Qatar Airways keeps going strong in the face of illegal airspace denial


(Posted 29th June 2017)

Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport reported an exceptionally high volume of traffic during the busy Eid-Al Fitr holiday period despite the current regional travel restrictions imposed by its neighbouring countries.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Mr. Akbar Al Baker commented on this trend: ‘In spite of recent restrictions imposed on the airline, our operations to and from Doha remain resilient and are running smoothly. In the past seven days, 510,949 passengers have flown from Hamad International Airport on board more than 2,900 flights. During the peak Eid-Al Fitr holiday period, 22-24 June, 49,794 of those passengers were joining flights directly from Doha‘.

Eng. Mr. Badr Al Meer, Hamad International Airport Chief Operating Officer, added ‘The airport has had a very busy Eid period with the total number of passengers travelling on all airlines, including the national carrier Qatar Airways, from 19-25 June reaching 580,000, and added that there were 3,300 movements during this time. Hamad International Airport continues to urge passengers to arrive early for check in during this busy holiday period‘.

Hamad International Airport recently reported that it served 19 million passengers from January to June 2017, 8 per cent more than those served in the same period in 2016.

Qatar Airways continues to operate to the majority of its network of more than 150 destinations around the world, with 90% of those flights departing within 15 minutes of their scheduled departure time.

The airline also showed no sign of slowing down its rapid network growth having launched its new service to Dublin, Republic of Ireland, on 12 June, which will be followed by new route launches on 04th of July to Nice, France and on 17th of July to Skopje, Macedonia. Other new destinations planned for the remainder of this year and 2018 include Las Vegas (USA), Canberra (Australia), Douala (Cameroon), Libreville (Gabon), Mombasa (Kenya) Medan (Indonesia), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Santiago (Chile) and Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), as well as many others.

Earlier this month the airline released its annual report for the fiscal year 2017, revealing a net profit of $541 million, a 21.7 per cent year-on-year increase. The results also show an annual revenue increase of 10.4 per cent.

Reflecting the ongoing success of Qatar Airways, the airline was awarded the Skytrax Airline of the Year award for the fourth time at the 2017 Paris Air Show. In addition to this prestigious award it was also named Best Airline in the Middle East, World’s Best Business Class and World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge. Qatar Airways’ home and hub, Hamad International Airport, was this year also rated five-star by Skytrax, one of only five in the world to be given this recognition.

In East Africa does Qatar Airways fly daily to Entebbe and Kigali, while also serving Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar with Mombasa on the destination list for 2018.

Air Seychelles keen to restore direct flights to China


(Posted 29th June 2017)

Air Seychelles yesterday announced it will operate non-stop charter flights from Chengdu, located in southwestern China, to Seychelles.

The airline will offer flights from the city of more than 14 million people every Wednesday from 19 July through to 23 August, providing six return services in total during the period.

Air Seychelles teamed up with the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) to secure the charter services following a series of promotional events aimed at increasing awareness of the tropical archipelago in China, one of the fastest-growing travel markets in the world. It is also a result of the number of Chinese visitors dropping in the first half of 2017 due to a lack of nonstop services between China and the archipelago.

The capital of China’s Sichuan province, Chengdu is known for its rich cuisine and teahouse culture, shrines and temples, and giant panda sanctuaries, which are home to more than 80% of the wild giant pandas in the world.

Roy Kinnear, Chief Executive Officer of Air Seychelles, said: ‘Our charter flights from Chengdu will be operated on our Airbus A330s, providing a capacity of more than 1,500 seats to our islands. We are delighted to have worked together with STB to make these charter flights a reality and look forward to welcoming our first guests from Chengdu and treating them to our famous Seychellois hospitality. China has enormous potential for the Seychelles tourism industry and we are keen on continuing to work closely with a number of partners in China to attract a growing number of visitors to our islands‘.

Sherin Francis, Chief Executive Officer of STB then added: ‘These additional charter flights from Chengdu will go a long way in supporting our strategic efforts to boost inbound tourism numbers from China. We worked hand-in-hand with Air Seychelles to secure these charter services and are eagerly anticipating the first direct flight touching down in Seychelles on 19 of July‘.

