CONTRAVENING SOUTHERN BYPASS LICENSE MAY BRING PROJECT TO A HALT
Following information received some weeks ago that the East Africa Wildlife Society, ANEW African Network for Endangered Wildlife and Dr. Paula Kahumbu were seeking to take government to court over the routing of the Southern Bypass through the Nairobi National Park, has NEMA now too gone on record. NEMAs Executive Director was quoted overnight in a mail from a regular conservation source in Nairobi to have threatened to withdraw the license granted if any of the terms and conditions would be altered by government or disrespected by the contractors. George Wahungu reportedly said: The Kenya National Highways Authority is expected to adhere to the conditions of the licence and hence ensure that there is no encroachment of the Nairobi National Park during the construction of the Bypass which was issued in February 2011 and specifically prohibits any encroachment of national park land. Government however two weeks ago took a cabinet decision to permit the route to cut into the park land and carve out at least 150 acres, some sources claim it will be more in fact, while beyond the park the equally protected Ngong Forest is said to be even more affected. Similar plans also emerged last year over plans leaked to the media of attempts to have a bypass highway around Nakuru routed through the Lake Nakuru National Park, which equally saw emotions running high at the time.
Conservationists see their case as a litmus test of being able to stop government, this one and future ones, to be categorically stopped from touching even one square inch of that land, as it would set the precedent for future incisions into park land for either leisure projects at the edge of the park or housing estates, where the sheer value of the land so near the capital would have developers salivate over the prospects of making an absolute fortune of it. Social networks like Twitter and respective Facebook pages are awash with comments, overwhelmingly opposing the use of park land while equally though questions are asked where the bypass should be routed to avoid the park and yet be financeable. Questions galore and few answers until very likely a court will decide and the decision then be appealed to the highest court in Kenya. Watch this space.
Archive for June 2nd, 2012
CONTRAVENING SOUTHERN BYPASS LICENSE MAY BRING PROJECT TO A HALT
RWANDA DEVELOPMENT BOARD GIVES BACK TO COMMUNITIES
Ms. Rica Rwigamba, Head of Tourism and Conservation at the Rwanda Development Board, has in a statement released yesterday underscored how over 1.4 billion Rwanda Francs was spent during the past 8 years in support of community based projects for the provision of water, sanitation, schools and other social amenities. By law RDB is required to give back a 5 percent revenue share to the communities neighbouring the currently three national parks of Volcanoes, Nyungwe and Akagera and according to Rica over 220 projects have since the inception of the scheme been financed and completed. The annual disbursement grew from an initial RWF 41 million in 2005 to RWF 256 million this year, as arrivals to Rwanda grew to 908.000 visitors in 2011, generating an estimated gross revenue of US Dollars 252 million for the country. She also attributed the schemes benefits to a significant reduction of poaching and encroachment of parks as the communities now act as watch dogs besides the rangers and wardens to keep the gorillas and national parks safe. In Akagera in particular the communities are now protected by an electric fence from straying animals which in the past not only raided farms but also destroyed other property and caused injuries and loss of life.
The annual naming of young born gorillas, Kwita Izina, will be held this year on June 16th outside Ruhengeri / Musanze at the park head quarters, preceded as every year by a number of community based activities, bringing the spotlight once again to The Land of A Thousand Hills where conservation is not just preached but actively practiced across the land. Watch this space for live updates from Rwanda in two weeks time.
MAURITIUS CARNIVAL DIFFERENT VIEWS AND DIFFERENT NEWS
In what must have been a communication from a supporter of embattled MTPA chief Karl Mootoosamy an opinion was expressed to this correspondent, which shows the growing lager mentality of those close to Karl and his inner circle. A broadside of allegations was fired off against the Seychelles Minister for Tourism Alain St. Ange with expressions ranging from he is running circles around Mauritius over what business did he have to meet our media and turn them against us to he is using the Vanilla Island bla bla bla to form a coalition against Mauritius and challenge our leadership besides some other rather unprintable utterances. This outburst appears to have been inspired by Minister St. Anges recent presence as Guest of Honour at the Madagascar International Tourism Fair, where he called upon fellow Vanilla Islands to stand together and work together to promote travel into the entire region and seek ways and means to more effectively connect the islands by air, something the forthcoming Routes Africa Conference also intends to address. While in Madagascar Minister St. Ange also got support from other Vanilla Islands to hold a special meeting of this marketing cooperative in the Seychelles on July 11th, an idea promoted and supported by La Reunion, Mayotte and Madagascar. This meeting will take place alongside the RETOSA Board meeting, the ICTP Annual General Meeting and the Routes Africa Conference, from which Air Mauritius seems to be as conspicuously absent as was the MTPA from the Carnival International de Victoria back in March.
All this goes to show the increasing division and disagreements between sections of the Mauritius tourism industry, many of whom have expressed their concern over MTPA trying to engage in a Don Quichotte like fight with the Seychelles at huge cost to the Mauritius taxpayers without achieving any meaningful contribution to raising the islands international profile but rather sullying it by being accused of Copy and Paste practices, indicating a regime at the tourism promotion authority gone bankrupt of their own original ideas.
Wrote a regular source from Port Louis: They first copied the Creole Festival which was staged in Seychelles and that was by any measure a costly flop for us. I have followed your articles on Seychelles and how they turned tourism around since 2009 when St. Ange was brought on board to revive STB. Seychelles Tourism, at least according to you in past articles going back to 2010, suffered of a bureaucratic regime with no new ideas and St. Ange reformed all of that. Next I remember the old regime was pushed out and St. Ange made CEO when it became clear he had the Midas touch the way you put it once and inspired change. Now he is even the Minister for Tourism so he must have done his job very well at STB.
Since he came Seychelles has been in the media and you call it a juggernaut and it is true. He did what we should do in Mauritius and here I am saying copying this strategy would be good for us. Use Mauritius citizens abroad with links to the media and tourism to be our eyes and ears and mouthpieces on the ground. Use motivated and skilled Mauritius citizens to staff key tourist offices abroad and do the job like the Seychellois are doing. They do not use a very expensive agency to tell the public in the main producer markets what we should tell them, what we know best, which is how beautiful Mauritius is and why tourists should come here. We have to use the media more effectively and I think you are a good example of how your portrayal of Seychelles in eTurboNews and on your blog has helped to put Seychelles in the spotlight. And I also agree with some of your articles about Air Mauritius when you wrote that past cooperation in the region between all three major airlines could have saved them all. That is now way beyond us but at least we should seek a strategic partner for Air Mauritius and stop pretending we can rescue that airline on our own. Again, Air Seychelles was given marching orders by the government in Victoria and the results are beginning to show with a revival now that they have Etihad as partner.
We need fundamental change in our tourism promotion set up and the way we do things and not look for enemies where we should look for friends and allies.
From a media release obtained it seems that Hills Balfour was tasked to promote the carnival festival, due to be held in a few weeks already with minimum time for preparation, but has enlarged the brief to include a week long shopping festival on Mauritius, a vain attempt to once again copy the hugely successful shopping extravaganzas for instance held annually in Dubai, where most important prices are vastly lower than on Mauritius and where in particular Emirates provides special fares at much more affordable rates for that purpose than what a ticket to Mauritius costs. Added the same source when specifically asked about this turn of events: We are not a shopping island but a fantastic beach destination. We cannot compete for consumer goods prices with Dubai for instance as you asked. Emirates gives a big extra baggage allowance for people coming to their annual Dubai shopping festival and there is no sign Air Mauritius has put out special fares just five weeks ahead of the event or is doubling the baggage allowance for visitors to carry their things home without paying the very high extra baggage cost. Has MTPA maybe finally figured out what a terrible mistake they have made and are now trying to sell the idea as a shopping carnival? Whichever way, it is bound to flop.
What is patently clear here is that there are serious divisions within Mauritius tourism and whether ethnicity does play the role it has been suggested to this correspondent it allegedly does is almost paling by the impact of fragmenting the industry into camps and thus preventing a united line, a united stand and a united concept to promote the island abroad. Watch this space as the clock ticks down now towards the June 28th to July 05th period during which the carnival was to be hosted and the shopping festival is now being pushed as a supplement if not substitute.