Ottawa announces genderneutral passports

first_imgOttawa announces gender-neutral passports Tags: Canada Share Monday, August 28, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img OTTAWA — Canadian activists lobbying for gender-neutral options on government documents say Ottawa has sent an important message in support of their cause by announcing the arrival of passports that allow people to opt out of declaring themselves as either male or female.The federal government had long indicated that gender-neutral passports were on their way, but formally announced the move on Thursday. Canadians who don’t want to specify a male or female gender will now have the option to indicate their preference on passport application forms starting on August 31st.Those who want to take advantage of the new rule will have to write an observation on their form saying they’d like to see their gender identified as “x” before new forms can be printed offering the neutral option alongside “m” and “f.”Activists say the federal government’s move sends a clear message the provinces need to be more proactive in recognizing non-binary residents _ a term used to define someone who doesn’t identify as male or female.More news:  GLP Worldwide introduces first-ever Wellness programsThey say the process of applying for gender-neutral passports will be complicated by the fact that many provinces still don’t offer gender-neutral forms of identification, adding they hope Thursday’s announcement will urge the provinces to follow suit.Some provinces have begun recognizing gender-neutrality on official documents, though the practice is far from widespread. Posted by The Canadian Press last_img read more

Choose Fun with Carnival Cruise Lines new brand campaign

first_img Travelweek Group MIAMI — Carnival Cruise Line has launched a new campaign that focuses on ‘fun’, encouraging passengers to ‘Choose Fun’ both onboard and ashore.Together with its newly appointed ad agency of record, Anomaly, the cruise line created a campaign to connect the same activities that vacationers enjoy on land with those offered onboard on a one-to-one personalized level. ‘Choose Fun’ is designed to attract those who have never cruised, inviting them to be their truest self and have fun with others.“As America’s Cruise Line, Carnival has always delivered on our brand promise of fun, memorable vacations at a great value,” said Carnival’s President Christine Duffy. “This new campaign promises to be an irresistible invitation for prospects to rethink their beliefs about cruising and consider Carnival as their new vacation.” Tags: Carnival Cruise Line, Marketing Share ‘Choose Fun’ with Carnival Cruise Line’s new brand campaign Posted by Monday, January 8, 2018 The ‘Choose Fun’ campaign launches with two different sets of advertising: longer-length testimonials from first-time cruisers who were initially reluctant to set sail, and six-second video snippets featuring a fun activity aboard a Carnival ship. There are three testimonials in total – ‘Excursions’, ‘Stacy Tracy’ and ‘Insta-worthy’ – while videos showcase such activities as biking on SkyRide, getting a massage at Cloud 9 Spa, performing at Lip Sync Battle, and enjoying the Punchliner Comedy Club.More news:  Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJChoose Fun will come to life in digital display, paid social and modular online videos on platforms such as Amazon Video, Hulu, Roku and Vevo.“We believe Choose Fun is a bumper sticker Carnival guests would proudly identify with – a rallying cry that inspires those who have never cruised to give it a try. After all, when given a choice between more fun or less fun, who wouldn’t choose more fun?” added Carnival’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Mayor. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

The Cayman Islands launches Worry Free Hurricane Guarantee

first_imgThe Cayman Islands launches Worry Free Hurricane Guarantee Travelweek Group GRAND CAYMAN — The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism is promoting a ‘Worry Free Hurricane Guarantee’, with on-island partners vowing to cover any cancellations made prior to arrival and compensation if vacation time is cut short due to inclement weather during a Cayman Islands getaway.The destination says it wants to put travellers’ minds at ease and let them know they can book a getaway to the Cayman Islands and receive cancellation coverage in the event of a storm.The Worry Free Guarantee includes a full refund of accommodation fees at participating hotels, condos and villas island-wide, with a maximum one-night penalty at most for cancellations made up to 48 hours prior to check-in as soon as a hurricane watch is issued by authorities. Many properties on-island are also offering a free replacement stay throughout the summer months, allowing guests to rebook for the same duration as the initially-booked stay, regardless of how many days were affected by a hurricane or storm.“In the Cayman Islands, we strive to not only provide unforgettable and relaxing vacations, but most importantly through this generous program, we offer our guests a seamless solution for when travel disruptions occur,” says Rosa Harris, Director of Tourism for the Cayman Islands. “It’s Caymankind to give peace of mind, and with our Hurricane Guarantee, I am pleased we can provide travellers relief knowing they can plan a vacation to our beautiful islands despite seasonal considerations and inclement weather.”An long list of hotels, condominiums and villas across Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are participating in the Worry Free Hurricane Guarantee. The program is available only through participating hotels and resorts. For a list of properties and their policies see https://www.visitcaymanislands.com/en-us/about-cayman/weather/hurricane-guarantee. For detailed property guarantees travel agents and travellers are asked to visit the individual property websites or contact the properties directly. Posted by Tags: Cancellations, Cayman Islands, Hurricanecenter_img Friday, June 1, 2018 Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Air Italys Canadian GSA contract goes to Anjuna

first_imgTags: Air Italy, Anjuna Air Italy’s Canadian GSA contract goes to Anjuna Share Posted by TORONTO — Global airline services company Anjuna has been appointed as Air Italy’s GSA representative in Canada.Air Italy launched six weekly flights from Toronto (YYZ) to Milan (MXP) on May 6, with connections to its Italian domestic and international networks. The carrier also currently operates five weekly flights from Miami (MIA), seven weekly flights from New York (JFK), four weekly flights from Los Angeles (LAX) and four weekly flights from San Francisco (SFO).“We are honored to lead Air Italy’s initiative to grow its footprint in the Canadian aviation markets,” said Mable Tang, Managing Director of Anjuna. “Our partnership will expand Air Italy’s world class global services, provide an enhanced customer experience for all passenger classes, and deepen Air Italy’s presence in the Canadian market.”The exclusive agreement with Anjuna will promote Air Italy’s direct flight with competitive fares from Toronto. All flights will be operated with its latest long-haul Airbus A330-200, two class configuration aircraft which includes lay flat Business Class seating.More news:  Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksSays Air Italy Chief Operating Officer Rossen Dimitrov: “Following the launch of our new direct flights from Milan Malpensa to Toronto, it is critical that we have the support of our General Sales Agent Anjuna to help us grow and develop the market – and we have every confidence in Anjuna being able to do this.”center_img Travelweek Group Friday, May 17, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Tico Times on vacation for Semana Santa

first_imgThe Tico Times office, like most businesses in San José, will close next week, March 25-31, in observance of Semana Santa, or Easter Holy Week.We will open for normal business hours at 8 a.m. on April 1. Please check for news updates throughout the week, and for breaking news tips, please write editor David Boddiger at: dboddiger@ticotimes.net. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img

