Vienna unbeatable as world’s most liveable city

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VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria’s capital Vienna once again defended its position as the city offering the best quality of life in the world, while Iraq’s capital Baghdad remains the worst in an annual survey from consulting firm Mercer.

Mercer’s survey of 231 cities helps companies and organizations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff. Its criteria include political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport.

 Europe has eight of the world’s top 10 most pleasant cities: Germany and Switzerland each have three cities in the top 10, while New Zealand, Canada and Australia each have one.
 With a population of 1.8 million, Vienna topped the survey for the ninth year in a row, boasting a vibrant cultural scene, comprehensive healthcare and moderate housing costs.

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Vienna is followed by Switzerland’s Zurich and then New Zealand’s Auckland and Germany’s Munich in joint third.

Vancouver, ranked fifth, offers the best quality of living in North America. Singapore at 25 and Montevideo at 77 topped the Asian and Latin American places. The best African entry on the list was South Africa’s Durban in 89th place.

A year before Britain is expected to leave the European Union, its highest ranked city, London, fell one rank to 41 in an annual comparison.

“Cities in the UK continue to rank highly for quality of living, and remain attractive destinations for multinationals and their employees,” said Kate Fitzpatrick, Mercer’s Global Mobility Practice Leader for Britain and Ireland.

Over the past 20 years, living standards increased the most in some eastern European cities such as Sarajevo, now at 159, and Bratislava, at 80, the report said.

“As a result of increased living standards, a competitive labor market and talent availability, many of these cities have started attracting multinational businesses setting up new operations,” said Martine Ferland, President Europe and Pacific.

 Baghdad has been at the bottom of the list for a decade now. Waves of sectarian violence have swept through the city since the American-led invasion in 2003.

Yemen’s capital Sanaa, devastated by conflict, ranked two places above Baghdad, and Syria’s Damascus, seven years into a civil war, ranked six places above Iraq’s capital.

(Reuters)

Tourists Are Flocking To Tasmania

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Australia’s fastest-growing tourist destination is a sleepy island of half a million people still mocked by many mainlanders for being a backwater.

 That’s not deterring international visitors. Overseas tourist spending in Tasmania jumped 31 percent in 2017 and has surged 90 percent in the past three years as visitors flock to the state off the southern coast of Australia.
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Chinese tourists remain the biggest spenders in Australia, government data released Wednesday showed. Their love affair with Tasmania started in 2013 when model Zhang Xinyu posted a selfie from Shanghai cuddling a lavender-stuffed teddy bear she bought at a tourist attraction in the state. They became even more enamored after a visit from President Xi Jinping the following year.

Visitors to Tasmania can enjoy a world-renowned art gallery in capital city Hobart, world-heritage listed wilderness attractions, wineries, a growing food scene and some of the cleanest air in Australia.

 Spending by overseas visitors Down Under climbed 6 percent last year to a record A$41.3 billion ($32.5 billion). Chinese tourists pumped a record A$10.4 billion into the economy, a 14 percent increase from 2016, while U.S. spending jumped 3 percent. India’s spending climbed the most, at 16 percent.
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Australia is pushing to further bolster U.S. visits with a new tourism campaign, which first aired as a spoof trailer for a new Crocodile Dundee film during the Super Bowl. The government aims to grow the American market to A$6 billion by 2020.

(Bloomberg)

Americans are drinking a daily cup of coffee at the highest level in six years: survey

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(Photo: coffeeangel.com)

 

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – The number of Americans drinking a daily cup of coffee is at the highest level since 2012, with demand continuing to get a boost from at-home consumption and gourmet drinks, an industry study showed on Saturday.

Sixty-four percent of Americans age 18 or over said they had a cup of coffee the previous day in 2018.

That compares with 62 percent in 2017 and was roughly on par with levels last seen in 2012, according to results of a survey commissioned by the National Coffee Association (NCA) released during the group’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

The survey underscores a strong U.S. market for the caffeinated beverage even as demand for soda and juice continues a yearslong decline. Coffee, bottled water and tea have been major growth categories in recent years, the survey showed.

