European royals get a small taste of austerity

first_imgHere is a look at how austerity is making its mark in European countries that still have royal families.SPAINJuan Carlos’s salary this year will be reduced to about (EURO)272,000 ($334,000) and that of his only son, Crown Prince Felipe, to (EURO)131,000 ($160,000) respectively. The cut is in line with a new austerity package unveiled last week which features, among other things, the suspension of one of 14 paychecks into which Spanish civil servants’ yearly salary is divided.The Spanish royal budget is relatively small compared to those of other countries _ (EURO)8.26 million, and now down to (EURO)8.16 million with the king’s gesture. Even the original figure was down 2 percent from 2011.The king acted voluntarily, and in the cuts he included Felipe, Queen Sofia, Crown Princess Letizia, and his daughters, princesses Elena and Cristina.The female royals do not get a salary per se. But the pool of money available for their expenses is being trimmed, also by about 7 percent, to (EURO)292,625. The newspaper El Mundo put it this way: “So, among the four, they will not be able to spend more than (EURO)292,625 a year on clothing, shoes, accessories or hairdressing.” Associated PressMADRID (AP) – Spain’s Crown Princess Letizia has a penchant for haute couture. Queen Elizabeth II’s Bentleys are spotless. Belgium’s King Albert II maintains a sumptuous villa in the south of France. But believe it or not, many of Europe’s royals are feeling a pinch of the austerity sweeping the continent as it deals with its debt crisis.The latest in royal belt-tightening comes from Spain, where King Juan Carlos has cut his own salary, as well as that of his son and heir Prince Felipe, by about 7 percent. The avuncular king, who is generally respected by his people, took the step after being engulfed in a public relations nightmare over an expensive elephant-hunting safari he took this spring as Spaniards endured hardship and bailout fears. Sponsored Stories THE NETHERLANDSDutch Queen Beatrix, who lives in a state-owned palace in a forest on the edge of The Hague, is paid a salary of (EURO)829,000 a year and also receives (EURO)4,314,000 for “personal and material” expenses. The budget for Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem Alexander and his wife Princess Maxima was cut in 2011 by (EURO)422,000 to (EURO)39.2 million, according to the latest figures on the Royal House website.Most of those savings came in the form of cuts to the royals’ private travel expenses. Also, the queen forked over (EURO)163,000 from her own pocket for maintenance on her private yacht, the Groene Draeck.BELGIUMKing Albert II pledged this year to use part of his salary to help pay for the upkeep on his properties.He made a rare public statement in January saying he wanted to freeze the (EURO)10.8 million ($13.8 million) he gets from the state. He intends to use an automatic 2012 salary inflation adjustment of some 3 percent _ or roughly (EURO)350,000 ($446,000) _ to help pay for some property maintenance costs normally borne by the government.The amount may be relatively small, but even such a symbolic concession could help ease the pressure on the royal family, which increased when it became clear the Belgian constitution forces the government to pay out the inflation adjustment under any circumstance. SCANDINAVIA, THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULENorway _ one of the richest countries in Europe per capita _ has not cut its royal budget, nor have neighbors Denmark and Sweden. Indeed, the countries of Scandinavia have largely dodged Europe’s debt crisis. Their budgets are in order, as they did not spend beyond their means, as some countries of the south did, such as Greece, Spain and Portugal. They are suffering indirectly, of course, because weakened Europe is a big export market for the Scandinavians.____Gregory Katz in London, Don Melvin in Brussels, Mike Corder in Amsterdam and Karl Ritter in Stockholm contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories Patients with chronic pain give advice Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   4 must play golf courses in Arizona Then, there’s this: since last year, Royal Palace staffers fly coach.BRITAINIn recent years Queen Elizabeth, long known as one of the world’s richest women with her priceless collection of fine art, jewels and real estate holdings, has opened some parts of Buckingham Palace to tourists, raising money on admission tickets. Palace officials say they have met targets that called for a 25 percent cut in real terms in the use of public expenditures to support the monarchy.Buckingham Palace officials say the queen _ this year celebrating her Diamond Jubilee to mark six decades on the throne _ has cut her use of public funds to stay in line with wide-ranging budget cuts announced by the government.That’s meant a pay freeze for royal staff, an increased emphasis on generating income through royal properties, and a reduction in planned property maintenance _ although the royal fleet of Bentleys and other classic cars always appears spotless in public.But travel costs have stayed high, in part because the queen is dispatching senior royals, including Prince Charles, Prince Harry and Prince William, to far corners of the Commonwealth for Jubilee festivities.Official accounts showed British taxpayers spent 32.1 million pounds ($49.5 million) supporting the monarchy in 2011, 5.3 percent less than the previous year. Much of the saving came from cutting the maintenance bill of royal residences from 15.4 million pounds ($23.8 million) to 11.9 million pounds ($18.4 million).last_img read more

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Veteran Indian actor AK Hangal dies at 95

first_img Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of As a young man, Hangal was involved in India’s freedom movement against British rule and spent three years in prison. He was active in Mumbai’s theater circles in the early 1950s before he moved to the film industry.He specialized in character parts playing the uncle, doting grandfather or humble servant in films including the Bollywood hit “Sholay.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) NEW DELHI (AP) – Veteran Indian actor A. K. Hangal, whose Bollywood career spanned nearly five decades, has died. He was 95.Avtaar Kishan Hangal had suffered from lung and kidney problems and other ailments over the past few years. His son Vijay says the actor died Sunday of complications following a fall 10 days earlier.Using his screen name A.K.Hangal , he acted in around 225 Hindi language films, mostly family dramas. Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Comments   Share   Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementlast_img read more