For US President Obama a renewed focus on climate

first_imgRelated posts:El Niño intensifying, could rival strongest in recorded history World failing to meet emissions level required to stave off disastrous global warming, analysts say 51 countries just released their climate plans – and they’re still not strong enough It’s official: 2015 ‘smashed’ 2014’s global temperature record. It wasn’t even close WASHINGTON, D.C. – The satellite images viewed by U.S. President Barack Obama before a meeting with eight Western governors were stark, showing how snowpack in California’s mountains had shrunk by 86 percent in a single year.“It was a ‘Houston, we have a problem’ moment,” recalled White House counselor John Podesta, one of two aides who briefed the president that February day. Obama mentioned the images several times as he warned the governors that political leaders had no choice but to cope with global warming’s impact.After years of putting other policy priorities first – and dismaying many liberal allies in the process – Obama is now getting into the weeds on climate change and considers it one of the key components of his legacy, according to aides and advisers.He is regularly briefed on scientific reports on the issue, including a national climate assessment that he will help showcase Tuesday. He is using his executive authority to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other sources, and is moving ahead with stricter fuel-efficiency standards for the heaviest trucks.And while he routinely brings up climate change in closed-door meetings with world leaders, according to his aides, he also discusses it in his private life, talking about global warming’s implications with his teenage daughters.“This is really real for him, in terms of what he’s leaving,” said Cecilia Munoz, who directs the White House Domestic Policy Council and has helped coordinate federal investment in climate-resilient infrastructure projects. “This is personal for him.”It’s a notable transformation for a politician who as a senator talked in grand terms about the need to combat global warming but adopted a much more constrained approach in the run-up to his 2012 reelection. Environmentalists also remain anxious about Obama’s delay in making a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, one of the movement’s signature issues.Coal and gas industry officials say they are increasingly alarmed by Obama’s focus on climate change, saying administration policies are unrealistic and do not recognize how hydraulic fracturing has transformed the ability to extract oil and gas from the ground.“They want a complete transformation from the hydrocarbon molecule to the electron, and their refusal to accept reality continues to frustrate me,” said Charles Drevna, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. “So my question is, why are we doing this? Is it because he promised to do it when he came into office? Is it because he’s got a large donor out there dangling a lot of money? Is it because he really believes it and is passionate about doing it? Or is it all of the above?”As a senator from Illinois, Obama delivered a major speech on climate change, and he described the night he won the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” As president, Obama enacted the first carbon limits for cars and light-duty trucks and helped push through a House bill that would have imposed a national limit on greenhouse gas emissions.But that 2009 measure stalled in the Senate, and during his first term the president’s top aides were sharply divided on how aggressively to push climate policy at a time when U.S. citizens were anxious about the economy, according to several former senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Appointees including Lisa Jackson, who served as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, and John Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology, argued that he needed to take the issue on; White House aides such as senior adviser David Axelrod and two chiefs of staff – Rahm Emanuel and William Daley – considered it a liability.“There was a sense then it just wasn’t the sort of thing you could tee up in [2011], with an election coming up,” Daley said in an interview. “With respect to my friends in the environment community, to put this at the front of the list, you might as well have taken a gun to your head and shot yourself.”At the same time, administration officials watched as natural gas production exploded in the United States, providing utilities, manufacturers and other industries with a less-carbon-intense form of energy. Jason Bordoff, senior director for energy and climate change at the National Security Council during the first term, said the president came to embrace an “all of the above” energy strategy because he saw the economic benefits associated with natural gas and the role that it could play in bridging the nation’s transition to renewable energy.“I don’t think ‘all of the above’ is just a slogan,” said Bordoff, now a professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University. “I think it is what people really think is the right policy approach.”Even so, Obama has remained wary of some of the risks stemming from hydraulic fracturing, including the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. When the subject of natural gas came up during a Nov. 30, 2012, meeting of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Obama turned to Holdren and his deputy assistant for energy and climate change, Heather Zichal.“Do we have an accurate accounting of methane emissions, and do we have a problem there?” Zichal recalled the president asking. The White House announced a new methane strategy – which will include additional federal regulations – in March.Hurricane Sandy also helped convince Obama that the United States needs to rethink the way it rebuilds after disasters, aides said. Coal industry officials, such as the president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Robert “Mike” Duncan, said that approach is misguided and aims to drum up support for more-aggressive climate regulations.“He’s spending money, in my view, in the wrong place,” Duncan said in an interview. “He needs to be focused on the economy, and the balance has gotten out of hand.”For the president – who recognizes that global warming ranks as a low priority among voters – the issue has become as much about evangelizing as rulemaking.After his re-election, Obama told chief speechwriter Jon Favreau to make climate change “one of the big sections” in his second inaugural address, Favreau recalled. The move surprised even some of his closest aides.Delivering on that promise of action – through the EPA’s upcoming rule to curb carbon emissions from existing power plants – will spark a political and legal fight, but even top utility executives say they think they will be able to live with the proposal the EPA will issue in June. Thomas Farrell, chief executive of Dominion Resources, said the agency showed flexibility when it imposed limits on mercury in 2011 and appears poised to do so again.“We don’t set the rules, but we think it’s our job to let the people setting the rules know what their impact will be,” Farrell said. “I think they have been listening to that.”But Obama still faces the risk of opposition from his left flank. Environmentalists such as Democratic donor and billionaire Tom Steyer want him to veto the Keystone pipeline and wean the nation from natural gas.Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke said of the administration: “We have to increasingly get them to acknowledge that there has to be a major transformation away from fossil fuels.”The White House has stayed out of the State Department’s review of the pipeline project, according to current and former senior administration officials, though Obama has been briefed on the issue. Top White House aides signed off on the move last month to postpone a decision until after a legal battle over the pipeline’s Nebraska route is resolved.In the meantime, Obama is pressing the case for carbon cuts abroad as well as domestically. In his recent bilateral discussions with the leaders of Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, the president spent significant time talking about climate, according to aides. He raised concerns with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye about their financing of coal-fired plants in the developing world, aides said.On Tuesday, the White House’s reinvigorated strategy will be on full display. Back in June 2009, the administration’s low-key launch of its second national climate assessment received only a smattering of coverage from regional papers. This time, Obama will conduct interviews from the White House with local and national TV meteorologists, who will also be briefed by senior administration officials.Podesta said U.S. citizens will be more willing to embrace meaningful limits on carbon emissions once they recognize their impact.“They’re going to feel risks in their own lives, and then they will be willing to act,” Podesta said. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Foreign firms compete in historic Mexico oil auction

