Travel News

Portugal Wants to Force Owners of Vacant Homes to Find Tenants - BLOOMBERG

FEBRUARY 20, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- Portugal’s government wants to force owners of vacant homes across the country to make them available to long-term renters. The move, a bid to increase housing supply in a strained real estate market that’s unaffordable to many locals, has been attacked by property owners as a violation of the constitution. 

The decision is part of a package of measures approved last week at a cabinet meeting. The “More Housing” plan also includes limits on rent increases, initiatives to speed up new building permits, a ban on new short-term rentals in cities and an end to the so-called golden visa program. 

Homeowners and investors say that obliging people to rent out their houses goes against the constitutional right to private property. The government has yet to provide details on how exactly it plans to execute this new policy.

Read More: Runaway Property Costs Push Portugal to End Golden Era of Visas

“It’s clearly unconstitutional,” Luis Menezes Leitao, president of the Lisbon Property Owners’ Association, said in an interview on Monday. Menezes Leitao, who is also a law professor, said that the government should leave private homeowners alone and instead focus on building more affordable homes.

Separately, the Portuguese Association of Real Estate Developers and Investors issued a statement describing the forced rentals as “an attack” on private property.

Housing Minister Marina Goncalves has defended the policy as a way to ease the housing crunch that has helped drive property and rental prices to record highs, especially in Lisbon. Holiday homes, she said, will not be targeted. Her government estimates that about 730,000 homes in Portugal are empty. 

“An empty house … must be used for the purpose it was created for,” Goncalves said in an interview with Portuguese television station SIC. Although the policy still needs to be fine-tuned, she acknowledged, the measure is legal. 

The right to property “is never called into question,” she said. “The state does not enter and occupy people’s homes and then say, ‘Now I’m here.’ We have steps that will be taken.”

The government housing proposals will be up for public discussion until March 16, when the cabinet will vote on their final approval. Some of these measures also need to be passed by parliament, where the ruling Socialist government holds a majority.

In 2021, an estimated 78% of people in Portugal lived in a home they owned, while the rest lived in rental units, according to the latest Eurostat data available. The average wage in Portugal is among the lowest in Western Europe. 

Nigeria Air: Ethiopian Airlines Asks Nigeria To Resolve Legal Obstacles - DAILY TRUST

FEBRUARY 21, 2023

President Muhammadu Buhari met with Girma Wake, Ethiopian Airlines board chairman, during which they exchanged views on the operationalisation of Nigeria Air. The Senior Special…

    By Muideen Olaniyi 

President Muhammadu Buhari met with Girma Wake, Ethiopian Airlines board chairman, during which they exchanged views on the operationalisation of Nigeria Air.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement issued on Monday, said Wake had at the meeting on Sunday in Addis Ababa requested a resolution of the legal obstacle halting Nigeria Air, which Ethiopian Airlines has 49% stake, from commencing operations.

He had also requested the repatriation of the airline funds trapped in the country over foreign exchange challenges.

On Nigeria Air, President Buhari told the board chairman that it was a ‘weighty decision’ by the Nigerian government to re-launch a national carrier, expressing confidence that ‘‘things will be alright.’’

Wake, who met with President Buhari on the margins of the 36th AU Summit, said the airline had been treated very well in Nigeria since it started operations 60 years ago in the country.

‘‘Nigeria is not just a market but a hub for aviation in Africa. Nigeria is a special country and nobody travels more around the globe than Nigerians,’’ he said.

The aviation chief, who was accompanied on the visit by Mesfin Tasswe, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, and Daniel Abebe, Group Vice President Strategic Planning and Alliances, hinted that the airline had plans to expand operations in the country, with additional daily flight services to Lagos from Addis Ababa, as well as Abuja-Addis Ababa.

He said the airline and its partners are ready to commence operations on Nigeria Air as soon as all the court matters are resolved.

Kenya's tourism earnings surge in 2022 as travel curbs ease - REUTERS

FEBRUARY 22, 2023

NAIROBI, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Kenya's tourism industry, one of the East African nation's top sources of hard currency, surged 83% in 2022 to 268 billion shillings ($2.13 billion) as COVID curbs eased, the government said on Wednesday.

Visitors rebounded to 72% of their pre-pandemic level in 2019, Tourism Minister Peninah Malonza told reporters, outpacing the rest of the continent which stands at 65% of the pre-pandemic level.

Kenya offers beach holidays along its Indian Ocean coastline and wildlife safaris inland. The Unites States was the main source of visitors during the year, Malonza said, followed by Uganda, Britain and Tanzania.

China, which had been a growing source market before the pandemic struck, started to ease travel restrictions this year.

Kenyan authorities will focus their marketing efforts on emerging markets like Rwanda, Nigeria and Ethiopia, Malonza said.

