Archive for May 9th, 2017

African Union threats against Seychelles result in withdrawal of UNWTO candidate

THREATS OF SANCTIONS AND WORSE FROM THE AFRICAN UNION SEE SEYCHELLES GIVE UP THEIR CANDIDATE FOR UNWTO ELECTIONS

(Posted 09th May 2017)

Emotions are running high in the world of tourism when the cleanest of all candidates and the one with the best chances to bring the UNWTO seat to Africa, former Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Mr. Alain St. Ange, was reportedly recalled by his government.

It is understood from a high ranking source within the Seychelles government – an extraordinary cabinet meeting was held this late afternoon at State House in Victoria – that the African Union had given the Seychelles an ultimatum to either withdraw their candidate or else face unspecified sanctions, suspension of bilateral and multilateral agreements with other African countries and non support in international fora for any position Seychelles would want to field a candidate for. As a result, and to protect the country’s interests in the international arena, did the cabinet, reportedly very reluctantly, accept the ultimatum given to the sovereign country known as the Republic of Seychelles by the African Union and accepted to withdraw their candidate.
This development speaks volumes on the kind of dirty tactics employed by the African Union and reminds this correspondent of the saga surrounding the candidacy of Georgia for UNWTO Secretary General, which government has reportedly engaged in suspect deals around the world not related to tourism at all to gain votes for their otherwise nondescript candidate.
The dropping out of Alain St. Ange – every candidate must have the endorsement of his or her government, now means that Africa will be seen in such a bad light, once the news hits the air waves, that any chance to win the seat will in all likelihood evaporate, denying Africa this coveted position for reasons entirely for the fault of the African Union.
Of the ten votes Africa has on the Executive Council of the UNWTO were reportedly two votes pledged already to the South Korean candidate and besides the Seychelles vote – now likely to go to someone else in the secret ballot in Madrid – were as many as four additional votes pledged to St. Ange besides a probably dozen or slightly more in round one from other countries around the world. This would have seen St. Ange very likely to reach the second round of voting at which stage he was certain to carry the day.

UNWTO will be poorer off for the withdrawal of St. Ange’s endorsement by his government, the world of tourism will be poorer off for it and one can expect that the next Secretary General will toss the non discrimination agenda of St. Ange branded as ‘Tourism for All‘ out of the window.

The Seychelles government statement is shown below for additional information:

Start quote

President Danny Faure chaired an Extra-Ordinary Cabinet meeting this evening at which the Cabinet considered a formal request from the African Union Commission for Seychelles to withdraw the candidature of Mr Alain St Ange for the election to the post of Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

Having considered the stance taken by Seychelles at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting in March 2016, and at the African Union (AU) meeting of July 2016, where member states, including Seychelles, had unanimously voted to support the Zimbabwean candidate, Cabinet members formally reviewed its decision to support the candidature of Mr St Ange. This is in line with established practices governing the endorsement process for candidatures within the international system under the AU and SADC frameworks.

Mr St Ange’s capacity to lead the UNWTO is unquestionable, as is his vast experience in the field of tourism. However, in light of our standing responsibilities and commitments within the context of the African Union, the Seychelles Government has decided to withdraw the candidature of Mr St Ange for the position of Secretary General.

Seychelles will stand in solidarity with the African Union and support the African Union’s officially endorsed candidate from Zimbabwe in the upcoming election.

End quote

Watch this space for further developments

FUNDING SOUGHT FOR KENYA’S FIRST WILDLIFE OVERPASS AS 2017 RHINO CHARGE NEARS

Rhino Ark Charitable Trust Seeks Your Help

I
RHINO ARK

CHARITABLE TRUST

R H I N O C H A R G E

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Funding sought for Kenya’s first wildlife overpass as 2017 Rhino Charge nears

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Funding is being sought for the construction of Kenya’s first wildlife overpass in Naivasha as preparations enter the homestretch for the 29th edition of the annual Rhino Charge off-road motorsport to be held on June 3.

The proposed wildlife overpass above Moi North Lake Road will enable wildlife, including giraffes, to move freely from Lake Naivasha’s shore to the nearby forest.

This was announced to Rhino Charge competitors and sponsors during a pre-event briefing in Nairobi at the weekend. David Lowe, Clerk of the Course, revealed that the venue was still kept secret and was likely to be 250km from Isiolo where the route notes leading to the venue will start from.

