Afghan official 21 dead 8 wounded in wedding gunfight

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top holiday drink recipes The Taliban, who often exaggerate battlefield gains, said in a statement that 100 police in Sari Pul had defected to their side, a claim Jabarkhail denied.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A shootout at a wedding party in northern Afghanistan has left 21 people dead and eight wounded, an official said Monday.Abdul Jabar Perdili, police chief of Baghlan province, said a gunfight broke out between two groups attending the wedding in Dih Salah district late Sunday. He said that most of the dead were wedding guests and at least two of the wounded were younger than 18 years old. Top Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Perdili’s spokesman, Jaweed Basharat, had earlier said that 10 people were wounded. Conflicting accounts are common in the chaotic aftermath of violent incidents.Baghlan and other provinces of the north have been plagued by insurgent attacks since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 that toppled the Taliban. However, the war is often used as a cover for criminal activity and personal feuds.The police chief of Dih Salah, Col. Gulistan Qasani, said hostility between the two groups involved in the gunfight had been simmering for many years.“The clash broke out after a relative of a provincial police official was assassinated during the wedding party,” Qasani said.He said some 400 people had gathered at a private house for the wedding of a local mullah’s son.“When we collected the bodies it was difficult to determine who were the shooters and who were not, because I could not find any weapons,” Qasani said.Meanwhile in northern Sari Pul province, a local police commander and seven of his men surrendered to the Taliban in Kohistanat district, according to provincial police chief Gen. Mohammad Asef Jabarkhail.Jabarkhail said the surrender came after Taliban fighters attacked police checkpoints on Sunday. Reinforcements have reached the area to support police still fighting, he said. Comments   Share   Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img read more

Court orders EPA to redo airpollution limits in 13 states

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to relax some limits it set on smokestack emissions that cross state lines and taint downwind areas with air pollution from power plants.At the same time, the court upheld the EPA’s right to impose the clean-air standards, rejecting an argument by states and industry groups that the rule was overly burdensome. The EPA remains committed to working with states and power companies as it moves to implement the rule, spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said. “We are reviewing the decision and will determine any appropriate further course of action once our review is complete,” she said.The Supreme Court said the EPA, under the Clean Air Act, can implement federal plans in states that do not adequately control downwind pollution. But the court also ruled that the EPA can consider the cost of pollution controls and does not have to require states to reduce pollution by the precise amount they send to downwind states.The appeals court, in its ruling, said the EPA’s rule imposed overly strict limits on the 13 upwind states. As a practical matter, the limits would result in downwind states “overachieving” air quality standards for harmful pollutants, the court said.Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, an environmental advocacy group, scoffed at the idea that the EPA rule was overly strict.“The reality is we need more pollution control of power plants, not less,” he said, noting that the pollution standards used by the EPA were developed in the 1990s. The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit orders the EPA to redo sulfur-dioxide and nitrogen-oxide standards for 13 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, that contribute to soot and smog along the East Coast.Texas and South Carolina would see limits for both forms of pollution adjusted, while new limits for either sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides would be set in 11 other states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.The ruling follows a Supreme Court decision last year upholding the so-called Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which blocks states from adding to air pollution in other states.The April 2014 ruling was an important victory for the Obama administration and capped a decades-long effort by the EPA to ensure that states are good neighbors and don’t contribute to pollution problems elsewhere.Industry groups and many of the affected states have cast the rule as an attempt to step on states’ rights and shut down aging coal-fired power plants as part of what many Republicans call a “war on coal” by the Obama administration.An EPA spokeswoman said the agency was pleased that the court decision keeps the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in place “so that it continues to achieve important public health protections.” Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility “The targets involved in this case are so outmoded that they are almost irrelevant,” O’Donnell said.“We know in reality that these power plants are going to have to clean up even more to meet modern standards,” O’Donnell added, referring to new EPA rules on soot and smog expected in the next few months.The EPA also is expected to release a final rule as soon as next week on a historic plan to limit carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has said the agency will be flexible and work with states on the first-ever controls on power plants for the gases blamed for global warming.Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, called the court ruling a disappointment because it upholds the current regulation.“We are committed to clean air and water…but need balanced, achievable regulations that don’t leave manufacturers in constant regulatory limbo as the courts interpret overly aggressive policies,” he said.With the greenhouse gas and ozone regulations expected soon, “the need for that balance has never been greater,” he added.The EPA says the Cross-State Pollution Rule would cost power-plant operators about $800 million a year. Those investments would be far outweighed by the hundreds of billions of dollars in health-care savings from cleaner air, the agency said. The rule could prevent more than 30,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of illnesses each year, the EPA said. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Parents, stop beating yourself up Top holiday drink recipes Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The difference between men and women when it comes to pain New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies ___Follow Matthew Daly: © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Comments   Share   last_img read more

Princess Cruises orders two newbuild ships

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Princess Cruises will be welcoming two new ships into its worldwide fleet as it announced a new contract with Italian ship-builder Fincantieri for the construction of two 3,600-passenger cruise ships.Scheduled to enter service in spring 2013 and spring 2014, parent company Carnival Corporation said that coming in at 139,000 tons each they would be the biggest ships so far in the Princess Cruises fleet.“The new ships – which will have an all-in cost of approximately euro 155,000 per lower berth – are scheduled to enter service in spring 2013 and spring 2014,” said Carnival in a statement.Carnival Corporation had also commissioned Fincantieri to build ships for its Costa Cruises brand. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.Xlast_img read more

