December 29 2021 | Travel, Logistics & Hospitality
The Travel Industry’s Revival Stalls as Omicron Surges

    At a time when some travel industry forecasts had begun to express optimism that the sector could expect a full recovery by the end of the year, or early 2022, the new Omicron variant has dashed all such hopes.  Once again, the world finds itself confronted with a new COVID-19 variant that is spreading globally at alarming rates, and countries have been forced into immediate action to limit further spread of the highly contagious variant. As more restrictions are imposed, travel in general, and leisure travel in particular has become extremely challenging. This is especially true for those traveling from countries with skyrocketing infection rates. At Infomineo, we previously published an article and research on how COVID-19 impacted the travel & tourism industry globally, in which we plotted the major effects of the pandemic on several tourism sectors. In this article, we aim to shed light on the travel restrictions being put in place following the emergence of the Omicron variant, by highlighting recent restrictions enacted in selected countries.   Detection and Early Development Omicron was first identified in late November by South African scientists, who reported the variant to the World Health Organization (WHO). On 26 November 2021, the agency designated the variant B.1.1.529, or Omicron, a variant of concern, on the advice of its Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution.  The origins of the new variant remain uncertain, however, with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, reporting that retests of samples taken on Nov. 19 and 23 found that Omicron was already in the Netherlands before South Africa reported it to WHO. In a statement released December 1, Nigeria's national public health institute announced it had detected the country's first omicron case in a sample that was collected in October.  As of December 16, Omicron had been detected in 89 countries, with coronavirus cases involving the variant doubling every 1.5 to 3 days, according to the World Health Organization.   Impact on Travel & Tourism As a result of the new variant, travel & tourism have been severely disrupted. Just days after Omicron was identified, several countries had already closed their borders to halt the spread of the virus.  Many countries first reacted by restricting travel from South Africa. Some governments, including those of the US, and all 27 member states of the European Union, broadened these restrictions to include seven other countries in the region, having deemed them high-risk areas where the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly (Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Eswatini, Malawi, and Lesotho). Travel restrictions are no longer limited to travelers from southern Africa, however, with many countries around the world putting in place wide-ranging restrictions and regulations to limit the spread of the virus: Sweden has introduced a new testing protocol for all travelers regardless of their vaccination status and country of origin, with the decision coming into effect on December 28. Germany has imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine on all travelers arriving from the UK, which began on December 20. Israel added the US to its list of "red countries”, on December 20, along with Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland, and Turkey.  This designation means that Israeli citizens and permanent residents are banned from traveling to those countries unless they get a special exemption and that all travelers from those countries must quarantine on arrival, regardless of vaccination status. France imposed tighter restrictions for travel between the U.K. and France, requiring "compelling reasons" for such travel — tourism and business do not qualify under the changes.   South Korea has restricted flights from eight countries. Thailand Singapore and Japan have closed their borders to most foreign travelers. The countries listed above are only a sample of those that have taken immediate action to halt the spread of the new Omicron variant. As the situation continues to evolve, many more countries are imposing travel restrictions and updating those already in place. While it is unclear exactly how long travelers, or the industry, can expect such restrictions to continue, it seems safe to assume that travel will be greatly affected for some time to come.     Author: Mohamed Aref   Sources:

December 09 2021 | Travel, Logistics & Hospitality
How Countries Free of Covid Travel Restrictions Are Quickly Recovering Their Tourist Arrivals

