An Egyptian military officer watches at a post in Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula, as seen from the Israel-Egypt border, in Kerem Shalom village, southern Israel, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Islamic militants on Wednesday unleashed a wave of simultaneous attacks, including suicide car bombings, on Egyptian army checkpoints in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, killing tens of soldiers, security and military officials said. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) CAIRO (AP) — Islamic militants unleashed a wave of simultaneous attacks Wednesday on Egyptian army checkpoints in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula. The coordinated assaults set off the fiercest clashes in decades in the peninsula, killing at least 53 soldiers and more than 50 insurgents, security and military officials said.Here’s a look at militant attacks in Egypt since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi from power nearly two years ago: 5 treatments for adult scoliosis –June 29, 2015: A car bomb kills Egypt’s chief prosecutor, who had overseen cases against thousands of Islamists, in the country’s first assassination of a senior official in 25 years.–June 10, 2015: Militants try to attack the ancient temple of Karnak in southern Egypt with a suicide bomber who blows himself up and two gunmen battling police. No sightseers were hurt in the thwarted assault.–June 3, 2015: Gunmen on a motorcycle open fire outside the famed Giza Pyramids, killing two police officers.–May 16, 2015: Three judges are gunned down in the Sinai peninsula after a court sentences ousted President Mohammed Morsi to death. The Sinai-based Islamic State affiliate claims responsibility.–April 12, 2015: At least 14 people, mostly Egyptian policemen, are killed in separate operations when militants attack a police station in Sinai and detonate a roadside bomb on a passing armored vehicle.–April 9, 2015: 11 civilians and two soldiers are killed in three attacks in Sinai.–April 2, 2015: Militants hit a military checkpoint in Sinai and kill 15 soldiers, while near-simultaneous attacks elsewhere in the peninsula leave three civilians dead. Top Stories Comments Share — Nov. 21, 2013: A suicide car bomb hits a bus convoy of off-duty Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 11 and wounding 37.–Nov. 18, 2013: Police Lt. Col. Mohammed Mabrouk is assassinated in Cairo. Ansar Beit al-Maqis claims responsibility, saying it was in retaliation for the recent arrest of female Morsi supporters.–Sept. 5, 2013: Egypt’s interior minister narrowly escapes assassination when a car bomb tears through his convoy, wounding 22 people and leaving a major Cairo boulevard strewn with debris. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claims responsibility.— Aug. 19, 2013: Suspected Islamic militants ambush two police minibuses in the Sinai peninsula, line up 25 policemen and shoot them dead.–Aug. 14, 2013: On the same day that security forces disperse two sit-ins of Morsi supporters in Cairo, killing hundreds, militants ransack a police station in the village of Kerdassah, near Cairo. The attackers kill 15 officers, including the police chief, and mutilate some of the bodies.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. –Jan. 29, 2015: Extremists targeting military positions in Sinai kill 31 security forces in a sophisticated and multi-pronged set of attacks. The Sinai-based Islamic State affiliate claims responsibility.–Nov. 10, 2014: Sinai-based jihadi organization Ansar Beit al-Maqdis pledges allegiance to the Islamic State group, giving the organization a foothold in Egypt.–Oct. 24, 2014: A coordinated assault on an army checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula kills 31 Egyptian troops, in the largest single attack in decades on the military.–July 19, 2014: Gunmen armed with rocket-propelled grenades attack the border post in Egypt’s largest province al-Wadi al-Gedid, which straddles the Libyan and Sudanese borders, killing 22 soldiers.–Feb. 16, 2014: An explosion tears through a bus filled with South Korean sightseers in the Sinai Peninsula, killing three Korean tourists and an Egyptian driver.–Jan. 24, 2014: A truck bomb targeting Cairo’s security headquarters kills four people and causes heavy damage to a nearby museum dedicated to Islamic arts and history.–Dec. 24, 2013: A car bomb rips through a security headquarters in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, killing 16 people, almost all policemen. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claims responsibility. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility
Empire State view blocked by Penn Plazain Malkin’s rendering Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F In a controversial move, New York City authorities have approved building plans for 15 Penn Plaza, which will rise to within 11 metres of the height of the nearby Empire State Building (ESB). Located on Seventh Avenue, opposite Madison Square Garden and Pennsylvania Station, 15 Penn Plaza threatens to block part of the view from the ESB’s famous 86th–floor observation deck. Empire State Building owner Anthony Malkin of Malkin Holdings has offered his opinion on the battle of the buildings. He said 15 Penn Plaza would mar the 360 degree view from the 80-year old iconic Empire State Building and change the city skyline for the worse. “The Empire State Building defines New York and its skyline,” Malkin told the Daily News . “It’s the No. 1 favorite building in the U.S.”Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given his full support to the 15 Penn Plaza building project. His administration has long favoured high-density development near major transit areas such as Penn Station, which is the busiest commuter hub in North America. Zoning bonuses will enable the developer, Vornado Realty Trust, to construct a building 56 per cent larger than what ordinarily would be allowed at a cost of approximately $US100 million. Should 15 Penn Plaza be built despite the fact that it may tarnish the 360-degree view from the Empire State Building?
