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Vermont’s Wood Products Industry Gets a Boost

first_imgThe Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) and the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association (VWMA) teamed up to produce this comprehensive, user-friendly guide for architects, builders and institutional purchasers throughout New England.The Resource Manual gleams with sleek photos of everything from lustrous pine conference tables to graceful maple staircases and contains detailed information for well over 50 Vermont wood products manufacturers. The Resource Manual highlights Vermont wood products manufacturers that sell or are capable of selling to institutional or large volume buyers and has been mailed to over 700 architects, builders, and institutional purchasers throughout New England. It’s also intended to help building professionals source FSC certified products for the growing number of LEED® building projects underway in the region.For Mike Rainville, President of the Board of the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association, This is an opportunity to make builders and designers aware of the breadth of product and skills that exist within the state. The industry is made up of a lot of separate, independent businesses and the Resource Manual helps to show there is something significant here, even if it is tucked away in all corners of the state. In addition, the Resource Manual is a potential foot in the door for wood products producers who may not have supplied institutional purchasers and green builders to date.Rainville hopes the new Resource Manual will lead to other large purchase orders, like the one Lyndon Furniture in Lyndonville secured back in July. Upon learning about the chance to bid on the American Cancer Society’s new Manhattan headquarters, a staff member packed his displays and headed for the Big Apple. Three weeks later, Lyndon Furniture sealed a deal valued at $200,000 to furnish all 60 rooms in the building including the five floor Hope Lodge for cancer patients. The American Cancer Society is striving for the “LEED® Platinum” standard under the U.S. Green Building Council’s rating system for their new building.”Vermont’s forests and forest products sector are important for ecological, cultural and economic reasons,” stated Ed Delhagen, the Deputy Director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF). “Vermont’s forests have largely re-grown after heavy deforestation during the 19th century, but they are still threatened by development and climate change. It’s important for Vermont to retain vital, working forests.” The forest products sector has experienced ups and downs and its fate impacts many communities. According to a report released by the VSJF in 2005, 15 Vermont communities are dependent on forest products businesses.It was in this context that Ed Delhagen, working with the Office of Senator Leahy, created the Cornerstone Project in 2000. Cornerstone worked to harness the purchasing power of Vermont’s major institutions like the University of Vermont, Middlebury College, the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services to buy Vermont-made forest products. The Resource Manual is the culmination of the first round of work of the Cornerstone Project and provides users with quick references for their furniture, architectural millwork, windows/doors, plywood/panels, and lumber needs.According to the federal General Accounting Office, every dollar spent on locally milled timber creates approximately $3.50 of value to local communities. And every $97,000 spent on Vermont wood products creates one full time manufacturing job in the state. According to Delhagen, one of Middlebury Colleges recent projects pumped $3.5 million back into the local economy for the wood products industry alone.The market for green building products and services now exceeds $7 billion per year nationally, offering unprecedented prospects for small, green certified wood producers to flourish. “By acting now, Vermont is capitalizing on the opportunity to become a key supplier of sustainable wood products, all while boosting our economy, preserving our environment and adding jobs in our rural communities,” said Delhagen.Delhagen predicts that FSC certified wood will command a greater share of the wood products market. He points to the fact that there are now more than 24,000 U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® accredited professionals who specialize in green building, and more than 3,000 buildings on their way toward green certification, including the New York’s residential tower known as The Solaire, Goldman Sachs’ new headquarters, and Battery Park billed as the City’s first green neighborhood. The Resource Manual identifies companies that make products using wood certified under the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).The manual itself was printed locally on FSC certified paper at Villanti & Sons Printers, Inc. (Williston). Delhagen says of the Manual, “With the rapidly rising interest in green building and buying local, were helping Vermont wood manufacturers to access new markets, improve their bottom line and add jobs.”The Resource Manual is also available in PDF format at www.vermontwood.com(link is external) or www.vsjf.org(link is external). A jpeg image of the Manual is available by contacting info@vsjf.org(link sends e-mail)last_img read more

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10 Amazing State Parks Worth Visiting This Spring

