Agents can travel with Tauck with enhanced Agent Rewards program

first_imgAgents can travel with Tauck with enhanced Agent Rewards program Share Posted by Travelweek Group Tags: Tauckcenter_img WILTON, CT — Tauck’s new sales materials will be arriving in Canadian travel agencies starting next week, plus Canadian agencies can participate in the U.S. tour operator’s Agent Rewards program.Tauck is helping its network of travel agents to navigate “the crowded and sometimes confusing European river cruising market” with new sales materials that spell out the differences between Tauck’s river cruises and those offered by other lines.The Tauck sales materials include a River Cruising Sales Guide, an 11” x 17” poster highlighting Tauck’s river cruising innovations and exclusive-to-Tauck onshore experiences, and a printed comparison grid contrasting Tauck and its ships to other lines and their respective vessels. The reverse side of the comparison grid highlights signature elements like onboard experiences, signature experiences ashore and cruise components included in Tauck’s prices.The 24-page River Cruising Sales Guide provides an in-depth explanation of the ‘Four Cornerstones’ that differentiate the company’s river cruises: comprehensive all-inclusive pricing; high service levels provided by the Tauck Cruise Director and three Tauck Directors staffing each Tauck riverboat; the destination experience; and the onboard atmosphere.More news:  Sunwing ready to launch Mazatlán-Quebec City direct this winterAlso featured in the Sales Guide are details on the typical Tauck river cruise customer, suggestions on different client-types that agents might successfully target, an FAQ and conversion strategies to help agents grow their Tauck river cruise business.The company is also encouraging its agents to gain first-hand experience on Tauck’s river cruises (and its land tours) by enhancing its Agent Rewards travel incentive program. Agents earn US$200 in points for each client booked on a Tauck tour or cruise, and they can accrue up to $12,000 in points every year.Tauck recently automated much of the program and moved it online to the company’s Agent Connect password-protected web. Agents can review their existing points balance, track their pending points from future bookings and apply earned points to their own Tauck travels.“We’re excited to provide these new sales materials to our agents, and to make the Agent Rewards program even more user-friendly,” says Tauck’s Vice President of Global Sales, Steve Spivak. “At Tauck, we are absolutely committed to constant improvement, whether it’s enhancing our tours and cruises, or raising the bar on the level of service and support we provide to our agents.”More news:  Le Boat has EBBs along with its new 2020 brochureAgents looking for more information can call Tauck at 1-800-468-2825 or e-mail Friday, September 30, 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Search for oneway fares to Canada sees huge increase on US election

first_img TORONTO — The night of the U.S. presidential election, the Canadian Immigration website crashed due to a surge in people – seemingly Americans – trying to access information on how to emigrate to the country. And now, with Donald Trump confirmed as the new President of the United States, has reported a huge increase in searches for one-way flights to Canada during election night as well.According to the company, as of 6 p.m. ET on Election Day, the website experienced more than double the searches for one-way flights to Canada, a 133% increase from the same time frame across the previous four Tuesdays.As polls closed and results started to roll in, the searches accelerated, jumping to more than 900% between 6 p.m. and midnight. And things didn’t slow down the morning after; searches from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. the morning after were up more than 1,000% over the average volume in the same window over the last four weeks.More news:  Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesOther destinations that saw spikes in one-way flight searches throughout the course of the night were Japan, Australia, the UK, New Zealand, South Africa and Germany, all of which jumped more than 500% between midnight and 8 a.m. ET compared to the previous four weeks.In other news, Travelweekly has reported that Royal Jordanian Airlines is poking fun at President-Elect Trump with a new tongue-in-cheek campaign that encourages passengers to “travel to the U.S. while you’re still allowed to!” Trump has continually promised to ban Muslims from entering the country during his run for the presidency. Jordan is a predominantly Sunni Muslim nation. Thursday, November 10, 2016 Search for one-way fares to Canada sees huge increase on U.S. election night Travelweek Group Tags: Canada, LOLcenter_img Posted by Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Domestic travel expected to increase in light of 150th birthday celebrations

