Travel News

Foreign Demand Drives Portugal Home Prices to 30-Year High - BLOOMBERG

JANUARY 25, 2023

BY  Henrique Almeida and Ainhoa GoyenecheBloomberg News


(Bloomberg) -- Home prices in Portugal had the biggest annual rise in more than three decades, defying expectations that rising interest rates would dampen demand for property in the southern European nation. 

House prices increased 18.7% in 2022 from the previous year, Confidencial Imobiliario, which collects data on the property market, said in an email. While the annual gains are the biggest since 1991, Confidencial said its data also indicated that the country’s housing market was slowing down.

The rise in property prices has been caused by growing demand from foreign buyers, who have flocked to Portugal in search of a warm climate, lower costs of living and the so-called “golden visa” program, which ties residency permits to real estate purchases. These buyers are willing to pay more than twice as much as domestic buyers for a home in Lisbon, the country’s National Statistics Institute said in a report in April, exacerbating concerns over housing affordability.

Housing Crisis

Today, most Portuguese believe that their country is in the midst of a housing crisis, according to a survey by weekly newspaper Expresso. More than half of those queried want the government to roll back incentives for foreign buyers, including the golden visa program. 

Investment in the program increased 42% to €654 million ($711 million) in 2022 from the previous year. According to the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service, this came mostly from U.S. and Chinese buyers.

Slower Gains

Still, data from Confidencial Imobiliario showed that home-price gains in Portugal slowed over a quarter-on-quarter basis toward the end of 2022. Prices rose just 3.2% in the fourth quarter, down from 3.7% in the third quarter, 5% in the second quarter and 5.5% in the first quarter of last year.

In a Jan. 11 report, S&P Global Ratings forecast that house prices in Portugal will fall 4.4% this year after rising 6.8% in 2022. That would be the biggest decline among the 11 European countries covered, and according to the ratings agency, would reflect the impact of higher interest rates in a country in which a large share of mortgages are variable rate.

In neighboring Spain, S&P predicts that home prices will drop 2.5% this year after increasing an estimated 4.1% in 2022. 

To try to regulate real estate demand, in 2021 Portugal began restricting its golden visa program to property purchases outside Lisbon and the northern city of Porto. The program was launched more than a decade ago in a bid to fix Portugal’s public finances following a 2011 bailout from the European Union, and it has since raised €6.8 billion.

Nigeria Introduces Vehicular, Generator Emission Control Programmes - ARISE NEWS

JANUARY 25, 2023

Nigeria”s Federal Government has flagged off the National Generator Emission Control Programme (NGECP) and the National Vehicular Emission Control Programme (NVECP) in order to reduce air pollution in the country.

Speaking at the official flag-off of the two programmes in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of Environment, Muhammed Abdullahi said though vehicles commuting between communities play a key role in the socio-economic development of the country, but they continued to remain one of the biggest contributor to air pollution.

The Minister said: “It is worthy of mentioning that road transportation in Nigeria with over twelve million (12,000,000) vehicles plying the roads is playing a key role in the socio – economic development of country. Unfortunately, despite significant advances in fuel efficiency and emission reductions, the transport sector remained one of the major sources of air pollution in Nigeria.”

He equally lamented that fumes from the generating sets which are patronized by many Nigerians equally contribute massively to the air pollution in the country, explaining that: “Demand for electricity in Nigeria is currently increasing more above the supply from the national grid. A significant proportion of this shortfall is met with onsite generating sets (gensets) at consumer locations; some of these gensets operating between 15-18 hours a day (NBS, SMEDAN 2010). The market consists of gensets of varying quality and prices. Unfortunately, these diesel gensets contribute emissions of fine particulate matter (PM), including black carbon, which derives from the incomplete combustion of diesel (as occurs in many diesel gensets).”

He lamented that the wide range and indiscriminate use of these generators for both domestic and industrial power supply, and the quantum of harmful pollutants such as Oxides of Nitrogen (NOX), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Carbon monoxide (CO), and partially unbent hydrocarbons emitted have contributed greatly to the poor air quality which negatively affects the environment and human health.

