Challenging times for Florida with travel intent down 15 Allianz Global Assistance

first_img Travelweek Group Tags: Allianz, Florida, Zika Posted by RICHMOND, VA — Florida and specifically Miami are being hit hard by fallout from the Zika virus. An analysis of travellers’ booking intent by Allianz Global Assistance shows the number of Americans planning to travel to Florida over the peak fall/winter season dropped by almost 15% following the discovery of locally-transmitted Zika virus in Miami.On Aug. 1 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel warning for people heading to South Florida after finding that Zika was being spread by mosquitoes in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami-Dade County, and later in a section of Miami Beach.  The warning for Wynwood was recently lifted.Allianz Global Assistance reviewed more than 940,000 Americans’ travel plans made during the month of August for the peak fall/winter vacation season from mid-November 2016 to mid-April 2017 and compared the results with the same period last year. The number of travellers planning to book flights to Miami was down 29.11%, while the state of Florida as a whole was down 14.84%.More news:  AMResorts has a new Sr. Dir. of Cdn. Sales & Consortia Rel’nsExcluding Miami, which has been hardest hit by negative publicity surrounding Zika, the remainder of the state recorded a 12.4% decrease in travelers that intended to book flights during the fall/winter season. Other areas that have recorded locally-transmitted cases of Zika virus also experienced a decrease in booking intent at nearby airports, including Tampa (-32.79%) and Palm Beach (-15.51%). Sharecenter_img Tuesday, September 27, 2016 Challenging times for Florida with travel intent down 15%: Allianz Global Assistance << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Tunisia welcomes first cruise ship since museum attack

first_imgTunisia welcomes first cruise ship since museum attack Share The Canadian Press Tags: Africa & Middle East << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img LA GOULETTE – The first cruise ship has arrived in Tunisia since a deadly Islamic extremist attack on the country’s leading museum last year, a voyage welcomed by singers, dancers and government officials who hope it marks a rebirth of Tunisian tourism.The MS Europa pulled into the port of La Goulette near the capital Thursday carrying 310 passengers, most of them Germans. Extra security was on hand for the arrival, along with Tunisia’s tourism minister, trumpeters and camels.Some 60 foreign tourists were killed in separate extremist attacks last year at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis and a beach resort near Sousse. The attacks devastated Tunisia’s tourism sector as travel agencies pulled out and governments issued travel warnings.Some of the passengers said they made the trip to defy terrorists. Friday, October 7, 2016 Posted bylast_img read more

Transats allinone cruise packages now available from Toronto St Johns

first_img MONTREAL — Transat has just announced that its all-in-one cruise packages in the Caribbean are now available from even more gateways in Canada, giving Canadians a greater chance at catching some sun this winter season.From January to March 2018, these packages will not only be available from Montreal, Quebec City and Rouyn-Noranda (Quebec), but also from Toronto and St. John’s, Newfoundland via Punta Cana.Even more, travellers from Toronto who book a cruise package aboard Costa Pacifica with Transat will receive a $100 onboard credit per person. This offer is valid for all 2018 winter departures, from Jan. 8 to March 26, 2018.Onboard the Pacifica, which offers seven-night Southern Caribbean cruises, passengers will find major upgrades and improvements such as new interactive screens and high-resolution monitors. Two new restaurants will also be added to the five restaurants and 13 bars already onboard: Pummid’Oro Pizzeria and Gelateria Amarillo, both popular in the rest of the Costa fleet.More news:  Hotel charges Bollywood star $8.50 for two bananas and the Internet has thoughtsAll-in-one cruise packages include roundtrip flight with Air Transat, transfers, taxes and added values. Plus, thanks to Flight Protection, clients are sure to get to their port in case of a flight or ship delay.For those wishing to extend their vacation, a hotel stay can be added to their adventure at sea. Clients can move up their departure date or postpone their return by as much as 14 days before or after their cruise, at no extra cost. A wide selection of hotels that can be paired with different cruise itineraries is available in Transat’s brochure. Transat’s all-in-one cruise packages now available from Toronto, St. John’s Posted by Tags: Transat Travelweek Group Monday, December 18, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Hawaii volcano boat tours continue after lava injuries

