Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility LONDON (AP) — The British people will get another chance to decide on their European future by the end of 2017 — marking one more milestone in a long-troubled relationship.The planned referendum on Britain’s membership in the 28-country European Union following a renegotiation of some of the terms of the country’s membership is a key element of the new Conservative government’s program.Prime Minister David Cameron was Friday on the second day of a whistle-stop tour of European capitals, trying to convince leaders to offer concessions, including limits to welfare benefits EU migrants can claim. Though membership was secured, the divides within Labour didn’t go away, with many leading Cabinet ministers viewing the EEC as incompatible with the aims of socialism. That fissure, among others, would weaken Labour and pave the way for the election in 1979 of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives.____Thatcher’s Party Splits over EuropeThatcher was a keen backer of the ‘yes’ campaign, even venturing to wear a sweater with the flags of the member countries sewed in. However, her 11 years in Downing Street were marked by growing opposition to Europe.Though her government backed the creation of the single European market in the mid-1980s, she became increasingly hostile to the move to further integrate European countries.The appointment of French socialist Jacques Delors to head the executive European Commission, added fuel to her fire. Thatcher and a growing part of the Conservative Party were aghast at Delors’ ambition for a single currency.In a 1988 speech, Thatcher rejected the prospect of a “European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels.” Not everyone in her party was that hostile, and Thatcher’s growing antipathy to Europe prompted the 1990 resignation of her foreign secretary and led to a leadership battle. Thatcher’s time was up. And with the U.K. Independence Party making headway with its demand for a fresh vote on Britain’s membership, and its assertion that Britain had ceded too much sovereignty to Brussels, Cameron felt compelled to promise a referendum to bind his party together.The Conservatives’ recent surprise victory has put that referendum in motion. That vote will take place by the end of 2017.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. How do cataracts affect your vision? ___De Gaulle Says Non — TwiceThough Britain was absent at the EEC’s formation, it soon changed its mind. Its ambitions, though, were twice rejected by a former ally — the French president, General Charles de Gaulle.“Non,” he said in 1963, and again in 1967.De Gaulle, who spent much of World War II in London when France was under occupation, warned his five EEC partners — Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy and West Germany — that Britain had a “deep-seated hostility” to European integration that could bring about the end of what was then commonly referred to as the “common market.” He also worried that in crunch times, Britain would always side with the United States over its continental neighbors.___1975 Referendum: The People say YesEdward Heath, who became Conservative prime minister in 1970, made membership of the EEC a key objective. De Gaulle’s successor, Georges Pompidou, was far more amenable to British membership and by 1973 Britain finally joined. However, with the opposition Labour Party increasingly conflicted over Europe, accession would not be smooth.Labour’s leader, Harold Wilson, thought a referendum following a renegotiation would overcome the cracks in his party. That referendum in June 1975, Britain’s first-ever national plebiscite, was held after Labour’s return to power. A majority of 67 percent said “yes” to the question: Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain part of the European Community? Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Europe’s been a source of contention for decades in Britain. The British may love Alpine skiing, the horrors of Scandi-noir drama and the late-night hotspots on the Spanish island of Ibiza, but they have often been ambivalent over being part of a political and economic union with Europe.Many reasons have been cited for the complex relationship.Maybe it’s to do with Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States. Maybe it’s just to do with the fact that the British are an island people, wary of the entanglements and shifting alliances that have played out on the European continent since the Norman conquest of 1066, through the Spanish Armada, the Napoleonic Wars and two world wars.Ironically, it was former British leader Winston Churchill who called for “a kind of United States of Europe” in the grim aftermath of World War II.But when the fledgling European Coal and Steel Community launched in 1951, Britain was nowhere to be seen. It also opted against joining the six founding nations of what was then the European Economic Community in 1957.Britain has seemed a land apart, even after it joined in 1973.Here are some memorable events in Britain’s relationship with Europe. Top Stories Sponsored Stories FILE – In this March 10, 1961 file photo, France’s President, Charles De Gaulle speaks at the French General Assembly, in Paris. Britain’s ambitions to become a member of the European Economic Community were twice dealt a blow in the 1960s when de Gaulle vetoed the country’s applications. Non, he said, claiming that Britain could bring about the end of what was then commonly referred to as the “common market.” (AP Photo/Levy, File) Comments Share Check your body, save your life Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Her successor, John Major, sought to mend fences with Europe, even while keeping Britain out of the single currency — Game, Set and Match, he claimed. His government would soon after descend into conflict over Europe.___Blair on a BikeWhen Tony Blair won in a landslide in 1997, he made Labour a decidedly pro-European party. Britain, he said, would be at the “heart of Europe.” He even indicated a willingness to join the euro, which launched in 1999. The image of the young premier on a bike in Amsterdam a few weeks after his election triumph with other European leaders symbolized the new approach.Blair built bridges initially, but his decision to back the U.S.-led war in Iraq in 2003 put him at odds with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Plans to join the euro stalled and Blair’s European enthusiasm hit a roadblock.____Referendum ReduxWith Blair’s departure in 2007, pro-Europeans lost a key voice. His successor, Gordon Brown, was more lukewarm while the opposition Conservatives morphed into a primarily Euroskeptic party. In 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron vetoed an EU treaty designed to help stabilize the euro, which was struggling following a debt crisis. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies
Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Mesa family survives lightning strike to home 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sponsored Stories The Santa Cruz Islands are about 2,252 kilometers (1,400 miles) northeast of Brisbane, Australia.The quake wasn’t felt in the Solomons’ capital, Honiara, said Janes Ginting, the Solomon Islands country director for the World Vision aid group. Ginting had not heard any reports of damage elsewhere, though he was still trying to make contact with disaster officials and World Vision staffers in Lata.The Solomons comprise more than 200 islands with a population of about 552,000 people. The islands lie on the “Ring of Fire” — an arc that stretches around the Pacific rim and where about 90 percent of the world’s quakes occur.A magnitude 8 quake near Lata in February 2013 generated a tsunami up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) high that damaged dozens of homes and left several people dead on the western side of the Santa Cruz.More than 50 people were killed and thousands lost their homes in April 2007, when a magnitude-8.1 quake hit the western Solomon Islands, sending waves crashing into coastal villages.___This story corrects location of Lata in Solomon Islands.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. SYDNEY (AP) — A tsunami threat was canceled Saturday after a strong earthquake struck the Santa Cruz Islands in the South Pacific and no damage or casualties were reported.The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake measured 6.9, down from a preliminary magnitude of 7.5. It hit at a depth of 33 kilometers (20 miles) and was centered undersea 75 kilometers (47 miles) northwest of Lata in the eastern Solomon Islands, where the Santa Cruz Islands are located. Top Stories
