Friday, November 25, 2011

European tourism grows above expectations

International tourist arrivals grew by a healthy 4.5% in the first eight months of 2011 according to the latest data from UNWTO. Europe (+6%), surprisingly, showed the strongest growth amid continuing economic uncertainty.

January-August 2011: Positive note despite increased uncertainty
International tourist arrivals grew by 4.5% in the first eight months of 2011 to a total of 671 million (29 million more than in the same period of 2010).
The Northern Hemisphere summer peak season months of July and August showed encouraging results with growth at close to 4% over 2010, corresponding to an extra 8 million arrivals. At 118 million, July saw the highest number of international tourist arrivals ever recorded in one month (August: 112 million).
Contrary to the trend in recent years, growth in arrivals during the first eight months of 2011 was higher in advanced economies (+4.9%) than in emerging ones (+4.0%), due largely to the particularly strong results of Europe (+6%). In Northern Europe (+7%) and Central and Eastern Europe (+8%), recovery from the 2009 decline, which began in 2010, gained momentum this year. The same is true for some Southern European destinations (+8%), which this year also benefited from the shift of travel away from Middle East (-9%) and North Africa (-15%).
Contrasting with growing economic uncertainty, European Union destinations (+6%) benefited strongly from this growth, bringing some relief for those destinations facing major economic challenges such as Greece (+14%), Ireland (+13%), Portugal (+11%) or Spain (+8%).
“Despite current volatility, international tourism is proving to be an important economic driver for many European economies, bringing much needed foreign exchange and helping to ease the pressure on their balance of payments,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “UNWTO encourages European governments to support tourism and consider the sector as one that can back economic recovery given its capacity to distribute wealth and create jobs across the region,” he added.     
In Asia (+6%), destinations in South-East (+12%) and South Asia (+13%) remained the rising stars, with double-digit growth rates, while arrivals slowed in North-East Asia – partly due to the decline in Japanese outbound tourism – and in Oceania. 
South America (+13%) continues to lead growth in the Americas (+5%) benefiting from positive economic trends in the region and increased regional integration. Results in the other sub-regions – North America (+3%) Central America (+4%) and the Caribbean (+4%) – were slightly below average.
In Africa arrivals were down by 4% as a result of the downturn in North Africa; Sub-Saharan African destinations grew by +4%.
In spite of the current situation in the Middle East, some destinations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates continue to grow steadily. Results of recent months (July and August) also show an improvement in arrivals to Egypt.

Source markets: Emerging economies lead among spenders
Data on receipts from and expenditure on international tourism for the first eight months of 2011 confirm the positive trend in arrivals.
Among the top ten destinations in international tourism receipts, the two main earners - the USA (+11%) and Spain (+10%) – show exports from tourism growing above the rate of arrivals, while growth in Italy (+6%), Germany (+6%) and the UK (+7%) was also significant.
In terms of source markets, expenditure on travel abroad continued to be very strong from the emerging economies of China (+30%), Russia (+21%), Brazil (+44%) and India (+33%). Major mature markets such as Germany (+4%), the USA (+5%), Canada (+6%) and Italy (+4%) also performed positively, while growth in expenditure on travel abroad from the Scandinavian markets, the Republic of Korea and Australia was particularly strong.

Outlook for 2012
Growth is expected to soften in the remainder of 2011 and international tourist arrivals are projected to end the year at between +4.0% and +4.5%, in line with UNWTO’s forecast at the beginning of the year. For 2012, growth is forecast to be in the range of +3% to +4%, slightly lower than in 2011 but sustaining the positive results of 2010 (+7%) and 2011.
“A stalled economic recovery and increased financial and fiscal challenges have brought growing uncertainty to the tourism market. Nevertheless, the trends of recent months make us confident that though at a slower pace, international tourism will continue to grow in 2012, creating much needed exports and jobs in many economies around the world,” said Mr. Rifa


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

US hotel appoints 'green concierge'

New green concierge at California Hotel can advise guests on where to get a shot of fair-trade coffee among other eco-conscious activitiesA California hotel has introduced a green concierge to offer guests expert advice on sustainable and eco-friendly activities. 

The new concierge at 164-room Shore Hotel in Santa Monica can suggest the best farmers' markets on any day of the week, where to shop for eco-friendly clothes and where to get a shot of fair trade expresso or reserve a hybrid taxi, the hotel said. 
The hotel is the only new-build in Santa Monica to be LEED registered and hotels who wish to find out more about the hotel's design and construction can ask the green concierge. 

