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Pakistan army convicts 5 for links with extremists

first_imgFour army majors received sentences ranging from six months to three years.The officers have the right to appeal.Hizb-ut-Tahrir is an Islamist organization that wants to reestablish the caliphate, the administrative structure that once governed a portion section of the Muslim world. It insists it does not advocate violence in achieving its goals.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Top Stories Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likecenter_img Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family ISLAMABAD (AP) – Pakistan’s army says a military court has convicted five officers of links with a banned extremist group.The army said in a statement Friday that the court sentenced Brigadier Ali Khan to five years in prison.A brigadier is the equivalent of a one-star general.The army did not give details of the case. The officers were rounded up in May 2011 for their links with the Hizb-ut-Tahrir group. 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debateslast_img read more

Correction BritainRussian Oligarchs

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement How do cataracts affect your vision? LONDON (AP) – In a Sept. 27 story about a legal dispute between Russian oligarchs, The Associated Press erroneously spelled the last name of the oligarch who brought the suit. It is Michael Cherney, not Cherny. The Associated Press also erroneously reported the name of a London public relations firm that announced the settlement. It is Portland, not Portman. A corrected version of the story is below:Russian metal magnates settle London lawsuit Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments   Share          Russian metal magnates settle multibillion-dollar UK lawsuitLONDON (AP) _ Representatives of Oleg Deripaska say the Russian metals magnate has settled a multibillion-dollar lawsuit brought by fellow oligarch Michael Cherney over the latter’s claim to a stake in Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer.London public relations firm Portland said Thursday that the case “has been terminated” and said neither party would be making any further comment. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.The agreement comes as the suit was due to go to court in London, a mammoth trial which promised to shed a harsh light on Russia’s corruption-tainted metals industry.Cherney, who lives in Israel, claimed Deripaska had cheated him out of billions of dollars’ worth of shares in Rusal, which is controlled by Deripaska. Deripaska denied the claim.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectcenter_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Check your body, save your life Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Top Stories last_img read more

World heritage status for The Alamo Japan industrial sites

first_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home In another decision, Japan received world heritage status for a collection of almost two dozen sites that illustrate the country’s industrial revolution during the 19th century.The unanimous vote in favor of Japan’s bid was approved only after Tokyo and Seoul resolved a spat over whether to acknowledge the sites’ history of wartime forced labor, particularly that of Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island.The fortress island near Nagasaki was key to Japan’s rapid development during the 1868-1912 era of the Meiji Emperor, who sought to catch up with Western colonial powers.Until recently, Seoul had objected to the listing unless the role of Korean prisoners forced to work there during World War II was formally recognized.“Japan is prepared to take measures that allow an understanding that there were a large number of Koreans and others who were brought against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions in the 1940s at some of the sites,” the Japanese delegation said in a statement after the decision.More than a dozen other sites have also been granted world heritage status in recent days. They include:— The Burgundy vineyards south of Dijon, France, which have been shaped by centuries of wine making. Along with surrounding villages and the historic center of Dijon, the site represents an industry in existence since at least the 12th century. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center BONN, Germany (AP) — The United States has succeeded in its bid to “Remember the Alamo,” after the U.N. cultural body approved its status as a world heritage site Sunday.The Alamo was one of five Spanish Roman Catholic sites, known as the San Antonio Missions, to receive the coveted label likely to boost tourism.UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee approved the Missions’ status along with more than a dozen others from around the globe, including the Gunkanjima industrial site off Japan that South Korea had long objected to. — Scotland’s Forth Bridge, completed in 1890 to carry trains over the Forth River and still in use today.— The ancient Greek and Roman settlements at Ephesus in Turkey, once the site of the Temple of Artemis — one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World.’ A Christian chapel from the 5th century has also become a major pilgrimage site.— The Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System on the Central Mexican Plateau. Dating back to the 16th century, the canal system was conceived by a Franciscan friar and combines Roman hydraulics and traditional Mesoamerican construction techniques.— Uruguay’s Fray Bentos industrial site set up in the 19th century to process and export meat to Europe.— The Blue and John Crow Mountains, Jamaica’s first world heritage site. Located on the southeast of the island, they became a refuge for indigenous people and escaped African slaves during colonial times and are considered a biodiversity hotspot.___Frank Jordans reported from Berlin.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   — Champagne, the sparkling wine distinctive of the eponymous French region, represented in the vineyards, the cellars where the bottled wine ferments a second time, and the storied sales houses.— The Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens of Turkey, which goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times.— The Par Force Hunting Landscape northeast of Copenhagen, a sculpted woodland where Danish kings hunted with hounds until the 18th century.— A Lutheran church settlement known as Christiansfeld, also in Denmark. Founded in 1773 in the region of South Jutland, the town was built around a central church square to represent the democratic ideal of this Protestant denomination.— Tusi sites in southwest China, named after the tribal chiefs who ruled there from the 13th to the early 20th century.— The archaeological mounds and Ardeshir’s palace along the Shavur River in Iran. Known as Susa, the site was continuously settled from the 5th century B.C. until the 13th century.— The Maymand valley region of central Iran inhabited by semi-nomadic people who move between mountain pastures and caves depending on the season.— Singapore’s Botanical Gardens, which were created in 1859 and have since become a world-class conservation and research site, as well as a major tourist attraction for the city state. Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Susan Snow, an archaeologist for San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, said the site in Texas represents “the very essence of the great melting pot of the United States.”“These Missions are a living example of the interchange of cultures bringing together the indigenous, Spanish, Mexican, and other influences that form South Texas today,” Snow said in a statement following the decision in Bonn, Germany.The Missions were built in the 18th century in and around what is now the city of San Antonio to convert indigenous people to Catholicism and make them Spanish subjects.The best known of the missions, The Alamo, was the site of the famous 1836 battle when an outnumbered band of Texas settlers staged a courageous stand before Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his Mexican forces seized the mission. During the Battle of San Jacinto weeks later, then-victorious Texas soldiers shouted, “Remember the Alamo!”U.S. officials hope the designation will boost tourism to San Antonio, already one of the city’s top five industry and responsible for one in eight jobs.The Missions were the only sites in the United States proposed for world heritage status this year. Other American icons already on the list include the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon. Top holiday drink recipes In this June 29, 2015 photo, tourists visit a part of Hashima Island, commonly known as Gunkanjima, which means “Battleship Island,” off Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture, southern Japan. The island is one of 23 old industrial facilities seeking UNESCO’s recognition as world heritage “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution” meant to illustrate Japan’s rapid transformation from a feudal farming society into an industrial power at the end of the 19th century. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is expected to approve the proposal during a meeting being held in Bonn, Germany, through July 9. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) — The Baekje region of South Korea comprising archaeological sites dating from the late 5th to late 7th century.— Mongolia’s sacred Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain where Central Asian steppe meets the Siberian taiga. Tradition holds that it is the site of Genghis Khan’s birth and burial.— Sicilian churches and palaces dating back to the island’s 12th-century Norman rule, which incorporated Arab and Byzantine culture.— Christian pilgrimage sites in modern Jordan where Jesus is said to have been baptized, along with Roman and Byzantine remains in the area.— Prehistoric rock art showing human and animal figures in Saudi Arabia’s Hail Region.— Hamburg’s Speicherstadt district, a vast complex of red-brick warehouses built between 1883 and 1927 in Germany’s biggest port.— The Rjukan-Notodden industrial site in Norway, built in the early 20th century to produce fertilizer to meet the booming demand from agriculture.— The Necropolis of Beth She’arim, a series of catacombs built from the 2nd century B.C. onward as a Jewish burial place. Located southeast of Haifa, Israel, the site features inscriptions in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywalllast_img read more

