Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSLO: RCL) has released its 2014 Sustainability Report, which documents the Company’s commitment to environmental stewardship and showcases improved efficiencies across its fleet.At RCL, the same commitment to innovative design that creates crowd-pleasing consumer features like robotic bartenders and skydiving machines also leads to a dedicated search for improved environmental performance.New technologies like RCL’s air lubrication system, which creates a reduced friction layer of billions of microscopic air bubbles on a ship’s hull, have helped Royal Caribbean launch some of the lowest-emission ships in the industry. RCL’s new Quantum-class ships, for example, emit about 20 percent less carbon dioxide than previous designs.“At Royal Caribbean, we are working to ensure that sustainability remains at the heart of our business,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.“We bring 5,000,000 guests to nearly 500 ports around the world every year, and we understand the need to act responsibly towards the oceans that we sail and the places we visit. Our mantra is continuous improvement and we constantly strive to find new and better ways to meet those goals.”In the report, the company noted the successful delivery of the breakthrough Quantum-class ships, the expansion of its Advanced Emissions Purification program and its plans to update its Save the Waves goals into the next decade.Ambitious goals and innovative thinking resulted in the Company’s Florida-based ships achieving a major milestone of not landing anything to a traditional landfill and a 114 percent increase in waste recycled across the fleet.Royal Caribbean’s commitment to promoting conservation and sustainable tourism is an important part of its plan for responsible and sustainable economic growth.In 2014, the company, together with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, the Organisation of American States, the US State Department, and Sustainable Travel International, launched the Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas (SDAA) to focus on destination sustainability in the Americas – the largest scale partnership of its kind.For the second year, the Company developed its sustainability report in accordance with the internationally recognised GRI G4 guidelines. Additional highlights from the report include:2014 greenhouse gas emissions are 21.4 percent lower than the 2005 baseline.Royal Caribbean International became the first cruise line to launch a specialised autism initiative, in collaboration with Autism of the Seas, to make the ships a more welcoming environment for autistic guests and their families.The company increased responsible local sourcing in Europe, Asia and Australia and New Zealand, with a 20 percent increase in Australia and New Zealand.RCL also received a first-ever certification from RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organisation in the United States, recognising the company’s professionalism in preventing and responding to security incidents. Read the full report hereSource = Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Source = Queensland Tourism Industry Council Queensland Tourism Industry CouncilThe Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC), the state’s peak industry body for tourism, believes measures to curb violence and early-morning unsociable behaviour will enhance the attractiveness of Queensland’s entertainment areas and destinations.Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind said QTIC members and industry partners were overwhelmingly in support of the new legislation amendments that will see changes to the service of alcohol as part of the Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence Legislation Amendment Bill 2015.“Regardless of where anyone stands on this issue, everybody wants to see less violence. That is what QTIC is hoping to see,” Mr Gschwind said.Mr Gschwind said under the previous government, QTIC participated in an Expert Reference Panel which included a broad range of industry associations and government agencies to discuss the hotly-debated issues.“The broad consensus of that group was that service of alcohol should be stopped earlier as one of many measures to address violence and related issues,” he said.“A survey of QTIC members revealed that the current government’s proposed changes were supported by Queensland’s tourism and hospitality industry.”QTIC wrote to Mr Furner MP, Chair of the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, regarding the Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence Legislation Amendment Bill 2015. The position taken by QTIC was:Support for the proposed regulatory amendments relating the change in service of alcohol hours to 2:00am and 3:00am respectively in ‘safe night’ precincts.Support the ban of high-alcohol drinks after 12:00am.No support for the proposed ‘lock-out’ at 1:00am in ‘safe night’ precincts. It potentially would add unnecessary confusion to the provisions and does not offer any significant positive benefit to address the problem at hand.A recommendation that the proposed legislative changes should be considered within a broader approach to the problems of alcohol and violence, including educational campaigns, late night transport solutions and other practical initiatives. In addition, a structured framework should be established that facilitates shared responsibilities and engagement between government agencies, industry organisations, community groups and other stakeholders that could drive and monitor the desired ‘cultural change’ necessary to address the problems.Mr Gschwind said the measures now adopted by the Queensland Government are in line with that position, albeit that the 1:00am lock-out provisions are still being planned for February 2017.“The impact of the earlier end-of-alcohol service on tourism is still a topic of debate and will most likely to continue for some time,” he said.“On balance, we believe the benefits of less violence, less early-morning unsociable behaviour will enhance the attractiveness of our entertainment areas and our destinations.“It is also worth noting that venues will not be forced to close at those times. Food and non-alcoholic beverages service can continue, as can entertainment. Further, for drinks bought before 2:00am or 3:00am a grace period for consumption applies.“It is possible that some businesses will be adversely affected by not being able serve more alcohol beyond those times but the evidence in other destinations in Australia, the United States, Canada and Europe, where similar or even earlier closing times apply, suggests that visitor numbers are unaffected and in fact new business opportunities arise from more customers frequenting those areas.”QTIC is the peak industry body for tourism in Queensland, acting as “The Voice of Tourism”. It is a private sector, membership-based organisation representing the interests of the tourism and hospitality industry across Queensland. Queensland Tourism Industry Council
