Egypt expects an increase in the flow of tourists from Ukraine in the autumn and expects by the end of 2020 to “catch up” with the indicators of 2019, when the country was visited by more than 1.7 million tourists from Ukraine, Managing Director of ODEON Tours, the host of Coral Travel in Egypt, Abdallah Tarek has said.
“We expect that after the end of the crisis, which lasted three or four months, the number of Ukrainian tourists in Egypt will be the same as last year. Namely, 1.7 million tourists from Ukraine. Given that the season in Egypt begins in winter period, we are now in a low summer season and expect growth in the autumn,” he said.
According to him, this year Egyptian hotels have kept prices at the level of the previous year.
To encourage tourists, the Egyptian government has canceled tourist visa fees for Ukrainians until October 31, 2020. In addition, if Ukrainian tourists have contracted with coronavirus COVID-19, all costs associated with the disease will be fully covered by state-suspended insurance.
At the same time, according to Tarek, the guest will be accommodated free of charge in an isolated room or hospital until complete recovery. And if Egypt enters the “red zone” again, the tour operator Coral Travel will provide its guests with free testing upon their return to Ukraine.
“I can say with confidence that it is now very safe to come to Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada. Each beach hotel has one isolated floor or a separate building in which each infected guest will be isolated with the support and accompaniment of the Ministry of Health, as well as the hotel itself and tour operator Coral Travel,” the managing director of ODEON Tours said.
He also said that as part of measures to counter the spread of COVID-19, the tour operator has created a new application, Coral App, which will contain all relevant information about the tour, aircraft schedule or transfer. Also, all printed materials have been removed, now the information is available in the application.
According to the requirements of the Egyptian government, only hotels that have received the Hygiene Safety Certificate are eligible to receive guests. To ensure that all standards and protocols are adhered to, each hotel has a dedicated health and safety manager and hotel occupancy rates must not exceed 50%.
“We adhere to all the rules introduced by our government, in particular, 50% occupancy during transfers, the obligation of guests to wear masks and disinfect their hands before getting on the bus. All guides undergo mandatory training on how to act, how to protect guests from the threat of the spread of COVID-19, study their responsibilities, including drivers,” Tarek said.
Among the hotels that have received the necessary state certificate and have already opened for guests are five-star Otium Family Amphoras Beach Resort, which is part of the OTI Hotels & Resorts International network, and Rixos Premium Seagate (both in Sharm el-Sheikh).
The construction of a cargo terminal at Boryspil International Airport (Kyiv region) is scheduled to begin this fall, the press service of the European Business Association (EBA) has said, following a meeting of Deputy Infrastructure Minister Oleh Yuschenko and airport representatives.
According to the EBA, with reference to the Ministry of Infrastructure, design work is currently underway to prepare for the construction of the cargo terminal, for which additional land plots have already been allocated. Provided that all preparatory work is completed on time, construction will begin in the fall and should be completed 16 months later.
“Thus, according to optimistic estimates, Boryspil airport will receive a new cargo terminal by the end of 2021,” the report says.
The association notes that the construction of the terminal will be carried out at the expense of attracted credit funds, which, according to representatives of Boryspil airport, have already been previously agreed upon. In turn, the Ministry of Infrastructure is negotiating, in particular, with Asian countries on attracting additional transit flows and is working on simplifying document flow.
“The business community approves such news, because logistics companies have long been awaiting the implementation of this project. The association’s logistics committee includes companies that transport goods, including by air, in international traffic and within Ukraine. Business representatives have a significant share in freight flow, which passes, in particular, through the cargo terminal of Boryspil airport,” the EBA said.
One of the main reasons that currently hinder the development of air cargo transportation in Ukraine, the association calls the worn-out infrastructure of the cargo terminal of Boryspil airport, since the structure of the terminal and its capacity have remained unchanged for many years. In this regard, problems regularly arise during the transportation of goods, especially in winter, when due to bad weather the airport cannot cope with the volume of load, the association explained.