The NCA survey asked about 3,000 respondents what they drank yesterday at different times of day.

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Daily coffee consumption declined into the mid-1990s, when Americans drinking coffee on any given day fell below 50 percent, according to results presented at an industry conference in New Orleans.

Coffee is a bright spot for a global food industry facing stagnating demand growth for other products. In the United States, ready-to-drink products are boosting demand. In Brazil, pods and roast coffee are growing market.

“We see the cola industry is declining, (but) coffee is in the front row,” Roberto Vélez, head of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, said in a separate presentation.

Among the Americans surveyed, at-home preparation continues to be the dominant spot for demand, with 79 percent of those surveyed saying they had had a cup of coffee at home the previous day. Coffee consumed at cafes and other out-of-home locations totaled 36 percent.

demand for gourmet coffee, which includes espresso-based beverages and ready-to-drink, was steady relative to 2017 levels. The segment continued to get a boost from younger drinkers, with 48 percent of millennials saying they had a cup of coffee they consider to be gourmet the day before.

“There’s been a huge shift toward gourmet in the U.S.,” market consultant Michael Edwards said in the presentation.

Gourmet represents over half the market, he said. Major coffee roasters have been trying to tap into it. Folgers maker JM Smucker is rolling out a new premium line this year and Nestle last year bought a majority stake in specialty chain Blue Bottle Coffee.

Use of smartphone apps and delivery services remains niche. Nine percent of Americans who drank coffee in the past week said they had ordered it through an app, the survey showed.

(Reuters)

AirAsia to Sell Its Aircraft Leasing Unit to US-Based BBAM for $1.18b

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Jakarta. Malaysian budget airline group AirAsia announced on Thursday (01/03) that it will sell its aircraft leasing unit to San Francisco-based BBAM Aircraft and Leasing Management for $1.18 billion.

AirAsia, through its subsidiary Asia Aviation Capital, agreed to sell 84 aircraft and 14 engines to a BBAM-affiliate comprising New York-listed FLY Leasing, Incline B Aviation and Japanese investment firm Nomura Babcock and Brown.

Meanwhile, the 14 engines and 79 of the aircraft will still be leased back to AirAsia, which currently has 200 aircraft that serve 130 destinations in the Asia-Pacific region.

FLY Leasing and Incline also plan to acquire 98 aircraft from AirAsia – 48 of which will be delivered to AirAsia first – over the next three years, the company said in a statement.

“This agreement showed that this is the right strategy for our business as we have various valuable assets to divest, which in return can give us profit and stakes in two companies, and also minimizing our business risks,” AirAsia Group president director Tony Fernandes said.

The divestment is the part of carrier’s strategy to focus on its core business, while also decreasing its financial leverage. AirAsia expects to complete the transaction by the third quarter of this year, it said in a filing to the Malaysia Stock Exchange on Thursday.

“This is the perfect outcome to a strategy that we started in 2004 and I’m thrilled at the execution of our long-term vision. We have now divested of most of our non-core assets – assets that are no longer in use – and we are thrilled to be embarking on our new digital strategy, which will build a valuable group of assets,” Fernandes said.

AirAsia will receive about $1.085 billion in cash, a 10.2 percent stake in FLY Leasing worth $50 million, and a $50 million investment in an aviation fund created by Incline as part of the sale of its aircraft leasing unit.

“We are happy to start this new long-term partnership with the BBAM and FLY team. In many ways, we share similar values, which makes the partnership special. We hope that this cooperation will be long-established,” Fernandes said.

Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas, and RHB are acting as joint financial advisers for AirAsia.

BBAM is one of the world’s largest commercial aircraft leasing companies, providing more than 200 airlines in more than 50 countries with fleet and financial solutions. BBAM currently owns more than 400 aircraft.

