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Month: May 2015

The tourism industry has welcomed the fact that KwaZulu Natal has temporarily shelved plans to introduce a controversial 10% tourism levy. The province announced in August last year it would collect a hospitality levy to create a ‘war chest’ for the province to attract major events.

MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Mike Mabuyakhulu, announced during his Budget Policy speech earlier this month that the levy would not be implemented this financial year and that the alternative date would be announced after a consultation process with industry stakeholders was finalised.

Said Mabuyakhulu: “A consultative process with various stakeholders on the tourism levy took place between September and November and we are currently considering recommendations received from stakeholders. These recommendations made by a multi-disciplinary consultative team that constituted industry players are still to be refined further.”

Donovan Muirhead, Chairman of the National Accommodation Association of South Africa, said: “This is welcoming news, considering the impact we are already feeling from the increased cost base and decline in forward reservation numbers due to the impending visa regulations.”

Muirhead added that tourism in KZN had seen many positives developments, which is why it was important to create an environment that encouraged tourism growth, not stagnate it with legislation that – although well intended – would have disastrous consequences.

“I’m glad sanity has prevailed with KZN,” says David Frost, CEO SATSA. He adds the focus now needs to shift on getting SA Tourism and TKZN to work more coherently with the trade to drive geographical spread, which will obviate the desire for marginal provinces to resort to desperate measures, such as the 10% levy.

Article Source: Tourism Update

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is setting the stage for significant and ambitious growth within the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region according to its president and chief executive officer, Arne Sorenson. Visiting Dubai for both the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) and the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), Mr. Sorenson outlined regional growth plans that anticipate growth of the company’s MEA portfolio to over 240 properties by 2020, with plans to add roughly 80 properties and almost 16,500 rooms. At present, the hotel company operates or franchises164 properties in the MEA region, across 9 brands in 17 countries.

During his time at ATM, Mr. Sorenson, along with His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of ASQ Hotels, also announced the signing of the company’s newest property, in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, the Ras Al Khaimah Marriott Resort. Due to open by 2019, the 300-room beach-front Marriott Hotel will be the first Marriott Hotels branded property in the emirate, reinforcing the company’s plan to increase its UAE footprint to 25 properties by 2020.

“The Middle East and Africa region offers a tremendous opportunity for Marriott International,” said Sorenson. “We have ambitious plans for growth internationally and the region will play a large part in helping us achieve both our short-term and long-term targets. By the end of this year we should surpass 1 million rooms open or in development worldwide, with new hotels expected to create 150,000 new hotel jobs as they open.”

Transcending borders as well as market segments, Marriott International’s MEA growth over the next few years should see, among other key areas, its footprint increase in the priority markets of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia with almost half of the properties set to open, located in these two countries. Within KSA, the hotel company expects to almost triple the size of its operations with the addition of over 4000 rooms across 20 hotels by 2020, building upon its current 1800 rooms across 8 properties.

Marriott International has also outlined its region-wide plan to strengthen the presence of its brand portfolio, particularly the Marriott Hotels brand. This year alone, the MEA region will see more Marriott Hotels opening than any other Marriott International brand and along with it, the introduction of the brand into three new MEA destinations including Fez, Morocco, where a 224-room property is set to open, and Constantine, Algeria, where a 244-room Marriott Hotel is opening. Rounding out the three new properties, the opening of the 426-room Marriott Hotel in Makkah in Saudi Arabia will also mark a significant milestone for the brand as its first-ever property in a holy city. By 2020, the brand should see 20 Marriott Hotels open across the region.

Supporting this growth, Marriott International is projecting to increase its MEA base of talent to 21,000 Associates by 2018.

“Our growth and success to date within the Middle East and Africa is in large part to the members of our team, our associates, who by 2018 are projected to be 21,000 strong within the region,” Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Marriott International Middle East and Africa. “It is our associates – those who strive day in and day out to care, help and assist in every possible way – that make the company the very best it can be.”

