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Oasis promotes agent site relaunch resort upgrades with free stays at select

first_img Share Tags: Cancun, Mexico, Oasis Hotels & Resorts Posted by Tuesday, December 20, 2016 Travelweek Group center_img CANCUN — Oasis Hotels & Resorts has launched an enhanced version of, the company’s online platform for travel agents.New and upgraded features include streamlined training programs, rewards and simplified tools to allow travel agent partners to seamlessly navigate various product offers.Oasis Hotels & Resorts has 10 properties in Cancun and Tulum with a 4,000-room portfolio. Oasis properties include: The Pyramid at Grand Oasis, Grand Oasis Cancun, Grand Oasis Sens, Grand Oasis Tulum, Grand Oasis Palm, Oasis Palm, Oasis Cancun Lite, Oasis Tulum Lite, Oh! The Urban Oasis, and Smart Cancun by Oasis.“We are very proud of the updates to our online platform, developed by and for our travel agent community,” said Enrique Klein, VP Sales & Marketing, Oasis Hotels & Resorts. “The tool is superior to others in the market, and with this latest enhancement we are confident agents will appreciate the multitude of tools available and the convenient navigational capabilities.”The updated site, coupled with Oasis’ recent upgrades in amenities, “will allow agents to not only sell Oasis more successfully, but also generate satisfied clients and repeat business,” Klein added.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”To allow agents to experience its refreshed resorts Oasis Hotels & Resorts is inviting all travel retailers to visit four of its all-inclusive resorts free for up to five nights.Agents can visit Grand Oasis Cancun, Grand Oasis Sens, Grand Oasis Palm and Grand Oasis Tulum. Agents staying for three nights will receive complimentary, all-inclusive accommodations at the resort of their choice, and are asked to complete one site inspection at their resort and a site visit at a second property.Those staying four or five nights can stay at two resorts of their choice and will be asked to complete three site inspections. The complimentary visits are bookable for stays between Jan. 2 – 31, 2017 or April 17 – June 30, 2017.On the new platform, agents will be able to access Oasis’ higher commissions and other agent rewards, view all consumer offers, find perks for group bookings and book fam trips with special year-round rates.Agents can also download marketing resources including brochures, resort fact sheets, videos and customizable flyers and also book stays directly on The Certification Program provides an overview of Oasis product.More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesKlein says OasisConnect aligns with the brand’s goal of solidifying Oasis’ commitment to the travel agent community. In 2016 Oasis has implemented a series of specific operational enhancements to improve the company’s standards of service and hospitality including refurbishing hotel product, differentiating each resort, implementing innovative culinary programming and incorporating a Guest Experience Manager, responsible for ensuring guest satisfaction at Grand Oasis Cancun.For a limited time, agents can also earn up to a US$100 booking bonus on Sian Ka’an rooms at Grand Oasis Sens and Grand Oasis Tulum. Sian Ka’an rooms take all-inclusive to an exclusive VIP level with amenities and services like a private beach club, oversized oceanview accommodations featuring either a plunge pool or whirlpool, spa discounts and free room service.To learn more about Oasis Hotels & Resorts, visit or call 1-800-44-OASIS. << Previous PostNext Post >> Oasis promotes agent site relaunch, resort upgrades with free stays at select propertieslast_img read more

60 of Canadian agencies report gross sales revenue of 500000 Ultimate Travel

first_img60% of Canadian agencies report gross sales revenue of $500,000+: Ultimate Travel Survey Share Thursday, January 19, 2017 Tags: Ultimate Travel Survey TORONTO — More than half of travel agents say their sales are up and 60% of agencies are reporting gross sales revenue of $500,000 or more. Nine out of 10 agents say they’re optimistic about the future of the retail travel industry. More stats are available in Travelweek’s recently released Ultimate Travel Survey, which gathered insights and feedback from more than 425 travel agents across Canada.The survey offers a snapshot of a travel industry that’s seen a few ups and downs over the years and won’t be deterred by setbacks.To download the survey, click here to gain access. Specialize, specialize, specializeMany agents have made the jump to specialized and niche sales and thrived. About 75% of Ultimate Travel Survey respondents say they sell group travel. Asked if Group sales are more resilient than FIT, especially in tough years like 2016, Wendi Gladstone, who heads up the groups department at Battlefield Travel in Stoney Creek, ON, says it depends on the clientele and repeat business. Gladstone has been booking groups for some 20 years. She says 2016 was “steady. I handle about eight groups a year. We constantly make the profit we want. We have a huge repeat business and it will carry us through pretty much anything.”Gladstone works closely with a small group of preferred tour operator partners including Tourcan Vacations. She recently branched out to wine tours to destinations including South Africa, Chile and Argentina. Gladstone says she designs her groups around the principle that “everyone in every group I arrange feels like they are on a personal holiday designed just for them.”Group business is profitable, but as Gladstone points out, “when you do a custom group, as 80% of mine are, you earn every penny!”Many group bookings end up on cruise ships and certainly the cruise niche – if such a big market can be considered a niche – continues to grow with some 83% of UTS respondents indicating they sell cruise product. Weddings and honeymoons are also big (65%), along with luxury travel (70%), FIT (71%) and adventure travel (56%).Retirement & recruitmentRetailers are in a particularly good mood where the future of their industry is concerned. More than eight in 10 travel agents (88%) said they’re generally optimistic about the future of the retail travel industry. And when asked if they see themselves in the retail travel industry 10 years from now, 64% said yes. Of the one-third or so of agents who responded ‘no’, the majority (66%) said they’re leaving the industry to retire.The high number of older travel agents retiring from the industry is an ongoing concern. Tony Santelli, CTC, Director of Students and a professor at College April-Fortier in Montreal, knows the situation first-hand – he’s planning retirement himself, in the next five to 10 years. Where are the new recruits? College April-Fortier is a career college, preparing students for work on both the retail and supplier side. “The opportunities are plentiful for young talent to evolve towards those leadership positions. And we are certainly doing our part in preparing them to replace those retiring,” says Santelli.More news:  Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTFor the last 14 years the tourism college been emphasizing specialty and niche travel, “since we saw the writing on the wall way back”, says Santelli. “We are seeing many agencies beginning to specialize and our students are well-prepared and well-positioned to work in these ‘specialty’ stores.”At the agency level, Santelli says he doesn’t see agency owners planning their retirement carefully. “There seems to be a lack of mentoring in our industry. We simply don’t hear too many stories of owners selling the business to their loyal employees.”And he adds that while he suspects there will be fewer brick-and-mortar shops in the future, “the need for competent travel counsellors in tune with today’s technology will always be in high demand.”Marketing tools: what works best?For years there was no budging brochures as the mainstay marketing tool in the travel industry. Bundles of winter sun brochures arrived with a thud on retailers’ doorsteps each August and clients snapped them up. And then along came the Internet and email and many suppliers developed downloadable brochures, e-brochures or (in some cases) got rid of brochures all together.Meanwhile agents knew that all those ‘outdated’ books on the brochure racks were worth their weight in gold when it came to pitching vacation ideas to clients. And now we’ve come full-circle with some suppliers pouring untold resources into beautiful high-end brochures, and other offering a mix of traditional brochures and e-brochures. And everyone’s marketing via social media. In this year’s Ultimate Travel Survey, 41% of agents said the brochure reigns supreme in their agency. One in five (20%) said supplier websites are their go-to marketing tool, 24% said email marketing and 15% said social media marketing.Tauck recently introduced an e-brochure aimed at kids and teens. Isn’t that the demographic that’s most hooked into social media? Perhaps, but Tauck is counting on kids having fun with its interactive e-book – designed and written to appeal to younger travellers, with bright graphics, bold layout, casual fonts, and playfully-worded text, and focused on Tauck Bridges trips grouped by interest, rather than by geography, from ‘Animal Encounters’ (itineraries in Africa, Latin America and Alaska where wildlife features prominently), to ‘Natural Wonders’ (trips noted for their amazing outdoor landscapes and adventures) and ‘Landmark Sites’ (journeys to cultural icons in Europe).“Tauck’s use of print brochures has stayed quite consistent, and they continue to be a vital part of our marketing mix and a resource that our guests and agents use and appreciate,” said Katharine Bonner, Tauck’s Senior VP of Marketing. “In recent years we’ve supplemented (but never replaced) print brochures with e-brochures for customers who either want information immediately or simply prefer to receive it in a digital format.”More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesThe idea behind the new Tauck Bridges e-brochure, she adds, is to supplement the ‘grown-up’ version of the book with a kid-friendly version, maximizing marketing opportunities. “With the new Tauck Bridges e-brochure, we’ve produced a fun children’s companion piece to the full Tauck Bridges print brochure that their parents or grandparents receive.”Preferred suppliersClose to half of agents in this year’s Ultimate Travel Survey say they book 76% or more of their business directly with suppliers. And almost four in 10 agents make 76%+ of their leisure bookings with preferred suppliers. Not surprisingly, higher commissions were the top reason (67%) agents cited for selling preferred suppliers. Agents were also happy with the service they receive from preferred suppliers (56%) and pricing (47%). Preferred supplier mandates from head office / management play a role too (38%), as does consumer preference (19%).Where’s the fine balance between too few preferred suppliers, and too many? Some  retailers have so many preferred suppliers, you start to wonder if everyone made the list. Flemming Friisdahl, Founder, The Travel Agent Next Door, says less is more. “This is why we only have about 30 preferred suppliers, and we have 79% of all our commission come in on just these suppliers (coming up from 72%). We are leaving money on the table with some suppliers, but we believe by focusing on fewer suppliers we will get the training, marketing and support when we need it,” says Friisdahl.“If all the suppliers with that retailer are preferred then, simply, nobody is preferred. This also takes away from the training,” says Friisdahl. “An agent can only retain so much information.”The Travel Agent Next Door retailers are still able to sell any supplier they want, “but when they sell preferred supplier they are financially reward with up to 100% of the commission going to the agent,” he adds. About Latest Posts Kathryn FolliottEditor at TravelweekKathryn is Editor at Travelweek and has worked for the company since 1995. She has travelled to more than 50 countries and counts Hong Kong, Jerusalem, the Swiss Alps and the Galapagos Islands among her favourite destinations. Latest posts by Kathryn Folliott (see all) “They need to go where the bucks are”: Agents on ACTA partnership – April 18, 2019 As the cost of doing business climbs, host agencies, retail groups say they have options – April 4, 2019 As of 2021 Europe-bound clients will need to apply online for a visa waiver and pay a fee – April 3, 2019 Kathryn Folliott Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Here is where you can write CTC and CTM exams says ACTA

