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Month: August 2019

Nearly one billion international tourists recorded in first nine months of 2016

first_img Posted by Share Travelweek Group Wednesday, November 9, 2016 Tags: UNTWOcenter_img Nearly one billion international tourists recorded in first nine months of 2016 MADRID — International tourism is on the rise, reports UNWTO, with 34 million more international tourists travelling between January and September 2016 over the same period in 2015.According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, demand for international tourism remained robust in the first nine months of 2016, though growing at a somewhat more moderate pace. After a strong start of the year, growth was slower in the second quarter, only to pick up again in Q3.While most destinations report encouraging results, others continue to struggle with the impact of negative events, either in their country or in their region.“Tourism is one of the most resilient and fastest-growing economic sectors but it is also very sensitive to risks, both actual and perceived. As such, the sector must continue to work together with governments and stakeholders to minimize risks, respond effectively and build confidence among travellers,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaRifai added that “no destination is immune to risk” and that the travel community needs to “increase cooperation in addressing these global threats,” namely those related to safety and security.“Real crises are often magnified or distorted by misperception and affected destinations are facing important challenges, although at the global level demand remains strong. We need to support these countries in restoring confidence, as doing so will benefit the entire tourism sector and society as a whole,” he added.Asia and the Pacific led growth across world regions, with international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) up 9% through September. In Europe, international arrivals grew by 2% between January and September, with solid growth in most destinations. Nonetheless, double-digit increases in major destinations like Spain, Hungary, Portugal and Ireland were offset by feeble results in France, Belgium and Turkey.International tourist arrivals in the Americas increased by 4% through September, with South America (+7%) and Central America (+6%) leading results. In Africa (+8%), sub-Saharan destinations rebounded strongly throughout the year, while available data for the Middle East points to a 6% decrease in arrivals. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more


Sunwing awarded entry into TSA Pre√ screening program

first_img Friday, January 27, 2017 Sunwing awarded entry into TSA Pre√ screening program Share Posted by Travelweek Group center_img Tags: Sunwing, TSA TORONTO — All systems are a go for Sunwing, which has just announced entry into the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) expedited screening program, TSA Pre✓.Available at 180 U.S. airports, travellers that are approved by the program depart through a dedicated screening lane and do not need to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts or light jackets.According to TSA, in December alone, 97% of TSA Pre✓ passengers got through an expedited screening lane in less than five minutes. The program now has 30 airline partners.Sunwing passengers who are already members of a trusted traveller program such as Global Entry or NEXUS are already eligible to benefit from TSA Pre✓ screening when departing from any of the participating U.S. airports. Access to the program is simple: passengers present their NEXUS or Global Entry membership card at check-in and, once verified, will be provided with a boarding card that says they are TSA Pre✓-approved.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”The airline is also in the process of upgrading its booking portal so that passengers can enter in their details ahead of their arrival at the airport further expedite the process.“Delivering an excellent customer experience is of paramount importance to us, and we are extremely pleased to be awarded entry into this program. We look forward to working with TSA in continuing to improve travellers’ experience in processing through security, while still maintaining their utmost safety.” << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more


Cancelled flights and heat warnings across southwestern US

first_img PHOENIX — American Airlines has cancelled 38 flights in and out of Phoenix on Tuesday afternoon because of extreme heat.The cancellations are for operations by smaller regional jets that have lower maximum operating temperatures than full-size airliners. Those jets can’t operate when it’s 118 degrees or above.American warned passengers over the weekend that it may have to ground flights during a heat wave that could send the temperature soaring to near 120 degrees. Spokesman Ross Feinstein says the late afternoons are the peak affected times.The airline is letting Phoenix passengers flying during the peak heat Monday through Wednesday to change flights without a fee. The forecast calls for a high of 119 Tuesday.Extreme heat creates changes in air density that makes it harder for airplanes to take off.Sizzle on the StripTourists hitting the Las Vegas Strip will feel the sizzle Monday as temperatures could top 114 degrees.More news:  GLP Worldwide introduces first-ever Wellness programsMeteorologist Ashley Allen with The National Weather Service in Las Vegas says the city’s airport is forecast to hit 114 on Monday, but temperatures on the Strip could reach somewhere between 115 and 120 degrees.Allen says the Las Vegas Strip’s tall, close buildings and long stretches of concrete cause the area to heat quickly and cool slowly. She says it’s hard to predict exactly how hot the Strip will get because the Weather Service does not get official readings there.The Las Vegas-area is forecast on Tuesday to tie a record high of 117 degrees, last recorded in 2013.An excessive heat warning is in effect as temperatures are expected to stay above 110 degrees into the weekend.National Park Service issues warningThe National Park Service is warning visitors to Arizona not to hike into the Grand Canyon because of excessive heat.Temperatures below the rim of the canyon are expected to reach as high as 117 degrees this week. Temperatures on the rim are expected to be in the low to high 90s.More news:  A new low for no-frills flying: easyJet assigns backless seat to passengerIf hikers do decide to go ahead with their planned trips, the Park Service says they should take extra precautions to avoid being overcome by the excessive heat. That includes hiking only before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. to avoid strenuous exertion during the hottest part of the day. Drinking extra water and sports drinks will help prevent dehydration that can trigger a health crisis like a heat stroke. << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Arizona, Las Vegas, Travel Alert Tuesday, June 20, 2017 Share By: Clarice Silber and Josh Hoffner Source: The Associated Press Cancelled flights and heat warnings across southwestern U.S.last_img read more


