Pérez Molina Drug strategy a failure

first_imgGUATEMALA CITY – In January, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina made waves in Latin America by proposing decriminalization of illicit drugs as an alternative to the bloody wars being fought with drug traffickers. For the last two months, many doubted the former general’s sincerity and speculated he was trying to leverage the United States into more military aid.But since then, Pérez Molina has gone against U.S. recommendations and demanded a frank conversation about new ways to fight the problem. The Guatemalan president will make his plan center stage at the Summit of the Americas this weekend in Cartagena, Colombia (TT, March 30).Pérez Molina began his week by writing an op-ed in the British daily The Guardian titled, “We have to find new solutions to Latin America’s drugs nightmare.” In the article, the former general laid out a basic proposal for moving from prohibition to regulation of illicit drugs. He not only called for a policy shift, but also a shift in attitudes about drug use: “Drug consumption is a public health issue that, awkwardly, has been transformed into a criminal justice problem,” he wrote.Pérez Molina called for more resources for education, public health and social protection instead of pouring money into a prohibitive military strategy to fight drug trafficking – a strategy he deemed “a failure.” All of this comes from a former general and head of Guatemalan military intelligence who won the presidency last year with promises of an “iron fist” against crime.Despite U.S. opposition, other countries are showing support for efforts to seek an alternative strategy to the region’s war on drugs. On Monday, Lady Molly Meacher, president of the British parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform, met with Pérez Molina. She reiterated the backing of the group, which had already sent a letter of support weeks before. However, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has not yet backed the Guatemalan president’s initiative.Pérez Molina hopes to disseminate his message worldwide by way of the country’s ambassadors – 31 Guatemalan diplomats already have discussed drug regulation proposals and questions that still remain about how it would work. Those diplomats will take the proposals to their respective consulates in the coming weeks.Pérez Molina also publicly released a PowerPoint presentation he has used to explain his stance. “Dialogue for a Policy of Drug Regulation” outlines the ideology behind a new framework for drug-market regulation. The presentation notes that complete eradication of illegal drugs around the world is “utopian,” but that prohibitive policies continue because a shift would be “politically unacceptable” in consumer countries, namely the U.S.In explaining the policy, the president is frank about difficult issues that must be resolved for an effective strategy. Some of the most challenging are questions of justice, including whether convicted drug felons will receive amnesty, and what to do with drug bosses who have accrued fortunes trafficking illegal substances.  But the plan is brief and far from being ready for application. It ends with a request for dialogue.While Pérez Molina seems to be pushing a regulation policy ahead, he still faces tough opposition. The U.S. government has repeatedly rejected such a proposal. Presidents from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua – Mauricio Funes, Porfirio Lobo and Daniel Ortega, respectively – did not attend a summit hosted by Guatemala in late March to discuss the issue. Pérez Molina said the U.S. encouraged a boycott of the summit.  At home, only 21 percent of Guatemalans support legalization, based on an initial poll.But the greatest obstacle, according to Edmundo Urrutia, from the Latin American Social Sciences Faculty, is a history of repressive and violent reaction to illicit drugs.“So many people have been educated in this vision [of violently pursuing drug traffickers and users],” he said. “It will be very difficult to change these structures, values, perceptions, and above all, the interests created by drug-trafficking policies.”But Urrutia acknowledged the proposal has fallen on “fertile ground” in Latin America. Violence and high levels of inequality have made prospects bleak for many in the region, and trying something new is a welcome concept by many Central Americans.Pérez Molina has allies in his push for dialogue – Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos and Costa Rica’s Laura Chinchilla are among the most vocal. As Santos explained in an interview with The Washington Post, “the [current] discussion [on the war on drugs] is not rational.” The U.S. bluntly claims legalization is not feasible and has yet to participate in discussions on the issue. Honduras and El Salvador cite moral aversion to such a proposal. The hope of Pérez Molina and Santos, among others, is that such a discussion will take place at the Summit of the Americas. With U.S. President Barack Obama in attendance, this may be their best opportunity yet. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Moín Port could attract foreign investment

