Demand for adventure travel soars especially to Iceland Ecuador Chile Virtuoso survey

first_img Posted by Travelweek Group Monday, August 29, 2016 NEW YORK — The vast majority (95%) of Virtuoso travel specialists say they have seen active, adventure and specialty travel sales rise within the past 12 months. The same percentage sees demand for this style of travel increasing in the next two to three years.All survey respondents are advisors and preferred partners taking part in the Virtuoso Active and Specialty Travel (VAST) program.The top adventure destinations gaining in popularity are Iceland, Galapagos/Ecuador, Costa Rica & Chile/Patagonia (tie), New Zealand, Peru, Cuba, Antarctica, Arctic/North Pole, South Africa and Australia.“Adventure travellers are broadening their horizons beyond well-known European cities to seek new frontiers off the beaten path,” says the luxury travel specialist. “Latin America is especially popular, as active travellers can experience their desired combination of nature and culture there. Remote, unspoiled destinations such as Antarctica and the Arctic are also sought after by upscale adventurers.”The top activities preferred by active and specialty travellers are hiking/trekking, biking, kayaking, small-ship expedition cruising, food and wine, safaris/wildlife viewing, walking, photography, scuba diving and arts and culture.More news:  Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJIn terms of demographics, the largest number – 41% – of adventure travellers are between 50 and 65, says Virtuoso. Almost one-quarter (24%) are between 35 and 50; 21% are 65+ and 14% are under 35. Couples, including honeymooners, are the most common type of adventure traveller. They are followed by immediate families, friends travelling together, solo travelers and multigenerational family members.Driving adventure travel’s popularity, as cited by respondents, are the desire to commune with nature, checking experiences off a bucket list and spending quality time together on family and multigenerational trips. Today’s older travellers are also more active due to improved longevity and health.Respondents also provided their top tips for adventure travel: “Challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone and being open to new activities”; “Familiarize yourself with the culture of the destination by meeting interesting locals”; “Look at the world in a new way: gain a fresh perspective and possibly even change an opinion”; “Travel now, because some of these destinations are changing fast and may not be in this state in just a few years” and “Don’t try to do too much. Keep travel distances manageable and build in rest days and free time.”More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upThe survey, conducted between February and April 2016, received input from 125 advisors and partners participating in the Virtuoso Active and Specialty Travel (VAST) program. Demand for adventure travel soars, especially to Iceland, Ecuador, Chile: Virtuoso survey Tags: Adventure Travel, Chile, Ecuador, Iceland, Virtuoso << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Get your Explor VR Starter Kit with this weeks Travelweek magazine

first_img Posted by Tags: Explor VR, Travelweek, Virtual Reality, Xplr VR Share Get your Explor VR Starter Kit with this week’s Travelweek magazine Wednesday, October 19, 2016 center_img TORONTO — Virtual reality has finally arrived as an exciting new sales tool for travel agents with the much-anticipated launch of Explor VR – Travelweek’s brand new app-based virtual reality technology specially created for travel agents.Agents across Canada are urged to look for their Virtual Reality Starter Kit in the mail this week, delivered with their Oct. 20 issue of Travelweek magazine.“Travelweek is hoping this new sales tool will give agents a sense of the amazing potential of VR technology – as a tool to help close sales, as a tactic to grab attention, as a means to bring more foot traffic through your agency door, and much more,” says Devin Kinasz, Director of Digital Strategy, Travelweek. “Virtual reality technology can be used to engage and ‘wow’ clients, and we want agents to benefit from this technological development, bringing more to agents’ clients that online booking websites can’t.”Travelweek is sending out a free Virtual Reality Starter Kit as a gift, with the hope that agents will take the opportunity to learn about the new VR technology. The headsets are cardboard, modelled after Google Cardboard, Google’s entry-level VR viewers, for a basic introduction to the VR experience. Agents can also upgrade to a professional headset.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”The free Explor VR app can be downloaded from Google Play or the App Store. Once downloaded onto your smartphone, simply slip the phone into the headset, and put the headset on your head to start view different destinations in full virtual reality.“We’re trying to disseminate this technology to agents as quickly and as cheaply as possible,” said Kinasz. “The app is available to download for free. We are distributing headsets to 5,000 agencies across Canada for free. And we are selling professional upgraded headsets for $159. Clients will be blown away!”There are instructions on how to assemble and operate the Virtual Reality Starter Kit on the back of the box. There is also a wealth of additional information, training material, marketing collateral, videos and more on the website at, which is where you can also order the upgraded professional headset.  Agents can also sign up for webinars to learn more about the VR tool.More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesThere are about two dozen virtual reality experiences available in the Explor VR app, with more always being added. Make sure to check out ‘Experience India by G Adventures’ and ‘A Day in St. Pete Clearwater’.“This is only the very beginning of the relationship between the travel industry and virtual reality technology, and we hope travel agents support our effort to bring this exciting technology into agencies across Canada,” said Kinasz. “We truly believe agents can benefit from VR technology, most notably as a powerful sales tool, and hope they will let us help them take advantage of the future of travel marketing.”For more information, visit Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

