Sunwing Vacations extends Zero Deposit promotion

first_imgSunwing Vacations extends Zero Deposit promotion << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Sunwing Posted by Travelweek Group center_img Share TORONTO — Sunwing Vacations has extended its popular Zero Deposit promotion until Aug. 31 for now bookings with departures between Dec. 21, 2016 and Oct. 31, 2017.With the promo, travellers can now choose from a variety f vacations and book with no money down all summer long. In addition, they’ll benefit from Sunwing’s Price Drop Guarantee and early bird pricing. With Price Drop Guarantee, if the client’s vacation price drops outside of 21 days prior to the intended departure date, they will be entitled to claim up to $400 per person back. A $50 per person administration fee will be applied to all claims submitted.Included within the promotion are a host of Sunwing Selection resorts that are perfect for families and couples alike. A popular choice among families are Sunwing’s Smile Resorts, featuring Kids Stay, Play and Eat FREE deals all year round, plus no single supplement for one-parent families.For more information go to sunwing.ca. Friday, July 22, 2016 last_img read more

Grand Bahama Islands Grand Lucayan reopens entire resort ready by Feb 2017

first_img Travelweek Group GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND — Grand Lucayan has officially reopened following temporary closure as a result of Hurricane Matthew. Beginning with the re-opening of Lighthouse Pointe, Grand Lucayan hopes to have the entire property operational by February 2017.“Our staff have worked tirelessly to get Grand Lucayan ready for our guests,” said Veronica Clarke, hotel manager. “We are so thrilled to be open and can’t wait for our guests to enjoy our pools, beach, spa, golf and dining options.”The 196-room Lighthouse Pointe, the traditionally all-inclusive portion of the resort, will temporarily play host to all guests, whether or not an all-inclusive package is booked. Venues including Waves Pool Bar, Portobello’s, Pizzeria Capri and Aroma Café are open. A new Sunday champagne brunch, served from noon until 4 p.m. is now offered along with a Fish Fry Party every Wednesday evening, featuring live entertainment, and ‘Welcome Back’ Bahamian Cuisine nights on Fridays.The Convention Center and wedding gazebos are also fully functional and ready to host weddings and groups. The Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed Reef Course also fared well and looks forward to hosting players, said Clarke. The remainder of the resort, including Breaker’s Cay, the Lanai Suites and additional dining venues, will be open in the first quarter of next year.More news:  Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthFor more information on Grand Lucayan see GrandLucayan.com. << Previous PostNext Post >> Thursday, November 10, 2016 Sharecenter_img Grand Bahama Island’s Grand Lucayan reopens; entire resort ready by Feb. 2017 Posted by Tags: Grand Bahama Island, Grand Lucayanlast_img read more

TravelBrands gets ready for its 2017 Agent Appreciation road shows

first_imgTags: TravelBrands Posted by TORONTO — TravelBrands’ ‘G’Oh Canada’ Agent Appreciation 2017 road trip events will take place in five locations across Ontario this month and next.“Join us for an evening of food, fun and great information as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday,” says the company. Agents will learn about new TravelBrands initiatives and tools, plus all attendees will have a chance to win prizes.Events are taking place at Fort Henry in Kingston on July 25, the Barrie Country Club in Barrie on July 26, Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery in Niagara on the Lake on July 27, Elmhurst Inn and Spa on Aug. 1 and The Lake House in Pickering on Aug. 2.All of the shows are evening events, with registration from 5:30 – 6 p.m. and dinner, presentations and prizes from 6 – 8 p.m.“Space is limited so sign up today,” says TravelBrands. See surveymonkey.com/r/ZVSTVTF for details. Travelweek Group Sharecenter_img TravelBrands gets ready for its 2017 Agent Appreciation road shows Thursday, July 13, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

TravelBrands makes waves with fifth successful SeaU

first_imgTravelBrands makes waves with fifth successful SeaU Posted by Tags: TravelBrands Travelweek Group Thursday, November 2, 2017 center_img MISSISSAUGA — TravelBrands’ fifth SeaU, taking place last week aboard Anthem of the Seas, treated some 150 travel agents, team members and suppliers to a week of prizes, speakers and raising awareness for hurricane relief.“This was our most action-packed SeaU to date,” says Frank DeMarinis, President & CEO, TravelBrands.DeMarinis added that while the group enjoyed their trip, “we felt that it was important to give back to the surrounding communities affected by recent natural disasters.” Through the generous contributions of travel agents, Royal Caribbean and TravelBrands, the group raised US$10,000 towards the hurricane relief fund.SeaU is filled with training sessions, workshops and seminars to give agents and partners all the tools necessary to make the best cruise sale, he said.Throughout the duration of the sailing, 10 suppliers presented their products to 125 travel agents in both English and French. Larry Pimentel, President & CEO of Azamara Club Cruises was the keynote speaker while Ron Petit from Royal Caribbean held a conference on Autism at Sea.More news:  Beep, beep! Transat hits the streets with Cubamania truckMultiple prizes were awarded to agents throughout the sail. Radha Yipchuck of Titan Tours won back the value of her SeaU participation fee. Gisèle Boissonneault of Voyages Gaby won a cruise on the MSC Seaside. Manon Chartrand of Exotentik won a spot on the inaugural of the Norwegian Cruise Line Bliss and air for two. Janet Flegel of Celebration Travel and Mary Elsa May of itravel2000 each were rewarded a cruise for two including air on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.In addition to these winnings, each agent received 2,500 Access Loyalty Rewards points to be applied on their next five cruises booked through Encore Cruises.Anthem of the Seas departed from Cape Liberty and made stops in Nassau, Port Canaveral and CocoCay. During the port day at Port Canaveral, Universal Orlando hosted the agents in their theme parks. TravelBrands’ SeaU takes place every 18-24 months. Share << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Canadian family affected by fatal bus crash in Mexico

