Uniworld joins Sabre Cruises for direct bookings Share << Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — Uniworld is now accessible through Sabre Cruises, allowing travel agents to directly book Uniworld cruises through the Sabre space for the first time.“We are excited to announce our new partnership with Sabre Cruises,” said Ellen Bettridge, president of Uniworld. “This relationship represents Uniworld’s first direct booking engine for agents and we hope that the third party elimination will ease the booking process.”Sabre agents can now book Uniworld cruises without having to go to a third party website. Agents can also compare different products, or go directly to Uniworld to see offerings and compare pricing and availability within the brand. Tuesday, August 30, 2016 Posted by Tags: Sabre, Uniworld Travelweek Group
Wednesday, December 20, 2017 Tags: Karisma Hotels & Resorts, People, The Travel Agent Next Door CANCUN — Four agents from The Travel Agent Next Door took home a total of six awards at Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ 10th annual Gourmet Inclusive Vacation Consultant (GIVC) awards and Sales & Marketing Forum.The event took place earlier this month at the El Dorado Royale in Cancun.Flemming Friisdahl, Founder of The Travel Agent Next Door said: “We are very proud of our agents who received this recognition at the GIVC Awards. This is an amazing accomplishment by these agents and all of us at The Travel Agent Next Door congratulate them.”This event honors Karisma hotel group’s best producing travel agents for the past year. During this year’s gala, three agents of The Travel Agent Next Door were awarded five awards between them as follows:Cindy Almond, Romance & Foodie TravelDiamond Level 4Top Nickelodeon Wedding ProducerLiana Rowan ,TripCo TravelDiamond Level 3Steph Switzer, Exclusive To You Travel ServicesDiamond Level 3Top 10 Nickelodeon SalesJacenta Hawco, Compass VacationsDiamond Level 3 [People] The Travel Agent Next Door agents win in six categories at Karisma awards Posted by Share Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 Share Posted by Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >> Big Five Tours moves Canadian office to Alberta Tags: Alberta, Big Five Tours & Expeditions, Edmonton STUART, FL – Big Five Tours & Expeditions is on the move, relocating its Canadian registered office to Edmonton effective June 15.The company’s new Canadian address is:Big Five Tours & Expeditions Limited2900, 10180-101 StreetEdmonton, ABT5J 3V5Its phone number will remain the same at (800) 244-3483, as will its business hours (Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST).“Big Five sells through travel agents, not direct, and we have a great working relationship with our Canada retail partners. This move to Alberta does not change the role of our VP sales, Paul Dorgan, to serve our Canada retail partners (East, Central or West) based out of Toronto,” said Ashish Sanghrajka, president of Big Five.
Travelweek Group Share Third generation of Enterprise’s founding family comes up through leadership ranks Tuesday, December 11, 2018 Posted by Tags: Enterprise Holdings, Promotions ST. LOUIS — The world’s largest car rental company, Enterprise Holdings Inc., has announced the promotion of Christine Taylor to President and Chief Operating Officer.The move makes the senior executive – along with Carolyn Kindle Betz, promoted to President of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation – among the highest-ranking women in the global car rental, automotive and travel industries. The promotions also mark another milestone for the rising third generation of family ownership of the company, which owns the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands.Jack Taylor founded the company in 1957 with only seven vehicles, later naming it after the World War II aircraft carrier he served on, the USS Enterprise. These days, with annual revenues of $24.1 billion and 100,000 employees, Enterprise Holdings and its affiliates own two million cars and trucks and operates – through an international network of regional subsidiaries and independent franchises – more than 10,000 fully staffed neighborhood and airport locations in more than 90 countries throughout the world.“It’s fitting that these two talented women – granddaughters of our company’s founder, Jack Taylor – are moving up together as members of our senior leadership team,” said CEO Pam Nicholson. “Under Chrissy’s guidance, Enterprise has continued year after year to deliver record-breaking growth and business performance, while staying true to the values of customer service and workplace excellence that Jack instilled in our company. Concurrently, Carolyn has continued to play a key role in developing our philanthropic strategies and ensuring that we are an engaged and responsible corporate citizen in the communities where we do business.”Taylor previously was the company’s Executive Vice President and COO, a position she assumed in 2016. In her new role she will direct the company’s global business operations and oversee its product development and technology innovation efforts. She will continue to serve as a member of the corporate board of Enterprise Holdings Inc. and will report to Nicholson. Kindle Betz meanwhile was previously Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, which contributed more than $50 million in charitable gifts to a wide variety of nonprofit causes in the company’s most recent fiscal year. As President, she will develop and oversee execution of the Foundation’s philanthropic strategies. “These are both enthusiastic, energetic leaders,” says Nicholson. “When you look at Chrissy’s competitive drive and passion for innovation and Carolyn’s strong commitment to help our company make a difference in the world, you see the brand of leadership that will take Enterprise to the next level. And you see, as well, living proof that strong family ownership is a powerful competitive edge. Enterprise’s future is in very good hands.” << Previous PostNext Post >>
Posted by Garuda Indonesia seeks to cancel order for 49 Boeing Max 8s << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Friday, March 22, 2019 Travelweek Group JAKARTA — Indonesia’s flag carrier is seeking the cancellation of a multibillion dollar order for 49 of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 jets, citing a loss of confidence after two crashes in the past six months.It is the first announcement of a cancellation since Boeing’s new model aircraft were grounded following fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.PT Garuda Indonesia, which had ordered 50 Max 8 jets in 2014 and had received just one plane last year, has sent a letter to Boeing last week requesting to cancel the order worth US$4.9 billion, the company’s spokesman Ikhsan Rosan said Friday. The carrier has so far paid Boeing about $26 million for the order.“Passengers always ask what type of plane they will fly as they have lost trust and confidence in the Max 8 jet. This would harm our business,” said Rosan.