  The Challenge of Post-Pandemic International Travel International leisure travel in the post-pandemic world poses challenges to travelers ranging from PCR tests and vaccination requirements prior to departure, to quarantine periods and local safety protocols once they’ve arrived at their destination.  At Infomineo, we previously published an article on how COVID-19 impacted the global travel and tourism industry, in which we outlined the major effects of the pandemic on the different tourism sectors.  In this new study, we analyzed the arrival statistics of different countries, alongside the travel restrictions they put in place, allowing us to identify several trends among countries that have lifted all COVID-19 travel restrictions, and key differences between them and the countries that have maintained said restrictions. We examined the number of visitors to four countries, two of which reopened their borders post-lockdown with no COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, and the other two of which maintain travel restrictions to the current day. We grouped the countries into color groups as indicated below. Group 1: Countries with no travel restrictions: Mexico & Albania – Blue Group The first country in this group, Mexico, is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, with 95-99 million visitors annually. The second, Albania, has not historically received such high levels of visitors. Group 2: Countries with travel restrictions: Spain & Italy – Red Group The countries in this group traditionally rank among the top-visited countries worldwide, with each of Spain and Italy expecting around 82 and 65 million annual visitors respectively.  We set out to examine how each set of countries has fared in terms of recovering previous numbers of visitors and looked at the number of monthly visitor arrivals to all four countries—both pre & post-lockdown—to discern arrival trends and provide you with the relevant insights.  How Lifting Covid-Restrictions Aids in the Quick Recovery of Tourist Arrivals Having examined the tourist arrival figures in the countries selected, it appears that international travelers currently favor destinations with minimal or no COVID-19 restrictions, over those with such restrictions in place.  This is clearly visible in the case of Albania, which opened its borders to travel in 2020 and implemented a visa-free initiative in 2021. Global tourism giant, Mexico, also witnessed a quick resurgence in tourist arrivals after reopening its borders, averaging 81% of their pre-pandemic monthly visitors during the peak season of 2021. Albania Despite its rich archaeological sites, pristine beaches, and low prices, Albania has not historically figured among the top travel destinations for many countries. We leveraged the country’s tourism statistics and concluded that most of Albania’s tourist arrivals are from its neighboring border countries (Kosovo, North Macedonia, Italy & Greece).  In May 2020, Albania reopened its borders to welcome back tourists after the country reported no new coronavirus deaths for more than three consecutive weeks. In April of the following year, Albania announced that it would permit visa-free travel, through December 31st, 2021, to citizens of Bahrain, Egypt, Oman, India, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand. The new initiative allowed citizens of these countries to visit Albania, without the need to obtain a visa nor the need to present negative PCR test results on arrival.   After the country implemented its free-visa initiative, the number of tourist arrivals during its high season in 2021 reached 97.7% of the tourist flows registered in 2019.  The share of visitors from new markets increased from 8.4% prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, to 19.1% in 2021, with new market visitors taking advantage of the absence of visa and COVID-19 travel restrictions to Albania.  We interviewed Geri Cakoni, head of sales for the inbound-tourism company Good Albania, who explained that the initiatives provided much-needed relief in terms of incoming tourism. This was especially true, he highlighted, for the first few months after reopening, when tourism figures were stale and the countries from which travelers usually arrived were still reluctant to open to Albania for tourism.  He explained further that his company witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of inquiries from middle eastern travelers and estimated that 20-30% of his company’s clients this year have been a direct result of the visa-free entry initiative. Mexico Thanks to its vivid landscapes, coastal resorts, cultural festivals, and archeological ruins, Mexico has consistently ranked among the world’s top visited countries globally by the number of tourist arrivals.  In March 2020 it closed its borders to travel due to the international lockdown, and an increase in COVID-19 cases locally. It reopened for tourism in July of the same year, however, and did so without putting any COVID-19 restrictions on travelers in place.   In July 2020, shortly after opening for tourism, the country recorded tourist flows of 1.3 million visitors (around 33% of pre-pandemic rates). By December, the number of tourists reached 2.6 million (55% of pre-pandemic rates). Because these figures were recorded during mid and late 2020, we believe that the low figures were due to the international lock-down and travel restrictions from the source markets.  In 2021, the number of visitors increased to between 1.6 and 3.3 million tourists monthly, representing a recovery rate as high as 81% in June & July 2021, when compared to 2019 tourist arrivals. The country appears to be well on its way to pre-COVID 19 levels of tourist arrivals due to its early border reopening and the non-imposition of travel restrictions. Are Top Tourism Destinations Still in Pole Position?  In the second part of our study, we examined the arrivals of tourists to Spain and Italy, two of the most popular tourist destinations globally. Spain receives around 82 million visitors annually while Italy welcomes 65 million tourists, on average, per year.  Due to their delayed border reopening, however, coupled with tight COVID-19 restrictions & requirements, both still struggle to recover pre-pandemic levels of tourist arrivals. Both countries allow only vaccinated visitors and require that these same visitors present proof of a negative PCR test before departure from their home countries. Because both countries also lie within the EU, their border openings are further subject to EU regulations. Spain Spain suspended tourism and travel in March 2020. In the following 2 months, April & May, inbound traffic held stable at zero with airports in the country remaining shut down. Arrivals to the country increased as restrictions were eased to permit necessary travel in May 2020, but these figures would not have included any tourist visitors. When EU travel borders reopened in June 2021 and Spanish borders were opened to vaccinated foreign travelers, traveler arrival figures failed to rise as dramatically as they had in the blue group countries.  The number of inbound tourist arrivals increased from 400k-600k in early 2021, to 2.2, 3.4, and 5.2 million tourists in June, July, and August respectively. Despite the increase in tourist arrivals, these figures represent only about 40% of the 2019 figures through its high season.  Italy Italy’s tourist arrival figures plot a similar trajectory to that of Spain, albeit with lower figures. Prior to the pandemic, Italy received between 3-5 million tourists during its low seasons and 6-8 million tourists during its high season travel months.  Italy reopened its borders in June 2021 with arrivals that month reaching around 1.8 million. In July 2021, that number increased to 3.1 million. That translates to a recovery rate of 27%, 35%, and 62% of pre-pandemic figures for its high season months of June, July & August 2021 respectively.   Outlook Although both Spain & Italy have reopened their borders to tourism, there remains great potential in reactivating their tourism sector due to their long-held positions at the top of the global tourism standings. Nevertheless, they are unlikely to quickly return to pre-pandemic levels of arrivals, due to their late border reopening & the COVID-19 travel restrictions currently in place. While countries with strict travel restrictions struggle to recover their pre-pandemic numbers of visitors, those without such restrictions in place can expect to continue to see rising recovery rates. Just how long they can expect to do so, however, and whether they can expect to see their number of monthly arrivals eclipse previous records, remains to be seen.  Author: Mohamed Aref   Disclaimer All calculated figures are Infomineo’s team analysis. All inbound tourism figures refer to visitors for the purposes of vacation or holiday. (Arrivals>Tourist>Leisure) High-season touristic months are calculated by Infomineo according to the seasonality charts provided by the UNWTO Glossary Arrivals: Includes the total number of entries from all border crossings (air, sea, and land) Tourist: Any visitor who spends at least one night at a destination country (regardless of accommodation type) High Season: The months in which a country usually receives the highest number of inbound travelers.  Raw Data To access the raw data and sources used, along with the team’s calculations, click here to download the file   Interested in capturing your project-specific travel & tourism data? Get in touch with our team!

