’s as if people were colder and there’s not as much compassion. The Mercado Central in San José. (Courtesy of Francisco Cubillo)Which are your inspirations and influences?I’m very inspired by my cousin, César Cordero. I think he’s the best photographer in Costa Rica, although he never publishes his photos. He takes them, but never shows them; he doesn’t edit them, either, just saves them. He’s my biggest inspiration and influence. The fact that I’ve had that close relationship with him and have been taking photos with him has formed me a lot as a person and photographer. I’ve learned a lot from him.Also, my mom has supported me a lot. It’s something that I sometimes take for granted and I don’t appreciate much, but she has always believed in me. She has always done everything that’s in her power in order to help me.Read more “Weekend Arts Spotlight” interviews here.Our “Weekend Arts Spotlight” presents Sunday interviews with artists who are from, working in, or inspired by Costa Rica, ranging from writers and actors to dancers and musicians. Do you know of an artist we should consider, whether a long-time favorite or an up-and-comer? Email us at kstanley@ticotimes.net. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Israels tourism minister seeks boost from India

first_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Misezhnikov and Indian Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai signed an agreement to encourage travel between their countries.India is a popular destination for Israelis.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Sponsored Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   Top holiday drink recipes JERUSALEM (AP) – Israel’s tourism minister says he is looking to India for a big boost in visits to his country.Stas Misezhnikov said Sunday that some 40,000 Indians visited Israel last year. While that’s a small percentage of the roughly 3 million tourists Israel gets each year, it’s double the amount of just two years ago.Misezhnikov said he can bring that figure to 100,000 in three years.At a news conference with his Indian counterpart, Misezhnikov said Israel will open new flights to destinations in India such as New Delhi, Goa and Calcutta. The Israeli Tourism Ministry also plans to open an office in Mumbai this year.last_img read more

Sri Lankan Muslims protest antiIslam film

first_imgCOLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – Hundreds of Muslims in Sri Lanka’s capital protested Wednesday against an anti-Islam film produced in the United States, burning effigies of President Barack Obama.About 300 protesters marched in Colombo, carrying signs and banners that read, “Ban anti-Islamic film all over the world. U.S. should apologize to Muslims.” They chanted, “Hang the producer and director of the film.” Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   The protesters blocked traffic on Colombo’s main roads, but police did not allow them to go near the U.S. Embassy.Protesters burned two effigies of Obama and U.S. and Israeli flags during the demonstration, which was organized by the Islamic group Sri Lanka Thawheed Jamath.Abdul Razeek, a spokesman for the group, said the protests would continue until the film, “Innocence of Muslims,” is completely removed from YouTube.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonalast_img read more

Berezovsky to pay Abramovich 56M in legal costs

first_img Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of But Judge Elizabeth Gloster threw out the case in August, ruling that Berezovsky was a dishonest and unreliable witness.Neither man was in court Friday as the costs were settled.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) LONDON (AP) – A British court has ordered self-exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky to pay 35 million pounds ($56 million) in legal costs to fellow Russian Roman Abramovich after losing a lawsuit against him.Berezovsky waged a multimillion-dollar legal battle against Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club, claiming that he was cheated out of his stakes in the oil group Sibneft.Berezovsky, a former Kremlin power broker who sought political asylum in Britain in the early 2000s, argued that Abramovich blackmailed him into selling the stakes vastly beneath their true worth after he fell out with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daycenter_img Patients with chronic pain give advice Sponsored Stories Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   last_img read more

Thai club owner acquitted in fatal New Years fire

first_img Top Stories Club owner Wisuk Sejsawat, the lighting effects company and its executive were found guilty by a lower court in 2011 of causing the deaths of people without intent, and Wisuk was sentenced to three years in prison.On Tuesday, the Bangkok Appeals Court ruled that Wisuk was not directly responsible for the blaze and dismissed the charges against him. The judges said he could have been held responsible for the lack of prominently displayed floor plans, fire exit signs and emergency lights required by the building code, but he did not directly cause the fire.The Appeals Court upheld the lower court’s ruling that the lighting effects company should pay 8.7 million baht ($279,000) in compensation to the victims or their families and sentenced its executive to three years’ imprisonment.Four other people were acquitted by the Appeals Court, including the lead singer of a rock band named “Burn” that was playing when the fire began.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) BANGKOK (AP) – A Thai appeals court on Tuesday acquitted a nightclub owner of responsibility for a fire that killed 67 people in Bangkok on New Year’s Day in 2009, reversing a lower court’s ruling.More than 1,000 revelers were inside the Santika club when an indoor fireworks display set off after a New Year’s countdown ignited the blaze. The fire raced through the two-story building, sending panicked guests running for the main entrance. Victims died of burns, smoke inhalation and from being crushed in the stampede. Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Quick workouts for men Parents, stop beating yourself up How men can have a healthy 2019last_img read more

Syrian president acknowledges recent setbacks in war

first_img How men can have a healthy 2019 How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Redor Khalil, a spokesman for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, said a female Kurdish fighter, a civilian and four attackers were killed. Militants lobbed missiles at residential areas, he said.A Kurdish activist group, Yekiti Media, said at least four civilians were killed in one neighborhood. The Observatory said 16 members of the Kurdish force were killed. Differing casualty figures are common after attacks.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad acknowledged Wednesday what he said were recent “setbacks” in the war against insurgents trying to topple him, promising a comeback by his troops still entangled in heavy fighting.The rare admission of defeat follows opposition advances in northern and southern Syria that have punctured the notion that Assad is on his way to defeating the four-year-old rebellion. They also undermined Assad’s claim of being a bulwark against the Islamic State group, which had eclipsed rebels over the past year. Wars have “ebb and flow, gains and losses and ups and downs,” Assad said, speaking at a Damascus school to mark Martyrs Day.“Everything fluctuates except one thing, which is faith in the soldier and his belief in ultimate victory,” he said. “So when setbacks occur, it is our duty as a society to boost the morale of the soldier and not wait for him to raise ours.”Government troops withdrew from the northern city of Idlib after it fell to opposition fighters in late March, followed by the strategic town of Jisr al-Shughour and the Qarmeed military base last week.His troops are now under fire at a few remaining outposts, including the national hospital in Jisr al-Shughour.“God willing, the army will soon reach those heroes besieged in Jisr al-Shughour hospital to continue the battle to eradicate terrorism,” he said.Activists reported continued intense fighting outside of the town.Meanwhile Wednesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a spokesman for Kurdish forces in the northeastern city of Hassakeh said suspected Islamic State militants attacked a center affiliated with the force and lobbed missiles at residential areas. Check your body, save your lifelast_img read more

Yangtze River Long river long history top tourist spot

first_imgBEIJING (AP) — The scene of a capsized cruise ship with hundreds on board is one of the longest and most famous rivers in the world. The Yangtze has dramatic cliffs, peaks and waterfalls that are often featured in Chinese paintings, but its importance goes far beyond that to its role as a major transportation artery that created some of the country’s biggest cities.LONG RIVERThe Chinese name for the Yangtze translates as “long river,” and, at 6,300 kilometers (4,000 miles), it is China’s longest and the world’s third, behind the Nile and the Amazon. It flows west to east from the glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau to the financial hub of Shanghai and out to the East China Sea. It sometimes floods during the summer monsoon season and parts of it are heavily polluted from industry and agriculture.LONG HISTORYFor centuries, the Yangtze was the key route for transporting goods in China, but parts of its waters were dangerous for junks to navigate because of rocks and fluctuating water levels.Nowadays, it is still a busy river that contributes to the economy of the cities and villages within its reaches, including five of China’s largest cities, such as the former capital of Nanjing.TOURIST MECCAThe Yangtze is a top tourist attraction in China, and boats offer mostly four- or five-day trips to and from the metropolis of Chongqing. Slow-sailing cruise boats offer spectacular views and short stops at historical and cultural sites, such as the world-famous Three Gorges Dam and the more mysterious Fengdu Ghost Town, which got its reputation from a local folklore. Tourists can also walk within an ancient city called Jingzhou with city walls and battlefields that are described in the Chinese literary classic “Romance of the Three Kingdoms.”Further west on the upper reaches of the Yangtze is the scenic canyon Tiger Leaping Gorge, about 240 miles (385 kilometers) from the Tibetan border, which ranks among the deepest gorges in the world. It is named for a tiger that is said to have escaped humans by leaping across the fierce waters where the canyon narrows. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 THREE GORGES DAMThe river’s best-known attraction abroad is the world’s largest hydropower project, the Three Gorges Dam, built to control flooding along a stretch of the river in Hubei Province. The cruise ship that capsized Monday night had not yet reached the dam from its starting point in Nanjing. The dam started operating in 2003 after nine years of construction. The dam has been controversial because of geological and ecological concerns and the hundreds of thousands of people relocated to make way for it, but authorities say it was the best way to end centuries of flooding along the river.China’s worst floods in recent history were in 1998, when 4,150 people died, most along the Yangtze.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories last_img read more

