Archive for March, 2015

Another global hotel brand comes to Rwanda

GOLDEN TULIP HOTELS SIGNS MANAGEMENT DEAL IN KIGALI

(Posted 31st March 2015)

The Rwanda Development Board was reportedly putting the deal together for the owners of the La Palisse Hotel, a new four star project with over 230 rooms and suites to use Golden Tulip Hotels & Resorts to oversee the preopening stage and the manage the hotel.

The proprietors were quoted to have spent over 25 million US Dollars but were still short to put the finishing touches to the hotel for a mid-year opening.

It could not be established if Golden Tulip will arrange to bridge the financing gap.

This brings another international hotel brand to Rwanda, after Marriott’s Protea Hotels were the first to open shop while the Marriott Kigali and the Radisson Blu are still not open. Sheraton too had a while ago indicated that they will open a hotel in Kigali by 2018 but nothing further was heard from them since.

Rwanda’s tourism industry is targeting the MICE sector but requires the new national convention centre to be operational to meet a revenue target give as about 150 million US Dollars over and above the current tourism revenues which for 2014 stood at over 303 million US Dollars according to figures released by the Tourism and Conservation Department of the Rwanda Development Board.

New tourism clips from Reunion now available on YouTube

IRT LAUNCHES 24 SHORT VIDEOS TO PROMOTE REUNION’S ATTRACTIONS AND SERVICES

(Posted 31st March 2015)

Ile de la Reunion Tourisme has now launched 24 individual short videos to highlight the services and attractions of the island, each covering a specific aspect with a duration of just one minute.

The tourism industry is an important sector for the economic development of the island of Reunion. In an effort to better inform the people of Reunion on the tourism sector’s contributions and economic impact at large, has IRT noq produced a series of 24 ​​short awareness videos for to showcase the depth of the tourism sector’s service range.

"Tourism Moments": an immersive discovery of tourism business

Each of the twenty-four different videos ​​invites the viewer to discover variety. Various professionals explain the specific aspects of their business, the tourists who give their impressions on the destination’s attractions, the students who intend to work in the field of tourism, high-level athletes ​​who combine passion and promote the destination as an adventure dream. The clips all have the same objective, informing the public about the many professions and segments of the tourism sector.

If the panel of tourism-related occupations is extensive work in the tourism sector can address seven values ​​in everyday life:

  • the principle of commitment : to make her passion a profession;
  • the principle of movement : working in an evolving;
  • the principle of work : the trades that move;
  • the principle of interaction : working in contact with tourists;
  • the principle of sharing : to offer his experience of the destination to travelers;
  • the principle of pleasure : to contribute to visitor satisfaction;
  • the principle of territory : invest and own the development of the island.

You want to know more about the business of tourism in Reunion? Find "The Tourism Minute" broadcast on the local channel 1st Meeting,

The first of the videos will be screened this Tuesday, March 31st and run through until Friday 01st of May before the evening news at 7 pm across Reunion. For interested readers outside Reunion who are keen to see the videos please click on Tourism Meeting Youtube channel to see the 24 clips.

For more information about Reunion Island visit www.reunion.fr

South Sudan”s currency reserves exhausted as war cost takes its toll

GOING – GOING – GONE … SOUTH SUDAN’S COFFERS LEFT EMPTY AS FOREIGN EXCHANGE RESERVES DISAPPEAR

(Posted 31st March 2015)

There seems to be outright confusion in South Sudan’s capital Juba over an announcement by the country’s Central Bank that their foreign exchange reserves have run out, in other words that no foreign currency is left in the vaults. Foreign exchange bureaus and banks are said to have received no foreign currency to supply the market for a while now, raising additional questions of which way the economy is set to go in the absence of hard cash.

Left with dwindling oil revenues and cash draining away in the ongoing civil war – regime leader Salva Kiir only last week categorically rejected mediated deals which would have seen a power sharing agreement – has seen the country literally go broke.

With tourism revenues near zero too, inspite of some major wildlife resources and natural attractions which could easily see tens of thousands of foreign visitors flock to those sites like Boma National Park or the Sudd, is there little hope of an early economic revival, as other exports are few and far between.