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J The Qantas Group has launched the first phase of a new five year plan that aims to reverse its financial losses and see a return to profits “in the short term”.Some thousands of jobs are to be affected by the new strategy unveiled today according to chief executive Alan Joyce, in the areas of management, pilots, cabin crew and engineering.Mr Joyce said he expects the majority of redundancies to be voluntary and will focus on minimising the number of compulsory redundancies. “We will become more productive, more efficient, more innovative,” the company’s head explained.Announced earlier today, the job losses come as the carrier focuses on modernising its international operations through South America and UK route adjustments and the launch of two new Asia-based carriers.Mr Joyce explained that the changes are “fundamental” to reversing “big financial losses” suffered by the carrier as well as its drop in the market share.As part of the first phase launched today, Qantas unveiled its new Jetstar Japan low-cost carrier as well announced plans to release a new premium airline to be based in Asia.“At the end of this process, we expect that we will be established on a competitive global platform, with high growth potential across all markets,” he said.“Instead of being restricted to an Australian-based international airline, Qantas international will be participating in regional Asian opportunities, and in the world beyond.”The carrier’s South American operations are also being “tinkered”, axing its services to Buenos Aires and launching new flights into Chile’s capital, Santiago. Commencing early next year, the new direct services between Sydney and Santiago are an enhancement of the carrier’s relationship with oneworld partner LAN and will operate three times weekly with plans to consider adding daily frequency.Mr Joyce described the new service as an “ideal gateway” for Aussies to travel other South American countries including Argentina, Peru and Colombia.Boosting its relationship with another major oneworld partner, the carrier’s head said it would also increase its Join Services Agreement (JSA) with British Airways to strengthen their Singapore hub and provide better connections between Australia and Heathrow.The move will see the carrier construct a new premium lounge at Changi International Airport for passengers flying from Melbourne and Sydney to London via Singapore.Also from early 2012, the Australian flag carrier will fly Australia to Bangkok and Australia to Hong Kong services, while its Bangkok to London and Hong Kong to London services will be removed and picked up by British Airways.A statement from the carrier read that the restructured services would help the carrier “improve profitability”.“Singapore will become the focal point of the JSA, with daily Qantas A380 services from Melbourne and Sydney and onward to London, increased British Airways capacity and a new premium lounge,” Mr Joyce explained. “The new approach is a smarter use of both airlines’ resources that will enhance our competitive position in Asia and in the Australia- Europe market.”
Source = TTG Asia Media 21 of tonight’s 79 winning organisations and individuals at The 22nd Annual TTG Travel Awards 2011 are taking home the signature Hermes trophy for the first time at this yearly regional event organised by TTG Asia Media’s Publishing Group. A total of 49,000 votes of confidence were cast for these winners by readers of the five TTG Publishing publications: TTG Asia, TTG China, TTG India, TTGmice and TTG-BTmice China. Readers of the relevant industry sectors named their organisation of choice for each title in both online and print voting forms inserted into publications. Among new winners were Shangri-la Singapore and Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, best hotels in Singapore and Bangkok respectively. Resorts World at Sentosa Pte Ltd took the title of Best Integrated Resort for the first time, as Seoul beat long-standing competitors Singapore and Shanghai for the first time to become Best BT-MICE City. Notably, The Peninsula Tokyo took the Best City Hotel – Tokyo title only three years after winning the Best New City Hotel in 2008. This year, Lotte Tour became the first travel agency to be inducted into the Travel Hall of Fame after winning the Best Travel Agency – Korea for ten years running. The TTG Travel Awards pays tribute yearly to the Hall of Fame honoraries, who are inducted after 10 consecutive wins in the same award.14 out of last year’s 24 new winners kept hold of their titles, including Centara Grand at CentralWorld as Best Meetings & Conventions Hotel and InterContinental Manila, the Best City Hotel in Manila. Besides Air India, which was replaced by Kingfisher Airlines as Best South Asian Airline, previous year’s winners in the airline segment continue their reign this year.