Asia by Goway launches Romance Thailand campaign

first_img Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Asia by Goway launches Romance Thailand campaign Posted by TORONTO — Asia by Goway has launched its Romance Thailand Campaign with bonus upgrade offers.“What the world needs now, is ‘love, sweet love’! You would think it was February with all the love that Goway is showering around,” says the company.Goway has chosen four of its most popular programs for the campaign, highlighting Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai.Goway has secured bonus upgrades for these destinations, starting with room upgrades from plunge pool suites to pool villas, and deluxe river view rooms.Goway says its partners in Thailand have also offered some great value for these superior room types so that clients can get the full comfort of a romantic stay.Each resort and hotel – eight in total – is also offering value-adds to enhance each couple’s stay. These include 60- and 90-minute massages, spa treatments, dinner options (including one that comes with butler service), cooking classes with an executive chef and plus food and beverage credits.More news:  Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is backA variety of packages are available, either pairing Bangkok with one of Thailand’s famous beach destinations, or delivering the full Thailand experience with an additional stay in Chiang Mai. Prices start at $2,189 out of Vancouver for City and Beach with Phuket.To be eligible for this offer, clients must book by Sept. 30.center_img Tags: Asia Pacific, Romance & Weddings, Thailand Tuesday, August 29, 2017 Sharelast_img read more

Groups are golden with Transat and Karisma

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Karisma Hotels & Resorts TORONTO — Transat has a new Groups promotion in partnership with Karisma Hotels & Resorts.Through May 31 group bookings at The Fives Azul Beach Resort Playa del Carmen by Karisma qualify for a ninth passenger free deal.The promotion is valid for travel between May 1, 2018, and Oct. 31, 2019.It’s also in addition to savings of $100 per couple as well as Transat Group Max and wedding group special perks and inclusions.The Fives Azul Beach Resort Playa del Carmen, formerly the Azul Beach Resort the Fives Playa Del Carmen (Karisma announced the name change along back in April) has 571 suites, six pools, nine restaurants, 10 bars and a spa. There’s also a kids’ club (four to 12 years old), a teens club (13 – 17 years old) and baby amenities. Oversized Resort Residence accommodations come with separate living and sleeping areas.Azul Five Pool Posted by Monday, May 14, 2018 center_img Travelweek Group Groups are golden with Transat and Karisma Sharelast_img read more

Berner Oberland Pass available through Rail Europe as of March 2019

first_img Share Thursday, January 3, 2019 Tags: Eurail, Rail Europe Posted by Berner Oberland Pass available through Rail Europe as of March 2019center_img WHITE PLAINS — Rail Europe is offering multiple new and upgraded options for exploring Europe in 2019.The Eurail Global Pass now features unlimited rail travel in 31 countries, with the addition of Great Britain, Lithuania, and Macedonia in 2019. A new, more competitive pricing structure makes it a better deal as well, says Rail Europe. Compared to 2018 prices, Eurail Global Passes are now permanently up to 37% cheaper.To accommodate shorter itineraries, a new 3-days-in-one month Eurail Global Pass has also been added for 2019. Travellers can now choose a flexi pass offering 3, 5 or 7 days of unlimited travel within a 1-month period, or 10 or 15 travel days to be used within a 2-month period, with a choice of consecutive or non-consecutive travel days. They can also opt for a continuous pass good for 15 or 22 travel days, or 1, 2 or 3 travel months.Rail Europe is advising that Eurail Global Passes purchased in 2018 will not be valid for use in Great Britain in 2019. However Eurail Select Passes and Saver Passes purchased in 2018 will still be valid for travel in 2019, even though the passes will be discontinued as of Dec. 31, 2018. The company recommends checking its Eurail Global Pass page for details.More news:  GLP Worldwide introduces first-ever Wellness programsFor clients looking to explore a single country, the Eurail One Country Pass is now available for 6 days in 1 month. Choices now include 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 days in 1 month. The France Pass remains 1-8 days in 1 month. A Eurail Lithuania Pass and Eurail Macedonia Pass are also new.Rail Europe also says seniors age 60+ receive 10% off the adult fare on any Eurail Global Pass or Eurail One Country Pass for 1st and 2nd class travel. Eurail’s existing programs include discounts for Youth ages 12 to 27. Children up to age 11 travel for free when traveling with an adult, but not with those using the Senior Fare.Meanwhile the Eurail Greek Islands Pass has expanded to include 53 participating islands. The international option, available in 1st and 2nd class, is valid for 6 trips within 1 month, with one round-trip Italy-Greece ferry connection and 4 domestic trips, including Trainose rail/bus transfer from Patras to Piraeus. A new 5-trip option is available in 2nd class for 5 domestic trips within 1 month as well.More news:  Beep, beep! Transat hits the streets with Cubamania truckComing soon, Thalys is opening new routes that will provide direct connections to Roissy – CDG Airport and Marne-la-Vallée (Disneyland Paris, La Vallée Village) from Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Schiphol Airport, and Amsterdam. Tickets are now available through Rail Europe for travel starting in April 2019.Also coming up, the Berner Oberland Pass is anticipated to become available for purchase through Rail Europe beginning in March 2019. Those who wish to explore the Bernese Oberland region including Bern, Lucerne, Brig, and Emmental can use the Berner Oberland Regional Pass for travel by rail, PostBus, or boats on Lake Thun and Brienz. Available for both 1st and 2nd class travel and one flat fee for children, the pass features more than 15 mountain excursions. Choices include 3, 4, 6, 8, or 10 consecutive days, valid for travel April 20 to Oct. 31, 2019. Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

