Kenya Airways turns up the heat on potential blood ivory smugglers

KENYA AIRWAYS LAUNCHES ‘WILDLIFE FRIENDLY SKIES’ INITIATIVE

(Posted 28th August 2015)

Kenya Airways, IATA, the Kenya Wildlife Service and conservation NGO Freeland have joined forces to prevent the illegal shipment of blood ivory and other illicit wildlife products from being loaded on one of their flights, either as cargo or concealed in passenger baggage.

The airline’s CEO Mr. Mbuvi Ngunze yesterday told journalists that: ‘Wildlife trafficking is a serious crime that not only robs our people of their heritage but also endangers our tourism revenues. In the last few years, poachers have threatened to finish our elephants and rhinos, but as a national carrier, we have rolled out initiatives to advance the anti-poaching agenda. We have taken proactive steps to ensure we are compliant with both local and global standards for ferrying legal wildlife’.

In Nairobi it is in particular transit traffic from other African countries which in the past has been identified as a major source of ivory smuggling but the deployment of sniffer dogs, the use of more sophisticated scanners and cooperation between KWS, customs and other security officials has led to multiple arrests over the past years.

Kenya Airways will extend special training to selected staff to increase surveillance and monitoring capacity among them, serving as a further barrier against smuggling.

Big Reunion team plans to be in Paris next month for Top Resa

REUNION’S TOURISM SECTOR GEARS UP FOR TOP RESA

(Posted 28th August 2015)

Over 90 participants from Reunion’s tourism private sector and IRT, Ile de la Reunion Tourisme, are expected to head to Paris in a month to attend France’s largest tourism trade show, Top Resa. Reunion will exhibit alongside fellow Indian Ocean Vanilla Island members which are also expected to make a strong showing in Paris.

A 250 square metre large stand will no doubt attract large numbers of trade visitors and while still most tourists come from mainland France have other source markets made gains, giving Reunion a more diverse client base.

This year will the island revel in the spotlight after the Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion’s active volcano, has already erupted four times in spectacular lava flows. The island was also in the news for weeks at end when debris from missing flight MH370 was washed ashore at the Eastern beaches of the island. Whale and dolphin watching, a popular activity will as much be promoted as will hikes and biking trips into the UNESCO World Heritage Site spread across the rugged interior of the island. Adventure activities also include abseiling, canyoning, white water rafting and paragliding, among many other options for an active vacation.

(Some of the participants already signed up for Top Resa including the IRT CEO Patrick Serveaux)

Running from the 29th of September until the 02nd of October at the Exhibition Centre of the Port de Versailles in Paris will Reunion’s participants cover all segments of the island’s tourism industry, from resorts, hotels, B&B’s to car hire companies, DMC’s (incoming agencies) and other attractions including helicopter companies and boat / yacht operators. More information about Destination Reunion can be accessed via www.reunion.fr

In a related development was Switzerland’s leading travel blogger Solene on the island of Reunion.

Solene loves to travel and has over the last four years filed feature stories from 45 countries around the world, her latest destination having been Reunion, a French Indian Ocean island located east of Madagascar. While most of her articles talk about travel across Switzerland and to the United Arab Emirates has Solene, after a ten day stay on Reunion, already written over a dozen features, narrating her impressions about the island. Flying with Air Austral to St. Denis, Reunion’s capital city, do the features include describing one of the eruptions of the Piton de la Fournaise before turning to what Solene calls ‘Luxury Living’ on the island, entirely justified after staying at such establishments like House of Laurina, Roche Tamarin & Spa, the Palm Hotel or the Lux***** Reunion. Not shy of making recommendations has Solene tailored a one week stay programme for potential visitors which includes a range of activities like visiting one of the famous vanilla plantations, flying across the volcano and the rugged interior, 4×4 excursions and more. For added information about her writings click on to

Air Seychelles joins STB for tourism promotion in India

SEYCHELLES TOURISM PROMOTES ISLAND HOLIDAYS AS PRESIDENT MICHEL VISITS INDIA

(Posted 28th August 2015)

