Archive for May 7th, 2017

UNWTO election fever – a final analysis

BEN OHENE-AYEH OF GHANA SPEAKS HIS MIND ON UNWTO CAMPAIGN MALPRACTICES

(Posted 07th May 2017)

#UNWTOElections:The battle for the next Secretary-General of the UNWTO A microscopic analysis of candidates and their chances of becoming the SG)

May 7, 2017

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The battle lines have been drawn for the election of the next Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The election to elect the new Secretary General will climax the next executive council meeting of the UNTWO schedule to take place in Madrid, Spain between 9th and 12th May, 2017. Madrid is the headquarters of the UNWTO and the Election Day is 12th May, 2017.

In all thirty-three countries (33) form the Executive Council and they will vote to decide the Secretary General of the organization. So far, six candidates from America and Georgia (Eastern Europe), Brazil and Colombia (Latin America), Seychelles and Zimbabwe (Africa) and South Korea (Asia) have submitted their candidatures to contest for the headship of the UNWTO.

From Georgia, Zurab Pololikashvili has shown strong desire to win the coveted position. Pololikashvili previously served the Government of Georgia in various capabilities, including the position of Deputy External Affairs Minister. Through that position, he gained a lot of insight into public service, foreign policies and international relations. Zurab Polollikashvilli also served as Ambassador of Georgia to Spain as well as permanent Representative of his country to the World Tourism Organization.

From Brazil comes Marcio Favilla, who currently serves as Executive Director for Operational Programmes and Institutional Relations at the UNWTO Headquarters since 2014. Between 2010 and 2013, Mr. Favilla was appointed the head of Competitiveness, External Relations and Partnership Department of the World Tourism body.

Colombia fielded Jaime Alberto Cabal Sanclemente as their candidate for the coveted position at the UNWTO. As Ambassador of Colombia to the Republic of Korea with concurrent Accreditation to the Philippines and Mongolia (2011-2013) Mr. Sanclemente wield tremendous experience and influence in world diplomacy and international relations. Back home where he was President of the Hotel and Tourism Association of Colombia (COTELCO) (2002-2011), President of the Small and Medium Enterprises Business Association (1994-1999) as well as President of the Colombian Business Association Council (1998-1999). Mr. Sanclemente again served as Minister for Economic Development (1999-2000) in addition to his appointment as Minister-Designate for Work, Agriculture Foreign Trade in his home country. He studied Industrial Engineering at the Javeriana University in Bogota. He also studied Economics at Georgetown University. He holds a Masters’ Degree in Economics from American University in Washington DC.
The two candidates from Africa are Mr Alain St Ange from the island paradise of Seychelles and Dr. Walter Mzembi from Zimbabwe.

Alain St Ange has been working in the Seychelles Tourism sector since 2009. He served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Tourism Board. He was again appointed first President of the Indian Ocean islands regional Organization for tourism in 2012. In the same year He took over as Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture, a position he resigned after years of service.
Dr. Walter Mzembi is the Zimbabwean Minister of Tourism. He is also a member of Masvingo South House of Assembly Member.

South Korea’s Madam Young- Shim Dho works as Chairperson of the UN World Tourism Organization Sustainability Tourism for Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) Foundation. She has been the brain behind the Thank You Small Library projects for the ST-EP Foundation. She has supervised the construction of over 80 0f such libraries in mostly third world countries since 2007. Madam Dho has served in various important positions including that of the Korean National Assembly in addition to the being Ambassadors of Cultural Cooperation, Tourism and Sports in her home country.

From the background of the six candidates, it appears they all have the wherewithal to head the World Tourism body. However as it happens in every election, some of the candidates stand tall given their exposure, influence and connection in the body politic of the UNWTO.

One of such personalities is the Brazilian Marcio Favilla. Mr Favilla is currently part of the UNWTO establishment from where has worked since 2010. He is in the inner circles of the outgoing Secretary General, Mr Taleb Rifai. From well informed source he was instrumental in the creation of the Special Operational Programmes and Institutional Relations Office as well as the competitiveness, External Relations and Partnership Department at the UNWTO headquarters. Mr. Rifai handpicked Mr. Favilla as head given the latter’s special qualities.

