Intrepid asks tourists to walk away from lion walks on World Lion

first_imgIntrepid asks tourists to ‘walk away’ from lion walks on World Lion Day Travelweek Group Share Wednesday, August 10, 2016 Tags: Intrepid Travelcenter_img TORONTO — To mark World Lion Day today (Wednesday August 10), Intrepid Travel is urging tourists to walk away from lion walks and ‘orphan’ cubs at the hundreds of conservation centres believed to fuel the multi-million dollar canned hunting industry in Africa.Intrepid Travel became the first tour operator in the world to end elephant rides in 2014. Now the adventure travel company has formally signed a pledge that commits the company to actively work towards the end of exploitation of lions by the tourism industry.Led by the filmmakers behind the heart-breaking 2015 documentary ‘Blood Lions’, including environmental journalist Dr Ian Michler, the ‘Born to Live Wild’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the realities behind the cub-petting and lion ‘orphanage’ industry, which sees animal-lovers unwittingly support canned hunting experiences, by giving trophy hunting tourists an easy advantage. In South Africa alone, around 800 lions are shot in canned hunts each year.Many of the people operating South Africa’s 200 or more captive breeding facilities do so under the guise of conservation and research. According to Blood Lions filmmakers and animal-welfare groups, thousands of captive lions and other predators across the continent are bred in poor conditions, living in cages and other confined areas.“It might seem like fun to pet lion cubs or walk with lions, but this is not only stressful for the animals involved, it’s actually contributing to a hunting industry that has made it very easy for anyone with money to kill for a few thrills and an ego boost,” says Geoff Manchester, Co-founder of Intrepid Travel.“Intrepid has never offered any of these activities, but many travellers do want to walk with or pet lions. They are animal lovers with the best of intentions, so it’s up to us to raise awareness of the terrible conditions that these lions are held in just so tourists can have these experiences. The truth is that wild animals belong in the wild, and this exploitation of lions in Africa for entertainment needs to stop”.Intrepid Travel is asking agents and clients alike to sign the Born to Live Wild pledge. The pledge asks signees to commit to the following:To not knowingly book or otherwise support any breeder or operator that contributes to the cycle of breeding, exploitation and senseless killing of predators. This includes all petting and ‘walking with lion’ facilities.To continue our support and promotion of the formal conservation community in their endeavours to secure the survival of Africa’s predators in the wild. Without wild lions and other predators extant in functioning ecosystems, there will be no African tourism industry – a calamitous situation for many economies.To continue in our own endeavours towards wildlife conservation and economic development wherever we operate across Africa.To continue supporting an ethical and responsible interaction with Africa’s wilderness and wild animals.To continue promoting Africa as an authentic, wild and rewarding tourism destination.For more information about the pledge and the captive lion industry, visit Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

One million new seats heading to Mexico this year on international direct

first_img MEXICO CITY — Mexico tourism is expected to get a major boost now that the destination has announced one million new seats on international direct flights this year.According to the Mexico Tourism Board, airlines around the world are adding new routes, additional flights on existing routes and upgrading aircraft models with larger capacities in order to meet travel demand to Mexico. As of January 2017, airline partners have announced the addition of over 1,000,000 new seats scheduled this year on international direct flights to Mexico from more than 20 countries.“This expansion includes service to Mexico from many new international cities to multiple Mexico destinations, which is part of our strategy of international market diversification. We are delighted to see our airline industry partners continue to recognize this momentum and further expand their connectivity,” said Lourdes Berho, CEO of the Mexico Tourism Board.Since 2013, Mexico’s international tourism has grown at an annual average of 10%, double the global industry average. This performance, which includes growing from 24 million international tourists in 2013 to an anticipated 35 million in 2016, has catapulted Mexico from the 15th to the 9th most visited country in the world, according to the UNWTO.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upAs of January 2017, new lift includes:Air Canada Route: Vancouver to CancunAir Transat: Vancouver to Los CabosSunwing Airlines: Winnipeg to MazatlanAeromexico: Seoul Incheon to Mexico City; Amsterdam to Mexico City; Vancouver to Mexico City; Detroit to Monterrey; Detroit to Mexico City; Austin to Mexico City; and Calgary to Mexico CityAlitalia: Rome to Mexico CityAll Nippon Airways (ANA): Tokyo Narita to Mexico CityAmerican Airlines: Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta; Los Angeles to Cancun; Dallas to Merida; and Miami to MeridaCondor & Neckermann: Warsaw to CancunDelta Airlines: Los Angeles to Los CabosEdelweiss Air: Zurich to CancunFinnair: Helsinki to Puerto VallartaInterjet: Chicago to Mexico City; Las Vegas to Mexico City; Los Angeles to Guadalajara; Los Angeles to Cancun; Los Angeles to Mexico City; and Dallas to Mexico CitySouthwest Airlines: Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta; Los Angeles to Los Cabos, Los Angeles to Cancun; Oakland to Puerto Vallarta; and Oakland to Los CabosTUI Poland: Warsaw to CancunUnited Airlines: Chicago to Mexico CityVirgin America: Los Angeles to Los Cabos; Los Angeles to Cancun; and Los Angeles to Puerto VallartaViva Colombia: Medellin to CancunVolaris: New York JFK to Mexico City; Houston to Mexico City; Miami to Mexico City; Phoenix to Culiacan; Seattle to Guadalajara; Los Angeles to Durango; San Francisco to Mexico City; Miami to Guadalajara; Milwaukee to Guadalajara; Austin to Guadalajara; and Denver to MonterreyMore news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North AmericaIn addition to new routes, more than 25 existing routes have confirmed additional frequency of flights or upgraded aircraft. Air France, for example, recently launched service to Mexico City and Cancun from Paris on its flagship A380, making it the first airline in the world to fly this aircraft to Mexico. << Previous PostNext Post >> One million new seats heading to Mexico this year on international direct flights Tuesday, January 31, 2017 Tags: Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air Transat, Alitalia, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Finnair, Mexico, Transat, United Airlines, Virgin Groupcenter_img Share Travelweek Group Posted bylast_img read more