first_imgAPM Terminals’ Paul Gallie, right, says Costa Rica’s Caribbean ports urgently need renovation to meet the demand of 21st century ships. Last year, a World Economic Forum report ranked the country’s port infrastructure 137th of 142 countries. Courtesy of Paul Gallie No related posts. From the print editionPaul Gallie knew the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica long before he directed the largest private concession project in the country’s history. The North Wales native joined his first ship at 16, and sailed the oceans for two decades. The last company Gallie went out to sea with was food producer Chiquita. With Chiquita, Gallie spent time becoming familiar with the Caribbean port city of Limón, located in the poorest province in Costa Rica.Now Gallie, 48, works as the managing director of APM Terminals Moín, where he is in charge of a $1 billion project to update Costa Rica’s failing Caribbean port system. He knows all about Limón’s doleful history, and Gallie believes the dock can transform the Caribbean quarter into a prosperous port city by attracting multinational companies and creating tens of thousands of jobs.In 2011, the World Economic Forum’s global competiveness report ranked Costa Rica’s port infrastructure 137th of 142 countries. That number is part of the reason Costa Rica dropped five spots to 61st in the overall global competitive rankings. The country also placed 111th in transport infrastructure competitiveness, the worst in Central America.The Moín Container Terminal could give Costa Rica a modern port in 2016. The terminal would be in prime position to benefit from the Panama Canal’s own expansion project, with the Atlantic end of the canal only 10 hours away by boat. While the project remains on track, the venture is facing legal battles in Costa Rica’s court system (TT, July 13). Judges will rule in coming days on a lawsuit filed by unions and banana producers that calls into question the legality of the government’s contract with Dutch company APM Terminals. The courts threw out an injunction by the unions to halt the concession in October.Gallie talked with The Tico Times about the project’s contentious relationship with the unions, improving Costa Rica’s troublesome transportation system and why a new port can change a city’s future. Excerpts follow:center_img TT: Why did APM Terminals bid and choose to invest in the Costa Rica port project?PG: Certainly there’s the volume of travel that makes the project viable. Puerto Limón last year handled well over 900,000 TEUs [20-foot Equivalent Units, a number used to describe a ship’s cargo capacity equal to 20-feet-long by 8-feet-wide]. … That’s Costa Rican imports and exports. That certainly makes the project viable. There’s sufficient cargo there.Secondly it’s a place where we can make a difference. We’ve got the experience of 60 terminals around the world, 14 projects under construction and 24,000 employees, so we are at the top of the ladder when it comes to container terminals development and management. We see in Puerto Limón [and] Moín the severe problems they have in their port infrastructure. We thought we could make a difference. The project was viable. Yes, it’s a good business. That’s the business we’re in. But also the legal framework of Costa Rica is very strong, which obviously for our board of directors was a key point to receiving authorization to make a bid.Is a modern port able to take advantage of the Panama Canal expansion?Yes it is. I’d say that was part of the focus, but it’s not the [only] focus. Let’s say, for example, the Panama Canal expansion was not going ahead; that wouldn’t have made a difference with our interests in Moín. The fact that the Panamanians did try to expand the Panama Canal, which will be open for use in 2015, you could say that’s a bonus. … One hundred years ago, when the canal was first opened, Costa Rica never took advantage of that port. And now they have a second chance, and it’s not often you get a second chance like that in life. Were you expecting all these court battles with the unions?It’s not unusual. All around the world, whether we’re in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe [or] the United States, we always respect the laws of where we’re operating. People have the right to their opinion. And if we have to go to court to resolve some legal issues, then that’s fine. And we do that here in Costa Rica. The good thing is we already signed the contract … at the end of August. And it was [approved] by the Comptroller General in March of this year. So from that side, the project is fully legal and it’s continuing. We’re not wasting one day. I’ve got my whole project team working on it as we speak. We’re very much on track with the contract. And at the same time, on the side, we defend very rigorously any legal challenges. What is APM Terminals’ vision for Limón?I know Limón very well. I used to sail there as captain. I’ve known Limón for many, many years, … and Limón has been forgotten from Costa Rica in history. Of course, the population of Limón, the Afro-Caribbean population, [was] not even allowed outside of Limón until after 1948. …People have to remember this piece of history. People say, “We’re poor, what does that have to do with building a new container terminal?” It’s that Limón has been promised things by the central government for 100 years, and it’s never materialized. It’s only actually private money that’s ever done anything in the province of Limón. One of [which] was the first private concession in Limón [and] the first private concession in Costa Rica, which was the railroad between Limón and San José. And the subsequent development of banana plantations was all basically private   money. Other projects have never materialized. And I think we are the catalyst to turn that around once and for all. I think now Limón’s time has come.A lot of other things are going on as well, not just our project. If you look at the expansion of [the National Oil Refinery], you look at the expansion of the country’s own oil terminals. If you look at the expansion of Route 32 [a highway connecting the capital to Limón] to four lanes from two, it’s huge potential. There’s an airport that could be revamped. You look at general tourism increases in the area. So, I think when you put all these projects together, especially the port project, then there’s sufficient volumes of people coming into the town, and money and everything, until you can’t stop [the growth] anymore.One of the major advantages of having a modern port is it acts as a magnet to other foreign investors. We foresee other multinational companies that are maybe new to Costa Rica or maybe have factories already in the Central Valley putting their production facilities and distribution centers close to the port so they save logistics costs. And that could be a major multinational building [or] a factory there. This could provide obviously thousands of jobs. And we have a lot of experience of this in ports around the world.How would you describe your relationship with the unions currently?We’re absolutely open to talking with everybody. And I can’t count the number of presentations [APM Terminals General Manager Rogelio Douglas] and I have done in the community of Limón. …I think [the Atlantic Port Workers’ union] has a very strong history, and they are trying from their perspective to protect their number of interests. But if they really saw the long-term view, the best way they could protect their jobs is to work with us and not against us. … I’d like to very much be talking to you now and saying we have an excellent relationship with the union, and we’re all moving together with a common name, but as you know, that’s not the case. I think as time goes on I sincerely hope the union and its leaders will look at what’s happening in the world, that ships are getting much bigger, [and] that Limón doesn’t have the protection against the elements that it needs to keep the port open. And that if we work together, we’ll have a much stronger future.Can you give other examples of port projects helping improve the infrastructure of a community? We don’t have a business there. But one example locally is Cartagena in Colombia. Colombia privatized their ports in 1993, and Cartagena has the best of both worlds, not only the tourism, but they’ve generated tens of thousands of industrial jobs because they have a modern deep-water port now. Whereas before the port was very inefficient. …In Oman, in the Middle East, basically we built a port in the desert, and now there’s a whole industrial area around that port. …We’re very active in West Africa, as well. I think we have 10 terminals in West Africa, and those terminals are providing in different countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and Angola. In these countries all our terminals have attracted business. …The World Bank estimates that for each job in the port, it generates about 10 indirect jobs around the port. How can Costa Rican improve its infrastructure to compete internationally?The first part I think they did it, [with] San José and its airport. … It needed to be expanded to meet modern air traffic and future air traffic demand. With the ports, they’ve made the right decision with the concession of the Moín terminal because that will allow us to receive larger ships on a more frequent basis. …Internally, the infrastructure definitely needs some help. The best way to do that, the recommended way by the World Bank and by the Inter-American Development Bank, is the concession model. If Costa Rica doesn’t have sufficient funds itself, it has to reach out. There are a lot of companies out there. We are experts in ports and terminals. There are companies out there that are experts in roads, bridges, and these types of things. …Railroads need to be reactivated. Rail is a very environmentally friendly way of moving cargo. Take all these trucks off the road and Costa Rica can show the world how it can be a model for this.I saw last week that President [Laura] Chinchilla, together with President [Ricardo] Martinelli of Panama, just opened a temporary bridge over the Sixaola River to Panama on the Caribbean side. That’s good news. There needs to be a proper four-lane bridge over that river. It’s a route I use regularly to Bocas del Toro that needs to be opened up to promote trade between Costa Rica and Panama. Better road connections with Nicaragua; those are some of the things that need to be done.It took almost 30 years to complete the Caldera Highway to the Pacific coast. Do you think we’ll have to wait long before Costa Rica completes the expansion of Route 32? It’s truly incredible. I’ve worked and lived in a lot of countries around the world. Decisions definitely need to be speeded up in Costa Rica for the benefit of the country. The decision-making process is too cumbersome, and people need to make decisions rapidly, and that would definitely help competitiveness.There’s no way Costa Rica can wait 30 years for Route 32, on which 80 percent of the country’s trade passes. That is the key highway. That’s a more important highway than the Caldera Highway. The Caldera Highway is good for connections from Puerto Caldera to San José, but Puerto Caldera is much smaller. It’s nice for people in the Central Valley to get to the beach in an hour, but if you really want to improve the lives of all Costa Ricans, than the first key way to do it is to improve Route 32. Then all your goods and services and everything that comes into the country will become much cheaper. Plus that road is dangerous to drive on.I don’t even allow my staff to travel it in hours of darkness. It’s dangerous during the day, and at night it’s just an accident waiting to happen. …The interesting thing about Route 32, the problems only started when they closed down the railroad, because most of the traffic of bananas and pineapples coming from the plantations around Guapiles was all on rails, and that road was much quieter and safer. We need to get that traffic back on rails, and double the size of the road. And then things will get better. Why should Costa Rica bring the railroads back? … Everybody’s investing in rails. In Costa Rica, it shouldn’t be that expensive to invest in rails, and it’s in keeping with the country’s environmental, ecology image. It’s something we definitely would support. We’d love to put containers on the train. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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National Roadway Council to invest ₡165 billion more on border road