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Stray dogs kill 4 kangaroos in Bosnia zoo

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Check your body, save your life Sponsored Stories center_img The guards were able to save the life of the fifth kangaroo, which is now recovering. It is the last kangaroo at the zoo, which is located on Sarajevo’s outskirts.Skapulj called the incident a “tragedy.” He says the zoo’s management has wanted to get rid of some fences and modernize the facility but that stray dogs in the area have complicated those plans.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) – Officials say stray dogs entered the Sarajevo zoo, killed four kangaroos and injured another before guards could chase them away.Zoo veterinarian Vedad Skapulj told The Associated Press that the dogs entered the kangaroo habitat in early Wednesday morning.The canines apparently came from the forest searching for water, which is in short supply because a months-long drought has dried up local creeks. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more

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In Miami Cuban dissident blogger calls for unity

first_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “My face turned red, I forgot all of the little German I knew and I answered him in my best Central Havana Spanish, `Chico, I’m from the Cuba of Jose Marti,’” Sanchez said, referring to Cuba’s most famous national hero and poet.“That ended our brief conversation,” Sanchez said. “But for the rest of my life, that conversation stayed in my mind. I’ve asked myself many times what led that Berliner and so many other people in the world to see Cubans inside and outside the island as two separate worlds, two irreconcilable worlds.”She said she was standing there, before exiles, “to make sure that no one, ever again, can divide us between one type of Cuban or another.”“Without you our country would be incomplete, as if someone had amputated its limbs,” she said.Sanchez lived in Switzerland in 2002, but soon decided to return, believing she was better off with her family and vowing to live in Cuba freely. Since starting her blog in 2007, she had tried to leave dozens of times to accept prizes and speak at universities, but was consistently denied an exit permit. In October, Cuba eliminated the permit that had been required of islanders for five decades and she was allowed to leave. Cuban authorities can still deny travel in cases of defense and “national security,” and some dissidents face restrictions. Her visit has been seen as a test of the new law, one of the most significant reforms Castro has made in his ongoing revision of the economy, government and society.Before she left the Freedom Tower, she was bestowed with keys to the city of Miami, perhaps the only Cuban still living on the island to receive such an honor. And in a display of the unity she’d just spoken on, people in the audience commented how it seemed to be the first time they could recall where Cubans from so many different generations, who had arrived at different times, and had different opinions on the embargo were all under one roof, applauding the same speech.Alejandro Barreras, who runs a blog in Miami called On Two Shores, said he sat behind a man who had yelled at him not so long ago for attending a concert of Carlos Varela, a Cuban folk musician. Now they were sitting one behind the other, equally captivated by Sanchez’s words.“You can’t help but feel hopeful,” he said._Follow Christine Armario on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cearmario (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories “This is a historical building for us,” said Consuegra, who remembered standing in a line in that same spot, when she first arrived five decades ago. “I admire her so much because she had the courage that so many Cubans don’t have.”Consuegra came when she was 15 and sometimes, she regrets that she did not stay or go back, like Sanchez has vowed to do. There are an estimated 1 million Cubans in exile in the U.S., most in Miami, almost one-tenth the size of the island’s population.Enormous box trucks drove by repeatedly, the words, “Welcome Yoani Sanchez” stretching along the side. Others held signs calling for Raul Castro to step down as president and for the years of communist rule to end.Just one small group of about a dozen exiles held a protest, demonstrating against Sanchez’s position against the embargo and her comments on the Cuban spies. But they dispersed before the event began as a few rain clouds rolled in.Sanchez told the story of leaving Berlin on a train the first time she left Cuba years ago. She struck up a conversation with a young man who asked her, “You’re from Cuba? From the Cuba of Fidel or from the Cuba of Miami?” She has met with young Cuban-Americans born in the U.S. with dreams of a homeland they have known only in photographs and stories. And she has shaken hands with some of the most powerful politicians in Washington, while calling on the U.S. to end its longstanding embargo against the communist island.But the most anticipated stop of her 80-day tour has been Miami, the heart of the exile community.When she arrived last Thursday, one of Sanchez’s first stops was to La Ermita de la Caridad, a shrine to our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Cuba’s patron saint. She walked along a stretch of Miami’s shoreline she called the city’s “Malecon,” a reference to Havana’s coastal boulevard.After spending the weekend catching up with her sister, brother-in-law and niece, Sanchez made her first public appearance. The site was aptly chosen: Miami’s Freedom Tower, a golden yellow Mediterranean style building where thousands of Cubans fleeing the 1959 communist revolution were processed, given food and connected with social services. A line of men and women who did not have tickets but hoped to still get in stretched down the block.Among them were sisters Magaly Consuegra, 65, and Maria Santa Cruz, 74. MIAMI (AP) – They came from all over to hear her speak. Old Cuban ladies with wrinkled faces and pristine makeup. Young students with iPhones and digital cameras. Men and women who fled Cuba decades ago and just last year, on makeshift rafts and planes.When Cuban dissident and blogger Yoani Sanchez entered the room to speak Monday, dressed simply in white, they all stood up in applause and the politics that divide Cubans, even here in Miami, temporarily disappeared. 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Sponsored Stories “In the Cuba that so many of us dream of, there is no need to clarify what type of Cuban you are,” she said. “We’ll be just Cubans. Cubans, period.”The crowd of several hundred stood on their feet, chanted “Freedom!” and applauded.Sanchez, a Cuban mother and wife who turned to blogging just five years ago, has gained a following and accolades worldwide for her candid descriptions of modern life in Cuba on her blog Generation Y. In 2009, she was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine. She is currently on an international tour that has taken her to three continents after being allowed to leave Cuba for the first time in nearly a decade.She went to Brazil, where boisterous protesters backing the Cuban government called her a “mercenary” financed by the CIA and even tugged at her hair. She incited controversy when, in an ironic tone, she suggested the U.S. should let five Cuban men convicted in 2001 of attempting to infiltrate military installations in South Florida free because of all the money Cuba could save and spend on more important matters than campaigning for their release. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments   Share   Men’s health affects baby’s health too Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectlast_img

