first_imgBOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrapped up a trip to crisis-plagued Venezuela by warning the country is on a “destructive path” that could result in more suffering unless the socialist government adopts more moderate policies before congressional elections.Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, met this week in Caracas with members of the opposition, including relatives of jailed politicians, as well as government officials. The surprise visit, the first in years by a U.S. senator, follows weeks of high-level meetings between President Nicolas Maduro and State Department envoys as the Obama administration seeks to reduce tensions with its fiercest critic in Latin America. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories center_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall “It is very sad to see that the country’s flawed economic policies and political system have put Venezuela on such a destructive path,” Corker said in a statement issued Thursday upon his return to the U.S.He urged Venezuelan leaders on all sides to embrace free markets and to respect human rights and the rule of law among other policies, saying that is needed to prevent a further breakdown of order in a country already suffering from triple-digit inflation and widespread shortages.He said the months leading up to Dec. 6 legislative elections, which polls say the opposition is heavily favored to win, “will show the world whether Venezuela is willing to take even modest steps toward this end.”It’s unclear with whom in the government Corker met besides Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, whose job it is to advocate for victims of human rights abuses. Corker’s office told The Associated Press that the senator was unavailable for further comment.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories last_img read more

first_img How do cataracts affect your vision? It comes as Turkey’s security situation “has deteriorated dramatically,” Bruno Lete, senior officer for foreign and security policy at the German Marshall Fund, a Brussels think tank, said.“The rise of Islamic State in northern Iraq, in northern Syria, has effectively destabilized the southern border of Turkey. But also domestically, the threat of terrorism has become very real,” Lete told The Associated Press.NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who will chair the closed-door session, said Turkey requested it following recent “heinous terrorist attacks,” which included an IS suicide bombing near Turkey’s border with Syria that left 32 people dead and an IS attack on Turkish forces, which killed a soldier.“NATO allies follow developments very closely and stand in solidarity with Turkey,” Stoltenberg said in announcing Tuesday’s meeting of the alliance’s main political decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council.According to official NATO records, there have been only four other so-called Article 4 meetings since the U.S.-led alliance was created in 1949.Most recently, NATO ambassadors convened in March 2014 at Poland’s request following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy BRUSSELS (AP) — For just the fifth time in its 66-year history, NATO ambassadors will meet in emergency session Tuesday to gauge the threat the Islamic State extremist group poses to Turkey, and the debated actions Turkish authorities are taking in response.The extraordinary meeting at NATO headquarters was requested by Turkey under Article 4 of the treaty that founded the U.S.-led alliance, which empowers its 28 member states to seek such consultations when they consider their “territorial integrity, political independence or security” to be in jeopardy. What’s more, Turkish leaders “have actually been arguing that the Kurds in Syria are more of a threat to Turkey,” Kearns told the AP. He said the targets chosen in the recent military strikes by Turkey were clear confirmation of that geopolitical calculus.On Monday, Syria’s main Kurdish militia and an activist group said Turkish troops shelled a Syrian village near the border, targeting Kurdish fighters.The official NATO announcement of Tuesday’s meeting of alliance ambassadors said one of the reasons Turkey sought it was to explain “the measures it is taking.” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters Monday he would spell out in detail the security threats his country faces.“We expect solidarity and support from our NATO allies,” he said, without elaborating.Cavusoglu, who spoke during an official visit to Lisbon, Portugal, flatly refused to draw a distinction between IS and PKK.“There is no difference between PKK and Daesh. You can’t say that PKK is better because it is fighting Daesh,” Cavusoglu said, using an Arabic acronym to refer to the Islamic State group.___Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Barry Hatton in Lisbon contributed. Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   After months of reluctance, Turkish warplanes last week started striking militant targets in Syria and entered a long-awaited agreement which allows the U.S. to launch its own strikes from Turkey’s strategically located Incirlik Air Base.The United States and Turkey on Monday were also finalizing plans for a military campaign to push the Islamic State group out of a strip of Syrian territory along the Turkish border.But in a series of cross-border strikes since Friday, Turkey has not only targeted the IS group but also Kurdish fighters affiliated with forces battling IS in Syria and Iraq.The Syrian Kurds are among the most effective ground forces battling the IS group and have been aided by U.S.-led airstrikes, but Turkey fears they could revive an insurgency against it in pursuit of an independent state.The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, has fought Turkey for autonomy for Kurds in a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984. The Kurds are an ethnic group with their own language living in a region spanning present-day Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia.For some NATO members and independent observers, it’s still not clear whether Turkey’s No. 1 target is IS or the Kurds, said Ian Kearns, director of the European Leadership Network, a London-based think tank. Top Stories center_img Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu delivers a speech during a ceremony in honour of the Portuguese policeman and a Turkish citizen who were victims of an attack on the Turkish embassy in Lisbon by an Armenian group in 1983, in Lisbon, Monday, July 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco) Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have given initial support to a five year extension of the joint services agreement (JSA) between Qantas Airways Ltd and British Airways. The JSA, which has been in operation for the past 14 years, allows both airlines to coordinate commercial arrangements between their travel services, particularly between Australian and Europe. “The ACCC considers the JSA is likely to continue to deliver public benefits in the form of lower fares and broader availability of schedule options for air passengers,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said.The strong competition on most routes operated under the deal means that cost savings arising from the JSA are likely to be passed on to consumers.”The increasing competition from other carriers means the JSA is unlikely to result in any substantial lessening of competition in the relevant markets,” he said.The ACCC’s draft determination will be available from the ACCC website, The ACCC invites submissions from interested parties by 25 February 2010.last_img read more

