The Election Is Over. The Nation’s Rifts Remain.

Posted On Nov 20 2020 by

first_imgThat is, when people used to go to church. Before the coronavirus.“I just don’t think it’s ever going to be the same,” Ms. Graham, 65, said. “Because I felt like it was beyond political. It was personal.”On the other side of Pennsylvania, 300 miles to the east in Monroe County, a cellphone salesman named Austin Garone said he was exhausted by the thought of telling an ex-girlfriend which way he had voted. By Sunday morning, a semblance of serenity had returned to Maplewood. Mr. Kurland, a digital designer and a musician whose garage loudspeakers had rocked his neighborhood, mowed the lawn. His wife, Ms. Kumar, a psychologist, walked the family’s two black Labradors.That the president of the United States was tweeting again about a stolen election did not perturb them. They had already danced for joy in their driveway.Contributing reporting were Mike Baker from Seattle; Campbell Robertson from Mercer County, Pa.; Sabrina Tavernise from Monroe County, Pa.; and Will Wright from Louisville, Ky. The sounds of something unleashed — banging pots, honking horns, primal shouts — burst from all directions in Maplewood, N.J. And as another Queen song boomed from the muscular loudspeakers in his garage, Zack Kurland stood at the edge of his driveway, arms raised like Rocky.We are the championsWe are the championsHis wife, Neena Kumar, came running and leapt into his arms. News had just arrived that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had been declared the winner of the presidential election of 2020, and now the two were twirling in an impromptu public dance of triumph.- Advertisement – It has been a hard four years for Ms. Graham, with various political disagreements, including with sons who went from supporting Mr. Obama to supporting Mr. Trump. Especially difficult was the brutal mocking of Democrats — in other words, people like her — on social media by members of her church. Their disdain was so vitriolic that she had trouble attending Sunday services. These small moments reflect the sizable fissure in the collective American psyche that Mr. Biden sought to begin closing in his speech on Saturday night. With a stand of American flags behind him, he said the time had come to restore the nation’s soul; to embrace the first three words of the Constitution: “We the people.”Mr. Biden knows from experience how difficult such simple sentiments are to attain. Another historic moment not long ago — the 2008 election of the country’s first Black president, Barack Obama, with Mr. Biden as his vice president — also prompted dancing in the streets. And it, too, was framed as a moment of healing unification. The feeling did not last. MAPLEWOOD, N.J. — A late-morning stillness had settled over a November Saturday in a cozy blanket of suburban serenity. Suddenly, at stadium-level blast, there came the shattering rock ’n’ roll roar of victory:We will, we will rock youWe will, we will rock you- Advertisement – “Whether certain of my family members will elect to not attend certain events because my husband and I are there — that’s possible,” she said. But Mr. Biden still recognized a need to sound the call, once again, for the nation to come together. “It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric,” he said. “To lower the temperature. To see each other again. To listen to each other again.”His words seemed directed as much to the individual American as to the nation at large, as if to recognize the gaping rifts created over the four tumultuous years since Mr. Trump was elected. Friendships have fractured. Workplace relationships have cooled. Family gatherings have been altered by fears that a request to pass the salt might somehow lead to a political brawl.In Trump-solid Mercer County, Pa., a retired special education teacher named Beverly Graham, a Democrat, celebrated the big news on Saturday by pouring a glass of honey whiskey. She drank it in quiet toast, then tackled the chore of cleaning the bathrooms. – Advertisement –center_img Updated Nov. 8, 2020, 8:15 p.m. ET The moment evoked an iconic American image: a World War II sailor spontaneously kissing a woman in a nurse’s uniform in Times Square after the news of victory in Europe. Only instead of V-E Day, this was V-B Day: Victory for Biden. But not everyone was dancing. Triumph in a foreign war unifies a country; triumph in an election has the lurking potential to further divide. And by Sunday morning, some of the celebration and grieving had melted away to expose a difficult question for divided families and a divided nation:Now what?- Advertisement – Mr. Garone ultimately decided that the president had not done so. But he is not volunteering that he voted for Mr. Trump in 2020.“If she asks, I’ll tell her,” he said. “But if not, I won’t mention it.”And in Louisville, Ky., a lawyer named Dustin Meek said that she had spent considerable time trying to navigate the political schism between herself, a self-described progressive Democrat, and her family in her Trump-supporting hometown of Ashland, 190 miles to the east.“We’ll start out the evening saying, OK, no discussion of politics,” Ms. Meek, 54, said. “But inevitably, a joke will be thrown, or something will come up and people will poke, and honestly, I have to say, it has strained the relationships.”“It’s hard,” she added.She and her family members cannot seem to even agree on what constitutes “fact,” she said. They follow right-wing news websites, while she favors more traditional news sources that Mr. Trump has encouraged his followers to distrust.Ms. Meek expressed hope that the less inflammatory rhetoric of a new president would ease things. And she said that she would not allow politics to get in the way of attending future family gatherings. They had broken up in 2016 over politics, mostly, after he voted for Mr. Trump — a choice, he said, she found incomprehensible. This time around, she had been calling, texting and sending long Facebook missives, all to persuade him not to vote for Mr. Trump again.“People just hate Trump so much,” Mr. Garone, 26, said. “It’s an emotional reaction and they lose their sense of reason.”He said he had told his ex-girlfriend, still a close friend, that he would not vote for Mr. Trump if she could demonstrate that he had infringed upon her rights as a bisexual woman. True, a record number of more than 75 million Americans had voted for Mr. Biden, the Democratic challenger, and his running mate, Kamala Harris, the first woman elected as vice president. Also true was that more than 71 million others now had to grapple with the concept that their candidate — Donald J. Trump, the Republican incumbent — would most likely be branded by his own worst epithet: loser. If Trump loyalists were honking their horns at all on Saturday, it was probably to clear rejoicing Biden supporters from the streets. And the only hope being offered by their leader was a vow to challenge in the courts what he asserted, without evidence, was a fraudulent election.By refusing, for now, to publicly accept the election results, Mr. Trump was all but inviting dance-interrupting discord. And some accepted his invitation.Trump supporters held “Stop the Steal” rallies outside state capitols across the country, though their cries of electoral corruption sometimes came as news of Mr. Biden’s declared victory was lighting up smartphones everywhere.In Sacramento, Calif., videos captured confrontations that devolved into physical assaults; some in the scrum wore the black-and-yellow polo shirts often associated with the Proud Boys, a far-right, pro-Trump group not unfamiliar with violence. Another video, from Salem, Ore, showed a man in Proud Boys apparel discharging what appeared to be pepper spray, after which a crowd battered a vehicle with fists and a baseball bat.last_img read more


