Expo 2020 may prove Dubai’s defining moment

November 23, 2013

Dubai -skyline

Will we? Won’t we? That’s the question that’s been on the lips of Dubai residents during the last few weeks. In the bid for the greatest trade show on earth, the issue of whether Dubai will win the Expo 2020 has dominated newspapers, water coolers, TV reports – and, of course, the business fraternity. Holding the world’s fair would be Dubai’s defining moment, marking the transformation of the emirate into a top global centre for tourism, trade and finance.
In the last 18 months, the emirate has hauled itself out of the economic crisis, looking at brighter times ahead.
Apartment prices have jumped over 20 per cent in the past 12 months and the stock market has grown by 79 per cent this year.
The emirate has already done a great job of souping up its collosal airports, building slick hotels and welcoming millions of visitors to its trade centre, but Dubai’s ever-shrewd government knows that the Expo would be the fillip that elevates the emirate to the big time.
With its enviable position at the heart of the world, Dubai is also blessed with the necessary infrastructure, creativity and drive to put on a spectacular show.


Kenya Tourism Board hosts buyers from around the globe to showcase destinations

October 17, 2013
magicalkenya
BY PROF. DR. WOLFGANG H. THOME, ETN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT

The Kenya Tourism Board, ahead of the much-anticipated Magical Kenya Travel Expo 2013, has decided to tackle global perception about the destination head-on by sending Hosted Buyers across the country to experience Kenya’s star attractions and see for themselves that the destination is fundamentally safe to travel to and for tourists to visit. The buyers who come to attend Kenya’s premier international tourism showcase on home soil, held from October 18-20 at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, has attracted over 150 high-powered individuals responsible for making decisions on which destinations will feature in their vacation programs for the forthcoming seasons, forming basically a panel of “judges” on the future of Kenya’s tourism industry.

Kenya has seen arrivals in the first half of this year decline below last year’s figures by double digits, a trend which the industry says needs reversing, though the opinions are divided on how best to accomplish this turnaround.

Hosting buyers and international media is of course an excellent start to bring the spotlight back to the destination, and a positive spotlight for that matter, as key decision makers gain their own experience on site rather than by googling the destination. Travel writers worth their salt of course also have the ability to attract the attention of their readers to a particular destination and create those images in their minds, vibrant and colorful and enticing, to have them just want to come to a place like Kenya. A unique destination, offering sundrenched beaches along the Indian Ocean shores to the shores of Lake Victoria and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Rift Valley lakes in between, dozens of national parks, game reserves and private conservancies giving the Big Five experience a new dimension and of course Mt. Kenya right in the middle of the country, where the snows fall right on the equator.

Therefore, KTB’s efforts are commendable and targeting the right groups, hoping for returns on this significant investment they are injecting into the generic marketing of the destination.

At home though challenges have arisen too which need urgent attention, and strangely the position is maintained in much of the mainstream media as if the last few weeks would not have had a very significant impact on hotel, resort and lodge occupancies. To the contrary I should say after only a day in Nairobi, as all my calls to contacts in the Kenyan hospitality industry confirmed one thing – a downward trend.

Equally strangely it seems also that industry leaders have not yet come out in force, standing united, and telling government from an open platform what needs to be done on the home front to reverse this negative trend.

When discussing the issue with several key stakeholders yesterday, they all agreed with me that an immediate five point plan may be the start to inject new growth into the vital tourism industry, which for decades has been in the top three of Kenya’s economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings and job creation.

For one, the ridiculous VAT impositions must be reversed immediately. They have added a huge extra cost burden on packages at a time when – just compare Egypt here where resort prices were dropped by over 50 percent from regular contract levels to stay in business – special offers are needed and not higher prices. Tourism, which the same government professes to be an invisible export, must be treated like any other export, made free of VAT, full stop. This the government can fix with ease, and if they do not it will be a harsh lesson when the wake up to reality in coming months.

Secondly, investment incentives, including the availability of affordable low cost loans, is needed to allow in particular the coastal resorts to finally invest in modernization and refurbishments across the board. Some resorts have excelled in doing this persistently, like the Serena, the Whitesands, the Leopard Beach, Hemingways to name but a few, but most still are stuck in the time warp of 20 years ago, same old menus and same old entertainment. Here is a chance for Kenya to in one fell swoop ‘reform’ the sector and raise quality and ratings to the levels of competing destinations like Zanzibar.

