Category Archives: Relaxation with YOUR lifestyle

People in this Swedish town gather in a ‘Solar Egg’ sauna instead of having town halls

Thanks;Leanna Garfield

Published ; Jun. 21, 2017, 5:41 PM

The Solar Egg by Bigert & Bergström.Jean-Baptiste Béranger

On the western border of Kiruna, Sweden, the state-owned mining company, LKAB, has been extracting iron ore from the Kirunavaara mountains for over a decade. But the long-term mining has caused fissures that are creeping closer to the city center of Kiruna.
Now, LKAB — which also founded the Arctic town in 1900 — is funding Kiruna’s relocation nearly two miles east, so that it can continue mining in the mountains.
Moving an entire town is no easy task and requires lengthy discussions with officials, the mining company, and residents. Local architects from Bigert & Bergström have designed one place where those talks can take place: a golden, egg-shaped sauna. 
Completed in late April, the sauna is a place for locals and officials to unwind and discuss questions and concerns about Kiruna’s relocation, the firm told Business Insider.


Located in Kiruna, Sweden, the Solar Egg is a sauna that’s free for anyone to use.

Visitors can book time in the saun ~> https://instagram.com/p/BTI25TCB8px/

By Jean-Baptiste Béranger

Its exterior is made of reflective sheets of plexiglass that were painted gold.


By Jean-Baptiste Béranger

The interior walls are made of pine ….

… and the benches from aspen wood. In the center, there’s a wood-powered stove made from iron and stone. The temperature inside can range from 167 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit (75 to 85 degrees Celsius).


Jean-Baptiste Béranger

The space, which fits up to eight people, is meant to serve as a local meeting place to discuss Kiruna’s relocation plan. “The egg shape seeks to symbolize rebirth and new opportunities at the start of Kiruna’s urban transformation,” the architects said.

Jean-Baptiste Béranger

To avoid being swallowed by the mine, Kiruna will need to move nearly two miles east. The Stockholm-based firm White Architects will be in charge of moving the town, where approximately 23,000 people live. Below is a rendering of what the new city center may look like:


Producing 90% of all iron in Europe, Kiruna’s mine has become the world’s largest iron ore extraction site. LKAB is also the biggest energy consumer in Sweden.
 
“It’s a dystopian choice,” Krister Lindstedt, a partner at White Architects, told The Guardian. “Either the mine must stop digging, creating mass unemployment, or the city has to move – or else face certain destruction. It’s an existential predicament.”Jean-Baptiste Béranger/Source: The Guardian

Later this summer, the Solar Egg will move to Nikkaluokta, a Swedish town about 45 miles west of Kiruna.

5 Things to Know About the Global Coffee Pods Market

Thanks ; 
Published ; May 8th, 2017

Euromointor International discusses five key trends that are shaping global coffee pods, including the growing power of Nestlé and JAB Holdings and the importance of addressing sustainability concerns.

5 Things to Know About the Global Coffee Pods Market

 

 

 

*a coffee pod is a single serving of coffee packed in its own filter (much like a tea bag).

Three Reasons Why Japan Is Falling Behind in Mobile Commerce

Thanks; 
Published; April 22nd, 2017

Many see Japan as a technology leader in various industries and the country is continuing to develop innovative solutions in the digital space. However, if we look at adoption of technology on the consumer side, there is greater inconsistency than might be expected.

Euromonitor International’s 2016 Digital Consumer Index unveiled a remarkable gap between Japan’s advanced digital environment and the slow uptake of digital commerce, particularly with mobile-based purchases that are increasing rapidly in other Asian countries. Whilst mobile digital purchases registered strong 17% value growth in Japan in 2016, other Asian countries registered even stronger growth, at a minimum of 30%. The leader of mobile digital purchases, China, saw an 81% value increase in 2016. This analysis aims to explore major impediments that are keeping Japan from what should perhaps be phenomenal growth in mobile digital purchases.

mobile-purchases-asia-pacific

CHART 1 : MOBILE DIGITAL PURCHASES IN ASIA PACIFIC, TOTAL VALUE SALES, 2013-2021

1. DEMOGRAPHIC CHALLENGE: LOW PENETRATION OF SMARTPHONES AMONG SENIORS

Smartphones are the catalyst for digital disruption in countries. The leading digital commerce marketplaces have developed platforms optimised for mobile apps. However, in Japan, smartphones are not as ubiquitous as one would expect. In Japan, the population aged over 60 accounts for 34% of the total population, and is characterised by low smartphone penetration. Only 28% of respondents aged over 60+ owned personal smartphones, according to Euromonitor International’s 2016 Global Consumer Trends Survey. This is extremely low compared to other Asian countries. Against the backdrop of low smartphone penetration among seniors, there also is a strong presence of feature phones that offer fewer functions in exchange for ease of use. As a result, a sizeable portion of the Japanese population is unable to take advantage of digital innovation.

CHART 2 : POPULATION AND SMARTPHONE OWNERSHIP IN JAPAN, 2016

population-smartphone-owners-japan

2. LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE: HIGH SECURITY CONCERN AMONGST JAPANESE CONSUMERS

In addition to the relatively conservative nature of Japanese consumers, there also has been a lot of media coverage on cybersecurity from the early digital era, which has made consumers concerned. For example, Consumers Affairs Agencies regularly warns against cyber-crimes due to the growing prevalence of e-commerce. As a result, Japanese consumers are highly concerned about the potential risk in online activities. In fact, only 6% of Japanese online respondents answered that they were willing to share personal information online, which was the lowest in 20 responding countries, according to Euromonitor International’s 2016 Global Consumer Trends Survey.