MLK and Central America The dream lives on

first_imgPictured here in 1987, Costa Rica’s former President Oscar Arias was instrumental in negotiating a Central American peace deal that helped end the region’s bloody wars in the 1980s. The same year, Arias won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. He still quotes Martin Luther King, Jr. as an inspiration.  Facebook Comments No related posts.center_img OPINIONOn the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, it strikes me how little it is generally understood that the civil rights movement in the United States is mirrored by struggles for equality and democracy in Central America.And it’s not just the fight in Central America between good ol’ boys like John Hull, the Indiana farmer who aided the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan Contras from his farm in northern Costa Rica, and 1960s activists like Martha Honey and Tony Avirgan, the husband and wife journalism team who devoted themselves during the ’80s to exposing Hull.Ever since the adventurous gray-eyed man of destiny William Walker tried to bring Central America into the U.S. union as slave states in the 1850s, events in Central America have been under the sway of politics in the southern United States.It should have come as no surprise that mercenary groups from places like Alabama, and with names like Civilian Military Assistance, were evident in abundance during the Contra era.Also, Costa Rican former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias’ calls for nonviolent political solutions to regional wars owed a debt to Martin Luther King Jr., whom Arias still quotes quite regularly.And just as King would have predicted, “the arch of the moral universe” that “bends towards justice” bent in favor of the peace process led by Arias.The Arias peace plan tapped into a current of history that transcended national boundaries and was helped along by the same historical flow that boycotted buses in Montgomery, was hosed and attacked by police dogs in Birmingham and blocked a bridge in Selma.Arias acted with the knowledge that his pacification plan would take root in a country that abolished its army in 1948 and where a sign outside the chambers of Congress quotes the first president of the republic, José María Castro Madriz, as saying, “The sword is the enemy of freedom – we should block it from power.”The powers that pursued an armed solution to the Central American conflict did so oblivious to the historical forces at work in the region.U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Lewis Tambs (1985-1986) – who resigned after 16 months at his post when reports surfaced that he had tried to influence Costa Rican officials to allow Contra arms shipments through Costa Rica – probably didn’t know, and surely wouldn’t have cared if he did, about the 30-year rivalry between three-time Costa Rican head of state José “Pepe” Figueres and the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, deposed in 1979 by Sandinista rebels.Costa Ricans still remember the annual Christmas bombardments of their territory in the 1950s by Somoza, which the dictator engaged in as much to chastise Figueres for his constant conspiring with Somoza foes as to help aid Figueres’ political rival, Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia, exiled in Nicaragua. If, as Tambs later testified in the U.S. Congress’ Iran-Contra hearings, he was sent to Costa Rica primarily to establish a Contra “southern front,” he was sent on a fool’s errand.Despite their distaste for the Sandinistas, Costa Ricans would never have accepted a Somocista-led Contra presence.And the Iran-Contra scandal, which had the effect of focusing U.S. public attention on a Contra policy run amok in a relative policy-making backwater, proved that the U.S. people as a whole were, at the end of the day, not going to accept it either.The peace plan not only put an end to the region’s civil wars, but also laid out a framework for continued peaceful democratic development throughout the region.The hopes initially raised by the signing of the peace plan in Esquipulas, Guatemala, on Aug. 7, 1987, have been dashed in the short term by the rise of trans-regional drug gangs and continued high levels of violence and impunity in the region.But lately signs have pointed to life for the “Spirit of Esquipulas.”In Guatemala, the trial of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, and in El Salvador, renewed debate over post-war amnesty, show the stirrings of life in the will to bring the Esquipulas accords to their full fruition.If history is any guide, the great arch of the moral universe will continue to bend toward justice in Central America.last_img read more

Final presidential election results PAC beat PLN by less than 1 percent

first_imgLuis Guillermo Solís, Citizen Action Party – 30.64 percentJohnny Araya, National Liberation Party – 29.71 percentJosé María Villata, Broad Front Party – 17.24 percentOtto Guevara, Libertarian Movement Party – 11.33 percentRodolfo Piza, Social Christian Unity Party – 6.01 percent Facebook Comments L.A Sobrado: Las nóminas con mayor cantidad de votos son: PAC (30.64%) y PLN (29.71%) #Eleccionescr— TSE (@TSECostaRica) February 17, 2014 Related posts:CID-Gallup poll shows Araya might avoid presidential election runoff Costa Rica’s two top political parties agree to runoff presidential debate, with or without candidates Why Costa Rica will have a runoff election this weekend Solís wins big but bigger challenges may be ahead, say analysts Costa Rica’s Supreme Elections Tribunal released the official results of the Feb. 2 election. Citizen Action Party’s Luis Guillermo Solís eked out a victory of less than 20,000 votes over runner-up Johnny Araya, of the National Liberation Party. Solís finished with 629,866 votes, while Araya managed 610,634 votes. The abstention rate reached 31.8 percent, which is still a better turnout than the United States.But since neither party captured 40 percent of the vote, Costa Rica heads to a runoff on April 6. More analysis on the final results coming up soon.TSE Official Numbers: Top 5 Candidateslast_img read more

Following strikeending agreement public schools slowly return to normal

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:Former Education Minister Leonardo Garnier blames old system for backlog in teachers’ salaries Teachers reject pay deal; education minister says get back to work Teachers divided over resuming strike negotiations Somber mood as Solís delivers 1st televised address on teachers’ strike An Education Ministry (MEP) report released on Tuesday morning indicates that of 3,751 public schools in Costa Rica, only 613 were functioning normally on Monday, while 1,394 were partially operational and 1,744 remained closed. The report was compiled from information sent by school principals and MEP superintendents on Monday night.An agreement on Monday helped bring an end to a month-long nationwide teachers’ strike, and MEP officials on Tuesday began rescheduling classes and planning agendas, Education Vice Minister Rocío Solís said.“MEP experts are evaluating curriculum to determine what will be included on national graduation tests,” Solís added.The vice minister again asked students and teachers to go back to school. But some schools hadn’t been cleaned or used in weeks, and classrooms, bathrooms and other facilities were too dirty to hold classes.MEP’s vice minister of institutional planning, Miguel Ángel Gutierrez, said that despite low attendance numbers on Monday, officials remained upbeat, expecting attendance to return to normal on Wednesday.The ministry’s human resources department also is working on improving a payment plan for back wages and errors, and officials say they will be able to respond to future payment complaints within 72 hours after receiving them.As part of a strike-ending deal reached on Monday, a blue-ribbon commission will be formed by members of teachers’ unions, the education minister, MEP’s director of human resources and a representative of the Finance Ministry. The group will oversee salary payments and other issues during the next 12 months.last_img read more

