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TravelBrands rolls out rebrand of its wholesale brands

first_img Travelweek Group TravelBrands rolls out rebrand of its wholesale brands Posted by Tags: TravelBrands Sharecenter_img MISSISSAUGA — TravelBrands has unveiled an updated rebrand across all subsidiaries as a way to streamline its market presence.The rebrand focuses on its products and services available through Access, TravelBrands’ one-stop shop platform, and reflects the company’s vision and strategy to “reduce its brands and focus on stronger market presence while keeping the vast product lines intact”.The new branding has already begun to roll out, with a complete transition by next week.Some notable examples of the updated branding include:TravelBrands Flights, by IntairTravelBrands Cruises, by Encore CruisesTravelBrands Packages, by SunquestTravelBrands Luxury Villas, by LujureTravelBrands Dynamic Packages, by TravelGenieTravelBrands Specialty, by Exotik JourneysAccording to Frank DeMarinis, President & CEO of TravelBrands, the updated branding of its wholesale brands will ultimately assist agents in working smarter, not harder.“We believe that this updated branding will better reflect who TravelBrands is as a leading travel organization,” he said. “By unifying our branding, we are able to simplify and streamline our communications across all channels, bringing TravelBrands to the forefront with our Access platform. I am confident the Canadian travel industry will respond well to our changes.”More news:  Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJTo learn more go to Wednesday, April 11, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Disney Cruise Line to sail more ships from Galveston

first_imgDisney Cruise Line to sail more ships from Galveston << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Disney Cruise Line, Galveston, New Sailings GALVESTON — Galveston can expect to see double the number of Disney cruises sailing from the city on the Gulf of Mexico over the next five years, according to port officials.The Port of Galveston announced Thursday that Disney cruise Line will expand the numbers of trips it offers from the city to 26 cruises a year by 2023, the Galveston County Daily News reported. The agreement guarantees the company will operate out of Galveston for the next 10 years.The deal comes a month after the port announced plans to develop a new $85 million cruise terminal with Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.Disney cruises will get some of the open slots when the new terminal is completed in 2021, said Rodger Rees, the port’s director.“They wanted to be first in line to get the options for the space we have,” Rees said.Last year, Disney Cruise Line sailed 12 cruises from Galveston to destinations such as the Cayman Islands, Mexico, Jamaica and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Rees said. The company’s five-year contract with the port was set to expire this year, he said.More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at sea“As we plan to expand our fleet and introduce new experiences and entertainment aboard our ships, we couldn’t be more excited to extend our commitment with the Port of Galveston,” said Jeff Vahle, president of Disney Signature Experiences.Rees said the port’s new terminal could lead to a similar deal being made with another cruise line in the near future.“As soon as that deal was announced, it put Galveston on the map as far as the cruise lines are concerned,” Rees said. “We’ve had a lot more interest now that they’ve seen Royal is getting ready to invest a lot more money in this community.” Monday, January 21, 2019 By: The Associated Press Sharelast_img read more

Arenal Report

first_imgNuevo Arenal recently was graced with a visit from English royalty. Expat David Fountaine and his wife, Ruth, hosted his Excellency, the Earl of Eastbourne (NVQ), and Lady Vivian of Lewes, Duchess of Eastbourne. Celebrating their first visit to Costa Rica, the royal couple expressed their amazement at the environmental diversity and natural beauty of the country.Lady Vivian observed, “Those cheeky monkeys that start woofing to each other at half-four in the morning alter one’s sleeping schedule a bit. We did miss our Devonshire cream, however we found the spotted rooster dish interesting. We were advised of another local favorite oddly called chicken of the tree, but had to demur. Our Costa Rican adventure provided us with many experiences never to be found in our home country, and we anticipate with enthusiasm a return go.”To say that the grand opening of Toad Hall was an event to remember would be a large understatement. People came from miles around, some on horseback, to attend the celebration, which also marked owner Jeff Van Mills’ 50th birthday. The free, open-to-all fiesta, which included strolling mariachis, great food, unlimited sangrias and potent mojitos, attested to the profound generosity of Jeff and his wife, Lydia. They even provided bus service for revelers to ensure a safe trip home. One challenge they faced was slicing the cake for nearly 200 guests to enjoy a piece. A huge thanks to the Van Mills for a truly remarkable evening at Toad Hall.–William & Jean Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Laura Chinchillas environmental report card