This hesitation toward sharing information online is especially true with mobile users. Many Japanese consumers utilise long commuting time on trains for mobile activities, but still feel uncomfortable entering their credit card information aboard a busy commuting train, afraid that other riders may see their personal information on the screen. Additionally, many are reluctant to let mobile devices store payment information, and would rather use alternative payment options, such as cash on delivery. In general, Japanese consumers are typically risk-adverse, and remain cautious about making payments on websites. Despite the rise of card payments worldwide, Japanese consumers bucked the trend, opting to more often pay for purchases with cash compared to other developed countries. Within Asia, while 85% of mobile remote orders were paid online in South Korea, only 51% were paid in Japan.

CHART 3 : WILLINGNESS TO SHARE PERSONAL INFORMATION IN ASIA PACIFIC, 2016

willingness-to-share-personal-information-japan

3. COMPETITION: MATURITY OF EXISTING SHOPPING OPTIONS VERSUS MOBILE COMMERCE

Another reason why mobile digital purchases have struggled to gain wider acceptance in Japan is due to the many other shopping options that Japanese consumers already have. One example of competition for mobile proximity payments is maturity of contactless payments using a physical card. This is because in Japan, consumers prefer to use a physical card to touch an NFC-enabled terminal rather than a device. Therefore, many mobile proximity payment brands such as Suica and Edy also offer consumers physical cards along with the digital payment option. Contactless smart cards, registered a 26% value CAGR during 2011-2016, and in 2016 Japanese consumers held an average of three contactless smart cards per person; far higher than in other Asian countries. Without a compelling reason to switch from contactless smart cards to mobile proximity payments, most consumers are satisfied with using card-based tap-and-go payments in an in-person environment.

SUMMARY

The gap between the advancement of mobile-centric products and actual adoption of mobile commerce amongst consumers is something businesses in Japan need to address. Communication with the customer or data collection made via mobile devices can be valuable, but is currently ineffective due to this gap. Over the forecast period, mobile digital purchases in Japan will continue to face these demographic, lifestyle and competitive obstacles.

However, there are positive developments that can help drive mobile commerce. For example, 2019 will be the first year with production of feature phones planned to be discontinued. Following the increase of low-cost smartphone plans, a switch from feature phones to smartphones can be expected. Moreover, solutions are being introduced in response to the high security concerns among Japanese consumers. For example, the mobile-focused fashion marketplace called ZOZOTOWN, implemented a post-pay product in 2016. GMO post-pay allows ZOZOTOWN customers to make post-pay options by cash, at convenience stores, after safely receiving their products. This is important as in Japan, credit card payments are mostly paid in full each month. Therefore the introduction of post-pay service will lower the hurdle and expand mobile remote purchases for those consumers who can only spend a limited amount of money each month, such as students and housewives. The post-pay options will support expansion of remote purchases while also meeting the demand of the cash-driven society.

Recognising the gap between digital connectivity available and digital commerce uptake, digital innovators and promoters like Suica should make concerted efforts to address concerns among Japanese consumers while promoting mobile digital purchases like Mobile Suica. Although mobile digital purchases in Japan is expected to see a strong 11% value CAGR at constant 2016 prices over the next five years, growth could be even stronger with consumers’ greater acceptance. In fact, other Asian countries are expected to see more than 20% value CAGRs. If Japan wants to remain a digital leader, its wider society needs to be incentivised to adopt mobile technologies. At the moment, it isn’t empowered – or interested enough.

 

Traveling abroad in the age of Trump

Thanks;Christopher Elliott

Published;6:03 p.m. EST January 1, 2017

(Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)

Some Americans may be nervous to travel abroad after President-elect Donald Trump takes office…but don’t be, says travel expert Christopher Elliott. Use these tips to feel safe while traveling abroad after January 20, 2017. 

How should Americans travel abroad in the age of Donald Trump? No matter how you voted in the last election, the answer is the same: carefully.

As the president-elect prepares to take office Jan. 20, travelers have expressed worries about how they’ll be perceived internationally after a lengthy campaign that tested the limits of civility.