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China urges joint efforts to denuclearize NKorea

first_imgBEIJING (AP) – Beijing called for joint efforts to denuclearize the Korea Peninsula on Thursday following reports that North Korea may be restarting a plutonium nuclear reactor.“To achieve denuclearization and to maintain peace and stability is what China has been advocating,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily briefing. “It takes efforts from all sides.”A U.S. research institute said Wednesday that a recent satellite image appears to show North Korea is restarting its 5-megawatt reactor at the Nyongbyon nuclear facility, which was shuttered in 2007 under the terms of a six-nation disarmament agreement. Sponsored Stories The vital role family plays in society Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober North Korea threatened in April to restart the reactor but has since toned down its inflammatory rhetoric and stepped up diplomacy with rival South Korea.South Korea has yet to respond to the report by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Its National Intelligence Service has said it could not confirm the report because confidential information is involved.U.S. officials have expressed concerns, calling on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and programs. U.S. special envoy Glyn Davies has traveled to Beijing this week to discuss the nuclear issue with China. Hong said all sides should work to resume the six-party talks.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Comments   Share   Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

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Merkel pushes for binding European reforms

first_img Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober BERLIN (AP) – Chancellor Angela Merkel is renewing a push for European countries to make binding agreements to carry out economic reforms as she underlines continuity in her new government’s approach to the continent’s debt crisis.Merkel told Parliament Wednesday in the first speech of her third term that the approach of seeking reforms in exchange for aid “has been proven right.” She pointed to Ireland’s exit from its bailout program and progress elsewhere. Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility ErrorOK ErrorOK Men’s health affects baby’s health too But Merkel, who now heads a new coalition of right and left, says an economic upswing is “anything but already guaranteed” and more must be done.Countries currently receive nonbinding annual recommendations on reform steps from the European Union’s executive Commission. Merkel is calling for binding contracts in the future though she expects only “slow progress” on the issue.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 5 treatments for adult scoliosislast_img read more

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Govt plan to help more students erase debt raises questions

first_img Comments   Share   ___Online:___Information on debt relief: http://1.usa.gov/1AY8HRdCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. At the very least, the government is looking at footing the bill for hundreds of millions of dollars in student debt in what has become a major consumer bailout. Some advocates say the government should have done more sooner to intervene, while others are questioning the latest approach.“Students have been hurt, but the department is establishing a precedent that puts taxpayers on the hook for what a college may have done,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the Senate Education Committee.Alexander said one of the problems has been an inherent conflict of interest with having the Education Department provide loans and regulate colleges.“If your car is a lemon you don’t sue the bank that made the auto loan; you sue the car company,” he said.Corinthian Colleges was one of the largest for-profit schools when it nearly collapsed last year and became a symbol of fraud in the world of higher education and student loans. According to investigators, Corinthian schools charged exorbitant fees, lied about job prospects for its graduates and, in some cases, encouraged students to lie about their circumstances to get more federal aid.In a plan orchestrated by the Department of Education, some of the Corinthian schools closed while others were sold before the chain filed for bankruptcy this spring. The biggest question has been what should happen to the debt incurred by students whose schools were sold. The law already provides for debt relief for students of schools that close, so long as they apply within 120 days. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona WASHINGTON (AP) — A government plan to wipe out loans for many of the students who attended the now-disgraced for-profit Corinthian Colleges raises serious questions about whether the White House or Congress should have done more to prevent the debacle.Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday announced that the government would make it easier for former Corinthian students to erase their debt. About $3.6 billion in federal loans has been given to these students since 2010. That potentially puts the taxpayer on the hook for that amount, although officials say it’s unlikely that every loan will qualify for relief. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories FILE – In this July 8, 2014 file photo, an Everest Institute sign is seen in a office building in Silver Spring, Md. The federal government will erase much of the debt of students who attended the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges, officials announced Monday, as part of a new plan that could cost taxpayers as much as $3.6 billion. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File) Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The latest plan expands debt relief to students who attended a now-closed school as far back as a year ago. And it streamlines the process for students whose schools were sold but believe they were victims of fraud. The Education Department will soon appoint a “special master” to oversee much of the program, who will support students at other for-profit schools who feel they’ve been victimized.“We will make this process as easy as possible for them, including by considering claims in groups wherever possible, and hold institutions accountable,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.The amount of debt relief could be staggering. Officials estimate that some 40,000 borrowers at the Heald College alone took on more than $540 million in loans that potentially qualify for debt relief. But the final amount could climb significantly when looking across all Corinthian Schools, which include Everest and WyoTech.Former officials at Corinthian Colleges couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. A former lawyer for the school said he no longer represents the chain of colleges since it went bankrupt.In a blog post Monday, the Debt Collective said the Education Department plan didn’t go far enough. The group said the plan would put in place “a bureaucratically tortured process designed to provide relief only to those who hear about it and can figure out how to navigate unnecessary red tape.”last_img read more

