Weekly roundup of news from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean region, First edition September 2013

AVIATION, TOURISM AND CONSERVATION NEWS from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.

A weekly roundup of breaking news, reports, travel stories and opinions by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome

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First edition September 2013

GOOD SAFARI GUIDE RELEASES LISTINGS OF FINALISTS FOR 2014

(Posted 31st August 2013)

An extensive listing of nominees for the next round of the ‘Good Safari Guide’ awards is now out with lots of familiar names as well as new ones seeking to have their fame spread among those ever keen to find the best Africa has to offer. Leading by numbers of nominations are as expected Kenya, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with home boys Uganda only able to field two candidates, the Apoka Safari Lodge – located in CNN’s top rated Kidepo Valley National Park – and Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge in Nkuringo / Bwindi. From neighbouring Rwanda only the Virunga Safari Lodge made it into the nomination ranks.

The full listing is shown below, allowing friends, supporters and aficionados of bespoke safari experiences to vote for their personal favourites:

The Good Safari Guide has sponsored these awards since inception in 1998. If you have experienced any of these safari lodges, camps and operators first hand, and wish to share your knowledge with us, we would be grateful if you could click on the name of the safari property or operator below and you will be taken to their voting/rating page at www.safariawards.com.

African Horseback Safaris
Duba Plains Camp
Kanana Camp
Karibu Safari
Letaka Safaris
Motswiri Camp
Okavango Horse Safaris
Sanctuary Stanley’s Camp
Selinda Camp
Selinda Canoe Trail
Selinda Explorers Camp
Zarafa Camp

Alfajiri Villas
Borana Lodge
Camp Tsavo
Chui Lodge
Cottar’s 1920’s Safari Camp
Delta Dunes Lodge
Driftwood Beach Club
Elephant Bedroom Camp
Encounter Mara Camp
Karen Blixen Camp
Karisia Walking Safaris
Keekorok Lodge
Kiangazi Safari House
Kicheche Laikipia Camp
Kicheche Valley
Kinondo Kwetu
Kipalo Camp
Lake Naivasha Country Club
Lion in the Sun
Mara Bushtops
Mara Explorer Luxury Tented Camp
Mara Intrepids
Mara Ngenche Tented Camp
Mara Plains Camp
Mara Toto Camp
Mara West Camp
Naibor Camp
Nigel Archer Safaris
Offbeat Riding Safaris
Ol Donyo Lodge
Ol Malo
Ol Seki Mara Camp
Porini Amboseli Camp
Richard’s Camp
Ride Kenya
Sabuk Lodge
Samburu Intrepids Camp
Sarara Tented Camp
Serian
Severin Safari Camp
Sirikoi Lodge
Sosian, Laikipia
Tassia Lodge
The Emakoko
The Funzi Keys
The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille
Tijara Beach

Kaya Mawa
Ndomo House

Azura at Quilalea
Azura Benguerra
Ibo Island Lodge
Londo Lodge
Lugenda Wilderness Camp
Machangulo Beach Lodge
Nuarro Luxury Eco Lodge
Vamizi Island

Okahirongo River Camp
The Mushara Lodge
Ultimate Safaris
Wolwedans Dunes Lodge

Virunga Safari Lodge

Amakhosi Safari Lodge
Ant’s Hill
Ant’s Nest
Bakubung Bush Lodge
Bartholomeus Klip
Chitwa House
Chitwa Private Game Lodge
Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway
De Zeekoe Guest Farm
Duma Manzi Eco Lodge & Spa
Etali Safari Lodge
Gondwana Game Reserve-Kwena Lodge
Gorah Elephant Camp
Grootbos Forest Lodge
Hamiltons Tented Camp
Horizon Horseback Adventures
Ichobezi Safari Boats
Inyati Game Lodge
Jamala Madikwe
Jembisa Bush Home
Karkloof Safari Spa
Kuzuko Lodge
Kwandwe Ecca Lodge
Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge
Kwandwe Melton Manor
Kwandwe Uplands Homestead
Leobo Private Reserve
Limpopo Horse Safaris
Mabula Game Lodge
Mateya Safari Lodge
Molori Safari Lodge
Morukuru Family
Pondoro Game Lodge
Pumba Private Game Reserve & Spa
Royal Malewane
Three Trees at Spioenkop
Wait a Little Horse Safaris

Asanja Africa
Baraza Resort and Spa, Zanzibar
Beho Beho
Boutique Hotel Matlai, Zanzibar
Breezes Beach Club and Spa
Chem Chem Safari Lodge
Echo Beach Hotel
Eco Lodge Africa
Elewana Serengeti Migration Camp
Elewana Serengeti Pioneer Camp
Firelight Safaris
Fundu Lagoon
Gibb’s Farm
Greystoke Mahale
Kilindi Zanzibar
Lamai Serengeti
Lemala Ewanjan
Lemala Kuria Hills
Lemala Ngorongoro Luxury Camp
Machweo Wellness Retreat
Mbalageti Serengeti
Onsea House
Plantation Lodge
Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge
Sanctuary Kusini Camp
Sanctuary Swala Tented Camp
Selous Riverside Safari Camp
Serengeti Bushtops
Serian’s Serengeti North
Serian’s Serengeti South
Singita Faru Faru Lodge
Singita Sasakwa Lodge
Tarangire Safari Lodge
Tarangire Treetops
The African Tulip
The Manor at Ngorongoro
The Palms Zanzibar
The Retreat

Apoka Safari Lodge
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge

Chiawa Camp
Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust
Chongwe River Camp
Chongwe River House
Conservation Lower Zambezi
Kaingo Camp
Kapani Lodge
Lion Camp
Luangwa Safari House
Maramba River Lodge
Marula Lodge
McBrides Camp
Mchenja Bush Camp
Mwamba Bush Camp
Norman Carr Walking Safaris
Old Mondoro
Robin Pope Mobile Safaris
Royal Zambezi Lodge
Sanctuary Puku Ridge Camp
Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma
Sausage Tree Camp
Sindabezi Island
Tena Tena
Thornicroft Lodge
Tongabezi

Antelope Park
Bomani Tented Lodge
Bumi Hills Safari Lodge
C. Brightman – Vic. Falls Anti Poaching
Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge
Chundu Island Camp
Elephant Camp
Imbalala Zambezi Safari Lodge
Ivory Lodge – Amalinda Collection
Singita Pamushana

The Good Safari Guide is dedicated to consolidating and sharing the knowledge of those who have been on safari with others planning their adventure. If that sounds like you, we would be grateful for your opinions, thoughts and suggestions at www.goodsafariguide.com and we welcome you to our global community.

The Good Safari Guide and The Safari Awards are independent media faithfully reporting news and reviews from the safari industry worldwide.

DR. TALEB RIFAI RE-ELECTED AS UNWTO SECRETARY GENERAL

(Posted 29th August 2013)

The 20th UN World Tourism Organization’s General Assembly, which is ending today after being co-hosted by Victoria Falls and Livingstone, the twin towns across the Zambezi rivers, has yesterday re-elected Dr. Taleb Rifai for a second term of office for a further four years.

Dr. Rifai has championed the cause of advancing Africa’s tourism industry and been seen as instrumental in developing mechanisms and plans to have the African continent claim a fairer share of global travel movements, which while in excess of 1 billion last year only saw some 53 million travellers, or a meager 5 percent, generated for Africa. Dr. Rifai is also credited for bringing the 2013 General Assembly meeting to Africa where Zambia and Zimbabwe co-hosted the meetings, producing some added focus on Africa’s tourism attractions.

While the UNWTO is expected to release a full documentation about the meetings’ agenda, discussions and resolutions made, notably did two announcements important for Africa come out at the earlier stage of the event. Mrs. Elsia Grandcourt, immediate former CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, was appointed as the UNWTO Regional Director for Africa followed by the election of Mr. Alain St. Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture, to the UNWTO Executive Committee.

