NAIROBI TO HOST E-TOURISM CONFERENCE IN MARCH
Kenyas capital city has once again been chosen to host a major continental tourism conference in March this year. E-tourism guru Damian Cook will be leading the field of global e-tourism experts who will come to Kenya to help transform the sectors approach to the new media and train and counsel the over 200 participants in how to best tap into social media and make a market impact.
In the past many tourism stakeholders found themselves restricted by small advertising and marketing budgets, but can now at last use the power of social media and web based marketing to take their message to the rest of the world without having to travel long distances to attend one or two tourism trade fairs.
Said a smaller tour operator from Nairobi, frequently in touch with this correspondent on all matters concerning tourism developments in East Africa: When we set up our company we could hardly afford to print brochures and had to decide between going to ITB or WTM due to budget constraints. When the internet became what it is today, for a little investment we managed to put up a web site and when Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and U Tube came along and became popular, we managed to put ourselves on the map.
E-Tourism levels the playing field a lot more, not completely, but a lot more now. We can showcase ourselves and the more active one is on the web, the more visible the company is also. The big boys in our industry still have a lot of advantages but the smaller companies with just as good guides and expertise no longer are out in the cold. We get business that way and we hope for more in the future as we learn more from such conferences.
Notably have secure booking and payment solutions been developed by financial services providers which help to avoid past problems, making the use of internet based transaction, often referred to as e-Commerce, more viable and more widely available. Major credit and debit card organizations setting up offices in Nairobi to serve the wider region too have helped as transaction speeds have increased considerably, with participating merchants no longer having to wait weeks to see funds credited.
Developed countries are now thought to transact up to 50 percent of business via e-Commerce solutions while on the African continent the percentage is notably still way below the 10 percent mark, with some countries in fact not even registering on the scale yet. It is here that the 2 day conference is set to prepare greater market acceptance and wider participation in doing business the new way and to catapult Africa as a destination continent truly into the 21st century. Watch this space.
Archive for February 24th, 2012
NAIROBI TO HOST E-TOURISM CONFERENCE IN MARCH
RWANDA GETS AU BACKING TO TAKE OVER AT UNSC AS NON PERMANENT MEMBER
Rwandas contributions to UN peace keeping missions in Darfur and the long term deployment of police contingents in Haiti have earned Rwanda the respect of fellow AU member countries, which have now reciprocated to give provisional clearance for Rwanda to step into a two year term, from January 2013 onwards, of the UN Security Council where non permanent members are elected by the General Assembly following the support of their respective regional groups like the AU.
Rwanda has since the 1994 genocide made a phoenix like recovery, has restored an independent judiciary and made huge strides towards reconciliation and reconstruction benefiting erstwhile ethnic foes. The prevailing peace and economic stability has catapulted tourism to the top of the performance list, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Land of a Thousand Hills who can witness through their own experience how the country has developed from a largely agriculture based society to become a hub of new technologies and communications. Having become an Anglophone country too has spurred added developments and global integration and the country is often hailed as the Switzerland of Africa if such a stereotype can even begin to explain how Rwanda now compares with other countries on the continent.
Visitors flying to Kigali, with national carrier RwandAir itself a distinct force for development now read on arrival that they have entered a corruption free zone, and security is evident, as is all else, when the travelers are driven into Kigali city, modern, well maintained and clean, almost belying the fact that this country would truly be located in the heart of Africa.
All these accolades have now resulted in the country being selected by fellow African nations to step up when South Africa current term as a non permanent member of the UN Security Council comes to an end in 10 months time, while Rwanda now has time to prepare the agenda in close cooperation with the African Union, what Africa stands for and expects from the rest of the world, come January 2013. Well done indeed and congratulations are in order, perhaps a bit early but most definitely deserved.
Rwanda aviation news – No mid year delivery for new regional jets as RwandAir extends time frame to late 2012
RWANDAIRS DECISION ON NEW JETS POSTPONED TILL LATER IN THE YEAR
It was learned from a regular source in Kigali, that the anticipated delivery of two brand new regional jets in the 100 seat range will be delayed until later in the year. Two aircraft manufacturers are said to be in the running for the order to replace two CRJ 200 jets, which no longer met the growing demand for seats on the routes they were deployed, and it is understood Bombardier is trying to sell their CRJ 900 series waiting for the highly acclaimed C-Series would probably take too long for RwandAir to wait for although it is a potential future aircraft to be considered while Embraer is trying to sell the E190 in a two class configuration, backed by the very likely launch of an East Africa based maintenance base facility to service these state of the art jets.
The source would not be drawn into a discussion over the reasons for the delay, leaving it open to speculation if further evaluations of offers and aircraft types are ongoing to determine the best options in terms of operations, training and maintenance cost in the long term, or if it is the ability of the most likely manufacturer to deliver an aircraft order in time, and put the financial package together, could be the overriding motive for the delay.
It could also not be ascertained what decision has been made, if any yet, to replace the Bombardier Dash 8-100 with a larger turboprop to meet the growing demand on the route from Kamembe to Kigali as well as on short regional flights, so there is much to look forward to about RwandAir in coming weeks and months. Watch this space to be sure not to miss the news when they break.
TANZANIAS NEW CROSS BORDER VEHICLE FEES DISOWNED BY GOVERNMENT
Information from Dar es Salaam overnight confirmed that the Minister for East African Cooperation Mr. Samuel Sitta, has denounced the introduction of a US D 200 border crossing vehicle fee 10 days ago as not sanctioned by government, saying it was a unilateral and unauthorized decision by border authorities.
