S Korean violinist wants border concert with North Korea

first_img Sponsored Stories Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Mesa family survives lightning strike to home SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Violinist Won Hyung Joon wants to bring North and South Korean musicians together next month to perform on each side of the world’s most heavily armed border. Standing in the way is the rivals’ long, frustrating inability to move past their painful shared history.Won says North Korean diplomats in Berlin have tentatively signed off on a plan for a renowned German conductor to lead a 70-member South Korean orchestra through Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and the Korean folk tune “Arirang” while accompanied by a choir of 70 North Koreans just across the border on Aug. 15, the 70th anniversary of the 1945 liberation of a single Korea from Japan’s 35-year colonial rule. Top Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility In this June 24, 2015 photo, South Korean violinist Won Hyung Joon performs during an interview at his office in Seoul, South Korea. Violinist Won wants to help the bitterly divided Korean Peninsula by bringing North and South Korean musicians together next month to perform on each side of the world’s most heavily armed border. Standing in the way is the rivals’ long, frustrating inability to forget their painful shared history. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationcenter_img Won and some outside analysts believe the concert will likely happen. Pyongyang may see it as a way to improve ties with Seoul, which could then stimulate a flow of aid and investment that the impoverished country needs to help revive its decrepit economy. Better relations with Seoul could also help offset North Korea’s fraying ties with China, its only major ally.German maestro Christoph Poppen, who has agreed to do the conducting on Aug. 15, called music the only “language which you can understand all across barriers.”“It’s simply much stronger than language, and it can overcome also emotional conflicts and problems,” he said.Still, Won, 39, knows that bitterness over the Koreas’ tangled past can easily get in the way. In May, for instance, Pyongyang, on the eve of a planned trip by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to a jointly run factory park across the border in North Korea, canceled the invitation.If the North-South concert on the border doesn’t happen, Won plans to gather the South Korean musicians and play someplace else, possibly near a South Korean border check-point or a former frontline U.S. army base.Won, executive director of Seoul-based Lindenbaum Music, said the concert idea was inspired by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a troupe of Israeli and Arab musicians founded in 1999 by Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and late Palestinian academic Edward Said as a gesture of peaceful coexistence in the Middle East. Won is working this time with Uwe Schmelter, a Korea expert and retired regional director of the Goethe-Institute in East Asia, who has persuaded the North Korean Embassy in Berlin to sign off on the concert. Now it is a matter of winning an endorsement from a higher-level organization in Pyongyang. Schmelter said last week he’s acting as a mediator but declined to provide details about the delicate negotiations.“With a project of this magnitude, there really is no easy or ideal time,” said violinist David Kim, concertmaster at the Philadelphia Orchestra and a member of Won’s team. “Relations between the two Koreas are always complicated and everyone knows that. But music itself is not complicated at all — it touches and softens people’s hearts.”“In order to pull this off, there has to be a visionary, a dreamer … who believes in the cause with all their heart and is unwilling to accept no for an answer. That person is Won.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Wary South Korean officials, however, want a more formal endorsement from Pyongyang before they give their agreement to a concert at the border village of Panmunjom, where an armistice ended the three-year Korean War in 1953. Won and his German partners are pushing for that formal go-ahead from Pyongyang.Dozens of Korean musicians joining their instruments and voices in harmony across the border, Won says, could dramatically illustrate the continuing tragedy of the Korean Peninsula, which, after liberation from Japan, was divided into a pro-U.S South and Soviet-backed North and remains in a technical state of war because a peace treaty formally ending the eventual Korean War has never been settled.“We won’t be able to talk to each other or hug each other. We’ll just stand face to face and commune through music,” Won said. “We want to do something meaningful at a meaningful place on a meaningful day.”First, though, he has to win support from two governments whose reluctance to cooperate, even on the most seemingly mild proposals, is often ingrained.The countries, which enjoyed a period of rapprochement in the 2000s, bar their citizens from exchanging visits, phone calls, letters and email without government permission. Naval skirmishes occasionally happen. And Pyongyang, which faces global condemnation for its nuclear bomb program, has recently responded with fury to the opening of a U.N. office in Seoul meant to monitor what defectors, activists and many countries call an abysmal human rights record. Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Arts, sports and other non-political events have sometimes helped smooth relations between rival countries.In 1989, for instance, Soviet exile and renowned cellist Mstislav Rostropovich played Bach suites below the crumbling Berlin Wall before making a return to Russia to perform with Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra the next year.A previous flurry of cultural and sports exchanges between the Koreas largely ended when conservatives took over from previous liberal governments in Seoul in 2008, though there have been sporadic exchanges between Pyongyang and the West. The New York Philharmonic held a concert in Pyongyang in 2008, while a North Korean and a French orchestra performed together in Paris in 2012 under the baton of noted South Korean-born conductor Chung Myung-Whun.In 2011, Won partnered with then Philadelphia Orchestra chief conductor Charles Dutoit to push for a joint youth orchestra performance, also on Aug. 15, but in Pyongyang.Dutoit visited North Korea, conducted the country’s symphony orchestra and earned support from culture officials for the project. But the plan fell apart after Pyongyang wanted to reschedule the concert for October 2011 because of annual summertime military drills between Washington and Seoul that it sees as invasion rehearsals. Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona 0 Comments   Share   last_img read more