Tourism earnings are projected to rise to 425 billion shillings ($3.37 billion) this year, said David Gitonga, chief executive of the state Tourism Research Institute, before increasing to 540 billion shillings in 2027.

But the sector is also facing serious challenges, said Kareke Mbiuki, chairman of parliament's tourism and wildlife committee, citing cuts for infrastructure required by the sector, part of a broader austerity drive by the government.

The country is also facing a severe drought, Malonza said.

Hilton (HLT.N) closed its 50-year-old hotel in downtown Nairobi at the start of this year, in a further sign of the problems facing the sector that contributes a tenth of Kenya's annual economic output.

Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Nick Macfie

Kenya Sees a Record $3.4 Billion in Tourism Earnings This Year - BLOOMBERG

FEBRUARY 22, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- Kenya forecasts its earnings from tourism, one of the nation’s main sources of foreign currency, will surge to a record this year as the government moves to diversify its attractions.

Earnings are expected to increase by almost 60% to 425.4 billion shillings ($3.37 billion) in the 12 months through December as the number of visitors to the East African country rises by the same measure to 2.35 million arrivals, according to the government’s Tourism Research Institute. 

Kenya, known for iconic safaris featuring animals from wildebeests to elephants and lions as well as sand beaches off the Indian ocean coastline, is looking to promote other attractions such as its cuisine and sport, according to Tourism Secretary Peninah Malonza. Her department will also “focus more on domestic and regional tourism promotion,” she said at a briefing on Wednesday in the capital, Nairobi. 

The government wants to ultimately increase the number of arrivals to about 3 million and earnings to 542 billion shillings.

Kenya’s tourist arrivals increased by 72% to 1.48 million visitors last year as the sector begun to rebound from the impact of the pandemic, compared with a global recovery rate of 63%. The industry accounts for 10.4% of Kenya’s gross domestic product and 5.5% of its formal employment, according to the Tourism Research Institute.

Nigeria, Canada Strengthen Ties to Fight Human Trafficking - ARISE NEWS

FEBRUARY 22, 2023

The Nigerian government and its Canadian counterpart on Tuesday vowed to scale up efforts at stemming the tide of trafficking in persons and migrants smuggling.

The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persona (NAPTIP) said both  countries through the technical partner; Ark Group, will promote projects to consolidate on the agency’s past achievements, with intended projects being the re-designing and re-development of the NAPTIP iReporter mobile App; community-based sensitization campaigns; Capacity building for NAPTIP officials and deployment of a NAPTIP Learning Hub

The Director General, NAPTIP, Fatima Waziri-Azi, said the project will support the ongoing NAPTIP On the Move weekly television Programme and a radio programme to enhance awareness creation on issues of human trafficking, migrant smuggling and irregular migration especially amongst young people in rural areas and urban poor communities

Waziri-Azi said In 2022, NAPTIP received 1,440 reported cases of trafficking in persons of which 412 were external trafficking cases (28.6%) and 1,028 internal trafficking cases (71.4%).

She noted that 2,743 victims were rescued in collaboration with other sister law enforcement agencies; male children were 233 (8.5%); female children – 688 (25.1%); male adults – 363 (13.2%); and female adults – 1,459 (53.2%)

The DG said: “Victims of inward trafficking were 45, that is victims trafficked into Nigeria; Returned victims from abroad were 251 and Intercepted victims were 1,484, that is, those who were on their way out of Nigeria.

“Most of these victims are trafficked by road through our borders all across the country. We also secured 80 convictions in 2022; 45 males and 35 females.”

Waziri-Azi said there are 17 convictions for 2023 and, cumulatively, the agency has secured 592 convictions since its first conviction in 2004, adding that 262 cases are in various courts across the country.

To keep up with the evolving trend of human trafficking, she said the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Enforcement and Administration Act of 2015 is currently undergoing amendment at the National Assembly to incorporate current trends in human trafficking (orphanage trafficking, use of children in brothels) and provide for stiffer penalties.

The representative of the High Commission of  Canada in Nigeria, James Christoff, stated commitment to partnering with NAPTIP to prevent human trafficking and migration by providing funding, training, capacity building, and strategic communication.

Christoff said: “We can only win this fight through collaboration.”

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

Passengers lament experiences at Lagos airport - BUSINESSDAY

FEBRUARY 25, 2023

BY  Ifeoma Okeke-Korieocha

A number of passengers have expressed their frustration over what they experienced at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos.

Crowded walkways, insufficient security gates that slow passenger movements, unfriendly immigration officers, long queues around strategic areas of the airports, and toilets with offensive odour have been identified as some of the factors that discourage travel and passenger facilitation.

These rising concerns are coming to the fore again at a time when some Nigerians outside the country are travelling back to participate in the general elections, scheduled to start on Saturday.

A passenger with the Twitter handle @markessien narrated his experience at the MMIA.

The tweep described the airport as probably one of the worst run and worst designed.

According to the tweet, passengers have to drop off on a road that is one road away from the airport and there is no walkway to get to the airport, instead passengers have to walk back down the same road, trying to avoid other cars that are trying to drop off other people.

The tweep said: “There are two security gates for every single passenger. Where they scan bags for no reason I can deduce, because they don’t scan your body. You wait about one hour. The entire queue is at the first entrance, because it’s not obvious there is a second entrance behind.

“There are some men who linger around and tell you they will take you to a faster way in exchange for a tip. If you agree, they just take you to the second entrance. Once in, there is no way to know the queue for your plane. All queues merge into each other.

“Arriving is chaos. You get to a health check, and they give you an A4 form to fill. There is no space to fill it! You stand at the head of the queue, filling it while others wait for you. Meanwhile, another form was given in the plane to foreigners only.”

He described the car park as “horrible”. “It can take up to an hour to get out due to the terrible design and lots of people are shouting. It takes almost 20 minutes to pay, and by the time you are out, the ticket has expired,” he said.

Other tweeps also responded to the tweet, lamenting the unpleasant situation at the Lagos airport.

Hanson Nnadi, with the Twitter handle @HansonNnadi, said: “You forgot to mention the air conditioners don’t work in the entire departure section.”

Chidubem, another passenger with the Twitter handle @Dum_Dum, said: “Once you arrive there, you become depressed, and then you will start thinking about airports you passed through to get there.”

“All those guys lingering around obviously have the incentive to make sure there are no signs whatsoever. There is NO space anywhere. Security is also bribed to allow people who are not officials in. Maintenance is zero,” MisterDavid, with the handle @itsmisterdavid said.

John Ojikutu, a member of Aviation Round Table and chief executive of Centurion Securities, told BusinessDay: “There are no clear plans for crowd control at the access and exit gates of the passenger terminals. FAAN hasn’t come out to say any plan on spacing between passengers’ flights departures and arrivals.”

In Nigeria, passengers spend an unduly long time at security screening points because of insufficient number of X-ray machines, forcing them to queue at security screening points, especially at peak hours.

In many other countries, it takes between 30 seconds to two minutes to get screened but in Nigerian airports, it takes between five and 15 minutes to get screened, depending on the number of passengers waiting to be checked.

Ojikutu listed some of the infrastructural gaps that cause flight delays at Lagos airport to include inadequate checking-in-counters, inadequate passengers screening checkpoints and screening machines or unserviceable screening machines resulting in manual screening, inadequate aircraft boarding gates, inadequate aircraft parking areas, inadequate ground handling equipment or facilities, and absence of taxiways or sufficient links from aprons to runways.

The old dilapidated aero bridges at the Lagos airport also compound the troubles of airlines and passengers.

With the absence of the automated bridges, airlines operating in Nigeria spend millions of naira annually just to tow their aircraft into the aerobridge, a point to disembark passengers after landing.

BusinessDay’s findings show that in many countries, airlines taxi their aircraft into the aerobridge, but in Nigeria, airlines pay to taxi their aircraft to the bridges because the aerobridges are old and not automated to align with newer aircraft.

This process has continued to cause unnecessary delays to passengers who are forced to remain in the aircraft for 10 to 20 minutes for the aircraft to be towed after landing.

Naira Scarcity: Nigerian Raises Alarm As German Embassy Denies Visa Appointment - DAILY TRUST

FEBRUARY 25, 2023

A Nigerian who applied for a short stay visitor’s visa in Germany has been denied appointment at the German Consulate in Lagos due to naira…

A Nigerian who applied for a short stay visitor’s visa in Germany has been denied appointment at the German Consulate in Lagos due to naira notes scarcity.

In a chat with Daily Trust, the Nigerian, who doesn’t want name published, said the embassy wanted cash for the visa fee.

The victim said the visa fees was 80 Euro (over N38,000), adding that they insisted that the money must be collected in cash and in the new currency.

Narrating her ordeal, the vcitim said: “I tried to apply for a German Visa, and then I got an appointment online, but going through the application requirements, I saw that the German Embassy wants cash for the visa fee. The visa fee is 80 Euro, and then they put on their website that the money must be received in Nigerian cash and in the new currency, not just even the old one.

“So, I tried calling the German Embassy to ask if they can accept non-cash payments because of the scarcity that we have right now, and I couldn’t get through to any of them. So, I found an email, then I sent a message through the contact information on the website. I got a reply later that evening, insisting that the money must be collected in Nigerian cash, that there was no POS and they wouldn’t accept bank transfers or anything and it had to be in cash.