British Airways signs new codeshare agreementBritish Airways signs new codeshare agreementThe new agreement, which comes into effect on 1 September when Loganair begins operating as an independent airline, will enable customers from the Highlands and Islands to book directly onto services on British Airways’ global network at London’s Heathrow, Gatwick and City Airports, serving more than 200 destinations..Loganair customers will be able to connect onto British Airways domestic services at Inverness, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, flying on a “through ticket”, with the facility to check in hold baggage at their departure airport straight through to their destination.Loganair flights between the Highlands and Islands airports and Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness under the new codeshare agreement will be eligible under the Scottish Governments Air Discount Scheme.The new Loganair services to and from Manchester will also be included in the codeshare parthership, enabling customers to take advantage of new connections from points including Glasgow, Inverness and Norwich onto the growing family of British Airways services at the north-west hub.Under the new agreement, British Airways is operating a codeshare with Loganair for the first time as an independent airline, although the two companies have had a business relationship that has stretched over a quarter of a century. The airlines operated as franchise partners between 1994 and 2008 and have operated a code share agreement under the Loganair/Flybe franchise..Rishi Kapoor, British Airways’ Head of Alliances, said “We are delighted to be strengthening our business relationship with Loganair with an agreement that will benefit the customers of both airlines. “We believe the new codeshare agreement will bring enormous benefits to the Highlands and Islands, significantly boosting the region’s economy by extending the global reach of the area’s businesses and communities through British Airways’ world-wide network with flights serving more than 200 destinations from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports. “Additionally, it will boost the region’s inbound tourism sector by making it even easier for visitors from all over the world to travel to some of the most remote and beautiful parts of Scotland”.Loganair’s Managing Director Jonathan Hinkles said: “Today’s announcement marks a new and welcome development in the long-standing partnership between British Airways and Scotland’s airline, Loganair.This agreement will offer new travel options to customers connecting via Inverness and Manchester, together with excellent connections between British Airways’ global network and Loganair’s extensive services in the Highlands and Islands.” Source = British Airways – Loganzir
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail, WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt, Surfing Australia CEO Andrew Stark and WSL professional surfers AirAsia to surf its way across Australian beachesAirAsia and Australia’s leading surfing bodies today announced a joint partnership that will see the World’s Best Low Cost Carrier become Surfing’s Official Airline Partner in Australia.Announced on the Gold Coast alongside the World Surfing League’s (WSL) Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast event with pro surfers Connor O’Leary and Paige Hareb, the deal between Surfing Australia, State territories and the WSL’s Australian professional series would encourage Australians to adventure beyond their own backyard and explore the hottest surf spots of Asia.AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said, “Aquatic activities such as surfing are part of what makes Australia a special place to live and visit, and we are delighted to form such a strong partnership with the Australian surfing community.“More than 200 of the world’s best surf breaks can be found in our network within easy reach of Australia, in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, the Maldives, Japan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.“With over 130 destinations across Asia Pacific and our exceptional service, we are confident Australian’s will have no trouble finding the perfect set to call their own.”Surfing Australia CEO Andrew Stark said, “Waves of Australians have been packing their boards and jetting off on surfing holidays to parts of Asia for many years.“Surfing Australia and our state surfing bodies are extremely excited about the program of work we have planned with AirAsia and delighted to have them on-board as the Official Airline Partner in Australia.”World Surfing League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said, “WSL fans can expect to see some wonderful additions to our Australian series including the awarding of the AirAsia Big Air© at the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast, Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach and Margaret River Pro in Perth.“I’m genuinely excited about the additions to the program and more importantly the engagement of our fans as part of this partnership – the WSL welcomes AirAsia to our surfing family.”To celebrate, the airline has launched its Surfs Up, Fares down sale alongside a special offer that will allow Surfers to pack and travel with their surfboard free of charge to selected destinations on the AirAsia network*.AirAsia pioneered long-haul low-cost travel to and from Australia in November 2007 when the first AirAsia X aircraft touched down on the Gold Coast. Since then, AirAsia has carried more than 6.2 million Australian guests on its global network.AirAsia’s Surfs Up, Fares down sale begins on the 19th March 2018 with fares from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast to the exotic surf spots of Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Bali and Thailand starting from just $239* one way. To book your next surfing adventure visit: airasia.com *Booking period 19 March 2018 – 01 April 2018 for travel period 01 May 2018 – 31 August 2018. Complimentary surfboard baggage allowance is available by using the promotional code ‘FREESURF’. The surfboard offer is valid for bookings made during the period 19 March 2018 – 13 May 2018 to selected AirAsia ports. For full terms and conditions visit: airasia.comSource = AirAsia