first_img Share Wednesday, December 20, 2017 OTTAWA — Global Affairs Canada says at least one Canadian family has been affected by a bus crash in eastern Mexico that has killed an estimated dozen people.The department says it is providing consular assistance to the family, but could not provide further details about how many Canadians were in the bus and whether they were killed or injured.Authorities in Mexico say of the 31 people on the bus, at least 12 people were killed and 18 were injured Tuesday.The bus was carrying cruise ship passengers to Mayan ruins when it flipped over on a highway.Quintana Roo state Civil Defence spokesman Vicente Martin says seven Americans and two Swedes were among the injured, but says authorities hadn’t yet established the nationalities of the dead.Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises says in a statement that passengers from two of its ships, the Celebrity Equinox and Serenade of the Seas, were involved.More news:  Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youthVideo images from the scene show the bus on its side in vegetation off the two-lane highway, with some survivors lying on the pavement and others walking around.Public Security of Quintana Roo state said in a statement that emergency responders took the injured to hospitals in Bacalar, Chetumal and Tulum.The agency says Mexican officials have been in contact with consular offices to assist families of the victims and injured, including citizens of the U.S., Sweden and Brazil. The Canadian Press Canadian family affected by fatal bus crash in Mexico Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Air Canada wants agents to Discover Melbourne with new contest

first_imgAir Canada wants agents to ‘Discover Melbourne’ with new contest Monday, April 2, 2018 Travelweek Group Share Posted bycenter_img TORONTO — Air Canada’s new contest, launched in the latest issue of Travelweek, gives agents a chance to win two roundtrip tickets from any Canadian city serviced by Air Canada to Melbourne, Australia.Also part of the prize is a 7-day inspiring journey discovering Victoria’s hidden gems with AAT Kings.Initially offered with four times weekly flights when it first took off in December 2017, Air Canada’s nonstop Vancouver-Melbourne service will go year-round starting June 1, 2018.Melbourne is Air Canada’s third destination in Australia.Click here to enter. Tags: Air Canada, Australia, Contests << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Intrepid releases annual Not Hot List in response to overtourism

first_imgIntrepid releases annual ‘Not Hot List’ in response to overtourism Travelweek Group Friday, October 12, 2018 TORONTO — In an effort to raise awareness about overtourism, particularly in Asia where it has become a major issue, Intrepid Travel has released its annual ‘Not Hot List’ that focuses on lesser-known and more sustainable destinations to visit in 2019.Now in its second year, the list was developed in response to concerns about overtourism, and supports the company’s ongoing commitment to responsible tourism.“Recently, we’ve seen a number of Asian countries take a proactive approach to combat overtourism. North Americans are increasingly concerned with overtourism and this is about encouraging them to step away from the familiar to approach this continent in the most ‘intrepid’ way possible,” said Intrepid Travel’s Regional Director for North America, Darshika Jones.Jones added that tourism can be a “potent force for good”, and that Intrepid believes that the broader the travel experience, the better. “As North American’s interest in travelling to Asia continues to grow, the more dispersal to lesser-known regions, the better,” she added.More news:  Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaHere is the 2019 Not Hot List:The Similan Islands is the new Maya Bay: With Maya Bay no longer a travel option as of summer 2018, clients can still enjoy the warm waters of the Andaman Sea when visiting the Similan Islands. The islands combine rainforests and pristine beaches with a touch of history, having been made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. After being hit by the 2004 tsunami, the island of Khao Lak has since recovered. Intrepid’s ‘Cruising the Thai Islands’ adventure cruise is priced from $2,621 per person.Komodo is the new Ubud: Once considered the adventurous alternative to Seminyak, Ubud in Bali has flourished in popularity, which has put pressure on local infrastructure. Komodo is a viable alternative for clients willing to sail from Bali through the Indonesian archipelago. It’s a place where ancient tribes maintain their traditions in deep rainforest valleys, and where guests can snorkel coral reefs, walk across volcanic beaches and watch for legendary Komodo dragons. Intrepid’s ‘Komodo and Flores’ tour is priced from $1,890 per person.Bukhara is the new Angkor Wat: Uzbekistan’s fifth largest city, Bukhara, is a UNESCO World Heritage site; its entire old city centre has more than 5,000 years of human history. There are over 140 monuments and historical buildings to explore, including Po-i-Kalyan Mosque which, during its 1,300-year history, even survived assault from Genghis Khan. Intrepid’s ‘Uzbekistan Adventure’ is priced from $1,675 per person.Ladakh is the new Everest: While Nepal will always be a must-visit for adventurers, Ladakh, India is rising in popularity for its hiking and Himalayan views. Travellers can break up the hiking with river rafting and visits to remote villages, monasteries and religious sites, and also explore Delhi before or after their treks. Intrepid’s ‘India Himalaya: Bike, Hike and Raft in Ladakh’ tour is priced from $2,070 per person. Tags: Intrepid Group, Intrepid Travelcenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Sharelast_img read more

Earn 10 commission when booking on TravelCars agent platform

first_img Friday, December 14, 2018 Earn 10% commission when booking on TravelCar’s agent platform Posted by Travelweek Group LOS ANGELES — TravelCar.com has launched a new incentive program for agents in both Canada and the U.S., just in time for the holidays.Travel agents who use TravelCar’s ‘Travel Agent Platform’ to book parking reservations for their clients will earn a 10% commission, plus be entered in a contest to win up to US$250 in Amazon gift cards.Reservations must be made between Dec. 14, 2018 and Jan. 7, 2019.The platform was launched in October as a way for agents to book parking at airports, seaports, train stations and city centres in more than 50 countries. The company has already partnered with more than 40 agencies in the U.S. and Canada.TravelCar’s parking network in the U.S. covers more than 50 cities, including 18 of the top 20 major airports with parking options at the top four airports in Canada.“We value our travel agent partners and wanted to create an incentive program for the holiday season that would let them know how much we appreciate their business,” said CEO and Co-Founder Ahmed Mhiri. “This is just the first of many incentive programs to come and we look forward to working with our current and future travel agent partners.”More news:  Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesThe contest is open to all travel agents and agencies based in the U.S. and Canada. Agents can sign up for access for free at join.travelcar.com and begin making reservations for clients.center_img Share Tags: Agent Incentives, TravelCar << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