first_imgHOW TO PLAY: One visit to Grayson Highlands State Park will forever change how you rank Southwest Virginia as an adventure destination. Sandwiched between the quaint communities of Independence and Damascus, Va., this high-elevation park provides front door access to Virginia’s tallest mountains— Mount Rogers and Whitetop. The parkis also home to a resident miniature pony population, which is every bit as magical and endearing as it sounds. NORTH BEND STATE PARKCAIRO, WEST VIRGINIAHOW TO PLAY: Bring the entire family for a bike ride along the North Bend Rail Trail. This 72-mile multiuse trail takes visitors back in time through historic tunnels and railroad hubs from decades past.WHERE TO STAY: Two campgrounds, River Run and Cokeley Campgrounds, offer out-of-towners plenty of chances to rough it with sites starting at $22 per night. For a few modern-day luxuries, the lodge has rooms starting $60 per night during the week.DOUTHAT STATE PARKMILLBORO, VIRGINIAHOW TO PLAY: Loop up the 18.2-mile Douthat IMBA Epic. The park’s 40 miles of singletrack here can be fast and dry or rocky and technical, so pick your poison.WHERE TO STAY: Sites at the park campground start at $26 per night for standard sites. A popular option among groups of riders staying for the weekend is to throw down on a cabin, which requires a minimum two-night stay and starts at $62 per night. HOW TO PLAY: Not quite a “state park,” but close enough, this 4,600-acre interstate park is one of only two interstate parks in the country. Straddling the border between southwestern Virginia and eastern Kentucky, the Breaks is managed by the two states.Its name dates back to the mid-18th century when Daniel Boone scouredthe rugged cliffsides in search of a literal break in the 125-mile Pine Mountain ridgeline. If you’re a whitewater kayaker, the Pound and Russell Fork rivers are a literal wet dream, with regular release weekends and continuous whitewater to t everyone’s skill level. Each fall, paddlers from near and far set up camp at the Breaks to paddle either the upper class II-IV stretches of the Russell Fork or the class IV-V gorge below. In some places, the canyon walls loom over 1,600 feet above the river. Climbers looking for an escape from established crags and weekend crowds elsewhere are now, as of last year, permitted to climb and establish routes at designated areas within the Breaks. Over 25 miles of established hiking and biking trails lead to many of these climbing areas, and if you’re planning on throwing upa route, stop by the Visitor’s Center to learn proper protocol and to pick up a free permit.WHERE TO STAY: The park itself has a beautifully wooded campground with 138 sites, starting at $17 per night. Upgrades include sites with electric and water or, of course, a lakefront cabin or room at The Lodge. CLOUDLAND CANYON STATE PARKRISING FAWN, GEORGIAHOW TO PLAY: Experience the spectacular 1,000-foot gorge on any number of Cloudland’s 30 miles of trails, which are open to hikers and bikers alike.WHERE TO STAY: On a budget? Backcountry campsites in the park are only $8 per night. For a more unique lodging experience, check out one of the yurts starting at $100 per night.AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARKDAWSONVILLE, GEORGIAHOW TO PLAY: Hike to the base of the 729-foot Amicalola Falls, considered the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast, before trekking the 8.5 miles north along the Appalachian Trail to get a taste of thru hiker life.WHERE TO STAY: Campsites at the park start at $40 per night, but for a truly authentic lodging experience, hike to the Len Foote Hike Inn, which requires a ve-mile trek in. Single occupancy rates are $122 per night, but include a family-style dinner and breakfast. BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK, KENTUCKY ASSATEAGUE STATE PARK, MARYLAND HOW TO PLAY: No matter the season, or the sport, Blackwater Falls State Park serves up the ultimate adventure sampler. Elite paddlers will tackle the classic class V Upper Blackwater, which runs regularly throughout the winter and spring months. If white-knuckling down a steep creek in the dead of winter with the potential for serious consequences isn’t for you (we don’t blame you), hikers and mountain bikers can take to the diverse offering of trails in the park, from the Blackwater Canyon rail-trail to the rooty goodness of the Balsam Fir Trail. Everyone should make a point of visiting the six-story falls for which the park is named. Here, the amber-colored waters of the river tumble over 60 feet into the canyon below, and after particularly brutal cold snaps, the falls often freeze over. After a solid snow, the park takes on an ethereal Narnia-like quality. Ski beneath the snow-laden limbs of hemlock and spruce trees on the park’s groomed cross-country ski trails, or grab a sled and take a run down the sledding hill. Year-round cyclists will even nd some good fat biking here and can take a rip on one of Blackwater Bike’s rental rides. WHERE TO STAY: Backpackers will find no shortage of places to set up camp within the park, but for those who are trying to forgo the tent, space at the Thomas Knob Shelter lls up quickly. If you’re in need of a hot shower and some electricity, Grayson Highlands’ campground sites run about $20 per night.BLACKWATER FALLS STATE PARK, WEST VIRGINIA WHERE TO STAY: From $11.75 a night, the Assateague State Park campground situates campers just a stone’s throw away from the beach, which is cordoned off from the campsites by sand dunes. LAUREL RIDGE STATE PARK, PENNSYLVANIA WHERE TO STAY: Stake out camp at the Cumberland Falls campground. Tent sites run about $17 per night while standard campsites start at $22 per night.DUPONT STATE RECREATIONAL FOREST CEDAR MOUNTAIN, NCHOW TO PLAY: Set off on a six-mile hike early. You’ll want plenty of time to take pictures of, and dips in, the six stunning waterfalls you’ll pass along the way, many of which were featured in the hit blockbuster The Hunger Games.WHERE TO STAY: There’s no camping allowed within forest boundaries, but just four miles down the road is Black Forest Family Camping Resort. Basic tent sites run about $31 per night if you bring cash.TABLE ROCK STATE PARKPICKENS, SOUTH CAROLINAHOW TO PLAY: Rent a kayak for $5 per half-hour to oat-and- sh the scenic, 36-acre Lake Pinnacle.WHERE TO STAY: Visitors can stay at the park’s campground for $25 per night or at one of the park’s six primitive trailside sites for $17 per night per site. HOW TO PLAY: Hemmed in by the crystal-blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Sinepuxent Bay to the west, Maryland’s only state park is a quiet alternative for beach lovers. Nine miles south of the tourist bonanza that is Ocean City, Assateague caters to the adventurous tourists who aren’t afraid to work for their fun. Grab a sit-on-top kayak and paddle out past the break from the park’s boat launch facilities. Bring a rod for some saltwater angling, or hop off the boat and dig deep for clams. Paddling the western bayside shore of Assateague gets you up-close and personal with the island’s marsh environment where insular coves and plentiful waterfowl sightings will keep you exploring for hours. The island is biker-friendly, with a four-mile paved bike path running the length of the park, so you can access any part of the beach without the worry of traf c. Sunburns and mosquito bites aside, the only real concern you’ll have on Assateague is having your beach camp raided by feral horses.center_img To properly experience the highlands, you’ll need a few days and a solid pair of hiking boots. Though a small portion of the Appalachian Trail runs through the park, check out the Rhododendron or Wilson Creek trails for the opportunity to gorge on wild blueberries or catch the elusive native brook trout. In addition to hikers and equestrians, boulderers are beginning to take more notice of the park for its plentiful boulder elds. The park has a bouldering guidebook on sale at the Visitor’s Center, and out-of-town climbers can even rent a crash pad for the day. As we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the U.S. national parks this past August, the citizens across the country rekindled their love with our national parks. These acclaimed parks span from the grandiose Zion, to the local Great Smoky Mountains—drawing international visitors year-round. With all of this popularity, it’s easy to overlook the little brother of these national treasures—state parks! The U.S.’s state parks offer some of the best adventures in your state’s backyard. Climbers, hikers, bikers, and thrill-seekers of all kinds can find their niche in the state parks