Libyans want answers over deadly NATO airstrikes

first_imgAt least 72 civilians, a third of them under the age of 18, were killed by NATO airstrikes, according to a report released Monday by Human Rights Watch _ one of the most extensive investigations into the issue. The New York-based advocacy group called on the Western alliance to acknowledge the casualties and compensate survivors.The decision by the United States and its NATO allies to launch an air campaign that mainly targeted regime forces and military infrastructure marked a turning point in Libya’s civil war, giving rebels a fighting chance. But Gadhafi’s government and allies in Russia and China criticized the alliance for going beyond its U.N. mandate to protect civilians.The number of Libyans killed or injured in airstrikes also emerged as a key issue in the war as Gadhafi’s regime frequently exaggerated figures and NATO refused to comment on most claims, insisting all targets were military.At one point, Libya’s Health Ministry said 856 civilians had been killed in NATO’s campaign, which began in March 2011, weeks after the uprising against Gadhafi that erupted with peaceful protests evolved into a civil war.The U.N.-appointed International Commission of Inquiry on Libya said earlier this year that at least 60 civilians had been unintentionally killed and recommended further investigation. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates The alliance did not have troops on the ground during or after the conflict who could have independently checked the results of its airstrikes.HRW recommended that NATO make public information about the intended military targets in cases where civilians were wounded or killed and provide “prompt and appropriate compensation” to families who suffered from the attacks.The strike against al-Gherari’s compound on June 19, 2011, was a rare case in which the Brussels-based alliance admitted at the time that it had made a mistake.The Libyan government rushed a group of foreign journalists based in Tripoli to the site, eager to use the deaths as propaganda against the West. Children’s toys, teacups and dust-covered mattresses could be seen amid the rubble, and journalists were shown the bodies of at least four people said to have been killed in the strike, including the two young children.Al-Gherari said government officials disappeared shortly after the fanfare ended and the family received no compensation or financial assistance from either side. Meanwhile the NATO statement, which did not provide details, failed to satisfy neighbors.“I want NATO to present a full explanation that the reason was a mistake because we’re still facing accusations that Gadhafi or a higher regime figure was there and that’s why our house was targeted,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. Check your body, save your life “I’m wondering why they did this, why just our houses,” one of the residents, Muammar al-Jarud, was quoted as saying in the report. “We’d accept it if we had tanks or military vehicles around, but we were completely civilians and you can’t just hit civilians.”___Gamel reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Slobodan Lekic contributed to this report from Brussels.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Based on field research conducted in Libya from August 2011 through this April, Human Rights Watch established that 28 men, 20 women and 24 children _ 72 civilians in all _ had been killed in eight NATO bombings in Tripoli, Zlitan, Sorman, Bani Walid, Gurdabiya and Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte.The advocacy group noted the figure was relatively low considering the extent of the seven-month campaign, which the alliance has said included 9,600 strike missions and destroyed about 5,900 military targets. It ended after Gadhafi’s death in late October.But the group said it had documented several cases in which there clearly was no military target and criticized NATO for failing to acknowledge the deaths or to examine how and why they occurred.In Brussels, NATO expressed regret for any civilian casualties but said it had carried out the bombing campaign with “unprecedented care and precision” and had fulfilled the requirements of international humanitarian law.“NATO did everything possible to minimize risks to civilians, but in a complex military campaign, that risk can never be zero,” spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Monday. “We have reviewed all the information we hold as an organization and confirmed that the specific targets struck by NATO were legitimate military targets.” Top Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019center_img Sponsored Stories He said five people were killed, including his 2-year-old nephew and a 7-month-old niece.Lungescu, the NATO spokeswoman, said the June 19 strike targeted a missile site in Tripoli but that one weapon malfunctioned and NATO was unable to determine where it landed. “A review concluded it was possible that the failed weapon may have hit the house of the al-Gherari’s family, which was not the intended target,” she said.Human Rights Watch said it visited the site in the Souk el-Juma neighborhood in August and December and “did not see any evidence of military activity such as weapons, ammunition or communications equipment.” It also said satellite imagery showed no signs of military activity at the home.The deadliest attack recorded by the rights group was in the rural village of Majer, south of the former rebel stronghold of Zlitan.The first bomb hit a large, two-story house owned by Ali Hamid Gafez, a 61-year-old farmer. It was crowded with people who had fled the fighting in nearby areas. That was followed by three more bombs, leaving a total of 34 people killed, including many who had rushed to the site to help after the earlier explosions.Human Rights Watch said it visited the area the day after the Aug. 8, 2011, strikes and found no evidence of military activity, although it did find one military-style shirt in the rubble. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   Associated PressTRIPOLI, Libya (AP) – Mohammed al-Gherari lost five family members, including a young niece and nephew, when NATO accidentally struck their compound in the Libyan capital as they slept.Nearly a year later, his grief is compounded by threats and allegations from neighbors who believe he and others who survived the attack were harboring a regime loyalist or hiding weapons for Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths 5 ways to recognize low testosteronelast_img read more

