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Strike at Berlin airports called for Wednesday

first_imgStrike at Berlin airports called for Wednesday Tags: Airports, Germany, Travel Alert Tuesday, February 7, 2017 The Canadian Press BERLIN — A union representing ground staff is calling on its members to go on strike at Berlin’s two airports Wednesday.The ver.di union says the strike will take place between 5 a.m. (0400 GMT) and 11 a.m. (1000 GMT) at the German capital’s Tegel and Schoenefeld airports.It warned Tuesday that air travellers should expect severe disruptions and possible flight cancellations.The union is demanding higher wages and better conditions for its 2,000 members at the airports.Ver.di said strikes at other German airports were possible and could be announced at short notice.center_img Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted bylast_img read more


Canadian residents save with Holland Americas Canada Super Sale

first_imgCanadian residents save with Holland America’s ‘Canada Super Sale’ Thursday, April 13, 2017 Tags: Holland America Line Travelweek Group Posted by SEATTLE — Discounts for Alaska cruises and Land+Sea Journeys worth more than Can$1,000 per person are the first of many deals for Canadian passengers available with Holland America Line.The cruise line’s Canada Super Sale covers a variety of cruises and destinations around the world across its fleet of 14 ships. The promotion kicks off with special rates on the line’s Alaska cruises and Land+Sea Journeys, combining a Holland America Line Alaska cruise with an overland exploration to Denali National Park and the Yukon.Additional cruise itineraries will be available through the promotion.“Our Canada Super Sale is the perfect opportunity for Canadian residents to take advantage of fantastic savings and book their dream cruise with Holland America Line,” said Holland America Line President, Orlando Ashford. “This year marks our 70th anniversary of Alaska exploration, so it’s fitting that we start the sale with some great rates on our Alaska product. Cruisers should book soon because the savings are capacity controlled and won’t last long.”More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upThrough the Canada Super Sale, ms Zaandam’s 14-day Land+Sea Journey can be booked for $3,599 per person for an interior stateroom, $3,899 for an oceanview and $5,999 for a suite, representing savings of up to $1,300.Seven-day Alaska and Canada/New England cruises start at $899 per person and a week-long Bermuda sailing starts at $799 per person. Taxes, fees and port expenses are additional. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more


Virtuoso now has 1000 locations worldwide up 25 year over year

first_img Friday, February 2, 2018 Posted by Virtuoso now has 1,000+ locations worldwide, up 25% year over year Tags: Trend Watch, Virtuoso NEW YORK — Last year was “one for the books” for Virtuoso and now the luxury travel agency network says it is entering 2018 bolstered by record 25% year over year growth in its global membership.While Virtuoso had been steadily growing its membership base, in 2017 it soared to more than 1,000 agency locations in more than 45 countries, accounting for 17,500 travel advisors, a 15% increase.Virtuoso says 64% of that growth came from existing agencies.Virtuoso also reported a 12% increase in annual network production, bringing its total sales to US$23.7 billion for 2017.Virtuoso says its website,, “played a significant role” in driving sales. The site gets more than 150,000 unique monthly consumer visitors, which led to over 150,000 leads for its advisors in 2017.Virtuoso rolled out its hotel booking tool, available to consumers via, in April 2017.Virtuoso says its sales success was also boosted by a focus on professional development. In 2017 more than 10,000 affiliated advisors participated in over 150,000 available courses, resulting in a 19% increase in completed courses and a 40% increase in advisor participation.More news:  ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growthVirtuoso has also announced that to date, 230 new advisors from 98 Virtuoso agencies have gone through its Virtuoso Certified Travel Advisor (VCTA) accelerated training. After completing the course, these new entrants averaged 74% more in production than their peers.For 2017 Virtuoso shared an 87% increase in partner overrides, a record high worldwide. More than 80% of Virtuoso’s members are small to medium agencies.Virtuoso says it also developing communities “to bring together like-minded individuals for increased awareness, education and, ultimately, sales with certain travel niches”. One year after rolling out its Virtuoso Wellness community, participants are seeing a 32% increase in their sales, according to the network. Participants in the longer-established Virtuoso Adventure community saw a 15% increase in sales over their non-participant counterparts.Last year also saw Virtuoso continue with its goal of establishing a complementary brand that leads to consumer preference. “Putting [our] member agencies front and center is always the top priority,” says the group, adding that its PR efforts yielded more than 12,000 stories worldwide for 2017 – an 83% increase over the previous year.center_img Share Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Adios white legend

