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A US airline was just named 2017s most ontime global airline for

first_imgTags: Delta Air Lines Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Travelweek Group center_img A U.S. airline was just named 2017’s most on-time global airline for the first time Wednesday, January 10, 2018 NEW YORK — FlightGlobal has once again released its list of the World’s Most On-Time Airlines, and for the first time in nine years a U.S. airline has found itself at the top of the list.Delta Air Lines was ranked #1 among mainline carriers, with 85.94% of flights arriving within 14 minutes of their scheduled arrival times. Delta was also recognized as North America’s most on-time major carrier, a title that takes into account the Delta Connection regional operation. FlightGlobal’s FlightStats reports that Delta, together with its regional partners, saw 84.06% of flights arrive on time in 2017, based on FlightStats’ analysis of flight status and arrival data pulled from over 600 global sources and data feeds.“We are extremely proud of what Delta employees have been able to accomplish in service to our customers to drive a safe and reliable global operation,” said Gil West, Delta’s Executive Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “The results reported by FlightStats are humbling and yet another proof point that Delta employees worldwide are redefining operational excellence. Hats off to all Delta employees who come to work every day looking for ways to make meaningful improvements to the airline and continue to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.”More news:  Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youthDelta flies more than 180 million customers annually on approximately 5,000 daily mainline and Delta Connection flights. The airline achieved its strong operational performance in 2017 despite a string of hurricanes in the U.S. and Caribbean, and a snowstorm at Delta’s largest hub in Atlanta in December. Still Delta recorded several company bests, including a record 242 days in 2017 without a mainline flight cancellation and 90 days in which mainline and Delta Connection were cancel-free.last_img read more

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Record 628 million visitors to New York City includes turn around from

first_imgRecord 62.8 million visitors to New York City includes turn around from Canada Tags: New York City, Trend Watch Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group center_img NEW YORK — Outbound travel from Canada to New York City is forecast to top the 1 million mark this year after a strong showing in 2017 with some 970,000 Canadians making the trip to the Big Apple, according to the latest stats from NYC & Company.New York City welcomed a record 62.8 million visitors in 2017, up 2.3 million year-over-year and marking the eighth consecutive year of visitation growth for both domestic (49.7 million) and international (13.1 million) markets, both at all-time highs, says NYC & Company.International travel started the year slowly but ultimately surpassed the 13 million mark – a 3.4% increase – driven by solid regional growth from Asia and South America, together with a turn around from Canada.Looking ahead to the end of 2018, international travel growth (+4.1%) is expected to outpace domestic visitation growth – if current global economic and policy conditions hold – for the first time since 2013.NYC & Company also says it expects business travel growth to outperform leisure travel growth for the first time since the Great Recession (4.2% year over year compared to 3.6%).More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesRobust hotel supply increases were met with strong demand growth. Average daily rate (ADR) recovered by Q4, to end the year at an average of US$277. And occupancy outperformed 2016 results as guests benefitted from an increasingly diverse offering of hotel brands, locations and price levels, says NYC & Company.“We’re keeping our door to the world open,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Even with all the headwinds from the White House, we attracted a record number of visitors to our city. That’s a testament to the strength of our tourism sector and the values of our city.”In 2017 NYC & Company launched two campaigns, ‘New York City – Welcoming the World’ and ‘True York City’, which helped position NYC as a must-visit destination despite challenges in the geopolitical climate and changes in travel policies. The campaigns helped “reaffirmed our commitment to being an open and welcoming global capital,” said NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon.New York City has the most active hotel development pipeline in the U.S. and even with the 4,000 new rooms added to the city’s hotel inventory last year – bringing the total to nearly 116,500 rooms – demand remained strong. Last year, the city sold a record 36.4 million hotel room nights, a 4.5% growth from 2016.More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesAlso last year some 6.2 million meetings and conventions delegates visited the city’s five boroughs, contributing to the total 13 million business travellers that came to New York City.NYC & Company also signed several international City-to-City tourism partnerships including a new deal with Toronto.Several new Midtown attractions made their debut in 2017 including National Geographic’s Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, the NFL Experience, Opry City Stage, Gullivers Gate and Spyscape. Mayor de Blasio also launched the NYC Ferry last May, offering the public more ways to access the City’s diverse neighborhoods through its waterways. NYC & Company continues to promote future developments and cultural offerings across all five boroughs to its global audiences under the banner of the ‘New New York City’.NYC & Company’s 2018 forecast anticipate another year of growth, with a 3.7% increase to 65.1 million visitors. Wednesday, March 21, 2018 Sharelast_img read more

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United rolls out Priority Boarding fee but is it more of a

first_img Tweet United rolls out Priority Boarding fee, but is it more of a carry-on fee? Travelweek Group Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Posted bycenter_img CHICAGO — For US$9 United Airlines passengers can now get Priority Boarding and the perks that come with it.The airline’s newly introduced ‘Priority Boarding’ gives guaranteed boarding to passengers with Group 2, which also includes Chase preferred credit card holders and passengers with elite frequent traveller status.United has a total of five boarding groups for each flight, with Group 2 typically getting an early start.Priority Boarding can be selected at time of booking, if available, or passengers can check back at United.com at a later date (but before departure) to check availability.Some say the new initiative is more of a carry-on bag fee. Seeing how the main benefit to priority boarding is securing overhead storage space, industry experts are calling the new measure a way to simply monetize scarce onboard real estate.Even United is marketing the new initiative as such, in a new ad that encourages passengers to “Get onboard and to the overhead bins faster.”More news:  Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksMoreover, the ad lists the fee as “from $9 per traveller”, meaning the variable fee could go up depending on the flight booked, the date, time of day and day of week.United is not the first airline to implement Priority Boarding; Southwest Airlines has been offering its Early Bird boarding product for years, at a fee of $15 per flight segment.United said it does not anticipate any logjams as a result of the new Priority Boarding, which is now being rolled out. Tags: United Airlines << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Gift cards luxury getaway Swarovski jewellery with Insights agent incentive