Εργαστήρια Αγροτουρισμού στο Ξυλόκαστρο

Εργαστήρια Αγροτουρισμού στο Ξυλόκαστρο
Μια καινοτόμα και φιλόδοξη πρωτοβουλία ξενοδόχων, αγροτών και παραγωγών
της περιοχής του Ξυλοκάστρου

Τα "Εργαστήρια Αγροτουρισμού στο Ξυλόκαστρο" είναι μια πρωτοβουλία ξενοδόχων, αγροτών και παραγωγών της ευρύτερης περιοχής του Ξυλοκάστρου. Έχει σαν στόχο να γίνουν γνωστά τα εξαιρετικά αγροτικά προϊόντα της περιοχής μας (σταφίδα, σταφύλια, κρασιά, ελιές, μήλα, λεμόνια και πορτοκάλια ) μέσα από θεματικά εργαστήρια που θα μυήσουν τους επισκέπτες στη μακρά παράδοση φιλοξενίας του Ξυλοκάστρου και ταυτόχρονα στην αυθεντική αγροτική ζωή του.

Καθένα από τα "Εργαστήρια Αγροτουρισμού στο Ξυλόκαστρο" είναι αφιερωμένο σε μια καλλιέργεια, την οποία οι επισκέπτες μας θα έχουν την ευκαιρία, υπό την καθοδήγηση και με τη βοήθεια και παρέα αγροτών και παραγωγών, να γνωρίσουν σε βάθος.
Εργαστήρι Σταφυλιών: Το Εργαστήρι Σταφυλιών θα εισαγάγει τους συμμετέχοντες στις φημισμένες ποικιλίες σταφυλιών της Κορινθίας μέσα από την εμπειρία της συγκομιδής, του πατήματός, της οινοποίησης, αλλά και της μετατροπής τους σε χυμό, επιδόρπια, πετιμέζι και γλυκά. Θα απολαύσουν επίσης ένα μασάζ προσώπου ή σώματος με αιθέριο έλαιο σταφυλιών. 

Εργαστήρι Μήλου: Με το Εργαστήρι Μήλου οι συμμετέχοντες θα γνωρίσουν από κοντά τα Κορινθιακά μήλα, συλλέγοντάς τα και μετατρέποντάς τα σε νόστιμους χυμούς, γλυκά, μαρμελάδες, ξύδι και λικέρ. Θα γνωρίσουν επίσης τη διατροφική αξία και τις θεραπευτικές δυνατότητες των μήλων. 

 Εργαστήρι Ελιάς: Το Εργαστήρι Ελιάς περιλαμβάνει συγκομιδή ελιών και μεταφορά στο λιοτρίβι, όπου θα αποκαλυφθούν στους συμμετέχοντες τα μυστικά του καλού ελαιόλαδου. Θα ακολουθήσουν εργαστήρια μαγειρικής, σαπωνοποιίας και φυσικών θεραπειών με βάση το ελαιόλαδο.

Εκτός από το Daphne’s Club Hotel Apartments , συμμετέχουν τα ξενοδοχεία Lido και Le Convivial Spa , οι παραγωγοί Καλλιδόρπιο, Ανθοχώρα και Κτήμα Παπαργυρίου και οι αγρότες Λιακόπουλος, Τεάζης και Ασπροποταμίτης. Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες, ημερομηνίες διεξαγωγής, τιμές και τα στοιχεία των συμμετεχόντων ξενοδοχείων, αγροτών και παραγωγών, επισκεφτείτε την ιστοσελίδα , στείλτε email στο ή καλέστε 6977939597 (υπεύθυνη δράσης: Δάφνη Μαυρομμάτη).
Τα «Εργαστήρια Αγροτουρισμού στο Ξυλόκαστρο» στην 'Εκθεση PHILOXENIA
Θεσσαλονίκη, 18-20 Νοεμβρίου 2011

Το Daphne's Club Hotel Apartments παρουσίασε τα "Εργαστήρια Αγροτουρισμού στο Ξυλόκαστρο" στην Έκθεση Philoxenia της Θεσσαλονίκης, μεταξύ 18 και 20 Νοεμβρίου 2011. Εκπροσωπώντας ολόκληρο το δίκτυο των συνεργαζόμενων ξενοδοχείων, αγροτών και παραγωγών, ενημέρωσε τους επισκέπτες της έκθεσης για τη νέα δραστηριότητα στην οποία μπορούν να συμμετάσχουν, ενώ ταυτόχρονα θα απολαμβάνουν τις ομορφιές της περιοχής του Ξυλοκάστρου (την καθαρή θάλασσα, το υπέροχο πευκοδάσος, τα επιβλητικά βουνά). 
Πληροφορίες: , email , τηλ 6977939597 (υπεύθυνη δράσης: Δάφνη Μαυρομμάτη).