“The travel awards have been designed to mirror industry trends,” shared Mr. Darren Ng, TTG Asia Media’s Managing Director. “It is important for industry players to note the shifts in tastes of their clientele, as well as the direction their competitors are taking to distinguish themselves as outstanding.”Thailand’s presence in the Asia-Pacific MICE scene was clear in this year’s awards. Grand Hyatt Erawan was voted Best Business Hotel this year after winning the Best Bangkok Hotel for the past 3 years. It was just one of the four companies from Thailand that had won prizes in the BT-MICE segment: these included Thai Airways for the Best Airline – Business Class, Centara Grand at Centralworld for Best Meetings & Conventions Hotel, and the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau for Best Convention & Exhibition Bureau.Thai Airways showed it had more strengths than just MICE, and was one of the two companies that won more than one award with its Best South-East Asian Airline win. Best Western International was the other double winner, winning both the Best Mid-Range Hotel Brand and Best Marketing & Development Effort titles.In addition to the Best Marketing & Development Effort title, TTG Publishing’s editorial team handpicked three other outstanding achievers in the category. Mr Shao Qiwei, the chairman of the Chinese National Tourism Administration, was Travel Personality of the Year for being proactive and innovative in developing the industry. Singapore was crowned Destination of the Year for the second year running, and Cox & Kings became the Most Entrepreneurial Travel Company.The 22nd Annual TTG Travel Awards 2011 Ceremony and Gala Dinner is held yearly in Bangkok, in conjunction with Incentive Travel & Conventions, Meetings Asia and Corporate Travel World (IT&CMA and CTW). The event, Asia’s Only Doublebill in MICE and Corporate Travel, is a one-stop platform for industry professionals to do business, learn and network in a single location – Centara Grand at CentralWorld. Voting for the TTG Travel Awards 2012 opens in June 2012. The 23rd Annual TTG Travel Awards 2012 Ceremony and Gala Dinner will be held on 4 October 2012.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Connecting more travellers to Europe, Gulf Air has announced additional services from its Bahrain base to Frankfurt, Paris and Copenhagen.Unveiled earlier this week the airline said from 1 June it would up its flights into Copenhagen from five times weekly to daily, 2 July its services to Paris would jump from daily to ten times weekly while from 1 July this year its flights into Frankfurt would increase from daily to 11 times weekly.The move comes less than a month after the carrier announced the cancellation of services to Uganda and according to chief executive Samer Majali the new services would boost trade opportunities for all countries involved.“As the only carrier operating the largest network in the Middle East with over 1000 flights per week we present a unique advantage for our European customers to reach the vast Middle East and North Africa markets with our seamless connection via Bahrain,” Mr Majali explained.As well as increasing services, the airline said it would also add capacity on flights between Bahrain and Copenhagen and Paris by upgrading aircraft to the A320ER. GulfAir
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Flood-ravaged Fiji The Pacific islands of Fiji have been issued with a tropical cyclone alert by Fiji’s Meteorological Service. Viti Levu is expected to be hit with gale force winds and severe flood warnings remain in place for all major rivers, streams and low lying areas of the island. According to Fiji Village, a tropical depression was located about 1000 kilometres west of Nadi earlier today. Air Pacific, Fiji’s national carrier, will continue to operate daily outbound flights on a reduced schedule due to the severe weather conditions and staff shortages. The Fijian government has requested all inbound return flights to be passenger-free and the airline will comply until further notice is given. At least nine flights have been cancelled today but Air Pacific has said all affected passengers can be re-booked on the next available inbound flight to Nadi. Should passengers wish to change travel dates or request a refund, they may do so without fee or penalty through April 14, 2012. Those affected should contact Air Pacific Reservations or the airline’s Travel Alerts website for further information. “Air Pacific regrets this inconvenience and appreciates the patience of our customers during these difficult circumstances,” the airline said in a statement released today.
Source = FCm Travel Solutions FCm Travel Solutions is celebrating its fifth title in the 2012 World Travel Awards after being named Africa’s Leading Corporate Travel Company.FCm currently holds the mantle of ‘World’s Leading Travel Management Company’ and this year has also been confirmed by the World Travel Awards as the Leading Travel Management Company for the Middle East, North America, South America and Mexico / Central America.FCm Global Leader, Gregory Lording, said the company was thrilled to add another prestigious industry award to its line-up of accolades already received this year.“This is the first time FCm has won the corporate travel award for Africa and we’re delighted to add this honour to our achievements for 2012,” Gregory said.“We’re delighted to see our winning streak in the World Travel Awards continue after having a stellar year in the awards program in 2011. These awards are testament to the ongoing operational, sales and brand success our business has experienced globally during the past 12 months and it’s great to see the company acknowledged for industry excellence in so many regions.”FCm’s Middle East and Africa network General Manager Ciarán Kelly said the awards acknowledged FCm’s reputation as a regional and global leader in corporate travel management.“The strength of our partner network in Africa ensures FCm can provide customers operating in this region with localised business travel expertise and on-the-ground service,” Ciarán said. “The calibre of our network partners in Africa, their relationships with suppliers and broad scale business travel solutions means our corporate clients receive the same high quality customer service in Africa as they do elsewhere within our global network.“The Middle East and Africa have been key focus areas for FCm of late and these awards recognise our efforts to deliver service excellence and more travel management value to our clients in this region.”