“A potentially controversial president means you have to prepare,” says Colby Martin, an intelligence director for Pinkerton. “Americans traveling abroad need to have a comprehensive plan for staying safe.”
Reality check: Most international trips abroad will probably — hopefully — be uneventful, regardless who’s in the White House. That’s because our most popular destinations are Mexico and Canada, in that order. And they’re used to the ups and downs of our political system and accustomed to American visitors. Roughly the same number of Americans visit Canada as they do all of Europe. But wander outside the well-trodden areas, and things could get interesting, say experts.
“The likelihood of any impact on American travelers abroad” will depend on what policies the new administration enacts, says Scott Hume, the director of security operations for Global Rescue. He says you shouldn’t be surprised by people who ask you direct questions about American foreign policy and politics.
If your goal is to avoid those conversations, “Take care not to stand out as an American,” he says.
So how do you do that, exactly?
Taryn White, a writer and frequent traveler based in Washington, tries to maintain a cover. “You have to look the part,” she says. “This means no white sneakers, ‘I ? NY’ T-shirts, or sweat pants. It also means being considerate of local customs and dress.”
One simple trick: Pack black. Darker colors are versatile and ensure you don’t stand out. Beyond the wardrobe selection, it means downplaying American mannerisms like laughing out loud, smiling a lot or using hand gestures.
But others say now may also be the best time to identify yourself as an American. Kori Crow, a political consultant from Austin, Texas, and a world traveler, says that counterintuitively, the more fractious a country’s politics are, the better your experience could be.
“They’re more forgiving because they don’t usually equate elected leaders as a reflection of its citizens,” she says.
Crow says people understand that American visitors are not its ambassadors. “You’d be surprised at how many foreigners will over-compliment you just to try and make you feel more welcome,” she adds, mentioning a particularly warm welcome at Vietnam’s American War Crimes Museum.
All of the above is true. There are times when you’ll want to fade into the crowd, but ultimately you have to be true to yourself. And as the experts say, don’t leave anything to chance.
How do I know? Because I grew up in Europe during a time of controversial American leadership. Most people I met were smart enough to know that American citizens do not represent the American government, and they knew from personal experience that democracy is imperfect.
In fact, I think we should all travel more internationally during the next four years. Just to show the world that Americans are a far more varied lot than the politicians they see on TV or read about in the paper.
Three things you should do during the Trump years
Apply for a passport. Less than half of Americans have a passport. You’ll need one if you want to travel abroad. Go to https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports.html to start the process.Cost: $110 for adults, $80 for kids under 16. Does not include a $25 “execution” fee.
Learn another language. No matter where you go, knowing a few words in the native language will take you far. The next four years are a perfect time to pick up Spanish, French, German or Mandarin. Check out Duolingo (http://www.duolingo.com) for a crash course on your chosen language.
Build a bridge. Whether you strike up a friendship with someone who lives outside the U.S. or take a volunteer vacation outside the country, you can use your travel to show the world what Americans are really like. Check out organizations like GlobeAware (http://globeaware.org/) or tour operators such as REI (https://www.rei.com/), which offer extensive volunteer vacation programs.

This woman spent a year reading a book from every country in the world. What did she learn?

Thanks;Joe Myers, Formative Content

Published;Thursday 8 September 2016

In 2012, author Ann Morgan set herself a very ambitious target. She wanted to read a book from every country, in just one year.

Image: REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski

One-hundred and ninety-six books later, she’s written a book and done a TED Talk on her experience. She’s also created a series of interactive maps charting everything she read.
“It’s amazing the breadth of perspective you get,” she said.
‘An intensive course of global reading’
Looking at her bookshelves, Morgan was saddened to see they were dominated by British and North American authors. So, as she explains in her TED Talk, she prescribed herself ‘an intensive course of global reading’.
The challenge was enormous. Reading an average of about four books a week, while also working full-time, was just the first hurdle. Finding an English-translation from every country was also very tricky – just 4.5% of works published in the UK each year are translations.

https://youtu.be/Hh09xlzxRmE

The power of the internet

She posted an appeal online, and was staggered by the response. From all over the world, people began recommending – and indeed sending her – books. “It turns out, if you want to read the world, if you want to encounter it with an open mind, the world will help you,” she explains.
Towards the end of 2012, however, she got stuck. Having spent months trying to find an English translation of a work from São Tomé and Príncipe – the Portuguese-speaking African island nation – she was left with no choice but to commission a translation. She was doubtful whether anyone would be able to help with this.
But, within days of a Twitter and Facebook appeal, she had nine Portuguese-speaking volunteers all willing to devote their time and effort to translating a book for her. Six-weeks later, she had a collection of short stories to read.
She highlights the role that the internet played in making her goal a reality. “It’s testament to the extraordinary times we live in,” she said. “Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever before for a stranger to share a story, a worldview, a book with someone she may never meet.”
Mapping the world’s books
Morgan has created an interactive map, showing the book she read for every country. The map also includes a teaser on each one.
She hopes others will use the maps to chart their own experiences. For her, the experiment has broadened her understanding of the world. “Cumulatively, the stories I read that year made me more alive than ever before to the richness, diversity and complexity of our remarkable planet,” she said.

Doctors Agree—Stay Away From These Popular Health Supplements

Thanks; Kelsey Clark 


PHOTO: Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

September 12, 2016 NEWS
The supplements we often turn to as beauty or dietary aids may be doing more harm than good, according to new findings from Consumer Reports. Despite populating the shelves at pharmacies and health-food stores across the country, these over-the-counter aids can be contaminated with “dangerous bacteria” and often falsely advertise in terms of their benefits. All signs point to a lack of formalized government regulation surrounding these supplements, which can inadvertently lead to organ damage, cardiac arrest, or even cancer. These are the top five supplement ingredients to stay away from, as reported by Health:
Caffeine powder: Used for weight loss, increased energy, and athletic performance.

Green tea extract powder: Used for weight loss.

Kava: Used for anxiety and insomnia.

Aconite: Used for inflammation, joint pain, and gout.

Chaparral: Used for weight loss, inflammation, colds, rashes, and infections.

“These products don’t always contain what they claim to,” explains Ellen Kunes, the health content team leader at Consumer Reports. “That could mean you’re just wasting your money on something harmless—but the reality is, a lot of it is not harmless. … Many times, the FDA only gets involved after they get a report that there’s a problem.”

Kunes contends that eating a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, exercising on a regular basis, getting the recommended six to eight hours of sleep every night, and monitoring your stress levels are more than enough to make you feel happy and healthy. “We recommend getting your health from food and healthy habits, rather than popping a pill.”

Check out the full list of supplements to avoid over at Health.com, and try monitoring your health using the C25K app.