Gold Coast’s record breaking international visitor expenditureGold Coast’s record breaking international visitor expenditureInternational visitor expenditure on the Gold Coast shows no sign of slowing down as official figures reveal an upward trend.Preliminary International Visitor Survey* (IVS) figures released today (9 January) show a record $1.35 billion was splurged on the Gold Coast for the year ending September 2018, in the lead up to summer.Visitor spend increased by 13.3 per cent for the year, once-again outperforming growth rates for Queensland (11.5 per cent) and doubling that of Australia, which grew by 5.2 per cent.Figures reveal the global appeal of the Gold Coast remains strong with visitation topping 1.05 million arrivals, up 1.4 per cent.This cohort contributed 9.6 million visitor nights; up 3.6 per cent to drive record-breaking spend by international tourists.Destination Gold Coast CEO Annaliese Battista said the global appeal of the Gold Coast is going from strength to strength.“The Gold Coast is seeing an increase in international visitor spend – a trend likely to only get bigger,” said Ms Battista.“There is immense opportunity to build the international tourism economy in the year ahead.“This includes redirecting our investment and focus to entice high yield travellers from our core international markets including China.“Rather than chase volume, we are looking at a more sustainable approach to growing our slice of the tourism pie and that starts with owning our space and keeping our messaging simple, to lure international visitors.China accounted for the largest number of international visitors 269,000, down 11.7 per cent, followed by New Zealand with 207,000 visitors, up 6.2 per cent. USA saw the largest increase to 41,000 visitors, up 13.8 per cent.The Gold Coast also posted record-breaking results for domestic overnight expenditure for the same period.Total international visitors (for 12 months to September 2018) Total Visitors Total SpendAustralia 8.4m (+5.7%) $29.8B (+5.2%)Queensland 2.8m (+4.6%) $5.9B (+11.5%)Gold Coast 1.05m (+1.4%) $1.35B (+13.3%)Top 5 Source Markets (for 12 months to September 2018)China 269,000 (-11.7%)New Zealand 207,000 (+6.2 %)Japan 67,000 (-1.5%)United Kingdom 63,000 (-8.0%)USA 61,000 (+13.8%)Gold Coast overview (for 12 months to September 2018)Total Visitation Total Spend Total Nights ALOS1.05m (+1.4%) $1.35B (+13.3%) 9.6m (+3.6%) 9.1 nights (stable)* International visitor data is provided by International Visitor Surveys conducted by Tourism Research Australia for each quarter. Preliminary results will not include any data relating to purpose of visit for the September quarter 2018. This is because the quality of the main purpose of visit component of the passenger data supplied to TRA by the Department of Home Affairs has been identified as a concern.Source = Destination Gold Coast
Changi Airport named ‘World’s Best Airport’ at Skytrax 2019Singapore Changi Airport has been voted ‘World’s Best Airport’ by international air travellers for the seventh consecutive year, maintaining its position as the only airport to have received the accolade for seven years running.It is a significant achievement for Changi and the past 12 months have seen a number of enhancements and initiatives at the airport, including:The official opening of the newly renovated Terminal 4, which is the most technologically advanced terminal at Changi, using an end-to-end, fully automated departure process to improve check-in efficiency for passengers and fast track their departure journey. This process uses facial recognition technology to offer self-service at check-in, baggage drop, immigration and when boarding the flightA refreshed Terminal 3, including a community event space ST3PS, an indoor garden, new shops and restaurants, as well as weekend family activities for travellers and local Singaporeans alikeA first of its kind takeover with Warner Bros. Singapore to bring JK Rowling’s pop culture phenomenon, Harry Potter to Changi with a Wizarding World of festive cheer for airport passengersGreen initiatives such as the installation of sunlight sensors on the airport roof for optimum natural lightMr Lee Seow Hiang, Chief Executive Officer of Changi Airport Group said, “Changi Airport is honoured to be named World’s Best Airport. This achievement was made possible by the strong support from our airport partners. At Changi, we are fortunate to have a large community of immensely dedicated and passionate airport workers who strive to deliver the best experiences to our passengers every single day.“We thank our passengers for their continued support. Their vote of confidence motivates us in our pursuit of service excellence and pushes us to continue redefining what an airport can be. As we launch our newest icon Jewel Changi Airport next month (April 2019), we look forward to sharing with passengers and airport visitors the unique Changi Experience in a new way, with an expanded range of world-class facilities, offerings and experiences.”About Changi Airport GroupChangi Airport Group (Singapore) Pte Ltd (CAG) (www.changiairportgroup.com) was formed on 16 June 2009 and the corporatisation of Singapore Changi Airport (IATA: SIN, ICAO: WSSS) followed on 1 July 2009. As the company managing Changi Airport, CAG undertakes key functions focusing on airport operations and management, air hub development, commercial activities and airport emergency services. CAG also manages Seletar Airport (IATA: XSP, ICAO: WSSL) and through its subsidiary Changi Airports International, invests in and manages foreign airports.Changi Airport is the world’s seventh busiest airport for international traffic, managing a record 65.6 million passenger movements in 2018. Changi Airport has 400 retail and service stores, as well as 140 F&B outlets. With over 100 airlines providing connectivity to 400 cities worldwide, Changi Airport handles about 7,400 flights every week, or about one every 80 seconds.Source = Singapore Changi Airport
The launching of two main chocolate museums in Bruges has firmly established Belgian chocolate tourism in recent times. Choco-Story in Bruges opened its gate in 2004 and The Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate in Brussels welcomed their first visitor in 2005. Choco-Story is on Sint-Jansplein 2, which in the centre of Bruges. The museum is open on everyday on the week, except for days around Christmas, and the second and third weeks of January. There is an entrance fee that covers the tasting samples at the end of the tour. Additional 500-gram (18-ounce) souvenir bags of chocolate are available for purchase. The city even has its own official chocolate, the Bruges Swan. Like the rest of Europe, summer is without a doubt the peak season in Belgium and this is when many people visit the country. There is a chocolate festival that takes place every April around Easter time in Bruges, which serves as a prime attraction.
