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Have your say at TICOs Open Forum Sessions

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Friday, December 2, 2016 Tags: TICO Travelweek Group Posted bycenter_img TORONTO — Here’s your chance to have your voice heard! TICO will be holding Open Forum Sessions to gain insight from industry members about the Travel Industry Act, 2002 and Ontario Regulation 26/05.Led by the Ontario Government, the goal of the review is to increase regulatory efficiency, improve consumer protection, and reduce regulatory burdens on business.According to TICO, “these sessions are an opportunity for you to receive some valuable information as well as ask questions, provide feedback and network with your peers.”TICO will present information on the all-in-pricing requirement that comes into force on Jan. 1, 2017 and will review the consultation process. It will also present a number of priority issues and welcome feedback from attendees on areas such as registration, financial requirements, the Compensation Fund, e-Commerce and education standards.Sessions are free of charge and all Ontario travel agency owners and travel agents are welcome to attend.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upLocates and dates are as follows:Jan. 10: Toronto/Mississauga, TICO Offices (2700 Matheson Blvd E, Suite 402, West Tower), 4:00-6:30 p.m.Jan. 11: Scarborough, Radisson Hotel Toronto East (55 Hallcrown Place), 4:00-6:30 p.m.Jan. 24: Toronto/Mississauga, TICO Offices (2700 Matheson Blvd E., Suite 402, West Tower), 2:00-4:30 p.m.Jan. 26: London, Delta London Armouries (325 Dundas St), 4:00-6:30 p.m.Feb. 8: Cambridge/Kitchener, Four Points by Sheraton (210 Preston Parkway), 4:00-6:30 pmSnacks and refreshments will be provided at each session. More sessions will be held around the province in early 2017 and will be announced shortly.Agents can confirm their attendance by emailing TICO at tico@tico.ca no later than Dec. 16. Space is limited.For more information, contact Susan Janko at (905) 624-6241 ext. 233 or email tico@tico.ca. Share Have your say at TICO’s Open Forum Sessionslast_img read more

Can you guess which Canadian city made Frommers list of top vacation

first_img NEW YORK — If your clients are fresh out of ideas on where to travel to in 2017, Frommer’s – which will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year – has revealed its annual list of the best places to travel.A team of award-winning editors and writers around the world has compiled an honour roll list of top vacation places. Whether these destinations are enjoying a resurgence, honouring a milestone or anniversary, or simply because the moment is ripe for wider appreciation, they’re all primed and ready for travellers to visit in 2017.The 17 honourees are (in no particular order):•   Montréal, Quebec, for the confluence of celebrations surrounding its 375th birthday and the 150th anniversary of Canada•   Karasjok, Norway, the best place in the world for Northern Lights during a peak year for that phenomenon•   Bermuda, amidst a boom in development of its luxury tourism amenities and expecting the America’s Cup in May and June•   The Pantanal, South America’s massive and wondrous inland tropical wetlandsMore news:  Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise rates•   The Mississippi River, long called “the Spine of America,” bursting with a fast-growing cruise industry•   Paris, France, because its tourism has dropped in the past year, but it remains as magical as ever•   Sulawesi, Indonesia, an under-appreciated island of tiny monkeys, vibrantly colored birds, and astonishing cultural rituals•   San Francisco and the Bay Area, which marks the 50th anniversary of the famous Summer of Love with a bounty of events•   Fátima, Portugal, commemorating the centenary of its miracle and vibrant with history, architecture and beaches•   Nashville, Tennessee, for its food, whip-smart population, music, and ideal location for viewing the August 21 solar eclipse•   The Panama Canal, newly expanded with a more-than-$5 billion set of locks•   Nan Madol, Micronesia, because its ancient black basalt temples and palaces are in danger of imminent destruction by natural forces•   Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, the only region where you can see mountain gorillas in the wild, and where tourism is transforming lifeMore news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at sea•   Martin Luther’s Germany which will spend the year mounting concerts and events for the 500th anniversary of the reformer’s world-changing deed•   Katahdin Woods and Waters, Maine, 87,000 pristine acres of forests and streams just inscribed as a National Monument•   Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, a recent holiday spot for Prince William and Kate, for its unique wilderness and centuries old cultural links•   Doha, Qatar, which is challenging its flashier neighbors Dubai and Abu Dhabi with new attractions, flights, and hotelsThere is one bonus destination that Frommer’s felt compelled to include – Cuba. Frommer’s is not confident Cuba will remain an option for Americans. Donald J. Trump is threatening to restrict Americans’ right to travel there, hotel rates are ballooning, flights are being cut, and the death of Fidel Castro raises new uncertainties. For those reasons, Frommer’s inscribed it—with hope that travel remains open and growing—as its 18th top destination. Share Travelweek Group Monday, December 12, 2016 Tags: Frommers, Montrealcenter_img Can you guess which Canadian city made Frommer’s list of top vacation spots? Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

