Hilton Worldwide hits key milestone in Asia Pacific with opening of 100th property

April 30, 2013

Addis Ababa Hilton

SINGAPORE and McLean, VA – Hilton Worldwide celebrated a key milestone today in Asia Pacific with the opening of DoubleTree by Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok, its 100th property in the region. It also has more than 170 hotels with more than 50,000 rooms in its pipeline and expects to triple its current portfolio in the next five years.

“Asia Pacific is a high-priority market for Hilton Worldwide, and the opening of our 100th property and our extensive pipeline are clear signs of our strong commitment to this area,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton Worldwide. “Our history in Asia Pacific has deep roots and dates back more than a half century. Together with the local expertise of our hotel owners and team members, Hilton Worldwide uniquely understands the distinct heritages and cultures of our many locations in this diverse region.”

In 2012, Hilton Worldwide signed a total of 55 new properties in key Asia Pacific markets including Greater China, Australia, Japan, Korea, India, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. With these new signings, over 14,600 rooms will be included into the company’s portfolio across six brands – Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton.

“Asia Pacific is a major growth engine in the world, and our powerful portfolio of brands allows us to serve a wide range of guests across this dynamic and exciting region,” said Martin Rinck, president, Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide. “Our in-depth knowledge of each of the 19 countries where we operate enables us to identify the greatest growth opportunities while working closely with and supporting the local communities and delivering the best experiences for our guests.”

In the first quarter of 2013, Hilton Worldwide announced a key signing of the first internationally-branded hotel in Yangon, Myanmar. The 300-room Hilton Yangon is scheduled to open in 2014. It also announced the introduction of its luxury brand Conrad Hotels & Resorts in the Philippines with the signing of the 350-room Conrad Manila, scheduled to open in 2015. Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi, the award-winning, mid-market brand’s first property in Southeast Asia also opened its doors on April 2, 2013 in Vietnam.

In India, the company opened the unique leisure property Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, in the serene and unspoiled landscape of the Sahyadri mountain range in the Western Ghats, and Hilton Garden Inn Gurgaon Baani Square, the second Hilton Garden Inn-branded hotel in the country. With that opening, Hilton Worldwide now manages seven hotels in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) alone.

Come May 1, 2013, Hilton Worldwide will also debut its fastest growing full-service brand, DoubleTree by Hilton in Australia, with the opening of DoubleTree by Hilton Darwin, DoubleTree by Hilton Esplanade Darwin, DoubleTree by Hilton Alice Springs, along with Hilton Darwin in the country’s Northern Territory.

Other key milestones for the company in the Asia Pacific region this year include commemorating its 50th anniversary of operations in Japan as well as its 25th anniversary of operations in China.

 

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner returns to service in Ethiopia flight

April 27, 2013

Addis-13 months in Ethiopia.docx-2
An Ethiopian Airlines 787 Dreamliner has flown from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, the first commercial flight by the Boeing aircraft since all 787s were grounded in January.

The 50 planes around the world were grounded due to battery malfunctions that saw one 787 catch fire in the US.

Over the past week teams of Boeing engineers have been fitting new batteries to the aircraft.

This was after aviation authorities approved the revamped battery design.

The Ethiopian Airlines plane took off at 09:45 local time (07:45 GMT) and landed in Nairobi, Kenya, some two hours later.

Engineering team

Each 787 has two of the lithium-ion batteries which caused problems.

In addition to new versions of the batteries which run at a much cooler temperature, the batteries are now enclosed in stainless steel boxes.

These boxes have a ventilation pipe that goes directly to the outside of the plane. Boeing says this means than in the unlikely event of any future fire or smoke, it would not affect the rest of the aircraft.

Boeing said it put 200,000 engineer hours into fixing the problem, with staff working round the clock.

On Thursday, the US Federal Aviation Administration issued a formal “air worthiness” directive allowing revamped 787s to fly.

Japanese airlines, which have been the biggest customers for the new-generation aircraft, are expected to begin test flights on Sunday.

A total of 300 Boeing engineers, pooled into 10 teams, have in the past week been fitting the new batteries and their containment systems around the world.

Boeing is expected to complete repairs on all 50 of the grounded Dreamliners by the middle of May.

In addition to the Dreamliners in service with airlines, Boeing has upgraded the 787s it has continued to make at its factory in Seattle since January.

The Dreamliner entered service in 2011. Half of the plane is made from lightweight composite materials, making it more fuel efficient than other planes of the same size.

The two lithium-ion batteries are not used when the 787 is in flight.