London recently hosted first Lumiere light festival, a brand new event set to transform the city’s streets and buildings across four evenings in January.Lumiere London, developed by creative producers Artichoke and supported by the Mayor of London, ran from January 14-17, 2016, 6.30-10.30 pm.At Lumiere, London’s urban landscape was re-imagined along with architecture in 30 artworks across four main areas: King’s Cross; Mayfair and Grosvenor Square; Piccadilly, Regent Street, Leicester Square and St James’s; and Trafalgar Square and Westminster.Parts of London’s West End and King’s Cross were transformed by Lumiere into a glittering pedestrian playground, with founding support from Atom Bank, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Heart of London Business Alliance, London and Partners and King’s Cross. There was additional support from a host of partners and sponsors, including Westminster City Council.Lumiere London aimed to attract Londoners and tourists alike into the heart of the capital. There were easy walking routes between many of the 30 exhibits and plenty of opportunities to stay and linger over a drink or a meal at the venues and attractions along the way.
Lemon Tree Hotels has divulged its plans of establishing eight properties in the UAE within the next three years. The midscale hotel operator is eyeing hotels and serviced apartments in Abu Dhabi, Fujairah and Dubai, expecting to open its first property.Rattan Keswani, Deputy Managing Director, Lemon Tree Hotels, explained, “You go where your customer goes, or where the demand will be created, and it is the spending power of Indians that we are trying to harness. Moreover, most of the development here is in upscale categories and although a larger number of travellers are in the midscale sector, nobody is filling the gap.”Lemon Tree has already stepped into the Middle East, with a partnership sealed with Sydney-based real estate company Raine and Horne to open properties in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, banking on the same for its growth in UAE.Sanjay Chimnani, Managing Director, Raine and Horne, further talked about opportunities in several Dubai neighbourhoods, including Jaddaf, Business Bay, City Walk, Al Barsha, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Jebel Ali and Jumeirah Village Circle.The hotel group also plans to expand in Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) has bestowed the prestigious ‘Award of Distinction’ to Zubin Karkaria, CEO, VFS Global, and CEO, Kuoni Group, for his contribution to the Indian travel and tourism industry.The award was presented at the 63rd TAAI Convention held in Abu Dhabi.Karkaria has served the industry for more than 25 years and established visa processing multinational VFS Global in 2001. Later in 2015, he became the first Asian to head the Switzerland headquartered Kuoni Group.“I am honoured to receive this recognition from TAAI, with whom I have been closely associated since the beginning of my career. VFS Global has always supported and cooperated with the travel fraternity whilst ensuring the overall sanctity of the visa application process as per requirements of our client governments. We owe our success to the trust that our client governments, partners, the travel trade, applicants, and all our stakeholders have placed in us, and are committed to the continuous enhancement of our services,” said Karkaria.Sunil Kumar R, President, TAAI, remarked, “Zubin Karkaria and VFS Global are great examples of the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the Indian travel & tourism industry. We are very proud to state that the VFS Global spark was ignited in India and then spread across the world like a raging fire. Zubin is a beacon for our industry and an inspiration, who has demonstrated that when you dare to dream and are committed to making it happen, virtually anything is possible. TAAI is proud to honour and recognise the contribution of Zubin for his pioneering initiatives which includes the establishment of an enterprise like VFS Global, strongly reflecting leadership of a highly commendable order, and supporting travel not just in India but across the world.”