first_imgNo related posts. From the print editionJack Donnelly | Special to The Tico TimesI first came to Costa Rica in the fall of 1969 (gasp!). I had just completed my undergraduate degree in Mexico and I was enjoying a window of time before I had to deal with the Selective Service. The plan was to travel by bus as far south as my money would take me (Bolivia, as it turned out). My field of study had been cultural anthropology and I had done some field work in rural areas, so I was interested in learning about the practices of indigenous peoples and peasant populations in each country that I visited. When I asked about native populations here, I was told something along the lines of, “There were only six of them here when the Spanish arrived, and they didn’t like the way the neighborhood was going, so they moved to France.” Well, that may be hyperbole, but the message was clear: No Mesoamericans here in Costa Rica, just us Europeans. I had no way of knowing it at the time, but that was my first encounter with what Costa Rican historians call “The White Legend:” the belief that Costa Rica is (and should continue to be) white and European. The institutionalized denial inherent in this myth even formed the basis for important government policies. The legend is alive and well today, although weakened by better information and assertive minorities.One unfortunate result of this ideology has been the consistent discounting of rich oral traditions. Traditional Tico practices originated from many sources including Europe, but also Amerindian cultures; Spanish colonial heritage; African-Caribbean influences and Asian immigrant customs. Many people would add the U.S. and modern Latin America to this list. Once adopted, they evolved, blended, and became entirely Costa Rican.The colorful manifestations of this rich folk culture are too numerous to list, but some particularly intriguing examples include:La Yegüita -– This complex festival blends the Catholic veneration of the Virgen of Guadalupe with a Chorotega Indian legend about a black mare, seen as an intervention of the Virgen, stopping a mortal fight between twin brothers in 1653. The celebration takes place in Nicoya, Guanacaste, on December 12.La Nigüenta – A folk figurine and industrial-strength good luck charm (agüizote) that was once found in almost every Tico household. The figure is of a small naked girl picking parasites out of her toes. La Nigüenta is unique to Costa Rica and is an enigmatic and compelling cultural motif.El Juego de los Diablitos – The indigenous Brunkas of the coastal Southern Zone perform this elaborate enactment of their history and cultural lore in two locations every year: the indigenous reserves of Boruca and Curré. It is a dramatic and elaborate three-day event with exotic wooden masks, costumes and music.In addition to the above cited examples, there are numerous fiestas patronales (town celebrations); Holy Week reenactments replete with Roman legions; topes, the impressive horse parades; Tico-style toros; cabalgatas (horseback excursions); boyeros (oxcart displays); and many more culturally significant events.Costa Rica is well known for its eco-tourism, sandy beaches, surfing, adventure activities, bird watching and lovely climate. It’s time to jettison The White Legend and adopt an appreciation of the full cultural landscape: Costa Rica has its own rich mosaic of folk culture. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Gay couples come out to apply for domestic partnerships

first_imgAs cameras flashed and clicked and reporters stood on tip toes to get a look, Alberto González and Lorenzo Serrano arrived at the San José Family Court Wednesday morning to turn in their application for a domestic partnership.“This is simply one step,” González said. “We’re going to keep fighting for more because we are Costa Rican citizens and, I stress, we have the same rights as any other citizen.”After living together for six and a half years, the two young men were among the first to apply for same-sex domestic partnerships in Costa Rica. Other gay couples applied in Heredia, Desamparados, Cañas and Guadalupe, according to Marco Castillo, president of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization Diversity Movement.Gay couples appeared at family courts one day after a group of Catholic bishops released a statement imploring judges, lawmakers and the president to quash any legal recognition of same-sex partnerships here.While González said he saw today as a victory for LGBT rights in Costa Rica, Ana Cristina Binda, who applied for a domestic partnership with her partner of 10 years, Fiorella Burno, was more cautious.“On one side, I’m happy because something is happening but on the other, I have reservations because until they approve this we can’t celebrate anything,” Binda told reporters today on the courthouse steps.Couples had to present documents to verify their age, marital status and proof that they have lived together for at least three years to apply for the unions, Castillo said.Domestic partnerships provide couples the right to establish shared property, inheritance, and hospital and prison visitation rights. Castillo said that domestic partnership applications for straight couples could take up to a year to process.The Diversity Movement president said that four other same-sex couples had contacted him about applying for domestic partnerships.Many critics believe these applications have little chance of passing in the courts, but the couples today were unbowed by the challenge.“If no one does anything, then nothing will ever change,” Binda said. Response to bishops’ letterBoth couples cited “religious fundamentalists” as the country’s greatest source of anti-gay sentiment and had strong words for the Catholic bishops’ open letter attacking legal recognition of same-sex unions penned by Bishop Óscar Fernandez of Puntarenas, president of the Episcopal Conference, an organization of Catholic bishops.In the letter, Fernández appealed to all branches of government to “defend the constitutional principles governing Costa Ricans, namely, that marriage between a man and a woman is the essential foundation of the family – the natural and fundamental unit of society.”In the same stroke as Fernández expressed his “profound respect” for homosexuals he wrote that there is no way the church can “approve of homosexual behavior nor the legalization of homosexual unions.”“Who is the Episcopal Conference to say, ‘your rights don’t matter?’ Why do my rights have to be limited because of the religious beliefs of other people?” González asked.Bruno, the president of Diverse Families, an LGBT family organization, opined that the Catholic Church’s stance on LGBT rights pushes people away, citing her own disconnection with the church, despite her spiritual beliefs.Expressing her dismay with “perverse” anti-gay statements made by the out-going archbishop of San José, Hugo Barrantes, in an interview with the daily La Nación, Bruno said she hoped his replacement, José Rafael Quirós, would be more open to sexual diversity.“I would tell him, listen, don’t let yourself get influenced by stereotypes; listen, there are many people who, despite being ‘diverse,’ have a vision of faith and religion that would be lovely to share with him.”  Facebook Comments Lorenzo Serrano (far left) and Alberto González (center left) applied for their domestic partnership earlier Wednesday morning in San José and joined Fiorella Bruno and Ana Cristina Binda in Heredia in solidarity. With them Marco Castillo (center), president of the Diversity Movement. No related posts. Alberto Fontlast_img read more

