Following the continued upsurge of applications by Nigerians to the United States Embassy for visas, the Mission in Nigeria has disclosed that the country, along with Brazil and China, will now top its priority list for visa issuance to applicants, just as the Mission also formally presented its Consul General for the Lagos Consulate.

Announcing the new U.S visa policy in Abuja, at the monthly press briefing, US Consular Officer, Ms Patty Neary, said the move aims to drastically reduce the hassles and constraints encountered by the teeming applicants from these countries, especially Nigeria.

She further informed that with the new status of the Nigeria in visa issuance procedure, the embassy will deploy more staff and capacity to process applications from Nigeria at the embassy and consulate in Lagos.

“Majority of those visas have been issued. Nigeria became a priority nation in 2012, following the recent upsurge. We are absolutely committed to facilitating legitimate travels and to do that, you need to help us,” said the embassy staff.

Advising applicants to avoid dealing with touts or auxiliary agencies for visa applications, Neary said there was no need to pay a tout to assist in the processing of visa, adding that applicants should rather go on the internet and pay $160 for visa.

“We can’t stress enough, the need for all of you to make your own appointment individually because of its importance. You do not need anyone, you do not need a company to help you process your visa,” she said.

Meanwhile, the United States Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr. Terence McCulley has formally presented the new Consul General of the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, Mr. Jeffrey Hawkins to select Nigerian audience at a reception held in Lagos last Thursday.

The reception was attended by the cream of the Nigerian society, from the government, the civil society, academics, NGOs and the private sector.  Prominent dignitaries at the event included the former Head of State, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Kayode Fayemi, Osun State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Titi Laoye-Tomori and Senator Oluremi Tinubu.

Award-winning novelist, Ms. Chimamanda Adichie graced the occasion with a reading of The Shivering from her book, The Thing Around Your Neck.

The Consul General expressed his delight to be in Nigeria and pledged to do his best to work with everyone to advance the mutual interests of the United States and Nigeria.

Ahead of the forthcoming World Tourism Day 2012 celebration, commemorated September 27 annually, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, has commended the tourism sector for its commitment to sustainable energy in the world, just as he appealed stakeholders and support sectors to join in building a more sustainable future for all.

It would be noted that the recently-concluded Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development emphasized that well-designed and well-managed tourism can make a significant contribution to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

One of the world’s largest economic sectors, tourism is especially well-placed to promote environmental sustainability, green growth and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy.

“Many in the tourism industry have already shown leadership in developing and deploying clean energy solutions, cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions in some regions by up to 40 per cent through initiatives such as the Hotel Energy Solutions toolkit developed by the UN World Tourism Organization and the UN Environment Programme.  Other concrete advances include the growing use of energy-efficient fuels in air travel, sustainable procurement strategies and increasingly popular carbon offsetting schemes.

“Everyone has a role in sustainable tourism.  I commend the tourism community for its growing commitment to sustainable energy.  I also thank the tourists who play their part by off-setting their own carbon emissions, choosing ecologically friendly destinations and providers, or simply by postponing having their towels laundered.  Every action counts.  This year, one billion international tourists will travel to foreign destinations.  Imagine what one act multiplied by one billion can do,” said Moon, adding: “On this World Tourism Day, I appeal to all who work in and enjoy the benefits of this global sector to join in building a more sustainable future for all.

Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development, is the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day, selected to advance the goals of the 2012 International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world depend for income on this energy-intensive sector.  Sustainable energy will allow tourism to continue to expand while mitigating its impact on the environment.

The much-anticipated United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly set for next year hangs in the balance as Zimbabwe, the co-host country, is yet to start the renovation and construction of infrastructure to host the global event.

A year after winning the bid, government is yet to start constructing a convention centre, hotel, villas and a shopping mall on 1, 200 hectares of land.

Government is also yet to secure enough money for the construction work, throwing the entire preparatory process into disarray. In its 2012 budget, Zimbabwe only set aside US$1 million for the construction of the convention centre, which is not enough for all the projects.

Government is instead mulling building a semi-permanent structure made from aluminium glass fabrication – which it claims would last for 15 to 20 years – at Chogm Park, north of Sprayview Hotel in Victoria Falls.

However, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister, Walter Mzembi said that the country will successfully host the assembly next year.

“Every resource we need is in place, what’s left is the implementation part of making it a success” he said.