TravelBrands surpasses fundraising goal in support of SickKids

first_imgTravelBrands surpasses fundraising goal in support of SickKids Travelweek Group Share Tags: TravelBrands Wednesday, September 13, 2017 center_img MISSISSAUGA — TravelBrands enjoyed a day on the links last week to raise money and shine the spotlight on the SickKids Foundation.Taking place on Sept. 7 at the Eagles Nest Golf Club, the golf tournament was able to raise a total of $252,500 for the SickKids Labatt Family Heart Centre, $50,000 more than TravelBrand’s initial goal. The company credited its suppliers, travel agents and employees for lending their support to a worthy cause.“Our goal this year was to raise $200,000 and I am proud to say we passed it,” said Frank DeMarinis, President and CEO, TravelBrands. “I would like to thank our partners, staff and suppliers for making our event a huge success and helping us give back a meaningful cause.”Joseph DeMarinis, co-owner of TravelBrands, added: “Our commitment to SickKids and the Labatt Family Heart Centre over the past four years has helped SickKids make major strides in improving and saving lives. As a child health leader, SickKids has always been on the frontlines in the fight against childhood illness, which is why they have our support year after year.”More news:  Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong KongJoseph also noted that next year, TravelBrands will mark a “significant five-year milestone” by aligning with SickKids VS Limits. “We will make it the biggest and best on yet!” he said.The tournament included delicious food, a helicopter ball drop and a million-dollar-shootout, not to mention an online-based silent auction sponsored by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) that raised $36,250 alone. Notable items included all-inclusive vacations, cruises, signed sports gear, hockey game tickets and Cirque du Soleil tickets, courtesy of suppliers like Royal Caribbean, Marival Resort & Suites, Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Carnival Cruise, Celebrity Cruises, NCL and the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino.To date, TravelBrands has raised over $700,000 for the SickKids Foundation. This year, all proceeds will be contributed towards the SickKids’ Labatt Family Heart Centre to support their goal of becoming the leading pediatric heart disease centre in the world. Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more


Sheraton Maui Resort says no to singleuse plastic straws

first_img Tuesday, October 24, 2017 Share Tags: Hawaii, Sheraton Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Travelweek Group Sheraton Maui Resort says no to single-use plastic straws MAUI — Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa is doing its part to help save the environment by completely eliminating single-use plastic straws in favour of a marine-friendly alternative.According to Surfrider Foundation, approximately 500 million plastic drinking straws are used and discarded every day in the United States alone, and 175 billion straws are used in a year. Moreover, Lonely Whale Foundation asserts that an estimated 30% of turtles have been found with plastics in their stomachs, and when they ingest plastic, marine life has a 50 percent mortality rate.Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa is implementing paper straws as an environmentally conscious solution at its multiple dining establishments, luau, banquets and events.Paper straws will be provided in keiki (kids) beverages and blended tropical drinks, with other beverages being served without straws unless a paper straw is requested.“Pu‘u Keka‘a (Black Rock), fronting the resort, is one of the top destinations on Maui to see tropical marine life in their natural habitat, including the beloved honu. Implementing usage of paper straws over single-use plastics is one of the many initiatives we have at a property level centered on corporate social responsibility, protecting the ‘aina, or land, and honoring our resort’s special location in Ka‘anapali,” said Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa’s General Manager Tetsuji Yamazaki.This isn’t the only sustainable initiative the resort has implemented. From the guest rooms, all of the HI-5 and non-HI-5 recyclable items are sorted each day and picked up for recycling. Partially used bath amenities are donated to social welfare organizations, and old pillows and blankets are donated to Maui Humane Society and Salvation Army instead of being thrown away. The resort recycles more than 10 tons of cardboard and paper per month, and more than 15 tons per month of landscape waste from continual upkeep of the resort’s 23 acres is picked up and recycled into mulch. Food waste from the resort’s food and beverage outlets is donated to a local food waste service program. The culmination of these efforts yields big results.“We strongly believe that care for one another begins with taking care of our surroundings and our continued sustainability efforts are just one of the many ways we strive to provide the highest standard of care and comfort for visitors and guests at our resort,” said Yamazaki.last_img read more


Flight attendant mistakes air marshal for passenger with gun

first_img Travelweek Group MINNEAPOLIS — How do you spot an air marshal on a flight? On a recent United Airlines flight, he was the guy being escorted off the plane.A federal air marshal was removed from a United Airlines flight in Minneapolis after a flight attendant mistook him for a gun-carrying passenger.The Transportation Safety Administration says the marshal was apprehended along with another marshal after Flight 3531 landed Monday night at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.According to the agency, the marshal was on official business. The TSA says protocols are in place “to avoid incidents like this.”Airport spokesman Patrick Hogan says the two were taken to the airport’s police station and questioned by the FBI.FBI spokeswoman Cindy Burnham says the marshal was assigned to the flight. The TSA told the Star Tribune the second man also was an air marshal.The flight was operated by Indianapolis-based Republic Airline. Republic says the airline is working with investigators.More news:  Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youthWith file from The Associated Press Flight attendant mistakes air marshal for passenger with gun Tweet Posted bycenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Plane Thursday, August 23, 2018 last_img read more