More details about Destination Seychelles can be found via

Care to win an attendance at the Africa Hotel Investment Forum?

… AND THE WINNER IS … or rather will be …

(Posted 29th June 2017)

APO Group

APO Group ( is delighted to announce the launch of its prize draw to win an invitation at the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) ( The prize draw reflects the company’s DNA and commitment to supporting journalism in Africa by responding to one of the biggest challenges local professionals face: resources constraints and limited networking opportunities. The winner will fly to Kigali, Rwanda, to participate in the prestigious hotel investment conference between October 10th to 12th this year.

Every year since 2011, the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) gathers top-tier international hotel investors, key industry players, Governments as well as National representatives at a single place. A unique moment for meeting counterparts and gaining an overview of the various perspectives on Hospitality and Aviation trends and how they will impact and shape the African industry in the future. For three days, participants are given the opportunity to attend exclusive conferences conducted by key influencers and benefit from their respective expertise.

Last year were present leading figures including Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott International, Wolfgang Neumann, CEO Rezidor Hotel Group, Antoine Guego, COO of AccorHotel, Patrick Fitzgibbon, SVP Development EMEA of Hilton Worldwide – to name a few – who seized the opportunity to unveil their new hotel projects on the African continent. Valuable insights for reporter Aggrey Mutambo from Nation Media Group who won the 2016 prize draw and had the chance to join the event.

Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and CEO of APO Group, said:It is extremely important for us to help African journalists who very often have difficulty in travelling to cover stories compared to their counterparts in the rest of the world. As facilitation authority in the media landscape, it is our responsibility to find alternative solutions that enable news writers to exercise their journalistic profession in good conditions and be present at key events held in Africa‘.

In September 2016, reporter Aggrey Mutambo from Kenya ( has won APO’s invitation to attend the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) 2016, the leading hotel investment conference in Africa.

The three previous previous recipients of the AfricaCom invitation were Rwandan science writer Aimable Twahirwa (, journalist John Churu ( from Botswana and Kenyan blogger Lilian Murugi Mutegi ( They made the trip to South Africa to discover cutting-edge technologies and acquire new knowledge on African digitalization dynamics.

Beyond providing support to journalists, APO Group also sponsors the APO Energy Media Award ( and the APO Media Award ( Winners receive a grant ($500 per month for a year), a laptop as well as one intercontinental flight ticket to a destination of his or her choice and one year of access to over 600 airport VIP lounges.


  • To win the invitation to the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), click on:
  • The deadline for entry is midnight GMT on September 10, 2017
  • The winner will be announced on September 13, 2017
  • APO Group will pay for one round-trip ticket and accommodation in Kigali, Rwanda
  • The winner will be responsible for the visa, food, local transport and any other expense


Aïssatou Diallo | bdm | +41 22 534 96 97


Over the past 10 years, APO Group has successfully established itself as a Global facilitation authority within media landscapes. Since its inception, our consulting firm is committed to sharpening its clients’ reputation, brand image and speed to market positioning in emerging markets while maximizing their global value. We collaborate with both private and public organizations – from Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 corporations to emerging companies, from SME’s to NGOs, local and national Governments – to transform their media challenges into relevant bespoke programs that bring together Innovation & Efficiency. As knowledge partner, our role is to combine our long-standing expertise, advanced technologies – Africa Wire® and MENA Wire® – with our unparalleled network to engineer sound media strategies that enable our clients to expand their footprint in the Africa Middle East regions. APO Group’ strengths lie in its ability to address its clients’ specific situations holistically and capitalize on its unique experiences in Media relation, Editorial & Corporate communication, Advertising sales with key institutions and media houses to provide high added-value supports and tangible results.

ATTA honours African writers


(Posted 29th June 2017)

Last night saw the inaugural Avis Atta Media Awards 2017 take place in London to recognise excellence in African travel journalism. Eleven journalists were honoured by the African Travel and Tourism Association (Atta), the organisation that promotes tourism to Africa, for their 2016 / 17 published work featuring their travels to Africa.

The acclaimed writer A.A. Gill was recognised with a special posthumous lifetime achievement award for his positive promotion of tourism to Africa, with his daughter Flora collecting the award on the family’s behalf.