There were rowdy scenes reported at the main land borders at Taveta and Namanga, when Tanzanian officials tried to extract the extra payment, prompting a range of measures from in particular Kenya, which yesterday sent a high ranking delegation to Dar es Salaam to seek clarification on the issue and demand an immediate withdrawal of what has been called a punitive and discriminatory measure by a partner state in the EAC.
Traders and regular business travelers however let fly in much harsher terms as sentiments against Tanzania again boiled over, accusing the country to be lukewarm towards the East African Community, making doing business with them difficult through a range of non tariff barriers and being frankly paranoid about anything Kenyan according to a regular source from Nairobi. A leading business organization representative added: The restrictions on even the trade in shares, where the limits of foreign participation, and mind you, even us EAC member countries are termed foreign for the purpose of that restriction, are not good for the integration of our economies. Look at Uganda and Rwanda, they have NO limits at all and cross listing there, or having us invest in companies, is very easy now and helps them raise capital. Then there is the issue of work permits. Again, Rwanda and Uganda and Kenya are in agreement to do away with these requirements and limit the need for work permits to citizens from outside the EAC. Yet, Tanzania treats us as foreigners. They prohibit Ugandan, Rwandan and Kenyan safari companies to take their tourists to the national parks in Tanzania, while again between the other member states such prohibitive measures do not exist. They limit our charter airlines from Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya to fly safari passengers only to the main airports and prohibit landing in the parks to drop tourists off, making for unnecessary expenses and wasting time. We appreciate governments have to talk nice but I think the time has come to call Tanzanias bluff and let them show their true colours, either they are East Africans or they are not in which case let them part company. We are fed up with such things, taking 200 Dollars from someone crossing the border to sell or buy goods? And let us not be lied to, nothing happens in Tanzania without government sanction on that level. It was a move aimed against Kenya and against Kenyans and we had enough of it now.
Ugandan aviation sources yesterday again confirmed the restrictive handling of flight clearances for charters operating from Entebbe to Tanzania, claiming it undermined the spirit of East African cooperation and the various protocols in place governing EAC internal relations but also continental aviation resolutions like made in Lusaka and in Yamoussoukro.
No commitment was made by the minister though that the punitive and extortionist fee of US Dollars 200 would be lifted with immediate effect, only speaking of an upcoming site visit to gather additional information, leaving motorists crossing into Tanzania from neighbouring Kenya to suffer the fallout of apparent internal squabbles over jurisdiction. Watch this space.
KENYA AIRWAYS AND SKY TEAM PARTNERS LAUNCH GO AFRICA AIRPASS
Sky Team has announced the introduction of a comprehensive air pass for flights into and across Africa, based on the scheduled network of partner airline Kenya Airways via Nairobi. It is available for sale with immediate effect and flights booked can commence as of March 01st this year. All 15 Sky Team members are offering the deal, which will see rebates of up to 75 percent compared to published fares for travelers taking advantage of the offer.
Kenya Airways presently connects some 45 destinations across the African continent. The airpass must contain a minimum of 3 flight coupons and can hold as many as 16 flight coupons under one transaction. It requires no minimum stay and open jaw sectors are permitted, including multiple stops at any given point.
A number of member airlines from Sky Team are flying to African destinations besides Kenya Airways, like KLM / Air France, Alitalia and Delta Airlines, while soon to join Saudi Arabian Airlines and Middle East Airlines too have regular services to the African continent, making the airpass a highly valued commodity for travelers with multiple stops on the continent.
The source also re-confirmed that Korean Air, another Sky Team member, will commence flights from Seoul to Nairobi in June this year, adding a long expected and much needed new connection to the Far East, from which both trade and tourism in Kenya are set to benefit substantially. Watch this space for breaking and regular news from East Africas aviation sector.
BRUSSELS AIRLINES TO LAUNCH NEW AIRLINE IN CONGO
Information was confirmed by a source from Brussels Airlines that the Belgian flag carrier will launch flight operations in Congo through a new airline, 70 percent owned by SN with the balance of shares held by Congolese investors. Korongo Airlines, operating under IATA two letter code ZC, is expected to take to the skies in the early second quarter of 2012 and will operated three wetleased aircraft, all provided by Brussels Airlines.
The initial routes will be from Lubumbashi, where the airline is headquartered, to Kinshasa and Johannesburg, using a B737-300 while domestic routes will be added once the two additional BAE 146 planes have been deployed. The source specifically pointed out that all aircraft will remain registered in Belgium and will be subject to the EUs stringent safety and maintenance oversight, assuring passengers that this latest Congolese airline will indeed meet all expected safety standards. Congos civil aviation and other government departments have reportedly approved the importation of the three aircraft and granted all pre-requisit permits like an air services license and an air operators certificate. The flights to Kinshasa are due to be linked to the arrival of SNs scheduled services between Brussels and Kinshasa to provide convenient onward connections both ways.
Meanwhile has another SN source confirmed that passengers from Paris, connecting in Brussels to the airlines African services, including Kinshasa, can now check in their baggage a day early PLUS will get an added 9 free kilograms of added baggage allowance, limited to two checked pieces of luggage. This, it was pointed out, will make for a hassle free trip on the day of travel when individuals, but more so families, can concentrate on enjoying their journey instead of having to deal with bags and trolleys. Watch this space.