Bravo Stars’ Quotes About Having Kids

Posted On Nov 20 2020 by

first_imgReady to grow! Vanderpump Rules stars have been very vocal over the years about their plans to conceive.Stassi Schroeder told Andy Cohen in January 2019 that she was ready to have kids with Beau Clark, six months before the commercial casting director proposed.- Advertisement – “Everything’s in the cards and I don’t even care about the order,” the Next Level Basic author said on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen at the time. “I don’t know when the moment was [I knew he was The One]. I can’t even remember when the moment was. There was something that just, like, switched.”Clark proposed to Schroeder in July 2019, and Us Weekly broke the news the following year that she was pregnant with their first child. When the couple tied the knot in September 2020 in a secret backyard ceremony, the former “Straight Up With Stassi” podcast host showed off her baby bump in a white gown. After kissing the bride, Clark knelt down to kiss his wife’s stomach.- Advertisement – The Florida native exclusively told Us in December 2018 that she was too busy for children, explaining, “I feel like I have way too much stuff I’ve got to do, you know? I’ve got to travel the world, I’ve got to be a successful businesswoman, I’ve got to put out a series of cocktail books. I gotta go to outer space. I want to go to outer space so bad.”Keep scrolling to see the reality stars’ quotes about their future family plans. Brittany Cartwright and Lala Kent both announced pregnancies that same month with Jax Taylor and Randall Emmett, respectively. Scheana Shay shared her pregnancy news in October 2020.The “One More Time” singer had frozen her eggs multiple times before conceiving naturally. “I honestly don’t even know if I do want kids,” the California native exclusively told Us of her decision in January 2019. “I would only have kids if I found the right person who wanted to have some with me, and where my life’s at right now, I don’t see it going in that direction. But things can change, you never know! I just wanted to do this as a backup option because my AMH levels were extremely low, like almost zero. … I’m not getting any younger. My numbers aren’t getting any higher.”While Katie Maloney has been vocal about trying to conceive with Tom Schwartz, Ariana Maddix and Tom Sandoval aren’t planning to start a family anytime soon.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more