first_img Share Tags: Hawaii, Volcano Hawaii volcano boat tours continue after lava injuries Tuesday, July 17, 2018 HONOLULU – Hawaii tour boat operators plan to continue taking visitors to see lava, but will follow the Coast Guard’s revised policy and stay farther away after an explosion caused molten rock to barrel through the roof of a vessel, injuring 23 people.The Coast Guard prohibits vessels from getting closer than 984 feet (300 metres) from where Kilauea volcano’s lava oozes into the sea. The agency had been allowing experienced boat operators to apply for a special license to get closer up to 164 feet (50 metres), but it stopped allowing those exceptions Monday morning.A woman in her 20s was transported to Honolulu in serious condition with a broken thigh bone. The other 22 people injured were treated for minor burns and scrapes, including 12 who were treated at a hospital in Hilo.Moku Nui Lava Tours Captain Kanoa Jones, whose boat was not involved in Monday’s incident at Kilauea volcano, said not running the tours would only withhold income from local restaurants and other businesses dependent on tourism, he said.“If we stop operating, it not only hurts us, it hurts the community,” Jones said.The Coast Guard, state and local officials were investigating what happened.Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West said the agency can’t say whether it will change its safety zone rules until it finishes its investigation.More news:  Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksThe county strictly limits access to the lava on land for safety reasons, making boat and helicopter tours the only options people have to witness volcanic spectacle in person. The ocean and aerial tours each cost about $250.The restrictions have deterred many travellers from visiting the Big Island in general, and Puna near the volcano in particular.Shane Turpin, the owner and captain of the vessel that was hit, said he never saw the explosion.He and his tour group had been in the area for about 20 minutes making passes of the ocean entry about 500 yards – which is the length of five football fields – offshore, Turpin said.He didn’t observe “any major explosions,” so he navigated his vessel closer, to about 250 yards (228 metres) away from the lava.“As we were exiting the zone, all of a sudden everything around us exploded,” he said. “It was everywhere.”The U.S. Geological Survey says explosions of varying sizes occur whenever 2,000-degree (1,093-degree Celsius) lava enters much colder seawater.Monday’s large blast may have been amplified by the relatively shallow water at the point where the lava entered the sea. That’s because explosions occur much closer to the surface in such spots.In contrast, lava that entered the ocean in 2016 hit a steep slope and quickly fell to deeper parts of the sea, said Janet Babb, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.More news:  Windstar celebrates record-breaking bookings in JulyThe volcano has also been pumping more lava into the water now compared to past years, Babb said. Kilauea is sending to the sea as much as 26 times the amount of lava per second than it did during the 2016-17 eruption.Officials have warned of the danger of getting close to lava entering the ocean, saying the interaction can create clouds of acid and fine glass. Despite the hazards, several companies operate such tours. The Coast Guard said tour vessels have operated in the area going back at least 20 years.The molten rock is coming from the Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting continuously for the past 35 years. In May, its eruption entered a new phase when it began spurting lava through newly formed fissures in a residential neighbourhood. It has destroyed more than 700 homes since then. But the only serious injury over the past two months was to a man who was hit by flying lava that broke his leg.Captain Jones said an evening boat tour left for the ocean-entry site and it was business as usual.“It is Mother Nature,” Jones said. “You never know.” By: The Associated Press << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Passenger asked for water on a budget airline but was served this

first_img Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Passenger asked for water on a budget airline but was served this instead Posted by Sharecenter_img Tags: Scoot Monday, November 26, 2018 SINGAPORE — Waiting for a cup of water on a budget airline is like watching ice melt. Literally.For Gene Goh, a passenger on Singapore-based Scoot airline, this is exactly what happened while on a flight from Singapore to Osaka on Nov. 16. After the flight was delayed upon takeoff, he asked a flight attendant for a “plain cup of water” but was told only bottled water was available for purchase.What happened next seems almost too outrageous to be true.“I was given a cup of ice and was told to wait for the ice to melt,” he wrote on Facebook.Goh added: “All I am asking is just a cup of water, I wouldn’t care if it was from the tap. I hope there could be some sort of care for passengers, not being unreasonable over here.”Surprisingly, most people responded to his post with criticism, not only accusing Goh of being ungrateful, but also cheap and high maintenance.More news:  Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish StepsNaoko Tsukumo wrote: “Truth hurts but the truth is that you are being unreasonable. Take it as a lesson well learnt – well at least you now know that tap water from the plane is not for human consumption. That could save your life on your second flight, kid.”Another Facebook user, Chua Yi Hao, wrote: “I actually felt that it was a kind gesture of the staff to give you a cup of ice. It is your OWN problem when you did not prepared [sic] a bottle of water for YOURSELF.”Rai Nud Din thought Goh should be thanking Scoot instead of complaining: “You’re lucky to get a cup of ice…and it’s free! Be thankful.”CK Wong practically outed Goh as spoiled: “Maybe u should stay at home and dun [sic] travel…Let ur mom serve u.”And Christopher Kueh added: “Can afford a flight ticket to Japan but can’t afford water.”But not everyone criticized Goh. Anthony De B came to his defense, writing: “I find it funny that everyone here is indoctrinated into thinking that water should not be given free of charge and that this man is being cheap. You have all been brainwashed fools.”last_img read more

Arenal Report

first_imgThe November meeting of the Arenal Gardeners, held atJeff and Allison Spencer’s home, provided a comprehensive seminar on the Black Gold of organic fertilizers- namely, worm castings (you know, poo). Jeff demonstrated the proper construction and maintenance of a worm farm. He also provided a syllabus describing the multiple applications and benefits of worm castings as an all-around non-toxic fertilizer that is safe to use on vegetable gardens and around pets and children (should they ingest it by accident). Diluted with water, it may be applied directly to plants as a foliar or used in solid form for planting seeds.As expected, worms go forth and multiply, so as the population of your worm farm increases, consider giving some to friends. They make excellent Christmas gifts, especially when accompanied by Xiphong Lee’s Taiwanese cookbook titled (roughly translated) “Worms, the Heavenly Happy Food.” Note: There will be a special event at Patricia Brennis’s home on Dec. 17. Contact Victoria Torley at 8718-0480 for details.Kudos to Gloria Dempsey for organizing a successful spay/neuter clinic Nov. 30. The new venue at John and Meilin’s home in Nuevo Arenal proved far more comfortable in all respects than the local bullring. It was a long day for veterinarian Dr. Mario and his assistant Carlos, who performed 17 spays and one neutering. Many thanks to volunteers Dawn Toley, Mickey Walters (and daughter), Denice and Rob Key, and Myrna Kastner for their tireless work getting animals ready for surgery and during the recovery. Thanks to Gloria Dempsey for her help in writing this report.–William & Jean Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Costa Rica records lowest poverty figures in seven years