Complete Korea Tourisms Learning Centre to win 1 of 2 seats on

first_img Thursday, June 28, 2018 Share Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: KTO, Travelweek Learning Centrecenter_img Complete Korea Tourism’s Learning Centre to win 1 of 2 seats on Fall FAM TORONTO – The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has launched a new Learning Centre program to help agents grow their knowledge of Korea as a must-see tourist destination.Korea is more than just kimchi, palaces and Taekwondo, as agents will quickly learn. As “Asia’s most talked about destination”, Korea has much to offer all travellers, says Hyungkwan Park, Director of the Korea Tourism Organization in Toronto.“With the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, Korea made news around the world. The Winter Olympics and potential for peace along the border have made Korea the most talked-about destination in 2018,” he says. “There is more interest in our destination than ever before. This is an excellent opportunity for agents to learn about Korea and have a chance to win a seat on our Fall FAM.”KTO will randomly select two lucky agents who successfully complete the ‘Imagine Your Korea Specialist Course’ to have a chance to participate in the Fall FAM trip to Korea, which will take place this September. Highlights of the course include information on getting to Korea, transport, accommodations, activities, upcoming events and much more.More news:  ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growthTake the course today and discover the ‘real’ Korea beyond the news – beautiful, high-tech, friendly and cultured! Visit to get started. Posted bylast_img read more

Thousands protest high cost of living in Honduras

first_imgTEGUCIGALPA. –Some 10,000 Honduran workers protested Thursday in different cities against the high cost of living and the rapid increase of fuel prices, which has reached record highs.In the capital, Tegucigalpa, teachers and students left the University of Education and traveled 6 kilometers to the center of the city wielding banners and signs, chanting slogans like: “This move will not stop and anyone who opposes it will be crushed.”Several police officers watched the demonstrators and merchants to prevent attacks with stones or the defacing of property, as is common in such insurrections.During the march, the teachers’ union leader Luis Sosa said protests were held in 18 provinces. According to local radio reports, there were protests in major cities like San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba (north), Santa Rosa de Copan (northwest), Danli, Juticalpa (east) and Choluteca (south).On Wednesday, some 3,500 farming families took 12,000 hectares of land in eight provinces but were evacuated under the threat of police forces.The event was organized by supporters of former President Manuel Zelaya, who was deposed June 28, 2009. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Crime blog Brazilian soccer fans revive one of historys most inhumane punishments

first_imgNo related posts. NEW YORK — The Associated Press moved a bizarre story this weekend about an amateur Brazilian soccer match that came to a gruesome end. The trouble began when referee Otavio da Silva ejected a player named Josenir Abreu. An argument ensued, which ended when da Silva pulled a knife and stabbed Abreu to death. Abreu’s friends and relatives were upset, as you might expect, and so they stormed the field and threw stones at da Silva until he died, which you probably didn’t expect. Then, they chopped da Silva’s body into quarters and impaled his head on a stake, which I really, truly hope you didn’t expect.Quartering dates back to 13th-century England, when Henry III and subsequent rulers used it against men convicted of high treason. Unlucky convicts would be dragged to the gallows and hanged until they were almost but not quite dead. Then they would be disemboweled while still alive, and their entrails would be burnt before their eyes. Finally, the prisoner was beheaded and dismembered, and his remains were displayed as a warning to all those who would conspire against the Crown.The punishment didn’t really make it over to the Thirteen Colonies. There are very few records of people being hanged, drawn and quartered in America. In 1676, a Rhode Island man named Joshua Tefft was hanged, drawn and quartered after he allegedly took the Narragansett tribe’s side during a skirmish with colonists. Tefft claimed he had been forced to fight, but the colonists didn’t buy his excuse; as Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Mayflower” puts it, “Without English clothes and with a weather-beaten face, he looked like an Indian to the English. Tefft was a troubling example of what happened to a man when the Puritan’s god and culture were stripped away and Native savagery was allowed to take over.” (Indian wars were the heyday of quartering in America. In 1675, a Narragansett chieftain named Metacom was beheaded and quartered after he was killed in a battle with colonists. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, his head was “displayed on a pole for 25 years at Plymouth.”)While some sources say Tefft is the only man to ever be verifiably hanged, drawn and quartered in America, the punishment itself remained on the books as a deterrent to treason. In 1771, Captain Benjamin Merrill and five other men were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered after leading a group of militiamen against British forces in a tax protest that presaged the Revolutionary War. Evidence indicates that they were only hanged, however, and that the drawing and quartering portion of the sentence was waived. Phew!Once the British were expelled from the colonies, hanging, drawing and quartering went away as a punishment, likely because it was barbaric and inhumane, and also very messy. The last 200 years or so have pretty much been drawing-and-quartering free, which is part of the reason why this news from Brazil was so surprising. Indeed, the most surprising part of this act of vigilantism is that the soccer fans were able to successfully quarter the referee in question. Did they bring their own machetes to the game?Peters writes Slate’s crime blog. @slatecrime.© 2013, Slate Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Casa Presidencial announces all public events will have sign language interpretation

first_imgShe says a lot but you’ve probably never heard a word out of her mouth.Estefanía Carvajal, a Costa Rican sign language interpreter, was a common sight alongside candidate Luis Guillermo Solís during his successful presidential campaign, and Tuesday the president announced that Carvajal would join his press team at Casa Presidencial.Carvajal overcame any embarrassment about talking about herself in public as she signed the announcement of her employment on stage during a press conference at the presidential offices in Zapote, Tuesday.The president said that Carvajal would interpret alongside him during public speaking events and during activities to discuss disability policy. Casa Presidencial said it was the first time that a Costa Rican administration offered simultaneous sign language interpretation during its events.Solís said that the decision was a “sign of respect and recognition of the rights” of the deaf community here, which numbers some 70,000 Costa Ricans.Casa Presidencial also announced a YouTube channel dedicated to the Tico deaf community.“This is one more expression of our commitment and our respect for the human rights of all populations in our country,” Solís said. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica’s first official sign language interpreter has long history of bridging the communication gap President Solís tries to weed out corruption, starting with the bushes President of Costa Rica raises LGBT flag over Casa Presidencial President Solís: ‘If you want to get through a border, you’ll be able to sooner or later’last_img read more

