Out of 200 agents, over 50% went home based in last 5 years, says new survey Tags: The Travel Agent Next Door, Travel Agent TORONTO — Becoming home based is now the norm for many Canadian travel agents, says a new survey, with over half of respondents making the leap in the last five years.Commissioned in December by The Travel Agent Next Door, the independent survey of almost 200 Canadian hosted travel agents found that over 50% had become home based in the last five years, illustrating the phenomenal growth in this sector. Of those surveyed, nearly half said they were earning more now than when they worked in a brick-and-mortar agency.Participating agents were affiliated with eight different host agencies; 12% chose not to divulge who they were associated with. A surprising 94% were primarily selling leisure travel, contrary to the popular belief that the travel agent is losing ground to customers booking direct online.The survey also found that only 6% of respondents preferred a salary or salary & commission structure, and that 92% believe they have a better work-life balance since becoming home based. Of those surveyed, 25% of home-based agents are male, and 60% were experienced agents before going home based.More news: Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from Ottawa“This is just the beginning of really understanding hosted agents and their needs,” said Flemming Friisdahl, Founder, The Travel Agent Next Door. “We will continue to invest in third party independent surveys to understand this growing market and how best to serve them.” The Canadian Press Posted by Wednesday, January 18, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 Tags: Sunwing TORONTO — The Sunwing Travel Group says it’s seeing an upswing in requests for private charters, leading the company to launch its own private jet service, SunwingJets.Sunwing says the luxury private jet fleet ranges from economical turboprops to executive class luxury jets with seating for up to 15 passengers. SunwingJets’ Concierge Service offers 24/7 service and a personalized inflight experience featuring a range of amenities and dining options, says the company.“We’ve seen an increase in demand for luxury travel products and in particular private jet charter service from our corporate affiliates across the sports, music and financial sectors, as well as our retail partners specializing in meeting, incentive and destination weddings,” says Stephen Hunter, CEO & President of Sunwing Travel Group. “We are pleased to be able to address this demand and feel this service is a great complement to our existing suite of luxury products.”Hunter says the Sunwing Travel Group has been increasing its luxury product offering with the continued expansion of Royalton All-In Luxury resorts and a variety of vacation upgrade options, from private transfers to presidential suites.More news: Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJFor more information or to request a quote see sunwingjets.com. Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Travelweek Group Sunwing launches new private jet service SunwingJets
<< Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Suggested Sharing, Sunwing, Video Friday, March 9, 2018 TORONTO — Sunwing has released a new video to help you book your clients’ next family vacation.Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedInNestled on a stunning white-sand beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and a short walk from the famed Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, Paradisus Varadero is truly paradise.With its villas, private pools, suites that overlook idyllic land and waterscapes, and luxurious amenities, this sprawling resort offers both privacy and opportunities for fun and relaxation and is perfect for families and couples wanting to escape the daily grind. Offering water sports like kayaking and windsurfing, snorkelling, catamaran cruises, beach volleyball, giant chess, and more, the resort is an action-packed playground for guests of all ages.While parents relax at the ultra-luxurious Agua Marina Yhi Spa, younger guests can play at their own Amigos Club. And once the sun sets, the place comes alive with Latin sounds that will get any party started, and a variety of mouth-watering dining options to tantalize clients taste buds.For more, go to sunwing.ca/en/hotel/cuba/varadero/paradisus-varadero. Share Posted by Fun-filled family vacations at Paradisus Varadero #SuggestedSharing Travelweek Group
No related posts. Great News! Two of Costa Ballena’s outstandingly beautiful beaches have earned the Blue Flag ecological standing. Thanks to program leader Jonathan Cordero and the exhaustive efforts of Hotel Cuna del Angel, Playa Hermosa has won its first star in this wonderful program.Thanks to Hotel La Cusinga Ecolodge, Playa Arco has obtained the prestigious Blue Flag for the first time. The program requires that beaches are kept clean, the water is tested for safe swimming, and safety signs are displayed. The Committee of the Cusinga was recognized with an award at the Casa Presidencial and Playa Arco became one of the top-10 beaches in Costa Rica.Crime Awareness and Prevention (CAP) is a local group of concerned and determined citizens, residents, nonresidents, frequent visitors and business owners who want to ensure our area stays safe and beautiful and to prevent crime. The mission of CAP is to assist in assuring the safety and security of every law-abiding citizen, resident and visitor in Costa Rica by unifying and building communities and promoting crime awareness and prevention, thus becoming recognized and valued as an influential voice on a national level. Our local police need additional funding and equipment. Costa Rica is addressing crime problems, but to ensure our standard of living is maintained, much effort is needed. We must put a “CAP” on crime. Check out www.caponcrime.com to help.Yum! Suki Madden has opened her restaurant in Rincón de Uvita. Suki hails from South Korea and brings her culinary skills to our area, including sushi and other light and nutritious Asian meals, some with as few as 150 calories. Come by, and don’t forget to bring your shopping bags to gather up goodies at the farmer’s market every Saturday morning.Domestic Animal Welfare Group and the community recently lost our dear friend and animal lover, Dan Kelly. Our hearts go out to his wife, Cheryl, and son, Jim. We will miss him dearly.-Shawnell Parkercbbshawnell@gmail.com Facebook Comments