You wont believe how long the worlds longest flight will be

first_imgYou won’t believe how long the world’s longest flight will be Share SINGAPORE – Is there a limit to how long you can tolerate being on a plane? At what point does that crying baby or your seatmate’s constant snoring break your resolve and cause you to tear out your hair?Singapore Airlines will soon find out once it launches the world’s longest nonstop commercial flight on Oct. 11. Travelling between Singapore’s Changi Airport and Newark Liberty Airport, the extra loooooong-haul flight will travel over 16,000 kilometres and last 18 hours and 45 minutes.We know what you’re thinking – that’s an unbearably long time to be watching movies starring The Rock. But Singapore Airlines is doing everything it can to make sure the flight is not only pleasant, but ultra comfortable.For one thing, it takes place on the new A350-900ULR (ultra-long-range) featuring a two-class layout (67 Business Class seats and 94 Premium Economy). That’s right – no uncomfortable Economy seats on this bad boy!More news:  Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is backSecond, the plane is outfitted with several features to enhance comfort and reduce jetlag, namely higher ceilings, larger windows, an extra wide body and special lighting. Its carbon composite airframe also allows for improved air quality (yes, you actually breathe better onboard).And as long as it may be, the 18-hour flight is actually the quickest way to get one from city to the other. “The flights will offer our customers the fastest way to travel between the two cities – in great comfort, together with Singapore Airlines’ legendary service – and will help boost connectivity to and through the Singapore hub,” said Mr. Goh Choon Phong, Singapore Airlines’ CEO.The route will initially be served three times a week, departing Singapore on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Daily operations will kick off Oct. 18 after an additional A350-900ULR aircraft enters service. Posted by Friday, June 1, 2018 center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Tags: Singapore Airlineslast_img read more

Groups can save 1500 per person with Avalon Waterways

first_img TORONTO — Avalon Waterways is giving travel agents a new way to close a group sale, by offering clients a savings of $1,500 per person on select river cruises.The cruise line has announced $1,500 off per person on a host of its Active Discovery Cruises for 2019. Bookings must be confirmed by Dec. 18, 2018.The offer applies to nearly 60 departures of the cruises along the Rhône, Rhine and Danube rivers.On an Active Discovery cruise, passengers have the choice each day of three types of free shore excursions: a Classic (usually a walking tour with local guide), a Discover (a taste of cultural immersion such as sampling cheese and beer at an ancient abbey), or an Active (such as a guided hike, jog or bike tour).Group rates and benefits apply to as few as eight clients travelling together. For more information go to agentlingo.ca. Travelweek Group Groups can save $1,500 per person with Avalon Waterways Tags: Avalon Waterways Posted bycenter_img Share Tuesday, November 13, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Boeing to pay US100 million to crash families communities

first_img Wednesday, July 3, 2019 CHICAGO — Boeing says it will pay US$100 million over several years to families and communities affected by two crashes of its 737 Max plane that killed 346 people.The company announced today that some of the money will go toward living expenses and to cover hardship suffered by the families of dead passengers.Boeing faces dozens of lawsuits over the accidents.Relatives of passengers on a Lion Air Max that crashed off the coast of Indonesia agreed to try to settle through mediation, but families of passengers killed in an Ethiopian Airlines crash are waiting until more is known about the accidents.Preliminary investigations point to the role played by new software that pushed the planes’ noses down. Boeing is updating the software. Max jets have been grounded worldwide since March. Share By: The Associated Press Boeing to pay US$100 million to crash families, communities Tags: boeing << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

In Costa Rica cigar bars puff away – for now

first_imgFrom the print editionThe “Control of Tobacco and its Harmful Effects on Health Bill,” signed into law by President Laura Chinchilla, has been in effect since March with the blessing of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV), but in Escazú you can still get a smoke.It’s going to cost you, though: $2 for a one-day private membership at 9oN Escazú, an upscale new cigar and spirits bar on Avenida Escazú, southwest of San José. A month-long membership runs $25 and $250 lets you puff at will for a year.“This project started about a year ago in August,” said 9oN Escazú General Manager Michael Arnswald. “The smoking ban wasn’t really in our plans, but we were able to make adjustments.”Adjustments mean charging for memberships for entry into an exclusive, private smoking club with a selection of about 50 different cigars and a bar stocked with what Arnswald says is one of the best selections of single-malt scotch in Costa Rica.“We’re trying to bring our customers an elegant lounge feel, where they can have a drink and relax with a cigar,” Arnswald said.The anti-smoking law, which was upheld by the Sala IV against a March challenge to its constitutionality, prohibits smoking in places such as bars, restaurants, public buildings, casinos, bus stops and taxi stands. It also raised taxes on cigarettes by ₡20 ($0.04 cents) per cigarette and requires tobacco companies to print text and photo warnings about the dangers of smoking on at least 50 percent of cigarette boxes. Honduras, Guatemala and Panama have similar legislation, as do six South American countries (TT, March 23).Arnswald said that making 9oN Escazú a private club sidesteps legislation, and the club has taken other steps as well.“We have a high-powered air scrubbing system,” he said. “We don’t put any smoke out into the public sphere. Our smoke removal system is large enough for a 2,500 square-foot place, and here we have about 900 square feet.”Because the anti-smoking law prohibits smoking in any place where food is prepared, the club does not serve food.Additionally, the front of the club is clearly marked with warnings that minors and nonsmokers are prohibited from entering.Inside, the setting is geared to an upscale clientele. iPads with automated ordering systems are mounted on each table with full cigar and drink menus. Members can scroll through the club’s cigar selections and access descriptions and tasting notes, such as: “Black pepper and coffee bean flavors transition into rich leather and a sweet cappuccino finish.”The ambience is geared to attract not just foreign aficionados but the emerging Tico middle class with a taste for luxury products, said Arnswald. The market for cigars is developing in Costa Rica the way that wine markets grew here, Arnswald said.9oN Escazú isn’t the only business in town trying to cultivate a demand for fine cigars. La Casa del Habano opened its doors in the western San José neighborhood of Rohrmoser late last year.Luis Garcia, general manager at La Casa del Habano, said he feels confident shops like his and 9oN Escazú are in the right, but he admitted, things are a little uncertain at this point.“The problem,” he said, “is that all of this is very new. There are no regulations yet and there’s no application of the law yet, and so everyone is waiting to see what’s going to happen in the future.”One difference between the two businesses, Garcia said, is La Casa del Habano is set up more like a tobacco store while 9oN Escazú has the appearance of a bar. Garcia is the Costa Rica distributor for Habano cigars and counts 9oN Escazú as a customer. His store offers a credit program for regular customers who are allowed to enjoy cigars they’ve purchased in the store.“I don’t believe there’s any problem [with 9oN Escazú’s arrangement],” Garcia said. “No one’s freedom is being impinged upon and nobody feels uncomfortable there, because the whole world knows when they go into 9 North that it’s a place for smokers.”Health Vice Minister Sissy Castillo, however, said that according to the law, any workplace is a “prohibited site.”Article 4, Section B of the law defines a workplace as any “place that utilizes one or more workers or volunteers.” Article 5, Section B declares any workplace “as defined by Article 4 of this law” to be “spaces 100 percent free from the exposure to tobacco smoke.”“The problem isn’t so much for the smokers that are going to go in there,” Castillo said. “A place, even though it is a private site, becomes a workplace for the employees who are going to be there attending the clients at the bar. … From this perspective, they would be falling under non-compliance with the law.”Castillo said the reglamentos, or rules that guide the law’s application, are still being worked out at the Health Ministry, and she expects the norms to go to a public hearing next week.She doesn’t mince words about the intended effects of the law.“We are convinced that this is going to benefit the health of nonsmokers as much as smokers,” Castillo said. “The idea is to discourage the consumption of tobacco.”In the meantime, 9oN Escazú’s Arnswald said the bar is operating at about 50 to 60 percent capacity on a nightly basis, with 50/50 mix of Ticos and foreigners showing up for a puff and a tipple. He hopes to drive that up to 100 percent soon and to keep “educating customers on the nuances of smoking and how to enjoy a good cigar.”n Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Costa Rica cops seize 900 kilos of cocaine at Pacific port