first_imgCosta Rica reduce la pobreza y alcanza índice más bajo en los últimos 7 años. Fuente: INEC— Luis Guillermo Solís (@luisguillermosr) October 26, 2016 The Costa Rican Union of Private Sector Chambers and Associations said they agree with results of the survey.Chamber President Franco Pacheco said in a statement that the positive data from INEC’s research are a direct result of coordinated work by government agencies, which has provided continuous support to education and promoted the creation of new jobs.He noted, however, that in order to create new jobs in the private sector, the government needs to “further improve the business climate to attract investment, both domestic and foreign, and also improve efficiency in public spending.”MethodologyINEC’s research determined the poverty threshold using values measured by two different indices: the poverty line index and the multi-dimensional poverty index.The first one evaluates the relation between a household’s income and the cost of a set of basic goods, or canasta básica, established by the Economy Ministry.The multi-dimensional poverty index takes into account 19 indicators distributed in five areas: education, housing, health, employment and access to social protection.Evaluations from both indices resulted in Costa Rica’s poverty levels going down by 1.2 percent. Facebook Comments Related posts:Dollar exchange rate reaches highest price in seven years Dollar exchange rate down following Central Bank’s intervention announcement Costa Rica drops two spots in global competitiveness ranking Government tables draft bills aimed at approving fiscal reformscenter_img An increase in the average income of the population reduced poverty levels by 1.2 percent in Costa Rica. That is one of the main findings of the 2016 National Household Survey conducted by the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC).INEC released survey results on Wednesday that showed 20.5 percent of Tico households live in poverty.The figure represents an improvement from last year, when the survey found 21.7 percent of people were poor. It also is the lowest poverty figure recorded in the past seven years, INEC reported.The change translates to 10,390 families who are no longer considered poor, raising the number of Costa Rican families above the poverty line from 307,270 households in last year’s survey to 317,660 this year.Survey coordinator Annia Chaves said during the presentation of the results that INEC found an increased income, particularly among families living in rural areas. The average household income rose 2.4 percent in urban areas and 3.6 percent in rural areas.INEC investigators attribute the decrease in poverty to two variables: a reduction in the country’s inflation rates and benefits granted by government subsidies.Chaves said the increase is directly linked to government subsidies that increased by 14 percent and to income received from other sources such as remittances and pensions.Among the total number of poor households, some 95,000 live in extreme poverty: 6.3 percent of the country’s households live, down from the 7.2 percent found in the 2015 report. The number of households in extreme poverty fell for the first time since 2010.Income gapINEC reported that the country’s high income inequality figures are virtually the same as those recorded in 2015.The 20 percent of households with the highest income have a cumulative income share of 50.7 percent. The average monthly income in these households is ₡2,600,000 (approximately $4,650).By contrast, the 20 percent of households with the lowest earnings represent only 3.9 percent of the income share, and an average monthly income of ₡201,500 ($360).This means that the average income for the wealthiest households in Costa Rica is almost 13 times higher than that from households with the lowest income levels.ReactionsPresident Luis Guillermo Solís attributed the decline in poverty levels found by INEC to the efforts of his administration as well as aid programs launched by public agencies during his term.Following the release of the survey results, Solís posted a series of messages on his social media profiles highlighting facts and figures from the research.Among others, Solís said that his administration so far has allocated ₡33 billion ($58 million) to the “Bridge to Development” aid program in assistance to poor families.last_img read more