first_imgWhen evaluating President Laura Chinchilla’s environmental legacy it is easy to recall high-profile blunders and successes that marked her time in office. But while shark finningbans, murdered conservationists and epic journeys to far-flung island territories made headlines during her four-year term, much of what Chinchilla will leave behind (or will fail to) lies in her administration’s less dramatic decisions.Wrapping up his term as environment minister, René Castro and a team of vice ministers presented the Environment Ministry’s (MINAE) final report on Tuesday morning.Breaking down MINAE’s responsibilities into four areas, the report highlighted the Chinchilla administration’s advancement in land and marine conservation. A more detailed report released separately noted MINAE’s shortcomings in the development of clean energy and water treatment programs.Combining the results in MINAE’s report with our own analysis, here is The Tico Times’ breakdown of Chinchilla’s environmental legacy. A superpod of spinner dolphins moves through the water before sunset off the coast of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesOcean and water conservationAfter taking office in 2010, President Chinchilla vowed that her government would have a renewed focus on the country’s ocean territory. Early in her term, Chinchilla created a marine advisory committee to map out a comprehensive conservation plan for the nation’s seas. Though Chinchilla made significant strides in ocean protection, she did little to improve the polluted rivers and ineffective water treatment programs that she inherited.Top successesCreated the Vice Ministry of Waters and Oceans: For the first time in Costa Rican history, a specific office is dedicated to improving the country’s oceans, rivers, streams, coasts and water sources.Restricted shark finning: Shortly after taking office, Chinchilla ordered the closure of private fishing docks – notorious for their use in illegal shark finning – in the central Pacific fishing hub of Puntarenas. Two years later, she signed a blanket ban on the import and export of shark fins. For her efforts, the president was named the Shark Guardian of the Year by the international shark conservation group Sharkproject. However, Chinchilla’s progress in curbing the unsustainable practice of finning has been somewhat marred by recently exposed loopholes that could undo the president’s progress.Increased protection for Isla del Coco: In one of her last acts as president, Chinchilla traveled to Costa Rica’s most distant territory to inaugurate a new radar system that will aid park rangers in cracking down on illegal fishing in the biologically crucial waters surrounding the island. During her visit, the president also signed a decree extending limited environmental protections to marine territory outside the park.Restricted tuna fishing in national waters: Last week, Chinchilla signed a decree restricting fishing by industrial tuna fleets to waters at least 60 miles off shore in an effort to protect the highly bio-productive ecosystems just off the Costa Rican coasts.Declared water a human right: Though parts of Costa Rica still suffer from a lack of clean drinking water, this new law, which has passed in a first round of debate, will pressure future administrations to improve water treatment and access.Top failuresDidn’t address issues with drinking water: Though Chinchilla inherited a broken water management system, she did little to change it. Despite more frequent droughts, the Chinchilla administration exerted little effort to explore untapped groundwater sources. The president also failed to act following a 2013 court order to resolve the issue of high-levels of arsenic in the drinking water in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.Failed to treat wastewater and address river pollution: Though the Chinchilla administration did initiate plans for a wastewater treatment plant for the greater San José metropolitan area, wastewater treatment remains horrendous in Costa Rica, with the World Health Organization estimating that as much as 96 percent of wastewater in the country goes untreated. Much of this water is released directly into rivers. It was Costa Rica’s abysmal score in wastewater treatment that led to its drop from fifth in the world in 2012 to 54th this year in Yale’s Environmental Performance Index.Retained controversial fisheries management board: One of the first recommendations of Chinchilla’s own marine advisory committee was to reform or do away with the controversial board of directors of the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca). Made up of mostly industrial fishing leaders, the Incopesca board of directors has long been viewed by conservationists as the largest hurdle to sustainable fishing reform. Chinchilla promised to modify the board before her term ended, and though a bill eliminating the board has now been introduced in the Legislative Assembly, its passage will have to wait for the next administration. The canopy in the Monteverde cloud forest. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesLand and forest conservationBy the time Chinchilla took office, Costa Rica already was home to one of the largest countrywide reforestation efforts in the world. The country is also considered an example internationally for its environmental services programs, which pay landowners for forest and water resources mantained on their land. The Chinchilla administration continued these legacies, but its actions in land and forest management were mostly unremarkable with few major successes or failures to note.Top SuccessesMoved forward on zoo closures: In 2013, MINAE announced plans to convert the country’s two highly criticized public zoos into cage-free nature parks, and either release or put into rescue centers the zoos’ animals. Though an administrative court ruled that the government is obligated to continue with the zoos’ administration for another 10 years, MINAE still owns the animals and the next administration could still release them.Launched the Waves program: In 2010 Costa Rica became one of the first countries in the world to participate in the World Bank’s Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (Waves) program. If successful, Waves would help participating country’s incorporate the value of environmental services into their GDP in order to create economic incentives to leave forests and watersheds intact.Top failuresAllowed the national parks to deteriorate: The mismanagement of resources in the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) has led to a lack of protection within the country’s famed national parks system. Hunters, miners and loggers have begun invading Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula, and other parks have been put at risk. Though Castro himself has acknowledged the problem, nothing has been done to restructure SINAC and provide park rangers with support.Failed to provide security for conservationists: During Chinchilla’s four-year term, two environmental activists were murdered (Jairo Mora 2013, Kimberly Blackwell 2011) and a host of others were threatened or harmed. Aside from holding a series of public meetings following Mora’s murder – which so far have only resulted in renaming a wildlife reserve after the slain conservationist – the Chinchilla administration did nothing to address the growing security concerns for the country’s environmental protectors. Rush hour traffic passes by the San Pedro Mall in San José. Transportation emissions are the single biggest roadblock to Costa Rica achieving carbon neutrality. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesCarbon neutralityWhen Chinchilla took over from President Óscar Arias in 2010, she inherited a 2021 carbon neutrality deadline with no roadmap to success. In 2012, the Chinchilla administration took the first step towards the goal and commissioned researchers to develop the procedures necessary to reach the goal. While her government made some progress in carbon mitigation in agriculture and the private sector, they failed to make any real advancements in the transport sector.Top successesCreated a framework to measure carbon neutrality: Chinchilla’s government was starting from zero on carbon neutrality. To facilitate the transition, MINAE created the National System of Environmental Recognition (SIREA) to certify public and private institutions for carbon neutrality. They also hired researchers to design a plan to achieve the carbon neutrality goal.Launched carbon credit bank: In an effort to provide monetary incentives for emissions reductions, Costa Rica opened the world’s first “environmental bank,” BanCO2, for the buying and selling of carbon credits. It remains to be seen if companies will elect to use the voluntary bank, but, if successful, the bank could be a key contributor to reducing the country’s emissions.Reduced carbon emissions in agriculture: With both national and international funding, the Costa Rican government under Chinchilla created plans for the creation of carbon neutral farms, known as NAMAs. Most of the farms are in the coffee and cattle sectors.Reached 81 percent of the carbon neutrality goal: Due primarily to the oxygen production by the country’s expansive forests, Costa Rica is 81 percent of the way to carbon neutrality. Though reforestation that pre-dates the Chinchilla administration did most of the legwork in reaching this point, there is still some credit to be given to the current government for their work in maintaining reforestation efforts.Top failuresDidn’t reduce transport emissions: Carbon emissions from the transport sector represent the single biggest hurdle in Costa Rica’s quest towards carbon neutrality. More than a third of Costa Rica’s vehicles are smog-spewing, 13-to-20-year-old models, according to the country’s vehicle inspection records. According to MINAE’s own plan, by 2014 at least 20 percent of the nation’s busses and taxis were supposed to switch to carbon-neutral alternatives, yet almost none have. Failed to follow self-created goals: Chinchilla’s own government created the benchmarks required to reach carbon neutrality, but Leiner Vargas, the head researcher on the carbon neutrality plan, estimates that only 10-15 percent of the first stage – which ended at the beginning of this year – is complete. Costa Rica generates the majority of its power from renewable resources like wind. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesEnergyCosta Rica produces 90 percent of its energy from renewable resources, and during the last four years MINAE has continued to seek out clean energy. As in the rest of the world, conservationists have had split opinions on clean energy exploration that creates an environmental impact to the surrounding land. Geothermic energy, wind energy and natural gas projects, while supported by some, were condemned by others.Top successes (as viewed by the Chinchilla administration)Supported geothermic energy project in Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park: Casting aside concerns from some environmentalists, Chinchilla threw her support behind a project that would set aside part of the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park for the production of geothermic energy. Now declared of national interest, the project will likely move forward. Supporters of the national park system worry that the project could damage the protected area, while proponents point to the project’s potential for sustainable energy creation.Encouraged research of hydrogen power: Led by Tico astronaut Franklin Chang and his Ad Astra Rocket Company, Costa Rica has launched three projects dedicated to developing methods for producing hydrogen power.Negotiated joint energy projects: In his 2013 visit to Costa Rica, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed interest in bilateral energy initiatives. While geothermic and hydrogen energy were the main topics of discussion, Chinchilla also expressed interest in purchasing natural gas from the U.S.Made infrastructure investments: During Chinchilla’s term, the government built four hydroelectric plants, a solar plant and a geothermic plant. Her government also installed 1,554 solar panel systems on government properties.Top failuresFailed to transfer clean energy production to the transport sector: According to data from Costa Rican Customs, there are fewer than 200 hybrid cars zipping down the country’s roads. This means that despite the overwhelming use of renewable energy in Costa Rica, transportation is still highly detrimental to the environment. Despite setting goals to the contrary, MINAE under Castro and Chinchilla failed to find a way to encourage Ticos to switch over to green vehicles.Did not stem electricity rate hikes: Unprepared for efficiency drops in hydroelectric plants due to drought, MINAE failed to prevent an increase in electricity rates due to reliance on fossil fuels.Challenges for the next administrationWhile Chinchilla’s government made some great strides in environmental conservation, it also left large gaps that will need to be filled by Luis Guillermo Solís’s administration. Many of these shortcomings are attributed to the administration itself.In an interview to be released tomorrow, incoming Environment Minister Edgar Gutiérrez discusses these challenges and others. Facebook Comments Related posts:Let the gas prices climb, but give us electric cars Sea Shepherd’s R/V Martin Sheen lands in Costa Rica for 4-month research mission Mora residents battle to stop a landfill from being built in their backyard Costa Rica launches quest to replace most single-use plastic by 2021last_img read more