first_imgMEXICO CITY, Mexico — U.S., European and Asian energy firms will compete Wednesday in Mexico’s first oil auction since a historic reform brought back private investors, nearly 80 years after they were kicked out.The government is offering 14 blocks in shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico worth an estimated $17 billion in total, in a contest that includes seven consortiums and 18 individual companies.Foreign and new Mexican companies have been preparing for months for this moment, the climax of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s marquee reform, which was enacted last year following a heated debate in Congress over sharing a source of national pride.The legislation breaks the monopoly on drilling held by state-run firm Pemex since the industry’s 1938 nationalization.Peña Nieto hopes that the arrival of foreign investment will reverse years of declining production and give a boost to the economy.U.S. giants ExxonMobil and Chevron, Anglo-Australian firm BHP Billion, India’s state-run ONGC Videsh Ltd, Russia’s Lukoil, France’s Total and Chinese-owned Nexen are among the firms bidding on an individual basis.While Pemex is in the mix, officials said the Mexican firm will sit out this time and likely bid in another auction in the future.Some of the consortiums include Italy’s ENI, Thailand’s Petronas Carigali and other firms, including from Mexico.‘First test’While 14 locations off the southeastern coast are up for grabs, Energy Minister Pedro Joaquín Coldwell played down expectations that all would be auctioned off. Coldwell said that, based on international examples, between 30 percent and half of the blocks will have winning bids.“It seems realistic to me,” David Enríquez, an energy expert at Mexico City’s Goodrich, Riquelme y Asociados law firm, told AFP. “It’s natural that not all fields are awarded in one round.”Of the blocks up for bid, four have drawn medium to high interest, while four others have average demand and the rest are less attractive, he said.The sharp drop in global oil prices is also playing a part in investor sentiment. For the auction to be deemed “sufficiently” successful, Mexico would have to award at least the four most attractive blocks, Enríquez said.“It’s important because it will be the first test” of the energy reform and a way for companies to get a feel for Mexico’s oil auction system, he said. “It will be like training.”But David Shields, an industry analyst and director of the magazine Energía a Debate, said the government was being “totally pessimistic.”“It would be very strange to me if they didn’t award almost all the blocks,” Shields said.“There’s always the risk that many of the blocks will be concentrated in the hands of one company. One or two companies could dominate,” he said.Coldwell said bigger oil firms may sit out the first round and save themselves for the bigger, more complicated projects such as deep-water and inland shale gas drilling.“We think that the first round must be evaluated once everything has been developed,” he told reporters last week.Televised auctionOil auctions are a new thing for Mexico and officials said they wanted to make them transparent. Wednesday’s auction will be shown live on a web and satellite broadcast, said National Hydrocarbon Commission president Juan Carlos Zepeda.Representatives of each company will place their sealed bids into 14 boxes. A camera will zoom in when envelopes are opened and the winner will be picked on the basis of the highest bid.“In terms of transparency, we are above international norms,” Zepeda said.The companies will bid without knowing beforehand the minimum percentage that the government will want to earn for each project.Analysts say the government made an effort to create a transparent system to ease any concerns over the country’s poor track record when it comes to corruption. Last year, Peña Nieto abruptly canceled a contract for a bullet train project that had been awarded to a Chinese-led consortium, angering Beijing.His decision came days before a news report that his wife had bought a mansion from a Mexican firm that was part of the consortium. Facebook Comments Related posts:Mexico to spend $23 billion to cut greenhouse gases Four dead, 16 injured in fiery blast at Mexico oil rig Mexico’s Peña Nieto wants expert debate on marijuana legalization Budget woes threaten Mexico’s reputation as a conservation leaderlast_img read more

5 questions for a Costa Rican filmmaker – Im hungry to make

first_imgAndré Robert’s career has just begun, but what it lacks in years, it makes up for in ambition. In just a year and half, the Costa Rican filmmaker has already made two short films – the first of which, “Zafiro,” will be featured at the Shnit Festival here in Costa Rica in October, and later at the PNR Film Festival in Madrid – and is preparing to produce his first feature. In addition, Robert is working in advertising at the Tribu Agency, and as a freelance producer of television commercials. Asked to name the producers and directors that influence him, he goes straight to the top: Lars Von Trier, David Fincher, Alexander Payne, Terrence Malick, the Coen brothers, and Michael Haneke.The Tico Times met up with Robert for some Argentine empanadas at a restaurant on Paseo Colón in San José, where he talked film, tragedy and big dreams. Excerpts follow.Why did you become a filmmaker?I didn’t know that I wanted to be a filmmaker. When I finished high school I studied French at the University of Costa Rica, but I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t like it, and I have always had an inclination for arts. When I was a child my cousin and I used make videos. We filmed Legos or even ourselves, “acting,” and in high school we loved to do video projects whenever possible. So, that is where this love about telling stories through camera began.Actually, at first I wanted to be an actor, so I went to a workshop in Los Angeles and I found out that I suck at acting. So, I started looking for more options and, I had the opportunity to study production at Loyola Marymount University. I went to Germany to make a documental about a Cuban girl who went to Germany to study, but ended up being exiled from Cuba, so she couldn’t get back to her country or see her children. She could talk to them once a month, just for a couple of minutes. She let me be part of it, and tell her story. By that time, I spoke English, but I was in a country where German is spoken, so I noticed that the best way to communicate was through the camera.What do film production and direction mean to you?As time goes on and I produce more stuff, I feel more identified with it. It is a way of self-treatment. Some people go to the psychologist, I do production. Well, I also go to the psychologist [laughs], but film is a tool to explore myself. It lets me see things about myself, from a certain distance, and I like that. Filming has been a tool for catharsis, to deal with stuff. And it is really gratifying, because at first I saw myself all alone and devastated, but then people come and get interested in your work and get involved in it.If something is bothering me and I need to get it out, that will be the inspiration of that moment. I think that perhaps one day I’ll see my life through my movies.Tell us about “Zafiro,” your first short film.When I was in my last year of university and writing my thesis, I got the news that my father had brain cancer, so I had to pause my studies. I came back to Costa Rica to be with him. During that process, I wrote the script of “Zafiro” (“Sapphire”). Sadly, my dad passed away and I had to return to the States to finish my studies. That was a quite difficult time; I was all alone with the sadness of what had just happened. I needed to do something and stay busy. I thought I could finish writing “Zafiro” and use that as my thesis. I came back to Costa Rica last year to film it, edited it in the States, and returned to Costa Rica in January to finish the music.The most difficult part was to see how it was constantly changing. Sometimes it was out of my control. For example, at first it was a comedy, and during the filming process it changed into a drama. That has been my grief: to let go of the movie, and my dad as well, because we had a really close relationship.Why did you want to make “Zafiro” in Costa Rica?“Zafiro” was filmed at Cuajiniquil Beach [in Guanacaste], a really beautiful place. Not many people know it, but my family used to have a house there starting about 50 years ago, a little wooden house. That was the place where my dad was raised, and where I was raised too. From the very moment I started writing the script, I knew that was where I wanted to film it. I went with a crew of 25 people to the beach for 11 days to film it. It was a really cool experience, really tuanis, because I was able to express something through the cameras that was all my own. To be there was so emotional for me.Tell us about your future projects.As I was finishing “Zafiro” I wrote the script for another short film, “Martes, 8:30″(“Tuesday, 8:30”). It is a psychological thriller about a girl who, during a psychoanalysis session, explores her fantasies with an older man. We filmed it in August, and right now I’m in the editing process, preparing to send it to festivals.“Los Wildkatzen” will be my first [full-length] film. I’m writing the script with my cousins, who I usually work with. We already have the step outline and characters, but before we continue I want to be done with “Zafiro” and “Martes, 8:30.” I think I’m hungry to make movies, but I have to slow things down and do it calmly. So, the movie will maybe wait for next year and perhaps be filmed in 2017, because also I want to look for economic support.The movie will be a satirical comedy. I want to express why people grow their egos, and other people feed their egos. How it changes your life and can make you live a life that is not yours. It’s about a billionaire family who say they are really close,  but what really keep them together is the money. The main character wants to make his first movie and become famous, but things will get rough. Also, we will touch on the topic of homosexuality, which hasn’t been explored here in the country [on film]. When you have self-acceptance, everything gets better.My future aspirations? Honestly, to have the possibility to produce the films I want to, to be able to live off of it. There are a lot of actors I’d love to work with, photography production, working with different sorts of cameras. There’s a lot I’d love to do. If I become a dreamer and feed my own ego, I’d say that one of my aspirations is to see one of my movies at the Cannes Film Festival. I’m just beginning my career, but I know that if you don’t believe it, no one is gonna believe it. Of course, you have to be humble and to know why you are telling the story.Read other “Weekend Arts Spotlight” interviews here.Our “Weekend Arts Spotlight” presents Sunday interviews with artists who are from, working in, or inspired by Costa Rica, ranging from writers and actors to dancers and musicians. Do you know of an artist we should consider, whether a long-time favorite or an up-and-comer? Email us at kstanley@ticotimes.net. Facebook Comments Related posts:‘Mad Max: Fury Road’: Baby, it was born to run 5 questions for a Costa Rican actress – ‘Theater keeps my heart full of passion’ 5 questions for a Costa Rican filmmaker – ‘It’s important to leave people thinking’ 5 questions for Costa Rican actor and musician Javier Leñerolast_img read more

