US travel industry worries travel ban could echo post 911 period

first_imgTags: America, Donald Trump, Trend Watch Share Thursday, February 2, 2017 U.S. travel industry worries travel ban could echo post 9-11 period WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries could slow the U.S. economy by hampering two of the nation’s top export industries: Tourism and higher education.Trump’s immigration order followed his order to build a wall along the border with Mexico and his vow to rip up NAFTA. Combined, those moves could discourage visitors and students from many countries – not just the seven covered by the order – economists say.They also reflect Trump’s shift toward an “America First” approach and away from the pro-globalization policies embraced by his predecessors. His combative trade stance potentially could open the door for China and other economic powers to fill a void.“Broad-brush policies like this people barrier impede growth and certainly do not accelerate it,” David Kotok, chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors, wrote in an email. “Trump has now set back the positive elements of global exchange in both goods and services.”Foreign tourists provide critical support to the U.S. economy. In 2015, they spent roughly $199 billion on items ranging from hotel rooms and restaurant meals to plane tickets and amusement parks. That spending counts as exports. Travel and tourism made up nearly 9 per cent of U.S. exports that year.More news:  Windstar celebrates record-breaking bookings in JulySome economists say they worry that Trump’s order could create an echo of the post-9-11 period, when travel to the United States plunged, in part because of much tighter security. In the 10 years that followed – a period the travel industry recalls ruefully as the “lost decade” – the U.S. share of overseas travel fell by nearly one-third, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. That cost the U.S. economy $500 billion.“The message got around the world that the United States was an unfriendly country to visit – that it’s a big hassle to visit there,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council and author of “The Closing of the American Border,” a book about U.S. security after 9-11.Given the disruptions at U.S. airports caused by Trump’s immigration order, which were widely covered by television news around the world, “it’s that story all over again,” Alden said.Proceeds from tourism and education help narrow the nation’s trade deficit, a frequent target of Trump’s criticism on the campaign trail. Travel and tourism exports exceed overseas sales of autos and auto parts, which totalled $152 billion in 2015. Agricultural exports amounted to $137 billion.Yet Trump’s orders “couldn’t happen at a worse time,” said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics. Even before Trump’s executive orders, a strong dollar had made it costlier for foreign travellers to visit the United States.More news:  Honolulu authorities investigate arsons at 3 Waikiki hotels; no injuries reportedAnd weaker economies in many countries, from China to European nations, have begun to slow the flow of tourists to the United States. Sacks estimates that travel and tourism spending barely grew last year from 2015’s record level.“The P.R. optics on this are terrible,” Sacks said.Trump’s immigration order and belligerent rhetoric about a wall along the Mexican border add up to “a series of immigration and trade policies that are all conveying to the world that we’re not interested in visitors coming to the U.S.,” Sacks said.Laura Mandala runs a company in Alexandria, Virginia, that does market research for clients in the travel industry, including the Marriott hotel chain and state travel bureaus. Many of her clients spent less on her services in the years that immediately followed 9-11. Now, she fears a repeat.“It’s the uncertainty,” Mandala said. “When something dramatic happens, they put a freeze on spending until they can figure out what the environment will be like.” << Previous PostNext Post >> By: Christopher S. Rugaber Source: The Associated Presslast_img read more

Airlines passenger yields are on the rise says IATA

first_img MONTREAL — Initial airline financial results from Q2 2017 have been more robust than earlier in the year, and suggest that the squeeze on profit margins from higher costs and weak yields peaked in Q1, according to the latest stats from IATA.Meanwhile, having trended downwards since 2013, the latest monthly data suggest that passenger yields have now started to trend upwards. Exchange rate-adjusted yields were unchanged from their year-ago level in May.Global airline share prices fell in July, driven by a decline in the North America index. Having seen airline shares outperform global equities over the past year, July’s decline appears, in part, to reflect profit taking by investors.Passenger demand growth posted its strongest first half of the year since 2005. The seasonally-adjusted passenger load factor remained broadly stable, close to an all-time high over the same period.The pick-up in global trade is helping to support premium passenger demand, particularly to, from and within Asia Pacific, notes IATA. Premium revenues have risen in year-on-year terms on key routes to and from the region so far in 2017. Share Airlines’ passenger yields are on the rise, says IATA Tags: IATA, Trend Watch Travelweek Group center_img Posted by Tuesday, August 15, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Tauck eliminates select single supplements for 2018

first_img Thursday, January 11, 2018 WILTON, CT — Solo travellers will be getting a major break this year with Tauck, which has once again opted to reduce and in some cases eliminate its single supplements.The company has announced that there will not be a single supplement on its Category 1 European riverboat cabins, waiving the supplement entirely for those cabins on each departure of every Tauck river cruise itinerary. In all, the single supplement is being waived on over 200 Tauck river cruise departures in 2018.Moreover, Tauck is reducing the single supplement by US$1,000 on other selected cabin categories on 58 departures of 16 different river itineraries.Solo travellers interested in Tauck’s land journeys will also enjoy a reduced single supplement of up to $600 on 155 departures of 53 tours visiting five continents. In Europe, for example, the company has slashed the single supplement by up to $400 on 68 departures of 23 different land itineraries, while in North America, supplements are being reduced by up to $300 on 61 departures of 21 tours. Even more, within its ‘Exotics’ portfolio, Tauck has reduced the supplement by up to $600 on 26 departures of nine trips in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.More news:  Flights cancelled as British Airways hit by computer problem“Our tours and cruises have always been very popular with solo travellers. Not only do solo travellers embrace the camaraderie and sense of assurance they feel as part of a Tauck group, but they really appreciate all of the effort that we put into choreographing and executing their journeys – work they would otherwise have to do entirely on their own,” said Tauck CEO Dan Mahar. “Tauck is already a fantastic way for solo travellers to see the world, and with our elimination of or reductions to the single supplement, we’re an even smarter choice.”For more details call 1-800-468-2825 or go to tauck.com. Share Travelweek Group Posted bycenter_img Tauck eliminates select single supplements for 2018 Tags: Promotions, Tauck << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Canadians stranded in Cuba after plane crash returning home

