Month: August 2019

Guatemala exdictator gets 2nd genocide charge

first_imgAssociated PressGUATEMALA CITY (AP) – A judge lodged a second genocide charge against a former Guatemalan dictator on Monday accusing him in the massacre of more than 200 villagers.The charge came just months after a similar order to try ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt for the killings of 1,700 Indians.Judge Carol Patricia Flores ruled prosecutors presented sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on the new charge. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Comments   Share   The vital role family plays in society Sponsored Stories Top Stories During the 1960-96 civil war, more than 200,000 people, mostly Mayan Indians, were killed or went missing and entire villages were exterminated, according to the United Nations.Rios Montt, who took power in a 1982 coup and was toppled the following year, became in January the first former president to be charged with genocide by a Latin American court. He had held immunity from prosecution while a member of Congress for 15 years, but after losing his seat he was put under house arrest, where he remains.Advocates in Guatemala have said that charging Rios Montt for war crimes committed during his regime could stand as a precedent in the cases of two other former generals accused alongside Rios Montt in the first genocide case and of dozens of other lower-ranking military men accused of participating in atrocities.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 In the latest case, prosecutors allege Rios Montt was responsible for a military operation that killed 201 farmers in the northern hamlet of Dos Erres.Rios Montt already is facing a genocide trial after being charged in January for allegedly causing the displacement of 29,000 Indians and the killings of 1,771 Mayans. His lawyers are seeking to block the trial, arguing an amnesty law covers Rios Montt, who ruled Guatemala in 1982-83.Asked if he had anything to declare at a hearing on the new charge, the 85-year-old former general said he was innocent.“It is under military law, your honor, that I declare I am innocent,” Rios Montt said in a courtroom crowded with victims’ relatives and human rights activists.Many in the audience clapped when the judge ordered that Rios Montt be tried on the latest charge.On Dec. 7, 1982, soldiers from the elite special forces Kaibil unit attacked the community of Dos Erres, looking for missing weapons that guerrilla groups operating in the region had stolen from troops days earlier. They accused the farmers of collaborating with the rebels at the height of Guatemala’s 36-year civil war.The soldiers raped and killed women and girls and forced hundreds of people to flee, according to court filings. Dozens of bodies were exhumed from a well in the 1990s, and experts determined at least 67 were children under the age of 12.last_img read more

Mexican judge cuts ammo charge against US trucker

first_img“We’ve given this guy back 30 years of his life,” de la Rosa told The Associated Press.Carlos Spector, Bogan’s El Paso, Texas-based attorney, said they will follow de la Rosa’s advice so that Bogan can be sentenced within four to six weeks. De la Rosa says he expects Bogan to be sentenced to between two to three years in prison. Mexican law allows for prison terms under four years to be exchanged for community service or a fine, he said.“This is a positive sign that the reform in the Mexican judicial is working,” he said. “They looked at the facts and did not take pressure, because if any case could have been politicized, it was this.”Bogan was arrested less than 100 feet from a giant billboard that reads, “no more weapons.” The sign, inaugurated by Mexican President Felipe Calderon two months before Bogan was caught, was made out of seized high caliber rifles and ammunition.During the inauguration speech, Calderon blamed lax U.S. gun laws for the flow of weapons into Mexico.“Mexico needs your help… the best way to do that is by stopping the flow of assault weapons into Mexico,” Calderon said.The judge’s decision comes two months after testimony from Mexican customs agents contradicted prosecutors’ claim that Bogan had 268,000 bullets hidden under the floorboards of his 18-wheeler’s trailer when he was arrested April 17 after crossing from West Texas into Juarez. Agents testified in June that Bogan was trying to make a U-turn back into the U.S. when they found the ammunition bundled on top of wooden pallets inside the trailer. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement A message left with prosecutors was not immediately returned Thursday.Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchan in Dallas contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Since then, Bogan’s lawyers and family in the U.S. have cried foul, claiming the ammunition charge was too hefty for what they claim was an honest mistake.“I’m just rejoicing in the moment, to know that my son is soon going to come home,” said Aletha Smith, Bogan’s mother, at a press conference Thursday afternoon in Dallas.The 27-year-old Bogan had made two deliveries in El Paso, Texas, and said he was supposed to drive to Phoenix to deliver assault rifle ammunition to a wholesaler there when he got lost. He said he took a wrong exit on the freeway and drove toward the border, where he said a law enforcement official told him to continue driving across the bridge. Bogan said that when he realized he had crossed into Mexico, he attempted to turn back, but the layout of the traffic lanes prevented him from returning without first crossing into the truck inspection area in Juarez.De La Rosa said surveillance footage taken at the border crossing shows Bogan blocking several lanes of southbound traffic for more than half an hour while trying to maneuver his 18-wheeler back to U.S. soil.Mexican prosecutors alleged he tried to clandestinely smuggle bullets commonly used by drug cartels. Their request to impose both possession and trafficking charges against Bogan was rejected. Associated PressCIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) – A Mexican appeals judge on Thursday significantly lessened the charge against a Dallas truck driver who says he made a wrong turn into Mexico with a trailer full of ammunition, a decision his attorney said may result in a fine or community service instead of a potential 30-year prison sentence.Jabin Bogan, who has been held in a maximum security prison in Veracruz since late April, is now only accused of possession of ammunition instead of a heftier trafficking charge that the judge dismissed. The lesser charge carries a maximum of six years in prison if convicted, though Bogan’s attorney, Emilio de la Rosa, said he has advised his client to plead no contest so he can push for his release. 5 ways to recognize low testosteronecenter_img 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories 0 Comments   Share   Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixlast_img read more

