Finland will allow holidaymakers to visit the country for up to three days in order to help the struggling tourist industry, ministers announced on Friday.
Under the new measures, travel restrictions will be eased to allow visitors from Germany, Sweden, and other countries with fewer than 25 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past fortnight.
Arrivals from countries with higher levels of infection, such as France and the UK, will also be admitted without quarantine requirements if they are traveling with a charter flight or organised tour group and if their stay does not exceed 72 hours.
In recent years tourist numbers in Lapland, in Finland’s far north, have grown to record levels.
Among three million overnight stays in 2018, British tourists were the largest group.
Husky sled rides, seeing the Northern Lights and a visit to the “real” Santa’s grotto are among the most popular attractions.
The Finnish government has come under heavy pressure to ease travel restrictions to help businesses in Lapland, where tourism generated one billion euros ($1.1 billion) of revenue in 2018 according to the area’s regional council.
Currently, Finland’s tight border restrictions ban arrivals from all but a handful of EU countries in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Economic Affairs Minister Mika Lintila told a press conference on Friday that the new policy “will bring clarity to the business and tourism sectors.”
“The decision takes into account safety and the needs of business.”
An official told reporters the health ministry had been “critical” of the idea of loosening border restrictions.
But “these decisions have been made based on broad cabinet discussions,” health ministry strategic director Liisa-Maria Voipio-Pulkki said.
The country of 5.5 million has registered 337 COVID-related deaths and around 8,500 cases, though there has been an uptick in infections after the summer.
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has approved one billion naira seed capital for investment in tourism.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who made the announcement on Wednesday said the fund will drive new growth in hospitality business.
He said the investment was required to bolster the hospitality sector by providing key operators in tourism business with soft loans to boost their capacity in driving growth.
The initiative, Sanwo-Olu observed, is necessary to position the tourism business as a new frontier for job creation and economic prosperity in the post-Coronavirus era.
The seed capital will be domiciled in the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), the Governor said, adding that the funds will be made available specifically to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) operators in the sector.
The Governor noted the state would also be collaborating with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to further create access for funds to support the hospitality business.
The event with the theme: “BOS Meets Business, was attended by the captains of industry, manufacturers, and members of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the state had started the first phase of the 6,000km optical fibre being laid across Lagos, with the aim of providing technological infrastructure to support MSMEs.
He said the state had continued to strengthen its Ease of Doing Business policies to drive private investment and economic growth. This, he said, is being made possible by the digitisation of business registration and asset acquisition processes, which, he said, removed administrative bottlenecks.
“We have just given approval for N1 billion support that will be given out through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund to support the hospitality business in the State. The beneficiaries of this fund will go through screening in line with the requirement of the agency. We are making this investment because of the huge potential for job creation and inclusive growth this sector can bring about.
“We will be working with the CBN for more funding to fully develop the potential of our tourism sector. This effort is being completed with the rolling out of 3,000 km optical fibre across the State to provide technological infrastructure for the MSMEs whose operations would depend on fast Internet networks to drive their businesses.”
With Lagos’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) valued at $130 billion and over three million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which make the State the fourth wealthiest city in Africa, Sanwo-Olu said it was time for the State to strengthen its economy with right policies for accelerated growth and prosperity.
The Governor noted that there will be a review of the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed in the State by the Federal Government in response to requests by businesses across the State, noting that the ongoing rehabilitation of major bridges and roads had impacted business activities in the State.
According to him, the repeal of 2018 laws on Land Use Charge was to further create incentives for more growth in the corporate sector, stressing that the new Land Use laws had addressed controversial provisions and remove ambiguity in the levies paid by companies in Lagos.
The Governor granted a three-year waiver on penalty for those that defaulted the payment of land use charge from 2017. He also offered a 25 per cent discount for those who make early payment of the Land Use.
He said: “We are granting a waiver of three years in late payment, which covers 2017, 2018 and 2019. We are also giving 25 per cent special discount on early payment. By this, we have achieved a 48 per cent reduction for businesses in chargeable rates by repealing the 2018 Land Use Laws.
“We are taking these steps to show that we are not being insensitive to the plight of businesses and residents, especially in this period of the pandemic that has slowed down activities. We have been doing everything possible to make sure businesses are not choked by taxes.”
Sanwo-Olu told the business leaders and MSMEs operators to see his administration as a “real partner” in driving growth. He said the Government would continue to introduce more incentives to strengthen its partnership with the private sector to keep Lagos economy on the path of growth.
Representatives of corporate organisations praised the Governor for the reviews of the Land Use Laws. They, however, called for harmonisation of taxes and levies payable to the Government.
