Archive for December, 2015

Global Safety and Security – another Relativity Theory

TAKE THE ADVENTURE BUT LEAVE THE RISK – UNTIL NOW EASIER SAID THAN DONE

(Posted 31st December 2015)

The 2015 Africa Travel Association Congress in Nairobi had lined up an impressive speaker list, some of which were truly inspirational while others, less for the topic than for the presentation, had this correspondent scrambling for tea to stay awake.

Not so however with Michael Becker, the CEO of GeoSure Global, whose topic and presentation provided an insight into how state of the art risk assessment was to be done, what needed to be factored in and how it needed to be shared.

He fittingly mentioned Kenya as an example, where the entire destination was slapped down with some of the harshest antitravel advisories imaginable, published first by Britain – clearly to push their own political agenda – and soon to be followed by the UK’s senior partner in crime, pun fully intended, the United States and some other Western crony nations.

The fallout was swift and literally destroyed the Kenya coast tourism industry when visitors were literally dragged off their beach side sunbeds, bundled into busses, driven to the international airport in Mombasa and flown home in a fully blown panic attack by their tour operators.

Dozens of resorts closed as a result though there was no shred of concrete evidence offered that tourists and beach resorts had been the target of terrorists. Tens of thousands of primary, secondary and tertiary jobs were lost, destroying livelihoods with an impunity rarely seen before while High Commissioners and Ambassadors spoke with forked tongues about just how much they loved Kenya and wanted to help Kenyans improve their lives. The fallout continued and then also hit the safari sector of Kenya, with a steep decline in bookings and – at least until last month – constantly falling visitor numbers. Conferences were cancelled, among them by the selfprofessed tourism friendship association SKAL which literally lost their proverbial shoes as their top honchos cut Kenya loose and ran.

It was such issues this correspondent, and eTN’s publisher Juergen Thomas Steinmetz discussed repeatedly with Michael Becker, agreeing on the need to treat different locations in a destination according to the local threat levels and not, as was the case in Kenya, punish an entire country with what in hindsight turned out to be a storm in a teacup presented as a Category 6 Hurricane by the perpetrators of the antitravel advisories.

Michael now made good of his promise to share some updated information about GeoSure Global and what services the organization offers, allowing potential travelers to a country like Kenya to make sense of the various locations and where to safely visit or which places best to avoid.

Wrote Michael in a mail just received:

Start quote:

GeoSure Global is a new technology providing personalized travel safety information. GeoSure solves the problem of location uncertainty and imprecise travel safety information, anywhere in the world. Available free in iOS and Android, GeoSure analyzes massive amounts of data from global sources fueling proprietary risk algorithms, delivering powerful, super granular safety ratings for nearly every city in the world. GeoSure provides “context” around safety by rating from 1 (perfectly safe) to 100 (extremely dangerous) for six safety categories: overall, physical harm, theft, basic freedoms, disease & medical and women’s safety, to assess relative safety, detailed to the street level. Data rich city safety ratings to this level of granularity have not existed until now.

In addition, ground truths (crowd-sourcing) enables users to share their experiences with others to help the community with safety tips, ideas and to reflect what’s really happening street level, real-time, anywhere. GeoSure is a worldwide platform for responsible users to share and post their experiences and insights – both favorable and unfavorable views – about cities, neighborhoods, tourist attractions, or anywhere travelers and citizens may visit.

To our knowledge, GeoSure has the only dedicated, data-rich women’s safety category for world-wide destinations. Use the personalization button for greater safety rating precision.

GeoSure is disrupting existing global safety information providers [such as foreign office antitravel
advisories] and traditional risk maps, and is an invaluable travel tool for planning trips and during travel. It is also essential to share information daily about your own city or neighborhood at home for locals as well as out of towners to help understand safety conditions and to keep neighborhoods safer through awareness.

GeoSure has a platform, innovative solution and plan to help support tourism economies across Africa. We believe technology, utilized by conscientious citizen stakeholder/advocates, sharing their experiences locally in an accurate and responsible fashion, can reflect what’s really happening on the ground in Africa, real-time (“ground truths”). That information, if collected and distributed throughout the global travel ecosystem, can indicate an outlook which may be vastly different from misperceptions and help de-escalate negative impressions and misunderstandings travelers have about certain countries on the continent. By empowering citizens of Africa to express their observations on a localized basis, city and country safety awareness becomes a very powerful by-product of the initiative.

