Travelweek Group Share Tuesday, June 13, 2017 GENEVA — Growth in premium passenger traffic has exceeded its economy counterpart in many key markets in the past year, according to the latest stats from IATA.IATA’s Airlines Financial Monitor for May 2017 shows premium airfares have generally held up better than those in the economy cabin. In only two of the main premium markets (Europe – Asia and North and Mid Pacific) are premium fares underperforming economy. Premium traffic accounted for 27.2% of total passenger revenues in Q1 2017, up from 26.4% a year ago.Overall, global passenger volumes grew by 10.7% in year-on-year terms in April – the fastest pace in six years, said IATA.Global airline share prices performed strongly in May, surging 7.8% to be up more than 20% over the past year. Gains were observed in all three regions (North America, Asia Pacific and Europe), but European airline shares led the way again this month, with a 14.3% rise.More news: Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesThe latest financial results for Q1 provide further evidence of the squeeze on airline profit margins, reflecting higher costs and weak yields. Industry-wide free cash flow also eased in Q1, compared with the outcome in Q1 2016.The fall in oil prices in April extended into May and despite some recovery, the monthly average price fell almost 4%. Jet fuel prices behaved in a similar fashion and were down 5.6% for the month overall, said IATA.Passenger yields remain 3-5% lower than a year ago amidst ongoing signs that the downward trend in yields of the past three years may have bottomed. Strong premium class traffic fuelling growth for airlines: IATA Posted by Tags: IATA, Trend Watch << Previous PostNext Post >>
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Posted by ABU DHABI — Better information sharing and coordination on security measures among governments and with the industry is essential, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, in a keynote address to the IATA AVSEC World Conference in Abu Dhabi.“The failure to share information among states manifests itself in many ways. The differing responses by governments to the threats that resulted in this year’s ban on Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) on some routes by the US and UK is an example of the confusion that can result,” said de Juniac.“Governments and the industry are partners in aviation security. Airlines have operational know-how. Governments have the financial and intelligence resources. We have to put them together effectively in a continuous dialogue focused on improving security.”No one can predict the next security challenge but “our common defense is stronger when governments and industry work together,” he said. “And if we can avoid long term extraterritorial measures, focus on global standards, share information and develop technology efficiently, our hand is strengthened even further.”More news: Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portalGovernments must avoid the long-term use of extraterritorial measures and ensure that airlines are not left to bear the financial brunt of unplanned expenses for an indeterminate period, he added.“Threats to aviation are real. And we understand that sometimes unilateral additional measures of an extraterritorial nature may be unavoidable. But these cannot be long-term solutions and airlines should not be caught in the middle, picking up the pieces and bearing unplanned expenses for an indeterminate period when governments cannot agree on measures needed for the security of their citizens.”The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirement that airlines conduct interviews with passengers flying to the US is an example of an extraterritorial requirement, he said. “Such interviews are traditionally done by government authorities. In the short term airlines may seem to be the best positioned to conduct the interviews. But in the long-term, if governments believe that these interviews are critical, then governments themselves should work together to dedicate the resources needed to fulfill that function.” Lessons to be learned from laptop ban, says IATA Share Tags: IATA
Crystal marks construction milestone for new Crystal Endeavor Set to debut in 2020, Crystal Endeavor will be the largest purpose-built Polar Class ship featuring Crystal’s all-suite butler-serviced accommodations and celebrated service.More news: Hotel charges Bollywood star $8.50 for two bananas and the Internet has thoughts“We look forward to this innovative expedition yacht with great anticipation in the Stralsund shipyard,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay. “A highlight is our investment of over 20 million euros in new equipment so that the Stralsund shipyard will be able to continue to build cruise ships efficiently in the future.”Crystal is on track for major expansion over the next five years, with the addition of Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel river ships in addition to Crystal Endeavor. Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, January 16, 2018 Posted by Travelweek Group Tags: Crystal Cruises MIAMI — Crystal celebrated a major milestone in Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises’ expansion, with the steel cutting of Crystal Endeavor in Stralsund, Germany.At the official ceremony at MV WERFTEN Shipyard on Jan. 15, Crystal president and CEO tom Wolber was joined by Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman and CEO of Crystal’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong (GHK); Colin Au, group president of GHK; Jarmo Laakso, CEO of MV WERFTEN; and local dignitaries Harry Glawe, Economics Minister of the State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and Dr. Alexander Badrow, Lord Mayor of Stralsund.“Today is a special day in the development of Crystal Endeavor, which will introduce the next level of exploration for the Crystal brand,” Wolber said. “We are pleased to collaborate again with the experts at MV WERFTEN as we work toward a vision for Crystal Endeavor that truly embodies the spirit of discovery of Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises.”