They are operational when the plane is on the ground and its engines are not turned on, and are used to power the aircraft’s brakes and lights
Flight ETH 801 between Addis Ababa and Nairobi wasn’t exactly a run-of-the-mill flight.

For starters, it was full of Boeing executives and the boss of Ethiopian Airlines. Several passengers on board asked me what was going on, why was the BBC on a routine flight in Africa?

Many didn’t realise that they were the first passengers to fly in a Dreamliner since it was dramatically grounded in January. There were plenty who knew about the safety scare surrounding the plane, although only a couple that we spoke to said it had made them a little more tentative about flying.

Boeing still has a huge job on its hands, convincing passengers that its most high-profile, most hi-tech airliner is safe.

Two senior Boeing executives went out of their way this week to tell me that they’d happily put their family on the plane. It’s the kind of quote that sounds good.

Still, Boeing will be desperately hoping that its Dreamliner nightmare doesn’t come back to haunt it

Source BBC


Swiss school to build hotel training facility in Rwanda

April 24, 2013

Roches
By Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome,

(eTN) – A regular source from Kigali has sent information that Rwanda’s Workplace Development Authority (WDA) has apparently entered into an agreement with Swiss-based Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, one of the world’s best-reputed hospitality training institutions, to create a training facility, and an attached application hotel, in Kigali. Jerome Gasana, Director General of the WDA, reportedly last week told the media in Kigali that they were planning to establish a campus of Les Roches in Kigali, where Rwandan hospitality students could get a top-quality education before joining the workforce.

According to the source, the project cost was given at around US$20 million, which would include a 60+ bedroom application hotel attached to the campus, though it was not made clear if both partners would share the financial burden or if Les Roches would only come onboard to operate the facility, which would extend their presence to Africa for the first time. The project implementation was given as 24 months, once all permits and licenses have been secured, which would put a potential opening of the hotel school into the mid- to late-2015 timeframe.

Hospitality training has been prioritized by Rwanda, and the Rwanda Development Board’s Tourism and Conservation Department has over the past two years, undertaken a series of initiatives to train hospitality staff and support programs aimed at improving service quality in the tourism and hospitality sector.

A number of regional tertiary training institutions have in the past scouted Rwanda with the view of opening either a campus or else recruiting Rwandan students for their institutions, a sign that the fast growth of the tourism industry in Rwanda is being backed up by measures to train young Rwandans in the field before starting their careers in the workplace. The opening later this year of the region’s first Marriott Hotel in Kigali has also seen a number of staff taken to sister hotels of the group in the Gulf region, where they are trained to become the backbone of personnel.

Tourism, besides agriculture and increasingly mining, is one of Rwanda’s key economic activities and has over the past years recorded annual double-digit growth, providing foreign investment opportunities, earning the country foreign exchange, opening job opportunities, and improving the image of the country abroad through excellent visitor experience.


New Victoria Falls City to beef up tourism

April 24, 2013

Kruger
ZAMBIA (eTN) – During a ceremony at Victoria Falls Airport, Walter Mzembi, Minister of Tourism, stated that land had been allocated for a new Victoria Falls City. The city was to be modeled on Niagara Falls City and be home to hotels, theme parks, and casinos. 1,200 has been allocated to the project on the road to the airport. There are also plans to develop Kariba and Masvingo for tourism.

I think we have heard all this before. When the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) meeting was announced to take part at the Victoria Falls, to be shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe government pledged to build massive infrastructure. It didn’t happen. It didn’t happen for two reasons. Firstly the government has no money, and secondly the private sector would not take on the challenge. The situation has not changed.

Until Zimbabwe sorts out its political situation and tourists feel comfortable visiting Zimbabwe, the tourism industry cannot be revived. So, the plan to build a new Victoria Falls City will be a pipe dream and maybe is just being mooted for political means.

Meanwhile Victoria Falls Town is gearing itself up for the UNWTO. According to reports, the private sector has spent around US$16million in upgrades for their hotels. The government is working on the airport and roads; electricity and waterworks have been improved, as has Internet connection and medical facilities.


Ethiopia Dreamliners first to fly again

April 24, 2013

Ethiopian Airline-2
Ethiopian Airlines is set to become the world’s first carrier to resume flying Boeing Co’s 787 Dreamliner passenger jets, with a commercial flight on Saturday to neighbouring Kenya, two airline sources said.

Boeing’s Dreamliners have been grounded since regulators ordered all 50 planes out of the skies in mid-January after batteries on two of them overheated. US regulators approved a new battery design on Friday, clearing the way for installation.