Hotels spruce up in downturn

first_imgRenovation and refurbishment: London’s luxury Savoy has done it, Sheraton and Westin brands will probably do it soon and top hotels across the world are doing it right now. While some may question the sensibility of undertaking the often massive capital outlay at such a time as this, when the world is still recovering from the far-reaching global financial crisis, some industry experts think it’s a good idea, the NY Times reported.“Research from every recession since the Great Depression demonstrates brands that increased investment on their customer experience and marketing activity during the recession gained market share both during the downturn and during the recovery,” InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) global brand management senior vice president Kevin Kowalski said. In 2007 IHG announced plans for widespread improvements of its Holiday Inn brands and went ahead with these despite the fading of the global economy. Costing an average of US$150,000 to $250,000 for each hotel, the improvements include upgrades to lobbies, guest rooms and bathrooms and a new employee training program. According to Mr Kowalski the Holiday Inn upgrades increased revenue per available room by 3 to 7 percent, on average, compared with hotels that had not been upgraded. Sheraton and Westin hotels are also set to make changes, each introducing two new guest room designs, a move which will be good “when business travelers come back”, Goldman Sachs lodging analyst Steven Kent told the newspaper.A new Conrad in New York’s financial district, the Bel-Air in Los Angeles, the Savoy in London and the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane have all undergone massive renovations.However NYU Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management divisional dean Bjorn Hanson has said that capital spending on hotel improvements in the United States is likely to fall after reaching a record high before the global financial crisis.Mr Hanson said guests will soon see evidence of a lack of investment, the decline in hotels’ overall upkeep “is starting to become evident to guests,” he said, “from scuffed wall coverings in hallways to torn drapes and faded, worn and stained carpeting and upholstery.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.Alast_img read more