first_imgCosta Rican anti-drug police on Sunday seized 901 kilograms of cocaine and arrested nine members of a drug trafficking crew, among them four Colombians, two Nicaraguans, a Panamanian and two Costa Ricans.Public Security Minister Mario Zamora announced the bust following a three-day police operation in Quepos, on the central Pacific coast 170 kilometers west of the capital.Zamora said the drugs likely came from Colombia and were discovered in a luxury residence 1 km from the center of the port town, hidden underneath mattresses.Officials say drug traffickers used the house as a storage point for shipments north to the United States – the world’s biggest illicit drug consumer nation – via Mexico.Police also confiscated four vehicles and three firearms during the operation.Costa Rica has seized some 5.3 tons of cocaine already this year, officials said. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

VIDEO Festivities wrap up in Zapote

first_imgAfter 11 days of bullfights, carnival rides, and junk food, Las Fiestas de Zapote finally drew to a close on Sunday, allowing the spotlight to shine on January’s other regional festivals. No Costa Rican New Year is complete without a fistful of churros and some bone-crunching rodeo injuries, but now the barrio of Zapote will return to its normal businessy self.Along with thousands of chepeños and visitors, The Tico Times visited Zapote to catch the toros and do some people-watching. To commemorate another successful year, here are some scenes from the fiestas. ¡Olé!(And just a word of caution: This video shows at least one moment of unsettling violence – although nothing you wouldn’t see live on Teletica.) Facebook Comments Related posts:18 photos from Costa Rica’s big time city rodeo PHOTOS: Bulls, beer and injuries at Costa Rica’s annual Zapote festival Valentine’s Day, lyrical boleros, and other happenings around Costa Rica Arts festival, music festival, yoga festival, and other happenings around Costa Ricalast_img read more

Human rights group calls for legal action against erotic vacation provider

first_imgRelated posts:Owner of prominent Costa Rican massage parlor arrested on pimping charges Five Costa Ricans caught with 600 kilos of cocaine off Colombian coast Here’s how you can donate to Hurricane Otto relief in Costa Rica Accused serial killer ‘Wild Bill’ Holbert asks forgiveness for murders of U.S. expats The international humans rights organization Equality Now has made a public call to U.S. authorities to prosecute a sex tour operator that promote trips to numerous destinations, including Costa Rica.According to Equality Now, the company in question is the Los Angeles, California-based Global Fantasy Girls. On the tour group’s website, the company calls itself a “premium erotic vacation provider” and advertises trips to Costa Rica, among 15 other international destinations.“Escape the dread of everyday life in our exotic Costa Rican jungle & beach resorts and write a new chapter in your life… one you won’t soon forget!!!” the website advertises on its Costa Rica page.Equality Now alleges that the company is violating U.S. federal law and specifically the Mann Act, which forbids “knowingly transporting or enticing someone to travel in foreign commerce to engage in prostitution.”“Equality Now is requesting that Eileen Decker, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, investigates and prosecutes Global Fantasies, and any other sex tour operators operating in her jurisdiction, for knowingly and openly violating the Mann Act, Travel Act and the TVPA,” the organization indicated in an email.Representatives from Equality Now sent Decker a personal email requesting prosecution of Global Fantasy Girls. They also made contact with Susan Coppedge, the State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, to ask that the State Department include a note in its annual human trafficking report indicating U.S. authorities did not prosecute certain sex tour operators.The Tico Times sent an email seeking a response from Global Fantasy Girls but did not obtain a response as of the publication of this article.Costa Rica’s Human Trafficking Law contains a component known as the Sex Tourism Law that forbids anyone in the country from promoting Costa Rica as a destination for sex tourists.Last year, in the first-ever court case where this section of the law was applied, noted sex blogger and U.S. citizen David “Cuba Dave” Strecker was sentenced to five years in prison in November when judges ruled that he had advertised Costa Rica as a sex tourism destination.The sex tourism industry is a $1 billion per year business, according to the U.S. State Department. U.S. authorities and advocates such as Equality Now that rally against sex tourists argue that even when travelers seek out prostitution in countries where the practice is legalized, they are fueling global human trafficking. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Sandinista stronghold calls for Nicaraguan leader to end repression

