SA scenery the best in the world

first_img13 December 2006The locals have long known it, and now UK visitors agree: South Africa is the most beautiful country on earth. In the 2006 Reader’s Travel Awards by UK magazine Conde Nast Traveller, South Africa’s scenery scored 97.8% – the highest in the world – with the country being voted the world’s fifth-best tourist destination.Now in their ninth year, the awards come out of a comprehensive survey of readers’ favourite hotels, spas, cities, countries and more, based on a range of criteria that are then compiled into a score out of 100. In the country category, South Africa’s overall score was 94.2% – putting it ahead of other destinations such as Thailand, France, the US, Greece and Malaysia.This is the sixth year in a row that South Africa has been ranked as one of the world’s top 20 destinations. In 2005 the country came in at ninth place, up from 13th place in 2004. The top country in 2006 was Italy, with a score of 95.57%, followed by New Zealand (94.81%), Australia (94.44%) and India (94.42%).South Africa’s hotels and spas were also rated among the best in the world, with six establishments making it onto the top 20 list of leisure hotels in the Middle East, Africa and the Indian Ocean islands. Clinching second position in this category was the multi-award-winning Singita Private Game Reserve, with an overall score of 95.6% and a top score of 97.95% for service and staff.“Singita provides the ultimate sophisticated safari experience,” Conde Nast says of the reserve. “Three ultra-luxurious safari lodges (colonial Ebony, Afro-chic Boulders and converted farmhouse Castleton) are situated on an 18 500-hectare concession in Sabi Sand Reserve, bordering the Kruger National Park. Sophisticated, pan-African cuisine and a 35 000-bottle wine cellar bring civility to the bush. The goal-orientated game-viewing with knowledgeable, likeable rangers is excellent.”The other top South African hotels in this category, according to position and score, were:5 (94.2%) – Londolozi Private Game Reserve, Mpumalanga 9 (92.02%) – The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, Cape Town 13 (86.36%) – The Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town 18 (82.89%) – Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, Mpumalanga 20 (81.45%) – Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa, KnysnaThree South African establishments also made it onto the list of the world’s top 15 hotel spas outside the UK. These were the Sanctuary Spa at the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Cape Town, in sixth position with a score of 88.67%, the Altiraspa at the Arabella Sheraton Grand Hotel in Cape Town (eighth position, 87.25%), and the Pezula Resort Hotel and Spa in Knysna (13th position, 83.67%). The Altiraspa was also singled out for its amenities and products (97.5%), and service and staff (95%).In the Top 100 category of the Readers’ Travel Awards, Conde Nast ranks the overall winners in all categories by their scores. Again, South Africa and its hospitality industry did well, with Singita Private Game Reserve in fourth position.The country’s other winners, according to position and score, were: 21 (94.2%) – South Africa (country) 22 (94.2%) – Londolozi Private Game Reserve, South Africa (hotel) 48 (92.02%) – The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, Cape Town (hotel) Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Small farmers ‘need more support’

first_img23 October 2012 President Jacob Zuma has urged stakeholders in South African agriculture to find ways of providing tenure security for communal farmers, to increase support for emerging farmers, and to consider a new approach to land reform in the country. “We need to find ways of providing tenure security for communal farmers, and investigate better ways of financing land reform so that new farmers do not become saddled with debt,” Zuma at the African Farmers Association of South Africa (Afasa) gala dinner outside Pretoria on Monday evening. Zuma said South Africa was planning for what its agriculture sector would look like in the next 30 years through the National Development Plan produced by the country’s National Planning Commission. ‘More support for emerging farmers’ South Africa’s commercial farming sector, comprising an estimated 37 000 members, currently produces 90 percent of the country’s agricultural output. On the other hand, there are 25-million people live in SA’s rural areas, producing 10 percent of agricultural output through subsistence farming. Zuma said more support for emerging farmers would enable the government to improve the participation of black South Africans in commercial agriculture. He said 11 000 new smallholder farmers had been established since 2009, with a target of 50 000 having been set for 2014. Support has been provided to both new and long-established