US due to stop managing Afghan airspace by end of June

first_img KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The United States is to stop managing Afghan airspace by the end of June after its air-traffic control contract with the government in Kabul expires, a development that could see international airlines forced to cancel flights both into the country and over its territory.Unless a solution — even a temporary one — is found, Afghanistan would basically become a no-fly zone, which would cost the government millions of dollars in revenue and seriously damage its credibility with overseas donors and investors, officials and diplomats in Kabul warn. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility This is likely contributing to donor fatigue, diplomats say.“The international community does not want to be in a situation where we are continuously stuck with paying for this because they (Afghan authorities) are simply not seriously going to take it over,” a Western diplomat in Kabul told The Associated Press. “This is causing reluctance with some of the partners who would otherwise bridge the gap.”According to an internal NATO memo seen by the AP, the U.S. government will not extend its current contract for another six months, to the end of 2015 — an extension that requires $25 million. The memo offered no insight as to U.S. reasons and officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul declined an AP request for comment.Meanwhile, Japan is considering dipping into its development fund to cover the second half of 2015. Tokyo would be willing to let the Afghan government use $25 million from its Counterpart Fund for a “bridging contract” until the end of the year, a Japanese official said.Tokyo’s approval, however, is conditional on the contract not facilitating military operations in Afghanistan, which is prohibited under Japanese law, the official added. In this Tuesday, May 5, 2015 photo, an aircraft is parked on the tarmac of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. The United States is to stop managing Afghan airspace by the end of June after its air-traffic control contract with the government in Kabul expires, a development that could see international airlines forced to cancel flights both into the country and over its territory. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) “Our government is considering” this, the official said. “We think (a decision) should be very quick — hopefully before the expiry of the U.S. contract.”Both the Western diplomat and the Japanese official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing talks on Afghan air traffic control.Wafayezada, the official at the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority, said Kabul is confident Japan will step in.Then, Afghanistan would take over managing its airspace from January 2016, he added. Kabul was supposed to take over at the start of this year, but Wafayezada said “technical issues” prevented this.Now, the government is considering several bids from foreign companies to take on the contract from next year, he added, without elaborating.Carriers need 30 days’ notice of the end of airspace control and if a new contract is not in place soon, NATO will have to inform airlines that Afghan airspace is no longer managed and that they should change routes.The internal NATO memo stressed that “if no tangible progress is made” in the next two-three weeks, the international alliance will start preparing such notices.“Such a notification would likely stop international carriers from flying to Afghanistan, causing severe revenue impact, severe follow-on economic impact and a major defeat in building investor confidence,” the memo said. Top Stories Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your homecenter_img The Afghan airspace, a key air corridor between Europe and Asia, has been managed by the U.S.-led international military coalition or foreign companies paid by donor countries since 2001, when the Taliban regime was overthrown in a U.S.-led invasion.The air traffic over Afghanistan, as well as to and from the Central Asian country generates about $33 million a year, according to Mohammad Qassim Wafayezada, the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority’s deputy director general on policy and planning. International airlines that fly into the Afghan capital include the Dubai-based Emirates, Air India and Turkish Airlines. Many other airlines fly over Afghanistan.There are no flights to and from the European Union because the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority is not recognized by the bloc, which cannot certify it due to safety deficiencies.The current contract on Afghan air traffic control, paid for by the United States, ends June 30 and failure to renew it will mean that foreign airlines will not be able to use Afghan airspace.It may be a scenario difficult to imagine but at the core is Kabul’s reluctance to take over responsibility for its airspace and put a new contract in place — paid for from its own budget. The implications of unmanaged airspace are serious. In changing routes, airlines would potentially incur higher fuel costs that would inevitably be transferred on to customers. Existing restrictions on use of airspace in other places, such as Syria and Iraq, would further complicate alternative flight paths.The credibility of the government of Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, who took over last year in the first democratic transition of power in the country, would be damaged.And with donors already tiring of Kabul’s regular need for cash handouts to cover budget expenses such as civil service payrolls, failure to take over its own airspace will likely further erode the government’s political capital.___Associated Press writer John-Thor Dahlberg in Brussels contributed to this story.Follow Lynne O’Donnell on Twitter at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img read more

Indian nurse dies after 42 years in coma after rape

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy MUMBAI, India (AP) — A Mumbai nurse who was in a coma for 42 years after being sexually assaulted while working in a hospital has died, hospital authorities said Monday.Aruna Shanbaug suffered severe brain damage and was in a vegetative state after she was raped and strangled by a hospital worker in 1973.Shanbaug was diagnosed with pneumonia last week and had been on a life support system for the past few days, said Pravin Bangar, medical superintendent at Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial Hospital. Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academiescenter_img Shanbaug’s case sparked a debate over India’s euthanasia laws after a Mumbai-based author and friend of the nurse petitioned the courts to stop force-feeding her through a tube so her suffering would not be prolonged.India’s Supreme Court rejected the petition filed by Pinki Virani who had sought euthanasia for Shanbaug, saying the court should “end her unbearable agony.”The case was opposed by nurses at the hospital who took turns taking care of her for more than four decades after Shanbaug’s family said they were unable to support her.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Lawyers file document laying out Hinckley release conditions

