Agents give from their hearts on recent Cuba fam with Transat

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Agents give from their hearts on recent Cuba fam with Transat Wednesday, December 21, 2016 Posted by Tags: Cuba, Transatcenter_img Travelweek Group MONTREAL — Transat is extending a big thank you to all the travel agents who participated in its recent fam trip to Cayo Santa Maria. Agents donated plenty of school supplies for young children, helping two schools in this region.Transat along with its destination partners, MINTUR and Gaviota asked participating agents to lend the Cuban community a helping hand. The collected supplies were distributed to the following two schools in Remedios, a small city that is home to many Cubans working at Cayo Santa Maria hotels: Circulo Infantil Luca del Valle (a daycare) and Escuela Primera Mártires de Barbados (primary school).“Transat would like to thank the travel agents, who, as always, showed tremendous generosity,” says Annick Guérard, President and General Manager of Transat Tours Canada. “With their enthusiasm and commitment to such initiatives, they help contribute to our efforts in responsible tourism.”The Transat fam drew more than 150 travel agents from Quebec and Ontario to Cayo Santa Maria, to show them an idyllic Sun destination and visit several of the must-see resorts in the region. Participants got a taste of Cuban hospitality at Valentin Perla Blanca, Warwick Cayo Santa Maria, Ocean Casa del Mar and Meliá Buenavista. Sharelast_img read more

TPI Chairmans Circle agents sail the Mekong on AmaDara 2018 trip to

first_img PHNOM PENH — Travel Professionals International’s fourth annual Chairman’s Circle trip brought 15 of TPI’s top producing agents to Vietnam and Cambodia for an AmaWaterways cruise on the Mekong River.Hosted by TPI CEO and President, Morris Chia, the trip rewarded the exceptional performance of the invited agents and allowed them to experience AmaWaterways – one of TPI’s preferred suppliers – first-hand. The seven-night river cruise aboard the AmaDara, sailing the ‘Vietnam, Cambodia, & the Riches of the Mekong’ itinerary, was part of an all-expenses paid trip for the agents.The cruise started in Ho Chi Minh City and then it was on to Phnom Penh and further up the Mekong and beyond to the renowned Angkor temples, including Angkor Wat, known as the largest religious monument in the world. The cruise focused on the historical, cultural and ecological riches of the Mekong River. Next year’s Chairman’s Circle trip will be a cruise with Crystal Cruises, said Chia.More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaOne of the highlights of this year’s sailing was an excursion through a Cambodian village known as Kon Chen, for a visit to a primary school and participation with a Grade 3 class learning to speak English. Impressed and moved by the enthusiasm and determination of the children, Chia on behalf of TPI offered to finance English lessons for 30 children. The agents took Chia up on his offer to match any additional financial commitments for the children’s education they could make.“AmaWaterways is thrilled to once again to have hosted the TPI team of top travel advisors for this very prestigious event,” said Kristin Karst, AmaWaterways Executive Vice President and Co-Owner. “Our strong relationship with TPI continues to grow each year and this year, we showcased Southeast Asia and our beautiful ship, AmaDara, to this exceptional group of TPI travel advisors.”Chia said it was “truly my honour to have hosted our top achievers for this once-in-a-lifetime voyage as we recognize their commitment to success.” The TPI Chairman’s Circle trip is part of TPI’s larger Velocity travel advisor recognition program and recognizes the successes of TPI’s highest-producing travel advisors. Travelweek Group TPI Chairman’s Circle agents sail the Mekong on AmaDara; 2018 trip to be hosted by Crystal Cruises Posted bycenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, May 9, 2017 last_img read more

Egypt upset at latest US travel warning

first_img Source: The Associated Press << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Tags: Egypt, Travel Alert CAIRO — Egypt has expressed “discontent’” over the latest U.S. travel warning to the Mideast country, saying the notice makes a false distinction between terrorist groups and violent political organizations.Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ahmed Abu Zeid, said on Thursday that the wording of the travel advisory was dissatisfactory.He says it is “unacceptable” to distinguish between violent political and militants since any group that uses violence is a terrorist one _ a reference to the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.The U.S. advisory on Wednesday urges Americans to consider the risks of travel to Egypt.It came just days after a series of militant attacks, including a blitz in Sinai that killed 23 Egyptian soldiers and a stabbing attack on foreign tourists that killed two German women at a Red Sea resort. Friday, July 21, 2017 Egypt upset at latest U.S. travel warninglast_img read more