first_imgRelated posts:PHOTOS: Nicaraguans in Costa Rica gather to support their country during hard times At school-turned-command post, Nicaraguan students defy Ortega’s ‘law of the jungle’ Once a symbol of Somoza-era torture, Nicaragua prison holds protesters Night of terror leaves 5 dead in Nicaraguan protests León, a northern city that is a bastion of support for Nicaragua’s ruling Sandinista party, wants President Daniel Ortega to put an end to repression and authoritarianism.It’s a message many in the Central American nation want to get across after a week of violent protests that have been met by a robust police response at the cost of at least 27 lives.“I think León is tired. We might be Sandinistas but we’re not Danielistas,” said Eliza Rodríguez, a worker in a shelter where protesters hurt in clashes in León were brought for medical attention. “The people are tired of being repressed, of being intimidated.“I think all of Nicaragua, not only León, wants them to go,” she said, referring to Ortega and his wife and vice president Rosario Murillo. Workers clear the rubble of a restaurant on April 24, 2018 in the Nicaraguan city of León after it was set on fire during protests against President Daniel Ortega’s government. Inti Ocon / AFPIf he could hear them, the comments would be a slap in the face to the president, a 72-year-old former Sandinista guerrilla who has ruled over his country for 22 of the past 39 years.Protesters in the capital, Managua, have been calling for his ouster. But for that desire to be echoed in León demonstrates the rift that has opened between him and communities that were once his base. Sandinista party supporters hang a banner over the rubble of the University Center of Nicaragua’s National University (CUUN) in Leon on April 24, 2018 after it was set on fire during protests against President Daniel Ortega’s government on April 21. Inti Ocon / AFPResentmentWhen the protests started a week ago, initially over pension reforms, retirees in León also held their own march. They were quickly assailed by groups linked to Ortega’s FSLN party.That sowed seeds of resentment and opposition that fueled other long-simmering grievances.“We need total change. More freedom. More official support for the people, and no more authorities hurting the people,” said Carlos Gutiérrez, a 26-year-old builder who watched a university center be torched during the unrest. Workers clear rubble and carry out reparations at the University Center of Nicaragua’s National University (CUUN) in Leon on April 24, 2018 after it was set on fire during protests against President Daniel Ortega’s government on April 21. Inti Ocon / AFPThe fire spread to an adjacent restaurant, reducing it to cinders and leaving its 30 staff without work.“We want change. And if it’s possible, we want them to go,” said María del Socorro Pérez, 32.She said that, in Nicaragua, “there is no freedom of expression, and all the government bodies are stacked.” Flowers placed over the rubble of the University Center of Nicaragua’s National University (CUUN) on April 24, 2018 in the Nicaraguan city of Leon, after it was set on fire during protests against President Daniel Ortega’s government on April 21. Inti Ocon / AFPNot all, however, backed a radical change of leadership.Maria Gutierrez, a 64-year-old receiving a monthly pension of $30 and caring for two grandchildren after her daughter’s death to cancer, said: “I’m sad to see what’s happening. But I don’t want a change of government.”Ortega had made things better for the poor, she said.Radio station torchedLeón, located 70 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of the capital, has backed the left-wing Sandinistas since a 1979 revolution swept out the ruling Somoza dynasty.Its narrow streets and high adobe walls, retaining the architecture inherited from Spanish colonial times, were the backdrop of big battles for independence and the rebellion that brought Ortega to power. The University Center of Nicaragua’s National University (CUUN) in Leon on April 24, 2018 after it was set on fire during protests against President Daniel Ortega’s government on April 21. AFP PHOTO / INTI OCONOn Tuesday, after nearly a week of protests and clashes, the city was slowly reverting to normal life, with shops reopening their doors.But in the Posada del Sol de León district, neighbors recalled last Friday night when a group of youths turned up to set fire to an opposition radio station. Cleaning a restaurant in León after it was set on fire due to the protests against Daniel Ortega’s government. Inti Ocon / AFP“The idea of doing away with the radio is characteristic of what is happening to freedom of expression,” said Lester Hernández, a journalist who managed to escape the flames by jumping out a window along with 13 other people who had been in the station at the time.“It’s horrible what the country is going through. I think it’s time for change,” he said, standing in front of the blackened shell where the radio station once stood.“Ortega is like Somoza. They are the same,” said a former Sandinista rebel, Sergio Medrano, 59. He stressed that he had fought the old Somoza regime “for a better life, to live in freedom.” Flowers placed over the rubble of the University Center of Nicaragua’s National University (CUUN) on April 24, 2018 in the Nicaraguan city of Leon, after it was set on fire during protests against President Daniel Ortega’s government on April 21. Inti Ocon / AFPFor shoe-shiner Francisco Palacios, 17, however, the only hope was to see calm restored.“I call on Comandante Ortega and Mrs. Rosario Murillo to sit down for dialogue,” he said. Students carry posters during a protest demanding the resignation of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, in Managua on April 24, 2018. Inti Ocon / AFP Facebook Commentslast_img read more

