Virgin profits down more than 60 percent

first_imgVirgin Blue profits have plummeted Virgin Blue has recorded a AU$37 million net profit before tax for the six months to December, reflecting a whopping 62.6 per cent decrease on the year before. Total revenue for the airline was AU$1.695 billion, up 11.8 per cent on 2009, whilst Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs) increased by 14.4 per cent to 15.1 billion. Despite the massive plunge in profits, Virgin Blue chief executive and managing director John Borghetti said that the “core Virgin Blue business was sound”. “This is a very solid result considering the impact of a number of significant one-off factors, including the Navitaire IT system outage, restructuring costs and unusually severe environmental events in Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Borghetti said. In line with guidance provided in January, net profit after tax was AU$24 million, while underlying pre-tax profit stood at AU$72 million. Short and long haul operations yielded increases of 1 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, with long haul business “on track for reaching close to breakeven by year end”.Mr Borghetti also confirmed the carrier’s widebody Airbus 330s will start flying in May with Virgin’s “new business class product”. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

Are we there yet Aus kids most restless travellers

first_imgAustralian children become disinterested and bored after just 23 minutes of driving, according to new research commissioned by in-car product supplier TomTom. With the impending summer holidays just around the corner, families will be taking to the roads for long-haul car journeys. Of the nine countries surveyed, research revealed that Australian children had the least patience. The average time taken to lose interest amongst all respondents was 27 minutes. Methods used by mothers to avoid boredom included making up games (74 percent), offering treats and rewards (52 percent) and even lying about the time left to travel (24 percent).“Whilst we can’t stop children getting bored, we can make sure family journeys are as short as possible by getting you to your destination faster,” TomTom managing director Corinne Vigreux said. The survey was conducted by research company Ipsos MORI, targeting mothers in the United Kingdom, US, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Italy and Spain. Image Source: Fairfax Media Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

Confidence in travel insurance sales

first_img“Our figures agreed, showing that agents are incredibly knowledgeable about the benefits provided by a range of Australian travel insurance providers.” SureSave’s latest poll has revealed that 77 percent of travel agents are confident they can increase their travel insurance sales in the next 12 months. “Agents cited their increasing determination, experience and customer service skills as driving factors for their ongoing success,” SureSave executive general manager Michael Callaghan said. Two thirds of responding agents said they regularly review and compare travel insurance offerings. SureSave’s poll also revealed that 60 percent of agents sell policies to more than half of their travelling customers.center_img “With almost eight in ten agents aiming to increase their sales in 2014, SureSave is devising a range of new sales tools to support agents’ expertise and knowledge and, in doing so, enhance their bottom line,” Mr Callaghan said. Travel agents have a renewed sense of confidence when it comes to selling travel insurance, according to new research. Source = ETB News: P.T.last_img read more

Choice Hotels appoints new marketing GM

first_imgChoice Hotels Australasia has announced the appointment of Matt Taylor to the position of general manager, marketing following his contribution to the company during a steady growth period.Taylor’s management and marketing initiatives have led the company to significant increases in brand awareness, consumer engagement and bottom line growth.Choice Hotels chief executive officer Trent Fraser congratulates Taylor on his new position and said he is looking forward to seeing him and the marketing team continue their success.“Matt has done a terrific job in leading the business, achieving strong results and implementing innovative initiatives for our franchisee network over the last few years but especially over the past 12 months,” Mr Fraser said.Since joining Choice Hotels in 2012, Taylor has led the introduction of several digital, online and social strategies for the company and is constantly searching for new ways to engage guests and increase revenue.Under Taylor’s leadership, the company’s international loyalty program, Choice Privileges, has seen membership numbers almost double to over 200,000 members.Taylor has focused heavily on establishing sponsorships and his established partnerships include the PGA of Australia, New Zealand Golf, Australian Cricketers Association, and charity partners Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand and Kids Under Cover.Before joining Choice Hotels, Taylor began his career as general manager, marketing with PETstock before gaining the position of national marketing and communications manager at Crazy Johns, and later, the national marketing manager at Global Retail Brands.Source = ETB Travel News: Brittney Levinsonlast_img read more