More capacity on the way as Air Canada announces return of full

first_imgMore capacity on the way as Air Canada announces return of full India service Posted by Travelweek Group Tags: Air Canada, Delhi MONTREAL — Air Canada says it will resume its daily, nonstop Toronto-Delhi flights eastbound on Oct. 1 and westbound on Oct. 3, with additional capacity coming Oct. 27 with 400-seat B777-300ER aircraft.All flights are now available for purchase.Air Canada had announced on Feb. 27 that it was suspending its India service due to airspace closures over Pakistan. In recent days Pakistan has reopened its airspace to commercial flights, opening up the route again. Air India has also resumed its flights over Pakistan.Air Canada operates daily service from Toronto and Vancouver to Delhi and four times weekly between Toronto and Mumbai.The carrier’s Vancouver-Delhi flights will resume at their usual flight times starting Aug. 1.“We are very pleased to resume our daily, nonstop Toronto-Delhi flights in time for Diwali celebrations, and with additional capacity going forward to meet expected demand,” says Mark Galardo, Vice President, Network Planning at Air Canada.“With our Delhi flights returning to normal together with our seasonal return to Mumbai for fall firmly demonstrating our long term commitment to this vibrant market, we look forward to operating our full schedule to India.”More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upThe Toronto-Delhi flights will be operated initially with Boeing 787 Dreamliners and beginning Oct. 27, additional capacity will be added to this route with 400-seat Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, featuring Air Canada’s Signature Class, Premium Economy and Economy classes of service.Air Canada’s seasonal Toronto-Mumbai flights will operate four times weekly from Oct. 27, 2019 until March 28, 2020 with Boeing 777-200LR aircraft.Air Canada will have up to 18 weekly flights connecting a multitude of cities in North America to Delhi from both Toronto and Vancouver, and to Mumbai from Toronto.Flight AC42 will depart Toronto at 10:10 p.m., arriving in Delhi at 9:35 p.m. Flight AC43 will depart Delhi at 12:10 a.m., returning to Toronto at 5:05 a.m.From Vancouver, flight AC44 will depart 1:15 a.m., arriving in Delhi at 3:50 a.m. On the return, AC45 will leave Delhi at 5:55 a.m., arriving back in Vancouver at 7:30 a.m.All of the above flights are daily.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”To Mumbai, flight AC46 departs Toronto at 8:45 p.m., arriving BOM at 10:10 p.m., on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. On the return, flight AC47 departs BOM at 11:45 p.m. and gets back to Toronto at 5:25 a.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.“The resumption of Air Canada’s direct flights is a most welcome development,” said Kasi Rao, President & CEO of the Canada-India Business Council. “At a time of increasing commercial activity between Canada and India, Air Canada’s direct flights represent a very important element in connecting the business communities in both countries as well as the growing number of tourists, students, families and cargo traffic.”center_img Share Tuesday, July 23, 2019 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Costa Rican doctor accused of running organ trafficking ring promoted services on

first_imgA Costa Rican doctor under investigation for running an international kidney trafficking operation was advertising his services on YouTube.Journalist Amelia Rueda’s news site posted a video on Tuesday of Dr. Francisco José Mora promoting his medical expertise and Costa Rica as an attractive destination for medical tourism.The Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) arrested Mora at Calderón Guardia Hospital, in San José, where he is chief of nephrology. The arrest is part of an investigation into his involvement in human trafficking with the intent to illegally extract human organs, a violation of Article 172 of Costa Rica’s Penal Code, a Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman told The Tico Times. If convicted, Mora could serve eight to 16 years in prison, according to the Penal Code. Mora was held in an OIJ cell in the First Circuit Court building in San José before appearing before a judge on Wednesday afternoon. The Prosecutor’s Office recommended six months preventative detention as the investigation develops.Authorities also arrested Maureen Patricia Cordero Solano, 32, who allegedly was responsible for recruiting donors and assuring them the procedure was safe and would not affect their health, according to the daily La Nación. Attorney General Jorge Chavarría told crhoy.com that a woman died on her way back to Costa Rica after traveling to Israel to have her kidney removed and sold. According to the Costa Rican Social Security System, the country’s public health care system, it is illegal to pay someone for his or her organs in Costa Rica. The Prosecutor’s Office is also investigating whether or not the operating team was aware of their involvement in the illegal trade, added the newspaper. Leaning back in his chair wearing a white lab coat, Dr. Mora appears with Scott Oliver, a local tourism marketer, in a YouTube video posted on Oliver’s website WeLoveCostaRica.com. Oliver, originally from Scotland, notes in the video that his company is committed to helping its customers find “safe and affordable” surgery options, highlighting the relatively low costs of kidney transplants and immunosuppressant drugs in Costa Rica compared to the United States, where the video claims similar procedures could cost upwards of $250,000.“I’ve done videos for lots of people, what’s wrong with that?” Oliver told The Tico Times, adding that he was unaware of any wrongdoing by Mora.Mora specifically mentioned the private hospital Clínica Católica as his recommended facility in the video, citing its low costs, equipment and an on-site hotel. He is not listed under the clinic website’s nephrology directory. According to a representative from Clíncia Católica, 95 percent of doctors there rent space from the facility and are not staff.OIJ said that operations under investigation also took place at the Clíncia Bíblica, another private clinic in San José.Clínica Católica did not comment on the matter, and Clínica Bíblica told The Tico Times in a statement that they are willing to fully cooperate with authorities in the investigation.In the YouTube video, Mora claims to have performed more than 550 kidney transplants during his 35 years of experience. Mora says in the video that a patient could expect to spend three to four weeks total in Costa Rica between the transplant operation and recovery if they have their own donor.  According to a story in Mexico’s El Universal that contributed to the arrest of Dr. Mora, 48,000 people visited Costa Rica for medical tourism in 2012, spending $7,000 each on average during their stay.  Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Unidentified man devoured by crocodiles after jumping from a bridge over the