The Minister however noted that in recogntion of the need to protect the environment and human life from the dangers posed by toxic air emissions, the Federal Government of Nigeria promulgated environmental regulations cutting across all sectors of the economy which the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) is implementing.

He disclosed that some of these environmental regulations include the National Environmental (Control of Emissions from Petrol and Diesel Engines) Regulations, 2011 and the National Environmental (Air Quality Control) Regulations, 2021, stressing that the National Vehicular Emissions Control Programme (NVECP) and National Generator Emissions Control Programme (NGECP) were designed to address the emissions from mobile and stationary sources.

As part of the NESREA mandate and to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement as spelled out in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s), the operationalization of the National Environmental (Control of Emissions from Petrol and Diesel Engines) Regulation 2011 and the National Environmental (Air Quality Control) Regulations, 2021 were scaled-up with two programmes:

He said the NGCP and the NVECP are strategies aimed at cutting down emissions of pollutants from generators (stationary source) as well as vehicles (mobile source). The programmes would be implemented under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) and will involve periodic (annual) testing of the generators and vehicles for toxic and greenhouses gases emissions.

He revealed that in this strategy, the responsibility of National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) will be to set national emission standards and to develop a reliable national database management system for all emissions data generated from the two programmes (NVECP, and NGECP) in Nigeria.

He revealed that the implementation of the NGECP would be starting with power generating sets of capacity from 10 KVA and above, while for NVECP the lowest limit would be Euro III emission standard as agreed at the ECOWAS regional level.

Also speaking, the Director General/CEO of NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro lamented that the demand for electricity which is not met by the national grid has created market for gensets that have contributed to air pollution, noting that vehicles too have contributed massive to air pollution.

He said with the introduction of the two programmes, the agency would be able to meet its vision of ensuring a cleaner and healthier environment.

Michael Olugbode

Luxury London Real Estate Draws Most Mideast Buyers in 4 Years - BLOOMBERG

JANUARY 25, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- Middle Eastern buyers of prime real estate in central London hit a four-year high in the second half of 2022, when they took advantage of the weak pound and relaxed covid restrictions, according to property consultant Knight Frank LLP. 

Buyers from the region accounted for 11% of property transactions in some of London’s most prestigious postcodes, putting them just behind investors from Europe and the UK. The last time buyers from the Middle East made up a higher proportion of sales in the area was in 2015, Knight Frank said. 

“Compared to some parts of the world, buyers from the Middle East have been relatively free to travel to London and take advantage of the weak pound, which has resulted in discounts of more than 40% compared to 2014 when price and currency movements are combined,” Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, said in a statement.

At the peak of the pandemic during the first half of 2020, investors from the Middle East accounted for just 2.2% of all of the sales in London’s top postcodes as the region — along with much of the world — enforced a series of strict social restrictions to limit the impact of the virus. 

After some initial constraints, Middle Eastern countries such as the United Arab Emirates largely stayed away from the full-scale lockdowns seen around the globe, instead relying on strict mask mandates and inoculations. The government’s nimble handling of the pandemic drew in visitors from around the world looking to escape curbs in their home countries. Dubai, part of the UAE, had one of the world’s fastest vaccination rollouts. 

Capital Inflows

London, which has long attracted huge swathes of foreign investment and drew in the most capital inflows of any global city in the first half of 2022, this year faces uncertainty over property valuations as interest rates rise and in the wake of political chaos triggered by September’s mini-budget. Foreign dealmakers accounted for 57% of London real estate investment last year, compared with 65% in 2015, according to data compiled by MSCI Inc.

“Wealthy families are not looking at London as a one or two year play, they are taking a long-term view, typically committing for the next 50 years,” said Henry Faun, head of Knight Frank’s Private Office in the Middle East. “Investors remain bullish on London’s outlook; the Emirati clients I am speaking with feel it currently offers an opportunity not matched elsewhere globally and will bounce back strongly as it always has.” 

