Archive for April 12th, 2017

Mountain Tourism in focus at UNWTO

MOUNTAIN TOURISM POTENTIAL UNEXPLOITED ESPECIALLY IN UGANDA’S MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON

(Posted 12th April 2017)

The potential of mountain tourism to foster economic development, as well as to raise awareness on environmental protection, was the major topic addressed at the 3rd World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Euro-Asian Mountain Resorts Conference. The event was held in Tbilisi, Georgia on 04th to 07th of April, under the patronage of the Ministries of Tourism and of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.

More than 300 participants from 32 countries gathered for the conference.

Opening the event, Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili said: “It is significant to note that mountains make up more than 65% of the country’s landscape, and the government has been active in effectively using the aforementioned resource and advancing opportunities in tourism. According to various studies, Georgian ski destinations have the potential to generate more than 300 million US dollars in revenues from visitors. In this light, the Government of Georgia has focused considerable financial resources on sustainable development of the country’s mountain destinations, including implementation of major infrastructural projects.”

Besides its economic potential for remote areas and isolated regions, mountain tourism is a key catalyst to raise awareness on sustainable tourism and to help us become more committed travelers, institutions and enterprises, a challenge especially pertinent at the present moment as we are celebrating the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development‘ said Dr. Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General.

The conference was structured around five key sessions conducted by 25 international speakers from 17 countries:

1. Sustainable tourism in mountain destinations: challenges and long-term outlook

2. Mountain resort planning: an integrated planning approach and illustration of good practices in developing mountain destinations

3. Investment and incentive policies: legislative framework and investment-friendly practices

4. Product diversification and attracting new markets: a strategic approach to improve the positioning of mountain destinations

5. New revolutionary tools for mountain destinations: innovation and the digital media

Prior to the conference, eight companies and associations joined the Private Sector Commitment to the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism: Adjara Group Hospitality; Caucasus Travel; Explore Georgia; Georgian Events, Georgian Incoming Tour Operators Association; Georgian Tourism Association (GTA); Living Roots; and Tourist Agency ‘VisitGeorgia’.

On the occasion, UNWTO Secretary-General Dr. Taleb Rifai was awarded the Order of Honor by Prime Minister Kvirikashvili for his contribution to the development of tourism in Georgia, for strengthening the relationship between UNWTO and Georgia, and for raising awareness about Georgia as a tourism destination internationally.

African mountain ranges with a substantial potential for tourism activities, like Mt. Elgon in Uganda but also the fabled Mountains of the Moon, aka Rwenzori Mountains, need higher visibility and stronger marketing efforts to sustainably exploit these opportunities and bring in alpinists, mountain hikers and mountain bikers into the country to experience the unique setting of a high profile biodiversity hotspot.

Additional Information:

Programme of the Conference

Save the Date: World Conference on Tourism and Future Energy

World Tourism Organization looks ahead to future challenges

Fastjet’s new top team completed with appointment of Marketing Director

FASTJET APPOINTS ANOTHER FORMER MANGO EXECUTIVE TO TAKE OVER MARKETING OF THE LCC

(Posted 12th April 2017)

Fastjet has earlier today confirmed that Hein Kaiser has joined the executive floor of the pan African LCC, taking charge of Marketing and Corporate Communications of the airline’s offices in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania.
Notably is Hein also a former colleague of CEO Nico Bezuidenhout from his Mango days, signalling a clear direction the company is set to go in coming months given the intake of former Mango executive staff.
Hein last served as Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs and Acting Director of Marketing at Mango before moving across the aisle to Fastjet.
As Fastjet continues to deliver on its vision to make air transportation affordable and accessible to everyone on the African continent, the time is right to invest in specialist leadership for our key business areas. Hein was integral in building the success of the Mango brand, and has been recognised for his strong strategic ability and lateral creativity‘ said Nico Bezuidenhout when making the announcement while Hein then responded saying: ‘I’m looking forward to settling into my new role at Fastjet. I have a great team working alongside me and I have no doubt that together we will build on the existing brand strengths while creating meaningful and impactful campaigns that will contribute to even greater success‘.

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South African court ruling seen as another big threat to rhino survival

SOUTH AFRICA’S CONSERVATION LEGACY GETS KNOCKED DOWN EVEN FURTHER

(Posted 12th April 2017)

New trade ruling spells end for rhinos say conservationists

With the Sumatran rhino officially extinct in the wild, are South Africa’s rhino doomed to the same fate? Earlier this month the country’s 2009 moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn was lifted by the Constitutional Court. This ruling went in favour of private rhino owners and makes it legal to buy and sell rhino horn within South Africa. But with what consequences?