first_imgTags: Agent Incentives, Insight Vacations Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, April 3, 2018 Posted bycenter_img Gift cards, luxury getaway, Swarovski jewellery with Insight’s agent incentive TORONTO — With every new Insight Vacations booking made April 1 – May 1 agents will receive a $40 gift card plus automatic entry into the company’s 40th anniversary prize draw.Insight Vacations says it wants to reward its loyal Canadian agents who have helped the company get to this milestone.“Anniversaries are a time to celebrate, and we can’t think of a better way to do it than by showing our loyal agents gratitude,” says Insight Vacations Canada President, Brad Ford.“We’re offering a great incentive to honour our 40th milestone as well as giving away some prizes to those that really take advantage of the sale.”Three prizes will be drawn on May 2, better known in the travel trade as Travel Agent Day. The grand prize is a one-night stay at a local five-star hotel, with a choice of award-winning dining experiences and a spa package for two, valued at $1,200. Second prize is a $400 gift card and third prize is a Swarovski blue Crystaldust cuff, valued at $80.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upFor more information contact your local sales manager or see insightvacations.com/ca/special-offers/40yearscan. Sharelast_img read more

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US security aid tops 6 million

first_imgIn 2011, the United States government donated almost $6.6 million in cash, equipment and training to Costa Rican public security forces, according to data released by the Public Security Ministry.A Coast Guard base, two new patrol boats, bulletproof vests, radios, boat and helicopter parts, trucks, generators, office supplies, language learning materials and cash are some of the donations made by the U.S. government last year to help Costa Rica meet security challenges.The single largest donation was the newly built $3.5 million Coast Guard station in Caldera, Puntarenas, on the central Pacific coast, inaugurated in March of last year. “The U.S. government has a strategic plan to partner with Costa Rica to strengthen the capacity of its Coast Guard,” U.S. Ambassador Anne S. Andrew told The Tico Times at the time (TT, March 31, 2011).That strategic plan is evident in the breakdown of U.S. donations among different Public Security Ministry agencies: Of 31 donations received by the ministry from the U.S., the Costa Rican Coast Guard received approximately $5.5 million, or about 84 percent of the total. That figure includes the new base and two interceptor boats with a $1.8 million price tag. Uncle Sam also shelled out $48,000 “to support marine operations,” according to the ministry report. Additionally, the Coast Guard also received $60,000 for generators for patrol boats, $19,000 for parts for patrol boats and $11,000 for trucks and $120,000 in training for Coast Guard personnel, including eight weeks of diesel maintenance training for three individuals to the tune of about $50,000.The National Air Vigilance Service also did well, receiving $371,000. The National Police received $78,400 for training, including $40,000 for 25 Costa Rican and Nicaraguan police who learned how to detect hidden compartments in vehicles. The U.S. also financed the attendance of three National Police representatives at the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Cancún, Mexico, to the tune of $12,000.Other donations listed by the Public Security Ministry include just under $10,000 for “jungle commando” training for two agents, $15,000 for a three-week course on national defense strategies for one person and $15,000 for “reinforcement and development of new capabilities for the approach and control of disturbances,” among other programs. The Judicial Investigation Police and Presidency Ministry received a donation of bulletproof vests valued at $289,208 Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Taxis drivers block capital roads to demand crackdown on piratas

first_img“We need the government to guarantee a financial balance and enforce the same laws we’re required to follow, such as keeping our vehicles up to maintenance standards,” taxi driver Javier Cortéz said. “Pirate taxis and chauffeurs are not following the law and they’re flooding the streets because of a lack of enforcement.”At 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the “fuerza roja” as the fleet of official cabs are known in Costa Rica for their red paint jobs, moved the protest to Casa Presidencial in the southeastern San José district of Zapote, hoping to meet with President Laura Chinchilla. Instead, they sat down with Public Works and Transport Minister Pedro Castro. The meeting continued into the late afternoon.“This government is ineffective, and today’s protest is to pressure the Traffic Police to do their job and prevent illegal taxi drivers from working,” protester Gabriel García said.Groups of taxis from other regions also joined the demonstration in the provinces of Puntarenas, Alajuela and Guanacaste.The National Transportation Chamber backed the demonstration, sending some 80 buses to Paseo Colón and downtown San José.Chamber Director Orlando Ramírez said the decision was made “in support of taxi drivers and to demand the end of irregular activities, as [piratas and porteadores] contribute to traffic congestion when they park at bus and taxi stops, and police do nothing about it.”Traffic Police turned out to direct traffic in an effort to avoid complete blockage of downtown routes, and traffic returned to its normal level of congestion by mid-afternoon. Facebook Comments More photos  – See more pictures in our Tumblr Related posts:Costa Rican taxi drivers, language-school workers arrested in fake English diploma scam Increase in taxi fares approved Taxi fares to increase this month Taxi drivers end protests after government promises no new permits By Alberto Font and L. AriasHundreds of taxi drivers on Tuesday flooded Second Avenue in downtown San José to demand the government enforce stricter regulations for two types of informal taxi drivers, known as “porteadores” and “piratas.” Piratas are illegally operated cabs, and porteadores are private chauffeurs.Formal taxistas say the lack of government oversight on city streets is paving the way for more informal taxis, which cut into an already overly competitive business. Taxi drivers want Traffic Police to stop pirate taxis and prevent them from transporting passengers altogether. They also want cops to enforce Law 8950, which states that porteadores can only provide private door-to-door service. Many chauffeurs pick up clients on the street in violation of the law, they say.last_img read more