Venezuela to demand mandatory visas for US citizens

first_imgCARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced Saturday he is implementing a mandatory visa system for all U.S. citizens visiting the country as a way to “control” U.S. interference.The leftist president also ordered a review and reduction of U.S. diplomatic staff in Caracas.“In order to protect our country, … I have decided to implement a system of compulsory visas for all Americans entering Venezuela,” he told supporters.In a fiery speech outside the Miraflores presidential palace, Maduro noted that the United States has a 100-member diplomatic staff in Caracas, compared to Venezuela’s 17 diplomats in Washington.Maduro cited the Vienna Convention’s principle of the equality of states concerning the size of respective diplomatic missions.Additionally, Maduro singled out several U.S. political figures as being unable to come to Venezuela because his government considered them “terrorists.”“A group of U.S. political leaders who have violated human rights in bombing” countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan “will not be able to enter Venezuela because they are terrorists,” Maduro said.Maduro cited former President George W. Bush and his Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and his Republican colleague Marco Rubio.Maduro said the visa decision was made after the capture of a U.S. pilot of Latin American origin in the western state of Tachira suspected of carrying out “covert” espionage activities. He did not provide additional details.Since Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chávez came to power in 1999, repeatedly criticizing U.S. “imperialist” policy, Washington and Caracas have been at diplomatic odds.They withdrew their ambassadors from each other’s country in 2010, and Venezuela has expelled several U.S. diplomats under Maduro.In December, the U.S. imposed sanctions on senior Venezuelan officials accused of violating the rights of protesters during anti-government demonstrations at the start of 2014.Maduro also warned that the U.S. mission must alert and receive authorization from the local government for any meeting held by U.S. diplomats in Venezuela. Facebook Comments Related posts:Venezuela gives US 15 days on embassy staff cuts Exiles in Costa Rica denounce alleged Venezuelan kidnapping plot Venezuelan voters showed ‘overwhelming desire for change,’ says John Kerry Former Colombian, Bolivian leaders warn of looming humanitarian crisis in Venezuelalast_img read more

Airport police arrest Tico with more than a kilo of cocaine

first_imgRelated posts:Mexico to purge corrupt cops in violent state Israeli tourist caught smuggling cocaine at Costa Rica airport Costa Rica’s 3-pronged strategy scores high against drug trafficking, says Coast Guard chief Costa Rica takes down more suspects in cocaine trafficking network run by Italian mafia Drug Control Police arrested a Costa Rican tourist at Juan Santamaría International Airport attempting to fly to Madrid, Spain with more than 1 kilogram of cocaine in his suitcase Monday, according to the Public Security Ministry (MSP).The 38-year-old suspect, identified by his last name, Araya, tried to smuggle 1,180 grams of cocaine in two packages hidden in his luggage. Araya, from Los Ángeles de San Rafael in Heredia, did not have any priors, according to MSP.Araya is the 16th drug smuggler nabbed at Juan Santamaría International Airport so far this year. The vast majority of the alleged smugglers were international tourists: eight from Guatemala, two from the Netherlands, and one each from Nicaragua, Mexico, Israel and Italy.Araya was the second Costa Rican arrested with drugs at the airport this year.Airport authorities have seized a total of 10.9 kilograms of cocaine so far in 2015, along with €85,415 and $102,333 in cash, according to MSP. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

