first_imgRegulations May Preclude Borrowers with Lower Credit Scores Share May 10, 2013 448 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Federal Reserve Home Sales Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing QRM Regulation Service Providers Underwriting Standards Unemployment 2013-05-10 Krista Franks Brockcenter_img As the housing market experiences a burgeoning recovery with rising prices, an uptick in sales, and an increase in housing starts, “”Federal Reserve””: Governor Elizabeth A. Duke points out purchase-originations remain “”subdued,”” especially among individuals with less than stellar credit scores. [IMAGE] While originations are down across the board, “”[t]he drop in originations has been most pronounced among borrowers with lower credit scores,”” Duke said at the Housing Policy Executive Council Thursday in Washington D.C. From 2007 to 2012, purchase originations among borrowers with credit scores higher than 780 declined by 30 percent. In contrast, purchase originations for borrowers with credit scores between 620 and 680 declined by 90 percent, and originations among borrowers with credit scores below 620 were “”virtually nonexistent,”” according to Duke. Duke reasoned some lower-credit score households may not be seeking mortgages as they may have “”suffered disproportionately from the sharp rise in unemployment during the recession.”” However, she also points to tight credit conditions as a major contributor to the drastic decline in originations for borrowers with lower credit scores. [COLUMN_BREAK]A few conditions leading to tighter lending standards–capacity constraints and apprehension toward the future of the economy and the housing market–“”are likely to unwind through normal cyclical forces,”” according to Duke. Other sources of tight credit may persist or have less predictable outcomes, according to Duke. Many of these sources stem from regulatory changes in the industry. “”New mortgage regulations will provide important protections to borrowers but may also lead to a permanent increase in the cost of originating loans to borrowers with lower credit scores,”” Duke said. For example, servicing standards are now more stringent, especially for defaulting loans, but servicer compensation remains the same. Servicing a delinquent loan is more costly, more time-consuming, and earns a servicer no additional compensation. As such, banks may continue to shy away from loans that demonstrate any likelihood of default, Duke said. Additionally, the qualified mortgage (QM) rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could deter lenders from making loans to borrowers with lower credit scores, according to Duke. A QM requires a borrower’s total debts to equal less than 43 percent of his or her income, which will exclude some “”less-advantaged borrowers,”” Duke said. The QM also restricts the amount and method through which servicers may charge risky borrowers. If a borrower has a greater likelihood of default, a lender may wish charge a higher interest rate to compensate for the risk. The QM does not allow servicers to charge more than 150 basis points more to any one borrower than what they charge their highest-quality borrowers. In order to fall under the QM, a mortgage also cannot have points or fees exceeding 3 percent of the loan amount. “”The extent to which these rules regarding rates, points, and fees will damp lender willingness to originate mortgages to borrowers with lower credit scores is still unclear,”” Duke said. in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicinglast_img read more

first_img “”Mortgage Returns””:, a St. Louis-based provider of marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions for the mortgage industry, announced the launch of its Business Analysis Reports, an in-depth report offering information on production statistics, marketing return on investment (ROI), customer retention, and loan officer performance.[IMAGE][COLUMN_BREAK]Using the Business Analysis Reports, lenders can compare their marketing performance to that of their peers, enable sales managers to evaluate branch performance, grant marketing departments the ability to track ROI, and allow loan officers to review marketing activities and results to gauge the effectiveness of their current marketing plans.””The Business Analysis Reports enable lenders’ marketing departments to know precisely where they stand compared to their competitors and how they can optimize their marketing to deliver maximum ROI,”” said Jim Blatt, president and CEO of Mortgage Returns. “”This tool helps identify the marketing gaps many mortgage lenders are coping with when using incomplete CRM systems by empowering them to deliver measurable results, even as overall production numbers decline.””The reports are part of the company’s TRUE CRM concept, an educational initiative created to inform lenders on CRM solutions and the results they can achieve. The TRUE CRM checklist can be used by originators to quickly evaluate whether or not they are using a complete or incomplete CRM. in Origination, Technology Share Mortgage Returns Launches Analysis Reports for Marketingcenter_img September 20, 2013 487 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Service Providers 2013-09-20 Tory Barringerlast_img read more