of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Give the little guy a chance and check out some of our favorite state parks. And don’t be fooled by their size, these five parks pack a punch.Stone Mountain State Park, North CarolinaThe massive 600-foot face of a granite dome in Stone Mountain State Park towers over visitors of all walks of life. While this imposing rock keeps an eye out for the park’s many types of visitors—bikers, hikers, fishermen (and women), horseback riders—some adventurers brave the rock’s smooth surface with chalk and carabiners. For those who prefer a bird’s eye view of this expansive Carolinian treasure, make sure to pick up a free climbing permit from the base of the mountain. Experienced climbers can find an unexpected challenge while scaling the face of the granite wall that has helped make this park so popular. For those who prefer to keep two feet on the ground, this park has more than 18 miles of trails, 90 campground sites, and more than 20 miles of designated waters filled with rainbow and brown trout. Natural surface trails such as the Black Jack Ridge Trail, Cedar Rock Trail, and Middle Falls/Lower Falls Trail wind hikers through the rugged terrain filled with diverse wildlife and striking overlooks of the lush, green landscape.Grayson Highlands State Park, VirginiaThe 4,502 acres of the Grayson Highlands State Park in Southwest Virginia will transport visitors to a landscape unlike any other. Rolling hills, the muted colors of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and long, tickling switch grass are reminiscent of the Scottish countryside with a southern twist. Near two of Virginia’s highest peaks—Mount Rodgers and Whitetop Mountain—the views from the highlands are hard to beat. Just off the Appalachian Trail, skilled hikers and day-hikers alike can experience highlands and 5000-foot alpine peaks. As hikers trek over the sweeping hills, they might run into an unexpected new friend. Wild ponies, too, roam these parts. Released by the U.S. Forest Service to control the growth of the meadow brush, they now delight hikers with their tiny legs and big personalities.Jockey’s Ridge State Park, North Carolina Are the mountains not quite your scene? Check out the popular Jockey’s Ridge State Park in the Outer Banks of North Carolina to tickle your adventurous side. Hosting the largest natural sand dune in the eastern U.S., this state park offers the traditional sightseeing and not-so-traditional sand boarding and hang-gliding by permit. This park is one of the premier locations for catching the violently red and pink beach sunsets on top of the ever-changing surfaces of the dunes. Adventurers can check out the south side of the park for the more traditional beach experience with access to sunbathing, swimming, and paddling. After venturing out into the expansive dune field, visitors can hop on the one-mile trail into the grassy dunes and wetland thickets. Jockey’s Ridge State Park’s otherworldly dunes and stunning views reinvent the run-of-the-mill trip to the beach.Hocking Hills State Park, OhioHocking Hills, nestled in the Ohio wilderness, hosts a rugged landscape perfect for hiking, biking, and camping. With six major hiking areas—Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Old Man’s Cave, Rock House, Conkle’s Hollow, and Cedar Falls—this park has varied experiences for all skill levels. Old Man’s Cave, one of the most popular spots in the park, is a breathtaking scene of steep cliffs, flowing waterfalls, and a deep blue swimming hole. Old Man’s Cave is a romantic sanctuary surrounded by a forest bustling with thrill-seekers exploring the sandstone region of Ohio. One of the best ways to explore this park is tearing down one of the two mountain bike trails it has to offer—Purple (2 mi.) and Orange (2 mi.). Both are perfect for intermediate and expert level bikers. The Purple Trail cuts through the primitive camping area that can host individuals, families, and large groups.Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee This 26,000-acre park is Tennessee’s largest and most popular state park. Stretched across the Cumberland Plateau, it’s home to one of the highest falls in the eastern U.S. Beyond sightseers checking out the many roaring waterfalls throughout the park, this Tennessee sanctuary is bustling with boaters, hikers, bikers, bird waters, and anglers. With over 35 miles of hiking in the park, anyone can spend his or her ideal day escaping into this lush Tennessee landscape. Overnight trails such as The Upper Loop (14.0 mi.) or the Lower Loop (13.2 mi.) or the single day Wheeler Farm Loop cater to more experienced hikers looking for a difficult trek on a natural surface trail. There are also winding paved and unpaved bike trails ranging from six to twenty-four miles. Even those wielding binoculars and a bird book can appreciate the chirping soundtrack of the 140 species of birds found in the area. WHERE TO STAY: Hikers can opt for a lightweight setup and ditch the tent on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, as there are eight shelters situated every six to 12 miles along the trail’s 70-mile route. Traditional car campers will want to stake a site at the Laurel Ridge State Park campground, where you can grab a site starting at $17 per night. BEST OF THE RESTMore of our favorite state parks, forests, and recreation areas:COOPERS ROCK STATE FORESTBRUCETON MILLS, WEST VIRGINIAHOW TO PLAY: Rope up on the Sunset Wall and The Big Blocks climbing areas. With over 50 routes ranging from 5.2 through 5.12, these walls afford the out-of-town climber a tantalizing taste of the endless climbing Coopers Rock has to offer. WHERE TO STAY: Open the last weekend of April until October 31, the Blackwater Falls campground is a primo place to post up. Sites start at $22 per night and can be reserved for up to two weeks at a time. WHERE TO STAY: Pitch a tent at the state forest campground for $28 per night. All sites come with electric and WiFi is available. NEW RIVER TRAIL STATE PARKMAX MEADOWS, VIRGINIAHOW TO PLAY: Hike, bike, or ride your horse along this 57-mile linear park. Most of the trail follows the New River as it winds through four southwest Virginian counties and countless historical sites.WHERE TO STAY: You won’t nd any cabins here, but there are four primitive campgrounds you’ll encounter along the way. Rates start at $15 per site.FROZEN HEAD STATE PARKWARTBURG, TENNESSEEHOW TO PLAY: Learn firsthand why competitors in the now notorious Barkley Marathons consider Frozen Head’s terrain some of the steepest, and most beautiful, in the region. Hike the Lookout Tower Trail and climb the re tower for outstanding 360-degree views of the Cumberland Plateau and the Great Smoky Mountains. WHERE TO STAY: Reserve early for one of Frozen Head’s 10 backcountry tent sites along the park’s 50+-mile trail system. Not into backpacking but still want a primitive camping feel? There are two campgrounds here, Flat Fork and Big Cove, offering sites ranging from $13.75-$24 per site, per night.PINE MOUNTAIN STATE RESORT PARKPINEVILLE, KENTUCKYHOW TO PLAY: Hike all 12 miles of trails within the park to exotic points of interest like Chained Rock, Hemlock Garden, and Honeymoon Falls.WHERE TO STAY: Two double bed rooms at the lodge start at $53.96 per night.CUMBERLAND FALLS STATE RESORT PARK CORBIN, KENTUCKYHOW TO PLAY: Take a trek to the 125-foot-wide curtain of water for which this state park was named. If the skies are clear, and a full moon is out, consider hiking at night to catch a glimpse of the moonbow, or lunar rainbow, which appears at the base of the falls. GRAYSON HIGHLANDS STATE PARK, VIRGINIA HOW TO PLAY: Be it the subtle shades of pink and white from blooming mountain laurel or the vibrant squash oranges and yellows of peaking fall foliage, this southwestern Pennsylvania jewel of a park is stunning in every season. Its backbone and namesake, the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, traces the Laurel Mountain ridgeline for 70 miles from the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle to the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown. Though backpacking and day hiking are the most popular adventures in the park, there are a number of sections of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail that, given the right amount of snow, are navigable by cross-country ski. Additionally, the park operates a cross-country ski touring concession where visitors can rent skis, take ski lessons, and skate on over 18 miles of groomed trails. Not a skier? Rent a pair of snowshoes for the day! Snowshoeing is a rewarding way to take to the trails, but some coordination is required.last_img read more