6 camouflaged Costa Rican creatures you probably havent seen

first_imgThe jungle can be a scary place, and even for some of the fiercest of Costa Rica’s creatures, sometimes the best defense is just to hide. Fortunately, these six animals have figured out a way to hide out in plain sight. Potoos will stretch out their necks and freeze when predators are near so that they blend into the stump they are perched on. (Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons)1) The PotooNorthern potoo (Nyctibius jamaicensis), common potoo (Nyctibius griseus), great potoo (Nyctibius grandis)A dead, bare tree stump might not seem like the best place to seek out wildlife, but if you are trying to spot one of Costa Rica’s three species of potoos, that’s exactly where you should look. As nocturnal insectivores, potoos rarely fly during the day. Instead, they perch on top of thin tree stumps. With their dark, speckled plumage, the potoos blend in with the dead trees. When they detect danger, they freeze, extending their necks upward so that they appear to be part of the tree. Potoos also use this technique to protect their unhatched eggs. Rather than constructing a nest, potoos lay a single egg on a branch or stump. The male and female potoos then take turns sitting on the egg to camouflage it from monkeys and other egg predators. Parent potoos continue to sit on their young to camouflage them for two months. Once the baby potoo is too large to hide under its parents, it will adopt the same freeze behavior as its parents. With their white feathers, the baby potoos often look like fungus to predators. Some leaf-mimic katydids have such detailed camouflage that you can find what look like leaf veins on their skin. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)2) Leaf-mimic katydid(Mimetica spp.)To conceal themselves from birds and other predators, several species of katydids have evolved camouflage that resembles leaves. The wings of the bug are often crinkled to resemble actual leaves, and some katydids’ camouflage is so detailed that you can see what look like leaf veins on their skin. There are both brown and green variations of the insect that take on the appearance of either living green leaves or dead brown ones. Silky anteaters hide out in kapok trees where they resemble the fuzzy balls formed by the flowering fruits. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)3) Silky anteater(Cyclopes didactylus)Though the silky anteater is not very rare, it is almost impossible to spot due to its excellent camouflage. The nocturnal anteater hides out in the branches of kapok trees during the day, curling up into a ball to sleep and blending in with the kapok tree’s pods, which are of similar color and texture to the anteater’s fur. The golden morph of the eyelash pit viper can only be found in Costa Rica where it often hides out in trees with yellow palm fruits. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)4) Eyelash pit viper(Bothriechis schlegelii)Though smaller and less aggressive than some of Costa Rica’s other venomous snakes, the eyelash pit viper can still be lethal to humans, and with its variations of vibrant colors, the eyelash pit viper is as beautiful as it is deadly. In Costa Rica, eyelash pit vipers come in brown, gray, light blue and rust-colored. There is also a bright golden morph of the snake that can only be found in Costa Rica and aids the viper in blending in with palm fruits. The snake’s “eyelashes” are a small row of scales over its eyes that biologists believe the snake uses to distinguish its profile from other snakes and aid in camouflage. Bransford’s litter frog camouflaged in a forest in Costa Rica. (Courtesy of Getty Images)5) Bransford’s litter frog(Craugastor bransfordii)Though Bransford’s litter frog is perhaps the most common frog in Costa Rica, chances are you haven’t seen it. Using variations of colors and textures, Bransford’s litter frog is able to blend in with the wet forests along the country’s Caribbean slope. The Celerio Sister caterpillar employs elaborate camouflage to protect itself before it becomes a butterfly. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)6) Celerio Sister caterpillar(Adelpha serpa celerio)Before morphing into a beautiful orange, white and black butterfly, the Celerio Sister caterpillar camouflages itself to blend in with mossy tree trunks. The caterpillar dwells in Costa Rica’s rain forests and cloud forests, and has antennae near its head that look like mossy plants. Originally published on Nov. 1, 2014.  Facebook Commentscenter_img Related posts:High-tech backpacks key to saving baby sloths On Pacific beaches, dancing the hermit crab conga Urban flocks (Part 1): 5 common birds of San José Urban flocks (Part 2): 5 more common birds of San Josélast_img read more