Creativity Triumphs Over the Law, Again and Again

THANKS;

Photo Credit: kaioshin/flickr

Published: August 30, 2016

 

Human creativity is a boundless resource. It produces great works of art and philosophies that explore the meaning of life. Creativity brings us technological innovation and exploration of the unknown. And humanity’s innate ability to find new approaches and examine problems from different perspectives also brings us ever-evolving ways for defeating the would-be tyrants and petty nannies in our midst.

Without creativity, not only would we still be huddled in cold, dark caves, we’d also be living unquestioningly under the thumb of the latest in a long line of control-freak tribal chieftains.

Take drones, for example. Sure, hobbyists have fun slapping cameras on them and spying on their sunbathing neighbors. But the remote-controlled flying devices have serious uses, too.

“The Yuma Sector Border Patrol has recently encountered small remote controlled aircraft, commonly referred to as drones, being used to smuggle drugs into the United States,” Customs and Border Protection announced in April. “The drones vary in size, but are commonly between 2 to 4 feet wide.”

The use of drones to carry contraband was almost old news by then. In January 2015, a drone carrying six pounds of crystal meth across the border from Mexico crashed in San Ysidro, California. Overloaded, the robotic smuggler couldn’t reach its destination. On a similar note, Brayan Valle and Jonathan Elias were caught near Calexico, California, while loading the nearly 30 pounds of heroin they’d already flown across the border with a remote-controlled drone.

But nobody knows how many loads successfully cross over the line between Mexico and the United States, unobserved and unintercepted.

When you think about it, drones make perfect sense for smuggling. The devices are difficult to detect, fly over barriers, and are relatively easy to operate. Even if intercepted, the actual smugglers have a better than usual chance of escaping themselves while authorities gain only one load of goods and an inexpensive and easily replaced widget.

Drones are such natural and affordable smuggling tools that they’ve become a favorite means f

When New York lawmakers crafted restrictions and registration requirements for so-called “assault weapons,” they had to write detailed descriptions of what they were banning, since the targeted category of firearms has no firm definition. Most New Yorkers just ignored the new registration requirement. But others looked at the list of features that differentiated restricted “assault weapons” from untargeted everything else, and tweaked their property to eliminate a few cosmetic details that brought them under the law. “The modified gun still fires at the same rate and with the same power,” noted The Guardian. “The shooter just holds it slightly differently. These modified weapons do not have to be registered with the state.”

Famously, tinkerers led by Cody Wilson harnessed technology to make it easier for people to make their own guns, to nudge personal arms even further beyond the reach of government officials. Wilson first created a working pistol with a 3D printer and released the plans to the public. The plans continued to spread and evolve even after the U.S. government ordered Wilson to remove them from the internet. “Limiting access may be impossible,” the Department of Homeland Security conceded in reference to the wonderfully subversive technology. Wilson has since moved on to CNC mills that turn unregulated partially finished AR-15 receivers into fully functioning rifle guts.

California officials responded with an unenforceable new requirement that people building their own guns out of sight of the authorities, using technology intended to kneecap the law, submit to background checks and apply for serial numbers. The DHS seems to be onto something about the impossibility of limiting access.

But even in a tech-driven age, human creativity can sometimes be very old school, in keeping with the age-old resistance to being bossed around. That’s certainly the case with the black market in contraband condiments that the Canadian province of Quebec created with a legally enforced monopoly on the export of maple syrup. In Quebec, people commercially manufacturing the sweet stuff are legally required to sell most of it to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, subject to centrally set prices and quotas.

Many producers are unwilling to tolerate the monopoly. “In scenes that could come from a Hollywood drugs movie, they load barrels of syrup on to a truck as quickly as possible, and then race it over the border line under the cover of darkness,” the BBC reports.

The rebels are taking a risk, since the cartel has been known to seize the entire inventory of producers who defy its will. The monopoly is open about its authoritarian ways, too, denouncing “certain free market advocates, libertarians, and other free rider types” in sniffy pronouncements.

But the rebels haven’t backed down—even taking seized syrup back in at least one high-profile, multi-million dollar caper. And now “the cartel that produces 72 percent of the world’s maple syrup is starting to crack,” according to Bloomberg, under pressures from the black market resistance within and competitive pressures from producers in freer economies—primarily American states where producers make and sell as much as they wish and buyers happily snap up local production as well as smuggled product from north of the border.

It’s an inspiring sight—scofflaw creativity bring yet one more set of control freaks to the brink of defeat.

Just imagine what the maple syrup rebels could accomplish with a fleet of syrup-hauling, 3D-printed drones.

or prison inmates to receive deliveries of banned drugs, cell, phones, and smokes—while those of us in the outside world still await the introduction of such convenience.

Innovation also drives letter-of-the-law compliance with many gun restrictions, as well as workarounds that render such laws irrelevant.

 

Thailand hospitality sector has best year for two decades | Bangkok is Asia’s most popular destination‏

THANKS;Bangkok Business Briefing/Centaur Management Co., Ltd. (Head Office)/Nicola Jones-Crossley
THAILAND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY HAS BEST YEAR IN TWO DECADES
Thailand’s hospitality industry reached new highs in 2015, enjoying its best year in over two decades, according to research revealed exclusively by leading research institute STR Global.
Thailand closed the year with an overall occupancy of 73.4%, an increase of 13.6% over 2014, as arrivals soared to near the 30 million mark, driven by the demand from the mainland China market. December was a particularly strong month as occupancy levels reached 77.4%, the highest levels since 1995.
Organised by C9 Hotelworks, in cooperation with Thailand’s American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and supported by the InterContinental Hotel Group, Thailand Tourism Forum, now in its fifth year, has emerged as an important platform for tourism news and discussion, attracting over 500 registered delegates this year.

