SEYCHELLES TOURISM LANDS RETOSA BOARD MEETING ALONGSIDE ROUTES AFRICA
The Midas touch of Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture continues unabated, as he just announced, upon his return from the SADC and RETOSA meetings in Mauritius, that Victoria will be the venue of the next RETOSA board meeting, just ahead of the time when Routes Africa 2012 is taking place between the 08th and 10th of July.
This will give added weight to the Routes Africa 2012 meeting, arguably increasing potential attendance and highlighting the importance of aviation to the tourism sectors of not just the islands but for the mainland countries on the continent of Africa. Airlines, Civil Aviation bodies and tourist boards will jointly map out how best in the future they can cooperate to increase traffic to Africa, which with a billion tourists expected to travel in 2012 receives only a minute percentage of global visitors, something urgently in need of changing.
Minister St. Ange also reiterated important points about the Routes Africa meeting when he said: Participants of the forum will include representatives from the Airline Industry, Tourism authorities and Civil Aviation Authorities and for this 2012 edition we are looking at the cruise ship businesses because our region remains an ideal venue for the fly-cruise business possibility options. Seychelles noted the importance to push forward the triangular approach to Tourism by consolidating the Tourism Authorities, Civil Aviation and Airlines with the added angle of cruise ship integration for this years edition of ROUTES AFRICA 2012.
He also reportedly used his presence at the Mauritius RETOSA meeting to re-iterate the need for SADC countries to work hand in hand in fighting piracy, an issue where the Seychelles have been acknowledged to have taken global leadership with their robust and determined responses when pirates attempting to enter the Seychelles waters are detected by aerial surveillance and then relentlessly hunted down. For up-to-date news from the Seychelles do not look any further but simply watch this space.
Archive for March, 2012
SEYCHELLES TOURISM LANDS RETOSA BOARD MEETING ALONGSIDE ROUTES AFRICA
2.000 PARLIAMENTARIANS ASSEMBLE IN KAMPALA
About 2.000 members of parliament from around the world are expected to come to Kampala for the International Parliamentary Union meeting, which is going to last for 6 days. Delegates who came early have already taken advantage of seeing some of Ugandas spectacular sights in the national parks, boosting #VisitUganda2012, a tag line developed after the Lonely Planet guide book company elevated the Pearl of Africa as their global number one destination for the current year. Others have reportedly opted to take post conference tours to visit the mountain gorillas in Bwindi National Park, or else see chimpanzees in Kibale, take the launch rides on the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park or see the Nile squeeze through a 7 metre wide gap in Murchisons Falls.
The meetings of the IPU will take place at both the Kampala Serena Conference Centre and the Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo, where today the official opening will take place in the presence of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
Ugandas tourism fraternity was needless to say excited and the Uganda Tourists Board was a key player in the preparation for the global conference, providing delegates and participants with material about where to visit and what to see. Other publications like The Eye (www.theeye.co.ug) will also be availed to the visitors showing the great variety of restaurants, art galleries and places to visit Kampala now has on offer for tourists. Official carrier for the event was Brussels Airlines which had key staff participate in the planning and preparation for the IPU Meeting in 2012.
For more information on the countrys tourism attractions see www.visituganda.com
Kenya Airways launches share rights issue amid breaking news of Eldoret becoming KQ’s fifth domestic destination.
The long awaited launch of Kenya Airways share rights issue yesterday in Nairobi was graced by the presence of President Mwai Kibaki, who in his keynote address called this financial transaction the biggest ever in the history of Kenya and the Eastern and Central African region before soundly endorsing Kenya Airways plans to embark on a major expansion drive, the intended 250 million US Dollars are expected to co-finance. He went on to say that Kenya Airways was the fastest growing airline on the African continent, prompting KLMs CEO Peter Hartman to publicly throw KLM / Air Frances support into the public domain too: The decision by the government to take up [their] rights gave KLM [the] confidence to do the same.
The unequivocal support by President Kibaki, who threw the weight of his government behind Kenya Airways, resulted in an immediate result when shortly after the function the International Finance Corporation announced that it would fully subscribe to their 25 million US Dollar share rights, and in addition finance a further 80 million US Dollars in additional debt / loans to help The Pride of Africa accomplish their plans in doubling their fleet in the medium term before embarking on the next stage, which by 2020 would see the fleet size triple compared to the 34 aircraft now in operation.
