Tourism to Paris slumps after attacks strikes floods

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> The Canadian Press Posted by Thursday, August 25, 2016 Share PARIS — Fewer foreign tourists are visiting the Paris region after deadly attacks last year and a season of strikes, violent labour action and exceptional floods.The regional tourism office reported figures for the first half of 2016 this week showing that the drop was especially high among Japanese, Russian and Chinese visitors.Spending on hotels fell particularly sharply, but was partially compensated by a rise in the number of people staying in private apartment offerings.Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has called a meeting for early September to find ways to revive tourism, which represents about 7 per cent of the French economy.Other French regions have not been as hard hit as Paris, though French Riviera tourism was shaken by a truck attack in Nice last month that killed 86. Tourism to Paris slumps after attacks, strikes, floodslast_img read more

Fog causing delays at Londons Gatwick airport

first_img Travelweek Group Posted by Fog causing delays at London’s Gatwick airport Thursday, October 27, 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img LONDON — Thick fog covered the runways at Gatwick Airport early Thursday morning, resulting in a slew of flight delays. Although the fog has since lifted, the busy airport – along with other airports in the London area – are still dealing with a backlog of flights. British Airways has confirmed that flights were being delayed due to adverse weather conditions and advised passengers to check their website for the most up to date information.Website Flightracker.com notes that 128 flights are delayed at Gatwick and 111 at Heathrow, while Stansted seems to be operating normally.Gatwick Airport is also suggesting delays will continue, despite the fog having lifted. Fog is affecting flights at London Gatwick today. For the latest flight info, please click here: https://t.co/Md01pAPZDw [10:13BST 27OCT]— British Airways (@British_Airways) October 27, 2016 Share Earlier fog is causing some knock on delays. Please check with your airline for latest flight status. Thanks Jay— Gatwick Airport LGW (@Gatwick_Airport) October 27, 2016last_img read more

US airlines get defensive on talk of banning overbooking flights

first_img DALLAS — With the federal government and a Senate committee looking into the dragging of a man off a United Express flight, airlines are beginning to speak up against any effort to bar them from overselling flights.The CEO of Delta Air Lines called overbooking “a valid business process.”“I don’t think we need to have additional legislation to try to control how the airlines run their businesses,” Ed Bastian said Wednesday. “The key is managing it before you get to the boarding process.”Federal rules allow airlines to sell more tickets than they have seats, and airlines do it routinely because they assume some passengers won’t show up.The practice lets airlines keep fares low while managing the rate of no-shows on any particular route, said Vaughn Jennings, spokesman for Airlines for America, which represents most of the big U.S. carriers. He said that plane seats are perishable commodities – once the door has been closed, seats on a flight can’t be sold and lose all value.Bumping is rare – only about one in 16,000 passengers got bumped last year, the lowest rate since at least the mid-1990s. But it angers and frustrates customers who see their travel plans wrecked in an instant.Bumping is not limited to flights that are oversold. It can happen if the plane is overweight or air marshals need a seat. Sometimes it happens because the airline needs room for employees who are commuting to work on another flight – that’s what happened Sunday on United Express.More news:  Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish StepsFlight 3411 was sold out – passengers had boarded, and every seat was filled – when the airline discovered that it needed to find room for four crew members.That eventually led to the video everybody has seen – a 69-year-old man being dragged off the plane by security officers after refusing to give up his seat.In a series of three statements and an interview, United CEO Oscar Munoz became increasingly contrite. On Wednesday, he told ABC-TV that he would fix United’s policies and that United will no longer call on police to remove passengers from full flights.Politicians have jumped on the public outrage.On Wednesday, 21 Senate Democrats demanded a more-detailed account of the incident from Munoz. A day earlier, the top four members of the Senate Commerce Committee asked Munoz and Chicago airport officials for an explanation.“The last thing a paying airline passenger should expect is a physical altercation with law enforcement personnel after boarding,” said the committee members, two Republicans and two Democrats. They asked Munoz about his airline’s policy for bumping passengers, and whether it makes a difference that passengers have already boarded the plane.Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to analyze “the problem of overbooking passengers throughout the industry.” He said was working on legislation to increase passengers’ rights.The Transportation Department said it is investigating the incident to determine if United violated consumer-protection or civil-rights laws. It gave few details.New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that he asked the Trump administration to suspend airlines’ ability to overbook flights. Christie, a Republican, said bumping passengers off flights is “unconscionable.” United is the dominant carrier at New Jersey’s largest airport, which is in Newark.More news:  Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youthFederal rules require that before airlines can bump passengers from a flight they must seek volunteers _ the carriers generally offer travel vouchers. That usually works _ of the 475,000 people who lost a seat last year, more than 90 per cent did so voluntarily, according to government figures.United said, however, that when it asked for volunteers Sunday night, there were no takers. United acknowledged that passengers may have been less willing to listen to offers once they were seated on the plane.“Ideally those conversations happen in the gate area,” said United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy.Airlines are supposed to have rules that determine who gets bumped if it comes to that. United’s rules, called a contract of carriage, say this may be decided by the passenger’s fare class _ how much they paid _ their itinerary, status in United’s frequent-flyer program, and check-in time. United has not said precisely how the four people asked to leave Flight 3411 were selected.United bumps passengers less often than average among U.S. carriers. In 2016, it bumped 3,765 passengers, or one in every 23,000. Passengers were twice as likely to get bumped from Southwest Airlines. Hawaiian, Delta and Virgin America were the least likely to bump a passenger against his will. Thursday, April 13, 2017 Tags: America, United Airlines By: David Koenig Source: The Associated Press << Previous PostNext Post >> U.S. airlines get defensive on talk of banning overbooking flights Sharelast_img read more

