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Travel And Tourism In Africa


East Africa tourism report

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East Africa tourism report
Image via dukesafaris.com

By Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Ambassador | Sep 10, 2009

4X4 CHIMP CHALLENGE FOR THIS WEEKEND

This annual conservation fundraiser organized by City Tyres of Kampala will take place this weekend at the 4x4 course training ground. The participants can test their off road driving skills, learn a thing or two in the process and most importantly contribute towards the chimpanzee conservation. A range of corporate sponsors, including Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines, plus leading tourism companies like Wild Frontiers, Nalubale Rafting, the Rain Forest Lodge and Africana Tours and Travel are lining up with UWA, UWEC, NEMA, EcoTrust, the Jane Goodall Institute and the Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust to help attain this year’s financial targets – with the help of many other well-known Ugandan brand names and companies. Well done says this column, keep up the good conservation work!

UWA TO MEET MEDICAL EXPENSES OF ELEPHANTS ATTACK'S VICTIM

A recent violent encounter between a group of free roaming elephants coming from Queen Elizabeth National Park and a farmer tending to his crops outside the park left the individual with disfiguring injuries to his face and lower jaw, and just barely alive. UWA’s Executive Director Moses Mapesa visited the victim at Uganda’s main referral hospital ‘Mulago’ in Kampala to express his sympathy and pledge financial support to the victim for the necessary operations. UWA executives also used the opportunity to once again warn of encroaching protected areas and called for residents of nearby game reserves and national parks to be vigilant as wild animals would always stray across the park boundaries in search of food or as part of their migration patterns. Under the present wildlife statute UWA is not bound by law to provide compensation but opted to do so on humanitarian grounds to support the victim, whose plight was publicized by the local media. The chief park warden of Queen Elizabeth National Park in fact has already paid for initial treatment on location and the transport to Kampala, according to reliable sources.

UWA ADVERTISES RAFTING CONCESSION

The Uganda Wildlife Authority has earlier in the week announced their desire to award a rafting concession inside Murchisons Falls National Park and invited potential bidders to submit sealed bids by 11.00am Thursday, 29th of October at their offices on Plot 7 Kiira Road, Kampala. Electronic entries, i.e. via fax or email, WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED, and that bidders' representatives MUST be present at the opening of the bid documents. Delivery of the documents by registered mail or courier delivery against a signature are permitted however, although it is recommended to have the documents hand delivered and a receipt of delivery obtained from UWA.

The River Nile enters the national park near the Karuma Falls and through extensive white water sections reaches the main falls many kilometres downstream, before continuing towards Lake Albert.

GORILLAS AND ‘HAIRY WOMEN’

An attempt to find out ‘What do gorillas and hairy women have in common’ by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, has drawn sharp comments. UWA, probably thinking it was a humorous way to attract attention to the UN Year of the Gorilla (2009), issued a quarter page advert with the following text: "You may imagine that both gorillas and hairy women are very keen on their grooming, but as research has not established that all hairy women go the extra mile on that front, it is not so. One way in which gorillas establish and reinforce bonds is by social grooming. One gorilla will groom the other by combing through its fur with fingers and teeth. This promotes cleanliness and the close contact and touch between the animals helps in social bonding. Social grooming can relax a gorilla so much, that it will go into a trance. As for hairy women, the name gorilla comes from the Greek world Gorillai, which means hairy women." This advert appeared first in the New Vision on September 9 – so now you know what hairy women have in common with the gorillas ... Oooops ...

NEXT LITTLE RHINO DUE IN NOVEMBER / DECEMBER

The latest information from Uganda’s Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is brings good news for the conservation and tourism fraternity, as the delivery date of expectant rhino mum ‘Kori’ has now been given as late November or early December at the latest, according to vet reports from the sanctuary.

The arrival some months ago of ‘little Obama’ has already raised the profile of the sanctuary, which is run by the Rhino Fund Uganda. The little fellow is now actively exploring the 17.000 acre sanctuary, leaving his mother, with rangers often trailing in his wake as he storms through the bush. More visitors are coming to the reserve, not far off the main road between Kampala and the Murchison’s Falls National Park, which makes the location an ideal stopover for a day or even an overnight stay. The third of the females called ‘Bella’ is also in the family way again, after having lost her first unborn baby as a result of a miscarriage. She is due to deliver sometime between March and April next year at which time there will hopefully be 6 adult and 3 baby rhinos in Ziwa.

Write to angie@rhinofund.org for more information about the work, breeding program and information on how to support the sanctuary financially, for it is in constant need of fresh funding for recurrent and substantial new development expenditures.

EVERETT AVIATION TEAMS UP WITH PROTEA KAMPALA HOTEL

Uganda’s medivac and aircharter helicopter company Everett Aviation (U) has last week introduced their new agreement with the Protea Hotel Kampala, which will avail the hotel’s clientele transport to and from the International Airport or the Kajjansi airfield, thus beating the growing traffic jams. The helicopter can also be used for aerial photography, sightseeing and taking clients to spots in the national parks that are not easily accessible by fixed wing aircraft.

