Rwanda’s ‘Conversation on Conversation’ ends with flurry of resolutions


(Posted 31st August 2016)

The just ended 2016 edition of Rwanda’s unique ‘Conversation on Conservation‘ has come up with a series of recommendations and resolutions, which are worth sharing with my readers.
All the relevant details are shown below:


Conversation on Conservation 2016 Theme: “United in driving economic growth through conservation

Sustainable Development Goals

1. Establish a cross-sectoral team to design an integrated monitoring system for the country which merges SDGs, EDPRS II, green growth and climate resilience strategies.  In order to do this, explore the role of the Commission for Science and Technology to convene this cross-sectoral team.  Develop a harmonized policy for data sharing and integration and ensure that data generation toward the monitoring system are coordinated and agreed.  Establish a mechanism to ensure information from the monitoring system leads to improved evidence-based decision making across multiple jurisdictions.

2. Fully operationalize and fund the Center of Excellence for Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management  Increase capacity for integrated project design from proposal writing, fund mobilization, management and implementation; establish partnerships where needed  Create a platform to ensure communication and collaboration between academia and government institutions regarding research priorities and establishing a research agenda

3. Support national higher learning institutions to be more effective in meeting their objectives in contributing to filling biodiversity knowledge gaps

4. Investigate increased support to environmental journalism (eg. training courses and capacity building)

5. Investigate the potential of a consultative council on conservation including government, private sector, researchers to address development proposals, in advance of feasibility studies

6. Environmental Impact Assessments as part of the development process needs to be more independent

7. Review the current structure of conservation and protected area management within government institutions relative to other sectors, to ensure conservation is on equal footing

8. Standards developed for nature-dependent businesses

9. Initiate collaboration between JADF and private sectors on integrated conservation and development projects

10. Invest in programs to explore and enhance opportunities for local communities to be involved in and benefit from conservation and nature-dependent businesses

11. Explore possibility of FONERWA and other donors to commit resources to these recommendations

Illegal Wildlife Trade

12. Revise the law and pass a wildlife law-specific statute

13. Build and strengthen education capacity of wildlife law enforcement; especially during cadet training

14. Conduct broad sensitization of existing law enforcement agencies and their officials; i.e. the Judiciary, Prosecutors, National Police, Customs etc

15. Increase level of awareness of IWT among politicians as a national priority

16. Recognize conservation as a pillar or driver of the broader economic agenda

17. Incentivize conservation by creating a conducive environment

18. Professionally remunerate officials involved in wildlife law enforcement

19. Inculcate accountability and transparency in the management of wildlife

20. Put in place stricter border and customs control

21. Develop coordinated and cooperative law enforcement approaches

22. Champion demand reduction programs


23. RDB to brief the Rt. Honorable Prime Minister on these resolutions, and track progress toward these resolutions leading to CoC 2017

President Kenyatta hosts historic tourism summit at State House Mombasa


(Posted 31st August 2016)

Some 150 tourism stakeholders from the entire Kenya coast but also from Nairobi and further upcountry will be meeting later today with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House in Mombasa to discuss added urgent measures to more fully revive the sector.
While arrivals in Nairobi have been boosted by a number of high profile international conferences and events, benefitting not just the hotels in the city but also safari lodges and camps through pre- and post-conference tours, has the coast lagged behind the trend.
Charter flights are still way down compared to the peak days in 2011 and in particular charters from the UK remain notably absent.
While the government has put incentives into place for charter airlines flying to Mombasa has this as yet not yielded the intended results and the coast tourism industry remains alarmed over the slow pace of recovery.
Leading tourism stakeholders have for some years now demanded that the international airport in Mombasa be opened up for global airlines, which can fly nearly unrestricted to such island destinations like Seychelles, Mauritius and even Zanzibar but have met with regulatory resistance over traffic right issues which would make the flights financially viable.
Cost burdens too will be raised by the tourism industry and no doubt will county governments come under fire over their constant attempts to extract if not outright extort new levies and fees from hotels, which continue to struggle with low occupancies and high cost for utilities.
Some coastal destinations are reportedly even worse off, in part caused by poor infrastructure to get there such as the notorious bottleneck Likoni Ferry, short runways of local airports and airfields and expensive loans preventing major upgrades and refurbishments, among other reasons cited by coast tourism stakeholders to this correspondent. Another reason given was the cost of airfares from Nairobi to coast destinations like Lamu, Malindi, Mombasa and Ukunda which are regularly described as prohibitively high and therefore failing to support the coast hospitality industry.
I wait and see what is coming out of this meeting. For one I like to know what progress has been made to implement the recovery plan submitted to government last year. I want to know what measures are in place to have affordable finance made available to the sector. We all like to know when traffic rights are given to the likes of Qatar Airways and when FlyDubai will begin to bring tourists to Mombasa. And I like to know why people like you are not invited to cover the event when we need all the good publicity we can get‘ commented a regular source from Mombasa when discussing the issue a few minutes ago.