The Travel Corporation announces management changes

first_imgThe Travel Corporation has announced a management reshuffle at Contiki Holidays and AAT Kings. Les Cox has decided to step down from his role as managing director of AAT Kings in mid-July after 30 years of dedicated service with The Travel Corporation.  Les will remain on the AAT Kings board of directors with specific responsibilities in international sales.Les Cox, managing director, AAT Kings said, “With three decades at The Travel Corporation and seven years with AAT Kings under my belt, it is with sadness that I step down as managing director, but with excitement that I take on this new role within the AAT Kings business. “I am looking forward to continuing to play a part in the ongoing success of the company, which has grown from strength to strength over the last ten years”.Current Contiki Holidays managing director Tammy Marshall will replace Les Cox as AAT Kings managing director.Tammy Marshall, said, “After almost seven years with Contiki I have seen the business grow and change considerably. “Contiki has been a wonderful brand to work on, and it has been a pleasure heading up such an iconic youth brand.“I am excited about the new challenges ahead of me, and look forward to working for AAT Kings, an established, market leading brand, ensuring the continued high quality product delivery that the company is renowned for”.Nicole Moy will replace Tammy Marshall as the new managing director for Contiki Holidays from 12 April, 2010.Nicole has worked on brands such as Student Flights and The Leapfrog Group, and most recently as brand leader and national marketing manager for Flight Centre Limited Australia. <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/1f829/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Flast_img read more

Bumpy start to the year for Samoa tourism

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/23419/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Samoa has seen a bumpy start to the year in terms of tourism arrivals, with January numbers increasing by 7% but February numbers dropping by 13%, says the tourism body.In January 9,016 international travellers visited Samoa, a 7.3% increase on 2009 figures, but in February a 6,902 visitors were recorded a 13.4% drop when compared to a year earlier, the Samoa Tourism Authority announced.“January  visitors’  arrival  increased  by  7.3% compared  to  January  2009.  The  increase  is  mainly due  to  the  significant  increase  in  the  number  of visitors from Asian countries at 89.8% plus visitors from three main markets,” said the tourism body.“February  visitors’  arrival  recorded  a  decline  of 13.4% compared to February 2009. The decline was  due  to  drop  in  the  number  of  visitors  to  Samoa from  all  markets.”Australia was the only country in Samoa’s top three inbound markets which recorded a significant drop in market share from January to February, dropping from 22% to 15%.  New Zealand stayed steady at 42%, while American Samoa dipped slightly from 19% to 18%.last_img read more

Pat Rafter Crowns Aaron Bond General Manager of the Year

first_imgLeading Australian leisure and corporate accommodation provider, Mantra Group, has acknowledged its most outstanding achievers at its 2011 company awards, presented last week at a gala award ceremony at Peppers Salt Resort & Spa by Mantra ambassador Pat Rafter and Mantra Group CEO Bob East. Melbourne General Manager Aaron Bond from Mantra Southbank won the national award for General Manager of the Year, acknowledging not only Aaron’s professional and operational excellence but his valuable contributions to the tourism industry.New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory was a shining light winning Region of the Year. Sydney hotel, Mantra Parramatta, won the annual award for Profit Growth.Peppers Broadbeach took the award for Excellence in Guest Services while Port Douglas resort Peppers Beach Club claimed the coveted Property of the Year crown.Mantra Pandanas, Darwin General Manager David Brill won Bob East’s top gong – the CEO Award.Tweed Coast property Peppers Salt Resort & Spa, home to highly-acclaimed Season restaurant, took the honours for Best Food and Beverage outlet.Mantra Group CEO Bob East praised all winners of the Mantra Group 2011 Annual Awards for their commitment to excellence in delivering exceptional outcomes for clients and the company as a whole. Source = Mantra Grouplast_img read more

Travel Counsellors help agents to Go for Gold

first_imgFrom left, Travel Counsellors Chairman David Speakman with six of the company’s Gold agents Claudia Silk, Nadine Kutz, Christine Jenkins, Scott Mayne, Hayley Voll, Patrick O’Shea, along with Australian General Manager Deb Duncan and Group Managing Director Steve Byrne. Source = Travel Counsellors Travel Counsellors help agents to Go for Goldcenter_img Following an extremely positive start to the year Travel Counsellors is focusing on helping even more of its home-based agents to achieve the company’s top performing Gold status. Travel Counsellors, which now has over 90 agents operating in Australia and a further 1,100 overseas, has seen sales soar in the country with figures up 42% so far this year. As a result the company expects to see more of its agents achieve Gold and have put together a dedicated ‘Going for Gold’ programme to further support them in reaching this goal. “We are seeing the business go from strength to strength, with our agents earning more than ever before,” says Business Development Manager Tracy Parkinson. “We currently have seven Gold Travel Counsellors in Australia but expect this figure to significantly increase, supported by the launch of our Gold programme and also significantly down to our own in-house dynamic packaging system Phenix which allows agents to control their own margin and substantially increase their earning potential. The programme includes a personalised marketing plan for each agent, focusing on their key strengths and goals. We have had a great response from our Travel Counsellors so far and are dedicated to supporting, encouraging and motivating them to be the very best they can be.” This also follows the company congratulating its top performing Gold Travel Counsellors and thanking them for the important part they have played in the company’s success over the last 12 months at its annual Gold Weekend, which took place in Mauritius last month. Over 80 Gold Travel Counsellors plus over 30 partners and spouses from the company’s global operations in Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa and the UK, were treated to a luxuriously long weekend to discover the treasures of the paradise island. For Gold Travel Counsellor Chris Jenkins, who received the award for ‘Best Margin’ at the company’s conference last year, this was her very first Gold event. Chris comments; “Achieving Gold status has been one of the most memorable experiences in my career in travel.  Gaining and maintaining ‘Gold’ is something I’ve worked hard towards every day, and knowing I have such an efficient team behind me at head office who are always there to support and encourage us in every way, allowing me to concentrate on the most important thing – the growth of my business. The Gold weekend in Mauritius was luxury personified and there was such a wow-factor about the trip. The warmth and friendliness from fellow Gold Travel Counsellors and their spouses and partners from around the world was so incredible, alongside the company directors who are all so proud of our achievements. The opportunity to experience an event like this with my husband, who now feels part of Travel Counsellors too, really makes me proud to be part of such a special company.” Travel Counsellors have two entry points for Gold status each year – on November 1 and May 1 – with results based on the previous 12 month figures. To become a Gold Travel Counsellor, the consultants achieved commissions totalling $119,500 or more in a 12 month period. The Gold agents, including both business and leisure specialists, make up 11% of the company’s Travel Counsellors and account for 33% of the company’s sales.last_img read more