President James Alix Michel’s State Visit to India provided the ideal springboard for Seychelles Tourism and private sector stakeholders to also head to the subcontinent to promote honeymoons and regular island holidays. Air Seychelles, now flying four times a week from Mahe to Mumbai, from where it reaches multiple other cities through a code share agreement with another Etihad partner, Jet Airways, formed a major part of the delegation, aiming to promote the airline’s nonstop services as opposed to flying via some of the Gulf gateways which added to the journey time. The national airline launched new fares and packages tailored for the Indian market and a press conference held by STB and attended by the Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St. Ange concluded the sales blitz in Mumbai yesterday.

Relations between India and the Seychelles’ have been warm and cordial and India has through bilateral cooperation in recent years donated surveillance aircraft and naval assets to help the archipelago’s government safeguard the sea lanes.

Undying traditions? Read on what Lillian Gaitho is talking about …

TGIF is almost upon us again and with the weekend looming large has Lillian put pen to paper, or rather in modern day terms put fingers on the keyboard to share her thoughts on Kenya traditions.

Lilian Gaitho's profile photo

Undying Traditions in Various Kenyan Cultures

Image credits: fotolibra.com

Kenya can be said to have one of the most diverse ethnicity in the region, creating a melting point of various culture, rites and rituals. However, it is important to note that owing to urbanization and religion affiliation, most communities have gradually adapted to western ways; dropping some aspects while customizing some to fit in this new set up. Listed below by travel advisors at Jovago.com are a few practices that have withstood the test of time and show no signs of leaving the scene!

Of Goats and Odd Numbers for the Kamba

The Kamba community forms part of the larger Bantu speaking group in Eastern Kenyan. Marriage rituals have remained a consistent symbol of unity for family units. For anyone considering to marry a girl from this land, the goats for the Ntheo must come in odd numbers! This viciously guarded tradition takes place ahead the marriage ceremony where the groom’s close relatives presents the goats (3+ odd numbers) and slaughters one for the bride’s father. Ntheo is quite an important ceremony, that anyone of the lineage who fails to pass through the rite will not be recognized as married.

Swahili time; an hour or six late!

Mostly found in the Coastal Kenya, the Swahili people way of life is characterized by an infectious sense of oneness that seems to be the very secret of preserving their culture. Some of the continent’s oldest mosques, trade centers, cultural practices and values are still found within the confines of this community. Time as well has not been able to interfere with this set up; if anything it has in itself been a victim of this non-conformity! The first hour of the day kicks at sunrise (western) 7:00 am. Consequently, 7:00pm is the first hour of the night, known as saa moja ya usiku (1 O’clock, nighttime)

Fun and Feast, the Agikuyu Marriage and Betrothal

Matters pertaining to marriage and betrothal have stubbornly withstood the test of time for the Agikuyu. Although a few variations and adaptations have been made along the way to accommodate religion and civilization; payment of dowry takes more or less the same route as was in the ancient days. For instance, the boy must state his intentions in a ceremony known as “kuhanda ithigi” loosely translated to planting of the branch – used to mark of his territory and bar any other interested suitor. It is also expected that each respective family must visit their in-laws bearing gifts and the boy’s family must ‘pay dowry’ to the girl’s family as a sign of gratitude. It must however be noted that, dowry expectations varies family and should not be literally connoted as the bride price.

Bow and Pat; Greetings in the Masai Community

The Masai are renowned for holding on to their culture and traditions long after other communities have largely eroded their practices. Just like their colorful shukas, spear wielding ochre soaked morans and mirthful initiation ceremonies, the aspect of greetings too has withstood the winds of change. An elder will usually part a younger person on top of the head in greetings and bestowing blessings.

Pucker Power for the Kalenjins!

The Kalenjins are globally acclaimed for their impressive track record in athletics. As David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene once noted, only seventeen American men have run under 2:10 hours in the marathon, yet in 2011 alone 32 runners from the community took home the record! However, if keen enough, you’ll notice that this global acclaim, in spite of its magnitude has not at all changed some traditions; our brothers and sisters from the Rift Valley still prefer puckering their lips briefly towards the direction they wish to call attention to as opposed to using their fingers. Talk of pucker-power!