conTgo and Dynamiq announced their entry into a strategic partnership yesterday in a move set to provide travel management companies (TMC) with “proactive” handling of corporate traveller safety.conTgo, a provider of corporate traveller experience solutions will work in conjunction with Dynamiq’s expertise as an international emergency management company to offer organisations, via their TMCs, a corporate travel strategy that extends beyond procurement to an “interactive, real-time policy”.“As events such as the Icelandic Volcano eruption…have shown, travelling can be a risky business and this is why we have chosen to enter into this strategic partnership with risk experts, Dynamiq,” conTgo Chief Executive Johnny Thorsen said. “The workplace extends to wherever [organisations] are sending staff to,” Dynamiq Managing Director Anthony Moorhouse said.“As corporations have a legal responsibility for their employees whilst travelling, it is important that they do everything possible to mitigate risks and to ensure that staff can be contacted in the event of an emergency,” said.According to Mr Moorhouse, in the past, corporate travel policies and security procedures were limited by technology, making it difficult for organisations to locate and interact with their travellers in crisis situations.“With ConTgo we’re able to turn [corporate travel policies] into something tangible,” he said.On offer is a web-based “single trusted mobile communication and information platform” that allows organisations and TMCs to contact travellers during a crisis.Often corporate travel policies are procurement led, with security a separate entity, Mr Thorsen said.“ConTgo is working jointly with Microsoft to build the bridge between procurement and security…Here, we have one place to look at everything.”Corporate travel company QBT is a strategic partner of ConTgo and has exclusive rights to the offering for a year from its launch. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A conTgo’s Johnny Thorsen and George Freney with Dynamiq’s Anthony Moorhouse
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A The Asian travel industry considers social media a key branding and marketing tool, and as such investment in social media will grow, revealed a recent survey.98 per cent of travel industry respondents to an online ITB Asia survey indicated they will increase or at least maintain their social media spend in 2011.Some 56 per cent of the 212 travel industry repsondents said they would increase their investment in social media while 42 per cent said they would maintain budget levels.Despite this commitment to social media investment, respondents said they expected to allot less than five per cent of their total marketing budget on social media.Almost half the survey respondents claimed it is simply too early to tell if social media is helping to increase profits or reduce costs. The organiser of ITB Asia’s travel technology show, Web In Travel, Yeoh Siew Hoon said that the perception of the worth of social media has changed in a relatively short time.“At last year’s Web In Travel, most people dismissed social media as hype but this year, there was real and serious discussion about its use in all forms of communication and marketing,” she said.According to the survey, social media is crucial to attracting new business, said 81 per cent of survey respondents.Almost 74 cent said social media was a “very” or “fairly important” tool to maintain existing business. The number one reason to use social media is to enhance the brand name, second is to create financial returns and third is to boost marketing campaigns.“Social media is yet another new component added to the spectrum of marketing tools available and necessary,” a survey respondent said.“There is no way to stay out of it, especially in regard to future customers.” The ITB Asia social media survey took place between 16 September and 26 October 2010.
MasterChef is adding spice to Western Australia tourism, with up to six million viewers watching the first three episodes of the show filmed in the state.Tourism Minister Kim Hames said the “bold initiative” to bring the television show to WA “hailed an overwhelming success”, as publicity equated worth of up to $9 million. “Although the third WA episode only went to air Tuesday night the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” the Minister said. “That modest investment has already been returned many times over through the millions of dollars worth of promotion the State has received.” Sunrise Dam gold mine near Laverton, Clairault Winery and Busselton’s famous jetty the three attractions in WA to feature in the series which is aired nation-wide. Minister Dames added that the cooking show’s publicity does not include other marketing activities to promote tourism into the region, with the government organising radio promotions in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane as well as a South-West food feature in the June edition of MasterChef.Tourism WA cinema ads have also features across TV stations in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, while the tourism bureau has also unveiled a partnership with Qantas Holidays to promote a gourmet Margaret River holiday package.“WA has so much to offer, and the more national and international audiences we can reach through these media visits the more tourists we will attract, and that’s a win-win for everyone.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J
Injecting up to $150 million in the NSW economy annually, Scoot Airlines and the NSW Government have released plans to launch new direct daily flights between Sydney and Singapore.Selecting Sydney as its first international route, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrel said the new daily service is expected to kick off from mid-2012 and will add up to 400 airlines seats every day between NSW and Asia. A significant step towards goals to double overnight tourism expenditure by 2020, Mr O’Farrell said the new service would inject a further AU$146 million per year. “It’s also confirmation that Sydney remains Australia’s only true global city – a position the NSW Government is determined to maintain,” Mr O’Farrell said.NSW Minister for Tourism George Souris added that selecting Sydney as its first international destination put the city ahead of Victoria and Queensland. “Singapore is one of Australia’s fastest growing tourism markets so we are delighted with Scoot’s decision to choose Sydney as its first port of call,” Mr Souris said.“Scoot’s arrival gives tourists from the growing markets of China and India more choice on how to get here and enjoy the many attractions and major events we have on offer in Sydney and NSW.”Launching mid-next year, Destination NSW chief executive Sandra Chipchase added that the representative body would prepare a two-year marketing partnership to promote the new service.“Destination NSW in conjunction with Sydney Airport, Tourism Australia and Scoot will be investing in a two-year marketing and promotion plan for the airline’s new Sydney route,” Ms Chipchase said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J
Monaco by night – SOURCE: visitmonaco.com Grace Kelly: Style Icon at Bendigo Art Gallery Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W Growth in the Australian market to Monaco is expected to increase more now the Monaco Tourist Bureau has newly signed a partnership to include the sovereign city state as a preferred destination with Virtuoso. Announced at a media lunch in Sydney yesterday, the Monaco Government Tourism Bureau said they had experienced a 25 percent year on year growth in arrivals from Australia. Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority director Guillaume Rose opened his speech by promoting the Grace Kelly: Style Icon exhibition in Bendigo, which was opened by the current Princess Charlene of Monaco and showcases the Princess Grace of Monaco.The exhibition will be on display exclusively in Australia at Bendigo Art Gallery. Grace Kelly: Style Icon is organised by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.Mr Rose then continued to wow the attendees with the beauty and excitement that Monaco has to offer, and is shared by seven million day visitors a year, 300,000 of which are cruise passengers.Monaco Government Tourist Bureau regional director, Alison Roberts-Brown told e-Travel Blackboard that the strength of the Australian dollar has helped build visitor numbers, with Australian and New Zealand visitors being in the top ten countries for room night stays in Monaco.Monaco Passport, launched at the end of 2011 with selected wholesalers, will also help boost bookings from Australia, guests who stay a minimum of 2 nights when booked with French Travel Connection will receive complimentary helicopter transfers and visitors passes. “It’s a great way to get to know all the major attractions in Monaco and also affordable entry level for the three star and four star travellers to start coming to Monaco,” Ms Roberts-Brown said.Contracted rates include a range of three, four and five star properties and are very affordable Ms Roberts-Brown continued, “a three night stay based on twin share staying at the Novotel in low season would cost $540.00 per person, and includes the helicopter transfer and visitors passes.”Ms Roberts-Borwn concluded by stating with seven million day trippers it is better off Australians come stay in Monaco as it is more accessible for those visitors who normal stay in Nice and day trip to Monaco.