“We don’t want to use Max jets … but maybe will consider switching it with another Boeing model of plane,” Rosan said. He said Indonesian passengers are afraid to take flights using any Max model, whether it’s the 8, 9 or 10 series.A preliminary report from Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee in December stopped short of declaring a probable cause of the Oct. 29 crash.Officials have provided scant details since then, saying they are still analyzing data from a cockpit voice recorder that was only recovered from the sea in January.Meanwhile, in Europe, Polish national carrier PLL LOT said it was considering asking for financial compensation from Boeing or even a delay to deliveries of purchased 737 Max 8 aircraft after the planes were grounded globally following the crash in Ethiopia.In a statement Friday, LOT said it would wait for communications from Boeing and flight regulators on whether to put the Max 8 planes back into service. LOT has five 737 Max 8 planes and is to receive nine more this year. Its total fleet counts over 80 aircraft.More news: Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youthAnother Polish carrier, charter airline EnterAir, said Friday it would also seek damages. It has two Max 8 planes and has placed orders for another four.Earlier this month, Norwegian Air Shuttles said it would seek compensation from Boeing. It had grounded its 18 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.The news comes on the heels of revelations that Air Canada and WestJet have at least one of the optional safety features on their Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft that were reportedly lacking on the jets that crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia.Air Canada and WestJet Airlines both say they purchased disagree lights used by the aircraft’s software system during flight to avert stalls.The New York Times has reported the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air jets involved in recent fatal crashes were not equipped with angle of attack indicators and disagree lights.The safety features are not standard on the aircraft and are offered by Boeing as upgrades.Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur said the country’s largest airline purchased both safety features for its fleet of 24 Max 8 planes.WestJet spokeswoman Morgan Bell said the Calgary-based airline’s 13 Max 8 planes are not configured with the angle of attack indicators.She said the disagree light was purchased so the new aircraft will have common configurations with its Boeing 737 NG fleet.Neither airline would disclose the cost of purchasing these options.More news: Can you guess the one and only hotel company to rank on Indeed’s Top Workplaces in Canada list?Norwegian Air, which is preparing to launch Canadian service to Europe on March 31, says it hasn’t added the optional extra because it is “not a critical safety feature nor is it a requirement by any aviation authority.”“We are in close dialogue with Boeing and follow their and the aviation authorities’ instructions and recommendations, we immediately implement all safety recommendations as required,” stated acting chief operating officer Tomas Hesthammer.The low-cost carrier said it is working on using other aircraft to cover the route but said it is too early to tell how the grounding of the Boeing planes will impact its operations in the coming months.The safety indicators help pilots detect any erroneous readings from two vanelike sensors that determine the position of the plane’s nose relative to oncoming air.The angle of attack indicator displays the readings of the two sensors while the disagree light is activated if the sensors don’t provide the same information, the U.S. daily said.The MCAS system can automatically push the plane’s nose down to prevent stalling if it determines it is pointing up at a dangerous level.The New York Times also said, citing unnamed sources, that Boeing will soon update the MCAS software and make the disagree light standard on all new 737 Max planes, but maintain the angle of attack indicator as an option.Boeing is reportedly rushing to complete the upgrades on jets by early next week.With files from The Canadian Press Tags: 737, boeing, Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia
Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) on Wednesday morning arrested 70 people suspected of fraudulently obtaining driver’s licenses. The arrests took place during several raids conducted simultaneously across the country.Agents also arrested two officials from the Driver’s License Department and two “gavilanes,” or people who help facilitate the process.At 10:30 a.m., OIJ officers raided a private doctor’s practice located just two blocks from the Roadway Safety Council in La Uruca, where physicals allegedly were been sold.In the afternoon, Chief Public Defender Marta Iris Muñoz said the “mass arrests by OIJ agents this morning violate human rights.”She said the defendants were being held in a single room in a San José court detention center. “The room is overcrowded, this is outrageous,” she told the daily La Nación.Muñoz also alleged that OIJ officers did not allow public defenders to meet with those who were arrested.According to the a report issued by the Prosecutor’s Office, a total of 95 suspects have been identified as allegedly participating in the scheme. Facebook Comments Related posts:Prosecutor’s office releases most detainees arrested in alleged driver’s license fraud scheme Foreigners can pay for driver’s license directly at Roadway Safety Council offices No more mandatory email registration for drivers, Constitutional Chamber rules Costa Rican transit officials say higher fines in 2015 will help reduce roadway accidents
Costa Rica has topped the charts for Traveler’s Choice 2013 on both TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet sites.Of the Top 10 Beaches in Central America on TripAdvisor, Costa Rica snagged eight spots, including No. 1, with Manuel Antonio National Park on the central Pacific coast. Samara Beach, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, followed at the No. 2 spot, and Nosara Beach came in at No. 4, also in Guanacaste.Other contenders on the Top 10 list for TripAdvisor’s site include Playa Santa Teresa on the southern Nicoya Peninsula, Playa Avellanas, Playa Conchal and Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste, and Puerto Viejo in Limón, on the southern Caribbean coast.The two top Central American beaches outside of Costa Rica are Playa Blanca in Livingston, Guatemala, and West Bay Beach in West Bay, Honduras.Lonely Planet ranked Top Destinations generally but also listed top countries in various categories, and Costa Rica appeared numerous times. The country took the No. 1 spot (out of 10) for the best “Nature” country, thanks to the varied animals, forests, jungles, volcanoes and tropical coastlines.The country also received high praise for the “Adventure” category, securing the No. 2 spot (out of 10). Costa Rica took No. 10 out of 10 for “meeting other travelers.”On Lonely Planet’s list of Top 20 Destinations, Costa Rica ranked at No. 9. Bhutan, in South Asia, took No. 1. Facebook Comments No related posts.