In addition to our technical solution, GeoSure has a plan to raise money from global Foundations dedicated to economic development to implement the initiative. If the plan can help to retain tens of thousands of jobs across Africa and help sustain the enormous revenue impact tourism has on the continent, cities, countries and the global tourism industry will flourish. Africa and many countries on the continent can play a key role in a sweeping change for the global travel & tourism industry.

GeoSure aims to elevate safety awareness worldwide, empower travelers and support tourism economies by reflecting shared insights on a highly localized basis and quantifying safety conditions for the benefit of countries, citizens and travelers.

Please visit the GeoSure website and download today from the App Store and Play Store!

End quote

No doubt is this one of the major new tools for the tourism industry in Africa, and of course beyond, where from hyped up Ebola scares to bar talk turned truth reporting by sections of the international media the continent’s main destinations for tourists have been anything from being talked down to literally being blacklisted. If GeoSure Global can deliver accurate and constantly updated risk assessments, free of the bias often shown by foreign office and embassy staff, it will be a major bonus for the tourism sectors in affected countries. In particular tourism boards should grab the opportunity to engage with GeoSure Global and see that they can paint a different picture about their respective destinations, offering clear and undisputable advice of where it is safe to visit and where not. This could avoid any repeat of a situation where perfectly safe safari tours are treated under the same threat levels as travel to for instance the Somali border would.

On this note is of course reading eTN and ATC News the next best alternative to find out about the situation on the ground in any destinations around the world and in particular in Africa, where a network of contributing writers and a large number of industry sources always provide the most accurate picture about a country. Little if anything escapes our correspondents and writers, one reason why eTN is the global market leader and ATC News has become the largest travel and aviation blog along the entire Eastern African seaboard and beyond.

For today though, it is from me and my colleagues a Happy New Year, Happy Landings and Safe Travels – not just today but for the entire 2016 and beyond.

Reunion – a year in review

#gotoreunion

Many personalities and VIP’s traveled to the island of Reunion in 2015. Among those we had the pleasure to welcome during their stay in the tropics Amaury Lavernhe alias Moz , champion of bodyboard and honorary ambassador of the island of Reunion. Having won the title of champion of France 2014 World Champion in 2014 overall in the global trade round, two individual medals including one gold in drop-knee and silver in Open Men, two medals as captain the France team including one gold in team relay and a silver in the team standings at the end of the world championships (ISA Games 2014), Amaury Lavernhe continued to expand his list already rich by getting the award for best surfer in 2014 by the French Federation. In 2015, it is a well-deserved rest awaited on his native island where he came relax with family.

Amaury Lavernhe

As every year, the triathlon champion David Hauss visited the island of Reunion in 2015. The honorary tourism ambassador of Reunion took advantage of his stay to recharge his batteries on the island. For one who is seeking qualification at the upcoming Rio Olympics in 2016, his stay also allowed him to train under the sun.
David Hauss

Journalist and honorary tourism ambassador of Reunion Sophie Gastrin made ​​the move into the Indian Ocean to unveil her first cookbook Reunion cuisine. His book "Island of Reunion Kitchen" (Eyrolles) appeared in bookstores in February 2015. Inputs, dishes, desserts, side dishes, a total of 25 menus are cooked by personalities of the island La Réunion, including 50 recipes of starters and main courses, side dishes and 7 desserts twenty sparkle that make the taste buds of gourmets and gourmands. Note that the collection, richly illustrated, is accompanied by a complete list of outlets where to source products from Reunion, in all major metropolitan cities.

Sophie Gastrin

The Canadian singer Roch Voisine was on Reunion Island for a unique concert on Friday, April 10, 2015. The world tour Roch & Folk made ​​a stopover in the Indian Ocean, to the delight of fans waiting to see him perform on Reunion for nearly 25 years. Beyond his concert, the Canadians made ​​the most of their stay in the island and walked away with suitcases full of tasty memories of sharp Bourbon coffee, Bourbon vanilla, cane sugar, and that a book of Creole recipes.

Roch Voisine

A true legend of Indian music, Lakshminarayanan Shenkar alias L. Shenkar was on the island of Reunion in April 2015, as part of the 8th Night of Virtuosos. Violinist and exceptional vocalist, he performed a series of concerts in unusual settings across Reunion Island.

