Archive for June, 2017

Wakanow boss on flying visit to Uganda


(Posted 30th June 2017)

Ralph Tamuno, Co-Founder and Deputy Group Managing Director of Wakanow, Africa’s leading online travel agency, is currently on a visit to East Africa and included the Pearl of Africa, aka Uganda, in his busy traveling schedule.
Uganda is yet to feature in Wakanow’s ‘Destination Africa‘ programme schedule but will make an appearance in the next round when the second part of the series will be screened on DStv’s Ebony Channel.
Staying for his brief visit at the Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa gave Ralph the opportunity to check out the 9 hole / 18 tee golf course which is expected to be nearing completion for the remaining 9 holes in just over a year’s time.
Describing the narrow fairways and extensive water features as ‘challenging‘ did Ralph quickly conclude that this would from now on be his resort of choice when in Uganda, no doubt a resounding endorsement of Serena’s hospitality quality and worth even more as said by none other than a seasoned traveler and head of Africa’s largest online agency.

In fact did Ralph enjoy the setting so much that he impromptu added another night at the resort before then flying on to his next destination.
Wakanow has offices in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa but last year also established a presence in the UK and in the UAE, with added expansion very high on the company’s agenda to eventually cover Africa like no other agency.

Fastjet acquires brand rights from Stelios Haji-Ioannou


(Posted 30th June 2017)

Fastjet is today providing an update on trading for the period from 01st of January 2017 to date, ahead of its Annual General Meeting to be held later today.

The Company has made progress in implementing stabilisation efforts, including inter alia, a re-fleeting process, relocation of its headquarters from London to Johannesburg and a right-sizing of its operations in Zimbabwe and Tanzania. These steps are having the desired effect and accordingly fastjet aims to achieve a cashflow break-even position for the final quarter of 2017. The Company, aiming to leverage its relationship with Solenta Aviation Holdings, a strategic investor who acquired a shareholding in Fastjet in January 2017 and who has an operational footprint in a number of African countries, is in the process of evaluating expansion options to further geographies and looks forward to making further announcements in due course.

The Company also announced that it has, on 29th of June, entered into an agreement with easyGroup Holdings Ltd to acquire all intellectual property rights associated with the fastjet brand for a total consideration of $2.5 million, to be satisfied in cash, resulting in saving to the Company over the next 5 years. This agreement represents a major step forward as the Company continues with its stabilisation efforts under new management.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who established the fastjet brand in 2012 and founded easyJet in 1995, stated: ‘Fastjet is a great brand in all its African markets, making it a highly valuable asset for the company. I have accepted the view of the current board that the company should own its own brand rather than licence it from me. I feel we have agreed a fair price for its transfer – $2.5m – which is less than what the company would have had to pay over the next five years. I still hold shares worth about £1.3m in the company and as such I will be a supportive shareholder, hoping to realise significant upside potential as fastjet grows and prospers. From the decisive actions thus far taken by the new Management and Board, and early indicative outcomes, I am encouraged that Fastjet’s direction of travel is now on the right course‘.

Nico Bezuidenhout, CEO of Fastjet, appointed in the second half of 2016, responded by saying: ‘Brand development is an integral part of building a successful consumer facing business and represents a substantial investment for any airline – it logically follows that your brand, an asset to be leveraged for the benefit of Shareholders, should be under your full control and ownership. We are happy to have reached agreement with Sir Stelios and appreciate the ongoing confidence he has expressed in the fastjet business and leadership team‘.

Fastjet, at the airshow held in Paris last week, was awarded the prestigious Skytrax award as Best Low Cost Carrier in Africa.

Ethiopian Airlines inaugurates new cargo terminal


(Posted 30th June 2017)

Ethiopian Airlines yesterday inaugurated its state of the art Cargo Terminal-II.The inauguration event has been graced by The Rt. Hon. Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the FDRE, Mr. Ahmed Shide, Minister of Transport and Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, other high level government officials and participants of the ICAO Cargo Forum have graced this momentous occasion.

The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn remarked: ‘Today, the national flag carrier has become the largest aviation Group and the fastest growing airline in Africa unrivalled in efficiency with shining operational excellence. Above all, Ethiopian Airlines has played an important and irreplaceable role in the development of the economy, export and import activities and foreign exchange earnings‘.

