Comments Share CAIRO (AP) — The words of the pro-government TV talk show host left no room for debate. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is synonymous with Egypt, he lectured his audience, and Egyptians are either on his side or are enemies of the nation.“Whoever has a problem living in this country should grab his passport and leave,” said the TV host, Tamer Amin, telling viewers no one should complain about price hikes, power outages or other problems. “No one is certain now that we are on the right path or that there is hope at the end of a long tunnel,” prominent analyst Abdullah el-Sinawy, known for being close to the military, wrote last week in a column that harshly scrutinized el-Sissi’s legacy so far.El-Sissi “does not have a magic wand to solve the insurmountable problems,” el-Sinawy wrote, but he said el-Sissi should do more to break with the Mubarak era. He pointed to how Mubarak-era businessmen have regained the power and impunity they enjoyed under the former president.El-Sissi became Egypt’s most powerful figure when, as army chief, he led the July 2013 military ouster of the country’s first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi, after massive public protests against Morsi and the political domination of his Muslim Brotherhood. A bloody crackdown ensued, killing hundreds of Islamists.Praised by many Egyptians as a hero for “rescuing” the country from the Brotherhood, el-Sissi vowed from the start to bring security and repair the economy, saying outright that demands for rights and needless political debate cannot be allowed to undermine those goals. That message vaulted him into the presidency in elections, and he was inaugurated on June 8, 2014. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Meeting recently with party leaders, el-Sissi said parliamentary elections would be held by the end of the year, according to his spokesman. But he also told them he would be prepared to back a coalition encompassing all the parties, suggesting he does not want an opposition bloc in the next legislature.“The nation’s legislative institution has disappeared, political party activism is suspended and no one is left on the scene except the president,” wrote Cairo university political scientist Ahmed Abed-Rabbo in a recent article.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. “The inclination (by the judiciary) has consistently been to reach a guilty verdict, not acquittals,” said Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, who represents the defendants.Further intimidating any critics, prosecutors now aggressively investigate almost any complaint raised by “concerned citizens” against people suspected of supporting Islamists, criticizing the judiciary, the presidency or religion — all potentially criminal acts.Flashing the four-finger sign symbolizing support for the Brotherhood, now outlawed and labeled a terrorist group, has led to trials and jail sentences. With authorities concerned about showing they back public piety even as they crack down on Islamists, writing irreverently on Islam or shows of atheism online have been a cause for arrest.El-Sissi’s rise to power was accompanied by a wave of nationalism not seen in Egypt since the country’s wars with Israel between 1948 and 1973. The sentiment has been kept alive with seemingly endless allegations that the Brotherhood is secretly favored by the United States or that secular pro-democracy activists are paid by foreign powers to destabilize Egypt.A populist with a knack for melodramatic gestures, el-Sissi feeds this nationalist sentiment with personal touches of his own and repeated warnings that Egypt faced a host of existential threats. His slogan “long live Egypt” often concludes his speeches — and has even been painted on his presidential plane. Sponsored Stories El-Sissi has been able to bring some improvements to the economy. Egypt’s relations with the United States and Europe have improved after a period of tension, a change attributed in large part to el-Sissi’s stand against Islamic militancy in the region. El-Sissi’s Egypt also has moved closer to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, bringing billions of dollars in badly needed aid.El-Sissi has accompanied his tough stand on militancy with calls for far reaching reform in Islam’s discourse to weed out extremism and replace it with moderate practices. He has been a driving force behind ongoing efforts to create a joint Arab military force to fight extremism.Security has been more difficult to establish. Army and police are battling Islamic militants concentrated in the strategic Sinai Peninsula, and there are frequent bombings — usually small but sometimes deadly — against security forces in Cairo and other parts of the country.That “war on terrorism” has allowed a freer hand to security agencies and fuels the overwhelming message on television stations that now is not the time for dissent.Die-hard supporters in the media demonize critics, accusing them of treason or being on the payroll of foreign powers. One private TV channel has aired recordings of private telephone conversations by political activists and rights campaigners, apparently leaked by security officials, to discredit them. TV hosts — or even shows — seen as insufficiently supportive of the government have been taken off the air. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober A year after the general-turned-politician took office in a landslide election win, el-Sissi largely has silenced political opposition and is trying to run the country as a one-man show, a far cry from the democracy millions dreamed of when they toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a stunning 2011 uprising.A nation of some 90 million people, Egypt has had no parliament since 2012, political parties are quiescent and elections for a new legislature have been repeatedly delayed — meaning there’s little concrete debate on policy. Laws simply are issued by the presidency.Police and powerful security agencies act with near impunity against opponents or those trying to engage in unwelcome political activity. Rights activists report a return of torture, abuses and arbitrary arrests surpassing even the 29-year Mubarak era. A strict law against protests in place since late 2013 effectively silenced street demonstrations.The judiciary also has backed the security agencies’ heavy hand in ways unseen under Mubarak’s rule. Courts hand out mass death sentences — about 1,500 so far by some estimates — against Islamists, thousands of whom are in prison in a nearly 2-year-old crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Secular and leftist pro-democracy activists are jailed as well, some given long prison sentences for even small, peaceful protests. He still seems to enjoy strong popularity among large sectors of the population who see him as the only figure strong enough to lead. What grumbling that has become public largely come from supporters like el-Sinawi, warning him that he needs to show progress and change.Some have debated whether el-Sissi supports the silencing of dissent or can’t impose his will on the many centers of power in the Egyptian state, which he needs for support and which have their own agendas — like the judiciary, the media, wealthy businessmen and the security agencies.