first_img Share Canadians stranded in Cuba after plane crash returning home By: The Canadian PressSource: The Associated Press Tuesday, May 22, 2018 MONTREAL — Hundreds of Canadians who were stuck in Cuba since a plane crash last week are returning home. Montreal-based Caribe Sol said Monday that Cubana Airlines was resuming operations after the passenger jet crash on Friday killed 111 people. The agency said on its Facebook page that 346 tourists who had booked through Caribe Sol would be flown back to Canada Monday and Tuesday. It said some other passengers had already returned home on other airlines. Cuba’s largest airline grounded all its flights on Friday after a Boeing 737 crashed soon after takeoff and landed in a fireball on the outskirts of Havana. Three people had survived the crash, but a 23-year-old woman died of her injuries on Monday. The two remaining survivors, also from Cuba, remain in a Havana hospital in critical condition. Tags: Canadian, Cuba << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Virtuoso appoints Tim Morgan to oversee agency relationships in Canada

first_img Posted by About Latest Posts Alex Keerma Latest posts by Alex Keerma (see all) WestJet adds to network, nonstop flights between Austin and Calgary – May 3, 2019 Senior Travel Advisor – Peterborough Office – April 12, 2019 “I didn’t know she was married”: Kimpton’s social experiment inspires new themed rooms – March 6, 2019 Wednesday, August 1, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >> Alex Keerma Virtuoso appoints Tim Morgan to oversee agency relationships in Canada Tags: TPI, Virtuoso TORONTO — Travel industry veteran Tim Morgan has joined the Virtuoso team after making the jump from Travel Professionals International (TPI).Effective immediately, his new role as Director of Business Strategy for Canada will see him assisting Virtuoso in developing its luxury leisure travel market in Canada. His first order of business will be attending Virtuoso Travel Week, the network’s largest event of the year, scheduled to take place Aug. 11-17 in Las Vegas.“Tim’s extensive travel agency knowledge and industry connections make him well suited to help connect Virtuoso’s global vision with the specific needs for the Canadian market,” said David Kolner, senior vice president of Global Member Partnerships for Virtuoso. “With Tim’s help, we look forward to expanding our presence in Canada and serving our existing travel agency members even better.”Morgan most recently served 13 years as vice president at TPI, a Virtuoso member agency.“Through my time as a Virtuoso member, I came to know both the organization and the global network it has built, and became a fan,” he said. “Technology has always been a key interest, and it led me to serve as chair of Virtuoso’s Technology Committee. Now I look forward to helping Virtuoso build a stronger presence in Canada and maximize its potential.”More news:  Le Boat has EBBs along with its new 2020 brochureMorgan, who is based in Toronto, joins Joelle Goldman, director, U.S. and Canada, Global Member Partnerships, and Cindy Nelson, regional director, in overseeing travel agency relationships. Sharelast_img read more

Californias spirit has been tested but not broken by wildfires Beteta

first_img Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group SACRAMENTO — With its latest industry update Visit California and its partners are reminding inbound tourism markets that California is a vast state and that most regions, including the city of Los Angeles, are untouched by the wildfires and remain open for business.Heading into U.S. Thanksgiving weekend, the state’s tourism board and its partners said it wants to extend its gratitude to the state’s fire service, first responders and the California communities that are banding together in support of regions affected by recent wildfires.“We are immensely thankful for the heroism of our first responders, and for everyone – across California and around the world – who has shown support for the state during this difficult time,” said Visit California President & CEO Caroline Beteta. “The Golden State’s unwavering spirit has been tested but not broken, in large thanks to the outpouring of California love.”Visit California, together with leaders from California’s travel industry, encourages anyone who can provide support to affected communities to check out VisitCalifornia.com/recovery.More news:  Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaThe Woolsey and Hill fires in Los Angeles and Ventura counties are fully contained, reports Visit California.In Northern California, the Camp Fire in Butte County is 70% contained and is not threatening population centres.For the latest information on wildfires in the state, visit Calfire.ca.gov.Visit California is also connecting travellers with the latest fire information through VisitCalifornia.com travel alerts and the WestCoastTravelFacts.org website.Air quality across the state is improving. Industry partners and clients can visit AirNow.org to see updated air quality maps.Meanwhile California’s gateway airports remain open, and flights across the state are operating normally. Major highways and travel corridors throughout the state are unaffected. For the latest road closure updates, check Caltrans.Visit California adds: “Visit California’s first concern is always the safety and well-being of California residents and visitors. We recommend that visitors planning trips to affected areas consult their tour operator or hotel directly for the latest information.” Tags: Florida, Wildfirescenter_img California’s spirit “has been tested but not broken” by wildfires: Beteta Wednesday, November 21, 2018 Sharelast_img read more

