NOT A GOOD DAY FOR KENYA
The first bit of bad news reached in the morning, that Mrs. Michuki, who only buried her husband some three months ago after the principal owner of the Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club had passed away, also died in the early hours of the day. This robbed the Windsor of two of the owning principals within months, leaving staff and management dumbstruck of why fate had to be so cruel.
The next bit of bad news came at lunch time, that Mombasa Air Safaris lost a LET 410 in a crash in the Masai Mara, with 2 pilots and 2 passengers killed on impact after attempting to take off, leaving a further 3 passengers critically injured. That bit of news already went viral on the social networks after breaking the news a few hours ago.
Now did news come in via the BBC of a tribal clash in the Tana River area of Coast Province, which left at least 48 people dead in what appears to be a violent backlash over grazing rights on fertile pastures.
Amongst the 48 were a 31 women and 11 children who got reportedly burned in their huts after attackers from the rival tribe has set the homesteads alight, while the six men died fighting, being hacked to death by machetes. The two tribes, the Orma and Pokomo, have been attempting to get control over the pastures to ensure their herds are well fed and watered and found no formula to share access to the land, landing them in a violent battle for supremacy.
Kenyas tourism sector is said to be stunned by the BBC report which just broke into the international domain but one source from the coast already expressed his regret over this latest piece of bad news saying is it ever going to end. This series of bad news today affecting tourism is terrible and will give us bad publicity for a while to come. The crash was bad and it is deeply regretted that people died but the mention of Coast Province in regard of these killings is very misleading. The Tana area where this happened is a very long way off what people overseas understand as coast. There is no link to our resorts here and no threat to our visitors safety. It should be pointed out that the incident, as bad as it sounds, is a long distance off and reflects age old customs and tribal rivalries which were allowed to spill over instead of having a peaceful resolution for their dispute
Mrs. Agatha Juma, CEO of the Kenya Tourism Federation, in response to a question asked by this correspondent about the incident said: It is very scary that our government has not used their intelligence and information to prevent such incidents from happening, it is not good for our reputation as a destination.
Other coastal sources have agreed that this will increase their challenge to keep hotel occupancies up as the negative publicity races around the world, with figures already down by over 20 percent compared with a year ago for coastal resorts. Indeed, not a good day for Kenya, so watch this space to see good news return to the headlines.
Archive for August 22nd, 2012
NOT A GOOD DAY FOR KENYA
In a breaking news development in Kenya it was reported that Mombasa Air Safaris suffered a fatal crash in the Masai Mara at Ngerende airstrip near the Mara Safari Club, with both pilots of the aircraft killed as well as at least one passenger. The aircraft had arrived from Mombasa, via Amboseli and had disembarked 6 passengers according to details provided by the Kenya Tourism Federation. When taking off the plane inexplicable crashed, killing the two pilots and two passengers with 3 more sustaining serious injuries. The Kenyan Flying Doctors, aka AMREF, are on site treating the injured before airlifting them to Nairobi for hospital care.
The Czech built LET 410, a 19 seater twin engined turboprop aircraft proven to perform at both higher elevations and high temperatures, was reportedly completely destroyed in the crash. According to Wikipedia information on the airline, in 1998 a 19 seat LET 410 crashed immediately after takeoff from Ol Kiombo airstrip in the Masai Mara. No passengers were on board. Both pilots died. The accident report found no technical problem and cited possible pilot error with the flap settings.
Still more details about the current crash are being sought, and updates will be filed as soon as additional information has been received.
Watch this space closely. Meanwhile are condolences expressed to the families and friends of the two pilots and the two tourists, and the other three casualties this crash has caused.
In a breaking news development in Kenya it was reported that Mombasa Air Safaris suffered a fatal crash in the Masai Mara at Ngerende airstrip near the Mara Safari Club, with both pilots of the aircraft killed as well as at least one passenger. At this moment of reporting it could not be established if the plane crashed upon landing or take off and what the circumstances were such as weather or the presence of birds in the flight path. The Czech built LET 410, a 19 seater twin engined turboprop aircraft proven to perform at both higher elevations and high temperatures, was reportedly destroyed in the crash. According to Wikipedia information on the airline, in 1998 a 19 seat LET 410 crashed immediately after takeoff from Ol Kiombo airstrip in the Masai Mara. No passengers were on board. Both pilots died. The accident report found no technical problem and cited possible pilot error with the flap settings.
More details about the current crash are being sought, such as how many passengers were on board, were possibly injured or escaped unharmed and updates will be filed as soon as this information has been received.
Watch this space closely. Meanwhile are condolences expressed to the families and friends of the two pilots, and any other casualties this crash has caused.
WINDSOR GOLF HOTEL AND COUNTRY CLUB MOURNS DOUBLE BLOW
Only weeks after the untimely death of the principal owner of Kenyas premier golf resort, the late Hon. John Michuki, Minister in President Kibakis government, his wife has also passed away this morning at the Nairobi Hospital, throwing the entire staff and management of the golf resort on the outskirts of Nairobi into a state of visible shock.
This correspondent is presently staying at the Windsor for the COMESA Tourism Forum, which plenary session rose for a minute of silence, after only moments earlier observing a minute of silence in honour of the late Menes Zenawi, who passed away in a hospital in Brussels / Belgium yesterday morning. The Ethiopian delegation at the meeting expressed their thanks for the gesture, as did later on the staff of the hotel too.
The Windsor with its championship 18 hole course of 7.277 yards has been described as one of Africas finest and the elevation of over 6.000 feet above sea level makes balls travel further, surprising many golfers with the extra flight due to the thinner air. 73 bunkers and some very deviously designed roughs pose major challenges as do the several water hazards, including the one surrounding the 18th hole.