8 Eaton Lane, one of London’s newest prime residential developments where two-bedroom apartments start at £3.8 million has attracted significant interest from buyers in the oil-rich Gulf region since sales began late last year, according to Knight Frank. The Grade II listed building in London’s Belgravia is being developed into 42 residences and seven retail units with amenities such as a gym, spa treatment rooms, swimming pool, cinema and business suite. 

Awosika expresses concern over Japa syndrome - PUNCH

JANUARY 26, 2023

By Uthman Salami

A former Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, has described the rate at which young Nigerians are relocating to developed countries in North America and Europe as a total export of Nigerian resources that will bear no return on capital investment.

Awosika said Nigerian parents have been struggling to give their children good education with scarce financial resources, but they leave to find greener pastures in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other European nations.

The former FBN boss said this at the annual Vanguard Economic Discourse 2023, themed, ‘Taming inflation and stimulating growth: The place of fiscal & monetary policies’, on Wednesday in Lagos.

She said, “In many ways, the sad part is after we have used our money to pay the countries for the education of our children, we then leave our children behind to serve them to build their own economy, even though we paid for that education.

“So I want you to dimension the impact of that. It means every penny we pay for education for every child that chooses not to come back; it was not an investment for a nation. It was a total export of resources, for which we might never get any return on capital investment.”

Awosika, however, urged the Nigerian government to address the loopholes in the economy to prevent the Japa syndrome from threatening the country.

“We have to live up to our responsibilities in upholding sanity in our socio-economic and political and leadership systems,” she said.

The keynote speaker, the Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Niyi Yusuf, said Nigeria needs to institutionalise efficiency in the administration of its tax collection systems.

He said, “Nigeria needs to improve more on widening its tax nets as opposed to increasing taxes. We don’t need a fixed tax. All we need is efficiency in the way we collect our taxes.

“We also need to think of innovative ways to attract capital as opposed to oil. Nigeria is a nation that requires huge capital to build infrastructure; to build hospitals, to build schools.”

The General Manager and Editor-in-Chief of Vanguard Media Ltd, Gbenga Adefaye, said the Vanguard Economic Discourse happened at the right time, considering the country was heading into another period of electing new leaders.

EU wants to send more migrants away as irregular arrivals grow - REUTERS

JANUARY 27, 2023

  • EU border agency says 2022 irregular arrivals highest since 2016
  • Ministers discuss stepping up returns to states including Iraq
  • Hardline migration ideas return to fore
  • Top EU migration official says no money for 'walls and fences'

STOCKHOLM, Jan 26 (Reuters) - European Union ministers on Thursday sought ways to curb irregular immigration and send more people away as arrivals rose from pandemic lows, reviving controversial ideas for border fences and asylum centres outside of Europe.

EU border agency Frontex reported some 330,000 unauthorised arrivals last year, the highest since 2016, with a sharp increase on the Western Balkans route.

"We have a huge increase of irregular arrivals of migrants," Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told talks among the 27 EU migration ministers. "We have a very low return rate and I can see we can make significant progress here."

Denmark, the Netherlands and Latvia were among those to call for more pressure through visas and development aid towards the roughly 20 countries - including Iraq and Senegal - that the EU deems fail to cooperate on taking back their nationals who have no right to stay in Europe.

Only about a fifth of such people are sent back, with insufficient resources and coordination on the EU side being another hurdle, according to the bloc's executive.

The ministerial talks come ahead of a Feb. 9-10 summit of EU leaders who will also seek more returns, according to their draft joint decision seen by Reuters.

"The overall economic malaise makes countries like Tunisia change from a transit country to a country where locals also want to go," said an EU official. "That changes things. But it's still very manageable, especially if the EU acts together."

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That, however, is easier said than done in the bloc, where immigration is a highly sensitive political issue and member countries are bitterly divided over how to share the task of caring for those who arrive in Europe.