The Georgian candidate, Mr. Pololikashvili is also very strong in the contest. He has a wealth of experience in world tourism activities having served as Georgia’s Permanent Representative to the UNWTO and Ambassador to Spain. Through their appointment Mr. Pololikashvili’s influence and knowledge in the world tourism diplomacy soared and he also commands considerable influence compared to his compatriots.
Madam young-shin Dhon is a strong personality in world tourism. As the only feminine candidate, her selfless devotion to the promotion of the Sustainable Tourism in the Elimination of Poverty (ST-EP) project and her constant interface with the developing world in the provision of Thank You Libraries has heightened her pedigree.

Coming to Africa, a very intriguing and disturbing character assassination and lobbying of the African Union is rearing its ugly head and once again it puts Africa in a bad light. It is in bad taste. Suddenly a Zimbabwean source is claiming that Dr. Walter Mzembi, the Zimbabwean Tourism Minister is the preferred candidate from Africa. The source claims that the African Union unanimously endorsed the candidature of Dr. Walter Mzembi against the Seychelles candidate, Alain St Ange.

Now let’s look at this, Alain St Ange with the tacit support of the government of Seychelles submitted his application and candidature on the 18th of January 2017, whilst Dr. Mzembi together with his application and letter of support from Zimbabwean authorities brought his application on the 4th March 2017. The irony is that Seychelles has not withdrawn its support for their candidate. If the AU as claimed by Zimbabwe solely endorsed Dr Mzembi, why should it take a Zimbabwean source to do the bidding for the continental body instead of the latter?

This dirty politics which is synonymous with Africa should cease. It is disgracing the continent of Africa. The AU must clear the air on this matter. The irony is that Latin America is fielding two candidates from Brazil and the Colombia and nobody is hearing such clear case of undermining. There were two candidates from Eastern Europe- Armenia, Georgia and nothing of such unwarranted attacks from one candidate is happening. The Armenian Candidate has however pulled out of the competition.

So what is wrong with Africa? Dr. Mzembi appears desperate. He is alleged to have criticized the incumbent Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rafai of favouring some candidates. Instead of pointing accusing fingers at his perceived detractors Mr. Mzembi should concentrate efforts at improving the international image of his own country-Zimbabwe and the bad press that continues to emerge from that country. The image of the contestant’s country goes a long way to improve his or her chances at such global contest.
It should dawn on the likes of Dr. Mzembi that in the forthcoming election, the influence of the candidate’s mother countries in the world affairs and the influence of super power interplay will prove a decisive factor in determining the overall winner. So Mzembi and his Zimbabwean biased apparatus should not only look at Alain St. Ange and Seychelles but beyond.

In looking at who takes the mantle of Secretary General of UNWTO, the world should also applaud in admiration the performance of the outgoing boss of the world tourism body, Dr. Taleb Rafai the Jordanian diplomat. He has played a no mean role in shaping world tourism. Dr. Rifai has made UNWTO attractive and efficient. His knowledge of world tourism products and their sustainability speaks volumes of the legacy he is bequeathing the united nations specialized agency he headed for a considerable number of years. He has left a big shoe whose filling will provide a daunting task for his of the successor.

In the meantime, industry watchers and stakeholders will keep a close eye on the May 12 Elections as the Executive Council members with voting right goes to the polls to pick who becomes the next Secretary General of UNWTO. And whatever the outcome is, we hope that it unites the candidates in a stronger resolve in propelling world tourism to greater heights. We wish all a healthy competition and may the best candidate win.

AUTHOR
BEN OHENE-AYEH
TOURISM PUNDIT
FORMER PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER, GHANA TOURISM AUTHORITY

The UNWTO elections are now in sight with just five days to go

ST. ANGE’S CAMPAIGN REMAINS THE MOST VISIBLE ACROSS THE SOCIAL MEDIA SPECTRUM

(Posted 07th May 2017)

QUOTE: ‘’If anything else, Alain Saint Ange’s media outreach should give him the edge as the United Nations’ new secretary-general for world tourism. The former Seychelles tourism minister has run a highly successful campaign in the global and local print and electronic media.’’ – Marlan Padayachee, senior journalist, travel writer, photographer, political and social commentator, private-public sector consultant and media strategist and adviser in South Africa. (5 May 2017)

By MARLAN PADAYACHEE

BY the week-ending of 12-14 May, the United Nations will have a new secretary-general heading its UN World Tourism Organisation from global tourism’s headquarters in Madrid, Spain.

Among the front-runners is Alain Saint Ange, who resigned as Seychelles’ long-standing senior minister of tourism to compete for the premier post that oversees the state of tourism across the world.

