Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s defense minister said Thursday that a senior official supported an arms manufacturer’s bid to get the country’s military intelligence service to probe leaks about alleged shortcomings of its assault rifle — a weapon that she has since ordered replaced.Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s statement came amid opposition calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the government’s handling of problems with the G36 rifle. It followed reports by Der Spiegel and Stern magazines that manufacturer Heckler & Koch and a senior ministry official sought to have the intelligence agency take action against alleged leaks to journalists by officials. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Von der Leyen, widely viewed as a potential successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, has faced questions from the media and opposition politicians over how long her ministry has been aware of the extent of problems with the G36.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Four benefits of having a wireless security system Top Stories Von der Leyen said it was “very strange” that Heckler & Koch approached the agency, known as MAD, in 2013 and “completely unacceptable” that the head of the ministry’s armaments department in December that year wrote to MAD backing a call for investigations of officials.MAD’s director swiftly rejected the idea and the ministry official was removed from his post, according to von der Leyen, who became defense minister in December 2013.Further work is needed to clear up what happened and how her office dealt with information about it, she said, adding that “structural and personnel consequences” will be drawn if needed.Der Spiegel reported that ministry officials in consultation with the manufacturer had sought to prevent critical reporting and have MAD act against journalists. Heckler & Koch rejected that, saying in a statement that it never called for snooping on journalists or initiated a “joint operation” to suppress reporting.Last month, von der Leyen said the G36 has “no future” with the German military in its current form and will be replaced — weeks after she said a study showed that there are problems with its accuracy, particularly at high temperatures. Heckler & Koch has questioned those conclusions and accused the government of damaging its reputation. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Sponsored Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of 0 Comments Share Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement
Yet hope is still alive for the second half of the year amid signs that the economy could regain lost momentum.Employers are holding onto their existing workers, keeping layoffs at rock bottom, and adding staff — evidence that their outlook remains positive.In a report Thursday, the government said applications for unemployment benefits are at the lowest level in 15 years, which means layoffs are low and job security is very high. Employers added 223,000 jobs in April, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent.“Companies are implicitly telling us that they believe this is temporary,” says Joseph LaVorgna, an economist at Deutsche Bank. “They’re looking through the weakness from the ports and the weather.”Indeed, the first half of the year is shaping up to be surprisingly lackluster.Analysts estimate the economy may expand at an annual rate of just 2 percent in the April-June quarter after barely discernable growth of 0.2 percent in the January-March quarter. Some economists say the government’s next revision will likely send the figure into negative territory, possibly as low as minus 1 percent.That would put growth in the first half of 2015 at a “pretty disappointing” 0.5 percent, says Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan Chase. That’s a far cry from the 3 percent pace for all of 2015 that most economists expected late last year. Growth hasn’t reached that level since 2005. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility FILE – In this Friday, Feb. 6, 2015 file photo, a shopper pays for produce at a Farmers Market in downtown Los Angeles. Consumers have been uncharacteristically frugal, even as the country added jobs and a sharp drop in gas prices over the past year left them more money to spend. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File) The biggest reason behind the disappointment is consumers, who were widely expected to return to their free-spending ways.Gas prices are still about $1 a gallon cheaper nationwide than a year ago, despite some recent increases. Steady hiring in the past year means 3 million more people are earning paychecks compared with a year ago. And consumer confidence has also risen in recent months.Yet in the first three months of the year, Americans increased their spending by just 1.9 percent, the weakest gain in a year. A report on restaurant and retail sales Wednesday showed that spending was flat in April, crushing hopes for a stronger rebound.“The disappearance of consumer spending in early 2015 has now become even more mysterious, as some of the excuses shopped around earlier, like bad weather, are looking more stretched with the passage of time,” Feroli says.Most economists have concluded that Americans, at least so far, are reluctant to spend their savings from cheaper gas because they believe the drop in prices will be temporary. Meanwhile, spending by oil and gas companies on drilling rigs, steel pipes and other equipment plummeted nearly 50 percent in the first quarter, a much steeper drop than economists forecast. ___Contact Chris Rugaber on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/ChrisRugaberCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments Share Sponsored Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Top Stories WASHINGTON (AP) — Like an underachieving student, the U.S. economy isn’t living up to the high hopes it began the year with.Consumers have been uncharacteristically frugal, even as the country added jobs and a sharp drop in gas prices over the past year left them more money to spend. Meanwhile, drilling companies reeling from cheaper oil have slashed spending much more rapidly than anyone expected.A host of other, mostly temporary, factors have also weighed on growth. Harsh winter weather kept shoppers at home, and a labor dispute at West Coast ports slowed exports. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober “We expected (cheaper gas) to have a positive impact,” Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, said. “It hasn’t.”So are things turning around? Short answer: probably.Many trends currently weighing on growth should fade. International trade will be less of a drag in the second half of the year, economists say. The dollar’s rise against other major currencies, such as the euro, has leveled off. A strong dollar has made exports more expensive, hurting sales in overseas markets.A surge of imports in March, which widened the trade gap and cut growth, was probably a one-time event triggered by the resolution of the West Coast port dispute.Consumer spending should rebound from the first quarter’s unusually low level. And spending by energy companies will likely stop falling by the third quarter, LaVorgna said. He expects growth will reach a 3 percent annual rate in the second half.Home construction is also poised to lift growth. Harsh weather postponed many projects in January and February, but homebuilding rose 2 percent in March from the previous month.Steady job gains will also help, giving more Americans paychecks that they will ideally spend. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day