Air Canada Vacations drops CareFree price to 49

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Share Wednesday, August 2, 2017 Air Canada Vacations drops CareFree price to $49 Travelweek Group center_img Posted by Tags: Air Canada Vacations MONTREAL — For a limited time clients can purchase Air Canada Vacations’ CareFree add-on package for $49 per person, down from the regular price of $79.The CareFree Plan, applicable to travel to select destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, covers free seat selection, year-round Price Drop Guarantee, StormGuard and a $50 waiver on administrative change fees, a total value of $339 in savings. For travel consultants, CareFree is another opportunity to earn extra commission, says ACV.The year-round Price Drop Guarantee is a one-time, cash back offer of up to $200 per passenger if the price of a package drops after booking. StormGuard lets clients rebook their vacation if the U.S. National Hurricane Center declares a tropical storm warning within 72 hours of their scheduled departure.“We want to take the hassle out of planning a vacation, so we came up with CareFree to make things easier and more flexible,” said ACV’s Managing Director, Nino Montagnese.More news:  CIE Tours launches first-ever River Cruise CollectionWith the ACV&ME loyalty program, travel agents who book hotels, cruises and groups will receive 600 points per room for packages of 7+ nights; 400 points per room for packages of 3-6 nights; 600 points per stateroom for Air & Cruise packages; and 300 points per passenger for Group bookings. ACV&ME Points can be redeemed for Aeroplan Miles, travel vouchers or Visa gift cards.last_img read more

Porter back to Stephenville for the holidays

first_img Share Posted by Wednesday, September 27, 2017 Porter back to Stephenville for the holidays Tags: Newfoundland, Porter Airlinescenter_img TORONTO — Porter Airlines is returning to Stephenville, Newfoundland, this holiday season.The holiday schedule offers roundtrip service on Wednesdays on Dec. 20, 27 and Jan. 3. Service is also available to Ottawa International Airport and to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on the same aircraft.“Porter recognizes these flights are an important connection for the community and we’re happy to be a part of bringing families together, especially around the holidays,” said Robert Deluce, President and CEO, Porter Airlines.“As we celebrate Porter Airlines’ fourth summer of success in Stephenville, today’s announcement carries a very special significance for families in western Newfoundland,” said Brenda Martin, CEO of Stephenville Airport. “Our customers have asked for more Porter flights to Stephenville, and by adding three flights for the holidays we are thrilled to make the region more accessible than ever for our customers coming home for Christmas.” Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

The CIA paid ATT for phone records

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. – The CIA pays AT&T more than $10 million a year to provide phone records with possible links to suspected terrorists, the New York Times reported Thursday, citing government officials.The arrangement is voluntary and there is no court order requiring the company to cooperate with the Central Intelligence Agency, officials told the Times.The program differs from controversial data collection by the National Security Agency, which receives phone records or other “meta-data” from telecommunications companies through court orders.The CIA passes on phone numbers of suspected militants abroad and AT&T then sifts through its database for records of phone calls that can identify foreigners with terror links, the newspaper reported.Most of the logs handed over by AT&T are related to foreign-to-foreign calls, the report said.For international calls that include one end in the United States, the company does not reveal the identity of U.S. citizens and hides several digits of their phone numbers, which allows the CIA to comply with a ban on domestic U.S. spying, it said.The Central Intelligence Agency could choose to refer a hidden number to the FBI, which could then issue a subpoena demanding AT&T divulge the information, according to the report.An AT&T spokesman did not confirm or deny the program but said the firm acted in accordance with laws in the United States and in foreign countries.“In all cases, whenever any governmental entity anywhere seeks information from us, we ensure that the request and our response are completely lawful and proper,” spokesman Mark Siegel told AFP.But he added: “We do not comment on questions concerning national security.”Without verifying the existence of the program, the CIA said its intelligence gathering does not violate the privacy of U.S. citizens.“The CIA protects the nation and upholds the privacy rights of Americans by ensuring that its intelligence collection activities are focused on acquiring foreign intelligence and counterintelligence in accordance with U.S. laws,” said spokesman Todd Ebitz.The CIA is usually associated with gathering intelligence through spies in the field while the NSA focuses on eavesdropping abroad and code-breaking.But an unnamed intelligence official told the Times that the CIA sometimes needs to check phone records in “time-sensitive situations” and be able to act with speed and agility.The report offered the first indication that the CIA had a role in electronic data collection as leaks from a former intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden, have sparked a global firestorm around the NSA’s digital spying.U.S. Internet communications firms have voiced complaints that they are legally required to cooperate with the NSA’s “data mining.”Industry advocates have expressed concerns that NSA spying revelations could turn consumers in the U.S. and abroad against U.S. technology companies. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky pleads not guilty in New York

first_imgRead all of our stories on the Liberty Reserve case here.NEW YORK – A man accused of founding an online underworld bank that allegedly laundered $6 billion for criminals, including child pornographers and drug traffickers, pleaded not guilty in New York on Tuesday.Arthur Budovsky, 40, who renounced his U.S. citizenship and acquired Costa Rica nationality in an apparent bid to avoid prosecution, faces a maximum of 30 years in prison if found guilty by a U.S. district court in Manhattan.U.S. prosecutors say he was the “principal founder” of Liberty Reserve, which operated an alternative digital currency that helped cyber criminals around the world distribute, store and launder the proceeds of illegal activity.Budovsky is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transferring business and operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business.In his first U.S. court appearance he pleaded not guilty before district Judge Denise Cote on Tuesday in a 20-minute hearing, four days after he was extradited from Spain.Budovsky, who was arrested in Madrid in May 2013, wore an orange T-shirt and navy overalls, and looked glum, speaking only briefly in response to the judge’s questions.Cote set a trial date for September 21, 2015. U.S. attorney Andrew Goldstein estimated that the trial would last four weeks.Budovksy’s lawyer Steven Frankel made no application for bail.U.S. prosecutors say the Costa Rica-based Liberty Reserve laundered more than $6 billion for criminals between 2006 and 2013.On September 23, Maxim Chukharev, Liberty’s head of technology, pleaded guilty in New York federal court to conspiracy to operate an illegal unlicensed money transmitting business.Budovsky and Chukharev are among seven charged in May 2013 when federal authorities announced they had shut down what was described as one of the world’s biggest money laundering schemes.Five of them are in custody and two remain at large in Costa Rica.The digital exchange mechanism, which allowed depositors to mask their identities, was similar to Bitcoin and other digital currencies.Before being shut down, Liberty Reserve had more than a million users worldwide, including more than 200,000 in the United States.Indictments accuse Budovsky and his partners of creating a firm that masqueraded as a convenient and legitimate money transfer system.Prosecutors say the digital currency laundered the proceeds of credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography and narcotics trafficking.The investigation and takedown of the company involved police in 17 countries, including Britain, China, Russia, Morocco and Switzerland, and is believed to be the largest money laundering prosecution in history.Budovsky was arrested in 2013 at a Madrid airport during a stopover on a flight from Morocco to Costa Rica.He fought extradition, arguing he deserves the right to return to Costa Rica, where he obtained citizenship by marrying a snack vendor. Facebook Comments Related posts:Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky pleads guilty to money laundering charges Liberty Reserve founder gets 20 years in prison for money laundering Liberty Reserve’s Maxim Chukharev pleads guilty to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business Wife of Liberty Reserve founder to seek husband’s Costa Rica assetslast_img read more

