AIR MAURITIUS PUTS 5 PERCENT FARE INCREASE INTO PLACE
Information was confirmed overnight that Air Mauritius has with immediate effect raised their fares by 5 percent across the board for international flights, to cater for the rise in fuel and other cost. In addition will a further fare rise become due when the full impact of the European Unions Emission Trading Scheme or in short ETS becomes fully quantifiable, the same source has pointed out.
Fares however to the neighbouring island of La Reunion and to Rodrigues Island have not been increased it was pointed out, giving relief to regular travelers on business between the three islands for the time being.
Following the acquisition of 40 percent shares in Air Seychelles by Abu Dhabis Etihad there is also growing speculation that the government in Port Louis has been approached by potential investors in Air Mauritius to similarly by into the airline, a move neither ruled out nor ruled in at this stage, as a regular source from the island pointed out. I think our government is watching first what is happening with Air Seychelles now with their new partners and their new strategies. In principle cooperation is a way forward and would spare Air Mauritius that painful cutting back which has dominated Air Seychelles for the past 4 months before Etihad came on board. There is a rational of our three airlines, including Air Austral, to sit down and talk and see how we can cooperate to save cost, but let the new managers in Victoria settle in first before we can expect any meetings to shape up was the comment from Mauritius.
Watch this space for regular aviation updates from the Indian Ocean islands and from Eastern Africa.
Archive for February 3rd, 2012
Mauritius aviation news – Air Mauritius raises fares by 5 percent, excludes La Reunion and Rodrigues flights
AIR MAURITIUS PUTS 5 PERCENT FARE INCREASE INTO PLACE
Vanilla Islands sure to benefit from latest Maldives blunder to attempt raise airport handling fees by over 50 percent
VANILLA ISLANDS READY TO BENEFIT FROM NEW MALDIVES BLUNDER
Only weeks after first banning all resort Spas across the Maldives islands for allegedly being brothels in disguise, and then making a swift U-turn when the fall out of the potential damage to the lucrative tourism businesses became evident in the wake of nearly unprecedented condemnation of the decree by the international tourism fraternity, is another major blunder in the making in the Maldives.
Information was received that the international airports monopolist handling company has sent information to airlines that they intend to raise their fees and charges by over 50 percent, raising equal alarm for the future of tourism entirely dependent on air traffic. Condemnation, like in the attempt to ban Spas from the islands resorts, was swift and harsh and the outspoken CEO of Qatar Airways was quoted of saying the proposed fee hike was totally unreasonable and could lead to threaten the future of [Qatar Airways] services to the holiday islands. Other airlines, it is understood from sources in Europe, with regular charters to the Maldives Male International Airport, have also immediately talked of the reduction in flights or pulling out altogether, once again painting a grim picture for the Maldives as a preferred destination. A source in a major German holiday firm, in charge of contracting hotels, had this to say in an overnight email: The issue of the Spas was highly political and if not reversed would have damaged the reputation of the Maldives and tourists would have switched to other Indian Ocean destinations like Seychelles for instance. While that ban was reversed we are monitoring the situation as the political constellation in Maldives can bring this back on the agenda any time again. But the increase for handling of charters by 51 percent is now just another problem we have with them. Our holiday packages are price inflexible, when clients book and pay we cannot raise prices and yet our cost, the cost for the airlines, rise. I dont think the people responsible for such actions in Maldives understand what they are doing. In todays economic climate tourism is already hit by uncertainties and when a destination then catapults itself into the negative headlines, they have it twice as difficult to promote their destination. Again I say here, like a few weeks ago, the Seychelles are on a media offensive and have phantastic offers, excellent connections on scheduled flights and a weekly flight by Condor, and so has Mauritius, so we got options here. If one destination messes up the Seychelles will be happy to get our business and our clients will need not much persuading to shift from one island destination which is going berserk to another which is friendly and keen for business.
