TTAND teams up with TravelBrands to sell Disney Destinations

first_imgTags: The Travel Agent Next Door << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group TORONTO — The Travel Agent Next Door (TTAND) has announced a new long-term, preferred partnership with TravelBrands, with a special focus on growing sales with Disney Destinations.With this partnership, TravelBrands will provide support in the form of:Training: Ongoing training sessions held throughout the year on product and system training on how to easily book Disney DestinationsIncentives: Offered throughout the yearGiveaways: Pro-active trivia games that were created to keep agents engaged in Disney Destinations product knowledge with TravelBrandsMarketing: Creative marketing initiatives provided to agentsSpecialist Programs: Created to enable agents to sell Disney Destinations with confidence through TravelBrandsFams: Training fam to Disney Destinations’ headquarters in Orlando to gain firsthand experience and trainingIn 2017, TravelBrands added a Disney Destinations microsite on its travel agent platform, which Erminia Nigro, Director Sales, says allows agents to learn everything there is to know about the most popular parks, resorts and cruises.More news:  CIE Tours launches first-ever River Cruise Collection“We are providing the information for travel agents right on our platform without having to go anywhere else. All that is needed to do is a simple click on the location of interest and plan away! From accommodations to activities or general information, the microsite has all information required on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Cruises and Aulani,” she says.Flemming Friisdahl, founder of The Travel Agent Next Door, adds: “Our partnership with TravelBrands is an important one and they have brought forward several initiatives to keep our agents focused on selling Disney Destinations throughout the year.”For more information go to or call (416) 367-TAND. Posted bycenter_img TTAND teams up with TravelBrands to sell Disney Destinations Tuesday, February 13, 2018 Sharelast_img read more

Flight Centre Independent to celebrate 10th anniversary at next weeks annual Meetup

first_img Travelweek Group Friday, April 6, 2018 Flight Centre Independent to celebrate 10th anniversary at next week’s annual Meetup << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by TORONTO — It’ll be a meeting of the minds next week in Toronto, when Flight Centre Independent Agents from nearly every province convene for FCI’s Annual Cross-Canada Meetup.Taking place on April 13-14 at Flight Centre’s flagship Travel Centre in downtown Toronto, this year’s Meetup will feature the launch of new booking tools, new marketing and social media initiatives, and a new fee model that gives agents the ability to customize and better control their program expenses. The weekend will also feature the inaugural independent Partner Appreciation Awards, during which supplier partners chosen by FCI agents will be recognized for their work.“Our partners are extremely important to us at FCI,” said FCI General Manager Lee Zanello. “With Flight Centre’s Preferred Partnerships, not just in Canada but globally, we know they help us offer our agents the most extensive and supportive network in the country. I cannot wait to show our appreciation for all that they do with these upcoming awards.”More news:  Beep, beep! Transat hits the streets with Cubamania truckAs FCI turns 10 years old this month, the weekend will also celebrate the January launch of sister U.S.-based brand, Independent by Liberty Travel.“Independent by Liberty Travel has exceeded all of our initial expectations in the first few months,” says Flight Centre Vice President for the Independent Agent Brands in North America, Cameron McLeod. “There is a fantastic camaraderie between our Canadian and US businesses with Canada guiding the way with their 10 years of experience and the US able to contribute heavily with strong supplier relations and technology and systems innovations. It’s a fantastic time for Independent Agents to come on board with the company on both sides of the border.”Flight Centre has three distinct Independent offerings working with individual Independent contractors, small agencies who appreciate the backend support and earning potential offered by a Global brand, and partners who have unique and specific requirements from a host agency.“Our size and strength in the Canadian travel industry gives us the resources to work directly with each agent or agency on an individual basis,” Zanello says. “We aren’t cookie-cutter and we work hard to ensure we have a host solution that is flexible enough to fit pretty much any arrangement.”More news:  Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perksAdd to that a company culture that doesn’t take itself too seriously, she adds, “and you get opportunities like this that help people realize they are not just a part of our business, they are a part of our family.”Flight Centre Independent is Flight Centre’s host-agency solution for Independent Contractors and has agents in nearly every province and territory in Canada. It operates as part of the larger Flight Centre Leisure business. Tags: Flight Centre, Spherelast_img read more

Deltas Medallion Members can now Reclaim My Status with new loyalty benefit

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> ATLANTA — The newest addition to Delta’s Medallion program allows its SkyMiles Medallion Members to “Reclaim My Status” following a life moment or event that temporarily affects their travel plans.“Getting back into travel after a big change can be stressful, and this is one more way we’re showing Medallion Members that we are here for them when they need it,” said Sandeep Dube, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Customer Engagement and Loyalty, and CEO – Delta Vacations. “Loyalty is a two-way street and as a leading consumer brand, we are always looking for new ways to take care of our customers.”Each situation will be evaluated on a one-on-one basis, however major life events that impact travel may include:Becoming a parent, including maternity, paternity, adoption or foster leaveRecovering from serious illnessSustaining serious injuryChanging jobs or careersCaregiving for a family memberGetting a degreeHOW IT WORKSWhen Medallion Members are ready to start travelling after a big change that caused a loss of or change of Status, they should submit a request to get Medallion Status back at news:  Beep, beep! Transat hits the streets with Cubamania truckA decision will be made within five business days (however, can take up to two weeks) and if approved, they will automatically enjoy three months of complimentary Medallion Status. Then, members who meet the minimum travel and spend thresholds for that Status Tier over that three-month period will retain their status.For example, if a Member enrolls in Reclaim My Status on or before Dec. 31, 2019, and meets the thresholds, Medallion Status will be extended through Jan. 31, 2021. Or if a Member enrolls in Reclaim My Status between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020, and meets the thresholds, Medallion Status will be extended through Jan. 31, 2022.To learn more about Reclaim My Status and view applicable terms, visit Posted by Share Delta’s Medallion Members can now ‘Reclaim My Status’ with new loyalty benefitcenter_img Travelweek Group Tags: Delta Friday, May 10, 2019 last_img read more