While pro-trader Pelham Jones, chairman of the Private Owners Association, rejoices, saying they, “are absolutely delighted at the ruling,” Minister Molewa says, “It should be noted that the court’s decision should not be construed to mean that the domestic trade in rhino horn may take place in an unregulated fashion.” But conservationists believe trade could mean disaster for rhinos. They question if the government has, “the funding, capacity or expertise to regulate a legal domestic trade and continue to police an illegal one?”

Dr Jo Shaw, WWF’s rhino programme manager says she is, “concerned by the court’s decision… Law enforcement officials simply do not have the capacity to manage parallel legal domestic trade on top of current levels of illegal poaching and trafficking.” Susie Watts of WildAid’s Africa Program agrees, “There is no domestic demand for rhino horn products and, as the pro-trade lobby very well knows, the reason why the moratorium was implemented in the first place was to prevent domestic trade from being used as a cover for smuggling. Legal trade in rhino horn is not the way to stop rhino poaching. All it does is stimulate demand and provide a cover for illegal trade.”

Opponents are also saying the decision undermines the vote held at CITES CoP17 where it was made clear rhino horn trade was not wanted or acceptable. “There is insufficient evidence demonstrating that the necessary conditions with respect to governance in South Africa have, to-date, changed significantly enough to ignore the Committee’s recommendation against trade,” says the International Rhino Foundation.

And it is this inability to manage a potential illicit market that has many experts concerned. DSWF CEO Oliver Smith says that, “where a legalised market, domestic or international, exists you will always find a black market, and most likely a far more voracious one as a result.” Morgan Griffiths of WESSA echoes these statements, “If these regulations are promulgated, we will see a significant rise in poaching, as poachers use the significant loopholes to cater to the increased demand for horn in the Far East.”

It is on this note that WESSA warns, “If demand grows again in these markets, it will put upward pressure on the horn price, incentivising poaching. And it is not just South African rhino populations that DEA’s proposal places at such high risk, but also that of Indian, Javan, northern white, and Sumatran rhinoceros species.”

This does beg the question – what message does a legal rhino horn trade send to Asian markets? “We question whether the purpose of legalising trade is to reduce demand or to try to meet demand. It seems unlikely that a legal trade in rhino horn from one country, even with large stockpiles, could meet the accelerating demand in Asian consumer markets. The new regulation also allows export of two rhino horns per person for ‘personal use.’ Allowing export of horn for personal use implicitly lends credibility to the idea that rhino horn has medicinal value, which is not supported by sound science, but has a very real potential to increase demand.” says the International Rhino Foundation. Smith agrees, “Lifting the domestic ban undermines efforts by international institutions and organisations to change a consumer mind set and legitimises the trade in, and consumption of rhino horn.”

Dr Harriet Davies-Mostert, Head of Conservation at EWT says they are also, “disappointed that the case will not be going ahead.” She says that, “The hard work of a large number of law enforcement authorities should not be undone by legal loopholes, and justice must be brought to bear against those who profit from wildlife slaughter and illegal trade.” Despite these long-term threats, the EWT also points out a pressing issue, wondering what effect this could potentially have, “on various pending large criminal trials.” It’s a point that has also been raised by the Save the Rhino organisation who say that, “The challenge to the moratorium on the domestic trade has already delayed important prosecutions of alleged rhino poaching kingpins or traffickers, such as the cases against Dawie Groenewald and Hugo Ras. Were a domestic trade to be allowed, the defendants might argue that the rhino horns found in their possession were intended for local buyers, rather than being exported.”

This decision that opens more questions than answers, creates more problems than solutions and leaves it unclear whether we can really put a price on rhino horn or if the true cost be the extinction of an entire species?

Light at the end of the tunnel for Mombasa Beach Hotel

VICTOR SHITAKA APPOINTED AS NEW GENERAL MANAGER TO OVERSEE REFURBISHMENTS

(Posted 12th April 2017)

Kenya Safari Lodges and Hotels Ltd, comprising the Mombasa Beach Hotel but also Voi Safari Lodge and Ngulia Safari Lodge, has been in the doldrums for some time with lack of funding by the principal shareholders, high among them the Kenya government, leading to challenges to finance refurbishments and modernization.
It was now learned that Mr. Victor Shitaka, once upon a time General Manager of the Hotel Africana in Kampala and more recently General Manager of Tamarind Mombasa, was now recruited to arrest the slide and oversee the refurbishment of initially the Mombasa Beach Hotel. The funding will reportedly come from the Kenya Tourism Finance Corporation, one of the many tourism related parastatals created under the former Kibaki government.
Located on a high cliff overlooking the beaches between Nyali and Bamburi was the hotel in its heydays much in demand but new competition and regular upgrades by other hotels have seen the hotel lose market share in particular from key overseas source markets sending tourists to the Kenya coast by charter.
Victor’s arrival however gives some hope that sooner or later the Mombasa Beach Hotel will appear with a new shine before work then hopefully also extends to the two lodges which are located in Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks.

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