PHOTOS Presidentelect Carlos Alvarado visits Casa Presidencial

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica meets its new presidential candidates – fresh from the middle of the pack Watch Carlos Alvarado and Justin Trudeau’s first conversation More of our favorite pics from Costa Rica’s inauguration Legislative assembly president bikes to Costa Rica’s inauguration ceremony President-elect Carlos Alvarado visited Casa Presidencial in the eastern San José district of Zapote this week, meeting with outgoing President Luis Guillermo Solís and presidential staffers.Alvarado and his wife, Claudia Dobles, toured the presidential offices with Alvarado’s former boss – the president-elect once served in the Cabinet of President Solís – and First Lady Mercedes Peña.The newly elected leader is in the midst of an abbreviated presidential transition. Because no one candidate reached 40 percent of the vote in Costa Rica’s first election on Feb. 4, Alvarado participated in a runoff against conservative candidate Fabricio Alvarado on April 1. The victor will take office on May 8 at the Plaza de la Democracia in downtown San José. Alvarado addresses Casa Presidencial staff. AFP Photo / Ezequiel Becerra From left to right, Costa Rican First Lady Mercedes Penas, President-elect Carlos Alvarado, President Luis Guillermo Solis and future First Lady Claudia Dobles meet in the Office of the President. AFP Photo / Ezequiel Becerra Alvarado signs the guest book. AFP Photo / Ezequiel Becerra Back in January, this is not an image pollsters thought we’d be seeing at Casa Presidencial in April 2018. AFP Photo / Ezequiel Becerra Facebook Commentslast_img read more

In Egypt turmoil thieves hunt pharaonic treasures

first_img More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories Sponsored Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Horrified archaeologists and antiquities authorities are scrambling to prevent smuggling, keeping a watch on European and American auction houses in case stolen artifacts show up there.“Criminals became so bold they are digging in landmark areas.” including near the Great Pyramids in Giza, other nearby pyramids and the grand temples of the southern city of Luxor, said Maj.-Gen. Abdel-Rahim Hassan, commander of the Tourism and Antiquities Police Department.“It is no longer a crime motivated by poverty, it’s naked greed and it involves educated people,” he said.In a country with more than 5,000 years of civilization buried under its sands, illegal digs have long been a problem. With only slight exaggeration, Egyptians like to joke you can dig anywhere and turn up something ancient, even if its just pottery shards or a statuette.But in the security void, the treasure hunting has mushroomed, with 5,697 cases of illegal digs since the start of the anti-Mubarak uprising in early 2011_ 100 times more than the previous year, according to figures obtained by The Associated Press from the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police.Related crimes have risen as well _ 1,467 cases of illicit trading in antiquities and 130 attempts to smuggle antiquities abroad. At least 35 people have been killed in incidents connected to illegal digs, including 10 buried alive in the southern city of Naga Hamadi in March when the hole they dug in the ground caved in. Others were killed in disputes when thieves fell out over sharing the finds, according to Interior Ministry officials familiar with the incidents. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press. Comments   Share   4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Four benefits of having a wireless security system Those are just the crimes that police uncovered.In their digs, fortune hunters pick spots that are just outside major archaeological sites in hopes that treasures can be found some distance beyond their parameters. Others dig in areas set aside for future excavations by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egypt’s top state archaeological agency.Last month, police arrested two men who lived just behind the temple of Khnum in the southern town of Esna for illegally digging under their homes. Police said they found a 10-meter (10-yard) deep hole under the houses with hieroglyphic inscriptions dating to the Ptolemaic dynasty as well as ancient clay pots.Farther south in the Nile-side city of Aswan, police last month arrested a government employee who also dug under his house, uncovering clay pots, an incense urn and tablets bearing images of lotus flowers.The ministry officials said the surge reflects in part the failure of the police to fully take charge of security after they melted away on Jan. 28 last year, after deadly clashes with protesters on the fourth day of the 18-day anti-Mubarak uprising. Since then, many police have been balking at investigating crimes and pursuing criminals, whether out of resentment over the “revolution” or because of the continued lack of strong political authority. The night of Jan. 28, thieves broke into the Egyptian Museum, located on the edge of Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the anti-regime uprising and scene of some of the bloodiest clashes between protesters and Mubarak’s hated police. The robbers made off with 51 pieces that were on display _ of which 29 have since been recovered. The most valuable stolen piece, a statue of the Pharaoh Akhenaten, was found by a 16-year-old protester and his family returned it to the museum, the antiquities ministry said at the time.Soon after Mubarak’s Feb, 11, 2011 ouster, the officials said, a Jordanian man was caught trying to smuggle as many as 3,753 artifacts out of Egypt. These, they said, included 48 ancient Egyptian statutes, Roman Age coins and 45 pieces of jewelry dating from the Medieval years of the Islamic era.The months that followed saw a rash of break-ins at antiquity storehouses around the country.“At the end, it’s a question of security,” said Ahmed Mustafa, who until December headed a government department tasked with recovering stolen artifacts. “The robberies of the warehouses took place in broad daylight by armed thieves. Some were raided twice,” said Mustafa, who now lectures on archaeology at a private Cairo college. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Associated PressCAIRO (AP) – Taking advantage of Egypt’s political upheaval, thieves have gone on a treasure hunt with a spree of illegal digging, preying on the country’s ancient pharaonic heritage.Illegal digs near ancient temples and in isolated desert sites have swelled a staggering 100-fold over the past 16 months since a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak’s 29-year regime and security fell apart in many areas as police simply stopped doing their jobs. The pillaging comes on top of a wave of break-ins last year at archaeological storehouses _ and even at Cairo’s famed Egyptian Museum, the country’s biggest repository of pharaonic artifacts. One of the largest warehouse thefts took place a year ago in the Sinai city of Qantara, from which roughly 800 artifacts were stolen or damaged by thieves. The pieces, according to regional antiquities chief Mohammed Abdel-Maqsoud, were mostly clay pots, bronze coins and spears dating back to pharaonic and Islamic items.Nearly 300 of these have been recovered, he said.Now that security has been beefed up at most warehouses, thieves have turned to digging.Mansour Bureik, the chief archaeologist in the Luxor area, said there was little chance treasure hunters would run across gold and gems that they dream of _ which are found only in royal or aristocratic tombs.But Galal Mouawad, a senior archaeologist in the Giza area, said the potential for lucky strikes exist just about anywhere in the country.“Egyptians have over the centuries settled anywhere in Egypt until they have finally settled along the banks of the Nile,” he said. “There is something valuable to be found anywhere.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 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Official Kurdish fighters seize parts of ISheld city

first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy BEIRUT (AP) — A spokesman for the main Syrian Kurdish militia says the Kurds have seized large parts of the strategic border town of Tal Abyad, an Islamic State group stronghold.Redur Khalil says the group known as the YPG has entered Tal Abyad from the east and was advancing toward the west amid fierce clashes with pockets of IS resistance.He told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he expects Tal Abyad to fall “within the next few hours.” He claims that IS fighters holed up in the town have fled toward Turkey. Comments   Share   The loss of Tal Abyad would be a huge blow to the Islamic State group and sever a key supply line for the extremists’ nearby de facto capital of Raqqa.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Syrian refugees carry a baby over the border fence into Turkey from Syria in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, June 14, 2015. Thousands of Syrians cut through a border fence and crossed over into Turkey on Sunday, fleeing intense fighting in northern Syria between Kurdish fighters and jihadis.The flow of refugees came as Syrian Kurdish fighters closed in on the outskirts of a strategic Islamic State-held town on the Turkish border. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona The vital role family plays in society Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