Kenya Tourist Board extends a warm jambo to Canadian trade

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Share Posted by Kenya Tourist Board extends a warm ‘jambo’ to Canadian trade Travelweek Group TORONTO — Despite violent post-election protests that erupted across the country earlier this month, and a new election looming on Oct. 17, Kenya remains open to tourists and is focused on promoting the destination as more than just a safari hotspot.This was the message that was conveyed at an industry luncheon hosted by the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) on Sept. 8 in Toronto. “This luncheon comes at a very important time in Kenyan history,” said Jane Onsongo, Deputy Head of Mission. “Please tell your clients that there is no cause for alarm.”To emphasize the point further, Onsongo noted that the Kenyan government has dedicated approximately 15% of the country’s budget towards security, intensifying ground and aerial patrols and implementing security checks at all entry points. The Tourism Police Unit (TPU) has also increased its presence in major tourism areas like Mombasa and Nairobi, particularly in shopping malls, airports, hotels and public areas.Aside from security, the government has dedicated much of its resources towards improving infrastructure and building its economy. The new Isiolo Airport, for example, is set to open in the Samburu region, which has long been a highlight of the Kenya safari circuit. The Jomo Kanyatta airport now boasts a new terminal for arrivals and departures, with other terminals currently being upgraded and a second runway in the works, all of which will lead to a 12% annual traffic growth, or 25 million passengers by the year 2025.More news:  Flights cancelled as British Airways hit by computer problemAnother major improvement is the launch of the new Thika Super highway that connects Northern, Central and Eastern parts of the country. An additional ferry from Mombasa to the south coast has been added, roads to national parks are being improved, and a new high-speed SRG train from Nairobi to Mombasa has cut travel time down to 4.5 hours, compared to the previous eight-hour journey.As far as hotels go, there’s plenty for travellers to be excited about. Malindi, Billionaire Resort by Italian billionaire Flavio is situated in the Malindi Marine Park and Reserve, considered ‘Africa’s Oldest Marine Park’, and offers butler service, a private beach and ultra-luxe, fully-furnished apartments. The Richard Branson-owned Mahali Mzuri hotel in the Maasai Mara is also worth mentioning for its 12 glamourous safari tents that come with ensuite bathrooms and private decks. Meanwhile, international hotel brands like Four Points by Sheraton, Park Inn by Radisson, Kempinski Villa Rosa, Radisson Blu and Best Western in Nairobi are quickly making their presence known across the country.Even more exciting for tourists, the government of Kenya has launched a new online application for visas. Visitors also have the option to receive a visa upon arrival. Plus, children under 16 years old can now enter the country without a visa, making it easier – and more attractive – for families to plan a visit.All this development is paying off in spades. According to Onsongo, the country saw a 6.8% increase in revenue and inbound tourist arrivals from 2015-2016. Canadian visitor arrivals have increased 14%, while globally, Kenya has seen an impressive 16% uptick in tourism arrivals. In addition, the country now boasts the ninth largest economy in Africa and has been named the best destination for foreign direct investment in the continent.More news:  Le Boat has EBBs along with its new 2020 brochureLong regarded as one of Africa’s top sellers and a major luxury safari destination, Kenya remains dedicated to wildlife management and conservation. The government recently passed a new wildlife law that enforces fines of 20 million Kshs for poaching.But the country is about more than just its safaris, said Onsongo. It’s quickly becoming known as an adventure hotspot; it was the first destination to offer Stand Up Paddle (SUP) tours with dolphins, available on the Watamu Coast. There are also high altitude training camps in the Great Rift Valley that are attracting international athletes and ‘super runners’, not to mention kite surfing along the coast and deep sea fishing in the Indian Ocean. Kenya also offers a year-long calendar of festivals and events that focus on yoga, marathons, food and more.To help travel agents sell the destination more effectively, KTB’s Kenya Authorized Travel Specialist (KATS) Program is a valuable resource. Currently available in the U.S., it’s divided into three chapters: Introduction to Kenya; Tourism Infrastructure; and Selling Kenya. The program will soon be coming to Canada. Monday, September 11, 2017 last_img read more

Earn more commission with TravelBrands throughout November

first_imgEarn more commission with TravelBrands throughout November Travelweek Group Tags: Commission, TravelBrands Posted by Sharecenter_img MISSISSAUGA — TravelBrands has announced extra commission for agents until Nov. 30.Agents who book hotel stays or Travel Genie packages will receive 3% extra bonus commission. For any car rental bookings made, agents will receive 15% commission.This offer is valid on new bookings made for travel at any time. The bonus commission will be added to the agent’s file after the promotion has ended. To earn commissions, book at travelbrandsaccess.com. Monday, November 6, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Transport Canada is banning baby powder on planes but allowing small knives

first_img Friday, November 10, 2017 OTTAWA — Under new regulation changes effective later this month, airline passengers will be able to carry some small knives on most flights, but baby powder will be banned.Transport Canada says knife blades up to six centimetres – about the size of a large paper clip – will be allowed on domestic and most international flights.Blades of any length will continue to be banned on U.S. flights while razor blades and box cutters of any size will remain prohibited on all flights.Another change will prohibit certain powders and granular material with a volume of 350 millilitres – the size of a soda can – or more.Prohibited materials include items such as bath salts, sea salt, baby powder, foot powder, cooking powder and sand. Baby formula, protein powder, tea and coffee will still be permitted in any quantity.Transport Canada says the adjustments – which are effective Nov. 27 – reflect changes in the security environment and are needed to harmonize with international standards.More news:  Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is back“These changes to screening procedures will bring Canada in line with international standards and our partner countries, while continuing to keep passengers safe,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a release. Share Transport Canada is banning baby powder on planes, but allowing small knives The Canadian Press center_img Posted by Tags: Canada << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

MSC Cruises takes delivery of MSC Seaside signs orders for two more

first_img Thursday, November 30, 2017 Share << Previous PostNext Post >> MSC Cruises takes delivery of MSC Seaside, signs orders for two more ships Tags: MSC Cruisescenter_img Posted by Travelweek Group MONFALCONE, ITALY — MSC Cruises officially took delivery of its new flagship MSC Seaside at a recent ceremony in Italy. The Seaside is the cruise line’s second newly-built ship to come into service in 2017, and is being hailed as a completely new prototype of innovative ship building and design.With a guest capacity of 5,119, MSC Seaside will homeport in Miami and begin sailing in the Caribbean where it will call at various ports in the East and West Caribbean. Its sister ship MSC Seaview will come into service in June 2018, starting its summer season in the Mediterranean.During the delivery ceremony, MSC Cruises and ship-building company Fincantieri also signed orders for the construction of two Seaside EVO ships, for a total investment of €1.8 billion. The initial slot reservation agreement to build a third Seaside Class ship to be delivered in 2021 has been replaced to instead build the first of two Seaside EVO ships. The second ship is set to come into service in 2023.More news:  Flights cancelled as British Airways hit by computer problem“As we are nearing the end of 2017, we can look back on a year when we enjoyed unprecedented capacity growth. With two of the more innovative new ships in the industry having come into service in the past six months and now with the addition of two Seaside EVO ships to our investment plan, we are now even better positioned to further extend our global footprint. We are expecting the delivery of at least one new ship each year through 2026, with six to have come into service between 2017 and 2020,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises.With the addition of these new ships, the Company’s already industry-unprecedented investment plan will now account for 12 new ships to be built between 2017 and 2026, for an overall investment of EUR 10.5 billion.last_img read more