After record opium year Afghans plant new crop

first_imgIn an interview in Kabul, a frustrated Lemahieu said the international community spent billions of dollars of development money on roads and irrigation projects without getting Afghans to stop growing poppies.They were more interested in winning “hearts and minds,” he said. As a result, they were effectively saying, “Love us. We are your protectors here. We are here to help you, and at the same time you plant your opium and I will look in the other direction,” said Lemahieu.Afghanistan’s deputy counter-narcotics minister, Haroon Rashid Sherzad, said neither the government nor the international community has addressed the poverty and lack of services that he called the “root causes” of the relentless poppy production. He also said consumer nations have to take some responsibility rather “than always blaming Afghanistan.”Moreover, U.S. and NATO troops partnered with Afghan security contractors and government officials who were involved in the drug trade, said Lemahieu.“Everybody who is powerful” benefits from the opium industry, he said. “They can be found on (both) sides of the equation, be they insurgents or the local powerbrokers sitting within Parliament, sitting within district councils or sitting within provincial councils.” New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “Go. Go. Now,” he said. The AP team left the area.The poppy planting season in Afghanistan began last month and lasts until the end of November. Last season, which ended with the May harvest, brought a number of grim milestones: Not only was production the highest level ever, more land than ever before was cultivated with poppies _ some 209,000 hectares (516,000 acres), 36 percent more than the previous season, according to the 2013 drug survey by the U.N. Office of Drug and Crime. The amount of poppy crop eradicated by authorities went down 24 percent, to 7,348 hectares (18,000 acres).Cultivation spread to two provinces that had been declared poppy-free. The vast majority of cultivation _ 89 percent _ took place in nine provinces that are among the most insecure areas in the country, the report said. The biggest producers are Helmand province, where the Taliban insurgency is strong, and Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban.That is bad news for Afghanistan, which has a burgeoning addiction problem, and for Europe, the main recipient of Afghanistan’s harvest, said Jean- Luc Lemahieu, the UNODC’s regional representative in Kabul.More than 1 million Afghans are addicts, living in squalor in its cities. In the capital Kabul they sleep on the street, in a garbage-filled dried river bed reeking of human waste. The U.N. report said Afghanistan has increased its services to treat addicts, but caregivers say they are overwhelmed. Fifteen percent of the 1 million addicts are women, often drawn in by an addicted husband, or children, who are sometimes sent by their parents to find opium to feed their habit and in turn become addicts. CHAM KALAI, Afghanistan (AP) – The seeds flew from his hands into the soil. Wrapped in a woolen shawl against the cold, Khan Bacha sowed his fields with the only crop he says brings him enough money to pay his bills and feed his family: Poppies.Afghanistan’s farmers are rushing to replant their fields with the base ingredient of opium after the country reaped its biggest poppy harvest ever last May. That harvest produced a staggering 5,500 metric tons (6,000 tons) of opium, 49 percent higher than the previous year and more than the combined output of the rest of the world, according to a report issued Wednesday by the United Nations’ drug control agency. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober His neighbor, Waliullah, is also busily sowing his meager piece of land with poppies.“Our children are planting poppies,” he said. “Even my wife and my mother are planting so we can finish by the end of the month,” he added, pointing to two women hidden in all-enveloping burqas in a nearby field.Waliullah, who like some Afghans goes by only one name, says his land’s earnings have to feed his extended family of 17 people. “What happened to all the international money? We have no electricity,” he said.Bacha said local residents don’t worry about a resurgence of Taliban.“Nobody cares about tomorrow,” he said. “Everyone only cares about today.”_____Kathy Gannon is AP Special Regional Correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan and can be followed at reporters Mir Wais in Kandahar and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Bacha, the farmer, said the Taliban make their money by charging farmers a “religious tax” of one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of opium for every 10 kilograms (22 pounds) produced _ though the price is “negotiable.”“They say we are going for jihad,” he said. “It is the money we give for God.”Ironically, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar successfully banned poppy planting in 2000 when the group ruled Afghanistan, according to the UN at the time. Poppy production went from more than 4,000 tons to barely a few pounds, the UN said.When the Taliban were ousted in December 2001, farmers ripped up their wheat _ which they said often rotted in the field because there were so few roads to get it to market _ and planted poppies.“Mullah Omar’s decree was a decree but (Afghan President) Hamid Karzai’s decrees are nothing,” said Bacha. Now, he says there’s no danger of the government destroying poppy crops so “the farmers are relaxed.”Like last season, Bacha is planting his entire small plot of land with poppies. Last season, he earned around $1,200 _ well above the country’s average income of around $800 a year. Top holiday drink recipes 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Sponsored Stories Bacha’s village, Cham Kalai, is in the eastern province of Nangarhar, which saw a dramatic five-fold increase in the area planted with poppies from 2012-2013, the country’s biggest increase. The province also illustrates all the factors fueling the increase and thwarting efforts by Afghan officials and their U.S. allies to eradicate the crop. Poverty is widespread, making the lucrative poppy crop a draw. Instability is high, making any attempt to control planting impossible.In Bacha’s village of traditional sun-baked mud houses, there’s no electricity, no running water. There isn’t a health clinic for miles. Schools for girls are shunned as against Islam.“People are poor, families are big. Wheat is no good,” Bacha said. “The only thing that is good is poppies. They are gold.”The area is also a stronghold for Taliban insurgents. Talk of security in the area just makes Bacha smile. Squatting on the edge of his small plot of land, he gestures off in the distance where he said that just the night before the Taliban fought a fierce battle with Afghan troops backed by “foreign soldiers” _ his reference to NATO troops.Soon after the Associated Press arrived in Cham Kalai earlier this week, climbing down to the fields across a narrow stream, the whispering among the village children began _ “Taliban, Taliban,” signaling that fighters were nearby. At first, Bacha looked worried but did not flinch. Then the whispers became louder. Bacha’s glances toward the nearby ridges seemed to pick up something, and his worry turned to panic.last_img read more

Report World Jewish population nears preHolocaust level

first_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The report said the rise has been due in part to natural growth, mainly in Israel, which has about 6.1 million Jews and one of the Western world’s highest fertility rates.But it also linked the growth to “changing patterns of Jewish identification.” It said that 59 percent of adult children in the U.S. who have just one Jewish parent now identify as Jewish, a majority “for the first time in memory.”Avinoam Bar-Yosef, the institute’s president, said more of those Jews were probably identifying as Jewish because it is more “respectable” to be Jewish in the U.S. than it was years ago. He also said Birthright-Israel, which organizes educational trips to Israel for young Jewish people, is likely having an impact.The tally combines the number of Jews worldwide, but it also includes at least one million secular Jews who are less likely to be connected to Jewish life or institutions. And it includes some 350,000 Israelis who emigrated from the former Soviet Union and are not considered Jewish in Israel. The Pew Research Center, whose count only includes Jews who self-identify as Jewish, projects that Jews will reach 16 million by 2050.The United States has the world’s second largest Jewish population, at 5.7 million. France is a distant third with about 475,000 Jews, followed by Canada. The report, which was presented to the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday, dubs itself an “annual stocktaking of the Jewish world.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. JERUSALEM (AP) — The world’s Jewish population has grown to be nearly as large as it was before the Holocaust, an Israeli think tank said in its annual report Sunday.The Jewish People Policy Institute said there are currently 14.2 million Jews in the world. When factoring in individuals with one Jewish parent and others who identify as partially Jewish, the figure approaches 16.5 million — the Jewish population on the eve of World War II. The Nazis and their collaborators killed about 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. Top Stories Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Sponsored Stories The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