CONSULTATIONS TOWARDS COMMON CURRENCY KICK OFF

The East African Community has now embarked on region-wide consultations with stakeholders and the general public about planned introduction of a common East African currency. No firm deadline for the project has been given yet and consultations will reportedly last for at least three weeks to gather enough input and information from organizations, companies and civil society regarding such fundamental changes in the currency regimes of the five EAC member states.

UGANDA SHILLING BACK BELOW 2000 MARK

For the first time since the height of the global financial and economic crisis, Uganda Shilling has moved below the psychologically important 2.000 mark vis a vis the US Dollar. The appreciation of the Ugandan currency is fueled by the return of foreign investors combined with seasonal inflows of donor funding. At the lowest point Ugandan currency stood at nearly 2.300 UShs against the dollar, a remarkable recovery in the light of ongoing double digit inflation and continued weaker fish and flower exports to the main consumer markets in Europe. Tourism earnings remain lower than forecasted too, as does tea and coffee export revenues, although there are visible signs that the trends have bottomed out and the recovery is now underway.

FLY 540 REACTS WITH LOWER FARES

Air Uganda's introduction of the CRJ and re-launch of its morning flight to Nairobi was promptly countered by Fly 540 with lower regional fares to Kilimanjaro and Mombasa. Fly 540’s move is also thought to counter recent tariff adjustments by Kenya Airways and may be aimed at adding connecting passengers in Nairobi to their Mombasa and Kilimanjaro flights. Fly 540 will also shortly introduce CRJ 200 aircraft and immediately deploy the new plane on the Entebbe route.

KLM TO CUT BACK SERVICES

Information has been received that Dutch airline KLM will reduce number of flights from five to four on the Amsterdam to Entebbe route in its winter schedule, including the high season month of December. Visitors to Uganda on direct flights from Europe should therefore check with their travel agents about flight availability and schedules/traffic days to avoid disappointment.

However, Brussels Airlines, Emirates, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines, continue to remain on the Entebbe route with their regular number of flights, assuring Ugandan travellers connections to the rest of the world and giving visitors plenty of options on how to come to ‘the pearl of Africa’.

OIL TO BE REFINED IN UGANDA, OIL EXPLORERS TOLD

Some of the oil exploration companies, opposed to the government’s plans to build a refinery near the upcoming production sites, had vocally advocated for a pipeline to be built to the Indian Ocean to facilitate refining of the crude oil abroad. They were however up to a rude awakening when government dug in its heels and basically told them "or else", while giving the clearest indication yet that a refinery would be built, if not with the exploration companies, then with the help of the third parties. China, Russia, India and Iran have all expressed interest in financing local refinery. In view of such overtures the Ugandan government now feels vindicated and according to reliable sources will go ahead with designing and building a refinery.

ZAMBIA’S FIRST LADY CHOOSES KENYA COAST FOR VACATION

Zambian First Lady has returned to East Africa for a private holiday recently and vacationed at the famous Hemingway’s in Watamu, one of the finest hotels along the Kenyan coast. Previously she had visited the Masai Mara Game Reserve to witness one of nature’s greatest spectacles - the annual migration of the wildebeest and zebras from the Tanzanian Serengeti into the Kenyan part of the transboundary ecosystem.

KENYA AIRWAYS TO HOLD AGM

Formal notice has been issued by the airline, through direct communications with shareholders and through the regional media, that the company’s 33rd Annual General Meeting will be held at 11.00am on September 25 at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani Gymnasium, Nairobi. The airline’s shares are quoted on all three East African stock exchanges - in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Kampala.

MOMBASA MEETING TACKLES ANTI PIRACY COOPERATION

A two day meeting last week in Mombasa brought together representatives of the countries along the Indian Ocean, with the UN Office for Somalia, the US Coast Guard and other organizations. Piracy has been a festering problem for shipping traffic to and from the main Eastern African ports of Dar es Salaam and Mombasa, and also affected shipping traffic from and to Southern Africa and vice versa to the Middle East and the Suez Canal.

A major naval force assembled in Djibouti aims to keep the sea lanes open for traffic, but ongoing hijacking of vessels, though notably less in the past weeks, has driven the cost of imports and exports up and delayed deliveries as many ships now make substantial detours around the most endangered waters. The meeting in Mombasa made a number of recommendations and in particular will share intelligence and information via two offices in Mombasa and Dar es Salaam. It seems that the military approach to preventing attacks on ships passing the Horn of Africa is now being supplemented by political and intelligence cooperation too.

SADC, the Southern African Development Community and the Port Management Association of East and South Africa jointly hosted the event.

RWANDA TOURISM BEATS GLOBAL TREND

Figures received from Kigali indicate that ‘the land of a thousand hills’ has received 7 percent more visitors in the first half of 2009, compared to the available 2008 numbers. Over 440,000 visitors came to Rwanda between January and June of this year and statistics released show that 43 percent of them gave ‘business’ as the primary reason for their trip to Rwanda.

ORTPN has also released material related to the diversification of their tourism products, with high emphasis placed on bird watching. The Nyungwe National Park has been earmarked towards this market niche, as more than half of the country’s birds are found in that park alone. Forest canopy walks are being developed to allow visitors to see the birds’ living environment high up in the leafy sections of the tropical trees, an added attraction not yet common in Eastern Africa.