Shenkar

Babette Rozières needs no special introduction! Shooting on the island for the magazine "The Little Dishes of Babette", the queen of Creole cuisine was able to discover, beyond the typical products and culinary specialties, natural and cultural heritage of the island, without forgetting the local population just as mixed as gastronomy.

Babette Rozières

Chef Grégory Cuilleron also flew to the island of Reunion in 2015, for the second season of ‘La Tournee des Popotes’. New encounters with local specialities, he was introduced to Reunion cuisine, local products and recipes that are hallmarks of the cuisine of the island’s popular rougail sausages, lychees and pineapples sunny, herbal teas local and turmeric with beneficial properties, or the live larvae called unusual zendettes!

Grégory Cuilleron

They are young, they are funny and failing to wear a mustache, they appear on all their videos. This is of course Golden Moustache, or at least four members of the group of comedians who shows their video clips and sketches on the Youtube channel. In 2015, Julien Josselin, Valentin Vincent, and Adrien Menielle Flober left their Parisian apartments and flew to the island of Reunion in order to turn a real fiction in the natural settings of the island. ‘Tresor de la Buse’ is a production with the Gentiles, villains, twists, effects (very) special action, derision and emotion in a word, almost, a blockbuster on the global web. A real buzz to the island of Reunion did this hit clip generate more than one million views!

Golden Mustache

Singer Julien Doré was visiting the island of Reunion for the Sakifo Musik Festival. With his musicians, he unplugged his hits "Heaven" and "Paris-Seychelles" on the beach of Grand Anse.

Julien Doré

Jonny Joburg is a South African rapper. On the occasion of his concert at the Sakifo Musik Festival, he took the opportunity to shoot a session in the narrow lanes of the market of St. Peter.

Jonny Joburg

The South African group Mi Casa also visited the island of Reunion for the Sakifo Musik Festival. Like Julien Doré and Johnny Joburg, they recorded an acoustic sequence in their song "La Vida" in front of a Banyan tree.

Mi Casa

Cauet, the comedian, DJ, producer, in short the Swiss knife of PAF, was on the island of Reunion for a double show: the end of his tour with his one man show " Cauet on Stage "and as a DJ. Cauet visited Reunion to thank his fans who sent him many messages. Based on the west coast, he was able to enjoy the seaside resort of Saint-Gilles and had the opportunity to discover the island from the sky in a helicopter before returning to mainland France.

Cauet

For its 400th issue, Archipelagos magazine had planned a series of reports devoted to the island of Reunion. For the presenter Akhoun Elyas, a native of the island and Honorary Tourism Ambassador of Reunion, the choice of destination does not happen by chance. In 2015, he was shooting sequences on the island for six special issues in Reunion.

Elyas Akhoun

The first time Ceet touched ground on Reunion was ten years ago. This world-famous street artist is a pioneer in the arena of graffiti and has imposed his talent and his signature chicken on the international stage. For him to come Reunion was a breath of fresh air. Ceet, who visited the island twice in 2015, also advises artists from around the world to discover Reunion, like him.

Ceet

Mary Pierce, the last French winner of a French Open title at Roland Garros, was on the island of Reunion in May 2015. The former champion visited for the first edition of the WTA Internationaux de La Réunion for which she was the Patron.

Mary Pierce

Maxime Dereymez, Denitsa Ikonomova, Katrina Patchett … all artists of the troupe of Pendanse which introduces personalities through the program "Dancing with the Stars" took part in the tenth edition of the Vita Dance Festival 2015. Alongside these renowned figure heads, comedian Rayane Bensetti, also known for his duo with Denitsa Ikonomova at Dancing with the Stars 5, had made ​​the trip. Beyond the event, the company was able to enjoy the pleasures of the beach and the lagoon Reunion and send into the air during a paragliding baptism.

Rayane Bensetti and troop OF Pendanse

Teddy Riner, the French judo legend and record holder of individual world titles in the men category, spent a week in Reunion in 2015, alternating between discovering the island and bringing awareness of the discipline to the public of Reunion. On this occasion, the judoka also received the honorary title of Tourism Ambassador of Reunion.

Teddy Riner

Yannick Jauzion has a most impressive sporting portfolio. Sponsor of the second edition of Golfers Rugbymen Trophy Reunion, the former international rugby star with 75 selections to the nationalteam was awarded the honorary degree of toursim ambassador of La Réunion in October 2015.

