Golden Gate Bridge preps for big party with new offerings

first_imgNew views, a museum store, guided public tours, interpretive exhibits and even a new menu became available this week for Golden Gate Bridge visitors in the lead up to the iconic landmark’s 75th anniversary. In an effort to enhance the ‘Golden Gate Bridge visitor experience’, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (in cooperation with the National Park Service, Presidio Trust, and the City & County of San Francisco) have introduced new amenities for visitors:The Bridge Pavilion This ‘green’ building, in the renovated Bridge Plaza, will welcome visitors with bridge artifacts, exhibits and a museum store. Open daily 9.00am to 7.00pm.The Art Deco Round House Here, visitors can sign up for 45- or 60-minute guided walking tours on the Bridge, including newly introduced night tours. Tours run daily spring through fall.Adult ticket prices start at US$12.95 per person.The Bridge Photo ExperienceLocated in the Art Deco Round House, visitors can take a virtual photo of themselves in “daring Bridge backdrops”, such as the top of the Bridge Tower. Experience photos are available daily.Package cost is US$20 per person plus tax.Golden Gate National Parks enhancementsImprovements include:enhancements to the Coastal and Bay trails; improved bicycle access to the Bridge; creation of the new Golden Gate Overlook in the Presidio; and new way-finding and interpretive signage to encourage appreciation and exploration of the national parklands on both sides of the span.A new menuAs part of the National Park Service’s ‘Healthy Parks, Healthy People’ initiative, a new menu in the Bridge Café offers healthy, affordable snacks featuring locally-sourced and sustainable ingredients.GoGGBridge appThis app is packed with maps, tips, and fun facts allowing visitors to prepare for their trip to the Bridge ahead of time.Available for iPhone and coming soon for Android devices. “These visitor services improvements are unprecedented in the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75-year history,” Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy president Greg Mooresaid. “While the incredible views of the surrounding national parklands and the experience of walking, biking or driving across the Bridge have always been among the ‘musts’ of any San Francisco visit, until now visitors did not get a chance to experience and connect with the historical, cultural, and human context behind this incredible monument.” Golden Gate Bridge Sunset from Bridge Pavilion, photo by Della Huff Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.Alast_img read more

NZ banks on domestic travellers TIA

first_imgGrant Lilly, TIA NZ Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Domestic travel is an essential component of the New Zealand travel industry, according to the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA).Domestic travellers made up 57 percent of New Zealand’s total annual tourism spend, equating to more than $13 billion per year.“New Zealanders travelling in New Zealand are our industry’s banker market. Many of the New Zealand Exhibitors at TRENZ have become export ready by serving the needs of domestic visitors,” TIA Interim chief executive Grant Lilly said.In collaboration with AA Tourism, TIA released the results of the ‘AA Mood of the New Zealand Traveller’ report at TRENZ in Queenstown earlier this month.“While the focus at TRENZ 2012 is very much on growing our international tourism market, domestic tourism should never be overlooked,” Mr Lilly said.“AA has long championed the value of holidaying at home – if it’s good enough for 2.6 million international visitors; it’s certainly good enough for us!” AA Tourism chief Peter Blackwell said.Financial confines remain an issue for more than 74 percent of Kiwi’s wishing to travel more, followed by work commitments at 44 percent.“Kiwis expect to take an average of 2.3 overnight trips within New Zealand in the next six months. However, during this same time period 69 percent of us would like to travel around New Zealand more than we are currently planning to, suggesting that more affordable or flexible travel and holidaying options that fit in with busy lives may be appealing,” Colmar Brunton spokesperson said.Other survey results revealed Wellington to be the most popular domestic destination for New Zealanders, followed by Auckland and then Queenstown.In addition, 62 percent of Kiwi’s preferred to book holidays online via a third party website, while 51 percent like to book online or use email to book directly with the accommodation provider. last_img read more

Experienced Consultant Award relaunched

first_imgSource = ATTTO A popular programme that enabled highly experienced senior travel consultants to achieve nationally recognised qualifications has been re-launched today.Following on from the successful launch earlier this year, the Experienced Consultant programme, offers a straight-forward path for people with ten or more years’ experience in the travel industry to complete the National Certificate in Travel (Level 4). ATTTO has decided to re-offer this programme until March 2013. So far, more than 230 people have achieved the qualification.Kathy Wolfe, Chief Executive of ATTTO said: “This qualification pathway is ideal for busy senior consultants, who have a lot of experience and knowledge but don’t have the qualifications behind them to endorse their skills.“Programmes such as this are designed to be completed in the workplace, with consultants collecting evidence of their knowledge and the work they do in their jobs every day and using this towards achieving the qualification.” Completion of the Travel (Level 4) qualification contributes to meeting the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) bonding and membership requirements.Andrew Olsen, Chief Executive of TAANZ, was instrumental in the implementation of the Award and has worked with ATTTO and members of TAANZ and the travel industry to promote the initiative. He said: “Members of TAANZ are acutely aware of the need to meet the Association’s accreditation requirements, but just as importantly, that members of the public take assurance from the knowledge that agents with whom they are dealing are trained and recognised to be so, through national qualifications.”last_img read more

Worlds longest A380 flight

first_imgThe launch of the daily A380 service is a direct response to demand, with over one million Emirates passengers travelling between LAX and Dubai, and has been a welcome addition to LAX as the airport continues its US $4.1 billion modernisation program. The world’s longest flight by Emirates will operate daily as EK216, departing LAX at 1600hrs and arriving in Dubai at 1950hrs the following day, with EK215 departing Dubai at 0820hrs arriving at LAX at 1250hrs the same day. “Bringing the glamorous A380 set of wings to the City of Angels seemed like a natural fit as this aircraft mirrors the luxury of the Hollywood lifestyle,” Emirates divisional senior vice president of commercial operations west Hubert Frach said. The route, which flies over Eastern Canada, the North Pole and Russia, has recorded a flight duration time of 16 hours and 20 minutes, confirming it as the longest A380 flight in the world. “The new Tom Bradley International Terminal will more than double in size and Emirates passengers will experience a whole new level of convenience and service when we continue opening several of the 18 new gates and nearly 14,000 square meters of premium retail, dining and other amenities for travellers,” Los Angeles World Airports executive director Gina Marie Lindsay said. Emirates Airlines has launched a new daily service between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Dubai International Airport, making it the airline’s longest Airbus A380 flight. Source = ETB News: L.B.last_img read more