This week in the Peace Corps A Costa Rican Country Christmas

first_imgOn Dec. 26, 2016, I woke up relieved. I had made it through my very first Christmas away from home. I remember reassuring myself that my second year of service would be different; I would make it home to spend the holidays with friends and family.I would break out my winter boots, frolic in the snow, and snuggle up next to the fire with my dogs and a massive cup of hot cocoa. Holiday tunes would ring out in the background. Oh, how glorious it would be. Tilyian’s dog, Maple, waiting for her back in the US. (Photo courtesy of Peace Corps Costa Rica)But, when the final quarter of my Peace Corps service began filling up with new projects, community invitations, and events, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to swing a trip home in December.After accepting that I would be spending Christmas again in my site – a rural community of 200 people – I did my best to do it differently this time around.This year, I was determined to bring a little taste of my own culture and tradition to Costa Rica to make the holidays feel a little more like home. I needed the essentials: Christmas cookies, Christmas music (we would listen to “Feliz Navidad” on repeat if need be), and presents for my host family.Those people who have shown me nothing but kindness acceptance and allowed me to live in their home for the past 19 months. Christmas cookies and presents! (Photo courtesy of Peace Corps Costa Rica)Since Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 24 here in Costa Rica, my 12-year-old host niece, Fabiola, and I spent the day before making over 80 Christmas cookies so the children could decorate and eat them the following day at the community party.While you might think 80 cookies doesn’t sound like that many, it can be. All I had was cookie cutters made from cans and masking tape and a portable oven that fits 5 to 6 cookies at a time. It took us almost 6 hours. Making Christmas cookies (Photo courtesy of Peace Corps Costa Rica)While we were making cookies, my host dad went out into the woods to cut down our annual Christmas tree. It really a tree, but a very thick, bushy branch chopped down from a large pine tree. After returning with the “tree,” he and my host mom set up the creche, a nativity scene that almost every house displays in or outside of their home.Baby Jesus is not placed in the manger until Christmas Day – the day that he was born – which I learned my first year here after purchasing my host mother a new baby Jesus. I thought the first one had been lost. It was not.On the morning of Christmas Eve (“Nochebuena”) per tradition – a pig was killed. Then the men of the family began roasting the pork and the pig’s skin to make “chicharrones,” a traditional Costa Rican dish.Meanwhile, the ladies boiled up yucca, a favorite root vegetable here, and plantains – enough food to last everyone through the night. From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. we feasted on chicharrones, yucca, and plantains, decorated Christmas cookies, sang karaoke, and danced. Christmas lunch (Photo courtesy of Peace Corps Costa Rica)When I woke up on Dec. 26, 2017, it wasn’t the feeling of relief that I had experienced my first year; but pure appreciation, gratitude, and happiness. It turns out I was home for the holidays this year, and I spent it surrounded by the people I love, doing what we love to do: laughing, eating, singing, and dancing. Karaoke Christmas in Costa Rica (Photo courtesy of Peace Corps Costa Rica)I sat down on Christmas morning, still in my pijamas and exchanged presents with my host family. What I thought I was missing last year was here all along: the feeling of family and togetherness that makes Christmas the most wonderful time of the year.The Peace Corps photo series in The Tico Times Costa Rica Changemakers section is sponsored by the Costa Rica USA Foundation for Cooperation (CRUSA), a proud financial supporter of Peace Corps Volunteer projects nationwide. Learn more here. To donate to support the Peace Corps Costa Rica, visit the official donation page. Volunteers’ last names and community names are withheld from these publications, per Peace Corps policy.Connect with the Peace Corps Costa Rica on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Brought to you by the Costa Rica USA Foundation (CRUSA). Brought to you by the Costa Rica USA Foundation (CRUSA). Courtesy of CRUSA Facebook Comments Related posts:This week in the Peace Corps: Moving Out in Costa Rica This week in the Peace Corps: Jumpstarting English with Peace Corps Volunteers This week in the Peace Corps: Camp GLOW empowering young women worldwide This week in the Peace Corps: A volunteer’s time in Talamancalast_img read more

Investors pay to lend Germany money

first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Investors are paying for the privilege to lend Germany money as they look for a haven from the financial and economic crisis hitting the rest of Europe.Germany auctioned (EURO)5 billion ($6.14 billion) in two-year treasury notes Wednesday with an average interest rate, or yield, of minus 0.06 percent.A willingness among investors to sacrifice returns for safety highlights how fearful financial markets are at the moment. Comments   Share   Top Stories Investors see Germany’s bonds as a haven from the turmoil over too much debt in some of the 17 countries that use the euro as their currency. Germany can easily pay its debts _ the country’s economy is growing and its government finances are in relatively good shape.Demand for such safe investments is strong because bonds of other governments are no longer seen as risk-free. Spain and Italy are struggling to borrow money at affordable rates, and Greece, Ireland and Portugal have needed bailout loans from the other countries.Interest rates on safe investments are very low. The ECB’s super-safe overnight deposit facility now pays banks zero interest, after the ECB cut the rate July 5 from 0.25 percent in an effort to get banks to lend. German notes have already traded with negative yields in the secondary market.Evidence of a slowdown in the U.S. economy and the ongoing European debt crisis have pushed Treasury yields to all-time lows. The yield on the five-year Treasury note sank to 0.57 percent this week, and the 10-year touched 1.44 percent. Both are historic lows.In times of trouble, traders tend to move money into U.S. Treasuries, government debt backed by the world’s largest economy. The size of the U.S. Treasury market _ roughly $11 trillion _ makes it easy for traders to move in and out of it in a hurry. And stronger demand for bonds sends their yields lower. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements The German two-year notes were sold Wednesday to 32 banks that can then either keep the bonds or sell them on to other investors. The negative yield applies if the bonds are held to maturity; since there’s an active secondary market, the yield could rise or fall with the price on that market. Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.___Additional reporting by Matt Craft in New York.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

Venezuelas Capriles ousts ally for alleged bribe

first_imgAssociated PressCARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – Venezuela’s opposition leader fired a top aide on Thursday after a video surfaced showing the deputy accepting a purported bribe in a scandal that has injected new controversy into the heated presidential campaign.Henrique Capriles, who has vowed to root out Venezuela’s long-rampant corruption if elected, expelled lawmaker Juan Carlos Caldera from his campaign saying the politician had apparently used the candidate’s name for financial gain. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Patients with chronic pain give advice Parents, stop beating yourself up State television released a grainy subtitled video that shows Caldera sitting across from a man who asks him to set up a meeting with Capriles. Caldera promises to look into it, adding that a meeting outside Venezuela would be less risky. The man, unseen on camera, hands Caldera two stacks of bills that the lawmaker stashes into a manila envelope.“Given the information that we have, he’s out of the project,” Capriles said in a press conference in Caracas. “My grandma used to tell me that the most important thing is our good name. That’s why I’ve always been an open book and I won’t allow anyone to get privileges for personal benefit.”Government officials allied with President Hugo Chavez linked the scandal directly to Capriles and demanded an investigation into his campaign finances.Lawmaker Julio Chavez said a serious probe is necessary to leave no doubt that the money, “doesn’t come from drug trafficking, paramilitaries or organized crime.”Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami wrote on his Twitter account: “New faces, old vices…Now Capriles `it wasn’t me’ doesn’t know anything about it…(hash)Majunche corrupter.” Majunche is Venezuelan slang for low quality. Sponsored Stories Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daycenter_img Comments   Share   In a news conference, Caldera said the 40-year-old Capriles is not tied to the case. He said the money was for his own election campaign in the Sucre municipality and that the video is a dirty trick by pro-Chavez lawmakers ahead of the Oct. 7 vote. He identified the man in the video as Luis Pena, an aide to Wilmer Ruperti, a wealthy shipping tycoon.Ruperti has been linked to Chavez since he came out to support him during an oil strike in 2002-2003. He recently gave the socialist leader a gift of two gold-plated pistols once owned by South American independence leader Simon Bolivar. Chavez exalts the 19th century “Liberator” in daily speeches as the spiritual father of his self-styled revolution.“A group of government deputies staged this show, where I supposedly received a bribe… but they’re not saying what it is for. If they’re concerned about the truth, why don’t they say who’s the person with me (in the video),” Caldera said.“All of this was done with the intention to stain the candidacy of Henrique Capriles.”Caldera said he met Pena after meeting Ruperti in his apartment located in a wealthy Caracas neighborhood. After a friendly chat, the business tycoon asked him to help him meet Chavez’ rival. At that moment Caldera said, the millionaire wanted to get close to Capriles because “businessmen can smell who will win.” Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project The political party Primero Justicia, or Justice First, announced Caldera’s “separation” from the party on Thursday until the case is solved.In the run-up to the biggest challenge in Chavez’s almost 14 years in office, both sides have stepped up their verbal attacks and tensions have been running high.Violence broke out at an opposition campaign event in Venezuela on Wednesday in the coastal town of Puerto Cabello after supporters of Chavez blocked a road and a campaign truck was torched. Both sides hurled rocks, and police said at least 14 people were hurt.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixlast_img