Meriton now the largest Australian owner of hotel rooms

first_imgMeriton now the largest Australian owner of hotel roomsThe burgeoning Meriton Serviced Apartments business has reached a new milestone – it has become the largest owner of hotel rooms in Australia.Meriton Serviced Apartments has moved to No.1 by overtaking the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), which bought the Tourism Asset Holdings portfolio in 2013.The Meriton Serviced Apartments ascendency has come with the opening of 254 new suites at Church Street, Parramatta, taking the luxury portfolio to 4403 suites in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.Meriton Serviced Apartments is poised to widen its lead over the ADIA portfolio of 4096 hotel rooms and to cement its place as the nation’s fastest-growing hotel operator – it has opened three new all-suite apartment hotels in the past two months, with one more to come in a couple of weeks’ time.That move, a reinforcement of Meriton Serviced Apartments’ commitment to the Australian hotel and tourism industry, will lift the number of its suites to 4621 spread across 18 hotels.Leading the way in this expansion are the owner and founder of the Meriton Group, Harry Triguboff AO, and the general manager of the serviced apartment division, Matthew Thomas, who over the past 12 years have shared a vision of creating a world-class apartment-hotel brand that delivers luxury accommodation tailored to both Australian and international travellers.The Meriton Serviced Apartments buildings, among the tallest in the world, have become prominent landmarks in their respective locales, delivering memorable and unrivalled views in tandem with the brand’s commitment to providing and maintaining a first-class standard for all guests.Meriton Serviced Apartments soon is to introduce the newest hotel in North Sydney, a property that will offer unrivalled high-rise hotel accommodation and breathtaking views across Kirribilli and Neutral Bay, of Sydney’s iconic harbour and east toward the beautiful coastline.Meriton Serviced Apartments, with many of its hotels, plus its 23 Penthouse Collection suites, awarded a five-star rating by Star Ratings Australia, is constantly striving to improve its products and services. Meriton Serviced Apartments offers outstanding products at normal hotel prices, so travellers who are keen on ‘value for money’ need not look any further.Meriton Serviced Apartments, in upholding world-class standards across its portfolio, continues to provide generous open-plan living spaces, plus the modern conveniences of a gourmet kitchen, an internal laundry and flat-screen TVs, coupled with a 24-hour reception, five-star concierge services and daily housekeeping to deliver better value and quality than a typical hotel. Source = Meriton Serviced Apartmentslast_img read more

The Rooster rules at AccorHotels this Chinese New Year

first_imgAccorHotelsThe Rooster rules at AccorHotels this Chinese New YearAs Chinese tourists flock to Australian shores, the Year of the Rooster will be celebrated at over 50 AccorHotels across the country from 28 January 2017.The two week festival will see AccorHotels, from ibis to Sofitel, decorated with red lanterns, tea stations, and bright floral displays. Upon check-in, guests can expect to see front office staff dressed in traditional costumes at many hotels, while Lion Dancers will be a highlight at some. A Mandarin tree with hanging red lanterns and red envelopes will be on display in the lobby at Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach, while a light projection emblazoned Year of the Rooster will feature on wall panels. The hotel’s Bistro On3 breakfast buffet will include a selection of Chinese food including pork and cabbage wonton soup, steamed dim sum, pork buns and gyoza as well as a daily noodle or rice special dish.Traditional Chinese Dragon Dancers will be a drawcard at the newly renovated Pullman Reef Casino in Cairns and the Mayor of Cairns will be officially welcoming Chinese New Year at the hotel and launching CADAI (Cairns and District Chinese Association Incorporated). The hotel lobby will feature cherry blossom trees and Chinese lanterns and the exterior of the hotel will be illuminated red at night. The 5-star hotel has just completed a $6.5m renovation of all its level one public areas.Novotel Melbourne St Kilda will be flying the Chinese New Year flag outside the hotel and will host a special Chinese New Year dinner with staff dressed in traditional Chinese costumes, while Chinese music and karaoke will be playing. The lobby will be decked with Chinese lanterns and red envelopes with chocolate gold coins placed in guestrooms.In Sydney, Novotel Brighton Beach will be serving Peking Duck pancakes while whole Peking Ducks will be on display at a live action station in Bay Garden Restaurant. Chocolate gold coins, fortune cookies and a candy tray of assorted Chinese treats will also feature.Chief Operating Officer AccorHotels Pacific, Simon McGrath, said: “Chinese New Year is always a special time of year for hotels and our guests, and it is pleasing to see so many of our hotels going to great lengths to celebrate 2017’s Year of the Rooster.“Chinese New Year celebrations are an extension of our Optimum Service Standards program Hao Ke Ya Gao in partnership with China Ready & Accredited, which enables our hotels to better cater for the growing Chinese inbound travel market. Pleasingly we now have 53 hotels which are accredited in this program and bringing greater services and benefits to our Chinese guests.“The trend of strong inbound growth from Greater China continues to have impact on our hotels and we’ve experienced a 19.7% increase in bookings made by Chinese travellers via our online systems in 2016. The growth through these channels reflects the latest trends from the Chinese market as we experience a surge in FIT travelers and a shift away from the traditional shopping tour groups. This is exciting news for our hotels particularly out in regional areas of Australia as the FIT traveller is more confident to venture off the beaten track and go to places not frequented by large numbers of tourists.”The Optimum Service Standards program Hao Ke Ya Gao includes training for AccorHotels staff in cultural differences, Mandarin speaking staff, translated welcome kits, Chinese dishes included on menus and mini-bar products, Chinese location maps, newspapers and television channels. UnionPay is also accepted at over 30 AccorHotels which enables guests to conveniently settle their room account with their domestic debit banking card.Source = AccorHotelslast_img read more