Lowe highlighted key issues pertaining to security and the care for the environment on the venue, as well as on the registration process for all competitors, sponsors, officials and visitors.

To minimize the impacts on the environment, Lowe said, several measures had been taken by the Rhino Charge Committee. Limits have been set on the weight (3000 kg) and tyre sizes (40 inches of diameter) of the competing vehicles. These will be checked against the set limits during Scrutineering (vehicle inspection) that will take place the day before the Charge. In the spirit of the recent Gazette Notice by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources on the banning of plastic bags, the usage of single-use plastic containers (such as bottle, gobelets) at the Charge venue have been strongly discouraged. David Lowe also announced that no officials will use plastic bottles during the event. As during the past three events, all refuse will be collected, sorted on site and brought back to Nairobi for recycling, except for bio-degradable waste.

Simon Gitau, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Assistant Director in charge of Mountain Conservation Area, confirmed that no plastic bottle will be used by the KWS team participating in the Rhino Charge. He also mentioned that KWS took the decision last year to ban the use of plastic bottles in Mt. Kenya and that the ban will be effective from July 1, 2017, giving thereby nearly one year to the tour operators and porters to prepare to comply with the ban.

Furthermore, Rhino Ark committed to make the Rhino Charge climate neutral from this year onwards by offsetting all the CO2 emissions related to the running of the event, as well as related to all travel by competitors, officials, sponsors, camp providers or spectators to come to the event.

Since its inception, the Rhino Charge has been the main fund-raising event for the Rhino Ark Charitable Trust. Over 92% of the funds raised by the competitors goes directly in support of the conservation work of the trust. Christian Lambrechts, the Executive Director of Rhino Ark highlighted some of the key achievements by his charity during the past year thanks to the funds raised by the chargers.

About 151 km of the Mount Kenya Electric Fence has been completed. Construction of the fence in the Imenti Forest in Meru is nearly completed. “The Imenti Forest is an interesting area as it demonstrates so well our effective are our conservation intervention, in particular fencing” said Lambrechts. Indeed before the fence was built, it was a major human-wildlife conflict area. Between January 2014 and February 2016, 10 community members have been killed by elephants and in retaliation, we lost 10 elephants. Since Rhino Ark started building the fence last year in March, no community member lost their life and only one elephant has been killed.

Following the completion of the 43km perimeter electric fence around Mount Eburu, the focus of the charity has been on securing the wildlife corridor between Eburu Forest and Lake Naivasha. To date, agreements with the four companies owning the land inside the corridors have been signed. In addition, through various private initiatives, the corridor between Eburu Forest and Moi North Lake Road has been fenced on both sides. With the support of KWS, Kenya Forest Service (KFS), the land owners, Rhino Ark and the road contractor, KeeRA endorsed the proposal of building a wildlife overpass above Moi North Lake Road. The road under construction has been lowered to provide the required height.

During the recent prolonged drought, many fires have affected Mt. Kenya, Aberdares and the Mau Forest Complex. To minimize the impact of these fires, Rhino Ark provided strategic support to KWS, KFS, Mount Kenya Trust and the forest-adjacent communities who provide the bulk of the manpower to fight the fires. Through such collaborative efforts, fires did not affect the central moorlands of the Aberdares, and did not extent to its pristine upper forest zone.

For further information, kindly contact:
The Rhino Ark Kenya Charitable Trust
P.O. Box 181 – 00517 | Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 (0)733 632460 / (0)724 604233
Wireless: +254 (0)20 2136010/11
Email: info
Web: www.rhinocharge.co.ke | www.rhinoark.org
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Swaziland Tourism Authority will showcase at the 2017 Indaba

Swaziland Tourism heading to INDABA in Durban

Swaziland Tourism Authority will showcase at the 2017 Indaba

As one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and one of the top three ‘must visit’ events of its kind on the global calendar, it is no wonder that the Swaziland Tourism Authority will be represented once more at Indaba 2017.

Taking place from 16 – 18 May at the Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban, Indaba showcases the widest variety of Africa’s best tourism products and attracts international buyers and media from across the world.