11 dead as overloaded bus crashes in Philippines

first_imgMANILA, Philippines (AP) – Police in the northern Philippines say a minibus so overloaded that passengers were riding on the rooftop has plunged into a 150-meter (500-foot) deep ravine. Eleven people are dead and another 10 injured.Provincial police chief William Bequeno says the vehicle lost control Sunday while negotiating a rough patch of a mountain road.The modified Jeep, known as a jeepney and the most popular mode of public transport in the Philippines, was carrying nearly 30 passengers. It wasn’t clear whether the driver survived. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates ErrorOK… ErrorOK More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Comments   Share   Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Many accidents in the country are blamed on poorly maintained vehicles and roads, inadequate driver training and weak traffic law enforcement.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

Judge Mailin ballots for bedridden Puerto Ricans

first_imgOfficials with the opposition Popular Democratic Party say they plan to file an appeal this week in hopes of striking down Monday’s ruling.The complaint has led the elections commission to delay issuing ballots to an estimated 17,000 bedridden voters. In the Nov. 6 elections, Puerto Ricans will choose a governor, legislators and mayors.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories Comments   Share   5 treatments for adult scoliosis Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectcenter_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – A judge in Puerto Rico has upheld a decision to allow bedridden voters to mail in their ballots for the first time as the U.S. territory prepares for next month’s general elections.Bedridden voters previously had to cast their votes while being monitored by two members of different political parties.The widely criticized decision comes as authorities uncover dozens of cases of pre-election fraud including dead people being added to voter registration lists. 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

Suicide bomber strikes near ancient temple in Luxor Egypt

first_img Sponsored Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The attackers carried guns in backpacks, and one wore a belt of explosives. They rode in a taxi through a police checkpoint to a parking lot and sat at a cafe and ordered lemonades, witnesses told The Associated Press. The taxi driver, suspicious after they refused his offer to help with the packs, alerted police.When a policeman approached, the bomber tried to hug him, but the policeman wrestled away. Seconds later, he detonated the explosives, and the others pulled automatic weapons from their bags and opened fire wildly, sending a small group of European tourists running for cover, the witnesses said.The attack followed one this month outside the famed Giza Pyramids in which gunmen killed two policemen. The violence points to a change in tactics by Islamic militants against the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. For two years, attacks have been centered in the Sinai Peninsula, mostly by a group that has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group and largely focused on retaliation against police and soldiers.A campaign against tourism, one of the main sources of foreign revenue, could deal a blow to el-Sissi’s promises to repair Egypt’s economy.Tourism has just started to show signs of recovery after plunging in the turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The first five months of this year saw tourism revenues up 9 percent from the same period last year, Tourism Minister Khaled Ramy said. LUXOR, Egypt (AP) — Militants tried to attack the ancient temple of Karnak in southern Egypt on Wednesday, with a suicide bomber blowing himself up and two gunmen battling police. No sightseers were hurt in the thwarted assault, but it suggested that Islamic extremists are shifting targets from security forces to the country’s vital tourism industry.The violence left the bomber and one gunman dead, the other wounded and arrested, and four other people wounded. The temple was not damaged. Quick workouts for men New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Another cafe employee, Abdel-Nasser Mohammed, said the taxi driver reported his suspicions about the men to police. As the three walked away, a policeman approached them, leading to the tussle between the officer and the bomber, Mohammed said.The bomber triggered the blast near a public restroom, and the other two opened fire. One ran toward the visitors’ center, and a policeman shot him in the head, Mohammed said.Tourist shop owner Sheik Ahmed Abdel-Mawgoud said he been standing near the restroom only seconds before the blast.“When the explosion happened, I ran for cover and told my friend, a tour guide, to run with the tourists with him. I screamed at him, ‘Terrorism!’” he told the AP.The exchange of fire with police lasted several minutes, witnesses said, and two policemen were among the wounded.Only a handful of tourists and Egyptians were in the temple at the time, security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.AP video of the scene showed what was believed to be the remains of the bomber covered with a black sheet with pools of blood nearby.The monument “is safe and unaffected and visitors continue to arrive,” temple director Mohammed Abdel-Aziz told the AP. Four groups of foreigners visited after the attack. Ramy said he expects the slow recovery to continue despite the attack, and he underscored how police had thwarted it.“Security forces were there. It’s a very important message to everyone,” he told the AP on a flight from Cairo to Luxor.Mohammed Sayed Badr, the governor of Luxor province, said the attack was “an attempt to break into the temple of Karnak.”“They didn’t make it in,” he said.But witnesses noted it was civilian bystanders who alerted police to the threat.Karnak, one of Egypt’s biggest attractions, is a giant complex of temples, statues, obelisks and columns built by pharaonic dynasties alongside the Nile. The oldest sections date back nearly 4,000 years.Access to the site is through a gate and a roadblock, leading to a parking lot and visitors’ center hundreds of yards from the ancient structure, which is reachable only on foot.The waiter who served the men said only one spoke to him and had an accent from northern Egypt, while the others stopped talking when he approached. When they paid their bill, he said he refused to take their tip.“They looked scary. … One of them had really bad eyes,” said the waiter, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Ikrami, for fear of problems with police for talking to the media. Three major German operators, TUI Deutschland, the Germany branch of Thomas Cook and L’TUR, said they are temporarily canceling excursions to Luxor, but stressed that most of their customers are at Red Sea resorts or on Nile cruises.“We have no reason to advise against traveling to Egypt at the present time, since the German Foreign Ministry hasn’t changed its security guidance,” said L’TUR spokesman Thomas Pluennecke. “But, as a precaution, we have stopped all excursions to Luxor. Of course we take the situation seriously.”___Associated Press writers Maggie Michael in Cairo and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The attack coincided with a major regional economic summit, hosted by el-Sissi at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.Luxor is home to some of Egypt’s most famous ancient temples and pharaonic tombs, including that of King Tutankhamun. The city has been one the sites hit hardest by the sharp downturn in foreign visitors since the 2011 uprising.Before the turmoil, tourism accounted for as much as 20 percent of Egypt’s foreign currency revenues, with as a high of 14.7 million visitors in 2010.After the uprising, those numbers plunged to 9.6 million, and then fell lower in 2013 after Morsi’s ouster. Tourists have been coming back slowly, with revenues jumping to $4 billion so far this year, compared with $1.9 billion in the same period in 2014.Beach resorts in southern Sinai and along the Red Sea coast have drawn most of the visitors, with cultural sites like Luxor seeing only a trickle. Most tourists in the searing heat of the summer months come to Luxor only for a one-day trip from the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.Wednesday’s attack is likely to result in cancellations in bookings for Luxor, although the blow is cushioned by the fact that it is low season and most tourists stay away until October. There was no claim of responsibility, but the attack bore the hallmarks of Islamic militants who have operating in the Sinai Peninsula.Last year, the main Sinai-based insurgent group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, which has destroyed archaeological landmarks in Syria and Iraq, viewing them as idolatrous.The violence in Sinai accelerated and spread to other parts of Egypt following the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. The militants say the attacks are in retaliation for a massive crackdown on Islamists in Egypt.A senior security official said investigators are looking to see whether the Luxor attackers are Egyptians and whether it marks an expansion of the violence to southern Egypt, which was a breeding ground for the militants of the 1990s and 2000.In the 1990s, Islamic militants targeted tourism to try to undermine the economy. The deadliest attack was in Luxor in November 1997, 58 people were killed at the 3,400-year-old Hatshepsut Temple.The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters, said the new breed of militants were unknown to the authorities. But he said the latest attack was a qualitative shift in the militants’ target. Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous oflast_img read more