Suppliers of goods and services from the region are said to be nervous over their clients’ ability to pay their import bills and whatever credit terms have in the past been agreed have reportedly been altered into cash upfront or else no deliveries.

The development will also have an impact on travel by South Sudanese abroad as airlines now insist to be paid in US Dollars and fuel shortages are anticipated as the country simply lacks the money to pay for further deliveries. In addition is an inflationary tsunami heading to South Sudan as the value of the local currency on the black market is expected to drop rapidly, making purchases of goods in Juba and other towns ever more expensive.

In 2012 had a similar forex shortage resulted in Kenya’s Jetlink airline go broke as they were unable to repatriate over 2.5 million US Dollars worth of ticket sales money back to Kenyan banks, at the time affecting diplomatic relations as the business community in Nairobi demanded action from their government to protect them against such arbitrary defaults and refusals to pay outstanding bills citing the lack of foreign exchange.

Another international hotel brand comes to Dar es Salaam as the Ramada opening is imminent

NEW DAR ES SALAAM RAMADA INN ANNOUNCES APRIL OPENING

(Posted 31st March 2015)

The 17+ million US Dollar Ramada Resort Dar es Salaam will shortly open its doors, it was learned through a source based in Tanzania’s commercial capital city.

Located along the Jangwani beach do the 121 rooms and 18 suites offer spectacular views across the Indian Ocean. This will be Ramada’s first hotel in Tanzania as the international hotel group seeks to expand its footprint in Africa.

The new resort was constructed incorporating some of the latest technology in conserving electricity and water and in fact has an own waste water treatment plant which todate is still an unusual investment due to the cost involved, but of course speaks for the quality of the project vis a vis sustainability.

It was learned that the beachside resort will target both the business and leisure market and the additional rooms will help to further boost Dar es Salaam’s appeal as a MICE destination. Ramada is one of several international hotel groups which in recent times entered the Tanzanian market, some of them looking ahead towards the country becoming a major natural gas producer after some of the world’s largest reserves were discovered off the Mtwara coast.

Obama visit should give Kenya tourism a boost

OBAMA FINALLY ANNOUNCES VISIT TO KENYA IN JULY

(Posted 31st March 2015)

Airforce One will be making a return to East Africa for a second time in two years when President Obama will finally make good of his promise to visit the land of his father.

In 2013 did Obama skip a visit to Kenya and instead opted to stop over in Tanzania, ruffling many feathers among the Kenyan elite, some of which then skipped an invitation to come to Dar es Salaam. There was intense speculation at the time over President Kenyatta’s pending ICC case but with this dark cloud now lifted – the ICC judges recently discontinued the case in the absence of the prosecution showing any form of solid evidence – has the last obstacle been cleared.

The Obama’s hosted the Kenyatta’s last year during an Africa Summit which took place in Washington DC, and met at the sidelines of the Mandela memorial service, but it was not a one on one meeting as many Kenyans had hoped for.

The occasion for which Obama will come to Nairobi is the Global Entrepreneurship Summit which will take place in Kenya’s capital and tongues are already wagging about the timing of the announcement just days after Britain has inflicted the worst ever anti-travel advisories. ‘If those anti travel advisories would have any substance, do you think Obama would come here? In fact I am sure their Secret Service already has a presence in the country to prepare for his visit. It shows the Brits just have a hidden agenda with us. When Obama in the past flew to Afghanistan or Irak, there was no announcement because he truly flew into a war zone. The Brits make us look as if Kenya is a war zone and yet was the announcement made four months in advance, so go work that out yourself’.

It is expected that the State visit will see President Obama also visit the home area where his father grew up and which he himself visited in 2006 when he served his first term in the Senate but he had been visiting Kenya before to meet his relatives and surviving grandmother at the time.

Meanwhile are the Kenyan social media columns filling up with a variety of sentiments, many related the the expected shutdown of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – at a time when every night the airport is already closed for 6 hours for runway repairs – as well as the expected closure of much of Kenya’s airspace. Traffic congestions too have been mentioned and considering the mega jams in Dar es Salaam two years ago it is not farfetched to imagine the chaos the surely unprecedented security measures will cause across the city’s roads and highways.

