As US President Donald Trump and his allies flooded social media on Wednesday with false claims of victory and unsupported allegations of voter fraud, social media companies warned users that the presidential election had yet to be decided.The posts on Twitter, Facebook and other sites are imposing a real-time test of Silicon Valley’s much-touted rules on handling election misinformation and premature claims of victory.- Advertisement – “We’re testing our democracy experiment, and Facebook hasn’t gotten it right up to now,” Gonzalez said.The false and unfounded claims have evolved over the course of the day. Initially, Trump said he had won (he hasn’t.) Then he said that unanticipated mail-in votes were appearing out of nowhere (in fact they were long-expected.) More recently, Trump’s campaign claimed it had won Pennsylvania (where votes are still being counted.)The claims come as Trump’s lead in battleground states has evaporated as more ballots are being counted in Michigan and Wisconsin, a process that has taken longer than usual as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and extraordinarily high turnout. Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden is projected to win Wisconsin and Michigan.- Advertisement – The extended count is no surprise, and neither was the late swing to Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden, which was widely predicted in the run-up to the vote, including by Reuters. That did not stop Trump and his supporters from repeatedly trying to flood the Internet with unfounded allegations of fraud.Twitter marked three of Trump’s latest tweets, including one making a false claim about “surprise ballot dumps,” as potentially “misleading about an election or other civic process.” It also tagged statements by Trump’s son Eric and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany that claimed victory in Pennsylvania with the disclaimer that “official sources may not have called the race when this was Tweeted.” But it is not clear whether the disclaimers and fact-checks, which often occur well after posts have been shared tens of thousands of times, are curbing the circulation of baseless claims. And in the case of Facebook, staff rewrote the rules regarding state victories on the fly.Critics say that, in environments explicitly built to promote instant sharing and viral posts, bland disclaimers do not cut it.“We’re on the brink here,” said Jessica Gonzalez, co-CEO of the advocacy group Free Press. She said Facebook needed to take down “disinformation about our democracy” rather than just flag it.- Advertisement – Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the “pollsters” got it completely & historically wrong!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2020Facebook also marked multiple posts from the president because votes were still being counted.Even if the disclaimers are curbing the spread of misinformation on their platforms, they have not stopped other media from amplifying Trump’s comments or his claims from hopping from one platform to another.On Fox News, Trump’s tweets have been read out verbatim on Wednesday, sometimes without caveats about their veracity. And on the video-sharing site TikTok, a group called the Republican Hype House shared a video featuring a false claim that Michigan found 138,000 ballots in a lake.TikTok said the video was later removed for violating its policy against misleading information. Fox did not respond to an email seeking comment.Social media companies have been under scrutiny over how they police rapidly spreading false information and election-related abuses of their platforms. In the weeks before Tuesday’s vote, both vowed action on posts by candidates trying to declare early victory.The attempts at policing those declarations began early on Wednesday, when Twitter hid a Trump tweet that claimed “we are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election” behind a label that said it was potentially misleading. The company also restricted users’ ability to share the post.Facebook added a label to the same post, which had about 25,000 shares, that said “final results may be different from initial vote counts as ballot counting will continue for days or weeks.”Facebook said that following Trump’s premature claims of victory it had started running top-of-feed notifications on Facebook and its photo-sharing site Instagram telling users that votes were still being counted and no winner had been projected. It said automatic labels were also being applied to both candidates’ posts with this information.© Thomson Reuters 2020Are iPhone 12 mini, HomePod mini the Perfect Apple Devices for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below. – Advertisement –
Uncapped Wasps prospect Jacob Umaga is present as fly-half cover for Owen Farrell in Ford’s absence, although Eddie Jones also sees Henry Slade and George Furbank as options in the position. Anthony Watson has returned to Bath for treatment – Advertisement –