“State institutions are the most powerful and dangerous opposition to el-Sissi,” read the headline of a column this week by Ibrahim Issa, a prominent commentator close to the government.“What the president says and what happens on the ground are two different things,” Issa wrote in the Al-Maqal newspaper.Issa’s assertion highlights the strength and resilience of Egypt’s “deep state,” the term many pro-democracy activists use for the powerful state bodies like the military, police and judiciary that have their own independent power and interests. El-Sissi is no outsider to the deep state, but his repeated demands for change and hard work and warnings that prosperity won’t come overnight could run against those institutions’ interests. Check your body, save your life Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility FILE – In this Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, file photo, provided by the Egyptian Presidency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi waves during a visit to the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt. A year after the general-turned-politician took office after a landslide election win, el-Sissi has effectively shut down politics and is running the country as a one-man show, a far cry from the democracy millions dreamed of when they toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a stunning 2011 uprising. (Egyptian Presidency via AP, File) Non-governmental organizations, which had a relatively wide leeway under Mubarak, are now under heavy security scrutiny and in some cases have halted any controversial activities. Multiple international rights organizations have left the country.Prominent rights lawyer Negad Borai was questioned three times by prosecutors over the past two weeks because he and other activists drew up a proposed law against torture and sent it to el-Sissi’s office for consideration. Two senior judges who were briefly consulted on the draft are likely to be disciplined by judiciary authorities.“Our predicament is deep. In Egypt, the only crime that goes unpunished is torture,” Borai said.Some supporters of el-Sissi have called for the anti-protest law, which requires that any demonstration get prior police approval, be lifted or amended. But el-Sissi has staunchly stood by it. The law’s proponents argue it prevents the constant protests that had disrupted life since 2011.After one court recently issued a rare acquittal of a group of activists charged under the law, prosecutors immediately appealed in a show of the state’s zero tolerance policy. The activists had been charged because of a small Cairo gathering in January in which one participant — a young mother — was shot dead by police. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies
Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help As many as 10,000 dogs, many of them stolen pets, are slaughtered for the festival held deep inside the largely rural and poor Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.Adam Parascandola, director of animal protection and crisis response at the Washington D.C.-based charity Humane Society International, said he and Chinese activists had witnessed dogs being maltreated in a Yulin slaughterhouse on Sunday morning.“A man would go in the cage with a club and just start clubbing the dogs, just beating them and beating them, not killing them at that point … the dogs are screaming and trying to get away and it’s really heartbreaking.”He said he was struck by “the huge variety of breeds” of live dogs, delivered on the backs of scooters and trucks, on sale at a market. “I saw a Dalmatian and a chow and many dogs wearing collars that indicated the likelihood they were stolen pets,” he said.Apparently concerned about the adverse publicity, the local government disavows any ties to the event, issuing a statement saying it did not officially sponsor or promote the festival. It said authorities would tightly control public order and punish any incidents of stealing or poisoning dogs. Traders would no longer be permitted to slaughter dogs in public, place carcasses on display or serve meals outdoors, it said. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall ___AP news assistant Henry Hou contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Despite such restrictions, restaurant owners said the festival continued to attract enthusiasts for the dish.“Eating dog meat is a local tradition, it has nothing to do with the local government,” said a receptionist at the Longmen Dog Meat Restaurant reached by phone.Parascandola said he had met people who had traveled to Yulin to try and save dogs by buying them, but that the festival was proving popular and there were lines outside many of the restaurants as people waited for seats.Celebrities such as British comedian Ricky Gervais and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen have called for an end to the festival, and more than 3 million people have signed petitions protesting it, according to Shareeza Bhola, communications manager for change.org.Dog lover Yang Xiaoyun traveled from her hometown, Tianjin, in northern China to Yulin and spent about 7,000 yuan ($1,150) over the weekend buying up 100 dogs at a market to save them, news website 163.com reported.Dog is eaten in some parts of China but is not a common dish. Owning dogs as pets was discouraged under early Communist Party rule but has become increasingly popular among the Chinese public, especially the urban middle class. Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober BEIJING (AP) — Restaurateurs in a southern Chinese town held an annual dog meat festival Monday despite international criticism of the event as cruel and unhygienic.The Yulin government distanced itself from the festival and announced new restrictions, but eateries reached by telephone reported brisk business during the event ostensibly held to mark the summer solstice.Restaurant owners say eating dog meat is traditional during the summer, while animal rights activists say the festival has no cultural value and was merely invented to drum up business. 0 Comments Share Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk
The vital role family plays in society The cause of the accident is under investigation.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies BEIJING (AP) — A shoe factory collapsed in eastern China during a weekend shift, killing at least 11 people and injuring more than 30, officials said Sunday.Three other people were missing in the collapse Saturday afternoon in the Zhejiang province city of Wenling, and nine people escaped.Rescuers pulled 42 people from the rubble and sent them to a hospital, where nine of them died, the Wenling city government said on its microblog. They pulled two bodies from the wreckage on Sunday. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Comments Share Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of
A formal presentation by Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) chief executive Kevin Bowler may have been the most unusual inclusion at ATE this week, but it was not the least fitting. The invitation to attend ATE, extended by Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy, was inspired by the common thread of recent hardships inflicted on the two countries, namely the devastating Christchurch earthquakes and the Queensland floods and hurricanes, and represented a gesture of cooperation between the trans-tasman neighbours. Speaking to media at the event, Mr Bowler said despite Christchurch having “recently turned a corner”, the city was still “not months, but many, many years” away from making a full recovery. “From a tourism perspective, other then the loss of many historic buildings and sites, there’s also a significant reduction in accommodation,” Mr Bowler said. “We think about two-thirds of the beds that were there at the end of last year are no longer operable, with the hotel and backpacker sectors the most severely affected.” With most tourism businesses in Christchurch open again, Mr Bowler said the biggest challenge remained spreading the message that the rest of NZ was unaffected by the earthquakes. “Social media, citizen journalists, celebrity bloggers all have a role in getting this message out there,” Mr Bowler said. “Other people telling the message is more credible than us.”With NZ still anticipating 85,000 visitors for this year’s Rugby World Cup, Mr Bowler believes that “there is every reason for NZ to be optimistic”. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H TA MD Andrew McEvoy and TNZ CEO Kevin Bowler
Airports of Thailand chairman Sita Divari said 35 flights had to circle above the airport, waiting for the landing, experiencing average delays of 14 minutes. Plane skids off runway, some BKK flights delayed. Image: AFP A Thai Airways plane has skidded off the runway in Bangkok after a landing gear malfunction, causing delays for approximately 80 flights operating to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport. “Sparks were noticed from the vicinity of the right landing gear near the engine; the matter is under investigation,” a Thai Airways spokesperson said. Source = ETB News: P.T. “About 14 people were slightly injured when they escaped down the emergency slides,” Thai Airways president Sorajak Kasemsuvan said. The carrier said it would take about 24 hours to remove the aircraft, which has caused approximately 80 aircraft to suffer flight delays. The captain took control of the aircraft after the malfunction, until it came to a complete stop and passengers were evacuated from the aircraft emergency exits. The Airbus 330-300, carrying 288 passengers and 14 crew members, was travelling from Guangzhou to Bangkok on Sunday when the incident occurred, the South China Morning Post reported. “They were sent to hospital but most of them received treatment and were discharged.”
The Expedia group has revealed how travellers from different countries prefer to pay for their hotel stays using data collected from the Expedia Traveller PreferenceTM (ETP) program.The ETP program allows travellers to choose whether they would like pay for their hotel reservation at the time of booking or at the time of their stay.The data analysis shows when given the payment choices for hotel stays in Australia, up to 75 per cent of travellers from Western Europe, the United States and Asia preferred paying at the time of booking.On the other hand, the payment preference of travellers from Australia, New Zealand and China was approximately split in half either way.The Expedia group data reveals hotels that have enabled the ETP program have, on average, seen an increase of approximately ten percentage points to their net room night production.Expedia senior director of market management Australia and New Zealand David Hamblin said the payment choice has been successful in increasing bookings on Expedia sites.“In addition to the benefits for hotel partners, ETP is also great for travellers who get to choose whether to pay for their hotel stay at the time they book, or at the time of their stay, and this functionality is now live on Wotif.com for participating hotels,” Mr Hamblin said.“We are pleased to offer Wotif customers more travel options than ever before, including access to approximately 435,000 hotels and a choice of when to pay for their hotel stay for hotels that elect to participate in ETP.“This is all with the elimination of the hotel booking, change and cancellation fees Wotif previously charged.”Almost 4,000 hotels in Australia and New Zealand currently operate the ETP program, including Hotel Grand Chancellor.Hotel Grand Chancellor group marketing manager Australia and New Zealand Hazel Rigler said implementing the ETP program has had a positive impact on the hotel’s business.“Expedia Traveller Preference allows us to deliver better service by offering customers the choice of payment, helping attract more domestic and international visitors to stay in our hotels,” Ms Rigler said.Source = ETB Travel News: Brittney Levinson