More Europe new interline agreements in store for Transat in 2017

first_imgMore Europe, new interline agreements in store for Transat in 2017 TORONTO — After announcing details of its new 2017 Europe and Guided Tours brochures last week, Transat hosted an industry reception in Toronto to highlight the changes in its Europe program from 2016, as well as Air Transat’s plans to adopt interline agreements in the near future.Denise Heffron, VP National Sales & Commercial, told media and industry partners that the company has recently gone through a process she refers to as “refinement.” After working with analysts for three months during which Transat evaluated its valued relationships, Transat found that there’s room for improvement in the way it sells travel.“We wanted to make sure that we’re maximizing what we’re doing so that we can be better,” she said. “We asked ourselves, ‘Are we working with the right partners at the right time with the right product?’ You’ll find that we’re going to be working more closely with you from now in, particularly with regard to marketing.”More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesPart of this self-evaluation included Transat’s recent streamlining of brands. Having once included brands like TMR, Nolitours and Transat Discoveries, the company finally “made the leap” and is now utilizing only the Transat and Air Transat brands.“Through our research, we found that the greatest equity we have is in the Air Transat brand, followed by Transat,” she said.Dan Prior, Rita Polegri, Denise HeffronGilles Ringwald, which joined Air Transat last month as its new Commercial Vice-President, confirmed that the company will soon be delving into the business of interlining, a common practice for many airlines. Air Transat, which didn’t have the need to partner with other airlines before, is now taking measures to expand its network and increase its frequencies through new interline agreements in order to stay competitive.With these agreements in place, Air Transat will be able to offer direct flights from major Canadian cities to leisure destinations in Europe, which will provide greater flexibility of schedules and frequencies and expand the number of destinations it offers. For example, Air Transat currently does not fly to Athens from Montreal or Toronto, but “in the future we can with interline partners,” said Ringwald.More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesRingwald confirmed that interlining will begin in 2017 and will be firmly in place by November 2017.In 2016, Air Transat offered direct flights to 27 destinations in 13 countries, from five Canadian cities. It had a capacity of 862,638 seats, up 7% compared to 2015. In 2017, Air Transat will offer increased frequency on several routes, including: Montreal-Paris (14 flights/week); Montreal-Marseille (5 flights/week); Montreal-Barcelona (5 flights/week); Montreal-Lisbon (4 flights/week); Montreal-Athens (3 flights/week); Toronto-Athens (3 flights/week); Montreal-Venice (3 flights/week); Montreal-Madrid (2 flights/week); Montreal-Malaga (2 flights/week); Montreal-Prague (2 flights/week), and Toronto-Zagreb (2 flights/week).For more information on Transat’s Europe 2017 program, click here. Posted by Share Monday, November 14, 2016 center_img Travelweek Group Tags: Transat << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Is this the cutest travelling duo in the history of the world

first_img Monday, January 15, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Posted by COLORADO — An adorable dog and his feline travel companion are proving that when it comes to hitting the open road, sometimes opposites attract.Henry, a three-year-old dog based in Colorado, and Baloo, a Siamese cat, have become the Internet’s latest sensation for being global travellers.Their human, Cynthia Bennett, first adopted Henry in 2014 and found very early on that he loved to hike. “He found the steepest, tallest rock around and he ran up to the top of it to look over the edge,” she told The Dodo. After that, Henry earned the nickname “little mountain goat”. Now, the happy family of four is busy embarking on new adventures around the world, which you can follow on Instagram. Judging by their photos, their lovable ‘fur babies’ are having the time of their lives! Travelweek Group A few months ago, Bennett and her boyfriend decided to adopt another pet – a rescue kitten this time – and after a five-month search they finally found Baloo. After introductions were made, Baloo fell in love with Henry and, as they say, the rest is history.More news:  Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksIt wasn’t long until Baloo joined Henry on the road, which may be surprising to owners of cats who prefer the indoors. But according to Bennett, Baloo “really wants to go outside” and will scream from the door whenever she touches Henry’s leash. Is this the cutest travelling duo in the history of the world?last_img read more

The time to evacuate has come and gone Hurricane Michael closes in

first_img TORONTO — Air Canada is waving flight change fees for almost half a dozen cities in three states as Hurricane Michael beelines for the Florida Panhandle coastline as a Category 4 storm.Air Canada passengers due to fly in or out of Atlanta, Savannah, Charlotte, Raleigh Durham and Jacksonville today can change their bookings with no change fees as a result of Hurricane Michael.Major U.S. carriers are waiving change fees for a long list of destinations as well, and cancelling flights.Hurricane Michael gained strength overnight, with potentially catastrophic winds this morning clocked at 145 mph, making it the most powerful storm on record ever to hit this stretch of Florida coastline, according to reports.With more than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast warned to clear out, the hurricane’s leading edge began lashing the white-sand shoreline with tropical storm-force winds, rain and rising seas before daybreak, hours before Michael’s centre was expected to blow ashore.More news:  Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoMichael quickly sprang from a weekend tropical depression, reaching Category 4 early this morning as it drew energy from the Gulf of Mexico’s 84 degree waters. That was up from a Category 2 on Tuesday afternoon.“The time to evacuate has come and gone … SEEK REFUGE IMMEDIATELY,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted, while the sheriff in Panama City’s Bay County issued a shelter-in-place order before dawn.As of 8 a.m. this morning Michael was centred about 145 kilometres from Panama City and Apalachicola, moving fast at 21 kph. Tropical storm winds extended 295 kilometres from the centre, and hurricane-force winds reached out 75 kilometres.Rainfall could reach up to a foot (30 centimetres), and the life-threatening storm surge could swell to 14 feet (4 metres).The storm appeared to be so powerful – with a central pressure dropping to 933 millibars – that it is expected to remain a hurricane as it moves over Georgia early Thursday. Forecasters said it will unleash damaging winds and rain all the way into the Carolinas, which are still recovering from Hurricane Florence’s flooding.More news:  Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJThe historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle.With files from The Associated Press Posted by Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Wednesday, October 10, 2018 center_img Share Tags: Florida, Hurricane, Hurricane Michael “The time to evacuate has come and gone”: Hurricane Michael closes inlast_img read more

