Palestinian President vows no new armed uprising

first_img 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Former Arizona Rep.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 Phoenixcenter_img 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.last_img read more

5 police officers arrested in Georgia

first_img 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)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.last_img read more

Canadian spy damaged countrys credibility

first_img 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 painlast_img read more

Catalan proindependence parties join forces for election

first_imgMADRID (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 scoliosiscenter_img 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   last_img read more

Altira Macau Conferred Best Luxury Hotel in Macau

first_imgAltira 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 Macaucenter_img Altira Macau conferred the “Best Luxury Hotel inMacau” award in the TTG China Travel Awards 2010.last_img read more

Irelands visitor arrival numbers on the rise

first_imgIreland’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.Plast_img read more

Travelling families prefer apartments to hotels

first_imgSource = 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.”last_img read more

Qantas trims the fat from Dubai menu

first_imgQantas 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, 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.last_img read more

Orlandos record breaking year

first_imgMoreover, 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.center_img 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: 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 Bogunovichlast_img read more

Qantas to continue flying over Iraq

first_imgQantas 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 Bogunovichlast_img read more

Emerald Princess Pacific debut

first_imgPrincess 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 Wisemanlast_img read more

Extraordinary demand for Virgin flights ahead of AFL finals

first_imgVirgin Australia, the official airline of the AFL, has responded to strong demand for interstate flights by adding thousands of seats to its flight schedule during the 2015 Toyota AFL Finals Series.Whilst the match schedule for the Finals has not yet been determined, fans are rushing to secure flights across all four weeks of the Series in a show of faith for their teams.The majority of additional flights have been added between Perth and the eastern states. Virgin Australia is also addressing increased demand between Melbourne and Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, the Gold Coast and Hobart for the Toyota AFL Grand Final weekend.Virgin Australia Chief Commercial Officer Judith Crompton said: “As the official airline of the AFL we are monitoring demand and working closely with the AFL to ensure as many fans as possible can travel to see their team play during the 2015 Toyota AFL Finals Series.“With the Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles currently topping the ladder, the greatest demand for flights is between the east and west coasts of Australia. Bookings on these routes have already far exceeded those in the corresponding period last year.“We’ve added many flights across the country to cater for demand and we will add further flights should they be required,” Ms Crompton said.AFL General Manager of Commercial Operations, Darren Birch, said; “There is huge interest in this year’s Toyota AFL Finals Series and we are very pleased to have the support of our official airline partner, Virgin Australia, to assist fans, players, and match officials in travelling to and from matches across the country.“In addition to flights, fans can also register now to book great value travel packages through AFL Travel to secure flights with Virgin Australia, airport lounge access, accommodation and Finals tickets,” Mr Birch said.Each year Virgin Australia carries the 18 AFL teams on more than 300 flights, travelling more than 450,000km, and provides thousands of extra seats to fans. Book your AFL travel packages hereSource = Virgin Australialast_img read more

