Pandemic to cost global tourism $2.0 trillion in 2021: UN

A flight crew walk through the terminal at Sydney Airport, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (AP)
A flight crew walk through the terminal at Sydney Airport, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 09 December 2021

Pandemic to cost global tourism $2.0 trillion in 2021: UN

A flight crew walk through the terminal at Sydney Airport, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (AP)
  • A total of 46 destinations — 21 percent of all destinations worldwide — currently have their borders completely closed to tourists, according to the UNWTO

MADRID: The coronavirus pandemic will cost the global tourism sector $2.0 trillion in lost revenue in 2021, the UN’s tourism body said Monday, calling the sector’s recovery “fragile” and “slow.”
The forecast from the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization comes as Europe is grappling with a surge in infections and as a new heavily mutated Covid-19 variant, dubbed Omicron, spreads across the globe.
International tourist arrivals will this year remain 70-75 percent below the 1.5 billion arrivals recorded in 2019 before the pandemic hit, a similar decline as in 2020, according to the body.
The global tourism sector already lost $2.0 trillion (1.78 trillion euros) in revenues last year due to the pandemic, according to the UNWTO, making it one of sectors hit hardest by the health crisis.
While the UN body charged with promoting tourism does not have an estimate for how the sector will perform next year, its medium-term outlook is not encouraging.
“Despite the recent improvements, uneven vaccination rates around the world and new Covid-19 strains” such as the Delta variant and Omicron “could impact the already slow and fragile recovery,” it said in a statement.
The introduction of fresh virus restrictions and lockdowns in several nations in recent weeks shows how “it’s a very unpredictable situation,” UNWTO head Zurab Pololikashvili told AFP.
“It’s a historical crisis in the tourism industry but again tourism has the power to recover quite fast,” he added ahead of the start of the WTO’s annual general assembly in Madrid on Tuesday.
“I really hope that 2022 will be much better than 2021.”

While international tourism has taken a hit from the outbreak of disease in the past, the coronavirus is unprecedented in its geographical spread.
In addition to virus-related travel restrictions, the sector is also grappling with the economic strain caused by the pandemic, the spike in oils prices and the disruption of supply chains, the UNWTO said.
Pololikashvili urged nations to harmonize their virus protocols and restrictions because tourists “are confused and they don’t know how to travel.”
International tourist arrivals “rebounded” during the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere thanks to increased travel confidence, rapid vaccination and the easing of entry restrictions in many nations, the UNWTO said.
“Despite the improvement in the third quarter, the pace of recovery remains uneven across world regions due to varying degrees of mobility restrictions, vaccination rates and traveler confidence,” it added.
Arrivals in some islands in the Caribbean and South Asia, and well as some destinations in southern Europe, came close to, or sometimes exceeded pre-pandemic levels in the third quarter.
Other countries however hardly saw any tourists at all, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, where arrivals were down 95 percent compared to 2019 as many destinations remained closed to non-essential travel.

A total of 46 destinations — 21 percent of all destinations worldwide — currently have their borders completely closed to tourists, according to the UNWTO.
A further 55 have their borders partially closed to foreign visitors, while just four nations have lifted all virus-related restrictions — Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Mexico.
The future of the travel sector will be in focus at the WTO annual general assembly, which will run until Friday.
The event — which brings together representatives from 159 members states of the UN body — was original scheduled to be held in Marrakesh.
But Morocco in late October decided not to host the event due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in many countries.
Before the pandemic, the tourism sector accounted for about 10 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and jobs.


Saudi SABIC, ExxonMobil begin operations of petrochemical JV on US Gulf Coast

Saudi SABIC, ExxonMobil begin operations of petrochemical JV on US Gulf Coast
Updated 20 January 2022

Saudi SABIC, ExxonMobil begin operations of petrochemical JV on US Gulf Coast

Saudi SABIC, ExxonMobil begin operations of petrochemical JV on US Gulf Coast

RIYADH: Riyadh-based Saudi Basic Industries, also known as SABIC, one of the leading petrochemical firms worldwide, announced the start of operations of its petrochemical joint venture with US ExxonMobil.

US Texas is to witness the launch of an ethylene production unit – operating an annual capacity of around 1.8 million tons, the homegrown petrochemical company said in a statement.

The new production unit, which started construction in 2019, will produce materials to be utilized in packaging, agricultural film, construction materials, clothing, and automotive coolants.