Two day storm departs BC but leaves flooded roads avalanche danger behind

first_img Share Friday, January 4, 2019 Tags: British Columbia, Canada, Snow Storm, Weather About Latest Posts Alex Keerma Latest posts by Alex Keerma (see all) WestJet adds to network, nonstop flights between Austin and Calgary – May 3, 2019 Senior Travel Advisor – Peterborough Office – April 12, 2019 “I didn’t know she was married”: Kimpton’s social experiment inspires new themed rooms – March 6, 2019 By: The Canadian Presscenter_img Two day storm departs B.C., but leaves flooded roads, avalanche danger behind << Previous PostNext Post >> VANCOUVER — Rainfall, wind, snow and winter storm warnings have been lifted for all of southern B.C. after a powerful system swept across the province leaving flooded or snow-clogged roads in its wake.On Vancouver Island, torrential downpours forced flood watches or high streamflow advisories for several waterways and the deluge also prompted a boil water advisory for all users of the Comox Valley water system, including residents of Courtenay and Comox.The Comox Valley Regional District says in a news release that severe rainfall has caused turbidity levels at a back-up pump station to rise above acceptable thresholds, triggering the need for the boil water notice.Environment Canada says the two-day storm dropped as much as 100 millimetres of rain on Port Alberni and parts of eastern Vancouver Island, equivalent to an entire month of rainfall, while more than 50 millimetres fell Thursday at Vancouver International Airport.In the mountains, Avalanche Canada says heavy snow has created a “high” possibility of slides on south coast and Vancouver Island mountains, as well as through most of east-central and southeastern B.C., meaning very dangerous avalanche conditions exist.More news:  Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish StepsAn “extreme” avalanche ranking, which means natural and human-triggered avalanches are certain, remains posted for some regions along the Alberta/B.C. boundary throughout Jasper National Park and in the alpine and treeline regions of Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks.last_img read more

VIDEO Heres what Virgin Voyages Beach Club at Bimini will look like

first_img Posted by Friday, July 19, 2019 Share VIDEO: Here’s what Virgin Voyages’ Beach Club at Bimini will look like << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Tags: Beach Club, Virgin Voyages NEW YORK — Virgin Voyages has released a first-look video rendering of its Beach Club at Bimini, a private oasis for Virgin Voyages passengers set to open in April 2020.With a stylish setting with white-sand and crystal clear waters and programming “that will rival the best beach clubs in Ibiza and Saint-Tropez”, the Beach Club at Bimini will be a cornerstone of every Virgin Voyages sailing, says the cruise line.Virgin Voyages’ first ship, Scarlet Lady, is scheduled to set sail starting April 1, 2020.The Beach Club at Bimini is a short transfer from the pier at PortMiami. Construction is currently underway on Virgin Voyages’ new terminal at PortMiami and that facility is slated for completion in November 2021. Scarlet Lady will sail to the Caribbean from Miami throughout 2021 while the company’s second ship will sail from Miami during the fall/winter cruise season of 2021/22.The Beach Club at Bimini, built by Resorts World Bimini, will overlook the ocean and cascade down to the sea with an expansive lagoon-style pool as the central anchor of the club.More news:  CIE Tours launches first-ever River Cruise CollectionIn the spirit of ‘Vitamin Sea’, Virgin Voyages’ ethos of wellbeing, there will be moments of retox and detox throughout the day, says the cruise line. Mornings at The Beach Club at Bimini will begin with yoga and meditation. The energy at The Beach Club at Bimini will be gradually amplified as the day progresses and turned back down as dusk settles in. Sailors will reach the high point of the day by the afternoon where DJ-led pool and flotilla parties will be centre of the action. The night’s energy will wind down with a beach bonfire to close out the evening with an acoustic musical performance.And with music at the heart of the Virgin brand, Virgin Voyages will curate the soundtrack for The Beach Club at Bimini, with seven-time Grammy-Award-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson named founding DJ. Ronson, the British-born DJ, producer and songwriter, has topped the charts and collaborated with artists like Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, Adele, Miley Cyrus and Bruno Mars. Ronson will have four performances in 2020.More news:  Flights cancelled as British Airways hit by computer problemThe Beach Club will also have complimentary food that is “thoughtfully sourced”, with locally inspired menus serving up island favourites such as conch and mango salad, banana leaf-wrapped queen snapper, Bahamian rum cake and more. Creative social spaces include hammock groves and six bars. There are also beach loungers beach-side and poolside cabanas available for rent.RockStar Suite passengers will have access to a dedicated bar, complimentary food service, an outdoor terrace lounge, sun loungers and beach cabanas at The Beach Club at Bimini.Virgin Voyages is actively seeking to work with travel agents, who the cruise line calls ‘First Mates’. In January 2019 Virgin Voyages said it would offer a base commission of 10% and, in an ‘Epic Sea Change’, announced it would eliminate non-commissionable fees (NCFs). Virgin’s base ticket prices include all food, basic beverages, workout classes, gratuities and more, with 10% commission on the entire transactionMore details are at and the First Mates SeaCiety Facebook group. Travelweek Group last_img read more

