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Record-setting wooden building to be erected in Canada

​Ottawa, June 12 (IANS) The construction of a record-setting 53-metre high tower building, using mostly wooden material, is under way on the campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada's Vancouver city.

Its bold and green design aims to demonstrate that building large, wooden structures is not too much complex, Xinhua news agency quoted Russell Acton, principal architect from the building designer Acton Ostry Architects, as saying.

"It's got less of an environmental impact with respect to producing greenhouse gases," he said, adding that the 18-storey building will serve as a student dormitory.

He said the design is hybrid, using concrete for a podium on the first floor, and for two core structures.

"Absolutely, it's as strong. There are particular code requirements, building code requirements we have to adhere to and prove out that it's as strong as a concrete or steel building. It will perform similarly to the same level as concrete or steel when in a seismic event," Acton added.

The dormitory building, named Brock Commons, is designed to accommodate 400 students and expected to be completed by September 2017 with an investment of 53 million Canadian dollars (more than $41 million).

According to the UBC, the wooden material to be used, including cross laminated timber floors and glued laminated timber wall pillars, will be all produced and pre-fabricated in Canada, partly in an effort to boost local forestry industry.

The designers said the structure should last as long as a steel or concrete tower of the same size, or having a life length of about 60 to 100 years.​

World's most expensive airline ticket goes on sale

Dubai, June 3 (IANS) Emirates’ flag carrier Etihad on Friday introduced a London-Melbourne round trip ticket costing more than $80,000.

The carrier offers passengers travel in a luxury three-room suite aboard its Airbus A380 named "The Residence". The plane, described as a “penthouse in the sky”, has all the amenities of a five-star hotel.

The 125 square foot suite was available for single or double occupancy with its own Savoy-trained butler and onboard chef.

It is equipped with a flat double bed instead of confining seats as well as a bathroom where guests may freshen up.

The living room has a 32-inch flat screen LCD TV, as well as two fold-away dining tables and a leather double sofa.

The Residence, according to RT online, makes one stop in Abu Dhabi, where Etihad’s customers are ushered into the first class lounge.

The ticket cost includes private transfer to and from the airport, separate check-in, VIP lounge and a personal travel concierge able to book tickets to sporting event or a concert and reserve a table at a restaurant.

The price is about $4,500 more than the previous most expensive ticket -- a return journey in the Residence from New York to Mumbai.

The Airbus A380 with The Residence on board was launched at the end of 2014 together with Etihad’s revamped first and business class and an upgraded economy cabin.

“Etihad Airways currently operates three daily A380 services from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi, so our guests can now enjoy the convenience and class-leading comfort of an all-A380 service all the way to Melbourne,” said the carrier’s senior vice-president of marketing Shane O’Hare.​

New research to help you beat jet lag

Tokyo, May 30 (IANS) If you are a frequent traveller and get bogged down by jet lag with every flight, help is on the way. Researchers have designed new molecules that can help modify the human biological clock to manage sleep-deprived travellers as well as improve treatment for sleep disorders.

Most living organisms, including humans, have a circadian rhythm or the 24-hour biological clock that regulates functions such as sleep-wake cycles, hormone secretion and metabolism. 

This cycle often gets disrupted in situations like jet lag and sleep disorders like sleep apnea where long-term sleep loss ensues. This may affect cardiovascular, endocrine, immune and nervous systems with severe consequences including hypertension, obesity and mental health disorders, among others.

"We can make bioactive molecules that can control the circadian rhythm of animals and gain further insight into the circadian clock mechanism which will surely contribute to medical applications, food production and advances in clock research," said Takashi Yoshimura, professor at Nagoya University's Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (ITbM) in Japan.

The team synthesised the activity of circadian rhythm-changing molecules and targeted a molecule that affects a specific circadian protein called CRY. 

The findings showed that FBLX3 -- a compound that readies protein CRY for degradation by cellular enzyme -- competes with KL001 -- a molecule that lengthens the circadian cycle -- to preventing its degradation.