UN investigator US dodging questions on drones

first_img Comments   Share   After a two-day “interactive dialogue” with U.S. officials at the United Nations in Geneva, Heyns said he was still waiting for a satisfactory reply.“I don’t think we have the full answer to the legal framework, we certainly don’t have the answer to the accountability issues,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting.U.S. officials didn’t explicitly mention the use of drones in the debate, but a written submission to the council cited three speeches by U.S. administration officials that discussed counterterrorism operations.In one of those speeches, U.S. President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism chief John Brennan acknowledged in April that the U.S. uses remotely piloted aircraft to conduct targeted killings of suspected al-Qaida members “in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives.”Brennan said the attacks were a legal, ethical and wise way of conducting sensitive counterterror operations.But the U.S. use of armed drones has provoked anger abroad, particularly in Pakistan, where human rights groups say innocent people have been among the victims of the strikes. The American Civil Liberties Union told the U.N. rights body Wednesday that “the United States has cobbled together its own legal framework for targeted killing, with standards that are far less stringent than the law allows.”It warned that other nations might embrace the U.S.’s justification for the use of drones and also begin carrying out airstrikes on foreign territory.“My concern is that we are dealing here with a situation that creates precedents around the world,” said Heyns, the U.N. investigator.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Sponsored Stories How men can have a healthy 2019 Associated PressGENEVA (AP) – A U.N. human rights expert accused the U.S. government Wednesday of sidestepping his questions on its use of armed drones to carry out targeted killings overseas.Christof Heyns, the U.N.’s independent investigator on extrajudicial killings, had asked the United States to lay out the legal basis and accountability procedures for the use of armed drones. He also wanted the U.S. to publish figures on the number of civilians killed in drone strikes against suspected terror leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

Israeli court postpones date for outpost removal

first_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths JERUSALEM (AP) – Israel’s Supreme Court has delayed the demolition of an illegally built settler outpost in the West Bank.The court ruled Sunday that the government now has until Nov. 15 to take down the Ulpana outpost. Sunday had been the original deadline for its removal. Some 30 settler families left the enclave last week.Israel plans to relocate Ulpana’s five apartment buildings by cutting through their foundations and moving them to a nearby settlement. The government is taking down the outpost after the Supreme Court ruled it was built on private Palestinian land.West Bank settlements are a core dispute between the sides. Palestinians say they will not resume negotiations until Israel halts settlement construction. Israel says talks should resume without preconditions.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family The vital role family plays in society Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementscenter_img Sponsored Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Comments   Share   Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Australia says US has little time to save AsiaPacific deal

first_img Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Congress has only a few weeks left to pass key trade legislation that would clear the way for clinching an Asia-Pacific trade accord, Australia’s trade minister said on Wednesday.The U.S. House of Representatives last week rejected legislation crucial to U.S. involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which intends to create a region-wide free trade area, including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Trade Minister Andrew Robb would not speculate on how continuing negotiations in the House of Representatives might end.“We are literally one week of negotiation away from completing this extraordinary deal across 12 countries and 40 percent of the world’s GDP,” Robb told Australian Broadcasting Corp.“You can see the political heat’s rising by the day over there because of the presidential election next year. So I don’t think anyone can call it. But if it’s not dealt with in the next two or three weeks, I think we’ve got a real problem with the future of the TPP,” he said.Meanwhile, Australia has stepped up its strategy of locking its major trading partners into a series of country-to-country deals.Australia, which has a free trade deal with the United States, on Wednesday inked a similar deal with its biggest trading partner, China, after a decade of negotiations.Robb and Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng signed the final pact in the national capital of Canberra seven months after a preliminary agreement was struck.Australian free trade deals with South Korea and Japan took effect in December and January respectively. Australia and India hope to reach an agreement this year. Comments   Share   Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Legislation to enhance President Barack Obama’s authority to negotiate such trade deals was dealt a setback Friday, mainly by members of his own party. Obama and his legislative allies were scrambling for ways to revive that effort, although Democrats and Republicans alike said all options face serious hurdles.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