ATTA’s Chair, Julian Edmunds, who is also the CEO of Coastal Aviation in Tanzania, said of A.A. Gill when announcing the award: ‘A.A. Gill was a hugely acclaimed journalist who could write on any subject but this award honours his travel writing and in particular his positive promotion of his beloved Africa. He is quoted as saying: ‘You either get the point of Africa or you don’t. What draws me back year after year is that it’s like seeing the world with the lid off‘.

Legendary Africa and wildlife specialist travel writer Brian Jackman also received a special award for his contribution to understanding African tourism. Julian said no journalist has contributed more to understanding African tourism than Brian Jackman.

Also receiving awards were journalists Emily Bamber, Chris Leadbeater, Sue Watt, Sarah Gilbert, James Draven, John Malathronas, Lisa Grainger and Steve King.

The awards were held at the Royal Over-Seas League in London’s St James’ and presented by BBC World News presenter Peter Okwoche and the awards sponsor Avis’ Jeanette Harper, director of travel and partnerships at Avis Budget Group.

ATTA Chief Executive Nigel Vere Nicoll said: ‘We are delighted with the enthusiasm that travel writing journalists showed in entering the awards and with the excellent standard of entry. Not only do these awards celebrate the incredible calibre of journalism on offer, but also help to shine light on the stunning attractions of tourism to the Africa continent. The continent is a traveller’s heaven, home to incredible wildlife, rugged landscapes, hidden jungles and secret retreats, all begging to be explored. The lure of Africa is stronger than ever, and through the travel writing of our award winning journalists it is brought to life‘.

Julia Kemp, director of global and travel partnerships at Avis, then added: ‘We are thrilled to have co-created the hugely successful Avis Atta Media Awards to celebrate African travel journalism and broadcasting. The quality of entrants was outstanding and we look forward to growing the awards in years to come‘.

Chosen from more than 90 entries, the winners of the Avis Atta Media Awards were:

1. Best News Coverage on African Tourism (Trade Press)Kenya Safaris: Park Life in Travel Weekly by Emily Bamber

2. Best Cultural Article on an African DestinationWill the real Zanzibar please stand up? in National Geographic Traveller by Chris Leadbeater

3. Best Wildlife Feature in a National NewspaperCecil the lion’s legacy: Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, one year on in the Independent by Sue Watt

4. Best Wildlife Feature in a National MagazineGorillas in our midst in Wanderlust by Sarah Gilbert

5. Best Blogger / Vlogger on AfricaKenya: Lines in the sand in National Geographic Traveller by James Draven

6. Best Online Coverage on AfricaMozambique: Superstar slum in National Geographic Traveller by John Malathronas

7. Best National Newspaper Coverage of AfricaIncredible safari lodges, a private island resort and geodesic domes: Tanzania’s new luxuries uncovered in The Telegraph by Lisa Grainger

8. Best Magazine Coverage of AfricaAll aboard the Lunatic Line: Kenya’s faltering colonial relic in Vanity Fair by Steve King

9. Best Feature on African environment / conservation issuesSafari in Malawi: Watching 500 endangered elephants rehomed in the Independent by Sue Watt

10. Special Award: Contribution to understanding African tourism – Brian Jackman

11. Lifetime Achievement Award for the positive promotion of Africa – A. A. Gill

Verde Zanzibar to become East Africa’s greenest hotel


(Posted 29th June 2017)

Verde Zanzibar main entrance

Samantha Annandale, the CEO of Africa’s greenest hotel, has confirmed that their resort project on the Spice Island of Zanzibar, is expected to open before the end of the year.
Recently speaking at the STTA’s 3rd Green Tourism Summit in Nairobi did Samantha explain the upsides of having gone green with the Verde Hotel in Cape Town and what developers can expect in terms of savings after investing less than 10 percent more in terms of technology and construction compared to regular building methods.
The Zanzibar resort will be the first proper branch out of the South African hotel management group though it is understood that as as many as two additional projects could be maturing soon, expanding Verde’s green concept to the rest of the African continent.
Properly applied green technologies reduce the amount of potable water used, cuts down on the use of mains electricity by introducing solar power and solar water heaters and reduces the need for air conditioning through added insulation, positioning of the building and the use of sun shades.
Waste reduction apart from waste separation for recycling are additional measures green hotels can take, such as soap and shampoo dispensers in bathrooms instead of small plastic containers still seen in most hotels, not just in Africa of course but around the world.