More calls for reform of the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute

first_imgUpdate, Nov. 21: A previous version of this story included statements from the conservation group MarViva, issued under the context of a National Fishing Symposium on Nov.12. That information was based on a press release issued by the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry. However, MarViva has clarified that those comments are not related to the results of FECOP’s investigation or their proposal.Leaders of the Costa Rican Fisheries Federation (FECOP) on Wednesday presented an action plan to reform the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (INCOPESCA), saying the regulatory agency had “lost its way and requires substantial changes.”The plan, which includes eight reform proposals, is based on research by FECOP that surveyed members of the fishing sector in several communities of the Pacific provinces of Puntarenas and Guanacaste from February-April, confirmed FECOP Legal Department Director Antonio Chávez Villalobos.The results of the investigation available at FECOP’s website show that most of the fishing sector believes INCOPESCA does not represent their interests.“The proposals mostly seek to improve and strengthen INCOPESCA,” Chávez said, adding that the group hopes officials from the Environmental Tribunal and the Environment Ministry will consider implementing the plan.Among the proposals are a change of the composition of INCOPESCA’s board of directors, which currently is dominated by representatives from the commercial fishing and export sector (75 percent of the board’s members are from this sector). It also calls for more governmental participation in the agency to prevent one sector from making all the decisions.“INCOPESCA’s decisions should be tailored to the interests of the country and not favor just one sector,” Chávez said.Last year the administration of President Laura Chinchilla (2010-2014) proposed a bill for eliminating INCOPESCA’s board of directors and leaving administration to the agency’s managers. The proposal received support from various environmental groups, but it lacked enough support for approval in the Legislative Assembly.FECOP’s plan seeks greater technical and scientific input in INCOPESCA’s decision-making process, more strategic planning, and a streamlining of the agency’s management.Another proposal seeks to change the management of the tuna fishing industry, including an elimination of free fishing licenses, charging by the ton and maintaining fishing license rates up-to-date.The plan also proposes measures to improve coordination with the Public Security Ministry and the Coast Guard to enforce laws and provide security. Facebook Comments Related posts:Small-scale fishermen team up to better protect coastal, marine resources Stop giving away free tuna fishing licenses, says NGO Solís signs tuna fishing decree, but will it help Costa Rica’s oceans? New study: Costa Rica is giving away its fishing wealthlast_img read more

Finding a green Costa Rican Christmas tree

first_imgIn Costa Rica, the Christmas season always brings tamales, eggnog, presents and lights. It also means enormous amounts of waste, as it does around the world. Leftover food and discarded wrapping paper all makes it way into the trash, but one of the biggest holiday eco-threats comes not from holiday excess, but rather the traditional Christmas tree.“There is nothing strictly wrong with having a Christmas tree,” said Jorge Polimeni, head of the Costa Rican conservation organization Costa Rica Neutral, “but the number of trees bought each year generates a pretty significant impact on the planet.”According to Protti, acres of land throughout the mountainous provinces of San José and Heredia are cordoned off all year long to fill the sudden demand for pine trees come December. Worldwide, studies have linked Christmas tree farms to stream pollution, soil contamination and a reduction in the amount of arable land available for agriculture, all to produce a product that is only used for a few weeks.Despite these issues, Christmas tree farms generate a much smaller impact than other forms of agriculture, and buying a real tree has been proven to have a much smaller ecological footprint than purchasing a fake plastic one produced in a factory. The real problem with a natural tree is not in its production, but its disposal. Stuck in a landfill, the carbon footprint of a standard-sized tree is about 16 kg. Burning or composting a tree generates less carbon, but still makes an impact.So, how can you still celebrate this Christmas tradition without generating an impact?Polimeni recommends using a potted tree as a Christmas tree, keeping it alive for years to be re-used. For those without the green thumb required to keep a tree alive, a business in Cartago, East of the capital, has come up with another solution.“It worries us all the time that Christmas comes and everyone buys a pine tree and then everyone throws it away,” said Maria Alexandra Sanchéz, owner of Re-inventando Muebles in Cartago, east of the capital. “We wanted to do something ecological and use it over and over.”Traditional plastic trees sometimes use harmful chemicals, and the factory processes used to create them often consume large amounts of electricity. To avoid these problems, Sánchez has created a line of trees using only reclaimed and recycled wood. She and her daughter scour roadsides and abandoned houses or buy used pallets from companies planning to burn them.“This is just our little contribution to this bigger problem,” she said. “It’s just a little grain of sand in a whole beach, but we hope it can help the planet.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Dancer who lost a leg in Boston Marathon bombing finds solace in Costa Rican scuba diving Former US President Bill Clinton lauds Costa Rica, urges students to make most of their futures Costa Rica’s climate pledge: 5 things to know Tire mosquito trap could boost Zika controllast_img read more

7 injured in Limón bar shootout involving at least one AK47 assault

first_imgA shootout in front of a bar in the city of Limón in the early hours of Monday morning left seven Costa Rican men injured, including a 19-year old, according to a statement from the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ). Police suggested that the firefight was likely drug related.At approximately 3:50 a.m., two vehicles approached the bar El Caracol in downtown Limón, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. Servers told the group that the bar was closing, and when they walked back to their vehicles, a third vehicle approached. The vehicle stopped and at least three passengers got out and opened fire. Passengers from the other cars fired back, leaving seven injured. OIJ agents found several types of bullet casings at the scene, including some from an AK-47 assault rifle and a 9 mm handgun.A 19-year-old man surnamed Porras was shot in the right foot; a 39-year-old man surnamed Hernández was hit on several parts of his body; and another man surnamed Morales, 26, was shot in the chest. Four more were also injured in the shootout. They were identified with the last names of Reyes, 25, Dobrosky, 31, Michel, 27, and González, 32.Police are investigating the incident. Facebook Comments Related posts:Top Limón judge arrested on suspicion of collaborating with drug traffickers Police nab flat-screen TV shoplifter Motorcycle duo shoots U.S. businessman in Escazú suburb of San José, Costa Rica Boozy bandit tries to steal $50,000 ambulance in Costa Ricalast_img read more