first_imgUpdate, Wednesday, April 30, 2014: Search continues for missing man eaten by crocodiles in Costa RicaConflicting reports continue about how the man entered the water, but he has been identified as 32-year-old Nicaraguan Omar de Jesús Jirón. See above link for details.Update, Thursday, May 1, 2014: Human head found in Costa Rica river likely belongs to Nicaraguan man attacked by crocodilesClothing recovered at the scene has led officials to say victim likely entered the river from the shore, but witnesses on the bridge still claim Jirón jumped. Original story continues here:An unidentified man leapt from the main bridge over the Tárcoles River, near Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, on Tuesday evening at approximately 5:20 p.m. in what is believed to be a suicide, Jim Batres, assistant director for the Costa Rican Red Cross, told The Tico Times.After falling into the water, the man reportedly was eaten by the river’s famously abundant crocodiles.Citing the testimonies of unidentified witnesses at the scene, Batres said the man had been causing a disturbance on the bridge earlier in the evening and was removed by police. He then went to a bar before returning to the bridge and leaping into the river.Batres said the man’s identity could not immediately be confirmed, and members of a Red Cross search team were unable to recover the body as of 7:50 p.m. Tuesday night.A conflicting report in the daily La Nación said the victim did not jump from the bridge, but tried to swim in the river from the shore when he was attacked by a crocodile and disappeared. The report said a friend identified him as a Nicaraguan named Omar, but gave no last name.Situated on the highway between San José and the popular beach town Jacó, the bridge over the Tárcoles River has become a popular pit stop for tourists looking to catch a glimpse of the river’s many American crocodiles. Recently, photographers and tour guides have grown more adventurous, filling up YouTube with videos of Tárcoles croc feedings and near misses.Updated 8:28 p.m. This story is developing. Follow ticotimes.net for updates. Facebook Comments Related posts:Human head found in Costa Rica river likely belongs to Nicaraguan man attacked by crocodiles Crocodile attacks surfer in Tamarindo Crocodile warning signs in Costa Rica have decreased bad encounters with tourists, Environment Ministry reports Search continues for missing man eaten by crocodiles in Costa Ricalast_img read more

Central American leaders concerned over rekindling of NicaraguaRussia military ties

first_img Facebook Comments Related posts:Nicaragua’s Ortega defends military ties with Russia Russia’s Putin in Cuba, Nicaragua to rekindle Latin America ties Nicaraguan legislature approves Russian satellite bases Russia back to fishing in troubled waters in Latin America, Costa Rica expert tells US congressional committee Nicaragua’s recent confirmation that it intends to purchase Russian-made fighter planes is causing concern among its two immediate neighbors — Costa Rica to the south and Honduras to the north — amid fear of a potential military imbalance in Central America.But Nicaragua’s military establishment has assured its jittery neighbors that the country poses no threat to anyone in Central America — or the rest of Latin America, for that matter.Last August the Nicaraguan Army’s top official, Gen. Julio César Avilés, told reporters that the country’s military was in the process of buying airplanes, helicopters, and vessels to protect Nicaraguan sovereignty, “taking into account the evolution of threats and risks to our country.”Army Inspector Gen. Adolfo Zepeda elaborated on those plans in February, saying that “in order to prevent…drug-traffickers’ airplanes from entering our air space” authorities were in the process of obtaining “interceptor fighters.”Zepeda assured that “it’s completely defensive aviation, not attack planes.”The Nicaraguan press has reported the planes as MiG-29s, but the government has not confirmed that publicly.Costa Rica’s administration expressed concern in the aftermath of the statements.During one of the Costa Rican government’s weekly press conferences in late February, Foreign Affairs Minister Manuel González reported that he and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had discussed the issue during their February meeting in Washington.“The purchase of fighter planes announced by the government of Nicaragua is a source of concern for us and for many other countries in the region,” he said.Asked about a possible Costa Rican response, González said the government was considering whether to bring the issue before the executive committee of the regional Central American Integration System (SICA).“However, it must be considered with absolute clarity that what Nicaragua spends its money on is its sovereign decision,” González said.“We have no way to prevent, condemn or block their purchase, or not, of $30 million airplanes.”Still, González hinted that the country might have higher priorities, like poverty. He also said that, as a neighbor, Costa Rica has the right to express its concern over a potential “arms race that we consider unnecessary in a region that should actually seek disarmament, stability, and actually fight off common problems like poverty, drug trafficking, crime, and violence.”Honduran security experts have also expressed concern over the announced purchase.Edmundo Orellana, who served as foreign affairs minister and defense minister under former president Manuel Zelaya, told the Honduran daily La Prensa that “this is an extremely delicate issue” about which Honduran authorities “must at least voice official concern.”He also said the issue should be brought before SICA, the Organization of American States and possibly even the U.N.The Nicaragua-Russia military connection dates back to the first administration of the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front, which ousted U.S.-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979. The Sandinista army was heavily equipped by the Soviet Union.The Sandinistas, and former President Daniel Ortega, again came to power in 2007.Ortega, who was reelected in 2011, has reestablished ties with Russia, while also maintaining good relations with the U.S. on issues like fighting drug trafficking.In 2013, the U.S. donated nearly $6 million worth of speedboats and other drug-fighting equipment to the Nicaraguan Navy.last_img read more