<a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/24099/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Airbus said this week it had partnered with Heathrow, Singapore Airlines and NATS to launch an improved departure procedure for SIA’s Airbus A380 to save fuel.The companies worked together over the last year to develop the new airline procedure, which has been put into place immediately.It allows the carrier’s A380 to use less power when taking off from Heathrow and use flexible acceleration of up to 4000 feet when it’s at a height of 1,500 feet.Airbus said it would help SIA save an additional 300kg of fuel per flight, equating to one metric tonne of emissions of CO2 on a flight to Singapore, as well as reducing NOx emissions.The aircraft also remains within the airport’s strict noise procedures as it produces half the noise energy at takeoff and cuts the area exposed to equivalent noise levels around the airport runway by half.”Our cooperation with Heathrow, NATS and Airbus goes to show what can be achieved when stakeholders share the same goal of reducing carbon emissions and fuel burn” said SIA Senior Vice President Flight Operations Captain Gerard Yeap.“Singapore Airlines is committed to playing its part in ensuring greener skies and sustainable air travel, and we hope this partnership will serve as a model for airport operators and governments elsewhere in the world.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L
National Aviation Company of India, the state-owned parent of Air India, is seeking about US$840 million in compensation from Boeing Corporation for the near three year delay of its 787 Dreamliner jets. The previous demand of $710 million made in January 2009 was raised by National Aviation last week, Bloomberg reported. Air India’s original commitment for 27 Dreamliners was targeted for delivery by September 2008, but is now expected to start delivery in the second quarter of 2011, according to the president of Boeing India, Dinesh Keskar. The delay has hampered Air India’s growth plans and saddled them with additional costs, said National Aviation in a recent statement. The airline, which has not posted a profit since its formation in 2007, said it may increase the demand for compensation should Boeing further set back the deliveries. The Chicago-based airline manufacturer has pushed back the debut of the 787 Dreamliner – the world’s first composite-plastic airliner and Boeing’s best-selling jet model ever – due to continued struggle with new materials, parts shortages, redesign work and an increased reliance on suppliers. The delays have forced Boeing into constant negotiations with its 55 clients over penalties for the delivery delays of 847 Dreamliners. However, the claims by Air India may be overly ambitious, according to industry analysts. “What’s unlikely is that any individual customer would rise to this level. I would find it highly unlikely that the claims being quoted for Air India will ever come to pass,” said Myles Walton, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG in New York. Mr Walton estimated that Boeing’s penalties to all its customers would reach about $5 billion, with the company looking to satisfy the majority of those claims with discounts, maintenance agreements, options, purchase rights, delivery-slot availability and other means of non-cash payments.Binit Somaia, an analyst at the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation in Sydney, agreed with the likely compensation structure: “A cash payment would be very handy for Air India at this stage … I would imagine the manufacturer though would opt for non-cash components, in the form of discounts for future orders and training.” Air India aims to fly 25 million travellers a year domestically and 15 million on overseas routes to break even in fiscal year 2015. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.C
As the Aussie dollar hits a six week high, Aussie travellers will get more bang for their buck in Asia than Europe, according to TripAdvisor.Tracked against the Australian Dollar, TripAdvisor’s 2012 TripIndex compares the price out for an evening in 48 major cities worldwide.Based on the combined costs for two adults staying one night in a four-star hotel, a two-course dinner with a bottle of wine, cocktails and a return taxi (of approximately 3.2 kilometres each way), Vietnam city Hanoi was least expensive with a total cost of $144.95.At the other end of the scale and nearly triple the cost of a night out in Hanoi, London cashed in at $531.09.Although some European countries like Budapest and Warsaw were just as affordable as some Asian cities, the most costly cities to hit the town in are throughout Europe such as Oslo, Zurich, Paris, Stockholm, Moscow and Denmark.Hotel price was the main factor that affected the overall rankings, with the least expensive four-star hotel’s average price being in Bangkok, Thailand, at $83.38 per night. Once again the most expensive city to book the same standard hotel is London, at $371.66 per night.The international TripIndex destination list is as follows, ranked least expensive to most expensive.Hanoi, VietnamBeijing, ChinaBangkok, ThailandBudapest, HungaryKuala Lumpur, MalaysiaWarsaw, PolandTaipei, TaiwanSofia, BulgariaJakarta, IndonesiaTunis, Tunisia SingaporeSydney, AustraliaCopenhagen, DenmarkMoscow, RussiaNew York City, USAStockholm, SwedenParis, FranceZurich, SwitzerlandOslo, NorwayLondon, UK Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W
Congratulations to Canadian Tourism Commission, winner of e-Travel Blackboard’s Advertastic Giveaway.Canadian Tourism Commission was the first correct entry drawn in the guessing competition.The correct answer to the competition’s question was ‘Travel’.Canadian Tourism Commission has won up to AU$50,000 worth of online advertising, email distribution and graphic design services on any of Agents Support Systems’ websites & newsletters including; www.etbtravelnews.global | www.etbnews.co.nz | www.etbnews.asia | www.etbnews.us | www.etbmice.com | www.travelnow.com.au and www.obrochure.com.Canadian Tourism Commission’s travel trade manager Nathan McLoughlin said “We are absolutely thrilled to win this fantastic promotion with e-Travel Blackboard. e-Travel Blackboard is a strong medium in the trade for us and has always delivered excellent results for any promotion we have run. We really look forward to working with the team at e-Travel Blackboard in the next 12 months in utilising this amazing prize and spreading the Canada message out to the trade.”“We received entries from a variety of companies looking to enhance their online exposure. I wish to thank everyone who entered the competition and for supporting us” e-Travel Blackboard general manager Anthony Valeriano said.Contact e-Travel Blackboard’s sales team today to take advantage of our special advertising package options email@example.com or phone +61 2 8208 8866 Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T.