The issue has become toxic since more than a million people crossed the Mediterranean in 2015 in chaotic and deadly scenes that caught the bloc off guard and fanned anti-immigration sentiment.

The EU has since tightened its external borders and asylum laws. With people on the move again following the COVID pandemic, the debate is returning to the fore, as are some proposals previously dismissed as inadmissible.

Denmark has held talks with Rwanda on handling asylum applicants in East Africa, while others called for EU funds for a border fence between Bulgaria and Turkey - both ideas so far seen as taboo.

"We are still working to make that happen, preferably with other European countries but, as a last resort, we'll do it only in cooperation between Denmark and, for example Rwanda," Immigration Minister Kaare Dybvad said on Thursday.

Dutch minister Eric van der Burg said he was open to EU financing for border barriers.

"EU member states continue making access to international protection as difficult as possible," the Danish Refugee Council, an NGO, said in a report on Thursday about what it said were systemic pushbacks of people at the bloc's external borders, a violation of their right to claim asylum.

While EU countries protest against irregular immigration, often comprising Muslims from the Middle East and North Africa, Germany is simultaneously seeking to open its job market to much-needed workers from outside the bloc.

"We want to conclude migration agreements with countries, particularly with North African countries, that would allow a legal route to Germany but would also include functioning returns," Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in Stockholm.

Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Bart Meiejer, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Bernadette Baum

China's open borders and push to stoke economy may revive dealmaking, advisers say - REUTERS

JANUARY 28, 2023

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE, Jan 26 (Reuters) - China's reopened borders and renewed focus on boosting the sagging economy have brightened the deals outlook, with bankers starting to field interest for mergers, acquisitions and fundraising involving the world's second-largest economy.

The prospect of a revival in deals comes as Chinese policymakers try to restore private-sector confidence and growth, which has been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and a sweeping regulatory crackdown.

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Although consumer, retail and travel-related firms are expected to bounce back after an almost three-year lockdown, advisers say sectors linked to strengthening China's economic prospects will be at the centre of dealmaking this year.

"We see strategic sectors, hardcore industrial technology, automation, semiconductor-related to be a focus for outbound activity," said Mark Webster, partner and head of Singapore at BDA Partners, an Asia-focused investment banking adviser.

"Healthcare opportunities are proving of interest, both domestically and outbound, including in Southeast Asia," he added. "Geographically, Indonesia in particular is attracting a lot of attention."

Australia has also already emerged on China's radar amid hopes of a diplomatic thaw between the two countries. In one such deal, Tianqi Lithium (002466.SZ) and IGO's (IGO.AX) joint venture are bidding for lithium miner Essential Metals.

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Outbound M&A involving companies in China halved last year to the lowest point since 2006, Refinitiv data showed, which pulled total Chinese company-led dealmaking to its lowest point in nine years.

Chinese companies' capital markets deals slipped 44% in the same period, according to Refinitiv data. That slump crimped the fees earned by Wall Street banks and forced some of them to cut jobs, mainly those linked to Chinese deals, in the past few months.

"We have had a lot more requests for proposals from companies in the past two to three weeks," said Li He, a capital markets partner at law firm Davis Polk who travelled to Beijing to meet clients the day after China's border reopened on Jan. 8.

"That is not just because of travel but people think that a reopening is good for the economy, good for capital markets and good for deal execution," He said.

The reopening coincided with a thaw in regulatory scrutiny that had seen overseas Chinese IPOs grind to a halt in the past 18 months amid proposed rule changes, and the tech sector struggle with a range of new regulations.

Until the border reopened, travel from Hong Kong into mainland China had been tightly restricted for about three years - a sharp change for advisers for whom weekly trips to China had been common.

Opened borders could lead to a pick up in deals involving private equity funds later in 2023 as firms head to China to find buyers for their assets, according to Bagrin Angelov, head of China cross-border M&A at Chinese investment bank CICC.