Strikes are back on union tells Qantas

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Travellers flying Qantas tomorrow may receive a courtesy call advising of delays and cancellations to their travel plans after the latest round of negotiations with its workers’ union failed late yesterday. The Australian flag carrier has advised the public that up to 10,100 passengers will be affected by the 66 flights that will be delayed by up to 70 minutes on Friday 28 October, as the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) and its 3,800 members walk off the job for one hour at various times nationwide.  The move comes only days after the union said it was delighted to hear Qantas confirm that it had no intention of off-shoring any jobs and called off strikes for Wednesday and Thursday this week. Qantas Group executive operations Lyell Strambi said the latest deal offered to the union would keep the carrier’s workers as the highest paid in the aviation industry and stressed that strikes would not impact the “outcome of negotiations”.“We have tried extremely hard to do a deal and we made the union an offer that was well in excess of the recent agreement that the TWU reached with Virgin,” Mr Strambi explained.“We tried to compromise on a number of matters however we just cannot agree to all of their demand.“In particular, demands that would make Qantas less efficient and compromise out ability to compete effectively.”Smoothing over union concerns, Mr Strambi rejected claims that the carrier was looking to offshore TWU jobs or suggestions that the airline would not be “employing any more employees in Qantas or our subsidiary… services, that we have not negotiated in good faith”.“The reality is that TWU members – baggage handlers, ground handlers and catering staff employer are in Australia,” he stressed.“These roles will always be based in Australia.”Meanwhile recently removed ‘go-slow’ policies and overtime bans ushered in by the carrier’s Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) have compelled the carrier to ground another one of its Boeing 767 due to maintenance concerns.However, the carrier stressed that only seven aircraft remain grounded, returning one of its grounded 737s into operation in exchange for the latest aircraft from its 767 fleet. Despite engineers urged to return to their normal pace and do everything in their power to get the seven aircraft off the ground, Qantas Group executive Operations Lyell Strambi explained that the backlog of maintenance over the past months keeps the planes out of the sky.“Since August, the union has held more than 40 strikes including full day strikes at every heavy maintenance base around Australia, has overtime bans in place and has a strict work to rule in place,” Mr Strambi said.“As the backlog of maintenance is being cleared and the reliability of our fleet improved we will work towards resuming our normal flying schedule.”last_img read more

Etihad expands codeshare with Hong Kong Airlines

first_imgEtihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has expanded its codeshare agreement with Hong Kong Airlines, an internationally-acclaimed Skytrax 4-star airline, to provide travellers with enhanced connections between Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.Under the expanded codeshare agreement, Hong Kong Airlines will place its ‘HX’ flight code on Etihad Airways’ flights between Hong Kong, the world’s third most important financial centre, and Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the UAE.Etihad Airways will commence a daily frequency on the route from 15 June 2015, offering 3,620 seats per week with an Airbus A330-200 aircraft.In addition, Hong Kong Airlines will codeshare on Etihad Airways’ new service between Abu Dhabi and Madrid, the capital and largest city in Spain.The route, which was launched in March 2015, is operated four times per week and offers 2,096 seats per week with a two class Airbus A330-200.Kevin Knight, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer at Etihad Airways, said: “Our codeshare agreement with Hong Kong Airlines was initiated last year with a primary focus on enhanced connectivity between Asia and the Middle East.“The expanded codeshare will result in further commercial success for both airlines, and more importantly unleash the true benefits of the partnership by offering business and leisure travellers enhanced connections and a more frequent service between Asia, the Middle East and Europe.”Li Dianchun, Commercial Director of Hong Kong Airlines, said: “We are glad to strengthen the partnership with Etihad Airways through a codeshare expansion.“There is an increasingly strong demand in Asia for travel to the GCC region, Europe, Africa and South America.“The enhanced connectivity will enable our passengers to enjoy a wider range of choices while experiencing the world-class services and products offered by both airlines.”Etihad Airways and Hong Kong Airlines initiated their a codeshare agreement in December 2014, allowing Etihad Airways to place its ‘EY’ code on Hong Kong Airlines’ flights between Hong Kong and Bangkok, and on flights between Hong Kong and Okinawa, while Hong Kong Airlines placed its ‘HX’ code on Etihad Airways’ service between Abu Dhabi and Bangkok.Etihad Airways will increase the frequency of its Bangkok service from three to four flights a day from 1 July 2015, with Hong Kong Airlines also codesharing on the additional flight.Source = Etihad Airwayslast_img read more

Expedia group data confirms dramatic uplift in Chinese travellers to A

first_imgExpedia group data confirms dramatic uplift in Chinese travellers to AustraliaNew figures released by the Expedia group, one of the world’s leading travel companies, reveal that the number of Chinese travellers visiting Australia rose by more than 80% in 2015 when compared to 2014, with significant growth in mobile demand.Drew Bowering, Director of Australia, Market Management, Expedia Lodging Partner Services, said the continued, sustained growth in the number of Chinese international travellers presents huge opportunities for Australian hoteliers.“Our 2015 group data shows mobile demand by Chinese travellers into Australia surged by more than 150% compared with the previous year.   In addition, the number of mobile app transactions made by Chinese travellers into Australia surged 3-fold over the past year. We therefore urge our partners to ensure mobile is key to their distribution strategy. Through Expedia Partner Central, Australian hoteliers can create specific mobile deals targeted to the tech-savvy Chinese travellers,” he said.China represents one of the fastest-growing international inbound markets for Australia. They are a highly valuable market for Australian hoteliers for the following reasons:Chinese travellers tend to pay higher prices for their stays – the Average Daily Room rate from a Chinese traveller is approximately 15% more than domestic travellers,Nearly 3 in 4 Chinese tourists stayed in 4 or 5-star luxury hotels, compared with under 70% of domestic travellers,Their booking window is nearly 1.6 times longer than that of the average domestic tourist (31.5 days vs 19.8 days),Their average length of stay is slightly longer at 2.1 days compared with 1.8 days of domestic travellers.To help hoteliers capture more of the Chinese traveller market, Expedia offers the following tips:Think mobileAccording to the Chinese International Travel Monitor 2015, produced by the Expedia group travel brand Hotels.com, half of all Chinese travellers used a smartphone to plan or book travel in 2015. Through Expedia Partner Central, Australian hoteliers can create Members Only Deals to highlight their offers to target more Chinese travellers. Hotels who participate in Members Only Deals will be featured to Expedia mobile app users and email subscribers, giving added exposure and greater visibility.Know your audienceChinese tourists often make particular requests in order to be comfortable. Hoteliers who offer such value-adds are encouraged to highlight these offerings on the hotel content page through Expedia Partner Central. By doing so, these hotels gain an edge in providing the best experience to Chinese travellers.Plan strategic promotionsChinese travellers are always on the go, but periods around Chinese public holidays tend to be particularly busy. Expedia group data has shown demand in Australia have consistently peaked over the past three years during the Chinese New Year period.Aside from Chinese New Year, hoteliers can maximise demand by providing promotions and deals around certain busy periods, such as the Dragon Boat Festival (9-11 June) and the Mid-Autumn Festival (15-17 September). Early-bird and last-minute promotions are both likely to drive increased demand around these periods. ExpediaSource = Expedialast_img read more