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Mexican border city takes down antigun billboard

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies MEXICO CITY (AP) — The once-embattled Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez has taken down a billboard made of soldered, seized guns reading “No More Weapons,” one of the most visible reminders of its violence-laden recent past.The stark, black-and-white sign was erected by the government of former president Felipe Calderon on the side of a border-crossing bridge in 2012. The letters were formed by crushed, confiscated pistols and rifles, and the billboard was spelled out in English as a visible protest of the illegal trade in weapons from the United States. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes 0 Comments   Share   Top holiday drink recipes On Wednesday, the Mexican government announced two bottlenose dolphins, Isis and Luna, were flown From central Mexico to the Anita water park in Ciudad Juarez. Technically, the dolphins are government property, and are loaned to or deposited with parks..Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. FILE – In this Feb. 17, 2012 file photo, soldiers put the final touches on a giant “No More Weapons” billboard made with crushed firearms placed near the U.S. border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The once-embattled Mexican border city has taken down the billboard, one of the most visible reminders of its violence-laden recent past. Mayor Enrique Serrano said Wednesday, June 17, 2015 that the city wants to project a more tourist-friendly image. (AP Photo/Raymundo Ruiz, File) Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sobercenter_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mayor Enrique Serrano said Wednesday the billboard was taken down because Juarez wants to project a more tourist-friendly image.“This was the main diplomatic expression of its time, telling the United States not to allow more weapons in,” said Serrano said. “But it is a topic that should be addressed more politely.”“We want to have a message of welcome, of extending open arms to tourism,” said the mayor.Chihuahua state Gov. Cesar Duarte suggested the billboard be replaced by one saying “Welcome,” or its Spanish equivalents, “Bienvenidos.”Ciudad Juarez once saw an average of as many as 10 homicides per day during the darkest days of drug-gang violence in 2010 and 2011.The homicide rate has declined to about an average of 22 per month in the first four months of 2015, or less than one per day. The decline appears to be due to police and justice reform, as well as changes in the drug trade and the gangs that fought over the border trafficking routes.Ciudad Juarez was known for tourism decades ago, drawing Americans looking for quickie divorces and, improbably, locally distilled whisky.Now, the desert city may have something almost as improbable to offer visitors: dolphins. Sponsored Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories last_img read more

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AirAsia X to launch Paris route

first_imgAirAsia X has announced the launch of its second European destination early next year, flying from Kuala Lumpur to Paris. The airline will commence four direct flights to Paris weekly on 14 February with one way promotional fares of €99. AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer and Founder Tony Fernandes said the Paris-Kuala Lumpur route is part of the carriers plan to offer “affordable access between Malaysia and Europe”. “Being a truly ASEAN airline, we are committed to promoting tourism and travel throughout and beyond that region,” Mr Fernandes said. “This new route will benefit everyone, enabling magnificent holidays in beautiful locations, encouraging economic and tourism activity, bringing in revenue and creating job opportunities.” Tickets will be available in a first in first served basis between 22- 24 November for flights from 14 February 2011 to 10 November 2011. AirAsia X Chief Executive Officer Azran Osman-Rani said the airline decided to commence flights from on Valentines next year as gift to “families from the Asia region who want to celebrate the occasion in the romantic city of Paris”. “Some of the world’s most famous attraction attractions awaits guests from South East Asia region namely the iconic Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, the Lourve and many more,” Mr Osman-Rani said. The Paris- Kuala Lumpur route will be the airline’s second route to Europe after it launched flights to London early last year. The carrier said Airbus A340 aircraft holding up to 327 passengers will service the new route.  Promotional tickets will be sold exclusively on AirAsia’s website.   Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

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Virgin seeking new staff

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J As Qantas’ five year plan sees the redundancy of up to 1,000 of its employees, Virgin Australia has announced it will be hiring new staff as part of its Game Changing Program.Speaking at the airline’s Annual General Meeting earlier this week, chief executive John Borghetti explained that after reviewing its operations the carrier had space for more than 500 new employees.100 of the new positions will be open to full-time and part time Guest Contact Centre positions by in-sourcing jobs from two off-shore, outsourced providers, 200 new ground operations jobs in Australia as well as 250 new cabin crew roles mainly based in NSW.   In total Virgin Australia expects to see its new cabin crew staff increase to up to 400 for this calendar year.Mr Borghetti added that with plans to build a new maintenance hangar at Sydney Airport they expect to see up to 300 new jobs open up in 2014.Hoping to also expand its pilot expertise, the airline announced it was also looking to launch a cadet pilot training program in Australia next year.“We employee over 7,000 people and it is their hard work and dedication that had got us where we are today,” Virgin’s head explained.“We are proud of being a strong Australian employer and we are committed to keeping as many jobs in Australia as possible.”Touching on the year’s success, Mr Borghetti said since launched the Game Changing Program 12 months ago, the airline has seen “strong benefits” particularly in its business class appeal.The carrier saw its first time business travellers spike for the year as well as its loyalty members.Click on e-Travel Blackboard tomorrow for more on Game Changing benefits. last_img read more

