Worldís top tourism destinations
In 2016, four countries moved up in the Top 10 ranking by international tourism receipts and three in the ranking by international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors).
Most notably, Thailand climbed further, up to 3rd place from 5th in terms of tourism receipts in its second year of double-digit growth, hitting the US$ 50 billion mark in 2016. It also moved up one place in arrivals to 9th position (33 million), reports the UNWTO.
“When ranking the world’s top international tourism destinations, it is preferable to take more than a single indicator into account.
Ranked according to the two key tourism indicators international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts – it is interesting to note that eight out of the Top 10 destinations appear on both lists, despite showing marked differences in terms of the type of tourists they attract, as well as their average length of stay and their spending per trip and per night. It should be noted that changes in the ranking of international tourism receipts not only reflect the relative performance of the destinations, but also exchange rate fluctuations of the local currencies against the US dollar,” explains the UNWTO in their 2017 tourism report.
According to the report, the United States continues to top the international tourism receipts ranking, with US$ 206 billion earned in 2016. It is the second largest destination in international tourist arrivals with 76 million. Spain follows as the world’s second largest earner with US$ 60 billion, and the third largest destination in terms of arrivals with 76 million, virtually equaling the US. China remains in fourth position in terms of both receipts (US$ 44 billion) and arrivals (59 million). France climbed one place to 5th position in tourism earnings, with US$ 42 billion, and remains the world’s top destination in terms of international arrivals with 83 million. Italy moved up one place to 6th position in receipts (US$ 40 billion) and is still 5th in arrivals (52 million).
The United Kingdom climbed two places to 6th position in arrivals, but moved down four places in receipts to 7th, partly due to the depreciation of the British pound, resulting in lower earnings in terms of US dollars. Germany remains 8th in terms of receipts and 7th in arrivals, while Hong Kong (China) continues to rank 9th in receipts and 13th in arrivals. Australia re-entered the Top 10 in terms of receipts at number 10, while moving from 42nd to 40th position in arrivals. Mexico climbed another place to 8th position in arrivals and moved up two in receipts to 14th. Turkey completes the Top 10 in arrivals, moving down an estimated four places (data still pending for 2016) following the security incidents and failed coup last year. In terms of receipts, Turkey moved down five places to 17th position.
China continues to lead global outbound travel, following ten years of double-digit growth in spending, and after rising to the top of the ranking in 2012. Expenditure by Chinese travellers grew by 12% in 2016 to reach US$ 261 billion. The number of outbound travellers rose by 6% to reach 135 million in 2016. Tourism expenditure from the United States, the world’s second largest source market, increased by 8% in 2016 to reach US$ 124 billion.
Germany, the United Kingdom and France are Europe’s top source markets, and rank third, fourth and fifth respectively in the world. Germany reported an increase of 3% in spending last year to reach US$ 80 billion. Demand from the United Kingdom remained sound last year, despite the significant depreciation of the British pound following the referendum on EU membership (Brexit). UK residents’ overnight visits abroad were up by 5 million (+8%) to reach 69 million, with expenditure close to US$ 64 billion (+14%). France reported a 3% growth in tourism expenditure in 2016 to reach US$ 40 billion.
The five source markets in the bottom half of the Top 10 all moved up one place as the Russian Federation moved down from 6th to 11th place, following a significant decline in spending abroad. Canada moved up to 6th place, despite flat growth in international spending (US$ 29 billion), while outbound overnight trips declined by 3% to 31 million. The Republic of Korea spent 5% more in 2016 (US$ 27 billion) and moved up further to 7th place, after having entered the Top 10 in 2015.
The number of outbound travellers increased by 16% to reach 22 million. Italy climbed to 8th place with US$ 25 billion in outbound tourism expenditure, up 2% from 2015, while reporting a 3% growth in overnight trips to 29 million. Australia moved up to 9th place with a 6% growth in spending to US$ 25 billion, and a 5% increase in outbound trips to 10 million. Hong Kong (China) completes the Top 10 with 5% growth in expenditure to US$ 24 billion and 92 million outbound trips (+3%). Other source markets outside the Top 10, which showed double-digit growth in expenditure last year were: Spain, India, Argentina, Qatar, Thailand, Israel, Ireland, Ukraine, Vietnam and Egypt.
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Grit divests from Letlole La Rona
Grit Services Limited, a member of the pan African real estate group, London Stock Exchange listed Grit Real Estate Income Group is divesting from Letlole La Rona Limited (LLR), a local real estate company established by government investment arm Botswana Development Corporation over a decade ago.