More than one month after Suez Canal’s Clearance, the Ever Given Vessel still did not depart Egypt

Ever Given ship was not allowed to depart from Suez Canal unless the vessel’s owners pay up to $1 billion to compensate for the enormous disruption it resulted in. Ever Given’s Ship Blockage Causes the World’s Heaviest Traffic Jam. On the 23rd of March 2021, the Ever Given was sailing through the Suez Canal. Strong winds whipped up by a sandstorm affected the steering of the ship causing it to turn into the banks blocking the entire span of the canal. The blockage of the Suez Canal brought a lot of attention to the global maritime importance of this passage.  In this article, we look at the various negative effects the Ever Given caused and also shed light on other interlinked questions, mainly, how big is the global maritime trade transport market? Are there penalties imposed on the Ever Given Vessel? Are there other canals that are considered key trade passages?  Is this the first time the Suez Canal was blocked? How Important is the Suez Canal and what are the canal’s investments/projects? Global Maritime Trade Transport & Key Choke Points A sole country can’t be entirely self-sufficient. Shipping helps ensure that the benefits of trade and commerce are evenly spread. Almost every country relies on maritime trade to buy its necessities and sell its products. Maritime transport is the backbone of international trade and the global economy: almost 80% of global trade by volume is carried by sea and is handled by ports worldwide. Because of its importance, commercial shipping relies on strategic trade routes to move goods efficiently. A vast number of vessels use these waterways every year, but it does not always go smoothly as there are risks that can disturb the whole system. The most serious risks to global trade are posed by choke points which are strategic, narrow passages that connect two larger areas to one another. When it comes to maritime trade, these are typically straits or canals that see high volumes of traffic because of their optimal location. Although these vital routes are very convenient, they impose several risks: Structural risks: As demonstrated in the recent Suez Canal blockage, ships can crash along the shore of a canal if the passage is too narrow, causing traffic jams that can last for days. Geopolitical risks: Because of their high traffic, choke points are particularly vulnerable to blockades or deliberate disruptions during times of political unrest. The location affects the risk type and degree. Below are listed the biggest threats concerning 8 of the world’s major choke points. Is the Suez Canal the Only Maritime Artery? What Do Other Maritime Passages Mean to the World? Global Maritime canals and straits shorten navigation time of transport of cargoes and contribute to reducing transport costs. Despite the most recent crisis, Suez is not the most vulnerable bottleneck for world trade. Ever Given is not the First Ship to Block the Suez Canal The Suez Canal has been blocked and closed several times since its opening in 1859. According to the Suez Canal Authority, the Canal has closed 5 times since it opened for navigation in 1869: 1956, after a British-French-Israeli invasion. That tension following the Egyptian President’s announcement of nationalizing the canal led to its closure for months 1967, Egypt enters a war with Israel and the canal closed for 8 years 2004, the Tropic Brilliance oil tanker got jammed in the waterway which took 3 days to refloat and sail again  2006, the Okal King Dor drifted at a wrong angle and got jammed leading to a temporary blockage in the canal for 8 hours 2017, OOCL Japan malfunction caused the ship to to block the canal but the tugboats freed the ship in a few hours In comparison with the 5 previous incidents, the Ever Given falls in the middle in terms severity. The Ever Given’s Blockage tragically affected Global Economy & Maritime Flow In less than a week, global trade has been tremendously affected by this incident. Although the ship was freed and floated on March 29th, the canal could not immediately process full traffic flow. The blockage has been the source of much worry and frustration for the global shipping industry. Waiting Vessels since the blockage: More than 300 ships waiting in and around the Suez Canal Upcoming Vessels: 130 vessels were on their way to the canal  Global Oil & Gas: An average of 12% of global trade, around one million barrels of oil and roughly 8% of liquefied natural gas pass through the canal each day Egypt’s losses due to the damage: The Suez Canal Authority Chairman stated that the Canal’s blockage results in revenue losses averaging $14m-$15m for each day  Delayed Cargo: Estimated $9.6bn of trade along the waterway each day. That equates to $400m and 3.3 million tons of cargo an hour, or $6.7m a minute Global Trade: Allianz’ analysis showed the blockage could cost global trade between $6bn to $10bn a week and reduce annual trade growth by 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points How was the ship freed? The main obstacle in re-floating the ship once again from the Suez Canal bank was its enormous size. The ship is 400 m (1,312 ft) long, 59 m (194 ft) wide while the canal itself is only 200 m wide (656 ft). This vast size comes with a massive weight as well, the ship weighs around 200,000 tons. A 24/7 emergency effort was put into place to get the shop back on track. 3 main forces were used in the strategy to free the boat. Dredgers clawed away underwater sand, Excavating equipment was used to dig out the keel of the ship, Tugboats, were used to push and rotate the ship and pull it with tow lines. Ever Given ship is forbidden to leave the Suez Canal Egyptian authorities reported they wouldn't release the vessel unless its owners agree to pay up to $1 billion in compensation. Osama Rabie, who leads the Suez Canal Authority reported “Egyptian authorities would demand $1 billion to cover the costs of freeing the vessel. The figure will cover the expense of the equipment and machinery used to clear the way, the damage to the canal itself, and the compensation of the 800 people who worked to release the 200,000-ton ship. It will also refund the costs from the blocking of the canal, which ended up causing an epic traffic jam of more than 300 ships on either side of the channel.” Is it Ever Given or Evergreen?  There was some confusion occurred regarding the name of the ship as news outlets started calling the ship “Ever Given” while the name “Evergreen” was prominently painted on the side of the ship in large capital letters.  Ever Given is the name for the ship, and the ship is operated by a Taiwanese company called Evergreen Marine. Careful observers or sailing aficionados will notice that Ever Given is also written on the ship at the bow and stern of the vessel in smaller lettering. ​ Global Repercussions VS Egypt’s Efforts & Its Worldwide Recognition At the beginning of the incident, maritime experts globally warned that it may take weeks to dislodge the Ever Given and that the blockage would last for a long time. However, thanks to the effort of the Suez Canal Authority and the support from the government, the ship was refloated within less than a week.  Egyptian officials said that the backlog of ships waiting to transit through would be cleared in around three days.  Evergreen thanked the Suez Canal Authority and other concerned parties for managing to successfully release the mammoth. Several countries also extended their congratulations to Egypt as they watched with bated breath how this problem was resolved.  Investments in Suez Canal  Investments in the Canal. The Suez Canal has been receiving investments to its economic zone and for canal renovation. In the last 5 years, Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) investments hit more than 15 billion dollars. In the same timeframe, over 220 companies from different industrial sectors were established at the SCZone. The strategic role in promoting trade exchange between Egypt and other regional and African countries was aided by Egypt’s national road network developments and the Cairo-Cape Town road project. Governance. SCZone will establish a subsidiary company to work as an investment and commercial arm to channel funds for projects along the Canal Opportunities in the Canal. With investments more than $15 Billion, the SCZone gathers 14 industrial developers, 247 operational establishments, covering 239 sqms of land that creates 70,000 job opportunities. Resources. The canal has a strong infrastructure that includes 7 power stations and 13 power-distribution units, 2 desalination plants and 2 water-treatment plants, establishing tunnels and bridges to support the transportation network, and expanding the telecommunications and natural-gas networks. Future Investments. Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT) aims to invest $60 million during 2021 to enhance the competitiveness of the container handling terminal at East Port Said Port. The company’s investments are currently estimated at over $900 million. The new investments aim to add 6 giant cranes to increase the total number to 12, in addition to increasing the number of yard winches from 50 to 60-yard winches. Author: Mohamed Aref References:,for%20the%20chaos%20it%20caused&text=The%20Ever%20Given%20can't,are%20paid%2C%20officials%20said%20Thursday.&text=The%20owner%20of%20the%20Ever,heard%20from%20Egyptian%20authorities%20yet.'s,with%20the%20help%20of%20dredgers.,are%20handled%20by%20ports%20worldwide. CNBC Television News,-.aspx