Significant obstacles lie ahead for nuclear talks with Iran

first_img–France: The French have taken a public posture of being even tougher on proliferation than the Americans. They delayed a 2013 interim agreement with Iran out of concern that the deal wasn’t tough enough on Tehran. French officials have made similar complaints about the current, emerging package and threatened to block consensus unless their concerns are addressed.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. –Iranian hardliners: When Iran’s parliament voted last weekend to ban access to military sites, some lawmakers chanted “Death to America.” The scene underscored the deep opposition to any understanding with a country that hardliners in Iran refer to as the “Great Satan.” Backed by Khamenei, they will examine the deal for any sign of concessions. And groups largely beyond the government’s control, such as the Revolutionary Guard Corps, may not be keen to implement the requirements.–Israel: The Jewish state’s leaders have lobbied aggressively against a deal they see as paving the way to a future Iranian nuclear arsenal, which they consider a grave national security threat. Israel has threatened for years to attack nuclear sites if it feels the Iranians are getting too close to weapons capacity. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appealed directly to Congress to maintain sanctions pressure on Iran.–Saudi Arabia: The Saudis, similarly, say they’ll do whatever it takes to guarantee their security. Along with the other Sunni monarchies of the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia is particularly concerned about Iran recouping up to $100 billion in blocked assets overseas and funneling some of that money into insurgencies and terrorist activity throughout the Middle East. The Saudis have been coy on whether they may start a nuclear enrichment program to match Iran’s capabilities in response to an agreement. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Secretary of State John Kerry plays with his crutches as he talks to reporters before leaving from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, June 26, 2015, en route to Vienna, Austria. Kerry flies to Vienna on Friday to join negotiators from six powers and Iran seeking an agreement under which Tehran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions that have crippled its economy. (Carlos Barria/Pool Photo via AP) Sponsored Stories Top Stories 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean But significant obstacles remain.Iran says it won’t allow inspectors to visit military sites and interview scientists to ensure Iranian compliance. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, also says he wants all economic sanctions lifted before the deal is signed, while the U.S., Britain, France, China, Germany and Russia must still agree among themselves – and then with Iran – on a much-slower schedule for rolling back sanctions and a plan for snapping them back into place if the Iranians are caught cheating.Meanwhile, Israel is threatening potential military action to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and Saudi Arabia’s Sunni monarchy is considering an atomic program of its own to match that of its Shiite neighbor.Here is a look at the emerging Iran agreement, the remaining obstacles and the political challenges it faces:—WHAT’S ON THE TABLE?–Enrichment: To ease the biggest threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, negotiators are limiting the number of centrifuges Iran can keep installed to a little more than 6,000 for 10 years. Of these, some 5,000 can be in operation; they can only include Iran’s basic, least efficient model for enriching uranium. Uranium can be enriched for energy, medicine and science purposes, as Iran claims are its goals. It can also be spun into material for a nuclear warhead. The deal locks in place restrictions on Iran’s enrichment so material stays far below weapons-grade. It also forces Iran to deeply cut its stockpile of enriched uranium over 15 years. –Underground enrichment facility: The restrictions are more severe at Iran’s Fordo enrichment facility, dug deep into a mountainside and possibly impervious to an air attack by the United States or Israel. Here, Iran cannot enrich uranium or conduct uranium-related research and development for at least 15 years as the site becomes a nuclear physics and technology research center. Centrifuges running at Fordo must use other material that cannot be turned into bombs.–Breakout time: The enrichment constraints are designed to extend the time it would take Iran to amass enough material for a bomb if it secretly attempts to develop one. The so-called breakout time for Iran is currently around two to three months. The U.S. says the deal extends the timeline to at least a year in the first decade.–Plutonium: Iran must redesign a nearly built heavy water reactor at its facility in Arak so it can’t produce weapons-grade plutonium. The original core of the reactor will be destroyed or exported. The Iranians can’t build another heavy water reactor for 15 years.–Transparency: The U.N’s International Atomic Energy Agency will monitor Iran’s nuclear facilities and have access to the program’s entire supply chain. Inspectors can examine uranium mines and mills, and maintain continuous surveillance of Iran’s centrifuge rotors and storage facilities for unused machines. Iran must allow the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of covert nuclear work. It will work with world powers on a list of actions to help the IAEA resolve decade-old suspicions about past Iranian nuclear weapons work. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like –Sanctions: U.S. and European nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA verifies Iranian compliance. If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be re-imposed. U.N. Security Council resolutions on Iran will be lifted simultaneously with Iran fulfilling commitments related to enrichment, Fordo, Arak and other matters. Disagreements will go to a dispute resolution process.—AREAS OF DISAGREEMENT–Inspections: Iran is playing hardball on military installations that nations have long suspected of nuclear involvement. Khamenei this week rejected allowing inspections or allowing Iranian scientists to be interviewed. The government enacted legislation this week banning such access. The U.S. has backed off its talk of “snap” or “anywhere, anytime” inspections. But it says a deal hinges on monitors being allowed to investigate what they deem necessary and within a reasonable period of time.–Sanctions relief: Iran wants sanctions lifted up front; the West says Iran must first fulfill its responsibilities. Khamenei says the U.S. approach takes too long and would not include a “complete lifting of sanctions.” The Obama administration is hamstrung in how fast it can move because of Congress. It also is struggling to separate sanctions it will suspend in an agreement from others it wants to keep, such as those counteracting Iranian ballistic missile efforts or punishing it for its human rights and terrorism records. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments   Share   5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist VIENNA (AP) — World powers and Iran are back in nuclear talks, and this round may be the deciding one.After nearly a decade of international diplomacy, negotiators are trying to reach a final agreement by Tuesday that would curb Iran’s nuclear activities for a decade and put tens of billions of dollars back into the Iranian economy through the easing of financial sanctions. The deadline is a bit soft; if they reach a deal any time in the next couple of weeks, negotiators will consider it a victory. –Snapback sanctions: World powers must devise a formula among themselves for quickly reinstating sanctions if the Iranians break the accord. For U.N. measures, Russia and China traditionally have opposed any plan that would see them lose their veto power.–Research and development: An April framework between world powers and Iran was vague on permitted levels of research and development. For advanced centrifuges, the U.S. said Iran can engage in “limited” R&D. After 10 years, it said Tehran must adhere to an R&D plan it submits to the IAEA. Khamenei said Iran won’t even accept an initial decade of such restrictions, calling the demands “excessive coercion.”—POLITICAL CHALLENGES–Congress: The Senate can weigh in but voting ‘no’ won’t kill the deal, because President Barack Obama doesn’t need congressional approval for a multinational deal that is not designated a treaty. Lawmakers have 30 days to review the agreement, during which Obama can’t ease penalties on Iran. If negotiations drag on past July 9 without a deal, that review period extends to 60 days. If lawmakers were to build a veto-proof majority behind new legislation enacting new sanctions or preventing Obama from suspending existing ones, the administration would be prevented from living up to the accord.last_img read more

