Oxford stormed to their fifth consecutive Varsity victory, with Oxford A taking the win by over a lap from Cambridge A at the sunny Rye House Raceway, London. With Harvey having put the kart on pole, Noble started the race and pulled away from the rest of the field, building up a comfortable lead over the Tabs. After the driver change, Harvey was left with the simple task of bringing the kart home. Dix and Yarwood chased hard for Cambridge, but could not match Noble’s initial pace, falling to a distant second. The final spot on the podium was taken by Oxford’s Gaskell and Senior, whose superb race saw them earn half-blues. Oxford’s Duhig and Bratt were engaged in an extremely close battle until contact between them, and the subsequent black flag for Duhig saw the end of their challenge for honors. By the time Tan and Seretis took to the wheel, there was little that could be salvaged. Despite this, Oxford veteran Davis and his teammate Wootten enjoyed a solid race, taking an excellent fifth place. Meanwhile, Cherwell reporter Kenber enjoyed his first taste of 2-stroke kart racing, gaining a respectable 15th place. He said ‘It was good fun but quite tricky. I span out eight times during the race, and got shunted a lot.’ The teams’ focus will now return to defending their overall position at the top of the national championship, which continues in the coming weeks.by Nikos Seretis
With permission Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the number of migrants trying to cross the English Channel in small boats and what the government is doing in response.But before that, I know the whole House will want to join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to those injured in the attack at Manchester’s Victoria station on New Year’s Eve and to all those affected by this cruel and senseless act.I would also like to thank the emergency services for their courageous response.Thankfully Mr Speaker there were no fatalities.And I am pleased to say that all three victims have now been discharged from hospital.Mr Speaker, let me now turn to the issue of English Channel migrant crossings.Over recent weeks, we saw a sharp increase in the number of migrants attempting to cross the Channel to the UK in small boats.Over 500 migrants – mostly Iranian – attempted to travel to the UK on small vessels in 2018.80% of them attempted this in the last three months of the year.Around 40% of the attempts were either disrupted by French law enforcement or returned to France via French agencies.Since 1 January, a further 25 have attempted to cross the Channel but they were disrupted.In addition, just this morning, a dinghy was discovered along the Kent coast.A number of individuals are now going through UK immigration procedures and 1 person has been arrested.Mr Deputy Speaker, I’m sure the House will want to join me in thanking all the law enforcement agencies and all those involved in the response for their tireless efforts over Christmas and the new year.This includes: Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, the Coastguard, the National Crime Agency, and the RNLI many of whom I met in Dover last week.I would also like to thank our French law enforcement partners for their efforts to date which have been collaborative, swift and thorough.The English Channel contains some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world the weather conditions are often treacherous and the inflatable boats that are being used are woefully ill-equipped to make such dangerous journeys.The migrants who choose to make the trip are putting their lives in grave danger and can, at times, also create dangerous situations for our rescue services.The reasons behind the increased crossings are diverse – and in many cases, are outside of our control.First, instability in the regions such as the Middle East and North Africa are driving people out of their homes in search of better lives in Europe.Second, organised crime groups are preying on and profiting from these vulnerable and often desperate people.They are falsely promising them safe crossings to the UK – even though the journey is one of the most hazardous and the most dangerous possible.Third, strengthened security at the French / UK border has meant it has become increasingly difficult for stowaways to illegally enter the UK in trucks and cars leading to more reckless attempts by boat.I have been very clear that robust action is needed to protect people, our borders and to deter illegal migration.Over the festive period, I took the decision to declare the situation a ‘Major Incident’.I appointed a dedicated Gold Command and I stepped up the UK’s response.As part of joint action agreed with the French, I have ordered two UK Border Force boats to be redeployed from overseas to patrol the Channel.This is in addition to the two already undertaking enhanced patrols in these waters.This will mean 4 Border Force Cutters in total.And this is in addition to the 2 Coastal Patrol Vessels currently operating and aerial surveillance of the area.Last week, I also requested additional help from the Ministry of Defence while we await the return of the 2 boats currently overseas.I am grateful that the Royal Navy has kindly offered the use of HMS Mersey which started patrols on Friday.I am also continuing to discuss with the French, what more they can do to stop people from attempting to make these crossings from France in the first place.I welcome the action plan that the French have outlined just this Friday which includes a commitment to increased surveillance and security in maritime areas