Police release surveillance photo of Brussels bombing suspects

first_img New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Windows were blown out, ceilings collapsed and smoke poured through the building.(Twitter Photo)An hour after the airport blasts, a bomb went off in the subway. Another bomb was found at the airport and deactivated by authorities. “We are at war,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after a crisis meeting in Paris. “We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war.”European security officials have been bracing for a major attack for weeks, and warned that the Islamic State group was actively preparing to strike. The arrest Friday of a key suspect in the November attacks in Paris heightened those fears, as investigators said many more people were involved than originally thought, and that some are still on the loose.The Associated Press contributed to this report. The vital role family plays in society Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Police in Belgium have released a surveillance photo of the suspected terrorists who detonated bombs that killed 31 and injured nearly 200 at a European airport Tuesday morning.The photo was taken at the Brussels airport before the attacks.At least one of the airport blasts was attributed to a suicide bomber. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the carnage. In the photo, three men are seen strolling through the Zaventem terminal, pushing luggage carts. ABC News reported that two of the men may be dead and authorities were searching for the man in the hat.center_img (Surveillance Photo) Top Stories 1 / 25The blown out facade of the terminal is seen, center, at Zaventem airport, one of the sites of two deadly attacks in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after the attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 0 Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

IHG named Australasias most environmentally sustainable hotelie

first_imgCrowne Plaza Alice Springs Solar Project, final install aerial photo Source = IHG IHG has been recognised as the most environmentally and socially responsible hotelier in Australasia, after being awarded the inaugural Responsible Travel ManagementAward (RTM) by the National Business Travel Association (NBTA).Announcing the award at the Excellence Award Dinner during its annual Regional Business Travel Conference in Melbourne, the NBTA recognised IHG’s corporate responsibility practices as the clear benchmark for sustainability inhotels in Australia and New Zealand.Citing the sheer depth and diversity of IHG’s comprehensive corporate responsibility program in awarding the accolade, NBTA offered praise for the years of effort and resources that have been committed to making IHG’s hotels and business practices as environmentally sustainable and socially responsible as possible.Of particular note were IHG’s extensive efforts in providing training, employment and community development opportunities for Indigenous Australians, as part of the company’s broad corporate responsibility commitments.“We’ve spent years changing the way we do business across every one of our InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels, to cut the volume of natural resources being consumed – such as water and energy – and reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill, and find new ways to foster the social and economic development of the local communities we do business in,” said IHG Australasia’s director of corporate responsibility, Frank Hubbard.“This process has required personal commitments at every level of the business, to get IHG to the point where it is starting to make a difference. It’s required nothing less than fundamental shifts in how we run our hotels and engage with our communities, but the positive results of these efforts are more than worth the effort.” “Time and again, we’ve been able to prove that responsible business is good business – and receiving recognition for our commitment from major industry organisations like the NBTA certainly spurs us on,” Frank said. IHG’s environmental policies cover every area of the global business – from sustainable design, development and operation of hotels through to engagement of customers, colleagues and business partners.  Underpinning all this are proprietary systems and partnerships to monitor, benchmark and audit the environmental performance of every one of IHG’s hotels.The NBTA’s inaugural Responsible Travel Management Award for Australasia was judged by a selection of NBTA Board members and independent experts in sustainability and climate change.  last_img read more

Singapore Airlines joins Tourism WA to boost visitors

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.C Singapore Airlines and Tourism Western Australia (TWA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly promote tourism to Western Australia.The three-year partnership sees a joint funding of marketing campaigns and the active promotion of inbound tourism to Western Australia off the back of the carrier’s Singapore-Perth services, the airline announced in a release on Wednesday, 1 September.“We are privileged to work with TWA and the forming of this strategic partnership is testament to our strong commitment to the Australian market. With Singapore Airlines’ extensive network, I am confident that we will encourage more visitors to see the beautiful sights and attractions Western Australia has to offer,” Singapore Airlines’ Executive Vice President, Marketing and the Regions, Goh Choon Phong said.The focus in the first year would be on three key international markets for Western Australia – Germany, Singapore and China, TWA’s acting CEO Stephanie Buckland said.“Our Experience Extraordinary campaign ties perfectly in with these markets because visitors from these countries seek something a little different,” Ms Buckland said.“Nowhere else in Australia can you find a city with 3,000 hours of sunshine per year or visit one of Lonely Planet’s top ten regions of the world – Australia’s South West.”Currently, Singapore Airlines operates a total of 93 weekly flights to five major cities across Australia, including 18 weekly services to Perth.last_img read more

Qantas announces profit update

first_imgQantas chief executive Alan Joyce has announced that the carrier expects to report an Underlying Profit Before Tax for the last financial year ending June 2011 in the range of AUD500 million to 550 million. Mr Joyce said a number of factors have impacted the FY11 result, including the disruptions due to the Chilean volcano which has already cost the airline AUD21 million. A series of significant weather events and natural disasters including the Queensland floods, Cyclones Yasi and Carlos, the Japanese tsunami and the Christchurch earthquake has cost the carrier in total AUD185 million. He also confirmed that they have reached an agreement with Rolls Royce regarding the Airbus A380 engine failure on flight QF32 last November and the full settlement will be recognised in the FY11. “Considering the challenges facing the aviation industry, this is a good result, the Qantas Group’s best since the global financial crisis,” Mr Joyce said. He said the combination of their domestic carrier’s Jetstar and Qantas, Jetstar International, Qantas frequent flyer and Qantas freight has enabled them to pull through these major events. Qantas International is forecast to generate a loss before interest and tax of around AUD200 million, on invested capital of over AUD5 billion, with a weaker result expected for 2012.“Clearly the situation is not sustainable, however we are developing a long term strategy aimed at restoring competitiveness and profitability.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P Qantas faces more turbulant times aheadlast_img read more

Job cuts as QF consolidates operations

first_imgUp to 535 Qantas employees will face termination, following the consolidation of Qantas’ heavy maintenance facilities.Facilities in Avalon and Brisbane will remain open, while maintenance repairs at Tullamarine will be discontinued by August 2012. In a statement issued this morning, the airline’s chief executive Alan Joyce said the restructure was necessary as there is currently not enough heavy maintenance work required to operate three separate facilities. Line maintenance will continue to be conducted at Tullamarine, employing over 300 workers. Mr Joyce was positive about the impending situation, highlighting the airline’s commitment to preserving heavy maintenance repairs within Australia.“Qantas has an outstanding track record in aircraft maintenance, and our commitment to setting a global standard for safety and quality in airline maintenance will never change.”The airline chief was also resonant in moving forward and developing its approach to servicing aircraft.“Qantas has invested heavily over the past 10 years in new aircraft that are more advanced, more efficient, attractive to our customers and require less maintenance, less often,” Mr Joyce said.“But we cannot take advantage of this new generation of aircraft if we continue to do heavy maintenance in the same way we did 10 years ago.”According to the airline, Qantas will offer significant support packages for affected employees including redundancy packages well in excess of the legislative requirements, career transition, access to skills and training programs and counselling for employees and their families.Plans to consolidate all services to Queensland were reported earlier in March of this year. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

Joyce spreads duties as new IATA chair

first_imgLess than a month after announcing the division of leadership duties within Australia’s flag carrier, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has taken on new responsibilities as the newly appointed chairman of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).Stepping into the role effective immediately and replacing outgoing chairman and current KLM chief executive Peter Hartman, Mr Joyce will lead the Association for up to one year with his term concluding at IATA’s sixty-ninth General Meeting in Cape Town next year.The Aviation Group’s chief executive Tony Tyler said Mr Joyce was “the right person” to lead the Association’s Board with up to 24 years experience in the airline industry. “IATA plays a critical role in the industry and I am honored to take on the role of leading its Board of Governors,” Mr Joyce said.  “The top priorities, as always, will be safety, security, and sustainability. “On top of that, I want to see IATA continue to deliver value to its members by being a strong advocate for the industry.”As part of his term with the company, Mr Tyler said Mr Joyce would be involved with the Association’s plans to develop the foundation standards for new distribution capability as well as progressing work on the Checkpoint of the Future.Appointed to replace Mr Joyce in the chairman post from June next year is Delta Air Lines chief executive Richard Anderson. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J.last_img read more

Lebanese smoking ban suffocating tourism

first_imgImage Source: AFP Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Lebanon tourism operators and associations claim the country’s hospitality and tourism industries are suffering following the national smoking ban laws that were implemented in September.The protested ban prevents smokers from lighting up in all closed public spaces, according to The Daily Star.“The tourism sector is amid an unprecedented crisis… we have accumulated vast losses since the implementation [of law 174] started,” Head of the Restaurants Association Paul Ariss said.“The law was passed at the wrong time when the sector was already suffering from a sharp decline caused by political and security turmoil that [caused a sharp fall in the number] of tourists.”Head of the Union of Tourism Syndicates in Lebanon Pierre al-Ashkar said he warned politicians of the detrimental effects of the ban earlier last month.“We met with the prime minister and told him that implementing such a law in the current exceptional security situation in the country is likely to produce greater loss in the tourism sector,” Mr al-Ashkar said.Heads of the Lebanese Franchise Association and Hotels Association also called for amending the law. “We demand that some aspects of the law are reconsidered after it damaged thousands of businesses and threatened jobs,” Head of the Lebanese Franchise Association Charles Arbid said.“We are not calling to cancel the smoking ban but [for a law] that takes our business into account,” Head of the Hotels Association Pierre Achkar said.Head of the Chambers of Commerce Mohammad Choukeir had requested the Lebanese government consider issuing licenses to institutes specialised in nargileh (smoking waterpipe).last_img read more

