Full of Zim and vigour

More from the Travel Africa Magazine

Jambo! “Why is it you can never hope to describe the emotion Africa creates? You are lifted. Out of whatever pit, unbound from whatever tie, released from whatever fear. You are lifted and you see it all from above.” Francesca Marciano (Italian novelist and filmmaker; extract from “Rules of the Wild”)

Full of Zim and vigour

Phil Clisby continues his African odyssey. It’s June 1993, and he is making his way around Zimbabwe, from the Eastern Highlands to the Victoria Falls

We’re standing at the side of the road, thumbs in the air, seeking a ride out of Harare towards the Bvumba Mountains, which lie on the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border. Lorna and I plan to stay at the late author Doris Lessing’s place, now a guesthouse. We’d heard about it through some fellow travellers, Martin and Julia, who are going to manage the property for a couple of months for Lessing’s nephew, Trevor.

Our first ‘lift’ is on foot, when a kind-hearted lady informs us we are standing on the wrong road and leads us to the right one. We start again. Our luck is quickly in, as a truck takes us within 40km of Mutare, the main city in eastern Zim. A farmer then picks us up and drops us at the Bvumba turn-off. Unbelievably, he knows our hometown in the UK well, having been stationed just down the road when he was in the army. It’s a small world.

About an hour later, and who stops to pick us up? Trevor, along with Martin, Julia and our old mate Mike (from our time in Mozambique) – what are the chances? We squeeze into the already overladen vehicle, somehow finding space between several boxes of food and wine.

Read the full blog to discover the highs of mountain living, why bald is beautiful, the joy of getting soaked and the advantages of travelling with a millionaire.

The “green” season

Reflections on life on safari, from Safari for Real guide and author Lex Hes. “One of the first questions many people ask when thinking about visiting southern Africa on safari is: “when is the best time to visit?” The general answer to this question from most travel agents is that the best time to visit is towards the end of the dry season. But a visit to Africa in the wet season opens up a whole new world of beauty and diversity which you don’t get in the dry season…

Highlights for our next edition of Travel Africa magazine include:

  • A practical guide to help you plan your trip to Zambia’s Luangwa Valley
  • Bush skills and bushmen trackers in Botswana’s Central Kalahari GR
  • All you need to know about self-drive in Namibia
  • Ten secret parks for wildlife enthusiasts in South Africa
  • Child-friendly spots along Kenya’s coast
  • High adventures in Uganda’s Jinja
  • The benefits of responsible tourism in Malawi
  • Stunning photographs of Morocco’s saffron industry… plus so much more

Subscriber copies of the Spring edition (78) will be mailed out by the end of March, sosubscribe today if you’d like to receive the mag!

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Safari njema!
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Mauritius tourism sector apprehensive of imminent political change


(Posted 22nd January 2017)

The announcement yesterday by Mauritius Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth that he was stepping down in favour of his son, who is the current Minister of Finance in the ruling coalition government, did not come entirely unexpected but nevertheless rattled the country, and more important, its crucial tourism sector.
Political turmoil in neighbouring Madagascar a few years ago all but wiped out tourism and given the resignation of four coalition ministers a few weeks ago, when Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism Xavier Luc Duval walked his party out of the coalition, already left a sour taste in the mouths of many tourism stakeholders.
Mauritius has very well recovered from some shaky marketing in past years. Our island is on the way to establish its lead again in tourism arrivals for Indian Ocean islands. Occupancies have risen. But we do not need Madagascar type divisions and turmoil, tourism needs predictability and stability. So yes, we are apprehensive because the opposition wants new elections and that would be a great challenge for our industry‘ responded a periodic commentator from Port Louis on condition of anonymity.
Sir Anerood, now 86 years old and having been Prime Minister several times during his political career besides holding the office of President of Mauritius between 2003 and 2012, announced he would formally tender his resignation on Monday and was putting his son Praveen Jugnauth, aged 55, forward to succeed him in office.
Opposition is building to the move already with calls for an early election though it appears that the move is legal similar to successions in Britain where a Prime Minister can resign and his party then chooses a successor without going to the polls. Fears are rising that the opposition may fuel unrest and try organize demonstrations, something which could bring negative headlines for the island country and impact on tourism arrivals.

The Busoga Kingdom’s tourism attractions – part 3 of 9


(Posted 21st January 2017)

Part Three of Nine

Cradle of the Nile: Once Uganda’s food basket

Did you know that Busoga was once Uganda’s food basket? Obviously, with the ongoing drought and seemingly food scarcity in the country, it might be difficult for anyone to remember that Busoga was where the food that fed most of Ugandans used to come from. Coffee growing was very predominant in all the districts of Busoga and was a major cash earner for the Basoga, but due to the invasion of Coffee wilt, the farms dwindled.