first_imgNo related posts. Costa Rica’s now-infamous northern border road, a 160-kilometer route parallel to the border with Nicaragua, will receive a new investment of ₡16.5 billion ($33 million) for 2013, José Luis Salas, executive director of the National Roadway Council (CONAVI), said on Tuesday.Salas also said CONAVI initiated a public bidding process on Monday to select the company that will be in charge of the project going forward.In May, investment in the road – prompted by emergency decree after Nicaragua and Costa Rica entered into a territorial conflict at Isla Calera, along the Río San Juan – was some ₡22 billion ($44 million). Officials said at the time that the cost of the project could increase, after a corruption scandal involving contractors and environmental damage surfaced.A total of 34 private companies were involved in the road’s construction and currently are under investigation.Former Public Works and Transport Minister Francisco Jiménez and CONAVI Regional Director Manuel Serrano were fired in May following the scandal, as well as other officials. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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New café in Dominical features healthy fare spicy sauce

first_img Lindsay Fendt San Clemente Bar and Grill is located on the main road in Dominical. You’ll know it from the full-sized VW bus above the restaurant. As a notorious party town, Dominical, on the central Pacific coast, is full of beachfront bars with the bar food to match. But with the flood of health-conscientious tourists to the area (helped along by the annual hippie festival Envision in February), one long-time restaurant owner saw the need for a change.Enter Surf Shack, a breakfast and lunch café for the health-conscious. Featuring wraps, paninis and smoothies, the beachfront eatery provides one of the town’s few alternatives to the bar scene.“That’s the kind of food I eat,” said Mike McGinnis, the restaurant’s owner. “It’s light food, a mellow atmosphere and no booze.”Surf Shack’s menu also appeals to those on a budget, with most menu items for less than ₡4,000 ($8) for lunch and ₡3,000 ($6) for breakfast. The menu also offers snacks and a la carte options. The Surf Shack’s falafel wrap is one of the many lunch options on the restaurant’s menu. No related posts. McGinnis is hardly new to the Dominical restaurant scene. He’s owned San Clemente Bar and Grill – which, if you know Dominical, is the place with the giant VW Bus suspended over it – for the last 20 years.An organic permaculture garden project is underway and McGinnis hopes that in time he will be able to grow 90 percent of the produce for both restaurants.“All of our greens are already organic, but we want to grow our own,” McGinnis said.The fruits and vegetables aren’t the only things that are homegrown. Disappointed by the lack of real hot sauce upon his arrival in Costa Rica 25 years ago, McGinnis began making his own.“I had never made hot sauce before, and I was at this little soda using their chilero and I thought, ‘why not just take most of the vinegar out of this put the other ingredients in a high-powered blender?’” McGinnis said. “So that’s what I did.”Spicy Mike’s Hot Sauce is made from chilies bought at the Mercado Central in San José and grown in the mountains of the Central Valley. McGinnis gets the rest of his ingredients from farmers at the local produce fair.The sauce provides far more kick than any typical chilero available in Costa Rica, so much so that the sauce won in the international category of the fiery food challenge in the 1997 ZestFest, a culinary festival dedicated to spicy food. Facebook Comments Lindsay Fendtlast_img read more

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Border security dispute puts US immigration bill at risk

first_imgNo related posts. WASHINGTON, D.C. – A huge U.S. immigration bill inched forward Tuesday in the Senate, but Republicans warned that the landmark reform risks stalling or even dying in Congress unless backers agree to further tighten border security.The Senate is spending most of this week and next debating the measure, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, reduce unlawful crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border and revise guest worker programs for agriculture and high-tech industries.But some Republicans have warned the provisions on border security, which supporters on both sides of the political aisle say would be the strongest ever with drone surveillance and extended fencing, are too weak to earn broad support from their caucus.That could prove crucial, House Speaker John Boehner said he told his caucus in a closed-door session, because “I don’t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have a majority support of Republicans.”Top Senate Democrat Harry Reid wants the Senate’s immigration bill, which is supported by President Barack Obama, passed by early July. Boehner said he aims to begin debate on a House version in the coming month.But on Tuesday, hours before the Senate cast its first votes on amendments to its bill, Boehner slammed that legislation as “weak on border security.”And the so-called triggers that would make legalizing immigrants contingent on meeting specific goals for securing the border were “almost laughable,” he said.Republican Senator John Cornyn also lamented the Senate’s rejection of provisions including more fencing along the border.“If they won’t take reasonable measures to deal with the border security concerns of the American people, I don’t think we’re going to get an immigration bill,” he said.Cornyn has introduced a bill that would require a biometric exit system and apprehension rates for illegals of at least 90 percent in effect before the provisional immigrants can earn green cards, but its approval is unlikely.Sixty votes are needed for the overall bill to pass the 100-seat Senate, but members of the Gang of Eight, the four Democrats and four Republicans who crafted the bill, say they want a 70-vote majority to compel the House to act.The effort received a shot in the arm Tuesday when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecast that passage of the bill would slash the US deficit by about $175 billion over 10 years, and by $700 billion in 2024-2033, largely from additional income tax collection.“The CBO has further confirmed what most conservative economists have found: reforming our immigration system is a net benefit for our economy, American workers and taxpayers,” said Senator Marco Rubio, the most prominent Republican sponsor of the legislation and a potential 2016 presidential candidate.But even Rubio, who helped write the bill, has stressed he wants to see tighter border security, and said he will “work with my Republican colleagues to arrive at a new measure that improves on the significant border security measures already in the bill.”The House Judiciary Committee meanwhile held a hearing on a Republican proposal that would give state and local authorities more power to arrest immigrants for overstaying visas or entering the country illegally.That bill is strongly opposed by Democrats, who warned it could sap any good will Republicans may have built after the 2012 election, when Obama garnered 70 percent of the Hispanic vote to help him defeat Republican Mitt Romney.“Come back to your senses. Do not push forward a bill that criminalizes every immigrant family,” said congressman Luis Gutiérrez, a Democrat who is co-authoring the House legislation.Gutiérrez said he wants to see broad bipartisan support for what would be the strongest immigration reform in a generation, and warned Republicans they would face harsh political consequences if they derail it.“If you want to hang yourself on the immigration issue, who am I to stop you?” he snapped. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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The royal baby A bouncing bundle of international obsession