Record numbers of tourists say gday to Australia

first_img“Arrivals from Malaysia were up by 40 per cent and from Hong Kong and Singapore by 26 per cent each.” The January 2014 figure is 8.7 per cent higher than the same time last year due to large numbers of visitors from New Zealand, China and the UK. “The largest growth in short-term visitor arrivals over the past year was from Asia,” ABS spokesperson Denise Carlton said. According to recently released Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures, there were 560,000 short term visitors who arrived in Australia during January 2014, despite a seasonally adjusted drop of 2.7 per cent. Foreign tourists are visiting Australia in greater numbers than ever before, with South-East Asia providing strong growth.center_img The 2.7 per cent figure draws a more accurate picture of the overall trends because it removes seasonal variations. Short term departures also decreased during January 2014, with a drop of 1.7 per cent to 751,800, following a 4.3 per cent increase in December 2013.  Source = ETB News: T.N.last_img read more

Two new ships ordered for Celebrity Cruises

first_imgCelebrity Cruises has signed a letter of intent for a new class of vessels, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and French shipbuilder STX France announced today.Two 2,900 guest, 117,000 gross registered ton ships, will be developed under the project name EDGE in order to build upon the modern luxury experience of the brand’s Millennium and Solstice class vessels.At 984 feet long, 123 feet wide and 190 feet high, Project EDGE will deliver small ship itineraries with large ship amenities.Royal Caribbean Cruises chairman and chief executive officer Richard Fain, said that these two new additions follow the company’s long term strategy.“The addition of two project EDGE vessels to our fleet delivers on our long-term strategic plan of moderate capacity growth, and continues the positive momentum the Celebrity brand has achieved in the premium segment of our industry,” Mr Fain said.These vessels also represent a significant leap forward in environmentally friendly ship design, benefiting from new technologies to drive significant fuel efficiency and an ongoing process to ensure the extensive use of sustainable materials.STX France managing director Laurent Castaing, said that the ships are innovative and STX France are excited to be a part of the collaboration.“We are excited to be collaborating with Celebrity on this dramatic step forward in premium cruise ship design, this class of ships will be designed to deliver the destination to vacationers who want to experience all the world has to offer,” Mr Castaing said.The company expects delivery of the first ship in Fall 2018, with the second vessel delivered in the early part of 2020, the order is contingent upon the completion of customary conditions, including financing.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

Etihad Airways marks growth in India with record passenger figures

first_imgEtihad Airways marks growth in India with record passenger figuresEtihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, today announced a 63 per cent increase in full-year passenger traffic with partner Jet Airways to and from India reinforcing the strength of the equity tie-up and the airline’s commitment to one of world’s largest travel markets.Together, the airlines carried a record 3.3 million passengers between Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub and India in 2015, representing a sharp rise on the 2 million flown during the previous 12 months.Etihad Airways became the first foreign airline to invest in an Indian carrier under the current Indian Foreign Direct Investment Rules when it invested USD 750 million in Jet Airways for a 24 per cent equity stake in 2013. Etihad Airways today operates 175 flights each week to and from 11 Indian gateway cities. The combined networks of Etihad Airways and Jet Airways offer over 250 weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and 15 cities across India.Together, both carriers are the market leader in terms of travel between India and the UAE. In terms of the overall international market, they fly between them approximately 20 per cent of all worldwide travellers to and from India representing a large share of the country’s booming air travel industry.In addition, Etihad Airways Cargo operates 14 weekly freighters to four cities in India and flies around 120,000 tons of cargo each year in and out of the country – representing around nine per cent of the total international market.The figures underscore the importance Etihad Airways places to the Indian market – one of the airline’s largest sources of business – to its close partnership with Jet Airways, and reaffirm the strong ties between the UAE and India.It is the growing bilateral relationship enjoyed between the two nations that was the focus of joint government discussions in Mumbai and Delhi last week which resulted in a raft of new agreements across various sectors to further boost strategic ties and economic trade.Trade between the two countries is estimated to grow by more than 60 per cent in the next five years from the current level of around US$60 billion, with investments and imports/exports in a variety of sectors, including energy, defence, manufacturing, aerospace, health, education, tourism, science and technology. The UAE is the 10thbiggest foreign – and largest Arab – investor in India.James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Bilateral relations between the UAE and India continue to grow based on years of friendship and deep commitment to strengthen economic, cultural and trade ties.“With Etihad Airways and Jet Airways together offering over 44,000 seats each week between Abu Dhabi and India, we are clearly are a key contributor to India’s dynamic economy. There is further room to grow and we are looking at the many opportunities that exist to develop our operations.“Our investment in Jet Airways was aimed at being part of the Indian success story. Before the Jet deal, Etihad Airways carried only two per cent of the international traffic to and from India. We have helped bring Jet Airways back to profitability. Today, Jet Airways is our number one equity partner for revenue and passenger contribution on Etihad Airways, and India is Abu Dhabi’s number one source market for international visitors.”Etihad Airways’ hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport serves as a primary connector of air travel between India and rest of the world, offering consumers ease of transfer and more travel options through multiple frequencies from across India to Abu Dhabi and beyond.” Fly Etihad AirwaysSource = Etihad Airwayslast_img read more

Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas to open first city hotels

first_imgSix Senses Hotels Resorts Spas to open first city hotelsSix Senses Hotels Resorts Spas has given two old beauties a complete restoration as part of a remarkable conservation project in Singapore. Ideally situated in the island city-state’s central district, the project is located in the eclectic heart of Chinatown where socialising, dining and nightlife take center stage.Six Senses Singapore is split across two buildings that are an easy wander apart. Six Senses Duxtonand Six Senses Maxwell will mark the brand’s first city hotels, celebrating local Singapore culture and history while adding a touch of playfulness to the heritage properties. There is a diverse mix of Chinese, Malay and European elements in the buildings including neo-classical lion head motifs, Chinese porcelain-chip friezes co-existing with Malay timber fretwork, French windows, Portuguese shutters and Corinthian pilasters. Guests can make full use of all facilities and outstanding service in both, as well as the rich local community in between. No matter where you sleep, guests can sign for services at either hotel and will consider both locations – their home away from home.Along with always infusing a touch of quirkiness into each property, a priority for Six Senses is its commitment to authenticity and responsible preservation. In recognition of this, both properties have received the Urban Redevelopment Authority Architectural Heritage Award. Six Senses Duxton is due to open in April 2018, followed by Six Senses Maxwell three months later.““Such unique properties do not come to market often and we are delighted to be working with Satinder Garcha and Harpreet Bedi of Garcha Hotels on this project,”” said Six Senses Chief Executive Officer Neil Jacobs. “”The buildings will be the last heritage hotels of this quality to be developed in Singapore. Each building has its own distinct personality, but what makes Six Senses Singapore so special is that guests can enjoy all the offerings of both locations plus the neighborhood when staying with us . It’s all about community and being part of the rich, local culture of Singapore.””Six Senses DuxtonWith its colourful past, Duxton Road in old Chinatown’’s Tanjong Pagar, is also known as Jinrickshaw Place named after the rickshaw pullers who used to gather by the station. In the not-so-recent-past, this colorful section of town was home to opium and gambling dens and places of even less reputable vices. Today the site features a row of trading houses that have been sustainably restored under the designer Anoushka Hempel, acclaimed for her Hempel and Blake’s hotels in London.In harmony with a rich Asian history, yet still presenting her luminary vision, Anoushka has given each of the 49 guestrooms and suites a unique individuality so that no two are exactly the same. Guests are in for an eccentric, elegant surprise as they enter the hotel which includes large golden fans and strong hues of black, gold and yellow, layered with Oriental screens and calligraphy wallpaper from Anoushka’s personal collection.Gold takes centre stage in the restaurant, which will offer a fine dining menu of classic and innovative Chinese cuisine. Adjacent is an antiquarian library themed lobby bar serving up the hotel’s signature Yellow Peril house cocktail of hot whiskey, brandy and absinth, crowned with a yellow chrysanthemum.With Singapore being Asia’’s crossroads and interchange to the world, Anoushka has worked within the restrictions of a heritage building and variations of room size to successfully express her vision throughout the hotel. From a magnificent Kimono Suite to smaller spaces that she refers to as petit grandeur, elegant bespoke furnishings and the designer ambience typify the experience in every way.A property highlight is the appointment of a traditional Chinese doctor offering readings, health recommendations and a medicinal herbal dispensary.Six Senses MaxwellMaxwell Road was originally a nutmeg plantation before 14 three- and four-story colonial-style buildings were constructed and later joined together as a single entity. The diverse characteristics have been carefully conserved and the property features 138 guestrooms and suites, a Six Senses Spa, outdoor lap pool, Champagne bar and lounge, whiskey bar, boardroom and club lounge. A verandah lined with lush tropical foliage follows the length of the building and will be the ideal spot to meet for refreshments and alfresco dining.The interior design is by French architect and designer Jacques Garcia. It reflects the authentic decor and furnishings of the era in which it was built, but with a stylish modern twist. Jacques has infused a Western sensibility along with a timeless ambience, as he has done with La Mamounia in Marrakesh, Hotel Costes in Paris and NoMad in New York.His attention to detail is showcased throughout the 50 unique room types, from the brass, lacquer and marble mini bars to the handmade Lafroy Brooks bathroom fixtures. All rooms feature handmade mattresses by Naturalmat and organic bed linens to support Sleep With Six Senses, a key pillar of the group’s Integrated Wellness philosophy.Special looms were constructed to hand weave 13 x 20-foot (4 x6-meter) silk rugs for the public areas of the hotel. The interior spaces, which are all different, meld together in respect of the architectural styles of the original buildings and add to the hotel’s charm.Colonial meets modern Europe in the restaurant, where the mouthwateringly indulgent yet health-full menus represent the brand’s pioneering approach to fresh, local and seasonal food and drink: Eat With Six Senses. Six Senses Spa will offer specialty treatments while the external lap pool offers a refreshing escape to complement Singapore’s tropical weather.In addition to the environmental considerations implemented in the redevelopment of both properties, the hotel will also participate in a program that will make them carbon-free after purchasing United Nations-certified carbon credits, while standing to save up to 20 percent in energy costs. This continued focus on sustainable practices is also evident in the seven new resorts and two further spas opening under the Six Senses brand from now until early 2019  -– watch this space!Source = Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spaslast_img read more

Helitourism to take off in Karnataka to lure more tourists

first_imgKarnataka has finally realised its dream of developing heli-tourism. In a fresh bid to capitalise on the potential of helicopter tourism, the government is working on several initiatives, including dedicated helipads and separate helicopter corridors by involving private players. The government hopes the plan will give an impetus to infrastructure development in a state where land is at a premium and road development is often mired in land acquisition problems.“With the increase in foreign and domestic tourists to Karnataka every year and analyzing the age and income profiles of tourists, there’s immense potential for heli-tourism. With the improvement in connectivity, we hope to see a rise in their visits,” said Pradeep Singh Kharola, Additional Chief Secretary, Tourism Department.The government has identified three circuits to begin with where transport infrastructure is weak viz. Coastal, Heritage and Malnad circuits comprising major tourist and pilgrim centres, with plans for further developments. Tourism experts have also pointed out that helicopters will be useful in medical emergencies, accidents and evacuations.last_img read more

Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort Spa and TRS Coral Hotel is now

first_imgPalladium Hotel Group celebrated the official opening of its two new resorts, TRS Coral Hotel and Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa, located in Costa Mujeres, north of Cancun, Mexico. The resorts house a one-of-a-kind ‘Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre’ that was officially inaugurated by the legendary tennis player Rafael Nadal himself alongside Abel Matutes, CEO of Palladium Hotel Group.“This is the first tennis complex that we opened outside the ‘Rafa Nadal Academy’ in Mallorca and I am very excited to be able to do so in a compound as incredible as this. The Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre will be the ideal place for fans of this sport to combine their holidays with short tennis programmes and I am positive about its stupendous success,” stated Rafa Nadal during the press conference.“The alliance of Palladium Hotel Group with Rafa Nadal for the launch of Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre is further evidence that the company has long focused on achieving differentiation while being the best in its offering. Our brand Grand Palladium Hotels & Resorts has always given much importance to sport and effectively enhancing sports facilities. Having the opportunity to work with Rafa Nadal is a source of pride, as he is not only the best tennis player but the values he represents, transmits and inculcates are impeccable,” added Abel Matutes, CEO, Palladium Hotel Group.The Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre Costa Mujeres offers tennis programmes developed by Nadal and his technical team for all levels and ages, which will be taught to both hotel guests and local residents. Each tennis programme is personalised and run by coaches from the Rafa Nadal Academy of Movistar. With eight clay tennis courts, a football field, a paddle tennis court, a gym for warm-up, stretching and basic training, a Rafa Nadal exhibition area, a shop with exclusive top quality sports products and a bar-cafeteria with television screens, the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre Costa Mujeres is one of the most complete tennis facilities in Mexico.last_img read more

Vistara crowned Best Airline – India and Best Regional Airline – Asia

first_imgVistara has been awarded the titles ‘Best Airline – India’ and ‘Best Regional Airline – Asia’ in the third edition of TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2019 for Airlines. The accolades come to Vistara from TripAdvisor for the second year in a row.TripAdvisor has awarded the world’s top carriers based on the quantity, quality of reviews and ratings for airlines by TripAdvisor flyers, gathered over a 12-month period.TripAdvisor’s President – Flights, Cruise and Car, Bryan Saltzburg and Country Manager – India, Nikhil Ganju, presented the awards to Team Vistara, including Vistara’s Chief Executive Officer Leslie Thng, Chief Strategy & Commercial Officer, Sanjiv Kapoor and representatives of the airline’s cabin crew and ground services staff who earn such laurels for Vistara.Leslie Thng, Chief Executive Officer of Vistara said, “We are delighted to receive the awards from TripAdvisor. These awards truly testify the dedication and commitment of our staff across the country to deliver a seamless, world-class experience with a touch of intuitive thoughtfulness to millions of our customers. We take this opportunity to also thank our customers who found Vistara worth the valuable time they spared to submit their reviews and ratings in our favour on TripAdvisor. We assure our customers that we’ll continue to invest in making air travel experience with Vistara that which they always look forward to.”“Congratulations to Vistara for being named a Travellers’ Choice Airlines winner again this year. The awards recognise travellers’ favourite airlines worldwide based on reviews and ratings from our global community,” said Bryan Saltzburg, President of TripAdvisor Flights, Cruise and Car. “This accolade from consumers is a testament to Vistara’s outstanding service, world-renowned quality and great value.”last_img read more

Homebuilder Confidence Climbs for Fourth Straight Month NAHB

first_img January 18, 2012 436 Views in Data, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Confidence among homebuilders for new single-family homes climbed for the fourth straight month in January, as a pickup in housing starts and sales continued seemingly unabated.[IMAGE]The “”National Association of Home Builders””: (NAHB) reported the figures Wednesday in a Housing Market Index it released in collaboration with Wells Fargo.The results: Homebuilder confidence escalated to the highest level seen since June 2007, ascending by four points to crest at 25 on the index.””Builder confidence has now risen four months in a row, with the latest uptick being universally represented across every index component and region,”” NAHB chairman Bob Nielsen said in a statement.He credited results with gains in single-family housing starts [COLUMN_BREAK]for the last several months, describing it as “”yet another indication of the gradual but steady improvement that is beginning to take hold in an increasing number of housing markets nationwide.””The index offered gains for the fourth straight month, with indices measuring sales expectations on their way up by three points to 29 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the highest since September 2009.Prospective buyer traffic meanwhile also posted increases by three points to 21, the highest since June 2007.Regionally, the index revealed that confidence went up the Northeast by nine points to hit 23. The West delivered five points by rising to 21, while the South climbed two by reaching 27. Only the Midwest ticked up by one point to achieve 24 on the index.The gains show nonetheless show that homebuilders still see housing conditions somewhat poorly rather than anywhere near good. The NAHB said that anything below 50 for the index translates to a rather poor sentiment among homebuilders.David Crowe, chief economist with NAHB, said in the statement that “”caution remains the word of the day as many builders continue to voice concerns about potential clients being unable to qualify for an affordable mortgage, appraisals coming through below construction cost, and the continuing flow of foreclosed properties hitting the market.”” Added Nielsen: “”Policymakers must now take every precaution to avoid derailing this nascent recovery.”” Homebuilder Confidence Climbs for Fourth Straight Month: NAHBcenter_img Agents & Brokers Confidence Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers National Association of Home Builders Processing Service Providers Wells Fargo 2012-01-18 Ryan Schuette Sharelast_img read more