France wins 30 over Honduras the first CONCACAF team to lose at

first_imgPORTO ALEGRE — Karim Benzema scored twice as France beat 10-man Honduras 3-0 in a bruising World Cup clash on Sunday where goal-line technology awarded the first international goal in history.Honduras became the first team to lose in the World Cup from North and Central America, after Costa Rica defeated Uruguay, 3-1, yesterday and Mexico held off Cameroon, 1-0, on Friday. The United States, the fourth and final team in the oft-maligned region known as CONCACAF, plays Monday at 4 p.m. against Ghana.Three minutes into the second half between Honduras and France, the GoalControl computer referee was called into action when a Benzema volley hurtled off a post.The ball flew across the face of the goal before hitting Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares and then rebounding into the goal.Valladares tried to scoop the ball to safety, but Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci awarded the goal — classed as an own-goal — after consulting the instant technology.“I saw that the ball crossed the line,” said Benzema. “I don’t know if having technology like this is good for football but the most important thing was that we have won.”France coach Didier Deschamps was supportive of the new technology, but also concerned at the confusion caused as replays inside the stadium first showed Benzema’s initial shot had not gone in before confirming the ball had crossed the line after hitting Valladares’ hand.Benzema opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Wilson Palacios was sent off for two bookable offenses on Paul Pogba.And the Real Madrid striker rounded off a fine afternoon with an emphatic finish 18 minutes from time.Victory moves France above Switzerland on goal difference in Group E after the Swiss beat Ecuador 2-1 earlier. The two European sides are set to meet next Friday in Salvador.France’s game began in bizarre circumstances as neither sides’ national anthem was played before kick-off. Normality was restored once proceedings got underway as France dominated from the initial whistle. Related posts:Reeling Honduras loses to Israel; US tops Turkey: Mexico takes pyrrhic victory Mexico beats Cameroon 1-0 FIFA reform taskforce meets for first time Honduras ex-President Rafael Callejas goes to US to face FIFA corruption charges Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Big Band of Costa Rica to celebrate 25 years

first_imgRelated posts:Envision kicks off with long lines, high spirits, community service The band plays on: “Summer Series” serenades Plaza de la Democracia Dub sounds in Costa Rica: Mad Professor and Mad Elaine Yoga Day, Father’s Day exhibit and other happenings around Costa Rica In 1885, the businessman Henry Lee Higginson came up with an idea: He wanted to start an orchestra that performed “concerts of a lighter kind of music.” Large groups of musicians didn’t have to play just Mozart and Beethoven, he argued. They could also play tunes that people in the street would recognize. And that is the origin of the Boston Pops, one of the most beloved orchestras in the world.The Big Band of Costa Rica is very similar – they play jazz, swing, standards, soundtracks, and Billboard chart-toppers. It isn’t nearly as old as the Boston Pops, but this week it is celebrating a major benchmark: 25 years since its founding in 1990. Its members will mark the occasion on Saturday with an anniversary concert at the National Theater.“They’re many years of labor and sacrifice,” said Humberto Vaglio, director and founding member of the orchestra, “but more adventure, illusion, mysticism, and friendship.”The Big Band has only a dozen members or so, yet the company is able to pull off the robust and brassy sound of a traditional big band. Some of its players have gone on to do independent projects, such as trumpeter José Carlos Sibaja, who has played with Ricky Martin.The Big Band’s concert on Feb. 28 promises to be a smorgasbord of different songs and styles, from Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” to Abba’s “Dancing Queen,” Percy Mayfield’s “Hit the Road Jack,” and Kander and Ebb’s “New York, New York.” If you’re familiar with the usual pops oeuvre, the Big Band’s set list should win an approving nod.La Big Band de Costa Rica performs Feb. 28 at the National Theater, downtown San José. 8 p.m. 7,000-15,000 ($14-30). Info: National Theater website. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Tamarindo residents consider suing government over security after hotel owners murder

first_imgJogi Juergen Gerner, who heads the ADI security committee, told the crowd about the committee’s work over the last 10 years, including many attempts to reach out to the Ministry of Public Security for help with maintaining a local police presence.In 2007, the police had to vacate the donated building they had been using as a Tamarindo police station. The community then raised funds to help pay rent on a new headquarters, at Cabinas Maleko.But once again, just recently, the police had to leave their station at Cabinas Maleko because the rent was $30,000 in arrears. The Ministry of Public Security had taken over paying rent for awhile. Then Tamarindo residents stepped in again, then the Municipality of Santa Cruz paid rent, until it didn’t.Tamarindo’s pleas for financial assistance for the police, including rent, more manpower, vehicles and assistance with a proposed video monitoring system, have gone virtually unanswered.Last week, Wolfgang Gollas, owner of the Tamarindo Diria Hotel, donated 5,000 square meters for a new police station. In the meantime, he’s agreed to foot the rental bill for the police to have a Tamarindo base at Cabinas Colibrí.At the meeting, ADI urged people to report crimes to the association via its website to establish a record of local needs. The association also wants to raise money to pay for a video monitoring system to watch the town’s streets.Then it was Santa Cruz Mayor Chavarría’s turn to speak.“I feel very sorry for what just happened in Tamarindo, and I am here out of solidarity,” Chavarría told the audience.“I believe Tamarindo should have police and the muni has paid several years rent for the police. So where is the Ministry of (Public) Security? When we stopped paying, we expected the Ministry of Security to pay.”Some audience members got heated.“The municipality hasn’t done anything,” Rik Grencik, who has lived in the area for 28 years, said.“I came here to honor Barry. What happened to him has to be a catalyst for change,” he said. “I will give $500 for the arrest and conviction of the bastards who killed him.”Mayor Chavarría promised to meet with his municipal cabinet about security in Tamarindo and to meet with the Ministry of Public Security.Many audience members were enthusiastic about ADI’s idea of suing the government on behalf of Tamarindo to force it to attend to the town’s security needs. Tamarindo business owners and residents have long complained that, thanks to tourism, they pay heavily into local and national tax coffers, but receive little in return.“We plan on going to the highest system of courts in this country,” Juergen from ADI said. “There are six attorneys in town helping draft the lawsuit and they are investigating similar cases around the country to see how we should do it.”The lawsuit plan gathered pages of approving signatures from attendees.Even Mayor Chavarría agreed that the local government, at least, owes Tamarindo.“Tamarindo gives lots of money to the muni; what can the muni do for Tamarindo?” he said, summing up the community’s feelings. Facebook Comments The faltering police presence in Tamarindo has for years caused frustration among local residents and conflict between the popular beach town and the capital of the canton that it’s part of, Santa Cruz.But the recent robbery and killing of beloved Tamarindo resident and hotel owner Barry Lawson has residents outraged, and considering serious steps to remedy the situation, including a lawsuit.Last Friday over 300 people from the community met at the Playa Langosta Surf Club Sports Bar to discuss security in the wake of Lawson’s death.Lawson and his wife, Suzye, who owned the Villa Alegre Bed and Breakfast and ran a local non-profit, Amigos de la Educación, were robbed at their hotel on April 1. Barry Lawson sustained serious head injuries and died April 7 at a hospital in San José.Friday’s gathering was hosted by the Tamarindo Integral Development Association (ADI), a community organization that focuses on resolving community problems, including public safety. On the agenda: Santa Cruz’s disappointing response to Tamarindo community needs; the inconsistent police presence in town; a proposal for a video monitoring system; and discussion of a potential lawsuit in hopes of forcing Santa Cruz to attend to increasing security concerns in the area.Santa Cruz Mayor Dr. Jorge Chavarría and Santa Cruz Police Chief Elder Monge Castro were also scheduled to speak at the meeting, but Monge pulled out at the last minute. The police chief said the location wasn’t secure, and he objected to the sale of alcohol at the meeting, saying it would affect the discussions. Some in the crowd were livid.ADI Treasurer Trevor Bernard expressed disappointment: “We had hoped to write down our needs and to get the police to sign it and then to hold them to it,” he said. Ellen Zoe Golden Related posts:Tamarindo hotel owner dies of injuries after attack by robbers Costa Rica police analyze burned bones found on property of missing U.S. citizen U.S. beachgoer tries to burn down police station after his arrest in Tamarindo The undoing of Gary Webb and today’s news organizationslast_img read more

Costa Rica rises in global ranking of travel tourism competitiveness

first_imgCosta Rica ranks among the top tourism economies in Latin America, according to theresults of a report released this week by the World Economic Forum (WEF).The country ranked 42 among 141 countries evaluated by the WEF in its Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015. That’s five steps higher than the country ranked in the WEF’s previous report.The ranking took into account a total of 90 indicators in 14 different areas.In Latin America, only Brazil, Mexico and Panama scored better.Costa Rica’s best scores were achieved in three areas: tourism infrastructure development, visitors’ safety and security, and government prioritization of travel and tourism.Hermes Navarro del Valle, Director of Investment Attraction at the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) said he considered the results very positive. But he said the report also highlighted problems the country has struggled with for many years.“We are happy with the ranking’s results, but we cannot be fully satisfied as we believe Costa Rica can rank higher. We also know that there are still many areas in which we can improve,” he said Friday.He also said Costa Rica’s position within the region is very flattering “considering both Mexico and Brazil are world giants and Panama in recent years has increased its investment in tourism promotion and infrastructure.”President of the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR) Pablo Heriberto Abarca, on the other hand, was not as positive about the report’s findings. He said the country’s rank in the WEF report “can and should be improved.”As for the parameters that gained the country its highest scores, including tourism infrastructure development, Abarca was emphatic in his disagreement with the results.“It is clear for us that the country’s performance in those three indicators are not as good as they should be,” Abarca said.Improvement needed in cultural tourism, infrastructureThe country’s weak spots, according to the report, include the lack of options for cultural and business tourism, and insufficient development of air terminals and port infrastructure.Navarro said these results are highly subjective as the WEF investigation mostly evaluated quantity over quality.“The evaluation took into account, for example, how many World Heritage and World Cultural Heritage sites each country has, how many museums and even how many football stadiums a country has. This is completely subjective and purely based on quantity,” he said.CANATUR’s Abarca agreed that there’s a greater need for improvement in other areas.“These aspects are important, but for us the main aspect to be improved is the government’s priority for the [tourism] sector,” he said.A step toward upping tourism on the government’s priority list might have come this week. President Luis Guillermo Solís signed a decree Thursday making tourism a national economic sector within the government’s structure. The Solís administration had previously considered tourism a sub-sector of the economy, under the supervision of the Economy Ministry.Navarro said he hopes Solís’ decree will have a positive impact on the next release of the World Economic Forum evaluation.The tourism industry is one of Costa Rica’s main income sources. Last year the sector saw increases in both revenues and visitation, according to official data.Tourism officials in January reported that revenues from Costa Rica’s tourism sector last year totaled $2.6 billion, an 8.3 percent increase over the $2.4 billion registered in 2013, according to figures from the Central Bank.Officials credited the 2,526,817 international arrivals registered in 2014, an increase of 4.1 percent over the previous year. Those visits represented an increase of 98,876 arrivals by air, land and at ports, ICT reported. Facebook Comments Related posts:Upbeat outlook for Costa Rica tourism, as visitors, revenue up in 2014 Tourism entrepreneurs to present President Solís with a plan to further develop sector Singing animals will ‘save the Americans’ (and the Canadians) in a new Costa Rica tourism ad campaign Costa Rica TV spot competes in World Tourism Organization contestlast_img read more

