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East Africa Tourism


Wolfgang's East Africa tourism report

By Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa | Jan 22, 2009

Wolfgang's East Africa tourism report

CAA GETS BUSY IN 2009
The Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority has now invited bids for the construction of a head office for the regional ‘Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA),’ which will be located in Uganda but serve all five East African Community member states. CASSOA had already taken up its work in 2008, but in rented premises, and a new dedicated building is needed on CAA land near the airport to increase and improve communications, efficiency, and accessibility of the new agency for the aviation fraternity from the entire region.

The CAA also intends to build a new passenger terminal building at the Arua aerodrome, starting later in 2009, according to reports received earlier in the week. Arua is one of the busiest aerodromes outside Entebbe and Kajjansi and located in the West Nile region of Uganda, which borders both the Congo and Southern Sudan and is, therefore, of strategic importance besides being a business hub.

THE DANGERS OF PROTECTING FORESTS
Two staff members of the National Forest Authority were reportedly killed last week while on duty in a forest reserve near Masaka when they encountered illegal loggers. The staff had gone to the Jubia Forest Reserve to carry out an inspection, when the wood poachers set upon them with axes and saws, brutally killing two while a third one managed to escape, severely injured, and hide until help arrived.

The NFA staff members were responding to reports of illegal logging and pit sawing of wood, prohibited by law but sadly, common place as often reported in this column. Condolences are expressed to the family and friends of the deceased and the NFA on the loss of their colleagues. Arrests have been made already over the gruesome crime.

MINISTERIAL ‘STATEMEMT’ RAISES EYEBROWS
This item was picked from the ‘have you heard’ column of Uganda’s leading daily newspaper, the New Vision, and can also be accessed via: http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/9/40/668258
I’m a volunteer — Janat Mukwaya
Friday, January 16, 2009
Being a cabinet minister is not such a big deal - well, at least minister of tourism, Janat Mukwaya thinks. While inaugurating a new board of directors for Uganda Tourism Board at Metropole Hotel recently, Mukwaya voiced her dismay with the outgoing board thus:
“I’m perturbed that the board you’re replacing resigned due to lack of funding. Even we who are ministers are only delivering a service, we are doing voluntary work. We are not getting that much money.”

Against that backdrop, the minister advised the new board not to flee because they are not getting paid but rather, sacrifice for their country!
Well, if that is what it means to be minister, we can only imagine how many Ugandans would die to ‘sacrifice a little’ for their country.”

Repeats this correspondent, the questions many asked in mails, calls, and text messages: are there any takers who can make tourism happen with enthusiasm and volunteerism alone, no funds required or available?

KENYA AIRWAYS GETS NEW B737-800
The Kenyan flag carrier, fondly called ‘Pride of Africa,’ has taken delivery earlier this week of a brand new B737-800 with 145 seats in business and economy class. The airline leased the new Boeing from ILFC and is due to receive another similar type aircraft in February this year. The additional capacity will come in handy during the present tourist high season and allow further route diversification and frequency increases. Watch this space for updates.

KENAY SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH QATAR
The Kenya Airports Authority has signed a major concession agreement with a Qatari firm, which will build a 300-bedroom hotel at the perimeter of the airport, combined with an exhibition center. This will undoubtedly strengthen the position of Kenya’s most important airport vis-à-vis the regional rivals and pretenders to the number one slot in regard to passengers, cargo, and aircraft movements.

In a related development, it was learned that the director general of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority has also left office after his contract has come to an end, but no replacement has yet been named by the authorities, keeping the aviation fraternity guessing. Notably, however, the board also did not give him another year’s extension, probably because relations between the now-gone director general and the aviation fraternity had reached the lowest possible level. The aviation fraternity, in particular the ‘General Aviation’ section had issues galore with him over his rushed introduction of the contentious air-service regulations and as several individuals from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport put it, ‘good riddance.’ His masterpiece was the gazetting of the regulations while consultations were still going on in a complete breach of trust, and the sentiments of the aviators were confirmed when news emerged that an ICAO audit termed the new ‘pet’ regulations of the former director general ‘way over the top’ and recommended an immediate review and amendments to that piece of work.

The airport manager at Wilson Airport in Nairobi is reportedly also leaving after serving two terms of office, again with no substantive appointment for a successor in place as yet. Keep watching this space for emerging news.

NEW AVIATION FACILITY AT ‘ORLY AIRPARK’
The Aero Club of Kenya has now confirmed that the building of the new ‘club house’ at the airpark located some 40-minute’s drive from Nairobi is well advanced. The new facility, including airstrip, etc., is located at the Kitengela plains and will offer a new sense of ‘aviation freedom’ away from the overcrowded and overregulated Wilson Airport. The new club house is expected to be ready by the middle of the year, and Aero Club members will be able to make full use of the facility.

Meanwhile, Harro Trempenau has been re-elected once again as chairman of the club, as was most of the committee - a resounding vote of confidence in their ability to run the aviation fraternity’s affairs. Congratulations Harro, well done indeed.