Creating coral that can survive climate change

first_imgKeyhole Reef is one of dozens of small reefs rising abruptly from the depths of Kaneohe Bay, one of Hawaii’s most scenic places. The water around it is sapphire blue, and bright schools of tang and triggerfish flit over its surface. But the reef is showing troubling signs of stress these days because of climate change.Here and there along the steep face of the reef, clumps of coral have turned stark white. This bleaching means the coral has begun to eject the micro-algae that normally live within its tissues and provide up to 90 percent of the nutrients that coral needs to live. And that has scientists worried, because similar things are happening in tropical waters around the world. Coral reefs are one of the planet’s keystone habitats, as rich in species as the rain forest. But they’re even more vulnerable to climate change and the warm, acidic ocean conditions it is creating.Yet scientists may be coming up with a way to protect the fragile reefs for the warmer world of the future.Ruth Gates, director of the Hawaii Institute for Marine Biology, calls the process human-assisted evolution. Last spring, she and Madeleine van Oppen of the Australian Institute for Marine Sciences received a $4 million grant from the family foundation of Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen for a plan to develop strains of coral that will be able to withstand changing ocean conditions.Gates emphasizes that now is the time for scientists to act, while there is still enough diversity on the reef. “As a biologist who’s been looking at reefs for 30 years,” she says, “I’m spectacularly realistic about what I see, and it’s not pretty – and if we don’t do anything about it, it’s going to intensify.”Like their close relatives, sea anemones and jellyfish, corals begin their life as free-swimming larvae. Eventually, though, they settle permanently on a rock or a patch of dead coral and transform into polyps, the basic units of coral. Almost immediately, the polyps begin to secrete the hard exoskeleton that we think of as coral reef. Collectively, corals are nature’s most prodigious architects. The Great Barrier Reef, where van Oppen does her research, is large enough to be seen from space.In a sense, each coral polyp is an individual, with a mouth and tentacles and its own community of symbionts. But the concept of individuality in coral is a complex one. Although larvae are the result of sexual reproduction, corals also reproduce clonally. Polyps will divide over and over again so that all the polyps in a colony, or a head of coral, may be genetically identical. Each may feed and spawn independently, but they’re also all connected by tissue and by a kind of nervous system called a nerve net. If you touch one end of a colony, the tentacles on the other end will retract.Then there’s the relationship between coral and its symbiotic microorganisms. Because their lives are so intertwined, scientists generally think of all these organisms as a single entity they call a holobiont. If human-assisted evolution is going save coral, it will have to work on the entire holobiont.Despite the provocative label, human-assisted evolution relies largely upon old-fashioned selective breeding. Gates points out that, even during a dramatic warming event, like last summer’s in Hawaii, when mean sea temperatures in Kaneohe Bay were several degrees above normal, not all the coral on a reef bleaches. Some individuals are clearly more tolerant of these kinds of stresses. Gates is collecting small samples of those individuals and bringing them into her lab to crossbreed them. By selecting the most robust offspring, she hopes to produce more-resilient strains of coral.Helping coral become ‘super coral’That’s just the first step. Ultimately, the plan is to return these corals back onto the damaged reefs they came from so they can interbreed with the wild coral. But before that happens, Gates and van Oppen believe they can exploit the complex biology of these organisms to create “super corals.”There are two main thrusts to their plan. The first involves a concept called epigenetics, the science of how genes are turned on and off.“There are two ways you can actually change genetic information,” Gates says. “You can, over time, insert new genes, or mix genes among generations. This changes the actual structure of the DNA. Or you can change the way in which the existing genes are used. In other words, you can regulate the genetic material you already have in a different way. We’re focusing on the latter approach. We’re trying to turn on, if you will, genetic pathways that allow corals to sustain exposure to stress better.”To try to turn on these genetic pathways, the Gates lab selects the most resilient individuals from the crossbreeding program and exposes them to conditions that mimic the higher ocean temperatures and acidity expected in the future.Gates likens this acclimatization process to the conditioning of athletes.“That’s exactly what we’re doing with corals,” she says. “We’re bringing them in and exposing them to the conditions of the future, to experiences that we hope they will ‘remember,’ and that that memory will be held in the way they regulate their genetic material.” The idea is that, by exposing the coral to stress, they will turn on formerly idle genes that are beneficial in the new conditions.There are some early signs of success. Some of the acclimatized corals that were returned to their reefs appeared to exhibit higher resiliency. Even during last year’s dramatic bleaching event, when between 40 and 70 percent of the coral in Kaneohe Bay were affected, none of these corals showed signs of bleaching.But it’s not enough to induce these changes in an individual. For assisted evolution to work, Gates says, the changes have to be heritable. This is, whatever characteristics the corals develop that make them more resilient have to be inherited by their offspring. That’s the essence of epigenetics.So, can acclimatizing individual corals to the conditions of the future create traits that can be passed on to the next generation?“Our preliminary work suggests that the answer to that is ‘Yes,’ ” Gates says.Improving a coral’s community of micro-algaeIn fact, in a paper this year in the Journal of Experimental Biology, she and her former student Hollie Putnam demonstrated just this kind of intergenerational exchange of “memory.” They found that, when they submitted a reef-building coral called Pocillopora to higher temperatures and more acidic conditions, the coral’s larvae “exhibited size differences and metabolic acclimatization” that improved their resiliency. In other words, even though the adults suffered from being exposed to future climate conditions, the offspring of those that survived were better able to tolerate higher temperatures and acidity than the offspring of adults that weren’t exposed to those conditions.The second focus of research in the Gates lab looks at the relationship between corals and the microorganisms that live on and in them.Until recently, scientists thought the symbiotic community within all corals was composed of a single micro-alga of the genus Symbiodinium. But modern genetic tools have revealed that there are hundreds of species of these micro-algae, as well as thousands of species of symbiotic bacteria and other microorganisms. Importantly, some of these microorganisms are more tolerant of the warm, acidic conditions of the future than others are. Gates plans to exploit these differences.For example, it may be possible to improve a coral’s community of micro-algae. As larvae, most corals have none of their own symbionts. Instead, they recruit the Symbiodinium and other microorganisms they need to survive early in their life cycle. This biology may allow researchers to choose which micro-algae the coral will host.“You can insert a symbiont [micro-alga] that’s really tolerant of stress and continues to provide the coral with nutrition through that stress,” Gates says. In other words, scientists may be able to improve the resilience of coral by improving the resilience of its assemblage of microorganisms.Gates and van Oppen also plan to take advantage of the fact that simple microorganisms, such as Symbiodinium, reproduce and evolve very quickly. Using common lab techniques, they may be able to guide that evolution by inducing random mutations into their DNA, then breeding and selecting the new strains for characteristics that will increase the resilience of their host corals.The key to all this — and maybe the reason there has been so little criticism in the scientific community — is that none of what Gates and van Oppen are doing is genetic engineering in the technical sense. They’re not gene-splicing or creating Franken-corals. On the epigenetics side, they’re simply turning on genes that are already present in the coral’s own DNA. Similarly, the symbiotic micro-algae that they’re working with already exist in the corals on the reef. No new genetic material is being introduced. And in the future, when the coral is returned to the wild, it will go back to its home reef.“We’ve been very strong in saying we’re not genetically modifying anything,” Gates says. “All we’re doing is accelerating or assisting evolution.”‘Biological tool box’But Gates isn’t cavalier about the risks. For example, she acknowledges that, however unlikely, it’s possible that these new “super corals” could become invasive or have other unintended consequences. These are issues that environmental managers, policymakers, scientists and the general public will have to discuss, Gates says. But for now, the more urgent goal is for scientists to develop what she calls a “biological tool box” to address the threat that climate change poses for coral reefs. The question of whether to use those tools comes later.“We can often pick holes in potential solutions and have a very nuanced argument about why we shouldn’t do anything,” Gates says. “Or, we can turn the argument on its head and ask, ‘What is the risk of doing nothing?’ The risk of doing nothing is the obliteration of coral reefs worldwide.”– – –Hollier is a Hawaii-based science writer.© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Related posts:Half of marine life wiped out in 40 years: WWF With current rate of climate change, 23 percent of species in South America could face extinction, study finds Google opens online window on toll of climate change Whales under threat as climate change impacts migrationlast_img read more