Travel insurance – helping travellersleave with memories and not withhuge medical bills. Image: flickr.com “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel”.This phrase has been repeatedly drilled into Australian heads, yet according to a new study 30 percent of all Aussies do not purchase travel insurance when going overseas.Travel insurance provider SureSave recently conducted research which found that out of 1,000 Australian respondents, travellers aged 60+ were the most likely to invest in travel insurance, with only 13 percent leaving home without it.Generation Xers were the riskiest of the respondents with 24 percent of 30-39 year olds opting to travel unprotected, followed by 18-29 years old of whom only 13 percent resisted purchasing travel insurance.Overall, 30 percent of Australian respondents did not always purchase travel insurance, 12 percent either never or rarely bought it and 18 percent made their decision based on their perception of the destination to which they were travelling.”If you travel without insurance, you’re putting yourself at risk and there can be serious financial consequences,” SureSave executive general manager Michael Callaghan said.”Even a short stay in a US hospital can cost a traveller tens of thousands of dollars if they’re not protected.”A travel insurance policy is a very small price to pay for coverage in the event that something goes wrong.”Do you take out travel insurance every time you travel?Source = e-Travel Blackboard: A.N.
Emirates Goes Non-Stop Auckland-Dubai from MarchEmirates today announced that it will start its first non-stop service from Auckland to Dubai from March, bringing many of its 38 European destinations and cities within just one-stop range of New Zealand and cutting journey times by almost three hours each way.“Operating a non-stop service between Dubai and Auckland has been in our sights for some time, dependent on availability of suitable aircraft as we rapidly expand our global network of destinations, and frequency of flights and capacity on existing routes. We are particularly delighted that we can now bring this exciting plan to fruition,” said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group.The new service, operating out of Auckland from March 2, will be in addition to the award-winning airline’s existing flights, meaning that Emirates will then have five services daily from New Zealand – three A380 double-decker services from Auckland via Australia, a daily Christchurch service with a Boeing 777-300ER, and the new non-stop service operated with a Boeing 777-200LR.The new service will bring New Zealand and Europe, Africa and the Middle East via Dubai much closer than at present, with an estimated flight time of just under 16 hours from Dubai to New Zealand and 17 hours, 15 minutes in the other direction.“Having just one stop on the long haul to New Zealand will make the journey quicker and more comfortable. This will be a boon to many business people, tourists, expatriate New Zealanders and other travellers in Europe, parts of Africa and the Middle East,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed. “Tourists, in particular, will now have more options – travelling to Auckland with a stopover in Australia on one of our three daily A380s, flying non-stop direct into Auckland, or flying to the South Island on our daily Christchurch service. New Zealand currently hosts about three million tourists a year and we want to do our part to cater for that flow and grow that figure above current expectations.”HH Sheikh Ahmed said that an aggressive fleet growth and renewal programme which is rapidly expanding both its A380 and Boeing 777 numbers had meant that the right sort of aircraft for the ultra-longhaul non-stop flight from Dubai was now available.“Emirates started operating in New Zealand with a double-daily Auckland service in August 2003, adding a third daily Auckland service a few months later, and then providing a daily Christchurch service in 2004. Progressively from 2009 onwards, we have upgauged the Auckland services to our flagship A380s and today these fly via Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane respectively to Dubai and beyond, and reverse.“Auckland as the major gateway is now a thriving and attractive city of 1.5 million and, together with tourism and business traffic, we are sure that it will easily sustain the introduction of the extra flight.”With the introduction of the non-stop service, Emirates will then be flying more than 2,000 seats a day in each direction on New Zealand services.Operating westbound as flight EK 449, the non-stop service will depart Auckland each night (local summer time) at 9:30pm, arriving in Dubai the following morning at 5:45 am (local time), connecting with Emirates’ flights to 38 Europe destinations, as well as other destinations in India, Africa and the Middle East.Operating eastbound as flight EK 448, the service will depart Dubai at 10:05am and arrive in Auckland the following day at 11:00am (local summer time). Eastbound the new flight will offer short connections in Dubai from 24 of Emirates’ destinations in Europe. On arrival in Auckland, passengers will be able to connect to a number of other points on codeshare partner Jetstar’s domestic flightsThe Boeing 777-200LR aircraft that will operate the new, non-stop route are purpose-built for ultra-longhaul flights, carrying up to 266 passengers. Like Emirates’ other New Zealand flights, the aircraft will offer three cabin classes: eight First Class suites, 42 lie-flat Business Class seats and 216 comfortable Economy Class seats. Fly EmiratesSource = Emirates
IndiaDr. Mahesh Sharma, the Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism & Culture and Minister of State for Civil Aviation recently launched the 24×7 Toll Free Tourist Infoline in 12 International Languages including Hindi and English, available on the existing Toll Free Number 1800 111 363 or on a short code 1363.This project is being implemented by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India through M/s. TATA BSS who have been associated with the work after open bidding process.The languages handled by the contact centers include ten International languages besides English and Hindi, namely, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.A “Live Demo” of this Multilingual Infoline Service in Japanese, Chinese, Russian and Italian languages was also presented on the occasion.The Minister also announced that very soon his Ministry will launch an “Incredible India Mobile App.” to facilitate tourists in a better way.Addressing on the occasion, the Minister said that the launching of this Multilingual Infoline has marked the fulfillment of the promise made to the people by the present Government for according priority for safety and security of tourists.This Infoline service will provide information relating to Travel & Tourism in India to the domestic and International tourists/visitors and to assist the callers with advice on action to be taken during times of distress while travelling in India and if need be alert the concerned authorities.He said that now Tourists travelling in or planning to travel to India can seek help and information for a hassle free experience. He said that the calls made by tourists (both international and domestic) while in India will be free of charge.The international tourists in India and also international callers who speak the aforesaid languages will be directed to the call agents proficient in the respective language.Shri Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, M/o Tourism in his address said that the focus will be on IEC i.e. Information, Education and Communication for the Tourists followed by a Helpdesk and then safety and security of the Tourists. The website of Incredible India is also being revived to make it more Tourist friendly.Ministry of Tourism in order to provide information services to the incoming tourists & domestic tourists has setup this Tourist info line. This service will primarily serve those who know very little about India or about travel within India, and those who do not understand Indian systems and often not even English.Shri Srinivas Koppolu, MD & COO of TATA –BSS gave the details of the functioning of Infoline and how will it be very beneficial for Tourists. Dr. Ravi Kant Bhatnagar, Addl. DG (Tourism) dwelt upon the need for such a valuable Infoline and informed about the various aspects of it. Visit IndiaSource = Ministry of Tourism India
AFTA announces two agent accreditation cancellationsThe Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) has cancelled Australian Escapes Marketing ATAS Accreditation effective immediately.AFTA is currently investigating the matter but believes that there is a managed process in place for the business’ voluntary closure.AFTA understands that effected consumers will be attended to and are invited to contact John Greenbury on 07 3202 9137.As well as this announcement, the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) wishes to advise that the ATAS accreditation of Railbookers Australia Pty Ltd has been suspended with immediate effect.AFTA understands that the parent UK company may have been acquired and further enquires are yet to be confirmed in relation to the Australian operation.AFTA will advise industry stakeholders of more information as it comes to hand.A notice for both of these announcements has been posted on the AFTA website. View the announcements hereSource = Australian Federation of Travel Agents
Situation is normal in Bangkok and the rest of ThailandSituation is normal in Bangkok and the rest of ThailandThe situation is normal in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand as everyday life continues despite the recent explosions in some of the country’s southern provinces. Tourist attractions, shopping malls and restaurants nationwide are attracting large numbers of people, determined to make the most of the long weekend.Thai people and visitors are celebrating the 84th Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit on 12 August, also the National Mother’s Day. Thailand’s cities and tourist attractions are reportedly as busy as usual. There is an increased security presence at all major attractions and shopping areas as well as in airports and train stations, to ensure the safety of tourists and locals.Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, the Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said “We are pleased to report that the recent attacks in Thailand’s south have not massively impacted on people’s determination to enjoy the weekend and the delights of the kingdom. We are ensuring the safety of visitors by stepping up security nationwide and want everyone to know that it’s business as normal in Thailand. The strong spirit of the Thai people won’t allow these attacks to stop them living their lives and enjoying the sanuk for which the nation is famous.”All planned tourist and business events and festivals are still going ahead and the message is that Thailand is very much open to business. The international tourist organisation UNWTO has expressed confidence in the safety of Thailand as a tourist destination and will be hosting World Tourism Day in Bangkok on 27 September as scheduled. The WTTC Summit in April 2017 will also be going ahead as planned.The TAT wants to reassure all tourists that their safety is the highest priority and that everything is being done to ensure the people behind the recent attacks are apprehended. Fly THAI Amazing Thailand Source = Tourism Authority of Thailand
Source = Excite Holidays L-R Sarah Thornton from Visit WeHo, Kerri Anderson from Hawaii Tourism Oceania, Meagan Maynard from Excite Holidays, Joanne Motta from Travel Nevada and Vanessa Richards from Excite HolidaysExcite does the USAExcite Holidays last week hosted an exclusive event in Sydney for 27 agents for their America the Great incentive. They were thrilled to welcome representatives from Travel Nevada, Hawaii Tourism Oceania, Visit West Hollywood and Hotelbeds.Held at O Bar and Dining, a luxurious restaurant located 47 floors above the iconic city, the event played on the big flavours and true American culture, with a hint of Hollywood glamour just for fun!From Nevada to West Hollywood and the South to Hawaii, guests immersed themselves in the American food culture with a menu created personally by O Bar’s top chef to represent each destination. Treated to a tropical Hawaiian-themed cocktail and dips and bread on arrival, guests then nibbled on Vegas-inspired starters, a West Hollywood-esque main and a delicious dessert with a Southern twist – it was a foodie delight!L-R Sarah Thornton from Visit WeHo and Meagan Maynard from Excite HolidaysVanessa Richards, Head of Marketing said, “You can’t find four more different locations than Nevada, WeHo, the South and Hawaii. Our agent event was a fusion of these four incredible destinations and cultural hubs across the United States of America. There is so much variety, so many differences and so many wonderful things to discover in each place. No holiday can be the same and nor should it when travelling to the states. This event primarily allowed our agents to enjoy, and then discover new and interesting things about all four destinations. The goal is for them to take this first-hand information from our wonderful Tourism partners and pass the knowledge and insight onto their clients!”With only two weeks left of the America the Great incentive, Excite Holidays is extremely excited to offer four agents the chance to win a money-can’t-buy experience to one of the four partner locations, Nevada, WeHo, the South, and Hawaii, in addition to the ongoing bonus rewards points incentive. All our agents have to do is book one of the featured destinations to go into the draw. L-R Meagan Maynard from Excite Holidays and Diego Barake from Hotelbeds L-R Nora Baghdadi and Katy Papadelli from Worldwide Travel & Tours L-R Susie Taouk from Ultimate Traveller and Samantha Davies from Excite Holidays
Sydney, known as the Harbour City, is the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia with a reputation of being one of the world’s most beautiful and liveable cities. Brimming with history, nature, culture, art, fashion, cuisine, design, Sydney is set next to miles of ocean coastline and sandy surf beaches.Source: World Travel Guides
THAI Smile Airways, which is a 100% subsidiary of THAI Airways, has become the only scheduled airline from Thailand to fly to Gaya and Varanasi, Jaipur, and Lucknow, with the launch of new flights to the aforementioned four cities in India. These flights would bridge the demand of both Indians and Thais, who have been looking for seamless connections for religion, work and leisure purpose, in Thailand, India and onward destinations.Captain Woranate Laprabang, Acting Chief Executive Officer, THAI Smile Airways, said, “We consider these connecting flights as one of our strategic destinations in Indian region. THAI Smile Airways is undertaking an ambitious growth programme to develop a network and ensure international connectivity. Moreover, we are committed to ensuring that our passengers have greater choice and opportunity to discover new destinations by flying with THAI Smile Airways.”The flight would operate with A320 aircraft which would offer a Premium Economy Class (12 seats) and Economy Class (154 seats) along with a host of features for passengers, such as the in-flight entertainment experience and specially designed Indian cuisine & beverages to passengers.Additionally, THAI Smile has chosen The Bird Group as its General Sales Agent (GSA) for the Indian market. The Bird Group would handle the airline’s sales development, bookings, and ticketing services within India as well as conduct direct marketing and service support to Indian travel agents.
Air Arabia received its first Airbus (A321neo Long Range) which flew nonstop from the Airbus’s facility in Hamburg to Sharjah International Airport.Air Arabia is the first Middle Eastern airline to operate the A321neo LR and this delivery is the first of six aircrafts that will join Air Arabia’s fleet that comprises 53 A320 family aircraft serving more than 155 routes across the globe from four hubs in the UAE (Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah), Morocco and Egypt. The addition of the A321neo LR will enable Air Arabia to expand to new medium-haul markets in addition to strengthening the existing routes with increased seat capacity.Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer of Air Arabia said, “We are glad to welcome the first A321neo LR to our fleet, which marks another milestone in Air Arabia’s journey. The addition of this new aircraft allows us to expand our service to farther and newer destinations while remaining loyal to our low-cost business model. We look forward to receiving the remaining aircrafts in 2019 as we continue to offer our customers an excellent product with more destinations to discover.”Air Arabia’s new A321neoLR, powered by CFM LEAP-1A engines, accommodates 215 passengers and is equipped with Air Arabia’s new state-of-the-art cabin interior that was launched as a part of Air Arabia’s new brand identity unveiled in October last year. The new cabin interior includes a new generation of seats providing extra comfort onboard while maintaining Air Arabia’s known generous seat pitch.The A321neo LR builds on the success of the A321neo and provides additional flexibility as it has the longest range of any single-aisle airliner, enabling airlines to tap into new markets previously not accessible.
There are some things we tend to take as fundamental truths. Just a few examples might include the law of gravity or how Treasury debt ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô even in the face of credit downgrades ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô remains beyond reproach for investors. Or how, given the choice between making safely innocuous remarks and off-the-cuff zingers that land him (and his boss) in hot water, Vice President “”Joseph Biden””:http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/vice-president-biden will probably choose the latter, if we take “”one recent gaffe””:http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79717.html as proof positive of the trend.Nowadays, people may add to their roster the idea that home buyers and sellers seem to downright dislike their real estate companies.[IMAGE]According to a recent report by “”J.D. Power and Associates””:http://www.jdpower.com/, home buyer satisfaction with national real estate companies fell to its lowest level in the history of the five-year-old survey, a record low on par with mortgage rates. The firm said that overall satisfaction slipped to 789 on a 1,000-point scale, down from 797 in 2011. Seller satisfaction followed the trend by averaging 768, down from 779 from the same time frame.””Although home buyers and sellers are aware of continuing challenges in the real estate market, a key reason satisfaction is down is that customer expectations are not being met, either in[COLUMN_BREAK]terms of sellers having to compromise on their listing price, or for buyers who are compromising on the home’s condition and size,”” “”Christina Cooley””:http://www.linkedin.com/pub/christina-cooley/46/517/b47, senior manager of the real estate practice at J.D. Power and Associates, offered in a statement.””This is understandably frustrating all around,”” she added.The study tied real estate companies viewed more favorably by buyers and sellers to the frequency with which these companies capture a sizeable proportion of the listing price. The firm said that sellers report obtaining 89 percent of their listing prices from their real estate companies.Several companies withstood the test of customer satisfaction ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô at least by the standards of 2,990 evaluations and more than 2,790 respondents. These included “”Keller Williams””:http://www.kw.com/kw/, which J.D. Power found ranking highest in both buyer and seller categories, with lofty scores among agents and salespeople to boot.Buyers ranked “”Prudential Mortgage””:http://www.prumortgagecapital.com/businesscenter/realestate/pmcc/home/welcome.shtml second after Keller Williams and sellers second-placed “”Coldwell Banker””:http://www.coldwellbanker.com/.According to Cooley, companies like these “”set themselves apart in terms of working closely with their customers and meeting their needs,”” a courtesy that she says “”may play an important role in both managing expectations, but more importantly, exceeding them.””This isn’t the first time real estate companies wallowed near the bottom of customer satisfaction surveys. A “”Leads360″”:http://www.leads360.com/ white paper from August last year found that “”only 21 percent of mortgage lenders made an effort to follow up with borrowers””:https://themreport.com/articles/study-more-lenders-fail-to-follow-up-with-borrowers-2011-08-12. Then again ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô revealing just how wishy-washy these surveys sometimes are ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the same report by J.D. Powers from July “”tracked a jump in customer satisfaction among servicers””:http://www.dsnews.com/articles/study-reveals-customers-are-more-satisified-with-servicers-2012-07-19. Which maybe means that you should get the facts and find your own truth.Interested in sharing a story about your experience with a real estate company? Pass an email our way by writing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Agents & Brokers Asking Prices Confidence Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Politics Processing Service Providers Treasury Yields 2012-08-16 Ryan Schuette Why Do Real Estate Companies Bomb Customer Satisfaction Surveys? Share in Data, Origination, Servicing August 16, 2012 435 Views
price,Home Prices Jump 13.6% in October in Data Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Prices Investors Lenders & Servicers S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Indices Service Providers 2013-12-31 Tory Barringer Home prices rose annually for the 17th straight month in October, achieving their highest yearly gain in nearly eight years, according to the “”S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices””:http://us.spindices.com/index-family/real-estate/sp-case-shiller released Tuesday.[IMAGE]Both the 10- and 20-city composite indices saw annual increases of 13.6 percent in October–the largest year-over-year growth since February 2006. As of the end of the month, average home prices nationwide had recovered to mid-2004 levels; compared to their mid-2006 peaks, both composites were still down about 20 percent.Thirteen out of the 20 cities tracked in the report posted double-digit annual improvements, though the increases [COLUMN_BREAK]have slowed in some of the top-performing markets, including Las Vegas, San Diego, and San Francisco. At the same time, cities that have struggled by comparison–Cleveland, New York, and Washington, D.C., for instance–are now experiencing accelerated growth.Some of October’s most notable numbers came from Chicago, which posted its highest annual price increase since 1988 at 10.9 percent, and from Charlotte and Dallas, which recorded increases of 8.8 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively–their highest rate of improvement since the creation of their indices in 1987 and 2000.Still, while annual returns remain strong, “”monthly numbers show we are living on borrowed time and the boom is fading,”” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.On a monthly basis, both composites saw a gain of 0.2 percent in October. Only ten cities experienced growth compared to September, and most of those markets reported a slowdown. Going forward, most indicators seem to point to a continuation of that trend.””Other housing data paint a mixed picture suggesting that we may be close to the peak gains in prices. However, other economic data point to somewhat faster growth in the new year,”” Blitzer said. “”Most forecasts for home prices point to single digit growth in 2014.”” December 31, 2013 419 Views