first_img Posted by Share Monday, February 5, 2018 TORONTO — Ahead of the upcoming Travel MarketPlace Conference, ACTA will be providing a proctored venue for industry professionals to write their CTC and CTM exams.In Vancouver, the venue will be at the JW Marriott Hotel, Vancouver on March 1 from 10:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.In Toronto, the venue will be at the Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto on May 22 from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.Pre-registration for the exam is mandatory. Laptop computers are required as the exam is online.For more information contact Christine Chilton, Director of Education, ACTA at Travelweek Group center_img Tags: ACTA Here is where you can write CTC and CTM exams, says ACTA << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Expat kills wouldbe home invader in Escazú

first_imgNo related posts. An expat who killed an apparent home invader in a shootout Friday night said he acted in self-defense.The resident, identified with the last name of Nicolaisen, said in an interview with the daily La Nación that a group of would-be thieves broke into his home in Bello Horizonte, Escazú, southwest of San José, dressed as “ninjas.” Nicolaisen shot 20-year-old Jonathan Barrantes three times, while three alleged accomplices escaped in a car. Barrantes received two bullet wounds to the chest and another in his right arm.The alleged thieves broke through a door of Nicolaisen’s house, and Barrantes was found with a “pistol in his hand,” Nicolaisen said. The expat, who has lived in Costa Rica for 20 years and was inside the house at the time of the incident, said he fears retribution from the alleged burglars and will improve his home’s security system. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Tax hikes send Tico farmers to the streets

first_imgFrom the print editionBy T.J. Gilles | Special to The Tico TimesCosta Rican farmers will be taking to the streets outside the Legislative Assembly next week to demand huge tax cuts on agricultural lands.Organizations of farmers, cooperatives and agribusiness say that without an 80 percent decrease in impending taxes fomented by a 2007 reform, rural Costa Rica as it has come to be known may go the way of the golden toad and other endangered life forms.Álvaro Sáenz of the National Agroindustry Chamber (CNAA) called the tax hikes “a species of inverted agrarian reform” that would mean “producers who can’t pay the new tributes will end up losing their means of subsistence.”At a news conference in San José to announce protests scheduled for July 31 in the nation’s capital, Guido Vargas, of UPA Nacional, an organization of small- and medium-sized producers, said the demonstrations beginning on Tuesday will be “the biggest we have seen in this country.” He added that producers and their supporters are ready to camp outside the assembly until they achieve tax relief that can keep the country’s agriculture viable and competitive.Vargas said: “We need to make it clear that this struggle isn’t only for the benefit of farmers but for the benefit of all society. There is nothing more important than food security.”According to Guillermo Vargas, of the Monteverde Institute, Costa Rica imports the vast majority of such daily staples as rice and beans. “Eighty percent of our beans are imported from such places as Nicaragua and China,” he said. Jesús Villalobos, of the National Council of Cooperatives (CONACOOP), said, “We need to increase our production, our innovation [and] our research and development.” Looming tax hikes will put such investments on the back burner and put Costa Rica on the slippery slope of uncompetitiveness in many commodities, he added.CNAA’s Sáenz said the taxes will affect some 680,000 rural families who may be forced to abandon their holdings and seek wage-earning elsewhere.In a letter in the daily La Nación on May 15 (the “Day of the Farmer”), CNAA, UPA Nacional and CONACOOP described the tax law as “irrational and confiscatory” and “agrarian reform in reverse.”The complicated formula has 10 factors for valuing farmland – most of them unrelated to current use or production capacity, the letter said.The letter also said new taxes would result in “the insolvency of many producers” who face tax burdens as much as 10-fold, and “many will see themselves forced from their activities.”Sáenz said not only little farms are at risk.“Big plantations, many of them owned by cooperatives, are going to go broke. The big companies are going to go to other countries to produce,” Sáenz said. “Pineapple growers are going to go to Colombia, [and] banana growers will go to Honduras and Guatemala, creating great poverty in rural Costa Rica.”Villalobos said the “unjust” tax law values forest, pasture and cropland on par with “land dedicated to commercial businesses, residences and five-star hotels.”Lawmakers, however, said that another tax bill, dedicated to preserving agricultural land, could allow a tax reduction of 50 percent if passed.The National Union of Local Governments (UNGL) said a reduction of 40 percent might be feasible, but both are far from the 80 percent cut that will be demanded by protesters.In a statement, UNGL said it wants no proposal that “will affect the incomes of municipalities, especially rural cantons.”“It is important to us to approve projects that truly fortify the municipality,” the statement said. “We will continue fighting … to bring better services to the diverse sectors and citizens of the country.” Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

