Tourists steer clear of Brazil, Russia, India and Nigeria because of onerous visa requirements, EM Squared reported last week. But even with easy tourist visas in place, these emerging market giants won’t reach their full potential. The real key lies in enhancing the ease of doing business and developing adequate infrastructure.

Visa policies are certainly a real barrier to tourist arrivals. No matter how beautiful or intriguing your country is as a tourist destination, if you make it too complicated for tourists to visit, they will stay away. That problem is not limited to emerging markets. A few years ago, US Travel Association estimated that the US lost the equivalent of 467,000 jobs due to the difficulty for citizens of primarily Brazil, India and China to obtain a visa. Read more

When the government finally defeated separatist Tamil guerrillas in 2009 – bringing an end to a 25-year civil war – tourists began to swarm back to Sri Lanka.

The government of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who lost power in an election this month, was eager to draw foreign visitors who provide valuable foreign exchange. And groups like Jetwing, the hotels-to-agency tourism group, have felt the benefits. Read more

China’s status as the world’s largest outbound tourism market is in the global spotlight this week after it announced an agreement with the US at the Apec summit to extend the validity of visas for tourists and students between the two countries.

Under the reciprocal agreement, tourists and business travellers between the US and China will now need to re-apply for entry visas just once every 10 years instead of annually under the prior arrangement. The duration of student visas will also be extended from one year to five years. Read more

On January 15, 2000, 23-year-old Dobrosav Gavric strode into the lobby of Belgrade’s InterContinental hotel, pulled out a Heckler and Koch submachine gun and unloaded it into Arkan, one of the most notorious warlords and gangsters in the Balkans.

Arkan – real name Zeljko Raznatovic – died in the arms of Ceca, his “turbo-folk” singer wife, the other half of the First Couple of Serbian nationalism. The assassination seemed to typify Serbia in the wake of the Yugoslav wars: lawless, shamelessly violent and ruled by extremist kleptocrats. Read more

Casa Gangotena in Quito: The view from your suite

With snowy Christmas and New Year holidays at hand, has the luxury traveller ever thought of escaping to Ecuador for some well-deserved indulgence?

Ecuador’s government said this year it would spend some $660m over the next four years to develop the tourism industry. But the sector is almost fully in the hands of private investors – and some jewels for the demanding world traveller are already in place. Read more

Egypt in numbers

A graphic look at Egypt's economy | Click to enlarge

With the military reoccupying centre stage in Egypt, what does this mean for democracy and the economy? Since the July ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, detentions have continued and more than 1,000 of his Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been killed. The FT’s special report on Egypt takes a hard look at the country’s political and economic future, writes Peter ChapmanRead more

We want one in China

Travel can certainly be an eye-opener.

Guo Guangchang, chairman of Fosun, China’s largest private conglomerate, had so much fun with his young family at the exclusive Atlantis resort in Dubai that he made a deal with developer Kerzner International to build his very own Atlantis resort back home in China – at a cost of $1.5bn. Read more

Egypt’s problems are not exactly unknown. The question for potential tourists is whether things are so bad they should stay away.

It seems many think they should. Arrivals in August plummeted 46 per cent compared with the same month in 2012. That’s the worst drop since March 2011, when the country had just desposed president Hosni Mubarak and was in disarray. Read more

These days, more and more Chinese love overseas tourism, not least for the shopping: luxury goods are far cheaper overseas than on the mainland.

So much in fact, that many Chinese overseas tours involve shopping stops so long that there is not enough time left to see sights other than the inside of shopping malls. Beijing has a solution to that problem – but there are knock-on effects. Read more

The Republic of Macedonia, which is hoping for a double-digit rise in its tourism sector this year will be pleased with news of swelling passenger numbers at the country’s two international airports.

In August, a key month for tourism in the former Yugoslav republic, Skopje’s Alexander the Great Airport saw 115,000 passengers through its gates, a 23 per cent jump on the same month last year, TAV Macedonia, the airports’ operator, said this week. Read more

On the face of it, yes. Figures from Turkey’s tourism ministry show that arrivals in June were up 4.9 per cent on the same month in 2012, far slower than the double-digit growth of 2013 to date.

But dig into the figures, and it’s a different story. Read more

Indians like to visit it too

The sharply depreciating rupee of recent weeks has caused trouble for India in areas such as the current account deficit and inflation.

But there is one industry that should benefit from the currency’s weaker status: tourism. Shouldn’t it? Read more

Travellers have long looked upon Mexico as mainly a “sol y playa” (sun and beach) destination.

But given a recent spate of hotel acquisitions over the past three months, that stereotype might need some revisiting. Mexico is no longer just for leisure travellers, it’s also becoming something of a business destination. Read more

Central Europe’s recent floods looked dreadful on television. And they will have scarred the memories of the people who were hit the hardest. But the economic effects will be limited thanks to the solid defences put in place since the last flood a decade ago.

So says Erste Bank, which argues that while the floods were similar in scale to those of 2002, the costs for Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, will be a small fraction of 2002′s €6bn. Read more

Abu Dhabi , Rocco Forte HotelDelays to ambitious tourist developments in the UAE capital city have left hospitality groups battling with serious oversupply, writes Camilla HallRead more

What’s in a star anyway? China’s economy hotel chains are booming, gaining ground at the expense of star-rated hotels.

They are pushing out 2- and 3-star hotels; but at the top of the market 5-star properties are still growing fast, creating a polarised market. Chart of the week takes a look at the numbers, which show a sector undergoing dramatic shifts. Read more

A dash of good news from Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city: construction work on a Hilton hotel is due to begin in October. With a cloud of political uncertainty hanging over the country and in the midst of a messy “indigenisation” of foreign businesses, it’s a pretty bold move.

The Hilton will need some contingency plans, given the chronic water shortages and power cuts that plague the country. It may find it harder to deal with low occupancy rates across Zimbabwe. Read more

It is no secret that many multinational companies avoid Belarus because of the unfavourable reputation of the country’s authorities and western sanctions against them. But this, apparently, does not apply to the hotel business. Several big name hotel brands are springing up around the capital, Minsk. Read more

The Czech authorities have declared a national emergency following days of heavy rains that have left up to five people dead and several towns in the south and west of the country under water.

A rising tide of milky-coffee-coloured water in the River Vltava is threatening to spill over into the historic centre of the capital Prague and tourism officials are already beginning to estimate the potential losses to a washed out season. Read more

If there is a slowdown in Brazil, George Fertitta is not seeing it.

As the head of NYC & Company, New York City’s official tourism board, Fertitta has witnessed the meteoric rise of Brazilian visitors to the Big Apple. Last year, Brazil became the second most important overseas market for the city after the UK: 826,000 Brazilians came to visit, compared with 112,000 in 2006.

“We have never seen anything like it,” said Fertitta. “We have had big surges in visitors from Ireland but the surge from Brazil is unique in scale.”

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