first_imgCrowds gather to see an easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace in London on Monday, announcing the birth of a baby boy who will one day be heir to the British throne. WILLOLIVER/AFP That was an important baby.Licence’s upcoming book, “Royal Babies: 1066-2013,” has been ready to go for weeks, by the way. “What we’re waiting for is the official photograph and then it can be rushed out the door,” Licence said. The snapshot of the new baby will be used as a cover-wrapper and popped, posthaste, onto bookshelves.But how important is this baby, in the context of modern royalty — a largely ceremonial institution in which the ruling monarch’s salary must be approved by taxpayers? How important, in the context of modern fame, in which some American celebrities live in houses bigger than royals do, and have higher approval ratings? How important, in the context of modern parenthood, when it’s not uncommon for even commoner children to have prenatal Twitter accounts? Every baby is a prince in 2013, with the home-mashed food and the artisanal naps and the “Congratulations! You’re 1 (month)” birthday celebrations.It’s awfully retro to give much importance to any baby, in this post-feudal society where accolades are supposed to be based on accomplishments rather than birthright. And the list of babies who accomplish something just by being born is very small.Jesus: Important baby.Louise Brown: Important baby. She was the first “test-tube baby,” born through in vitro fertilization, a process that changed the nature of modern reproduction.But in general, contemporary baby culture has conflated “famous” with “important.” In leadups to the royal birth, photo galleries abounded online, ranking the most “powerful” celebrity baby bumps: Beyonce’s Blue Ivy, Kim Kardashian’s North West, Brangelina’s moppets.All of these babies are famous babies; none of them are important ones. When Blue Ivy grows up, she’ll be only a satellite to her parents’ renown, and when Suri Cruise grows up, she’ll struggle with being seen as more than a satellite to her father’s weirdness.The true value that these babies provide to our culture is what they tell us about our own values. After all, it’s easy to denigrate celebrity infant obsession as shallow tabloid culture, but shallow tabloid culture runs deeply through our veins — a glossy dissertation on Western mores.Celebrity pregnancies teach women how to be pregnant, says Renee Cramer, a professor at Drake University whose scholarly article “The Baby Bump is the New Birkin” examines celebrity pregnancy. The overarching storyline of the duchess’s pregnancy focused on her trim physique, her fresh clothes, her patient demeanor.More than that, celebrity pregnancies reinforce the communal possession of every pregnant woman’s body. When Cramer herself was pregnant, she said, “People asked, ‘Are you really going to eat sushi? Are you really going to drink Coke? Are you gaining enough weight, are you gaining too much weight?’ ” The village, in other words, felt free to raise her child before it was even out of the womb.With this royal baby, the proprietary relationship is only magnified, and will only grow as he grows. As a 2-month-old, he’ll be the test for whether the duke and duchess seem caring and competent enough; as a 2-year-old, he’ll be used by the public to judge whether his parents possess enough discipline. He’ll be important not because he’s a shoo-in for future king, but because he’ll be a humanizing lens through which to view a normally quite private world.“Grandparenthood is a unique moment in anyone’s life, as countless kind people have told me in recent months,” Prince Charles said in a statement shortly after his grandson was born. “So I am enormously proud and happy to be a grandfather for the first time.”Meanwhile, three months ago, a few months after the former Kate Middleton announced her pregnancy, scientists in Italy discovered the skeletal remains of what is believed to be the first known Homo sapiens/Neanderthal hybrid — the tangible specimen supporting research that modern humans are 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal. “First Love Child of Human, Neanderthal Found,” the Discovery Channel heralded on its website.That baby changed the face (and DNA) of the human species for the course of the next 30,000 years. That baby was an important baby.This royal baby is a blessed bundle of joy.The Tico Times’ Ashley Harrell contributed to this report.© 2013, The Washington Post Facebook Comments It is finally time to talk about this baby.This bouncing Buckingham baby, who prompted Harlequin to launch a whole line of royal-baby-themed romance novels — “His Royal Love Child,” “Sheikh’s Baby Bombshell,” “His Pregnant Princess” — currently populating Amazon. This baby, who set British bookies aflutter with due-date speculations, who introduced us unwillingly to the phrase “too posh to push.” Where is the royal baby? headlines began demanding five days ago, as if the Windsors were deliberately hiding it in the duchess of Cambridge’s womb.This baby was delivered unto the people at 4:24 Monday afternoon, weighing eight pounds and six ounces, a presumably adorable boy.The British Ambassador in San José, Her Excellency Sharon Campbell, expressed her delight. “This is an exciting time for their Royal Highnesses. I am sure that Costa Ricans will join me and the staff of the British Embassy in San José in wishing the Duke and Duchess and their new arrival all the happiness in the world.”In England, throngs gathered outside of Buckingham Palace awaiting the official announcement to be posted, as is tradition, on the gilded easel.“It is an important moment in the life of our nation,” said Prime Minister David Cameron of the new arrival, according to Britain’s ITV news. “But I suppose above all it’s a wonderful moment for a warm and loving couple who got a brand-new baby boy.”This baby is . . . an important baby?Yes — he is the future king of England. Which is only slightly less momentous than a future queen of England would have been — this year, Parliament finally repealed an ancient succession rule that gave heirs the preference over heiresses, regardless of birth order.Amid the pomp and general celebration, one finds something both archaic and strange about declaring any baby’s arrival “important,” any more so than every baby’s arrival is “important.” When we talk about this baby, what we are really talking about is the powerful vortex he inhabits: the intersection of celebrity worship, royal worship and the burgeoning baby-industrial complex.His Royal Highness — the name has not yet been announced — was born into a world in which a British market research firm recently estimated that celebrations surrounding his birth would inject $400 million into the British economy, and in which photos of star offspring can fetch $15 million (as People magazine reportedly paid for photos of Angelina Jolie’s twins in 2008). A world in which sites such as Babyrazzi.com exist to stalk A-list toddlers, in which Forbes magazine a few years back published an earnest analysis of the “most influential babies.”Historically, the arrival of a much-anticipated baby meant more than a cash influx. Sometimes, the birth changed history, as when King James II unexpectedly had a son. After the 17th century Reformation, there was a strong anti-Catholic feeling in England. James II had sired two Protestant daughters with his first wife, but when she died, he converted to Catholicism and married an Italian princess. “If the new queen had produced a daughter, the heir would have been the existing Protestant daughters,” and all would have been well, British historian John Ashdown-Hill said.Instead, the birth of James Francis Edward Stuart resulted in the Glorious Revolution. For more than a century, Catholics were prohibited from holding seats in Parliament; for more than three, monarchs were prohibited from marrying them.That was an important baby.Often, royal marriages were political unions; the arrival of an infant was the final erasure of regional or inter-familial tensions. That tradition goes all the way back to the 11th century, the era of the Norman invasion, when Henry I of England (son of William the Conqueror) married Matilda of Scotland. Her daughter, also named Matilda, was widely perceived to be “the hope of the future,” royal watcher Amy Licence said.center_img Related posts:Onwards and upwards In for a future shock Neanderthal poo shows cavemen ate their veggies Scientists from 15 countries study deep carbon sources in Costa Ricalast_img read more