How COVID-19 Impacted Travel & Tourism Industry Globally

The Travel and Tourism Industry In the past decades, tourism has experienced continued growth and became one of the fastest growing economic sectors globally. The sector witnessed a 59% growth over the decade in international tourists’ arrivals from 1.5 billion 2019 compared to 880 million in 2009. Tourism is also a key driver for socio-‎economic progress, with tourism specific developments in an increasing number of national and international destinations. Globally, the tourism industry contributed to $8.9 trillion to the global GDP in 2019 equaling a contribution of 10.3%. It is also to note that 1 in 10 jobs around the world is in tourism, equaling 330 million jobs. However, the strong historical growth has been halted in 2020 amid the global Covid-19 pandemic. With airplanes on the ground, hotels closed and travel restrictions implemented, travel and tourism became one of the most affected sectors since the very start of the virus spread. The pandemic has cut international tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2020 to a fraction of what they were a year ago. Closing borders, tourism & travel ban Countries all over the world applied travel restrictions to limit the coronavirus spread. Airport closures, the suspension of incoming and outgoing flights, and nationwide lockdowns are just some of the measures that countries are implementing in an effort to help contain the pandemic. After the spread of the pandemic in the first two quarters of 2020, at least 93 percent of the global population lived in countries with coronavirus-related travel restrictions, with approximately 3 billion people residing in countries enforcing complete border closures to foreigners.  The decline of International Tourists during the Pandemic The number of international tourist arrivals has been growing remarkably in the last decade and still sustained growth throughout the last years; in 2017 arrivals reached a total of 1.3 billion globally, 2018 reaching 1.4 billion and 1.5 billion in 2019.  In 2020, and with the severe impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, international tourism went down by 22% in Q1 and by 65% in the first half of 2020 when compared with 2019 figures. In March 2020, the UNWTO proposed 3 scenarios for possible declines in arrivals of 58% to 78% for 2020 depending on the start point of gradual opening of borders and lifting travel restrictions. [caption id="attachment_5343" align="aligncenter" width="446"] 2020 Forecast (Updated)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5344" align="aligncenter" width="447"] 2020 Forecast[/caption]   According to the UNWTO’s March forecast and its September update, the recovery for the industry might be in 2021 and domestic demand is expected to recover faster than international. In May 2020, the majority of the UNWTO tourism experts expect to see signs of recovery by the final quarter of 2020 but mostly in 2021. Covid-19 and Airline Failures The International Air Transport Association (IATA) financial outlook released in June showed that airlines globally are expected to lose $84.3 billion in the year of 2020 for a net profit margin of -20.1%. It also stated that revenues will fall by 50% to $419 billion from $838 billion in 2019. In 2021, losses are expected to be cut to $15.8 billion as revenues rise to $598 billion. IATA’s Director General and CEO, stated that “Financially, 2020 will go down as the worst year in the history of aviation. On average, every day of this year will add $230 million to industry losses. In total that’s a loss of $84.3 billion”. What’s shocking is witnessing how many airlines have failed during the coronavirus pandemic. And even for airlines that are still in business, the situation is severely difficult: e.g. the US carriers have given out $10 billion in vouchers due to the pandemic. Listed below are a few examples of the biggest coronavirus-related airline failures worldwide.  - LATAM: To date, Chile’s LATAM is the largest airline to file for U.S. bankruptcy protection in May due to the pandemic. LATAM says it will continue flying as it restructures its debts in bankruptcy court.  - Avianca Holdings: The second-largest carrier in South America, Avianca survived the Great Depression - but not coronavirus. The airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May. Like LATAM, Avianca will continue flying during the restructuring. - Virgin Australia: After almost 20 years of operation, Virgin Australia - the country’s second-biggest airline - filed for voluntary administration, the equivalent of bankruptcy restructuring. It’s the largest airline to collapse in Australian history. - Flybe: The British regional airline Flybe was already struggling before coronavirus and both the UK government and Virgin Atlantic tried to save it. However, the airline entered voluntary administration, similar to bankruptcy, in March. - Miami Air International: After 29 years in service, Miami Air International filed for Chapter 11, then proceeded to cease operations. Hospitality Sector Hit by the Lockdown The lockdown due to the pandemic has affected the tourism industry across the globe, and the hotel sector is among the hardest hit. Global hospitality data company STR compared 2020’s first quarter status to 2019 figures, hotel occupancy rates dropped as much as 96% in Italy, 68% in China, 67% in UK, 59% in USA and 48% in Singapore.  There’s no doubt that the hotel industry has witnessed a severe impact by the pandemic and the lockdown status. STR is also comparing U.S. Hospitality statistics between 9th of May 2020 to 11th of May 2019 and reported a sharp decline in global hotel performance indices: - 55.9% decline in occupancy to 30.1% - 42.1% decline in average daily rate (ADR) to $76.35 - 74.4% decline in revenue per available room (RevPAR) to $22.95. Balancing the Return of Tourism Revenues and Safety As of July 2020, the EU opened borders to tourists from 15 different countries leaving the U.S. off the list. Health officials developed a plan to classify accepted countries based on how the country is performing in controlling the coronavirus. A country is considered under control when they have a number close to or below the EU average for new coronavirus cases over the last 14 days and per 100,000 inhabitants.  On 15 June, the European Commission launched ‘Re-open EU’, a web platform that contains essential information allowing a safe relaunch of free movement and tourism across Europe. The platform will provide real-time information on borders, available means of transport, travel restrictions, public health, and safety measures. Safe Tourism Enabling tourism once again would require measures ensuring that people are and feel safe towards traveling. Global safety and hygiene stamps are awarded by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) to countries that are demonstrating their commitment to reopening their tourism sector as they recover from the coronavirus outbreak.  The WTTC, a council that represents private-sector travel and tourism, created the Safe Travels Stamp to allow tourists to recognize governments and companies around the world which have adopted health and hygiene global standardized protocols – so consumers can experience ‘Safe Travels’.  Eligible entities such as hotels, restaurants, airlines, cruise lines, tour operators, attractions, short term rentals, car rentals, outdoor shopping, transportation and airports, will be able to use the stamp once the health and hygiene protocols, outlined by WTTC, have been implemented.  As of September 2020, the ‘Safe Travels’ List included 100 destinations with Saudi Arabia, Spain, Portugal and Mexico among the first destinations to adopt the stamp and the Philippines as 100th destination. The Return of Tourism Globally With lockdowns ending around the world, many countries have started to ease border restrictions and reopen for international tourists. Although many governments are still advising against "nonessential" international travel, a host of popular destinations have eased their Covid-19 border restrictions and are readily welcoming tourists back: - The European Commission has released guidelines for how its Member States can start to ease coronavirus travel restrictions and enable tourism to begin again - The Baltic states are creating a “travel bubble”, allowing citizens to travel freely between them. - New Zealand and Australia have committed to introducing a trans-Tasman "COVID-safe travel zone", as soon as it’s safe to do so - Destinations like Dubai, the Maldives, Egypt, Lebanon, Croatia, Kenya, Tanzania and Jamaica have already opened their doors to foreign visitors again, while Thailand hope to reopen soon While tourism is slowly returning in some destinations, most members of the UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts expect international tourism to recover only by the second half of 2021, followed by those who expect a rebound in the first part of next year.  However, there are still concerns over the lack of reliable information and deteriorating economic environment which are indicated as factors weighing on consumer confidence, especially with the potential new limits on travel as world comes to grips with second Covid-19 wave. The concerns over the “second wave” of coronavirus brought on by returning vacationers are wreaking havoc on the world’s tourism industry. Mohamed Aref - Business Analyst Sources:,registered%20in%20the%20global%20economy.

November 10 2017 | Travel, Logistics & Hospitality
Travel and Tourism Growth in Northern African