So far, St Ange, based on my own experience of election campaigns in the media, has run a highly successful campaign in his quest to clinch the plum post and thereby use his wealth of experience and knowledge economy to change the world of tourism towards a greater people-to-people focus and connecting the dots of an unequal tourism market, particularly in the arena of creating sustainable jobs for poorer communities, including his native Seychelles, the Vanilla Islands of the Indian Ocean Rim and Africa and the Caribbean.

His media milestones to date from his campaign kick-off in January have been anything but remarkable, innovative, friendly and smart. In the media narrative, this candidate has grabbed the headlines and dominated the soundbites and the stand firsts and blurbs on radio and television.

And in the run-up to the election of the new secretary-general of the United Nations World Travel Organisation, one of the leading candidates on the slate, Saint Ange, a senior ruling party politician and former government minister in his mid-ocean island nation, has received excellent and extraordinary endorsements from fellow compatriots, political personalities, tourism and hospitality pace-setters and stakeholders and influential well-wishers.

Communities have also thrown their weight behind the bid to present a refreshing new face to global tourism.

St Ange was the long-standing and well-heeled Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine in Seychelles before making a dash for the top-notch UN job. Since launching his official bid in January this year, St Ange has received overwhelming support in his quest to vie for the head of secretariat of the global tourism authority.

St Ange has presented the Seychelles Agenda for Tourism for All to many nations and industry players. Four months into the race and St Ange is not letting up. He is also not slowing down in his non-stop campaigning and lobbying in many capitals of the world soon after he presented his Official Nomination Documents to Taleb Rifai, current UNWTO secretary-general. He became the second official candidate on the ballot for the polling on Friday, 12 May in the Spanish cultural hotspot of Madrid.

Six candidates are in the running for the highest portfolio. There is growing optimism that the new secretary-general will lead the lucrative, multi-dimensional global industry into an exciting new phase. The winning candidate will replace the outgoing secretary-general Taleb Rifai.

Candidates continue to work tirelessly to pull votes from the four corners of the world to the prized high seat in international tourism. St Ange is also fighting competition in Africa, with Zimbabwe fielding a candidate backed by the African Union. South America has two candidates, Brazil and Colombia, and Georgia and South Korea are also in the race.

The candidates and countries are:

Vahan Martirosyan (Armenia, Minister of Transport)
Márcio Favilla (Brazil, WTO Executive Director)
Jaime Alberto Cabal Sanclemente (Colombia, Ambassador to Austria and the UN organisations based in Vienna)
Zurab Pololikashvili (Georgia, Ambassador to Spain and Permanent Representative to the WTO)
Young-shim Dho (South Korea, Ambassador to Spain and President of the Foundation for the Elimination of Poverty of the WTO)
Walter Mzembi (Zimbabwe, Minister of Tourism)

St Ange has stayed the course and has been straddling many tourist destinations to muster support and market his progressive policies, including support for the LGBT communities who often confront violent racism, discrimination, stigmatising, stereotyping and ostracising in the tourism space and in nightclubs and social hubs.

Amidst the fanfare, friendships and fraternity, St.Ange, the official Seychelles Candidate, continues to travel to woo member countries to cast their ballots for him. His latest foreign foray has been in Swiss town of Lucerne, where he engaged 500 delegates from 70 countries and marketed his ‘’walk the talk’’ campaigning on sharing his new business models, inspiring personal stories and building valuable friendships. He was integral to the ‘’Think Tank Session on Tourism’’ at the World Tourism Forum, the last event before the UNWTO elections. He also enjoyed the hospitality and friendship of the past president and CEO of the WTF, Martin Barth.

From Lucerne, St Ange is returning to Seychelles before preparing for the final countdown to his campaign and delivering on his electoral vision in Madrid next week. Lucerne emerged as a traditional gathering of key tourism personalities, intra-networking within a strong sense of community and cultivating interpersonal relationships among CEOs, ministers, investors, academic leaders and stakeholders to create new roadmaps for generational global tourism.

The electorate is crucial in the coming week: thirty-four countries are members of the UNWTO Executive Council: Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Flanders, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Tunisia, and Zambia.

St Ange’s election hustings carries a clear-cut message with a universally progressive policy of ‘’Tourism for All’’. He has spent hundreds of hours and resources campaigning on a platform that has blackballed discrimination in all its manifestations.

There is no place for any form of discrimination in the world of tourism. He has challenged the other candidates to stand up and voice their commitment to the people-centred environment of global tourism devoid of the scourge of discriminatory practices. There will be no room at the inn for discrimination based on skin colour, race, religion, culture, creed, politics, gender, sexual preference, disability, political persuasion or wealth status. His simplified his strategy with a key campaign phrase reads: friends of all, enemies of none, equal tourism for all.

