Regional events get 412000 boost from government

first_imgThe New South Wales government has committed some $412,000 in new funding for 20 regional events around the state for next year, with events receiving between $10,000 and $20,000.Announced this week, the new funding comes under the 2010 Regional Flagship Events Program which was established in hopes of expanding the reach of regional festivals and initiatives.“There’s always something to see in Regional NSW with a diversity of events ranging from food and wine festivals and country shows, to street parades and music concerts,” said Jodi McKay, NSW Minster for Tourism.“The Regional Flagship Event Program gives communities across NSW the resources to market and promote their event to a wider audience than would otherwise be possible.”The government funding will be delivered either through one-year grants of $10,000 or grants of $20,000 each year for three years.Hunter Valley’s Bitter and Twisted International Boutique Beer Festival is a new festival which will receive the $20,000 for three years, with next year being the first year.Other events which will receive funding next year include the Rally of Lithgow, Mudfest – Mudgee International Short Film Festival, Opera in the Paddock, and The Big Joke Comedy Festival. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/21263/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

QLD dominates as family friendly destination

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W IMAGE – Gold Coast Tourism Corporation Treasure Island Resort & Holiday Park at Biggera Waters in Queensland has been awarded the number one property in TripAdvisor’s Select Travellers’ Choice Hotels for Families Award, recognised across the board in Australia, South Pacific and the World for large hotels.The awards included 504 top family-friendly properties across 25 markets around the world including Asia, Australia, South Pacific, Africa, Caribbean, Europe and the U.S.Queensland properties dominated the Top 10 Hotels in Australia list, holding all spots except one that was secured by Beachlands Holiday Park Busselton at Busselton in Western Australia.  The Queensland properties were also prominent in the Top 10 Hotels in the South Pacific category, holding half of the field spots.Top Hotel for Families in Asia crowned Club Med Sahoro – Karikachi Kogen in Shintoku-cho, Japan as number one while Club Mahindra Kodagu Valley in Madikeri, India took the second place. Based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from travellers around the world, award winners and placement was determined by the hotels most highly rated by travellers accompanied with family. TripAdvisor spokesperson Jean Ow-Yeong recommends travellers looking to plan their family trips need to look at these highly-rated family-friendly properties for great vacation and accommodation ideas rated by travellers themselves.For the complete list of the 2012 Travellers’ Choice Hotels for Families, go to http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/TravelersChoice-Familylast_img read more

WA budget benefits bantam businesses

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T The accommodation industry has welcomed the proposed Western Australian state budget, citing positive prospects for small businesses. Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive Richard Munro was pleased with the inclusion of the $135 million payroll tax relief package, announced in the budget. “While major accommodation businesses in Perth are thriving, the same can’t be said for small businesses,” he said. The planned payroll tax package falls in line with a previously promised election commitment. “Operators welcome the Budget measure that will see small businesses with Australia-wide group payrolls of up to $1.5 million receive a full rebate of their WA payroll tax liabilities up to a maximum value of just over $40,000,” Mr Munro added. Disparate to last year, when the Government announced a rise in state royalties for iron ore miners, there will be no further increases to state mining royalties, according to the ABC. Mr Munro believes the payroll initiative supports small businesses in Western Australia and “has the potential to make a real difference… in regional WA where they are competing with the resources sector for labour”. Mr Munro went on to praise Colin Barnett’s other tourism focused efforts. “The State Government also deserves credit for committing funds for infrastructure that will directly benefit tourism, including the iconic Perth Waterfront project and the new Perth stadium.”last_img read more

Germanwings changes create new airline

first_imgNew Germanwings A319 livery Lufthansa’s low cost subsidiary, Germanwings is set to “revolutionise” Europe’s low-cost sector, with a complete product overhaul this year.From 1 July 2013, the “new Germanwings” will launch a completely new brand and product concept including three new fare types; Best – the highest quality offering covering the needs of business travellers, Smart – offering certain add-on services and Basic – the no-frills low-cost fare.The new product will also be able to book flights “a la carte” style, with the ability to create their own package and adapt it in detail to their individual flying needs. The airline’s logo and aircraft livery will also change, with the core element to be a stylised ‘W’ in blackberry and yellow colours.Lufthansa Executive Board member Carsten Spohr said the “fresh brand identity” will make the airline a “high quality” carrier and make it “attractive” to both leisure and business travellers. Aircraft will be painted in the new livery following the launch of the new brand concept this year. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Germany attracts more tourism

first_imgOvernight visitor stays growing.Image: Commons.wikimedia.org Germany had an eight percent increase in overnight visitors last year compared to the prior year, with 68.8 million overnight stays.According to latest figures, the country witnessed rapid growth in tourism over 2012, particularly from the Australian market, which increased 10.1 percent compared to 2011.Overnight stays from Australia increased to 701,601 in 2012, with the majority travelling to Germany during June, July and September.The biggest month for the Australian market was December, with a 22.6 percent increase in visitors.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J.last_img read more