Etihad Airways reassures passengers of service and inflight offering

first_imgEtihad Airways reassures passengers of service and inflight offeringEtihad Airways is reassuring passengers of its highest level of service to minimise disruption following the introduction of a new US travel directive on electronic devices.From 25 March, passengers on all US-bound flights from, or transiting through, Abu Dhabi International Airport are not be permitted to carry electronic devices bigger than a smart phone or mobile into the aircraft cabin.Items such as laptop computers; tablets including iPads; gaming devices; cameras; and e-readers must be placed in checked-in luggage. Medical devices are exempt and can be carried onboard.All Etihad Airways’ flights to the USA have mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity, together with power and USB points at every seat enabling guests to remain connected through their mobiles and smart phones. With an onboard inflight entertainment system offering hundreds of hours of free programming, international movies, live TV news and sports channels, interactive games, and music at every seat, guests are able to keep themselves busy throughout their journey without the need of a laptop or tablet.Etihad Airways is sending email alerts to all US-bound travellers advising them of the new directive. Signage is placed at check-in desks at airports around the world where staff are advising guests to pack any prohibited electronic devices in their checked luggage.US-bound passengers travelling via Abu Dhabi must check in their electronic devices at the point of origin.The directive, issued by the US Transportation Security Administration, does not affect flights departing from the United States.At Abu Dhabi International Airport, all Etihad Airways guests travelling to the United States clear US Immigration and Customs at the US Preclearance facility in Terminal 3 – the only one of its kind in the Middle East. When guests land in the US, they arrive as domestic passengers with no requirement to queue for immigration checks again. Due to the additional security measures, Etihad Airways will deploy more staff at the US Preclearance facility in Terminal 3 to provide assistance.To avoid inconvenience, guests are encouraged to pack the prohibited items in their checked baggage prior to reaching the Preclearance facility. Any prohibited electronic devices will have to be declared and placed in padded envelopes before being securely taken to the aircraft luggage hold by staff. Such items will be returned to guests on arrival in the US, while conveniently, other items of checked-in luggage can be collected at the final destination in the USA.Guests are also encouraged to avoid carrying spare battery packs larger than the permitted size as these will not be allowed in either the luggage hold or the cabin.Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, said: “We remain committed to ensuring we provide guests the highest levels of service and quality experience that we are renowned for, at Abu Dhabi International Airport and throughout their journey to minimise the impact of the new measures.“Etihad Airways offers excellent facilities on the ground at Abu Dhabi International Airport and inflight to keep guests entertained during their journey. While we are communicating the new directive to guests before they begin their travels to the US, we are implementing a number of measures at Abu Dhabi International Airport to ease the process. We continue to work with the relevant authorities and advise guests to comply with the directive to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted journey to the United States.”In addition to the onboard offering, all cabins have a selection of digital lifestyle magazines that can be viewed for free on a smartphone via the Wi-Fly homepage. A variety of printed international magazines and newspapers are also available for guests travelling in the premium cabins.Children receive a kid’s pack with games and toys, and there is a Flying Nanny on board to assist parents.At Abu Dhabi International Airport, passengers have access to free Wi-Fi. Guests travelling in the premium cabins can use Etihad Airways’ lounges. For those with sufficient time before departure, guests can pay for access to Etihad’s Business Class lounge in Terminals 1 and 3 which offer computer terminals, Wi-Fi, business facilities, and a wide selection of newspapers, business and lifestyle magazines, international cuisine, shower rooms and children’s play rooms.First and Business Class guests are also able to use the US Premium Lounge located after the US Immigration checks at Terminal 3.Guests are able to purchase extra baggage allowance at a discount on airport rates by booking online at etihad.com; through an Etihad Airways reservation office; or via a call centre. In addition, Silver, Gold and Platinum members of Etihad Guest, the airline’s loyalty program, are entitled to extra free baggage allowance.While Abu Dhabi International Airport is not listed for a similar ban related to direct flights operating to the United Kingdom, enhanced security screening is likely for guests travelling to London, Manchester and Edinburgh.Etihad Airways operates 45 flights a week between Abu Dhabi and six cities across the United States – namely New York, Washington, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.For any further updates on the new directive and our policies, guests are advised to check Etihad Airways’ website at etihad.comSource = Etihad Airwayslast_img read more

Vietjet and Qatar Airways sign Interline Agreement

first_imgVietjet and Qatar Airways sign Interline AgreementVietjet and Qatar Airways sign Interline AgreementVietjet recently announced a two-phase interline partnership with Doha – based Qatar Airways.The first phase which came into effect this September will enable Qatar Airways’ passengers to travel to and from points in Vietnam and in Taiwan served directly by Vietjet; the next phase will soon allow Vietjet’s passengers to fly to more than 150 points around the world served by Qatar Airways using a single reservation system that serves both airlines’ networks.Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are delighted to welcome Vietjet to our growing roster of interline partners as they allow us to provide a more seamless experience for our passengers. The new agreement with Vietjet will offer our passengers even more choice, providing them an easy connection in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi before transferring to their Qatar Airways flights.”Vietjet Vice President, Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Binh, said: “This partnership is a pillar of Vietjet’s strategy to diversify our services with an aim at offering our passengers travel opportunities to points all over the world. We will continue to partner with other airlines based on advanced technology platforms to better benefit our passengers.”Qatar Airways is commencing two non-stop operations connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with Doha with frequencies of double daily flights and ten weekly flights, respectively.Previously, Vietjet and Japan Airlines agreed to codeshare/interline on their flights between Japan and Vietnam, their domestic services and their flights between Vietnam and other Asian countries. The two carriers also cooperate in various areas including a frequent flier partnership, aircraft operations and maintenance, and ground handling services and training.Source = Vietjetlast_img read more