Costa Rica tops Nicaragua 10 in ugly friendly

first_img59’ ¡Gol, Gol, Goooooooool! Kendall Waston #LaSele 1, Nicaragua 0 #VamosSele— FEDEFUTBOL (@FEDEFUTBOL_CR) December 16, 2015 One of the only true threats on goal in the first half – for either team– came when Rodney Wallace stole the ball in front of the Nicaraguan goalkeeper in the 26th minute, but was too far left to connect on a shot across goal. Earlier, a corner kick landed right in front of the net as José Mena then seemed to head the ball in for a goal, but officials ruled that Mena fouled the keeper on the play. Nicaragua technically registered one shot on goal in the entire first half, although it was a high volley that never had a chance.La Sele’s forwards looked lifeless, including Josué Martínez who plays for the University of Costa Rica and was consistently out of sync Tuesday. A promising scoring opportunity in the 35th minute flamed out because of a poor pass from Martínez.It’s hard to take much away from Óscar Ramírez’s side, which was relegated to a B-team lineup as the country’s biggest stars weren’t called up from their European clubs or the notable domestic clubs like Saprissa and Alajuelense that are still in postseason play. The only players available for Tuesday’s friendly that figure to contribute to the World Cup qualifying rounds going forward were Major League Soccer stars like Waston and Waylon Francis.Nicaragua, which is coached by Costa Rican-born Henry Duarte, ranks 97th in the latest FIFA rankings, despite already being bounced out of qualifying consideration for the 2016 World Cup. Even against a depleted Costa Rican roster, in a friendly that was mostly inconsequential for the Tico-side, the Nicas still looked outmatched.The national team is next scheduled to play in March against Jamaica in a qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup. Costa Rica has already jumped out to an early lead in its group after wins last month over Panama and Haiti. Facebook Comments The football gods would have been better off shielding their eyes from the provincial capital of Guanacaste on Tuesday night. What was already a meaningless friendly for Costa Rica going in against Nicaragua turned into an ugly, virtually uneventful match between two sides lacking talent.Costa Rica, which was without nearly every significant player the country has, toppled Nicaragua 1-0 from Liberia’s Edgardo Baltodano Stadium. But the performance on the field did little to prove wrong critics who said the game should never have been scheduled after Costa Rica’s Football Federation rushed to find a substitute once a planned match with St. Vincent and the Grenadines fell through.Kendall Waston, one of “La Sele’s” only experienced players who was called up for the friendly, scored in the 59th minute on a header by out-jumping and out-muscling Nicaragua’s undersized defenders.center_img Related posts:Costa Rica loses to Mexico on heartbreaking penalty call in Gold Cup quarterfinals Costa Rica football’s next big stars: 7 players who could shine for La Sele in the future 3 things to watch in La Sele’s Copa América prep against Venezuela Final thoughts from Costa Rica’s short-lived Copa América: Is Ramírez in the hot seat?last_img read more

La Platina bridge to be partially closed for over a month officials

first_imgRelated posts:Finally! Public Works Ministry reopens La Platina bridge Transit police confiscate hundreds of license plates for failure to pay marchamo Infamous ‘La Platina’ bridge to close for 24 hours beginning Thursday Costa Rican authorities investigate explosives left on La Platina bridge The bridge that keeps causing nightmares for Costa Rican drivers will be closed for six weeks beginning on Jan. 21, authorities from the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) confirmed Thursday. The long closure on “La Platina” bridge on General Cañas Highway will affect the lanes going to San José from Alajuela and Juan Santamaría Airport.Road officials said the bridge needs to be shut down during that time so that they can replace the gratings under the road and add a new layer of cement to the roadway in preparation for a third lane.MOPT closed the same southeast-bound lanes Thursday morning for a 24-hour period on the problematic bridge over the Virilla River that the government has unsuccessfully tried to repair for the past decade.The main detour route cuts through Lagunilla, Heredia. As of Thursday morning’s closure, the road has faced heavy traffic, according to the direction app Waze.Government officials are expected to announce the details of the closure at a Friday press conference. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Sorbos Edible straws coming to Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica lawmakers want to ban nonbiodegradable plastic shopping bags Plastic bag pollution is daunting but has an easy solution, says environmentalist National campaign collects used batteries for recycling Say no to the straw, but yes to this one Earlier this year, several major companies banned plastic straws due to environmental concerns. But it’s difficult to eliminate straws without something to replace them.That’s where Sorbos edible straws come in. Costa Rica is the first Latin American country to have the tasty utensils that were originally created in Spain to change the culture of excessive plastic consumption.What began as a conversation at a family lunch about quitting plastic became an innovative business. Federico Guth, the distributor of Sorbos in Costa Rica, spoke to the Tico Times about how the edible straws ended up here.In 2016, Guth’s daughter questioned him after he had used a plastic straw at a restaurant.“I kept thinking about what would happen if there were other options to not use so much plastic and be able to use straws,” Guth recalls.In his search, he found Sorbos, a Spanish family-owned business founded by Víctor Manuel Sánchez, a young bartender who invented a kind of wafer made of cassava starch that worked perfectly in the cocktails he enjoyed. (Photo courtesy of Sorbos)Guth traveled to Barcelona to meet Sanchez’s team — at that time much smaller than it is today — and brought the Sorbos brand to Costa Rica. He began distributing the straws here more than three months ago and the results, Guth says, have been incredible. Several restaurants have contacted him about using Sorbos, and larger companies like Britt and Pops are considering it as well.How many plastic straws do you use per day? A week? A month? These small tubes represent 4 percent of garbage worldwide. Each one takes years to decompose and, according to Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), at least 90 percent of marine species have consumed one. Perhaps now there is a suitable alternative.How does Sorbos taste?Although the flavors of Sorbos range from chocolate to lemon, its flavors do not contaminate your drink until after you start eating the straw.A Sorbos straw is made from gelatin, cassava starch, sugar and water. It is hard and, after being immersed in a drink, remains usable for about half an hour. If it is not eaten, it fully degrades in hours.The colder the drink, the better Sorbos works. (Photo Courtesy of Sorbos)“The nice thing is that with Sorbos we help the environment and also it gives a sweet extra touch to the drink you are consuming,” Guth said.The Sorbos wrapper is made out of paper with a thin plastic cover, which prevents humidity. But the wrapper contains so little plastic that it can be recycled as paper. The straw itself can last up to two years inside the package.Sorbos straws are already common at Lobitos Pizza, a restaurant in Alajuela, and Taller de Copos, an artisan ice cream shop in San José. The two business are run by young people who are interested in alternatives to plastic.Guth says Sorbos hopes to expand to more and larger restaurants soon. (Photo Courtesy of Sorbos)“The response has been incredible,” he said. “Our biggest audience is young people.”You can purchase the Sorbos straws for your personal use, too. Current prices vary between 7,500 colones for a package of 50 straws, and 27,000 colones for 200 (about $13 and $45, respectively). Guth said they plan to launch a cheaper five-straw package in the future.According to Guth, the idea is to distribute Sorbos throughout Central America. The product has already been distributed to a small business in Nicaragua. In Costa Rica, the straws can now be acquired in all parts of the country by orders.“We reached all of Costa Rica,” Guth said. “Wherever Sorbos is wanted, we’ll be there.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Letters from the trail Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica Part 5