Moving on to the next point, the airlines need to be engaged to come on board with joint promotions but also to find a welcome reception when it comes to traffic rights. I am a friend of Kenya Airways, no doubt there, but at times the objectives of one have to take into account the objectives of many. Offer airlines that key access to Mombasa, including where asked for fifth freedom rights, because that is one thing the coast this year lacks, enough seats to bring enough clients to fill those empty beds. Qatar Airways is just one case in point and the ball is firmly in this government’s court now.

Fourth point would be to make a very public and very visible statement vis-a-vis the darned visa fees – I wrote about that yesterday from my own experience where the attitude of the immigration officer was basically telling me – and hopefully she was the one and only rotten apple in that lot at JKIA – to either pay up or get lost. Half the fees like done in 2008, or scrap them altogether. Some might say the 25 or 50 US Dollars are hardly making a dent into the holiday budget of travelers coming to Kenya, but there is a psychological value in such a move when Kenya tells the world, “Hey we are open for business and until whatever date, you can actually come in for free…”

Lastly and perhaps one of the key issues, this government must write a check big enough to take KTB’s fight to the global market places, beyond the home soil like this week at the Magical Kenya Expo, beyond the traditional trade fairs like WTM and ITB. Give KTB the funds to go global, blitz the new and emerging markets hand in hand with those airlines flying there, first and foremost our own flag carrier Kenya Airways of course, and give KTB the ability to allow the private sector to back pack on such activities at a largely subsidized cost. Airlines should be more than happy to extend AD 75 tickets, not as recently seen a frugal 10 percent and expecting a big hug and thank you for THAT, because they will fill their seats to Kenya.

There sure will be other measures one can take, but knowing the attention span of politicians, outside election campaigns that is, a five point plan for now must do. I hope that leading stakeholders will stand up this week and tell their Minister and their President what must be done, as the time for asking nicely seems to have run out. Time to act, time to do it now or carry the burden of induced failure when the sector missed forecasts and targets by a large margin, impacting on foreign exchange earnings and the job market.


Egypt travel advice: is it safe to go?

August 15, 2013

Egypt Travel

By 

As Egypt reels from the worst violence in decades, the nation’s vital tourism industry seems certain to suffer. Egyptian security officials are forcefully dispersing sit-ins, resulting in a spiralling toll in deaths and injuries, while the country is under emergency law until further notice. So what to do if you’re already booked to holiday there?

The Foreign Office (FCO) currently advises against all but essential travel to the country, except for the Red Sea resorts, such as Sharm el-Sheikh and Dahab. Meanwhile, the Egyptian daily newspaper al Alhram reports that the ministry of state for antiquities has closed all archaeological sites and museums across Egypt.

British Airways says it has altered flights schedules to Cairo so that they do not land in the evening, into the dusk-to-dawn curfew that has been imposed across the capital and other major areas. “We are keeping the situation in Egypt under constant review,” a British Airways spokesperson said. “We are also offering customers the option of rebooking to a later date, or to another destination.”

Britain’s biggest travel operator, Thomson and First Choice, states: “The majority of our customers are in Sharm el-Sheikh which is a considerable distance – indeed, an eight-hour drive – from Cairo. There have been no related incidents in Sharm el-Sheikh or any of the other popular Red Sea tourist areas.” Booking conditions for the resort destinations of Sharm el Sheikh, Marsa Alam, Taba and Hurghada remain “as normal”, with tourists flying into the resorts airports. The operator currently has 11,769 British tourists in Egypt.

The vast majority of travellers heading to the Red Sea resorts fly there directly. EasyJet runs flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, which land outside of curfew hours. A spokesperson for the airline said the company can refund tickets that have already been booked, but added they haven’t seen any demand for this.

The UK travel association Abta also states that conditions relating to travel to Red Sea resorts are continuing as normal, although customers travelling outside of this area “will be offered the option of deferring their date of travel, transferring to another destination or having a full refund for as long as the advice remains in place”. It assures that: “Red Sea resorts are largely self-contained and autonomous with the majority of customers staying in large complexes, often all-inclusive with a wide selection of bars and restaurants.”