The United Nations is the torchbearer of human rights and social justice and the ambassadors of its agencies will stridently promote respect, tolerance and diversity, according to St Ange. The new culture in tourism should beneficiate stakeholders, stimulate partnerships, create jobs, promote eco-tourism sustainability, resurrect cottage industries and bolster local economic developments.

His campaign has attracted widespread publicity in the print and electronic media, as well as social media platforms. From interviews on BBC World to newspapers, magazines and radio stations, St Ange has articulated, voiced and aired a singular and powerful policy of connecting the dots on the world map by bringing people, cultures and destinations together to enjoy the fruits of a global village characterised by a cacophony of sounds and sights. Adopting a positive and unique approach, St Ange’s campaign has emphasised the need to reach out to the private industry and media.

By far, he is the only candidate who has garnered a record number of endorsements from private companies and stakeholders in his native Indian Ocean island nation and abroad. His visibility and profiling grew progressively in the print publications, radio and television.

The campaign’s coup de grace is an interview with CNN presenter Richard Quest on Quest Means Business, followed by engaging conversations with Adam Boulton on Sky TV and BBC Radio Africa. St Ange also made a raft of articles on the pages of full-colour magazines, namely Britain’s FIRST, and prestige publications in Africa and the Middle East.

His interview with the Travel Daily has highlighted the impasse that tourism and insecurity are not good bedfellows and wants to make this anomaly one of the pillows in his vision for tourism, alongside pressing the UN and the UNWTO to proliferate sustainable tourism across the spectrum.

St Ange has also been well received in inter-governmental forums: Thailand is among the many tourism nations that gave St Ange an audience. St Ange shared his ‘’Tourism for All’’ mission and vision with Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul on the side-lines of the World Tourism Travel Council summit in Bangkok.

He also presented his Statement of Intent and discuss to Pongpanu Svetarundra, ministerial permanent secretary. At the meeting, St Ange was supported by his compatriots, Nico Barito, presidential special envoy to the ASEAN bloc of countries and Pascal Viroleau, CEO of the Indian Ocean Vanilla Islands, a cluster of Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros, Reunion and Mayotte islands.

As nations enjoying a cordial relationship, Thailand and Seychelles are committed to a pact of sustainable tourism, safety and security. The tourism agenda was also presented to the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Commented HYPERLINK "http://www.eturbonews.com/author/etn-managing-editor" t "_blank" eTN: ‘’Candidate Alain St Ange has a simple formula of ‘friends of all, enemies of none equals tourism for all’ and tourism is the number one industry in Seychelles, and the person competing for the UN post managed to almost single-handed put Seychelles on the map of global tourism and was widely praised as one of the most successful and outspoken ministers of tourism. The Seychelles is the only country on the globe where anyone can arrive with no visa.”

‘’He is the only candidate that had actively reached out to LGBT travellers and his country is now welcoming this group with open arms.’’

St Ange views tourism as good custodians of what destinations have been blessed with. He believes sustainable tourism can promote long-term tourism and help economically struggling countries to alleviate poverty and inculcate a climate of peace. Louis D’Amore, founder and president of the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism, is a great fan of this vision.

St Ange’s vision extends to creating a single stage for world tourism and once in office, he plans to decentralise the UNWTO headquarters from Madrid: ‘’I want to enter into discussions with countries that are not members of the UNWTO. I will invite them to the table. We have one tourism industry and we need to see the world working together to grow that tourism cake for everyone to benefit in return.”

For St Ange, it is worrying that major tourism giants like the USA, Britain, Australia and Singapore are not member nations. Madrid apart, the opening of satellite offices in regions and key countries is also on the cards.

His manifesto will also explore other key points, such as opening cross-sectorial meetings with private sector organizations like the WTTC, PATA and others, and the UNWTO, UNESCO, ICAO, UNEP on the second side, and thirdly the importance of the media playing in local and global tourism.

A new protocol could see ministers of tourism, civil aviation and internal and home affairs sitting together and brain-storming security and air access issues: “Secondly, it is again an extension of sustainable tourism where training is looked at with member states to ensure that regions have good hotel and tourism academies where languages are also taught. Training brings job satisfaction and creates additional value for people in tourism destinations. ”

“Thirdly to look at communication and marketing with member states. This will look at standards and value-for-money, but also the question of “What is Tourism?” and help countries move away from the connotation that tourism is a hotel or excursion. We need to replace this concept with the country being the tourism and to look at the infrastructure, cleanliness, culture and people.”