An invite has to be sent from care receiver’s Alexa app to the caregiver. Once that invite is accepted, the Care Hub will start providing alerts and an activity feed on the caregiver’s Alexa app. It will also let the caregiver speak with the receiver by ‘tap to call’ or ‘drop in’ features. Similarly, there is an option to let care receivers get help from their caregivers by saying, “Alexa, call for help.” This will trigger the voice assistant to call, text, and send a push notification to the caregiver’s phone.Alongside providing alerts and the ability to monitor the health of people who need it, the Care Hub is touted to maintain their privacy. Thus, it doesn’t allow caregivers to look into what exact songs or podcasts the receivers are listening to or what they said to Alexa while accessing their activity feed.Amazon is aiming “to help simplify the remote caregiving experience for both the person providing support and their aging loved one” with the Care Hub. The new offering is, however, initially limited to the US.Which is the best TV under Rs. 25,000? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below. So, when you ask Alexa about the time required for steeping tea, you will be answered saying, “Five minutes is a good place to start,” and then it will ask a follow-up: “Would you like me to set a timer for five minutes?”Amazon explains in a blog post that it uses a deep learning-based trigger model that considers factors including the text of the customer’s current session with Alexa and whether the customer has engaged with Alexa’s multi-skill suggestions in the past. This helps Alexa to suggest a latent goal using a discovery model.“Over time, the discovery model improves its prediction through active learning, which identifies sample interactions that would be particularly informative during future fine-tuning,” the company said.- Advertisement – Amazon Alexa is becoming smarter and is coming with an added capability to guess what users would like to ask after hearing an initial question. The new change is called “inferring customers’ latent goals” and is coming as a result of various “sophisticated algorithms” that help Alexa predict subsequent requests. In addition to the latest update, Amazon has announced that it is bringing elderly-focused Care Hub to Alexa to let users offer remote caregiving to their aging loved ones. The Care Hub for Alexa was announced by Amazon at its product event in September.With the capability to infer latent goals, Amazon Alexa will be able to ask follow up questions on the basis of what you’ve asked initially. This is another step towards a natural interaction experience with the voice assistant.- Advertisement – – Advertisement – Once the discovery model starts suggesting some latent goals, Alexa uses a semantic-role labeling model to look for named entities and other arguments from the current conversation. It also uses bandit learning that leverages machine learning to track whether recommendations are helpful to users.Amazon has already enabled the new experience to Alexa in English for users in the US. Skill developers have also been provided with the Name-Free Interaction Toolkit to make their skills more visible to the discovery model.In addition to the new update, Amazon has made the Care Hub available on Alexa to let users monitor people the well-being of people in need of assistance, especially elderly family members. The new solution requires the care receivers to have an Echo or Alexa-based device, while the person providing support needs to have the Alexa app on their phone.- Advertisement –
In Bellevue, Wash., a small group of parents and students rallied to protest school shutdowns. “I want my teachers to know I’m struggling in school and I need help,” one 15-year-old said. A good read: When students at Loyola University New Orleans, test positive, they get a call from a fellow student. A team of eight student-employees are responsible for calling infected peers to conduct contact tracing. Now, cases are spiking. “It has been absolute chaos,” one student tracer told Emma Ruby, at The Maroon. “It went from four to five calls a day to 26 or 27 calls. I have been working for 15 minutes and called 11 people.” A good read: The pandemic is ripping education apart. Erika Christakis, an early childhood educator, writes in The Atlantic that remote learning is exposing problems with in-person education that have been hurting students for years. Detroit’s public schools have stopped all in-person classes as cases rise. “That NYC’s public schools may have to shut down because the city and state felt they just had to let people dine indoors and workout at a gym says all we need to know about how much our society values public education,” our colleague Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote on Twitter, “particularly when it comes to low-income Black & brown kids.” New Jersey does not yet plan to close its 3,000 schools, the state’s governor said on Thursday. But some individual districts will suspend in-person learning until 2021. Others have had to shift to remote learning because so many staff members are in quarantine. After weeks of cases in the single digits, West Virginia University reported more than 60 positive test results over a three-day period this past weekend. Social gatherings and coronavirus fatigue are to blame, Duncan Slade reported for The Daily Athenaeum. The nation’s largest school system is on the precipice of closing classrooms as coronavirus cases rise.New York City, once the global epicenter of the pandemic, has far lower rates of community infection than most of the country, but the numbers are quickly climbing. On Friday, the seven-day test positivity rate rose to 2.8 percent. If that rate reaches 3 percent, schools are supposed to close, and Mayor Bill de Blasio said that could happen as soon as Monday.