Disney sets sail with cruise expansion

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: D.M DCL Fleet Donald – Alaska Dream Renderingcenter_img Disney Cruise Line has announced two new itineraries incorporating Alaska and Mexico, bringing voyages back to the West Coast in 2011, in conjunction with the debut of its newest ship, Disney Dream early next year.Touted as a leader in family cruising, passengers under 17 will also be able to cruise free on its new seven-night cruises to the Mexican Riviera aboard the Disney Wonder commencing January 23 to March 20 2011, when accompanied by two full-fare paying guests occupying the same stateroom.In a world first, Disney Cruise Line will offer Alaska voyages, departing from Vancouver B.C next year.  The Alaska cruises is expected to be a hit with both adults and youngsters, combining natural wonder and adventure.“Alaska is a market rich in culture and heritage that can tell a story.  We are looking at it as a destination we feel could deliver a superior product,” Disney Destinations Executive Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Travel Operations, Randy Garfield said.The four-month season of seven-night sailings aboard the Disney Wonder in 2011 will call into popular ports such as Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. According to Disney Cruise Line, guests demands have been met with voyages on the Disney Magic’s return to the Mediterranean in 2011 with 10- and 11-night cruises departing from Barcelona.  The itinerary will incorporate ports of Italy, France and Spain, as well as Tunis in northern Africa and Malta. Disney Cruise Line is also the only cruise ship in the world to conduct fireworks at sea, and have plans to offer a first-of-its-kind water coaster spanning above four upper decks of its brand new Disney Dream.Disney Dream, currently being built in Germany, will be 40 per cent larger than its sister ships.“Disney Dream will be the most spectacular ship afloat taking family cruising to new heights,” Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz said.“The unique advantage of Disney Cruise Line is that we offer a customized ship experience that brings families together, while still catering to the personalized vacation needs of every guest who sails with us.” The Disney Dream will also feature a Virtual Porthole for all guests staying in the inside staterooms, giving a real-time view outside the ship, which will also from time to time, be visited by Disney characters. AquaDucklast_img read more

Two Tahiti Hilton hotels honoured at awards

first_imgSource = Hilton International The Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa and the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa have earned rankings at this year’s TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice awards.The Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa was chosen as number four in the South Pacific in the Relaxation/Spa Hotel category and number five in the Romance Hotel category.Named by author James Michener the “most beautiful lagoon in the world”, the Bora Bora hotel is located in a sacred cove.Guests arrive at the resort’s floating lobby by private yacht and can stay at villas on the lush hillside, white sand beach or over the water.Meanwhile, the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa was ranked near the top at number four in the Romance Hotel category and number seven in the Relaxation/Spa Hotel category.The Moorea resort, also recipient of the 2010 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, sits between a 10-acre lagoon and the mountainside and had a $11 million renovation, completed in May 2010.Now in its ninth year, the annual awards honour the world’s best hotels, earning their distinction from the reviews of real travelers.Winners are based on the millions of unbiased reviews and opinions about hotels on read more

Tourism big business for Australia

first_imgTourism adds AUD$34 billion to Australia’s gross domestic product Image source: As celebrations subside from World Tourism Day earlier this week, the Accommodation Association reflects on the economic importance of Australia’s tourism industry.Accommodation Association of Australia Chief Executive Richard Munro stated tourism and accommodation businesses are one of Australia’s largest and most important industries.“Tourism adds $34 billion to Australia’s gross domestic product, generates exports of around $25 billion annually and employs more than 500,000 people in this country,” Mr Munro said.“It is also one of the few industries that extends to almost every part of Australia.”Mr Munro said the Australian tourism industry including the accommodation sector has had its fair share of challenges over the last decade with the slowing number of overseas arrivals and the high Aussie dollar.“With the dollar dropping below parity, there are now signs of respite for tourism businesses that are directly exposed by the value of our currency,” Mr Munro said.Mr Munro said that this change has provided a much needed optimism among accommodation operators as they prepare themselves for the busy summer holiday period.“The recent Tourism Australia marketing campaign to encourage more Australians to take a break within Australia is also anticipated to add value.”last_img read more

Sheraton spreads its wings worldwide

first_imgStrong focus on China and other emerging markets. Image: Sheraton Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Half of Starwood’s new Sheraton hotels to be opened within the next 12 months will be in China, as demand continues to grow for second and third tier properties throughout the country.This will be the fourth consecutive year that Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has opened approximately half of its new hotels in China, moving closer to its target of 80 properties by 2015 in the growing market.“The Sheraton growth trajectory in China has been nothing short of remarkable,” Sheraton Hotels & Resorts global brand leader Hoyt Harper said. “Our portfolio is stronger than ever following our highly successful brand-wide revitalisation and multi-billion dollar investment to enhance the Sheraton brand over the past several years.”Sheraton plans to open 30 hotels over the next 12 months, expanding into new and emerging markets.The brand’s portfolio in Africa and the Middle East will develop over the next 12 months with the addition of four new hotels, including the fourth Sheraton in Saudi Arabia – Sheraton Medina Hotel, Sheraton Dubai Mall of Emirates and the first in Tajikistan – Sheraton Dushanbe Hotel. Sheraton also plans to open two new hotels in the Turkish cities of Adana and Bursa, while also opening properties in New Caledonia and India. The Sheraton brand is increasing its footprint across Latin America, opening in Brazil and Argentina ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. Sheraton will also re-brand hotels in a number of key cities throughout the U.S. over the next 12 months. “Our portfolio is stronger than ever following our highly successful brand-wide revitalisation and multi-billion dollar investment to enhance the Sheraton brand over the past several years,” Mr Harper said.last_img read more

Minor evacuation at Melbourne Airport

first_imgIt’s “business as usual again” at Melbourne Airport, according to the gateway’s Twitter account, after a smoke in a computer room at the Melbourne Control Centre disrupted a few services yesterday morning.According to the an online update, although the smoke did not affect the airport’s air traffic control tower, there was a partial evacuation by air traffic control staff, which lead to aircraft in the southern flight information region temporarily held on the ground at all ports.“Airborne aircraft were controlled and managed normally for a landing and air traffic control tower services continued to be provided at all airports around the country,” the statement read.Fire fighters located at the airport helped resolve the issue within minutes, according to the airport, and no one was reported injured.Meanwhile, the airport also announced today a three percent increase in passenger numbers during February this year compared to the same month 2012.Click here for more information.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J. Operations return to normal. last_img read more