AirAsia Japan rebrand to Vanilla Air

first_imgNew brand to target resort destinations. Executives chose Vanilla Air from over 200 other names, taking a month and a half to decide. Further details in regards to destinations and ticketing costs will be announced in late September. President Ishii attributed the losses to the airline’s focus on online sales, as many Japanese customers still prefer to book flights through travel agents. Source = ETB News: P.T. Vanilla Air will begin flights in late December with two passenger planes to be leased from ANA, with plans to expand to 10 aircraft in 2015. AirAsia Japan will rebrand as Vanilla Air, following the break-up of parent companies AirAsia and All Nippon Airways (ANA).center_img AirAsia Japan had been operating for a little over a year but was failing to register profits. “We will begin with short-distance services but want to expand the range to mid and long-distances in line with ANA’s branding strategy,” Mr Ishii said. AirAsia Japan’s 420 staff will become employees of Vanilla Air, while base operation will remain at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, serving travellers to resort destinations throughout Asia. AirAsia and ANA announced the termination of their joint venture in June 2013, with ANA acquiring full ownership of AirAsia Japan, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. “We chose vanilla as our brand name because it is popular and loved by everyone in the world,” AirAsia Japan president Tomonori Ishii said.last_img read more

IHG face Tibet protests

first_imgA globally coordinated day of protests is scheduled to occur at InterContinental (IHG) hotels on five continents this week, in objection to the opening of an enormous luxury hotel in Tibet. UK-based IHG plan to open a 1000+ room luxury hotel in Lhasa, the capital of occupied Tibet. IHG has yet to respond to protestors questions about its discussions with authorities in Tibet, how it has assessed the impact of the hotel on Lhasa, how it will protect the human rights of its employees and the possible use of the hotel as a venue for Chinese officials to discuss further repression. “IHG failed to consult any Tibet groups before inking the deal on this hotel, has failed to respond to the concerns we’ve repeatedly raised with them and looks quite happy to ignore oppression if there’s money to be made.” The protests – organised by international campaigners in May 2013 – have been timed to coincide with the release of IHG’s third quarter results, highlighting the company’s involvement in Tibet.center_img “IHG will sell the image of a spiritual and peaceful Tibet to the world but Lhasa is not another exotic location for the wealthy to tick off their bucket lists,” Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said. Campaigners will protest tomorrow at IHG properties across the world, including hotels in Asia, Australasia, Europe, North and South America and Africa. Source = ETB News: P.T.last_img read more

Etihad supports 23400 US jobs and 29 billion to the economy

first_imgEtihad supports 23,400 US jobs and 2.9 billion to the economyEtihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will contribute US$2.9 billion to the US economy and support 23,400 American jobs this year, according to new research by the global consultancy Oxford Economics.The study, commissioned by Etihad Airways, projects that by 2020, the airline’s operating expenditure and capital investments will almost double to support 46,200 American jobs and deliver US$6.2 billion a year.These are among the key conclusions of the Oxford Economics Report, released today by Vijay Poonoosamy, Vice President International and Public Affairs of Etihad Airways, to quantify the economic contribution which the airline makes to the US.The study, which is now published on www.keeptheskiesopen.com, assessed the airline’s capital expenditure with US suppliers and its operating expenditure in the country to calculate a value for direct, indirect, induced and catalytic contributions.“Open Skies is good for competition and good for the consumer, but most of all today’s report shows it is also good for the American economy,” said Mr Poonoosamy.“Since 2005, the year before we started flying to America, our expenditure and activities in the US market have supported thousands of jobs and helped to fuel domestic economic growth,” he said.“By 2020, Oxford Economics calculates that we will have committed US$41 billion to the US GDP through a combination of direct expenditure on our day-to-day operations in the US and our long-term relationships with American partners including Boeing, GE Aircraft Engines and Sabre Airline Solutions.”Since 2004, when it announced plans to acquire five Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, Etihad Airways has introduced or ordered almost120 Boeing aircraft at a current list price of US$36.5 billion, including more than 70 B787 Dreamliner and 25 next-generation B777X aircraft. The airline has also chosen US suppliers for other equipment ranging from cabin interiors to inflight entertainment systems.Mr Poonoosamy said a number of US airlines were also beneficiaries of Etihad Airways’ presence in the US market.Source = Etihad Airwayslast_img read more