Obama to host Central America leaders for immigration talks next Friday

first_imgRelated posts:Central America’s ‘Northern Triangle’ leaders to ask Obama for US aid to stem immigration  Central American kids risk everything on road to US Only 108 child migrants given US asylum in 2014 Central American leaders offer plan to slow child migrant surge U.S. President Barack Obama will host next week the presidents of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to discuss how to stem the flow of tens of thousands of immigrant children across the U.S. border.The tide of unaccompanied minors from the three countries has triggered a border and political crisis, prompting Obama to warn parents in Central America not to send their kids to the United States in search of a better life.The talks on July 25 will focus on “how the United States and Central American governments can promote safe, legal, and orderly migration between the four nations,” the White House said in a statement.The meeting will bring together Obama, Guatemala’s Otto Pérez, Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras and Salvador Sánchez Cerén of El Salvador.The White House said the talks also would center on promoting development, economic growth and security in the three countries with a view to remove incentives for mass illegal migration into the United States through Mexico.The surge of illegal child immigrants over the southwestern border of the United States has turned into a major political headache for Obama and helped to doom any remaining hopes that Congress will pass comprehensive immigration reform, his most important remaining domestic priority, this year.Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the mounting crisis that has seen 57,000 unaccompanied minors — some fleeing violence, poverty and persecution at home — cross the southwestern U.S. border since October.Obama visited Texas last week and publicly warned parents in Central America not to send their children to the United States on a trek often organized by smuggling rings and criminal groups.He ignored Republican demands to visit the border himself, saying he was more interested in finding solutions than photo-ops.Republicans have, however, balked at Obama’s plan — charging it wrongly prioritizes dealing with illegal immigrants who have already crossed the border rather than deterring new entrants. Facebook Commentslast_img read more


Arcadios World

first_imgRelated posts:Arcadio’s World Arcadio’s World Arcadio’s World Arcadio’s World Facebook Commentslast_img


Big deal…beautiful lot For Sale in La Alegría de Siquirres

first_imgRelated posts:Colonial estate in a Gated Community for sale in Hacienda Los Reyes Guácima, Alajuela Precious house for sale in San Joaquín de Flores, Heredia Contemporary First Floor Condominum, Escazú, For Rent Elegant Modern Home in Palmares, For Sale Previous Image info heading info content Price: $147,000Province: LimónCantón: SiquirresLand: 8155m2La Alegría de  Siquirres has seen a lot of development in recent years due to its location, landscapes, rivers, excellent land, cool climate and security. This property could generate a lot of profit with a good business in a growing economy. Finding a property of this nature and quality is difficult, but if you’re looking to invest, this property is versatile and a great place for your business, your house or both. It’s a wonderfully located property as it is near to Route 32 (San José- Limón) as well as Route 415 (Turrialba – La Alegría) along with the alternate route of Route 10 (Cartago – Siquirres), which allows you to connect not only with neighbors, but anyone in the region. If you are looking for an investment opportunity, look no further!See this and other listings in the new Tico Times Real Estate section here.COD: 26-18Email: realestate@ticotimes.netPhone: +(506) 2258-1558 Facebook Comments Next Imagelast_img read more