The Rees Hotel Queenstown earns Wine Spectator Award

first_imgThe Rees Hotel Queenstown earns Wine Spectator AwardThe Rees Hotel Queenstown earns Wine Spectator AwardThe Rees Hotel Queenstown’s True South Dining Room, one of New Zealand’s top multi-award-winning, fine-dining restaurants, has been awarded a 2018 Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence. This is the seventh consecutive year the hotel’s restaurant has won a Wine Spectator award for its wine program from the US bestselling wine and hospitality magazine, Wine Spectator. Formerly achieving the Award of Excellence each year, this is the first time True South has earned this next level, even more prestigious award and it is the only restaurant in Queenstown to achieve a Wine Spectator award in 2018.The Wine Spectator awards recognises outstanding wine lists, with recipients hailing from 70 countries. The awards are designed to elevate wine selection and service around the globe and encourage programs that complement a variety of cuisines, settings and prices. The Best of Award of Excellence seeks wine lists which display “excellent breadth across multiple winegrowing regions and/or significant vertical depth of top producers, along with superior presentation. Typically offering 350 or more selections, these restaurants are destinations for serious wine lovers, showing a deep commitment to wine, both in the cellar and through their service team.True South Dining Room has a comprehensive collection of Bordeaux and Burgundy wines with vintages selected from many of the great houses. Wines from world-renown chateaux such as Romanee Conti, Chateau d’Yquem, Latour, Margaux, Mouton Rothschild and Lynch Bages along with some of the best offerings from Central Otago, New Zealand, Australia and Italy in the professionally-managed, temperature-controlled wine cellar servicing the hotel and restaurant’s Bordeau Wine Lounge.The Rees Hotel Queenstown’s General Manager, Mark Rose, says it’s the restaurant’s ability to match superb wine with fresh, locally sourced dishes in addition to a holistic wine programme – which includes tastings, wine pairings and the True South Culinary Winemaker’s Culinary Series Dinner – that distinguishes the restaurant internationally for it to achieve this award. True South Dining Room gives ongoing support to local vineyards through their Winemaker’s Culinary Series dinners throughout the year. The award is important as it gives recognition to the effort put into building and maintaining a first-class cellar while confirming True South Dining Room as one of New Zealand’s best dining experiences.“To receive the higher Best of Award of Excellence this year and to be recognised again for the 7th year in a row, by one of the most prestigious and well known international reviewers for our wine selection is a remarkable achievement and yet another excellent outcome for The Rees in 2018,” says Mr Rose.True South Dining Room’s other awards include a prestigious 2 Stars – World’s Best Wine Lists for 2017 from the World of Fine Wine for the 3rdconsecutive year, The Beef and Lamb Excellence Award in 2018 for the 4thconsecutive year and Best Hotel Chef won by Executive Chef Ben Batterbury at the prestigious 2017 HM Awards for Accommodation and Hotel Excellence.Along with The Rees Hotel’s regular exclusive Winemaker’s Culinary Series Dinners, it also offers Heli Wine Tasting Experiences hosted by Mark Rose. Guests can enjoy 180-degree panoramic views of Queenstown from a six-seater helicopter, a gourmet lunch and sample a variety of award-winning wines from local regions. Source = The Rees Hotel Queenstownlast_img read more

Christmas in Helsinki more than jingles and bells

first_imgHelsinki Christmas Market. Photo: Jussi HellstenChristmas in Helsinki, more than jingles and bellsHaving been named the world’s number one Christmas city, Helsinki is more than ready for another festive holiday season. The unique appeal of the Finnish capital is obvious also during the Christmas season: Helsinki is a place where you can energise yourself in many ways. The warm atmosphere, fun activities, stunning nature and other Christmas elements are described in detail on the MyHelsinki.fi website.Helsinki has been highlighted as a top destination this Christmas by numerous international media outlets. For example, The Guardian has listed Helsinki has one of Europe’s best Christmas getaway destinations. Christmas in Helsinki is a mix of new and old traditions. A warm Christmas atmosphere is guaranteed all the way from late November through to Epiphany at the start of the New Year. The holiday season is rounded off by the popular Lux Helsinki light festival, which presents brilliant light art throughout the city centre from 5 to 9 January 2019.The most anticipated architectural grand opening of the year takes place around Finnish Independence Day at the start of December, when the internationally acclaimed Helsinki Central Library Oodi opens to the public. The grand opening programme includes dance, music and theatre performances over two days on 5 and 6 December.Urban Christmas retreat combines saunas, traditions and natureChristmas in Helsinki is made up of saunas, the proximity of the sea and nature, small-scale appeal, delicious food, design, relaxing, fun and new traditions.The sauna is an essential part of the Finnish Christmas, and Helsinki offers numerous Christmas saunas to choose from. The city’s public saunas, from the immensely popular design sauna Löyly to the literally brand-new Uusi Sauna, remain hot throughout the Christmas holidays for locals and visitors alike to enjoy. In the city centre you can also visit a pop-up sauna that lets you enjoy a beautiful view to Helsinki Cathedral or Allas Sea Pool, where you take in the city’s skyline while swimming in the heated open-air pool right in the main harbour.Around the end of November and beginning of December, Helsinki is taken over by Christmas markets selling lots of seasonal treats alongside Finnish design and handicrafts. The legendary Helsinki Christmas Market opens in the historic Senate Square on Saturday 1 December and is open daily all the way until Saturday 22 December. In addition to great gift ideas, the Helsinki Christmas Market also offers ten varieties of glögi (mulled wine), plus Christmas karaoke and seasonal delicacies. Helsinki also has dozens of smaller Christmas markets and fairs that are listed here.Helsinki is surrounded by beautiful nature, and getting from the city centre to the islands in the archipelago the forests to enjoy the fresh air and magical atmosphere could not be simpler. Helsinki’s nature attractions are especially popular during the Christmas season, when families can enjoy the many Christmas paths throughout the city. Hundreds of candles light up the Christmas path along the Uutela Nature Trail in Vuosaari, East Helsinki, while the Christmas path on the recreational island of Seurasaari is full of fun surprises, elves and forest animals.In addition to all the traditional classical music concerts, church concerts and choir performances, Helsinki also offers seasonal entertainment for electronic music fans and clubbers. Some of the best clubs in Europe can be found in Helsinki, providing alternative entertainment throughout the Christmas season that you can find on the Clubbers’ Christmas Calendar.Helsinki greets in 2019 with its official New Year’s Eve celebrations in Senate Square on 31 December. The programme includes lots of entertaining music, dance and fire performances, as well as a spectacular firework display.Your online guide to Christmas in HelsinkiThe award-winning MyHelsinki service features the most interesting events and phenomena of the Christmas season in Helsinki. The website offers insight into the city’s Christmas traditions, as well as local recommendations for enjoying the romantic Christmas spirit, seasonal delicacies, saunas and the Christmas holidays in Helsinki.The website is updated regularly with the latest tips from locals about such things as Christmas coffees, concerts and parties, as well as how to relax amidst all the hustle and bustle of the holidays. It also lists reminders about opening hours during Independence Day, Christmas and New Year’s. Source = Helsinki Marketinglast_img read more