Mortgage originations rebounded in the second quarter as home equity lending stepped up in activity, according to a report released Monday.Experian estimates new mortgage origination volumes totaled $292 billion for the months of April through June, reflecting a 15 percent increase from a slow first quarter.Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) led in gains for the quarter, totaling $35 billion—up 25 percent over the same period last year. Over the last 12 months, HELOC originations totaled $120 billion, marking a 27 percent increase from the prior period.According to Experian, HELOC lending rose by double digits throughout all regions compared to a year ago, led by the West Coast, where new originations were up 27 percent year-over-year. Most of that growth can be credited to California, which passed all other states in terms of HELOC dollars origination with $5.9 billion.Also outperforming the other regions in Q2 was the Northwest, where HELOC volumes were up 15 percent, with New York contributing $2.2 billion in volumes.While HELOCs have helped fill the gap left by receding demand for refinancing, the mortgage sector has still felt the absence of refinancing profits since the end of the boom.”Home lending had an incredible two-year period from Q2 2011 to Q2 2013, with $4 trillion in mortgage origination volume; 71 percent of that, or $2.9 trillion, came from home refinancing,” said Linda Haran, senior director of product management and strategy for Experian Decision Analytics. “A look behind those numbers tells us that the total dollars originated over the past four quarters are about $1.3 trillion versus $1.8 trillion, showing a 30 percent decrease in annual origination volumes from the refinancing boom.”Despite the nearly one-third drop, Haran remains optimistic for the mortgage market as home purchase lending takes up a greater share.”This equates to new purchase activity increasing by 22 percent in Q2 2014 from last year, signaling that consumers are getting back into the market,” she said. “In the long term, this appears to set up the market for continued purchases into spring and summer of 2015.”Though purchase loan share is up, the percentages hide a concerning lack of activity. In a recent analysis, Capital Economics reported mortgage applications for home purchase loans in August were at a near 20-year low, with most applications geared toward the high end of the housing market.”[T]he average value of a mortgage application for home purchase has increased far more than average house prices over the past couple of years,” said Paul Diggle, property economist for Capital Economics. “It seems that only high earners with (presumably) strong credit scores are currently confident enough to apply for mortgage finance.” in Daily Dose, News, Origination September 30, 2014 409 Views HELOC Lending Volumes Bound 27% in Q2 Share Experian HELOCs Purchase Loans Refinance 2014-09-30 Tory Barringer
Wells Fargo and BofA Report Strong Q3 Financial Results in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News, Origination, Servicing October 14, 2015 833 Views Share Bank of America Earnings Statement Net Income Revenue Wells Fargo 2015-10-14 Staff Writer Wells Fargo reported a net income of $5.8 billion, or $1.05 per diluted common share, an increase of 1 percent year-over-year, according to the bank’s 2015 third quarter earnings statement released Wednesday morning.Bank of America also posted strong financial results, with a third quarter net income of $4.5 billion, or $0.37 per share, the bank’s earnings statement showed.Wells Fargo’s strong third quarter results was led by growth in loans, deposits, and capital, and positive credit quality.The bank saw strong growth in loans and deposits, with total average loans of $895.1 billion, up 7 percent or $61.9 billion year-over-year. As of September 30, 2015, total loans were $903.2 billion. Quarter-end loans rose $64.4 billion to $903.2 billion, while total average deposits increased $71.8 billion to $1.2 trillion.Revenue at Wells Fargo totaled $21.9 billion, an increase of three percent from $21.2 billion last year. Driven by growth n investment securities and loans, net interest income rose $187 million from the second quarter of 2015 to $11.5 billion in the current quarter. Meanwhile, the company’s net interest margin was 2.96 percent, down 1 basis point from last quarter.John Stumpf, chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo noted that the strong third quarter results “reflected the ability of our diversified business model to generate consistent financial performance in an uneven economic environment while continuing to meet our customers’ financial needs.””Compared with a year ago, we grew loans, deposits and capital, and returned more capital to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks. Our balance sheet and credit results remained strong and our 265,000 team members continue to focus on helping our customers succeed financially.”Mortgage banking noninterest income fell $116 million from the second quarter to $1.6 billion, Wells Fargo reported. In addition, residential mortgage originations were $55 billion in the third quarter, down $7 billion linked quarter. The production margin on residential held-for-sale mortgage originations was 1.88 percent, compared with 1.75 percent in the previous quarter. Net mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) results were $253 million, compared with $107 million in second quarter 2015.Bank of America’s year-to-date net income totals $13.2 billion or $1.09 per share. Revenue declined $521 million to $20.9 billion from last year, mostly driven by higher negative market-related adjustments on their debt securities portfolio sue to lower long-term interest rates.Net interest income for the bank also fell $702 million to $9.7 billion year-over-year due to lower consumer loan balances and lower yields. Meanwhile, noninterest income rose $181 million to $11.2 billion from last year, reflecting increases in mortgage banking and card income, higher asset management fees, and other income.The company originated $13.7 billion in first-lien residential mortgage loans and $3.1 billion in home equity loans in the third quarter of 2015, compared to $11.7 billion and $3.2 billion, respectively, in the year-ago quarter.Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan explained that the “solid results” in the third quarter reflected the execution of their “long-term strategy.””The key drivers of our business–deposit taking and lending to both our consumer and corporate clients–moved in the right direction this quarter and our trading results on behalf of clients remained fairly stable in challenging capital markets conditions. Our balanced approach to serving customers and clients is on track as the economy continues to move forward.””Our results this quarter reflect our ongoing efforts to improve operating leverage while continuing to invest in our business,” said Paul Donofrio, CFO at Bank of America. “We built capital and liquidity to record levels and grew total loans for the second consecutive quarter while continuing to operate within our risk framework.”Click here to view Wells Fargo’s earnings statement.Click here to view Bank of America’s earnings statement.