ExGuinea junta leader to chair political party

first_img Top Stories The announcement comes ahead of elections slated for October.Political analyst Idrissa Sow said that Camara’s entry into politics now could deal a serious blow to President Alpha Conde, who wants to seek a second term in office.Camara seized power in a 2008 military coup, hours after the death of longtime despot Lansana Conte. Camara was shot in the head in 2009 by a top aide, and went to Burkina Faso as part of a peace deal. In his absence, the junta’s No. 2 seized the opportunity to arrange for the country’s much-tarnished military to step aside and allow elections to unfold.Guinea, which suffered through decades of dictatorship and strongman-rule, held its first democratic elections in 2010.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Men’s health affects baby’s health too New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — A new political party in Guinea has named as its chairman former strongman Moussa Dadis Camara, who took power by staging a coup and was later shot in the head and went into exile, his lawyer said Tuesday.Camara resigned from the army in March and was appointed to head the Patriotic Forces for Democracy and Development on Sunday, his lawyer Jean Baptiste Jocamey Haba said.“Guineans who trusted in him have invested in him as the head of the party on May 3,” the lawyer said, adding that since Camara had resigned from the army he dropped his former title of Captain. Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

Detained Washington Post reporter back in Iran court

first_img Top Stories Comments   Share   Rezaian, his wife and two photojournalists were detained on July 22 in Tehran. All were later released except Rezaian, who has been held over 300 days.Salehi left the courthouse with Rezaian’s mother in a white taxi. She declined to comment to waiting reporters, saying only: “I am not in a good state.”Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported that two other people detained with Rezaian were also in court Monday. It did not elaborate or say who those two are.Rezaian’s defense lawyer, Leila Ahsan, previously said that Salehi and one of the two unnamed photojournalists also face trial. Calls to Ahsan were not immediately returned on Monday.As in the May hearing, reporters gathered in front of the courthouse gate did not see Rezaian, his lawyer or the other two co-defendants arrive for the session. In Iran, authorities usually bring those charged in sensitive cases into the building through another gate, which is closed to the public.The semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that Rezaian defended himself in English, and that a translation of his statements was handed to Judge Abolghassem Salavati by a translator.Rezaian is a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen who was born and spent most of his life in the United States. Iran does not recognize other nationalities for its citizens. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Salehi, a reporter for The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi, remains in Iran, barred from traveling abroad, the Post has said.At his first hearing, the court alleged that Rezaian had written to President Barack Obama and also cited a trip he made to the U.S. Consulate in Dubai, Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported at the time.Martin Baron, the Post’s executive editor, has disputed the nature of the alleged correspondence, saying that Rezaian filled out an online job application for the Obama administration after the 2008 election, though he was never hired.The Post has said Rezaian faces 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted. His brother, Ali Rezaian, earlier said that Jason had visited the consulate in Dubai to get a U.S. visa for his wife.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Rezaian’s mother, Mary, told The Associated Press after his second hearing ended on Monday afternoon that she does not know how many more sessions there will be or how the trial is going.She and Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, were both at the courthouse Monday but they were only allowed in a waiting hall and not in the courtroom itself.“I just know that my son is innocent. As his mother, I wanted to come and show my support. Six months ago I was here and they told me ‘leave and come back for the trial’. I came back a month ago. I am here for the trial, but they are not permitting me to see him” during the hearings, Mary Rezaian said. “He is very tired, very distressed because he does not understand why he is being held.”“He is being accused of being a master spy when all he was doing was reporting on a country that he loves. So it is very hard for him. Very, very hard for him. And of course he misses his wife,” she added. “So two years they have been married, one year he has been in prison. It is a very, very difficult thing.”She said she has been in Iran for a month and has been allowed to see her son briefly twice.center_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The mother of detained Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian said Monday her son is “very tired, very distressed” as the journalist returned to a Tehran courtroom for the second closed-door hearing in his espionage trial.Rezaian, the Post’s 39-year-old bureau chief, had his first closed-door hearing on May 26 in a Revolutionary Court on charges including espionage and propaganda against the Islamic Republic. The Post has strongly criticized the detention of its reporter, and American officials and rights groups have also pressed for his release. Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous oflast_img read more