Air NZ Virgin Australia transTasman alliance receives conditional ap

first_img“The ACCC notes that the weighing up of likely public benefit and detriment was finely balanced and it was only with the proposed conditions that the ACCC reached the preliminary view that the alliance is likely to result in a net public benefit,” Dr Walker said. Draft approval to continue their trans-Tasman alliance. Source = ETB News: NJ Dr Walker noted that without the alliance, competition between Australia and New Zealand would be more limited, particularly with the recent cooperation between Qantas and Emirates. Although originally hoping to continue to the relationship for another five years, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) commissioner Jill Walker said due to potential impact of competition on certain routes, it would be appropriate to review the alliance earlier than the five years requested by Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand. However, the ACCC commissioner did request certain conditions be put in place on certain services that may experience reduced competition as a result of the union, by maintaining capacity on the routes.center_img Routes include Christchurch-Melbourne and Christchurch-Brisbane; Wellington-Brisbane; Queenstown-Brisbane; Auckland-Gold Coast; and Dunedin-Sydney, Dunedin-Melbourne and Dunedin-Brisbane. She said allowing Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand to continue linking network and sales will likely benefit the travelling public through “enhanced products and services”. Submissions on the draft decisions are welcome. Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand have received draft approval to continue their trans-Tasmania alliance for another three years.last_img read more

Fairmont to bask in Dalai Lamas ocean of wisdom

first_imgSource = ETB News, T.N. “Having the entire resort secured by His Holiness and delegation together with its location will complement the retreat nature tremendously,” Fairmont Blue Resort Blue Mountains MGallery director Bernie Boller said.    “Situated in the Blue Mountains National Park, the area is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, listed for its remarkable geographic, botanic and cultural values, including the protection of sites with Aboriginal cultural significance,”  The “Ocean of Wisdom Australian Visit” will be the Dalai Lama’s tenth visit to Australia, where he will visit Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.  The Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains will host the Dalai Lama in his next tour of Australia in 2015. center_img “All these will ensure a tranquil setting for such a rare and exclusive event.” The Dalai Lama will visit Australia from the 4 June to 15 June 2015.  His Holiness will be running a ‘Highest Yoga Tantra Initiation and Teaching’ retreat for hand-picked Buddhists to progress to the next level of practice. last_img read more

Personal Travel Managers Like a Local Hawaii Experience

first_img TravelManagers Australiabecome a Personal Travel Manager here Keeping on the right side of the law during their Hawaii famil are personal travel managers from left to right Sharon Wright, Aileen Collins, Lisa Leary, Michelle Thomas, Louise McCarthy and Kerrin Poupos in the safe custody of Rachel Fitze of Hawaiian Airlines.Personal Travel Managers Like a Local Hawaii ExperienceExperiencing the Hawaiian Islands just like a client would, was the highlight for TravelManagers’ personal travel managers who recently experienced the best of ‘Valley Isle’ of Maui and the main island of Oahu had to offer on a recent six-night exclusive TravelManagers educational.The bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku welcomes personal travel managers from left to right Kerrin Poupos, Louise McCarthy, Michelle Thomas Aileen Collins Rachel Fitze (Hawaiian Airlines) and Lisa Leary to WaikikiNigel Rodighiero from Viva! Holidays and Rachel Fitze from Hawaiian Airways hosted famil participants Michelle Thomas, Louise McCarthy, Kerrin Poupos and Sharon Wright from New South Wales with Lisa Leary and Aileen Collins from Queensland.Having the ability to share personal travel experiences and product knowledge with clients is an absolute priority for Aileen Collins, representative for Carrara in Queensland.“The opportunity to self-drive and explore the islands, see how the locals live, visit the supermarket, shopping centres, read the local papers and go to a local event rather than follow the usual tourist trail was hugely appealing. Being immersed in the culture and understanding exactly what our clients would do, has been invaluable and I can now sell this destination with absolute confidence.”Maui is famed for its beautiful beaches, but it was the views from Mt Haleakala, Maui’s highest peak at over 10,000 feet, that personal travel manager Lisa Leary, representative for Cedar Creek in Queensland found captivating.“It is a long and winding road and it took us about an hour and a half to reach the summit. But it was certainly well worth the effort to see the world’s largest dormant volcano. Gazing into the huge and colourful crater was incredibly awe-inspiring and the views out across Haleakala National Park and the island were breath taking.”The ability to self-drive enabled the personal travel managers to explore the island and experience local restaurants and cafes.Personal travel manager Aileen Collins discovers a decent coffee at the newly opened Bills Cafe in Waikiki“The famous Australian foodie Bill Grainger has just opened a Bills café in Waikiki – so now you can really get a decent coffee! Aussies are such coffee snobs that the brewed variety and Starbucks just doesn’t make the grade,” says Collins.Collins also discovered the ABC Stores to be a great multi-purpose convenience store.“The ABC Stores have everything! They really are the best place to shop – fresh food to go and packaged food to bring home (the mango, banana and coconut pancake mixes are outstanding and make a great present), reasonably priced non tacky souvenirs, pharmacy items, fabulous sarongs, sun dresses, sandals and best of all amazing low cost alcohol. You can get a good Australian wine for only US$12 a bottle – no need to bring duty-free from Australia.”The group experienced Hawaiian Airways and Leary is a real fan of both the destination and the airline.“Hawaii is such a fabulous destination and I highly recommend your stay include one of the outer islands as it’s quite a different feel to Waikiki, which really is quite busy. With regular Hawaiian Airlines flights now out of Brisbane, not only does it provide direct flights to Hawaii, the airline provides a great alternative routing to many USA destinations without having to stopover in Los Angeles. I recommend and use their services a lot.”TravelManagers attribute the exceptional, strong and effective business relationships with key airline, cruise and wholesale suppliers with providing personal travel managers the ability to experience exclusive educationals, to a variety of worldwide destinations.Executive General Manager – Michael Gazal“Supplier relationships have been built over many years and support of our preferred products is absolutely key to our business model. The ability for our personal travel managers to experience dedicated famils is a large part of this support, says Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal.Gazal further adds that “TravelManagers prides itself on providing exceptional and personal customer service which comes from first-hand knowledge and experience. Educationals that allow immersion into a destination, such as our co-created dedicated supplier famils, are so important and why we proactively work to provide as many educational opportunities as possible.”For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599. ENDSAbout TravelManagers Travel 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 $1.5 billion for 2015. TravelManagers is a sister company to Hoot Holidays, also owned by House of Travel, and has more than 490 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 only used for client purchases. Source = TravelManagers Australialast_img read more