Congress has 14 working days to keep government funded, provide COVID-19 relief

Posted On Nov 20 2020 by

first_imgAlready, House Republicans are resisting an omnibus bill, and raising questions about whether Trump would even sign one. It’s also a question whether he’d sign another CR or a coronavirus stimulus package, when it comes down to it. If Trump really wants to upend the nation and the election (states have to certify the election by Dec. 8, the electoral college votes Dec. 14, the formal joint session of Congress to declare the official results is Jan. 6) he can refuse to fund the government. Whether enough Republicans in Congress would be nihilistic enough to refuse to override his veto is an actual question. Because it is 2020 and anything, absolutely anything, could happen.On coronavirus relief, McConnell has yet to budge in his rhetoric and he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi haven’t had any recent talks. Trump did tweet out one of his usual exhortations on Saturday: “Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill. Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done!” Never mind that “big” and “focused” are in direct opposition right now—Pelosi wanting “big” and McConnell wanting “focused.” Who knows what Trump wants, other than to magic away election results and pretend like he’s not going to be vulnerable to prosecution in New York State in 64 days.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – Who knows at this point what any of this means for the next month. The only thing certain is that as cases and hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus surge, as states increasingly have to shut down again, the economic pain increases even more. Thousand upon thousands of people face hunger, eviction, and financial ruin. And the obstruction of McConnell is making it worse. “More businesses will be at risk of permanently going out of business, which would dampen labor demand and potentially spur new rounds of layoffs. This suggests the labor market recovery could meaningfully slow or even reverse in coming months as the country tries to get the virus under control,” economists at Bank of America warned last week.That apparently is a feature and not a bug of McConnell’s plan to obstruct assistance. He wants to hamstring the Biden administration before it even begins. He doesn’t care who—or how many—suffer in the offing.last_img read more