Zuji transition complete

first_imgAdditional hotel content has been made available through the new platform, as a result of the existing Webjet hotel relationships, while the full product range will continually be expanded. Hong Kong will receive round-the-clock service benefits during the first quarter of next year. “With this engineering now completed, the full brand promotion of Zuji in Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong will commence shortly with clear brand differentiations in the different markets,” Webjet managing director John Guscic said. Webjet has converted Zuji sites in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong to its new network and associated links with Travelport’s GDS in order to streamline the user experience. Online booking website, Webjet, has completed the full transition of the Zuji operating platform to its new cloud-based booking application, linked to its preferred global distribution system (GDS). New features include improved packages content, advanced filtering, multiple date range shopping and 24-7 service delivery for all functions in Australia and Singapore. Source = ETB News: P.T.last_img read more

AIME media dinner at Saint Crispin Melbourne

first_imgMedia attending AIME were wined and dined to their heat’s content at one of Melbourne’s finest new establishment, Saint Crispin restaurant in the edgy, ultra-Melbourne suburb of Collingwood. Check out our photo gallery here. The restaurant was exclusively booked out for the night for the special event, with a delectabe six course degustation menu especially prepared by chefs Joe Grbac and Scott Pickett and matched perfectly to a selection of Victoria’s finest, award winning wines. For reservations and more information, check out the website here.center_img “We really wanted to treat you all tonight to express our thanks for being a part of AIME for yet another successful year, and what better way to do it than showing you exactly what we Melbournians get up to and bringing you here, to Saint Crispin, a truly authentic Melbourne restaurant,” Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre chief executive Peter King said. Source = ETB News: L.B.last_img read more

Garuda Indonesia goes higher in its Quantum Leap

first_imgGaruda Indonesia is making inroads in its 2011-2015 restructuring plan, with a new Boeing 777-300ER service to be launched between Sydney and Bali, Denpasar and building new routes.This year, Garuda Indonesia will build on its Skytrax four star rating for customer service, will secure its own dedicated terminal at Denpasar Airport, will fly to all provincial airports on the Indonesian archipelago and will continue to operate codeshare flights with Delta Airlines between Tokyo, LA and Seattle.The Quantum Leap, which is the key part of the plan, includes growing and dominating the Indonesian domestic market, developing its international presence, building on its LCC Citilink’s potential, expanding its fleet, using the new brand colours to develop a better identity, enforcing cost discipline and investing in human capital.By 2015 (Quantum Leap Year), Garuda also aims to have its first dedicated service for Muslims going on Hajj as well as an expanded fleet of 154 aircraft with an average fleet age of less than six years and carry 35.2 million passengers per annum across its international and domestic routes.Garuda is also positioned to do very well from the potential of the Indonesian aviation market, with 21 per cent growth in the last few years and the current low propensity of Indonesian people to travel per head of population (0.8 per cent per capita).Garuda will begin flying its new Boeing 777-300 service between Sydney and Denpasar and Sydney and Jakarta in future.Source = ETB News: Tom Nealelast_img read more

Virgin Australia to introduce inflight WiFi

first_imgGuests flying with Virgin Australia will soon be connected and better entertained than ever before, with the airline to introduce inflight wi-fi on its Domestic and International fleet.From mid-2017, Virgin Australia plans to begin fitting out its Boeing 737-800, Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft with equipment that enables inflight wi-fi.Virgin Australia Group Chief Executive John Borghetti made the announcement at the launch of the airline’s new Long Haul International Business Class cabin in Los Angeles.“Inflight wi-fi has the potential to transform air travel as we know it. We are determined to give Virgin Australia customers the best possible combined connectivity and entertainment experience in the air,” Mr Borghetti said.“As well as providing access to email and social media, inflight wi-fi will improve the travel experience by providing guests with up-to-date information about connecting flights and their travel plans.“We believe our inflight wi-fi service will be popular with business travellers but also have widespread appeal for all our guests by enabling them to stay in touch and access the internet through their journey.“Our team is building what we think will be one of the world’s leading connectivity and entertainment networks, and we will work with strategic technology partners to offer our guests a truly personalised experience.”More details about Virgin Australia’s inflight wi-fi, including technology partners and business model, will be released by the end of 2016.Virgin Australia will work with relevant regulators to obtain approval for its inflight wi-fi. Virgin Australiabook your flights hereSource = Virgin Australialast_img read more