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Beyonce poses at waterfall on beaches in Costa Rica

first_imgCosta Rica has arrived.U.S. R&B singer Beyonce Knowles uploaded her tumblr “My Life” this week with photos of her recent vacation here with husband rap mogul Jay-Z and their daughter Blue Ivy.  The singer sports a “Smile Costa Rica” tank top at a waterfall (where’s the “pura vida” love, Bey?), reclines at the beach, and tries her hand at paddle boarding. She’s got to keep up her abs even on vacation, right?Beyonce manages to make zip-lining gear look fierce and even gets a little dirty posing with a traditional Costa Rican oxcart, complete with cow skull. Someone should have told her that there are much prettier ones down here.Arenal Volcano even made the cut. Queen Bey’s stay in La Fortuna de San Carlos, near the iconic volcano, adds some credence to its growing profile as a international tourist destination. Earlier this week, TripAdvisor listed La Fortuna as one of its “Top Ten Emerging Destination of 2013.”Hip Hop’s first family traveled to Costa Rica in November (you might have seen our Facebook posts and tweets by now). Still waiting for that shot of Jay-Z in a guayabera.  Facebook Comments Beyonce adds some style to a zip-lining harness in Costa Rica. Courtesy i.am.beyonce.com Related posts:That one time when Joan Rivers got stuck in Costa Rica Beyoncé reunites with Destiny’s Child in Costa Rica for Kelly Rowland’s wedding Beyoncé and 4 other celebrities who visited Costa Rica during 2014last_img read more

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Guatemalas Pérez Molina to visit Costa Rica Friday

first_imgGUATEMALA CITY – Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina announced this week an official visit to Costa Rica on Friday to meet with President Luis Guillermo Solís and to discuss bilateral relations.“The issues on the table are trade, the environment, tourism and culture,” Pérez Molina told reporters during a tour of rain-damaged areas in the southern department of Escuintla.The Guatemalan president added that he would continue discussions about promoting cultural issues that were begun under Costa Rica’s former president, Laura Chinchilla.In San José, Solís said he also planned to discuss regional integration and other issues. We should expect the two presidents to discuss drug trafficking and cartel-related violence in the region as well.Pérez Molina and Solís will meet Friday morning, and later the Guatemalan president will lunch with representatives of Costa Rica’s three government branches.Pérez Molina will become the first head of state to visit Solís since he took office on May 8. Facebook Comments Related posts:Guatemalan president agrees to keep UN anti-impunity commission Guatemala vice president resigns amid corruption scandal In Guatemala’s capital, little enthusiasm for country’s next president Guatemala swears in comedian Morales on Thursdaylast_img read more

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This week in the Peace Corps Mural project opens doors to the

first_imgNo related posts. Educational institutions play an important role in every community by providing a positive learning environment for students and teaching them to be the future leaders of our world. We rely on schools to not only transfer knowledge but ideas, attitudes, manners, and cultural values.Outside of the classroom, creating this atmosphere includes designing a physical space that stimulates a child’s learning and positive inquiry into the world around them. What better way to start this process than by showing students what exists beyond the limits of their town and furthermore, beyond the borders of their country? For this reason, Peace Corps Volunteers across the globe often look to incorporate a world map mural project in their community.In my case, the world mural project has had a double benefit to the local primary school where I have spent a large part of my service thus far. The first being the above mentioned educational value. The second having to do with the relatively recent construction of the institution itself. Since its construction in October 2016, both school staff and students have expressed interest in beautifying the various drab, concrete walls but have been limited by the constraints of a busy academic calendar and limited personnel. Last December, the Institutional Board of Education (Junta Educativa de la Escuela) was able to approve funds that were left over from the school year toward this mural project and purchase all of the needed materials. Our dream was to finish it in time for the students to return to school in February of this year. Via Taylor T. / Peace Corps VolunteerThis simple project took only four days of painting and some help from community members and fellow volunteers here in the Zona Norte and has resulted in great interest from the students in regards to understanding more about other countries, as well as seeing where they live in relation to the rest of the world. For this project, we also decided to include a large map of Costa Rica that highlights each of the seven provinces for a more local context. Each day, different students come up to ask me to help them find a different country they have heard about in class or through a television show. Those who ask me to help them find Costa Rica on the map are often shocked by how small it looks in comparison with other large countries such as the United States or Brazil. Eventually, we will add the names of all of the countries, but for now, everyone is having fun playing the guessing game while “exploring the world.” Via Paige G. / Peace Corps Volunteer.This project has also opened the door to more discussions between the Junta, Director and teachers on ideas of how to paint more murals both inside and outside of the school for the community to enjoy. In the coming year, we will be looking to involve students, members of the local community and volunteers to participate in this effort to beautify our school.http://ticotimes.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/TimeLapseMap.mp4 The Peace Corps photo series in The Tico Times Costa Rica Changemakers section is sponsored by the Costa Rica USA Foundation for Cooperation (CRUSA), a proud financial supporter of Peace Corps Volunteer projects nationwide. Learn more here. To donate to support the Peace Corps Costa Rica, visit the official donation page. Volunteers’ last names and community names are withheld from these publications, per Peace Corps policy.Connect with the Peace Corps Costa Rica on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Brought to you by the Costa Rica USA Foundation (CRUSA). Brought to you by the Costa Rica USA Foundation (CRUSA). Courtesy of CRUSA Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Dominican Republic certifies citizenship of 55000