Sofitel New York reveals WAITRESS the Musical Suite

first_imgSofitel New York reveals WAITRESS the Musical SuiteSofitel New York reveals WAITRESS the Musical SuiteSofitel New York, the official hotel of the Tony Awards, today announced the second of its Broadway-themed suite series that’s worthy of a standing ovation – theWAITRESS the Musical Suite, featuring one-of-a-kind memorabilia from the hit Broadway show.Upon entering the luxury Skyscraper Suite with second-to-none views of Manhattan’s skyline, theater buffs can revel at original costumes framed on the walls, including the waitress uniform worn by Molly Hager in the role of Becky, and the lab coat worn by Jason Mraz as Dr. Pomatter. Also framed nearby are signed posters by Katharine McPhee, Sara Bareilles and Jason Mraz, and a Playbill signed by the entire original 2016 Broadway cast. WAITRESS fan club members will recognize iconic props from the musical, from a vintage pie shop sign, to the Joe’s Pie diner menu and a diner bar seat. Baking essentials are scattered throughout and Sugar, Butter, Flour: The Waitress Cookbook is on display with mouth-watering recipes. All guests of the suite receive a slice of pie and a welcome letter from the musical’s cast.Completing the experience, guests who book the WAITRESS the Musical Suite can head to Gaby Brasserie Francaise, Sofitel New York’s signature restaurant, for two complimentary WAITRESS The Musical’s Winter Old Fashioned cocktails and two slices of Jenna’s Rhubarb & Cranberry Crumble per stay. Complimentary daily breakfast is also included.The WAITRESS Suite is available for booking through February 2019. Rates start at $799 per night. Reservations can be made Monday-Friday by calling 212-782-3013 or by emailing Daniel.Harpaz@sofitel.comAbout Sofitel New YorkSofitel New York, part of AccorHotels group, is a stylish Midtown hotel with a decidedly French accent in its contemporary décor, sophisticated artwork, brasserie cuisine and cosmopolitan service. It features 398 guest rooms, including 52 suites; function space that serves small-to-mid-sized events; and an outstanding restaurant, Gaby Brasserie Française. Sofitel New York is ideally located at 45 West 44th Street, affording easy access to Fifth Avenue and the Times Square Theater District. For reservations, call 212-354-8844 or visit www.sofitel-new-york.com/. Source = Sofitel New Yorklast_img read more

Grand Canyon skywalk to receive its millionth visitor

first_imgA northwestern Arizona tribe, Hualapai, is preparing to welcome the one-millionth visitor to its signature tourist attraction, the glass bridge that hangs over the Grand Canyon.The bridge had seen a major uptick in attendance in 2015, pushing visitation to the seven-figure milestone.Tourism operations at the location are managed by the tribe’s Grand Canyon Resort Corporation. Corporation spokesman David Leibowitz said nearly 120,000 more people visited the bridge last year than in 2014.Leibowitz reported that the millionth visitor will be receiving gifts and pictures as part of the celebration.last_img read more