Sydney tops Tripadvisors Travellers Choice Awards

first_imgSydney tops Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice AwardsSydney tops Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice AwardsTripAdvisor®, the travel planning and booking site, today announced Sydney as the number one winner of its 2018 Travellers’ Choice® awards for destinations for Australia, as well as the South Pacific, while Paris clinched the top spot globally.For the second year running, Sydney is #1 in Australia with the Gold Coast coming in second and Melbourne earning the #3 spot. Queensland destinations of Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns, Port Douglas and Noosa made up half of the top 10 whilst newcomers Hobart and Adelaide rounded out the list. Also making the top of the South Pacific list, Sydney is joined by the Gold Coast and New Zealand’s Auckland at second and third place.“The Travellers’ Choice Destinations reveal the favourites among the global and local travel community. With the upcoming Easter break Australians should consider some of these award-winning destinations.” said Grant Colquhoun, TripAdvisor spokesperson. “Congratulations to Sydney for winning the top spot for the second consecutive year – the city’s spectacular harbour, stunning beaches, unique festivals, & evolving food scene clearly strike a chord with travellers around the world.”NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said that for all travellers – whether visiting for the first time or returning after discovering something special – Sydney never fails to impress.“Sydney’s natural beauty, iconic attractions, festivals and events and excellent shopping and dining options continue to amaze visitors from across the globe all year-round,” he said. “And with the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas; Vivid Sydney kicking off in May, now is the perfect time to plan your trip to our incredible Harbour City.”Gold Coast, which ranked #4 in 2017, climbed two spots to take second place in Australia for Travellers’ Choice Destination 2018.Jan Hutton, Chief Marketing Officer of Destination Gold Coast, recognised the importance of user generated ‘word of mouth’ content which can inspire and attract travellers to the destination.“At the core of our new marketing strategy is the winning aspiration to become Australia’s Most Recommended Destination. The number one trend in travel is to experience a destination like a local and we capitalise on this by elevating the voice of residents and visitors to humanise our “We Are Gold Coast” destination brand and to tell our story effectively.“The Gold Coast welcomes more than 13 million visitors each year and we look forward to welcoming more to our winning destination in 2018.”The Gold Coast’s Surfer’s Paradise Beach also just won #2 on TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Beaches in February, making this the second significant destination win for 2018.TripAdvisor has also identified top-rated hotels and attractions to visit, offering travellers insights about great things to discover in these destinations.Top 10 Travellers’ Choice Destinations – Australia:1. Sydney, New South Wales (Average annual hotel rate in Sydney: $338 per night on TripAdvisor)Home to the world’s largest natural harbour and Traveller’s Choice beaches Manly and Bondi, Sydney is like no other. The cosmopolitan city is brimming with activities ranging from cultural, nature, arts and gastronomy. Travellers can marvel the architecture of the Sydney Opera House, check out the food scene at Darling Harbour or take a stroll from Bondi to Congee along the coastline. Enjoy a good night’s rest at Ovolo Woolloomooloo for accommodation close to the city’s best waterfront restaurants and pubs.2. Gold Coast, Queensland (Average annual hotel rate in Gold Coast: $363 per night on TripAdvisor)Set against spectacular skyscrapers, the Gold Coast enjoys balmy weather, 52km of pristine sand and 300 days of sun. The city is great for nature lovers with national parks such as Burleigh Heads and Springbrook, and beaches such as Surfer’s Paradise. Book a tour at SkyPoint Climb for a 270-metres ascend up Q1 Resort Building and be rewarded by the panoramic view of Gold Coast and beyond. Complete the trip with an ocean-viewing room at Peppers Soul.3. Melbourne, Victoria (Average annual hotel rate in Melbourne: $277 per night on TripAdvisor)Melbourne may come across as a little laid-back but it is also known for its vibrant cafés, popular arts scene, massive sports venues and historic memorial sites. Visit the Shrine of Remembrance, a memorial of citizens who served in global conflicts throughout its history or head to Melbourne Cricket Ground to learn about the rich Australian sporting history at the nation’s largest stadium. Stay at the centrally located The Langham, Melbourne, situated on the shores of the Yarra River.4. Brisbane, Queensland (Average annual hotel rate in Brisbane: $212 per night on TripAdvisor)Brisbane is Queensland’s cosmopolitan capital that combines arts, culture and plenty of natural attractions. Board the CityHopper ferry to enjoy an overall view of main city and the inner city suburbs along the Brisbane River for free. Nature-lovers can visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary  where over 100 species of Australian native animals roam in a natural bush setting or Roma Street Parkland for scenic picnics in heart of the city. After a day of exploration, return to The New Inchcolm Hotel & Suites Brisbane, a boutique hotel built within a heritage building.5. Hobart, Tasmania  (Average annual hotel rate in Hobart: $238 per night on TripAdvisor)Perched on Tasmania’s south-eastern coast, Hobart offers fascinating history, thick forested mountains and gourmet experiences. The city is nestled on the foothills of Mount Wellington where travellers can climb up for a panoramic view of Hobart and the Tasmanian peninsula. Visitors can also head to Salamanca Market, the city’s most visited outdoor market where hundreds of stallholders sell locally made products every Saturday at the sandstone Salamanca Place.  