UNHCR says Greece faces unprecedented migrant emergency

first_img Comments   Share   New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Mesa family survives lightning strike to home “We registered recently 1,600 people arriving in one day alone … the local capacity is completely overwhelmed,” Spindler said. “Greece urgently needs help and we expect Europe to step forward.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches BRUSSELS (AP) — Greece is facing an “unprecedented” emergency as migrants fleeing war and poverty stream into the country’s islands in huge numbers, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday.The UNHCR said 77,100 people have arrived in Greece by sea this year, an average of 1,000 per day, overwhelming local authorities. The country’s precarious economic situation is putting severe strain on small islands that are unable to cope, the agency said. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “Greece is part of the European Union and this is happening in Europe,” UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said in Geneva. “We would like the European Union to have a much more active role in responding to the situation in Greece.”Most of the refugees arriving in Greece move on in hopes of reaching western and northern European countries by passing through the Balkans, which has seen a nine-fold increase in asylum applications in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2014.Greece’s coast guard said it picked up 738 people in 17 incidents in the Aegean in the 24 hours to Friday morning, off the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos. That doesn’t include those who managed to make it ashore themselves in inflatable dinghies from the nearby Turkish coast.A search-and-rescue operation by the Greek and Turkish coast guards in the eastern Aegean was in its third day Friday after a sailboat carrying dozens of migrants sank July 7 between the Greek islands of Agathonissi and Farmakonissi. Five bodies were recovered and 19 people rescued, the Greek coast guard said, adding that an estimated 13 were still missing.The Greek island most affected has been Lesbos, where about half of all those arriving in Greece land. Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories last_img read more

Youll be mad as a hatter for Swissotels new High Tea

first_img“I think what people love the most is the Swiss Lindt chocolate fountain. It’s amazing to see the look on our guests faces when they see all that chocolate! It is the only one of its kind in Sydney.”This five star high tea experience was beautifully paired with a discussion over five star foot wear from Shoes of Prey*On booking the Swissotel Sydney High tea, guests can also request a hour consultation with online portal Shoes of Prey.Guests can indulge in Swissotel Sydney’s extensive high tea buffet on the weekend for $39.00 per person. Moet & Chandon is also available by the flute from $22.00. *Cost of purchasing shoes is not including in cost of the high tea. Group booking of minimum 6 people required for Shoes of Prey consultations. Conditions apply. Subject to availability.  Swissotel Sydney invited guests to indulge in an afternoon of uncommon nonsense on Wednesday to celebrate the launch of its new High Tea service.Guests enjoyed the Alice in Wonderland themed event over a glass of Moet & Chandon at the Mad Hatter’s Table where more than a few ladies were overheard telling their neighbours that it was their “un-birthday.”Executive Chef, Justin Zammit created the “curiouser and curiouser” high tea using seasonal ingredients and fresh local produce.  “I want to evoke our guest’s imaginations and encourage an enjoyable experience by creating an unconventional and unique High Tea service.”Drawing on his Michelin star experience,  Justin served tantalizing sweet treats including scones, petit cakes, jellies, mousses and crème brulee complimented by savory bites of pinwheel sandwiches filled with smoked salmon & cream cheese, egg & cress and organic chicken. Energetic Food and Beverage Manager, Brook Sargeant says, “We have made a number of enhancements to put the fun back into High Tea! From the traditional tiered service during the week to the expansive buffet selection on the weekend, we really cater to all tastes. Mad Hatter’s Table. Mad Hatter cake. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img read more

WAs Walpole is Australias favourite Tidy Town

first_imgSource = Walpole Tourist Bureau A small town in Western Australia has proven size doesn’t matter after taking out top honours in the first Tidy Towns People’s Choice Award.  With a population of just 321, Walpole located on the WA coast attracted more votes per capita than any town in the new national competition and the prize of a $10,000 grant towards a community project. Over 5,000 votes have poured into the site since Australia’s favourite GPS brand Navman launched the competition with Keep Australia Beautiful’s Tidy Towns.   The competition complements the official Tidy Towns awards that have been running in Australia for over 40 years and asked people to say why others should visit the town.  Other towns in the top five of ‘Australia’s most loved’ were Dartmoor, in Victoria; Hastings Point, NSW; Lockhart, NSW and Bincheno in Tasmania.Walpole has also been successful in the official Tidy Towns competition, having taken out the state title in 2007. When asked how a little town of 321 people managed to get a whopping 1,026 votes, Dave Tapley, councilor and chair of Tidy Towns Committee, Walpole said, “That’s Walpole, mate. Something like this just pulled everyone together. Everyone in the town voted and we tapped into our network of friends and families in other areas.”Extremely town proud and no strangers to extraordinary feats of effort – town volunteers clean 104 kilometres of highway weekly – the town went the extra mile to win the competition.  Volunteers created a “how to vote” form and stood in rain and sunshine at popular local tourist sites asking people to vote, averaging about 30 votes a day.  An obstacle they had to overcome was that not everyone had computers or internet access, so the town turned to its computer expert, 86 year old Geordie Whitwell. Geordie set up a computer on site where people could register their votes. “We really wanted to win to put our town on the map, so the community got organised and we gave it our all.  It was almost like a military operation – we were even monitoring the votes of other towns in the competition,” said Michael Filby, community volunteer, winner of the individual award at the Australian Tidy Towns Awards. Walpole will put the $10,000 prize money towards building a fish cleaning station as the town is surrounded by fishing grounds and is popular with recreational fishers.  Wendy Hammond, marketing director, Navman, who was responsible for setting up the competition with Keep Australia Beautiful said, “We really wanted to give towns all over the country -both large and small – the chance to put themselves on the map, and to encourage people to get out on the road and discover more of our country and put valuable tourism dollars into the local economy. “Even though only one town could win, the Navman People’s Choice award has demonstrated the amazing community spirit in our country. Thousands of Australians including councils, tourism bodies, Tidy Towns committees and everyday punters showed strong support for their most loved town by submitting incredible images, fascinating facts and insider secrets about their favourite town. We were extremely pleased with how successful and well received the competition was,” she said.Scott Lyall, Executive Officer of Keep Australia Beautiful added, “We are thrilled with the results of the first Navman People’s Choice promotion.  So many towns and individuals from around the country took part and helped remind us of why we should visit their special part of Australia.  It was good to see some familiar, and not so familiar, names take part. But there can only be one winner and we congratulate Walpole, WA.”Walpole, located 420 km South of Perth on the coast of Western Australia, only has a tiny population but was the clear winner out of the 200 towns nominated for the award. The town offers the impressive ‘valley of the giants’ tree top walk amongst massive tingle and karri trees as well as amazing rivers, beaches and incredible views of Mount Frankland. More importantly Walpole has a very passionate and dedicated local community.  Now that the award is over Navman also want to remind Australians they can continue supporting regional Australia by getting in the car and visiting these wonderful towns. Over 200 towns were nominated in this year’s competition and images and descriptions can be found on the website.The winner of the People’s Choice Award was calculated based on per head of population. Unlike the official and iconic Tidy Towns Award which is chosen by judges who visit certain regions, the Navman People’s Choice Award, allowed everyone to pick their favourite town.  Ten people who voted in the competition will also soon be receiving a brand new Navman GPS.last_img read more