Deputy President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Chief Olawale Cole, hailed the State Government for the three-month moratorium given to MSMEs, noting that the incentive would stimulate more commitment in the sector.
Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Corporative, Dr. Lola Akande, noted that Lagos Government had taken steps since the last meeting with the Organised Private Sector to sustain the momentum of growth.
She said: “We recognise that creating an enabling business environment is the key to job creation, poverty eradication, and growth of the State economy. Lagos State is positioned to support businesses and the industrial sector to maximise their potential for greater contribution to the State’s GDP.”
The coronavirus crisis could cost global tourism and related sectors from $1.2 to $3.3 trillion in lost revenue, the United Nations said Wednesday.
Lockdown restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19 have hammered the tourism sector particularly hard, the UN Conference on Trade and Development said in a report.
The world tourism industry is expected to lose at least $1.2 trillion in the best-case scenario, UNCTAD calculated.
In a report entitled “COVID-19 and Tourism: Assessing the Economic Consequences”, UNCTAD modelled three scenarios that included the sector’s supply chain.
The scenarios are moderate, where a third of annual inbound tourism expenditure is removed, equivalent to a four-month standstill; intermediate, removing two-thirds, equivalent to an eight-month halt; and dramatic, where all expenditure is removed, equivalent to a 12-month shutdown.
In the most optimistic scenario, the world’s tourism sector could lose at least $1.2 trillion, or 1.5 percent of global gross domestic product.
That rose to $2.2 trillion or 2.8 percent of global GDP during an eight-month halt.
In the most pessimistic scenario, UNCTAD projected losses of $3.3 trillion or 4.2 percent of global GDP.
– Jamaica, Thailand hit hard –
The report said that unemployment could rise in some countries by more than 20 percentage points and some sectors could almost be wiped out if the standstill lasted an entire year.
Developing countries are among those set to suffer the steepest losses in GDP terms.
In just the moderate scenario, Jamaica would lose 11 percent of its national output; Thailand nine percent, Croatia eight percent, and Portugal six percent.
The Dominican Republic, Kenya and Morocco would all lose five percent.
In some countries, such as small island developing states, tourism accounts for more than half of GDP.
“These numbers are a clear reminder of something we often seem to forget: the economic importance of the sector and its role as a lifeline for millions of people all around the world,” said Pamela Coke-Hamilton, UNCTAD’s director of international trade.
“For many countries, like the small island developing states, a collapse in tourism means a collapse in their development prospects. This is not something we can afford.”
In absolute terms in the moderate projection, the biggest losses would be felt by the United States (-$187 billion), China including Hong Kong (-$105 billion), Thailand (-$48 billion), France (-$47 billion), Germany (-$46 billion) and Spain (-$44 billion).
– Knock-on effects –
UNCTAD also warned of heavy knock-on losses for other economic sectors, such as the goods and services used by holidaymakers, including food, beverages and entertainment.
The agency estimates that for every $1.0 million lost in international tourism revenue, a country’s national income could decline by $2.0 million to $3.0 million.
“The damage incurred in the tourism sector goes beyond cancelled flights and hotel bookings,” the report noted.
In 2019, the tourism sector accounted for around 300 million jobs globally, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. The leading destinations were France, Spain, the United States and China.
Greece prepared to welcome tourist flights to its island destinations on Wednesday for the first time in months, as it raced to salvage a tourism season shredded by the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 100 flights from other EU nations and a select group of non-EU countries are expected at 14 regional airports including Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes and Crete, airport operator Fraport said.
Flights from Britain, one of its most lucrative travel markets, are not due to restart until July 15 at the earliest, in line with EU recommendations. The same applies to the United States, Russia, Turkey and Sweden.
Greece halted most flights three months ago as part of restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus, but the measures have seen the sector’s revenues plummet.
All Greek airports are now receiving international flights and the ports of Patras and Igoumentsa will again receive ferries from Italy.
Fourteen non-EU countries — including Australia, Canada, Japan and Uruguay — have been deemed safe enough for visitors to be allowed back.
But travellers from China, where the virus first emerged late last year, will be allowed to enter only if Beijing reciprocates and opens the door to EU residents.
Travellers will be given scannable bar codes after they fill out a questionnaire with personal details such as their country of origin and the countries they have travelled through in the last 15 days.
Those who are tested will be told to isolate at the address provided on the questionnaire while waiting for the results.
“It will be a very difficult tourism season. We will do the best we can,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the cabinet this week.
Greece, which has a relatively low coronavirus death toll under 200, has launched a promotional campaign to revive tourism, which accounts for a quarter of its gross domestic product.