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Costa Rica launches campaign to curb teen pregnancy

first_imgCosta Rican media this week launched a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing the number of teenage pregnancies in the country. The initiative, launched by the Costa Rican Health Ministry and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), hopes to reduce the 13,000-16,000 births by teenage mothers that take place each year, close to 16 percent of all childbirths in the country.Additionally, each year some 500 babies are born to mothers under 15.The campaign, called, “It’s not going to happen to me – decisions have consequences,” will be broadcast on television and radio spots in coming days.“This is to tell young men and women that their decisions have consequences, and that they should try to make responsible and safe choices,” campaign promoter Óscar Valverde told local Radio ADN.He added that, “We also have to provide the conditions that allow teenagers to make those responsible decisions.” That includes integral sexual education, promoting the rights of teenagers, and promoting a society that allows adolescents to “live free from violence, as many of the pregnancies are the product of abusive relationships,” he said.Last Thursday, the UNFPA published data on Latin America and the Caribbean that shows the region ranks second in terms of the teenage birth rate, surpassed only by Sub-Saharan Africa.Adolescent moms give birth to one in four babies in the region, the U.N. study showed. On a global level, 16 million women between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth each year. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Costa Rica hosts largestever bat conference

first_imgBat featuresCosta Rica’s bat diversity has offered research opportunities for biologists for decades. The overwhelming majority of bats in the United States, for example, live on a diet of only insects. In Central America, researchers can witness bats interacting with their environments in roles traditionally occupied by bees or hummingbirds.One pioneering researcher, Merlin Tuttle, has an almost legendary status among bat researchers, driven by his wizardry in photographing bats in action.Tuttle cited the example of one bat’s relationship with the sea bean, a tree often used by Costa Ricans to craft jewelry. The flower of the tree opens one night per year and produces a sweet nectar that attracts pollinator bats. It also produces a specifically designed part of the flower that reflects bat echolocation in a peculiar fashion. This plant feature only exists on the night when the plant is ready for pollination.“It’s guiding him like airport landing lights at night for a pilot,” Tuttle told The Tico Times.As the bat drinks the nectar, using an extended tongue, a lower part of the flower shoots pollen on the bat’s body, just above its feet.“This all happens in a fraction of a second,” Tuttle said.Tuttle said other flowers have similar structures, with their own specific territory on the bats’ bodies, shooting pollen on their faces, throats or wings.Tuttle said he had been doing research and photography on bats for over 50 years, first coming to Costa Rica in 1987. He said he uses a studio for his photographs, capturing bats in the wild and then creating an artificial ecosystem. Tuttle said he can train the bats in as little as two hours to come to his hand and consider him a source of food.“I don’t know if I can think of any animal in the wild that I can catch and train to come to me in two hours,” Tuttle said.At the conference, Tuttle was excited to see some of the latest research on bat intelligence, a test of their long-term memory. One researcher played cellphone ringtones in an experiment with captured bats, giving them food if they responded to the tone. They bats were then released into the wild in Panama. After being recaptured, some gone for more than 800 days, they demonstrated an ability to remember associating the ringtone with food, in a laboratory.Researchers hypothesized that the diverse diets of some bats, especially those that eat all manner of insects, coupled with their lifespans, upwards of 20 years, explains their need to have a sophisticated long-term memory. A wrinkle-face bat, a species of fruit-eating bat. Researchers hypothesize that the bizarre features on its face help in quickly detecting edible fruit. Courtesy of Merlin Tuttle and Bat Conservation International  Richard Laval, center-right, and Bernal Rodríguez, far right, are two top bat researchers in Central America. They are seen here at the Bat Jungle in Monteverde in 2009. Rodríguez is one of the organizers of a bat conference held last week in San José. Laval has studied bats in Costa Rica since 1968. Courtesy of The Bat Jungle Those interested in tourism involving bats can visit The Bat Jungle in Monteverde or the reserve in Tirimbina. Those sites also provide educational outreach for their local communities. Bat Conservation International is the leading organization in helping preserve the animals around the world. They have databases of information on their site and encourage donations of time or money.For Latin America, the “Red Latinoamericana para la Conservación de los Murciélagos” also seeks support. Facebook Comments An image of the great-fruit eating bat, which ranges from Mexico to Bolivia. Researchers consider fruit-eating bats one of the best dispersers of seeds, helping in reforestation. Courtesy of Merlin Tuttle and Bat Conservation International  Opportunities for Central American scientistsJonathan Hernández is a researcher from Honduras and came with another Central American, Arnuflo Medina from Nicaragua. The two said the conference presented a tremendous advantage.“It’s the biggest opportunity,” Hernández said, adding, “We don’t have the opportunity to travel to Africa or the U.S.”For Hernández and Medina, the conference isn’t just an opportunity to meet famous bat researchers, it is the only opportunity to meet specialists.Medina said Nicaragua has no established bat biologists to turn to for guidance. While researchers come to Nicaragua, few stay to disseminate their findings to the local population. Due to this, Medina said, myth such as all bats being vampires persist among many Nicaraguans.“We don’t have any people that study bats; my point was to bring back knowledge and share it with the people,” Medina said.The two said they run workshops in their home countries with small groups of children, and have shown that in a short time they can transform false perceptions.José Cajas and Luis Trujillo came down from Guatemala under similar circumstances.“The great scientists of the world are here, studying bats,” Cajas said. “We don’t normally have the opportunity to speak with them.”The two were presenting research on artificial roosts they created in Guatemala for bats, to see if the fruit-eating bats help accelerate forest regeneration.ThreatsOn the final morning of the conference, bat scientists received a dire lecture from an outsider.Dan Janzen, from the U.S., has been working in the northwestern Costa Rica province of Guanacaste studying plant and animal interactions since 1968. On Thursday, he warned that a failure to involve local residents in the protection of wildlife reserves would result in them ceasing to exist.