Event Awards looks for a Home for 20132015

first_imgIta Buttrose – the 2012 Event AwardsMaster of Ceremonies Source = Australian Event Awards Pty Limited ANZ Stadium – The host venue for 2012,ANZ Stadium Sydney Olympic Park Harmony Daryl – Winners of the 2012 Entertainerof the year award, Harmony and Daryl Lovegrove Each year Australians are responsible for thousands of great events both at home and abroad. The Australian Event Awards aims to recognise their achievements.The Australian Event Awards is the pinnacle awards program for the Australian Events Industry and is now in search for a home. The Event Awards provides an opportunity for Australian events, Event Managers, products and service providers to be nationally recognised for their achievements. Its aims are to celebrate and reward innovation and excellence across the whole spectrum of Australian Events and event services.The program consists of Categories ranging from “Best Sporting Event” to “Best Achievement in Design” and culminates in the highly prized “Australian Event of the Year” award.Previous award winners include Santos Tour Down Under (SA), The Australian Open (VIC), Opera on Sydney Harbour (NSW), Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (VIC), Ten Days on the Island (TAS), Queensland Mining and Engineering Exhibition (QLD) and Newmont Boddington Gold Official opening (WA).Following the inaugural Event Awards in 2009 the organisers launched a search for a home venue for the subsequent three years (2010 – 2012). Sydney Olympic Park was successful in their bid and became the Home venue for the Industry Night of Nights.“During those three years Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) were immensely supportive of the awards and have greatly assisted in bolstering the legitimacy and exposure of the program. Their participation has been invaluable.” said Ian Steigrad, Managing Director of the Awards.Now that the three year arrangement with SOPA has come to a close, a wide variety of interest has been shown from venues, organisations and governments across Australia in hosting the awards. “In response to this, and in order to provide a fair opportunity to all, we have decided to launch a new national Search for a Home for the 2013-2015 Awards” said Steigrad. The event is anticipated to be held in the second week of November each year.Search for a Home bids will open on the 13th May 2013 giving interested parties five weeks to submit their bid. Bids close on the 14th June 2013.The winning destination will have the opportunity to showcase itself directly to the movers and shakers of the Australian events industry. Along with those who export Australian Events expertise to the world and to the 20,000 strong Australian Event Awards database.The announcement of the winning destination will be on the 9th July 2013. Lyndon Terracini – Accepted the coveted AustralianEvent of the Year award for Handa Opera on SydneyHarbour Sandy Hollway – Co-chair of Judging panellast_img read more

Increased speed and security to help manage continuing passenger growt

first_imgIncreased speed and security to help manage continuing passenger growthAbu Dhabi Airports announced it will deploy a new traveler document authentication system using boarding pass validation technology from air transport IT specialist, SITA. Airport iValidate will enhance security, accelerate passenger processing and reduce waiting times for passengers by automatically verifying all types of boarding passes, including mobile boarding passes and home-printed passes. The use of iValidate at Abu Dhabi International Airport will be the first deployment of the product in the Middle East.The airport’s Traveler Document Authentication System using SITA’s Airport iValidate ensures passengers are at the correct terminal and security checkpoint, and enables them to present their barcode boarding passes either on paper or on their mobile phones.  The data is automatically validated, checked for duplicates and cross-referenced against the Airport Operational Database and the airline’s Departure Control System. The information is then displayed to the security agent on an intuitive graphical user interface in a matter of seconds.Ahmad Al Haddabi, Chief Operations Officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “Deploying such an advanced technology is a further demonstration of Abu Dhabi Airports’ determination to use the very best the market has to offer. Effectively managing the balance between continuous passenger flow and stringent security measures is a fundamental part of our operations, and the task is even more important in view of our continued growth.“With this new technology verifying passenger documentation will be done quickly and efficiently, while at the same time improving the passenger experience. This is all part of our ongoing programme to deliver a smooth flowing airport that affords passengers sufficient comfort and time to enjoy all the facilities on offer.”Hani El-Assaad, President, Middle East, India and Africa, SITA, said: “It’s always a challenge to maintain the right balance between speed, efficiency and security. We also know that airports typically make around one-third of their revenue from retail, and there is a very clear correlation between moving passengers quickly through airport security and retail spend. SITA’s Airport iValidate is designed to work hand in hand with security at Abu Dhabi International to help them enhance the passenger experience.”The Airport iValidate system, which will be in place by June 2015, will include four security lanes with automatic gates, four mobile/paper boarding pass scanners and four hand-held wireless boarding pass scanners.The system will initially be deployed in Terminal 3 economy, followed by the Terminal 3 business area. It will also be implemented in both economy and business in Terminal 1. SITA on-site staff will support and maintain the Airport iValidate system, with the same stringent Service Level Agreements the company provides for other systems in the airport.SITA Source = SITAlast_img read more

Hong Kong Airlines is recognised by IATA on the Fast Travel Program

first_imgSource = Hong Kong Airlines Hong Kong Airlines is recognised by IATA on the Fast Travel ProgramHong Kong Airlines is recognised by IATA on the Fast Travel ProgramHong Kong Airlines, the internationally-acclaimed full-service airline strives to provide convenient and bespoke services for travellers.Hong Kong Airlines implemented self-services for travellers such as Check-in, Bags ready-to-go, Flight Re-booking and Document check at the Hong Kong International Airport. The self-services performance has been recognised by International Air Transport Association (IATA) through the awarding of the Green Certificate in the Fast Travel Program.Apart from providing self-services to travellers, Hong Kong Airlines launched “Sweeten You Up” service last year, offering newlyweds or couples celebrating their anniversaries, birthday and children passengers a sweet and enjoyable journey with their beloved in the sky. Hong Kong Airlines takes the service to a new level recently and Happy Angels will be assigned on our flights to provide extra care to kids, ensuring a carefree journey for parents.As the first and major Hong Kong-based carrier to use Mid Field Concourse (MCF) at the Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong Airlines will soon launch its brand new VIP lounge at the new concourse. Currently over 90% of Hong Kong Airlines’ flights including both departure and arrival use MFC, enabling passengers to enjoy the convenience of the airbridge, contributing to a more pleasant flight experience.While celebrating its tenth anniversary of establishment with the acquisition of IATA’s Green Certificate, Hong Kong Airlines has been awarded the highly-esteemed Skytrax 4-star rating again in the Skytrax World Airline Awards earlier this year, the highly authoritative industry benchmarks by Skytrax the research consultancy specialising in the air transport industry. Followed by the “World’s Most Improved Airline” honour by Skytrax in 2014, as well as entering into the top 10 list of the “World’s Best Regional Airline” for the first time last year. The conferred awards mark Hong Kong Airlines’ achievements and improvements in recent years. Hong Kong Airlinesbook your flights hereAbout Hong Kong AirlinesEstablished in 2006, Hong Kong Airlines is a full-service airline firmly rooted in Hong Kong with a wide destination network covering over 30 major cities across the Asia Pacific region, including Gold Coast, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Tokyo, Sapporo, Bangkok, Bali and Okinawa. The current operating fleet is made up of 32 Airbus aircraft with an average age of around 3.9 years, consisting of 27 passenger aircraft and five freighters, being one of the youngest fleet in the world. Hong Kong Airlines has been awarded the internationally acclaimed 4-star rating from Skytrax since 2011. Adhering to the concept of “Fresh and Very Hong Kong”, Hong Kong Airlines is committed to “Bringing Greater Journeys Sky High”, and is dedicated to providing a pleasant and enjoyable journey to all passengers.last_img read more

Wendy Wu Tours sign partnership with Express Travel Group

first_imgWendy Wu Tours sign partnership with Express Travel GroupLeading Asia holiday expert Wendy Wu Tours has signed a partnership agreement with the Australian-owned and operated travel company, Express Travel Group (ETG), as preferred supplier for Asia to the ETG group across Australia.Wendy Wu Tours general manager Andrew Mulholland said the companies complemented each other, with both looking to ensure they grow market share to the core destinations of China, Indochina, India and Japan.He added, “We look forward to working with this rapidly growing group of retail professionals. I am very impressed with their model, quality of agents and aggressive stance towards owning Asia as a core market”.Express Travel Group executive general manager, Ari Magoutis, commented that the company is excited to be partnering with Wendy Wu Tours, whom they consider a leader in product, service and innovation.“While our network continues to grow, we want to ensure we are partnering with market leaders and the feedback we have received from our members about Wendy Wu Tours is of the highest standard. It is this member feedback that drives our supplier relationships and ultimately creates successful partnerships”.About Wendy Wu Tours Source = Wendy Wu Tourslast_img read more

