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Ethiopian Airlines Leads Singapore’s Charm Offensive in Nigeria

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Ethiopian AIrlines
  • Ethiopian Airlines Leads Singapore’s Charm Offensive in Nigeria

The Singapore Tourism Board recently showcased delights awaiting Nigerian tourists in the Southeast Asian country at an event in Lagos. However, tour operators highlighted a burning issue that needs to be addressed, reports Demola Ojo.

A new drive to entice Nigerian tourists to Singapore is being spearheaded by Ethiopian Airlines in collaboration with the Singapore Tourism Board. Africa’s leading airline (fleet size, fleet age, connections and more) has being making commercial flights into Nigeria from the time of Nigeria’s independence.

As an organization that preaches pan-African, Ethiopian Airlines has made its mandate to connect Africa to the rest of the world. It flies to 94 international destinations and more destinations in Africa than any other airline. In recent times, it has helped ease access to Far East destinations like Japan and China.

The airline serves Nigeria from four locations (Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Enugu) with the most modern planes in the world; the Airbus A350, the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner.

Ethiopian recently announced plans to reinstate flights from Addis to Changi Airport in Singapore. Starting June 1, Ethiopian will fly to Singapore five times a week. Marrying Africa’s leading travellers with one of the world’s most attractive destinations makes good business sense; especially when the pitch includes reduced time of travel between Nigeria and Singapore at more competitive rates.

In a bid to showcase what Singapore has to offer Nigerians, key travel personnel from the Asian country were present in Lagos last week for a roadshow that attracted leading tour operators in Nigeria and the travel media. The roadshow was a collaboration between Ethiopian Airlines and the Singapore Tourism Board.

Representing the four main nationalities in the multi-cultural country (Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian) were Neo Wei Shan, a manager at Changi Airport, Sidney Chua and Dilshaad Buhariwata from the two leading tour companies in Singapore, and Mohammed Firhan, Area Director Middle East and Africa for the Singapore Tourism Board. Together, they sold Destination Singapore to all present.

Singapore’s Allure

Despite being a small island of 5.5 million inhabitants, Singapore welcomed 16.4 million tourists last year, more than three times its population. However, the percentage of that number from Nigeria and Africa in general is minute; it is a number the Tourism Board will like to see increase.

Being an all-year round destination with a tropical climate is just one of the many advantages Singapore has over other destinations competing for tourist dollars. This asides the fact English is the official language. Another selling point is the city-state’s multiculturalism which is reflected in its cuisine, art and architecture. It is a shopper’s paradise, a family destination with a vibrant nightlife all wrapped into a carefully-planned green city.

Singapore is also big on nature and wildlife and offers night and river safaris, with a quarter of the 2,800 animals in its world famous zoo are considered threatened.

Singapore hosts many sports events with the Formula One race at Marina Bay one of the biggest. Held in September, it is usually the best time to enjoy the country as so many events are held around this time, including concerts featuring the world’s biggest entertainers. Of course this also translates to paying a premium for hotel rooms.

The Singapore Grand Prix is unique because it is a street race held at night. The racing cars drive through the streets rather than a racecourse. It means tourists can see the race from their hotel rooms. This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the Grand Prix at Marina Bay, so it’s expected to be bigger than ever.

Another smart move by Singapore to attract tourists is by positioning itself as a gateway to other countries in Southeast Asia through cruise holidays. There are packages that enable tourists see up to five other countries in the region including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia and more.

Changi Airport in Singapore is a destination in itself. Being such a tiny country made up of dozens of islands, all flights are international flights. Due to its location (and vision) it is a major hub connecting east to west and one of the world’s busiest airports. Changi the airport with the most awards in the world and amenities like a rooftop swimming pool for traveller’s to relax is just one of many reasons why.

The Visa Snag

After the presentations which wowed the audience, Nigeria’s leading travel agents and tour operators were unanimous in their observation. They all concluded that Singapore isn’t a hard sell and doesn’t even need much marketing because the product is world class. However, the difficulty in getting visas, even for high net worth individuals, has limited the number of Nigerian tourists to Singapore. Businessmen have had to contend with single entry visas, including those who have visited up to twenty times, while the High Commission doesn’t sit in Nigeria.