Tags: Contest, TPI Share Tuesday, June 19, 2018 Posted by Travelweek Group TPI announces grand prize winner of travel agent month contest TORONTO – Travel Professionals International (TPI) has announced the winner of its travel agent month contest with Norwegian Cruise Line.Monique Powell, a member of the TPI family since July 2011, has won a cruise for two aboard Norwegian Cruise Line. The month-long contest also included daily prize giveaways.According to Zeina Gedeon, CEO of TPI, the contest was designed to honour its network and celebrate its advisors. “We would like to congratulate Monique and thank all our advisors for participating in the contest,” she added. << Previous PostNext Post >>
Carnival Corp. is moving these two Costa ships to China Travelweek Group Tags: Carnival Corporation, China, Costa Cruises << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, November 6, 2018 Share MIAMI — Two ships are leaving the Costa fleet and heading to China to serve that country’s growing cruise market.The first of these ships, the 85,861-ton, 2,210-passenger Costa Atlantica, is scheduled to be transferred by the end of 2019. Costa Atlantica’s sister ship, the 2,114-passenger Costa Mediterranea, will be transferred at a date still to be announced.Both ships are heading to a new Chinese cruise division, CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Limited, the result of a new joint venture between Costa Cruises’ parent company Carnival Corp. and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC). “The official launch of our cruise joint venture in China is a significant milestone in the strategic development of a strong and sustainable cruise industry in China,” said Arnold Donald, CEO, Carnival Corporation. “Together with our partners, we are excited about our ability to launch a new cruise line in China based on existing ships and new China-built cruise ships tailored for Chinese travellers.” Posted by
From the print editionTAMARINDO, Guanacaste – Every year, millions of tourists descend on Costa Rica, a country about the size of the U.S. state of Vermont, to soak up the sun, explore protected rain forests and catch a glimpse of wildlife most folks see only on postcards. Many of them, hoping to make the pura vida lifestyle their own, decide to take the great leap and move here permanently. Others with expendable income opt for a second home in Central America’s most thriving democracy. There are as many reasons for moving to Costa Rica as there are expats living here: Pensions stretch a little further, health care is affordable, it’s cheaper to build a home on a spectacular piece of land and the country has two coastlines just hours from the capital. But relocating to a developing country with its own language, customs and lifestyle can present unexpected challenges. Expats who’ve settled here and have committed to making Costa Rica their adopted home share a unique bond with the land and its people, and despite common frustrations among them, many say the rewards far outweigh the setbacks.“We take it for granted sometimes that there’s a killer ocean view in the home that I’m building. I look around and say, ‘You can’t get this in Buffalo, New York,’” says Rebecca Clower, a real estate broker, property manager and owner of Blue Water Properties, in the thriving beach town of Tamarindo, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.Clower, 34, the daughter of a U.S.-born father and Costa Rican mother, moved here from the United States with her husband, Keith Clower, in 2006, leaving behind a successful physical therapy business. The couples’ friends thought they were crazy, she says. Now with two kids, ages 2 and 4, Clower says her roots in Costa Rica are permanent.“It’s not for everybody, but I don’t have regrets about coming here. I miss [U.S. discount retailer] Target, but none of the negatives outweigh the positives. I don’t have to deal with traffic. I have one stop sign on the way to my house. I wouldn’t be able to afford this lifestyle back in the U.S.,” she says.Clower does have a piece of advice for those contemplating relocation: “People need to have a plan. It can be modest, but you need to have a plan. A lot of people come here and think this is a Utopia, but unless you’re really changing your style of living, it costs money to live here.”Having a roadmap is essential, as Clower notes, but sometimes not having a plan works, too. Joe Walsh, for example, didn’t have a set plan. Before he started Witch’s Rock Surf Camp, a thriving do-it-yourself business in Tamarindo, surfer and former art student Walsh drove to Costa Rica from California in a bus in 2001 (see story, Page W1).Says Walsh: “I came down here to find a way to surf every day. I didn’t think I’d be building anything. I just thought I’d have a surf shack on the beach. Who makes money being a surfer?” But in a decade, Walsh and his wife, Holly, grew the business, added a restaurant and bar and built a hotel, with a little help from former online resource AskJeeves.com (now Ask.com), Walsh adds with a chuckle.The secret to the success of Witch’s Rock, Walsh notes, is tenacity, product and service quality and good pricing. “We under-promise and over-deliver so people come back again and again. And we created a community of people who come back,” Walsh says, turning to a nearby surfer and frequent camp guest.“Hey Pat, how many times you been to Witch’s?” Walsh asks. “Twelve,” Pat responds. “I knew it was more than 10.”Blending InCosta Rica also can be a great place to raise a family, say local expats.For real estate broker and northern California native Tony DiMaggio, 62, of real estate company El Tesoro de Tamarindo, moving to Costa Rica in 2001 with two teenage kids was the best bit of parenting he has done.“[My kids] were only seeing a slender slice of life back in the U.S.,” DiMaggio says. “Moving here made them worldly.”DiMaggio praises the private education his kids received: “We would not have moved here if it wasn’t for the educational opportunities. We talked to the principal of Country Day School for a long time, and that was one of the key factors in our decision to make Guanacaste our choice.”He was also drawn by Costa Rica’s natural beauty, weather and healthier lifestyle, in which fresh fruits and vegetables often substitute processed foods at the dinner table. “If you want to change your lifestyle and live a healthy life, I can’t imagine a better place to live and grow old gracefully in wonderful health than this place,” says DiMaggio, who starts each day with a morning swim in his 18-meter pool in the backyard.DiMaggio also notes that while it’s possible to survive in a multicultural community like Tamarindo without speaking much Spanish, learning the local language and culture is an important step to building ties in the community.