Yannick Jauzion

The French athlete Renaud Lavillenie was on Reunion Island at the end of November 2015. For the seventh consecutive year, the tourism honorary ambassador of Reunion came to train with the France pole vault team under the sun of the Southern Hemisphere. Athletes have also performed a special show jumping on the Boucan Canot beach with a demonstration of their discipline.

Renaud Lavillenie

Seychelles’ charismatic tourism minister reflects on 2015 as he wishes everyone a Happy New Year

Alain St.Ange of the Seychelles issues end of year message to the island’s tourism & culture related industries

(Posted 30th December 2015)

As we prepare to bid farewell to 2015, it was important for me to reflect on what we have achieved together for our country’s tourism and also its culture related industries. I must say that I feel incredibly proud of our achievements, because on the one hand it is today accepted by everyone right across the political divide that we have indeed brought Seychelles tourism to a new level, and secondly it is obvious that today in Seychelles, culture in all its dimension, is once again being discussed as an important industry for our people.

I am the first to recognise that all this was achieved because we did it together, and this we did for Seychelles. Can I start by saying what a huge privilege and pleasure it was for me to have held the tourism and culture portfolios. Many have said and continue to say that I had been entrusted with the most burdensome but wonderful roles that there is in the country. Burdensome because the Ministry of Tourism and Culture through tourism has the economy of the country on its shoulders, and through culture we have been entrusted to place the Seychellois people at the very centre of our nation’s development, because we cannot have culture if we do not respect our people.

We know that there is still much to do but I hope with you, as members of the private sector trade, we shall continue to look together at the vision we have paved out together for our islands’ tourism and culture industries. But as we wave goodbye to 2015 it is important to reflect that in the tourism industry of Seychelles, we have achieved what was deemed a dream. Seychelles has now recorded 271,989 visitor arrivals as at 27th December for the first time ever. This is 19% over the 2014 figures which stood at 229,034. The success of the tourism industry has enabled the IMF to recognise that Seychelles’ economy is performing better than expected because the islands’ tourism industry was performing. Today, we can safely assume that we shall end 2015 with over 275,000 visitors and establish a new record for Seychelles.

Many of our hotels, and this even in some of the small home-grown properties, as well as the tourism supporting businesses have come out with innovations to show that they are today ready to be counted as the backbone of the country’s economy. They have all worked, and continue to work closely with the Seychelles Tourism Board. This is why I need to again use this opportunity to acknowledge the successes of our Tourism Board. The investments into the tourism industry by many more Seychellois is due in great part of the confidence in our tourism industry. The same can be said about general investments in tourism and this includes major capital investments by hotels and resorts, re-investments by DMCs etc. The Seychelles Tourism Board supported by the department of tourism on the ground has kept Seychelles visible in the four corners of the world, and they have worked with the private sector to not only consolidate our existing tourism source markets, but also in opening new markets for our tourism industry. Our 19% increase in visitor arrivals over last year, shows that Seychelles is today visible and this has ensured that we remain relevant as a tourism destination.

On the culture front, our work has finally paid off and today our culture and its related industries is once again being discussed everywhere. The artists have themselves declared that we are undergoing a cultural revolution in Seychelles. We have once again got an Arts Gallery, and our National Collection can once again be seen and admired by one and all. The National Arts Council has continued to spread the values of our culture, and our Museums, Archives, Library, Kreol Institute, Heritage Foundation, Heritage Research, National Conservatoire of Performing Arts,Copyright Department and Film Unit Department teams are on board and ready to start 2016 running to continue to deliver for Seychelles.

For the economy of Seychelles to be right we need tourism. Our Tourism Board and our Tourism Academy will continue to work alongside our private sector partners for the benefit of our tourism industry.

This is why we keep putting emphasis on tourism and we thank people who are devoted to helping tourism grow" I said when I addressed our ministry’s end of year general staff meeting.

“Let us keep putting culture at the base of our tourism and by this we are getting our people to be involved and to take ownership of our country’s key industry,” I also said as I requested at the same time that more emphasis should be put on the training of our staff in all the departments and bodies falling within the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

During this meeting I also thanked all staff of the ministry for their hard work and dedication for this year as I said the successes of the ministry was thanks to the hard work of each staff member.