Airbus abandons iconic A380 superjumbo lacking clients

first_imgAirbus abandons iconic A380 superjumbo, lacking clients Share Thursday, February 14, 2019 Tags: A380, Airbus, boeing, Cancellations, New Plane By: The Associated Press TOULOUSE — European plane maker Airbus said Thursday it will stop making its superjumbo A380 in 2021 for lack of customers, abandoning the world’s biggest passenger jet and one of the aviation industry’s most ambitious and most troubled endeavours.Barely a decade after the double-deck, 500-plus-seat plane started carrying passengers, Airbus said that key client Emirates is cutting back its orders, and as a result, “we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production.”The decision could affect up to 3,500 jobs and already cost plane maker 463 million euros (about $523 million) in losses in 2018, Airbus said.The company, a European economic powerhouse, is also girding for serious disruption to its cross-continental manufacturing from a likely chaotic British exit from the EU next month. CEO Tom Enders, however, said Thursday that “We are getting signals that make me a little more optimistic that we’ll see a more orderly Brexit.” He wouldn’t elaborate.The end of the young yet iconic jet is a boon for rival Boeing and an embarrassing symbolic blow for Airbus. A pall of mourning hung in the atmosphere Thursday at its headquarters in the southern French city of Toulouse – but there was also a hint of relief after years of straining to keep the A380 alive.“It’s a painful decision for us,” Enders said. “We’ve invested a lot of effort, a lot of resources, a lot of sweat … but we need to be realistic.”It’s also sad news for Emirates, which has the A380 as the backbone of its fleet, based out of Dubai, the world’s busiest airport for international travel.When it started taking on passengers in 2008, the A380 was hailed for its roominess, large windows, high ceilings and quieter engines. Some carriers put in showers, lounges, duty free shops and bars on both decks.More news:  Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is backAirbus had hoped the A380 would squeeze out Boeing’s 747 and revolutionize air travel as more people take to the skies.Instead, airlines have been cautious about committing to the costly plane, so huge that airports had to build new runways and modify terminals to accommodate it. The double-decker planes started flying in 2008.The A380 had troubles from the start, including tensions between Airbus’ French and German management and protracted production delays and cost overruns. Those prompted a company restructuring that cost thousands of jobs.Among early detractors of the A380 was analyst Richard Aboulafia of Washington-based Teal Group, who said its demise “was inevitable.”“But thanks to the strength of the market right now, and the strength of Airbus’s other products, the damage will not have a huge impact on the industry,” he told The Associated Press. “For Boeing, it has been a very long time since they needed to worry about the A380 as a competitive factor.”Airbus reported net profit of 3.1 billion euros over last year, up from 2.4 billion euros in 2017.But it also reported losses: In addition to the A380 hit, Airbus reported a charge of 436 million euros on the A400M, used by several European militaries – and another 123 million-euro charge for complying with ethics rules as the company faces fraud investigations in the U.S., Britain and France.Airbus also acknowledged Thursday that a recent data breach apparently targeted intellectual property. Guillaume Faury, head of Airbus commercial aircraft and future CEO of the overall group, said the company is taking technical and legal measures in response.More news:  TRAVELSAVERS welcomes Julie Virgilio to the teamAirbus said it forecasts similar profits in 2019, in line with growth in the world economy and air traffic.It promised airlines that it would still maintain the more than 230 A380s currently in flight, with Faury calling it a “benchmark” for the company even as its death is being programmed.Emirates said Thursday it had struck a deal valued at $21.4 billion with Airbus to replace some A380s with A350 wide-bodies and smaller A330 planes.Emirates has long been the largest operator of the A380. Before Thursday’s announcement, it had 162 of the jets on order.“While we are disappointed to have to give up our order, and sad that the program could not be sustained, we accept that this is the reality of the situation,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman and CEO of Emirates, said in a statement. “For us, the A380 is a wonderful aircraft loved by our customers and our crew. It is a differentiator for Emirates. We have shown how people can truly fly better on the A380.”Industry experts initially expected A380s to long outlast the Boeing 747, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year.But airlines seem to increasingly favour more mid-size planes for regional routes, notably in Asia, instead of the hulking A380s or even 747s, increasingly used as a cargo plane. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more


Tamarindo Talk

first_imgTomorrow and Sunday, the Christian Surfers will host the 2nd Annual Surf Fest with concerts, a surf contest, a soccer tournament and arroz con pollo. The surf contest begins each day at 7 a.m., and will feature the categories of open, junior, groms, longboard and women. Inscription will be $10 and will benefit the children of the community. First prize will be a new surfboard.To inscribe for the contest, go to Witch’s Rock Surf Camp this evening at 7 p.m. As part of the event, the Calvary Chapel of Villareal organize a soccer tournament Saturday. There will be a worship concert with Kzona Sound on Sunday after the surf contest, followed by an awards ceremony. The Calvary Chapel is providing the catering, which will include typical Costa Rican cuisine beginning at 3 p.m. at the Plaza de La Independencia, located across the street from Witch’s Rock Surf Camp.For more info, visit Facebook: Christian Surfers Torneo Anual 2012, call 8922-9000 or email cscrtamarindo@gmail.com.Looking for stress relief? Try Seed Ayurvedic massage, a combo of Ayurvedic (an Indian holistic healing system with massage focusing on pressure points and chakras), yoga, meditation and the Alexander technique – bringing your mind to the here and now. The massage releases toxins, tensions and blocks, and treats disease by increasing energy flow and stimulating the blood and lymph circulation. Certified bodywork therapist Nyree Aguilar may be the only person doing Seed Ayurvedic massage in Costa Rica. Call 8862-6498 or email SeedAyurvedicMassageTherapy@yahoo.com.–Ellen Zoe Goldenellenzoe@aol.com Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more