What were the most popular Google searches in Costa Rica in 2013

first_imgRelated posts:The 10 most popular Tico Times stories of 2013 The 10 most popular items Ticos buy online Our most popular stories from last month (March ’14) Our most popular stories last month — April ’14 Searches for the current events topic Corea del Norte (“North Korea”) finished second. “Minions”, a type of character from the movie “Mi Villano Favorito 2” (“Despicable Me 2”), placed third. “Mi Villano Favorito 2” was the most Googled movie of 2013 in Costa Rica, just beating out Iron Man 3.Three stars who died premature deaths in 2013 also made the list. They were 31-year-old Glee star Cory Monteith (No. 4; drug overdose), 41-year-old Mexican soap opera actress Karla Álvarez (No. 6; respiratory failure) and 58-year-old Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez (No. 10; cancer). Monteith and the Harlem Shake (no. 8), a series of fleetingly amusing dance videos, finished in the top 10 of Costa Rica Google searches and global searches. (The global list was topped by South Africa’s first black president Nelson Mandela and movie star Paul Walker — two more personalities who died in 2013). The most popularGoogle trends of the year in Costa Rica showed an affection for viral videos and a morbid interest in celebrity deaths — just like the rest of the world. Trends are defined as searches that saw the biggest increase between 2012 and 2013. Google released the Tico trending topics in mid-December as part of its annual Zeitgeist charts. The viral hit El Pollito Pío (“The cheeping chicken”) topped the list here. It’s essentially an animated version of “Old McDonald Had a Farm” version with an uglier twist at the end. The tractor on the farm goes “bruum bruum” over the cheeping chicken. That example of not-so-sublime entertainment garnered more than 300 million views worldwide.  center_img The most popular How To search was “How to braid your hair” (perhaps inspired by the hero of the Hunger Games series). The list also featured “How to lose weight”, “How to learn English”, and “How to kiss”. There’s no shame in the last one, which also made the last of global “how to” searches. Everybody on the Internet wants to learn the secret to smooching.The “What is…” searches appeared more eclectic. Some seemed based in hypochondria, others were downright philosophical. Topping the list in Costa Rica was the question: “What is LOL?” – Internet shorthand for “laughing out loud”. Other searches asked “What is hemophilia?”, “What is lupus?”, “What is bullying?”, “What is sexuality?” and “What is democracy?”. Finishing sixth on the list was the very meta question, “What is the Internet?”Lea Michele, Monteith’s girlfriend and Glee co-star, was the most Googled musical act in Costa Rica. She finished just ahead of metal pioneers Black Sabbath (who toured Costa Rica in November) and Tica pop star Debi Nova.Facebook and YouTube led the list for most popular websites in Costa Rica. The always helpful Google Translate site landed at No. 6.The overall most popular searches of the year (not trends) included Christian music, funny videos, horoscopes, song lyrics and Disney. Most Popular Trends of 20131. El Pollito Pío2. Corea del Norte (“North Korea”)3. Minions 4. Cory Monteith5. Miss Universo 2013 (“Miss Universe 2013”)6. Karla Álvarez7. Radios en vivo (“Streaming radio”)8. Harlem Shake9. Juegos Centroamericanos (“Central American Games”)10. Hugo ChávezCómo… (“How to…”) searches1. Cómo hacer trenzas (“How to make a braid”)2. Cómo sacar porcentajes (“How to take percentages”)3. Cómo pintar uñas (“How to paint your nails”)4. Cómo besar (“How to kiss”)5. Cómo adelgazar (“How to lose weight“)6. Cómo llegar (“How to get to…”)7. Cómo aprender inglés (“How to learn English”)8. Cómo maquillarse (“How to put on make-up)9. Cómo actualizar android (“How to update an Android phone”)10. Cómo tocar guitarra (“How to play guitar”)Qué es… (“What is…?”) searches1. Qué es LOL (“What is LOL*?”)2. Qué es ciencia (“What is science?”)3. Qué hora es (“What time is it?”)4. Qué es hemofilia (“What is hemophilia?”)5. Qué es XD (“What is XD**?”)6. Qué es Internet (“What is the Internet?”)7. Qué es sexualidad (“What is sexuality?”)8. Qué es bullying (“What is bullying?”)8. Qué es lupus (“What is lupus?”)10. Qué es democracia (“What is democracy***?”)*Laughing out loud**A sideways face that’s laughing. ***Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms. Websites1. Facebook2. YouTube3. Hotmail4. Google5. Gmail6. Google Translate7. CRAutos8. Yahoo9. Amazon10. La NaciónSee the full list: Facebook Commentslast_img read more

US actor Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead in New York

first_imgNEW YORK – Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York apartment on Sunday of a suspected drug overdose, law enforcement officials said. He was 46.The enigmatic star was hailed as the finest character actor of his generation, winning an Oscar in 2006 for “Capote” and nominated for three further Academy Awards.Police responded to the U.S. actor’s home in Manhattan’s West Village after receiving a call from one of his friends at about 11:15 a.m., they told AFP.“We are investigating a possible overdose at this location,” said one law enforcement official, declining to give his name.The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, reported that a screenwriter found Hoffman in the bathroom of his apartment with a needle in his arm.Hoffman’s recent movies included action fantasy “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and psychological drama “The Master,” for which he received his latest Oscar nomination.Tributes quickly poured in from fellow celebrities and actors, including Mia Farrow who wrote on Twitter: “A truly kind, wonderful man and one of our greatest actors – ever.”Three police cars were parked on the curb as journalists and neighbors, some crying, quickly gathered in stunned silence outside the actor’s apartment building on Bethune Street.Two policemen stood outside Hoffman’s building, the “Pickwick House,” a red brick six-floor apartment complex, but declined to comment to reporters.One neighbor who gave her name as Janine, said she was accustomed to seeing the actor and his family in the street.“They were always in the ‘hood,” she told AFP. “He, his partner and four kids. My husband saw him last week. They never hide, they were a part of the community here.”She said she had come as soon as she heard the news.Born Philip Hoffman in July 1967 in New York state, he was the third of four children of a Xerox executive and a feminist housewife who divorced when he was 9.An avid athlete, the stocky youth became involved in school theatrics after suffering an injury.He earned a drama degree from New York University in 1989, though he fell into alcohol and drug abuse for a while.Incorporating his grandfather’s name, Seymour, between his given names, he made his big screen debut in a 1991 independent film called “Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole.”In 1997, he made waves as a closeted gay crew member who makes a tentative pass at star Mark Wahlberg in Paul Thomas Anderson’s porn industry tale “Boogie Nights,” followed by a quirky turn as a toady in the Coen brothers’ “The Big Lebowski” (1998).In Anthony Minghella’s crime thriller “The Talented Mr Ripley,” he stole the show from co-stars Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow with his stealthy supporting role as slippery and duplicitous preppie Freddie Miles.He played music reporter Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous” (2000) and then took on the role of a lonely lecher in Todd Solondz’s “Happiness” (1998).He also had striking roles in Anderson’s “Magnolia”; in “Flawless,” in which he plays a melodramatic drag queen; in “Punch-Drunk Love”; and in big-budget pictures like the 2003 Oscar winner “Cold Mountain.”But the actor was a reluctant occupant of the limelight.“Movie star? I just can’t relate to that,” Hoffman told one interviewer in 2009.“Philip is an extraordinary actor, cursed, sometimes, by his own gnawing intelligence, his own discomfort with acting,” the late Minghella once said.“There are few actors more demanding in front of camera, less demanding away from it.”After his Oscar-winning turn in “Capote”, Hoffman had three more Oscar nominations as a supporting actor in “Charlie Wilson’s War” in 2008, “Doubt” in 2009 and “The Master” in 2013.He had been in a relationship with costume designer Mimi O’Donnell since 1999 and the couple had four children. Facebook Comments Related posts:Pete Seeger, legendary folk singer, dies at 94 David Crosby says he has health but no wealth Tico designer founds furniture company to aid Filipino typhoon victims ‘Star Wars’ smashes Christmas Day box office recordlast_img read more