Mr Tewolde also acknowledged partners who has contributed for the successful completion of the project and further added: ‘The new Cargo Terminal-II combined with our existing Terminal-I will give us a total tonnage capacity of around 1 million per annum which is the largest in the continent of Africa. This milestone will make Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services one of the world’s largest cargo terminals; comparable with cargo terminals in Amsterdam Schiphol, Singapore Changi, or Hong Kong‘.

Covering a total area of 150,000 m2 area of land, the new Cargo Terminal includes facilities such as Dry Cargo Terminal warehouse, Perishable Cargo Terminal with cool Chain Storage, fully automated with latest technology ETV (Elevating Transport Vehicle), G+2 office building, apron area which accommodates 5 additional big freighter aircraft, sufficient truck parking apron as well as employees canteen and wash rooms. The new Cargo Terminal is also fitted with different climate chambers for storage and handling of temperature sensitive products such as fresh agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, life Science Products etc

Group CEO Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam went on to say: ‘Infrastructure development being one of the four pillars of our fast, profitable and sustainable growth strategic roadmap, Vision 2025, we have been making massive investments in infrastructure projects to modernize and expand our cargo facilities at a total cost of USD 150 million. This investment and the resulting massive cargo facilities along with the 6 modern B-777F fleet and 2 B-757F will create adequate air cargo transporting capacity for the fast growing export and import demand of the continent which is critically essential in the socio economic development of the African countries‘.

Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services operates 8 dedicated freighters to 39 global freighter destinations in Africa, the Gulf, the Middle East, Asia and Europe with an average daily uplift of 650 tons on top of the belly hold capacity, 150 tons, to over 95 destinations globally.

Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Serviceshas recently won ‘Cargo Airline Award for Network Development” at Brussels; ‘African Cargo Airline of the Year’ and many more.

Get more about the Second ICAO Global Air Cargo Development Forum on:

Reunion provides the stage for the Second Whale Congress


(Posted 30th June 2017)

World Congress on the Whale at Bosse

From the 03rd to the 07th of July will the French region of La Réunion host the second edition of the World Congress on the Whale at Bosse. This congress, co-organized by the Réunion Region and the Cétamada association, is the only event in the world devoted entirely to this species. The inscription of the "chemin des baleines" on the World Heritage List by UNESCO , a project supported by the Réunion Region for four years, will also be presented at the congress.

Reunion Island, part of the 34 hotspots of the world’s biodiversity, is on the route taken by the humpback whales that leave the Antarctic Ocean each year for the warm waters of the Indian Ocean during breeding and calving. After a first edition in Madagascar, it is the turn of Reunion to receive the second annual World Congress on Humpback Whales under the sponsorship of Sébastien Folin , which will take place from 3 to 7 July at Stella Matutina museum at Saint-Leu.
Exclusively dedicated to the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), which is one of the most observed and studied species among marine mammals, the congress aims to bring together researchers, scientists and organizations working in different fields of research. In order to advance research into the protection and conservation of cetaceans. The

  • Present research on humpback whales at their feeding sites, breeding sites and during migrations;
  • Facilitate meetings between researchers, students, professionals and amateurs;
  • Valuing the programs of observations, studies and conservation of humpback whales at local, regional and global levels;
  • Encourage scientific studies and conservation efforts for humpback whales.

Also watch the following YouTube clip for added information and better understanding of the topic at hand:

The inscription of the Whale Trail on the World Heritage List by UNESCO

For the past four years, the Réunion Region has been working on the inscription of the "chemin des baleines" on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The project, presented at the International Conference of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) in 2013, received the support of UNWTO Secretary-General Dr. Taleb Rifai, the Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Energie Ségolène Royal and Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy for the Climate of the President of the Republic François Hollande. The approach is based on responsible tourism , combining compliance with regulations, user safety and protection of biodiversity while contributing to the awareness and involvement of visitors.