On first full day in Cuba Obama meets with Castro and will

first_imgRelated posts:US opens greater channels for trade, air links with Cuba Obama to make historic visit to Cuba in March Obama, Castro hail ‘new day’ for US-Cuba relations Obama addresses the Cuban nation in historic Havana visit Facebook Comments HAVANA — President Barack Obama’s historic trip to Cuba officially began Monday as President Raúl Castro greeted him with a military honor guard and the playing of the U.S. and Cuban national anthems at the Revolutionary Palace here.Earlier, Obama stopped at the nearby Plaza of the Revolution, where he laid a wreath at the massive statue of 19th century independence hero José Martí, who gazes pensively down at the place where Fidel Castro later delivered stem-winding speeches denouncing U.S. imperialism.Immediately after the wreath-laying, Obama was mobbed by Cuban and U.S. television reporters standing in the plaza. As he chatted, Secretary of State John Kerry and national security adviser Susan Rice hovered outside the media scrum before a smiling Obama made his way back into his security bubble.He walked, through a stiff breeze under cloudy tropical skies, to the nearby palace. After the official greeting, the two leaders headed to a palm-filled meeting room, where they engaged in animated chatter, through an interpreter, before the doors were closed for what was scheduled to be a two-hour conversation. Later, they will deliver statements at a public appearance together.Unless the Cubans have a change of heart, there will be no joint news conference, despite a last-minute trip here last Friday by Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, to press the matter.Obama’s schedule has taken him into the heart of Cuban government power, where no U.S. president has been before. The Martí monument is in a place as central to modern Cuban history as Moscow’s Red Square is to Russia’s. Over the decades, Soviet tanks and missiles rolled through during military parades, past the giant murals of fallen revolutionary heroes Ernesto “Che”Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. Cuban government workers and students still dutifully file through every May Day.The palace houses the offices of the Cuban president. It is a building that was almost surely targeted for annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, and long after that.Later Monday, Obama will participate in a meeting between U.S. business and Cuban entrepreneurs, held at a cavernous beer brewery along the waterfront of Havana Bay.The place has a clear view of the former Texaco oil refinery, nationalized by the Castro government when its managers refused to process the first shipments of Soviet crude in 1960, setting off a tit-for-tat that ended with the 1960 embargo that Obama now seeks to lift.It was there, in Havana Harbor, where the USS Maine exploded in 1898, launching an American invasion of Spanish-occupied Cuba and the Spanish-American War that briefly turned the island into a U.S. possession.In the evening, Obama will return to the palace for a state dinner hosted by Raúl Castro.On Sunday, rain that started as soon as Air Force One touched down at José Martí International Airport complicated plans for the first family. But Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters plunged ahead, under umbrellas, with an evening tour of Old Havana. They later dined in a paladar, one of the privately owned restaurants the administration is promoting on a trip that is part traditional diplomacy and capitalist boosterism.Speaking to staff members at the U.S. Embassy on Sunday evening, Obama made a point of saying that the children who attended the session embodied the kind of generational shift he hopes will happen in the United States and Cuba in the years to come.“That’s the future that we hope for — young American children, young Cuban children, by the time they’re adults, our hope is that they think it’s natural that a U.S. president should be visiting Cuba, they think it’s natural that the two peoples are working together,” he said.But in the continuing political battles Obama left at home, Republicans who have questioned his rapprochement with Cuba were quick to criticize the trip.Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas, a Cuban-American and one of the top contenders for the GOP presidential nomination this year, wrote in Politico magazine that Obama’s approach is contrary to the strategy that presidents such as Ronald Reagan used to topple dictatorial regimes.“This is why it is so sad, and so injurious to our future as well as Cuba’s, that Obama has chosen to legitimize the corrupt and oppressive Castro regime with his presence on the island,” Cruz wrote.GOP front-runner Donald Trump, who has said he is “fine” with closer Cuba ties, questioned why Castro was not at the airport for Obama’s arrival. “Wow, President Obama just landed in Cuba, a big deal, and Raul Castro wasn’t even there to greet him,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “He greeted Pope and others. No respect.”Although it is not normal diplomatic practice for state visits in most of the world, Castro greeted Pope Francis at the Havana airport when the pontiff made his first visit here in September, just as Obama did when Francis came to Washington days later.Cuban television has covered much of Obama’s visit here live, and news of his arrival was at the top of the website of Granma, the Communist Party paper. In Old Havana, Cubans from the neighborhood and others allowed inside tight security chanted “USA” and cheered him.On Tuesday, Obama will deliver a 40-minute address to the Cuban people, held at the National Theater and expected to be broadcast live here. Later that morning, one of the most tense moments of the visit will come when he is scheduled to hold a private meeting at the embassy with about a dozen of Cuba’s most prominent political dissidents.Video: Obama and Castro meet in Cuba© 2016, The Washington Postlast_img read more