“It’s important to learn to speak Spanish and show respect for the Costa Rican culture,” DiMaggio says. “But you can actually get by as an English-speaker and you don’t feel alienated.”Pitfalls and opportunityLike every developing country, Costa Rica isn’t without its problems. Buoyed by solid export and service sectors, the country’s economy also depends on tourism, which generated $2 billion in revenue last year, according to the Costa Rican Tourism Board. Until the 2008 global economic meltdown, one of the strongest industries to drive coastal expat communities was real estate.Following the downward trend in the U.S., Costa Rica’s real estate market began to tank in late 2008. Along many beach communities like Tamarindo, unfinished development projects loom as a constant reminder that luck can change almost overnight.Because of the real estate market crash and a marked drop in tourism (which has since shown signs of a modest recovery), several expats living here were left with few options but to pack up and move back home. For those who chose to stay, getting by was a struggle.Yet, as the economy slowly begins to show signs of recovery, expats who weathered the worst of the financial storm say their communities have emerged stronger, fortified by a common resilience to work together to stay in business.“[Before the economic crash,] you had all these buildings going up, and they couldn’t keep up with the infrastructure,” Clower says. A moratorium on new construction in the Tamarindo area that lasted for more than a year – in place to help protect the nearby Las Baulas National Marine Park – also took a heavy toll on development projects. “When the crisis happened, we also had the big Las Baulas decision, and everything here was halted. It was like a ghost town here for like a year and a half. And it really killed people. So many people packed their bags and left,” Clower says.But for those who remained, things would eventually begin to turn around. Newly paved roads, an expansion of the Daniel Oduber International Airport in the provincial capital of Liberia and rock-bottom real estate prices helped generate new demand in the U.S. and other regions, including Canada, Europe and South America.“I think confidence in the market helped a lot,” Clower says. “There were a ton of fire sales at one point. It has dropped off now; there aren’t as many deals as then, and as inventory declines, it drives up demand.”For investors, says DiMaggio, Costa Rica is still a buyer’s market, although prices are beginning to level off. “If you’re talking about the economics of the real estate market, somebody can buy my property for more than a half million dollars less than it would cost to build. And that doesn’t even account for the fact that it took more than four years of our lives to plan it, design it and go up there every single day during construction to examine it. So, the buying opportunities because of this market are just starting, the bottom’s in. This year’s better than last year, and it’s better than the last three years,” he says.In Tamarindo and nearby communities, amenities added in recent years help reassure buyers, such as dozens of restaurants, several doctor’s offices, new bank branches and supermarket chain Automercados (Tamarindo is the chain’s top-grossing supermarket).Preventing crimeAlthough Costa Rica registers fewer violent crimes than other Central American countries (with the exception of Nicaragua, which has the lowest crime rates on the isthmus), public security is one of the country’s greatest threats to development, and crime – especially in coastal expat and tourist communities – is a constant problem. Security expert Terry Anderson, 53, moved to Costa Rica’s Pacific coast in 2008, after selling a security company he founded in the U.S. as a teenager. Seeing a demand, Anderson applied his expertise locally and founded Force One, a small security company that helps homeowners build, install and maintain security systems. Home invasions are common throughout Costa Rica, particularly in coastal communities with high volumes of tourists and vacation and rental homes.“Our clients are a lot of [North] Americans and Europeans who are experiencing burglaries and robberies, so with new sophisticated electronics we’re trying to solve those problems. We’re a small company, but we keep busy. There’s lots of work here; the market’s pretty demanding,” Anderson says.Adding to the difficulties in dealing with crime, in many cases home invasions, burglaries, assaults and other attacks often go unpunished, as local police and the national Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) – tasked with investigating and prosecuting crime – are understaffed and underfunded. In Costa Rica, limited public security budgets are distributed based on the number of denuncias, or criminal complaints, a regional OIJ office receives. “Without denuncias being filed for crime, then there’s no crime,” Anderson says. For Tamarindo residents, the nearest OIJ office is in Santa Cruz, a half-hour drive on an unpaved and bumpy road. Because of the transient nature of tourism and the vacation rental market, the barrier of language and the difficulty in traveling to the nearest OIJ office, many crimes go unreported. Entire areas that may experience a string of crimes are left off the radar when public security officials prioritize resources, Anderson says.When criminals are apprehended, Anderson adds, often they are released within a few hours, and denuncias pile up on desks, taking weeks, months, or even years to make it into the hands of investigators.“Things that are stolen include laptops, cellphones and cutting-edge technology toys that the well-to-do bring here,” Anderson says. “The locals steal that because it’s so easy to sell in San José, Liberia, Heredia and other places.” Taking preventive measures is essential to help avoid becoming a victim, Anderson says. “Drive through Costa Rican towns and what do you see? You see homes with burglar bars, razor wire, barbed wire; their cars are parked in their houses, their gates are closed and they lock their stuff up,” Anderson says. “But people from the U.S. and so forth come and build these beautiful vacation homes, and what do they do? They build a completely open home without paying attention to the locals. Costa Ricans are advertising what you need to do to have a secure house.”After a few years, expats do begin to adapt and take steps to secure their homes and assets, he says. “The thing to consider is that when a carload of thieves is driving down the street, or a single thief is walking down the street and checking out your house, if it looks easy, he’s going to come back. If it looks daunting, he’s going to move on to the next house,” Anderson says.Anderson’s outspokenness on crime has caused some members of the community to label him a fearmonger, an accusation he brushes off by listing a series of recent home invasions in the area. “You just have to secure your house to the best of your abilities, because the infrastructure isn’t here yet,” he says.Like others who decided to stay in Tamarindo, despite the crime, Anderson doesn’t seem to have much to complain about.“Things are great here, business is good, the surf has been insane,” he writes in a recent email. “Went to Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point Friday and Sunday, and the surf on Sunday was 12’ to 14’ … absolutely incredible waves.” Facebook Comments Related posts:The beer revolution comes to Costa Rica Hangin’ with Joe Walsh at Witch’s Rock Volcano beer returns to the beach