Be sure you watch this space for an update as and when details of the meeting become available either later today or tomorrow (Thursday).

Benin follows Rwanda’s example and introduces Visa on arrival


(Posted 30th August 2016)

When Rwanda on the 01st of January 2013 launched a Visa on Arrival policy for citizens of African Union member states were critics swift in both denouncing the change and dooming the initiative, mostly of course bureaucrats who benefit from holding the reigns of power when it comes to granting, or rejecting Visa applications.
Africa is known to make it difficult for Africans to travel across the continent and countries like the Seychelles, which require no Visa at all for visitors from any country in the world, remain the exception.
However, Rwanda implemented the change and prevailed and progressively have other countries in Africa taken a hard look at their own Visa application process, probably smelling money flowing into their coffers through increased tourism and trade arrivals.
Ghana earlier in the year followed Rwanda’s lead and started to issue Visa on arrival for African Union memberstate citizens and today Benin followed suit.
Benin’s President Patrice Talon, on a state visit to Rwanda, made the announcement earlier today in Kigali when he said: ‘‘Learning from Rwanda, I have decided that Benin will no longer require visas for other Africans,’‘ Talon said bemoaning the extent to which Africans visited the rest of the world but not each other‘.
Benin joins a handful of countries to make travel easier and members of the ‘Team Africa‘ organizations were swift to commend the move. In July had the African Union floated the idea of a pan-African passport but cognizant of the fact that such flowery declarations take often decades to implement – The Yamoussoukro Declaration is a very good example for that – has Team Africa recommended to instead waive Visa application requirements and have African Union memberstates embrace Rwanda’s example and begin to grant Visa to African travelers on arrival.

Well done to Benin and of course kudos to Rwanda once again for blazing the trail and showing the way.

Lillian Gaitho’s mid week thoughts

The Perfect OTA: Six Factors to Look Out for in a Travel Agent

Online booking sites are becoming the norm rather than the exception. With the internet of things spiraling to every last aspect of living; getting your vacation stay has become a one step find on the right click. Companies such as Expedia, Jumia Travel, TripAdvisor and a myriad others, big, medium or emerging are becoming the go-to for any savvy traveler. However, like any other invention, OTAs come with their special challenges. Here is a short list of factors and tips you need to look out for when choosing your OTA.


#1 Speed of Communication

Automated responses, robotic recordings and eternally engaged ‘direct’ lines are some of the things that can drive anyone crazy while trying to reach any travel agent. Unanswered calls and messages, mails that no one seems to notice as well as agents who appear in a rush when explaining their products/services should be marked red on your list of reliable OTAs.

#2 A Listening, Diverse Partner

It’s not uncommon to find out that your favorite hotel, or preferred airline is already fully booked on your intended travel dates. A well-versed agent has an alternative to almost every last option. It’s their business to know what other airlines are scheduled to fly within your time brackets, how long the alternative train route will take and what other hotels in your destination match your primary option in standards, ambiance and attitude.

#3 That Buy-and-Fly Magic

Last minute deals and packages seem to be growing their fame with every new season; local companies such as Jumia Travel have already introduced packages in response to a growing demand. But nothing beats a good bargain off your usual value pack. A great agent understands that in order for you to come back on repeat trips and make his commissions, he must entice you and buy your loyalty with great savings. Always make a point of raising the ‘deal’ question with your OTA, at least, they should be able to direct you where the grass is greener on their platform!

#4 A Master of Sticky Itineraries

From multi-stop overs across continents, to three different car hire and numerous airport transfers; a sticky itinerary can go from hectic to a horrible mess if handed to the wrong agent. Before you settle on their service, discuss in detail your plan of travel and ask all the tough questions. It is the very reason a fee is attached!