“The entire system is decaying. If it keeps on like it is, in 50 years there won’t be a national park system,” he told The Tico Times.During his presentation, Janzen stressed the need for biological reserves to provide benefit to local economies, otherwise they would be exploited in other, less environmentally friendly ways. He showed a slide of the book “A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica,” by Gary Stiles, saying it has drawn many tourists to the country.“Birds of Costa Rica has done more for the Costa Rican economy than has any other book published,” Janzen said.Though Costa Rica has many large national parks and reserves, Janzen said many of them are not large enough.“They’re just as dead as if you went today and cut them down with a chainsaw,” Janzen said.The reserve where Janzen works is on Guanacaste’s Pacific coast, in a region biologists consider dry tropical forest. The interior forests are wetter. Janzen explained that species such as the local bats rely on both regions. In the dry season, the bats migrate to the wetter forests where insect populations remain high. However, the reserve where Janzen works has no wet forest reserved, and the bats have to travel across agricultural land to reach such terrain.Researchers at the conference widely cited habitat loss as the No. 1 threat to bat populations.On the issue of climate change Janzen was blunt.“Go to the top of Rincón mountains and take your pictures now,” Janzen said. “All that will be gone.”Janzen explained that as temperatures rise, he has observed wildlife migrating from the hottest lower altitudes up. However, those at the top have nowhere to go, and will get crowded out by invaders from below.Janzen did have some optimism, saying that if wildlife biologists can show governments and the local population that wild areas can be profitable, they will survive. Janzen estimated Costa Rica generated $2 billion a year due to wildlife tourism and study. Richard Laval has been studying bats since he first took a course at La Selva biological station in 1968. La Selva sits in the Braulio Carrillo National Park, in the northern Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Laval has since run the Bat Jungle, an ecological park in the cloud forest paradise of Monteverde, in north-central Costa Rica.He said the park’s bats are one of the primary attractions in Monteverde, bringing tourist and research dollars alike.“I doubt any Latin American country has as many bat biologists as Costa Rica,” Laval said.Laval said that many of the misperceptions remain, even in Costa Rica, which results in local populations directly attacking bats.A newly discovered threat to bats came from one of the most seemingly benign sources — wind energy.Frank Bonaccorso, a bat researcher since 1971, said the effect of windmills on bats is a relatively new field of study.“It’s true that it’s relatively benign compared to coal, but we’re killing eagles, birds, bats,” Bonaccorso said.Bonaccorso said that while windmills may appear to be moving slowly at first glance, the tips of the blades can be moving as fast as 200 miles an hour. Bonaccorso said that in Europe and North America researchers have estimated 800,000 bats have been killed since 2003.Bats die from direct strikes from the blades or from the low air pressure created by their motion, which results in their lungs collapsing. Bonaccorso conceded that wind energy will continue to expand and hoped that further research would lead to bats coexisting with the technology.White-nose syndrome was a popular topic at the conference. Though not a threat to tropical bats, researchers said the new disease has killed millions in North America, and may result in some species going extinct.Mylea Bayless, with Bat Conservation International, said her organization has seen an 88 percent decline in bat numbers in the northeastern U.S. since its discovery in 2006.She explained that the disease, a fungus that loves the cool, dark cave environment, preys upon bats that hibernate over the winter. The disease does not directly kill the bats, but rather awakens them before winter’s end. During hibernation, a bat’s system shuts down to the lowest levels, including the immune system.“Essentially they burn through their fat before the end of the winter and they die,” Bayless said.Normally, bats’ immune systems would combat the fungus.The disease was later discovered in caves in Europe, but was not killing the bats there.“It appears to have been in Europe for a really long time,” Bayless said. “Now it is following that classic pattern of an invasive species.”Bayless said scientists believe the disease first existed in Europe in the mid-2000s, and then spread to North America by cavers or scientists working in both areas.The disease has spread as far west as Oklahoma, according to Bayless. She said her organization suspected the disease would have a hard time finding purchase among tropical bats, who do not have the same life cycle as bats that need to hibernate through a long winter. However, she said it is not impossible for the fungus to arrive.Due to a wide range of diets, many researchers at the conference stressed how important bats are, especially in environments in Central America.Bats play a role in combating insects – not only agriculture pests, but disease carriers, such as mosquitoes. Bats serve as pollinators, seed dispersers and as a form of population control for other animals such as frogs, rats and birds.center_img A face shot of the Honduran white bat. Researchers believe the leaf-nose shape helps in directing the bat’s echolocation. The bat feeds on insects in tropical forests from Honduras to Panamá. Courtesy of Merlin Tuttle and Bat Conservation International  A famous peculiarity of bats is their echolocation. Bats emit high-pitched noises from their mouths or sometimes noses, such as the Honduran white bat, then listen for the sound’s reflection to get a sense of their surroundings.Cori Lausen, from Canada, teaches an acoustics course on bats and has been working with them since 1993. Because people are unable to hear the high-frequency sound of most bat echolocation, researchers have developed gadgets that modify their noises, Lausen explained.“It sounds like a series of clicks,” Lausen said in an interview.In their nighttime hunts, bats can detect insects, trees and other hunting bats with their sonar. However, some of the latest research shows that some bat prey have developed their own sonar in response.Certain moths, one of the juiciest meals an insectivorous bat can find, have their own ability to detect ultrasonic sound waves.“You can jingle keys and create ultrasound and they will drop right out of the air,” Lausen said.Even more, other moths can project their own ultrasound back at the bat, creating what Lausen called a “sonar jamming” that confuses the predators.One of the conference sponsors was a company making the latest gadgets in bat detection, Wildlife Acoustics. Their newest product, premiering at the conference was a small box that could attach to a smartphone or tablet. The box picks up the ultrasonic bat emissions and shows a graphical display of the sound waves on the computer. Users can then look up the call on an Internet database that can identify the bat species by its call.“The idea is to get people excited about backyard batting,” Ian Agranat said in an interview about their products.Gary Kwiecinski, a researcher from Pennsylvania, said he was focusing his latest studies on the intricate and bizarre faces of bats, especially the fruit-eating kind. The strange noses and wrinkles on some bats’ faces are not an accident, Kwiecinski said.“The unusual structure of faces is for determining if food is edible or not,” Kwiecinski said in an interview.Kwiecinski hypothesized that in those folds are receptors for touch and smell. Kwiecinski said their echolocation can also determine texture and softness of fruit.“Bats are in flight so they can’t sit and ponder food,” Kwiecinski said.Making one of the longest journeys to San José, New Zealand researcher Chris O’Donnell said he was also taking advantage of his time in Costa Rica. He said he had done snorkeling, saw humpback whales off the Pacific coast and saw tapirs in Corcovado National Park on southern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula.“I definitely know that I’m in Costa Rica now,” O’Donnell said.At the conference, O’Donnell spoke about bats’ sophisticated behavior.“Some bats spend all day together,” O’Donnell said. “I’ve got bats that have been living together for 10 years.”Because most bat species sleep in groups, sometimes in caves with thousands, they develop complex social interactions, according to researchers.“If you go into a cave at night with 1,000 bats, the mom will fly straight to her child,” O’Donnell said.O’Donnell noted that some bats will assign a female to act as the nurse to the young bats in a colony, while others go outside to hunt. O’Donnell said bats have impressive memory, recalling feeding sites that are 10 kilometers away from their homes.Other researchers, such as Tuttle, noted that bats’ social complexity resembles that of stereotypically intelligent mammals such as dolphins, elephants and humans. Scientists from 50 countries gathered in San José, Costa Rica, this past week for the largest bat conference ever. They discussed cutting-edge research and conservation regarding one of Latin America’s most ecologically important animals.An estimated 650 researchers, professors and community educators gathered at the Wyndham Hotel to hear presentations on new bat species, research on behavior, dire warnings about threats and to learn how to communicate the importance of bats to the public.One of the conference’s key organizers, University of Costa Rica biology professor Bernal Rodríguez, said the conference location was a unique chance to showcase bat diversity and offer opportunities to researchers from Latin America.“Costa Rica has a very high diversity,” Rodríguez said in an interview with The Tico Times. “The most genera in the world.”Genera refers to the scientific classification of organisms, one level above species — the lowest level of classification. This diversity is not merely academic. Bats in Central America have the most diverse diet of any region, feeding on nectar, fruit, insects, fish, birds, mammals and blood. Because of this, bats serve a broad role in maintaining the natural environments of the region.Rodríguez said the diversity is geographic, with Central America serving as an intersection of North and South American bats.This marked the first time Central America had hosted an international bat conference, and it was the largest such conference to date, according to organizers.Rodríguez noted that for up-and-coming researchers from Latin America, the conference marked a unique opening, because those researchers were unable to afford to travel to past conferences in relatively expensive places such as the United States or Europe.“This is the best opportunity to communicate with the top researchers in the world,” Rodríguez said.One such researcher was Eugenia Cordero, who also educates children living near the Tirimbina Biological Reserve in La Virgen de Sarapiquí, Heredia, in the interior north of Costa Rica. Cordero presented her education program, reaching out to schoolchildren living near the reserve, with a focus on the Honduran white bat.She said the program uses the thumb-sized, leaf-dwelling bat to eradicate widely-held misconceptions.“People don’t know that bats are mammals — either they [think bats] are birds or creatures that aren’t even considered animals,” Cordero said.She said students can find the bats roosting in the leaves of heliconia plants within a two-minute walk from the station’s entrance. The bats chew through leaves, causing them to droop and make a tent-like structure. They roost in small groups of one male with a harem of females, according to researchers. The bats do not flee from a light disturbance, or from children coming to see them.Cordero said she takes 500 students a year to see the bats.“Scientists normally work in the field, but for conservation you have to work with the public,” Cordero said.One of the stars of bat biology that many came to meet was Rodrigo Medellín, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who has spent about 40 years studying bats and their environments.Medellín said that every year scientists are getting a better understanding of the role bats play in their environment, which can have direct benefits for humans. Massive colonies of cave-dwelling bats, with numbers into the millions, are responsible for destroying 10 tons of insects every night, according to Medellín. This has profound effect on agriculture. Medellín said current research estimated $1 million in savings for every 10,000 acres of a crop such as cotton, due to the bats acting as a natural pesticide.Medellín said that the agriculture industry will continue to owe a debt to bats, even as cutting-edge pesticides and genetically modified crops are developed. Currently companies like Monsanto have produced genetically-modified plants that produce their own insecticides. However, research presented at the conference showed that insects, with their vast numbers and short life-cycles, can produce rapid resistance.The bats, however, are a fail-safe tool for agribusiness. Most insect pests on plants are problematic in their young or larval stages. Those that survive the pesticides into adulthood will fail to reproduce in great quantities if colonies of airborne insect-hungry mammals are nearby. Thus, the insects will fail to pass on their resistant genes in great quantities, according to Medellín. “In 10, 20 years time, Monsanto even is going to be thanking the bats,” Medellín said.The vampire bat, a blood-feeding bat that lives in Mexico and Central America, has been a problem for the image of bat conservation. Medellín lamented that the public retains the misconception that all bats feed on blood, especially when only three of the more than 100 species in the area are vampiric.Medellín said his passion for bats started when he was a 12-year-old contestant on a Mexican television game show called “The 64,000 Peso Challenge.” The show resembles “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” but with the caveat that the contestant chooses the trivia topic. Medellín said he chose mammals and had a streak of success lasting six weeks. This drew the attention of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, which invited the young Medellín to their field research on bats.“I never looked back really,” Medellín said of his long career. A Linnaeus’ false vampire bat holding a bird. The bat ranges from Mexico to Brazil and Ecuador. It is one of the larger bats, weighing up to 190 grams. Courtesy of Merlin Tuttle and Bat Conservation International  No related posts.last_img read more

