STB AND STA AWARD LONG SERVING STAFF
51 staff of the Seychelles Tourism Board and the Seychelles Tourism Academy were last weekend recognized for their dedicated and committed long service to the industry in various capacities over the years. Having served between 10 years, the threshold for being called up to the podium, and 39 years for the longest serving member of staff, they were all congratulated by STB Chief Executive Alain St. Ange, who never fails to credit his incredible staff for their hard work in putting the Seychelles on the global tourism map. Only recently did he in a personal communication to this correspondent use the opportunity to pay a glowing tribute to them all heap praise on his staff, those at the Bel Ombre head offices of STB, those abroad heading and working at the Seychelles Tourism Offices, the tourism attaches at a number of foreign embassies and High Commissions, the Tourism Ambassadors around the world and his colleagues in the private sector, saying without them all this success would not be possible.
Notably was STA Principal Flavien Joubert the one to receive recognition for 39 years of uninterrupted service in and to the tourism industry of the country, initially as an ordinary staff at a resort before graduating through the ranks, becoming a chef, a lecturer and finally principal of one of Africas finest hotel and tourism academies.
Congratulations to them all and all the best for 2012, to make it yet another record year for the country in terms of tourist arrivals and revenues.
Archive for January 9th, 2012
STB AND STA AWARD LONG SERVING STAFF
WINDPOWER CONTRACT AWARDED
It was learned that last week were firm contracts signed for the construction of initially up to 8 wind turbines on Mahe, which when operational will produce a further 6 MW of power. Under the Seychelles long term plan does the use of renewable energy sources rank high and in conjunction with Abu Dhabis Masdar renewable energy company was South Koreas Unison selected as contractor. Five turbines will be erected at the Ile de Romanville while the remaining three will be placed at Ile du Port. Construction is expected to commence soon after the company has mobilized resources and manufactured and shipped the units to the island.
The overall cost of approximately 28 million US Dollars comes as a grant from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the warm relations between the two countries are again paying off, as was the case last year when two additional desalination plants were rushed to Mahe from Abu Dhabi as a gift by Abu Dhabis ruler to the people of the Seychelles, when drought has seriously affected the available water supply. Good to have friends like that who are willing to financially support development goals and help the Seychelles to attain her goal of having a 15 percent renewable energy base by 2030. Keeping Seychelles green watch this space.
Tanzania conservation news – TAWIRI needs funding to fulfill presidential directive on anti poaching and conservation
NO CAN DO SAYS TAWIRI
President Jakaya Kikwetes directive to TAWIRI, to strengthen anti poaching measures and devise ways and means to protect crucially endangered wildlife, which followed the recent submission of a devastating report on game numbers in the Selous Game Reserve and other parks, may not be quite as swiftly implemented as one could be tempted to think. TAWIRI, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, has now let it be known that they are lacking funding to step up anti poaching operations. A regular conservation source in Dar es Salaam had this to say: It is fair and good to give directives but what about funding. The wildlife sector is underfacilitated and cannot carry out its mandate the way they are supposed to. Partners from overseas are also holding back because there are so many unanswered questions about our countrys commitment to conservation. The Serengeti issue, the Lake Natron issue, the Coelacanth marine park issue, the uranium mining and plans for a big dam in the Selous and on those issues our government has been speaking with a forked tongue. Our credibility has suffered by saying one thing, then doing another and then even making U-turns like the road across the Serengeti. Donors want to be sure that when they support a park, support TANAPA or TAWIRI, that there is lasting value and those parks are kept intact and not cut up by roads or for mining.
It appears that too much is expected from these organizations, under their existing mandate and by special directives without providing the budget to carry out these functions satisfactorily. Wildlife based tourism is a key economic sector for Tanzania but depends on goodwill, visible conservation measures and measurable commitments by government to financially support wildlife management, not just by mouth but by chequebook. Watch this space.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO THE VICTORIA CARNIVAL FESTIVAL
Some may see this as a classic misnomer, as of course it is the air lanes which connect the Seychelles with the outside world, but nevertheless, like when in ancient times all roads led to Rome, the attention of the global carnival communities will focus on the upcoming second edition of the Carnaval International de Victoria.
Hosted this year jointly between La Reunion and the Seychelles, the two tourist boards are busy putting final touches to the PR campaign which is due to unfold as the countdown continues towards the March 02 04 event, and with over 40 traditional carnival nations participating in the festival, the show is going to be bigger and better than last year according to a regular source from Mahe. Emirates, emerging as THE global airline, is the main sponsor and Festival Airline once again and will promote the event across their growing network, from where travelers are but one stop away from getting to the tropical island paradise of the Seychelles.
This is only our second edition of this festival but it has taken the media by storm. In fact many tourists are coming in March to see the festival and parade. We now have a calendar of major activities across the entire year and it supports our aim to bring in more tourists by offering more attractions beyond our paradise location. We see ourselves as blessed with a unique natural setting in the middle of the Indian Ocean but also want to establish the islands as a place where things happen. The Carnaval Festival is one such event and we look forward to host the world again in March said a regular source. Watch this space as the programme for the three day festival will be released very soon and for anyone wanting to see floats, dance groups and bands perform, the time to book is now. Visit www.seychelles.travel for more information on the archipelagos tourism industry.