Although, it has lost that glory, Busoga is the biggest producer of Sugar cane, sustaining several of Uganda’s largest sugar factories. Today there is a sugar factory in almost every district of Busoga and these are: Kakira Sugar Works in Jinja, Kamuli Sugar in Kamuli, Mayuge Sugar in Mayuge and Kaliro Sugar in Kaliro and many more are said in the offing.

Busoga is also the biggest producer of rice, with Kibimba Rice Scheme being the biggest rice plantation in the country located in Bugiri District.

Uganda, a republic straddling the equator, has in more ancient times been ruled by both Kings and Paramount Chiefs, institutions restored by the government of President Yoweri Museveni in 1993/94 as cultural institutions after all traditional ruling structures were abolished by Milton Obote, twice dictator and twice overthrown by military coups.
The Busoga Kingdom is located in the East of Uganda, across the River Nile, which commences its long journey to the Mediterranean Sea in Jinja, known as both the Source of the Nile and the Adventure Capital of East Africa.
The Busoga Tourism Initiative has now released an initial nine short chapters on the history, culture and of course tourism attractions found in the kingdom and
with their explicit permission will all nine chapters be reproduced here in coming days.
The timing is befitting as between the 17th and 19th of February will the Uganda Tourism Board host the annual Pearl of Africa Travel Expo in Kampala and the attractions of the upper Nile valley and further into the Kingdom will be showcased there to nearly 100 hosted buyers and international travel media representatives and travel trade professionals from the entire East African region.

Carlson Rezidor could make an entry into Kampala at the expense of Hilton


(Posted 21st January 2017)

Information has emerged that the hotel on Kampala’s Nakasero Hill, long – for the past 10 years – said to become the Kampala Hilton, is now being taken over by management of the Carlson Rezidor Group, very likely under the Radisson Blu brand.
As reported here precisely a year ago already had Hilton’s management team, while preparing for the opening, left Kampala in haste after – according to insider reports – falling out big time with the Hamid brothers, locally known as the AYA brothers, who have become a byword for difficult owners with more ambition than capacity.

Should indeed Carlson Rezidor have come into play could it be a mere months before the hotel can conceivably open its doors under a new brand, leading to the removal of the Hilton logo which had been put on the building itself, giving the Kampala public the misguided impression that indeed a Hilton Hotel would soon open its doors in Uganda’s capital.
Some significant work remains to be done in finishing the hotel’s interior but given Carlson Rezidor’s capacity should the challenge not be too great for them to live up to.
The hotel group under adverse circumstances last year managed to open the Radisson Blu in Kigali together with the adjoining Kigali Convention Centre in time for the African Union Summit. The year before did they pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat when they opened the Radisson Blu in Nairobi, also under adverse construction conditions, a testament to the ability of the respective management teams to deliver.
Armed with such know how could the hotel’s owners count themselves lucky that Carlson Rezidor decided to, as has been suggested from sources close to the owners, enter into an agreement with them, given their track record over the past ten years. Since 2006, their hotel was due to open for the 2007 Commonwealth Summit, did the building remain a construction site until about two years ago when the completed exterior work and window fitting finally weatherproofed the structure.
Watch this space for further updates as and when added information becomes available.

Link to the article written a year ago about this hotel: https://wolfganghthome.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/the-never-ending-woes-of-what-was-to-become-the-kampala-hilton-hotel/

New terminal at Dar es Salaam airport faces more delays


(Posted 21st January 2017)

Tanzania’s Minister for Transport, one Prof. Makame Mbarawa, recently in the news after lashing out at Tanzania’s foremost airport handling company Swissport in a series of unsubstantiated allegations, was in the bad news again earlier in the week, when he had to concede that the opening of the new airport passenger terminal would face even longer delays.
Under his political oversight has the projected opening once again been pushed further down the line, the second time since he assumed office as transport minister, the new opening date now said to be at the end of the year.
The reasons given to the traveling public and aviation stakeholders in mitigation of this sorry situation can broadly be described as a lack of funds with contractors reportedly owed over 23 billion Tanzania Shillings.
The new terminal building, according to reports only now reaching about two third completion, was initially due to open in August last year before the deadline was pushed to June 2017 only to be missed again – according to an insider entirely due to the lack of timely availability of money.
The addition of Value Added Tax of 18 percent, which the contractors were exempted from when signing the project documents, has further complicated the matter as government was forced to absorb the tax burden after contractors had allegedly indicated they may walk off the job if the original agreement would not be respected.
The Transport Minister also denied that government would need to borrow more funds, over and above the nearly 250 billion Tanzania Shillings already on external loan accounts for the project, claiming the bills would be paid for with internal funds.
The delay comes hot on the heels of the Tanzanian government making major investments in the revival of Air Tanzania with the purchase of three Bombardier turboprop Q400NG’s, two Bombardier single aisle CS300 jets and a commitment to Boeing to purchase a Boeing B787, together worth over half a billion US Dollars.
This development once again puts the spotlight on the minister in regard of performance and competence, and given his recent tongue lashing of Swissport, his ability to keep calm, collected and rational.