It is official – Feejee Experience is the best Fiji Experience

first_imgSource = FeeJee Experience / AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards L-R: Brad Rutherford – General Manager TTF – CoralSun Fiji – Feejee Experience – Great Sights Fiji, DavePflieger– CEO Air Pacific, Henry Lomanivere – Sales Coordinator, TTF & Feejee Experience.Feejee Experience is the proud recipient of Best Fiji Experience in the AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards 2010. It is awarded in recognition of their range of travel, accommodation and activity packages that were created to give visitors the opportunity to see and feel the real Fiji.“We are genuinely thrilled to receive this award. It was tough competition with so many popular products, resorts and operators in Fiji who were finalists in this category,” said Brad Rutherford, General Manager Tourist Transport Fiji & Feejee Experience. “I believe it is our blend of giving guests the experience Fiji is renowned for – the sun, the amazing beaches, and adding the unique bonus ingredients like village stopovers, school visits and even the Indo-Fijian aspects of Ba Town.  These are the experiences that stick with people, and create the memories that they talk about for years to come.”In recognition of the award and the growth in the business, Feejee Experience has released a new website to promote their genuine experience. “With such a significant award we wanted to ensure that we had the right platform to proudly display our award winning tour options, so we just launched our new website to do just that,” says Rutherford.last_img read more

Be yourself Air NZ boss tells Rotorua

first_imgAir NZ dares “to be different” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe has opened up to Rotorua’s business community, telling the city’s Chamber of Commerce the key to the carrier’s success lay in keeping communications open and encouraging a “culture of personality” within the company.”The focus of the business is around people and communication – a lot of business performance comes from that,” Mr Fyfe told the Chamber’s Focus on Business Lunch, held at the Distinction Hotel. “We are consistently recognised as one of the best-performing and innovative airlines in the world.”According to the Rotorua Daily Post, Mr Fyfe said stepping back from the carrier’s normal daily concerns had allowed him to focus on bringing to life to the airline “the personality that makes New Zealand a little different”.”[New Zealanders] need to have the confidence to be ourselves and recognise that we can be world-class by being ourselves, without having to emulate anyone else,” the Air NZ boss said. Daring to be “different”, Mr Fyfe added the airline was not afraid to be “bold, and at times, controversial”, the newpaper reported. On maintaining Rotorua’s trans-tasman flights, Mr Fyfe said it had been “really hard yakka in purely financial terms”, but was hopeful that with the support of the community and potential stronger ties with Australia’s Virgin Blue they could “stimulate more demand”.   According to the Rotorua Daily Post, the Air NZ boss added that the primary goal of the airline was to build up the frequency of Sydney flights, which Mr Fyfe said was “very important”.last_img read more

Million Dollar finalists compete in Qld

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Representatives from the 20 finalist companies have landed and commenced the final show down to see who will Tourism Queensland’s Million Dollar Memo.The final eight day battle kicked off earlier today, with each competitor aiming to win the AU$1 million dollar incentive prize for their company.As part of the final round competitors will visit the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Whitsundays and Tropical North Queensland.The competition commencing in March this year, attracting up to 80,000 website clicks within the first few weeks of its launch.  The best 70 entrants outlining why their company was the best in the world were shortlisted into the next round. From there contestants were cut down to the Final 20 and includes companies from up to 11 countries including Australia.Be the first to find out which lucky company wins the Memo by clicking onto e-Travel Blackboard next week.last_img read more