Winner of One Million Wyndham Rewards Points announced

first_imgWinner of One Million Wyndham Rewards Points announcedWinner of One Million Wyndham Rewards Points announcedA Malaysian national from Kuala Lumpur, Mr Melvin Paul, has been made a millionaire in Wyndham Rewards points, thanks to the world’s most generous hotel loyalty program.The 33-year old participated in Wyndham Hotel Group’s social media campaign, which ran from 1 September to 30 October 2016. The campaign offered a host of attractive prizes such as daily hotel stays and a grand prize of one million Wyndham Rewards points, equivalent to up to 66 free hotel room nights, which can be redeemed at nearly 8,000 hotels located across the globe.One million Wyndham Rewards points is valued at USD$100,000, based on the amount a guest would typically have to spend. Every USD$100 spent equates to 1,000 Wyndham Rewards points.Mr Paul commented, “When I saw the contest, I was initially interested in winning the daily hotel stays. I felt that it would be impossible to win the one million Wyndham Rewards points as there were already so many creative entries.”It took the business development manager from a logistics firm, a week to complete his winning video.“I had to draft the script, visualise the flow, plan the layout, choose the music and sound effects and ensure that the timing was spot on. There were a few sleepless nights but thankfully my wife was very supportive,” said Mr Paul. He plans to spend part of his Wyndham Rewards points on a family trip to a wintery destination in Europe or South Korea, where the hospitality giant boasts an impressive network of 352 and 20 hotels respectively.Mr Tony Gothard, Senior Director of Revenue, Sales and Marketing for Wyndham Hotel Group South East Asia and the Pacific Rim said, “I am pleased with the success of the campaign.  We achieved an 860% increase in Facebook followers and almost 2,000 entries.”“One of the objectives of our social media campaign was to raise awareness of our diverse collection of hotel brands and its locations as we continue to accelerate our growth across Asia Pacific. The simple mechanics of the contest gave our Facebook followers a fun way to engage with us while reinforcing our position as the world’s most generous, simple and attainable hotel rewards program,” said Mr Gothard.Wyndham Rewards is a simple-to-use loyalty program with a generous points earning structure that can be used to redeem free nights, along with hundreds of other rewards options including travel expenses and gift cards.The award-winning program relaunched in 2015 and earned accolades from the media worldwide, having recently been declared as number one on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hotel Rewards Program for 2016-2017 and presented with the Best Travel / Hospitality Loyalty Program – Bronze Award at the Asia Pacific Loyalty and Engagement Awards 2016.Source = Wyndham Hotel Grouplast_img read more

Hilton launches self digital checkin room selection in India

first_imgHilton Worldwide has announced that its pioneering digital check-in and room selection technology is now available in more than 4,300 hotels spanning 12 brands worldwide, including 14 hotels operating in India. Through their Hilton HHonors accounts, guests will be able to check-in and choose their exact room from digital floor plans or lists, on their desktop, tablet and mobile devices.Geraldine Calpin, Senior Vice President and  Global Head of Digital, Hilton Worldwide said, “Digital check-in and room selection rewards our HHonors members for their loyalty and puts our guests in the driving seat by giving them unprecedented choice and control across their entire stay. Never before have guests been able to check-in, select their rooms from a digital floor plan, and customise their rooms to be ready for arrival. We are truly revolutionising the industry, and this is just the tip of the iceberg for digital at Hilton Worldwide.”Daniel Welk, Vice President, Operations India, Hilton Worldwide said, “As a business, we have always prided ourselves on leading the industry. We were the first to put televisions in hotel rooms and now we are the first to let you choose your room, right down to the exact room number. With a 95-year history of delivering industry-transforming offerings, HiltonWorldwide will continue to enrich the guest experience on a major scale across our brands and regions.”last_img read more