Spinning sea creature sings our tune

first_imgShawn Larkin Related posts:Underwater Movie Project Aims to Conserve Oceans Fine Diving Reported on Both Coasts Diving Hot in Southern Pacific Costa Rica’s dolphin-safe tuna designation under scrutiny Music with most animals is pure fantasy.But as everybody knows, in Costa Rica pure fantasy can be pure life.There is a giant group of dolphins that make music with people who live off the ancient risen seamount known as the Osa Peninsula, in the Southern Zone of the Pacific coast. Jump into the water with them and hum a few bars into your snorkel, and they may well swim right over and match your tune with their own dolphin style. Really.Years ago, the dolphins did not seem to be into human music, but as our relationship progressed, so did our song. For those of you who are rightly skeptical, you may want to check out the following links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8emfSE88ipI&feature=plcp and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIKWtND2xgI&feature=plcp. The dolphins swim over and clearly match my crude notes. They now do this every time we go out with them. The dolphins sound with almost everyone who tries.Some of you might say, “so what?” Dolphins have been inspiring people to music since recorded history began. What makes this interspecies interaction more impressive is that this same dolphin pod has been netted and assaulted on a regular basis for many years. The dolphins still choose to play and sing with us.I have never met anyone who was not moved by meeting the Osa spinner dolphin pod, which we have taken to calling Los Músicos, or The Musicians. Upon meeting them, many woman have cried. Men often curse. Bono – yes that Bono from U2 – sang them opera. His old-salt, super-yacht captain and bandmate, Edge, said that in 30 years at sea he had never seen anything like it. James Kaiser, author of an upcoming travel guide on Costa Rica, said that after four years touring Costa Rica, this was the coolest thing he did.Multiple members of the Jacques Cousteau team said they, too, had never seen anything like these dolphins. They have appeared on Discovery Channel’s “Animal Planet,” in the Disney/Nature Cinema release, Oceans, on the BBC’s “Blue Planet” and in a music video by Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas.Maybe we should stop netting and killing Osa dolphins for canned tuna? If people are not out on tour with these dolphins, ships are assaulting them. The only thing that has stopped the tuna dozers are camera-toting tourists in boats, catching them far offshore in the act. There will be a lot of cameras rolling over the next year. What will be filmed?These dolphins are headed for prime time. They might continue to become one of Costa Rica’s most iconic images, like the hammerhead sharks of Cocos Island National Park. With ships full of tourists instead of nets, Osa residents could make boatloads of money and save the dolphins. Studies have show spinner dolphin populations do not come back, even after netting stops. What is likely the largest resident dolphin pod in the world is being slaughtered before our eyes.Will the Osa icon be a dead dolphin or a singing one?Contact costacetacea@gmail.com with contributions or for information. Check out CostaCetacea.com to dive in deeper. Facebook Commentscenter_img From the print editionImagine if a giant group of jaguars strolled out of the forest and began to frolic and play around you while you walked, whistling, down the street. What would you think if big cats began to purr the notes of your song? What if horses joined you for your musical stroll? Dogs? Macaws? Crocodiles?last_img read more


Public works and transport vice minister steps down

first_imgNo related posts. Public Works and Transport Vice Minister Rodrigo Rivera submitted his resignation on Tuesday, but no further details have emerged as to why.Minister Pedro Castro confirmed that Rivera will stay in office until April 15. He said he was unaware of the reasons for Rivera’s decision, but acknowledged that he was not surprised by the move.Silvia Bolaños, director of the National Safety Council (COSEVI), will take over the job, and Germán Valverde, a civil engineer specializing in transportation will replace Bolaños. According to Castro, Valverde has “a lot of experience and knowledge in the areas of road safety, and was ex-coordinator of the Transportation Infrastructure Program at the University of Costa Rica’s National Laboratory of Materials and Structural Models.” Rodrigo Rivera was involved in several controversial issues, including a lawsuit filed against the government by Riteve SyC, the Spanish-Costa Rican company in charge of mandatory technical vehicle inspections.He also was in charge of negotiations with taxi drivers and private chauffeurs, or porteadores, who have held ​​numerous street demonstrations recently.Last week, taxi drivers refused to negotiate with Rivera, after a public protest against the ministry for an alleged lack of controls against porteadores. Facebook Commentslast_img read more


Limón youth take first British Legacy Cup

first_imgThe British Embassy hopes to have cricket offered at schools throughout the country, in addition to the well-known options such as football and basketball.Earlier this year, the embassy funded a Cricket Week at EARTH University, and provided training in the sport to 20 students under the age of 19. Thirty-two physical education teachers, under the guidance of renowned cricketer and coach Dr. Wendell Coppin, also were trained. Facebook Comments No related posts. From left, Costa Rica Baseball Association President Rodrigo Vargas, Costa Rica Cricket Federation President Richard Illingworth, British Ambassador Sharon Campbell and Johnny Vargas of ICODER. Courtesy of the British Embassy British Ambassador Sharon Campbell,right, presents Luis Hernández, manager of the Antonio Escarre Baseball Stadium, with a commemorative cricket shield. Courtesy of the British Embassycenter_img Two youth cricket teams faced off on Sept. 7 in Costa Rica’s first-ever under-19 Twenty20 match, organized by the British Embassy, the city of San José and the Costa Rica Cricket Federation. The team from the Caribbean province of Limón, captained by Adonis Sánchez, walked away with the prized Legacy Cup, as well as most of the day’s prizes. Saturday morning’s event was attended by a host of supporters including the Vice Mayor of San José Gonzalo Ramírez; Canadian Ambassador Wendy Drukier and President of the Costa Rica Baseball Association Rodrigo Vargas.The British Embassy’s Cricket Morning is one of many events that the embassy has organized to raise the profile of this lesser-known sport in Costa Rica. Once considered to be a “gentleman’s game,” cricket has found favor among men, women and youngsters alike in Costa Rica, and has at least 40 established cricket teams throughout the country, including the Central Valley.last_img read more