Congratulations to Dr. Rifai on his re-election for another term of office and again to the Seychelles delegation for their success in securing the two positions.

UNWTO MEETS IN ZAM / ZIM AS GLOBAL TRAVEL DATA POINT UPWARDS

(Posted 27th August 2013)

As the 20th General Assembly today moves from the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe to the twin town of Livingstone in Zambia, separated by the mighty Victoria Falls of the Zambezi River, news have emerged that global travel, compared to 2012, has risen during the first six months by an unexpected 5 percent, ahead of forecasts and by some seen as a brilliant performance considering the ongoing economic woes in key markets around the world.

Details provided by UNWTO to this correspondent show the following breakdown vis a vis global regions:

International tourist arrivals grew by 5% during the first half of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012, reaching almost 500 million, according to data just released by UNWTO. Growth was above the projection made at the beginning of the year (+3% to +4%) and is also exceeding the trend of the UNWTO long-term outlook Tourism Towards 2030 (+3.8% a year).

Destinations around the world welcomed an estimated 494 million overnight visitors in the first six months of 2013, according to the Advance Edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer released on the occasion of the UNWTO 20th General Assembly. This represents an increase of 5% or an additional 25 million international tourists compared to the same period of 2012. Growth was stronger in emerging economy destinations (+6%) than in advanced economies (+4%), a trend which has marked the sector for many years now.

The fact that international tourism grew above expectations confirms that travelling is now part of consumer patterns for an increasing number of people in both emerging and advanced economie‘ said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai before adding: ‘This underlines the need to rightly place tourism as one of the key pillars of socio-economic development, being a leading contributor to economic growth, exports and jobs’.

In a still uneven global economic environment, results were positive in all regions and subregions, though the overall picture was mixed. Europe (+5%) performed surprisingly stronger than expected, driven by Central and Eastern Europe (+10%) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%). Asia and the Pacific (+6%) also exceeded expectations, boosted by South-East Asia (+12%) and South Asia (+7%). On the other hand, results were weaker than anticipated in the Americas (+2%), as South America and the Caribbean lagged behind.

The first semester normally accounts for some 45% of the total arrivals count of the year (the Northern hemisphere high season months of July and August fall into the second semester). Growth is expected to continue in the second half of 2013 but at a gradually slower pace. UNWTO forecasts 2013 to end at 4% or slightly above, thus exceeding the initial estimate for the year.


Asia and the Pacific and Europe lead

Asia and the Pacific (+6%) saw robust growth boosted by the increase in arrivals to South-East Asia (+12%), a subregion which is maintaining the extraordinary momentum of recent years, and South Asia (+7%).

In Europe, international tourist arrivals were up 5% despite the lingering economic difficulties. Growth was led by Central and Eastern Europe (+10%) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%).

The Americas (+2%) reported a rather weaker first half of 2013 compared to the strong growth of previous years. Central America (+4%) performed above the region’s average, while arrival numbers were flat in the Caribbean and in South America.

In Africa (+4%), the growth of recent years was sustained during the first half of 2013 due to the continued recovery of North Africa (+4%) and the positive results of Sub-Saharan destinations (+4%).

The Middle East rebounded after two years of negative growth with an estimated increase in international arrivals of 13%. Yet, results should be taken with caution as growth is rather uneven across destinations and this assessment is based on still limited available data and reflects data up to June only.


Tourism expenditure growth driven by emerging economies

Emerging economy outbound markets continue to drive growth both to emerging and advanced economy destinations.

China (+31%) and Russia (+22%) led the growth in expenditure on travel abroad among the top ten most important source markets in the world during the first half of 2013. Outside the top ten, Brazil is back with a 15% increase after a more moderate 2012.

Expenditure from traditional markets, on the other hand, was more modest. Canada (+3%) and France (+2%) led the group, followed by the flat results of the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, and negative figures from Japan, Australia and Italy.

Good news for Africa which reported a 4 percent growth in the first half of the year though analysts expect this to be severely impacted upon by the current wave of unrest in Egypt, one of Africa’s tourism powerhouses, which has led to wide spread cancellations of bookings, not just for the capital Cairo where the National Museum is located as are the Pyramids and the Sphinx, as well as for Nile cruises starting or ending in Cairo, but more important for the hitherto less affected beach resorts in and around Sharm el Sheikh.

Watch this space for regular updates on economic performances of the tourism industry, around the world, in Africa and especially in Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.

East Africa News

PRESIDENTS AFFIRM NEW TRAVEL REGIME FOR JANUARY 2014

(Posted 30th August 2013)

Host president Uhuru Kenyatta and his guests from Uganda and Rwanda, presidents Museveni and Kagame, at the just concluded Mombasa summit reaffirmed their decision to allow travel among the three countries for their citizens by using national ID cards from January next year, with all modalities to be in place by mid October this year. Progress will be reviewed it is understood when the next tripartite summit will take place in Kigali in two months time. The implementation plans also include the introduction of a regional Visa for tourists from overseas, who, should they opt for this, will have to pay 100 US Dollars as opposed to 50 US Dollars for a single country entry Visa as is the case at present.

It was not immediately clear though if expatriates duly registered with work permits or long term or lifelong residence permits in any of the three countries too will be exempted from having to pay for Visa when for instance entering Kenya from Uganda, or vice versa. If confirmed the new regime would be beneficial for in particular the coastal resorts in Kenya as a family of four could save up to 200 US Dollars in Visa fees, adding to spending money and drawing travelers away from Visa free destinations like the UAE or South Africa in favour of traveling in the region and spending local vacations nearer to home.

Overall was the move immediately applauded by the business community in the three member states of the East African Community, not just for the decision itself but for the courage, finally, to go tripartite and move ahead and leave those opposed to all and sundry proposals to move the integration of the community to follow at their own pace or else stay behind forever. Travel organizations too have expressed their delight to reduce travel documentation requirements from passport level to ID level, as it will allow more people to do trips across the region, by bus or air, as they can afford. Watch this space for future updates from what the next summit in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital will bring and how the implementation of these decisions is advancing.

MOMBASA INFRASTRUCTURE SUMMIT EXPOSES GROWING RIFT IN EAC

(Posted 28th August 2013)

A growing coalition of the willing is emerging in Eastern Africa, following a first Head of State Infrastructure Summit a few weeks ago in Uganda, where President Yoweri Museveni hosted his counterparts from Kenya and Rwanda. During this summit key decisions were taken, such as to link East Africa’s most important Indian Ocean port of Mombasa with the hinterland through a new standard gauge railway, connecting the port with Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali. It was also agreed to base Rwandan and Ugandan revenue authority personnel at the Mombasa port to effectively bundle cargo clearances for the recipient countries at the port on landing the goods, to cut down on red tape and in particular the excessive time it takes to have cargo reach the final destinations. (It was recently reported here that RVR trains now in average take 8 days from Mombasa to Kampala, with the best ever time reduced to 4 days, but that an added 14 days are needed to clear the cargo from the port, at waypoints and the border points and at the final destination)

The summit in Entebbe also agreed to start using national ID cards to allow citizens cross national borders between the three countries from early 2014 and to fast track a common tourist Visa at a cost of 100 US Dollars to encourage foreign tourists visit more than one country in the region. (The EAC common tourist Visa has been delayed endlessly in the past over objections from in particular one member state)

The second such summit is today going underway in Mombasa at the Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa, and notably have Burundi and South Sudan joined the meeting, now dubbed ‘The Summit of the Willing’ to take advantage of new infrastructure developments opening up the region and benefitting themselves through easier port access, reduced cost of imports and exportation of produce and minerals and to jump on to the band wagon before it is too late. By the look of it though it will be Tanzania left out once more, showing the utter frustration of other EAC partners over the continued imposition of non tariff barriers, expulsion of their citizens – thousands of Rwandans living allegedly illegally in Tanzania have of late been driven across the border back into Rwanda – and ongoing issues on cross border trade and tourism, work and residence permits and a range of other contentious issues.