“I want to be remembered as having made a difference and having become the spokesman for tourism wherever a success story is developing or a disaster has occurred.”

Endorsements have come from some of the industry’s eminent players: Association of Women Travel Executives (AWTE); Germany’s Thomas Cook Group Airlines Condor Flugdienst GmbH, European Leisure Airlines Group; Wolfgang H Thome of the Aviation, Tourism and Conservation News (Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands); Maxime Behar, President of the ICCO (a 48-member countries public relations community); Peter Sinon, former Seychelles Ambassador, Minister and former executive director of the African Development Bank (eastern constituency); Association of Inbound Operators (Mauritius);

St Ange made his case to 12 ministers and officials at the recent African Ministers Meeting for CAF 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Among the high profile people were Taleb Rifai, outgoing UNWTO secretary-general, Seychellois, Elsia Grandcourt as the UNWTO’s Director for Africa and Anne Lafortune of Seychelles Tourism.

A single, common passport for Southern African Development Community countries, plus a no-visa policy will contribute to boosting intra-Africa travel and business cooperation.

On another front, Sinach, born Osinachi Kalu, Nigeria’s award-winning gospel singer and songwriter, also threw her support behind St Ange during a performance in Victoria recently.

From the Diplomat magazine to the talking to Travel Daily, St Ange been push the point of sustainable tourism as a means of creating jobs and promoting long-term prosperity, alleviating poverty and encouraging cross-border tourism: ‘’People are simply part and parcel of their tourism industry across villages, towns and cities.’’

St Ange also identified safety and security, equality, training, and cross-sectorial interaction as being key to the future of the industry, and pledged to bring non-member states into the UNWTO, especially the USA.

Alain St Ange has won the hearts and minds of the press – newspapers, magazines, radio and TV have given him good coverage and his campaign approach of engaging the private sector actively has been singled out as one of the successes of his campaign checklist.

Cometh the hour, Cometh the Man: Now the hour has come and St Ange can put his best foot forward to tell the world why he should be the next secretary-general of an organisation that can reshape tourism and connect the dots of tourism hotspots and hubs from remote cultural villages to the bright lights of vibrant cosmopolitan – and it’s all about the sights and sounds of socio-cultural landmarks.

MARLAN PADAYACHEE is a senior journalist, photojournalist and media strategist in South Africa, and recipient of the British Council Fellow and the United States Information Services Award in recognition of his frontline journalism in the campaigns against apartheid and progressive reporting style in post-apartheid democracy; recipient of the Gopio International Award, New York 2015, and awarded life membership for his contribution to social cohesion and socio-political commentary of Indians and indigenous people, and recently appointed media coordinator for Africa of the New York-based Indian Diaspora Council, and continues to serve on the board of the RK Khan Hospital in Durban. Padayachee is a well-heeled traveller and tourism and travel writer who has regularly engaged Tourism Minister Alain St Ange, Seychelles Tourism and Air Seychelles people at the annual Indaba Tourism Expo in Durban and they have been in daily communication in the past six months.
Marlan Padayachee is a widely read and quoted writer, editor and publisher.

Rwanda doubles fees for gorilla tracking

RWANDA RAISES GORILLA TRACKING FEES TO 1.500 US DOLLARS

(Posted 07th May 2017)

The Rwanda Development Board yesterday announced an increase in the price of Gorilla Permits from US$ 750 to US $1,500 for all visitors effective immediately. A new exclusive package for tourists who wish to book an entire family of gorillas was also introduced at US$ 15,000, and will receive exclusive personalized tour guide services.

The price increase will not affect tourists who had already purchased their tickets at the time of this announcement.

Tourists who visit other national parks (Nyungwe and Akagera) for a minimum of three days, in addition to gorilla trekking will receive a discount of 30%. Similarly, conference tourists, who stay pre or post conference dates to see gorillas will be eligible for a 15% discount.

In line with Rwanda’s high-end tourism strategy, the price increase aims to strengthen conservation efforts and contribute more to the development of communities living around the Volcanoes National Park.

Along with the new tariff, the tourism revenue sharing rate for communities adjacent to the park, will also increase from 5% to 10%, which will quadruple the absolute revenues received by communities. Over the last 12 years, more than 400 community projects have been completed including hospitals, schools, business development centers and water supply systems to facilitate access to clean water. These projects directly benefit the people living around the parks.