TAT Mumbais 3rd edition luxury road show draws regional TAT office participation

first_imgIn keeping with the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) global focus on quality versus absolute numbers, TAT Mumbai tied up with Thailand’s most exclusive standalone and chain hotels for the event titled Amazing Thailand Luxurious Pleasure Road show.Kittipong Prapattong, Director, TAT ASEAN, South Asia & South Pacific Market Division, who travelled to India especially for the event, defined TAT’s luxury strategy globally and in India. “We want to attract travellers who are looking for a higher quality of experience in Thailand. This doesn’t mean an exclusive focus on the niche HNI segment. Even the middle class qualifies as our target audience if they are at incremental spends towards an extraordinary experience in Thailand that might not be accessible (even with extra investment) in many other parts of the world,” he said, going on to offer an example. “Yacht vacations in most parts of the world are out of reach except for the world’s HNIs. In Thailand, the experience is an expensive, luxurious proposition but would still be within reach for many. Luxury implies high spenders as well as those looking to have authentic experiences in Thailand.”Prapattong summed it up as, “The idea is to promote the luxury of EXPERIENCING (this calls for more investment but also more time, effort, involvement…all characteristics of a more mature traveller) rather than the less involved experience of simply SEEING things.”Over a dozen suppliers, including hotels and destination management companies, were present at the event. The added benefit for invitees to the closed-door event was the participation of regional TAT offices from parts of Thailand that are nascent but growing in popularity for the well-travelled, discerning Indian. Soraya Homchuen, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand – Mumbai office said, “TAT representatives from our regional offices in Chiang Rai, Koh Samui and Trat joined the delegation. Their participation was definitely an opportunity because they were able to share the intricacies of travel planning and execution in these destinations. Each of them experienced tremendous interest from attending travel trade.”Isra Stapanaseth, Director, TAT Chiang Rai said, “We get about 1,000 Indian travellers a year and this is encouraging because Chaing Rai is brand new for India. Chiang Mai, our more popular cousin came up only a few years ago and now Chiang Rai’s popularity is on the rise.”Saiphayom Somsuk, Chief of Koh Samui Coordination Centre, TAT Samui said that the island destination welcomes about 10,5000 Indians a year. “What is interesting is that they are amongst the highest spenders in Koh Samui. Over 70 travel agents visited our booth at the roadshow, showing special interest in adding the area’s famous Full Moon Party to their itineraries. This is in keeping with our strategy of opening up Koh Phangan (the island where the party takes place every month) to the Indian market.”The idea of the roadshow was also to open up entirely new destinations. Wanaphapar Suksombul, Director, TAT Trat shared, “63 agents approached us at the roadshow, of which only seven even knew where Trat is. Trat is brand new for India. However we have already prepared ourselves to welcome Indian travellers. Trat recently opened up for Indian groups and as such Indian food is easily available at our island destinations.” She said that she expects the Indian honeymoon segment to enjoy Koh Mak and Koh Kood while the Indian family segment is likely to be drawn to Koh Chang.Homchuen said that TAT Mumbai is looking forward to strengthening its position as a luxury destination. “We have definitely seen a firm shift as a direct result of our luxury-oriented initiatives in this market – from advertising to media and trade FAMs and of course, the important deals inked during earlier editions of our luxury roadshow. We have put special effort into bringing in brand new, hitherto unseen hotels and experiences to India for this third edition and I am certain that the travel trade has benefitted from the sellers they met at the roadshow”Among branded chain-linked hotels, the delegation included the Minor Hotel Group, the Conrad Koh Samui, Centara Grand at CentralWorld, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit (A Luxury Collection Hotel) and Sofitel Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort.Among standalone hotels, attendees found novelty value in Keemala, which is all set to bring ultimate luxury to barefoot chic accommodation concepts such as tree houses, when it opens in December. Iniala, a 10-room villa (made famous by Kim Kardashian’s month-long family vacation in Phuket prior to her wedding to Kanye West) was part of the delegation and invited great interest from the attending travel trade.Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways were part of the delegation with the goal of inking special agreements with attending travel agents and destination management companies AM Interservice and Travstore brought logistical expertise that Mumbai’s travel trade will require in order to sell new destinations to India’s high flyers going ahead, especially as the peak travel season rounds the corner. Thailand Elite Card, a programme that promotes repeat travel through discounts and privileges extended to card-holder showcased their product at the road show.last_img read more

Thailand organises fourcity luxury roadshow in India

first_imgTourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) recently conducted the ‘Amazing Thailand Luxury Roadshow’ in India covering Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Kolkata. TAT is targeting the high end travellers from Tier-I Indian cities who are big spenders. The delegation at the roadshow included hoteliers, Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways and few DMCs.The Delhi event commenced with an exclusive networking B2B session within the setup of a Thai modern lanna style theme.Isra Stapanaseth, Director, TAT New Delhi, mentioned that Thailand has been accredited as one of the world’s most luxurious destination as it has an abundance of luxurious offerings and experiences. He gave a brief presentation that included the insightful market information on luxury tourism in Thailand covering new destinations, products and trends.“This year, for the fourth edition of roadshow in India, we have strived to make it even more successful by bringing the delegation of Hotels, DMCs, Airlines and tourist attractions related to luxury tourism in Thailand to meet the high profile travel agents in India and to explore market possibilities of high spending Indian travellers,” he said.Pinki Arora, Marketing Representative, TAT New Delhi, said, “Thailand has plenty to offer to the high end travellers. We have range of five-star and four-star hotels and resorts around Thailand. At present high end travellers constitute 15-20% of the total Indian travellers.”Thailand welcomed 1.06 million Indian travellers in 2015. For 2016, the target is 1.1 million – a figure that the destination looks like it is on track to achieve having hit over 700,000 Indian arrivals by August.last_img read more