LOCAL BBC AND RADIO FRANCE RE-BROADCASTS TAKEN OFF AIR
It is understood that officers of the Uganda Police over the weekend ordered the immediate disconnection of the BBCs local FM broadcasts, with Radio France International also affected as the CID investigates a series of allegations over corruption at state broadcaster UBC in connections with the illegal use of UBC facilities.
A number of other stations were reportedly affected too, as were internet service providers using UBC masts around Kampala. One source close to the BBC offices in Kampala, on condition of anonymity said: all I know is that our re-broadcasting facility was taken off air. Anyone who ever dealt with BBC should know that we have contracts in place for use of facilities and we do not steal as the police action suggests. I think personally that this was a knee jerk reaction by an overzealous police officer with no clue what damage he was doing, but of course one can never rule out other motives, when BBC and RFI are taken off the air at once.
The action also well near caused a diplomatic incident when at the same location the secure radio facility of the Italian Embassy was taken off air too, reportedly prompting a flurry of exchanges between the Embassy and the Foreign Affairs ministry in Kampala, demanding to have diplomatic installations left alone or risk a formal protest.
Over the past months repeated allegations emerged of individual station owners conniving with UBC staff to put unsanctioned installations on masts and even use the power, prompting police investigations but their latest range of disconnections without first establishing all facts ahead of such orders clearly opened the force to allegations in turn of ulterior motives and unproportionate use of their powers. Watch this space.
NEW RAILWAY TO AVOID SERENGETI?
Stung by the swift onset of international outrage, when plans became known of a possible railway routing across the Serengeti, aimed to connect Musoma at Lake Victoria with a planned new Indian Ocean port at Mwambani, where the Coelacanth marine national park is located, has the Tanzanian government rushed to deny several weeks late that is that any such plans existed. The global Save the Serengeti coalition had swiftly mobilized after initially being ambushed by the signing of an MoU between Chinas CCECC, Tanzania and Uganda before Christmas and tourism stakeholders, the conservation fraternity and big names from abroad denounced such plans vehemently. Criticism was particularly loud from partner country Uganda where the media caught on to the destructive potential of such a routing and its negative publicity for Uganda too and Tanzanian transport minister Omar Nundu over the weekend felt compelled to put this to rest.
While his announcement, that the routing would run at least 100 KM south of the Serengeti, was greeted in principle with both applause and relief by conservation groups, the question was immediately raised why the highway across the park was not equally shifted to the same routing and why the Tanzanian government still seems hell bent to build a gravel road across the Serengetis migration routes, which according to their own traffic forecasts will eventually carry hundreds of cars a day across the most fragile part of the national park.
There is also the added open question on the Chinese funded feasibility study, supposed to cost over 450 million US Dollars, which is to establish the most viable and cost effective route for the new railway line and based on which financiers, including China herself, are to be attracted to the multibillion dollar project. Should that study conclude that a more direct route would be best and have the greatest chance to attract funding, who would Tanzanias government then react, quietly go along with it or vocally demand for the longer route around the park to be made the official routing, at the risk of NOT getting it funded?
Also over the weekend did news emerge that the planned rail link between Rwanda and Tanzania, which is to connect central Eastern Africa with the port of Dar es Salaam via Isaka, was likely to kick off in 2014, after all the necessary funding will have been put into place. Estimated at over 3 billion US Dollars, this route is due for upgrading to standard gauge measures between Dar es Salaam and Isaka. The new add on line from there to Rwanda, and very likely on to Burundi and into the Eastern Congos main city of Goma and beyond has for some time been agreed and earmarked for development. Principal financial agreements with development partners have already been put into place and questions inevitably are now emerging how Tanzania could attract finance for two mega projects of such nature at the same time, when a full rehabilitation and transformation to standard gauge of the existing line between Dar es Salaam and the Lake Victoria port of Mwanza would provide better value for money.
Experts have also rubbished Tanzanias claim that a new port must be build at Mwambani instead of expanding Tangas existing port but with no environmental impact studies yet at hand, nor billions of dollars of loose cash floating around to create such white elephants, the plans suddenly seem a bit more distant again.
China, also involved in bidding for the new railway from Lamu into the African hinterland countries of Ethiopia and Southern Sudan, does herself not have limitless cash to spend on purely prestige projects and it is expected that all railway plans presently being put into place for Eastern Africa will, when feasibility and environmental studies are finally complete, be compared as to their economic contributions and abilities to repay the financiers. Undoubtedly is rail transport hugely important to lower the cost of imports and exports and to provide affordable linkages for both people and cargo, and at a lesser carbon footprint compared to expensive road transport. Yet, in the final analysis, even the best looking plans need to take environmental concerns into consideration and avoid biodiversity hotspots, besides needing to find the funds from somewhere to pay for the ambitious outlook of how to transform East Africa into an economic powerhouse. Watch this space to stay informed about any future twists and turns on this issue and expect quite a few more of those.