first_imgNew Bill Proposed by Texas Lawmakers to Completely Eliminate the CFPB Share in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News John RatcliffeTed CruzVarious legislation has been introduced by Republicans in an attempt to reduce the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in the last year, but there has not been any law proposed to completely eliminate the Bureau – until now.During a week in which the Bureau celebrates the fourth anniversary of its creation, U.S. Representative John Ratcliffe and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, both Republicans from Texas, have combined to sponsor a bill that would completely abolish the CFPB, according to announcements on both lawmakers’ websites.Republicans believe the CFPB, which was created from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, has had the opposite effect of its intended purpose of protecting consumers from predatory financial activity; rather, they believe the Bureau has made big banks bigger and limits options for consumers.”Don’t let the name fool you, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau does little to protect consumers,” said Cruz, who is a GOP candidate for the presidency in 2016. “The agency continues to grow in power and magnitude without any accountability to Congress and the people. The only way to stop this runaway agency is by eliminating it altogether. The legislation that Representative Ratcliffe and I are introducing today gives Congress the opportunity to free consumers and small businesses from the CFPB’s regulatory blockades and financial activism, which stunt economic growth. While there’s much more to do to scale back the harmful regulatory impositions of Dodd-Frank, this legislation takes a critical step in the right direction. So today let’s celebrate the CFPB’s fourth and final anniversary.”Republicans believe that Bureau is unaccountable to the American people because unlike most federal agencies, the CFPB is not subject to Congressional appropriations despite being funded by the Federal Reserve. Cruz and Ratcliffe believe this situation “invites regulatory excess and abuse.”Ratcliffe said he hears from small businesses in the fourth district of Texas, which includes the northeastern most part of the state, who say they can no longer provide their customers with basic financial services because of the increased compliance costs and paperwork hours imposed by the CFPB. He said many businesses are faced with the choice of closing their doors or consolidating into larger businesses due to the increasing cost of compliance.“The CFPB’s regulatory zeal has stripped American consumers and businesses of their freedom of choice and has limited their access to capital – all in the name of a ‘we know best’ attitude from Washington,” Ratcliffe said. “. . .I’m grateful to be able to introduce this bill with 46 of my House colleagues in conjunction with Senator Cruz. The CFPB represents exactly what President Reagan warned of – a government smothering opportunity rather than fostering it. We must eliminate the CFPB.”The GOP has made an extra push for CFPB reform since gaining a majority in the House and Senate last November. In March, Representative Sean Duffy (R-Wisconsin) introduced a series of proposals to reform the CFPB, including one co-sponsored by Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) that would replace the CFPB’s director with a bipartisan, Senate-approved five-member committee.In February, Representatives Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Tim Walz (D-Minnesota) revived a bipartisan bill that would create an independent Inspector General for the CFPB that is appointed by the president and approved by the Senate. The Bureau currently shares an IG with the Federal Reserve, a position that is appointed by the Fed chair and not subject to Senate approval.Democrats have vowed to fight any attempt at cutting back on the CFPB’s power. Last week during a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Congressman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ranking Member of that Committee, pointed out the work the CFPB has done in the mortgage space.”Much of the CFPB’s most important work has centered on mortgage regulation,” Brown said. “The agency’s ability to repay rules ensure that consumers are not trapped in mortgages that they cannot afford. The CFPB’s rule to streamline forms will help consumers understand what is happening at the closing table. All of these actions speak for themselves as to why this agency is so important to our nation’s consumers.”Yet, opponents continue to work to undermine the agency – by weakening its independence or changing its structure.  Lately, there have been attempts to chip away at actions the agency has taken on arbitration and small-dollar loans.  They have argued the agency should not be able to collect data – data about markets that were formerly non-transparent and unregulated. I will continue to fight all of these attempts to destabilize the CFPB.  Our consumers deserve a strong watchdog that can do its job independently, and it’s my job to make sure that happens.”center_img July 22, 2015 467 Views Abolish Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 Republicans 2015-07-22 Seth Welbornlast_img read more

first_imgHouse Subcommittee Investigates Effect of Regulation on Cost of Housing in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News March 22, 2016 619 Views Government Regulation House Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance Housing Affordability 2016-03-22 Seth Welborn Share According to a release from the Subcommittee on Tuesday afternoon, housing demands in the American housing market have changed since the financial crisis in 2008, and that federal housing regulations are “too antiquated” to address future consumers’ housing needs. The Subcommittee further stated it believes that regulatory barriers are inhibiting the development and preservation of rental housing—and affecting the cost of building and maintaining affordable housing.“While overall homeownership rates have dropped, rental rates have been rising,” said Mechele Dickerson, Professor, the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, a witness at the hearing. “Since the recession, the number of renters in the U.S. increased by double digits. In fact, recent survey results show that renters are now the majority in nine of the 11 largest U.S. metropolitan areas.  While there is a robust market for high-end, luxury apartments, affordable rental units are not being built at a rate that is keeping pace with the heightened demand for those units. It is especially difficult for middle-income families to find affordable rental units in large U.S. cities.” The House Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance on Tuesday afternoon held a hearing to examine the effect of government regulations on the cost of housing—and whether those regulations are hindering or promoting affordability.Subcommittee Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Missouri) has been an outspoken critic of government regulation when it comes to housing and the financial industry. Last week, he told a group of bankers that they need to “find a way to neuter” Dodd-Frank advocate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and called her “the Darth Vader of the financial world.” Warren responded by saying if Republicans want to try to roll back Dodd-Frank, “Let’s have that fight. I’m ready.”In Tuesday’s hearing, titled “The Future of Housing in America: Government Regulations and the High Cost of Housing,” Luetkemeyer was critical of the government’s intervention into housing.“Government has inserted itself into the business of housing by mandating affordable housing and community reinvestment while simultaneously stifling creation of affordable housing and community reinvestment. It’s time to promote the development and availability of housing for low- to mid-income Americans, not restrict it,” Luetkemeyer said. “So today we ask ourselves: where do people go when they reach self-sufficiency? Is the stock of affordable market-rate housing plentiful enough to support the people seeking it? The unfortunate answer is no.”last_img read more

first_imgOne Servicer’s Search for a Needle in a Haystack Ditech Mortgage Corp FHFA Principal Reduction Servicers 2016-05-17 Seth Welborn May 17, 2016 570 Views The FHFA’s Principal Reduction Modification program announced in mid-April has the potential to benefit up to 33,000 borrowers nationwide. This number represents a small share of the approximately three million underwater homeowners nationwide, which might make finding borrowers who qualify seem like looking for a needle in a haystack. That is not stopping Ditech Financial and HLP from trying to find eligible borrowers, however.Ditech Financial, a nonbank mortgage lender and servicer owned by Walter Investment Management, and HLP, a non-profit created in 2009 to help families achieve and sustain homeownership, on Tuesday announced an agreement to implement a borrower outreach effort to identify and assist borrowers who are eligible for the FHFA’s Principal Reduction Modification program.“We are committed to rolling out FHFA’s Principal Reduction Modification Program to reach and provide personal assistance to eligible homeowners whose loans we service, in an effort to help them avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes,” said David Schneider, President of Ditech. “In keeping with our goal to become a lifelong partner in homeownership, we want to help families and individuals to take advantage of this program when that is the right option for them. HLP’s platform will be an integral part of our effort to reach and assist those who are eligible for the loan forgiveness program.”The combined outreach effort of Ditech and HLP involves using HLP’s collaborative communication platform to integrate HUD-approved housing counselors with Ditech’s mortgage servicing operations. The integration between HLP’s platform and Ditech’s servicing operations will help HUD’s counselors more easily identify eligible borrowers.In order to be eligible for the Principal Reduction Modification program, homeowners must meet three requirements:They must be severely delinquent as of March 1, 2016They must currently be severely delinquent on monthly mortgage paymentsThey must have an LTV ratio of at least 115 percent (at least 15 percent underwater).Mortgage servicers must solicit eligible borrowers for the program no later than October 15, 2016.“In the past it was operationally prohibitive for residential mortgage servicers to effectively and securely utilize the advocacy world in loss mitigation,” said Cam Melchiorre, CEO of HLP. “HLP’s primary feature has conclusively overcome this process-burden through its centralized, neutral communication hub and its open architecture. This framework enables secure collaboration and rapid deployment of foreclosure relief programs among major stakeholders in the residential mortgage finance industry in fulfillment of HLP’s mission as a social enterprise to assist consumers to obtain and retain homeownership.”center_img in Daily Dose, Headlines, News, Servicing Sharelast_img read more