Keralas new tourism policy to accentuate on Adventure Tourism

first_imgWhile inaugurating a one day workshop organised by the department to give shape to its tourism policy, the Minister said that the need and time has come for the tourism department to evolve itself to cater to the needs of activity and adventure based tourism from now on.“Sensing the immense and innumerable possibilities of promoting Kerala as a destination for ‘Adventure and Activity based Tourism’ the state tourism department is focusing on developing new projects to utilise the same,” said Kadakampally Surendran, Tourism Minister.While the primary focus at the workshop had been to find new possibilities to take adventure tourism forward in the state, the Minister has stressed on the need to work closely and in coordination with the Forest Department to realise the goals in the adventure tourism sector.Speaking at the workshop, Dr Venu Vasudevan, Principal Secretary, Kerala Tourism opined that the cooperation and coordination with the Forest Department is of paramount importance for the growth of adventure tourism in the state and that this could be achieved without violating any of the existing environmental laws.Kerala Tourism is currently planning to rebrand itself and find new avenues to take the sector forward in order to double the tourist arrivals by 2021. Keeping this in mind the department will now start a new ‘Tourist Circuit’ based out of North Kerala and will shift focus from areas it had been concentrating all this while to specifically give thrust to Adventure Tourism with the sole aim of attracting more youngsters to the state.P Bala Kiran, Director, Kerala Tourism said that for the first time in the history of Kerala Tourism the numbers of the inbound foreign tourists have rise beyond one million and that domestic tourists arrivals have touched 1.38 crores.last_img read more

FirstTime Buyer Share Hits 27Year Low

first_img First-time homebuyers accounted for only about one-third of home sales in the last year as young adults continue to struggle to get a foothold in the market, according to a report from a major housing group.In its annual survey of homebuyers and sellers, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that only about 33 percent of home purchases in the last year were made by first-time buyers, down from 38 percent in last year’s survey and the long-term average of 40 percent.The last time the share of first-time buyers was this low was 1987, when they accounted for just 30 percent of home sales, NAR said.The association’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, pointed to many of the frequently cited reasons why young Americans are staying on the sidelines, including increasing living costs and high debts.”Rising rents and repaying student loan debt makes saving for a downpayment more difficult, especially for young adults who’ve experienced limited job prospects and flat wage growth since entering the workforce,” Yun said.Those aren’t the only issues would-be homeowners have had to deal with in recent years. According to NAR, 47 percent of first-time buyers in the latest survey said the mortgage application and approval process was more difficult than expected, a result of a more heavily regulated and risk-averse lending environment.For first-time buyers, the median down payment was 6 percent, less than half the median for repeat buyers. Nearly a quarter of first-time buyers said saving for that initial payment was a major hurdle, with more than half of that group citing student debt as a challenge.In addition to tapping into their own savings to make a down payment, 26 percent of first-time buyers said they received a gift from friends or relatives, while 6 percent took a loan from them.The vast majority—93 percent—of entry-level buyers opted for a fixed-rate mortgage, NAR reported, with 35 percent financing their home purchase through low down payment mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). That figure was down from 39 percent last year, partly due to rising insurance premiums.”FHA premiums are too high in relation to default rates and have likely dissuaded some prospective first-time buyers from entering the market,” Yun said. “To put it in perspective, 56 percent of first-time buyers used a FHA loan in 2010. The current high mortgage insurance added to their monthly payment is likely causing some young adults to forgo taking out a loan.” First-Time Buyer Share Hits 27-Year Low in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News November 4, 2014 548 Views center_img Credit Standards FHA First-Time Homebuyers National Association of Realtors 2014-11-04 Tory Barringer Sharelast_img read more

