TORONTO — Every traveller wants to discover hidden gems that are ‘off the beaten path.’ But a lot can be said about tried and true destinations, the ones that are swarming with tourists throughout the year. They continue to be ranked among the world’s most popular places for one simple reason: they’re just awesome.Earlier this month, Mastercard released its Global Destination Cities Index, which ranks the 132 most visited cities around the world. Measured by the number of international overnight visitors, the study predicts which countries will be the most visited in 2016.So which city came in at #1? Drumroll please… Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, September 27, 2016 And the world’s most visited city in 2016 is… Tags: Thailand Posted by Travelweek Group No surprise here, Thailand’s bustling and beautiful capital city – Bangkok – beat out all other cities in 2016!Here is the complete list:Bangkok, Thailand (21.47 million international visitors)London, England (19.88 million international visitors)Paris, France (18.03 million international visitors)Dubai, United Arab Emirates (15.27 million international visitors)New York City, USA (12.75 million international visitors)Singapore (12.11 million international visitors)Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (12.02 million international visitors)Istanbul, Turkey (11.95 million international visitors)Tokyo, Japan (11.70 million international visitors)Seoul, South Korea (10.20 million international visitors)Hong Kong, China (8.37 million international visitors)Barcelona, Spain (8.20 million international visitors)Amsterdam, Netherlands (8 million international visitors)Milan, Italy (7.65 million international visitors)Taipei, Taiwan (7.5 million international visitors)Rome, Italy (7.12 million international visitors)Osaka, Japan (7.02 million international visitors)Vienna, Austria (6.69 million international visitors)Shanghai, China (6.12 million international visitors)Prague, Czech Republic (5.81 million international visitors)
ORLANDO — Universal Orlando has added 25 new attractions in 7 years. In the words of Universal Creative’s Senior VP Thierry Coup, it’s been an “epic transformation”.Epic is a word that gets used a lot around here. And with good reason, given the size and scale of Universal’s ambitions. In less than 10 years Universal Orlando has gone from a 1-park operation in 1990, Universal Studios Florida – where guests were invited to “Ride the Movies” – to a two-park, multi-day theme park with the addition of Islands of Adventure in 1999. That same year Universal opened its dining and shopping venue Universal CityWalk Orlando along with the first of its on-site hotels, Loews Portofino Bay. More would follow.Now Universal is getting ready to open a new water theme park, Volcano Bay, on May 25. After just 27 years Universal Orlando now has three theme parks, five on-site hotels (with construction well underway on a sixth property, Universal’s Aventura Hotel, right next to Loews Sapphire Falls) and many more plans for new attractions including a Fast and the Furious ride in 2018, along with a new partnership with Nintendo. Universal is also said to be eyeing the addition of thousands more on-site hotel rooms. There’s never a dull moment around here, and with all the competition, there can’t be. “I would say we’re fanatics when it comes to reinventing the theme park,” says Coup.Coup was on hand yesterday at Universal Studios to show off the theme park’s newest attraction, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. Media from around the world, in town for the opening of Volcano Bay, got a chance to speed with Jimmy through the streets of New York City and the subway tunnels, down into the depths of the East River and all the way up to the moon. The motion simulator ride, open since April 2017, takes over Twister’s spot at Universal Studios, in a replica of New York’s 30 Rockefeller where The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is taped.More news: Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & Mexico“Not everyone is going to get to go to New York City or attend a live taping for The Tonight Show,” says Jason Surrell, part of the Universal Creative team. “We wanted to bring that experience to life for people.” Race Through New York uses Universal’s Virtual Line technology, allowing guests to check out all the Tonight Show memorabilia – dating back to first host Steve Allen in 1954, through to Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and now Jimmy Fallon – while waiting line-free for their turn on the ride. Everyone gets a colour-coded card – one colour for each of the feathers in the NBC peacock – and that determines boarding order. The whole process starts with a tap on the Universal Studios app. It sounds confusing but it’s easy to do, and with the way theme parks are going – doing everything in their power to get rid of the interminable lineups, the number one source of guest dissatisfaction – it seems like it’s the way of the future.Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon at Universal StudiosHashtag the Panda gets to channel King Kong hanging from the Empire State Building in Race Through New York Starring Jimmy FallonThe Tonight Show’s hosts through the years at Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon at Universal StudiosLoews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal OrlandoCoup admits that the Universal team gave itself high expectations to live up to with the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010 and Diagon Alley in 2014. With their immersive storytelling these two attractions “set the bar even higher,” he said. “They completely redefined the theme park experience.”More news: Flights cancelled as British Airways hit by computer problemVolcano Bay opens for a media preview May 24 and to the general public on May 25. Share Posted by About Latest Posts Kathryn FolliottEditor at TravelweekKathryn is Editor at Travelweek and has worked for the company since 1995. She has travelled to more than 50 countries and counts Hong Kong, Jerusalem, the Swiss Alps and the Galapagos Islands among her favourite destinations. Latest posts by Kathryn Folliott (see all) “They need to go where the bucks are”: Agents on ACTA partnership – April 18, 2019 As the cost of doing business climbs, host agencies, retail groups say they have options – April 4, 2019 As of 2021 Europe-bound clients will need to apply online for a visa waiver and pay a fee – April 3, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >> Racing through NYC on the way to Volcano Bay: the latest from Universal Orlando Tags: Orlando, Theme Parks & Attractions, Universal Studios Kathryn Folliott Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Tuesday, October 2, 2018 MISSISSAUGA — TICO’s Board of Directors has approved a payment of $5,696.12 from the Travel Industry Compensation Fund to assist six consumers who did not receive the travel services for which they had paid, due to the closures of Canadian Fares Inc. in Toronto ($1,596.16) and Transaero Airlines in Russia ($4,099.96).In addition, as a result of the failure of Sinorama Holidays Inc. on Aug. 8, 2018, payments of $68,083.82 from the Travel Industry Compensation Fund were approved by the Statutory Director under the immediate departure and trip completion (repatriation) provisions under Ontario Regulation 26/05 of the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002. A total of 136 consumers were assisted.A payment of $12,542.66 was approved for trip completion to assist six consumers already in destination at the time of the failure, and a payment of $55,542.16 to assist 130 consumers who had immediate departures to various destinations.There is a legislated six-month filing deadline for all claims to the Travel Industry Compensation Fund.More news: A new low for no-frills flying: easyJet assigns backless seat to passengerConsumers who may be affected by the failure of Sinorama Vacations Inc. have a deadline of Feb. 11, 2019 to submit any claims related the non-provision of future travel resulting from this failure, says TICO. Share Sinorama collapse included in TICO Board’s latest Comp Fund update Tags: Closures, Sinorama, TICO Travelweek Group Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>
