LAMU TRAVEL ADVISORY CHANGED SUBSTANTIALLY
It was learned overnight from a Nairobi based senior tourism stakeholder that the British government and High Commission in Kenya has significantly reduced the off limits advice which was in place for visits to the ancient coastal town of Lamu.
Previously the area was up to 150 kilometres from the Somali border, reaching well beyond Lamu itself, but has now been trimmed to only 60 kilometres, to which all but essential travel should be avoided.
The Lamu tourism trade has welcomed this development and hailed the progress made by the Kenyan armed forces which have since the hit and run attacks by Al Qaida affiliate Al Shabaab last year gone deep into Somali to clear the country of militants and pirates, and is now working as part of AMISOM, the UN and AU mission to bring peace to the Horn of Africa.
Not changed in language or substance however were general advisories to British travelers intent to coming to Kenya about the general threat of terrorism in Nairobi and Mombasa in particular, something other tourism sources immediately took issue with. Said one regular contributor: We had a few isolated incidents since our army went after those terrorists in Somali, but nothing has happened to any tourist hotel or resort because security has been stepped up very much since then. Kenya has learned some big lessons and hotels and resorts, even restaurants, have individual additional security in place which is greatly improved since last years events in Lamu. Of course we are telling tourists to be observant and vigilant wherever they travel on safari or on excursions from their resorts. But this is no different from what visitors to London are told also, to be observant and vigilant. Many travel advisories are only in place because the foreign offices fear legal repercussions if they do not overstate warning and visitor numbers show that tourists know about these connections. They still travel and we are grateful for that.
Good news nevertheless for Lamu and the nearby resorts, which will have renewed hope now that 2012 will make up for the losses sustained when tourism literally came to a standstill, and good news for Lamu and its cultural and religious festivals, which will undoubtedly be sell outs once again. Visit www.magicalkenya.com for more destination information or www.kws.org for details on marine national parks and reserves along Kenyas Indian Ocean coast.
Archive for May 4th, 2012
LAMU TRAVEL ADVISORY CHANGED SUBSTANTIALLY
The AFRAA promoted joint fuel purchasing project, which the African Airline Association launched last year as reported here at the time, will continue with a new deal extending until the end of 2013. Initially underwritten by 9 member airlines which included at the time Kenya Airways, Precision Air, Ethiopian Airlines, RwandAir, Air Seychelles, Air Namibia, TAAG, Air Mozambique and Air Malawi, for the next phase at least 5 more AFRAA member airlines have expressed their desire to join the scheme and benefit from lower tariffs for the contract period. This, it was pointed out overnight, would not affect the fuel hedging deals individual airlines have put into place.
It was also learned from the same source that AFRAA, previously comprising some 32 member airlines, has during the last meeting received a further 4 membership applications and approved them, which include Starbow Airlines from Ghana, Camair from Cameroon amongst others.
A source from Nairobi conceded that the scheme had initial teething problems, in particular where member airlines are subject to exchange control regulations at home, making payments in foreign exchange difficult for some, but that eventually most of the early challenges had been overcome, resulting in an extension of the scheme and the likely participation by more airlines over and above the initial nine.
The same source also mentioned that efforts by AFRAA to have the EUs ETS suspended and turned over to global aviation body ICAO working hand in hand with IATA, were ongoing. In this connection it was learned that countries opposed to the scheme like China, Russia, India and the US were now also starting to apply pressure on the EU with thinly concealed threats to block a wider global climate deal in the next round of UN sponsored negotiations, unless the EU would suspend their ETS and return to the negotiating table.
Watch this space for regular aviation updates from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.
NGOS TURN INTO ACCOMPLICES FOR CRIMES AGAINST THE ENVIRONMENT
7 NGOs based in Arusha seem to have had a sudden change of mind, and a change of financial fortunes by the look of it, as they did a U-turn and are now advocating to build a tarmac road across the Serengeti.
Brand new, state of the art, websites, developed by whom and paid for with what money is now the big question, are indicative that they have found sponsors with deep pockets, willing to underwrite their activities for just as long as the organizations in question do actually support the Tanzanian governments position that the road must be build, by hook or crook.
A short while ago did Germany conclude a 23.5 million Euro financing package for Tanzania, aimed to promote the building of the highway around the Southern part of the Serengeti National Park, where it reaches a multiple in terms of populations and will avoid the migration routes of the wildebeest and zebras.