Durban is fast emerging as a venue of choice for all MICE-led events, promising a winning combination of large convention centres and diverse experiences across wildlife, adventure as well as attractions for shopping and nightlife. This was further reinstated with the city being named as the host city for Africa’s Travel Indaba for the next five years.Africa’s Travel INDABA 2017 boasts large numbers of delegates, tourism industry decision-makers from all over the world and excellent year-on-year growth in numbers. The event drew the presence of President Jacob Zuma who announced at the inauguration that following a comprehensive bid process, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and Durban had been awarded as the annual event’s venue for the next five years.KwaZulu-Natal’s MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala said, “We are thrilled that the province has won the bid to host INDABA for the next five years. This will give us an opportunity to further invest in the show and ensure that it continues to grow, thereby increasing its contribution to the province’s GDP. Furthermore, it will allow us the opportunity to engage tour operators to partner with us in growing intra-African travel into KwaZulu-Natal.”Phillip Sithole, Acting Deputy City Manager, eThekwini and Head of Durban Tourism, said, “It is evident that robust engagements need to take place between the public and private sector to grow tourism together. We look forward to the innovation and transformation of Africa’s Travel INDABA over the next five years.”Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager– India, South African Tourism, said, “It is great that Durban has been awarded INDABA for the next five years. As a destination Durban has lots of potential for the Indian market. It is excellent that we will have the chance to continue to showcase Durban to the Indian travel trade through the INDABA platform. We hope that it will cement their belief in the city’s tourism potential and help Durban enjoy recall value among travel.”
Tourism Malaysia recently announced the launch of My Tourist Assist (MyTA) a mobile app to support the safety of traveller in the country. The app is developed by UST Global and managed by Jana Tiga Holdings Sdn Bhd, a company working with large Malaysian conglomerates.My Tourist Assist™ is an e-Government service under Tourism Malaysia. Malaysia is one of most visited destination in the world and app will ensure the safety of travellers visiting the country. The app is available for download on Google Play and App Store.Commenting on the launch, Gilroy Mathew, Head – APAC, UST Global, said, “We are happy to work with the Malaysia Tourism department in launching My Tourist AssistTM app. We launched UrSafe a few years back in India and witnessed a huge traction and applause by the Police department.”The app will also assist the traveller in locating places like police stations, hospitals, pharmacy, ATMs, Embassy, train stations and petrol pumps. Tourists can select the service they are looking for an open its location on the map to reach there.George John, Director ASEAN, UST Global, said, “We are excited to launch MyTA app with UrSafe feature developed by our Malaysia team. We are confident that the app will be of great use to the millions of tourists visiting the country and will help make Malaysia a safer place to travel to.”Dato James Wong, Chairman, Jana Tiga, said, “I’m proud to bring this app as it would certainly make the travel of tourists safer in Malaysia. Millions of travellers would benefit most from the many features of this apps.”Apart from being user-friendly and easy to use, the app is highly recommended by the Tourism Malaysia. More features will be added in the coming days.
Fixed mortgage rates barely moved in the last week, continuing to provide support to a market clawing its way back to normalcy.[IMAGE]According to “”Freddie Mac’s””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.57 percent (0.8 point) for the week ending March 28, up from 3.54 percent the previous week. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.99 percent.The 15-year FRM saw a slightly bigger weekly increase, rising to 2.76 percent (0.7 point) from 2.72 percent last week.[COLUMN_BREAK]Changes in adjustable rates were mixed. According to Freddie Mac, the 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.68 percent with an average 0.6 point (up from 2.61 percent), while the 1-year ARM averaged 2.62 percent with an average 0.3 point (down from 2.63 percent).””Low and relatively steady mortgage rates are invigorating the housing market. For instance, existing home sales over January and February experienced the strongest two-month pace since November 2009, while new home sales were the strongest since August and September 2008,”” said Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist at Freddie Mac. “”This strong demand helped push the “”S&P/Case-Shiller””:https://themreport.com/articles/case-shiller-indices-post-strongest-gain-since-2006-2013-03-26 20-city home price index (seasonally adjusted) in January to its highest reading since December 2008.””Moreover, the number of consumers expecting to purchase a home over the next six months rose to 5.6 percent in March, the second highest share since data was first collected in February 1964, according to the Conference Board,”” he added.””Bankrate.com””:http://www.bankrate.com/ reported slight decline in the 30-year fixed average, meanwhile. According to the site’s weekly survey, the average 30-year rate fell from 3.78 percent to 3.75 percent in the last week. The 15-year fixed and 5/1 ARM average were 2.97 percent and 2.71 percent, respectively–both unchanged. in Data, Origination Share March 28, 2013 431 Views Mortgage Rates Shift Slightly, Remain Near Lows Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bankrate Freddie Mac Home Prices Home Sales Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Service Providers 2013-03-28 Tory Barringer