They prepared compounds that were similar to KL001, thus synthesising the first circadian shortening molecules that target the CRY protein.

The negative impacts of jet lag and shift work could be significantly reduced if it were possible to reset our 24-hour natural circadian or sleep/wake cycle with the new discovery, the authors noted.​

UAE's Emirates Airline signs deal to promote Jordan tourism

Abu Dhabi, May 30 (IANS/WAM) UAE's Emirates Airline on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding with Jordan Tourism Board to boost tourism in the country, a statement said.

The deal focuses on the growth of key tourist destinations in Jordan which has been an important part of Emirates' network since 1986.

Emirates together with the Jordan Tourism Board will put into effect a range of joint marketing activities, including tourism promotions amongst other initiatives.

"The MoU underscores Emirates' confidence in Jordan's potential as a world-class destination, and we are committed to promoting tourism from key target regions including the Far East, Australia, West Asia and Central and South America," Thierry Antinori, Emirates Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, said. 

Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, managing director of the Jordan Tourism Board, expressed the hope that the common efforts with Emirates will inspire travellers to explore Jordan.​

Japan museum to be registered as World Heritage Site

​Tokyo, May 18 (IANS) The main building of Japan's National Museum of Western Art is scheduled to be registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in July.

Officials of Japan's Cultural Affairs Agency on Tuesday said the International Council on Monuments and Sites, a UNESCO advisory panel, has recommended listing of the building, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The building, located in Tokyo, is the only structure that French architect Le Corbusier ever designed in Japan. He is recognised as the grand master of modern architecture.

Japan, France and five other nations had jointly nominated 17 works by Corbusier in their countries as a single entry on the World Heritage List.

The national museum is likely to be officially listed in July when the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets in Turkey.​

International tourism conference opens in Beijing

Beijing, May 19 (IANS) A key international tourism conference opened in Beijing on Thursday amid hopes it would generate measures to boost global economic growth and social opportunities in the sector.

Tourism officials from over 100 countries were expected to attend the First World Conference on Tourism for Development, organised by the Chinese government and the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), billing itself as an event that would "start a high-level debate" on the industry's contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), EFE news reported.

"Tourism is one of the most dynamic economic sectors, with significant global reach, and as such can make an important contribution to the achievement of the SDGs, particularly in the areas of job creation, sustainable consumption and production and the preservation of natural resources," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang delivered a keynote address at the conference as the China National Tourism Administration said it aimed to promote rural tourism as an effective way to fight poverty.

The conference, which continues until May 21, comes after Beijing approved its 13th Five-Year Plan in March aiming to lift 17 percent of the country's impoverished population -- some two million people -- out of poverty by 2020, according to UNWTO.

The China National Tourism Administration hopes the five-year development plan will generate a total income of over 1 trillion yuan ($153 billion), benefiting 50 million rural residents.

Data from the conference indicates that tourism generated 10 percent of global GDP last year, accounting for over nine percent of the world's employment and an estimated 1 billion international tourists crossing borders. ​

Chinese museums mostly free to visitors

​Beijing, May 18 (IANS) The number of registered museums in China has reached nearly 4,700, with more than 85 percent of them free to visit, a national cultural official said on Wednesday.

By the end of 2015, 4,692 museums were registered and more than 20,000 exhibitions were held annually, drawing 700 million visitors, Xinhua news agency quoted Liu Yuzhu, head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, as saying.

"As public cultural services, museums are significant in displaying civilisation, boosting cultural exchanges and improving morality, science and culture," Liu said.​

International tourism meet in Meghalaya for marketing northeast

Kolkata, May 17 (IANS) Research scholars, policy makers and industry practitioners have come together at an international conference at Shillong in Meghalaya to highlight the tourism resources of north east India and explore marketing strategies in an eco-friendly and sustainable way, the organisers said on Tuesday.

The International Conference on Advancements in Tourism and Hospitality Marketing (ATHMCON - 2016) organised by the Department of Tourism and Hotel Management, North - Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong, spans Tuesday and Wednesday.