first_imgRelated posts:Letters from the trail: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 1) Letters from the trail: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 2) Letters from the trail: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 3) Letters from the trail: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 4) Earlier this year, we told you about Camino de Costa Rica, a 280-km hike from Costa Rica’s Atlantic to its Pacific coast. Garry Wallace recently completed the Camino de Costa Rica, and he wrote a series of stories recounting the experience. Read: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 1)Read: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 2)Read: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 3) Read: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 4) Below is the finale, Part 5: ***Final thoughts on El Camino de Costa RicaAs I stare at this blank screen trying to find the words to capture my thoughts and emotions after such a moving and multifaceted experience, I know I’ll never do El Camino de Costa Rica justice. Words are inadequate to portray its richness, its challenge and its rewards. But I’ll try.First, a comparison. I have been truly blessed to have hiked the Camino de Santiago and the Incan trail to Machu Picchu. They were both incredible experiences and will never be forgotten, but relative to El Camino, they were a shared experience. Thousands and thousands of hikers complete those “best of the best” hikes every year. Many eyes and feet cover the same ground.El Camino de Costa Rica, however, provided something different: a chance to complete a hike, find oneself and explore a truly amazing country in a way that very, very few have ever done. More people have stood on top of Mount Everest. How many hiking experiences are exclusive and remote anymore?  How many times can you say you were truly away from the maddening crowd?  That made El Camino not only special, but it made it feel like it was all mine. Photo by Garry Wallace. Photo by Garry Wallace.Our group size varied throughout El Camino as hikers did the sections that their schedules allowed. In the end there were only three of us: Jorleny Aguilar (our amazing guide), Ralph Perez (one tough American from California) and myself. We never had cross words for each other or bad days.  We were all in love with El Camino and in awe every single day. Our group at the end, the Quepos sign on the Pacific coast. Photo via Garry Wallace.Joining us to hike the last day was Conchita Espino, La Madre de El Camino, whose support and encouragement throughout El Camino was above and beyond.El Camino has to be experienced firsthand to be believed.  These two weeks shall live with me forever.One of my favorite sayings is by Mark Twain:Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot reacquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.Thanks Mr. Twain. My El Camino adventure was another attempt by me to take those words to heart. Photo by Garry Wallace.Garry Wallace is a managing partner at Serenity Boutique Hotel in Quepos, Puntarenas.  Learn more at  Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Azerbaijan criticized over rights as European Games begin

first_imgAzerbaijan is one of a new generation of controversial players on the world sports stage, resource-rich but with shoddy human rights records and comparatively little sporting history. There’s also Qatar, host of the 2022 soccer World Cup and under fire over corruption allegations and the deaths of migrant workers, and the oil-rich Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, a finalist in bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics.Hosting the European Games has a particular significance for majority-Muslim Azerbaijan, which has long sought to present itself as a European rather than Asian nation, a strategy long followed by neighboring Turkey.“Azerbaijan is a very young country,” said Simon Clegg, the former British Olympic Association chief who has led Baku’s preparations, speaking with The Associated Press in one of Baku’s trio of Flame Tower skyscrapers, another product of the country’s oil wealth.“The European Games will allow Azerbaijan to showcase itself to the international community and the whole world as an exciting and dynamic country that is a very secular society.”Friday’s opening ceremony will be attended by world leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Among people who will not be there is Khadija Ismayilova, a journalist who was imprisoned last year after investigating corruption allegedly involving the president, in what opposition activists says is a wider crackdown on dissent ahead of the Games. BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Just over a mile from the gleaming white facade of Baku’s new Olympic Stadium, an oil refinery tower lights up the sky. Its flame fits neatly with Azerbaijan’s marketing line to would-be tourists — “the land of fire” — but it’s also a powerful reminder of the oil wealth that made it possible to build the 68,000-seat arena.From Friday, Azerbaijan hosts the inaugural European Games, a 20-sport event designed to put the former Soviet country on the map — and perhaps prepare Baku to host the Olympics in the future — but which has dredged up unwanted scrutiny. The budget for the games officially totals just over 1 billion manats ($915 million), with much of that sum spent on the Olympic Stadium, Sports Minister Azad Rahimov said Thursday, adding that it had increased after the currency was recently devalued. The true figure may be higher when related infrastructure such as new roads is taken into account, or the games’ prominent sponsorship by the state oil company.As foreigners pour into Baku, authorities are trying to block poor Azerbaijanis from sight to hide the “huge contrast between rich and poor,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Giorgi Gogia. A large fence along the airport road hides poor neighborhoods from view and is nicknamed “the belt of happiness,” said Gogia. He is based in neighboring Georgia and was deported from Azerbaijan in March after trying to attend an activist’s court hearing.The games are taking place amid heavy security, with dozens of police and camouflage-clad paramilitary Internal Troops stationed outside the accommodation for athletes and media representatives. While attacks are relatively rare, Islamist terrorism has long been a security threat in Azerbaijan.However, one of Azerbaijan’s problems has proved more tractable ahead of the games: the long-running conflict between Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. A delegation from Armenia will compete at the games in a rare sign of goodwill between the two countries. Sponsored Stories New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Emma Hughes – a British journalist and human rights activist critical of the Azerbaijani government — was denied entry Tuesday and detained overnight at Baku’s main airport despite possessing media accreditation for the games, her colleague Mika Minio-Paluello told AP by telephone.Border guards told Hughes she was “on a red list” but would not explain why she was barred from entering the country, Minio-Paluello said. Hughes, who had planned to attend an appeal hearing for a jailed opposition leader in Baku, was held under guard and told she would be kept at the airport until Thursday but “argued quite forcefully” and was eventually put on a flight to Turkey on Wednesday morning, Minio-Paluello said.On Thursday, British newspaper The Guardian said its sportswriter Owen Gibson had been refused entry to cover the games after criticizing the Azerbaijani government. The government, European Olympic Committees and games organizers all said they would investigate the case, which EOC president Patrick Hickey called “a matter of concern.”Azerbaijan is sensitive to criticism of its rights record. Ali Hasanov, an adviser to President Ilham Aliyev, said Thursday that an organized campaign was under way to slander the country, led by lobbyists for Azerbaijan’s traditional rival Armenia, “an anti-Azerbaijan London (media) platform,” along with French and German TV networks. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies “The Olympic spirit triumphs again,” Hickey said.___AP correspondent Sophiko Megrelidze in Tbilisi, Georgia, contributed to this reportCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sobercenter_img Azerbaijan’s enemies abroad “have a jealous attitude to Azerbaijan being able to organize the first European Games at a high level and are trying to prove that small countries can’t implement these kinds of projects,” Hasanov said.Hickey, the EOC head, said Thursday that he had raised the issue of human rights with the Azerbaijani government “behind the scenes.” But “we cannot dictate to a sovereign state as to how they run their affairs,” he said.Hickey deflected questions about the barring of Amnesty International: “To all intents and purposes, Amnesty International is a political organization, so questions on that matter should be left to the government of Azerbaijan to answer,” he said.Oil is the lifeblood of Azerbaijan, but sometimes mars the landscape. Oil rigs dot the skyline when looking out over the Caspian Sea from Baku, while the site of the Olympic Stadium was once a lake heavily polluted by Soviet-era oil and chemicals spillages.While the country’s energy wealth made it possible to clean up the lake, resources are not limitless. A steep plunge in the price of oil, which makes up almost all of Azerbaijan’s exports, has put pressure on government finances. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Patrick Hickey, the head of the European Olympic Committee attends a news conference on the eve of the opening of the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, Thursday, June 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky) 4 must play golf courses in Arizona “Civil society pretty much is eradicated in Azerbaijan and there are no independent voices left … The last two years, we saw increased repression,” said Levan Asatiani, a researcher covering Azerbaijan for Amnesty International. “The government could well be creating a criticism-free zone ahead of the European Games.”Security forces routinely resort to torture, according to Asatiani. “Authorities are planting drugs on activists and then they try to pursue a prosecution,” he said. “Most of the activists who are now in prison on drug-related charges say that they have been ill-treated during interrogation and some of them signed confession letters under torture.”Ismayilova, the jailed journalist, has been convicted of libel and accused of tax evasion and inciting a colleague to commit suicide. “The subject of her investigation was corruption among high ranking officials and she was arrested because of that,” her lawyer, Fariz Namazli, told The AP.Foreign human rights activists have faced obstructions covering the games. Amnesty International planned to send a delegation to Azerbaijan during the Games, but pulled out Tuesday, saying the government had told it that the group would not be allowed in.last_img read more