But the FCO has further cautions on what travellers should do when they actually get to these resorts. Its latest statement says: “Travel advice for Red Sea resorts remains unchanged but local authorities in Sharm el-Sheikh have temporarily stopped tourist excursions. In Hurghada the police have advised tourists to remain within hotel grounds. We advise British tourists to follow the regulations set by the local authorities and to obey curfews. British tourists should also ensure they keep valid identification with them at all times.”

Travel journalist Matthew Teller, who specialises in the Middle East, says that there is an inherent difficulty around travel advice in such cases.

“What the FCO does or doesn’t say rules the roost in terms of what tour operators can and can’t offer clients.” Even if it doesn’t seem like you can do much while you’re there, major tour operators aren’t likely to let you change plans if you’re booked to travel to an area the FCO has deemed to be safe for travel.

Meanwhile, cruise operators MSC, Costa and Holland America Line are all reported to have pulled their Egypt-bound ships. This latest crisis will be a sharp blow to the Egyptian tourism industry, which is struggling to recover in the turbulent period following the uprising of 2011, which deposed Hosni Mubarak.

In 2010, a record 14m tourists arrived in Egypt and the industry represented 13% of GDP, directly or indirectly employing one in seven workers. But even before the recent crisis, the Egyptian tourism federation estimated hotel occupancy rates in Cairo to be around 15% while in Luxor – the site of the Valley of the Kings, that figure was barely in single digits.


Ethiopia the first place of God stepped in the world

July 23, 2013

 

Ethiopia-Tourism-Attraction-

It is also known as Tis Abay in the Amharic language which if translated to English, means “the smoking water” named drawn from the fact that the dropping of the water creates a smoke-like bounce of water droplets in a fantastic and magnificent scene. The Blue Nile Falls is considered to be one of Ethiopia’s best known tourist attractions site in the country.

The Blue Nile Falls is located at the upper course of the Nile River about 30 km downstream from the town of Bahir Dar which is about some 319.67 kilometers total in distance from the national capital, Addis Ababa.

The waterfalls consist of four main streams that is originally different from a ooze in the dry season to over 400 metres wide in the rainy season as a result of the diversion of Lake Tana which has to some extent reduced the variation of the water since 2003 in pursuant of a hydro-electric station by the Ethiopian government but nevertheless, the falls is still at its best offering a good atmosphere for those who visit the place.

palace-main-Ethiopia

This has caused a decrease in the flowing water of Blue Nile Falls, but the fact still remains that the full beauty of the falls can still be appreciated during Sundays and holidays because the hydroelectric station is believed to only operates during weekdays and for this reason, it is advisable for tourist to visit the place on Sundays or Ethiopian public holidays.

Ecological experts say the Blue Nile Waterfalls has isolated the ecology of Lake Tana from the ecology of the rest of the Nile and this has helped played a role in the evolution of the endemic fauna of the Lake Tana.

Blue Nile Falls-420x0 1 The flora around the falls can also be appreciated; there are many plant species endemic only to that area. The Blue Nile Falls are also enriched with different types of wildlife that can only be found in Ethiopia as one of the best scenes in Africa.

The Lake Tana itself is home to many island monasteries which were believe to be built by the missionary man Manuel de Almeida from Portugal. Some of the monasteries can be visited after a short boat ride on the Island and it also has many decent restaurants and hotels along its shores.

From a short distance downstream of the falls, is the first ever stone bridge (Portuguese Bridge) constructed in Ethiopia which was believed to have been built under the command of the legendary Emperor, Susenyos in 1626, serving as a bonus to tourists who visit the Blue Nile Waterfalls.

According to Manuel de Almeida (1580–1646) a native of Viseu, from the Kingdom of Portugal, who entered at an early age into the Society of Jesus, and went out as a missionary to India, Ethiopia and Eritrea particularly in the Lake Tana area in Ethiopia, said stone for making lime had been found nearby along the tributary Alata, and a craftsman who had come from India with Afonso Mendes, the Catholic Patriarch of Ethiopia then supervised the construction of the historic bridge which some call the Portuguese Bridge.