Shark diving in Fiji – Source: Aquatrek Shark diving tourism contributed a giant FJD $73 million to Fiji’s economy in 2010, according to the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the University of Western Australia.A study into the socio-economic value of the shark-diving industry in Fiji shows importance of sharks’ role in Fiji tourism with shark-diving operations in 2010 generating FJD $4 million for Fijian communities through salaries and local levies.The study found that one in ten tourists visiting Fiji engaged in diving activities and in particular, diving with sharks has become more popular over the past several years.Fiji dive company Aquatrek’s manager of dive operations Brandon Paige told e-Travel Blackboard that since the business started in 1999, the number of travellers booking has seen a significant increase.“When we started in 1999 we had two trips a week and averaged about four to six divers,” Mr Paige said.“Now we go out 4 times a week and average about 12 divers per trip and in fact we have just launched a second boat to take the extra demand as we were regularly turning people away.”Better known as shark specialists, Aquatrek gets divers from all over the world wanting to experience the shark dives more than just the soft coral diving. Mr Paige commented on the already visible need for shark conservation saying while the tiger shark is the most requested to sight, they are not seen as often as they used to be.“We believe it is due to long lining (fishing) and the fining of sharks as they cover the greatest range and as such swim through the long lining area every day.”Manager of global shark conservation at the Pew Environment Group Jill Hepp said for Fiji to declare a shark sanctuary has a significant financial incentive and would solidify its reputation as one of the top diving destinations in the world.A growing business worldwide, shark diving operations are found in at least 83 locations in 29 countries, while places such as South Africa, the United States, and Australia have typically dominated this industry, shark diving is becoming a fast growing economic driver across the Indo-Pacific. Chief executive officer of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association Michael Wong said the recent study quantifies what was already known but could only guess up until now.”Living sharks add real value to our economy, so it makes sense to do everything we can to protect Fiji’s sharks, with a Fiji shark sanctuary the strongest means possible,” Mr Wong stated.The waters of the Fiji islands are home to at least 75 different shark and ray species and according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of threatened species, 66 per cent of these species are globally threatened or near threatened. Fiji has strong measures implemented to safeguard the marine environment however there are no specific protections for sharks. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W
The Hertz Corporation (NYSE:HTZ), the world’s largest general use car rental brand, was voted the Best Overall Car Rental Company in Zagat’s 2012/13 Car Rental Survey. The Zagat Car Rental Survey was conducted among a national sample of Zagat.com registered users from January 22 to February 12, 2012. In addition to best overall, Hertz, one of 10 U.S. based car rental companies included in the survey, earned top honors in 14 additional categories (see list below), more than any other car rental company included in the survey. “It is an honor to achieve top marks in 15 categories, including Best Overall Car Rental Company, in Zagat’s car rental survey,” commented Mark P. Frissora, Hertz Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Zagat is synonymous with top quality, and being recognized as the ‘best’ in a variety of categories by their savvy surveyors, including service and reliability, is a proud accomplishment, and a testament to our intense focus on providing superior customer service and value with our innovative, high-tech, high-touch rental products and services.” In addition to being voted the Best Overall Car Rental Company, Hertz was voted #1 in the following categories:#1 Top Rated Most Popular#1 Top Rated – Vehicles#1 Top Rated – Reliability #1 Top Rated – ServiceBest for Business TravelBest for Leisure TravelBest Counter StaffBest (Self-Service) KioskBest Loyalty ProgramBest Green OptionsBest Airport RentalsBest Car Return ExperienceBest Shuttle ServiceBest WebsiteStarted in 1979, Zagat Survey is the world’s leading provider of consumer survey-based information. With ratings and reviews based on a worldwide network of surveyors, Zagat has become the world’s most trusted source to help consumers make informed decisions about restaurants, nightspots, hotels, attractions and other leisure activities. Zagat surveyors are frequent, knowledgeable consumers in each of the categories they rate. Operating one of the youngest and most diverse fleets in the industry, Hertz is committed to offering its customers the utmost in speed and ease with technological innovations with personalized service. As highlighted in the brand’s new campaign “Traveling at the Speed of Hertz,” new and unique customer enhancements now available to customers include: Source = Hertz Carfirmation: Hertz’s new mobile email/SMS text service – Mobile Gold Alerts — that confirm a Gold customer’s reservation and advises them of their car location. Choose Control: Hertz Gold Choice gives the customer the power to keep the car they reserved or simply choose another, something no other car rental brand offers. Zap Technology: Hertz’s Gold enrollment and e-Return is the fastest way to get customers in their cars and when they return, back on their way home. Hertz will email the customer’s receipt in a flash. Acceler-Rental: Hertz’s ExpressRent Interactive Kiosks let customers rent a car without a reservation and without a line. Auto Bliss: Hertz Rent2Buy® is the fast, simple way to buy a quality used vehicle from Hertz. It is a virtual showroom where Hertz has simplified the used car buying experience. By eliminating the middleman and protecting customers from the haggle process, Hertz transfers the savings to customers and offers high-quality, well-equipped used cars at great prices.