Two premier Darwin hotels rebrand to join AccorHotels

first_imgAustralia’s largest hotel operator, AccorHotels, welcomes the Novotel Darwin Airport and the Mercure Darwin Airport Resort today, formerly the Darwin Airport Hotel and Darwin Airport Resort, to its expanding network in the Northern Territory.The 136-room Darwin Airport Hotel property has rebranded to Novotel Darwin Airport, located just metres from Darwin International Airport terminal, and will undergo an extensive refurbishment.The neighbouring 181-room Darwin Airport Resort has rebranded to Mercure Darwin Airport Resort and a further 108 new-build rooms will be added to the property as well as a refurbishment of the public areas.“We are delighted to welcome two premier Darwin properties to our expanding network of hotels in the Top End, and continue our successful partnership with SC Capital Partners Group,” AccorHotels Pacific chief operating officer Simon McGrath said.“Considerable investment is going into the properties to bring them in line with our internationally-renowned midmarket brands Novotel and Mercure and we look forward to taking the properties into a fresh new phase in 2016.“The Novotel brand already has an award-winning presence in the Top End with the flagship Novotel Darwin Atrium which unveiled a multimillion dollar upgrade in 2014.“We’re extremely proud of this hotel asset as it has the contemporary Novotel Next generation room concept which is championed by the brand worldwide.“Having an aggregation of hotels in the region means we have more resources to attract more business to the area,” concluded Mr McGrath.The re-branded Novotel Darwin Airport and Mercure Darwin Airport Resort will complement the existing award-winning Novotel Darwin Atrium as well as support the growing network of AccorHotels in the Northern Territory which include: Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel, Kakadu Lodge Cooinda, four properties at Ayers Rock Resort, ibis Styles Katherine and ibis Styles Alice Springs.The owner, RECAP IV Fund managed by SC Capital Partners Group, is a strategic partner of AccorHotels across the Asia Pacific region with current hotel agreements in Japan, Seoul and Myanmar, and now Darwin. AccorHotelsSource = AccorHotelslast_img read more

Collette brings travellers a White Christmas with its Special Offer Co

first_imgCollette brings travellers a White Christmas with its Special Offer CollectionCollette brings travellers a White Christmas with its Special Offer CollectionCollette has released a Special Offer Collection Brochure, giving travellers the chance to book now and save on its magical winter Christmas itineraries.For those in the northern hemisphere, Christmas conjures iconic images of sleigh bells and twinkling lights on a snowy winters’ night. Australians on the other side of the world however, can only ever dream of experiencing this in person.Featuring the Classic Christmas Markets and the Magical Christmas Markets tours, Collette’s Special Offer Collection invites Australian travellers to experience the magic of Christmas like never before.As part of the Classic Christmas Markets tour, guests will be able to stay for three nights in the famous Bavarian village Oberammergau. The village is world renowned for its historic Passion Play, which has been performed by the villagers since 1634AD. Tour guests will be able to explore the old-world architecture of the village and soak up its rich culture as the village prepares for the 42nd edition of the play to take place in 2020. Oberammergau is also a highlight within the Magical Christmas Markets tour as a day visit.For the Magical Christmas Markets tour, savings of up to $150 can be made with tour prices falling from $1,879 to $1,729. Travellers will be able to save $200 on the Classic Christmas Markets Tour, down from $2,429 to $2,229. These savings are available for selected departure dates including 26/11/17, 3/12/17 and 10/12/17 and are land content only, per person, twin share.Guests on these itineraries can explore the picturesque wonderland that is a European winter and can pick up traditional knick-knacks and gifts for loved-ones, just in time for Christmas.The Classic Christmas Markets will provide a picturesque winter experience in the heart of Europe. Travellers will journey through the Christmas markets located in Strasbourg, Munich and Innsbruck. Experiences include a guided tour of the old quarter in Strasbourg, an excursion to the 900-year-old ramparts of Nuremburg and a visit to Bavaria, brimming with charming villages, distinctive food, beer gardens and colourfully striking shop frescos.The Magical Christmas Markets tour allows travellers to delve further into the unique charm of Austria and Germany and explore the region’s attractive Christmas markets or ‘Christkindlesmarkts’. The stunning Hotel Innsbruck, nestled in the heart of the breathtaking snow-capped mountains will be the travellers home away from home on this Christmas getaway. Excursions include a train ride will take travellers through the frosted Alpine peaks to the enchanting village of Seefeld, where a glass of schnapps will warm up wintery wanderers. A panoramic tour of Munich which includes the Marienplatz, the Glockenspeil and Olympic park. Finally guests will be hosted at St Peters Stiftskeller, the oldest restaurant in Europe that can be dated back to 803 AD.For more details on your tour or these fantastic offers:Contact your local travel agent or call Collette on 1300 792 195.For full terms and conditions, visit gocollette.com Source = Collettelast_img read more