Costa Ricas best coffee comes from this hillside in Alajuela

first_imgLOURDES DE CIRRÍ, Alajuela – Large burlap sacks of coffee, green and roasted, covered the kitchen floor in Antonio Barrantes’ home in Lourdes de Cirrí, north of Naranjo, Alajuela.He opened one bag to sift the jade-colored unroasted beans through his hands. These pale green beans, known as “oro” in Spanish, or gold, might well be worth their weight in the precious metal. They were ranked as the best coffee in Costa Rica in May. A trophy saying so sat on the dining room table.Barrantes, still wearing his floppy canvas hat from outside, apologized for the mess and cleared some room to sit in his living room looking out over Costa Rica’s Central Valley below. Two small dogs, Choco and Tonkey, flitted in and out the door as Barrantes explained what makes his coffee so special. To start, he lives in Lourdes de Cirrí. Antonio Barrantes in one of his coffee farms in Lourdes de Cirrí, in Naranjo, Alajuela. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesLourdes de Cirrí — more a collection of houses perched on the high road than a town — is home to three winners of the Cup of Excellence, more than any other single growing area since it started in Costa Rica in 2007. The winners were María Mayela Quesada in 2008; husband-and-wife team Oldemar Arrieta Lobo and Marlene Brenes Morera of Vista al Valle in 2013; and this year’s winner, Antonio Barrantes of Cafetalera Herbazú.Barrantes’ and Arrieta’s and Brenes’ farms are literally right next to each other. A wind break of trees and a wobbly barbed-wire fence was all that separated the hillside of dark green-leafed coffee trees into the two farms that have both won Costa Rica’s top coffee prize in the last three years.Lourdes de Cirrí’s coffee is a success story of ideal growing conditions, careful agronomy and an innovative business model known as a micro-mill that has transformed specialty coffee in Costa Rica.Nestled near Poás Volcano, the rich volcanic soil – with an altitude of over 1,500 meters – and the right amount of rainfall, tender love and care of the farmers created optimum conditions for growing coffee. But without micro-mills this coffee often went unnoticed. Conditions in this small growing area were so ideal that Arrieta and Brenes won the Cup of Excellence the first year they were able to separate out their coffee thanks to their newly minted micro-mill.Noelia Villalobos, executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of Costa Rica, said that the concentration of success in Lourdes de Cirrí is due in part to the relatively small growing area in the Western Valley compared to the expansive Tarrazú region, where high-quality coffee farms cover huge swaths of the area’s mountains.Carlos Fonseca, technical manager at Costa Rica’s National Coffee Institute, or ICAFE, said that micro-mills allow farmers to produce a value-added crop, not just another commodity. Traditional cooperatives buy coffee from their members without having to send it far away and risk it being mixed in with another’s possibly lesser quality coffee. Because the mills are small and handle coffee from anywhere between one and several small farms, producers can mill their coffee, a process that involves removing the coffee cherry’s red fruit, drying the beans, and removing the final layer of parchment. Oldemar Arrieta in one of his coffee farms in Lourdes de Cirrí, in Naranjo, Alajuela. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesThe Barrantes family is a coffee institution in the Western Valley. The year 2015 was the first that Barrantes won the top prize, but he and any of his brothers in the area regularly placed in the top five nationally since SCACR started operating the Cup of Excellence tournament in 2007. Barrantes came in second in 2011.The family is well-known for the meticulous care it takes with its crop but perhaps more so for their business innovation. Cafetalera Herbazú was the first in Naranjo to establish a micro-mill, a business and farming system that has been key to much of Costs Rica’s specialty coffee success in recent years.Antonio Barrantes was one of 13 children in a family that has been growing coffee for three generations. But when coffee prices crashed in the early 2000s, the family was desperately looking for a new way to make money. Unable to secure a loan from the banks due in part to the low prices, the family scraped together money from friends and neighbors and finally opened their mill in time to process the 2000/2001 crop.Soon, buyers were cupping their coffee and liking what they tasted.“We didn’t know this was here!” buyers would tell Barrantes.Barrantes said that building their name in coffee was not the overnight success that Arrieta and Brenes enjoyed. It took years to build relationships with international buyers. Barrantes said that building and maintaining relationships with buyers required extra diligence in how they cared for and processed their coffee.“You might buy expensive shoes but you’re going to get your money’s worth. If you don’t, if they fall apart, you’re not going to trust that brand again. Coffee’s the same way,” Barrantes said. Marlene Brenes, left, and Xinia Rojas select the best coffee beans at the Vista al Valle micro-mill in Lourdes de Cirrí, in Naranjo, Alajuela. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesBy identifying and sorting promising lots thanks in part to the micro-mill system small farmers can sell their coffee at prices far above the futures price for coffee on the New York Stock Exchange. Barrantes said that his relationships with buyers from around the world allowed him to command stable, competitive prices for his coffee. Being able to budget for the coming year allowed him to make investments in his fields and the mill.Success stories like the Barrantes have led to a micro-mill boom in Costa Rica. The number of micro-mills has grown ten-fold in the last decade, Fonseca said.Sue Spindler, executive director of the Alliance for Coffee Excellence and founder of Cup of Excellence, previously told The Tico Times that “[Costa Rica] is the micro-mill country. They have gone from huge commercial mills to micro-mills that are experimenting with varietals, processing, drying, harvesting.”That experimentation has helped broaden the palate of Costa Rican coffee. SCACR Director Noelia Villalobos said that the 2015 round of Cup of Excellence saw more high-quality coffee any ever before. International judges in this year’s competition said that they tasted flavors and qualities previously unseen in Costa Rica.Marlene Brenes of Vista al Valle said that their win opened new opportunities for their business. Her husband, Oldemar Arrieta, even traveled to South Korea at the invitation of a buyer there to help promote their coffee.“We never expected” to win, Brenes said. “Something better could never have happened to us.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica’s best coffee is from Naranjo Cup of Excellence 2015 Auction Almost half of the world actually prefers instant coffee Costa Rica’s best coffee hails once again from Naranjolast_img read more