No comments were received yet from any of the Vanilla Islands but as the Maldives are busy upsetting the market with such actions, both Mauritius and the Seychelles and to a lesser extent La Reunion will be keen to step up their marketing efforts to cash in on the self created woes of one of their main competitors in the Indian Ocean. Watch this space how the latest faux pas of the Maldives plays out.
Uganda tourism news – Sectoral budget diverted to pay for electricity subsidies, stakeholders infuriated
TOURISM FUNDING CUT TO PAY FOR ELECTRICITY
The chronic funding shortage for tourism marketing and the pathetic facilitation of the Ministry of Tourism, formed only 11 months ago following the general elections of 2011, has at last been partly explained, when news emerged in Kampala overnight that cabinet had sanctioned a budget shift of 377 billion Uganda Shillings from ministerial budgets towards payments to private power producers.
Failure to pay contractually agreed dues to private companies, which invested in thermal power stations using diesel and heavy fuel oil, had last year led to massive power rationing when the affected companies switched off their plants after running out of cash to pay for fuel, plunging the country in darkness and making worse an already bad economic situation, when inflation ran up to 30 percent per annum and the value of the Uganda Shilling hit record lows. Faced with the business community turning their back on government, already embattled by a growing wave of street protests over the massive rises in the cost of food and transport, the Ministry of Finance rushed to plug one hole by creating plenty of others thought less consequential.
While most ministries were affected, tourism was particularly hard hit as the newly created stand alone Ministry of Tourism was already minimally funded, and the Uganda Tourism Board in turn as predicted when the budget last year was published is now likely to be put into hibernation mode due to lack of money.
The Lonely Planet had elevated Uganda as Destination 2012, causing excitement amongst the Ugandan tourism fraternity, and 2012 being also the 50th anniversary year of attaining independence from colonial masters Britain, it was generally hoped that government would see to it to make enough money available to embark on a major promotional campaign.
Far from it these latest news suggest, and although the source at the Ministry of Finance was cautious to let details be known which ministries were the worst affected, information from the corridors of the Ministry of Tourism confirm that they have been very badly hit by the cash drought inflicted on them.
Tourism, a sector the government regularly pays with lipservice instead of with cash, is potentially an engine of economic growth, but a decade and a half of financial starvation by the bean counters in the finance ministry have severely limited the sectors expansion and half hearted incentive schemes to import vehicles and other capital goods free of duty and taxes were shortlived and often ended before the sector could take full advantage of them as a result of parallel lack of affordable and available financing.
Said a regular senior tourism stakeholder yesterday afternoon on the phone: If these reports are really true it will be a big struggle for UTB to finance the minimalist programme they have suggested for the #VisitUganda2012 and the golden jubilee of independence. We looked at Tanzania and how they found the resources last year to capitalize on the 50 years of mainland independence and we dont even want to think of what money Kenya is going to spend in promoting when they go into the 50th celebrations next year. Our sector has such potential, to create jobs, to earn forex, to attract more big investments in resorts and lodges, but our officials completely fail to understand that even the most productive sectors of the economy need facilitation, need budget support and need strategic thinking ahead. Here our government has failed us for long enough and even a one off effort will not hoodwink us any longer into believing that the fundamentals have changed. Unless tourism is treated like a high priority ministry we can never fully exploit our tourism potential. Unless the tourism policy and law are implemented like the funding levy for UTB etc we will continue to be a cash poor sector, and besides, reports on encroachment of forests, wetland destruction and the UWA problems have not helped to protect our natural resources the way we should. We in tourism depend on intact nature and all the issues on Mabira, oil production in the parks, poaching, illegal logging are open questions our government does not address very well. We demand the attention this sector deserves and they should stop paying us with good words, we want to see the cash to make our sector shine again.
Harsh words from a disillusioned tourism stakeholder who however echoed the sentiments captured elsewhere too. My question here remains as asked before: Quo vadis Uganda Tourism.