first_img Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for the government and Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin John Hinckley Jr. have come to an agreement on certain conditions he would abide by if he is allowed to live full-time outside a mental hospital, but they still disagree about how far officials should be allowed to go in monitoring him.The lawyers filed a court document Wednesday laying out their differences for a judge overseeing Hinckley’s case. The judge, Paul L. Friedman, is deciding whether Hinckley is ready to live outside St. Elizabeths hospital in Washington, where he has been since being found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shooting that wounded Reagan and three others. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The judge had asked the lawyers to produce the document following several days of hearings in April on the issue of Hinckley’s release. The conditions were discussed in detail during the hearing, but the document is the latest and clearest version of the restrictions each side now supports.Hinckley’s latest push for more freedom is part of a more than decade-long process of re-integrating him into the community, always under a variety of restrictions set by the judge. The judge ruled in 2003 that Hinckley could leave St. Elizabeths for daylong visits with his family.Those freedoms have expanded so now he spends 17 days a month at his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Virginia. The hospital and his lawyers have said for years that he is no longer plagued by mental illness, and they now agree he’s ready to live in Williamsburg full time. The judge has not said when he will rule.In the document filed Wednesday, Hinckley, 60, agrees to participate in group and individual therapy in Williamsburg, as he does now, and to make at least monthly return visits to Washington for outpatient psychiatric visits.The document says he will volunteer or work at least three days a week and that Hinckley, who plays the guitar, paints and has a new interest in photography, won’t perform publicly or display his work. He agrees not to drink or have a weapon. He also agrees not to talk to the media, a condition that has been in place for some time, or to contact a variety of people including his victims, their families or the actress Jodie Foster, whom Hinckley was trying to impress when he shot Reagan. Sponsored Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosterone A number of the areas where Hinckley, prosecutors and the hospital disagree have to do with the level of monitoring that will be permitted. Prosecutors continue to ask that he wear a GPS ankle bracelet, a condition the judge dismissed during the hearing, and want a GPS tracking device installed on the car he uses. The hospital says it would support a tracking device on the car. Hinckley’s longtime lawyer, Barry Levine, has objected to both conditions saying they’re not necessary and that the Secret Service can and does follow Hinckley whenever it wants.Prosecutors and the hospital also argue he should be allowed to use the Internet but shouldn’t be allowed to become a member of or post on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. They want him to have only one e-mail account and to have to turn over his username and password. Prosecutors also want monitoring software to be installed on any computer he’s using. Hinckley objects.___Follow Jessica Gresko at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

Draft accords of sanctions relief at Iran nuke talks in hand

first_img Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Much of the negotiation on the matter has concerned sequencing, so that both sides can legitimately claim to have gotten their way.Several other matters related to sanctions also had posed problems.The Obama administration cannot move too quickly to remove economic penalties because of Congress, which will have a 30-day review period for any agreement during which no sanctions can be waived.American officials also had been struggling to separate the “nuclear-related” sanctions it is prepared to suspend from those it wishes to keep, including measures designed to counteract Iranian ballistic missile efforts, human rights violations and support for U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.And to keep pressure on Iran, world powers had been hoping to finalize a system for snapping suspended sanctions back into force if Iran cheats on the accord. Russia has traditionally opposed any plan that would see them lose their U.N. veto power and a senior Russian negotiator said only this week that his government rejected any automatic “snapback” of sanctions.___Associated Press Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Comments   Share   5 ways to recognize low testosterone Parents, stop beating yourself up Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall They include inspection guidelines, rules governing Iran’s research and development of advanced nuclear technology and the nuts and bolts of reducing the size and output of Iran’s uranium enrichment program.As part of a deal, the Obama administration also wants Iran to fully cooperate with the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency’s investigation of allegations that Tehran worked secretly on nuclear arms — something Iran vehemently denies. But chances of progress on that issue appear to be dimming.IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told reporters on Saturday that “more work will be needed” to advance the probe, in a statement similar to previous ones from his agency, which has struggled for nearly a decade to resolve its concerns.While saying he could wrap up his investigation by the end of the year, Amano said he needs Tehran’s cooperation to do so. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said after Thursday’s meeting in Tehran with Amano that the agency now understands that the “pointless allegations” are “baseless.”Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have made repeated demands for economic penalties to be lifted shortly after a deal is reached. Washington and its partners have said they’d take action after Iran verifiably complies with restrictions on enrichment and other elements of the nuclear program. VIENNA (AP) — World powers and Iran have drawn up a draft document on the pace and timing of sanctions relief for the Islamic republic in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program, advancing on one of the most contentious issues at their negotiations, diplomats told The Associated Press on Saturday.Written by technical experts, the document still must be approved by senior officials of the seven nations at the table, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the foreign ministers of the five other countries expected to join Kerry and Zarif in Vienna this weekend for a push to meet a July 7 deadline. Sponsored Stories The International Atomic Energy Agency’s director-general, Yukiya Amano, is seated during his meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, July 2, 2015. The head of the U.N. atomic agency, Amano, visited Tehran to discuss remaining outstanding issues over Iran’s nuclear program. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi) The development indicated the sides were moving closer to a comprehensive accord that would set a decade of restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for tens of billions of dollars in economic benefits for the Iranians.Officials had described sanctions relief as one of the thorniest disagreements between Iran and the United States, which has led the campaign of international pressure against Iran’s economy. The U.S. and much of the world fears Iran’s enrichment of uranium and other activity could be designed to make nuclear weapons; Iran says its program is meant only to generate power and for other peaceful purposes.The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on this past week’s confidential negotiations, said the sanctions annex was completed this week by experts from Iran and the six world powers in the negotiations: the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. They did not provide details of the agreement.A senior U.S. official did not dispute the diplomats’ account but said work remained to be done on “Annex II” before the issue could be described as finalized. And beyond a political agreement that was still in the draft stage, details also needed to be finalized on tough issues contained in four other appendices. The vital role family plays in societylast_img read more