Key announcements included global hotel chain InterContinental Hotel Group unveiling expansion plans of its Hotel Indigo brand in Phuket, following its Bangkok launch last year, and Southeast Asia.

“We are delighted to be expanding our boutique hotel brand, Hotel Indigo, after its successful debut in Bangkok with Hotel Indigo Bangkok Wireless Road in 2015. In Thailand, we are slated to open the 180-room Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong in 2018 with our partners Kebsup Group Company Limited,” said Clarence Tan, Senior Vice President, Development, IHG Asia, Middle East & Africa.

The hotel investment community was out in force, led by keynote speaker Kenneth Gaw, President and Managing Principal of Gaw Capital Partners, whose company handles over USD10 billion in hospitality and real estate AUM (Assets Under Management) across the world.

“As a destination for hotel investment, Thailand remains one of our preferred choices because it is one of the most attractive travel destinations in the region,” Gaw said.

“Operating costs are relatively low and there is an abundance of opportunities. Thailand will remain the preferred travel destination for ASEAN and all Asian markets for years and we wish to continue to grow and be part of that. But there is the opportunity for even higher potential if it can achieve long-term political stability and relax foreign ownership restrictions.”

Thailand’s unique position in ASEAN, its upcoming 30 million annual arrivals milestone, the China market and its economic woes and what is termed the “new normal” – a period of almost continual disruption and challenge in the destination – were all addressed – along with the future of the hospitality industry in Thailand.
… AND BANGKOK IS THE REGION’S MOST POPULAR CITY

Bangkok has increased its lead over the pack as the region’s most popular destination, with international overnight visitors breaking the 20 million mark for the first time, according to the results of the inaugural MasterCard Asia Pacific Destinations Index released. Second place was a close fight between Singapore and Tokyo.

The inaugural index provides a ranking of 167 destinations across Asia Pacific. Thailand dominated the top ten destinations, taking three of the top ten rankings, with Phuket securing fifth place (9.3 million) and the coastal city of Pattaya coming in at eighth place (8.1 million).

Half of the top 10 destinations saw 10 percent growth or more in international overnight visitor numbers between 2014 and 2015 – Osaka (54.0 percent), Tokyo (53.2 percent), Bangkok (28.6 percent), Phuket (15.5 percent) and Pattaya (10.0 percent).
The top 20 destinations of Asia Pacific represent around half of all international overnight arrivals to the 167 Asia Pacific destinations covered by the Index.
The top ten Asia Pacific destinations ranked by international overnight visitor numbers:
1.       Bangkok 21.9 million
2.       Singapore 11.8 million
3.       Tokyo  11.8 million
4.       Kuala Lumpur 11.3 million
5.       Phuket 9.3 million
6.       Seoul 9.2 million
7.       Hong Kong 8.3 million
8.       Pattaya 8.1 million
9.       Bali 7.2 million
10.     Osaka 6.5 million
Bangkok also ranked number one in total expenditure at US$15.2 billion, with Seoul (US$14.4 billion) coming in second place, followed by Singapore (US$14.1 billion), Tokyo (US$11.9 billion) and Kuala Lumpur (US$10.5 billion).Asia Pacific’s tourism industry is the largest in the world by total contribution to GDP, having overtaken Europe in 2014. Tourism contributed US$2.27 trillion to Asia Pacific economies and 153.7 million jobs in 2015
Matthew Driver, Group Executive, Global Products & Solutions, Asia Pacific, MasterCard, commented, “The tourism industry in Asia Pacific is continuing to show robust growth with an increasing number of destinations receiving well over five million visitors a year, driven by increased consumer wealth, particularly from China. Our Asia Pacific Destinations Index (APDI) 2015 reveals the continued resilience of the Thailand market for tourism led by a resurgent Bangkok, as well as the return to popularity of Japan for visitors as demonstrated by the more than 50 percent growth year on year in its top four destinations.”
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IMPACT SPENDS 500M BAHT ON EXPANSION

IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Center has set aside a budget of 500 million baht to build a Sky Bridge connecting IMPACT Challenger 1 and the outdoor area at the side of IMPACT Arena and a 5-storey retail building with approximately 8,000 square meters of floor space that will feature retail stores, restaurants, food court, and outlet stores. The company has come up with this investment in response to exhibitors and organizers needs of expanding exhibition space to support the growing popularity of their events.

“Although IMPACT Challenger is the world’s largest column free hall with a combined space of 60,000 square meters and has always been chosen as a preferred venue for large-scale trade fairs and exhibitions at both national and international levels, some events need more space to support an increase in exhibitors, visitors and sales volume as they have become more successful,” said Paul Kanjanapas, Managing Director of IMPACT Exhibition Management.

For example, ThaiFEX and Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair have expanded their floor space to 70,000 square meters and 80,000 square meters respectively by including IMPACT Forum. Meanwhile, OTOP City has spread over IMPACT Exhibition Hall 1-4. And more recently, the Automotive Aftermarket International Trade Fair (AAITF), a part of Thailand International Motor Expo which was held at IMPACT Challenger, took place at IMPACT Forum.

Construction of the Sky Bridge is expected to be fully completed during the next ThaiFEX in May 2016. Meanwhile, the 5-storey retail building is scheduled to open in late 2016.

