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TUI looking at new equity, divestments to cut COVID-19 debt pile

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LONDON (Reuters) – TUI (TUIT.L) (TUIGn.DE), the world’s largest tourism company, said it was considering raising new equity from shareholders or selling off parts of the business to reduce debt taken on to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

TUI, which last year took 23 million people on holiday, lost 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in the three months through June after COVID-19 halted travel, wiping out revenue and straining its balance sheet as it burned through about 550 million to 650 million euros per month.

It secured a second credit line from the German government on Wednesday, adding to a 1.8 billion euro state-backed loan taken on in April, and while the CEO said it might not need to use the latest line, the focus is now on debt.

“A rights issue or whatever kind of measure is something we are looking at,” Chief executive Fritz Joussen told reporters on Thursday.

Asked how big a rights issue could be, Joussen said it was “early days”, and he did not say which parts of the business were up for sale, although he insisted that any sales would not be distressed.

The state loans are due to be repaid in summer 2022 and banking sources have suggested that TUI could sell all or part of its 49% stake in the Spanish hotel chain RUI Hotels & Resorts.

With the latest German aid package, TUI said liquidity was 2.4 billion euros, giving it confidence it can make it through to 2021 even as the pandemic continues to hit travel, and as it approaches winter when holiday companies generally lose money.

TUI said that it expected normality to return by 2022 and was encouraged by bookings for summer holidays next year which were up 145%. Analysts were sceptical.

“We think plans to reduce leverage in 2021 and reach normalised profit growth in 2022 are ambitious,” said Jefferies.

The company’s London-based shares fell 5% to 347 pence. The stock has lost 63% of its value in the year to date.

TUI’s quarterly underlying operating loss of 1.1 billion euros as revenues plummeted 98.5% to 72 million euros, compared with earnings before interest and tax of 102.3 million euros in the same period last year.

Bookings for this summer are down 81% from last year and Joussen said the situation was still “fragile”. TUI’s recovery was set back by new UK restrictions on travel to Spain.

The company said it was making progress with the cost cuts needed to help it withstand the crisis. It warned in May that it would need to axe 8,000 jobs and save 300 million euros a year.

($1 = 0.8460 euros)

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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