first_imgForecast Calls for Continued Price Appreciation August 2, 2016 599 Views Share Home prices rose by 5.7 percent year-over-year in June, and that pace of appreciation is not expected to slow over the next year, according to data released Tuesday by CoreLogic.While CoreLogic’s June 2016 Home Price Index (HPI) reported that following the price appreciation of nearly 6 percent from June 2015, the company’s Home Price Forecast predicted that home prices will appreciate by another 5.3 percent from June 2016 to June 2017. Single-family home prices (including sales of distressed homes) are expected to reach a new peak on November 2017 if they continue at their current rate.“Home prices continue to increase across the country, especially in the lower price ranges and in a number of metro areas,” said Anand Nallathambi, President and CEO of CoreLogic. “We see prices continuing to increase at a healthy rate over the next year by as much as 5 percent.”CoreLogic’s HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the HPI and other economic variables, and values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state, according to CoreLogic.June 2016 marked the 53rd consecutive month of year-over-year home price appreciation. Twenty-three states plus the District of Columbia reached new highs in home price appreciation in June, while two states had negative home price appreciation during the month (Connecticut at minus 1.7 percent and New Jersey at minus 0.8 percent), CoreLogic reported.Mortgage rates dropped to near historic lows in June (3.42 percent for the average 30-year FRM), which spurred on both homebuying and refinance activity. The average 30-year FRM is currently at 3.48 percent and is expected to remain below 4 percent for the remainder of the year.“Mortgage rates dipped in June to their lowest level in more than three years, supporting home purchases,” said Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Local markets with strong economic growth have generally had stronger home-price growth. Among large metropolitan areas, Denver had the lowest unemployment rate and the strongest home-price appreciation.”Click here to view CoreLogic’s Home Price Index for June.center_img CoreLogic Home Price Appreciation Home Price Forecast Home Price Index 2016-08-02 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, Newslast_img read more

first_imgThe Big City Rental Problem in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News March 22, 2017 587 Views Sharecenter_img Homeownership Rent 2017-03-22 Seth Welborn High rent is the norm in big cities. In cities in the U.S. and around the globe, rents for one-bedroom homes tend to be high, with some exceptions. High rents in these areas may cause some consumers to switch from renting to homeownership. According to U.S. News, however, while many cities are seeing a shift from renting to homeownership in the face of rising rent costs, Detroit renters surpass homeowners for the first time in 50 years.MReport previously reported that 15 of the 23 U.S. cities covered by the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson (BH&J) Buy vs. Rent Index were in a “buy” territory, as opposed to “rent.” But in Detroit, the opposite is true, as the latest estimates available from the U.S. Census Bureau show that about 53 percent of Detroit residents rent their homes.Wendy Lewis Jackson, who manages the Kresge Foundation’s Detroit revitalization programs, told U.S. News that the switch to a majority-rental market creates a need for new ways of thinking about the city.”I think there’s an opportunity because many families with young children have moved into these homes,” she said. “And so now, how do we as a city put the right supports around the rental market to ensure stability?”Though this may cause some economic concern, Anika Goss-Foster, director of the Detroit Future City Implementation Office, said the trend doesn’t mean Detroit is on a downward spiral.”But it does mean that we need to pay more attention to this market. Because not only are there more renters, there are low-income renters living in poor-quality housing, and that’s really what we need to be concerned about,” Godd-Foster told U.S. News. Goss-Foster estimates that one in five single-family rented homes in Detroit have been provided subsidies by state or federal housing programs.”This is poor-quality expensive housing that people can’t afford to maintain or live in,” Goss-Foster said. “It’s a really big problem.”last_img read more

first_img in journal, News, Origination equity Placements Financing Multifamily real estate sales Walker & Dunlop 2018-04-01 Radhika Ojha Share  Bethesda, Maryland-based Walker & Dunlop, Inc. has hired a new, multifamily-focused investment sales team in Boston, Massachusetts. The team allows the continued expansion of the company’s banking and brokerage platform in pursuit of its mission to build the premier commercial real estate finance company in the United States.Managing Directors Michael Coyne and Travis D’Amato join Walker & Dunlop from Jones Lang LaSalle (“JLL”), where they led the multifamily Capital Markets presence in the New England region. While at JLL, they originated approximately $3 billion worth of sales, financing, and equity placements.“We are thrilled to welcome this extraordinary team of investment sales professionals to Walker & Dunlop,” commented Kris Mikkelsen, COO, and MD of Walker & Dunlop Investment Sales. “Michael and Travis are highly regarded by large owners of commercial real estate and have the client base, track record, and personal character to be wonderful additions to the Walker & Dunlop team.”  This new team expands the company’s multifamily investment sales practice into five new states, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, growing the firm’s market reach in terms of states licensed to do business by 38 percent. In 2017, Walker & Dunlop’s multifamily-focused investment sales business grew volumes by 18 percent, to $3 billion. Overall, Walker & Dunlop generated $28 billion in total transaction volume in 2017, finishing the year with 7.3 percent market share in total multifamily lending within the United States. center_img April 1, 2018 511 Views Walker & Dunlop Adds Investment Sales Team in Bostonlast_img read more

first_img August 6, 2018 563 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News Parents pass a lot of traits on to their children: perhaps their eye color, an affinity for a particular sport or hobby, and maybe even their work ethic. However, now there is evidence that parents also pass another trait on to their grown children: their odds of homeownership. “We now know that a family habit of homeownership is passed down among generations,” stated researchers from the Urban Institute in a recent blog post. “Whether your parents are homeowners influences whether you’ll be a homeowner,” the researchers said. Furthermore, “your parents’ wealth influences your future homeownership status.” And the difference isn’t subtle. The likelihood of being a homeowners increases 8.4 percentage points for millennials whose parents own homes when controlling for race, education level, and incomes. Without controlling for such factors, the gap widens to 17 percentage points. For the millennial generation, the homeownership rate for those whose parents are homeowners is 31.7 percent. Among those whose parents are renters, the rate is just 14.4 percent, according to the research. When it comes to wealth, a 1 percentage point increase in parental wealth correlates to a 0.009 percentage point increase in the likelihood of a young American owning a home.For millennials whose parents have less than $10,000 in net worth, the rate is 14.14 percent. For those whose parents have $300,000 in net worth, the homeownership rate is 36.39 percent. While the researchers said they “don’t know exactly how homeownership or wealth affects adolescents,” they suggested this influence is important. When it comes to owning a home, there exists a growing gap between different races in the United States “even as our nation becomes increasingly diverse.” This new evidence of a generational link suggests this gap will widen over time.   Among young Americans, white households have a 37 percent homeownership rate. The rate is 27 percent for Asians, 25 percent for Hispanics, and 13 percent among black millennials. White parents have a homeownership rate of 84 percent, while homeownership among Hispanic parents is 64 percent. Black parents have a 48 percent homeownership rate. Wealth is also lower among minority families than for white families. The research found the median net wealth for white parents of millennials was $171,000. For Hispanic parents, the median net wealth was $20,700, and for black families, the median net wealth was $17,600. “Our results provide strong evidence that the intergenerational transfer of homeownership and wealth reinforce and exacerbate existing gaps,” the researchers stated. As a policy center, the institute suggests, “We need to better understand how this inheritance factor works so we can craft policies that will slow if not reverse widening gaps in prosperity.”Learn more about millennials and homeownership at the MReport Webinar titled Hottest Buyers on the Block: Reaching Millennials. Click below to register for this event. Sharecenter_img How the Likelihood of Homeownership is Inherited Homeownership homes HOUSING Millennials Urban Institute 2018-08-06 Radhika Ojhalast_img read more

first_imgMarch 27 , 2019 Australia: Costa Group upbeat for 2019 despite pro …  The hailstorm is believed to be one of the biggest natural disasters to hit a single avocado orchard in Australia. Australia scores improved citrus, carrot access to … You might also be interested in A hail storm that ripped through an avocado orchard in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales last week has destroyed an estimated 4 million avocados, local media ABC reported.Aussie Orchards’ managing director Colin Foyster said 80 percent of the fruit on the 12,000 trees at the Pretty Gully farm was knocked off and onto the ground.ABC Rural: Kim Honan”I wasn’t here but some people have said the hail stones were up to three inches [7.6cm] in size and very jagged,” he was quoted as saying. Foyster said the remaining fruit on the trees also had impact marks where the hail hit the fruit, and the trees themselves were also damaged.center_img “If it’s around the stem, or it’s severe, it will lead to a rot and that fruit will then drop off,” he was quoted as saying. “But most of the remaining fruit, the 20 percent, it’ll just be downgraded. “But most of the remaining fruit, the 20 per cent, it’ll just be downgraded.” “It only hailed for less than 10 minutes, but [the stones were] big enough to knock the fruit off the tree or damage the remaining fruit. It’s three months away from harvest, so it’s all immature, so it’s unsalvageable.” Tasmanian researcher investigates delicate balance … “This is a 100 per cent mature orchard; the original trees are 20 years old and the youngest trees are 12 years old,” Foyster was quoted as saying.The 2019 crop would have produced an estimated 200,000 trays of fruit, or around 50 semitrailer loads of avocados. South Africa: Maluma Symposium to draw larger inte … last_img read more

first_imgRepresentatives of the Hong Kong Tourism Board and Cathay Pacific joined the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Sydney (HKETO) to celebrate the Year of the Rooster at an event on Monday evening at the Sofitel Wentworth Sydney.The event was co-hosted by HKETO, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Invest Hong Kong, Hong Kong Australia Business Association and Hong Kong New Zealand Business Association. The Sydney event was attended by more than 400 guests comprising business, community and political leaders.The Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Sydney, Mr Arthur AuSpeaking at the reception, the director of HKETO Arthur Au, said Hong Kong and Australia continued to enjoy a strong bilateral economic relation.“Hong Kong is Australia’s sixth largest export market for goods, sixth largest services trading partner and sixth largest investor.”Au said, amid the challenging global economy in 2016, Hong Kong continued to serve as the “super-connector” between Mainland China and the rest of the world by virtue of its dual advantages of “one country” and “two systems”.Mr Au and other officiating guests are on stage for a toast to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the RoosterHe also highlighted Hong Kong’s developments on financial services and innovation and technology in the past year, which would provide good opportunities for companies and talents in Australia. Au said Hong Kong’s innovation and technology ecosystem was growing fast with nearly 2,000 start-ups in Hong Kong, a growth of 25% compared with 2015. 2017 is a special year for Hong Kong as it marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.“In Australia, HKETO will organise a series of celebration activities including cultural performances, business forums and a Hong Kong carnival. We will bring our children, youth and arts performing groups from Hong Kong to celebrate the 20th anniversary with people in Australia,” Au said. Cathay PacificChinaHong KongHong Kong Tourism Boardlast_img read more