TORONTO — While agents know Busabout for its European adventures, the tour company brings the same connectivity and expertise to Southeast Asia and new for this year, its USA Hop-on Hop-off program, says Damien Bennett, VP of Sales for North America, Busabout. Last night Busabout showcased its style right here in Toronto with a fun Hop-on Hop-off experience for local travel agents.The Travelweek Group’s Taylor Waver joined the Toronto tour, which took in the city’s colourful Grafitti Alley on Queen St. West near Spadina before heading to Original Grill on Danforth and Lob Toronto, billed as home to the city’s only 9-track bocce-golf course.Lob TorontoLater Travelweek caught up with Bennett to learn more about Busabout’s tours, trips styles and experiences…Travelweek: What’s new for Busabout in 2019? Bennett: “We’re very excited to launch the U.S. as our newest destination and it will offer both the Hop-on Hop-off way of exploration and our Adventure style trips. Clients opting for the West Coast Hop-on Hop-off Unlimited Pass can create their own adventure with access to eight unmissable destinations, including San Francisco, L.A., Las Vegas and South Lake Tahoe. Optional stops include popular cities Santa Barbara, San Diego or connecting with nature at Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Lakes. Our new USA 2019 program also features 11 Adventure style trips spanning from three days to three weeks. “The hand-crafted itineraries, led by expert guides, include accommodation, daily breakfast, all coach transportation, a Busabout Guide and driver, a number of included experiences and plenty of free time. Clients can road trip through the States from east to west, or explore one area in great depth; the choice is theirs. Top trips include a 22-day West to East Road Trip, nine-day Southern Blues Adventure and a week-long Canada Rockies Adventure.“We’ve also included reduced pricing for all of our Hop-on Hop-off passes in Europe and the introduction of the new one-week Hop-On Hop-Off pass. The new one-week European pass allows clients with limited vacation time to craft their own perfect week-long adventure.“Another new highlight this year will be the introduction of our Small Group Adventures category in Europe, featuring no more than 20 people with seven new itineraries spanning seven to 14 days. The new guided adventures are designed to dive deeper into top destinations on the Hop-on Hop-off coach network with the expertise of a dedicated guide. Including all accommodation and some tasty meals, these itineraries cover the must-do’s while leaving plenty of free time for independent exploring. New Small Group Adventure trips include the nine-day Hidden Gems adventure which takes travellers hiking in the Austrian Alps, rafting in Bled and off the beaten track in Venice, and the 14-day Eastern Wanderer trip ticking off hot spots in Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary and Croatia. We’ve also added four exciting new Adventure trips to the lineup this year including the two-day Greek Odyssey adventure which is the perfect sailing trip add-on for clients looking to spend their summers on water, and three new trips through Spain and Portugal – the 15-day Ultimate Iberian Adventure, eight-day Iberian Highlights and eight-day Iberian Trail.” Grafitti AlleyTravelweek: Within the ‘Hop-on Hop-off’ format, are there different travel styles and what can you tell us about them?Bennett: “With the Hop-on Hop-off passes there are multiple duration options, however the network operates the same regardless of the duration the traveller chooses. “Passes range from one-week to unlimited, giving clients the freedom to choose and create an itinerary that suits their time and budget. “For 2019, Busabout is introducing the one-week pass as a standalone option because clients are seeking a two to three city option to fit within the short vacation times they have. “We’re also seeing around a third of our travellers adding on to our Adventure trips, so the one-week pass keeps the classic flexibility of Hop-on Hop-off while offering more choices for those with limited vacation time.” Travelweek: How is Busabout performing in the Canadian market and what sells particularly well here?Bennett: “Busabout is continuing to thrive in the Canadian market. Following a strong 2017, 2018 saw a roughly 85% increase in trade bookings and we’re currently on track to see roughly 70% growth in 2019. “In Canada, Hop-on Hop-off with multiple buys is selling well. We’ve seen travellers creating their perfect adventure by pairing our Festivals, Small Group Adventures, Island Hopping and Adventures trips with the Hop-on Hop-off Europe network to customize their trip from beginning to end. As well, our traditionally strong selling destinations of Croatia, Greece and Italy continue to sell well in Canada.” Grafitti AlleyTravelweek: Can you offer any selling tips for Busabout’s small group adventure program?Bennett: “Time and time again we’ve received feedback from our guests saying they want more intimate, smaller group adventures and unique experiences. Our new Small Group Adventures offer agents’ clients just that: the perfect combination of the classic can’t-miss cities and off-the-beaten-path destinations to create a more personalized and memorable adventure to match what young travellers are seeking. Clients will also spend multiple nights in each spot so they will really experience each destination rather than just seeing it, with intimate cultural exploration, epic inclusions and plenty of time to explore like a local. “Another great tip for agents when trying to close a sale is on price. Young travellers are often price conscious, so agents can use our Small Group Adventures as a way to sell to clients looking for a cost-effective vacation. The Small Group Adventures come at a great value for travellers’ money, costing approximately $130 per day.”Travelweek: What role do travel agents play in Busabout’s success?Bennett: “Travel agents play a significant role in Busabout’s success. With the growth we have seen and continue to see through trade bookings over the past couple of years, we see our loyal travel agent partners as the real foundation for driving our mutual businesses. Busabout offers a range of completely unique adventures, so the diversity we bring to our agent’s client offerings will continue to help them in closing more and more sales.” Busabout’s Toronto presentation hits the road with a Hop-on Hop-off tour for agents Travelweek Group Tags: Busabout, Interview Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> Thursday, January 24, 2019 Share