If Kikwete does not turn up in Mombasa, and by the look of it and going by media reports he is not going to be there, it will be 4 EAC member states and one applicant state [South
Sudan has formally applied to join the regional block] driving their own agenda and fast tracking projects and cooperation between them on a multilateral basis. This is perhaps the last chance for Tanzania to take stock and come to terms with the momentum gathering speed among the other four members. There is a mood one can sense that if things cannot move under the EAC umbrella, then bilateral, trilateral or multilateral agreements among those countries willing to move forward on the fast track will be signed and implemented.

Dar then can either join and make it official EAC business or stay outside but at their own loss. It should be noted that being absent will greatly impact on their own regional infrastructure projects. The Tanga to Musoma railway was to be a second link to Uganda and the Isaka to Kigali section of a new upgraded railway was to link Kigali and then Bujumbura and Eastern Congo. If the five now meeting in Mombasa however agree that they rather throw their support and money behind the Kenyan rail corridor to South Sudan and into Uganda and beyond, those projects in Tanzania are dead in the water. Kikwete’s undiplomatic outburst that Rwanda should negotiate with terrorists and groups committed to the return of perpetrators of the genocide was just the final icing on the cake really. He completely misjudged the impact of his utterances versus Rwanda’s security needs and their relentless pursuit of genocide killers and the reaction it would bring as far as Uganda. Now there are clear signals of a shift of the infrastructure centre to Kenya. President Kenyatta secured huge loans and grants from China during his visit and there is no doubt that once Chinese companies break ground for the new railway, that it is going to progress until it is finished. Look at the Thika super highway. A few years ago people doubted it would ever be there. Now it is and so will the railway in a few years time. Personally I see a watershed coming up for the EAC and the November summit will maybe give some glimpse into the future where the block is heading’ wrote a Kenya based source.

The heads of state will also be part of a commissioning ceremony later today at the port of Mombasa where a new berth for containerships will be launched by President Kenyatta. Further port facility expansion has already been agreed to, in addition to constructing the new port of Lamu which, through LAPSSET, will be the main entry and exit point for cargo to South Sudan and Ethiopia, both of which will be linked by rail and highway. South Sudan in fact is intent to build a new pipeline to Lamu to create a secure outlet for oil exports.

The winds of positive change and new hope are clearly blowing across the Eastern African region now and time will tell if all the member states, with the wind in their back, will accelerate economic integration and cooperation or if not one may be blown away while attempting to stand still. Watch this space.

EAC RATTLED BY LATEST TANZANIAN NON TARIFF BARRIER SHENANIGANS

(Posted 25th August 2013)

In what observers have described as a blatant act of unilateral retaliation for being left out of recent trilateral meetings between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda has Tanzania slapped a US Dollar 12.50 levy on Kenyan trucks at the border, once again showing complete and utter disregard for the spirit and the letter of the East African Community.

Though charged by the local authorities as a ‘transit fee’ and not a central government imposition, those who know how the United Republic of Tanzania works are all away that neither of the districts would have dared to impose such levies unless sanctioned from the highest level of the land.

Sources from Dar es Salaam confirmed the development and in mitigation claimed that Tanzanian transporters too are charged the same levy, which upon closer inspection however turned out to be a quarter of what Kenyan registered trucks have to pay.

Ugandan airlines wishing to fly into Tanzania too have in the past regularly complained that they are treated as foreign airlines, i.e. non EAC resident businesses when it comes to being subjected to a range of charges, which they claim it also against the spirit and the letter of the various protocols in place to facilitate regional cooperation and business integration.

The recent spat between Kigali and Dar es Salaam, following unfit utterances by President Kikwete about the conflict in Eastern Congo, where he demanded that the government in Kigali must negotiate with the killer militias largely responsible for many of the security incidents along the border, has led to a yet closer cooperation between Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya and recent announcements that travel between the three countries will be made easier for citizens being able to use ID cards, and the early introduction of a common foreign visitor tourist Visa valid in the three countries – until the remaining two members of the EAC finally get into gear and join the initiative – have marked a new challenge in the relations with Tanzania, which going by common consensus has arguably been the member state opposed to a range of measures aimed at improving trade, tourist exchanges and other protocol implementations.

Kikwete in the eyes of many political observers lacks charisma, the credentials and the vision of being a true Pan-Africanist and in the context closer to home a Regionalist and his current spat with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who in stark contrast is perceived around the world as a visionary and example of corruption free leadership, may reverberate into the next ordinary head of state meeting in Arusha later this year, impacting on a number of pending issues where consensus will be required to take the community forward. Added complications can be expected as a result of Tanzania, under SADC cover, injecting troops into Eastern Congo, especially as they had to eat humble pie earlier in the year when it became known that they had covertly met with a top FDLR militia leader – the very group sworn to the destruction of the new democratic Rwanda and to return the country once more to the extermination days of the genocide.

Back to the topic at hand though, the East African Community Secretariat has confirmed that a number of NTB’s remain in place inspite of formal agreements to remove them all and that in fact some countries, none named but still understood which one in particular, have added new NTB’s in violation of the EAC spirit.

Entry into national parks with vehicles registered in another member state are high on the agenda of hotly contested items, as are landings by EAC registered aircraft on park airstrips, besides the most contentious issue of the Bologonja border crossing, which Tanzania, under various pretexts including ‘environmental protection’ has kept closed for commercial tourist vehicles, though private individuals can cross subject to prior permission being requested.

Said a regular tourism source from Kampala: ‘Unless these issues are resolved, wananchi will remain skeptical about the EAC in the present format. Yes a lot has been done but we are miles away from what the old EAC had made possible. THAT should be our guiding light, to reach where things sadly ended in 1977. But this half here and half there is not conducive to integration. And we all know, a lot of reasons given is just hogwash, a smoke screen for being fundamentally undecided if they want to be in or out. At least let us go ahead with the common Visa between Rwanda and Kenya and us here in Uganda, the others can join when they see the benefits or have finally made up their mind. But let those willing no longer be held back and dragged down by others who are not in agreement. We shall not be sabotaged in our drive towards regional integration’. Harsh words but words which reflect a mood evident in most discussions when matters of the EAC are being talked about.

Said another regular contributor, admittedly of hotter temper than most: ‘The day may yet come when they are asked to leave and not hold everyone at ransom with those unspecified and in between the line threats they could leave. I can only say some better beware what they wish for’ before in haste seeking reassurance that no name would be given. Watch this space about future developments of the East African Community and how in particular tourism and aviation can either benefit or will be negatively affected by decision taken, or not taken.

Uganda News

UGANDA IN THE CENTRE OF THE NEXT FULL SOLAR ECLIPSE

(Posted 29th August 2013)

(Picture source: Wikipedia)

The November 03 total eclipse of the sun, a rare ‘hybrid eclipse’ will be best viewed from Uganda’s north east and tour operators are now gearing up, with less than 10 weeks to go, to make final arrangements for hotel bookings or, in some cases, secure suitable spaces for temporary tented camps.

A solar eclipse of this nature always draws plenty of star gazers on to locations where they have a vantage point, and Uganda in this case is certain to benefit from added visitor numbers coming to the country for this event.

Named last year by the Lonely Planet Guide as their global number one choice for visits, this year saw Uganda listed in National Geographic’s top ten countries while CNN has named Kidepo Valley National Park as their top choice of African national parks.

