Travelweek Group Thursday, June 22, 2017 Share Posted by TORONTO — Following TICO’s Annual General Meeting held in Mississauga on June 20, TICO’s Board of Directors has named Richard Vanderlubbe as Vice Chair of the Board.Vanderlubbe is the president and co-founder of tripcentral.ca with 27 locations in Ontario. The Vice Chair appointment is for one year until TICO’s next AGM, to be held in 2018.In addition, Marc Patry, Director of CNH Tours in Ottawa was named the successful candidate elected by the industry at large to serve a three-year term on the TICO Board of Directors. The position was open to a retail registrant. Patry replaces Paul Samuel of Overseas Travel Division at Vision Travel Solutions in Toronto.The Board also welcomes Jim Diebel, President of Hanover Holidays in Hanover, Ontario as the OMCA representative. Diebel will replace Ray DeNure of DeNure Tours in Lindsay, Ont. Tags: TICO TICO announces election results following AGM << Previous PostNext Post >>
CALGARY — An air passenger rights advocate has filed a regulatory complaint against Swoop Inc., claiming the new low-cost airline is unlawfully charging baggage fees.In a complaint to the Canadian Transportation Agency, Gabor Lukacs says the commercial carrier is flouting Canadian law by failing to offer passengers a basic fare that includes a carry-on and a checked bag.The Canada Transportation Act requires domestic airlines to offer a basic fare for travel within the country that has no restrictions with “reasonable baggage”.Karen McIsaac, a spokeswoman for the Calgary-based airline, says Swoop provides travellers with “a la carte service” where they pay a low base fare and add on features such as a checked bag for a fee.She says the airline has specifically designed the self-booking website and mobile app to be extremely clear around what is provided in the fare and what the optional fees and added features entail.But Lukacs, the Halifax-based founder of the independent non-profit organization Air Passenger Rights, calls the airline’s approach “deceptive”.More news: Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youth“I find it deceptive to tell people, ‘We have very cheap tickets but by the way if you want to have a carry on it’s $80 plus tax’,” he said.According to the airline’s website, carry-on luggage is about $35 if paid in advance, $50 if paid at the time of check-in at the airport and $80 at the gate.Swoop was announced by WestJet last September and offers service to Hamilton, Halifax, Edmonton, Abbotsford and Winnipeg, as well as some U.S. destinations.McIsaac says Swoop is catering to a demand for more travel options.“We are confident that Canadians are appreciative of the ability to be in control of what they pay for and what they don’t, as our aircraft have been more than 90% full since day one of operations,” she says in an email.While Lukacs says he supports airlines offering different options to passengers, he says one of those options must be a basic fare that includes baggage.More news: Hotel charges Bollywood star $8.50 for two bananas and the Internet has thoughts“If you look at Air Canada, for example, they have a number of different fare classes and that’s perfectly fair game,” he says.“There is no law that says you have to always offer baggage with every fare but rather you have to have one fare which is unrestricted and includes transportation for an adult with reasonable baggage.” Passenger rights advocate launches complaint against Swoop Share Friday, September 21, 2018 By: The Canadian Press Tags: Baggage, WestJet Swoop << Previous PostNext Post >>
No related posts. Clinton’s reputation has paid off. An analysis of financial records by CNN done in 2010 showed that the former president had earned $75.6 million in speaking fees since leaving office in early 2001. In 2010 alone, Clinton earned $4.8 million speaking in 13 foreign countries, such as Mexico and South Africa.Naturally, the payment for Wednesday night’s speech was not disclosed. Each of the 650-plus seats looked filled during Clinton’s presentation at the Hotel InterContinental in Escazú, southwest of the capital. Tickets for the two-day congress, known as the Sustainability and Happiness Business Forum, cost $750 (see box).Clinton did his part by delivering a message on environmental sustainability. He cited statistics and gave colorful anecdotes, while relying on a practical theme: Green economies save the environment and money.“My advice to everybody is to do something [so] that other people can see that the only economics that can make sense in the long run are sustainable economics,” Clinton said.Clinton spoke for a little less than a half hour before joining event organizer del Campo for the sit-down interview for another half hour.He gave the typical platitudes about Costa Rica. The former U.S. president praised the country’s protection of jungles and use of hydropower, and he lauded Costa Rica as an example for the rest of the world on how green economies can succeed.Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla met with Clinton before the speech at Casa Presidencial, in the southeastern San José district of Zapote, where he suggested Costa Rica could be a leader in renewable energy technology. Clinton hoped to boost Chinchilla’s low approval rating by extolling her governing ability and her attempts to push a tax reform during difficult times. He called Central America an “innocent bystander” in a financial crisis that began in his own country, a swipe at the economic troubles that started under his successor, George W. Bush.The former president apologized for the crisis and for the effects of global warming on Costa Rica, adding that Central America has taken the brunt of the effects of climate change. The region has seen a dramatic increase in the number of hurricanes and floods, disasters experts link with global warming.Clinton also recalled his first visit to Costa Rica for the 1997 Summit of the Americas, where he joined Latin American leaders in pledging commitments to sustainable development. During that trip, Clinton and his vice president, Al Gore, joined then-Costa Rican President José María Figueres on an electric bus tour into the Braulio Carrillo National Park northeast of the capital.Yet, as Figueres recently acknowledged, it was he who shut down the cleaner-technology rail line to the Caribbean, forcing passengers and companies to travel via petrol-burning semitrailers and automobiles. In his new role as president of the Carbon War Room, a project created by Sir Richard Branson to reduce market barriers that prevent capital from flowing to sustainable projects and economies, Figueres is now calling for new rail projects to be established throughout the country.At last year’s Sustainability and Happiness Business Forum, the keynote speaker was former Vice President Gore. Figueres – who returned to Costa Rica from a seven-year self-exile at the end of 2011 – spoke at this year’s forum, as did special guests former Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva and an expert on the Bhutanese government’s National Happiness Index, Lhaba Tshering, among others.But the best way to sell a ticket was to snag a major headliner, and organizers one-upped last year’s guest star by bringing in his former boss.While Clinton has less obvious environmental credentials than Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2006 for the climate change film “An Inconvenient Truth,” the ex-president has contributed plenty to environmentalism movements.Clinton talked of these achievements along with successes and failures