A new National Park Service (NPS) report says that 12,877,369 visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2013 spent $782,926,000 in communities near the park. The report says spending supported 11,283 jobs in adjacent communities.The 2013 economic benefit figures are slightly lower than the 2012 results, which reported visitors spent $902 million in local communities.Tourism officials across the Parkway region in North Carolina and Virginia say the rise in popularity of outdoor recreation helps. “Watauga County in western North Carolina’s High Country saw a rise in occupancy tax revenue over last year,” said Wright Tilley, Executive Director of Boone & Watauga County Tourism Development Authorities. “We know our visitors are looking for hiking experiences and the Parkway is the most popular starting point.”The report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with more than 197,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.According to the 2013 economic analysis, lodging (30.3 percent), followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.3 percent), and souvenirs and other expenses (10 percent) made up the spending. The largest jobs categories were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state. The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas, Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service.Learn more about the Parkway at www.nps.gov/blri.
The European Parliament has approved the negotiating mandate for European Commission plans to increase the regulation of benchmarks in the wake of the LIBOR and EURIBOR scandals.The Parliament cleared the way for trialogue negotiations between itself, the Commission and the European Council on the format and implementation of the regulations.In September 2013, after discoveries of manipulation in the LIBOR and EURIBOR benchmark rates by market makers, the Commission consulted on how it should approach regulating the markets before deciding on regulation.Its current proposals aim to address conflicts on interest within rate setters, increased governance, transparency and oversight alongside a code of conduct and additional due diligence. Negotiations between the three pillars of the European Union will start next month, the Commission said.“The proposed EU rules aim to improve the functioning and governance of benchmarks that are produced and used in the EU in financial instruments such as bonds, shares, futures or swaps,” it added.Jonathan Hill, EU commissioner for financial stability, services and capital markets union, said it was the consumers who foot the bill of manipulated and unreliable benchmarks.“Our proposal will put in place rules for safer benchmarks across the EU,” he said. “I am confident we can now move swiftly to find an agreement on a final text.”The Index Industry Association (IIA), the lobby group for index providers, said the vote demonstrated an important milestone for effective regulation for benchmarks.“[The IIA] welcomes the overwhelming vote of support for the regulation,” it said.“In particular, IIA supports the proportionate and pragmatic approach taken by the European Parliament, which will help to restore confidence in the markets where problems have emerged.”The work, conducted by the Parliament’s ECON committee, was criticised over one aspect of the bill gone forward.“[We remain] concerned by the Parliament’s proposal to the introduction of price regulation through legislation,” it said. “[We hope] policymakers will be able to make significant progress towards a final agreement through fruitful trialogue negotiations in the months ahead.”In a survey done last year, academic think-tank EDHEC Risk-Institute showed investors were not satisfied with the increased governance requirements on index and benchmark providers and said transparency was key to manage conflicts of interest.The Commission consultation began in 2012 before its decision to press ahead with regulation a year later.The former commissioner for internal markets, Michel Barnier, said the unacceptable behaviour by banks undermined confidence in markets but that increasing sanctions would not be enough to ensure compliance.In February, the EU Council threw its support behind the proposed new rules, allowing the Commission to see the agenda through parliamentary approval.The Commission said a final draft of regulatory measures would be seen and implemented as soon as possible.
Spit Fyah, Fort infeature clashJoint leaders Spit Fyah (24 points) and fourth place Fort International (17 points) will clash in the feature match at Passagefort Drive in the City of Kingston Credit Union-sponsored Portmore Domino League tomorrow morning, starting at 11 o?clock.Co-leaders Right Stuff (24 points) should get the better of Passagefort United at Gem?s Bar, Waterford. Other matches on schedule (home teams named first) include Highlight Strikers vs Materpiece, Eradication vs Waterhouse United, Feluchie Strikers vs Soursop Tree, Naggo Head vs Correctional Services, Exceptional International vs Unity Strikers, Garveymeade vs Chedwin Strikers and Spring Village vs Ken?s Wildflower.In last Sunday?s games,Spit Fyah and Right Stuff remained unbeaten as they chalked up their sixth straight win. Spit Fyah whipped Naggo Head 300-241 and Right Stuff defeated Memory Lane 300-281, while third place Exceptional International (17 points) lost their first game, going down 300-287 to Waterhouse United (14 points).Mega Angels winnetball titleMega Angels carved out a narrow 44-41 win over arch-rivals Westchester to cop the inaugural South East St Catherine Neball League title in an exciting final on Ash Wednesday at the Westchester Community Centre.Mega Angels walked home with $50,000 for winning and Westchester received $30,000 for taking the runners-up spot.Pro-Santos B defeated Passagefort Strikers 40-23 to take third place and a cash award of $20,000.Meanwhile, Mega Angels were adjudged the Most Discipline team; the Best Attacking Player award went to Marcella Thompson of Mega Angels and Fiona Archibald from Westchester pocketed the Best Defensive Player award.The league was created through a joint venture between the Social Development Commission (SDC) and Colin Fagan, the Member of Parliament for South East St Catherine.Braeton stun Cumberland 5-2Braeton United stunned Cumberland 5-2 as action continued in the York Pharmacy-sponsored Portmore Division Two Football League.Jamie Morgan, Bale Boland, Ricardo Bernard, Shemar Malcolm and Kevin Williams put their names on the scoresheet for Braeton. The win propelled Braeton to 16 points and assured them top spot in the standings and a semi-final berth. The Cecil Morgan-coached Braeton are also in the KO semi-final.In other games, Edgewater (13 points) clipped Waterford 1-0 and are through the semi-finals, while Racing thumped Daytona 4-0. Cedar Grove (12 points have also qualified for the semi-finals.Dunbeholden, Reid?s Pen draw 1-1Dunbeholden and Reid?s Pen shared the points in a 1-1 stalemate as the Portmore leg of the Institute of Sports (INSPORTS)/All Island Community Football League kicked off, at Dunbeholden on Sunday.Christopher Caruthers scored for Dunbeholden from the penalty spot in the 52nd minute, while Rajat Genius equalised for Reid?s Pen in the 86th minute.