Swaziland Tourism Authority’s (STA) Marketing Manager Bonging Dlamini says, ‘Tourism Indaba is the perfect platform for STA as it accommodates all the sectors and structures under Tourism‘. He continues by saying in the past Swazi exhibitors reported a positive outlook following the success of their pre-planned meetings with buyers. Dlamini described the high activity at the Swaziland stand as ‘Proof that there is growing interest in Swaziland as an emerging and ultimate tourist destination‘. He said STA would continue to attend similar shows for further promotional purposes.

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Kenya Airways and Kenya Tourism seal new deal

KENYA AIRWAYS’ BOEING B787 DREAMLINER NOW CARRIES MAGICAL KENYA INTO THE WORLD

(Posted 09th May 2017)

Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and outgoing Kenya Airways CEO Mbuvi Ngunze earlier in the week inaugurated the latest livery of a KQ Boeing B787 Dreamliner, now bearing the Magical Kenya logo and a picture of the big five tourists can see in the national parks. With him for the inauguration ceremony were Mrs. Fatuma Hirsi Mohamed, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Tourism; Mr. Jimi Kariuki, Chairman, Kenya Tourist Board; Mr. Mbuvi Ngunze, CEO, Kenya Airways; Dr. Betty Radier, CEO, Kenya Tourism Board and other invited guests. Said the Cabinet Secretary on the occasion: ‘I am pleased to launch the first Magical Kenya-branded Dreamliner. This comes on the back of Kenya being awarded Category 1 status by the U.S which further fortifies our efforts.
After an eight year wait, Kenya was finally granted the go-ahead on the 23rd February 2017 to operate direct flights to the United States of America (US). The permit, which came after Kenya passed a series of security and safety audit tests conducted by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – where the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) scored Category One in security and safety – signals a new wave of confidence in Kenya; especially considering that we are headed to the electoral polls. The benefits of direct flights to the US are numerous, far-reaching and we look forward to the Magical Kenya Dreamliner’s maiden trip to each of our source markets

In a related development, while at the airport, did the Cabinet Secretary also officially launch the new tourist information centre at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport aimed at serving visiting tourists on arrival and give them guidance and advice as and when required.
Said Hon. Balala just before he flew out of Nairobi on a Kenya Airways service to Europe: ‘While the past decade has seen a revolution in access to information through the Internet, through multiple TV travel channels, travel sections in newspapers, or via phones and other mobile devices, Tourist Information Centres are still integral to the access of necessary information by inbound tourists. Tourist Information Centres serve as useful platforms for local business promotion, which encourage longer stays and greater spend by tourists coming to Kenya‘.

The Cabinet Secretary is heading to Madrid for the 105th Executive Committee Meeting of UNWTO which takes place from tomorrow until Friday the 12th of May and during which elections will be held for the next Secretary General of UNWTO.

Ripple effect continues after Rwanda’s decision to double gorilla tracking fees

UGANDA’S AUTO ISSUES STARK WARNING TO UGANDA WILDLIFE AUTHORITY NOT TO FOLLOW SUIT

(Posted 09th May 2017)

We condemn in the sharpest terms the irresponsible behaviour of RDB to raise tariffs without notice. This is totally unacceptable in this day and age. We also find RDB lacking any team spirit because they completely failed their duty to consult with the private sector. This is a text book example of institutional arrogance and ignorance and the way the decision was published shows also a high degree of incompetence‘ words verbatim repeated by a regular source from Kampala who blew his cool over the refusal by RDB to even discuss delaying the measure and giving several months notice to safari operators.
The same individual whose company has regularly chosen the Rwandan Parc de Volcanoes over Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park when selling gorilla safaris, also said that while prebooked and prepaid business will be concluded with Rwanda there will be no new bookings from his company as he was not prepared to ‘… support the greed of these people who hide behind conservation babble‘.

The Association of Uganda Tour Operators earlier today also published a statement which when compared to the clarification received from RDB last night at 21.14 hrs reads like a notice to end the hitherto close friendship and partnership with Rwanda:

Sources from Kigali who tried to rubbish this correspondent’s contention that the Ugandan tourism industry was celebrating their sudden windfall also had to eat their words as a major shift in enquiries is already noticeable in the space of just three days with Ugandan companies now getting snowed under booking requests of overseas companies also bitterly disappointed and upset by the Rwandan action.