The country hopes to reassure potential travellers as well as Greeks, who fear a resurgence of the pandemic with the return of tourists.
Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis on Tuesday signed an agreement with German tour giant TUI aiming to bring in some 1.5 million tourists — 50 percent of the number the agent brought to Greece in 2019.
“We’re trying to save the season,” Amelia Vlachou, a jewellery shop owner on Corfu, told AFP.
“Of course it doesn’t compare with previous years when we had lots of people.”
According to Bank of Greece figures, the country in 2019 had more than 34 million visitors who spent over 18 billion euros.
Operators say a realistic revenue goal this year is up to five billion euros.
On land border crossings, travellers from Albania, North Macedonia and Turkey are only allowed in for emergency reasons or by special permission.
Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu on Thursday announced the immediate reopening of all three of the landlocked country’s international airports to help revitalise the tourism sector hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lungu said decreased economic activity since the start of April caused a loss in revenues of 20.8 billion kwachas ($1.1 billion).
He announced the reopening of the three international airports with “immediate” effect to help boost earnings, adding: “In the tourism sector… we have also got to get back to work.”
Zambia’s tourism industry — with the stunning Victoria Falls as its flagship attraction — contributed $1.8 billion to the national economy in 2018, according to data by the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Lungu directed the ministers of communication, finance, home affairs and tourism to work together to devise stringent health guidelines for arriving tourists.
Over the last 24 hours, Zambia recorded eight new coronavirus cases, for a total of 1,497 with 18 deaths. The number of recoveries now stands at 1,223.
The president urged Zambia’s more than 17 million citizens to observe high standards of hygiene as the winter season peaks in the southern hemisphere, warning that the numbers of coronavirus cases in Zambia could soar.
Italy’s tourism sector is expecting a steep fall in visits this summer and its worst revenue figures in over 20 years, an industry survey found on Thursday.
The country, which welcomed over 60 million foreign tourists in 2018, according to the World Tourism Organization, is now expecting 56 million fewer overnight stays, found the survey from Florence’s Centre for Tourism Studies (CTS).
That translates into a 3.2 billion euro ($3.6 billion) drop in turnover for the industry, one of the engines of Italy’s economy, representing the worst results since 1998, the survey found.
Nearly half of the drop in revenue will come from the hotel sector, found the study, which surveyed more than 2,100 entrepreneurs in the sector.
“A decrease was expected, but if it continues like this it will be the worst drop in the history of our tourism industry,” said Vittorio Messina, president of Assoturismo, Italy’s tourism federation, which commissioned the survey.
As the novel coronavirus pandemic wipes out recovery from jihadist attacks in 2015, Tunisia’s vital tourism sector is trying to find ways to avoid going under.
“Normally, the season starts now. But there is nobody,” said Mohammed Saddam, who owns an antiques shop in the famous blue and white village of Sidi Bou Said, near the capital Tunis.
Usually, its streets are filled with tourists at this time of year, but now Saddam is only opening his store for an hour a day to air it out.
“We are waiting for the airspace to reopen,” he said. “But 2020 is a write-off.”
The North African country has registered 45 deaths from the COVID-19 illness, and for several days this week saw no new infections, putting it among Mediterranean countries faring relatively well in the pandemic.
But the crisis has led to a shortfall in tourism revenues of six billion dinars (over $2 billion), the country’s national tourism office has estimated, and some 400,000 jobs are at risk.
The sector had been bouncing back to levels not seen since before the 2011 revolution that toppled longtime autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
“Tunisia had started off the year well, with an increase in (tourism) revenue of 28 percent,” said Feriel Gadhoumi, a coordinator at the tourism office.
But that all came to a halt in March as countries imposed travel restrictions and border closures to curb the spread of the pandemic.
Now, seaside resorts are empty and hoteliers are trying to salvage what they can of the season, counting on the country’s relatively optimistic health situation and sector-specific virus prevention measures.
– Steps to ‘regain trust’ –
While most hotels have shut for now, some are providing accommodation for people in compulsory quarantine, notably Tunisians repatriated from abroad.
The tourism ministry is preparing protocols for facilities that reopen, with some planning to do so from June.
Measures are expected to include temperature checks at hotel entrances, rooms being disinfected and left empty for 48 hours between guests and the intensive cleaning of common areas.
Such steps are necessary to “regain the trust of partners”, Gadhoumi from the tourism office said.
The UN World Tourism Organization has warned that international tourist numbers could drop by 60 to 80 percent in 2020.
The sector accounts for around 14 percent of Tunisia’s GDP, according to the tourism ministry.