Mortgage Rates Jump on BetterthanExpected Economic News

first_img Unexpectedly positive employment and spending data drove mortgage rates to their highest level since August in the last week, according to reports from “”Freddie Mac””: and “”””:[IMAGE]Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) rose to 3.63 percent (0.8 point) for the week ending March 14, up from 3.52 percent last week. According to the GSE’s data, the last time the 30-year rate was this high was the week of August 23, 2012.Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.92 percent.The 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.79 percent (0.8 point), up from 2.76 percent previously.Movements in adjustable rates were mixed. The 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.61 percent (0.6 point), making it the only measure to see a decline (last week’s average was 2.63 percent). The 1-year ARM averaged 2.64 percent (0.4 point), up from 2.63 percent.””Fixed mortgage rates rose this week on stronger signs of jobs growth and consumer spending,”” said Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist for Freddie Mac. “”The economy added 236,000 new workers in February which helped push down the “”unemployment rate””: to 7.7 percent. This helped offset the effects of the payroll tax holiday expiration and led to a 1.1 percent increase in “”retail sales””:, which was well above the market consensus forecast.””Bankrate reported even more dramatic shifts this week, with the 30-year fixed average climbing 12 basis points to 3.85 percent, the 15-year fixed moving up 7 basis points to 3.03 percent, and the 5/1 ARM rocketing 14 points to 2.82 percent.””Mortgage rates jumped to a 7-month high following a report of robust job growth and encouraging economic data on business investment and retail sales. The benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate, now at 3.85 percent, is the highest since it was 3.91 percent on Aug. 22, 2012,”” Bankrate said in a release. “”Positive economic news leads to higher bond yields, as evidenced by the 10-year Treasury note climbing back above the 2 percent threshold.””For the next week, 55 percent of “”panelists surveyed””: by Bankrate expect rates will continue to climb. How long that momentum will continue, however, is anybody’s guess.””Mortgage rates are notching higher following last week’s employment report, and the trend may continue a while longer,”” said Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst for Bankrate. “”But a pullback in the stock market is inevitable and will lead to lower bond yields and mortgage rates when it happens.”” Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bankrate Consumer spending Freddie Mac Investors Jobs Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Service Providers Unemployment 2013-03-14 Tory Barringer March 14, 2013 460 Views Mortgage Rates Jump on Better-than-Expected Economic Newscenter_img in Origination Sharelast_img read more

Report Home Prices 3 Undervalued Nationally

first_img Share Report: Home Prices 3% Undervalued Nationally October 6, 2014 508 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Newscenter_img Home Prices Home Values Housing Bubble Trulia 2014-10-06 Tory Barringer Despite inching closing to the tipping point, home prices still haven’t reached a stage where fears of a bubble are justified, says Trulia.The company recently released its third quarter Bubble Watch report, which measures whether home prices are over- or undervalued relative to their fundamental value. Comparing current movements to long-term trends, the report suggests home prices nationally remain 3 percent undervalued, a step up from 5 percent in the second quarter.During the housing bubble of the last decade, house prices surged to 34 percent overvaluation at their peak (in Q1 2006) before diving to 13 percent undervaluation in their trough (Q1 2012).As of the third quarter, seven of the nation’s top 100 markets were more than 10 percent overvalued, five of which are located in the inventory-starved state of California. The top overvalued market at the moment is Austin (19 percent overvalued), which—like most Texas metros—avoided the worst of the crash and has actually bounced back higher than it was in 2006.On the other hand, while a number of California’s major markets—Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Riverside-San Bernardino, San Jose, and Oakland—are high on the list of overvalued metros, they’re all still well short of the peaks they hit during the last bubble.What’s more, a scatterplot measure of annual price changes (as of August) suggests little relationship between the most overvalued markets and the markets where prices are rising fastest—a positive sign, says Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko.”Price gains in overvalued markets are a sign that we’re headed for danger, while price gains in undervalued markets are probably just a sign of getting back toward normal,” he said.He concluded: “All this means that bubbles should not be our top housing worry today. Our latest Housing Barometer shows that weak construction and subpar young-adult employment are the recovery’s big red flags. By contrast, prices are slowing to a sustainable pace and staying within striking distance of normal.”last_img read more

Are Thriving Housing Markets Moving East

first_img August 1, 2016 594 Views Share Are Thriving Housing Markets Moving East? Housing Markets Pro Teck Home Value Forecast 2016-08-01 Seth Welborncenter_img Most housing reports find that the markets with the most activity are located in the West. While Pro Teck Valuation Services’ latest Home Value Forecast did find that nine of the top 10 markets were located either on the West Coast or in Western States, there was one surprise from the East on the list—Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina.According to Pro Teck, the “Research Triangle” area of North Carolina boasts several attributes that create a thriving housing market, such as a nearby university (University of North Carolina), and many high tech, medical, and banking industry companies who have moved into the area and employ UNC grads.“There’s a reason why the Research Triangle is known as the land of tees, trees and PhDs,” said Tom O’Grady, CEO of Pro Teck Valuation Services. “In years past, one would have to move to the Northeast to find high tech careers. Today, companies have moved to where employees can enjoy all that comes with living in the North Carolina countryside.”Fundamendals have drivin the housing market in Durham-Chapel Hill, which has not experienced the same extreme price swings as other markets. Home price versus employment for Durham-Chapel Hill generally correlate with each other, as do household income and home price per square foot, according to Pro Teck.“Looking at the data, one can see the Durham-Chapel Hill CBSA (core-based statistical area) is a healthy market driven by classic supply and demand fundamentals,” said O’Grady. “In contrast, one can look at the ‘bubble’ in home prices in Miami from 2003-2007 that didn’t have a corresponding increase in employment—that’s when the trouble starts.”Two of the top 10 housing markets are located in Washington (Mount Vernon-Anacortes and Olympia-Tumwater), one is in Colorado (Colorado Springs), one is in Oregon (Eugene) and five are in California (Yuba City, Vallejo-Fairfield, Modesto, Stockton-Lodi, and Fresno). Yuba City, which is located 40 miles north of Sacramento, has seen its percentage of REO sales drop from over 60 percent at its peak in 2008 when the crisis hit down to near-historic norms of 4.43 percent. According to Pro Teck, the limited housing supply (2.5 monts of remaining inventory) will likely mean continued home price appreciation for that area.Click here to view the complete Pro Teck forecast. in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Newslast_img read more