Quito leads winners at World Travel Awards Latin America

first_imgQuito leads winners at World Travel Awards Latin AmericaQuito Tourism has led winners at the World Travel Awards Latin America Gala Ceremony 2016, taking the title of Latin America’s Leading Destination for the fourth consecutive year.Also among the winners at the red carpet event hosted by Swissôtel Lima was PromPerú, recognised by World Travel Awards voters as South America’s Leading Tourist Board for the first time.The event, hosted by Peruvian stars Ana María Picasso and Manuel Ilich, also saw American carrier Delta Air Lines presented with trophies for United States’ Leading Airline to South America, United States’ Leading Airline to Central America and United States’ Leading Airline to Mexico.World Travel Awards President Graham Cooke said: “Tonight has been a celebration of all that is great in Latin American tourism.“We have seen the best hotels, airlines, tourist boards and hospitality brands recognised by voters from around the globe and it is an honour to present them with prestigious World Travel Awards trophies this evening.”He added: “All the winners from this evening will now move forward to the World Travel Awards Grand Final, this year taking place in Maldives, where we will recognise our global winners.”Hundreds of leaders from across the hospitality industry were in attendance at the ceremony, with host Swissôtel Lima taking the prizes for Latin America’s Leading Hotel and Latin America’s Leading Business Hotel.Mexican airline AeroMéxico took the title of Mexico & Central America’s Leading Airline, while Colombian hotspot Medellin was recognised as South America’s Leading City Break Destination.World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.Today, the World Travel Awards brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire.Each year World Travel Awards covers the globe with a series of regional gala ceremonies staged to recognise and celebrate individual and collective successes within each key geographical region. World Travel Awards Gala CeremonySource = World Travel Awardslast_img read more

Singapore Airlines new cabin products to redefine

first_imgSingapore Airlines’ new cabin products to redefineSingapore Airlines’ new cabin products to redefineSingapore Airlines today unveiled its highly-anticipated new cabin products which will be fitted to its Airbus A380 fleet starting from next month, following an extensive four-year development programme.Riding on the theme of “Space made personal, experience the difference”, the new cabin offerings provide more space and privacy in all classes, featuring intimate and bespoke elements designed especially for the Singapore Airlines customer.The new cabin products were displayed for the first time today at a media launch in Singapore. They will enter service next month on the first of five new A380 aircraft entering the fleet. Retrofit work will also take place on 14 existing aircraft, to ensure product consistency across the Airline’s entire A380 fleet.The new Singapore Airlines A380 will be configured with 471 seats in four classes, featuring six Singapore Airlines Suites and 78 Business Class seats on the upper deck, as well as 44 Premium Economy Class seats and 343 Economy Class seats on the main deck.The research, design, development and installation of the new products on 19 Singapore Airlines A380s represents an investment of about USD850 million.Singapore Airlines SuitesWith six Suites tucked spaciously within the front cabin of the upper deck, customers will experience a sense of exclusivity and intimate privacy aboard the A380.Behind its artistically-designed sliding door lies a personal oasis complete with lavish furnishing and finishes. Each Suite is furnished with a separate full-flat bed with adjustable recline and plush leather chair, enabling customers to lounge comfortably in the chair or rest in bed without the need to convert the bed from a sitting position. For couples travelling together, the beds in the first two Suites of each aisle can be converted to form a double bed. When not in use, the bed can be stowed completely, creating even more personal space within each Suite.Each seat is upholstered by world-renowned Poltrona Frau in fine leather, and is fully adjustable using an electronic control side panel which can accommodate a variety of sitting and lounging positions. The swivel capability of the chair (between 135 and 270 degrees) with recline up to 45 degrees provides added flexibility for dining and relaxation.Each Suite also has a 32-inch full HD monitor that can swivel for the different viewing angles in seat and bed modes, a full-sized personal wardrobe, customised handbag stowage compartment, amenity box lined with soft leather, specially designed carpet and a feature wall with mood lighting – all exquisitely crafted to give a touch of luxury and intimacy.The exclusivity of the Suites cabin is further accentuated by its two stylishly-furnished lavatories, one of which has a sit-down vanity counter.The new Suites were designed by Pierrejean Design Studio and manufactured by Zodiac Seats UK.Business ClassDesigned by JPA Design of the UK and manufactured for Singapore Airlines by JAMCO Corporation of Japan, the interior of the Business Class cabin showcases a modern yet organic colour scheme featuring a selection of soothing and classy leather and fabrics, in addition to lightweight carbon composite materials.Measuring 25 inches in width, the Business Class seat, which has two side wings for better back support, reclines directly into a comfortable full-flat bed (78 inches). Customers may also stretch out fully in a ‘sun-deck’ position to watch movies on the 18-inch high definition touch-screen monitor. The Business Class seat is upholstered by Poltrona Frau as well.A larger back shell on every seat creates a cocoon-like feel for more privacy while the centre divider can be fully lowered to form double beds, making the two centre seats an ideal choice for customers such as families travelling together.A unique feature of the new Business Class seat is that it has a carbon fibre composite shell structure, as compared to conventional aircraft seats which use metal as the primary support structure. This thinner base structure allows for better optimisation of the seat and creates more under-seat stowage space to accommodate a full-sized cabin bag and laptop bag or handbag.Seats in the Business Class cabin are arranged in a forward-facing, four-abreast(1-2-1) configuration that offers all customers direct access to the aisle.Other features include a business panel equipped with USB ports and in-seat power, reading lights with adjustable brightness level, mood lighting, enlarged dining table designed for flexibility in dining positions, as well as stowage space for personal amenities with a thoughtful design that puts everything within easy reach.Premium Economy ClassPremium Economy Class comes with a contemporary and stylish design. Each seat is 19.5 inches wide, with eight-inch recline and seat pitch of 38 inches. Customers will be treated to an enhanced in-flight entertainment experience with the provision of active noise-cancelling headphones and a sleek 13.3-inch full HD monitor.Other features include a full leather finishing, calf-rest and foot-bar for every seat, individual in-seat power supply, two USB ports, personal in-seat reading light, cocktail table, and more stowage space for personal items.The Premium Economy Class seat was manufactured by ZIM Flugsitz GmbH and customised by design firm JPA Design.Economy ClassThe Economy Class seat, designed and built by RECARO, offers more space and greater comfort through an improved design. Leveraging on advanced technology and ergonomics, seats offer more legroom and back support, with a six-way adjustable headrest with foldable wings. The Economy Class seat also features a more contemporary fabric seat cover design.An 11.1-inch touch-screen monitor eliminates the need for handsets and offers more convenience to customers who wish to catch the latest movies on KrisWorld, Singapore Airlines’ award-winning in-flight entertainment system.Other features include a patented non-intrusive reading light installed underneath the seatback screen, personal storage space for small personal items, a coat hook, in-seat power supply and ergonomically designed footrest with adjustable positions.“The significant investment that we are making with the introduction of new cabin products demonstrates our commitment to continued investment in products and services, our long-term approach to ensure we retain our leadership position, and our confidence in the future of premium full-service air travel,” said SIA CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong.“The new cabin products are the culmination of four years of work, involving extensive customer research and close partnerships with our designers and suppliers. We are confident that the results will genuinely ‘wow’ our customers, and ensure that we continue to provide them an unparalleled travel experience.”More information on the new cabin products can be found at High resolution images are available at A video of the new products is also available at = Singapore Airlineslast_img read more