An Air India source told Reuters in New Delhi that commercial operations should start within a week or so, immediately after approval from the local regulator DGCA.

“Ethiopian Airlines will be the first airline company to resume 787 Dreamliner flights in the world. Saturday’s the date,” a senior Ethiopian Airlines source told Reuters. “We’re flying to Nairobi, Kenya on the normal flight schedule.”

Another source, who also declined to be named, confirmed the plan to resume flights on Saturday by the airline, the first African carrier to purchase Dreamliner planes. It ordered 10, has received four, and started flying them in August.

“It should be a matter of days, not weeks. I think one week or so,” the source said, without giving further details.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which grounded the planes, is expected to issue an Airworthiness Directive on Thursday. This applies to US airlines, but other nations are expected to follow suit immediately.

The grounding has cost Boeing an estimated $600m (R5b), halted deliveries and forced some airlines to lease alternative aircraft. Several airlines have said they will seek compensation from Boeing, potentially adding to the plane maker’s losses.

Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s vice president for marketing, said in the Ethiopian capital that the planes for all airlines would be modified and they would then work with their own regulatory authorities to determine when flights would resume.

“Each airline will be a little bit different,” he told reporters, adding that Boeing expected to meet its target of delivering more than 60 of its Dreamliner planes in 2013.

“The timing will change a little bit but we will be able to meet our commitments to our customers in terms of delivery this year,” Tinseth said.

Ethiopian Airlines previously said its fleet did not suffer any of the technical glitches experienced by other Dreamliner jets, though it withdrew the planes from service to undergo special inspection requirements mandated by the FAA.

– Reuters


Exodus abandons Omo Valley tours

April 18, 2013

Ethiopia-Newtrivbe
By Oliver Smith
The tribes, known for their tattoos, body paint and lip plates, are a big draw for tourists to the region, but Exodus said the recent construction of a new road has had a negative impact, bringing in too many visitors.
“In the past the Omo Valley was hard to reach, and only a handful of more adventurous tourists would make the journey to visit the tribes,” said a spokesperson. “Many more people have started visiting and tourism to the region is becoming negative – rather than going for a special experience, the Omo Valley has become a place for tourists to simply gawk at the tribes who live there, without respecting their lifestyle and traditions.”
Any holidaymakers with existing bookings will be allowed to complete their trip, but no new ones will be accepted, it said.
In an article written before the recent completion of the new road – which links the southern towns of Konso and Jinka – Susie Grant, a tour guide for Exodus, said: “[The road] will bring more infrastructure to the Omo Valley – better medical and educational facilities, trading and many associated benefits – but, of course, it will mean that some of the tribal culture will be lost.”
She added: “The tribes largely welcome us but unwittingly we can sometimes behave in a culturally unsuitable way. It is important that as travellers we visit sensitive regions like this in a responsible, open-minded way.”
The Omo Valley is home to eight different tribes numbering around 200,000 people in total. A number of other operators continue to offer itineraries to the region, including Wild Frontiers and Explore. Marc Leaderman, head of group tour operations at Wild Frontiers, said he understood Exodus’s decision, but said his company would continue to visit the area, offering tours that provide an “ethical” and “authentic” experience.
“The region has long been a concern,” he said. “Visitors to the Omo are often overwhelmed, and the trading of money for photographs can feel awkward. We’re running just one tour this year, and are working hard to offer something that takes visitors away from the busy villages, and that attracts tourists who are respectful.”
He admitted that a lack of regulation and growing visitor numbers meant “the tide is against us” but said pulling out entirely “would help no-one”, including the tribes who now rely on the income that tourists bring.
Justin Francis, managing director of Responsible Travel, an agent that specialises in ethical holidays, said: “Exodus has clearly given this a lot of thought and I respect their decision – many tourists and travel companies find this a difficult dilemma.
“The real question is what do the tribal communities want? This becomes complex as the communities often do not share the same opinion. Some see tourism as an intrusion from which they see little benefit, others see it as one of the only ways to earn an income and improve their lives.
“I would limit tourist numbers and consult with the communities to determine which would like tourism, and which would not, and on what terms.”
According to human rights groups, the welfare of the tribes is also threatened by the construction of the Gibe III hydroelectric dam and “land grabs” by the Ethiopian government.
Elizabeth Hunter of Survival International, which campaigns on behalf of tribal groups around the world, said: “The Ethiopian government rides roughshod over the rights of the Omo Valley tribes, and is now embarking on a disastrous programme to forcibly resettle them. The decision by Exodus to pull out of the region sends a strong message to the Ethiopian government and aid agencies that the world is watching.”
Source the Telegraph


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