“It is the dedication of our staff members which ensured that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture closes this year on a good note,”

"The ministry has attained a lot and has overcome a number of challenges. We are able to deliver because we can and we want to deliver. For us to succeed, we need to keep being united as one in the ministry. We need to work together as a team. We must take into account that challenges will never stop, but we should always remain connected and in unity as a ministry.” I said.

In that address at the International Conference Centre (ICCS), I also spoke about various key areas of focus for this year including the ministry’s door to door visits, the fungus problem at the National Cultural Centre, the marketing of Seychelles as a destination and its visibility as well as the many recognition the islands have received over the past months.

I want to end by wishing each and everyone of you a Happy New Year and to wish you continued success in your endeavors.

Alain St.Ange

Minister of Tourism and Culture

Going to FITUR? Why not attend the UNWTO 12th Awards Forum?

The registration for the 12th UNWTO Awards Forum, and for the 12th UNWTO Awards Ceremony is now open on the UNWTO website.

The 12th UNWTO Awards Forum will be held on Monday 18th January, from 14:30 to 21:30, at Palacio Neptuno (Calle de Cervantes, 42, 28014 Madrid).

This UNWTO Awards Forum showcases the outstanding achievements of UNWTO Awardees. It also serves as a world-class platform to share and learn about the most innovative and inspiring trends and development for the tourism sector. The keynote speakers of this 12th Edition Forum are:

The registration for the Awards Forum is free and available at no cost. UNWTO encourages early registration as there is a limited capacity at the venue. The finalists, speakers and attendees will have the opportunity to meet during the networking-cocktail provided by Seville Tourism Board right after the Forum.

Please note that due to increasing demand, registration for both events will be handled on a first come, first served basis.

If you want to register, and if going to attend FITUR you absolutely should, please click here

And my top target for a visit in 2016 is …

THE ONE WHICH GOT AWAY IN 2015

(Posted 30th December 2015)

Those conversant with my writings will surely have heard of North Island, Seychelles’ most high profile and shrouded in secrecy resort, chosen by among many of the world’s glitterazi and influentials the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Clooneys for their honeymoon.

But no, it is not my failure to visit North Island during my periodic trips to the paradise archipelago of the Seychelles, it is the other property mentioned in one breath in the picture above.

I have for some time now given prominence to the Segera Conservancy, the Zeitz Foundation’s work in Kenya, Zeitz MOCAA, the Zeitz Collection and of course their 4C approach on how they do ‘business’.

Since 2014 do I have a pending invitation to come and see the Segera Retreat, one of Kenya’s finest of its kind and set on a 50.000 acres conservancy. Six private villas, only topped by the unadulterated luxury of the Segera House and the Villa Segera, provide a unique getaway from the hectic life for those chosen few, who can afford the reported 15.000 US Dollar price tag of North Island. Now for ten years in the hands of Jochen Zeitz, who purchased the land in 2005 and turned it immediately into a wildlife conservation area, has Segera embraced like few others the concept of Community, Conservation, Culture and Commerce, the already mentioned 4C approach the owners adopted as a credo for their way how to do business. In 2009 did Jochen then establish his Zeitz Foundation and in 2013 was the Segera Retreat opened, offering a new dimension in luxury, services, food but also by the resort’s art collection, art classes and options for spiritual renewal.

I know that some readers will now begin to doubt my sanity of how I can for the better part of a year and a half NOT go and take up such an invitation, but the deck of cards was sort of stacked against me until now. Either was the resort full when I had time, or closed for the rainy season like in November, or else I was unavailable due to other assignments, be it to the Seychelles or Zimbabwe and anywhere in between, or like in September when away for a family wedding.

In 2016 however there will be no such twists and turns in my road to Segera.

Ruth Mbogo, who is based in Nairobi at the Segera sales, marketing and reservations office, has been providing me with information and details, and reminders to visit from time to time. Only last week she sent a picture gallery which left even this hardened 5 star traveler in sheer awe. Exquisite furnishings go hand in hand with collectors’ items and art pieces, a reminder of my stay at the ‘Residence on the Rocks’. This fine retreat is located next to the Banyan Tree on Mahe and owned by Karl Ammann, who incidentally lives in Nanyuki, not too far from the Segera Conservancy. In fact, my coupling of the Segera Retreat and the Seychelles would be making use of this extraordinary property, where two very similar mindsets of owners combine, both being strong believers and supporters of conservation and culture.