From the print editionHeriberto Víquez has been a farmer for more than 40 years, growing coffee and cocoa, raising cattle, and recently venturing into organic farming with his son Carlos.Carlos and his brother Joaquín represent the fourth generation in their family to work the land in Costa Rica.“We love agriculture, we live agriculture and we are not going to leave this way of life,” said Heriberto Víquez, who owns a 321-acre plot of land near San Carlos in north-central Costa Rica. “We hope that our grandchildren continue our legacy.”Some 1.9 million hectares of land in Costa Rica are utilized for agricultural purposes. Seventy percent of that territory is used for cattle farming and 30 percent for growing crops.Bill 18,070, which could assist many small and medium-sized agricultural producers like the Víquez family is currently in the Legislative Assembly. After three weeks of discussion by farming representatives, municipal officials and lawmakers, the bill passed a first round of debate Monday night.“We achieved a great deal. We are satisfied with the [bill’s] first approval, and we await its passage next month,” said Álvaro Sáenz, president of the National Agroindustry Chamber. Sáenz said the sector wanted legislators to approve at least one of their two demands. First, that an 80 percent tax decrease on land used for agricultural purposes be granted to producers regardless of their size, which was ultimately cut out of the final version of the bill.Second, producers were requesting that land used for agricultural purposes be completely eliminated from the current standard that measures property value under the same classification as urban and tourist development. “We are happy because the current standard will not be used any longer to rate land used for agricultural and cattle farming,” Sáenz said, after the second measure was approved. If the bill passes a second debate, owners of farmland valued under the older system could ask municipal officials to re-evaluate properties with the goal of lowering land value to a “historical” value, plus an additional 20 percent.On July 31, about 15,000 agricultural producers from all regions of the country traveled to the nation’s capital to protest a 2007 property tax law that farmers said was drowning them in debt. Since then, lawmakers opposed reforming the law because they said it also would unfairly benefit big companies. “The main disagreement [was] that a majority of lawmakers wanted to grant a tax benefit to all producers in the agricultural sector,” legislator José María Villalta, from the Broad Front Party, said last week. “There are other lawmakers, like myself, who think there only should be a tax [reduction] for small and medium-sized producers.”However, lawmakers could not agree on how to define a small, medium or big agricultural producer, complicating the process.“That standard does not exist today,” Sáenz said. “We have been waiting for one for 30 years.”The final version of the bill moving forward proposes the establishment of such a standard, where land use and production, among others parameters, will be considered in determining a producer’s size. The responsibility of creating this standard will fall on the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry, which will carry out a census for up to four years.The current version of the bill also drew support from the National Union of Local Governments (UNGL), which heavily opposed the 80 percent tax decrease originally included in the bill.“We feel satisfied that we were able to reach an agreement that benefits all sides,” said UNGL Director Karen Porras, who represents some 71 municipalities. “We feel that the producers will feel more at ease with the proposal to create a standard.” Last week, agricultural-sector leaders announced additional major rallies across the country if lawmakers failed to vote on the bill. This week’s vote seems to have suspended those actions. In coming weeks, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court will review the version of the bill passed by lawmakers, and a second round of congressional debate could take place in September. Facebook Comments No related posts.
After the strong earthquake that hit Costa Rica at 8:42 a.m. Wednesday, some 530 aftershocks have been registered. Damage report:Guanacaste:-A 55-years woman died of a heart attack, in the canton of Filadelfia, according to a Red Cross spokesperson, who also said is not clear whether the death is linked to the quake.-At least 5 houses fell down and dozens were affected.-Damages on some walls at the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport. The runway did not suffer any serious damages. No flights suspended, and no one was evacuated, according to Nayuribe Vargas, a spokeswoman with the Civil Aviation Authority.-Marco Jiménez, Mayor of Nicoya, confirmed minor cracks on the Tempisque River bridge and at the Santa Marta brigde at the canton of Nosara. He also said there are small cracks at the colonial church of Nicoya.Alajuela:-At least 15 houses with serious damages.-The highway to the Northern canton of San Carlos will be closed for at least a week.Puntarenas:-Damages at the walls and ceilings of the fifth floor of the Monseñor Sanabria Hospital. Several patients are being evacuated to other facilities.San José:-Minor damages at the structure of the National Theater and two buildings at the University of Costa Rica.-400 patients at the Calderón Guardia Hospital were evacuated or discharged.Services:-President Laura Chinchilla ordered the suspension of lessons in all schools at Central Valley.-Agriculture Ministry, Foreign Ministry and the National Roadway Council closed services for the day, and will resume Thursday.-GSM and SMS cellphone networks are presenting failures. Facebook Comments Related posts:Experts report 4,000 aftershocks from Costa Rica’s Nicoya earthquake Magnitude-6.6 earthquake rocks Costa Rica on Tuesday night Costa Rican government: $50 million estimated for repairs after Nicoya earthquake Chinchilla announces more earthquake relief plans
Related posts:Judicial police arrest 70 suspects in alleged driver’s license fraud scheme Foreigners can pay for driver’s license directly at Roadway Safety Council offices Mandatory change of license plates begins Monday How can foreigners obtain a Costa Rican driver’s license? After several delays and confusion, a mandatory change of license plates for vehicles in Costa Rica will begin on July 15, National Registry Director Dagoberto Sibaja said on Thursday.Starting that day, all vehicles with license plates ending in 1 will be required to have new plates. Vehicle owners in that group will have until October to make the change.Plates ending with other numbers will be exchanged following a schedule (see schedule below, based on a license plate’s last digit).The National Registry began implementing a voluntary program to switch out old license plates in January 2012, but starting next month, those changes are mandatory. Drivers who obtained new plates after January 2012 are not required to change them again.The new license plates have a total of six security features including the seal, a map and the national flag of Costa Rica, as well as a unique hologram, a laser engraving and a special backlit symbol.The security features are intended to decrease counterfeiting, Sibaja said.To obtain new plates, vehicle owners must present the old ones, fill out a form and pay ₡15,000 ($30), which includes two metal plates and a sticker for the windshield.New plates for motorcycles cost ₡8,000 ($16) for one metal plate and one sticker.New vehicles registering for the first time may apply for alphanumeric license plates at a cost of ₡20,000 ($40).Exchanges can be made at the National Registry’s main facilities in the southeastern district of Zapote, at local branches in Limón, Puntarenas, Guanacaste, Alajuela, San Carlos, Pérez Zeledón and Paseo Colón, and at Bank of Costa Rica and Correos de Costa Rica branches throughout the country.Starting July 15, applications will be available online at the National Registry website, www.rnpdigital.com. Vehicle owners may authorize third parties to exchange plates, as long as they present documents certified by a lawyer.Schedule according to the last digit of license plates:1: July-October 20132: November 2013-January 20143: February-April 20144: May-July 20145: August-October 20146: November 2014-January 20157: February-April 20158: May-July 20159: August-October 2015O: November 2015-January 2016 Facebook Comments