Ethiopian Airlines to continue its operation in Nigeria

first_imgEthiopian Airlines is all set to continue its scheduled operations to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, despite the recent withdrawal by some Airlines out of Lagos and Abuja.Solomon Begashaw, Country Area Manager Nigeria,  remarked, “As a veteran Pan-African carrier it has always been our source of pride to serve our beloved continent, Africa, both in good and bad times. Our presence in Nigeria dates back to the 1960’s, same time the Federal Republic of Nigeria got independence from foreign colonisation. Ethiopian has been part of Nigeria’s historic growth and always considers itself as a partner in the history and growth of Nigeria as a country. Hence, the Management of Ethiopian Airlines wishes to clarify its stance of pursuing its operation to Nigeria and keep Nigerian travellers connected to five continents around the globe.  As an indigenous Pan-African Carrier, Ethiopian Airlines will remain with the Nigerian public in good and bad times like it has always done in the past 50 years.”At present, Ethiopian serves the four Airports in Nigeria, which include Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, and Kano. To reinforce its support to the country, it is offering to hire Nigerian pilots for its ever growing fleet of B777, B787, B737 and Dash 8 Q-400 Aircraft, along with training more Nigerians in its aviation academy. Besides, Ethiopian Airlines had always served Nigeria with the best Aircraft in its fleet like the A350 Airbus, B787 Dreamliner and the B777 wide body.As the airline is celebrating its 70 years of existence, it has extended free tickets to Nigerians who liked Ethiopian Airlines Nigeria Facebook page.last_img read more

Indian travellers eye sustainable tourism

first_imgAs per a survey, 97% Indian travellers prefer sustainable tourism during their holidays and are also willing to pay an extra amount if required.73% of Indian travellers always or often choose sustainable travel and around 32% wish to pay at least 15% more to ensure as low impact on the environment, revealed the report.Indian travellers rank first when it comes to opting for sustainable tourism followed by Brazilians and Chinese, found the survey.Buying locally made products are one of the most sought-after sustainable activities of most of the Indian travellers i.e. 69% and 62% prefer using public transport over the taxi and 61% like to go to local restaurants that use local ingredients.Through the survey, what came to notice is that 48% Indians wouldn’t mind skipping tourist highlights in favour of less busy and often more rewarding sights, and 58% choose a certified eco-accommodation over a traditional hotel.With the help of the survey, it is also observed that 75% of Indians were motivated by nature’s beauty, including rainforests, coral reefs, etc.last_img read more

Treasuries Analysts Respond to US Debt Downgrade

first_img Markets and investors recoiled Saturday over news that ratings agency “”Standard & Poor’s””:http://www.standardandpoors.com/home/en/us slapped U.S. Treasury debt with a downgrade, shifting credit ratings for the world’s largest economy from the long-prized AAA rating to a weaker AA+ rating. In response, Treasury yields dipped over Monday, as housing analysts suggested that the hyped downgrade would hurt borrower confidence more than mortgage rates.[IMAGE]Rather than run from U.S. Treasuries, investors created a buying spree Monday, sending 10-year Treasury yields down to 2.43 percent from 2.56 percent Friday, according to “”CNNMoney””:http://money.cnn.com/2011/08/08/markets/bondcenter/treasuries_downgrade/. With respected mortgage companies “”Bankrate””:http://www.bankrate.com/ and “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô which suffered a downgrade Monday alongside fellow GSE “”Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/kb/index?page=home ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô yet to release mortgage rate updates, “”MonitorBankRates.com””:http://www.monitorbankrates.com/mortgages/mortgage-rates-decline-on-u-s-credit-rating-downgrade-30-year-mortgage-rates-at-4-28 signaled a plunge in mortgage rates over recession fears, citing falls in 30-year fixed-rate loans to 4.28 percent and 15-year mortgages to 3.50 percent, down from 4.48 percent and 3.69 percent, respectively, from last week.Housing analysts and economists reacted to the news with a mix of alarm and unconcern.A “”story””:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904140604576494572068990408.html in the “”_Wall Street Journal_””:http://online.wsj.com/home-page quoted Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partn:er at research firm “”Federal Financial Analysis””:http://www.fedfin.com/, as saying that a downgrade could “”do nothing but harm”” the U.S. mortgage market. She asks: “”The question is how much?””””My thoughts are that [mortgage] rates may be impacted by 30 basis points at maximum,”” Lawrence Yun, SVP and chief economist with the “”National Association of Realtors””:http://www.realtor.org/, wrote in an “”article””:http://economistsoutlook.blogs.realtor.org/2011/08/08/u-s-credit-downgrade/. “”Mortgage rates will most likely move in the same direction as the government borrowing rate, because there is government backing of mortgages on nearly all mortgage originations in today’s market.””[COLUMN_BREAK]””Even if rates were to rise because of the downgrade, this fact is less important in light of the current overly-stringent underwriting standards and the general lack of consumer confidence about the economy,”” Yun added. “”A 30-year fixed rate rising from 4.3% to 4.6% will not change the housing game that much, but a return to normal underwriting standards and a boost to consumer confidence will be the true game changer.””Celia Chen, senior research director and housing specialist with “”Moody’s Analytics””:http://www.moodys.com/Pages/atc003.aspx ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the ratings agency that preserved U.S. debt credit ratings along with fellow agency “”Fitch Ratings””:http://www.fitchratings.com/index_fitchratings.cfm ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô joins Yun in downplaying the role a downgrade will ultimately play in still-reeling mortgage markets.She calls the ratings shock a “”psychological blow on the nation”” that will largely bypass the housing sector and economy at large, chalking up wherewithal in global equity and bond markets to investors who stayed on the alert about a S&P downgrade for U.S. debt ratings.””Investors are still buying 10-year Treasury bonds [at] record-low rates, indicating that they are not worried about the U.S. defaulting,”” she says. “”Thus mortgage rates will not be much affected by the downgrade. They will remain low [and] thus a positive for the housing market.””She predicts that an unaffected job growth outlook will “”fuel strong demand for [the] housing”” sector.Chen adds: “”The downgrading does, however, heighten the risk that the nation ends up back in recession, as the selloff ends up feeding on itself. If the nation double-dips, housing’s fledgling recovery will be squashed.””Explaining its reasons for the debt downgrade, S&P issued a “”report””:http://www.standardandpoors.com/servlet/BlobServer?blobheadername3=MDT-Type&blobcol=urldata&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobheadervalue2=inline%3B+filename%3DUS_Downgraded_AA%2B.pdf&blobheadername2=Content-Disposition&blobheadervalue1=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobheadername1=content-type&blobwhere=1243942957443&blobheadervalue3=UTF-8 that signaled low confidence in U.S. public policymakers and federal institutions.””The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics,”” S&P said. “”More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges.”” Treasuries, Analysts Respond to U.S. Debt Downgrade August 8, 2011 450 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicingcenter_img Agents & Brokers Bankrate Fannie Mae Fixed-Rate Mortgage Freddie Mac Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates National Association of Realtors Processing S & P Index Service Providers 2011-08-08 Ryan Schuette Sharelast_img read more