THE PANDEMIC VACCINE PUZZLE Part 1: Flu research: a legacy of neglect

Posted On Nov 18 2020 by

first_img Those appropriations have gone to fund a wide array of pandemic-preparation tasks, from improving state and local planning to supporting antiviral research (see Bibliography: Trust for America’s Health 2007). Strictly within the vaccine realm, funds have been divided among research, production, and purchase of existing vaccines for the national stockpile. As of May 2007, Congress had given the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) $5.6 billion for pandemic preparedness; HHS has allocated $3.2 billion of that to expanding vaccine capacity. So far the agency has committed $1.5 billion of those funds, including $1 billion for research into alternative production methods such as cell culture, $147 million for research on low-dose vaccines, and $133 million for retrofitting existing plants to improve manufacturing capacity (see Bibliography: HHS 2007; Trust for America’s Health 2007). US leads other countriesLate though the United States may have been in funding vaccine research, it nonetheless outshines other countries. “Government officials in the five Western European countries where influenza vaccine production facilities are located . . . have provided virtually no public funding to support H5N1 vaccine trials,” David Fedson, MD, wrote this summer in the Journal of Public Health Policy. “Germany is the sole exception, providing modest support for a trial of one company’s vaccine” (see Bibliography: Fedson and Dunnill 2007: Commentary). Fedson is a retired academic and vaccine-industry executive who has published critical analyses of pandemic-vaccine planning in a number of journals. Echoing that report, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s technical advisory groups on human H5N1 vaccines warned in August that 10 essential research questions must be answered before a vaccine can be achieved. The questions’ very basic nature—How much antigen should a vaccine contain? How many doses should be given? How long does vaccine protection last?—suggest how far flu-vaccine science has yet to go (see Bibliography: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control 2007: Technical report). Oct 25, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – It has been 10 years since the H5N1 strain of avian influenza first grabbed international attention by causing the death of a Hong Kong 3-year-old, the novel virus’s first known human casualty (see Bibliography: CDC 1997). In the decade since, the virus has torn across the globe, causing 332 known human illnesses and 204 deaths in 12 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the deaths or preventive slaughter of hundreds of millions of birds. Despite recent encouraging news from several clinical trials, the scientific—and financial and political—hurdles to producing a widely deployable vaccine remain dauntingly high. As the WHO admitted in its Global Pandemic Influenza Action Plan, published last year, “At the present time, if an influenza pandemic were to occur, the potential vaccine supply would fall several billion doses short of the amount needed to provide protection to the global population” (see Bibliography: WHO 2006). As a public health threat, flu had faded from federal, commercial, and thus public attention. A 1985 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, “New Vaccine Development” (updated in 2000 as “Vaccines for the 21st Century”) urged fresh focus on flu-vaccine research but, coming as concern over AIDS began to crest, attracted no additional investment to flu (see Bibliography: IOM 1985, IOM 2000). Consumption of seasonal flu vaccine was relatively low: Americans received 54.9 million doses in 1995, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and an additional 16.6 million were returned unused to manufacturers (see Bibliography: Santoli 2007). Lacking a strong public appetite for seasonal flu vaccine, and thus a reliable market, flu-vaccine manufacturers saw no reason to improve on the cumbersome egg-based production technology that had been used since the 1950s. Gaps in the knowledge baseRecent assessments by US and European experts have conceded that flu research still lags. A blue-ribbon panel convened last year by the NIAID recommended in a June 2007 report that “eight specific aspects of influenza research in which there are substantial gaps in knowledge” receive immediate attention. The areas included clinical and immune responses to flu, flu epidemiology, animal models for flu research, antivirals, diagnostic assays, and, notably, vaccines, of which the group said: “Development of improved influenza vaccines is a key priority for the control of both seasonal and pandemic influenza” (see Bibliography: NIH 2007). “Influenza has not been treated with the degree of medical attention that the disease warrants,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), warned in a 2006 commentary (see Bibliography: Fauci 2006). “There is not an adequate baseline of preparedness in the United States to deal with the potential of pandemic influenza.” “We are finally starting to do the right thing, because money is being put in,” Poland said, “but we are late. We are really playing catch-up” (see Bibliography: Poland 2007). The pandemic vaccine puzzle Part 1: Flu research: a legacy of neglectPart 2: Vaccine production capacity falls far shortPart 3: H5N1 poses major immunologic challengesPart 4: The promise and problems of adjuvantsPart 5: What role for prepandemic vaccination?Part 6: Looking to novel vaccine technologiesPart 7: Time for a vaccine ‘Manhattan Project’?Bibliography But after almost a decade of research, a safe, effective, affordable, and abundant vaccine against H5N1 flu remains disappointingly out of reach. The search for a human avian-flu vaccine that could be developed and delivered in time to short-circuit a pandemic has been dogged by multiple obstacles across many sectors. They include patchy scientific knowledge, sparse government funding, thin manufacturing and packaging capability, and restrictive regulatory structures—along with the wily immunology of the H5N1 virus itself. A chronic low priorityThe search for a pandemic vaccine was hobbled from the start by the relatively low priority placed on influenza research before the 1997 Hong Kong outbreak. Almost 80 years had passed since the 1918 pandemic, an outbreak that was globally traumatic but was largely, and strangely, overlooked by historians of the period (see Bibliography: Crosby 1989). For most, “pandemic” would have evoked not the estimated 100 million dead of 1918 but the approximately 1 million worldwide deaths in 1968-69, the mildest pandemic since modern records began—or the failed pandemic alarm sounded in 1976 after swine flu cases were discovered in Fort Dix, N.J., and the rash of adverse events triggered by the emergency vaccination campaign that followed. For the two years since federal money began flowing, scientific and public health groups have begged the administration to allocate more. In November 2005, May 2006, and again in April and June 2007, the Working Group on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness—an umbrella organization for 15 medical and science societies—unsuccessfully urged members of Congress to increase funding for the whole panoply of pandemic preparation, including vaccine research and development (see Bibliography: Working Group for Pandemic Influenza Preparedness 2005, 2006, 2007). Funding: A starvation diet The historical low profile of flu research translated into a chronic lack of investment. For most of the past decade, as well as many years before that, the field was starved for money. In 2001—after the 1997 outbreak, but before H5N1 began its global spread—the NIH’s entire flu-research budget was $20.6 million, with $14.9 million of that in NIAID activities (see Bibliography: NIAID 2007). Funding stayed stagnant until the White House issued the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza in November 2005 and called for $7.1 billion to be appropriated for flu. As of February, when the fiscal year 2007 budget was finalized, $5.3 billion had been appropriated overall, and NIH’s flu research budget had been raised to $222 million (see Bibliography: NIH 2007). Editor’s note: This is the first in a seven-part series investigating the prospects for development of vaccines to head off the threat of an influenza pandemic posed by the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The series puts advances in vaccine technology in perspective by illuminating the formidable barriers to producing an effective and widely usable vaccine in a short time frame. “The political inertia is surprising, particularly as politicians, if and when a pandemic eventuates, will be asked why, despite repeated warnings, they did not take appropriate action in time,” Lars Haaheim of the University of Bergen said in a stinging May article in Influenza and Other Respiratory Diseases. “With very few exceptions, the academia, research establishments and vaccine industry [have] had to settle for meagre and sometimes no public support at all” (see Bibliography: Haaheim 2007). There is widespread fear in the research community that the money is simply not enough. In that time, avian flu and the potential human pandemic it could cause have waxed and waned in public attention. Scientific attention to the H5N1 threat, though, has never wavered. Much of that attention has focused on finding a vaccine against H5N1, “the single most important public health tool for decreasing the morbidity, mortality and economic effects of pandemic influenza,” according to Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minn. (see Bibliography: Poland 2006).last_img read more