Visitors to Uganda, coming to see the eclipse on November 03rd, are likely to pass through the Murchisons Falls National Park enroute to Pakwach and into the West Nile area of Uganda, taking advantage of being in the country to see our gorillas, chimpanzees and plains game in the national parks providing a windfall of business opportunities for our licensed tour and safari operators.

While the Uganda Tourism Board is struggling to make hay of such events, no surprise considering that government’s cash allocation in past years has been progressively starving the country’s marketing body of funds and hampering its ability to put Uganda back into the wide world of tourism destinations with a big bang, individual tour and safari operators have used their own outlets and networks to make the solar eclipse more widely known and reportedly secured significant additional bookings.

Anyone still keen to come to Uganda and witness this rare hybrid solar eclipse should make prompt enquiries to any of the members of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators – a link to them can be found on the tourism board website www.visituganda.com – as space is getting tighter and will go at a premium if booked too late, if at all rooms will still be available as all inns are expected to hang out the sign ‘fully booked’. Welcome to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.

CAREER INSTITUTE GRADUATES MORE THAN 300

(Posted 27th August 2013)

The British Airways Uganda Country Manager Ms. Faith Chaitezvi was guest of honour last weekend when the Career Institute, one of Uganda’s leading private sector aviation and tourism training institutions, graduated over 300 students, awarding them a range of certificates and diplomas, including the coveted IATA course certificates.

The Career Institute is currently the only such institution recognized by IATA and therefore able to teach and examine students who wish to advance their careers in the travel agency, airline and cargo business.

Faith, when addressing the students at the function held at the Grand Imperial Hotel, said to them: ‘As graduates, you should realize that your responsibilities have gone a notch higher which comes with greater challenges. These challenges can only be addressed with a proactive mind, something that you may forget immediately you have received the certificates’ before going on to highlight the need for a positive attitude towards work that should be kept in mind if one was looking to succeed. She in particular said: ‘Many students despise small and petty jobs that come their way hoping to have bigger jobs in bigger offices, forgetting that the people in those offices started from somewhere’.

Institute Director Mrs. Vassy Rutagira is seen in the picture below looking on as Ms. Faith Chaitezvi is handing over course diplomas to graduates

5 WEEKS AND COUNTING TO KAMPALA’S BIG CITY FETE

(Posted 27th August 2013)

Kampaleans are counting down the weeks now, with just 5 weeks to go until the second Kampala City Festival will take place. Launched first a year ago in the run up to the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Independence from Britain in 1962, the ‘uptake’ and impact of the event had city planners and civil society immediately embark on preparing for a ‘Reload Version 2.0’ for 2013, and by the look of it and going by all accounts received from those involved in the preparation of the day long fete, there will be better things to come yet for the second edition of what is promising to become an annual event from now on in Kampala.

The city’s ‘Matron’, NO PUN INTENDED, Executive Director Jennifer Musisi, has been seen promoting the event and making public appearances with key players in the event, all gearing up towards the big day when the City of Kampala can showcase itself from the sunniest side for locals and visitors alike.

Nearer to the date will a full programme be published here with details on events, performers and locations across the city, so as usual, Watch This Space.

WORLD TOURISM DAY 2013 IS HEADING TO FORT PORTAL FOR NATIONAL CELEBRATION

(Posted 26th August 2013)

Uganda will this year hold the annual World Tourism Day celebrations on the 27th of September in the upcountry town of Fort Portal, itself a tourism destination. Seat of the Toro Kingdom, Fort Portal is located on the foot of the mighty Rwenzori Mountains, aka Mountains of the Moon – one of the 10 national parks found in Uganda.

In addition the Semliki – Toro Game Reserve is easily accessible as is the slightly more distant Semliki National Park. Kibale Forest National Park too is within reach to do day trips from Fort Portal and the crater lakes which dot the landscapes around Fort Portal have seen such posh resorts like the Ndali Lodge spring up and take root.

Tourism and Water – Protecting our Common Future’ is this year’s theme and relevant like few others for the Fort Portal area and the wider region around the Rwenzori Mountains, as they all depend on water sources originating inside the national park or from the higher up glacier fields.

Global warming already shows in Uganda. The glaciers have melted away and there are now several kilometres or rock fields climbers must cross before they get to the ice again. When the Italians climbed the mountains for the first time over 100 years ago, they left us with photographic evidence and records of the glaciers extent. Today it is a very different picture and unless we can halt global warming, there will be a big problem coming up for future generations’ said a regular source close to the tourism ministry in Kampala when confirming that the who is who in tourism will be heading to Fort Portal for the event.

IN MEMORIAM OF UWA’S LILLIAN NSUBUGA

(Posted 26th August 2013)

Uganda’s conservation, PR and journalist fraternity received shock news yesterday that Lillian Nsubuga, Public Relations Manager and official spokesperson at the Uganda Wildlife Authority, died on Sunday morning at Mulago Hospital after a short illness.

I met Lillian for the first time in what must have been 1994 at a function of the Rotary Club of Muyenga, when she was a stringer for the East African, and we kept in periodic contact until she joined the Uganda Wildlife Authority in 2004, taking charge of public and media relations.

Ever good for a fast response, full of facts and figures and her added interpretive comments, Lillian was not shy of giving as good as she got, but ultimately treasured friendship more than what for others would have been cold business.

Lillian only celebrated her 44th birthday on the 20th of August, i.e. less than a week ago and we were due to meet before the end of the month to discuss my recent article on my hike through Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and how I could perhaps write a series of similar articles on some of the lesser known and less visited parks in Uganda, equally highlighting their attractions off the beaten paths.

The Twitter and FB timelines were awash with condolences yesterday as her friends tried to come to terms with her sudden passing, premature to the extreme and cutting short a promising life of a professional woman who had greater things ahead of her in her career.

Uganda Wildlife Authority Executive Director Dr. Andrew Seguya, on behalf of the entire board, management and staff of UWA, made the formal announcement yesterday and also gave details on the memorial service and her burial at her parents farm along Gayazza Road.

Lillian will be missed by many from around the world, whom she interacted with over the past nearly 10 years since she joined UWA and will be sorely missed, as a friend and as a source of detailed information about all matters concerning conservation in general and UWA in particular. Rest in peace my friend and until we meet again.

Kenya News

KENYA AIRWAYS GEARS UP FOR NON STOP FLIGHTS TO GUANGZHOU

(Posted 29th August 2013)

When Kenya Airways takes delivery of their next brand new B777-300ER, expected in late October this year, the airline will from 19th of November onwards commence three nonstop flights from Nairobi to Guangzhou in China.

Presently does KQ fly daily to Guangzhou via Bangkok, and when the new nonstop flights are introduced the services via Bangkok will be reduced to four a week, still offering daily departures. The remaining three flights to Bangkok will according to a source close to Kenya Airways fly on to Hong Kong, which from early October will then see the discontinuation of the present alternative route via Dubai, leaving HKG with three flights a week.

The growing trade, investment and tourism ties between Kenya and China – intensified during the recent visit of President Uhuru Kenyatta to China – are credited for the sharply risen demand for seats between the two countries.

From Guangzhou does Kenya Airways offer onward flights with codeshare partner China Southern to any part of the Chinese mainland, while in turn China Southern has codeshared access to several of Kenya Airways’ routes beyond Nairobi. Meanwhile was it also reconfirmed that KQ will in addition to the brand new B777 also take delivery of two brand new Embraer E190 aircraft before the end of the year, boosting regional and continental capacity as more African destination are eyed and more frequencies added in the region to airport with growing demand. Watch this space.

SWAHILI BEACH GETS TUI AWARD FOR USE OF GREEN TECHNOLOGY

(Posted 29th August 2013)

The Diani Beach based Swahili Beach Hotel (www.swahilibeach.com) which last year received the accolade as Kenya’s Leading Beach Resort from the World Travel Awards, has just been recognized by the world’s largest tour operating conglomerate TUI as ‘Champion of the Environment’.