Tourist arrivals witness a growth as Korea launches KSmile friendliness campaign

first_imgAs the Korean tourism industry bounces backs from the impact of the MERS outbreak, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has started promoting friendly interactions with inbound tourists as part of its new ‘K-Smile Friendliness Campaign’.It is the most recent of several initiatives, which the KTO has launched to improve the nation’s service sector for international visitors before the Visit Korea Year 2016-2018 campaign leading up to the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics.A few months ago, the inbound travel market in Korea mirrored the fears caused by MERS for the international community, with inbound arrivals for June were at -41% over that of the same period last year, while in July the figure stood at -53%. After a month of no more MERS cases confirmed and an all-clear by the national government, tourist arrivals increased rapidly. August arrivals stood at an improved -25%, followed by a dramatic improvement of -3.1% in September. October has always been Korea’s busiest month for tourism and MICE arrivals, with arrivals expected to surpass that of October last year.The new K-Smile campaign, launched in October, has been undertaken to maintain positive momentum for the rest of 2015 and the years ahead. This includes the upcoming 2016-2018 Visit Korea Campaign and the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics, both of which are expected to attract a large influx of overseas visitors.Up to 150 incentive events inbound in Korea would also be officially supported by the K-Smile campaign. Support offered includes airport welcome events, souvenirs, custom banners, and more. In addition, promotional materials and other items are being made available, especially for MICE visitors during the campaign.last_img read more

Added incentives to promote growth in the hotel industry

first_imgCredit terms for hotels have been de-linked by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), from those applied to commercial real estate projects for developers to avail credit at reduced interest rates.New hotels rated at two stars and above will be granted tax incentives by the government in an effort to drive the growth of accommodation supply in the country. Two, three and four-star hotels, operating in UNESCO World Heritage site areas, except those in Mumbai and Delhi, will get a five-year tax break.The Ministry of Finance has also extended incentives to hotel developments located in smaller cities that are three-star rated or more and those with a project cost of more than two billion rupees ($29.9 million).The government will also allow a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of up to 100% for overseas companies doing business in India.last_img read more

Uttarakhand to constitute EcoTourism Corporation with 51 government stake

first_imgThe tourism department of Uttarakhand will now get writers to pen untold stories relating to dak bungalows in forests. These stories, when published and publicised, will help promote eco-tourism in villages situated close to forest areas.Several other initiatives are being undertaken to boost eco-tourism in the state. STS Lecha, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, said, “The government order to form an Eco-Tourism Development Corporation has already been issued. The Chief Minister at a meeting held with forest officials instructed them to activate this corporation, whereby the homestays scheme would be made more effective to strengthen the concept of eco-tourism as well as heritage tourism in the forest belts of the state.”Uttarakhand Eco-Tourism Corporation Ltd will come with an initial fund of five crore rupees and will have 51% stake of the state government and the rest of the private firm. The Board of Directors of the company will have a minimum of three and maximum of seven Directors. While the Chairman will be an Additional Chief Secretary rank officer or Principal Secretary (environment), the responsibility of the Managing Director of the company will be with an Indian Forest Service Officer.Dinesh Agarwal, Forest Minister, said, “We are trying to boost eco-tourism, link it with village tourism and develop small circuits near popular destinations to attract tourists to newer places in the state.”Moreover, the eco-tourism wing of the Forest Department is making all efforts to promote its activity, ensuring involvement of maximum number of people. It has identified 32 eco-tourist circuits, which will be one of its kinds. These include 16 sites each in Garhwal and Kumaon.last_img read more

African countries to invest in cultural experiences and ecotourism to boost tourism

first_imgAfrica which is home to some attractive tourist destinations ranging from Pyramids, Victoria Falls and wildlife safaris draws around five percent of world’s tourists, according to experts present at an African tourism conference hosted by Airbnb in Cape Town recently.Commenting on unlocking continent’s huge potential in tourism, experts said eco-tourism, cultural experiences and domestic travel can be brought into the picture. “When you look at the success stories, it’s those countries who’ve embraced trends,” said the African Tourism Association’s (ATA) Managing Director, Naledi Khabo who spoke at the summit. “When you look at some countries which have made sustainability a focal point, like Tanzania, or Rwanda, they’re very attractive for certain travellers.”The experts also confirmed that the eco-friendly safaris and carbon-neutral lodging draw increasing numbers of tourists from Europe and North America. According to Tanzania Invest, the number of travellers visiting Tanzania has been doubled since 2006 to more than 1 million, contributing 14% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)Khabo confirmed other success stories included South Africa, which is promoting the diversification of their products beyond the safari. In recent years, South Africa has seen a boom of experience-based tours including rural travel, wine tours and game lodges.  “We tapped into the development of tourism in rural and township spaces,” she said. “We are now starting to see cultural inclusivity. Those areas have been untapped.”“Every new business, destination, route or visitor creates an opportunity for local people,” said the World Bank in a statement. Many African destinations have earned foreign visitors’ hard currency, Kenya has invested heavily in promoting “staycations”. “We have managed to develop the domestic market. 21% of Airbnb occupancy is the domestic market. It’s benefiting us,” said Kenya’s Tourism Minister at the conference.last_img read more