Azamara simplifies its branding drops the Club Cruises

first_imgTags: Azamara Club Cruises Share MIAMI — Azamara Club Cruises is streamlining its branding to Azamara, removing the term ‘Club Cruises’ from its name.The cruise line says the change reflects “a redefined dedication” to the brand’s Destination Immersion concept and its focus on immersive experiences.“Our passion for travel has allowed our Destination Immersion concept to evolve over the last 10 years,” says Azamara President and CEO Larry Pimentel. “Today we expect even greater growth in our on-shore programming as our services improve. Now available for every trip from October 2019 and for all our future deployments, we will provide a unique variety of products carefully selected, reinforcing our identity and our ‘Explore Further’ mantra.”Pimentel added that Azamara is launching the largest selection of pre and post trip land programs in the entire cruise industry. Azamara offers more than 1,700 shore-based program offerings, complementing its immersive approach and reinforcing its commitment to take passengers to the heart of a destination, he says. More news:  Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJThe land program options include …. AzAmazing Journeys: Carefully selected programs with a small and intimate group led by expert guides (average group size from 12 to 18 guests) such as: AzAamazing in Asia: In search of Orangutnan in Borneo; AzAmazing in South America: The Bolivian Salt Flats and Atacama Desert of Chile; AzAmazing in Australia: Rail & Sail in Indian Pacific. Land Journeys: Programs that allow guests to discover cities from different points of view and offer an à la carte travel experience. Examples include: Land Journey in Europe: Norway On the Road; Land Journey in South America: In search of Jaguar: Pantanal; Land Journey in New Zealand: South Island – Alpine Rail & Mount CookStay Local: Programs that allow passengers with limited time to fully discover one and unique destination, in cities including Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Dubai, Hong Kong and Monte Carlo. << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, June 18, 2019 center_img Travelweek Group Posted by Azamara simplifies its branding, drops the Club Cruiseslast_img read more