he’s witnessed in developing countries like Haiti, Brazil and Rwanda.He said he’s witnessing a change of thinking in Third World countries, where they’re beginning to realize an economy can “get healthy without putting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”A campaign launched by the Clinton Foundation called the Clinton Climate Initiative attempts to address climate change by working with governments to reduce emissions, utilize clean energy and prevent deforestation. He touched on all three of these issues during his speech, heaping abundant accolades on Brazil and Costa Rica.The night ended with del Campo asking Clinton a question that the host said was written by his 11-year-old son. He didn’t go easy on the ex-president: He wanted Clinton to select six people who could save the world.Clinton made his choices: Nelson Mandela, the South African leader who helped topple apartheid; the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner; Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder and a philanthropist; Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who invented microloans; Edward O. Wilson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author; and the women of Rwanda, who survived genocide.The most resonating anecdotes described Clinton’s time in Rwanda, talking to survivors of genocide committed in the mid-1990s. He listened as women who lost their entire families and were betrayed by friends showed the fortitude to carry on, start new lives and forgive.Still, Clinton cautioned the audience to not focus too much on looking for the next hero or rock star. He said, “I think sometimes we make a mistake looking for saviors.” The reason people tend to search for them is because we’re hoping to find that type of courage in ourselves, he said.“Nothing elates us more than seeing a free spirit,” Clinton said. “We love Mandela because we’re afraid we couldn’t do it. We love those women because we believe we couldn’t do it. But if we want to save the planet in our own way. We have to do it.” Facebook Comments Former U.S President Bill Clinton meets with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla Wednesday at Casa Presidencial in the capital. The two discussed Costa Rica’s role in the growing global market for “green” technology. Courtesy of Casa Presidencial See a photo gallery of Bill Clinton’s first visit to Costa Rica in 1997In 1997, Bill Clinton came to Costa Rica as the president of the United States. Fifteen years later, Clinton showed up again, in perhaps a different persona.After delivering a speech, Clinton sat down at a table to receive a few questions from Javier del Campo, director of Terra Partners, the organization that brought Clinton to Costa Rica. But before the Q-and-A session began, del Campo dubbed Clinton a “politician turned rocked star.”Clinton, with his hair grayer than ever and sporting a suit with a sharp red tie, jested: “Only in the sense that people like to go to museums and see mummies.”But whom was he kidding? Clinton, 65, is no relic.The ex-president’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past decade. He maintains a personality that’s both cultivated and suave. He’s assisted too by the fact that his successor in the White House demonstrated neither of those traits. Moreover, Clinton oversaw a soaring economy in the U.S. during his time in office from 1993-2001, and avoided getting bogged down in foreign conflicts.
No related posts. A new report released Thursday finds that Costa Rica and Vietnam are the ‘happiest’ countries in the world based upon the health and happiness produced per unit of environmental output.These findings come from the Happy Planet Index compiled by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) which ranks 151 countries around the world based upon their “efficiency [and] how many long and happy lives each country produces per unit of environmental output.”The Happy Planet Index rank is based upon global data of life expectancy, happiness and environmental sustainability and is calculated as follows (Experienced well-being X Life expectancy) / Ecological Footprint. The data for well-being is taken from the Gallup World Poll, ‘life expectancy’ is based upon the 2011 United Nations Human Development Report and ‘ecological footprint’ is calculated from data provided by the WWF.For Costa Rica, this is the second year in a row at top of the list. The list seems to have be slanted toward Central America countries. Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua all made the list. El Salvador, ranked 5th, has the second highest murder rate in the world. Typically the report found that high-income countries, such as the UK (ranked 41st) and the US (ranked 105th), received a low overall score due to the large per-capita ecological footprint. Norway placed in 29th position while Japan came in 45th. The unhappiest places in the world were Botswana, Chad and Qatar.According to the Happy Planet Index the top ten ‘happiest countries’ are:01. Costa Rica02. Vietnam03. Colombia04. Belize05. El Salvador06. Jamaica07. Panama08. Nicaragua09. Venezuela10. Guatemala Facebook Comments
A trade ad that appeared in the Dec. 25, 1971 issue of “Billboard” magazine ahead of the album Santana III. Courtesy of Columbia Records/Wikimedia Commons At least as important as Metatron was Clive Davis, the veteran pop tastemaker and power broker. Davis drove the concept of pairing Santana with vocalists who had more contemporary appeal. After years of instrumental jamming, Santana found the commercially viable discipline invigorating.“When I play [instrumental] melodies, I feed myself with a shovel; I don’t need to care how long — 15 bars, 16 bars, just go,” he says. “On the radio, you have to be only 4:15 or 3:30 or whatever, and you only have so much space between you and the singer. You complement all the time — not compare or compete — and when it comes to doing your solo, do it in such a way that if Jimi Hendrix was alive, he would go, ‘Hey man, that was a nice solo.’ “The melody for the song with Matthews, “Love of My Life,” is appropriated from a passage by Brahms, which was the first music a grieving Santana heard when he turned on the car radio, tuned to a classical station, shortly after his father died in 1997.In 2007, Santana and his wife of more than 30 years, Deborah, divorced. They have three adult children. In 2010, Santana married esteemed jazz drummer Cindy Blackman, who played briefly in his band. He proposed to her on stage that year, after her drum solo on “Corazón Espinado” — which means “pierced heart” and is one of the hits from “Supernatural.” In Las Vegas, he is active in local charities, not just writing checks, but also visiting the city Rescue Mission to meet residents. His Milagro Foundation reports having given $5.6 million in the United States and abroad, mainly to help vulnerable children.Since “Supernatural,” the collaborative approach has yielded three more top 10 albums, pairing the guitarist with singers as diverse as Steven Tyler and Placido Domingo. Now he is at work on a project with a Latino accent, partnering with Juanes, Lila Downs, Gloria Estefan, Romeo Santos and others.Yet he’s still the sonic voyager, releasing instrumental music on the side, notably the “Shape Shifter” disc last year. Say what you will about angels, the track “Metatron” is sublime, or, as Rolling Stone said in the album review: “This largely instrumental debut release on his own label has moments of s—-hot playing (see the smeared runs on ‘Metatron’).”Santana saunters onstage in a long black leather coat with his purple guitar, and the 1,300 fans packing the intimate House of Blues start to scream.“I have been listening to Santana since I was 11,” says Angelina Gallegos, 45, from the Seattle area. Now she and her daughter listen. “He’s got some songs that touch your soul.”John Senger, 70, of Kelowna, British Columbia, says that he has cancer and that when he and his wife of nearly 50 years, Claudette, got to Vegas and realized they could see Santana, he added the show to his bucket list. After a few songs, his eyes are brimming with tears.The band has 10 players, including two vocalists, two horn players and three percussionists. Periodically, Santana moves to the side or the back of the stage, sharing the pedestal.“Most artists who have reached this level of success in the music industry, when they perform, it’s generally all about them,” trumpet player Bill Ortíz said earlier. “One of the great things about him as a bandleader is he really values the input of his side people.”Santana sheds the coat to reveal a black T-shirt. He has put on a few pounds since Woodstock, but his fingers seem as nimble.Each song is a mini-drama. Even the radio-ready hits are expanded for a live workout. The sound builds, subsides, resolves in catharsis. At the emotional center of a tune — “Europa,” “Incident at Neshabur,” “Corazón Espinado” — Santana plants himself at the front of the stage, wringing his guitar. He looks up, sees something through the ceiling, closes his eyes, like a man who appears to have found it, a state of grace.© 2013, The Washington Post Facebook Comments LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Carlos Santana frowns. The look is so uncharacteristic, because this whole afternoon his expression runs consistently from beatific to boyish and back. He riffs amiably about receiving inspiration from angels and discloses secrets about his quest for the “universal tone,” about how he learned to distill longing and joy in a single note — that pristine, piercing Santana sound that’s instantly recognizable from San Francisco to Singapore.But now he’s standing on a hotel balcony 43 stories up, where a photographer has just asked him to climb onto a table, the better to pose against the neon skyline.The guitar player balks: “Why do I have to be put on a pedestal?”Awkward pause.Santana winks. He’ll do it, on the promise that the effect will not be pedestal-like.At 66, he has an uneasy relationship with the pedestal — the one that he at once covets, disdains and sometimes doubts he deserves. The one that people want to place him upon — except when they don’t, during those dispiriting droughts when the music-buying public all but forgets him.He certified himself a contender for the guitar-hero crown almost from the start, in a band that took his last name, at Woodstock in 1969. His frenzied solo on “Soul Sacrifice” went old-school viral, thanks to the film of the hippie music festival.There followed a series of pioneering albums that almost single-handedly invented pop world-beat music. The congas, timbales and Afro-Latin guitar and organ rhythms on smash covers such as “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” and “Oye Como Va” redefined the parameters of rock-and-roll. The guitar player knew what notes not to play, savoring the magic of a simple melodic line. But he grew restless, and he embarked on a decades-long quixotic musical and spiritual journey. He explored jazz and new-age horizons and, for several years, followed the guru Sri Chinmoy. Santana commanded the admiration of elite musicians but not radio programmers.“I don’t consider myself a guitar player as much as I am a seeker who wants to manifest his vision through that particular instrument,” he said in 1978.Then, seemingly out of nowhere, his 1999 album, “Supernatural,” won nine Grammys, posted astronomical sales and lodged Santana in the download queue of a new generation. On nearly every track, his guitar accompanied — shared the pedestal with — a trendier singer, such as Dave Matthews, Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, Everlast and Lauryn Hill. He has used that formula on several more albums and has alighted on a concert residency at the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay casino resort.“I’m not a seeker anymore,” he says. “I’m a finder now. It’s more fun to just will it to happen, than to hope for somebody to sort of come, part the ocean or the sky, and give it to you.”He steps down from the makeshift pedestal. Curly black locks billow beneath a black fedora, which covers a balding pate. He’s wearing a purple shirt printed with a picture of John Coltrane. Carrying his purple guitar, he enters a private room that the House of Blues has trimmed in purple. Which puts him in the mood to play “Purple Haze.”He jams meditatively, loses the Jimi Hendrix lick for a second — “Where is that thing?” — finds it.All the while, he’s working out how he feels about this latest pedestal, the one they’re erecting in Washington. “I don’t mind committing career suicide once in awhile and playing music that only musicians maybe understand,” he says. “I’m not a poodle who you just throw a little bone or a biscuit to, and I dance for you, man. That’s why, perhaps, when they’re celebrating this Mexican, Carlos Santana, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, it’s a big canasta [that is being honored]. Canasta is like a basket, with not just a guitar [inside], but a person who loves uplifting consciousness.”He deems the Kennedy Center’s history of having rarely honored Latinos to be typical of so many U.S. institutions trapped in an Anglo-European thrall. Yet he considers it no favor to be cast in the self-limiting role of one of the two Latinos (along with opera singer Martina Arroyo) being honored this year, to help correct that record. True, he was born in Autlán de Navarro, Mexico, and honed his guitar chops in the streets and dives of Tijuana. But the identity that matters most to Santana — his artistic and spiritual self — is bigger, embracing roots from Mali to Haiti to Cuba to the Mississippi Delta.“I’m more than just a Mexican with a blower on the presidential lawn at the White House,” he says. “I represent a whole bunch of other people.”The aspect of this accolade that really awes him? It’s the promise of being ushered onto the same platform as jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock, who is also being honored.Hancock is among a select list of artists, living and dead, whom Santana reveres. Hendrix, Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Bob Marley, Babatunde Olatunji, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Harry Belafonte, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Gabor Szabo. He jammed with as many as he could and tried to learn from the rest.Even though he has recorded and toured with Hancock and Shorter, a little, insecure part of Santana has always worried that he couldn’t keep up with such aces.“I’m still learning the difference between respect and fear,” he says. “They all say the same thing to me: You’re one of us. But as soon as I’m in the room, and they start playing, I’m like, oh, damn. Because they’re so — I’ll say it like this: They are an ocean. I’m a big lake. Someone else is a swimming pool. I’m somewhere in the middle.”***José Santana was a professional violin player who taught his son Carlos the instrument. The boy learned the emotional power of even a simple melody in classical pieces, Mexican folk tunes and pop standards such as “Fascination.” But when he heard U.S. rhythm-and-blues, he set aside the violin and picked up a guitar. Barely a teenager, he supported himself with a gig accompanying dancers in a strip club.“You learn how to strip women,” he recalls. “Yet at the same time, exalt, like ‘Ave Maria.’ It’s the same energy.”The family immigrated to San Francisco, and by the late 1960s, Carlos Santana had co-founded a band with a rare integrated lineup of Latinos, whites and an African American. They earned coveted invitations to play at the Fillmore and then Woodstock.“This was no peace, love, hippie thing. The band was like a street gang, and its weapon was music,” drummer Michael Shrieve recalled when the original Santana band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, he elaborated: “This band was very serious and rehearsed every single day. … If you messed up, you’d be called on it in no uncertain terms. It was like there was a mission behind the whole endeavor.”One day after rehearsal, Shrieve asked Santana if he wanted to see a movie. Recalls Shrieve: “He stops in his tracks, and he looks at me and he says, ‘Man, what would I want to go see a movie for? I want to be the movie.’ “A seminal moment for Santana came when he first saw B.B. King play guitar, in 1967, when Santana was about 20, two years before Woodstock. The bluesman knew how to coax maximum ecstasy out of a single note. What caught Santana’s attention was not King’s fretwork but his transfigured expression.“I needed to see B.B. King because once I saw his face, I said, ‘Oh, it’s not the amplifier, it’s not the guitar,’ ” Santana recalls. “It’s where he went. He metaphysically went into a place in his head beyond his mind to get that tone and that note.“After that, my mom would always ask me, ‘Mi hijo, [my son], where do you go when you look up at the ceiling and you play differently?’ I told her it’s a place where everything’s memorable, there’s no more time, there’s no more distance, there’s no more fear. It’s called a state of grace.”From that foundation, his music took flight.“He loves Africa and African music, so he’s always bringing those fundamental colors, flavors and rhythms to mainstream pop culture,” says drummer and producer Narada Michael Walden, who has produced Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Barbara Steisand and Elton John. “You can revolutionize music by doing that over and over again, and that’s what he’s done — be it through pushing on the jazz side, the rock side, the blues side, the Spanish-Mexican side, even pushing into the top 10.”The top 10 had become elusive after the early hits, until an angel and a record company executive intervened, according to Santana. The result was “Supernatural.”“I’m not afraid to say it was an angel called Metatron that came around,” he says.Metatron is a figure in medieval mystical writings. Santana attended seances and learned from Metatron: “You will be placed on the radio like you’ve never been before,” he recalls. “And I’m like, I haven’t been on the radio since ’72.”In return, Santana would be expected to use that platform “to invite people to create their own masterpieces of joy.” And he would have to disclose for the first time publicly that he had been sexually molested as a child, by a man outside his family, in order to help other victims heal. Santana kept his side of the bargain in interviews after “Supernatural” was released.His intention, he says now, was to “invite other people who have been molested sexually when they were children to look at themselves in the mirror and say, ‘I am not what happened to me. I am still with purity and innocence.’ ” By discussing it, he says, “I became totally free from it. I was released.” Carlos Santana finds that inner place during a 1978 concert. Courtesy of Chris Hakkens/Wikimedia Commons No related posts.
GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemala’s highest court ruled last Friday that Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz will be out of office in May, half a year before her original end of term. However, while this is a blow to many in the international human rights community, it is not necessarily a victory for Guatemala’s political right, as Paz y Paz has filed paperwork to be considered for a second term as the nation’s top prosecutor.The Constitutional Court ruled in favor of conservative attorney and businessman Ricardo Sagastume when it declared that Paz y Paz’s term as attorney general ends on May 19, not in December after four years, as stipulated by the constitution.A U.S. State Department spokesperson cited by The Sacramento Bee said the United States had “enjoyed unprecedented cooperation with Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz in Guatemala” and was “disappointed” in the court’s ruling. “As attorney general, Paz y Paz has made incredible progress in combating corruption and organized crime, and prosecuting human rights violations in Guatemala.”The statement added that the embassy would “follow the upcoming attorney general nomination and selection process extremely closely.”“After many years of near impunity for human rights crimes … we were finally starting to see the country make progress on several fronts” under Paz y Paz’s prosecutorial leadership, Daniel Wilkinson, managing director for New York-based Human Rights Watch’ Americas division, said shortly after the court’s provisional ruling against Paz y Paz in February. “The justice system was finally starting to get some traction.” Guatemalan ex-Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz. Benjamin Reeves/The Tico TimesThe court’s 69-page ruling stated that the office of the attorney general is “an institutional, not personal period.” According to the court’s interpretation, Paz y Paz has been serving out the remainder of a four-year term that began with the prior attorney general, who was dismissed shortly after his appointment. The court did, however, dismiss the claim that Paz y Paz had sought to illegally extend her time in office.Now, the process of selecting the next attorney general must proceed at a breakneck pace. Last Friday, Paz y Paz presented her paperwork to be considered for the position once more. On Monday, a selection committee began reviewing 30 applications for the job, and six were quickly eliminated. The committee must present a final list of six candidates to President Otto Pérez Molina by May 2.The crowded field includes Jorge Luis Donado Vivar, a former organized crime prosecutor, and Julio Cesar Rivera Claveria, former interior vice minister.By her own estimation, Paz y Paz’s greatest achievement in office has been the reduction of impunity from 95 percent to about 70 percent: “I believe that this is a very important achievement because it absolutely demonstrates that an efficient criminal investigation can be made with respect for the law and the rule of law.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Guatemala Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz battles to serve out her term For justice in Guatemala, ‘2 steps forward, 1 step back’ Guatemalans bury victims of 1982 civil war massacre Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina dismisses ‘spurious’ corruption case