Share Cunard’s Steve Smotrys promoted to VP Sales, North America Tags: Cunard << Previous PostNext Post >> Thursday, August 1, 2019 Travelweek Group Posted by VALENCIA, CA — Cunard has promoted Steve Smotrys, Director of Sales, Cunard North America to the role of Vice President of Sales, Cunard North America.In his new role, Smotrys will work closely with John Chernesky, Senior Vice President North America Sales & Trade Marketing for Princess Cruises and Cunard North America, and the Regional Sales Directors to provide leadership to the field sales team.He will also work closely with Jamie Paiko, Senior Director, Marketing and Customer Service, and the marketing team on the trade marketing strategy in the region. Smotrys will report to Josh Leibowitz, Senior Vice President, Cunard North America, and Chief Strategy Officer for Carnival Corporation and John Chernesky for field sales coordination and leadership.Said Leibowitz: “Steve has been instrumental in the evolution of the dedicated Cunard National Accounts team as a Director of Sales. Please join me in congratulating Steven on his expanded role.”In 2000, Smotrys joined Princess as a Yield Management Analyst and went on to lead teams in revenue planning and shore excursions, working closely with marketing and sales. He then moved to the role of Sales Planning Manager for Cunard in 2013, and became a liaison between the shared Princess and Cunard sales team, and the Cunard revenue planning/marketing team. More news: Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perksFor more information, visit OneSource or call Cunard toll free at 1-800-528-6273.
From the print editionWalking up to the bright blue gates of the Canadian International School in suburban San José, it is easy to see that this is no ordinary school. At first glance, the brightly colored murals on the walls and the ancient Indian burial ground just past the front gates catch your eye, but what really makes this school different is an unassuming, painted spiral at the school’s center – a labyrinth.“When you go out there it looks like just a bunch of lines on the cement, but it’s a process,” said John Ovens, the school’s director. “You go in it and you change. Your ideas, your frustrations, they all change.” A labyrinth has a single path with one entrance that also serves as the exit. Rather than being confusing, like a maze, a labyrinth is designed to spur right-brain activity and facilitate meditation. Labyrinths date back to ancient times in civilizations across the globe, and, in some studies, the act of walking them has been associated with everything from decreased stress levels to a general feeling of well-being. To Ovens and Ronald Esquivel, the project’s designer, these benefits can assist no one more than teenagers. “We arrived at the concept that kids and teenagers generally encounter conflict and contrast on a daily basis,” said Esquivel. “Contrast is overcome through resolution, so we used the basic form of a three-partitioned spiral to create that resolution.”Esquivel’s resolution labyrinth is the second he has built in the country and he is planning six more over the next few years. His first labyrinth, in Tamarindo, is the largest known labyrinth in the world. Esquivel’s work can be seen at www.LabyrinthDesign.net. Facebook Comments No related posts.
In 24 simultaneous raids early Saturday morning in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, Judicial Investigation Police took down a well-coordinated international human smuggling ring that operated in both Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Police had known about the criminal network for 10 years, but only had been able to collect enough evidence to disrupt it in the past seven months.The raids began at 6 a.m. Saturday morning in the northern Costa Rican cities of La Cruz, Liberia and Bagaces. OIJ agents arrested at least 14 suspects, including five police officers, and discovered 47 Nicaraguan citizens without legal immigration documents in a stash house in Liberia, awaiting transportation to San José.The owner of the house, a 30-year-old Costa Rican woman, also was detained.The Tico Times first reported on the human smuggling ring last November, including the difficulties investigators confronted in building a case due to the criminal network’s changing modi operandi. It also appears that members of the gang often were tipped off by several local police officers. A Costa Rican police officer is arrested Saturday, April 26, 2014 in the northwestern provincial capital of Liberia. Five cops were arrested and accused of aiding an international human trafficking ring. The Tico TimesOn the Costa Rican side of the border, the operation was run by the criminal gang Los Katanos, well known in the area both to police and local residents. Members of Los Katanos worked with another gang in Nicaragua, who smuggled mostly Nicaraguan immigrants across the border and handed them over to members of Los Katanos. Immigrants were kept in homes in northern Costa Rica until they could be transported to San José.According to investigators, smugglers usually charged each person only $130-160 for the trip, and victims were smuggled in customized vehicles with tinted windows and reinforced suspension, enabling the transport of up to 12 people per vehicle. The group operated in caravans of six or more vehicles, with the first serving as a lookout for police checkpoints. To avoid those checkpoints, which are common near Costa Rica’s northern border with Nicaragua, smugglers drove their human cargo to mountainous farms in La Cruz, Liberia and Abangares, where they waited until police left and the roads were clear.Of the five police officers arrested, three worked in Bagaces and two in Liberia. In San José, three suspected members of the Nicaraguan criminal organization were arrested, along with six Costa Ricans. OIJ agents seized at least four vehicles, several cellphones and documents, and more arrests are expected as police pursue additional suspects.Last November, Liberia’s Assistant Prosecutor Liliana Zamora told The Tico Times:We have identified organized crime networks that are working with immigrants traveling in both directions, including Nicaraguan immigrants and those who come from Africa, Asia and South America. Judicial Investigation Police arrest a suspected member of a human-smuggling gang in northern Costa Rica on April 26, 2014. The Tico TimesThe Tico Times first learned of the human smuggling ring on Oct. 29, when Costa Rican National Police in Liberia detained two African immigrants from Somalia and one from Eritrea. The three men were part of a group of 14 citizens from African countries – 13 men and one woman – who entered Costa Rica from the Panamanian border crossing at Paso Canoas earlier the same day.At the time, Zamora said authorities faced challenges in dismantling the ring because victims are uncooperative and afraid of deportation or retaliation by smugglers.But that same month, police got a break in the case, tipped off by a confidential informant with information that allowed investigators to begin building their case, culminating in Saturday morning’s raids.The suspects were placed in preventive detention and could face up to eight years in prison if convicted. The arrested police officers could face up to 10 years in jail.Recommended: Police in Costa Rica’s northwestern province losing battle against immigrant smuggling ringsCorrection: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly described the criminal operation as a “human trafficking ring.” In this case, the operation was focused on transporting persons from one country to another, not necessarily for their exploitation. While we do have previous statements indicating the same criminal band is involved in cases of human trafficking, this case does not include those charges. Trafficking has been changed to smuggling in the story to more accurately describe the case. We regret the confusion. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rican police detain undocumented Eritrean, Somali migrants Costa Rica’s Solís authorizes strategy to fight money laundering, terrorism financing Cuban migrants caught in limbo again as Nicaragua sends them back to Costa Rica Honduras arrests 5 Syrians headed to US with stolen passports
Related posts:New-look Costa Rica football team headed in right direction: 3 thoughts from Óscar Ramírez’s debut Costa Rica’s La Sele throttles Jamaica 3-0 La Sele announces 23-man roster for Copa América tournament Copa America Group A: Costa Rica faces stiff opposition Costa Rica midfielder Yeltsin Tejeda has joined struggling Ligue 1 side Evian from Deportivo Saprissa for an undisclosed fee, the French club announced on Friday.Tejeda signed a four-year deal with Evian, currently last in France’s top league after two matches. The curly-haired defensive midfielder was one of the breakout stars of Costa Rica’s surprising World Cup run to the quarterfinals in Brazil. The 22-year-old started all five matches, and held in check top players like Italy’s Andrea Pirlo during the tournament.After the World Cup, Tejeda was linked to several English Premier League clubs. He even flew to England first before heading to France this week to try to reach a last-minute deal. He was rumored to be close to signing with Premier League side Swansea, but ultimately Tejeda will try to give a boost to his new French club.Tejeda was one of two regular starters for Costa Rica’s national team at the World Cup who still played professionally in his homeland. However, Tejeda and defender Michael Umaña are both now headed overseas. Umaña signed a two-year deal with Iran’s Persepolis earlier this week.Several more La Sele starters and frequently used subs earned contracts with new teams after the World Cup, including Keylor Navas (Spain’s Real Madrid), Randall “Chiqui” Brenes, (Norway’s Sandnes Ulf), José Miguel Cubero (England’s Blackpool) and Cristian Gamboa (England’s West Brom). Striker Joel Campbell also looks like he’ll finally get his chance with England powerhouse Arsenal after spending the last three seasons on loan. Team captain Bryan Ruiz is currently in negotiations with German side Werder Bremen, according to Sky Sports.The AFP contributed to this story. Facebook Comments
En lo que vamos del año hemos decomisado 23 toneladas de cocaína. pic.twitter.com/7w2zceXqVn— Seguridad Pública (@seguridadcr) November 10, 2014 Related posts:Solís put on the defensive as joint US-Costa Rican patrols come up for renewal Costa Rica Coast Guard confiscates 810 kilos of cocaine near Quepos Explainer: What do Costa Rican authorities do with 4.1 tons of seized cocaine? Costa Rica seized record-breaking 26 metric tons of cocaine in 2014 Costa Rica has seized nearly 23 metric tons of cocaine so far in 2014, more than any other country in Central America, Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa said on Monday. Gamboa said that so far this year, Costa Rica’s seizures by the Judicial Investigation Police and the Drug Control Police topped those by law enforcement agents in Panama, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua as of September, when Gamboa and other public security ministers from the region met with members of the U.S. military’s Southern Command.The latest annual estimate came during the announcement of two seizures over the weekend totaling more than 600 kilograms of cocaine in Peñas Blancas, the country’s northern land border crossing with Nicaragua.Gamboa acknowledged that Mexican organized criminal groups are the principal actors responsible for moving drugs and laundering money through Costa Rica and other countries on the isthmus. The minister did not connect any specific cartels to the drugs confiscated during the weekend.Drug Control Police found 580 kilos of cocaine hidden in the walls of a container truck along with $3,600 in cash at Peñas Blancas, Guanacaste. The 34-year-old Nicaraguan driver of the Costa Rican-registered truck was headed to Nicaragua with a shipment of refrigerators when dogs found the drugs. In a second seizure, a 35-year-old Guatemalan driver was caught trying to smuggle back to his home country roughly 68 kilos of cocaine in the floor of his truck. Both suspects were remanded to the Prosecutor’s Office in the provincial capital of Liberia to await preventive measures. Facebook Comments
Known worldwide for its pristine green image, Costa Rica’s environmental record is often seen as almost flawless by outsiders. Still, environmental problems exist in Costa Rica, and this year’s headlines showed that the country has a lot of work to do to truly earn that reputation.1) Nicaragua border disputeFeuding as always, Costa Rica and Nicaragua continued their battle over the Isla Calero wetlands along Costa Rica’s northeastern border. The conflict began in 2010 when Nicaragua started dredging along the San Juan River on their side of the border and allegedly dumped sediment into Costa Rica’s Isla Calero wetlands. While the political ramifications of the dispute are still playing out in international court, international experts have already concluded the extent of the environmental damage in Isla Calero.In March, experts from the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, or Ramsar, conducted inspections of the wetland, concluding that some areas were so severely damaged that they will never be able to be restored. A drought in Guanacaste in August 2014 was the worst on record since 1950, according to the National Meteorological Institute. Alberto Font/The Tico Times2) DroughtThe 2014 rainy season wasn’t so rainy in Costa Rica’s northwestern province of Guanacaste. The province went through its worst drought in 50 years, prompting President Luis Guillermo Solís to declare a national emergency. According to the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry, the drought caused an estimated $26.1 million in the region’s farming sector.The rainy season drought does not bode well for the 2015 dry season. According to the National Meteorological Institute there is a 60-65 percent chance that the next rainy season will be delayed due to the weather phenomenon El Niño, and since the aquifers did not fully recuperate during this year’s rainy season it is likely that potable drinking water will be difficult to come by next year.3) Solís reaffirms carbon neutrality goalJust before leaving office in 