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As unrest simmers in Caracas, a new crisis has erupted between Venezuela and the United States — yet another show of tension between two countries nevertheless bound by trade interests.Venezuela announced Sunday it was expelling three U.S. diplomats, accusing them of meeting with students leading two weeks of protests against the government of President Nicolás Maduro, successor of the late Hugo Chávez.Washington has said it is mulling a diplomatic response, and U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Venezuela to release detained protesters — earning renewed scorn from Caracas.Despite the rhetoric out of Venezuela, experts say economic realities minimize the threat of any serious disruption in ties.The ‘nationalist’ card When times get tough, it is convenient for the Caracas government to try to divert people’s attention with some old-fashioned nationalist chest-thumping, said Erick Langer, professor at the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University.“There are tremendous political troubles in Venezuela and the easiest thing for the Venezuelan government to do is to pull out the anti-imperialist-nationalist card,” he said.“Let them go conspire in Washington!” Maduro said Sunday, referring to the three consular officials declared personae non gratae.His government accuses the United States of maneuvering to “promote and legitimize efforts to destabilize” Venezuelan democracy — claims Washington has called “baseless and false.”Maduro’s bid to divert Venezuelans’ attention by blaming its northern ‘enemy’ is vintage Chávez, experts say.“They are returning to their central narrative. As the crisis mounts up they have to show that it is not the people rising against their economic incompetence but really a foreign-sponsored plot,” said Ray Walser, executive director at the Americas Forum.Protesters are angry over rampant street crime, shortages of basic goods, runaway inflation and an otherwise disastrous economy in the country with the world’s biggest proven oil reserves.So far, four people have died in violence linked to the protests, which are the biggest since Maduro was elected 10 months ago, after the leftist firebrand Chávez died of cancer.“One way to see how well the Maduro government is doing is to check and see what they say about the U.S.,” said Langer.U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday that Venezuela’s accusations “reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan government to deal with the grave situation it faces.”Walser said “the expulsion of more U.S. personnel is only going to deepen the divide between the U.S. and Venezuela.”The two countries have not traded ambassadors since 2010, and were at opposite ends of the international political spectrum during the Chávez era from 1999 to 2013.Venezuela is the main obstacle to President Barack Obama’s strategic and diplomatic policy in Latin America. Venezuela accuses the United States of behaving as if it were running an empire.And while the U.S. aligns itself with like-minded countries such as Colombia or Mexico, Venezuela leads an anti-U.S. regional bloc called ALBA.Money talks Still, political tension is one thing, but money talks. The United States continues to be Venezuela’s top buyer of oil, paying in cold hard cash for 900,000 barrels a day.State-run oil company PDVSA, through its subsidiary CITGO, has three refineries and more than 6,000 service stations in the United States, which in turn sells thousands of products to Venezuelan companies.Talk nasty but do business gladly — “it is a huge contradiction” that keeps the threat of severing relations at bay, said Langer.He added that the disagreements are “symbolic more than anything else” and the political and economic effect of the anti-U.S. bloc led by Venezuela is minimal for Washington.“The U.S. government has made a calculation that it is in the greater interest of the U.S. and of its consumers that it continue to receive Venezuelan oil than it is to sanction Venezuela. They don’t want to make Venezuela the martyr,” Langer said.Tense historyThe bad blood goes back to 2002 when a coup, which Caracas says was backed by Washington, briefly deposed Chávez.In a huge surprise, Chávez and President Barack Obama shook hands at a regional summit in 2009.But a year later, the designated U.S. ambassador to Venezuela made some comments that irked Chávez, who rejected the nominee before he even set foot in Caracas.On March 5 last year, shortly before announcing the death of Chávez, Maduro expelled two U.S. military attaches. That erased the State Department’s stated desire for a fresh start.There have been attempts at patching things up. But Caracas gave up in July after the now U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, criticized Venezuela.In late September, Maduro expelled three other U.S. diplomats, including the charge d’affaires, accusing them of conspiring with the opposition.Washington regularly criticizes how Venezuela treats opposition parties and the media.In the United States, “there is concern over the stability of a neighbor in our region which impacts important allies, particularly Colombia,” said Walser.That interest involves issues like security, drug trafficking and Venezuela’s ties with Havana and Tehran.Still, “the U.S. is not going to actually involve itself in the current crisis, but it has its eyes on what is happening there,” Walser said. Facebook Comments Related posts:Showdown looms for Venezuela, as protest leader Leopoldo López vows new march Why I support Nicolás Maduro Venezuelan cartoonist fired after sketch slamming health care Obama orders deeper Venezuela sanctions over abuses
Despite declarations from the executive branch that the Costa Rican government will not pursue geothermal electricity development in national parks, the office of governing Citizen Action Party (PAC) legislator Ottón Solís is working on a bill to allow it in three volcanic protected areas.The bill would address conservationists’ concerns over exploiting Rincón de la Vieja, Tenorio and Arenal national parks by developing geothermal capacity in the parks in conjunction with the National System of Conservation Areas, or SINAC, in a way that conforms to the conservation goals of the protected areas, said Rodolfo Cordero, an aide to lawmaker Solís.The bill would require the Costa Rica Electricity Institute, or ICE – which would develop the volcano’s geothermal electricity capacity – to compensate land used for the projects with land outside the parks.The land would not be sequestered by ICE as initially proposed, but rather remain in the hands of the Costa Rica National Park Service, which would assure that the projects continue to protect habitat.Conservationists have been particularly concerned about the sequestration of parkland for the precedent it would set for the entire national park system.The new plan would substitute a bill that was shelved in May 2014 amid an outcry by conservationists over plans by ICE to sequester 1,000 hectares of land inside Rincón de la Vieja National Park in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, which as part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Costa Rica lawmaker and Citizen Action Party co-founder Ottón Solis in a 2010 file photo. Mayela López/AFPPAC divisions?Interestingly, the new bill would run counter to declarations by Costa Rica’s President Luis Guillermo Solís that geothermal electricity generation in national parks is not currently on the table.The plan also would run counter to a letter written last April by Environment Vice Minister Irene Cañas to Kishore Rao, then-director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center, in response to Roa’s letter of concern over the plan to exploit Rincón de la Vieja.In the missive, Cañas said the bill permitting exploitation of the conservation area was conceived under the previous administration, and the Solís government gives no priority to presenting it during extraordinary session – when the executive branch sets the legislative agenda – beginning in December and running through April.