Flagstar Announces new Leader to Mortgage Business

first_imgFlagstar Announces new Leader to Mortgage Business Flagstar 2017-08-08 Brianna Gilpin Share Kristy Fercho (PRNewsfoto/Flagstar Bank)Flagstar Bank recently announced the addition of Kristy Fercho, who was previously SVO and Customer Delivery Executive for Fannie Mae, to lead Flagstar’s Mortgage Business. In 2016 alone, Flagstar originated $32 billion in home loans.”We couldn’t be more pleased than to have Kristy on board to lead our mortgage business,” said Alessandro DiNello, President and CEO of Flagstar. “She brings a wealth of industry experience from Fannie Mae, a powerhouse in the mortgage industry and a leading source of financing for home lenders. And the timing couldn’t be better with Flagstar primed to consolidate our position as the fifth largest bank originator in the country. Even better, she has worked with Flagstar since 2008 and knows our company well.”Fercho spent 15 years with Fannie Mae, originally as the VP of human resources responsible for the company’s people strategy, talent acquisition, and cultural transformation. Since then, she served in customer management roles and oversaw mortgage production of almost 2,000 lenders. As of late, she managed customer delivery strategy and business performance of all Western U.S. customers, delivering single-family home loans to the agency. She is a mortgage industry veteran with knowledge in mortgage originations, servicing, fulfillment, risk management, and regulation.center_img August 8, 2017 564 Views in Government, Headlines, Newslast_img read more

Midwest To Remain Most Affordable Region for Homebuyers

first_img Home Prices Housing Market Midwest Outlook RE/MAX region Single-Family 2018-01-03 Staff Writer in Daily Dose, Featured, Market Studies, News Midwest To Remain Most Affordable Region for Homebuyers The Midwest will remain the most affordable area in the U.S. despite slightly higher home prices according to the 2018 Housing Market Outlook released by brokerage firm RE/MAX INTEGRA on Wednesday. The report which covers Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, provides insight on what to expect in the key housing markets across these regions.According to the report the average sales price in Indiana was up 5 percent to $171,686 in 2017 with the average time on the market falling 14.8 percent to 66 days. In Minnesota, the average sales price also rose 6.9 percent to $264,801 with the average time on market going down 12.7 percent to 51 days in 2017. At $201,713 Wisconsin recorded a rise of 5.6 percent in its average sales price while its average time on market went down by 9.7 percent to 97 days.Single family and one story homes remained most in demand in most of the region, with the exceptions being southern and central Indiana, where homes for retirees, ranches, and farm houses remained in demand.The report indicates that new buyers, including millennials will continue to flood the housing market in search of new homes as the economy in all three Midwest states soars. “Now, even during the winter months, our real estate experts recommend that sellers’ sell. Intense competition for homes due to low housing inventory over the last year has not led to buyer fatigue, and right now there remains a large pool of serious buyers for all types of homes,” said Fiona Petrie, EVP and MD of U.S. operations for RE/MAX INTEGRA.According to the report, which identifies statewide trends collected through multiple sources including analysis of housing data and interviews with RE/MAX brokers and agents in each of the three Midwest states, buyers and sellers can expect modest price increases due to even lower inventory and sellers’ market as the average sales prices in the regions covered went up between 5-7 percent in 2017.The report also indicated increased market activity during the winter months due to the rising demand. Traditionally, the real estate season in these regions starts in the spring and summer months. According to the report new construction is often priced at $250,000 or above, creating more competition for middle-income and first-time buyers who want to purchase existing homes for affordability in these regions.center_img Share January 3, 2018 709 Views last_img read more

Australia expecting best quality almond crop in a

first_img Australia expecting best quality almond crop in a … You might also be interested in Japan and Australia will start as early as April a joint project to harvest high-end fruit all year round, taking advantage of two countries’ seasonal differences, according to Nikkei Asian Business review.The two countries will contribute farmland, personnel and technology for the project, which is also aimed at encouraging businesses to participate in the unique farming structure.The two governments mean to develop new markets for luxury produce, which will be targeted at wealthy consumers in China and Southeast Asia.Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison agreed on a plan to proceed with building a cooperative structure at a summit in November 2018. The two leaders “recognized the potential for the two countries to boost agricultural exports into international markets through cooperation on bilateral counter-seasonal production,” according to a joint statement released after the meeting.The deal will enable Japanese farmers, who usually grow fruit in summer and fall, to also grow them in Australia when Japan is in winter, allowing them to harvest in all seasons. As the two countries have little time difference, farmers in one can monitor farms in the other in real time using video and provide instructions to staff on site.The project will start in the northeastern Australian town of Ayr, where melons will be grown on a farm to be set up using land and greenhouses provided by the Australian side.Japan will dispatch private-sector farmers from rural areas, including Fukuoka Prefecture, to the farm to provide necessary technological assistance and train local staff on farming the fruit.The farmers will try Japanese farming techniques on an Australian melon variety and see if they can achieve the required quality and sugar content.The project will seek to set up farms in other areas of the northeastern state of Queensland, where Ayr is located. They will also grow Japanese persimmons and strawberries. Berries Australia: Govt must do more to address la … January 09 , 2019 AUS: Proposed Great Barrier Reef regulations ‘igno … ‘World’s first’ automatic mango harvester develope …last_img read more