Angel Falls is the tallest waterfall in the world, the pristine coral reefs of the Los Roques archipelago attract divers, and others are keen to explore the “tepuis” – towering mountains in the southeast.The successes of neighboring countries provide some hope: according to UNWTO statistics, Colombia welcomed 2.1 million visitors last year, 4.5 million people flocked to the Dominican Republic and its famous resorts and Brazil had 5.6 million visitors. In 2011, Cuba opened its doors to 2.6 million tourists.Several months ago, the ministry launched a high-profile campaign to draw tourists. New air routes were opened, airports were renovated and the government renewed languishing contacts with industry players.Izarra also announced that two tropical islands previously closed to the public – La Tortuga and La Orchila islands – would soon be opened.For Marilucy Beltran, president of the Venezuelan Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies, Venezuela has not capitalized on offering vacation packages and is in desperate need of better public-private collaboration in the tourism sector.“Here, everything is separate: the flight, the hotel, excursions,” she said.Gael Lejay of Tucaya, a French travel agency in Caracas established in 1996, says that “all involved parties should sit down at the table to coordinate their efforts.”According to Beltran, another important issue to fix is the country’s control of currency exchange, which has caused the value of the U.S. dollar to skyrocket on the black market.“The official exchange rate makes it very expensive for foreigners to travel to Venezuela, because the rates for hotel and services are calculated based on the parallel rate,” she explained.But according to Vogeler, the first order of business for the government is to address fears over crime.“Perception is more important than reality” when it comes to tourism, he said.In Margarita, one of the country’s main vacation destinations, several tourists die every year in armed robberies.Venezuela has the highest murder rate in South America with nearly 55 for every 100,000 people. The government acknowledged more than 16,000 murders in 2012 among a population of 29 million. Facebook Comments At 980 meters, Venezuela’s Angel Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, located in Canaima National Park in Bolívar State. Courtesy of Luis Carillo and Wikimedia Commons No related posts. CARACAS, Venezuela – Boasting the highest waterfall in the world, nearly deserted Caribbean islands and dense jungles with ocean views, Venezuela has everything a tourist could want – except the tourists are not coming.In a country where explorer Christopher Columbus once believed he had found heaven on earth, officials are struggling to draw travelers, with only 700,000 visitors each year, in part due to Venezuela’s somewhat tarnished image.After neglecting the tourism sector for years, in favor of the lucrative oil industry – Venezuela has the world’s largest proven reserves – the government in Caracas is now working hard to attract visitors.However, the country suffers from outdated infrastructure – hotels, highways and domestic flights are all lacking – and wary foreigners who choose different destinations after seeing Venezuela’s high crime rates.“The main enemy of the development of tourism in Venezuela was oil,” Carlos Vogeler, regional Americas director for the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), told AFP. “When a country has such a major revenue generator, it has a tendency to ignore others.”Venezuela’s new tourism minister, Andres Izarra, says he intends to put his country on the map as a vacation hotspot.“Our goal is to reach one million foreign tourists” in 2014, he said.While infrastructure may be lacking, attractions surely are not.From the biodiversity of the Orinoco Delta to the richness of the Amazon jungle, from Andean peaks to the hundreds of kilometers of idyllic beaches, Venezuela seemingly has it all.
Related posts:Hunters attack park rangers with machetes in Braulio Carrillo National Park Animal abuse reports on the rise Costa Rican lawmakers weigh ban on hunting for sport Rescuers free dogs, birds in another puppy mill raid Thousands of parrots, monkeys, iguanas, toucans, turtles and other rain forest animals are kept as exotic pets in Costa Rica, a practice putting some species at risk, according to experts.The Central American country, famous for its rich biodiversity, won plaudits from conservationists two years ago for banning sport hunting in a pioneering move to protect wild animals.But scientists and activists — gathered this week for the country’s first-ever conference on the issue of captive wildlife — say tropical animals face another major threat in Costa Ricans’ long-time love of exotic pets.“There are no precise figures, but we know it’s a problem of great magnitude, because a study by the Environment Ministry found that 25 percent of households have a parrot or a parakeet as a pet,” said Andrea Aguilar of the Instituto Asis, a key figure behind the conference.That would add up to nearly 400,000 exotic birds in cages, she said.Aguilar’s institute runs a shelter for wild animals in La Fortuna de San Carlos, a lush region in northern Costa Rica that draws large numbers of foreign tourists with its famous wildlife and tropical vegetation.The shelter takes in wild animals kept as pets that fall sick or are wounded by people, cars or electric shocks.It gives them veterinary care and, when possible, prepares them for an eventual return to the wild.“Costa Rican law forbids keeping wild species as pets, but the law isn’t enough because there’s a very deep-rooted custom. People don’t realize that wild animals are not and cannot be pets,” Aguilar told AFP in an interview ahead of the First Congress on Wildlife Rescue, Recovery and Freedom in San José.She said people have a range of reasons for keeping pets such as white-faced capuchin monkeys, green iguanas or songbirds. They are drawn to the animals’ beauty, they want to entertain their children or they feel it brings them social status.But the underlying problem is that people are largely ignorant of the animals’ diets, growth, life span, habitat, diseases and behavior.“A family falls in love with a baby white-faced capuchin because it’s funny and affectionate, but when it reaches 2 years old its behavior will change. It will become aggressive, bite and pull people’s hair. That’s when it becomes a problem at home,” she said.Such animals often end up being mistreated or killed, or, with luck, in a shelter, she said.By that point returning them to their native environment is difficult. They lack survival skills and are unlikely to be accepted by other members of their species. An iguana in Costa Rica. Rodrigo Arangua/AFPTraffic in exotic animalsThe international traffic in exotic animals exacerbates the problem.The illegal $20-billion-a-year trade has taken a major toll on Costa Rica’s biodiversity, as animals are captured and sold abroad, Aguilar said.One of the goals of the three-day conference is to prod the Costa Rican government to expand environmental education programs for locals, foreign visitors and ecotourism operators.“It’s important to make people understand that wild animals have to live in the forest, because they have different needs from domesticated animals,” said Aguilar.Protecting the environment is also key for the Costa Rican economy, which depends heavily on tourism and attracted 2.4 million visitors last year — many of them drawn by the country’s tropical wildlife and forests. Facebook Comments