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Credit unions have become the dog with two masters

first_imgWith the 2015 World Credit Union Conference behind us there are some very definite themes emerging: Millennials, Disruptors, Regulatory Burden and Stories.Millennials are everywhere. They are the demographic-du-jour.  During the Breakout Session “At the Intersection between Millennial & Credit Unions: Lessons Learned on Global Scale, we heard them compared to the post-depression/WWII era generation (many Millennials great-grandparents). Both generations had major world events during their formative years causing them uncertainty; war, financial crisis and a massive evolution in technology. The effect on their great-grandparents was to make them savers when they were able. Millennials care very much, they just want to care in the most convenient way possible?Disruption is all around us, lurking, just waiting to leap out and be the next big thing. A great example of a disruptor is Uber in the world of taxis. Disrupters are innovative and they have their market research down pat. Not surprisingly, their focus is on Millennials. But credit unions can be disruptors. We don’t have to sit in wait for the next big scary disruptor. Moving from being reactive (member asks for a service) to proactive (asking for the business) was important but the next level must be achieved, pre-emptive (e.g. pre-screened lending). Empower the consumer.Regulatory burden is seemingly ever increasing. Credit unions have become the dog with two masters; trying to please the regulators while meeting the needs of the membership. The majority of regulation is based on how banks operate. In many cases they aren’t designed for the unique design of the credit union.But the answer to all is in the story. The World Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) session on Sunday heard from Paul Smith, author of Lead with a Story. Paul spoke of the effectiveness of a good and representative story to get a point across as a leader. He also spoke about the ineffectiveness of hammering out statistics, graphs and PowerPoints. A good story begins with the context, setting the scene for the story, followed by the action, tells how the hero battled the problem and ending with the result, how it all ended. Stories appeal to human emotion. Credit Unions have stories!Millennials care a lot. They expect convenience but if convenience is met, the Credit Union story will breed the caring. Disruptors are unavoidable. But Credit Unions have access to the type data that disruptors dream of. Being aware of the members’ story opens the possibility of being pre-emptive. If the need is met already, the disruptor doesn’t have a chance. The regulators need the Credit Union story too. Persistently and effectively telling the stories of the Credit Union will result in awareness and, assuming the story was crafted well, an emotional understanding of the difference. Credit Unions are different and the power is in the story. 37SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Robin Blythe Robin is an Account Manager, Commercial & Agriculture Relationships/Coach with Libro Credit Union in Southwestern Ontario. She was a 2014 WYCUP Scholarship recipient who passionately believes that Credit Unions … Web: www.libro.ca Detailslast_img read more

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ETC quarterly report on tourism indicators for 2019 published

first_imgThe “tourist years” have become a more prominent feature of bilateral relations between countries in recent years, and more significant efforts have been made to build partnerships with emerging markets. The “tourist years” have a valuable purpose – to stimulate the growth of connections between countries and help destinations to expand their attractiveness to other markets. As the success of the “EU-China Tourism Year 2018” has shown, such partnerships can act as a catalyst for faster growth of distant tourism and emerging markets. Among key distant markets, the United States and China continue to stand out for their contribution to European tourism with shares of 11 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Chinese travelers performed mainly in southern and Mediterranean destinations such as Montenegro (+ 150 percent), Cyprus (+ 62 percent) and Croatia (+ 44 percent). Another fast-growing destination in terms of Chinese tourist arrivals was Lithuania (+ 77 percent). Interestingly, despite a possible slowdown in the U.S. economy, Greece (+ 47 percent), Turkey (+ 37 percent) and Cyprus (+ 33 percent) recorded the most significant increases in the number of U.S. tourist arrivals at the beginning of the year. Source: European Travel Commission The latest quarterly report of the European Commission for Travel (ETC) entitled “European tourism – trends and perspectives in 2019” predicts that the demand for tourism in Europe will continue to grow during 2019. The growth rate of tourist trips is expected to be 3,6 percent, which coincides with the average arrivals in the period from 2008 to 2018. But looking at the 2018 figures (6,1 percent), the rate is still slightly lower. International arrivals and overnight stays of selected destinations You can find the full report HERE.center_img “It is clear to us that maintaining growth in 2019 will be much more challenging than in 2018. Europe needs to harmonize its market mix, identify lagging segments and further expand its understanding of pan-European product development. Through the promotion of transnational experiences, ETC seeks to increase the visibility of available products and create awareness of the diversity of the region. An important factor for achieving sustainable growth of European tourism are public-private partnerships focused on common and achievable goals.Said Eduardo Santander, CEO of ETC. In the period between January and May 2019, Croatia has generally noted increase from 2,6 percent in international arrivals, but also noted and a 5 percent drop in the nights of international tourists. Globally, Europe outperformed all other regions in the first four months, achieving an increase of 7 percent in revenue per passenger-kilometer (RPK) compared to last year. The increase was recorded despite the pressure of increased demand and limited air traffic control capacities, which caused an increase in the number of flight delays and cancellations, which in 2018 cost the European economy 17,6 billion euros. The Balkan region was the most successful in terms of the increase in tourist arrivals, with the best results being achieved by Montenegro (an increase of 50 percent) and Slovenia and Greece (an increase of 8 percent each). In this way, the mentioned countries showed the advantages of the extended season and marketing investments. Montenegro has benefited from improved air transport accessibility and several promotional activities carried out by national tourism authorities. As far as Slovenia is concerned, the recent victory of Ljubljana and the second place of Bled at ITB Berlin (the largest tourist fair in the world) indicates the state’s efforts in attracting tourists. On the other hand, Iceland (- 11 percent), Romania (- 7 percent) and Estonia (- 2 percent) reported a decrease in the number of tourist arrivals until April. In the case of Iceland, the recent collapse of low-cost airline WOW Air will further worsen tourism indicators, while the decline in Estonia can be explained by lower arrivals of Russian tourists whose rate fell by 8,7 percent over the same period last year.last_img read more