Taste of Sydney winning dish – Wallaby skewers with spiced cashew sauceEtihad Airways crowns winner of ‘Taste the World’Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates and official airline partner of Taste of Sydney, crowned Harry Stockdale-Powell, from Bouche on Bridge, winner of the Taste the World competition in Sydney on 12 March.The Taste the World award is presented to the chef who best epitomises Etihad Airways’ food philosophy, which aims to provide remarkable culinary experiences throughout the entire guest journey. Each chef entry was judged independently by an expert panel which comprised an Etihad Airways Inflight chef, a Taste expert and Sydney-based food media. Harry Stockdale-Powell will receive return flights and accommodation courtesy of Etihad Airways to participate in the competition’s global final – Taste of Abu Dhabi – in November 2017. He will compete at the Etihad Airways Taste the World Theatre, representing Sydney and Bouche on Bridge.The winning Taste the World dish at Taste of Sydney was Wallaby skewers with a spiced cashew sauce, which featured wild Tasmanian Wallaby tenderloins marinated and cooked over charcoal and served with a spiced cashew sauce.Harry Stockdale-Powell, Executive Chef at Bouche on Bridge said: “It’s an honour to be chosen as Taste the World winner this past weekend. I can’t wait to represent Taste of Sydney at the finals in November, and I’m stoked to be showcasing the best Australian produce in Abu Dhabi.”Patrick Pierce, Vice President Marketing and Partnerships, at Etihad Airways, said: “Etihad Airways is thrilled to see Harry Stockdale-Powell win the Taste the World Award. He demonstrated innovative cooking techniques and use of ingredients to create a truly remarkable dish. We look forward to welcoming Harry to our home at Taste of Abu Dhabi in November.“Etihad Airways draws inspiration from the best restaurants and emerging chefs from culinary capitals worldwide, and serves cuisine both on the ground and in the air with the style and sophistication that has become synonymous with the Etihad Airways brand.”Justin Clarke, Director of Taste Festivals Ltd, said: “We are delighted to be in partnership with Etihad Airways. Their commitment to being the world’s leading culinary airline is both exciting and a testament to the logical brand fit between Etihad Airways and Taste Festivals. We look forward to working with Etihad and the Taste the World winners as they continue to inspire and innovate.”Murray Reason, Etihad Airways Inflight Chef, commented on the elite competition: “The level of originality showcased by all chefs as part of Taste the World is something to be celebrated. I commend them for their culinary merits and their inspirational passion for the profession. I am very much looking forward to the finals in our home, Abu Dhabi, later this year.” Etihad Airways operates a total of 42 weekly flights from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to Abu Dhabi, where passengers can connect to onward flights to more than 100 destinations worldwide. For more information on Etihad Airways or to book, please visit etihad.comSource = Etihad Airways
THAI Cancels Flights from Bangkok-DenpasarTHAI Cancels Flights from Bangkok-DenpasarThai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) cancelled flights from Bangkok-Denpasar in Bali as the erupting Mount Agung volcano on Bali Island, situated 75 kilometers far from Denpasar International Airport, caused volcanic ash clouds to hover over the air space vicinity. As a result, Denpasar International Airport on Bali Island announced that the airport will be temporarily closed from 27 November 2017 at 07.00 hours (06.00 Indochina Time) until 28 November 2017 at 07.00 hours (local time) and all airlines ceased flight departures and arrivals for safety reasons. This situation affected THAI’s flights; and on 27-30 November 2017, the Company cancelled flight TG431 on the route Bangkok-Denpasar and flight TG432 on the route Denpasar- Bangkok. THAI will continue to closely monitor and assess the situation at Mount Agung. If the conditions on Bali Island improve and THAI is able to conduct flights safely, THAI will resume normal flight operations from Bangkok to Denpasar accordingly.Normally, THAI operates one flight daily to and from Bangkok-Denpasar in Bali. Flight TG431 departs from Suvarnabhumi Airport at 08.50 hours and arrives in Denpasar at 14.15 hours (local time) and the return flight TG432 departs from Denpasar International Airport at 16.10 hours (local time) and arrives at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 19.25 hours.The Company requests that passengers who require to depart on flights mentioned in the Company’s announcements keep abreast of news and check the flight schedule on the website thaiairways.com or call the THAI Contact Center at Tel. 02-356-1111, 24-hours a day. THAI will waive the fee for changing any roundtrip tickets for its flights on the Bangkok-Denpasar route that are traveling during 27 November-10 December 2017. Passengers may contact THAI Contact Center at Tel. 02-356-1111 or THAI travel agents for changing tickets.Source = Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI)
Qatar Airways reconfirms and upsizesQatar Airways reconfirms and upsizesQatar Airways has reconfirmed and upsized its earlier order for 50 A320neo with a firm order instead for 50 of the larger A321neo ACF (Airbus Cabin Flex configuration), in an order signed today in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, and French President Mr. Emmanuel Macron. The order was signed by Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, and Mr. Fabrice Brégier, Airbus Chief Operating Officer and President Commercial Aircraft during the French President’s visit to Doha.The selection of the largest member of Airbus’ single family reflects the airline’s need for efficiency and additional capacity. This updated order replaces the original one placed in 2011.Joining Qatar Airways’ fleet of 50 A320neo from 2019 onwards, the A321neo ACF will support the continuous development of Qatar Airways’ global network leveraging from the A321neo range capability and the unprecedented customer experience. The total value of the deal is at $6.35 billion at list prices.Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “At a time when Qatar Airways is experiencing unprecedented growth and expansion, the need for efficient, reliable and modern aircraft has never been greater. To answer our need for growth and additional capacity, the A321neo ACF is a world-class choice for our passengers and for our business. Qatar Airways is the fastest growing airline in the world and with this aircraft we will operate the youngest fleet whilst delivering unprecedented comfort and services to our customers.”Mr. Fabrice Brégier, Airbus Chief Operating Officer and President Commercial Aircraft, said: “We are pleased that a signature airline like Qatar Airways has chosen the A321neo ACF. This is an endorsement for the largest member of our single aisle family. It confirms the aircraft’s strong position as the ideal Middle of the Market airplane for the Middle East. We look forward to seeing the A321neo ACF flying in Qatar Airways colours and to contributing to the airline’s continued success and excellence.”Qatar Airways is known for flying one of the youngest fleets in the sky and in 2015 welcomed the Airbus A350-900 into its fleet as Global Launch Customer. The airline will soon welcome the Airbus A350-1000, also as Global Launch Customer. The airline’s modern fleet was one of the reasons passengers voted it as Skytrax Airline of the Year 2017, for the fourth time.The A321 is the largest member of the A320 Family, seating up to 240 passengers. Incorporating the latest engines, aerodynamic advances, and cabin innovations, the A321neo offers a significant reduction in fuel consumption of at least 15 per cent per seat from day one and 20 per cent by 2020.The A321neo ACF introduces new door and fuselage enhancements, allowing airlines to make better use of the cabin space and also provide provision for more underfloor fuel capacity for up to 4,000nm transatlantic range.The A320neo Family incorporates the very latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklets, which together deliver at least 15 per cent fuel savings at delivery and 20 per cent by 2020. With more than 5,200 orders received from 95 customers since its launch in 2010, the A320neo Family has captured some 60 per cent share of the market. Qatar Airways proudly flies the flag of the State of Qatar to more than 150 destinations worldwide, bringing people to Doha from every corner of the globe via the award-winning, state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport (HIA).The national carrier of the State of Qatar is one of the fastest-growing airlines operating one of the youngest fleets in the world. Now in its 20th year of operations, Qatar Airways has a modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft flying to business and leisure destinations across six continents.Qatar Airways will be adding flights to many more exciting destinations to its network throughout the remainder of this year and 2018, including St. Petersburg, Russia; Canberra, Australia; and Cardiff, UK, to name just a few.Source = Qatar Airways
What you mean I have to add tax? I’m coming to the opinion that Australia is the only country in the world that the price you see is the price you pay. It really upsets people when there is a random 17% added onto the bill. Read the fine print. Expect it. What do you mean you need my credit card? The person at the front desk doesn’t know you, neither does the hotel, a simple swipe means that if you do empty the minibar and run away, they’re covered. Not withstanding the odd screw up, the angst this causes is INSANE! If you pax are asking these questions, it’s time to lift your game.Travel begins once I’ve dropped my bags, passed security, verified passport and I relax, breathe and I start observing the world around me with my “travel head” on. The mindset remains until I collect my bag, pass through quarantine and then I’m back into Melbourne mindset.In between I watch, observe, critique and participate. I love process, intrigued by the tricks of the trade. But most of all, my amusement and bemusement comes courtesy of other travellers.Every trip there are numerous points that make me think “they booked this online…. If not, they soon will if the travel agent treats them like this.”Here’s five things your customers should never be saying when they travel. (Hint: find a way to tell them before they go) I am sh%^&ing through the eye of a needle! (heard it over breakfast….way too visual as I pondered scrambled eggs) It happens if you don’t wash your hands, eat the food from the street vendor or drink the water. Eat yoghurt, hand sanitiser, and have a whole stack of drugs ready to go to get you back on your feet. Lomotil anyone?Number five is a prediction… Although I doubt I will hear it because I wont be there That’s not the official exchange rate – you are ripping me off! It sets a benchmark that then gets manipulated by everyone else who handles your money in a non-standard currency. If it’s an airport in India, expect to lose 10% with a smile, and be charged 23% interest for the money advance on top. 18 hours on a plane to get to London in one hop is way too long!! I long for the day when my time is so valuable that getting to Europe needs to be done three hours quicker. A break in the middle for me every timewww.roomsxml.com learn more about roomsXML.com here
learn more about stuba.com here Source = STUBA Room to Grow in the Travel WorkplaceWant more from your “Travel Advisors”? Loosen the yolk; give them room to growThe last few months of life have been challenging, apart from seeing roomsXML merge into a bigger more powerful beast we now call STUBA.Last week was the first time the whole new management team got together as one. Well nearly. For anyone coming to India, you need four blank pages in your passport…Whilst change is the norm, most people find it very hard. Mergers are fascinating from a change perspective. When you get to the “workers” many let down that the boss did not include them in the conversations from day one. You can’t; mergers regularly don’t go ahead on the last week before signatures are meant to hit paper.Then when it starts, it’s full on. Workloads double, structures break, unknown unknowns surface and go boom. Sadly, and with great regrets, some staff are put in positions where the volume of hours, the intensity or the dynamic nature of the evolving workplace is too much to handle.But it’s the most unlikely candidates who see an opportunity. They’ve done what was needed, but kept an eye on what’s going around them and see something nobody else has.What these people saw was room in which they could grow into. They identified a pathway, they assessed their capabilities, inflated their courage and took a leap of faith to say “I want to do more”. It’s in these positions that management go “awesome, you are who we want”The reflections come thick and fast in these periods as the raw material to consider and digest over a few weeks is more than you get in a “normal” 12 months.What its shown me is the opportunity to promote and grow from within. If you have the right people, and you can create space for them to grow into, have faith that their successes will significantly outweigh the mistakes, you can kickstart theirs and the company’s growth .Watching Pune, India, come to life on my 1.9 km walk to the office each morning has given me much chance to develop a greater appreciation of life as well as the people that I am to share it with day in day out.In one of the greatest industries in the world – travel.www.stuba.com