first_imgHelloworld Travel Limited has released a statement to the ASX announcing its 2017 Full Year Results for the year ended 30 June 2017. The full announcement can be viewed HERE.HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE YEAR ENDED 30 JUNE 2017Total Transaction Value (TTV) of $5.9 billionEarnings before interest expense, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $55.2 million,an increase of $29.9 million compared with prior yearProfit before tax of $31.0 million, an increase of $27.6 million compared with prior yearBasic earnings of 18.8 cents per share compared with 1.9 cents per share in the prior yearFinal dividend declared of 8.0 cents per share, bringing our total dividends declared for FY17 to14.0 cents per share, compared with 2.0 cents per share in the prior yearStrong, positive performance in the business continues with key achievements including: o EBITDA growth for all segments against prior year.o Implementation of $18.6 million merger synergies and annual cost savings by 30 June2017, outperforming previously identified $17.1 million of annualised cost savings.o Significant growth in operating cash flow and a strengthened balance sheet.o Winner of the Best Travel Agency Group (Helloworld Travel), Best Domestic Wholesaler(Sunlover Holidays) and Best International Wholesaler (Qantas Holidays and VivaHolidays) at the July 2017 AFTA National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA).o Re‐brand of the retail network to Helloworld Travel ‐ The Travel Professionals with re‐ focus of marketingto enhance brand presence, member loyalty and corporate relationships.o Continue to strengthen and diversify the retail network, including acquisition of 50% ofMobile Travel Agents (MTA) in Australia and the addition of World Travellers Group (WTG) in New Zealand.o Focus on technology innovations and enhancements including relaunch of site and roll outof Resworld consultant portal. Helloworld Travel Limitedlast_img read more

first_imgairlinesBorn FreechildrenconservationElsa the lionessEtihad Airwayskids activity packswildlife Will Travers OBE, President & Co-Founder of Born Free, said: “Etihad Airways is an important global partner in promoting wild animal welfare and connecting people with the urgent need to protect animals and their habitats all over the planet. Together we can help educate future generations so they can help deliver our vision of compassionate conservation for all species.”Etihad Airways remains committed to the protection and preservation of wildlife and is one of the signatories to the Declaration of the United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products, signed at Buckingham Palace in March 2016. The comprehensive Animal Welfare and Conservation Policy incorporates a strong commitment to wildlife conservation. This was drafted in collaboration with Born Free, which provided advice on specific actions for the airline. Going beyond legal requirements, it includes strict cargo protocols to prevent the carriage of endangered and threatened species, hunting trophies containing any animal parts, shark fins and live animals intended for use in scientific research. Etihad Airways works closely with Born Free to review all holiday activities which involve interaction with animals to ensure that best practices are being followed. If you’re old enough to remember Elsa, the lioness and ‘Born Free’ then Etihad’s latest news might induce a touch of nostalgia and a quiet ‘awwww’ moment … the airline has announced it is reinforcing its partnership with leading wildlife charity, Born Free, by refreshing its popular ‘Etihad Explorers’ children’s packs, which now include an activity booklet developed with Born Free. Born Free has supported Etihad Airways in the development of its comprehensive animal welfare and conservation policy and with various employee awareness-raising activities, promoting the importance of animal welfare and responsible tourism. The airline has supported Born Free in the highly successful promotion of the Elsa the Lioness bracelet in its inflight shopping catalogue.The aim of the new kids’ packs is to provide the airline’s younger guests with a greater understanding of animal welfare and how they can play a part in reducing man’s impact on fragile natural habitats, wildlife conservation and wild animal welfare.last_img read more

first_img What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke “We got a lot of work done here and now it’s back down to the Valley.”The scenery may be changing for the Cardinals, but the process of evaluation will continue for Whisenhunt and his staff with two preseason games remaining.“It was a good camp, but now we’ve got to take that next step, we’ve got to go on the road and play well against Tennessee and get prepared for the season,” Whisenhunt said. “We made a couple of strides last week, we need to do that this week. We need to find out about a lot of our young guys.“We’re going to play some guys Thursday night, get them some opportunities and try to get the best 53 out of this group.”After 20 practices, the team has become accustomed to the conditions of Flagstaff, but Whisenhunt won’t miss everything about the Cardinals’ training home.“I’m not going to miss the thunderstorms that we get every afternoon and having to worry about going inside,” he said. “This is a good place for camp, we had a good camp, our guys worked hard. “You’re going to miss some things, you’re not going to miss some things. I’m not going to miss the beds we’re sleeping in and I’m not going to miss living in a dorm. It’ll be good to get home.” Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away Arizona Sports’ Craig Grialou contributed to this report 0 Comments   Share   Top Stories Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation The Arizona Cardinals have spent a lot of time in Flagstaff since reporting to training camp at Northern Arizona University July 24.And now that time has come to an end. The Cardinals held their 20th and final practice at NAU Tuesday morning before heading back to the Valley and ultimately Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans in their fourth preseason game Thursday night.“Another one in the books, it was a good camp,” head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Seems like there was a lot going on this year, between the Hall of Fame and the Kansas City trip and then coming back and forth here. D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’last_img read more