- Advertisement – There are no easy solutions to the dilemma. Teachers are understandably worried about contracting the coronavirus at work. Their unions stand firm on holding the city to its promise to close down schools if virus rates cross a threshold.But officials also have to balance the livelihoods of restaurant and other service industry workers, many of them who are low-income and people of color, against attempts to save lives during the pandemic. Officials also have to weigh the survival of today’s economy against the education of a generation of children, as Eliza and our colleague Sharon Otterman reported today.Nevertheless, Eliza and Sharon wrote, “The city appears headed toward a discordant new status quo, asking hundreds of thousands of children to learn in front of their laptops even as New Yorkers are still making indoor dinner reservations.”The takeaway: New York City may soon crack down on children’s movements and ability to learn, even though it’s adults who are spreading the virus. “Ending in-person instruction right now would be a mistake,” The Times editorial board wrote this week in an editorial titled “New York City Must Hit Pause on Indoor Dining.”The cost: Online learning has had severe consequences for students’ academic progress and mental health, for the lives and livelihoods of their parents, and for the pace at which cities and countries could begin to recover from the health and economic catastrophes the virus had unleashed.The global context: Many countries in western Europe have prioritized keeping classrooms open rather than bars and restaurants, even as cases surge. NPR wrote a smart analysis of how Europe has done it. In Boston, students at four public schools may be able to return to classrooms on Monday, although the teachers’ union has not yet signed off on the plan. We’d love to keep featuring student reporting. Please email Amelia with links.K-12 update Parents tell of woes and joysOur colleague Dani Blum asked parents across the country what raising kids has been like during the pandemic. The health crisis started when Cece Flores’s son was 4 months old. Since then, they’ve barely left their neighborhood in Montreal.“From the second I wake up to the moment my son goes to sleep, I am just all hands on him,” she said. “I don’t really get a lot of moments to myself. It’s just 100 percent parenting.”Sign up here to get the briefing by email “The move — which is now regarded by some City Hall officials as a question of when, not if — would be perhaps the most significant setback yet for the city’s recovery,” wrote our colleague Eliza Shapiro, who covers the New York City schools.Hundreds of thousands of parents (including Adam, who has two young daughters in public school) have cobbled together ways to send their kids to classrooms during this fractured school year, even for a few days a week. Rising cases in Minnesota have kept teachers from classrooms. Now, schools are struggling to find substitute teachers, though in-classroom transmission is lower than experts had feared. “I felt like I was trapped in my own little house and everyone was far away,” Aya Raji, a 14-year-old student in Brooklyn, told our colleague Emma Goldberg. “I was so alone. All the sad things I used to brush off, I realized I couldn’t brush them off anymore.”Before the pandemic, she attended class, hosted movie nights for friends and practiced kick-flips with her skateboarding club. Then, when schools closed, she stayed home. Nothing could distract her from the bleak news, as she stared at her laptop for hours during virtual class. She stayed awake until 4 a.m., her mind racing with anxiety.“A lot of adults assume teens have it easy,” she said. “But it’s hitting us the hardest.”A recent study found that nearly one-third of 3,300 high-school students reported feeling unhappy or depressed in recent months. Warning signs include severe risk-taking behavior, significant weight loss, excessive use of drugs or alcohol, and drastic changes in mood, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.A college perspective: “Students in desperate need of mental health resources during a global pandemic were left in the dark,” Bridget Early and Andrew Favakeh, student journalists at Butler University, wrote in an opinion piece about the mental health effects of quarantine. “You are less likely to encounter somebody with infection in a school than you would be outside the school, and not just by a little but by a lot,” Dr. Jay Varma, the mayor’s senior adviser for public health, said last month.And the evidence that indoor dining is a high-risk activity has steadily grown. Restaurants, gyms, cafes and other crowded indoor venues that cater to adults most likely accounted for some eight in 10 new infections in the early months of the U.S. coronavirus epidemic, according to a new analysis that used cellphone mobility data from 10 U.S. cities from March to May.But in New York City — and in other cities across the country that have closed schools or delayed reopenings — restaurants, bars and gyms remain open.- Advertisement – Chronic absenteeism has surged 89 percent among elementary students in 11 California districts, compared with this time last year, The 74 reported. For many, the looming reversal is a gut punch. Schools have posted exceptionally few infections and positivity rates far below the city average. And, as regular readers of this newsletter know, experts say that children, especially those of elementary school age, are not at high risk of spreading the virus.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –
Jun 3, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – Another flock of about 24,000 chickens was sacrificed this week near the site of an outbreak of avian influenza in Texas after screening tests indicated possible infection, according to the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC).A flock of 24,000 chickens in Hopkins County in northeastern Texas was euthanized last week after tests indicated the presence of an H7N3 avian flu virus. This week, preliminary tests of a second flock, located about 5 miles from the first one and owned by the same company, suggested some of the chickens had the virus, the TAHC said in a news release yesterday.”The owners decided to voluntarily dispose of the flock on site at the farm as a prudent pre-emptive measure, even though no increased mortality was noted,” the TAHC said. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. owned the flocks.The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, was doing confirmatory tests of samples from the second flock, but results were not yet available, the TAHC said. The virus has not been isolated from either flock. Officials have said the virus may have low pathogenicity, because there was little evidence of increased death or illness in the flocks.The TAHC statement also said many noncommercial poultry flocks in the area have been tested, but results were not yet available. Tests so far have included 48 flocks within 5 miles of the infected farm and another 53 flocks between 5 and 10 miles from the farm, the agency said.In other recent developments, Canadian officials announced May 28 that all infected poultry in the avian flu outbreak area near Vancouver, B.C., had been destroyed. The announcement didn’t specify how many birds had been killed to contain the outbreak, though officials originally had estimated that the toll would be 19 million. Avian flu was found in 42 commercial poultry flocks and 11 backyard flocks, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).”The response effort is now entering the recovery phase, shifting from depopulation to decontamination and surveillance,” a CFIA statement said. Controls on the movement of birds and bird products will continue, the agency said.
Jul 27, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA), a group that includes 600 companies that distribute half of the United States’ flu vaccine supply, released a report yesterday to help shed light on the some of the supply chain obstacles have delayed vaccine shipments to doctors’ offices.During the 2006-07 season, influenza vaccine producers made a record 120.9 million flu vaccine doses, but 18.4 million of them went unsold amid complaints from many physicians that they received their supplies too late.Earlier this year, public health officials said the vaccine glut was caused by a combination of record production, distribution delays, and a mild flu season. Sanofi, the largest producer of flu vaccines for the US market, had attributed some of the delay to a slow-growing influenza (H3N2) strain. Two other companies—GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis—also said they had problems growing the strain.”The supply came later than expected or arrived in several staggered and/or partial shipments during peak periods of demand,” the HIDA report says. Last season manufacturers shipped 50% of the flu vaccine supply to customers; distributors delivered the other half, which was up from the 35% they supplied the 2005-06 season, the report states.Curtis Allen, a spokesperson for the National Immunization Program at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a previous CIDRAP report that in 2006 no vaccine doses shipped in August, compared with the previous 7 years when millions of flu vaccine doses began shipping in August.The vaccine manufacturing process is a 5- to 8-month process that incorporates at least 15 weeks of lot testing by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the HIDA report says. Scientists must test the safety and potency of each lot of vaccine, both at the monovalent and trivalent stages.Over the course of the most recent influenza season, the FDA’s lot-release process ranged from 21 lots for MedImmune to 85 lots for Sanofi, the group says.This season, vaccine manufacturers have projected they will make 127 million to 132 million doses for the US market for the 2007-08 flu season, another record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Production for 2007-08 could be even higher if the FDA approves a seasonal flu vaccine from a fifth manufacturer, CSL Biotherapies, the US branch of an Australian company. CSL announced Apr 3 it had applied for FDA approval for its vaccine.The CDC and other healthcare experts have pushed for later flu vaccination clinics to help providers and their patients better adjust when vaccine supplies are delayed. Though many flu vaccination efforts focus on early autumn, the CDC says administering the flu vaccine in November, December, January, and beyond is consistent with the recommendations from the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.See also:Jul 27 HIDA press releasehttp://www.hida.org/press_room/display.asp?document_id=10312HIDA vaccine production and distribution reporthttp://www.hida.org/attachment.asp?attachment_id=10509Jan 30 CIDRAP News story “Winter glut of flu vaccine worries officials”Apr 24 CIDRAP News story “Record flu vaccine expected for next season”Nov 13, 2006, CIDRAP News story “CDC launches late-season immunization push”