In Arab world worries that deal will boost Irans power

first_imgOn the pro-government side in Syria, some had the same expectation. Bassam Mahfouz, a 54-year-old resident of the capital, Damascus, said he hoped Iran will now increase its support for Syria in the fight against “terrorism.Assad was quick to congratulate Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. In his cable addressed to Khamenei, Assad described the deal as “a great victory” achieved by Iran and a “historic turning point” in the history of Iran, the region and the world.“We are quite assured that the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue, with greater momentum, supporting the just issues of nations,” he said.President Barack Obama acknowledged Tuesday that the U.S. and Iran remain at odds over many issues, including Tehran’s support for terrorism in the Middle East and its detention of several American citizens. Still, he suggested a breakthrough on the nuclear issue could pave the way for a broader shift in relations between the U.S. and Iran.“This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction,” Obama said. “We should seize it.”Supporters of the deal see that opening as an opportunity to try to moderate Iran’s role in the region. The Arab world has been polarized for years in a worsening proxy conflict between Iran and Gulf powers, particularly Saudi Arabia, fueling Sunni-Shiite tensions and stoking wars. In Syria, Iran’s support has ensured the survival of President Bashar Assad against Sunni rebels backed by Gulf nations in a devastating civil war, now in its fifth year. Yemen has been torn apart this year as Saudi Arabia, leading a coalition air campaign, has tried to help fend off Shiite rebels supported by Tehran. In Iraq, Saudi Arabia has opposed the growing power of Iran even since the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein and the rise of a government led by Shiite politicians close to Iran.“Deal or no deal, tension in the region is not going to go away,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a professor of political science at United Arab Emirates University. “If Iran is bent on acting as a hegemon, as a regional power, I think we are in for some difficult times.”Saudi Arabia issued a pointed warning, saying Iran must use any economic gains from the lifting of sanctions to improve the lives of Iranians, “rather than using them to cause turmoil in the region, a matter that will meet a decisive reaction from the nations of the region,” in a statement carried on the state news agency late Tuesday. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Other Gulf monarchies sought to show some cautious optimism. The president of the United Arab Emirates, which has longstanding trade ties to Iran, and the emir of Kuwait, who visited Tehran last year in an effort to improve relations, each sent congratulations to Iran and expressed hope the agreement will contribute to regional security and stability.On the nuclear issue itself, Arab countries have shown skepticism that a deal would stop Iran from building a weapon. In its statement Tuesday, Saudi Arabia withheld judgment on the final accord, but underlined it always wanted an agreement that guarantees Iran cannot develop a bomb, includes a strict inspection mechanism for all sites — including military ones — and ensures a swift re-imposition of sanctions if Tehran violates the deal.Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, warned earlier this year that a deal might fuel a regional arms race.Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Badr Abdelattie, said his country hopes the deal would be “a step toward a region free of nuclear weapons”– a project Egypt has been lobbying for in the United Nations for long, with its eyes on Israel’s all but confirmed arsenal. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like But foremost on the minds of Iran’s opponents in the region was the worry that the deal strengthens its hand in the region’s conflicts.“This agreement, from our point of view, represents an indirect threat to Gulf and Arab interests and peace,” said Tariq Al-Shammari, a Saudi analyst and president of the Council of Gulf International Relations.Behind the scenes, he said, Gulf Arab countries will work to try and keep Iran isolated politically and economically, he added, pointing out that Saudi Arabia in particular has already moved to improve ties with Russia, which is a strong ally of Iran.Syrian rebels were alarmed, warning that now Iran will feel free to infuse even more cash and weapons to prop up Assad’s overstretched army.“This agreement translates into more barrel bombs, more massacres and more blood across Syria,” said a rebel with the Islamic al-Jabha al-Shamiya faction in northern Syria who spoke on condition he be identified by his nom de guerre of Abu Yasser, for his own safety. Barrel bombs are the crude but destructive bombs dropped from Syrian military aircraft that have caused considerable civilian casualties.He said an Iran at peace with the international community will feel “even more at ease” to implement its agenda across the region, including in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. In Iraq, the complex sectarian fault lines make the deal’s impact hard to read. The Iran-U.S. and Iran-Saudi rivalries have fueled tensions in the country for years. At the same time, Iran and the U.S. have recently found themselves on the same side fighting against the Islamic State group, though they have avoided working with each other.Saad al-Hadithi, the spokesman for Iraq’s Shiite prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, called the deal “a catalyst for regional stability” that will lead to better unity in the fight against terrorism.Hamid al-Mutlaq, an Iraqi Sunni lawmaker, was more cautious. “We hope now to see a positive Iranian interference, not a negative one in the region, and to change the way it sees and deals with people of the regional countries,” he said.But Sunni hard-liners in the Arab world were convinced the deal signals U.S. acquiescence to the spread of Iranian power.One prominent Saudi Muslim cleric, Salman al-Ouda, who is often critical of the Saudi government, warned in a tweet that “Iran is moving according to a well-studied clear vision, absorbing its adversaries. Where are the Arab governments? Where is their alternative project to face the challenge?” Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The nuclear deal with Iran was met with a profound wariness in the Arab world, where concerns are widespread that the easing of its international isolation could tip the already bloody contest for power in the region toward Shiite-led Tehran.Arab countries have deep fears of Iran gaining a nuclear weapon, and some have been skeptical that a deal will prevent that from happening. But equally high for key Sunni-dominated Gulf allies of the United States is the worry that a deal gives Iran the means — through an economic windfall — and an implicit green light to push influence in the region.center_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories FILE – In this June 1, 2014, file photo, Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, right, shakes hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a reception ceremony at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran. The emir of Kuwait, on Iran’s nuclear deal agreed on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, sent congratulations to Iran and expressed hope the agreement will contribute to regional security and stability. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File) A hard-line Qatari cleric, Mohammed al-Shinqiti, tweeted that in return for limiting Iran’s nuclear program, “America has something to offer Iran: An Arab world open for its wars.”___Keath reported from Cairo. Associated Press writers Vivian Salama, Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad, Zeina Karam in Beirut, Albert Aji in Damascus, Sarah El Deeb in Cairo and Aya Batrawy in Dubai contributed to this report.__Follow Adam Schreck on Twitter at www.twitter.com/adamschreckCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Mesa family survives lightning strike to homelast_img read more