South Africa Maluma Symposium to draw larger inte

first_img South Africa: Maluma Symposium to draw larger inte … May 17 , 2019 South Africa: Maluma Symposium has ‘become a highl … If you would like to know more about the latest and most relevant developments in the table grape industry, come to the Global Grape Summit in London on June 5th. For tickets and more information, click here U.S.: LGS enhances summer citrus, Peruvian avocado … In general, she said the most important table grape characteristics for South African consumers are good color, large berry sizes, full flavor and price.Outside of the South African season, Freshmark imports from a few other table grape-growing countries to keep demand satisfied throughout the year. “Spain is our preferred importing partner due to shorter travel time, competitive pricing and bigger varieties,” she said. “Generally there are more varieties to choose from when importing.” The company also brings in fruit from Zambia, where the seasons begins around a couple of weeks ahead of South Africa, as well as limited volumes from Egypt and Israel.There remain some challenges associated with introducing new table grape varieties into the market, Van Der Merwe said, such as achieving a consistent supply of new varieties due to the heavy competition with export markets. In addition, she said that consumer price sensitivity is an ongoing challenge, as well as many growers’ high price expectations. Harvest packouts have also not always been as high as producers had anticipated.Asked what advice she would give the supply side of the table grape industry to help advance the category – based on how consumers are responding to new varieties – she emphasized that quality, consistency and price point were crucial.”Quality remains key for any consumer, are therefore suppliers need to ensure shelf life,” she said. “They also need to ensure consistent harvests annually. The worst for retail is to market a new line for a season and then have limited volumes the next season.””In addition, when launching a new variety, you need to work together with your supplier to ensure we enter the market at the correct price point.”There is a definite ceiling price for new cultivars. Consumers are still uneducated when it comes to different varieties and most consumers only know a red, black or white grape. It is our responsibility as retail, together with the suppliers to educate the consumer and also offer them this “testing” phase at a reasonable price.”Global Grape Summit attendance “extremely important”The upcoming Global Grape Summit will include numerous educational sessions aimed at providing key insights and increasing attendees understanding about most the pressing issues facing the industry, such as how consumers around the world are responding to the wide range of new varieties now on offer. Other sessions include panel discussions on what the next decade holds for the industry, new production areas around the world, and retail opportunities in the U.K. There will also be ample networking opportunities.”As a retailer, it is extremely important to attend this summit,” said Van Der Merwe.”It gives us great exposure to the general international trends. It provides feedback from the various industry players regarding the future of the industry, new product development, environmental responsibility regarding packaging and general farming practices and provides information on varieties being trailed and the successes and failure that has been experienced thus far.” South Africa may be renowned as one of the world’s top table grape exporters, offering a broad selection of new and improved varieties to markets in Europe, North America and Asia, but many of these new cultivars are also finding favor among consumers in the domestic market where they are giving the category a boost.Tania Van Der Merwe, National Procurement Buyer of Stone fruit, Grapes and Exotic Fruit at Freshmark – the fresh produce procurement arm of leading African food retailer Shoprite – said that the introduction of numerous proprietary varieties is having a positive impact on sales and helping to extend the sales season for domestically grown fruit.Van Der Merwe spoke to ahead of the inaugural Global Grape Summit taking place in London on June 5, during which she will be a panelist in the session entitled “Consumer Response to New Varieties”. Van Der Merwe has been at Freshmark for 17 years, with the last five years in her current position. Freshmark is a division of Shoprite Checkers Supermarket Group, and supplies fruit and vegetables to Checkers, Shoprite, Usave, and OK Franchise stores in South Africa and throughout the African continent.Although it is taking longer for many new varieties to become household names in South Africa, due to competition with the export price structure the market’s price-sensitivity, there are some notable changes taking place on the domestic table grape market.”Better early varieties have had a positive impact on our sales. We have been experiencing a better eating quality and larger berry size,” Van Der Merwe said.”Meanwhile, better late varieties has given us the opportunity to achieve a better shelf life that is able to extend our season with approximately six weeks. We have also become more accurate with our storage programs, which is needed for late varieties.”For the last two years, she added, there was no need to end the season with seeded varieties, as had been the case in the past, when it was common for table grape sales to drop by around 60% when seeded varieties started. In fact, as in many other markets, demand for seedless varieties has increased so strongly that Shoprite has gone so far as to stop selling seeded grape varieties, with the exception of Red Globe.”The introduction of new varieties has led to more choices and has changed our specifications. We’re still competing with the export market, but there are more newer varieties available for our local market,” she said. This evolution has led to a more flavorful selection of grapes available to shoppers, she added.Some of the newer varieties that are proving particularly popular with South African consumers are Autumn Crisp, Adora, Sweet Globe, Candy Hearts, and Cotton Candy. But she noted that the latter two only sell well at the correct price point, and consumers are often not willing to pay the premium. In addition to the more recent varietal introductions, a couple of more traditional cultivars remain popular, such as Crimson seedless, and Red Globe, which is the highest selling grape in the northern area of the country. Fall Creek opens blueberry nursery in South Africa … You might also be interested inlast_img read more