Mar 25, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – A program to help the nation’s largest metropolitan area deliver medications after a public health emergency such as an aerosol anthrax attack has improved their readiness levels, according to initial findings released yesterday by the Rand Corp.The Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI), administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was launched in 2004 to help cities distribute antibiotics and other medications to 100% of the local population within 48 hours of a bioterror attack or other widespread infectious disease outbreak. The program covers 72 metropolitan are, about 57% of the nation’s population, at a cost of $300 million so far, the Rand Corp. said in a press release yesterday.In 2007, the CDC asked Rand to conduct an initial evaluation to determine cities’ progress on the basis empirical evidence, a CDC assessment of 12 core functional areas, and discussions with countermeasure-dispensing personnel in nine metropolitan areas. The 118-page report appears on Rand’s Web site.The evaluators from Rand reported the CRI has improved regions’ readiness by allowing them to:Increase the number of staff working on countermeasure dispensingStrengthen partnerships with other responders who play key roles in dispensing, such as law enforcement and emergency managementAdopt streamlined dispensing methods that incorporate nonmedical staff and use nontraditional sites such as schools, businesses, and bank drive-throughsPurchase equipment and supplies such as mobile dispensing units and communications equipmentConduct planning activities such as security assessments, training, and exercises”One public health official summed up the situation by stating that these changes resulted in ‘creating’ preparedness where it had not previously existed,” the authors reported.The program’s focus on a single scenario—an aerosol anthrax attack—along with specific targets has helped recipients prioritize their resources and reach out to vital partners, the authors reported. However, they found that areas with decentralized public health systems had a harder time forging relationships with other first responders, often because of the sheer number of jurisdictions.Some topics were difficult to assess, such as CRI’s spillover effect on other public health functions and other cities and regions that aren’t participating in the program, the report said. Also, the evaluators reported that though exercise performance yields some useful data, they lacked appropriate performance standards to assess operational ability.The CRI is worth continuing, authors concluded. They recommended that the CDC reassess the program again in 2 to 3 years, continue developing measurement systems, and keep making improvements in technical assistance and assessment.Aside from evaluating the impact of the CRI, the Rand group recommended that the CDC also consider if the program’s achievements are worth the cost. “Future evaluations could be extended to include assessments of public health risks, risk reduction, and the cost-effectiveness of public health programs,” they wrote.See also:Mar 24 Rand Corporation press releaseMar 24 Rand Corporation initial Cities Readiness Initiative evaluation
OSHA to issue standards for H1N1-related healthcare inspectionsThe US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on Oct 14 that it would soon issue a compliance directive to help its inspectors conduct uniform investigations in high-risk pandemic H1N1 flu settings, such as healthcare facilities. The directive will be designed to ensure that healthcare employers follow controls recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and adhere to OSHA respiratory protection standards.Study: Some H1N1 patients still shed virus a day after fever endsResearchers who studied an H1N1 outbreak at the US Air Force Academy reported today that 19% (11 of 58) of patients were still shedding the virus after they had been symptom-free for at least 24 hours. Also, 7 of 24 samples taken 7 days after illness onset contained viable virus, according to the report published online by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The authors cautioned that virus shedding does not necessarily mean the virus can spread. http://www.ajpm-online.net/webfiles/images/journals/amepre/AJPM_Witkop.pdfAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine studyNovavax launches trial of virus-like-particle H1N1 vaccineNovavax, a US-based company, announced today the launch of clinical trials in Mexico to test the safety and efficacy of its virus-like particle pandemic H1N1 vaccine. Amivex, a company that will distribute the cell-based vaccine in Mexico in 2010 pending approval, is supporting the trial. If initial findings in 1,000 volunteers are favorable, the second stage of the trial will be conducted in 3,000 adults starting in January.http://www.novavax.com/download/releases/NVAX%20MexicoOct%20FO.pdfOct 20 Novavax statementFDA, FTC warn firm to stop selling fake H1N1-related productsThe US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said they issued a joint warning letter to a Web site marketing supplements falsely said to help prevent the spread of the H1N1 flu virus. The Oct 15 letter, the first to be issued jointly by the agencies, warned the site owners they would face legal action if they didn’t stop the deceptive marketing. The FDA said it has warned more than 75 Web sites to stop selling fraudulent H1N1-related products since May.http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm187142.htmOct 19 FDA announcement of warning letterWomen planning pregnancy are advised to get H1N1 vaccineIn a joint statement, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised fertility clinics to urge women who are planning pregnancy to be vaccinated against both seasonal flu and 2009 H1N1 flu. Women who are planning a pregnancy may need to wait a few weeks for the H1N1 vaccine to become available, the groups said. They noted that pregnant women are at risk for serious or even fatal complications of flu.Flu-related visitor restrictions at hospitals raise questionsA number of hospitals around the country have limited visits from children and adults to curb the spread of pandemic flu to patients, though there is little scientific evidence that the measure works, the Associated Press reported yesterday. Some experts say the measures are needed because children are known to spread the virus easily, but others say having visitors benefits patients and that requiring short-term visitors to wear a mask and wash their hands might prevent flu transmission. Pandemic virus found in Ontario turkeys, Oregon ferretOntario officials said today that the pandemic H1N1 virus has been found in turkeys at a breeding farm in the province. The results were confirmed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Oct 16. The farmer had noticed a drop in egg production. Officials said there is no risk of foodborne transmission and that an infected worker may have passed the virus to the birds. Meanwhile, officials in Oregon confirmed pandemic flu in a ferret whose owner had recently been sick with the virus.http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/infores/releases/2009/102009a.htm Oct 20 Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs press releaseTwo Iraqi provinces close schools to prevent H1N1Officials in two of Iraq’s provinces have announced the country’s first school closures to slow the spread of the pandemic H1N1 virus, Agence France-Presse reported today. A 5-day closure in Wassit province starts tomorrow and affects 980 schools, and a 10-day closure in Dhi Qur province starts Oct 22 and applies to 1,477 schools. Both provinces are in southern Iraq. Colleges in the areas will remain open.
After Gračišće, this week in Cerovlje the second charging station for electric bicycles in the area of the Tourist Board of Central Istria (TZSI) was put into operation.In order to further develop and better position Istria as a cycling destination, the installation of the filling station was fully financed by the Tourist Board of the Istrian County. The project was realized in cooperation with the Tourist Board of Central Istria, the Municipality of Gračišće, the company Bosch, which provided electric chargers and the world giant in the production of bicycles, the company CUBE, with which the Tourist Board of Istria has been successfully cooperating for the last four years.The installation of the charging station was financed by the Tourist Board of the Istrian County and the Municipality of Cerovlje, and during the commissioning of the e-bike charging station, Mayor Emil Daus pointed out that the specific relief and beauty of the landscape of this part of Istria is a challenge for professional and recreational cyclists. the possibility of enjoying these beauties and those somewhat less active guests. “In addition to the beauties of nature, with an electric bike you can visit and see the rich cultural heritage, castles in the area of Paz, the picturesque Draguć, churches with frescoes and other sights. He believes that the installation of an e-filling station in Cerovlje, close to shops, cafes and restaurants, is a great contribution to the development of tourism in the municipality.Daus pointed out.There are currently 40 accommodation units in the Municipality of Cerovlje, ie 167 beds, which is an increase of five percent in accommodation units and six percent in the number of beds compared to the previous year. In the first six months of 2017, there were 480 arrivals and 2.575 overnight stays, ie 60 percent more in arrivals and as much as 94 percent more overnight stays compared to the same period last year.During the next week, a charging station for increasingly popular electric bicycles will be set up in the municipality of Tinjan, and by the end of September in the area of TZSI will be marked two bike paths – “Waterfall Trail”, which passes through the municipality of Cerovlje and Pazin and to the pond ”in the area of Tinjan municipality. “The marking of these bicycle paths was nominated in April for the tender of the Croatian Tourist Board to support tourist boards in underdeveloped areas, and the results of the same should be known by the end of July. ” points out Sanja Kantaruti, director of the Tourist Board of Central Istria.Related news: SANJA KANTARUTI, TZ CENTRAL ISTRIA: TOURISTS DISCOVER US SLOWLY, BUT FOR SURE