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‘All we have left is to hope and pray’: Travellers stranded in airport by coronavirus

first_imgTopics : Malaysia has banned foreigners from entering since March 18.”They said ‘you’re going to have to stay here’. We thought maybe they are not being serious, in the beginning,” Azure told Reuters via WhatsApp.Azure said people from Vietnam, Pakistan, and the Philippines were stranded alongside her. Airline staff bring them three meals a day of rice or noodles, and some water. They sleep on makeshift beds fashioned from cardboard and fabric.Azure, who has lived in Thailand for the past seven years and runs a hostel on Koh Tao island, said she cannot afford to buy a $3,000 ticket to Russia, where she has no friends or family. Russian hostel manager Valerie Azure has spent the past three nights sleeping on the floor of a Malaysian airport along with her young son, after Southeast Asian nations sealed borders and cancelled flights in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.Azure, 31, said more than a dozen people were stranded with her in the international airport in Kuala Lumpur, among hundreds marooned across the globe, according to media reports, as the virus plays havoc with travel plans.After several weeks volunteering in a community center for Afghan refugees in Malaysia, Azure said she and her nine-year-old son boarded an AirAsia flight for Thailand on Monday but were sent back after officials asked for blood tests proving they were free of the virus.center_img They were planning to stay until the end of Malaysia’s ban on foreign entries, on March 31, but it has since been extended until April 14. The Russian embassy told her they may be taken to an immigration detention center, she said.Taken care of A Malaysian airport spokeswoman said AirAsia had informed them Azure was working with her embassy to find a solution.”Please be rest assured that AirAsia is taking good care of their welfare and providing them sufficient meals during this difficult period,” she said.AirAsia did not return a request for comment by Reuters.Immigration department director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud said in a text message they were looking into the case.Azure said her son had been despondent since security officials confiscated his only toy, a ball.”They said ‘This is an airport and not a playground’. It was his only entertainment… Now he’s just sitting there, I’m trying to keep him busy, to play games.”She worries about them falling sick in the airport.”I don’t know how safe it is… All we have left is just to hope and pray.” last_img read more

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EC should spur demand for long-term investment, says Finland’s TELA

first_imgThe European Commission should be finding ways to stimulate demand for long-term investments rather than simply remove barriers to long-term investment by pension funds, according to Finnish pension fund alliance TELA. Reacting to the recent publication of the IORP II Directive, Ilkka Geitlin, legal counsel at the association, said: “I find it disturbing that the Commission is publishing and preparing multiple initiatives to encourage long-term funding and investments, [yet] little or no attention has been paid to analyse or collect data on possible demand.” TELA represents providers of Finland’s statutory earnings-related pension insurance. Publishing the revised European prudential framework for pension funds last week, internal market commissioner Michel Barnier said the proposals would further develop occupational pension funds as key long-term investors.  The commission said the new framework would try to do away with national investment rules seen as a barrier to financing growth in the real economy. It said it would make sure occupational pension funds remained free to invest in infrastructure and unrated loans, making sure long-term investments were not restricted if that restriction was not justified on prudential grounds. “When looking at the amount of institutional, HNWI and savings assets in Europe, lack of funds is not a concern in the EU area but lack of demand and lack of targeted incentives to engage in long term projects,” Geitlin said. As an example of how governments could stimulate such demand, he cited a temporary subsidy on the interest costs of project financing that was put in place by the Finnish government in 2009.  This measure was highly effective because it targeted for right demand, Geitlin said. “Thus, the commission should consider, for example, funds covering a proportion of loan collateral or guarantees for SME bank loans,” he said.  On the infrastructure side, there would be considerable demand over the next 10 years or more for renovation projects on communal and housing infrastructure in Europe, much of which was built in the 1950s and 1960s, he said. “However, these type of issues have not been mentioned in any commission papers,” he said.  “In another words, the Commission should concentrate on looking out of the window.”last_img read more

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Dutch regulator criticises optimism of ABP’s recovery plan

first_imgDe Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), the Dutch pensions regulator, has criticised ABP’s recovery plan for assuming that the €356bn scheme’s equity holdings will produce a 7% annual return in the coming years. According to a memorandum prepared by ABP’s board, the watchdog also pointed out that the civil servant scheme’s premium would contribute little to its recovery.Within the memo, ABP’s board states that the margin for a premium reduction would be minimal next year, due to “several setbacks”.The reduction will be needed to finance an increase in salaries for government workers. ABP’s memo also reveals that the regulator, despite approving the pension fund’s recovery plan last summer, warned the scheme that the gap between its actual funding and required funding was the largest of all the 150 schemes with recovery plans.The regulator pointed out that ABP had estimated it would need more than eight years to increase its coverage ratio from 97.1% to the required 128%.The average recovery target of the other schemes is 6.5 years.DNB chastised ABP for factoring in the maximum estimates allowed for equities (7%) and real estate (6%) and noted that the contribution of ABP’s premium to its projected recovery was the lowest of all surveyed schemes.ABP’s ‘premium funding’ – which reflects the extent to which contributions drive new accrual – has dropped from 80% to approximately 67% as a consequence of the scheme’s switch from the consumer index to the salary index for inflation compensation, as well as its abolishment of premium levies.Within the memo, the pension fund conceded that its contribution was low relative to its pensions accrual.ABP’s board also lamented that last summer’s reduction of the ultimate forward rate – part of the discount mechanism for liabilities – had cut funding immediately by 1.9 percentage points. Based on current interest rates, it added, funding is expected fall by another 2.8 percentage points over the next 10 years.ABP’s board said the low-interest-rate environment stood to prolong its recovery period by nearly six years and would require it to increase its contribution by 0.8%.last_img read more

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Investors up dissent over Swiss corporate governance, pay

first_imgThe average approval rate was still high – 95.4% in 2017 versus 96.3% in 2016 – but 27 resolutions were rejected at annual general meetings.Regarding remuneration reports for boards and executive management, 21% of advisory votes were supported by less than 80% of shareholders, up from 16% in 2016, Ethos said.The average opposition to a remuneration report stood at 13.3% in 2017, up from 11% last year.The rise in shareholder opposition came as average pay remained “more or less constant”, but varied across sectors, according to Ethos.However, average executive pay at financial companies among the 100 largest Swiss listed companies increased by 4%, despite profits decreasing by 16%.“When voting on remuneration issues, this translates into a higher level of opposition at financial companies than in other sectors,” Ethos said.At asset manager GAM, shareholders rejected the report on pay for 2016 (54% voted against, 28% abstained) and the proposals for performance-related pay for executive management for 2017 (65% against, 28% abstained).At Credit Suisse, meanwhile, shareholder pressure led to the executive management voluntarily cutting its bonus by 40%, Ethos noted.Having a retrospective vote on the 2016 bonus was key to this, it added.In Switzerland, a 2013 referendum on the so-called Minder initiative on executive pay led to considerable changes to corporate law and corporate governance, such as a requirement for companies to hold an annual, binding vote on executive compensation.However, there is some flexibility as to how they have to do this. For example, they can choose to have variable pay approved by shareholders retrospectively or prospectively. In 2017, according to Ethos’ report, the majority of companies opted for a vote on prospective pay, while 23% held a vote on pay proposed for the year gone by.The Swiss parliament has begun debating a draft revision of company law put forward by the federal government. Ethos has called for the reintroduction of a ban on prospective votes on variable pay, which was included in a preliminary draft of the law but later removed.Ethos said the revision to the law was aimed at adapting it to changes in market practice, in particular since the implementation of the Minder initiative.Last week, the UK’s asset management trade body reported that shareholders in FTSE250 companies had rebelled against pay packages more often in the 2017 AGM season than the year before. Shareholders of listed Swiss companies stepped up their opposition to resolutions at this year’s general meetings, in particular in relation to remuneration, according to Ethos, a Swiss pension fund-owned proxy voting foundation. Publishing its annual report on Swiss corporate governance, it said 14% of resolutions received less than 90% support from shareholders, up from 12% last year.There was also an increase in resolutions that received less than 80% support. In 2016 this was 4%, and in 2017 it was 7%.The figures are for the 200 companies in Switzerland’s main stock market index, SPI.last_img read more

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Revealed: The biggest home sales in southeast Queensland in 2019