After meeting the stringent criteria stipulated by TUI and www.travelife.org the jury was out in acknowledging that the resort’s exceptional efforts towards a sustainable operation, including an in house sewerage treatment plant, re-use of recycled water for the extensive gardens, the use of LED lights – presently the most energy saving form of lighting on the market – or the full use of solar water heaters for guest rooms and back of house are just a few of the remarkable features which earned the resort the award. Additionally, the benchmark of 80 percent approval rating by TUI’s guests too was fulfilled, crowing a year of committed work put in by Mike Round Turner and his team.

It is understood that Mike will be leaving the resort at the end of August to take up a new challenge, after getting the Swahili Beach on the map, locally, regionally and internationally. Well done to the hotel team and all the best for future challenges for Mike.

CONSERVATIONIST MURDER IN LAIKIPIA TRIGGERS MAN HUNT

(Posted 26th August 2013)

The Director of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, Eastern Unit, Mr. David Parkinson OBE, was in the early hours of Sunday night killed under unclear circumstances in his farm home after an attack by at least 5 armed robbers. His wife managed to escape after being injured in the initial stages of the attack, then reportedly hid and later raised the alarm after the gang had left the property. According to information at hand the gang had demanded money and any firearms kept in the house.

Suspicions were flying high late on Sunday when the news became more widely available that other motives could have played a role on the attack, as Mr. Parkinson was not just the manager of the Loldaiga Ranch but also very active in wildlife conservation in the Laikipia region of Kenya, where he was a director of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, a group active in promoting anti poaching and coexistence of wildlife with livestock and people in this part of the country. The Laikipia Wildlife Forum (www.laikipia.org) is one of Kenya’s key privately organized conservation groups and has been working hand in hand with the Kenya Wildlife Service, been running tourism support programmes (see related link to www.laikipiatourism.com) and engaged on a broad front with local communities through education programmes, rangeland rehabilitation

Previously had David also worked at the Lewa Conservancy, itself like other wildlife conservancies in the wider Laikipia area subject to multiple poaching attacks on rhinos and other game in recent months.

It is understood from conservation sources in Nairobi that security operatives have arrested one suspect and have used sniffer dogs to track down others in an attempt to nab more and in particular establish the exact motive of the attack. Condolences go to his wife Sonja, his family, friends and colleagues.

Tanzania News

ARUSHA’S SAFARI MARATHON TO BENEFIT TOURISM

(Posted 31st August 2013)

This year’s Safari Marathon will be the fourth edition of what has become an annual and well attended event. For many still remembering the Mt. Meru Marathon, now fading away in people’s recollection, the Safari Marathon has filled a huge gap left by the initial sporting event, which at the time took place in June every year before it ‘expired’. Over 2.000 participants are expected to assembly at the starting line in the centre of Arusha on the 08th of September, where the iconic Clock Tower has been chosen to launch the races. Besides the 21 kilometre ‘half marathon’ – the full distance of 42 kilometres will not be run – are shorter races on the programme, like the 5 kilometre family or fun run, the 5 kilometre corporate run and a race for those with disabilities over 10 kilometres.

Arusha, half way along the classic Cape to Cairo route, often traversed by adventurers in those days now long gone by, some by foot and others by horse or other means, has since the town was established over 110 years ago established itself as the undisputed ‘safari capital’ of East Africa. From the city one can reach the Arusha National Park within an hour, can climb Mts. Meru and Kilimanjaro or embark on the Northern Circuit which includes Tarangire, Manyara, Ngorongoro and the Serengeti, all names which raise heads and attention when spoken around the world. The chairman of the marathon organizing committee was quoted earlier in the week to have highlighted the event’s potential to promote tourism to Tanzania and indeed, as seen elsewhere in the region, can sporting events lead not just to an increase in sports tourism itself but attract visitors per se into the destination.

Good luck to all the runners, may the fundraisers attached to the marathon benefit many in need and of course, conducive weather – lock the rain dancers away for a day. Visit www.safarimarathon.com for more information on the route, how to register and how to help sponsor the event.

FASTJET ANNOUNCES PLANS TO FLY TO SONGWE

(Posted 30th August 2013)

FastJet has earlier this week announced plans to fly, from November onwards, to Mbeya’s newly developed Songwe Airport (see previous articles on this subject), located some 25 kilometres outside the city. After Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza and Zanzibar will Songwe be the fifth airport to have a tarmac runway capable to accommodate jets, whereas most other airports and aerodromes across Tanzania only permit the use of turboprop aircraft due to their shorter and often unpaved runways. Mbeya is the last major urban centre before reaching the border with Zambia, but also with Malawi and Congo DR. The town is also a waypoint for the TAZARA railway which connects the port of Dar es Salaam with Zambia.

Runway 9/27 at Songwe has a length, according to airport information confirmed by the TCAA, of 10.925 feet or about 3.300 metres and an elevation of 1.345 metres or 4.412 feet above mean sea level. FastJet will commence operations with three flights a week though precise schedule details were not available at the time of uploading this article. This will be FastJet’s fourth Tanzanian mainland destination, after Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Mwanza. The airline’ international first international flight from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg will commence in a few days time as reported here before.

As usual has FastJet again only given their fares without taxes and fees, the lowest starting at US Dollars 20 if booked weeks in advance, a method considered somewhat deceptive, as the true cost of the ticket only becomes apparent when actually booking and paying for it. This practice has been repeatedly criticized by consumer groups in Tanzania which demand all inclusive prizes to be shown, be it in restaurants, shops or for airline tickets too.

Watch this space for breaking and regular news from Eastern Africa’s vibrant aviation scene.

AIR TANZANIA AXES MORE STAFF

(Posted 29th August 2013)

Air Tanzania has according to a source in Dar es Salaam reduced their staff from previously over 300 to 128 in the latest phase of retrenchment of a hugely inflated staff body.

Operating one single Bombardier Q300 aircraft the airline has been bleeding money, in part attributed to the deeply entrenched workers union resisting any changes, which has in the past been a major factor for potential investors to shy away from buying shares in the fully government owned company. Past debts, like the initial maintenance bills for the airline’s turbo prop incurred when the aircraft had been sent to South Africa to carry out major checks were paid up by government last year, though there is still a major debt in connection with the lease of an Airbus A320 hanging over the company, a debt incidentally guaranteed by the Tanzanian government and therefore ultimately liable to pay up.

From what we hear they want to send home even more. Some are coming to retirement age anyway and others may just be surplus because with one aircraft you really cannot sustain that many staff. I think it also comes at a time, or is made public at a time, when there is fresh talk of an Oman based company interested in buying shares. Personally I think that is far from reality because news reports spoke of 8 planes for a new ATCL. But first you need the routes, the licenses to fly to places. So it would have to be a gradual process. The Omanis are also shrewed business people and may not want to invest if they have a lot of legacy debts and staff problems to deal with. So government has to make sure that ATCL is stripped of deadwood, debts are retired first before they can have anyone bring in money’ contributed the source sending in the report before mentioning that in a future retrenchment about half of those now spared may still face the sack. Watch this space for regular and breaking news from Eastern Africa’s vibrant aviation sector.

SWISSPORT REVENUES RISE BY OVER 20 PERCENT IN FIRST HALF OF 2013

(Posted 27th August 2013)

Aviation sources from Dar es Salaam confirmed a rise in pre-tax profits for Swissport for the first half of the calendar year 2013 by 17 percent with revenues in fact reporting a 22 percent rise compared to the same period of last year. This resulted in more than 5 billion Tanzania Shillings in half year profits, an indicator of strong performance in the market inspite of the challenges aviation globally and in Tanzania in particular is facing.