"During the conference different themes will be deliberated upon, including eco and sustainable ways of tourism marketing and development," Saurabh Kumar Dixit, Conference Chair and Head, at the department, told IANS.

Dixit said the aim is to create a platform for academicians, research scholars, policy makers, industry practitioners and the budding tourism/hospitality professionals to exchange views, discuss and present research findings related to the marketing of tourism/hospitality products/services in general and for the tourism sector in northeast India in particular.

Members of the scientific committee include experts from India, the US, Israel, Ireland, Germany, Mauritius, South Africa and from several other nations.

Some of the themes include information systems and marketing, marketing of tourism and hospitality education, sustainable/green/renewable marketing, emerging technologies, social media and e-tourism, marketing for special interest tourism products, marketing strategies of third world and developing nations, social and ethical concerns of marketing as well as future trends.​

Thailand shuts down tourism in Tachai island to protect environment

Bangkok, May 16 (IANS) Thai authorities have decided to close down tourism in Tachai Island in the Andaman Sea, to protect the coral and underwater flora and fauna in one of the country's key diving destinations, an official said on Monday.

"The island is closed for an indefinite time. Too many tourists have visited it. They have destroyed the ecology and corals of the island," Efe news quoted the official as saying.

The island will no longer be accessible to tourists after October 15 and the committee managing Similan National Park will evaluate the situation to determine when the recovery period is over.

The measure, however, excludes two diving centres operating in the area, because deep sea diving has a minimal impact on the environment and tourists are educated not to damage nature, said the official.

The freshwater golden snail and the hermit crab that uses the snail's shell for shelter are just two of the species that have been affected by tourism, according to the official.

"When it reopens, we plan to adopt more stringent measures" to control the volume of tourists, he said.

Although Tachai lacks hotel infrastructure and opened its doors to tourism in 2010, its landscape, beaches and location within the Similan National Park -- about 620 km northwest of Phuket -- have rapidly turned it into a tourist hotspot.

Thailand recorded 29.9 million tourists in 2015 and the numbers are expected to surge up to 35 million in 2016 if tourism continues its current pace, according to data from the Tourism Department.​

Harry Potter movie motorbike goes to Liverpool museum

The motor bike and sidecar used in a dramatic chase in one of the Harry Potter movies is to go on display on Monday at the Museum of Liverpool.

It will be a homecoming for the famous motor cycle with magical powers. Part of a dramatic chase in the blockbuster movie was filmed in the road tunnel under the Mersey river linking Liverpool with neighbouring Birkenhead on the opposite bank, Xinhua news agency reported.

The bike belonged to Harry Potter's loyal friend, the giant Hagrid, gamekeeper at the Hogwarts School, played in the movies by British actor Robbie Coltrane.

The machine will be on display at the museum until June 9.

In the film "Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows Part 1", the quirky motor cycle combination which was originally owned by Harry's godfather Sirius Black, has a starring role.

Its big moment comes in a hair-raising scene as Harry, played by the actor Daniel Radcliffe, and Hagrid embark on a dangerous and dramatic chase through an underground road tunnel, which was actually filmed in the Liverpool tunnel.

The poster for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1" features in the museum's popular exhibition Reel Stories: Liverpool and the Silver Screen (on display until September 2017), a celebration of Liverpool's starring role in films from the past 60 years through original film posters and memorabilia.

Museum urban history curator Paul Gallagher said: "We are delighted to be able to show Hagrid's bike during the run of our Reel Stories exhibition which examines Liverpool's remarkable ability to be a backdrop for filmmakers."

"We hope the motor cycle will be a hit with Harry Potter fans and film buffs."

For the technically minded, the actual bike is a Royal Enfield, Bullet 500 with a 499cc petrol engine. It was registered in 2009 and modified for the film in the same year, with a sidecar fitted.

The bike is on loan to the Museum of Liverpool from the Warner Bros. Studios, makers of the Harry Potter films.​

​London, May 15 (IANS)