farmers through various state programmes, including Letsema, the Recapitalisation and Development Programme, and through funding agency Mafisa. Despite this support, Zuma said, only a marginal number of 5 381 smallholder farmers were involved in agri-businesses, and a mere 3 910 were linked to markets. “To achieve further success, smallholder farmers require a comprehensive agribusinesses support package, including favourable commodity pricing, access to finance, provision of technical expertise and mentorship, and contracted markets,” he said.Land reform: lessons learned On the question of land reform, Zuma said that the government had made a commitment in 2009 to transfer 30 percent of the 82-million hectares of agricultural land which was white-owned in 1994 to black people by 2014. This 30 percent translates to 24.5-million hectares. “Between 1994 and December 2011, 3.9-million hectares were redistributed through the land acquisition and redistribution programme. We have learned a number of lessons from the exercise.” According to Zuma, one major lesson was that the process of acquiring and distributing a particular piece of land was often lengthy, which escalated the cost of redistribution because the previous owner stopped investing in the land. He said many farms were in a poor state of repair at the point of acquisition, contributing to a decline in productivity on redistributed farms. This led to the adoption of the Recapitalisation and Development Programme in November 2010. By December 2011, 595 farms were in the process of being rehabilitated under this programme, mainly through rebuilding infrastructure.Land reform: new approach put forward Taking these issues into account, South Africa’s National Development Plan proposes a district-based approach to land reform and its financing. It proposes that each district should establish a land reform committee where all stakeholders can be meaningfully involved. The committee would be charged with identifying 20 percent of the commercial agricultural land in the district and giving commercial farmers the option of assisting in its transfer to black farmers, in line with the government’s land reform targets. The implementation of this land reform proposal would entail identifying land that is readily available from land that is already in the market; land where the farmer is under severe financial pressure; land held by an absentee landlord willing to exit; and land in a deceased’s estate. In this way, land could be found without distorting markets. After being identified, the land would be bought by the state at 50 percent of its market value, which is closer to its fair productive value. The shortfall of the current owner would be made up by cash or in-kind contributions from the commercial farmers in the district who volunteered to participate. In exchange, commercial farmers would be protected from losing their land and gain black economic empowerment status.Land reform: spreading the cost Zuma said this would remove the uncertainty and mistrust that surrounds land reform and the related loss of investor confidence, adding that a stepped up programme of financing should be created. “This would include the involvement of the National Treasury, the Land Bank as well as established white farmers. The model envisages that the cost of land reform be spread between all stakeholders. It also envisages new financial instruments being designed for the purpose of facilitating land reform. “These could include 40-year mortgages at preferential rates for new entrants into the markets, as well as land bonds that white farmers and others could invest in.” Zuma said this was an innovative proposal that needed to be tested, and that it would be useful to hear from members of the farming sector if they would support such an approach. Zuma said South Africa’s food security situation was too serious to leave to short-term planning only. “Our long-term vision document, the National Development Plan, forecasts that by 2030, more than 70 percent of South Africa’s population will live in urban areas, compared to just over 60 percent today. “Even with these changes, rural areas will remain home to millions of our people. We know this because there is also considerable movement within rural areas resulting in a consolidation into denser settlements,” Zuma said.Agriculture and job creation The National Development Plan argues that agriculture is the primary economic activity in rural areas and has the potential to create close to one-million new jobs by 2030; Zuma said this could be done by expanding irrigated agriculture. “There is evidence that the current 1.5-million hectares under irrigation can be expanded by at least 500 000 hectares through more efficient use of existing water resources and the development of new water schemes,” he said. Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, also speaking at Monday night’s dinner, said the government was working extremely hard to assist smallholder farmers to become commercial farmers. “We are working very hard to turn rural areas into commercially viable zones. We are trying to eradicate deeply entrenched poverty in rural areas through programmes that will overhaul the entire social system. “We need to decisively move so our programmes translate to visible change in our communities,” she said. Source: read more