The National Liberation Party’s (PLN) “non-candidate,” Johnny Araya, left his home in Rohrmoser, a wealthy neighborhood west of San José, at 9:30 a.m. Sunday to begin Costa Rica’s second-round Election Day.Surrounded by a throng of journalists, Araya said he has no regrets about his decision to stop campaigning in early March due to overwhelming odds against his victory and a shortage of campaign funds. The former San José mayor said his decision would help improve unity within his struggling political party, which has dominated Costa Rican politics for half a century.Araya then accompanied running mate Silvia Lara, who voted in the southwestern San José suburb of Escazú. Despite the odds stacked against him, Araya remained upbeat: “We’ve received several messages from across the country reporting that party members are present at all polling centers, despite our lack of financial resources. I want to thank all of them.”He then took advantage of the media exposure to address his followers, saying, “I call on all Costa Ricans to cast their votes, and I particularly call on liberacionistas to collaborate by lending us cars to mobilize voters.”Araya arrived a short while later at Carlos Sanabria elementary school in the western district of Pavas, where journalists continued asking him about his chances of winning.“I hope that Costa Ricans pay attention to the call for national unity that I made, and I hope they understand that ours is the best proposal for Costa Rica. As of 6 p.m., I will be ready to serve the country, either as president or as a citizen,” Araya said shortly before casting his vote at polling center number 200.“If the PLN becomes the opposition party, I will try to help however I can, and I will try to exercise responsible leadership in the party,” Araya added. “I will not act like other opposition parties that devote their time to blocking the current administration in an attempt to promote failure, starting on the first day of the term.”Araya said he did not plan on attending other public activities the rest of the afternoon, and he said he would stay in contact with party members in all provinces via social media networks.The candidate is scheduled to arrive at 6 p.m. at PLN headquarters, known as the “Balcón Verde,” near La Sabana Park in western San José. There he will wait for the first results issued by the Supreme Elections Tribunal, beginning at 8 p.m.Araya, who governed Costa Rica’s capital for more than two decades before running for president, said he has no speech prepared for tonight, hoping his words – either in victory or defeat – “will come from the heart.”Before leaving Carlos Sanabria school, Araya, whose brother Rolando unsuccessfully ran for president 12 years ago, insisted the PLN is not fledgling: “Our party has 63 years of history, and I personally will work for its renovation, as it is now clear that a generational renovation is needed.” Facebook Comments Related posts:What keeps Johnny Araya awake at night? The real communist threat in Costa Rica The light at the end of the election National Liberation Party bans former presidential candidate and ex-mayor Johnny Araya from running for office for 4 years
The official number of international arrivals by air to Costa Rica in the first six months of 2015 was 4.4 percent higher than the same period last year, the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) reported Tuesday.Analyzing data from the Immigration Administration, the ICT said 41,698 more travelers arrived by air this year, for a total during the six-month period of 987,801. In a projected profit analysis, the ICT said the country’s tourism sector pulled in about $1.6 billion during the period – about $161 million more than the first half of 2014.Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) outside San José remains the country’s main air terminal, but the Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR) in Liberia, Guanacaste, registered the highest percentage of growth in the number of air travelers during the period, at 8.5 percent. SJO airport registered a 3.2 percent increase.Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura said the numbers reflect positive results obtained by airlines and new route strategies, as well as more promotional efforts abroad.“These results complement an increase in the number of flights by six airlines so far this year, as well as other efforts that are generating significant revenue for the sector,” Ventura said.The total number of international arrivals, taking into account air, sea and land, increased by 1.7 percent. That figure excludes the arrivals of Ticos and foreign citizens with valid work permits from the Labor Ministry, the ICT stated.The report indicates that the total figure could have been higher but was affected by a slowdown in arrivals by land and sea, which decreased by 4 and 13 percent, respectively.The U.S. is still the main source of tourists to the country, although Mexico registered the highest percentage of growth during the period of study. The entry of travelers from Mexico on a tourist visa increased by 9 percent, while those from the U.S. increased by 4.2 percent. Canada was third, at 1.7 percent growth.European markets with the best increases were the U.K. with 15.5 percent, Germany with 8.9 percent and France with 8.3 percent. ICT officials believe the U.K. numbers likely will continue to increase following the recent announcement of direct London-San José flights by British Airways.The ICT also reported an increase in the average spending by travelers. Those entering at SJO on average spent $1,635 while here, while those who arrived via the northwestern province of Guanacaste spent an average of $802.Travelers in the first half of this year stayed on average 12.4 nights – one of the highest figures in the world of travel, the ICT reported. Facebook Comments Related posts:Alaska Airlines to open two routes between Los Angeles and Costa Rica Costa Rica welcomes its 1 millionth US tourist this year Costa Rica rises in global ranking of travel, tourism competitiveness British Airways to fly direct London-Costa Rica in 2016
Related posts:5 questions for Costa Rican artist Ulillo 5 questions for Costa Rican sculptor José Sancho 5 questions for a Costa Rican photographer 5 question for a Costa Rican painter Daniella Baltodano’s jewelry line brings an unusual mix of disciplines to the table. Baltodano, 35, studied biology and landscape architecture at the University of Costa Rica, then worked for four years as a landscape architect at Urban Design South. When, two years ago, she ventured into the jewelry world with her own business, Elha, she incorporated both architectural aesthetics and her love of biology. Her work is characterized by the merging of semiprecious stones, silver and a clean, pleasing look.On a sunny, warm morning, The Tico Times sat down at Café Miel in Barrio Otoya and spoke with Baltodano about her process. Excerpts follow.How you choose the semiprecious stones?The stones I use represent the architectural axes, both in the faceted stones and in their cuts and gloss. My favorite stone is the sapphire due to its resistance to heat and its infinite colors. It’s wonderful. I love the stones in their natural state because you can see their organic crystallization. I find it amazing that the earth can create this. I also love pearls, but the ones that are in their natural state. Most of the time I choose the stones because of the use of color and color theory, rather than the stone itself.There are many stones with different meanings. For me, the sapphire means that luxury is accessible. There are also stones such as the pink quartz that contain an energetic component; everyone associates it with love. Most of the time [the stone choice by a wearer] is due to the person’s skin color.What do the stones’ colors mean for you when creating a piece?I love color theory, so I notice it quite a lot, and the contrasts it creates. My jewelry is made to be worn on a daily basis, so there are colors that work quite well and others not so much. Finding that perfect tone for the user and managing to catch that person’s attention at that moment is part of the process. There’s a theory that says that sometimes you have an energy shortage, and you’re drawn toward certain colors. There are times when you only want to dress in black or blue, and it’s because each color represents a certain mood. I believe that when people choose their jewelry it has to do with that. They’re searching for their favorite color, or a certain color clicked with them at that moment. In the Elha line, Baltodano plays with both architectural and biological aesthetics. (Courtesy of Daniella Baltodano)Why are you so drawn to geometric figures?I guess it all has to do with the eight years of architecture. I’ve tried to regain the biological part, so I’ve incorporated a lot of textures and aspects of the forest. When my husband and I go to the forest we find tons of treasures along the way. I take them back home to my atelier and try to incorporate them. I try to clean everything so that it’s perfectly aligned with its axes.What pieces have been most difficult to create?The most difficult are the engagement rings. I make them because it’s a personal challenge. It requires a lot of perfection, precision and accuracy compared to the other jewels I do; these other jewels are more contemporary and less perfect and accurate. However, I love being able to tell a story through an engagement ring. When I hand over the ring to a guy, the fact that he’ll propose marriage with it is such a big symbol of love, independently of the piece’s value. I love that.How do you define elegance?I believe in the idea of less is more. Simplicity is part of sophistication. In my family we’ve always been very minimalist when it comes to dressing and decorating, so I like my jewelry to be a detail rather than a statement. It has to be delicate and embellish the person and his or her clothing. It’s a detail that accompanies you and, one way or another, you feel identified with it because of the shape or color.Our “Weekend Arts Spotlight” presents Sunday interviews with artists who are from, working in, or inspired by Costa Rica, ranging from writers and actors to dancers and musicians. Do you know of an artist we should consider, whether a long-time favorite or an up-and-comer? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook Comments
Costa Rica and Panama were two of 14 countries in the Americas to announce they would not acknowledge the results of Sunday’s elections in Venezuela in which President Nicolás Maduro was reelected with almost 68 percent of the vote. The two governments asserted the process was not democratic.The Costa Rican Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement arguing that the Venezuelan electoral process presented “flaws from its genesis and did not comply with the international standards of a pluralist, free, democratic and transparent electoral process.”Costa Rica also expressed “its profound worry that the electoral journey did not take into account the participation of all of political actors, nor of international independent observers, which weakens democracy.”In the case of Panama, where the Foreign Ministry released a similar statement, the decision reflects increasing tensions between the two countries ever since Panama included Maduro and other Venezuelan senior officials in a list of individuals considered “high risk” for money laundering in March.In response, Venezuela suspended economic relations for three months with a hundred Panamanian businesses including Copa Airlines, Venezuela’s primary air travel connection with Latin America.Argentina, Brasil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Santa Lucia expressed similar positions Monday.The leading opposition candidate in the Venezuelan elections, Henri Falcón, did not acknowledge the electoral result, saying he did not consider the process to have been legitimate and asking that the election be repeated. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica, EU and Latam contact group on Venezuela will meet Thursday Europeans, Latin Americans to meet on Venezuela crisis Costa Rica recognizes Juan Guaidó as President of Venezuela; Maduro severs ties with US, expels diplomats Venezuela: three months of crisis
The Costa Rican Red Cross stated they found the body of missing U.S. newlywed Josh Byrne, 30, Saturday afternoon.Josh went missing Thursday night near Dominical in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone after rising waters from heavy rains swept his vehicle off a bridge in the area.WCVB News in Boston, Massachusetts reported that Josh was honeymooning in the area with his wife Bianca Byrne.The couple married last weekend in New Hampshire, the ABC affiliate reported, and were caught up in a flash flood while crossing a bridge near Playa Dominicalito. Bianca was able to make it to safety after the car was washed away, but Josh could not.For more information about flooding in the Southern Zone and relief efforts in the area, visit the Amigos of Costa Rica flood relief page here.This story was updated on Oct. 13, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. to report that the Costa Rican Red Cross had located Josh Byrne’s body. Facebook Comments Related posts:UPDATED: Tropical storm causes deaths, flooding in Costa Rica and region BREAKING: Costa Rican prosecutor dies after shooting at his home ICE seeks annulment of $112 million payment to Italian company Costa Rica swears in its first woman Chief Prosecutor
Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories Comments Share More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Police are also questioning the men about the student’s death. The police officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, citing policy.Japanese media identified the woman as Nicola Furlong. The hometowns were not released.The younger suspect was not named because he is a minor under Japanese law.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Associated PressTOKYO (AP) – Police say two Americans are being questioned about an Irish woman’s death in a Tokyo hotel.Police officials said Monday the 21-year-old exchange student had been strangled. Japanese media say the woman, her friend and the Americans met at a Nicki Minaj concert Thursday in Tokyo.Police arrested 23-year-old dancer James Jamari Blackston and a 19-year-old musician on suspicion of sexually molesting the victim’s female friend in a taxi to the hotel. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019
Sponsored Stories Comments Share PARIS (AP) – France’s President Francois Hollande has headed off on vacation this year by train _ not plane _ in a break with his flashy predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.Frugally-minded Hollande, who promised during spring’s presidential campaign to save money by catching trains, took high-speed rail on Thursday from Paris with his girlfriend, Valerie Trierweiler.They’re headed for the Fort de Bregancon, an official retreat in southeastern France. Top Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family 5 treatments for adult scoliosis More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements They travelled first class. But it’s a stark contrast from the unpopular Sarkozy, who was criticized for vacationing using a Dassault Falcon 7X jet and an Airbus dubbed “Air Sarko One.”Hollande has carefully cultivated a “Mr. Normal” image. He says traveling by train is an important symbol at a time when “many French want to go on vacation…and can’t.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths
Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – More than 3,000 Serbian nationalists have rallied against a deal normalizing relations with breakaway Kosovo, accusing the government of treason for accepting the agreement in order to advance Serbia’s EU bid.Carrying banners “No EU” and “Kosovo is Serbia,” the demonstrators on Friday pledged support to hardline Serbs in northern Kosovo who have also rejected the EU-brokered accord. Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments Share Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories Quick workouts for men The deal will give Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leadership authority over rebel Kosovo Serbs, who, in return, will get wide-ranging autonomy.Serbia has rejected Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence, but must improve ties with its former province to join the European Union. Belgrade’s control over Serb-populated north of Kosovo has led to tensions.One Kosovo Serb, Slavisa Ristic, told the rally in Belgrade “there can be no agreement about abandoning Kosovo.”(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Four benefits of having a wireless security system
Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments Share WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is outlining its plan to end the nation’s lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, a 32-year-old policy that many medical groups and gay activists say is no longer justified.The FDA on Tuesday released proposed guidelines for screening blood donors at increased risk of carrying HIV. Under the proposal, the current blanket ban on donations from gay men would be replaced with a policy barring donations from men who have had sex with another man in the last year. The Obama administration previously announced the policy shift in December. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The FDA concluded that moving to a one-year deferral period would not compromise the safety of the U.S. blood supply, based on data from Australia and other sources.The lifetime donation ban dates from the early years of the AIDS crisis and was initially intended to protect the blood supply from what was a then little-understood disease.On the current blood donor questionnaire, men are asked if they have ever had sex with another man since 1977– the start of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. Potential donors who answer positively are barred from donating blood. The updated questionnaire, proposed by the FDA, would only ask men if they have had sex with another man in the last 12 months.The FDA will take comments on the draft proposal for 60 days, before beginning to finalize the guidelines.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Parents, stop beating yourself up New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of If finalized, the new policy would put the U.S. in line with other countries that enforce a one-year deferral period on donations from sexually active gay men, including Australia, Japan and the U.K.Gay activists, however, continued to question whether requiring a year of celibacy from gay men amounts to a significant policy shift.Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. gay rights group, said the FDA’s plan was a step in the right direction, but that it would continue to stigmatize gay and bisexual men.“This policy prevents men from donating life-saving blood based solely on their sexual orientation rather than actual risk to the blood supply,” said David Stacy, the group’s government affairs director, in a statement.Many medical groups, including the American Medical Association, have previously said that the lifetime ban is no longer supported by science, given advances in HIV testing. In 2006 the Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks, and America’s Blood Centers called the ban “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”All U.S. blood donations are screened for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But there is a roughly 10-day window between initial infection and when the virus can be detected in the bloodstream. The American Red Cross estimates the risk of getting an HIV-positive blood donation is 1 in 1.5 million for U.S. patients. About 15.7 million blood donations are collected in the U.S. each year. Top Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center
Top Stories China pushed back against U.S. criticism of its conduct in the South China Sea, where its assertive behavior and land reclamation to advance its territorial claims have rattled its Asian neighbors, U.S. allies among them. China says the disputed areas are its sovereign territory.Washington took the unusual step last month of publicizing a U.S. military surveillance flight that showed the massive scale of China’s island-building, which critics also say is damaging to the marine environment.“There is no crisis in the South China Sea,” said Zheng Zeguang, assistant minister of foreign affairs, adding that China’s behavior was “beyond reproach.” He said it should not be an issue between the U.S. and China because the U.S. is not a claimant.Despite their differences on maritime security, the U.S. and China said Wednesday they are stepping up cooperation on preserving the ocean and combating illegal fishing in the North Pacific. Both sides are also emphasizing their joint efforts on combating climate change.____Associated Press writers Paul Wiseman and Nancy Benac contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi during the Strategic Track Ocean meeting during the US China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), Wednesday, June 24, 2015, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States claimed progress Wednesday with China on currency issues and toward negotiating a code of conduct for cyberspace after two days of high-level talks that underscored sharp differences but paved the way for a visit by China’s leader in the fall.President Barack Obama rounded out the annual U.S.-China Security and Economic Dialogue by raising concerns to leaders of the Chinese delegation about Chinese cyber behavior and tensions over disputed seas of East Asia that have weighed on efforts by the two powers to forge a more cooperative relationship. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall “He urged China to take concrete steps to lower tensions,” the White House said in a statement after the meeting.While Secretary of State John Kerry described the U.S.-China as “ascending,” he said cyber intrusions have raised security questions and harmed U.S. businesses. He said the two countries should be working together for a shared understanding of appropriate state behavior in cyberspace.Kerry said there are acceptable international norms of behavior. “We need to work together in order to define those, and then live by them. I think that message was clearly delivered and received and hopefully that work will begin in earnest very, very quickly,” he told reporters.In the past two years, mounting U.S. pressure on cyber issues has had little apparent impact on Chinese behavior. Obama raised it directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping when he last visited the U.S. in 2013, but allegations of state-backed cybertheft and espionage have only intensified.Administration officials have said they are increasingly confident that China’s government was responsible for a massive breach of personnel records of as many as 14 million of federal employees and contractors. But the administration has stopped short of publicly blaming the break-in on China. Comments Share 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist State Councilor Yang Jiechi said China cracks down on hacking and is ready to cooperate with the U.S. on cybersecurity. But he urged the U.S. to “respect facts.” China has directly denied involved in the massive breach of date from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew cited significant progress on a longstanding U.S. concern that China’s currency is undervalued against the dollar, which helps Chinese exporters.He acknowledged that the renminbi, or RMB, has appreciated in value and said that China’s foreign exchange intervention has declined over the past year. He said China has committed to intervene in the foreign exchange market only when necessitated by disorderly market conditions.But he added that the “real test” would be when there’s upward pressure on the RMB.