AP INTERVIEW Malis secular rebels splinter

first_imgMediators, led by Burkina’s President Blaise Compaore, have attempted to broker a solution through dialogue. Ag Mehdi appears to be angling for a role in the future negotiations by announcing the creation of his front in the home city of the lead mediator, and by signaling that he will meet both conditions set by the international community.A new report by Amnesty International details gruesome abuses that have been committed by Islamic fighters in the north, who have banned music, demanded that women veil themselves, stoned to death an adulterous couple, and made a regular spectacle out of public amputations. The three main Islamic groups now operating in northern Mali all have ties to al-Qaida.“We need first of all to rid Azawad of the terrorists and after that we can start talking with all the different interlocutors in Bamako,” he said.In Paris, a spokesman for the NMLA, Moussa Ag Assarid, called the creation of the new front a form of “blackmail,” and said that the renegade colonel was simply trying to angle for a position in upcoming talks.“We are still continuing our combat for independence,” he affirmed. “I think most people in our ranks consider this guy an epiphenomenon.” Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   Sponsored Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Associated PressOUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) – A former colonel in the Tuareg rebel group fighting for an independent homeland in Mali’s north announced Monday he is leaving the movement because its goal of independence is unrealistic.Col. Hassan Ag Medhi told The Associated Press he has quit the Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, known as NMLA, and created the splinter group Front for the Liberation of the Azawad, or FPA, which he says is neither pro-jihad nor pro-independence.center_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mali was plunged into turmoil in March after a coup in the capital of Bamako created a security vacuum. That allowed the secular NMLA to sweep across the north, taking half the territory and declaring it a new nation called “Azawad.” Only months later, the rebels were kicked out by Islamic groups allied with al-Qaida, which have now imposed strict Shariah law in the north.“What pushed us to create this front today is because we have gotten to a state where we need to think about saving the population which is suffering _ there are thousands of refugees,” said Ag Medhi said in an interview in the capital of Burkina Faso, which neighbors Mali.“In light of how long this process is taking, in light of how dysfunctional it’s been, we are choosing to go in the direction of peace. We are calling on all the sons of Azawad to put an end to the suffering of the people. We are neither pro-independence, nor pro-jihad. What is foremost in our minds is saving these people whose hands are being cut off,” he said in a hotel in downtown Ouagadougou.The international community has said it can accept neither an independent state in northern Mali, nor one in the hands of Islamic extremists. At least seven people accused of being thieves have had their hands cut off in recent months, after the Islamists began imposing the strict form of Islamic law known as Shariah. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

Maldives Govt plan to shut down Luxury Spas

first_imgThe health of popular tourist destination the Maldives has come under threat as the government ordered the closure of its luxury spa’s and massage parlors in the Islands capital Male and surrounding Islands.The country’s President Mohamed Nasheed issued the ruling after bowing to pressure from the opposition parties who claim widespread sales of pork and alcohol in the predominantly Sunni Muslim nation were offensive, Reuters reported.An opposition-led religious protest last week prompted a statement by President Mohamed Nasheed’s office which declared that the government has ordered the closure of massage parlors and spas in the Maldives.”Ironically, the same opposition leaders who railed against spas and the selling of alcohol and pork to tourists are some of the country’s biggest resort owners,” The statement revealed.However, former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s opposition coalition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) said the government move was aimed at leisure business owned by some opposition members.Progressive Party of Maldives spokesman Ahamed Mahloof said “we never asked for the ban”. “We wanted the liquor and massage clinics banned in inhabited islands to prevent prostitution and spread of drugs and alcohol to locals,” Ahamed Mahloof said.“Nasheed is misusing the demands to take revenge by imposing the ban on resorts owned by the opposition members.”Tourism Minister Mariyam Zulfa said the decision had already caused concern and prompted calls from various reports affected.”Several have raised concerns over our decision and we are considering allowing resorts to operate spas,” Mariyam Zulfa said.“They are also aware of the reasons that led us to take the decision.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.Plast_img read more

Travel chaos storms Tokyo region

first_imgTravel in Tokyo was thrown into chaos yesterday as Japan’s worst storm in over 50 years smashed into Tokyo region, grounding flights and halting a number of train services. Japan Airlines cancelled 230 domestic and seven Asia-bound flights, affecting 31,600 passengers.  All Nippon Airways also had to ground 320 domestic flights which affected 37,700 people. The bullet train that links Tokyo and the western city of Osaka experienced delays after a short suspension, while East Japan Railways, which operates a vast train network in the eastern and northern regions, cancelled some commuter and long-distance services. The typhoon-strength storm produced winds up to 150 kilometers an hour.  A spokesman for the Japan Meteorological Agency said “This is like the core of a typhoon, but it is staying for a long time. A typhoon usually moves rather quickly.” Japan Airlines stated on their website that normal operation is expected for today 5 April. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W Storm lashes Tokyo region – Source: House of Japanlast_img read more

NSW and Queensland tourism industries join forces

first_imgThe New South Wales (NSW) Chamber (Tourism Industry division) and the Queensland Tourism Industry Council have joined together to commit to the Australian Tourism Accreditation Program (ATAP).All Australian states will now provide a uniform, online business accreditation program to give businesses the opportunity to gain certification and help them grow across the visitor economy.Accreditation will provide customers with the guarantee that participating tourism enterprises are dedicated to professional business operations and delivery of service, and partake in good business practices.NSW Business Chamber executive manager tourism Dean Gorddard said the program is a valuable tool for Australian businesses.“ATAP is a practical business development process that complements our role at the NSW Business Chamber in providing SME’s (small and medium-sized enterprises) with the tools to achieve market competitiveness and forge customer loyalty and repeat business,” Mr Gorddard said.Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said the program supports both tourists and business operators in Australia.“In an age of peer to peer reviews which arguably provide consumers with a subjective commentary, we believe it is important to provide a balanced approach in Queensland to inform our visitors and support our tourism operators in making qualified choices,” Mr Gschwind said.ATAP is the only program to provide accreditation for all types of businesses operating in the visitor economy, including boutique accommodation, cafés, zoos and retail shops.This new partnership enables Queensland and NSW operators to join over 4,000 accredited tourism businesses within Australia.ATAP has been compared to New Zealand’s successful accreditation program, Qualmark, which provides endorsed businesses with an average of four times more direct leads from the national tourism organisation.Source = ETB Travel News: Brittney Levinsonlast_img read more