As mentioned did RDB last night send out a statement, produced below in full for readers to as usual to make up their own mind but which is in stark contrast with the statement by RTTA, the Rwanda Tour and Travel Association as much as it differs from the AUTO letter:

My name is Christine Amira and I am glad to e-meet quite a number you. I am writing to you on behalf of RDB communications, Maurice from the Country Branding team also copied in this email.

You are all aware of the revised gorilla trekking permits and the concerns/ questions of the public. We would like to address the issues at hand and at this time seek your support in engaging the public to understand that the revised tariffs are all in favour of the Rwandan population & the country at large.

A few key reasons as to why the tariffs were revised are in relation to conservation, as Rwanda is a country embedded in sustainable development.

Below are the key messages/ reasons for the increment and we will appreciate your support in spreading them across. However, don’t hesitate to contact us incase you need any clarification, we would like to engage in the discussion for the best of everyone.

a. Revenue sharing

#RwandaTourism revenue sharing policy has alleviated communities around #Rwanda’s parks from poverty & improved their general livelihood

Since 2010, over 600 community projects of which some are in the process of completion have been successfully launched around #Rwanda’s park

#Rwanda is a country embedded on #conservation & policy implementations by @RwandaGov & @RDBRwanda are key in maintaining biodiversity

To protect #biodiversity in #Rwanda we must first address the issues that caused its deprivation in the past, revenue sharing is imperative

#RwandaTourism revenue sharing policy reduces human-animal conflict around parks & ensures #sustainableconservation

The revised tariffs will quadruple the tourism revenue sharing for community projects around #Rwanda’s NP & ensure long term sustainability

The tourism revenue sharing policy benefits all the communities living around the main national parks in #Rwanda & not only #Volcanoes NP

b. Boost tourism potential

#RwandaTourism industry is on the move to expand & diversify tourism products & services for long-term economic returns & sustainability

#Rwanda is focused on positioning itself as a hub for luxury tourism in the region, offering high-end products to locals & intl visitors

#Kinigi information centre will boost the tourist’s gorilla trekking experience & activities around #Volcanoes NP #RwandaTourism

#MountainGorillas are a symbol of #RwandaTourism & through these magnificent species the country has realized increased tourism receipts

Our focus on high end tourism is more aligned to improved quality #RwandaTourism

#TemberuRwanda campaign is meant to encourage domestic tourism & other strategies and promotions will be used to encourage gorilla trekking among locals

#Gorillas are an endangered species on high demand, as #Rwanda gets a stronger global #tourism brand, more tourists desire to visit

#RwandaTourism is on a good track in positioning the country as a hub for luxury tourism, One and Only soon opens in @NyungwePark

The revised #gorilla trekking permits means more direct share for communities living in surroundings of #Rwanda’s parks #RwandaTourism

c. Conservation

#ReturnOfLions & #ReturnOfRhinos go far in giving a picture of #Rwanda’s #conservation vision, achievable through public support

#RwandaTourism is popular for #conservation success of the #mountaingorillas, accounts 62% of species in Virunga Massif

#Conservation success can only be realized if our #tourism industry consistently positions itself to expand and thrive #RwandaTourism

If #conservation wins and so does #RwandaTourism! Our goal is to protect biodiversity for future generations

The increased #gorilla trekking tariffs will reduce the pressure on gorillas and the eco-system in the long-term #RwandaTourism

#Conservation aspects were considered with the revised tariffs to ensure low volume leading to low impact on the gorilla eco-system

As #Rwandans we should all own the #gorilla tracking experience and support #conservation efforts.

d. Policy Implementation

Policy by Government institutions are consistently implemented in the interest of #Rwandans & the reviewed gorilla permit also applies.

The renewed #gorilla permit tariffs are not entirely rigid, discounts apply for domestic tourists & #MICE delegates

#RwandaTourism through the revised tariffs will be able to expand the tourist’s experience around #Volcanoes NP

Thank you very much & apologies for the really long email.

Warm Regards,

Christine Amira.

Those with dissenting views from Kigali, and there were dozens of comments received from Rwandan operators on condition of anonymity – in itself an indicator that not all is well – immediately shot down several parts of the statement in the proverbial flames when they pointed out to this correspondent that

1) If Rwandan citizens are now forced to pay the same amount as overseas tourists, RDB should not talk about benefits for local people as hardly anyone but the richest can afford a fee of 1.500 US Dollars – much more than the average income of Rwandans in 2015. TemberuRwanda is therefore trampled into the dust as far as gorilla tourism for locals is concerned.