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Alligator Airways suspension continues

first_imgSince its grounding last month due to safety concerns, Alligator Airways remains under suspension by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).CASA suspended the Kununurra based carrier on 03 May 2012 because the airlines conduct of operational and maintenance-related activities was deemed unfit for air safety.On 18 May 2012, the Federal court granted CASA’s application for an order to prohibit Alligator Airways from operating until 04 June 2012.Under the Civil Aviation Act, once investigations are completed, CASA has up to an additional five working days to issue a further notice if it believes there could still be a serious risk to air safety.Alligator Airways will continue to remain grounded until CASA has completed its investigation and confirmed that the carrier it fit to fly.If CASA does send out a further notice the suspension will continue while the issues raised are addressed, which could take up to 33 days. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.Plast_img read more

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Losses made Qantas stronger says chairman

first_imgLast year’s economic and environmental challenges helped build a “stronger” Qantas, according to the airline’s chairman.Despite a statutory loss after tax of $244 million, the 2011/12 financial year positioned the group for a “sustainable future”, with the group’s portfolio “performing well” this year, except  Qantas International. Speaking at the 2012 annual general meeting last week, Leigh Clifford explained steps taken by management since August last year have equipped the airline “for success” in an aviation environment that has “changed dramatically” over the past decade.Among initiatives include the launch of the five year turnaround plan, which saw cuts of up to 1,000 jobs, renewed focus on Asia with the launch of Jetstar Japan and cuts on non-profitable routes. As well, the airline announced a new partnership with UAE carrier, Emirates, which although pending regulatory approval, is expected to takeoff from March next year. “We have had to make tough decisions, because a failure to respond would have threatened the sustainability of the group as a whole,” he said. “Management has re-focused on core strategy, building on the profitable parts of the business and addressing the weaknesses.“Important reforms that were not undertaken in the pre-GFC period are now being made, with a new management structure, new technology, more responsive customer service, and more efficient operations.”Improving its domestic operations, late last month Qantas announced the launch of flights between Sydney and the Gold Coast as well as an increase in flights to Tasmania. Chairman Clifford says the “tough decision” had to be made, “because a failure to respond would have threatened the sustainability of the group as a whole”. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J.last_img read more

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Tourism – economic saviour or environment destroyer

first_imgAcademics and industry experts have debated the economic and environmental effects of tourism at the annual Council of Australasian University Tourism and Hospitality Educators (CAUTHE) conference from the 10 to 13 February.  Source = ETB News, T.N. On the other hand, Professor Stefan Gossling of Lund University Sweden argued that when resources such as oil, water, food and clean air were being depleted so quickly, perptually increasing tourism would acclerate the decrease of these environmental assets further. Despite this argument, most of the attendees agreed that managed tourism would have enormous benefits, especially for the developing world.  The World Trade Organisation (WTO) secretary general Taleb Rifai argued strongly for tourism, saying that the large amount of tourists (1.087 billion in 2013) was empowering, enhancing the economies of developing countries. center_img Dr Rifai also argued that the WTO and other tourism bodies were pursuing a policy of poverty alleviation through tourism. The biggest issue discussed at the conference was whether tourism was an economic booster or enouraged environmental destruction.  The CAUTHE conference hosted over 200 speakers presenting different issues.last_img read more

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Asia Pacific accounts for 40 per cent of Global Business Travel spend

first_imgGlobal business travel spend is expected to reach a record US$1.18 trillion by 2014, with nearly 40% coming from Asia Pacific.This is according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), which released latest figures from its Business Travel Index (BTI) outlook report at ITB Asia 2014.ITB Asia, which is now in its seventh year, attains close to 750 exhibitors and recently has seen strong support from the business travel segment and an increase in international representation.GBTA’s BTI study forecasts China to overtake the US as the world’s number one business travel market by 2016 and other Asia Pacific countries such as India and Indonesia to grow between 11-14 per cent annually over the next five years.GBTA vice president, operations, Asia Wlef Ebeling, said that Asia Pacific is showing high growth in terms of business travel spend.“In Asia Pacific, there are a number of countries showing high growth in terms of business travel spend. These markets include Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. We forecast an average growth rate of 7.5-10 per cent annually in these markets,” Mr Ebeling said.GBTA will share further insights on its BTI report at its Business Travel Day which will be held on 30 October, the second day of ITB Asia 2014.Over the next three days, the show is expected to attract over 8000 attendees from 90 countries, this year’s show is believed to be the most comprehensive conference programme to-date.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