Japan finds H5 virus in swans; India, Vietnam cite outbreaks

Posted On Nov 18 2020 by

first_imgApr 28, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Animal health officials in Japan were awaiting final tests on four wild swans that recently tested positive for an H5 strain of avian influenza, as authorities in Vietnam and India’s Tripura state moved to quash new outbreaks caused by the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus.Three of the swans were found dead on the shores of Lake Towada in Akita prefecture, in northern Japan, on Apr 21, officials said in a news release, according to a report today from Reuters. The swans were found and tested during heightened surveillance prompted by several outbreaks in South Korea, Japan’s neighbor to the southwest.Authorities have not found any mass bird deaths nearby and said there were no chicken farms within 10 kilometers of the area, Reuters reported.Japan’s last reported H5N1 outbreaks occurred in early 2007, when the virus struck farms in four towns in the southern part of the country and killed a hawk eagle near Kumamoto prefecture, according to reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).Elsewhere, veterinary officials in India said on Apr 26 that samples from more birds in Tripura state had tested positive for the H5N1 virus, pushing to three the number of areas hit in the state in the past 2 weeks, the Times of India reported on Apr 26.Asim Roy Barman, state animal resources department director, told the Times that the two earlier outbreak sites were within 4 kilometers of the border with Bangladesh, which has had extensive H5N1 outbreaks over the past several months. However, he said the latest outbreak was a surprise to officials because it is 50 kilometers from the Bangladesh border.In early April, Tripura became the second Indian state to report H5N1 outbreaks this year. Nearly all of Tripura state, located in the far northeastern section of India, borders eastern Bangladesh.In other developments, animal health officials in Vietnam said the H5N1 virus has been detected in another province, Son La in the northern part of the country, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported today.The report said Vietnam’s Department of Animal Health told a local newspaper that the outbreak occurred among chickens and ducks in a backyard poultry flock. Provincial authorities have isolated the site and disinfected the farm to prevent the spread of the virus, according to the report.The animal health department, according to Xinhua, said two other locations in Vietnam are also battling the H5N1 virus: Tien Giang province in the south and Can Tho, an independent municipality that is the largest city in the Mekong Delta.See also:OIE reports on Japanese outbreakshttp://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/A2007_AI.php#last_img read more


Some immunity to novel H1N1 flu found in seniors

Posted On Nov 18 2020 by

first_imgMay 21, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – In a search for factors that may give some patients a protective edge against novel H1N1 influenza, researchers said today that adults, especially those older than 60, appear to have some cross-antibody response but that seasonal influenza vaccines appear unlikely to offer any protection.The findings, from scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) appear in tomorrow’s edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Results are based on microneutralization and hemagglutination inhibition assays on child and adult serum specimens that were used in previous vaccine studies by the CDC as well as its academic and industry partners.Epidemiologic patterns in the novel flu outbreak have consistently shown the disease taking its hardest toll on younger people—in the United States, 64% of the novel flu cases have occurred in the 5- to 24-year-old age-group. Officials have wondered if older people haven’t yet been exposed to the strain in the community or if another factor, such as preexisting immunity, is providing some protection against the virus. Only 1% of cases have occurred in people over age 65.Researchers assessed cross-reactive antibody levels to the novel influenza H1N1 virus in cohorts of children and adults before and after they had been vaccinated with a seasonal flu vaccine during any of the past four seasons.Before vaccination, children showed no cross-reactive antibody reaction to the new flu strain. However, the antibody was detected in 6% to 9% of adults ages 18 to 64 and in 33% of those older than age 60.Vaccination with any form of the seasonal flu vaccine did not provoke a response to the novel strain in children. Adults ages 18 to 64 who had been vaccinated showed a slight response to the new strain: a twofold increase compared with 12-fold to 19-fold increases seen against the seasonal H1N1 strain. No increase in cross-reactive antibody response was seen in people over age 60 who had been vaccinated.”These data suggest that receipt of recent (2005-2009) seasonal influenza vaccines is unlikely to elicit a protective antibody response to the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus,” the CDC reported.Though the number of sera samples from children was small, the findings suggest that US children are serologically naive to the new virus, the researchers concluded. However, the analysis suggests adults—especially those older than 60—have some degree of preexisting immunity to the novel strain.Anne Schuchat, MD, interim deputy director for the CDC’s science and public health program, today at a media briefing urged caution in interpreting the results. Cross-reactive antibody assessment is an indirect measure of immune response, and though the findings are interesting, they’re not definitive, she said. “The laboratory findings we’re reporting seem to correlate with the epidemiologic data that we have so far.”Another reason to not over-interpret the results, she said, is that the microneutralization assay was used as a surrogate and isn’t the standard test the CDC uses against influenza viruses. (Microneutralization assays appear more sensitive, but researchers have not agreed on clinical correlates for the method.) She also said the study findings are based on relatively small numbers of patient serum samples.The response in older people could be explained by exposure to a related virus, exposure to a seasonal flu vaccine that provided protection, or that immune response to the new virus might be similar to that of other viruses, Schuchat said. However, she added that CDC virologists have compared the novel strain with past viruses and found that the new one is very different. “It’s not a close genetic match,” she said.She also said experts aren’t very impressed by the prevaccination-to-postvaccination ratio of 2:1 that suggests a weak response to the new virus. “That’s pretty wimpy,” Schuchat said, adding that the ratio for seasonal flu vaccines ranges around 12:1. “Wouldn’t it be great if there was boosting? But we don’t think we have sufficient evidence of that at this point,” she said.CDC. Serum cross-reactive antibody response to a novel influenza A (H1N1) virus after vaccination with seasonal influenza vaccine. MMWR 2009 May 22;58(19):521-4 [Full text]See also:May 6 CIDRAP News story “Fewer senior swine flu cases may hint at protection”last_img read more