“Will China refrain from intervening? That is still an open issue,” Lew said. “They still need to work toward having a fully market-determined exchange rate.”He also voiced U.S. concerns over access to Chinese markets, and said the two sides had a long way to go in negotiating a bilateral investment treaty. He said they had agreed to narrow their respective lists of sectors that would be exempted from foreign investment by early September, when Xi visits Washington. Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day
Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Men’s health affects baby’s health too How men can have a healthy 2019 Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Uniqlo has denied any involvement in the video which spread widely online last week and gave rise to jokes about fitting rooms becoming the latest make-out spots.The police statement said the couple admitted sending the video, which was made in April, to a friend on popular mobile chatting app WeChat, and that it later somehow appeared on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo’s microblogging platform.A 19-year-old man is suspected of posting the video online and the other three of spreading obscene information, the statement said.In China, people convicted of disseminating obscene books, films, pictures and videos face up to two years’ imprisonment, while those who make obscene products for profit face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.China’s cyberspace administration has already chastised two of the country’s main Internet companies, Sina Corp. which runs Sina Weibo, and Tencent Holding Ltd. which runs WeChat, for allowing the video to spread.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments Share BEIJING (AP) — Four people have been detained in connection with a sex video purportedly taken inside a Uniqlo fitting room that spread rapidly online, Beijing police said.They were detained on suspicion of spreading obscene content, according to a police statement late Sunday. Police said they were still investigating the couple who can be seen in the cellphone video apparently having sex in the Japanese retailer’s flagship Beijing store. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.C Qantas breached security protocols during a bomb scare at Sydney Airport on Thursday 9 September, according to baggage handlers.A male passenger had told check-in staff that there was a bomb in his bag, which was then X-rayed and found to be clear, The Age reported.Communication broke down between security and Qantas management later that night when baggage handlers were again asked to screen the bag.Handlers queried the request, but met by Qantas managers unaware of the earlier check. The bag was then ordered to be X-rayed, rather than being isolated and having the area cleared to ensure safety.The systems for handling the threat were inadequate, and members found it frightening the police were not called, Transport Workers Union national secretary, Tony Sheldon, said. “On the eve of the anniversary of September 11, the community, industry and workforce has been let down again by the people in charge of our aviation industry,” Mr Sheldon said.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T BA invests £5 billion in new and upgraded aircraft. Image: Boeing British Airways will announce the 2013 routes for the new aircraft soon. British Airways will invest £5 billion in new and upgraded aircraft, revealing the cabin design and layout of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A380 aircraft.24 Dreamliners and 12 A380s will feature new Club World 2:3:2 configurations, the latest production of World Traveller and World Traveller Plus seats and elegant cabin designs.16 of the 24 Dreamliners on order will be 787-9s and could have three or four-cabin configurations. British Airways will take delivery of the first of the new long-haul aircraft in less than six months, with its inaugural Dreamliner set to arrive in May and A380s due in July 2013.“We now have six Boeing 777-300ERs all fitted with our latest cabins,” International Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive Willie Walsh said.“The nine new aircraft we take delivery of in 2013 will feature our latest signature designs to ensure the customer experience maintains the highest standard across our fleet.” The planes will also feature the airline’s popular Thales in-flight entertainment system, providing customers a greater range of movies, television shows, music and audio programs.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T US visitor expenditure and arrivals have been building over the past year and Tourism Australia plans to capitalise on this trend throughout 2013. Between January and October 2012, US arrivals into Australia grew by more than four percent, while October 2012 witnessed an eight percent increase, compared with the same period in 2011.US visitor expenditure improved 12 percent in the year to September 2012, reaching over $2.3 billion, according to International Visitor Survey data.Tourism Australia will showcase the future potential and destination appeal of Australia during the 10th anniversary of G’day USA 2013. “These numbers are encouraging and show that more Americans are recognising Australia’s many attractions as a vacation destination,” Tourism Australia vice president Americas Jane Whitehead said.“We are seeing particularly high growth in the target segment that is the primary focus of our marketing efforts, the 45 years+ affluent traveller.“This segment grew 12 percent in visitor numbers, 23 percent in expenditure and spent 26 percent more nights exploring Australia’s many attractions beyond the gateway cities,” Ms Whitehead said. Australia’s popularity as a business events hub has seen meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) visitors from the US to Australia jump 30 percent in the year to October 2012. Tourism Australia’s ‘There’s Nothing like Australia’ campaign has been a vital component in drawing extra visitors from the United States.“With this campaign, we are leading with some of the best experiences we have to offer and showcasing why, whatever you may be looking for from a vacation, you will find it in Australia,” Ms Whitehead said.Popular daytime television host Ellen Degeneres will bring her show to Australian shores, visiting Melbourne and Sydney in 2013.“Ellen has a strong following in the US and will do a fantastic job in shining the media spotlight on the country, just as Oprah did in 2010,” Ms Whitehead said. US visitor numbers and expenditure to Australia on the rise. Image: Tourism Australia