Travel and Tourism Growth in Northern Africa Sharing the same Mediterranean coast, ethnic cultural and linguistic identity, the North African region - comprising of Morocco, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Sudan, - have been experiencing novel growth dynamics in the field of travel and tourism. Half of the North African region, namely Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, have been greatly affected by political instability and their repercussions. Along with this, the oil price crisis in the Middle East led to a slow down in a number of projects intended to spur tourism in the countries. However, despite these complications, North Africa is forecasted to be a major touristic destination in comparison to other regions in the Middle East and Africa. The above-mentioned countries are seeking new real-estate investments and infrastructure developments in the hospitality and tourism sector reaching an average of USD 2.3bn in 2016 compared to the world average USD 4.4bn. In Egypt, travel and tourism investments have reached USD 4.6bn accounting for 11.9% of total investment. It is forecasted to grow on average of 6.4% reaching USD 9.3bn in the next ten years. Morocco has reported a value of USD 4.1bn for its travel and tourism investments followed by Tunisia USD 0.8bn and Sudan USD 0.4bn, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council 2017 Report. In addition to this, the North African region saw an increase of 5.4% in hotel occupancy. Morocco promises the most prospective future in the North African region with the increased tourist demand which is positively correlated to growth in the real estate and hospitality sectors. It is the top performing country in the North African region and third in Africa. Based on the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index in 2017, Morocco is ranking 65, followed by Egypt at 74, Tunisia at 87, and Algeria at 118  out of 136. They aim to be one of the top 20 world tourist destinations by 2020. In 2016, Morocco had contributed to 8.1% of travel and tourism’s direct to GDP followed by Tunisia 6.6%, Egypt 3.2%, and Sudan 2.5%. Cumulatively, the North Africa region is contributing about 4.4% of Travel &  Tourism’s Direct to GDP. However, Libya doesn’t depend on Tourism & Travel as a revenue generation tool for the country. As employment is considered to be another indicator that assesses the level of growth in tourism, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia have seen a growth in the job market in the fields of Travel and Tourism. For the year 2016, Morocco was the leader in terms of job creation reporting 819K, followed by Egypt 773K, Tunisia 206.4 K, and Sudan 192.8K. Recently, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) 2017 report stated that Egypt is the world’s second-fastest growing touristic destination. Around 8 million international tourists have entered Egypt in between January - July 2017 accounting for a 24.8% growth in the number of international arrivals. Egypt further aims to attract 12.49 million international tourists by 2027, considering the fact that it reached 14.7m in 2010. Nonetheless, Tunisia is also having a comeback with an increase of 33.5% for the first half of the year. Both countries have managed to get out of the Terror threat list made by the foreign office after their recent turbulence. When taking a look at the number of arrivals driven by international tourism, Libya is the least touristic destination within the region along with Sudan and Algeria. Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia have been evolving over the years but the numbers are within the range of 5.3M-10.M.  Samia El Khodary, Analyst at Infomineo Sources:  