Along with key growth within the UAE and KSA and following last year’s acquisition of Protea Hospitality, Africa will also remain a key priority for the company with openings set to take place in Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Ethiopia and Rwanda in 2015. Four new Protea properties are also expected to open in Cape Town, South Africa this year, further solidifying the hotel company’s position as the largest hotel operator on the continent. Within Egypt, we are growing with the recent signing of the iconic Mena House and the opening of The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo, boosted by the recent regional announcement of the #Activ8Egypt campaign, which reinforces the company’s commitment to the revival of Egypt’s tourism sector.

Article Source: Hotel News Resource

DA Shadow Minister of Tourism, James Vos, will submit an official complaint to the Tourism Complaints Officer, Mirriam Setwaba, to investigate and address the Department of Home Affairs’ “draconian visa regulations”, which are set to come into force in five days. The regulations include the requirement that minors travelling into and out of South Africa to produce unabridged birth certificates.

An angered James Vos, DA Shadow Minister of Tourism, told TAM that the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee, which he attended on Tuesday (May 26), was adamant that the new regulations should be implemented. “An estimated 20% of air travel in South Africa includes families and children, and this will obviously be negatively impacted should the regulations come into effect,” he said. “We cannot afford to negatively impact an industry that contributes 9% to the country’s GDP.”

At the Portfolio Committee, Vos argued that Chapter 18 of the Children’s Act be implemented, rather than the regulations that will come into effect in five days’ time. “You cannot go ahead with new regulations without a proper assessment of the impact.”

Vos said he asked the Committee whether proper regulatory methods had been undertaken before the decision was made to implement these regulations and who had been consulted. He said he was told “the meeting was not about that”, rather, it was about child trafficking.

“It is completely misleading to say the tourism industry has been consulted in the implementation of these regulations because this Committee is clearly refusing to listen to the industry,” he said. “The industry has not had the opportunity to sit down with Home Affairs to unpack the real implications of these regulations.”

SATSA ceo, David Frost, also said that trade stakeholders had not been substantially consulted. “He (Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba) set up a task team to investigate the implementation of these regulations. He has never once consulted the task team.” Frost also said that since SATSA received the standard operating procedures for the new regulations almost a fortnight ago, they have been changed three times. “They keep telling us to prepare, but what do we prepare?”

“It is a shocker and an absolute aberration of our democracy that this is being perpetrated,” said Frost.

Vos will be taking his complaints to the Tourism Complaints Officer of South Africa. The Tourism Complaints Officer must address the following with regards to the regulations, he said:

Whether such onerous regulations are international best practice;
Which other countries have instituted similar regulations and what impact has this had;
Whether a proper economic and regulatory impact assessment was undertaken prior to the regulations being drafted; and
Why there were no formal engagements with any tourism industry associations.

“If government fails to heed the concerns of the industry, we run the risk of losing international visitor interest in our country.”

Meanwhile, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture, Beverley Schäfer MPP, will lead a protest today (May 27) against the implementation of new immigration regulations.

Schäfer will call on Minister Gigaba to stop the implementation of the regulations during her speech at the Budget Vote debate on Home Affairs in the NCOP. The picket will commence at 12h00 on the corner of Commercial and Plein Street, Cape Town.

Article Source: Tourism Update

The diplomat said so when addressing as the dean of the African ambassadors to Spain at the 7th meeting of the Diplomatic Council of Africa House, held under the celebration of 25 May, dedicated to the continent.

Vítor Lima underlined that 52nd founding anniversary of the African Union, taking place at a time that the African states are committed to strengthening democracy, peace and social, political and economic stability.

“The stability of each African country is the best guarantee to boost the development of the continent”, stressed the diplomat.

Victor Lima added that the stability also contributes to the creation of better living conditions of the peoples and accelerate the development such as the respect for the human rights, freedom of expression and mainly a better distribution of wealth.

The meeting was attended by the African ambassadors to Spain, the Secretary of Forein Affairs of Spain, Ignacio Ybáñes Rubio and director general of the Africa House, Luis Padrón.

Article Source: ANGOP