Ecofriendly pope to encourage likeminded mayors at Vatican

first_imgPope Francis delivers a blessing during the Angelus noon prayer he delivered from his studio’s window, in St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, July 19, 2015. Speaking from his studio window, Francis told the crowd Sunday in St. Peter’s Square: “I see you are courageous with this heat in the square. A tip of the hat to you!” Many faithful used sun umbrellas. Temperatures in Rome this week could hit 38-39C (100-102F). Sizzling heat and oppressive humidity have gripped Italy this month, with some nights in Rome seeing “low” temperatures hovering near 30C (86F). (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Other mayors hail from the developing world: Libreville, Gabon; Siquirres, Costa Rica and Kochi, India.Experts have long said that cities are key to reducing global warming since urban areas account for nearly three-quarters of human emissions. Mayors are also on the front lines in responding to the effects of climate change — especially when seawater enters coastal cities’ freshwater systems or when floods hit as a result of global warming-induced severe weather.“They can’t afford the luxury of a false debate over whether the problem is real,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has been active for decades in international climate negotiations. “They’re dealing with the consequences already.”In his sweeping manifesto last month, Francis blamed global warming on an unfair, fossil-fuel-based industrial economic model that harms the poor the most. Many conservatives have rejected or dismissed the encyclical as flawed and irresponsible: Even the pope’s financial czar, Cardinal George Pell, a perceived climate skeptic, has said the church has no business pronouncing on matters of science.But the Vatican has pressed ahead to create a broad coalition to promote the message, part of Francis’ belief that grass-roots movements and non-traditional players are key to changing the global system. The conference is also addressing another of Francis’ priorities: human trafficking. Organizers say climate issues and trafficking both involve the exploitation of the Earth and its people, with the poor hit the hardest.The mayors are expected to sign a declaration addressing both issues and hear a pep talk from the pope himself.___Follow Nicole Winfield at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall It’s the latest — and perhaps most important — Vatican initiative to keep the momentum alive after Francis released his landmark environment encyclical and as governments head into crucial climate negotiations in Paris in December.Already, the Vatican has engaged Nobel science laureates, global faith leaders, the U.N. leadership, eco-friendly businesses and even the self-described “secular Jewish feminist” and environmental advocate Naomi Klein to promote Francis’ message that caring for the Earth — and humanity — is an urgent moral imperative.Now, the pope is turning to mayors, some 60 of whom signed up to attend the two-day meeting at the Vatican. Several belong to the new Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, whose members have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050 or sooner.Attending is Gov. Jerry Brown of California, which has enacted the toughest greenhouse gas emissions standards in North America, as well as the mayors of New York City, Boston, Oslo, Vancouver and Boulder, Colorado.Also represented is San Francisco, which has banned plastic bags and Styrofoam; Stockholm, which has the highest percentage of clean vehicles in Europe; and Berlin, which cut its emissions by 29 percent in the past 25 years. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation VATICAN CITY (AP) — One city banned Styrofoam. Another has the highest percentage of “clean” cars in Europe. Still another has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent since 1990 — while its GDP grew 19 percent.Dozens of environmentally friendly mayors from around the world are meeting at the Vatican Tuesday to bask in the star power of eco-Pope Francis and commit to reducing global warming and helping the urban poor deal with its effects. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Sponsored Stories last_img read more

NZ economy to benefit from new regional air services

first_imgJetstar has launched the first of its five new regional air services in New Zealand, much to the delight of the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA).TIA chief executive Chris Roberts says the additional services will provide more options for both domestic and international travellers to the country.“Jetstar has signalled that the initial five regional routes will build a strong base for considering more regional destinations,” Mr Roberts said.“We support their approach of building up a sustainable network that will encourage visitors to get off the beaten track and see more of New Zealand.”Services between Napier-Auckland and Nelson-Auckland have begun, with a further three regional routes – Palmerston North-Auckland, New Plymouth-Auckland and Nelson-Wellington – to commence 1 February 2016.Local economies in the regions served by the new Jetstar services will benefit as visitors spend their money in local shops, markets, restaurants and bars.As a result, the boost to local economies will mean jobs are created both directly in tourism and indirectly in sectors that service the visitor industry.It was identified in TIA’s Tourism 2025 framework that air connectivity and regional dispersal are both crucial to achieving the industry’s goal of NZD$41 billion annual revenue by 2025.Mr Roberts says tourism operators and their communities will need to collectively support Jetstar’s new routes to ensure their sustainability.“We applaud Jetstar and the Qantas Group for showing a serious and long term commitment to New Zealand and our tourism industry,” Mr Roberts said.The new services will provide a strong regional distribution option for international visitors flying Qantas as well as Emirates, China Eastern, China Southern, American Airlines and their other partners.Learn more about the new regional services here and in the video below: TIA New ZealandSource = ETB Travel News: Brittney Levinsonlast_img read more