Prosecutor 6 others killed in Guatemala

first_imgGUATEMALA CITY – A Guatemalan federal prosecutor and six other people were killed in an attack near the Mexican border blamed on drug traffickers, officials said Monday.The attackers burned the bodies of their victims, inluding Chiquimula prosecutor Irma Olivares, a businessman and the director of a regional government social services agency, said Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez. The bodies of three bodyguards were found in another charred vehicle nearby.“The modus operandi of the attackers corresponds to drug trafficking groups” operating in the border region, he added.According to Lopez, the victims were returning from the inauguration of a hotel in La Messilla city.Mexican drug cartels, especially Los Zetas, have expanded their operations to Guatemala, a source of cocaine being smuggled into the United States.About 42 percent of crimes and acts of violence in Guatemala are tied to drug trafficking, according to government estimates. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Return of the comandancia

first_imgRobert Isenberg | Special to The Tico TimesNearly a century ago, the Comandancia de Plaza served as a barracks and prison for the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Then the old fortress was abandoned and left to decay. But today, the structure serves as an arts and community center, and with a little TLC, it could become a cultural touchstone. Robert Isenberg visits the old cuartel. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img

Colliers International looking to increase development of mixeduse buildings in greater San

first_imgNo related posts. An international real estate company said they see tremendous potential for modern mixed-use buildings in many of the communities surrounding San José.Colliers International said on Tuesday that they were targeting four major areas surrounding the center of San José: Escazú to the west, Heredia to the northwest, Alajuela, further northwest, and neighborhoods east of San José where many of the largest universities reside.Federico Guardia from Colliers International said an increased number of mixed-use buildings will be a convenience for residents.“In New York, for example, it’s easy because you have delis and such nearby,” Guardia said in an interview. “But in San José it’s much more difficult.”Guardia said he imagines buildings where you have shops and dining on the first floor, offices on next levels, and apartments on the top floors.Colliers International saw Escazú as attractive because it offers a variety of dining and entertainment. The neighborhood appealed to both foreigners and Ticos. Guardia said they were trying to create a setting that would attract international corporations.In Heredia, Colliers said the high concentration of service companies made the neighborhood an ideal site for mixed use buildings. Heredia contains a number of large hotels, which Colliers said they imagine as part of a mixed use building.Colliers cited Alajuela’s Free Zones as making that neighborhood a region for development. A “Zona Franca,” as it’s known in Spanish, is a designated region of the country where international companies receive tax benefits. Companies such as Wal-Mart and Hewlett-Packard already reside in Alajuela.East of San José, in areas including San Pedro, Alameda and Desamparados, Colliers sees their development as being enticing to the large number of universities in the region. Two of the largest Costa Rican schools, University of Costa Rica and Universidad Latina are in the area.Guardia said the center of San José is not as attractive to real-estate developers, due to its lack of parking and open spaces.Colliers International is a subset of FirstService, an international real estate company based in Toronto, Canada. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

For Solís next key issue is striking workers in essential public services

first_imgJust days after battling to pass the2015 national budget, President Luis Guillermo Solís now faces another challenge over whether to archive or reactivate a bill that would extend the right to strike to public-sector workers from hospitals, police and other services.Former President Laura Chinchilla in 2012 vetoed the “Reforms of Labor Procedures Bill,” which for Solís now represents a challenge that could affect alliances with key opposition parties. Those alliances helped his party win the presidency of the Legislative Assembly in May after intense negotiations, in which Solís and his Citizen Action party (PAC) promised Broad Front Party (FA) legislators he would reverse Chinchilla’s veto.Broad Front Party legislators have been pushing for the reversal of the veto in order to legalize strikes in essential services including public security, health care and ports. Strikes by workers in those services currently is prohibited, and the government can sanction or fire employees who take part in them.The proposed reforms also would allow a strike with the support of only 16 percent of the total number of workers in public agencies that do not have a workers’ union. The current requirement is 50 percent. They would prohibit employers from issuing sanctions against those striking workers.PAC, FA and Social Christian Unity Party legislators submitted the bill for discussion at the full Assembly in September, pending the lifting of the veto by Solís. Lawmakers from the National Liberation Party (PLN), the Libertarian Movement Party and evangelical parties oppose the reforms.The deadline to discuss the bill is Dec. 13, but President Solís has not yet stated if he will lift the veto.On Monday evening, the PLN’s top lawmaker, Juan Luis Jiménez, said that all of his party’s 18 votes would go against the bill if it goes for discussion before the full Assembly.Interest groups have voiced opposition to the reforms, which they say would be bad for the economy. The Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce (CCCR) warned in a public statement that approval of the bill would increase legal uncertainty and harm foreign investment and employment.The recent dockworkers’ strike in the Caribbean province of Limón “is an example of the abuse of this right in the public sector,” they stated.“The business climate would not be positive,” CCCR Vice President Víctor Ruiz said. “Efforts to attract foreign direct investment will become more difficult.”The National Chamber of Retailers – which includes some 5,700 small and medium-sized businesses – wants an amendment for the hiring of temporary and foreign workers to replace those on strike.“We respect the workers’ constitutional right to strike. But our sector believes that the exercise of these rights should be within the bounds of reason and proportionality without affecting citizens’ rights,” the chamber stated.The Costa Rican Chamber of Importers, Distributors and Representatives believes the bill would undermine confidence and affect jobs “at a time when unemployment remains at historical highs.”If Solís lifts the veto, the bill would need the approval of at least 38 lawmakers in two separate rounds of voting. Facebook Comments Related posts:President Solís lifts veto on Labor Procedures Bill, promises to ban strikes in essential public services Costa Rican lawmakers go to battle against President Solís’ reversal of labor reform veto Costa Rica’s Solís denies secret agreement with unions on Monday’s strike Government tables draft bills aimed at approving fiscal reformslast_img read more