first_imgVendor: Mitchell Services founder Peter MitchellNew owner: Interstate buyerSale price: $10.3 millionSold: December 2019This beachfront double block on ‘Millionaires’ Row’ at Mermaid Beach has sold. Photo: Supplied.A beachfront double block on the Gold Coast’s so-called ‘millionaires’ row’ was a late addition to the list for 2019 — fetching a whopping $10.3 million earlier this month.Drilling business veteran Peter Mitchell sold the neighbouring properties for almost double the price he paid.Property records show Mr Mitchell paid $200,000 for No. 67 in 1981 and $5 million for No. 69 in 2005.The land parcel, comprising 810 sqm, was one of the last remaining double blocks on the beachfront at Mermaid Beach.It was offered for sale for the first time in nearly 40 years by the drilling tycoon.Mr Mitchell also owns a mansion in the same street, which he bought for $17 million in 2009.The front of the home on the block at 67 Hedges Ave, Mermaid Beach.Surrounded by luxurious homes, the development site with 20m beach frontage was originally advertised for $10.5 million through marketing agent Tony Velissariou.Two houses are currently on the block, but will likely be demolished to make way for the new owner’s dream home.The front of the home on the block at 69 Hedges Ave, Mermaid Beach.4. 6/55 HASTINGS ST, NOOSA HEADS Vendor: Tony Burnett and Toni FergusonNew owner: Richlister and former Darrell Lea owner Tony QuinnSale price: $7.975 millionSold: March 2019This waterfront home owned by pub prince Tony Burnett sold for $7.975m. Picture: Realestate.com.auThe man who brought Darrell Lea back from the brink got his chequebook out earlier this year to buy a waterfront, five-bedder on the Gold Coast for nearly $8 million.Tony Quinn splashed some of his candy shop cash on the mansion at 22 Admiralty Drive, where there is plenty of room for his collection of Aston Martin cars in the six-car garage.The lavish home also features a soundproofed cinema, 12m indoor pool, 24m serviced pontoon, library, boathouse, games room, entertaining terrace and two decks.Tony Quinn at the Darrell Lea factory when he bought the business.Kollosche director Michael Kollosche negotiated the sale of the home, which was formerly owned by pub prince Tony Burnett, whose TB’s Hotels business owns a number of pubs across Queensland.The house was originally built for the Matsushita family of the Panasonic Electronics empire.Mr Quinn and his estranged wife, Christina, bought the collapsed confectionary manufacturer eight years ago and sold the business to private equity for about $200 million last year.The view from the property at 22 Admiralty Dr, Paradise Waters.10. 39 GRIFFITH ST, NEW FARM Vendor: Pamela RoseNew owner: UndisclosedSale price: $9 million-plus, pending settlementSold: November 2019An apartment in this complex at 55 Hastings St, Noosa Heads, has sold.The highest price ever paid for an apartment in Noosa was achieved when a beachfront unit sold in November.The property at 6/55 Hastings Street, which was sold by Tom Offermann Real Estate, was listed with a price guide of $11 million and is understood to have sold for more than $9 million in a cash unconditional deal.The three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment is literally footsteps from Noosa’s glamorous Main Beach and is the size of a penthouse at 250 sqm.This apartment at 6/55 Hastings St, Noosa Heads, has sold for more than $9m. 5. 95-99 MCCONNELL ST, BULIMBA Vendor: Brisbane lawyer Bill BoydNew owner: UndisclosedSale price: $8.4 millionSold: September 2019 Place Estate Agents managing director Sarah Hackett at the property at 95-99 McConnell St, Bulimba. Photographer: Liam Kidston.Brisbane achieved a new residential auction price record in September, with the sale of a stunning riverfront property for $8.4 million representing the highest price ever paid for a home under the hammer in the city.Two local buyers battled it out for the five-bedroom European-style mansion at 95-99 McConnell Street, which was owned by local lawyer, Bill Boyd.Place Bulimba agent Sarah Hackett, who marketed the showstopping residence, said there were three registered bidders at the auction, but ultimately it was a “two horse race”.This property was sold under the hammer for a Brisbane residential auction record.The property consists of a 1473 sqm north-facing, riverfront block over two titles, and a 32m river frontage.Other features include a media room, a lounge room with a corner bar and commercial bar fridge, a concealed wine cellar, and two deep-water mooring pontoons.The view from one of the balconies on the house at 95-99 McConnell St, Bulimba. Photo supplied.6. 2/23 HASTINGS ST, NOOSA HEADS This penthouse at 3533 Main Beach Pde, Main Beach, was one of the biggest sales of 2019.FROM dream homes in glamorous locations to prime development sites owned by multi-millionaires — these are the most expensive homes sold in southeast Queensland in 2019.Despite a tumultuous year for the housing market, plagued by the fallout from the banking Royal Commission and APRA’s tightening of lending guidelines, southeast Queensland’s prestige property market racked up some impressive home sales.Using data from Realestate.com.au, CoreLogic and industry sources, The Courier-Mail has compiled a list of the top 20 reported home sales in 2019.The biggest residential home sale in the southeast was the offmarket transaction of a riverfront property in Tennyson with a high profile owner. Vendor: Michael KazacosNew owner: UndisclosedSale price: $8.1 millionSold: August 2019This mansion at 60 Sophie Ave, Broadbeach Waters, sold for $8.1m.A waterfront mega-mansion known as The Palms in Broadbeach Waters sold in August after languishing on the market for more than 500 days.Kollosche director Michael Kollosche and agent Ryan Ward sold the sprawling property to a family within days of taking over the listing.Property records show it had previously been on the market with another agency and had an $8.95 million asking price.The palatial home at 60 Sophie Ave, Broadbeach Waters, has five bedrooms and six bathrooms.The palatial home has five bedrooms and six bathrooms spread over three levels.Standout features include an Art Deco-inspired theatre with starlit ceiling, wine cellar, internal lift, eight-car underground garage and multiple terraces and balconies overlooking the manicured gardens, pool and Nerang River.It was built by Dr Michael Kazacos over two years from 2008, but he has lived on the property since 1988, previously in another house that was built by a friend of his.A house owned by Dr Michael Kazacos sold in a big deal this year. Picture: Mark Cranitch.9. 22 ADMIRALTY DR, PARADISE WATERS Vendor: Xin ChenNew owner: Ka Yee ChoiSale price: $11 millionSold: September 2019This property at 37-39 Brittanic Cres, Sovereign Islands, was one of the biggest sales in Queensland in 2019.A Sovereign Islands mansion sold for a whopping $11 million in September, making it the highest residential sale on the Gold Coast this year.The sprawling residence at 37-39 Brittanic Crescent is in the affluent gated community within Paradise Point.The deal was inked before the property even had a chance to hit the market.Inside the mansion at 37-39 Brittanic Cres, Sovereign Islands.Amir Prestige Property Agents’ Ivy Wu, who handled the sale with Isaac Kim, knew the buyers and that they would be interested in the property so she approached them before it was listed.The residence is the epitome of opulence with soaring ceilings, feature lighting and luxury detailed finishes throughout.It has six bedrooms and eight bathrooms while a ‘Gold Lounge’ cinema room, wet bar and outdoor entertainment pavilion with pool are among its highlights.This Sovereign Islands’ mansion sold for $11m in 2019.3. 67 & 69 HEDGES AVE, MERMAID BEACH Vendor: Karl Morris, Brisbane Broncos chairmanNew owner: Canstuct International CEO Rory MurphySale price: About $17m, pending settlementSold: October 2019Brisbane Broncos chairman Karl Morris sold his waterfront mansion in the biggest residential sale of 2019 in Queensland. Image: AAP/Glenn Hunt.The riverfront mansion owned by the chairman of the Brisbane Broncos sold to another high-profile chief executive in October.It’s understood Canstruct International CEO Rory Murphy paid about $17 million for the property at 1 King Arthur Tce, Tennyson.Canstruct International, a construction and services company operated out of nearby Yeerongpilly, was awarded the lucrative contract by the Federal Government to run the immigration detention centre on Nauru.Rory Murphy, CEO of Canstruct International, has reportedly bought a home at 1 King Arthur Tce, Tennyson..The house sits on a whopping 4224sq m and has seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, garaging for six vehicles, a pool and a championship-size tennis court.It also boasts possibly Brisbane’s biggest private pontoon at 50m, plus 98m of river frontage and unobstructed northern views up the Brisbane River to the Walter Taylor Bridge.The property has just one neighbour, and is otherwise flanked by bushland, the ­Brisbane River and Oxley Creek, with parkland and golf course views.The property at 1 King Arthur Tce, Tennyson.Karl Morris and his wife, Louise, bought the property in 2008 for $6.8 million, public records show.They then tore down the original home, rebuilding a Bayden Goddard-designed, Tuscan-style home in its place in 2010.It was bought from former rich-lister and entrepreneur Ross Palmer, who had previously purchased the property from former mining executive Ian Howard-Smith and his wife Margaret in 1997.This property at 1 King Arthur Terrace, Tennyson, has sold for about $17 million.While the exact purchase price is yet to be disclosed, the off-market sale represents the second-highest residential sale ever in Brisbane.The deal settles this month.It comes close to being the most expensive home ever sold in the city, but that title is still held by the clifftop mansion at 1 Leopard St, Kangaroo Point, which recently came back on the market.It sold for $18.48 million in 2017. Vendor: Louis ZenonosNew owner: Gregory and Wendy RixSale price: $8.25 millionSold: February 2019The Penthouse at 3533 Main Beach Pde, Main Beach.The skyhome topping Main Beach’s boutique ‘Sea’ building sold for $8.25 million earlier this year to Gold Coast developer Greg Rix.Designed by acclaimed Gold Coast architect Bayden Goddard, the two-storey residence has four bedrooms and four bathrooms, plus a powder room.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus10 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market10 hours agoGreg Rix on site at Pimpama City Shopping Centre, which his company built and owns. Photo: Richard Gosling.Marble, limestone, travertine, timber and stone are featured throughout, while floor-to-ceiling windows frame uninterrupted ocean views.Former owner Louis Zenonos developed the eight-storey building on Main Beach Parade.He moved into the skyhome not long after construction.Kollosche director Michael Kollosche negotiated the sale.The view from the apartment at 7/3533 Main Beach Pde, Main Beach.8. 60 SOPHIE AVE, BROADBEACH WATERS 1. 1 KING ARTHUR TCE, TENNYSON Vendor: Nicole Marie Pty LtdNew owner: LL Group Investment Pty LtdSale price $8.25 millionSold: July 2019This apartment at 2/23 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads, sold for $8.25m.Another absolute beachfront apartment on Noosa’s popular Hastings Street was one of the biggest sales of 2019.The unit at 2/23 Hastings Street has multi-million dollar views to go with its $8.25 million sale price.Tom Offermann Real Estate also negotiated the sale of this apartment, which occupies an entire floor, spanning 227 sq m, with luxurious appointments, three bedrooms and three bathrooms.Noosa experienced Queensland’s highest price growth in the past year, with the median house price sitting at $730,000, according to CoreLogic.The view from the unit at 2/23 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads.7. 7/3533 MAIN BEACH PDE, MAIN BEACH 2. 37-39 BRITTANIC CRES, SOVEREIGN ISLANDS Vendor: Allan and Glenice MeinNew owner: Ben SeymourSale price: $7.75 millionSold: March 2019Ben Seymour and Kevin Seymour at 39 Griffith St, New Farm. Image: AAP/Attila Csaszar.When a multi-level home on the Brisbane River sold under the hammer in March for $7.75 million, it made headlines for breaking the Brisbane auction record.But that was later eclipsed by the sale of 95-99 McConnell Street, Bulimba.The New Farm property at 39 Griffith Street was bought by Ben Seymour, the grandson of Queensland rich-lister and developer Kevin Seymour.This property at 39 Griffith St, New Farm, sold for $7.75m earlier this year.The Seymour Group has since constructed a luxury development on the site called The Oxlade, in which one of the penthouses sold for $7 million this year — just missing out on making the top 10 list.Marketing agent and Ray White New Farm principal Matt Lancashire said it was a “great sale for Brisbane and the prestige market and a good sign of things to come”.Eight bidders registered for the auction, with four actively bidding.Ther view from the property at 39 Griffith St, New Farm.The property’s medium density zoning attracted homeowners, investors and developers from Melbourne, the Gold Coast, and Brisbane including the neighbouring Gambaro family.Developers, Allan and Glenice Mein, raised their children and eight grandchildren at 39 Griffith St, with two families living with them at one time.last_img read more