Dub sounds in Costa Rica Mad Professor and Mad Elaine

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rican band Zòpilot! performs for the last time tonight at Cine Magaly The band plays on: “Summer Series” serenades Plaza de la Democracia Concert explores roots of traditional Caribbean music Radio Hit celebrates its fifth anniversary tonight at Hoxton Pub Mad Professor brings his sound to Costa Rica, starting tonight. (Via Facebook)When I sent a note to the artist known as Mad Professor on his Facebook page asking for an interview, I expected to get a response from an intern sitting in front of a computer at Ariwa Sounds, his studio in London, England. Instead, Mad Professor responded himself.Why was I so surprised? Well, we’re talking about someone who has made more than 300 albums – a scientist of sound who travels the world supplying dance floors with a magic that sweeps you up, takes you out of your body and into your soul. Mad Professor, who will be performing in Costa Rica from Dec. 11-18,  brings with him a deep sense of groove rooted in the reggae tradition and constantly expanding to embrace new styles. He was born in Guyana, a country that has produced creative minds like those of activist Walter Rodney and poet Martin Carter: men who combine a Caribbean sensibility with a global consciousness while keeping Africa in the heart.Mad Professor has brought his production, mixing, dubbing and engineering talents to collaborations with artists such as Lee Scratch Perry, Luciano, Sade, Massive Attack, Sly and Robbie, Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys, Jamiroquai and many others. He has an enormous discography that continues to grow and touch multiple generations. As I prepared for the interview, I listened to hours of Mad Professor’s music, and my body never stopped moving. In “Solar System,” Mad Professor uses violins playing Eastern scales, mixing elements of classical music with roots reggae and jazz. “Ska Land” is a downtempo ska tune that kept me bouncing from the first to last note.Joining Mad Professor on the Costa Rican tour will be Mad Elaine, an artist based in Italy who has been working with Mad Professor since 2005, as well as with talented Costa Ricans; she recently collaborated with one of Costa Rica’s favorite reggae bands, Un Rojo. I spoke with both in separate conversations. Excerpts follow. Get ready. (Via Facebook)What is it in your approach to music that has allowed you stay relevant since the 1980s, when you music first appeared on the scene?MP: I try to keep my mind in tune with technology while also tuning into social problems.You make music with your sons. How have you managed to create that kind of relationship?MP: Yes, I work with Joe and Kamal. Both of them were visiting the studios from when they were months old. It’s the natural thing to work with your sons.Marcus Garvey’s first stop outside of Jamaica was Limón, Costa Rica. You are very dedicated to the concept of returning to Africa both physically and mentally. Why is that important to you?MP: My generation, when we were kids, was the first to embrace Africa as our homeland. This gave us a lot of strength when dealing with the day to day racist London.You have new music out with Lee Scratch Perry on your Ariwa Sounds label. The album is called “Black Ark Classics in Dub.” Can you tell us a bit about your connection with Lee Scratch Perry as fellow artists and the evolution of your work together over the years?MP: We first met in 1983, and we meet every few years we to come up some fresh ideas. Lee is a very creative person.Mad Elaine, sometimes your name appears as Mad Elaine and other times as Madeline. Is this the name of an individual, a band or both?ME: Mad Elaine is my artistic name and the name of my musical projects.You have a great new song out called “Roots Man” with Kumary Sawyers and Un Rojo. Is this your first collaboration with them, and can we expect more?ME: All the musicians in my band are Ticos. I recorded an EP called “Roots Man;” some of the musicians are from Un Rojo.This was an opportunity to bring them to the studio to record. Kumary participated in all of my songs as a backing vocalist and is featured on the song named “Yemanjay Oxun.”What is the greatest lesson you have learned working with Mad Professor?ME: The greatest lesson for me was to remain humble. I tried to do my best in a relaxed way. Before, I just sang over tracks that were created by other producers; now I produce my own music with a proper sound. I learned that from Mad Professor. He taught me the importance of having proper sound.Mad Professor will be performing with Mad Elaine on Dec. 11 at El Observatorio, San José; Dec. 12 at Bar Tsunami, Limón; Dec. 14 at Hotel Arrecife, Punta Uva; and Dec. 18 at Jualares, Alajuela. For full details visit the Costa Rica Tour 2015 Facebook page. Facebook Commentscenter_img Masauko Chipembere is a singer-songwriter who was born in Los Angeles while his parents were in exile from Malawi. He is  best known internationally for his work as part of the acoustic duo blk sonshine. He is a Nelson Mandela 46664 ambassador and was nominated for a South African music award in 2010. In 2014 he was given a Limón Roots award in Costa Rica for his unique musical contributions to the local scene. He lives in Heredia with his family. Check out his music here, or reach him through Facebook. last_img read more