Travellers cautioned to be wary of Dengue Fever

first_imgTravel Insurance Direct has cautioned travellers to be wary of catching diseases while travelling, with a rise in insurance claims for gastroenteritis and Dengue Fever in 2012.Internal data acquired over the past 12 months revealed medical claims account for 50 percent of all claims from travellers, particularly those who travelled to South East Asia.Travel Insurance Direct travel security expert Phil Sylvester listed a few tips to avoid infection when travelling.“Slop on plenty of insect repellent to exposed skin during the day; when you arrive at your accommodation in Bali look around for any stagnant water; insist on food being prepared freshly for you; stick to bottled water; take a bottle of hand sanitizer with you,” Mr Sylvester said.Research also revealed Bali to be one of the most prominent destinations to obtain the infectious disease.The West Australian Health Department said of the 2,605 reported infectious diseases acquired overseas last year, 41 percent were caught in Indonesia, mostly in Bali.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T. Bali travellers beware, health risk scares.last_img read more

2014 NSW Tourism Awards celebrates 25 years

first_imgSupported by Destination NSW and hosted by the NSW Business Chamber, the official launch marked the 25 year milestone anniversary of the awards, which recognises and rewards the high calibre of tourism offerings in NSW. The festive launch event featured singer and Australian Idol winner Casey Donovan, previous NSW Tourism Award winners and industry VIPs. “We have a lot to be proud of in NSW…in 25 years we have had a 130 per cent increase in international visitors with major increases in tourists from our Asian neighbours,” NSW Business Chamber chief executive officer Stephen Cartwright said, before encouraging tourism businesses in the state to get involved. “The benefits of being involved in the 2014 NSW Tourism Awards include benchmarking your business against colleagues, increased exposure and awareness, expert feedback from the judges and the chance to compete on a national level.” Registrations are currently open with the final date for submissions 15 September.  Finalists will be announced in October with the winning announcements happening 27 November at the NSW Tourism Awards Gala Dinner. Source = ETB News: Lana Bogunovich The 2014 NSW Tourism Awards were officially launched yesterday at First Fleet Park, Circular Quay, bringing together tourism operators from all over New South Wales in a fun and engaging launch festival.last_img read more

Flight Centre Events QLD announce partnership

first_imgSource = ETB News: Tom Neale Flight Centre and Events Queensland have announced a multi-faceted commercial partnership to boost visitors to Queensland.The alliance will attempt to market Queensland to global holidaymakers over the next three years and mean that Flight Centre will prioritise promoting Queensland’s destinations to the world.Queensland’s Minister for Tourism and Major Events Jan Stuckey said that the partnership will be a big boost to inbound tourism in the state.“The agreement will see the two partners work more closely to promote travel to Queensland’s destinations from some of the state’s most valuable visitor markets including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia,” Ms Stuckey said.“This partnership with Australia’s largest travel retailer will promote Queensland as the premier tourist destination and deliver on the election promise to grow tourism as one of the four pillars of the economy.“The Queensland Government’s 20-year plan for tourism Destination Success outlines the importance of partnering with industry to support the growth of tourism in the state, working toward the goal of $30 billion in overnight visitor expenditure by 2020.”Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner said that the agreement means that Queensland’s destinations will be getting the recognition and promotion they deserve year round.“It’s a major destination for our customers in Australia and abroad, particularly in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, so we welcome the opportunity to strengthen our offering for travellers.”“We expect to see the Queensland tourism market grow substantially over the next few years as we gear up for major events such as the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast,” Mr Turner said.last_img read more

