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Global tourism grows 5% over last year through August

Emerging economies lead the way

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Europe reported strong tourism growth during the first eight months of 2013.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Global tourism continued to grow steadily during the first eight months of 2013, according to the World Tourism Organization, which tallied an increase of 5 percent from January to August 2013 compared to the same period last year.

The best-performing regions were Europe, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East. For the year to-date, tourist arrivals totaled 747 million worldwide, up 38 million from last year, when global tourist arrivals topped 1 billion for the first time ever.

International arrivals topped 125 million in both July and August, while in June the 100 million arrivals mark was exceeded for the first time. Continue reading

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Colorado skier visits take another big hit

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An early season snow drought dampened skier visits in Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

Ski resort trade group reports early season double-digit drop for the second year in a row

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — For the second year in a row, Colorado ski areas were hit hard by a lack of early season snow, as skier visits dipped 11.5 percent for the period spanning opening day to Dec. 31. Last winter, the state’s ski resort association reported that visits dropped 10 percent from the year before that.

Variable snow conditions and some late openings were factors in the decline, according to Colorado Ski Country USA president and CEO Melanie Mills.

“First period is largely fueled by in-state visitors, and an unseasonably warm October and November kept many Coloradans from tallying lots of ski days,” Mills said. “Snow did not arrive in earnest until mid-December, but when it came, it was in time for in-state and out-of-state guests to enjoy wonderful wintery holidays at resorts.” Continue reading

Insurance industry tunes into global warming risks

Big business keenly aware of potential climate change costs

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November 2012 was another very warm month for much of the planet. Graphic courtesy NASA.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — In a sure sign that the global warming denial movement is losing ground quickly, some of the world’s most calculating businesses, including the insurance industry, are paying more and more attention to climate change.

In the long run, the political bickering over climate policy may not seem so important if the country’s largest companies start to take the issue seriously. Proof that climate is more than just a theoretical concept for corporations comes from a study published last week in the journal Science.

“Weather- and climate-related insurance losses today average $50 billion a year. These losses have more than doubled each decade since the 1980s, adjusted for inflation,” said lead author Evan Mills, a scientist in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division. “Insurers have become quite adept at quantifying and managing the risks of climate change, and using their market presence to drive broader societal efforts at mitigation and adaptation.” Continue reading

Colorado: Another record year for tourism?

International numbers strong through August: Colorado benefits from growth in international travel

Tourists and locals enjoy a concert at the Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Global tourism grew by a healthy 4 percent between January and August 2012 compared to the same period the previous year, according to the latest figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, which estimated about 705 million international arrivals during that span.

Based on those numbers, the global tourism market is still on pace to surpass 1 billion arrivals for the first time ever, and Colorado appears to have benefited from the industry’s strength.

“International numbers were up throughout the state … some reports indicate international visits were up as much as 30 percent,” said Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office. “This was due to a variety of reasons; a weak dollar versus most international currencies, as well as an increased effort on the part of the Administration to reduce obstacles to entry.  Visa interview wait times were decreased dramatically in Brazil, China, and Russia,” White said. Continue reading

Global warming: Businesses see ‘tangible and present risk’

Investor support for addressing climate change is growing

August 2012 temperature anomalies compared to the 1951-1980 average. Courtesy NASA.

* Republished from Climate Progress under a content exchange agreement

By Stephen Lacey

The number of large corporations reporting current risks from climate change has grown substantially over the last two years.

According to a survey of 405 of the biggest global companies conducted by the Carbon Disclosure Project, 37 percent say they are already seeing the impact of climate change on their business — up from 10 percent in 2010. Continue reading

Tourism touted as global economic engine

Tourism can be a key driver of job creation, tourism ministers of developed countries emphasized during a recent summit meeting in Paris.

Tourism can help increase exports, drive economic growth and create jobs, ministers say at Paris summit

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Tourism ministers from developed countries meeting in Paris say tourism should be considered a significant economic driver and incorporated into economic development policies by governments around the world — especially in the area of job growth.