An Introduction to Trans-Regional Railways in Africa

The African Route A Vision Economics have forever known an alchemy-like effect to an equation comprised of resources, gates to the world and logistical facilities. Application of such combination can be seen as early as the Silk Road or as recently as the Trans-European railway network. The impact of such complementary factors is usually the intensification of trade and capital gain. So, imagine a pathway which connects the Nile Valley’s wealth to the diamond rich African Heart; a track bringing together the Gold of the South with the Ancient Ports to the North or the Ivory gates of the West and the Indian Ocean Coast. Such an ambitious network connecting the world’s demand and shortage to the African supply and surplus, and vice-versa, could create a climacteric junction in the history of global economy. This vision, as poetic as it can be, could become a reality and it has been in fact sought. The Cape to Cairo Railway During the colonial era, the British Empire had managed to stretch its arms across the African continent. Seeking opportunity in such circumstances, Cecil Rhodes, a British businessman and politician had a vision of a railway that would connect edges of the Garden of Eden we call Africa. The project was named Rhodes Colossus, in reference to Greek titan statue (Phan, 2012). The main aim of the project was to facilitate the movement of the precious minerals, as well as provide a land supply line. However, due to delays caused by colonial skirmish, economic constraints and the death of Cecil, the railway construction failed, leaving some functional yet not fully linked railways (Talbot, 2015). Surely, times have changed since the conception of this African scale project. So, in order for such a scale project to take place, a feasibility test needs to be undertaken, bearing in mind the diverse range of contemporary factors, opportunities and challenges. Feasibility In terms of economies, it’s clearly visible that over the past 15 years, most African countries had experienced economic growth rates of around 5% per year. However, African states are not amongst the ranks of nations orienting their growth on competitive manufactured products but rather natural resources and domestic market growths (Zamfir, 2016). The question of “why have a trans-regional railway in Africa?” is answered by the African economic atmosphere and the opportunities an infrastructure project connecting land locked minerals to ports would bring the critical mining industry. Given the world’s constant need for African minerals and the ever-expanding global manufacturing and logistics, rapidly moving more amounts of material out of their source and nearer to demand could further improve the competitiveness of exporters. This makes the infrastructure improvement sought by both the private and public sector, as evidence suggests that African regions with longer transport corridors attract higher density of trade (African Economic Outlook, 2017). And on the contrary to how this seems to miss diversification elements developing nations might aspire, better infrastructure could facilitate future industrial projects. Regional scale railways would allow for new manufacturing possibilities owing to the speed with which minerals would travel from source to processing or manufacturing plants (Ott, 2014). A demonstration of the railway speed can be found in the new Chinese funded Standard Gauge train in Kenya. Nonetheless, there is a difference in reasons behind constructing a trans-regional railway in the East or the West and another in connecting East to West. This difference can be divided into purpose and impact. For example, the purpose behind constructing a regional railway connecting Eastern Africa would mainly be connecting the East into a fast shipping system and networking the landlocked areas with the ports that would act as trade hubs. Its impact would be further development of the Eastern African trade with other regions at a geographical marine proximity - Asia in this case. The impact of such a railway would be a surge in African-Asian trade if conducted in the East and African-Western trade if conducted with proximity to the Western shores. On the other hand, a railway connecting East to West would also be aimed at African-African trade as it is inefficient to assume that such a railway would be mainly aimed for international trade. For example, if a container ship is to move from Shanghai to Lagos, it would take 21 days on the shortest maritime route with the average cargo ship speed of 20 knots. While if such a trip was made through unloading in Mombasa and then moving by a railway to Lagos at a speed of 100 km/h, it would take no less than 15 days - assuming the most direct way between both cities can be made into a railway and excluding factors such as transit delays that could be in weeks. This can add expenses and risks to the shipping process which makes it less reasonable to use the railway for intercontinental trade, but rather African-African trade. A railway connecting Egyptian ports to South Africa also faces critical issues when approaching it for intercontinental trade. While it might in fact save time and present an eco-friendly solution to move European cargo by land across the continents poles, it remains less safe than a maritime route