George Stewart


Arizona Is Experiencing A Surge Of Chinese Tourists

Arizona State Tourism Authorities Are Courting Chinese Tourists

Bell rock sedona arizona

China isn’t Arizona’s top source of overseas visitors—but that might soon change, thanks to a surge in interest from Chinese travelers and marketing efforts tailored to them by state tourism officials. According to research released this week by the Arizona Office of Tourism, visitation from China increased 20 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year.

“China is our fastest-growing overseas market,” said Debbie Johnson, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “This is the seventh consecutive year we’ve seen an increase in visitors from China, and we expect the trend to continue.”

Nearly 77,000 Chinese travelers came to Arizona in 2016, making China the state’s No. 4 source of overseas visitors (behind Germany, Britain and France). But the potential for increased visitation from the world’s most populous nation dwarfs that of its European counterparts.

“(The Arizona Office of Tourism) has contracted international media and travel-trade representation in China for the past four years,” Johnson said. “And our reps have told us that Arizona is the next ‘it destination’ for the Chinese.”


In addition to having representation on the ground in China, the Office of Tourism media relations manager who handles the Chinese market speaks fluent Mandarin.

To increase awareness of Arizona in China, the Office of Tourism has conducted several media and travel trade missions to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Arizona tourism officials have also partnered with Brand USA to bring Chinese media, influencers and travel professionals to Arizona. These programs are designed to educate journalists, travel agents and tour operators about Arizona’s tourism assets.

“Chinese travelers have a strong interest in national parks, road trips and shopping—all things Arizona is well positioned to promote,” said Tina Yao, general manger of AVIAREPS, which represents the Arizona Office of Tourism in China.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Chinese travelers spent $27 billion more in the U.S. in 2015—more than any other international outbound market.

“Besides being prolific travelers, the Chinese are extremely active on social media channels like WeChat and Weibo, and images of places like the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley have a huge impact on travel behavior,” Yao said.

Window rock AZ

In addition to education efforts, the Office of Tourism is working with Ctrip—a leading provider of travel services in China—to create an “Arizona Flagship Store” on its website. The Office of Tourism is also partnering with Expedia to sponsor screenings of the film “National Parks Adventure” in theatres throughout China and on Youku, which is one of country’s most popular video websites.

(The film already has garnered half a million views on Youku in only four weeks.) This program includes a dedicated landing page featuring Arizona hotel inventory on Expedia and[] in China.

“Our marketing efforts in China are paying dividends,” Johnson said. “As more affordable and more frequent air service becomes available to China’s exploding middle class, it’s easy to see a day in the near future when China is our No. 1 overseas feeder market.”

[Source: Arizona Office of Tourism -/- Media Relations]
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Iraqi Forces Begin Assault On ISIS Militants In Tal Afar

Iraqi Forces Begin Offensive to Liberate Tal Afar

BMP-1 Iraq 3
Iraqi security forces have begun their offensive to liberate the city of Tal Afar from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials said today. The global coalition against ISIS welcomes Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s statement earlier today announcing the launch of the offensive to liberate Tal Afar and the remainder of Ninevah province and northern Iraq from ISIS, Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria, said in a statement.

All branches of the Iraqi security forces will take part in the liberation of Tal Afar: the 9th, 15th and 16th Iraqi army divisions, the counterterrorism Service, the federal police and emergency response division and the Iraqi local police, as well as popular mobilization forces under Abadi’s command, task force officials said. 

“Following their historic victory in Mosul, the [Iraqi security forces] have proven themselves a capable, formidable and increasingly professional force, and they are well-prepared to deliver another defeat to ISIS in Tal Afar,” coalition officials said in a statement. “The coalition will continue to help the government and security forces to liberate the Iraqi people and defeat ISIS through five means: by providing equipment, training, intelligence, precision fires and combat advice.”  

Iraqi soldier with AKM

Fully Committed

Though the recent liberation of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, was a decisive victory for the Iraqi security forces, it did not mark the end of ISIS in Iraq, or its worldwide threat,” Townsend said.

“The [Iraqi security forces] operation to liberate Tal Afar is another important fight that must be won to ensure the country and its citizens are finally free of ISIS,” he added. “The coalition is strong, and fully committed to supporting our Iraqi partners until ISIS is defeated and the Iraqi people are free.” 

Coalition officials estimate that 10,000 to 50,000 civilians remain in and around Tal Afar, the task force statement said, and the coalition applies rigorous standards to its targeting process and takes “extraordinary efforts” to protect noncombatants.