Celebrating its sixteenth anniversary this year, Avis Australia opened registrations for this year’s Travel Agent Scholarship of Excellence yesterday with the introduction of a new 24-page agents guide.Unveiled yesterday, Avis Travel industry manager Russell Butler told e-Travel Blackboard the new brochure would help “demystify” the application process for agents as well as maximise their chances of success in the program.Available for pick up from Avis travel account managers, through applying into the program and by contacting Avis, the brochure offers an outline of the ‘dos and donts’ during the Scholarship questioning process, how a winner is selected as well as insight into the diverse origins of previous winners and where they are today.Mr Butler said the brochure also gave a breakdown of the time requirements of the program and application.It was designed to “give more information and encourage people to apply that haven’t previously,” he said.“It also makes the application process more approachable.”Also kicking off registrations for the scholarship yesterday, Mr Butler said the program was open to all Australian leisure and corporate travel consultants, regardless of current position, level of experience or commercial affiliation.The winning agent will also receive:· two Qantas Business Class return tickets to New York · six nights’ luxury hotel accommodation in Manhattan · seven days’ car rental from Avis · a first-year tourism scholarship to study at Southern CrossUniversity’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, withfinancial support of up to $10,000 towards the first year of athree-year Bachelor of Tourism Management course** · four cruise training modules from the International CruiseCouncil Australasia · a Polonious Resources Personal Profile, Feedback Session andon-call personal/professional coaching for 12 months · admission into the TIME (Travel Industry Mentor Experience)mentoring program · a one year honorary position on the Avis Travel Agents AdvisoryBoard · a tour of Avis’ World Headquarters in New Jersey and sitevisits to US agencies. Registrations close 15 August this year. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J
Community support runs deep against Australia’s largest public-private partnership. Image: Save Our Spit The Gold Coast cruise terminal debate has heated up again with the Queensland Government calling for a multi-billion dollar development to be built on public land from north of Sea World to west of Wavebreak Island, adjacent to the Broadwater.Set to consist of an integrated cruise ship terminal, casino, residential development and resort, the Broadwater Marine Project will be Australia’s largest public-private partnership and the nation’s largest tourism infrastructure development. Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate are set to make the announcement today ahead of Sunday’s anti-cruise terminal rally organised by community group, Save Our Spit.“I think the timing is entirely provocative, but very consistent with Mr Tate’s pugilistic attitude to this whole issue,” Save Our Spit spokesperson Kate Mathews told e-Travel Blackboard.“I think the Queensland Government has abrogated its public responsibility in setting proper and appropriate approaches to develop public open space.”The rally is expected to attract thousands of people from the Gold Coast and beyond.“There has been no consultation whatsoever in terms of the wholesale grand giveaway of public open space in the middle a most beautiful estuary,” Ms Mathews said.“The public will not accept this. It may sound trite, but we will fight them for our beaches.“It will backfire in the government’s face.”Ms Mathews highlighted their support of further developing the cruise terminal in Brisbane with only 15 percent of the Brisbane on-shore excursion market currently captured by the Gold Coast.“Put the money into the terminal in Brisbane, it’s a beautiful terminal and we will welcome them and make their stay in the Gold Coast a wonderful experience.“Cruise ship passengers are welcome but not if it’s at the cost of one of our most beautiful assets.“The cruise ship companies should be very cautious before they get caught up in this excess of governmental greed.”Used solely as a transit port, the cruise terminal will be a mandatory part of the project and one of the first components built by 2015, two years ahead of the council’s proposed terminal project. The Gold Coast Bulletin reports that the number of casinos, hotels, residential or entertainment developments within the project will be limitless with tenders expected from some of the world’s biggest and best developers, hoteliers and casino operators. “We’ve already seen a number of the world’s leading developers and tourism groups express genuine interest in establishing a cruise ship terminal as part of a major tourism project,” Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney told the Gold Coast Bulletin.“We would expect there could be significant international and national interest in major new infrastructure on the Gold Coast.”A sufficient amount of public open space and waterfront access is required as part of the project with the land expected to be offered on a 99-year lease and the successful consortium responsible for covering all dredging costs, currently estimated at AUD$63 million initially and AUD$6.1 million per subsequent year.See below documentary developed independently that gathers information from all sides of the debate. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.A
The Visitor Centre Association of Western Australia (VCAWA) is delighted to announce it has received 15 submissions for the 2013 GWN7 Top Tourism Awards.Now in the 24th year of the Awards, the VCAWA and GWN7 are extremely proud to once again be recognising the importance of Visitor Centres within the Tourism industry in Western Australia.In an exciting move, this year there are two categories in the Awards – the Top Tourism Town and the Top Tourism Town (population under 5,000). This has opened up access for many smaller towns that have not entered before.The entrants in the Top Tourism Town category include some old hands who have won this prestigious award in the past, including Busselton, Kununurra and Margaret River as well as some entrants returning to the Awards after a break. Other nominees in this category are Fremantle, Esperance, Denmark, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Armadale and Carnarvon.In the newly created category of Top Tourism Town (population under 5,000) there are nominees from across the state incorporating entries from Toodyay, Bridgetown Greenbushes, Kalbarri, Dunsborough, Dongara-Port Denison and Derby.The Association Chair, Tracy Barr, said it was fantastic to see so many Visitor Centres vying for recognition of best practice and helping to lift the profile of Visitor Centres within the WA Tourism Industry. “It’s great to see so many Visitor Centres embracing the changes to the Awards. This is a fantastic opportunity to get the hard work of Visitor Centres recognised by the wider community” Ms Barr said.