Merkel faces Greek challenge with strong political capital

first_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean It was the German leader who advocated bringing in the International Monetary Fund, with its experience as a tough taskmaster in international bailouts, to deal with Greece. But Merkel also has taken care to keep communications open with Greek leader Alexis Tsipras, an ideological adversary, as negotiations bogged down.That pragmatic persistence has become a Merkel trademark. It also has been on show in the crisis over Russia’s actions in Ukraine. She has won plaudits at home for tireless efforts to keep up dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin and prevent the conflict from escalating.At the same time, she has kept the country largely behind economic sanctions against Russia despite their costs to German industry.Merkel’s slow-but-steady approach to policy — she has frequently said Europe’s debt crisis must be tackled “step by step” — plays well at home. She told German lawmakers last week that every move on Greece has been and will be “very well-considered.”Her one major departure from that approach came in 2011, when she abruptly accelerated the shutdown of Germany’s nuclear power plants following meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima plant. Her government had decided only a few months earlier to extend the plants’ lives. The about-face initially unsettled supporters, but has helped in the long term by defusing a sensitive issue for her party. Her conservative party has a seemingly unassailable poll lead, no credible challenger is in sight and the German economy is strong. Her steady-handed, reassuring and risk-averse leadership style resonates with German voters and has earned her the nickname “Mutti,” or Mama.Merkel has said repeatedly that her aim is to keep Greece in the euro. But voters are unlikely to hold a failure of that effort against her “because she has owned this role of protector in the euro crisis for several years,” said Peter Matuschek, the head of political and social research at Germany’s Forsa polling agency.“The majority have the impression that she’s doing what she can, and if it doesn’t work out it probably wasn’t down to her,” he said, with Greece’s government widely viewed in Germany as the culprit for the standoff.Merkel’s knack for reassuring Germans that she has a confusing crisis under control dates back at least to 2008 when, amid the fallout from Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy, she announced that the government was guaranteeing all private bank savings.Since the eurozone debt crisis first flared in 2010, dragging Germany into a leadership role, she has kept up a delicate balancing act: helping struggling countries that accept tough budget cuts and reforms while convincing Germans she is defending their interests — and wallets. Mesa family survives lightning strike to homecenter_img Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   If Greece and its creditors pull off a deal to avoid bankruptcy this time, Germany’s Parliament will have to sign off.One of the tougher audiences for yet more aid could be Merkel’s own conservative Union bloc, where there’s little appetite for further concessions to Tsipras’ radical left-led government. Veteran Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has sounded tougher on Greece than Merkel lately but has been reliably loyal, likely will be key to helping persuade lawmakers.Merkel hasn’t yet come close to losing any parliamentary vote on eurozone rescue measures, though 29 of her bloc’s 311 lawmakers voted against a four-month extension to Greece’s bailout in February — the biggest number yet.She currently runs a “grand coalition” of Germany’s biggest parties with the center-left Social Democrats that holds around four-fifths of the parliamentary seats. The country’s next election isn’t due until late 2017.A political threat from further right has failed to gather steam. The upstart Alternative for Germany party, founded in 2013 on a platform of ending the euro in its current form, has increasingly focused on anti-immigration talk and has become mired in infighting. BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has emerged undamaged from the global financial crisis, European bailouts, an astonishing U-turn on nuclear power and the crisis over Ukraine.Now, with the future of efforts to resolve Greece’s fiscal woes up in the air, the long-serving leader looks well-placed to emerge strong even if they fail.Over a decade leading Europe’s biggest economy, Merkel has enjoyed consistently high popularity and accumulated a store of political capital at home that would be the envy of most other leaders on the continent. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, 2. from right, laughs with staff on her way to welcomes Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron for bilateral talks at the chancellery in Berlin, Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) So far, potential conservative rebels on Greece appear to be “the usual suspects,” Matuschek said. While there is annoyance with Greece among conservative voters, “I think they will support the chancellor in case of doubt.”In February, there was support for extending Greece’s rescue program even from the opposition Left Party, which has consistently accused Merkel of playing too hard.Prominent Left Party lawmaker Sahra Wagenknecht blamed Merkel’s government this week for a standstill in negotiations, accusing it of seeking “the unconditional surrender of the Greek government.”___Geir Moulson has covered German politics since 2001.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