RWANDAIR SIGNS CODESHARE WITH ETHIOPIAN

Official ceremony of signing the code share agreement between the Rwandan national carrier and Ethiopian Airlines took place in Kigali earlier this week. The daily flights between Kigali and Addis Ababa are now available under a RwandAir flight number and the airline will also now sell tickets to Addis and beyond on their own stationary. The cooperation fits into RwandAir’s expansion strategy for routes which it presently does not operate directly, but can now offer as a result of the new deal. A similar deal is also in place for the Kigali to Brussels route, operated by Brussels Airlines.

Brussels Airlines is applicant partner of Star Alliance and it is understood that Ethiopian Airlines will be joining the world’s leading airline alliance as a partner soon, giving the RwandAir deal even greater significance in coming months and years.

RWANDA INTENSIFIES HOSPITALITY TRAINING

The Rwanda Tourism University College is set to offer a series of hands-on training sessions and workshops to improve customer service, all held at the conference facilities of the Sports View Hotel in Kigali in the coming weeks. One of the aims of the courses is to improve communications skills for staff working in the hospitality sector. Meanwhile it was also learned from sources in Rwanda that about 30 orphans successfully completed certificate courses in the hospitality field under a capacity building programme for genocide orphans, which will enable them to find employment in the sector. The training initiative reportedly worked hand in hand with potential employers to ensure prompt placement of the young graduates without lengthy periods of applications and job hunting.

AIR BURUNDI HALTS ALL FLIGHTS

As the airline’s single Beechcraft 1900 is undergoing heavy maintenance in South Africa, Air Burundi has suspended flight operations for the duration of maintenance. All passengers from and to Bujumbura are being rebooked on RwandAir via Kigali and Kenya Airways via Nairobi to reach their respective destinations. No information could be obtained about a short term lease option for a similar aircraft to keep operations going, or eventual increase in fleet size to serve more destinations. Information from Burundi is rather difficult to come by because even Burundi's tourist board does not regularly respond to enquiries or sends out press briefings on new developments.

ETHIOPIAN ADDS EXTRA FREIGHTER TO FLEET

It was learned during the week that Ethiopian Airlines has now added a second MD 11 freight aircraft to its fleet - a remarkable sign of confidence in their cargo strategy and market partners at a time, when other airlines are considering dumping their cargo divisions and dedicated cargo airlines continue to freeze or reduce capacity. The airline now operates two MD 11F, two B757-200F and two B747-200F aircraft.

REUNION AND SEYCHELLES SIGN TOURISM PACT

Last week a high-powered delegation from the Seychelles has visited Reunion to renew their tourist ties. Air Austral, the Reunion based airline, announced at the same time that they will from October onwards add a second flight between Mahe and Reunion starting in October. The additional flight will allow for new 3 and 4 day holiday options aimed to bring in more short stay visitors. The Seychelles Tourist Board estimates that the extra flight will double visitors from Reunion over the next year. While in Reunion the visiting delegation held B2B sessions with travel agents and organized a half day workshop to provide updated information about the range of holiday resorts now available for visitors on the various islands of the Seychelles.

La Reunion, as this island is officially known, is a territory of France, while the neighbouring islands of Mauritius and Madagascar, and of course the Comoros and Seychelles are independent nations. Finally, the island of Diego Garcia, formerly part of Mauritius, is now used by the United States as a forward airbase and logistics centre for their air and naval forces deployed in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf and closed for visitors.

Use Google for more information on Reunion, the Seychelles and other African Indian Ocean islands to find out about their main holiday attractions.

KHARTOUM ACCUSED OF OIL FRAUD

This week UK based transparency and anti-corruption advocacy organization ‘Global Witness’ has released a report which puts the regime in Khartoum in the dock over the sharing of oil revenues. The report alleges that since the signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, with the regime, Southern Sudan has received up to 21 percent less of the oil revenues than what was actually realised from oil sales by Khartoum. The shortfall figures in a worst case scenario reach over a billion US Dollars while, if taking a medium figure, would still amount to nearly 600 million US Dollars.

Budgetary problems, caused by Khartoum through measures like halting dollar transfers to the South and substituting them with the Sudanese Pound, have led to development programs being slowed down at the expense of health and education for the Southern population.

While launching the report early in the week in Nairobi, an official of ‘Global Witness’ also expressed fear that all factors combined and both overt and covert activities of the regime against the semiautonomous region of Southern Sudan, may ingnite new armed conflict.

Meanwhile, the famous ‘trouser lady’ was fined earlier this week in a Khartoum court for wearing trousers but spared lashes. According to her lawyers she refused to pay the fine, causing the case to go on. The lady was then taken to jail for a day before being released in an apparent effort to avoid further bad press for the Khartoum regime abroad. The draconian laws applied in the North of the country (besides the oil questi) have always been at the heart of the conflict with the South, and also in Darfur, where African population has rejected Khartoum’s intention to make Sharia law binding for all of Sudan’s citizens.

Source: eTN




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