Roomorama unveils Lofty merger

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Sealing its spot in the rental market sector, Roomorama has announced its merger with short-term rental site to make the united company one of the “largest online short-term rental providers worldwide”.With US$2.1 million set in seed funding, Roomorama founder Jia En Teo explained the company was in the process of integrating the properties for Lofty to offer travellers “even more options when travelling domestically and abroad”.“International travellers and property owners are continuing to embrace the short-term rental model, and I’m confident that this merger will deliver what the industry has been seeking – higher quality, improved reliability, and a swifter booking process,” Jia En Teo added.Lofty founder Fabrice Grindaalso added that the merger would also treat travellers as it will combine the strengths of both companies while reinforcing “its position as a leader in the industry”.With up to 50,000 properties already in its portfolio, Roomorama said this figure is likely to double before the year’s end, with Australians among the company’s top ten markets.For more information check out the company’s website: Roomorama Founders in their Roomorama property in New Yorklast_img read more

Thailand takes a more focused marketing approach TTM

first_imgThailand tourism is re-focusing its marketing strategy to attract niche market visitors through the new campaign, ‘Customise Your Experience’, according to Tourism Authority Thailand (TAT).Addressing delegates at the Thailand media briefing held during the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) 2012, deputy governor for international marketing Juthaporn Rerngronasa highlighted the importance of developing new marketing schemes.“One of the reasons we chose the logo, ‘Customise Your Experience’ as this year’s marketing campaign is because we’re re-focusing our strategy to attract niche market visitors, creating a personalised holiday experience that’s truly unforgettable.”Highlighted by royal projects, Thai cultural events, traditional celebrations and more, the new campaign aims to attract visitors from emerging markets including the Baltic’s, Latin America and South America.“Our marketing strategy for 2012 will focus on enhancing Thailand’s brand image and promote sustainable tourism,” Ms Rerngronasa said.“Through the utilisation of modern marketing concepts we will be able to enhance the experience of our visitors and continue to re-enforce concepts like value for money and generous hospitality.” TTM+ 2012 is a major driver in stimulating support for Thailand’s tourism industry and according to Ms Rerngronasa 47 percent of this year’s buyers are new buyers.“TTM+ 2012 also supports intra-regional travel. NTO’s from the greater Mekong sub-regions are present to boost awareness and procure new business.”Countries represented in this region include Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Yunnan and Bhutan.The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecasts international tourist arrivals to Thailand to increase by three to four percent, reaching the historic one billion mark by the close of this year.“We are targeting 20.5 million international arrivals. Revenue generated is expected to total 766 billion baht,” Ms Rerngronasa said.Thailand was ranked number one for value for money on the seventh annual Future Brand Country Brand Index 2011/2012.Watch Tourism Authority Thailand’s new promotional marketing film, ‘Discover the Other You’, below. Media Briefing, Thailand Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Deputy Governor for International Marketing TATcenter_img Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

APAC draws in more tourists PATA

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W International arrivals into Asia Pacific destinations collectively increased by four percent in April 2012 compared to previous year, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). The relatively low increase was constrained compare to the other month’s results for the first quarter of the year that saw a collective gain of seven percent. The rebound in travel in April 2011 following a number of natural disasters and the earlier Easter holiday period in 2012 were factors that underlined this year’s result. International arrivals to Northeast Asia grew by five percent during the period with destinations in the sub-region all recorded robust growth while  Japan experienced the highest growth with 164 percent increase followed by Korea (ROK) (28 percent), Chinese Taipei (26 percent) and Hong Kong SAR (14 percent). Despite the uncertainties in the Eurozone, positive trends have continued for arrivals from the Americas and Europe to Northeast Asia. Results also revealed that while foreign arrivals to Japan were still four percent lower this year than for the corresponding pre-tsunami period of 2010, the Japanese outbound demand was flourishing with more than 6 million departures during the first four months of 2012. South Asia registered a positive gain of five percent during April 2012, although this was slow.  Growth was spread unevenly across the destinations, ranging from a one percent decrease for the Maldives to a 43 percent increase for Bhutan. Compare to other months this year, India and Sri Lanka both posted slower results at three and nine percent respectively. Southeast Asia remains a fast-growing sub-region in Asia Pacific, enjoying a nine percent increase in international arrivals during April 2012. This included countries experiencing an increase in double digits, including Cambodia (24 percent), Myanmar (35 percent), and the Philippines (10 percent). Across in the Pacific travel demand was up by six percent for the period. Sub-region growth was boosted by strong arrivals to Guam (up 24 percent) and Hawaii (up nine percent). Arrivals into Australia were weak, experiencing just one percent growth and New Zealand recorded a decrease of one percent. last_img read more