The Board of Directors of Letlole La Rona Limited this week announced in a statement to Unitholders that Grit Services Limited (‚ÄėGrit‚Äô) has informed them of its intention to exit its investment in the company.
Grit has been a material shareholder in LLR since 2019. On 07 March 2023, Grit sold 6 421 000 linked units, representing 2.29% of the Company‚Äôs total securities in issue, at a market value of BWP 22 537 710.
This trade follows previous sales of 6.79% in December 2022, as communicated to Unitholders on 10 January 2023, as well as a further sale of 4.78% (representing 13 347 068 linked units) on 24 February 2023 to various shareholders.
In aggregate, Grit has sold 13.9% shareholding in the Letlole La Rona between December 2022 and March 2023, resulting in current shareholding of 11.25% in the Company.
Letlole La Rona said in the statement that the exit process will take place in an orderly manner so as to maintain stability of the Company‚Äôs share price.
The statement explained that Grit‚Äôs sale of its entire shareholding in LLR is in line with its decision to exit investments where it does not have majority control, or where it has significant exposure to currencies other than US dollar, Euro or hard-currency-pegged revenue streams.
‚ÄúGrit has announced similar decisions pertaining to certain of its hospitality assets in Mauritius recently. The Company would like to advise Unitholders that it remains focused on long-term value delivery to all stakeholders‚ÄĚ LLR said
In July last year as part of their Go-to-Africa strategy Letlole La Rona acquired an initial 30% equity stake in Orbit Africa Logistics, with an option to increase this investment to 50%. OAL is a special purpose vehicle incorporated in Mauritius, owning an industrial asset in a prime industrial node in Nairobi, Kenya.
The co-investment was done alongside a wholly owned subsidiary of London listed Grit. The Orbit facility is situated on a prime industrial site on Mombasa Road, the principal route south of Nairobi center, serving the main industrial node, the port of Mombasa and the industrial town of Athi River and is strategically located 11 kilometers south of the international airport and 9.6 kilometers from the Inland Container Depot.
Grit shareholding in Letlole La Rona was seen as strategic for LLR, for the company to leverage on Grit‚Äôs already existing continental presence and expand its wings beyond Botswana borders as already delivered by Kenya transaction.
Media reports have however suggested that LLR and Grit have since late last year had fundamental disagreements on how to go about the Go-to-Africa strategy amongst other things, fuelled by alleged Botswana government interference on the affairs of LLR.
Government through LLR founding shareholder – Botswana Development Corporation has a controlling stake of around 40 percent in the company. Government is the sole shareholder of Botswana Development Corporation.
Letlole La Rona recently released their financial results for the six months ended December 2022, revenue increased by 4% to P50.2 million from P48.4 million in the prior comparative six months, whilst operating profit was up 8% to P36.5 million. Profit before tax of P49.7 million was reported, an increase of 8% on the prior comparative six months.
‚ÄúWe are encouraged by the strong results, notwithstanding a challenging economic environment. Our performance was mainly underpinned by annual lease escalations, our quality tenant base and below average market vacancy levels, especially in our warehouse portfolio,‚ÄĚ Kamogelo Mowaneng, Letlole La Rona Chief Executive Officer commented.
LLR reported a weighted average lease expiry period of 3.3 years and escalation rates averaging 6.8% per annum for the period ended 31 December 2022.Its investment portfolio value increased by 14% year-on-year to close the period at P1.4 billion, mainly driven by the acquisition of a 30% stake in OAL in July 2022.
The Company also recorded a significant increase in other income, predominantly due to foreign exchange gains on the OAL shareholder loan. ‚ÄúWe continue to explore pipeline opportunities locally, and regionally in line with our Go-to-Africa strategy and our interest remains on value-accretive investments,‚ÄĚ Mowaneng said.
An interim distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit was declared on the 6th of February 2023 for the half-year period to 31 December 2022, comprising of a dividend of 0.05 thebe and debenture interest of 9.06 thebe per linked unit which will be paid to linked unit holders registered in the books of the Company at the close of business on 24 February 2023.
Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW
Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.
The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.
‚ÄúIn accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,‚ÄĚ said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.
In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices.¬† Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.
‚ÄúCommunity empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,‚ÄĚ said Shah.
Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, ¬†Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.
‚ÄúAs a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economy‚Äôs productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,‚ÄĚ said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.