59 quake shakes ColombiaPanama border region

first_img Sponsored Stories 0 Comments   Share   Frightened residents said the earth shook for about 30 seconds. In Acandi and the nearby town of Ungia, power was briefly knocked out and some homes showed cracks.Authorities were still trying to determine if there was damage or injuries in the area, said Walter Valoyes, a spokesman for the Red Cross in Choco province, where the two towns are.In Panama City, the National Assembly was in session and lawmakers were evacuated as a precautionary measure.___Associated Press writer Juan Zamorano in Panama City contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Mesa family survives lightning strike to home BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A strong earthquake shook a sparsely populated region along the border between Colombia and Panama on Tuesday evening. There were no early reports of damage or injuries.The U.S. Geological Service said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.9, while Colombia’s seismological institute put it at 6.1.The epicenter was about 17 miles (29 kilometers) south of the Colombian town of Acandi and 159 miles (258 kilometers) east-southeast of Panama City, a point in the dense Darien Gap jungle area between the two countries. The tremor occurred at 7:10 p.m. about 6 miles (10 kilometers) below the surface. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img read more

Corporates soar as travel freezes thaw

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.C Business travel is returning to healthier volumes following the industry slump of 2008-09, as Australia’s corporate sector relaxes freezes on staff travel. “During the downturn, Australian corporates typically reduced their spend on travel by between 15 percent to 30 percent,” executive general manager for Flight Centre Limited’s corporate division, Shannon O’Brien said. “Now we’re seeing spending levels return to normal as companies in certain industries loosen the purse strings and ramp up their travel activity.” Flight Centre’s corporate division had seen a double-digit increase in the past financial year for both hotel bookings and airfares, said Mr O’Brien.The business travel sector has been one of the slower markets to recover from the GFC, and is only now starting to remove the travel freezes placed during the downturn. “The economic slowdown had some corporates enforcing travel freezes on their staff while others changed their policies to allow ‘essential travel’ only,” Mr O’Brien said. “Now we’re seeing travel freezes lifted, resulting in a higher volume of travellers, taking trips more frequently and further afield. “Business travellers are attending more conferences, internal meetings and the duration of their travel is also starting to increase. We’re also seeing more overnight and interstate stays and an increase in international travel to key corporate hubs in Asia Pacific, the United Kingdom and the United States.”   The corporate sector is also witnessing a shift to budget airlines from small- to medium-sized businesses, with staff being asked to purchase tickets as early as possible. Companies are also pushing for their staff to utilise public transport, rather than taxis, on their way to and from airports during work hours. Increasingly, travel data reporting is being utilised to ensure staff are complying with company travel policies.last_img read more

Global Hotel results for AUS NZ

first_imgThe 11th annual Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Hotel industry conference held in Sydney has revealed the performance of the hospitality Industry for year to date June 2011.The latest STR statistics indicate Sydney occupancy for the year to date June 2011 to be down 0.1 percent to 82.2 percent, however Sydney’s average daily rate (ADR) is up 3.0 percent to AUD180 and revenue per available room (RevPar) is up 2.9 percent to AUD$148.Accor’s vice president Simon McGrath said “in respect to Sydney where supply is flat” he had experienced very good growth for the first half of this year and last year.The Victorian capital showed marginally positive statistics with an occupancy rate up 2.3 per cent to 74 percent while ADR increased 1.9 percent to AUD$176, RevPar also improved 4.2 per cent.“Melbourne has a history of absorbing new supply quickly and this year has shown that again,” Intercontinental Hotel chief operating officer Australasia Bruce McKenzie said.The latest statistics for Queensland showed the capital slightly up, with Brisbane occupancy 79.3 percent up 2.7 percent, ADR at AUD$175 up 5.9 percent and RevPar at AUD$138 up 8.7 percent.“The corporate market is very strong, where Brisbane is weak is weekends and leisure,” said Hilton vice president Australia Ashley Spencer.The Gold Coast proved to be a challenging market with occupancy rate down 6.2 percent, ADR is on AUD$149 up 4.1 percent and Rev Par down 2.4 percent to AUD$94. Similar bad news for Far North Queensland were occupancy rates for Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas combined is down 2.8 percent to 53.1 percent, ADR down 4.1 percent and Rev Par down 6.8 percent.Perth, however reported good results with the city’s occupancy rate up 1.9 percent to 81.6 per cent, ADR up 7.6 percent to AUD$189 and RevPar up an impressive 9.6 percent to AUD$154.Auckland has shown some gains with occupancy up 2.2 percent to 75.9percent, ADR up 1.2 per cent and RevPar up 3.3 per cent to NZD$102.In earthquake-ravaged Christchurch statistics for May 2011 showed hotels from the nine that are open have been busy with an occupancy rate of 62.5 percent up 12.3 percent, ADR at NZD$149 up 29.9 percent and RevPar at NZD$93 up 45.9 percent. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.Plast_img read more

London friendly safe Mayor Johnson

first_imgAlthough the Department of Foreign Affairs and Travel has maintained its ‘exercise caution’ travel advice for holiday-makers planning trips to London, concerns for safety are rising as riots continue in London.Commencing earlier this week in suburbs east of the city, up to 215 people have been arrested for looting and destructive behaviour on the streets of London and according to the Telegraph, foreigners are getting caught in the midst of the uprising.Speaking to the newspaper two Australian women explained that they were “knocked down” at a street party in London and one of the women was even rendered unconscious for a short period.Perth schoolteacher Annie Thompson explained that the incident occurred after a couple of “young boys” ran at police.”Within about five seconds there were about 20 of them lined up against the police in front of us,” Ms Thompson said.“Not too long after that the crowd in front of us screamed and surged forward.”Ms Thompson added the both her and her friend were knocked over and left injured by the crowd.With the Olympics less than a year away, UKInbound chief executive Mary Rance has released an online statement advising travellers to see the riots as a “flash protest” and assured that the city remains one of the safest cities for holiday-markers.“It is highly unfortunate that the riots escalated on Saturday and last night and that criminal behaviour brought such distress to the local communities,” Ms Rance told TTG Digital. “However, we are not alone in public unrest issues, as we have seen in Greece and across Europe this year.“We are buzzing with international tourists. “We take safety incidents very seriously but at the moment it is business as usual.” London’s Mayor Boris Johnson added that recent events should not deter people looking to book trips into the city for the Olympics.“London is one of the friendliest and safest cities in the world compared with cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and New York,” Mayor Johnson said.“People will come to London next year and will have a great games because we’ve put on the greatest show on earth.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Strategic to unveil Air Australia