H Plus Representing Tourism Australia in South Korea

first_imgH Plus Representing Tourism Australia in South KoreaH Plus Representing Tourism Australia in South KoreaTourism Australia has changed the way it operates in South Korea by refocusing its efforts on trade activities and moving to a representation agency agreement.H Plus is now responsible for representing Tourism Australia to travel industry stakeholders in South Korea as well as forging relationships with the trade partners and tour operators who sell travel to Australia.H Plus will also provide support and training for the Aussie Specialist Program to equip front line travel sellers with the knowledge and skills to sell Australia.The work will be directed from H Plus’ office in Seoul led by account director Jinha Joh and supported by Aussie Specialist Program trainer Joo Heui Lee. Tourism Australia closed its office in Seoul on 3 August.“Jinha has worked in the travel industry over many years and will be a great addition to our trade marketing efforts,” said Andrew Hogg Regional General Manager North Asia, Tourism Australia.Tourism Australia shifted its focus in South Korea to a distribution model after reviewing funding allocation in the markets to achieve the greatest impact for Australia tourism and commenced the tender process for representation in May 2018.In the 12 months to March 2018 Australia welcomed 303,800 visitors from South Korea who spent A$ 1.6 billion. There are currently 19 flights per week from South Korea to Australia.Find out more about the South Korea market at www.tourism.australia.com/koreaFind out more about the Aussie Specialist Program at www.tourism.australia.com/aussiespecialistSource = Tourism Australialast_img read more

Princess Cruises Celebrates 5000th Commodore

first_imgPrincess Cruises Celebrates 5000th Commodore Pictured left to right: Jessica Rogers, Flight Centre Kiama with Helen Courias, Princess Cruises Business Development ManagerPrincess Cruises Celebrates 5000th CommodoreJessica Rogers from Flight Centre Kiama NSW has been celebrated as the 5000th person to reach Commodore status in Princess Cruises awarded Academy training program.As a Commodore, Jessica will now be entitled to a range of Princess Cruises benefits including: a ‘Graduation’ cruise for two, onboard Captain’s Circle and Elite tier benefits,priority access to shipboard events,Commodore marketing kit,exclusive access to special offers and promotions,priority Commodore support,CLIA credit points, and a certificate of achievement.“We’re delighted to see more agents than ever before reach Commodore status,” said Director of Sales and Marketing, Princess Cruises Australia and New Zealand, Nick Ferguson.“Princess Academy is an engaging training program designed to boost travel agents’ knowledge of Princess Cruises’ products to increase sales and Academy Commodore agencies on average generate 60% more revenue than non-Commodore agencies.”Not yet a part of the Princess Academy Program? Get yourself registered now and learn everything there is to know about Princess Cruises, then watch your business grow.Visit www.onesourcecruises.comAbout Princess CruisesOne of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises is the fastest growing international premium cruise line and tour company operating a fleet of 17 modern cruise ships, carrying two million guests each year to 380 destinations around the globe, including the Caribbean, Alaska, Panama Canal, Mexican Riviera, Europe, South America, Australia/New Zealand, the South Pacific, Hawaii, Asia, Canada/New England, Antarctica and World Cruises. A team of professional destination experts have curated 170 itineraries, ranging in length from three to 111 days and Princess Cruises is continuously recognized as “Best Cruise Line for Itineraries.”In 2017 Princess Cruises, with parent company Carnival Corporation, introduced MedallionClass Vacations enabled by the OceanMedallion, the vacation industry’s most advanced wearable device, provided free to each guest sailing on a MedallionClass ship. The award-winning innovation offers the fastest way to a hassle-free, personalized vacation giving guests more time to do the things they love most. MedallionClass Vacations will be activated on five ships by the end of 2019. An activation plan will continue across the global fleet in 2020 and beyond.Princess Cruises continues its multi-year, “Come Back New Promise” – a $450 million-dollar product innovation and cruise ship renovation campaign that will continue to enhance the line’s onboard guest experience. These enhancements result in more moments of awe, lifetime memories and meaningful stories for guests to share from their cruise vacation. The product innovations include partnerships with award-winning Chef Curtis Stone; engaging entertainment inspired shows with Broadway-legend Stephen Schwartz; immersive activities for the whole family from Discovery and Animal Planet that include exclusive shore excursions to onboard activities; the ultimate sleep at sea with the award-winning Princess Luxury Bed and more.Three new Royal-class ships are currently on order with the next new ship under construction, Sky Princess, scheduled for delivery in October 2019, followed by Enchanted Princess in June 2020. Princess previously announced that two new (LNG) ships which will be the largest ships in the Princess fleet, accommodating approximately 4,300 guests are planned for delivery in 2023 and 2025.  Princess now has five ships arriving over the next six years between 2019 and 2025. The company is part of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE:CUK).Source = Princess Cruiseslast_img read more

Canadian Tourism Minister meets travel trade leaders in India

first_imgBardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism, met with tourism industry leaders in New Delhi and Mumbai to discuss how to facilitate more tourists’ travel to Canada.H.E. Nadir Patel, High Commissioner for Canada to India, hosted an evening with captains of the industry at his official residence in New Delhi.Over 170 agents from all over India attended the reception, with some of them coming all the way from Ludhiana, Amritsar, Mumbai, Ahmedabad among others. Discussions were on issuance of visa, increase in air capacity, compression issues and key opportunities for growth.During the meet, the Minister said, “It’s an opportunity to build on the work that my colleagues have been doing to build a strong relationship between Canada and India. For me, the relationship between the two countries is very important. We want the Canadian travel trade to work better together; and thereby create more opportunities.”Chagger informed that this year is Canada’s 150th birthday and they want the world, especially people from India to visit Canada. “We will be working closely with Destination Canada- our marketing agency and the High Commissioner in India to ensure that every Indian here knows about our country and considers visiting it,” she added.SanJeet, India Representative, Destination Canada, assured that Destination Canada-India will keep working on increasing the number of Indians to Canada and also help resolve visa issues. He informed that tourist visas are now issued till the validity of the passport.last_img read more

Sofitel to develop its largest hotel in Middle East

first_imgComing in late 2019, the Sofitel Dubai Wafi will have 501 rooms, 86 suites and 97 serviced residences, to be operated on an extended-stay basis. The hotel is being built with development partner MKM Commercial Holdings and will join Sofitel’s portfolio of 14 hotels currently in operation and under development in the region.The hotel will be adjacent to the Raffles Dubai, now a sister hotel under the Accorhotels umbrella, with the group saying “both properties will form a luxury cluster” within the Wafi area, with guests able to share amenities and services across the two hotels.Sheikh Manna Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, Chairman of MKM Commercial Holdings, said, “We are confident the Sofitel, through its distinct brand positioning and expertise in the luxury segment, will be able to complement our existing Raffles Dubai while cementing the strength of hospitality offerings present within the expanded and revitalized Wafi.”Sofitel Dubai Wafi will include an Asian specialty restaurant, gastro pub, a destination restaurant, bar and lounge on 43rd and 44th Floors, a French lobby cafe, an all-day restaurant and a pool bar. There will also be a SoSpa, gym, outdoor pools, private cabanas and a kids club.Sami Nasser, Chief Operating Officer, luxury brands for AccorHotels Middle East, said, “This will undoubtedly become a future flagship for Sofitel in the region. The development of this property is aligned with our strategy to operate one of our leading luxury brands across strategic locations in the Middle East.”last_img read more

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah pioneers turtle rehabilitation sets an example for the

first_imgBurj Al Arab Jumeirah not only cuts a stunning silhouette against the skyline of the Emirate of Dubai, but the international luxury hospitality chain is also a pioneer in driving unique environmental changes. A case in point is the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP) that they have undertaken, in collaboration with Dubai’s Wildlife Protection Office.Conceptualised and conceived in 2004, shortly after the Wildlife Protection Office was bombarded with rescue requests from members of the public, DTRP now has a team of seven working dedicatedly for turtle rehabilitation. The team receives regular veterinary assistance from Dubai Falcon Hospital and the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory and has released 1,700 turtles including Hawksbill, Green, Loggerhead and Olive Ridleys to the ocean. Burj Al Arab Jumeirah has left no stone unturned in aiding the project and employs an animal husbandry team that is devoted to taking care of all the rescued turtles. These turtles are brought in by organisations focussed on turtle conservation and rehabilitation.  With only 8,000 nesting females across all seven species of marine turtles left worldwide, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah has undertaken a task which not many would dare to. No wonder then, the DTRP is the only committed rehabilitation project in all of the Middle East and the Red Sea region. To drive home a wholesome project, the team also encourages interested hotel guests to take part in turtle feeding, learning about turtles and indigenous fishes from the lagoon’s discovery trail and observation island. Children from primary and secondary schools are also given educational tours of the facility. Gerhard Beukes, Director of Aquarium Operations and Animal Husbandry, The Aquarium & Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, The Burj Al Arab Jumeirah expressed, “As a global hospitality brand, our primary business goal is to multiply occupancy rates across our properties, however, we must also have the bandwidth to measure and control the impact that heavy tourist inflow might cause on the neighbouring environment.  Further, we should appoint dedicated teams to design plans for safeguarding the local communities wherein we operate and also collaborate for environmental projects to ensure a healthy ecosystem.Alongside undertaking initiatives, educating and training each staff, employees, stakeholders and even tourists about the pressing issues concerning our sustenance is mandatory. We must also set examples with our result driven activities and encourage others to be environmentally conscious individuals and entities.”In fact, DTRP is not the only project undertaken by Burj Al Arab towards its goal of attaining sustainable tourism. Jumeirah Saadiyet Island resort provides complimentary reusable plastic bottles to all guests, encourages them to refill locally-filtered water and serves water in glass bottles, thereby completely eliminating single-use plastic items. In the era of a global tourism boom, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah has turned over a green leaf and remains committed to being leaders in ecotourism with a focus on reducing its overall carbon footprint, optimising the use of natural resources and sustaining the quality of natural, built and cultural environment.last_img read more