Zimbabweans linked to illegal lion hunt appear in court

first_img Sponsored Stories New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Although African game wouldn’t be eligible, Hisey said he alerted the group’s board that Palmer’s ethics were being called into question. He said Palmer’s domestic records could be jeopardized if he’s found to have done something illegal abroad.Cecil was being studied by an Oxford University research program.He is believed to have been killed on July 1 in western Zimbabwe’s wildlife-rich Hwange region, its carcass discovered days later by trackers.___Associated Press reporters Amy Forliti in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Brian Bakst in St. Paul, Minnesota, contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Two Zimbabweans arrested for illegally hunting a protected lion named Cecil were in court on Wednesday as anger at the kill by an American dentist escalated.“If, as has been reported, this dentist and his guides lured Cecil out of the park with food so as to shoot him on private property … he needs to be extradited, charged, and, preferably, hanged,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said in a statement Wednesday. The statement, emailed to The Associated Press, came from Ingrid Newkirk, president of the animal rights organization. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Social media on the internet — for example on Twitter under #cecilthelion — were also filled with condemnation of the killing of the black-maned lion just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.The Zimbabwean men — a professional hunter and a farm owner — are accused of helping Walter James Palmer hunt the lion. Zimbabwean police said they are looking for Palmer, who reportedly paid $50,000 to track and kill the animal.During a nighttime hunt, the men tied a dead animal to their car to lure the lion out of a national park, said Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. The American is believed to have shot it with a crossbow, injuring the animal. The wounded lion was found 40 hours later, and Palmer shot it dead with a gun, Rodrigues said.Palmer, a dentist living in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie, said in a statement that he was unaware the lion was protected, relying on local guides to ensure a legal hunt.“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt,” Palmer said in statement through a public relations firm. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img Comments   Share   Top Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day The two Zimbabwean men appeared at the Hwange magistrate’s court, about 435 miles (700 kilometers) west of the capital Harare, to face poaching charges. Defense lawyer Givemore Muvhiringi says the proceedings have been delayed by several hours because prosecutors are “making their assessments.”If convicted, the men face up to 15 years in prison in Zimbabwe.The professional hunter who allegedly acted as Palmer’s guide has been stripped of his license while he faces criminal charges, the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority and the Safari Operators Association said in a joint statement. The farm owner also facing criminal charges did not have a hunting permit, the joint statement said.Palmer has several hunts on record with the Pope and Young Club, where archers register big game taken in North America for posterity, said Glenn Hisey, the club’s director of records. Hisey said he didn’t have immediate access to records showing the types and number of animals killed by Palmer, but noted that club records involve legal hunts “taken under our rules of fair chase.”According to U.S. court records, Palmer pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin. Palmer had a permit to hunt but shot the animal outside the authorized zone in 2006, then tried to pass it off as being killed elsewhere, according to court documents. He was given one year probation and fined nearly $3,000. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finisheslast_img read more

Queensland lures tourists with postcard campaign

Recent flooding has not deterred Tourism Queensland from maintaining its commitment to promoting domestic tourism in Queensland, with the launch of its nation-wide postcard campaign. The advertisement, designed for print, radio and online placement, invites key markets in Sydney and Melbourne to “come and visit us in Queensland”. “Travellers will be directed through to Tourism Queensland’s website [] for a range of holiday deals,” Tourism Queensland chief executive Anthony Hayes said. “We need to get that message out now that there is no need to cancel your Queensland holiday if you already have one booked, and if you don’t, then book one today because Queensland is ready to welcome you!” Mr Hayes added that while the state faces the difficulties of recovery, much of its attractions have been unaffected and the time to visit is now. “Unfortunately the huge amount of publicity the floods have generated created an impression that most of Queensland’s tourism regions have been affected,” Mr Hayes said. “Most are in fact fully accessible and open and of those who were directly impacted, many were open again within just a few days of floodwaters receding, while others are well on the way towards resuming normal business operation.” The tourism Queensland boss stressed that the state’s attractions, from beaches to island resorts, are ready and waiting to welcome tourists from around Australia. A flood recovery task force was recently set up by the organisation to assist the industry in flood affected areas. “Despite some of the challenges we currently face, the spirit and resilience of the Queensland tourism industry has recently shown proves why Queensland really is Where Australia Shines,” Mr Hayes said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J read more

Virgin Australia pumps business in Mackay

first_imgExpanding on its business class portfolio, Virgin Australia has announced it will offer business class seats as well as open a lounge for the Mackay market before the end of this year.As the first carrier to offer this business class service to the market since 2004, Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti said the region was “important” for the carrier and opens a gateway for other popular Australian destinations.  “We are in the process of rolling out our new Business Class product across our Boeing 737 fleet,” Mr Borghetti said. “Travellers to and from Mackay will be able to experience new levels of comfort and in-flight service before the end of 2011.”According to the head, food on board the aircraft will be prepared by chef Luke Mangan and will also include leather seating and contemporary interior design.While the first lounge in Mackay will host up to 70 guests, offer food prepared by Chef Mangan as well as service WiFi power, newspapers and premium magazines as well as Foxtel and free-to-air entertainment. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Ryanair aim to improve service

first_imgSource = ETB News: P.T. Mr Sattar made the flight change after his wife and three children died in a house fire in England. The revelations come after allegations that the Irish low-cost carrier charged mournful passenger Muhammad Taufiq Sattar AU$270 to reschedule his flight to the United Kingdom. Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has promised to improve the airline’s image and customer service tactics, following the mistreatment of a grieving passenger earlier this month. Shareholders attending the company’s annual general meeting were re-assured that the airline will enhance its website’s functionality and create a communications unit, equipped to handle customer complaints quickly, the Australian reported. Ryanair eventually refunded the money and have vowed to review their often inflexible enforcement of rules which, when violated, elicit retaliatory charges for customers. “I thought, given the circumstances, they might just let me transfer flights, as I had already paid for a return fare,” Mr Sattar told the Daily Mail. “We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off,” Mr O’Leary said. “Some of our policies are implemented with a degree of robustness that isn’t warranted… we need to improve and soften some of the harder edges in our service and in our image.”last_img read more