Posts Tagged ‘BRICS News’

BRIC tourists to South Africa still down a quarter from 2013

BRIC tourist numbers to South Africa rose by 6.1% in 2017, but still 23.4% below 2013 levels

South African recently hosted tourism exhibitors from 23 African countries [PREUSS]

The release of the Tourism 2017 report by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) this week showed that although there was a strong rebound in 2016 and 2017, the country was still suffering from the misguided imposition of more stringent visa requirements in October 2014, as the number of overseas tourists from South Africa’s BRICS partners, remained below their 2013 levels.

The release of the report also highlighted Stats SA’s resource constraints as its budget has been cut by R400 million in the previous fiscal year. The Tourism report this year was released more than four months later than the 2015 report, which was released on April 4 2016.

New visa regulations from October 2014 that required an in-person visit for biometric data to South African consulates for visitors from non-visa exempt countries such as China, Russia and India had an impact, but there were other factors at play as only one (The Netherlands) of the Top Ten overseas source countries showed an increase in 2014 compared with 2013.

The visa requirements were relaxed and the capacity to process them was improved in 2015 and 2016 in a belated attempt to mitigate the effects on the tourism industry.

As ten tourists are estimated to create one job, the 84 110 drop in BRIC tourist numbers from 359,429 in 2013 to 275,319 in 2017 has cost some 8,000 jobs at a time when the unemployment rate exceeds 27 per cent.

The Department of Home Affairs administers the visa requirements. Several countries such as Brazil and most European countries are exempt from visas provided they stay less than 90 days. Visas are not issued at South African ports of entry, and airline officials are obliged to insist on visas before allowing passengers to board. If a visitor arrives without a visa, immigration officials are obliged to put the visitor onto a flight back to the country of origin.

South African hotel groups such as Southern Sun said the removal of South Africa from Chinese tour operator brochures due to the biometric requirements probably explained the 62 per cent plunge in Chinese tourists between November 2013 and November 2014. In 2017 there was a 17 per cent decline to 97, 069, which meant that the 2017 number was more than a third lower than the 2013 total of 151,053.

India overtook China as the leading BRIC source country in 2014 even though India is also not a visa exempt country, as tourists from India travel far less in tour groups, but rather as families and friends, but there was still a 23.6 per cent decline to 85 639 in 2014.

In 2016, there was a 21.7 per cent rebound and Tourism South Africa in 2017 launched a major campaign in India to ensure that Indian tourists to South Africa exceed 100,000 in 2017. The actual number of tourists arriving from India in 2017 was 97,921, which was a 2.7% increase on 2016.

Although Russian tourist arrivals surged by 50.9 per cent in 2017, they remain 7.5 per cent below the 2013 level.

The truly outstanding growth came from Brazil with a phenomenal 74.7% increase in 2017, but despite this impressive growth, they are still 18.1% below the 2013 level.

Helmo Preuss in Cape Town, South Africa for The BRICS Post

China protests US Defense Act

Can’t we just get along? File photo of US President Donald Trump with Chinese President Xi Jinping. It is unclear how the tariffs and the NDAA will affect their warm relationship

The Chinese Defense Ministry has protested the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2019 which was signed into law in the US by President Donald Trump earlier this week.

The $717 billion act includes several sections on China, some of which violate the One-China policy, a ministry spokesperson said.

In addition to raising wages for troops – the largest such rise in 10 years, and investing heavily in advanced weapons technologies, such as the F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter jet – the act also boosts the capacity of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, in particular to curb the large number of Chinese investments in the US.

But what has irked China the most are the clauses in the act which call for boosting military cooperation with Taiwan, including military exercises, senior level military exchanges and easing the sale of weapons to Taiwan.

“The China-related contents in that act are filled with a cold-war mentality, advocating confrontations between the two countries and interfering with China’s internal affairs,” said Defence Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian.

The One China Policy says that there is only one China, one Chinese government and that Taiwan is a breakaway province.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry previously said that the One China principle is the precondition and political basis for any country having relations with China.

“We will never allow anyone, at any time or in any form, to separate Taiwan from China,” Wu said, adding that protests have been lodged with the Pentagon.

Trump has previously said he supported the One China Policy, but hinted that it should be linked to other issues in the China-US relationship.

“I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade,” Trump told Fox News in December 2016.

China and the US are currently locked in a trade war following Trump’s slapping of additional tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, as well as dozens of Chinese-made products.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the White House denied any change to its One China Policy. This came after the President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen visited Los Angeles and delivered a speech on Monday outlining that her country’s freedom “was not negotiable”.

Tsai was in transit to state visits to Belize and Paraguay.

The US State Department on Wednesday also said that Tsai’s speech did not indicate a change in US policy and that Washington acknowledges Beijing as the sole government of China. However, it said that Taiwanese officials are allowed to transit the US to other countries.

Beijing filed a formal complaint with the US government ahead of Tsai’s trip late last month, and again following her speech on Tuesday.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

India’s SENSEX breaks records

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivering his keynote speech, at the plenary session of the World Economic Forum, in Davos on January 23, 2018 [PMO, India]

India’s benchmark Bombay Stock Exchange SENSEX has continued to break records this week.

On Wednesday the 30-share exchange broke its record to reach 38,061 before settling just below the 38,000 mark. At press time Thursday it is at 38,012, marking the first time ever it has reached this level.

Stocks, primarily in banking, IT, capital goods, and oil and gas were given a boost by the International Monetary Fund’s report earlier this week which said that India is continuing on its track to maintaining its position as one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

On August 7, the IMF said:

“India’s economy is picking up and growth prospects look bright—partly thanks to the implementation of recent policies, such as the nationwide goods and services tax. As one of the world’s fastest-growing economies—accounting for about 15 percent of global growth—India’s economy has helped to lift millions out of poverty.”

This is music to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ears as he has been pushing to open India to the world, boost foreign investment, ease the process of doing business in India, and marketing the Made in India brand.

However, the IMF urged the government to raise wages, which are among the lowest compared to its BRICS partners, and to push through vital labor market reforms.

Nevertheless, given the increased foreign investment environment the IMF forecasts that GDP growth will be 7.3 per cent for 2018/19 and 7.5 per cent for the following year.

In related news, Swedish furniture chain IKEA opened its first 400,000-square-foot store in Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana, on Thursday, after a five-year process to invest in the country

IKEA says it plans to open 25 other stores throughout the country over the next seven years.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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