Residential Investment Growth Boosts Q3 GDP

first_img Share Residential Investment Growth Boosts Q3 GDP Led by increases in personal consumption, government spending, and residential investment, the US economy grew at an annual rate of 2.0 percent in the third quarter, the “”Bureau of Economic Analysis””:http://www.bea.gov/ (BEA) reported Friday, faster than economists expected and a strong rebound from the 1.3 percent growth rate in the second quarter. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected an increase of 1.9 percent.[IMAGE]While not an absolutely strong performance–the economy has grown an average of 2.5 percent since 1991–the improvement over the second quarter bolsters arguments that current economic policies are working. That growth is below the longer-term average, though, is a reminder the economy remains weak. Friday’s “”BEA report””:http://bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/2012/pdf/gdp3q12_adv.pdf was an “”advance estimate”” based on incomplete data subject to revision or, in some cases, data that has not yet been reported.The BEA said it used estimates assuming a decrease in nondurable manufacturing inventories, an increase in non-motor-vehicle merchant wholesale and retail inventories, an increase in exports of goods, excluding gold, and an increase in imports of goods, also excluding gold.[COLUMN_BREAK]According to the report, consumer spending contributed $47.8 billion of the overall growth of $67.7 billion, up from the $35.7 billion growth in consumer spending in the second quarter. Government spending added another $22.4 billion in the third quarter, reversing a subtraction of $4.3 billion in the second quarter.Residential fixed investment was accounted for $12.3 billion of the third quarter GDP increase, up from the $7.2 billion contribution in the second quarter.Overall, residential fixed investment was 2.73 percent of GDP in the third quarter, up from 2.65 percent in the second.The 2.0 percent annualized growth rate matches the growth rate in the first quarter and is faster than the 1.3 percent growth in third-quarter 2011.The positive contributions from consumer spending, government spending, and residential investment were offset by downturns in exports and non-residential fixed investment.Personal consumption improved 2.0 percent in the third quarter compared with 1.5 percent in the second quarter and 1.7 percent in the third quarter last year. Government spending grew 9.6 percent in the third quarter, the first quarterly improvement since the second quarter of 2010. Residential fixed investment increased 14.4 percent in the third quarter, up from 8.5 percent growth in the second and 1.4 percent in the third quarter of 2011.Inflation, as tracked through GDP, was 1.5 percent in the third quarter, down from 1.6 percent in the second. Excluding food and energy, inflation was 1.6 percent in the third quarter, down from 1.8 percent in the second. Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bureau of Economic Analysis Bureau of Labor Statistics GDP Investors Service Providers 2012-10-26 Mark Liebermancenter_img in Government, Secondary Market October 26, 2012 451 Views last_img read more

Agencies Announce Mortgage Relief Strategies for Disaster Victims

first_img The GSEs and “”HUD””:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD are rolling out relief strategies for servicers and borrowers caught in the devastation brought on by Hurricane Sandy.[IMAGE]HUD secretary Shaun Donovan announced Wednesday that the department is working to speed up federal disaster assistance to areas in New York and New Jersey following the passage of the storm. The announcement follows a disaster declaration for those states from President Obama.According to a release, HUD is currently contacting state and local officials in New York and New Jersey to discuss opportunities to use its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs to re-allocate federal resources toward disaster recovery efforts. Federally guaranteed loans are being offered for housing rehabilitation and economic development in disaster areas.HUD is also granting a 90-day forbearance on foreclosures of home mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).In addition, HUD reminds homeowners that its Section 203(h) program provides FHA insurance to disaster victims who have lost their homes and have to rebuild or buy another home. Borrowers from participating FHA-approved lenders are eligible for 100 percent financing, including closing costs. The announcement also notes HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program, which enables those who have lost their homes to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage.Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are reaching out to assist borrowers and servicers, as well. In a “”release””:http://freddiemac.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=12329&item=135028, Freddie “”strongly encouraged””:https://themreport.com/articles/freddie-mac-offers-mortgage-relief-to-hurricane-sandy-victims-2012-10-30 servicers to help affected borrowers with Freddie Mac-owned loans by suspending foreclosure and eviction proceedings by up to one year. Servicers are also urged to waive assessments of penalties or late fees against borrowers with damaged homes and to forgo reporting delinquencies caused by the disaster to the nation’s credit bureaus.””Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/about-us/media/corporate-news/2012/5878.html advised the same forbearance for its servicers, who may suspend or reduce a borrower’s payments for up to 90 days in the case of a natural disaster. Since a storm of Sandy’s scale can make it difficult to reach borrowers, servicers may grant this temporary relief even if they cannot reach the homeowner immediately.””We understand the disruption that a storm such as Sandy can have on people’s lives, and we’ve made it easy for our servicers to offer relief to those who need it,”” said Leslie Peeler, senior vice president of Fannie Mae’s National Servicing Organization. “”Servicers are on the front lines with homeowners and we are grateful for their efforts to help borrowers. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have been affected by the storm.”” in Secondary Market, Servicing October 31, 2012 466 Views Agencies Announce Mortgage Relief Strategies for Disaster Victimscenter_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Fannie Mae Freddie Mac HUD Investors Lenders & Servicers Service Providers 2012-10-31 Tory Barringer Sharelast_img read more

Report Originations Up in Q3 Market Opens Up Among Top Lenders

first_img in Origination, Servicing Report: Originations Up in Q3, Market Opens Up Among Top Lenders November 12, 2012 450 Views Mortgage origination was up in the third quarter, and it looks like there’s a little more room at the top, according to a report from “”_Mortgage Daily_””:http://www.mortgagedaily.com/Production111212.asp.[IMAGE]According to mortgage lender ranking data compiled by _Mortgage Daily_, originations in Q3 were up 11 percent from Q2, putting third-quarter production at an estimated $475 billion. The report shows that loans insured by the “”Federal Housing Administration””:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/federal_housing_administration (FHA) made up about 13 percent of originations in Q3, down from the revised 14 percent in Q2.Activity from “”Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/ and “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ was mostly flat between quarters, with the GSEs accounting for about 74 percent of third-quarter activity. That was slightly up from a revised 73 percent in the second quarter.Statistics for the report were obtained through an origination survey conducted by _Mortgage Daily_, filings with the “”Securities and Exchange Commission””:http://www.sec.gov/, and company news announcements. The findings were based on origination data for 29 lenders that accounted for 77 percent of the total estimated market.According to the findings, the market share at the five biggest originators was about 52.5 percent, down from 53.9 percent in the second quarter. The top five lenders– “”Wells Fargo””:https://www.wellsfargo.com/, “”JPMorgan Chase””:http://www.jpmorganchase.com/corporate/Home/home.htm, “”USBank””:https://www.usbank.com/index.html, “”Bank of America””:http://about.bankofamerica.com/en-us/index.html#fbid=RwYHGv9E231, and “”Quicken Loans””:http://www.quickenloans.com/ –maintained their spots, but only BofA and Quicken managed to keep their market shares from declining.PennyMac saw the most growth in mortgage production, posting an 87 percent increase from the second quarter, the report says. Stonegate Mortgage and United Shore Financial Services also reported major improvement, experiencing increases of 76 percent and 62 percent, respectively. Quicken’s volume increased nearly 45 percent quarter-to-quarter, helping it hold its fifth-ranked spot.Fifth Third Bank’s performance was the worst of any lender tracked; the bank’s originations declined 2 percent quarterly.In terms of servicing, Wells Fargo, BofA, Chase, Citi, and USBank made up the top five in terms of portfolio size. However, recent servicing rights acquisitions made by “”Ocwen””:http://www.ocwen.com/, “”Nationstar””:https://www.nationstarmtg.com/, and “”Walter Investment Management””:http://www.walterinvestment.com/ are very likely to change the landscape of the top servicers. Ocwen is poised to move into the top five with its purchase of Homeward Residential Holdings and mortgage assets from Residential Capital LLC, while Nationstar and Walter have indicated in earnings reports that they each have half a trillion dollars in servicing portfolios in upcoming acquisitions.Using historical data from its _U.S. Mortgage Market Index_, _Mortgage Daily_ predicts the final quarter of the year will be little changed from Q3. The index–which reflects pricing inquiries for prospective borrowers–averaged 221 for the three months ending October 26, a date selected to sync with quarterly production by allowing about 60 days of processing time.center_img Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bank of America Citigroup Fannie Mae FHA Freddie Mac Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Servicing Rights Ocwen Service Providers Wells Fargo 2012-11-12 Tory Barringerlast_img read more