Centara Hotels and Resorts launches allinclusive marine experiences

first_imgSource = Centara Hotels & Resorts Centara Hotels and Resorts launches all-inclusive marine experiencesCentara Hotels and Resorts launches all-inclusive marine experiencesCentara Hotels & Resorts, is making travel to the Maldives more accessible and appealing with a choice of two distinctive resorts, each one catering to the needs of different guests while at the same time offering the best experiences in one of the world’s most incredible natural holiday destinations.A variety of snorkelling and diving excursions bring visitors face-to-face with an abundance of amazing marine species while a choice of enticing all-inclusive packages include options for Scuba Diving, as well as unique experiences such as whale shark spotting and underwater adventures in a semi-submarine.Couples seeking a stunning private tropical hideaway can choose Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa, which is set on a pristine island in the North Malé Atoll and features a collection of 140 beachfront and overwater villas, enhanced by delectable dining options and plenty of opportunities to experience breath-taking natural attractions, both during the day and under the stars. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted at this resort, making it an ideal choice for couples and honeymooners.Families need not miss out on the wonders of the Maldives with memorable holidays offered at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives. Nestled on an idyllic island in the South Ari Atoll, this exceptional resort allows families to reconnect with each other and mother nature in luxurious surroundings, with 112 spacious beachfront suites and overwater villas. An array of family-friendly dining experiences, sports and activities are also provided, to ensure guests of all ages are kept fully entertained throughout their stay.“Centara Hotels & Resorts is proud to offer a choice of two distinctive resorts in the Maldives, as we open up this incredible destination to all guests,” commented Tom Thrussell, Centara’s Vice President of Brand, Marketing and Digital.Under the “Gold All-Inclusive” package at Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa, qualified guests can enjoy up to three dives per villa, per week. Diving is also featured as part of the “Ultimate All-Inclusive” package at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives, allowing families to enjoy up to three dives per person, per week. Both resorts also offer unlimited snorkelling opportunities.At Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa couples can enjoy exhilarating daytime and night dives at one of many nearby dive sites, including Giraavaru Cave, Kuda Haa, Shark Point, Lion’s Head, Kuda Faru and Kikki Reef. The famous wreck of the Maldives Victory ship, home to an incredible array of exotic marine species, is also less than one hour away, and guests who want to get up close to the world’s biggest fish – the whale shark – can join dedicated snorkelling trips to spot these graceful creatures when they ascend close the surface of the ocean. Underwater explorers who prefer to stay dry can even head out in the resort’s own semi-submarine to enjoy the spectacular underwater landscape.Over at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives, families enjoy a choice of diving and snorkelling trips for every ability level, from beginners to expert divers. Shore dives, boat trips, dive courses and semi-submersible trips are all available and the house reef is a breathtaking underwater world, just off the coast of the island. The wreck of MV Kudi Maa attracts exotic species including turtles, manta rays and whale sharks.When they are not discovering the underwater world, families at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives can take part in a wide range of water sports, including water skiing, wake boarding, banana boating, parasailing and sunset fishing.“By offering all-inclusive packages with diving excursions, Centara is democratising travel to the Maldives. We want more travellers to have the opportunity to experience the wonders of this breathtaking archipelago, both above and below the water,” Mr Thrussell added.In addition to diving excursions, Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa’s “Gold All-Inclusive” package offers six meals per day, an open bar, a complimentary mini-bar that gets replenished daily, laundry, complimentary spa treatments and unlimited use of non-motorised water sports. Every villa at the resort is designed with couples in mind, including options with outdoor bathtubs and hammocks suspended over the lagoon.“Created exclusively for couples, Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa is a tropical sanctuary of luxury and seclusion. Whether seeking a romantic retreat, or a discovery-filled vacation with your partner, we have the perfect package to suit,” says Voytek Klasicki, Area General Manager Maldives for Centara Hotels & Resorts.The”Ultimate All-Inclusive” package at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives features daily dining experiences, mini-bars replenished daily, spa credits, and a choice of exciting excursions including a snorkelling tour, whale shark boat trip, sunset cruise, local island exploration and sunset fishing. Ideal for families, the resort’s collection of suites and villas range from 86m² to 159m² and can accommodate up to five guests.“What sets Centara Grand Island Resort apart from other resorts in the Maldives is that we are extremely welcoming to families, with a choice of accommodation options, amenities and activities for all ages. From exotic excursions to memorable meals and of course, diving trips, we offer a wealth of opportunities for families to reconnect with each other and nature,” adds Mr Klasicki.Adding to the all-inclusive appeal, Centara Hotels & Resorts is offering free airport transfers to and from both its resorts in the Maldives based on certain requirements. For more information or to make a reservation Click Here.For more information, please visit https://www.centarahotelsresorts.com/featured-packages/early-bird-offers last_img read more