The organization has helped create some of Afghanistan’s first “protected areas” — places of particular biological importance, where the environment remains pristine. In Bamiyan province, one of them now draws thousands of domestic tourists every year. In the Wakhan, biologists say, hundreds of square miles of nearly unpopulated grassland present another opportunity to preserve something wholly unique in Afghanistan. Already, one protected area there has been formalized.“Wakhan is well worth protecting for the sake of Afghanistan’s natural and cultural heritage,” Simms said.The last time conservation was discussed in the Wakhan was in the 1970s, when King Zahir Shah opened a luxury hunting lodge for Western visitors. Now, posters of Afghanistan plastered in embassies abroad bear the photos of the new parks, unspoiled wilderness that the country is eager to promote.Zahir Shah’s grandson, Mustafa Zahir, is now the head of the country’s nascent National Environmental Protection Agency, overseeing conservation efforts.“There’s no place in the world like this,” he said on a recent visit to the Wakhan.But the future of Afghanistan’s protected areas is as uncertain as the country’s fragile political or security situation, and the work of conservationists is still incomplete. Snow leopard pelts can still be easily purchased in downtown Kabul. Last year, a border police commander stole a wild Marco Polo sheep from the Wakhan and tied him to a tree in his front yard.Karmal knows all about the challenges facing his own job and the cause he’s come to champion. But he’s still proud of what he’s done, tracing the footsteps of the species he knows well.“It’s important work,” he said. “This is a population that matters to us, and to everyone.”© 2013, The Washington Post Facebook Comments With fighting still heated a year before U.S. forces are due to withdraw from Afghanistan, wildlife conservation is no doubt a peripheral concern to most U.S. and Afghan officials. But in addition to its scientific importance, the effort is at the forefront of concerns here in the Wakhan, where the Taliban is nonexistent. The preservation campaign is a source of jobs, pride and occasionally, conflict.If the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the only source of Western funds in much of the Wakhan, loses financial support as the war winds down, dozens of wildlife rangers will lose their jobs. If hunters again prevail over conservationists, the trickle of foreign tourists could abruptly dry up.With the U.S. Congress due to determine its financial pledge to Afghanistan this fall, the future of the wildlife effort remains uncertain. Karmal knows that this summer could be his last time hunting snow leopards without a gun.He says he won’t return to shooting the animals — that the notion of conservation resonates with him. But other residents of the Wakhan don’t share his commitment. Environmental protection, they say, often feels like an imposition on a traditional way of life.Last year, a snow leopard leapt into Hassan Beg’s corral and slaughtered 12 of his sheep — a massive blow to his family’s livelihood in a place that measures wealth in livestock. He wanted to shoot the animal, to save his sheep. Fifteen years ago, that’s what he would have done.“But now, I knew I’d be arrested. I knew the conservation people wouldn’t allow it,” Beg said.He isn’t the only one conflicted about the rare animals. In the village of Qal-a-Panja, many residents complain about snow leopard attacks. Jama Gul lost six sheep and four goats. Faizal lost three sheep and a goat.The men say they value the corridor’s snow leopards, but in a place where survival can be difficult, they’re entitled to do what’s necessary to keep their animals alive. Residents sometimes clash with the newly initiated Afghan conservationists, as they did in a recent meeting.“Wildlife Conservation Society is helping the snow leopards survive, but they’re very dangerous. They’re killing our animals,” Faizal said.“They are killing your animals because for decades you hunted all of their prey. They have nothing else to eat,” responded Hafizullah Noori, a research assistant with the conservation society.The split between the two groups exists in some form wherever the WCS has worked in Afghanistan. But the biologists say it’s typically not a big problem.“We see a bit of this, but really, looking across the six years I’ve been in Wakhan, it’s insignificant and on the whole there’s very good support for conservation,” said Anthony Simms, a technical adviser for the conservation society. “This can be demonstrated by the fact, for example, that there’s virtually no hunting these days.”WCS has done research showing that snow leopard attacks account for less than 0.1 percent of yearly livestock losses in Wakhan. No related posts. The Wakhan is located in the extreme northeast of Afghanistan, in Badakshan Province. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons WAKHAN, Afghanistan — Two decades after he first aimed his rifle at one of the world’s rarest mammals, Karmal was again on the hunt for the elusive snow leopard.Stalking through the mountains of northeastern Afghanistan, he was getting closer. There were paw prints in the sand and scratch marks on the limestone boulders, signs that the leopard was marking its territory. Karmal knew it could be anywhere, peering down at him from an unseen bluff. He moved quietly.But this time, Karmal wasn’t carrying a gun. He held a metal snare that he would use to trap the animal. He was working for an environmental conservation organization attempting to better understand one of the most vulnerable species in the world. After Karmal caught the animal, it would be tagged with a GPS collar and tracked as it traversed Afghanistan’s hinterlands.When the Taliban was toppled nearly 12 years ago and U.S. forces surged into Afghanistan, a small number of biologists saw an opportunity on the margins of the war effort. The country’s far reaches had barely been examined and were thought to contain some of the world’s least understood species. But studying them would require complex, and sometimes tense, negotiations with some of the world’s most isolated people.“It was like a black box,” said biologist Christopher Shank, who worked in Afghanistan in the 1970s and returned after the fall of the Taliban.When they arrived in the Wakhan corridor, scientists learned that local hunters had targeted snow leopard, ibex and Marco Polo sheep populations. The foreign experts met men like Karmal, who killed the animals for their pelts, for food or simply for sport.But when the scientists set up motion-sensor cameras to gauge what kinds of animals remained, they were shocked. Persian leopards still lurked in the mountains of central Afghanistan, a fact no biologist had surmised. Snow leopards had endured in the Wakhan, possibly becoming one of world’s most vital populations of the species.The biologists received funding from the U.S. government to set up small camps in the remote corridor and to hire wildlife rangers who would help monitor and protect the species of the Wakhan. That’s how Karmal ended up hunting snow leopards with a GPS collar instead of a gun.“It still feels strange sometimes,” said Karmal, who uses one name, like many Afghans. “But it’s my job, and I like it.” When the Taliban was toppled nearly 12 years ago and U.S. forces surged into Afghanistan, a small number of biologists saw an opportunity on the margins of the war effort. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
MANAGUA, Nicaragua – President Daniel Ortega on Monday warned Costa Rica for a second time that Nicaragua may ask the International Court of Justice to “restore” Guanacaste, a province he said “Nicaragua lost to Costa Rica’s expansionist politics back in 1824.”Ortega was referring to the northwestern province which is about 20 percent of neighboring Costa Rica’s territory and a popular tourism hub.“Costa Rica did not win that territory in an international court, but rather by force, with arms,” Ortega said at a military ceremony. “Nicaragua has been ousted from its territory by expansionist policies of nations such as Costa Rica,” he added.He also said he would like the opportunity to discuss the return of the “occupied” province, an idea that has been rejected by Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla.On Tuesday Costa Rica’s Foreign Vice Minister Gioconda Úbeda told media at Casa Presidencial that if Ortega’s proposal to discuss ongoing border disputes is sincere, he should formally present it through appropriate diplomatic channels because, so far, they have only heard about them through the media.“We’re willing to discuss about current disputes filed before the ICJ [world court], … we’re willing to discuss about Isla Calero [a small territory next to the bordering Río San Juan] as long as Nicaragua acknowledges that it is Costa Rican territory and as long as they comply with all rulings set by the ICJ,” she stated.On Aug. 13, also at a military event, Ortega gave a speech saying “given the fact that this issue [of Guanacaste] has not been debated in the [world] court, we could consider taking the case to the ‘ICJ’ [the court] and it could permit Nicaragua to recover that territory.”Regarding Ortega’s statements on Monday, Úbeda said Costa Rica has nothing to discuss on that matter “as it was solved over a century and a half ago, in the border treaty. … We will not discuss it, but if he [Ortega] decides to take it to the ICJ jurisdiction, as he’s getting used to, he will have to comply with international law procedures. That’s the way an unarmed nation like Costa Rica solve disputes,” she added, ruling out sending a written protest to Managua, as Costa Rica did following the first time he mentioned the issue.After Ortega’s first threat, Chinchilla led a march to protest Ortega’s comments on Guanacaste. The president of the Legislative Assembly, Fernando Mendoza, a lawmaker for the ruling National Liberation Party from Guanacaste, addressed the crowd that day, saying Guanacaste residents would defend their sovereignty “with kicks and punches.” Facebook Comments No related posts.