When we look at the wider sika, the agencies have 500 to 1000 groups this year, while a large number of carriers operate a transportation service for domestic and foreign partners. Terms and contracts are defined and signed, and this Decision directly brings damage, both financial and business, through the damaged reputation of travel agencies and buses. And finally, the reputation of the city of Split and the entire tourist image of Croatia. A new crazy situation is coming to us today from Split. This time it is not the case that someone uses POS apartments for rent to tourists, it is not that construction work lasts after the deadline and thus expels guests and violates the law, nor did someone raise the floor, two more in accordance with the building permit. To make things better, a report was published today. “World Competitiveness 2019”, In which Croatia ranked 60th out of 63 in the world economy. Thus, Croatia is among the last five economies on the competitiveness scale: Venezuela (63rd), Mongolia (62nd), Argentina (61st), Croatia (60th) and Brazil (59th). At first it sounds like great news because order is finally being introduced in traffic, all with the aim of relieving the city center. And that is to be commended and not the subject of debate. However, there are major technical problems, which, if the Decision enters into force, will put both travel agencies and buses in an unequal position, as well as a possible new million-dollar lawsuit against the city of Split for distorting market competition. “With the one-way traffic regime in the City Port, the City strives to improve vehicle flow, reduce congestion and congestion, while the Public City Transport Transport has adjusted the number of bus lines to the new regime, which would expect 45.000 passengers per day instead of the previous 15. are to make the arrival of tourists at the destination as pleasant as possible, so as not to waste time on vacation waiting in columns, but also so that the domicile population would feel less pressure from tourist flows. ” points out Nino Vela, deputy mayor of the city of Split in a letter. Conclusion: The only logical thing would be to extend the decision for the next tourist year, ie for 2020. Issue 2 # Violation of the EU directive on package travel and related travel arrangements No, this time it is a reckless decision of the city of Split that could lead the city of Split to a new million-dollar lawsuit and great damage to the reputation of our tourism. Problem 1 # Changing the rules of the game during the current season Thus, in this case, the city of Split with this Decision, before the tourist season and in the current year, directly harms the agencies by unplanned price increases during the current year. As they point out from the city of Split, the organization of the Main Railway Station in Kopilica and the introduction of the city railway in the public transport service is expected to reduce the pressure of vehicles, especially tourist buses to the city center, and passengers can get to the center by train in 4 minutes which is valid for rail and bus an hour. City trains on the route Kopilica-Gradska luka and vice versa will run every 20 minutes, while the ticket price will be 11.00 kuna per person in one direction. Thus, on the eve of the season, which is outside all the rules in the tourism sector, new tariffs are introduced, in this case even eight times more expensive than before, and a new traffic regulation is introduced, which directly affects travel agencies and tourist buses. Although the letter points out that the daily parking ticket for tourist buses will be 120 kuna, as the price for parking in Dračevac has been so far, the total cost is still increasing for the price of transporting the city train on the route Kopilica-Gradska luka and vice versa. Which means that per passenger, and in one bus there will be about 40 to 50 passengers / tourists, the ticket price will be 22.00 kuna in both directions. That is a significant price increase. Please note, prices and conditions are agreed on an annual basis a year in advance. Who will cover this new cost? Passengers as well as external partners will certainly not, but will refer to the signed Contract and the agreed terms. The new traffic regulation means that one-way traffic will be introduced in the City Port, while the main railway station will be organized in Kopilica. Also, the city railway line Kopilica – Gradska luka is being introduced, so that tourists can get to the city center by train after getting off the bus. How do we deal with market and strategic development when someone makes a decision like this in the middle of the current year without consulting the profession? Specifically, this means that the disembarkation and embarkation of passengers from tourist buses will be organized along the railway platform in Kopilica, where a parking lot for tourist buses with 48 seats will be opened. The daily parking ticket for tourist buses will be 120 kuna, as has been the price for parking in Dračevac so far. The new unplanned cost cannot be passed on to external tour operators as well as to passengers / tourists, which leads to unsustainable financial calculations, as well as violations of the EU Directive and contracts of domestic travel agencies with partners. So, there is also the issue of appeal of all passengers because travel agencies will not be able to deliver to them the disembarkation on the waterfront and the city tour, as it is written in the road program, for which they agreed to pay. The new EU rules provide passengers with detailed travel information, better and more effective consumer protection as well as clearer rules on liability in the event of a problem. Without getting into the discussion about the new price lists, whether the prices are too high or realistic, the key problem here is because the rules of the