Air Canada Flash for 737 Max updates and the latest from Sunwing

first_imgAir Canada Flash for 737 Max updates, and the latest from Sunwing, ACTA Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Posted bycenter_img Tags: ACTA, Air Canada, boeing, Sunwing, TICO TORONTO — Air Canada has issued an update to the 737 Max suspension, specifically for the airline’s travel agent partners.“To ensure you can keep our mutual clients apprised of the most up-to-date information regarding the grounding of the 737 MAX fleet, please subscribe to the Air Canada Flash. All relevant information will be communicated as it becomes available,” says Air Canada.The airline directs agents to the following link to subscribe: http://go.pardot.com/l/463862/2017-12-26/l2b75For agents already subscribed to the Flash, Air Canada is telling agents to make sure their Flash settings include the ‘Goodwill Policies’ and the ‘Travel Advisories’.“We the extra effort from our travel agent community to help our passengers during this difficult time.”Air Canada has also advised that in light of the current uncertainty it suspending all financial guidance it provided on Feb. 15 and Feb. 28 in respect of the 2019 financial year.Sunwing has posted this update: “Following the recent safety notice regarding the Boeing 737 MAX 8, it has been necessary to make some adjustments to our flight schedule. Schedule changes for departures up to and including March 30 have now been made and are reflected in our flight times across the site. We are currently still finalizing schedule changes beyond this in departure date order. Should there be any schedule changes to your itinerary, we will be contacting you directly in due course. Please be assured that we will not be cancelling any flight services.”More news:  Windstar celebrates record-breaking bookings in JulyMeanwhile the latest advisory from ACTA provides links to Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s safety notice as well as TICO’s bulletin, sent out March 13.“ACTA has heard from many of our members and as expected, we are impressed with how proactive our members are, and providing excellent customer service during times of uncertainty. This is a true testament of the value of booking with an ACTA travel agency member.”ACTA adds that it will continue to keep ACTA Members updated on rapidly changing developments “because your concerns about safety, liability issues, re-bookings, cancellations and other issues did not end with Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s Wednesday announcement that ‘restricts commercial passenger flights from any air operator, both domestic and foreign, of the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft from arriving, departing or overflying Canadian airspace’.” Friday, March 15, 2019 last_img read more

Earn an extra 5 when booking Europe with ACV

first_img Monday, March 25, 2019 Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Earn an extra 5% when booking Europe with ACVcenter_img Tags: ACV, Agent Incentives, Air Canada Vacations MONTREAL — Air Canada Vacations is offering a limited-time bonus commission offer on any Europe package.Valid on bookings made between March 25 and April 8, the 5% bonus commission applies to travel between March 25, 2019 and Dec. 21, 2020.Now is also the time to book groups, says ACV, with travel agents receiving special net group rates. Travel agents can secure a group rate up to two years before they leave and the flights of the 16th passenger are on ACV.“We know that your customers are now looking to book Europe, so there’s no better time for Air Canada Vacations to offer you more commission,” said Nino Montagnese, Managing Director. “Don’t forget that when you book our Economy Base fare, the first bag is free when you reserve a European package with Air Canada Vacations.”In addition to the commission perk, this week’s Europe Flash Sale is ACV’s Italy Express package. Book by March 31 for rates starting at $1,699 per person, taxes and other fees included, on June 6, 9, 13, 15 and 16 departure dates for seven nights. The deal includes flight from Toronto or Ottawa, and is also available at varying prices from other gateway cities such as Halifax, Vancouver, Calgary, Moncton, St. John’s, Quebec City and Montreal. Italy Express includes the best of Italy by train with free time in Rome, Florence and Venice. This offer is valid new individual bookings.More news:  Sunwing ready to launch Mazatlán-Quebec City direct this winterMoreover, agents are reminded that when booking 120 days prior to departure, clients can save up to $500 per couple, while those booking 90 days prior save up to $300 per couple. Clients have up to 45 days prior to departure to take advantage of an exchangeable deposit in credit. Travelweek Group last_img read more

Earn 10 commission win prizes with TravelCars summer promo

first_img LOS ANGELES — TravelCar has launched a new summer incentive program for travel agents just in time for the peak summer season. Agents who use the company’s Travel Agent Platform to book parking reservations for their clients earn a 10% commission and will also be entered into a contest for a chance to win travel-related prizes. Reservations must be made between June 21 and Sept. 23, 2019. TravelCar’s Travel Agent Platform allows agents to search, compare and book parking at airports, seaports, train stations and city centres in more than 60 countries. In the U.S., its off-airport parking network covers more than 50 cities, including 19 of the top 20 major airports. In Canada, its network covers the top five busiest Canadian airports.TravelCar is also the only airport parking platform to list many official on-airport parking options as well, both in Canada and the United States.Travel agents also have the option for clients to book parking themselves through a dedicated web page and still earn commission. In addition to booking parking, amenities such as valet service, car wash, gas filling, lounge passes and more are available for purchase.More news:  TRAVELSAVERS welcomes Julie Virgilio to the teamThe contest is open to all agents and agencies based in Canada and the U.S. Agents must book a minimum of 30 parking reservations between the contest period to be eligible for prizes, which include: two Airport VIP lounge passes from Lounge Pass, redeemable at one of 26 airports in the U.S. or Canada; a Skyroam Solis, a global Wi-Fi hotspot and power bank; and an Amazon gift card. Travel agents can sign up for access to the Travel Agent Platform for free at join.travelcar.com and begin making reservations. Share Monday, June 24, 2019 Posted by Travelweek Group center_img Tags: TravelCar Earn 10% commission & win prizes with TravelCar’s summer promo << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