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APEC Strengthens Tourism Resilience Against Terrorism

first_imgTerrorism impacts on tourism to Turkey where tourism has fallen 50% since 2015APEC Strengthens Tourism Resilience Against TerrorismIf the world needed reminding of the extreme threat of terrorism against people exercising their right to enjoy leisure and tourism experiences, the hideous carnage in Manchester serves as a wake up call that terrorism is a real and present danger to all humanity and especially to tourism.Between May 8-10 2017, over 120 government officials, security experts and tourism industry leaders from 18 of the 21 APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) countries gathered in Bali for a two day workshop to seek solutions to the threat of terrorism against tourism. The workshop explored counter-terrorism strategies and policies to protect tourism. It was the culmination of a wide range of activities and projects undertaken by APEC’s Counter Terrorism Working Group since 2010 and also involved work done by APEC’s Tourism Working Group.For readers unfamiliar with APEC, the 21 APEC economies encompass most Pacific rim countries. They include Canada, USA, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Peoples Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong SAR and Russia. They include some of the most powerful economies in the world. APEC includes a number of special interest working groups. The APEC Tourism Working Group and the Counter- Terrorism Working Group both have a strong focus on tourism and work closely with the UNWTO, PATA, ASEAN Tourism and the World Travel and Tourism Council.The Bali workshop brought together senior foreign ministry officials from APEC countries. Invitations were also extended to tourism specialists, security and police leaders and counter terrorism specialists. The current chair of the APEC Counter Terrorism Working Group is Mr James Nachipo from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.The workshop was held in the beautiful surroundings of the Inaya Putri Bali Hotel. Delegates were welcomed by Bali’s Governor Mr Made Mangku Pastika and the opening address was given by General Wiranto, Indonesia’s Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs.The speakers who followed covered a wide range of topics. Australian tourism security expert, Tony Ridley focused his attention on understanding the drivers of media coverage and its influence on shaping travel perceptions of countries affected by terrorism. During the same session Ms Fritanu from the Centre of Strategic and International Studies (Jakarta) discussed the impact of the Bali bombings 2002 and 2005 on tourism to Indonesia. Ms Rachael Doherty from the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur explained how the US security services quickly restored confidence in tourism safety in Florida following the devastating massacre at a gay nightspot in Orlando in 2016 which killed 49 people, the deadliest terrorist incident in the USA since 9/11.Dr Petrus Golose Chief of Bali PoliceOne of the most memorable presentations came from Bali’s police Chief Inspector General Dr Petrus Golose. He gave a brilliant account of the development of community based, tourism orientated policing in Bali which he and his colleagues have developed since the 2002 Bali bombing. To add to an already impressive address he finished with a superbly sung rendition of Louis Armstrong’s hit song “Its a Wonderful World“. This was the act I had to follow.My talk focused on significant negative impacts of terrorism on tourism demand to destinations in which terrorist attacks targeting tourists had occurred (such as Turkey). I contrasted this with positive impact on tourism demand for destinations deemed safe, such as Japan, which has enjoyed 400% growth in international tourism arrivals since 2012. I made two key policy proposals to attendees. The first was to encourage all APEC counties to emulate the Australian and Canadian practice of the tourism industry leadership working in collaboration with foreign ministry officials to enhance the quality, accuracy, simplicity and dissemination of government travel advisories. My second proposal was to encourage all APEC countries to provide basic travel safety and security advice to international visitors arriving by land, sea and air. Some APEC countries including Mexico, Japan, Korea and Vietnam are already doing this. However, if it became universal practice, it would enhance the value of travel advisories for departing citizen passengers which implemented by most coyuntries. It would also be an exercise in duty of care as a host country.Ms Lin Tsai-Shiuan of the Police agency of Taipei and Ms Tsai Ming-Lon of Taiwan’s tourism bureau provided a detailed account of security arrangements for a major sporting event which will e held in Taipei. In the final session of Day 1 one of the stand out presentations was made by Mr Joseph Franco , Research Fellow from Singapore’s Centre for Excellence in National Security. His presentation focused on strategies to reduce the terrorist threat to tourists from Jihadist groups based on the Philippines’ island of Mindanao which has long been a centre of Jihadist activity sometimes targeting tourists and based on terrorist actions in Mindanao, this is a very live issue.On day two of the conference, delegates visited the memorial site for the 2002 Bali bombings.The morning presentations focused on regional approaches to counter-terrorism protecting tourists and tourism infrastructure. Professor Brent Ritchie from the University of Queensland provided delegates with a detailed background into the rapidly growing body of academic research into tourism safety and security. Professor Ritchie has made an outstanding contribution to this body of research.The conference concluded with a comprehensive range of recommended actions which have been passed on the governments of all APEC economies. Tempting as it is to detail them in this article, it would be counter-productive to let those who may wish to harm tourism know what measures are proposed to counter terrorist and security threats against tourists. (p) The Indonesian government and the Island of Bali were gracious and welcoming hosts to all delegates.Source = Dr David Beirman Ph.Dlast_img read more

