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Big UK businesses see ‘long haul’ to recovery, Deloitte says

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LONDON (Reuters) – Nearly half of Britain’s biggest companies think it will take until the second half of 2021 before business recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey on Monday that cast doubt on hopes for a speedier rebound.

Accountants Deloitte said 49% of chief financial officers from large and mostly listed companies forecast a return to pre-pandemic levels of business only in the latter half of next year.

Another 33% predicted a recovery in the first half of 2021 and 10% said business had already bounced back.

The survey chimed with other gauges of business sentiment, such as the Bank of England’s Decision Makers’ Panel, which show companies expect a lasting hit from the virus outbreak that has killed more than 45,000 people in the United Kingdom.

Deloitte said companies were resolutely downbeat about the outlook for jobs, investment and adding risk to their balance sheet, although less so than in its previous quarterly survey.

“Major corporates are expecting a long haul back to pre-COVID levels of revenue,” said Ian Stewart, Deloitte’s chief economist.

“COVID-19 overshadows all other sources of risk for UK CFOs, and by a wide margin.”

Separately, manufacturing trade body Make UK on Monday called for the government to extend its job furlough scheme, due to expire at the end of October, by six months for key industrial sectors.

A Bank of England scenario published in May showed the economy regaining its pre-pandemic size by the second half of next year, but evidence for the kind of “V”-shaped recovery that would be needed is patchy.

“At present, the prospect of a V-shaped recovery for industry seems remote,” said Stephen Phipson, Make UK chief executive.

“Therefore, if we are to mitigate the worst impact of potential job losses Government must extend the furlough scheme for key strategic sectors to provide them with vital breathing space.”

The economy could shrink by more than 14% this year if there is lasting damage from the coronavirus, a scenario that would push government borrowing to nearly half a trillion dollars, government budget forecasters said last week.

BoE Governor Andrew Bailey said on Friday that Britain’s economy was starting to recover from its coronavirus lockdown but some job-intense sectors remained weak and the longer-term outlook was unclear.

The Deloitte survey of 109 chief financial officers from companies took place between June 26 and July 8.

Reporting and photo: Reuters

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Maldives celebrates arrival of 2024’s 1 millionth tourist

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Maldives on Thursday welcomed the one millionth tourist to visit this year.

The one millionth tourist is a Thai named Sutapa Amonwivat, who arrived from Singapore with her husband and two children. This is her second visit to Maldives.

Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) and the Ministry of Tourism gave a warm welcome to Sutapa at the Velana International Airport (VIA) Thursday afternoon. She was welcomed at the VIA by tourism minister Ibrahim Faisal, MMPRC Managing Director Ibrahim Shiury and senior officials of various relevant agencies.

After welcoming her with traditional offerings, she was presented with various gifts by the ministry, MMPRC, customs, immigration, Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) and Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA).

Maldives reached one million tourists in June, three weeks earlier than last year. The number of tourists reached one million on July 16, 2023.

Maldives expects to reach 2 million tourists this year.

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New air route connects Chongqing to Maldives

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Chongqing Airlines on Monday began its inaugural flights to Maldives.

The Chongqing-Male route, scheduled three times a week, is expected to strengthen the bonds between China and the Maldives, opening up exciting new opportunities for tourism and cultural exchange.

The inaugural flight was welcomed upon its arrival at Velana International Airport (VIA) in Maldives, where local officials and tourism representatives expressed their enthusiasm for this new development.

“We warmly welcome our friends from China to our beautiful islands. This new connection strengthens our bonds and opens up new opportunities for tourism,” the tourism ministry said on X.

Maldives currently welcomes four airlines from China, including China Eastern, Beijing Capital Airlines, Xiamen Airlines.

In January, Maldives government urged tourism stakeholders in both Maldives and China to ramp up efforts to restore China’s position as the primary source market for Maldives tourism, a status held before the onset of Covid-19.

China, being the largest source market for Maldives tourism before the pandemic, saw a resumption of tourist arrivals from January 2023 after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. In 2023, the Maldives welcomed 187,118 Chinese tourists, marking a significant recovery in numbers. This year, the Maldives has welcomed the most number of tourists from China, with over 107,940 or 11.5 percent of total arrivals by June 12. 

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CROSSROADS Maldives Introduces Weixin Pay at resorts for seamless guest experience

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CROSSROADS Maldives has introduced WeChat Pay, widely known as Weixin Pay in China, across its world-class resorts, SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, and Hard Rock Hotel Maldives. This payment option is made available to enhance the convenience and overall experience for guests from China, making their stay in the Maldives more enjoyable and hassle-free.

Understanding the needs of the diverse guests, CROSSROADS Maldives has integrated WeChat Pay into operations, allowing guests from China to easily and securely conduct transactions using a payment method familiar to them. The introduction of WeChat Pay is a testament to CROSSROADS Maldives’ dedication to enhancing guest satisfaction by offering exceptional experiences at every turn. What is also expected through this initiative is that the guests could benefit from better foreign exchange rates, translating to better savings on their expenditures during their stay.

The option is available for guests in-house conveniently at both resorts as well as across the Marina at CROSSROADS Maldives where a wider variety of unparalleled dining and retail experiences are available for all guests. The day visitors from China will also therefore equally benefit from this new introduction at the Maldives’ premier multi-island integrated leisure destination.

SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton, is a vibrant tropical escape that offers unique and locally inspired experiences. The resort features spacious rooms and villas, a variety of dining options, and an array of recreational activities designed to cater to the desires of modern travellers. Guests can escape to the island’s SAiisational natural beauty, enjoy water sports, and indulge in spa treatments, all while relishing the personalised service that defines Hilton’s Curio Collection.

Hard Rock Hotel Maldives brings the iconic Hard Rock spirit to the tranquil shores of the Maldives. This family-friendly resort offers a perfect blend of relaxation and entertainment, featuring music-inspired experiences, live performances, and the brand’s signature amenities. With luxurious accommodations, diverse dining options, and a plethora of activities for all ages, Hard Rock Hotel Maldives ensures an unforgettable holiday experience for every guest.

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