KUALA LUMPUR: The travel bubble initiative which will be implemented in Langkawi from Thursday will serve as a benchmark for opening more tourist destinations in the country.

In this regard, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri has advised those planning to travel to the resort island for a holiday to be responsible tourists and follow the prescribed standard operating procedure (SOP) because their action will determine the fate of the country’s tourism sector.

“We want to see how Langkawi will impact the entire economic sector, especially the tourism sector.

“This will be a model of our travel bubble.

“We want and hope Langkawi to be a good model to enable us to open more travel bubbles,” she told a press conference at the Parliament building yesterday.

Nancy reminded all parties to comply with the SOP, which includes tourists being required to use transport services provided by travel agencies if they are travelling by land.

Nancy said there were proposals from the private sector to set up a centre for conducting swab tests for tourists going to Langkawi.

“It is a very good initiative, although it is not compulsory for individuals to go for swab tests.

“I have asked them to speak to Lada and I hope they can work together,” she said, referring to the Langkawi Development Authority. — Bernama

MADISON- On September 23, Landon Lee will turn 10 years of age. The fourth grade student-athlete is already making a name for himself among the world of youth baseball as he was selected to represent Alabama in the 10U National All-State Select Championships scheduled for Nov. 20-22 in Marietta, Ga.

The son of Brandon and Melissa Lee and a student at Lindsay Lane Christian Academy, Landon has played for the Knights South travel team and has skipped around the Southeast playing games throughout Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee as a pitcher and first baseman. Playing in the upcoming prestigious tournament is full of excitement and high expectations.

“I feel good about being named to the team and I was a little surprised as I knew there were other good players that could be chosen,” said Landon.

The 5-foot-2 youngster was invited to participate in the 2021 Perfect Game Alabama All-Star Games in Hoover where the three-day event featured skills competition on the first day with games being played the remaining two days. His fastball was clocked at 55 miles per hour and his hitting and fielding talents were assessed by Perfect Game coaches. Three weeks later, his official invitation arrived inviting him to the elite event in the Peach State on a 14-player squad.

“I have fun playing baseball and like the competitive part of game,” said Landon. “On pitcher’s mound I concentrate on my mechanics so I can pitch well. I have a good fastball and a changeup and I’m working on a cutter. At first base, I concentrate on catching the ball and use my height to stretch my body to catch the ball. At the plate, I have base hits and some homeruns while batting fourth in the lineup.”

Landon checked into baseball at age four and soon was named an All-Star in the 6U division as part of the Madison Baseball Association at Palmer Park. He transferred to travel ball a season later and currently hangs his cleats among the 10U Knights South, which includes five players from Madison among its roster. Landon is regarded as possibly the best player on the team.

“My goal is one day play in Major League Baseball for my favorite team the Atlanta Braves,” said Landon. “I practice a lot along with taking hitting and pitching lessons. I sometimes bring a friend over to my house for pitching practice as I have a pitcher’s mound in the backyard.”

Travels for sports is also part of the Lee family in a secondary way as Landon’s eight-year old sister also plays travel softball.

A straight A student in the classroom, Landon is also a strong student of the game. He watches Major League games on television and he and his parents have attended numerous Trash Pandas games at Toyota Field. Studying the game and listening to coaching has made him a solid hitter, a consistent fielder in the field and an accurate pitcher. All of those athletic skills have led him to be

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG) – Malaysia plans to reopen the tourist haven of Langkawi islands as it renews efforts to rebuild parts of the economy worst hit by the pandemic.

Langkawi, in the state of Kedah, will open to locals under a travel bubble plan from Sept 16, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a statement on Thursday (Sept 2). Other destinations will be allowed to operate when the locality’s vaccination rate hits 80 per cent, he said.

Malaysia is preparing for life with Covid-19 even as daily cases remain elevated, mirroring Thailand’s tourism-reopening plan based on a pilot project in the popular resort island of Phuket.

Covid-19 will be treated as endemic and it is time for Malaysians to learn to live with the virus, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said at a briefing on Wednesday.

New infections have soared despite the containment measures, hitting a record 24,599 in a single day late last month and turning the country into South-east Asia’s Covid-19 hot spot. The nation added 20,988 cases on Thursday.

Still, the virus’ effective reproduction rate, or R-naught, has fallen below 1 nationwide for the first time in few months, Ismail Sabri said, amid an increase in vaccination.

More than 84 per cent of the adult population has received at least one dose, and 64 per cent has been fully inoculated, according to the health ministry.

Based on projected data, the average vaccination rate among adults in each state is expected to reach 80 per cent by month-end, and 100 per cent by end of October, Ismail Sabri said.