Travellers can check-in to a harbour view room looking over the Constitution Dock and the Derwent Rivera at Grand Chancellor Hotel Hobart.6. Perth, Western Australia (Average annual hotel rate in Perth: $221 per night on TripAdvisor)Perth appeals to both locals and visitors thanks to its metropolitan attractions amidst relaxed surroundings. Travellers can take a complimentary bus service from the city centre to the Kings Park & Botanic Garden to discover unique Australian floras and capture city views from various vantage points. Also close by is Kings Park War Memorial, a fitting tribute for Australian servicemen and women who have served in all wars and conflicts in which the nation has been involved. Relive the past with a stay at COMO the Treasury, a beautifully restored hotel in a 19th-century state building.7. Adelaide, South Australia (Average annual hotel rate in Adelaide: $213 per night on TripAdvisor)Once known as the “City of Churches”, Adelaide has since transformed to an energetic city with plenty of shopping, art events, outdoor activities and some of Australia’s best café strips. With more than 145 years of history, travellers can engage in food therapy at Adelaide Central Market for a wide range of fresh produce alongside with some of Adelaide’s most popular cafes and eateries. For accommodation right smack in the city centre, travellers can make a beeline for the Mayfair Hotel.8. Cairns, Queensland (Average annual hotel rate in Cairns: $195 per night on TripAdvisor)Whilst Cairns is known as the gateway to world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, and Daintree National Park, travellers also flock to the city for fun under the sun and for its booming nightlife and outdoor activities such as ATVs amid a lively, tropical setting. Travellers can stay at Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut, suitable for families thanks to amenities such as a splash pool and adult spa.9. Port Douglas, Queensland (Average annual hotel rate in Port Douglas: $312 per night on TripAdvisor)The upscale resort town of Port Douglas is a another great base for exploring nearby gems such as the Great Barrier Reef including colourful reef sites Opal and Agincourt,. On Sundays, travellers can drop by theSunday Market Port Douglas which offers an assortment of items from handmade souvenirs to local produce. Rest at the award winning and budget friendly property Lazy Lizard Motor Inn.10. Noosa, Queensland (Average annual hotel rate in Noosa: $460 per night on TripAdvisor)Known for a world-famous surf beach and a great selection of boutique shopping and fine dining options, the sub-tropical town of Noosa enjoys year-round warm weather. Soak in amazing views on a coastal walk at the Noosa National Park whilst looking out for wildlife such sea dolphins, whales, wild koalas and monitor lizards. With amenities such as water slides and a games room, families with kids will enjoy staying at RACV Noosa Resort.Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and attractions in destinations worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period, as well as traveller booking interest on TripAdvisor. The awards honour 402 outstanding destinations in 42 lists across the globe.Top 10 Travellers’ Choice Destinations – South Pacific:1. Sydney, Australia2. Gold Coast, Australia3. Auckland, New Zealand4. Melbourne, Australia5. Queenstown, New Zealand6. Viti Levu, Fiji7. Brisbane, Australia8. Hobart, Australia9. Perth, Australia10. Bora Bora,  French PolynesiaTop 10 Travellers’ Choice Destinations – World:1. Paris, FranceAverage annual hotel rate in Paris: $300 per night on TripAdvisorLeast expensive month to go: August (8 percent savings, compared to annual average)o   Highly-rated value hotel: Hotel Bradford Elysees – Astotel, from $200 per night on TripAdvisor2. London, EnglandAverage annual hotel rate in London: $346 per night on TripAdvisorLeast expensive month to go: April (4 percent savings, compared to annual average)o   Highly-rated value hotel: The Piccadilly London West End, from $320 per night on TripAdvisor3. Rome, ItalyAverage annual hotel rate in Rome: $247 per night on TripAdvisorLeast expensive month to go: August (8 percent savings, compared to annual average)o   Highly-rated value hotel: Deko Rome, from $220 per night on TripAdvisor4. Bali, IndonesiaAverage annual hotel rate in Bali: $202 per night on TripAdvisorLeast expensive month to go: April (8 percent savings, compared to annual average)o   Highly-rated value hotel: The Villas Tejakula, from $183 per night on TripAdvisor5. Crete, GreeceAverage annual hotel rate in Crete: $220 per night on TripAdvisorLeast expensive month to go: October (36 percent savings, compared to annual average)o   Highly-rated value hotel: Elounda Garden Suites, from $111 per night on TripAdvisor6. Barcelona, SpainAverage annual hotel rate in Barcelona: $300 per night on TripAdvisorLeast expensive month to go: November (15 percent savings, compared to annual average)o   Highly-rated value hotel: Yurbban Passage Hotel & Spa, from $237 per night on TripAdvisor7. Prague, Czech RepublicAverage annual hotel rate in Prague: $191 per night on TripAdvisorLeast expensive month to go: November (12 percent savings, compared to annual average)o   Highly-rated value hotel: Hotel Pod Vezi, from $144 per night on TripAdvisor8. Marrakech, MoroccoAverage annual hotel rate in Marrakech: $228 per night on TripAdvisorLeast expensive month to go: June (9 percent savings, compared to annual average)o   Highly-rated value hotel: Riad Dar Dialkoum, from $172 per night on TripAdvisor9. Istanbul, TurkeyAverage annual hotel rate in Istanbul: $142 per night on TripAdvisorLeast expensive month to go: May (6 percent savings, compared to annual average)o   Highly-rated value hotel: Dersaadet Hotel Istanbul, from $131 per night on TripAdvisor10. New York City, New YorkAverage annual hotel rate in New York City: $528 per night on TripAdvisorLeast expensive month to go: August (4 percent savings, compared to annual average)o   Highly-rated value hotel: The Blakely New York, from $326 per night on TripAdvisorFor the complete list of Travellers’ Choice Destination award-winners for 2018, as well as the latest reviews and candid traveller photos, visit www.TripAdvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Destinations. Travellers can also follow the conversation on Twitter at #TravelersChoice.Source = TripAdvisor®last_img read more

