Japanese Visitors to Macau Face Restrictions
China has recently imposed restrictions on Japanese tourists. The Chinese Embassy in Tokyo announced the move on January 10th, shortly after threatening to retaliate against countries that further restricted Chinese entry. The Chinese Embassy in Seoul made the same announcement at the same time, subjecting visitors from South Korea to the same outcome.
The Chinese Embassy in Tokyo announced the change on its website, stating that standard visas for Japanese citizens have been suspended.
It went on to state that no date has been set for when visa issuance will resume, and that more information would be provided later. The embassy was adamant that the visa suspension would continue until the entry restrictions imposed on China were lifted.
Japan’s Role in the Situation
Japan instigated the punitive move on January 9th, when it announced that people flying in from Macau would be required to provide a certificate of a negative COVID-19 test. The Japanese government tightened border controls in preparation for an increase in visitors from mainland China to Japan via Macau during the Lunar New Year holiday, which began on January 22nd.
The administration saw adding Macau to the list of visitors requiring negative tests as a necessary precaution, given that China is facing a possible countrywide spike in COVID-19 cases after relaxing internal restrictions. Previously, Japan allowed direct flights from Macau, and visitors from the People’s Republic of China’s Special Administrative Region did not have to undergo a PCR-RT test like the rest of China.
Visitors from China are now required under the new rule to submit a certificate of a negative test taken no more than 72 hours before leaving Macau. Entry restrictions for Macau residents into Japan did not sit well with the Chinese government, prompting the recent retaliation.
The Chinese government’s response stems from recent efforts to revitalize the Chinese economy and mitigate the social consequences of lockdowns. China lifted several major aspects of its strict zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy and opened its borders toward the end of 2022. The COVID-19 policy had aided China’s goal of combating COVID-19 by keeping the number of cases low.
The lockdown measures had shrunk the country’s economy by interfering with its global supply chains. This effect, combined with a significant decrease in COVID-19 cases, prompted China to relax policy and open the country up to international trade.
China is offended that some countries are imposing discriminatory entry restrictions on Chinese visitors, despite the fact that COVID-19 cases have decreased significantly and China has reopened its borders to visitors from other countries. Beijing is especially enraged that Japan has tightened restrictions on the strategically located Macau.
The People’s Republic of China’s Special Administrative Region is one of the most vibrant gaming destinations, and it can significantly help China stimulate its economy.
As there are no casinos in Japan, those who want to gamble must either travel to neighboring countries with casinos or play at online casinos. Macau offers a one-of-a-kind combination of breathtaking scenery, luxurious casinos, and easy access from Japan.
Tightening travel restrictions for Macau visitors is akin to putting the city’s revitalization on hold. The movement of Japanese gamblers and revelers to and from Macau is essential to the city’s survival.
However, with China’s decision to reciprocate the travel restrictions, Macau faces an even greater threat. Prior to the blockade, Japanese visitors could freely visit Macau. However, as a result of the restrictions, Japanese visitors are no longer permitted to visit Macau, depriving the administrative region of the potential benefits of Japanese tourists. Japanese visitors to Macau will miss out on the fun, but Macau will also suffer economically.
China is going through a difficult period because several other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, have tightened their border controls for people traveling from China. Despite the enormous success in bringing the numbers down, China claims that these actions only serve to further the stigma that it has been subject to ever since the pandemic began.
However, it still stands to benefit from its decision to weaken the COVID-19 policy because it has opened the door to numerous other opportunities. Some countries, including Singapore and Vietnam, have lifted COVID-19-related restrictions to allow Chinese visitors easier access and increase flight capacity.
In response to Japan’s increased border control measures imposed to mitigate the anticipated influx of visitors from mainland China, the Chinese government quickly took action to limit Japanese tourists. This has far-reaching consequences for China-Japan relations and the global economy, especially for Japanese gamblers who favor Macau’s casinos but must now look for alternative options. With China’s successful containment of COVID-19, it is possible that the stalemate between these two countries will soon come to an end.
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Emirates Forward Bookings Remain Robust on Strong Customer Demand
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Chief Commercial Officer of Emirates, Mr Adnan Kazim, has said the airline’s forward bookings have remained robust amid a strong customer demand, spurring the company to ramp up its operations across continents.
According to him, in the past months, the airline has planned and executed the rapid growth of its network operations, reintroducing services to five cities, launching flights to one new destination (Tel Aviv), and adding 251 weekly flights onto existing routes and continuing the roll-out of service enhancements in the air and on the ground.
It was disclosed that Emirates has continued to scale up its A380 operations with the reintroduction of the iconic double-decker across its network: Glasgow (from 26 March), Casablanca from (15 April), Beijing (from 01 May), Shanghai (from 04 June), Nice (from 1 June), Birmingham (from 1 July), Kuala Lumpur (from 01 August), and Taipei (from 01 August).
“Emirates is working hard on several fronts – to bring back operating capacity as quickly as the ecosystem can manage while also upgrading our fleet and product to ensure our customers always enjoy the best possible Emirates experience.
“So far, four of our A380 aircraft have been completely refurbished with our new cabin interiors and Premium Economy seats, and more will enter service as our $2 billion cabin and service enhancement program picks up pace,” Mr Kazim added.
He noted that in the coming months, established routes to Europe, Australia and Africa would be served with more Emirates flights, while in East Asia, more cities are seeing route restarts.
Emirates had upcoming route enhancements by regions, including in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, East Asia, as well as in Africa which covers Cairo: from 25 to 28 weekly flights by 29 October; Dar es Salaam: from 5 flights a week to daily flights starting 01 May and Entebbe: from 6 flights a week to daily flights starting 01 July.
Mozambique Okays Visa Exemption for 28 Countries, Snubs Nigeria
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
A number of African countries are focusing on promoting extensively inbound tourism. They are luring potential external investors to the tourism industry.
The latest in the southern African region is Mozambique, which has approved a visa exemption for 28 countries for tourism and business.
As the Council of Ministers approved the decree in mid-March, the exemption applies to visitors holding ordinary passports and allows for a 30-day stay, renewable to an additional 60 days.
The model adopted by the Mozambican government is similar to the United States visa waiver program in the sense that it requires travellers to register on a platform for pre-screening at least 48 hours before travelling and to pay a processing fee of MZN-650 (equivalent £8.50).
In the list released, Nigeria, which prides itself as the giant of Africa and the largest economy on the continent, was missing.
The approved countries for this programme are Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The visa exemption is a follow-up to the launch of a platform last December that allowed prospective visitors to apply for an electronic pre-authorization to travel into the country. The introduction of e-visas has seen an increase of over 30 per cent in the number of travellers entering the country compared to the same period in the previous year.
The e-visa platform commits the country to respond to applications within five days, but general feedback places an average response at 24 hours, and the few issues reported are usually created by users not uploading the required documentation.
President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, since August 2022, has taken steps containing 20 reform measures aimed at delivering to visitors and potential investors a path for a more competitive and more accessible country. Mozambique, with an approximate population of 30 million, is one of the 16-member Southern African Development Community.
Foreign Airlines Unable to Repatriate $743.7m from Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that foreign airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria have risen to over $743.7 million.
In a letter dated March 14, 2023, and signed by the Area Manager for West and Central Africa, Dr Samson Fatokun, it was disclosed that the blocked funds rose from $549 million in December 2022 and $662 million in January to $743.7 million.
IATA noted that for over a year, Nigeria had been the country with the highest amount of airlines’ blocked funds in the world.
According to the association, the increasing backlog of international airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria is a potential threat to foreign direct investment into the country and could affect the operations of airlines leading to job losses.
While appealing to the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, to intervene in resolving the issues, the association also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to clear all airlines blocked funds before leaving office.
Meanwhile, at a meeting with the IATA and foreign airlines operators in Abuja to discuss the issues, Mr Sirika said the issue of blocked funds sits with the Central Bank of Nigeria and is not what the ministry can handle alone.
He urged international airline operators to be very considerate when dealing with the issues bearing in mind the effects of COVID-19 and the recession the country had experienced.
Recall that in August 2022, IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East, Mr Kamil Alawahdi, expressed his disappointment with Nigeria over the amount of airline money blocked from repatriation by the Nigerian government, which was around $464 million then.
“IATA is disappointed that the amount of airline money blocked from repatriation by the Nigerian government grew to $464 million in July.
“This is airline money, and its repatriation is protected by international agreements in which Nigeria participates. IATA’s many warnings that failure to restore timely repatriation will hurt Nigeria with reduced air connectivity are proving true with the withdrawal of Emirates from the market,” he said.
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