#5 Stranger to Lone-ranger

No matter how impeccably planned, any trip can go wrong in the most unexpected of ways. Take for instance delayed or canceled flights, not-so-friendly weather patterns, change in hotel menus, losing directions and nosy strangers in the conveyor belt and lounge areas. The most comforting thought during such ordeals would be that you are not entirely alone; your good and faithful agent can be reached to work his magic at any point of your trip and holiday. Ensure that all information on reachability, consultation and related tidbits is well outlined before signing any agreement. Think of this as the OTA’s after-sale service; a vital facet of any growing industry.

#6 Records and History

Say no to gentleman’s agreement when it’s your dream trip on the line. You may have known your agent since they were toddlers, but the world knows anything that can go wrong could go amiss. Your agent should not hesitate to capture any phone and verbal exchanges on email to avoid discrepancies and miscommunication. Also, ensure that all payments are well receipted and any future refunds or expected claims well documented.

News from further down south … the Livingstone bi-Weekly’s latest edition

Thanks for Gill Staden here come the latest news from Zambia, Zimbabwe and beyond today with a link to a YouTube clip about the Liuwa Plains

Norman Carr Safaris, Liuwa Plain

And, the newsletter:


Council Sign at the border


The road to Siansowa

Power cuts again

Donkey in the road


Conservation South Luangwa – snared elephant

Kasanka snake

Chipembele catapult collection

Elephant Charge

Conservation Lower Zambezi – better communication and new operations base

Ivory poacher convicted in Kariba

Vic Falls Wildlife Trust receives a donation

Friends of Hwange – water report

Lions kill livestock in Namibia

Welwitschia plant

Yellow fever report

Onboard advertising the latest craze


(Posted 30th August 2016)

It may cost passengers less to fly – as long as they book early enough that is or wait for special deals – but from next month onwards this will come with an added price.
Jambojet has reportedly signed a deal with ‘Global Onboard Partners‘ to roll out advertising in the cabins of their aircraft, subjecting passengers to visual images on service trays, perhaps headrest covers, the seatback and maybe even the overhead bins among other locations on the aircraft which can be plastered with advertising images without endangering safety.
Like it or not, there is hardly a chance to look away from this latest craze, which, while bringing in much needed cash into the airline’s coffers, may well cause negative reactions from passengers forced to eat a visual meal they did not order.
While Jambojet CEO hailed the initiative which in his words will give advertisers a ‘captive audience‘ others have responded to this correspondent’s question by saying it is holding passengers ‘captive‘ by subjecting them to advertising they did not ask to see nor can switch off, unlike on TV or in the print media – like inflight magazines – where one can flip the page of fast forward to get rid of unwanted commercials.
Time will tell how this is received by passengers, if they will approve, or perhaps silently suffer the visual intrusion or if they will revolt and chose other airline where a calmer, non advertising cabin environment is provided.
One thing for sure has emerged, that innovation and out of the box thinking rules when it comes to adding non ticket revenues. Pole position for this clearly goes to Jambojet of Kenya which has jumped the bandwagon as Africa’s first airline to do so and where the bean counters will no doubt smile as the cash begins to roll in.

Skytrax pegs Kenya Airways as fifth best in Africa and part of the global top 100


(Posted 30th August 2016)

Skytrax, the world’s leading aviation services rating organization, has in their latest release of global rankings put Kenya Airways into fifth position for Africa and number 85, up one place from last year, on a global scale.
This affirms regular contention by this correspondent that the Pride of Africa indeed offers superior ground and inflight services compared to many competitors, including some ranked higher by Skytrax but failing in a direct one on one comparison from experiences of travel on various airlines in Africa.
This follows the World Travel Awards of 2016, held in Zanzibar earlier in the year, where Kenya Airways for the forth time running became Africa’s leading business class airline plus Africa’s leading airline overall.
The lounges of Kenya Airways in their new home, Terminal 1A at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, too have gained global recognition with in particular SkyTeam partner airline passengers giving these facilities the thumbs up.
Royal Air Maroc, now also flying to Nairobi, came in 9th in Africa while Air Austral of Reunion Island, though carrying a French registry, came in 10th among African airlines.

In the African skies over the Indian Ocean has Air Seychelles again topped the Skytrax ratings ahead of rival Air Mauritius, a sign of how much progress the airline has made over the past few years since entering a strategic partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways, which notably came in sixth overall on a global scale.

The Best Airlines in Africa
1 South African Airways
2 Air Seychelles
3 Air Mauritius
4 Ethiopian Airlines
5 Kenya Airways
6 TAAG Angola Airlines
7 Kulula
8 Mango
9 Royal Air Maroc
10 Air Austral

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