Afghan forces also suffer from insider attacks

first_imgTo counter such attacks, the U.S. military earlier this year stopped training about 1,000 members of the Afghan Local Police, a controversial network of village-defense units. U.S. commanders have assigned some troops to be “guardian angels” who watch over their comrades even as they sleep. U.S. officials also recently ordered American troops to carry loaded weapons at all time, even when they are on their bases.Then, after a string of insider attacks, Allen this month restricted operations carried out alongside with small-sized Afghan units. Coalition troops have routinely conducted patrols or manned outposts with small groups of Afghan counterparts, but Allen’s directive said such operations would no longer be considered routine and required the approval of the regional commander.For their part, Afghan authorities have detained or removed hundreds of soldiers as part of its effort to re-screen its security forces. The Ministry of Defense also released a 28-page training booklet this month that advises soldiers not to be personally offended when foreign troops do things Afghans view as deeply insulting.The booklet urges them not to take revenge for foreign troops’ social blunders, such as blowing their noses in public, stepping into a mosque with their shoes on, walking in front of a soldier who is praying or asking about their wives. KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Afghan Army Sgt. Habibullah Hayar didn’t know it, but he had been sleeping with his enemy for weeks.Twenty days ago, one of his roommates was arrested for allegedly plotting an insider attack against their unit, which is partnered with NATO forces in eastern Paktia province.Afghan soldiers and policemen _ or militants in their uniforms _ have gunned down more than 50 foreign troops so far this year, eroding the trust between coalition forces and their Afghan partners. An equal number of Afghan policemen and soldiers also died in these attacks, giving them reason as well to be suspicious of possible infiltrators within their ranks. “Most of the coalition members are interested to share pictures of their families. It is not a big deal for them. If someone asks you about your family, especially the females in your family, don’t think they are disrespecting you or trying to insult you,” the booklet says.“That is not the case. By asking such questions, they are trying to show that they want to learn more about you. You can very easily explain to them that nobody in Afghanistan would ask, especially about wives or females in the family.”___Associated Press writers Amir Shah and Rahim Faiez in Kabul contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) “It’s not only foreigners. They are targeting Afghan security forces too,” said the 21-year-old Hayar, who was in Kabul on leave. “Sometimes, I think what kind of situation is this that a Muslim cannot trust a Muslim _ even a brother cannot trust a brother. It’s so confused. Nobody knows what’s going on.”The U.S.-led coalition said a NATO service member and an international civilian contractor were killed on Saturday in the latest such insider attack. The coalition said in a statement on Sunday that Afghan soldiers were also killed or wounded, but provided no other details about the attack in eastern Afghanistan.Insider attacks are taking a toll on the partnership, prompting the U.S. military to restrict operations with small-sized Afghan units earlier this month.The close contact _ with coalition forces working side by side with Afghan troops as advisers, mentors and trainers _ is a key part of the U.S. strategy for putting the Afghans in the lead as the U.S. and other nations prepare to pull out their last combat troops at the end of 2014, just 27 months away.The U.S. military also has shown increasing anger over the attacks.“I’m mad as hell about them, to be honest with you,” Gen. John Allen, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday. “It reverberates everywhere across the United States. You know, we’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign, but we’re not willing to be murdered for it.” Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement In at least one instance, an Afghan police officer with alleged ties to militants, killed 10 of his fellow officers on Aug. 11 at a checkpoint in southwestern Nimroz province. An Afghan soldier also was killed on April 25 when a fellow soldier opened fire on a U.S. service member and his translator in Kandahar province, the southern birthplace of the Taliban.Last year, a suicide bomber in an Afghan police uniform blew himself up May 28 in Takhar province, killing two NATO service members and four Afghans, including a senior police commander. And just a week before that, four Taliban fighters wearing suicide vests under police uniforms attacked a government building in Khost province, triggering a gunbattle that left three Afghan policemen and two Afghan soldiers dead. On April 16, an Afghan soldier walked into a meeting of NATO trainers and Afghan troops in Laghman province, blew himself up, killing five U.S. troops, four Afghan soldiers and an interpreter.“It’s difficult to know an attacker from a non-attacker when everybody is wearing a uniform, Hayar said.The attacker was one of seven people rounded up earlier this month from various units within the Afghan National Army Corps 203, Hayar said. The corps covers the eastern Afghan provinces of Paktia, Paktika, Ghazni, Wardak, Logar and Khost. Top Stories “He was together with me in my room with some of my other colleagues. He had a long beard. We didn’t know anything about him. We were living together, sleeping together,” said Hayar, who has been in the Afghan army for 2 1/2 years.He said the suspected infiltrator was identified after a Taliban militant arrested in Logar told his Afghan interrogators that members of the fundamentalist Islamic movement had infiltrated the corps and were planning imminent attacks. That prompted Hayar’s superiors to start questioning soldiers in various units.Hayar said his roommate’s uneasy reaction raised suspicion, and investigators found Taliban songs saved to the memory card of his cell phone. He was then detained by Afghan intelligence officials and confessed he was a member of the Taliban and planned to stage attacks.Hayar says he assumes his former bunkmate was probably going after foreign forces, but it makes him uncomfortable nevertheless.“It’s very hard to trust anybody _ even a roommate,” he said. “Whenever I’m not on duty, I lock my weapon and keep the key myself. I don’t put my weapon under my pillow to sleep because maybe someone will grab it and shoot me with my own weapon.” Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Comments   Share   So far this year, at least 52 foreign troops _ about half of them Americans _ have been killed in insider attacks. The Afghan government has not provided statistics on the number of its forces killed in insider attacks. However, U.S. military statistics obtained by The Associated Press show at least 53 members of the Afghan security forces had been killed as of the end of August.A U.S. military official disclosed the numbers on condition of anonymity because he said it was up to Afghan officials to formally release the figures. An Afghan defense official who was shown the statistics said he had no reason to doubt their accuracy.Overall, the statistics show that at least 135 Afghan policemen and soldiers have been killed in insider attacks since 2007. That’s more than the 119 foreign service members _ mostly Americans _ killed in such attacks since then, according to NATO.Typically, foreign troops are the main targets, but Afghan forces also have been killed by comrades angry over their collaboration with Westerners and many more get killed in the crossfire, Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi said. He said the ministry did not have a breakdown of how many had been targeted or killed in gunbattles during the attacks. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Sponsored Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

Czechs to rely more on nuclear energy

first_img The difference between men and women when it comes to pain U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co. and a consortium led by Russia’s Atomstroyexport are already bidding for the Temelin project.Some countries have shelved nuclear plans following last year’s disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant. Austria has said it will use all means to try to stop the construction at Temelin.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project PRAGUE (AP) – Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas says his government is finalizing a plan to dramatically increase the country’s nuclear power production.Under the plan, at least two more reactors would be built at the Temelin nuclear plant and another at the Dukovany plant, both located near the border with Austria.The Czech Republic’s current six nuclear reactors produce a third of its electricity. Necas said Thursday the government wants that output to increase to at least 50 percent. Top Stories center_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daylast_img read more