Related posts:Costa Rican lawmakers reject 2015 budget, Assembly president passes it anyway Budget talks extend to Saturday after lawmakers fail to reach deal Lawmakers approve 2016 national budget at ₡8 trillion Lawmakers hand Solís administration a big win by rejecting 2015 budget cuts After five hours of negotiations and heated discussions, 27 of 49 lawmakers at 8:10 p.m. voted to pass President Luis Guillermo Solís’ budget proposal for next year, in an unorthodox Saturday session at the Legislative Assembly.Of the ₡7.9 trillion ($14.5 billion) national budget for 2015, ₡4.2 trillion will be financed with general government revenue, while ₡3.7 trillion will require financing. Next year’s budget is nearly 20 percent higher than the spending plan approved last year, and it was adopted in a second and final round of debate just ahead of the Nov. 30 deadline set by Costa Rica’s Constitution.Its passage was achieved with the support of a majority of lawmakers from the ruling Citizen Action Party (PAC), plus votes from the Broad Front Party (FA), Costa Rican Renovation Party, Accessibility without Exclusion Party, and a change of heart by four Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) legislators.That reversal in position was achieved thanks to a letter President Solís sent PUSC’s top legislator, Rafael Ortiz, in which he pledged to implement a series of rules and measures for fiscal responsibility and efficient spending, presented by PUSC representatives at the Financial Affairs Commission during previous discussions.Ortiz said his party would support Solís’ plan after the president promised to accept their recommendations. He also cited “the need to work together in the interest of the nation.”Financial Affairs Commission President and PAC legislator Ottón Solís applauded the administration’s decision to accept the PUSC proposals, but remained skeptical. “The government’s fiscal strategy is irresponsible, and Finance Minister Helio Fallas said they would lower the budget’s deficit and they didn’t,” he said after the voting.Members of the Financial Affairs Commission for the past three months had evaluated several proposals to cut spending. They then voted on the best three proposals, which were sent for consideration before the full Assembly. Lawmakers rejected all three last week.Despite the deal between the president and some members of PUSC, PUSC lawmakers Rosibel Ramos and Gerardo Vargas voted against the 2015 spending plan, creating friction with the other members of their party.Ramos and Vargas joined 20 other “No” votes by the National Liberation Party, the Libertarian Movement Party, the National Restoration Party and the Christian Democratic Alliance.The budget’s passage can be considered a partial victory for the Solís administration, as a ruling still is pending from the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, following a complaint filed Wednesday by 14 lawmakers, led by top Libertarian legislator Otto Guevara.That complaint questions the constitutionality of Assembly President Henry Mora’s decision to pass the budget draft bill in a first-round debate, despite not having enough votes. Guevara accuses Mora of potentially violating the democratic principle of majority rule.In a previous 26-25 vote earlier this week, lawmakers rejected the budget proposal in a first-round debate, but Mora passed it anyway, citing Article 178 of Costa Rica’s Constitution, which he claimed mandated the budget’s approval.Mora argued that because lawmakers voted against all three plans to cut spending in commission, the administration’s proposal was the only one remaining and must be approved.Sala IV justices now will have one month to determine if Mora’s actions were constitutional. Facebook Comments
Football is by far Costa Rica’s favorite sport, so it’s not surprising that 2014 will be remembered as a year of impressive performances by both “Las Ticas” and “Los Ticos.”“La Sele,” as Ticos affectionately call the Men’s National Team, reached the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014, an achievement that finally outmached what the 1990 team did in Italy at the country’s first World Cup appearance. At the time, La Sele advanced to the knockout stage in an accomplishment remembered this year in a film succinctly entitled “Italia 90.”But Costa Rica’s other Sele also made headlines, as the Women’s National Team earned its first qualification to a World Cup and currently are preparing for the competition that will take place in Canada next year.In addition, the country in 2014 also held for the first time a FIFA World event in March-April, when it hosted the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.Here’s a roundup of Costa Rica’s most important sports news of the year:1. La Sele, undefeated, reaches quarterfinals at the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 Costa Rica’s forward Bryan Ruiz (R) heads the ball to score as Italy’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (2nd R) can only look on. Ruiz’s goal was the difference in the 1-0 shock victory. Javier Soriano/AFPFew teams arrived in Brazil with a bigger underdog label than Costa Rica. The World Cup’s draw in December 2013 resulted in the country joining Group D —nicknamed “The Group of Death” — with three former world champions: England, Uruguay and Italy.That label turned into a movie-like run for Los Ticos, as they ended the first stage atop the group with unexpected upsets against Uruguay and Italy, and a tie with England that quieted many critics, oddsmakers and rival teams.Celebrations over those performance even included Costa Rica’s president, Luis Guillermo Solís, who joined thousands of Ticos on the streets of San José.La Sele then achieved an even bigger upset by defeating Greece in the round-of-16 match. The game ended 1-1 in regular time and was decided by a penalty shootout.With a 4-3 lead, Costa Rica goalie Keylor Navas kept his star status growing by deflecting a shot by Theofanis Gekas. Then, defender Michael Umaña smoothly knocked in the last goal that eliminated Greece and sparked a celebration all across Costa Rica.At quarterfinals, the dream ended for La Sele with another penalty shootout that unfortunately favored the Netherlands, with the Dutch squad scoring all of their shots, and goalie Tim Krul saving shots by Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umaña.Nevertheless, back home La Sele received a heroes’ welcome and will end the year with an undefeated mark of 12 consecutive matches. They also ended as the North and Central American regions’ best-ranked team, placing 15th on FIFA’s overall list, ahead of both the United States and Mexico.To round up a great year, Keylor Navas, Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell are part of the Tico honorees in six different categories at the 2014 CONCACAF Awards.2. Tico goalie Keylor Navas signs with legendary club Real Madrid Keylor Navas poses with a Real Madrid jersey. AFPPrior to his outstanding performance at the Brazil World Cup, where he was one of the top-three