Press Release
 «Xylokastro Agrotourism Workshops»
An innovative and ambitious initiative by hoteliers, farmers and producers of the Xylokastro area

The "Xylokastro Agrotourism Workshops" is the initiative of an informal network of hoteliers, farmers and producers of the wider Xylokastro region. Its aim is to raise awareness of the area's excellent agricultural products (grapes, raisins, wines, olives, apples, lemons and oranges) through thematic workshops. These workshops will introduce visitors to Xylokastro's long hospitality tradition, while at the same time initiating them to its authentic farming life.

Each of the "Xylokastro Agrotourism Workshops" is dedicated to a specific crop, which the visitors will have the opportunity to learn about, with the guidance, help and company of the farmers and their families.

'Great Grape Workshop': The 'Great Grape Workshop' will introduce participants to the famous Corinthian grape varieties through picking, pressing, wine-making, juice and jam making and more. Each participant will also receive a grape seed oil massage to relax from the strain of farm life!

'Ten Apples a Week Workshop': By taking part in the 'Ten Apples a Week Workshop' participants will have the opportunity to get to know Corinthian Apples. They will pick them and learn how to transform them into jams, dessers, juices, cider, vinegar. They will also learn about the nutritional value and therapautic uses of apples.

'Golden Olive Workshop': During the 'Golden Olive Workshop' participants will pick olives, take them to the olive press and learn the secrets of good olive oil. The will also learn how to cook traditional olive oil based dishes, how to make olive oil soap and what the therapautic uses of olive oil are in Greece. 

The Agrotourism network's participants, apart from Daphne’s Club Hotel Apartments , are the hotels  Lido and Le Convivial Spa , the producers Kallidorpio, Flowerland και Domaine Papargyriou and the farmers Liakopoulos, Teazis and Aspropotamitis. For more information, dates, prices and contact details visit our webpage , send us an email or call +30 6977939597 (project manager: Daphne Mavrommati).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Top 10 Green Car Questions