first_img SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — The Dominican Republic announced Friday that it has certified the nationality of about 55,000 people who had spent eight years in bureaucratic limbo because their citizenship was in doubt.The locally born descendants of Haitian immigrants had been on the point of losing their citizenship because the government and courts argued their parents had been in the country illegally. Tens of thousands had trouble enrolling in school, travelling, getting formal work, marrying or registering children for lack of residence documents. Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Top Stories Dominican Republic’s President Danilo Medina, left, and El Salvador’s President Salvador Sanchez ceren talk during a photo opportunity at the XLV Central America Integration System, SICA, summit in Antigua, Guatemala, Friday, June 26, 2015. Central American leaders are meeting to address migration, economic and regional security issues. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo) Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   3 international destinations to visit in 2019 New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Under a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal, the measure affected offspring of undocumented immigrants born between 1929 and 2007, leading to an outcry by human rights advocates.President Danilo Medina announced the certification Friday at a summit in Guatemala.“It will be good news when the 55,000, to the last person among them, can effectively get all their documents and at last register their children,” said Robin Guittard, head of campaigns in the Caribbean for Amnesty International.Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants are at risk of being deported under a government crackdown on undocumented immigrants.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sponsored Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

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Australian tourism forecast looks bright ATEC

first_imgOfficial forecasts predict an increase in the number of business and holiday tourists to Australia, according to the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC). The results released by the Tourism Forecasting Committee (TFC) forecast predict that international arrivals will continue to grow steadily throughout the year, from 4.3% to 5.5% to reach 5.9 million. Strong growth is also expected in the sector over the following two years (up 4.9% in 2011, and 4.6% in 2012), with compound growth up until 2019 predicted to reach 4.0%. Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) Managing Director and TFC member Matt Hingerty said, “The latest TFC forecasts send a message to Australian inbound tourism operators that the worst is hopefully behind us.”There is a real spirit of optimism in the air at the moment as our industry contemplates a brighter future. “The dollar has dropped somewhat in recent months, which makes Australia more competitive as a destination, while demand is now starting to pick up in our core markets of New Zealand, the United States and Western Europe,” Mr Hingerty said.”We’ve also seen air capacity into the country rise and fuel prices drop, while our airlines, especially Qantas, deserve plaudits for slashing airfares to maintain a viable industry.”Mr Hingerty said that some growth markets are beginning to gather steam, new A380 and 787 aircraft are making flying more appealing, some big infrastructure projects are on the cards and the Federal Government’s Long-Term Tourism Strategy is starting to bear fruit.”International visitor arrivals to Australia are now forecast by the TFC to reach 8.2 million by 2019, which would be a solid result,” Mr Hingerty said. “Our biggest opportunity lies in Asian markets such as China, which recently overtook Japan as our fourth-largest source of tourists and which is expected to grow by nearly eight per cent a year into one of our top three markets. “However now is not the time to stop to take breath – we need to continue innovating, developing new niche markets and building and marketing new tourism product to the world to cement a prosperous future,” Mr Hingerty said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/233d4/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

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Curtis Crosswhite from Auckland wins 1st prize in Hahn Airs TagtheC

first_imgCurtis Crosswhite, Assistant Manager Flight Centre Round The World Specialists in Auckland won 2 Round the World tickets in Hahn Air’s worldwide online game. Roger Byrne from Hahn Air’s office in Sydney handed over the award yesterday in Auckland.Crosswhite achieved 1.962,400 points in a highly exciting game which ran over September & October 2010. Travel agents around the globe were challenged about their knowledge of world capital cities, having to plot their locations on a world map as quickly and precisely as possible. In total 13,119 travel agents from 66 countries participated in the game, trying to win the first prize, of 2 Round The World Ticket. In the end, after 44,640 minutes of playing and chasing over weeks, Curtis Crosswhite achieved the highest score – just 48 minutes before the official closing. Curtis said, “It was a tough game and fun to compete with thousands of agents from all over the world! I can’t wait to start my journey with my wife Kaylene and son Corban next year.”Hahn Air has been a trusted provider of e-ticketing solutions for an unlimited number of interline scenarios and a supplier of a wide range of additional services to travel agents. It operates the industry’s leading universal e-ticketing platform. Travel agents in Australia & New Zealand can issue close to 200 Hahn Air partner airlines on HR-169 tickets. Source = Hahn Airlast_img read more

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Asia leads tourism growth as ATE goes East

first_imgDouble digit growth in 2010 international visitor arrivals from North and South East Asia, India and Japan, has seen the Asian continent lead Australia’s inbound tourism growth. According to Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy, Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) 2011 reflects the growing importance of the East to this growth. “The number of Asian delegates attending this year’s ATE is substantially up on last year, a further sign of the commitment to Australia’s tourism product from the Eastern travel trade,” Mr McEvoy said. As well as hosting 47 new buyer companies, ATE will present 37 new product exhibitors for the Eastern Module, comprising 14 accommodation properties, eight attractions, four tour operators, four transport operators, and three inbound tour operators amongst others. China, which Tourism Australia anticipates will generate up to AU$9 billion in tourism expenditure by 2020, led growth in 2010 with a 24 per cent increase on the year before, whilst growth from South Korea was up 18 per cent. Leading South East Asian market growth were Indonesia and Malaysia, whose visitor numbers were both up by 12 per cent. “The Asian economy’s ability to weather the GFC, plus competitive international air fares and increases in air capacity, has all helped to give us a strong platform from which to tap back into the key family and couples markets,” Mr McEvoy said.“The strong visitor numbers coming out of Asia are certainly good news for the Australian tourism industry but what’s especially pleasing is the money these visitors are putting into the economy.” China Southern Airlines are a new product at this year’s ATE There are 47 new buyer companies for ATE’s Eastern programcenter_img Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