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Caught in the act After turtle poacher fails to appear in court

first_imgPolice arrested two men suspected of killing an endangered green sea turtle in Parismina, a fishing village on the northern Caribbean coast, on Tuesday. Law enforcement officials found the two men in a boat with a gutted mother turtle who appears to have been full of eggs.On an order from a local judge, police and Coast Guard officials went to look for one of the suspects, with the last name Chavarría, after he failed to appear in court for a previous turtle-poaching charge. As officers arrived at Chavarría’s home, they found the suspect approaching in a boat, along with a second man with the last name Madriz. The boat was full of poached turtle meat and eggs.Police seized more than 165 pounds of turtle meat and 200 eggs – 100 of them fully formed. Half of the eggs were sent to a local hatchery were it is hoped they will hatch in two months. One of the turtle’s flippers had an ID tag, indicating the turtle had been part of a study. Police sent the tag to the Environment Ministry to determine its origin.Both Chavarría and Madriz were taken to the Siquirres Prosecutor’s Office where they will be charged with violating several of the country’s wildlife management laws. The suspects could be sentenced to up to three years in prison if convicted. Related posts:PHOTOS: Authorities seize 442 turtle eggs in 2 days Police find 9,400 sea turtle eggs in car trunk outside Nicoya Costa Rican police arrest 3 for harpooning sea turtles  Costa Rica’s police capture four men suspected of killing green sea turtles (Courtesy of the Public Security Ministry) (Courtesy of the Public Security Ministry) (Courtesy of the Public Security Ministry) Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Costa Ricas world boxing champions win fights on the same night

first_imgRelated posts:Boxing: Nicaragua’s ‘Chocolatito’ González, from garbage collector to flyweight champ TV exec made Mayweather-Pacquiao bout possible Costa Rican boxer Tiquito Vásquez shoots for world title in Brooklyn Tica champion Hanna Gabriels to defend WBO title against Kali Reis Tico boxers Bryan “El Tiquito” Vásquez and Hanna Gabriels — husband and wife — on Saturday night both won their respective fights in Mexico and Puerto Rico.Gabriels (13-1, 9 KOs), who took time off from boxing to give birth to the couple’s first daughter, took the World Boxing Organization’s World Female Light Middleweight title by a technical knockout against Mexican Paty “Elegante” Ramírez (10-1, 5 KOs), just 36 seconds into the second round of a fight held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at 7:30 p.m. Costa Rica time.Two hours later in Quintana Roo, Mexico, her husband, “Tiquito” Vásquez (33-1, 17 KOs), also won his fight by a technical knockout against Mexican Sergio “Yeyo” Thompson (30-3, 26 KOs).Thompson refused to come out in the ninth round, following eight rounds clearly dominated by strong and fast punches by Tiquito.The fight, set to 12 rounds, was Vásquez’s fifth defense of the interim World Boxing Association (WBA) Super featherweight (130 pounds) crown he won in San José in 2011. He has since held the interim WBA crown in 2011 and 2012, and most recently in 2013, when he defeated Rene González.Last April, Tiquito won his fourth straight defense, handing José Félix Jr. his first professional loss via unanimous decision.Despite winning the fight, the crown will be vacant as Vásquez prior to the fight registered a weight of 133 pounds. He will have to fight again to regain his title. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Big waves expected to hit Costa Ricas southern Pacific beaches over the

first_imgRelated posts:Big waves expected at Costa Rica’s central Pacific beaches this weekend Surf’s up: Caribbean beaches to see large waves over the weekend Oceanographers forecast strong waves, rip tides along Costa Rica’s Pacific shores starting Thursday Big waves expected at Costa Rica’s northern Pacific, Caribbean beaches An intense storm currently affecting Pacific waters in the Southern Hemisphere will cause big swells along Costa Rica’s coastline starting Saturday.The weather phenomenon will generate powerful waves up to 3.3 meters (11 feet) high that will hit beaches mostly in the southern Pacific region.Omar Lizano Rodríguez, an oceanographer with the University of Costa Rica’s Center for Research in Marine Sciences and Limnology (CIMAR), said beaches in the central and northern Pacific regions will also see substantial waves — up to 2 meters (6.7 ft) high.The National Emergency Commission is urging residents and beachgoers to be cautious.“Waves off the coast of [the city of] Puntarenas will reach up to 2 meters height but likely will grow to 2.4 meters (8 feet) by the time they reach the coast,” Lizano said.The waves are also likely to generate rip currents, which are very dangerous for bathers along the shores, CIMAR’s report adds.Waves at Cocos Island will reach 2.1 meters (7 feet) both Saturday and Sunday, with stronger breaks at Wafer Bay.Experts say the increased swells will not substantially affect tides, but they advise caution for swimmers and small boats during high tides, expected from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.Waves are expected to start dying down starting Tuesday, according to CIMAR’s forecast. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Costa Rican court upholds gay rights in professional associations