“Eventually we have to live with Covid-19 as is the case around the world,” he said.

Meantime, Melaka state will move into the second phase, and Negeri Sembilan into the third stage of the national recovery plan from Saturday after meeting the threshold limits in reducing Covid-19 infections, the prime minister said.

The decision was made by the National Security Council, which will now be renamed as the Special Committee on Pandemic Management, he said. The committee will include representatives from opposition parties as well.

BRUSSELS — The European Union is set to advise member states that they should reintroduce travel restrictions for visitors from the United States, three E.U. officials said on Sunday, as coronavirus infections and hospitalizations have surged in the U.S. in recent weeks.

Starting Monday, the officials said, the United States will be removed from a “safe list” of countries whose residents can travel to the 27-nation bloc without additional restrictions, such as quarantine and testing requirements. The suggested restrictions, made by the European Council, will not be mandatory for member countries, and it will remain up to those countries to decide whether or not to impose them.

Most European countries reopened their borders to Americans in June, more than a year after imposing a travel ban, hoping that Americans would visit this summer and help an ailing tourism industry bounce back.

In essence, the European Union gave the United States a summertime pass to encourage tourism, despite the relatively high infection rates in parts of the country.

The threshold for being on the E.U. “safe travel” list is having fewer than 75 new Covid-19 cases daily per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days. The United States has an infection rate well above that threshold, and Covid hospitalizations in the country climbed above 100,000 last week for the first time since January.

Yet while American tourists were able to travel to Europe this summer, the United States has remained closed to Europeans, drawing anger from Europeans and their leaders, who have expressed frustration at the lack of reciprocity.

Travelers from countries on the safe list can usually visit E.U. countries without quarantining by showing a proof of vaccination or a negative test, while those from countries not on that list are barred from visiting for nonessential reasons and can be subject to further testing and quarantine requirements.

Most European countries reopened their economies this summer after vaccination campaigns picked up speed in recent months. Countries like France and Italy, among others, have required proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test result for people to dine in restaurants, visit museums or attend concerts, making Covid passes a fixture of daily life.

The decision to urge the reimposition of travel restrictions on U.S. travelers was first reported by Reuters. European officials who outlined the plan did so under condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly ahead of an announcement planned for Monday.

Other countries expected to be removed from the “safe list” include Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

The European Union overtook the United States in vaccinations last month, with 64 percent of the bloc’s residents having received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, compared with 60 percent in the United States, according to Our World in Data.

To bolster economic and social growth in Africa, the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA) (www.AVCA-africa.org) has announced the establishment of the AVCA Training Academy (“AVCA Academy”) to provide private investment professional development across the continent. This is a first-of-its-kind in the industry and is aimed at supporting private investment professionals interested in Africa, by providing an agile and innovative learning platform tailored to Africa’s dynamic and diverse market.

The AVCA Academy will play an instrumental role in catalysing investment into the asset class by deepening the capacity of African institutional investors to navigate investing in private equity, venture capital and private credit, and by supporting fund managers through their capital raising, deployment and exit journey. Programmes delivered through the AVCA Academy will have Continuing Professional Development (CPD) certification, demonstrating the credibility of the institution and its programmes.

Given the lack of diversity of institutional investor capital in Africa-focused PE and VC funds to date, there is a critical need for the AVCA Academy. Participants will be able to discover the opportunities and challenges involved in investing in Africa through real-life, practical case studies. Through the synchronised learning platform, participants will also be provided with detailed resources to support independent learning.

The AVCA Academy is an educational institution that will provide bespoke content through an immersive and blended learning approach for both remote and classroom-based participants involving subject matter and industry experts from across Africa.

Abi Mustapha-Maduakor, Chief Executive Officer at AVCA said, “The AVCA Academy is our solution to the increasing need for a platform to support first-time fund managers through the fundraising and investment lifecycle. We believe that education is the key to unlocking growth in this sector. Education should provide the inspiration and support needed to get African private equity on track to shape an economic global powerhouse of the future.”

She added, “African institutional investors currently have less than 1% invested in private equity as an asset class so there is work to be done to unlock domestic capital. African pension funds have an additional US$29 billion to invest in PE which could double the size of the African PE industry.”

The AVCA Academy is currently sponsored by FSD Africa – a specialist development agency supported by UK Aid, working to build and strengthen financial markets across sub-Saharan Africa.