Officials from the Justice Ministry’s prison system this week began enforcing a ruling by San José Judge Roy Murillo to relocate 370 inmates from San Sebastian Preventive Prison, south of the capital, to other prisons.Murillo’s deadline for the transfer expires on Thursday. Since Monday, ministry officials have moved 92 prisoners.Murillo ordered the transfers on Sept. 24 because San Sebastian was established to house inmates serving preventive detention while awaiting trial or sentencing. Currently, it has the country’s highest rate of overcrowding, with 1,247 prisoners – 70 percent over its official capacity.Saying that “overcrowding is unlawful and contrary to human dignity,” the judge said that if no other prisons had room, prisoners closest to completing their sentences or serving short sentences for minor offences should be released or relocated to temporary release programs, meaning they spend nights in jail as long as they can prove they have a permanent address and a job.Justice Ministry officials said the 92 inmates were relocated to other prisons, and no one has yet been released.Murillo’s ruling sparked controversy at Costa Rica’s Supreme Court. The president of the Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala III, Justice Carlos Chinchilla, said Murillo has no authority to issue such an order and asked his peers to evaluate the ruling.The request provoked a reaction from unions of the judicial branch who demonstrated “in defense of judicial independence.” On Oct. 14 the Supreme Court dismissed further discussion of Murillo’s ruling.Murillo warned he would file charges at the Prosecutor’s Office against all officials involved if his order was ignored. Facebook Comments No related posts.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Jorge Lischetti applied to purchase dollars from the government the day Argentina eased controls. He stashed the $300 he was allowed to buy in January in his Buenos Aires home and did the same on the first day of February.Argentines such as Lischetti, a legal adviser, are contributing to a drop in the country’s international reserves by refusing to deposit the dollars they purchase in local banks. More than 12 years after Argentina restricted withdrawals and converted dollar savings into pesos amid an economic crisis that led to a $95 billion default, 91 percent of those who qualify to buy foreign currency from the government are paying a 20 percent surcharge to keep the cash.“History in Argentina is scary enough to make you want to keep your money out of the bank,” Lischetti, 24, said in an interview in the capital.Argentines have applied to buy and take home $215 million since President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner opened up dollar purchases Jan. 27, exacerbating a plunge in reserves already at a seven-year low. Argentina’s 19 percent devaluation last month and the easing of currency controls reflect Fernandez’s efforts to cool black market trading, where the peso is 36 percent cheaper than the official rate.The country’s bond yields and the cost to insure its debt against default are near a four-month high on speculation she won’t be able to stem the hemorrhaging of dollars. Reserves fell 35 percent to $27.8 billion in the 12 months to Feb. 3, according to the central bank.The tax agency has received 463,327 requests to buy foreign currency since the government allowed the wealthiest Argentines to purchase dollars for savings at the official exchange rate for the first time in 18 months. Of that total, 423,645 have chosen to pay a 20 percent tax to take the greenbacks in cash, according to data from Afip, the tax agency.“In a context of uncertainty such as this one, Argentines who have lived through hyperinflation and numerous mega- devaluations, they want to keep their dollars,” said Belén Olaiz, an analyst at Buenos Aires research company abeceb.com.In the 2001 financial crisis, Argentina froze savings accounts to stop a run on bank deposits, a measure dubbed the “corralito.” Early the next year, the government forced banks to convert dollar-denominated deposits into pesos, which slashed savings to a fourth of their value.Argentines have an estimated $160 billion of undeclared funds held abroad or stashed at home, according to the government. The Federal Reserve estimated in a 2006 report that Argentina, which the CIA says is the world’s 33rd-most populous nation, had at least $50 billion in U.S. cash – about one of every nine dollars then circulating abroad.While some Argentines hide their dollars to evade government scrutiny, others are contributing to the erosion of the country’s reserves by spending abroad.Juan Pablo Las Heras, 32, a manager at an agriculture company, said he was buying $300 at a local branch of Madrid- based Banco Santander SA in downtown Buenos Aires to spend on a holiday abroad. He said he planned to deposit the money in his dollar account and withdraw it once on vacation.“I’m buying here because it’s cheaper than buying on the black market,” Las Heras said.The loosening of currency controls after Fernández banned most dollar purchases in October 2011 also means Argentines are able to turn a quick 30 percent profit in pesos by trading the dollars in the illegal currency market, according to Olaiz.The peso trades at 7.8777 per dollar in the official market and at about 12.40 per dollar on the streets of Buenos Aires. The implied rate for purchasing dollars is about 9.46 pesos after accounting for the tax to keep the money in cash.Five black-market traders interviewed on Florida street in downtown Buenos Aires say they haven’t seen any signs customers are doing that.“Everything’s pretty much the same since the measure,” said Alejandro Gómez, 34, an international commerce student who’s been a trader in the black market for six months. “Argentines are probably waiting for a higher rate or taking the dollars for savings. If you’re earning enough to qualify to buy, why would you want pesos? They’re not worth anything.”Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich on Jan. 26 criticized savers who hoard dollars.“It’s very selfish to stash money under the mattress when you could buy a government security,” he said in an interview on the C5N television network.In the latest effort to prop up reserves and attract investors to peso assets, policy makers raised interest rates and pledged the peso will stabilize at around 8 per dollar.Still, the interest rates don’t compensate for estimated 28 percent inflation and non-deliverable forwards show traders betting the peso will weaken to 11.7 per dollar over the next year.“People don’t know if we’re in the middle of a crisis and if these dollars will be worth a lot more in the future or there will be another devaluation,” Olaiz said.© 2013, Bloomberg News Facebook Comments Related posts:US dollar trades at highest level in three years Argentina central bank president quits under pressure from Macri Latin America’s populist collapse cheered with foreign inflows Argentina to borrow $15 billion to pay creditors