2) The no notice implementation causes breach of contract situations with overseas tour agents who have published the cost of Rwanda safaris a year in advance and many of whom now will have to absorb the tariff increases

3) It has already upset our tourism partners in East Africa as it seems to suggest that only Rwanda has sustainable policies in place whereas others like Uganda or Kenya or Tanzania by implication does not, which spells bad for future cooperation.

4) Highlighting revenue sharing is on thin ice as Uganda’s revenue share is 20 percent of the gate receipts whereas Rwanda’s was 5 percent until last Sunday when it was raised to 10 percent, still only half of what Uganda Wildlife Authority shares with communities neighbouring their parks.

5) The repeated loud mention of quality and high end tourism also upset our regional partners as it makes them look like mass tourism destinations, which is not the case as far as the safari segment is concerned.

6) Ignoring the private sector in such a way is a deliberate affront and the word partnership should be struck from all future dealings with RDB who have established themselves as our masters, dictating terms at will without even considering the option of stretching the increase over some time and giving a six months notice for the first increase.

It must be pointed out, given the hostile reaction from a handful of individuals in Kigali to earlier articles written here on this subject, that this blog has always given a platform for those who are not heard elsewhere and the comments made were taken from dozens received, all with the same tenor.
This blog has given Rwanda high profile visibility and exposure for many years, at times to the point of being accused by Ugandan readers that the author has been ‘bought‘ by Rwanda, as laughable as that may sound.
That alone has earned me the right to publish this series of articles as I patently disagree with the decision taken and as much as that was the right of RDB is it as much my right to offer dissenting views.

Asilia aims to open two luxury properties in the Selous and Ruaha this year

LUXURY PURE AS ASILIA PUTS FINISHING TOUCHES TO TWO NEW PROPERTIES IN TANZANIA

(Posted 09th May 2017)

Asilia Africa

(A artist impression of the interior of one of the tents at Roho Ya Selous)

Come August will Asilia’s new Selous camp, named Roho Ya Selous, open its doors for guests before in September a sister camp will follow suit in the Ruaha National Park, named Jabali Ridge.
Roho Ya Selous is located in the heart of the tourist area of the Selous Game Reserve, the largest in the world and hardly touched by tourism developments as yet, in part due to being impenetrable during the rainy seasons.
With just 8 supersized tents, better called suites under canvas, will the location be a major factor for tourists choosing the location, which is near Lake Nzerakera.
The Ruaha development is also small and intimate, again offering 8 suites under canvas and provides a complementary destination in Southern Tanzania, now easily accessible through scheduled airline connections by Coastal Aviation and Auric Air, even connecting the two parks.
Asilia has been named by National Geographic as part of their unique lodges of the world while also sporting many other awards to their name.

Over and above the regular game drives will the Roho Ya Selous camp offer their guests the option of fishing trips and boating safaris on Lake Nzerakera and walking safaris into the park in the company of guides and armed rangers while the Jabali Ridge camp will feature a fully fledged Spa according to information received.

More details about Asilia can be found via www.asiliaafrica.com

US flights on the drawing board as applications are filed for landing rights

KENYA AIRWAYS CONFIRMS THAT APPLICATIONS ARE NOW FILED FOR FLIGHTS TO THE Us

(Posted 09th May 2017)

The application process for direct flights from Nairobi to the United States is now underway after Kenya Airways last week filed the paperwork with the FAA for landing rights.
While no decision is expected for several months, as the airline has to undergo now audits on a number of areas by the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, will very likely SkyTeam partner airline Delta commence flights from the US to Kenya before KQ will join the route.
Delta, twice stopped over the past years by the American government, the last time over security concerns, is very likely going to revive plans to fly via a West African waypoint to Nairobi and announcements are awaited in the near future.
The door for direct flights was opened by the Americans when Jomo Kenyatta International Airport passed the Category 1 audit last year and the Kenyan government then changed several regulations and laws to accommodate US requirements.
However, early enthusiasm, warned against here at the time, proved largely premature as the current application for landing rights by Kenya Airways can take as much a 8 months, going by a statement made by CEO Mbuvi Ngunze. This will put a flight launch firmly into 2018 and news updates, as and when available, will be posted here.

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