given the various organizational, security and legal challenges that might arise. Nonetheless, the impact of such a railway could initially be an improvement to the lagging African-African trade thwarted by the need of an improved infrastructure (Joel Ng And Densua Mumford, 2017). Governments have in fact realized the significance of such a route, which translated into the African Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement denoted to as the “Cape-to-Cairo” free trade zone. The agreement signed in Egypt encompasses nations equating about 60% of African GDP, 1 trillion dollars’ worth markets and 600 million citizens. However, the trade still faces many challenges, one of which is infrastructure (BBC, 2015). After realizing the compatibility of trans-scale railway projects with African internal and external needs, the question of funding is brought to one’s mind. Such scale projects are costly and their payoff is more visible in the long term, making it more feasible to conduct by multiple economies. This brings about the question of “How could such project be funded?” Given the positive outlook on China in Africa and the growing Chinese investment in Africa, it would be reasonable to seek Chinese funding and loans in order to move on with projects that are perhaps the next step in regionalizing African economies. Another factor pointing towards China is the Chinese institutionalization of infrastructure funds through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which might have led the African Bank Chief to express his interest in future cooperation with the AIIB (Reuters, 2015). Moreover, since 2000, China has in fact supported inter-city railway projects in Africa with $9.9 bn worth of aids (Morlin-Yron, 2017). In Mauritania, for example, China provided the state with 70% funds, equating to US$686 mn, in 2008 to create a 430-km long railway connecting coastal Nouakchott to landlocked phosphate sources (Xinhua Agnecy, 2008). Another recent example is the $4 billion Nairobi to Mombasa railway, 90% of which is funded by the Chinese Export Import Bank (David Pilling & Emily Feng, 2017). The project comes in light of Chinese investment in a $13 billion East African railway network being built by the state-owned China Road and Bridge Corporation. The “Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor” railways are designed to connect Mobasa, Nairobi, Juba, Kampala, Kigali, Bujumbura and other East African cities. This is expected to have an impact on the African-Asian exports, imports, investment, trade and even tourism. Chinese investment is also a funding possibility, where China Railway Materials Commercial Corporation has invested £167 mn in African Minerals Limited in return for stocks. The funds were in turn used to support infrastructure projects needed by the industry (African Minerals, 2010). However, with different regional considerations of proximities and trade interests put in place, Chinese funding my not necessarily always be the answer. Nonetheless, it remains one of the most visible answers to the question. All in all, the trend suggests that regional sized projects are very feasible as some are in fact underway. The current outlook seems to favor trans-regional railways as they present themselves being the more profitable and favorable option, while trans-continental projects are less likely to take place due to the lack of cooperation among different African regions and weakness of African production of goods. Nonetheless, the impact of the ongoing projects will be more visible in the future, and the intensification of trade that happens due to it will certainly set new business grounds worthy of research. Ahmed Soliman, Business Translator at Infomineo. Infomineo is a business research provider, with a focus on Africa and the Middle East. By performing primary and secondary research, Infomineo provides its clients, which include the majority of the leading global management consulting firms and several Fortune Global 500 companies, with high quality data that leads to decision making success. For more information please contact or visit References African Economic Outlook. (2017). Trade policies and regional integration in Africa. AfDB. African Minerals. (2010). Definitive agreements signed with China Railway Materials Commercial Corporation to develop Tonkolili Iron Ore Project. BBC. (2015). Africa creates TFTA - Cape to Cairo free-trade zone. David Pilling & Emily Feng. (2017). Kenya’s $4bn railway gains traction from Chinese policy ambitions. Financial Times. Economic Community Of West Africa States. (n.d.). Transport. Joel Ng And Densua Mumford. (2017). The TFTA and intra-regional trade in Africa. How we made it in Africa. Morlin-Yron, S. (2017). All aboard! The Chinese-funded railways linking East Africa. CNN. Ott, S. (2014). End of the line for 'Lunatic Express?' Kenya begins multi-billion dollar railway. CNN. Phan, S. (2012 ). Cecil Rhodes: The Man Who Expanded an Empire. Teacher Created Materials. Reuters. (2015). Africa bank chief wants to work with China-led AIIB. Talbot, F. A. (2015 ). The Railway Conquest of the World. Amberley Publishing Limited. Xinhua Agnecy. (2008). China Exim Bank to finance railway project in Mauritania. Zamfir, I. (2016). Africa's Economic Growth: Taking off or slowing down? European Parliamentary Research Service.      