LOS ANGELES,United States — The U.S. Coast Guard said it seized $181 million worth of cocaine from a submarine-like vessel in the eastern Pacific Ocean, but even more drugs sank during the recent bust.The Coast Guard seized 12,000 pounds (5,400 kilograms) of cocaine from four smugglers on a semi-submersible ship, the agency said Wednesday.The vessel, which was first spotted about 200 miles (320 kilometers) south of Mexico off the coast of Central America, was carrying a total of 16,000 pounds of narcotics, but as the ship was being towed, it took on water and sank. Some 4,000 pounds of narcotics were lost in the process.The seizure, which took place on July 18, was the “largest recorded semi-submersible interdiction in Coast Guard history,” according to the agency.The 40-foot (12-meter) vessel was deemed “unrecoverable” after it sank.The Coast Guard said there have been 25 known interdictions of semi-submersible vessels in the eastern Pacific Ocean since November 2006.“Every interception of these semi-submersibles disrupts transnational organized crime networks and helps increase security and stability in the Western Hemisphere,” Vice Admiral Charles W. Ray, commander of the Pacific area, said in a statement.Semi-submersible ships are designed for drug trafficking, and because they are mostly submerged — often with only a cockpit and exhaust pipe visible above water — they are particularly difficult to detect and interdict, the Coast Guard said. Facebook Comments Related posts:New Generation cartel is Mexico’s latest menace Colombia to stop spraying Roundup on coca fields 3 tons of cocaine seized in major Spain drug bust Waging peace in Colombia
Governor Graco Ramírez ordered the State Security Commission to take charge charge of police in 15 municipalities of Morelos state, including the capital, Cuernavaca, and Temixco, where the slain mayor served.Gisela Mota, 33, a left-of-center former member of Congress, was gunned down on Saturday, barely 24 hours after taking her oath of office in Temixco, which is about 90 kilometers south of Mexico City.Two suspected gunmen were killed and three were detained, including a minor.The state of Morelos has been plagued by drug cartel violence as well as kidnappings and extortion.Mota had vowed to clean up crime when she took office. The governor said she had agreed to back a “single command” coordination scheme that groups state and municipal police.Her murder “is a message and a clear threat for the mayors who recently took office to not accept the police coordination scheme that we have supported and that is being built at a national level,” Ramírez told a news conference.Morelos has around 30 municipalities and about half have not ratified the single command.The governor, who attended Mota’s funeral, declared three days of mourning in the state and ordered flags to be flown at half-staff.Ramírez has clashed with the new mayor of Cuernavaca, former Mexico football star Cuauhtemoc Blanco, over the single command.Blanco has decided to suspend the scheme, saying crime has risen despite its existence and proposing to beef up the municipal force instead.Several mayors have been murdered in Mexico in recent years amid a bloody drug war that has cost tens of thousands of lives in the past decade. Related posts:‘El Chapo’ is Mexico’s hit Halloween costume Villagers recall fear as troops fired in ‘El Chapo’ raid Mexico’s top court opens door to recreational pot use Slain Mexico mayor sacrificed herself to save family CUERNAVACA, Mexico — A central Mexico state took over police command in several towns on Sunday after a mayor was assassinated, a crime described as a gang threat to other mayors. Facebook Comments
Ginger beer in the making. (Courtesy of Laura Killingbeck)Fermentation—what’s happening?As the yeast from your yeast garden mingle with your ginger beer, it consumes sugar and water in the solution and transforms it into carbon dioxide, organic acids, and a small amount of alcohol. This transformational process by microorganisms is fermentation.The natural production of carbon dioxide, when trapped in the confines of a soda bottle, builds up inside the bottle and carbonates it. Be careful, though — if you let the bottle ferment too long, the carbon dioxide will cause it to explode! Ginger beer is delicious, but it has a dangerous edge. Use caution and common sense.As fermentation progresses over time, a small amount of alcohol is created in your bottle. Within the 1-3 day period, this level is so small that the beverage is considered a soda or soft drink—it is “non-alcoholic.” But if you continue to let the mixture ferment for longer (releasing pressure periodically in the bottle so it doesn’t explode), alcohol levels will build up and you will have a true Ginger “Beer” that can become substantially alcoholic.Homemade ginger beer is healthy because it’s made from real ingredients: fresh ginger and unrefined cane sugar. Ginger has long been used medicinally to reduce nausea, improve digestion, and combat common illnesses like the flu. Ginger beer also contains beneficial probiotic microbes which improve digestion and help regulate the immune system.To learn how to make ginger beer with Laura, register for her annual Fermentation Class or schedule a workshop through Rancho Mastatal.Laura is the Director of Food Systems and Fermentation at Rancho Mastatal Sustainability Education Center. The Ranch is a community and education center near Puriscal, Costa Rica, that hosts residential workshops in food, permaculture, natural building, and more. Laura co-manages the Ranch facilities and programs, teaches fermentation workshops, and writes about the intersection between food, body, and place. To take a class with Laura or visit the Ranch, please see www.ranchomastatal.com. Facebook Comments Recommended: Shaping Costa Rica’s food culture with tourismOver the last seven years of testing out tropical food species at Costa Rica’s Rancho Mastatal, we found that some plants that grow well here are not palatable to certain individuals or groups of people. Okra grows like a weed, but we have a hard time getting visitors to appreciate its mucilogenous consistency. Our jackfruit trees produce hundreds of pounds of fruit, but many of our neighbors find them too sweet to eat. Native palms like flor de itabo (Yucca gigantea) are local favorites, but taste bitter and unfamiliar to guests.One of our challenges is to find plants that grow well in the place where we live that are also culturally acceptable, and then adapt recipes and methods of preparation that synchronize all the factors into something delicious.There are always solutions. Okra can be fried in palm oil, thus eliminating its slime. Even if jackfruit is too sweet straight up, everyone loves it mixed with milk and frozen into ice cream! And once guests see flor de itabo in bloom, they are generally pretty excited to eat its slightly bitter yet delicate and nutritious flowers.But if there is a single food that “wows” just about everyone who tries it, all the time, no matter what, and is made from one hundred percent local ingredients, it’s got to be ginger beer.Spicy and sweet, bubbly and probiotic, medicinal but delicious, ginger beer is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a soda that’s good for you!Ginger beer is a fermented soda made with indigenous microorganisms. It’s brewed in a two-part process, beginning first with the cultivation of your own yeast garden (sometimes referred to as a “Ginger Bug”), and second, mixing the yeast garden with ginger, water, and sugar, and letting it ferment.It’s easy, good for you, everybody likes it, and