Those challenges notwithstanding has the company also announced that they will be building a new state of the are warehouse at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, with construction due to start late this year and completion of the project thought to be about 12 months.

Their performance is evidence that adding competition over the past two years did not affect them at all. Of course those competitors are lacking the market standing of Swissport which held a monopoly for a long time. But in comparison with Nairobi, where there are many separate handling firms at JKIA, our cost for handling of flights remains high and not competitive with Nairobi. You have the same issue in Entebbe where there is a dominant handling company and only one other. It must concern the airlines a lot that they cannot get similar deals they have in Nairobi where competition is rife and here [Dar es Salaam], and at yours [Entebbe], they pay a lot higher charges’ added a regular source working for an airline in Dar es Salaam which operates into all regional airports and therefore has the ability to compare charges.

Swissport is partnering with the Tanzanian government in a 51 / 49 percent shareholding ratio since the original handling company was privatized just over 13 years ago.

HOTELIERS UP IN ARMS OVER YET MORE ADDED COST THROUGH TOURISM LEVY

(Posted 26th August 2013)

Tourism seems to become an easy punch bag in the region, apart from Rwanda that is, with governments heaping VAT on upcountry accommodation in Uganda, raising safari package cost by 18 percent for room and board in lodges, with Kenya and Tanzania adding VAT to a range of transport services hitherto not taxed for tourism operators, cognizant of tourism being an ‘invisible export’ and now news are breaking that Tanzania is attempting to add yet more charges on tourism products through a new levy.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has served notice to the tourism sector that a 2 percent bed night levy will be charged and has to be remitted via the Tanzania Revenue Authority as of 01st September, leaving key stakeholder furious and vivid over this latest setback. ‘With all the tqx increased, park entrance is now subject to VAT and other elements too have been made VAT applicable, our packages are bound to become more expensive. What governments do not understand, despite telling them until they turn deaf – something which clearly happened here, pun intended – is the fact that we have longer term contracts and cannot change pricing because in turn tour operators in Europe are bound by consumer laws. Those laws dictate that once prices are published they must remain and travellers are not duty bound to pay any further supplements. That, if implemented, has to come from either the European tour operators pockets, very unlikely, or from our, making us lose money on each package we have sold. Combine that with negative publicity, over recent security concerns in Zanzibar to other areas where the same problems exist, to the less than adequate funding of tourism marketing and finally of course our reputation as one of the leading poaching countries in Africa. We are at a loss to understand what sections of government are actually up to. We will consult with our Minister (Ambassador Khamis Kagesheki) to see what can be done but are not hopeful this will change anything. We do not even know how the modalities are, the regulations and guidelines are still missing, so we don’t even know what to do, other than being told to pay up or else. September 01st is just days away and is shows how disorganized everything here is’ did a regular source from Arusha let fly when asked to shed some light on the new levy.

In Uganda, a tourism delegation went to see the parliamentary committee on budget matters and presented their projections and case studies of how serious an impact the untimely introduction of the VAT already had and continues to have on their businesses, hoping that parliament will eventually vote out such provisions in the budget proposals before finally passing the Finance Act 2013.

Watch this space for regular and breaking news from Eastern Africa’s tourism and hospitality industry.

Rwanda News

NEW TRANSPORT SYSTEM FOR KIGALI LAUNCHES TODAY

(Posted 30th August 2013)

The City of Kigali will today launch their new public transport system. Three tender winning transport companies will operate their busses across four different ‘zones’ spread over the city while the central business district is the only area accessed by all bus companies. The three operators, now holding a 5 year contract, are obliged to offer services every day, irrespective of workdays, weekends or public holidays from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m.

The new system is aimed to decongest the city and provide reliable services for residents but also visitors wanting to use public transport as opposed to the more expensive use of taxis.

It could not be ascertained however if the international airport will be part of the destinations offered by the three bus companies, though all the main bus parks, in particular the one where long distance busses across Rwanda and into the wider region like Uganda begin and end their journeys, are ‘connected’ to the new city bus routes. Rwanda, once more taking the lead – well done.

Ethiopia News

ETHIOPIAN SET TO ORDER MORE DREAMLINERS

(Posted 31st August 2013)

Information was confirmed by a source in Addis Ababa that Ethiopian Airlines, presently already having 5 B787 Dreamliners’ on their fleet and 5 more in the delivery pipeline from an order placed years ago as Boeing’s African launch partner, has committed to lease a further 3 such aircraft due for delivery in 2014.

Subsequent to receiving the information it was also learned that the Ethiopian flag carrier will order yet more of this aircraft type, going by what the airline’s CEO said during the week: ‘We like the airplane, it is our future, we are going to order more and we are going to enjoy the benefits of this airplane. If Boeing can produce them then we will add more’.

The new aircraft was dogged with a series of problems on commercial launch, and suffered a global flight ban for nearly 3 months earlier this year following repeated malfunctions of the new Lithium Ion battery systems, which in several cases overheated and in at least one case caused a fire on an aircraft which had landed a short while earlier.

You see the problems of launching a new aircraft are not new. What is new is that every flicker in the cabin lights will be tweeted or posted on Facebook or appears on aviation blogs. I have been around long enough to remember the launch of other Boeing jets, the 747, the 757, the 767 or the 777. Back in those days it was the crews who reported issues to their airline and the airline then passed the details on to Boeing. Few passengers would ever know unless they were aviation insiders with a pipeline to those who had to know. Airlines and manufacturers learn about how their aircraft perform only when these aircraft fly on a regular daily basis. Test flights are done with a small fleet of aircraft and findings are discussed and implemented. But when you have 50 or 80 or more such aircraft flying under different conditions, the inflight information and data gives you information which test flights might not have captured. Therefore, I personally think that the B787 has percentage wise not more or less issues than any other brand new aircraft type launched in the past had. I fly on the B787 because it is safe and we use it in service because we are confident that the aircraft is safe’ added the source on condition of anonymity though willing to share his insight and experience.

Elsewhere in the region is Kenya Airways expecting to take delivery of their first B787 Dreamliner by March 2014. KQ has an order of 9 such aircraft pending and several purchase options which are expected to be converted to firm orders once the new aircraft have started to arrive in Nairobi. Watch this space for regular and breaking news from Eastern Africa’s vibrant aviation sector.

GULF AIR APPOINTS NEW ETHIOPIA COUNTRY MANAGER

(Posted 26th August 2013)

Mr. Salah Al Sawosh was appointed last week as Gulf Air’s new country manager for Ethiopia, coming from his previous posting in Mumbai where he was airport manager for the past few years.

Gulf Air started flights to Addis Ababa in January 2011 and presently operates 6 flights a week between Bahrain and Ethiopia. Unlike other Eastern African destinations such as Entebbe and Nairobi, which were both falling to the airlines’ determined cost cutting measures, flights to Ethiopia remained in place, attributed to both high demand as well as sufficient yields generated on the route.

Salah was described by the Acting Chief Commercial Officer of Gulf Air Mr. Ahmed Janahi as ‘a seasoned aviation professional with a career spanning almost 30 years, who will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to his new position. His immediate focus will be on strengthening existing relationships with travel agents and other key stakeholders in Ethiopia to drive the commercial performance of one of Gulf Air’s most important routes’.

After undergoing major commercial re-alignments over the past 1 ½ years Gulf Air now serves 32 destinations in 21 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia including the most extensive Middle East and Gulf network of any airline.

Watch this space for regular and breaking news from Eastern Africa’s vibrant aviation industry.

Seychelles News

ZAMBIA HEADING TO SEYCHELLES TO PUT LIVE INTO MOU

(Posted 31st August 2013)

The recently signed Memorandum of Understanding for closer cooperation in all matters concerning tourism, between Zambia and the Seychelles, will be filled with more life and concretized in coming weeks as a delegation from Lusaka is expected in Victoria for a bilateral meeting.