first_img Travelweek Group Domestic travel expected to increase in light of 150th birthday celebrations Wednesday, November 23, 2016 Tags: Canada, Trend Watch Sharecenter_img Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> OTTAWA — Despite a stubbornly sluggish economy, travel to and within Canada has actually grown this year, thanks in large part to low gas prices and a weak Canadian dollar.According to The Conference Board of Canada’s latest Travel Markets Outlook for both national and metropolitan cities, overnight visits are on track to grow by 3% in 2016 and 2017. On top of the nearly 10% growth last year, overnight visits from the U.S. are expected to increase a further 7.8% this year, as many American travellers are choosing Canada – known as a safe travel destination – over competing destinations struggling with safety concerns.Similarly, overseas arrivals to Canada saw an increase of 8.7% this year, but are expected to cool slightly in 2017 to an estimated 6.4%.“The tourism sector is one of the handful benefiting from the low Canadian dollar. We’re seeing increased levels of both U.S. and international visitors that are nothing short of tremendous and restore much of the travel volume lost during the past decade,” said Greg Hermus, Associate Director for the Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Tourism Research Institute.Next year’s domestic tourism numbers will receive a boost from several factors, including growing consumer confidence, increases in disposable income as well as major events, like the 150th anniversary of Confederation and Montreal’s 375th anniversary. Domestic pleasure travel is estimated to increase by 3.2% in 2017.Travel prices are forecasted to continue ramping up slowly with increases ranging between 2.1 and 2.3% between 2017 and 2020. While travellers were hit with a 3.7% increase for accommodations in 2016, a more moderate annual increase at a pace between 2 and 3% is expected across the forecast horizon. Travellers can also expect to spend between 2.1 and 2.4% more for food and beverage services.More news:  AMResorts has a new Sr. Dir. of Cdn. Sales & Consortia Rel’nsOf the nine Canadian cities covered in the ‘Travel Markets Outlook’s Metropolitan Focus’, most can count on tourism growth between 2-5% next year.Domestic overnight visits to Halifax are projected to increase by 2.8% before the end of the year, while overall visits should grow by 3.8%.HALIFAXDomestic overnight visits to the city are projected to increase by 2.8% before the end of the year, while overall visits should grow by 3.%. The King’s Wharf waterfront project is scheduled for completion in spring 2017 and should attract both business and pleasure travel to Halifax, with overnight visits set to grow 3.1% in 2017.MONTREALThe renewal of hotel space and major sports events have contributed to a strong year for pleasure travel in Montreal. The city will experience a 4.3% increase in overnight visits in 2016. As Montréal celebrates its 375th anniversary in 2017, a further increase of 5% is projected for overnight visits.QUEBEC CITYOvernight visits to Quebec City are expected to grow by 3.7% in 2016, with pleasure travel receiving a boost from the recently completed Videotron Centre, a multi-use indoor arena. Visits from the U.S. to the city are expected to grow by 8.9% this year amidst low gas prices and a favourable exchange rate.OTTAWA-GATINEAUWith sporting events such as the Canadian men’s curling championship and strong gains from international markets, overall visits to the city are estimated to increase by 3.4% in 2016. Celebration for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 will see overnight visits to the nation’s capital grow considerably. Other major events, such as the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup and the 105th Grey Cup will also lend a hand in the projected 6.4% increase in domestic pleasure travel next year.More news:  ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growthTORONTOStrong convention activity will lead to growth in business travel to Canada’s largest city this year. In 2017, pleasure travel is projected to increase by 3.%, boosted by Toronto hosting Prince Harry and his Invictus Games and the NHL Centennial Classic Game.WINNIPEGBusiness travel is set to grow 3.6% in 2016, receiving a boost from the recently completed RBC convention centre. In 2017, a 3.3% increase for overall overnight visits is expected as the city hosts the Canada Games and opens a new outlet mall.CALGARYAttendance at the Calgary Stampede was at a 22-year low in 2016. The outlook is much brighter for 2017 with pleasure travel expected to see a boost as a result of the recently opened National Music Centre and the Calgary Film Centre. Overnight visits to the city should expand by 2.5% in the new year.EDMONTONWith the continuing weakness of the energy sector, local tourism activity suffered this year. While overnight visits to the city are projected to decline 1.7% in 2016, strong growth from the U.S. and overseas markets should help contribute to an increase of 2% in overall overnight visits next year.VANCOUVERVancouver will see a 6% increase in tourism activity in 2016. Next year, the city will benefit from hosting a number of large sporting events, such as the NCAA basketball tournament and the Canada Sevens rugby tournament. Overall, overnight visits are projected to increase 4.1% in 2017.last_img read more