Despite Mzembi’s optimism, The Standard observed that surveyors only began working on the centre on Friday last week.

“Surveyors are going to start working on the conference centre and temporary structure,” said Mzembi. “We are still going ahead with the conference centre, shopping mall and Victoria Falls will become a Victorian City from now onwards. As long as I am the chairman of tourism, we are going to successfully host the congress,” he said.

Former Tourism and Hospitality Industry secretary, Sylvester Maunganidze was recently transferred from the ministry after he disclosed to parliament that Zimbabwe had lied about the state of its infrastructure in order to win the bid to host tourism’s biggest global event.

Zimbabwe and Zambia are set to co-host the prestigious event where up to 4 000 participants are expected to attend from the 180-member countries.

Last week, Mzembi and Zambia’s Tourism and Arts minister, Sylvia Masebo signed a joint communiqué which is in line with the provisions of the Bilateral Implementation Framework on the co-hosting of the UNWTO assembly

The joint communiqué stated that the co-hosts would share costs equally and that they would also use the Joint Implementation Framework as a guideline for the successful hosting of the event.

Zimbabwe last week launched a countdown to the 2013 UNWTO assembly in Victoria Falls, an event that will see the city celebrating every month with various artistic performances.

In order to host the conference, Zimbabwe has to upgrade the Victoria Falls airport, revamp water and sewer reticulation systems, resurface roads and rehabilitate the hospital in the resort town.

There is also need for an efficient airline, but Air Zimbabwe – which is reeling from debts and problems associated with old equipment – is only servicing the Harare-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route, only three days a week.

The General Assembly is the supreme organ of the Organization. Its ordinary ‎sessions, held every two years, are attended by delegates of the Full and Associate ‎Members, as well as representatives from the Business Council.‎

It is also the most important meeting of senior tourism officials and high-level ‎representatives of the private sector from all over the world.

Zambia and Zimbabwe are the hosts of the 2013 edition of the General Assembly.

Courtesy: allafrica.com

In a bid to glamorize and give an endearing face to the much maligned oil and gas sector of the nation’s economy, considering the amount of stick it has received, and by extension create excitement for it too, a Lagos-based events management company, X-Plore Integrated Service Limited, has initiated plans for a beauty pageant that seeks to exclusively celebrate the women of the Niger Delta.

Recall that a certain Nigerian from Abonema, in Rivers State, Agbani Darego, had in 2001 stunned the world with her beauty.

Darego, won Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria in 2001 and then represented Nigeria in the 2001 Miss Universe competition, held in Bayamón, Puerto Rico where she placed among the top 10 semi-finalists, finishing seventh. She was the only black semi-finalist that year – and the only finalist to wear a maillot as opposed to the more popular bikini

In November 2001, Darego was crowned Miss World, becoming the first native Sub-Saharan African to claim the title which earned her the Nigerian national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).

Perhaps, to also counter and negate the wrong assumption that the entire South-South region is all about its solid mineral resources which undoubtedly abound in the region, the beauty pageant remarkably stands out as it aims to also celebrate the rather under-appreciated human resources of the peoples of the region, particularly the beauty of the women of the region.

The project which is lined up in collaboration with stakeholders in the oil and gas sector, has created the BlackGold Pageant and Awards, a ore goal of which is to appreciate and celebrate the black woman, especially the beautiful and graceful damsels from the oil- producing areas of Nigeria who most times, suffer the consequences of the many civil unrests erupting in the sector.

In addition to the actual event, the organisers have also promised that every edition of the pageant will in addition appreciate outstanding personalities and corporate entities who have contributed significantly to oil and gas development in Nigeria.

According to Louis Nwadialo, the Project Director of BlackGold Pageant and Awards, the event is packaged to be a unique and conspicuous symbolisation, adding: “The Black woman is as beautiful as gold”.

The pageant also aims to encourage the development of the youthful girl child in the oil producing communities especially, the Niger Delta of Nigeria and beyond through the celebration of her education, talent, skill and beauty through the platform of the oil and gas sector.

The pageant also aims to foster the development of tourism and youth empowerment by participating companies.

“BlackGold Pageant and Awards shall recognise and honour individuals as well as corporate entities that served well. The industry, irrespective of the sector they operate from government, the media, banking, telecom, insurance, and others, thus different categories of awards shall be presented to these deserving individuals and corporate entities.