“In accordance with the laws of armed conflict and in support of its partnered forces who are risking their lives every day in the fight against an evil enemy, the coalition will continue to strike valid military targets, after considering the principles of military necessity, humanity, proportionality and distinction,” the coalition statement said.

[Source: From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release -/- Media Relations]
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The US Navy Ship ‘USS Indianapolis’, Sunk In WWII, Found On The Floor Of North Pacific Ocean

Researchers Find Wreckage of USS Indianapolis

Civilian researchers led by entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul G. Allen have announced they have found the wreck of the World War II cruiser USS Indianapolis, which was lost July 30, 1945. This is a significant discovery, officials said, considering the depth of the water in the area in which the ship was lost: more than 18,000 feet. About 800 of the ship’s 1,196 sailors and Marines survived the sinking, but after four to five days in the water — suffering exposure, dehydration, drowning and shark attacks — only 316 survived.

The wreck was located by the expedition crew of Research Vessel Petrel, which is owned by Allen, 2,000 feet below the surface, resting on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean.

“To be able to honor the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling,” Allen said. “As Americans, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the crew for their courage, persistence and sacrifice in the face of horrendous circumstances. While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming.”

Ship Sank in 12 Minutes

The ship was lost in the final days of World War II when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the early morning hours of July 30, 1945. It sank in 12 minutes, making it impossible to send a distress signal or deploy much of its life-saving equipment. Prior to the attack, the Indianapolis had just completed a secret mission delivering components of the atomic bomb used in Hiroshima that ultimately would help to end the war in the Pacific.

“Even in the worst defeats and disasters, there is valor and sacrifice that deserves to never be forgotten,” said Sam Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command. “They can serve as inspiration to current and future sailors enduring situations of mortal peril. There are also lessons learned — and in the case of the Indianapolis, lessons re-learned — that need to be preserved and passed on, so the same mistakes can be prevented and lives saved.”

Others have searched for Indianapolis in the past. Among the elements that made this effort different was Allen’s recent acquisition and retrofit of the 250-foot R/V Petrel with state-of-the-art subsea equipment capable of diving 3 and a half miles.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) underway in 1944 (stbd)

Culmination of Lengthy Effort

“The Petrel and its capabilities — the technology it has and the research we’ve done — are the culmination years of dedication and hard work,” said Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for Allen. “We’ve assembled and integrated this technology, assets and unique capability into [an] operating platform, which is now one amongst very few on the planet.”

The other key factor in the discovery was information that surfaced in 2016 when Dr. Richard Hulver, historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command, conducted research that led to a new search area to the west of the original presumed position. Hulver’s research identified a naval landing craft that had recorded a sighting of Indianapolis hours before it was torpedoed. Using that information, the research team developed a new position and estimated search, which was still a daunting 600 square miles of open ocean.

Allen-led expeditions have also resulted in the discovery of the Japanese battleship Musashi in March 2015 and the Italian World War II destroyer Artigliere in March of this year. His team also was responsible for retrieving and restoring the ship’s bell from the HMS Hood for presentation to the British navy in honor of its heroic service. Allen’s expedition team recently was transferred to the newly acquired and retrofitted R/V Petrel specifically for continuing exploration and research efforts.

Surveying Wreckage Site

The 13-person expedition team on the R/V Petrel is surveying the full site and will conduct a live tour of the wreckage in the next few weeks, officials said.

Their work is compliant with U.S. law, respecting the sunken ship as a war grave and not disturbing the site, officials added. USS Indianapolis remains the property of the U.S. Nav,y and its location will remain confidential and restricted by the Navy. The crew of the R/V Petrel has collaborated with Navy authorities throughout its search operations and will continue to work on plans to honor the 22 crew members still alive today, as well as the families of all those who served on the highly decorated cruiser.

The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy’s contributions through the nation’s history, and it supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. The command is composed of many activities, including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archaeology, Navy histories, 10 museums, the USS Constitution repair facility and the historic ship Nautilus.