Wyndham Destinations Reports Second Quarter 2018 Results

first_imgRepurchased $42 million of stock in the second quarter, including $15 million in June.Reaffirmed full-year 2018 revenue and further adjusted EBITDA guidance and increased further adjusted diluted EPS guidance to $4.74 – $4.94.“During the second quarter Wyndham Destinations completed the spin-off of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts to become a pure-play vacation ownership and exchange company,” said Michael D. Brown, president and chief executive officer of Wyndham Destinations.“Our team has executed extremely well on our key strategic priorities over a busy period. We are very pleased with a strong second quarter to finish a robust first half of 2018, with solid results in both of our operating segments. During the second quarter, we increased further adjusted EBITDA by 7%, EBITDA margin by 90 basis points, new owner mix by 260 basis points and initiated our first post-spin buyback of Wyndham Destinations shares.”“Looking ahead, we are committed to driving growth in our core business and delivering value to our shareholders. Wyndham Destinations is on track and today we reaffirm our full-year revenue and further adjusted EBITDA guidance and commitment to return capital to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases,” said Brown. Wyndham DestinationsWyndham Destinations Reports Second Quarter 2018 ResultsWyndham Destinations, Inc. (NYSE:WYND), which began trading under the ticker WYND on June 1, 2018, reported second quarter 2018 financial results for the three months ended June 30, 2018.Results are reported in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and are also reported adjusting for certain items (non-GAAP). The Company is also presenting non-GAAP results for the three and six month periods ended June 30, 2018 and 2017 on a further adjusted basis as if the spin-off of its hotel business and the sale of its European vacation rentals business had occurred for all periods presented. A full reconciliation of GAAP results to the Company’s non-GAAP measures for all reported periods are available in the financial tables section of this press release.Highlights include:Reported revenue, net income and diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.0 billion, $378 million and $3.77, respectively.Further adjusted net income increased 9% to $125 million. Further adjusted diluted EPS increased 14% to $1.25, compared to guidance of $1.13 – $1.23.Further adjusted EBITDA increased 7% to $249 million, compared to guidance of $240 – $250 million. Results From Continuing OperationsOn May 9, 2018, the Company sold its European vacation rentals business to an affiliate of Platinum Equity, LLC, generating net proceeds of $1.03 billion and on May 31, 2018, the Company completed the spin-off of its hotel business into a separate publicly traded company. Wyndham Destinations is the world’s largest vacation ownership and exchange company. For all periods presented, the results of operations for the hotel business and the European vacation rentals business have been classified as discontinued operations.During the second quarter of 2018, reported revenues, loss from continuing operations and loss from continuing operations per diluted share from continuing operations were $1.0 billion, $(12) million and $(0.12), respectively. This compared to reported revenues of $978 million, income from continuing operations of $14 million and diluted EPS from continuing operations of $0.13 in the second quarter of 2017. Total second quarter 2018 adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations increased 7% to $243 million.Company Results — Further AdjustedSecond quarter 2018 and 2017 further adjusted results are presented as if Wyndham Destinations were separated from Wyndham Hotels & Resorts for all periods presented.During the second quarter of 2018, further adjusted net income was $125 million and further adjusted diluted EPS was $1.25 based on 100 million diluted shares outstanding. Further adjusted EBITDA was $249 million compared to $233 million in the second quarter of 2017 and was within the Company’s guidance of $240 million to $250 million.In the second quarter of 2018, further adjusted EBITDA as compared to adjusted EBITDA included $5 million of incremental license fee expense and other changes being effected in conjunction with the spin-off for the first two months of the second quarter of 2018. In addition, results excluded $11 million of corporate and other costs to reflect the Company’s position as if the spin-off of its hotel business and the sale of its European vacation rentals business had occurred for all periods presented.In the second quarter of 2017, further adjusted EBITDA, as compared to adjusted EBITDA, included $7 million of incremental license fee expense and other changes being effected in conjunction with the spin-off for the entire second quarter of 2017. In addition, results excluded $12 million of corporate and other costs to reflect the Company’s position as if the spin-off of its hotel business and the sale of its European vacation rentals business had occurred for all periods presented.Business Segment ResultsVacation ownership revenues increased 3%, primarily due to a 7% increase in gross vacation ownership interest (VOI) sales of $602 million and offset by increases in the mix of fee-for-service sales as well as an increase in the loan loss provision. Tour flow increased 3% and Volume Per Guest (VPG) increased 5%. The mix of new owner sales increased 260 basis points year-over-year and new owner sales volume increased 16%.Vacation Ownership further adjusted EBITDA increased 5% to $188 million, primarily due to revenue growth of 3%, consumer finance income growth and cost efficiencies in general and administrative expenses.Consumer finance gross receivables grew 5% year-over-year to $3.6 billion. The provision for loan loss as a percentage of gross VOI sales, net of fee-for-service sales was 21.4% at the end of the second quarter of 2018. The provision for loan loss increased to $126 million, with the $16 million year-over-year increase due to $7 million of higher financing volume and $9 million of higher default activity. The allowance for loan losses as a percentage of the Company’s loan portfolio was 19.5% at the end of the second quarter of 2018, compared to 19.2% at the end of first quarter of 2018.Exchange & Rentals revenues increased 2%, primarily due to 1% growth in average members. Further adjusted EBITDA increased $5 million, or 8%, including a $3 million benefit from currency. Excluding the effect of currency, further adjusted EBITDA would have increased 3%.Balance Sheet and LiquidityNet Debt — As of June 30, 2018, the Company’s leverage ratio was 2.9x. The Company had $3.0 billion of corporate debt outstanding, which excluded $2.1 billion of non-recourse debt related to its securitized notes receivable. Additionally, the Company had cash and cash equivalents of $155 million. The Company used the proceeds from the sale of the European Vacation Rentals business primarily to repay outstanding debt. Refer to