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica grants first gay common-law marriage in Central America Casa Presidencial presents gay common-law marriage bill Argentine baby’s 3 parents ‘very proud’ of legal first Costa Rica’s changing definition of family hits cookie commercial Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, quietly upheld a decision recognizing the rights of gay and lesbian couples last week. The decision, announced on April 30, ruled that the Costa Rican Doctors and Surgeons Association discriminated against gay and lesbian members by refusing to let them sponsor their same-sex partners for membership at the association’s recreational facilities.The ruling upheld a previous decision in 2014 regarding a similar injunction. The plaintiff in that case against the Attorneys Association, Yashín Castrillo, said the decision marked a turning point for gay rights in the Costa Rican legal system.The couple, whose name was not listed in the release from the Sala IV, filed a lawsuit before the court requesting an injunction against the Doctors Association when the organization did not grant the gay member’s partner access to the facilities.Sala IV justices said in their April 30 decision that the Doctors Association board violated the couple’s right to equal treatment and discriminated against them on the grounds of their sexual orientation, according to a statement released by the court.In August 2014, the Sala IV voted in favor of lawyer and LGBT activist Yashín Castrillo when he brought a similar lawsuit against the Attorneys Association for denying his partner membership to that organization’s recreational facilities. The Sala IV upheld that decision in this latest case.“The same would happen if it were the Accountants Association or the [Federated Association of Engineers and Architects]; any professional association is obligated to recognize the same rights for homosexual couples in the association as their heterosexual members,” said Castrillo, who advised the couple in their lawsuit against the Doctors Association.Julián Solano, legal adviser for the Doctors Association, told The Tico Times that the association’s board would respect the Sala IV decision but disputed the court’s characterization of how the board treated the gay couple.Solano said that the association’s previous policy only granted access to its facilities for doctors and surgeons, their children, husbands or wives and parents. The association did not have a policy governing co-habitating couples, regardless if they were gay or heterosexual. Because there was no provision governing common law marriages on the books for heterosexual or homosexual couples, Solano said the policy was not aimed at gays or lesbians and therefore not discriminatory.According to Solano, the Doctors Association publicly changed its membership policy on Feb. 18 to allow members to sponsor their partner in a common law marriage, regardless of their partner’s sex, if they have co-habitated for at least three years.“This is the direction that the country is headed in,” Solano said.“This was a voluntary decision by the board and we do not agree that it was a discriminatory act. We were only complying with our existing rules,” he said.Costa Rica does not recognize legal same-sex relationships – including civil unions – common law marriages or marriage. Solano did not specify how or if a gay or lesbian member’s partner would be able to access the association’s facilities under the previous policy.Solano said that the Doctors Association was notified of the couple’s lawsuit at the end of 2014. He conceded that the lawsuit may have played a role in the association’s decision to change its membership policy but stopped short of saying that the court forced the association to take action.Castrillo doubted the Doctors Association’s story. He claimed that before the lawsuit was filed, the results of Sala IV’s August 2014 decision against the Attorneys Association were presented to the Doctors Association board, but the group refused to comply. The Doctors Association may have changed its policy before Sala IV issued its decision last week, but Castrillo opined that Sala IV’s precedent from the previous case was the reason for the change.The August 2014 decision against the Attorneys Association policy was among several victories for the LGBT community in Costa Rica since President Luis Guillermo Solís took office in May 2014. In the last year, Costa Rica as seen several moves by the government in favor of the LGBT community, including raising a rainbow flag over Casa Presidencial and the Costa Rican Social Security System’s decision to grant insurance benefits to same-sex couples.During his State of the Nation address, President Luis Guillermo Solís told lawmakers that it was an “ethical and moral obligation” to take up a stalled bill to legalize same-sex civil unions.“This was the first time that the Constitutional Chamber recognized that it was illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and ordered a professional organization to treat same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples,” Castrillo said of the August decision. “It changed the legal panorama of the family in Costa Rica.” Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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BMW profits rise on SUVs strong sales in UK US

first_img Sponsored Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies The X-series of SUVs and SUV-like crossovers, pricey vehicles that generate strong profit margins, continued to boost earnings as many customers in the U.S. move up to more expensive cars. The X-5 sport-utility made in Spartanburg, South Carolina, saw sales rise 30 percent compared with the year-ago period.Significantly, Munich-based BMW said Wednesday it maintained its high profit margin of 9.5 percent, near the upper end of its target range of 8-10 percent.Revenues rose 15 percent to 20.917 billion euros.BMW AG leads Volkswagen AG’s Audi division and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz brand in the sales race among high-priced car makers. The company also makes Rolls-Royce and MINI cars.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober FILE- In this file photo dated Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, the logo of German car manufacturer BMW is pictured on a BMW i3 electric drive car at the production line in Dingolfing, Germany. The world’s leading maker of premium cars by volume, BMW is scheduled to report first-quarter business results on Wednesday May 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FILE) Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Top Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — German luxury carmaker BMW increased its profits in the first quarter thanks to strong demand for its expensive SUVs and higher sales in the U.S. and Britain as well as in a recovering European market.Net profit rose 4 percent compared with the same period last year, to 1.515 billion euros ($1.70 billion), the company said Wednesday.Vehicle sales rose across all major markets for the world’s top-selling maker of high-priced cars. The company saw especially big increases of 15 percent in Britain and 13 percent in the United States during the quarter. Sales grew 10 percent in Europe; the auto market there continues to recover as the countries that use the euro currency slowly heal from their crisis over too much government and bank debt.last_img read more

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Wolgan Valleys environmental commitment shines at the Leading Hotels

first_imgWolgan Valley Resort & Spa Source = Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa / Leading Hotels of the World Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa has affirmed its position as a world-class conservation-based luxury landmark being honoured with the Commitment to Excellence Award at the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World Awards.Presented in Tokyo at the 2010 Annual Convention of The Leading Hotels of the World, the distinguished awards recognise those hotels whose programs in sustainability, community outreach and cultural support, enrich the experience of their guests, and benefit the world at large.  As Australia’s first conservation-based luxury resort, Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa was honoured with the overall Commitment to Excellence Award, as well as winning the Environment category, for its innovation and dedication to sustainable practices; and for the active protection, regeneration and conservation programs for the wildlife and flora in its surrounding locale.“It is a tremendous honour just over one year after opening, to be recognised for our commitment to protect Wolgan Valley; a destination that is one of the most naturally beautiful and unique locations in the world,” said Joost Heymeijer, General Manager, Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa. “Sustainability and protection of the environment is no longer an optional concept in this industry; and we commend our colleagues who are making contributions to become more socially and environmentally responsible.”  “We look forward to many more prosperous years to come; and to continue to offer travellers new and experiential luxury that is driven by an extraordinary location, outstanding conservation values and first-class service,” concluded Mr Heymeijer. Not only has Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa received several accolades in its first year of operation, its valued partners have also been recognised in their industries for their outstanding and instrumental work in the development of the resort. Following their Wolgan Valley project entry at the 2010 Master Builders Excellence in Construction Awards, the resort’s construction company Hansen Yuncken was recently named Australia’s National Commercial Master Builder of the Year; while the resort’s architecture firm Turner + Associates Architects was awarded Winner at the 2010 Australian Timber Design Awards in three categories including Commercial Sustainable Design, Resorts and Environmental Commitment.   The 1832 Heritage Homestead which has been meticulously restored to its original state. There is a strong link toCharles Darwin visiting the Homestead in 1836 during histrip to Australia. Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa’s MainHomestead and Swimming Poollast_img read more