The Top 10 Green Car Question

Paul Clarke of addresses some of the most issues around low carbon vehicles

1. How can the public be expected to understand EV, HEV, E-REV, PHEV, FCHV, REEV?
The answer is simple: the public can't be expected to understand all these abbreviations for the latest low carbon car technologies. Most people aren't aware that you can buy conventionally-powered cars that do over 70 mpg, so there's no hope that they will know what these terms mean - even most journalists and people in the car industry don't know. Car manufacturers and the media obviously need to do more to communicate all the new technologies, and that's exactly what aims to do. But this is a nice problem to have - it means that we're at an exciting time for car buyers. It wasn't too long ago when the choice was petrol or petrol, and the only option was a black vinyl roof. All these new forms of technology mean that whatever sort of car people need, there will be an efficient version - as long as they can afford it. Just for the record:
  • EV: Electric Vehicle - example: Nissan LEAF
  • HEV: Hybrid Electric Vehicle - example: Peugeot 3008HYbrid4
  • E-REV: Extended-Range Electric Vehicle - example: Vauxhall Ampera
  • PHEV: Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle - example: Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid
  • FCHV: Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle - example: Toyota Highlander FCHV
  • REEV: Range Extended Electric Vehicle - same as E-REV; example: Vauxhall Ampera
2. Why is the European Automobile Manufacturer's Association lobbying against a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases target for Europe when it is supported by 90 major companies?
You'd have to ask them, but I guess it's because, as an association, they have to be seen to be doing something on behalf of their members. But with both the UK and Europe aiming for ambitiously lower CO2 targets, they can lobby, but it's going to be difficult to stop.
When the European CO2 targets for cars were first talked about, European car manufacturers lobbied vigorously against the plans, saying they couldn't be achieved, but when the targets were confirmed, all the engineers set to work to find ways to lower CO2 emissions from cars, and now most manufacturers are ahead of where they need to be. So targets encourage innovation, and engineers seem to like a challenge, so bring it on.
3. Do you think vehicles should be limited to 70 mph in the UK - would it have a significant effect on fuel economy? The RAC wants the government to consider increasing the speed limit to 80 mph on some stretches of road. This will increase CO2 emissions by at least 17 per cent - does the panel support the RAC?
Yes limiting vehicles to 70 mph would have a significant effect on fuel economy. From a green perspective, a 70 mph limit make sense. However from a business efficiency point of view, if we all drove at, say... 140 mph we'd cut our travel time in half, be more productive, make more money, and as a result we could help to bail out Greece and Italy. However, my main point on this question is really important and nothing to do with CO2, it's to do with road safety.
If we're going to increase speed limits then we should improve standards of driving. I actually think that the speed limit should be abolished completely, but people would only be allowed to drive at higher speeds if they can prove they can drive competently, for instance if they successfully pass an advanced driving test.
And a final thought, tied in with this, if David Cameron or any other government minister is reading this, is that there is a way for the government to save billions of pounds, by scrapping motorway-widening programmes and instead just getting people to use the existing lanes on motorways properly, by getting the police to enforce and give people on-the-spot fines of £1000 for hogging the middle lane - so making sure our existing motorways are utilised more efficiently; the government can make money from it; and it will save me and millions of others being driven crazy by middle-lane hoggers.
Toyota Prius
4. The Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle has been on sale worldwide since 2001. Why have other car manufacturers taken so long to introduce hybrid vehicles?
When we first launched our website in 2006 there were pretty much just two ‘green' cars, the hybrid Toyota Prius and the electric G-Wiz. At that time there was a bit of a thing going on with other manufacturers called ‘Prius envy'. Most manufacturers publicly said that they wouldn't be going down the hybrid route, the additional expense being one reason for this, but here we are today and most manufacturers either have hybrids or are developing them.
The first-generation Toyota Prius didn't sell that well, but now we're at the point where the market is ready for hybrids, and other manufacturers are catching up because they've seen that the Prius has been a success and that hybrids are an effective way to get their official emission figures down. Whether hybrids match their official economy and emissions figures in real life driving is another discussion.
5. Bill Gates said: "If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1000 MPG." Do you think he has a point?
As I've been rolled out to speak about green cars at various conferences over the last few years I've been delighted that the American car industry has been so rubbish in terms of fuel efficiency, as it gave me a great opening slide to compare the miles per gallon of America's best-selling car, the Ford F350 pick-up truck (around 14 mpg), with cars in the UK; this made our cars look greener-than-green in comparison.
With George Bush in power it made the Americans look even more stupid in terms of environmental issues, and I thought I'd be able to use that introduction forever. During that time the US auto industry view was that they had to continue producing the same type of cars to stay in business and fend off the Japanese.
So what happened? The Japanese made fuel-efficient cars, they became more successful, and the US auto industry kept ignoring the need for efficiency and went bankrupt. GM then re-emerged and brought us the Chevrolet Volt/Vauxhall Ampera that does 175 mpg, showing that they can do it. So yes Bill Gates does have a point.
6. Would the panel support an electric car rental scheme for London as they have in Paris and similar to 'Boris Bikes'?
Yes, because it would be like a giant game of dodgems, it would be great fun. Actually, it does make complete sense. Electric cars are ideal for London in that they are easy to drive, quiet, and have zero-tailpipe emission. However the downsides are that they're expensive to buy for cars that by their very nature are not likely to drive very far, and most people in London don't have off-road parking to allow them to recharge them.
So yes an electric car rental scheme - offering electric cars just when needed, and for much less cost then buying them outright - would make perfect sense - and commercial companies are actually doing this.
Front of the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle
7. Wouldn't development of low energy use vehicles be much faster if all car manufacturers worked together?
Yes, and this is happening. There are official manufacturer alliances, for instance between Renault and Nissan, to develop electric cars. This alliance also includes the Infiniti brand, which is being launched in the UK at the moment, which has its own hybrid technology. In the UK, we've had Technology Strategy Board projects running for a few years now, which have ended up with a wide range of partners collaborating together.
A number of cars in the Future Car Challenge event are the result of that collaboration, such as the electric Delta E4 Coupe, the Lightning, the T.27, and the Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid. Yet we still have different manufacturers working on similar technologies independently - such as the artificially-generated noise for electric cars, which I'm aware a number of companies are working on - areas such as this would make sense for one company to develop for everyone.
8. According to the Department of Transport, there are 85 new cars available in the UK with combined cycle economy of under 20 mpg, including many Range Rover models. Shouldn't there be a minimum economy limit for new cars?
The driving force behind Green-Car-Guide has always been that we want to see all cars being much more efficient, but still great to drive. So yes we want cars with better economy, and that is what's happening as a result of the European CO2 targets for cars. With the example of the Range Rover, a Range Rover is an amazing piece of engineering, and such engineering doesn't easily come in a lightweight, efficient form.
But as we recently showed by driving the new 50 mpg Range Rover Evoque to the top of a mountain, Range Rover is starting to deliver cars that can still transport our families safely through the snow, but that are much more efficient. The Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid is another example of the work that is currently underway.
We also need to be careful we don't legislate against people having fun. Cars are an emotional purchase, and people buy cars to make a statement about themselves. The car industry is doing a good job giving us cars that are desirable but also more efficient, and the vast majority of new cars are showing significant improvements in economy.
Vauxhall Ampera
9. In 2009 62 million cars and commercial vehicles were produced. It is estimated (according to Lux Research) that sales of electric and hybrid vehicles will not exceed 7.5 million in 2020. So is all this alternative energy vehicle development a waste of time?
No-one is saying that every vehicle on sale in the world in 2020 will be electric or hybrid. There's a document in existence called the Technology Road Map for passenger cars, produced by the Automotive Council in collaboration with car manufacturers. This charts out the technologies for cars in the UK until 2050. Petrol and diesel engines have a life until that point, at least.
Although markets such as the UK focus on CO2, it's not like this everywhere in the world - yet. The simple answer is that there will be a mix of vehicle technologies. Electric and hybrids make sense for urban areas; an efficient diesel still makes more sense on a long journey.
So development of alternative energy vehicles certainly isn't a waste of time. I just can't see all the directors at the big car companies saying "We know it's a waste of time, but let's invest billions into more efficient technologies anyway..."
10. Do the members of the panel regularly drive an alternative energy vehicle? If so, what type?
Well, running Green-Car-Guide, it means that I'm fortunate to drive at least one new green car - of ALL types - and report on it every week. And I'd stress the ‘green car' bit as opposed to ‘alternative energy vehicle', because there are lots of cars out there that are class-leading in terms of emissions but they're not ‘alternative energy vehicles'.
To quote some examples - a recent road test on our site is of a BMW 5 Series that does 63 mpg, and before that we drove to the top of a mountain in a Range Rover Evoque that can do 50 mpg (although it didn't do 50 mpg on the way up the mountain). As the drive up the mountain was designed to prove, neither of these cars have any compromises; they have conventional diesel engines, but ones that are optimised to be very efficient.
We also drive electric cars, and I would always want to drive an electric car in a city rather than a diesel BMW or Range Rover - so my message is that whatever type of car you need, there are class-leading green ones out there.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Brits willing to pay more for environmental holidays