Tourism industry reacts sharply to threats of KTB budget cuts


(Posted 30th June 2017)

The perceived threats against the Kenya Tourism Board and the industry as a whole to cut the tourism budget should visitor numbers not rise rapidly, has been met with in part incredulity, in past perplexion and in part outright anger, given the circumstances of Kenya’s tourism industry over the past few years.
Said a top private sector source on condition of not being named: ‘Was the 2008 post election violence our doing? Was the invasion of Somalia our doing? Was the fallout of terror by Al Shabab our doing? Was Ebola and the economic crisis in Europe our doing? Is the lack of decent infrastructure in particular at the coast our doing? Is poaching of our doing? Are the Laikipia conservancy invasions our doing? My advice to politicians is to pull their head out of the sand and see the reality we have been living with. At the coast we are constantly subjected to more and more tax and fee demands by county governments, yet service delivery in regard of water provisions, sewerage links to resorts and rubbish collection are lacking. In Laikipia tourism business has been seriously affected, several very upmarket lodges and camps have been burned down and here we are having to listen to this? Read Maria Dodd’s daily updates on what is going on there and help solve those problems before taking your frustration out on us!
It is politicians who set unrealistic targets without thinking what it takes to get there. I would have expected better from our Minister than ignoring facts and reality and threatening to cut budgets. This, Mr. Minister, is an election year again and you would do better to help stop campaign malpractices which put Kenya in a bad light abroad and make people decide to go somewhere else for their beach holiday for fear of potential election and post elections problems‘ with a significant number of other contributors sending in similar messages.
Cabinet Secretary Balala was speaking at a conference organized by the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers, in short KAHC, when he reportedly made the remarks, suggesting that the money spent on marketing Kenya had not produced expected results and that it would be either to meet targets or else suffer budget cuts.
Another Nairobi based source then made pointed reference to the Seychelles, which has been enjoying an uninterrupted visitor boom – despite much higher prices for holidays but also because of much higher ranked resorts – while Kenya has been struggling: ‘Let him explain how Seychelles succeeds where we apparently failed in his eyes. Better infrastructure, better resorts and a climate of close cooperation between government and private sector there without threats of this kind. Yesterday’s comments are like washing our dirty laundry in public instead of discussing causes and remedies behind closed doors. Very disappointing that was‘.

A close look indeed has one questioning the outburst as the incentives launched for air operators to come back to the Kenya coast have largely failed to see a return to pre-2012 heydays, a package of measures instituted by the ministry and yet not producing the numbers the government had suggested it would. Fodder for thought no doubt and all the best to my Kenyan friends in the tourism industry as they get nearer to the hot part of campaigns ahead of the August elections.

More train services from July onwards to link Nairobi and Mombasa


(Posted 30th June 2017)

Information from Nairobi suggests that come July will Kenya Railways increase the number of daily train services between the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa from the current one to three in each direction.
This will for the first time also now allow passengers to stop enroute as at least one of the three trains will stop at stations other than Mtito Andei, which is the half way point on the route.
Trains will leave the respective stations at 8 a.m., at 9 a.m. and then at 3 p.m. providing convenient departure times for travelers both in the morning and in the afternoon.
The move is expected to further aggravate the situation for bus operators on the route with yet more travelers going to opt using the train, despite the ongoing challenges to get to the respective start and end point stations, as they are way out of the city centres.
However, airlines too have reportedly noticed a migration of passengers to the new train service, given the lower cost and the lesser hassle travelers have to go through in comparison to entering airports and being subjected to multiple security checks.
Said a regular commentator from Nairobi: ‘When you travel out of JKIA in Nairobi you must go through perimeter security, again security when entering the terminal and then again before you reach your departure gate. This is an overkill and must be streamlined. It adds to the overall time of travel, first the trip to the airport, then the check in and all the security, then the flight itself and then waiting for your bags before leaving the airport.
Given that the airports are also out of town has the rail option become more user friendly. If you purchase your tickets on line you can be there just half an hour before departure of your train and then take 4 1/2 hours to your destination. That makes it competitive when you compare the overall time of leaving your house and reaching your destination, apart from the much lower cost. A standard ticket still costs only 700 KShs and First Class 3.000 KShs and when you compare this to ticket cost that is a whole lot less.
Don’t be fooled by those adverts of low fares, if you want those you must book weeks in advance while with the Madaraka Express you book there and then and leave. Therefore, if the airline pretend they are not worried, well, don’t be misled‘.
It is expected that not just locals will cram the trains but that foreign visitors too will increasingly take to the new service, especially as the main Nairobi station is not too far from the international airport and the convenient departure times in the morning will allow many international passengers destined for the Kenya coast to take in the sights while traveling to Mombasa, while those preparing to return home can take the afternoon train from the coast to Nairobi and still have plenty of time to spare for their flight check in.