 

AIS, TRUE IN NATIONAL 4G WAR

 

AIS and True Move both announced intentions to deploy nationwide LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service over recently bought 4G spectrum.

AIS says it has already deployed in 42 provinces and is investing THB34 billionto take the service nationwide (72 provinces) by March, the Bangkok Post reported. It says it will deploy 7,000 new base stations in the next two months alone using 1.8GHz spectrum.

True plans to invest THB56 billion on 13,500 base stations in n the 1.8GHz band and up to 4,000 base stations on the 900MHz frequency.

AIS will spend THB20 billion to expand its 3G network on the 2.1GHz band and increase its 3G base station total to 27,000. AIS has 38 million mobile connections, giving it a 46 per cent market share.

But while Bangkok hotels might be booming, exports fell more than expected last month.

Exports account for over half the GDP but fell 8.73% in December from a year earlier with the export value of US$17.1 billion, the Commerce Ministry said. The biggest fall was the China market, down 9.5%,

The fall exceeded analyst expectations.

The Bangkok Post said the fall was the highest since the 2011 floods.

THAILAND’S BIGGEST DATA CENTRE BEGINS CONSTRUCTION

Construction has begun on the new THB11 billion SUPERNAP Thailand, located in Hemmaraj Industrial Estate in Thailand’s eastern province Chonburi. SUPERNAP Thailand will be the first Uptime Institute rated Tier IV Gold data center in Asia, as well as the largest data center in the Kingdom.  The facility, which is expected to open in the first quarter of 2017, will have capacity for more than 6,000 data server racks.

“The SUPERNAP Thailand data center is a mirror of Switch SUPERNAP U.S. facilities, which are the first Tier IV Gold carrier-neutral colocation data centers on the planet. This cutting-edge data center will meet the global demand for innovation in Asia Pacific,” said CEO of SUPERNAP International Khaled Bichara. “With the emergence of the AEC and with Thailand’s focus on digital growth, this data center will set a new precedent for quality, security and innovation in Asia Pacific. We look forward to working with Thailand to attract more investment and more growth to the Thai digital economy.”

SUPERNAP International is developing the project in partnership with a group of leading Thai organizations, including CPB Equity, Kasikorn Bank, Siam Commercial Bank and True IDC. Executives from Kasikorn Bank and Siam Commercial Bank say the development of the SUPERNAP Thailand data center will enhance the banks’ use of technology to better serve their customers and provide a homegrown solution for Thai companies that seek to expand their IT capabilities.

“SUPERNAP Thailand aims to generate significant benefits for Thailand’s economy. This unique data center design will not only bring innovative technology to the Kingdom, but will also attract international investors. The facility will play an important role to support the country’s business development by showcasing Thailand as a regional hub for data centers,” said Siam Commercial Bank Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and SUPERNAP Thailand Chairman Deepak Sarup.

The new SUPERNAP Thailand data center will cover an area of nearly 75 rai or 12 hectares and will be strategically built outside the flood zone, 110-meters above sea level and only 27 kilometers away from the international submarine cable landing station, which links the facility to national and international telecoms and IT carriers.

ONYX USES REVCASTER

 

Leading international hospitality provider ONYX Hospitality Group has switched to Rainmaker’s competitive rate shopping tool, Revcaster, citing Revcaster’s functionality, the incremental revenue it generates, and the Rainmaker team’s responsiveness. Revcasterâ?Ts compatibility with numerous regional channels also factored into ONYXâ?Ts decision.
“Most critical for me in selecting a technology vendor is the partnership aspect,” said Stefan Wolf, senior vice-president, revenue and distribution strategy for ONYX. “From first contact, Rainmaker was prompt in responding to our needs and its product and services have proven very flexible. Of the presentations we received, we determined Rainmaker’s Revcaster best served our needs and, in fact, included some unexpected useful extras.”

Collecting market-specific hotel price information from hundreds of branded sites and online agencies, Revcaster provides deep-dive local knowledge and analysis, giving property managers the market intelligence and control to make real-time decisions that optimize rates. Easy-to-use downloadable reports are available anytime online in daily, weekly and other formats. Pricing data downloads into any revenue management tool or PMS.

Headquartered in Bangkok, ONYX Hospitality Group operates four diverse yet complementary brands Saffron, Amari, Shama and OZO each catering to the distinctive requirements of todayâ?Ts business and leisure travellers.

FABRINET HIRES NEW CTO
Fabrinet, a Bangkok based provider of advanced optical packaging and precision optical, electro-mechanical and electronic manufacturing services to original equipment manufacturers of complex products, said Dr Hong Q. Hou has joined the company as Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Officer. Dr. Hou brings to Fabrinet extensive technical and executive-level experience in the semiconductor and fiber-optic communication industries. In 1998 he co-founded EMCORE Corporationâ?Ts photovoltaic division and led the commercialization of high-efficiency multi-junction solar cell technology for space power applications.  Dr. Hou holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at San Diego, and he has completed executive management courses at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Early in his career he conducted research at the AT&T Bell Laboratories and the Sandia National Laboratories. He holds eight U.S. patents and has published more than 200 technical articles