Cup of Excellence 2015 Auction

first_imgLuis Ricardo Calderón, from Santa María de Dota, drums up support for his friends’ coffee during the Cup of Excellence auction Wednesday at the Specialty Coffee Association of Costa Rica. Calderón, whose coffee placed 21st, used a Skype feed to communicate with bidders in Sweden. The winner of Costa Rica’s2015 Cup of Excellence, Manuel Antonio Barrantes of Leoncio, Cafetalera Herbazú received a whopping $64,034 for his lot. Maruyama Coffee and Cafe Maple from Japan, and Campos Coffee from Australia won the bid for Barrantes’ coffee, paying $41.20 per lb. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica’s best coffee comes from this hillside in Alajuela Costa Rica’s best coffee hails once again from Naranjo Costa Rica leads Central America in Cup of Excellence coffee auction Finding Costa Rica’s best coffee, one slurp at a timelast_img read more

Costa Rica to purchase eight new trains from Chinese company

first_imgThe Costa Rican Railroad Institute (INCOFER) announced that it will buy eight new trains from CRRC Quingdao Sifang Co. Ltd, a Chinese company dedicated to researching, developing and manufacturing railway locomotives and rolling stock products. The announcement, made Dec. 3, detailed that each 38-meter train consist of two Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) —train cars with onboard diesel engines— and can hold 372 passengers. The engines are being made to INCOFER specifications and will have noise reduction technology and comply with EU STAGE IIIA environmental standards, according to a press release from the Casa Presidencial.“We have the obligation to modernize our railway system to guarantee sustainable, efficient and quality transportation for our population,” said First Lady Claudia Dobles, an architect and urban planner whose taken on urban mobility as a cause.“Our medium-term goal is the electric train, and in the short term it’s essential to renovate our current rolling stock, which is exactly what INCOFER is announcing today.” Compare prices on flights with SkyscannerThe project will cost $32.7 million and includes maintenance equipment, workshops, spare parts and training for INCOFER employees.“The technical proposal by CRRC Quingdao Sifang Co., Ltd. is serious and it complies with the technical parameters required by INCOFER during the bidding process,” said Elizabeth Briceño, executive president of INCOFER.The trains, which are said to have a 30-year lifespan and include LED screens with information for passengers, air conditioning and space for two wheelchairs each, are expected to be delivered 18 months after the contract is signed. Thanks for reading The Tico Times. We strive to keep you up to date about everything that’s been happening in Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we need your help. The Tico Times is partly funded by you and every little bit helps. If all our readers chipped in a buck a month we’d be set for years. Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Train service in Costa Rica resumes Wednesday following strike Legislative Assembly passes bill to jumpstart electric train system Lawmaker proposes suspending permits of motorists who crash into trains Costa Rica announces charging grid for electric vehicleslast_img read more

Videla denies Argentine dictatorship baby thefts

first_imgVidela led the military junta from 1976 to 1981, following a coup that he staged with other military officials. He is now on trial for kidnapping and hiding minors under the age of 10 during the dictatorship. Argentina’s Supreme Court struck two amnesty laws in 2005 that had protected military officials from dictatorship-era human rights crimes. Since then, many of the officials have been jailed.Prosecutors are asking for a 50-year prison sentence for Videla, who was sentenced to a second life sentence in 2011 for human rights abuses. The prosecutors argue that the military regime set up detention centers where mothers were kept until they gave birth.During closing arguments Tuesday, Videla said he was a political prisoner and called the case a farce set up to satisfy “a quest for revenge” by those who were “defeated by the military” in the 1970s.“I will assume under protest the unjust sentence that I might be given for my contribution in the achievement of national harmony,” Videla said.The trial began Feb. 2011 but the sentence date has not been set yet. Also standing trial is Reynaldo Bignone, the last president during the dictatorship, as well as several former military officials and a doctor who assisted the pregnant women in captivity. “If the removal of an underage minor took place, it was not because of an implicit order . framed in a systematic plan and coming from the upper ranks of the armed forces during the years of the war against terrorism,” Videla said. With his thick glasses, white hair and mustache, Videla looked more like a grandfather than the former strongman who was sentenced to life in prison in 2010 for kidnapping, torture and murder.Videla continued: “All the pregnant ones referred to in the suit and by prosecutors were active militants of a mechanism of terror and many of them used their child embryos as human shields when they operated as fighters.”Human rights groups estimate that up to 30,000 people were killed in a government-sponsored crackdown on leftist dissidents during the so-called Dirty War. Official estimates put the number at 13,000 _ many of them women, whose babies were kidnapped and adopted by army families or allies of the regime and illegally registered.The activist group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo says some 500 children were born while their mothers were in captivity. The group has helped 106 of them reunite with their biological families. The kidnapping of babies from mothers in captivity is considered a crime against humanity. Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk At the time of the Dirty War, the junta denied any knowledge of the baby thefts, let alone responsibility for the disappearance of political prisoners. In public, the U.S. government also was circumspect, even as the junta’s death squads kidnapped and killed its opponents.A former U.S. diplomat testified earlier this year that U.S. officials knew Argentina’s military regime was taking babies from jailed dissidents during the Dirty War and that it appeared to be a systematic effort at the time.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 4 must play golf courses in Arizonacenter_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Top Stories 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Associated PressBUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla denied Tuesday that his government stole babies from women who were detained and then executed during the country’s 1976-1983 dictatorship.Videla, 86, was defiant as he testified during a trial on charges that his administration stole 34 babies from their mothers as they were held in torture centers, going so far as to blame the women. Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   last_img read more