Rohingya seek better life in Malaysia but reality is stark

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia has been a sort of promised land for Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar. The tens of thousands who endured perilous journeys to get here find more work opportunities than in Indonesia and a more Muslim-friendly environment than in Thailand.But in the 25 years since Hamid Hussein Abul Khair arrived, that promise has been worn away by the statelessness and poverty that have never left him. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Check your body, save your life Hamid and his family have put in for resettlement in the U.S. or a third country through the UNHCR, but haven’t heard anything back. He holds out hope that his children might be granted citizenship in Malaysia.“I have spent half of my life here. I love Malaysia but after 25 years, what do I get? It’s OK for me, I am growing old but what about my children? I don’t want them to suffer like me,” he said. “Our hope now is to go to America where they can be citizens and get higher education.”Hamid’s views are echoed by many Rohingya families in Malaysia, who initially didn’t view resettlement as an option but now see it as the only way for their children to escape an impoverished future.Globally, only 80,000 refugees are resettled each year, with the U.S. taking about 70 percent of them. Refugees from Myanmar make up the largest group, followed by Iraq, Congo and Somalia. But many of those from Myanmar are ethnic Chins who are Christians and English-speaking.Apart from the U.S., most other countries are not eager to take in Rohingya Muslims amid concerns that they could not integrate successfully because of religious values, community structures and language issues, said Towle of the UNHCR. “Rohingya have not featured very significantly in numbers in resettlement programs apart from the last few years but the numbers are increasing,” he said.Towle urged Malaysia to consider giving Rohingya protected status and work permits, which could help plug gaps in the workforce.“If you allow people who are going to be here anyway the right to work, you will flush them out of the gray economy and they will be more dignified contributors to Malaysia,” he said.But Malaysia fears that allowing refugees to stay permanently will just encourage more to come.Hamid said his family cried when they watched scenes of the scrawny Rohingya boat people on television. He said he has told his relatives in Myanmar not to come to Malaysia, mainly because of the risks of the sea journey and mistreatment by traffickers.“Many people have died at sea due to being beaten, starvation or illness. It’s suicidal to come here,” he said. “It’s better to die in your homeland than at sea.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Rohingya face a tenuous existence here, unable to legally work because Malaysia, like Thailand and Indonesia, doesn’t recognize asylum seekers and refugees and has not signed the U.N. Refugee Convention. They mostly scrape by on dirty or dangerous jobs shunned by Malaysians, live in squalid conditions and have no access to free health care and state-run schools.For many Rohingya, even living on the margins of Malaysian society is a step forward. But those who have been here for years yearn for something better — at least for their children.“God willing, we can make a living here. We are thankful to Malaysia but what future do we have? My children can’t get citizenship, they have no formal education and they can’t get proper jobs,” Hamid, 54, said in his austere apartment on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.Denied citizenship by Myanmar and chased off their land in repeated outbreaks of communal violence, the 1.3 million Rohingya there have been identified by the U.N. as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities. Some 140,000 have been displaced from their homes, and many live in camps. Myanmar regards them as illegal migrants from Bangladesh, even though many have lived in the country for generations. In this May 21, 2015 photo, Azimah Mohd Jalil, 15, a Rohingya girl, poses for a photo outside her classroom at a Rohingya Education Center in Klang, Malaysia. With more work opportunities than Indonesia and a more Muslim-friendly environment than Thailand, Malaysia has long been the destination of choice for Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) Sponsored Stories The desperation of the Rohingya has been highlighted in recent weeks by boatloads of people from Myanmar and Bangladesh stranded in Malacca Strait waters after their traffickers abandoned them near the end of risky 1,700-kilometer (1,000-mile) voyages amid a clampdown by local authorities. Some 3,500 came ashore in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, but many of those now at shelters say their goal was to get to Malaysia.Nearly 46,000 Rohingya in Malaysia have been registered as refugees by the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, and there are an estimated 40,000 more whose status has yet to be assessed. Obtaining a U.N. refugee card generally protects people from arrest.The economic prosperity, Islamic culture and the large population of Rohingya in Malaysia are all pull factors.“Malaysia is a modern Muslim urban society, with a booming construction business and economy. As a place of income, it’s many times better than where they come from. In terms of security, although it’s not easy with risks of arrests and exploitation, it’s still significantly better than what they have left behind,” said Richard Towle, the UNHCR representative in Malaysia.Refugees from Myanmar make up the biggest chunk of the more than 150,000 asylum seekers and refugees in Malaysia, one of the highest numbers in Asia, according to the UNHCR. The country has no refugee camps, so they live as “urban refugees” in shantytown settlements, cramped low-cost flats or isolated houses where they work on construction sites, restaurants, factories and plantations. Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Nurjan Nur Mohamad, an 18-year-old Rohingya woman who arrived in Malaysia two months ago after a dangerous boat journey, said that while she is afraid of getting arrested, she is also extremely relieved to have left behind the threats and violence of Myanmar.“I live in fear of the police here, but there is peace and I get enough food. It’s so much better than in the village,” she said. She hopes she and her new husband can win refugee status from the UNHCR to get some protection.When he first arrived in Malaysia at age 29, Hamid also was constantly afraid of getting caught by police. He took up various odd jobs and then set up a small food stall selling roti canai, a popular Indian flatbread, and potato samosa. Later, his wife joined him in Malaysia and they had four children. Life became more tolerable when they were recognized as refugees by the UNHCR, but the future was — and is — still murky.He worries most about his children. The younger two attend a community school for Rohingya refugees funded by a local Muslim group. They learn to speak the Malay language, Islamic studies and other subjects. His 11-year-old son wants to be a doctor and youngest daughter a professor, he said. 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

House panel issues subpoena in spat with White House

first_img Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories Parents, stop beating yourself upcenter_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Sponsored Stories WASHINGTON (AP) — The GOP-controlled House Foreign Affairs Committee has issued a subpoena to the White House budget office about a new State Department security training facility.At issue is the administration’s plan to build a brand new facility at a military base in Virginia, rather than a potentially less costly project at an existing law enforcement training center in Georgia that’s run by the Department of Homeland Security. Republicans suspect that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget believes that using the Georgia facility would cost significantly less.The panel, chaired by California Republican Rep. Ed Royce, asked for White House studies regarding the two projects but was refused. That prompted the subpoena, which demands documents and cost studies by Tuesday afternoon.Royce said in a statement that OMB staff has told his aides that the budget agency recommended going with the Georgia option, but the Obama administration has apparently ignored the analysis.“I am disappointed that OMB hasn’t provided the committee its analysis so that the Congress can make informed and responsible policy decisions in this critical area,” Royce said. “In light of OMB’s continued refusal, I am left with no choice but to issue this subpoena.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