Of snow kindness and Northern Lights a Costa Rican in Manitoba Canada

first_imgLater, as part of my thesis research, I had the opportunity to travel across the province, only to confirm that the area is covered with wheat, soybean, canola, and other crops, while anything resembling a forest is rare. This feature makes summer sunsets a particular show – it’s as if our beloved star hides behind the horizon against its will, and fights back to stay over the prairies as long as possible.Once I got used to the landscape, the multiculturalism of Canada knocked at my door. I got my first glimpse of it at the customs queue in Toronto’s airport, but even a small city like Brandon has a lot to show. There I was in the middle of Canada, talking to and meeting people from Russia, Germany, India, Nigeria, Japan, France, South Korea, the United States, Australia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Central America, and the list goes on. Different accents. Oh, the accents! That’s when your English skills are really challenged. I had many conversations without understanding a word of what they were saying. True story. A panoramic photo of Brandon University. Courtesy of Gustavo Díaz CruzBut that experience is something that we all should have. Learning from people from so many different backgrounds, from their knowledge and ignorance, is more valuable than any degree; it opens your mind to a different world. And I did my part and added something to the exchange, of course.Phrases like “No, we are not Puerto Rico” and “No, we don’t have Armed Forces” became regular for a while. Then, things like our approximately 12-hour-days all year long, and how easy it is to go from a beach to a mountain or volcano in just a few hours, became part of the common dialogue. Some of them now want to visit Costa Rica. Others told me about their amazing vacation in Tortuguero, Guanacaste and Monteverde. There was, I must say, a warmer interest in my country than I expected.Talking so much about Costa Rica brings homesickness to the surface. When that happens, I focus on the positive things: I haven’t experienced a traffic jam here; I love that I can pay for the bus rides with my Student ID Card and that I can find products like plantains and chayote due to the Central American immigration to this city; and I really like the self-checkout in the supermarkets. On the other hand, I prepare myself gallo pinto every morning, with a bottle of that Salsa that cost me four times more than in Costa Rica. There’s no Feria del Agricultor on Saturday morning where I can get fresh things like manzanas de agua, my all-time favorite fruit. No tamales during the past Christmas. No fireworks to celebrate the New Year.Speaking of Christmas and winter, the coldest temperature I’ve experienced in Costa Rica: 0° C at the top of Chirripó, and nothing lower than 16° C under normal conditions. Brandonites laughed at me when I told them that. I’ve had to seriously adapt to the cold. I wear three layers to go outside because the temperature is between -15 and -30° C, and if you add the wind on top of that, it can feel like -40°C. Seriously, the air hurts your face. Snow boots, gloves, scarf, are all labeled to keep you warm up to -60°C, because that’s a thing. Not using them means frostbite. But don’t be confused; the first snowfall I saw was one of the best experiences of my life. I was in awe. I even enjoyed walking to the university with snow up to my knees due to a blizzard. I don’t know if subsequent winters will keep me as entertained as the first one, but I know now I can deal with it. After a snowstorm in front of Gustavo’s house in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. Courtesy of Gustavo Díaz CruzBut no snowfall compares to the amazing Aurora borealis, aka Northern Lights – that beautiful dance of solar particles entering the atmosphere that dresses the dark night sky with green and purple tones. That was a bonus. I never thought I’d see them until I arrived here and someone told me about it. Now I’ve been lucky enough to watch them a few times, even from my backyard.Funny thing: kindness and politeness are best represented in Canada by the simple act of holding a door open. Any door. Anywhere. I don’t want to reinforce any stereotype, but that is indeed one of the most important things I have noticed. Not holding the door for someone else is rude, and may lead to some rude comments in return. Another funny thing: don’t use outdoor shoes inside any house, especially if you are visiting. It took me one embarrassing moment to learn that. If you’re in Canada, check the integrity of your socks on a regular basis; trust me, it’s very important.Luckily for me, a few Ticos live close, so I can go and talk to them, release all the maes and pura vidas in me, and have some fun. I admire them so much, because they have been here longer, facing more difficulties than I have, and planning a longer stay. Their support and advice have been very important for me.I am thousands of kilometers away from home, and I miss it. But I am happy with my time here, because I’ve met wonderful people and I’ve been able to see more of this wonderful world we have.A word of advice: don’t’ take Costa Rica for granted. Be curious, open your mind to appreciate the many things our country has to offer. But if you have the opportunity to travel to other countries, do it! You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the richness of different cultures, languages and places.Are you a Costa Rican living abroad? Would you like to share your experience – what your first days abroad were like, lessons learned, how your time overseas has influenced your view of Costa Rica, advice for folks back home? Contact us at previous Please Send Coffee! columns here. Facebook Comments My mom named me Gustavo Adolfo. I was born in Puntarenas, next to the sea, but my home was in Cedral, a small town of Montes de Oro (Miramar). There, I grew up surrounded by mountains and coffee plantations. Later in life, Cartago was my destination for university and work– that is, until a Master’s program opportunity in Canada presented itself while I was searching for websites related to plant diseases, my area of expertise. And thus, my first adventure outside of Costa Rica began.Brandon, Manitoba, Canada: aka, the Wheat City. That’s my home now. I’ve been in Brandon for almost a year and a half, and the first thing that comes to mind when someone asks me about this place is how flat the landscape is. The first time I traveled to Brandon from Winnipeg, I was overwhelmed by the large fields and absence of mountains. My mind couldn’t process the flatness of this place, because I had just left the diverse topography of Tiquicia. I can’t explain this. It’s something that you have to experience. It’s just flat, nothing but flat. Ticos in a winter wonderlandcenter_img Related posts:No love scenes allowed: P.D.A. across borders Canadian expats in Costa Rica hope to regain right to vote Give green in Costa Rica: holiday gifts that will live on all year Ojalá: A Costa Rican sense of lucklast_img read more

