Submit Press release  eTN Team ·  Advertising  ·  eTN Awards  - Worldtourism Events    

First December Report

Wolfgang's East Africa tourism report

Wolfgang H. Thome  Dec 04, 2008

The annual PriceWaterHouseCoopers-sponsored, regional, ‘most respected company awards’ yielded some interesting results this year, as both Kenya Airways and their Tanzanian partner airline, Precision Air, bagged top honors. Kenya Airways came second overall in Kenya, a remarkable comeback and vote of confidence by regional CEOs in spite of a hard year for the aviation sector, and Precision took the top honors in Tanzania as most respected company. The collective vote by CEOs sampled from across the region underscores just how highly rated the business model of Precision Air is in the region. Well done to the Pride of Africa and to Precision Air.

Most-respected, Ugandan company was telecoms giant MTN, while in Kenya it was telecoms industry leader, Safaricom.

It was just learned that Skyjet’s aircraft has been registered by the CAA in Entebbe, now carrying the registration 5X – SKA. A ‘C of A’ – or certificate of airworthiness – has been issued, clearing one of the last hurdles for the airline before going operational.

The now mandatory ‘test flights,’ required by the CAA for new applicants to obtain an AOC, or air operator certificate, will be carried out within days now and should then be followed by the formal announcement of their operations launch. Handling agents in Entebbe, Juba, and Khartoum have already been selected, and the airline’s offices in Entebbe are receiving their final touches before opening the doors to the traveling public. Happy Landings.

A contact at the airline’s Kampala office has confirmed that Lufthansa has signed an extended codeshare agreement with Ethiopian Airlines. Travelers from Frankfurt can now travel on Lufthansa tickets via Addis Ababa to Entebbe (daily flights) and also to Nairobi, Kigali, Kilimanjaro (Arusha), Dar es Salaam, and Zanzibar. This will undoubtedly assist ticket sales in Germany to those destinations on scheduled flights and will in particular benefit Entebbe, which has not seen a Lufthansa flight number on the arrival and departure board for over three and a half decades – other than an occasional cargo flight.

In turn, Ethiopian can now sell additional Lufthansa destinations on their own tickets as code-shared flights, like Stockholm, Geneva, and Amsterdam within the European network and San Francisco and Los Angeles on their long-haul network.

Uganda Wildlife Authority has released information about the birth of twin gorilla babies a few weeks ago at Bwindi Gorilla National Park. The newborns are part of the Nkuringo gorilla group, whose dominant male had passed away earlier in the year before a new ‘silverback’ emerged as undisputed leader. The group is reportedly being monitored by veterinary staff of UWA to ensure the well-being of the gorilla babies and to assist them as much as possible to see them through maturity in a few year's time.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority has extended the bid deadline for proposals by investors for recently-advertised opportunities in national parks to December 17, 2008 at 11:00 am, and the formal opening of bids will then take place half an hour later in the UWA board room. Contact for more information or visit .

In a remarkable departure from industry-wide practice, Declan Peppard’s Simba TravelCare has offered all-inclusive, holiday-season fares to Europe and North America. Airlines in the region are notorious for advertising misleading fares on top of which unsuspecting travelers then have to add a variety of airport taxes, fuel surcharges, and other creative inventions, making the ultimate price for the tickets often substantially more expensive than initially ‘advertised.’ The EU has now banned such deplorable behavior, and it is hoped that across Eastern Africa, too, common sense prevails eventually before the matter ends up in consumer courts for misleading advertising.
Even with all the charges included in the fares, Simba TravelCare is offering excellent deals, valid for the period from the December 13 with the return journey at the latest by March 31, 2009.

Thank you for the honesty, and hopefully the airlines and others will now stop misleading the general public when advertising fares.

The airline’s Kampala office has confirmed that effective immediately they will be using one of their new A380 aircraft for flights to London Heathrow. The airline is flying several times a day from Dubai to the UK, but travelers will be trying to get their booking on the new giant aircraft to sample the inflight service and comforts. Emirates connects Entebbe daily with Dubai, via Addis Ababa, offering one of the broadest ranges of connections available to Ugandans.

The Civil Aviation Authority has advertised regravelling work at Kidepo Valley National Park airfield, the Tororo airfield, and the Jinja airfield, all of which are owned and operated by the CAA. The work, once completed, will be welcomed by the aviation fraternity, as it will improve operational safety for planes landing and taking off from those facilities. Tender awards are expected in early 2009, whereafter works should start by mid-2009.

Conversations held with leading hotel operators in Mombasa would indicate a strong and growing demand for beach holidays in Kenya, probably accelerated by the political turmoil in Thailand, which saw up to 300,000 passengers stranded in and around Bangkok and elsewhere in the country. Understandably, major tour operators in Europe have stepped on the brakes before sending more tourists to the country torn up by strikes and protests, and the latest High Court decision dissolving the ruling party – by some accounts a politically-inspired verdict – will not help restore confidence in the destination anytime soon. While thousands of protestors continue to block the two main airports in Bangkok, in contrast the airports in Nairobi and Mombasa are continuing to operate without interruption, and the forthcoming Christmas season is, therefore, expected to be a sellout across the Indian Ocean beaches of Eastern Africa, i.e., Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar.

As Thailand benefitted from the political troubles of Kenya earlier in the year, so it is now the turn of others to provide safe holidays for the sun seekers from Europe and elsewhere.

Following intense pressure from the Kenyan public and under threat by the Kenyan government to introduce legislation in January against profiteering and overcharging by fuel companies, Shell Kenya earlier in the week lowered their pump prices by 15 Kenya Shillings or the equivalent of about 350 Uganda Shillings. However, in Uganda prices continue to remain as high as during the peak of crude prices; by public opinion, a shameless exploitation of motorists in a near monopolistic market. Aviation fuel prices also remain high in both Entebbe and Kajjansi, a mindboggling situation considering the drop of crude oil prices to around US$50 a barrel, a mere third of its former peak earlier in the year.

The home airport of Air Arabia has announced plans to add another terminal building to the airport to cater to the sharp growth of passengers traveling to, from, and via Sharjah. This will be good news for Air Arabia passengers from East Africa, where the airline presently flies several times a week to Nairobi. While construction may take a while, the new facility is, according to sources close to the Air Arabia office in Nairobi, likely to be open before Sharjah reaches its present capacity limits, expected to happen early in the next decade.

Air Arabia flights have taken the Kenyan market by storm in view of their value for money fares, and traffic in both directions is reportedly ahead of budget on the route - no wonder with fares starting at US$286 return plus, of course, the hidden charges, which few airlines or travel agents dare to openly reveal.

The year-long rehabilitation of the island’s main aerodrome has been completed, and the nearly 1.7 km-long runway has been strengthened and resurfaced to cater for larger aircraft. Commonly used are ATR turboprops, but even small jets are now able to land and take off safely from Mafia, giving a boost to tourism and trade between the island and the mainland. Before the work, Mafia’s aerodrome was only able to operate safely during the dry season but faced operating restrictions during the long rains, even during and after heavy downpours.

The work was part of Tanzania’s ongoing effort to upgrade the country’s aviation infrastructure to boost connections across the country and promote increased use of air transport. Tarmacking and lengthening of the field is foreseen in the next phase of works, which would then allow the use of commercial jets.

Several years after dropping their single weekly flight to Tanzania due to economic reasons at the time, Egypt Air is now said to plan their return to this Eastern African nation by the middle of 2009. The airline is looking at 4 flights per week on brand new B737-800 equipment, while previously they only operated one flight per week, which made using the airline less attractive for travelers.

The 144-seater Boeing aircraft will offer 120 seats in economy class and 24 seats in business class, and flight schedules will be timed to allow for prompt onward connections in Cairo in both directions.

News emerged last weekend of the passing of the dominant ‘silverback’ male gorilla of the ‘Shinda’ group, reportedly aged over 30 years, due to ill health. Sources from ORTPN confirmed that there was no foul play suspected as the ageing gorilla chief had been suffering from ill health for a while before succumbing. The animal, owing to its strength and utter domination of his extensive family, was often dubbed ‘king’ amongst game rangers. It was also reported that a new dominant males have already emerged within the gorilla family structure.

Projections published in the Rwandan media paint a rosy picture for the country’s booming tourism sector. With new hotels and meeting facilities being built by such investors like Dubai World, the promotion of such new assets will also be assured, hand in hand with a very proactive ORTPN, now under the auspices of the Rwanda Development Board. ORTPN expects earnings to top some US$150 million this year alone, and the new focus on meetings, conventions, and exhibitions could add a further US$40 million in earnings by 2012. ORTPN will also spend further funds on creating MICE promotional tools in the coming months, underscoring their commitment to promote tourism with determination.

Wolfgang's East Africa tourism report
Image via

Premium Partners