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Soldiers fighting Congo rebels live in squalor

first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments   Share   Congo’s mineral-rich east has been wracked by fighting since April, when army deserters calling themselves the M23 Movement launched a rebellion to demand better pay, better armaments and amnesty from war crimes. The fighting, the worst in years, has forced some 280,000 people from their homes.Last month, M23 rebels seized the army camp at Rumangabo, the biggest in eastern Congo, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Goma. They point to it as an example of the miserable conditions the regular army faces. Without electricity, running water or even basics like blankets, the rebels refuse to stay in its filthy barracks and are lodged in a nearby hotel.“The conditions are unbelievable, aren’t they?” said rebel spokesman Col. Vianney Kazarama as he took The Associated Press on a tour this week. “Animals are treated better than this.”Three blackened stones and some charcoal in a corner of a dormitory were the only source of heat against the cold in a mountain region where nighttime temperatures drop below freezing. Windows were covered with cardboard and plastic; a stone fire on an outside verandah was used for cooking.Bathing facilities consisted of makeshift enclosures of bamboo branches covered in plastic. Bundles of filthy clothing, an abandoned helmet, a worn black boot and a tin plate littered the barracks floor. Associated PressRUMANGABO, Congo (AP) – The nest of straw, like something an animal sleeps on, was a Congolese army soldier’s bed before rebels seized this military camp. Broken windows were stuffed with grass and the only protection from the frigid night air was a handful of charcoal.The squalid conditions help explain why thousands of government soldiers are on the run from a few hundred rebels _ and have little incentive to fight. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Top Stories “Continuous armed group integration has created feelings of unpredictability and unfairness within the ranks,” analyst Jason Stearns noted in his Congo Siasa blog this week.“Who would want to risk their lives for an enemy that might very well be welcomed back again into the army, perhaps in an even more privileged position than before?”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) The M23 rebels are remnants of back-to-back civil wars that drew in the armies of a half-dozen nations in a scramble for Congo’s vast mineral resources, and killed as many as 5 million people. An internationally negotiated peace deal was signed in 2002, but the conflict persisted in eastern Congo, where foreign and local militias continue to fight for control of the lucrative mines and to terrorize the population.Since the civil wars of the 1990s, Congo’s army has been a mixture of former enemies expected to fight together. Dozens of local militias, mainly tribally based, are welcomed into the army once they surrender.At the Rumangabo camp, a collection of gabled white buildings topped by red iron roofs built during the Belgian colonial era, a sign at the entrance is a reminder of that legacy: It describes it as a center for army integration and retraining. “Unity creates might,” is the motto inscribed on one wall.Rebels like those who launched the latest rebellion, were among those integrated into the army in unsuccessful exercises that have left it with parallel chains of command. And those who desert and return are often better rewarded with rank and monetary incentives than soldiers who remain loyal. Top holiday drink recipes More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Quick workouts for men Sponsored Stories There were pathetic attempts at privacy: a curtain of twigs and netting, a crude door made of mud bricks. A woman’s cloth wrap and a child’s plastic sandals were signs that wives and children lived in the barracks with the troops.Congo’s 150,000-man army is poorly armed, infrequently paid and badly provisioned with food or other basics. Deserters from Rumangabo told the AP that soldiers did not even have a gun each; among the things abandoned at the camp were home-made batons fashioned from D-sized batteries, lashed together with banana leaves.An overgrown vegetable garden of corn, potatoes and cassava indicated the soldiers tried to grow their own food at the camp, which housed 1,000 troops before it was seized.Ordinary soldiers are supposed to be paid $60 a month, but by the time higher-ranking officers skim off a share, a trooper gets only about $5 a month _ and that is when the payroll is met, according to Congolese military officers who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being reprimanded.That helps explain why Congo’s soldiers are accused of more looting than any of the foreign rebel and local militia groups they fight in eastern Congo.And why soldiers have joined other armed groups in illegal mining in Congo _ ventures that help fuel the cycle of violence and have made multimillionaires out of rebel leaders like renegade Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The U.N. has identified Ntaganda as the leader of the latest rebellion, though the rebels deny this.last_img read more

Supreme Court to hear Texas Senate districts case

first_img How men can have a healthy 2019 ErrorOK ErrorOK But those challenging that system argue that it violates the constitutional requirement of one person, one vote. They claim that taking account of total population can lead to vast differences in the number of voters in particular districts, along with corresponding differences in the power of those voters.A ruling for the challengers would shift more power to rural areas and away from urban districts in which there are large populations of immigrants who are not eligible to vote because they are children or not citizens. Latinos have been the fasting growing segment of Texas’ population and Latino children, in particular, have outpaced those of other groups, according to census data.“And because urban areas are more Democratic, the ruling could help Republicans,” said Richard Hasen, an expert on election law at the University of California-Irvine law school.The Project on Fair Representation is funding the lawsuit filed by two Texas residents. The group opposes racial and ethnic classifications and has been behind Supreme Court challenges to affirmative action and the federal Voting Rights Act.The court’s 1964 ruling in Reynolds v. Sims established the one person, one vote principle and means that a state’s legislative districts must have roughly the same number of people. But the court has never determined whether the state must count everyone or just eligible voters — or have some leeway to choose. The case, Evenwel v. Abbott, 14-940, will be argued in the fall.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Top Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear an important case about whether states must count only those who are eligible to vote, rather than the total population, when drawing electoral districts for their legislatures.The case from Texas could be significant for states with large immigrant populations, including Latinos who are children or not citizens. The state bases its electoral districts on a count of the total population, including non-citizens and those who aren’t old enough to vote. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top holiday drink recipes The case brought by Texas residents Sue Evenwel and Edwared Pfenniger highlights a mainly rural district northeast of Houston that has 584,000 eligible voters, while a neighboring urban district has 372,000 eligible voters.The result is that voters in the urban district have more sway than their rural counterparts, said Edward Blum, president of the Project on Fair Representation. Several conservative groups also are supporting the Supreme Court challenge.Then-Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, signed the redistricting plan into law. The state urged the justices to reject the case because “multiple precedents from this court confirm that total population is a permissible” way to draw districts.“It is ironic that you have conservatives going up against the state of Texas seeking to get the Supreme Court to take away more discretion from the states,” Hasen said.Back in 2001, Justice Clarence Thomas urged his colleagues to settle the issue. Thomas issued a rare dissent when the court chose not to hear a case from Houston. “We have never determined the relevant ‘population’ that states and localities must equally distribute among their districts,” Thomas wrote.last_img read more