It was also learned that the occasion of 100 years of aviation in Kenya will be celebrated with a formal dinner and memorial lecture cum presentation on February 28 in the Aero Club of Kenya club house. Enquiries can be sent to harro@trumpetnose.com .

KENYAN ‘NATION’ AND ‘STANDARD’ THREATENED WITH LIBEL SUIT
From information received out of Kenya, it is understood that a former board member of the Kenya Tourist Board has now issued notices of intention to sue for libel to the country’s leading news and media organizations following the reports two weeks ago over the situation at KTB. As and when the two newspapers react to this in public with a statement, this will be reported in this column, as will eventual progress with the suit if indeed it does go ahead.

To prove such cases in a court of law, however, is notoriously difficult and ordinarily takes a very long time to conclude. Watch this space for updates.

CHANGE IN E-LAW TO BENEFIT KENYA TOURISM
The recent amendment to the relevant laws will finally allow Kenyan websites featuring tourism products to transact ‘real time’ bookings and payments. Until now, bookings could be done, but payments could not be effected at the same time, keeping reservations in suspense until money reached by other means. This took place through alternate non-Kenyan payment gateways, but mostly bank transfers, which proved time consuming and costly for all participants, looking at the fee practises of banks in Kenya and across the region.

The change in law will finally also allow several Kenyan airlines to accept bookings and payments via credit cards, strengthening their hold on the market while disadvantaging the travel agents, yet more, once again.

FRANTIC EFFORTS TO GET AIR TANZANIA FLYING AGAIN
Energetic work was going on behind the scenes to get Tanzania’s national airline back into the skies again, after it was first grounded in December by the TCAA over what at least some industry observers say were obscure reasons aimed at keeping TCAA itself from being sanctioned by ICAO. The AOC has since been returned to the airline, but due to lack of funds, flights could not resume until the main suppliers of fuel and other services have been paid some of their outstanding bills. Government is reportedly putting a financial package together to allow the airline to resume operations, as with every day the airline does not fly, their market share is being taken over by competitors. Watch this space for updates.

TOURISTS ENRAGED BY ANIMAL POISONING
Visitors to Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve recently witnessed a number of animals dying or already dead by suspected poisoning, reportedly inflicted by poachers in search of animal skins and other trophies. The poachers had apparently spread poisoned fruits and bread but had not counted on being found out by tourists on game drives, who then alerted wildlife officials to their observations.

RWANDA NEWS UPDATE
The Office for National Parks and Tourism under the Rwanda Development Board has now informed that they have acquired a 24-seater ‘comfort’ boat for Lake Kivu to offer a new product to visitors coming to the area. Serena Hotels operates the nearby Lake Kivu Hotel, assuring visitors of international standards and quality. The new boat service is aimed to allow tourists to spend more time in the area, exploring the lake shores for birds.
The boat is also providing a new route between the gorilla national park and the Nyungwe Forest National Park, according to the statement received from ORTPN, which makes visits to Rwanda more exciting than ever before. While gorillas can be tracked at the ‘Parc de Volcanoes,’ the Nyungwe park is home to some 13 species of other primates, including chimpanzees and a variety of other game, birds, and unique flora.

The annual gorilla-naming ceremony ‘Kwita Izina,’ an absolute highlight in the tourism activities calendar in Rwanda, is provisionally set for June 20, 2009, and at least a dozen new-born gorillas will be ‘baptized’ on that day. The festival itself, however, will span several days prior and after the naming day to allow for a range of additional activities to take place.

Rwanda had a record tourism year in 2008 and expects to do even better in 2009 now that more products and services are available.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TO FILM THE ‘BOMA’ MIGRATION
Staff of the local offices of the Wildlife Conservation Society revealed during the week in Juba that a film team of the National Geographic Society was in the southern Sudan to commence filming one of the best-kept secrets in the wildlife arena - the great migration of the white-eared gazelles in and out of Boma National Park. The park extends along the border with Ethiopia in the east of the southern Sudan and is earmarked as a tourism destination within the emerging circuit of national parks and other attractions. The game numbers, estimated by some experts to be nearly 800,000 animals, have astonished conservationists as, after the long liberation war of the south against the oppression of the Arabic north of the Sudan, game was thought to have been decimated. To the delight of the conservation and tourism fraternity, however, initial game counts produced amazing results, giving hope for the southern Sudan to reclaim market share in coming years.

JUBA ERUPTS IN CELEBRATION FRENZY ON OBAMA INAUGURATION
Hotels and restaurants across Juba were filled to the brim on the evening of January 20 to witness the inauguration of the first African-American president in the history of the United States, Mr. Barrack H. Obama.

The roots of Obama’s African family are traced back to a small village in Nyanza province in western Kenya, where his late father was born and raised, giving a sense of pride, hope, and expectation to the populations, not just in Kenya, but across eastern Africa. Many of the revellers were wearing Obama T-shirts, caps, shawls, and ‘kangas,’ i.e., wrap-arounds, showing the picture of Obama being ‘their man,’ Congratulations to the 44th President of the United States and all the best for the next four years ahead of him.



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