Halloween in San José Where to drink dance and flaunt your lastminute

first_imgChances are you already know that Costa Rica doesn’t really have a Halloween scene. Still, some people visit their loved ones at the cemeteries every Nov. 2 and celebrate a special mass. But that’s about it.So, without the house-to-house trick-or-treat tradition, Halloween has evolved into an almost exclusively adult nightlife celebration.Bars and nightclubs know it might be the only night of the year where you can be anything you want to be. And I mean anything from a costume meticulously planned for months, to a last-minute political pun about the tax reform because 2018 is the year of “laugh it off before you cry.”Either way, your costume will probably disintegrate all over the dance floor, so be ready to comfortably dance.Most parties will be held this weekend, but some others will be on Nov. 2-3.You can get some tickets on pre-sale with price ranges that go from ₡4,000 (about $7) to around ₡7,000. Plan beforehand because tickets will be pricier if you buy them at the last minute. I would know: I’m writing from hellish experience.In Barrio Amón, the cultural complex El Sótano (four blocks north from Automercado at San José) will have its biggest party on Nov. 3 at 8 p.m.The local band Los Cuchillos will be at their best when they play rockabilly surrounded by fake cobwebs. They’ve been doing it every year nonstop for more than a decade. (Photo courtesy of Los Cuchillos / Juan Calivá)This year there will be guest DJs and a mandatory costume contest. Tickets for the party can be purchased at the Steinvorth building, at the Twistin’ Bones record store.But El Sótano will also hold a smaller party on Oct. 27 hosted by another local rock band. That night, starting at 8 p. m., pop-rock duo Half Tangerine will be playing live and also handling prices for the three best costumes of the night.That same night, two places will be competing with Halloween bashes at Barrio La California.Casa Félix, la Concha de La Lora y Mercadito La California — 25 meters north from Bomba La Primavera — will be joining forces to throw a huge party at Sanatorio La California from 9 p. m. to 6 a.m. They will arrange five stages with dance music that will include Latin charanga, electronica, and hip-hop. From the Weeping Woman to the Naked Gringo, a guide to Costa Rica’s spookiest folklore Related posts:10 can’t-miss events this Halloween in Costa Rica Arts and culture in brief: the week ahead in Costa Rica Coming soon: Tamarindo’s Ocaso Music Festival From the Weeping Woman to the Naked Gringo, a guide to Costa Rica’s spookiest folklorecenter_img The cheapest tickets are already sold out at Yapp, so you can either buy the ₡11,000 one or the VIP ones that cost ₡22,000. Every ticket will get you six drinks. The only difference is where and with whom you will be seated. Their costume contest prize is also the juiciest because they are offering ₡250,000 in cash.Nightclub El Wok, just across from Bomba La California, will offer the Halloween edition of their infamous Sad Boys Club bash. They will be giving out Bad Bunny tickets as costume prices. The best one will be having two VIP tickets and the second place will get two single ones.You can buy the Sad Boys Club tickets at Yapp because they usually don’t last until the day of the party. Trust me on this one.Later, El Wok will host the DNCFLR party, but this year the DJs are planning a thematic Día de Muertos on Nov. 2. Tickets will be sold at the entrance, so don’t stress about that one. (Photo courtesy of Los Cuchillos / Juan Calivá)Over this weekend, Antik will be the last nightclub to close up at 7 a. m. on Oct. 28. It’s also just four blocks south from El Wok. Convenient, I know.They are planning a big house music party with Detroit DJ duo Golf Clap. They will be receiving reservations beforehand at 7204-9909 but if you want to, you can also get in line before DJs play around midnight.For the ones that don’t like staying in one place for the night, there is also the Carpe Chepe option. Carpe Halloween is a tour that will take you to four bars without paying any extra cover. The ₡15.000 ticket covers four shots, complimentary cocktails, and experienced city guides.They’ll meet at restaurant Gallo Pinto 506 in Barrio Escalante at 7 p. m. on Oct. 27 and take it from there. But you should pay in advance and stay in contact with the organizers through their mail or cellphone 8347-6198.Sound advice from a fellow partygoer: no matter where you stay, it’s wise to be extra careful with your belongings. Several friends of mine have lost their cellphones over Halloween. Also, stay close to your costume-clad friends.We don’t pass out in candy San José, but we do have a lot of fun. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Merkel says Greece covered much ground

first_imgAssociated PressATHENS, Greece (AP) – German chancellor Angela Merkel said Greece has covered “much of the ground” required for recovery, during her landmark visit to the financially stricken country.Merkel, who stopped in Athens on Tuesday for five hours, said she hoped Greece would remain in the 17-country group that uses the nation eurozone and stressed the government in Athens still had to push through more key cost-cutting reforms. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Quick workouts for men Sponsored Stories Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenixcenter_img “Much of the ground has been covered … There is daily progress,” Merkel said after talks with conservative Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. “This is an effort that should be seen through because otherwise it would make the circumstances even more dramatic later on.”Paying her first visit to Greece in five years, Merkel’s arrival triggered protests attended by some 50,000 demonstrators in Athens. The rallies were mostly peaceful, but police briefly clashed with several dozen demonstrators and detained more than 50 people throughout the day.Although Merkel damped expectations in Athens of a strong public pledge to keep Greece in the eurozone, Samaras said Merkel’s visit had ended “the country’s international isolation.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments   Share   Check your body, save your life 3 international destinations to visit in 2019last_img read more

Sandinistas win most municipal races in Nicaragua

first_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Associated PressMANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) – The ruling Sandinista Front has won at least 134 of the 153 mayoral races in local elections the opposition and the U.S. government say lacked transparency, according to results released Monday.At least three people have died and dozens more have been injured in clashes between rival political groups since Sunday’s elections, authorities said.Police Commissioner Fernando Borge said two people died in Ciudad Dario, about 28 miles (45 kilometers) north of the capital. Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Daycenter_img Octavio Alvarez, Sandinista Front’s political secretary, said a member of the Sandinista Youth was shot to dead in the town of Nuevo Segovia.With more than 91 percent of the Sunday vote counted, the Sandinistas had 76 percent of the vote, said Roberto Rivas, president of Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council.Led by President Daniel Ortega, who was re-elected for another five-year term last year, the Sandinistas have made major advances in municipal elections. The party currently governs 109 municipalities, including the capital, Managua, where journalist Daysi Torres was re-elected.But the opposition argues there was widespread fraud and the U.S. government said it was concerned the elections were not fully transparent, echoing claims made during local elections four years ago.“We do not believe in the results given by a completely discredited Electoral Council, with no credibility and that plays on the side of (the Sandinistas), and that allows dead people to be listed as candidates,” said Congressman Eliseo Nunez, of the opposition Independent Liberal Party, referring to reports that in several cities in northern and central Nicaragua there were people listed as candidates who had died or live abroad. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day “These disturbing practices have marred multiple recent Nicaraguan elections,” it added.After the 2008 municipal elections in Nicaragua, the U.S. suspended some $64 million in development aid because of the fraud allegations.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 5 treatments for adult scoliosis “We participated because the people should have a choice,” Nunez added. “But we know that everything was rigged and the Electoral Council did what Daniel Ortega ordered.”In the town of La Paz Centro, supporters of the Sandinista Front and those of the Liberal Independent Party fought each other and anti-riot police with stones, tear gas and rubber bullets.“Opponents do not know how to lose. They have burned and destroyed public buildings in acts of vandalism that must be punished,” said Lesbia Abarca, mayor of the town located 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Managua.Before polling stations opened on Sunday, the opposition denounced the voting lists were confusing and had been altered. They also claimed supporters of the Sandinista Front were allowed to vote twice.The U.S. State Department in a statement expressed concern that the elections “failed to demonstrate a degree of transparency that would assure Nicaraguans and the international community that the process faithfully reflected the will of the Nicaraguan people.”Irregularities observed on election day included citizens being denied the right to vote, a failure to respect the secrecy of citizens’ votes, and reported cases of voters being allowed to vote multiple times, it said. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectlast_img read more

Archaeologists explore site on SyriaTurkey border

first_imgWhen a British team began work in 1911, the undivided area was part of the weakening Ottoman Empire. Germans nearby were constructing the Berlin-Baghdad railway, which traverses the ancient site along the border. Archaeologist C.L. Woolley and his assistant, Lawrence, found basalt and limestone slabs carved with soldiers, chariots, animals and kings; many are displayed today in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, the Turkish capital. The remains of palaces and temples were also uncovered.A 1913 photograph shows Woolley and Lawrence at Karkemish. They appear to squint in harsh sunlight. Lawrence’s hands rest, partly clenched, over his bare knees. He wears Western dress.Lawrence wrote letters about making casts of Hittite inscriptions, mending pottery, photographing items, settling “blood feuds” among workers on the dig, a foray into gun-running in Beirut, and a sense of wonder on a visit to nearby Aleppo, today the scene of fierce battles in Syria’s civil war.“Aleppo is all compact of colour, and sense of line: you inhale Orient in lungloads, and glut your appetite with silks and dyed fantasies of clothes,” he wrote. “Today there came in through the busiest vault in the bazaar a long caravan of 100 mules of Baghdad, marching in line rhythmically to the boom of two huge iron bells swinging under the belly of the foremost.” Sponsored Stories The British only excavated a small area of Karkemish, and the Turkish military occupation shielded the site from smugglers, suggesting its archaeological potential remains vast. Despite the many finds, there are gaps in the understanding of the city’s chronology.Philologist Hasan Peker of Istanbul University, deputy director of the project, said he hoped to find the city’s “royal archives” dating from the height of the Hittite empire more than 3,000 years ago. The team has asked the Turkish military for access to the acropolis, where a watch tower stands.A demining agency from Azerbaijan helped Turkey to remove anti-tank and anti-personnel mines around Karkemish under a program to rid the nation’s borders of minefields, mostly near Syria. There remains a statistical risk of mine blasts, however remote. The new team, which includes university students, sticks to approved paths. Plans for tourist facilities include paths with rails on both sides to ensure the safety of visitors.In 2009 and 2010, professor Tony Wilkinson, an archaeologist at Durham University in Britain, participated in a survey of the Syrian side of Karkemish. He could not return in 2011 because of the uprising. As late as May this year, Wilkinson said, Syrian colleagues from the archaeological museum in Aleppo reported that they were checking the Karkemish site. At around the same time, the Syrian uprising against President Bashar Assad was escalating. More than 100,000 Syrian refugees are sheltering in Turkish camps, and cross-border shelling last month sharpened tension between Syria and Turkey, which backs the rebellion along with its Western and Arab allies. Nuh Kocaslan, mayor of the nearby Turkish town of Karkamis, said he hoped the Syrian war would end “as soon as possible so that our region can find calm,” and that the area urgently needs revenue from tourists, barred for now from Karkemish because it is designated a military zone.Archaeologists say they felt secure during a 10-week season of excavation on the Turkish side of Karkemish that ended in late October. One big eruption of gunfire from the Syrian side turned out to be part of a wedding celebration. The team arrived in August, one month after Syrian insurgents ousted troops from the Syrian border town of Jarablous. A Syrian government airstrike near Jarablous killed at least eight people that same month.About one-third of the 90-hectare (222-acre) archaeological site lies inside Syria and is therefore off-limits; construction and farming in Jarablous have encroached on what was the outer edge of the ancient city. Most discoveries have been made on what is now Turkish territory. Associated PressISTANBUL (AP) – Few archaeological sites seem as entwined with conflict, ancient and modern, as the city of Karkemish.The scene of a battle mentioned in the Bible, it lies smack on the border between Turkey and Syria, where civil war rages today. Twenty-first century Turkish sentries occupy an acropolis dating back more than 5,000 years, and the ruins were recently demined. Visible from crumbling, earthen ramparts, a Syrian rebel flag flies in a town that regime forces fled just months ago. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement A Turkish-Italian team is conducting the most extensive excavations there in nearly a century, building on the work of British Museum teams that included T.E. Lawrence, the adventurer known as Lawrence of Arabia. The plan is to open the site along the Euphrates river to tourists in late 2014.The strategic city, its importance long known to scholars because of references in ancient texts, was under the sway of Hittites and other imperial rulers and independent kings. However, archaeological investigation there was halted by World War I, and then by hostilities between Turkish nationalists and French colonizers from Syria who built machine gun nests in its ramparts. Part of the frontier was mined in the 1950s, and in later years, creating deadly obstacles to archaeological inquiry at a site symbolic of modern strife and intrigue.“All this is very powerfully represented by Karkemish,” said Nicolo’ Marchetti, a professor of archaeology and art history of the Ancient Near East at the University of Bologna. He is the project director at Karkemish, where the Turkish military let archaeologists resume work last year for the first time since its troops occupied the site about 90 years ago. Since then, fierce fighting has swept Aleppo. Contact has faded. Last month, Wilkinson received a nighttime telephone call from Syria.“It didn’t get through. They tried to call me and I tried to call back,” he said. “Communications with Syria are very, very difficult.”___Suzan Fraser contributed from Ankara, Turkey.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Four benefits of having a wireless security system Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Lawrence later acquired fame for his role in an Arab revolt against the Ottomans, who allied with the Germans during World War I. Photographs of Lawrence in Arab garb, his later writing, and eventually the cinema epic “Lawrence of Arabia” elevated his legend.The Bible’s Jeremiah refers to Karkemish for a battle there in which the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar II, defeated the Assyrians and their Egyptian allies. Invading forces sacked the city on several other occasions. Irene Winter, an archaeologist who visited Karkemish in 1974 and recently retired from Harvard University, said the place was significant as a “hub of all east-west traffic” and “a powerful, crucial juncture in the topography of movement and trade and military activity.”In the ruins of the excavation house of its British predecessors, the Turkish-Italian team discovered old archaeological tools, statue fragments and a Roman mosaic. Elsewhere, they found a bronze cylinder seal inscribed with hieroglyphs that belonged to a town official and a bronze statuette of a god with a double-horned tiara and a skirt, along with a silver dagger set into the left hand.“You do feel a connection with what has been written, with what has been found and, of course, with the people who were here,” said Marchetti, whose team used a laser scanner to create digital models of artifacts. It got a more complete picture with satellite imagery as well as aerial photos taken from a kite. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Centerlast_img read more

Greeces Tsipras insists very close to deal with lenders

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The latest was announced Friday by DBRS, the Toronto, Canada-based ratings agency, which lowered its sovereign rating for Greece from B to CCC with a negative outlook.“The current downgrade is due to a further increase in uncertainty over whether Greece and its creditors will reach an agreement on a program that restores macroeconomic stability and improves Greece’s cash position,” the agency said.“In the absence of an agreement, financing sources appear to be insufficient to meet Greece’s financing needs over the foreseeable future.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Eurozone creditors and the International Monetary Fund argue that Athens’ proposals are still too vague.Speaking an annual financial conference in Athens, Tsipras said the government had not abandoned its goal to try and persuade lenders to restructure Greece’s debt.“It appears that we have reached common ground with the institutions on a number of issues, and that makes us optimistic that we are really very close to an agreement,” Tsipras said, noting convergence on harmonized sales tax rates and tax administration reforms.“But several issues remain open … I want to reassure the Greek people that there is no chance or possibility for the Greek government to retreat on the issue of wages and pensions. Wage earners and pensioners have suffered enough.”The 40-year-old Tsipras won January elections promising undo austerity measures that stabilized public finances but cause a massive drop in output, triggering a wave of poverty and unemployment.The spat with lenders has already seen Greece slip back into mild recession, and cost the country a troubling drain on bank deposits and a string of ratings downgrades and a troubling drain on bank deposits. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   center_img 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras late Friday said his country’s left-wing government is “very close” to reaching a vital deal with bailout lenders, but insisted there was “no possibility” of giving in to key demands including further cuts to pensions and wages.Tsipras, who marked 100 days in office this week, is struggling to hammer out a deal with lenders that would release final payouts of the current bailout agreement — seen as crucial to avoid a summer default on loan payments. Sponsored Stories 4 must play golf courses in Arizona 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras arrives at a cabinet meeting in central Athens, on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. Officials say Greece has completed a 757 million euro ($844 million) debt payment to the International Monetary Fund, despite an acute cash shortage that could come to a head within the next two weeks. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)last_img read more