goalies, Tico star Keylor Navas completed an impressive season with his Spanish club Levante UD that earned him Spain’s Best Goalkeeper award at the Professional Football League Awards ceremony for the 2013-2014 season.Then, in August, Navas became the first Costa Rican to sign with Spain’s world-famous club Real Madrid, on a transfer from Levante.The club paid the €10 million ($13.5 million) buyout clause to Levante that took Navas to Spain’s most succesful club. He now is competing with Spain’s national team keeper Iker Casillas for a spot on the roster.His arrival to Real Madrid, however, has been anything but easy, with Navas playing only a few official games. “No player likes to be on the bench. I practice hard every day and try to be prepared for the moment I get the chance to play,” he told members of the news media.In October, a bizarre case in Costa Rica involving illegal prying into his personal life by law enforcement officials had him in the spotlight again, for all the wrong reasons.Costa Rican Supreme Court justices reported that 24 Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) officers and four prosecutors searched a police database a total of 51 times for personal information on Navas and two of his sisters earlier this year.At the time, OIJ Director Francisco Segura said, “we have no reason to investigate Keylor Navas or any of his relatives. We don’t know why these people did this.” Segura then confirmed the judicial branch had no open investigation of Navas and there was no legal legal justification for the snooping by law enforcement employees.With his new team, Navas won the UEFA Super Cup 2014 in August, and on Dec. 20 the FIFA Club World Cup. Three days later Navas won CONCACAF’s Player of the Year.3. Marriage of [World] Champions Costa Rica’s first — and currently only — boxing world champions on Saturday beat their opponents by knockouts. (Courtesy of Canal de Boxeo)Hanna Gabriel and Bryan “El Tiquito” Vásquez, who are married, earned the country its firsts and only World Boxing Championships.Gabriel won her first title in 2009 when she took the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight (147 pounds) World Championship. In 2010, Gabriel defeated the Dominican Republic’s Gardy Pena in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, to win the WBO junior middleweight (154 pounds) World Champion title in a fight that lasted only 11 seconds.She succesfully defended her title twice, but in 2013 she lost to Dominican Oxandia Castillo by a knockout in the second round.On Dec. 20, Gabriel regained the World middleweight title in a victory by technical knockout to Mexican Paty “Elegante” Ramírez, 36 seconds into the second round of a fight held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.That same night in Quintana Roo, Mexico, her husband “Tiquito” Vásquez also won his fight by a technical knock out against Mexican Sergio “Yeyo” Thompson, who refused to come out in the ninth round.The fight was Vásquez’s defense of the World Boxing Association Super featherweight title (130 pounds) he won in San José in 2011.However, despite winning the fight, the title will be vacant as Vásquez prior to the fight registered a weight of 133 pounds, meaning he will have to fight again to regain his title.4. Following historic World Cup performance, coach Jorge Luis Pinto quits the team Costa Rica’s Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto reacts during a Group D football match between Italy and Costa Rica at the Pernambuco Arena in Recife during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 20, 2014. Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP“I like this group. Do not be afraid. We are confident that we will do a great job. The fiercer the bull, the better the fight,” Costa Rica’s coach Jorge Luis Pinto told media following the draw for the World Cup, where La Sele landed in the “Group of Death.”But after leading Costa Rica to its greatest World Cup performance ever, the Colombian in July failed to reach a deal with the Costa Rican Football Federation (FEDEFUT) and left the team.At a press conference the coach said that despite his interest in remaining in charge of the team, several of his requests to continue were not accepted by FEDEFUT. Among his requirements Pinto had asked for the dismissal of assistant coaches Paulo Wanchope and Luis Marín. He wanted to replace them with Colombian staff.The situation then escalated when Pinto told international media that one of the main reasons he would leave the team was that one of his assistants (it was later revealed that he was referring to Wanchope) had been boycotting his job and that FEDEFUT members were looking for his dismissal from the beginning of his time with the team.Several Sele players and other team staff members came to the defense of Wanchope and said the Colombian coach kept an excessive disciplinary regime that included surprise night visits to their bedrooms to see if they were already sleeping. Others claimed that he often was verbally abusive with players and staff members.Wanchope provisionally took over as coach of La Sele during several matches following the Brazil Cup. FEDEFUT currently is in search of a new coach who will be charged with qualifying La Sele for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.On Dec. 19, Pinto was announced as the new head coach of Honduras.5. Las Ticas had a historic year Carolina Venegas (9) celebrates with Katherine Alvarado, who assisted her in scoring an impressive bicycle kick in the last minute. Gloriana Villalobos (7) runs to join the celebration. AFP/The Tico TimesAlso known as La Sele, the Costa Rican Women’s National Team had a great year, earning their first qualification to a World Cup, something Las Ticas had only achieved in youth tournaments.La Sele in October participated in the CONCACAF qualification tournament in the United States, where they took their group’s top spot with a 3-0 record against Jamaica, Martinique and Mexico. Then, in semifinals, the team beat Trinidad and Tobago in a penalty shootout with an impressive performance by keeper Dinnia Díaz, who set a national record of three penalty shots detained in a qualifier match.Díaz’s stellar job sparked a national debate following a headline used by a sensationalist newspaper that printed a cover with her photo under the word “Keylar,” a name alluding to the men’s Sele goalie. The comparison infuriated more than a few people, and even led to an op-ed appearing in The Tico Times on the issue.The controversy went viral with people commenting on the unfortunate cover with several phrases of disapproval, including a popular one entitled “Her name is Dinnia, not Keylar.”The team secured a spot for the World Cup Canada 2015 and reached the tournament’s final match against the world’s No. 1 team, the U.S. The powerful Gringa squad had no troubles taking the title with a 6-0 routing of La Sele.The match, however, was a taste of what the team can expect at the world competition, and a reminder that they have a lot of homework to do in the meantime.6. Good start on the waves Jenny Kalmbach, a Tica SUP surfer and racer, now lives in Hawaii. Ashley Harrell/The Tico TimesJenny Kalmbach in May gave Costa Rica its first-ever medal at the Stand Up Paddling (SUP) World Championship in Nicaragua.Born and raised in Costa Rica, she currently is a resident of Kona, Hawaii. She took a bronze at the SUP technical women’s race, which took place on May 11.Kalmbach was part of the six-member group that represented Costa Rica for the first time, although she was the only one who brought an award back home.She started practicing the sport many years ago as a surf instructor, and eventually garnered the attention of more than a half-dozen sponsors. Kalmbach participates regularly in international competitions.No other Costa Rican advanced to the finals of the surf or distance competitions in Nicaragua.Read more Year in Review 2014 stories here Facebook Comments Related posts:Saprissa pounds Kansas City to advance to CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals Costa Rica women’s nat’l team beats Trinidad and Tobago, qualifies for 2015 World Cup Jamaica Part II: Will Costa Rica’s La Sele find its killer instinct? Costa Rica football’s next big stars: 7 players who could shine for La Sele in the future