prevention campaigns in French coastal areas to stop people from setting off in the boats in the first place and a reinforced fight against smuggling gangs.I’m also pleased to say that The National Crime Agency has also redoubled its efforts.Last week, two men were arrested on suspicion of the illegal movement of migrants.In addition, we’re doing important work in the home countries of the would be migrants to reduce factors which compel them to make these dangerous journeys in the first place.For example, we’re helping to create jobs, to build infrastructure, tackling modern slavery, providing education and delivering life-saving humanitarian assistance in response to conflicts and natural disasters.We’re also doing important work to undermine organised crime groups and we’ve committed £2.7 billion to the humanitarian response in Syria making us the second biggest unilateral donor to the region.We are also on track to resettle 20,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria by 2020 as well as up to 3,000 of the most vulnerable people from the Middle East and North Africa, including children at risk of exploitation and abuse.In 2017, the UK resettled more refugees under national resettlement programmes than any other EU state.Let me reassure the House that I am continuing to monitor the issue of Channel crossings daily.Rt Hon and Hon Members will know that these crossings have also provoked a debate.But I’m not afraid to say that I think there are some legitimate questions that need to be asked.Why, for instance, are so many people choosing to cross the Channel from France to the UK when France itself is a safe country?The widely accepted international principle is that those seeking asylum should claim it in the first safe country that they reach – be that France or elsewhere.Indeed, many asylum seekers do just this.Domestic legislation from 2004 clearly states that if an individual travels through a safe third country and fails to claim asylum, it will be taken into account in assessing the credibility of their claim.Following these recent events, I have instructed my officials to look at how we can tighten this further and ensure these provisions are working effectively.Mr Deputy Speaker, Britain has a proud tradition of welcoming and protecting asylum seekers.We also have a long history of accepting economic migrants too – people like my very own parents.But all these routes need to be safe and they need to be controlled.Getting in a rubber dinghy is not.That is why I will not accept these Channel crossings as just a matter of a fact of life.Safeguarding lives and protecting the UK border are crucial Home Office priorities.And while we have obligations to genuine asylum seekers and we will uphold we will not standby and allow reckless criminals to take advantage of vulnerable people.Encouraging people to dangerously cross the Channel to come here is not an act of compassion.So I will continue to do all I can to stop these dangerous crossings.I commend this statement to the House.
Greencore, the convenience food manufacturer, has reported revenue growth of 7.2% to £356m for the 13 weeks to 25 December.In a Q1 trading statement, the company declared the convenience food division grew 7.9% in the UK and 6.5% in the USA. This offset a 6% or £0.7m drop in revenues for the ingredients and property division, which currently represents less than 5% of the total business.Greencore said growth was driven by annualisation of prior year business wins and new product launches. It added that construction of a new production facility on the company’s Northampton campus was nearing completion and on track to commence commissioning in the spring.The company said: “The business has had a good start to the year and our major investments in capacity and capability enhancement are proceeding to plan. We remain confident in our ability to deliver performance in line with market expectations.”
Source: HiggidyThey will be available in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s from 21 April (rsp: £2.20).“Our insights have shown that taste, quality and variety matter most to consumers when it comes to savoury pastry,” Higgidy’s co-founder, Camilla Stephens, said. “So, as with all our products, our new slices contain only top-notch ingredients such as British outdoor bred pork and British free-range chicken.”The launch is being supported by PR, social media, in-store POS and sampling aimed at a younger millennial audience.It comes after Ginsters’ owner Samworth Brothers increased its stake in Higgidy to aid further development. The deal, which named the food manufacturer as majority shareholder, reinforced the shared vision and values of the two businesses, Higgidy said.Samworth Brothers acquired a minority stake in the pie maker in June 2019.And this month former Charlie Bigham’s commercial director Rachel Kelley took over the reins as Higgidy CEO from Mark Campbell who stepped up to chair the board.Pastry and pie NPD has been among the most prolific in recent weeks. Wall’s Pastry, for example, expanded its range of microwave slices with two new variants – Nacho Chilli Cheese and Piri-Piri Chicken while Ginsters’ teamed up with Guinness to create a Smoky Steak & Guinness Slice. Source: HiggidyHam Hock & Cheddar SlicePiemaker Higgidy is to expand its food-to-go offer in April with a selection of slices as an alternative to “boring sandwiches and soups”.The three-strong range is made with 126 layers of all-butter pastry and available in Chicken, Bacon & Mushroom, Ham Hock & Cheddar and Mature Cheddar & Onion flavours.
