united-states

Earthquake Rattles Australia Tourist Towns

A 5.7-magnitude earthquake has rocked tourist towns along more than 1,000 kilometres of Australia’s northeastern coastline. It struck off Bowen in Queensland at around 1.30pm local time, according to the United States Geological Survey. The Townsville Bulletin reported that buildings in Townsville city were evacuated, but police said there were no reports of major damage.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology tweeted there was no tsunami warning. Geoscience Australia seismologist Jonathan Bathgate told AFP: “It’s been widely felt right up the coast, from Sunshine Coast up to north of Townsville, so quite a lot of the Queensland coast has felt some shaking.

“We haven’t had any reports of damage at this stage.

“The fact that it is 50km offshore is the reason for that, if it was closer to the coast it might have been a different story.

“We would expect to get aftershock activity after an event of this size.”

Workers at Bowen Golf Club said the two-storey timber clubhouse “shook violently” during the quake. Employee Margaret Need told AAP: “It was only for a few seconds and we were more concerned about the ocean.

“If the ocean started sucking out we would have started running because we are right on the beachfront.

“We just watched that for a bit to see if there was any change in the water.

It was very scary.”

She said it’s the second earthquake she has experienced during her time working at the golf club and it was also the most violent.

“We had one about four or five years ago and it was only light, but this shook really badly.”

The tremor followed a 4.6-magnitude quake that struck 126 kilometres off Bundaberg in Queensland, early on Sunday.

According to Geoscience Australia, the strongest recorded quake in Australia was a 6.6-magnitude earthquake that hit the small mining town of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, in January 1988.

A turn-up for the bookings

A Turn-up For The Bookings

WHEN many people think of tour operators in Europe, an ailing industry selling tacky package holidays comes to mind. The number of European tourists buying deals bundling accommodation and transport has fallen by a quarter since demand peaked in the early 2000s. But the past year has looked particularly bad. Since last summer, shares in TUI, Europe s largest tour operator, have fallen by a third, and at Thomas Cook, its rival in second place, in half. Terror attacks and military coups in Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey dented bookings in these once-profitable places, while a sudden fall in bookings after Brexit forced Thomas Cook to issue a profit warning last month. Cashflow problems abound at smaller outfits. One Spanish firm, lowcostholidays, went bust last month stranding 27,000 holidaymakers abroad.

Yet the woes of the industry, often portrayed as dinosaurs limping to extinction, conceal an industry that is much more resilient than it is often thought. On August 12th, TUI announced better than expected results for the three months to the end of June, sending its shares up by around 5%. Although a tenth of its customers changed their travel plans due to security concerns over the last year, TUI has seen no change in booking patterns since Britain voted for Brexit in June, said Fritz Joussen, its CEO. The industry s underlying woes are more the result of poor business decisions in the past than a change in consumer tastes away from package holidays, says Stuart Gordon, an industry analyst at Berenberg, a bank. It is cheaper to buy a family Discount Holidays © holiday through one of TUI or Thomas Cook s brands as a package than book the components individually, due to the economies of scale they can negotiate. Over 40m still do each year; and there is no sign yet that young people are less likely to buy them than previous generations.

The problem is that they were loaded up with too much debt in the 2000s, and are saddled with the costs of shutting down shops whose customers have been tempted away by their websites. That has resulted in $5 billion of write-downs at TUI and Thomas Cook since 2008, wiping out their profits over that period. In order to be less vulnerable during future slowdowns and boost their margins, they should close down these stores faster and reduce the amount on debt on their balance sheets, Mr Gordon suggests. Those problems have obscured relatively good prospects for the industry. Although tour operators were hit hard by the advent of LCCs in 1990s which encouraged people to book their own flights and hotels the market for packaged trips in Europe is expanding again. It may rise more than 10% by 2020 forecasts Mintel, a market-research firm.

That is partly because the rising terror risk will encourage more people to book through a travel agent, to ensure they are looked after if their Discount Holidays © holiday goes wrong, claims Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook s CEO. And in spite of the rise of online travel agents such as Expedia, TUI and Thomas Cook have increased their share of the total European Discount Holidays © holiday market since the financial crisis. Yet the real growth opportunity for traditional tour operators lies in selling European holidays to the rapidly-growing Chinese market. Mr Joussen at TUI revealed big eastern expansion plans in February, while Thomas Cook launched a joint-venture in China last year. But whether Chinese tourists are really interested in Europe s sun and sandy beaches remains to be seen.