Personal Travel Managers Excited by New Wellness Initiative

first_imgSource = TravelManagers Altius Group’s Co-Founder & CEO, Derick BoreanPersonal Travel Managers Excited by New Wellness InitiativeA celebration of success and a chance to plan for future success: these were the main themes at TravelManagers’ 2018 national conference, which has just concluded in Hawaii. Presentations from keynote speakers such as Turia Pitt, supplier workshops, pre- and post-conference famils and a gala awards dinner were all highlights of the conference itinerary, which ran over a three-day weekend and attracted more than 230 personal travel manager (PTMs) and NPO team members and 90 representatives from partner suppliers.The conference also served as an ideal environment in which to announce a new TravelManagers initiative aimed at supporting members’ health and wellbeing. The initiative, known as the Network Assistance Programme (NAP,) was announced by the company’s Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal, on day one of the conference, and he says the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.“We have a very close-knit network of PTMs and National Partnership Office (NPO) personnel working together to support each other, both in business and at a personal level,” explains Gazal. “It’s an environment that’s not without its stresses and challenges, and until now, we’ve had no input in relation to professional, psychological support. That’s where PeopleSense comes in.”PeopleSense, as Gazal goes on to explain, is part of the Altius Group: a national company that provides specialist support, guidance and partnership to help organisations and their people realise their health potential.Altius Group’s Co-Founder & CEO, Derick Borean, says the programmes work by implementing and administering a range of individual and organisational psychology solutions and support, which work to improve wellbeing, productivity and engagement through proven proactive interventions. Borean explains. “Within the Altius Group we provide access to expertise across a wide range of professional services designed to improve the overall health of organisations and individuals. Our PeopleSense team are true experts in emotional health, dealing with issues from anxiety and anger management to relationship difficulties and trauma.”As part of the introduction of TravelManagers’ NAP programme, Borean ran a Wellness and Success Workshop at the national conference, in which attendees discussed the key pillars of wellness, their effect on performance, how to set simple goals and how to achieve them.“At the end of the workshop, we wanted people to walk away with their own personal plan to improve their wellness, and with knowledge on why, how and what to do to make positive changes to achieve lasting success,” Borean explains “They’ve buddied up with colleagues and have taken a big step forward in their wellness journey. That is great for them personally, and it’s great for their business”.Gazal says the introduction of the NAP programme reflects the value TravelManagers places on the PTM network, many of whom spend a large portion of their professional week working in geographical isolation.“Because our business model allows PTMs the flexibility and freedom to choose their work hours and location, we’ve always placed an emphasis on ensuring that they still have the support and camaraderie that they would have if they worked in a traditional office environment: NAP is about taking that support to the next level, and we’re very excited by it.”The link between a thriving business and its people is an obvious one, according to Borean, who says that healthy, engaged teams of people make a business more productive and successful.“Whether it’s maintaining people in health or rehabilitating them in the event of injury or illness, by combining our clinical expertise, the science of behaviour, our national resources and commercial acumen, we’ll be helping TravelManagers to achieve industry-leading outcomes that will enable them to focus on what they do best.”PTMs will receive six free support sessions per year, with round-the-clock access to a team of psychologists who have each completed four years’ tertiary degree and two years of professional supervision, as well as being registered with a regulatory body. This level of expertise offers PTMs proven, evidence-based strategies to help them out in their time of need.“Assistance will be made available to all PTMs and throughout the TravelManagers network, regardless of the remoteness their location,” Gazal adds. “It’s free, self-referred and completely confidential.”Borean notes that NAP is not just a programme for people in crisis: rather, he describes it as being equally designed to assist “normal everyday people, who feel they need some expert help with normal everyday issues.”For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599.About TravelManagersTravel Managers operates in all Australian States and is a wholly owned subsidiary of House of Travel, Australasia’s largest independent travel company which has a forecast turnover of $2 billion for 2018. TravelManagers is a sister company to Hoot Holidays, also owned by House of Travel, and has more than 540 personal travel managers throughout Australia with a dedicated support team at the company’s national partnership office in Sydney. TravelManagers places all customer money in a dedicated and audited Client Trust Account which is separate from the general business accounts, ensuring client funds are secure and only used for client purchases.last_img read more

Foreign tourism in Italy is worth 34 billion Euros a year

first_imgForeign tourism in Italy is worth 34 billion Euros a year, and it keeps growing, with an average increase of one billion per year. Moreover, Italians started travelling abroad again. These are some of the incoming and outgoing trends of 2014, according to Bank of Italy, published in a report focusing on tourism and the upcoming Expo.Between January and December 2014, 34.154 million Euros were spent by international tourists in Italy, outnumbering 33.064 million Euros in 2013. Italian tourists spent 21.7 million Euros abroad in 2014 and 20.309 million Euros in the previous year.These are the first data about 2014 presented and commented at the 15th conference ‘Italy and International Tourism: Trends and Results for Incoming and Outgoing in 2014’, organised by Ciset, Università Ca’ Foscari, in cooperation with the Bank of Italy. After presenting the big picture of the tourist balance in 2014, during the first session the speakers talked about the economic impact of tourism in the regional context and the importance of analysing tourist expenses.last_img read more