Obama draws sharp contrasts with mean Republicans

first_img Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center “That’s an interesting bunch,” Obama said.Obama said there’s more to be done to increase workers’ wages despite the U.S. unemployment rate hitting a seven-year low of 5.3 percent in June. He said the overtime rule would help by making up to 5 million more people eligible for pay at the rate of time-and-a-half.Obama said his administration’s focus on reviving U.S. manufacturing, spending on education and cutting taxes is boosting America’s middle class. The Republican philosophy of giving breaks to the wealthy in hopes that benefits will “trickle down” to others is an outdated idea that doesn’t work, he said, adding that the proof was “right here in Wisconsin.”Without naming Walker, Obama criticized his economic policies, listing the repeal of a statewide fair pay law, Walker’s clashes with labor unions and education spending cuts. He compared Wisconsin to neighboring Minnesota, where the Democratic governor has increased taxes on higher incomes and moved to raise the minimum wage and expand Medicaid coverage.“According to the Republican theory, all that kind of stuff would have been bad for the economy. But Minnesota’s unemployment rate is lower than Wisconsin’s. Minnesota’s median income is around $9,000 higher. … Minnesota’s winning this border battle.” LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — Wading into presidential politics, President Barack Obama on Thursday promoted his brand of middle-class economics by drawing sharp contrasts with “mean” Republicans in a state whose GOP governor was preparing to enter the vast 2016 presidential field.“They’re good people,” Obama said of Republicans. “It’s just their ideas are bad.”Obama leveled some of his sharpest criticism of Republicans, who disagree with him on most matters, on the issue of health care exactly one week after the Supreme Court upheld a key component of the law and Obama declared it “here to stay.” Republicans in Congress have cast dozens of votes to repeal the law, and they have vowed to keep trying.“Every single one of them is still obsessed with repealing the Affordable Care Act, despite the fact that by every measure it’s working,” Obama said. “It just seems a little mean to say that you don’t want to provide coverage” to millions of people who’ve gained it under the law “and you got nothing to replace it with.”“That’s a bad idea,” the president said.Republicans countered that Obama was resorting to attacks because he’s the one short on good ideas.“It’s no surprise all President Obama has left are partisan attacks after spending the last six and a half years presiding over the weakest economic recovery in modern history and a declining middle class,” Republican Party spokesman Michael Short said.Obama traveled to Wisconsin to tout a Labor Department proposal that would make more salaried workers eligible for overtime pay. The move is strongly supported by organized labor, a traditional Democratic ally that parted with Obama over his push for a free-trade pact with Asia-Pacific countries. Walker tweeted after Obama had departed: “Looks like Obama & @TheDemocrats are after me again but recent history shows they’re in for a fight.”___This story has been corrected to show that the name of the institution is the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, not the University of Madison at La Crosse.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.center_img 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Despite forceful opposition by labor that led most Democrats to abandon Obama on trade, he won “fast track” authority for the pending trade deal with support from Republicans, who are more supportive of trade. Congress would be able to approve or reject the trade agreement, but not change or delay it.The legislative win kicked off a strong stretch for the lame-duck president, including Supreme Court rulings on health care and affirming gay marriage nationwide.Obama told the 2,000-plus-person crowd at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse that it’s been “a remarkable few weeks in America.”The president was greeted at the airport by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who teased his expected entry into the presidential race on social media. Walker made a national name for himself by fighting labor unions. By landing in Wisconsin, Obama signaled his solidarity with organized labor.He also couldn’t resist poking fun at a GOP presidential field that will reach 15 with Walker’s formal entry.“We’ve got some healthy competition in the Democratic Party but I’ve lost count of how many Republicans are running,” he said, adding that the GOP has enough to put on an actual “Hunger Games.” Comments   Share   Men’s health affects baby’s health too Sponsored Stories last_img read more

Insight into Egypt reveals desire to travel in 2010

first_imgWhile a number of travel agents reported that Egypt represents up to 20 percent of their overall sales; just six percent of respondents agreed that Egypt is a large to very large market out of Australia. However, when asked if they thought the Egyptian market was growing, almost three quarters of the respondents (67 percent) answered in the affirmative. Lorraine Sharp, managing director, Insight Vacations said, “The discrepancy between the industry’s perception of the Egyptian travel market, and actual consumer interest, can largely be attributed to the effect the GFC had on travel in general. “Subsequently, the return of consumer confidence that we are now starting to see explains the trade community’s strong belief that the market is growing.” The survey also revealed the potential for agents to tap into the surrounding destination markets, with 50 percent of travellers revealing that they would like to add a visit to Greece onto a holiday to Egypt, followed by the UK/Europe (47 percent), Turkey (41 percent) and Jordan (34 percent.)52 percent of respondents revealed that safety was the most important factor to clients booking a holiday to Egypt. According to the survey, the second most important factor was itinerary (31 percent) , while price was listed as the least important factor (just 9 percent).Ms. Sharp said, “With safety and a details itinerary so high on the list of consumer holiday priorities, it’s hardly surprising that over 90 percent of agents recommend escorted holidays to their clients.“Travelling be escorted tour ensures clients are well looked after by an experienced tour director, who understands the cultural landscape of Egyptian society and has knowledge of the local area.“It also guarantees that clients will receive a well-rounded experience in Egypt, encompassing all the best sights and highlights, plus optional extras for optimum flexibility.”Insight’s 2010 Ancient Civilizations program offers 27 itineraries to Egypt and its surrounding regions. 86 percent of consumers expressed their desire to travel to Egypt in Insight Vacations’ 2010 Insight into Egypt survey. The company report surveyed 697 travel agents to examine their knowledge of Egypt as a travel destination, their clients’ needs and their opinions of Insight Vacations’ range of holidays in Egypt. Jen and Lorraine from Insight Vacationscenter_img Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img read more

