Travellers can try their luck with Sunwings 70 off promotion

first_img Monday, November 14, 2016 Travellers can try their luck with Sunwing’s 70% off promotion TORONTO – Feeling lucky? Sunwing’s latest promotion is making a winner out of a select number of travellers with savings of up to 70% off on all-inclusive vacations.With the Lucky Deals promotion, travellers simply select their ideal destination and choice of minimum hotel star rating to kick off the vacation countdown. Seven days prior to their departure, the tour operator will reveal which featured top-rated resort the client will be staying at.A wide range of four- and five-star resorts in Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are included in the sale. Top-rated hotel brands include Paradisus, Royalton, RIU and Secrets, among others. Clients can specify which resort destination and star rating they prefer as they book. Plus, they can view the full listing of participating resorts in this offer before they choose their destination and star rating combination. Lucky travellers accommodated in a top-rated resort will save up to 70%, depending on which of the featured hotels is their revealed resort.More news:  Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoThere are only a limited number of Lucky Deals available during this promotion. All packages offered as part of the Lucky Deals promotion also include return flights on Sunwing Airlines. Travelweek Group Posted by Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Amex GBT announces acquisition of Hogg Robinson Group

first_img LONDON — American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) has announced that it will acquire Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) PLC, a global B2B services company specializing in travel management.The deal is a recommended all-cash acquisition of the entire issued, and to be issued, ordinary share capital. It is conditioned on receipt of antitrust and other regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.“The complementary geographical footprints of each company will improve the global scale and reach of our business, enabling us to achieve efficiencies across a best-in-class platform and accelerate growth. The technology roadmaps of each business provide a powerful platform from which to drive future innovation. We will deliver a superior client and traveller experience through fully-integrated travel management solutions, including booking and expense management products,” said Doug Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, American Express GBT.Added David Radcliffe, Chief Executive Officer, HRG: “This transaction represents a good deal for shareholders and stakeholders. I am particularly excited and heartened by American Express GBT’s reassurance that it will be utilising the best talent and technology from within both organisations to create a truly world-class, leading-edge organisation, which will bring benefits to our clients, colleagues and supplier partners alike.”More news:  Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is backBoth American Express GBT and HRG have made significant investments in people and technology in recent years. The combined group will offer clients and travellers a more comprehensive range of travel management products and services. The acquisition is expected to:Accelerate growth by utilising complementary footprints and solutions to provide additional benefits to clientsCreate the ability to combine two advanced travel technology and development platforms to create better products and services to serve clients and travellersDeliver synergies through cost savings and scale benefits; andLeverage each company’s existing infrastructure and technology capabilities to maximise efficiencies across the business Travelweek Group Friday, February 9, 2018 Tags: American Express Global Business Travel Posted bycenter_img Share Amex GBT announces acquisition of Hogg Robinson Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

DR posts big tourism numbers across the board including record number of

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Share DR posts big tourism numbers across the board, including record number of Canadians TORONTO — The Dominican Republic saw a high number of tourist arrivals in 2017, with Canadians contributing an impressive 837,104 tourists.According to the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism, total tourism arrivals steadily increased by 3.9% from January to December, reaching a total of 6.8 million international visitors. This number increased by 272,901 more visitors to the DR than the year before. Meanwhile, North American tourists saw an uptick of 2.6% for an additional 77,257.Air arrivals increased by 4% compared to 2016, with July and December as peak months, with Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) handing over 59% of the total non-resident air arrivals.Arrivals to the DR by cruise ships increased by 37% in 2017 compared to 2016, representing over 1.5 million visitors. The construction of a second cruise port at Puerto Plata City was announced in December by President Danilo Medina, who also noted major works to the Amber Cove Cruise Ship Port in Maimón and La Puntilla Park in Puerto Plata.More news:  TRAVELSAVERS welcomes Julie Virgilio to the teamThe average hotel occupancy rate in the DR for 2017 was 77.1%, a slight decrease from the 78% rate in 2016, which can be attributed to a higher inventory of rooms. The properties with the highest occupancy rates were: Punta Cana – Bávaro (82.8%), Romana – Bayahibe (82%), and Chica – Juan Dolio (71.4%). The destinations with the highest occupancy rates were: Samaná (67.6%), Santo Domingo (62.4%), and Santiago (56.9%).According to President Medina, tourism growth will continue in 2018 with an expected 6% increase. To accommodate the increase in demand, a new tourist port in Luperón, Puerto Plata will be built, plus major road renovations are in store, specifically to the East Region Road Circuit, which contributes to nearly 80% of all tourism income.New hotels and hotel renovations in the DR include the Hodelpa Emotions hotel, previously Heavens Playa Dorada, a 475-room property with 12 restaurants and bars and four pools, and the recently updated Excellence Punta Cana, which reopened after an extensive four-month, US$45 million renovation that saw the addition of 20 suites with pools, two pools, pool bars and a gourmet restaurant.More news:  A new low for no-frills flying: easyJet assigns backless seat to passengerAlso notable is the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana, one of the region’s newest adults-only beach resorts and part of the Royalton Luxury Resorts chain. Travelweek Group center_img Posted by Tags: Dominican Republic Monday, February 12, 2018 last_img read more