More than a hole in one

first_img Personal Travel Managerbecome a PTM by clicking here Royal Caribbean International’s Nicole Stojic, Inside Sales Co-Ordinator welcomes golfers at the fourth holeMore than a hole in oneTravelManagers’ personal travel manager Annalize Troost, representative for West Pennant Hills and CLIA Cruise Master recently combined her love of golf and travel, by sponsoring a hole at the 2016 GoldKey Financial ALPG Pennant Hills PRO-AM.The PRO-AM is a very prestigious event that attracts over 300 local and international professional players as well as amateur golfers and caddies together with a couple of hundred spectators.Having joined TravelManagers in October 2015, it was Troost’s desire to promote awareness that she is now a personal travel manager that inspired her decision to undertake a golf day sponsorship.“As an active member of the Pennant Hills Golf Club for over ten years, it seemed a logical place to start building my client database. It’s a very community driven club and members try to support each other. I saw this as an opportunity to explain the benefits and expertise I can provide clients as a personal travel manager and the event provided an occasion to reconnect with the golfing community and also to meet members of the wider public,” she says.All smiles as David Cunneen (left) wins the grand prize of a Royal Caribbean Cruise with personal travel manager Annalize Troost and TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager Michael GazalTroost enlisted the support of Royal Caribbean International who co-promoted a stand with TravelManagers on the fourth hole. Royal Caribbean International ‘s Nicole Stojic, Inside Sales Coordinator and Key Account Manager Mark Rheinbay were at the two-day golf event.“I offered a variety of worldwide special travel promotions and Royal Caribbean handed out product brochures. Nicole and Mark were extremely supportive of my sponsorship initiative and golfers were extremely interested to learn more about cruising. I certainly valued their commitment and wouldn’t have attempted this event without them.”Troost also received on the ground support from her state based business partnership manager Julie Anderson and TravelManagers national partnership manager Suzanne Laister.Part of the sponsorship agreement allowed for four teams to enter into the PRO-AM tournament. Three teams each consisted of three of Troost’s clients and an accompanying golf pro with the fourth team comprised of TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager Michael Gazal, President of the Pennant Hills Golf Club Alan Watson, Ron Hutt, another of Troost’s clients and the golf pro Mirim Nagl from Germany.Troost views her presence at the golfing tournament as a valuable experience in marketing.“I have added 260 new subscribers to my eNewsletter and obtained numerous new business contacts. I have created a special golf database with communication being sent to everybody who completed a competition entry form. I have already secured a group booking for 2017 and received several enquiries from potential new clients. All of this from my first sponsorship event, I couldn’t be happier.”A golf day is hard work! Taking a break (from left to right) is TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager Michael Gazal, personal travel manager Annalize Troost, Suzanne Laister TravelManagers’ national partnership manager and business partnership manager Julie Anderson.Gazal congratulates Troost’s ability to find a way to connect with people at a grass roots level.“We applaud Annalize thinking outside the square and taking the opportunity to immerse herself within her local community. It’s this level of innovation and forward thinking that makes TravelManagers’ personal travel managers stand out from the rest and the results speak for themselves.”Troost also received marketing exposure by providing two travel prizes on the day.“The major prize was a cruise for two in a Balcony Cabin on the Royal Caribbean ‘Explorer of the Seas’. Second prize was a $200 discount cruise voucher. The format was a competition draw – not based on golf score or ability, so everybody had a fair and equal chance of winning.”The Golf PRO AM event was just the start of Troost’s networking opportunities. Through members association, Troost also provided sponsorship to the ten-year anniversary MonSTaR Gala Event held on 18 March following the annual MonSTaR Cup charity golf event held at Pennant Hills.“The winner of the second prize being a $200 discount cruise voucher was won by Mark Golding who runs the charity golf day to raise funds and awareness for supporting sufferers of Motor Neurone Disease. This is the value of networking, opportunities will come,” says Troost.With Troost’s first sponsorship and marketing experience being such a resounding success, it will come as no surprise she is planning to participate again next year.“It was such a great day, meeting new and old friends. The fact they are now my clients definitely is the icing on the cake. I can’t wait to be part of the Golf PRO AM again next year,” she says with a smile.For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599.About TravelManagers TravelManagers operates in all Australian States and is a wholly owned subsidiary of House of Travel, Australasia’s largest independent travel company which has a forecast turnover of $1.5 billion for 2015. TravelManagers is a sister company to Hoot Holidays, also owned by House of Travel, and has more than 490 personal travel managers throughout Australia with a dedicated support team at the company’s national partnership office in Sydney. TravelManagers places all customer money in a dedicated and audited Client Trust Account which is separate from the general business accounts, ensuring client funds are only used for client purchases. Source = TravelManagers Australialast_img read more

roomsXML Presents The Address and Rove Hotels Dubai

first_img roomsXML.comconnect today roomsXML.comdiscover more here Source = roomsXML Presents: The Address, and Rove Hotels Dubai roomsXML has over 96,000 properties worldwide . If you are unsure about which property to book, always check for the ‘Preferred’ logo next to the hotel; that means its been recommended by other Travel Agents.center_img In response to agent demand, roomsXML has just secured ultra competitive rates for The Address’ (5 properties) , and ‘Rove Hotels’ (4 properties) in Dubai.In addition, roomsXML has over 480 hotels across Al Barsha, Downtown, Jumeirah, DXB Airport and more. Properties and resorts ranging from 4 to 5 stars are available at super competitive prices, and with roomsXML’s 5 Star agent support, you cant go wrongIf you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to offer your clients, log in to roomsXML and book today !last_img read more

Solomon Islands record a 156 jump in tourist arrivals

first_imgThe visitor arrivals recorded by the Solomon Islands Tourism for April 2015, have jumped by a massive 15.6%. Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau (SIVB) CEO, Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto was delighted with the fantastic news, just days before the country’s tourism industry joins together at the Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel for the much awaited 2015 Our Telekom National Tourism Forum.“This amazing result is indicative of the strategic approach the SIVB with government, national airline and local industry support has taken in recent months is beginning to move in the right direction…We must continue to remember that key to everything we do, there will always is an ongoing need to take long hard looks at what we have achieved and examine how we can continue to improve on those achievements,” Tuamoto said.Australia remains the country’s important source of foreign arrivals with Fiji at the second place followed by New Zealand and Papua New Guinea at the third and fourth respectively.More than 200 industry delegates are expected to attend the ‘Managing Change and Creating a Million Tourism Opportunities’ – themed Our Telekom National Tourism Forum, which will feature an impressive line-up of keynote speakers from the government, local and overseas tourism industry and the corporate sector.last_img read more