“We are saving lives by educating and motivating people to take action,” Chenhall said. “The bad news is radon causes lung cancer. The good news is that any radon problem can be fixed.”Mitigation systems can be installed, when required. The gas can be safely released from the home by installing an inline fan and running a ventilation pipe from underneath the home’s foundation to above the roof line. Georgia currently has 12 certified radon mitigators trained to correct radon problems.UGA radon educators urge Georgians to test, fix and save a life. “We are all exposed to radon since it is a natural occurring element of our environment,” Cotto-Rivera said. “It is important to know the radon levels in your home. People may prefer not to know, but what you don’t know can kill you.” For more information on radon or how to test for it, call your local UGA Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1. Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock or water. It is invisible, odorless and tasteless. Radon usually moves naturally from the soil to the air, but it can be dangerous when trapped inside your home. “Our homes have less pressure than the pressure in the soil, acting like a vacuum drawing radon inside,” said Edda Cotto-Rivera, an extension agent and radon educator in DeKalb County. Cotto-Rivera says any home can have a radon problem.“It does not matter if you have an old or a new home, a well -sealed or drafty home or a home with or without a basement,” she said. “Everybody should test their homes for radon, since it is the only way to know the levels we are exposed to.”Radon gas collects in voids and air spaces under home foundations and gradually enters through cracks, showers and drainage pumps, Turner said. Once it enters the living area of the home, the only way it can escape is through cracks and openings. Improved insulation in most new homes traps the gas indoors. Regions with a lot of granite have a higher risk for radon. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all north Georgia counties have a moderate or high potential for radon, with Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties topping the list.”Radon is truly a silent killer,” said Becky Chenhall, a UGA Extension radon educator. “It is so easy to ignore because you can’t see, smell or taste it. The only way to know the radon level in your home is to test for it.”Radon test results will never be 0. The average indoor level is 1.3 pCi/L (pico curies per liter). Any test that measures 4 pCi/L or higher requires action. Nationally, one out of every 15 homes will have a high radon level. In north Georgia, one out of every five homes could have high levels.UGA Extension offices have radon test kits. In the past seven years, 35,000 kits have been distributed.Radon is heavier than air, and test kits should be placed two feet to six feet above the floor in the center of a room. Bedrooms or family rooms are the best rooms to test.Children may be at greater risk of radon exposure because of their height. The radon level at a child’s breathing level is higher than that found at an adult’s. Hundreds of non-smokers are diagnosed with lung cancer each year in Georgia. The cause of their cancer could be the air inside their homes. With help from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, Georgians are learning about the risks of radon and testing their homes for the gas. “Most people don’t think about radon, yet radon can have a major impact on you and your family’s health,” said Pamela Turner, a UGA Cooperative Extension housing specialist. “Radon can seep into homes and contaminate the air inside.” More than 21,000 people die each year from lung cancer caused by radon. Georgia has the highest rate in the Southeast with 822 deaths last year alone.
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension’s Walk Georgia program invites Georgians to “move more and live more” at Walker and Dade counties’ Cloudland Canyon State Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 25. The multifaceted celebration of the outdoors will encourage visitors to get active by exploring the 3,488-acre park. “Making time for physical activity is important, but it can also be difficult,” said Maria Bowie, Walk Georgia’s program director. “We want to provide opportunities for Georgians to become active while having fun at one of Georgia’s most scenic state parks. We are excited to partner with Georgia State Parks to provide this experience.” Activities include a 3-mile hike into the canyon to visit waterfalls as well as disc golf, outdoor yoga and geocaching. The cost for registration is $10 per person and includes a T-shirt. Lunch is available for $3 cash or you can bring your own (charcoal grills will be provided). A parking fee of $5 per vehicle applies to program attendees. UGA Extension’s Walk Georgia program provides a free online fitness tracking system and encourages Georgians to get active by providing resources, education, accountability and community-building opportunities. Walk Georgia’s website includes seasonal recipes featuring Georgia-grown ingredients, fitness resources that can be found in each Georgia county and even exercise videos from local trainers. For more information or to register, visit walkgeorgia.org/events or email [email protected]