first_imgIt warned of an ice age, a flood, famine, and a nuclear holocaust. But now ‘London Calling’ is being used by organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games to sell the event and the city to prospective visitors.And music critics are at a loss as to why the song – title aside – was chosen.“In the song, London’s got zombies wandering around, the river’s flooding, and the policemen are beating everyone up,” music writer and BBC freelancer Alan Connor told NPR.“So it’s not much of a way of saying, ‘hey, come and watch our beach volleyball – you’ll have a great time’.”Penned in 1979 by The Clash, the iconic tune will be part of countdown advertisements for the Games which begin in just under a year’s time.And whilst in its way the song celebrates the city, Connor says it also repudiates the previous decade’s idea of London. “When he says ‘we ain’t got no swing’, I think Joe Strummer is trying to put in the bin the red-bus, black-taxi, groovy-baby kind of London.”Echoing Connor was fellow BBC contributor Marcus Gray who called ‘London Calling’ “a classic example” of a song that in its fame had lost its intended meaning. “It’s instantly recognisable and superficially the perfect invitation to the capital and the world’s premiere sporting event, but it’s actually about the end of the world, at least as we know it.”Here’s a sample of the song’s lyrics:The ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming inMeltdown expected, the wheat is growing thinEngines stop running, but I have no fear‘Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

first_imgStraw market – Nassau, BahamasImage courtesy of Cruise Radio Half Moon Cay, BahamasImage courtesy of Doug Brown 37 With 4.5 million people currently without power across the east coast of America, e-Travel Blackboard examines the affect Hurricane Irene has had across the cruise industry. Itinerary DiversionsFor the most up to date information on cruise lines affected by the hurricane, we recommend bookmarking America Linems Veendam  was the only ship given authority by the U.S Coast Guard to remain at its dock along New York’s Hudson River to ride out the hurricane over the weekend. Arriving back one day early, on Saturday, passengers were given the option to either disembark on Saturday night or remain onboard until Sunday. She is currently scheduled to set sail on a 7-day Bermuda cruise at 2pm on Monday 29 August. ms Maasdam will no longer call on Bar Harbor, Maine and Halifax, Nova Scotia as part of her Canada and New England cruise that departed Boston on Saturday, instead visiting Gaspe and Saquenay in Quebec.Celebrity CruisesCelebrity Summit is set to sail on a round-trip voyage through Bermuda one day later than scheduled, on Monday 29 August from her home port of Bayonne, New Jersey. Passengers should be aware that the following Bermuda sailing will now depart on the afternoon of Monday 5 September. Cruise Critic reported that the line will provide passengers on the shortened voyage with “a letter at check in with the amount of onboard credit each stateroom will receive.”NCLThe cruise line has alerted passengers that with all changes to NCL itineraries being weather-based, no compensation will be available. Norwegian Gem will delay her trip back to New York and arrive one day later on Monday 29 August. Embarkation will commence at midday on Monday. Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas will now visit Nassau instead of the damaged private island of Coco Cay on Monday 29 August. Carnival Cruise LinesCarnival Cruise Lines will reimburse passengers affected by the shortened voyage on board Carnival Pride with a one-day refund. She will set sail on Monday 29 August on her return to Baltimore after being diverted by the U.S Coast Guard on Saturday. Carnival Glory will visit Halifax on Monday 29 August and Saint John on Tuesday 30 August as part of a five-night Canada cruise.Carnival Fantasy will visit Cozumel and Key West instead of the scheduled call to King’s Wharf, Bermuda. Princess CruisesCaribbean Princess will spend a day at sea on Monday 29 August and visit Halifax on Tuesday 30 August. A scheduled call to St. John has been cancelled.Ports affected by Hurricane IreneHalf Moon Cay Minimal damage has been reported at Holland America’s private island of Half Moon Cay after bearing the brunt of the category three hurricane last Thursday.Cruise Radio reported that all damage can be easily addressed and is expected to be operational for Carnival visits on 4 September with HAL ships returning to the island on 13 October.NassauCruise Radio has reported that the infamous straw market on Bay Street was partially damaged by Hurricane Irene with the only other damage on the island reported as minimal.  Several boats were damaged and two tug boats broke loose during the storm.Royal Caribbean, Carnival and NCL returned to Nassau on Sunday.CocoCayRoyal Caribbean cancelled calls to their private island, Coco Cay in the Bahamas over the weekend.A statement on the line’s website stated that “Regrettably, the island of CocoCay, Bahamas, was impacted by the storm, and we feel our guest’s experience ashore would be disrupted. Because of this, we have cancelled Monarch of the Seas’ call to CocoCay today and Freedom of the Seas’ call to CocoCay tomorrow, August 29.”Great Stirrup CayNCL have a team at Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, evaluating damage and, in the meantime, have cancelled all calls to the island.Eleuthera IslandCruise Radio has reported that there may be damage to Princess Cruises’ private beach located on the southern point of Eleuthera Island.“Princess Cays did have slight damage but we’re confident it will be in full operation for our next call there on September 30,” said a spokesperson for Princess Cruises.Castaway CayDisney Cruise Lines are yet to release information on the status of their private island, Castaway Cay.center_img CocoCay Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Alast_img read more