Nigeria paying 800 million to oil suppliers to end crisis

first_imgLAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s outgoing government has agreed to pay a debt of $800 million to resolve a months-long fuel crisis crippling the economy days before the inauguration of a new president in the country, oil suppliers said Wednesday.Chaos reigned Tuesday at Nigerian airports where most flights were cancelled. Foreign airlines flew to other African countries to refuel. Cars and other vehicles formed queues two and three deep blocking roads for more than 2 kilometers (a mile) outside of gas stations. Attendants turned away people carrying yellow cans to buy kerosene for cooking. There was none. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober There was no immediate statement from the finance minister, who accused the suppliers of holding Nigeria to ransom over the disputed debt, bemoaning “so much fraud allegations and scams in this business of oil marketing.”Nigeria’s government, hit by halved prices for the petroleum that provides 80 percent of its revenue and a massive slump in its naira currency, has been borrowing to pay salaries.Suppliers, hit by tightened credit lines and naira repayments to pay dollar debts, worried they would not be paid by the incoming government of Muhammadu Buhari, who has pledged to fight endemic corruption.Buhari’s party accused the outgoing government of President Goodluck Jonathan of sabotage to ensure it inherits “a nation in crisis.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Top Stories Comments   Share   Top holiday drink recipes Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Men’s health affects baby’s health too Banks started closing at lunchtime on Monday and cell phone companies warned they would be forced to shut down service countrywide for lack of diesel to fuel generators.Nigeria — Africa’s biggest oil producer– generates more than 2 million barrels of petroleum a day but imports the refined product because its refineries are not maintained. A woeful national grid that offers only a few hours of electricity on a good day failed to generate any electricity recently because of shortages of thermal gas to fire its generators. That leaves all businesses and homes that can afford it dependent on diesel-powered generators. The country frequently suffers fuel shortages, but the disruption caused by the latest is unprecedented.President-elect Buhari’s party accused President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration of sabotage to ensure it inherits “a nation in crisis.”Months of backlog mean the shortages still will be biting when dozens of presidents and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are scheduled to arrive for Friday’s inauguration.The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria said the finance minister agreed Monday to pay them $800 million. It said companies started distributing oil Tuesday and unpaid tanker drivers stopped striking. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

Report Social Security overpaid disability benefits by 17B

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober They used the results to estimate that Social Security made a total of $16.8 billion in overpayments during the 10-year period.The study concluded that “the agency could do more to prevent the most common overpayments.”One man was convicted of fraud in 2005 while he was getting benefits under his father’s Social Security number. Minors can do this if they have legitimate disabilities, though this man was found to be working and hiding his income, the study said.A judge ordered him to repay nearly $18,000. He repaid $550, the study said.In 2013, Social Security approved a new disability claim for the man, under his Social Security number. The agency is supposed to withhold part of his payments while he repays the old debt. But the agency never did because he was receiving the new benefits under a different Social Security number, the report said.Congress has been looking into Social Security’s disability programs for years. Democrats note that the programs help keep millions of disabled workers and their families out of poverty. Republicans have mostly focused on waste, fraud and abuse.In January, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., criticized the federal government for not doing an adequate job policing a system he says needs reform. Paul, who is running for the Republican nomination for president, joked that “half the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts.” New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies WASHINGTON (AP) — Social Security overpaid disability beneficiaries by nearly $17 billion over the past decade, a government watchdog said Friday, raising alarms about the massive program just as it approaches the brink of insolvency.Many payments went to people who earned too much money to qualify for benefits, or to those no longer disabled. Payments also went to people who had died or were in prison.In all, nearly half of the 9 million people receiving disability payments were overpaid, according to the results of a 10-year study by the Social Security Administration’s inspector general. Social Security was able to recoup about $8.1 billion, but it often took years to get the money back, the study said.“Every dollar misallocated is a dollar lost for those who truly need it most,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “Today’s report shows the inability of the Social Security Administration to properly safeguard payments, which has no doubt contributed to speeding the fund toward exhaustion.”The trust fund that supports Social Security’s disability program is projected to run out of money late next year, triggering automatic benefit cuts, unless Congress acts. The looming deadline has lawmakers feuding over a solution that may have to come in the heat of a presidential election.The program’s financial problems go beyond the issue of overpayments — Social Security disability has paid out more in benefits than it has collected in payroll taxes every year for the past decade. But concerns about waste, fraud and abuse are complicating the debate in Congress over how to address the program’s larger financial problems.A spokesman for the Social Security Administration said the agency has a high accuracy rate for its payments and a comprehensive debt collection program for overpayments. ___Online:Social Security: Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter: © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories center_img “Join the club,” Paul said. “Everybody over 40 has a back pain.”Advocacy groups called the remarks offensive.Social Security paid out $142 billion in disability benefits last year. Unless Congress acts, the trust fund that supports the disability program will run dry sometime during the final three months of 2016, according to projections by the trustees who oversee Social Security. At that point, the program will collect only enough payroll taxes to pay 81 percent of benefits.That would trigger an automatic 19 percent cut in benefit payments. The average monthly payment for a disabled worker is $1,165, or about $14,000 a year.An easy fix is available. Congress could redirect payroll tax revenue from Social Security’s much larger retirement program, as lawmakers have done before. But Republicans in Congress are balking, saying they want to address the program’s long-term finances.About 11 million disabled workers, children and spouses currently receive Social Security disability benefits. About 8.3 million people receive Supplemental Security Income, which is funded separately, through the government’s general revenues.SSI paid out about $54 billion in benefits last year. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean “Social Security provides services to over 48 million retirement and survivors beneficiaries and about 15 million disability beneficiaries,” Social Security spokesman Mark Hinkle said in an email. “The agency will issue nearly $1 trillion in payments this year. For fiscal year 2013 — the last year for which we have complete data — approximately 99.8 percent of all Social Security payments were free of overpayment, and nearly 99.9 percent were free of underpayment.”“That same year, we also achieved high levels of payment accuracy in the (Supplemental Security Income) program despite the inherent complexities in calculating monthly payments due to beneficiaries’ income and resource fluctuations and changes in living arrangements,” Hinkle said.The inspector general’s office examined a randomly selected sample of 1,532 people who were receiving either Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income in October 2003. SSI is a separately-funded disability program for the poor.Auditors followed the group for 10 years, until February 2014. They determined that 45 percent of the beneficiaries were overpaid at some point during that period. The overpayments totaled $2.9 million, the study said. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes 0 Comments   Share   Top Stories last_img read more