Nomura Babcock and Brown is an investment arm of global financial holding company Nomura Group. The company is focused on leasing aircraft and heavy equipment.

(Jakarta Globe)

Glittering Morning in Mount Bromo  

Description: Mount Bromo,  active volcano in East Java, Indonesia.  The mountain stands tall at 2,329 meters (7,641 ft). One of routes to visit Mount Bromo is from nearby mountain village of Cemoro Lawang.  A jeep tour is also available to bring tourists to a stop at viewpoint on Mount Penanjakan which can also be reached on foot about two hours.

 

By Tourviewers

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Waiting for Sunrise

(Photos by Tourviewers)

 

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Morning Has Broken

(Photos by Tourviewers)

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Paris tourism shakes post-attack lull to record decade-best 2017

 

FILE PHOTO: A tour boat makes its way past the Notre Dame Cathedral on the Seine River in Paris

FILE PHOTO: A tour boat makes its way past the Notre Dame Cathedral on the Seine River in Paris, France, August 10, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

 

PARIS (Reuters) – Tourists flocked back to Paris last year as safety concerns following a spate of attacks by Islamist militants appeared to ease, making 2017 the city’s best year for foreign visitors in at least a decade.

Hotel bookings in Paris and the wider Ile de France region rose to 33.8 million, the local tourist federation said. There were big rises in numbers of Japanese, German and U.S. visitors.

The total fell to 30.9 million in 2016 from 32.4 million in 2015, a drop largely viewed as a reaction to the attacks, including a coordinated series in the capital in November 2015 in which Islamist gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people.

The 2017 tally rose 9.9 percent to 15,9 million in inner Paris, and 9.5 percent in Ile de France, which includes the Chateau de Versailles.

“The tourism industry has shown how resilient it is after the attacks, strikes and bad weather incidents that took a toll in 2015 and 2016,” said Eric Jeunemaitre, President of the CRT tourism body, adding that the trend was expected to continue in 2018.

Top of the most-visited list were the Louvre museum with 8.1 million visits, followed by the Chateau de Versailles at 7.7 million and, in third place, the Eiffel Tower, at 6.2 million.

Japanese visitors returned in droves, with hotel bookings in the entire Ile de France region up 32 percent in 2017, the CRT said.

One notably lower rise was that of British tourists which, while still the second largest national group, rose just 2.4 percent, which the tourism body attributed to a dip in spending power after the country’s decision to leave the European Union.

(Reuters)

 

(Travel Fair) Astindo eyes 25% increase in revenue from travel expo

(Astindo Travel Fair, March 24 to March 26, 2018)

 

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Association of Air Ticketing Companies in Indonesia (Astindo) is eyeing a significant jump in revenue from this year’s travel expo, Astindo Fair, which will gather hundreds of airline companies and travel agents in Jakarta and Surabaya on March 24 to 26.

The 2017 Astindo Fair is expected to lure at least 150,000 visitors and generate transaction value of up to Rp 200 billion (US$15 million), up 25 percent from last year’s revenue of Rp 160 billion from 105,000 visitors.

 

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“We have high expectations because this year’s venues are bigger than in previous years and we have been more aggressive in promoting this event,” Astindo chairwoman Elly Hutabarat said Thursday.

The expo, set to be held at the Jakarta Convention Center’s Plenary and Assembly halls in the country’s capital city and Pakuwon shopping mall in Surabaya, will bring together 150 exhibitors consisting of various airline companies and travel agents.

Elly also said the fair was in line with the government’s Pesona Indonesia campaign, which is projected to boost the number of domestic travelers in the country.

Indonesia is seeking to spur significant growth in the tourist sector in a bid to lure 20 million tourists a year by 2019, nearly double last year’s figure of around 12 million per year.

To meet the target, the government is working on developing 10 new tourist destinations, including Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur Temple in Central Java and Thousands Islands in Jakarta. (bbn)

(Jakarta Post)

Exploring diversity in tourism