CityPASS launches New York C3 offering customised vacation experience

first_imgCityPASS recently announced the debut of New York C3, a mobile pass concept that allows a more customised approach to vacation planning. The New York C3 mobile pass allows users to select any three attractions from a curated list of 10 must-see New York City sights.Available for purchase only through, it’s a mobile pass that travellers carry on their smartphones. The visitor then uses that barcode to visit three top Big Apple attractions.Megan Allen, President and CEO, CityPASS, said, “C3 is ideal for shorter-stay visitors who don’t have time to squeeze in all of New York City’s top spots, as well as repeat visitors who have experienced New York before and have a shorter list of must-see attractions and travellers who want a customised vacation experience.”last_img read more

Mortgage Rates Fall to New Record Lows as Greece Titters

first_imgMortgage Rates Fall to New Record Lows as Greece Titters in Government, Origination, Servicing Share Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Debt Crisis Euro European Union Fixed-Rate Mortgage Freddie Mac Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Applications Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Rates Politics Processing Service Providers Treasury Yields 2012-05-17 Ryan Schuettecenter_img Interest rates for mortgage loans saw new, all-time lows this week as investors fled debt crises in Europe.[IMAGE]””Freddie Mac””: found the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage sliding to 3.79 percent, down from 3.83 percent last week and a far cry from 4.61 percent last year. The 15-year loan fell from 3.05 percent to 3.04 percent.Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) went up. The 5-year variable loan averaged 2.83 percent this week, a few percentage points up from 2.81 percent, while the 1-year climbed to 2.78 percent.””The European debt crisis overshadowed improving economic indicators for the U.S. and allowed Treasury bond yields and fixed mortgage rates to ease for another week,”” “”Frank Nothaft””:, chief economist for Freddie, said in a statement.He cited a gain for industrial production by 1.1 percent in April, the largest such since December 2010, and a rise for consumer sentiment since January 2008, according to the University of Michigan.[COLUMN_BREAK]Even so, analysts suggest that ongoing crises of debt and confidence in Europe could tilt the U.S. economy back toward danger by slashing jobs in the exports industry and exposing systemically important financial institutions to a credit crunch. A combination of low economic growth and high public debt led to ousters in recent elections across Europe, driving down the worth of the euro and damaging investor confidence in the European Union. Newly elected French President Francois Hollande unseated incumbent Nicholas Sarkozy.An antiestablishment mood in Greece also propelled leftist parties like the Coalition of the Radical Left to power last week, ousting more independent political parties and further soiling interest in tough austerity measures from Germany.The uncertainty in Greece largely pushed investors back to the safe haven of U.S. Treasury debt, driving down yields along with mortgage rates.””The ongoing European debt crisis is producing another flight to quality, where investors gravitate to safe-haven investments such as U.S. Treasuries,”” says “”Greg McBride””:, a senior financial analyst with “”””: “”As long as uncertainty prevails, mortgage rates are likely to remain at these ultra-low levels.””The finance Web site likewise saw new record lows for mortgage rates, with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropping below 4 percent for the first time by arriving at 3.97 percent. The average 15-year loan stayed unchanged at 3.2 percent.Five-year ARMs went up to 3 percent, while 1-year variable loans fell to 3.11 percent.With mortgage rates largely falling this week, mortgage applications rose, according to the “”Mortgage Bankers Association””:, which recorded a 9.2 percent increase last week. May 17, 2012 514 Views last_img read more

Industry Reps Call for Preservation of Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction

first_img As Washington engages in a standoff over budgetary proposals to avert the fiscal cliff, several industry professionals and associations are calling upon lawmakers to avoid slaughtering what was once thought to be a sacred cow: the mortgage interest tax deduction (MID).[IMAGE]Introduced in 1913, the MID allows homeowners to deduct mortgage interest attributable to primary residence and second-home debt totaling $1 million and interest paid on home equity debt up to $100,000. While many housing professionals view the deduction as a break for homeowners and an incentive for others to purchase their own homes, critics call the MID a “”subsidization of the real estate industry.””Now that the MID is on the bargaining table, a number of people are speaking up in defense of it.In an open letter issued to media outlets around the state, “”California Association of Realtors””: (C.A.R.) president Don Faught argues the deduction “”makes a substantial difference for lower- and middle-income families”” and estimates removing the deduction would cost the average California taxpayer $3,940 annually. In addition, Faught says nearly 700,000 households in the state would no longer be able to afford to buy a median-priced home.The association also argues against reducing the limit to $500,000 for a primary residence and eliminating it entirely for second homes, saying “”any attempts to reduce the mortgage interest deduction would not only have deleterious effects on homeownership, but also be tantamount to taking the first step toward wholesale elimination of this long-standing deduction.””[COLUMN_BREAK]In its argument, C.A.R. cites a recent survey finding that mortgage interest and property tax deductions are “”extremely important”” factors for 79 percent of homebuyers when they’re making their decision to purchase a home.””The mortgage interest deduction plays an important role in buyers’ monthly budgeting. Without this tax advantage, housing affordability would be negatively impacted and potentially price out many would-be buyers,”” Faught said.Rick Sharga, EVP of “”Carrington Mortgage Holdings, LLC””:, echoed that sentiment in a statement released by the company.””From my perspective, eliminating or dramatically reducing the mortgage interest tax deduction is the exact opposite of what would be best for the economy right now,”” Sharga said. “”Though some view this tax credit solely as a benefit for so-called wealthy homeowners, it has become a fundamental economic benefit to home ownership for tens of millions of Americans, and is a crucial component to maintaining stability within the housing market.””While a complete elimination of the MID (a scenario Sharga views as unlikely) “”could be devastating”” to the real estate market, any kind of change to the tax credit could wreak havoc on housing–and on the larger economy in turn, he says.””If these changes are significant, I suspect we’ll experience some softening in the market as well as the economy as a whole,”” he said. “”After all, a weakened housing market will contribute to adverse conditions in related markets such as construction, building materials, home appliances and the like.””So even if we don’t go over the fiscal cliff, burdening the upper middle class and high income households in this way can only hurt the real estate market. Considering that it’s been the housing market that’s pulled the U.S. out of virtually every recession since World War II, it seems like we should be shifting our focus to stimulating it in any way we can rather than doing anything that might knock it down,”” Sharga concludes. Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers Politics Processing Service Providers 2012-12-21 Tory Barringer in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicingcenter_img Industry Reps Call for Preservation of Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction December 21, 2012 433 Views last_img read more