Tropical Storm Blanca hits Baja California weakens further

first_img CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — Tropical Storm Blanca rolled into the Baja California Peninsula on Monday, with rains and high winds expected to lash a wide area even as the system continued to lose strength.Only recently a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 mph (215 kph), Blanca had faded to a tropical storm by the time it made landfall. It was downgraded to a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) in the afternoon, and was expected to be a remnant low by Tuesday. A woman takes photos at El Medano Beach before the arrival of Hurricane Blanca in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Sunday, June 7, 2015. Hurricane Blanca was downgraded to a tropical storm as it neared the Baja California Peninsula, where residents boarded up home and storefront windows in preparation for the heavy rains and high winds that were forecast to lash a wide area including the resorts of Los Cabos. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo) Sponsored Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility The U.S. National Hurricane Center forecast that rain associated with the storm would begin to fall in the U.S. Southwest later Monday.Tropical storm warnings and watches were lifted for the entire peninsula including its southern tip, where the resort region of Los Cabos was battered by Hurricane Odile last September. Local media said there were some flooded streets and scattered power outages in Los Cabos, but there were no immediate reports of major damage.Blanca is the earliest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall on the peninsula, according to the Hurricane Center. The storm’s center was about 60 miles (95 kilometers) southwest of Santa Rosalia in the afternoon, heading north-northwest at 17 mph (28 kph).Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments   Share   5 ways to recognize low testosterone The vital role family plays in society Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving soberlast_img read more

Big Apple of tourisms eye breaks visitor records in 2010

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.C New York City is on track to achieve record-breaking tourism levels in 2010, according to a recent report. During a ceremony at New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was joined by Delta Airlines, elected officials, and NYC & Company (the official marketing, tourism and partnership organisation for the City of New York), to announce that the city hosted approximately 23.5 million visitors in the first half of 2010 – a 4.2 percent increase over 2009 and a new record. “The first half of 2010 has been particularly strong and our early projections show a return to record-breaking visitation levels,” NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta said.  “Under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg, we have created the city’s first global marketing campaign and developed strategic public-private partnerships that have built and promoted the brand of New York City around the world in a way that ensures this US$30 billion industry remains vibrant and engages both visitors and New Yorkers alike.” The strong results were spread across the tourism industry’s sectors. Average hotel occupancy rates for January to June 2010 were up 6.8 percent compared to the same period in 2009, with an additional one million hotel room nights sold. Hotel tax revenue from these sales contributed US $178 million to the city – a 25 percent increase on the previous year. The influx of tourists was facilitated by a 9.4 percent increase in the number of Amtrak non-commuter passengers arriving at Penn Station in the first half of 2010. In-bound passenger traffic at the city’s three major airports was also up 1.2 percent, whilst international arrivals rose 4.8 percent.Tourism remains New York City’s fifth largest industry, contributing more than 300,000 jobs and nearly US$30 billion in direct spending across the city’s five boroughs. Current projections suggest New York will achieve its goal of 50 million annual visitors by 2012.last_img read more