Aeromexico’s chatbot helping passengers with baggageAeromexico’s chatbot helping passengers with baggageAeromexico, Mexico’s global airline, is the first in the world to integrate SITA WorldTracer® baggage tracing service with its passenger chatbot. Using sophisticated artificial intelligence, Aeromexico will now be able to efficiently serve its customers via its chatbot to respond to queries about the location of their baggage.A major international airline, with 22 million passengers and flights to 93 destinations, including 50 international routes on three continents, Aeromexico prides itself on excellent customer service. It’s chatbot, called Aerobot, is a big hit with customers who can use it on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Currently, the chatbot handles more than 90% of the customer queries that come through those platforms.Now, Aerobot will also be able to help Aeromexico’s passengers locate their luggage via SITA WorldTracer, the only global baggage tracing and matching system. The passenger simply enters some baggage information and Aerobot connects them to the latest status of their missing bag on WorldTracer, without the need for agent intervention.Edouard Piquet, Senior Vice President Customer Experience, Aeromexico, said: “At Aeromexico we strive to serve our customers in the way that is most comfortable and practical for them. Integrating SITA’s service will help us increase our efforts and will lead us to the right path in order to respond efficiently to passengers and get them reunited with their bags as quickly as possible. Thanks to this technology we will be the first airline in the world to offer misplaced baggage assistance via WhatsApp. Clients can check the status of their luggage in real time through Aerobot, which is a result of our continuous commitment to offer the best to our clients.”Uriel Torres, SITA Director General, Mexico and Central America, said: “Aeromexico is the first airline to harness artificial intelligence to improve its baggage services by delivering the SITA WorldTracer services via its customer chatbot. Using our WorldTracer API the service integrates quickly and easily providing the chatbot with the latest data available. We expect that this will be the first of many international airlines using our baggage service technology with artificial intelligence for a better passenger experience.”Across the globe, passengers are happy to use technology to improve their journey. The SITA 2019 Passenger IT Insights, published this week, shows that passengers are demanding more services in relation to their baggage and where these are available, satisfaction levels have surged. When asked, a majority of passengers said they would use mobile notifications to get information about their baggage at arrival and use their mobiles to track their bags or to report mishandled baggage.SITA is the world leader in baggage management including bag tracking and tracing. Its services are used in every major airport in the world. WorldTracer is a global tracing system that matches lost and found baggage. It allows airlines and ground handlers to find and repatriate lost baggage as quickly as possible. Its API provides a seamless web services interface for customers wishing to build their own applications. Today, more than 500 airlines and ground handlers at over 2,800 airports worldwide use SITA WorldTracer.Source = SITA
In order to help tourists from overseas get the most out of their trip to Japan, free Wi-Fi spots and Wi-Fi services that are only available to tourists from overseas are spreading rapidly in Japan. Wi-Fi service is a must-have tool for a pleasant trip nowadays. Whether it’s collecting information on tourist attractions or posting photos of gourmet food onto SNS, Wi-Fi service makes a trip more enjoyable.Among many Wi-Fi services, the ‘0000FLETS-POTAL’ is drawing attention because it has about 50,000 Wi-Fi spots in the NTT East area, all of which use high-speed and high-quality optical fibre. It fully covers eastern Japan from Hokkaido to Tohoku and Kanto regions, so service is available in Tokyo as well as other major tourist areas such as Sapporo, Yokohama, Yamanashi and Nikko.‘Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi’ also makes it easy to find a Wi-Fi spot in major cities and around stations. One can make the most of their trip in Japan and access SNS while taking a break at café or check tourism information while stopping to shop at a convenience store. More and more local governments and businesses are joining and the number of Wi-Fi spots is expected to increase even more in the future.It is convenient and easy to use. One can get a Wi-Fi card at tourist attractions and make full use of free Wi-Fi for 14 days. ‘Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi’ is available on Google Play and the App Store.
Momodou C Joof, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism & Culture along with Tombong Saidy, Roots Committee Member & former Ambassador to Washington DC had announced the dates of the Roots Homecoming Festival 2016, to be held from May 6-13 in Banjul, Gambia, West Africa. The two gentlemen were graced by Sharon Parris-Chambers, CEO of Let’s Do it in the Caribbean, Promoter of the Roots Festival, in the Ministry office, located in the Quadrangle, Banjul, Gambia.The Ministry of Tourism and Culture had invited the African Diaspora and all persons committed to the social and economic development of Africa to come home to The Gambia “where the mystic never ends”. The Tourism & Culture Ministry gave visitors a warm welcome from ‘the smiling coast’, where the endless pristine beaches and culture lured them to participate in the 12th edition of the International Roots Festival. The Roots Homecoming Festival took visitors on a memorable journey into their historical, cultural self, one which brought a lifetime of memories.The Jamaica Promotion team included Mutabaruka, Olimatta Taal, Isis Miller, Sharon Parris-Chambers and Sizzla Kalonji had charted a direct airline flight(s) to accommodate Diaspora visitors from the Caribbean, U.S. and Central & Latin America.According to the Permanent Secretary, letters had gone out to promoters and media around the world. Official announcements were placed in conventional media, as well as, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter and other Social Media.