30 killed in northeast Nigeria by 2 girl suicide bombers

first_imgBAUCHI, Nigeria (AP) — Two girls blew themselves up on Monday near a crowded mosque in northeast Nigeria’s biggest city, killing about 30 people, witnesses said.It is the fourth suicide bombing this month in Maiduguri, which is the birthplace of the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group.Fishmonger Idi Idrisa said one teenager exploded as she approached the mosque crowded with people from the nearby Baga Road fish market, performing afternoon prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments   Share   The second teen appeared to run away and blew up further away, killing only herself, he said.Civilian defense fighter, Sama Ila Abu, said he counted at least 30 corpses as he helped to collect the dead.Both men said said there were many injured being sent to the hospitals.Boko Haram has kidnapped hundreds and hundreds of girls and women and the numbers of female suicide bombers has raised fears that it is using the captives in its campaign.A military bomb disposal expert has told the AP that most bombs carried by girls and women have remote detonation devices, meaning the carrier cannot control the explosion.Boko Haram has stepped up attacks since Nigeria’s new President Muhammadu Buhari announced the military command center is moving from the capital Abuja to Maiduguri in Borno State.The attacks come as Nigeria and its neighbors are preparing to strengthen a multinational army that this year drove Boko Haram out of the towns and villages where it had set up a so-called Islamic caliphate.But bombings and hit-and-run attacks have continued, along with cross-border raids.On Thursday, a group of the extremists attacked two towns in neighboring Niger, killing at least 40 people, the government said. Men’s health affects baby’s health too Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories In its first attack on Chad, suicide bombers a week ago simultaneously attacked two buildings including the national police academy in N’Djamena, the Chadian capital, killing at least 33 people.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

iTreks controversial social media campaign is dead

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> iTrek, an Australian travel insurance provider, has decided to withdraw its social media campaign, ‘Travel Agents Are Dead’ after receiving criticism from the industry.The idea of the controversial campaign was for travellers to submit a YouTube video around the theme “The Travel Agent is Dead”. AFTA Chief Executive Jayson Westbury told e-Travel Blackboard, “[The campaign] was never appropriate … I find it disgraceful that they were able to denigrate the profession in the way that they did.”Mr Westbury said that he doubts such a negative campaign would have a lasting effect on the industry. “I would have been surprised if it had much of an impact. Most regular Australian consumers would have found it repulsive.”“It was basically saying buy your insurance from us, but we don’t really care how you get there. It was ridiculous.”President and Chair of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Chris Russo said: “On behalf of our more than 10,000 members across the world, we are extremely pleased to learn that iTrek has stopped the negative campaign. “Admitting a mistake is never easy, but we all make them. We thank iTrek for a sound decision. And, we are most grateful to TravelGuard for its efforts in bringing this campaign to an end and publicly reaffirming its commitment to travel agents. Russo continued: “Travel agents are far from ‘death;’ in fact, all signs indicate a healthy industry. Today’s travel agents offer outstanding services through both personal contact and their Web sites. “Rather than shunning the Internet and progress, travel agents have embraced online technology, not only in promoting themselves and their services, but in assisting their clients in finding the best value and travel options to suit their needs.“As a result, despite the ability to book travel on their own, many people are now returning to a more traditional form of travel planning. “And the online travel agencies have added a live, call-in option where consumers can speak directly with travel agents in support of their Internet-focused businesses. Convergence of personal service and technology is the order of the day and in the end, consumers benefit across the board.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img read more

Air Pacific CEO says carrier was on the brink and no one

first_imgAfter the New York September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Air Pacific was teetering on the brink of collapse and were minutes away from shutting down the airline, it has now been revealed.John Campbell, Air Pacific outgoing CEO and MD, has spoken candidly, in an interview with local paper the Fiji Times, on his tenure at the carrier, and for the first time has revealed how after the terrorist attacks of September 11 Air Pacific wasn’t able to pay its insurance bills.“The cost and ability to obtain that literally overnight was just extraordinary. We were going to close and no one knew this,” he said to the Fiji Times.“So we were 20 minutes away from shutting the airline down when we finally got insurance cover so when we got to the [Government] Cabinet meeting, we told them ‘we were coming to tell you we were closing the airline today, but that just changed, we just got the insurance’.”After the terrorist attacks airlines had to carry at least US$1.5 billion in an insurance policy, at the last minute the airline was able to secure an insurer for the full amount.Mr Campbell will be stepping down from his position later in the year, at which time Dave Pflieger, a former Virgin America SVP, will assume the reigns. <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.Xlast_img read more

South Africa toast to wine tourism with Vindaba

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W Wine Tourism can contribute significantly to positioning South Africa as one of the world’s top 20 travel destinations according to the Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk.Described as one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative sectors of the global tourism market, Mr Van Schalkwyk believes wine tourism can contribute significantly to the South African economy.Key stakeholders in the wine and tourism industry are uniting with an exhibition called Vindaba, which will take place in September in South Africa’s Cape Town.Vindaba project manager Susannah Holz states wine and gourmet tourism is a trending travel category world-wide.However per capita spend is unevenly distributed amongst wine growing regions.  For example Napa Valley in California by example earns $188 a head whereas the Western Cape is currently earning $41 per head, Ms Holz pointed out.“This huge potential for growth must be unlocked for the greater benefit of our wine and tourism industries as well as the communities they support,” she said. Targeting local and international travel trade, Vindaba will be showcasing the best in South African wine-related tourism. Collaboration between tourism bodies and Wines of South Africa (WOSA), SA Tourism, Cape Town Tourism and the SA Wine Routes Forum together with a long-term strategy will aim at boosting wine tourism.Vindaba will be staged simultaneously with Cape Wine 2012 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and will focus on gastro-tourism through specialist seminars, provide tailor-made wine tours for the international and domestic travel to discover what the wine routes have to offer.last_img read more