Egypts hardline Islamist party unravels

first_img 0 Comments   Share   Associated PressCAIRO (AP) – Internal feuds are threatening to unravel the political party of Egypt’s ultraconservative Islamist Salafis, as pragmatists try to shake off the control of hardline clerics who reject any compromise in their stark, puritanical version of Islam.The fight for leadership could paralyze the Al-Nour Party, which rocketed out of nowhere to become Egypt’s second most powerful political force, behind the Muslim Brotherhood. Together, the Brotherhood and Al-Nour embodied the rise of Islamists to prominence after last year’s fall of Hosni Mubarak. The second camp put forward a rival candidate for party leader, Mustafa Khalifa, to run in internal elections. But Abdel-Ghafour then suspended voting, accusing his rivals of forgery to pack party positions with their loyalists.Now the dispute has been thrown to the state’s Political Parties Committee, which says it will rule Sunday on who is the party’s legitimate leader. It could also suspend the party over the internal fighting.The feud is the latest embarrassment tarnishing Al-Nour’s image the past year. One of its lawmakers was kicked out of parliament for lying about getting nose job surgery, claiming he had been beaten up by political rivals. Another lawmaker was caught fondling a woman on his lap in a parked car at night and was sentenced to a year in prison for public indecency.The impact of the feud on its public support has yet to be tested. If Al-Nour breaks up, the Muslim Brotherhood could benefit as some religious conservatives turn to it as a political vehicle. A longtime Brotherhood leader, Mohammed Morsi, is Egypt’s president. Other Salafis could turn to more radical extremist groups, including former jihadist groups that have now formed political parties. Sponsored Stories But another result is that it is less cohesive than the Brotherhood, clumsier with politics and more vulnerable to splits.During this year’s presidential campaign, many young Salafis defied the party by backing the candidacy of Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail, a firebrand cleric who mixed Salafi and revolutionary ideas but who was not welcomed by Al-Nour’s clerics. In the end, Abu-Ismail had to drop out of the race.The party was further split over which of the two main Islamist candidates to back _ Morsi of the Brotherhood or the more liberal Abdel-Moneim Aboul Fotouh, who defected from the Brotherhood. Al-Nour backed Aboul Fotouh out of fear of Brotherhood domination. The elders of the Salafi Call, however, shunned him because of his moderate views and close ties with secularists.Though both are Islamist movements, opposition to the Brotherhood runs deep among many Salafis, who fear the more organized group will overwhelm them and who say the Brotherhood is too willing to compromise in pursuit of an Islamic state.Sheik Borhami frequently lashes out at the Brotherhood, warning in one sermon, “If they get empowered, they will curb Salafism, no doubt.” He went so far as to meet secretly with Morsi’s opponent in the run-off presidential election, Ahmed Shafiq, who was Mubarak’s last prime minister _ embarrassing Al-Nour when word of their talks leaked. They also reject democracy as a heresy, since it would supplant God’s law with man’s rulings.Nevertheless, after Mubarak’s fall in February 2011, the movement’s main institution of clerics, the Alexandria-based “Salafi Call,” backed the creation of Al-Nour to run in parliament elections on the religious principle that “what is necessary permits what is prohibited.” The party’s showing was stunning, winning a quarter of the seats, second only to the Brotherhood’s 50 percent of the legislature _ a testimony to the popular networks Salafi clerics set up under Mubarak’s rule. Parliament was disbanded by a court ruling this year because of faults in the election law.Now the party is in a bitter feud over leadership.The first camp is led by the party’s founder and chief Emad Abdel-Ghafour, who advocates separating between the party and the Salafi Call to give the party ability to maneuver away from clerics’ edicts.The second camp is tightly connected to a heavyweight Salafi cleric, Yasser Borhami, and opposes separation. Several prominent party figures are in this camp, including former spokesman Nader Bakar, who was removed from his post by Abdel-Ghafour. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 5 ways to recognize low testosterone It also underlines the key dilemma in the project of political Islam _ what to do when the maneuverings of democratic politics collide with demands for strict purity of religious ideology, particularly the unbending, black-and-white doctrine of the Salafis. Infighting among the Salafis could discredit their aims of radical Islamization of Egypt in the eyes of some Egyptians who saw the movement as pious and uncorrupt, calling for strict adherence to the Quran and the ways of the Prophet Muhammad.“The party is exploding from inside,” Mohammed Habib, who was once a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood, said of Al-Nour. “In the street, it has lost its credibility. People see clerics who they used to see as men of God engaging in earthy disputes. They used to trust them. This will have a negative impact not only on Al-Nour or Salafis but on all Islamists in politics.”Salafis are among the most hardcore conservatives in Egypt, with a stricter vision of Islam than the Brotherhood.Salafi men are known for their long beards, with the mustache shaved off _ a style they say was worn by Muhammad _ while the women wear the “niqab,” an enveloping black robe and veil that leaves only the eyes visible. They advocate strict segregation of the sexes and an unbendingly literal interpretation of the Quran, saying society should mirror the way the prophet ruled the early Muslims in the 7th Century. They say they want to turn Egypt into a pure Islamic society, implementing strict Shariah law. The public display of divisions and bitter exchanges in the press hurt a movement that presents itself as having clear-cut, divinely dictated answers to the country’s problems.“This is the end of the religious utopia,” wrote Khalil Anani, scholar in Islamic movements in the Al-Hayat newspaper. “Mixing … between political and religious activity is a ticking bomb inside the Islamic currents.”Kamal Habib, an Islamist thinker, said the image of the clerics “has been harmed.”“Clerics should leave politics and let the party work independently from them,” he told The Associated Press.The Al-Nour Party’s pragmatists don’t necessarily hold more moderate views than its pro-cleric camp. Instead, the dispute centers more on issues of personal power and how much a party trying to navigate Egypt’s new political system must adhere to the clerics’ strict lines. The party has already repeatedly wrestled with that question.Unlike the 86-year-old Brotherhood, which is highly disciplined and deeply versed in politics, the Salafi movement is more of an umbrella for various schools that differ in their views, spiritual leaders and methods. For nearly three decades, the Salafi school shunned politics, spreading its message through mosques, charity, and TV stations. It was not targeted in security crackdowns under Mubarak since it posed no political challenge to the ruling regime, unlike the Brotherhood and violent jihadist groups, some of which were offshoots of the Salafis. Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Another top Salafi cleric Abu Ishaq al-Hawani denounced the Brotherhood’s outreach to Christians, who Salafis often say are trying to wreck Egypt’s Islamic character. “This is total loss,” he said of past meetings between Brotherhood leaders and the Coptic Christian pope.In contrast, their rival in the Al-Nour Party, Abdel-Ghafour, has become one of Morsi’s advisers in a sign of cooperation with the Brotherhood.“It’s politics killing even the most rigid and stubborn ideology,” wrote Ashraf el-Sherif, a scholar in Islamist movement studies in an article in April, predicting the collapse of Al-Nour.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Parents, stop beating yourself up Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