GLOBAL MARKET ADVISORS HIRES NEW ASIA HEAD
Global Market Advisors, a leading consulting firm to the casino gaming, hotel, and airline industries, said Shaun McCamley has joined the company as head of its Asia regional office.  Due to the company’s growth, GMA recently moved to larger space in the central business district of Bangkok, Thailand, which is where Shaun will be based.  GMA continues to invest and expand in the Asian gaming and hospitality segment, providing clients with services such as financial feasibility reports, marketing strategies, internet/ social gaming, and government relations.
BANGKOK TO GAIN DIRECT FLIGHT FROM URUMQI
Bangkok has been chosen as the destination of the first direct flight linking northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to a Southeast Asian country, Urumqi Diwopu International Airport announced according to the China Daily.
The flight will be operated by China Southern Airlines between Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, and Bangkok, the airport said in a statement. Flights will be on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday each week, with a stopover at Lanzhou, capital of northwestern China’s Gansu province.
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How Panama Is Becoming The Next Luxury Hot Spot

Panama’s Cityscape (Credit: Panama Tourism Authority and Copa Airlines)Forbes-Panama-CityView-PanamaTourismAuthorityCopaAirlines

Panama’s Cityscape (Credit: Panama Tourism Authority and Copa Airlines)

THANKS;Jennifer Kester, Contributor

Panama may be best known for its canal, but the country isn’t merely a convenient passageway between east and west—it’s a destination made up of a unique mix of city, rainforest and beaches. One of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America, Panama is on the cusp of becoming a hot luxury travel spot.

April 2015 saw the unveiling of Soho Panama mall, a new luxury epicenter in downtown Panama City. Not only did it bring shops from the likes of Chanel, Versace, Burberry and macaron masters Ladurée, but the mall also will house The Ritz-Carlton, Panama when the 220-room hotel (with two swimming pools, a spa and four dining venues) opens in late 2016. The Ritz-Carlton company will follow up its Panama debut with a second hotel in the country; its Reserve boutique brand will open an outpost on Pearl Island, a pristine private island about 45 miles south of Panama City, in 2018.

The country also is making it easier to travel to and within Panama. It launched Central America’s first subway in 2014 and plans to add a second line that will connect Panama City to Tocumen International Airport in the future. Speaking of which, the airport is building a state-of-the-art second terminal to nearly double its capacity in 2017 (Tocumen is still in transition, but you can peruse several luxury shops, like Carolina Herrera and Valentino). Even the canal is seeing improvements—a $5.25 billion expansion, the largest canal project since it was constructed, will double its capacity when it wraps up in 2016. While many changes await for Panama, here’s why our Forbes Travel Guide editors think you should beat the crowds and go now.

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InterContinental Miramar (Credit: InterContinental Hotels and Resorts)

Where to Stay

Opened in 1997, InterContinental Miramar Panama is one of the city’s stalwart hotels. As part of an ongoing renovation, the cream marble lobby recently was refreshed and the modern, neutral rooms were upgraded with new flooring, beds and more. For the best views, book accommodations facing the water and gain access to the fifth-floor Club Lounge (which is slated for a makeover in 2016), where you can glimpse the city though big-picture windows at sunrise with breakfast and coffee and at sunset with appetizers and wine. The Bella Vista hotel sits along Cinta Costera, a 2.5-mile stretch lining Panama Bay where you can walk, jog or bike along a palm-framed path while taking in skyline panoramas. Follow the path south and you’ll hit the Mercado de Mariscos, or seafood market, where you can see fish mongers displaying local catch like corvina and locals popping by the no-frills outdoor booths for a helping of fresh ceviche.

If you’re looking to explore a less touristy part of the city, try Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower Panama in Punta Pacifica, a tony residential neighborhood. The 70-story sailboat-shaped building stands out on the city skyline. But what’s more impressive are the views from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the waterfront hotel’s chic guest rooms, the sexy deck where you can choose among five pools or simply sprawl out on a chaise lounge in front of an infinity pool that seems to drop off into the ocean, and the casino, whose 66th high-roller floor affords stunning vistas.

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Our Panamanian obsession: Riesen’s vegetable root crisps topped with national cheese, dried cherry tomatoes and avocado (Credit: Jennifer Kester)

Where to Eat

As Panama modernizes, segments of the capital city remain charmingly stuck in the past. Casco Viejo (aka Casco Antiguo), the city’s historic district that was established after 1671, landed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for this reason. It recalls Puerto Rico’s Old San Juan with brick streets and colorful Spanish colonial buildings with upper-floor balconies running the length of the structures. Even buildings with peeling rosy paint or a chipped-away straw-colored façade bearing “Me encanta tu piel” (“I love your skin”) in cursive graffiti look romantic rather than rundown.

Casco is the spot to visit for cuisine. One of the hottest restaurants is Manolo Caracol, where chef Andrés Morataya leads the charge in using hyper-local ingredients by any means necessary. About 70 percent of the menu (such as rice and cacao) comes from the restaurant’s own farm. Lobster and octopus are sourced from free divers. A team drives through villages scouring for chicken to buy them piecemeal. Morataya then turns these fresh items to modern dishes (order the tasting menu for a feast). Of course, the selection varies depending on what seafood, produce and such he can secure that week. But expect to savor dishes like a flavorful seafood soup with achiote and coconut, silky bone marrow covered with caramelized onions, or crispy patacónes (fried plantain slices) topped with prawns.

Venture outside of Casco to the bawdier El Cangrejo neighborhood for a meal at Riesen. After winning the annual Panama Gastronomica competition, chef Hernan Correa Riesen used the prize money to convert part of his family home into a small restaurant. Don’t let the modest dining room fool you—Riesen’s creative cuisine deserves your attention anyway. The chef incorporates Panamanian ingredients and modernist techniques to craft dishes like the addictive housemade vegetable root crisps topped with dabs of national cheese (soft and creamy, it has the consistency of ricotta), dried cherry tomatoes and avocado slices. Entrées include a filling grilled octopus with peach palm and coconut, and a tender 48-hour braised beef tongue.