Skyline Queenstown plans New Zealands first suspended viewing cube

first_imgSkyline Queenstown plans New Zealand’s first suspended viewing cubeOne of New Zealand’s most photographed views is set to become even more popular with Skyline Queenstown’s plans to build the country’s first suspended viewing cube.The tourism operator has today applied for resource consent to build the glass cube off Skyline Queenstown’s famous viewing deck, at the top of Bob’s Peak.The 1 metre-wide, 1m-deep and 2m-tall ‘cube’ will give guests the feeling of being suspended in mid-air as they look out towards the Remarkables mountain range, the Crown Range and over Lake Wakatipu to Cecil Peak, while standing directly above the Skyline Queenstown luge track.Designed in conjunction with well-known engineer Derek Chinn, of Bartlett Consulting, the project will be a significant engineering feat in order to achieve the sense of mid-air suspension with glass, Skyline Queenstown general manager Lyndon Thomas says.“The No.1 reason our guests visit Skyline Queenstown is for the incredible view and most of our guests will take a photo from the viewing deck. We want them to feel a part of the view by providing them with a unique opportunity to enjoy the natural landscape, and we believe the addition of the viewing cube will do just that,” Thomas says.“We want to create lasting memories of our guests’ trips to Skyline Queenstown and we are working hard to add value and create new products and experiences that cover a broad spectrum of our customer demographics.”The design was inspired by the ‘Step into the Void’ installation at the Aiguille du Midi in Mont Blanc. Thomas believes the Skyline Queenstown glass cube is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.The resource consent application has been lodged with Queenstown Lakes District Council. All going to plan, construction is expected to be complete by the end of the year.The viewing cube development is the latest in a string of recent additions and upgrades at Skyline Queenstown, following purpose-built mountain-bike trails, the Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar rebrand launch, Market Kitchen and a mini diggers attraction for = Skyline Queenstownlast_img read more

The Conference Company opens Sydney office to drive global business

first_imgJan TonkinThe Conference Company opens Sydney office to drive global businessNew Zealand’s biggest and most internationally connected convention and event organiser, The Conference Company, will this month open its first dedicated off-shore office in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.Managing director and president of the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) Jan Tonkin says the Castlereagh St office, headed by Asia Pacific manager Stephen Noble, was a significant investment for the company.“Face-time with clients and our industry partners is critical to the success of our business, so investing in Sydney bricks and mortar was a logical next step as we continue to develop our international connections,” Tonkin says.“We are presently experiencing a strong growth phase following the announcement of Auckland’s International Convention Centre, which has put New Zealand on the global conference map, and the investment in Australia represents a major push for new regional and international business,” she adds.The Conference Company is an accredited member of IAPCO, one of only 21 global companies in the World PCO Alliance and a member of the International Congress and Convention Association.  Tonkin is a member of the Professional Convention Management Association and recently addressed their Convening Leaders Conference in Austin, Texas.Tonkin says the Australasian market is reaping the benefits of increased investment in the sector, which relies on a multi-agency approach to secure valuable international conferences and events.“We work closely with potential hosts and industry bodies in both Australia and New Zealand because tendering for international conferences requires significant cross-party cooperation to land a successful bid in a globally competitive market,” she says.The Conference Company has been operating in Australia since 2008 and establishing a physical presence in Sydney, with its infrastructural advantages, would open up more Australian, Asia-Pacific and other international opportunities.“Logistics planning is but one part of running successful conferences,” says Tonkin. “Where The Conference Company is adding value is through intelligent development of the strategic elements including the vision, the design and the creation of the environment to achieve the client’s aims.”“It’s the soft stuff, the intangibles that require significant face-to-face dialogue, consideration and realisation,” she adds.“That’s why we need a physical permanent presence in Australia.”Source = The Conference Companylast_img read more