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Maine Aqua Ventus Abandons Port Clyde Landfall Option

first_imgM/V Shearwater, the vessel which was scheduled to carry out the Port Clyde cable route survey. Image source: Alpine OceanThe consortium behind the Maine Aqua Ventus demonstration project has reportedly decided to stop investigating the Port Clyde route as one of the preferred for the transmission link to the mainland. According to the local media, Maine Aqua Ventus has given up on this route due to concerns raised by local fishermen, who would be banned from operating in the route area. In early November, the project team had scheduled a subsea geophysical survey of the cable route between Port Clyde and the project site, only to announce the survey was postponed to January 2018 shortly after, as a response to feedback received from the Zone D fishing community and the Maine Department of Marine Resources.The following month, Maine Aqua Ventus notified the fishermen and other stakeholders that the subsea cable geophysical survey was delayed until February-March. “The additional time allows us to identify cable routes where the cable can be buried so that you can continue fishing over it, just like the undersea cable to Cutler. We are working with state and federal agencies to ensure that all fishing, both fixed and mobile, can continue unaffected once the buried cable is installed,” the project’s notice reads.In response to a petition to ban subsea cables in Port Clyde issued in October 2017, Maine Aqua Ventus said that the offshore cable for the project was proposed in an existing, charted route, where existing active cables serve the islands off Port Clyde, and that locating the project’s transmission link in the existing cable way ​minimised impact on local fishermen. The project team had also proposed burying the cable as much as possible and using existing transmission infrastructure to minimise visual impact.However, according to the latest news from the local media, fishermen using mobile gear are allowed to operate in the charted cable way since the cable is inactive and they would have been otherwise prohibited from fishing there. If the offshore wind project would had gone ahead with adding its cable, the Maine Department of Marine Resources would have had to restrict fishing in the route area.The project team had identified eleven other cable routes and will start investigating two most favourable of those in March 2018.Meanwhile, Maine Aqua Ventus is waiting for an approval of its power purchase contract with Central Maine Power Company from Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which recently decided to delay making a final decision and to obtain more public comment, due to changes in the energy market since 2014, when the initial terms were approved. After the PUC’s decision, Project Counsel for Maine Aqua Ventus said that the project developers will work with the PUC and Central Maine Power Co. on a new proposal for the power contract.last_img read more

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