From a Tico Times reader a close encounter of the slothful kind

first_imgRelated posts:VIDEO: Costa Rican sloths to be featured in ‘Sloth Week’ How Buttercup the sloth became a brand ambassador for American Apparel PHOTOS: Every Costa Rica sloth image you will ever need to see PHOTOS: Every Costa Rica sloth image you will ever need to see Mary Lou Hill, an English teacher living near San Ramón, Alajuela, contacted The Tico Times on Monday to tell us this story.“I was just finishing my online English class last night when the internet cable started disappearing into the ceiling,” she wrote. “I hung onto the cable with one hand and dismissed the class. I am sure some of my students heard me shouting for my husband to come and help me wrestle the cable back. This is the friendly, not-so-little, sloth who was playing tug of war with us and the internet cable.”Hill says they eventually won the battle with their well-connected sloth; we’re guessing it was a pretty slow and gentle one. He went happily on his way.Have you had a run-in (although “run” isn’t really the appropriate word here) with one of these guys? Tell us your story – and if you’re fully sloth-obsessed, be sure to follow The Tico Times’ Sloth Kong page. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

The Tico Times Dispatch Whats in Costa Ricas taxreform bill

first_imgRelated posts:The Tico Times Dispatch: An interview with journalist and economist David Ching Listen to our new podcast: The Tico Times Dispatch The Tico Times Dispatch: Figuring out and fighting street harassment in Costa Rica The Tico Times Dispatch: March news roundup Facebook Comments The streets of Costa Rica have been bogged down by protests since Sept. 10, when public-sector unions called for a general strike to oppose a proposed tax-reform bill.Public sector unions say the bill, which raises taxes on everyone and cuts benefits to public employees, puts too much of a burden on the working class. The government says 80 percent of the new taxes come from the top 20 percent of Costa Rican earners.In this episode of The Tico Times Dispatch, we interview Costa Rican journalist and economist David Ching to find out what’s in the bill:You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast on: iTunesStitcher: Google Play: last_img read more

Bangladesh passes law for closer Grameen oversight

first_img Comments   Share   Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Sponsored Stories Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The law was passed late Tuesday with a voice vote in parliament after getting approval last month by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who has frosty relations with Yunus.A government-led investigation found that Grameen Bank violated its charter as a microlender by creating affiliates that did not benefit the bank’s shareholders.Yunus was ousted as managing director in 2011 after the High Court ruled the 73-year-old violated retirement laws by serving beyond the age of 60. He has repeatedly accused the government of trying to “destroy” the bank, but authorities deny the allegations.In a statement Wednesday, Yunus said a “great global iconic institution” was being brutalized by the government.“Grameen Bank was created as a bank owned by poor women, and managed by poor women. Its legal structure did not allow any government interference of any kind, except for regulatory oversight,” he said.Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith has pledged that Grameen would be better run in the absence of Yunus.The new law gives Bangladesh Bank broad powers over Grameen that are similar to the central bank’s authority over regular banks.From now on Grameen must consult with the government over any major policy decision. Its 12-member board previously enjoyed broad authority to run Grameen. The legislation also specifies 60 as the retirement age for Grameen’s managing director and requires the bank to be audited regularly and the audit reports submitted to parliament. DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) – Bangladesh passed a law bringing the pioneering Grameen Bank under closer central bank supervision, a move bitterly opposed by its founder Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus who warns of a government takeover of an institution lauded for alleviating poverty.Grameen was a trail blazer in extending small loans to the poor denied access to regular bank credit, earning it and Yunus the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. It has about 9 million borrowers, mostly women, who use the loans to start or expand small businesses. But Yunus and the government have been at odds for several years over the running of the bank and Yunus’ failed effort to launch a political party when Bangladesh was under a state of emergency in 2006-2008. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 The law permits Grameen to increase its capital while the government’s share of 25 percent remains unchanged. Borrowers will own 75 percent of the bank as before.It has not increased the number of directors _ three appointed by the government and the rest by shareholders. The tenure of directors will be three years while previously there was no limit.In September, the government accused Yunus of evading tax on overseas income, including from book royalties, speeches at conferences and numerous awards. Yunus says he has always acted lawfully. His supporters say the allegations are politically motivated.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