Wayanad Tourism organises 7th Monsoon Carnival Splash from July

first_imgWayanad Tourism Organisation (WTO) is organising the Monsoon Carnival Splash, to be held from July 10 to July 13 of this year. The seventh edition of the annual event held in registration on its official website www.wayanadsplash.com.On the second day of the carnival, a B2B session at the event has been planned, with 120 stalls and some select seller from Wayanad, North Kerala, Nilgiris, Coorg and Mysore.last_img

Australian tourism acknowledges greater visitor arrivals from Asia

first_imgThis year’s Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) has affirmed Asia’s emerging importance in Australia’s future tourism growth, as reported by Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy.During 2010 international visitor arrivals were up from most Asian countries demonstrated by strong regional increases, including double-digit growth from North East Asia, South East Asia, India and Japan.North East Asia continued to enjoy strong growth, up 14% overall, led by China (up 24%), South Korea (up 18%) and Hong Kong (up 4%). Visitors from South East Asia increased 9% during 2010. Indonesia (up 12%), Malaysia (up 12%) and Singapore (up 8%) all performed well. Within Southern Asia, India also delivered a strong recovery in late 2010, with arrivals up 11%. Japan demonstrated solid growth with visitor numbers up 12%.McEvoy believes development of successful airline partnerships as a key factor behind Asia’s visitor numbers.As part of its long term tourism vision, Tourism Australia has identified a number of markets in Asia, which will help drive the future growth of the Australian tourism industry, including China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Hong Kong. It is anticipated that China alone will generate up to nine billion dollars in total tourism expenditure by 2020.last_img read more

Indian gastronomy takes centre stage in Israel

first_imgIsrael is a nation that has culinary influences from all around the world and over the years Indian cuisine has taken centre stage with many celebrity chefs and culinary experts visiting the country for menu engineering, special collaborations and food festivals.Each region in the country offers its own adapted cuisine which is evident in the many popular food markets in the country. A wide variety of cafés and restaurants serve everything from Arabic, European, Indian and Asian fare. Often referred to as ‘The Shuk’ by the locals, Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem is popular amongst tourists and locals alike for traditional fare of falafel, uniquely-flavoured ice cream and cheese shops, fresh produce, budget and designer clothing shops, shopping aesthetics, decorative crafts and unique products that is an amalgamation of old and new.With the rising number of Indian tourists visiting Israel, Israeli hotels are now keen to cater to the Indian taste buds with many Indian chefs visiting the country over the last few years. The Indian Embassy in Israel along with Dan Hotels hosted Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and his family for Indian Culinary Week in an initiative to promote the Indian culinary art overseas. The King David Hotel in Jerusalem played host to the three-day programme wherein Chef David Bitton and Chef Kapoor collaborated to prepare various Indian delights. While in Israel, Chef Kapoor dined with Uri Jermais owner of seafood restaurant Uri Buri in Akko and Chef Moshe Basson of The Eucalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem and also hosted a demo-lecture at the Dan Gourmet Cooking School with close to 300 attendees.Known for bringing about an Indian food revolution with creations using indigenous Indian produce, Thomas Zacharias, Executive Chef and Partner at Mumbai eatery ‘The Bombay Canteen’ at Kamala Mills was in Israel exploring the culinary culture.  As part of a culinary experience tour curated by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a global delegation of chefs selected from 10 countries, including Mexico, Vietnam, Nairobi, USA and India toured around Israel exploring the ingredients, flavours and culinary culture.“I’ve come to realise over the last six years of food travel, that it is an incredible way of exploring and understanding the cultures and traditions of a region, both within India or abroad. Israeli cuisine and culture has always intrigued me and I’m really looking forward to the fabulous itinerary of culinary experiences, from chef interactions and market tours to cheese farms, that have been put together,” said Zacharias.Winner of Master Chef India, Chef Shipra Khanna travelled to Israel for the Indian Culinary Festival at the Sheraton Tel Aviv from July 9 to 11. Hosted by the Embassy of India, Chef Khanna recreated flavours of India with the hotel’s Executive Chef for a special menu during the festival showcasing the best of India’s authentic dishes. “I am very excited to visit Israel. I have heard so much about the fresh produce, fruits, wine, and cheese that I can’t wait to go around Israel and absorb from its vibrant culture,” said Khanna before her visit to Israel.last_img read more