A survey conducted by travel association ABTA has found that an increasing number of people are willing to pay extra for a holiday with a company that has a good environmental record.

ABTA’s 2011 Consumer Trends Survey found that 19% of people said they would pay more to go on holiday with an environmentally and socially ethical company, compared with 17% last year.

The Travelife Sustainable System has been set up by ABTA to rate hotels and holiday accommodation in terms of their environmental and social practices. The research also found that one in three holidaymakers would like to see holidays given this kind of rating scheme.

After a full, independent audit, accommodation providers are able to achieve a Bronze, Silver, or Gold award, so customers can find out how responsible they are.
So far 17,000 properties have signed up to the rating system, with 1500 of those undertaking an independent audit, and over 500 achieving a Bronze, Silver, or Gold award.
“These findings back up research from the same survey that more and more people are expecting holiday companies to be both socially and environmentally responsible,” said Sören Stöber, Travelife's Business Manager.
“Schemes such as Travelife can now meet the steadily growing demand for sustainably rated holidays. Travelife logos are now being displayed by mainstream travel companies and this is helping consumers to make more informed choices about their holidays.”
Travelife is supported by some of the biggest tour operators in the world, and you can find the Travelife rating in their brochures and websites, as well as in accommodation suppliers’ own marketing material.
These findings come as it was revealed last month that British holidaymakers are the biggest spenders when it comes to Mediterranean holidays. Data released by Visa Europe showed that British spending accounted for 16.7% of the total spend across six Mediterranean countries. Luckily, there are some ways of saving money abroad, such as using travel money cards.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Find Your Inspiration at a Xeriscape Demonstration Garden

The fall planting season has arrived! Temperatures are cooler, and it’s a great time to renovate your landscape or replace plants you may have lost during the hot, dry summer.

Desert Willow Trees are native to the Sonoran Desert.

There are hundreds of beautiful desert plants to choose from but one of the biggest challenges of purchasing desert plants (especially since many are Sonoran Desert natives) is that some don’t look great in the pot at the nursery. You really have to have faith and know that the wispy stems in the container will be like the ‘ugly duckling that turns into a swan’ once planted in your landscape.

That’s why we suggest visiting a Xeriscape Demonstration Garden for plant selection ideas. It’s amazing how different plants look when they’re established in the landscape. Best of all, demonstration gardens give you a good idea of how large a plant can get so that you’re sure to put the right plant in the right place. You’ll also find design ideas and great examples of plant combinations.

Brand new xeriscape demonstration garden in Paradise Valley

One of our Water – Use It Wisely Partners, Arizona American Water, is pleased to showcase a new Xeriscape Demonstration Garden in Paradise Valley located at 6229 N. Mockingbird Lane. The Company planned the garden with neighbors, town council members, and Master Gardeners and turned an unused site into a fabulous demonstration for low-water use plants, Xeriscape principals and how to save water and money.