“I was worried because my appointment is on March 1 and between now and then I don’t see how I can get any cash. I have contacted my account manager at GTBank, and everybody that I know included in my network, just to see how I can get 80 euros in cash and that hasn’t happened.

“The alternative for me is to cancel my appointment and try to rebook it. But anybody who knows the German Embassy knows that I wouldn’t get another appointment till after a month. I’m wondering why Nigerians are being treated in that way. I find that really disturbing.”

The German embassy had not responded to an email seeking its response as of the time of filing this report.

FG orders implementation of new US visa validity policy - PUNCH

FEBRUARY 25, 2023

By Solomon Odeniyi

…orders closure of international borders

The Federal Government has directed the full implementation of a new visa reciprocity policy for citizens of the United States of America with effect from March 1, 2023.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said the directive was issued following approval for the implementation of the new Bilateral Consular Policy Agreements between the two governments.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), launched the new Nigeria Visa Policy in 2020.

He added that the policy amongst other things seeks to promote tourism and boost cultural exchange and business between both nations.

According to a statement by his media adviser, Sola Fasure, on Friday, the minister said the agreements amongst others include the reciprocity of five-year tourist visa validity for American Citizens pursuant to Section 30 of the Immigration Act, 2015; Extension of visa validity to three years for diplomats and government officials between the citizens of Nigeria and the United States of America.

He added that the Minister of Interior had directed the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, to start the implementation of the policy from March 1, 2023.

“As part of the Bilateral Agreement, the United States of America will implement a similar policy for Nigerians wishing to travel on tourist visas to the United States and for our diplomats and officials visiting the country. The United State will thus extend tourist visa validity for Nigerian citizens to five years,” the statement added.

On the elections, he announced that movement across national borders had been restricted.

The statement continued, “Internal movements have been restricted to the polling units. There will also be no movement of persons across national borders.

“Law enforcement agencies are required to use all means necessary in providing security for lives and property at the polling units, in the streets, and at the borders. Every threat must be contained and assurances must be given for lives and property and the success of the elections.”

The minister also enjoined all registered voters in Nigeria to come out on Saturday, February 25, 2023 to exercise their franchise, promising a safe and secure environment before, during, and after the elections.

He admonished Nigerians to be vigilant and report any suspicious persons or activities to the nearest security agency or on the N-Alert application online.

Air Peace suspends flight operations for polls - PUNCH

FEBRUARY 25, 2023

By Lilian Ukagwu

Air Peace on Thursday announced that flight operations will be suspended on February 25 as a result of the general elections.

However flight operations will resume February 26, the local airline assured.

The airline disclosed this in a statement via its official Instagram handle.

The statement reads, “Members of the public are hereby informed that there will be no scheduled flights on February 25, 2023, due to the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly Elections.

“Scheduled flight operations resume on Sunday, February 26, 2023.”

16 Years After, Ogun Cargo Airport Records First Aircraft Landings - DAILY TRUST

FEBRUARY 25, 2023

Sixteen years after, the Ogun International Cargo Airport recorded the first aircraft landings even as the state government received the Certificate of Operation from the…

    By Abdullateef Aliyu

Sixteen years after, the Ogun International Cargo Airport recorded the first aircraft landings even as the state government received the Certificate of Operation from the Federal Government. 

Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika presented the certificate to Governor Dapo Abiodun at the ceremony attended by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo at Iperu Remo in Ikenne Local Government Area of the state.

The airport project was conceptualised 16 years during the administration of the then Governor of the State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel which could not actualise it until the new governor came and took over the project. 

There was controversy over the airport project as the former Governor, Ibikunle Amosun was putting pressure on the Federal Government to approve the airport project he initiated and located at Wasimi, Ewekoro local government in Ogun West. 

But after 16 years of the conceptualization, the airport project is becoming a reality following the completion of the 4km runway and the test flight which was a requirement for the full certification of the airport.

Two aircraft- a commercial plane CRJ900 with tail number 5N-BXS and another smaller jet, 5N-PDA.

The state governor said despite the many opposition and distraction to the project, it has finally become a reality, recalling that the construction started in September 2021.

He said the test-flight was a prerequisite to the final certification of the airport, disclosing that the project would be commissioned in a couple of weeks.

According to him, the airport is strategic in supporting the promotion of exports of goods which Nigeria is pursuing. He said it would serve as an alternative to the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos.

“This project is part of an integrated development programme aimed at unleashing the full potentials of this great state.

“The choice of this location allows for easy access from different parts of the state including Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria. The Eastern and Northern regions of Nigeria can also easily access this location,” he said.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said the airport would transform the entire South-West as a key economic zone and agricultural processing zone for the country even as the Kajola Dry Port would also be operational in a few months.


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