NOVOTEL BUJUMBURA TO BECOME A DOUBLETREE BY HILTON
News have been confirmed over the weekend that Burundi is finally set to get its very first international branded hotel group enter the hospitality market. The Novotel, presently a 3 star property, is being taken over by Hilton and will after a substantial revamp and upgrading become a Doubletree, one of Hiltons brands covering the 4 star sector. The International Finance Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank, will offer a loan facility of over 5 million US Dollars which will be used to transform the presently rather drab Novotel into a new look Doubletree Bujumbura can be proud of. The overall project cost however is thought to be substantially higher, requiring additional sources of finance to be raised by the owners of the hotel.
Hilton is also said to be in the process of having a hotel constructed in Kigali, which would see the chain expand, finally, beyond Nairobi where they have been active since the 1970s but had little success of spreading the brand into the wider region, apart from an equally long established hotel in Addis Ababa.
Archive for November 7th, 2011
NOVOTEL BUJUMBURA TO BECOME A DOUBLETREE BY HILTON
PRINCE CHARLES ARRIVES IN TANZANIA TODAY
Ahead of the Golden Jubilee, when Tanzania is celebrating its 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain later this week, will Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Tanzania and according to available details tour the country before representing Her Majesty the Queen on Independence Day.
On the visiting programme are trips to Zanzibar and to Arusha and it was confirmed that the heir to the throne will use his presence in the country to discuss matters of mutual concern and interest with such bodies as the British Council, VSO, the WWF and a number of NGOs, the latter two undoubtedly briefing him on the ongoing assaults by the Tanzanian government on conservation areas like the Serengeti, Lake Natron, the Eastern Arc Mountains, the Selous and the Tanga Marine National Park at Mwambani.
Relations between Britain and Tanzania are cordial but not free of controversy and it is hoped that the generally outspoken Prince will divert somewhat from the script the High Commission and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have prepared for him and address some of his own concerns vis a vis the development projects impacting on some of the globally most renowned national parks and tourism attractions, given that he himself is known to appreciate intact nature and of late President of the WWF UK chapter.
Meanwhile though it is a hearty congratulations to the people but also the government of the United Republic of Tanzania on the occasion of the mainland Tanganyika attaining independence 50 years ago.
East Africa tourism news – New Seven Wonders top 10 see not one African ‘attraction’ amongst them, yet.
VOTING FOR NEW SEVEN WORLD WONDERS LEAVES AFRICA TRAILING
East Africas tourism attractions, like the gorilla national parks in the Virunga mountains, Mt. Kilimanjaro or the Masai Mara are presently not featuring in the intermediate top 10 positions, which are held by front runners Dead Sea, Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef with many other Asian tourism attractions making up the remaining positions. What is clear this year is that the campaign for voting for home based attractions was far more intense in the countries where the front runners are placed, with internet penetration and encouragement by national, regional and local tourism board offices making a huge difference. Cape Towns Table Mountain was for a while thought to be in the top 10 at this stage but inspite of an inspired follow up this has not been enough to reach that level, leave alone the votes for East Africas attractions, which are all lagging seriously behind. While the tourism boards and private sector participants are now in London for the worlds second most important tourism trade fair, WTM, maybe they can galvanize attention through a superior performance and ask stand visitors to vote for their attraction to catapult one or the other into the final top 10 count. All the best to all candidates right now but would it not be nice to see at least one East African attraction end up amongst the worlds best? We sure have the attractions and sites, just not the votes yet.
BROKE GOVERNMENT TO DITCH POWER SUBSIDIES?
As the much awaited Bujagali hydro electric power plant is due to go into production later this month with an initial output of 50 MW, gradually rising to a full 250 MW at peak demand periods by April next year, have news emerged that government is considering to expire subsidies to the sector.
Already in serious default over payment of contractually agreed subsidies to the independent power producers using thermal plants, propelled by diesel or heavy fuel oil, the empty coffers and inflationary pressures have created this doomsday scenario, following relatively uncontrolled spending by government in the past.
Estimates were published that from a present cost to the domestic end consumer of 385.60 Uganda Shillings per kilowatt hour this could rise to more than 800 Uganda Shillings, making it not only the most expensive electricity bills in the region but fueling inflation even more than is presently the case.
While government seems to think that shifting these resources to promote power generation, mainly financing and fast tracking the proposed Karuma Falls hydro electric project, Ugandans may have different views when increased electricity bills start hitting them, also having implications for the political situation in the country, where tempers are already flying high and hot.
Hoteliers polled on the subject were up in arms over the prospects of seeing their already significant electricity cost doubled, with some of them saying it would immediately result in higher tariffs for hotel accommodation as no amount of trying to save somewhere else can absorb such an increase. This would seriously impact also on the cost of safaris across the Ugandan national parks, a dampener on the hopes for a great 2012 after Uganda was declared as the most desirable tourism destination last week according to a global survey. And with oil production remaining a distant hope, after government and in particular
Tullow Oil being remain bogged down over contractual and policy issues, there is no telling when this situation will improve or when cheaper, locally pumped crude will find its way into the Ugandan supply chain and bring prices down. Watch this space.
UGANDA MUSEUM CASE HEADS BACK TO COURT
The leftovers of the controversial reign of Kahinda Otafire as Minister of Tourism, Trade and Industry up to the elections earlier this year and the formation of a new government, are coming back to haunt as the case brought by friends of the Uganda Museum is going back to court this Tuesday.
Otafire had casually dismissed opponents of his megalomanica plans to build a 60 storey Trade Centre on the site of the museum, incidentally with no concrete plans how to finance the building, for which the old had to give way to the new and in turn graciously offering two floors of the new tower to house the museum.
Conservationists, historic building buffs and those feeling the need to preserve listed buildings in Uganda, of which the Uganda Museum is one, filed suit against the government at the time Otafire gave his full mouthed statements and won an injunction, barring government from interfering with the building and halting any progress on the planning or work on the site. Hopes are high that when the hearing of the main case goes underway, that government will be permanently barred from developing the site.
Sadly, and it seems especially so under Otafires reign, is the department of antiquities amongst the worst facilitated in the ministry, leading to decay in the museums still nominally in existence across the country while at the Uganda Museum the lack of funding shows in the upkeep and their ability to host regular major themed shows and exhibitions, which could spur greater interest and support the financial well being of the institution.
Opponents of the project are also taking hope that the current financial situation in the country, with empty government coffers and inflation running at over 30 percent, there will simply be no money to go ahead, unless the entire site is privatized, a phrase often used to hive off assets to buddies who then share their ill gotten windfall with their political godfathers. Watch this space as the case begins in earnest at the High Court in Kampala, at 2 pm this Tuesday.