The transfer of Ukrsotsbank’s business to Alfa-Bank (both based in Kyiv) has completed in fact: Ukrsotsbank has around 6% of clients of the number of clients as of early 2017 left on its balance sheet, and the legal merger is expected this autumn, General Manager of the board of the Alfa-Bank banking group, Board Chairman of Ukrsotsbank Ivan Svitek has said. “The merger has actually ended, as all the time we focused not on a legal merger, but on transferring the active business of Ukrsotsbank to the platform of Alfa-Bank Ukraine,” he said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.
He said that only 11,000 of these 6% of clients are active.
Svitek recalled that in 2018, 80% of customers and 90% of balances were transferred from Ukrsotsbank, and the more complex issue of a unified IT system was completed a few weeks ago.
“At Ukrsotsbank, we have migrated more than 8 million accounts to Alfa – both opened and closed, and closed almost 90% of all IT systems and servers, including disconnection of all mobile applications and Internet banking from the system. We have already closed all branches of Ukrsotsbank and almost all of its employees were transferred to Alfa Bank. Only cash collection and one branch of Ukrsotsbank remained,” the head of the banking group said, describing the current situation.
He said that the migration of up to 90% of clients is a very high figure for the merger of banks.
“For us in this process, quality was more important than quantity. Therefore, we are pleased with the result,” Svitek said.
According to him, the largest portfolio that remained on the Ukrsotsbank’s platforme is a portfolio of bad loans, but debtors of the bank should not hope for relief after joining Alfa-Bank.
“Therefore, the legal merger de facto will not affect either the clients or the creditors of Ukrsotsbank,” Svitek said.
He said that the issue of the legal merger is still open and will be discussed at a meeting of the supervisory board in the coming weeks. The head of the group predicted that legally the merger will occur this autumn.
Asked about the brand of the merged bank, Svitek said that there is still no final decision on this matter. He said that new Strategic Marketing Director Natalia Palina, who earlier worked for Jacobs Douwe Egberts and has extensive experience in FMCG, recently joined the team. Until the end of September, she is conducting another in-depth study, the results of which will again weigh all the pros and cons of the decision to change the brand,” the head of the banking group said.
“…it would be very easy to make a decision if Alfa-Bank’s brand lost its value and strength, but this is definitely not the case. Now, only the coming legal merger is actually pushing us to rebranding. Therefore, we are weighing this step again and again,” Svitek said.
He said that rebranding is a very serious procedure and a major stress for the company, so the task is to make the right decision.
Ukrainian agrarians as of November 5 had sowed 7 million hectares with winter grains with the projected area being 7.2 million hectares for the 2019 harvest.
According to a report on the website of the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food, 6 million hectares of the area were sown with winter wheat, with the forecast being 6.2 million hectares, 120,000 hectares with rye with the forecast standing at 150,000 hectare, and 870,000 hectares with winter barley with the forecast being 870,000 hectares.
In addition, one million hectares were sown with winter rapeseeds, with a forecast of 890,000 hectares.
“We are reaching the projected result of 7.2 million hectares under winter crops for grain. As of November 5, about 150,000 hectares more were sown than on the same date last year,” First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Maksym Martyniuk said on Facebook.
According to him, the work was carried out within the best terms, the level of soil moisture was sufficient both for sowing and to ensure the best conditions for growth and development.
“The availability of material and technical resources was at the level or above the need. The availability of mineral fertilizers for the autumn field work amounted to 776,000 tonnes or 108% of the application, in particular phosphate fertilizers amounted to 207,000 tonnes (109% of the need),” Martyniuk reported.
Ukraine would calmly pass this autumn and winter thanks to the assistance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ukraine’s Alternate Executive Director in the IMF Vladyslav Rashkovan has said. “I am sure that we would calmly pass this autumn and next winter, including thanks to assistance from the IMF,” Rashkovan said in an interview with the Novoye Vremia magazine.
He said that Ukraine would soon receive the next tranche from the IMF under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
“I still hope that Ukraine will receive this money. I would think in terms of how it will help us to further implement the reforms that have been launched. Over the past four years it has been done more than in 23 years. The World Bank, the EBRD [the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development] and all international investors admit it, but we have lost a lot of time and we need to develop faster. The IMF is able to help us,” Rashkovan said.