“Visitor Centres throughout WA are often the first introduction to our state that tourists have and with more than 3.2 million visitors using the services of our centres each year, they are an extremely important link to this exciting industry. ‘’The GWN7 Top Tourism Awards recognise the efforts made by a Visitor Centre within a town, city or region to attract and welcome visitors. The awards acknowledge the important contribution that community involvement and professionalism offers to the development of high quality, though not high cost, tourist facilities and experiences.GWN7 Marketing Manager Gabrielle Ausden said it was fantastic to once again be partnering with the Visitor Centre Association of WA for the awards. “We recognise the vital role of tourism in our economy and the important role awards like this have in helping to ensure the best service is delivered,’’ Ms Ausden said.“It’s a great result that the Awards have had so many submissions and we look forward to the judging process and the winner being announced in September.’’Judging will take place through June and July, and this will be followed by the judge’s site visits to the top three finalists in each of the categories in August.The announcements and presentations of winners will be made at the Gala Dinner as part of the Annual Visitor Servicing Conference in Armadale on Friday 20th September 2013.The winning entrant of the 2013 Top Tourism Award will receive from GWN7 an airtime package valued at $25,000 to utilise in support of their overall marketing activities to attract visitors to their area. Additionally this year, the new category of Population Under 5,000 will also receive a $5,000 airtime package from GWN7 to utilise to promote their regional destination.As well as this, there are seven speciality category awards to be presented, which are sponsored by The West Australian Regional Newspapers recognising achievement in the areas of:– Heritage– Culture– Environment– Community Relations– Website Development– Management/Staff Training– Special EventsEntrants will also be in the running to win the RAC Travel Services Business Planning and Marketing Award which includes a $5,000 advertising package with RAC, as well as the Vanguard Press Judges Award which includes a $500 print voucher.The Visitor Centre Association of WA is a not-for-profit peak industry body, around 100 Visitor Centres and sub-representation of approximately 4,500 tourism businesses throughout Western Australia.Source = Visitor Centre Association of WA
Cathay Pacific to launch non-stop servicesCathay Pacific to launch non-stop services to Brussels, Dublin and CopenhagenProviding unmatched convenienceCathay Pacific continues to grow Hong Kong’s connections to the world. From Summer 2018, the airline will launch pioneering non-stop routes linking Hong Kong with Brussels, Dublin and Copenhagen, further strengthening the airline’s network and providing new trade and tourism opportunities between Asia and Europe.Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer Rupert Hogg said that the announced services will meet customer demand for non-stop travel to these vibrant cities, while at the same time providing Europe-based passengers with more convenient access to key destinations in Asia and Southwest Pacific through the airline’s home in Hong Kong.“We’re excited to offer the only direct flights between Hong Kong and Brussels, Dublin and Copenhagen. These are all fantastic destinations and attract business and leisure travellers from the world over. We listened to our customers’ demands for more options and greater flexibility and have responded by building direct air links with these great cities,” said Mr Hogg.“Growing our reach to new destinations that aren’t served from Hong Kong boosts the city’s status as Asia’s largest international hub and enables us to capture new and important sources of revenue.”Following the recent launch of services to Gatwick, Madrid and Barcelona, Cathay Pacific’s European expansion continues. With the commencement of the new routes, the airline’s network will cover 15 European destinations served direct from Hong Kong.New levels of on-board comfortCathay Pacific’s long-haul fleet of aircraft averages just five years of age, making it one of the youngest in the industry. The three new routes will be operated by Cathay Pacific’s state-of-the-art Airbus A350-900 aircraft, which feature the latest seats and cabin design and which have been especially well-received by the airline’s customers. All flights to Brussels, Dublin and Copenhagen are equipped with the aircraft’s enhanced inflight entertainment system and Wi-Fi on board.Cathay Pacific has in operation 18 of the 22 A350-900s it has on order, with the remaining four aircraft due for delivery before the end of 2017. Additionally, the airline has 26 of the larger A350-1000 type scheduled to join its fleet from 2018. These environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient aircraft allow Cathay Pacific to open up new markets not otherwise served from Hong Kong.Destination informationBrusselsThe administrative and financial heart of Belgium – and the de facto capital of the European Union, cosmopolitan Brussels is famed for its beautiful parks, architecture and myriad cultural attractions. Cathay Pacific will commence a four-times weekly service to the Belgian capital from 25 March 2018.DublinImmortalised in the works of author James Joyce, the ever-evolving Irish capital is known for being one of Europe’s great sporting, music and nightlife centres. It is also ranked one of the world’s most innovative cities and is a global hub for the leasing and finance of aircraft, a status that Hong Kong, following recent tax legislation, is on course to emulate. The new four-times weekly Hong Kong to Dublin service will be launched on 2 June 2018.CopenhagenConsidered Scandinavia’s capital of cool, Copenhagen is a thriving eco-friendly metropolis with a small-town feel and a breathtakingly beautiful harbour. The lifelong home of fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, Copenhagen has been named the world’s most liveable city on numerous occasions. Denmark’s cultural centre will be served by a three-times weekly seasonal service between 2 May and 12 October 2018.Source = Cathay Pacific