Seychelles’ Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange, extended the invitation when meeting with Zambian Vice President Guy Scott who was accompanied by Zambia’s Minister for Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo and Zambia’s Foreign Minister Wilbur Simuusa.

During the 2013 Carnival International de Victoria was Zambia already represented by the Deputy Minister for Tourism and Art who led a delegation to the event and yet closer cooperation, even under the framework of the annual Carnival event, is now expected that the MoU has been signed.

Other areas of potential cooperation, beyond promoting twin centre holidays, will very likely be tourism training. The Seychelles Tourism Academy’s current expansion and transformation into a world class facility is well on course and it is foreseen that selected Zambian students will be able to secure study places in what must be the world’s most scenic tourism academy, overlooking parts of the island and the Indian Ocean from its high vantage point at La Misere.

Minister St. Ange during the meeting in Zambia, incidentally held while on a cruise on the Zambezi River, had this comment to share: ’Seychelles and Zambia complement each other in the world of tourism. The iconic and mighty Victoria Falls and the abundance of big game for memorable safaris and the unrivalled white sandy beaches of the mid-ocean tropical islands of the Seychelles and their big game fishing experience can be marketed as a unique holiday option for long haul travellers from Europe, the Americas, and Asia’.

(Minister St. Ange seen here with the Zambian delegation led by Vice President Guy Scott [seated])

MINISTER ST. ANGE HITS THE GROUND RUNNING

(Posted 31st August 2013)

No sooner was Seychelles’ Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange, elected to the UNWTO Executive Committee, did he take advantage of the presence of tourism ministers from the Caribbean region, to discuss closer cooperation between their group, the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Vanilla Islands Cooperation, which brings together the islands off the African continent. St. Ange was earlier this year re-elected as President of the Vanilla Island Cooperation and promptly promoted the idea to include other islands in the Indian Ocean, not part of the original group, to also be included. Launch members were La Reunion, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mayotte, Comoros and the Seychelles with Rodrigues, Nosy Bay, Praslin and La Digue coming on board next. St. Ange however set his sight much higher by inviting the Indian Ocean islands further off, such as the Maldives, Sri Lanka but notably also Zanzibar off the Tanzanian mainland as well as the Mozambiquean islands to become part of the group which primary objective is to promote inter island cooperation and joint marketing activities.

The two groups agreed in principle to organize a meeting alongside the next World Travel Market in London in November this year but until then will the Vanilla Islands Cooperation meet in La Reunion from September 10th to chart our their course forward. Said Minister St. Ange in an emailed communication to this correspondent when asked about the geographical challenges of getting his vision transformed into real cooperation: ‘Yes the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands Regional Organisation sit on the other side of the world from each other, but our challenges remain the same. We are all small island developing states vulnerable from climate change phenomenon and dependent on availability of good, efficient and regular air access and need to meet as organisations and discuss joint actions to keep our respective islands relevant and visible’. When asked about the upcoming meeting of the Vanilla Island Cooperation Minister St. Ange then added: ‘This meeting will see for the first time representatives from Seychelles, La Reunion, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Mayotte joined by Maldives, Rodrigues of Mauritius, Nosy Bay of Madagascar, Praslin of the Seychelles and La Digue of the Seychelles. We need to work with our island brothers and sisters to take their USPs and make them the region’s USPs. We need to develop cruise ship itineraries that will offer the diversity of this region which encompasses Africa, India, the IOC (Indian Ocean Commission) Islands and Asia. We will be even more unique as a region when we work together as a region’.

When meeting his Caribbean counterparts, the Hon. Wykeham McNeill, Minister for Tourism and Entertainment of Jamaica, and the Hon. Stephen Cadiz, the Minister for Tourism of Trinidad & Tobago, Minister St. Ange was accompanied by La Reunion’s Pascal Viroleau, CEO of the La Reunion Island Tourism.

(Jamaica’s Minister for Tourism Hon. McNeill and Seychelles’ Minister for Tourism Alain St. Ange)

SEYCHELLES NEWS BRIEFS

(Posted 30th August 2013)

The Seychelles’ first privately owned and operated FM radio station, Pure FM, will take this morning to the airwaves across the main island of Mahe, across Praslin, La Digue and some of the inner islands. Broadcasting on a 24 / 7 basis the new station will use frequencies from 90.0 over 90.7 to 95.7 MHz but will also be available through their web service via www.purefm.sc for Seychellois abroad and the many friends the archipelago has overseas.

Pure FM has been described as a ‘full service station’ offering news broadcasts, sports bulletins, general island information and of course plenty of music, interspersed by the financially all important commercials.

Meanwhile was information received that the island of Praslin has received an additional large backup generator to be used in case of failure of one of the other units presently in use and in particular while maintenance and overhaul works are going on over the next few week.

And in final news is the Annual General Meeting of the East African Police Chiefs Cooperation taking place at the International Conference Centre in Victoria, where our very own Ugandan Inspector General of Police, Lt. General Kale Kayihura, handed over the instruments of office as outgoing chairman to the Seychelles’ Police Commissioner Quatre. Over 60 delegates had come to the Seychelles for a series of meetings in which increased cooperation, data and intelligence sharing and mutual logistical support were discussed. The Annual General Meeting of EAPCCO was officially opened by the Seychelles Vice President Danny Faure, holding fort at home while President James Alix Michel is on a State Visit to Vietnam.

MINISTER ST. ANGE ADDRESSES MINISTERIAL ROUND TABLE AT UNWTO MEETING

(Posted 27th August 2013)

Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture has last weekend addressed the Ministerial Roundtable meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Dr. Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the UNWTO chaired this Ministerial Roundtable meeting of Tourism Ministers from the Community of Nations who were all in Zambia and Zimbabwe for the 20th General Assembly of the UNWTO. Sources have confirmed that the meeting was focusing on simplifying border control in a bid entice and also to increase tourism. This is in line with encouraging travel across the continent and have tourists consider multi destination holidays, however reality on the ground is largely different still from the many verbal commitments governments have in the past made, including here in East Africa.
The Seychelles Minister spoke with his usual passion about unity in Africa saying that Africa needed to work together for the spirit of open borders to become a reality. He also referred to the One Europe through the European Union saying that for this block a one visa policy was working. ‘But for Seychelles I need to state openly that as far as we are concerned, we see the Community of Nations as friends and as such we apply a NO VISA policy in Seychelles’ said Minister Alain St. Ange in reference to his own country’s groundbreaking approach to admit every visitor to the archipelago, as long as certain logistical requirements are met.

The Seychelles Minister also spoke about the need for Africa to pat itself on the back now that the African Union (AU) had agreed to look at the idea of having a tourism chapter as part of its responsibilities. ‘Tourism remains the one industry that can create employment for the people of Africa, and it can put money in the pockets of our respective peoples if we work together to consolidate it for the long run’ Minister Alain St.Ange added.
He then went on to speak about the move by Seychelles to sign a number of MOUs and these included the ones already signed with Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, La Reunion Island and with Mauritius.
Speaking to the international and Zambian Press after the meeting the Seychelles Minister said that his delegation had been working long hours to meet all the deadlines for meetings already planned with the different countries and Tourism Organisations. ‘We can come here alone and leave with possible successes of a man, or you can come as a team and work to maximise possibilities of your working visit’.
The Seychelles’ delegation membes at the 20th General Assembly of the UNWTO reported that they are satisfied with the progress they have made vis a vis bilateral and multilateral talks, expressing their confidence that their presence at the UNWTO meeting will bear fruits for the country and which will make every patriotic Seychellois proud. Minister St. Ange was elected last weekend to the UNWTO Executive Committee and the immediate former CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board appointed as the new UNWTO Regional Director for Africa. Seychelles, truly Another World.