Government of India launched Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVoA) enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), presently known as e-Tourist Visa scheme on November 27, 2014. At present e-Tourist Visa facility is available for citizens of 113 countries arriving at 16 Airports in India.The following are the important highlights of e-Tourist Visa during August, 2015:1. During the month of August, 2015 a total of 22,286 tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 2,705 during the month of August, 2014 registering a growth of 723.9%.2. During January- August, 2015 a total of 1,69,976 tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 17,120 during January-August, 2014 registering a growth of 892.9%.3. This high growth may be attributed to introduction of e-Tourist Visa for 113 countries as against coverage of earlier TVoA scheme for 12 countries.4. The percentage shares of top 10 source countries availing e-Tourist Visa facility during August 2015 are USA (25.93%), Germany (10.00%), UAE (8.92%), France (8.76%), Australia (7.20%), Canada (6.39%), Republic of Korea (4.23%), Japan (3.41%), Russian Federation (2.37%) and Singapore (2.22%).5. The percentage shares of different ports in tourist arrivals on e-Tourist Visa during August 2015 are New Delhi (42.67%), Mumbai (23.40%), Bengaluru (10.37%), Chennai (9.07%), Kochi (5.44%), Hyderabad (4.21%), Kolkata (2.38%), Trivandrum (1.87%) and Goa (0.58%).
The Ministry of Culture & Tourism held the second meeting of the working group on tourism statistics. It involved representatives of the Ministry of Economy & Industry, the State Migration Service, the State Statistics Committee and the Central Bank of Azerbaijan.“The meeting participants covered such issues as employment in tourism, use of the system of tourism satellite account (TSA) in Azerbaijan, the share of tourism in GDP, costs of foreign tourists. Various options on improvement of the methods for obtaining the main indicators were suggested,” the Ministry said.Some measures were taken to improve tourism statistics. In particular, to clarify the share of tourism in GDP, the State Statistics Committee ensured obtaining the primary data from individuals, and that the number of employees in the tourism industry is calculated on the basis of the recommendations of the World Tourism Organisation (IRTS 2008) on 14 characteristics.Azerbaijan has further plans to make its tourism sector more attractive by opening Tourism Bureau and Department of Strategic Studies. To further promote the sector, the Association of Hotels and Restaurants established the Department of Strategic Studies for the hospitality and tourism industries.
The Israel Ministry of Tourism Office in India has launched a new advertising campaign in the country that will run for a period of two months, showcasing tourist attractions in Israel through print, television and digital media.This new campaign will mark the first ever all-India campaign of such scale by the Israel Tourism Ministry. The television commercials, broadcasted under the slogan, ‘Begin your Journey to Israel now’, displays the variety of tourist attractions in Israel- the modern city of Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, the Baha’i Gardens in the city of Haifa, the holy city of Jerusalem and more.The tourism has also launched a new website, goisrael.com, to provide a wealth of information on tour operators and packages, to facilitate a hassle-free travel to the destination.“After we conducted a research in India we found out that the Indian travellers are not aware of the tourist attractions and experience that Israel offers, so we decide to launch a campaign to create awareness among them. Israel is well known to the pilgrimage market but travellers are not aware of the other options available in Israel, hence we decided to highlight them and to say that Israel is ideal leisure, family, honeymoon and MICE destination all year round. Since India is an important market for us, we have invested Rs 13 crore in this campaign. We will invest more in the future since we have a growth in arrivals from India. Last year we had a growth of 13%,” said Hassan Madah, Director of the Israel Ministry of Tourism Office in India.
India is peaking and how! Indian visitors grew to 1.596 million in 2018, up 12.83% growth over the same period of 2017. Kolkata as an important outbound market and the gateway to Eastern India, which is why Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi is exhibiting at TTF Summer Kolkata under the ‘Amazing Thailand’ stand.Indian passport holders you have one more reason to head to Thailand this holiday season, as the country just waived off its visa on arrival fees (THB 2,000 or INR 4,385) till April 30’2019.For Indians, travelling to Thailand has become easier and affordable as more and more airline options like Air Asia offering low fares and convenience. We would like to influence First-Time travellers, Sr. Citizens and Luxury travellers by creating awareness and further networking with travel agents & media to update them about the secondary city- “Samut Songkram” along with other new products and strategies which are:To Promote Thailand as a “Preferred Destination”Increase Spending and Expand Medium & High-end Market BaseExpand Special Interest Market BaseUnder the Campaign: Discover Amazing Stories we have introduced ‘Open to the New Shades’tagline for the Indian market to make them more aware of the evolution of Thai products:New Shades of Thai GastronomyNew Shades of Thai Art & CraftNew Shades of Thai CultureNew Shades of Thai Nature and BeachNew Shades of Thai Way of LifeThailand has an array of attractions appealing for Indians – tourist spots, world-famous food, culture, value-for-money shopping, recreational activities and ideal places for hosting wedding parties, world class facilities yet reasonable.We are also doing Luxury road shows, FAM trips, joint promotions with travel agents, B2B & B2C events like TTF, OTM, Wedding & Luxury fairs, etc. for creating awareness.During TTF, Air Asia as the airline partner will offer all visitors a discount on airline tickets to Thailand. Visit the TAT stand and Experience Thai culture and meet the umbrella artist from Chiang Mai (North of Thailand) who will be painting beautiful hand-made umbrellas at the Amazing Thailand stall during these 3 days.