Arizona American Water is one of fifteen Water – Use It Wisely regional partners and many of them sponsor beautiful demonstration gardens. Get inspired. Find a Xeriscape Demonstration Garden near you!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Chattanooga Hotel Adds EV Charging Stations

CHATTANOOGA, TENN.—The Residence Inn Chattanooga near Hamilton Place, among Chattanooga extended stay hotels, announced that it has added two new environmentally friendly Level 2 Blink Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations. The charging stations are complimentary to hotel guests.
The hotel has taken great strides in the local and global effort to create a healthier, greener environment since its opening in 2009. Residence Inn is a member of the Chattanooga Green Lodging Certification Program. The hotel recycles soap, uses environmentally friendly laundry detergents, recycles plastic, and offers towel and linen reuse program which saves water.
In 2010, ECOtality, a leader in electric transportation, launched the EV Project. The EV Project is designed to educate the uninformed about the charging stations and to encourage the deployment of charging infrastructure across the United States.
Part of Larger Project
With the mission of reducing the use of fossil fuels, The EV Project is a public-private partnership funded in part by the Department of Energy. ECOtality used the grant to place Level 2 Stations in prime driving areas.
ECOtality recently held a conference in Chattanooga, and 3H Group Hotels, the management company that owns the Chattanooga conference center hotel, attended the meeting as representatives for the hotel. Because of its prime location, the Residence Inn by Marriott was chosen to add two of only 14,000 Level 2 Stations across 18 major cities in the United States.
“The new EV Stations are excellent additions to the property,” says Ken Cleveland, general manager of the Chattanooga suites hotel. “We have been participating in the Go Green Initiative for a while, and the charging systems take it a step forward.”
The Blink Level 2 Charging Stations recharge vehicles in approximately four to six hours, and are typically used for overnight charging. The standalone units are built for commercial use, and have a friendly, convenient, and adaptable design.


Santa Monica’s got a new green hotel

Santa Monica, Calif. - Travellers who are mindful of minimizing their carbon footprint can sleep soundly at Shore Hotel, the city's only LEED Silver-certified property. This eco-friendly beachside hotel was partly constructed out of salvaged and recycled materials from two demolished motels that formerly occupied its space. Roof-mounted solar panels, high-efficiency boilers and burners, low-flow shower heads and a storm-water runoff plan help to conserve energy and protect natural resources. And if you're looking for a restaurant that serves locally sourced fare, consult the Green Concierge, an electronic compilation of the neighbourhood's greenest shops, restaurants and transportation options.

Greek tourism revival, despite financial woes

People gather on the shore of the Thermaic Gulf in Salonika, Greece, Oct. 13, 2011. - People gather on the shore of the Thermaic Gulf in Salonika, Greece, Oct. 13, 2011. | Eirini Vourloumis / The New York Times

It was early August, and clouds of tear gas drifted through much of Athens, the remnants of protests against austerity measures. But the country’s financial woes seemed far from the minds of the smartly dishevelled young Greeks packed onto the roof terrace of the newly opened Fragile bar in Salonika, about 500 kilometres north of the capital. T-shirt-clad art students shouted over a mix of vintage doo-wop and nineties alt-rock, or ducked into the covered bar area, which evoked a vaguely postal theme, its corkboard-lined walls cross-hatched with packing tape.