Guatemalas Relief Map hands down the countrys best guide

first_imgThe map, in Zone 2 of the capital, gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of the Central American nation and an insight into the country’s diverse geography. Anna-Claire Bevan As visitors enter the site, they are greeted with a monument showing engineers taking measurements of geographical landscapes with a manually operated theodolite. Anna-Claire Bevan The exact pinpointing of the country’s altitude, latitude and longitude, along with the accuracy of the model, has led many people to deem the map one of Guatemala’s “wonders.” Anna-Claire Bevan Facebook Comments GUATEMALA CITY – Once upon a time a man made a map. Accompanied by a donkey and a few measuring instruments, he rode around Guatemala taking measurements of the country and returned to the capital to scale up.His name was Francisco Vela, and in 1905, with the help of assistant Claudio Urrutia, he designed what is reportedly the only three-dimensional cement map in the world. Drawn almost perfectly to scale (in relation to Guatemala’s original geography), the Relief Map is a reproduction of the country as it existed at the start of the 20th century – with Belize as Guatemala’s 23rd department.Featuring mountains, volcanoes, towns, rivers – one of which even has running water – roads and ports, Vela’s map gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of the Central American nation. In recent years a number of petrol towers have even been added to ensure the map keeps up-to-date with the country’s development. Related posts:Guatemala’s Pacaya Volcano spits ash, gases Guatemala tops ‘femicide’ list in Central America Guatemalan president: Pot legalization in Uruguay is ‘an important step’ Guatemala City street gets facelift, and what a difference it makes Located in Zone 2 of Guatemala City, the Relief Map pays homage to Guatemala and its culture in a multitude of ways. The concrete railing around the outside of the model is intricately designed with six medallions, each displaying a different symbol of Guatemala: from its national bird (the quetzal) to its national tree (the ceiba). Even the small forest that surrounds the attraction consists of more than 100 hormigo trees, the wood of which is used in the construction of the marimba – Guatemala’s national musical instrument. Known as the “Sonorous Forest,” the trees were planted to commemorate the country’s marimba players and composers, and many of their names are featured on plaques within the forest.This unique open-air exhibition is now considered national heritage due to its artistic and historical value, and beats the Lonely Planet hands down as the country’s best guide. From the two observation towers positioned on either side of Vela’s creation, visitors can appreciate the diverse geographical reality of Guatemala. The complex level of detail is not only apparent in the naming of the country’s departments, but also in the hundreds of smaller cities and pueblos that also are accounted for. The exact pinpointing of the country’s altitude, latitude and longitude, along with the accuracy of the model – 1:10,000 km horizontal and 1:2,000 vertical – is an impressive act of engineering.Having been praised as one of the “Wonders of Guatemala,” the 1,800-square-foot structure is a popular attraction in Guatemala’s capital. As visitors enter the site, they are greeted with a monument showing engineers taking measurements of geographical landscapes with a manually operated theodolite.last_img read more


Tico astronaut Franklin Chang offers President Solís a plan to optimize energy

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica to sign loan with Japan for expansion of geothermal energy projects Meet Sandra Cauffman, the Tica co-directing NASA’s current mission to Mars Construction of Central America’s biggest hydroelectric dam is nearly finished in Costa Rica Government, environmental groups agree to temporarily postpone approval of waste gasification Former NASA astronaut and Tico scientist Franklin Chang Diaz on Tuesday met with Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís to deliver a series of proposals aimed at improving energy generation and creating more efficient transit in the country.The plan, developed jointly with experts from Earth University, also urges a reduction in the use of fossil fuels in Costa Rica.Solís, Chang and Earth University Rector José Zaglul met at 7 a.m. at Casa Presidencial, in southeastern San José. The three are part of a National Energy Platform, a group that promotes more efficient energy strategies and alternative fuel options.Chang said the proposal “is a short report of work developed by members of the platform, which includes specific actions to reduce the price of energy and to reduce the country’s ecological footprint.”Among the measures that could be implemented in the short term, Solís cited a metropolitan electric train, a national roadway plan and promotion of several pending bills being discussed in the Legislative Assembly that would allow exploration of geothermal energy without damaging the environment.“There are very concrete ideas that are intended to move forward and fast,” Solís said.The Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE) is exploring several geothermal energy projects, but the country’s laws currently prevent the agency from exploiting new sites located within national parks.Zaglul, who is the platform’s coordinator, said there is significant interest in improving the national roadway network to optimize fuel consumption.The Earth rector explained that the platform “is a multisectoral group looking for consensus on actions that can be taken immediately.”The National Energy Platform includes representatives from ICE, private sector organizations, labor unions and several Costa Rican scientists. Facebook Commentslast_img read more


Nicaragua starts survey on 40 billion canal some residents worried about evictions