Chinese private equity activity was worth $24.1 billion in 2022, down from $57.8 billion a year before, Pitchbook data showed.

"Six months or one year before the deal, private equity firms would already start meeting potential buyers to try to warm up the interest and try to understand who could be interested," Beijing-based Angelov said.

"For them certainty is very important, and they really need to meet buyers very early on," he continued. "Because of opening up, we expect an uptick in overseas disposal of private equity to Chinese buyers."

Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Sydney, Yantoultra Ngui in Singalore and Roxanne Liu in Beijing. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Ethiopian to Start Passenger Service to Denmark - THISDAY

JANUARY 28, 2023

Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s leading carrier, is set to launch a new passenger flight to Copenhagen, Denmark, from 22nd of May 2023.

The new flight will be operated five times a week except on Tuesdays and Sundays. Regarding the new flight, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Mesfin Tasew said: “We are glad to open a new route to Copenhagen, Denmark which will be our 21st destination in Europe.

With the launch of the flight, Copenhagen will become a crucial gateway for Ethiopian Airlines in northern Europe and southern Scandinavia. Thanks to the wide network of Ethiopian Airlines across Africa, the new flight will enhance the air connectivity between Europe and Africa thereby facilitating trade, tourism and diplomatic relations of the two regions.”

Chief Executive Officer Copenhagen Airport, Thomas Woldbye said: “It has for a long time been our desire to improve the connection between Copenhagen and Africa. Therefore, it is really good news, that Ethiopian Airlines, who for the last five years have been awarded as the best airline in Africa, now will start flying to Copenhagen. The airport in Addis Ababa have grown to become one of Africa’s most important hubs, with onward connections to more than 60 different cities in Africa, thus this new route will be an amazing gateway to the whole continent for Copenhagen.”

28,000 Nigerians get Canadian PR in seven years – Report - PUNCH

JANUARY 28, 2023

By Stephen Angbulu

At least 28,358 Nigerians received invitations to apply for Canadian permanent residency from 2015 to 2021.

This is according to a Saturday PUNCH analysis of Express Entry annual reports issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for the years under review.

The year-end reports overview all EE process stages from profile submissions, invitations to apply, applications and admissions.

According to the report, Nigeria rose from seventh to the second most common country of citizenship of applicants who received an ITA from the Canadian authority in the four years spanning 2015 to 2019.

Within that period, the number of Nigerians who received ITAs rose by a whopping 889 per cent.

Despite  the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Canadian PR invitations to Nigerians rose by 10 per cent—from 5,882 to 6,550.

However, that number dropped by 52 per cent in the preceding year.

The breakdown showed that 609, 1041, 5129 and 6,024 ITAs were issued in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.

While 5882, 6550 and 3123 invitations were issued in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively.

In 2020, the West African state ranked 3rd globally, behind India and China.

In 2021, however, more South Koreans received ITAs than Nigerians, albeit by a small margin of seven.

From 2015 to 2021, the IRCC received at least 2,209,630 profile submissions. 59 per cent (1,303,490) of those profiles were termed “eligible” for at least one of the federal immigration programs. In contrast, 51 per cent (906,140) were ineligible.

In 2022, IRCC processed about 5.2 million permanent, temporary, and citizenship applications.

This doubled the number of applications processed in 2021.

On January 3, 2023, the Canadian government revealed that it welcomed 431,645 new permanent residents in 2022, the highest since 1913.

It plans to grant permanent residency status to 447,055 and 451,000 immigrants in 2023 and 2024, respectively.

Although the Canadian government says immigrants enrich its communities and contribute to its economy through labour, job creation and local businesses, the tale is different for source regions such as Nigeria.

A development economist, Aliyu Ilias, told Saturday PUNCH that the exit of more Nigerians and their permanent settlement in Canada meant less skilled labour for the country.

“It’s definitely a cause of concern because our professionals are moving because it takes a whole lot to train these professionals. In the medical sector, Nigeria subsidises a lot to get people trained.