Reexamining Flaws

first_img July 21, 2017 693 Views Reexamining Flaws community development block grants herrera beutler House of Representatives HUD 2017-07-21 Aly J. Yale New legislation was pushed through the U.S. Appropriations Committee recently that would, if passed into law, force the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to recalibrate how it determines eligibility for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).The bill, introduced by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Washington), would require that HUD report any area it uses “flawed income data”—or data with a margin of error that’s 20 percent or higher—to evaluate CDBG eligibility. These reports would need to be submitted to both the House and Senate appropriations committees within 90 days of the evaluation.Until now, HUD has calculated community income levels by averaging five-year data from the American Community Survey. HUD data from 2014 shows many towns in Beutler’s district—including Pe Ell, Vader, and Morton—have been deemed “too affluent” to benefit from CDBG grants.According to Beutler’s office, “This requirement would impact rural communities in Lewis County [Washington] that, based on inaccurate household income data, were determined to be ‘too affluent’ to qualify for Community Development Block Grants.”Beutler says HUD has often made mistakes when deeming a community “too affluent,” and that the agency has even used data with margins of error as high as 91.5 percent when determining eligibility.“This agency is supposed to return tax dollars to the communities that need it most, but it has made serious mistakes in disqualifying communities like Toledo, Pe Ell, and Vader for being ‘too affluent,’” Beutler said. “It can’t cover up these mistakes if this legislation becomes law.”This isn’t the first time Beutler has taken on HUD. She also created a provision that requires HUD to have alternative methods of measuring income levels.“After years of pressuring for transparency, my efforts will again require HUD to make the extent of inaccuracy of its data public—and it will be held accountable for its reporting errors,” she said. “While it shouldn’t take an act of Congress to get a public agency to provide basic transparency, I’m not going to let up on this issue or the needs of our rural communities until we have a long-term solution.”The bill was passed by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday and will go before the full House floor soon.center_img in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines Sharelast_img read more

Home Prices March Upwards

first_img Home prices continued to rise according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices for March 2018 that were released by S&P Dow Jones Indices on Tuesday. The data on the U.S. National Home Price NSA Index covered by these indices indicated that nationally, home prices reported a 6.5 percent annual gain in March, remaining unchanged over the gains reported in February 2018. The 20-City Composite Index also remained unchanged and posted a 6.8 percent gain year over year. The 10-City Composite Index grew from 6.4 percent in February 2018 to 6.5 percent in March.The year-over-year gains on the 20-City Composite were led by Seattle, Las Vegas, and San Francisco with double-digit increases. According to the index, while Seattle reported a year-over-year price increase of 13 percent, Las Vegas, and San Francisco reported price gains of 12.4 percent and 11.3 percent respectively. The report found 12 of the 20 cities reported “greater price increases in the year ending March 2018, versus February 2018.”“While Seattle has been the city with the largest gains for 19 months, the ranking among other cities varies,” said David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Las Vegas and San Francisco saw the second and third largest annual gains of 12.4 percent and 11.3 percent. A year ago, they ranked tenth and sixteenth. Any doubts that real, or inflation-adjusted, home prices are climbing rapidly are eliminated by considering Chicago; the city reported the lowest 12-month gain among all cities in the index of 2.8 percent, almost a percentage point ahead of the inflation rate.”Even though Seattle showed the highest price increase during the month, the gains are widespread according to Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at “All 20 cities saw price gains with the smallest in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Cleveland,” Hale said. “Despite the trend of rising prices, a look at preliminary May housing data shows that listing price growth slowed in May. This could signal slower growth in home sales prices in the months ahead—a good turn of events for buyers.”Be that as it may, buyers will still have to contend with low housing supply this summer, which has also contributed to the growth in home prices. “Rising home prices continued in March amid strong economic conditions for would-be home buyers; unemployment remained low and job growth steady,” said Cheryl Young, Senior Economist at Trulia. “These strong consumer fundamentals drove demand as peak home buying season ramped up. Robust demand paired with abysmally low inventory contributed to surging home prices.” Young also pointed out to rising mortgage rates that could make this summer a tough season for potential homebuyers. “As if increasing home prices weren’t enough—beleaguered would-be homebuyers faced mortgage rates hitting four-year highs.”Blitzer agreed though he pointed out that compared to the price gains of the last housing boom in the 2000s things were much calmer. “ Months-supply, which combines inventory levels and sales, is currently at 3.8 months, lower than the levels of the 1990s, before the housing boom and bust,” he said. “Until inventories increase faster than sales, or the economy slows significantly, home prices are likely to continue rising.” Share Home Prices March Upwards May 29, 2018 706 Views center_img Demand Gains homes HOUSING Housing Boom HPI Prices S&P CoreLogic Case Shiller Home Price Index Supply Trulia 2018-05-29 Radhika Ojha in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Newslast_img read more