130 departures 20 cruisetours with Princess Cruises 2018 Alaska lineup

first_img CLARITA, CA — Sailing more guests to Alaska than any other cruise line, Princess Cruises has kicked off the start of its 2018 Alaska cruise season with seven ships including the newly upgraded Golden Princess.Princess has 130 Alaska departures from Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Whittier, AK. In addition Princess offers 22 cruisetour options in 2018, most featuring multiple nights at Princess-owned and operated wilderness lodges to experience Denali. Guests will once again be able to purchase a pre-paid meal package for the land portion of their vacation in 2018.Highlights include Princess’ ‘North to Alaska’ program, featuring the line’s ‘Cook My Catch’, allowing guests to return from select Princess fishing excursions to have the chef prepare their catch of the day. Another popular draw is ‘Puppies in the Piazza’, where real Alaska sled dog puppies are brought onboard in Skagway for guests to interact with.Guests venturing into the interior of Alaska on a Princess cruisetour visiting Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge will be some of the first to visit the lodge’s newest addition: a wilderness treehouse.More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at sea“This year our guests will be delighted by the newly designed guest experiences highlighting the history of Alaska and its people that adds a unique layer to an already unbelieve cruise vacation,” says Princess Cruises VP Lisa Syme.Princess is also debuting a new dining venue at the line’s Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge, called Rod & Reel. The restaurant renovation is the latest enhancement to the lodge located on the Kenai Peninsula, and will offer new menu items for both lunch and dinner.The cruise line is also showing off its newly updated Princess-owned rail cars operating on the Alaska railroad, taking travellers between the cruise ship and Princess Wilderness Lodges on the line’s Direct-to-the-Wilderness rail service. The rail journey now features forward-facing seats in the upper level dome for all guests, as well as updated interiors. Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Tags: Princess Cruisescenter_img 130 departures, 20+ cruisetours with Princess Cruises’ 2018 Alaska lineup Tuesday, May 1, 2018 Travelweek Group last_img read more

Twin wildfires near Athens kill 20 gut vacation resorts

first_img ATHENS – Gale-fanned wildfires raged through holiday resorts near Greece’s capital, killing at least 20 people by early Tuesday and injuring more than 104, including 11 in serious condition, in the deadliest blaze to hit the country in more than a decade.Greece sought international help through the European Union as the fires on either side of Athens left lines of cars torched, charred farms and forests, and sent hundreds of people racing to beaches to be evacuated by navy vessels, yachts and fishing boats.Winds reached 80 kph (50 mph) as authorities deployed the country’s entire fleet of water-dropping planes and helicopters to give vacationers time to escape. Military drones remained in the air in the high winds to help officials direct more than 600 firefighters below.“We were unlucky. The wind changed and it came at us with such force that it razed the coastal area in minutes,” said Evangelos Bournous, mayor of the port town of Rafina, a sleepy mainland port that serves Greek holiday islands.More news:  Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthThe dock area became a makeshift hospital as paramedics checked survivors when they came off coast guard vessels and private boats. The operation continued through the night.The fire posed no immediate threat to Greece’s famed ancient monuments, but as it raged inland children’s’ summer camps and holiday homes were hastily abandoned. Fleeing drivers clogged highways into Athens, hampering the firefighting effort.It was the deadliest fire season to hit Greece in more than a decade. More than 60 people were killed in 2007 when huge fires swept across the southern Peloponnese region.“It’s a difficult night for Greece,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said after flying back to Athens from a trip to Bosnia that was cut short.Authorities said Cyprus and Spain offered assistance after the request for EU help was made.Greek Fire Service officials issued public pleas for residents in fire-affected areas to comply with evacuation orders and not stay on in an effort trying to save their homes.More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaRafina’s mayor said he believed about 100 houses in that area had burned. The fire service was not able to confirm the figure.Showers that passed over the Greek capital Monday missed the two big fires _ one at Rafina, 30 kilometres (18 miles) to the east, and the other at Kineta, 55 kilometres (35 miles) to the west. Heavy rain is forecast across southern Greece on Wednesday. Tags: Athens, Fire, Greece Twin wildfires near Athens kill 20, gut vacation resorts By: The Associated Press Share Tuesday, July 24, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

2X ACVME points for booking Sandos properties with ACV

first_img2X ACV&ME points for booking Sandos properties with ACV Tags: Air Canada Vacations, Sandos Hotels & Resorts Share Travelweek Group Friday, September 28, 2018 center_img Posted by MONTREAL — Agents can earn 2X ACV&ME points with Air Canada Vacations when booking a package or a group to any Sandos Hotels & Resorts for travel until January 31, 2019.The promotion kicked off Sept. 24 and runs until Oct. 7, 2018, and offers:2X 600 points per room for flight-inclusive packages of 7 nights or more2X 400 points per room for flight-inclusive packages of 3 to 6 nights2X 300 points for every passenger of a groupParticipating resorts are Sandos Cancun Lifestyle Resort; Sandos Caracol Eco Resort; Sandos Palm Bay Playacar; Sandos Playacar Beach Resort; and Sandos Finisterra Los Cabos.With ACV&ME agents who book hotels and groups receive 600 points per room for packages of 7+ nights; 400 points per room for packages of 3-6 nights and 300 points per passenger for Group bookings. ACV&ME loyalty points can be redeemed for Aeroplan Miles, travel vouchers or Visa gift cards. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla to meet with Honduras Porfirio Lobo