Starwood is moving and shaking – its brand and its executives

first_imgStarwood is moving and shaking – its brand and its executives. The hotels and resorts company announced today sweeping changes in its senior team as it moves to drive its global brand.“I look forward to working with our new Global Brand Leaders as we sharpen the focus on Starwood’s unique and desired brands,” said Starwood’s CEO Adam Aron, commenting on the announcement.Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. said the moves build upon its legacy of brand innovation and demonstrate the company’s commitment to creating unique and compelling experiences for guests across its 10 distinct brands.“Our brands are the heart and soul of Starwood,” said Aron. “Starwood’s reputation for brand innovation is legendary and a key reason we have been able to drive growth. We are investing in our global brand organization to further invigorate innovation, marketing and guest experience across all of our more than 1,200 Starwood hotels around the world.”To lead this effort, Starwood has appointed John Peyton to the new role of Senior Vice President, Brands and Shared Services. Peyton, who most recently led the company’s Global Initiatives team, will combine his expertise in global operations and brand building to drive innovation and ensure Starwood’s 10 brands remain crisp in the eyes of guests, customers and developers. During his 15-year tenure at Starwood, Peyton has held a number of senior operations and marketing positions, and in 2005, he led a significant brand positioning effort for Starwood, called Building World Class Brands – a defining moment in the company’s evolution as a brand powerhouse. In his new role, Peyton will also oversee food and beverage, revenue management and Starwood’s integration strategy for Design Hotels. He will report directly to Aron.Starwood Looks to Strong Bench of Talent for Leadership across Its 10 BrandsSource = Starwood Hotels & Resortslast_img read more

Chinese Drama we are in love falls for Sydney

first_imgChinese Drama we are in love falls for SydneyChinese Drama we are in love falls for SydneySydney’s popular tourist attractions and experiences were shared globally with around 1.5 billion television and online viewers when the latest season of the popular Chinese drama TV show, We Are In Love aired in China this week.Now in its third season, We Are In Love is one of the most recognised TV shows in China and airs on the Jiangsu Television Network. It pairs up single celebrities to experience what life could be like if they were to fall in love. Couples are assigned romantic missions such as travelling or cooking together. The program is famous for its romantic narrative and luxurious overseas destinations.The episodes shot in Sydney featured Ming Dao, a Taiwanese model, actor and singer with boy band 183 Club, and Angel Wang, Chinese actress and model. The celebrities enjoyed staying at the Shangri-la Hotel, exploring Circular Quay and The Rocks, and taking part in a cooking class at the Sydney Seafood School at Sydney Fish Market.The filming, which took place in July with a 55 person crew and celebrities, was supported by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW and Tourism Australia.In the year ended March 2017, Sydney was the most visited Australian destination by Chinese visitors, receiving 59% of travellers from Mainland China heading to the Harbour City^.Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Chipchase said “China is an important tourism market for NSW with Chinese visitors spending nearly $3 billion in the State annually, a figure that increased by 15.8% on the previous year.”“This episode of We Are In Love will feature our Harbour City’s natural beauty, outdoor experiences and delicious dining scene to capture the viewers’ attention and inspire them to book their next holiday in Sydney,” she said.NSW received 700,500 overnight visitors from Mainland China in the year ended March 2017, an increase of 14.4% on the previous year. Chinese visitors stayed nearly 19 million nights in NSW.Source = Destination NSWlast_img read more

Colourful Cuba – get in quick with roomsXML

first_imgColourful Cuba – get in quick with roomsXML roomsXML has over 96,000 properties worldwide . If you are unsure about which property to book, always check for the ‘Preferred’ logo next to the hotel; that means its been recommended by other Travel Agents. Thanks for Wikitravel for the tips. roomsXML.comconnect today roomsXML.comdiscover more here Source = roomsxml.comcenter_img We all know Cuba by their cigars, colourful cars, and dictators. For decades, officially cut off from much of the western world (moreso the USA), the last few years has provided a much needed ‘new’ destination for travellers, and allowed the Cuba people to increase their standard of living. Agent can now sell Cuba to their clients without any of the previous hassle.The largest of the Caribbean islands,  Cuba is only 145km from Florida making it a perfect destination for those visiting the US.Not fully commercialised in the same way other popular destinations have been, Cuba has a raw authenticity, that many adventurous pax crave;  however, it still has more than enough luxury accommodation for those requiring the finest in comfort and service !The country is undergoing a renaissance and will take a little time to upgrade some of the hotels to the standard Australian and New Zealand clients would expect; but if nothing Cuba is authentic. There are plenty of luxury hotels such as the Iberostar Laguna Azul in Varadero, and the Melia Havana, both of which roomsXML has at phenominal rates. Don’t forget to get a Che t-shirt.Varadero: Luxury hotels, resorts and miles of clean beaches, and the countries only full golf course.roomsXML has 72 Properties in VaraderoHavana: the Cuban capital city, the largest city, and major Port. Head to Old Havana for the traditional feel, and for the equivalent of surburban Havana head to Vedado. Don’t miss the mass of different archituectural styles such as Colonial, Baroque, Art Deco and modernism.roomsXML has 68 Properties in Havanalast_img read more