first_imgMANAGUA — A Chinese firm hiredto dig a canal across Nicaragua linking the Caribbean and the Pacific said Thursday it has begun assessing property. The firm is analyzing land that will have to expropriated and people who will be displaced.Work on the $40 billion, 278-kilometer (172 miles) project to rival the Panama Canal is scheduled to begin late this year.President Daniel Ortega has said the project will create enough work to help alleviate poverty that affects more than half the population of this Central American country.But environmentalists are worried, in particular about the effects of ship traffic on a lake that is along the path of the planned canal. Lake Cocibolca is the largest freshwater body in Central America.The company HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment said in a statement that another firm, Changjiang Institute of Survey, Planning, Design and Research, will carry out the study with the help of the Nicaraguan government and army.But as The Associated Press reported on Wednesday, the work has already encountered opposition from landowners and residents over the manner in which the surveys are being conducted. According to the AP, “the process is alarming many residents, who say they fear they’ll lose their homes and receive unfair compensation.”From the story:… [S]ome property owners have complained that the joint Chinese-Nicaraguan teams are accompanied by police or soldiers, as well as representatives of the attorney general’s office.“There is intimidation toward the owners of the house. They feel as if they were terrorists,” said Octavio Ortega, had of the non-governmental Foundation of Municipalities of Rivas, the local province. “They haven’t slept for 15 days because they’ve been told to stop any construction on their lands.”While Canal Commission spokesman Telemaco Talavera told the AP the fears are unwarranted, there is no denying such a massive engineering project will require the expropriation of considerable land, and with little public information available on the actual details of the operation, residents understandably are suspicious – particularly because soldiers are involved. Ortega claims that some residents already have been told they have a month to leave their homes. Facebook Comments Related posts:Activists visiting Washington blast Nicaragua’s $50 billion canal project as ‘illegitimate’ Poet Ernesto Cardenal on Gran Canal project: ‘We should denounce to the world what is happening in Nicaragua’ US concerns grow over possible Nicaragua Canal land expropriation, ambassador says Financial, environmental questions plague Nicaragua canal projectlast_img read more


Cowboys coffee and other happenings around Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Christmas cheer, oxcart parades, and other happenings around Costa Rica Festival of Light, Egyptian dancers, and other happenings around Costa Rica Art fair, Renaissance artist, and other happenings around Costa Rica Bullfights, punk bands, and other happenings around Costa Rica Santa Cruz National FestivalWith its cowboy hats, horsemen, and old-fashioned outfits, the Santa Cruz National Festival can look like the set of an old Western movie. Taking place in an agricultural hub in rural Guanacaste, the fiestas are a chance to see livestock, traditional dance, marimba players, and real-life vaqueros in action. All kinds of meaty dishes and fully stocked bars await the peckish visitor, and live music abounds. You don’t need much of a plan – just wander almost any street in downtown Santa Cruz and take it all in.Las Fiestas Típicas Nacionales Santa Cruz continue through Jan. 18 in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste. Fri.-Sun., 12-9 p.m. Free. Info: Festival website.Coffee FairPrepare yourself for delicious caffeine – in every hue, texture, and temperature imaginable. The Feria del Café brings together coffee farmers from across the country to celebrate one of Costa Rica’s most beloved exports.Feria del Café takes place Jan. 16-18 in Frailes de Desamparados. Fri., 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sun., 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Free. Info: Event website. Film: “Mirage”Daniel is a tormented artist – but what happened in his past? And can the unstable painter even trust what he sees? Costa Rican director José Miguel González questions reality in his breakout feature film.“Espejismo” screens in various theaters across the country. For more information, visit the film’s Facebook page.Theater: “Family Wanted”From Mexican dramatist Berta Hiriart comes a musical for all ages about family – the good, the bad, and the happy surprises.“Se Busca Familia” performs Sundays at Teatro La Fortina, Heredia. 3 p.m. ₡4,500 ($9) children, ₡6,000 ($12) adults. Info: La Fortina website.Theater: “The Kings’ Dream”A collaborative production between Costa Rican and Chilean artists, “El Sueño de unos Reyes” explores the concepts of nationhood and identity through movement and multimedia.“El Sueño de unos Reyes” performs through Jan. 18 – Feb. 1 at Gráfica Genesis, Cathedral District, San José. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. ₡3,000-4,000 ($6-8). Info: Gráfica Genesis website. Monuel Montero performs Spanish guitar. (Courtesy of RedCultura)Music: Manuel MonteroThe maestro of Spanish guitar releases his latest album, “Sólo,” at Casa España.Release party takes place Jan. 16 at Casa España, La Sabana. ₡8,000-10,000 ($16-20). Info: Casa España Facebook page.Fiestas de PalmaresOne of the biggest community events of the year, the Palmares festival attracts hordes of people from across the country for a saturnalia of beer, music, and horsemanship. This year’s festival will be headlined by Cultura Profética, the acclaimed reggae outfit. (Concert takes place Jan. 18 at 12 p.m.) There is also the beloved tope (or horse parade) on Jan. 15, plus the annual Comedy Festival on Jan. 16, for folks who can keep up with the Spanish-language humor.Las Fiestas de Palmares take place Jan. 14-26 in downtown Palmares. Free. Info: Palmares Facebook page, or read The Tico Times preview here.Theater: “The House of the Spirits”Isabel Allende’s masterpiece comes to life during this stage adaptation by U.S. playwright Caridad Svich. After last year’s extremely successful run, Teatro Espressivo revives the Spanish-language production for a second round.“La Casa de los Espiritus” runs Jan. 15 – Feb. 15 at Teatro Espressivo, Tres Ríos. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. ₡10,000-15,000 ($20-30). Info: Teatro Espressivo website.Film: “Maikol Yordan”From the madcap minds of “Media Docena,” the hit Costa Rican sketch show, comes their first feature film, a comedy about the well-meaning yokel Maikol Yordan. How will this goofy campesino fare on his globe-trotting tour? Find out by catching this super-Tico comedy at almost any local movie theater.“Maikol Yordan” screens at various cinemas across the country. For more information about the film, visit the official Facebook page.Exhibit: “Juan Rafael Mora”Recognized for his muttonchops and paternal demeanor, Juan Rafael Monge is widely considered the Abraham Lincoln of Costa Rica. The National Archives displays images of this founding father to the public.Exhibit continues through Feb. 28 at the National Archives, Zapote. Free. Info: Archives website. Facebook Commentscenter_img Music: Los WaldnersCheck out this quintessential Tico indie rock band at Area City Bar.Concert takes place Jan. 17 at Area City Bar, Barrio California, San José. 9 p.m. Free. Info: RedCultura.last_img read more