“We wanted something simple, and we did all this alone – everything, there was nothing here,” Mirsini Linou, 24, said as she drummed on the raw wood bar. In July, Ms. Linou opened the space in the up-and-coming Valaoritou area, hiring friends as bartenders and DJs.
Fragile is one of several creative, no-frills nightspots that have opened in Salonika in the past few months, joining a bevy of recently launched cultural sites and creative projects in Greece’s second city. Even as their country teeters on the brink of default and struggles with debt, Salonika’s youth are embracing a do-it-yourself ethos resulting in a wave of arts and nightlife venues that they hope will hold up in tough times.
The youth movement is building on rich historical foundations. Salonika, which lies on the northern edge of the Thermaic Gulf, is the capital of the Greek region of Macedonia (not to be confused with the Republic of Macedonia). Punctuated by palm trees and relics of antiquity, maze-like city streets open to century-old marketplaces, where ripe produce, freshly dismembered livestock and an extravagance of spices still form the city’s commercial heart.
Historically one of Europe’s oldest and most multi-ethnic cities, Salonika (called Thessaloniki in Greek) is home to architectural marvels that testify to its centrality in Byzantine, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish history. The city is anchored by Aristotelous Square, where curved, columned façades open to the waterfront in one direction and frame views of the historic Ano Poli (Upper City) in the other.
Though it has only about one million people, compared with five million in Athens, Salonika is widely considered the cultural capital of Greece. Festivals abound, most notably the International Film Festival, which draws hordes of film buffs to the city each November (this year Nov. 4 to 13). It has also produced many of the country’s most acclaimed bands, visual artists and designers. Yet despite Salonika’s vibrant cultural output and young population – students number around 150,000 – over the past few decades, its municipal leadership grew increasingly conservative, withholding support from projects that veered from its entrenched brand of Macedonian monoculturalism.
Last year, though, Yiannis Boutaris, a tattooed, quick-witted former winemaker who turns 70 in January, won the mayoral election by about 350 votes, making him the city’s first socialist-backed mayor in 24 years. Mr. Boutaris quickly shook up the stagnant government, appointing a young staff that set to work opening up and re-examining the city’s multicultural legacy.
“I think people were looking to be liberated from something that’s so restrictive and narrow-minded,” said Marina Fokidis, a curator of the city’s third Biennale of Contemporary Art, which runs through Dec. 18.
For the biennale, exhibitions have been installed in long-ignored Ottoman and Jewish landmarks. Contemporary works that address the modern Mediterranean’s mesh of cultures are on display at Yeni Djami, a former mosque built for a community of converted Jews; the Bey Hamam, an Ottoman-era bathhouse; and Alatza Imaret, a 15th-century Ottoman mosque and hospice once famed for its colourful minaret. The biennale also extends to Salonika’s five major museums, including the State Museum of Contemporary Art, which houses the Costakis Collection, one of the world’s best assemblages of Russian avant-garde art.
The nightspot that best embodies this grassroots vibe might be Coo, a café, bar, music space and gallery that also has its own radio station and record label, home to quirky experimental acts, from ambient pop to electronica. Run by a collective, Coo opened last October and quickly became a go-to spot for Salonika’s hard-partying artistic set. During a recent visit, everyone there seemed to be involved in some kind of off-centre cultural project.
Another new arrival is Cocktail Bar, which opened in May in a disused office building in a semi-derelict business district known more for its prostitutes than its white-collar workers. Its five owners (four are under 30) renovated the airy industrial space themselves, decorating it mostly with materials left by the previous tenants: The sleek concrete bar is propped up on cinder blocks, and the walls are lined with slate-hued cardboard. The owners themselves tend bar, serving seasonal house-recipe cocktails made with mostly organic ingredients. The crowd – teenage stoners, aging hipsters, dressed-down professionals – is as eclectic as the soundtrack, which ranges from deep house to Armenian pop to gangster rap.
“Maybe people used to drink five drinks and now they have two or three,” said Koureas Grigoris, 38, a former photographer who owns two of Salonika’s best-loved rock bars, Urban, on the popular nightlife stretch of Zefxidos Street; and the tiny, perpetually crowded Xena Diafora (Greek for Compilation of Foreign Music). In July, he opened a third spot, Kantina Tropicana, in a converted fabric market. Though the bar is regularly packed, Mr. Grigoris said the numbers are not always reflected at the register. “But it’s okay,” he added. “It’s better to have a place full of people who want to be out and listen to the music. Not everything’s about money.”
The New York Times News Service
SALONIKA— The New York Times News Service

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Evason Phuket & Bon Island, Thailand

ECO PACKAGEThe resosrt has long been praised for its environmental awareness. 

Evason Phuket & Six Senses Spa's Social and Environmental Programme is developed in line with Six Senses core purpose: 

"To create innovative and enlightening experiences that rejuvenate our guests’ love of SLOW LIFE* "


In many ways The Evason Phuket is an excellent example of sustainability in that the whole resort was developed in the shell of an existing building, perhaps the ultimate recycling experience for such a property. Added to this, numerous features and practices have been put in place to minimize negative impacts and embrace positive impacts. All embody the Evason theme - Redefining Experiences. 

The basis for Evason Phuket's environmental and social efforts comes from the Six Senses Hub's Holistic Environmental Management Program and Social & Environmental Responsibility Fund. From this guideline Evason Phuket has, in line with Green Globe 21 Company Standard, developed a Social & Environmental Management System providing a clear direction of our environmental and social efforts. Evason Phuket's Environmental and Social Sustainability Policy is focusing on energy efficiency, water management, waste management, social commitment, protecting natural surroundings, air quality and noise control. 

Evason Phuket is proud to be the first Green Globe 21 Certified resort in South East Asia and the winner of Wild Asia's Responsible Tourism Award 2006.