34 violent deaths reported during Semana Santa in Costa Rica

first_imgDuring the week of Semana Santa, 34 people died violent deaths, according to figures released by Judicial Investigation Police. The majority of the deaths – 19 – occurred in traffic accidents, including a Traffic Police officer who was killed by an alleged drunk driver Sunday.Eight people died from drownings in oceans or rivers. According to the Red Cross, 24 people were rescued from drowning. Five people were killed by guns, and two others were stabbed to death. Compared to 2011, the number of deaths during Semana Santa decreased from 40 to 34.At least 315 people died throughout the region during the Easter Holy Week, according to a report by news agency EFE. In Guatemala, at least 165 people have died, the majority due to violent crimes. Through Good Friday, 64 people died in El Salvador, and 44 of the deaths were ruled homicides.In Nicaragua, 40 people died, the majority due to drowning. In addition, the Nicaraguan Red Cross reported at least 900 people suffered jellyfish stings on Pacific coast beaches Thursday and Friday. The stings were not life-threatening.Honduras reported 34 deaths, according to the National Commission on Accident Prevention. Panamanian authorities have not reported any deaths. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Outraged Costa Ricans celebrate movements first anniversary

first_imgThe Costa Rican branch of the“Movimiento de los Indignados” (Movement of the Outraged) is planning a public event to celebrate its first anniversary on May 12.On its Facebook page, “IndignadosCR,” the group announced a rally at 12 p.m. in the Plaza de la Cultura, in downtown San José, to “celebrate the fight for a better Costa Rica [by] collecting signatures and publicizing  initiatives.”At 4:30 p.m., the group will hold a video forum at Lobo Estepario, a half block west of the Legislative Assembly, to “summarize the social struggles that have shaken the world since early 2011,” the invitation says. Some members of the Spanish M15 and U.S. Occupy Wall Street movements will join the celebration.The Facebook invitation is also asking people to join a “national action plan for a Costa Rica without corruption,” a citizen initiative that responds to “serious corruption cases that have been made public recently,” the group stated. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Lawmakers boycott vote that would allow US Navy ship to dock in

first_imgNo related posts. Citizen Action Party (PAC) lawmakers Claudio Monge and Juan Carlos Mendoza on Tuesday filibustered a vote in the Legislative Assembly to approve a docking permit for U.S. Navy ship U.S.S. CARR. The ship was supposed to deliver 4,134 pounds of marijuana seized in the Caribbean Sea.The two lawmakers continued giving speeches up to the deadline for the vote.The drugs carried by the ship would have been used as evidence in an ongoing trial against two Costa Rican nationals and one Nicaraguan who dropped the packages into the sea during a chase by the U.S. naval ship and a boat from Costa Rica’s Coast Guard.Fabio Molina, a top lawmaker from the National Liberation Party urged PAC lawmakers to allow the vote to take place before the 4 p.m. deadline, and after that they could resume their speeches.However, the lawmakers refused and the time expired. Both of them also refused to vote to extend the voting session.“The ship will return to the U.S. and the drugs cannot be used as evidence. Now the drug traffickers could be released,” Molina said.Public Security Vice Minister Celso Gamboa also lamented what occurred on his Twitter account: “The problem is the message that we give to the international community about what we are doing in the fight against narcotrafficking.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Royal baby is named George Alexander Louis

first_imgLONDON — The bookies were right: He Who Had Not Been Named is now Prince George.His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, to be exact.On Wednesday, that regal name was bestowed on Britain’s 2-day-old royal baby by his parents, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton. Although the thoroughly modern royal couple chose a thoroughly modern way to distribute the news — via Twitter — “Prince George” is as old-school as it gets.No fewer than six British kings have borne the name “George”; in addition, its personal symbolism for William made it an obvious pick for months in betting pools across the country. The last King George was George VI, William’s great-grandfather, whose valiant battle with a speech impediment when he inherited the throne after his brother’s abdication was dramatized in the Oscar-winning film “The King’s Speech.”And let’s face it. “Charming” was probably never really in the mix.“It’s a strong name. ‘Prince George of Cambridge’ sounds good, very resonant with the queen’s family,” said Charles Kidd, editor of Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage.The length of the name, however, appeared to be something of a nod to the 21st century — despite the “HRH” in front of it. Four names, not three, Kidd said, have “become the standard norm for members of the royal family in recent generations.” William has four, as does his father, Prince Charles. So by royal standards, “George Alexander Louis” is relatively concise.“Louis,” royal-watchers said, was picked at least in part as a tribute to Louis Mountbatten, Charles’s beloved great-uncle, who was killed when an Irish Republican Army bomb blew up his boat in 1979. “Louis” is also one of William’s names.The BBC speculated that “Alexander” may have been a preference on the Middleton side. It is also common in Scotland, which had three medieval kings named Alexander.It took Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, a good week to name William. So the wait for the newest heir’s name — Prince George, if you haven’t heard, was born Monday — was comparatively short. Here, the naming of heirs is a serious matter, with the monikers of British kings and queens defining entire eras as well as periods of fashion, writing and architecture. Think Elizabethan literature and Victorian houses.But Judy Wade, royal correspondent for Hello magazine, noted that typically, only popular monarchs earn a name for their age. “There wasn’t an Edward VIII era — he abandoned the throne — so it depends on the monarch, really,” she said.Not everyone appeared immediately thrilled with the name “George.” Its popularity in betting pools meant that gambling houses across Britain were on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars.“We’ve been left with a royal flush,” said Rory Scott, a spokesman for bookmaker Paddy Power. “We always get stung when favorites come good.”However, he added, George was the front-runner from day one for good reason.“It’s a modern name. It ticks lots of boxes,” he said. “William and Kate wanted a modern name, but they have 1,000 years of history to respect. I think the queen would probably approve of ‘George,’ don’t you?”Earlier in the day, Queen Elizabeth II was driven to Kensington Palace to see her great-grandson, becoming the first reigning British monarch since Queen Victoria to meet a third-generation direct heir to the throne. The duke and duchess and their newborn were later seen leaving the palace, their official London residence, reportedly en route to Kate’s parents’ mansion in Bucklebury, a village about 55 miles west of London.© 2013, The Washington Post Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Haiti marks fourth anniversary of quake that killed 250000