Haitis capital gets 1st movie theater in years

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall “I’m not sure I can afford to take my daughters when the movies start, but it’s nice they are opening this theater and fixing up the Champ de Mars,” she said.___Associated Press writer David McFadden in Kingston, Jamaica, contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories President Michel Martelly inaugurated the revamped theater Friday along with dignitaries and dozens of local artists. Authorities say it won’t actually start showing films to the general public for about another month, once arrangements for a parking garage are completed.Port-au-Prince had roughly 30 cinemas in the 1970s. But over the years they all closed amid political turmoil and rampant bootlegging of movies with pirated DVDs and videotapes.The last movie theater to operate in Port-au-Prince was the Imperial Cinema, which closed shortly before the January 2010 quake that devastated much of the capital and surrounding areas.Musician, producer and playwright Jean Jean-Pierre said Monday that the Triomphe’s reopening by the Champ de Mars plaza in downtown Port-au-Prince is “very exciting.” It’s the city’s main public square and major work has been done to rehabilitate it, including the recent completion of an open-air amphitheater.“The idea is to create confidence so that people will come back to the Champ de Mars for regular cultural events,” said Pierre, a member of Haiti’s council of the performing arts.On a recent morning, dried food vendor Lisette Issonne gazed up at the Triomphe as she strolled across the bustling square with her two daughters. Quick workouts for men PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The first movie theater to operate in the Haitian capital in years has opened its doors off a renovated downtown square, a welcome sign of revival in a city shattered by an earthquake more than five years ago.The Triomphe theater had been closed since 1988, but was rehabilitated with more than 700 plush seats, a digital sound system and two screens. The Port-au-Prince cinema with a glass facade also boasts conference rooms and a hall for concerts, plays and other cultural performances. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitylast_img read more

Thailand condemned for repatriation of 109 Uighurs to China

first_img Sponsored Stories Top Stories “The extradition is a dirty political deal between the Thai and Chinese authorities,” spokesman Dilxat Raxit said in a statement.The repatriation echoed a December 2009 incident when Cambodia deported 20 asylum-seeking Uighurs to China over the protests of the U.N., which rushed people to the airport in an attempt to physically prevent their expulsion.___Associated Press writers Didi Tang in Beijing, Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand faced a blizzard of international criticism Thursday, and its consulate in Istanbul was ransacked, after it deported 109 ethnic Uighur refugees to China despite fears that they would face persecution there.The U.N. refugee agency called Thailand’s action “a flagrant violation of international law.” The United States also condemned the deportations, and voiced deep concern about protection of asylum-seekers in Thailand. Amnesty International said that the Muslim Uighurs could face detention or torture in China. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Comments   Share   “I’m asking if we don’t do it this way, then how would we do it?” he said. “Or do you want us to keep them for ages until they have children for three generations?”The Uighurs had been in Thailand for over a year, along with others who had fled China and claimed to be Turkish, the spokesman, Verachon, said. Thai authorities sought to verify their nationalities before relocating them, he said.“We found that about 170 of them were Turkish, so they were recently sent to Turkey,” he said. “And about 100 were Chinese, so they were sent to China as of this morning, under the agreement that their safety is guaranteed according to humanitarian principles.” He denied reports from Uighur activists that the refugees resisted deportation and some had been hurt.Two witnesses who saw the Uighurs being led into trucks to be driven to Bangkok’s military airport said the men were handcuffed and some of women were crying and shouted, “Help us! Don’t allow them to send us back to China.”Bilal Degirmenci and a colleague from the Turkish humanitarian group Cansuyu said they were forced by police to delete photos and video they had taken of the Uighurs, and were threatened with punishment if any were published or posted on the Internet. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority in China’s far western Xinjiang region. The group has complained of harsh cultural and religious suppression as well as economic marginalization under Chinese rule.China’s position is that the Uighurs left the country illegally. Beijing has accused Uighur separatists of terrorism in Xinjiang, where ethnic violence has left hundreds of people dead over the past two years.“China’s relevant departments will bring those who are suspected of committing serious crimes to justice according to law,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua told reporters. “As for those who are not suspected of committing crimes or who commit lesser offences, we will find proper ways to deal with them.”In Turkey, which agreed to take in the other 170 refugees despite China’s objections, mostly Uighur protesters vandalized the Thai Consulate in Istanbul. The office was closed on Thursday.Police allowed about 100 protesters to pray outside the consulate before taking nine of them away for questioning.The Thai Embassy issued a statement urging its nationals in Turkey to be on alert.The World Uyghur Congress, a German-based advocacy group, said those repatriated could face criminal charges and harsh punishment, possibly execution, under China’s opaque legal system — the reasons they fled China in the first place. Men’s health affects baby’s health too Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Protesters in Turkey, which has cultural ties to the Uighurs and accepted an earlier group of Uighur refugees from Thailand, ransacked the Thai Consulate in Istanbul overnight. Police in the capital, Ankara, used pepper spray to push back Uighur protesters who tried to break through a barricade outside the Chinese Embassy.Turkey’s Foreign Ministry condemned Thailand, saying the deportation came despite “numerous initiatives” by Turkey to prevent the Uighurs’ repatriation. The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said it was “shocked,” having been given assurances by Thailand that the group would continue to receive protection.Thai deputy government spokesman Maj. Gen. Verachon Sukhonthapatipak said Thailand had assurances from Chinese authorities about the safety of the Uighurs. However, in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China would take action against those suspected of breaking the law.Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said that as a third country, the matter was not Thailand’s problem, and that the place they were sent to — he did not name China — would take care of it according to its justice system. The vital role family plays in societylast_img read more