German agents in the Split-Dalmatia County

Posted On Nov 18 2020 by

first_imgAt the initiative of the Representation of the Croatian Tourist Board in Germany and the Association of Independent Agencies RTK (Reiffeisen Touristik Kooperation), a study trip was organized in Split-Dalmatia County with the participation of 15 sales agents from agencies that are members of that association. The trip will last until October 14, and the association itself has about 3500 stationary travel agencies in Germany among its members. Thus, RTK agents visited the most important locations in the county, such as Split, Makarska Riviera and Omis. An important part of the visit was a tour of the hotel on the Makarska Riviera and other attractions in the non-board offer.In the second half of September, a study trip was already realized, which was attended by a larger group of 100 agents working in the network of stationary agencies DER Touristika. Thus, the agents, through the cooperation of the Croatian Tourist Board and the Tourist Boards of Istria, Kvarner and Split-Dalmatia County, were divided into four groups and toured almost the entire Croatian coast, all staying at the Valamar Girandella Hotel in Rabac, where they were held. and final presentations. DER Touristik has the largest network of own agencies or partner agencies in Germany, as many as 1500.The CNTB points out that the German market pays great attention to cooperation with travel agencies. They are crucial for better sales of tour operator programs, given that almost 80 percent of programs are sold through agencies. In this way, it tries to further motivate agents to offer their clients various programs that tour operators realize in Croatia and thus encourage a larger number of Germans to choose a vacation in Croatian destinations.last_img read more


easyJet connects Pula and Berlin Tegel

Posted On Nov 18 2020 by

first_imgeasyJet, Europe’s leading airline, announced today the launch of a new route from Pula to Berlin Tegel.So now passengers from Croatia, as well as tourists, have the opportunity to use easyJet to connect with Berlin’s new Tegel Airport.In the summer season, Pula and Berlin will be connected three times a week, on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, starting on August 03, 2018. easyJet has announced 23 new routes from Berlin Tegel Airport and sold more than 3,8 million seats for the summer season since March 25 to October 27, 2018. easyJet offers a leading network of routes from Berlin with a total of 95 destinations from Tegel and Schönefeld airports, providing great value to business and leisure travelers.“I am pleased to announce today a new route from Pula as part of our expansion at Berlin Tegel Airport. easyJet grows rapidly at Pula Airport since the introduction of our first flight in June 2015, Berlin Tegel is easyJet’s ninth destination from Pula Airport, with existing flights to Europe’s major airports including London Gatwick, Milan Malpensa and Paris Charles de Gaulle . The new Tegel Airport service will complement our existing three-weekly flight from Pula to Berlin Schönefeld and strengthen the connection between Pula and the German capital. ” said Thomas Haagensen, CEO of easyJet EuropeBy the way, easyJet flies on the most popular European routes than any other airline. easyJet flies with a fleet of over 280 aircraft on more than 890 routes to over 140 airports in 31 countries, and perhaps the most important fact is that more than 300 million Europeans live within an hour’s drive of easyJet Airport. Traffic connectivity is the first prerequisite for tourism development, and now we “only” have to sell an authentic story as a motive for coming.last_img read more


New attraction for Croatian diving tourism: A sunken Roman ship discovered near Pag