Outbox Rolls Out In San Francisco: Plans To Bring Snail Mail Into The Digital Age

first_imgWhen Will Davis and Evan Baehr met for the first time in Cambridge, Mass., in 2009, they already had a shared history. Though they didn’t know each other then, both Davis and Baehr worked on Capitol Hill as legislative aides before enrolling in Harvard Business School. It was there, at Harvard, that the two men realized that business – and not politics – could be their avenue for instituting meaningful change.“Peter Thiel picked up the idea of a passionate way of tackling public problems was by starting a business,” says Baehr, who originally wanted to help solve the world’s many problems through legislation after graduating from Princeton. “But I became frustrated with how government would try and solve problems.”Davis, on the other hand, arrived at a partnership with Baehr after becoming “a complete acolyte of disruptive theory.” A series of investigations led him to the realization that the U.S. Postal Service was ripe for such disruption. “I needed a Dropbox for my snail mail,” he recalls. An Inbox for Snail MailThat idea – a way to organize, in the cloud, every aspect of your physical mail – is the crux of the two men’s venture, called Outbox, that is opening up to public beta in San Francisco on February 26 after a 6-month test in Austin, Texas, in 2012.Outbox seems remarkably simple – for $4.99 per mailbox per month, the company picks up your mail, scans it, and lets you access every item digitally, through your iPhone, iPad or computer. If you want the physical version of a piece of mail, you designate the item to be delivered, and Outbox drops it on your doorstep. That’s it. Say you move frequently, or you simply are flooded with junk mail but can’t help wasting time sorting through the mess. Outbox wants to change all that.“We turn the model on its head, getting to a new system where the user has full control over their postal mail,” Davis says. Disrupting the entire U.S. Postal Service might be a ways down the line, but the Outbox team is confident that it is the future of mail. Sights Set On The USPSHere’s a hint: The Outbox employee who picks up your mail in a white Toyota Prius is called an unpostman. Related Posts Davis remembers thinking, “We have actually got to attack this market at the core, which is the platform… and the platform is that little metal box.” Postal mail is a $900 billion industry in the U.S. – in 2011 alone, 168 billion pieces of mail were delivered. According to the most pessimistic forecast they could find, Davis and Baehr will still be fishing in a sea of more than 100 billion pieces of mail in 2020.“You come to the realization that it’s not a perfect market that is dealing with completely transparent and moveable participants,” Davis says of the USPS. “You have one participant who is dealing in the bounds of the law and the constructs of a regulated monopoly, and everyone else has to engage with that monopoly power in different ways.” “We decided, ‘Hey, someone should go and build out what a postal network should look like,’” Davis adds. In Austin, Discovering A New Ad PlatformWhat began last summer in Austin was a careful attempt to find out what really bugged people about dealing with heaps of physical mail. The company spent months interviewing some 100 families about their mail. Then they began a 500-person closed beta to collect data and plan for the next phase.The process taught them a great deal. For one, it taught then about junk mail. “The interesting thing though is that when you start talking to people about junk mail, it’s in the eye of the beholder,” says Baehr. “Junk mail is made junky when it’s not targeted and not relevant.” A long-term hope for Outbox is to dramatically shrink the amount of marketing content people receive in postal mail, from approximately five items a day down to one or two.For packages, especially ones like Netflix DVDs or Amazon orders, the Outbox team assumes people wanted them delivered to their doorsteps right away. Tags:#e-commerce#email#Government#startups They also discovered that for people to trust them with something as sensitive as paper mail, they would need a very carefully constructed security system. They began with $1 million in identity theft insurance, and invested in secure encryption of the files Outbox was creating from scanned mail. The company