News photographer among 5 victims found bound killed in Mexico

first_imgEarly reports had said the victims were three women and two men, but officials now say that Espinosa was the only male killed in the massacre.Reports said he had in recent months fled the violence-ridden city of Veracruz after receiving threats. His death marks the seventh killing of a journalist in Mexico so far this year.The identities of the four women has not yet been made public, and there was no immediate word on the motive for the killings.Mexico is enduring a nightmare of drug-related violence that has left more than 100,000 people dead and 22,000 missing since 2006, when the government deployed the military to fight the country’s powerful drug cartels. MEXICO CITY – A news photographer was among the five people found tortured and fatally shot in a Mexico City apartment, a journalism advocacy group said Sunday.Rubén Espinosa, 31, a photographer with magazine Proceso was among the five victims found with bound hands, bearing apparent signs of torture, according to Articulo 19, a media rights group.The bodies were found Friday night in a home in a middle class area of the Mexican capital city after a call from neighbors, officials from the local prosecutor’s office said. Facebook Comments Related posts:Mexico City murders deepen threatened journalists’ fears Independent probe doubts 43 Mexico students cremated Mexico’s 43 missing students continue to haunt President Peña Nieto – and they should Parents of 43 missing students in Mexico wage hunger strikecenter_img #ALERTA: Rubén Espinosa, fotoperiodista, es asesinado en DF; salió de Veracruz tras amenazas http://t.co/52cOWchZMo pic.twitter.com/PgDL9u4aFH— ARTICLE 19 MX-CA (@article19mex) August 2, 2015 Asesinan a fotoperiodista Rubén Espinosa, la organización @article19mex condena el hecho y pide justicia pic.twitter.com/pMwVUlzTxG— Luces del Siglo (@lucesdelsiglo) August 2, 2015last_img read more


Leaders sign pact for childrens rights in San José

first_imgChildren’s Day in Costa Rica, Sept. 9, tends to be a day of parties, cupcakes, costumes and special outings. This year, a campaign against child abuse added substance to the celebration, inspiring hundreds of people to march through the streets of San José on Saturday to call for greater respect for children’s rights.The event was co-sponsored by the World Vision Costa Rica, Children’s Museum, the National Children’s Hospital, the Child Welfare Office (PANI), UNICEF, the Municipality of San José and the National Police. As part of the event, Vice President Ana Helena Chacón and representatives of all sponsor organizations signed the “Pact of Tenderness” (“Pacto de la Ternura“) to show their commitment to ending all forms of aggression against children.“Let’s keep marching, keep joining forces. Let’s take action as a nation, protect our children and adolescents, be vigilant and raise more voices to say: NO more violence against minors!” Chacón wrote in a post on her Facebook page after the event.Child abuse remains a significant problem for Costa Rica. A PANI study in 2016 showed that 71% of surveyed Costa Rican parents said they had been subject to corporal punishment as children, according to the daily La Nación. Of those, half said they see corporal punishment as “necessary” in disciplining their own children.Watch the Children’s Museum’s recap of this weekend’s march here: Facebook Comments Related posts:Construction set to begin on San José-spanning riverwalk 5 questions for a Costa Rican photographer 10 reasons to check out the first-ever Coca Cola Fest Cities filled with art: A visit to the 10th Central American Bienniallast_img read more


Texas trucker released from Mexican prison

first_img Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bogan’s family and lawyers declined to comment. He had faced up to 30 years in prison on an ammunition trafficking charge, but the judge reduced the charge to possession of ammunition after testimony from Mexican customs agents contradicted prosecutors’ claim that Bogan hid 268,000 bullets under floorboards.Bogan’s mother, Aletha Smith, has told The Associated Press that the truck driver had been ordered to pay a fine in order to be released.Bogan crossed from Texas into Juarez, Mexico, on April 17.Agents testified in June that Bogan was trying to make a U-turn back into the U.S. when they found the ammunition bundled on top of wooden pallets inside the trailer.Since then, Bogan’s lawyers and family in the U.S. have cried foul, saying the ammunition charge was too hefty for what they claim was an honest mistake.Bogan had made two deliveries in El Paso, Texas, and said he was supposed to drive to Phoenix to deliver assault rifle ammunition to a wholesaler there when he got lost. He said he took a wrong exit on the freeway and drove toward the border, where he said a law enforcement official told him to continue driving across the bridge. Bogan said that when he realized he had crossed into Mexico, he attempted to turn back, but the layout of the traffic lanes prevented him from returning without first crossing into the truck inspection area in Juarez. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Bogan’s attorneys have said surveillance footage taken at the border crossing shows Bogan blocking several lanes of southbound traffic for more than half an hour while trying to maneuver his 18-wheeler back to U.S. soil.Mexican prosecutors alleged he tried to clandestinely smuggle bullets commonly used by drug cartels.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Comments   Share   MEXICO CITY (AP) – A Texas truck driver who says he made a wrong turn into Mexico with a trailer full of ammunition has been released from prison but remains in the custody of immigration authorities, U.S. officials said Friday.The U.S. Embassy in Mexico said that 27-year-old Jabin Bogan was freed from a maximum security prison in the state of Veracruz. It did not say why immigration authorities were holding him, or when he is expected to return to the U.S., but Bogan likely is accused of violating immigration rules when he entered Mexico. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more