Other changes could include offering fixed menus instead of buffets and giving guests the same tables and umbrellas for the length of their stay, hotel sales manager Anis Souissi said.
Clients will focus “on health and hygiene”, he added.
But it is unclear whether hotels, some of which are already on the edge of bankruptcy, will be able to make the necessary investments.
Even before the pandemic struck, a series of crises had weakened Tunisia’s tourism sector.
After the political instability that followed the fall of Ben Ali, jihadist attacks in 2015 targeted European holiday-makers at the Bardo museum in Tunis and the coastal tourist resort of Sousse.
The attacks killed 60 people, many of them British tourists, and dealt a heavy blow to the sector.
– Limited options –
The security situation has greatly improved since then, and tourist numbers last year had returned to pre-2011 levels, with 9.5 million visitors.
But the collapse in September of British tour operator Thomas Cook, which brought five percent of Tunisia’s European tourists, shook some hotels.
Thomas Cook had suspended trips to Tunisia after the attacks, but had returned in force in the last two years.
Now, the sector is searching for ways to survive, as the coronavirus crisis persists and as passenger flights from Europe, Tunisia’s main market, are expected to remain grounded for much of the summer.
Although thousands of foreigners remain stuck in the country due to border closures and flight suspensions, their presence won’t be nearly enough.
Instead, hoteliers have their eyes set on local tourists, as well as Algerian or Russian holiday-makers who helped dampen the previous crises.
But domestic tourism accounts for just 20 percent of Tunisia’s market, and many locals have seen their income and holiday allowances disappear during the lockdown.
Bringing more bad news, Algeria has been seriously affected by the pandemic and reopening its borders is not envisaged in the short term, while Russia currently has the second-highest number of reported infections in the world.
“Targeting the local market and preparing for the next season are the only choices we have,” sales manager Souissi said.
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigeria is safe and secure for tourism and investment, which will improve the economy.
The President made this declaration on Tuesday in Abuja, when he received the Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Mr Zurab Pololikashvili, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The President said it would have been inconceivable to host an international tourism conference in Abuja four years ago, because of security concerns.
‘‘I am pleased that the country is now sufficiently safe and secure, and the message should go out to the world for all tourists and business travellers. The first thing tourists look out for is security and I am happy we have it now.
‘‘Minister Lai Mohammed has been trying to convince the world that Nigeria is safe and has great potentials for tourism and investment. I am glad that you and your team have come here to see things for yourself,’’ the President told the UN tourism chief, who is in Abuja for the 61st UNWTO Commission for Africa (CAF) conference.
Highlighting the nexus between tourism and sustainable development, the President said Nigeria would not be left behind in ensuring that communities and businesses benefit from tourism development.
In his remarks, Pololikashvili commended Nigeria for the successful hosting of the conference which brings together African Ministers of Tourism, principal executives of the global tourism body and other stakeholders in the tourism sector.
The UN tourism chief told the President Nigeria had huge potential to develop the tourism sector considering its large economy.
‘‘We can do it in Nigeria, we can create, convert Nigeria to the main tourist destination in Africa. There is a huge potential here. Culture, nature, food you have everything here.
‘‘You are investing in agriculture, improving seamless travel through visa-on-arrival programme, reforming the economy and doing so much on security. Nigeria is safe,’’ Pololikashvili said.
Also speaking, the Information and Culture Minister said 166 delegates, including 26 tourism ministers from Africa are attending the UN tourism conference, holding from June 4 to June 6 in Abuja.
Rwanda has become the official tourism partner of English football club Arsenal FC, whose players will sport a “Visit Rwanda” logo on their sleeves, the club announced Wednesday.
The tiny country’s leader, President Paul Kagame, is an ardent Arsenal fan and often expresses his opinions about the club’s performances during summits and on social media.
The three-year deal with Arsenal is the latest bid by Kigali to draw tourists and investors to the country, burnishing its reputation as a safe, sought-after destination.
Ever since the devastating 1994 genocide in which 800,000 mainly Tutsis were killed, the country has been praised for a swift economic turnaround.
“The country has been transformed in recent years and Arsenal’s huge following will bring Rwanda into people’s minds in a new and dynamic way,” Arsenal’s chief commercial officer, Vinai Venkatesham, said in a statement.
“The Arsenal shirt is seen 35 million times a day around the world and we are one of the most viewed teams around the world.”
As the club’s first-ever sleeve partner, the “Visit Rwanda” logo will appear on the shirt of all first team, under-23 and Arsenal Women’s players from the new season this August, the club has announced.
Rwanda Development Board CEO, Clare Akamanzi, said that the sponsorship deal will highlight the country’s tourism offers, but would not be drawn on how much it had cost.