Table 9 for definitions of net debt and leverage ratio.Cash Flow — For the six months ended June 30, 2018, net cash provided by continuing operations was $93 million, compared to $231 million in the prior year period. Free cash flow from continuing operations was $45 million for the six months ended June 30, 2018, compared to $88 million for the same period in 2017, primarily due to separation-related cash outlays in 2018. Further adjusted free cash flow was $195 million and $165 million for the same periods, respectively.Share Repurchases — During the first two months of the second quarter of 2018, the Company repurchased 0.2 million shares of common stock for $27 million at a weighted average price of $112.14 per share. Following the spin-off of its hotel business and during the month of June, the Company repurchased 0.3 million shares of common stock for $15 million at a weighted average price of $46.01 per share. As of June 30, 2018, the Company had $1.0 billion remaining in its share repurchase authorization.Dividend — The Company announced a cash dividend of $0.41 per share on July 27, 2018.Securitization — On April 18, 2018, the Company closed a private placement term securitization of $350 million with a weighted average coupon of 3.73% and an advance rate of 90.0%. Subsequent to the end of the quarter, on July 18, 2018, the Company closed a $500 million term securitization with a weighted average coupon of 3.65% and an advance rate of 88.7%.OutlookThe Company is reaffirming its full-year 2018 revenue and further adjusted EBITDA guidance as follows:Revenues of $3.975 billion to $4.085 billionFurther adjusted EBITDA of $955 million to $975 millionThe Company is revising its further adjusted full-year 2018 net income and diluted EPS guidance as follows:Further adjusted net income of $476 million to $496 million, compared to the previous expectation of $463 million to $483 millionStock based compensation of $16 million to $20 million, compared to the previous expectation of $33 million to $37 millionFurther adjusted diluted EPS of $4.74 to $4.94, compared to the previous expectation of $4.55 to $4.75, to reflect a lower share count of 101 million shares outstanding and lower stock based compensationThe Company’s guidance assumes that the spin-off of its hotel business and the sale of its European vacation rentals business had been completed on January 1, 2018. More detailed projections are available in Table 8 of this press release.In determining further adjusted net income, further adjusted EBITDA and further adjusted diluted EPS, the Company excludes certain items which are otherwise included in determining the comparable GAAP financial measures, as described in Table 5 of this press release. The Company is providing guidance on a further adjusted basis for net income, EBITDA and diluted EPS. This guidance is presented only on a non-GAAP further adjusted basis because not all of the information necessary for a quantitative reconciliation of forward-looking non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure is available without unreasonable effort, primarily due to uncertainties relating to the occurrence or amount of these adjustments that may arise in the future. Unavailable reconciling items could significantly impact the Company’s financial results. Please refer to Table 8 for further information.Presentation of Financial InformationFinancial information discussed in this press release includes non-GAAP measures, which include or exclude certain items. The Company utilizes non-GAAP measures on a regular basis to assess performance of its reportable segments and allocate resources. These non-GAAP measures differ from reported GAAP results and are intended to illustrate what management believes are relevant period-over-period comparisons and are helpful to investors as an additional tool for further understanding and assessing the Company’s ongoing operating performance. Management also internally uses these measures to assess our operating performance, both absolutely and in comparison to other companies, and in evaluating or making selected compensation decisions. Exclusion of items in the Company’s non-GAAP presentation should not be considered an inference that these items are unusual, infrequent or non-recurring. Full reconciliations of GAAP results to the comparable non-GAAP measures for the reported periods appear in the financial tables section of the press release.About Wyndham DestinationsWyndham Destinations (NYSE:WYND) believes in putting the world on vacation. Our global presence in 110 countries at more than 220 vacation ownership resorts and 4,300+ affiliated exchange properties distinguishes Wyndham Destinations as the world’s largest vacation ownership and exchange company, with North America’s largest professionally managed rental business. Each year our team of 25,000 associates delivers great vacations to millions of families as they make memories of a lifetime. Learn more at Our world is your destination.Forward-Looking StatementsThis press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements include those that convey management’s expectations as to the future based on plans, estimates and projections at the time Wyndham Destinations makes the statements and may be identified by words such as “will,” “expect,” “believe,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “goal,” “future,” “outlook,” “guidance,” “target,” “projection,” “estimate” and similar words or expressions, including the negative version of such words and expressions. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Wyndham Destinations to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release include statements related to Wyndham Destinations’ current views and expectations with respect to its future performance and operations (including the statements in the “Outlook” section of this press release). You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements include without limitation general economic conditions, the performance of the financial and credit markets, our ability to obtain financing, our credit ratings (including changes thereto as result of the spin-off and other related transactions), post-closing credit obligations as result of the sale of our European vacation rentals business, the economic environment for the timeshare industry, the impact of war, terrorist activity or political strife, operating risks associated with the vacation ownership and vacation exchange businesses, unanticipated developments related to the impact of the spin-off on our relationships with our customers, suppliers, employees and others with whom we have relationships, uncertainties related to our ability to realize the anticipated benefits of the spin-off, as well as those factors described in our Annual Report on Form 10-K, filed with the SEC on February 16, 2018, and subsequently filed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K. Except as required by law, Wyndham Destinations undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, subsequent events or otherwise.center_img Source = Wyndham Destinationslast_img read more

