AIR SEYCHELLES PLAN FOUR FLIGHTS A WEEK TO JOHANNESBURG FROM 2013
Information has come to light that the Seychelles national airline intends to double their presently two flights per week between Mahe and Johannesburg to four from January next year, when more aircraft will have joined the fleet. Due to arrive first is an Airbus A330-200 to be followed by an Airbus A320, with a second A330-200 expected to join Air Seychelles either late in 2012 or first thing in the new year.
It could not be established if at that stage the route will be served with the A320 as currently the A330 is being used to fly to South Africa, an important market from the African mainland for the archipelago.
Meanwhile has Routes Africa announced that more airlines have signed up to participate in the event which this year will take place at the Kempinski Seychelles Resort on the main island of Mahe. Confirmed for the July 08th 10th the meeting is taking place alongside the meeting of the RETOSA Board, which brings together the Tourism Ministers of the SADC region. Airlines confirmed so far include even fast growing RwandAir, which is set to accelerate their planned network rollout with new destinations according to new General Manager Commercial Mr. Bert van der Stege, who however was not quite ready yet to spill the bean bag on where exactly they were planning to go next after revealing just 10 days ago that Mwanza, Tanzanias lake side city on Lake Victoria, would become destination 14 for them. Notably is Kenya Airways, aka The Pride of Africa still missing from the list as are a few others like Egypt Air, Air Uganda but also Air Mauritius.
The latter is thought to be kept out of the meeting over growing undercurrents seen in recent days since it became known that MTPA had done a Copy and Paste job on the Carnival International de Victoria, widely perceived as a doing the dirty backstabbing on the Seychelles, now making it nearly impossible to look them into the eye from anywhere close up.
South African Airways
Mega Maldive Airlines
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Expect updates in the run up to the Routes Africa 2012 Conference and on conference results and new deals struck.
KENYA TOURISM STANDS TOGETHER TO FACE AFTERMATH OF NAIROBI INCIDENT
Key stakeholders from the private and public sector as well as association leaders have stood up to be counted yesterday and condemned the criminal masterminds and perpetrators of the bombing of a shop on Moi Avenue, which injured according to the latest figures some 27 people, some still in critical but stable condition.
While in Kenya during the past two weeks it could be ascertained that the arrival numbers for Q1, compared with last years record breaking performance, reduced from 313.691 to 312.258, probably also still caused by events since August last year, which prompted a full scale military engagement from Kenyas armed forces against militant Islamist terror groups which previously roamed Southern Somalia at will and perpetrated a number of cross border attacks into Kenyan territory. With the Lamu anti travel advisories however largely lifted a few weeks ago, as was reported here, the mood of cautious confidence has been restored in the sector, though no one is happy with the governments reduction by 5 percent of the annual budget for tourism marketing, which after inflation has been factored in can amount to up to 20 percent less in real term spending power compared to 2011/12.
Senior association leaders have voiced critique and are said to be in talks with government over re-evaluating its position and add extra funds, especially now that the Nairobi incident of Monday will further impact on sectoral performance.
Said one regular and trusted source on phone before leaving Kenya yesterday: This blast, even so no one was killed, highlights our problems to provide universal full security everywhere at all times. Resorts, hotels, restaurants take it very seriously and you have seen the level of security in place at all the coast resorts, at the Nairobi hotels. Remember last we talked not one tourist visitor came to harm in 2008, not in any of the events since August but for the one foreign resident and the one couple shot and abducted from Kiwayu by foreign based intruders. When something happens in Kenya the foreign media often make us look like a hooligan country full of violence. Compare with the UK and their violent crime rate for instance. The foreign media all the time have a field day with us and I exclude you and eTurboNews.com because you always show the facts and not take that insane pleasure others do to bash us. But that apart, we have a struggle at hand in Kenya to match last years figures and will probably miss them by a bit. The other issue is that we really want to see a firm commitment to the March election dates for next year and not wake up one morning and it is December suddenly. We must be allowed to have the high season run uninterrupted and then have the elections fall into the low season period where it will do less impact. The biggest issues now are two, to have government commit more funds for marketing of tourism, start the construction of the Mombasa International Convention Centre and focus on market diversification and secondly we internally must work on product upgrading. When someone says some of the beach resorts are tired, it is true. We need innovation and changes. Over the past years we had one major new beach resort open, Swahili Beacb in Diani, but several others closed for various reason. One burns but is not rebuild, the others go into receivership and close and other pretend they renovate during the low season but close for lack of business. We have exceptions of course, you just saw some when you were in Mombasa last week, so you know which ones are doing ok but we as a sector must face up. Traffic in and out of Mombasa is a nightmare, traffic in and out of Nairobi especially from JKIA is a nightmare. The road to the Mara is a nightmare. So let us meet our challenges internally and gather our leaders and frankly talk about the tourism we want for the future and act on recommendations made there and let us find the funds to promote more, like Egypt and South Africa for instance. They are spending mega bucks for Egypt to recover from the revolution and South Africa has been spending on marketing since before the World Cup in 2010. If we in Kenya want to succeed, we must invest and invest wisely and a lot. I wish you could come over more often and talk to our associations and with KTB and share your experience because you travel all over the region, have worked in the sector and taught in the sector and we need such resource persons to set us on the right path.
It is understood that tourism minister Dan Mwaze did meet with tourism industry representatives yesterday in Nairobi to discuss the situation and what measures government could take in mitigating the effects but only time can tell what will actually be done as opposed what the industry wants to see done. Watch this space.
RWANDA GUIDES SIT FOR EXAMS PART ONE OF FOUR
While in Kigali it was learned through a number of contacts that the Rwanda Safari Guide Association has yesterday for the first time offered their members to sit for exams for Bronze Status, the entry level for recognized guides to be certified according to both regional and international standards. Encouraged by the support of the Rwanda Development Board and the Private Sector Federations Tourism Chamber at least 100 new trainee guides will be able to understudy and read up on topics before later in the year also undergoing examination. Those who excelled in yesterdays exams will be able to progressively sit for their silver, gold and platinum standards, the latter of which would certify them to be on top of their profession, commanding not just very much higher fees but effectively showing visitors that Rwanda now has well trained personnel working in tourisms front line.
Kenya presently has the best developed system through their professional safari guide association and their efforts have paid significant dividends by injection greater competence, knowledge and skills into the guiding profession while other countries like Tanzania are still working on modalities of how best to define common standards of training and certification, while in Uganda it was the Uganda Safari Guide Association which pioneered the first training sessions and exams years ago when being offered support by the EUs Uganda Sustainable Tourism Development Programme.
RDBs Tourism and Conservation Department under Rica Rwigamba has actively promoted human resource development and skills transfers into the sector to produce more qualified local staff, able to more efficiently entre the workplace or else improve their knowledge while already on the job somewhere.
In a related development is the final countdown now underway for Kwita Izina 2012, which will see a nearly week long programme of activities and conservation meetings culminate in the naming of the new born mountain gorilla babies in Musanze / Ruhengeri on Saturday 16th June, when live tweets and updates will come from the foot hills of the volcanoes which tower over the festival grounds. Watch this space.