LOS CHILES, Alajuela — If you ask random strangers in northern Alajuela province wherela trocha is, they know exactly what you’re talking about. They give explicit directions, because there aren’t a lot of signs out there, and it’s easy to get lost. Once you leave the highway, the landscape is a checkerboard of pineapple fields, fences, shanties and trees. Villages consist of a few clustered houses and a soda. Trucks crawl slowly through a labyrinth of dusty byways.But the closer you get to la trocha, the less locals know which trocha you’re talking about. After all, the word just means “path” or “dirt road,” and as you inch closer to the Nicaraguan border, every road is basically a trocha.This is one of the surprising truths about the 1856 Juan Rafael Mora Porras roadway, the 160-kilometer dirt and gravel road that parallels the border with Nicaragua going east from Los Chiles, a town that sits roughly at the middle point along the two countries’ east-west border (1856 is the year Costa Rica defeated filibuster William Walker, under the leadership of President Juan Rafael Mora).From its western end, the road isn’t easy to find. In theory, a traveler should only have to drive north on Route 35 and take a right at Los Chiles. But the road doesn’t exactly start in Los Chiles. Rather, it’s embedded deep in the countryside, beyond rolling pineapple fields. Once you do find the road, you can’t go very far before it becomes impassable.If the road were complete, you could drive all the way to Delta Costa Rica, a patch of land where the Colorado and San Juan rivers merge. Yet the actual geography is far more confusing – as is every other aspect of la trocha.Since its inception, Route 1856 has been a political nightmare. When the Nicaraguan government started to build a canal through the marshy flatlands of Isla Portillos in 2010, the Costa Rican government called the construction — and the presence in the area of Nicaraguan troops — an “invasion” and filed suit against its neighbor in the International Court of Justice in The Hague.Then, in 2011, President Laura Chinchilla’s administration came up with a passive-aggressive counter-attack: it declared a national emergency that it said required the government to build a roadway paralleling the border in order to protect national sovereignty. The emergency decree allowed the government to forego the normal environmental review process.The road project was immediately attacked — in Costa Rica and Nicaragua — and was soon mired in allegations of corruption. In 2012, Costa Rican daily La Nación reported that five businesses hired for the project did not own the necessary equipment and had no experience as state contractors. The $5.6 million debacle forced Public Works and Transport Minister Francisco Jiménez to resign and did serious damage to the National Roadway Council’s (CONAVI) reputation.Meanwhile, the Nicaraguan government accused Costa Rica of filling up the San Juan River with construction runoff and filed its own suit before the International Court of Justice in December 2011. The dueling lawsuits were joined into one case in 2013 and both countries gave their final oral arguments in the dispute last month. A ruling could come before the end of this year.Recommended: Costa Rica, Nicaragua enter final hearings at The Hague in border disputeCosta Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís has publicly promised to clean up his predecessor’s trocha mess, but how that happens is unclear. Transport Ministry spokesman Roberto López Alpízar said design plans were still pending for the route’s five sections. The infamous Route 1856, also known as the “Trocha Fronteriza,” with Nicaragua on the left and Costa Rica on the right, April 29, 2015. Alberto Font/The Tico timesFor all its controversy, the road itself has largely been a mystery to the general public because of its remoteness. Near Los Chiles, the road looks unremarkable, just a yellow stretch of gravel cutting straight toward the horizon, and its significance isn’t visible to the naked eye. But here, if you cross the road, you step onto Nicaraguan soil. There is no fence, no sign, and no soldier patrolling the route. The ramshackle houses look identical on both sides, as do the ragged residents.Costa Rican farmers use the road to transport pineapples in large trucks, and scattered locals use the road to walk or drive home. Nicaraguans are forbidden to drive on the trocha, but schoolchildren heading home frequently zigzag from one country to the other without a second thought.Here the San Juan River is nowhere in sight. The road doesn’t begin to closely parallel the river until further east. The region feels isolated, and it is. A 2009 Hague court document notes that, by Costa Rica’s own count, only about 450 people lived along the 140 kilometers of Route 1856 that stretches along the San Juan River.On this end of the road, the population seems difficult to accurately estimate because many of the families here are longtime squatters.“We knew they were going to move us when they started to build the road,” one local said. “So we moved farther away from the road. But we know that they will probably move us from here, too. We don’t own the land.”Makeshift settlements punctuate the area’s peculiar landscape. Entire cottages have been fashioned from stray planks and plastic tarp. In this gray area between the two quarreling nations, quiet poverty is the norm.From its western starting point, you only have to travel a couple of kilometers before the road abruptly ends, at least for motor vehicles: Where a small bridge once forded a babbling brook, now there is only a pile of rubble. The makeshift bridge collapsed some time ago, and no one has ever replaced it. The distance isn’t great; walkers can easily hopscotch across the debris. Yet for a car or truck, it might as well be the Grand Canyon. A fallen bridge on Route 1856 near Los Chiles, April 29, 2015. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesIn a way, this collapsed bridge represents the trocha in its entirety, a seemingly straightforward project that is, for now, nearly useless. Looking at the road in person fails to bring its potential into focus. But one day, Costa Rican citizens and visitors could be able to drive the length of the San Juan River, until it meets the Colorado. The road might help the local economy, raising families out of destitution. The road could connect to the brand new immigration post at Las Tablillas, expediting travel to hard-to-reach communities and building commercial ties between the bickering Central American neighbors.But until then, the trocha is just a road to nowhere. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica asks international court to prevent further occupations from Nicaragua Damaged wetlands recovering along Costa Rica-Nicaragua border Nicaragua government praises ‘balanced’ ruling in border dispute with Costa Rica Nicaragua claims ‘cleaning’ of the Río San Juan follows world court order