[Source: U.S. Navy News Service -/- Media Relations]
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Bacon Lovers Celebrate Today – Rejoice, It Is “National Bacon Lover’s Day”

Bacon strips
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After The Lebanese Military Attack Killed 20 ISIS Militants, They Raised The Spanish Flag

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In a display of solidarity after Thursday’s Barcelona attack, Lebanese soldiers raised a Spanish flag alongside their own on a Syrian-Lebanese border hill seized from the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). Lebanese military launched its operation in the Jurud Ras Baalbek and Jurud al-Qaa region early on Saturday on the country’s eastern border with Syria, AFP… Read More

Spain Proclaims Barcelona Terror Cell Has Been Dismantled

Arc de Triomf (Barcelona)
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Steve Bannon (32752496880)
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Nowruz in northern Afghanistan-2011
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The Lebanese Army Has Launched An Offensive Against An Islamic State Enclave

Lebanese Tank Beirut Lebanon Unrest 5-9-08
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Avoiding ‘Tourism-Phobia’, Sustainable Tourism Management Is the Solution

Tourism Growth Is Not The Enemy; It’s How We Manage It That Counts.

By Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

In recent months, reports from all around the world have spoken of ‘tourism-phobia’, showing us pictures of citizens protesting against the ‘invasion of tourists’ and the expulsion of locals by tourism businesses.

As an economic activity, travel and tourism is relatively young; yet it has become today, a sector central to our societies and to our way of life. Today, tourism generates 10% of the world’s GDP, 1 in every 10 jobs and 30% of world trade in services. It is key to many countries’ balance of payments and livelihoods.

Recognizing how tourism can help us address many of our common challenges, the United Nations declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, reminding us that with growth comes responsibility.

A sustainable tourism sector is one that promotes environmental preservation and protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, but more importantly, it promotes engagement, commitment and respect for local communities. Managing the growing number of visitors to many popular areas of our planet, including cities, is crucial for both hosts and visitors, both international and domestic. In countries such as Spain or France the share of domestic tourists is higher than that of international visitors.


Growth is not the enemy. Growing numbers are not the enemy.  Growth is the eternal story of mankind. Tourism growth can and should lead to economic prosperity, jobs and resources to fund environmental protection and cultural preservation, as well as community development and progress needs, which would otherwise not be available. It also means that through meeting others we can broaden our horizons, open our minds and our hearts, improve our well-being and be better people ; Shaping a better world .

Yet ensuring that tourism is an enriching experience for visitors and hosts alike, demands strong, sustainable tourism policies, practices, and the engagement of national ,as well as local governments and administrations, private sector companies, local communities and tourists themselves.

The sector needs regulations and clear guidelines, but not ones that would curb growth. Rather, regulations that ensure its sustainable management and sustainable growth actions that help such as:

  1. Diversify visitor activities; both in type and location.
  2. Effective and integrated mechanisms and policies to manage visitors at sites;
  3. Policies to reduce seasonality;
  4. Incentives for the private sector to invest in new areas and new products,
  5. Incentives and policies to reduce energy and water consumption and address other community needs, shortcomings and deficits.

There have been several case studies of destinations struggling to maintain a fair and inclusive sector while managing exponential tourism growth – Venice and Barcelona being prominent recent examples. It should be emphasised , in this regard, that, whilst local communities must be consulted and fully engaged in tourism planning, ‘tourism-phobia’ on the part of citizens is largely a result of the failure to manage the growth in a sustainable manner. The wrongdoing of illegal companies, damage to marine and terrestrial ecosystems or misbehaviour of a small number of travellers do not represent a dearth of tourism ethics by the sector as a whole

It’s the failure of management not of the sector as such.

All the efforts of enterprise, government, civil society and travellers in the last decades to shape a more responsible and committed global tourism sector should not be in vain. We can and should be able to continue capitalizing on the sector and its benefits in terms of job creation, economic development and cultural interaction, while curbing its negative effects and impacts.

Every growing human activity has a downside to it. The answer should never be to halt the activity, and lose all it’s clear benefits, but rather to live up to the challenge and manage it correctly .This is the real challenge. We should ensure that our conviction to improve the sector is today stronger than ever. Otherwise, the value of the sector will naturally be lost and contested.

Together we can continue building a sustainable, equitable and well-managed tourism sector that supports many livelihoods around the world and can enrich us every time we cross borders and exchange cultural experiences.

Let us remember the motto of the campaign of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development: to

Travel, Enjoy and Respect.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations Specialized Agency for Tourism. With its Headquarters in Madrid, is responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize tourism’s socio-economic contribution while minimizing its possible negative impacts, and is committed to promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development worldwide.

[Source: UNWTO -/- Media Relations]
[Photo Credits: By ©George Stewart (Own Work) ]


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