Adelaides first large scale incentive tourist group

first_imgThe Perfect china incentive tour to AdelaideAdelaide’s first large scale incentive tourist groupIn an announcement made simultaneously in Adelaide and Guangzhou, China, the Adelaide Convention Bureau has announced the first large scale incentive tourist group visit South Australia will take place this June.Perfect (China) Co. Ltd., a well-known Chinese company focusing on herbal health products, kitchenware and personal care products will bring up to 3,000 top sales representatives from the company to Adelaide in two groups on 17 – 20 June and 24 – 27 June. This will be the third time Perfect China has chosen Australia for such a large size incentive group and their first time to Adelaide.The Perfect China incentive tour will add $11.2m to the state’s visitor economy and create and support 110 jobs within the tourism sector. The late June timing will also provide a welcome boost to businesses in the traditionally quieter time on the tourist calendar. It is the first time a large incentive group has visited South Australia from any Asian country. Over the coming months, an itinerary for 2 groups of 1500 guests visiting Adelaide for three days and two nights each will be compiled by the Adelaide Convention Bureau working in conjunction with the Perfect China’s agent in Shanghai. The itinerary will include an amount of free time to enable the visitors to explore Adelaide at their leisure providing a fantastic opportunity for retailers and the hospitality industry.Business Tourism incorporating incentive tours and business events is a high yield segment for South Australia. In the last financial year the Adelaide Convention Bureau won business worth $210m of economic benefit for the state. It includes visitation by over 50,000 delegates and 220,900 bed nights for the city. China is Australia’s fourth biggest market for international business events expenditure and third biggest in terms of international business events arrivals. Incentive tourism, an increasingly important area of focus for the Adelaide Convention Bureau, presents a massive opportunity for South Australia and the State Governments 2020 $8b tourism target. Incentive visitor spend per day is up to 9 times that of a leisure visitor and almost double the daily average spend of a conference visitor. This tour by The Perfect China will most certainly pave the way for further incentive opportunities – not only from China but across South East Asia. QUOTE FROM DAMIEN KITTO, ADELAIDE CONVENTION BUREAU CEO“The Perfect China decision to choose Adelaide as its incentive destination demonstrates the appeal of our city to one of our most important tourism markets. To win the opportunity to host this group, we had to demonstrate that the Adelaide has a world class offering, with the capability to host a program that will inspire Perfect China delegates. With Adelaide’s rich diversity of venues, premium produce, pristine natural wonders, all under a perfect climate. We are confident through our business events expertise, that our beachside city will deliver an unforgettable event.“This outcome is a direct result of the close working relationships we have with The South Australian Tourism Commission and the City of Adelaide, and we’re looking forward to inspiring The Perfect China’s company’s top performers during their time in Adelaide.” QUOTE FROM PRESIDENT OF PERFECT CHINA AND DATO’ (DSTM) MR. SWEE LIAN WOO“We are very impressed by the attentiveness of Adelaide Convention Bureau, Tourism Australia and South Australian Tourism Commission.“Designed to recognize the extraordinary performance of our delegates, I am confident that the incentive program in Adelaide will offer a great opportunity for them to learn and communicate. Perfect China has always been advocating Civilized Travel and received many favourable comments from the destinations. We look forward to working even more closely in the coming months to create a memorable experience for our delegates, as well as a mind-broadening trip enabling cultural exchange and propagation of civilization.QUOTE FROM ANDREW HOGG, REGIONAL GENERAL MANAGER OF NORTH ASIA, TOURISM AUSTRALIA“Congratulations to Adelaide Convention Bureau in winning this bid. The 2017 Perfect China Success Trip is not only one of the largest incentive win from Greater China for Australia but also the largest ever MICE programme for Adelaide Convention Bureau. Securing this major initiative has been the result of the tremendous partnership between Adelaide Convention Bureau, Tourism Australia, South Australian Tourism Commission, local governments and various service providers.”QUOTE FROM JAY WEATHERILL, SOUTH AUSTRALIAN PREMIERIt will be fantastic to welcome 3000 Chinese visitors to South Australia in June this year as part of the Perfect China group.The State Government has invested an extra $70 million into promoting South Australia internationally and nationally, and the additional funding for our Major Events and Conferences Bid Funds has seen our visitor economy grow to a record $6.2 billion – which is up a staggering $800 million on the previous year.Chinese visitors make up 10 per cent of South Australia’s international visits, but an amazing 25 per cent of international expenditure at just over $250 million.This shows our strategy of targeting high net worth individuals is working and is great for our hotels and tourism operators across the State.Source = Adelaide Convention Bureaulast_img read more

Netizens pick Batanes as the next Cebu Pacific destination

first_imgNetizens pick Batanes as the next Cebu Pacific destinationNetizens pick Batanes as the next Cebu Pacific destinationLast November 2017, the Philippines’ largest carrier, Cebu Pacific, launched a crowdsourcing campaign via Facebook. Since then, netizens have been using the #CEBFlyMeTo hashtag to let us know where they want us to take them next.Based on feedback in our Facebook community, along with a few other requirements – airport readiness (such as meeting runway specifications), safety and security processes, and passenger facilities and operations – we have shortlisted the top 10 destinations.CEB has tallied all votes – by 25 March 2018, we will begin flying to and from Basco, Batanes daily, until October 27, 2018 – just in time for the summer travel season.“Our new flight to Basco is in keeping with our commitment to connect more of the Philippines and make air travel safe, affordable, reliable, and fun-filled for everyone. What makes this route more special is that netizens were actively engaged in the selection of our new destination – our customers were part of the process,” said Alexander Lao, Cebgo President and CEO.With the addition of this new route, the airline expects to continue promoting seamless travel around the archipelago, while allowing passengers to travel more conveniently at the lowest fares possible.Passengers can now enjoy the rustic beauty of Batanes with its arresting landscape through connecting flights from Singapore via Manila for as low as SGD231, all-in.CEB flies to 37 domestic and 25 international destinations. The carrier operates out of seven hubs in the Philippines: Manila, Clark, Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Kalibo and Iloilo. CEB has several brand-new aircraft set to be delivered over the coming months. From 2018 to 2022, CEB expects delivery of seven brand-new Airbus A321ceo, 32 Airbus A321neo, and eight ATR 72-600 aircraft.Source = Cebu Pacificlast_img read more

AFTA supports the Tourism Training Awards

first_imgAFTA supports the Tourism Training AwardsThe Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) is pleased to announce its support of Tourism Training Australia (TTA) and the 2019 Tourism Training Awards.TTA is a leading national industry training advisory association, established to develop a flexible and effective training system for the tourism and hospitality industry and AFTA enjoys a healthy and long-standing partnership with the fellow association.  AFTA’s own Chief Executive Jayson Westbury joined the TTA Board of Directors in April 2019.The TTA Teacher / Trainer of the Year Awards provide an opportunity to acknowledge, promote and encourage trainers to excel in a particular area of Vocational Education and Training and AFTA is pleased to be a sponsor of this year’s Trainer Award in the area of Travel and Tourism. “AFTA has a long standing history of supporting travel and tourism educators and we are delighted to be taking part in this prestigious awards this year,” said Jayson Westbury, AFTA Chief Executive.John Hart, Chairman of TTA said, “Tourism Training Australia welcomes the commitment from AFTA to support training and skills development in the travel sector.”The Tourism Training Awards will be celebrated on Monday 24 June at the Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney. To register to attend the Awards dinner, please visit the TTA website at = Australian Federation of Travel Agentslast_img read more

PATA announces Sri Lankan airlines as its newest aviation partner

first_imgThe Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has announced that Sri Lankan Airlines has joined PATA as its newest aviation member. Mario Hardy, CEO, PATA said, “We are extremely pleased to welcome SriLankan Airlines to the PATA family, as our newest aviation member. As a PATA member, we look forward to working with them to help build their business and brand through our extensive networks and our in-depth research and insights into the Asia Pacific region. We will also have the extra benefit of close cooperation, when we hold our PATA Annual Summit 2017 in Negombo, Sri Lanka.”According to PATA forecast, international visitor arrivals to Sri Lanka are to reach above the 2 million mark by 2019 while tourism expenditure is expected to reach US$ 8 billion.Ajith Dias, Chairman, SriLankan Airlines said, “Sri Lanka is emerging as one of the most exciting tourism and MICE destinations in Asia. Sri Lanka’s MICE industry experienced a leap forward in the last few years recording over 144,000 MICE visitors to the country in the year 2014 of which majority has emerged from the incentive travel segment. The total tourist arrivals into the country exceeded 1.5 million in 2014 from mere 500,000 in 2009. At a time when we look at attracting tourists from new markets, our membership in PATA and our role in the PATA Annual Summit 2017 will provide an ideal opportunity to share insights and look for collaborative ventures to promote MICE tourism within the region.”last_img read more

Seattle airport plans to power all flights with bio fuel

first_imgSeattle-Tacoma International Airport has commenced an ambitious plan to power “all flights by all airlines” using bio fuel.As a first step of the plan, the Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines and Boeing have joined forces to conduct a $250,000 ‘Bio fuel Infrastructure Feasibility Study’, which will calculate the costs and infrastructure necessary to deliver a blend of aviation bio fuel and conventional jet fuel to aircraft at Seattle.The partners’ long-term plan is to incorporate “significant quantities of bio fuel into the airport’s fuel infrastructure”, which is used by all 26 airlines and more than 380,000 flights annually at the U.S. hub.“This [partnership] will send a signal to airlines and bio fuel producers that Sea-Tac Airport will be ready to integrate commercial-scale use of aviation bio fuels,” said Port of Seattle’s Commissioner, John Creighton. “Bio fuel infrastructure will make Sea-Tac Airport an attractive option for any airline committing to use bio fuel, and will assist in attracting bio fuel producers to the region as part of a longer-term market development strategy.”Joe Sprague, senior vice president of communications & external relations for Alaska Airlines, said that the airline is planning to incorporate bio fuel into its flights at one or more of its hubs by 2020, with Seattle being the first choice.“Bio fuel offers the greatest way to further reduce our emissions,” said Sprague. “This study is a critical step in advancing our environmental goals and stimulating aviation bio fuel production in the Pacific Northwest.”last_img read more