Are US chains taking over Costa Rica

first_imgThe Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce said 171 foreign franchises operate in Costa Rica, an increase from 147 in 2011, and they operate approximately 900 stores. Not all new franchises arrive from the United States, although 60 percent of foreign franchises are U.S.-based. Spanish clothing store Zara will bolster its number of locations in the country. Brazilian restaurant chain Spoleto is set for an expansion of 15 franchises in five years. Costa Rican eatery Bagelman’s  intends to expand. But the trend seems to be toward bringing in more U.S. franchises. The reason seems to be both Costa Rica’s eagerness for foreign investment and an improving U.S. economy that allows U.S. companies to invest in store construction and brand promotion. And Costa Rica’s middle class is a worthy target market. “Costa Rica is a good market for many kinds of international brands, including Pollo Tropical,” wrote Marc Mushkin, Pollo Tropical’s senior vice president of international development, in an email. “This is because of a number of factors, including the growing purchasing power of consumers, high levels of international tourism, an educated workforce and good supply chains for most products.”A large list of U.S. brands has opened stores in Costa Rica in the past year. Carl Jr.’s opened multiple stores near the end of 2011. They’ll try to compete in a burger market that has dozens of McDonald’s (the first-ever Costa Rica franchise was a McDonald’s, which opened in 1979), Burger Kings and Wendy’s. And coming soon: Denver, Colorado’s fast-casual burger chain Smashburger.Family restaurant Applebee’s inaugurated its second Costa Rican location in the spring, in Sabanilla, east of San José. The chain plans to open two more restaurants in the provinces of Alajuela and Guanacaste by the end of 2014. In November, Applebee’s will be joined by Chili’s, another member of the casual dining brethren that will open in Mall Multiplaza, in the southwestern suburb of Escazú. Moe’s Southwestern Grill will introduce Tex-Mex to Central America in June, also in Escazú. Salads and sandwich franchise Cosi’s is christening multiple stores here in 2012 and 2013. That brand has plenty of catching up to do, as sandwich shop Quizno’s opened its 20th location in the country last month. On Wednesday, Quizno’s won an eight -year contract to operate the food court at Juan Santamaría International Airport, the busiest airport in the country. With a $4 million investment, QSR International will open another Quizno’s, and a KFC, Smashburger and Teriyaki Experience in the airport food court. Still, Quizno’s has less than half the number of franchises in the country as sandwich king Subway.Restaurants constitute about a quarter of the foreign franchises in Costa Rica. Clothing stores and hotels each represent another 20 percent. In April, Starwood Hotels opened two more lodgings, compounding a market that contains big names like Holiday Inn and Hilton Hotels.Grupo Roble, the Salvadoran group that owns Mall Multiplaza Escazú, Multiplaza del Este in San José and other projects, closed the Escazú location of Honduran department store Carrión at the beginning of the year. Carrión will be replaced by Tico department store Cemaco and three popular U.S. clothing stores: The Gap, Banana Republic and Forever 21. The rest of the U.S. franchises fall under a wide gamut of categories ranging from beauty shops to auto rentals. But those brands are showing less noticeable growth than the biggest areas of food, clothing and hotels.Bad News for Tico Brands?The number of Costa Rican chains is increasing alongside foreign companies. But the risk of oversaturating the market rises with each store opening. José Andrés Masís, a franchise legal expert, said he believes U.S. brands can survive in Costa Rica because many already are well-known by young Ticos. “The No. 1 factor for foreign chains, is the openness of Costa Ricans toward foreign brands, especially U.S. ones,” Masís said.The relatively strong economy in Costa Rica, compared to the rest of the region, means Costa Ricans are aware of many of the brands that hope to break into the market. Many U.S. brands already have a toehold in the country since locals know products from vacations in the U.S., via the Internet or from television commercials. Local malls are providing more spaces for foreign brands. Avenida Escazú, the plaza that will be home to Starbucks by May, keeps growing. In 2013, Costa Rica will see the inauguration of two major complexes: Lincoln Plaza in Moravia, northeast of San José, and Mango Plaza in the northern Alajuela province.It’s difficult to say if these foreign businesses are taking spaces that would go to Costa Rican brands, or if there is more opportunity for investment. But certainly there’s a demand for more foreign products.Elsa Rojas, marketing manager of Grupo Roble in Costa Rica, said that’s part of the reason the company wants to bring clothing stores like Gap and Forever 21 to the isthmus. “[Consumers] like to touch and to buy things here, like they would in the United States,” Rojas said.In many instances, Costa Ricans prefer foreign products, which complicates business for national chains, Masís said. He could list only a few items that Costa Ricans took pride in buying local, citing sustainable tourism, fruits and vegetables or coffee. Starbucks is one foreign company Masís feels might struggle here. He said, “If Starbucks does not promote Costa Rican coffee, if it does not make it obvious that its product will be Costa Rican, then it’s going to suffer problems, because we are very proud of our coffee.”However, for products like clothing or shoes, Costa Ricans shrug their shoulders about the item’s origin, Masís said. Their main concern is buying something that’s affordable and fashionable. That does not make it impossible for national businesses to best foreign products, and some national brands have succeeded in not only dominating the Costa Rican market, but also expanding outside the country to the rest of Central America. Pops Ice Cream serves as an apotheosis for Costa Rican business owners. The ice cream store even has its own U.S. location in Florida, where it goes by a name that brims national pride, Pops Costa Rica’s Creamery.Masís said to survive, local retailers need to reassess their focus and emphasize promoting products that are local, cheaper and better than the competition. With the right strategy, Costa Rica can avoid a future where Starbucks and McDonald’s are on every corner. But that will depend on how national business owners approach this surmounting challenge. “If Costa Rican businesses cling to old ways, then yes, they could suffer enormous losses in sales, and it’s possible they could disappear,” Masís said. “If they learn how to adjust mindsets, if they learn how to suit themselves to the games of the competition, they’re going to produce better products, because they will toughen up. If they leave their comfort zones what they can do is create tools, create products that can compete directly with foreign chains.”is create tools, create products that can compete directly with foreign chains.” Facebook Comments U.S. fast food chain Pollo Tropical opened its first Costa Rica location in April. Related posts:Dairy Queen invests $1 million to open four stores in Costa Rica Hooters, Chili’s, Applebee’s expanding in Costa Rica Carl’s Jr. hamburgers come to Costa Rica Wendy’s to Open First of 15 Locations in Costa Rica Alberto Font From the print editionTeddy Mora devours a plate of marinated ribs at the new Pollo Tropical restaurant across the street from San José’s Central Park. Next to him, O’Hong Wong finishes off a couple of chicken wings. This is not their first time eating here, and they’re already fans of the U.S. chain, headquartered in Miami, Florida. The restaurant chain opened its first location in Costa Rica at the beginning of April, and has plans for four more sites here. After returning from a day of work in the city of Heredia, north of the capital, Mora and Wong appreciate a brand new restaurant where they can grab dinner. But not even two weeks after it opened, Pollo Tropical lost its status as the latest chicken franchise in town. On April 13, Popeyes, a U.S. fried-chicken franchise from Louisiana, opened a $1.5 million Costa Rican restaurant in the eastern San José suburb of Curridabat. In the same market, the two must square off against U.S. franchises KFC and Church’s Chicken, Guatemalan brand Pollo Campero and Costa Rica’s own Rostipollos, among others. The sector of restaurants specializing in chicken embodies only a small part of the influx of U.S. brands that are moving here. The arrivals could oversaturate the market and result in fierce competition between both international and local brands, market analysts said. But franchise expansion continues because customers like Mora enjoy the increasing number of options. “I think it’s good because you have more to choose from,” Mora, 37, said. “[There are] more options for food, for fast food. … There’s a lot of variety. It’s always hard to find authentic Costa Rican food in central San José. At home, we eat casados, [Costa Rica’s traditional dish, with] rice, beans, meat and plantains. When we leave the house we want to try something different.”last_img read more

Highway to the Caribbean reopens

first_imgAt 10 a.m. on Friday, authorities from the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) reopened a blocked section of Route 32, the highway connecting San José with the province of Limón.The road had been closed since Wednesday after a landslide dumped 6,400 square meters of debris on the road, due to heavy rains.MOPT engineers reopened the highway after monitoring the mountain, but they recommended drivers remain alert for possible falling debris. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img