STAY WYSE Green Initiative Award Winner 2012

first_imgComing off the high of winning the City of Port Phillip Business Excellence Award for Tourism, a week later sees Melbourne’s only carbon neutral backpacker hostel proud to announce securing the STAY WYSE Green Initiative Award for 2012.Through the Green Initiative Award, STAY WYSE recognizes Habitat HQ for its impressive dedication to eliminate carbon output and its commitment to educate staff and guests alike on reducing environmental impact. Making “green travel” an integral part of their operational activities, Habitat HQ takes pride in being a sustainable business and participating at a local level working as part of the global community.The award was announced at the annual World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) in San Diego at the Industry Awards Luncheon on Friday September 21, 2012.The green page on details the extensive measures that Habitat HQ have taken to demonstrate their commitment and passion in environmental sustainability. As 1 of only 25 businesses in Australia certified by the highly respected EcoTourism Australia’s ‘Climate Action Program’ as a Climate Action Innovator, Habitat HQ have proactively undertaken adaptation and emission reductions, auditing and measuring their carbon footprint.As a recognised industry leader in sustainable travel, Director Peter Beaconsfield comments “We set ourselves the goal of being carbon neutral by 2013 and happy to report we achieved the outcome a year earlier! We demonstrate our commitment as strong advocates by adopting innovative technologies and practices. Our carbon management plan monitors energy, water and waste consumption as critical components of carbon management principles. Our environmental policy and our environmental and sustainable purchasing policy guide our business decisions every day.”Habitat HQ redefines the concept of a “backpacker hostel”. Located in St Kilda, Melbourne’s premiere tourist and seaside playground, Habitat HQ is a “home away from home” for 365 days of the year, welcoming international travellers into their warm, friendly and relaxed environment. Accommodation options range from 4, 6, 8 and 10 bed dormitories to private motel style rooms with ensuites.The Stay WYSE Green Initiative Award attracted numerous entries from around the world with Habitat HQ sitting in the finals amongst highly esteemed operators such as Almaa Sintra Hostel – Portugal, Betws Eco Lodge – UK, Center for Cultural Interchange – USA, Swiss Youth Hostel Association, – Switzerland, Tim’s Place – Australia, The Whistler – Canada Source = Habitat HQlast_img read more

Thats entertainment Brand USA partners with Cirque du Soleil

first_imgCountry’s promotional body launches USA LiveEntertainment campaign with Cirque as firstpartner. Image: Cirque du Soleil In the same month as the upcoming premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE, Brand USA has announced the launch of a new promotional campaign designed to generate global excitement of the country’s entertainment offerings, ‘USA Live Entertainment’, partnering with Cirque du Soleil.“Before there were destinations, before there were brands, a lot of the way people discovered what the United States had to offer was through movies and music – and now live entertainment is also a very compelling platform,” Brand USA president and chief executive Chris Thompson said at this year’s International Pow Wow (IPW).The first of “many anticipated” partners, Cirque du Soleil will drive and create content to be deployed throughout Brand USA’s marketing channels, featuring “primarily in the trade markets through international trade shows, training programs, familiarization tours and direct promotions for retail to tour operators,” Mr Thompson said.According to Cirque du Soleil Resident Shows senior vice president Jerry Nadal, the USA Live Entertainment campaign will provide an opportunity to travel providers from around the world to expand their USA travel offerings “by utilizing iconic USA brand entertainment experiences just like Cirque du Soleil”.  “As a brand we have universal appeal because the majority of our shows don’t have any language barrier so therefore they appeal to all ages, all nationalities and people can connect with the shows on an emotional level,” he said.“We hope our global brand and international fan base can help bring international visitors to the United States.”On an annual basis, Cirque du Soleil regularly performs in 300 cities on six continents. center_img Source = e-Travel Blackboard: GAlast_img read more

Singapore named top cruise destination

first_imgSingapore named top cruise destinationSingapore named top cruise destinationSingapore has been named top cruise destination by industry experts for the second time in three years at the 10th Seatrade Cruise Awards held on 22nd September in Tenerife. This accolade is another feather in the cap for Singapore, which was voted as the top Asian port of call in the inaugural Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards as well.“We are flattered that Singapore has managed to retain the top spot in the minds of the cruise community as an attractive cruise hub,” said John Conceicao, Executive Director, International Relations & Market Planning & Oceania, Singapore Tourism Board (STB).“It’s no doubt that Singapore’s superb air connectivity, world-class berthing facilities at both the Singapore Cruise Centre and Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore terminals, and proximity to the region’s myriad of cruise offerings have all jointly contributed to this win.”Strengthening Singapore as a cruise hubThe award also caps off years of developmental work that STB, cruise lines and trade partners had collectively done to grow the cruise industry in Singapore. Some of the initiatives include forging more than 10 marketing partnerships with cruise lines and trade partners to drive cruise passenger numbers, training more than 800 travel agents from the UK and India with the help of CLIA Australasia, and widening Singapore’s reach to consumers through multiple media platforms. The Board also actively works with Singaporean trade partners to curate immersive and differentiated pre- or post-cruise experiences to enrich cruise visitors’ stay in Singapore.Developing Southeast Asia as the cruising region of choiceBeing the ASEAN[1] lead co-ordinator for cruise development in Southeast Asia, Singapore also spearheaded initiatives such as the creation of the first Cruise Southeast Asian brand to promote the region in a unified voice, and developed tools such as a regional cruise port and attractions map to help cruise lines develop itineraries.These efforts have proved fruitful, as Singapore experienced a 14 per cent year-on-year increase in cruise passenger throughput in 2015, and major cruise line Royal Caribbean International will have their longest-ever homeporting season[2] in Singapore starting October 2016.In Australia, the Board continues to work with various cruise travel partners not only to promote cruises that begin or end in Singapore, but also creating advertorials on Singapore in order to encourage longer stays pre- or post-cruise.Added Conceicao: “Singapore and Southeast Asia are well-placed to ride the wave of growth for cruising in Asia, and the Board will continue to push the boundaries in establishing Southeast Asia as the cruise region of choice.” Singapore Tourism Board for more information, visitSource = Singapore Tourism Boardlast_img read more