Other more mature comments though focused on the marketing value of the Obama visit, hoping that it may help to bring more American tourists into the country and prompt others to either tone down or lift the punishing anti-travel advisories, namely the UK and Australia which are leading the pack in portraying Kenya as a place best not visited.

Let us make good use of this opportunity’ said a Nairobi based safari operator before adding ‘He might go on a short safari while he is here, either the Nairobi National Park or maybe the Masai Mara to see the migration which should be in full swing then. If he does, that should give our tourism sector a big boost’.

It is understood that the strategists at the Kenya Tourism Board are already working on how best to use the visit to help offset the negative British attitude towards the country and inject some added market confidence and interest in Kenya into their global marketing campaign. Watch this space.

When an airline needs armed cops to keep order you know things have gone bad

DID INEPT AIRLINE STAFF CALL COPS ON FRUSTRATED PASSENGERS?

(Posted 31st March 2015)

Comments came in thick and fast all day about yesterday’s article which explained how Jambojet stranded passengers from Ukunda who were destined for their international flight connections in Nairobi. A clearer picture began to emerge today as passenger feedback also started to appear on the airline’s Facebook page but broadly spread across social media via Facebook and Twitter.

When posting the article last night was the airline invited to comment and perhaps explain their side of the story but dismally failed to revert in the space of 24 hours. This is either a sign of contempt for the media or else a pointer that the staff dealing with such issues is hopelessly overwhelmed and / or inept.

Suggestions have been made to this correspondent that the rushed launch of three additional destinations at the Kenya coast, Lamu, Malindi and Ukunda, perhaps may have been too much to integrate into the airline’s existing operations, which were already afflicted by delays and customer complaints in recent weeks.

An added component in the present hullabaloo appears to be the use of just one Bombardier Q400NextGen aircraft to serve not only the coast destinations but also being used on the Eldoret / Kisumu route. According to sources does Jambojet intend to use the turboprop on that route when bookings for the Boeing B737 are light, but then of course adding stress on the rotations to the coast.

It is also still to be explained why pictures obtained from the maiden flight celebration in Ukunda showed what appears to be a Dash8-100 aircraft, perplexing at least some of the more apt observers who had expected the liveried Q400 to make an appearance.

(A picture obtained of the Ukunda maiden flight celebration showing an aircraft with part registration 5Y-*VR visible which is NOT a Bombardier Q400 but looks like a Dash8-100)

Longtime residents from Ukunda continued to file their complaints, three more of which were selected for publication here to show the strength of sentiment by those affected, and also demonstrating that none of them received any kind of acceptable response at the time of uploading the article:

Start text:

Am a frequent traveler of Jambojet a Diani resident and I was very happy to hear the good news when they introduced their new route to Ukunda until today after I booked my moms flight from Ukunda to nairobi ,then nairobi kisumu . After I spoke to several people in call centre namely Florence,Christine,Loren and finally mr. Erick okeyo the supervisor. My mom came to Diani for her regular medical check-up after she had a heart attack which lead to her regular travels to Mombasa on a monthly basis. I did an online checking on your web for seat no. 4D from Ukunda to nairobi at the same time I checked her in online for kisumu to avoid lateness upon arrival to my surprise they left her yet their flight left late from Ukunda which lead to her delay as am writing this no solution was offered to me and my mom of 67yrs is left to sleep on the metallic benches till morning that’s when they will have a solution till tomorrow despite of her age shame on you Jambo Jet you have lost a great client check with your records how frequent I travel with your flights I regret posting good comments and to all my friends I take that back though I had booked my ticket for tomorrow I wish I knew………………

Cheap but useless service.full of delays.shame on jambojet managment.nothing like gd customer service.pilots on go slow.

Thank you for the informations about the flight Nairobi-Ukunda before the Take off on the 29th of March. We didn’t know that we will land in Mombasa and not in Ukunda. 7 hours between Karen (Nairobi) and Diani Beach. The delay was because the staff was searching a laptop in the plane coming from Lamu??? One passenger can create a huge problem like that? What is now the compensation for the passengers? We are just waiting for the comments of the company about this incident. Thank you for your prompt answer.