The meeting resulted in a declaration calling on members of the G20 to “register the importance and impact of tourism as a topic of discussion in the coming years’ summits” considering the “significant economic and social potential of tourism for the global economy, employment and sustainable development”.

“We need to convince our decision-makers of the importance of tourism to the economy and employment,” said Mr. Frederic Lefebvre, Minister of Tourism of France, opening the meeting. “In these challenging times, we need to maximize our strengths and tourism is one of them,” he added. Continue reading

Summit County number 3 on list of U.S. ‘ghost towns’

Census data leads Yahoo reporter to erroneous conclusion

Now THIS is a ghost town. Bodie, California, courtesy California State Parks.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — If a recent Yahoo.com story is to be believed, then Summit County ranks right up there with dilapidated cities in Maryland and abandoned rust-belt communities in Michigan as one of the country’s top-10 ghost towns.

The April 11 piece by Douglas A. McIntyre puts Summit County third on the list, behind Lake County, Michigan and Vilas County, Wisconsin, and just ahead of Worcester County, Maryland. According to the story, Summit County’s 61 percent vacancy rate is part of a nationwide trend reflecting, “how much the real estate disaster has turned certain areas in the country into ghost towns.”

Dramatically, the Yahoo story goes on to say that, These are the American Ghost Towns of the 21st century. Each has a population of more than 10,000 along with vacancy rates of more than 55%, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.”

It turns out, of course, that this story underscores the old adage that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. And it highlights the danger of reporters working purely off numbers (the piece was compiled from census data) without any contextual knowledge.

In fact, Summit County has always had a high “vacancy rate,” due to the high number of second homes that are not occupied year-round. It’s not likely that number has changed significantly as a result of the recession and housing bust.

Click here to read the story and leave a comment.

Real Estate: Feds move on home mortgage rules

New mortgage rules are up for public comment.

“The intent of this rulemaking is not to kill private mortgage securitization — the financial crisis has already done that.”

~FDIC Chair Sheila Bair

SUMMIT COUNTY — In a move that will ultimately have long-term implications for the real estate market in Colorado and across the country, federal regulators this week announced one of their proposals to restructure home lending rules.

Click here to read the federal notice and to comment.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve now want public comment on the plan, which would require  lenders to offer mortgages with at least a 20 percent down payment if they want to repackage the loan to sell to other investors without keeping some of the risk on their books. Continue reading

Photoblog: Tumbleweed dreams

Real estate boom ends with a whimper in the Nevada desert

Abandoned floor plan for a Hayden Estates home. The developers left so fast they didn’t have time to completely clean up after themselves.

By Garrett Palm

SUMMIT COUNTY — Developers of Hayden Estates, called Sandal Wood until April 2008, began the permit and building process in early 2008 in Mesquite, Nev., a border town near Arizona. The mortgage crisis stopped the development in its early stages and now tumbleweeds roll along the man-made plateaus where houses may yet be built in the 90-lot, 30.27-acre neighborhood. Mesquite is a town of about 21,000 people in the Virgin Valley that draws in people from nearby Utah and Arizona to gamble in its casinos. The Hayden Estates are on the northern edge of town, in Mesquite  Heights, along the road to the landfill. Continue reading

Congress looks at mortgage finance reform

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner testifies on reforming the mortgage finance industry. Click on the picture to watch C-Span video of the House Financial Services Committee hearing.

Obama administration calls for shrinking government’s role in housing market, phasing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and larger downpayments

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The taxpayer-financed $150 billion bailout of the housing finance industry has triggered a serious push to reform the system, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner leading the charge by calling on Congress to pass a law that would dissolve Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled home mortgage companies.

Appearing before the House Financial Services Committee, Geitner outlined the administration’s plan for “unwinding” Fannie and Freddie over the next five to seven years and sharply reducing the government’s role in the housing market in the future. The plan also recommends requiring larger down payments on home purchases. Click here to watch a C-Span video of the hearing. Continue reading

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