Diethelm Travel Group Named PATA Gold Awards Winner 2019

first_imgDiethelm Travel Group Named PATA Gold Awards Winner 2019Diethelm Travel Group Named PATA Gold Awards Winner 2019Leading Tour Operator Recognised for Distinctive Marketing Initiatives and ResultsDiethelm Travel Group (DTG), an award-winning inbound tour operator servicing Asia, has received the PATA Gold Award in the Marketing Media – E-newsletter category for 2019.Organised by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), the annual awards recognise outstanding efforts in the region’s tourism industry focusing on four primary categories: Marketing, Education and Training, Environment, and Heritage and Culture. This year, winners were selected by an independent judging committee from nearly 200 entries.Diethelm Travel’s winning submission highlighted a recent e-newsletter campaign which took a multi-dimensional approach sharing a variety of content types and incorporating creative sources to showcase a comprehensive look at Diethelm Travel’s sustainable and responsible tourism initiatives.Designed to spark increased awareness of Diethelm Travel’s products and serve as a resource for travel agents to become more educated about responsible travel in Asia, the e-newsletter performed noticeably better than previous mailings with above-average open and click rates. Many travel agents shared the travel tips provided within the content to their own clients before clients embarked on their Asian journeys – the true sign of a successful mailing as it showed the increased awareness, care and commitment of all parties involved to support responsible travel.“We’re always looking for new ways to communicate important information and essential resources to our valued clients and travel partners while also ensuring our message is thought-provoking, accessible and even entertaining,” said Siprang Srinarintranon, Diethelm Travel’s Group Director of Marketing. “It’s an honour to be recognised by PATA for our ongoing efforts. Not only is it gratifying to see our collective teamwork celebrated but it also motivates us to continue building on our successful marketing activities.” Dedicated to creating exclusive Journeys of a Lifetime across Asia for the past six decades, Diethelm Travel prides itself on its expert team of travel professionals worldwide.Source = Diethelm Travel Grouplast_img read more

How to get the most out of frequent flier miles

first_imgIn this video a frequent flier expert reveals how to earn points and elite status by making ‘mileage runs.’Source: CNNlast_img

StayWell Hospitality Group unveils Leisure Inn Shrey Jodhpur

first_imgAustralia’s StayWell Hospitality Group will extend its international footprint with the opening of the company’s fifth property in the Rajasthan market, the Leisure Inn Shrey in Jodhpur.Rohit Vig, Managing Director, StayWell Hospitality Group in India, said that the opening of the new property solidifies the brand’s presence in the region. He added, “We have signed 12 hotels under the Park Regis and Leisure Inn Brands, which will result in the opening of properties in Hyderabad, Goa, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Gurgaon–Sohna Road and Greater Noida.”The opening of Leisure Inn Shrey in partnership with Hukam Constructions & Hotels Pvt Ltd will deliver a rooftop restaurant and conference facilities along with well-appointed rooms and international service standards that the Leisure Inn brand is famous for.Shranik Jain, Owner of Hukam Constructions & Hotels Pvt Ltd said that the partnership with StayWell Hospitality Group was about aligning with the best possible global partner to enter the hospitality sector for the first time. He further added, “Our partnership will deliver premium hospitality expertise and a world-class experience to not only our guests but to the region, it’s an alignment we are extremely proud of as we feel we are in the best possible position for future success.”The launch of Leisure Inn Shrey was attended by the officials of StayWell Hospitality Group; Rohit Vig, Managing Director-India; Surbhi Vohra, Regional Director of Sales and Shranik Jain, Owner, Hukam Constructions & Hotels Pvt Ltd.last_img read more