Credit Scores Easing for Jumbo Loan Borrowers

first_img September 9, 2015 1,207 Views The scrutiny borrowers face when seeking jumbo loans might be as tough as ever, but qualifying one is at least getting easier.More lenders are relaxing the minimum credit score needed to qualify for a jumbo over the past year. Prior to 2015, most lenders sought a minimum credit score of 700. The current norm, however, is closer to 650.Perhaps the biggest indicator that the process for getting a jumbo is easing is the recent relaxing of credit score criteria by Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase. All three institutions had held notoriously high standards for obtaining jumbos until last month, when in an effort to attract new borrowers in the face of a pending interest rate increase by the Fed, each institution  dropped its qualifying credit rates from well over 700 to the mid-to-high 600s. JP Morgan had the most notable reduction, dropping its qualifying score from 740 to 680.These minimum required scores, of course, are still higher than those for standard mortgages, a.k.a. conforming loans. Those qualifying scores, according to the Home Buying Institute, average between 600 and 620. Jumbo loans are considered non-conforming loans in that they exceed the conforming loan limits for mortgages set in place by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two GSEs that buy mortgage loans from lenders.In most areas of the United States, the limit for a conforming loan is $417,000, though it is as high as $625,000 in New York City and Hawaii, among other regions. Jumbos are any loans worth more and are, therefore, subject to more stringent lending rules because the two GSEs often will not buy them. This makes jumbos far riskier prospects for lenders, who typically require much larger downpayments in order to mitigate risk.Despite the higher standards, the newly lowered bar to getting a jumbo is pretty fluid. Lenders seeing clients with scores lower than 650 can still give a loan if they feel the client is a strong candidate, due to larger downpayments or higher income.Mortgage availability in general is on the increase. According to the latest Mortgage Credit Availability Index from the Mortgage Bankers Association, availability increased by half a percent in August, to 126. This is nothing unusual, as credit availability has increased in eight of the last nine months, according to Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist. “While much of the loosening has been for jumbo loan products, the availability of conforming conventional mortgage credit has also somewhat increased,” he said. Credit Scores Home Buying Institute Jumbo Loans 2015-09-09 Scott_Morgan in Daily Dose, Headlines, Market Studies, News, Originationcenter_img Credit Scores Easing for Jumbo Loan Borrowers Sharelast_img read more

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Names New President CEO

first_imgFederal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Names New President & CEO Share in Government, Headlines, News Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President and CEO 2015-11-10 Seth Welborncenter_img November 10, 2015 521 Views Neel KashkariThe Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis announced today that Neel Kashkari has been named the company’s 13th president and chief executive officer, effective January 1, 2016. Current President and CEO Narayana Kocherlakota will end his tenure on December 31, concluding a five -ear run as head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.One of 12 regional Reserve Banks that make up the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis participates in setting national monetary policy, supervises numerous banking organizations, and provides a variety of payments services to financial institutions and the U.S. government. With Kashkari’s experience, the company should continue to be in good hands.“Mr. Kashkari is an influential leader whose combined experience in the public and private sectors makes him the ideal candidate to head the Minneapolis Fed,” said MayKao Hang, incoming chair of the Minneapolis Fed’s board of directors and co-chair of the search committee.  “We were fortunate to have outstanding candidates during our national search. Mr. Kashkari stood out because of his inspiring leadership skills, solutions-oriented nature, collaborative style and deep commitment to public service.”Kashkari, 42, has had a distinct career spanning both the private and public sectors. In the private sector, he was most recently managing director and member of the executive office at PIMCO, before resigning in January 2013 to explore a run for public office. In 2014, he announced his candidacy for governor of California and came in second in California’s nonpartisan blanket primary, but lost the general election to incumbent governor Jerry Brown.“Mr. Kashkari is an influential leader whose combined experience in the public and private sectors makes him the ideal candidate to head the Minneapolis Fed.” MayKao Hang, Incoming Chair of the Minneapolis Fed’s Board of DirectorsPrior to joining PIMCO in 2009, Kashkari served in the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2006 to 2009, first as senior adviser to Secretary Henry Paulson, and then as assistant secretary of the Treasury. In the latter role, he established and led the Office of Financial Stability and oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Before joining the Treasury Department, Kashkari was a vice president at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco.Additionally, Kashkari holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to lead the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. I look forward to working with the Bank’s dedicated staff and continuing the Bank’s long-standing tradition of excellent service to the Ninth Federal Reserve District and to the nation,” Kashkari said. “The Minneapolis Fed has built a strong reputation for economic research and thought leadership as well as excellence in Bank operations. I am delighted that I will be working with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis team to build on the Bank’s many achievements.”last_img read more