In the same breath was it also learned that the hate whisperers in Tanzania are once more fueling anti Kenyan sentiment, this time against ANAW, which has brought a suit against the government in Dar es Salaam before the East African Court of Justice, dealing the powers that be several blows, first by having objections against the case being heard by the EACJ in Arusha thrown out by the appellate division of the court and then having the court publicly reaffirm that they are entirely competent under their setting up statute to hear such cases. At that stage the Registrar of the East African Court of Justice delivered a sound slap in the face of official Tanzania when he stated that the court invited more such cases in the future by parties aggrieved and not getting the justice they were seeking within their national judiciary system.
The social media networks, in particular via the 46.033 member strong Stop the Serengeti Highway campaign on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/STOP-THE-SERENGETI-HIGHWAY/125601617471610?ref=ts and via www.savetheserengeti.org are full of buzz and commentaries on this scandalous behaviour, where principle, morals and ethics were sold for the proverbial 30 silver coins, as Judas got for his betrayal of Jesus.
In the latest development it was learned that the Tanzanian government has now employed delaying tactics before the East African Court of Justice, when the government council earlier in the week stated that government was not yet ready and prepared to proceed, shedding light on some suggestions made to this correspondent that the Tanzanian government is attempting to create facts on the ground, or else try and mobilize fresh support for their ill begotten plans to build a highway across the Serengetis migration route in total disregard of not just the injunction by the EACJ but also against world opinion. Watch this space as the assault on Tanzanias environment continues and the Corridor of Destruction further gains shape.
Public transport on the islands of Mahe and Praslin is vested in the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation, which provides up to 60.000 Seychellois [out of a total population of about 87.000] on a busy day with the means to get to school, to work, to do the daily shopping or to see friends across the two islands. Earlier in the week did China make good of a promise made during the last state visit by President James Michel in 2011 and handed over a gift of 10 brand new buses to the company, aimed to boost capacity and operate more services. Present at the handover ceremony were Transport and Internal Affairs Minister Joel Morgan, Foreign Minister Jean-Paul Adam and the Chinese Ambassador to the Seychelles Shi Zhongjun, besides SPTC board members and senior management. This welcome addition to the SPTC fleet comes ahead of the planned introduction of park and ride for the capital Victoria, which although the smallest capital in the world with only just over 20.000 inhabitants is suffering increasingly of traffic congestion, something the use of busses into the city from points on the periphery is hoped to alleviate in the future.
While quintessential for Seychellois citizens, who do not travel by car, the bus company is also a convenient way to see and explore the two islands for tourist visitors, for a single trip fee of 5 Seychelles Rupees or about 40 US Cents. Marketing of the archipelago has in recent years paid more emphasis on Affordable Seychelles and the tourist board has been working hand in hand with Seychellois investors in guest houses, bed & breakfast establishments, holiday villas and self catering cottages, to promote this segment abroad to a wider audience. Those are tourists who could not afford the top class resorts and pay several hundred Euros a day in a 5 star hotel, but can still come to the islands for a holiday of a lifetime by using guest houses or self catering resorts.
As personally seen once again during a recent visit to the Seychelles, bus stops are conveniently located near or even in front of such hill side or beach side guest houses, allowing tourists to walk the short distance to the bus stop and catch a ride to the city, or to other parts of the island, anytime between 05.30 a.m. when services start in the morning until at least 07.30 p.m. in the evening. This permits self made day excursions at a cost of next to nothing, avoiding the often costly self drive car hire charges or the expensive use of taxis.
Establishments like the Chalet Anse Forbans in fact provide, as do many others it was discovered, their guests with printed bus schedules, which incidentally are also available via this link: www.sptc.sc/html_pages/schedule.html and actively help guest to spend the day touring Mahe. Guest house owners are often even including tips where local restaurants or take aways are located where self catering guests can eat at very affordable prices of as low as 50 Seychelles Rupees for a take away box feeding two, all aimed to make their visitors stay within their budget, and thus ensuring regular repeat visits, where tourists can experience the Seychelles, Another World at a price they can afford. Visit www.seychelles.travel for more information on Affordable Seychelles including an extensive list of available guest houses, self catering establishments often located right at a beach or just across the road from the beach bed & breakfast accommodation and holiday villas and apartments like on Eden Island. Watch this space.
With only just over 5 months to go until the 09th October, when Uganda will celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Independence from former colonial rulers Britain, the long awaited programme announcement will finally be made this coming Sunday by President Museveni.
Several leading tourism stakeholders had in recent weeks made their disappointment known with the lack of information reaching the general public and overseas markets and one regular contributor, more outspoken than others but also on condition of anonymity said: Honestly what took so long. We in Uganda wasted 7 good months we could have used to promote the country with this programme known in good time. I checked some of your articles on the 50th anniversary of the Tanganyika Independence Day from Britain. They had the programme ready 365 days in advance and used it to drum up support for their tourism. Kenya will have their jubilee next year and from friends in Nairobi I know they are in high gear to make their announcements when they celebrate Uhuru Day in December. Here we should have announced a programme of events for the whole year on Independence Day last year and then used it at WTM and then ITB and everywhere we got to promote Uganda.
The Lonely Planet guide made Uganda their top destination for 2012 and that could have been merged with all the other things. We should have had a calendar of cultural events, Ugandan art exhibitions, special tourism events for each of our parks running for the entire 12 months. It shows me that our government simply does not understand tourism and has failed us again like they fail us every year when they give our sector peanuts for funds. And about our tourist board, the president said it all at the meeting the other week at state house. Late like in most things, what a shame for our country.
When the programme is finally available be sure to find details here on what is still to come and to happen over the coming months, as the clock ticks down towards Ugandas 50th Independence Day on 09th October.
TURKISH AIRLINES SET FOR 16TH OF MAY INAUGURAL FLIGHT TO KIGALI
The long awaited arrival by Turkish Airlines in Kigali is now set for the 16th of May, i.e. in less than two weeks from now. Flights will initially connect Istanbul / Turkey with Kigali / Rwanda three times a week and the airline is going to use a B737-800 on the route.
Turkish Airlines arrival has been broadly welcomed by Rwandas tourism stakeholders, who have in the past been advocating for more airlines to come to Kigali, adding not only seat capacity into the market but also supporting destination marketing with their own sales and promotion activities across their respective networks.
In recent weeks did several Turkish business delegations come to Rwanda to explore opportunities for trade and investments, a critically important area for Rwandas economic future, but it is mainly the tourism industry which is set to benefit as travelers intending to visit the Land of a Thousand Hills will now be able to have wider choices.
Presently Kigali is served by RwandAir, the countrys national airline, Air Uganda from Entebbe, Kenya Airways from Nairobi, Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa, South African Airways from Johannesburg in conjunction with Bujumbura, Qatar Airways from Doha, Brussels Airlines and KLM, making the new arrival a much awaited and on the day a much celebrated event.
Qatar Airways delays A380 deliveries, announces plans to fly to 170 destinations worldwide within 3 years
QATAR AIRWAYS OPTS TO DELAY A380 DELIVERIES
Information was received that Qatar Airways appears to have opted to delay the delivery of their Airbus A380 orders for the time being. Due to receive the first of these giant aircraft by Q4 in 2013, the airline seems to have decided to wait longer to allow the European aircraft manufacturer to resolve the problems of cracks found in the wings of most of the aircraft delivered and now in service, which presently is a high priority by operators and Airbus under the watchful eyes of global aviation regulators.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker was quoted by a source at the just concluded Arabian Travel Market in Dubai as having said: We will defer the deliveries of our A380s until we have a clear position on the issue surrounding wing cracks which are under process of modification by Airbus, dealing another blow to Airbus after telling them off at the Dubai Air Show last year when he, tongue in cheek, told them to learn how to build planes, before handing them another batch of aircraft orders to put the smiles back on their initially red faces.
Meanwhile is Boeing expected to deliver the first B787 Dreamliner to Qatar Airways next month, the first of 60 such aircraft on order, which will make QR the first Gulf airlines operator of the revolutionary new plane and eventually the largest, when all of the ordered aircraft are in service. The airline presently takes delivery of a new aircraft every 15 days, comprising of both Airbus and Boeing aircraft.
The B787 will according to airline sources be showcased first at the Farnborough Air Show in the UK in June, before briefly returning to Boeing to receive some additional fittings before going into service.
Al Baker also stunned his audience at the ATM 2012 in Dubai when he announced a substantially increased rollout plan of new destinations in coming years, raising the ceiling to 170 destinations worldwide, raising hopes amongst the two key manufacturers Airbus and Boeing for additional orders of B777, B787, A320, A330, A350 and A380 aircraft in the future and for certain raising expectations of announcements at the Farnborough Air Show in June.
These developments are bound to substantially benefit travelers of Qatar Airways to and from Eastern Africa, where the airline is set to increase their present reach from currently 4 to 7 destinations by the end of the year, after adding Kilimanjaro in July, Mombasa in August and according to available information Zanzibar by November. Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news.