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Add a little advertising with your Oprah TA

first_imgQantas, Tourism Australia (TA) and other tourism operators are planning to bombard the US with advertising to accompany the Oprah Winfrey episodes filmed on her recent trip down under. While Qantas’ “walkabout” packages target Americans with limited vacation time, Tourism Australia said it will launch an AU$5 million marketing campaign aimed at younger tourists, The Herald Sun reported. Tourism Australia said it would accompany the episodes, set to run later this month in the US, with promotional information highlighting the Australian working holiday visa available to under 30’s. The tourism authority added that it would prepare other campaigns to run in conjunction with the Oprah Winfrey Show in other countries including Britain, New Zealand and Canada. “The Oprah screenings provide an unprecedented opportunity to showcase the best of our country to people in Australia and many of the other 145 countries where the show will be broadcast,” Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said.According to the source Tourism Australia spent up to AU$4-AU$5 million to bring Oprah and her 300 guests to Australia. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

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Qantas staff reject safety video

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Qantas flight crew are said to not be the biggest fans of the airline’s latest safety video, which stars Hollywood veteran John Travolta. Staff described the in-flight video as “cringe worthy” because the actor called the crew a ‘team’ and even said a more suitable pilot to welcome Qantas passengers would be Captain Richard de Crespigny, who stopped the A380 plane from crashing over Singapore last year, The Sunday Telegraph reported. According to the source, flight attendants have shared their opinions anonymously in an online forum, with one stating that the video was “corny [and] tacky”.”We feel it’s demeaning to be called ‘the team,’” one staff member said.”It makes us feel like we work at McDonald’s.” However, despite the negative online chatter a Qantas spokesperson told the source that the airline had only receive positive feedback from staff.”We’re really happy with the video and we think it’s really engaging,” the spokesperson said. What do you think, should Qantas have replaced Hollywood with a hero?last_img read more

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Club Med to shut Lindemans doors

first_imgClub Med has ceased forward bookings for after January 2012 at its Lindeman Island resort in the Whitsundays Islands after releasing plans it will close the resort’s doors before February next year.Putting the property up on the market, the Group announced yesterday it had appointed CBRE Hotels QLD to commence discussions with potential buyers and stressed it would continue to search for new property locations across Australia.“It was an extremely difficult decision for Club Med to make, as the Resort is a firm favourite with our Australian and New Zealand guests,” Club Med Australia and New Zealand general manager Quentin Briard said.“But our on-going research shows that more and more, our guests want our new premium all-inclusive product, and Lindeman’s 3 Trident status (the only one in Asia Pacific) was not in that category.“So in order to meet our customer’s expectations, we have to now seek a new resort in Australia.”The Group added that its number one priority was ensuring its employees were assisted in finding employment on neighbouring islands and said GOs would be moved to other resorts around the world. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

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Bucket List campaign to highlight diversity of South Africa

first_imgSouth Africa is on most Australian travellers’ bucket lists, and if it isn’t, it should be. This was the basic message that South African Tourism hoped to convey at last night’s South Africa Tourism Roadshow in Sydney. To this end, South African Tourism will launch on 1 November, a new interactive App on its Facebook page inviting travel agents and consumers alike to create and tick off from their bucket lists the diverse destinations and offerings of the Rainbow Nation.  South African Tourism General Manager, Australasia, Lalie Ngozi told audience members that despite the fact “everybody” had a bucket list, not everyone knew that you could tick most of those experiences off in South Africa.Through its various initiatives, Ms Ngozi said South African Tourism itself came to realize that “at least 60 to 70 percent” of what travellers wanted from their bucket lists “they could do in South Africa”. “This campaign is aimed at showcasing the huge variety of activities on offer in South Africa and the App invites consumers to create their own Bucket List, share it with friends, and ultimately win the opportunity to travel to South Africa to tick off their Bucket List items.”Speaking to e-Travel Blackboard at the event, Ms Ngozi was quick to highlight South African Tourism’s wholesale partners, with whom they consulted on the initiative. “It’s been a collaboration between our trade partners and ourselves, where we’ve looked at the Bucket List items that we feel anybody would want to have and then we said ‘let’s look at your packages’ and let’s make sure they speak to these and make sure these things are included in your packages,” she said. “The industry has understood and supported us and we think we’re going to be presenting much more exciting stuff for people than we have done before.” Former Wallaby captain George Gregan, South African Tourism General Manager, Australasia, Lalie Ngozi and actor Frankie J. Holden  Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

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Australian tourism sector continues its record breaking run

first_imgAustralian tourism sector continues its record breaking runA record number of travelers have visited Australia over the past year, signaling the continued rise of the tourism sector as a jobs and wealth-generating juggernaut.TTF Chief Executive Margy Osmond welcomed the latest ABS Overseas Arrivals figures released today, which show that 8.5 million people travelled to Australia over the 12 months to April 2017, an increase of 9.5 per cent on the previous April.“The Australian tourism industry continues its record breaking run of international visitor arrivals, confirming its importance as our next super-growth sector,” Ms Osmond said.“While the rise and rise of Chinese visitors sees China poised to overtake New Zealand as our largest single visitor source market by the end of the year, it is the resurgence of the USA visitor market that is shaking up the tourism sector.“The USA recorded a 14.9 per cent rise in international visitors, overshadowing our other traditional visitor market, the UK, which saw a 3.1 per cent increase.“New Zealand continues to be our largest market, with 1,355,700 visitors, but has again recorded the lowest growth of the top 10 markets at just 2.8 per cent. The strongest growth was achieved by South Korea (291,600 visitors, up 15.9 per cent), followed by India (270,900, up 15.8 per cent).“These figures are fantastic news for our booming visitor economy. Not only are more and more people are choosing to visit Australia for their holidays, for business or to visit family and friends, but the record breaking growth shows no signs of slowing.” TTFSource = Tourism & Transport Forum Australialast_img read more

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