shreds any item not requested for delivery within 60 days.Moving Beyond The Post OfficeBut junk mail and packages were only the beginning for Outbox. “What we are building is not dependent on the physical postal system,” Davis claims.Outbox’ long term vision is to create a unique new marketing platform to replace junk mail in a way that saves them money and provides better insight. “We’ve looked at all the digital catalog apps and they’re failing miserably in terms of engagement,” says Baehr. “The way people discover that content is through serendipitous arrival. They found it because they went to their mailbox.”What they didn’t do, adds Baehr, is go to the app store and see if the catalog was pushed to her device, or go find it and download it. “The first important thing is discoverability, so by grabbing hold of the tradition of checking mail, we can build a communication channel where people actually expect to get marketing content.”Outbox envisions a day when advertisers can target a specific subscriber with an offer via mail, say for a sample of makeup, and the customer can find the ad in their Outbox app and request the sample for delivery. “We’re creating this delivery platform where we are in neighborhoods delivering content,” says Baehr. “You begin in the digital and it translates to the physical.”National AmbitionsWith $2.2 million in funding from investors like Peter Thiel and Mike Maples of Floodgate, the company chose San Francisco for a full-blown launch. “It was the tougher logistical choice to make to come to San Francisco over New York City,” says Davis. “New York, from a postal perspective is easier to service,” with higher population density and a more regimented system of mailboxes.The decision to move to the West Coast boiled down to the desire to get Outbox in the hands of early adopters. “When you think of hyper local distribution networks, think TaskRabbit or Uber, those [services found acceptance] from early adopters in San Francisco, so we decided to come here,” Davis says. After onboarding their first customers in just four weeks, the company is already looking at new markets. “Once we get this nailed, San Francisco really does translate well into New York,” Davis says, “and then Chicago, Boston, DC.” When not sleeping in the Outbox warehouses to ensure everything runs smoothly, Davis and Baehr are busy thinking big. “When you start enabling the receiver to have full control of what can be sent to them,” Davis says, “everything falls with a domino effect – if you can scale it.”Images courtesy of Outbox. nick stattcenter_img How to Get Started in China and Have Success China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … What Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Star… How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culturelast_img read more

Torres knocks out Osenio, Kelly scores stunner in ONE prelims

first_imgPhoto from ONE ChampionshipJomary Torres continued her sensational ascent to the top of the women’s atomweight division as she knocked out April Osenio in the preliminary matches in ONE: Global Superheroes Friday at Mall of Asia Arena.The 21-year-old Zamboangueña wiggled her way out of the Team Lakay bet’s armbar on her right arm, lifted Osenio and slammed her to the mat.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Photo from ONE ChampionshipAlso, Edward Kelly hardly broke a sweat as he scored a three-hit combo knockout of Meas Meul.The Team Lakay featherweight fired a pair of solid punches and immediately nailed the high knee to the Cambodian’s jaw, stunning the challenger and prompting the referee to call for the bell at the 21-second mark of the first round.It was an emotional victory for Kelly, who finally achieved success in front of his home crowd.“Last time, I trained really well and I ended up with a loss. I was really disappointed,” he recounted. “But now, this is what happened. I’m so happy, not just for myself, but for my team and I hope my teammates will also get the win.”Kelly bounced back from his loss to Emilio Urrutia back in August to rise to 10-4, while Meul suffered his first defeat and dropped to 8-1.ADVERTISEMENT Federer reaches 7th Australian Open final after Chung retires Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises In the other preliminary fights, Rajinder Singh Meena (9-7) made quick work of Zhang Ze Hao (2-1), making his Chinese foe tap out to his guillotine at the 42-second mark of the opening round.Indonesian strawweight Adrian Matehis (4-3) submitted Eddey Kallai (0-3) with a rear-naked choke at the 4:15 mark of the first round to keep his Malaysian foe winless in the promotion. Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:42Stars face off at ONE: Dawn of Heroes01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Torres punctuated her emphatic win by pummeling Osenio with strikes to take the knockout victory 40 seconds into the match, the fastest victory in the women’s division of ONE Championship.Triumphant in the clash between the Filipinas, the undefeated Torres (4-0) now looks on to bigger things, saying she’s willing to take on all comers in her continuing journey in the promotion.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“I’m thankful to God that He gave me this win and I also am grateful for my coaches who put their trust on me,” she said in Filipino. “I’ll just accept whatever ONE gives.”Osenio, meanwhile, remains in search of her first win since returning to the cage as she fell to a 2-4 record. LATEST STORIES Read Next View comments NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s weddinglast_img read more

Rafael Nadal confident arriving in Madrid despite disappointing run

first_imgThat year, Nadal was coming off a series of injuries and ended not reaching the final of either tournament. He also didn’t win the title in Madrid, Rome and the French Open, dropping out of the top five in the rankings for the first time in a decade.Now things are different, though. Despite the disappointing results, the second-ranked Nadal says there is no reason for concern.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logistics“My confidence is back,” Nadal said after the semifinal loss to Dominic Thiem in Barcelona, which ended his run of three straight titles in the tournament. “I really believe that I made very good improvements to create a good base to try to achieve my goals during the next couple of weeks.”Nadal will be trying to win his third straight French Open title — and 12th overall — at Roland Garros in June. DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew Spain’s Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Austria’s Dominic Thiem during their semifinal match at the Barcelona Open Tennis Tournament in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, April 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)MADRID — Rafael Nadal hadn’t started the clay-court season with these many setbacks in four years.Not since 2015 had Nadal arrived at the Madrid Open without having won a title either in Monte Carlo or in Barcelona, the tournaments that mark the start of clay swing in Europe.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Panelo: Duterte ‘angry’ with SEA Games hosting hassles Hontiveros presses for security audit of national power grid He lost to Fabio Fognini in the semifinals at Monte Carlo, where he also had won three titles in a row. The only other time Nadal hadn’t won either in Monte Carlo or in Barcelona was in 2014.“Against Fognini I played the worst match probably in 14 years on clay. (Against Thiem) I played a good match. I was competitive and I enjoyed the match. I really felt competitive for the first time in a way that I want to feel myself. I am happy and I am confident that I made a big improvement.”The 17-time Grand Slam winner has won a clay-court title in each of the last 15 seasons. He is an eight-time finalist in Madrid, with his last of five titles coming in 2017. He was defeated by Thiem in the quarterfinals last year.Nadal will start this year’s campaign against the winner of the match between young Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime or Denis Shapovalov, a semifinalist last year. Auger-Aliassime is one of the sensations on tour this season, having reached the final in Rio and the semifinals in Miami.The other half of the Madrid draw has top-seeded Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who will be making his return to clay-court tournaments after two seasons. The 37-year-old Federer, a three-time champion in Madrid, is preparing to make his first French Open appearance since 2015.ADVERTISEMENT Rookie France Ronquillo gives FEU lift in Final Fourcenter_img Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Ethel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue Philippine Arena Interchange inaugurated LATEST STORIES Federer hasn’t played on clay since Rome in 2016, but is looking for his third title of the season to add to his triumphs in Dubai and Miami. The only other player with two titles this season is Thiem, who beat Federer in the Indian Wells final. Federer and Thiem could meet in the quarterfinals in Madrid.The defending champion in Madrid is Alexander Zverev, the German who did not drop his serve in his winning campaign last year. He will start this year’s tournament against David Ferrer, the veteran Spaniard who is retiring following the tournament in Madrid.Petra Kvitova will defend her title in the women’s side. The second-seeded Czech is a three-time champion in Madrid and the tournament’s most successful women’s player with 27 wins and six losses. Naomi Osaka is the top-seed player this year in Madrid.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games messlast_img read more