first_img The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo 0 Comments   Share   The New York Giants and Detroit Lions each rose six spots from Week 9’s pecking order, while the Philadelphia Eagles fell six spots following their road loss to the Giants.Here’s how our seven-person panel voted this week.1. New England Patriots (7-1)High: 1 (unanimous)Low: —Movement: —Comment: “Did Tom Brady vote for Trump or didn’t he?” — GrialouNext: vs. Seattle2. Dallas Cowboys (7-1)High: 2 (unanimous)Low: —Movement: —Comment: “I am starting to worry they won’t mess this up.” — DimakosNext: at Pittsburgh3. Oakland Raiders (7-2)High: 3 (Grialou, Morgan, Green, Dimakos, Burns, Lapinski)Low: 4 (Marotta)Movement: ▲ 1Comment: “Statement game on Sunday night against defending champs.” — LapinskiNext: Bye4. Atlanta Falcons (6-3)High: 4 (Morgan, Green, Dimakos, Lapinski)Low: 6 (Marotta, Grialou)Movement: ▲ 2Comment: “Doesn’t seem like their typical swoon is coming.” — BurnsNext: at Philadelphia5. Seattle Seahawks (5-2-1)High: 4 (Grialou, Burns)Low: 6 (Morgan, Dimakos, Lapinski)Movement: —Comment: “It’s amazing how many bullets they’ve dodged this year.” — MarottaNext: at New England Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling High: 9 (Dimakos)Low: 16 (Morgan)Movement: ▲ 6Comment: “In a very bizarre sports year, is this the next cursed organization to break through?” — DimakosNext: Bye13. Houston Texans (5-3)High: 9 (Marotta)Low: 21 (Burns)Movement: ▼ 1Comment: “In an NFL loaded with misleading winning records, the Texans take the cake.” — MorganNext: at Jacksonville14. Washington Redskins (4-3-1)High: 9 (Morgan)Low: 19 (Green, Lapinski)Movement: ▼ 1Comment: “Nice going, Trent Williams.” — GrialouNext: vs. Minnesota15. Arizona Cardinals (3-4-1)High: 11 (Lapinski)Low: 19 (Grialou)Movement: ▲ 1Comment: “The Veldheer injury is going to be tough to overcome.” — BurnsNext: vs. San Francisco16. New Orleans Saints (4-4)High: 12 (Dimakos)Low: 22 (Burns)Movement: ▲ 3Comment: “We find ourselves pulling for one more Drew Brees run.” — MorganNext: vs. Denver17. Philadelphia Eagles (4-4)High: 13 (Grialou, Morgan)Low: 22 (Green)Movement: ▼ 6Comment: “Doug Pederson’s own players think he’s too aggressive.” — MarottaNext: vs. Atlanta18. Buffalo Bills (4-5) Every team in the NFL has now played at least half its schedule, yet clarity in defining the league’s best and worst teams is fleeting.At the top of our Week 10 Arizona Sports Power Rankings, there was little movement. The New England Patriots, who had the week off, still top the list. The NFC’s best, the Dallas Cowboys, soundly beat the Browns in Cleveland, but that’s hardly something to crow about. Top Stories High: 11 (Marotta)Low: 23 (Lapinski)Movement: ▼ 1Comment: “An apology from the NFL does no good in the standings.” — GrialouNext: Bye19. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1)High: 9 (Burns)Low: 24 (Dimakos)Movement: ▼ 4Comment: “Too much talent to be as average as they’ve been.” — BurnsNext: at NY Giants20. Baltimore Ravens (4-4)High: 14 (Dimakos)Low: 23 (Marotta)Movement: ▲ 3Comment: “First win in a month and a half — and now they lead the AFC North.” — LapinskiNext: vs. Cleveland21. Carolina Panthers (3-5)High: 15 (Burns)Low: 25 (Morgan, Dimakos)Movement: —Comment: “Watch them go on a run. Watch them!” — GreenNext: vs. Kansas City22. Miami Dolphins (4-4)High: 16 (Green)Low: 25 (Burns)Movement: ▲ 5Comment: “Ajayi has more rushing yards in the last three weeks (530) than most RBs have all year.” — LapinskiNext: at San Diego23. San Diego Chargers (4-5)High: 19 (Burns)Low: 25 (Green)Movement: ▼ 1Comment: “Good PR: Chargers win two days before asking for a billion-dollar stadium subsidy.” — MorganNext: vs. Miami24. Indianapolis Colts (4-5)center_img 30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)High: 29 (Green)Low: 30 (everyone else)Movement: —Comment: “Gus Bradley walking the teal green mile.” — BurnsNext: vs. Houston31. San Francisco 49ers (1-7)High: 31 (unanimous)Low: —Movement: —Comment: “Perhaps Chip Kelly should head back to college.” — GrialouNext: at Arizona32. Cleveland Browns (0-9)High: 32 (unanimous)Low: —Movement: —Comment: “Pitchers and catchers report in a few months.” — BurnsNext: at Baltimore 6. Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)High: 3 (Marotta)Low: 7 (Morgan)Movement: ▲ 1Comment: “All they do is win, win, win, no matter what.” — Burns (with an assist to T-Pain)Next: at Carolina7. Denver Broncos (6-3)High: 5 (Morgan)Low: 8 (Marotta, Green)Movement: ▼ 4Comment: “Looks like their lack of QB play is starting to catch up with them.” — GreenNext: at New Orleans8. New York Giants (5-3)High: 7 (Marotta, Green)Low: 12 (Burns)Movement: ▲ 6Comment: “Is there a more unlikely wild card leader than the offensively inept Giants?” — MorganNext: vs. Cincinnati9. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)High: 8 (Burns)Low: 15 (Marotta)Movement: ▼ 1Comment: “Well, at least Chris Boswell knows how to Riverdance.” — LapinskiNext: vs. Dallas10. Minnesota Vikings (5-3)High: 8 (Grialou)Low: 16 (Dimakos)Movement: ▼ 1Comment: “Any coordinators gonna quit this week?” — MarottaNext: at Washington11. Green Bay Packers (4-4)High: 10 (Grialou, Burns)Low: 16 (Marotta)Movement: ▼ 1Comment: “Packers off to worst start since 2009.” — GrialouNext: at Tennessee12. Detroit Lions (5-4) Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact High: 18 (Green)Low: 25 (Marotta, Lapinski)Movement: ▲ 4Comment: “Good road win at Green Bay. For this team, any win is good.” — GreenNext: Bye25. Tennessee Titans (4-5)High: 22 (Dimakos)Low: 26 (Green, Lapinski)Movement: ▼ 5Comment: “Marcus Mariota was a turnover machine in loss to San Diego.” — MorganNext: vs. Green Bay26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)High: 24 (Green, Lapinski)Low: 28 (Burns)Movement: ▼ 5Comment: “They’ve lost six straight at home and are 3-17 at Raymond James Stadium since 2014.” — GrialouNext: vs. Chicago27. Los Angeles Rams (3-5)High: 26 (Grialou, Morgan)Low: 29 (Marotta)Movement: ▼ 2Comment: “The Hard Knocks quotes make me laugh.” — DimakosNext: at NY Jets28. New York Jets (3-6)High: 26 (Burns)Low: 28 (Grialou, Morgan, Dimakos, Lapinski)Movement: ▼ 2Comment: “Things aren’t looking bright for Todd Bowles’ future.” — MarottaNext: vs. Los Angeles29. Chicago Bears (2-6)High: 28 (Marotta)Low: 30 (Green)Movement: —Comment: “Best week yet, because I didn’t have to watch you play football.” — DimakosNext: at Tampa Bay Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) dives for a touchdown against Cleveland Browns free safety Tracy Howard (41) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)last_img read more