(Some of the most striking images of the Segera Retreat, leaving no room for doubt that 2016 will finally be the year I visit this gem on the Laikipia plains)

My interest to finally tie up a visit to Segera was actually rekindled by Conde Nast’s selection of the Segera Retreat in their 2016 Gold List, which, while officially published only in January has nevertheless come to this correspondent’s attention and affirmed the quality of this property. Segera is one of only eight African properties and of a total of 142 extraordinary hotels, lodges and retreats selected from around the world, giving an insight where the rich and famous of today are going to spend their holidays at. It goes to show that Kenya, as a destination, has everything going for it, catering for the charter tourist market at the Kenyan coast with two week packages going for as low as a thousand dollars all inclusive to the 2.000 US Dollars per person per night safari retreats only chosen by those who do not need to ask for the cost as they put the charge on their Platinum or Black credit cards.

I have no doubt that my feature on Segera will be one of the most read in 2016 and while I am not letting on my visiting dates in advance there will be a news flash across my social media platforms as and when the visit has taken place.

Let it be another year of enjoyable travel with no luggage lost, no missed flight connections, few if any delays, seat neighbours who do not think of me as a priest to confess their life-story to, working high speed internet along the way, Jacuzzi’s in the bathroom or on the outer deck, 5 star luxury accommodation and culinary delights galore and last but not least, giving my palate pleasure instead of testing how ironclad my stomach is. And when on the road or traversing the wilderness anywhere between the Sudans and Zimbabwe, always one puncture less than the number of spare tires carried.

For now however it is Happy New Year 2016 from me to all my readers, those who follow my exploits via eTN and those who prefer to read the full nine yards on ATC News East Africa.

WWW.SEGERA.COM | WWW.WILDERNESS-COLLECTION.COM | WWW.THELONGRUN.COM | WWW.ZEITZFOUNDATION.ORG

Will Tanzania’s ‘Corridor of Destruction’ turn into a corridor of conservation again?

PROFESSOR MAGHEMBE SETS NEW DIRECTION WITH PLEDGES TOWARDS ANTIPOACHING, ILLEGAL LOGGING AND TO BOOST TOURISM PROMOTION

(Posted 30th December 2015)

Unlike the former holder of the Natural Resources and Tourism portfolio, one Lazaro Nyalandu, who during his time in office diddled and fiddled, clearly afraid of the powers that be in Tanzania, has Prof. Jumanne Maghembe come out with all guns blazing, when he declared his priorities following the swearing in by President Magufuli just before Christmas.

Prof. Maghembe wasted no time to give Tanzania’s tourism and conservation fraternity the ‘Sound of Music’ when he named stepped up antipoaching operations, a clamp down on illegal logging and illegal tropical wood exports and boosted tourism promotion as key areas in his portfolio on which he will initially concentrate.

Past ministers in the Kikwete regime, with the exception of Amb. Khamis Kageshekki, all treaded very softly in regard to antipoaching efforts, suggesting they knew on whose toes they would step if they came down hard on the suspects. When Kagesheki was pushed out of cabinet after drawing up the now notorious list of 300 main suspects in government, the party and among other high ranking officials was the writing on the wall for his successor to do little else but pay lipservice, something which ultimately cost him his job when President Magufuli put together his cabinet list of performers, not talkers.

Already in the dying days of the Kikwete regime were major arrests made and while there reportedly was some interference this died down swiftly – confirmed by several conservation sources in Tanzania – when the shift in direction from the top became apparent. President Magufuli quickly established himself as a no-nonsense president and his stern warning to the private sector to pay outstanding taxes and duties or else within the space of two weeks yielded nearly two trillion Tanzania Shillings in payments. Combined with the sacking of key officials from the Tanzania Ports Authority and the Tanzania Revenue Authority was the writing on the wall that there was no longer a looking the other way from the top, as was the case under the Kikwete regime, but that everyone either shaped up or else, voluntarily or involuntarily, shipped out.

More antipoaching arrests have since taken place and a source close to TANAPA has confirmed that they were promised added resources for surveillance, monitoring, outright hunts for poaching gangs, investigations and prosecutions.