Switzerland Tourism conducts 4city roadshow in India

first_imgIn a bid to promote Switzerland as a travel destination amongst the potential Indian travellers and travel trade, Switzerland Tourism recently organised the roadshow in Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata and Delhi. The roadshow saw participation of various hoteliers, transport partners, destinations and the travel trade partners from Switzerland. The key partners consisted of cities of Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken and St. Moritz, regions such as Lake Geneva Region amongst others. Notably, to lure the Indian travellers, Switzerland Tourism appointed actor Ranveer Singh as the brand ambassador in August 2016 to showcase various shades of Swiss tourism. In 2017, the country saw an increase of 23.4% in the overnight spent by the Indians. Speaking on the occasion, Claudio Zemp, Director- India, Switzerland Tourism quipped, “This year has also been a very exciting one for Switzerland Tourism with the passionate and effervescent Ranveer Singh continuing as our brand ambassador. His charm and energy are unparalleled, and he has showcased Switzerland in a very attractive and diverse light, be it adventure, sports, culture, food, new destinations or experiences. Each year, we see a growing interest among Indian travellers but 2017, thanks to Ranveer, the overnights have been extremely high.”“Our numbers this year are also encouraging, we are up 10% in hotel overnights in the period January to August 2018 as compared to the same period last year. Besides this campaign, we also continue our travel trade campaigns – with regular webinars, training sessions in Tier II and Tier III cities as well our new e-learning modules on the Switzerland Travel Academy,” he added. The roadshow received good response from the Indian travel trade who met and discussed business prospects with their swiss counterparts.Ritu Sharma, Deputy Director, Switzerland Tourism – India said, “Switzerland is the ideal travel destination for everyone because of the diversity in options it offers. It is a 365-day destination that is ready for visitors any time of the year. What also sets us apart in terms of the convenience and ease-of use for tourists is our Swiss Travel Pass – an all on one ticket valid on all modes of public transportation.”“We are happy to note that in the last few years, apart from the metro cities, we have managed to penetrate the Tier II/III markets as well and we see not only group travel but also FIT’s from these cities,” she continued.last_img read more

HUDs OIG Audit Finds loanDepot Originated Ineligible Loans

first_imgHUD’s OIG Audit Finds loanDepot Originated Ineligible Loans The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of HUD found that loanDepot, LLC, originated loans using ineligible downpayment assistance gifts out of HUD Federal H0using Administration (FHA) requirements, according to a recent audit.The audit was done based on a referral from HUD’s Quality Assurance Division detailing a separate lender that originated FHA-insured loans containing ineligible downpayment assistance gifts.The OIG found that loanDepot’s FHA-insured loans using Golden State downpayment gifts were not always in HUD compliance.This placed unnecessary risk on the FHA insurance fund including potential losses of $5.5 million for 62 loans with ineligible gifts and $16.1 million for 178 loans that likely contained ineligible gifts. Looking one year ahead, this is equal to at least $16 million in potential losses for loans originated with ineligible gifts and have higher risk of loss in the first year.The company also charged borrowers $13,726 in fees that were not “customary or reasonable,” the audit said. This happened because of loanDepot’s reliance on Golden State, acceptance of the Platinum Downpayment Assistance Program structure, and no due diligence conducted with regard to premium pricing, gifts, and fees.Thus, borrowers were forced to make higher mortgage payment due to the ineligible loans, which included the burden of funding the downpayment assistance program through the premium interest rate. FHA borrowers were also given higher than market interest rates in exchange for Golden State downpayment assistance.In addition, loanDepot allowed ineligible Golden State downpayment assistance gifts for at least 235 loans totaling $42.6 million.The OIG recommended that HUD “determine legal sufficiency to pursue civil and administrative remedies against loanDepot for incorrectly certifying that mortgages were eligible for FHA mortgage insurance.”OIG also Recommends that HUD require loanDepot to:Stop originating FHA loans with the ineligible giftsIndemnify HUD for the 62 loans with ineligible giftsIndemnify HUD for loans that likely contain ineligible gifts from the remaining 233 loansReimburse borrowers for $13,726 in fees that were not customary or reasonableReduce the interest rate for borrowers who received ineligible giftsReimburse borrowers for overpaid interest as a result of the premium interest rateUpdate all internal controls to include specific HUD requirements on gifts, premium rates, and allowable feesClick here to view the complete audit report. October 1, 2015 626 Views in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News, Originationcenter_img HUD Ineligible Loans loanDepot Office of the Inspector General 2015-10-01 Staff Writer Sharelast_img read more

Franklin American Mortgage is NAMB Double Diamond Industry Partner

first_img Tennessee headquartered Franklin American Mortgage Company has been chosen as the National Association of Mortgage Brokers’ (NAMB) double diamond partner for 2018, the company announced in a statement. This recognition is given annually to NAMB’s top performing partners.Franklin American Mortgage Company (FAMC) is proud to announce it will be a Double Diamond Industry Partner with the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB), a trade association of mortgage professionals, for 2018. This recognition is given annually to NAMB’s top contributing partners. NAMB provides education, certification and government affairs representation for the mortgage industry.Franklin American Mortgage’s NAMB sponsorships include regional and national NAMB shows and NAMB industry partnerships that have helped Franklin American Mortgage’s growth as one of the top wholesale lenders across the U.S. The privately-held mortgage banking firm is licensed to provide residential mortgages across the nation and has helped families and individuals achieve their dream of homeownership for nearly 25 years.“It is an honor to be a NAMB Double Diamond Industry Partner,” said Andrew Taylor, EVP and Director of National Sales at Franklin American Mortgage. “Franklin American Mortgage has supported the Mortgage Broker community for over 22 years and through our NAMB partnership we reaffirm our commitment to the Wholesale channel.” in News, Origination Franklin American Mortgage is NAMB Double Diamond Industry Partner Franklin American Mortgage homeowners industry mortgage NAMB Partnership wholesale Mortgage 2018-02-18 Radhika Ojhacenter_img Share February 18, 2018 518 Views last_img read more