first_imgRelated posts:US Secretary of State Kerry presses Haitian president on long-delayed elections Haiti unveils Cabinet to fill political vacuum How the Clintons’ Haiti development plans succeed – and disappoint US Coast Guard finds no survivors in Haiti shipwreck PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti marked four years on Sunday since a violent earthquake shattered the impoverished nation, which is still struggling to recover from the widespread devastation that killed 250,000 people.Haitians, many dressed in white, flocked to church services for somber remembrances for those who perished in the tragedy on Jan. 12, 2010, which left about a million people homeless.But four years on, nearly 200,000 people are still living in dire conditions in temporary shelters, and residents complain of having received little help since nongovernmental organizations left.President Michel Martelly, who has faced protests over the slow pace of rebuilding, declared the anniversary a “day of reflection and commemoration.”He lay flowers early in the day at the site of a mass grave where many of the quake’s victims were buried. And he attended a ceremony at 4:53 p.m., the moment the quake struck four years ago.“Thirty-five seconds, … that’s all the time that was needed, on Jan. 12, 2010, to spread darkness over Haiti. We were all in tears, plunged into despair that day,” Martelly said.Wearing white as he addressed thousands of Haitians gathered for a minute of silence in memory of the catastrophe’s victims, Martelly also thanked “the friends of Haiti who came from all over to help.”He called for Haiti’s 10 million people to unite for reconstruction, saying the Caribbean nation would “move forward with our resources in rebuilding.”“Haiti is like the reed; it bends but does not break,” he said.Flags were to be lowered throughout the country and businesses closed to mark the anniversary, while radio and television stations were encouraged to broadcast programming suitable to the emotional occasion.The devastation is still keenly felt in Port-au-Prince, the teeming capital of the Americas’ poorest country.Faced with criticism over the slow pace of rebuilding, especially of administrative buildings – including the legislative palace – Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe had pledged last week to step on “the accelerator to advance the main projects.”But church ministers on Sunday railed against the time it was taking to reconstruct buildings that were largely leveled throughout the capital.“We are still waiting for reconstruction of the country that has been promised by authorities, but we are certain of getting the reconstruction promised by God,” one pastor told his congregation.Opposition critics have attacked the government for failing to make better progress on rebuilding.“We find ourselves again this Jan. 12, 2014 with sentiments of strong concern … over our true engagement in the politics of reconstructing the country,” Senate President Dieuseul Simon Desras said in a statement questioning the government’s “ability to respond to social needs.”The government says a large portion of millions donated by governments and organizations the world over was spent on the post-earthquake emergency and not for reconstruction.“We were lucky to have help from Venezuela. Most of our projects were accomplished with Venezuelan money. With slim means, we accomplished a lot of things,” Lamothe told AFP, expressing hope that the international community would make good on its aid pledges.He also criticized the international community for failing to provide promised aid of nearly $9 billion.“If the international community had fulfilled its commitment, we would have accomplished 10 times more,” Lamothe said. “But Haiti is better off four years after the earthquake even if there remains much to be done.”Haiti has recently seen an increase in anti-government protests, some breaking out into violent clashes.Protesters have called for the resignation of Martelly, who has been in office since 2011, and are demanding better living conditions.Plans to rebuild Port-au-Prince have been presented to the public, but the construction never happened.“Rebuilding the capital will require the creation of a new downtown and the creation of an administrative center,” Lamothe said.Some 42 public buildings were among those flattened during the earthquake, and most are still lying wrecked. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Name that tree

first_imgSAN GERARDO DE RIVAS, San José– Sierra Allen is 30-feet up in a tree, hacking at a branch with a handsaw. She’s secured up there with a rope system she and a fellow climber invented. Her French braid dangles down her back, looking a bit like a rope itself.Finally her knife severs its target, and a branch sails from the tree, drifting for a short time before it becomes entangled in another tree.Fail.Laughter erupts at the base, where a group of environmentalists, biologists and visitors to Cloudbridge Nature Reserve are gathered for a tree-climbing spectacle. Allen – and her knack for climbing  – plays a key role in this project to identify about 700 unknown trees in the park.Since Cloudbridge’s founding in 2002, the owners have desired to restore the natural environment on its 700 acres flanking Chirripó National Park. The more information the Cloudbridge team can gather about the mix of trees in the area, Cloudbridge director Tom Gode says, the better they can replicate the environment, and rebuild a habitat for wildlife that disappeared from here years ago. Sierra Allen climbs one of the many trees that need to be identified in Cloudbridge Reserve. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesBefore the land belonged to Cloudbridge, it spent decades in the hands of cattle farmers who clear cut the forest so cows could graze, leaving just a few old-growth trees here and there. Reserve workers and volunteers have planted thousands of native trees and set up cameras to track the return of local fauna. Lately, more wild cats have been appearing in camera footage, and three months ago, environmentalists spotted the first sloth in Cloudbridge in more than a decade.To watch as Allen scaled some very tall trees, the interested group ascended a steep trail that winds far above the public portion of the reserve. They veered off the path onto a mountainside of dense cloud forest. In the undergrowth, mosquitoes attacked their foreheads. Chiggers slipped beneath their clothing.Nobody said identifying trees was easy.The process began a few months before Allen arrived. A biologist named Marlena Scheller flew over from Belgium in December. Scheller grabbed low-hanging leaves and used a slingshot and other tools to attempt to ground greenery out of reach. She then took measurements and photographs and recorded the characteristics of the leaves, writing down what the veins looked like and if they had sap inside. If the leaves were hairy, she made a note. Biologist Marlena Scheller studies a leaf. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesThough Scheller hoped to identify many of the trees herself, often it was not possible. Many of the leaves she collected from different trees looked strikingly similar, requiring that they be sent away for identification. But the bigger problem was that hundreds of trees didn’t offer a reachable branch.“We would always joke that we needed monkeys,” Gode said. “Now we’ve got our human monkeys.”Allen and her family came to Cloudbridge for the first time last year and quickly developed an infatuation with the private reserve, which contains scenic waterfalls and towering strangler fig trees. Allen and her father are climbing enthusiasts originally from the Yukon Territory in Canada, but they live much of the year in Providencia, a mountain town in central Costa Rica. They are specialists in rock and strangler fig climbing, and the kind of people who use their spare time to build wilderness ropes courses. Tree climbing equipment sits outside of Cloudbridge’s main house. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesAllen’s father couldn’t make the first round of identification, so she brought another climbing buddy to Cloudbridge last week, volunteering to help gather samples of foliage from around a dozen trees per day. In the mornings, the able-bodied pair of climbers feasted on spaghetti and bounded up the mountain with their gear: carabiners, rope, webbing and slings.Allen – who is 22 – strapped into her gear and began to scramble up the tree on a dual-loop system. She lassoed a rope tight around the trunk, clipped herself to it, then ascended a stairway of webbing. Next, she lassoed a second rope even higher up and ascended the webbing once more, clipping in even higher. A tree climber throws down a sample branch from a treetop. Researchers will use the samples to identify the species of trees in the Cloudbridge Reserve. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesDown below, the group discussed whether this natural climber – who had grown up with a tree house that could only be accessed via cable car – was afraid of anything. Allen overheard, and joked that she was afraid of heights.Her buddy laughed. “She’s afraid of bats,” he said.At 30 feet, there had been just a couple of accessible branches. Allen removed every one of those low-level options, and each one became stuck in the tops of other trees on the way down. Now she searched for a way to get up to the tree’s next level – and more branches. Surrounded by forest canopy, Allen climbed out of sight.As she struggled, her buddy, who asked that his name be withheld so he could stay “off the grid,” told stories of how in summer time, the pair travels to the Yukon to gather morel mushrooms. Once they’ve sold enough mushrooms to support themselves for the remainder of the year, they return to Costa Rica or travel, always in search of the next tree or rock. As he spoke, a thick branch came crashing down through the canopy.The biologist Schiller hustled to retrieve it, nearly losing her footing on the moist, slanted terrain. She studied the leaf for a sign of something familiar and shook her head. “There are so many I can’t name,” she said. This sample and many others would have to be sent to the herbarium in San José for a more formal analysis.Up in the canopy, Allen was attempting to grab more branches from other nearby, trees, which the team realized could make the process much faster. But this time, in yet another fail, the closest trees had already been pruned for samples, and the rest were out of reach.Undeterred, Allen began lowering herself down, glancing around for which enormous tree might be next. Facebook Comments Related posts:Illegal fishing continues unabated in Costa Rica’s treasured Isla del Coco National Park The drought’s silver lining: less dengue Sport fishing season in the South Pacific could generate up to $331 million, study says Mob of tourists at Costa Rica’s Ostional Beach prevents sea turtles from nestinglast_img read more

Costa Rica launches its first video game a leap forward for the

first_img“Gráficamente este título es una belleza y es altamente colorido haciéndole honor a su nombre”. http://t.co/jLRg2uiPyj— Color Guardians (@ColorGuardians) May 13, 2015 Gamers hoping to try out the new Costa Rican video game “Color Guardians” are in for cute smiling characters, vibrant colors and repeated death on many tricky levels.Released on May 12 for PlayStation and on Steam, Color Guardians is the first video game developed in Costa Rica to come out for a console and only the second PlayStation game produced in Latin America.The quirky platform game’s kid-friendly plot is basic. Someone evil stole the world’s color and it’s up to three spike alien creatures, the guardians, to get it back. To do this, the guardians must run through a series of levels collecting orbs and avoiding obstacles.The game took two years to develop and involved more than 50 programers, graphic designers and musicians in its creation. Most reviewers are describing Color Guardians as both beautiful and incredibly challenging, though some have bemoaned its simplicity. Related posts:5 questions for Costa Rican video game creator Claudio Pinto Panama’s former dictator Noriega sues creators of popular video game franchise ‘Call of Duty’ The amazing true story of ‘tuanis’ and ‘brete’ – words to be thankful for Costa Rica celebrates 66th anniversary of the abolition of its army @ColorGuardians challenges me like no game before.. but a good product!— Ivan Nowosiadlo (@ivannowosiadlo) May 14, 2015 While not all the feedback has been glowing, the game represents a huge step forward for Latin America’s fledgling gaming industry.“We are very proud that Sony has given us the opportunity to lead a new wave of super innovative games made in development studios in Latin America,” said Claudio Pinto, the general manager of Fair Play Labs, Color Guardian’s developer.Fair Play Labs is just one of several pioneering game studios in Costa Rica. Last year, Costa Rica’s MOGA studio released an incredibly successful Pokémon knockoff for the Apple iOS platforms. Moravia-based Green Lava Studios also released a 2D platform PC game, “Fenix Rage,” which received rave reviews and will come out for PlayStation before the end of the year.Color Guardians is available for PlayStation4, PlayStation Vita and can also be purchased for $14.99 online through Steam for PC and Mac. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Regulatory Authority updates formula for calculating fuel prices