US First storm hits California more heavy rain

first_img U.S.: First storm hits California, more heavy rain … Blueberries in Charts: Finding opportunities in th … Blueberries’ “premium position” as a healthy foodAcknowledging how the category has come to be linked with the idea of wellness, Brazelton said: “the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council has invested over US$7 million in research exploring and documenting the health benefits of blueberries.”Collaborating with world-leading researchers at exceptional research institutions and supporting the best independent research has been the key to blueberries continuing to hold a premium position as a healthy food. And exciting health results keep coming.”This phenomenon hasn’t been limited to one country either.He elaborated: “Public interest has spread well beyond the U.S. In many areas where people are not familiar with highbush blueberries, they try them because they have heard of the health benefits.”Considering the possibilities of the relationship between blueberries and health-consciousness, Brazelton was optimistic.He noted: “I think we’ll continue to discover and document more health benefits as we get more sophisticated tools and learn more, especially as health care becomes individualized. Blueberries will fit into that future really well.”According to him, this reflects the societal trend of seeking health solutions apart from modern medications.”‘Functional foods’ will continue to move mainstream into the medical community’s strategy. The medical community is looking beyond medications and procedures for improving human health. Lifestyle matters and holistic medicine is more popular.”The nutritive makeup of blueberries is a good fit for a healthy lifestyle and people will eat them because they taste good.”How the industry can improveRegarding how actors can make sure their products penetrate a greater range of markets, he explained: “We need more innovation beyond fresh products because not everywhere in the world has reliable and abundant cold chain.”New technologies will be developed that will lead to innovative shelf-stable products.”A further development he deemed necessary is on the genetics side of things.”We will also see breakthroughs in new blueberry genetics. This is an area that Fall Creek is investing in heavily. Blueberries are not as consistent in their quality as other products. We are getting better, but inconsistency is becoming a barrier to real growth.”Noting how the blueberry industry could learn from other categories’ successes, he commented: “The apple and banana industries have improved fruit consistency in recent years; table grapes are getting there too.”Blueberries need to follow suit and then we’ll see some big jumps in consumption. So, the industry still has a bright global future.”Final advice for industry playersWhen asked what advice he had for current blueberry growers or new entrants to the industry, Brazelton spoke on bettering export opportunities and learning about the advances being made internationally.Regarding a renewed focus on export, he noted this could be particularly advantageous for the Pacific Northwest. After all, this area is one of North America’s major supplying regions.”During the 2018 summer period, the Pacific Northwest supplied more than 70% of the fresh berries consumed in the U.S. and Canada. These are impressive numbers, but the Northwest industry needs to develop a greater export market, especially for processed berries.”To do this, he said he would urge greater collaboration among growers, packers and sellers to address the challenges and complexities of export.As for actors who are newly apart of the industry, he elaborated on the importance of learning not just the approaches that are locally used, but also those utilized in other regions.”For new growers anywhere, I would urge them to travel and learn about the incredible innovations that are taking place in blueberries. Every grower, new or old, can learn and improve their positioning.”A commitment to travel throughout the world might cost as much as a late model used car but would pay amazing benefits.”According to him, there is no better place to start than the upcoming IBO Summit.Here, he explained, industry actors will be able to “meet growers from around the world. Invite them to your operation. They will do the same.”In conclusion, he said: “The industry is changing, and like the last 40 years, great innovations are coming from all around the blueberry world.”With so much to gain as the industry continues to progress, Brazelton remarked: “I honestly feel our best days are before us.” June 18 , 2019 You might also be interested incenter_img Blueberries In Charts: Higher market volumes lead … Over the last century, blueberries have become a staple in the produce aisle of grocery stores as consumption has skyrocketed. Millions of people worldwide are particularly drawn to the health benefits associated with the fruit, as well as its flavor.Later this month, leaders of the global blueberry industry will meet in Richmond, Vancouver, B.C., for the International Blueberry Organization (IBO) Summit. The event will bring together experts to discuss the biggest opportunities and challenges for the industry worldwide.In advance of the Summit, industry pioneer Dave Brazelton, founder and chair of Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, Inc., shared his insights on the more recent history of the blueberry industry’s global boom and some perspective on where it may be headed next.Improved horticultural practicesSpeaking on the progress the industry has made, Brazelton commented: “We have seen major advances in horticultural management, variety development, in packing, as well as increased consumption demand – much of it driven by the growing awareness of the health benefits of blueberries.”He explained that, with new varieties and horticultural management practices, the industry has benefitted in another way. There is now an expanded number of production areas and a more steady supply in the market.”This has helped to make blueberries more available year-round,” he added.Increased shelf life and new growing methodsBeyond a more steady supply, he spoke on advances that have lengthened the category’s shelf life.He pointed to new varieties and improved cooling and shipping practices as factors that have “significantly” improved this.What’s more, they have also helped extend the range of where and when the fruit can be sold.”Another milestone leap we have been excited to be involved in has been substrate growing,” he added.Indeed, the idea of growing them commercially on a large scale in containers instead of in pots is relatively new.”Substrate growing, combined with advances from the last 20 years, is changing the way blueberries are grown.”For this next year, a substantial portion of the new acreage will be planted in substrate,” Brazelton explained.He elaborated how these changes have improved availability on an intercontinental level.”These advances, plus others, have paved the way for extending the regions of the world where they can now be grown, resulting in availability year-round. Quality, yields, and efficiencies are all improving.”To him, there are numerous possibilities for how different growing techniques could be adapted for the category in the future.”I’m excited to watch over the next decade to see if blueberries go the way of tomatoes, cucumbers or peppers, if they’ll move to climate-controlled greenhouses.”I’m interested to see how far we can go with genetics and great, consistent flavors that consumers really want to eat, and what growing systems we’ll use to get there.”Technological advances could especially change the methods growers use, he said.”I believe the world of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will transform how we harvest, sort and pack blueberries. I don’t see one way of harvesting, but many. Mechanization and efficiency breakthroughs will come for sure.”Future blueberry packaging solutionsWhen it comes to moving forward in a world that’s growing increasingly environmentally conscious, Brazelton emphasized the importance of eco-friendly packaging solutions.”Plastic is wearing out its welcome. In my opinion, we absolutely must find an environmentally friendly packaging material with all the consumer advantages of the clamshell but that is more sustainable.”We’re addicted to plastic in this world. Many people are working on it and know it’s an issue.”He said he believed the industry would also see an increase in packaging size.”I see the industry moving away from small containers and moving to more uniform large containers so blueberries will be available in the world’s kitchens every day of the week. Chilean blueberries fetched lower prices in 2018-1 …last_img read more