A mausoleum built for Bolivar but worthy of Chavez

first_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family It will cradle the remains of South American independence leader Simon Bolivar, who Chavez daily, rapturously and exhaustively exalts as the spiritual father of his own self-styled revolution.The 160-foot (50-meter) mausoleum is to be inaugurated in the coming days, though it is not quite finished.Its construction has been delayed, shrouded in secrecy and alternately hailed as fit for a hero of Bolivar’s historical grandeur and criticized as an exaggerated reflection of Chavez’s own ego and alleged desire to be seen as a reincarnation of the independence hero.Its solemn black granite-floored interior is ready, but the surrounding plaza is not. Workers have been toiling day and night in recent weeks, laying patio tiles, wiring lamps, landscaping and molding concrete steps.Chavez proposed the shrine, devoted exclusively to “The Liberator,” two years ago when he decided he needed to know whether Venezuela’s main founding father was poisoned.Historians have generally thought that Bolivar, who rallied revolutionaries who won independence from Spain for what would become Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, succumbed to tuberculosis in 1830 at age 47. Comments   Share   Chavez’s rival in the presidential race, Henrique Capriles, said during a speech on Tuesday that the best way to honor Bolivar would be “solving Venezuelans’ problems.”Capriles also said in a message on Twitter that regardless of what Chavez says, “the legacy of our Liberator Simon Bolivar belongs to all of us and will never belong to a certain political party.”___Associated Press writers Jorge Rueda, Fabiola Sanchez and Ian James contributed to this report.___Frank Bajak on Twitter: (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates But Chavez said he suspected otherwise. So he ordered Bolivar’s tomb opened to great fanfare and convened a team of international scientists to study the remains. The initial verdict came on Bolivar’s last birthday anniversary: No evidence of foul play.By then, government officials had already decided it was high time to move Bolivar’s bones from the adjacent National Pantheon, where his remains have been kept since 1876 along with those of more than 100 fellow heroes and heroines of the nation, which at Chavez’s urging was renamed the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.Chavez on Tuesday unveiled a new, photograph-like portrait of Bolivar, produced by researchers based on their studies of his remains. Chavez presented the image of Bolivar’s face during an event at the presidential palace marking the 229th anniversary of his birth.As for the mausoleum, Chavez said a few final details remain to be finished.Its completion was initially promised for December 2011, then for May, the delays mocked by Chavez’s detractors as typical of his 13-year-old administration.Critics have also decried the lack of transparency.Governments typically solicit proposals from renowned architects for such projects, opening them to an international field. Vidal called the mausoleum an “unnecessary” expenditure given the need in the very neighborhood it sits for investment in housing and better health care. From the top of the monument, where workers say a persistent flame will burn, one looks down to the east on a squalid collection of tin-roofed hovels.But others believe Venezuelans deserve a towering monument.“I don’t think it’s exaggerated at all,” said Isis Berroteran, a 47-year-old housewife from the west-central town of Cagua as she admired it from her car. “The Pantheon, although spectacular, had become pretty small as the city grew.”A foreman whose workers were painting pipes inside the mausoleum’s shell on Sunday, Jose Freytes, said he was initially skeptical of the monument but came to appreciate it as it took form.Other countries, including the United States, have built imposing monuments to their founders. Why not Venezuela? After all, Bolivar helped liberate many lands.“The essence of the idea is to elevate the name of Bolivar internationally. That’s what it’s about,” said Freytes. “I think the president is doing the right thing.” Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths He did not say what exactly Chavez suggested, and defended the austere contemporary style, adding that natural light entering the roof would render “a sensitive and magical appearance” to Bolivar’s pedestal-elevated sarcophagus.In a blog entry entitled “Arrogance,” Tenreiro remarked on the high quality of the construction and imported materials, including for the exterior white Spanish ceramic tiles and “weathering” steel that oxidizes to orange without losing strength.“One appreciates the enormous mass, limpid and seductive in itself but gigantic and absurd, out of context, possessive of the same sin as the political system from which it originates.”Tenreiro expressed concern that the mausoleum’s sloping southern facade, which connects it with the Pantheon, will become a water slide in heavy rains, potentially flooding the smaller, neoclassical former church.A member of the governing board of Venezuela’s College of Architects, Mitchele Vidal, did not like that the Pantheon, its back wall removed, was “converted into a hallway for entering the mausoleum.”Other critics have likened the sloping wall to that of a skate park, prompting Sesto to post on his blog a series of world-renowned edifices that also sport a slope. Associated PressCARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – The towering, white mausoleum in downtown Caracas is for many Venezuelans a lot like Hugo Chavez, only in architectural terms: disproportionately larger-than-life, flamboyant and self-important.And no, the grand tomb was not built for Venezuela’s socialist president, who has grappled with his own mortality in his recent battle with cancer and is running for re-election. Men’s health affects baby’s health too Not this one.“In this case he gave it to friends, although it’s not quite clear to me to whom exactly,” said Oscar Tenreiro, a prominent Caracas architect who disapproves of the mausoleum.No one has publicly identified the architect, though the person in charge of the project is Francisco Sesto, a Spanish-born architect named “Minister of State for the Transformation of Greater Caracas” by Chavez in late 2010.Chavez created the job after an opposition candidate was elected mayor of Caracas; Sesto is a former culture minister whose job includes overseeing housing construction in the capital.Chavez interrupted his televised speech on Tuesday to let Sesto make a televised appearance outside the mausoleum. “We’re ready to turn over this mausoleum now,” Sesto said.Sesto did not respond to repeated requests for an interview through his spokeswoman.In a public discussion of the project in early June, Sesto said it cost $140 million and was built because “we have always had the sense that Bolivar needed a mausoleum worthy of his grandeur.”“There was a lot of criticism that his remains were not in a dignified state” in the Pantheon, he added, noting that those who designed the mausoleum “heard a lot of ideas, including those of the president.” Sponsored Stories Elias Pino, a historian and leading expert on Bolivar, considers the mausoleum Chavez’s way of deepening his own identification in people’s minds with the national hero.“The political intent is that President Hugo Chavez be proclaimed the agent of Bolivar’s will and interpreter of the gospel of Bolivar,” he said.“This monument will tie together both figures,” he said, “and will not just be the mausoleum of Bolivar but also the entrance of President Chavez into the pantheon of patriots.”At public events, Chavez has sometimes raised a sword that belonged to Bolivar. On Tuesday, the president held up two old pistols that he said belonged to Bolivar and his lover Manuela Saenz, and had been donated to the government by a wealthy businessman who bought them at an auction in New York.“They aren’t for me, of course,” Chavez said. “He had them and decided to donate them to the republic.”Chavez listened as Yanuacelis Cruz, an expert on the team that has examined Bolivar’s bones, said further tests are being carried out to determine whether Bolivar had histoplasmosis, a fungal illness with symptoms similar to those of tuberculosis. Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona How men can have a healthy 2019last_img read more