TurkeySyria clash showcases dangers of spillover

first_imgWith Thursday’s parliament decision, Turkish leaders expanded their options for dealing with Syria but avoided a full-scale military confrontation, said Ayham Kamel, a Middle East analyst at the Eurasia Group in London.Some of Syria’s other neighbors, particularly Lebanon, have also shown restraint, in part to try to avoid inflaming sectarian divisions within their own countries that mirror the divides in the Syrian civil war.Many of those rising up against Assad are Sunni Muslims, while Syria’s ruling elite is dominated by Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Syria’s Christian and Kurdish minorities have largely been trying to stay out of the line of fire.Both Iraq and Lebanon have an ethnic and religious mix similar to Syria’s, and in Lebanon, sectarian tensions have been rising. Since May, repeated street clashes between pro- and anti-Assad groups in Lebanon’s majority Sunni port city of Tripoli have killed more than two dozen people.In a further complication, the pro-Assad Hezbollah militia, which is believed to be sending fighters to help the embattled Syrian regime, is a major political and military force in Lebanon.However, Lebanon’s major players have largely resisted the temptation to exploit the Syrian conflict for political gains at home, several analysts said. Comments   Share   Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project However, Iranian advisers are helping direct the Syrian regime’s battles, the defected Syrian prime minister said last month. This would put them just a frontier away from Israel at a time of increasingly ominous threats between Israel and Iran over Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.Nerguizian, the Washington analyst, said Syrian conflict has set in motion sweeping changes that will transform the region.“At this rate, it is not going to look anything like the pattern we’ve seen in the past few decades, since the end of World War II,” he said.___Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, Barbara Surk in Beirut and Lauren E. Bohn in Jerusalem contributed reporting.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The fighting spirit of Syria’s Sunnis, meanwhile, has helped embolden a Sunni insurgency in Iraq that had been withering for years. If Assad is defeated and Syria joins a Sunni coalition in the region, Iraq might find itself seeking even closer ties with Iran.Turkey’s outspoken support for the Syrian rebels _ a policy it adopted in August 2011, after trying to reason with Assad first _ has coincided with a sharp rise in increasingly brazen attacks by the separatist Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, in southeastern Turkey.In August, Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Bulent Arinc, said a number of those attacks were apparently carried out by Kurdish gunmen who infiltrated from Iran, a staunch Assad ally. A Turkish pro-government newspaper, Sabah, has claimed that Iranian intelligence has stopped providing Turkey with information about Kurdish rebel infiltrations.Assad has also used Syria’s Kurds as pawns against Turkey.After Turkey repeatedly raised the idea of internationally enforced safe zones in Syria in the spring, Syrian regime forces withdrew from several Kurdish towns on the border with Turkey over the summer. That granted them unprecedented autonomy, but also set them up as a buffer zone. Assad was telling Turkey: “‘You can intervene (in Syria), but you’re going to have to fight the PKK on the way to get there’,” said Soner Cagaptay, a Turkey expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies.Picking a side in Syria also seems to have ended a decade-long effort by majority Sunni Turkey to increase its regional influence by getting along with all players, including Iran.In Jordan, the biggest problem for now seems to be the strain put on the country’s meager resources by some 200,000 Syrian refugees who have flooded across the border.Israel has tried to stay on the sidelines, but last month sent a clear message that it’s prepared for all scenarios. In a snap military drill, it airlifted thousands of soldiers to the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau Israel captured from Syria in 1967, and carried out live fire drills there.Israel could face a serious threat to its security if Syrian territory near the Golan becomes a chaotic no-man’s land, said Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser in Israel. Last week, Syrian mortar shells fell near a Golan apple orchard, but Israel said it did not believe it was an intentional hit. Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, which ended in 1990, is still deeply etched in the collective memory, and there seems to be little appetite for another round.“I don’t think anyone in Lebanon, among the major political leaders, the major political factions, wants to support a sectarian war (at home),” said Michael Young, the opinion editor for Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper.But Lebanon’s fragile coalition government may not be able to withstand a protracted conflict next door, and any miscalculation could ignite violence.“What the crisis is doing is eroding the resilience of the state,” said Emile Hokayam of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank. “Small security incidents may escalate just because of bad management.”For Iraq’s Shiite-led government, the Syrian civil war has made the job of balancing the demands of Baghdad’s main patrons, the U.S. and Iran, even more difficult.Last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki came under pressure from Washington to ban Iranian planes suspected of carrying weapons to Syria from using Iraqi airspace. Sticking to official neutrality on Syria, al-Maliki said he’d try, but that Iraq could at best perform spot checks. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breachescenter_img Top Stories Associated PressBEIRUT (AP) – Retaliatory Turkish artillery strikes deep into Syria have showed the speed with which the bloody civil war can entangle its neighbors and destabilize an already volatile region.Beyond the cross-border flare-up, the 18-month battle to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad has already deepened sectarian rifts in Lebanon and Iraq, raised tensions along the long quiet frontier with Israel and emboldened Kurdish separatists in Turkey. “There is not a single country bordering Syria that we can honestly say they are not facing a realistic threat to internal stability and national security,” said Aram Nerguizian of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.From the start, Syria’s conflict burst over its borders. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians sought refuge across the country’s borders with Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. Stray bullets and mortar rounds, sometimes with deadly result, have struck Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.But in a dramatic escalation on Thursday, Turkey fired back for the first time after an errant Syrian mortar shell killed five people in a Turkish border town Wednesday. Turkey shelled Syrian military targets, and Turkey’s parliament approved future retaliation under such circumstances.Turkey said it did not amount to a declaration of war, and Syria offered a rare apology _ a sign that both want to defuse tensions.Assad’s foes, including Turkey, have been unwilling to intervene directly in Syria, and the Damascus regime has tried to make sure it stays that way, avoiding major provocations that could inadvertently trigger foreign intervention. Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Sponsored Stories The vital role family plays in societylast_img read more

US envoy urges North Korea to scrap nuke test plan

first_imgAssociated PressTOKYO (AP) – A U.S. envoy said Monday that North Korea is playing a dangerous game with the international community by threatening a nuclear test and urged the communist nation to scrap its plan.Glyn Davies, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy, urged Pyongyang to return to its international obligations in abandoning its nuclear programs.“We find North Korea that seems bent on playing a game of risk. This is very dangerous,” he told reporters after meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Shinsuke Sugiyama, in Tokyo to discuss the anticipated nuclear test. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 4 must play golf courses in Arizona China also expressed alarm about a nuclear test.“China is highly concerned about the relevant developments. China is opposed to any acts that might escalate tension or undermine the denuclearization of the peninsula. We hope the relevant sides can remain calm and restrained and earnestly maintain the peace and stability of Northeast Asia,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily briefing in Beijing. Hong repeated China’s appeal for dialogue.He made a side-swiped criticism of China’s neighbor and ally over its continued funding for defense programs despite a languishing economy, urging it to “develop its economy and improve people’s living conditions.”Last week, the UN Security Council condemned North Korea’s Dec. 12 rocket launch as a violation of a ban against nuclear and missile activity. The council, including China, punished Pyongyang with more sanctions and ordered the regime to refrain from a nuclear test, or face “significant action.”North Korea rejected the resolution, claiming its right to launch a satellite as part of a peaceful civilian space program. It warned that it would keep developing rockets and testing nuclear devices to counter what it sees as U.S. hostility. Top Stories __Associated Press writer Charles Hutzler contributed to this report from Beijing.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Davies was in Japan following similar talks with South Korean officials in Seoul over the weekend.North Korea’s top governing body warned last Thursday the regime would conduct another nuclear test. It said its long-range rockets are designed to carry not only satellites but also warheads and are capable of striking the U.S.On Sunday, North Korea said leader Kim Jong Un had ordered top security and foreign affairs officials to take “substantial and high-profile important state measures.” The move fueled speculation that North Korea is going ahead with plans to explode a nuclear device in defiance of the United Nations.The United States has urged North Korea to return to its obligations under a September 2005 joint statement and abandon its nuclear programs in exchange for aid and a pledge that Washington wouldn’t seek the regime’s fall.Davies said he was not optimistic, but warned North Korea of the consequences of its actions.“If they go in the direction of testing a nuclear device, they are going to set back the prospect of any diplomatic process going forward. So, that kind of a provocative approach to dealing with the outside world will not serve their interests ultimately,” Davies said. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologistlast_img read more

Brazils new oil revenue law goes into effect

first_imgSAO PAULO (AP) – A new oil law that gives a greater share of royalty revenues from Brazil’s vast oil fields to non-producing states went into effect Friday and producing states filed appeals against it with the Supreme Court.The law was published in the official gazette after President Dilma Rousseff signed it Thursday.The new law shares oil royalties, from existing and future drilling and production concessions, more evenly among all of Brazil’s 27 states instead of favoring top oil producers such as Rio de Janeiro, Espirito Santo and Sao Paulo states. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Top Stories center_img Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments   Share   The three state governments said on their websites they filed their appeals Friday. All three contend the legislation is unconstitutional because it breaches existing production contracts.Officials in Rio de Janeiro, the largest producing state, have said the law will deprive Rio of $1.7 billion in 2013 alone, endangering preparations for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.Rio state Gov. Sergio Cabral said the law would bankrupt the state and many of its municipal governments, 87 percent of which depend on oil-generated revenues.The Espirito Santo governor, Renato Casagrande, has said his state stands to lose more than 10 billion reals ($5 billion) over the next seven years.Congress approved the law late last year.The law lowers the percentage of petroleum royalties shared among producing states from 26.25 percent to 20 percent. Rousseff vetoed that provision, but Congress overrode the veto last week.Non-producing states will see their share increase from 7 percent to 21 percent, while the central government’s share will drop from 30 percent to 20 percent.The rest of money goes to municipal governments in producing states.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

Exrebel fighters become officers in Nepals army

first_imgKATMANDU, Nepal (AP) – Seventy former communist rebels graduated from Nepal’s military academy on Monday and became officers in the national army they once fought.The 66 men and four women wore Nepal army uniforms and were given the rank of lieutenant by the head of the country’s interim government, Khilraj Regmi, at a ceremony at the academy just outside Katmandu.Many of the 70 will eventually receive higher ranks after they complete further training. 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Maoist rebels fought against government troops from 1996 until 2006, when a peace agreement was signed. Thousands of former rebels wanted to join the national army but many gave up because of delays in the peace process.Yam Bahadur Adhikari, a former rebel who graduated Monday, said they will have no problems working with the people they once fought.“I hold no grudge against them. I believe there will be no problems for us to work together. We are now part of the same army,” Adhikari said.About 13,000 people are believed to have died in the decade-long conflict.After the peace agreement was signed, thousands of former rebels spent years in U.N.-monitored camps because politicians were unable to agree on their future. They finally were handed over to the national army for training last year.“This successfully ends the process of integrating our combatants into the national army and marks an important part of the peace process. They are no longer combatants but officers of the Nepal army who will serve the nation,” said Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a senior leader of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the former rebels.An additional 1,352 former rebels will also serve in the national army in lower ranks once they complete basic training. Sponsored Stories Men’s health affects baby’s health too Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 0 Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

65magnitude quake strikes off Guatemalas coast

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement GUATEMALA CITY (AP) – A 6.5-magnitude earthquake shook Guatemala’s Pacific coastline on Friday evening, causing some adobe homes to collapse in a town near the epicenter. There were no immediate reports of injuries.The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter was 6 kilometers (3 miles) south of the small town of Pajapita, near the border with Mexico, and 168 kilometers west of Guatemala City. It had a depth of 67 kilometers (41 miles). (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice Guatemala’s fire department issued a statement saying some poorly-built homes were destroyed in the town of Patzicia, located between the epicenter and the capital city. The Central American nation’s natural disaster agency said that at least three uninhabited homes collapsed, and two highways were blocked by landslides.The quake was felt strongly in the capital of Guatemala City, and caused blackouts in some areas, but authorities did not immediately report any damage there.“People living in Guatemala City’s tall buildings were panicked,” said Eddy Sanchez, director of Guatemala’s National Institute of Seismology.People ran outside their homes and some motorists stopped their cars in the capital. An aftershock of a lower magnitude further frightened capital-dwellers.The temblor was also felt in neighboring Mexico and El Salvador, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage in those countries.Friday’s temblor was one of the strongest in Guatemala since a 7.4-magnitude earthquake last November killed 44 people in the country’s west. That quake was the strongest in 36 years and left thousands of people homeless and without electricity or water. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

Teen survivor tells of panic during deadly migrant rescue

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement NICOLOSI, Sicily (AP) — Calloused and stained, Baboucar Lowe’s hands tell the story of a difficult life, one that nearly ended at 17 when the rubber dinghy he was on deflated within sight of a rescue ship, drowning dozens of migrants trying to reach Europe.They also bear the sign of survival: A number drawn on his dark skin marks him as one of 91 people pulled to safety aboard a Maltese freighter as a crew member captured the panicked rescue on video. Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Many of the vessels that set out for the Italian coast overloaded with people fleeing war and poverty are rickety at best, if not outright unseaworthy. Baboucar said he believed his boat was stable, but that didn’t stop it from deflating 25 miles off the Libyan coast.It would likely have sunk had the freighter not arrived.“I called my mom in the morning. I told her I’m in Italy now,” Baboucar said. “She was happy.”___Associated Press writers Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal, and Cara Anna at the United Nations contributed to this report.___Follow Frank Jordans on Twitter at © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Speaking to the Associated Press a day after arriving in Italy, Baboucar recounted the moment when more than 100 people aboard the deflating dinghy tried to clamber up ropes onto the ship and dozens were swallowed up by the sea.“They tried to get up to the big boat but they could not do it,” he said of Sunday’s tragedy. “Some people, they could not swim.”According to Baboucar, the dinghy left Libya with 137 people on board. Only 91 were rescued and five bodies were recovered. The other 41, including the captain, presumably drowned.Baboucar couldn’t swim, but he stayed in the dinghy when sailors lowered ropes to stop the rubber boat from drifting away.Perhaps this caution saved his life. As others rushed forward, some were crushed and others fell into the sea, desperately trying to reach life vests and rings that had been thrown from the rescue ship.“Some people rose but not me. I waited my turn,” he said. “It was very hard. I saw people were dying.”When he finally made it onto the cargo ship Zeran, dozens were missing, all of them teenage boys like him who had left West Africa in the hope of making it to a better life in Europe. Sponsored Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice Baboucar Lowe, a 17-year-old migrant from Gambia touches his head during an interview with the Associated Press, in Nicolosi, Sicily, southern Italy, Wednesday, May 6, 2015. Baboucar nearly lost his life when the dinghy he was on deflated within sight of a rescue ship. He recounted the moment when more than 100 people aboard the deflating dinghy tried to climb aboard lines thrown by the Maltese freighter Zeran and dozens fell into the sea, drowning. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)n Their plight has spurred the European Union, and now the U.N. Security Council, to respond: A draft resolution expected to be circulated in the coming days would authorize an EU mission to seize suspected migrant boats on the high seas, in Libyan territorial waters and along its coasts, a council diplomat said in New York.The draft, expected to be passed before a May 18 meeting of EU foreign ministers, still must be worked on to address the plight of migrants like Baboucar, who are arriving in Italy in record numbers as warm weather and calm seas encourage the crossings.The teen’s fingers speak of work at an early age, his nails still stained with the paint he sprayed on cars in his native Gambia and later in Libya, where he earned $500 to buy a spot on a smuggler’s boat.Baboucar said he left home in search of work to support his mother, who is still in their African homeland and had feared for his safety since his arrival more than a year ago in Libya, a common transit point for Africans trying to cross the Mediterranean.In Libya, he worked for eight months to save up for his passage, the whole time trying to avoid thieves preying on the migrants.“Libya was very hard. Sometimes you will work and go out, they take your money,” he said. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img read more

Obama attends congressional baseball game before trade vote

first_img Quick workouts for men Obama arrived early in the game, with his party leading 2-1. He chatted up Democrats, including House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, before greeting the Republican players. Pelosi and other members of the House Democratic leadership were not in uniform.Fans in the stands behind the Democratic dugout chanted “Four More Years, Four More Years” while spectators seated on the Republican side chanted “TPA, TPA” — a reference to the Trade Promotion Authority that Obama is seeking from Congress.A critical House vote set for Friday is expected to be close and dramatic, as many House Democrats oppose the legislation. The Senate has already passed the trade promotion bill.Among the lawmakers wearing baseball uniforms were Republican presidential candidate and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona.Obama wore slacks and a dress shirt and brought two dozen bottles of White House-brewed beer for the winning team.The Congressional Baseball Game was established in 1909 and over the years has evolved into a fundraiser benefiting several District of Columbia charities.___Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility WASHINGTON (AP) — Forget the peanuts and Cracker Jack.President Barack Obama apparently held out hope that complimentary White House beer would help a House vote on a major trade bill go down as smoothly as an ice cold one.Not known to particularly enjoy hobnobbing with anyone, let alone members of Congress, Obama nonetheless made a last-minute call Thursday night and headed to Nationals Park to spend some time schmoozing with lawmakers who suited up for the annual Congressional Baseball Game between Democrats and Republicans. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Comments   Share   4 must play golf courses in Arizona Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving soberlast_img read more

Top Iraq Shiite cleric calls for protection of army families

first_img Quick workouts for men 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Sponsored Stories Top Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home 5 ways to recognize low testosterone “It is not logical or acceptable that the fighters, soldiers or volunteers who are sacrificing themselves for the sake of Iraq leave their loved ones and families under the protection of the security forces, and then those people become easy prey for Daesh,” said al-Sistani’s spokesman Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalaie, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.“The government is strongly urged to implement a firm policy and strictly punish those elements proved to be involved in such criminal activities,” the spokesman added, quoting al-Sistani.The reclusive cleric’s appeal comes amid mounting pressure on the government to catch and prosecute those responsible for last week’s massive bombing in eastern Diyala province that killed 115 people as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan was coming to an end. Many women and children were among the victims in the predominantly Shiite district of Khan Bani Saad.The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for that attack. The Sunni militant group regularly targets Shiite civilians, military checkpoints and government installations as it seeks to destabilize the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility ___Associated Press writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report from Amman, Jordan.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s top Shiite cleric on Friday called on the government in Baghdad to do more to protect the families of Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State group, saying they are an “easy prey” for extremists bent on revenge attacks.In his weekly sermon, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani also said authorities should implement tough policies to catch and punish those who attack innocent civilians. 0 Comments   Share   last_img read more