Senate Democrats Urge Reappointment of CFPB Leader

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Senate Democrats Urge Reappointment of CFPB Leader February 18, 2013 433 Views Sharecenter_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Barack Obama Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Investors Lenders & Servicers Politics Processing Richard Cordray Service Providers 2013-02-18 Seth Welborn Fifty-four Senate Democrats and Independents issued a letter to the president last week defending the “”Consumer Financial Protection Bureau””:http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB) and pledging to support the re-appointment of current director Richard Cordray.[IMAGE]Cordray’s initial appointment to head the agency was mired in controversy: Faced with the prospect of a Republican filibuster that would stop Cordray’s appointment, President Obama installed the director early last year as a “”recess appointment””–a move that drew criticism and debate over whether the Senate was actually in a recess at the time.Obama announced last month his intent to renominate Cordray for the position, reigniting criticism and the threat of another filibuster. Adding to the controversy is a “”recent appeals court ruling””:https://themreport.com/articles/cfpb-leadership-uncertain-as-appeals-court-invalidates-recess-appointments-2013-01-25 invalidating the appointments of several National Labor Relations Board members who were appointed at the same time as the CFPB leader.In their letter, Cordray’s Senate supporters decried the opposition’s efforts as an attempt to “”weaken the CFPB through structural changes”” from “”a minority of Senators [who] do not support the existence of the agency.””””[I]t is clear from their public comments that many of our Senate colleagues on the other side of the aisle who oppose his nomination–and even many representatives of the financial services industry who were originally skeptical of his appointment–agree that he is well qualified and has prudently exercised the authorities of the CFPB,”” the letter reads.The letter adds that “”[a]ttempts to force relitigation of issues related to CFPB’s funding and organization by filibustering Director Cordray’s renomination … are irresponsible and inconsistent with our democratic values.””The Democrats’ letter is reminiscent of a similar message sent to the president from Senate Republicans in May last year. Signers of that letter vowed not to consider any nominee for director until greater checks and balances could be put in place. The issue of Cordray’s nomination comes at a pivotal time for CFPB, which recently unveiled a series of new rules and guidelines designed to reform housing finance and protect consumers.Senators “”Jack Reed””:http://www.reed.senate.gov/ (D-Rhode Island), “”Sherrod Brown””:http://www.brown.senate.gov/ (D-Ohio), and “”Elizabeth Warren””:http://www.warren.senate.gov/index.cfm (D-Massachusetts) took the issue a step further, calling on Senate Republicans to allow an up or down vote for the appointment.””After two years, it is time for the Senate to give Rich Cordray a vote–up or down–and remove the uncertainty that is costly to families, to community banks and credit unions, and to everyone in financial services,”” said Warren, the original architect who worked to create the consumer agency. According to a blog on “”_The Hill_””:http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/banking-financial-institutions/283211-senate-dems-hold-the-line-on-consumer-bureau, the letter was signed by all Democratic senators except “”Mark Pryor””:http://www.pryor.senate.gov/public/ (D-Arkansas). The two Independents who signed were “”Angus King””:http://www.king.senate.gov/index.cfm (Maine) and “”Bernie Sanders””:http://www.sanders.senate.gov/ (Vermont).last_img read more