“While we cannot disclose the amount, the partnership cost is part of our marketing budget to promote Rwanda and attract investors and tourists,” she said.
Rwanda is one of only three countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, where one can see mountain gorillas.
The country has in recent years re-introduced lions and rhino to its Akagera National Park — which had gone extinct due to poor conservation — to become a Big Five safari destination.
“In addition, we are telling investors to Visit Rwanda and discover why we are the second fastest growing economy in Africa, growing at 7.3 percent per annum,” said Akamanzi.
She added that Arsenal players from the men’s and women’s teams will visit Rwandaand club coaches will host coaching camps to support the development of football in the country.
Rwanda received 1.3 million visitor arrivals in 2017 and tourism is Rwanda‘s largest foreign exchange earner, government statistics show.
The country has decided to focus on high-end low-impact tourism, and last year doubled the price of a gorilla permit to $1,500 (1,300 euros).
Kagame is revered in some quarters for stopping Rwanda‘s genocide and engineering what admirers see as an economic miracle, but rights groups accuse him of crushing all opposition and ruling through fear.
The 60-year-old won a third-term in office last year after the constitution was changed to allow him to potentially stay in power for another two decades.
The management of DR Congo’s Virunga Park announced on Tuesday that it has temporarily halted tourist activities after the murder of a guard and the kidnapping of two British holidaymakers.
“The Virunga National Park has decided to suspend tourist visits until Monday, June 4 because of the security incident that occurred on Friday, May 11, 2018,” a statement said.
On Friday a Congolese park guard was killed in an attack before two British tourists — Robert Jesty and Bethan Davies — and their Congolese driver were kidnapped.
The three were freed after two days. The UK pair were unharmed, while the driver was injured.
Joel Wengamulay, the spokesman for the park, said: “We are strengthening our security measures before resuming tourism activities on June 4, 2018.”
One of the most important conservation sites in the world, Virunga Park covers 7,800 square kilometres (3,000 miles) along a swathe of eastern DR Congo abutting the border with Uganda and Rwanda. It also covers most of Lake Edward and the Ishasha river valley.
Established in 1925, Virunga is home to about a quarter of the world’s population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as to eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, lions, elephants and hippos.
But it is located in DR Congo’s North Kivu province, where armed groups are fighting for control of territorial and natural resources, and poaching is a major threat.
Eight eco-guards at Virunga Park have died in the line of duty since the beginning of the year.
As part of the measures aimed at tackling of crime in Lagos State, the Acting Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Imohimi Edgal, has set up a 10-man Committee.
It is expected that the committee will come up with a strategy that will be used to end drug peddling and prevent bandits from gaining access to the establishments to plan crimes, while also strengthening security in the tourism sector, according to a statement by the Lagos Police Command’s spokesperson, Folarin Famous-Cole, on Sunday.
The committee chaired by the Managing Director of Farm City Lounge, Mr Lanre Carew, is to complement the efforts of the police in tackling the menace of criminal activities and to actualise the vision of the state Governor, Mr Akiwunmi Ambode, in ensuring a 24-hour business-friendly state.
The move, according to the CP, became necessary after he received intelligence on the rising number of young people peddling drugs.
Addressing stakeholders during a meeting in the hospitality industry at the Command Headquarters in Ikeja, the state capital, he said, “Young men and women freely use narcotic substances at times in the seating areas, at times more hidden in the toilet areas of our clubs, lounges, hotels to the knowledge of the operators but they are doing nothing about it. This is wrong.
“Intelligence report at my disposal reveals that there is increased drug peddling, drug abuse in most of our nightclubs, lounges, beaches and so on across the state. The scourge of drugs and its attendant effect not only healthwise on the young population but also a very clear correlation between drug and crime is something that should make every responsible Lagosian worried.
“The ease with which our youths are getting access to drugs at clubs, lounges, beaches and so on is worrisome and our meeting here today is to send a very strong signal to operators that it is not going to be business as usual.”
The police boss had while chiding most tour operators in the state of partnering with criminals, lamented that such spots were used to promote prostitution which could breed criminal activities.
The CP said, “It has also been observed that some hotels in the state now give rooms to minors and also sell alcoholic drinks to them, while under-aged girls were also being allowed to use such establishments for prostitution.
“We also have the issue of criminals hibernating and having to save haven on all our beaches, hotels, clubs, lounges these days. The last intelligence report I received indicates that young men now move around these establishments armed.
“This is very dangerous for the security of the State. We have it on good authority that some of these establishments are used as meeting points to plan crimes before they execute.”