Any interesting and time-defying practices where you come from? Feel free to share!

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Kenya set to invest multi billions in added road infrastructure at the coast

NEW HIGHWAY DEVELOPMENT TO PUT AN END TO TRAFFIC JAMS IN AND OUT OF MOMBASA

(Posted 27th August 2015)

A new proposed six lane highway project, connecting the port city of Mombasa to the outskirts of the greater Mombasa metropolitan area in Mariakani – some 40 kilometres enroute the main highway to Nairobi – has been costed at 22 billion Kenya Shillings, likely to rise however by the time of completion. This new section will cover about 12 kilometres which are among the most congestion and jam prone in the entire country. It has been a focus of reporting here several times before and is a cause for constant complaints by motorists which in the past have been stuck for more than 10 hours without moving an inch. This being the only main exit route from the coast to the national parks and game reserves inland, like the Sagalla Hills, the Taita Hills Game Reserve, Tsavo East, Tsavo West and Amboseli, do traffic jams impact severely on safari itineraries for tourists and the new road, when complete in approximately three years’ time, will bring substantial relief through shorter transit times.

The overall project will also reportedly include a link from the international airport to the new highway and a dual carriage expansion of the current highway to Mariakani as well as selected sections further along the Mombasa to Nairobi highway.

This is the second major road project at the Kenya coast announced in the recent past with a bypass from the international airport and the Nairobi to Mombasa highway to the south coast now under construction already. The road link from Mombasa to Nairobi and on to the hinterland countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Eastern Congo is a crucial traffic axis which presently forms the transport backbone for imports and exports.

The project is reportedly being financed by the African Development Bank, internally generated funding through various levies and other development partners providing loan and grant funding.

This Pan African low cost carrier is on the expansion drive

FASTJET’S SIXTH AIRBUS A319 DUE FOR DEPLOYMENT TO ZAMBIA

(Posted 27th August 2015)

After clearing all regulatory requirements for the issue of an air operator certificate, in short AOC, for their soon to be launched new operation in Zambia, has Fastjet yesterday put pen to paper to acquire their sixth such aircraft. The new bird is due for delivery at the end of September and will, according to information received from the airline, be immediately deployed to Lusaka in preparation of the formal launch of Fastjet Zambia.

The airline has over the past two months already added a fourth and fifth Airbus A319 to their fleet, one of these aircraft to boost capacity out of Dar es Salaam and the other one due for deployment to Zimbabwe, where Fastjet is also in the final stages of launching operations. This latest development has effectively doubled the fleet size from a year ago from three to six aircraft.

Said the airline’s CEO Ed Winter when making the announcement: ‘Following our recent announcement of the fourth and fifth aircraft joining our fleet, the addition of this owned Aircraft by the end of September will see the fleet double in size. Each additional aircraft is able to make up to 1,000 more seats per day available to Fastjet’s customers. Based on the 75% load factors currently being projected by Fastjet, each aircraft in the fleet is projected to carry approximately 275,000 passengers per annum. Our successful fundraising in April 2015 was, in part, to fund the acquisition of aircraft. We conducted an extensive review of available aircraft and I am delighted to announce this milestone event’.

Presently does the Fastjet fly out of Dar es Salaam, serving Kilimanjaro, Mwanza and Mbeya while continental flights extend to Entebbe – thrice a week – but also to Lusaka and Harare, both destinations now being combined and served daily while Johannesburg has also seen the number of flights raised to 7 a week.

Kenyans however continue to be shortchanged by their Civil Aviation Authority which has so far refused to grant Fastjet PLC an air service license to start the process of setting up a low cost airline based in Nairobi and has even blocked Fastjet Tanzania’s application for landing rights despite holding a designation from the Tanzanian CAA, a festering sore in the chapter of East African Community cooperation and a damning indictment of Kenya’s dubious aviation policy. Watch this space to be the first to know when Fastjet will launch operations in Zambia and in Zimbabwe.

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