now you can make it!Step 1: Make a Wild Yeast Garden (the “Ginger Bug”)Ingredients:1 cup water2 teaspoons tapa de dulce syrup (to make the syrup melt 1 lb tapa de dulce in 1 cup hot water, then cool)2 teaspoons grated gingerSmall glass jar with cloth to coverDirections:Mix all ingredients in a glass jar, stir, and cover tightly with a cloth. This allows for free air circulation while keeping out insects. Keep the jar in a dark, warm place.Every other day add another two teaspoons tapa de dulce syrup and two teaspoons grated ginger. Don’t worry too much about exact amounts—I usually add a dollup of syrup and a few pinches of ginger. Stir daily.In two to six days in tropical weather, wild yeast will begin to grow in your yeast garden. They will consume the sugar, ginger, and water, and reproduce quickly with the abundance of oxygen. As they become more active, the top of the water will look a little frothy and will smell like fresh, yeasty fermentation.Once you see bubbles, a little froth, and smell yeast, the culture is active and ready to use in step two to brew the ginger beer.Step 2: Brew the Ginger Beer (yields 2 liters)Ingredients: 1 cup or more grated ginger root1 cup tapa de dulce syrupJuice of 1 lemonWater½-1 cup active Yeast Garden1 2-liter soda bottle with capDirections:Fill the soda bottle about 3/4 of the way with water.Add the tapa de dulce syrup and lemon juice.Pour your Yeast Garden through a mesh strainer to remove pieces of ginger. Pour the liquid from your Yeast Garden into the soda bottle.Squeeze the grated ginger tightly in your hands over a bowl and reserve the juice.* Add the juice to the soda bottle. You should use 3-6 tablespoons of ginger juice per 2-liter bottle, depending on how spicy you like your ginger beer.Make sure there is at least 3 inches of air space in the soda bottle. Cap it tightly and store it in a dark place at room temperature.Let the mixture ferment for 1-3 days, or until the bottle is firm to the touch. When the bottle is firm, carefully release excess pressure by loosening the cap, then chill and serve.*The squeezed ginger pulp can be set aside for making tea or adding to other recipes. Related posts:Shaping Costa Rica’s food culture with tourism The gluten-free movement is ruining the world’s love for pasta Cassava: tropical staple, drought-friendly… cancer-busting? Seaweed can help feed the world. But will we eat it? Recipe
New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Sponsored Stories Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Bayldon set a previous record for highest musical performance in 2005, performing near the base camp of Everest. But that record was broken two years later.Guinness World Records credits Musikkapelle Roggenzell, 10 musicians from Germany and Bolivia, who scaled Mount Acotango in Bolivia to perform at 6,069 meters (19,911 feet).Guiness is awaiting the evidence before verifying if the new performance set a new record.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) “My fingers were freezing. It was difficult to play the guitar after a few minutes, but I kept playing,” group leader Oz Bayldon said in the capital, Katmandu, on Thursday. “I felt like a 90-year-old with asthma.”Only eight of the 10 volunteers from various countries reached the top, while the two with altitude sickness did not. Local porters helped carry their three guitars, small amplifier fitted with speakers, microphones and a stand. The musicians took turns performing May 16“The view was beautiful in the backdrop of some of the tallest and most beautiful mountains. It was like some one had painted it and put it there,” Bayldon said.He sang and played three of the English songs he wrote and one Nepali “mero naam, tero naam,” which just means your name, my name.Frenchman J.B. Tilon, 25, said he was very tired on the way up and did not feel too well. But once he got to the top and saw the view he was full of energy.“It was the most beautiful landscape I have even seen. It was being above the clouds,” he said, adding it was very cold and dry so he was able to play only for five minutes and only one French song.Bayldon, an Australian living in London, said the group raised 35,000 pounds ($54,300) for a charity in Nepal that is building an orphanage. Other performers are from England, Scotland, Poland and Denmark. Associated PressKATMANDU, Nepal (AP) – Their fingers were stiff from the cold, and two musicians got altitude sickness. But the music atop a Himalayan peak in Nepal was inspired by a sensational view as the group laid claim to the record for highest musical performance.They even had an audience _ 15 other trekkers paid $10 each to watch the musicians perform for 40 minutes at the summit of 6,654-meter (21,825-foot) high Mera Peak, which is close to Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse. Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Comments Share Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk
Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Gross and his visitors lit candles, prayed and had foods associated with the holiday including latkes and chocolate coins. They also discussed a letter he sent this week urging President Barack Obama to personally work for his release and saying he fears his country has abandoned him.“During the encounter we could see that he was in better spirits, more physically recovered,” the temple’s statement said.Gross, 64, says he has lost about 100 pounds in detention, suffers from arthritis and is allowed to leave the small cell he shares with two other inmates for just one hour a day. He said in his letter that but for occasional visitors and phone calls, he feels “completely isolated from the outside world.”Gross was detained Dec. 3, 2009, after he was caught importing and installing restricted communications equipment under a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Such programs aim to promote democracy in the Communist-run country, and Cuba considers them an affront to its sovereignty.Gross testified at his two-day trial that he was no threat to Cuba and was only trying to improve the Jewish community’s Internet access.He was convicted of crimes against the state and sentenced to 15 years. (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Gross’ imprisonment has been a major sticking point between longtime Cold War foes Washington and Havana.Cuba says it wants to negotiate the fate of both Gross and four of its intelligence agents serving long prison sentences in the United States.The U.S. State Department called on Cuba this week to free Gross “immediately and unconditionally.”___Peter Orsi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Peter_Orsi Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies HAVANA (AP) – Cuban Jewish leaders said Friday that they celebrated Hanukkah with imprisoned U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross this week, two days after he marked four years in custody.A statement from Beth Shalom Temple said community president Adela Dworin and vice president David Prinstein met with the Maryland man for two hours on Thursday, the last day of Hanukkah, as they have done on other Jewish holidays. Top Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Sponsored Stories 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober How do cataracts affect your vision?