If the visa process is seamless they suggested, there would be a stream of Nigerian tourists to Singapore, with E-visa being the answer. “It is the prerogative of the immigration authorities in Singapore,” Mohammed Firhan said. “We’re in dialogue with them to ease the visa process not only for Nigeria, but for other parts of Africa.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Crude Oil

Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

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Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

Oil retreated from an earlier rally with investment banks and traders predicting the market can go significantly higher in the months to come.

Futures in New York pared much of an earlier increase to $63 a barrel as the dollar climbed and equities slipped. Bank of America said prices could reach $70 at some point this year, while Socar Trading SA sees global benchmark Brent hitting $80 a barrel before the end of the year as the glut of inventories built up during the Covid-19 pandemic is drained by the summer.

The loss of oil output after the big freeze in the U.S. should help the market firm as much of the world emerges from lockdowns, according to Trafigura Group. Inventory data due later Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute and more from the Energy Department on Wednesday will shed more light on how the Texas freeze disrupted U.S. oil supply last week.

Oil has surged this year after Saudi Arabia pledged to unilaterally cut 1 million barrels a day in February and March, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicting the rally will accelerate as demand outpaces global supply. Russia and Riyadh, however, will next week once again head into an OPEC+ meeting with differing opinions about adding more crude to the market.

“The freeze in the U.S. has proved supportive as production was cut,” said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro. “We still expect that Russia will push for a significant rise in production,” which could soon weigh on prices, he said.

PRICES

  • West Texas Intermediate for April fell 27 cents to $61.43 a barrel at 9:20 a.m. New York time
  • Brent for April settlement fell 8 cents to $65.16

Brent’s prompt timespread firmed in a bullish backwardation structure to the widest in more than a year. The gap rose above $1 a barrel on Tuesday before easing to 87 cents. That compares with 25 cents at the start of the month.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and oil trader Vitol Group shot down talk of a new oil supercycle, though they said a lack of supply response will keep prices for crude prices firm in the short term.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Rise With Storm-hit U.S. Output Set for Slow Return

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Crude oil

Oil Prices Rise With Storm-hit U.S. Output Set for Slow Return

Oil prices rose on Monday as the slow return of U.S. crude output cut by frigid conditions served as a reminder of the tight supply situation, just as demand recovers from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brent crude was up $1.38, or 2.2%, at $64.29 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate gained $1.38, or 2.33%, to trade at $60.62 per barrel.

Abnormally cold weather in Texas and the Plains states forced the shutdown of up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production along with 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas output, analysts estimated.

Shale oil producers in the region could take at least two weeks to restart the more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude output affected, sources said, as frozen pipes and power supply interruptions slow their recovery.

“With three-quarters of fracking crews standing down, the likelihood of a fast resumption is low,” ANZ Research said in a note.

For the first time since November, U.S. drilling companies cut the number of oil rigs operating due to the cold and snow enveloping Texas, New Mexico and other energy-producing centres.

OPEC+ oil producers are set to meet on March 4, with sources saying the group is likely to ease curbs on supply after April given a recovery in prices, although any increase in output will likely be modest given lingering uncertainty over the pandemic.

“Saudi Arabia is eager to pursue yet higher prices in order to cover its social break-even expenses at around $80 a barrel while Russia is strongly focused on unwinding current cuts and getting back to normal production,” said SEB chief commodity analyst Bjarne Schieldrop.

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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Rose Above $65 Per Barrel as US Production Drop Due to Texas Weather

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oil

Crude Oil Rose Above $65 Per Barrel as US Production Drop Due to Texas Weather

Oil prices rose to $65.47 per barrel on Thursday as crude oil production dropped in the US due to frigid Texas weather.

The unusual weather has left millions in the dark and forced oil producers to shut down production. According to reports, at least the winter blast has claimed 24 lives.

Brent crude oil gained $2 to $65.47 on Thursday morning before pulling back to $64.62 per barrel around 11:00 am Nigerian time.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 2.3 percent to settle at $61.74 per barrel.

“This has just sent us to the next level,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York. “Crude oil WTI will probably max out somewhere pretty close to $65.65, refinery utilization rate will probably slide to somewhere around 76%,” Yawger said.

However, the report that Saudi Arabia plans to increase production in the coming months weighed on crude oil as it can be seen in the chart below.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister, warned that it was too early to declare victory against the COVID-19 virus and that oil producers must remain “extremely cautious”.

“We are in a much better place than we were a year ago, but I must warn, once again, against complacency. The uncertainty is very high, and we have to be extremely cautious,” he told an energy industry event.

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