Marriott International launches Meetings Imagined in Australia

first_imgMarriott International launches Meetings Imagined in AustraliaMarriott International has launched a new website Meetings Imagined to assist event planners in organising and implementing meetings and corporate events.This digital innovation is unlike anything else in the industry as it transforms a meeting into an experience. Meetings Imagined is modeled on the photo-gathering site Pinterest. Similar to Pinterest whereby users can gather inspirational images to spark creativity and set out the objective of their meeting.Marriott International has identified that the purpose for meetings are to: celebrate, decide, educate, ideate, network, produce and promote ideas. Meetings Imagined allows meeting planners to design their meetings to meet specific needs. The website includes elements that make up the structure of a meeting from the setup, to the food and drink options, technology and supplies, and experiences.Meetings Imagined provides expert tips on everything from networking activities and maximising social media exposure, to creating the optimal meeting environment and meeting trends.In addition to the website, event planners can collaborate on event creation with Marriott International’s Meetings Imagined specialists who are available in 11 Asia-Pacific markets.The research upon which Meetings Imagined is founded, comprises analysis of the over 40,000 meetings hosted at Marriott’s hotels yearly as well as in-depth discussions with Marriott’s next generation customers. The most important findings were around how our next generations of customers work collaboratively, how they use technology, and how these factors affect meetings’ dynamics said Ms. Peggy Fang Roe, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Asia Pacific at Marriott International.“While others may focus on just meeting logistics, Marriott is reimagining the experience,” explains Ms. Fang Roe, “The Meetings Imagined website makes sure that regardless of the meeting, the user experience is extraordinary, and the objective achieved.”Anyone who is planning a meeting or event may use the website. The Inspiration Gallery has photos that present Marriott’s creative ideas, while the Expert Tips & Trends section includes information on all aspects of meetings, including food, ambiance, social icebreakers and room layout, and offers options for any budget. Event planners can also find Marriott’s best experiences from around the world.The Meetings Imagined website works as a platform to portray Marriott’s pipeline of innovations within the MICE space and solicit forward-thinking ideas from meeting planners and delegates.Marriott International has also launched a Meeting Services App that includes a chat function enabling MICE organisers to connect with Marriott’s event team before and during the event. This allows Marriott to respond immediately to any issues or requests, and to inform the planner of how the request is being handled.The Meeting Services App is a continuation of Marriott International’s innovation in technology, spaces and services, and builds upon the brand’s existing offerings. Learn more about Meetings ImaginedSource = Marriott Internationallast_img read more

Remarkables Park welcomes Ramada brand to Queenstown

first_imgSource = Safari Group Ramada Hotel & Suites Remarkables Park, QueenstownQueenstown’s first new hotel in five years will open soon in a high profile extension of Remarkables Park Town Centre.Ramada Hotel & Suites Remarkables Park Queenstown has commanding views of the majestic Remarkables mountains, Coronet Peak and many other famous mountains surrounding Queenstown.Part of the Wyndham Hotel Group, the world’s largest hotel company with more than 7,800 hotels across 72 countries, the hotel will be the sixth property in the Ramada New Zealand portfolio and is scheduled to open in time for the 2016 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival (24 June – 3 July).The four-storey corporate and leisure hotel has a total of 72 beds, 56 carparks (33 of which are underground) and was designed by Auckland’s Studio 37.The all-suites style hotel has been developed by highly experienced developer Robert Neil’s Safari Group. The hotel offers guests a mix of well-appointed studio (28), one-bedroom (20), two-bedroom (9) and three-bedroom king apartments (2), all with ensuite bathrooms, full kitchens and laundry facilities.Alastair Porter, CEO of Remarkables Park Limited, said the hotel opening is another milestone for the growing master planned Remarkables Park development.“In such a strong visitor economy Ramada Hotel & Suites Remarkables Park will help to meet the rapidly growing need for more visitor accommodation in Queenstown,” Mr Porter said.“Interest continues from other hotel brands too, and we look forward to being able to offer visitors a range of three star to six star hotels within the Remarkables Park Town Centre, including High Street and resort hotel locations with water and mountain views,” he added.Robert Neil said, “This has been a really exciting project to lead and it’s very rewarding to see the property take shape in just over twelve months of construction.“We chose Remarkables Park because it is zoned to be the district’s largest Town Centre and for its close proximity to many of Queenstown’s unique visitor experiences like skiing, golfing, wineries and unrivalled alpine views. Being just a few minutes from the airport adds to its convenience.”Final works are advancing rapidly on-site and interior fit-out is underway in readiness to host Winter Festival visitors from New Zealand and Australia.Ramada New Zealand’s Sales and Marketing Manager Roger Taitt said he was delighted to see the Ramada brand return to Queenstown.“As part of our commitment of Ramada New Zealand to provide quality accommodation and value-conscious offerings, Ramada Hotel & Suites Remarkables Park continues the brand’s theme of contemporary and comfortable design and 100 per cent free and unlimited fibre Wi-Fi access, which we know resonates well with today’s leisure and corporate travellers,” Mr Taitt said.Other hotel features include ski gear storage room, complimentary parking, LCD TV + SKY channels, washing machine / dryer room and free booking cancellations and amendments. The hotel will provide guests with a sunny, scenic and conveniently located base.Ground floor retail and food and beverage outlets will add to existing shopping and dining options available in the wider Remarkables Park Town Centre, a 24-hour gym and Remarkables Park’s rapidly growing indoor entertainment precinct.Longer term plans of Remarkables Park include provision for gondola and conferencing facilities. Ramada hotelslast_img read more