Friday, November 4, 2011

First Coron Environmental Forum

“A Call for Action and Cooperation” 
THEME: Towards Sustainable Coron in the next Millennium November 8-9, 2011
The FIRST CORON ENVIRONMENTAL FORUM will be held on November 8-9, 2011 at Busuanga Island Paradise to convene the public and private tourism stakeholders of Coron and Calamianes with distinguished line up of Resource Persons from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, AIT-RRCAP-UNEP, international Sustainable Tourism & Hospitality consultant as well as esteemed Environmental NGOs to enlighten on Ecological, Coastal and Marine Resources responsibilities and experiences. The Forum topics will include learning environmental laws and updates, compliance assistance, pollution prevention, designing sustainable tourism framework and programs and green development efforts. The Conference is organized by The Coron Initiative (TCI), the Sustainable Tourism, Community Social Responsibility & Conservation framework, authored by Ms. Susan Cardenas, Sustainability, Green & Keynote Conference Guru who will present on Best Practices on Sustainable Tourism, greening technologies and solutions by Zero Carbon Resorts, Green Hotels and Clean Blue Asia.
“This is a dream-come-true opportunity for Coron and Calamianes, where I envisioned tourism and grassroots growth based on sustainability and conservation of our island’s rich biodiversity resources”, expressed by Al Linsangan III, Coron Ecotourism Lead Advocate, who spearheads the Forum groundwork as Executive Director of The Coron Initiative under the Calamianes Cultural Conservation Networks Inc. He added, “Coron as emerging destination has to learn the lessons of other island destinations whose environmental resources were depleted due to ignorance or neglect of Environmental protection. We wish to avoid these pitfalls of unsustainable development and massive tourism, and learn the strategies of sustainable tourism and economic growth not only for the current stakeholders and prospective investors but also for the future generations of Coron & Calamianes”.  
Guest Speaker-Expert from the United Nations Environment Program UNEP-AIT-RRCAP will also talk at the Forum which will bring together all concerned Coron & Calamianes Tourism industry players: Environmentally Critical Area Network (ECAN) Board chaired by Coron local chief executive Hon. Mario T. Reyes Jr., resort and lodging owners, restaurants, bars, small and medium business owners, leisure (aqua sports, beauty, & health) service providers, land, water and air transport, NGOs, cooperatives, academe and Youth Leaders, to be educated and/or updated with the prevailing environmental compliance and together foment a comprehensive Environmental conservation, Social Responsibility and Sustainable Tourism Initiatives for Coron & Calamianes Islands.  One of the most important objectives of the forum is to educate participants about the salient features of environmental laws, the impending threats of climate change and global warming by the DENR and the current status of environmental resources of Coron & Calamianes to be presented by Palawan Council for Sustainable Development. Part of strategy discussions are sharing of experiences, practices and technologies for sustaining the available resources  of this promising tourism destination and marine biodiversity hotspot in order to organize and implement The Coron Initiative Sustainable Tourism Task Force and working groups and start its working agenda with active participation by the local stakeholders. This significant Tourism event aims to foster private and public partnership on Sustainable Development and facilitate capacity building for Coron & Calamianes on ecological and cultural conservation, comprehensive economic development benefitting not only prospective investors but also the local indigenous community.
The Coron Initiative’s First Environmental Forum is supported by corporate partners and community benefactors - the “Triple Bottom Line” pillars in Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability. Special thanks to sponsors who made this advocacy possible: SMART Communications Philippines, NIDO Petroleum Ltd, Airphil Express (MTR Ticketing Office Coron Station), Department of Environment & Natural Resources & Environmental Management Bureau Region IV-B, CENRO-Coron), Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Governor Baham Mitra, Provincial Governor of Palawan, Palawan First District Representative Congressman Antonio C. Alvarez, Department of Tourism-Region IV, Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, United Nationas Environment Program-RRCAP-AIT, GrAT Austria-Zero Carbon Resorts, Green Hotels Asia Pacific & CLEAN BLUE Asia. Coron-based supporters include Coron Gateway Hotel, Busuanga Island Paradise, Darayonan Lodge, Rock Steady Dive Center, Coron Sustainable Tourism Cooperative (CSTC), Kingfisher Park, Calamianes Expeditions - Coron Eco Tours, HIKARI- SSP Demo Farm and Tagbanua Tribes of Coron Island Association. Official media partners are Natural Wellness and Smart Alternatives Magazines. 
For more details on Registration and green sponsorship opportunities please contact Mr.AL LINSANGAN III- Executive Director Chair - First Coron Calamianes Environmental Forum, # 11 San Agustin St. Barangay Poblacion 3, Coron, Palawan   Philippines 5316. Email at,


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