Mandarin Oriental announces new hotel and residencesMandarin Oriental announces new hotel and residencesMandarin Oriental Hotel Group has announced that it will manage a second luxury hotel in Istanbul, Turkey. The project, which also features branded residences, is scheduled to open in 2022.The new development comprises three standalone towers and is located in the exclusive Etiler residential area, close to the city’s central business district. One of the towers will house Mandarin Oriental Etiler, Istanbul with 158 guestrooms and suites and 16 serviced apartments. The remaining two towers will house 251 luxurious Residences at Mandarin Oriental. UNStudio from Amsterdam has been appointed as the master planner and architect.The hotel will have three restaurants and bars, and a selection of adaptable meeting spaces with outdoor areas and terraces, ideal for hosting both business and leisure events. There will also be a spa and fitness centre, offering the Group’s award-winning signature wellness programmes as well as locally inspired treatments. The hotel will have both an indoor and outdoor swimming pool.The Residences at Mandarin Oriental will feature some of the most exclusive homes in the city, providing owners with extensive private gardens and impressive views of the Bosphorus. Owners will also enjoy Mandarin Oriental’s legendary service and direct access to the hotel’s facilities. In addition, there will be a full suite of bespoke resident facilities, including two outdoor swimming pools with city skyline views, a fitness centre and six beauty treatment rooms.The owners and developers of the project are Astaș Holding A.Ş and Yapi & Yapi. This is the Group’s third venture in Turkey with Astaș Holding A.Ş who is the owner of the Group’s two other Turkish properties – the award-winning Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum and Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul which is scheduled to open in 2020.“We are delighted to be announcing a second Mandarin Oriental property in Istanbul, together with an exciting luxury residential project. We look forward to extending further the Group’s presence in one of the world’s most historic and vibrant cities,” said James Riley, Group Chief Executive of Mandarin Oriental. “Operating two complementary hotels in a single city is something that the Group has already done successfully in Hong Kong and will soon do in London. We believe there is room for more than just one Mandarin Oriental hotel in certain select destinations around the world.” he added.“Having strengthened our successful collaboration with Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Bodrum, and through the upcoming opening of Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul it is our intention to establish this second Istanbul property, uniquely located in the prestigious district of Etiler, as one of the world’s most impressive addresses. The project is slated to cater to a discerning clientele who enjoy this legendary city so rich in history and culture, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia,” said Astaș Holding A.Ş, and Yapi & Yapi’s Board of Directors.About Astaș Holding A.Ş, and Yapi & YapiAstaș Holding A.Ş, and Yapi & Yapi specialise in the development of branded high-end real estate projects including, residences, hotels, shopping malls and business centres. They are active players in Turkey’s construction and infrastructure sectors, providing employment for up to 3,500 people. Their projects have received many international awards for quality and design.About Mandarin Oriental Hotel GroupMandarin Oriental Hotel Group is the award-winning owner and operator of some of the world’s most luxurious hotels, resorts and residences. Having grown from its Asian roots into a global brand, the Group now operates 32 hotels and six residences in 23 countries and territories, with each property reflecting the Group’s oriental heritage and unique sense of place. Mandarin Oriental has a strong pipeline of hotels and residences under development, and is a member of the Jardine Matheson Group.Source = Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
Tourism Ireland in association with Etihad Airways hosted top 10 travel agents from across India to Ireland’s largest tourism trade fair, Meet the Buyer and Mietheal 2017, which was organised by Tourism Ireland.The workshop brought together over 310 overseas buyers and 455 Irish tourism businesses for three days of negotiating business deals. There were approximately 12,000 face to face meetings organised over the duration of this event, allowing international and Irish operators to meet and agree business for the 2017-2018 seasons.In the run up to Meet the Buyer and Mietheal 2017 workshop, the Indian travel trade had an opportunity to experience Ireland’s iconic cities and attractions like Belfast, Giant’s Causeway, Dublin, Ireland’s Ancient East and one of the most exciting and newest addition to Ireland’s long list of attractions ‘The Game of Thrones’ tour.Huzan Fraser Motivala, India Representative, Tourism Ireland, who accompanied the group for this key trade fair, said, “India is an important developing market for Tourism Ireland and one that we are committed to growing. We have been seeing a steady growth of 12-15% in Indian visitor arrival numbers to the island of Ireland.”
In an effort to educate people especially the youngsters, the Department of Tourism, Telangana will be making its presence felt in all districts. The Museum on Wheels, which was inaugurated on September 21, 2016, will be travelling to residential schools and colleges across all the 31 districts in the state tentatively by mid-June.The Museum on Wheels, as per a schedule parks itself at the most popular tourist spots in the city through the week and houses two guides, trained by the department, who give a digital tour of tourist spots in the state.S Prabhakar, District Tourism Officer, Hyderabad and Rangareddy, said, “An average of 500 people takes the virtual tour in a day.”The bus can be spotted parked at Charminar, beside the Dhanlakshmi Temple gate, Seven Tombs, NTR Gardens and NTR Samadhi. It has a touch-screen kiosk, a replica of the Egyptian Mummy, literature related to the tourist spots, while the guides take tourists on a tour across places in the state. It operates through the week except for Fridays as most of the spots are shut on that day.