End text

The only response seen from the airline was in response to one of the comments posted and shared with this correspondent and reads as follows:

Start text:

The flight to Ukunda was delayed in Nairobi and wasn’t able to make it to Ukunda airstrip during daytime. As you know, the Ukunda Airstrip runway has no lights so the flight diverted to Moi International.
The flight from Mombasa had also delayed so there was confusion on the ground as to what was going on when the Ukunda – Nairobi passengers boarded the flight and left the Mombasa – Nairobi passengers there.
Our staff on the ground had challenges explaining what was happening and we apologise for that.
We have streamlined our communication and from today henceforth we have 24hr manned disruptions desk whereby communication will be pushed out to all affected passengers in real time.
Again our sincere apologies for this delay, we trust that we can count on your partnership and continued support by flying with us again in the near future when an opportunity arises.

End text

It is not however that the airline’s troubles ended there with passengers from and to Ukunda filing complaints.

Others travelling out of Mombasa’s Moi International Airport too found themselves delayed as their evening flight with a B737-300 arrive hours late. The comment shown below by Ms. Rosemary Mugambi, Director of Sales and Marketing of Serena Hotels narrates how chaos broke out which was in the end only contained by armed police. She filed her comments at 04.21 hrs after eventually reaching home in Nairobi following a business related trip to the coast while another passenger’s observations, apparently on the flight which delayed to leave Nairobi for Mombasa are also reproduced below:

Today at 4:21am

Jambo jet- Low cost, no frills airline ? The experience I have had at Mombasa airport has left me asking whether no frills and low cost also means no customer care ? I am so puzzled by this I can’t even sleep despite finally getting to Nairobi after 1am this morning, when I should have gotten to Nairobi at 9.15 pm yesterday as per my ticket purchased from Jambojet. When did I learn of the changes with My flight? An announcement a few minutes to 8 that the 8.15 flight departure would be delayed, to 8.45pm. We finally boarded at 12.18am. In between the drama that unfolded was of soap opera proportions ,just not funny at all. I don’t recall any other announcement after that, but I could be excused if I didn’t hear any announcement over the commotion that lasted for quite a while as angry passengers vented. Perhaps there was, but then why would we be screaming at the Jambojet staff for explanations? The screen did show flight information regarding my flight – firstly – delayed, then cancelled, then delayed to 12.15am. Ever wondered what you are supposed to do when you see your flight is cancelled and you don’t know why ? The shouting and venting was partly as a result of this information , it said little as to why the delay, cancellation. And it didn’t help that the Mombasa passengers didn’t know anything about the Ukunda flight problems – no one thought it important to explain that there were transit passengers who obviously were more inconvienced than us, who needed to get on the earliest flight to Nairobi. The Mombasa passengers saw other passengers being pushed through and immediately tempers flew. I felt sorry, terribly sorry for the staff- to be surrounded by angry passengers demanding explanations, accusing Jambojet of mistreatment, racism etc. terrible. But what crisis management guidelines were they following? Surely they did not need to go through that if the situation would have been handled a little , well, a lot better than it was, right from the begining,when Jambojet knew there was a problem – Ukunda flight, transit passengers, delayed flights -a plan of action to handle the situation. I am not saying there was no plan in place, just that the way things turned chaotic it seemed like there was no plan. Or the plan didn’t include showing paying customers that they matter. Perhaps. That s how I felt anyway. Especially when armed cops called to restrain angry passengersfrom pushing open the departure doors made me feel like I was wrong to ask questions. I think we were perfectly within our rights to ask and if people became passionate and excited, it is only because Jambojet did not handle things properly from the beginning. A bad experience

15 hrs ·

Jambo jet . This airline has poorest services. Flight no 8608 from nairobi to mombasa which supposed to depart at 6.30pm has not yet departed upto 8.20pm and dont know when it will depart . Jambo jet does not care for sick people. A woman sitting on a wheel chair since 4.30pm asking for a water which they dont seem attend . Their staff too ignorant to attend the old lady .
Jambo jet is this the hospitality you give to your customers.