TravelManagers Conference community event raises thousands

first_imgTravelManagers’ Conference community event raises thousands TravelManagers’ annual national conference participants ready to act as ONE in seven-kilometre fundraising walk for Helping People Achieve (HPA)TravelManagers’ Conference community event raises thousands for local not-for-profitDay Three of TravelManagers’ annual National Conference, which was held in Darwin last weekend, saw participants step away from their conference venue for the morning and instead hit the Darwin waterfront to participate in “Steps Towards Capability”.The event was held by “Helping People Achieve” (HPA), a unique, Northern Territory-based, not-for-profit organisation that provides services to people with physical and intellectual disabilities in the Darwin and Palmerston regions. They currently support 68 people with employment and 40 people in accommodation and are 2016 winners of Telstra’s Small Business of the Year Award.NPO’s Suzanne Laister and PTM Bec Harrison enjoying the sunshine on their fundraising walk for HPATravelManagers’ Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal, says partnering with a local charity to help raise both awareness and much-needed funds has become an integral part of the company’s national conference agenda each year.“Since the community charity activity was introduced at our Fiji conference in 2012 we have worked with some incredible people over the past six years, who are achieving amazing things, and usually with very tight budgets. This year our partnership tied in really well with our conference theme by giving our people the opportunity to act as ONE in helping out with HPA’s fundraising event.”Always happy to offer a hand: personal travel managers Julie Lunn and Melanie Carter create personalised mementoes of their morningConference attendees were transported by bus to the fun walk start line at Darwin’s Trailer Boat Club and joined members of the Darwin community and disabled community in a seven-kilometre fun walk long Darwin’s picturesque East Point Reserve and beach, which has a lot of Australian military history significance, followed by “Steps Towards Capability” expo where participants had an opportunity to learn about the work of local disability service providers.“It was a great choice of event for us because it was something that everyone could get involved in,” says Gazal. “Those who didn’t want to do the walk were able to help out with aid stations along the route, and at the conclusion of the walk, we were also able to participate in a range of art, dance, music and sports workshops with our new friends.”TravelManagers’ General Manager, Michael Gazal, celebrates a successful ‘Steps Towards Capability’ with Georgina HiggieTravelManagers also created a team fundraising page where conference participants, supplier attendees and friends and family could make donations towards HPA in support of the work they carry out in their community. Participants could also choose to set up their own fundraising pages if they wished to carry out further fundraising on an individual basis.The funds raised by the Steps Towards Capability event will help HPA to continue their valuable work, providing supported employment to people with a disability. They do this because their vision is that through employment and support, people with disabilities can develop confidence, independence and life skills to lead a fulfilling everyday life.TravelManagers’ Nicole Edgar, representative for Narre Warren South in Victoria, has taken part in TravelManagers’ community events for the past six years, and says giving back to differing charities and organisations to help those less fortunate than ourselves is one of highlights of her conference weekend each year.TravelManagers’ Juanita Schaffa De Mauri (left) and Natalie Miller add their contribution to a TravelManagers-themed work of art“What a great way to start the day: a walk in the Darwin sunshine with some really great people, play some chair volleyball, take part in a dance workshop and create some colourful works of art – what more could we ask for? It was such a fun event, and knowing that we’ve contributed financially to their ongoing work was the icing on the cake!”At the end of the morning, HPA’s CEO, Tony Burns, farewelled the TravelManagers participants and thanked them for their enthusiastic involvement in what was a very successful event for the organisation. To date, TravelManagers’ involvement in Steps Towards Capability has raised in excess of $7,598, with final figures still being assessed.“There’s a lot of work by a lot of people that goes into planning each year’s national conference, but choosing an organisation with whom to partner for our community event is one of the highlights,” says Gazal. “There are so many great organisation out there that it can be a really tough choice, but ultimately, it’s very rewarding for all involved.”For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599. About TravelManagersTravel Managers 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 2017. TravelManagers is a sister company to Hoot Holidays, also owned by House of Travel, and has more than 500 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 secure and only used for client purchases.Source = TravelManagerslast_img read more