Air FranceKLM forecasts better times ahead for Canadian market

first_imgAir France/KLM forecasts better times ahead for Canadian market MONTREAL — Air France/KLM’s Canadian operations in 2016 were challenged after terrorism incidents in France prompted some Canadians to choose other destinations.“Canada to France was impacted by the incidents,” says Jean-Noël Rault, the Vice-President and General Manager Air France/KLM Canada in an interview with Travelweek. Air France/KLM invited journalists from 40 countries last week to meet with airline and airport executives and take a first-hand look at the many changes that have been and will be implemented at Paris-Charles de Gaulle.“Compared to last year the number of people going to France should improve (in 2017).” He added that last year there was huge capacity to Europe from Canada from various airlines.Rault is optimistic about 2017 and believes there will be moderate growth outbound from Canada. “In terms of volume it should be okay and competitive,” says Rault.There are no current plans for additional flights out of Canada this year since the past couple of years they have added flights and gateways including Edmonton as a new gateway. There are five gateways Air France and KLM operate out of Canada: Montreal and Toronto with Air France and Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver with KLM.More news:  Le Boat has EBBs along with its new 2020 brochureAir France will operate a new 787 Dreamliner aircraft beginning May 1, 2017 from Montreal. It will be Air France’s first destination in the Americas using the new Dreamliner aircraft. KLM will increase to five weekly flights from Vancouver beginning in June for the summer season.This summer Air France will operate 33 flights and KLM 37 flights for a total of 70 weekly flights from Canada. Air France/KLM partner with WestJet which provides another 30 gateways in Canada.Besides the new Dreamliner, Rault believes the new business class cabins will be a big hit with passengers. Rault says the newly designed “triple F” seat as he calls it is full flat, full access and full privacy. The redesigned cabin has seats providing more legroom, fully flat seat for sleeping comfort and more privacy.One area that hasn’t given airlines more comfort is U.S. President Trump’s travel ban. Rault is sympathetic to passengers that were affected by this ban and it has caused operational headaches for the airlines as it was implemented initially without warning.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upThe instability is not good for anyone but Canada may receive some benefit. With Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations and Montreal’s 375th anniversary and the numerous events and publicity surrounding it he expects inbound traffic to Canada from Europe and other overseas markets to be very positive. << Previous PostNext Post >> Share By: Chris Ryall Tags: Air France, KLM Tuesday, February 14, 2017 last_img read more

Can you guess which destination is at the top of boomers bucket

first_imgCan you guess which destination is at the top of boomers’ bucket lists? Tags: Hawaii, Trend Watch Here’s something that comes as no surprise: Hawaii has topped all other U.S. destinations as the top bucket list destination among boomers.According to a new study by AARP, about 18% of boomers listed the island chain as their top domestic destination, above Alaska (12%), California (8%) and Nevada (7%).Couple this with the news that Hawaii was named the happiest state in the United States by a Gallup poll and you’ve got the makings of the perfect travel destination! After interviewing 177,000 adults across the country, Gallup determined a “well-being score” based on respondents’ views on their social lives, finances, community, motivation and physicality. Hawaii ranked #, ahead of Alaska, Colorado, West Virginia and Kentucky, for the sixth time. Travelweek Group Monday, March 27, 2017 center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Sharelast_img read more

NCL to move up finalpayment deadline from 90 to 120 days

first_img FORT LAUDERDALE — Norwegian Cruise Line passengers will have less time to pay for their cruises in full now that the company has moved up the final payment deadline from 90 days to 120 days before departure.As reported in Travel Weekly, the new deadline already applies to Garden Villa and Haven accommodations. Details about which cruises would be impacted, and when the new policy will be implemented are yet to come.The news was announced at Travel Weekly’s CruiseWorld earlier this week by Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holidays, who assured agents that they will directly benefit from the move.“It’s great for both of us,” Del Rio said. “It locks in the customer early. You get your payment 30 days earlier, and it helps you with your cash flow. We think it’s wonderful for our agent community that you get to collect on your hard work 30 days earlier.” Share Travelweek Group Thursday, November 16, 2017 NCL to move up final-payment deadline from 90 to 120 dayscenter_img Tags: Norwegian Cruise Line Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Trafalgars top European destination Think la dolce vita

first_img Posted by Travelweek Group TORONTO — The 17 itineraries in Trafalgar’s new 2018 Italy program include new tours to Sicily and a four-day Aegean Cruise option on the company’s Best of Italy and Greece guided vacation.Clients can take advantage of Trafalgar’s 10% Early Payment Discount. The discount applies to the land-portion of select Trafalgar trips when paid in full by Jan. 11, 2018.“Italy is the number one European destination for our Canadian guests who simply fall under the spell of ‘la dolce vita’ and every year we continue to innovate and further enhance our program with a myriad of authentic experiences,” said Wolf Paunic, President, Trafalgar Canada. “On several of our itineraries, our new exceptional after-hours VIP dining experiences within the Vatican will be available to our clients during the 2018 operating season and the opportunity to be personally welcomed by the Curator of the Ethnological Museum, Padre Mappelli, for a tour of the papal conclave.”More news:  Sunwing ready to launch Mazatlán-Quebec City direct this winterA brand new itinerary for 2018, the Regional Explorer 11-day journey Wonders of Italy, is an exploration of Italy’s art, architecture and old-world charm. With a Local Specialist, guests get an exclusive visit to The Vatican Museums. In Tuscany, a Be My Guest dining experience takes place at the Lenzi family home at Fattoria de Petroio where guests can savour lunch with home-baked bread and hand-harvested wine. Friday, December 8, 2017 Trafalgar’s top European destination? Think ‘la dolce vita’center_img Share Tags: Trafalgar << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Air Transat announces departure of President Lemay

first_img Monday, November 12, 2018 Posted by Travelweek Group MONTREAL — After five years at the helm of Air Transat, President and General Manager Jean-François Lemay will be leaving the airline.The announcement was made by parent company Transat A.T., which confirmed that Lemay will be leaving his role in a few month’s time following more than seven years in total at the company. Lemay will continue in his current role until Transat announces a successor.“We respect Jean-François’ decision to take on new challenges,” said Annick Guérard, Transat’s Chief Operating Officer. “I wish to acknowledge his significant contribution to the development and growth of our air operations in recent years, and express my deepest appreciation for his commitment and for the tremendous work he has accomplished.”During his tenure, Lemay oversaw a number of structure-enhancing projects for the air carrier, including reducing its air costs, establishing a new senior management team, driving growth through the insourcing of Air Transat’s narrow-body fleet, operating the so-called double flexible fleet, and transforming the fleet, which will consist entirely of Airbus aircraft by 2022. Sharecenter_img Tags: Air Transat, Departures Air Transat announces departure of President Lemay << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

WestJet has a new BDM for Greater Toronto West Northern ON

first_imgTags: New Hires, WestJet Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Monday, April 22, 2019 WestJet has a new BDM for Greater Toronto West, Northern ONcenter_img Travelweek Group Posted by CALGARY — WestJet has named Andrei Losinski to its Agency Sales team as Business Development Manager, responsible for the territory of Greater Toronto West and Northern Ontario.Not new to the industry and a familiar face to many, Losinski joins WestJet with 12 years of industry experience including stints at Manulife and RBC Travel Insurance.He will be part of a growing team of seven BDMs working with WestJet’s agency partners to promote WestJet and WestJet Vacations products while growing agent and agency earnings and maintaining relationships with WestJet’s travel trade partners.Losinski has already begun his new role and WestJet says it’s “excited to have him on the road meeting with valued agency partners.”last_img read more

Agents and clients benefit from AmaWaterways new holiday promo

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Monday, July 15, 2019 Share Agents and clients benefit from AmaWaterways’ new holiday promocenter_img Posted by Tags: AmaWaterways, Promo CALABASAS, CA — AmaWaterways is offering triple the holiday offers with a new promotion that also include bonus commission for travel agents.When guests book select November and December river cruises between June 25 and Aug. 31, 2019, they’ll receive savings of $1,200 per person, a complimentary stateroom upgrade, and a $50 onboard credit per person.This offer applies to 38 holiday sailings along the Rhine and Danube rivers departing between Nov. 22 and Dec. 30, 2019 onboard a selection of ships, including the newly launched AmaMagna and AmaMora. Itineraries include the ‘Iconic Christmas Markets’, ‘Christmas Markets on the Rhine’, ‘Christmas Markets on the Danube’, ‘Magical Christmas Markets’ and New Year departures of ‘Melodies of the Danube’, ‘Romantic Danube’ and Enchanting Rhine’.Guests can also add to the festivities with a pre- or post-cruise land program in Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Amsterdam, Lucerne or Zurich.Plus, AmaWaterways is also extending Yuletide cheer to travel agents with up to 5% bonus commission on eligible FIT bookings.More news:  Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agency“Travel advisors play a vital role in our success so we’re thrilled to have a special offer for them and their clients for the end of year celebrations,” said Kristin Karst, co-owner and executive vice president. “The holiday season in Europe is one of my favourite times to travel, and I’m excited to have these offers that encourage others to experience this special time of year.”last_img read more

US warns citizens about crime in Honduras

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States on Wednesday warned citizens traveling to Honduras to take precautions against the country’s high crime rate, which includes the highest murder rate in the world.The U.S. government particularly is concerned about the northern city of San Pedro Sula, which it considers “the most violent city in the world, with 159 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2011,” according to a State Department travel advisory.“These threats have increased substantially in recent years and incidents can happen anywhere,” the statement said, adding that drug traffickers and gangs are active throughout the country.The State Department said tens of thousands of North Americans travel annually to Honduras without incident, and there does not seem to be a connection between crime and victim nationality. Since January 2010, 24 U.S. citizens have been killed in the Central American country, and none of the cases has been solved, according to the State Department.The country of 8 million registered a rate of 92 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2011, the highest in the world according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Rodrigo Arias quits Costa Ricas presidential race

first_imgNational Liberation Party (PLN) candidate Rodrigo Arias – a former minister in the administration of his brother, ex-President Oscar Arias–  on Friday withdrew his bid for the presidency primaries for the upcoming 2014 elections.In a press conference at 7 p.m., Arias, 66, said that the main reason for his decision is that “polls in the last three months did not show any positive results for my intentions.” The results of different surveys always placed San José Mayor Johnny Araya with a considerable advantage over Arias and the other PLN candidates.Arias’s departure leaves Araya and former Minister Fernando Berrocal alone in the race for the nomination for the ruling National Liberation Party scheduled for April 21.During the press conference Arias refused to answer a question on whether he would support Araya’s campaign, stating repeatedly that he “will not take part in the nomination process.”Mayor Araya told local Telenoticias that Arias’ decision “was unexpected, but an objective, realistic and humble decision.”Last September Antonio Álvarez Desanti quit the race and joined Araya’s campaign. In November, ex-president José María Figueres Olsen (1994-1998) also announced his withdrawal from the nomination process. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

ExpoViajes helps Ticos travel the world

first_imgWith its pristine beaches, vivid rain forests and active wildlife, Costa Rica is many a tourist’s dream of the perfect travel destination. Tourism has dominated the Costa Rican economy since 1999, when it surpassed agriculture as the nation’s largest economic sector.But despite living in what some consider paradise, more and more Ticos are leaving the country to travel than ever before. From 2011-2012, the number of flights leaving Costa Rica increased by more than 1,000, and according to Leonel Bonilla, executive director of Costa Rica’s first-ever ExpoViajes travel fair, the demand is clear.According to the Costa Rican Tourism Board and the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica, 717,000 Costa Ricans traveled out of the country in 2011. The top two destinations for Ticos were Panama and the United States, respectively. More than 407,000 Ticos traveled to a destination in Central America last year, while almost 200,000 Costa Ricans chose North America.“It is just human nature to want to see the world,” Bonilla said. “We live in a beautiful country but most people want to travel and see the world.”Starting Friday, ExpoViajes will feature 96 businesses related to international travel. The expo will bring together airlines, travel agencies, international hotel chains, insurance companies, car-rental companies and other businesses to show off their offerings. Attendees also will have the opportunity to buy raffle tickets to fund their travels from banks at the expo. “We want ExpoViajes to be a tool for people who want to travel to plan their vacation,” Bonilla said. “So many people think that traveling is too expensive or takes too much time; we want to show them that it is possible.”In addition to the expo, the event will host presentations to help people plan their vacations. The U.S. Embassy will lead a discussion on what steps to take to visit the United States, and representatives from different travel destinations worldwide will give presentations on what their areas have to offer tourists.The fair will be held at the Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel and Convention Center, three miles south of the Juan Santamaría International Airport. It opens to the public at 2 p.m. on Friday and will continue through Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. “We are expecting around 6,000 people at the event,” Bonilla said. “Our goal is that these people walk away educated about what all their options are.”Find out more at (Spanish only) or on Facebook at Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Safe house for survivors of sexual exploitation to open doors

first_imgOn Tuesday, February 5, Guanacaste-based nonprofit organization Salvando Corazones received approval from PANI (Costa Rica’s equivalent to Child Protective Services) to officially open its doors. In 2012, Salvando Corazones became the first nonprofit to be licensed in Costa Rica to house survivors of commercial sexual exploitation between the ages of 8 and 18.Recently Costa Rica was identified by the U.S. TIP office as one of the top 14 countries in the world needing assistance to fight human trafficking. Interpol recognizes Costa Rica as the fastest rising country in the hemisphere for child prostitution. Until now, there has been no place to safely care for children rescued from the sex trade. Salvando Corazones has been working with PANI, the Health Ministry and other groups to get this safe home open, providing badly needed shelter and support to young victims of abuse and human trafficking. “Costa Rica is a wonderful country,” said Maria Fejervary, Founder of Salvando Corazones. “Let’s help to remove the darkness and bring new light to these children.”The Salvando Corazones safe house in Guanacaste will house 18 girls including caregivers, and this is only the beginning. Much education is needed to change the way people in Costa Rica, in the States and worldwide think about child prostitution. Programs are needed to educate everyone on the long-term psychological damage to these girls, and how to protect them. Salvando Corazones is also working in these areas to put together programs for schools and for parents.Salvando Corazones welcomes the involvement of anyone with time or financial resources to support the children. To learn more about the organization and how you can contribute, visit or contact Maria Fejervary at 8706-6601 or Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Salvadoran expresident tries to flee amid graft probe

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica and Bahamas send El Salvador financial reports on fugitive ex-President Flores El Salvador’s Funes urges Panama to give up fugitive ex-President Flores El Salvador ex-President Francisco Flores to stand trial for embezzlement El Salvador ex-President Francisco Flores in a coma after stroke SAN SALVADOR – El Salvador’s ex-President Francisco Flores, who is under investigation over alleged misuse of $10 million donated by Taiwan, tried to flee the country Tuesday, President Mauricio Funes said.But Flores denied the accusation and appeared before a congressional committee to say so. He denied any wrongdoing.A border agent noticed strange behavior in a bus in which Flores was seeking to leave the country for Guatemala, Funes said earlier.“At 11:00 am, ex-president Flores tried to leave the country on a bus (at the) La Hachadura crossing and he had gone through immigration … seeking to flee from justice,” he told a press conference.“We made him come back because he had not reported his departure, in other words he was hiding there; only the driver had reported he was there,” the president said, adding Flores was supposed to appear Tuesday before lawmakers investigating the donation case.Funes recently alleged that three checks – for $1 million, $4 million and $5 million – were issued by the Bank of New York, on behalf of Taiwan, and endorsed by Flores.The checks were received by a branch of Banco Cuscatlán in Costa Rica and sent to a bank in the Bahamas, through another bank in Miami, Funes said.Taiwan donated the money to El Salvador in the waning months of Flores’s presidency, between 2003 and 2004, said the president.“If his conscience is clean, if he didn’t do anything with that $10 million, then why is (Flores) sneaking out of the country at the Hachadura border crossing?” Funes asked.Flores said he had personal business in Guatemala but turned back at the border.“I did not leave the country. I did not hide. I decided at the border not to attend the meeting I had in Guatemala and I came back. That’s why I am here before you,” he told an investigative commission in Congress.He insisted he made no personal use of the money.Flores maintains that he accepted the money but did nothing inappropriate, passing it on through the proper channels.Flores has told investigators he did not receive the funds from Taiwan for a government cooperation account. He said he received them on a personal basis from the president of Taiwan.These contributions were “normal,” said Flores, and that Taiwan for years had been giving them to countries that recognized the island diplomatically.Just 22 countries, most in Central America and the Caribbean, recognize Taiwan diplomatically. China regards Taiwan as a rebel island awaiting reunification with the mainland. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

UPDATE El Salvador exguerrilla in presidential vote runoff narrowly misses victory

first_imgRelated posts:Leftist parties gaining ground as Costa Rica and El Salvador elections near Tired of gangs and poverty, Salvadorans head to the polls Sunday to choose between the left and right Ex-rebel commander favored in El Salvador runoff Conservative in Salvadoran vote demands fresh polls as political divisions intensify SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – A former leftist guerrilla narrowly missed victory in El Salvador’s presidency race Sunday, and will now face a runoff vote with a conservative rival, according to official results.With 81 percent of the vote counted, ruling leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén had nearly 49 percent of the vote, just missing the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.He will now face former San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano, 67, of the conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) in a second round of voting on March 9, the Supreme Elections Tribunal said.“They gave us a triumph in the first round and we’re sure that in the second round the difference will not be 10 points, it will be more than 10 points, it will be a great victory,” Sánchez Cerén told reporters.Quijano, who obtained nearly 39 percent of the vote, is hoping to eke out a victory with support from smaller conservative parties that did poorly in Sunday’s election.Having made it to a runoff vote “is proof that we can win,” Quijano told a group of supporters, adding that he was ready for the “great battle” on March 9.Sánchez Cerén, 69, is the country’s vice president and is hoping to succeed President Mauricio Funes, also of the FMLN.Voting took place without major violence in the poverty-stricken country, and election authorities said the turnout was lower than in previous elections.The small but densely populated Central American country of six million is plagued by brazen gang violence and still burdened by the legacy of its bitter 1979-1992 civil war.Tackling rampant violence and povertyAfter ending the conservatives’ 20-year hold on the country with Funes’s 2009 election, the FMLN nominated Sánchez Cerén, a civil war-era guerrilla commander, in a bid to shore up a country crippled by rampant crime and high poverty.“Whoever wins needs to be aware that in this country the cost of living is high, there’s no work and the maras are harassing us – an overwhelming task awaits,” said voter Argentina Campos, 41.Sánchez Cerén has promised an inclusive government and speaks of a “grand national accord.”Quijano’s candidacy was overshadowed by corruption allegations against an ARENA campaign adviser, ex-President Francisco Flores (1999-2009).The next president’s challenges include handling gang violence. Known in the region as “maras,” the criminal groups control whole neighborhoods and run drug distribution and extortion rackets.Homicides were running at 14 per day until a gang truce in March 2012, which helped bring the rate down to seven per day.Still, the maras are believed to have about 60,000 members, 10,000 of whom are behind bars.Sánchez Cerén is proposing a program that would allow ex-gang members to rejoin society, while Quijano is calling for a tough law-and-order crackdown on crime.With more than 40 percent of the population living in poverty, voters are also interested in jobs and economic stability.“What we want from the next president is peace and work,” as well as more security, 73-year-old retiree Noe González said on the streets of the capital’s rough Mejicanos suburb.If elected, Sánchez Cerén would be Latin America’s third ex-guerrilla president, following in the footsteps of Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff and Uruguay’s José Mujica.The new president is due to take office on June 1. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

New crime index ranks Costa Ricas most dangerous cantons but data are

first_imgRelated posts:30 percent of murders in the world happen in Latin America and the Caribbean Cops in Limón nab alleged suspect in mugging of British tourists Costa Rica saw ‘important increase in violence,’ says OIJ director Pirates of the Caribbean: Paranoia in Tortuguero The central cantons of Limón and San José top the country’s cantonal crime index, according to the latest report released this week by the Peace Vice Ministry – part of Costa Rica’s Justice Ministry – and the Institute for Municipal Development. But the data, a summary of which was released on Tuesday and didn’t include some serious crimes like rape and kidnapping, are three years old.The “IX Cantonal Analysis of Violence and Insecurity in Costa Rica” is a ranking based on the number of crimes reported to the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) in 2011. Actual data on the number of complaints filed are not included in the final report.The report, which reflected the country’s security situation one year into the administration of President Laura Chinchilla, shows that four of the five cantons with the highest crime rates were located in the Caribbean region: Limón (Central), Pococí, Matina and Talamanca. The central canton of San José ranked second.The two cantons with the least number of reported crimes that year were Hojancha and Nandayure, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. Next were Dota in San José, Alfaro Ruiz in Alajuela, and Alvarado in Cartago.Researchers used the data to create two other crime indexes, according to the type of crimes commited. Type 1 crimes included homicide, auto theft, assault and home invasions. In this category, the cantons with the highest rates were San José (Central), Limón (Central), Pococí (Limón), Alajuelita and Tibás (both in San José).The cantons with lowest rates in this category were Tarrazú and Dota (both in San José), Nandayure (Guanacaste), Jiménez (Cartago) and San Mateo (Alajuela).Type 2 crimes included burglary and petty theft. In this category, the largest number of crimes occurred again in the Caribbean cantons of Talamanca and Limón Central, followed by Heredia Central, Tarrazú (San José) and Aguirre (Puntarenas).Cantons with the lowest rates in this category were Tibás and Alajuelita (both in San José), Hojancha (Guanacaste) and Santo Domingo and Belén (both in Heredia).Peace Vice Minister Max Loría said the rankings were released to show that different types of crimes vary depending on the region.“We have been supporting the development of local plans for violence prevention, and this analysis can help us improve our local strategies,” Loría said.General Index of Crime Source: IX Cantonal Analysis of Violence and Insecurity in Costa Rica (The Tico Times) Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Corcovado Foundation opens budget hostel in Osa Peninsula

first_imgHammocks await penny-pinching sojourners at the Drake Bay Backpackers Hostel. Courtesy the Corcovado FoundationBudget travelers, rejoice: Visiting the Southern Zone just got a lot more affordable, thanks to Drake Bay Backpackers, a nonprofit hostel recently opened in Corcovado. Conceived of by the Corcovado Foundation, a sustainability-conscious NGO, founders hope the hostel will attract a new wave of visitors – and help environmental stewardship.“All proceeds of this hostel are destined to help us support our sea turtle conservation and environmental education program in Drake Bay,” wrote Alejandra Monge, executive director of the foundation, in an email to The Tico Times.Historically, the living space has accommodated foundation volunteers, and the hostel is actually based in the foundation’s camp on the Osa Peninsula, where guests have gathered, trained and donated their labor since 2003. Now the space will be open to any traveler, who may sleep there for as little as $10 per night. Long broken in by volunteers, Backpackers has all the amenities of a regular hostel. Courtesy the Corcovado Foundation“We have volunteers here helping the community to protect the sea turtles between July and December,” said Rob James, director of the foundation’s sea turtle program, in a statement. “But the rest of the year the building is empty. It seemed like an obvious opportunity to generate income for our environmental programs and promote responsible tourism at the same time.”As many Drake Bay veterans know, the region is filled with expensive resorts and upscale eco-lodges, and it is difficult for shoestring travelers to stay in the area for a reasonable price. Even reaching the Osa Peninsula requires either a day-long bus ride or a somewhat costly NatureAir flight. For travelers counting their colones, the new hostel will offer bunk beds ($10-15), private rooms ($20-25), a homestay ($30, including three meals), and even the option to camp ($5). The homestay program is an extension of the foundation’s volunteer network, giving travelers the chance to stay with local residents.“Because we don’t have to focus on profits, we are able to offer [lodging] at a much cheaper rate than the larger hotels,” added James.Guests will have access to the same amenities that volunteers have enjoyed for years: a community kitchen, hot showers, free WiFi, a library, a video projector and cinema screen, hammocks, laundry service and a “chill-out zone” for sultry afternoons. Because the foundation was partly established to encourage ecotourism, guests may sign up for community visits, hiking tours, scuba diving and whale-watching excursions.For information and directions about Drake Bay Backpackers, visit the hostel’s official website. Facebook Comments Related posts:New rule requires guides to accompany visitors in Corcovado National Park Tourists pay up to $6,800 each to visit Costa Rica’s Isla del Coco National Park To conserve the Amazon, the forest must become an economic ‘asset’ Caminos de Osa rural tourism project takes you to the doorsteps of Costa Rica’s peoplelast_img read more

Court rejects final appeal against Moín Port expansion construction to start within

first_img Facebook Comments The Supreme Court’s Civil and Administrative Law Branch recently rejected the final pending appeal against a port renovation and expansion project by APM Terminal, a Maersk subsidiary based in the Netherlands. The lawsuit attempted to block the $1 billion project on the country’s Caribbean coast by claiming that APM’s exclusive 33-year concession to operate the container terminal is an illegal monopoly.“This decision reaffirms the importance of the new container terminal in Moín,” Paul Gallie, general director for APM Terminals in Central America, said in a press release to local news outlets. “We need a competitive and modern port.”The project aims to update Costa Rica’s ailing port structure, which currently ranks 140th of 144 countries, according to the World Economic Forum. The new terminal will upgrade Costa Rica’s most frequented port to receive modern post-Panamax ships, which can transport up to 12,000 containers at a time.Since its announcement, the port project has been met with support from the government and business communities and contention from environmentalists and the port workers’ union, Sintrajap. Construction initially was slated to begin in September 2013, but lawsuits and the permitting process have delayed it by more than a year.With the final lawsuit out of the way, APM Terminals is scheduled to break ground within the next two months. However, the company still is waiting for approval by the Environment Ministry’s National Technical Secretariat of a 3,000-page environmental impact assessment. Related posts:Solís administration, striking dockworkers at loggerheads over port concession UPDATE: Atlantic ports paralyzed after dockworkers go on ‘indefinite’ strike Police re-take docks from striking union workers, arrest 68 Limonenses weigh in on Moín Port expansion and the ongoing dockworkers strikelast_img read more

Costa Ricas Solís tables Animal Welfare Bill in favor of highway construction

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica animal welfare bill gains momentum as horrifying abuse cases circulate on social media President Solís urges lawmakers to pass animal cruelty bill following ‘barbarous’ attacks Too many cats at the Legislative Assembly, says Costa Rica lawmaker Animal abuse reports on the rise Approval of Bill #18,298 — known as the Animal Welfare Bill — was scheduled for discussion by lawmakers in a full Legislative Assembly session starting this week, but it now has been postponed. President Luis Guillermo Solís on Monday evening tabled the proposal in order to prioritize passage of a construction bill for the highway between San José and San Ramón.The bill is among 19 proposals that have stalled in order to expedite discussions of the highway construction legislation. The list also includes tax proposals, indigenous rights issues, gender rights issues, maritime zones and other public infrastructure projects.At a press conference following his weekly Cabinet meeting, Solís commented on the Animal Welfare Bill by saying his decision doesn’t mean it’s not important for his administration. He said lawmakers would discuss the initiative in coming weeks.The bill calls for prison sentences of up to six years for those convicted of causing the death, suffering, injury or torture of animals. It was drafted during the previous administration, but President Solís last year promised to include it as a priority for his term.Lawmaker Marcela Guerrero from the ruling Citizen Action Party and a member of the Assembly’s Environmental Commission said the “temporary tabling of the bill will actually help us to draft a more complete version, because [lawmakers] continue receiving input from several interested groups.”The commission this week is holding hearings with both supporters and opponents of the bill. Among those weighing in, lawmakers on Tuesday met with leaders from the Agriculture and Agribusiness Chamber, pork producers, cattle producers and other groups who believe the bill’s current drafting may hurt their businesses.Following these meetings, commission members will make the necessary changes and submit it for discussion at the full Assembly.Last Sunday, hundreds of people dressed in black marched along Paseo Colón in San José to demand lawmakers pass the animal protection bill. A similar protest is scheduled for next Sunday in the province of Alajuela. Facebook Commentslast_img read more