first_imgCosta Rican President Laura Chinchilla and Honduran President Porfirio Lobo will hold a working meeting in the Costa Rican capital on Thursday at the Foreign Ministry, Communications Minister Francisco Chacón said.Chinchilla and Lobo will discuss a bilateral, regional and international agenda, including the process of regional integration, and the terms under which Costa Rica will assume the presidency of the Central American Integration System in 2013.They will also discuss Costa Rica’s role in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, as Costa Rica is also set to chair that organization in 2014.The agenda also includes the analysis of mechanisms to strengthen cooperation on security and sustainable, rural and community tourism.Lobo will arrive in Costa Rica on Thursday at 11 a.m., accompanied by five of his ministers. The meeting with Chinchilla is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Jacó Happenings

first_imgNo related posts. A few exciting news quips from the past six weeks: In Late May, the Garabito Municipality & IFAM announced a new project that proposes the inversion of one billion colones in the Jacó Beach Boardwalk and Bike Trails. According to MayorMarvin Elizondo, the construction will start in January 2014 and will be divided into four phases. The route of the boulevard will be 4.2 kilometers and will have spaces for playgrounds, bike rental, outdoor exercise, public showers and toilets, reference focal points and areas for craft markets. The boulevard will be illuminated by lamps with polycrystalline solar panels and LED lighting that will be placed every 8 meters. If you would like to know more about this project, please contact the municipality at 2643-3038 or the Central Pacific Chamber of Commerce at 2643-2853.June 20 marked the ground breaking of The Croc’s Casino and Resort. The casino resort and hotel is an exciting new additional to the north end of Jacó Beach. For more information about the project, stop in The Croc’s new sales office, which is open across from BCR and in front of the Acqua Residences. Or call 1-800-590-0001 toll free, or visit www.crocscacinoresort.com.Teatro Jacó will be featuring “Mi Vida Empieza Cada Dia” on June 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. This monologue comedy is directed by Alexander Campos featuring actress Grettel Cedeno. It’s about the renewal of life and the idea that regardless of one’s age, life begins each day. General Admission is $10, VIP admission is $20. For more, contact Teatro Jacó at 2630-9812.Lots of Surfing action this month with great waves in the Central Pacific zone. Carlos Muñoz made it to the quarterfinals in the WQS 6 Star Event held in Mexico earlier this month. Last weekend, Jair Peréz won the Copa Olympus Tough Series of the National Surf Circuit. The finals of this circuit are to be held the last weekend in July in Playa Hermosa. Tomorrow, June 29, it is all about surfing in Playa Hermosa. It is the last day of the Quarter Series Metropolitanas Punto Surf Competition, followed by the weekly Saturday Surf Series out at the Backyard Bar. Come check out some of the best surfers in Costa Rica.James Felhofer from the Falcon International School has reported that Falcon has held its first high school graduation. Both graduates are going on to study medicine; Ashley to be a veterinarian and Gabriel a neurologist.Additionally, University Catolica classes are now being offered at Falcon and is the first university to offer classes in the area. For more information about Falcon School, call 2637-7400 or email reception@falconicr.com. The 4th of July Independence holiday is fast approaching and there will be lots of options in the Central Pacific zone to choose from. In Jacó Beach: Tsunami sushi will be featuring a Jazz & Piano Night with Sasha Campbell and Jacó Taco will be having their annual fireworks celebration. Out in Playa Hermosa, the Backyard Bar’s 17th anniversary and 4th of July party will feature a free BBQ from 4-7 p.m. Wear your bathing suit because the Chupacabras will be playing live in a foam pit starting at 7 p.m. That’s right, a foam party at the Backyard! No cover. $2 beers and free BBQ. Bring your friends.-Christina Truittchristina_truitt@yahoo.com  Facebook Commentslast_img read more

International experts confirm Nicaragua caused irreparable damage to Costa Rican wetlands

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica begins mitigation of Nicaragua’s canal work in disputed area Costa Rica adds yet another claim to ongoing border dispute with Nicaragua Costa Rica begins repairing damages on island disputed by Nicaragua International Court of Justice to rule on Costa Rica-Nicaragua border dispute on Dec. 16 Costa Rican Environment Vice Minister Ana Lorena Guevara reiterated on Thursday that Nicaragua’s dredging of two artificial canals in Costa Rica’s northeastern region had caused considerable environmental damage to protected wetlands.“The environmental damage is so severe that it makes it impossible to fully restore the wetlands to their original state due to at least one of the two 200-meter canals,” Guevara said at a press conference on Thursday.“The depth of the canal created by dredging did not leave sufficient substrate for species to grow back,” she said.Environment Ministry (MINAE) officials joined a group of experts from the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, or Ramsar, which included specialists in hydrology and marine biology.The mission on Monday conducted air, aquatic and ground inspections in an area known as Isla Portillos, or Isla Calero,  a small wetland of 1.2 square miles that both countries claim as their own. The case is being heard by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.The wetlands, declared of international importance in 1996, were invaded by Nicaragua in 2010 with the goal of opening an artificial passage connecting the San Juan River and the Caribbean Sea for navigational purposes. The move led to an international dispute at The Hague-based court.Recommended: A timeline of the disputeOn November 22, the world court ordered the removal of all dredging equipment, military personnel and civilian groups in the area, except Ramsar and Costa Rican environmental experts, who are conducting damage assessments.Prior to the court rulings, Costa Rica in September released satellite photos showing the excavation of two canals in the disputed wetland, and this week’s inspection confirmed the canals currently have widths ranging from 12-28 meters, and depths ranging from 50 centimeters to 2 meters.Material removed by the dredges formed small islands of sediment at various points in the previously flooded areas. “We could even walk over them,” Guevara said.Trees and native vegetation also were removed. Inspectors found extensive damage to a never-before-registered mangrove, which is unique in this region of the Caribbean coast.The western canal, located some 300 meters from the eastern canal, caused less damage, mostly deforestation, and MINAE believes the area could be naturally restored.The eastern canal begins near the Caribbean shoreline, and officials say the world court rulings have prevented Nicaragua from finishing the canal, which would have led to the mixing of sea water and freshwater in the wetlands.Experts on Monday found sand excavations on the beach and an artificial dam that drops three feet from the beach level to the dredging area.“If they [Nicaragua] had finished this work, there would have been an intrusion of salt water into the wetlands’ fresh water that would have been catastrophic for the flora and fauna, which most likely would have disappeared,” the vice minister said.Under surveillanceAs in past MINAE missions, a Nicaraguan Army vessel followed the group throughout the day, starting at the San Juan River. Soldiers filmed and photographed the inspection. At one point a verbal confrontation took place between the two groups when soldiers tried to force inspectors to leave, Guevara said.“We told them our group was part of an official mission of the Costa Rican government and the Ramsar Convention, and according to provisions of the world court at The Hague we had complied with the requirement of sending a written notice to the Foreign Ministry in Managua,” the Costa Rican official said.María Rivera, a Ramsar adviser for the Americas, also spoke with soldiers. “She told them we had permission to be in the area and that a full report of the inspection would be sent to the Nicaraguan government in coming days,” Guevara said.During past trips to the area, Nicaraguan soldiers blocked visits by experts by denying them navigation permits on the San Juan River. This time, inspectors entered the area by air.The Ramsar experts will prepare a report of the inspection, which is expected to be made public in early April. That report will include recommendations for mitigating the environmental damage to the area. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Violence against women in the age of new technology

first_imgRelated posts:Explainer: Why is Costa Rica’s former President Laura Chinchilla suing a hotelier over a Facebook post? Making the invisible, visible: In Nicaragua, women journalists call for equality PHOTOS: Thousands march to speak out against violence targeting women (and men) Medical marijuana in Costa Rica? The time has come, says La Nación I wrote you on WhatsApp and you didn’t answer, even though I saw you were online.What are you doing, who are you with?Are you really at work? Send me a picture.I saw you were on Facebook early this morning. Who were you talking to?Who is that you friended on Facebook?If you don’t answer me I’m going to post a picture of you naked on Facebook.—These are just some examples of violence against women in our current technological era, and they are becoming increasingly common. Cellphones, email, social media, instant messaging all translate to new manifestations of violence that are a violation of intimacy as a means of exerting control, often from a spouse, lover or former lover.Margarita Salas, a Costa Rican feminist and activist, explained to The Tico Times that these stories represent the same phenomenon that has been seen before.“This isn’t something new, in the sense that women have been victims of violence by men and society in general for many years. This violence now has moved into the digital world, and unfortunately there are few ways to defend yourself because the influence that these social networks have on people’s lives has really not been documented,” Salas said.She cited several examples, including one Facebook page and website that display photos of Costa Rican women – including minors. The Tico Times has refrained from publishing the name of that site because of its underage and offensive content. Some of these sites have been around for a few years and feature scantily clad women, often of lower economic status, in denigrating situations.In a separate case, classmates targeted and harassed a high school student by creating a fake Facebook profile showing the victim’s face superimposed on pornographic images. The posts included statements suggesting the victim was seeking sexual encounters, including prostitution. The aggressors posted the victim’s phone number. That case was prosecuted by Costa Rican authorities.Other cases involve men who use social media to seek revenge on former partners, such as sending out nude pictures and videos.“One has to understand that this is all within the context of a machista society, where there is a double standard towards women. Why don’t women send out naked pictures of their ex-lovers? Because society places a far lower value on the sight of a male’s body than a woman’s. Women are constantly watched and judged in terms of what they do with their bodies, including the need to appear virginal, pure and chaste. If a picture of a nude woman on social media was no more of an issue than a picture of a naked man, we wouldn’t be seeing this type of extortion.” (Courtesy Yoursides.blogspot.com)International Day for the Elimination of Violence against WomenTo mark the U.N.’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Nov. 25, Costa Rica’s National Institute for Women (INAMU) and the Red Feminista contra la Violencia hacia las Mujeres (Feminist Network Against Violence Targeting Women) are planning a large march to draw attention to these and other issues.For Ana Hidalgo, INAMU’s coordinator of gender violence response, the use of technology – in this case, cellphones and the Internet – as a means of spying and controlling the lives of women is nothing new.“This used to happen when all that we had were telephones. There are men who use the phone as a constant, ongoing tool to control women, to know where they are, to try and control everything about what they do. And even when there is really no relationship, some will continue the harassment using cellphones,” Hidalgo said during an interview with The Tico Times.“It’s all about control during a relationship, and the new methods follow the same old logic of trying to be as possessive and controlling as possible, thus exerting power that scares women into believing it is impossible to maintain privacy. It’s a type of emotional and psychological violence,” Hidalgo said.Nonetheless, she said Costa Rica still doesn’t have any systematic database that tracks this kind of violence.According to an international campaign called “Dominemos la Tecnología,” online cyber-harassment “uses information and communication technologies to monitor and trace someone, which causes anguish and fear for one’s personal security.”This includes sending threats or false accusations via blogs, chats or cellphones, sending undesired communications frequently with sexual overtones, stealing someone’s identity and personal information, and spying and tracing computer or Internet use without a person’s permission.A report called “Voices from digital spaces: Technology related violence against women,” prepared by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), points out that those who commit this type of violence use GPS applications on smartphones, and are able to obtain passwords that they use to monitor text messages and incoming calls. They also steal and distribute personal, sexual photos and recordings from women without permission. In some cases, the Internet is used to distribute fake notices and messages to attract women into situations where they are sexually assaulted.Isabel Rojas, a researcher at the Sulá Batsú Cooperative, explained that communications technology should be treated with the same logic as other everyday situations. For example, problems could start with a simple password request.“Many times you hear couples asking each other for their passwords as a show of commitment and proof that there’s nothing to hide,” Rojas said. “But for the same reason you’re not obligated to hand over your house keys, you are under no obligation to share your passwords or email address, because these are all invasions of your privacy. You must have a clear understanding of the boundaries of what is personal and private and not cross those boundaries. It is not proper to ask for or share passwords.”She added that, “You shouldn’t have to justify what you’re doing when using social media. If you are unable to answer a message immediately, you are under no obligation to explain yourself to anybody else.”Along these lines, Salas added that people often are confused and don’t understand that jealousy is not a demonstration of affection.“The type of behavior we’re seeing has to do with control. It’s not about whether or not I’m worried about you. It’s about showing that I’m upset because you didn’t answer when I wanted you to. It’s important to remember that women have as much right to be autonomous and manage their time and lives any way they want,” she added.Watch a video of “Take Back The Tech!” a campaign promoting the creative use of technology to end violence against women The harm caused to women by this type of violence is primarily psychological and emotional, including fear, rage, stress and depression. Rojas said the harm is manifested in the same way as verbal, physical or emotional aggression.“People become anxious and preoccupied, and they aren’t able to enjoy things they happen to be doing. The recurring thought process is: ‘I have to answer,’ ‘I have to monitor all my messages,’ ‘I can’t allow anyone to take pictures of me,’ ‘I can’t be friended.’ All of this reflects that someone is suffering from some kind of violence using social media,” Rojas said.AnonymousSome aggressors think they’re committing acts of violence anonymously and from afar, and that they can’t be identified and won’t face justice. But their actions can be traced through service providers.Hidalgo said this type of violence can be reported, and victims should keep texts, voice messages or Facebook posts to be used as evidence.In the case of phone calls, judges can order telephone companies to provide a list of callers, which can be used in court.“Sometimes a distinction is made between the real and virtual worlds, and one shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking the virtual world is anything but real. It is just as important to keep as much proof as possible of any type of abuse to be able to make your case, whether virtual or ‘real.’ These kinds of cases fall under the same legal category as any abuse against women,” Salas said.Internet service providers are required to maintain records of information shared via their services for a certain period of time, and they retain the right to suspend Internet service if it can be shown that networks are being used unethically.According to Salas, “when a contract is signed with a service provider for Internet services, the person is agreeing not to use it for nefarious purposes. Thus, using these services to cause violence against women is definitely a good enough reason to suspend a user’s service.”She added that it is possible to identify where a computer is located and when it is being used to send these types of messages.In more complex situations, such as identity theft where the perpetrator is unknown, crimes should be reported to the Information Crimes Unit at the Judicial Investigation Police.Rojas thinks the problem isn’t whether or not one has a legal recourse, but rather it’s more an issue of lack of knowledge.“Most people have no idea where to go if they’re suffering this kind of violence, and they don’t realize that it can be reported and prosecuted. People sometimes think that if you’re on a phone line or in front of a computer you can’t be found and won’t go to jail, as if there are no consequences,” she said. “But there are.”—What: The march “Sin retroceso: Defensa y avance de los derechos”When: Tuesday, Nov. 25, coinciding with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 9 a.m.Where: Parque de la Merced, San José, and then on to the Legislative AssemblyMore info: Click here Facebook Commentslast_img read more

FIFA reform taskforce meets for first time

first_imgRelated posts:FEDEFUTBOL official: FIFA scandal won’t affect Costa Rica’s upcoming matches FIFA arrests transform Blatter heir into face of football scandal Switzerland will rule on FIFA extraditions next month FIFA corruption probe: Swiss to extradite ex-VP Figueredo to US BERN, Switzerland – A 12-member committee set up by FIFA to draw up far-reaching reforms to the organization in the wake of a corruption scandal met for the first time in Bern on Wednesday.Headed by Swiss lawyer Francois Carrard, the committee will first hear from Domenico Scala, who is chairman of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee, according to an informed source.No agenda details were released.Carrard, 77, was appointed by FIFA on Aug. 11 to lead the Reform Committee after the corruption scandal erupted in May, when seven football officials were arrested at a Zurich hotel on the eve of a FIFA Congress, including Costa Rica’s Eduardo Li.The seven FIFA officials were among 14 people facing charges in the United States over more than $150 million of bribes for marketing and broadcasting contracts.In parallel, Swiss investigators are looking into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.FIFA president Sepp Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term at the Zurich congress but, under pressure from the arrests, he suddenly announced he would stand down next February when a new election for his post would be held.Subsequently he announced that a reform committee taskforce would be set up to draw up a list of changes.Blatter denies any wrongdoing and Carrard has gone on record as saying that there was not a shred of evidence against his fellow Swiss.Carrard, who previously was in charge of implementing reforms at the International Olympic Committee in the wake of the bribery scandal-hit Winter Olympics of 2002, is due to present his reform proposals to a FIFA congress meeting on Feb. 26, when Blatter will officially stand down.The Reform Committee, which will sit for two days, comprises two officials from each of the six FIFA confederations. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