NAREB Hosts Forum to Address State of Housing in Black America

first_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-05-01 Abby Gregory NAREB Hosts Forum to Address State of Housing in Black America In Washington, D.C., the “”National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB)””:http//:www.nareb.com/ is preparing to host its “”State of Housing in Black America Issues Forum.”” The group, which is the oldest African American trade association of real estate business owners and professionals in the U.S., will present commentary from members of Congress, minority businesses, and granting agencies during the event on May 2.[IMAGE]The forum will feature interactive panel discussions with housing industry experts, as well as commentary from local and national political and community leaders. Through the event, [COLUMN_BREAK]NAREB hopes to provide in-depth analysis of research data, a solution-oriented take on neighborhood blight, and an evaluation of the “”Homeowner’s Assurance Program (HAP)””:http://www.nareb.com/view/forms/nareb_news.aspx?newsType=full&newsID=162. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Maryland), ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, will perform as the forum’s guest speaker. Additionally, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia), ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, will give opening remarks during the event. “”NAREB has seen the impact of Congress, especially the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, on homeownership solutions in the past,”” said NAREB’s president, Julius Cartwright. “”We recognize the importance of providing Congress with accurate and detailed information and recommendations on how to improve housing conditions in not only low and moderate income neighborhoods, but the surrounding communities as well. The mortgage fall-out has required federal intervention and private sector participation and capital, but many solutions have not been effective enough – especially in minority communities. It is integral to NAREB’s efforts, and in the best interest of our nation, that all of us work together on this.”” in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technologycenter_img May 1, 2012 493 Views Sharelast_img read more

Blueberry Systems DocMagic Integrate to Streamline Originations

first_img October 30, 2012 456 Views in Origination, Technology Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News DocMagic Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-10-30 Tory Barringer Blueberry Systems, DocMagic Integrate to Streamline Originationscenter_img Share “”Blueberry Systems, LLC””:http://www.blueberrysystems.com/, and “”DocMagic””:https://www.docmagic.com/ are joining forces to offer a more comprehensive, efficient document preparation system through Blueberry’s Relay loan origination software (LOS).[IMAGE][COLUMN_BREAK]With the integration of the two products, lending institutions can now maintain origination and regulatory guidelines without ever leaving Relay. In addition, Relay users have access to DocMagic’s eSignature and eDelivery capabilities, streamlining the document process even further.””DocMagic has always been committed to providing superior technology and a level of customer service that far exceeds the expectations of today’s standards,”” said Steve Ribultan, director of business development for DocMagic. “”By seamlessly integrating our system with Blueberry Solutions’ cutting-edge loan origination software, we continue to deliver on that promise.””””Expanding our capabilities with DocMagic provides our clients a completely seamless experience,”” said Dominick Marchetti, EVP of Blueberry Systems. “”This integration eliminates the time wasted to re-enter data and the subsequent data entry errors that inevitably occur, providing our clients more options within our best-in-class system to ensure that disclosures and documents are accurate and compliant.””last_img read more

The Undervalued East Meets the Overvalued West

first_imgThe Undervalued East Meets the Overvalued West in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, Market Studies, News If you could fold the United States in half, simply looking at the east or west would tell you where the most under- and overvalued residential markets are‒‒if, of course, you’re reading Forbes.The magazine Thursday published its list of the five most undervalued and overvalued markets in America, and the results show that the most undervalued markets are between the Atlantic Ocean and Detroit, while the most overvalued begin in Texas and head toward the Pacific.In overvalued markets, Texas lead the way with a tie for first place between Austin and San Antonio. Both markets suffered the recession only to bounce back with vengeance as the economy started to heal. According to Forbes, both markets are 19 percent overvalued, but that number belies an even greater disparity between gross economic growth and growth in each city’s real estate market.After busting in the recession, the economies of Austin and San Antonio recovered by 18 and 9 percent, respectively. But home price appreciation rose 41 percent in Austin through the end of 2015, and the current median home price in the capital city is $278,000. Meanwhile, San Antonio’s home prices grew 21 percent during the same time, and the median home price there is now $190,400.Phoenix, Las Vegas, and San Francisco rounded out the top five most overvalued markets on Forbes’ list. In each of those cities, overall economic growth in the single digits has met with home price appreciation percentages of 49, 52, and 58, respectively.On the other side of the equation and the other side of the country, New Haven came in as the most undervalued market in America through 2015. According to the magazine, the hometown of Yale University saw its economy and home prices each grow at a flat 2 percent, and the city is considered to be 23 percent undervalued. Also 23 percent below where it should be is Detroit, which still has a glut of inventory and slow economic recovery.Rounding out the top five undervalued markets are Hartford, where homes are 21 percent below fair market value, Providence (17 percent), and Cleveland, where a 9 percent economic improvement has outpaced the city’s 2 percent growth in housing prices. Cleveland is considered to be undervalued by 16 percent.According to Forbes, these markets are no surprise when you look at jobs. Where job growth is booming, like in San Antonio’s tech and health sectors, markets inflate; where jobs are down and inventory is plenty, like in Cleveland, prices remain below where they ought to be. Affordability Forbes Housing Markets 2016-06-10 Scott_Morgancenter_img June 10, 2016 470 Views Sharelast_img read more