Mayopoulos Hugh Will Serve as a Terrific Leader

first_img Fannie Mae Homebuyers HOUSING real estate Renters Secondary Market Securitization 2018-10-08 Radhika Ojha October 8, 2018 818 Views Share On Monday, Fannie Mae announced the appointment of Hugh R. Frater as its Interim CEO.  Frater’s appointment will be effective on October 16, 2018, subject to final FHFA approval, Fannie Mae said in a statement. He will succeed Timothy J. Mayopoulos, who announced his intention to depart in July 2018 and will leave the company on October 15, 2018.“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are excited to have an executive with such broad experience and impressive track record as our new Interim CEO,” said Egbert L.J. Perry, Chairman of Fannie Mae’s Board of Directors. “Hugh has a deep understanding of the housing and the financial services industries, and his experience on our Board makes him an ideal choice to lead Fannie Mae as the Interim CEO.”According to Fannie Mae, Frater has served on its Board since 2016. He has held a number of executive and management roles throughout his career and currently serves as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of VEREIT, Inc. and as a director of ABR Reinsurance Capital Holdings Ltd. He previously led Berkadia Commercial Mortgage LLC (“Berkadia”), a national commercial real estate company providing comprehensive capital solutions and investment sales advisory and research services for multifamily and commercial properties.“I have great respect for Fannie Mae and the significant role it plays in our housing system,”Frater said. “I am humbled and excited to serve at an institution that has made tremendous strides in supporting its customers and making housing more affordable for millions of Americans while reducing risk to taxpayers. I look forward to working alongside the leadership team as we continue to look for new ways to serve our customers, implement our strategy and strengthen the company.”Commenting on Frater’s appointment, Mayopoulos said that  Frater would be “an excellent complement to the strong management team at Fannie Mae.”“Hugh will serve as a terrific leader who will maintain our momentum and move the company forward as it addresses the needs of both today’s and tomorrow’s homebuyers and renters, while strengthening the housing finance system,” he said.Speaking about Mayopoulos’ term at Fannie Mae, Perry said, “Under Tim’s leadership, Fannie Mae helped stabilize the housing market, while strengthening the company’s business model, returning it to profitability, and positioning it well for the future. Tim has delivered for America’s housing market and for taxpayers. Our Board of Directors is deeply grateful for Tim’s years of dedication and stewardship, and his commitment to helping to make housing finance safer and better. We will miss his remarkable presence at the helm of the company, and wish him the very best as he enters the next phase of his professional career.”center_img in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Secondary Market Mayopoulos: “Hugh Will Serve as a Terrific Leader”last_img read more

Employment Rises—Housing and Mortgage Experts React

first_img Employment increased by 196,000 in March, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary.Weighing in on the report, Doug Duncan, Chief Economist at Fannie Mae, said, “The March jobs report suggests that the labor market remains solid overall.”“We expect the Fed to remain patient given a solid labor market and little evidence of upside inflation risks,” Duncan continued. “Meanwhile, employment in the residential construction sector expanded following a decline in February. This should allow builders to continue expanding supply at a gradual pace though labor shortages across the industry remain a concern. This report is directly in alignment with our economic and housing outlook for the year.”March’s 196,000 jobs added is a jump from February’s 20,000, though unemployment remained relatively the same, at 3.8 percent. Additionally, construction showed little change, up by around 16,000, though construction has increased by 246,000 over the past 12 Chief Economist Danielle Hale commented on the job growth, noting the increase in purchasing power for homebuyers.“March’s jobs report painted a much brighter picture than a month ago, as 196,000 jobs were added, compared to February’s bleak 20,000 jobs and both January and February early reports were revised higher–meaning there were more jobs added those months than we originally believed. Job growth is slower than the average month in 2018, but appropriate since unemployment is at long-time lows,” said Hale.Hale continued, “Unemployment continued to hover at a 19-year low, at 3.8 percent, just a touch higher than the 49-year low of 3.5 percent. The combination of earnings growth of 3.2 percent and low mortgage rates has boosted home buyers’ purchasing power in the face of rising home prices, but affordability remains a challenge, especially for entry-level buyers. Still, as buyers grapple with their budgets, job and earnings growth and lower mortgage rates suggest sufficient demand for sellers this spring.”Find the report here. April 5, 2019 900 Views Construction Employment Fannie Mae HOUSING mortgage 2019-04-05 Seth Welborn Employment Rises—Housing and Mortgage Experts Reactcenter_img in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Origination Sharelast_img read more