While Morataya and Riesen represent a new, younger generation of chefs in the city, you’ll still find traditional Panamanian favorites. At lunch, follow the locals to an oversized seafoam-green window on Avenue B that looks nondescript, save for a blackboard that says “Menu” with a few dishes listed underneath it. The namesake chef at La Cocina de Rosita serves to-go plates out of that window. For a mere $3.50, enjoy authentic dishes like guacho, a Panamanian version of risotto, or almojábanos, fried cornmeal with cheese that’s pure comfort food.

A visit to Panama wouldn’t be complete without a raspao, a snowcone made with condensed milk and fruit. You’ll run into vendors throughout Casco hawking raspao, but seek out the shiny silver cart of El Viejo Talentoso (typically parked in the Plaza de Francia). The raspao whiz puts on a show, scraping shards off of a large ice block. We opted for the coconut, so our refreshing treat came with coconut milk, condensed milk, a honey drizzle and a sprinkle of shredded coconut.

For something a bit stronger, head to the hip lobby of American Trade Hotel (Ace’s first foray into the high-end hotel market) for a mojito or seco, the country’s potent national liquor made of fermented sugar cane. Order seco like a Panamanian—with milk and on the rocks. American Trade also serves as a jazz hot spot; Wednesday to Thursday nights, it hosts Danilo’s Jazz Club with Grammy-winning jazz pianist-composer Danilo Pérez, featuring local and international musicians.

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Panama Viejo (Credit: Panama Tourism Authority and Copa Airlines)

What to See

To see the city’s origins, head to Panama Viejo, where you can wander through grassy grounds, exotic trees and the 16th-century ruins of the first European settlement on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. The cathedral is the best preserved among the stone remains. Climb up 72 feet in its bell tower for expansive views of Panama in all directions. It once served as a lookout post for pirates.

Discover another side to Panama at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, which is a half hour from Panama City. Skip the resort and go straight for the forest, which is relatively young due to deforestation from the building of the canal. An aerial tram will raise you 280 feet above the rainforest floor for prime photo ops of the lush flora, including trumpet trees, mountain figs and balsa trees, along with wildlife. With the help of our tram guide, we spotted baby sloths, a chestnut-mandibled toucan and a flurry of butterflies (Panama has more than 16,000 species) during the 20-minute ride. As you glide through the treetops, you may hear drumming in the distance—there’s an indigenous Embera village nearby that performs for visitors.

Upon landing, you’re left to make your way up a 10-story observation tower (it’s all inclines, no steps, which makes it a breeze to walk to the top) to take in more rainforest vistas, and then you can catch the open-air tram back in the other direction.

Gain a deeper understanding of the importance of Panama’s biodiversity at the Biomuseo, which opened in 2014. The building’s misshapen roof panels in saturated hues like yellow, blue and red are enough to draw you to the museum, renowned architect Frank Gehry’s only work in Latin America, as is the lovely park surrounding it along the water. But step inside to learn how there are more tree species in 2.5 acres of Panamanian forest than all of North America combined. And if being in the rainforest wasn’t enough for you, the “Panamarama” audiovisual exhibit puts you in an immersive space plastered with 10 screens that offer an extreme close-up of the unique local ecosystem. The south wing hosts traveling exhibitions, but the goal is to fill it with permanent exhibits, including two aquariums, one representing the Pacific Ocean and the other the Caribbean Sea. Like the rest of this up-and-coming country, the museum has big plans for the future.

Financial details of L.A.’s bid for 2024 Olympic Games revealed

Thanks;DAVID WHARTON contact the reporter

 

Financial details of L.A.’s bid for 2024 Olympic Games revealed Coliseum

The Coliseum is shown during the 1984 Olympics. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

Eric Garcetti International Olympic Committee Los Angeles City Council U.S. Olympic Committee

With Los Angeles poised to become the American bidder for the 2024 Summer Olympics, new financial details about the city’s campaign were revealed Tuesday.
The official bid book created in Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office breaks down the estimated $4.1 billion in costs.
Organizers would spend an estimated $713 million preparing competition venues, the vast majority of which are already in existence but would need some work.

Several other major capital expenses would be shared with private partners, according to the proposal.

A developer would take the lead on an athlete’s village along the L.A. River, with organizers contributing $75 million. The media center would be constructed on the NBCUniversal Studio lot, with organizers paying $130 million of the total bill.
Those two venues could cost more than $1 billion combined.
The Coliseum would require a major renovation to host competition as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. The proposal states that USC officials plan to invest more than $500 million in the facility, which the university leases, beginning in 2017.

Organizers would chip in $300 million.

On the revenue side, the proposal estimates a $1.5-billion contribution from the International Olympic Committee, $1.4 billion in domestic sponsorships and $1.1 billion from ticket sales.
In all, Garcetti’s team expects to generate $4.8 billion in revenues. Subtracting a $400-million contingency fund against overruns and $150 million in insurance premiums, that would leave $161 million in surplus.

The mayor has said that, if Los Angeles is selected as the host in a 2017 vote, he would sign an IOC contract that would make the city financially responsible if unexpected costs exceed revenues.

The City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to give Garcetti authorization to make such a promise.

Los Angeles became the front-runner for the U.S. bid after Boston withdrew last month amid concerns over costs. The U.S. Olympic Committee is expected to make Los Angeles its official candidate near the end of August.