Housing Starts Leapfrog Forecasts by 15 in September

first_img Share Agents & Brokers Capital Economics Census Bureau Department of Commerce Home Prices Home Sales Lenders & Servicers National Association of Home Builders Pending-Home Prices Processing Service Providers Treasury Department 2011-10-19 Ryan Schuette October 19, 2011 440 Views Beating forecasts for lower-than-expected housing starts, builders put up 15 percent more new homes on a seasonally adjusted basis than predicted in September, the most since April 2010.[IMAGE]The hitch: Multifamily residential construction drove the numbers.The “”Commerce Department””: reported that “”housing starts in September””: rose above August estimates for 572,000 units, hitting an annual 658,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The numbers rose on a year-over-year basis to perch 5.7 percent above starts recorded in September last year.At the same time, permits for privately-owned housing units dropped last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 594,000, reflecting a 5-percent fall below August forecasts.The jump in housing starts follows a “”4-point rise in homebuilder confidence””:, reported Tuesday by the “”National Association of Home Builders””: – [COLUMN_BREAK]the biggest gain in sentiment since the expiration of the federal homebuyer tax credit in April last year.Writing in a widely circulated note, “”Paul Dales””:, senior U.S. economist with “”Capital Economics””:, said the spike in starts “”suggests that housing may finally be helping the wider economy,”” adding the caveat that “”household formation is still too low and the excess supply is still too high to warrant a major rise in homebuilding.””He added that the surge in starts may not sustain itself over the long haul, given the slide in mortgage applications to their lowest dearth since 1996 last week. He also forecasted that multifamily starts may well ease over the course of the month.””Ryan Sweet””:, a senior economist with “”Moody’s Analytics””:, tells _MReport_ that “”the volatile multifamily segment has really driven the overall gain in housing starts, with people opting more for renting than buying. People are sitting on the sidelines waiting to sit out the housing correction.””He says that scuttled permits from September signal stilted residential construction over the remainder of 2011 and into next year.””The foreclosure pipeline is still very full,”” he says. “”Until we work off shadow inventory, homebuilders are going to hold off in terms of construction.””””[T]here is a slim chance of a significant and sustained surge in homebuilding when household formation remains low and when there is still plenty of excess supply to be absorbed,”” Dales said. “”The upshot is that the economy will have to continue to cope without much support from housing for some time yet.””center_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Housing Starts Leapfrog Forecasts by 15% in Septemberlast_img read more

Fitch Servicers Would Feel Burn From New CFPB Rules

first_img in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Fitch: Servicers Would Feel Burn From New CFPB Rules Mortgage servicers would feel the pain if the “”Consumer Financial Protection Bureau””: (CFPB) finalizes new rules it plans to propose this summer, according to “”Fitch Ratings””:[IMAGE]The ratings agency said in a statement that “”increased operational, compliance, and reporting expenses”” would take place if the rules take effect without any modification by the agency.The CFPB issued statements last week that signal its intentions to roll out with new proposals for rules that require more disclosure and transparency from servicers.[COLUMN_BREAK]Under the new rules, servicers would need to notify homeowners of any changes to interest rates for certain adjustable-rate mortgages, maintain transparency about new force-placed insurance policies, and break down monthly payments by principal, interest, and more.Analysts with Fitch said they believe that “”the proposed set of rules could… be less relevant with respect to future underwriting, provided that lenders are more focused on the credit quality and financial resources of the borrowers and stability of home prices.””The move is another in the direction of national servicing standards, according to experts, and continues the work started by the historic $25 national settlement agreed-to in February.””Joseph A. Smith””:, former “”Federal Housing Finance Agency””: nominee and monitor of the settlement, tells us that the CFPB “”certainly [has] jurisdiction”” over servicing standards and that he hopes the “”exercise will contribute to the development of those standards.””Ultimately, I think we’ll have national standards ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and we ought to,”” he says._Editor├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós Note: To see the full, exclusive interview with settlement monitor Joseph A. Smith, “”click here””: to subscribe to_ DS News _magazine, our sister publication, and request our May issue._ April 16, 2012 416 Views center_img Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Agents & Brokers FHFA Fitch Ratings Investors Lenders & Servicers Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight Processing Regulation Service Providers 2012-04-16 Ryan Schuette Sharelast_img read more

Mortgagebot and Avista Announce New Industry Partners

first_img In Utah and Wisconsin, Mortgagebot and Avista have added two new clients for the companies’ technology platforms. Mortgagebot and Avista, both of which share parent company “”D+H””:, will welcome “”University First Federal Credit Union””: and “”Bank of Lake Mills””, to their roster of customers.[IMAGE]In addition to Mortgagebot’s automated front-end point-of-sale program, the credit union and the bank will also deploy Avista’s back-end loan origination system (LOS). By selecting the technology offerings, both financial institutions hope to gain a competitive advantage through the enhanced efficiency and conveniences provided by the platforms.Matt Cotter, Mortgagebot’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, says the first phase of integration of the companies’ products is complete, noting, “”We are pleased to announce that [COLUMN_BREAK]we’ve made tremendous headway and are already operating with full loan-level integration.””The integration of our two companies’ products is a win-win situation for Mortgagebot, Avista, and our respective clients-including our newest clients, University First FCU and Bank of Lake Mills. Together, we will assist in improving their efficiency and profitability, and we look forward to collaborating with and serving other lenders in this capacity,”” added Cotter.Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, University First FCU will use Mortgagebot’s web-based Internet-direct solution to facilitate online support for borrowers. The credit union has also elected to utilize Mortgagebot’s capabilities to equip its branch and call center staff to take complete applications.Bank of Lake Mills, located in Mequon, Wisconsin, will join University First FCU in using Mortgagebot’s Internet-direct platform. Additionally, the bank will count on Avista’s LOS technology to create a “”self-serve”” environment for borrowers seeking to check interest rates, pricing, and fees prior to initiating a mortgage loan.””Using this end-to-end platform to support the mortgage process better positions our bank for the future and for accelerating growth, all at an affordable cost,”” said Lindsay Duncombe, the bank’s compliance officer. “”The system is easy to deploy, and we look forward to using it to further boost productivity and profitability.”” Mortgagebot and Avista Announce New Industry Partners in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology July 16, 2012 407 Views center_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-07-16 Abby Gregory Sharelast_img read more