“Also, the president of the republic has repeatedly and publicly indicated that his administration has no interest in promoting geothermic exploitation in national parks,” Cañas said. Related posts:Costa Rica signs first loan contract with Japan for new Guanacaste geothermal projects Delays, excuses and gripes mark approaching deadline for distributed electricity generation in Costa Rica Obama to adopt tough limits on greenhouse gases on Monday Hillary Clinton promises to be the US’ renewable energy president Cordero said the substitute text – being prepared by a subcommittee of the Legislative Assembly’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Commission – for the bill that was shelved should be ready for the legislature’s extraordinary session.Although the Solís administration is unlikely to present that bill during the extraordinary session, given the president’s avowed opposition to national park energy exploitation, it could be placed on the legislative docket when the 2016 ordinary session begins in April, Cordero said.Before his death last February, park service co-founder Álvaro Ugalde, who campaigned hard against the geothermal bill, had expressed his support for projects within national parks that are compatible with the park’s conservation objectives.“We would be stupid to say that there should be nothing, but [it should be] something minimal inside the park and in control of the park system in conjunction with ICE,” Ugalde told The Tico Times in April 2013. Costa Rica’s Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Google MapsUgalde led the effort to scotch the bill based on concerns that the sequestration of land inside Rincón de la Vieja would pose an existential threat to the entire park service system by setting a precedent leading to similar moves inside other national parks.Ugalde also complained that he had lobbied private foundations in the 1980s to fund the purchase of land in Rincón de la Vieja National Park with promises that the land would be protected in perpetuity. Facebook Comments
Related posts:Two ex-soldiers tried in Guatemala for sex slavery, murder Attorney general out in May, says Guatemala court Guatemala’s Pérez Molina clings to power despite unprecedented pressure to resign In Guatemala, Pérez Molina claims US conspiracy behind corruption prosecution GUATEMALA CITY — A groundbreaking sexual slavery trial that began in Guatemala on Feb. 1 seeks to expose the systematic rape of indigenous women that prosecutors say has been used by landowners and the armed forces for over a century to subdue native communities.The women were allegedly abducted and enslaved in 1982 under the dictatorship of Efraín Ríos Montt (1982-1983), at the height of the country’s 36-year civil war that pitted the Guatemalan army against leftist revolutionaries. The war, in which more than 200,000 people were killed or forcibly disappeared — mostly by state security forces and paramilitaries — ended with peace accords in 1996.The case is thought to be the first time ever, anywhere, that a national court is hearing charges of sexual slavery committed during an armed conflict. Prosecutors hope to gain reparations for the 11 women, set a precedent for prosecuting similar cases and raise awareness about the systemic nature of violence against women in Guatemala.Petrona Choc Cuc, 75, testified at the trial on Feb. 3 in her native Q’eqchi’ through an interpreter. “They [the soldiers] told us to go take a shower. Then a fat man came, he was the first one to rape us, then other smaller men came and raped us,” she said. “Many times I was raped. One of my daughters was raped, too. … Every day I suffer because of what they did to me.”Choc Cuc is one of 11 Mayan women from the tiny hamlet of Sepur Zarco, in the department of Izabal in eastern Guatemala, to describe during the ongoing trial how their homes were raided by soldiers from a nearby military outpost and how they were then enslaved, systematically raped and forced to cook and clean for their captors.Over 30 years after their alleged ordeal, the women have come face to face with two men accused of ordering their enslavement: former base commander Esteelmer Reyes Girón, 59, and former regional military commissioner Heriberto Valdez Asij, 74.Reyes and Valdez are accused of ordering and allowing the rapes. They’re also accused of enslavement, forced disappearance and murder of non-combatants — crimes considered “against humanity” and therefore exempt from Guatemala’s 1996 amnesty law. The law prohibits prosecution for political crimes committed during the war but does not include genocide and crimes against humanity.Another woman who testified said that at the time of her ordeal she searched for Reyes and begged him to put an end to the repeated rape she was suffering by soldiers. She said he did nothing to stop his subordinates and told her, “Maybe you want it and they got used to doing it.”On Feb. 16, Carmen Xol testified that she was taken by soldiers to the Sepur Zarco military base after her husband was abducted and disappeared. She said she was repeatedly raped and that soldiers injected her with contraceptives so that she wouldn’t get pregnant. She also said that she and others who were abducted were forced to take part in evangelical church activities every Sunday.The women of Sepur Zarco appeared in court with their heads covered in shawls to hide their faces and only removed them to testify. Rape victims in rural Guatemalan communities are often shunned and ostracized.Many observers from women’s and human rights organizations attending the trial have also covered their heads in a show of solidarity. Empathy, however, doesn’t appear widespread, and this trial, like others related to wartime violations, has divided Guatemalan society between supporters of the armed forces and its actions during the armed conflict and those who demand justice for the victims.An Internet user who identified himself as “Barto Lomeo” wrote, “Find a job, lazy women!! Instead of trying to mooch off the state!” on the Facebook page of the Breaking the Silence Alliance, a collective of human rights organizations acting as a joint plaintiff in the proceedings.A history of sexual violenceOn Feb. 9, the prosecution presented 38 boxes containing the remains of 51 people killed at the military bases in Sepur Zarco and nearby Tinajas. Forensic experts explained that the remains are so deteriorated that only two of the 51 victims — including the husband of one of the women allegedly subjected to sexual violence — have been identified.The prosecution also explained that Sepur Zarco, where most of the rapes occurred, was primarily used during the war as a “recreation area” for soldiers.According to the U.N.