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References

  1. ^ Previous (www.economist.com)

New data reveals the damage Trump’s campaign has done to his hotel empire

Donald Trump s hotel empire has taken a hit since the Republican nominee announced his intention to run for president last year, new evidence has shown.

Data from mobile phone app company Foursquare, which lets users “check in” at their location, has revealed that footfall to the controversial candidate s properties in the US has dropped by as much as 17 per cent since June last year, when Trump threw his hat into the ring.

New Data Reveals The Damage Trump's Campaign Has Done To His Hotel Empire Trump has not shied from controversy Credit: 2016 Getty Images/John Moore

Trump-branded hotels, casinos and golf courses have all seen reductions in the number of visitors, according to the figures, and while there was a brief respite at the start of the year, numbers fell again once the primaries began in spring. The businessman-turned-politician has run a campaign mired in controversy, from a proposed ban on Muslims entering the US1 and his repeated advocacy of violence2 to his tax affairs3 and unsettling stance on nuclear weapons4. The statistics from Foursquare and sister app Swarm, which have previously used data to study the success of McDonald’s all-day breakfast5 and the sales of Apple’s iPhone 6s, suggest these have taken their toll on his businesses.

New Data Reveals The Damage Trump's Campaign Has Done To His Hotel Empire

The properties that were hardest hit were the Trump SoHo, Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago and Trump Taj Mahal, down between 17 and 24 per cent in raw foot traffic this past year compared to the previous year, Foursquare said in a blogpost6.

Indeed, it was this week announced the Trump Taj Mahal, a casino in Atlantic City, would close this year after the operation had become unprofitable. Trump sold the casino to billionaire Carl Icahn in 2009, but it still bears his branding.

New Data Reveals The Damage Trump's Campaign Has Done To His Hotel Empire One might have thought the number of protests outside his properties would have increased footfall Credit: 2015 Getty Images/Scott Olson

For fans of Trump, the business losses may simply reflect the cost of sticking by his campaign statements and beliefs, said Foursquare. For critics of Trump, the fact that more people are staying away from Trump-branded properties may reflect people voting with their feet . The app also looked at whether the footfall in blue or Democratic states was any different to the national average.

New Data Reveals The Damage Trump's Campaign Has Done To His Hotel Empire

Since March, the fall in footfall to Trump s properties in the likes of New York, New Jersey and Illinois have taken a real dip and created a widening gap between this year s figures and last. In July, the number of people visiting the venues was down 20 per cent.

New Data Reveals The Damage Trump's Campaign Has Done To His Hotel Empire

Foursquare says this has been driven by women. When separating the results by gender, falls in female visitors is as much as 29 per cent. This is perhaps a result of Trump s less-than chivalrous treatment of some female journalists7. A study of purple swing states such as Florida and Nevada revealed no easy conclusions, with footfalls up and down on last year. They have seen share loss, but it s more favourable territory for the Trump brand, said Foursquare.

Donald Trump Hotels Golf resorts8

This is not the first evidence of Trump s hotel empire suffering on account of his presidential campaign. After he called for a blanket ban on Muslims entering the US, it was reported that Khlalaf Al Habtoor, a self-made billionaire whose UAE-based conglomerate built Dubai s airport, renounced his backing of Trump9. Lucy Lawless, the actress who played Xena Warrior Princess, said at the same time that she used to stay in Trump hotels but would never again and called for others to join her boycott.

New Data Reveals The Damage Trump's Campaign Has Done To His Hotel EmpireDonald Trump jokes about throwing baby out of rally Play! 00:46

In February this year, Bloomberg10 reported that a variety of Trump s ventures around the world were unsuccessfully weathering a range of storms, from disappointing returns, unhappy business partners, and unpopular branding.

Trump Tower in New York, where the man himself lives, this year became the site of a certain new brand of selfie11 – where visitors would stick their middle finger at the skyscraper.

References

  1. ^ ban on Muslims entering the US (www.discountholidays.info)
  2. ^ his repeated advocacy of violence (mashable.com)
  3. ^ his tax affairs (www.discountholidays.info)
  4. ^ unsettling stance on nuclear weapons (www.discountholidays.info)
  5. ^ McDonald’s all-day breakfast (medium.com)
  6. ^ blogpost (medium.com)
  7. ^ less-than chivalrous treatment of some female journalists (www.discountholidays.info)
  8. ^ Donald Trump Hotels Golf resorts (cf-particle-html.eip.discountholidays.info)
  9. ^ renounced his backing of Trump (www.discountholidays.info)
  10. ^ Bloomberg (skift.com)
  11. ^ the site of a certain new brand of selfie (www.discountholidays.info)

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