Wells Fargo Fannie Mae Announce 591M Settlement

first_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Fannie Mae Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage-Backed Securities Service Providers Wells Fargo 2013-12-30 Tory Barringer Wells Fargo, Fannie Mae Announce $591M Settlement December 30, 2013 453 Views in Secondary Marketcenter_img “”Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html and “”Wells Fargo””:https://www.wellsfargo.com/ have reached an agreement that will close the book on a number of problem legacy loans, both companies announced.[IMAGE]According to the separate announcements, Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $591 million to Fannie Mae to resolve repurchase requests on certain loans originated prior to [COLUMN_BREAK]2009. Adjusting for prior repurchases, the bank will pay $541 million in Q4 2013. In its own statement, Wells Fargo said it had fully accrued for the cost of the agreement as of the end of the third quarter.Though the bank–the nation’s biggest home lender–remains on the hook for certain contractual responsibilities, the agreement “”resolves substantially all repurchase liabilities”” related to the loans covered.For Fannie Mae, the settlement wraps up a year’s worth of effort resolving legacy problems and allows for a fresh start heading into the new year.””We have closed out our legacy repurchase reviews with this agreement with Wells Fargo,”” said Timothy Mayopoulos, president and CEO of Fannie Mae. “”This agreement represents a fitting conclusion to our year of hard work to put legacy issues in the rear view mirror and begin 2014 focused on improving the future of housing finance.”” Sharelast_img read more

2013 ExistingHome Sales Strongest in Seven Years

first_img2013 Existing-Home Sales Strongest in Seven Years Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Existing-Home Sales Home Prices Home Sales Investors Lenders & Servicers National Association of Realtors Service Providers 2014-01-23 Tory Barringer in Data “”Existing-home sales””:http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2014/01/december-existing-home-sales-rise-2013-strongest-in-seven-years finished 2013 with a slight increase, closing the book on the strongest year for sales since 2006, the “”National Association of Realtors””:http://www.realtor.org/ (NAR) reported Thursday.[IMAGE]Total existing-home sales–including all completed transactions of single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops–increased 1.0 percent month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.87 million last month. November’s sales rate was revised down to 4.82 million.December’s sales were down year-over-year, coming up 0.6 percent short of December 2012’s pace of 4.90 million.Removing all other types of sales, sales of existing single-family homes rose 1.9 percent from November to an adjusted annual rate of 4.30 million. Compared to the prior year, single-family sales were down 0.7 percent.For all of last year, NAR estimates there were 5.09 million existing-home sales, a 9.1 percent improvement from 2012.[COLUMN_BREAK]””Existing-home sales have risen nearly 20 percent since 2011, with job growth, record low mortgage interest rates and a large pent-up demand driving the market,”” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “”We lost some momentum toward the end of 2013 from disappointing job growth and limited inventory, but we ended with a year that was close to normal given the size of our population.””While sales were up from November, it wasn’t new homeowners driving the increase: First-time buyers accounted for 27 percent of purchases in December, down from 28 percent in November and 30 percent in December 2012. All-cash sales–often reflective of investor activity–made up 32 percent of December transactions, unchanged from November and up from the previous year.Even with prices and mortgage rates slated to rise, NAR president Steve Brown says sales should hold strong in 2014 as job numbers improve. That doesn’t mean the year won’t be without challenges, though.””The only factors holding us back from a stronger recovery are the ongoing issues of restrictive mortgage credit and constrained inventory,”” Brown said. “”With strict new mortgage rules in place, we will be monitoring the lending environment to ensure that financially qualified buyers can access the credit they need to purchase a home.””The national median existing-home price for all housing types in December was $198,000, up 9.9 percent year-over-year. A comparatively smaller share of distressed sales (14 percent compared with December 2012’s 24 percent) accounted for some of the price growth, NAR reported.The median existing single-family home price was $197,900, up 9.8 percent from the year prior.center_img January 23, 2014 409 Views Sharelast_img read more

Forecast Expects Housing Market Growth to Slow Down for the Rest of

first_img July 3, 2015 622 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Forecast Expects Housing Market Growth to Slow Down for the Rest of 2015 Sharecenter_img Clear Capital Non-Growth Housing Market Real Estate Asset Valuation 2015-07-03 Staff Writer Consumers grow uneasy as the spring season comes to a close and recent gains in the housing market begin to decline. Clear Capital, Inc., a provider of data and solutions for real estate asset valuation and collateral risk assessment, recently released its Home Data Index (HDI) Market Report with data through June 2015 that shows that 2015 will be a non-growth year.In January, the company forecasted total national housing market growth for 2015 to reach 1.3 percent, more than five percent lower than growth for 2014 at 6.7 percent. The adjusted forecast presumes that year-end national growth will come in at 2.6 percent, falling within the projected range of 1 percent to 3 percent.“With a first full look of the spring buying season and six-month update to the forecast, our data through June confirms our initial projection that 2015 would be a non-growth year,” said Alex Villacorta, Ph.D., VP of research and analytics at Clear Capital. “Here we are six months later, and there is very little evidence to change our view that the year will end up with price growth coming in just around the rate of inflation.”The report found that while San Francisco’s and San Jose’s year-end growth rates are expected to remain positive, at 3.4 percent and 3.2 percent, growth for both regions are projected to decline into the negatives at -0.2 percent and -0.4 percent through the second half of 2015. Clear Capital added that this drop raises concern among consumers after the summer buying season and experiencing two years of consecutive, yet unsustainable, gains.“In our June report, we went on record with concern of bubble markets across the U.S. Now San Jose is starting to go the way of San Francisco, at peak levels and now leveling off,” Villacorta said. “Both San Francisco and San Jose have been red hot markets, supported in large part by strong job growth. The latest numbers reveal, however, that both markets have reached their apex in the most recent upward price swing and are projected to take a slight dip into negative territory through the second half of 2015, by -0.2 percent and -0.4 percent. While both markets are projected to have total 2015 yearly growth rates of around 3 percent, entering winter 2015-2016 on the down side is of great concern. What started as ‘red hot’ at the start of 2014 may end as ‘in the red’ come 2016.”Regionally, growth across all regions remains flat, Clear Capital noted. The Midwest saw an increase in quarterly growth, from 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent. The West continues to be the strongest in terms of quarterly price grow at 1 percent and is expected to end 2015 with a 3.3 percent growth rate, reducing disparity between the East and West. Meanwhile, growth in the East is forecasted to come to a halt for the rest of 2015 at 0.1 percent, but it is also projected to end the year at 1 percent.On a national level, the growth levels are about the same, the company says. Data through June looks similar to data through May 2015, with no change in quarterly growth at 0.6 percent and a slight drop in yearly growth from 5.3 percent to 5.2 percent. If spring and summer seasons actually reflect the peak of the housing demand cycle, 0.6 percent quarterly growth likely to come to pass as for how the rest of the year will turn out.Click here to view Clear Capital’s Home Data Index. last_img read more

Construction Vacancies Drop Unemployment Levels Out

first_img New construction could be on the rise as recent data shows construction employment is growing.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, the number of unfilled jobs in the construction sector has declined over the last three months. This spur of construction hiring could be good news for the single-family mortgage market, which has shown a concern for a lack of housing inventory. According to the National Association of Realtors, housing inventory dropped 6.3 percent year-over-year in December.“The overall trend for open construction jobs has been increasing since the end of the Great Recession,” said Robert Dietz in an analysis on the National Association of Homebuilders website. “This is consistent with survey data indicating that access to labor remains a top business challenge for builders. However, a recent increase in hiring has reduced the current level of unfilled jobs in the sector.”In July 2016, 225,000 construction jobs were open, according to the Job Openings survey. As of December 2016, only 148,000 of those jobs remained.The hiring rate for construction jobs jumped to 5.8 percent in December—its best pace since Q1 2015. Additionally, the quitting rate fell for the month, dropping to just 1.8 percent.Overall, construction unemployment rates have leveled off at 7.3 percent. It reached its peak in February 2010, when it hit 22 percent. It has hovered in the 6- to 7-percent range since mid-2016.The remodeling and home building segments of the industry are seeing particular growth; in total, the two saw an increase of 20,300 jobs in January and, over the last year, nearly 130,000 jobs were added to these sectors alone.In the residential construction arena, employment is currently at about 2.6 million—762,000 with builders and 1.921 in specialty trade contractors, according to the BLS survey. The industry has gained just over 700,000 jobs since the Great Recession.To see the full results of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, visit BLS.gov. Housing Construction Residential Housing Market 2017-02-07 Staff Writer Construction Vacancies Drop, Unemployment Levels Out in Data, Headlines, Newscenter_img Share February 7, 2017 478 Views last_img read more