Whats new in the mobile market

first_imgNo related posts. By Alberto Font and AFPThe Mobile World Congress (MWC), held Feb. 25-28 in Barcelona, Spain, is the mecca for mobile phone companies and tech fans. At last year’s event, some 1,500 exhibitors showcased new gadgets to 67,000 people. The trade fair is symbolic of the growing industry, which offers cutting-edge technology to drive smartphone and tablet sales and is changing the way we communicate. Samsung and Apple are the industry giants, pursued by other competitors, including Nokia, Huawei and Alcatel, among others. Nokia showcased its Lumia 520 and 720 smartphones, which are similar to more expensive brands and offer built-in cameras, GPS and other features at half the price of industry leaders ($183 and $327, respectively). China’s Huawei, the world’s No. 3 smartphone company with 5.3 percent of the global market, launched its Ascend P2, marketed as the fastest Internet phone. The new P2 will cost $526, much lower than the $892 iPhone 5 and the $853 Samsung Galaxy III, which hit stores last year and are the top-two selling smartphones. With 29 percent of global smartphone sales, Samsung launched its mini-tablet Galaxy Note 8.0, hoping to take a share of the market from Apple’s iPad.Other brands compete by being innovative. Chinese company ZTE showcased its “phablet” this week, a model that is half telephone and half tablet with a 5.7-inch screen and 13-megapixel camera. “ZTE continues broadening horizons by offering customers that latest in mobile technology,” ZTE’s Mobile Sales Director He Shiyou said. According to consulting firm Deloitte, global smartphone sales could reach two billion units by 2014, potentially cutting into laptops’ and personal computers’ share of the market. However, Deloitte said that despite the growth in the mobile market, personal computers will continue to be used for 80 percent of Internet traffic, as computers have faster processors, bigger monitors and better keyboards. Although smartphone and tablet sales are growing at a faster pace than personal computers, pc sales are growing, too. Companies like microchip manufacturer Intel, whose primary market is personal computers, are reacting to more competition from the mobile market. According to Karla Blanco, Intel Costa Rica’s director of corporate affairs, Intel manufactures the microchip processors for smartphones like the Motorola Razr i and tablets by Dell, Acer and HP.“Intel is investing in research and development for new technologies in order to continue providing innovative solutions,” Blanco said. While Intel’s profits were down in 2012 compared the previous year, Blanco said that could be attributed to the company’s investment in R&D. Large financial companies also participated in MWC, including PayPal, which hopes to adapt its online payment system to the mobile phone environment. “In spite of being a trade show dedicated to the mobile telephone industry, it has broad implications for the entire global economy,” said Ian Fogg, an analyst at the firm IHS.“Today, mobile represents what the Internet represented in 1999. Everyone should have a mobile strategy,” he added. There are changes in store this year for apps, too. According to Deloitte, up to 100 mobile operators will offer “all-you-can-eat” services with unlimited access to certain applications with the payment of a monthly subscription. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica counts for 40 percent of CAFTA exports to the US

first_imgNo related posts. Looking back on the previous five years after the passing of the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), Costa Rica and the United States are enjoying the biggest fruits from the then-controversial free trade agreement, according to a World Bank report presented on Monday.Costa Rica accounts for 40 percent of CAFTA’s exports to the United States, far outpacing its Central American neighbors. Thanks in part to CAFTA, Costa Rica has significantly diversified its exports, including computer processors and medical supplies, as well as more traditional goods like coffee, bananas and pineapple, valued at just under $4.5 billion in 2012, according to statistics from the Foreign Trade Ministry.“The growth and development of a country like Costa Rica is inexorably tied to its integration in the global economy. That’s why we should continue working hard to eliminate obstacles both foreign and domestic that restrict our capacity to compete,” Foreign Trade Minister Anabel González said.    During the conference, hosted by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas in Escazú, World Bank’s Director for Central America Felipe Jaramillo said that CAFTA found “fertile ground” in Costa Rica, celebrating the country’s ability to attract foreign direct investment from the U.S., diversify its exports and increase its competitivity.Jaramillo said that Costa Rica’s policy of “smart globalization,” investing in its human capital, has allowed it to succeed under the once-controversial trade agreement.Costa Rica ratified CAFTA-DR, a free trade agreement with the United States, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic, in 2007. A national referendum at the time passed with 51 percent voting “yes” after a protracted national debate. The vote was similarly close in the United States, where the House of Representatives voted 217-215 in favor of the regional free trade agreement.Just under 75 percent of businesses surveyed said that CAFTA had a positive impact on their operations. Only 26.6 percent surveyed said that the trade agreement had “no effect” on their business. Possible shocks to state monopolies, and consumer services and prices were at the core of critics’ concerns about CAFTA, but the World Bank director observed that some previous state monopolies have not been as hard-hit as some CAFTA critics feared.The erstwhile state insurance monopoly, INS, has retained a 95 percent market share in life insurance policies since the market opened to outside competition three years ago. In other insurance markets INS still holds roughly 90 percent of the policyholders, according to the director’s comments.The same could not be said for the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), which had a monopoly on the country’s telecommunications sector pre-CAFTA. ICE lost roughly 30 percent of its mobile market share to outside competition and 80 percent of its mobile broadband customers between 2010 and 2012.Christopher Padilla, who was U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce during the CAFTA negotiations, reflected that there are limits to what a trade agreement can achieve.“One thing that didn’t happen was the strengthening of democratic institutions,” Padilla said. “CAFTA was a necessary but not sufficient mechanism to strengthen democracy. [Nicaraguan President Daniel] Ortega has not messed with the agreement because he sees the benefits he gets from it, and that might have stopped certain actions like those seen in Venezuela, or Bolivia or Ecuador,” the trade negotiator observed.Padilla seems to have overlooked a report last week from Nicaragua, which indicated that Ortega’s Sandinista government plans to overhaul no fewer than 39 constitutional articles – roughly one-fifth of Nicaragua’s Magna Carta. Key amendments would give Ortega additional powers to govern by fiat, empower the military’s role in government by allowing active officers to hold civilian posts, eliminate the already disregarded constitutional ban on presidential re-election, and give Sandinista party structures, known as “Family Councils,” a legal mandate to meddle in the private lives of Nicaraguans. Nevertheless, Jaramillo said that Costa Rica must continue investing in infrastructure and education (a recent budget proposal by Laura Chinchilla’s administration would actually cut education spending), while encouraging innovation and a flexible regulatory framework to continue getting the most out of the trade agreement.As speakers trumpeted the successes of CAFTA, González looked forward to the next major trade agreement in the wings, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is a growing free trade alliance between several countries in the Asian-Pacific region. Costa Rica is one of several countries that have expressed interest in joining the TPP.  Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Hes alive Nicaraguas Ortega out of sight for days reappears as if