Share Democrats Urge Obama to Recess Appoint New FHFA Director Twenty-eight California Democrats urged President “”Barack Obama””:http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/president-obama Wednesday to sidestep Congress by recess-appointing another agency director ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô this time for the “”Federal Housing Finance Agency””:http://www.fhfa.gov/ (FHFA).[IMAGE]Rep. “”Dennis Cardoza””:http://cardoza.house.gov/ (D-Mercel), a frequent critic of current FHFA acting director Edward DeMarco, led the way with an open letter that called on the president to “”put in place a permanent FHFA director”” despite resistance from lawmakers.””For two and a half years, Senate Republicans have been blocking the appointment of this position, causing there to be no permanent Director,”” the letter said. “”The current economic crisis began in the housing market and our economic recovery [COLUMN_BREAK]is dependent on the important work pending before the FHFA.””Democratic signers criticized the FHFA for failing to assist more homeowners and prevent foreclosures, beginning with an energy program described by the members of Congress as one that would lower energy payments and help Americans afford their mortgages.””FHFA has consistently and erroneously interpreted its mandate far too narrowly and as such has failed to take adequate action to help homeowners,”” the signers added.Last week Obama bypassed lawmakers and Republican opposition by recess-appointing Richard Cordray director of the “”Consumer Financial Protection Bureau””:http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ and several others to board roles with the National Labor Relations Board ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô moves that earned ire from the right and across the industry.DeMarco remains in the sight of many Democrats for reportedly resisting efforts by the Obama administration to expand government assistance programs for homeowners.Sources speaking with _MReport_ for past stories said that the acting director pushed back on expansions for the Home Affordable Refinance Program, fearing further losses to “”Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html and “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/.Cardoza first went on the offensive last fall when he called on Obama to replace DeMarco with a new director. Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Barack Obama Edward DeMarco Fannie Mae FHFA Freddie Mac HARP Housing Affordability Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-01-11 Ryan Schuette January 11, 2012 404 Views in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing
in Data, Government, Origination, Servicing January 18, 2013 426 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Barack Obama Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Debt Crisis FHFA Home Values Investors Lenders & Servicers Mark Lieberman National Association of Realtors Processing Service Providers Treasury Department Underwriting Standards 2013-01-18 Mark Lieberman Commentary: Let Them Eat… Nothing The disagreement over the nation’s borrowing limit took a back seat to gun control and perhaps lost some urgency when House Republicans floated the idea of a temporary extension, which would do what Washington seems to be famous for–kicking the can down the road. But the controversy and its impact on the nation’s financial credibility demands a solution that will last for more than just a few months.[IMAGE]Now that House Republicans have agreed to a tactical vote on the so-called debt ceiling in the comingweek, it will again be center stage (translation: the lead story or close on the evening news). President Obama has vowed to not negotiate over the debt ceiling, even in the face of rabid government illiterates (are they “”Capitol Hilliterates?””) who would be content to let the government shut down rather than agree to increase the nation’s borrowing limit if the President doesn’t give in to their demands for spending cuts.They just don’t get it and perhaps shutting the government will drive the point home for those who don’t remember the chaos when then Speaker Newt Gingrich let the government close down 20 years ago.The naysayers continue to insist the nation has a “”spending”” problem, which they are intent on solving, ignoring that we have not a spending (or even a revenue) problem but a jobs problem. Their approach is akin to getting your car washed because your kitchen is dirty. The fight over the debt ceiling is really a debate over the role of government. While the GOP may feel confident about a debate after President Obama’s first performance during the campaign, this is a debate the Republicans are gifting to the President if they let the government shut down. If Republicans “”succeed””–if that’s the right word–in shuttering the government to make their point, they will make quite a different point: a dramatic reminder of all that government does and why we need it. The last time I checked, we don’t inspect our own foods or safety test our own drugs; we don’t maintain our own highways or do the thousands of other little things government does–or governments do–every day to make life livable. This is, as Obama has suggested in other circumstances, a “”teachable moment”” and perhaps time for the President to re-establish himself as the educator-in-chief by holding firm on the debt ceiling which is, simply a mechanism to allow the government to pay the bills it has already incurred. For Obama to agree to this round of spending cuts or indeed any spending cuts now would undermine the slow but steady improvement in jobs and the economy. To be sure, government doesn’t have to be the employer of last resort, but virtually every dollar government spends means a job for someone. Maintaining debt stability allows that spending and job creation continue.That the United States has the most stable debt in the world was demonstrated again this week when the Treasury reported foreign residents and governments accumulated a net $61.5 billion in long-term U.S. securities in November, the most since August. According to the report, net purchases of U.S. Treasury notes and bonds totaled $26.4 billion, more than double the $12.0 billion purchased in October. Through November, private foreign investors accumulated a net $267.3 billion in long-term US securities in 2012, thanks in part to the Eurozone debt crisis and the relative strength of the US economy, and strength of the US dollar. ***Just a week after unveiling new rules for mortgage originations, the “”Consumer Financial Protection Bureau””:http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ stepped up its game by turning to the other end the mortgage business, “”collecting on loans””:https://themreport.com/articles/cfpb-releases-mortgage-servicing-guidelines-2013-01-17. When lenders make loans they look to how the loans will be repaid. CFPB has perhaps not taken a deep enough look at that aspect of the business.To be sure, the “”new origination standards””:https://themreport.com/articles/cfpb-releases-qualified-mortgage-criteria-establishes-legal-protections-2013-01-10 attempt to ensure loans are made only to borrowers who can afford them without having to resort to a diet of corn flakes or pasta. That’s a positive objective, but ignores a simple truth that “”life happens”” and sometimes alternative means of repayment become necessary.One of the significant oversights in the origination rules was the absence of down payment standards which serve to protect lenders. (By the way, protecting lenders also works to be benefit borrowers by reducing the overall cost of credit if lenders can reduce their concerns, i.e. interest rates, because they can be more confident of repayment). More than 30 years ago a chief credit officer at Fannie Mae looked at his company’s defaults from a variety of angles and found one persistent truth: borrowers who had put down at least $35,000 (this _was_ a long time ago), regardless of the value of the property or size of the loan, were less likely to default than those who hadn’t.CFPB may have compounded the oversight with some of its new default servicing requirements. Some make complete sense, especially those that bring the borrower into the process sooner. One of the axioms though of default servicing is that “”first loss is best loss.”” Lenders/default servicers don’t want the process to drag on. Setting a 120-day floor before the lender can take steps toward foreclosure does give the borrower more time to cure the delinquency, but it also unnecessarily ties the lender’s hands. Bringing the borrower lender together after 90 days would start the process sooner–when the delinquent amount is, by definition, 25 percent lower, perhaps more manageable.That the new rules don’t kick in for a year–much like the origination rules–will give both lenders and groups that represent borrowers an opportunity to think through the consequences. CFPB should build into any of its new rules a mandatory look back, six, nine or 12 months after a new rule takes effect, to determine if the rule(s) accomplished their objectives and where the speed bumps were.