Excop sentenced for Russian journalists murder

first_imgMOSCOW (AP) – A Moscow judge has sentenced a former police officer to 11 years in prison and fined him 3 million rubles (about $100,000) for his part in the 2006 murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, who prosecutors claimed helped to track Politkovskaya’s movements and provided the triggerman with a gun, had struck a plea bargain that qualified him for a reduced sentence in exchange for his cooperation. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories Politkovskaya’s family opposed the deal, which allowed Pavlyuchenkov to admit his guilt without testifying, on the grounds that it would not help find the masterminds of the killing.The alleged triggerman and four other defendants will be tried separately.Politkovskaya, a sharp critic of Kremlin policies in Chechnya, was gunned down in her apartment building on Oct. 7, 2006.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvementcenter_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories Quick workouts for men Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img read more


Israel warns of growing jihadi threat from Syria

first_imgThe officer said 1,200 fighters belonging to five radical Islamic groups, including three with direct links to al-Qaida and the Nusra Front, were already in the Gaza Strip and have fired rockets at Israel from the Palestinian territory.He said the infiltration has thus far been largely kept out of Israel and the West Bank, thanks to joint Israeli and Palestinian efforts. But dangers loom on that front too.Just this week, Israel said it had broken up an al-Qaida plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and major convention center in Jerusalem _ the first time Israel explicitly accused the group of being behind an attempted attack. Palestinian security forces recently arrested about 20 young men who allegedly tried to set up an organization of ultraconservative Salafis.Last November, Israeli forces killed three members of that group in a shootout in the city of Hebron. Israeli security officials say there is some cooperation with their Palestinian counterparts in the West Bank to keep the Salafis under watch.___Associated Press writer Ryan Lucas in Beirut contributed to this report.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility But that may not be the case anymore. “The longer the war in Syria continues, the more jihadists and radicals are coming to this territory,” the official said.Israel, which borders southwestern Syria, has periodically called for Assad’s ouster, particularly after reports of his use of chemical weapons and other atrocities against civilians. But at the same time it has been wary of saying or doing anything more fearing that any group that supplants him would be a far more dangerous adversary.“Formally it hasn’t changed,” the high-ranking officer said of Israel’s policy. But, he said, many discussions are taking place behind closed doors about the possibility of rethinking that strategy.The jihadis currently control most of the Syrian territory that directly borders Israel, although they have not fired rockets or missiles at Israeli territory.Two al-Qaida-linked groups are known to operate in Syria _ Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as Nusra Front, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The groups, which have both been designated terrorist organizations by the United States, have been bolstered by the influx of thousands of foreign fighters from across the Muslim world as well as Europe and North America who have flocked to Syria to take up arms against Assad. Top Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation The Israeli official estimated that just two years ago there were only about 2,000 jihadis in Syria but claimed the number has mushroomed to more than 30,000 as the conflict has dragged on, presenting the Middle East with a far more dangerous threat. He claimed that the Islamic rebel groups in Syria currently focused on toppling Assad intend to turn their sites on Israel after dispatching the Syrian government.“After Assad and after establishing or strengthening their foothold in Syria they are going to move and deflect their effort and attack Israel,” he told The Associated Press.Israeli officials cite at least two cases of recent rocket fire from Lebanon they attribute to the al-Qaida-linked groups _ although independent observers widely interpreted those as an attempt by extremist groups to prompt Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon, where the Assad-allied Lebanese Hezbollah militant group has a strong presence.Aside from a few airstrikes against what were believed to be advanced weapons shipments from Syria into Lebanon, Israel has kept a low profile since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011, hoping to avoid being dragged into the conflict.With the absence of any potential ally and any hope that a good resolution could come from the fighting, Israeli conventional wisdom has held that it was better off with it continuing and having the rival forces stay busy butchering each other rather than noticing Israel. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   Other rebel groups that are generally included in Israel’s definition, including Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam, follow an ultraconservative ideology and call for the creation of an Islamic state, but have a more nationalist bent than the al-Qaida-affiliated factions and are not proponents of so-called “global jihad.”Aron Lund, editor of the Carnegie Endowment’s “Syria in Crisis” website, said the home-grown rebel groups such as Arhar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam are focused on fighting in Syria and toppling Assad, not staging global attacks.Lund was also wary of any figures for al-Qaida-linked fighters in Syria, noting the difficulty in accurately determining such numbers amid the blurry lines of the country’s chaotic conflict.“I don’t even know how you calculate that. Who’s a fighter? Is it anyone with a gun, or is it anyone fighting at the front lines? Is it anyone helping out doing media work and medical work and organization?” he said. “I’m very skeptical of the comparisons that the uprising is X percent this and X percent that.”To Israel, Assad is a bitter enemy, an ally of Iran and a major backer of Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla attacks against it. But like his father whom he succeeded as president, he has faithfully observed U.S.-brokered accords that ended the 1973 war with Israel. The Golan Heights frontier has remained quiet for the past 40 years, with only recent instances of cross-border fire disturbing the peace. To this point Israel believes most of the fire against it has been accidental, spillover from internal battles. TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – A sharp increase in the number of al-Qaida linked fighters joining the fight against President Bashar Assad in Syria is threatening to spill over the borders and prompting the Jewish state to re-evaluate its policy of neutrality in the civil war next door, a senior Israeli intelligence official warned on Friday.The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because military regulations prevent him from releasing the information, claimed more than 30,000 al-Qaida linked fighters are active in Syria, a huge increase over previous Western estimates. He did not disclose how Israel reached the figure or specify which groups were included in the count, only defining the fighters as believers in “global jihad,” which he said meant a mix of those linked to al-Qaida or inspired by the terror network.last_img read more