Related posts:10 key quotes from Obama’s final State of the Union speech State of the Union is Obama’s bid to persuade his constituents of progress Obama’s skin looks different in GOP ads Obama’s brutal assessment of the rise of Donald Trump U.S. President Barack Obama promised that his finalState of the Union address on Tuesday night would be something very different from the six that had preceded it. And, he made good on that promise — abandoning the traditional laundry list of policy proposals to instead make an extended case against the vision being offered by 2016 Republican front-runner Donald Trump.“There have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control,” Obama said near the start of the speech. “And each time, we overcame those fears. We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the ‘dogmas of the quiet past.’”Trump’s name was never mentioned by Obama — and at least one former top adviser to the president insisted that the State of the Union was not meant as a direct rebuttal to Trumpism.And yet, the specter of Trump was everywhere in Obama’s speech.“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race our religion,” he said.“Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction,” he said.“The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians,” he said. “That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.”“When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer,” he said. “That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong.”At every turn — from his defense of the economic progress made during his presidency to a robust insistence of U.S. greatness and continued status as the one indispensable nation — Obama’s speech felt like a point-by-point refutation of the worldview put forward by Trump since he formally entered the presidential race in mid-June.The United States, Obama insisted, is already great. He cast the dystopic vision painted by Trump as not unique but rather simply the latest in a long line of fear peddlers at a time of national anxiety. That by rejecting the promises of Trump, the U.S. could — and would — re-assert the fundamental goodness at the heart of who we are as a people.Obama’s final words sought to drive that point home. “That’s the America I know,” he insisted. “That’s the country we love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future.”Even as Obama was uttering those words, Trump was tweeting some of his own: The #SOTU speech is really boring, slow, lethargic – very hard to watch! The #SOTU speech is really boring, slow, lethargic – very hard to watch!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2016 A better encapsulation of the competing visions being offered the country in 2016 you could not ask for. Obama appealing to the country’s better angels. Trump yawning and panning.No, as Obama likes to remind his critics, he isn’t running for any other office. His name will never appear on the ballot again. But, make no mistake: His final State of the Union speech was aimed at framing the race to pick his successor — and delivered with Donald J. Trump very firmly in mind.But, will it slow Trump? Count me as skeptical.© 2016, The Washington Post Facebook Comments
After his release from the U.S. base in Cuba, he spent nine months in an Australian prison and was released in December 2007. Now 38, he is married and works in the plant nursery business in Sydney.___Associated Press writer Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories In addition to vacating Hamdan’s conviction, the ruling has cast doubt on at least three other military commission convictions and has limited the overall number of Guantanamo prisoners who can be prosecuted.Hicks filed his appeal Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review, the first stage in appealing a Guantanamo conviction. The next step would be the same court that vacated the Hamdan conviction.A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, said a crucial difference between the Hamdan and Hicks cases is that the Australian pleaded guilty.“As part of that agreement he waived any appellate review of his conviction in exchange for a reduced sentence that he could serve in Australia and today he is free,” Breasseale said.Stephen Kenny, an Australian lawyer for Hicks, concedes the plea deal poses a challenge. “But it’s a minor factor simply because the issue is his offense did not exist in law; therefore no pretrial agreement is ever going to be valid,” he added.Hicks, a former horse trainer, admitted attending a paramilitary camp in Afghanistan that the U.S. said was run by al-Qaida and joining the Taliban in its fight against the Northern Alliance, though he says he never fired a weapon or fought against the U.S. or its allies. He says he was abused in custody in Afghanistan, on board a Navy ship, and at Guantanamo. 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Comments Share Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Men’s health affects baby’s health too MIAMI (AP) – An Australian who trained with al-Qaida in Afghanistan and ended up a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay sought to walk back the plea deal that got him home, filing an appeal to overturn his terrorism conviction by a military court.David Hicks was the first Guantanamo prisoner to be convicted of war crimes, pleading guilty in March 2007 to providing material support for terrorism. The deal got him out of the U.S. base in Cuba, with most of his seven-year sentence suspended, and he was freed by the end of that year. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Top Stories His lawyers have now filed an appeal on his behalf, arguing that a ruling in another Guantanamo case that struck down the charge of providing material support for terrorism should now be applied to Hicks. They say his plea deal was an involuntary act of desperation after more than five years in custody.“He literally had no choice under those circumstances,” said Wells Dixon, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based human rights group that has battled the government over Guantanamo since shortly after the prison opened in January 2002. “It was either plead guilty or follow through with his plan to commit suicide.”Hicks told reporters in Australia on Wednesday that the appeal is intended to help him get on with his life. “It is important, for myself and for my family and those who have supported me and had faith in me over the years,” he said. “It will help with closure and moving forward.”The appeal by Hicks is the latest fallout from an October 2012 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in the case of Salim Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden. The court ruled that material support for terrorism did not meet the criteria of a war crime that could be prosecuted by the military commission under the 2006 legislation that set up the special tribunal at Guantanamo.