Built over 25 years ago, General Manager Marc Van der Borght has expressed his confidence to this correspondent that the loss of two key principles within the space of three months was unsettling but that the board of directors of the company would nevertheless continue to pursue to ideals and objectives of the late owners, which will include a major investment package to be unveiled, probably, in view of the current circumstances and the Kenyan elections drawing nearer, with some initial delay. Watch this space for updates from the COMESA Tourism Forum and a review of the Windsor on TripAdvisor, which should be available in a few days.
PRECISION AIR ADDS MORE DOMESTIC CAPACITY
The sudden departure of Air Tanzania from the skies recently, when an emerging dispute over the continued lease of a B737-500 from a UAE based company prompted the plane to be grounded, has not had any significant impact on options for travelers in Tanzania. In fact, Precision Air, which already resumed operations to the Arusha Municipal Aerodrome with ATR aircraft, has now announced the use of larger aircraft on certain routes and traffic days and the addition of more flights between Dar es Salaam and Arusha and Mwanza.
A fifth daily flight to Arusha has been launched and on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday will a B737-300 be operating to Mwanza, besides the regular flights on ATR 72 aircraft.
The airline has also announced that they will temporarily suspend flights to Johannesburg in September, to allow the aircraft to be re-deployed on domestic services, where a healthy growth in demand has been recorded in recent weeks. Passengers to Johannesburg can now use the double daily service of Kenya Airways out of Nairobi, to which both Precision and partner airline KQ connect several times a day from Dar and Kilimanjaro.
I have to speculate here but if they are bringing back a 737 from international service for use on domestic routes, it shows that they are ready for growth, ready to serve and ready to face the competition, if those should ever sort out their perennial problems and take to the skies again said a regular aviation source from Dar es Salaam when asked to comment on the developments before adding our government should accept that Precision is a Tanzanian airline, majority owned by Tanzanians as it is required under our law and regulations to maintain traffic rights, and that they should fully support them instead of flogging a dead horse. Let them stop wasting money on ATCL and rather invest in Precision where they can get dividends, not pay for constant losses and misappropriated funds.
The airline recently launched services to Lusaka via Lubumbashi, initially made difficult as the Congolese authorities in a game of cat and mouse tried to withhold traffic rights before being forced to swiftly remedy their blackmail like attitude when a major diplomatic row threatened to cloud bilateral relations.
The flights to Lusaka via Lubumbashi are reportedly doing well, with importers and exporters using the connection to link their businesses to the Port of Dar es Salaam.
Meanwhile it was also learned that Precision has halted operations into Kigoma and Musoma while work is being carried out on these aerodromes, but will resume flights as soon as the construction has been completed. Watch this space.
SWISSPORT PROFITS UP INSPITE OF INCREASED COMPETITION
The loss of the Swissport monopoly for aircraft and cargo handling at Tanzanias main airports has apparently not dented the profitability of the company, with the latest figures available now showing an increase before taxes of 8 percent in a year by year comparison.
The company, traded at the Dar es Salaam stock exchange, has clearly defied the odds and additional aircraft movements, up by 8 percent compared with 2011, and of cargo handling operations, up by a remarkable 16 percent compared to the past year under review, have made an impact on the companys bottom line.
The company used the opportunity when making the announcement to also break the news of plans to build a new custom designed warehouse, due to cost an estimated 9.4 million US Dollars, though regulatory approvals are still to be obtained as due process has to be followed.
The good news had an immediate impact on the share value, which rose by nearly 12 percent in recent days, or over 63 percent in value over the past 12 months, giving the shareholders something to cheer about.
Seems opening up to competition actually can work and that, when both quality and pricing of services is of importance, a company still can do better through focused management and strict cost controls. Watch this space.
NEW FERRY, NEW PROBLEMS, ALREADY?
Rowdy scenes by travelers were reported in the local Ugandan media, surrounding the new MV Pearl ferry, officially launched only days earlier by the Minister for Works and Transport, when an apparent damage to an engine, caused by striking submerge rocks on attempting to land the ferry, required repairs to the new vessel.
Operating the service between the main island of the Ssese Islands group in Lake Victoria, Buggala to the mainland at Bukakata near Masaka, the new ferry reportedly then failed to operate the last scheduled crossing due at the end of the day on Saturday, prompting waiting passengers to vehemently protest and, according to one report, waylay the ferry staff, when they tried to return to their base at dusk. Police had to be deployed to restore order but those attempting to return to the mainland found themselves stuck on the island, having to find accommodation for the night and spending extra unbudgeted funds.
The ferry then resumed services later on Sunday to allow a maintenance team to complete their task but observers have voiced concerns that the substantially larger ferry, compared to the previously used type, may have to use different operating methods when landing or leaving to avoid hitting submerged rocks, which were too deep for the old ferry but pose a threat to MV Pearl due to the substantially larger displacement.
A crossing previously took over an hour and is now reduced to theoretically 20 minutes, with perhaps some added time now set aside for a slower final approach to avoid rocks and the capacity has been lifted to 20 vehicles.
Tourism for the Ssese Islands and in particular Buggala is expected to get a significant boost from the larger capacity ferry, making it easier and faster to cross the waters, to then either stay on the main island or use smaller lake boats to reach other, smaller islands where the ferry cannot dock and to enjoy the hospitality of a number of small locally owned beach side resorts. Long off the beaten track, the Ssese Islands are thought to have a significant potential for the development of both domestic tourism from within Uganda but also for foreign visitors, who have started to visit in greater numbers to enjoy the removed locations, the good fishing and the local food and hospitality in small, owner operated little resorts as notably not one major local hotel management company, leave alone the regional hospitality leaders, have yet set foot on any of the islands. But when they do, be sure to read about it right here, so watch this space.