2010, former President Óscar Arias publicly announced that Costa Rica would become carbon-neutral by the year 2021, becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral state. Unfortunately for his successors, Arias did not lay out a roadmap to achieve this goal. Though a carbon neutrality plan is now on the books, little has been done to reduce emissions from the country’s transport sector, which produces the vast majority of the country’s emissions. When new President Luis Guillermo Solís took office many experts thought he would abandon the goal or set a more reasonable one.But despite an initial wave of doubt about carbon neutrality from Solís’ environmental adviser Patricia Madrigal, Solís affirmed that his administration would be moving forward with pursuing the goal during his address at the United Nation’s Climate Summit in September. Shark fins attached to the spinal column by strips of skin were seized from Taiwanese boats in Costa Rica in 2011. (Courtesy of Interpol)4) Court ruling opens loophole for legal shark finning in Costa RicaIn 2013, Costa Rica’s then-President Laura Chinchilla was named the Shark Guardian of the Year for her efforts to combat illegal shark finning in Costa Rican waters. Then, in 2014, a court in the Pacific fishing hub of Puntarenas, passed down a ruling with the potential to undo all of those efforts.The ruling absolved Taiwanese-Costa Rican businesswoman Kathy Tseng on charges of illegally landing 652 shark fins on a Puntarenas dock. Shark finning, the practice of cutting off a shark’s fins and throwing the shark’s body overboard, is illegal in Costa Rica. The ruling hinged on language in the current shark finning legislation that prohibits the unloading of finned sharks, but not finning the sharks in the ocean.5) Trial begins for 7 men accused of murdering Costa Rican conservationist Jairo MoraIn 2013, the murder of 26-year-old sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora dominated the headlines, but the story continued into 2014 with the beginning of the murder trial. Mora, a sea turtle researcher for the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network, was found dead on the Caribbean’s Moín Beach last year, where he regularly collected leatherback sea turtle nests to rebury and hide from poachers. The seven men accused of his murder are suspected poachers. The trial, which started in November, was set to end before 2014’s close, but illness, mismanagement of evidence and other random delays have pushed the verdict deadline to January. Facebook Comments Related posts:7 alleged poachers to stand trial Monday for Costa Rica conservationist’s murder High-profile Jairo Mora murder trial delayed again; defendant has chicken pox, says attorney Faced with delays and the mishandling of evidence, prosecutors deliver closing arguments in Jairo Mora murder trial Video of turtle torture highlights common practice in Costa Rica
Related posts:Wildfire destroys 5 hectares of Costa Rica’s Palo Verde National Park More than 500 hectares of protected areas destroyed by wildfires this year 1,500 More Hectares Burn In Palo Verde Park Environment Ministry officials report increased damage of wildfires inside protected areas Forest fires atDiriá National Park in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province have already consumed nearly half of the park’s 5,400 hectares (13,000 acres).Wildfires started on April 5 and smaller fires have since sparked up, sweeping across the dry, hard-to-reach protected area, according to a report from the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC).Park administrators believe that hunters started the fires.“This is likely the work of hunters who live in communities near the park’s boundaries,” Carlos Pizarro Barrantes, director of SINAC’s regional office in Santa Cruz, said Tuesday.“Usually around this time every year, they burn lands so that new pastures at the beginning of the rainy season attract wild animals to cleared areas, and therefore become easy prey for them. But the consequences of these fires are irreparable for the park’s flora and fauna,” he said.Judicial Investigation Police opened a case and are currently gathering information and evidence on various suspects from nearby areas, Pizarro said.SINAC firefighters and other emergency staffers finally caught a break on Monday. A 30-minute afternoon rainshower helped put down the fire in a big section of the park.“It was amazing,” Pizarro said. “We celebrated just like we did when Costa Rica beat Greece at the World Cup. We really needed that because motivation drops some days when we find new fires in areas where we had already put down the blaze,” Pizarro said.On Tuesday high temperatures evaporated most of the water and the vegetation began to dry again.Currently the fires are mostly concentrated in small, isolated burn areas primarily in three sectors. But all three of them are hard to access and very distant from each other. A dead tepezcuintle burned by wildfires at Costa Rica’s Diriá National Park. Park administrators say the wildfires, likely started by hunters, have had irreparable consequences for the park’s flora and fauna. (Courtesy of SINAC)Since the fires broke out, groups of some 60 people venture into the park every day to fight them. The teams include firefighters from the Environment Ministry and the Firefighters Corps, but also volunteers from seven cantons in the provinces of Guanacaste, Alajuela and Puntarenas.Pizarro said all of them make a huge contribution. He thanked “the selfless efforts of volunteer firefighters who leave their daily jobs and go to the park in the evenings to work all night. They sleep only two or three hours, and then go home to get ready for their jobs,” he said.National Police officers also are helping to identify all persons entering parklands and those walking near the park boundaries in order to discourage the presence of arsonists.Diriá National Park is made up primarily of dry and wet tropical forest. Several species of protected mammals and reptiles, and about 134 types of birds, live in the park.Last year a total of 139 wildfires burned approximately 30,440 hectares across Costa Rica. Facebook Comments
The Costa Rican Coast Guard on Thursday took custody of three Costa Rican men arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard earlier this month. The suspects were caught with nearly 2 metric tons of cocaine, according to a statement from the Public Security Ministry.The arrests took place on May 16 in international waters south of the Pacific town of Golfito, after a U.S. Coast Guard plane spotted the fishing boat “Capitán Luismi” with three suspects on board. The suspects were identified by the last names Montero, Franco and Porras.When the alleged smugglers realized they were being followed, they began throwing packages of cocaine into the water. A U.S. ship intercepted the boat and detained its crew, fishing a total of 60 cocaine packages out of the water. The drugs weighed 1.8 metric tons.See also: Beachcombing along the Caribbean drug trail in Nicaragua Samples of the cocaine were handed over to Costa Rican authorities. The cocaine was embossed with the profile of a pig and the word “Chester,” a breed of white pigs.The handoff of prisoners and evidence took place a mile offshore at Caldera. Once on Costa Rican soil, the three suspects were booked on international drug trafficking charges. Facebook Comments Related posts:Solís put on the defensive as joint US-Costa Rican patrols come up for renewal Costa Rica Coast Guard seizes more than 1 metric ton of cocaine on high seas Explainer: What do Costa Rican authorities do with 4.1 tons of seized cocaine? Costa Rica seized record-breaking 26 metric tons of cocaine in 2014
Costa Rica’s Justice Minister Cecilia Sánchez Romero appeared earlier this week before the Legislative Assembly to explain why her office reduced prison sentences for hundreds of inmates in a decision that sparked broad criticism, including from Public Security Ministry officials.The main goal is to reduce prison overcrowding, Sánchez said. She began her hearing Monday by telling lawmakers that “some media outlets have misreported the terms of the program.” She said they are not releasing inmates from Costa Rica prisons but rather changing their status to a “mixed imprisonment system in which they can leave prison during the day but must return at nights.”The program only is available for inmates who were not convicted of serious crimes, are close to completing their sentence, have shown good behavior and are able to find a job outside of prison or enroll in a formal study program.According to authorities, Costa Rica prisons are 70 percent over capacity. Currently 11 of Costa Rica’s 13 prisons have orders to refrain from receiving more prisoners due to overcrowding. Earlier this year the Ombudsman’s National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture noted that Costa Rica’s incarceration rate of 370 people per 100,000 is the fourth highest in Latin America.PHOTOS: Faces from La Reforma prisonNow, following public blowback, the ministry temporarily suspended the program; It will not be offered to any more inmates until next year, the minister said.Sánchez also said figures reported by some media outlets recently saying 5,000 to 10,000 inmates were released from prison “are completely false.” She said that between September and November only 743 prisoners across the country were granted the change to their imprisonment status.Of those, only one lost the benefit after he was caught by police trying to break into a restaurant in Limón province in the early hours of Nov. 19, the Justice Ministry said Tuesday.The 26-year-old man had been convicted of five years in prison for robbery, and now a flagrancy court added five more months to his sentence.Sánchez noted that the prison system was forced to implement the program in response to 20 separate rulings and orders from courts, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court and the Ombudsman’s Office. “Otherwise I and other ministry officials would go to jail for disobeying the law,” she told lawmakers.High court: Costa Rica prisons must address ‘cruel and degrading’ conditionsThe minister said the lack of options for alternative sanctions are principally to blame for increasing prison overcrowding.She asked legislators to amend the country’s laws to eliminate prison sentences for several types of crimes and requested better interpretation of the law to avoid excessive issuing of preventive prison measures that “is causing an average of 600 people to be sent to jail each month while awaiting trial.”Weak support for the programChristian Democratic Alliance lawmaker Mario Redondo Poveda, who is critical of the Justice Ministry’s program, said at the hearing that prison authorities should have consulted with the Assembly’s Commission on Security and Drug Trafficking before making the decision.He said there are now 743 crime victims likely feeling disappointed by the system. “This is a slap in the face to all those victims,” he said.National Liberation Party legislator Maureen Clarke said the critical situation at local prisons indicate that the creation of flagrancy courts was not a good solution for the judicial system and that the situation demands a better one soon.Lawmakers on Monday also heard from Public Security Minister Gustavo Mata Vega, who was questioned about the effects of the program on public security. Mata told legislators that he is concerned about the Justice Ministry’s prison release program and said security authorities are working to address any repercussions.Mata said he already has a full list of people who are part of the program, and that they are increasing controls and monitoring of the inmates’ compliance with measures issued. He also said they are taking all necessary steps to apprehend inmates who commit new crimes, if it occurs.Recommended: A look inside Costa Rica’s San Rafael Prison Facebook Comments Related posts:Latin America’s prisons in critical condition Costa Rica’s Supreme Court orders release of Nicaraguan unjustly imprisoned for 17 months Prison overcrowding in Costa Rica jumps 50 percent in 10 years Few rules govern treatment of transgender prisoners in Costa Rica
Facebook Comments Related posts:Winter Storm Stella causes flight cancellations between New York-Costa Rica Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaría Airport expands capacity with new departure lounges, boarding bridges Hurricane Matthew: Airlines cancel flights between Costa Rica-Florida Costa Rica’s new international airport expected to open in 2027 Starting April 19, the Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) will enforce the same airport restrictions on liquids, aerosols or gels in carry-on luggage as the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. The new rules will apply to all passengers departing or in transit through Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO).Passengers are restricted to 3.4 ounce or 100 milliliter containers of liquid products in their carry-ons, and the items must be placed inside a transparent, closeable plastic bag.Civil Aviation Authority director general Ennio Cubillo warned that SJO’s airport security officers will confiscate all products that fail to comply with the new restrictions.Airlines representatives agreed to inform their customers about new airport restrictions starting this week.AERIS officials pledged to display information at strategic points in the terminal and broadcast periodic audio announcements to remind travelers of the restrictions.The measures were initially implemented at Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia, Guanacaste and have now been extended to Juan Santamaría airport, the country’s largest terminal.Cubillo said the new airport restrictions are being adopted to comply with security measures that are part of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Convention.The group introduced restrictions in 2006 on carrying liquids, aerosols and gels following an attempted terrorist attack using homemade explosives at London-Heathrow Airport.The list of restricted liquids, aerosols and gels includes the following:Water and other drinks, soups, syrups, jams, stews, sauces and pastes.Foods in sauces or containing a high liquid content.Creams, lotions, cosmetics and oils; perfumes, sprays, gels, including hair and shower gels.Mascara, lip gloss or lip balm, and any other item of similar consistency at room temperature.Contents of pressurized containers, including shaving foam, other foam and deodorants.Pastes, including toothpaste, liquid-solid mixtures.
Indigenous communities may play a crucial role in the preservation of Central America’s forests, according to a new map produced by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The map, “Indigenous Peoples, Protected Areas and Natural Ecosystems in Central America,” is the most comprehensive map of its kind ever produced for the region.In addition to traditional mapping methods, researchers used unpublished information gathered from interviews of more than 3,500 indigenous people. The new information allowed cartographers to accurately position indigenous communities on the map and also provide details on topography and bodies of water that could not be detected in satellite surveys.The resulting map shows that approximately 51 percent of Central America’s current forest cover is either inside or adjacent to indigenous territory.“You cannot talk about conservation without speaking of indigenous peoples and their role as the guardians of our most delicate lands and waters,” said Grethel Aguilar, Regional Director of the IUCN Office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, which is based in San José.“This map shows that where indigenous people live, you will find the best preserved natural resources. They depend on those natural resources to survive, and the rest of society depends on their role in safeguarding those resources for the well-being of us all.”The map adds to a growing body of information that sheds light on the importance of indigenous communities in conservation in Latin America. A 2014 study showed that the presence of indigenous communities significantly lowers deforestation caused by drug traffickers operating illegally in remote parts of Central America, and country-specific programs have begun to involve indigenous people in the policing of protected areas.Along with highlighting the groups’ importance, the map has already begun helping indigenous communities assert their rights over their territories. In Western Panama, the Ngäbe people were able to use details from the map to demonstrate to the government that construction of the Barro Blanco dam would flood a significant part of their territory. Government officials had previously insisted that the indigenous land would be unaffected by the project.In Guatemala, a Maya community is now using the map’s data to assert its rights over ancestral lands that leaders say was illegally expropriated by palm oil companies. Ramiro Batzin, Sotz’il Association representative and member of the Central American Indigenous Council (CICA) that worked on the map, hopes the map will prove useful to other indigenous communities engaged in similar battles throughout Mesoamerica.“The map is an instrument that allows indigenous peoples to advance the recognition, respect and promotion of their rights”, Batzin said. “It will serve us as a valuable tool for advocating for a greater role for indigenous peoples in natural resource conservation, and for opening up a dialogue with states and conservation organizations.”While the map shows the capabilities indigenous people have in conserving forest within and near their territories, it also indicates a disturbingly high rate of deforestation in other areas.Comparing the new map to an approximate map from 1950, researchers noted that the region has lost as much as two-thirds of its original forests. Though an initial development boom in the wake of WWII caused the first wave of deforestation, researchers note the expansion of extractive industries and agro-businesses as well as illegal expansion into protected territories within the region.The outlook of the region’s forests may seem grim, but the trajectory can be reversed. The map’s accompanying report highlights the successes of Costa Rica’s reforestation policies, which enabled the country to increase forest cover from 21 percent to 52.4 percent in a manner of decades. The most extensive tract of original forest in Costa Rica lies within the indigenous territory of the Bribri and Cabécar.For a high resolution version of the map visit IUCN’s website Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica declines to vote on shark protections at international convention Alleged gold miners end protest at Corcovado National Park Costa Rica launches quest to replace most single-use plastic by 2021 UNESCO declares Costa Rica’s Savegre a Biosphere Reserve
Top Stories Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates 5 ways to recognize low testosterone New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Comments Share Check your body, save your life More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements Sponsored Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family (AP) – In a July 16 story about the struggles of young Europeans in the financial crisis, The Associated Press erroneously reported the surname of one of the students. The correct name is Lutz Hentschel, not Lutz Henschel.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) How men can have a healthy 2019
Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) – British safari driver David Simpson was released after five months of incarceration in the Central African Republic on suspicion of killing 13 people.Deputy Prosecutor, Magistrate Romaric Martian Kpangba-Kingo said that all charges have been dropped against Simpson. He is still in Bangui awaiting permission to return to Britain.In local reports Simpson says that despite his ordeal he hopes to resume work as a safari guide. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Comments Share Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Top Stories Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories Simpson was arrested on March 26 after he reported the discovery of the bodies of 13 people by a small-scale gold mine in the east.The victims’ hands were bound behind their backs and had machete wounds. Simpson’s lawyers claimed he was innocent and charged the the killings may have been committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army.(Copyright 2012 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
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) _New demographic and health surveys that measure people’s height. FAO had been relying on 20-year-old World Health Organization statistics to determine how many calories were needed based on body mass, with taller people requiring more calories than shorter ones. For the 2012 report, FAO is using new height surveys to determine caloric requirements.“What we are saying is we are recalculating everything with new data, improved data, and what we believe to be an improved methodology,” said Jomo, the assistant director-general.That said, he stressed that all hunger estimates by their nature are conservative. FAO’s caloric requirements, for example, assume a sedentary lifestyle, even though many of the world’s hungry often do strenuous manual labor, thus requiring more calories to meet their food needs.Oddly enough, with the new number-crunching methods, FAO discovered that the world’s hungry actually did hit the 1 billion mark, but it was back in 1990-1992. The world just didn’t know it then because the FAO was using the old data that set the hungry figure for that period at 848.4 million.The advocacy group Oxfam said the slowdown in progress in lifting people out of hunger over the past five years should “sound alarm bells around the globe.” FAO issued its 2012 state of food insecurity report on Tuesday, and its core point was to set the record straight about the number of the world’s undernourished people, applying the more accurate data retroactively to 1990.And the good news, FAO said, is that the number of hungry people has actually been declining steadily _ rather than increasing _ over the past two decades, although progress has slowed since the 2007-2008 food crises and the global economic downturn.“We have good news, we have made some progress in reducing hunger,” Jose Graziano da Silva, the FAO director-general, told a press conference launching the report.FAO said that if the right action is taken now to boost economic growth and invest in agriculture, particularly in poor countries, the U.N. goal of reducing by one-half the number of the world’s hungry people by 2015 is very much within reach.To be sure, 870 million hungry people is still far too many hungry people, said the heads of the three U.N. food agencies in a forward to the report.“In today’s world of unprecedented technical and economic opportunities, we find it entirely unacceptable that more than 100 million children under the age of five are underweight, and are therefore unable to realize their full socio-economic and human potential,” they wrote. Associated PressROME (AP) – The United Nations said Tuesday its 2009 headline-grabbing announcement that 1 billion people in the world were hungry was off-target and that the number is actually more like 870 million.The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization blamed flawed methodology and poor data for the bum projection, and said it now uses a much more accurate set of parameters and statistics to calculate its annual estimate of the world’s hungry. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist What the U.N. couldn’t know at the time was how well governments would respond to the crises to protect their poorest, and how individual families would make sacrifices _ such as in health care or education _ to make sure they had enough food on the table, said Jomo.“So it was in a way a mistake, an error, that we have made with many other organizations at the time,” said Pietro Gennari, the statistics director for the FAO’s economic and social development department.Already, in 2010 FAO said the number of the world’s hungry was down to 925 million, though it didn’t explain how it came to that figure. On Tuesday, FAO officials said the new number of hungry people for 2012 was 870 million, and the organization revised all of its figures from 1990 using a new methodology based on:_New population data from the U.N. Population Fund. China’s population estimate for the 1990s, for example, has been revised upward by some 25 million people, whereas Bangladesh’s population has been revised downwards by 17 million people. That affects hunger statistics because food production figures are divided by population figures._Estimates of food loss at the retail level. Previously, FAO considered the amount of food produced as the amount of food available to feed the world. The agency didn’t take into account that one-third of all food produced is wasted along the distribution chain, either because it spoils, is eaten by rodents or is otherwise inedible. The 2012 survey takes into account these losses. Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Comments Share Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Parents, stop beating yourself up FAO made headlines in 2009 when it announced that 1 billion people _ one-sixth of the world’s population _ were undernourished. A high-level summit was called at FAO headquarters in Rome, where the pope spoke. The U.N. chief went on a daylong hunger strike to show solidarity with the 1 billion. The Group of Eight devoted much of its summit that year to pledging $20 billion for seeds, fertilizers and tools to help poor nations feed themselves.It turns out, though, that the projections were wrong. They were calculated using figures from non-U.N. sources that were fed into the U.N.’s number-crunching model, because FAO was expected to quickly come up with an estimate of how many people might go hungry from the dual crises of high food prices and the global downturn, said Kostas Stamoulis, director of FAO’s agricultural development economics division.“There was considerable fear that that combination of lower incomes and higher prices was going to cause significant undernourishment,” said Jomo Kwame Sundaram, FAO’s assistant director-general for economic and social development.But now, “no one really knows for sure if at any particular period whether that 1 billion figure was actually reached or not,” he said of the three year period. He said the goal of the state of food insecurity report is to assess chronic hunger over time, rather than spikes caused by temporary food shortages and price hikes. “The fact that almost 870 million people _ more than the population of the U.S., Europe, and Canada _ are hungry in a world which produces enough for everyone to eat is the biggest scandal of our time,” Oxfam’s Luca Chinotti said in a statement.______Follow Nicole Winfield at http://www.twitter.com/nwinfield
Tunisia overthrew its authoritarian president in January 2011, sparking off a string of revolts around the region, known as the Arab Spring. The country has since been plagued by unrest and economic problems as it writes a new constitution.Burns was standing in for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was ill.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Four benefits of having a wireless security system Top Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) – The top U.S. official for the Middle East urged Tunisia to respond to the aspirations of its young people or face future uprisings.Deputy Secretary of State William Burns visited Tunisia on Thursday as part of the 9th Forum for the Future, and expressed Washington’s support for Tunisia’s transition to democracy.He urged the divided country to rely on negotiation to settle its differences, but warned that young people wanted new reforms and were impatient for results. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Comments Share Sponsored Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix