Quo Vadis Kenya tourism come 2015?

WILL KENYA’S DILEMMA CONTINUE INTO 2015 OR IS CHANGE IN THE AIR

(Posted 21st December 2014)

While the jury is still out on the extent of the downturn of tourism in Kenya during the past year, one thing is certain and beyond argument, this downturn is the sharpest in history and appears to be the most prolonged ever.

From the city hotels to the safari lodges and the beach resorts have occupancies gone down this year and some sources claim by an industry average of up to 40 percent at the coast but lower percentages on the safari circuit and in the city. However, as arrival data appear to remain a closely guarded secret, the updates are now habitually published later and later, do industry pundits lack the figures to back up their read of the trends and rely on individual hotel companies’ friendly feedback to try and add up the losses.

A series of charters to the Kenya coast were progressively pulled from the market by airlines which were not willing to shoulder the risk of filling the seats as their key tour operators in turn declined to give guarantees, which they knew they could under the circumstances no longer fulfill without risking major losses.

Anti-travel advisories, sharpish like never before, resulted in British tourists being pulled from their sunbeds and flown home and two murders of tourists in the old town of Mombasa, previously a tourist attraction together with the nearby ancient Fort Jesus, proved the authors of those advisories somewhat right. While terror attacks, other than those two incidents, focused on Kenyan citizens, it nevertheless made the country look unsafe and be portrayed by the international media as just that, to the detriment of the tourism industry.

The past government of President Kibaki, who after serving two terms was ineligible to stand again, was told at an early stage after the invasion of Somalia to fund a marketing campaign to alleviate fears by tour operators over the abduction of foreigners and then again as the election campaigns went underway. Nothing happened and the minister of the day, instead of acting, engaged in a vendetta against the tourism board chief, who had dared to contradict his projections of sectoral growth when all indicators already pointed to a steep decline.

The current government too became culpable when it did not act decisively, taking the advice from the private sector on board in a timely fashion. Quintessential changes in the Kenyan security portfolios, which should have been instituted following the rather bodged clear-up after the initial Westgate attack, were not forthcoming until very recently. The country paid a heavy price for the continued failures of the two office holders to get a handle on the situation with subsequently repeated major attacks in the Lamu and Mandera counties.

On the policy front did the government also not heed further advice to cut Visa fees, remove VAT from tourism services, open the Mombasa airspace for foreign airlines, including giving them fifth freedom rights, bundle tourism and conservation related activities in a single ministry and reduce the parastatal proliferation by creating a tourism authority. Instead were misplaced, what the sector broadly refers to as ‘sunshine speeches’, delivered which failed to address the real problems and masked the deteriorating situation on the ground for too long. Promised funding for a recovery marketing campaign was not forthcoming quickly enough, leaving the tourism board financially hamstrung and unable to go after both emerging and new markets and at the same time courting the existing key markets in Europe and North America. The absence in Dubai at the key Arabian Travel Market only added to the perception of tourism having become a rudderless ship.

A recent meeting of the tourism recovery task force in Mombasa in fact revealed the rift between government sponsored optimism and the reality on the ground, with key figures projecting the downturn to continue throughout 2015 and into 2016.

While success has many parents, such negative trends appear to be orphans although literally all fingers are pointing to this and the immediate former governments’ failures to read the writing on the wall and take sensible counter measures when they could and should have.

It is clear that Kenya needs to restore security, though the how is more of an issue as is the when. Nevertheless will this form the centerpiece for any meaningful and sustained recovery in particular at the Kenya coast. Secondly does the government need to make funds available at preferential interest rates, plus allow rapid depreciation of assets created by newly invested funds, to restore coastal resorts to a state of global competitiveness again. Upgrading and refurbishing costs money many owners no longer have following the prolonged downturn and the depletion of their cash resources. Thirdly is a revenue percentage based financing of the tourism board long overdue now, to ensure that the sector can hit the global market places hard and when needed. This requires funding similar to what Egypt and South Africa are spending, the former to aid recovery and the latter to sustain their phenomenal growth, growth by the way inspite of spiraling crime often directed against tourists.

Two things though are also beyond dispute, that one, the Kenyan private sector has taken the initiative to the markets with their successful #WhyILoveKenya campaign and second, and no doubt more important, does Kenya still have plenty adding up in her favour, with those perfect sundrenched beaches, spectacular parks, breathtaking settings of lodges and tented camps and the quality of food and service second to none. This has during several visits throughout the year continued to impress this correspondent and of course tens of thousands of other visitors, who enjoyed a well-organized conference or who had that holiday of a lifetime and returned home, safe and sound, what else, to tell their story.

It was a hard year but that glimmer of hope, including whispers of a cabinet reshuffle and meeting the demands of the sector for its own portfolio will in the early part of 2015, after FITUR and other tradeshows leading up to ITB 2015, determine which way Kenya’s tourism industry will be heading.

I personally hope it will be up up and up some more, reopening resorts, restoring jobs lost last year, earning crucial foreign exchange and bringing in more foreign investments in the sector.

And would it not be nice to show the world that peace through tourism is not just an empty phrase, when the creator of it, former Skal International President Uzi Yalon, comes to visit the Kenya coast for the first ever International Skal Congress to be held in Kenya next year, together with the sitting President of Skal and hundreds of Skalleagues from around the world in tow. They are after all industry leaders, opinion leaders and trend setters in their own right who can help shape new fortunes for Kenya.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and to a better New Year ahead.

Spearfishing – another blood sport which needs stopping

SPEAR FISHING – ANOTHER BLACK MARK ON TANZANIA’S REPUTATION

(Posted 21st December 2014)

There is nothing ethical about spear fishing, like there is nothing ethical about hunting’ told me a conservation source during a recent visit to Dar es Salaam, when following up on a growing number of complaints about this form of ‘under water blood sport’ as it has been phrased in the past in apparent reference to an advert on a Facebook page.

Conservationists, already alarmed about the sharp rise of killing reef fish with explosives, which was recently exposed here, are now taking aim at this sort of marine activity, which they claim is illegal and banned in most parts of the world.

You know our position about hunting in Tanzania and we know yours. The way poaching has decimated our elephants, it is highly irresponsible to permit hunting and give permits for shooting elephant. The hunting companies always claim they are a guarantor against poaching but they have failed just as badly as our government. How hunting can still be allowed in the Selous is a question the minister should answer. There we lost over 50.000 elephant over the past couple of years and I am quoting figures from the 2007 and 2013 game census. Hunting no longer has a place in today’s conservation situation, when every animal counts. We will in 2015 mobilize a lot more against hunting block allocations and expose, like name and shame, those who hold hunting concessions and where we get it the names of their clients also. The Loliondo disaster where people were almost displaced to give the UAE royals another hunting ground is just another case. Our country makes all the wrong moves and that has to stop. As fas as our marine resources go we will take that up also next year. Your article about the dynamite fishing has really rattled people here and the spear fishing is next in line for naming and shaming’ added another regular conservation commentator.

Another contribution then followed soon afterwards, when the focus of the investigation underway became more widely known, with the mail saying: ‘There is a company with big time spear fishing based in Zanzibar, another political story; apparently the conservation people in Zanzibar are totally against and there is a controversy about spear fishing. The laws says no but according to the conservationists, the guys who are helping these people is someone from the ruling party CCM and is one of the members of the Zanzibar Tourism Commission. He is directly involved and it seems no one can stop the spear fishing. The guys were doing it in Kenya and were asked to stop and they found their hiding place in Zanzibar.

They are spear fishing in Latham which is under dispute as to who owns the territory between the mainland and Zanzibar. These guys massacre dog tooth tunas which is a reef tuna and the reef fishing is banned all over the world I understand. GT Trevellys and Giant Trevellys, Wahoos and other restricted species.

Combined with the planned assault on the Coelacanth Marine National Park near Tanga where the Tanzanian government is planning to build a port and the spread of using explosives to kill and stun fish, is spearfishing according to all the sources spoken to the biggest threat to promoting diving along the reefs off the Tanzanian mainland and around some of the islands. When asked how deep sea fishing compared to spearfishing was the following unison answer forthcoming: ‘For sailfish we actively promote a tag and release policy and almost all our clients adhere to it. When such a precious fish is landed, it is measured, checked for existing tags – we record such information and share it globally – and then a new tag put on the fish before releasing it. That is ethical and we do not need to use that word to promote what we do, we are ethical unlike those who need such exaggerations to mask what they are up to’.

Comments found on the Facebook page of the spear fishers like ‘Miami boys hitting the fish hard at St. Lazarus Bank, Mozambique’ in fact exposes the mindset of killing for pleasure not unlike what hunting websites publish about their clientele’s hunger for blood sport.

It is good to note though that the days of spearfishing under a cloud of obscurity are coming to an apparent end as the conservation fraternity in Tanzania is now taking issue with them, as they have taken issue about the destruction of the reefs through the uncontrolled use of explosives.

Said an Arusha based conservationist in closing: ‘It is time to take issue with such unsustainable and undesirable practices. We are going into an election year and if we can make this an issue we will. For sure we will mobilise the global conservation scene. I wonder how these guys will like it when opposition is expressed and featured on a regular basis and they are openly exposed. They should change their evil ways and promote diving and filming fish, not killing it for some weird pleasure’.

Spoken like the true conservationists all these sources have been for years, standing up for wildlife and now, finally, also for marine life. Watch this space.

Please Help Ewaso Lions This Holiday Season

An update and request for help from
he Ewaso Lions …

If you’re having trouble viewing this email, view it on the web.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

December 2014

Please Help Ewaso Lions This Holiday Season

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As 2015 quickly approaches, all of us at Ewaso Lions want to thank you for your support. This year was our most demanding yet. Our mission of promoting coexistence between local communities and lions of northern Kenya has faced new and escalating challenges.

For one, we faced a drought which has drawn more people and their livestock into the area. More people and livestock means more conflict. In fact, just this month lions killed 14 cows and one camel in just one week! But our team managed to respond in time to prevent any retaliation. We responded to 97 incidents of conflict, and stopped lions from being killed on 8 occasions. That’s progress.

Our initiatives this year included:

- The launch of our Mama Simba program, which engages Samburu women in conservation and provides education and training.

- Warrior Watch continued to reverse negative attitudes towards lions and stopped the killing of lions. We added 3 new warriors in 3 new areas, bringing the total number of warriors to 15.

- Hiring an Education Officer to strengthen the conservation impact of our education initiatives.

- Laying the groundwork to identify and secure important lion habitat between Samburu and Laikipia. Together, this area is home to Kenya’s third largest lion population with 350 individuals.

I mean this sincerely when I say we could not do this without your support.

Our work is not done – there are less then 2,000 lions left in Kenya. Our annual budget for 2015 is $190,000 and we have a funding gap of $15,000. Please help us reach our goal, so together – our team, the warriors, the women, and YOU – can keep northern Kenya’s lion population safe.

You can easily donate online, or through other methods which are explained on our site: www.ewasolions.org/donate

Please help us reach our goal of raising $15,000 by January 1st.

Many thanks and best wishes for the holidays.
– The Ewaso Lions Team

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No 300 Wildlife Trade News 20th December 2014

Your daily dose of bad news … edition 300 at which stage I think thanks to the authors
are in order …

in the spotlight, again, today ……………………while we await clarification from the CITES Secretariat.

Row over possible baby elephant move http://citizen.co.za/296809/row-possible-baby-elephant-move/

Kenya: Cry for Baby Elephants

Wildlife Direct CEO Paula Kahumbu said: "Elephants have characteristics that are nearly human. This makes the capture of baby elephants all the more heartbreaking for the them and their families."

Zimbabwe’s government has admitted capturing baby elephants for export to the UAE, despite warnings by conservationists that taking them from their mothers could kill them. http://allafrica.com/stories/201412150724.html

Leonardo DiCaprio ‏@LeoDiCaprio Dec 16 34 baby elephants need your help! Stand w/@action4ifaw : tell Zimbabwe exporting wild elephants is WRONG: http://g.ifaw.org/zimeles14

Save Baby Elephants Stolen From Their Families

Last month, 36 baby elephants were kidnapped from their families in the wild.

Helicopters swarmed elephant herds in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, firing guns over the heads of the elephants and causing them to scatter.

The baby elephants who couldn’t keep up were violently stolen with plans to sell them to zoos.

These elephants need YOUR help: Please join us in urging the Embassy of Zimbabwe to do everything in its power to stop the plans to capture more elephants and to rescue the babies currently awaiting export.

https://secure.peta.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=5803

No 300 Wildlife Trade News 20th December 2014

Prince William’s International Leadership on Animal Conservation by Richard Leakey extract: The second point I would add is the vital role for the general public throughout the world.

Strong ties between cops, villagers hit illegal loggers hard. SARAWAK

Chung (third left) and his officers showing photos of the illegal logs and equipment seized in Serian. Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2014/12/20/strong-ties-between-cops-villagers-hit-illegal-loggers-hard/#ixzz3MPvmUdhq

The other side of the Penan story: threatened tribe embraces tourism, reforestation. SARAWAK http://news.mongabay.com/2011/1219-hance_bate_interview.html

Taib and the timber mafia: profits from paradise. SARAWAK

extract: After 50 years of deforestation, only 11 percent of Sarawak’s rainforest remain. Indigenous peoples, who have lived with the forest for at least 40,000 years, have been recklessly pushed aside, robbed of their communal forests, and moved into resettlement camps for the dam projects. “Many of the people of Sarawak are as poor as they were when I was born’” says Mutang Urud, an indigenous activist. “And yet, the value of the trees that have been felled is estimated to exceed $50 billion.” www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2014/12/20/taib-and-the-timber-mafia-profits-from-paradise/

Rehome Katarina at Matang orangutan sanctuary. MALAYSIA http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/284058

Melaka Zoo: Stupidly irresponsible idea to import animals. MALAYSIA

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/letters/2014/12/20/melaka-zoo-stupidly-irresponsible-idea-to-import-animals/

Kenya Records Significant Drop In Wildlife Crimes http://www.coastweek.com/3751-special-report-03.htm

2014 Was The Worst Year for Rhino Deaths in South Africa http://www.ecorazzi.com/2014/12/19/2014-was-the-worst-year-for-rhino-deaths-in-south-africa/

S. Africa busts int’l rhino horn smuggling syndicate http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/141220/s-africa-busts-intl-rhino-horn-smuggling-syndicate

UK demand for sustainable palm oil rises – experts respond to Defra report http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/dec/19/sustainable-palm-oil-rises-experts-defra-report

Deal reached over Chinese coral poachers

Boats operated by Chinese coral poachers dot the ocean near the Ogasawara Islands, south of Tokyo, on Oct. 31. | KYODO http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/19/national/tokyo-beijing-agree-boost-steps-chinese-coral-poaching-japans-waters/#.VJUab_8MBA

AFRICA INVESTMENT-Can Africa turn the "curse" of big animals into an economic blessing?extract: It has since been escalating dramatically, driven by consumer demand in China, where ivory is coveted for decorative items and jewellery. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/19/africa-investment-idUSL6N0U30TO20141219

Kenya: Ivory Trade Has Now Moved Online, Warns Report extract: The report says China had the highest total number of items offered for sale with a staggering 18,590 pieces valued at $2,744,500 and a total of 157 adverts were forwarded to law enforcers for further probe.

#China: Young artist arrested for selling #ivory and #rhino horn carvings, possibly facing over 10 years in jail CITES Tweet

(NA comment: This is all well and good, but why are the big Chinese dealers in ivory not being prosecuted? Why are countless shops still able to openly sell illegal ivory in China? Isn’t making a big thing of these small prosecutions is nothing more than window-dressing designed to appease CITES?)

WHY DO WE NEVER SEE ON THE CITES WEB SITE, NEWS REPORTS CRITICAL OF CHINA’S COMPLICITY IN THE IVORY TRADE?

IS THE SECRETARIAT SHIELDING CHINA FROM CRITICISM? IF SO. WHY?

WHOSE SIDE DO YOU FEEL CITES ARE ON?

From the FB page of ElephantVoices https://www.facebook.com/ElephantVoices

Here are two articles about China’s role in the ongoing animal bloodbath in Africa. While we don’t want to promote China-bashing, it is important to call a spade a spade. The #Chinese government must acknowledge that Chinese demand for ivory is primarily responsible for the slaughter of Africa’s most iconic animal – the African elephant – and take real steps to stop the haemorrhaging of life. #China must close down its domestic ivory trade, close the ivory carving factories and the retail outlets.

China must also acknowledge that it is largely responsible for the ongoing killing of a multitude of other species of plants and animals, with the latest casualty being the beautiful giraffe. It is unconscionable, in this day and age, that the rape of a continent is permitted. African Governments must also be held accountable for turning a blind eye to what is taking place. If you comment, please keep a decent language. Please make your feelings known to any Chinese embassy, and anyone with connections in China. http://www.eturbonews.com/53565/china-cross-hairs-again-over-blood-ivory

Enforcement & monitoring needed in palm oil sector http://eia-international.org/enforcement-monitoring-needed-in-palm-oil-sector

The last holdout among big palm oil businesses joins no-deforestation pledge http://grist.org/food/the-last-holdout-among-big-palm-oil-producers-joins-no-deforestation-pledge/

For Leopards in Iran and Iraq, Land Mines Are a Surprising Refuge Land mines keep people out of the Persian leopard’s last habitats, creating a conundrum—removing the hazards leaves the cats more vulnerable

WildlifeDirect Newsletter 2014 http://www.scribd.com/doc/250558264/WildlifeDirect-Newsletter-2014

LAST DAYS: Have you seen this? https://www.youtube.com/embed/5gQujyNDp98

Indonesia threatens action against Taiwanese boats http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?cid=1101&MainCatID=11&id=20141220000077

Thank You, Sea Shepherd: Operation Pacuare in Costa Rica http://news.co.cr/thank-sea-shepherd-operation-pacuare-costa-rica/36400/

Red sanders wood worth Rs 11 crore seized at Hoskote. INDIA http://www.bangaloremirror.com/bangalore/crime/Red-sanders-wood-worth-Rs-11-crore-seized-at-Hoskote/articleshow/45579580.cms

125M ha of degraded lands identified for forest-friendly agricultural expansion. SABAH/MALAYSIA http://news.mongabay.com/2014/1219-degraded-lands-map.html

Boosting the conservation value of 4M sq km of rainforest logging concessions http://news.mongabay.com/2014/1212-reduced-impact-logging.html#ixzz3MGaBbMWD

Tanzania’s Met Agency spends 2.2 million US Dollars on new radar station

MWANZA GETS NEW WEATHER RADAR

(Posted 20th December 2014)

Airlines flying to Mwanza, Tanzania’s second largest city located on the Southern end of Lake Victoria, will soon be able to get more timely and more accurate weather forecasts, when the newly installed radar system goes operational in early January.

Served domestically by Fastjet with an A319 some 25 times a week, several daily flights by Precision Air using their ATR’s and on regional flights by RwandAir from Kigali using their Bombardier Q400NextGen, is the airport also one of the hubs of Auric Air, which operates the largest domestic scheduled network in Tanzania operating a uniform fleet of 10 Cessna C208B Grand Caravans.

Weather information is crucial for safe flight operations, especially as Lake Victoria is notorious for sudden violent thunderstorms which have storm clouds reach at times well above cruising altitude of aircraft flying to Mwanza or are overflying the area.

With a reach of nearly 500 kilometres does the new system cover the lake and beyond and airlines have already expressed their relief that they will soon have more up to date weather information available for their flight planning. The US manufactured system was bought and installed at a cost of over 2.2 million US Dollars and is after Dar es Salaam, the country’s busiest airport, the second of overall seven such systems the Tanzania Meteorological Agency plans to install across the country.

Besides the aviation sector will civil society too benefit from the new system as weather forecasts are to be made public for the agricultural sector, the fishing industry on the lake and to allow timely countermeasures for authorities in case of extreme weather heading Mwanza’s way.

Seychelles tourism private sector up in arms over ‘bad budget’

TROUBLE IN PARADISE?

(Posted 20th December 2014)

The main engine of Seychelles’ economy, tourism, appears to be stuttering and spluttering right now as the country’s tourism industry is on edge to find out, if at the end of the year another arrival record will have been set or if the record numbers of 2013 will be missed. But even if the numbers in the end do add up, courtesy of the added flights by Air Seychelles to new destinations in Africa, across the Vanilla Islands and to India, courtesy of Emirates going double daily a few weeks ago and courtesy of Mihin Lanka adding a third flight, revenues for 2014 have in tourist per capita expenditure gone down by reportedly at least 5 percent.

Initiated by the Seychelles’ Minister of Tourism and Culture, Alain St. Ange, have over the past several months intense stakeholder consultations taken place, of late including other portfolios with an impact on the tourism industry, to seek a way out of the trend which emerged during the year and devise countermeasures. This dialogue was much welcomed by the archipelago’s main sectoral association, the SHTA, short for Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association, which threw their support behind the dialogue and which newly elected Executive played a major role in collecting and formulating stakeholder positions, expectations and hopes.

The just announced government budget for 2015 though seems to have caused some major consternation if not outright upset among the private sector, leading to an almost unprecedented public spat when SHTA went public and called a spade a space, as seen from their perspective.

Several sources on the islands were swift though to rush to the support and defense of their tourism minister, whom they attest genuine desire and a keen interest to not just engage in dialogue but take tourism’s position to cabinet. ‘I think the budget shows that he was not able to get enough support in cabinet to give tourism a better facilitation. Between you and I my personal view is that he has some serious opposition in cabinet among some of his colleagues. Some bear a grudge since his appointment because he does not come from the ruling party LEPEP. Others have issues with him because he made such a success of tourism since he was brought on board in 2008 at the tourism board and then as Minister. Yet others and perhaps some of the same I referred to see their own ambitions threatened and for their own ends throw spanners in his works. Yet, in the process they risk the success of our main pillar of our economy and that is very selfish but that is also politics. I think the SHTA criticism is mainly directed at those I am referring to but whose names I will of course not give and not at the Tourism Minister himself, even so he heads the sector’ communicated a regular source from Mahe, confirming the murmours from the grapevine in recent weeks.

SHTA’s public communique reads as follows:

Start quote:

Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA) Statement on the 2015 Budget

We must express, on behalf of our members, our overall disappointment with the 2015 Budget which fails to deliver on the fiscal measures necessary to oxygenate the tourism sector.

We have spent an inordinate amount of time over the last six months in discussion with government. The motor of the economy is faltering, we asked for oxygen through fiscal respite. Our request was not irresponsible or extravagant. The figures speak for themselves. A 5 percent decline in tourism earnings, the 14 percent decline in fisheries confirms that Seychelles is too expensive, unproductive, and a hard sell with high rates, high fuel bills, high VAT.

The government’s response has been to slam a struggling private sector with more taxes, which will drive up costs even higher and make it even more difficult to do business in Seychelles. It does not reflect the spirit of collaboration with which we as the private sector engaged with the government in at the four Cross Sectorial Ministerial Meetings and in the various technical working groups. These much publicized Public Private Sector meetings promised much at the outset but delivered nothing in the end. As the SHTA, we feel that the Government has failed the Nation at this critical moment.

The 2015 Budget is lacking in substance, it contains no stimulus to encourage growth of businesses or for the private sector to reinvest to ensure the continuity of their businesses. It glosses over the poor performance of 2014 and promotes business as usual as an ever shaky base crumbles from inside. For our industry in particular it contains nothing material to ease the operational and systemic challenges faced by our distressed operators. With over capacity of bed stock, reduced earnings and low occupancy levels, severe international competition, an intra-country price war, lack of access from our high yield source markets, the government has opted to disregard and ignore the plight of an industry in trouble and the existing operators of 12,000 bed stock and other tourism related operators.

Contrary to the Minister, we must express caution ahead due to disappointing forward bookings and signs of early discounting for the early part of 2015. Due to overcapacity, we expect the intra-country price war to continue, thus driving rates further down. The opening of the Bel Ombre hotel and re-opening of Avani Seychelles Barbarons Resort & Spa will exacerbate the trend. With escalating costs the new taxes will entail, those businesses who are able to will have no option but to cut down on quality and standards just to keep afloat. This budget will make our industry even more uncompetitive and risks rendering it ultimately irrelevant.

End quote

Trouble in paradise it seems with storm clouds gathering on the horizon. Fresh positions are now staked out and perhaps new alliances forged to take the fight for a better and improved policy framework and better sectoral facilitation back to the government.

St. Ange has brought a breath of fresh air into the sector from the day he arrived but along the way, envious of his success, the number of political opponents has grown. He has our support but what we need is also the support of other key ministries in our government. Finance has probably yielded to Realpolitik reflecting the overall mood in cabinet or if not the mood then the numbers. Maybe the national assembly will be able to in part reshape the budget and we are working through that channel now’ added another source.

Minister St. Ange has since his ministerial appointment managed to put the global spotlight on the Seychelles. This has seen the island nation regularly quoted and cited for tourism marketing success, conducive policies and bringing tourism and aviation on one table to discuss the future of both, inextricably linked sectors. Next year’s first ever meeting of tourism and transport ministers in a joint UNWTO and ICAO meeting to be held on the main island of Mahe in April ahead of the annual Seychelles Carnival, is manifesting this success perhaps better than any other single event. Yet, as the challenges at home are mounting, there is a greater need than ever before to be unified and work hand in hand at home to maintain the success the archipelago enjoyed abroad.

One source made it clear that SHTA felt it had no choice but to go public the way they did, and understandably so, in the process however also drawing a red line in the sand and declaring readiness to do battle for their sector. Minister St. Ange will no doubt be a valuable ally for them inside government but knowing the complexities of the archipelago’s domestic politics, only time will tell how fast fresh alliances can be forged to accomplish that crucial objective, to facilitate tourism the way it needs to be facilitated in order to build on the success of past years and extend it deeper into the decade.

Volcanoes Safaris: The Joy of Travel

The team from Volcanoes Safaris sends you Season’s Greetings

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Happy Holidays from Volcanoes Safaris
As the year draws to a close, the thoughtful traveller weighs up the many attractions the world has to offer and we think about our travel plans for 2015. We think about whether we want an adventure holiday or a beach holiday, a holiday that explores the mind or the far corners of the world.
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We think about the joy of travel…
Travel is about a person’s emotions, about their soul and how they can have an experience that will enhance their life. Each traveller knows what excites them – as a travel company, we can only share our unique and experiential products.

As four West African countries finally start to bring Ebola under control, thankfully travel to Uganda and Rwanda has carried on as normal. These two beautiful countries have also remained one of the safest parts of the world for travellers.

We welcome you to come and stay at our very special lodges, far from the fast pace of the modern world. We offer you the rare opportunity to see mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, tree climbing lions, the chance to climb a volcano, share the culture of the ancient Batwa pygmies, and much more.

Please keep an eye out for our New Year offers for the thoughtful traveller.

Wherever you decide to go, we wish you safe travels for the year ahead, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Praveen Moman and the Volcanoes Team
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