first_imgBrenes, 64, who posed with Ortega in front of television cameras, is the second cardinal from Nicaragua, following the influential catholic leader Miguel Obando, named cardinal in 1985 by Pope John Paul II.After returning to power in 2007, Ortega shifted mightily toward the Catholic faith, along with his wife, Murillo.Following the holy meet-and-greet, Ortega took off for Venezuela, where he plans to take part in the first anniversary commemoration of the death of his colleague, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.“We have to head to Venezuela, because we have the anniversary” of Chávez’s death, Ortega said on Monday night.Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is planning a large civic and military parade on Wednesday for Chávez, who died of cancer a year ago. The ceremony will take place as Venezuela has been plunged in chaos for the past few weeks over violent anti-government protests. MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega reappeared in public Monday after a 10-day absence that had sparked rumors he was sick or even dead.He did so at Managua’s international airport as he received Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, arriving from the Vatican after a visit with Pope Francis.“You have carried out the miracle of resurrecting me, because a lot of people thought I was dead,” said a smiling Ortega, who is 68.Rumors had been flying in this Central American country because of Ortega’s 10-day absence from official ceremonies.The rumors were accentuated last Thursday when Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa cancelled a planned visit to Managua.The Quito government said it was because of scheduling problems cited by the Nicaraguan government.Ortega also cancelled – via his wife, First Lady Rosario Murillo – an annual commemoration of a battle in which his brother was killed more than three decades ago.Many had speculated as to the president’s health, some even spreading the rumor he has sought treatment in Cuba.Ortega and Murillo, who is the official Sandinista spokeswoman, joined thousands of catholics and Sandinista youth to welcome Brenes.“Welcome, in the name of our people, who love you,” Ortega told the cardinal, who brought  greetings for the Nicaraguan leader from the pope. @TheTicoTimes #Nicaraguan President #DanielOrtega alive and well in #Managua this evening.— Disarm (@Disarm) March 4, 2014 Related posts:Can Nicaragua survive the crisis in Venezuela? ‘Trees of Life’: Nicaragua capital transformed into first lady’s new-age vision Nicaragua’s Ortega defends military ties with Russia Russia’s Putin in Cuba, Nicaragua to rekindle Latin America ties Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Solís to suspend Costa Ricas carbon neutrality goal

first_imgIf elected, Citizen Action Party presidential candidate Luis Guillermo Solís will abandon Costa Rica’s 2021 carbon neutrality goal, Reutersreported Friday.Solís, the last man standing after National Liberation Party candidate Johnny Araya suddenly announced the indefinite suspension of his campaign last week, will most likely be elected Costa Rica’s next president on April 6.According to Solís’ environmental advisor Patricia Madrigal, the party plans to set a more realistic date for carbon neutrality, likely around 2025.Madrigal told Reuters this week:“We don’t think it would be possible to reach carbon neutrality by 2021, because the most important tasks to reduce emissions in the country are yet to be done.”The goal, set in 2009 by then-president Óscar Arias, was chosen to line up with Costa Rica’s bicentennial. This would have made Costa Rica the first carbon-neutral country in the world.It was not until 2012 that the government released its plans for reaching carbon neutrality. According to the timeline, the country should be in the second phase of implementation, but large chunks of the first phase have not yet taken effect.“Right now you can put a big check mark next to the part of the plan that called for carbon mitigation through forests,” Environment Minister René Castro told The Tico Times in January, then still confident the government could reach the 2021 goal. “The problem is the transportation sector. That part of the plan is moving, but it is moving very slowly.”According to data from the country’s Environment Ministry, transportation generates nearly 70 percent of Costa Rica’s carbon emissions.Last year Riteve SyC, the company in charge of mandatory vehicle inspections in Costa Rica, reported that more than a third of Costa Rica’s vehicles are 13-20 years old. A 2013 study from the University of Costa Rica  also found that traffic congestion in the country’s capital increases emissions by up to 30 percent.To offset these emissions, the carbon neutrality plan stipulated that 20-25 percent of the country’s busses and taxis would need to switch to carbon-neutral alternatives by 2014. According to Leiner Vargas, the head researcher for the government’s carbon neutrality plan, this has not happened.“Have you been in an electric taxi recently? Because I certaintly haven’t,” Vargas told The Tico Times. “There has been no political volition to get this done. There are no real incentives for anyone in public transportation to switch to a more efficient vehicle.” Vargas estimates that about 10-15 percent of the overdue first phase has been completed. The rest, he says, “is beautifully laid out on paper.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Where is the environmental discussion in Costa Rica’s presidential campaign? Johnny Araya is down and out, but not his party, says analyst Solís seeks 1 million votes in runoff election to strengthen his mandate Live Costa Rica presidential election resultslast_img read more

President Solís appoints 3 new ministers new head of National Insurance Institute