American sportsman dies in parachute accident in Turkey

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   The Dogan news agency said the 37-year-old from southern California had leapt from an altitude of some 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) when the accident occurred.The Erzincan Municipality said the International Nature and Culture Festival was canceled because of Flanders’ death.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How do cataracts affect your vision? Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Quick workouts for men ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Organizers and media reports say American base jumper Ian Flanders has died in a parachute accident during a nature sports festival in eastern Turkey.Flanders plunged into a river and died when his parachute ropes got wrapped around his legs during a jump from the Karanlik canyon in Turkey’s Erzincan province on July 21. His body was pulled out of the Karasu river, a tributary of the Euphrates, by rescue boats and taken to the Erzincan state hospital morgue.center_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

Wireless on planes okay as long as theres no talking FCm Trave

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=ada84479″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> As wireless during flight is now becoming a reality instead of pure concept, there is now a push for in-flight etiquette, and a big no-no appears to be loud talking.From a recently online survey conducted by FCm Travel, it appears that travellers who would like to keep in contact while flying are of the opinion that it should only be done through texting and email.“Texting and emailing is pretty unobtrusive but when it comes to voice calls, it seems that few travellers want to be stuck next to someone talking shop for two hours straight or divulging details of their personal life,” Chris Preston, FCm Travel Marketing Manager Australia.In the FCm Travel survey, 44% of respondents still didn’t approve of wireless connectivity during flight, while at the other end of the spectrum 8% of respondents were happy for travellers to talk, text or email during flight.47% of corporate travellers surveyed said texting and emailing, but no talking should be enforced.last_img read more

Airlines to become retail powerhouses by 2013 SITA survey

first_imgAirlines are set to become retail powerhouses, according to the 12th annual SITA/Airline Business IT Trends Survey.The airlines which carry the bulk of the world’s air traffic are set to sell the majority of airline tickets direct to passengers by 2013. The 129 airlines who responded to the 2010 survey carry over one billion passengers and are currently selling 40.8% of tickets directly to the public. This can be further broken down to 25.8% over the internet, 10.7% through call centres and 4.3% interlining. These 129 airlines intend to increase direct sales up to 55.1% by 2013. Sales through airline call centres and interlining are expected to remain static, while direct channel sales through websites are expected to increase by 37.9%.Francesco Violante, SITA CEO, said: “This year’s survey tells us there is a climate of increasing business confidence. “Airlines are investing in IT to provide richer functionality to their online customers and creating additional channels to market in order to increase the level of direct sales now that online distribution is almost universal.”Airlines are prioritizing the implementation of new functionality on their web sites in an effort to boost online sales. They are achieving this in the following ways: online shopping tools (61% have already implemented this); change/cancel/rebook (52%); and frequent flyer redemption functionality (51%).This fits in with the overall airline strategy to help passengers switch to self-service, with airlines planning to reduce the number of passengers processed via agent check-in from 50.7% to 28.9% by 2013. Kiosk check-in is expected to remain at just below 20% while web check-in options will grow to 35.5% in 2013, and mobile check-in will advance from 28% today to 70% by 2013.The survey shows the key role kiosks play in a multi-channel environment with 47% of airlines set to increase the number of new kiosks as they add new functionality for flight transfers and disruption management. The survey also found that 80% of the largest airlines plan to use kiosks as sales points.By 2013, the mobile phone will become an integral tool for airline travel with 86% of airlines planning to offer flight notifications; 80%, online check-in; 76%, send electronic boarding passes to mobiles; and 68% using mobiles to advertise travel offers. Airlines are becoming more skilled at upselling, using fare families and marketing types; unbundling fares, by charging for services (i.e meals and baggage management); and selling non-air services (i.e hotels, car hire and insurance). A large portion of this revenue generation takes place direct on line: 63%, upsell; 41% unbundle; and 51% sell non-air services. In 2013, 91% of survey respondents will have implemented at least one of these ancillary revenue strategies via their own direct web channels.129 airlines responded to this year’s survey, including 14% classified as low cost carriers; 81% full service carriers; 5% charter carriers.The SITA/Airline IT Trends Survey is an independent poll of senior IT personnel working within the top 200 passenger carriers. <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img read more

Its time for a TCF solution Carnival Australia

first_imgCarnival Australia says it is time to sit down and find a solution that will fill consumer confidence if plans to “abolish” the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) continue.  A draft transition plan unveiled by the Consumer Affairs Ministers earlier this year suggested that the TCF would be phased out in favour of a new compensation group relevant to today’s market.However, with talks still in progress regarding the future of the industry, Ms Sherry said concern was growing about the risk to public confidence in agents, if a suitable “compensation mechanism is not found to replace the TCF”.According to the operator, without an appropriate replacement travellers could be left with limited protection and reduced faith in consultants across the country. “It’s no secret the current TCF arrangement is onerous for travel agents so it’s timely to sit down and find a mechanism that addresses the current challenges and properly balances consumer risk,” Ms Sherry said. Carnival Australia is hosting talks with key travel agent partners and the Australian Federation of Travel Agents this week to discuss a plan, ahead of a state and federal meeting to review the Draft Plan on 7 December this year. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Emirates adds seats to Perth

first_imgEmirates has announced it will add upgrade aircraft on services from Perth, adding an extra 88 seats per day on the route.From 1 June 2013, the airline will replace the Boeing 777-200LR currently operating on the EK24 and EK25 routes to the Boeing 777-300ER.Emirates vice president Australasia Barry Brown said the change will allow more travellers to “secure a seat” on services from Perth.Meanwhile, earlier this month Emirates and its new alliance partner, Qantas unveiled new frequent flyer benefits.Click here for more information.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Aircraft changes from Perth.last_img

Australia receives 133 awards in new Hotelscom global award program

first_imgPerth, WA 4.7 The Langham Melbourne Australia receives 133 awards in new global award programThanks to reviews written by guests who have actually stayed in the properties,® has introduced a new program to recognise hotels that have achieved excellent to outstanding guest review ratings from customers around the world. In the first phase of the program, has identified more than 6,400 boutique properties in 117 countries that have achieved an average guest review rating of 4.5 or higher* (out of 5). To determine the initial recipients, analysed its database of more than 15 million Genuine Guest Reviews, which are verified upon the completion of each guest’s stay. “Our accommodation partners are invaluable assets to and we’re committed to recognising their hard work and dedication to provide guests with the best possible experience,” said Abhiram Chowdhry, Vice President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, “This program is also a testament to our customers who’ve contributed to the more than 15 million guest reviews that determined these top-performing properties.”Australia garnered 133 awards with Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns tying for first with each destination securing ten awards. The USA received the most awards globally with 1,005, while the UK (730), Italy (701) and Canada (351) filled out the top four. A selection of top Australian hotels as voted by customers  Melbourne, VIC Cairns, QLD 4.9 QT Sydney Fraser Suites Cairns, QLD 4.8 4.8 Source = Crown Towers Melbourne, VIC Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour is encouraging travellers to share their most memorable hotel accommodations using the #LovedbyGuests hashtag.  To view other top-rated hotels around the world, please click here  * To receive an award, properties must have received an average customer review score of 4.5 or higher, based on a minimum of 50 reviews as of January 31, 2015.  4.6 Hilton Melbourne South Wharfcenter_img Gold Coast, QLD Melbourne, VIC City Beachfront Apartments on Trinity Beach Sydney, NSW 4.6 Sea Change Beachfront Apartments Peppers Broadbeach Guest Rating The Playford Adelaide, A Member Of The Mgallery Collection 4.6 4.7 Sydney, NSW Adelaide, SA 4.6 4.7 Hotellast_img read more

New Metro changes the way travellers experience Los Angeles

first_imgNew Metro changes the way travellers experience Los AngelesNew Metro changes the way travellers experience Los AngelesBeginning May 20, 2016, visitors to Los Angeles will have the opportunity to experience the city’s neighbourhoods like never before as Phase 2 of the long-awaited Metro Expo Line Extension from Culver City to Santa Monica is completed.To commemorate this milestone and celebrate the three-year anniversary of its eco-tourism initiative, carfreeL.A., Discover Los Angeles is unveiling two new self-guided itineraries:DISCOVER DOWNTOWN CAR FREE – Dive deep into one of L.A.’s most talked about neighbourhoods and explore new hotel developments, restaurants and cultural attractionsDISCOVER METRO EXPO LINE CAR FREE – Ride the Metro’s 15 mile (24.1km) stretch from Downtown to Santa Monica and experience neighbourhood gems in between.“The Metro Expo Line Extension marks a significant moment in L.A. County’s transit revolution, making it easier and more convenient to see all that L.A. has to offer,” said Ernest Wooden Jr., president and CEO of Discover Los Angeles.“For the first time in 63 years, residents and visitors will be able to travel between Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica aboard a railway. The 6.6 mile (10.6km), USD$1.5billion extension project is proof that our city is committed to changing perceptions of our car-centric roots, while programs like carfreeL.A. enhance the Los Angeles visitor experience without relying on a car.”Downtown Los Angeles is undergoing a major renaissance in multiple facets ranging from celebrated cultural institutions and world-class dining to globally-inspired street art and premier entertainment venues. Metro makes navigating these attractions a breeze with several stops located in and around the neighborhood.The new DISCOVER DOWNTOWN CAR FREE itinerary highlights the new SkySlide, a glass-bottomed slide hovering 1,000 feet above city sidewalks; Grand Central Market, a downtown landmark since 1917; The Last Bookstore, California’s largest used and new book and record store, and so much more.The second self-guided itinerary, DISCOVER METRO EXPO LINE CAR FREE, features must-see and -do activities at multiple stops along the 15 mile stretch from Downtown to Santa Monica, where visitors can hop on and off the Metro and get immersed in distinctly different neighborhoods ranging from Exposition Park, home to a world-class collection of museums, sports facilities and recreations areas; La Brea, hub for culture, shopping, art and dining; Culver City, one of L.A.’s most historic and scenic neighborhoods filled with eclectic mix of bookstores, furniture stores and top notch dining; Westwood, cultural mecca and home base for UCLA, surrounded by Beverly Hills, Century City and Brentwood; and Santa Monica, named one of the Top 10 Beach Cities in the World by National Geographic.“The Metro Expo Line Extension will offer tourists a convenient and enjoyable way to travel from Downtown L.A. to the beaches of Santa Monica and popular neighborhoods in between,” said Metro CEO Phil Washington. “We are excited to debut the newest extension to our network of railways that connect travellers to various L.A. regions, which is home to world-class entertainment, attractions and cultural institutions including, Universal Studios in Hollywood, Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown and so much more.”carfreeL.A. was launched on Earth Day in 2013 and offers self-guided and curated itineraries to explore the city’s neighborhoods via foot, bike and public transportation. Itineraries are centered on exploring various Los Angeles neighborhoods, attractions and hidden gems. Discover Los Angeles Source = Discover Los Angeleslast_img read more

Amazing Thailand Health and Wellness Tourism Showcase 2017

first_imgAmazing Thailand Health and Wellness Tourism Showcase 2017Amazing Thailand Health and Wellness Tourism Showcase 2017The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) recently organised the 4thAmazing Thailand Health and Wellness Tourism Showcase with the theme of ‘Thailand: Paradise for Longevity’ to promote the Kingdom as a destination for products and services for a longer life. The one-day event was held on 11 August, offering special health and wellness deals until 31 December.Mr. Noppadon Pakprot, TAT Deputy Governor for Tourism Products and Business said, “This annual showcase is part of our plan to promote Thailand as a world-class destination for medical tourism. According to a report by VISA and Oxford Economics, Thailand is considered as one of Asia’s top medical tourism destinations. Thailand now has 58 JCI-accredited hospitals, more than any other Southeast Asian country.”During the one-day showcase, 44 health and wellness professionals across the entire range of medial disciplines attended the event to promote Thailand’s health and wellness products to raise international awareness. Medical tourism facilitators and travel agencies from 30 countries worldwide also discussed   business deals with participating health and wellness providers.The event highlighted why Thailand is a ‘Paradise for Longevity’ and an emerging leader in the field of ‘Functional and Regenerative Medicine’. Thailand is the first and only country in Asia with hospitals specialising in ‘Functional & Regenerative Medicine’, including Better Being Hospital and Mali Interdisciplinary Hospital.Thailand is also Asia’s anti-aging centre leader with 500 medical specialists in this sector, the largest number of American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine-certified medical professionals in the region.The Royal Thai Government has approved 90-day visas for patients and medical visitors from Cambodia, Lao PDR., Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) as well as from the People’s Republic of China in a bid to boost Thailand’s medical tourism. This was put in place in 22 March, this year.In addition, long-stay 10-year visas are now available for senior nationals of 14 countries including: Japan, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.TAT is also partnering with Royal Orchid Plus to offer special health and wellness tourism packages until 31 December to help promote medical tourism. This includes an invitation to Royal Orchid Plus Platinum and Gold members to visit Thailand, supported by special packages from leading hospitals and clinics, for complimentary health check-ups.See more at TAT NewsroomSource = The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)last_img read more

Ctrip signs China focused Distribution Agreement

first_img(L-R: Jim Chung: Director, Global Hotel Chains/Ctrip; Ray Chen: CEO, Accommodation Business Unit/Ctrip; David Zhou: CBO, Accommodation Business Unit/Ctrip; Nayan Peshkar: SVP .Digital, Distribution & Revenue Strategy/MHR; Jun Lai: General Manager, International Market & Hotel Chains/Ctrip; Hana Chlebna: Global Online Distribution Manager/MHR)Ctrip signs China focused Distribution Agreement with Millennium Hotels and International, Ltd. (Nasdaq: CTRP), one of China’s largest integrated travel services companies (“Ctrip”), today signed an agreement with upscale global hoteliers Millennium Hotels and Resorts (MHR) to develop a global distribution strategy promoting MHR properties to Ctrip’s 300 million strong customer base.The agreement was announced jointly at ITB Berlin by David Zhou, Chief Business Officer for Accommodation Business Unit of Ctrip and Nayan Peshkar, MHR Senior Vice President – Digital, Distribution & Revenue Strategy.It marks the start of an alliance enabling Ctrip to offer MHR’s iconic portfolio of hotels in the USA, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia to its China-based business and leisure travel clients. Through the aegis of a strategic collaboration agreement, MHR will partner with Ctrip’s membership program, which will certify its properties as “Chinese Friendly Hotels” and enable them to benefit from Ctrip’s influential ranking system. MHR and Ctrip will also work towards customer initiatives such as the launching of a flagship store on Ctrip’s digital platforms, joint marketing campaigns as well as knowledge sharing and cross exposure programmes for team members.Ctrip is the number one platform for Chinese nationals travelling overseas. About one in four Chinese citizens use Ctrip to book and search for outbound flight tickets, making it the world’s largest outbound travel platform. According to Ctrip’s 2018 Travel Report, its customers’ top destinations are England, France, Germany, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, and USA, all of which are home to hotels owned or operated by MHR and its associates.MHR parent company Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Plc was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1996. At the end of 2018, it operated or branded a portfolio of 139 properties with over 40,000 rooms. Its respected brands are present in 28 nations around the world, including China where it owns and operates the iconic Grand Millennium Hotel Beijing, as well as operating properties in Hong Kong, Xiamen and other major Chinese destinations. The Group has always had a strong Asian franchise, thanks to its majority ownership by City Developments Limited, one of Singapore’s leading corporations. This, combined with its unique range of iconic properties in popular destinations will make it a valuable addition to Ctrip’s customer offering.David Zhou of Ctrip said, “We are so grateful to be enhancing our relationship with MHR. Chinese outbound tourists reached nearly 150 million in 2018, and the growth for this year remains strong. By signing this China–focused distribution agreement with MHR, we are continuing to offer 300 million members the best hotel experience worldwide whilst enhancing MHR’s presence and boosting new business opportunities for them in the China Market.”Nayan Peshkar of MHR said, “We are delighted to be joining forces with Ctrip and thus raising the profile of our hotel offering in the large and fast-growing China travel market. Asia is our second biggest region of operations, so we already have a deep and embedded experience of what it takes to meet the high demands of business and leisure travelers from China. With hotels located in some of the world’s most attractive destinations, we look forward to welcoming more of Ctrip’s customers in the coming year.”About International, International, Ltd. is a leading provider of online travel and related services, including accommodation reservation, transportation ticketing, package tour and in-destination services, corporate travel management, and other travel related services. It enables business and leisure travellers to make informed and cost-effective bookings by aggregating comprehensive travel related information and offering its services through an advanced transaction and service platform consisting of its mobile apps, Internet websites and centralized, toll-free, 24-hour customer service center. The family of travel brands mainly includes: Ctrip, the largest online travel agency in terms of gross merchandise value and the best-known travel brand in China; Qunar, a leading online travel agency in China;, an online travel agency for global consumers; and Skyscanner, a leading global travel search site. Since its inception in 1999, Ctrip Group has experienced substantial growth and become one of the largest travel service providers in the world.About Millennium & Copthorne Hotels PlcMillennium Hotels and Resorts is the umbrella brand of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels plc, a global hospitality management and real estate group, listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: MLC).The company owns and/or manages a worldwide portfolio of more than 136 hotels, offering over 40,000 rooms in business and leisure destinations in Asia, Australasia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. Millennium Hotels and Resorts consist of 4 brand collections: Leng’s Collection, M Collection, Millennium Collection and Copthorne Collection.MHR is a dynamic hospitality group with an outstanding reputation for excellence and taking pride in exceeding the needs of business and leisure travellers. Its properties are well located in the world’s most attractive destinations, including New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Auckland and Beijing. Millennium Hotels and Resorts offer its guests the perfect address for business and leisure alike. Source = Internationallast_img read more

FHRAI to hold 50th Annual Convention at Bhubaneswar

first_imgThe Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI) has announced plans for holding its Golden Jubilee Convention from September 25-27, 2015 at Mayfair Convention, Bhubaneswar. Odisha Tourism has joined FHRAI as Partner of the event. The theme of the Convention is ‘Atithi Devo Bhavo’ meaning ‘Guest is God’. The event is expecting over 1,000 delegates.The inaugural day will discuss and debate the issues relating to growth of hospitality industry in India. The second day will be Odisha Day, Folk dances, cultural and marketing presentations from the state will be presented. On the concluding day coinciding with the World Tourism Day, a Heritage Walk will be organised jointly with the Government of Odisha which will essentially be a cultural extravaganza with tableau, folk dances and performances. Invitations have been sent out to a number of foreign countries and different states in India to participate in the event. The theme of the walk will be ‘Tourism Unites the World’.Launching the Golden Jubilee Convention mnemonic, Ashok Chandra Panda, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Government of Odisha said “We are pleased that FHRAI has chosen Odisha to hold its Golden Jubilee Convention. Our state has a rich diversity of tourism assets and the event will help us to showcase to the world the splendors of Odisha.”Tejinder Singh Walia, President, FHRAI said, “It is a proud privilege for FHRAI that Odisha Tourism has partnered with us to hold Golden Jubilee Convention, which is for the first time being held in the Tier-II city in eastern India. The 13 states and a union territory comprising the eastern India have immense tourism potential and we are confident that this event will be a catalyst for the growth of tourism in the region.”last_img read more

France executes biometric visa in India

first_imgFrance, in line with all the countries of the Schengen Area, began issuing biometric visas to Indian citizens with effect from November 2, 2015, facilitating travel throughout the area besides easing the process of issuing long-term visas. The French embassy in India will offer a large number of three or five year circulation visas to frequent visitors to the country.With the launch of eight new VFS centres, the number has come up to 14, ensuring best possible proximity to applicants. Children below 12 years of age will be exempted from the procedure. The recorded biometric data will be stored for a period of 59 months, obviating the need for the applicants to come in person for renewal. The data recorded by France will be valid during the period for all the Schengen Area countries.The new system has been introduced to protect and assist visa applicants, to enhance the confidentiality and security of individual data and while reducing risks of fraud and identity theft. The applicant is obliged to come in person only once and the visa can be collected by any authorised person. Visas issued prior to the introduction of biometrics will be valid.The transition to biometrics will neither alter the visa issuance period nor the fee.last_img read more

Masterchef India season 5s semifinal concludes in Sydney

first_imgSydney’s culinary credentials were the highlight at MasterChef India Season 5’s semi-final episodes.  The judges and remaining six contestants cooked their way across the Harbour city’s most iconic locations.From Bondi Beach to the Harbour foreshore, and the Sydney Cricket Ground, judges Chef Vikas Khanna, Chef Kunal Kapur and Zorawar Kalra put the contestants through a series of Master Classes, Pressure Tests and a Mystery Box challenges that saw Dinesh Patel, Kirti Bhautika, Ashima Arora and Mirvan Vinayak through to the season 5 grand finale.Sandra Chipchase, Chief Executive, Destination NSW Officer said, “Sydney was the perfect destination to host the important MasterChef India semi-finals. Home to the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and world-famous beaches, particularly with our food scene dominated by an abundance of local, fresh produce. Sydney really is a haven for food lovers and is one of the world’s favourite culinary capitals.“Combining food and wine experiences, including visiting the Sydney Cricket Ground, shopping for local produce at Bondi Beach, and taking in the beautiful harbour and surrounds, the MasterChef India crew has showcased some of New South Wales’ quintessential produce such as South Coast Oysters, Macadamias, John Dory Fish and Lemon Myrtle. Fans of the show are able to add these food and tourist experiences to their own itinerary when planning their visit to Sydney and New South Wales,” added Chipchase.last_img read more

Mortgage Activity Declines in All Categories to Start November

first_img Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies FHA Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Applications Refinance Service Providers 2012-11-06 Krista Franks Brock in Data, Origination, Servicing Mortgage activity was down across the board last week, dropping 11 percent from the previous week and by almost one-third from the same week last year, according to the _U.S. Mortgage Market Index_ from “”Mortech Inc.””: and “”_Mortgage Daily._””:[IMAGE]The biggest drop over the week ending November 2 was among adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), while the smallest decline was seen among purchase financing inquiries. [COLUMN_BREAK]ARMs were down 19.5 percent from the previous week and almost 75 percent from a year ago. Purchase price finance inquiries were down 10.8 percent over the week, the smallest decline for the week. However, purchase activity is still significantly lower than this time last year. Current purchase rates are a little more than half of what was recorded this time last year. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans loans fell in line with a 10.9 percent decline.Compared to last year, FHA loans are down 29.3 percent. However, their market share is on par with last year’s. FHA loans made up 10.3 percent of loans last week, while last year they made up 10 percent. Conventional mortgages were down 11 percent and down about a third from last year. Refinances declined 11.1 percent but made up about the same percentage of mortgage activity as the previous week–74.6 percent. Jumbo mortgages saw the second-highest activity decline last week, falling 14.7 percent, even as the jumbo-conforming spread narrowed from 67 basis points to 63 basis points for the week ending November 2. November 6, 2012 444 Views center_img Share Mortgage Activity Declines in All Categories to Start Novemberlast_img read more

Rising Home Prices Help Older Americans Hinder Younger Buyers

first_img While last year’s rising home prices brought relief to many underwater homeowners, allowing many older homeowners with increased net worth to purchase new homes, they also precluded many young first-time buyers from purchasing, according to a report from Houston, Texas-based “”BBVA Group””:, a global financial services firm. [IMAGE]””Older homeowners are increasingly able to purchase a new residence with cash only after they sell their current home,”” said Jason Frederick, an economist for BBVA Compass. In December 2013, 42 percent of residential home sales were made in cash, a significant increase from just 18 percent a year earlier. With many older Americans feeling confident as their net worth rises with their home values, homebuilders are now targeting potential buyers 55 years old or older, according to BBVA. Younger Americans who do not yet own a home find themselves in a very different situation from seasoned homeowners. Home price growth has outpaced income growth, and according to Frederick, “”[Y]oung families will [COLUMN_BREAK]need to see faster income growth and save additional money to make a larger down payment.”” Prices will continue to rise this year, but appreciation will slow from the 11.5 percent annual gain last year to a pace of 8.5 percent for 2014, according to BBVA’s projections. Gross domestic product (GDP) and employment will also improve this year, according to BBVA. GDP will grow by 2.5 percent this year, and the economy will add 2.4 million jobs. These improvements will carry over to the residential market, translating to 2.1 million new households over the next two years. “”[H]ousehold formation will increase with economic growth because both immigration rises and young people move out of their parents’ houses,”” BBVA said in its report. However, many of these new households will enter the rental market rather than the purchase market. BBVA predicts rental households will grow by 1.2 million over the next two years, while owner-occupied households will grow by 900,000. Home sales will rise in 2014, according to BBVA. Existing single-family home sales will rise 4.2 percent over the year to about 4.7 million, while new single-family home sales will jump up 13.4 percent over the year to about 490,000.With inventory low, BBVA predicts a 17 percent increase in housing starts this year. Single-family housing starts will total about 810,000, and multifamily starts will total about 274,000 for an overall addition of about 1.1 million housing starts. The healing market will also encounter fewer foreclosures this year than last. BBVA predicts between 700,000 and 800,000 foreclosures this year, down from 1 million last year. Rising Home Prices Help Older Americans, Hinder Younger Buyers in Data February 12, 2014 421 Views center_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Equity Home Prices Home Sales Homebuilders Investors Lenders & Servicers Service Providers 2014-02-12 Krista Franks Brock Sharelast_img read more

Underwater Rate Falls Below 20 Declines Expected to Slow

first_img Home Equity Home Values Zillow 2014-02-27 Tory Barringer in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, News Share For the first time in years, the national negative equity rate dipped below 20 percent to close out 2013, Zillow revealed Friday in its quarterly Negative Equity Report.According to the company’s stats, negative equity declined to 19.4 percent nationally as of the end of last quarter, bringing the underwater rate down more than 8 percentage points over the course of 2013.By Zillow’s estimate, approximately 9.8 million homeowners remain underwater on their mortgages.“We’ve reached an important milestone as negative equity has fallen below 20 percent nationwide, which has helped free up marginally more inventory and contribute to further stabilization of the market,” said Dr. Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist.While celebrating the latest news, however, the company also notes that the “effective” negative equity rate—which includes the number of mortgaged homeowners with 20 percent or less equity in their homes—remains stubbornly high at 37.6 percent. Unable to sell their homes for enough profit to comfortably purchase a new one, these homeowners are effectively immobile in the market.Furthermore, as home value gains slow and foreclosure numbers fall, the rate of declines in negative equity is expected to drop off. By the end of 2014, Zillow forecasts the negative equity rate will be around 17.2 percent—a much smaller drop than the one observed last year.What’s more, Zillow pointed to 26 markets that could see a rise in negative equity as homes lose value—including St. Louis, the only market among the largest 35 that is projected to see in an increase in underwater homes.“[A] number of headwinds will prevent negative equity from falling at the kind of sustained, rapid pace we need before the market can completely return to normal,” Humphries said. “High negative equity is just another sign of how distorted the market continues to be, and how far we still have to go on the road back to normal.”center_img Underwater Rate Falls Below 20%; Declines Expected to Slow February 27, 2014 452 Views last_img read more

Consumer Spending Gauge Perks Up After March Drop

first_img May 23, 2014 443 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Consumer spending Deloitte New Home Prices Unemployment 2014-05-23 Tory Barringer Consumer Spending Gauge Perks Up After March Dropcenter_img After experiencing a substantial drop in March, consumer spending increased marginally in April, thanks to ongoing improvements in labor and home prices.In its most recent monthly release, Deloitte reported a slight rise in its Consumer Spending Index, which measured 3.88 as of the end of the month. March’s index had registered 3.51, reflecting a drop of more than half a point from the month prior.The index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future spending.”Real consumer spending has held up in recent months, and the outlook continues to remain positive,” said Deloitte senior U.S. economist Daniel Bachman.Bachman said April’s improvement stemmed from a decrease in initial unemployment claims, which were down 4.8 percent month-over-month. Also contributing was a 10.9 percent pickup in real median new home prices, which came to $123,000.Meanwhile, real hourly wages were an estimated $8.83, up 1.0 percent compared to a year ago but down 0.3 percent from March.The tax rate—the fourth and final index component—was flat, holding steady at 11.8 percent for the fifth straight month.While April’s increase only made up for about half of March’s drop, Bachman says the indicators look promising.”The decrease in the employment insurance claims was confirmed by the favorable April employment figures,” he said. “Coupled with steady home prices, this will lift consumers’ ability and willingness to spend.” Sharelast_img read more