White House Notebook Third term Obama says no thanks

first_imgThe former South African foreign minister and anti-apartheid activist said she hoped the AU wouldn’t have to wait another 50 years for a U.S. president to visit again.But Obama wasn’t the only politician waxing verbose; Zuma’s introduction to Obama’s speech ran more than 25 minutes before she turned over the podium.___An American company and an Ethiopian utility used the occasion of Obama’s visit to announce a deal on renewable energy.Under the power purchase agreement, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. committed to buying the first 500 megawatts from a plant that U.S.-linked Corbetti Geothermal has been developing in Ethiopia. The Corbetti Geothermal Project is expected to consume 4 billion dollars and will generate 1,000 MW of electricity.Geothermal power plants are built by drilling deep into the ground, not unlike drilling for oil or gas. But instead of burning fossil fuels, geothermal plants capture steam, converting heat from the earth into power. They emit a fraction of the heat-trapping greenhouse gases that conventional coal plants emit.The project falls under the umbrella of Obama’s Power Africa initiative, which Obama launched in 2013 to try to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. While in Africa, Obama said the U.S. would continue supporting Ethiopia’s green energy endeavor. Top Stories U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he arrives to deliver a speech to the African Union, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On the final day of his African trip, Obama is focusing on economic opportunities and African security. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Comments   Share   “We’ve got to get that done,” Obama said before getting aboard his own ride for the flight back to Washington.Ethiopian Airlines is the first airline in Africa operating the Dreamliner. The White House says the airline has been buying Boeing planes since 1960 and now has a fleet of more than 70.___A leading African politician put Obama on notice as she introduced him at the African Union: “Although we welcome you as the president of the United States of America, we also claim you as our own.”Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who chairs the African Union Commission, said Africans are proud to be part of the “beautiful tapestry of humanity” in the U.S. She cited their contributions to history, literature, music, sciences, arts and sports.“Today, there is no America without Africa,” she said.Just before Obama’s speech — the first by a sitting U.S. president to the AU — Zuma had a chance to meet face to face with Obama. As reporters were allowed briefly into the meeting, Obama said he had warned Zuma that his speech later in the day might run a little long.That’s fine, she joked. Africa has waited 50 years for this moment. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories “When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife,” Obama said, citing Burundi as a particular example. “This is often just a first step down a perilous path.”___Obama’s go-to catchphrase in Ethiopia and Kenya has been that “Africa is on the move.” He could also say the continent is taking flight.Just before boarding Air Force One to go home, Obama stopped to examine “Africa First,” the inaugural Dreamliner aircraft that U.S.-based Boeing Co. is delivering to Ethiopian Airlines. The aircraft also known as the 787 is valued at up to $1.3 billion.Obama was joined on the tarmac by the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, as well as the country’s prime minister. With bright green umbrellas shielding visitors from the rain, Obama inspected the aircraft — white, with thin red lettering.Obama lamented to reporters traveling with him that big business opportunities for Boeing and other U.S. companies are at risk because Congress hasn’t reauthorized the Export-Import Bank, a U.S. federal agency that guarantees loans to foreign companies buying American products. The Senate voted late Monday to put the bank’s renewal into a highway bill heading for passage, but the House remains opposed to re-upping the bank, leaving its prospects in question. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home ___Associated Press writers Nancy Benac and Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Patients with chronic pain give advice How men can have a healthy 2019 Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall “I actually think I’m a pretty good president,” Obama said. “I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t!”That’s just fine with the president. Obama said he’s looking forward to leaving behind the trappings of office, including his presidential security detail, and having more flexibility to do things like travel to Africa after he leaves the White House. He said although he’s still relatively young, he knows a new president with new insights will be good for the U.S.“The point is, I don’t understand why people want to stay so long,” Obama said with a sly grin. “Especially when they’ve got a lot of money.”He compared one of his personal heroes, former South African President Nelson Mandela, to America’s first president, George Washington, noting that both were willing to leave office and transfer power peacefully to their successors.In Rwanda, lawmakers are considering removing presidential term limits from the country’s constitution in a process that could see President Paul Kagame extend his rule beyond two terms. Burundi also currently faces political unrest over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in elections set for July 21. ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Could President Barack Obama win a third term in office? He’s convinced that he could, but would really rather not.Obama used his own history of electoral success to rib African leaders who overstay their welcomes by refusing to leave office after their terms expire. In his speech Tuesday at the African Union headquarters, he conceded unfamiliarity with that concept because as a second-term U.S. president, he’s constitutionally barred from running again.last_img read more

PATA announces 2010 Grand and Gold Award winners

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2010 PATA Gold Awards, sponsored by the Macau Government Tourist Office. This year the awards recognise the achievements of 24-separate organisations and individuals. Therefore the 2010, you will see 24 PATA Grand and Gold Awards presented, with multiple awards going to Hong Kong Tourism Board, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, and Tourism Authority of Thailand. The awards ceremony takes place on September 17th during PATA Travel Mart 2010 at the Venetian Macao~Resort~Hotel, Macau SAR. PATA Grand Awards are presented to outstanding entries in the four principal categories: Marketing, Education and Training, Environment, and Heritage. This year, the Grand Awards go to Tourism New Zealand in the marketing category; Banyan Tree Spa Academy for education and training; AlamKulKul Boutique Resort, Bali for environment, and Ministry of Tourism, Government of India in the heritage category. The Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) has generously sponsored the PATA Gold Awards for the past 15 years. Jo?o Manuel Costa Antunes, director, MGTO said, “Our congratulations to all the winners for their outstanding achievements, which are also excellent examples to encourage the industry to pursue excellence, innovation and advancement. We look forward to welcoming the winners as well as travel trade stakeholders, to the PATA Travel Mart 2010 in Macau this September.”PATA Grand Awards 2010 Education and TrainingBanyan Tree Spa AcademyBanyan Tree SpaWhen the Banyan Tree Spa Academy in Phuket was opened in 2001, it was a world-first for a resort. It developed a fully trained, talented therapist base that helped to enter new markets and grow the chain from one Banyan Tree Spa in 1994 to more than 61 Banyan Tree and Angsana Spas today. The Therapist Training Programme at Banyan Tree Spa Academy was developed and implemented to train new recruits, and encompasses all areas of spa therapy. This includes knowledge of the human anatomy and important pressure points, modern and traditional massage techniques, variation of body weight for different techniques, knowledge of skin epidermis and facial applications, properties of different herbs and spices, preparation of spa ingredients, setting up of treatment rooms and spa pavilions, and standard greeting procedures. To date, the Spa Academy has trained over 1,000 therapists for all the Banyan Tree Spas and Angsana Spas globally. The special emphasis on Banyan Tree Spa’s service concept to empower trainees to deliver the Banyan Tree Spa experience with consistency, finesse and sensitivity has enabled it to garner over 100-awards and accolades globally, making the Banyan Tree Spa one of the most renowned spa brands around the world.EnvironmentJantung Hijau, Green HeartAlamKulKul Boutique Resort Bali, IndonesiaJantung Hijau or Green Heart is an environmental awareness programme first introduced to AlamKulKul Boutique Resort employees in early 2000. Every staff member was asked to bring a tree along to the Family Day. Prizes were awarded for the most exotic species of native greenery. Every tree was later planted in the hotel grounds with each staff members’ name attached to it. The resort has repeatedly been involved in ‘green’ projects including beach clean-ups and working with the Balinese community to adopt local sites of cultural interest. The entire property no longer uses precious ground water reserves. The greatest achievement is continued effort to re-green the island of Bali through mass plantings. The Resort has planted more than 25,000-trees around Bali over the past 10-years. This endeavour in fact preceded Indonesia’s commitment during the Copenhagen Environmental Summit, to plant a billion trees in an effort to counteract the effects of global warming.Heritage Rural Tourism Project – Case Study of Hodka VillageMinistry of Tourism, Government of India The Rural Tourism Project was conceptualised in 2003 by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at 36-rural sites in 20 states. This has now been extended to another 133 villages. This winning entry for the PATA Gold Award 2010 is specifically for the Shaam-e-Sarhad resort of the rural tourism project at Hodka village in the Kachchh district of Gujarat. Sustainable visitor strategies based on art, craft, cultural, natural heritage and environment care, can hence target larger tourism yields, which could contribute significantly to conservation, and the rural sector in particular. The Project facilitates interactive experiences of rural life for the paying visitor, who is the direct income route for the local communities. The project’s key action routes include the formation of rural self help groups, tourism marketing and governance structures, backed by convergent support to sustainable village infrastructure, waste management and environment car. The focus is thereby on sustainable capacity building with local stakeholder participation, wherein women and the rural poor are target beneficiaries.MarketingYour Big BreakTourism New Zealand, New ZealandAn innovative short film competition gave amateur film-makers the opportunity to create a film that would become part of the internationally acclaimed ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ marketing campaign. With support from Academy Award winning producer Barrie Osborne and legendary New Zealand director Peter Jackson, tapped into American consumers’ love of movies and celebrity culture. The campaign used social media, online marketing and PR, to raise awareness of New Zealand as a holiday destination in the USA.PATA Gold Awards 2010 1. Marketing – Primary Government Destination Eco Tourism Marketing CampaignMinistry of Tourism, Government of India2. Marketing – Secondary Government DestinationHong Kong Food and Wine Year Destination CampaignHong Kong Tourism Board3. Marketing – HospitalityOutrigger Laguna Phuket Resort and Villas Opening CampaignOutrigger Hotels and Resorts, Asia4. Marketing – Industry Let your Mind TravelKuoni Travel India, India5. Ecotourism ProjectABS-CBN Foundation-Bantay KalikasanIwahig River Community- Based Ecotourism Project, Philippines6. Corporate Environmental ProgrammePromote Ecology and Conservation on LantauNgong Ping 360 Limited, Hong Kong SAR7. Environmental Education ProgrammeQantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable TourismQantas Airways Ltd, Australia8. HeritageThe Launch of Sofitel Legend Metropole HanoiSofitel Luxury Hotels Asia Pacific, Thailand9. CultureBaan Mae KampongTourism Authority of Thailand10. Education and TrainingChild Protection WorkshopKuoni Destination Management, India 11. Marketing Media – Consumer Travel BrochureRevamping Consumer Travel Brochures of Sri Lanka TourismSri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Sri Lanka12. Marketing Media – Travel Advertisement Broadcast MediaThailand Talks to the WorldTourism Authority of Thailand13. Marketing Media – Travel Advertisement Print MediaMahatma Gandhi CreativeMinistry of Tourism, Government of India14. Marketing Media – Travel PosterLIVE LOVE Campaign Poster and Quick Screen SeriesHong Kong Tourism Board15. Marketing Media – Promotional Travel Video A Trip to the Heart-Warming Country of KoreaKorea Tourism Organization16. Marketing Media – Public Relations CampaignHow to Launch a Large Hotel in a Challenged Market and New Brand ibisAccor Asia Pacific and ibis Singapore on Bencoolen17. Marketing Media – Web The Best Tourism Website in IndiaKerala Tourism, India18. Travel Journalism – Destination ArticleFeasts of Hong KongChristian KerberTravel +Leisure Magazine, September 2009, USA19. Travel Journalism – Travel PhotographWhale Shark, Ningaloo ReefRolex Awards/Jurgen FreundQatar Airways In-Flight magazine Oryx, December 2009Agency Fish, United Kingdom20. Travel Journalism – Travel GuidebookKayak PhilippinesPrimer Group of Companies and Philippines Department of Tourism  Source = PATAlast_img read more