“You cannot get trained as a medical doctor or an engineer abroad for a cheaper cost compared to what we get in Nigeria. So, it is a total brain drain in the long run and for the economy, it is reducing our GDP.

“The appalling part is that most of our Nigerian brothers and sisters who go out do not return. They get permanent residency, and they become valuable to the immediate country,” he said.

Visa Sees Travel to the US Picking Up With the Dollar Weakening - BLOOMBERG

JANUARY 28, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- Visa Inc. is seeing a pickup in travel to the US with the dollar weakening against other major currencies in recent weeks.

In contrast with countries across Europe and Latin America, travel into the US remains below pre-pandemic levels, Visa Chief Financial Officer Vasant Prabhu said in an interview Friday with Bloomberg Television. But such travel has ticked up as the value of the dollar has declined, he said.

“We are anticipating the cross-border business continuing to recover this year,” Prabhu said. “We think there’s a ton of pent-up demand.” 

For Visa and rival Mastercard Inc., overseas spending is a key metric, with such transactions typically more lucrative to the firms than purely domestic spending. 

At Visa, cross-border volumes climbed 11% in its fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 31. That was the lowest level in at least five quarters and fell short of the 15% growth analysts in a Bloomberg survey expected. 

Still, executives have pointed to the fact that large swaths of Asia, including China, have largely remained shut until recently. As those lockdowns end, the company is expecting a boost in demand. 

“There’s so much pent-up demand from many years of people postponing travel,” Prabhu said. “There’s more demand than there is airline capacity on some of these routes.” 

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of major global currencies, has declined 1.9% since the start of the year.

--With assistance from Guy Johnson and Alix Steel.

Airline passengers endured a 13-hour flight to nowhere after their plane to New Zealand was forced to turn back mid-flight - BUSINESS INSIDER

JANUARY 28, 2023

  • An Emirates flight from Dubai to Auckland had to turn back halfway through its 8,824-mile journey.

  • Passengers spent around 13 hours in the air, only to end up right where they'd started.

  • The aircraft couldn't land at Auckland International Airport due to major flooding and heavy rain.

Passengers spent more than 13 hours flying onboard an Emirates flight only to land right back where they'd started.

Flight EK448 departed from Dubai International Airport at around 10:30 a.m. on Friday but was forced to turn back almost halfway through its 8,824-mile journey because of major flooding at its destination in Auckland, New Zealand. It landed again in Dubai shortly after midnight, data from Cirium and FlightAware showed.

Auckland International Airport shut its domestic and international terminals on Friday after heavy rain caused widespread chaos and triggered a local state of emergency. According to the airport's website, no international flights would be permitted to arrive until at least 7 a.m. local time on Sunday. Domestic arrivals and departures would be permitted from 12 p.m. local time on Saturday, it said.

Emirates flight EK448 is scheduled to attempt its journey to Auckland again on Sunday.

A spokesperson for Emirates told Insider: "We regret the inconvenience caused to customers. Emirates will continue to monitor the situation in Auckland and issue updates where required."

Passengers on board an American Airlines flight had a similar experience after their 10-hour journey from Dallas Fort Worth airport to Auckland had to head back to the US partway through its journey on Friday, Paddle Your Own Kanoo reported.

Air New Zealand diverted its long-haul international flights to Christchurch, per Paddle Your Own Kanoo.

A spokesperson for American Airlines said: "We plan to resume our operation on Saturday, January 28. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and make any additional changes to our operation as necessary. American issued a travel alert for customers traveling to and from Auckland, allowing customers to rebook without change fees."

The weather also seriously impeded local travel in Auckland. More than 2,000 people stayed overnight within the terminals due to the flooding, Auckland Airport said.

In a statement, Auckland airport chief executive Carrie Hurihanganui said: "This has been a significant event that has put our city into a state of emergency, and certainly the airport has never been tested in this way before. But the delay to reopening is necessary to ensure travelers' safety."

Auckland Airport did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.


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