This project is in line with SABIC’s strategy, aimed at diversifying its feedstock as well as strengthening its position in North America.

“This is a remarkable achievement that positions us well to help meet growing global demand for performance products while providing meaningful investment in the US Gulf Coast,’ president of ExxonMobil Karen McKee said, commenting on the partnership.

SABIC noted that the deal’s financial impact is expected to roll out on the company’s financial statements during the ongoing quarter.

In the latest trading session, shares of the company edged down by 0.2 percent to close at SR126 ($33.6).


Mastercard, Coinbase partner to make NFTs more accessible

Mastercard, Coinbase partner to make NFTs more accessible
Updated 20 January 2022

Mastercard, Coinbase partner to make NFTs more accessible

Mastercard, Coinbase partner to make NFTs more accessible

RIYADH: Payments giant Mastercard has partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase to make non-fungible tokens more accessible.

Mastercards can be used to make purchases on Coinbase’s upcoming NFT marketplace.

“We’re excited to announce today that we’re partnering with Coinbase to let people use their Mastercard cards to make purchases on Coinbase’s upcoming NFT marketplace,” Mastercard said in a statement.

“Getting more people involved safely and securely is perhaps the best way to help the NFT market thrive.”

Mastercard also sees greater potential for core NFT technology to go beyond art and collectibles in many other areas.

Coinbase announced in October last year that it is launching an NFT marketplace.

“Coinbase NFT, as a peer-to-peer marketplace that will make minting, purchasing, showcasing and discovering NFTs easier than ever,” Coinbase said.

“We’re making NFTs more accessible by building user-friendly interfaces that put the complexity behind the scenes. We’re adding social features that open new avenues for conversation and discovery. And we’re going to grow the creator community exponentially, a win for artists and for fans.” 


Saudi Wafrah appoints Khaled Saleh Al Amoudi as CEO

Saudi Wafrah appoints Khaled Saleh Al Amoudi as CEO
Updated 20 January 2022

Saudi Wafrah appoints Khaled Saleh Al Amoudi as CEO

Saudi Wafrah appoints Khaled Saleh Al Amoudi as CEO

RIYADH: Saudi food firm Wafrah for Industry and Developments has appointed Khaled Saleh Al Amoudi as CEO on Thursday, according to a bourse statement. 

The decision follows recommendation from the Remuneration and Nomination Committee.

With a M.Sc.in Financial Management, Al Amoudi currently holds the chief financial officer position at the firm, with more than 20 years of accumulated experience as CFO and in the governmental and bank sectors.


Tadawul approves $755m government debt listing

Tadawul approves $755m government debt listing
Updated 20 January 2022

Tadawul approves $755m government debt listing

Tadawul approves $755m government debt listing

RIYADH: Saudi stock exchange Tadawul approved listing of SR2.83 billion ($755 million) worth of government debt instruments, submitted by the Ministry of Finance, according to a bourse filing.

The first issuance dated January 8, amounts to SR1.25 billion, Tadawul said in a statement.

The second issuance dated January 12, is valued at SR1.59 billion.


Profits of Saudi-based SADAFCO drop 28.6% as pandemic hits sales

Profits of Saudi-based SADAFCO drop 28.6% as pandemic hits sales
Updated 20 January 2022

Profits of Saudi-based SADAFCO drop 28.6% as pandemic hits sales

Profits of Saudi-based SADAFCO drop 28.6% as pandemic hits sales

RIYADH: Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Co., or SADAFCO, reported a 28.6 percent decline in profit during the nine months ending Dec. 31, 2021. 

Profits dropped to SR146 million ($38.9million), compared to SR205 million in the corresponding period a year earlier, the company announced in a bourse statement.

SADAFCO attributed the lower profit figures to lower sales volumes driven by the pandemic, an increase from 5 percent to 15 percent in VAT, and higher material and logistics costs.

The financial statements of the company indicated a healthy cash flow, with a strong cash position of SR679 million.

SADACFO’s share price edged down by 0.12 percent in today’s session to close at SR167.

Earlier, the company’s board recommended cash dividends at SR3 per share for the first half of the fiscal year ended Mar. 31, 2022.

Jeddah-based SADAFCO operates sales and distribution depots in 24 locations across Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, and Kuwait. Its products are also exported to several countries in the MENA region.