The first-class female passenger became so disruptive after consuming five glasses of wine that the flight was forced to divert to Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Ms Auerbach was travelling with two children, who were permitted to continue to Shanghai. “In response, Auerbach swore at A.J. and demanded that a flight attendant give her A.J.’s name… a flight attendant intervened and returned Auerbach to her assigned seat…. Auerbach alarmed A.J. and it appeared to A.J. that Auerbach was attempting to gain access to the pilot.” A flight from New York to Shanghai had to be diverted after a drunk passenger became unruly. “Auerbach spilt alcohol on passenger A.J. and grabbed A.J.’s wrist to place a bracelet on A.J. (She) declined to wear the bracelet and asked Auerbach to leave her alone,” FBI documents revealed. Woman becomes disruptive, flight forced to land in Alaska. A flight attendant asked her to return to her seat five times and she declined. Stephanie Heizmann Auerbach was charged with interference of flight crew and members and was held at the Hiland Mountain Correctional Centre for women in Anchorage, Alaska. Charging documents from FBI agents’ interviews with crew and other passengers revealed the 47 year-old female drank five glasses of wine within 90 minutes of departure, then began pacing up and down the aisle, yelling profanities and climbing on seats. Upon landing, Anchorage police removed, detained and charged Auerbach, with reports claiming she was ‘physically combative’. Source = ETB News: P.T. Ms Auerbach owns a fashion company in Shanghai. Auerbach was issued a written ‘refusal of safety notice’ and after ignoring the pilot’s request to follow crew instructions, he diverted the flight to Anchorage. “The flight crew is in charge of the safety of the aircraft and the passengers on board, and they did what they thought was necessary in this case,” Delta spokeswoman Leslie Scott said.
Source = British Airways British Airways calls on Border ForceBritish Airways calls on Border Force to cut immigration delaysBritish Airways has called on the UK’s Border Force to tackle ‘serious inefficiencies’ that are causing British citizens and visitors to endure long queues and frustrating delays when arriving at UK airports.In a submission to the Home Office, the airline has raised concerns that families returning from holidays face long queues to pass through immigration. It also stated that with Brexit just round the corner, more than ever, the UK needs to show that it’s an easy place to travel to.When launching Terminal 5’s eGates in 2015, the Home Office said that: “Automated technology, such as eGates, give Border Force the ability to process a higher number of low risk passengers more quickly and using less resource. This reduces queue times as well as freeing Border Force officers up to focus on other priority work such as cracking down on the smuggling of dangerous goods and identiftying potential victims of trafficking.”Yet, routinely at Terminal 5 only one third of the 29 state of the art eGates are open. In addition, they are usually shut prematurely at 11pm while customers are still making their way off flights causing massive queues and frustrating delays.Ensuring as many of the eGates as possible are in use not only means faster passage for eligible travellers but it also eases waiting times for those customers not able to use the automated gates including those travelling with children under the age of 12.Ragbhir S Pattar, British Airways’ Director of Heathrow, said: “We recognise some of the steps being taken by Border Force to improve the service they provide to travellers. However more focus must be put on operating in the most efficient and flexible way and ensuring that passengers’ needs are put first.“It is a constant frustration to us and to our customers that after a long flight they have to stand in queues, sometimes for over an hour, just to get back into the country. And it is a dreadful welcome for visitors to the UK to be faced with a packed immigration hall and the prospect of a frustrating delay to the start of their holiday or business trip. It adds insult to injury when you’re stuck in a queue but can see numerous gates which just aren’t being used.“We wholeheartedly support the essential role the Border Force has to protect the UK but more must be done to prevent these unnecessary delays.” British Airwaysbook flights here
Riviera Travel announces two Europe river cruises solelyRiviera Travel announces two Europe river cruises solelyAll cabins are for solo occupancy with no single supplement – saving thousandsEuropean river cruise line, Riviera Travel, is helping solo travellers save thousands of dollars by announcing all cabins on two five-star river cruises this November are exclusively for solo passengers, with no single occupancy supplement.The success of the company’s previous solos-only cruise in France in 2016 has prompted Riviera Travel to offer two more – an eight-day Blue Danube cruise from Budapest on November 1, 2018, and an eight-day ‘Burgundy, River Rhone and Provence’ cruise in the south of France on November 6, 2018.Riviera Travel is already popular with solo travellers as a selection of cabins on every cruise every year are singled out for supplement-free solo occupancy. But on these two cruises in November, every one of the 88 cabins aboard its deluxe Danube river ship, Oscar Wilde, and each of the 74 cabins on the luxurious Lord Byron are for solo passengers only and free of any single supplement.Riviera Travel’s Head of Specialist Product, Will Sarson, said the two cruises were not singles or matchmaking cruises but journeys where lone travellers or friends who did not want to share a stateroom could enjoy a cabin on their own without paying a supplement.