Major retail groups talk expansion with small to midsize agencies in mind

first_imgMajor retail groups talk expansion with small to mid-size agencies in mind This story originally ran in the March 7, 2019 issue of Travelweek magazine. To get Travelweek delivered to your agency for free, subscribe here.TORONTO — Are the big players interested in buying smaller agencies? Well, it depends on who you ask.While some agency owners might be convinced that their book of business is too small to attract the attention of a major retail group, at least a few of those groups beg to differ.In this second installment of Travelweek’s 5-part series, we talked to high-profile retail organizations about how small-to-mid-size agencies fit into their expansion strategies.Vision Travel Solutions is very much in growth mode and while it’s made headlines recently for bigger acquisitions, it’s interested in smaller agencies as well, says Vision President Brian Robertson.“We are able customize the opportunities and ensure that all of the staff or independent travel advisors feel comfortable with Vision Travel. Whether they become a host agency or we acquire them, we are always looking for great travel agencies that fit with our culture and specifically our personalized approach to travel,” says Robertson.Asked if Vision has seen an increase in the number of inquiries from agencies looking to sell, Robertson says: “Yes we have. And what is interesting is that many of the principals want to stay involved – which is not always what you might expect.  They really want to stay in travel but not deal with the day-to-day management of the business. Many of the owners and managers of these organizations also have unique skills and experience that they can bring to make them and our company more successful moving forward.”Robertson adds: “Regardless of our size, we believe that we need to remain accessible to our clients and flexible to their needs. Our team understands and embraces that concept and it has been the key to our success. We are not looking to dismantle the companies we acquire, we are looking to give them more tools and support to be more successful.”More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesUNIGLOBE Travel is also growing, and small to mid-size agencies “are absolutely of interest to UNIGLOBE as we are looking to expand our network of offices,” says Regional Vice President, Eastern Canada, Joel Kopstick.Unlike the old days when it would sell a franchise and an agency would open up from scratch, over the past dozen years or so UNIGLOBE’s growth has come from existing agencies in the marketplace affiliating with UNIGLOBE under its Partner Agency Program.Kopstick says he hasn’t seen an increase in the number of agencies who want to sell. “Mind you, as a Region, we are not in the business of acquiring agencies. That being said, a number of our franchisees and partner agencies would be very interested in purchasing quality agencies, particularly those with some corporate business.”Maritime Travel meanwhile has doubled its size through acquisitions over the past 10 years. The company currently has about 115 agencies with a 50/50 split between Atlantic Canada and the rest of the country. “Our main expansion has been in B.C., Alberta and Ontario however we will look at and have purchased branches in other provinces,” says Gary Gaudry, President, Maritime Travel.“We will look at any type of agency – big or small, leisure or corporate,” says Gaudry. “Most of our growth in the past few years has come from purchasing ‘Mom and Pop’ agencies. These one-off agencies vary in size and for the most part are between $1 million and $5 million in sales. But we have purchased the odd agency with sales higher and lower than this.”More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesOne agency owner who sold to Maritime Travel, Isabella Beane in B.C., says the decision to sell was the right one for her. Beane opened Port Moody Travel in 1988 and operated it as an independent agency until July 2015 when she sold the agency to Maritime Travel with the view to retiring.  “The Maritime move was a great move for my agency, they promote a strong feeling of family within the organization and provide us with all the tools to work effectively for our clients.”Selling her agency after so many years was a very emotional experience but the process was seamless and an easy transition, she adds.Gaudry says he believes “some of the old ‘buying’ agencies have changed the size of the agencies they are willing to buy. Once a company gets purchased by a global company, the size of the agencies they would like to buy does increase dramatically.”Maritime Travel gets approached by five to 10 agencies per year, he added. The company has made about 50 purchases over the last five to seven years.Travelweek’s 5-part special series looks at the options available particularly to owners of small to mid-size agencies with annual sales of up to $3 million or so, who may be looking to sell, or downsize their responsibilities, while remaining in the industry. Click here for Part 1. Travelweek Group Tuesday, March 12, 2019 Sharecenter_img Tags: Feature Story, UNIGLOBE, Vision Travel Solutions Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Work to begin on new road to Costa Ricas Monteverde cloud forest

first_imgCrews from Costa Rica’s Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) and the National Roadway Council (CONAVI) this week began the first stage of construction on a new road to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (Route 166), one of Costa Rica’s favorite tourist destinations in the Tilarán Mountains of Puntarenas.The project was granted in a public bid to construction company RAASA, which has begun moving machinery into the area. Workers now will expand drainage and sewer systems and improve the current gravel road.The cost of first-phase construction is ₡1 billion ($2 million), MOPT said.Work also will begin on a stretch of road between the communities of Guacimal and Santa Elena, which during the rainy season months of May to November becomes difficult for non-four-wheel-drive vehicles.CONAVI also is defining a schedule for second-phase construction, which consists of replacing the 18-kilometer gravel road with asphalt.Total investment in the project is ₡8 billion ($16 million), Public Works and Transport Minister Pedro Castro said last February, when MOPT submitted the project for approval to the Comptroller General’s Office.The current gravel road to Monteverde, in north-central Costa Rica, is narrow and difficult to transit because original Quaker founders from Alabama have fought to keep it that way to limit the number of visitors.Earlier this year, CONAVI crews expanded the road to a width of 9 meters and fixed the damaged gravel surface following the Nicoya earthquake last year.Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is the area’s most prominent landmark consisting of 10,500 hectares of tropical rain and cloud forests that attract 75,000 tourists a year, a figure that can be improved with a better road, local business owners say. Facebook Comments Related posts:Residents demand new, better road to Monteverde Road to Monteverde to be paved New road to Monteverde bogged down by delays, red tape Monteverde residents demanding a new road slow traffic on Inter-American Highwaylast_img read more

