At Year-End 2021, Global Hotel Construction Pipeline Counts Essentially Even Year-Over-Year.
(February 23rd, 2022) The latest Global Hotel Construction Pipeline Trend Report from Lodging Econometrics (LE) states that, at Q4 2021, the global hotel construction pipeline stands at 13,770 projects with 2,304,386 rooms. Year-over-year (YOY) the total global pipeline decreased 1% by projects and is largely unchanged by rooms.
Worldwide, at year-end, there are 6,101 projects (1,136,680 rooms) currently under construction. Projects scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months stand at 3,547 projects (518,159 rooms) at the end of 2021, and projects in the early planning stage are at all-time highs and stand at 4,122 projects (649,547 rooms). Conversion projects are at an all-time high as well, standing at 1,448 projects (190,322 rooms).
The top countries by project count are the United States with 4,814 projects (581,953 rooms) and China reaching a new all-time high at Q4 with 3,693 projects (700,567 rooms). The U.S. accounts for 35% of projects in the total global construction pipeline while China accounts for 27%; resulting in 62% of all global projects in just these two countries. Following distantly is the United Kingdom with 313 projects (48,770 rooms), Indonesia with 304 projects (48,175 rooms), and Germany with 277 projects (48,827 rooms).
Around the world, the cities with the largest pipeline counts are Dallas, TX with 152 projects (18,180 rooms); Chengdu, China with 144 projects (29,485 rooms); and Atlanta, GA with 133 projects (17,593 rooms). Shanghai, China, follows with 127 projects (24,279 rooms), and then New York, NY with 121 projects (19,303 rooms).
The leading franchise companies in the global construction pipeline by project count are Marriott International, with 2,536 projects (426,744 rooms), Hilton Worldwide with 2,521 projects (376,251 rooms); InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) with 1,652 projects (244,179 rooms); and AccorHotels with 940 projects (166,411 rooms). These four companies account for 56% of all projects in the global pipeline.
Brands leading in the pipeline for each of these companies are Marriott’s Fairfield Inn, with 360 projects (43,791 rooms); Hampton by Hilton with 764 projects (101,455 rooms); IHG’s Holiday Inn Express with 613 projects (78,791 rooms); and Accor’s Ibis Brands with 274 projects (37,937 rooms).
Globally, throughout 2021, 2,246 hotels opened, accounting for 340,667 rooms. Four hundred sixty-nine of those hotels and 76,363 rooms opened in the fourth quarter of 2021. LE is forecasting 2,805 hotels (428,037 rooms) to open in 2022 and another 2,934 hotels (447,575 rooms) to open in 2023.
UNWTO: Circularity In The Hotel Industry And Competitiveness: A Manual For Implementing Good Practices.
Transforming Vision Into Action - Guidelines and Tools
Tourism has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. First, because restrictions on mobility and activity have hindered the operations of the actors that participate in the tourism value chain and have seriously compromised their results. But above all, because the most disruptive effects of the pandemic and its consequences will undoubtedly fall upon the world of tourism and travel. This situation constitutes a wake-up call, especially for regions and countries that continue to be highly tourism-oriented, to not delay the task of reformulating the foundations of their current competitive position in international tourism markets and finding new levers to activate from a renewed perspective of responsible tourism.
Based on the conviction that sustainability is a key lever for prosperity by means of a growth pattern that guarantees the efficient use of natural and environmental resources, the circular economy is positioned to be an important road to progress in boosting the global sustainable competitiveness of destinations. Although this undoubtedly means a systemic change affecting all sectors and participants that are the essence of the local system, the hospitality sector, with its role in the tourism value chain, is well placed to lead this transition and act as the ‘circularity laboratory’ for the rest of the tourism sector and other relevant areas of production within the local context.
Given the shortage of general and business-related references which address the practical application of the notion of circularity in the hotel business, the Impulsa Balears Foundation, in line with the recommendations of One Planet Vision, and with the support of the Iberostar Group and the UNWTO, has undertaken to build its own strategic circularity framework for the hotel sector in line with the current principles and global instruments, aimed at: (i) enabling good practices to be established and monitored among those within the sector; (ii) encouraging circular connections to be created along its value chain; and, in this way (iii) contribute to closing the gap in implementing the global principles relating to sustainability and tourism at a local level.
The results suggest that the advancement of the current hotel business model towards circularity relies on 3 building blocks or strategic pillars that adopt, following the UN Global Compact’s recommendations, a three-fold perspective: ‘strategic-operational-cultural’. Specifically, these building blocks presuppose that all circular strategies will lead to the management of the available resources, i.e., investment, innovation and governance of hotel companies; the modernization of internal processes, i.e., allocation of assets, supplies and design of service provision; and the participation of the primary stakeholders, i.e., employees, suppliers and clients, B2B included. Hence, to help translate the strategy into action, the framework proposes incorporating 13 circular guidelines, the implementation of which implies for hotel companies continuous monitoring efforts associated with the achievement of annual objectives established in their respective circularity strategies. To this effect, the framework proposes a metric which allows hotel companies to transfer their strategic vision to a balanced and integrated system to track the circular progress of the business and accomplishing this through a series of 81 key performance indicators (KPIs), which are directly linked to 125 lines of action to inspire the implementation of good circular practices.
All in all, the guidelines of the strategic framework are easily connected with the current reporting standards in the world in terms of sustainability, the elements considered in environmental certification systems, and to global guidelines and objectives that are fundamentally related to the 2030 Agenda. Furthermore, it can be said that the proposed strategic framework helps decision-making by hotel companies in any destination where they operate their portfolio of establishments. The proposed framework thus takes on a global nature and ultimately aims to inspire the development of more circular destinations.
For the full 64 page manual click below.
As if the airlines didn’t have enough problems. The price of oil goes through the roof.
CAPA | January 24 2022
Whichever way you look at it, the world’s airlines have another tough year ahead of them. Some will do better than others; some will fail, as the overhang of two years of losses and new accumulated debt simply becomes too much.
But overall, 2022 no longer holds the promise of a gleaming post-recession recovery that had been hoped for.
Demand will continue choppy for some months to come, at least, as capricious border closures persist, encouraging consumers to look elsewhere for their discretionary spending. Worse still, business travel will be muted, destroying the high yielding fares that sustain long haul international travel.
So, as the world’s economies stagger back into growth, still burdened by supply chain disruption, it’s a most unwelcome development that oil prices should hit a seven year high in the past week to 21-Jan-2022, Brent Crude ending at just under USD88 a barrel.
Moreover, Goldman Sachs has suggested the price would climb to USD100 in 3Q2022 – not as big a rise as it perhaps sounds, only another USD11 from current levels. Part of the rises are attributed to shortage of oil supplies, as producers and users have allowed stocks to decline. It would not be the first time a large and influential financial institution has predicted triple digit oil; without being unduly cynical, price volatility and higher prices offer better trading prospects.
IATA’s reporting on jet fuel prices – jet fuel is a distillate from the crude oil – shows however that the airlines are already paying over USD100 for their fuel.
The average price of jet fuel for the first two weeks of 2022, to Jan-21-2022, just tipped over the century mark, up 74% over the same time last year. A few days later, according to jet-a1-fuel.com, jet fuel prices around the world range up to USD108 per barrel on 25-Jan-2022, led by the Americas and Europe.
And, as can be seen from the graph below, the gap between aviation fuel and crude prices is widening, never a good sign. If travel demand picks up in the next few weeks, as many predict, pressures for further increases will grow.
Jet fuel and Brent Crude prices movements Jan-2015 to Jan21-2022
At these prices, IATA notes that the “impact on the 2022 fuel bill” will be USD63.1 billion. To put that in context, in 2019, when IATA airlines made a collective profit of only USD30 billion, jet fuel prices ranged between USD70-85 per barrel, mostly at the lower range.
The first month of this year is almost gone – with most airlines still highly unprofitable - and it is most unlikely that collective revenues will achieve 2019 levels. Add another 20% or more to fuel costs in an industry with such tight margins at such a fragile time and the conclusions are unambiguous.
The timing is particularly bad because it hurts the soft end of the market
Much of the air travel recovery to date has been among the price sensitive segments of the market, the tourists. So the fuel price rise is acutely significant for the more successful airlines.
Where fuel costs represent anything from 30-50% of costs, depending on the cost profile of the airline (that is, for LCCs, whose other costs are lower, fuel accounts for a higher proportion overall), that means the recent developments hit right at the heart of the recovery. LCCs frequently do not hedge their fuel costs, leaving them more open to fluctuations. Sometimes they benefit; when prices rise steeply, they suffer disproportionately.
While there is optimism about the prospects for a European travel recovery, airlines like Wizz Air are feeling the pain. Share prices for most airlines are however sliding in recent days, perhaps a combination of uncertainty, but fuel price outlook is undoubtedly weighing heavily.
While the Government of Aruba saw its income grow by 2.3% in 2021 to 1.09 billion florins, this total was still 22.5% less than the 1.40 billion florins received in 2020.
According to the Central Bank of Aruba
During calendar year 2021 the Government’s total income grew by 2.3%, that is by 24.5 million florins, from 1.062 billion florins received in 2020 to 1.087 billion florins in 2021. The 1.087 billion florins however was 22.5% less than the 1.402 billion florins received in 2019.
Total Income: January – December 2021
The main contributors to the change in revenue in 2021 were: -
Please note the 198 million florins received in income in May 2019 was exceptional and largely driven by a contribution of 43.6 million in non-tax revenue (dividends) which was not repeated in subsequent years.
Please note these numbers are preliminary and subject to change.
As reported by the Central Bank of Aruba in its December 2021 Monthly Tables report.
Data for government expenditures are only available for the first three quarters of 2021.
Government expenditures fell by 4.4% in the first three quarters of 2021 compared with the same nine months of 2020, falling by 56.3 million florins from 1.268 billion florins in 2020 to 1.212 billion florins in 2021.
However, Government expenditures were 14.6% higher in the first three quarters of 2021 compared with the same nine months of 2019.
Wage related expenditures fell by 3.8% in the first nine months of 2021, falling by 16.5 million florins from 431.2 million florins in 2020 to 414.7 million florins in the same nine months of 2021. Wage related expenditures in the first nine months of 2021 were 13.2% less than the amount paid out in the same nine months of 2019. Wage related expenditures comprised 34.0% of government expenditures in the first nine months of 2020 growing to 34.2% in 2021.
The increase in Government expenditures and decline in revenues resulted in a substantial increase in the Government’s financial deficit in the first nine months of 2021 with the cumulative deficit growing to 446.0 million florins.
The deficit was addressed by increased borrowing, with the national debt growing by 9.6% (493.5 million florins) in the first ni1ne months of 2021.
The Government’s total debt increased by 1.32 billion florins (30.6%) between December 2019 and September 2021.
For more details go to the Central Bank’s Government Finance Statistical News Releases for the Third Quarter of 2021
MIAMI, Feb. 4, 2022
"2021 marked the beginning of our return to our mission of delivering the very best vacation experiences," said Jason Liberty, president and chief executive officer of the Royal Caribbean Group. "During 2021, we made significant progress toward our recovery with over 85% of our capacity returning to operations and delivering safe and memorable experiences to approximately 1.3 million guests at record guest satisfaction scores. Our team has worked tirelessly to execute our successful and healthy return, and we are grateful for their extraordinary efforts."
"We expect 2022 will be a strong transitional year, as we bring the rest of our fleet back into operations and well-nigh historical occupancy levels," Liberty said. "Omicron created short-term operational challenges that have unfortunately weighed on close-in bookings. While the timing of Omicron was particularly unfortunate for the first half of 2022 bookings and will likely delay our return to profitability by a few months, we do not expect it to impact our overall recovery trajectory and the strong demand for cruising."
Resumption of Sailing and Business Highlights
By the end of 2021, the Group had returned 50 out of 61 ships to operations across its five brands, representing over 85% of its worldwide capacity. During the year, the Group carried approximately 1.3 million guests across the five brands, achieving record guest satisfaction scores and onboard spend per passenger.
Due to the impact of the Omicron variant, the company experienced some service disruptions and cancelled several sailings in Q1, although it still expects to operate approximately 95% of its planned capacity in Q1.
Bookings in the fourth quarter were sequentially higher than the third quarter. Due to the impact of the Omicron variant, bookings decreased in December and remained lower over the holiday period, but have started to increase with each consecutive week since the beginning of 2022 and are now back to pre-Omicron levels.
Cumulative advance bookings for the second half of 2022 are within historical ranges and at higher prices, with and without future cruise credits (FCCs).
The Group expects to return the full fleet before the summer season of 2022 and load factors approaching historical levels in the third quarter of 2022. The company is thoughtfully ramping up the fleet and load factors while emphasizing industry-leading health and safety standards, world-class guest experiences and financial prudence.
Notwithstanding the impact from Omicron, the Group expects to be operating cash flow positive in late spring. The Group also expects a Net Loss for the first half of 2022 and a return to profitability in the second half of 2022.
Full Year 2021 Results
The company gradually resumed its global cruise operations beginning in December 2020 in Singapore and June 2021 in the U.S. For the full year, the company reported US GAAP Net Loss of $(5.3) billion or $(20.89) per share compared to US GAAP Net Loss of $(5.8) billion or $(27.05) per share in the prior year. The company also reported Adjusted Net Loss of $(4.8) billion or $(19.19) per share for the full year 2021 compared to Adjusted Net Loss of $(3.9) billion or $(18.31) per share in the prior year.
Fourth Quarter 2021 Results
The company reported US GAAP Net Loss for the fourth quarter of 2021 of $(1.4) billion or $(5.33) per share compared to US GAAP Net Loss of $(1.4) billion or $(6.09) per share in the prior year. The company also reported Adjusted Net Loss of $(1.2) billion or $(4.78) per share for the fourth quarter of 2021 compared to Adjusted Net Loss of $(1.1) billion or $(5.02) per share in the prior year. During the fourth quarter of 2021, the company eliminated the three-month reporting lag for Silversea Cruises to reflect the brand's financial position, results of operations and cash flows concurrently and consistently with the company's fiscal calendar. The effect of this change resulted in a negative impact of approximately $(0.25) per share for the fourth quarter of 2021, which has been excluded from the company's adjusted results for transparency and comparability purposes. The Net Loss and Adjusted Net Loss for the fourth quarter and full year of 2021 are the result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business.
In the fourth quarter, 12 additional ships returned to service. The company is thoughtfully ramping up the fleet and load factors while emphasizing industry-leading health and safety standards, world-class guest experiences and financial prudence.
Ships that operated the Group's core winter itineraries in the fourth quarter achieved a load factor of 65%. Core itineraries exclude sailings during the early ramp-up period of up to four weeks and exclude new itineraries implemented during the COVID period. Fourth quarter total load factor was 59%. Total revenue per Passenger Cruise Day in the fourth quarter was up 10% versus record 2019 levels driven by strong onboard revenue performance. Despite the impact from Omicron, total cash flow from ships in operation turned positive in the fourth quarter.
"While 2021 was another challenging year financially, we finished the year in a stronger position than at the beginning and made great progress toward our recovery," said Naftali Holtz, chief financial officer. "We are also immensely grateful for the incredible hard work and determination of our teams that made our return to sailing possible."
Continued Fleet Ramp-up
Due to the impact from the Omicron variant, the company experienced some service disruptions and cancelled several sailings in Q1 2022. Service disruptions have recently abated as COVID cases have declined. Despite these service disruptions and cancellations, the overall trajectory of the return to service remains unchanged. By the end of the first quarter of 2022, the Group expects that 53 out of 62 ships will have been brought back to service, with the rest of the fleet returning to operations before the summer season. Wonder of the Seas was delivered in January 2022 and expanded the Group's fleet size to 62 ships. Australia is anticipated to open for cruising for its summer season. China remains closed, and the company has redeployed ships planned for China to other core markets for the time being to capitalize on strong pent-up demand, while it remains optimistic to capture long-term growth opportunities in that market.
First quarter load factors are expected to be lower than initially anticipated due to the Omicron impact on bookings and cancellations, particularly on January sailings. As such, the Group anticipates load factors on core itineraries of approximately 60% during the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 with sequential monthly improvement. The company anticipates approximately 7.7 million Average Passenger Cruise Days (APCD) for the first quarter. The Group expects total cash flow from ships in operation in the first quarter to be positive.
Update on Bookings
The travel industry has experienced significant short-term disruptions due to the Omicron variant. Such disruptions intensified during the holiday season and in early January, with the spread of the variant, and impacted the company's cancellations and bookings for near-term sailings.
Load factors for sailings in the first half of 2022 are expected to remain below historical levels, consistent with the company's return to service schedule, which includes the impact from Omicron. Load factors for sailings in the second half of 2022 continue to be booked within historical ranges, at higher prices with and without FCCs.
"Following a record U.S. black Friday and cyber weekend, the spread of the Omicron variant resulted in a softening in booking volumes and an increase in near-term cancellations," said Holtz. "Similar to our experience following Delta, we expect bookings to materially increase as we get further beyond the peak of cases. We are already seeing cancellations subside and bookings improve to pre-Omicron levels, and we have adjusted our sales and marketing efforts in anticipation of a delayed and extended WAVE period."
The company is excited about the introduction in 2022 of two new ships, Wonder of the Seas and Celebrity Beyond. These new ships add to the six new ships that joined the fleet over the last 20 months and are expected to be important contributors to yield growth and profitability.
As of December 31, 2021, the company had approximately $3.2 billion in customer deposits. This represents an improvement of about $400 million over the previous quarter despite the significant quarter-over-quarter increase in revenue recognition and near-term cancellations due to Omicron, both of which reduce the customer deposits balance. The customer deposit balance at year-end for Q2 2022 forward sailings was higher than the balance held at the end of 2019 for Q2 2022 forward sailings. Approximately 32% of the customer deposit balance is related to FCCs compared to 35% in the prior quarter, a positive trend indicating new demand.
Liquidity and Financing Arrangements
As of December 31, 2021, the company's liquidity was $3.5 billion, which includes cash and cash equivalents, undrawn revolving credit facility capacity, and a $0.7 billion commitment for a 364-day term loan facility. This excludes proceeds from the $1 billion unsecured bond offering completed January 7, 2022.
During 2021, the company re-established access to unsecured markets and refinanced $2.3 billion of secured and/or guaranteed debt, in some instances reducing the coupon by up to 600 bps.
"We remain focused on our disciplined approach to capital allocation and returning to profitability. Our liquidity position remains strong as we execute on our return to service. We continue to take actions to improve our balance sheet, address near-term maturities and reduce interest expense," said Holtz.
In January 2022, the Group issued $1 billion of 5.375% senior unsecured notes due 2027. The company is planning to use the proceeds from the offering to repay principal payments on debt maturing in 2022.
As of the date of this release, there are $2.3 billion in scheduled debt maturities for 2022.
Net interest expense for the first quarter of 2022 is expected to be in the range of $270-275 million.
During the fourth quarter, the Group amended its $7.3 billion of outstanding export credit agencies (ECAs) financing plus its committed ECA facilities to reset covenant levels for 2023 and 2024, following a waiver period through the end of 2022.
Bunker pricing net of hedging for the fourth quarter was $549 per metric ton and consumption was 303,000 metric tons.
As of December 31, 2021, the company had hedged approximately 54% and 15% of its total projected metric tons of fuel consumption for all of 2022 and 2023, respectively. For all of 2022 and 2023, the annual average cost per metric ton of the fuel swap portfolio is approximately $490, and $515, respectively.
Based on current fuel prices, the company expects approximately $206 million of fuel expense in its first quarter 2022 at an average pricing of $615 per metric ton net of hedging.
The expected capital expenditures for 2022 are $3.1 billion. These expenditures are mainly driven by newbuild projects that have committed financing. Depreciation and amortization expenses for the first quarter of 2022 are expected to be in the range of $335-340 million.
Conference Call Scheduled
The Company has scheduled a conference call at 10 a.m. Eastern Time today. This call can be heard, either live or on a delayed basis, on the Company's investor relations website at www.rclinvestor.com.
Definitions: Selected Operational and Financial Metrics
Adjusted Loss per Share ("Adjusted EPS")
Represents Adjusted Net Loss attributable to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (as defined below) divided by weighted average shares outstanding or by diluted weighted average shares outstanding, as applicable. We believe that this non-GAAP measure is meaningful when assessing our performance on a comparative basis.
Adjusted Net Loss Attributable to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Represents net loss less net income attributable to noncontrolling interest excluding certain items that we believe adjusting for is meaningful when assessing our performance on a comparative basis. For the periods presented, these items included (i) loss on the extinguishment of debt; (ii) the amortization of non-cash debt discount on our convertible notes; (iii) the estimated cash refund expected to be paid to Pullmantur guests and other expenses incurred as part of the Pullmantur S.A. reorganization; (iv) impairment and credit losses recognized as a result of the impact of COVID-19; (v) equity investment asset impairments; (vi) net insurance recoveries related to the collapse of the drydock structure at the Grand Bahama Shipyard involving Oasis of the Seas; (vii) restructuring charges incurred in relation to the reduction in our U.S. workforce and other initiative expenses; (viii) the change in the fair value in the Silversea Cruises contingent consideration and the amortization of the Silversea Cruises intangible assets resulting from our acquisition of a 66.7% interest in Silversea Cruises in 2018; (ix) the noncontrolling interest adjustment to exclude the impact of the contractual accretion requirements associated with the put option held by Heritage Cruise Holding Ltd. (previously known as Silversea Cruises Group Ltd.) noncontrolling interest in Silversea Cruises, which noncontrolling interest we acquired on July 9, 2020; (x) the net gain recognized in the first quarter of 2021 in relation to the sale of the Azamara brand; (xi) currency translation losses recognized during the second quarter of 2020 in connection with the ships classified as assets held-for-sale that were previously chartered to Pullmantur; and (xii) the net loss recognized in the fourth quarter of 2021 related to the elimination of the three-month reporting lag for Silversea Cruises.
Available Passenger Cruise Days ("APCD")
APCD is our measurement of capacity and represents double occupancy per cabin multiplied by the number of cruise days for the period, which excludes canceled cruise days and cabins not available for sale. We use this measure to perform capacity and rate analysis to identify our main non-capacity drivers that cause our cruise revenue and expenses to vary.
Occupancy ("Load factor")
In accordance with cruise vacation industry practice, occupancy is calculated by dividing Passenger Cruise Days (as defined below) by APCD. A percentage in excess of 100% indicates that three or more passengers occupied some cabins.
Passenger Cruise Days
Passenger Cruise Days represent the number of passengers carried for the period multiplied by the number of days of their respective cruises.
For additional information see "Adjusted Measures of Financial Performance" below.
About Royal Caribbean Group
Royal Caribbean Group (NYSE: RCL) is one of the leading cruise companies in the world with a global fleet of 61 ships traveling to more than 800 destinations around the world. Royal Caribbean Group is the owner and operator of three award winning cruise brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises and it is also a 50% owner of a joint venture that operates TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Together, the brands have an additional 12 ships on order as of December 31, 2021. Learn more at www.royalcaribbeangroup.com or www.rclinvestor.com.
Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements in this press release relating to, among other things, our future performance estimates, forecasts and projections constitute forward-looking statements under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding revenues, costs and financial results for 2022 and beyond. Words such as "anticipate," "believe," "could," "driving," "estimate," "expect," "goal," "intend," "may," "plan," "project," "seek," "should," "will," "would," "considering," and similar expressions are intended to help identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements reflect management's current expectations, are based on judgments, are inherently uncertain and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, which could cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from the future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied in those forward-looking statements. Examples of these risks, uncertainties and other factors include, but are not limited to, the impact of COVID-19 and other contagious illnesses on economic conditions, industries and societies generally, the travel industry and the financial position and operating results of our Company; required or voluntary travel restrictions, including current and potential suspensions of cruises; guest cancellations; the pace and effectiveness of our return to service; the impact of state regulation and litigation regarding proof of passenger vaccination; our ability to obtain sufficient financing, capital or revenues to satisfy liquidity needs, capital expenditures, debt repayments and other financing needs; the effectiveness of the actions we have taken to improve and address our liquidity needs; the impact of the economic and geopolitical environment on key aspects of our business, such as the demand for cruises, passenger spending and operating costs; supply chain disruptions; incidents or adverse publicity concerning our ships, port facilities, land destinations and/or passengers or the cruise vacation industry in general; concerns over safety, health and security of guests and crew; the cost and effectiveness of our safety protocols relating to COVID-19; impairments of our goodwill, long-lived assets, equity investments and notes receivable; difficulties sourcing crew, provisions and supplies; the occurrence of COVID-19 and other contagious diseases on our ships and concerns about the risk of illness when traveling to, on or from our ships; unavailability of ports of call; growing anti-tourism sentiments and environmental concerns; changes in U.S. foreign travel policy; uncertainties relating to conducting business internationally and expanding into new markets and new ventures; our ability to recruit, develop and retain high quality personnel; changes in operating and financing costs; the impact of our current and future indebtedness; the impact of foreign currency exchange rates, inflation and interest rate and fuel price fluctuations; labor shortages; the impact of conversions of our convertible notes, if any, in shares of our common stock or a combination of cash and shares of our common stock; our expectation that we will not declare or pay dividends on our common stock for the foreseeable future; vacation industry competition and changes in industry capacity and overcapacity; the risks and costs related to cyber security attacks, data breaches, protecting our systems and maintaining data security and integrity, as well as personal data of our guests, employees and others; the impact of new or changing legislation and regulations or governmental orders on our business; pending or threatened litigation, investigations and enforcement actions; the effects of weather, natural disasters and seasonality on our business; emergency ship repairs, including the related lost revenue; the impact of issues at shipyards, including ship delivery delays, ship cancellations or ship construction cost increases; shipyard unavailability; the unavailability or cost of air service; and uncertainties of a foreign legal system as we are not incorporated in the United States.
In addition, many of these risks and uncertainties are heightened and will continue to be heightened, or in the future may be heightened, by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not possible to predict or identify all such risks.
More information about factors that could affect our operating results is included under the caption "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in our most recent annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly report on Form 10-Q, as well as our other filings with the SEC, copies of which may be obtained by visiting our Investor Relations website at www.rclinvestor.com or the SEC's website at www.sec.gov. Undue reliance should not be placed on the forward-looking statements, which are based on information available to us on the date hereof. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Adjusted Measures of Financial Performance
This press release includes certain adjusted financial measures defined as non-GAAP financial measures under Securities and Exchange Commission rules, which we believe provide useful information to investors as a supplement to our consolidated financial statements, which are prepared and presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, or US GAAP.
The presentation of adjusted financial information is not intended to be considered in isolation or as a substitute for, or superior to, the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with US GAAP. These measures may be different from adjusted measures used by other companies. In addition, these adjusted measures are not based on any comprehensive set of accounting rules or principles. Adjusted measures have limitations in that they do not reflect all of the amounts associated with our results of operations as do the corresponding US GAAP measures.
A reconciliation to the most comparable US GAAP measure of all adjusted financial measures included in this press release can be found in the tables included at the end of this press release.
Evan Dyer | CBC News | August 3 2021.
While foreign arrivals in Cuba have crashed this year, no other nationality has stayed away as much as Canadians, according to Cuban government statistics.
Overall visits are down about 95 per cent compared to 2019, but Canadian visits have plunged by 99.5 per cent. (Russia, by contrast, actually sent more visitors in 2021.)
That is hugely damaging to Cuba's economy, because (in normal years) far more Canadians enter and leave Cuba than citizens of any other country — including Cuba itself.
On January 1 2021, Cuba — like many countries — introduced new rules requiring all visitors to produce a negative PCR test for COVID-19 before travel.
Cuba is an island and few of its impoverished citizens can afford to leave it. Foreign visitors are its main source of vulnerability when it comes to COVID.
But just a few days later, Cuba removed the testing requirement exclusively for Canadian visitors.
It wasn't because Canada's COVID risk was lower. In fact, the rules were relaxed just as Canada was approaching peak caseload for the entire pandemic up to that point — about 8,000 new cases a day. (It's just a few hundred per day now.)
Cuba avoided the worst of the pandemic through 2020. That changed in 2021; Cuba reported just 169 new cases on January 1, 2021, but was recording over 1,000 new daily cases by February 1.
The Cuban government also offered PCR tests to Canadians returning home at about one-tenth of the price one would expect to pay in Canada, the U.S. or Mexico.
Some Canadians remained so eager to visit Cuba they sought to extend the Atlantic bubble to include the Caribbean island — by travelling from Halifax to Cayo Coco to stay in a Canadians-only hotel at a time when Nova Scotia was requiring most Canadians looking to visit the province to apply for government permission.
The army and the resorts
In December 2019, just before COVID hit, Cuban President Raul Castro named Manuel Marrero Cruz as Cuba's first prime minister in over 30 years.
The last person to hold the post had been Fidel Castro himself, who left it to become president. The appointment of the long-serving minister of tourism demonstrated the vital importance of hotels and resorts to Cuba's economy.
Other than tourism, there is little Cuba has to offer world markets in comparison to its needs. For every dollar it gains through exports, it spends five on imports. It looks to tourists to make up that yawning gap year after year.
Raul Castro, more than anyone else, is responsible for Cuba's modern resort industry. Seen by many Cubans as more pragmatic than his brother Fidel, Raul was in charge of the Revolutionary Armed Forces when Soviet aid to Cuba dried up.
He used the country's defence budget to branch out into tourism and other businesses, creating the nucleus of a business empire that today is the biggest player in the Cuban economy. Hotels went up around Cuba's western coast, although Cuba's own people were forbidden to visit them until 2008 (the same year the Cuban government dropped its ban on cellphones, computers and DVD players.)
A hotel empire led by a general
At the top of the military's hotel empire sits General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Calleja, father of two of Raul Castro's grandchildren and a member of Cuba's Politburo — a man some Cubans believe is the one really running the country alongside his father-in-law, using President Miguel Diaz-Canel as a replaceable public face.
Rodriguez Lopez-Calleja heads the armed forces' holding company GAESA, which runs a range of tourism, construction, banking, air and ground transport and retail businesses across the country, including the hotel chain Gaviota, which owns most of the four- and five-star hotel rooms in the country.
The Cuban state also owns Cuba's two other big chains, the Gran Caribe Hotel Group and Cubanacan, although both chains recently have been losing ground to the military's holding company.
The accounts of the chains, like those of all state enterprises in Cuba, are closed.
But the Cuban government has been very public about its intentions to build its economic future on tourism.
Cuba's current development plan foresees the construction of over 100,000 new hotel rooms by 2030, along with 24 new golf courses.
At the heart of the growth plan are GAESA and other companies owned by the armed forces. GAESA will spend over $15 billion on 121 hotel projects, twice as much as is expected to come from foreign investors and Cuba's civilian government combined.
The Cuban military is on track to own over 90,000 hotel rooms by 2030 — more rooms than currently exist in the entire Dominican Republic, the most hotel-rich country in the Caribbean.
And spending on new hotel and real estate ventures now far outstrips Cuba's shrinking budgets for health, education, agriculture and science combined.
Even as the pandemic gripped Cuba and tourism plunged, Cuba's Communist government was able to find Canadian partners. Blue Diamond Resorts, a company that already manages about 20 state-owned hotels in Cuba, went into business with the Cuban state again in August 2020 to open boutique hotel Mystique Casa Perla in Varadero.
Richard Feinberg of the University of California San Diego co-wrote a paper on Cuba's tourist industry for the Brookings Institution. He said foreign hotel chains typically have one of two types of arrangements with the Cuban state or military.
Hotels owned by the Ministry of Tourism, he said, often have foreign companies as junior partners (typically with a 49 per cent stake in the property, with Cuba holding the controlling share). Military-owned hotels, he said, more often belong entirely to the military's real estate company Almest S.A., and foreign partners merely have management contracts.
Low wages, 'captive' workforce
Workers are provided through an employment agency also controlled by GAESA/Gaviota. If a foreign company pays Gaviota $750 a month for the average base-salary worker, the worker would typically receive less than 10 per cent of that amount in salary. The rest goes to the Cuban military.
Cuban hotel workers take home only a tiny fraction of what their counterparts in Cancun or the Dominican Republic earn for similar work. Guest workers from India working on one hotel were paid ten times more than their Cuban peers.
Communist Party organs defended the pay difference by claiming that the productivity of Indian workers was "three or four times better" than the average Cuban's.
In addition, GAESA's construction projects benefit from the forced labour of military conscripts, such as those who dug the foundation beneath the new Hotel Prado y Malecon in Havana.
Felix Blanco points to another difference between Cuba's tourist industry and other Caribbean destinations: a captive workforce. While Mexican workers unsatisfied with their wages can leave and set up on their own, "my family in Cuba are not allowed to have their own business." A Cuban who leaves a $40/month job in the tourist sector will be lucky to earn $30/month in other sectors of the economy.
Tourism jobs are highly sought after, said Feinberg.
"Cubans leave their jobs as engineers, as medical professionals, as teachers, to work in those hotels," he told CBC News, "because that's where the salaries are better, the working conditions are better, and you have access to tips from international tourists."
No way around the military
Some tourists choose to avoid big hotels and resorts in Cuba, preferring private homes and B&Bs. Even then, it's hard for them to avoid enriching Cuba's military. It operates the banks through which tourists make credit card payments to individuals. It operates the stores that sell imported food and goods.
The Cuban military dominates hotel building in Havana and five years ago took over control of Habaguanex, the consortium that operates Old Havana's stores and restaurants, previously run by the city's official historian Eusebio Leal.
As U.S. hotel company Marriott discovered last year, it is virtually impossible to operate on the island today without enriching what is already the country's richest institution: the Revolutionary Armed Forces.
Opinions are divided on whether Canadian tourists might, by staying away, hasten the fall of Cuba's one-party state. Cuban-Canadians like Felix Blanco say they believe it would help.
Feinberg, meanwhile, said he's skeptical of "the idea that if we could only reduce the number of stays at these hotels we could somehow starve out and shrink the Cuban security apparatus."
The Cuban government would ensure that resources flow to that apparatus one way or another, he said.
What's not clear is where they would flow from. Cuba's increasing dependence on tourism has been acknowledged by President Miguel Diaz-Canel himself, who has called it "the locomotive of the Cuban economy" and once told national deputies that "what we have on a weekly basis to pay credits, to buy raw materials and to invest, comes from tourism."
Patrick Springer | Global Americans | February 4, 2022
This month, Cuban courts are packed with protesters who rose against their government last July in the largest protests the island has seen since the Cuban Revolution. The protesters, who are now accused of sedition and liable for decades-long sentences, called for greater freedoms, along with more access to food and other necessities. November 15, 2021, was supposed to be the opposition’s “second act,” demonstrating sustained discontent with the Diaz-Canel regime. Anticipating the demonstrations, the Cuban government quickly arrested dissidents, and even reportedly manipulated the price of chicken to prevent any organized gatherings. Crowds were notably missing from the streets of Cuba the day of the event.
November 15, coincidentally or not, was also the date that the country planned to reopen its doors to international visitors. From this date forward, vaccinated foreigners arriving in Cuba were granted admission without proof of a negative test or any mandatory quarantine. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism has been virtually non-existent on the island. The shortage of tourists was aggravated last year when the country took extreme measures to fight the Delta variant. Today, despite relatively low case counts of COVID-19, tourists still have not returned. Low tourism revenue was one of several factors that caused Cuba’s GDP to fall an alarming eleven percent in 2020.
Amidst the pandemic, the extent to which the Cuban economy depends on tourism has become more evident. With international visitor arrivals approximately a tenth of what they were in 2019, Cuba’s dependence on tourism presents the Diaz-Canel regime with a pressing challenge: Does Cuba reorient its economic activity to rely less on tourism? Or will Cuba double down on its tourism investment in the hopes that tourists come back? Either choice will create severe economic pressures for the Caribbean island state in an atmosphere of political strife.
The Tourist Drought
Cuba’s tourism industry has suffered immense losses due to the pandemic. While the first wave of COVID-19 largely spared Cuba, last year’s Delta variant caused hospitals to overcrowd, complicated vaccination efforts, and resulted in shortages of basic necessities. The overall decline in tourism has been staggering. Prior to the pandemic, Cuba received an average of four million annual international visitors. This figure has fallen to 254,922 visitors as of November 2021—just over a 93 percent decrease.
Pre-pandemic, Canadian and European tourists dominated the Cuban tourism market and frequented popular beach resort towns such as Varadero. Russian arrivals have recently reached their 2018 and 2019 levels. In contrast, Canadian and European arrivals still comprise only about three percent of their pre-pandemic numbers. Thus, while Russians have returned in the same numbers as before the pandemic, the tourism market is receiving only a tiny fraction of its primary customers.
The lack of tourists doesn’t only threaten the tourism sector. Cuba uses the revenues from tourism to manage currency values, subsidize food production, and import materials used in agriculture and manufacturing activities. In fact, Cuba spends five times the amount on imports of what it receives in exports. President Díaz-Canel commented on this practice, explaining that “what we have on a weekly basis to pay credits, to buy raw materials and to invest, comes from tourism.” However, a troubling statistic recently revealed that imports which aid in food production and manufacturing have fallen nearly 40 percent since the pandemic began. Due to the pandemic, tourism has ceased to be the “breadwinner” it once was for Cuba.
Aggravating the inability to pay for imports, other sectors of the economy have also grappled with unfavorable conditions the past few years. On top of the U.S.-Cuba tourism restrictions enacted by the Trump and Biden administrations, exports that typically substitute for tourism have become less lucrative. Exports in which Cuba has an advantage, such as sugar and nickel, have suffered from world price decreases, and other Cuban export commodities have suffered from decreased worldwide demand due to COVID-19. Lastly, this poor economic environment is accompanied by increased U.S. sanctions on remittances, and the Venezuelan economic crisis. These economic misfortunes underscore the severity and urgency of the tourism market’s downward turn.
To Hold or to Fold?
Will tourists return quickly enough to revive the Cuban economy? This is the urgent question facing Cuban policymakers at the moment. According to government estimates, the tourism market will not reach pre-pandemic levels until at least 2023 or 2024. With food shortages becoming more common and a decreasing ability to pay for necessities, the regime must decide between two paths: reorient the economy away from an over-reliance on tourism, or recommit to tourism and “wait out the storm” for the coming years.
A reorientation of the state economy could diversify the country’s exports and cut down on food imports. To realize this, Cuba could shift resources from the tourism sector into its underdeveloped agriculture sector. This shift would provide more food production at home. The government could also mitigate the losses associated with reorientation by increasing production of its more fruitful export commodities such as tobacco, sugar, rum, nickel, and zinc, hoping that demand for these commodities will improve with worldwide post-pandemic recovery. Lastly, the government could also refocus its efforts on medical technology and service exports, considering Cuba has the most physicians per capita in the world.
Despite these available alternatives, any shift away from tourism will be risky. First, the tourism market comprised 10.6 percent of Cuba’s pre-pandemic GDP. In comparison, exports of commodities only contributed 1.2 percent. Therefore, shifting away from tourism by replacing the industry with exports will prove to be an almost insurmountable challenge. Second, a loss of tourism revenues will decrease the ability to pay for food imports on the island. Reorientation may reduce or even erase any food surpluses attained by producing more food domestically. Lastly, an abandonment of tourism in favor of these alternatives will likely reduce Cuba’s contact with liberal democracies, notably Europe and Canada, and drive the country into closer economic ties with Nicaragua and Venezuela—allies that are willing to bolster the Cuban economy and food supply.
The choice to reorient the economy away from tourism would require confronting powerful interests within the Cuban state. While the Ministry of Tourism shares ownership with some of the larger, foreign hotel chains, and local bed and breakfasts owned by Cuban citizens are permitted, the Cuban military owns the lion’s share of hotel rooms on the island and profits from the industry.
Alternatively, a recommitment to the tourism sector will see Cuba maintain good relations with liberal democracies yet expose the economy to a risky economic gamble. The government is currently undertaking efforts to expand tourism capacity on the island and is looking at ways in which it can improve the industry. Continued government reinvestment could pay significant dividends should tourists come flooding back to the island. However, tourism investment will not yield what it did before the pandemic for at least the next few years, decreasing Cuba’s ability to pay for imports. In turn, this will leave Cubans hungry and reduce the government’s ability to repay its growing debt.
The Cuban government thus faces two unpleasant options. Reorientation away from tourism can increase domestic food production, diversify exports, and push the country closer to its undemocratic allies. Such a move may endanger food availability on the island, threaten vested interests within Cuba, and sour relationships with EU member countries and Canada. Recommitment to tourism would help maintain ties with liberal democracies and offer a return on investments should international visitors return in numbers not seen since before the pandemic. But this route would endanger both food availability and the economy as a whole should tourists fail to return. Whichever path the government chooses to take, the Cuban economy finds itself in its most vulnerable position since the fall of the Soviet Union. Undoubtedly, the next few years will prove difficult for the people of Cuba as they seek to revitalize their post-pandemic economy.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.