“We know solo travellers enjoy our river cruises and to encourage more to try them, we have launched two cruises exclusively for solo travellers,” Mr Sarson said. “Our five-star ships provide the perfect base and our itineraries offer opportunities to share wonderful experiences with like-minded travellers. The cruises have been planned for autumn 2018 when the destinations visited will be more relaxed. Customers can choose any cabin or suite on each ship and there will be no additional single supplement to pay whatsoever.”The first solos-only cruise is an eight-day ’Blue Danube’ cruise aboard the 169-passenger Oscar Wilde, launched in 2017, sailing round-trip from Budapest on November 1, 2018, to destinations in Hungary, Slovakia and Austria, including a side tour to romantic Salzburg. Fares are available from A$3119 for solo cabin use.The second solos departure is on November 6, 2018, when the 140-passenger Lord Byron, launched in 2013, sails from Lyon to Avignon on a ‘Burgundy, River Rhone and Provence’ cruise via Beaune on the Saone River, with a side excursion to the spectacular Ardeche Gorges and the spectacular, 2000-year-old Roman aqueduct of Pont du Gard. Fares are available from A$3529 for solo cabin use.Fares are subject to availability and include daily, guided excursions and all onboard meals and Wi-Fi.Offering inclusive, five-star cruises at fares up to 50 per cent lower than river companies more established in Australia, Riviera Travel’s 11 luxury river ships will offer more than 300 cruises across 12 different itineraries in Europe in 2018. Riviera Travel’s spacious, five-star ships offer fine dining restaurants, marble lobbies, sumptuous lounges, sun decks, splash pools, gyms and cabins boasting French or full balconies. The biggest river cruise operator in the UK market, Riviera Travel made its first foray into the growing Australian market in 2016.Bookings are available via Australian travel agents, Cruiseco, Cruise Traveller or visit www.rivieratravel.com.auSource = Riviera Travel
The Future of Travel Panel DiscussionBritish Airways’ chief executive Alex Cruz speaksThe Great Festival of Innovation is taking place in Hong Kong from 21 to 24 March 2018 to gather industry leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, educationalists, futurologists from around the world to share the latest thinking on innovation across industry, society and community. As a great supporter of and a believer in innovation, British Airways is honoured to be the festival’s airline partner, championing creative spirits in this special occasion.British Airways’ chief executive Alex Cruz participated in a panel discussion on the theme of “The Future of Travel”, alongside leaders from the transportation and aviation design industries, as well as scholars specialising in electronic, mobile and satellite communications. In the event, Cruz discussed how innovative solutions address growing issues in the aviation industry and redefine the way people travel. He also provided his point of view on what to expect in the not-too-distant future.International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox said: “I am delighted that British Airways are supporting the GREAT Festival of Innovation taking place in Hong Kong, the biggest British trade event in recent years. As one of the world’s leading airlines, British Airways represents Britain’s world class innovation in aviation.“As an international economic department, DIT is ensuring British businesses make the most of growing markets like Hong Kong and exporting their goods around the world. The festival will be a major showcase for the UK in Asia, and a shop window for the best of our creativity and innovation.” Dr Liam Fox added.Cruz said in the panel, “We pride ourselves on being a national flag carrier of the UK for nearly a century. However, we are not granted special immunity from the way the industry has changed. To stay true to our commitments in offering customers service excellence and becoming the airline of choice for everyone, we must keep up with industry developments and respond to changing customers’ needs. The fast-evolving technologies enable us to further innovate our business, empower our employees to unleash their full potential, and surprise our customers with creative solutions that offer them an even better travel experience, on the ground and in the air.“To speed up the innovation process, collaboration is crucial as these two processes work hand-in-hand. As a leader in the travel industry, British Airways works to curate an ecosystem in which people feel empowered and encouraged to share their innovative ideas that push the status quo through collaboration. Last year, British Airways sponsored TravelTech Hackathon in Hong Kong, which enabled the bright minds from around the globe to connect with travel industry leaders and develop new products and services that could go on to improve the end to end customer travel experience.” Cruz added.Innovation is in the British Airways’ DNA. Last year, the airline collaborated with different partners to roll out numerous innovative measures to optimise various stages of the travel journey for customers.Biometric boarding gatesTo enhance and speed up the boarding process, British Airways worked in partnership with Los Angeles Airport to become the first airline to trial self-service biometric boarding gates on international flights out of the USA.Remote controlled MototokTo maintain and further improve punctuality for customers, the carrier partnered up with Heathrow to become the first airline worldwide to introduce high-tech remote controlled devices to push back aircraft across short-haul operation.Renewable jet fuelsAs a national carrier, British Airways sees it the company’s responsibility to help the industry reduce its carbon emission to fight climate change. Last September, the airline entered a partnership with Velocys, a renewable fuels company, to design a series of waste plants that convert household waste into renewable jet fuel to power its fleet. This contributed to our commitment to reduce net emissions by 50 per cent by 2050.Cruz said, “To continue the legacy of being a disruptor in the industry, we will continue to invest in research and development to transform the airline with innovations and technology and would work even more closely with partners to unlock opportunities that will turn British Airways into a smarter, leaner and faster airline.” Cruz said.British Airways is investing £4.5 billion for its customers over the next five years, covering the installation of the best quality Wi-Fi and power in every seat, fitting 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors and taking delivery of 72 new aircraft. The airline is also investing £600 million specifically in its Club World business class, where in addition to the new catering and luxurious White Company bedding, a new seat with direct aisle access will also be introduced in 2019. This year, British Airways will start services on six new routes including Seychelles from March and Nashville from May. For more information, please visit ba.com.Source = British Airways
Wyndham Expands Indonesian PortfolioWyndham Expands Indonesian Portfolio with Opening of Lombok ResortIn a show of confidence in the long-term viability of Lombok’s tourism industry, a brand new upscale resort – Wyndham Sundancer Resort Lombok – has opened its doors on the spectacular island.Wyndham Sundancer Lombok is an all-suite resort, offering one and two-bedroom suites, each with complimentary Wi-Fi, air conditioning, kitchen facilities and generous bathroom with shower and oversized bath.All rooms at the resort have large balconies and the ocean view suites offer breathtaking views of Lombok Straits and the spectacular Southern Gili Islands. Wyndham Sundancer Lombok is located on the doorstep of the Southern Gilis, a collection of 13 beautiful islands perfect for diving and snorkelling, with pristine white sand, crystal clear water and amazing reefs featuring arguably some of the best preserved coral in Indonesia. Guests can take advantage of a large lagoon-style pool with swim-up bar, three dining options, a day spa and wellness centre with its own juice bar, and an onsite dive centre to book diving excursions.Food and beverage options include the all-day dining Sunrise Café and Sundancer Beach Club, along with the à la carte dinner restaurant, The Bukit, while guests can also get cocktails by the pool from the swim-up pool bar or pick up a healthy juice after a massage at the spa’s juice bar. The Bukit can be converted to a 200 square metre events space that is well-suited to events of up to 150 people or weddings with 100 seated guests.As Lombok’s economy recovers from a series of earthquakes in July and August, the opening of a new five-star resort is a clear signal that the island continues to be seen as a world-class destination by global hospitality powerhouses.“Lombok is a wonderful destination – recent relief efforts perfectly demonstrate the warmth and kindness of the Indonesian people – and I have no doubt it will make a total recovery,” said Mr Joon Aun Ooi, President and Managing Director, South East Asia and Pacific Rim, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts“On behalf of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, I would like to express our heartfelt thoughts for the affected communities. Tourism continues to be extremely important to the local economy so it is vital that travellers return as soon as possible. Vast parts of the island, including the south where Wyndham Sundancer Lombok is located, are completely unaffected. We have full confidence in the future of this exquisite destination and I am sure that our new resort will help attract more international visitors to Lombok in the future,” added Mr Ooi.International airlines offer direct routes from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to Lombok’s airport, which is located 60 minutes from the resort.For a limited time during its soft-opening phase, Wyndham Sundancer Resort Lombok is offering an opening special with 40 per cent off Best Available Rates. Book at www.wyndhamhotels.comThe resort is managed by PT. Wyndham Hotel Management, an Indonesian subsidiary of Wyndham Destinations, under a license agreement from Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.“Lombok has been gaining international acclaim as an emerging adventure destination for years and the recovery of its tourism industry is already well underway. Travellers come to visit its spectacular beaches, temperate waters, snorkelling and dive sites and challenging surfing breaks. To many visitors, it is a must-visit new destination to sample alongside regular favourites like Bali,” said Barry Robinson, President and Managing Director, International Operations, Wyndham Vacation Clubs. “We are proud to welcome international travellers to this resort and provide local people with the opportunity to work at this beautiful location on the island’s south west coast.”Following the separation of Wyndham Worldwide into two independent companies, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has named Wyndham Destinations and its Indonesian subsidiary, PT Wyndham Hotel Management, as its preferred property manager in Indonesia.Under this partnership, PT Wyndham Hotel Management will provide management services to nine hotels and resorts across Indonesia under the Wyndham, Wyndham Garden, Ramada by Wyndham and Days Inn by Wyndham brands.All Wyndham hotels participate in Wyndham Rewards, the simple-to-use, revolutionary loyalty program from Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. Named a best hotel rewards program for the past three consecutive years by U.S. News and World Report, Wyndham Rewards® offers members a generous points earning structure along with a flat, free night redemption rate—the first of its kind for a major rewards program. Members earn a guaranteed 1,000 points for every qualified stay and, through a long-term partnership with Wyndham Destinations, can redeem for a free night at any of more than 25,000 hotels, condos or homes around the world for just 15,000 points per room per night. Join for free today at www.wyndhamrewards.comSource = Wyndham Sundancer Resort Lombok
Source = Hong Kong Tourism Board Hong Kong hits the markHong Kong hits the mark with Aussie Travellers in 2018The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has announced the full-year visitor arrival figures from January to December 2018, with overall overnight arrivals hitting 29.26 million, up 4.9 percent from the same period in 2017.Overnight visitors from Australia increased by 2.4 percent, with 443,000 Aussies choosing Hong Kong as their holiday destination in 2018.The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) Regional Director – Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Andrew Clark said that HKTB attributes this increase to the growth in air capacity and competitive prices, following the debut of Virgin Australia’s Sydney to Hong Kong route in July, combined with the implementation of the tourism board’s neighbourhood and great outdoor campaigns.“The addition of Virgin’s new route has no-doubt meant that consumers have benefited from very competitive flight prices to Hong Kong across all airline carriers. This has resulted in some of the lowest prices we have ever seen to-date. Who could refuse a full-service flight for less than A$500 return?” said Mr Clark.“From our market research we have also found that 58 percent of Aussie visitors to Hong Kong are repeaters, so they are looking to peel back a few more layers of the destination and we believe that our neighbourhood; great outdoors; and wine and dine campaigns has provided this insight and thus inspired them to return once again. We look forward to building on this further in 2019,” he said.Total visitor arrivals to Hong Kong in 2018 neared 65.15 million, an increase of 11.4. percent year on year.
Jet Airways announced a 7-day fare sale, for travellers planning their international travel this winter season. With winter season witnessing a strong demand for air travel, the airline is offering a discount of up to 30% to traveller enabling them to enjoy substantial savings.Gaurang Shetty, Director, Jet Airways, said, “This sale offers a great opportunity for guests in India to take advantage of these attractive fares and the upcoming holiday season to create exciting getaways with their loved ones and family members.”Travellers can choose their favourites from amongst winter hotspots such as Amsterdam, London, Paris, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. Travellers can also choose to travel via Jet Airways’ direct flights to 11 destinations in the Gulf including Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Muscat, Riyadh, Sharjah, besides Colombo, Kathmandu and Dhaka.Jet Airways will be offering the discounted fares on the prevailing lowest base fare. The seven-day fare sale – from December 05 to 11, 2017, will be valid for international travel commencing from January 15, 2018, onwards. Valid for travel on Jet Airways direct flights on its international network, the special fares are offered on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Turismo de Portugal (TdP) conducted successful roadshows combined with B2B sessions, recently in New Delhi and Mumbai.The aim of the roadshow was to educate and motivate the focused invitee list of preferred travel agents, tour operators and trade partners and update their knowledge about Portugal, the products it has to offer, USP’s of the destination, exchange rate, visas and how it caters to different segments of the Indian travellers.The event was divided into two different sessions — one was the focused B2B sessions where the invitees held business meetings with the Portugal DMCs. The DMCs and their top management attended the roadshow; including Ricardo Ferreira, Head of Incoming and MICE, Osíris; Tânia Dias, Director of Sales, Tours for You and Naresh Chandnani of Representation Serene Experiences; and Bruno Canhoto, Commercial Manager, Top Atlântico. They discussed the itineraries ideal for the Indian market, pricing, how to build a Portugal program and several ways to include Portugal in the Indian travellers’ leisure or MICE plans.The B2B session was followed by Filipe Silva, Member of Board of Directors, Turismo de Portugal, addressing the agents and sharing a presentation on Portugal. He spoke about the various aspects of the destination including outdoor activities, the safe and friendly environment of Portugal, beaches and the bay area, festivals, shopping and nightlife of Portugal. The other delegates from Turismo de Portugal (TdP) attending the Roadshow were Miguel Moraes, Head of Trade Marketing and Paulo Palhota, Trade Relations.The tourism revenue of Portugal in 2017 was EUR 15 billion (against EUR 12.7 billion in 2016), the number of bed nights grew 7.4% to 57 million (53,5 in 2016) and the number of guests grew 8.9% to 20.6 million (19.1 in 2016).“The revenue from India grew 25% in 2017 for a total of nearly EUR 15 million (EUR 11.8 million in 2016), the number of bed nights grew 18.8% to 91.866 (77.347 in 2016) and the number of Indian guests grew 11.9% to 34.606 (30.923 in 2016). However, our main wish is still for Indian travellers to have a good time in our country, to enjoy our landscape, our monuments, our food, our wine, our traditional song fado and all the unique experiences our country has to offer,” said Silva.The New Delhi roadshow was attended by Diogo Rocha, Business Attaché, Embassy of Portugal in India. Capt. Somesh Batra, Consul of Portugal, Mumbai was present during the Mumbai roadshow.
Affordable Housing Strategy Single-Family Rental Urban Institute 2015-09-28 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News, Secondary Market September 28, 2015 419 Views Single-Family Rentals Should be Part of Affordable Housing Strategy, Report Says The past decade has seen costs for homeowners decline, yet costs for renters have increased. Today, about 11 million families (nearly one-quarter) of families who rent spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent.Approximately 59 percent of households formed in the 20-year period between 2010 and 2030 will be renters; the increasing demand will stress low vacancy rates and increase rents even further. In a report titled “Single-Family Rentals: A New Approach to Affordable Housing” by Center Creek Capital founder Dan Magder and Urban Institute Director of Housing Finance Policy Laurie Goodman released Monday, the authors say SFR should be considered by policymakers as an integral part an affordable housing strategy because of volume, location, neighborhood impact, and affordability.Many people are unaware of the volume of SFR units scattered throughout the country, according to the report; about 14.9 million scattered-site SFR units are spread throughout the country, comprising about 35 percent of all rental housing units. The report cautions that while the press coverage surrounding institutional investors gives the impression that they are taking over the SFR space, only about 2 percent (about 300,000 units) of the existing SFR housing stock is owned by institutional investors.”…the crises created a supply of well-located single-family houses that could, with the appropriate financing tools, be turned into family-friendly affordable rentals.”The location of most SFRs is another reason why policymakers should consider SFR as a viable affordable housing strategy, according to the report. Many SFR units are close to downtown, on bus lines or other transit routes, established suburbs, or overall more apt to be located in central cities than single-family owner-occupied homes (34 percent compared to 23 percent, according to American Housing Survey data).”As affordable housing advocates focus on preserving existing units, single-family rentals should be recognized as an effective tool for reclaiming some of the tremendous stock of well-located formerly owner-occupied housing, thus contributing to the overall stock of affordable housing in America,” Magder and Goodman wrote.SFRs typically have a positive effect on neighborhoods because renovating them helps to preserve the housing stock and stabilize neighborhoods. SFR investors try to buy as many properties in as concentrated of an area as possible to as to make it easier to renovate and service the properties.”Single-family rentals by themselves cannot transform a blighted area, but every house bought and renovated by a responsible SFR investor creates a recently restored property with a well-kept exterior that helps anchor and stabilize that neighborhood,” Magder and Goodman said. “Even for-profit investors generally recognize the need to thoroughly renovate when they acquire the property; it saves costs downstream and increases curb appeal so investors can attract tenants and reduce vacancy costs.”Fourth, not only are SFR units affordable, but they provide value—more living space for the money compared to multi-family units, according to the report. For example, recent data from American Housing Survey showed that the average SFR unit is 1,363 square feet at a monthly cost of $974, while the average rental is $974 square feet at a monthly cost of $850. Much of the nation’s SFR inventory is located in solid low-to-moderate income neighborhoods.”The recent financial and housing crises have resulted in significantly increased demand for rental housing and a resulting increase in rents,” Magder and Goodman concluded. “Affordable rentals for families are in particularly short supply. At the same time, the crises created a supply of well-located single-family houses that could, with the appropriate financing tools, be turned into family-friendly affordable rentals.”Click here to read the entire report. Share
Share October 9, 2015 761 Views The Low Down on the CFPB’s Marketing Service Agreements Bulletin: The Agency Gave the Industry What it Wanted…No Surprises Here All firms in the mortgage finance space–from lenders, servicers, title companies and appraisers–are officially ‘on notice.’ Kerri Panchuk, executive director, Membership Groups at The Five Star Institute breaks down the marketing services agreements bulletin released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Thursday, which provides guidance on what constitutes a mortgage kickback or referral fee when setting up marketing services agreements.In case you missed it, the agency tried to bright line the rule, so lawyer-types are unable to argue that expectations remain too difficult to understand due to some of the gray areas around enforcement.But is this big news to the industry? Not really. They were more frightened before when there was less clarity on this front, attorneys experienced in dealing with the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) say.In fact, the CFPB’s guidelines arrived after mortgage professionals and end-of-transaction service providers found themselves scratching their heads due to some of the inconsistencies in enforcement actions.“I’m not surprised on the bulletin,” noted Marx Sterbcow with the Sterbcow Law Group out of Louisiana. Sterbcow has significant expertise in the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act–the overarching rule that outlines expectations for handling marketing services agreements. “The industry has been pushing for it and Congress pushed the issue which is why the CFPB released the bulletin,” he noted.And the industry has a good reason to find CFPB oversight on the issue a bit nebulous, Sterbcow suggested in an email to MReport.“The industry has been confused because the CFPB has entered into enforcement action settlements with some companies while at the same time they let others off for their MSAs, which caused a lot of confusion based on their public comments about MSAs,” Sterbcow explained.Kerri Panchuk, executive director, Membership Groups at The Five Star InstituteYet, the CFPB’s bulletin also makes it clear that confusion is no excuse for lack of follow-through–which is why the CFPB elaborated on marketing agreements in its release on Thursday, noting that “while marketing services agreements are usually framed as payments for advertising or promotional services, in some cases the payments are actually disguised compensation for referrals. Any agreement that entails exchanging a thing of value for referrals of settlement service business likely violates federal law, regardless of whether a marketing services agreement is part of the transaction,” the agency said.To turn this into a simpler rule, Sterbcow summed up the guidelines saying, “MSAs must be designed to mass market to the general public. If the MSA does not do that then it is problematic in the CFPB’s eyes.”Need an example? Sterbcow pointed to the class action lawsuit certified against a team of real estate agents operating as The Creig Northrop Team. This independent group of agents were accused in a suit of receiving a half million dollars in kickbacks from a title insurance company for referrals. The referrals were disguised using a sham employment arrangement and a marketing agreement between the two firms.One of the members of the Northrop Team allegedly received payments from Lakeview Title, a title firm, even though he performed no actual work for the firm.This case highlights the risks, Sterbcow noted on Thursday.The CFPB went on to outline some of the violations it found, which resulted in enforcement actions related to kickbacks and referral fees.One such example was a title insurance company that entered into a marketing services agreement where fees were based on the number of referrals the firm received. Another settlement service company did not disclose that it had an affiliate relationship with an appraisal management company and failed to inform the consumers that they had the option of shopping for servicers before sending them directly to the affiliate.With $75 million in penalties to date, the takeaway is clear: All affiliate relationships need to be subjected to due diligence and with the guidelines out, the CFPB may be less likely to allow anything to slide at this point. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Marketing Service Agreements Mortgage Finance 2015-10-09 Kerri Panchuk in Commentary, Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News
March 27, 2017 565 Views Lender Optimism High, Profits Low Share Lenders are looking at the future of home prices with optimism, according to Fannie Mae’s Q4 2017 Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey. Data from the survey shows that lenders see the economy heading in the right direction, and could reach its highest levels since the survey’s inception in Q1 2014.Despite the positive outlook, however, demand for purchase mortgages fell slightly below expectations, attributed to unfavorable mortgage rates. Purchase mortgage demands for Q1 2017 were at their lowest first-quarter level since Q1 2014.Profit margins are up slightly from Q4 2016, but still below this time last year and the year before. Lenders’ profit margin outlook rose slightly from its three-year low last quarter, Q4 2016, though it is still les positive than this time last year. Fannie Mae reports that larger institutions will most likely expect a decrease in profit margin outlook this quarter.Fannie Mae’s survey respondents point to competition from other lenders and market trend changes, such as a shift from refinance to purchases, as top reasons for profit margin changes. However, respondents point to government regulatory compliance, a historically top reason for lenders’ decreased profit outlooks, as a lesser reason.