Commentary: Does Homeownership Cause Unemployment? Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Values Investors Jobs Lenders & Servicers Mark Lieberman Payrolls Service Providers Unemployment Valuation 2013-06-07 Mark Lieberman Can the drop in homeownership be good news?When President George W. Bush followed his predecessor Bill Clinton in pushing homeownership, one loud dissenter was British economist Andrew Oswald, who argued that far from improving the economy–as Bush (and Clinton before him) said it would–homeownership hurts the economy in the long run.[IMAGE]Oswald produced data to show that every 5 percent rise in homeownership results in a 1-percentage point increase in the unemployment rate. Oswald made his case using state-by-state data, ignoring the fact that as homeownership was increasing nationally, the unemployment rate was falling.As the economy began to turn, crushed by the housing bubble, challenges to homeownership started to gain support. Underwater homeowners in states with high unemployment rates, the argument went, were trapped: They couldn’t sell their homes and therefore couldn’t relocate to states with lower unemployment rates.Now, Oswald and Dartmouth Economics Professor David Blanchflower are at it again in a new paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research with arguments even they admit may be shallow. Homeownership, they say in their new paper, “”leads to three problems: lower levels of labor mobility, greater commuting times, and fewer new businesses.””Their findings don’t seem to line up with a study by “”CareerBuilder.com and Economic Modeling Specialists,””:https://themreport.com/articles/study-employment-housing-growth-see-mutual-boost-2013-06-06 which saw a positive relationship between housing and the job market.In their study, Blanchflower and Oswald try to show not the impact of employment or unemployment on other aspects of parts of the economy but rather the impact of those “”externalities”” on unemployment.””Unemployment,”” they wrote, “”is a major source of unhappiness, mental ill-health, and lost income. Yet after a century of economic research on the topic, the determinants of the equilibrium or ‘natural’ rate of unemployment are still imperfectly understood.””So, they tried to look at the topic from the outside in.””Our study,”” they said, “”provides evidence consistent with the view that the housing market plays a fundamental role as a determinant of the rate of unemployment.””Using data on two million randomly sampled Americans, they built models estimating the number of weeks worked, the extent of labor mobility, the length of commuting times, and the number of businesses and reached four conclusions:* A “”strong statistical link between high levels of home-ownership in a geographical area and high later levels of joblessness in that area.””* High homeownership areas have lower labor mobility.* States with higher rates of homeownership have longer commute times.* States with higher rates of homeownership have lower rates of business formation.Though their “”conclusions”” may come from a “”statistical link,”” they offer little evidence to suggest any causation between the sets of numbers.Indeed, they seem to undermine their own findings, acknowledging that the “”link”” between homeownership and unemployment could take as long as five years to develop, during which time other factors may have affected both homeownership and employment.They acknowledge too they “”are unable, in this paper, to say exactly why, or to give a complete explanation for the [lower labor mobility] patterns.””Longer commute times, they say, result from greater congestion resulting from increased construction of both homes and businesses, but that would also mean more–not fewer–jobs.The congestion could just as easily be the consequence of increased construction, which would serve to expand, not contract, the labor market.The lower rate of business foundation, they suggest, “”might be the result of zoning restrictions and NIMBY [not in my backyard] effects … that are rational for homeowners,”” but then they add, “”that channel can be only a conjecture.””In their paper, Oswald and Blanchflower actually dismiss the argument that when the housing bubble collapsed, underwater homeowners were trapped in their homes.””A number of researchers later examined micro data,”” they wrote. “”The ensuing literature concluded that the bulk of the evidence is against the idea that home-owning individuals are unemployed more than renters.””To their credit, Blanchflower and Oswald acknowledge the possibility of flaws in their study.””Our analysis has a number of important weaknesses,”” they said. “”We are unable to assess the effect of exogenous changes in the structure of the housing market. We have had to rely, instead, upon an examination of the lagged pattern of unemployment observed a number of years after a movement in a state’s rate of homeownership. … This is potentially a weakness and means that some underlying omitted variable, or causal force, might be responsible for the link between [homeownership] and [unemployment]. That would not make the patterns in this paper uninteresting ones, but it would mean that a key variable is missing from the analysis.””A couple of months ago, the economics profession was rocked by a controversy over a paper written by Harvard professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, who left key variables out of a study that purported to show that heavy national debt burdens lead to slow growth and even negative growth. On the basis of their study, Reinhart and Rogoff said the United States, a nation deeply in debt, should undertake severe spending cuts. Fortunately, Blanchflower and Oswald stopped short of any policy recommendations in their paper. _Hear Mark Lieberman on P.O.T.U.S. (Sirius-XM 124) on Friday at 6:20 a.m. Eastern._*_Want to write an opinion piece for publication on our site? Send your submission to_* “”MReportEditor@TheMReport.com.””:mailto:MReportEditor@TheMReport.com in Government Share June 7, 2013 427 Views
