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Egypt Eyes Tourism Boom Despite Regional Tensions

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Despite the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, Egypt’s tourism sector remains optimistic about meeting its target of 15 million arrivals in 2023 with expectations of further growth in 2024.

The North African nation is gearing up for a hotel-building initiative to address the pressing need for additional capacity, aiming to add at least 25,000 rooms in 2024 and 40,000 the following year.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Issa emphasized that the scarcity of hotel rooms is the primary challenge, prompting the government to consider incentives such as tax breaks to expedite construction.

“The No. 1 challenge that Egypt faces today is the number of hotel rooms. We need at least 25,000 additional rooms in 2024 and 40,000 the year after,” said Issa.

Tourism, a crucial component of Egypt’s economy, is gaining increased significance amid the country’s fiscal challenges.

Despite concerns raised by the Israel-Hamas conflict impacting nearby countries, including Egypt, the relative containment of the conflict and the favorable exchange rates due to currency devaluations have made Egypt an attractive destination.

In the past financial year, tourism revenue in Egypt reached a record $13.6 billion, with a focus on attracting higher-spending tourists and solid visitor numbers from countries like Germany and Russia.

The government is also looking to tap into the vast potential of Chinese tourists, aiming for 1 million Chinese visitors between now and 2028. While Red Sea cities like Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada continue to be popular, efforts are underway to promote tourism in the northwestern Mediterranean coast.

To encourage further development, the tourism and finance ministries are proposing incentives for hotel builders, including rebates for funding costs and potential tax holidays on capital expenditure.

Issa stated, “We’re going to seek the approval of the cabinet over the coming couple of weeks” and expects to announce the incentives “before the end of December.”

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Air Peace to Launch Direct Flights to London, Sets March 30 for Inaugural Journey

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Nigeria’s leading airline, Air Peace, has unveiled plans to commence direct flight operations to London, with the inaugural flight scheduled for March 30, 2024.

The announcement came during a prelaunch forum organized by the airline, engaging travel agencies and partners involved in the upcoming London flight operations.

The Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Oluwatoyin Olajide, assured stakeholders that the London operations would be daily and conducted with Boeing 777 aircraft and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, known for their modernity and efficiency.

Olajide emphasized the direct, non-stop nature of the flights, without layovers, and the airline’s commitment to providing unbeatable fares.

Air Peace Chairman, Allen Onyema, disclosed that the airline had received approval from the Federal Government, facilitated by the Federal Ministry of Aviation, for flights to New York, USA.

Onyema also declared a unified commission for all airline agents, regardless of size or status.

With commendations from industry leaders and associations for Air Peace’s nationalistic drive and dedication to the country, the airline is poised to connect Nigeria with London and further enhance its international presence.

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Nigeria to Implement Biometric Clearance Gates at International Airports by March 2024

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Nigeria is gearing up to introduce a significant upgrade to its airport security measures with the implementation of biometric clearance gates at international airports by March 2024.

This move aims to streamline passenger processing and bolster national security efforts.

Under the plan, five major international airports across Nigeria, including the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Port Harcourt International Airport, and Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu, will be equipped with biometric clearance gates.

These gates will utilize advanced technology to provide seamless clearance services for passengers entering the country.

Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, emphasized that the installation of biometric gates reflects Nigeria’s commitment to enhancing border control management and adhering to global best practices.

The gates are expected to significantly reduce clearance times, with a passenger clearing in just 30 seconds.

Tunji-Ojo highlighted the gates’ dual purpose: expediting passenger processing while also enhancing national security by allowing for quick identification of persons of interest.

The initiative aligns with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, aiming to provide quality services to Nigerians while ensuring national security.

This modernization effort is poised to address long-standing issues of delays and improve the overall travel experience for passengers at Nigeria’s international airports.

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Foreign Embassies Given Two Weeks to Settle $5.36M in Ground Rents

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The Nigerian Government has issued a firm ultimatum to 43 foreign embassies and diplomatic houses in Abuja, the nation’s capital, demanding the settlement of outstanding ground rents totaling $5.36 million within two weeks.

In an official advertorial published by the Federal Capital Territory Administration in the Newspaper, the government emphasized the urgency of the matter.

Failure to comply within the stipulated period could result in the revocation of the rent titles held by the diplomatic entities.

The notice serves as a final warning to embassies, including prominent ones like the British High Commission, South African High Commission, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, and the Embassy of Japan, among others.

These embassies and diplomatic entities have been identified as defaulters in the payment of their ground rents.

This directive underscores the Nigerian government’s commitment to ensuring compliance with legal obligations and financial commitments within its jurisdiction, regardless of the status of the entities involved.

The ultimatum is reminiscent of a similar notice issued last September to organizations in Abuja, emphasizing the importance of timely payment of annual rents.

The consequence of non-compliance, as stated in the notice, is the potential revocation of land titles.

The deadline creates a sense of urgency among the affected diplomatic missions, as failure to meet the payment deadline could lead to diplomatic tensions and logistical challenges for the embassies involved.

As the clock ticks, attention is focused on how these foreign embassies will respond to the Nigerian government’s ultimatum and whether they will meet the financial obligations within the stipulated timeframe.

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