MAINE REGULATORS TO RE-CONSIDER TERMS OVER FAIRPOINT’S ACQUISITION OF VERIZON(January 16, 2008) — The Maine Public Advocate is suggesting that the states regulators revisit the conditions they approved earlier this month for Fairpoints acquisition of Verizon. The readjustment was suggested after The Vermont Public Service Department agreed on a deal with Fairpoint that differed from terms made between the company and Maine.The Vermont Public Service Department, which represents consumers, reached an agreement with the phone companies on January 8. That agreement is now before the Vermont Public Service Board, which acts as the states regulatory body and has the final say in the decision.Vermonts pending terms and conditions involve a performance enhancement plan that requires Fairpoint to put $12.5 million aside annually for improvements and advancements in service quality if certain standards are not met. Maines deal with the company requires Verizon to provide Fairpoint with more than $235 million for debt reduction. Maines public advocate is worried that certain conditions being debated in the Vermont deal would mean that some of that money will be used for other purposes. Maines public advocate is concerned that conditions of the Vermont deal will threaten Fairpoints financial viability.This backwards step in the drawn out struggle over the approval of Fairpoint’s acquisition of Verizon comes after the Federal Communications Commission January 9 approval of the transfer of Verizon’s landline business in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to FairPoint Communications, Inc (NYSE: FRP).The FCC commissioners voted 3-2, with both Democrats voting against, to approve the assignment of authorizations and licenses associated with the proposed acquisition by FairPoint of Verizons wireline operations in Northern New England.The FCC order concludes, “We find that no significant public interest harms are likely to result from the merger, and that public interest benefits are likely to occur.”In dissenting, Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein wrote, in part: “I am particularly concerned about these issues because Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire have an exceptionally high percentage of rural residents. Consumers in these rural areas, despite the efforts of state and local governments, face some of the lowest levels of broadband penetration in the country. A rural-focused company may provide real benefits for the consumers in this region, but more careful attention to the benefits proffered seems warranted here, particularly given the size and scale of the transaction. Like a python swallowing an elephant, the acquiring company here will be taking the reins of an entity that is approximately six times larger than its current size.”Yet, inexplicably, there are no special measures in this Order to address the concerns about broadband deployment, wholesale service, or service quality for customers in these three states. The Order itself does not wrestle in any serious way with the ultimate question for consumers, as posed by the consumer commenters, of what level of service these new customers will be receiving and at what price. Instead, this Order takes at face value assertion after assertion without engaging in meaningful analysis. I might have been persuaded that, with the proper analysis and conditions, this merger could serve the public interest. Sadly, neither is offered in this Order.”Commenting on the FCC’s approval, Gene Johnson, chairman and CEO of FairPoint, said, “In providing the approval for the necessary license transfers related to this merger, the FCC has recognized this transaction is in the best interest of consumers and businesses. As we continue to make progress toward closing this transaction, we look forward to serving our new customers in northern New England and offering enhanced communications products and services.”The Order can be found at:http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-07-226A1.doc(link is external)
59SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Trevor Knott Trevor Knott is a strategic marketing veteran who has spent much of his 20-year career developing marketing and distribution products and services for top-tier banks and suppliers to the banking … Web: www.bsgfinancial.com Details Here is an unsettling trend: small businesses and consumers continue to have difficulty securing short-term loans and lines of credit from credit unions. According to the latest Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index™, loan approval rates at credit unions are at the lowest mark to-date, dropping to 40.7% in March, as small business lending continues on a downward trajectory. “Credit unions are routinely overlooked in small business loans as they lag behind in technology,” said Biz2Credit CEO Rohit Arora. “Competing lending institutions are taking market share away from credit unions.”Many of those competitors, including non-bank lenders like LendingTree and OnDeck, have adopted technology that automates the lending process to provide easy application, immediate approval and rapid delivery of small business loans under $100,000 and consumer loans under $35,000. Consumers and small businesses can apply and be approved for loans online and in minutes from any Internet-enabled smart device or computer, effectively responding to consumers’ ever-increasing dependence on smart devices and need for immediate gratification. “The shadow banking [non-bank] market is huge and is targeting small businesses for loans,” said Michael Moebs, CEO of industry research firm Moebs Services, in a recent Banking Exchange article.1 Moebs said he thinks this competitive edge hurts small regional banks, community banks, and credit unions the most.However, now thanks to third-party digital lending experts, credit unions are able to compete with these lenders via end-to-end technology that automates the entire loan process. This type of solution streamlines the entire lending process – from application and underwriting to set up, review and renewal. The technology–which can reduce the cost of processing and manage a loan from approximately $2,4002 to $1003 or less–has resulted in positive loan growth for a small segment of institutions that have embraced it, according to a recent Moebs Services report. The Banking Exchange article reported that these