first_imgCosta Rica’s Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) announced this week that it will begin to take into account the actual amount paid for oil by the Costa Rican Oil Refinery (RECOPE) when calculating the price of fuel at the pump, rather than relying on reference prices for international oil.In addition, ARESEP will stop using the dollar exchange rate on the day it sets new prices, and instead will use the average exchange rate over the previous 15 days.The regulatory agency said the changes in the way it calculates gas prices are designed to bring more transparency to the process.ARESEP also said they expect the new formula to benefit motorists as it would ensure they get prices closer to the actual costs paid and incurred by RECOPE.ARESEP Energy Manager Juan Quesada Espinoza said the new methodology will allow for more transparency in terms of the costs taken into account in setting fuel prices. “This new calculation formula provides a more rigorous, timely, transparent and reliable process, allowing us to transfer the benefits to the people,” he said.ARESEP also announced it will conduct a yearly financial audit of all costs associated with RECOPE’s services, in order to ensure that income from prices paid at the pump is used to assure quality, reliability and optimum service delivery.The new methodology will enter into force following its publication in the official newspaper La Gaceta. Facebook Comments Related posts:Gas prices to drop in August Fuel prices in Costa Rica to decrease on Thursday Gas prices in Costa Rica to remain unchanged through 2015 Gas prices in Costa Rica to drop this weeklast_img read more

From a corner Being AfroLatina in Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Claiming my Afro-Latinidad A look back at 1930s Limón and the real legacy of Afro-Caribbean immigrants Costa Rica’s Supreme Court tells Talamanca: You can’t declare environmentalist expats ‘personas non grata’  A graceful life: Jeannette Boyd Rodríguez and San José’s Afro-Costa Rican history Recently, on a Skype call to my Tica mother in Brooklyn, New York, I was happily surprised to hear a new story about her childhood in Puerto Limón, Costa Rica. I thought that by now I had mined all the possible narratives of a country that I have learned to love and now call home – but there was another precious gem she managed to pull out of her mental archive. This one was about choosing her career path.After 31 years of teaching Spanish in New York, my mom, Norma, is now retired. With a hint of nostalgia, she told me that when she was 13, my abuelita allowed her to gather the local children in their Limón neighborhood and tutor them in math, since she was at the head of her class. She laughingly recounted how she used chalk on the white living room wall simply because her parents saw her potential: she was meant to be a teacher. A bit indignant, she also told me of the aptitude tests she had to take to decide her career before she entered university. All the signs highlighted her strengths in math and promised a career in economics or accounting, but she stood her ground and stated that teaching was her heart’s road.As I ended our call, I looked over at my 10-year old daughter, an Honor Roll, straight-A student at her international school here in Costa Rica who also has a math brain. I smiled and thought that genetics certainly informs our generations, as I am a professor (by training, and a writer by heart), and my daughter has already expressed a desire to start math tutoring among struggling elementary students at her school.  However, this story is not meant to be a reflective walk through my family tree, but rather a narrative on Puerto Limón.When I envision my mother growing up in the Limón of the 1950s, the birthplace of her mother and cousins – my abuelito, Stephen Robotham, was born in Jamaica – I see a space of community, migrations, shifting identities and converging nationalities. I am from a delicious stew of Limonense experiences that are infused in how I raise my children and continue to research and write about my formidable ancestors, mostly famous for running the Northern Quarters at the turn of the 20th century. The apellido Gourzong has quite a bit of traction in Black Costa Rican circles; I am constantly astounded by its legacy and impact.The Limón I have associated with my family as our “place and space” when we entered the Costa Rican landscape with William and Ruth Gourzong is not the “dangerous” place that has been described to me in warnings every time I venture to Limón from San Jose. I know nothing of the criminal elements allegedly lurking in every dark corner of town. Concerned friends advise me to move quickly along the road to Puerto Viejo in order to experience the “real” Caribe of Costa Rica. Puerto Viejo, which I also love, is a tourist mecca filled with hyper-marketed resorts, yoga spas and exotic animals refuges all combined with a “hey mon-Rasta feel.”As a Black woman born in New York to a Costa Rican mother and a Panamanian father, I have been raised with an Afro-Latin@ sensibility. It allows me to appreciate that my cousin, Roberto, an established lawyer in San José, travels to Limón twice a week to check on his restaurant, Yireth in the Caribeños Bus Terminal, because he chooses to support seven families in Limón through his business. My cousin David also has business in Moín that brings him to Limón weekly. Thinking of that treacherous drive through the neblina of the Zurquí, I salute their need to give back to their community. These are the types of “Limón people” I know and respect. However, my family members are not shining singular stars; their dedication to Limón comes from a long tradition of families who etched a formidable community that reaches far beyond the Limón province and into its Diaspora.I have taken groups of writers from the United States and the Caribbean to visit Limón during the Tengo Sed Writers Retreats I host in La Alegría, Siquirres. I always have a few writers who come with pre-warnings about visiting Limón. Their concerns about safety leave me puzzled because our collective experiences 100% of the time have been welcoming. Many of the writers are women of color who know all too well the ways that stereotypical negatives, mainly imported from the racialized U.S. media, attach themselves to Black bodies. They begin to pause when absorbing ideas around fear and blackness. As we walk to eat at the historic Black Star Line restaurant on Calle 5 or snap pictures of sloths in Parque Vargas, the people of Limón have greeted us, giving tidbits of historical facts and granting us “family” status.The faces that I see reflect my own; the beauty in the cadences of speech remind me of my tías. There is no perfect place, yet I will not inherit the wariness of folks in San José and in the Diaspora who hold onto antiquated, negative ideals of urban centers and bodies of color. In this act of resistance, I am acknowledging the human textures of Caribbean life in Costa Rica and all its dynamic elements. Limón is not just a port of entry for goods and a place to eat rice and beans. It is a space of legacy, of communities, of history, of people who at times make a lot out of a little. I want my words to stand as testimony to the multiple realities that make up Costa Rica: a country that continues to stretch its skin towards embracing all the people who call it home.Natasha Gordon-Chipembere, a writer, professor and founder of the Tengo Sed Writers Retreats, moved to Heredia, Costa Rica with her family from New York in June 2014. She may be reached at indisunflower@gmail.com. “Musings from an Afro-Costa Rican” will be published twice-monthly. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Boeing claws back ground lost to Airbus