Home Prices Up 4.5 Percent Year-Over-Year February 23, 2015 452 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News In a familiar theme amid the national housing market, U.S. home prices are down a little for one month, but still doing better than they were a year prior.Black Knight Financial Services released its latest Home Price Index Report Monday, which showed that home prices nationwide were down an almost-flat 0.1 percent in December. At the same time, 2014 ended with sale prices doing 4.5 percent better than a year prior.According to the report, the average home sale price in the U.S. in December was $241,000, up from $230,000 a year before and inching closer to the June 2006 peak of $268,000.Several states, despite the dip, showed average price gains. New York and Colorado each showed a half-percent uptick in sale prices, while Oregon, Florida, Oklahoma, and Arizona each saw prices rise by 0.3 percent. Arkansas, Georgia, Wyoming, and Idaho rounded out a set of states seeing climbs in sale prices.However, while recovery continues, Arizona and Florida still remain about 30 percent off their pre-crisis peaks, Black Knight reported.On the other end of the spectrum, the Northeast and Midwest showed the most notable price drops in December. Michigan and Connecticut each saw average sale prices that month drop by more than a percent, while Vermont saw a nearly 1 percent decline. New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island were down by roughly a half-percent in December, as were Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri.In major metros, Denver, New York, and Dallas showed rising home price sales in December ‒‒ 0.7, 0.5, and 0.1 percent, respectively. Los Angeles was flat, while Chicago and Washington, D.C., each reported dips above 0.2 percent. Detroit reported a 1.2 percent decline.Some smaller metros in Florida and Colorado, however, showed solid increases in average sale prices in December. Cape Coral, Florida, was up almost a full percent, while several other metros in both states showed at least a half-percent rise in sale prices.Like the major metros, small metros in the Northeast showed the largest sale price drops. Connecticut reported the most metros of any state to see drops, with declines in Torrington, Bridgeport, Norwich, Hartford, and New Haven. New Haven, in fact, showed the biggest metro decline in the U.S., with a 1.5 percent drop in sale prices. Atlantic City and Trenton, New Jersey; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Santa Rosa, California, also reported nearly 1 percent declines. Black Knight Financial Services Home Price Index Home Prices 2015-02-23 Scott_Morgan Share
June 1, 2016 513 Views Share in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News This week, housing finance reform is once again taking center stage as several industry stakeholders have sounded off on the topic, stressing the importance of protecting taxpayers and the mortgage industry in general.Several housing advocacy groups and civil rights groups wrote a letter to FHFA Director Mel Watt urging him to cease making dividend payments to Treasury from the GSEs, thus preserving their capital buffer, which is scheduled to be reduced to zero by January 1, 2018.Watt himself sounded the alarm in the industry back in February when he said in a speech at the Bipartisan Policy Center that there were risks facing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that were “certain to escalate” the longer they remain in conservatorship of the FHFA—namely, the elimination of the GSEs’ capital buffer.Ten groups signed the letter to Watt, including Community Mortgage Lenders of America, Center for Responsible Lending, Community Home Lenders Association, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, and the NAACP. The groups stated about the reducing of the GSEs’ capital buffer to zero, “This course of action is likely to destabilize the housing economy, undermine efforts to make housing finance more accessible and affordable, and drive up the costs of homeownership.”The groups in the letter agreed with Watt’s assessment of the risk posed to taxpayers by the reducing of the GSE capital buffer and pointed out that the director has “sole discretion on whether or not to declare quarterly dividends on GSE Senior Preferred Stock. The groups urged Watt to use his authority granted by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 to suspend GSE dividend payments to Treasury and “implement capital restoration plans so they have enough capital to safely manage their business and to support America’s housing finance system.”Also in the area of housing finance reform this week, the Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) called on presidential candidates to reveal their plans for housing finance reform, which includes how they will handle the end the conservatorship and the risk it poses to taxpayers.The FSR posed five questions to the presidential candidates regarding housing finance reform:How will the future system protect taxpayers?How will private capital be brought into the current system?How will the new system enable consistent sources of credit for consumers through the 30-year fixed rate mortgage and similar stable products?What will the transition be from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to a new system?Will you build on the current efforts underway to expand credit risk sharing, utilize a common securitization?“Since 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been in ‘conservatorship,’ which leaves taxpayers at risk for future bailouts while providing no long-term solution to ensure consumer access to stable mortgage credit in the future,” FSR’s Housing Policy Council President John Dalton said. “The presidential candidates have an opportunity to better protect taxpayers and help consumers by making housing finance reform a top priority.”FSR and its Housing Policy Council are advocating for comprehensive housing finance reform that includes gradually winding down the GSEs and replacing them with a structure backed by private capital. Capital Buffers Fannie Mae FHFA Freddie Mac GSE Reform Housing Advocates 2016-06-01 Seth Welborn Housing Advocates to FHFA: GSEs Need to Rebuild Capital