institutions “have seen what nonbank lenders are doing and adopted it—namely moving away from traditional underwriting methods to using decisioning software.” According to Moebs, these institutions recognize that they do not necessarily need people to underwrite when the right software can do the job. “The underwriting process has changed,” Moebs said. It is possible to do more business with fewer lenders, making the underwriting process (as well as reviews and renewals) extremely efficient, he explained. With only minimal effort, credit unions can take steps toward improving the troubling downward lending trend by taking advantage of the efficiencies that digital lending technology provides.1 http://www.bankingexchange.com/news-feed/item/6771-banking-s-great-loan-gap2 https://www.bai.org/banking-strategies/article-detail/making-small-business-loans-profitably3 R.C. Giltner & Associates, LLC
In April 2018, 951 thousand tourist arrivals were realized in commercial accommodation facilities, which is 3,8% more than in April 2017. Tourists realized 2,5 million overnight stays, which is 1,5% less compared to the same period last year , according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).The great news is that domestic tourists in April 2018 realized 167 thousand arrivals and 374 thousand overnight stays, which is an increase in arrivals by 14,5% and an increase in overnight stays by 10,1% compared to April 2017. Foreign tourists realized 783 thousand arrivals and 2,1 million overnight stays, which is 1,8% more arrivals but 3,2% fewer overnight stays compared to April 2017.Without a domestic base, tourism in the pre- and post-season, as well as on the continent, cannot be developed in the long run. The introduction of the so-called Cro card, which will certainly encourage domestic consumption and tourism on the continent and out of peak season.Most overnight stays were realized in Dubrovnik In April 2014, the highest number of tourist nights was realized in Dubrovnik, 267 thousand, of which foreign tourists realized 94% of overnight stays and domestic 6%. Compared to April 2017, the number of domestic tourist nights recorded a slight increase, by 0,8%, while the number of foreign tourist nights decreased by 2,3%. Tourists from the United Kingdom realized the most overnight stays, more than 36 overnight stays.Most tourist nights from Slovenia and Germany The highest number of overnight stays by foreign tourists in April 2018 was realized by tourists from Slovenia, 363 thousand overnight stays (17% of total overnight stays of foreign tourists) and tourists from Germany, with 343 thousand overnight stays by tourists (16% of total overnight stays by foreign tourists). Compared to April 2017, tourists from Slovenia increased their overnight stays by 15%, while tourists from Germany decreased their overnight stays by 17%. This is followed by overnight stays of tourists from Austria (11%), Italy (7%), Great Britain (6%) and France and Poland (4% each).For the third month in a row, most overnight stays in Istria County In the County of Istria, tourists realized 246 thousand arrivals and 779 thousand overnight stays in April 2018, which is a slight decrease in tourist arrivals, by 0,3%, and a decrease in overnight stays by 4,5% compared to April 2017. Compared to April 2017 Domestic tourists increased their arrivals by 34,7% and increased their overnight stays by 31,3%, while foreign tourists decreased their arrivals by 4,2% and their overnight stays by 7,5%. Tourists from Slovenia realized the most overnight stays, 201 thousand (26% of the total overnight stays in the County of Istria). Compared to April 2017, tourists from Slovenia increased their arrivals by 19% and the number of overnight stays by 21%.Photo: Ecomuseum Batana, RovinjMost nights spent in hotels In April 2018, tourists spent the most nights in hotels, 1,4 million overnight stays, which is 55% of the total number of overnight stays. Compared to April 2017, hotels achieved an increase in arrivals by 0,6%, and a decrease in tourist nights by 5,5%.In April 2018, tourists had at their disposal 194 thousand rooms, apartments and camping places with a total of 495 thousand permanent beds. In the group Hotels and similar accommodation, there were a total of 70 thousand rooms and suites available to tourists (which is 36,0% of the total number of available rooms and suites) with a total of 144 thousand permanent beds (which is 29,2% of the total number of available permanent beds). bed). The average occupancy of rooms was 47,4%, and permanent beds 42,2%.Tourists aged 65 and over realized the most overnight stays In April 2018, tourists in the age group of 65 and over realized the most overnight stays, 431 thousand, which is 17% of the total overnight stays. They are followed by tourists in the age group from 35 to 44 years and from 45 to 54 years (16% of the total number of nights spent in each group).Increase in tourist arrivals and overnight stays in the first four months In the first four months of 2018, tourists made 1,8 million arrivals and 4,5 million overnight stays in commercial accommodation facilities, which is an increase of 10,7% in arrivals and a 7,9% increase in tourist overnight stays compared to the same period in 2017. In the first four months of 2018, domestic tourists realized 456 thousand arrivals and one million overnight stays, which is 9,3% more arrivals and 7,6% more overnight stays of domestic tourists than in the same period last year.In the first four months of 2018, foreign tourists realized 1,4 million arrivals and 3,5 million overnight stays, which is an increase in arrivals by 11,1% and an increase in tourist nights by 8,0% compared to the same period last year. Most overnight stays of foreign tourists were realized by tourists from Germany (14,9%), Slovenia (14,8%), Austria (11,5%) and Italy (7,1%).