The Blue Nile Falls has an enormous height of 37 to 45 meters or around 150 feet and its width is estimated at about half a mile, making watching the river water drop down the waterfalls truly breathtaking for people who visit the place.

blue_nile_falls-Ethiopia

Reaching the Blue Nile Falls is easy as there are various trips that can be arranged as it is a main tourist spot in Ethiopia. There are many locals that make their income from the benefits of tourism; many are selling food and drinks like calabashes and sodas.

The best of accommodation await any tourist who visits the Blue Nile Falls as there are hotels available at a few kilometers away from the falls.

But remember that if you are planning to visit the Blue Nile Waterfalls, it is recommendable that you wear comfortable clothes as the trail on the way to the falls is quite bumpy and not that comfortable but it will be a tour that will live in your memory forever.

Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa Tourism News


Dreamliner fire closed London Heathrow Airport

July 12, 2013

EAL

Ethiopian Airlines issues a statement about their B787 incident at London Heathrow Airport: Today on Friday, 12 July 2013, smoke was detected from Ethiopian Airlines B787 aircraft with registration number ET-AOP, which was parked at London Heathrow airport for more than eight hours.

The aircraft was empty when the incident was observed.

The cause of the incident is under investigation by all concerned.

Further statement will be issued in due course, as we receive more information.

London’s Heathrow airport closed to flights following a fire involving a Boeing Co. (BA) 787 jet operated by Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, while a second Dreamliner was forced to abandon a trip with technical issues. Shares of the U.S. planemaker had their biggest drop in almost two years.

The aircraft, Boeing’s newest model and beset by battery-related fire incidents that grounded the global fleet earlier this year, was sprayed with fire-retardant foam after the Heathrow event. No one was on board and there were no injuries.

Takeoffs and landings were suspended at Europe’s busiest hub for about an hour while emergency services attended the jet, before flights resumed later with significant delays. The cause of the fire is unknown, Heathrow Ltd. (FER) said on its Twitter feed, with television pictures appearing to show damage on the rear upper fuselage close to the aircraft’s tail.

“We’re aware of the 787 event at Heathrow airport and have Boeing personnel there,” the Chicago-based company said via Twitter, adding that it had sent people to the scene. “We’re working to fully understand and address this.”

Ethiopian Air said the aircraft had been parked at Heathrow for more than eight hours before smoke was detected. “The cause of the incident is under investigation by all concerned,” Henok Teferra, a spokesman for the carrier, said in a text message.


Egypt ministry of tourism releases a surprise statement

July 8, 2013

Egypt Tourist minster

The Ministry of Tourism of the Arab Republic of Egypt is proud to proclaim a new era for Egyptian tourism following the revolution of June 30, 2013.

This statement was received by eTurboNews from Mr. Mohamed Gamal, general manager of the Egyptian Tourist office in Frankfurt, Germany.

Mr. Gamal went on to say:” Every tourist visiting Egypt presently is a most welcomed guest, whose security is safeguarded by the Egyptian people and by the authorities, and all must be assured of their safety and ability to complete their planned visits without disruption. Their families and friends at home should be equally reassured.

Tourists booked to visit Egypt this summer are equally reassured that there is no impediment to their visit. They will come to enjoy Egypt as millions of tourists have done for years and years, in safety and security, welcomed by their friendly and hospitable Egyptian hosts.

Tourism in Egypt is expected to boom as of next fall as the country settles down to its newfound democracy which will bring peace and prosperity to this great country and its united people. Welcome to Egypt!”

Even during the heat of violent protests in Cairo, tourist enjoyed diving and beautiful beaches away from the Capital.

Egyptians however  remain deeply divided about which direction their country should go as supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Hundred thousands went to the street on Sunday. The protests come two days after clashes left 36 people dead and more than 1,000 wounded.

Away from the streets, an attempt to install Mohamed ElBaradei as interim prime minister was quashed after an Islamist group objected to the Nobel laureate. State media and other sources had confirmed the appointment on Saturday, but later in the day the president’s spokesperson walked it back.

The latest statement by the Ministry of Tourism spokesperson in Germany demonstrates how important travel & tourism is for Egypt as an industry. Most likely tourists will continue to enjoy unspoiled beaches, but may have to stay back from Cairo and the Pyramides for some time.