Burkina Faso party of ousted president picks new candidate

first_img Comments   Share   “I will be the candidate of the youth, the elders, the women and all generations,” Comboigo said. “We are still the majority in this country.”At least 10 politicians have so far declared their candidacy for the October vote. A new electoral law says anyone who supported Compaore’s bid to stay in office can’t stand in the election, though the party has filed a complaint against transitional authorities over the code with a West African regional court.Addressing his supporters, Comboigo on Saturday also asked for prayers for peace in Burkina Faso, which the head of the transition said in a brief statement Friday night was on the brink of “chaos and disorder.”A chief source of tension is an ongoing dispute between transition officials and the elite Presidential Security Regiment, which has called for the resignation of the prime minister — a former second-in-command of the unit — and three ministers who are also soldiers.Michel Kafando, the transition president, said any “adventurers” looking to disrupt the transition process could face international courts.A new body that includes traditional and religious leaders has been set up to try to facilitate dialogue between military officials and leaders in the transitional government. Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Burkina Faso’s ruling party on Saturday nominated a former lawmaker as its presidential candidate in a vote scheduled for October, one year after a popular uprising forced longtime President Blaise Compaore to resign and flee the country.Eddie Comboigo, an accountant, accepted the nomination Saturday at a packed stadium in the capital, Ouagadougou. During his speech, he asked for a standing ovation for Compaore, whom he credited with having set Burkina Faso on a path to modernity during his 27 years in office despite widespread complaints about corruption and misrule. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img read more

ACCC clears DeltaVirgin tieup now waiting for US approval

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=ada84479″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> The Australian consumer watchdog yesterday formally approved the tie-up between Delta Air Lines and Virgin Blue’s V Australia on the trans-Pacific route.Having given the two carriers a preliminary thumbs up early in November, this ruling was widely expected, and the two airlines are now one step closer to their operational tie-up, with the only hurdle now being approval from the United States regulators.“The ACCC considers that the joint venture is likely to assist Virgin and Delta to compete more effectively against the incumbents on the routes – Qantas and United Airlines,” said Graeme Samuel, ACCC Chairman.A decision from the US Department of Transportation on seeking antitrust immunity is pending, but as the deal is similar to the already approved partnership between Delta and Air France-KLM on the Atlantic, it doesn’t appear as if regulators will move to block it.“Delta and V Australia are eager to move forward with their joint venture, and to bring new services to the market,” said Delta Air Lines in a statement.“We look forward to a similar decision from the U.S. Department of Transportation and urge the DOT to quickly conclude its review so consumers can begin to enjoy the important benefits of the alliance identified by the ACCC.”If approved the joint venture on the trans-Pacific will see Delta operate its B777-200LRs in conjunction with V Australia’s B777-300ERs.last_img read more

Virgin Blue orders 105 planes

first_imgVirgin Blue announced today its signing of an agreement with Boeing for its largest order of aircraft ever.It has signed for up to 105 brand new 737 aircraft, completing nine months of negotiations between the carrier and the aircraft manufacturer.The order includes 50 firm B737-800NG aircraft, with flexibility to convert to either B737-700 or B737-900, 25 additional firm delivery positions secured as options and 30 future purchase rights. Virgin Blue did not disclose the pricing of the aircraft but said that it expected to finalise its funding arrangements for the aircraft soon.Delivery is scheduled from June 2011 through to 2017, the carrier said.The new aircraft is expected to replace Virgin Blue’s existing narrow body fleet, while the remainder will be deployed to new routes and boost frequency where demand dictates.“Securing this agreement now places Virgin Blue in a strong position to prepare for steady future growth as domestic and short haul markets recover” said Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey in a statement.“It will also ensure a turnover of aircraft to maintain the youngest fleet of modern aircraft which is crucial for maintaining our commitment to on-time performance and the lowest cost base possible.” <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.Llast_img read more

Social media and travel industry white paper seeks opinions

first_imgA brand new white paper is being collated addressing how social media is being implemented and created in the Asia Pacific’s travel industry, and its calling for industry players to voice their opinion.Conducted by digital agency water&stone in conjunction with e-Travel Blackboard, the research behind the report is being conducted through two parts, face-to-face interviews as well as online surveys.For the online survey section, researchers are calling on all tourism operators who utilize social media in their brand advertising to participate in an online survey to gauge just how engaged they are with their clients.In return, an advance copy of the final 2010 Asia Travel Engagement Report will be distributed to those surveyed.“We chose to focus on the travel industry because the sector has proven to be a leader and an early adopter of online marketing channels,” Ric Shreves, water&stone partner and white paper lead analyst.“From our examination of social media channels, travel is clearly at the forefront in terms of adoption and innovation.”water&stone along with media sponsors e-Travel Blackboard will launch the paper at the upcoming EyeForTravel Travel Distribution Summit held in Singapore.Those interested in participating in the survey and receive an advance copy of the white paper should follow this link. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

Tiger axes more routes

first_imgTiger Airways has announced the suspension of four more routes as it looks to restore reliability and “improve punctuality” by simplifying its Australian network. From 1 August 2011, the airline will no longer operate its Melbourne to Mackay and Melbourne to Rockhampton services as well as its Brisbane to Sydney and Sydney to Sunshine Coast routes, with affected passengers to be provided with full refunds.The latest changes follow the announcement by Tiger last week that the low-cost carrier would be axing its services from Avalon to Adelaide, Brisbane and Gold Coast as it relocates one of its aircraft to Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport.          “We know that our customers expect an on-time flight as well as a great fare from Tiger Airways,” Tiger Airways Australia chief executive Crawford Rix said. “These network changes will both streamline and simplify our Australian operations, enabling us to focus on combining our low fares with improved punctuality.”Without crew bases in New South Wales and Queensland, and with flights to Mackay and Rockhampton negatively affected in recent months by rising oil prices and natural disasters, Tiger has admitted that operating punctual flights had been more challenging than it had anticipated.“The changes that we are making to our flying programme will enable as to improve punctuality across our network and we are hopeful that as we grow the airline we will be able to restore services on the affected routes in the near future,” Mr Rix said.Spanning every state and territory, Tiger will continue to operate 14 routes across Australia. Tiger wants to ‘streamline and simplify’ its Australian operations Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H.last_img read more

Jetstar in court over discrimination case

first_imgJetstar is appearing in a Federal court this week, in a matter concerning passenger Sheila King who is seeking a declaration that the airlines two’s wheelchair policy is discriminatory.Ms King claims that Jetstar’s policy contravenes the Disability Discrimination Act, since she was denied access to a flight in 2008 on the basis that the flight already had two passengers needing wheelchair assistance.As a result of a motor accident, Ms King, who is 75 years old has post –polio syndrome and a crushed vertebrae.Ms King said she is not seeking financial compensation, rather is fighting this case to ensure Australian’s living with a disability are treated the same as everyone else.”I deserve to be treated the same as any other Australian, not made to be felt like a second class citizen.” Ms King said.“This fight is for all Australians living with a disability.”Redfern Legal Centre chief executive Joanna Shulman said, Australia is the only country which limits the number of passengers with disabilities travelling on the same aircraft at the same time.”People with Disabilities are entitled to enjoy equality of access to air travel, in order to ensure they are able to participate fully in society”, Ms Shulman said.Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes AM has raised serious concerns about Jetstar’s policy at a Senate Estimates Hearing last week and has requested for tougher regulation. Jetstar in court over discrimination case Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.Plast_img read more

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