Posted On Nov 18 2020 by

first_imgA sunken Roman ship with hundreds of Roman amphorae was discovered near Pag.The site has yet to be further explored, but it is already certain that it is a new attractive location for diving tourism, which with about 180 diving centers is growing. The program of underwater activities in parts of the sea where cultural property is located is adopted by the Ministry of Culture. for the period from 2014 to 2018 includes 31 protected areas. A new program for a five-year period is expected soon, and the Diving Tourism Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce is cooperating with the Ministry of Culture on future conditions and treatment of these areas in order to improve the competitiveness of diving tourism. “The latest archaeological find in the Croatian submarine has been understood by the Ministry of Culture, that the protection is made in cooperation with diving centers through the installation of video surveillance, other technical protection measures and the application of new methods of presentation and tourist promotion. With a specialized form of tourist and cultural offer, diving enthusiasts are the first on the line in terms of environmental protection of the sea and are extremely aware of the importance of sustainable tourism, ” said the President of the Diving Tourism Association of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Vedran Dorušić, during a tourist dive, participated in the discovery of the wreck of a Roman ship near the island of Pag, which is believed to date from the beginning of the first century BC.In Croatia, there is a deliberate sinking of boats that serve as a diving attraction. The practice is better known as scuttling, and the first ship to be sunk in this way in Croatia is Vis, the flagship of the Yugoslav Navy, located in the Istrian bay of Polje. “Over the last year, there has been better regulation of the profession in Croatia, so any new attraction is more than welcome. Tourist diving has been singled out as a special form of tourism in the new Law on the Provision of Services in Tourism, and providers of tourist diving services have been defined, which has reduced the space for unfair competition. By the end of the year, the adoption of the Ordinance on diving safety is expected, on which we are working intensively with the Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure,”Said Dorusic, adding that the collection of data on diving centers is underway with the aim of promotion on the central page of the CNTB.Dorušić points out that the problem of qualified workforce is still present among the remaining issues of the profession, since in addition to professional qualifications and international certificates, knowledge of foreign languages ​​is also required. Therefore, the Community is considering the development of the concept of simple education of diving leaders, especially for foreign labor, but also to strengthen the popularity of diving among young people in Croatia.  According to the research Tomas Summer 2017 of the Institute of Tourism, diving is a motive for coming to Croatia for more than 6% of respondents, while when choosing activities during their stay, 16,3% of guests choose diving. Most of them are in the group up to the age of 29, 20% of them. According to one of the world’s leading diving organizations, Padi, over 20 new divers have been certified each year for the past 900 years.One of the leading diving destinations in the world is Egypt, to which the diving attraction and wreck of the sunken ship SS Thistlegorm brings more revenue than the pyramids at Giza. RELATED NEWS:Published results of the research “Attitudes and consumption of tourists in Croatia – TOMAS Summer 2017.”Download the complete survey Attitudes and consumption of tourists in Croatia – TOMAS Summer 2017last_img read more


The story behind the new destination portal of Istrian tourism

Posted On Nov 18 2020 by

first_imgToday, cooperation with various influencers is becoming increasingly important in the digital strategy, and the Tourist Board of Istria was the first to implement such a story, through the #ShareIstria project, which has been bringing influencers to its destination for four years. The website includes many service providers in tourism, and by clicking on one of the products, the website provides a handful of information all the way to the final information, which is direct contact with the provider. However, as new service providers are constantly appearing, and all those service providers that are not currently on the web, the Istria Tourist Board invites everyone to contact them and send information about the product or service in order to fit their offer into the new website. Specialized pages of the Tourist Board of Istria The main focus is no longer on b2b information, but exclusively on the user / tourists and the sale of experiences and stories. And as it is imperative today to follow new digital trends, the Tourist Board of the Istrian County has made a redesign of the website since 2019, which has undergone a total turnaround in the approach to the promotion of Istria as our main tourist destination. As I have already written about new website, now I bring a little more detail of how the whole project was conceived. Thus, in 2018, the website was visited by 1.251.852 (2% more than in the previous year) uniqe users, with a total of 1.929.724 sessions and 6.411.742 page views. The results of the campaign are more than excellent. Thus, over 3.81 billion impressions were generated, and an average of 43 million content impressions with the hashtag #ShareIstria on a daily basis during the campaign. The campaign had a reach of 384 million users (the year before 254 million), and the reach of content with the hashtag #ShareIstria on a daily basis during the campaign was 4.4 million. As I mentioned above, the new website is dedicated to the guest, so according to the development guidelines, the content on the page must arouse emotions in the visitor with the key goal of creating a desire to visit, and the primary focus of the page is on “storytelling”. in the charm of Istria. Also, the focus of the content is primarily visual, but shown through a structured “funnel” of visitors, and elements of a personalized approach are provided. The #ShareIstria project in 2019 introduces some innovations Thus, the #ShareIstria campaign in the 2018 edition brought 28 influencers to Istria, and included 8 weeks during which guests discovered Istria and its contents. Each author had the opportunity to publish posts about Istria on their social media profiles for a total of 21 days from arrival at the destination. But apart from reach, one of the most important factors is interaction. Thus, 3.8 million likes were achieved, and an average of 30.500 likes were created on the content with the hashtag #ShareIstria on a daily basis during the campaign, while the best interaction on a daily basis was 225.000 likes in one day.center_img As Denis Ivošević, director of the Istria Tourist Board, points out, the new digital platform unites all destinations in Istria and all products and experiences in Istria, not only through the web but also through the entire platform of social networks and channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube channel, etc.) , and shows the offer of all tourist boards in Istria. “The website is designed and engineered in such a way that the user can access the information or get inspired both from top to bottom and vice versa. What does that mean? This means that if someone is looking for something in Rovinj, automatically through search engines comes to the destination page of Rovinj which is part of the destination of ancient Istria or vice versa, the user may be interested in Istria in general, so the user through interest filters ‘descends’ to Rovinj or gourmet information product. This is exactly what the digital strategy was intended to achieve. “ Ivošević points out and adds that the trend of increasing the number of users who access the destination portal from mobile devices continues. In the case of the mentioned website, 62% of users access it via mobile phones. “Users want to get the requested information quickly and efficiently, and precisely because of this fact, this new destination portal is designed to be ‘user friendly’ (faster, more intuitive and easier to access information) just for the growing number of users accessing from mobile devices.. ” Ivošević emphasizes. Web page www.istra.hr has long been positioned as the main online destination platform for Istrian tourism. And concrete figures speak for themselves. One of the novelties of the new website is definitely the category MyIstria, which serves as a travel planner. Thus, each article has the possibility to be marked and dragged into a kind of basket, thus obtaining a personalized planner. Also, there is a kind of aggregator that through the initial two options (Sport or leisure) leads further to different subcategories or style of discovering Istria. “Travel planner allows users to independently create a program (itinerary), save it and share it with friends, family… For some time now, the ‘chat’ option has been in function, through which the web user can communicate with agents in real time. contact center. In addition to the telephone, this is an additional option through which users can obtain information of interest from agents at any time. ” Ivošević points out. As they point out from the Tourist Board of Istria, the new destination portal is a centralized “online place of Istria”, ie a regional portal from which visually and content-wise harmonized local pages branch off. At the level of Istria, the site has the primary task of inspiring visitors to come to Istria (through strong and visually attractive media content – photo / video), while at the local level the primary task is information. The strategic goals of the new online platform are to position Istra.hr as a central place for inspiring users in the phase of daydreaming and deciding on choosing a vacation in Istria, and to position the site as an informative guide for users within the destination. Also, the goal is to provide a simple upsell of special offers and arrangements through the “affiliate” program and to ensure the standardization of content quality at the regional and local community level. As in previous years, the operational editing of the destination web portal and social networks is done by IRTA (Istrian Development Tourist Agency) on behalf of the Istria County Tourist Board, which leads and financed the development of a new destination portal based on the new Digital Strategy. For the new Share Istria campaign, Ivošević is also announcing some news, such as bringing in celebrity influencers. “For the new edition, we will bring to the destination successful and popular bloggers, photographers and travel writers, better known as travel influencers, with a simple goal: to promote Istria worldwide with the best tourism ambassadors of today. This year we will try to bring a few celebrity influencers who we will try to integrate into the daily life of our partners vin .winery, oilmen hoteliers, hunters, guides so that they experience the daily life of our people, to experience how much effort and knowledge and skills it takes to make one super product, which they promote with a photo and a mini text. In this way, we want to give added value to our producers, and influencers, to feel first-hand the effort and sacrifice invested to produce top quality. Given the complexity of the project, we will shorten the duration of the project depending on how many celebrity influencers we manage to hire”Ivošević pointed out. RELATED NEWS: “As the new destination portal was released online only on January 01.01, it will take a few more months for it to be optimized in all its parts. It is necessary to say that the creation of such a wide digital platform is an extremely complex job.”Ivošević concludes. Denis Ivošević, TZ Istra: The new website is designed and conceived in such a way that the user can access information or get inspired from top to bottom and vice versa.last_img read more