Senate Committee Approves Cordray Nomination

first_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Investors Lenders & Servicers Politics Processing Regulation Senate Banking Committee Service Providers U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission 2013-03-19 Tory Barringer Senate Committee Approves Cordray Nomination Richard Cordray’s nomination to continue leading the “”Consumer Financial Protection Bureau””:http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB) is headed to the Senate following a vote from the “”Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs””:http://www.banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Home.Home Tuesday.[IMAGE][COLUMN_BREAK]The committee confirmed Cordray’s nomination by a party-line vote of 12-10, with Republican members keeping to their vow to not support any potential leader until CFPB’s structure is fundamentally changed.””The CFPB was established unlike any other federal department or agency,”” said ranking member Sen. “”Mike Crapo””:http://www.crapo.senate.gov/ (R-Idaho). “”Regardless of the administration in charge, either Republican or Democrat, the CFPB’s structure needs to be revised to fit the models of traditional departments and agencies. Otherwise, it will continue to lack the necessary transparency and accountability.””Crapo specifically criticized the agency’s spending, which he says is not as transparent as it should be.Also up for vote was the nomination of Mary Jo White to head the “”Securities and Exchange Commission””:http://www.sec.gov/ (SEC). White’s nomination was approved by a vote of 21-1, with Sen. “”Sherrod Brown””:http://www.brown.senate.gov/ (D-Ohio) voting against. March 19, 2013 446 Views center_img Share in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicinglast_img read more

New Home Purchase Applications Down Again in September

first_imgNew Home Purchase Applications Down Again in September Builder data tracked by the “”Mortgage Bankers Association””:http://mba.org/default.htm (MBA) indicates mortgage applications for new home purchases decreased from August to September. [IMAGE]MBA’s monthly Builder Application Survey (BAS), which uses application volume from mortgage subsidiaries of homebuilders, suggests new home purchase application volume declined 1 percent month-over-month in September. The decline does not include any adjustment for typical seasonal patterns.By product type, conventional loans accounted for 68.4 percent of loan applications, up 0.6 percentage points from August, while the share of loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) fell the same amount to 16.6 percent. The percentage of loans insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was flat at 13.9 percent. Rural government-backed loans made up 1.1 percent of volume, up slightly over the prior month. The top three states for new home purchase application volume were Texas, Florida, and California, where volume increased month-over-month by 5.6 percent, 1.6 percent, and 15.5 percent, respectively. Year-over-year, applications for new home purchases increased by 12.4 percent in Texas and 10.7 percent in Florida while falling 5.1 percent in California.Using information from the BAS and assumptions regarding market coverage, MBA estimates sales of new single-family homes ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 459,000 in September; sales were estimated at an unadjusted 36,000 for the month. The average loan size for new homes was up about $5,250 last month, increasing to $289,650. October 10, 2013 538 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Sales Homebuilders Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Applications Mortgage Bankers Association Service Providers 2013-10-10 Tory Barringercenter_img in Origination Sharelast_img read more

Fannies Book Shrinks Some More in August

first_img Share in Daily Dose, Headlines, News, Secondary Market October 2, 2014 426 Views Fannie Mae 2014-10-02 Tory Barringercenter_img Fannie Mae’s book of business shrank in August at its steepest rate in more than a year, according to the company’s latest volume summary.The company reported a compounded growth rate of -4.0 percent in its book for August, putting its total value down to $3.1 trillion. It was the ninth straight month of contraction.Year-to-date, the book’s annualized growth rate came to -2.3 percent as of August 31.Numbers were down all around throughout the month, with Fannie’s gross mortgage portfolio seeing the sharpest decline. According to the company, the portfolio fell at an annualized rate of 16.7 percent, totaling $443.1 billion as purchases waned and sales jumped.New business acquisitions were also down for Fannie, slipping from July’s year-high of nearly $40 billion to $37.7 billion.The GSE also reported another decline in single-family serious delinquencies, which were at a rate of 1.99 percent in August, just down from an even 2 percent in July. Multifamily delinquency came down as well, slipping to 0.09 percent after three straight months at 0.10 percent. Fannie’s Book Shrinks Some More in Augustlast_img read more

Parkside Lending Offering 95 Percent LTV on Jumbo Mortgages

first_img Share 95 Percent LTV Jumbo Mortgage Parkside Lending 2015-09-24 Staff Writer September 24, 2015 649 Views Parkside Lending Offering 95 Percent LTV on Jumbo Mortgagescenter_img in Headlines, News Parkside Lending, LLC, recently announced it will now go to 95 percent LTV without mortgage insurance on its expanded Jumbo program.The company designed the new Jumbo offering to help creditworthy borrowers with a down payment or equity as low as 5 percent fit into a traditional Jumbo loan.Specifically, Parkside will go to 95 percent LTV/CLTV on loan amounts up to $1,000,000 without mortgage insurance on a 1 unit, Owner Occupied Purchase or Rate and Term Refinance:An alternative to High Balance loans (minimum loan amount: $417,001)740 minimum credit score24 months reserves (borrower’s own funds)35 percent maximum DTIMinimum down payment of 5 percent (borrower’s own funds)Parkside Lending also offers Jumbo loans on Non-Owner Occupied transactions, and will go to 65 percent LTV/CLTV, 1-4 units.  In addition, there is no price hit for occupancy on LTVs up to 60 percent.“We believe our new Jumbo loan offering is an important financing alternative for a specific segment of creditworthy borrowers,” said James Lamparter, EVP of Sales, Parkside Lending. “We continue to grow our Jumbo product line as we identify different needs in the marketplace. Delivering the right loans to the right people with a caring approach is what Parkside Lending is all about.”last_img read more