Dubai targets Luxperience market

first_imgDubai Tourism’s Julie King [left] exhibiting at Luxperience 2012 Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Showcasing the various tourism experiences in Dubai is still top of the list for the region’s tourism bureau in Australia, according to the Group’s director Julie King.Speaking to e-Travel Blackboard at the inaugural Luxperience showcase in Sydney, Ms King said showcasing the brand and its products has been high on the plate “for some time” and the new three-day exhibition had given the tourism bureau a new platform to showcase the destination to a global and local audience.“We target different consumer segments and promote different experiences to those segments,” Ms King said. “If it’s adventure tourism we promote our balloon rides and Four by Four Wheel Driving in the dessert.”Dubai Tourism’s director added that as part of its promotions, the tourism bureau had worked on “suggested itineraries” for various segments. “What we’re doing is giving people at Luxperience those itineraries to position Dubai to these segments,” she explained.“It’s given us an opportunity to talk about what we’ve done… it is getting out there slowly but there’s still lots to go.”In a positive move for tourism to Dubai, earlier this month Qantas announced a new partnership agreement with UAE carrier, Emirates.Launching in 2013, Ms King said expects the arrangement between the two airlines to play a “positive” role for Dubai.“We see potential and a substantial increase in tourism to Dubai in the coming year with the new partnership.” last_img read more

Focus on highend tourism says Ecotourism Australia

first_imgAttracting high-value visitors in order to develop a more profitable tourism industry should be Australia’s focus, rather than just pursuing growth in visitor numbers, says Ecotourism Australia.The organisation’s chief executive, Kym Cheatham, said it was time to reinvent Australian Tourism as the current model “is not working”.“The endless pursuit of growth in numbers is a hollow ambition, with mass tourism bringing profitless volume,” Ms Cheatham said ahead of the Global Eco Asia Pacific ecotourism conference to be held in Cairns this October.Ms Cheatham said an alternative rests in high quality experiences founded on financially viable, environmentally sustainable and culturally responsible tourism products.Backing this “alternative course”, Ms Cheatham pointed to the growing ecotourism industry across the Asia Pacific region, specifically in countries like Malaysia, Cambodia, Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia.“Australia is one of the most desired landscapes in the world, with unique native flora and fauna and an indigenous culture that resonates with visitors from around the globe,” said Ms Cheatham.Using South Africa as an example of a country that doesn’t apologise for the cost involved in high quality safaris, Ms Cheatham said Australia should be focussing on its unrivalled experiences for which people will be willing to pay. Experiential, quality travel experience will bring a more profitable tourism industry, Ms Cheatham asserts. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.Wlast_img read more

Wristbands to replace paper tickets at Walt Disney World Resort

first_imgGuests of Walt Disney World Resort will be able to use the MagicBand to make FastPass+ reservations, access photographs taken around the park and attach a credit card using the revamped My Disney Experience website. But according to Mr Staggs the MagicBand does not store personal information and purchases still require a PIN code. The MagicBands are set to launch in Walt Disney World later in 2013 before hittingDisney parks around the world.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G. A. Forget paper tickets, room keys or even credit cards, guests of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando will soon be able to access park attractions, hotel rooms and even make purchases – all at the tap of a wristband. The MagicBand, which will be given to all guests of Disney Resort hotels (who will have the option to use a card rather than the wristband) and will be available for purchase for park guests, “gives you all the entitlements of the park, without having carry ten to 15 different pieces of paper,” Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Tom Staggs told All Things Digital at their D11 conference this week. ….. New MagicBand set to unlock Disney magic in Orlando. Image: All Things Digitallast_img read more