Share Arch MI blend Closepin digital FinTech mortgage Origination RoundPoint Mortgage Vendorly 2019-04-11 Radhika Ojha Eye on the Industry: Updates on RoundPoint, Arch MI, and More … From new launches and partnerships to rewards and new tools, get the latest buzz on the industry here.Arch Mortgage Insurance Company (Arch MI), a provider of private mortgage insurance (MI) and a wholly owned subsidiary of Arch Capital Group Ltd., announced the release of an update to their premium pricing tool, RateStar.This next generation of Arch MI’s RateStar user portal delivers a streamlined customer experience with express quotes and options to fully customize quotes. RateStar launched 10 years ago as a dynamic tool that could evaluate individual loan risk precisely. RateStar is also the only MI pricing tool that currently has an MI buydown feature. RateStar Buydown allows loan officers to customize a unique MI premium payment for each borrower, leveraging all lender and seller credits.“RateStar continues to evolve as we apply our decade of expertise and customer feedback,” said Michael Schmeiser, Arch MI’s President and CEO. “RateStar transformed the way lenders selected coverage, delivering our most competitive rates for each loan, and RateStar Buydown made it possible for them to tailor MI premiums according to individual borrower circumstances.”________________________________________________________________Charlotte, North Carolina-headquartered RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation(RoundPoint) announced that it has earned the Servicer Total Achievement and Rewards (STAR) Program performer recognition from Fannie Mae. This recognition is given by Fannie Mae to top performing servicers. RoundPoint said that it earned the STAR recognition for two categories: General Servicing and Solution Delivery, based on specific metrics set by Fannie Mae.“We are honored to receive Fannie Mae’s STAR recognition because it acknowledges the tremendous effort put forth by our customer service team to consistently deliver exceptional support,” said Kevin Brungardt, CEO of RoundPoint. “The recognition aligns with our corporate values, our focus on service excellence, and being ‘all things home’ to our customers.”________________________________________________________________Blend recently announced the launch of its deposit account offering. The new product enables Blend customers to offer a digital account opening experience to consumers across desktop and mobile.“By making deposit account opening easier, Blend is enabling banks and credit unions, no matter their size, to deepen consumer relationships and stay competitive in a crowded market,” said Blend Head of Product Olivia Teich. “This is an important step in our journey to build a single platform for lenders to provide exceptional customer experiences across their products.”Blend states that Mountain America Credit Union was able to fully roll out Blend’s deposit account product in one month, with all online account opening traffic now flowing through Blend’s platform. Already, the company has seen 53% of applications come through mobile, a channel not previously offered for deposits. Additionally, Blend notes that the time it takes to apply for and open an account has decreased by 46%.________________________________________________________________Closepin announced the launch of a tool which assists mortgage lenders in their efforts to conduct fully-digital closings. Closepin’s core business offers lenders automated compliance validation and wire instruction verification for mortgage-closing agents. With this new feature, Closepin empowers lenders to search for eClosing-enabled title agents.“Lenders are looking for ways to offer digital closings to those customers that want them, but to do so requires an entire ecosystem of partners. One of the biggest challenges has been finding closing agent partners who are equipped to manage these transactions. Closepin now solves that for lenders,” said Ryan Peterson, EVP of Westcor Global, the creators of Closepin.________________________________________________________________Vendorly, a vendor oversight platform for financial institutions, recently announced an agreement with BitSight. Vendorly is now an authorized reseller of BitSight Security Ratings.In a release, Vendorly stated that “global organizations are increasingly facing significant cyber risk management challenges. To help proactively mitigate risk, organizations need automated tools to measure and monitor the security performance of vendors.”“For many organizations, cybersecurity and threat assessments continue to be an esoteric concept,” said Jim Vaca, SVP, Vendorly. “Organizations are often not capable of keeping up with the rapidly changing threat environment, let alone understanding the actual security performance of their critical vendors. BitSight has created objective metrics and tools that help identify cyber risk in a way that is understandable for organizations.” in Daily Dose, Featured, News April 11, 2019 845 Views
You might also be interested in December 19 , 2018 Bananas in Charts: U.S. market supplies hit five-y … One Banana targets U.K. retail expansion with ethi … China imports record banana volume … Ecuador’s banana exports to EU fall in Q1 … The French gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests that have been taking place over the last few weeks have resulted in losses of thousands of tons of bananas, according to an industry organization.Nationwide protests over the last five weeks over economic injustice have caused widespread disruption, with many businesses closed and roads blocked.”A loss is estimated of about 4,000 tons of bananas (or 30 million pieces of fruit) between Nov. 17 and Dec. 6,” the French Union of Banana Ripeners (UFMB) was quoted as saying by Les Marchés.The UFMB covers 38 ripening sites around the country.