This announcement follows the previous commitment of KLM / Air France, holding 26 percent of the shares, and the Government of Kenya, holding 23 percent of the shares, to fully take up their combined 49 percent as well as other institutional shareholders in the run up to the function, propelling the start up take up ahead of the sale commencing on Monday to over 70 percent already, leaving only 30 percent of the new shares on offer to be sold and that should be easy according to a staff member of Standard Investment Bank. Financial analysts and other bankers present at the function also expressed their confidence that they expected this share issue to be oversubscribed, in particular with key shareholders already expressing their confidence in the future of the airline by making public announcements in support.
Presently some 60 percent of all shares issued are owned by Kenyan institutional and individual investors and the company shares are cross listed on all three major East African stock exchanges in Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam. This is the first time Kenya Airways came to the capital market since its IPO in 1996, which was equally oversubscribed at the time.
While at the function it was also learned that KQ will increase their daily frequencies to Zanzibar with double daily flights on weekends, to meet growing demand for travel to the Spice Island. Within Kenya the airline will also commence daily flights to Eldoret, using one of their Embraer 170 aircraft, effectively then covering all four international airports namely Nairobi JKIA, Mombasa, Kisumu and from midyear onwards Eldoret. This will be the fifth domestic destination considering KQ is also flying daily to Malindi.
On the fleet development front a senior airline official confirmed that another Embraer 190 will join the fleet in May this year before from July onwards the delivery of 9 more E190 is expected in monthly intervals. 2013, according to the same official, will be the year of the B737-800 when 10 such aircraft on order are expected to be delivered to Kenya Airways, before in 2014 the big expansion drive with wide bodied aircraft commences, seeing the long awaited B787 Dreamliner and several more B777 boost Kenya Airways long haul capacity.
Big plans by The Pride of Africa and big news for the readers as I report live from Nairobi. Watch this space.
NAIROBIS TOURISM FRATERNITY HEADS TO NGONG FOR MAGICAL KENYA SHOW
The Jockey Club of Kenya is partnering with the Kenya Tourist Board this weekend to bring Kenyans to the Ngong Race Course, to promote both horse racing as well as domestic tourism across the country, now generally known as #TembeaKenya.
The mini exhibition will be well timed, a week prior to the long Easter weekend, to give Nairobeans the overview of what special deals are on offer for them, at the coast as well as upcountry, inside and outside the safari parks. Said a staff of KTB during the just ended e-Tourism Conference to this correspondent: #TembeaKenya is now entering a new phase. Domestic tourism has to be affordable for a broad section of Kenyans who want to see their own country. Horse racing at Ngong is popular already with Kenyans and visitors from overseas. But we still can get more people to participate in such activities. And the mini exhibition is aimed to promote both family outings to the Ngong race course and will give last minute offers for a mini vacation over the long Easter weekend.
It has become official policy that by 2015 half of Kenyas tourism numbers are to be generated through domestic and regional tourism, reducing reliance on the often volatile markets overseas when political or economic events dampen interest and financial ability to travel long haul.
The Ngong Race Course is expected to be packed to capacity especially on Sunday 01st April, when the annual Kenya Derby is being run, this year sponsored by Spur Steak Ranches. A winning combination for sure between the Kenya Tourist Board and the Jockey Club of Kenya. Watch this space.
AIRTEL LAUNCHES RWANDA OPERATIONS
Africas largest mobile network operator, in terms of countries served, is today launching operations in Rwanda, where it will be the third company after MTN and TIGO, stepping into the void left when
RwandaTel, majority owned at the time by Gadaffi Libya, lost its license for not fulfilling terms and conditions and ignoring notices of compliance. The Rwandan government moved swiftly to restore competition when inviting mobile companies to apply for a license and Airtel won that bid, allowing it to expand in East Africa from Uganda and Kenya to Rwanda, one of the regions most vibrant economies.
Airtel, the African arm of Indias Bharti, is set to invest at least 100 million US Dollars as the company seeks to expand in Africa and offer services for voice and data. The operator is thought to rapidly roll out across the country with a 3.5+ data network, as they did in their other East African operations and will attempt to get back the nearly 600.000 subscribers RwandaTel had when the regulator threw the book at them.
Bharti is ranked as amongst the top five global mobile operators and with Rwanda coming on line today will be present in 17 African countries, serving notice of intent to continental market leader MTN of things to come. A source in Kigali recently put MTNs subscriber base to about 2.8 million with Tigo presently a distant second with about 1.5 million subscribers, but it is understood that many former RwandaTel subscribers and dissatisfied customers of the two present market leaders intend to switch to Airtel, as it offers regional roaming besides the undoubtedly attractive launch offers which will include subsidized state of the art phones, USB modems and low call tariffs. So when next coming to the Land of a Thousand Hills, there is a new kid on the block to make those calls home with and tell the amazing story of the Phoenix risen from the Ashes.
The annual Earth Hour, promoted by the World Wide Fund for Nature, in short WWF and others to raise environmental awareness, has clearly taken roots across the hospitality industry in Kenya, and the region for that matter.
At The Sarova Stanley, now 110 years old and located right in the heart of the city, posters remind guests that this Saturday night and every email sent out to clients has a header reiterating the message. Here the hotel group has gone a step further and committed to planting a tree for every like they can generate on their Facebook pages and with only a day and a bit left in March, do go on to the site, click your heart out and make sure that corporate Kenya can play their role in keeping the future green. It also carries a message NOT to print mails unless absolutely necessary, so that reduced use of paper can translate in less cutting of trees.
A quick survey, at places like the InterContinental Hotel where the e-Tourism Conference is taking place, but also at other leading hotels visited and called to ascertain their participation in Earth Hour revealed that the response was a 100 percent thumbs up in support.
Back home in Uganda, the Kampala Serena Hotel and the Sheraton Hotel Kampala are both as usual committed to observing the one hour lights out as is Marasa Africa doing it in their 6 lodges, three in Uganda and three in Kenya, and for that one hour on Saturday night, when across the globe the lights are being switched off, it will be emergency lighting only, or candles to enhance a romantic Saturday night out on the town. For more information on Earth Hour visit www.earthhour.org or as mentioned, find Sarova for their tree planting initiative via www.facebook.com/SarovaHotelsKenya and like them. Remember, any added like till 31st March midnight will add another newly planted tree somewhere in Kenya where it is much needed to keep the country green.
Kenya’s new tourism minister seeks 5 billion budget allocation from treasury to finance marketing and PR
(New tourism minister Danson Mwazo [left] and the former office holder Najib Balala [right])
At the handover from Hon. Najib Balala who had fallen victim to party politics and paid the price for standing up against his chairman Prime Minister Odinga to the newly appointed tourism minister Danson Mwazo smiles were put on display for the cameras, but the words that followed made it clear that it was not business as usual at the ministry. Balala has already cautioned that 2012 would be at best a year of consolidation, following a record sectoral performance in 2011 with over 98 billion Kenya Shillings in earning and a record number of tourist visitors recorded at airports, the Mombasa port and land borders. The new minister was swift to promise he would ask the treasury for the equivalent of 5 percent of the sectoral annual earnings to be ploughed back into the industry for marketing, product development and for targeted sectoral support, a figure with could amount to 5 billion Kenya Shillings, if only the treasury would be able to follow this logic and comply. In past years, inspite of Balalas considerably persuasive skills, the Kenya Tourist Board always got less than asked for and had to adjust action programmes and visible presence from a global scale to existing, new and emerging markets selected for their potential to immediately pay back with significant visitor number increases.
That said, opportunities are there to target new markets as Korean Air is commencing flights into Nairobi in April as is the Gulfs third largest airline Etihad, all of which will do their own promotion and marketing to fill their seats and which will undoubtedly complement the efforts of KTB and the Kenyan tourism private sector. In addition will national airline Kenya Airways push ahead with a fleet expansion which will see new destinations in Africa and beyond come on line soon, which should also stimulate traffic and bring more visitors to the country. For now though, the new minister has his work cut out for him to restore confidence amongst the stakeholders, many of whom today at the launch of the e-Tourism Conference in Nairobi expressed strong sentiments about the change of guard at the helm of the tourism ministry at such a crucial moment in time, as the country counts down to a general and presidential election and struggles with sluggish market performances from the traditional markets like Britain, where a press release earlier in the week by Hayes and Jarvis painted a grim picture of forward bookings. Watch this space.
The third East African e-Tourism Conference, sponsored by the InterContinental Hotel Nairobi, The Kenya Commercial Bank, VISA and the Kenya Tourist Board has gone underway today in Kenyas capital Nairobi, with over 200 attendees filling the conference room to the brim. Keynote speaker on opening was IHGs Karl Hala, Director of Operations for Africa, as the Minister for Tourism in view of the recent cabinet changes was unable to attend what would have been Danson Mwazos first opportunity to meet the who is who in the tourism industry and make an introductory impact on them. Others speaking during the opening session were KTBs CEO Muriithi, Damian Cook of e-Tourism Frontiers, then followed by Richard Trillo of Rough Guides whose publications have become a must read handbook for visitors to Kenya.
Other key presentations during the morning sesson were made by Victoria Delaney of TripAdvisor, Sally Broom of tripbod and Louise Dreisig of Expedia, bringing key international e-commerce leaders into the room and sharing their expertise and insights of how best to tap into the fast growing social media segment of marketing services and products and catapult the tourism industry in East Africa truly into the 21st century.
2 tightly packed days, inclusive of networking sessions over tea breaks and lunches, are now unfolding and an attentive audience is already glued to the multimedia presentations with questions and answer sessions showing just how keen the interest is amongst leading Kenyan stakeholders to adopt and embrace the new technologies and make an impact via the social networks.
The afternoon session was started with a 90 minute presentation and Q&A session by Justin Reid of betapond. Justin, the former head of digital services at Visit Britain was sharing his own work experience at one of the most visible tourism promotion bodies in the world while then giving hand on advice on how to create, build and manage a Facebook campaign for tourism businesses.
After the coffee break came two more captivating presentations from Rob McLean of SATPACK and by Michelle Vickers of RAS MBISI, a unique bare foot lodge on Mafia Island, located in the Indian Ocean off the Tanzanian mainland. Michelle has embraced e-marketing via social media her main focus of promoting travel to Mafia island and by the look of it that strategy worked for her as Ras Mbisi has topped the TripAdvisor rankings persistently, earning her global recognition and attention.
A number of Kenyan and international speakers will make the programme for Friday when in particular case studies in a hands on fashion will be presented and discussed with participants to give them the understanding and skills to refocus their own companies marketing and presence on the social media.
Visit www.e-tourismfrontiers.com for more details or follow Damien on Twitter via @daminacook or on Facebook via www.facebook.com/etourismfrontiers
The annual general meeting last evening of the Skal Club of Kampala saw Kainembabazi Sabiti re-elected as club president for another term of office. In her work life Kaine is General Manager for Amadeus in Uganda, also overseeing Rwanda and Burundi. Vice President is James Rattos, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel and Club Secretary for the new year will be the Seychelles Tourism Ambassador to Uganda and Managing Director of UTB / Express Travel Pearl Hoareau. The membership also elected Mohit Advani as Treasurer, returned Marinka Sanc George as Programme Director for a sterling job done as always, and Mani Khan of Marasa Africa was elected a committee member again alongside Monalisa Aman and the former German Ambassador to Uganda Klaus Holderbaum, who is now a Senior Presidential Advisor to President Museveni.
Congratulations to the new office holders and SKAL to all.
RWANDA DEVELOPMENT BOARD RESPONDS WITH BETTER SERVICE CAMPAIGN
Hot on the heels of growing demands by the private sector stakeholders that Rwanda needs more training for staff working in the hospitality industry, has the Rwanda Development Board Tourism and Conservation responded with a dedicated campaign launched yesterday in Kigali, promoting quality services at all levels.
Clare Akamanzi, COO of the RDB was on stage with Rica Rwigamba, Head of Tourism and Conservation, at the launch of the initiative called Na Yombi or loosely translated into English to receive clients with courtesy.
RDB has been at the forefront to support and facilitate more training in the tourism industry, not just for hotel personnel but also for guides, but has also acknowledged that capacity constraints must be overcome and more training opportunities be made available for more newcomers to the sector as well as for those already in the workplace. Towards that end RDB is working hand in hand with the private sector, the Workplace Development Authority and the Ministry of Labour to adequately address the growing need for qualified and well trained staff deployed in positions where they encounter local and foreign customers. Better service levels translater into better yields for the sector. The country has plenty of top rate attractions and while we develop more under diversification plans we also have to train competent and well spoken staff. Then we can fully exploit the earning potential from tourism because foreign visitors expect good services and are ready to pay for them a leading stakeholder said on condition of anonymity, not apparently wanting to take the attention and spotlight away from the two lead ladies from RDB. Only last week did Ms. Rwigamba say to this correspondent during a lengthy meeting on the future of tourism to Rwanda: We work with the private sector associations on all issues which can improve performance. We encouraged the private sector to get organized, speak through an association because it makes dialogue easier. In fact we meet with many of them several times a month when needed to resolve matters arising before they become problems. In the same conversation Ms. Rwigamba also stressed the boards commitment to support training and use monitoring mechanisms to establish, maintain and improve quality standards in Kigali and upcountry at the key tourism destinations of Volcanoes, Nyungwe and Akagera national parks but also along the birding trails outside the parks and along the Congo Nile Trail which was launched in December last year. Watch this space.