With the biggest shopping days ahead Costa Rica still lacks good ecommerce

first_imgRelated posts:Finance Ministry issues warning ahead of shopping season Black Friday in Costa Rica: Half of Ticos surveyed plan to shop Most Costa Rica workers plan to save their Christmas bonus: survey Clock ticking to ship gifts to Costa Rica in time for the holidays While two of the biggest shopping days –Black Friday and Christmas – are quickly approaching, Costa Rican lawmakers are working to pass legislation that improves controls and consumer protection of e-commerce transactions, an area where the country lags.Legislative Bill #19,012, known as the “Electronic Commerce Bill,” aims to set a legal framework based on international standards, particularly those established by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), a legal body with universal membership specializing in commercial law.Attorney Vilma Sánchez del Castillo, an e-commerce law specialist, in 2013 drafted and submitted the bill to Costa Rica’s Legislative Commission on Economic Affairs. Lawmakers at the time accepted the initiative, but failed to move forward on it.The proposed legislation would better regulate all purchases made through electronic platforms including websites, emails and chats – essentially “any transaction in which the parties are physically separated,” Sánchez said.The regulations would oversee database queries, online advertising on websites, social media, emails, and any other kind of new service or information technology that becomes available in the future, Sánchez said.“The bill does not propose the creation of new crimes, but rather seeks to impose civil sanctions to protect both parties involved in online transactions – not only customers,” she added.Infractions in the bill are classified as very serious, serious and minor, and provide fines ranging from 30 to 100 minimum salaries, or about ₡12 million to ₡40 million ($22,000-$75,000).Sánchez, currently a legal clerk at the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, said the initiative aims to fill a gap in Costa Rica’s commercial legislation. She said Costa Rica currently has only general rules set by the country’s civil and commercial codes, which are insufficient to regulate and resolve problems arising from e-commerce and international commerce.The bill was brought up again for discussion by current members of the Economic Affairs Commission, and its drafting has received approval of the Assembly’s technical services office. It must now be voted on in the commission before moving to the full Assembly.“Costa Rica is lagging on this issue,” Sánchez said. “Many regional countries already have current legislation: El Salvador and Honduras recently passed laws on electronic signatures and electronic commerce precisely based on UNCITRAL standards.”Be safe, shoppers.Instead, Costa Rica’s Finance Ministry last week launched a publicity campaign to encourage safe shopping online, including messages on social media and in newspapers.Finance Vice Minister Fernando Rodríguez said packages entering the country and showing “irregularities” would be held at customs. The publicity campaign includes steps to safely shop and to identify courier companies registered with the Customs Administration.The director of the Economy Ministry’s Consumer Support Office, Cinthya Zapata, said the lack of specific laws for e-commerce is troubling.“From a regulatory point of view, we know the system has flaws. There are things that need improvement. But we must also improve prevention,” she said last Friday.Zapata said most problems occur because people buy at unsafe online stores, prompted by promised deals and promotions.“People here usually buy in known stores like Amazon, but at certain times of the year many buy from less-known virtual shops, or from personal Facebook pages offering appealing deals. Most don’t offer any kind of guarantee or security,” she added.Complaints to the Consumer Support Office for problems with online purchases already surpassed figures registered last year by as much as 400 percent, Zapata said.Some of the most common complaints were about shopping websites that don’t offer information about a physical address, or no local representation in Costa Rica, making the option to file a claim difficult, the Economy Ministry reported.Other problems include customers receiving the wrong products or defective ones.Customers who currently have complaints with online purchases can send an email to: denunciasaduanas@hacienda.go.cr.  Complaint also can be filed via an online form at the Finance Ministry’s website or the Economy Ministry’s website.Good luck out there.Recommended: Black Friday in Costa Rica: Half of Ticos surveyed plan to shopSee one of the messages from the Finance Ministry: Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Brazils ban on WhatsApp is lifted less than 24 hours after it

first_imgRIO DE JANEIRO – The day after a Brazilian judge ordered the suspension of the WhatApp cellphone chat and voice service for 48 hours, cutting off millions of users from one of the country’s most popular communication services, another judge overturned the ban.Brazilians had joined in black humor and outrage and tech giants expressed worry over the state’s heavy hand Thursday after a judge banned the service for 48 hours. It is so widely used in Brazil that people often ask for “your WhatsApp” rather than your number. The ban began at midnight Wednesday.Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who had described this as a “sad day for Brazil,” celebrated the decision. “Your voices have been heard and the block has been lifted,” he posted on Facebook. The social media company bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $22 billion, and Zuckerberg said the application had 100 million users in Brazil.The ban was first imposed by Judge Sandra Marques in São Bernardo do Campo in São Paulo because the company had not complied with an order to provide information for a criminal investigation, which is secret. The company had failed to respond to two notifications in July and August and prosecutors requested the ban in retaliation.But on Thursday, Xaxier de Souza, a judge at a higher court, overruled the decision. “It has not been shown reasonable that millions of users should be affected as a result of the company’s inertia,” he said.The Folha de São Paulo newspaper site reported that the ban was imposed because WhatsApp had failed to provide messages swapped by criminal gangs.The company said it didn’t have the information that was being sought. “We’re disappointed that a judge would punish more than 100 million people across Brazil since we were unable to turn over information we didn’t have,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.WhatsApp creator Jan Koum, who had lamented the ban, celebrated the service’s restoration. “This is a victory for the Brazilian people, and we’re glad that your voices were heard loud and clear by people who represent them,” he wrote on Facebook. The service had 900 million monthly users is also popular across the Middle East, where it has largely eclipsed the once-indispensable BlackBerry Messenger service.WhatsApp first exploded in Brazil’s numerous favelas and low-income communities, where it is called “sap sap,” as 3G services become more available. It then spread to the middle classes.The decision caused a flood of Brazilians to download other applications. Last night, Telegram Messenger said it had gained 1.5 million new users.Jokes on the “Fall of WhatsApp” had flared across the Internet. Some Brazilians complained that flirting opportunities had been reduced, or linked the block to a political crisis threatening President Dilma Rousseff, who is facing impeachment proceedings.Now Brazilians took to social media to celebrate its return. One person tweeting as Emerson Lobo wrote “WhatsApp came back” and was one of many who illustrated his post with a cheering woman. Facebook Comments Related posts:What’s up, no WhatsApp? Brazilians peeved after service suspended Rousseff’s horror movie may only get worse in 2nd half Lula’s bridge to nowhere hints at global reach of Brazil graft Brazil heads for worst recession since 1901, economists forecastlast_img read more