Ms. Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Executive Officer at Rwanda Development Board, pictured above, reportedly said:

Gorilla trekking is a highly unique experience. We have raised the price of permits in order to ensure sustainability of conservation initiatives and enhance visitors’ experience. We also want to make sure that the communities living near the park area receive a bigger share of tourism revenues to fund development projects and empower them economically‘.

New, high-end lodges are opening in Musanze and plans are underway to improve visitors’ experience at Kinigi, including renovation of the information center to equip it with modern offices and tourism services such as conservation education, children’s learning space as well as digital facilities.

Mountain gorillas are an endangered species with only around 880 remaining in the world. Of those in in the Virunga Massif, Rwanda accounts for 62% of the gorilla population. Stringent conservation measures have significantly contributed to a rise in gorilla numbers. There are currently 20 families habituated for tourism and research in Rwanda, up from just 9 families in 2010.

Reactions from the tourism fraternity in Rwanda were swift and harsh, denouncing the doubling of the tariffs without notice as unacceptable and calling for a suspension of the measure.
Many tour operators around the world have published package prices based in the tracking permit costing 750 US Dollars – already the highest among the three gorilla countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Congo – asking RDB to respect contractual commitments and giving a decent notice of the tariff increase of up to one year and not springing the rise from one moment to another.
Said one source on condition of anonymity: ‘Apart from the wisdom to double the permit fee is the no notice period a major cause for concern. This will put Rwanda in a bad light abroad that we cannot respect proper notice periods like all other regional wildlife management bodies do. Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania all give as much as a year notice of planned fee revisions. What is the urgency now to do this without observing regional practice?‘ while another simply stated: ‘If this is really true it will kill our business. Rare animals or not, there is a limit to what the market can accept and sell and I see sales nosediving which will affect all of us who invested in cars and marketing expenses. Crazy!!!‘.

In a related development was it learned that the sharing component of income generated by national park entries for neighbouring communities will be raised too from the present 5 percent to 10 percent of gate receipts.

Uganda in contrast not only charges just US Dollars 600 for foreign tourists but also offers tariff reductions to US Dollars 450 for the months of April, May and November, something Rwanda has never done even though they too experience a low season and lower demand periods.
It is now up to the market to respond but it is expected that permits for Uganda will be snapped up on the double to avoid the huge cost increases for tourists are now looking at should they opt for Rwanda as their gorilla destination of choice.

Kenya government suggests cheap passenger fares for SGR trips

CHEAP TRAIN FARES TO LURE PASSENGERS FROM BUSSES AND AIRLINES

(Posted 07th May 2017)

Ahead of the formal launch of the new Standard Gauge Railway, in short known as SGR, between the Kenyan capital Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa on the 01st of June – coinciding with Madaraka Day when Kenya attained internal self governance – has the Cabinet Secretary for Transport suggested that fares on the train will be half of what busses currently charge on the route.
While the train terminals are outside the respective city centres – unlike bus companies which take passengers to the city centres – will the radical cut in cost no doubt attract thousands of passengers presently using buses to travel between Nairobi and Mombasa. Added cost will however come the way of the travelers as they need to commute by taxi or other means from the terminals in Nairobi and Mombasa to their final destination. It is understood though that like at the airports in both cities shuttle busses of hotels and resorts may also be picking up and dropping off passengers from the railway stations in order to tap into that market segment of travelers who will switch from bus and air to rail.
On offer will be three different classes, Economy, Business and First Class similar to what airlines offer, with those too now becoming a target of the new rail operation. Traveling from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has become a bothersome experience for many given the intrusive security checks before one can board an aircraft – which while only taking about an hour to cover the distance between the two cities does require many additional hours to get to the airport and make one’s way through the various security checks, three to be precise when travelling out of JKIA.
There will be a security checkpoint at the new rail stations too but just one and passengers will not be subjected to having to dump their drinking water unlike at airports.
Given current bus fares of between 1.000 and 1.500 Kenya Shillings for the Nairobi to Mombasa route could rail passengers, at least for the first six months of operations, pay as little as 800 Kenya Shillings, constituting a major saving even though the added railway station to final destination cost has to be added to it. This fare would be for economy class passengers and no indications have been given about the cost of travel in business or first class carriages.
From usually well informed sources in Kenya is it understood that initially two trains will run in each direction, one a fast train with only one stop at the halfway point in Mtito Andei – springboard to Tsavo West National Park – while the regular train will stop at as many as seven stations enroute.

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