-sponsored Historical Clarification Commission (CEH), which chronicled human rights abuses during the war, rape was selectively used by the armed forces against women belonging to guerrilla organizations up until 1979.By the 1980s, the commission found, the army was using rape systematically against indigenous civilian populations.The CEH recorded 1,465 cases of rape committed during Guatemala’s armed conflict. Eighty percent of the victims were indigenous. According to prosecutor Hilda Pineda, sexual violence was used as “a weapon of war” against the civilian population.Witnesses for the prosecution have also testified that acts of sexual violence, such as those committed in Sepur Zarco, have been used for several hundred years as part of a strategy to subdue indigenous communities involved in land disputes with non-indigenous landowners.During the second week of the trial, Juan Carlos Peláez Villalobos, an expert on land conflicts, explained that archival evidence shows that the Polochic Valley, where Sepur Zarco is located, has a long history of land conflicts. The territory originally belonged to the Maya Q’eqchi’ community, but outsiders encroached upon the land over the years, taking much of it over through violent means or fraud.In an attempt to put an end to the land grabs, Maya Q’eqchi’ leaders tried to obtain legal titles to their lands in the early 1980s.Peláez’s testimony ties in with the accounts provided by several witnesses who told the court that the men who were disappeared and killed by the army in 1982 were community leaders who were seeking titled deeds for community lands — actions that prosecutors allege prompted a backlash from the landowners, who called in the military to suppress indigenous organization in the area.The acts of sexual violence perpetrated against indigenous women in this context, Peláez said, were part of a process of land dispossession used since the Spanish colonized the area.“Indigenous people and the peasants were not considered to be human beings; they were viewed exclusively as bodies to work the fields,” he said. He added that the women were “completely subordinated to the will of the landowner” and that landowners traditionally used the motto “in the fields, in the kitchen, in the bed” to describe the worth of native women.Decades later, the Polochic Valley continues to be a hotbed of agrarian conflict. In March 2011, 769 peasant families were forcibly evicted from land belonging to the Widmann clan — one of the most powerful land-owning families in the country.Sexual violence todayMayra Alarcón, a regional representative for Project Counselling Service, one of the organizations supporting the 11 women, said the prosecution’s historical examination of rape in Guatemala — beyond the actual crimes being tried in court — is strategic.“We don’t just want the perpetrators to be sentenced; We want to show that sexual violence was an institutionalized crime that was far more complex than the act of rape. Sexual slavery was part of a systematic practice and women’s bodies were caught up in the fight for territory,” Alarcón said.The ultimate goal of this “strategic litigation” strategy, used by the prosecution in a number of cases related to wartime human rights violations, is to correct injustices deeply ingrained in Guatemalan society such as racism and sexual violence. “We want a sentence with reparations, [but] not just for the victims. We want to draw attention to these issues so that new investigations can be opened beyond the sentence imposed on these two individuals,” Alarcón said.Today, Guatemala has the fourth highest femicide rate in the world, with one woman killed every 12 hours, according to the U.N. Development Program. According to Paloma Soria Montañés, a gender expert who consults on cases before the International Criminal Court, there’s a clear link between the sexual violence that occurred during Guatemala’s armed conflict and the violence suffered by Guatemalan women today.“This trial opens a window of opportunity to highlight that and send out a message of zero tolerance towards violence against women,” she said.The two men accused in the case could receive prison sentences of up to 30 years. A verdict in the case is expected by late February. Facebook Comments
Comments Share Abbas hopes to obtain “nonmember state” status at a U.N. General Assembly vote later this month.Palestinians believe the vote will force Israel to withdraw from current positions to lines it held before the 1967 war or face international legal action. Israel says negotiations alone will fix borders between it and any future Palestine.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches How men can have a healthy 2019 JERUSALEM (AP) – The Palestinian president is reaching out to Israelis ahead of a trip to the U.N. where he will seek an upgraded observer status for his territory.Mahmoud Abbas vowed to prevent another violent Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, like that of last decade.“We don’t want to use terror…we want to use diplomacy, we want to use politics, we want to use negotiations, we want to use peaceful resistance,” Abbas told Israel’s Channel 2 TV Thursday.
Comments Share Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Top Stories (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) TBILISI, Georgia (AP) – Georgian prosecutors on Thursday arrested five senior police officers on charges linked to a recent election that gave the opposition control of Parliament.The prosecutor’s office said Levan Kardava, the head of the Interior Ministry’s constitutional security department, was arrested overnight along with the four other officers.They face accusations in connection with last month’s parliamentary election won by Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition. Charges include abuse of office, illegal detentions, obtaining personal data through hacking and damaging equipment belonging to Ivanishvili’s Channel 9 television. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Ivanishvili, a multibillionaire philanthropist who became Georgia’s prime minister, has repeatedly promised to investigate alleged abuses by officials appointed by President Mikhail Saakashvili, whose party was unseated in the election.Under a constitutional reform due to take effect after Saakashvili leaves office in October 2013, most of the president’s powers will be transferred to the prime minister. But Ivanishvili has moved to establish control without waiting for the formal transfer of authority.Kardava’s lawyer, Kakha Shonia, said that he was specifically accused of involvement in the alleged abduction of one of Ivanishvili’s bodyguards in the run-up to the parliamentary vote. The bodyguard disappeared shortly before the election and reappeared in a video statement shortly after, declaring his decision to break ties with his boss and also released tapped phone conversations between opposition leaders, intended to cast them in negative light.After Ivanishvili’s victory, the bodyguard said he had been abducted and acted under pressure.The new arrests follow the arrest earlier this month of Bacho Akhalaia, a former defense and interior minister, who was accused of abusing servicemen. His supporters have called the case politically motivated.
Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “There’s a risk we might be cut off of certain intelligence,” Tessier said.Delisle, who pleaded guilty last October, worked at a naval intelligence center and had access to information shared by the Five Eyes community that includes Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.According to prosecutor Lyne Decarie, Delisle received 23 payments from Russia totaling $72,000 between 2007 and 2011.Tessier said the Five Eyes group have decided to “increase the safeguarding of information” following Delisle’s actions and that a lot of resources have been diverted to reassuring Canada’s allies that their information is safe.Two CSIS documents that Delisle tried to transmit to the Russians just before his arrest contained information that could potentially identify sources that work for CSIS, she said. She said CSIS is continuing to assess the fallout from Delisle’s actions.Brig-Gen. Rob Williams, director general of the military signals intelligence, said Canada has not been told it has been cut off from intelligence, but he said it’s not business as usual.Delisle will be sentenced under Canada’s Security of Information Act, which was passed after the Sept. 11 attacks. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) – A top Canadian spy official told a court Thursday that a navy officer who sold secrets to Russia harmed his country’s credibility and could hinder its ability to gather intelligence.Speaking at a sentencing hearing, Michelle Tessier, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s director general of internal security, said that Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle’s crimes could make allies less likely to share intelligence with Canada in the future. 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Decarie said Delisle came under suspicion after returning to the country in September 2011 from Brazil, where he met a Russian agent named Victor who told him that his role would change so that he would become a “pigeon” or liaison for all Russian agents in Canada.Alarms were raised within the Canada Border Services Agency because he had no tan, little awareness of the tourist sites in Rio de Janeiro, three prepaid credit cards, thousands of dollars in U.S. currency and a handwritten note with an email address, she said. She outlined how Delisle acquired and then transferred classified information to the Russians by searching references to Russia, copying them onto a floppy disc on his secure system at work, took it to an unsecure system and pasted it onto a memory stick.Delisle joined the navy as a reservist in 1996, became a member of the regular forces in 2001 and was promoted to an officer rank in 2008.His sentencing hearing is scheduled to last two days.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments Share The difference between men and women when it comes to pain
MADRID (AP) — The two main parties wanting Spain’s Catalonia region to break away from the rest of the country say they will run joint candidates in regional elections scheduled for September to avoid splitting the pro-independence vote, strengthening their chances of winning power.Convergence and Union, the party which has governed the powerful northeastern region for 28 of the almost 40 years since the death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco, and the Republican Left announced the agreement Wednesday. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Sponsored Stories 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The two parties say they regard the elections for the Catalan parliament as a vote on independence and will unilaterally leave Spain if they obtain a majority of seats.Parties opposing independence have announced no plans to run on a common platform. They say the elections aren’t an independence referendum.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Comments Share
Altira Macau announced that it was bestowed with the “Best Luxury Hotel in Macau” award in the TTG China Travel Awards 2010 at the Annual Travel Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner held in Shanghai, mainland China on Thursday April 8, 2010. The annual TTG China Travel Awards seeks to honor China’s best performing travel and tourism organizations as determined by votes cast by fellow professionals who are readers of TTG China, TTG Asia, TTGmice and TTG-BTmice China.Altira was the recipient of the TTG China Travel Award for the second year, having previously won the ‘Best Business Hotel in Macau’ in 2009, and joins an exclusive group of five other properties including Park Hyatt Beijing, The Peninsula Shanghai, Grand Hyatt Guangzhou, InterContinental Shenzhen and Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong with the “Best Luxury Hotel” award in their respective cities.“It is indeed a great pleasure for Altira to have been named ‘Best Luxury Hotel in Macau,” said Mr. Ted Chan, President of Altira Macau. “For this, I must thank all TTG readers for once again voting for us. Above all, I would like to take this opportunity to dedicate this award to my team for their zealous efforts in upholding the Altira brand as the legendary icon for the true art of hospitality.”Mr. Leonard Mok, General Manager of Altira Macau, said: “We are very pleased that Altira has been well-received in the region by all our top-notch guests. We take pride in offering premium luxury services and to create lasting and memorable experiences for discerning travellers of the world.”The TTG China Travel Awards 2010 is in its third consecutive run since its inauguration in 2008. The acclaimed annual event commends China’s finest travel and tourism organisations. Starting with 39 awards, 2010 now witnesses a total of 55 awards conferred to international and Chinese organisations that have contributed to China’s tourism landscape.Melco Crown Entertainment is an owner and developer of casino gaming and entertainment facilities focused on Asia with a portfolio of businesses in Macau that includes Altira Macau; Mocha Clubs; and the flagship City of Dreams. Mr. Leonard Mok, General Manager of Altira Macau was proud to receive the Best Luxury Hotel in Macau award in the TTG China Travel Awards 2010. Source = Altira Macau Altira Macau conferred the “Best Luxury Hotel inMacau” award in the TTG China Travel Awards 2010.
Ireland’s tourism industry has taken a turn in a positive direction with the number of overseas visitors visiting its shores increasing by seven percent for the year 2011.According to the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation (ITIC) the seven percent increase in visitor arrivals is the country’s first rise in four years, the Independent reported.(ITIC) Chairman John Healy said he was positive the tourism industry had “turned a corner” after what has been the most “horrific years” the county has experienced.Mr Healy said they still had a long way to go before reaching the same peak in visitor arrival as they had in 2007 when 7.7 million tourists visited the country.ITIC figures reveal that the arrival numbers have been gradually decreasing since 2008 when there were 7.4 million visitors, followed by 6.5 million in 2009 and 5.9 million in 2010.ITIC chief executive Eamonn McKeon said that although more overseas visitors are visiting the country, the increase does not match the amount of money being spent.”The increase in tourist numbers does not correspond with the increase in revenues, clearly demonstrating the growing trend that tourists are taking shorter breaks in Ireland,” Mr McKeon said.Mr McKeon added that although there was a seven percent rise in tourist arrivals, the 2011 likely outcome was still around seven percent behind 2009 and almost 18 percent lower than 2008.Mr Healy said the visit from Queen Elizabeth and Barack Obama as well as the reduction of the VAT rate on tourism activities such as hotels and restaurants to nine percent had assisted the industry in its recovery.“The reduction in accommodation rates for tourists was a huge factor in the growth in the numbers of overseas visitors this year,” he said.Mr Healy has requested that the government continue the reduced rate into the next few years to maintain continued growth in the industry. Ireland enjoys a seven percent increase in visitor arrivals Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J More travelling families are looking for a “home-away-from-home” experience when travelling, and they’re doing this by booking apartments over hotels.According to Metro Hotels chief operating officer George Bedwani, the 73 percent jump in the number of guest nights spent in services apartment over the past decade represented the Australian family’s desire to stretch their budget and maximize their lifestyle while travelling. He explained that while Australians “aspire” to own a backyard when it comes to a home, they’re increasingly choosing to apartment living when it comes to a holiday. “The real attraction of both these properties for families is when they return to their apartment and can relax and enjoy a home-away-from-home experience,” he said. “They can prepare a meal or do their own washing without leaving the premises, yet when they depart they don’t have to clean up and change beds like you would in a rental property.”