2 Western photographers freed from Syria captivity

first_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Top Stories His account would seem to add weight to reports that foreign Islamic fighters are going into Syria to support the rebel side.The Associated Press could not reach the men, who were expected to return home within days, for more details of their ordeal.Oerlemans told Business News Radio that he and Cantlie entered Syria on July 19, and were captured almost immediately.“You go with a donkey caravan over the border,” he said. “It went left, we went right and walked into a camp of 20 tents and in no time we had a circle of men around us with Kalashnikovs and we were taken captive.”The militants accused the men of working for the CIA and took their equipment and documents, he said.Oerlemans said it soon became clear that their captors planned to seek ransom, so the photographers tried to escape. They were quickly intercepted and Oerlemans was shot in the foot and thigh, he said. His captors bandaged his wounds but kept the two men handcuffed and blindfolded after that, he said.“I was wounded, but the bullets missed all the vital parts, and I’m frisky as a puppy and enormously happy that I’ve survived it all, that it ended well,” he said. On Friday morning they were told they would be moved to another location when a group of Syrian rebels stormed the tent and put the photographers in trucks.Suddenly four soldiers from the Syrian Free Army entered the camp and asked them how long they had been held.“They took us with them like a bunch of gangsters,” Oerlemans was quoted in a separate interview with NRC Handelsblad. “Shooting in the air we rode out of there.”Uri Rosenthal, the Netherlands’ foreign minister, said Dutch diplomats were traveling to Oerlemans to help him get home. The British Foreign Office cited privacy concerns in not commenting.Oerlemans is well-known in the Netherlands, having won two national photography awards.Cantlie’s LinkedIn page describes him as a freelance journalist and photographer with 20 years’ experience in “hostile environment reportage.” It says his clients have included British newspapers such as The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph and The Sun; GQ and FHM magazines; and the BBC._____Associated Press reporter Raphael Satter contributed to this story from London.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean The vital role family plays in society New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories Associated PressAMSTERDAM (AP) – Two Western photojournalists in Syria were held captive for a week by Islamic militants before being rescued by Syrian rebels, one of the men said Friday.Jeroen Oerlemans, a prominent Dutch photographer, told Business News Radio of the Netherlands that he is not sure which group held him and John Cantlie of Britain, but said he is sure they were not Syrian.“They all claimed they came from countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh and Chechnya, and they said there was some vague `emir’ at the head of the group,” he said in a seven-minute interview from Turkey, where the men were resting after their ordeal. Oerlemans was also recovering from two gunshot wounds suffered during an escape attempt. Comments   Share   Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Daylast_img

Japan nuclear plant obtains final permit needed to restart

first_imgThe Nuclear Regulation Authority approved the Sendai plant’s operational safety plans, the last step of a three-part screening process. The plant’s safety program includes emergency response plans in case of fire, floods or other natural disasters, or a serious accident.The plant, owned by Kyushu Electric Power Co., won approval in September of the safety of its reactors and other equipment under tighter rules set after a powerful 2011 earthquake and tsunami decimated the Fukushima nuclear plant in northeastern Japan.Abe’s government says nuclear energy is vital for resource-poor Japan’s economy. It is now finalizing plans for Japan’s long-term energy mix and is seeking to have nuclear energy supply about 20-22 percent of its energy needs in 2030, although public opinion remains divided.While local municipalities have already approved the Sendai plant’s restart, many residents oppose the plan, citing potential danger from active volcanos in the region.Kyushu Electric hopes to restart one reactor at the Sendai plant in late July after on-site tests and training and the other in late September, though there could be some delays.Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka reminded the utility of the importance of safety education and training for plant workers after a multi-year stoppage. Kyushu Electric vowed to further improve the emergency response training of its workers and ensure safety. Top Stories TOKYO (AP) — A nuclear plant in southern Japan on Wednesday obtained the final permit needed to restart its reactors, paving the way for it to become the first to go back online under new safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.All of Japan’s more than 40 reactors are currently offline for repairs or safety inspections. The two units at the Sendai nuclear power plant are among 24 reactors seeking to restart, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-business government tries to put as many back online as possible. Comments   Share   ___Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at twitter.com/mariyamaguchiCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

Japanese business mood improves despite gloomy data

first_img Comments   Share   Four benefits of having a wireless security system The survey reflects the number of those responding with a favorable assessment of business conditions minus those with a negative assessment. So it is considered a gauge of confidence about the economy.Weaker-than-expected exports and corporate investment have stunted growth after the economy expanded at a relatively robust annual pace of 3.9 percent in January-March. So many experts say the economy may have contracted or stayed flat in the April-June quarter.Companies routinely overestimate their plans for spending in April-June, which is the beginning of Japan’s fiscal year, says Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics.“Firms reliably turn more optimistic in the second quarter, so we wouldn’t read much too into this improvement. What’s more, these ‘projections’ do in fact lag actual capital expenditure,” he said in a commentary.He foresees a “sharp slowdown” in the economy in April-June, based on weakness in consumer demand, the biggest driver of growth in Japan.Industrial output fell 2.2 percent in May from the month before and is still 16 percent below its peak in 2008, noted Richard Katz of the Oriental Economist.Demand for light vehicles, chemicals, electric components and pharmaceuticals was sluggish, prompting JP Morgan economist Masamichi Adachi to revise his growth estimate for the current quarter to zero from an earlier forecast of 1.5 percent. TOKYO (AP) — The mood among big Japanese corporations is unexpectedly upbeat despite recent data showing the recovery appears to be stalling.The Bank of Japan’s quarterly “tankan” business survey released Wednesday showed a reading of 15 in June, up from 12 in March, for large manufacturers. Among large non-manufacturers it was 23, versus 19 previously.Large companies plan to boost their capital investment by 9.3 percent from a year earlier, revised up from minus 1.2 percent in March. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Top 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. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Patients with chronic pain give advice Sponsored Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Mesa family survives lightning strike to homelast_img read more