Evans Osano, Director – Capital Markets at FSD Africa said, “FSD Africa is pleased to partner with AVCA on this innovative e-learning platform. Leveraging an e-learning platform to deliver high-quality training and knowledge development is particularly relevant given the ability to transcend barriers such as travel restrictions due to COVID-19 and high costs associated with physical training sessions. We believe it will be essential in unlocking a growing institutional investor base in Africa to invest in transformative sectors through private capital markets. Through the Africa Private Equity and Debt Programme, FSD Africa is also supporting research, the development of policy and regulations aimed at improving access

Colorado’s unemployment rate was mostly flat at 6.1 percent in July, compared with 6 percent the previous month, according to a seasonally adjusted survey of households. That compares with a national rate of 5.4 percent. The slight decline in Colorado’s rate was driven mostly by 2,800 people leaving the workforce.

It’s difficult to pinpoint why people are opting out of the labor force, according to state economist Ryan Gedney.

“Some of it could be statistical noise … It could be that we’re seeing retirements, it could be that individuals have to opt out of the labor force temporarily to care for someone, or to watch a child,” Gedney said.

Over the past 15 months, Colorado recovered 290,400 of the 375,800 non-farm payroll jobs lost between February and April of 2020, according to a separate survey of businesses. In July, professional and business services added about 5,000 jobs, while leisure and hospitality added roughly 4,300, the survey found. At the same time, construction lost 1,600 jobs, as did the trade, transportation and utilities sector.

The July surveys were conducted when COVID-19 transmission was still low in Colorado — prior to the Delta variant taking hold. Gedney says the state’s weekly unemployment numbers haven’t changed materially since cases and hospitalizations started rising.

As grounded travellers begin to plan their post-pandemic excursion, there are many factors to consider. After a year and a half of trips marred by restrictions and risk, many of us are craving boundary-pushing, unique experiences worthy of the long wait.

When it comes to choosing holiday destinations, there’s an overwhelming awareness of the great economic impact of COVID-19. Many smaller countries have faced huge losses, with some of the most tourist-dependent destinations feeling the worst of it.

Stasher has scoured the Globe for the dream post-pandemic holiday locations which deserve to be spotlighted as we begin to travel again. Here are the top seven destinations you won’t want to miss out on when planning your next big trip abroad:

Cambodia

Cambodia’s summer runs through Europe’s winter, making it the perfect destination for catching some sun. With a balmy temperature of 30 degrees Celcius through November to April, Cambodia has attractions for all kinds of agendas. Get some much-needed rest on one of Cambodia’s many white sand beaches in Koh Rong, or if you’re looking to explore some iconic history and culture, head to Angkor Wat.

Uruguay

Conveniently situated between common bucket-list destinations Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is often overlooked by tourists travelling through South America. Despite its little-known status, Uruguay is a tropical oasis, brimming with sprawling rainforests home to some of the most exotic plant and animal species on Earth.

Its wide-open spaces and low population density means Uruguay is perfect for visitors wanting to explore on their own terms, providing seclusion among the most stunning of landscapes.

Albania

A true enigma of south Europe, Albania is a hidden treasure trove of history and cultural splendour. Sites such as Rozafa Castle showcase expansive monuments from the past – history which can be found dotted throughout Albania.

The Castle was originally a stronghold for the Illyrians, an Indo-European tribe from Ancient times. The nearby Albanian Alps offer keen hikers a challenge, with mountainous terrain sure to keep any active traveller on their toes.

Jordan

For many visiting the Middle East, Jordan has masses of potential for tourists wanting to experience the greatest natural wonders in the world on a budget.

From sand dune surfing at Wadi Rum, swimming in the sparklingly clear waters of the Dead Sea, or exploring ancient civilisations at the esteemed city of Petra, the possibilities are endless for all kinds of adventurers.

Grenada

Dubbed the Spice Isle, Grenada is perfect for those looking for a low-key island getaway. With a lush green mountainous landscape, soft white beaches, and tall, cascading waterfalls, Grenada is the Caribbean’s best-kept secret when it comes to island paradises.

Seychelles

For those wanting to get up close and personal to the most exotic marine life on the planet, look no further than the Seychelles. Surrounded by a myriad of coral reefs, beaches and nature reserves, there is a wealth of plant and animal life waiting to be explored.

In between discovering new and fascinating species, visitors can soak up

Travelers from the UK to Germany will face softer quarantine restrictions, after altered recommendations from the German public health agency the Robert Koch Institute published on Monday. Portugal, Russia, India and Nepal have also been downgraded.

The change will means simpler requirements for people visiting those countries. People who have had either both vaccination doses, or who can demonstrate they have recovered from COVID, will not need to isolate on their return or arrival.

People who have not been vaccinated will be required to self-isolate, but only for up to 10 days. They will also have the option to leave quarantine early with a negative coronavirus test on the fifth day.

Under the countries’ previous classification, all people reaching Germany were required to self-isolate for 14 days, no matter what their personal COVID status. And only German citizens or residents were permitted to travel from the affected countries, not visitors from places like the UK.