FYI: The U.S. State Department and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have urged citizens to cancel travel plans to or within Egypt, amid ongoing protests and renewed violence in the country.


What do you hate most about eating on planes?

June 27, 2013

Airline-food-Cyprus-Airwa-007

What do you hate most about eating on planes? Is it the soggy sandwiches? The murky liquid that masquerades as coffee?

Or maybe just trying to meet the logistical challenge of eating from a crammed tray without knocking over your drink or flinging your cutlery onto the floor? In a survey in the US, the quality of food ranked surprisingly low among complaints about airline food. The YouGov survey of 1000 travelers found only seven percent buy a meal onboard when travelling on a non-catered airline, but poor-quality food was not the issue.

Limited food options ranked much higher on the complaint scale, along with the cost of what was on offer. Smaller numbers complained that the portion sizes on planes were too small or that there was a lack of healthy options. Personally, I think the worst aspect of airline food, particularly on long international journeys, is the repetition.

The same old salad with strange smoked meat in the corner, the same bread roll, cheese, crackers and chocolate mousse surrounding … oh joy… chicken and rice again.

If it’s not chicken and rice, it’s beef and rice. The food up the front is much more interesting, but less than 20 per cent of passengers are eating that – and even business class passengers get chicken and rice. Having had that rant, I do think we can be rather fussy when it comes to airline food, especially when we’re flying to the other side of the world for under $1500 return.

We love to complain about what we’re served and post dodgy pictures on social media but the logistics of serving hot food to hundreds of passengers, sometimes many hours after take-off, are considerable. And we’ve all seen passengers imbibe their plane fare in ‘free’ alcohol, just because they can.

The editor of airline review website Airreview.com, Jules Lorkin, says catering is a real headache for airlines, as it is expensive to produce, adds weight on aircraft and generates the most complaints. “If you ask passengers who don’t fly regularly how their flight was, the thing that sticks most in minds is often the inflight food,” he says.

Adding to the challenges of serving food at altitude are the complications of serving dozens of different types of meal on one flight, to cover religious beliefs, medical conditions, health fads and general fussiness. Singapore Airlines, for example, now offers more than 30 special meal options; a list that makes fascinating reading.

There are six different types of vegetarian meal – who knew vegies were so complicated? – along with meals that are low fat, low fibre, low lactose, low salt or low calorie.

If you’re anti-carbohydrates, they’ve got you covered. And if you get an ulcer from trying to work out what sort of meal you need, they can handle that too. Cathay Pacific revealed recently it is now serving more than 1.7 million special meals a year. Demand for healthier meals is the biggest factor, with low calorie, low cholesterol and low salt meals in hot demand.

Gluten intolerance is also on the rise, with gluten-free meal requests jumping more than 100 per cent in four years. It’s certainly gotten more complicated, but has there been any improvement in the fare?

In the US study, which only related to short flights, 27 per cent thought airline food had decreased in quality over the past couple of years, while 20 per cent believed it was unchanged and a positive-thinking seven per cent said it had improved. Jules Lorkin believes the most noticeable change is that quantity has been reduced in a bid for better quality.

Airlines that used to serve up full meal trays are now dishing up smaller portions, perhaps with the entrée and dessert cut back but a better hot dish.

Lorkin believes airlines have split into two camps: those that use their food as a sales tactic and those that see it as a necessary evil and constantly chip away at the costs.

“Those carriers which use inflight meals for sales certainly ramp up the celebrity chef element and promise that dining at 30,000 feet will ‘never look so good’,” he says.

“However, it is hard to believe that celebrity chefs like Luke Mangan, Heston Blumenthal or Neil Perry have seen what our meal trays actually look like down the back of the plane.”

Best of a bad lot?

It’s hard not to eat out of boredom when you’re strapped into a seat, so nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin recommends ordering a low calorie meal. Eating high-fibre foods is the most important factor in avoiding digestive ails caused by sitting still, along with staying well hydrated, she says. Bingley-Pullin, of Nutritional Edge in Sydney, tells her clients to drink two litres of water before getting on the plane and to keep drinking (water, that is) throughout the flight.

Source: smh.com.au

%d bloggers like this: