Earn 15 commission and free hotel nights with AlSols new agent program

first_img Share TORONTO — AlSol Hotels & Resorts is rolling out a new travel agent program that will reward agents with 15% commission and free hotel nights.The ‘AlWays AlSol’ program affords agents who book directly on the Travel Agent Portal a 15% commission, plus they’ll earn one free night for every five paid nights at the AlSol resort of their choice. As a bonus, AlSol Hotels & Resorts will give agents one free night to start as a thank you for joining the program.AlSol Hotels & Resorts, based in Cancun, is a rapidly expanding hotel and resort operator, with three properties set in the exclusive community of Cap Cana, the jewel of Punta Cana. All properties impress with luxury accommodations, personalized check-in, butler service in common areas, suites and poolside, gourmet cuisine and more. The company is represented in Canada by VoX International.To register for the program, go to AlSol.com/travel-agents and click ‘register now.’ For more information email Alsol@voxtm.ca or go to alsolresorts.com. Posted by Earn 15% commission and free hotel nights with AlSol’s new agent program Travelweek Group Friday, October 7, 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Europe 2017 with Insight as exciting and romantic as ever

first_img Friday, October 7, 2016 Posted by TORONTO — Insight Vacations is launching its Europe 2017 program with a new look and feel, as well as three exciting new itineraries that bring guests closer to the showstoppers and lesser-discovered corners of Europe. With early booking bonuses and loyalty savings, now is a great time to book your client’s next trip to Europe.“Travellers are still looking for the comfort and assurances of being part of a tour group. Insight can provide peace of mind and help minimize and avoid any disturbances,” said Cris David, president, Insight Vacations Canada. “Europe is still as exciting and romantic as ever, and early booking bonuses make it a great time to book.”The new-look brochure has been designed to reflect the quality, attention to detail and the style with which guests can expect with an Insight Vacations trip. The brochure highlights each component of an Insight holiday, from the Signature Hotels and Experiences, fine dining and expertise of the Tour Directors to the five different travelling styles available to suit each individual guest.“The new brochure brings out the ‘Insight Difference,’ making it easy to understand why an Insight vacation is so special and memorable – from the premium and Signature Hotels in the best locations to the farmers, artisans, chefs, vineyard owners, storytellers and Local Experts you meet along the way,” said John Boulding, global CEO, Insight Vacations. “We’ve also clearly broken out our trips into travelling styles, so that agents can easily identify the right trip for the right client. For guests looking for more relaxed starts and longer stays in each place, then Easy Pace will be for them, while a Discovery Journey takes in multiple destinations so it’s perfect for the first time visitor to Europe.”More news:  Experience Ireland: the Emerald Isle’s mythical talesInsight will add three new itineraries to the collection for 2017, including the 13-day ‘Country Roads of Southern Scandinavia’, an off-the-beaten track discovery of Scandinavia’s southern mountains, fjords, rivers and vibrant cities. Starting in Oslo and finishing in Copenhagen, highlights include a visit to the market stalls of Bergen, an island-hopping cruise through the fjords, and two nights in vibrant Aarhus.Also new is the 30-day ‘Scandinavian Heritage’, which links the new ‘Country Roads of Southern Scandinavia’ itinerary with the existing ‘Grand Tour of Scandinavia’ trip to form an adventure through Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. Guests will visit the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, see a working husky farm and enjoy champagne at the Northern Cape.Lastly, the 9-day Warsaw and the Baltic States takes in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Guests will see how well Warsaw has been restored post-WWII, and visit the wonderful red-brick Gothic castle at Trakai, accessible via a wooden footbridge across an idyllic lake.More news:  ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growthIt is easier than ever for clients to make their Europe vacation dreams a reality with Insight’s Early Payment Discount, saving Canadian travellers up to 10% ($2,530 per couple) if booked and paid by Jan. 12, 2017.“To help agents clinch the deal, we’re also offering these trips at better value than ever before, with prices flat or in many cases less than they were in 2016,” said David. “We are also continuing to extend a variety of savings such as Early Payment Discount, huge savings for solo travellers on specific Single Friendly departures and our Club Bon Voyage savings for returning guests.” Europe 2017 with Insight as “exciting and romantic as ever” Sharecenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Insight Vacations Travelweek Group last_img read more

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With local tours activities now available with Airbnb can flights be next

first_img Posted by Share Tags: Airbnb Friday, November 18, 2016 Travelweek Group center_img SAN FRANCISCO — Airbnb has just unveiled the most significant development in its eight-year history as it moves beyond accommodation with the launch of ‘Trips’. Officially launched yesterday, ‘Trips’ includes three key areas: Experiences, Places & Homes, with ‘Flights & Services’ to be added in the future.‘Experiences’ are handcrafted activities designed and led by local experts, be it a single activity like a Samurai Swordplay workshop or an immersive multi-day experience like learning about and driving classic cars in Malibu. ‘Trips’ launches with approximately 500 Experiences in 12 cities worldwide: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, London, Paris, Florence, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo and Seoul. As of yesterday, budding hosts in these and an additional 39 cities worldwide can request to list their Experience.‘Places’ aims to bring to life the cities of people who live there, reflecting the recommendations of hundreds of thousands of Airbnb hosts. With Insider Guidebooks, Airbnb has identified cultural experts and neighbourhood insiders to recommend hidden gems within their city. A total of 100 Insider Guidebooks are available in six cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Havana, Nairobi, Detroit and Seoul, with more coming soon.In addition to Insider Guidebooks, ‘Places’ includes over one million individual recommendations worldwide from Airbnb’s home hosts. The company is partnering with online booking app Resy to let travellers make restaurant reservations through Airbnb – in competition with services like OpenTable and Yelp.More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesAirbnb has also struck an exclusive partnership with Detour to offer access to experiential audio walking tours. At launch, adio tours will initially be available for Los Angeles, with San Francisco, Paris, London, Tokyo and Seoul to follow by Spring 2017.Also new to the table is ‘Trip Itinerary’, a feature that brings together everything the traveller needs to know into one simple timeline, with the ability to easily book and add Experiences or things to do. Airbnb’s vision is to ultimately cater for every aspect of a trip, including flights. In an interview, CEO Brian Chesky said he hopes to add more services, including the ability to book airline flights.The launch of Trips also sees the introduction of a new identity authentication process that the Airbnb Experiences Community will be using. Hosts and guests will be asked to scan an official government ID (for example a passport, or driving license) and then take a simple selfie. After the ID is authenticated, the ID and selfie will be reviewed to confirm that both pictures appear to match. Having a more robust standard of authenticating identity will make the Airbnb community stronger and reaffirms Airbnb’s ongoing commitment to authenticity, reliability, and security. This new identity authentication step is required for all Experiences users, and is also currently being tested for homes bookings.More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesSince the company launched in 2008, when the co-founders invited travellers to sleep on an air mattress in their San Francisco loft, Airbnb has grown to be one of the world’s most valuable private startups by collecting fees when private hosts rent out accommodations listed on the site. It’s raised $3.9 billion from investors, according to CB Insights, which tracks venture funding.Chesky declined to say if the company is profitable, although the Wall Street Journal reported last year that Airbnb was spending heavily to expand in more cities. The newspaper cited internal projections that forecast Airbnb to have nearly $1 billion in revenue last year and to become profitable by 2020.With file from The Associated Press With local tours & activities now available with Airbnb, can flights be next? << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Avoyas 2018 conference to take place on land and at sea onboard

first_img Travelweek Group Avoya’s 2018 conference to take place on land and at sea, onboard new Norwegian Bliss
 << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Tuesday, November 14, 2017 center_img Share FT. LAUDERDALE — Avoya Travel plans to host its 2018 Annual Conference both on land and at sea, May 22 – 27, 2018, in conjunction with the inaugural preview cruise of NCL’s Norwegian Bliss from Long Beach, California.Avoya says the event will serve as a forum for it “to continue its collaborative innovation for a different and better vacation planning experience and to celebrate record success of the Independent Agencies in the Avoya Network”. Avoya has a small but growing number of home-based agencies in Canada.Avoya’s 2018 conference will bring together independent agencies in the Avoya Network, preferred supplier partners, and Avoya support staff for education, networking and celebration.New for 2018 Avoya is offering additional educational programs with its new ‘Pre-Conference Day’ with specific sessions designed for the rapidly growing number of new-to-travel independent agency owners, as well as supplier one-on-one meetings and peer-to-peer best practice sharing.Avoya says its overall conference program is set to focus on new developments that deliver the best experiences to customers, building industry-best Independent Agencies sales, and will feature top-attended events such as the Chairman’s Gala.Avoya has a buyout at Hotel Maya, Hilton Hotels’ newly renovated Long Beach oceanfront property, to host the land component of the conference May 22 – 25. After which attendees will board Norwegian Bliss for its highly invitation-only inaugural sailing May 25 – 27.“We’re thrilled to welcome the elite Independent Agencies in the Avoya Network to be among the first travel professionals to experience our newest and most incredible ship, Norwegian Bliss,” said Camille Olivere, Senior Vice President, Sales for Norwegian Cruise Line. “Norwegian Cruise Line shares a passion with Avoya Travel for innovation in travel and providing our mutual guests with exceptional cruise vacation experiences, so we’re honored to be their Annual Conference partner once again.”Registration is now open and details about programing, keynote speakers and events will be announced soon, says Avoya. Tags: Avoya Travel, Spherelast_img read more

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Playa Hotels to become one of Jamaicas largest resort owners with new

first_imgPlaya Hotels to become one of Jamaica’s largest resort owners with new Sagicor deal Wednesday, February 28, 2018 FAIRFAX — Playa Hotels & Resorts’ new agreement with Sagicor Group Jamaica Limited will see the latter contribute five all-inclusive resorts and two adjacent oceanfront developable land sites in Jamaica to Playa’s growing portfolio.The portfolio includes four existing resorts, including the 489-room Hilton Rose Hall, the 268-room Jewel Runaway Bay, the 250-room Jewel Dunn’s River, and the 225-room Jewel Paradise Cove. It also includes an 88-room hotel tower and spa, two developable land sites with a potential density of up to 700 rooms, and a hotel management contract for the Jewel Grande Palmyra.The existing assets are currently managed by an external third-party operator and upon closing of the transaction, Playa will be able to immediately self-manage the assets.In exchange, Sagicor will receive 20 million shares of PLYA common stock and US$100 million in cash. In addition, Playa has agreed to nominate two Sagicor appointees for election to Playa’s Board of Directors in connection with the consummation of the transaction.More news:  Le Boat has EBBs along with its new 2020 brochure“Playa’s development track record, management expertise, strong regional presence and deep customer relationships will contribute significantly to improving the Sagicor portfolio performance,” said Bruce Wardinski, Chairman and CEO of Playa Hotels & Resorts. “Most importantly, this transaction provides Playa with multi-year built-in growth opportunities, which we expect will drive outstanding financial returns.”Playa currently owns and operates the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall in Jamaica. This new business combination with Sagicor will make Playa one of the largest resort owners and operators in Jamaica, both in total number of rooms and number of brands under management. Share Travelweek Group center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Jamaica, Playa Hotels & Resorts Posted bylast_img read more

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Win a luxurious 4night stay at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort

first_imgWin a luxurious 4-night stay at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Contests, Hawaii, Westin Hotels & Resorts Posted by Sharecenter_img HAWAII — Westin Hotels & Resorts has launched a new contest with Travelweek giving agents a chance to win a 4-night stay at the newly renovated and rebranded Westin Hapuna Beach Resort in Hawaii.The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort has retained all the trademark selling points that make it such a well-loved property, plus it’s now debuting as the only renowned Westin wellness hospitality brand on the Island of Hawaii.The resort stretches along its namesake white sand beach on the Island of Hawaii. The Kohala Coast is known for its world-class shoreline, as well as for many cultural and archaeological gems nestled between centuries-old lava fields. Contemporary style contrasts with lush, manicured gardens and the endless blues of the sky and the ocean.Arnold Palmer designed the award-winning 18-hole Hapuna Golf Course. Two swimming pools, a 6,800-square-foot free-form family pool and an adult-exclusive infinity pool, overlook Hapuna Beach. Four reimagined dining venues are inspired by the island’s bounty.More news:  Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youthFor a chance to experience all this and more, visit the contest page here to enter:http://www.travelweek.ca/contests/big-island-big-sweepstakes/ Friday, September 14, 2018 Travelweek Group last_img read more

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Taxi fares to increase

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rican taxi drivers, language-school workers arrested in fake English diploma scam Taxi drivers end protests after government promises no new permits Rates going up for Costa Rica taxis Taxis drivers block capital roads to demand crackdown on ‘piratas’ The first kilometer of a taxi ride will soon cost ₡585 ($1.16), ₡15 more than the current rate of ₡570 ($1.13). The Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) also approved an increase of ₡10 for additional kilometers.According to ARESEP, the changes are a result of inflation, changes in salaries and fuel prices from March. In February, taxi fares were decreased by ₡5.Fares for special taxi services, like those at Juan Santamaría International Airport, will also increase from ₡835 ($1.66) to ₡850 ($1.69).New fares will go into effect the day after they are published in the the official government newspaper La Gaceta. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Costa Rican hotels expect 62 percent ocupancy for midyear vacations

first_imgNo related posts. A survey conducted by the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels (CCH) of its members showed that 62 percent of hotel rooms will be occupied during the mid-year vacations starting next week.CCH projections released Tuesday would represent a decrease of 4 percent compared to the same period last year, when local hotels reached an occupancy rate of 66 percent.Beaches are still the favorite destination for Costa Rican tourists during this period, as hotels in coastal areas expect 67 percent of their rooms to be occupied, while mountain hotels foresee a less optimistic 43 percent occupancy.The CCH said the preliminary figures were obtained in a survey among only a sampling of its 232 members. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Business helps empower Guatemalan women and preserve an ancient trade

first_imgGUATEMALA CITY – Stephanie Jolluck first came to Guatemala in 1997 to volunteer with a women’s cooperative. The country’s 36-year civil war had just ended, leaving a bloody legacy of 200,000 people dead and more than 40,000 disappeared.Working with an organization that helped empower indigenous women, Jolluck gained an insight into the color and culture of Guatemala.“I rapidly fell in love with the rich and vibrant colors of the textiles and other handicrafts. I witnessed extreme poverty for the first time and noticed that most people living in poverty were the very ones creating the beautiful, ingenious, awe-inspiring weavings and art; it was a contradiction that didn’t make sense,” Jolluck told The Tico Times.Guatemalan textiles have become famous throughout the world; however, the majority of the Mayan women who create them live in extreme poverty. Many Mayan girls drop out of school during third grade, marry young and have large families, which puts a strain on their already limited resources.“I explored the country and the anthropologist and designer in me grew amazed at the 2,000-year-old textile tradition that was slowly disappearing. I couldn’t bear the thought of this beautiful tradition going extinct and wanted to share it with the world,” Jolluck said. Colección Luna’s designs are made from reclaimed indigenous clothing that is then handwoven or embroidered to make bags and jewelry that are sold to customers around the world. Courtesy of Colección Luna Shortly after returning to the United States, Jolluck gave up her job as a high school Spanish teacher and decided to create Colección Luna, at the age of 26, in an effort to alleviate poverty, preserve Guatemala’s textile tradition and empower women.Working with a women’s cooperative that employs about 100 people on the shores of Lake Atitlán, 150 kilometers west of Guatemala City, Colección Luna sells handbags, accessories and beaded jewelry to customers all over the world using reclaimed indigenous clothing and fair-trade practices.“I travel four to six times a year to the highland region of Guatemala, working directly with the artisans on my designs. The line of textiles is created from reclaimed Mayan indigenous clothing: huipiles (blouses), cortes (skirts) and fajas (belts) that are hand-woven or hand-embroidered,” she said.Weaving together ancient traditions and contemporary pieces such as iPad covers, smartphone cases and yoga bags, Colección Luna shares the Mayan culture with customers overseas and teaches them the importance of fair trade and empowerment of women.“It’s been amazing to see and hear how consumers are becoming more socially conscious about their buying decisions. When my business started in 1999, you rarely heard the words ‘fair/direct trade,’ ‘women’s empowerment,’ ‘sustainability,’ ‘eco-friendly,’ things that I focused on when I began Colección Luna. I love that these words are now recognized and that consumers care about the how, where and why of Colección Luna,” she added.Last month, Jolluck was announced as a “Leg Up” winner by SPANX, a hosiery company that runs a program to raise awareness of entrepreneurship by women.“On the morning of the announcement I was on a plane headed to Guatemala to work with my artisans. It was so wonderful to share [the news] with them because, as my partners, it was their award too,” Jolluck said.Lidia Agarre and her husband have worked with Jolluck since the business first began, sourcing fabrics, developing products and working with weavers in their small village in Quiché, in northwestern Guatemala. Coming from a family of artisans, Agarre used to sell her designs at Chichicastenango, Central America’s biggest market, but says that business was unpredictable.“Stephanie has helped us a lot. The economy has gone down a bit, but Stephanie is always opening up new markets so we still have work. Employees earn more than they used to at the market and they work when they can. Some of them have to attend to the maize harvest so we work around that,” Agarre said. Related posts:Belize urges solution to Guatemala’s long-standing territorial claims Guatemala’s Relief Map: hands down the country’s best guide Award-winning documentary portrays a Guatemalan family’s struggle to bring a sister’s killer to justice Guatemala looks to Colombia’s success to overhaul police forcecenter_img Since working with Colección Luna, Agarre and her husband have seen their standard of living improve and have been able to buy a small plot of land and a house.“We’ve had some difficult times, but thanks to our jobs we were able to afford hospital bills. We live better now – we can send our daughters to school and afford food,” she said.Jolluck is currently working on a line of vintage Guatemalan textiles and an exhibition and talk in the U.S. about Colección Luna’s work.To learn more about Colección Luna, visit the website: http://coleccion-luna.myshopify.com/ Facebook Comments Colección Luna recently partnered with the African musician Emmanuel Jal and his “We Want Peace” campaign to empower indigenous Mayan women, build schools in South Sudan and spread the message of global peace. Courtesy of Colección Lunalast_img read more

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Construction of new Costa Rican Legislative Assembly facilities to start in February

first_imgConstruction of a new complex that will house Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly will begin on Feb. 15, and the first stage will be inaugurated in the second quarter of 2016, according to Julio Cedeño, engineer of Novatecnia, the company that will manage the project, the weekly El Financiero reported this week.New Assembly facilities will cost an estimated $76 million and would be finished in four stages spanning five years. The complex will have two towers and one main building, and will be located at the Assembly’s current location in downtown San José.Plans for lawmakers’ main office building will be ready in early November. That building will cost $32 million and will be located in the western sector of the legislative complex, across from the south side of the Supreme Elections Tribunal.Novatecnia will open public bidding for construction of that building and a second tower that will host administrative offices.The fourth part of the project consists of renovating current facilities, some of which were declared of historical heritage by the state, and therefore must be preserved and restored.“All public bids will be awarded between the second half of November and the first week of April,” Cedeño said.  Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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New road to Monteverde bogged down by delays red tape

first_imgProperty owners agreed to move fences back and donate land to allow roadway expansion. Courtesy of Foro de Monteverde Private contractor RAASA last month began minor repairs and the placement of new culverts along the gravel road. Courtesy of Foro de Monteverde Monteverde councilman José Francisco Vargas said that a “solution is in the [national] government’s hands,” and that even members of the local government are “very concerned” about the delays.“If the current condition of the road continues, we will only keep losing visitors,” he said.Business owners noted that nearby communities already are cashing in from the decrease in visitors to Monteverde. Ramírez said that some tour operators are reluctant to recommend Monteverde as a destination out of concern that travelers’ vehicles would be damaged. DelaysOf the work that has been done, several issues contributed to delays. For example, initial plans outlined a 3-meter-wide road, but an Oct. 28 study by the University of Costa Rica’s National Structural Materials and Models Laboratory (LANAMME) said it should be built “with two asphalt lanes of at least 3.30 meters width each.”Then, another LANAMME evaluation last month noted that new culvert pipes were unsuitable for the amount of rainfall in the area. They were replaced. Business owners hope the road will be finished in late 2014 or early 2015, but no one is certain. Said Montero, “It all depends on how fast the red tape is overcome.” Facebook Comments Local residents expressed relief when the project finally was announced, but recently they have grown concerned that things are moving much too slowly.Community groups like the Comité Pro Nueva Carretera, Comité Pro-Asfaltado de Carretera a Monteverde and the Foro de Monteverde have traveled to San José each week to meet with government officials and make sure “things get done,” business owner Guido Montero Porras told The Tico Times.Montero said that this week, if the budget request stalls, the groups were ready to “increase the pressure.”A bumpy road  Monteverde residents have been talking about a new road for 15 years. It took public demonstrations to pressure President Laura Chinchilla’s administration to finally move things forward in February. That month, Chinchilla visited the area and promised to pave 17 kilometers of road to Santa Elena, the main access town to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.But CONAVI changed plans in June, saying it would carry out the project in two phases – not one – in which they would first make repairs to the current gravel road, including replacing culverts at a cost of ₡960 million ($1.9 million). Those funds were to come from CONAVI’s roadway budget.In the second phase, the gravel road would be covered by a layer of asphalt, requiring an additional ₡1.5 billion ($3 million), a budget-modification request that requires the Comptroller’s Office’s approval.But CONAVI delayed submitting that request, prompting the concern of local residents.CONAVI Director Cristian Vargas last week responded to the concerns by saying, “There are legal procedures with which we must comply before moving to other phases of the project.”Yet the request to amend the budget was only approved by CONAVI’s board of directors on Nov. 11.A joint effortResidents are so anxious for a new road that 97 property owners agreed earlier this year to donate part of their land and to move fences back to allow for roadway expansion.Monteverde Tourism Chamber President Danny Ramírez said business owners have seen a drop of up to 40 percent of tourist visits in the past two years, forcing “at least seven businesses” to close in recent months.center_img The National Roadway Council (CONAVI) this week will ask Costa Rica’s Comptroller General’s Office to approve a ₡1.5 billion ($3 million) budget change to fund a long-awaited overhaul of the main road to Monteverde, one of Costa Rica’s most-visited tourist destinations.Tourism is the main economic activity in Monteverde, a Quaker community and cloud forest preserve in the Tilarán Mountains, and local business owners say a new road would go a long way to help boost the local economy.CONAVI engineer Eugenia Sequeira said on Monday that a response from the comptroller’s office is expected in two weeks. But Monteverde residents have been waiting for CONAVI to file that request for months.The current gravel road is dismally worn-out, particularly after rainy season storms make travel to the area nerve-wracking, if possible at all. Surveying for a new road began in June, and the construction company RAASA initiated minor repairs to the road in October.The gravel road to Santa Elena and Monteverde has been repaired several times over the years, the most recent occurring earlier this year when CONAVI fixed damage caused by the previous year’s Nicoya earthquake and harsh rainy season.JIMOSA, a private contractor, performed that work at a cost of ₡100 million ($200,000), allotted from CONAVI’s roadway maintenance budget.The total planned investment in the upcoming overhaul is ₡8 billion ($16 million), Public Works and Transport Minister Pedro Castro said in February. Related posts:Work to begin on new road to Costa Rica’s Monteverde cloud forest community Residents demand new, better road to Monteverde Road to Monteverde to be paved Monteverde residents demanding a new road slow traffic on Inter-American Highwaylast_img read more

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World Cup legend Maradona slams FIFA for drug testing 7 Costa Rica

first_imgRECIFE, Brazil — Football legend Diego Maradona hit out at FIFA after claiming seven of Costa Rica’s players were subjected to post-match doping controls over fears sponsors would not pay up if bigger teams like Italy failed to get out of the group stage at the World Cup finals.Costa Rica, who stunned two-time champions Uruguay 3-1 last week, qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup on Friday with a superb 1-0 win over four-time champions Italy in Recife.In accordance with FIFA regulations, two players from each side underwent doping controls following the clash at Arena Pernambuco.However, five other Costa Rica players, unnamed in a report Saturday on Italian site Gazzetta, were also called to give samples.Maradona, who was sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the United States after testing positive for a cocktail of banned products including ephedrine, said FIFA’s decision amounted to a “lack of respect for the rules.”The Argentinian also suggested the Central Americans had come under extra scrutiny because sponsors would not “pay as promised” if more established teams like Italy failed to go through.“Why test seven players from Costa Rica and not seven from Italy?” Maradona said.According to Gazzetta’s report, FIFA explained that, as well as the two players from each side normally scheduled for post-match doping controls, five Costa Rican players were added to the list because they were not available for pre-tournament testing beforehand.But Maradona said that explanation was unsatisfactory: “This is only happening because some people are annoyed Costa Rica, and not the big teams, are going through [to the next round], and so the sponsors won’t pay what they’d promised.“It’s against the rules. Two players from each team are supposed to undergo doping controls. I know what I’m talking about, because it happened to me,” Maradona said. “But seven players? I’ve never seen something like that.”UPDATE: In his blog “Pamplinas” on elpais.com, Argentine journalist Martín Caparrós offers brilliant commentary on FIFA’s decision and the organization in general. It’s worth a read if you speak Spanish. Caparrós states:Yesterday, when they [FIFA] decided that seven Costa Rican players should be tested for doping, they were stating the obvious: There is an order, and you can’t mess with it. …The order is clear: In football, there are countries that are central and countries that are peripheral. Countries that buy talent and countries that sell raw material: Europe, on one side, Latin America and Africa on the other. …They call them “Ticos”: It is the measure of a small, tranquil country in a zone of conflict, proud of its pacifism and its education and its volcanoes, a country that recently awoke from years of inaction and corruption and is named in surveys as one of the happiest countries on the planet. It is a country that lived in the confines of the football world, and suddenly said, “Here I am,” and shouted, “Pura vida”!Read the entire blog here. Thanks to Fo León for the link.UPDATE 2: AFP is reporting that Costa Rica has officially submitted a request to FIFA for an explanation of the anti-doping tests:“We’re asking FIFA for an explanation. They probably won’t respond, and we won’t be surprised by that,” Costa Rica’s president of the national selection, Adrián Gutiérrez, said. “What has been surprising on a global level is that they test seven players, and that creates an image of suspicion that Costa Rican players are doping.” Facebook Comments Related posts:In Costa Rica, pride for La Sele’s historic World Cup play Are you ready for Costa Rica vs. the Netherlands? 32 fascinating facts about Tico football VIDEO: Even in defeat, Costa Rica celebrates VIDEO: World Cup 2014 Retrospective!last_img read more

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Costa Rica tourism chamber lobbies against bill that would redirect funds from

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica rises in global ranking of travel, tourism competitiveness Guess who tops US searches for ‘most popular vacation destinations’ on Bing… Upbeat outlook for Costa Rica tourism, as visitors, revenue up in 2014 Tourism entrepreneurs oppose license, royalty payments to canopy patent holder Leaders of the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR) on Tuesday told members of the Legislative Assembly’s Environmental Commission that they oppose a bill that would reduce by 50 percent the Costa Rican Tourism Board’s (ICT) budget to promote the country.Bill No. 18,251 proposes that funds collected from a $15 tax charged on plane tickets to Costa Rica be distributed equally between the ICT and the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) — part of the Environment Ministry — to pay for purchased or expropriated land for the establishment of national parks, as well as for infrastructure and service improvements in protected areas.SINAC officials and several conservation groups have previously voiced their support for the proposal.CANATUR members, however, believe the cuts would affect the ICT’s promotional efforts, which they said “currently are already low compared to those of other regional countries that compete with Costa Rica in attracting tourists,” according to chamber president Pablo Abarca.“Following the global financial crisis, the tourism sector in Costa Rica has experienced a slight recovery, supported mostly by continuous ICT investment in international promotion and marketing. But those investments are still substantially lower than what other regional countries are currently spending,” Abarca said on Tuesday morning.Tourism entrepreneurs said proposed budget cuts would leave Costa Rica at a clear disadvantage compared to destinations such as Panama, El Salvador, Colombia and other countries that have “tax incentives, more competitive public policies and a strong strategy for attracting more airlines,” CANATUR said in a statement.Abarca said members of the tourism sector are aware of the important role Costa Rica’s national parks play in drawing tourists, but the bill’s provisions “threaten promotions of all the country’s tourist destinations, including national parks.”CANATUR is asking lawmakers to table the bill. They also want a meeting between Environment Ministry officials and members of ICT to draft a new bill that would benefit both agencies.Lawmakers are expected to discuss the bill at the Assembly’s Environmental Commission on Thursday. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Costa Rica starts aid distribution to Guanacaste farmers stricken by drought

first_imgRelated posts:National Emergency Commission lifts drought warning for Pacific provinces Costa Rica experiments with aquaponics to fight drought Government approves $1 million in aid to farmers affected by unusual weather conditions Tempisque River: History of neglect threatens Guanacaste people and environment Officials from the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG) and the National Emergency Commission (CNE) began distributing animal feed and other supplies to help nearly 4,000 farmers affected by a lack of rainfall in the country’s northwestern province of Guanacaste.MAG officials will distribute aid throughout this month and into July, including seed, bales of hay, minerals, molasses, dried orange pulp, corn and concentrated food. Later this month, MAG also will begin distributing sugar to beekeepers.The CNE approved a total allocation so far of ₡1 billion ($2 million) to assist Guanacaste’s farmers, the ministry’s regional director, Oscar Vásquez Rosales, said.Residents in 11 districts from the cantons of Carrillo, Liberia, La Cruz, Santa Cruz, Nicoya and Nandayure are the most affected by the lack of rain, MAG reported.Leonardo Murillo Torres, research director at the National Cattle Farmers’ Corporation, said he does not yet have exact figures on losses, but the association has received reports that at least 200 cattle have died due to a lack of water this year. He expects up to 400,000 cattle to be affected at some level by the lack of water.Rainy season in Costa Rica runs from May to November, but rains have been scarce in the northwestern province. The first showers began just last week, and according to National Meteorological Institute (IMN) forecasts, drought conditions might return starting next week.Drought in Guanacaste in recent weeks has caused lost crops and livestock, and the damage is still being studied by MAG. A preliminary report is expected later this week, the ministry’s press office reported.Rainfall levels in May reached record lows for Guanacaste, and according to the IMN, showers at the end of last week were the first with normal rainfall levels for the season.According to IMN data, several communities in Guancaste registered rainfall levels below 1 centimeter (0.4 inches) last month. Liberia regostered 0.5 millimeters – the lowest since 1967, when the community had 7.5 mm – while Cañas recorded 7.1 mm and Santa Rosa 4.8 mm.MAG plans include investing an additional ₡1.2 billion ($2.2 million) in supplies to assist farmers during the second half of this year and the first half of 2016.Ministry experts also are outlining plans to improve water supplies on farms by building mills to pump water and installing solar water pumps and other options for alternative irrigation to the most-affected areas. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Art City Tour Progressive Rock Concert and other happenings around Costa Rica

first_imgCultural: Art City TourThe fourth edition of this year’s Art City Tour, “Vacations in San Jose,” takes place this July 15 starting at 5 p.m. Art City Tour is a regular event that vies participants free access to museums and other participating institutions throughout downtown San José. Itineraries include tours through different museums, galleries, cultural centers, design stores, parks and historical buildings.Art City Tour “Vacaciones en Chepe” takes place July 15, San Jose downtown. Free. More info: GAM Cultural website.Music: Opeth ConcertThe Swedish progressive rock/metal band is coming to Central America for the first time, including their Costa Rican show. The band is promoting their latest album, “Pale Communion.”“Opeth Concert” takes place July 14 at Pepper’s Club. 8 p.m. ₡33,000 – 39,000 ($62 – 78). More info: SpecialTicket Website.Musical Theater: Lutherices PopThis musical theater group has been authorized by the 1967 comedy troupe Les Luthiers to adapt and performs their plays. Lutherices performs a capella arrangements of the original comic texts, staged with costumes, scenery and choreography.“Lutherices Pop” performs July 14-15 at Melico Salazar Theater, downtown San José. 8 p.m. ₡10,000 – 25,000 ($20 – 50). More info: Lutherices Facebook page.Movies: “Preamble”This initiative to exhibitnational and international films includes a wide variety of gems. Here is a glimpse:July 10:7 p.m.: “Carmina o Revienta,” by Pablo León. A Spanish production that tells the story of a woman inspired by Carmina Barrios, the mother of Paco León.July 11: 4 p.m.: “El mar amarillo,” by Na Hong-jin. A Korean movie that tells the story of a man who is going though a really difficult economic situation and desperately needs money; he is contacted by a mysterious man to carry out a murder.7 p.m.: “Summer Wars,” by Mamoru Hosada. A Japanese movie about a young boy who receives emails with a series of mysterious symbols – then attempts to save the world.July 12:4 p.m.: “Las marimbas del infierno,” by Julio Hernández. A Guatemalan movie where Don Alfonso, a marimba musician extorted by gangs, and Blacko, a evangelical rocker, come together to merge the traditional sound of the marimba with the power of heavy metal.7 p.m.: “A girl walks home alone at night,” by Ana Lily Amirpour. A U.S. film billed as “The first Iranian vampire Western.” ‘Nuff said.“Preambulo” takes place July 9-12 at La Sala Gómez Miralles del Centro Costarricense de Producción Cinematográfica, Barrio Amón. Free. More info: Centro de Cine Website Theater: “The Credit”The 2013 play “The Credit” tells the story of Antonio, an honest man who is forced to ask the bank for a loan. Because he has nothing else to offer as collateral, he is forced to do something that will destroy his family.“El Crédito” will be performed July 9-August 30 at the National Theater, downtown San José. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. ₡2,500 – 5,500 ($5 – 11). More info: National Theater website. Theater: “Good night, Idiot!”“Good night, Idiot” is an example of “journalism theater,” which seeks to encourage critical views of  life in Costa Rica among young audiences in an interactive way. The play has a news-inspired format with scenes from 2 to 10 minutes where news protagonists come to life to open the eyes of the public with colloquial and somewhat sarcastic language. It will be presented as a tour at 15 different spots around San José.Tour schedule is: Casa Ami July 9, Casa Palabra July 10, El Sótano July 11, Casa Avila-Korish July 12, Casa Frida July 16, Guayaba July 17,  Casa Batsú July 18, El Lobo Estepario July 23, La Nave July 24, Teatro Giratablas July 25, Universidad Creativa July 30, Baul Blanco 31 and Casa Teatro August 1.“Buenas noches, idiota!” tour continues every weekend at a different spot until August 1. ₡3,000 – 4,000 ($6 – 8) at 8 p.m.Exhibition: “Costa Rican Idiosyncrasy”Students from Rocio Escobar Photography School present exhibition that shows Tico idiosyncrasy through photographs taken in markets, street trade, traditional festivals and many other places, to present Costa Rican religious, political, familiar, folkloric and even culinary traditions and habits. The exhibit0s opening night is July 9 at 7 p.m.“Idiosincrasia Tica” will be shown from July 9-31 at the National Gallery, San José downtown. Free. 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. More info RedCultura Website  Facebook Comments Related posts:Patriotic tunes, Children’s Day theater, and more events around Costa Rica U.S. Independence Day Concert, ExpoVida 2015 and other happenings around Costa Rica Christmas cheer, oxcart parades, and other happenings around Costa Rica San Ramón celebrates, International Guitar Festival, and other happenings around Costa Ricalast_img read more

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Caja moves forward with raise in social security rate but in two

first_imgRelated posts:Workers’ unions deliver petition to reverse raise in Social Security rate Workers’ unions to demonstrate against raise in Social Security rate Caja Executive President steps down at President Solís’ request Demonstration, arts festival to complicate vehicle traffic in San José on Thursday The Board of Directors of Costa Rica’s Social Security System, orCaja, voted in favor of enforcing a 1 percent raise in the monthly salary deduction of all workers. The measure aims to avoid the bankruptcy of Caja’s Pension System (IVM), the largest in the country.However, in a nod to opponents of the measure, board members agreed that the increase, initially scheduled to begin this month, will instead be phased in. A first 0.5 percent hike will take effect starting July 1 and the other 0.5 percent will kick in on January 1, 2018.The hike means that workers’ monthly salary deduction for the IVM will go from 2.84 to 3.84 percent.The Caja board originally approved the increase in January. Workers’ unions since have opposed the measure, mostly by staging strikes and demonstrating on the streets, demanding alternate solutions for the Caja’s financial woes.Dismissed recommendationsThe Caja submitted its proposal for public consultation in April and called on the population to weigh in on the proposed measures. Four separate counter-proposals arrived, including one that workers’ unions delivered last month during a street demonstration in front of the Caja headquarters in downtown San José.The document demanded that the board reverse its decision to raise the monthly deduction. It also included a series of recommendations to improve income without hurting worker’s salaries.Caja Executive President María del Rocío Sáenz Madrigal said in a news release on Thursday that the institution’s leaders took all those proposals and recommendations into consideration. However, board members still voted in favor of enforcing the hike.Sáenz reiterated that the decision to raise workers’ deductions is part of a series of a recommendations in a study conducted by experts from the University of Costa Rica (UCR).The UCR report is one of various studies that have warned about Caja’s financial problems over the last decade. According to the report, the increase in workers’ deductions is one of the measures deemed urgent in the short term to avoid the collapse of the IVM system.The Caja’s IVM pension system currently receives monthly contributions from just over 1.5 million workers and pays pensions to more than 300,000 retired workers.Unions maintain oppositionShortly after the Caja’s public announcement yesterday, several workers’ unions expressed their total opposition to raising the workers’ deduction to fund the IVM.Leaders of the Caja’s Workers Union, the Rerum Novarum Confederation of Workers and the Costa Rican Union Block met on Thursday evening in order to plan their upcoming actions against the rate hike.They issued a statement calling on all public and private sector workers to join in a national protest “against the Caja’s arbitrary and authoritarian decision.” The Patria Justa Collective Union and the National Association of Public and Private Employees (ANEP), the country’s largest union, supported the call and issued another public response rejecting the board decision.ANEP President Albino Vargas said that “taking to the streets is the only option left.” He even went further and demanded that President Luis Guillermo Solís fire Sáenz, the Caja head.Vargas asked leaders of all the country’s unions to support the protest in order to make the Caja’s board members listen.Other measuresThe Caja Board of Directors expects the increase in workers’ mandatory deductions to provide the agency with an additional ¢100,000 million (some $173 million) a year, which will help guarantee the short-term financial sustainability of the pension system.Board members also are discussing long-term measures, including raising workers’ retirement age from 65 to 70.Discussion on these measures is taking place in meetings with representatives of business chambers, workers unions and government officials. The panel is scheduled to present Caja’s Board of Directors with a final report of their recommendations by July 17. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Peace vigils for Nicaragua continue in Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Protests in Nicaragua renew tensions with Costa Rica Safety fears lead CONCACAF to cancel women’s U17 event in Nicaragua PHOTOS: Nicaraguans in Costa Rica gather to support their country during hard times Dialogue struggles forward, protests continue in Nicaragua Facebook Comments PHOTOS: Nicaraguans in Costa Rica on protests in their home countrycenter_img Nicaraguan residents of Costa Rica, Costa Ricans of Nicaraguan descent, and others concerned aboutrecent events in Managua and beyond have continued to show their support through peace vigils held in downtown San José.This weekend’s gathering took place Saturday at the Plaza de la Democracia.Last week, The Tico Times and community news organization Vecinos Activos explored the western San José neighborhood of La Carpio, Central America’s largest binational community, to speak to residents about their take on the events in Nicaragua. Read the piece here.last_img read more