Skyscanner reveals the best value destinations for Aussie travellers 2

first_imgSkyscanner reveals the best value destinations for Aussie travellers 2017While most travellers often look for the cheapest flights when booking a trip away, many might forget to factor local costs of accommodation, food and transportation that can turn a cheap-value holiday skyrocketing into a budget-breaking nightmare. To help Aussies look at the overall cost of a trip,, the leading global travel search company, has compared prices for flights as well as the average daily costs one might occur while on holiday to find the ultimate value destination to travel to and Upsize their Dollar in 2017.Kuala Lumpur has been revealed as the most budget-friendly hotspot for Aussie travellers this year, with a five-day trip, including flights and common amenities (food, accommodation and travel) amounting to $867.Phuket and Bangkok are also amongst the top dollar-saving destinations this year, with estimated costs totaling $880 and $1,060 respectively. In comparison, Singapore was found to be the most expensive destination at $2,209 – almost three times the cost of a holiday to Kuala Lumpur.The findings highlight the importance of factoring all costs for an entire holiday to help take advantage of the high Aussie dollar. For example, while Christchurch may be the cheapest to fly to since the average flight fare is $432, the total trip (for 5 days) will cost $1,177 due to daily expenses estimated at $149.Similarly, while the average flight fares to Phuket and Singapore are similar in price, the difference between the daily costs incurred in each city is $260.Flights to popular destinations 15% cheaper this year Skycanner’s data also found that return flights to popular holiday destinations are 15% cheaper than last year. Travellers looking to visit these destinations this year can save, on average, $134, equating to about nine plates of smashed avocado on toast, or 34 cups of coffee!Speaking of coffee, it was found that Ho Chi Minh City offers the cheapest prices for a cappuccino, averaging at $2.40 – less than half the price of a cup in Shanghai ($5.60). So, if you’re a coffee enthusiast or need multiple cups to get your through the day, the Vietnamese city may a wallet-friendly choice for you.Emily Callahan, Principal Growth Manager at Skyscanner Australia & New Zealand, said: “At Skyscanner, our goal is to make the holiday-booking experience as easy as possible, and to help Aussie travellers find the best deals every time. This year, we have found that travelling to popular overseas destinations offers Aussies great savings as compared to 2016.“While Aussies should take advantage of these lower fares, we recommend factoring the costs of common holiday expenses when deciding which destination to visit to avoid any nasty surprises. With this research, value-conscious travellers can get the best deals possible and identify destinations to visit to upsize their dollar,” added CallahanSource = Skyscannerlast_img read more

Five reasons to hide the tech in your business

first_imgSource = Is technology too visible in your business?It was 1994 when I got my first email account. It was Eudora, the original access  involved a Dos prompt and knowing the commands to type to bring up an inbox and then open an item. It was mind blowing when they released Windows 3.1 and it was icon driven. It only took 35 seconds for email to open.I started hanging out with an artist’s crew at Surrey University in the UK, I became fascinated in arts discussion about the future, a guy called Henry Rollins with a song called disconnect, how science fiction predicted our future. Scary just how right they’ve got it, even scarier considering what that means for the future.I was studying biochemistry, 1996 began teaching myself IT and for the past 20 years have been fascinated with how technology can improve our lives. That was the way it was for some time. Then the tech and big data started moving beyond the people.Technology can be powerful, but we need to make it less visible to differentiate herself as humans in the travel industry as opposed to people working the websites. Technology is threatening for technology’s sake.Take the technology out of the visible equation and put the people back in. There are five reasons why technology needs to have a lower presence in your business:If your customers think you are creating their itineraries from websites, what’s to stop them doing it for themselves?How do you feel sitting with someone who is spending lots of time on the computer that you can’t see… Like a bank? Is that personal?Build up an itinerary, but deliver it in person – an itinerary delivered by a person becomes a dream; an itinerary generated by a website become something to compare…. With another websiteWebsites aren’t as good as value adding or up sellingYour ability to tell a story can be your point of difference. 100 words or less in a webpage that you send to somebody has noneIt’s not saying run away from technology, it’s not to say technology is not important. People like dealing with people. Especially the ones who take the time to contact the travel agentGet back to being human.  Get away from it all. Go on a holiday. Get the human touch. roomsXML – More Suppliers, Hot Deals learn more about herelast_img read more

Sovrin Foundation names SITA a Founding Steward

first_imgDigital IdentitySovrin Foundation names SITA a Founding StewardSITA to lead exploration into self-sovereign identity in travelSITA today announced that it has been named a Founding Steward of the Sovrin Foundation, a private-sector, international non-profit whose mission is to enable self-sovereign identity online. In its role as a Founding Steward, air transport technology provider SITA, will collaborate with the Sovrin Foundation and other Sovrin Stewards to create, operate and maintain the foundation’s decentralized digital identity network.Sovrin is a decentralized, global public utility for self-sovereign identity. Self-sovereign means a lifetime portable identity for any person, organization, or thing that allows the holder to present verifiable credentials in a privacy-protecting way. These credentials can represent things as diverse as a passport, an airline ticket or simply a library card. Sovrin identities seek to transform the current broken online identity system which is open to misuse and fraud. Using self-sovereign identities could lead to lower financial transaction costs, protect people’s personal information, limit opportunity for cybercrime, and simplify identity challenges in a variety of fields including travel, healthcare, banking, IoT and voter fraud.Heather C. Dahl, Executive Director of the Sovrin Foundation, said: “SITA has a unique role in the global air transport industry. Its community ownership and neutral position makes it ideally suited to be the first travel industry Steward for Sovrin. The digital economy requires that individuals and businesses establish secure, private and trusted transactions but the current centralized system is flawed and subject to fraud. The Sovrin Network was purpose-built to add the missing identity layer to the Internet and provides a complete approach to identity from the distributed ledger to device. SITA brings decades of industry experience to help establish self-sovereign identity in the travel sector.”Gustavo Pina, Head of SITA Lab, said: “There has always been a need for people to assert their identities and today that is lacking online. In the ideal world, individuals would digitally hold all their identity data themselves which they could assert to various entities. In travel that could be at every step of the journey from booking, travelling through the airport, crossing borders and checking-in to hotels.”SITA will be working with innovative airline customers to trial issuing credentials to small groups of passengers and allowing them to use them in controlled environments.  In doing so, travel industry leaders can see how self-sovereign identity might develop.Pina added: “We know that companies would like to get personal data off their systems. With self-sovereign identity, individuals could maintain ownership of the data they need to travel and this would reduce the data management responsibilities of airlines, airports, governments and other stakeholders in the travel journey. There is a clear desire to move in this direction and while it might be hard to visualize today, I expect digital identities will be with us in the coming decade.”Sovrin Stewards are governed by the Sovrin Foundation’s constitution-like Trust Framework, within which the ‘diffuse trust model’ seeks to prevent undue influence over the network from any single source. Other Sovrin Stewards include Cisco, Deutsche Telekom,Digicert, IBM, and T-Labs.Source = SITA and Sovrin Foundationlast_img read more

Hilton Partners with OSK Property and Employees Provident Fund

first_imgHilton Melbourne SquareHilton Partners with OSK Property and Employees Provident Fund Hilton (NYSE: HLT) today announced the signing of Hilton Melbourne Square. Hilton Melbourne Square will be a major meetings and events hotel and will join the recent signing of Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street, reinforcing Hilton’s push to strengthen its presence in the Melbourne market.Hilton will manage the 600-room hotel under a management agreement with Yarra Park City, the joint venture company between OSK Property and EPF, and is slated to open in early 2023, with construction to commence 2020.Located in the centre of Melbourne’s Southbank precinct, on the corner of Power and Kavanagh Streets, the new-build hotel is part of a $2.8 billion mixed-use development comprising of residential, commercial, speciality retail and 3,700 square meters of open space parkland.Hilton Melbourne Square is ideally located in close proximity to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and Melbourne Arts Centre. The hotel is also a short walk across the river to the Docklands precinct, Southern Cross Station and Melbourne’s central business and shopping districts.“Having recently signed Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street, we are thrilled to have now signed another Hilton Hotels & Resorts property with Hilton Melbourne Square, this time a major meetings and events property,” said Heidi Kunkel, vice president, operations, Australasia, Hilton.“Melbourne is an extremely important market and with two new Hilton Hotels & Resorts properties joining our existing DoubleTree by Hilton hotel on Flinders Street, we look forward to welcoming both business and leisure guests to all three unique properties.”Comprised of 600 spacious rooms, including 28 suites and one Presidential Suite, Hilton Melbourne Square will feature an Executive Lounge, four food and beverage outlets, including a rooftop bar and an All Day Dining restaurant, a fitness centre, an indoor pool and extensive meeting and event spaces totalling over 2,800sqm, including a 1,140sqm ballroom and a 840sqm junior ballroom.Tan Sri Ong Leong Huat, Chairman, OSK Property, said, “We are delighted to have partnered with Hilton on this landmark hotel. This new hotel will offer extensive, state of the art convention facilities capable of hosting the world’s largest conventions in addition to capitalising upon a very robust local demand for function facilities.”Tan Sri Ong added, “Hilton has an exceptional reputation in the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions space and we are excited and confident to have Hilton driving this business within our new facility, together with 600 cutting edge hotel rooms. Hilton Melbourne Square is a superb complement to the broader Melbourne Square mixed-use precinct.”“Hilton Melbourne Square is an exciting addition to our Melbourne and wider Australasia portfolio and we are extremely pleased to be working with both OSK Property and EPF to bring our world-renown Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand to Melbourne’s Southbank area.” said Guy Phillips, senior vice president, development, Asia & Australasia, Hilton.Hilton Melbourne Square will join 27 hotels presently operating under the Hilton portfolio throughout Australasia.About HiltonHilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 17 world-class brands comprising more than 5,700 properties with more than 923,000 rooms, in 113 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its mission to be the world’s most hospitable company, Hilton earned a spot on the 2018 world’s best workplaces list, and has welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its 100-year history. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, more than 89 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can’t buy, plus enjoy instant benefits, including digital check-in with room selection, Digital Key, and Connected Room. Visit for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook,Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.About Hilton Hotels & ResortsFor 100 years, Hilton Hotels & Resorts has set the benchmark for hospitality around the world, providing new product innovations and services to meet guests’ evolving needs. With more than 585 hotels across six continents, Hilton Hotels & Resorts properties are located in the world’s most sought-after destinations for guests who know that where they stay matters. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits. Begin your journey at, and learn more by visiting and following Hilton Hotels & Resorts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.About Employees Provident Fund MalaysiaThe Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is Malaysia’s premier retirement savings fund to help its members achieve adequate savings for a comfortable retirement. This is in line with EPF’s vision to help members achieve a better future and the mission to safeguard members’ savings and deliver excellent services. The EPF has evolved significantly from transaction-centric to a professional fund management organisation with a strong focus on retirement security. The EPF is guided by a robust and professional governance framework when making investment decisions. It continues to play a catalytic role in the nation’s economic growth and seeks to cultivate a savings and investment culture among its members to improve the country’s financial literacy level. For more information, please visit our website OSK PropertyOSK Group is a conglomerate with a solid business track record of over 50 years. The Group has diversified business interests in property development and investment, construction, industries, hospitality, and financial services, where it holds a strategic stake in RHB Bank, the fourth largest banking group in Malaysia. OSK Group has over 2,000 employees across its business operations in Malaysia, Vietnam and Australia. Its main holding company, OSK Holdings Berhad, is listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia. OSK Property, which is the Group’s property development and investment business, is one of the leading property groups in Malaysia. A multi-award winning developer known for its bold designs and solid reputation, OSK Property has delivered a broad range of properties across Malaysia, from large-scale townships to urban high-rise buildings, and has a portfolio of investment assets in hotels, retail and commercial office properties. For more information, please visit our website = Hiltonlast_img read more

Viking opens 2021 river for sale at 2020 prices

first_imgViking opens 2021 river for sale at 2020 pricesViking opens 2021 river for sale at 2020 pricesViking has announced its worldwide 2021 river itineraries are open for sale at 2020 prices, including the incredibly popular 15-day Grand European Tour, the 13-day Waterways of the Tsars voyage and the 10-day Portugal’s River of Gold itinerary.“Now is the time to plan ahead for your pick of dates, staterooms and value for money for our 2021 departures. 2020 pricing must end soon – we highly recommend booking early to avoid disappointment,” said Michelle Black, managing director of Viking ANZ.Viking’s most popular itineraries, open for sale for 2021:15-day Grand European Tour from Amsterdam to Budapest or v.v., from $5,995pp, including free return economy flights to Europe13-day Waterways of the Tsars cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow or v.v., from $7,995pp, including free return economy flights to Europe10-day Portugal’s River of Gold itinerary from Lisbon to Porto, from $4,495pp, plus return economy flights to Europe from just $995pp8-day Rhine Getaway itinerary from Amsterdam to Basel or v.v., from $3,495pp, plus return economy flights to Europe from just $995ppState-of-the-art Viking Longships offer guests unprecedented levels of comfort, including full verandas, as well as the largest suites and the most al-fresco dining on Europe’s rivers.Known as ‘the thinking person’s cruise’, Viking is destination focused, culturally enriching and carefully curated. Itineraries are developed with curious, experienced travellers in mind. Once onboard, every detail of Viking’s ships is designed to enhance and enrich the travel experience, so that guests can deeply understand and connect to the destinations they visit.Terms and conditions apply.For additional information, contact Viking Cruises at 138 747 (Australia) and 0800 447 913 (New Zealand) or visit = Viking Cruiseslast_img read more