first_imgEven with Bradford and backup quarterback Mike Glennon on the roster, questions about a long-term option surround the Cardinals.Palazzalo believes Jackson could be the answer.One of the draft’s biggest QB-needy teams, the Cardinals will turn to Jackson’s big-play ability. He had the nation’s top rushing grade in each of the last two years, and he’s capable of making multiple reads and tight-window throws, though the down-to-down accuracy is lacking for Jackson at this point in his career. Still, there’s an offense to be built around his skillset, and he’s worth a look in the first round.In three years at Louisville, Jackson went 25-14 as the starter and threw for 69 touchdowns against 27 interceptions. A dual-threat, he racked up an additional 4,132 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns on the ground.Jackson was the recipient of the 2016 Heisman Trophy. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Top Stories 1 Comments   Share   The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal. That’s the mantra Pro Football Focus believes is in store for the Arizona Cardinals at the 2018 NFL Draft.In his latest mock draft, Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus has the Cardinals selecting Louisivlle quarterback Lamar Jackson with the No. 15 overall pick.Arizona signed quarterback Sam Bradford in free agency to a one-year, $20 million deal but could stand to add depth at the position given Bradford’s injury history. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retireslast_img read more

first_img“The [players] that have had success are the guys who are competitive as hell, can learn it and can process information. If they can’t do any of those things, we’ve got to make sure we steer clear of them.”There is no accounting for the injuries that derailed 2013 first-round pick Jonathan Cooper, 2014 second-round pick Troy Niklas or Mathieu, but that does not explain the lack of return (thus far) on 2016 first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche, third-rounders Kareem Martin (2014, now with the Giants), Chad Williams (2017), Brandon Williams (2016) or 2016 fourth-rounder Evan Boehm.Keim’s trade for Palmer in 2013 worked out well, but his neglect of the quarterback position through the draft (other than 2014 head-scratcher Logan Thomas) has left him reliant on injury-prone Sam Bradford to engineer a Palmer or Kurt Warner-like resurrection.Keim oversaw the best three-year, regular-season run in Cardinals history from 2013-15. That played a role in his extension, even if the Cardinals qualified for the playoffs just twice and won just one playoff game in his previous five seasons as GM.It won’t shield him now.Arians’ bravado is gone. So is Palmer’s underappreciated skill. Top Stories Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Genuine humility is the rarest of human commodities, one that could serve Keim well, but he’ll need more than introspection to chart a new course for the Cardinals after the retirements of coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer, the defection of a diminished Tyrann Mathieu and the approaching retirement of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.Above all else, he’ll need more consistent success in the NFL Draft than his five previous years have produced.Related LinksRanking all 42 of Steve Keim’s Arizona Cardinals draft picksCardinals GM Steve Keim signs contract extension through 2022Two-and-a-half months after he signed a contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2022, Keim is staring at a roster that lacks depth at numerous positions including wide receiver, running back, defensive back and tight end.There are also significant questions at quarterback and along the offensive and defensive lines. That is as much a reflection of his scouting and salary-cap staffs as it is of him, but it is Keim who must shoulder the blame due to title, pay grade and power.“I think you always tweak a few things based on, really, self-evaluation when you look back at some of the things you should have done differently and look at whether mistakes are being made or areas where you can actually improve,” he said. “We’ve done that. Whether it’s adding some analytical work, just to make sure the checks-and-balances system is in place, or whether it’s areas of concern in terms of character, where we’ve added some key points to the process. Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim does an interview with The Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports) 49 Comments   Share   TEMPE, Ariz. – There is no visible ego emanating from Cardinals general manager Steve Keim, no outward sign that hubris will be an occupational impediment.As he prepared for his sixth NFL Draft in his current position, Keim admitted to constant self-reflection when discussing his evolution as an executive.“I think about the things that I’ve done wrong more so than about the things that have gone well,” he said at a recent press conference. “To me, when you’re a competitor, that’s how you grow and get better in this business is to be critical of yourself.” First-year coach Steve Wilks has deferred to Keim on most subject matters, putting the spotlight squarely on Arizona’s GM.Maybe he’ll trade up and find the franchise’s quarterback of the future. Maybe he’ll trade down and acquire enough picks to address some of those depth issues.Whatever the process, it’s Keim’s show now, and he is on the clock. No NFL executive enjoys job security, but Keim’s resume is not impressive enough to provide any comfort.“I sit in my office and look at the depth chart and it’s hard for me to look at any position and see it as a strength, because in my position, you really have to be critical and you always have to be trying, striving to get better,” he said. “I see more holes than I see strengths.” Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more

first_imgGo back to the e-newsletterPolin Waterparks has launched the new Land of Legends Theme Park in Antalya, Turkey. The entertainment facility features a long and varied list of attractions – from a five-star hotel to a dolphinarium, a wildlife park and a very promising waterpark. The waterpark part of the project is called “Legends of Aqua.”Developers of the project are a collaboration between Rixos World Parks & Entertainment (Serik, Turkey), Emaar Real Estate (Dubai, UAE) and global cultural creativity brand Dragone Productions (La Louvière, Belgium). Multidisciplinary design firm founder Jack Rouse was in charge of developing specialised zones for the facility and oversaw its master planning, concept and schematic designs. Polin Waterparks delivered a wide assortment of waterslides, in addition to a water playground, a spray zone, wave and river systems, a SurfStream®, a Wave Ball and an entire hydromechanical system, including water circulation and filtration to the park.A world-class destinationThe US $1 billion facility opened its first phase 1 July with a giant wave pool at its centre, acting as the heart of the park. The park already has been dubbed a “world-class destination” by inaugural guests.The family-friendly facility – designed with a Roman Empire and Greek Poseidon theme – is located in a picturesque setting between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. Covering 639,000 square metres, Land of Legends includes a 196,000-square-metre shopping boulevard; a luxurious 17,000-square-metre five-star hotel; a 146,000-square-metre wildlife park; and a viewing terrace that reaches 111 metres in height. In addition, the park is host to 72 waterslides plus many additional aquatic attractions.Dr. Kubilay Alpdogan, the Director of Sales and Design for Polin Waterparks, says Polin considers the project to be a pinnacle of its achievements for 2016. “It’s truly our ‘project of the year,’” he says. “No other waterpark has been built to rival Land of Legends – at least not in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region of the world. It was a huge project – and one of which we are immensely proud. It’s truly a new opportunity for families to enjoy time together.”Go back to the e-newsletterlast_img read more