Tourism Council of Bhutan launches new website

first_imgTo facilitate the tourists with easy access to information on tourism products and experiences, the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) launched its new official destination website on the World Tourism Day. This major development will help the stakeholders and visitors in knowing Bhutan in a better way. The website is designed to provide vital details to the potential visitors to Bhutan and portrays new user-friendly features. The visitors can sort out and save events and activities in their wishlist for easier reference for their future visitation to Bhutan. Subscription to emails and newsletter will now help visitors keep themselves updated with the information on the tourism industry of Bhutan.The current website is built in a user-friendly way with feedback buttons. The users can send in their feedback to improve the working or share their thoughts on Bhutan tourism on their social handles thereby creating a ripple of information dissemination. Another new improvement that has been incorporated into the new website is the inclusion of tour packages. The new features will interest the potential travellers to Bhutan and will attract new tourists to the destination, believes TCB.last_img read more

Date Expect AbilitytoRepay Rule in 2012

first_img Treasury special adviser Raj Date made headlines again after announcing Tuesday that the “”Consumer Financial Protection Bureau””: (CFPB) plans to finalize the ability-to-repay rule early next year. His remarks follow a series of other barnstorming speeches in the ramp-up for several rules.[IMAGE]””Speaking””: at the American Bankers Regulatory Symposium, Date billed the ability-to-repay rule as one that would help make the $10.4-trillion mortgage-servicing market fairer, more competitive, and transparent.””We’re in the process of carefully reviewing the comments that have been received on the proposal,”” he said before an audience in Washington, D.C. “”And we plan to issue a final rule early next year in order to provide clarity to the market as quickly as we can, without sacrificing the quality of our analysis.”” The rule, “”proposed””: by the “”Federal Reserve””: earlier this year, parted ways with the agency along with rule-making authority for 18 other consumer financial protection laws that transferred to the CFPB in July.[COLUMN_BREAK]If it goes on the books, the new rule expand a ban on loans to consumers without the financial wherewithal to pay for the loans, implementing a provision under the Dodd-Frank Act and broadening the scope of Regulation Z under the Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA).Lenders could exempt their loans from the new rule by meeting any one of four criteria. These include qualifying actual assets and income, expanding the ability to refinance the loan, or signing off on loans with balloon payments in rural areas. A fourth way to exemption includes making a so-called “”qualified mortgage,”” the definition for which is still underway for federal regulators.Pending revisions by the CFPB, lenders would need to keep record of their transactions on file for a minimum of three years. The rule would put in place prepayment penalties codified under Dodd-Frank.Date also touched on the controversial risk-retention rule and uniform form for mortgage disclosures, which continue to move forward despite a flurry of largely critical commentary from trade groups and industries.””Free markets need rules,”” he added. “”If those rules aren’t sensible or if they go unenforced, then markets don’t work well.””””Mark Calabria””:, director of financial regulation studies with the “”Cato Institute””:, calls “”a hard ability-to-pay rule… a mistake”” since “”asset-based lending has [its] place.””Speaking to _MReport_ for a past story, Calabria said he expected that the CFPB plans to “”revisit everything,”” including a swath of rules and proposals under TILA and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Fraud,Date: Expect Ability-to-Repay Rule in 2012 September 20, 2011 420 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Capital Economics Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Dodd-Frank Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Disclosures Mortgage-Backed Securities Processing Service Providers TILA Treasury Department 2011-09-20 Ryan Schuettecenter_img in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Sharelast_img read more

CommercialMultifamily Mortgage Debt Posts ThirdQuarter Gains

first_img Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies CMBS Commercial Real Estate Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Debt REIT Service Providers 2012-12-14 Krista Franks Brock December 14, 2012 446 Views in Secondary Marketcenter_img Commercial/Multifamily Mortgage Debt Posts Third-Quarter Gains For the fourth consecutive quarter, commercial/multifamily mortgage debt outstanding increased in the third quarter, according to the a “”report””: from the “”Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).””: [IMAGE]The increase was 0.3 percent over the third quarter of this year. In dollar volume, commercial/multifamily mortgage debt rose $6.6 billion over the quarter, bringing the national total to $2.38 trillion. “”Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, life insurance companies and banks are all increasing their holdings and/or guarantees of commercial and multifamily mortgages,”” said Jamie Woodwell, VP of commercial real estate research at MBA. The greatest portion of commercial and multifamily debt outstanding is currently held by banks and thrifts, which account for about 34.3 percent of total debt. [COLUMN_BREAK]Commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS), collateralized debt obligations (CDO), and other asset-backed securities (ABS) issuers hold the next-largest share, about 23.6 percent. Agency and GSE portfolios and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) claim the third-largest share–15.5 percent. By dollar amount, the greatest increase in commercial/multifamily debt in the third quarter occurred among agency and GSE portfolios and mortgage-backed securities. This sector increased its debt by $9.4 billion. As a percentage, the increase is about 2.6 percent. By percentage, real estate investment trusts (REITs) claimed the greatest increase in commercial/multifamily debt. REIT debt was up 3.5 percent over the quarter. CMBS, CDO, and other ABS issuers increased their commercial/multifamily debt by $9.5 billion, 1.7 percent. Banks and thrifts increased their debt by 0.5 percent, $4.4 billion. When multifamily mortgage debt is isolates, GSEs and MBS hold 45 percent of the nation’s outstanding debt. Banks and thrifts claim the second-largest share–28 percent. CMBS, CDO, and ABS hold 9 percent of the total multifamily debt. The remainder is dispersed between state and local governments, life insurance companies, and the federal government, which hold 8 percent, 6 percent, and 2 percent, respectively.last_img read more

California Home Sales Spike 20 in April

first_img in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Home Prices Home Sales Property Radar 2014-05-22 Colin Robins In a new report from PropertyRadar on California single-family home sales, the company found that sales were up 20 percent in April from March. However, sales fell on a yearly basis for the month, declining 13.3 percent. Despite the gains in April, year-to-date sales volume is the lowest it has been since 2008.In April 2014, distressed property sales jumped 13.1 percent month-over-month, while non-distressed properties saw an increase of 21.8 percent.”Despite back-to-back double digit sales gains in both March and April, total sales volume since January continues to lag sales in 2013,” said Madeline Schnapp, director of Economic Research for PropertyRadar. “In fact, what is surprising to me is that year-to-date sales volumes in 2014 are the lowest since 2008.”Median home prices still remain strong, up 2.0 percent for the month to $369,000—the highest level in six years. Yearly, home prices have increased 14.1 percent. The company opined that driving the large increase in prices was higher priced, non-distressed property sales.”Despite lower sales volume, the median price of a California home continues to march higher,” Schnapp said. “The rise in median home prices is being driven by the change in mix between the sales of distressed properties versus sales of non-distressed properties. Higher priced non-distressed property sales now dominate monthly sales numbers, so it should come as no surprise that median prices are up.”The company also reported that nearly 1.2 million homeowners, or 13.5 percent, remain underwater. Institutional investor purchases jumped 7 percent for the month, but are down 36.9 percent year-over-year.”Foreclosure sales gained 2.9 percent in April from March but are down 32.4 percent year-over-year.  The April gain is statistically insignificant, likely due to the extra weekday in April compared to March,” the company said.Foreclosure inventories continue to dwindle, down 1.1 percent for the month and down 17.6 percent for the year, according to PropertyRadar. May 22, 2014 492 Views center_img California Home Sales Spike 20% in April Sharelast_img read more

Banking Industry Begins Preparation for Higher Credit Costs

first_img in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Origination, Secondary Market Banking Industry Begins Preparation for Higher Credit Costs March 15, 2016 515 Views Sharecenter_img Banking Industry Credit Costs Kroll Bond Rating Agency 2016-03-15 Staff Writer The U.S. banking industry’s period of recovery and release have come to a close and significantly higher credit costs lie ahead which will indeed affect these institutions’ first quarter earnings.Fourth quarter 2015 data from the banking industry showed that the Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) was right about their previous predictions that the period of recovery and reserve releases ended for U.S. banks last year.As banks enter the first quarter of 2016, the agency says that the industry is entering a more normal period of building loan reserve levels for future losses, which suggests that significantly higher credit costs lie ahead.”The era of virtuous performance of bank credit exposures almost perfectly coincides with the period of credit spread compression engineered by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), begging the question as to whether we now face a sustained period of rising bank credit costs,” KBRA stated. “Provisions for loan losses exceeded charge-offs for the first time in six years at the end of 2015. KBRA expects to see continued increases in charge-offs and bank loan loss provisions as the year unfolds.”According to the agency, the real estate industry may see increased incidence of charge-offs and non-current loans, but overall loan performance is projected to do well at banks. “It may be inevitable for bank credit costs to rise in the wake of the end of QE, but we do not expect that these increased credit costs will translate into lower credit ratings for banks in our coverage universe regardless of size,” the report stated.KBRA noted that loans secured by real estate of all asset types increased by 4.9 percent in Q4 2015, with construction and development lending leading these gains. The report noted, “real estate credit conditions have been strong over the past few years, but face headwinds. In this regard, it is important for investors to understand that the performance of bank portfolios and similar asset-backed securities (ABS) asset classes are quite disparate and can even show negative correlations through the credit cycle.”Click here to view the full report.last_img read more