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Nakheel and Centara reach new milestone

first_imgNakheel and Centara reach new milestoneNakheel and Centara reach new milestoneUAE-based master developer Nakheel and leading Thai hotel group Centara Hotels and Resorts today reached a key milestone on their 600-room beachfront resort and waterpark at Dubai’s Deira Islands, with the official formation of the joint venture company and the signing of a management agreement.The joint venture, cemented by Nakheel Chairman Ali Rashid Lootah and Centara Chairman of the Board, Suthikiati Chirathivat, at a signing ceremony at Centara’s headquarters in Bangkok, will deliver a family-centric lifestyle destination at Deira Islands, Nakheel’s new, 15.3 sq km waterfront city that is set to become Dubai’s newest tourism hotspot.The resort will also be managed by Centara, whose portfolio already includes over 14,000 room keys across 67 hotels and resorts in Asia, Indian Ocean and the Middle East.Set to open in 2020, the resort is the first Centara establishment in the UAE and will cover an area of almost 300,000 sq ft. Features will include a waterpark, multiple restaurants including alfresco rooftop dining options, kids’ club, spa and fitness centre, and business facilities. Recent enhancements to the hotel’s design have added 50 rooms to the original plan, bringing the total number of keys to 600.Nakheel Chairman Ali Rashid Lootah said “This strategic joint venture underlines our commitment to bringing new hospitality concepts to Dubai in line with the government’s tourism vision. Today’s crucial milestone allows us to move forward with the construction and delivery of this exciting new resort, which will undoubtedly be one of Dubai’s most sought-after destinations for travellers the world over.”Suthikiati Chirativat, Chairman of the Board for Centara Hotels & Resorts added “The official formation of the joint venture company and signing of the hotel management agreement is the natural next step following the joint venture agreement last December. This is the rubber stamp that paves the way for the finalisation of the design and development of our first resort in the United Arab Emirates. With Nakheel’s development expertise and Centara’s record of delivering best-in-class hospitality and inspiring extraordinary guest experiences, we will create a unique resort that surprises and delights guests for years to come.”Centara Hotels & Resorts is part of Central Group, one of Thailand’s most prominent family-owned conglomerate holding companies, with interests in the merchandising, real estate, retailing, hospitality and restaurant sectors. Centara made its official entry into the Middle East market with the opening of Centara Muscat Hotel earlier this year and whilst the group has imminent openings in other Gulf States, Centara Deira Islands Beach Resort Dubai will be its first and highly anticipated destination in the UAE.Nakheel’s partnership with Centara is the developer’s second international joint venture at Deira Islands. Work on the first, an 800-room, AED670 million beachfront resort with Spain’s RIU Hotels & Resorts, is already underway with construction proposals currently being assessed.  More partnerships with global hospitality firms are being explored.The master developer’s AED5 billion hospitality expansion will see the delivery of 17 hotels, resorts and serviced apartment complexes, with almost 6,000 rooms and hotel apartments between them, across Dubai. The first two hotels, at Dragon Mart and Ibn Battuta Mall, opened last year, with the rest under construction or development.Deira Islands, where Nakheel has already invested over AED7.5 billion in infrastructure and construction contracts, will add 40 km, including 21km of beach, to Dubai’s coastline. The coastal city, which is expected to have a population of 250,000 and to create 80,000 jobs, will feature hundreds of hotels, residences and retail and leisure attractions, including a diverse range of projects by Nakheel itself. Among them is Deira Central, the nine million sq ft heart of the islands boasting 50 mixed-use towers, Deira Mall and two mosques, all set in extensive parkland Nakheel is also building Deira Islands Night Souk and more hotels and resorts at the islands.Source = Centara Hotels & Resortslast_img read more

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National Green Tribunal lifts Environment Cess on vehicles

first_imgIn consideration to a plea by the Himachal Pradesh (HP) government, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has lifted the Environment Cess imposed on vehicles travelling between Manali and Rohtang Pass, which was meant as a step to control pollution in the ecologically fragile area. The NGT had set a limit of 1,000 vehicles per day, which could go to the Rohtang Pass. Along with that an Environment Cess of Rs 2,500 on diesel vehicles and Rs 1,000 on petrol vehicles, for each trip on the 52 km stretch between Manali and Rohtang Pass.Even with the lifting of Environmental Cess, the NGT remained resolute on the number of vehicles (1,000 per day) allowed to go through to Rohtang Pass. Of the 1,000, 600 would be petrol vehicle and the rest 400 would have to be diesel, subject to pollution check. The decision by the NGT had caused disruption in Manila, with 1,500 taxi operators calling a strike and remaining of the road in protest.With the new order the tourism stakeholders of Manila breathed a sigh of relief. Anup Thakur (DIG Retd), President, Manali Hoteliers Association and Proprietor, Hotel Manali Continental, stated that they too want a balance of economy and ecology in Manali. Thakur added, “We welcome NGT’s decision to remove the Environment Cess which was a big burden on the taxi operators along with the rent, leaving their business not-so-profitable. But at the same time, we feel that limiting the number of vehicles to 1,000 too, is not practical enough.”Chairman, IATO Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh Chapter, Harmit Singh also expressed relief, but insisted that in the long run in order to stop pollution and emission of harmful gases, fuel adulteration would have to be stopped.“I am pleased to hear that NGT has removed the Environment Cess due to which the tourism sector of Manali can gain in its peak period,” said Sarab Jit Singh, Secretary, Indian Tourist Transporters Association (ITTA). “The vehicle owners are already loaded with a number of taxes both at the time of buying vehicles and also during every refuelling. The Environment Cess would have been an additional burden,” Singh added.  He said that carrying capacity is a major issue at all tourist destinations in India and has to be addressed jointly.Vice-Chairman of Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Board (HPTDB), Major Vijai Singh Mankotia, said that a high level meeting would have to be convened in order to assess the situation and take appropriate action. “We too, wish to draw a fine line in maintaining the beauty of the ecology and the environment thereby addressing the concerns of the tourism stakeholders of Manali,” Mankotia said.last_img read more