Obama Handful of senators standing in way of Patriot Act

first_img Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement “I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we are dark,” he said. “And heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who is engaged in dangerous activity but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate.”Among the provisions that would expire is the National Security Agency’s ability to search and amass Americans’ phone records. The most prominent critic of the legislation is Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a GOP presidential contender. In an interview Friday between campaign stops in South Carolina, Paul said voters are encouraging him to continue fighting the government’s bulk collection programs.McConnell is calling the Senate back into session Sunday, just hours before the midnight deadline, “to make every effort to provide the intelligence community with the tools it needs to combat terror,” his spokesman, Don Stewart, said Friday.But it’s not clear lawmakers will have any new solution.Obama argued that changes made in the Patriot Act would provide greater civil liberties protections while retaining essential law enforcement tools. He said many of the authorities that would expire are non-controversial, such as the use of so-called “roving wiretaps” that track suspects through their multiple cell phone usage. Top Stories Comments   Share   Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober WASHINGTON (AP) — Blaming a “handful of senators” for stalled national security legislation, President Barack Obama said Friday he has told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senators that he expects them to take action swiftly to extend key Patriot Act provisions.Without action by midnight Sunday, a number of tools that permit law enforcement to pursue and investigate suspected terrorists will expire. Obama pinned responsibility directly on the Senate if something were to go awry. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Sponsored Stories “The only thing that is standing in the way is a handful of senators who are resisting these reforms despite law enforcement and the (intelligence community) saying ‘let’s go ahead and get this done,’” he said as he wrapped up an Oval Office meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img read more

American Samoa dialysis clinic reopens after 2day closure

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies How long a patient can safely go without dialysis depends on factors such as health condition and age, said Dr. Anjay Rastogi, director the dialysis program at the University of California, Los Angeles.Generally, patients require the treatment three times a week, with some cases requiring four treatments, Rastogi said. Some patients can go a week without dialysis, but some with no kidney function can go only three or four days, he said.“The short end of it, it’s very time-sensitive,” Rastogi said, adding he’s especially concerned about those who might not have had dialysis since Monday.He noted any contamination in the solution used for dialysis could be fatal.Another shipment is due to arrive Friday night from Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines, the only carrier connecting American Samoa to the U.S.Additionally, a U.S. military flight is scheduled to arrive Monday afternoon from Honolulu with the rest of the supplies, Tafiti said.___Associated Press writer Jennifer Sinco Kelleher in Honolulu contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 0 Comments   Share   Top Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Those being treated Friday to Sunday are patients who had appointments scheduled for Wednesday through Saturday. Regularly scheduled appointments are expected to resume Monday.“Those who came in say that they knew that the cargo flight had landed and decided to come to the hospital — taking their chances that the clinic will open thereafter,” said dialysis unit nurse manager Olita Tafiti. “I guess word got out quickly that the shipment did in fact arrive on island.”Tafiti said three dialysis patients admitted themselves to the emergency room early Friday afternoon, and they were the first to get treatment when the clinic opened.Until Friday, there were no other options for dialysis patients on the island with a population of about 55,000, roughly 2,300 miles south of Hawaii.The recalled solution was from off-island supplier Fresenius Medical Care. Its North American headquarters is in Waltham, Massachusetts.The recall occurred after sample testing showed the substance — NaturaLyte Liquid Bicarbonate Concentrate — might eventually develop bacteria levels that exceed acceptable limits, Fresenius spokesman Jon Stone said.The company expedited the shipment of replacement liquid bicarbonate to American Samoa, Stone said. PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) — American Samoa’s only dialysis clinic reopened Friday after a product recall forced it to close for two days.LBJ Medical Center said the clinic reopened at 4 p.m. Friday and began treating patients who require dialysis. The clinic shut down Wednesday after the hospital learned of a recall of a solution used in its machines. A fresh supply arrived to the island around 2 p.m. Friday. The clinic had been scheduled to reopen at 1 a.m. Saturday. Check your body, save your life Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous oflast_img read more