If you brew it they will come

first_imgRelated posts:Santas invade rural Costa Rica Room2Board gives hostels a good name Perro Vida celebrates first year of craft brewing Gone fishing, in style: The Zancudo Lodge ups its game Peering at the monitor, beer in hand, all Zach Boyd can see is a small cottage, a pick up truck and clusters of trees. He is playing the game GeoGuessr, which shows players a street view image from Google Maps, then has them guess its location. Boyd and the other owners of Brewha Costa Rica in the Orosi Valley play it often.In this scene, the truck is a Ford, the trees are pines and Boyd is certain the location is in the northern U.S. When he notices road sign with kilometers, that’s it.“Canada,” he says, dropping a pin in the middle of the country. The game draws a line between his dot and the actual location. Amazingly, he’s come within 200 miles of the place.It was impressive. But glancing around at the books on the hostel’s shelves and the travel relics on the walls, it’s not all that surprising. Brewha owners Jackie Weintraub and Zach Boyd stand with their dog Charlie who they adopted when they lived in South Korea. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesBoyd is from Portland and his girlfriend Jaclyn Weintraub from Toronto. They met while studying abroad at the University of Amsterdam, and traveled together all over Europe and later moved to South Korea to teach English.“Ever since we have known each other, we have been travel buddies,” Weintraub said.The pair joined up with another travel buddy, Peter Miller, and bought Brewha, hoping to use their combined hostel knowledge to create the ultimate backpacker experience. With Miller back in the U.S., Weintraub and Boyd now run the daily operations, and they do so in a way that is all their own. Perched on the side of a cliff, Brewha has spectacular views of the Orosi Valley below. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesOn a cliff overlooking the lush Orosi Valley, Brewha boasts killer views of the nearby El Salto waterfall and Ujarras ruins. Hammocks dangle and bamboo lookout platforms perch beneath a blue flag emblazoned with the Brewha logo, which features a tapir inscribed in a bottle cap (Weintraub thinks the sloth gets too much attention).The building looks more like a young boy’s dream treehouse than a hostel, a style supported by its owners’ constant stream of projects.“Zach is a little bit ADD, so we like to call him the idea machine,” Weintraub said.A potato gun, a sling shot and a trebuchet (a type of catapult) are on Boyd’s list for future projects. The hostel is also planning less violent improvements, Weintraub said. The outside of Brewha’s two private suites. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico TimesThe duo excels at the crafts one usually only finds on Pinterest. Fueled in part by a weekly craft idea email from Boyd’s mother, they are constantly improving on the mountainside home. An outdoor shower, new bamboo decks, a sun-warmed hot tub and a floor entirely covered in colones are among current projects, while hand tie-dyed sheets and sign poles featuring the names of guest’s hometowns have already been completed.Like many hotel owners in Costa Rica, Brewha’s wanted to feature the country’s animals on its walls. But instead of your typical jungle scene, Weintraub sprinkled pop-culture references into her murals, creating a superman sloth and a Ché Guevara parrot, among others. Brewha’s four animal and pop culture fused murals. Lindsay Fendt/The Tico Times“Even if I was living in a crappy basement apartment in Toronto, I would still probably be painting murals,” Weintraub said. “We do it because it’s nice, but we also do it because we want to. That’s just our personalities.”As their hostel’s name would suggest, Brewha’s owners have a strong commitment to having a good time, and also to beer.Before heading back to the states, Miller started a home brewing tradition at the hostel. Even in his absence, Boyd continues to serve up the hostels signature beers. Treefrog Jefe, Tapir Beer and Ziggy Kitty IPA are just a few of the brews that frequent the beer whiteboard.When not hanging out at the hostel, the Brewha crew makes the most of the surrounding area. The nearest town, Paraíso, doesn’t have much of a bar scene, but Brewha’s owners won’t shy away from a night on the town (as evidenced by the hostel’s recent Santacon). If the outdoors are more your speed, Weintraub is quick to pick up a machete on a trek out to the nearby waterfall or down to the Ujarras church ruins.The point of doing things with their guests, Weintraub said, is to be sure they have a good time.Meanwhile, she and Boyd seem to have a good time doing just about everything, whether it’s lounging in a hammock with a good book, hanging out over beers, or drunkenly slingshotting projectiles off a balcony. “We live here,” she said. “We don’t want to be bored either.”Going there: Brewha gives detailed directions on the website along with a video tutorial, but the hostel is located about two hours from San José. Take the Inter-American highway east from San José towards Cartago, from there follow signs to Paraíso. Brewha is located off a dirt road after the Mirador de Ujarras.Rooms range from $12 a night for a dorm bed to $45 for a private room with a private bathroom. Breakfast is included. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Obama US will make immigration more fair and just

first_imgRelated posts:Immigrants find themselves torn between hope, defeat on Obama’s plans Obama to request $1 billion from Congress to help Central America New immigration program seeks to reunite Central American families in US US to grant refugee status to Central American child migrants (Speech begins at minute 58:30 of the video)WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pledging to fix the United States’ “broken” immigration system, President Barack Obama offered five million undocumented migrants protection from deportation Thursday, allowing families to emerge from the shadows and seek work permits.In a move that infuriated his Republican critics, Obama said nearly all undocumented people living in country for more than five years and who have a child who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident can apply for three-year work authorization.The president also broadened the program he launched in 2012 that provides temporary residency to young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before the age of 16.“There are actions I have the legal authority to take as president – the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me – that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just,” Obama said in a 15-minute speech broadcast from the White House.The order will affect about 44 percent of the 11.3 million people — mostly from Mexico and Central America — living in the United States illegally.But he quickly stressed that the sweeping order, the most comprehensive immigration step in years, “does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive.“Only Congress can do that,” he added. “All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.”Obama’s executive order shifts U.S. policy from a dragnet approach to all immigrants without immigration documents to a focus on deporting convicted felons and those who pose a danger to society.People living and working illegally in the country and who meet the criteria can apply for deferred deportation from next spring, the White House said.Download and read a White House fact sheet on Obama’s executive order in Spanish and English here. Supporters cheer in front of the White House as U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a nationally televised address on immigration reform on Nov. 20, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Paul J. Richards/AFPMass deportation ‘impossible’  For much of this year Republicans have warned that unilateral action on immigration would be an illegal and unconstitutional amnesty of millions of undocumented people.But Obama shot back, saying he was taking needed action while congressional Republicans dithered.“Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character,” Obama said.The president invoked the centuries-old history of the U.S. as a compassionate nation of immigrants, described his plan as “commonsense” accountability.But in his words lay a warning, and a message to lawmakers that he would stand tough on immigration law.“If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up,” he said.Since 1986, when then-Republican President Ronald Reagan granted a sweeping amnesty, all attempts at major reform of the country’s immigration system have failed.Faced with congressional stalemate, Obama — who made immigration a top priority on taking office in 2009 — has decided, with two years left in the White House, to take the matter into his own hands.Under the new rules, those applying for deferred action must have a clean criminal record, pass a background check, and pay taxes.The plan expands the program allowing temporary residency cards for minors to include those of all ages, provided they arrived in country prior to January 1, 2010 and were 16 or younger when they entered.And it also eases legal immigration rules for high-tech workers and students in “STEM” fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.Recommended: For Central America’s migrant women, life can change in a second Isabel Medina, 41, who doesn’t have U.S. citizenship, wipes away tears on Nov. 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California, as she watches U.S. President Barack Obama’s nationally televised announcement on immigration reform. Obama said lifting the threat of expulsion for five million undocumented migrants would make the system “more fair and just.” Ringo Chiu/AFPStorm brewing in Congress A new immigration law did pass the then-Democratically controlled Senate last year, but the Republican House of Representatives blocked it and failed to agree on its own alternative proposal.Republicans, who will control both House and Senate in January after a huge win in this month’s midterm elections, say Obama is going too far.Incoming Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Thursday that the new Congress will exact political retribution.“If President Obama acts in defiance of the people and imposes his will on the country, Congress will act,” he said.The U.S. border state of Texas wasted no time in announcing a suit.Its attorney general, Greg Abbott, the incoming governor, said: “I am prepared to immediately challenge President Obama in court, securing our state’s sovereignty and guaranteeing the rule of law.”The political firestorm unleashed by Obama does not bode well for relations between Congress and the White House in coming months.Republicans cannot halt a presidential decree, but they can make Obama’s last two years extremely difficult — by blocking his choices for ambassadorial and administration posts, as well as judgeships.But with the 2016 presidential election on the horizon, the debate within the Republican Party on immigration will be lively, as it can ill afford to offend Hispanic voters, 70 percent of whom voted for Obama in 2012. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

How Guatemalas former dictator Ríos Montt dodged a stay in a notorious

first_imgRelated posts:For justice in Guatemala, ‘2 steps forward, 1 step back’ Guatemala high court paves way for new genocide trial against ex-dictator Ríos Montt Retrial of former Guatemalan dictator begins despite defense’s call for suspension Guatemalan ex-dictator to face genocide retrial GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — It would have closed an historical loop, in a way, had Guatemalan former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt been sent for evaluation — as the country’s highest court originally ordered — to a notorious mental institution that fell into disrepair under his short-lived de facto rule. Ríos Montt is facing charges of genocide, but the trial has been delayed over questions of whether the 89-year-old retired general is mentally fit to stand trial.But instead of spending a week at the Federico Mora psychiatric hospital, which international observers have described as a hellhole, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court consented Tuesday to let him have the evaluation done at an upscale private hospital.The decision came after the latest round of legal sparring between Ríos Montt’s defense team and prosecutors intent on seeing the former general tried for orchestrating a genocidal military campaign against the Maya Ixil ethnic group. More than 1,700 Ixil men, women and children were killed in the campaign carried out in 1982 and 1983, the bloodiest years of Guatemala’s 36-year civil war.Cameras snapped as an ambulance arrived at the accused’s house on Tuesday to transport him to Los Pinos hospital. Ríos Montt was accompanied by his two children, retired general Luis Enrique Ríos Sosa and Zury Ríos Sosa. Ríos Sosa won her own court victory last week: The Constitutional Court ruled that she could run for president in the November elections, despite a constitutional provision prohibiting close family members of a coup leader-cum-president from seeking the highest office.Efraín Ríos Montt is to spend the next 10 days at Sanatorio Los Pinos undergoing psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he’s mentally fit to stand trial. It’s his second psychiatric evaluation of his second trial for genocide. Ríos Montt was first tried for genocide and crimes against humanity in 2013. He was found guilty, but the conviction was annulled on a technicality and the trial was sent back to square one by the Constitutional Court.It took two years of delays and legal wrangling for the retrial to be scheduled, and a new date was finally set for July 23. However, two weeks before the trial was supposed to start, Guatemala’s National Forensic Institute issued a report saying that Ríos Montt’s mental health had deteriorated to the extent that he was unable to understand the charges against him, thereby allowing his attorneys to request the case closed.It later came to light that the psychiatric evaluation was carried out when the patient was likely sedated. Plus, it was ordered by a judge, Carol Patricia Flores, who no longer had authority over the case and who has been accused by the UN-sponsored International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) of illicit enrichment and money laundering, leading to questions about the report’s impartiality.A dubious evaluationOn July 23, the courtroom was packed with victims of the armed conflict, human rights activists, military supporters and international observers, including U.S. Ambassador Todd Robinson – all waiting to hear the court’s verdict on whether or not Ríos Montt was fit to stand trial.The octogenarian wasn’t physically present at the hearing. He participated via videolink from his home. While Ríos Montt’s defense attorneys argued that the National Forensic Institute’s report proved he was mentally incapacitated and unfit for trial, prosecutors provided a written opinion from Federico Castellanos Gutiérrez, head of forensic psychiatry at the Federico Mora hospital, stating that an effective psychiatric evaluation can only be carried out if the patient has not been medicated during the preceding 48 hours.According to Castellanos, the medication Ríos Montt was given would have sedated him. It also emerged that Ríos Montt had been given olanzapine, a drug used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder but not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating dementia since it can increase the risk of stroke.The prosecution requested that Ríos Montt be transferred to the Federico Mora hospital to undergo psychiatric evaluation and to ensure his condition received appropriate treatment. The three-judge panel agreed and ordered the accused to spend a week at the hospital. An entire wing was to be cleared of patients and prepared to accomodate the former head of state.‘Most dangerous facility … in the Americas”Regarded as a model for mental health treatment in Latin America during the 1970s, the Federico Mora psychiatric hospital has become a nightmarish institution where heavily-sedated patients lie in puddles of urine and feces, as BBC reporter Chris Rogers documented in December 2014.A 2012 report by U.S. advocacy group Disability Rights International described the Federico Mora hospital as “the most dangerous facility our investigators have witnessed anywhere in the Americas.” The group documented numerous cases of physical and sexual abuse and reported that seven people had died in isolation rooms at the hospital in recent years.Mentally-ill criminals serving out sentences at the hospital mix with the general population.Ironically, the hospital’s decline began in 1982, the year that Ríos Montt took power in a military coup. The Guatemalan health ministry ordered the country’s problematic, long-term mental health facility closed and all patients transferred to Federico Mora, which had previously administered primarily acute care. The fusion led to overcrowding and an increasingly serious managerial crisis.After Disability Rights International lodged an official complaint, in 2012 the Inter-American Human Rights Commission ordered the Guatemalan government to improve conditions at the hospital. According to media reports and watchdog groups, not much has changed.Ríos Montt retrial faces uncertain futureZury Ríos Sosa cited the BBC documentary as proof that sending her father to Federico Mora for an evaluation posed a serious threat to his wellbeing. The former dictator’s attorneys argued that if it was absolutely necessary to move their client out of the comfort of his home, he should be sent to a private institution given his status as a former head of state. Ríos Montt’s defense team also accused the judges of bias.At first the judges seemed unlikely to budge. The court confirmed its original order and two days later a small group of Ríos Montt supporters was waiting outside the Federico Mora hospital for the former general to arrive. Some waved placards reading “There was no genocide.”But their cause célèbre didn’t show up. Minutes before Ríos Montt was due to be transferred, his attorneys announced they had obtained a provisional court order to suspend the transfer while a judge and forensic expert determined whether it would endanger his life.The court order raised suspicion given that one of the members of the appeals court who signed it, Judge Noé Ventura Loyo, was elected thanks to congressional support from the political party founded by Ríos Montt, the Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG).The appellate court that issued the ruling is also the same court that upheld sanctions against Judge Yassmín Barrios, the judge who presided over Ríos Montt’s original genocide trial and conviction.Ríos Montt is now lying, presumably in comfort, at Sanatario Los Pinos. The results of the new psychiatric evaluation being carried out by the hospital’s medical experts will determine whether or not the genocide trial against Ríos Montt moves forward. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for August 18, when judges will review the results. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Ricas high court Samesex marriage should be legal someday

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:How Sean Miranda made history in Costa Rica PHOTOS: Pride March in Costa Rica An afternoon with Frida Cartas ‘Clerical error’ allows for same-sex couple to be wed in Costa Rica Costa Rica’s Supreme Court of Justice released a ruling at midnight Wednesday stating that the prohibition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional – and that the Legislative Assembly has 18 months to overturn it.Tlhe current assembly draws 14 of its 57 members evangelical pastors, and the path to comply with the ruling is most likely an exceedingly rocky one.The decision came seven months after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that its member countries, including Costa Rica, must grant equal rights to same-sex couples.President Carlos Alvarado, whose support for same-sex marriage and the Inter-American Court’s ruling played a significant role in his election, celebrated the decision, but it drew criticism from those who criticized the 18-month delay.“The ruling makes no sense. Basically what it does is prolong [the wait] for the fulfillment of our rights,” lawyer Marco Castillo, who wrote one of the suits against the current prohibition of same-sex marriage that the Supreme Court considered, told journalists.“It’s a judicial aberration for a state entity to recognize that discrimination exists, and at the same time allow that discrimination to continue for 18 months more,” said LGBTQ activist Margarita Salas.“It think it’s improbable that in 18 months the assembly with resolve this,” said Enrique Sánchez of the Citizen Action Party, who is Costa Rica’s first openly gay legislator.center_img We need to take a second look at our assumptions about gay marriagelast_img read more

Violence in Athens suburb injures 6 policemen

first_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Patients with chronic pain give advice Sponsored Stories Top Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Police said in a statement that the violence started when the attackers began throwing stones at the bus, then smashing the windows of nearby stores. Police arrived at the scene and came under gunfire before ending the violence.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishescenter_img Comments   Share   Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Authorities say police have clashed with about 150 people who attacked a public bus and shops in a western Athens suburb and that six officers were hospitalized with gunshot wounds.The violence occurred Monday night in the Ano Liossia suburb, where clashes have occurred from time to time between police and Greek citizens from the Roma minority.It was not clear what caused Monday night’s violence, which came as Greek politicians were trying to form a coalition government after Sunday’s national election left no party with a majority in Parliament. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Four benefits of having a wireless security systemlast_img read more

Russia flood brings volunteer spirit and new law

first_imgA week after the unprecedented flood volunteerism emerged, a Kremlin-linked body proposed a bill that regulates charity drives. Critics suspect the move is aimed at keeping a tight leash on popular movements that could snowball into anti-government protest.In the wake of the massive opposition protests that erupted over the winter, officials are uneasy with signs of newly energetic independent initiatives. Recently passed laws put non-governmental organizations under intimidating scrutiny and impose ruinous fines on participants in unauthorized demonstrations.While the eagerness of Russians to rise to the flood cause was seen by many as a heartening advance for civil society, it also appeared to be tacit criticism of Russian authorities as untrustworthy and ineffectual.“The government is terrified of an awakening civil society,” Genady Gudkov, an opposition member of parliament, said Monday on Echo Moskvy radio. “Volunteers and mass volunteerism have only just appeared, and there is a genuine fear that this volunteer movement will morph into something else.”The bill, to be taken up by Parliament when the lower house reconvenes in September, does not block volunteer efforts. It concerns itself only with the legal and financial liability incurred by volunteers and the organizations they work with. 5 ways to recognize low testosterone “There is a lot that needs elaborating,” said Grigory Kuksin, leader of the volunteer programs of Russia’s Greenpeace, during the public discussion. “But it doesn’t demand a new law that will narrow the definition of volunteerism.”___Alexander Roslyakov in Moscow contributed to this story.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Developers of the legislation say its intent is not to stifle volunteerism, but, in fact, to add clarity to the process.Darya Miloslavskaya, a member of the Public Chamber and author of the bill, said that it was designed only to establish a more formal relationship between volunteers and the organizations they worked with.“We have nothing to do with politics. There was no intention of saying that the government is bad and volunteers are good, or vice versa,” Miloslavskaya, who had been drafting the legislation since April, told Echo Moskvy.The Public Chamber is a state oversight body that monitors parliament and drafts legislation. It consists of members appointed by the Kremlin and representatives of public associations.The bill would require volunteers and the organizers they work with to sign a contract if participants hoped to receive compensation for any expenses incurred.Particularly in a country where many look suspiciously on government officials and corruption-riddled state institutions, Russian activists worry that the new law will only deter ordinary people from getting involved at all.“If the first thing that a volunteer does is get in a car and go to look for some children who are lost in the forest, now according to this bill you’ll have (the volunteer) talking to some bureaucrats and filling out papers,” said Maria Baronova, an opposition activist who was one of the main organizers of the Krymsk relief effort. “People will stop getting involved, because in general people don’t want to be connected with either government officials or with bureaucracy,” she said.The Krymsk relief effort attracted scores of contributors to the collection site in Moscow, where Russians from all walks of life hauled boxes of food and clothes on buses bound for Krymsk.“It’s better to participate in something independent rather than something that belongs to any kind of party, so that no one can make PR out of such a tragedy,” said 28-year-old Anastasia Kayumova, a choir teacher who came to the volunteer site in the morning and ended up staying until dark to help.“Already on that evening (after the flood), I was telling myself that civil society does exist here,” said Maria Baronova. “People have to understand that you have to do two things in life: go to work, and defend the place you live, that if you don’t do that with your own hands then nothing will change.”In a public discussion Wednesday that brought officials and authors of the bill together with activists, charity organizers insisted that, while some kind of regulation of nascent volunteer movements was necessary in Russia, the law would go too far in giving the government oversight. 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Sponsored Stories center_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   Associated PressMOSCOW (AP) – A stooped woman in her 70s dropped off a kettle and about $600 in cash in Moscow, while a thick-necked businessman unloaded an SUV packed with brand new strollers and jumbo packages of diapers.It was part of a spontaneous wave of charity for flood victims in the town of Krymsk, jumpstarted by social networking sites and through a handful of independent radio and TV stations. It was also part of a growing penchant for independent action that unsettles the powerful. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Top Stories But activists are concerned that it will add a laborious layer of paperwork that could bog down quick and effective response to disasters like the one in Krymsk. They complain that the vagueness of the legislation creates an ominous atmosphere of government supervision that could have a chilling effect on Russia’s budding volunteer spirit, at the same time as President Vladimir Putin intensifies his squeeze on the opposition.At least 171 people died in Krymsk and nearby parts of southern Russia when flash floods triggered by extraordinarily heavy rains inundated the area on July 6-7.Thousands of volunteers traveled to the area some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) south of Moscow to help dig houses out from mud and aid the estimated 5,000 left homeless. Across the country, activists set up donation points for contributions of food, clothes and money.The response was unusual in a country where the volunteer spirit is far less developed than in the West. In communist times participation at mass rallies and involvement in social groups was mandatory. After the fall of the Soviet Union, many Russians turned inwards, focusing on family and their jobs instead of on the public sphere.last_img read more

Romanian referendum invalid due to low turnout

first_img“Romanians have invalidated the referendum by not voting,” Basescu said on national TV as he announced he had survived the vote.However, he acknowledged he had lost popular support, and pledged to work toward reconciliation in the nation of 19 million which threw off communism in 1989.`’I assure Romanians that once I return … I will try and generate a sentiment of reconciliation in society,” he said. `’It’s clear that Romanians are unhappy about what has happened in recent years. Divisions in society must be stopped, they must be annihilated, because Romania needs all its energy to … integrate into the civilized world.”The political turmoil has dented Romania’s credibility, with the U.S. and European Union expressing doubts about the left-leaning government `s respect for the independence of the judiciary. Critics accuse the government leader, Prime Minister Victor Ponta, of orchestrating the effort to oust Basescu. Ponta claimed the president was behind an effort to make public a scandal involving allegations that Ponta had plagiarized his 2004 doctoral thesis.Basescu was accused by his rivals in the government of violating the constitution by overstepping his authority to interfere in the daily running of the country, appointing loyalists to key positions in the justice system and using the secret services against his political rivals. Basescu claimed his rivals were planning to seize control of the judicial system and European Union funds. Romania joined the EU in 2007. Basescu, a former ship captain, called the impeachment process a political vendetta carried out by his opponents and urged supporters to boycott the vote _ a tactic that apparently helped him survive.Basescu, who has been president since 2004, saw his approval numbers drop after the government introduced austerity measures in 2010 to meet demands by the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a multibillion euro (dollar) loan. The government cut public wages by one-fourth and raised the sales tax to 24 percent, one of the highest in the EU.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Top Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Top holiday drink recipes Comments   Share   Associated PressBUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – Romanian election officials declared late Sunday that a referendum to impeach the nation’s president on grounds that he overstepped his authority had failed because of low voter turnout.The Central Election Bureau put the voter turnout in Sunday’s referendum on President Traian Basescu at 45.92 percent, with a 3 percent margin of error. By law, such referendums are invalid if less than half the electorate cast ballots. The bureau did not immediately give the outcome of the vote, but two exit polls showed more than 80 percent favored impeaching Basescu. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debateslast_img

Mexico says US agent shot Mexican dead on border

first_imgMEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department says a Mexican has been fatally shot by a U.S. Border Patrol agent on the frontier between the cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.The department says in a Wednesday statement that the Mexican government has strongly protested the shooting, and reiterated its objection to the use of force by Border Patrol agents. The statement doesn’t given any details of the shooting. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project A Border Patrol spokesman hasn’t responded to a request for comment.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Top Stories center_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Parents, stop beating yourself uplast_img read more

Queen Elizabeth IIs corgi dies

first_img 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories LONDON (AP) – Buckingham Palace says one of Queen Elizabeth II’s corgis, who took a star turn in the James Bond sketch during the Olympics opening ceremony, has died.Monty and two other of the queen’s beloved corgis appeared in a James Bond sketch during the opening ceremony, greeting Daniel Craig’s James Bond as he arrived at the palace to accept a mission from the monarch.The palace on Sunday confirmed that Monty _ who was previously owned by the Queen Mother _ had died. It did not provide details on when or how Monty died, or the age of the dog, but added that another of the queen’s pets, dachshund-corgi crossbreed Cider, also had died. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk With the death of Monty, Queen Elizabeth II now has two corgis in the palace _ Willow and Holly _ both of whom also appeared in the Olympics sketch.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion projectcenter_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Sponsored Stories The vital role family plays in societylast_img read more

Commerzbank loses 123M in Q1 due to restructuring

first_img“We were able to increase our operating profit in the first quarter despite a very challenging environment with extremely low interest rates, and have made further considerable progress in the consistent reduction of our non-strategic activities,” CEO Blessing said in a statement. He said the company’s focus this year was on implementing its turnaround strategy and that “the positive effects from this should increasingly become visible from the coming year onwards.”(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Commerzbank has been on a long road to recovery since it was bailed out in 2009 by the German government, which still owns 25 percent. The job cuts stem from a program launched in November to invest in the lender’s core business while also reducing personnel costs. The bank made only 6 million euros in profit for last year due to large writedowns, a performance CEO Martin Blessing said was not satisfactory. The bank is raising 2.5 billion euros by issuing new shares through a capital increase approved at the April 19 shareholders’ meeting.The bank said Tuesday that currently low interest rates also hurt earnings as interest income fell by 338 million euros, to 1.356 billion from 1.694 billion euros. It saw more income from trading securities and made an operating profit excluding the restructuring charges of 469 million euros, although that was down 19 percent from the figure for the year-ago quarter.Profit for the rest of this year would be “shaped by ongoing pressure on revenues,” the banks said in a statement.Overall, the bank’s income before loan losses fell 4.6 percent to 2.46 billion euros.The bank said it was making “excellent progress” in disposing of investments that it no longer considers part of its core business such as commercial real estate and shipping loans. Non-core assets were reduced by 7.3 billion euros during the quarter to 143 billion euros. Sponsored Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Germany’s Commerzbank said Tuesday it lost 94 million euros ($123 million) in the first quarter after taking heavy charges for future job reductions as the bank tries to turn its business around.The net loss compared to a profit of 355 million euros in the same quarter a year ago.Germany’s No. 2 lender behind Deutsche Bank took 493 million euros in reductions to earnings for restructuring that will include 4,000 to 6,000 job cuts by 2016. The bank announced the cuts in January and warned in April that it would take a large restructuring charge. Men’s health affects baby’s health too Parents, stop beating yourself up Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 4 must play golf courses in Arizonalast_img read more

Boko Haram kills 11 traitors in northeastern Nigerian town

first_img Sponsored Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Four benefits of having a wireless security system Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Boko Haram militants Friday slit the throats of 11 alleged “traitors,” witnesses said in the first news of desertions from the Nigerian Islamic extremist group.The militants arrived before dawn and went door to door in northeastern Miringa town, said resident Muhammad Kimba.“They actually dragged out 11 persons to the Eid praying ground outside the town and slaughtered all of them,” said Kimba. Top Stories Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall It is the fifth attack in a week that left 173 people killed as Boko Haram Islamic extremists appear to obey an Islamic State group order to step up attacks in the holy month of Ramadan. Boko Haram became the IS group’s West Africa franchise earlier this year.On Thursday, a woman and a girl strapped with explosives blew up and killed 13 people at a crowded market and a military checkpoint in Malari village, just outside Maiduguri city, according to security guard Abba Shehu.In the most deadly attack, the militants targeted several mosques in Kukawa town on Wednesday, gunning down nearly 100 praying worshippers. Kukawa is 180 kilometers (110 miles) northeast of Maiduguri.The militants, who want to impose their strict version of Shariah law across Nigeria, often defile mosques where clerics preach against their extremism. While they also have attacked churches, many more Muslims are among an estimated 13,000 people killed in the 6-year-old Islamic uprising. Another 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes.Boko Haram took over a large swath of northeastern Nigeria last year and stepped up cross-border raids. A multinational army from Nigeria and its neighbors forced the militants out of towns, but bombings and village attacks are increasing. President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the latest attacks, calling them “desperate acts” that underscore the need to speed up full deployment of the multinational army.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How men can have a healthy 2019 Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

UK leader signals support for airstrikes on IS in Syria

first_imgLONDON (AP) — Prime Minister David Cameron says Britain needs to take a greater role in destroying the Islamic State group in Syria — his most direct signal to date that he will seek to expand his country’s role in supporting the United States and its allies.In remarks made to NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Cameron said Britain must do more fight the group, also known as ISIL. The remarks posted online Saturday follow a commitment to meet NATO targets on military spending and make plain that Britain now sees the Islamic State group as an explicit threat to national security. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Top Stories Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Mesa family survives lightning strike to home “We know that we have to defeat ISIL, we have to destroy this caliphate, whether it is in Iraq or in Syria,” he said.The remarks come only days after Britain’s Ministry of Defense acknowledged that British forces have already conducted airstrikes over Syria — albeit only when embedded with coalition forces. Britain has been carrying out surveillance and air-to-air refueling over Syria and launching attacks on neighboring Iraq, and Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has argued that the mission should be expanded to Syria.Cameron is seeking support from the opposition Labour Party, in an effort to build a unified national position and avoid another embarrassing defeat on Syria. Labour opposed an effort to join U.S. attacks on Syria in 2013, though that vote centered on strikes to disrupt the use of chemical weapons by Bashar Assad’s government.The British leader also spoke of the need to persuade young Britons to reject Islamic extremism.“We’ve got to defeat the narrative of extremism, even when it’s not connected to the violence,” Cameron told NBC. “Because it’s the narrative that is the jumping-off point for these young people to then go and join this dreadful death cult in Iraq and Syria.” Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments   Share   Top holiday drink recipeslast_img read more