FirstClose Hires Pat Downing as CTO

first_img in Headlines, News, Origination, Technology FirstClose welcomes Pat Downing as their new CTO. Based out of Austin, Texas, FirstClose was founded in 2001 and provides software solutions for mortgage lenders by delivering middleware vendor management and real-time order-tracking tools online or via direct integration of various loan-origination systems. Downing’s chief role with FirstClose will be overseeing development of all technical efforts.Downing comes to FirstClose from Mozido, another Austin-based company. He brings with him more than 20 years’ experience in IT operations and customer support services. In addition to his experience in technology operations, infrastructure, development, and customer support, Downing has overseen global team-building, budget creation, budget management, and the precise alignment of technology with business needs.Co-founder and CEO of FirstClose, Tedd Smith, commented on the hire, saying that “with his wide range of experience in IT work and CTO responsibilities, Pat will be a great asset as we continue to perfect and develop new technology solutions for the mortgage industry.” October 15, 2018 572 Views FirstClose Hires Pat Downing as CTOcenter_img Chief Technology Officer FirstClose Loan Closing Technology Loan Origination mortgage Origination Pat Downing Real Estate Technology Tedd Smith 2018-10-15 Staff Writer Sharelast_img read more

TravelManagers annual national conference wrapped

first_imgTravelManagers’ annual national conference wrapped up its final day in Darwin on Saturday evening with a gala awards dinner and a spectacular Top End sunset.According to TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal, the main goal of annual national conferences is to help PTMs build their businesses and achieve profitable growth. The choice of conference destinations is a component in achieving this objective, and Gazal says the decision to hold this year’s conference in Darwin was an easy one. “It has been an amazing venue for us: stunning weather, fabulous facilities and tremendous support from our friends at Northern Territory Tourism. For many of our PTMs it’s the first opportunity they’ve had to visit Darwin themselves, and they’ve taken full advantage, with some taking part in pre-conference famils or eschewing air travel in favour of the Ghan or an epic road trip.”Gazal says the company has alternated between domestic and offshore conference venues since 2011, with Bangkok the most recent overseas location in 2016. The venue for next year’s conference, which was a closely-guarded secret until the conference closed late on Saturday afternoon, prior to the Gala Dinner and Awards presentation, has now been announced: TravelManagers are off to Hawaii.“We were very excited to finally reveal a few details of our next best-kept secret to our PTMs on Saturday afternoon, and I’ve spoken to a number of PTMs who are already thinking about extending their stay in Hawaii beyond the conference itself.“The destination has such a lot of offer as a conference venue: great infrastructure, a breath-taking setting and plenty of wow factor.“Our annual conferences provide a great opportunity for our PTMs to update and/or familiarise themselves with destinations and local attractions. We alternate our choice of venue between domestic one year and offshore the next because we recognise the importance of both domestic and international travel to our PTMs’ businesses.”PTMs will have to wait a little longer for further details on next year’s conference, including its overarching theme which will be revealed at a later date. However, with their choice of destination, it’s clear that TravelManagers’ National Partnership Office (NPO) are not resting on their laurels, and will be striving to deliver an even more successful event next year. ENDSlast_img read more

The 1956 1048 carat diamond ring of Princess Gr

first_imgThe 1956, 10.48 -carat diamond ring of Princess Grace of MonacoSeveral Canberra hotels are currently offering Cartier packages. Travel Monitor was a guest of East Hotel. Read our hotel review here. All images: Katrina Holden Bracelet and cherry blossom trees, 19251920s pieces inspired by foreign travelsTurn of the Century and Art deco enthusiasts will love the sketches, costumes and jewels on display, including a silk crepe dress by an unknown designer worn by Dame Nellie Melba (circa 1900); and art deco cigarette cases for ladies when smoking came into vogue for a whole generation of rebellious post-war, modern women. Cigarette and vanity case, 1924The blokes aren’t forgotten either, with another room displaying several Cartier timepieces and images of the celebrities who wore them including Cary Grant and Rudolph Valentino. Dress worn by Dame Nellie Melba, circa 1900The Director of National Gallery of Australia Gerard Vaughan said, “Years of gentle persuasion will deliver an unforgettable experience for Australians.”Indeed, many of the pieces on display are not only from Cartier’s collection but are on loan — including the 1936 Halo Tiara on loan from Her Majesty The Queen. The tiara was a gift to Queen Elizabeth on her 18th birthday and was most recently worn by Kate Middleton on her marriage to Prince William. Another show-stopper is the 10.48-carat diamond engagement ring made for Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco in 1956. Halo tiara, 1936 on loan from Her Majesty The Queen Australian galleriesCanberraCartierCartier The ExhibitionEast HotelGalleriesNational Gallery of Australiacenter_img <span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>Cartier: The Exhibition, on display at the National Gallery of Australia until 22 July, is a showcase in not just fine jewellery but design influence and trends throughout the 20th Century. For the first time in Australia, more than 300 dazzling pieces are together under one roof. Moving through the exhibit is inspiring, even if you do have to patiently wait for crowds to abate at certain displays. Despite the enormous value of the exhibit, I never quite felt a heavy security presence. Instead, visitors can get up rather close to the cabinets displaying pieces belonging to royal families, aristocrats and screen stars. Cartier was founded in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier. His son Alfred eventually took over the company and it was Alfred’s sons Louis, Pierre and Jacques, who were responsible for establishing the brand on a global scale. The company remained family-owned until 1964.The rooms not only showcase the impressive and glittering pieces but also journals and photos from international trips undertaken by Jacques and Louis Cartier where they drew inspiration from motifs and design elements from Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Egyptian and Islamic cultures. These trips inspired the jewellery house to use richly hued semi precious materials including lapis lazuli, coral, onyx, nephrite, jadeite, turquoise and mother of pearl which ultimately expanded the appeal of their range. Egyptian clock, 1927last_img read more