New National Sales Exec for First Valuation

first_imgNew National Sales Exec for First Valuation November 2, 2011 456 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology Collateral valuation services provider “”First Valuation””:www.firstvaluation.com/ has found a new national sales executive in Brandon O’Briant. While remaining based in Dallas, Texas, O’Briant will apply his 15 years of experience in the mortgage industry to managing First Vaulation’s current clients and establishing partnerships on behalf of the company.[IMAGE]O’Briant is well prepared for his role with First Valuation, as he boasts extensive expertise in property valuation, real estate, and mortgage banking. Formerly a valuation and vendor relationship manager for “”Goldman Sachs””:www.gs.com/ subsidiary, “”Avelo Mortgage””:www.avelomortgage.com/,[COLUMN_BREAK]O’Briant has gained experience in directing and managing all aspects of valuation diligence across loan acquisitions and dispositions. Additionally, O’Briant has previously managed the overall direction and oversight of valuation servicers, vendors, and product and services development and implementation. O’Briant’s position with First Valuation will take advantage of the full scope of his professional background, and he will focus on maintaining existing client relationships and working toward developing enhanced valuation partners for the entity.First Valuation’s vice president of sales, Chris McClain, said of his hiring, “”Brandon’s experience as an appraiser and background working for large lending institutions brings an ideal skill set to our organization. Not only will he serve as an ambassador of our full suite of collateral valuation solutions, he’ll bring an invaluable consultative approach to our clients.””O’Briant is a certified residential appraiser, and he is also a licensed broker in numerous states. He joins First Valuation at a critical time, as the company has recently changed its profile, including altering its name and adding several large vendors as it expands its market share. Prior to the switch, First Valuation was known as BrokerPriceOpinion.com, and its updated standing is sure to be enhanced by O’Briant’s ability to target the capital and servicing market segments.center_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Movers & Shakers Processing Service Providers Valuation 2011-11-02 Abby Gregory Sharelast_img read more

Flagstar Completes Sale of Georgia Bank Branches

first_img Share In Georgia, “”Flagstar Bancorp””:www.flagstar.com/ has officially sold its 27-branch retail bank franchise to “”PNC Bank, N.A.””:https://www.pnc.com/ The deal, which was announced earlier this year, has reached its conclusion, and PNC Bank will now take possession of all leases associated with the locations, as well as all associated business and retail deposits. [IMAGE]Flagstar, the holding company for “”Flagstar Bank, FSB””:www.flagstar.com/, estimates the total deposits sold or assigned at around $210 million. PNC Bank, which is part of the “”PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.””:https://www.pnc.com/, is reported to have paid the bank the net book value of the acquired real estate, fixed, and other personal assets included with the branches.The purchase agreement for its Georgia locations follows Flagstar’s December sell off of its Indiana branches. The total number of bank franchises sold stands at 49, and there is currently no word from the company on whether or not more acquisitions are afoot in 2012. Commenting on the closure of the transaction, Flagstar’s chairman, president, and CEO, Joseph P. Campanelli, said, “”With the consummation of this transaction and the previously consummated sale of the retail bank franchise in Indiana, we can now focus our efforts and resources on growing our core markets – the Michigan retail and commercial banking divisions and New England commercial banking operations.””Flagstar is considered a full-service financial services company. The entity offers a wide range of products to consumers, businesses, and homeowners, and Flagstar boasts total assets of $13.7 billion, as of September 30. The company is the largest publicly held savings bank in the Midwest, and Flagstar continues to operate more than 100 branches in the U.S. Additionally, the company also has 29 home loan centers in 14 states and four commercial banking offices in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Flagstar Completes Sale of Georgia Bank Branches in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technologycenter_img December 12, 2011 419 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing 2011-12-12 Abby Gregorylast_img read more