Engineers strike a ransom on QF passengers

first_imgInternational and domestic travellers flying in and out of Australia today are likely to face lengthy delays despite Qantas engineers cancelling industrial action for today.Up to 11,000 passengers are expected to be affected by the strikes that were originally planned to run for four hour by Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) members today.Despite calling off action today, the Australian flag carrier had already implemented safety measures that saw the cancellation of up to 40 flights and delays on 24 more services for up to 3.5 hours.The carrier’s Group executive of government and corporate affairs Olivia Wirth described the strikes as a “ransom” of Qantas passengers and said the carrier was shifting its operations to decrease disruptions.“We apologise to all of our customers who face delays and cancellations on Monday,” Ms Wirth said.“We will deploy larger aircraft and roster qualified management engineers to operational roles to minimise the impact however there still be significant impacts on our passengers.”Ms Wirth added that negotiations with the union had extended to over 12 months and referred to the pay requests as “unreasonable”.“The licensed engineers’ union is demanding significant pay increases and a guarantee from Qantas that no changes will be made to old work practices on new generation aircraft, and that no productivity improvements will be introduced.”According to the carrier six weeks worth of strikes between the ALAEA and the Transport Workers Union has caused disruptions for up to 46,500 passengers and the cancellation and delays of up to 348 flights. Meanwhile international passengers arriving into Australia will be forced to wait in long customs lines later this week as the Community & Public Sector Union (CPSU) arranges strikes for its members on Thursday 13 October. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Emirates waves Hello Tomorrow brand

first_imgPromoting its worldwide connections, Emirates has released plans to launch a new global brand platform themed, ‘Hello Tomorrow’.Following the announcement of new flights to Washington DC earlier this month, the airline released plans today to launch the new brand, a new campaign as well as a new website that is set to drive new consumer engagement in ‘what is new, fresh and innovative in the world’.The carrier’s vice chairman Sir Maurice Flanagan said the idea of ‘Hello’ is to invite a person while ‘Tomorrow’ presents the idea of “unlimited possibility of the future”.“Emirates is extending an invitation to try the unfamiliar, create new ideas, and form new visions. The theme encapsulates life’s potential and embracing the future with all the possibilities it holds,” Mr Flanagan said. “Our new corporate image and global marketing campaign both underline the confidence we have in our existing products and services, and the vision we have for the future growth of the airline. “Emirates is not just offering a way to connect people from point A to point B but is the catalyst to connect people’s hopes, dreams and aspirations.”The carrier noted that as the world become more interconnected through increased air traffic and people becoming more mobile, Emirates and its new brand will focus on distinguishing itself through a series of TV, digital and print ads that create an “invitation to try the unfamiliar”.Campaign designer, Strawberry Frog chairman Scott Goodson added that the brand was a “bold” step forward for the carrier and described it is “the world’s most thoughtful and incredible brand”.“The “Hello Tomorrow” campaign is at the vanguard of the trend for global brands to spark movements not simply do advertising, connecting people, communities and encouraging them to join together to make a positive impact on society,” Mr Goodson concluded. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Hong Kong Airlines launches new service to Yonago

first_imgSource = Hong Kong Airlines About Hong Kong Airlines Established in 2006, Hong Kong Airlines is a full-service airline firmly rooted in Hong Kong with a wide destination network covering over 30 major cities across the AsiaPacific region, including Gold Coast, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Tokyo, Sapporo, Bangkok, Bali and Okinawa. The current operating fleet is made up of 31 Airbus aircraft with an average age of around 3.8 years, consisting of 26 passenger aircraft and five freighters, being one of the youngest fleet in the world. Hong Kong Airlines has been awarded the internationally acclaimed 4-star rating from Skytrax since 2011. Adhering to the concept of “Fresh and Very Hong Kong”, Hong Kong Airlines is committed to “Bringing Greater Journeys Sky High”, and is dedicated to providing a pleasant and enjoyable journey to all passengers. Japan National Tourism Organisationdiscover more of Japan here Hong Kong Airlines launches new flight service to Yonago, Tottori PrefectureHong Kong Airlines launches new flight service to Yonago, Tottori PrefectureCommencing on 14 September 2016, Hong Kong Airlines, an internationally-acclaimed full-service airline, will be the first and the only carrier providing direct twice-weekly flight service between Hong Kong and Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, Japan. The new service will be operated by an all-economy class Airbus A320 aircraft, further strengthening the airline’s network in Japan.Tottori Prefecture is situated in the northeastern part of the Chugoku region in Western Honshu. Tottori Prefecture has four distinct seasons. A coastal prefecture surrounded by several high mountains, with close to 90% of land being mountainous, Tottori Prefecture boasts a wide range of local produce. Japanese watermelons, 20th Century pears, oysters and Matsuba crabs are some of the region’s specialties.Tottori Prefecture is blessed with bountiful natural landscapes, including Japan’s largest sand dunes, Tottori Sand Dunes. Tottori Sand Dunes spans 16 kilometers in length along the coast and 2 kilometers in width. Wind and coastal tides weave together unique ripples and sand screens that evolve by the minute. There are limitless ways to explore Tottori Sand Dune, from the adrenaline-pumping paragliding and sandboarding, to taking leisurely stroll on a horse-cart or a camel, to riding a cable car for a panoramic view of the coastline. In addition, Tottori Prefecture is home to a great variety of onsens, including the famous ‘Salt Spring’ Kaike Onsen. The hot spring-water from the sea floor of Miho Bay is said to improve digestion and relieve muscle pain.Tottori Prefecture has a unique infusion of arts and culture. The Prefecture is Japan’s “Manga Kingdom”, as the hometown of manga artists behind the celebrated GeGeGe no Kitaro and Great Detective Conan. A ride on the Kitaro train or a walk along the yokai statue-lined Mizuki Shigeru Road will transport any visitor into the fantasy manga world. As the original site of Mingei (folk craft) movement, Tottori Prefecture is well known for its traditional pottery and utensils inspired by the beauty of everyday life.Mr. Li Dianchun, Chief Commercial Officer of Hong Kong Airlines, said, “We are delighted to be launching our second route in the Chugoku region after our success with the Okayama route in March this year. Our Yonago route will open up more options toour passengers in West Honshu. We have great confidence in this route and we hope to bring travellers from around the world to this scenic and cultural Prefecture.”Hong Kong Airlines currently flies to over 30 destinations in the Asia-Pacific region. With the additional twice-weekly service to Yonago, complemented by two daily flights to Okinawa and Tokyo, daily flight to Osaka, five-time weekly service to Sapporo and Kagoshima and twice-weekly flights to Okayama, Miyazaki, Hong Kong Airlines will operates a total of 51 weekly flights between Hong Kong and Japan, further strengthening its route network. Hong Kong Airlinesbook your flights herelast_img read more