first_imgRelated posts:Solís administration cagey on plans for gay union, in vitro fertilization bills Costa Rican president presents draft decree to legalize in vitro fertilization Costa Rica IVF decree loses support of public health care system Costa Rica’s Supreme Court strikes down decree on IVF legalization, orders lawmakers to act President Luis Guillermo Solís announced five new Cabinet members on Thursday evening, including three ministers to replace ones who have left or been fired in recent months.Dr. Fernando Llorca Castro will be the new health minister, taking the place of María Elena López Núñez, who resigned in February citing family and personal reasons. Llorca has served as head of outpatient services for the Costa Rican Social Security System, or Caja, and has worked in health insurance administration in Spain and the U.K.Mauricio Ventura Aragón, former director of the National Tourism Chamber (1994-1999) and current member of San José’s tourism board, will take over as tourism minister. The former minister, Wilhelm von Breymann, resigned last week in the midst of heavy criticism from private sector representatives, who felt he wasn’t representing their interests.Marcelo Jenkins Coronas, a computer science professor at the University of Costa Rica, will be the new minister of science and technology. President Solís asked former Minister Gisella Kopper to resign on April 10 for her role in drafting a controversial bill that would have allowed the government to shutter radio and television stations for broadcasting “lies” or offending public morality.Solís appointed Emilio Arias Rodríguez as vice minister of telecommunications to replace Allan Ruiz, who was also sacked over the media bill scandal. Arias is a public policy specialist who’s worked for various government agencies, including the Public Services Regulatory Authority.Finally, Solís named Elian Villegas Valverde, a lawyer and expert in financial systems management, as the new executive president of the National Insurance Institute. The former executive president, Sergio Alfaro Salas, left his post on April 17 to become the new presidency minister.Solís’ Cabinet remake — and reshuffling – comes after five ministers and 16 high-level officials have either resigned or been asked to leave during the president’s first year in office. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Arts and culture at a glance the week ahead in Costa Rica

first_img Facebook Comments In Playa Ocotal, Guanacaste, the Hotel Villa Casa Blanca will host art-lovers foran exhibition by Spanish artist Sara Florez-Rodriguez; view her depictions of flora and fauna, “Ciclos Naturales,” and sample tapas and drinks (Saturday, April 2).Back in San José, the National Theater kicks off a new series, “Aperitivo musical,” in which guests will enjoy a welcome cocktail, finger food, and a chance to tap their feet or dance up a storm just a few feet from the musicians during concerts in the theater’s lobby. This week, catch saxophone-percussion group Sonsax (Saturday, April 2).The Cine Magaly’s French Film Festival fills the screen with works that examine African emigration to Europe (“HOPE,” Friday, April 1), Haiti’s revolutionary hero (“Toussaint Louverture,” Saturday, April 2), a beloved comic strip (“Titeuf,” Sunday, April 3) and French film itself (“Maestro,” Monday, April 4). Related posts:A national festival, a grand old opera and other happenings around Costa Rica The Prague Ballet, an international blues festival, and other happenings around Costa Rica Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica India Fest, San Ramón run and other happenings around Costa Ricalast_img read more

Waiting for the weekend

first_imgRelated posts:Just another manic Monday… The Last Supper, Caribbean-style To the streets we go, bearing lanterns Spotted in Cahuita It’s Friday and this Aracari bird knows it! While appreciating the sunrise at the Caribbean side of the country, the early bird glances into the horizon and awaits the weekend joyfully as we all do so.For more stories and photos from Kristel, visit her blog, The Tiny Travelogue, or follow her (and her dog’s) adventures in the tropics and beyond on Facebook or Instagram. Would you like to submit a photo to our #TTPicOfTheDay series – the view from your home or favorite Costa Rican spot, or any other image you care to share? Please send horizontal photos at least 1100 pixels wide to We’d love to see the sights with you. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

The fastest sloth wins

first_imgRelated posts:Slothy Sunday Four Seasons Resort hosting job fairs across Costa Rica The energy of sound Covering Santa Teresa The Sloth Ironman Games 2018 hosted by the Toucan Rescue Ranch are coming to an end.Throughout the week the sloths were competing in different games like the Poop-Off Contest. You can watch the past events on Toucan’s Facebook page or their Youtube channel.Today at 1 p.m. the winners will be announced and celebrated. Until then you still have the opportunity to donate to your favorite sloth. Each dollar equals one point, the sloth with the most points from the donations and the games’ results wins.The money will be used to help bring the sloths back into the wild. After the games, you can continue to donate to help them reach their goal.Look out for a longer article about the events in the following days. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Latest developments on antiIslam film protests