first_imgAfter conducting research through the Visa Australia and New Zealand Travel Survey, Lonely Planet and Visa have created The Travel Companion; an online travel-planning hub.Research revealed that when planning a trip, more than 30 percent of Australian’s visit friends and family’s social network photo albums for holiday inspiration.Visa Australia country manager Vipin Kalra said Australian’s are passionate about travel and the new website is designed to aid, encourage and support. “We’re thrilled to be able to provide people with tools and information to help them have an even more enjoyable trip, from savings and budgeting tips, to destination ideas and advice from the experts at Lonely Planet.”More than 80 percent of Australians admitted to having at least one yearly trip planned and organised at least three to four months in advance.Individual itineraries can be conceived using The Travel Companion’s ‘Create Your Own Guide’ (CYOG) tool, which allows users to pool together Lonely Planet’s information on some of the world’s best destinations.“The CYOG tool is unique in that it can create a compact and personalised Lonely Planet guide of must-see sites and activities. Travellers can add their own notes and comments and even share their guide via email and social media with friends, family and fellow travellers,” Mr Kalra said.Research showed Australian’s are fond of taking credit, debit and prepaid charge cards overseas as a means of protecting their finances while abroad.With this in mind, Visa and Lonely Planet’s Travel Companion provides tailored information on the best banking options for individual customer finances.  “The Travel Companion will enhance the experience and excitement of planning a trip,” Client Solutions director APAC for Lonely Planet Samantha Finnegan said.“The Create Your Own Guide is a fun way for consumers to access Lonely Planet’s expert advice on what to do and things to see as they plan their next adventure. We’re proud to continue our long-standing partnership with Visa, culminating in this first-of –its-kind travel resource.”In association with the launch of The Travel Companion, Visa is giving Australians the opportunity to win their dream trip by creating their own guide and submitting their best tips. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more says it has experienced a “positive” rebound in bookings in recent years, with Australian bookings hitting a 16-year high.According to the company’s figures, since introducing Japanese resorts to its listings, Aussie bookings have escalated by 25 percent this year compared to 2010.Describing growth as a “very positive outcome” for the snow industry, statistics found the northern island of Hokkaido to be most popular amongst Australian skiers and boarders.“Whilst the growth on the previous year is substantial, with flights and accommodation on certain dates becoming limited throughout the traditional peak period, there’s lots of accommodation available pre Christmas and in March, when the cost of a holiday is well below the peak period,” the company said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

first_imgYouth travel can have both a positive economic and social impact on the world’s destinations, according to research gleaned from the PATA Youth Forum.150 travel industry students and young professionals gathered in Bangkok for the PATA Youth Forum this month to share opinions and views on global travel.The number one incentive for young people to travel is the possibility to “explore other cultures,” WYSE Travel Confederation international relations officer Peter Jordan said.Youth, student and educational travel is estimated to return US$182 billion annually.“Besides the impressive economic impact that youth travel has on the world’s destinations, the social impact is no less important,” Mr Jordan said.“The capacity to enhance global understanding by encouraging young people to travel is considerable too.”The Youth Travel Forum also celebrated the efforts of Marco Polo Hotels senior director of development James Mabey, honouring him with PATA’s Face of the Future 2013.“In today’s fast paced and increasingly interconnected world, young professionals must embrace the spirit of cross-cultural understanding and creative problem solving,” Mr Mabey said.“The future belongs to those young professionals who will boldly challenge tradition and capitalize on the opportunities of our new interdependent global society.”Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T. Positive economic and social impacts abound. last_img read more

first_imghelloworld dominate NTIAIn a continued show of strength, helloworld franchisees and members have dominated the agent and agency awards at the National Travel Industry Awards 2015, winning an impressive 75% of the agent awards and 2 of the prestigious agency awards.CEO Elizabeth Gaines said the recognition is powerful validation of the calibre of helloworld network.“Our agents have been able to prove time and time again why dealing with an experienced travel agent makes the world of difference,” Ms Gaines said. “That commitment to excellence supported by helloworld’s comprehensive value proposition and our commitment to delivering a true multi-channel solution is the helloworld difference. Our success at the 2015 NTIA validates our approach in delivering a real choice for agents, suppliers and consumers.”“Congratulations to all of our winners and to the many helloworld member agents who were named as finalists.”helloworld member agents won 6 of the 8 agent awards and 2 of the 6 ageny awards on offer:·      Jonathan Pichaloff, helloworld Newcastle Corporate, Rookie of the Year (Agent)·      Phil Smethurst, Bicton Travel, Best Travel Consultant (Retail)·      Uschi Howard, The Travel Authority Northern Beaches, Best Travel Agency Manager Retail (Single Location)·      Lisa Tjandi, helloworld Hunter Travel Group, Best Travel Agency Manager Retail (Multi Location)·      Bicton Travel, Best Travel Agency Retail (Single Location)·      Helloworld Hunter Travel Group/RACT Travel, Best Travel Agency Retail (Multi Location)[1]·      Goldman Travel, Best Travel Agency Corporate (Single Location)·      Jaime-Lee Holloway, helloworld Kotara, Emirates Travel Consultant ScholarshipHelloworld’s wholly owned subsidiary Insider Journeys was named Best Speciality Wholesaler which was a significant achievement following the rebranding earlier this year.Source = helloworldlast_img read more

first_imgSource = Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Fairmont Hotels and Resorts to manage historic hotel in Century City, Los AngelesFairmont Hotels and Resorts to manage historic hotel in Century City, Los AngelesLuxury hotel operator Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, now part of the AccorHotels Group, and Next Century Associates today announced the signing of definitive agreements for the revitalization and management of the historic Century Plaza Hotel, located in the heart of Century City in Los Angeles. The iconic, crescent shaped hotel has hosted generations of Hollywood celebrities, foreign dignitaries and every United States President since its opening in 1966. The hotel is currently closed for a meticulous restoration and refurbishment and is slated to re-open as Fairmont Century Plaza, Los Angeles in 2018.The addition of a landmark hotel in a strategic US market supports AccorHotels’ goal of brand growth and expansion, particularly in the luxury space. The signing of this project follows AccorHotels’ 2016 acquisition of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, along with sister brands Raffles and Swissôtel, which broadened the company’s luxury hotel offerings and footprint in North America.“Fairmont is honored to become the guardian of the historic Century Plaza, and along with Michael Rosenfeld and the entire team at Next Century Associates, we look forward to the rebirth of this iconic property,” said Kevin Frid, chief operating officer, North & Central America, AccorHotels. “The Fairmont brand was born in California in 1907 and now, after more than a century of building an international portfolio of award-winning properties, we are thrilled to return to our roots and expand our presence in the Southern California region. Fairmont Century Plaza is an important project, not just for the city and region, but for our globally-recognized brand as well.”The approximately $2.5 billion mixed-use redevelopment project includes approximately 394 guestrooms and 63 branded residences within the original iconic tower, along with two new 46-story luxury residential towers with 290 luxury residences, plus approximately 100,000 square feet of boutique high-street shopping and expanded parking facilities.Originally designed by Minoru Yamasaki, Fairmont Century Plaza will be transformed by world-renowned lead architecture firms Pei Cobb Freed, Gensler and Marmol Radzinger and the internationally acclaimed design group Yabu Pushelberg. The team will restore the hotel’s renowned lobby, connecting it to a series of public plazas and fountains that lead into a central two-acre garden, surrounded by restaurants and retail boutiques.The beloved Los Angeles landmark resides on a six acre site within one of the most prominent neighborhoods in the world. Built on the former backlot of 20th Century Fox Studios, the hotel faces the famous fountains at the intersection of Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Boulevard. The property is surrounded by over 10 million square feet of class ‘A’ offices, residences, restaurants, retail, and entertainment venues, and is adjacent to Beverly Hills, one of the highest grossing retail areas in the United States.Fairmont is expanding its strong partnership with Woodridge Capital, a Los Angeles based multi-disciplined real estate development and Investment Company. The two companies have previously worked together successfully at Fairmont San Francisco and Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii.“We are excited to make history in Los Angeles with the rebirth of the Fairmont Century Plaza,” said Michael Rosenfeld, CEO of Woodridge Capital Partners. “Woodridge and Fairmont have built a strong relationship over the years, with properties that have performed to their utmost in their respective markets. We look forward to creating a new jewel for the residents and visitors of Los Angeles to cherish and enjoy.”Fairmont Century Plaza will add to Fairmont’s broad presence in California, joining an unrivalled collection of spectacular hotels and resorts that include the brand’s flagship hotel – the one that started it all – the iconic Fairmont Miramar San Francisco; Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa; Fairmont San Jose in Silicon Valley; Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel in Berkeley; Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco; Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica; and Fairmont Grand De Mar in San Diego.“California is in our DNA,” added Frid. “The quintessential Californian traits – the sense of relaxed glamor, charisma and sophistication – are exactly what guests consistently encounter at the heart of every Fairmont property around the world. We cannot wait to open these doors in Los Angeles, to celebrate the lineage of this West Coast landmark, and to welcome our guests with authentic red carpet treatment at what will soon be, the breathtaking Fairmont Century Plaza.”With more than 70 hotels worldwide, Fairmont continues to expand globally with recent openings including Fairmont Quasar Istanbul, Fairmont Chengdu in Western China and Fairmont Fujairah in the Middle East. New luxury hotels scheduled to open later in 2017 include Fairmont Amman in Jordan, Fairmont Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Fairmont will also open the newest and most state of the art hotel in Austin, TX later this year.Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is a luxury brand that consistently rates among the best in the world in customer-based rankings such as the TripAdvisor awards, as well as industry and media awards such as the AAA Five Diamond Ratings, the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List, and Travel + Leisure’s 500 World’s Best Hotels.last_img read more