Matic Insurance and Mr Cooper Announce 7M Funding Round

first_imgMatic Insurance and Mr. Cooper Announce $7M Funding Round Matic Insurance Services (Matic), a digital insurance agency whose technology enables borrowers to purchase homeowner’s insurance during themortgage transaction, announced today it has raised $7 million in a Series A funding round, led by Mr. Copper, and leading insurance carriers Nationwide and National General Insurance with support from VC firms Anthemis and ManchesterStory Group.Matic’s technology connects homebuyers with insurance carriers, mortgage lenders and mortgage servicers to make homeowner’s insurance a more integrated part of the home purchase process. The result is a simpler, faster policy selection process that can save borrowers money and reduce loan delays. “Simplifying homeowner’s insurance and bringing policy selection into the home-buying process is a no-brainer — in fact, people often ask us why it’s never been done before,” said Matic Co-founder and CEO Aaron Schiff. “Matic brings to the table an outstanding technical team, a deep understanding of the mortgage business and unprecedented partnerships with insurancecarriers, mortgage lenders and mortgage servicers, some of whom are also our financial supporters. This new funding will support us as we double our team and scale the business to serve our customers in all verticals.”Mr. Cooper’s integration with Matic will make it easier and faster for borrowers to secure a homeowner’s insurance policy when purchasing a home through Mr. Cooper. It will also allow Mr. Cooper to help its mortgage servicing customers lower their monthly payments with a more affordable homeowner’s insurance policy.  The company’s decision to invest in Matic and integrate Matic’s services is part of its new strategy and consumer-centric approach, unveiled in August with the launch of the Mr. Cooper brand name.“Mr. Cooper is pleased to be working with Matic to give our customers access to its innovative digital home insurance platform,” said Tony Ebers, EVP of Originations for Mr. Cooper. “Our investment in Matic will help us provide our customers a modern, easy-to-use shopping experience that could save them money on homeowner’s insurance and make their homeownership journey more rewarding.” in Featured, Headlines, Market Studies, News, Servicing HOUSING matic insurance mortgage Mr Cooper 2017-11-13 Nicole Caspersoncenter_img Share November 13, 2017 626 Views last_img read more

Helping Americas Wounded Veterans

first_img in Headlines, Media, News The Carrington Charitable Foundation’s (CCF) 8th Annual Golf Classic raised over $1.7 million to fund programs that support wounded American Veterans and their families. Over 260 golfers participated in the annual event, which took place in October at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, California.CCF, the nonprofit organization of The Carrington Companies, supports a number of charities that provide mobility, stability, purpose, and prosperity for U.S. servicemen and women returning from post-9/11 battlefields. Since 2011, the CCF Golf Classic has raised more than $17 million, which have helped fund organizations such as The Veterans Airlift Command, the Travis Mills Foundation, The Honor Foundation, and the GallantFew.CCF’s Signature Program, Carrington House, provides custom, adaptive homes for catastrophically injured veterans. To date, Carrington House has built 20 homes for deserving Veterans, each designed to meet the special needs of wounded Veterans and their families. Two more homes are on track for completion in 2018.”Every year, this event inspires so many donors, partners, friends and families to come together to give back to Veterans and their families,” said Rosemary Rose, Chairman, Carrington Charitable Foundation. “It is a privilege to continue to support and expand the CCF programs that help those who sacrificed so much while protecting our freedom.”U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brian Kolfage and his family were among the honored Veterans at this year’s tournament. According to Airman Kolfage, a CCF Ambassador, attending the CCF Golf Classic is always the highlight of the year for his family.”It’s the most important Veterans event we take part in each year, and it raises an incredible amount of funds to help America’s most severely wounded Veterans,” he said. “This event is also about our families. It’s the one time that we can all get together, stress free, and help one another. We’ve grown into a family. We lean on each other, support each other and we know Carrington is always there for us and future wounded Veterans.”The 9th Annual Carrington Charitable Foundation Golf Classic will take place on October 14, 2019, at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, California. Carrington House HOUSING mortgage Rosemary Rose The Carrington Charitable Foundation The Carrington Companies veterans 2018-11-20 Rachel Williams Helping America’s Wounded Veteranscenter_img November 20, 2018 604 Views Sharelast_img read more

David Scowsill president CEO World Travel To

first_imgDavid Scowsill, president & CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC):“The Executive Order issued by US President Trump on 27 January 2017 banning travel to the US from seven countries for 90 days goes directly against the fundamental right of Freedom to Travel. It has created immense confusion among travellers and travel companies worldwide.”WTTC believes that all people have the right to cross international borders safely and efficiently for business and tourism purposes. The blanket suspension of admittance of travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen to the US flies against this principle. Suspending travel based only on a person’s nationality or their origin is wrong.Many travellers have been unnecessarily disrupted, due to the unclear nature of the Executive Order, coupled with a lack of prior consultation and poor communication to airlines and border officials.“If this move by the Trump Administration is designed to ‘prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals’, it is important to point out that the vast majority of terrorist attacks in the recent past have been perpetrated by home grown, radicalised nationals of the country involved. None of the shocking domestic incidents in the US since 2001 have been attributed to external terrorists who have specifically flown into the country to commit an atrocity. Preventing ‘aliens’ from entering the US for legitimate business or leisure purposes is misguided and counter-productive for the American economy.“Travel & Tourism bridges divides between cultures, fosters understanding across religious and geographic boundaries, and generates more peaceful co-existence. Our sector is responsible for the livelihoods of millions worldwide. The US has suffered in the past from similar isolationist policies. We urge the Trump Administration to reconsider this ban.” US Visa banWTTClast_img read more

Scenic has launched its latest agent incentive of

first_imgScenic has launched its latest agent incentive, offering $100 Scenic Rewards points* for any booking on 2019/2020 Europe River cruise product for both Scenic and Evergreen brands. Valid for bookings made and deposited between 1 March 2019 and 30 April 2019.To make a booking login to ExpressbookAgents can join the Scenic Rewards program for free HERE. *T & Cs apply.  EuropeIncentiveSceniclast_img

The 5 Takeaways from the Coyotes introduction of

first_img The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Tuesday, Jan. 13Todd Bowles is scheduled to spend the night in NY with him meeting with the Jets and then fly to Atlanta tomorrow— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 14, 2015 As teams around the NFL continue searching for candidates to fill vacancies in their organization, Cardinals fans wait with bated breath to see where Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles may end up. Bowles has reportedly interviewed with the Bears, the 49ers and the Falcons. But who had the best shot at snagging him?Here are the latest updates on Bowles’ interviews and potential hirers, according to league reporters: Top Stories A source with ESPN also said Bowles’ interview with the Falcons lasted five hours. The report also said Bowles would have current Cardinals quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens in mind for offensive coordinator. McDaniels is staying in New England. #Falcons might not wait for Quinn. Makes Bowles leading candidate at this juncture.— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) January 11, 2015 Comments   Share   Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires This is, of course, pending whether Bowles remains available. The New York Jets reportedly are very interested in Bowles as well. Where do #Jets stand with their coaching candidates: Dan Quinn and Todd Bowles have emerged above the others. May still talk to Gary Kubiak— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 11, 2015 confirmed reports Jets, Falcons want to interview Todd Bowles a 2nd time. per source, he did not have 2nd interview w/49ers.— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) January 12, 2015center_img Jets HC candidate Todd Bowles now having dinner with team brass, per source. Meanwhile, still waiting on GM announcement. #nyj— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) January 13, 2015Cardinals DC Todd Bowles, interviewing for Jets HC today, is scheduled to fly to Atlanta on Weds (if Jets let him out, which they might not)— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 13, 2015Monday, Jan. 12– Bowles set for second interview with Falcons (Atlanta Journal Constitution) Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who’s has moved to the forefront of the Atlanta Falcons’ coaching search, has a second interview with the team scheduled for Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the search.#AZCardinals DC Todd Bowles is leading candidate to get #Falcons HC job, per Atlanta Journal Constitution.— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) January 12, 2015 Sunday, Jan. 11 Quick coaching search update: At this point, #Falcons appear to narrow their search to Todd Bowles and Dan Quinn. D is the focus.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 11, 2015 Rex Ryan, who was also a potential candidate for the spot, will reportedly be the new head coach of the Buffalo Bills.The 49ers will conduct a second interview with Todd Bowles, who remains in play for the Falcons and Bears HC jobs as well— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 11, 2015 Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Wherever he goes, the Cardinals may need to find a new defensive coordinator — and reports say former Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau might be a top candidate. Two immediate thoughts on Dick LeBeau. He and Bruce Arians are tight. Would be a top option if Todd Bowles gets a head coaching job…— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 10, 2015 Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Jets head coach job still comes down to Woody Johnson and if he wants to wait for Dan Quinn. If not, Todd Bowles could be the guy— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 11, 2015last_img read more

