A new approach to tourist accommodations will help ensure a quality experience for visitors and reduce the regulatory burden for operators. Bill Dooks, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, introduced a bill today, May 2, to repeal the Tourist Accommodations Act, which requires accommodation properties to be licensed. Instead of licensing, operators who want to be promoted by the province must participate in a recognized quality program. “Visitors to Nova Scotia will be assured that the properties we promote meet industry standards for quality and cleanliness,” said Mr. Dooks. “Operators will face less red tape and enjoy the freedom to choose the type of quality program that best suits their business needs.” To be eligible for provincial marketing programs – such as novascotia.com, Doers’ and Dreamers’, or the Check In Nova Scotia Reservation Service – operators must choose one of several quality programs. They can participate in any of the recognized rating programs such as Canada Select or the Canadian Automobile Association’s diamond rating program. More than 60 per cent of accommodations operators are rated through a recognized rating program. They will automatically be eligible for provincial marketing programs, and will save anywhere between $80 and $800 previously spent on licensing fees. The other option for operators who want to be included in provincial marketing programs, but who do not want their property rated, is to participate in the new accommodation quality program led by the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia. The association is working with the industry to develop and lead the new program, which will include a set of quality standards for accommodations properties. “We are pleased with the move toward less regulation and the concept of promoting only those businesses that meet quality standards as part of the Nova Scotia brand,” said Susan Tilley-Russell, chair of the association. “Moving forward, we are confident that this industry-led approach will enable us to improve the quality tourist accommodation throughout Nova Scotia.” While quality will be industry led, safety issues will continue to be dealt with through other legislation. Accommodations operators who chose not to participate in a quality program must still comply with all federal, provincial and municipal legislation such as those related to public safety and the operation of a business, but they will not be promoted by the province. This new approach also aligns with the province’s Better Regulation Initiative – reducing red tape and helping to create a business climate that allows Nova Scotia tourism businesses to grow and prosper. Until the act is repealed, the department is granting short-term tourist accommodation licences to operators. Once the bill is proclaimed, accommodation licensing will end. Government made the decision to repeal the act after a thorough review that began in July 2006. The review included industry consultation, consumer research, a review of best practices in other areas and consultation with other government departments. More information is available on the department’s website at www.gov.ns.ca/dtc . Province Repeals Tourist Accommodations Act
Pino Arlacchi, the Executive Director of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNDCP), made his comments at the International Conference on Illegal Economy and Money Laundering, organized jointly by the Government of Russia and UNDCP. The meeting brought together experts from Interpol, Financial Actions Task Force, the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and law enforcement practitioners from more than 20 countries.Russia, which in 1999 saw some $7 billion transferred to the Bank of New York in just one case of suspected money laundering, is particularly concerned about the problem. Although — as in other countries — figures are difficult to obtain, Russian government institutions talk of sums in the tens of billions of dollars per year in criminal funds leaving the country to international financial centres, according to UNDCP. “Laws against money laundering are not inconsistent with respect for human rights,” Mr. Arlacchi said at the conference. “They can go a long way in protecting personal freedoms and safeguarding potential victims from profit motivated crimes.”During the meeting’s first day, participants considered the nature and estimated size of the illegal economy, its impact on political and economic developments and crime trends. The second day was devoted to discussions about international cooperation in combating money laundering, usage of international agreements and mutual legal assistance treaties and the role of international organizations in promoting the repatriation of illegally transferred assets.Participants also discussed attempts to estimate the magnitude of criminal assets that are being moved internationally, which some banking experts say range from $1 to 3 trillion annually, not counting funds generated through tax evasion and corruption. Even the lower figure, says Mr. Arlacchi, exceeds the GDP of all but the world’s largest economies.
‹ › Yaya Touré presented as UN Environment Programme Goodwill Ambassador at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi. Photo: UNEP International football star Yaya Touré today joined the roster of Goodwill Ambassadors for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), pledging to combat the illegal ivory trade that sees thousands of African elephants slaughtered each year.“Poaching threatens the very existence of the African elephant and if we do not act now we could be looking at a future in which this iconic species is wiped out,” said Mr. Touré, who was African Footballer of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and an inspirational figure for Manchester City and his national side Côte d’Ivoire.“I became a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador to spread the message that this poaching – and other forms of wildlife crime – is not only a betrayal of our responsibility to safeguard threatened species, but a serious threat to the security, political stability, economy, natural resources and cultural heritage of many countries,” he added. Increased poaching and loss of habitats are decimating African elephant populations, especially in Central African countries, according to a report released earlier this year at a meeting of the UN-backed Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The UN estimates that over 17,000 elephants were illegally killed in monitored sites in 2011 alone. Overall figures may be much higher, UNEP noted in a news release. “The extent of the killings now far exceeds the natural population growth rates, putting elephants at risk of extinction, especially in Central and Western Africa. But even previously secure populations, such as those in East Africa, are now under threat,” the agency warned. UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said the agency is honoured that Mr. Touré has agreed to be a Goodwill Ambassador. “His personal commitment to an environmentally sustainable lifestyle and his global status as an internationally renowned sportsman makes him a particularly powerful African voice to speak and inspire action on the environmental challenges and the solutions to these challenges.” The illegal ivory trade has tripled since 1998, according to the report. Criminal networks are responsible for the illegal trafficking of ivory between Africa and Asia, and large-scale seizures of ivory destined for Asia have more than doubled since 2009 and reached an all-time high in 2011. UNEP said that the international community is looking at measures to address the crisis, including improved law-enforcement across the entire illegal ivory supply chain and training of enforcement officers in the use of tracking, intelligence networks and innovative techniques, such as forensic analysis.Strengthened national legislative networks, better international collaboration across range States, transit countries and consumer markets, as well as action to fight collusive corruption, identifying syndicates and reducing demand are also vital, the agency noted. UNEP’s roster of Goodwill Ambassadors includes renowned personalities such as Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen, United States actor Don Cheadle, Chinese actress Li Binging, French photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand and Indian economist Pavan Sukhdev, all of whom help generate public awareness and understanding of environmental causes.