first_imgMövenpick Hotels and Resorts opens first serviced apartment conceptMövenpick Hotels and Resorts opens first serviced apartment conceptLeading Swiss hospitality management company Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts will be launching a brand new serviced apartment property on the 1 March 2017, its second property in the Thai capital – the Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok.The newly built property features 158 serviced apartments and offers long-stay guests a choice of fully furnished studios, 1- and 2- bedroom apartments in Bangkok’s vibrant Ekkamai neighbourhood, an area known for its hip cafes, fine restaurants and boutique shopping options.Built by award-winning Thai developer Nusasiri Plc., Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok is the global hotel group’s second offering in Thailand’s gateway city, and stands as a flagship for the brand’s contemporary serviced apartment concept in Asia.“We are delighted to partner with such a well established name in Thai real estate as we extend Mövenpick’s reach beyond hotels and resorts into the fast growing serviced apartment sector,” says Andrew Langdon, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts Global Chief Development Officer and Senior Vice President Asia. “The high quality of finishing and variety of spacious layouts, combined with our Swiss attention to detail is sure to make Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok a high-demand option in an area that’s already popular with long-term expatriates.”Units range in size from 32 sqm to 75 sqm with bright, contemporary décor and a choice of sweeping city views through floor-to-ceiling windows. All the residences come fully fitted, including kitchen equipment, also feature flat screen TVs offering numerous cable channels in multiple languages and complimentary WiFi.Beyond their private spaces, residents enjoy access to a generous 25-metre outdoor saltwater swimming pool, an indoor rooftop fitness centre and a modest but well equipped meetings and functions space.A varied selection of dishes is offered throughout the day at the on-site restaurant, while for those who prefer to venture out there’s a regular shuttle service which passes through the area’s main shopping and dining zones to drop off guests at the nearest BTS sky train station.“With seven unit types to choose from guests can find the perfect base to suit their personal lifestyle needs,” explains Andrew Langdon. “Whether they prefer a large living space and kitchen, a spacious guest bedroom, sunrise or sunset views, there’s a unit to suit every preference at Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok.”The celebrate the opening of the brand’s first serviced residences in Asia, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts is offering special opening rates of only THB 30,000++ per month for a One Bedroom residence. What’s more, every booking made before 30 April 2017 will receive a complimentary 2- night stay in Khao Yai with dinner included for 2 people.For more information, visit About Mövenpick Hotels & ResortsMövenpick Hotels & Resorts, an international upscale hotel management company with over 16,000 staff members, is represented in 25 countries with 83 hotels, resorts and Nile cruisers currently in operation. Around 20 properties are planned or under construction, including those in Chiang Mai (Thailand), Al Khobar (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and Nairobi (Kenya).Focusing on expanding within its core markets of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts specialises in business and conference hotels, as well as holiday resorts, all reflecting a sense of place and respect for their local communities. Of Swiss heritage and with headquarters in central Switzerland (Baar), Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts is passionate about delivering premium service and culinary enjoyment – all with a personal touch. Committed to supporting sustainable environments, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has become the most Green Globe-certified hotel company in the world. The hotel company is owned by Mövenpick Holding (66.7%) and the Kingdom Group (33.3%). For more information, please visit www.movenpick.comSource = Mövenpick Hotels & Resortslast_img read more

first_imgTourism targeted as Northern Australia’s next super-growth sectorThe Federal Opposition’s commitment to inject $1 billion into a Northern Australia Tourism Infrastructure Fund if elected will ensure the tourism industry can reach its potential to be the region’s next super-growth sector, the Tourism & Transport Forum said today.TTF Chief Executive Margy Osmond said Labor’s announcement today it remains committed to last year’s pledge to establish the fund recognised the critical importance of tourism to Northern Australia’s economic and employment growth.“Tourism is the most effective and sustainable way to support Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia as they transition and diversify from a post-mining boom economy,” Ms Osmond said.“Tourism truly is the hope of the side in Northern Australia in terms of job creation and ongoing development.“We need to supercharge Northern Australia with continued, targeted investment by state and federal governments, and this commitment is a very welcome first step.“As part of this commitment to Northern Australia, TTF would also like to see a focus on Indigenous employment and entrepreneurship through the Concessional Loans Scheme, to boost investment and jobs growth in this critical and iconic part of the world.“Governments at all levels cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to supporting the growth of the tourism sector.“Much of Australia’s tourism growth in recent years is due to the rise of the middle class in China, but we are at risk of the sector not realising its full potential with successive governments’ unfortunately failing to invest in the tourism infrastructure needed to support its growth. This Fund will make cash available to help address these needs.“Tourism is particularly crucial to the growth of the Queensland economy, generating $27.7 billion in consumption as well as directly contributing around $11.2 billion to total Gross State Product and employing more than 135,000 people across the state.“Tourism is the number one economic issue in Queensland and should be the centrepiece of the upcoming state election.“Shadow Tourism Minister Anthony Albanese must be congratulated for his long-standing support of the tourism sector and to growing tourism in Northern Australia.”Source = Tourism & Transport Forumlast_img read more