Samantha Annandale, CEO of Verde Hotels

Said Samantha when asked about the challenges and opportunities when going green in resorts and hotels:

As the need for change in how we build and manage hotels has certainly been identified, it is still unfortunately slow in the uptake of this concept. We continuously advocate the above average IRR, saving of natural resources, unique and powerful marketing case, greater bottom line profit, all whilst ensuring a greater social economic impact. We can only trust that this reality becomes more prevalent and takes higher focus within the investor and tourism sectors and that there is definitely no other alternative but to partner with a company that takes sustainability to the next level.
The opportunity is now to showcase that Africa can lead in sustainability, minimising carbon footprint and set the example globally on slowing down global warming, whilst continuing economic growth. One of our most important values is how we, as a green sustainable management company, focus on the wellbeing of our employees by not only creating opportunity but working with them to reach their full development potential as individuals. Our employees, after all, are the brand ambassadors of the Verde brand and making a difference in people’s lives transcends into their own homes and families where the benefits are dynamically felt‘.

For additional information check out

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Take A Break in the Kingdom of Swaziland

Swaziland Tourism News Updates

Year End Break in the Kingdom of Swaziland


Out of all four seasons, none makes you look forward to planning your next summer holiday like winter. Why not look to the beautiful Kingdom of Swaziland for your well-deserved year-end break? Venture into a land with a vibrant culture and ever so alluring landscapes.

With endless accommodation options available to suit your every need, and activities to ensure that your stay is one to remember, a summer in Swaziland is definitely one for the books.

Book your stay at Phoponyane Falls Lodge, located in the Swazi highlands overlooking an exceptionally beautiful valley. The accommodation will leave you gawking at either the “beehives” or cottages and the more permanent tents. After a blissful night’s sleep, be woken up by the pleasant sounds of echoing bird melodies.

Alternatively draw closer to nature and enjoy a stay at Shewula Mountain Camp, a community run and owned eco-tourism project located high up on the edge of a rocky cliff face near the border of Swaziland and Mozambique. The camp is positioned in such a way that you can catch a glimpse of Maputo and marvel at nature’s artistry as you watch the sun slowly set over the Kingdom of Swaziland. With no electricity, Shewula Mountain Camp visitors are able to experience an authentic Swazi camp and leave with a deeper connection and appreciation for nature.

Venture into the outdoors and participate in some adventure activities such as caving, white water rafting and zip lining.

Step into the only major granite cave system known in Southern Africa, uncover the history and adventure that lies beneath Swaziland’s immaculate terrain. Explore an 800m course of subterranean passages within this notable cave system which has been formed by the Kophola River that flows underground between Msunduza and Kophola Mountains.

Swaziland’s white water rafting trips are run by Swazi Trails on an impressive stretch of the Usutu River, between Sidvokodvo and Siphofaneni. Its wild waters fling through untouched gorges, which transition into calmer stretches of bush and grazing land with close views of rock formations and wildlife.

Try zip lining across the canopy of Malolotja National Park. The zip lining itself is very easy and your guides will take you through a progression of ten crossings ensuring that by crossing number three, you’re really confident in your ability to navigate through some of Swaziland’s most wondrous trees.

There is so much to do in Swaziland and it offers something for everyone!

About STA
The Swaziland Tourism Authority (STA) was established by an act of parliament, the Tourism Authority, Act of 2001. It was established as a public enterprise. In terms of the Act the following objectives have been determined for STA;

  • Develop the tourism sector as a national priority in an environmentally sustainable and culturally acceptable manner,
  • Coordinate and facilitate the implementation of government policies and strategies on tourism,
  • Market Swaziland as a tourism destination through the provision of a platform for industry stakeholders,
  • Encourage, facilitate and promote local and foreign investment in the tourism industry, and
  • Ensure the contribution of tourism to the socio-economic development and continued improvement of quality of life in the Kingdom of Swaziland


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