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Florida unveils new tourist spots for 2016

first_imgThe New Year has brought forth a number of options for adult play time making Florida the destination for this year. From relaxing hotel stays to thrill rides to dining, the Sunshine State has adventures to suite varied travellers.A $400 million redesign of one of the world’s top racing hubs, the Daytona International Speedway’s Daytona Rising, is a must-see attraction for all racing enthusiasts. The project would be completed in time for the 2016 Rolex 24 at the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach.Spring 2016 would see the launch of the newly extended Tampa Riverwalk in Tampa Bay, where Cyclists would have the opportunity to enjoy the 1.8-mile stretch of pedestrian space. The final project is set to run a total of 2.4 miles and hosts hotels, museums, historical monuments, restaurants and stores.SeaWorld’s Mako, which is a 200-feet-tall hypercoaster and Busch Gardens Tampa’s whirlwind ride, Corba’s Curse, are both set to open in summer 2016.Local brew and food-lovers can visit Florida Keys and Key West to experience the award-winning beers at the recently opened Waterfront Brewery or learn how to make local-style dishes by participating in a cooking class taught by local chefs at Isle Cook Key West.The Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club on Bradenton’s Anna Maria Island near Tampa is said to be a good location where guest can relax in two-bedroom suites featuring gourmet kitchens and a 50-slip marina.Faena Hotel Miami Beach in the Faena Arts District houses a 22,000 square-feet Tierra Santa Spa which offers guests with South American-inspired healing rituals. The hotel also offers Broadway-style shows at the two-level Saxony Theatre.last_img read more

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First Global Events Summit arrives in Scotland

first_imgFollowing their successful visit to this year’s IMEX in Frankfurt, the 30 senior live event professionals who are attending the inaugural Global Event Summit gathered at the world-famous Gleneagles Hotel & Resort in Perthshire this week.The first ever Global Event Summit is the result of a partnership between VisitScotland, the International Special Events Society, and the IMEX Group.Delegates will take part in three days of high-level debate on topics including; The Uber Economy, The Science of Events, The Cultural Revolution, and The Risk Factor.Following their stay at Gleneagles, delegates will then visit Scotland’s historic capital Edinburgh, where highlights include a private event at Edinburgh Castle as well as dinner on­board the Royal Yacht Britannia, formerly the private yacht of HRH Queen Elizabeth II.Neil Brownlee, Head of Business Events at VisitScotland said, “The Global Event Summit is a unique opportunity to engage with some of the most important and influential live event professionals in the world. A combination of knowledge exchange and showcasing the very best that Scottish hospitality has to offer will show these members of the global events community the true Spirit of Scotland.”last_img read more

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Debt Crises Inspire 69 PickUp in Loan Volume MBA

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Servicing Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Agents & Brokers Debt Crisis Euro European Union Fixed-Rate Mortgage HARP Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Applications Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Rates Processing Service Providers 2012-04-18 Ryan Schuette Share Debt crises in Europe spurred a wave of refinance applications last week, leading mortgage loan applications to tick up by 6.9 percent, according to the “”Mortgage Bankers Association””:http://www.mbaa.org/default.htm (MBA).[IMAGE]The trade group found that mortgage loan application volume went up 6.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the week before.””Renewed concerns about sovereign debt in Europe led to a drop in rates last week, with the 30-year rate tying our survey low, reached in early February,”” “”Jay Brinkmann””:http://www.mbaa.org/AboutMBA/GovernanceandManagement/Management/JayBrinkmann.htm, MBA’s chief economist, said in a statement. He said that refinance activity climbed by 13.5 percent accordingly, with 32 percent of survey respondents indicating that their refi volume came from Home[COLUMN_BREAK]Affordable Refinance Program loans.The Refinance Index edged up 13.5 percent from the week before, with the refinance share of mortgage activity increasing to 75.2 percent of the share of total activity.As a share of activity, adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 5.3 percent from 5.5 percent of total volume from the week before.Purchases waned from the week earlier. The index by the same name dropped 11.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis and 10.4 percent on an unadjusted basis.The four-week moving average edged down by 0.52 percent for the Purchase Index, just as it went up by 2.36 percent for the Refinance Index and 1.60 percent for the Market Index.Brinkmann said that a 23 percent decline in “”Federal Housing Administration””:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/housing/fhahistory (FHA) purchase loan applications helped engineer a corresponding drop in overall purchase activity. He noted in the statement that decreases for FHA loans signaled “”the largest weekly drop”” in government purchase indices since the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit last year.Mortgage rates zigzagged alongside increases in mortgage application volume, continuing trends that began with debt crises brought on by growth squeezes in euro zone countries.center_img April 18, 2012 410 Views Debt Crises Inspire 6.9% Pick-Up in Loan Volume: MBAlast_img read more

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