Veros Housing Market in Full Recovery Mode After Hitting Bottom

first_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Prices Home Values Housing Affordability Investors Jobs Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers Unemployment 2013-01-03 Krista Franks Brock The national housing market has hit bottom and is now “”in full recovery mode,”” according to “”Veros Real Estate Solutions,””:http://www.veros.com/newsroom/press-releases/veroforecast-indicates-real-estate-market-has-hit-bottom,-is-in-full-recovery-mode.aspx a provider of risk management and valuation services. [IMAGE]The company forecasts a 1.2 percent rise in prices in the nation’s top 100 markets over the 12 months ending in December 2013. While there remains–as always–some variance across markets, Veros predicts prices in two-thirds of all markets across the nation will either remain flat or rise over the next 12 months. This is the first time since the recession that Veros has forecast gains (or at least no declines) for this large a proportion of markets.Markets expected to depreciate over the next 12 months will likely experience declines of 2 to 3 percent, which, according to Veros, “”is a typical level of depreciation of the poorest performing markets even during healthy market periods.”” “”Overall, the recovery in the housing market is forecast to continue to accelerate,”” said Eric Fox, VP of statistical and economic modeling at Veros.While predicting the recovery to be “”lengthy and gradual,”” Fox insists “”we are finally ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├ï┼ôover the hump’ at a national level.””[COLUMN_BREAK]For the first time since 2006, Veros expects double-digit appreciation in one market: Phoenix is set to experience a 10 percent increase in prices over the next 12 months. Phoenix’s “”low supply and high demand, in conjunction with the Phoenix area’s lower unemployment rate of 6.8 percent, compared to the national unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, sets the stage for it to be 2013’s top performing market,”” Fox said. The market expected to experience the second-highest appreciation rate is Midland, Texas, where values will rise about 9 percent, according to Veros. Midland’s economy is benefiting from its oil sector and has an unemployment rate of 3.4 percent, well below the national level. Following Phoenix and Midland, the next three anticipated top-performing markets for this year are Miami (8 percent), Tampa (6-7 percent), and Denver (6-7 percent). These markets underwent significant price depreciation during the housing crisis and are still highly affordable. Additionally, Miami is benefiting from population growth and international buyers, while energy and technology startups are flocking to Denver, strengthening its economy. The five markets expected to do the worst over the next year are all located in the Northeast, where unemployment remains high. Veros forecasts Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, New York, to be the worst-performing market with a decline of 3.1 percent. The New York market will be followed by Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Pennsylvania-New Jersey (-2.6 percent); Norwich-New London, Connecticut (-2.5 percent); York-Hanover, Pennsylvania (-2.5 percent); and Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey (-2 percent). Veros observes and analyzes real estate in 975 counties, 335 metro areas, and 13,586 ZIP codes for its quarterly reports. Veros: Housing Market in ‘Full Recovery Mode’ After Hitting Bottom January 3, 2013 371 Views center_img Share in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicinglast_img read more

House Subcommittee Investigates Misconduct at HUD

first_img February 5, 2015 502 Views House Subcommittee Investigates Misconduct at HUD Share Investigators from HUD’s Office of the Inspector General (HUD OIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on Wednesday that some senior officials at HUD violated federal law and obstructed investigators’ efforts to uncover wrongdoing.Some of the individuals identified were presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed, according to testimony. HUD Inspector General David Montoya testified to the subcommittee that some senior officials were guilty of “outright misconduct.”Witnesses offered testimony to the subcommittee that senior HUD employees violated federal employment law practices as well as HUD policies by hiring Debra Gross, a former registered lobbyist, for a position with HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing. Witnesses said Gross misused her position with HUD to further an agenda favorable to her former employer’s public housing groups and also by hiring two HUD employees without proper vetting.The HUD Inspector General found that Gross obstructed with the investigation of these actions by “providing false statements to investigators” and denying key HUD officials access to pre-employment email communications. Witnesses testified that the two employees were “less than forthcoming” regarding their hiring and both had stated they were never interviewed prior to being hired.In a separate case, HUD’s Inspector General testified that then Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones and four other senior HUD officials violated HUD’s administrative policies by engaging in a grass-roots lobbying campaign. Witnesses said Jones and the four others re-transmitted a July 21, 2013 email urging 1,000 recipients to lobby specified Senators regarding a pending appropriations bill. In addition to violating HUD policy, GAO found dissemination of this email by Jones and the others to be in violation of federal anti-lobbying laws.Testimony before the subcommittee also revealed that certain HUD officials attempted to obstruct the investigation in that case by attempting to improperly influence witnesses, threatening investigators from HUD OIG they would be “charged as a result of their inappropriate actions,” and withholding information regarding their involvement with the dissemination of the email.”[T]hat case illustrated what can happen when senior government officials veer from the course of ethical decision-making, skirt the edges, and act in a manner that is not in the government’s best interest,” Montoya told the subcommittee.Montoya testified that a HUD OIG report issued last year regarding the anti-lobbying investigation detailed attempts by HUD officials to cover up their illegal activity, but he said HUD took “no formal disciplinary action” in response to the report of the investigation.”At the time, I found those revelations troubling, but I had hoped we could chalk it up to a few bad apples at HUD,” said U.S. Representative Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin), chairman of the subcommittee. “But we’re back here today to discuss what happened with those so called ‘bad apples’ because of other, completely unrelated allegations that have surfaced.”center_img House Financial Services Committee HUD OIG 2015-02-05 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, Newslast_img read more