Canada tries to stop release of exGitmo inmate Omar Khadr

first_imgToronto-born Khadr spent a decade in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Since 2012 he’s been held in a Canadian prison in the western province of Alberta, serving out an eight-year sentence handed down by a U.S. military commission in 2010. He was convicted of five war crimes, including throwing a grenade when he was 15 years old that killed a U.S. Army sergeant in Afghanistan during a 2002 firefight.Khadr, once the youngest detainee at Guantanamo and now 28, has since said he only agreed to a 2010 plea deal to get out of Guantanamo and return to Canada.Canada’s government said that granting bail to Khadr would threaten the entire system of international prisoner transfers.“A lack of clarity in the international transfer process may jeopardize the system as a whole,” the government stated in documents obtained by The Canadian Press. “(Khadr’s) release unsettles the foundation of this system by introducing uncertainty and a lack of control over the manner in which Canadian offenders’ sentences are enforced.”The government argues that allowing Khadr out — given his long incarceration — presents an unprecedented risk to the public. 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ottawa maintains that Ross had no jurisdiction to hear Khadr’s bail application under the provisions of the International Transfer of Offenders Act — the treaty that allowed his return to Canada. Canada’s government argued Ross gave “short shrift” to Canada’s “real and consequential” international obligations and she was wrong to find that the right to seek bail pending appeal is a constitutionally guaranteed “principle of fundamental justice.”Canada said allowing Khadr out on bail could jeopardize the repatriation of other Canadian prisoners and damage Ottawa’s relations with Washington.But the U.S. State Department said in a statement to CBC Monday that releasing Khadr on bail would not strain Canada-U.S. relations.Defense attorneys say Khadr was pushed into war by his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, an alleged al-Qaida financier whose family stayed with Osama bin Laden briefly when Omar Khadr was a boy. His Egyptian-born father was killed in 2003 in a Pakistani military operation.Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has long refused to support Omar Khadr, reflecting ambivalence in Canada over the Khadr family. Top Stories Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The Canadian government was in court Tuesday morning seeking to block the release on bail of a former Guantanamo Bay inmate while he appeals his conviction for war crimes in the United States.Omar Khadr’s release from prison could come as early as Tuesday evening if Ottawa’s 11th-hour attempt to stop it fails. The government filed a request seeking an emergency stay of a judge’s decision to grant bail late Monday. “Springing (him) into the community rather than allowing him to continue his planned reintegration poses an undue risk,” the government stated. It notes he has applied for parole in June.In response, Khadr’s lawyers said the government’s case for a stay was weak.For one thing, they said, the government acknowledges Khadr’s case is unique and will have little or no effect on other prison transfers.“The onus is on the (Crown) to establish that irreparable harm will actually occur if a stay is not granted,” they stated in their reply brief.On Monday, the government also filed its formal notice of appeal of the April 24 decision granting Khadr bail by Justice June Ross of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.The last-ditch stay application, slated to be heard by a single Court of Appeal justice on Tuesday morning, says the government “will suffer irreparable harm” if Khadr is released.In a statement, a Khadr support group denounced the government’s “unrelenting vilification” of the prisoner and its “knee-jerk” appeal of every court decision favorable to him.“The rights, freedom and liberties of all Canadians are diminished by the actions of this government,” Free Omar Khadr Now said. How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationlast_img read more

Top doctors prescription for feverish planet Cut out coal

first_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Comments   Share   4 must play golf courses in Arizona Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Parents, stop beating yourself up But Harvard School of Public Health epidemiologist Joel Schwartz called the Lancet study’s coal phase-out “a reasonable prescription for planet Earth. Burning coal has terrible health effects, is bad for global warming and it is destructive of the ecosystem.”___Online:The Lancet: http://www.thelancet.com/commissions/climate-change___Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbearsCopyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. It’s like a cigarette smoker with lung problems: Doctors can treat the disease, but the first thing that has to be done is to get the patient to stop smoking, or in this case get off coal in the next five years, commission officials said in interviews.“The prescription for patient Earth is that we’ve got a limited amount of time to fix things,” said commission co-chairman Dr. Anthony Costello, a pediatrician and director of the Global Health Institute at the University College of London. “We’ve got a real challenge particularly with carbon pollution.”He called it a “medical emergency” that could eventually dwarf the deadly toll of HIV in the 1980s. He and others said burning coal does more than warm the Earth, but causes even more deaths from other types of air pollution that hurt people’s breathing and hearts.Unlike its earlier report in 2009, which laid out the health problems of climate change, this report was more about what can be done to improve the planet’s health. It calls for cutting air pollution, more walking and cycling and less driving, better urban design, putting a price on the cost of each ton of carbon being used, improved health care planning for extreme weather and every two year check-ups on how the world is doing to get healthier.center_img WASHINGTON (AP) — Some top international doctors and public health experts have issued an urgent prescription for a feverish planet Earth: Get off coal as soon as possible.Substituting cleaner energy worldwide for coal will reduce air pollution and give Earth a better chance at avoiding dangerous climate change, recommended a global health commission organized by the prestigious British medical journal Lancet. The panel said hundreds of thousands of lives each year are at stake and global warming “threatens to undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health.” “Virtually everything that you want to do to tackle climate change has health benefits,” Costello said. “We’re going to cut heart attacks, strokes, diabetes.”The Lancet commission report came out days after an impassioned plea to fight global warming by Pope Francis and hours after the President Barack Obama’s administration issued a report emphasizing the costs of inaction on climate change and the benefits of doing something now. The Obama administration said if nothing is done, at the turn of the next century about 57,000 Americans will die each year from polluted air and at least another 12,000 yearly from extreme temperatures.“Obama is not a doctor; people trust doctors more,” Costello said.In a companion posting in Lancet, World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan also compares fighting climate change to fighting smoking and saving lives. Both Chan and the Lancet commission quote WHO studies that say by 2030 climate change would “be likely to cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year” around the world.Poverty is the main problem and burning coal to produce electricity helps fight that, said National Mining Association spokesman Luke Popovich. He said, “it makes far more sense to support the technologies that make coal cleaner to use than to support policies that would deny its use to those who rightfully want the comforts of civilization.” Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Top Stories last_img read more

Getaway Lounge point of difference in market

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: Natalie Aroyan Speaking exclusively to e-Travel Blackboard last week, Getaway Lounge CEO, Timothy Hughes, shared the concept behind the latest website to hit the online travel scene. Whilst offering similarities to the now famous group deal websites in the marketplace, this new venture offers a third tier to the current online travel offering, brand awareness.“We’re loving the fact that we can take an offline brand and truly bring it online. We’ve adopted this new model that allows suppliers to do direct marketing to customers in a very different way,” Mr Hughes said. Designed as an “inspiration channel”, Getaway Lounge offers hoteliers an unprecedented marketing platform to source new clientele. With splashy images and the added benefit of coverage on the Nine Network’s ‘Getaway’ program, clients are encouraged to promote their brand with consumer contact required in order to fulfill the booking phase. “For hoteliers we’re not the place to go for volume, we’re the place to come for a balance of sales, brand exposure and customer acquisition.”With more than 20,000 subscribers in 3 weeks, Mr Hughes is positive that whilst the only deals offered currently are for international hotels, the offering may expand to cruising and alternative travel offerings. In a bid to protect other sales channels, Getaway Lounge is only accessible via password which can be obtained either by ‘liking’ their Facebook page, watching ‘Getaway’ or the segment on the ‘Today Show’ or by receiving an invitation from someone who has access to the site.Inbound calls will be accepted within the week to further enhance consumer interaction on a more personal level.Click here to watch the videolast_img read more