NCUA Files Largest Suit Yet Against JPMorgan Bear Stearns

first_img Share in Origination, Secondary Market December 18, 2012 475 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Credit Unions Investors JPMorgan Chase Lenders & Servicers Mortgage-Backed Securities National Credit Union Administration RMBS Service Providers Underwriting Standards 2012-12-18 Tory Barringercenter_img The “”National Credit Union Administration””:http://www.ncua.gov/Pages/default.aspx (NCUA) announced Monday it has filed suit against “”JPMorgan Securities””:http://www.jpmorgansecurities.com/pages/am/securities/home and Bear Stearns over allegations of falsely representing the quality of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) sold to corporate credit unions.[IMAGE]At $3.6 billion, the legal action is the largest suit ever filed by the NCUA.According to the agency, Bear Stearns (purchased in 2008 by JP Morgan) misrepresented the underwriting standards of loans in securities sold to U.S. Central, Western Corporate, Southwest Corporate, and Members United Corporate. The four credit unions became insolvent and were placed into NCUA conservatorship and liquidated.NCUA’s 280-page “”complaint””:http://www.ncua.gov/News/Press/NW20121217JPMComplaint.PDF alleges that although Bear Stearns’ offering documents for the securities described the firm’s adherence to underwriting guidelines, the originators had in fact “”systematically abandoned the stated underwriting guidelines in the Offering Documents.””[COLUMN_BREAK]””Because the mortgages in the pools collateralizing the RMBS were largely underwritten without adherence to the underwriting standards in the Offering Documents, the RMBS were significantly riskier than represented. Also, properties were routinely overvalued at the time of origination, rendering the average LTV ratios inaccurate. Indeed, a material percentage of the loans collateralizing the RMBS were all but certain to become delinquent or default shortly after origination. As a result, the RMBS were destined from inception to perform poorly,”” the complaint reads.””Firms like Bear, Stearns acted unfairly by ignoring the rules for underwriting. They packaged these securities and then told buyers the paper was sound,”” said Debbie Matz, NCUA board chairman. “”When the securities plunged in value, we learned the truth. NCUA is now working to hold these underwriters accountable and secure recoveries on behalf of federally insured credit unions.””The agency has eight similar actions pending against other companies, including Barclays, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, and Wachovia. It’s the second suit brought by NCUA against JPMorgan, the first being in 2011.””NCUA and credit unions have successfully worked together to restore stability to the credit union system,”” Matz said. “”Now we are holding responsible parties like Bear, Stearns accountable for their actions. It’s the right thing to do.””A spokesperson for JPMorgan did not reply to a request for comment. NCUA Files Largest Suit Yet Against JPMorgan, Bear Stearnslast_img read more

Ashton Kutchers Former Bachelor Pad Lists for 2585M

first_img The Hollywood Hills abode that Ashton Kutcher once called home has hit the market for $2.585 million. “”According to Zillow””:http://www.zillow.com/blog/2013-01-14/ashton-kutchers-former-bachelor-pad-back-on-the-market/, the craftsman contemporary-style house served as the actor’s bachelor pad prior to his marriage to Demi Moore, and Kutcher reportedly sold the home in June 2011 for $2.35 million. The website added that the now 3,404-square-foot residence was originally much smaller at 2,002-square-feet, reflecting the “”extensive”” renovation work conducted by Kutcher and his father. Zillow went on to note that the luxury property boasts posh amenities including a “”lush backyard,”” waterfall, and infinity-edge pool and spa.[COLUMN_BREAK][IMAGE] Ashton Kutcher’s Former Bachelor Pad Lists for $2.585M January 15, 2013 485 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technologycenter_img Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Celebrity Homes Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2013-01-15 Abby Gregorylast_img read more

PerLoan Profits Fall in Q4 as Costs Rise

first_img April 3, 2013 374 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Loan Officers Mortgage Bankers Association Profits Quarterly Earnings Service Providers 2013-04-03 Tory Barringer in Origination Per-Loan Profits Fall in Q4 as Costs Risecenter_img Share Rising costs took a toll on per-loan profits in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to data from the “”Mortgage Bankers Association””:http://www.mortgagebankers.org/default.htm (MBA).[IMAGE]Independent mortgage banks and mortgage subsidiaries of chartered banks earned an average profit of $2,256 on each loan originated in Q4, down quarter-over-quarter from $2,465, MBA reported. The average production profit (net production income) was 107 basis points compared with 120 basis points in the third quarter.The decline in profits came despite a rise in production volume. According to the association, average production volume was $488 million per company in the fourth quarter, up from $450 million per company in the prior quarter. Productivity per employee was down slightly, however, falling to 3.8 loans originated per production employee per month from 3.9 in the third quarter. Fulfillment [COLUMN_BREAK]productivity was also down–10.2 loans originated per fulfillment employee per month compared to 10.9 in Q3.The average volume by count per company rose to 2,132 loans from 2,010 in the third-quarter report.””Per-loan profits decreased in the fourth quarter, primarily driven by rising costs,”” said Marina Walsh, associate VP of industry analysis with MBA. “”Historically, production costs have dropped with rising volume. In this quarter, however, despite high origination volumes, per-loan costs reached the highest levels we have seen in this study, other than during the first half of 2011, when origination volume was 60 percent lower.””According to MBA, total loan production expenses–which include commissions, compensation, occupancy and equipment, and other production expenses and corporate allocations–rose to $5,603 per loan in Q4, a quarterly increase of nearly $500. In addition, personnel expenses averaged $3,570 per loan in in the fourth quarter, up from $3,320 in the third quarter.The “”net cost to originate”” in Q4 was $3,813, up from $3,353 in Q3.Also revealed in the MBA report: The refinance share of total originations (by dollar volume) was 61 percent in Q4, up from 57 percent in Q3. For the industry as a whole, MBA estimates refinance share was 75 percent in the fourth quarter, up from 73 percent in the third quarter.Of the 311 companies that reported production data for the fourth-quarter report, 72 percent were independent mortgage companies, according to MBA.last_img read more