ExistingHome Sales Turnovers Fall Short of Normal Rates

first_img The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) recently released a chart that highlights the existing-home sales in a historical context. The graph reveals that the rate of housing turnovers, while improving, are not up to ‘normal’ rates.The MBA graph shows that housing markets are recovering, but are still weak.  The turnover rate rests slightly above 7 percent currently in the second quarter, an amount that falls short of a ‘normal’ rate of 7.5 percent, but still surpasses the recent low of 4.8 percent from the third quarter of 2010.The housing turnover rate is calculated by dividing existing home sales by estimates of the owner-occupied housing stock. MBA also uses existing-home sales data from April and May to estimate the turnover rate for the second quarter of 2015 and sales data include single family, cooperative and condominium housing.“Home sales are being supported by improving labor markets, but mobility remains relatively constrained by the remaining ten percent of households with negative equity, by lingering caution on the part of existing owners who have hesitated to become move-up buyers, and by still tight credit conditions,” MBA said.This week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released a report finding that first-time buyers are flooding the housing market, driving the total number of existing-home sales for May up. May home sales experienced a growth spurt following April’s decline and are now at their highest pace since November 2009. All major regions experienced sales increases in May, led by the Northeast. This month’s increase was the largest increase since late 2009.According to NAR, total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, increased by 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million in May from an upwardly revised 5.09 million in April. Sales have now seen increased year-over-year for eight consecutive months and are 9.2 percent (4.90 million) above a year ago.”Solid sales gains were seen throughout the country in May as more homeowners listed their home for sale and therefore provided greater choices for buyers,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “However, overall supply still remains tight, homes are selling fast and price growth in many markets continues to teeter at or near double-digit appreciation. Without solid gains in new home construction, prices will likely stay elevated—even with higher mortgage rates above 4 percent.” June 26, 2015 513 Views Existing-Home Sales Turnovers Fall Short of ‘Normal’ Rates Existing-Home Sales Mortgage Bankers Association Turnovers 2015-06-26 Staff Writer Source:  NAR, Census, MBA in Daily Dose, News, Origination, Uncategorized Sharelast_img read more

Will Higher Home Loan Purchases Continue into 2017

first_img Home Purchase Loans mortgage originations 2017-01-18 Seth Welborn Will Higher Home Loan Purchases Continue into 2017? January 18, 2017 670 Views Sharecenter_img Ellie Mae’s monthly Origination Insight Report (OIR), which aggregates data from its lending platforms and networks to display general national trends in the loan servicing industry, shows a rise in the percentage of home loan purchases in December.Per the report, home loan purchases made up 54 percent of all closed loans in December, which is slightly higher than the November figure of 53 percent. The December figure is slightly higher than the year’s initial rate of 52 percent in January, but considerably lower than the high of 65 percent in June.During the same period, the 30-year rate governing all loans rose from 3.81 to 4.05 percent, which likely caused the decrease in the amount of closed loans used for refinancing purposes, which dropped to 46 percent in December from 47 percent in November.The closing rates for homes in December increased to 73.2 percent, which is a percentage point higher than November’s figure, while the refinance closing rate was 69.6 percent at December’s close.Ellie Mae expects this to be a continuing trend throughout 2017 as the 30-year rate continues its upward climb.“As rates began to increase we saw purchases tick back up in December, signaling the start of a trend we expect to continue into 2017,” said Jonathan Corr, President and CEO of Ellie Mae. “We also saw closing rates rise to the highest percentage in 2016 as homebuyers locked in rates and lenders closed loans before the conclusion of the year.”Average FICO Scores were down to 726 in December from 728 in November but still up from the average FICO score of 719 in January. FHA purchase FICO scores stayed level at 686, while the FHA refinance FICO scores saw a decrease of one point, ending up at 655 for December. Conventional purchase FICO scores were 753 in December, staying even with the past three months and consistent with the 2016 average FICO score of 753. in Daily Dose, News, Originationlast_img read more