Sponsored Stories Top Stories He joined Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., the top Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources, in calling on the department to redouble efforts to stem waste, rather than give “drilling companies a pass to let millions of taxpayer dollars evaporate into thin air.”Companies that drill for natural gas pay the federal government a royalty on the gas they extract; they are also allowed to burn or release publicly-owned gas from wells in certain amounts for free.But GAO said BLM was underestimating the amount of gas vented and flared and failing to collect royalties for that gas. Based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the GAO calculated in 2010 that the government was losing at least $23 million annually in lost sales, an amount that environmental groups say has since grown due to increased drilling activity.Much of the vented gas is methane, a greenhouse gas roughly 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Using EPA estimates, the GAO concluded that capturing the vented gas would be the equivalent of removing 3.1 million cars from the road or closing four average-sized coal-fired power plants.Pieter Tans, lead scientist of the Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said methane is an important contributor to global warming, but that carbon dioxide emissions remained the no. 1 target. “It’s more easy to do something about methane than it is to do something about CO2,” he said. ___AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.___Follow Hope Yen on Twitter, http://twitter.com/hopeyen1Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Four benefits of having a wireless security system The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 0 Comments Share The report also found that BLM repeatedly failed to meet annual inspection goals for high-risk wells. In 2013, for example, it did not complete production inspections on 19 percent of the wells it considered at high risk, GAO said.The Interior Department generally concurred with the GAO’s findings, saying it had taken steps to improve its data on the venting and flaring and would update its rules. It generally pointed to a lack of funding for delays and noted that President Barack Obama had requested more money in his budget for inspections, in part by collecting fees from oil and gas companies. “This authority would provide much needed resources to support BLM’s cradle to grave responsibilities for wells,” wrote David Haines, deputy assistant secretary for the Interior Department.In a statement Wednesday, the department emphasized that it recognized its responsibility to recover lost taxpayer revenue and protect the environment. “That’s why we’re updating our decades-old standards to encourage the kind of infrastructure and technology that many companies operating in the Bakken and Permian basins have demonstrated can reduce harmful emissions and capture the natural gas,” said spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement WASHINGTON (AP) — Significant amounts of natural gas on federal lands are being wasted, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year and adding to harmful greenhouse gas emissions, a congressional investigation has found.The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office also said the Bureau of Land Management failed to conduct production inspections for hundreds of high-priority oil and gas wells — roughly 1 out of 5 — to ensure full payment of royalties to the U.S. The report, obtained by The Associated Press before its public release, is the latest to highlight substantial gaps in oversight. An AP review of government records last May found the agency, which manages oil and gas development on federal and Indian lands, had been overwhelmed by a boom in a new drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.The GAO report said it had been urging BLM, an agency of the Interior Department, to update guidelines for the burning or venting of natural gas since at least 2010, when it found 40 percent of it could be captured economically and sold. BLM has yet to do so, although agency officials now say they are in the process of putting together various orders and a proposed rule for comment later this year.Until then, government investigators called BLM’s management of oil and gas “high-risk” for waste and fraud.“The Interior Department has known for at least a decade that companies have been wasting natural gas from oil and gas wells on public lands,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. “Venting and flaring natural gas from these wells hurts the environment and speeds up global warming, and it shortchanges the taxpayers.”