Accor and Starwood OK with TripAdvisor reviews

first_imgNovotel Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Online hotel reviews, to respond or retaliate? That is the question for hotels around the world as the online critique system becomes an influential traveller’s resource. With websites like TripAdvisor providing up to 20 million members 35 million reviews, hotels around the globe are working up solutions to deal with the uninhibited criticisms, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Some Australian hotels have recognised the benefits of the system even directing enquiring guests to read them. Hotel operator Accor made up of Novotel, Sofitel and Mercure has embraced the power of online reviews by adding a TripAdvisor link on its 4000 hotel websites. “We appreciate that the decision making of our guests is no longer limited to the information in our brochure,” Accor Director of Marketing, Quality and Consumer Product Clair Wearne said. “We understand that they are making decisions based on valid information from other users.” Ms Wearne said the Accor group is so committed to TripAdvisor they send customers an email encouraging them to post reviews and the option to remain anonymous makes the feedback received valuable to its hotels. “You can’t get much better than that honest, transparent feedback,” she said. “Is there a better way for a hotel general manager to really understand what a guest thinks?” The Starwood group has also welcomed the power of online reviews, hiring people to respond to criticisms and concerns. The Starwood hotel group made up of Sheraton, Westin and Le Meridien brands has adopted a practical response to the online reviews by allowing individual hotels to respond to them as well as hired extra staff to directly communicate with guests long after their stay. Starwood Pacific Hotels Field Marketing Manager Alison Boyd said that while it is important to remember the review sites have an impact on a travellers decision it also offers the hotels useful feedback. Hotels and restaurants around Britain and the US have taken an opposite stance on the issue, perceiving the online system as an attack and are in the process of taking up legal action against TripAdvisor. The hotels have accused TripAdvisor for posting unfair and false reviews by competitors.TripAdvisor responded to accusations claiming to have technology that flags suspicious activity and a team of fraud experts. last_img read more

Tahiti waves in rising visitors

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J French Polynesia attracted 13.4 percent more visitors in February this year compared to the corresponding period last year, with up to 11,028 inbound travellers.According to figures released by the French Polynesia Statistical Institute, North America was the strongest market for the region, with a “significant increase… noticed”.The Institute added that occupancy levels also rose in February this year, and the average visitor stay reached an average of 13 days.last_img read more

SIAs nofrills offers Scootitude

first_imgSingapore Airlines (SIA) has given the world a sneak-peek of its new low-cost subsidiary, revealing the “down-to-earth” airline’s name, website, Facebook page and ad agency.With the airline planned to take-off from mid next year, SIA is creating hype around the new subsidiary, so much hype in fact that exceeded its bandwidth limit from an overwhelming number of visitors early this morning.Utilising the B777-200, the new no-frills service will operate out of Changi Airport Terminal 2 on medium to long haul routes and has been described by its chief executive Campbell Wilson as owning an “attitude that’s unique” and fun.“We chose the name ‘Scoot’ for many reasons, not least because it’s different,” Mr Wilson said. “Rather than the tried and tired “airlines” this, “airways” that or “air” yawn, it’s short, sharp and snappy. It stands out. “Besides difference, it conveys spontaneity, movement, informality and a touch of quirkiness – all attributes we intend this Company to be known for.”The carrier’s head added that the name “personified” the uniqueness of the brand and captures its “values and styles”.“An airline with a different attitude,” he added. “People with a different attitude. Scootitude.”Among the destinations in the airline’s portfolio for the first year include Australiasia, China and others, with hopes to expand to India, Europe, Africa and the Middle East overtime. The airline said it will start recruiting staff and pilots early 2012 but has already signed on Sparkfury and Tangoshark to handle the carrier’s image and advertising.The Creative Agency said it had designed the look and feel of the airline to portray its “upbeat, fun, leisure-orientated and slightly quirky” attitude.“Getting the opportunity to develop a brand for an airline named Scoot is a creative person’s dream,” Sparkfury and Tangoshark executive director Michael Lim said. “It’s so different from a traditional airline name, and lends itself to so many applications. “We wanted to reflect this difference and unconventionality during the pitch process, and to create a brand that changes the way people view travel. “Our whole team is energised and excited with this assignment and, like Scoot itself, aims to demonstrate something different, something unique in all we do.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J FlyScootcenter_img Until the airline kicks-off mid-2012, fans and potential flyers can check out the look and feel of the new LCC carrier at its website or on its Facebook page; FlyScoot.last_img read more

Mixed responses to overweight airfare fee

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J The Australian public has expressed mixed feelings over suggestions that airlines should charge heavier flyers higher airfares, with some saying it is only fair while others question how far some carriers will go to save a buck.e-Travel Blackboard was inundated with comments and emails yesterday after former Qantas executive Tony Webber said overweight people should pay more for their ticket prices to cover fuel costs. 30 percent of our readers said they were in favour of the possible charge while 60 percent finding it completely unreasonable.One reader called the possible policy a violation against anti-discrimination acts and questioned whether taller people would be targeted as well as athletes and the elderly.Another pointed out that some carriers are already charging some larger passengers for two seats and wonders the extent to which the aviation industry will “continue to discriminate against this group”.“Why don’t we apply this rational to all forms of travel, taxis, trains and ships, [they] could all use this theory to charge so called over weight people more for travel,” the reader’s comment read.Meanwhile another e-Travel Blackboard commenter said if airlines were going to down this path, would they eventually start charging flyers drinking alcohol on board more as opposed to those who prefer water.The same reader noted that perhaps airlines should reconsider their staff benefits and leave those freebie seats for paying customers.  Also discussed yesterday was the possibility of increasing the luggage weight for ‘smaller’ travellers, with some saying this could be the solution to level out weight differences.  “Maybe the lighter people should get excess baggage up to the weight of the bigger person,” one reader stated.On the other side of the spectrum one e-Travel Blackboard said higher airfares for overweight flyers is “the only fair way to go”, finding the current fare system a discrimination against “fit or thin people”.The same stance was taken by another reader, who said it was a “fair suggestion”, but found complications in the application of the system. “… it is wrought with complications and opens up a can of worms,” the reader’s comment read.“Some planes go out half full…others full so how do you calculate cost differences.”According to one commenter, the ‘hefty’ charge has already been implemented on carriers flying between Samoa and American Samoa, and said the system “works well”.“Try flying between Samoa and American Samoa, you have to step on the scales,” the comment read. “Admitted its because they only use small planes and they need to be aware of Gross weight of aircraft, bigger Samoans don’t seem to mind. “I think its a great way for me to save money. Bring it on.”What side of the spectrum are you on?last_img read more