What is the Biggest Impediment for Borrowers

first_img Borrowers Credit Score FICO GSE Homebuyers homeowners Housing Finance loans MI mortgage Mortgage Insurance Purchase Loans Refinance U.S. Mortgage Insurers USMI 2018-06-07 Radhika Ojha in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Origination What is the Biggest Impediment for Borrowers? Sharecenter_img The myth that a 20 percent down payment was a necessity to buy a home is one of the biggest impediment that keeps many borrowers from becoming homeowners according to a report by the U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI) association.As prices rise steadily, “it is understandable how 20 percent of the purchase prices can be out of reach for many families,” the report said, indicating that private mortgage insurance (MI) actually helped borrowers bridge the down payment gap to help them obtain the financing needed to purchase a home.According to the report, MI has given nearly 30 million families across the country the opportunity to purchase a home sooner over the last 60 years, with more than a million borrowers becoming homeowners or refinancing their mortgage through MI’s efforts in 2017. Of these, 56 percent were first-time homebuyers and more than 40 percent had an income below $75,000.“These homebuyers had an average FICO score of 741 and on average took out a mortgage loan for $237,961,” the report said.When it came to loans through the GSEs, the report indicated, for loans with down payments under 20 percent of the home value, MI and not the taxpayers covered the first losses in case of a default, up to a certain coverage limit. It found that the MI industry covered more than $50 billion in claims for losses and $920 billion worth of GSE mortgages that were currently outstanding had MI protection.“This report confirms what we have long known: MI is a critical piece of the U.S. housing finance system, helping Americans realize the dream of homeownership while providing important protections to taxpayers and the federal government,” said Lindsey Johnson, President of USMI. “For decades, low down payment borrowers have relied on MI to help them affordably and responsibly buy a home, and MI will continue to serve countless more prospective homebuyers in the years to come.”In terms of states, the report found that Texas, with 79,030 homeowners led the states where MI helped homeowners in 2017. Coming in second was California with 72,938 homeowners, followed by Florida (69,827); Illinois (47,866); and Michigan (41,810) where homeowners could purchase or refinance a home with MI. June 7, 2018 497 Views last_img read more

The Week Ahead Spotlight on Q3 Earnings

first_img Earnings Reports Q3 2018 The week ahead 2018-10-07 David Wharton JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo will release their Q3 earnings report on Friday, October 12, before the markets open at 8 a.m. ET.Of the three banks, JP Morgan reported the most positive news in Q2, with $ 8.3 billion in net income, up from $7 billion a year ago but down from $8.7 billion in the first quarter. The bank’s net revenue was $28.4 billion, up six percent over the year, with net interest income at $13.6 billion, up 9 percent, while net noninterest income was $14.7 billion, up 4 percent. Home lending net revenue rose 6 percent to $1.3 billion. Mortgage origination volume totaled $23.7 billion for the second quarter, compared to $20.0 billion in the first quarter and $26.2 billion in the second quarter of last year.Wells Fargo’s earnings release, in comparison, was not so positive. The bank posted $5.2 billion in earnings in the second quarter, down from $5.9 billion a year ago and up slightly from $5.1 billion in the first quarter of the year. Revenue was reported at $21.6 billion, compared to $22.2 billion a year ago. Wells Fargo’s net interest income was $12.5 billion, up 1 percent; and net noninterest income was $9.0 billion, down 8 percent.Citigroup reported earnings of $1.63 billion in Q2. The group posted a net income of 4.5 billion, up 16 percent from the year before, but trading revenues decreased 1 percent to $4.5 billion.Here’s what else is heading your way in The Week Ahead:CoreLogic Loan Performance Insights Report, Tuesday, 9 a.m. ETMBA Mortgage Applications, Wednesday, 7 a.m., ETFed Balance Sheet, Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ETInheritance Tax Issues, Thursday, 2 p.m. ET The Week Ahead: Spotlight on Q3 Earnings in Daily Dose, journal, Newscenter_img October 7, 2018 523 Views Sharelast_img read more

QA Westfalia Fruit on EU avocado markets i

first_img Q&A: Westfalia Fruit on EU avocado market’s i … You might also be interested in South Africa: Jupiter Group upgrades practices, fa … March 28 , 2019 Australian table grape season in China “outstandin …center_img “ETI recognises that in the real world of global supply chains there will be times where there is a specific problem or dispute involving one or more ETI member companies,” ETI director Peter McAllister said.“Typically, these are addressed through a mediation process with solutions agreed and implemented between concerned parties.”He pointed out that when companies join ETI, they commit to implementing its Base Code, an internationally recognised code of good labor practices and a process of continuous improvement.“We recognise that in many locations, workers do not enjoy the full rights described in ETI’s Base Code,” he said. “It’s why we work with business to motivate companies to behave ethically to the benefit of workers in their supply chains and to improve their performance over a period of time.“While our expectations are high, where possible we seek to promote engagement and reach practical collaborative solutions, rather than find fault.“But, our processes allow ETI to act if there is insufficient progress, as has happened here. Yet clearly, when such mediation fails, no-one is a winner.”Fyffes has a right of appeal and that may be exercised within a period of 28 days.  Robotic apple harvester used for commercial crop i … U.K.-based Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has terminated the membership of Ireland-based fruit company Fyffes, after a year after it suspended the company.Fyffes’ initial suspension in May 2018 followed formal complaints made by the NGO Banana Link and the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) in March 2016 over the alleged treatment of workers at Fyffes’ Suragroh farm business in Honduras.The ETI said that during its suspension, Fyffes was encouraged to develop and implement solutions to the aspects of the complaint that were upheld, namely the right of farm workers to be represented by a union of their choice.However, the decision to finally terminate membership followed the ending of a flagged 60-day period, which included a joint mission to Honduras of a high-level ex-senior executive from a corporate and a trade union representative. But ETI’s Board decided at meeting on Monday that Fyffes was still failing to resolve the substantive concerns raised.last_img read more