IDS Passes Service Control Audit With No Exceptions

first_imgIDS Passes Service Control Audit ‘With No Exceptions’ Audit Company News IDS Mortgage Document Preparation 2014-08-06 Seth Welborn August 6, 2014 530 Views in Headlines, News, Technologycenter_img Share Salt Lake City-based mortgage document preparation vendor International Document Services, Inc. (IDS), announced that it passed the Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 audit with no exceptions.The audit covered IDS’s activities over a five and a half month period between Dec. 1, 2013, and May 13, 2014. The audit scrutinized the company’s policies, procedures, and services and answered and verified more than 100 questions relating to them. Auditors also tested and verified the availability of IDS’s services and security of its systems in relation to those questions in person at IDS’s office.”The CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) has taken a hard stance on vendor management, and we’ve experienced a huge demand from our clients for verification of our processes, especially where privacy is concerned,” IDS EVP Mark Mackey said. “By undergoing the rigorous SOC 2 audit, we’re able to provide our clients certified proof of the integrity of our processes.”The SOC 2 audit was created by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) for the purpose of assessing the “controls at a service organization relevant to security, availability, processing integrity confidentiality, or privacy.”This was the first time IDS has been reviewed with the SOC 2 audit; IDS In-house Counsel Clint Salisbury stated that IDS would be submitting to this audit yearly in addition to the annual SSAE-16 audit that was just completed.”The integrity of our services is based on the ability to secure our clients’ nonpublic personal information and maintain the availability of our product 24/7, especially during critical work hours,” Salisbury said.last_img read more

Troubled By TRID The Rules Unexpected Impact on Buyers

first_img in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News, Origination March 15, 2016 601 Views Share ClosingCorp Repeat Homebuyers TRID 2016-03-15 Staff Writercenter_img As a result of the implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule, repeat homebuyers have experienced both positive and negative effects from the regulation when obtaining and closing a residential mortgage.According to the compliance guide issued by the CFPB, the rule merges four disclosures required under TILA and RESPA for closed-end credit transactions secured by real property into two forms. The first, a Loan Estimate must be given or mailed to the consumer no more than three business days after receipt of the application. The second, the consumer must be provided a Closing Disclosure at least three business days prior to the consummation of the loan. TRID was first introduced in 2010 from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, and was approved in 2013.Fifty-one percent of repeat homebuyers reported that they experienced unexpected costs, fees, or surprises in their most recent home buying experience, according to ClosingCorp’s National TRID Impact on Homebuyers Survey of 1,000 adults nationwide who have purchased two or more homes, including one since October 3, 2015. The survey was conducted by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research.“There’s been a lot of speculation about TRID’s impact and its value to consumers,” said Brian Benson, chief executive officer of ClosingCorp. “Our new study of consumers who have bought homes and gotten mortgages both the new and the old way suggests that TRID is making it easier for consumers to understand the costs and fees that they’ll face at closing. But at the same time, the new rules are adding time and anxiety to the closing process and more than half of the respondents still said they encountered ‘unexpected costs, fees and surprises’.The survey also showed that 64 percent of respondents said it was easier getting a mortgage under the old rules, than under TRID, while 57 percent indicated that it took more time to close under TRID than it did previously.Despite the negative effects reported about TRID, homebuyers did report a few positives since the rule went into effect October 2015, indicating that the CFPB’s rule may be doing its intended job.The actual closing of the mortgage loan was faster for 70 percent of homebuyers, while 19 percent indicated that it was slower, and 11 percent said it was about the same.ClosingCorp reported that 63 percent of buyers said that the new “Know Before You Owe” forms for loan estimates and closing disclosures are easier to understand than the old forms. Meanwhile, 68 percent said the new forms did a better job preparing them for the closing costs they would have to pay and 6 percent disagreed. Another 65 percent of the respondents said that the costs and fees were “explained better” in their most recent homebuying experience.Homebuyers stated that the ability to shop for title companies, inspectors, pest services, and other service providers is another added benefit in the new TRID forms. The report showed that 78 percent of the consumers said they were informed about this option, 74 percent of those consumers said they took advantage of it, and 55 percent said they saved money as a result.“The findings suggest that our industry has more work to do to get comfortable with the TRID forms and processes, and to educate consumers and their advisors. Our clients and partners believe technology and integrated data and communications will provide the long-term solution to these challenges.”Click here to see the full survey. Troubled By TRID: The Rule’s Unexpected Impact on Buyerslast_img read more