UNWTO confidence index However, some large emerging markets, such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia, have reported reductions in tourism costs. China, the world’s largest outbound market, saw an 2019 percent increase in outbound travel in the first half of 14, although spending fell 4 percent. Responsible growth Predictions of international tourist arrivals Tourism provides “much needed opportunities” In 2019, 1,5 billion international tourist arrivals were recorded globally. This is an increase of 4 percent compared to the previous year, and the same is projected for 2020, which confirms tourism as the leading economic sector, especially given the current uncertainties. This growth must be managed responsibly to make the most of the opportunities that tourism can create for communities around the world. Source / photo: World Tourism Organization Presenting the results, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stressed that “in times of uncertainty and instability, tourism remains a reliable economic sector“. In light of the recently declining global economic prospects, international trade tensions, social unrest and geopolitical insecurity, “our sector is constantly surpassing the world economy and invites us not only to grow, but to grow for the betterHe added. Given the position of tourism as a top export sector and job creator, the UNWTO advocates the need for responsible growth. Tourism, therefore, has a place at the heart of global development policies and an opportunity to gain additional political recognition and make a real impact. You can find more about the world’s latest tourist barometer HERE. In 2019, the Middle East became the fastest growing region in terms of international tourist arrivals, growing almost twice the global average (+ 8%). Growth in Asia and the Pacific is somewhat slower, but it still showed above-average growth with 5 percent more international arrivals. International tourist arrivals Europe, where growth has also been slower than in previous years (+ 4%), remains the leader in terms of international arrivals, recording 743 million international tourists last year (51% of the global market). The Americas (+ 2%) showed a mixed picture as many island destinations in the Caribbean accelerated their recovery after the 2017 hurricane, while arrivals in South America declined in part due to constant social and political turmoil. Limited data available for Africa (+ 4%) indicate a solid increase in North Africa (+ 9%), while arrivals in sub-Saharan Africa in 2019 grew somewhat more slowly (+ 1,5%). Spending in tourism remains high “The number of destinations earning a billion dollars or more from international tourism has almost doubled since 1998”, Adds Pololikashvili. “The challenge we face is to ensure that the benefits are shared as widely as possible and that no one is left behind. This year, the UNWTO is celebrating the Year of Tourism and Rural Development and we hope to witness positive changes in rural communities in our sector, job creation and opportunities, leading economic growth and preserving culture.” In the context of a global slowdown in economic growth, tourism consumption continued to grow, especially among the top ten consumers in the world. France reported the strongest increase in international tourism spending among the top ten world exit markets (+ 11%), while the United States (+ 6%) led in absolute growth, aided by a strong dollar. Looking ahead, growth is projected at 3 to 4 percent for 2020. This is a look that is reflected in the most current UNWTO confidence index, which shows cautious optimism: 47 percent of participants believe that tourism will achieve better results, and 43 percent believe that it will be at the same level as in 2019. Major sporting events, including the Tokyo Olympics, and cultural events, such as Expo 2020 in Dubai, are expected to have a positive impact on the sector. The Middle East is leading According to the first comprehensive report on global tourism figures and trends of the new decade, the latest tourism barometer of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), last year was the tenth year in a row that growth was recorded. All regions recorded an increase in international arrivals in 2019. However, uncertainty over Brexit, the collapse of Thomas Cook, geopolitical and social tensions, and a slowdown in the global economy have contributed to slower growth in 2019 compared to exceptional rates in 2017 and 2018. This slowdown has affected mainly more advanced economies, in particular Europe, Asia and the Pacific.