INVESTOUR 2017 another huge success


(Posted 21st January 2017)

INVESTOUR, a unique platform for tourism businesses from Africa and Europe to meet has convened more than 20 African Ministers of Tourism at FITUR, the Spanish Tourism Fair. The initiative, now in its 8th edition, has taken place on 19 January in a joint initiative of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Casa Africa.

In the last eight years, INVESTOUR has become a unique platform for exchange of information and for business opportunities in the African continent. The event has counted in its 8th edition with the participation of more than 20 Ministers of Tourism of different African countries who debated the opportunities that the sector can bring to the continent.

INVESTOUR 2017 focused on two main topics: ‘Technology and design of new touristic products’ and ‘Capacity development for youth and women in tourism‘.

INVESTOUR has demonstrated not only the high relevance of such platforms to advance business, but also the immense potential of the tourism sector in the Africa as reflected in the very positive results that the region had in terms of international tourism in 2016‘ said UNWTO Secretary-General, Dr. Taleb Rifai.

For Casa Africa is a privilege to be one of the joint partners of INVESTOUR as this event has become a major reference for African tourism investors,” said the Director General of Casa Africa, Luis Padrón before adding: ‘Our goal is to promote exchanges and to create a platform in which tourism professionals from both shores can meet, discuss, understand each other, and to look for ways to cooperate and to grow‘.

As 2017 will be celebrated worldwide as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, sustainable practices have been particularly addressed by the initiatives presented at INVESTOUR.

In 2016, Africa welcomed 58 million international tourists, up 8 % from 2015. According to UNWTO’s forecast, this figure will reach 134 million by 2030. The interest in tourism business in the continent has also risen. For instance, the number of Spanish companies based in sub-Saharan Africa has multiplied by seven in the last five years. As highlighted by the World Bank in 2015, the fast economic growth and the significant improvement of the business climate in Africa opens new perspectives for international companies.

Since the first edition in 2009, INVESTOUR has brought together over 1.500 participants from 46 African countries and more than 900 projects have been presented. In 2016, more than 300 participants have attended INVESTOUR, including 14 Ministers of Tourism of Africa and Middle-East and numerous Spanish companies which met with more than 100 projects presented by African stakeholders.

2017 – The International Year of Sustainable Tourism


(Posted 21st January 2017)

His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain presided over the event celebrating the launch of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The gathering was attended by ministers of tourism from around the world. The celebration highlighted tourism’s enormous potential to contribute to the development of all countries within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the need to continue advancing towards a more sustainable sector that generates benefits to local communities and promotes the conservation of cultural values and natural heritage.

The event, held in the El Pardo Palace in Madrid, Spain, was attended by the Prime Minister of Georgia, the Vice-President of Honduras, more than 40 tourism ministers and other senior officials from 57 countries.

The UNWTO Secretary-General underscored the continued growth of tourism since the beginning of the crisis – ‘in 2016, more than 1.2 billion people travelled around the world for tourism purposes and another 6 billion people travelled domestically‘ – and emphasized the need to move towards more sustainable tourism in all its dimensions.

In parallel with the growth of the sector, there is also increased responsibility to advance towards greater sustainability, equity, inclusiveness and peace in our societies‘ Dr. Rifai then added.

For his part, His Majesty the King mentioned that ‘there are many reasons for declaring 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, such as greater appreciation of different cultures and thus peace among peoples‘.

To have been chosen as the host country for the launch of the International Year is an acknowledgement of Spain’s commitment in areas such as ecotourism, cultural tourism and agrotourism initiatives‘ he added.

The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 was declared in December 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. The Year was also presented in Madrid on the opening day of FITUR, marking an important milestone in the 2030 Agenda and in the progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Additional information:

Website of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

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