Iraq begins operation to oust Islamic State group from Anbar

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Meanwhile Monday, the IS group claimed responsibility for Sunday’s series of bombings in Shiite areas of the capital, Baghdad, that killed at least 29 people and wounded 81 others, according to the IS-affiliated Aamaq news agency.Iraq is going through its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops. The Islamic State group controls large swaths of the country’s north and west after capturing Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul and the majority of Anbar province.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories BAGHDAD (AP) — The Iraqi government began on Monday a long-awaited large-scale military operation to dislodge Islamic State militants from Iraq’s western Anbar province, a military spokesman announced.The spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, said in a televised statement that the operation started at dawn Monday and that government forces are backed by Shiite and Sunni pro-government fighters. Rasool didn’t clarify whether the U.S.-led international coalition is taking part. Sponsored Stories This is not the first time the Iraqi government has announced an operation to retake Anbar — where several key towns, including the provincial capital Ramadi, remain under IS control. In May, authorities announced an operation to retake Ramadi, but there has not been any major progress on the ground since then.The Islamic State group, also known by the Arabic acronym Daesh, seized large parts of Anbar in early 2014 and captured Ramadi in May. Iraqi forces, which had been making steady progress against the extremists in recent months with the help of the air campaign, scored a major victory in recapturing Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit last month.In a brief statement, Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, vowed to “take revenge from Daesh criminals on the battlefield… and their cowardly crimes against unarmed civilians will only increase our determination to chase them and to expel them from the land of Iraq.”During the past few weeks, the troops have been moving to cut the militants’ supply routes and to surround and isolate Ramadi and Fallujah.Rasool didn’t provide any further details on the ongoing operations. By noon, the country’s state TV reported government forces recapturing villages and areas around Fallujah. 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Check your body, save your life How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img read more

Virgin Atlantic accuses Jet Airways of stealing seat design

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X Virgin Atlantic Seat Jet Airways Seatcenter_img Virgin Atlantic is reportedly pursuing Jet Airways in both India and the United Kingdom for the infringement of its patented Upper Class seats in a configuration it calls “herringbone”.Virgin Atlantic last year pursued design firm Contour, with whom it had developed the seats, for selling the design to rival airlines; and now it appears that it will also pursue one of the airlines – namely Jet Airways, India’s LiveMint reports.Virgin Atlantic says their innovative Upper Class seats, which face diagonally instead of towards the front, have now been sold onwards to the likes of British Airways, Delta Air Lines and Cathay Pacific.“We are currently pursuing Jet in the UK courts for jointly developing a seat with manufacturer Contour, which infringes Virgin Atlantic’s patent,” said a spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic to LiveMint.Developed and launched in 2007, Jet Airways has argued that the design has since been in the public domain for so long it no longer falls under the patent.last_img read more

A Finalist … On The World Stage

first_imgWhile it’s great to be recognized I must say that the bar we have set ourselves is very high and we still have a long way to go”!DriveAway Holidays has announced today that they are a finalist in the Australasian division of the World Travel Awards, in the car rental category. The World Travel Awards serves to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the global travel and tourism industry.”Chris Hamill, Driveaway’s Chief Executive of Sales and Marketing says that “theDriveAway team is ecstatic to be nominated. “Over the last year we have worked veryhard to improve our service levels across all levels of the company”. While it’s great tobe recognized and we appreciate and thank our supporters for the nomination, I mustsay that the bar we have set ourselves is very high and we still have a long way to go”!This years star studded Australasian Gala Ceremony will be held on 14 October at the Claridges Surajkund, located in Delhi, India.For more information on the World Travel Awards go to Source = DriveAway Holidayslast_img read more

Politics clear out Tunisia tourism

first_imgRecent political revolution in Tunisia has cleared out tourism, leaving the village’s attractions and beaches empty of visitors. Despite the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ resulting in the departure of then President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011 the popular European holiday destination is deserted, resulting in the closure of museums and souvenir shops, Global Post reported. Earlier this year credit rating agency Fitch slashed its growth prediction for the village in 2011 to two percent from five percent and noted its concern as the country’s 400,000 citizens working in the tourism industry. In a bid to attract visitors the government launched an ‘I love Tunisia, the place to be… now!’ campaign, which has been supported by decreased prices by tour operators. According to the source, tourism contributed to up to six percent of Tunisia’s domestic gross product and earned $2.5 billion for the economy in 2010. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Aus tax a punishment to NZ TTF

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J A departure tax increase for Kiwi travellers has been rejected by the Australian tourism industry and described as ‘unfair’ to our biggest travel market.Announced this month in the yearly budget and effective from 1 July this year, the Australian Government said it would increase the departure tax on New Zealanders visiting Australia from $47 to $55 per person.Local industry voice, Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive John Lee said the increase was unjustifiable and would “disproportionately” impact tourism from “our nearest neighbour”, New Zealand.With up to 1.2 million Kiwis travelling into Australia annually, Mr Lee said a family of four travelling from NZ would be expected to pay up to $280 just to return home, a cost he said will have a negative impact on tourism across the Tasman.“While we have long-standing rivalries in many areas, in this case we should be working together to grow the tourism industries on both sides of the Tasman instead of punishing the Kiwis who travel to Australia every year,” he explained.“Indeed TTF, in partnership with New Zealand’s Tourism Industry Association, has been pushing for streamlined  border  processing  between  Australia  and  New  Zealand,  with  Anzac  Express  Paths  at both  ends  and  ‘mates  rates’  to  halve  the  PMC  for  Kiwis,  with  a  common  border  as  the  ideal outcome. “We  don’t  believe  visitors  to  Australia  should  prop  up  government  revenues  when  they  already make a massive contribution to the Australian economy, spending billions of dollars every year and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs across Australia.”  The TTF is not the only Group determined to have the increased tax turned over, with New Zealand’s industry leaders urging the country’s Prime Minister to lobby against the rise. Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) spokesperson said yesterday the Group had lobbied to the country’s leader to discuss the tax with his Australian counterpart.last_img read more

ACTE CAPA join forces

first_imgACTE Corporate Travel Education Conference, December 2014, Sydney. Source = ETB News: Emma Huynh CAPA Corporate Travel Summit, 6 August 2014, Sydney. “ACTE is dedicated to the advancement of our Corporate Travel & Meetings and Events Community and we do this by genuinely investing in its professional development, strengthening peer networks, addressing challenges & highlighting progressive innovation,” ACTE Regional Director, Andrew Kelly said. The event will be held for the Summit on 6 August with guest speakers including Flight Centre Limited managing director, Graham Turner. “Our partnership with ACTE leverages our complementary strengths – ACTE in the corporate travel market, and CAPA in aviation – the biggest component of corporate travel spend, and we look forward to developing two very high quality events that will benefit our industry with unparalleled content and networking opportunities,” CAPA Executive Chairman, Peter Harbison said. The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) in Australia and New Zealand and the Australia-based CAPA, Centre for Aviation, have joined forces which will see the two collaborate in the ‘must-attend’ educational and networking event this year:last_img read more

One for the Ladies

first_img learn more about here Source = One for the LadiesIs the travel industry doing enough for the ladies?I consider myself tuned in to the issues that matter. Then something changes, you ask a question and rather than answers there are many, many more questions.Let me explain.I’m incredibly lucky to have a gorgeous daughter, Jess, who is eight years old and turning 17 later this year.I saw her draw her first breath, I read the bedtime stories every second night . I take her dancing and to Auskick. I am firm but fair, I hug her loads, in reflection I’m probably too strict , I try to open her eyes to the world and barely tolerate Barbies .  She comes to watch me teach and train at karate and meets some wonderful teenage girls as role models. Maybe she will do karate one day herself.But the world around her is getting complex quickly and all of the informal advice in the world wasn’t going to be quite enough for me to get where she is at.I started reading “Thriving” by Michael Grose which led me signing up to a 12 week interactive online course about raising girls. A powerful line included“More and more research is confirming that a female’s sense of worth as a woman, is commonly rooted in her experience with her father.”I got into the pre-reading and experienced that sinking feeling of understanding I may have very little understanding. I get a sense that many guys just don’t comprehend the complex differences between growing up between a boy and a girl. For many they haven’t created the learning opportunities to do so.Enter jigsaw piece number two.I wrote a tongue in cheek article about spotting fake news. One of the lines was that it’s fake news if“….any glossy mag focusing on Jennifer Aniston and her desire to have babies….…”.Lo and behold a Facebook friend from the travel industry shared this link which clarifies that glossy mags are just full of utter fabricated crap.The article by Jennifer Aniston herself included“The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty.”Something like 80% or 90% of this glossy rubbish is consumed by women. So can women expect guys to do the “right thing” if it seems that the ladies are keeping these shite publications in action?What will coverage if the NTIA’s be like this year?  Will it focus on what hot looking chick wore what?  I don’t think so, but it may be scrutinized heavily if it is.The puzzle was nearly complete.Over Sunday breakfast I learnt how Tracy Spicer was sacked for not being hot enough post baby.  Pretty. Bloody. Horrific. The sort of thing that if it occurred to my wife/daughter would stir all of those primal feelings associated with some other blokes head and a rock.So I reflected; is the “travel industry” doing enough for women? Are we getting it right? Are we getting it badly wrong? What does getting it right and wrong in the industry actually mean? What is “the industry?”As a bloke, do I have the right to critique the answer?Why should I care?Jessica Frances Luckey, age 8, turning 17, that’s why.A note to the reader.  I have already polled some ladies in the industry but if you would like to provide some feedback, please mail a max 100 word answer to these 2 questions to , indicating if you would rather be anonymous:1.       Is “the travel industry” doing enough for women / getting it right for women?2.       Are the women of the travel industry doing enough for the women of the travel industry?last_img read more

New Mayor attends opening of Ramada VetroBlu Scarborough Beach

first_imgSource = Wyndham Hotel Group New Mayor attends opening of Ramada VetroBlu Scarborough BeachNew Mayor attends opening of Ramada VetroBlu Scarborough BeachRamada VetroBlu Scarborough Beach, a new $51 million 52-room hotel in Perth, celebrated its opening on Thursday night. The new City of Stirling Mayor, Councillor Mark Irwin attended the event heralding the arrival of the stylish and contemporary Ramada brand to Scarborough Beach.The new-build hotel, which is managed by VetroBlu Management, was developed by Eurowide and branded Ramada under a franchise agreement with Wyndham Hotel Group. Mayor Irwin said the opening of Ramada Scarborough Beach, which coincided with the filling of Scarborough’s new beachside pool, is a vote of confidence in the revitalisation of the city. “It is encouraging to see so much interest in Scarborough and the addition of this new hotel will certainly aid the city in attracting more interstate and international tourists to Scarborough Beach,” Mayor Irwin said.The $100 million Scarborough revitalisation project, which is being delivered by the state government and the local council, is nearing completion and includes the new 50-metre swimming pool at Scarborough Beach, playground upgrades and more cafe and dining options.Wyndham Hotel Group’s South Pacific Director of Development, Matt Holmes, said the transformation would have a long-term positive impact on visitor numbers. “The addition of Ramada Scarborough Beach will play a key role in further elevating Scarborough’s profile and appeal as a key leisure and business destination,” Mr Holmes said. Located on the corner of Scarborough Beach Road and Filburn Street, Ramada Scarborough Beach takes pride of place just 100 metres from the beach and promenade.The hotel boasts a stylish mix of short and long-stay accommodation, with studio, one and two, three-bedroom apartments, as well as four three-bedroom penthouses and one four-bedroom penthouse. Apartments located on the southern and western sides enjoy breathtaking sunsets, while penthouse apartments offer sweeping views of the Western Australian shoreline.Ramada Scarborough is the second Ramada branded hotel for Perth and the fourth for Western Australia, joining sister properties Ramada Perth, The Outram in West Perth; Ramada Resort Dunsborough and Ramada Eco Beach Resort, Broome. To celebrate the official opening, Ramada Scarborough Beach is offering a Scarborough Summer Special rate including 20 percent off for stays of 3 nights or more with free parking. Visit for bookings or call +61 8 6248 7000 for bookings and further details.last_img read more

Save big with Mantra Hotels sale of the year

first_imgSave big with Mantra Hotels’ sale of the yearSave big with Mantra Hotels’ sale of the yearMantra Hotels’ biggest sale of the year starts on Monday 13 November, offering a range of great-value accommodation deals at more than 120 Peppers, Mantra and BreakFree hotels and resorts across Australia, New Zealand, Bali and Hawaii.The sale gives travellers the opportunity to save big on a wide variety beach escapes, city breaks and Hawaiian getaways with rates from just $109* per room per night on offer from 13 to 19 November.To book any of the below deals, visit or call 1300 987 603. Don’t delay – the sale is for seven days only!QueenslandPort Douglas: Discover the magic of Port Douglas with a stay at the popular Mantra PortSea. Offering spacious accommodation, a swim-up pool bar and a range of leisure families, the resort is perfect for couples and families alike. Stay from $109* per night in a Hotel Room (minimum two night stay – total cost $218*). Valid for travel until 22 June, 2018.Sunshine Coast: BreakFree Alexandra Beach is the perfect place to unwind by a tropical lagoon pool or take a dip in the ocean, with a patrolled surf beach located directly opposite the resort. One Bedroom Pool View Apartments start from $115* per night (Sunday to Thursday) (minimum three night stay – total cost $345*). Valid for travel until 14 September, 2018.Gold Coast: Enjoy the sun, surf and sand of the Gold Coast by staying at Mantra Legends Hotel in the heart of Surfers Paradise. Stay in a Hotel Deluxe Twin Room from $109* per night (Sunday to Thursday) (minimum two night stay – total cost $218*). This deal includes a two-for-one seafood buffet dinner voucher (valid at the hotel’s Fables Restaurant) and a 20% off beverage voucher. Valid for travel until 14 September, 2018.New South WalesKingscliff: Cool off and kick back in the sensational nearby surf and facilities of Peppers Salt Resort & Spa. This is Kingscliff accommodation at its very best. Stay in a Hotel Room from $159* per night (Sunday to Thursday) (minimum two night stay – total cost $318*). This deal includes full buffet breakfast for two (plus kids under 12 eat breakfast free**), a 25% off Season restaurant dining voucher, Wi-Fi and in-room movies. Valid for travel from 29 January to 28 June, 2018.Sydney: The new Mantra Hotel at Sydney Airport offers travellers contemporary and stylish accommodation within a short stroll of their Sydney Airport domestic departure gate. Stay in a Studio King Room from $149* per night including 1GB of Wi-Fi daily and a 12pm late check-out. Valid for travel from 15 December, 2017 to 14 September, 2018.Australian Capital TerritoryCanberra: At Peppers Gallery Hotel, guests will be delighted to find a building steeped in history located in the New Acton precinct. Make the most of all this cultural city has to offer with rates from $119* per night in a Deluxe Room (Thursday to Monday). This offer also includes 1GB of Wi-Fi daily and a 12pm late check-out. Valid for travel from 14 December, 2017 to 30 June, 2018.VictoriaMelbourne: Enjoy a city escape at Mantra on Jolimont located in the heart of Melbourne’s sport and entertainment precinct. Stay in a One Bedroom King Room from $109* per night (Sunday to Thursday). Valid for travel from 19 December, 2017 to 18 March, 2018.TasmaniaTamar Valley: Enjoy the seaside views of Tamar Valley at Peppers York Cove and experience one of Tasmania’s most sought after tourist destinations. Deluxe Hotel Rooms start from $119* per night. Valid for travel until 14 September, 2018.South AustraliaAdelaide: Located in Adelaide’s thriving West End, the heart of the city’s thriving arts, dining and entertainment precincts, BreakFree Adelaide has Studio Rooms from $109* per night including a bottle of wine on arrival, Wi-Fi and a 12pm late check-out. Valid for travel until 28 January, 2018.Western AustraliaPerth: Mantra on Hay provides a comfortable experience and a perfect retreat when exploring the Perth CBD. Stay in a spacious One Bedroom Apartment from $139* per night. Valid for travel until 14 September, 2018.Northern TerritoryDarwin: Mantra Pandanas is just minutes from the Smith Street Mall and offers fantastic views over Darwin Harbour and the city. Stay in a Hotel Room City View from $129* per night. Valid for travel until 30 April, 2018.New ZealandChristchurch: Slow down after a busy day and enjoy all that BreakFree on Cashel has to offer, centrally located within the Christchurch culture hub. Stay in a City Urban Double Room from NZ$76* per night, plus kids eat free**. Valid for travel from 19 November, 2017 until 14 September, 2018.BaliSeminyak: Escape to tropical Balinese paradise with a stay at Peppers Seminyak. Relax in a luxurious Three Bedroom Pool Villa from US$94* per person per night (minimum six people, minimum three night stay – total cost US$1,686*). Valid for travel until 31 May, 2018.HawaiiHonolulu: Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra is the perfect location to relax alongside Ala Moana Beach Park and shop-till-you-drop at the neighbouring Ala Moana Shopping Centre, the world’s largest open-air shopping mall. Stay in a City Mountain View Room, Kona Tower from US$140* per night. Valid for travel until 14 September, 2018.About Mantra HotelsLeading hotel and resort operator, Mantra Group, has united the Group’s 129 properties across Australia, New Zealand, Bali and Hawaii, consolidating its multi-branded portfolio into a new single consumer brand, known simply as Mantra Hotels. Mantra Hotels represents the Group’s three brands – Peppers, which offers distinctive stays in outstanding settings; Mantra, which combines convenient locations with stylish comfort; and BreakFree, renowned for providing a relaxed ambience at family-friendly prices – with all properties now featured on one all-inclusive website, The Group’s loyalty program, Mantra+, is also conveniently located on the new website for guests to receive more offers, more value, and more ways to discover their kind of wonderful.*Conditions apply, subject to availability. Valid for sale from 13 to 19 November, 2017. Block-out dates may apply.**Conditions apply. Kids under 12 eat free per accompanying adult at Peppers Salt Resort & Spa (applies to max. two children). Children under 12 eat free with a full paying adult during breakfast, lunch or dinner at BreakFree on Cashel (max one child per adult).Source = Mantra Hotelslast_img read more

Accor Grows Luxury Presence in The Americas

first_imgAccor Grows Luxury Presence in The AmericasAccor Grows Luxury Presence in The AmericasAccor announced the continued expansion of its luxury portfolio in the North and Central American region with the introduction of the vibrant and playful SO/ Hotels & Resorts luxury brand in Los Cabos, Mexico. Slated to open at the end of 2021, SO/ Los Cabos Hotel & Residences will be an exciting, fashionable and luxurious new beachfront hotel and residential address located on the renowned Baja California Peninsula on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.The first SO/ property in Mexico, and the second in the region, the avant-garde hotel & residences will boast stylish interiors and décor combined with exceptionable signature services, lively social events, entertainment and unique experiences in a prime setting on the outskirts of San Jose del Cabo, an area well known for dramatic desert scenery and majestic ocean views.“We are proud to expand SO/ Hotels & Resorts in our region and bring our unconventional and exclusive luxury lifestyle brand to Mexico,” said Chris Cahill, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Accor. “SO/ Los Cabos Hotel & Residences will introduce an incredibly bold and exhilarating energy to the Baja California Peninsula, blending the brand’s audacious luxury and services with the heart and soul of the destination. The property will most certainly become an exciting addition to Los Cabos, appealing to chic international luxury travelers and stylish locals.”Daring design is at the heart of the brand, and like all other SO/ properties around the world, SO/ Los Cabos Hotel & Residences will be brought to life by a celebrated fashion designer that will lend their artistic vision to the property. Ideally situated on 7.5 acres of pristine beachfront, the property will be a glamorous and vibrant sanctuary comprised of 200 chic hotel guest rooms and 36 luxury residences with sweeping beach and ocean vistas.SO/ Los Cabos Hotel & Residences will offer an impressive rooftop experience, including two modern restaurants that will serve innovative Mexican gastronomy; a trendy lounge with outstanding ocean views, surrounded by five swimming pools; and striking outdoor event spaces with floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The hotel will also feature 7,500 square-feet of flexible indoor and outdoor function space; an 11,000 square-foot SO/ SPA offering bespoke treatments inspired by Mexican beauty rituals; access to an 18-hole Nicklaus Design golf course adjacent to the property; and a SO/ FIT fitness center.With fashionable properties located in select high-energy and dynamic destinations worldwide, SO/ Hotels & Resorts is one of the fastest growing lifestyle brands in Accor’s luxury portfolio. In addition to the upcoming openings of SO/ Havana Paseo del Prado in Havana, Cuba (2020) and SO/ Los Cabos Hotel & Residences (2021) in the North & Central American region, the brand will soon unveil hotels in dynamic and desirable locations worldwide including Kuala Lumpur (2020), Samui (2020) and Jakarta (2021.) These additions will expand an eclectic SO/ portfolio which already includes two stunning properties in Thailand, SO/ Bangkok & SO/ Hua Hin,as well as SO/ Mauritius, SO/ Singapore and recently opened properties including SO/ Auckland, SO/ Berlin Das Stue, SO/ Vienna and SO/ St. Petersburg.Source = Accorlast_img read more

Thomas Cook India to ease travel with endtoend holiday app

first_imgThomas Cook India has unveiled a new app that claims to offer ‘end-to-end’ package holiday booking services.The new Holiday App offers Indian travellers the chance to search for and book a range of holiday packages, and also calculates the total package price. Once customers are happy with their package, they can pay online using the app and receive instant confirmation.A selection of more than 1000 holiday options are available, along with flight, hotel, travel insurance and foreign exchange services, and even visa assistance. If the customer is unwilling to book their holiday using an app, there is also a branch locator allowing them to find the nearest Thomas Cook store.“The launch of our Thomas Cook Holiday App is timed perfectly to harness the potential. Our intent is to empower Indians with seamless end-to-end holiday transactions, also smart tools like our experiential search and wish list- across an array of over 1000 plus holiday options,” said Amit Madhan, Thomas Cook India’s Chief Operating Officer of IT and e-services.last_img read more

Thailand Travel Mart 2016 opens in Chiang Mai

first_imgBy June MukherjeeThe Thailand Travel Mart 2016 Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Sub-region (TTM+ 2016) opened in Chiang Mai, the northern capital of Thailand, with more than 850 delegates from 55 countries.The three-day event, the largest travel trade show of its kind in Thailand, is being held from June 8-10, 2016, at the state-of-the-art Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC).The decision to hold the TTM+ in Chiang Mai was a very strategic one because the entire North and Northeast Thailand region is set to become a major bridgehead between Thailand and its neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam.Celebrating the launch of the ASEAN integration that took effect this year, the TTM+ 2016 will see senior tourism executives of Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, and Myanmar hold a joint press conference to discuss the theme, ‘CLMVT Link: Prosper Together’.Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said, “I am very excited to have the opportunity to personally meet everyone who’s anyone in Thailand’s travel industry scene, especially our overseas partners. This will be my first TTM+ since I assumed the TAT governorship in 2015. In planning this year’s event, we had promised to make it unique, different and distinctive. The unique content indicates that this objective will be achieved.”Now in its 15th consecutive year, the TTM+ is being held under the theme, ‘Smile with Us’, which reflects friendship, enjoyment, happiness and hospitality. It is in line with the new logo of ‘Amazing Thailand’, which represents the most well-known characteristic of Thainess – the Smile.The event has reported registration by 345 sellers from Thailand and the GMS countries, and 305 buyers from 55 countries, 110 trade visitors, as well as over 100 international and local media.China has the largest contingent of buyers (43) followed by the United Kingdom (27), Australia (21), India (17), Italy (15), South Africa (13), and Russia (11). A smaller group of high-quality buyers have also been invited from emerging markets; such as Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine.The sellers comprise hotels and resorts (265), tour operators and travel agents (24), entertainment (8), transportation (3), NTOs (4), the Greater Mekong Sub-region (14), and other travel services (27).TTM+ 2016 will open with a presentation on Thailand’s Sports Tourism potential by H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports. This will be followed by the forum for sellers and buyers to be addressed by H.E. Dr Surin Pitsuwan, former Foreign Minister of Thailand and former ASEAN Secretary General, on the topic of ‘ASEAN Brand…Stronger Together’.Dr Pitsuwan’s speech will be followed by a second session on the topic of ‘OTA: An Inconvenient Truth’ with presentations by Daryl Lee, Regional Vice President Sales and Marketing Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, GTA and Deepak Ohri, Chief Executive Officer, Le Bua Hotels and Resorts. The session will be moderated by Joseph Wang, Chief Commercial Officer, Travel Daily.Later in the evening, the Welcome Reception will be presided over by H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand under the theme of ‘Thai Lanna’, a unique historic culture of Northern Thailand. A Thai classical music and cultural show will be accompanied by performances from Cambodia and Myanmar.On June 9, the joint press conference will be organised under the theme of ‘CLMVT Link: Prosper Together’. Representatives of the CLMVT countries confirmed to speak are 1) Try Chhiv, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia; 2) Manisakhone Thammavongxay, Director of the Public Relations Division, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lao PDR; 3) Daw Khin Than Win, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar; 4) Vu Nam, Deputy Director General, Tourism Marketing Department, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Vietnam, and 5) Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thailand.Also on June 9, a ‘Lanna Night’ reception will be hosted by the Upper Northern Provincial Cluster at Chiang Mai Grandview Convention Centre. The ‘TTM+ 2016: Thank You Party’ will be held on June 10. In addition to the trade show on June 8-10, at the CMECC, a specialist selection of 6 complimentary pre-tours have been organised on June 7 to highlight the culture, heritage, folklore, cuisine, products and facilities of ‘Thai Lanna’.Three post-tours have been offered for the TTM+ 2016 delegates to see other destinations; such as Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun, Phuket and Phang Nga. One five-day tour also covers Thailand and Myanmar.The major sponsors of the TTM+ 2016 are Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Pelican Hotel Solutions, King Power International, and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau.In January-April 2016, Thailand’s visitor arrivals surged to a record 11.7 million, up by 14.12% over the same period of 2015, according to figures published by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. China continues to grow as the top source of visitor arrivals with 3.44 million arrivals, up by 27.35% over the same period in 2015.Visitors from East Asia and ASEAN totalled 7.63 million (+17.26%), Europe 2.52 million (+8.89%), the Americas 502,627 (+13.76%), South Asia 459,157 (+8.72%), Middle East 226,973 (+11.36%), and Africa 51,566 (+6.44%).last_img read more