***Economic data as they related to housing are usually concentrated in the last couple of weeks of the month. Next week’s report lineup includes data on existing home sales (Tuesday) and new home sales (Friday) surrounding the “”Federal Housing Finance Agency””:http://www.fhfa.gov/ report Wednesday on home values for November. Existing-home sales hit a “”three-year high in November””:http://www.dsnews.com/articles/existing-home-sales-jump-to-3-year-high-2012-12-20 (the most recent report) improving for the fourth time in five months. Coming into December 2011, existing-home sales had increased in three of the previous four months, but slipped at the end of the year. Economists don’t expect a similar reversal this year, and a stronger labor market would support that view.New home sales have also improved for four of the last five months, but that’s where the comparison ends. The government’s “”new home sales report””:http://www.dsnews.com/articles/nov-new-home-sales-at-31-month-high-2012-12-27 tracks contracts while the “”National Association of Realtors'””:http://www.realtor.org/ sales report is built on closings. As such, the new home sales report is a timelier economic indicator. Market consensus is new home sales will show another increase for December._Hear Mark Lieberman on P.O.T.U.S.–Sirius 124–every Friday at 6:40 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. Eastern time._ Share
October 11, 2013 456 Views in Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing “”Wells Fargo””:https://www.wellsfargo.com/ and “”JPMorgan Chase””:http://www.jpmorganchase.com/corporate/Home/home.htm both released their earnings summaries for the third quarter on Friday, revealing the full toll that legal expenses have taken on the latter’s profits.[IMAGE]For the 10th straight quarter, Wells Fargo reported a new record for net income, posting a profit of $5.6 billion, a 13 percent increase over the same period last year. For the first nine months of the year, the bank–the nation’s biggest name in home lending–pulled in $16.3 billion compared to $13.8 billion last year.Wells Fargo chairman and CEO John Stumpf cited the improving housing market as one of the biggest factors in the bank’s rising profits, though mortgage business was down. Third-quarter originations totaled $80 billion, down from $112 billion in Q2 2013, while net mortgage servicing rights results were $26 million compared with $68 million the prior quarter.The company benefited from a decline in the amount set aside for repurchase losses–$28 million compared to $65 million in Q2. Wells Fargo reached an $869 million agreement with “”Freddie Mac””:https://themreport.com/articles/wells-fargo-suntrust-announce-settlements-with-freddie-mac-2013-10-02 in late September to settle repurchase claims on loans sold before and at the start of the housing crash; those funds were already covered by the bank’s accrued repurchase reserves and did not affect third-quarter profits.Wells Fargo CFO Tim Sloan described the company’s third-quarter results as “”solid.””””As expected, mortgage banking revenue was lower in the quarter as the recent increases in interest rates reduced refinance volume, but this impact was partially offset by improved credit and lower expenses,”” Sloan said. JPMorgan’s earnings, on the other hand, sank under the weight of a $9.2 billion (pretax) legal expense, which included reserves for litigation and regulatory proceedings. For the quarter, the bank reported a net loss of $380 million. A year ago, Q3 profits totaled $5.7 billion.Taking one-time costs out, JPMorgan says third-quarter net income would have been $5.8 billion.””While we had strong underlying performance across the businesses, unfortunately, the quarter was marred by large legal expense,”” said chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon. “”While we expect our litigation costs should abate and normalize over time, they may continue to be volatile over the next several quarters.”” Dimon added that JPMorgan’s board “”continues to seek a fair and reasonable settlement with the government on mortgage-related issues–and one that recognizes the extraordinary circumstances of the Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual transactions,”” which he stressed were undertaken at the government’s urging.Mortgage banking net income was $705 million–an increase of 13 percent over the previous year–reflecting a lower provision for credit losses offset by lower net revenue. Originations totaled $40.5 billion, a drop of 14 percent year-over-year and 17 percent quarter-over-quarter. Application volumes were $40.4 billion, down 45 percent from the prior year and 38 percent from the prior quarter. Wells Fargo Reports Record Profits, JPMorgan Drowns in Legal Expenses Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Freddie Mac Investors JPMorgan Chase Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Applications Profits Quarterly Earnings Service Providers Wells Fargo 2013-10-11 Tory Barringer Share
in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, News Share September 4, 2014 513 Views Housing Affordability Housing Starts Housing Supply Redfin 2014-09-04 Tory Barringer While the nation’s supply of for-sale homes has seen some steady improvements over the year, a new concern has emerged: Most of the inventory now hitting the market is too overpriced for the average homebuyer.Looking at the stock of homes for sale in its network of markets, national brokerage Redfin reported that, among the “mid-range” of home prices ($130,000–$375,000) available supply has actually fallen 17 percent over the last three years to a total of 668,000 as of July.In the lowest quartile of the market, the shortage is even more severe, with supply down nearly 50 percent since 2011.On the other hand, the most expensive segment of the market (homes priced at $375,000 or higher) has grown 16.4 percent over the past three years.”Since 2011, homebuyers across the country have been frustrated, and it’s easy to see why: There have been far fewer homes for sale,” said Redfin analyst Troy Martin. “This year, we have seen a slow but steady increase in overall inventory, but homes in the price range that most buyers can afford have only become harder to find.”The shift in supply is more extreme in some markets. For example, in Las Vegas, the number of homes for sale in the city’s mid-range ($77,000–$177,000) has fallen off by 51 percent. Sacramento, where the middle range falls between $129,000 and $319,000, has seen a similar drop-off, with supply declining 48.6 percent.Meanwhile, in markets like Phoenix, the supply of high-end homes (above $270,000 in that market) has risen more than two-thirds since 2011.”In Phoenix, low inventory is not necessarily the problem,” said Marcus Fleming, a Redfin real estate agent and market manager in the area. “The issue seems to be that a lot of what’s on the market is overpriced, and buyers are feeling uncertain about whether it’s a good time to buy. Some of my clients are getting homes under contract but continuing to tour more properties, to be absolutely certain they’ve found the best deal.”Further skewing the market is the fact that the “middle range” of home prices isn’t what it was only a few years ago. While the base for Redfin’s price ranges was captured in 2011, the mid-range today falls between $155,000 and $429,000, up 36.6 percent in three years.”To put that in perspective, the average price of a home in the middle half of the market has increased more than three times as fast as the overall rate of inflation since 2011, according to the Consumer Price Index,” Martin said.Redfin attributes the squeeze on the middle range to three factors: a lack of support from new construction, a still-high proportion of investor and all-cash sales outmuscling traditional buyers, and the number of homeowners still stuck in their homes and unable to list them due to low equity—as high as 35 percent, the company estimates.For the rest of the year, Martin predicts new home construction will be crucial in providing relief to homebuyers in that range, forecasting a pickup in new home growth as construction jobs and building permits strengthen.As prices continue to rise, however, the more expensive markets may take a hit to home sales.”Without more affordable options, homebuyers will have to choose between paying more and getting less, or putting off their home-buying plans entirely,” Martin said. Shift in Home Stock Hurts Lower, Middle-Range Buyers