first_imgStrategic Airlines has set a date to unveil its new brand, as it ditches its full service business model and leaps into the low-cost sector.While revealing its new look on Thursday 3 November this year, the carrier said it will not officially take off as Air Australia until 15 November.With aircraft expected to fly in green and gold livery, the Brisbane based carrier said it is ditching the full service model in order to offer Aussies heading to Bali, Phuket and Hawaii cheaper fares.Earlier this year the carrier’s chief executive Michael James said the change was made to keep up with growing demand for low-cost options in the travel market.”We see a very strong opportunity in the Australian market with Virgin changing its model to focus on corporate and higher-yield passengers, and a large segment of potential domestic and international travellers now somewhat unattended,” Mr James said.”Those are the passengers we are interested in. “Australians are used to regular travel and at a time when interest rates are rising, the cost of living is rising and Australians are even more price-driven than in the past decade, we intend to look after them with a new airline alternative.” Click back onto e-Travel Blackboard later this week for more on Air Australia. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Thailand Tourism Festival 2016 set to reach new heights

first_imgThe Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in cooperation with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration announced the launch of the 36th Thailand Tourism Festival (TTF), which will be held from 13-17 January, 2016, at the iconic Lumphini Park, Bangkok.Aimed at attracting local residents and tourists from all corners of the world, the five-day Thai tourism showcase will be set amid the 360-rai (58 hectare) lush green public park in the heart of the Thai capital, nestled amongst the skyscrapers of Bangkok’s busiest business district.Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of TAT revealed that, “It is TAT’s mission to promote Thai tourism among the Thai people and international visitors, and the TTF is an efficient way to stimulate domestic travel and disperse tourism revenue to all parts of Thai society.“With a focus on content strategy, the TTF 2016 will provide a platform to raise awareness of Thai culture, traditions, heritage, and simple ways of life, as well as stimulate travel driven by the unique identities of our multi-cultural communities nationwide.”Following the success of the Thailand Tourism Festival 2015, the Thailand Tourism Festival 2016 will not only highlight the vernacular spectacle of colourful festivals and vibrant local fairs from the five major regions – North, South, East, Central, and Northeast – that tourists can enjoy all year round, but will also underline the beautiful Thai way of life along with world famous Thai hospitality.From lively festivities to exotic crafts and scrumptious delicacies, the TTF 2016 will provide visitors with first-hand experiences of what each region has to offer.Mr. Yuthasak said, “Under the Discover Thainess theme, the TTF 2016 is set to provide a glimpse into the harmonious mix of Thai cultures and quintessential Thai ways of life. And there’s no better venue than the serene Lumphini Park, which can be easily accessed by the BTS Skytrain and MRT.”The 36th Thailand Tourism Festival will be open from 13-17 January 2016, 12.00 – 22.00 Hrs. The event is expected to draw more than 600,000 visitors generating about 500 million Baht or a 25 per cent increase over 405 million Baht of the 35th event. It is also poised to set the tone for the country’s domestic tourism for 2016, which is targeted to stimulate 150 million trips and 800 billion Baht in income.“TAT plans to elevate the TTF to an international level and to develop a further understanding of environmental mindfulness among Thai tourists. We will campaign for no littering, no drinking alcohol and no smoking at tourist sites, and encourage Thais to be good hosts and join us in the development of our country’s tourism to sustainability, so that Thailand retains our position as the leading destination in ASEAN,” Mr. Yuthasak concluded. Discover ThainessSource = Tourism Authority of Thailandlast_img read more

Westin Hotels Resorts expands its presence in Taiwan

first_imgSource = Westin Hotels & Resorts Westin Hotels & Resorts expands its presence in TaiwanWestin Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott International, Inc. today announced the opening of The Westin Yilan Resort, marking the brand’s first hot spring resort in Taiwan situated in the island’s northeast. Owned by Yilan Lealea Development Holdings Co., Ltd, The Westin Yilan Resort joins The Westin Tashee Resort, as the brand’s second hotel in Taiwan.“The opening of The Westin Yilan Resort not only expands the Westin brand’s footprint in the Greater China region, but also underscores the increasing demand among travelers to regain control of their well-being while on the road in line the brand’s new Let’s Rise campaign,” said Josef Dolp, Area Vice President, Greater China, Marriott International. “The Westin brand is on track to open another 12 hotels in the Greater China region in the next x years, joining the existing portfolio of 23 hotels in the region; and we are thrilled with the momentum.”The Westin Yilan Resort features 85 guest rooms and 6 luxurious pool villas, which are equipped with fresh, natural hot spring water giving guests the pleasure of enjoying private pool experience without leaving their room. The thoughtfully-designed resort feels residential and intimate, yet open and airy: designed with a biophilic-focus, suggesting that a connection to nature enhances well-being. Colors found in nature inspired the sophisticated palette coupled with natural materials and patterns that add textural layers to the interior design.“Only an hour drive from the Taipei metropolitan area, guests at The Westin Yilan Resort can have the best of both worlds – shopping and exploring the city and rejuvenating in nature, in one of the many hot springs in town,” said Tina Tang, General Manager of The Westin Yilan Resort.  “We look forward to introducing travelers to Westin’s signature wellness programs and amenities, created to empower our guests to rise and be their best selves on the road.”The Westin Yilan Resort’s lush landscaping and natural décor surrounds guests, whether they are indulging at the Heavenly Spa by Westin™, swimming laps in the pool, or powering up in the hotel’s expansive WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studio.  For travelers who wish to take their fitness routines outdoors, the hotel features the brand’s signature RunWESTINTM program, offering guests a guided run – led by the hotel’s Run Concierge – through Yilan’s picturesque running trails.  The hotel also offers the Westin brand’s Gear Lending program in partnership with New Balance® – providing workout gear for guests so they can pack light and stay fit on the road.The Westin Yilan resort features three dining venues that feature dishes from the SuperFoodsRx™ menu. The hotel’s signature all day dining restaurant Seasonal Tastes features a menu of fresh and healthy creations, as well as energizing fresh juices and smoothies. Celebrating Japanese cuisine through seafood, Mai presents a seasonal menu with fresh locally-sourced as well as imported produce in both its main dining area and private dining rooms. A more casual option, the Cafe Lounge offers innovative cocktails, afternoon tea and light snacks.The idyllic resort also features the Westin Family program, designed to cater to the way modern families travel: with a reinvented Kids Club concept, reimagined family experiences and more meaningful branded amenities for young travelers. Westin Family draws inspiration from nature to promote a sense of well-being, from interactive programming and thoughtful amenities to physical play spaces.Easily accessible, The Westin Yilan Resort is conveniently located just a 1.5hr drive from the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), an hour from the Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA), or 20 minutes from the Yilan Railway Station.last_img read more