Top Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers criticized federal officials Tuesday for failing to deport an immigrant with multiple felony convictions and an outstanding drug warrant who allegedly went on to murder a woman in San Francisco.“He had a criminal warrant but was released into the general society to commit a murder. Does that make any sense to you?” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who chairs the Senate’s homeland security committee, demanded to know at a hearing. “Because I’ll tell you it doesn’t make any sense to the American public.” Philip Miller, an official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, blamed San Francisco, saying officials there did not honor a federal request, known as a “detainer,” to keep Francisco Sanchez in custody.Sanchez, who is from Mexico and is in the United States illegally, allegedly shot and killed 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle last week as she was sightseeing with her father along a popular local pier.“In that particular case our detainer was not honored,” Miller said. “San Francisco sheriff’s department did not honor our detainer.”San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has defended his office’s decision, saying ICE should have issued an arrest warrant earlier. Miller declined after the hearing to comment on that assertion.Steinle’s death has offered ammunition to GOP critics of Obama administration policies, including presidential candidate Donald Trump, who’s cited it to justify his claims that many immigrants are criminals.At the same time it plays into a larger, politically charged immigration debate between federal authorities and local jurisdictions.Hundreds of local jurisdictions have refused to participate in a disputed federal program, Secure Communities, that allows local authorities to turn over information on immigrants they pick up to the federal government. San Francisco takes it farther than many, even boasting of itself as a “sanctuary city” that protects immigrants. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Sponsored Stories Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Comments Share Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of President Barack Obama announced last fall he was ending the Secure Communities program and replacing it with a new approach meant to address concerns about immigrants being targeted.But that has sparked more criticism from Republicans who embraced Secure Communities as an effective law enforcement tool and oppose Obama’s attempts to change immigration law through executive actions without Congress’ consent.House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., announced Tuesday he would bring Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson before his committee next week to answer questions on the matter.“Just recently, we were reminded that the Obama administration’s reckless actions, such as permitting sanctuary city policies, lead to tragic and deadly consequences,” Goodlatte said.__Associated Press writers Amy Taxin in Los Angeles and Janie Har in San Francisco contributed to this report.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Jetstar is reportedly undergoing negotiations with Japanese investors in a bid to enter the country’s challenging domestic market. A report from the Yomiuri newspaper said Jetstar will use funds from Japanese investors to fly domestic routes as part of the airline’s wish to expand in the growing Asian market. According to the newspaper, any potential expansion to Japan would be modelled on Jetstar’s current Asian subsidiary, Jetstar Asia, which flies to Japan from its hub in Singapore.e-Travel Blackboard contacted Jetstar on Thursday, but the airline was unavailable for comment at time of publishing. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: V.V
Tourism Tasmania has appointed Tony Mayell as the new chief executive, replacing previous head Selicia Mariani. Stepping into the new role from May this year, Mr Mayell brings with him experience from the public and private sectors, the bureau’s chairman Bob Annells said. “Mr Mayell’s experience in tourism distribution will assist Tourism Tasmania in continuing to develop and grow its relationship with trade networks throughout Australia and beyond,” Mr Annells said. “The travel trade are a critical component of Tasmania’s distribution strategy and we are confident that Mr Mayell will continue to grow the strong partnerships that already exist between Tasmania and trade networks.” Some of Mr Mayell’s previous experience includes Northern Territory Tourism Commission chief executive, Australian Tourist Commission European general manager and Voyages Ayers Rock Resort general manager. “Marketing the Tasmanian product and connecting Tasmanian product to the consumer and in our domestic and international markets will be significantly aided by Mr Mayell’s experience,” Mr Annells added.Mr Mayell will be moving from his current home in Northern Territory and into Tasmania with his wife and two children. Introducing newly appointed Tourism Tasmania CEO Tony Mayell Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T A blizzard wreaking havoc in America’s Midwest has been predicted to cause flight delays and cancellations.United Airlines and American Airlines are offering affected customers flexible travel options and alternatives.United said customers planning to visit airports in Chicago, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Grand Rapids, Lincoln, Madison, Milwaukee, Moline, Omaha and Wichita should check flight status updates regularly.“Customers ticketed on flights to, from or through airports in the path of the storm may reschedule their itineraries with a one-time date or time change, and the airline will waive the change fees,” United Airlines said in a statement.Passengers can source details, eligible travel dates, updates and make changes on the United Airlines website.Alternatively, customers can contact United Reservations at 800-UNITED-1.Customers ticketed on American Airlines, American Eagle or AmericanConnection flights on either 20 or 21 December to, from, or through the cities listed below, and whose ticket was issued no later than Dec. 19, may have their ticket reissued without a change fee for one ticket change.Cedar Rapids, Chicago, Des Moines, Grand Island, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison, Manhattan, Marquette, Milwaukee, Moline, Omaha, Rochester, Sioux City, Traverse City, Waterloo, Wausau and Wichita.To change travel dates, contact American Reservations at 1-800-433-7300 within the U.S. or Canada.Customers outside the U.S. or Canada are encouraged to check American’s website for more information.AccuWeather has reported rapidly deteriorating roadway conditions from eastern Colorado to central Nebraska and northwestern Kansas.
Thick fog has again caused minor disruptions today, with carriers taking to Twitter to warn caution travellers ‘flights may be delayed’.Although Virgin Australia and Qantas websites advise several flights from Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane have been cancelled or delayed by more than 45 minutes, a Qantas spokesperson told ABC Radio, flights could be delayed by as much as four hours and even some expected to be diverted to Brisbane and Melbourne.“Please check your flight status,” a Qantas tweet read.International flights arriving into Sydney yesterday were also held up, as fog on the runway made it difficult for pilots to see the runway.Click here for more information.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: NJ Delays this morning as fog blankets Sydney runways. Image: Twitter @debobrien