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Tax to bring more pain to regional airlines

first_imgClouds loom over regional airlines The Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) says the recently announced carbon tax will mean “more pain” for regional aviation and communities.Accusing the federal government of “either not caring, or not understanding” the role of regional aviation, RAAA chief executive Paul Tyrell said the tax was “simply a grab for revenue from an industry that is least able to afford it”.  “The Prime Minister claims that the carbon tax is aimed at the big polluters, but the regional aviation industry contributes around 0.2% of the nation’s total carbon emissions,” Mr Tyrell commented.“Encouraging people to jump in their cars and drive long distances instead of using one of the regional operators seems a very poor environmental outcome.”According to the RAAA, the only way regional airlines would be able to cut their carbon emissions would be to “walk away from the industry” as aircraft are already flown at maximum efficiency and do not operate on alternative fuel sources.At 6 cents per litre, the group says the new tax “will add millions of dollars” to regional operators’ costs, which will in turn be passed onto regional communities, threatening the marginal routes which “bring doctors, nurses, teachers and other essential services” to country towns. Expressing its “strong disappointment” with the announcement, Australia’s largest independent regional airline, Regional Express (Rex) says the carbon tax is just the latest in a raft of “adverse government measures” facing provincial air services, citing in addition, the removal of the en-route rebate scheme for regional airlines, the additional fuel excise to increase Civil Aviation Safety Authority funding and increased security screening at regional ports. “The combined effect of these measures on Rex alone would equate to at least $6m per annum,” Rex chief operating officer Chris Hine said.”I foresee many regional operators without the financial strength and diversification of the Rex Group being forced out of business once these take effect after 1 July 2012.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

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Pullman Cairns takes two at the TNQ Tourism Awards

first_imgThe Pullman Reef Hotel Casino in Cairns is celebrating not one, but two award wins following the 2011 Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) Tourism Awards held last weekend.Pullman Reef Hotel Casino accepted two prestigious awards in the Luxury Accommodation and Meetings & Business Tourism categories. Each year more than 500 operators from Cairns and the surrounding regions vie for honours in various categories at the event, which was established 13 years ago.Pullman Hotel General Manager Wayne Reynolds said, “We are extremely pleased with these awards not only for recognising the level of service and facilities we provide to our guests but also distinguishing us as the premium accommodation and entertainment venue here in Cairns.”  He added that the award for Meetings and Business Tourism truly highlights Pullman’s capacity and success in hosting large conference and events, made possible by its now refurbished and extensive on-site facilities which include a choice of 11 different venue spaces. Recently, the hotel completed a million dollar renovation of several conference spaces, including its Michaelmas Cay Ballroom and Reef Room. Pullman also added a new Chill Out Zone for guests to use during meeting breaks in order to catch up on the latest news, check emails and network with other conference delegates.The Pullman Reef Hotel Casino is the most prestigious accommodation and entertainment complex in Cairns, located in the heart of the city and overlooking the majestic Trinity Inlet and esplanade boardwalk. Packed with great dining and entertainment options, the hotel is home to award winning restaurant Tamarind and the Cairns Wildlife Dome which offers a tropical zoo experience in the heart of the city. With its magnificent climate, relaxed lifestyle and world-class attractions and facilities, Pullman Reef Hotel Casino is ideally located for overseas travellers on holidays and inbound business clients seeking a venue for their next meetings, incentive or special events. Address: Pullman Reef Hotel Casino, 35-41 Wharf Street Cairns QLD 4870Web: For information on the hotel visit www.pullmanhotels.com Source = Pullman Reef Hotel Casinolast_img read more

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Emergency landing at Newark airport

first_imgImage courtesy of 11alive Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T A Shuttle America flight from Atlanta made an impromptu landing at New Jersey after the jets nosegear collapsed. According to NBC News, passengers disembarked the aircraft via emergency chutes. There were 68 people aboard Flight 5124 on Monday, which departed Atlanta at 3:47pm. FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergen reported that no one was injured. The aircraft’s nosegear was said to have collapsed upon landing. The plane was an Embraer 170 operating as a United Express flight.last_img read more

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Pandas to boost Malaysian tourism

first_imgChinas decision to loan two of its pandas to Malaysia will stimulate the tourism industry, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said.Dr Ng said once the Pandas were brought to Malaysia they would attract many international tourists to the country, Asiaone reported.“I expect an influx of tourists from countries like Indonesia and Singapore,” Dr Ng said.Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak requested from his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao that the two pandas be loaned to the country during his visit to Nanning in April 2012.Dr Ng said that the pair of pandas would be well looked after, adding that the female panda was fertile.“We are hopeful it will be able to produce baby pandas during its ten year stay here,” Dr Ng said.In other news, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Malaysia is planning to capture more investments from China, especially in the telecommunications, transportation, construction and steel manufacturing fields.“We are delighted too that China has invited Malaysia to tap the halal products market in Ning Xia,” The deputy Prime Minister said.“I do hope that more joint venture projects will be undertaken both in Malaysia and China in the future.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.Plast_img read more

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Aussie couple avoid drug trafficking

first_img“We spent two days in Bangkok washing all our clothes and changing our suitcases just to make sure we didn’t have any more marijuana on us,” Georgia, one of the two Australians, said. An Australian couple departing Thailand discovered a stash of marijuana planted in their luggage prior to boarding their return flight home. Melbourne duo in Thailand discover illegal substances in their luggage. After arriving in Bangkok, the couple checked in to a hotel, searched their bags and found marijuana in a small pocket inside one of their suitcases. Source = ETB News: P.T. Staff at the Australian embassy in Thailand advised the couple to throw away their bags and change their travel itineraries to avoid further issues. One of their bags had been cut open, most likely as a point of entry, to plant the substance. “We’re just very lucky we didn’t board that flight because who knows what could have happened to us if we did?” When checking in for their flight from Phuket to Bangkok, the couple from Melbourne noticed their bags were overweight and missing a lock, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.last_img read more