Qantas has removed pork from in-flight menus on services to and from Dubai.The Australian carrier will not serve meals containing pork products or alcohol on flights to and from Dubai, in conjunction with Islamic tradition, news.com.au reported.Consumption of pork and pork products is strictly forbidden in Islam and considered unholy.Since the confirmation of its alliance with Emirates, Qantas has introduced a Mezze plate offering traditional Middle Eastern foods in its upper classes and has Arabic translations after in-flight announcements.The airline claims the alterations have had minimal impact on Qantas’ overall menu and food offerings.“Qantas’ in-flight catering often reflects the cultural and regional influences of the international destinations we fly to,” a Qantas spokesperson said.Qantas also have pork-free and alcohol-free options on flights to Jakarta in Indonesia, owing to the large Muslim population.Several airlines that travel between Australia and the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia don’t serve pork.NOTE: Qantas has removed alcohol from food, but passengers should still be able to order alcohol separately.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T. No more pork or alcohol in food on flights to/from Dubai.
Moreover, a variety of additional attractions, dining venues and shops will be added to popular retail and entertainment precincts, just in time to impress and entertain IPW 2015 attendees with plenty of new developments since Orlando last hosted IPW five years ago. As IPW 2014 comes to a close in Chicago today, Visit Orlando has ended the international travel conference on a very high note, with the announcement that Orlando welcomed a whopping 59 million visitors in 2013, an all time record for destinations in the USA. Universal Orland Resort will expand its popular “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” across both of its theme parks this summer, while Walt Disney World Resort will debut its “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train” coaster, expanding the size of Fantasyland and bringing the multiyear project to completion. Orlando shows no signs of stopping either, as it continues to cement its position as one of the country’s top travel destinations with its most significant expansion project to date currently underway. “Thanks to the strong global marketing and sales efforts of our team at Visit Orlando and the leadership of our tourism members and community leaders who share a common vision for our destination, Orlando continues to lead the nation as its most visited destination,” Visit Orlando president and chief executive officer George Aguel said. United Airlines flies a daily direct service from Melbourne and Sydney to San Francisco, providing customers with daily connections to Orlando, Flordida. For all reservations and enquiries, please call 131 777 or visit their website: www.united.com/au As the future host city of IPW for 2015, Orlando’s current record represents a three percent increase over the previous record set in 2012. Source = ETB News: Lana Bogunovich
Qantas has reassured passengers it is still safe to fly over conflict-ridden Iraq and is not intending to re-route, despite the airline’s alliance partner Emirates’ decision to avoid the route for fear of missile threats.In a statement released by Qantas, the airline said it regularly reviews its flight paths and makes necessary adjustments when and where needed and refused to divert its two daily A380 services, The Australian reported.Qantas states there is no suggestion that flying over Iraq is unsafe for commercial passenger airlines, especially at the cruising attitude that most airlines, including Qantas, maintain and says it will continue to monitor the situation with safety its top priority.Qantas says its average flight level over the Iraqi airspace is around 38,000 feet to 41,000 feet.However, in a report by the Daily Telegraph, Qantas pilots are said to be worried they could potentially be hit by a missile, despite flying at the stated altitude, and the refusal to divert is because its too expensive, costing up to AUD $22,000 in fuel each way.Qantas says it will review any broader recommendations for mitigating risks associated with flying over areas of conflict at the International Civil Aviation Organisation meeting in Montreal on Tuesday, where it will be represented by the International Air Transport Association.Source = ETB News: Lana Bogunovich
Princess Cruises has announced a further expansion in the Australian market, with news that its magnificent 3082-guest Emerald Princess will join its local fleet in late 2016 for its first ever season of Australian cruising.The 113,000-tonne superliner will be based in Sydney from November 2016 to April 2017, taking the cruise line’s Australasian capacity to a record 11,800 berths across five ships during the season.Emerald Princess is one of Princess Cruises’ largest ships with more than 1500 guest rooms and will be one of the youngest ships to be deployed in Australia and New Zealand.The ship will undertake a number of cruises from Sydney, with itineraries to New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific to be unveiled in March this year.Princess Cruises vice president Australia & New Zealand Stuart Allison, said the expansion reflected Australians continued love affair with Princess Cruises.“Since Princess first based a ship here for the summer in 2002 we have been embraced by Australians who love our exciting itineraries and destinations as well as the quality cruise experience we provide, so we’re thrilled to be expanding further,” Mr Allison said.Emerald Princess would cruise from Sydney whilst four other Princess ships will continue to offer programs from Melbourne, Brisbane, Fremantle and Sydney.All ships will offer AUD pricing onboard as they deliver a full program of cruises from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Fremantle and Auckland over the 2016-17 summer.With five of its 18-strong fleet cruising down under, Princess Cruises ranks Australia as its biggest market outside the United States.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wiseman