first_imgIn London, around 250 protesters marched noisily but peacefully through Britain’s capital to the U.S. embassy. The group, which called itself the “Defenders of The Prophet,” held placards denouncing the U.S. and perceived Western imperialism.__TURKEYHundreds of people gathered in Istanbul’s Beyazit Square to protest the film. The protest was organized by Turkey’s main Islamist political party, Saadet.___WEST BANKIn the city of Nablus, about 200 people demonstrated against the film as Muslim clerics throughout the territory preached against it in Friday sermons.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Several dozen protesters briefly stormed the embassy compound, tearing down the American flag and raising a banner bearing the Muslim profession of faith. They also set fire to an American school adjacent to the embassy compound and prevented firefighters from approaching it. The school appeared to be empty and no injuries were reported.___EGYPTRiot police clashed with hundreds of protesters blocks away from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, killing one protester, as the president broadcast an appeal to Muslims to protect embassies and tried to patch up strained relations with Washington. After weekly prayers, a crowd in Cairo’s Tahrir Square tore up an American flag, and waved a black, Islamist flag. When protesters tried to move toward the embassy, ranks of police confronted them, firing tear gas.___LEBANONSecurity forces opened fire in the northeastern Lebanese city of Tripoli, killing one person after a crowd angry over the film set fire to a KFC and a Hardee’s restaurant. About 25 people were wounded in the melee, including 18 policemen who were hit with stones and glass.___SUDANSeveral hundred protesters stormed the German Embassy in the capital, Khartoum, burning a car parked behind its gates and trash cans before police firing tear gas drove them out. There appeared to be no injuries to embassy staff and no apparent damage to the building. Most protesters then dispersed, but one group marched to the nearby British Embassy. __YEMENSecurity forces shot live rounds in the air and fired tear gas at a crowd of around 2,000 protesters trying to march to the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Sanaa. Police kept the crowd at bay about a block away. Friday’s demonstration came a day after hundreds stormed the embassy compound and burned the American flag.___INDIAThousands protested in the volatile Indian-controlled region of Kashmir, burning U.S. flags and calling President Barack Obama a “terrorist.” The top government cleric reportedly demanded Americans leave immediately.In the southern city of Chennai, protesters threw stones at the U.S. Consulate, shattering some windows and burning an effigy of Obama. Police quickly cleared the area, arresting more than 100 protesters.___ISRAELThe Israeli police say about 400 people marched toward the U.S. consulate in east Jerusalem in protest over the prophet film. Demonstrators threw bottles and stones at police, who responded by firing stun grenades. Four protesters were arrested and the crowd was prevented from reaching the U.S. consulate.___BAHRAINMore than 2,000 protesters chanted against the film and burned American and Israeli flags after Friday prayers in Diraz, outside the capital, Manama. Security forces were absent. Separately, Bahrain’s Interior Ministry ordered media regulators to attempt to block access to the film clip. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories CAIRO (AP) – Here’s a look at protests across the Middle East and elsewhere on Friday, four days after crowds angry over an anti-Muslim film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad began assaulting a string of U.S. embassies in the region.____TUNISIAViolent protests outside the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Tunis, were met with tear gas and gunshots, leaving two people dead, 29 others injured and plumes of black smoke wafting over the city.center_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix ___BANGLADESHSome 5,000 hardline Muslims marched in the streets of the capital, Dhaka, after Friday prayers, burning U.S. and Israeli flags and calling for the death of the filmmaker. Police prevented them from marching toward the U.S. Embassy several miles away.___AFGHANISTANAbout 1,500 protested outside the eastern city of Jalalabad, shouting “Death to America” and urging President Hamid Karzai to sever relations with the U.S.___IRAQHundreds demonstrated in Baghdad’s northern Sunni neighborhood of Azamaiyah, some shouting: “No, no America! No, no to Israel,” and, “We are ready to sacrifice ourselves for our Prophet.” Dozens also marched in Baghdad’s poor Sadr City district. In the southern city of Basra, about 1,000 took to the streets and burned the American and Israeli flags. One banner said: “Freedom doesn’t mean offending two billion Muslims.”___IRANThousands shouted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” in Tehran in a demonstration after Friday prayers. Some burned the American and Israeli flags. State TV says similar protests were held in other Iranian cities.___PAKISTAN Hundreds of hardline Muslims held peaceful protests against the film throughout Pakistan, shouting slogans and carrying banners criticizing the U.S. and those involved in the film. Police in Islamabad set up barricades and razor wire to block off a diplomatic enclave where the U.S. Embassy and many other foreign missions are located.___SYRIAAbout 200 protesters waved the Syrian flag and shouted anti-American slogans outside the long-closed U.S. Embassy in Damascus. The crowd held banners saying: “He who curses the Prophet doesn’t seek democracy” and “a nation whose Prophet is Muhammad, would never kneel down.” The U.S. embassy has been closed since February because of the country’s bloody conflict that has killed about 23,000 people.___QATARAbout 1,000 protesters gathered outside the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy in the capital, Doha, chanting anti-US slogans and calling for Washington to remove its military presence from the strategic Gulf nation.An influential cleric reminded worshippers that the American government had no role in the film and that “loyalty to the Prophet is not expressed by attacking embassies.”___GREAT BRITAIN Comments   Share   Check your body, save your life Sponsored Stories 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breacheslast_img read more

Helicopter with 13 aboard crashes in Peru jungle

first_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Top Stories Comments   Share   Curaray is located 1,107 kilometers (690 miles) northeast of Peru’s capital, Lima.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix LIMA, Peru (AP) – Officials say a helicopter chartered by French oil company Perenco with 13 people on board has gone down in Peru’s remote northeastern jungle.Perenco said in a statement that the MI-8 helicopter carrying 13 Peruvians was on a flight from the Amazon city of Iquitos to its Block 67 field Sunday when it crashed for an as yet undetermined reason.Peru’s air force said it has sent a Twin Otter plane to the Curaray river area near the oil field. Perenco said the armed forces had begun rescue operations but that so far “no survivors have been found.” Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

Cashstrapped UN food agency reduces help to Syrian refugees

first_imgCANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The United Nations’ food agency is cutting back on assistance to thousands of Syrian refugees after an appeal for a ceasefire to enable Syrians feed themselves went unheeded, World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said on Friday.The WFP appealed in May for a humanitarian pause in fighting in Syria to let farmers harvest a bumper wheat crop in the country’s northeast, an Islamic State movement stronghold, and bring it to markets in Syria’s west, including Aleppo and Homs. Cousin said because there was no ceasefire, the wheat is being stored at the farming belt and will likely be sold in Turkey.“We’re very disappointed that the calls for a cease in the fighting to support the harvest was not heeded by the parties,” Cousin told The Associated Press.“That wheat that is harvested cannot be brought across lines of conflict into the area where it is needed most by people who are suffering now into a fifth year of this conflict,” she added.The WFP is grappling with a $193 million Syria-related funding shortfall in the next three months through September, including a $54 million shortage of donations for inside Syria, Cousin said.The agency will soon halve the value of food vouchers for 795,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon to $13.50 per person per month. Some 440,000 Syrian refugees who live outside camps in Jordan would be cut off from food support, she said.WFP also supports refugees of conflict in Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. It had already reduced assistance to 1.6 million Syrian refugees in the five countries this year.Cousin said the funding shortfall was a combination of increasing demand and waning generosity.“Unfortunately what we are seeing is we have more people who are food insecure both inside and outside Syria because of the length of the conflict and we aren’t receiving the resources that we received even last year at this time for the support of those refugees,” she said. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 0 Comments   Share   Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Top Stories Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Mesa family survives lightning strike to home In 2014, WFP globally received $5.4 billion in contributions, 27 percent more than in 2013. That was in response to an unprecedented number of emergencies in places including Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the West African countries affected by Ebola.While the food shortage had improved in the Central African Republic, food insecurity in Yemen had this week been upgraded to crisis level, Cousin said.“So we still have five major crises and 80 percent of those crises are directly related to conflict,” she said.Cousin said when she took the top WFP job in 2012, the focus was climate change-related crises such droughts and floods.Cousin was speaking in the Australian capital of Canberra where Australia committed to donating 167.5 million Australian dollars ($128 million) over four year for the WFP to spend in the Indo-Pacific region. Cousin said that commitment was on par with a previous Australian agreement that it replaced.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