FILE – In this photo April 11, 2013 file photo, Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American correspondent for the Washington Post, smiles as he attends a presidential campaign of President Hassan Rouhani, in Tehran, Iran. The closed trial of Rezaian detained in Iran for more than 10 months has begun in a court used to hear security cases. Iran’s official IRNA news agency says the trial of Rezaian began Tuesday, May 26, 2015 in a Revolutionary Court, saying he has been charged with espionage and propaganda against the Islamic republic. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File) 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement ___Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Cairo contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Mehr also reported the judge questioned Rezaian about his contacts with American journalist Lara Setrakian, which the agency said asked him to provide reports on his assessment of the political, economic and social situation in Iran to her to be forwarded to U.S. government officials.Setrakian, a journalist who co-founded of the website SyriaDeeply, strongly rejected the allegation Wednesday.“As journalists, Jason and I have spoken often about the Middle East, but at no point did we prepare reports for the White House or do anything aside from professional reporting,” she said in a statement.Rezaian, his wife Yeganeh Salehi and two photojournalists were detained on July 22 in Tehran. All were later released except Rezaian, who was born and spent most of his life in the United States, and who holds both American and Iranian citizenship. Iran does not recognize other nationalities for its citizens.Salehi has been barred from traveling abroad, the Post said, adding that its requests for a visa for a senior editor to travel to Iran went unanswered.Last week, Rezaian’s lawyer said Salehi, who is a reporter for The National newspaper in the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi, and a freelance photographer who worked for foreign media, also will stand trial. The photographer’s name has not been made public. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Men’s health affects baby’s health too Sponsored Stories Comments Share New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A letter a detained Washington Post journalist wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama and a trip he made to the U.S. Consulate in Dubai have become major topics of his espionage trial in Iran.Jason Rezaian, the Post’s 39-year-old bureau chief in Tehran, is being tried in a Revolutionary Court on allegations of “espionage for the hostile government of the United States” and propaganda against the Islamic Republic, Iran’s official IRNA news agency has reported. The Post has said he faces 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted. Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy The Post, U.S. diplomats and media rights organizations have criticized Rezaian’s detention and the handling of the case. His trial also comes amid ongoing negotiations between Iran and world powers over its contested nuclear program.At his first hearing Tuesday, Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency reported that a Farsi translation of the letter Rezaian wrote to Obama was read aloud. The agency said one passage read: “In Iran, I’m in contact with simple laborers to influential mullahs.”Mehr said the letter also talked about Rezaian’s “network of contacts inside Iran.” The agency also reported Judge Abolghassem Salavati questioned Rezaian about his contact with the U.S. Consulate in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.Rezaian’s brother, Ali Rezaian, earlier told The Associated Press in Washington the letter was an online form letter his brother wrote after Obama’s election in 2008 and that he visited the consulate to get a U.S. visa for his wife.Mehr said Rezaian rejected the charges against him during the hearing.“I’m only a journalist,” Mehr quoted Rezaian as saying. “All my activities were as a journalist and all were legal.” Top Stories
Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Orange has been a target of an anti-Israel boycott campaign because its local partner maintains a series of transmission towers in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.Richard’s comments appeared to give a boost to the boycott campaign. Israel has grown increasingly jittery as the movement appears to gain steam, claiming pro-Palestinian activists are out to “delegitimize” Israel’s right to exist.Richard has since tried to backtrack, telling a French TV station this week that there was no boycott and that he is “radically opposed to all forms of discrimination.” But he said he is sticking by his business decision to end the relationship with Israel’s Partner Communications Ltd.Israeli media said Richard arrived in Israel on Thursday. An Orange spokeswoman, speaking anonymously under company guidelines, confirmed plans for Friday’s meetings, but declined to discuss the content of the trip.An Israeli official also confirmed a meeting was set for Friday, but declined to give further details. The official spoke on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement.___AP correspondent Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report. Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The difference between men and women when it comes to pain New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Comments Share Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet the chief executive of French telecom giant Orange SA to discuss the CEO’s recent comments on pulling out of Israel, officials said Thursday.The meeting was expected to take place on Friday in Israel, they said.CEO Stephane Richard caused uproar in Israel last week after announcing he wanted to sever business ties with Israel as soon as possible, citing a desire to improve business relations in the Arab world. Sponsored Stories Four benefits of having a wireless security system Top Stories
Source = Emporium Hotel <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/1e1ea/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> A DRUM roll for BRISBANE’S multi-award winning EMPORIUM HOTEL making it as a finalist in the Best Luxury Accommodation (100 rooms and over) in The Australian’s 2009 Travel & Tourism Awards. The Emporium is the ONLY QLD hotel in the category!To vote in The Australian‘s Travel & Tourism Awards, pick up a copy of The Weekend Australian. Opened in June 2007, Emporium Hotel is Brisbane’s first true luxury boutique hotel, introducing a new standard in exquisite design, opulence, service and approach. Now a proven and award winning property in Brisbane, Emporium Hotel has established itself as a leading luxury product recognized in both a national and international context.This is The Australian’s annual best-in-show, the time when they recognise those Australian tourism providers and operators who have consistently attained a standard of excellence during the past year. Voting will be in 17 categories with lists of nominated contenders compiled by the award-winning editor of Travel & Indulgence, Susan Kurosawa, and a selection panel of experts consisting of the following media representatives: Michelle Rowe, deputy editor T&I; contributing editors Christine McCabe and Judith Elen; editor of WISH, David Meagher; senior editor, Vogue Entertaining + Travel, Sally Feldman; and freelancers Michael Gebicki, Lee Mylne and Lee Atkinson.Best luxury accommodation (100 rooms and over) Blue Sydney, A Taj Hotel: Billed as a perfect business hotel, Blue Sydney is equally accommodating of holidaymakers and foodies, sited at the heart of one of the city’s best eating precincts and making the most of its charming wharf heritage with loft rooms and the industrial-chic Water Bar. tajhotels.com.Emporium Hotel, Brisbane: In Brisbane’s swanky Fortitude Valley, the Emporium is a design hotel with a practical heart. A la mode studio suites feature state-of-the-art technology and indulgent bathrooms as well as marble kitchenettes and even laundries. The high-voltage Cocktail Bar morphs from high tea to tapas with ease. emporiumhotel.com.au.InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto: Built when Melbourne was the world’s richest city, The Rialto, on Collins Street, retains its extravagant 19th-century facade but the interiors have been completely transformed to offer a thoroughly modern urban bolthole. intercontinental.com.The Observatory Hotel, Sydney: This property in English country house style boasts luxury rooms with marble bathrooms; many come with balconies, domed ceilings and four-poster beds. Its underground swimming pool has a domed ceiling that’s lit to resemble a southern hemisphere sky. observatoryhotel.com.au.Park Hyatt Sydney: Few hotels in the world claim a location as wonderful as this: absolute waterfront in Sydney’s historic Rocks precinct where intimate Opera House views are enjoyed by lucky travellers installed in the Park Hyatt’s urbane and deeply comfortable guestrooms. sydney.park.hyatt.com.Sofitel Wentworth Sydney: Lying at the heart of Sydney social life for almost five decades, the gracious Wentworth has retained its downtown cachet thanks to a total overhaul and grand relaunch by Sofitel in 2004, augmented more recently by a $10 million mini-makeover. sofitelsydney.com.au.The Westin Melbourne: This elegant hotel with a notable contemporary art collection overlooks City Square and perfectly captures the cultural vibrancy of downtown while offering a stylish oasis where the beds are trademarked as Heavenly. westin.com.au/melbourne.To vote in The Australian‘s Travel & Tourism Awards, pick up a copy of The Weekend Australian.