Under the Kikwete regime were the Eastern Arc Mountains removed from the list of applicants for the coveted UNESCO World Heritage Status, leading to an invasion of illegal loggers and miners which has in the space of just four years left huge scars on the forests. Again has Prof. Maghembe come out to declare his intention to clamp down on this unsustainable practice which within a few more years could have stripped Tanzania of large swathes of forest, bringing with it a massive environmental impact on the country.

These measures are bound to support the Tanzanian tourism sector which has been trodding along a wobbly path over the past year and the promise to raise visitor numbers from the present 1.2 million to three million by the end of this term of government is indicative that more resources will be made available to promote the country, at home for a rise in domestic tourism, in the region – here it is hoped that Tanzania will join the single tourist Visa initiative by the NICP countries – and of course in the key consumer markets abroad like North America, Europe, the Middle East and the emerging markets in Asia.

We welcome the commitment made by Professor Maghembe’ said a source from Arusha before adding ‘Here at Kilimanjaro we have international flights from KLM, Turkish, Qatar, Fly Dubai, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines to name a few. Tourism wants to work hand in hand with them to increase loadfactors. More international airlines fly to Dar es Salaam like Swiss, South African Airways, Emirates and Etihad and the same applies there too. And for Zanzibar we have Oman Air, Fly Dubai, Qatar Airways and Kenya Airways and they all connect passengers from their network to the island. The Tanzania Tourist Board needs some new focus and learn to really work hand in hand with the private sector. In fact the private sector should be put in the driving seat when it comes to policy and implementation of strategies how to promote Tanzania because we know better than some of those bureaucrats. We expect changes and are confident that the new government, the new minister, will deliver those to achieve his goals’.

Other areas where all eyes are now on the new government are the hugely controversial Serengeti Highway, where conservationists hope that the route around the Southern end of the Serengeti will be chosen to avoid the massive impact increased traffic will have on the migration of wildebeest and zebras. The same applies to the mud flats of Lake Natron, which are the only breeding ground for the millions of flamingos from the Eastern African region where the Kikwete regime, irrespective of the impact of their plans, wanted to build a soda ash plant. Meanwhile at the coast there is renewed hope that the hare brained plans to build a deep sea harbour in the shallow bay of Mwambani, the centre of the Coelacanth Marine Park, will be thrown into the dustbin to concentrate on the more viable port projects of either Tanga or Bagamoyo.

Uranium mining in the Selous Game Reserve too proved to be hugely controversial with few details released on the potential toxicity of the venture. The proposed hydropower plant at Stiegler’s Gorge, in the heart of the Selous’ core tourism area, is also still hanging in the balance, leaving much more to be watched and concerned about how the new government under President Magufuli will deal with those pending monstrosities.

But for now are all signs so far positive that both President and Minister are on course to restore Tanzania’s erstwhile reputation as a conservation nation, after years of pillage and rape of natural resources under the old regime.

FlyAfrica Zimbabwe gets AOC back but will they return to the skies anytime soon, or ever?

TIME FOR A NEW REVOLUTION?

(Posted 29th December 2015)

Reports from Harare suggest that Fly Africa Zimbabwe has managed to get their Air Operator Certificate back, reportedly after making a major downpayment to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority which had filed a claim of some 2.4 million US Dollars against the airline. Where those funds came from could not be ascertained though a Zimbabwe based aviation source suggested it could have been an investor ready to take a gamble with their money. If this will trigger another aviation revolution in accordance with the airline’s slogan remains however to be seen.

It could not be established if the local Zimbabwean partners will not take the matter back to court as their own grievances against the Fly Africa management based outside Zimbabwe have apparently not been addressed, as a recent comment posted by them on this correspondent’s blog confirms.

The leased aircraft by Fly Africa Zimbabwe has also been returned to the lessors when it became apparent that the flight ban, contrary to constant assurances given by the airline on social media, was to take a while to be lifted, almost to the day now for two months.

Local aviation sources in Harare also claim that the exodus of staff from Fly Africa, allegedly over non-payment of wages and salaries, will make it difficult for the airline to resume flight operations any time soon, besides the massive loss of confidence in the market over the past promises not kept and scores of clients still waiting for refunds. No update has been posted on the Fly Africa Zimbabwe Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/flyafrica/) with the last entry being an utterance over the airline’s problems with phone connections, dated 09th of December. Perhaps the social media team of Fly Africa Zimbabwe has also defected? Time will tell so keep watching this space for more updates on this never-ending story.

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