first_imgFARNBOROUGH, England (AP) – Boeing beat Airbus in the aircraft order stakes at this year’s Farnborough Airshow, booking potential deals worth more than double the size of its European archrival.Though the highlight of its week was unveiled Thursday in Chicago, where it announced a United Airlines order for 150 aircraft, Boeing said it took total orders and commitments over the past week for 396 airplanes, valued at around $37 billion. That is more than double Airbus’ performance of $16.9 billion orders and commitments for a total of 115 aircraft. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family On Thursday, Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS, wrapped up its airshow with a series of deals worth $6.35 billion.It revealed that Russian carrier UTair has ordered 20 short-haul A321s in a deal valued at $2 billion at list prices. The deal, which is firm, represents, the largest order for the type received from a carrier in the region and the first time that UTair has ordered Airbus aircraft.Airbus also announced that Synergy Aerospace, a Latin American company, has firmed up a previous $1.9 billion order for nine long-haul A330 planes. In addition, it said Middle East Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding to buy 10 A320neo aircraft, worth $1 billion at list prices, and that Irish leasing company Avolon has committed to buy 15 A320neo aircraft, worth $1.45 billion at list prices.Despite losing out in the annual battle with Boeing, the company was putting on a brave face.“The quality of orders at Farnborough has been high at the show, with significant endorsement from leading customers of our strategy to continuously innovate and improve our products,” said Fabrice Bregier, Airbus’s chief executive officer.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) “We negotiated to be what we believe to be the best airplanes with the best engines at the best price,” said Jeff Smisek, president and CEO of United.United’s order includes 100 of Boeing’s new fuel-efficient 737 Max 9s, which will start being delivered to United in 2018. United is also buying 50 of Boeing’s current 737s and they are due to start arriving in late 2013.Despite the blockbuster order from United, the airshow’s business has been cooler this year. Boeing’s stream of orders with leasing companies such as GE Capital Aviation Services and Air Lease Corp. failed to excite, while Airbus only mustered one airline order, admittedly a strong commitment from Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific for its new A350 long-haul aircraft.The decline in overall orders is no surprise given the gloomy global economic backdrop and the scale of government cutbacks around the world. The combination of a faltering economy and lower government spending is difficult for the aviation industry, as air travel tracks global economic growth.“The mood during this year’s Farnborough air show was notably more subdued than the mood last year at Paris,” Barclays Capital said in a note to clients. Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   The US aircraft manufacturer leaves Farnborough in better shape than a year ago, when Airbus scored big in Paris _ the French capital and Farnborough take turns hosting one of the aviation industry’s prestige events_ with a series of deals for its revised short-haul aircraft, the A320neo.Neither company will reap the full list value of its announcements, as customers rarely pay the price when ordering big. And though most commitments end up becoming firm, it’s not unknown for them to fall at the last hurdle or two.Even so, the past week provides some relief for Boeing, though it still has a long way to go to make up for last year’s shortfall, when Airbus clinched $72 billion worth of orders, around $50 billion more than Boeing had secured.Most of Boeing’s business this week has been to respond to the challenge presented by the A320neo. Its 737 airplane, particularly the new MAX variant, did well, especially when the company agreed to a $14.7 billion firm order with United Airlines.After inspecting what was on offer, including Airbus’ A320neo, United, the largest U.S. carrier by revenue, agreed to buy 150 Boeing 737s to replace older planes that are not as fuel-efficient.center_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologistlast_img read more

Turkey 8 police killed in landmine blast

first_imgISTANBUL (AP) – Suspected Kurdish rebels detonated a landmine along a highway in eastern Turkey on Sunday, killing eight police officers and wounding nine, Turkish media reported.The attack occurred in Bingol province, where the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the PKK, is active. Video posted on the Dogan News Agency website showed the mangled remains of a white minibus with blown-out windows that had been carrying the police. The vehicle lay at a bend in a road, and ambulances and armored vehicles had gathered in the area as part of the rescue mission. The attack comes amid a surge in fighting between Turkish security forces and Kurdish rebels who seek self-rule in southeastern Turkey. On Saturday, a similar attack on a military convoy killed four soldiers and wounded five in Hakkari province in the southeast, according to the provincial governor’s office.Officials in Hakkari said a total of 123 “terrorists,” a reference to Kurdish rebels, had been killed in military operations in the past 10 days. Hakkari borders Iraq, where Kurdish militants have bases from which they launch hit-and-run attacks on Turkish targets.While Turkey and its Western allies consider the PKK to be a terrorist group, Turkish authorities have sought to address the grievances of many in its Kurdish minority by granting more cultural rights and initiating economic programs in predominantly Kurdish areas. However, Kurdish activists say the measures do not go far enough, and recent fighting has overshadowed such peace initiatives.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How men can have a healthy 2019 Sponsored Stories 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories center_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more