first_imgThe World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the European Travel Commission (ETC) recently convened the Roundtable ‘Exploring Health Tourism’ in Budapest, Hungary, where a group of international experts gathered to deliberate on the growing segment of Wellness and Medical tourism.The meeting was held with the support of the Hungarian Tourism Agency. Participants comprised experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Union (EU), the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the European Spas Association, the Global Wellness Institute and Spaincares among others. Representatives from the health-related tourism sector from Hungary, Lithuania, Malaysia and Mexico attended the event.The discussions were based on the ongoing research on health tourism by ETC and UNWTO. “The need to better understand an emerging, global, complex and rapidly changing phenomenon such as wellness and medical tourism has become essential to tap into its growth potential,” said Márcio Favilla, UNWTO Executive Director for Operational Programmes and Institutional Relations.“For ETC and UNWTO, it is very important that we provide tourism authorities, managers and experts with a better understanding of the health tourism phenomenon and  jointly cooperate to identify and provide a consistent terminology that lays the foundations for this promising sector,” said Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of ETC.last_img read more

first_img National home prices declined 1.0 percent between December 2011 and January 2012, according to the latest home price index from “”CoreLogic””: It represents the sixth consecutive month the company has recorded a month-over-month drop in residential property values.[IMAGE]The stretch of depreciation is much longer when comparing year-over-year numbers. Based on data through the end of January, annual declines in home prices have continued for 18 months straight by CoreLogic’s assessment. The company is reporting a 3.1 percent falloff in home prices between January 2011 and January 2012. [COLUMN_BREAK]├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£Although home price declines are slowly improving and not far from the bottom, home prices are down to nearly the same levels as 10 years ago,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. The 1.0 percent monthly and 3.1 percent annual declines seen in January include transactions involving distressed properties. CoreLogic provides a secondary set of results which illustrate just how much distressed properties such as short sales and REOs are weighing down home values. Excluding distressed sales, month-over-month prices posted an increase of 0.7 percent between December 2011 and January 2012, and year-over-year prices slipped by just 0.9 percent. Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest _appreciation_ in January were: South Dakota (+5.7 percent), North Dakota (+4.0 percent), West Virginia (+4.0 percent), Montana (+3.6 percent), and Michigan (+3.0 percent).States with the greatest _depreciation_ during the month included: Illinois (-8.7 percent), Nevada (-8.0 percent), Delaware (-7.9 percent), Alabama (-7.7 percent), and Georgia (-7.5 percent). in Data, Origination March 9, 2012 498 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies CoreLogic Home Prices Investors Lenders & Servicers Service Providers 2012-03-09 Carrie Baycenter_img CoreLogic: Home Prices Show Sixth Consecutive Decline Sharelast_img read more

first_img33 More Brokerages Join Zillow Pro for Brokers Beta Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers Zillow 2012-11-15 Tory Barringer November 15, 2012 409 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technologycenter_img “”Zillow, Inc.””:, a leading real estate information marketplace based in Seattle, Washington, announced that 33 additional real estate brokerages have signed on to participate in Zillow Pro for Brokers. In total, the number of participating brokerages is at 48.[IMAGE]Zillow Pro for Brokers, now in beta, is a free, five-point program designed to improve listings accuracy and increase the visibility of listing agents. In addition, it provides better reporting and a powerful contact follow-up system.[COLUMN_BREAK]The new partnerships include several branches of “”Coldwell Banker””:, “”Prudential””:, and “”RE/MAX””:, among others.””As Zillow continues to forge strong partnerships with real estate brokerages across the country, we’re happy to welcome these new partners to Zillow Pro for Brokers,”” said Greg Schwartz, Zillow’s chief revenue officer. “”We look forward to welcoming many more partners in the weeks and months to come.””””As one of the original brokerages in the program, our agent’s responses have been extremely positive. They are thrilled to see their branding and contact information prominently displayed on their listings,”” said Dan Forsman, president and CEO of “”Prudential Georgia Realty””: “”We also are updating our listings on Zillow multiple times a day, so our agents don’t have to worry about compliance issues or potential complaints from a client.””Zillow is currently accepting inquiries from interested brokerages at Sharelast_img read more

first_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Homebuilders Housing Starts Housing Supply Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2013-02-14 Krista Franks Brock While the housing market is showing signs of improvement and construction is starting to pick up, one real estate consulting firm has noticed a somewhat substantial divide between housing starts and housing completions and points to labor as the major contributing factor. [IMAGE]Single-family housing starts have risen 24 percent year-over-year, while single-family housing completions have risen just 9 percent, according to “”John Burns Real Estate Consulting””: This 15 percent difference across the nation varies by region with the greatest spread occurring in the West and the smallest in the Northeast. In the West, single-family housing starts are up 33 percent, while completions are up 10 percent. The South has experienced a 24 percent rise in housing starts and a 7 percent rise in completions. [COLUMN_BREAK]The Midwest also reported a year-over-year increase in housing starts of 24 percent but paired that with a 14 percent rise in housing completions for a slightly smaller spread of -10 percent. The Northeast posted the smallest spread between starts and completions while also posting the smallest growth in both categories. Housing starts increased 12 percent; housing completions increased 7 percent, leaving a -5 percent spread. John Burns Real Estate points to two causes for these disparate sets of numbers in each region of the country, labor and materials. Housing starts have already risen 100 percent back from their trough during the economic downturn, while construction employment is up a mere 3.3 percent. “”Trades that took it on the chin during the downturn will need to gain confidence in the recovery and see wages increase before expanding their payrolls,”” John Burns Real Estate stated in a recent newsletter. Labor availability will not return overnight. Currently, a ripening Mexican economy and immigration restrictions in the U.S. are working to limit the availability of day laborers in the construction industry–one that is heavily dependent on Hispanic labor, the firm said.John Burns Consulting advises builders to “”model labor cost increases into their 2013 business plans and expect delays in the field as the gears of the housing recovery take time to align.”” Share Low Labor Availability Slowing Housing Constructioncenter_img February 14, 2013 417 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicinglast_img read more

first_img Bureau of Labor Statistics Federal Reserve Jobs Labor Department 2014-08-01 Tory Barringer Job Growth Wanes in July; Unemployment Rate Edges Up Share in Data, Government, Headlines, Newscenter_img August 1, 2014 529 Views Updated.U.S. payrolls grew less than expected in July, a potential sign that the labor market recovery might be cooling following an early summer hiring spike.According to the Department of Labor, the economy added 209,000 jobs last month, coming in under the 233,000 predicted by economists. The national unemployment rate ticked up from 6.1 percent to 6.2 percent.While weaker than anticipated, July’s payroll figures mark the sixth consecutive month that employment has grown by at least 200,000, the longest streak since 1997.Meanwhile, payrolls for May and June were revised to reflect slightly stronger growth, coming up to increases of 229,000 and 298,000, respectively.The biggest gains in July were seen in professional and business services (+47,000 jobs), manufacturing (+28,000), retail trade (+27,000), and construction (+22,000).As of July, nearly 9.7 million people in the United States were counted as unemployment, an increase of 200,000 from June. The change reflects a surge in people returning to the labor market, which brought the labor participation rate up to 62.9 percent.In less encouraging news: Out of those Americans who are unemployed, nearly a third have been jobless for more than 27 weeks. At the same time, about 7.5 million Americans are employed part-time for economic reasons (such as having their hours cut back), while an addition 2.2 million are “marginally attached,” meaning they’re not in the labor force but have looked for a job sometime in the last year. About a third of that group are classified as “discouraged”—not currently looking for work because they believe there is nothing for them.The July report comes during a big week in economic news. On Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported annualized GDP growth of 4.0 percent in the second quarter, a sharp turn from the 2.1 percent contraction reported in the first quarter. While the Q2 estimate is likely to come down in future revisions, analysts still took it as a sign of a reversal of momentum for the economy.Also on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced plans to continue tapering its monthly asset purchases, keeping its policy on track to close by the end of 2014.Though the latest data indicates there’s still some slack in the labor market, analysts see little reason for the Fed to veer from its current path.”[T]here is nothing here that changes our view that the Fed will begin to raise rates in March next year, a little earlier than most expect,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist for Capital Economics.Among other indicators: The average workweek for all employees on nonfarm payrolls was 34.5 hours, unchanged for the fifth straight month. Meanwhile, average hourly earnings just barely inched up to $24.45.last_img read more

first_img June 3, 2015 527 Views in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, Origination, Servicing, Uncategorized New Legislation to Provide Main Street Bank Relief and Consumer Protection Community Lender Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act of 2015 Democrats House Financial Services Committee Senate Banking Committee 2015-06-03 Staff Writercenter_img Democratic Members on the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees announced in a press release that new legislation will provide targeted relief to small financial institutions and protection for consumers. This legislation was introduced in both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate and has the unanimous support of Democratic Members of the respective committees.Ranking Members Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Maxine Waters (D-California) joined Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) and Rep. John Carney (D-Delaware) announced the introduction of this new legislation.“There is no reason why Democrats and Republicans can’t pass targeted legislation today that would give community lenders relief and be signed into law,” said Brown. “Main Street financial institutions shouldn’t be held hostage to an ideological attack on the Wall Street reform law.”This new measure titled “Community Lender Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act of 2015,” will provide community banks and credit unions with relief without putting consumers and the economy in harm’s way, the financial committee reported.The House of Representatives have already passed the many provisions of this new rule with bipartisan support, the Democrats noted. In addition to relief for Main Street financial institutions, the measure also includes a number of key provisions to increase consumer protections for service members and renters.“Our unity behind this legislation is an unequivocal statement of Democratic support for small banks and credit unions, which are on the front lines of lending in our communities,” said Waters. “This measure represents a compromise that takes all perspectives into account, by providing targeted relief to real Main Street institutions while increasing protections for servicemembers and vulnerable communities. Our approach is in stark contrast to House and Senate Republicans, who have used the concerns of community banks to push dramatic changes to Dodd-Frank.”New legislation will also allow banks and credit unions that have less than $10 billion in assets relief from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Qualified Mortgage rule, the committee members said. This will exempt certain loans from its requirements as long as these intuitions do not sell or securitize those loans.“We’re introducing a common sense bill that can actually pass the Senate, House, and be signed into law,” said Sen. Heitkamp. “We need solid, realistic reforms that support community banks and credit unions so they can help families, businesses, and farmers gets access to loans and capital, and that’s what this bill accomplishes. It’s telling that every Democrat on both committees supports this bill–we come from varying degrees of the political spectrum—as it was through compromise and open dialogue that we were able to reach an agreement.”In addition, the new rule would also protect consumers with a new method by giving the CFPB supervision and enforcement authority over a number of consumer protection provisions of the Service Member Civil Relief Act, according to the new legislation. The measure would also make permanent expired provisions to protect tenants from eviction when their landlord or property owner has entered foreclosure.“This bill will go a long way toward ensuring access to credit and enabling community banks to better serve their customers while retaining and strengthening core consumer protections,” said Rep. Carney. “Dodd Frank made a lot of important changes to our banking system, but there’s more work to do. Our legislation fine-tunes Dodd Frank so it works as intended.”Click here to view the Community Lender Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act of 2015 Sharelast_img read more

first_img Share July 15, 2016 514 Views Mortgage Applications Mortgage Refinances New York Fed 2016-07-15 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Newscenter_img Consumers’ experiences in the credit market have improved compared to earlier in the year, but at the same time consumers seem to be more pessimistic about their prospects for future credit approval—particularly with access to mortgage credit, according to the New York Fed’s SCE (Survey of Consumer Expectations) Credit Access Survey released Friday.Rejection rates declined overall from 20.9 percent in the previous SCE Credit Access Survey in February down to 19.3 percent, near the all-time series low of 19.2 percent reached in June 2015. The decline was driven by lower credit score respondents (lower with a credit score lower than 680).All credit types—credit card, credit card limit increase, auto loan—experienced declines in rejection rates since February’s survey except for housing-related debt. For mortgage applications, the rejected rate shot up from 5.7 percent in February to 10.3 percent in the survey released Friday.  Mortgage applications experienced a similar increase in the last five months, from 9.7 percent up to 17.3 percent, according to the New York Fed. Even with the substantial hikes, these rejection rates are still below their 2015 levels, the New York Fed reported.The spike in the number of rejections for mortgage applications and mortgage refi applications may explain the drop in expectations for being approved for a mortgage loan or a refinance. The perceived likelihood of a mortgage application being rejected (conditional upon applying) has risen by 5 percentage points since October 2015 up to 39.9 percent, according to the survey.Still, the fear of rejection is apparently not going to deter consumers from applying for a mortgage refinance. While the average likelihood of applying for specific kinds of credit over the next 12 months was little changed, the expected likelihood of applying for mortgage refinancing spiked from 8.7 percent up to 11.6 percent—and the increase was prevalent among all age and credit score groups, the New York Fed reported.Click here to view the entire survey. Consumers More Pessimistic About Mortgage Credit Accesslast_img read more

first_img in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Secondary Market Sales of homes priced at more than $2 million declined 16% year-over-year last quarter, marking the second-consecutive quarter of decline and the biggest drop in luxury sales since 2010, according to a Redfin report.Redfin compiles the data by tracking home sales in more than 1,000 U.S. cities, excluding New York City, and defines a home as “luxury” if it’s among the top 5% most expensive homes sold in the quarter.The price of homes in the remaining 95% of the market rose 2.7% year-over-year to an average of $300,000 in the first quarter, continuing six straight years of increases.Declines in home sales, though, are not indicative of the available inventory. The report states that the amount of homes priced at more than $2 million increased for the fourth-consecutive quarter by 14%. The amount of luxury homes continues to rebound after supplies declined 10% in 2017.“Because homeowners can’t deduct as much mortgage interest as they used to be able to, the calculus has changed when it comes to buying a home, especially an expensive one,” said Daryl Fairweather, Chief Economist at Redfin. “Although the new mortgage rule applies to everyone in the country, high earners in states with high income taxes like California and Massachusetts saw their tax bills surge. Not only do the new rules make it less desirable to purchase a multi-million dollar home in high-tax states, it has also motivated some people—especially those with big incomes and big housing budgets—to consider moving to places like Florida, Washington or Nevada, which have no state income tax.”Homes priced at more than $2 million spent an average of 83 days on the market, compared to 69 days for homes priced under $2 million. The amount of homes sold above the listing price for luxury homes was just 1%, a steep drop from the 18% for non-luxury homes.The news isn’t all bad for luxury homeowners, however, as prices for high-priced homes fell in just one-third of U.S. cities.Boston reported a 22.4% decline in luxury home prices in the first quarter. Other markets that saw decreases were Newport Beach, California (-22.4%); Miami (-19.3%), San Jose, California (-2.7); and San Francisco (-0.3%).Two Florida cities—West Palm Beach and St. Petersburg—recorded the nation’s biggest increases at 89.6% and 62.3%, respectively. Luxury home prices in West Palm Beach skyrocketed to more than $2.8 million. May 1, 2019 1,264 Views A Big Drop for High-Priced Homescenter_img 2019 Housing Market Exisiting-Home Sales high prices Redfin 2019-05-01 Mike Albanese Sharelast_img read more