first_imgMSC Cruises is unveiling a new ship in 2017, named the MSC Meraviglia, and to celebrate the cruise line is launching an inclusive meal deal to allow clients to explore this new beauty in style.The diverse range of facilities and services combine for a unique cultural experience. This next generation ship will be spacious, at 331 metres long and offering over 5000 guests a variety of cabin styles for couples and friends – right up to large groups of up to 10 passengers – to enjoy.“MSC Meraviglia will be christened in France, in the beautiful UNESCO-listed port of Le Havre on 1 June 2017,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman. He also commented, “We chose a name that denotes the sense of awe and wonderment felt when you experience the ship’s stunning features, which only an MSC cruise, with its unique Mediterranean-style, can deliver.”This ship will be home to the first and only floating classic and contemporary fine art museum at sea – another MSC Cruises industry-first.Exclusive world class entertainment will be offered on board the MSC Meraviglia, thanks to an exclusive partnership with Cirque du Soleil. Two unique shows will be performed in a purpose-built Carousel Lounge each night, including the opportunity to dine before this unique show in this lounge.These changes arrive after the previous year of success. Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises CEO, said: “In 2015, MSC Cruises came out of another year of unprecedented growth that saw a 10 per cent year-on-year sales increase, with 1.7 million guests having journeyed on one of the company’s 12 ultra-modern ships.”Enriched family entertainment is targeted to guests of all ages. An amusement park will be suitable for the entire family; an Aqua Park will be perfect to cool down in warm weather; and the Himalayan Bridge will be an adventure for the thrill seekers.Comfortable accommodations will prioritise guests’ needs, with 10 different types of cabins. An enhanced Yacht Club will be the ultimate exclusive luxury service. Multigenerational holidays can be accommodated, thanks to the modular cabins, which combine for multiple families.Twelve food venues bring unprecedented choice of fine and casual dining options. Diverse options will include a buffet, sushi, teppanyaki and a steak house.The outdoor Mediterranean-style promenade will host a spectacular atmosphere, with an entertaining LED screen. Ice cream and crepes will be available from Jean Philippe Maury, awarded French chocolatier and pastry chef.The pools will be the centre of relaxation and entertainment; the main pool is inspired by Miami’s South Beach and an indoor pool will be opened when the weather cools down.To celebrate this new class of cruising with MSC, MSC Meraviglia, will provide new clients booking from 4 November 2016 with an inclusive specialty dining experience. On top of the several free restaurants already included in selected cruises, when booking a balcony Fantasia cabin on the MSC Meraviglia, MSC will include a specialty dining package to enhance the cruise experience.The package entitles guests to a free three-course set menu in each of three specialty restaurants on board.Discover the authentic Italian restaurant, Eataly. This renowned brand sources high-quality Italian food from small, sustainable producers.Then there’s the Kaito Sushi Bar, serves include fresh Japanese sushi, sashimi, tempura and lots more.Lastly, guests will be wowed by The Butcher’s Cut, an American steakhouse which allows guests to select a favourite steak from the glass-fronted meat-ageing fridge.Book a balcony cabin to take advantage of this exclusive offer on a brand-new ship exploring the delights of the western Mediterranean aboard MSC Meraviglia from AU $1299 per person.last_img read more

first_imgAustralia’s love affair with river cruising has seen an increase in interest for Yangtze cruises through the awe-inspirng Three Gorges.Helen Wong, MD and founder of Helen Wong’s Tours, said the rise in cruising interest had ultimately led to bookings for group and independent tours to other corners of China, beyond the traditional centres of Beijing, Shanghai, Xian and Chengdu.“Australia’s growing hunger for cruising experiences has been overwhelming,” says Wong. “With a further increase in 2018.“The cruises through the spectacular Three Gorges between Yichang and Chongqing – and vice versa – have been popular for many years. But based on the more recent thirst by Australians to experience a luxury cruise ship holiday, we forecast a healthier flow of Australians along the Yangtze.”In meeting demand for luxury cruise holidays, Helen Wong’s Tours, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017, utilises the seven-strong American-owned Victoria Cruises fleet in its programme, each vessel rated five-star by the China National Tourism Administration.With a multilingual cruise director on board, each ship is air conditioned and boasts outside cabins with private balconies and bathrooms. All meals are included in a choice of two restaurants along with Wi-Fi access and a host of other features.The Three Gorges cruise is a feature of Helen Wong’s Tours’ 15-day Yangtze Wonders group tour which also includes visits on Shanghai, Xian (home of the Terracotta Warriors) and Beijing. Until the end of November 2017 it is priced from $5750 per person, twin-share, from Australia.Helen Wong’s Tours also offers nine-day Downstream and Upstream Yangtze tours, from $2760 per person, twin-share, including stays in Shanghai and Chongqing. Return airfares from Australia are extra.To venture along the Yangtze is more than a mere river cruise; it’s a lifetime experience, where passengers call on fascinating towns and journey on a mini cruise along one of the tributaries. Whether they begin the cruise from cosmopolitan Chongqing or near much smaller Yichang in Hubei province, guests can prepare for a journey filled with treasured moments, where the giant Three Gorges Dam is as commanding as the beautiful Three Gorges.The cruise meanders along a 660km section of China’s most famous river, passing three gorges and cliff-side temples, stopping at the world’s largest dam and cruising under a series of contemporary road bridges which connect traditional farming villages and towns.Like the Great Wall, the Three Gorges Dam is representative of what the Chinese people can achieve. Its billing as the largest “conservancy project undertaken” tells part of the story.last_img read more