PATA stays cutting edge with TripAdvisor

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has announced a new PATA Strategic Partner, signing-up online review site, TripAdvisor.Launched today, PATA chief executive Martin J Craigs said the agreement would benefit the organisation’s members through joint initiatives including surveys, reports and data sharing.Mr Craigs added that the agreement would also help PATA move into a more digital and mobile environment, and keep PATA Next Gen “at the cutting edge of travel industry engagement”.“PATA will work with TripAdvisor to add real value and insights for the benefit of both partners,” he explained. The agreement will keep PATA Next Gen “at the cutting edge of travel industry engagement”.last_img read more


New Chinese homeport for Star Cruises

first_imgAnother 6 day 5 night itinerary, departing on 20 October, will visit Penghu, Keelung, Taichung, Kaohsiung, the three largest Taiwanese cities. The 50,764 ton SuperStar Gemini is currently based in Shanghai sailing to Taiwanese and Korean destinations, with entertainment facilities and amenities tailor made for Chinese tourists, with a new 450sqm duty free shopping area including premium international brands. The first cruise to depart from Xiamen on 9 October is a 6 day 5 night cruise to Penghu, Kaohsiung and Hong Kong and a 7 day 6 night cruise from Xiamen on 14 October will visit Boracay and Manila, with this itinerary said to be a favourite among Xiamen travellers. “We believe these itineraries will energise local tourism and attract both new and our regular cruisers. This cruise will also mark SuperStar Gemini’s first visit to the Philippines, including Boracay’s world famous beaches and buzzing Manila, with Resorts World Manila, a joint-venture between Genting Hong Kong and AGI, providing free shuttle service to bring travellers to this world-class one stop, non-stop entertainment and leisure hub. “As a pioneer and leader of the Asia-Pacific cruise industry, Star Cruises has never stopped introducing new routes and setting new itineraries in the region.” SuperStar Gemini. Image: Star Cruises “We’ve introduced China to more than 1.2 million tourists from around the world by ship.”center_img Star Cruises COO Mr William Ng said, “Star Cruises has been calling into China since 1994 inclusive of Xiamen.” “We were the first international cruise line to open up this market.” Star Cruises has announced that the SuperStar Gemini will commence her first homeport deployment in Xiamen on 9 October, 2013, with a range of new routes on offer, including Keelung, Penghu, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Hong Kong, Boracay and Manila. “With Xiamen being our homeport for SuperStar Gemini, we’re pleased to take Chinese customers on cruise holidays to destinations in Taiwan, Boracay and Manila.” “We look forward to developing more Xiamen-based itineraries in close partnership with the local government.” Source = ETB News: JAJlast_img read more