UN group urges Peru to do more on missing from civil war

first_imgArgentine human rights lawyer Ariel Dulitzky said Peru’s military should “make a clear commitment to cooperate with the search for truth and justice.”The conflict pitted Peru’s armed forces and self-defense groups against two leftist movements, the Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. A truth commission estimates as many as 70,000 died.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. LIMA, Peru (AP) — A United Nations working group says Peru needs to determine the exact number of people missing from its 1980-2000 civil conflict, develop a plan for researching the violence and create a national map of graves holding those killed.Discussing its visit to Peru, the U.N. delegation said Wednesday that the government should adopt a comprehensive law addressing issues arising from forced “disappearances” by security forces, including working with victims’ families and clearly repudiating such violence. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Parents, stop beating yourself upcenter_img Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments   Share   Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall The difference between men and women when it comes to painlast_img read more

Thailand junta cancels human rights report launch on Vietnam

first_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories Thai police said in a statement Friday the scheduled event at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, or FCCT, could “have an impact on the country’s security or could affect the friendship and cooperation between Thailand and Vietnam.”It is the third event in one month that has been cancelled at the venue. Two previous seminars that were shutdown involved topics about human rights situation in Thailand and the country’s harsh lese majeste law protecting its monarchy.More than a dozen plainclothes and uniformed police officers were waiting outside the club, along with a police truck parked nearby. The FCCT said it received a written order from the police, issued on behalf of the ruling junta, to cancel the press conference by Human Rights Watch where the report was to be launched.“The FCCT complied with the written request, which was also sent to HRW,” the club said in a statement. However, the human rights report was available on the group’s website. An electronic version was also sent to journalists by email.The FCCT lets out its premises for public events as a service for the media, diplomatic community and students.The forced cancellation of the event is “very disappointing” and is “another affirmation that human rights organizations can no longer report, not only about situation in Thailand, but situations in neighboring countries in Southeast Asia,” said Sunai Phasuk, Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher in Asia. “Thailand is now going to be known as the defender of human rights violators in (Southeast Asia), which added more damage to Thailand’s already tarnished international reputation under the military rule,” he added.Thai authorities have cracked down on critics and dissents since the military seized power from a civilian government in last May’s coup.The Thailand section on Human Rights Watch’s webpage was briefly blocked by the government.In its report, Human Rights Watch called for the Vietnamese government to “end abusive policies and practices” that have forced hundreds of Montagnards to flee the country.It said the Montagnards’ beliefs and faith practices, such as De Ga Protestantism and Ha Mon Catholicism, are suppressed by the government on the grounds that they are not religions at all. It said the Montagnards have been subjected to intimidation, arbitrary arrests and mistreatment in custody.There was no immediate response from the Vietnamese government on the report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments   Share   5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s military government on Friday forced a human rights group to cancel the public launch of its report on the Vietnamese government’s persecution of an ethnic minority, saying it could affect national security and bilateral relations.The 33-page report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch describes persecution of Montagnard Christians in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, whose religious practices have been described by the government as “evil.” Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Mesa family survives lightning strike to homelast_img read more

Dubai plans to build 3D printed office building

first_img 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 The vital role family plays in society Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility “This building will be a testimony to the efficiency and creativity of 3-D printing technology, which we believe will play a major role in reshaping construction and design sectors,” he said in a statement.The roughly 2,000 square-foot office building and furniture used inside will be printed out layer by layer from a mixture of reinforced concrete, gypsum and plastic using a 20-foot tall 3-D printer.The project is a partnership with WinSun Global, a Chinese company which has begun assembling houses and other buildings made using 3-D printers, and architectural and engineering firms Gensler, Thornton Thomasetti, and Syska Hennessy.The Emirati statement said 3-D printing technology has the potential to cut building construction time and labor costs by at least half, and reduce construction waste by 30 to 60 percent. It described the proposed Dubai office as “the most advanced 3-D printed structure ever built at this scale” and the first to be put into actual use.No details on the timeframe or cost were made public.Officials plan to use the office as the temporary headquarters of a $136 million “Museum of the Future” announced earlier this year that is expected to open in 2017. Dubai is already home to a number of fanciful man-made islands, including one archipelago depicting a map of the world, as well as the world’s tallest building, the 828-meter (2,717-foot) tall Burj Khalifa.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Fast-growing Dubai, where something new is always being added to the skyline, may have found a way to make construction move even faster.The Gulf commercial hub on Tuesday announced plans to add the world’s first office building made using three-dimensional printer technology to its collection of eye-catching buildings.Mohammed al-Gergawi, the United Arab Emirates’ minister of Cabinet affairs, said the project is part of a broader effort by the seven-state federation to embrace cutting-edge technology and make it a global hub for innovation.last_img read more