End text

Considering that this correspondent gave extensive positive exposure in recent days to Jambojet, this should be sufficient to dispel any potential claims of bias or ill will against the airline, but in cases like this, especially when aggravated as happened over the past days, the truth must be told. Those responsible in running the airline must take a hard look at their staff training, their response procedures, their intervention measures when something goes wrong – and my oh my did things go wrong of late – and their corporate communications team dealing with customer complaints, or as was the case here, did NOT deal with them in any satisfactory manner.

Of course do we all want Jambojet to succeed because Kenya does need a decent low cost airline but hard work is clearly needed to give Kenyans not just acceptable service levels but also reliability and punctuality. Ball in your court and best wishes in addressing all those issues raised by passengers and lastingly resolving the problems.

Soon after uploading did this response from Jambojet come in:

Jambojet wishes to sincerely apologize to its customers for the delay of the Ukunda-Nairobi flight on the evening of Sunday March 29, 2015, necessitating passengers to be ferried to Mombasa for onward travel to Nairobi. The delay was occasioned by operational issues that the airline had not anticipated. We can only operate at the Ukunda airstrip during daylight and due to the late arrival of the aircraft, this was not possible.

Jambojet regrets the inconvenience occasioned to our customers by the delay and wishes to assure them that the airline is working hard to ensure that such a situation does not recur again.

Followed by a second message:

Dear Wolfgang H. Thome,

We note with concern the lack of timely and accurate dissemination of information to you by our team, creating ambiguity and portraying a lack of customer care. We agree that customer service should be consistently provided especially in such situations whereby customers need extra care and attention to ensure smooth travel. The matter has been relayed to the relevant departmental head for a better service delivery in future.

As a customer focused airline, our priority is to ensure that we meet the needs and wishes of our passengers whenever possible and we are therefore sorry to learn that this aim was not achieved.

We regrettably realize that your experience was not characteristic of the service that we take pride in as an airline. Rest assured we are continuously learning from the feedback by our customers, and it will help us improve our services going forward.

Again, we sincerely apologize for this inconvenience. We trust that we can count on your partnership and continued support by flying with us again in the near future when an opportunity arises.

It is clear from both responses that whoever attended to my comments entirely failed to appreciate that this was a media enquiry and that I was NOT one of the affected passengers.

Yes, LOL away … I did …

Air Seychelles / Etihad set for double daily flights to Abu Dhabi

AIR SEYCHELLES / ETIHAD TO GO DOUBLE DAILY ON ABU DHABI – MAHE ROUTE

(Posted 30th March 2015)

Information was received that, without yet confirming a date, Air Seychelles and partner airline Etihad will move from the present 13 weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and Mahe to a full double daily service. According to the details obtained each of the two partner airlines will operate 7 flights a week, Air Seychelles with their wide body Airbus A330 and Etihad with their Airbus A320, both offering a two class cabin layout.

This development comes hot on the heels of the announcement by the airline that they will re-launch a three times a week nonstop service from Mahe to Paris, which will substitute the previous twice weekly flights from Mahe via Abu Dhabi.

French and Seychelles’ tourism sources have expressed their delight over this development as it will no doubt boost visitor numbers from France to the archipelago and help to have the French market once again become the leading producer of tourist visitors to the islands.

Another source from Victoria commented on the double daily frequencies as follows: ‘When this happens it is good news because Air Seychelles has many code shared flights with airlines in Europe. Passengers will be able to connect to us with two options every day and even a flight delay will not strand them completely’.

In a related development was it learned that the twice weekly flights from Mahe to Dar es Salaam have made a real impact in Tanzania as many travelers take advantage of the extraordinary bargain fares the airline offers for flights, via the Seychelles, to Abu Dhabi / Dubai and to Mumbai, which sell, all taxes included for US Dollars 280 and US Dollars 408.50 respectively. Feedback from travel circles in Dar in fact have indicated that other airlines are warily watching Air Seychelles as in particular their transit passenger numbers via Mahe continue to grow, largely at their expense of course as such fares are simply too good to pass.

For schedule information and other details click on www.airseychelles.com

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