SEYCHELLES MAKE IT TO UNWTO EXECUTIVE AS ST. ANGE ELECTED AS FULL MEMBER

(Posted 26th August 2013)

Information was just confirmed that the Seychelles’ Minister for Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange, was elected at the 20th General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization to a seat on the body’s Executive Council. The African seats on this key UNWTO decision making organ are now held, besides the Seychelles, by South Africa, Angola and Tunisia.

St. Ange received support from many African countries for his vision of working hand in hand with them and making Africa and her Indian Ocean islands work together to promote safari and beach tourism, exchange important information and cooperate in manpower development and other areas of mutual concern.

It was St. Ange in fact who, as the annual Carnaval de Carnivals, the Carnival International de Victoria took root, brought in African countries from the mainland to participate in the event as co-sponsors to increase their visibility and gain greater global exposure as part of a highly publicized event.

Only two days ago was it announced that Elsia Grandcourt, the immediate past CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, was appointed to the position as Regional Director for Africa at the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid, and with Alan St. Ange now elected to the Executive Committee, many of their ardent supporters are confident that their experience in promoting the Seychelles archipelago in recent years will be hugely beneficial to activities of UNWTO to promote greater travel to Africa.

Africa last year only received about 5 percent of the global number of travellers, or a paltry 53 million visitors, and several African delegations now in Victoria Falls, who ahead of their travel were in touch with this correspondent, expressed their desire to see greater efforts put in place to give Africa a fairer share of global travel.

Congratulations are due for Alain St. Ange on his election to this very important position at UNWTO and all the best for the challenges ahead. No doubt will his vision for the Seychelles find its way to define a new vision for Africa as a whole.

(The ‘winning team’ – Seychelles Tourism Minister Alain St. Ange and Elsia Grandcourt)

The Minister did respond to his election by saying: ‘It is good for Seychelles to take its rightful place on the World Tourism Body of the Community of Nations. This helps our islands to be heard and to be seen as a relevant tourism destination. Members of our delegation have been working hard in meetings with other organisations such as SADC, RETOSA and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation and also with other Member States. Because we worked as a Team, and because we came as a Team instead of just a Minister we managed to do Seychelles proud. Our Seychelles delegation have also worked long hours with their Zambian counterpart to finalise all arrangements for an MOU to be signed between Zambia and Seychelles during the 20th General Assembly of the UNWTO when the eyes of the world tourism was on Africa’. When asked to comment on Elsia Grandcourt’s appointment he added: ‘We knew that someone from our islands was going to be named as the Director for Africa for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and it was important to have the person with us as part of our team. Elsia Grandcourt has done Seychelles proud, and everyone in our islands who have Seychelles at heart will be rejoicing that a Seychelloise from the whole World of Tourism has been singled out to take up such an important position in the World’s Tourism Umbrella Body. We are of course happy to now have a seat on the Executive Council of the UNWTO. This United Nations Tourism Body remains the most important grouping for the tourism industry. Our presence will help us to get our region and Africa more in focus when decisions on or about tourism is being made’.

Well done again and all aficionados of the Seychelles will no doubt be happy to hear and read about the news.

ELSIA GRANDCOURT APPOINTED UNWTO REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR AFRICA

(Posted 25th August 2013)

Dr. Taleb Rifai this morning announced in Victoria Falls / Zimbabwe that Mrs. Elsia Grandcourt, immediate former CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board, has been appointed as Regional Director for Africa, to be based at the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid.

This lifts the veil of speculation over Elsia’s recent departure as CEO of Seychelles Tourism after only 15 months in office, as has been intimated here last week already in a related article.

Present at the announcement was the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture Mr. Alain St. Ange, whom Elsia in fact succeeded at STB when he was appointed Minister in March 2012.

This morning will UNWTO start a series of meetings which are held alongside the General Assembly, today commencing with the Commission for Africa session for the tourism ministers and delegates from across the continent.

Elsia replaces Ousmane Ndiaye who served in the position as Regional Director for Africa for many years.

The appointment is largely seen as a validation of the Seychelles successful marketing juggernaut which started to take shape when Alain St. Ange was appointed as Director of Tourism Marketing in 2008 before being elevated to the CEO position as the restructuring of Seychelles Tourism took shape and began to conquer the markets in a march which took the archipelago from success to success for the past several years.

In the face of global challenges of island and beach holiday destinations has the Seychelles already increased visitor arrivals for 2013 by a staggering 14 percent, over and above the record breaking year 2012.

African delegates in contact with the author have expressed their personal satisfaction over the appointment, hoping that the Seychelles success can be translated to the entire continent of Africa, which last year received a paltry 5 percent of global travel movements, or some 53 million passengers. ‘We need to aim for the immediate future to raise this figure to 100 million before claiming a market share which fits the size of our continent. I know the challenges we have with Egypt tourism suffering so badly right now but they will recover. Tourism is resilient and that is no different in Egypt. The focus has to be on Eastern Africa and the islands, on Southern Africa and on West Africa which is completely under-represented in the statistics. I hope Elsia will be able to become our catalyst and replicate the success the Seychelles enjoy’ commented an East African participant who however could not go on record for not being the official spokesperson or delegation leader of his country to the UNWTO general meeting.

Congratulations to Elsia, and her country Seychelles, on the occasion of the announcement and all the best in the tasks ahead.

AND here are some more worthwhile reads from ‘further down south’ courtesy of Gill Staden’s The Livingstone Weekly

Livingstone Airport

The airport is open … after a fashion … most of the shops aren’t occupied because of lack of time but our international visitors are now coming via this hall.

I know that I am an old fuddy-duddy but I find that all these shiny new floors we are putting everywhere are very dangerous. I walk around them so carefully because I am frightened of falling over. They are being used in the airport, One-Stop Shop; they are also found in Finance Bank. I know that shiny is nice but it is not safe for us oldies.

KAMULANGA VISUAL ART EXHIBITION

Clare Mateke

The National Arts Council has mounted a national art exhibition at Livingstone Museum for the benefit of UNWTO Conference delegates. However, it is not exclusively for the delegates and is well worth a visit by Livingstonians, not to mention art lovers from further afield.

“Kamulanga” means “look” or “see” which is what the viewer cannot help doing, as the exhibition boasts beautiful pieces of art by legendary artists from around the country, as well as those by young and upcoming artists. Works have been gathered from at least five provinces of Zambia, including Southern, Lusaka and Copperbelt Provinces and even from as far as Luapula and Northern Provinces.

Approximately 60 artists are involved – Lawrence Yombwe, Poto Kabwe, Victor Makashi, William Miko, Chansa Chishimba, David Chibwe, Adam Mwansa, Eddie Mumba, Agnes Buya Yombwe, Elisha Zulu, Vincent Maonde, Nsofwa Bowa, Stary Mwaba, Suse Kasokota and Vincentio Phiri, to mention just a few. Art works include paintings, pencil and charcoal drawings, as well as stone, wood and concrete sculptures. They depict scenes from everyday life, wildlife and natural landscapes, while a variety of fascinating abstract pieces also capture the viewer’s attention.

While Livingstone Museum is the main venue, the exhibition is spread over a number of venues, including the Royal Livingstone, Protea and Courtyard Hotels. It was officially opened on 22nd August by wife of the Vice President, Dr Charlotte Scott, and runs until 31st August.

The Museum venue is open every day from 08:30 to 19:00 hours during this period. A programme of traditional Zambian dancing will also keep museum visitors entertained during the coming week. Dance groups have been selected from around the country and will be performing at various venues in Livingstone, including the new Maramba Cultural Village next to the Show Grounds.

Take some time to come and see the wonderful works of art that the Zambian art world has to offer.

At the Royal Livingstone

Some visitors came calling at the Royal last week. They mooched about on the bank for a while then went off to visit the island

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