Legislation vs. Automation: The “Stopping Bad Robocalls Act” Debt Collection Robocalls Servicing 2019-06-21 Seth Welborn Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. and Ranking Member Greg Walden have unveiled the bipartisan Stopping Bad Robocalls Act.“Americans deserve to be free of the daily danger and harassment of robocalls,” Pallone and Walden said in a statement. “It’s time we end the robocall epidemic and restore trust back into our phone system. We’re pleased to announce we’ve reached a deal on comprehensive bipartisan legislation to stop illegal robocalls.”“The bipartisan Stopping Bad Robocalls Act offers consumers a way out by ensuring that every call they get is verified,” Pallone and Walden continued. “Americans should be able to block robocalls in a consistent and transparent way without being charged extra for it. Our legislation also gives the FCC and law enforcement the authority to enforce the law and quickly go after scammers. We look forward to moving this bill through the Communications and Technology Subcommittee next week.”The New York Times reports that the bipartisan bill came a month after “the Senate overwhelmingly approved separate anti-robocall legislation to respond to constituent furor over unwanted calls.” NYT notes that consumer advocates believe the Senate action didn’t go far enough, though it is one of several steps being taken to curb robocalls and “autodialers.”In May, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). According to the CFPB, the proposal would provide consumers with clearer protections against harassment by debt collectors, including robocalls. For mortgage servicers and other debt collectors, these outlines require a closer look.The National Mortgage Servicing Association (NMSA) last year wrote a letter to the to the Federal Communications Commision (FCC), outlining their suggestions for changes to regulations imposed by the TCPA. One suggestion involved a re-examination of the definition of an “autodialer.” For example, the NMSA proposed that it should be made clear that the definition of an autodialer does not include dialing from a list, and that the technology used must involve both generating a phone number in random or sequential order and calling that generated number. Share June 21, 2019 427 Views in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Servicing
MerlionSingaporeSingapore Tourism Board If you have clients travelling to Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) wishes to advise that the iconic Merlion statue at Merlion Park is still undergoing restoration works, extended until 15 May 2019.STB says recent rainy weather has caused restoration works to be delayed. The statue will not be available for photo-taking as scaffolding has been erected around it to facilitate the works. The nearby Merlion cub statue, however, is not affected.
“Yeah, it was definitely exciting to get some turnovers,” he said. “Any time you get turnovers, you put your team in position to score and that usually turns into a win.”Mathieu is also getting the attention of those on offense — most notably quarterback Carson Palmer.“Tyrann is getting his hands on a lot of balls,” Palmer said Friday. “He’s so quick and explosive in and out of breaks and reading concepts and knowing coverages and weaknesses in where we’re trying to throw the ball.”Mathieu believes a lot of that has to do with his ever-growing comfort level. After a full year away from the game, it’s all coming back to the 2011 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy finalist.“I think the game is definitely slowing down for me,” he said. “Right now, I’m just trying to get used to the shoulder pads and just running around out there just really trying to have some fun. It’s camp, sometimes it’s redundant so you just want to go out here and have some fun when you get on the field.”But it wasn’t all fun for Mathieu on Friday. Former college teammate and fellow defensive back Patrick Peterson lined up on offense and beat Mathieu deep on a long pass from Palmer. Top Stories Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling GLENDALE — Fans who have attended any of the open practices of the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in the last week have seen the defense get it hands on a lot of passes, both at the line of scrimmage and down the field.One of the main agitators on defense in the first week has been rookie third-round pick Tyrann Mathieu. The LSU product had two interceptions during Thursday’s practice in Tempe and continued to get his hands on balls Friday. Comments Share The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact – / 9 “I think he’s a little faster than me,” Mathieu admitted with a smile. “He got me on that one, so hopefully (Saturday) I’ll get him back.”The Cardinals will hold their Red-White scrimmage Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium. The session is open to the public and gets underway at 2:00 p.m.
Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Afterward, he couldn’t stop smiling. In fact, he sounded like he was on the verge of giggling after each posed question. “I was kind of thinking that (Carson Palmer) overthrew me a bit,” he said. “But it ended up being a great pass. It was right over the head, right in the basket.” The best part? His mom was in the stands watching. “I think it was his mom and all his family’s first time coming out and being able to watch him play, and to put a performance like that, it was remarkable,” said Fitzgerald. “We were all happy for him.” Kind words from the veteran, but it got better. “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised. If you get to know him, knowing what he’s been through, some of the tragedy he’s dealt with, he’s a really focused young man. He understands the magnitude of things, but it’s not too big for him,” Fitzgerald said.“That’s just a testament to his upbringing, his hard work and dedication throughout the course of his life to put him in positions like this.” One position Brown might want to be a little careful of, though, is when he’s behind the podium post game. He let slip that Palmer had a signal for him that told him he’d get the ball. 0 Comments Share “Ah, the rookie,” said Palmer when he heard, shaking his head and chuckling at Brown’s inexperience with reporters. He won’t be inexperienced for long. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Top Stories The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires John Brown, John Brown Throw it to him and he’ll run you down Sunday was special day for one Cardinals rookie. John Brown made a spectacular “Willie Mays” 75-yard touchdown catch to push the Cardinals ahead of the Eagles on Sunday — it was his fourth NFL receiving touchdown and first huge play in the pros. He also had five receptions for 119 yards and was targeted as often as star receiver Larry Fitzgerald.