Notably are now added safari packages being prepared by leading safari lodges in Tsavo West and the Taita Hills, which can be reached via the train stations of Mtito Andei and Voi. All eyes will be on Serena and Sarova Hotels when they will offer stays in their Kilaguni and Taita Hills / Salt Lick Lodges including transfers between the lodges and the railway stations using their own vehicles, to attract additional business on the domestic travel front, cutting down on the need of visitors to use their own cars.

Kenya Wildlife Service launches new jetty as gateway to Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park


(Posted 30th June 2017)

Tourism and conservation activities at Kenya’s south coast were yesterday boosted by the launch of the KShs 80 million Shimoni tourist jetty and patrol boat at Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park in Kwale County.

The event was presided over by Mr Harun Khator, the Director of Administration in the State Department of Fisheries and Blue Economy who said the projects would assist fisheries and blue economy in Kwale.

He said the government was committed to putting in place appropriate policy and legal frameworks to support the fisheries and blue economy sector. He noted that the new Fisheries Management and Development Act 2016 had provided for the establishment of new institutions, including the Kenya Fisheries Service, Kenya Fish Levy Trust Fund, Kenya Fisheries Advisory Council and Fisheries Marketing Authority.

Other guests at yesterday’s launch included representatives from Kenya Wildlife Service, Marine Police, Kenya Defence Forces, Kwale and Lamu County Conservation and Compensation Committee chairmen, boat operators, tour operators and the local community.

The commissioned projects were funded by the World Bank and implemented by the Kenya Coastal Development Project bringing together seven government agencies, including Kenya Wildlife Service.

KCDP has been fully aligned with the government’s Vision 2030 development blueprint through support for tourism development, management of natural resources and for poverty elimination. The jetty is expected to ease congestion of users at the Shimoni fisheries jetty and to minimize any negative incidences experienced by tourists as they access the marine protected area. The jetty together with the rehabilitated Sheldrick Falls tourist site at Shimba Hills National Reserve are expected to rejuvenate tourism, one of the key sectors through which KWS contributes to the national economy.

KCDP has also funded a number of other activities in the areas of institutional capacity building, protected area management effectiveness improvement, and in reduction of human-wildlife conflict. These include:

· Renovation of Mombasa and Shimoni stations, purchase of one patrol boat, training of 46 staff on diving and 52 on strategic adaptive management has enhanced the institution’s capacity to manage protected areas effectively.

· Purchase and installation of mooring buoys at Kisite-Mpunguti, Mombasa, Watamu, Malindi and at Kiunga Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This provides a critical dimension in assisting in enforcement of management rules and regulations through efficient demarcation of MPA boundaries and different use zones.

· Information obtained from biodiversity assessments for Shimba Hills National Reserve, Kisite-Mpunguti, Malindi and Watamu MPAs, and from an aerial wildlife census for Lamu area is useful in informing management decisions towards conservation of wildlife and their habitats in respective areas. Moreover, an installation of an Integrated Coastal Biodiversity Information Management System at Mombasa station will facilitate information sharing among stakeholders.

· The project has seen various documents developed including, Sable antelope, and Coral reef and Sea grass conservation strategies, management plans for Witu Forest Ecosystem, Kisite-Mpunguti, Watamu and Malindi MPAs. These documents will guide in conservation and management of species and critical habitats of conservation concern.

· The erection of 6-km electric fence at Lukore area along Shimba Hills National Reserve will help mitigate Human-Wildlife Conflict in the area, and improved awareness and community participation in natural resource management, primarily through training of community members on tour guiding and biodiversity assessment procedures ensure sustainability in environmental management.

· Through KCDP, KWS has constructed a community welfare structure, adjacent to the floating jetty and this will provide space for community members to sell local artifacts to tourists or any other natural resource-based small-scale business.

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