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Travel Agents accreditation – where to from here

first_imgTravel Agents accreditation – where to from here?With the unexpected media revelation that CTS Travel was ATAS accredited it is time for a serious review.TravelManagers is of the view that individual members of the industry need to publicly acknowledge that an accreditation scheme without consumer compensation is worthless from both consumer and industry perspectives. Furthermore we believe it’s time to reject ATAS in its current form as it misleads consumers and serves no meaningful purpose other than to deliver revenue to AFTA and justify a bludgeoning bureaucracy.The situation being experienced by CTS Travel’s customers is precisely what TravelManagers was fearful of. We view this situation is a direct result of state governments disbanding the TCF and replacing it with an ill thought out industry accreditation scheme that failed to demand robust financial criteria or deliver consumer protection in response to AFTA lobbying.It is possible that CTS Travel would also have failed under the TCF but most importantly its customers would not have been out-of-pocket, the travel agent community’s integrity would not be under threat and it would have been subject to more rigorous financial oversight resulting in some form of bank guarantee or insurance bond to help preserve TCF members’ funds used to cover consumer losses. This in turn would have negated negative media coverage of the travel agent industry which affects each and every travel agency owner in Australia.AFTA seems to have lost touch with its grass roots membership and to be guilty of a disservice to the majority by lobbying government to abolish the TCF without a meaningful replacement. AFTA management appears to have tacitly approved for TCF members’ funds to be distributed to government as general revenue calculated on a prorate basis by the number of TCF members in each state as the price for deregulation. In our view the state governments are actually guilty of disbanding the TCF without ensuring that ATAS offered something worthwhile to the travelling public.  The electorates deserve to be treated better.Its time AFTA members accept some accountability for having allowed this to happen and for placing their trust in an organization that appears to be no longer representative of many of the Association’s members i.e. small/medium business owners.When the TCF was disbanded it was reportedly holding $34 million of accumulated travel agent contributions. Today that figure is $25 million – so where did $9 million go?Wasteful disbursements to AFTA for the establishment and promotion of ATAS and CHOICE and state consumer affairs departments to fund consumer education   programs.Communication of this deregulation of the travel agent industry.The continuation of running TCF in caretaker mode.Payment of outstanding consumer claims.The collection of monies being pursued through the courts for the misrepresentation of company financials and/or knowingly trading while insolvent.The $25 million residual should be sufficient to re-establish the TCF, with a meaningful membership criteria and provide the community with effective consumer compensation in the event of travel agency failures and the industry.It was as recognition once ATAS’ shortcomings became known that TravelManagers collaborated with Gow Gates Insurance Brokers over several months to develop its own Trust Account Fidelity Risk Insurance which was announced in August 2014 with the full details of the insurance cover and operation published on its company website. Prior to this TravelManagers, both direct, and via its parent company House of Travel, communicated with state, territory and federal ministers responsible for Consumer Affairs, Small Business and Tourism; initially seeking the retention of the TCF and eventually acceptance that ATAS must have both a robust financial criteria and deliver consumer protection.This activity involved meeting with a number of ministers and/or their department heads to be mostly advised that the disbandment of the TCF and its replacement by ATAS is what AFTA had advised them the industry wanted. At no time was there comment about what the consumer might want.These meetings included Mike Baird, the Premier of NSW, who was genuinely sympathetic to loss of consumer protection but, to be fair, this was after the Travel Industry Transition Plan had been adopted and legislated for the removal of travel agent licensing with its related consumer compensation.CTS Travel is the tip of the iceberg and TravelManagers is hopeful that Mr Baird and his fellow State Premiers will recognize this and take immediate steps to reinstate the TCF with its financial oversight of the industry and provision of consumer protection. In saying this we recognize there were shortcomings in the TCF as it previously stood and that with goodwill and common purpose these can be addressed to ensure it is more equitable than some may have perceived.TravelManagers elected to become ATAS accredited because AFTA made ATAS accreditation a requirement for AFTA members to retain their AFTA membership. It is TravelManagers’ belief that an association representing a large part of the travel agency community is important for the industry and that if there is to be change then change would be better served by persuasion from within AFTA rather than external pressure. Under the TCF there was blanket consumer protection. With ATAS there is no protection required and where it is available through individual companies it is very opaque.We need to have a strong AFTA that is representative of all its members and with a vision that compliments the needs and desires of travel consumers.In the lead up to its disbandment TCF had about 4,800 members, just this last week a spokesperson for ATAS claimed it is steamrolling its way to 3,500 accredited agents which is about 70% of the former TCF membership and makes no allowance for the many new travel agents that appear to have opened their doors, some without adequate qualifications or capital since, June 2014. Also this week an ATAS spokesman was quoted as saying “CTS Travel is the first agent affected in “almost 11 months of trading in the deregulated environment”, this is blatantly incorrect as identified in various media reports and from an AFTA member’s perspective unacceptable!The big questions to be answered are what is an acceptable accreditation system and what must it encompass from industry, consumer and government perspectives? And most importantly where to from here?Source = Barry Mayo – TravelManagerslast_img read more

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Sunshine Coast launches Holiday Destination Like No Other

first_imgSunshine Coast launches ‘Holiday Destination Like No Other’ campaignThe Sunshine Coast, in partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland, has launched a new online campaign A Holiday Destination Like No Other with travel websites Expedia and Wotif designed to inspire travellers to visit the Sunshine Coast.Simon Ambrose, CEO of Sunshine Coast Destination said the aim of the campaign was simple – to entice both new and past visitors to the Sunshine Coast by showcasing the region’s vast range of inspirational activities and attractions, supported by highly competitive flight, accommodation and touring deals.“People are researching holidays online and increasingly via mobile. This online campaign which includes social media integration, dedicated newsletter and email provides a massive opportunity to target Melbourne, Sydney and New Zealand audiences, educate visitors on the diversity of experiences and events on the Sunshine Coast and provide some great deals to book their next holiday.“The campaign A Holiday Destination Like No Other uses blog and video content to provide new and compelling reasons to visit. Visitors know about our pristine beaches but we also want to tell them about our events, fresh local produce, hinterland, nature, lifestyle, spas and markets.“The Sunshine Coast tourism industry has enjoyed a very successful 2015 and we want to ensure the momentum continues into 2016. The timing is right to push hard for domestic visitors while the Aussie dollar is low,” added Mr Ambrose.Tourism and Events Queensland CEO, Leanne Coddington, said the campaign would highlight the Sunshine Coast as a holiday destination of choice for international and domestic visitors.“With the campaign in market in New Zealand on top of an extended Air New Zealand service from Auckland to the Sunshine Coast over summer, this destination is now more accessible to a key international market for Queensland,” Ms Coddington said.“Recent visitor growth has been strong and this campaign will work to further highlight the appeal of a Sunshine Coast summer holiday.”“We are excited raise awareness and inspire travelers with this campaign to consider their summer getaway on the Sunshine Coast,” said Noah Tratt, Global Senior Vice President, Expedia Media Solutions.The Expedia campaign is running from now until 19 November and Wotif from 16 November to 13 December. Sunshine CoastSource = Sunshine Coast Destination Limitedlast_img read more

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