Your browser does not support the audio element

first_img Your browser does not support the audio element. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) greets teammate Tyrann Mathieu (32) prior to an NFL preseason football game against the San Diego Chargers, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Comments   Share   Wednesday, SI made their midseason predictions of Bedard now has the Cardinals taking on the Patriots in the Super Bowl.“That mute button on Twitter is a godsend,” Bedard joked about fans’ reactions on the Burns and Gambo show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.“It’s not my favorite thing in the world, actually I hate it,” Bedard said about making those predictions. “It’s a natural instinct to want your predictions to be right which goes against everything you’ve learned in journalism.”Also, the predictions were sort of a whirlwind for Bedard back in August.“I had no idea I picked them to lose ten games in a row,” he said. “I just took like a season grid and went week by week and just said ‘you know’. I took about five seconds, as you can imagine, to pick each game.”It’s not as if Bedard’s picks were unwarranted; The Cardinals QB had missed a majority of the 2014 season with a torn ACL and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles left in the offseason to coach the New York Jets.“Carson at his age coming back from another ACL, the offensive line looked terrible in the preseason,” Bedard said. “The defense had a new coordinator and I just thought may this would be a reset year for the Cardinals but obviously I was way off.” LISTEN: Greg Bedard, Si.com NFL writer Top Stories Every year, hundreds of sports writers make predictions and every year, quite a few end up well, quite a bit embarrassed.One of those writers is Greg Bedard of Sports Illustrated who has changed his tune quite a bit since his rough preseason predictions for the Arizona Cardinals.Back in early September, Bedard predicted every NFL game and he was definitely not high on the Cardinals. The senior NFL writer had the Cardinals going on a 10-game losing streak, finishing 5-11 and at the bottom of the NFC West. Halfway through the Cards are 6-2 and sitting in first place in their division. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Although he was obviously wrong, Bedard said he was at least able to admit it when in came to midseason prediction time.“I’m not going to be a moron and stick to my preseason picks now that we have actual data and Carson Palmer is not hurt,” he said.Now that he has actual game action to go off of, Bedard has a lot he likes about the Cardinals.“They’re pretty healthy,” he said. “That’s unbelievable and if that holds up, that’s the biggest factor to if a team holds up. They are so aggressive in all three phases of the game. They’re relentless, they don’t let opponents breathe.”The Cardinals are currently tied for second place in the NFC and if they want to make it to the Super Bowl like Bedard predicts, they’ll have to go through teams like the Carolina Panthers and the Green Bay Packers. Bedard thinks the latter won’t be a problem for the Cards.“I think defensively, they match up great against the Packers. Right now the Packers can’t get off man coverage and we know the Cardinals will do that. The Packers also have trouble protecting and the Cardinals can dial up some things as far as pressure. Offensively, the Packers have a lot of holes that I know Bruce Arians will exploit.” The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Bedard picked the Patriots as this year’s Super Bowl Champion but thinks Arians and company will definitely look interesting.“A team like the Cardinals, they can match up and Bruce Arians is the type of coach who has the guts to actually say ‘you know what? The Patriots can’t cover anyone in the secondary and we’re going to throttle them all game long.’ Now, I  have my qualms with Bruce as far as some of his game management, but the Cardinals, if they stay healthy they have the talent to match up against anybody.” Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more

GLENDALE Ariz – Head coach Bruce Arians now in

first_img GLENDALE, Ariz. – Head coach Bruce Arians, now in his fourth year with the Arizona Cardinals, meets the media each day during training camp.Here, in this space, we’ll highlight many of the key topics and personnel conversations he has with reporters following the morning walk-through.“Alright, not practicing today Asa Jackson, Elie Bouka, Alan Ball, Alex Okafor who has decided he’s going to play with the bicep (tendon tear); it’s just going to be a matter of pain tolerance before we get him back out there. Gabe Martin, Shaq Riddick, Ed Stinson and Robert Nkemdiche—he’s real close but he’s not quite ready yet. All the rest of the guys are practicing. How much they practice, Tyrann (Mathieu), Justin (Bethel), Frostee (Rucker), we’ll see. (Mike) Iupati, (Earl) Watford, (Antoine) McClain and Brittan Golden are out.” The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Top Stories Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) “Yeah, I mean I’ve seen Drew throw the ball. It’s not every day, and it’s a pattern of sliding up (in the pocket), dropping your shoulder and the ball is going to high. You got to throw the ball to second base, not center field.”How were special teams on Friday?“They got better. Cariel Brooks did a good job. He’s showing up. The kickers did a better job of kicking the football other than that one field goal. Our return units are close. I think Andre (Ellington) is going to do a really good job for us in both roles.” – / 21 Comments   Share   Has ‘Smoke’ (John Brown) been cleared yet?“Yes, ‘Smoke’ is cleared. He’s out there. I didn’t say his name so he’s out there.”How big is it to have Brown back on the practice field?“Really good. Try to get him back in shape, so he doesn’t pull a muscle.”Those three guys just off the physically unable to perform list, how much will they do in practice?“They’ll be in individual periods, and we’ll see how that progresses whether they do anything else.”How far is Bethel from trying to catch up to Brandon Williams?“It’s just a matter of physical ability. He shouldn’t be far behind mentally. He should know the defense inside and out. It’s must a matter of going out there and doing it.”Is Williams progressing the way you want him to?“Yeah, I thought Brandon got really better last week going against different receivers, seeing different things. I thought he held his own all week.”How do you like the outside linebacker depth aside from Okafor and of course Chandler Jones and Markus Golden?“Kareem Martin has had a heck of a camp. He’s doing a great job on special teams. He’s getting a lot of pressures on the quarterback. Tristan (Okpalaugo) and Shaq are getting better.” Where have you seen Martin grow the most as a player?“Kareem has changed his body the last two years from a down lineman. He looks like a linebacker now. Long, lean. He’s using his length much better. His power rush is better, so he’s been able to use his speed more. If you don’t have a power rush, you’re not going to get home. He’s developed a pretty good power rush.”What’s going to be your approach to the offense today?“No different. The game is over. It’s just like we lost the game on Sunday, and it’s a Wednesday practice so that’s all history. We’ll continue to look at our installations and move one.”How much of what you didn’t like on Friday night do you consider easily correctable?“Ninety-five percent.”How is the mood of the team? Is everyone still feeling pretty good?“Nobody is shaken in their confidence in any way. It’s preseason. I think the tendency is ‘woe is me’, but when our starters have played 15 plays—no, 20 plays maybe, that’s not even a good half. We’ve had bad halves before and come back and won games. It’s not a doomsday situation by any stretch of the imagination.”Are Drew Stanton’s issues purely mechanical? Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more

3 Comments  

first_img 3 Comments   Share   Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Oh yeah, he was raking too, taking home the home run derby title.Josh Rosen puts up a 9 spot in home run derby here at the @LarryFitzgerald Celebrity Softball game. Impressive hacks. Those years of tennis paid off. pic.twitter.com/4X4VyBYJWn— Cardinals Fangirl (@cardinalsFGSN) April 28, 2019“It was a lot of fun,” Rosen told ESPN’s Josina Anderson after the game. “Just a lot of good people having a good time, I got to say a bit of a goodbye to the Arizona fans here. So it was really fun.”The fans showed their support for the QB as well, giving Rosen a standing ovation as his name was announced.Josh Rosen gets a huge ovation from tbe crowd here at the @LarryFitzgerald Celebrity Softball game. #AZCardinals pic.twitter.com/RpzQgO5EA2— Cardinals Fangirl (@cardinalsFGSN) April 28, 2019Rosen addressed the fans near home plate.“I just wanted to thank Arizona fans for everything,” Rosen said when asked about his speech to the crowd. “But for the most part, it’s a really awesome night, Larry puts on a really good event.“Larry’s a legend for a reason.”Related LinksJosh Rosen offers Kyler Murray his Old Town apartment, thanks CardinalsCardinals get to work adding undrafted free agents after 2019 NFL DraftCardinals carry heavy Arizona high school football flavorCardinals gave Kliff Kingsbury ammo, didn’t go reaching in 2019 NFL DraftPrior to the softball game, Rosen posted a video thanking fans for their support after being traded to the Dolphins in exchange for a second round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and a 2020 fifth rounder. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retirescenter_img “Cardinals fans, thank you so much for all of the continued support this year,” Rosen said with a backdrop of the Valley in view.“I know we didn’t win as many games as we would have all hoped, but I had an unbelievable time here. Unfortunately my time here is coming to an end, but you guys are really getting a hell of a player in Kyler Murray, and he’s going to do great things for the Red Sea.” (Twitter Photo/@LarryFitzgerald) Before he dons his new Miami Dolphins threads, former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen still had one more jersey to wear in Arizona.A Larry Fitzgerald Celebrity Softball Classic jersey.While no longer a part of the Cardinals franchise, Rosen still made it out to his former teammate’s celebrity softball outing Saturday night.Not only did he still make it a point to attend the classic, Rosen put in work, winning the game’s MVP. Top Stories last_img read more