The plan, which kicks in on Wednesday, comes after talks on Friday between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Health Minister Jens Spahn had already hinted last week that a possible change of policy would be forthcoming.

A Lufthansa plane taking off from Frankfurt Airport

Flights between Germany and the UK were restricted to essential travel only

Fears over delta variant

Officials in Berlin had feared that British nationals could spread the more contagious variant known as delta, which was first discovered in India.

But now that new variant is also present in continental Europe, Germany has downgraded the UK to a “high-incidence area”for coronavirus infections.

It is the second highest designation under the German government’s COVID-19 travel rules. Britain had been branded a “virus variant area” since May 23.

Changes to German travel rules

Eleven countries remain on Germany’s “virus variant area” list.

They include Botswana, Brazil, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Uruguay.

A PCR test center at the Sao Paulo International Airport.

Brazil stays on the German blacklist owing to high infection rates

German COVID caseloads have stabilized at very low levels in recent weeks, despite concerns about variants making up a larger share of the cases that remain. The RKI on Monday reported 212 new cases and an incidence rate of 5 new infections per 100,000 people over the last seven days.

jf/msh (AFP, Reuters)

Disney announced that the Disney Dreamers Academy will once again transform the lives of young people in March of 2022. Each year Disney invites high school students throughout the country to apply for one very sought after spot. In fact, only 100 lucky students will receive the all-expenses-paid trip to Walt Disney World to participate. 

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Over four days Disney Dreamers will train in various seminars throughout the parks to improve their communication, leadership and networking abilities. They will also experience valuable mentorship opportunities with Disney Cast Members, industry experts, and special celebrity guests.

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During its history the Disney Dreamers Academy has invited over 1300 students to explore a vast array of career specialties found throughout Walt Disney World. After the pandemic put a wrench in Disney programming in 2020, the Academy went virtual. But next year Disney Dreamers will return in person, just in time to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the program!

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Applications are open now. If you are interested in “dreaming big for your future” you can head on over to DisneyDreamersAcademy.com to apply for your spot!

As always, keep following WDWNT for all of your Disney Parks news, and for the absolute latest, follow WDW News Today on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The U.S. economy likely added back jobs for a sixth straight month in June, with job growth picking up speed alongside the reopening economy. 

The U.S. Labor Department is set to release the June jobs report Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET. Here are the main metrics from the report, compared to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg:

  • Change in non-farm payrolls: 720,000 expected vs. 559,000 in May

  • Unemployment rate: 5.6% expected vs. 5.8% in May 

  • Average hourly earnings, month-over-month: 0.3% expected vs. 0.5% in May

  • Average hourly earnings, year-over-year: 3.6% expected vs. 2.0% in May

Non-farm payrolls disappointed in the past two monthly reports, and worker supply shortages have capped the pace of the recovery across numerous industries. Other data have underscored these challenges, with the Institute for Supply Management’s June manufacturing employment index dipping into contractionary territory for the first time since November, mentions of “shortages” more than doubling in the Federal Reserve’s June Beige Book compared to January, and companies from FedEx (FDX) to Paychex (PAYX) citing difficulties in hiring. 

Still, payroll gains are expected to have accelerated in June to the fastest pace in three months, when an initial wave of reopenings in the spring helped fuel a burst of rehiring.

“A pick-up in payroll growth is likely over the coming months, but it is unclear whether constraints that are causing labor supply shortages will be resolved before September,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics, wrote in a note. 

These supply constraints have also pushed up wages. Average hourly earnings are expected to increase to a 3.6% year-over-year rate, up from the 2.0% registered in May. This would be the fastest pace since March. But wage gains likely decelerated on a month-over-month basis, slowing to 0.3% in June from 0.5% in May. 

“The wage growth is really what I’m going to be focusing in on. Because as we know, the Fed and inflation is really driving markets right now, Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa Financial Intelligence, told Yahoo Finance. “The wage growth is going to be a big contributor to how transitory or how temporary, is inflation.”

The biggest payroll gains so far this year have been in the leisure and hospitality industries, which were the hardest hit in the earlier stages of the pandemic. The labor deficit across these industries — with leisure and hospitality still down by 2.7 million jobs compared to February 2020 levels — comprises the plurality of the 7.6 million total jobs the economy still has left to recover from before the pandemic. 

Some economists and public officials have pointed to the federal enhanced unemployment benefits as one factor weighing on the pace of labor force reentry. While just one of a number of contributing factors, some are expecting a pick-up in filled positions once these benefits sunset across about half of U.S. states over the summer, and across the remainder by early September. 

However, given that the survey week for the monthly jobs reports