Tourism Australia Launch phase two ad campaign today

first_imgToday Tourism Australia launched the second phase of their campaign – There’s nothing like Australia. The campaign calls on Australians to share their Aussie holiday experiences online in a new domestic tourism push.Nominating their friends and family, as their “Aussie holiday dream team”, people are invited to upload videos, images and stories to the www.nothinglikeaustralia.com.au website. A prize pool, worth more than half a million dollars including a $5 Sony music voucher for each entry, Qantas flights and 16 luxury Lodges of Australia accommodation packages are on offer.The campaign starts from the 16th September through till 30th November 2011.Geoff Dixon Chairman of Tourism Australia said the Australian domestic tourism industry remains very strong and has bounced back after a few flat years. Today is about reminding our fellow Australians of the quality tourism experiences our country has to offer. This campaign is about getting Australian’s to consider a dream holiday experience in their own backyard.Martin Ferguson, Minister for Tourism said despite the industry having had its challenges including the strong Aussie dollar and natural disasters there are positive signs for the tourism industry with further potential domestically and internationally.Last year Tourism Australia asked Australians to share their Australian holiday experiences in phase 1 of the campaign. 30,000 experiences were submitted online and were used to build an interactive map for holiday inspiration. Phase 2 encourages Aussies to enjoy these holidays in Australia. Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said this campaign is rallying cry for the people of Australia to tell each other why Australian holidays are so good! Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy Geoff Dixon Chairman of Tourism Australia Martin Ferguson Minister for Tourism Source = e-Travel Blackboard: R.Mlast_img read more

Queensland tourism poised for vintage year

first_imgQueensland tourism poised for vintage yearQueensland tourism operators are predicting a vintage year for the state’s $23 billion tourism industry as established destinations, new attractions and the Australian dollar lure greater numbers of domestic and international travellers to the Sunshine State.The prediction comes as Queensland’s peak tourism body, the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC), celebrates its 15th birthday and reflects on the future of state’s second largest export.Today, the state’s tourism industry accounts for one-in-eight registered businesses and one-in-ten workers.QTIC Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind, who was also celebrating 15 years at the organisation’s helm, said Queensland’s tourism businesses had evolved into a diverse, dynamic and professional industry that was poised for further growth.“Queensland needs to be proud of its tourism achievements and of the 51,400 tourism operators stretching across the entire state from Coolangatta to the Cape,” he said.“They not only delight local and international visitors every day but play a significant role in protecting our natural environments, preserving our unique cultures and fostering future generations of Queenslanders,” he said.“Looking at the year ahead, all signs point to a very strong year for the Queensland industry, building on the global exposure received from the G20 Summit and leading up to the Commonwealth Games in 2018.”Mr Gschwind said QTIC was committed to championing the value tourism by working closely with tourism operators and governments.“As an industry we can never rest on our laurels and there will always be opportunities and challenges that we need to focus on. By working collaboratively we can ensure all Queenslanders directly or indirectly benefit from tourism,” he said.“Some of QTIC’s recent important projects include the Tourism Indigenous Employment Champions Network and highlighting the role tourism plays in monitoring and protecting the Great Barrier Reef.”“We would like to take this opportunity to show our sincere gratitude to the industry’s leaders, businesses and representatives for their support during the past 15 years. They have helped QTIC achieve its work on behalf of its members and the state of Queensland.”QTIC is the peak industry body for tourism in Queensland, acting as “The Voice of Tourism”. QTIC is a private sector, membership-based organisation representing the interests of the tourism and hospitality industry across Queensland. Queensland Tourism Industry CouncilSource = Queensland Tourism Industry Councillast_img read more

More than just Turkey

first_imgSource = roomsXML More than just TurkeyMarcus Falay is living proof that travel agents can prosper outside of the retail space.  I met Marcus about five years ago at a networking group, identified a mutual friend and as he works around the corner, we regularly catch up and discuss business, innovation and entrepreneurship.Being a Turkish native with family still in Turkey, Marcus spent years putting together one of the most audacious plans for the hundred year anniversary of Gallipoli in 2015. He then took a year “off” to grow the wholesale side of the business.His next direction? Read on….So last year you put a few hundred people on a boat in Gallipoli…. How did that go?It was just about 600 people who we treated to a centennial experience of a lifetime.Of the 600, nearly 200 Lucky Ballot holders made it to Anzac Cove itself, while the remaining guests had their very own, live-feed Anzac Dawn Service at the waters of Gallipoli onboard the Luxury Azamara Journey. Former Governor Generals of Australia & NZ, Dr Peter Hollingworth and Sir Anand Satyanand were onboard during the service, and in turn serenaded by world famous Soprano Dame Malvina Major sang WW2 songs .So if this doesn’t cement you as a Turkey expert, nothing will. But you’ve decided to broaden your horizons?For years we have specialised in Turkey in Small Group Tours, F.I.T and gulets. Business is grown via referrals, we started wholesaling because of volume that we could generate with us and our customers. Returning happy clients often ask us if we do the same to other destinations.So today, we’ve taken the experience and extended our Small Group and F.I.T. travel arrangements.Turkey is always our number one destination but we are extending to cover some of the Silk Road including Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Morocco, Jordan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.A wholesaler that retails… How do you earn the trust of travel agents who might be dubious?We have developed unique systems to ensure that agents are feeling protected 1) T.A.P.S (Travel Agency Protection Scheme) Travel agents may refer their clients to us and we will take care of all the arrangements. Upon final payment from clients, we send the FULL commission to the referring agent. This cost agents nothing 2) The More You Book The More You Earn is a simple way of earning more commission and our way of saying thank you for staying loyal with us.Per Calendar Yearfirst booking is 12% commissionnext 13%the one after 14% and so son.Your fifth of more booking is capped at 16% commission with us.So if Turkey and beyond is the word, how are you spreading the word?We run special deals, some of our tours and destinations get seasonal discounts and commission boosts. We also offer tour leader options to our agents if they wish to put their very own exclusive itinerary just for their agency.Return airfares and cost of tour is included, so a famil without any taxes and surcharge costs. roomsXML.comdiscover more here Connect TodayroomsXML.com center_img roomsXML connect today here www.roomsxml.comlast_img read more