Emergency landing for Jetstar flight

first_imgAfter one of its engines failed a Jetstar flight travelling from Bali to Melbourne made an emergency landing at Adelaide airport. The plane touched down in Adelaide a little before 7am, after pilots informed passengers one of its two engines had failed. Carrol O’Neill, a passenger aboard the flight, noticed the plane suddenly descending whilst it was flying over South Australia. “They said we were going to make an emergency landing in Adelaide as one of the engines had failed,” Ms O’Neill said. According to a Jetstar spokesperson, the failed engine “was operating on a low power setting.” Qantas, of whom Jetstar are a subsidiary airline, bought the A330 aircraft in 2008 and transferred it to Jetstar’s fleet only weeks ago.An official report into the incident will be carried out by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group – A Leader in the Spa Industry

first_imgEight Mandarin Oriental hotels were recently awarded the prestigious 2012 Forbes Five Star Spa Award, out of only 30 Forbes Five Star Spas worldwide. Mandarin Oriental hotels in Hong Kong, New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Boston who had been awarded in previous years, were this year joined by Mandarin Oriental, Macau and Mandarin Oriental, Singapore. These awards are further confirmation that Mandarin Oriental spas continue to set the bar in terms of design and service, and have been added to a growing list of trophies that have been won throughout the year. At the Luxury SpaFinder 2011 ‘Readers’ Choice Awards’ in Las Vegas, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group was recognised as one of the ‘Top Ten Best Brands’, with Mandarin Oriental, New York and Boston both garnering ‘Best Urban Hotel Spa’ awards. Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, which opened to great acclaim at the end of 2009, was recognised in the ‘Top Ten’ category for ‘Accommodation’, ‘Environmental Practices’, ‘Interior Design’ and ‘Favourite New Getaway Spa’.At the prestigious Asia Pacific Crystal Spa Awards the Group was voted ‘Best Wellness Group’, with Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai winning ‘Best Resort Spa’ and ‘Best Signature Treatment’, and Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo honoured as the city’s ‘Best Hotel Spa’. The most recent AsiaSpa Awards also saw The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong winning the ‘Men’s Spa Treatment of the Year’. Andrew Gibson, Group Director of Spa, who was voted by AsiaSpa as the 2011 ‘Spa Personality of the Year’ said, “We are delighted to have been honoured by so many awards, which are testament to the hard work and consistency of our spa teams around the world. We remain committed to our spa philosophy of delivering authentic and holistic experiences, and are focused on providing a consistent level of service excellence to our guests.” The Spas at Mandarin Oriental are havens for contemplation and discovery. Guided by our oriental heritage but influenced by local cultural diversity, the Group has created distinctive concepts with a unique sense of place in every location, with highly sophisticated spa offerings designed to offer a complete holistic experience that goes well beyond simply delivering massages to tired bodies.  Our highly trained therapists are thoroughly educated to the Group’s own exacting standards, and are all committed to excellence and take pride in delivering personalized, dedicated service. Mandarin Oriental spas are also open to non-residents providing the ideal venue in which to experience superb therapeutic massages and excellent skin care programmes.Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is the award-winning owner and operator of some of the world’s most prestigious hotels and resorts. The Group now operates, or has under development, 41 hotels representing over 10,000 rooms in 26 countries, with 18 hotels in Asia, 12 in The Americas and 11 in Europe and the Middle East. In addition, the Group operates, or has under development, 12 Residences at Mandarin Oriental connected to its properties. Source = Mandarin Oriental Hotel Grouplast_img read more

Egypt plots path beyond Pyramids as tourism trebles

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H Image Egypt Tourism Authority With visitor numbers to Egypt returning to the pre-revolution levels of 2010, when the country welcomed a record 360,000 US tourists, it is little wonder Egyptian Tourist Authority’s (ETA) New York tourism attaché Mohamed Hegazy feels “very optimistic” for 2012. “We are coming back rapidly in terms of tourist numbers,” Mr Hegazy told e-Travel Blackboard in an interview.  “2010 was the highest number we received – we reached 360,000 US tourists. The highest figure before that was around 187,000 in 2006, so it doubled in four years.” According to Mr Hegazy, despite the turbulent events of last year, Egypt still brought in around the same number of tourists it had received just four years prior – that is, around 187,000.“We were relatively pleased to keep more than half of our business in a market that was very touchy about security,” he remarked.According to figures from the country’s central agency for public mobilisation and statistics, Egypt welcomed some 753,000 visitors in February 2012, compared to the 211,000 who stayed during the height of the civil unrest last February, Gulf media reported.With visitor numbers again on the rise, Mr Hegazy said now was the time for the country to lure travelers to attractions beyond the Giza Pyramids.   “At the moment we would like to push new experiences to the American tourists, like the Red Sea, the South Sinai for its magnificent beaches, its coral reef and fish,” he told e-Travel Blackboard.Add to this, the country’s Nile cruises, its black and white deserts, religious attractions (including the oldest mosque and synagogue in Northern Africa), its first-class golf courses, 4wd safaris, and other leisure tourism and business travel offerings and you have a destination that will appeal to any demographic, Mr Hegazy said.last_img read more