Destination Congress 2017 in Phuket to boost growing niche market

first_imgDestination Congress 2017 in Phuket to boost growing niche market From left: Mr. Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, TAT Executive Director of Information Technology Office; Mr. Sidh N.C., Director Business Development, QNA International; Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangku, Minister of Tourism and Sports; Mr. Ackash Jain, Director of QNA International, Dubai; Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americas); and Mrs. Pattaraporn Sithivanich, TAT Executive Director of the Americas RegionDestination Congress 2017 in Phuket to boost growing niche market for weddings and honeymoonsThe Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is projecting a significant growth in international weddings and honeymoons being celebrated in Thailand after hosting its first “Destination Wedding Planners Congress (DWP Congress)” at the Laguna Golf Phuket between 2-4 May 2017.Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports added, “Thailand will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the best of preparations for this Congress in order to become a global wedding hub for couples of every nationality. We definitely have to work as a team. If we want to be the World’s Best Wedding Destination, we really need to enhance our expertise and better understand all our source markets.”The global weddings industry is estimated to have a total value of US$298 billion, of which the value of foreign country weddings is US$80 billion.Thailand is the first to host the DWP Congress in Asia. It can accommodate any kind of thematic celebration to the newlyweds, or the married couples seeking a memorable anniversary with its strength of diverse locations ranging from pristine beaches to green mountains and professional organisers to deliver a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ moment for couples.Moreover, the country is well established as a top-ranked wedding destination, including first on the Top Destination for Asia, third in the Top Destination for Australia and New Zealand, sixth in the Top Destination for Europe, third in Emerging Destination for the Middle East, and first in Emerging Destination for Africa.Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor said, “This is exactly in line with the policy to focus on high-spending, long-staying, niche-market visitors, distributing income and creating jobs in the provincial areas. Wedding ceremonies typically involve at least 20 people, with an expenditure of 5-20 million Baht per event, depending on its size.”At the moment, Thailand is very popular as a wedding destination in India and Hong Kong. From India alone, more than 400 weddings have taken place here. The numerous hotels, wedding planners, and others serving this market have set up the first / to promote, protect, and preserve standards of professionalism and service amongst the various suppliers.Each year, more than 450 wedding planners and organisers, luxury hotels, destination management companies, and NTOs from around the world typically attend the event.They include influential decision-making buyers selected by the organising committee from the UK, USA, Brazil, Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, Russia, Croatia, Lebanon, Africa, Guatemala, UAE, India, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.Since 2014, the DWP Congress has been held annually in Greece, Mauritius and Italy, making Thailand the fourth country to host it. Organised by the QNA International Company Limited, it includes a B2B trade session with pre-scheduled appointment sessions, seminars and networking sessions, lecturers and guest speakers on current topics and issues.Mr. Yuthasak said, “This will be the first of Destination Wedding Planners Congress to be held in Asia. We expect the Congress will go a long way towards raising the image of Thailand as a wedding destination globally, and showcasing our superb range of destinations, venues, as well as the unique products and services that make each event memorable and extraordinary.”“Such events have an enormous ripple-effect benefit as they generate income for numerous suppliers of products and services; such as, decorations, gifts and souvenirs, party arrangements, F&B, audio-visual equipment, musicians, singers, and many more.”TAT Governor added, “The TAT is keen to expand its source-markets for weddings to long-haul destinations such as Europe, USA, Latin America, etc. I would like to thank all those who have partnered with the TAT to help us host what we are certain will be a successful event, with clear long-term benefits for Thailand.” Amazing Thailandweddings and honeymoons Fly THAIbook here Source = Tourism Authority of Thailandlast_img read more


Sydney Airport switches on the lights for Vivid Sydney

first_imgSydney Airport switches on the lights for Vivid SydneySydney Airport will switch on its stunning light installations at 6pm this evening to coincide with the official start of Vivid Sydney 2017.The lights, specially designed to celebrate Sydney Airport’s inaugural year as an official Vivid Sydney Supporter, will give overseas and domestic visitors a taste of what they can expect to experience at the many lighting precincts around the city.Sydney Airport Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kerrie Mather welcomed the start of this iconic event.“Sydney Airport proudly welcomes and farewells 42 million passengers a year and we know that many of our visitors over the coming weeks will be here to enjoy this amazing event,” Ms Mather said.“It’s exciting to be a Vivid Sydney Supporter for the first time and we’re looking forward to officially turning on the lights tonight at Sydney Airport.”At the T1 International precinct, acclaimed Australian lighting designer Iain Reed has created ‘OrganiX’ inside the P7 multi-storey car park, an installation designed to transform the striking, ‘brutalist’ architecture of the car park into an ephemeral tunnel.The installation creates the illusion of an enchanted forest of lights, complemented by a unique and immersive sound scape.Visitors to T2/T3 Domestic will also experience a unique taste of Vivid through another of Iain’s’ works: car park walkways illuminated by dynamic, interactive LED ‘walls’ and LED strip lighting which races at speed along the covered pathways.The airport is offering Sydney motorists a special $10 online parking deal at the P7 car park at T1 International for the duration of Vivid Sydney.Sydney Airport General Manager Parking and Ground Transport Craig Norton said the parking offer would provide parking from 4pm to 4am the following day for just $10 in the P7 car park, giving motorists a convenient alternative to driving into the CBD during the busy festival period.“The special $10 online parking rate at T1 International makes it easy for Sydneysiders to come to the airport and park cheaply, see the lighting installation at P7, then travel into the city and back using either taxis, ridesharing services or the train,” Mr Norton said.The special $10 parking deal is available only by booking online at should select the P7 car park at T1 International in the booking section, ensure entry and exit times are between 4pm and 4am the next day, and enter the promo code VIVID17 when prompted.Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas, runs from 26 May to 17 June, and draws many thousands of visitors from around Australia and overseas who will fly into Sydney Airport to experience Vivid’s magic.Vivid Sydney is owned, managed and produced by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW and attracted a record 2.31 million attendees in 2016. Source = Sydney Airportlast_img read more