“Though every contestant in the pageant will win consolatory prizes, the major bounty is for the winner and runners up of the pageant who will go home with cars of different categories as well as educational scholarships, gift items from sponsoring firms and trips to renowned holiday resorts. The delectable beauties with brains will also be available for endorsements of brands by companies who wish to buy into their image and social clout for the marginal benefit of their products and services.

“They shall also serve as ambassadors to oil and gas sector, and work in consonance with government, companies and individuals for the betterment and development of oil producing states and the youth in host communities,” assured Nwadialo.

An existing Committee to facilitate the BlackGold Pageant and Awards will work in concert with the BlackGold Panel of Judges to deliver a credible and seamless event, just as there will be a post event audit to create confidence and trust in the mind of sponsors and participants to encourage sustainability of the project.

The event is expected to commence in December in any of the South-South states.

Three prominent authors in Africa have made the shortlist for the 2012 edition of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa sponsored by telecoms giants, Globacom.

The three shortlisted candidates announced, Tuesday, by the judging panel of the awards include: Professor Adimora-Ezeigbo from Nigeria for Roses and Bullets, Sifizo Mzobe from South Africa for Young Blood and his compatriot, Bridget Pitt for The Unseen Leopard.

Organisers of the event, The Lumina Foundation stated that the three candidates were chosen based on the quality of their work and intellectual depth of the authors.

Adimora-Ezeigbo is a multiple award-winning scholar and writer. She received the first Best Researcher Award in the Arts & Humanities at the University of Lagos in 2005. She has had many fellowship’s including visiting Commonwealth Fellow at SOAS, University of London (1989/90); a research fellow at University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg S.A (1999/2000); and Visiting Scholar at the Centre for African Studies, University of Bayreuth, Germany (2000).

This is in addition to many literary awards like Cadbury ANA poetry prize (2009); the Nigerian Prize for Literature (2007) and “Outstanding Contribution Award” from Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the Executive Governor of River State, Nigeria at the Garden City Literary Festival in December, 2010 “in recognition of the vivid colours she has added to Nigerian Literature”.

Sifiso Mzobe, a South African was born in Umlazi township of Durban. He studied journalism at Damelin Business Campus in Durban. He won the Sunday Times Literary Award in 2011 and currently works for a community newspaper in Durban as a journalist.

Bridget Pitt is a Zimbabwe-born South African writer. Her first published work was for newspaper Grassroots, which was used by Cape Town Black communities as an organizing tool in the anti-apartheid struggles during the 1980’s.

She has published poetry in the Thinker magazine, short stories and two adult novels, unbroken wings and the unseen Leopard which was short-listed for the Commonwealth Book Prize in 2011.

She also received a commonwealth nomination for a short story in 2012.

The winner will be announced at the Awards night of Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa holding at Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos on Saturday, 8th September, 2012.

The occasion will be chaired by former Ghanaian President, John Kuffor while Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos will serve as host Governor and Governor Ibikunle Amosun as Special Guest of Honour.

Also expected at the event are top Diplomats, Captains of Industry, University administrators and literary icons.

A recharge card seller was among the newest set of Nigerian millionaires that included an electrician, drivers, students, retirees, traders, pharmacists, bankers, students and a Pastor among tens of others that emerged winners in the just concluded Airtel Free Millionaire Promo.

The prize presentation ceremonies for the promo held Friday simultaneously at the Airtel Head Office in Lagos and its other offices across the nation’s six geo-political zones.

Beside the millionaires, thousands of others won the latest Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Reloaded tablets bundled with free 200MB of data.

The mega promotion which commenced nationwide from April 17, 2012 produced over 70 customers who won N1 million (one million naira) each and more than 1000 others who smiled home with the latest Samsung Smartphone wonder – the Samsung Galaxy Tabs.

Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Airtel Nigeria’s Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director, Deepak Srivastava said: “changing peoples’ lives through impactful telecommunications services and offerings remain our commitment, which is in line with our promise to Nigerians on commencement of operations two years ago.”

“The mega promo was another channel for us to show appreciation to our esteemed customers for their loyalty to our brand. Today, we have kept our promise to raise millionaires and give out top of the range communications gadget to others. We know that that the winnings would not only benefit the winners alone but will spill-over to other family members and loved ones because with today’s empowerment, school fees shall be paid, new businesses created and old ones expanded,” stated Srivastava.

The Chief Operating Officer also applauded participating partner, Samsung which he described as “worthy ally” for buying into the vision of the telecom firm to create excitement and improve the life styles of its customers.

The Airtel Free Millionaire Promo was supervised by a world-class systems, processes and applications audit firm, Alexander Forbes.

Other millionaires who emerged from the mega promo include: Kehinde Fagbayi, a Lagos–based electrician ; Jarfaru Garba of the Nigerian Customs Service, Lagos Command; Sunday Udeh-Eni, a trader in fairly used computers; a Lagos-based Chemist, Godwin Sunday Okafor; Victor Ojo Akingbondere; Jason E. Anyaegbudike; Cosmos Chinaka Obi, a Lagos-based driver; Derick Fumlak of Jos; Marcellus Maduaka who pastors in Benin; Ogbodo Micheal Emenike, a Student, Mr. Job Ovuezirie Efekiluo from Warri and Bilyamiu Muhammad, who is based in Jalingo, Taraba State.

Leading Telecommunications service provider, Airtel Nigeria is poised to further transform the vibrant Nigerian telecoms market with the introduction of a first-of-its-kind bonus offer tagged “Airtel 5X offer.”

The new bonus offer gives all Airtel’s prepaid customers instant 500 percent bonus airtime each day they utilise set thresholds on local call usage. If a prepaid customer’s assigned daily threshold is 100 Naira, utilization of this amount on a daily basis would earn the person a whopping 500 Naira (five times his threshold usage) instantly, every day.

The promo comes with a proviso that the bonus airtime offer tagged “Airtel 5X offer”, can only be utilized for Airtel to Airtel calls on the same day it is received as the validity expires every 12 pm midnight of the same day.

Customers would be provided with information on their daily threshold via SMS or by calling the MAMO interactive voice service free of charge on 141. (To Check their 500% Bonus balance, customers are to dial *123*4#.)

Speaking on the 500 per cent usage bonus offer, Airtel’s Chief Marketing Officer, Olu Akanmu said it is yet another testimony to the commitment of the company to empower, delight and excite its esteemed customers with innovative and exclusive offerings.

Stated Akanmu: “We are committed to go the extra mile in giving back to our customers as much incentive as possible to encourage communication with friends, family, loved ones and business associates. Airtel 5X offer is not a lottery. It is not a game of chance unlike others in the market. Every participant is assured of getting five times their daily usage as long as they participate and meet their advised daily usage requirement. The Airtel 5X offer is unprecedented in its instant and guaranteed airtime reward to customers who participate in the offer. To us, this is also a way of saying thank you to our dear customers who have made us proud by choosing our brand as their network of choice.”

Only local calls would be used in determining the daily usage threshold achievement that will qualify a customer to enjoy the 500% bonus airtime offer. International calls, SMS or data usage would not qualify customers for the bonus.

Customers can get further information on the Airtel 500% airtime Bonus Offer by dialling Airtel customer toll- free lines on 111, 121 or Airtel My Offer interactive voice service on 141.

Top telecommunications firm, Bharti Airtel, with operations in 17 countries across Africa, Tuesday, announced a partnership with United States-based company, Sproxil to combat the counterfeit drug market in Africa.

Sproxil’s Mobile Product Authentication (MPA) solution allows consumers to verify product genuineness within seconds through a text message, while Airtel will offer this service absolutely free to its users and not charge for any SMS based verification.

Sproxil’s service works by placing a scratch-off label on products, and then when consumers purchase a product, they scratch off the label to reveal a unique, random code. The code is then sent via SMS to a

country-specific Toll Free short code, and the consumer receives a reply almost instantly indicating whether the product is genuine or not.

“Our goal is to bring affordable and easily accessible health services to over 450 million people. The battle against counterfeit drugs is a huge step towards this goal.”  Beyers added “Whilst this agreement is a step in the right direction, I also believe that collaboration between all the stakeholders in the mobile health ecosystem is key to a successful and sustainable future.

“Building relationships with individual telecom companies and acquiring the short codes necessary for our MPA solution in each country can take a considerable amount of time – it slows down deployment,” said Dr. Ashifi Gogo, Sproxil CEO.

“By working with Airtel, we can get short codes in various countries different markets from just one company, streamlining the process and ‘turbo charging’ our expansion throughout the region.  For the consumers it’s a win-win – two advanced technologies working together:  Airtel’s network provides high quality, very affordable telecom service enabling consumers to take advantage of Sproxil’s brand protection solution, at no cost to them,” remarked Andre Beyers, Chief Marketing Officer, Bharti Airtel, Africa.

Airtel is a leader in mobile communications, providing services in 17 countries across Africa, which include; Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The partnership is designed to facilitate the deployment of Sproxil’s Mobile Product Authentification (MPA) solution throughout developing regions of Africa– markets where Airtel is entrenched as a leading telecommunications provider.

While Bharti Airtel Limited, headquartered in New Delhi, India, is a leading integrated telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa and ranks. amongst the top 5

mobile service providers globally in terms of subscribers, with over 257 million customers across its operations at the end of June 2012, Sproxil, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States is a venture-backed, social enterprise that provides world-class brand protection services in emerging markets.

The Company’s Mobile Product Authentication (MPA) solution helps ensure purchased goods are not stolen or counterfeit by allowing consumers to verify product genuineness within seconds through a text message. Compatible with any tangible item, Sproxil’s solution is widely used by leading pharmaceutical companies to curb the multi-billion dollar counterfeit drug industry.

Sproxil has also penetrated non-pharmaceutical industries including personal care, automotive aftermarket and food supplements.

Leading Telecommunications service provider, Airtel Nigeria is poised to further transform the vibrant Nigerian telecoms market with the introduction of a first-of-its-kind bonus offer tagged “Airtel 5X offer.”

The new bonus offer gives all Airtel’s prepaid customers instant 500 percent bonus airtime each day they utilise set thresholds on local call usage. If a prepaid customer’s assigned daily threshold is 100 Naira, utilization of this amount on a daily basis would earn the person a whopping 500 Naira (five times his threshold usage) instantly, every day.

The promo comes with a proviso that the bonus airtime offer tagged “Airtel 5X offer”, can only be utilized for Airtel to Airtel calls on the same day it is received as the validity expires every 12 pm midnight of the same day.

Customers would be provided with information on their daily threshold via SMS or by calling the MAMO interactive voice service free of charge on 141. (To Check their 500% Bonus balance, customers are to dial *123*4#.)

Speaking on the 500 per cent usage bonus offer, Airtel’s Chief Marketing Officer, Olu Akanmu said it is yet another testimony to the commitment of the company to empower, delight and excite its esteemed customers with innovative and exclusive offerings.

Stated Akanmu: “We are committed to go the extra mile in giving back to our customers as much incentive as possible to encourage communication with friends, family, loved ones and business associates. Airtel 5X offer is not a lottery. It is not a game of chance unlike others in the market. Every participant is assured of getting five times their daily usage as long as they participate and meet their advised daily usage requirement. The Airtel 5X offer is unprecedented in its instant and guaranteed airtime reward to customers who participate in the offer. To us, this is also a way of saying thank you to our dear customers who have made us proud by choosing our brand as their network of choice.”

Only local calls would be used in determining the daily usage threshold achievement that will qualify a customer to enjoy the 500% bonus airtime offer. International calls, SMS or data usage would not qualify customers for the bonus.

Customers can get further information on the Airtel 500% airtime Bonus Offer by dialling Airtel customer toll- free lines on 111, 121 or Airtel My Offer interactive voice service on 141.

A recent survey conducted by a global corporate service group, the Hogg Robinson Group plc (HRG), has surprisingly named Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital city as having hotels with the second highest room rates, just as Russia came tops in the poll conducted among leading business destinations of the world.

The survey however noted that average hotel room rates in Lagos have decreased by 6 per cent in British pounds and 5 per cent in local currency following an appreciable number of new hotel openings which have gone some way to ease pressure on capacity.

With a seeming influx of international brands into the city, like the Best Western, Intercontinental, Golden Tulip, Radisson Blu Anchorage, Southern Sun, Whitbread, Starwood’s Four Points by Sheraton, and with the expansion of existing brands like Protea, Rezidor, rooms rates have however, hovered between N60, 000 and N80, 000 per night for single or classic rooms, which the survey observed still remain some of the highest in the world, representing over $US500.

These top cities are also business hotspots catering to corporate travel. The survey is indicative of where companies are channelling their travel budgets.

Lagos, by implication also topped the room rates figures for hotels in Africa ahead of top tourists’ destinations like South Africa’s Cape Town and Johannesburg and Kenya’s Nairobi.

Out of 50 major travel destinations surveyed, the Russian capital has had the highest average room rate for eight years straight. HRG trends revealed Moscow as the priciest city for hotel stays, with rates climbing to 3 per cent in local currency since 2011.

In the case of Lagos, the survey noted that the high volume of inbound business travel was connected with the oil industry, considering that Lagos still remained the major entry point for most international airlines servicing the route, in the same way as the issue of security also played a major role in the soaring price of hotel rooms.

“Travellers to Lagos are also conscious of the city’s well-documented security issues and are more inclined to stay in five-star accommodation,” the survey stated.

The survey showed a year on year increase in 2012, compared with 33 cities in 2011. All results are based on a combination of industry intelligence, actual room nights booked and rates paid during January to June 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

“Average hotel room rates in Lagos have decreased by 6 per cent in GBP and 5 per cent in local currency. New hotel openings have gone some way to ease pressure on capacity, but average rates remain some of the highest in the world. Security is a significant concern in Lagos, so business travellers are advised only to stay in one of the few, high-end hotels in the oil-rich city.

“The South African economy may be growing, but Johannesburg is still feeling the effects of an oversupply of hotels following the 2010 World Cup, resulting in a rate decrease of 11 per cent GBP and flat rates in local currency. Cape Town benefitted from a strong convention season, which saw room rates shoot up 5 per cent in local currency. It is worth noting however that these rises were largely cancelled out by currency fluctuations, which meant rates actually decreased by 7 per cent in GBP.

“Nairobi showed a rate increase of 5 per cent in GBP and 1 per cent in local currency. The city is experiencing increased demand as its markets recover from a dip in growth, but hotel rate increases have been arrested by investment in new hotels. More than 1,100 rooms are due to enter the Nairobi market before 2014, but steady rate increases are expected to continue.

In the overall, trends noted by the HRG survey include: For the 8th year in a row, room rates in Moscow are far and away the highest of any destination monitored by HRG.  Hotel prices in the Russian capital have risen 3 per cent in local currency over the past year.

“Lagos emerged as the second most expensive destination due to the high volume of inbound business travel connected with the oil industry.  Travellers to Lagos are also conscious of the city’s well-documented security issues and are more inclined to stay in five-star accommodation.

“Mexico City reported the highest increase in room rates at 30 per cent in local currency, as growth in demand, coupled with a lack of new openings, drove an aggressive increase in average achieved rates.  Across the wider Latin American region, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo reported rate increases of 15 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.

“Room rates in Tokyo recovered by 4 per cent as the region increased following the earthquake and tsunami in 2011.  Dubai also saw room rates rise as business travellers returned to the region following the upheaval of the Arab Spring.

“Hotel rates in India were driven down by the country’s economic slowdown and lack of capital for new investments.  Mumbai showed an average room rate decrease of 7 per cent and Bangalore 21 per cent in local currency.

“The financial crisis affected average room rates across the Eurozone leading to rate decreases in key European cities, notably Barcelona which saw rates fall by 22 per cent in local currency.  Madrid and Dublin also reported 2 per cent and 6 per cent rate decrease respectively.

 

The UK saw a 2 per cent room rate increase, primarily driven by high rates in London and a select number of regional cities, including Liverpool which saw room rates jump by 8 per cent following increased economic activity in the region, while key destinations in the USA, including New York, San Francisco all saw average hotel room rates rise in the first half of 2012, as business activity increased in line with economic performance,” ” said Stewart Harvey, Group Commercial Director at HRG.

Now in its 20th year, HRG’s biannual hotel survey looks at hotel room rates for key business destinations across the world to provide a dynamic insight into global business travel behaviours. Data presented in the 2012 half-year survey is based on a combination of industry intelligence, actual room nights booked and rates paid during January to June 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

HRG is the award-winning international corporate services company.  Established in 1845 and headquartered in Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK, HRG specialises in travel, expense and data management underpinned by proprietary technology.   With a worldwide network that comprises over 120 countries, HRG provides unparalleled global expertise and local knowledge in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa, Latin America and MEWA.

The list of 10 most expensive cities to stay in and their average hotel room rate include:1. Moscow, Russia: US$407; 2. Lagos, Nigeria: US$34; 3. Geneva, Switzerland: US$340; 4. Zurich, Switzerland: US$332; 5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: US$323; 6. New York City, New York: US$320; 7. Sydney, Australia: US$312; 8. Hong Kong, China: US$306; 9. Paris, France: US$304; and 10. Washington, D.C, United States: US$302.