game are changing during the current year. Until now, the price was HRK 50,00 for boarding and HRK 50,00 for unloading, or a total of HRK 100,00, and now, according to the new rules, the total cost will be eight times more expensive, ie HRK 800,00. The Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA) points out that they held a meeting with the city of Split, and that they expect that the city will still have an understanding and postpone the decision for next year. “We had a meeting in the city and we hope that the city of Split will understand the problems of travel agencies and have an understanding and postpone the decision for 2020.”Points out Tomislav Fain, President of UHPA. But let’s go in order… The City of Split is introducing it from June 09, 2019 changes in the regulation of public urban transport as well as stationary traffic for tourist buses in the area of the narrower and wider city core. Cover photo: Pexels.com The first and basic rule in the tourism sector is that any decision to change prices and conditions is not made for the current year, but only for the next. The reason for this is very simple. A year earlier, travel agencies at tourist fairs and direct contracts with partners agreed on tourist packages, in which all prices and calculations are strictly defined, and the packages have already been sold and defined by the cooperation agreement. If the price of an arrangement changes during the year due to raising the price of the entrance of, say, a museum or interpretation center, then we come to an awkward situation, because the programs have long been sold and leased. The problem arises for everyone in that chain. For both domestic and foreign agencies and for tourists, because the additional cost must be covered by someone, not to mention the seriousness and professionalism, ie the impression we leave towards tourists or foreign partners. So prices are defined in the current year for the next, that is the industry standard. But, unfortunately, in Croatia we still witness how during the year / season (we want to talk about the tourist year, not the season) conditions, prices change, various decisions are made that change the rules of the “game” in tourist destinations, which leads to major problems for travelers. agencies. This directly violates the travel program and puts the travel agency’s situation in an accident, and passengers will seek compensation from the agencies. As the contracts have long been defined and signed, the agencies will have to seek their compensation for the city of Split, as well as compensation for the disrupted business relationship with external partners. New million lawsuit for the city of Split? It can’t be boring in our tourism. Although tourism is one of our main strategic branches, accounting for 19,6% of GDP, and we have been dealing with it for decades, but even if we take into account the fact that we live in the 21st century, it is difficult to remain normal in everyday absurd, illogical and insane situations. which we can witness from day to day. According to the new changes, disembarkation and embarkation of passengers from tourist buses at the terminals near the Tourist Palace on the Riva will be possible, but with a limit of 15 minutes, and each stop for embarkation and disembarkation will cost 400 kuna, ie a total of 800 kuna. The EU Directive on package travel and related travel arrangements, which entered into force in July 2018, will achieve better and more effective consumer protection. We wonder why? This case from Split is a great example of why we are at the bottom of the world competitiveness scale. Even after the warning of the profession and the meeting with UHPA, where in the city of Split they could see that the adoption of the Decision this year, at least, outside all business rules and directly harms the tourism sector, did not delay the decision. Even the Tourist Board of Split only transmitted the news of the Decision, without any public reaction. Some agencies even negotiate terms and lease hotels and various other partners two years in advance, such as in Turkey. That is why now I can offer prices on the market that are far more favorable than in Croatia. Problem 3 # The price of a daily ticket for tourist buses is not the same, but increases by 22,00 kuna per passenger And it all came about due to ignorance, frivolity and lack of communication with the profession, the private sector that is directly affected by this decision. And then we want to deal with the development of tourism, how? According to reports from the city of Split, from June 09, 2019, a change in traffic regulation in the area of the city of Split will be introduced. The only logical thing would be to extend the decision for the next tourist year, ie for 2020. Under the prism of order, disorder is introduced in the middle of the season, and if the Decision enters into force, it could lead to lawsuits against the city of Split because it directly violates the EU Directive on Passenger Protection and directly negatively affects agency passengers and buses. Insane, frivolous, unprofessional and illogical. Please note, this is a change in business conditions during the current year, not a change in the regulation of public transport in the city of Split. New tariffs for agencies – even eight times more expensive than before Please note: All changes to business conditions and price lists should be adopted by the end of March of the current year at the latest.