Tourism in Morocco: The Challenges of a Promising Sector

Background and perspectives Morocco offers multiple types of destinations for tourists. First, it has almost 3000km of coastline which makes it a top destination for seaside activities; second, it is rich of history and offers cultural activities with entire cities being classified as world heritage sites by UNESCO; also, mountains and desert offer unique experience for people who come for discovery and adventure. Economically, tourism represents a key segment in the Moroccan economy; in fact, it represents the third leading sector after agriculture and industry. In 2013, the sector contributed by USD17.2bn to the Moroccan economy representing 18.7% of the total GDP and investments reached USD3.2bn representing 11.2% of total investments[1]. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) expects the sector to grow by 5.6% per year from 2014 to 2024 and investments to increase by 5.4% per year (on average) for the coming 10 years1. In a country where total unemployment is reaching the two digits, tourism represents a good opportunity for young unemployed (20%)[2]. In 2013, the sector directly supported 814,000 direct and 1,798,000 indirect jobs and total employment is expected to grow by 2.4% (on average) per year during 2014-2024 period1. Stable country Despite the terrorist attack that hit Casablanca in 2003, and Jamaa El Fnaa’ -the most touristic space- in 2011, Morocco has always been considered stable compared to countries of the region. Recently, tourism has enjoyed particular growth following the uprisings that took place in competing economies such as Egypt and Tunisia. Thus, after years of flat growth, Morocco reported a 7.2 percent increase in arrivals since 2012[3]. The enforcement and creation of a special security apparatus have played a significant role in preventing other terrorist threats. In fact, the World Bank ranks Morocco first in North Africa and above average in the MENA region on ‘political stability and absence of terrorism’ indicator[4]. Infrastructure and foreign investments Along with stability, Morocco offers modern infrastructure. For years, the country has been investing significantly on structural projects. Today, the country is linked by 1800km of highway, has 15 international airports, offers advanced telecom services (129% mobile penetration) and hosts one of the biggest ports on the Mediterranean and Africa region[5]; such big projects have attracted foreign investors into Morocco. In 2014, tourism represented 14.7% of total Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) counting for MAD4.8bn in which more than 50% of investments originated from France, UAE, Saudi Arabia, USA and Kuwait[6]. For instance, the French company “Accor Group” injected more than MAD3.5 billion investment on hotels from 2002 to 2012 and has expected to invest another MAD1.2 billion during 2012-2015 period[7]. On regulation side, the country offers incentives for investors like total tax exemptions for the first five years of touristic projects. Open Sky Morocco has seen significant growth in its air traffic links since it signed the open skies agreement with the EU in 2006. The deal has resulted in a substantial influx of low cost flights to the country, which subsequently boosted the tourism sector. In 2013, Europe’s largest low cost company Ryanair added new aircraft in Moroccan airports and plans to grow its operations to 60 routes and eight airports delivering up to 2.5 million passengers a year to the country[8]. Jetairfly, Easyjet among other low cost companies have also expanded their Moroccan network since 20137. Strategic plans The Moroccan government has implemented two strategic plans “Vision 2010 and 2020” to boost the sector in the last decade. Vision 2020 plans to double the size of the sector to reach 20 million visitors and make from Morocco one of the top destinations worldwide[9]. The focus is to increase the total capacity of the sector by 200,000 beds, target tourists from new and emerging markets, and create 470,000 new jobs in the sector by 20209. Moreover, the Ministry of Tourism launched in 2001 another ambitious plan called Plan Azur. This later aimed to create six seaside resorts with a total capacity of 100,000 beds; yet, after thirteen years of Plan Azur, only three seaside resorts were inaugurated with a capacity of 5,000 beds[10]. Sensitive sector Despite all the efforts made by the Moroccan government through big investments and promotion of the sector worldwide to make from tourism a main source of revenue, the delay of several projects could be explained by the terrorist threats in the region and the financial crisis in the Eurozone. Therefore, the future of tourism remains very sensitive to external factors especially that the recent events in neighboring countries keeps tourists skeptical from visiting the North Africa region. Kheireddine Boulghoudan, Analyst at Infomineo   [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]    

November 24 2014 | Travel, Logistics & Hospitality
Aviation: Africa’s Sleeping Industry

One of the main drivers of the aviation industry is the economic growth and development. There is a proved correlation between the amount of air travel and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) around the world that can be observed in the two graphs bellow (MIT). Now taking the example of China as a starting point to highlight this correlation and according to a research done by the University of Nottingham in 2007 in China, for “every 10% increase in a Chinese regional GDP, the volume of air passengers will increase by 8.4% and that of air cargo by 14.8%, holding other conditions unchanged” (Nottingham Study).   (more…)

The Luxury Real Estate Market in West Africa (2/2)

In my previous article published in March, I gave you a general overview of luxury real estate market in Western Africa with a focus on Nigeria and Ghana. Today let us talk about some major projects initiated in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. Senegal: A new wind is blowing for the luxurious real estate market With the era of new infrastructures initiated during the last 10 years, the Senegalese luxurious real estate market is also rising. The capital, Dakar gathers the most important luxurious real estate projects. The town is well-known as one of the West African cities where the real estate is very expensive. Over the recent years, huge projects in terms of real estate are flourishing. The most famous among them, Waterfront is developed by Teyliom Group. (more…)

The Luxury Real Estate Market in West Africa (1/2)

West African countries represent a population of 245 million of inhabitants. With a yearly average income of $309 for each person, the region‘s economic growth has yearly reached 2.5%. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects that globally sub-Saharan Africa’s growth will continue with an annual GDP growth forecast of 5-6% over the next five years. (more…)

The African hospitality and lodging market: a lack of international branded supply creating new opportunities for private investors

Africa achieved a real GDP CAGR of 5.2% over 2005-2010, in comparison with 2.0% for Western Europe and 3.4% for the world. IMF expects a 5.5% CAGR for African real GDP over 2010-2015, in comparison with 1.9% in Western Europe and 4.5% for the world. This sustained and broad-based economic development has triggered an increasing need in the hospitality sector and has created investment opportunities. In fact, Africa, like other recently emerging markets, shows a significant deficit in terms of infrastructure. Most African countries lack hotels and long stay residential projects of international standards for commerce and leisure. The African continent suffers from an increasing imbalance of hotels supply and demand. As a result, key destinations in Africa are experiencing artificially high RevPAR and yield levels making it a rewarding sector for investment. (more…)

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