“This quarter, lenders’ optimism toward the overall economy and home price appreciation hit survey highs, mirroring the consumer confidence seen in our February Home Price Sentiment Index,” said Doug Duncan, SVP and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae. “However, lenders’ profit margin outlook remains significantly less positive than this time last year and two years ago. Lenders cite competition from other lenders and a market shift from refinance to purchase–both of which reached survey highs–as the top reasons for the weak profit margin outlook. With mortgage rates expected to rise, we expect refinance activity will fall and purchase affordability will tighten, increasing competitive pressure in a shrinking mortgage market. Lenders may choose to adjust their production capabilities and staff resources given their profitability outlook.”Read the full results from Fannie Mae’s survey here. Fannie Mae Mortgages Profits 2017-03-27 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, News, Origination, Servicing
Share December 12, 2017 677 Views Bitcoin has hit the “mania” phase—with some people reportedly borrowing money to buy into the new craze. In an interview with Joseph Borg, President of the North American Securities Administrators Association, he told CNBC, “We’ve seen mortgages being taken out to buy bitcoin.”Innovation in technology always outruns regulations: Joseph Borg from CNBC. in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Bitcoin: Homeowners Take Out Mortgages to Buy in bitcoin HOUSING mortgage 2017-12-12 Nicole Casperson
in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has made significant changes to the longstanding tax benefits of homeowners with the cap on borrowing being reduced from $1 million to $750,000, while deductions for state and local taxes, including property taxes, have been capped at $10,000. According to a study by ApartmentList.com, these changes will hit some of the most expensive housing markets the hardest.The study looked at county-level home values across the U.S. and analyzed the impact to owners with home values below, at, and above the median price of their local markets. Based on this data, the study found that in markets such as California, Washington, and New York owners of the county’s least expensive homes could also lose deductions under the new law. These coastal markets with a combination of high property values and high local tax rates had the most to lose.However, the study pointed out that in the near-term, homeowners who lose housing tax benefits were not necessarily worse off. “Because of the higher standard deduction, some of the households that lose homeowner benefits will still see a reduction in their overall tax bill. For these households, the biggest implication for the housing market is a shifting of incentives away from homeownership,” the study noted.Homeowners in San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oxnard, and San Diego—all cities in California would be the hardest-hit, suffering the first-year loss in housing tax deductions between $3,600 and $5,400 depending upon the median value of their home. Over a 30-year period (which is the average period for a mortgage), the study found that these homeowners stood to lose between $48,000 and $114,000.Interestingly, of the 10 hardest hit metros in losing housing tax deductions, four were in the Northeast and included Bridgeport, Connecticut; Boston, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; and New York, New York. The only other state that featured on the list was Honolulu, Hawaii that came sixth on this list.Though not as badly hit as their Californian counterparts, the study found that homeowners in these Northeastern cities could suffer a first-year loss of housing tax deductions between $1,500 and $1,700. Over a 30-year mortgage period, these losses would amount to anything between $19,000 and $39,000.To read the complete study, click here. March 7, 2018 736 Views Taxing Times for Hot Markets Home Values homeowners HOUSING Housing Tax Benefits Housing Tax Deduction Median Values mortgage Standard Deduction Taxes 2018-03-07 Radhika Ojha Share
Buyers Fannie Mae Home homeowners HOUSING HPSI Inventory mortgage Purchase Sellers 2018-05-07 Radhika Ojha Inventory and affordability squeeze aside, consumer sentiment about the housing market rose in April going into the home buying season, according to the latest Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) on Monday. The HPSI rose 3.4 points in April to 91.7 marking a new all-time high, Fannie Mae said.Out of the six components that make up the survey, only one—the number of respondents who said that now is a good time to buy a home—decreased, falling three percentage points to 29 percent, compared with March. On the other hand, the net share of respondents who said that now was a good time to sell a home increased 6 percentage points on a month-over-month basis, to 45 percent, reaching a new survey high, the report said.Homebuyer sentiment was likely affected by the lack of for-sale inventory as well as rising home prices, that are likely to remain a challenge for home sales for the rest of the year too, according to Doug Duncan, SVP and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae. “High home prices and good economic conditions helped push the share of Americans who think it’s a good time to sell to a fresh record high,” said Duncan. “However, the upward trend in the good-time-to-sell share seen since last spring has done little to release more for-sale inventory. The tightest supply in decades, combined with rising mortgage rates from historically low levels, will likely remain a hurdle for mobility and a persistent headwind for home sales.”According to the HPSI, the net share of respondents who said that home prices would go up in the next 12 months increased 7 percentage points to 49 percent in April, while the net share of consumers who said mortgage rates would fall over the next 12 months increased 4 percentage points during the month to 48 percent.The factors that spurred these positive sentiments among consumers included an increased sense of job security and a higher share of Americans reporting that their income was significantly higher than it was 12 months ago.“The latest HPSI reading edged up to a new survey high, showing that consumer attitudes remain resilient going into the spring/summer home buying season,” Duncan said. May 7, 2018 556 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News Homeowners Are Bullish About Housing—Buyers Not So Much Share