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Official nuke plant flaws different from 1979

first_imgAssociated PressBRUSSELS (AP) – Cracks in the steel reactor vessels of two nuclear plants in Belgium were found in 1979, three years before they came online, but they are unrelated to possible cracks discovered this summer, a spokeswoman for the country’s nuclear regulatory agency said Thursday.Belgium’s nuclear regulator announced this month that ultrasonic tests showed possible hairline cracks in the vessel housing the reactor at the Doel 3 nuclear plant near Antwerp. The plant was offline for a regular safety check, and it has yet to be determined whether it will ever go online again. 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Last week, Belgian authorities convened a meeting of nuclear experts from countries with similar vessels, including the United States, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the U.K., to share information on the possible cracks detected this summer.The head of the nuclear regulator, Willy De Roovere, said last week it was possible the Doel 3 plant would never come back online. It had been projected to continue operating until 2022.The Tihange 2 plant is still being assessed. Belgium generates more than 50 percent of its electricity from nuclear power.De Morgen reported that it asked De Roovere about the cracks found in 1979, but he said he remembered little of the discovery. During that period, prior to becoming a federal regulator, De Roovere managed the construction and startup of the Doel 3 plant for Electrabel, the energy corporation.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day The Federal Agency for Nuclear Control also ordered the shutdown of the Tihange 2 reactor, 90 kilometers (55 miles) southeast of Brussels, for checks because it had a vessel manufactured by the same company.De Morgen newspaper reported Thursday that its archives showed it had reported that cracks were found in the reactor vessels of both plants 33 years ago. It quoted a 1980 article as saying, “question marks exist over small cracks in the inlet and outlet sections” of the reactor vessels. The paper also quoted a government official as telling the Senate in 1979 that there were possible cracks.Karina De Beule, a spokeswoman for Belgium’s nuclear regulatory agency, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the cracks discovered in 1979 were in a different part of the vessels than the possible cracks found this summer.“They have nothing to do with the problem today,” De Beule said.She said the earlier cracks were taken seriously, and that Electrabel, the energy corporation that runs the plants, as well as Rotterdam Drydock Company, which made the vessels, submitted information showing they posed no risk. That information was evaluated and no risk was found, she said. Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

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Swedish journalist Auschwitz survivor dies at 83

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Edvardson moved to Sweden after the war and started her career in journalism, winning several awards for her work.Svenska Dagbladet said Edvardson died Monday after an undisclosed illness.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 0 Comments   Share   Top Stories center_img Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Check your body, save your life Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help STOCKHOLM (AP) – Cordelia Edvardson, a Holocaust survivor and award-winning Swedish journalist who reported on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for three decades, has died. She was 83.Edvardson was the Jerusalem correspondent for Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet from 1977 to 2006 and later worked as a columnist for the paper.She was born in Munich, Germany, in 1929. Her father was Jewish and though she was raised Catholic, the Nazis regarded her as a Jew and sent her to concentration camps in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. She described her experiences in a 1984 autobiography for which she won the German Geschwister-Scholl literary award. How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

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Guinness recognizes Nepali woman Everest climber

first_img 0 Comments   Share   Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) – A Nepalese woman mountaineer has been recognized by Guinness World Records for climbing Mount Everest twice in the same climbing season.Nepal’s Tourism Minister Posta Bahadur Bogati handed over the certificate issued by Guinness World Records to 29-year-old Chhurim who scaled the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit on May 12, 2012, and again a week later on May 19.Chhurim, who like most Nepalese Sherpas use only one name, said she plans to climb other high peaks in the future. 5 ways to recognize low testosterone 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Sponsored Stories center_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Everest has been climbed by nearly 4,000 climbers but women climbers make only a small portion of that number, according to the Nepal Mountaineering Association.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories last_img read more

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