Caribbean Islands plan to climateproof their tourism industry

first_imgAccording to tourism officials, the Caribbean tourism industry faces significant future threats related to both competitiveness and climate change impacts.Visitor expenditures also hit a new high, growing by an estimated 3.5% to reach 35.5 billion dollars. And the outlook for 2017 remains rosy, with expected increases of 2.5 and 3.5% in long-stay arrivals and between 1.5% and 2.5% in cruise passenger arrivals.Dominican Senator Francine Baron said, “The impact of more severe hurricanes and the destruction of our most valued tourism assets, our beaches and coral reefs and the damage to our infrastructure threaten to reverse the developmental gains that we have made. Our efforts to attain the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations cannot be achieved without dealing with the causes of climate change.”The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) has received a much-needed boost with a 460,000 euro grant from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to implement a project to increase the Caribbean tourism sector’s resilience to natural hazards and climate-related risks.CTO’s Secretary General, Hugh Riley said, “Global climate change and its impacts, including the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, pose a significant risk to the Caribbean region and threaten the sustainability of Caribbean tourism. The CTO is pleased to have the support of the CDB to implement this project which will contribute to enhancing the resiliency, sustainability and competitiveness of the region’s tourism sector.”CDB President, Dr Warren Smith noted that the tourism sector makes an enormous contribution to the region’s socioeconomic development. He said, “Tourism, given its multi-sectoral nature is a very effective tool for promoting sustainable development and poverty reduction. However, maintaining this critical role calls for adequate safeguards to be erected against the enormous threats that climate change and natural hazards pose to the sustainability of our region.”last_img read more

Tourism contributes 18 in New Zealands GDP

first_imgAccording to a research by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in 2017, travel and tourism contributed 18% into New Zealand’s GDP and the sector is considered at as a great economic driver. The report also suggests that the figure will go up by 3% to account for as much as 20% of New Zealand’s GDP over the next decade. In 2017, the travel sector grew 3.2%. The tourism sector accounts for 212,000 jobs in the country, 9% of total employment. By 2028, WTTC predicts that the sector will employ more than 270,000, roughly 11% of the total workforce. Gloria Guevara, President and CEO, WTTC said, “Travel & tourism creates jobs, drives economic growth and helps build better societies. New Zealand is a prime example of this, as the country and its natural beauty is expected to attract over 2.7 million international tourist arrivals in 2018 alone. This represents a 3.9% economic increase from 2017 where visitor exports were responsible for generating USD 10 billion.” Tourism has risen up the agenda in New Zealand over recent years and I commend the government on its support for the sector. Going forward it will be vital for public and private sectors to continue to work together, with the close involvement of communities, to ensure that tourism growth is sustainable, inclusive and benefits everyone,” Guevara added.last_img read more

Tourism Fiji launches brand revitalisation to bring Bula Spirit to the World

first_imgTourism Fiji’s excited to announce a revitalised global brand campaign ready to roll-out in 2019. Produced by Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand, the refined campaign builds upon the destination’s current brand messaging – ‘Where Happiness Finds You’, while showcasing the breadth of experiences available to visitors.Independent research undertaken in Tourism Fiji’s key markets revealed that target audiences were aware of Fiji’s natural beauty and environment, however, they were not as aware of the variety and quality of experiences throughout the destination.The campaign assets have been developed to demonstrate that the Fiji brand goes beyond just relaxation by highlighting Fiji’s ‘Bula Spirit,’ and emphasising the range of unique experiences that are offered throughout Fiji’s 333 islands, with powerful imagery designed to evoke an emotive response and create real interest in the destination.The suite of assets developed span TV commercial, out-of-home, digital/online, cinema, social media and variations have been made to appeal to families, couples, adventure and luxury travellers around the world.Matthew Stoeckel, CEO, Tourism Fiji commented, “Fiji is famous for its stunning environment, world-class resorts and of course it’s hospitality. The new creative assets also showcase the wide range of experiences within the destination while continuing to showcase Fiji’s stunning landscapes and sharing the ‘bula spirit’ of Fiji, which makes it the place where happiness truly finds you.”Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand developed multiple versions of the campaign assets to suit each of Tourism Fiji’s global markets including the USA, UK, Europe, China, Japan, Singapore, India, Australia and New Zealand. The assets are currently rolling out on the destination’s social media channels, before launching in paid media activity in Tourism Fiji’s core markets in 2019.“Everyone who comes to Fiji seems to leave happier. The authentic spirit of the people and the place are what makes it such a uniquely happy place in the world right now,” said Toby Talbot, Chief Creative Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand. “Everything we have created is grounded in the extraordinary emotive connection that the Fijian people make with visitors. From the incredible singing to the addictive ‘bula!’ of locals that greet you throughout the islands, this campaign is about bottling that happiness and sharing it with the world.”In addition to the revamped global assets, Tourism Fiji is also developing a new website to be launched in 2019 which will share personal stories through video, featured blogs and listicles which highlight the diversity of experiences available throughout Fiji.last_img read more

United Wholesale Mortgage Adds USDA Loan Products

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology April 2, 2012 396 Views Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News FHA Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-04-02 Abby Gregorycenter_img United Wholesale Mortgage Adds USDA Loan Products In Michigan, “”United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM)”” is adding a new mortgage loan product to its portfolio, recently announcing that the company would begin offering loans from the “”United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)”” [IMAGE]UWM seeks to enhance its existing government platform of “”Federal Housing Administration (FHA)”” and “”Veterans Affairs (VA)”” loan [COLUMN_BREAK]programs through the extension of USDA loans. The USDA products from UWM will be comprised of 30-year fixed rate, 0 percent down mortgages with finance closing costs, competitively low rates, and financed appliances with minimal restrictions. Through its updated loan offerings, UWM hopes to give brokers another avenue to accumulate market share. “”Adding USDA to our portfolio of products gives our brokers the ability to expand their client base and capture more market share,”” said UWM’s president, Mat Ishbia. Continuing his commentary, Ishbia added, “”Our goal is to help brokers grow and maintain their business by providing them with a wide array of products and cutting edge technology.├âÔÇÜ├é┬á We want brokers across the country to think of UWM as their one-stop shop for success.””””The USDA product is a substantial part of the purchase business in many areas throughout the country, and these loans offer incredible benefits to borrowers,”” Ishbia noted in closing.last_img read more

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