Archive for October, 2009

Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel to Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro

By TEA CORRESPONDENT

Singer Justin Timberlake and actress Jessica Biel have signed on to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in January 2010. They will be accompanied by rapper Lupe Fiasco and actress Isabel Lucas who are all going with the “Summit on the Summit” expedition a brain child of Ethiopian born singer Kenna.

“I have been training four times a week to get my VO2 (oxygen consumption) levels up to expand my lungs,” Justin told GQ.

In a statement about her decision to climb the more than 19,000 feet mountain to the peak, Biel said, “This is a basic human necessity that needs to be addressed now”.

For Kenna whose father suffered from water borne diseases in Ethiopia as a child, the effort to bring awareness to a world wide danger is something that hits very close to home. “My dad almost died as a child from water borne diseases in Ethiopia and he had talked to me about digging a well there and I thought, ‘I have too many friends who would be concerned with the subject of clean water. May be I can help out,’ “Kenna told ELLE magazine in a recent interview.

The climb will also help raise funds for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Play Pumps International and the Children’s safe drinking water programme.

New Vessels for Kalangala

By TEA Reporter,

KALANGALA district in Uganda made up of several scattered islands is to acquire two new ferries by June 2010, Deo Nsereko, the resident district commissioner, has said.

Currently, there is only one ferry – MV Kalangala, operating the Kampala-Kalangala islands route.

“The two new, ‘modern and reliable’ ferries will work concurrently with MV Kalangala at the Nakiwogo landing site,” Nsereko added.

He said the ferries would help islanders, to ease the hardships over transport.

“Recently, when MV Kalangala was not working, the movement of people and goods was affected,” noted. MV Kalangala had gone for periodic mandatory docking inspection in Mwanza, Tanzania.

The vessel underwent minor repairs and resumed operations last month.

“The Ugandan ministry of Transport & Works is committed to maintaining effective transport services in the country,” Susan Kataike, the works ministry spokesperson, said recently.

New Planes For East African Civil Aviation Academy

By TEA Reporter,

THE Government is to buy six new aircrafts for the East African Civil Aviation Academy - that is commonly referred to as Soroti Flying School.

Edith Mwanje, the East African Community affairs ministry permanent secretary, said this during a regional workshop for central Uganda leaders at Hotel Africana in Kampala last week.

She said the procurement of the new planes would be done under a three-year capital development project designed by the Government to rehabilitate the academy.

The six computerised single-engine planes would cost sh4b. The first batch of the aircrafts arrives this financial year, she added.

The single engine Cessna 172 aircraft has modern aviation technology. Which, Mwanje said, would equip and acquaint the pilot students with the required aviation skills.

The school has 58 privately sponsored students using the old Cessna aircraft manufactured in the early 1960s.

The academy was built as a training school for the British Overseas Airways Corporation to train British pilots in tropical flying techniques. It was later used by the East African Flying Academy to train pilots from the former community.

“Since the collapse of the East African community in 1977, this school has been neglected. However, with its revival, plans are under way to renovate it at a cost of US$900,000 (about Ush 1.73b),” Mwanje added.

The project also includes renovation of the old buildings and acquisition of new computers.

$3m Grant from US to Save Lake Victoria and Mara River Basins

By Trek East Africa Correspondent

Nairobi, Kenya

A three year funding agreement between the East African Community and the United States Agency for International Development is expected to ensure that the Mara River Basin is properly managed so as to avoid environmental degradation. The Mara River Basin eco system is considered a new wonder of the world.

Under the agreement signed two weeks ago, East Africa Community’s Lake Victoria Basin Commission is expected to implement the Mara River Basins 2009 Bio diversity Action Plan that was recently adopted by the EAC Ministers.

Aimed at addressing threats to bio diversity hotspots in the Mara River Basin, the projects implementation will involve Kenya and Tanzania government agencies where the $3 million grant will be provided under US Aid Africa’s Tran boundary Water for Diversity.

The Mara basin water shed extends from Kenya to northern Tanzania covering areas of Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Serengeti National Park and also makes up part of the eastern rim of the Lake Victoria basin.

This eco systems survival depends on the flow of the Mara River. With less water flowing in the Mara, there is a possibility of less water to drink for wildlife and this could easily lead to human wildlife conflicts.

Rotich, the Deputy Secretary General in charge of Finance and Administration at the East African Community emphasized the importance of the Mara River Basin eco system. He said the intervention on the Mara River Basin was timely, since environmental issues in particular global climate change are affecting all people.

“You don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to convince people about the environmental devastation that is being experienced. Rains are failing, rivers are drying up or getting polluted. We have all contributed to environmental degradation. And now we must do something about it”, he added.

Lake Victoria Basin Commission was established in 2005 as a specialized institution of the East African Community responsible for coordination of activities aimed at sustainable development of the basin.

BAKONZO – BAMBA CELEBRATE BIRTH OF RWENZURURU PRINCE

By John B. Nzinjah

A prince has been born to Iremangoma Charles Wesley Mumbere, the cultural head of the Uganda Rwenzururu kingdom.
The news was the talk of Kasese town, with local FM radio stations receiving numerous calls congratulating the Omusinga and the Queen.

The kingdom spokesperson, Godfrey Kabyanga, yesterday said: “The Omusinga was present at Kampala International Hospital when the prince was delivered on Wednesday. The queen, Agnes Ithungo and the baby are in good health.”

Many people said this was a double blessing since it comes ahead of the coronation celebrations on October 19.

The Bamba-Bakonzo king will also mark his 43rd anniversary since he took over the Rwenzururu Kingdom after the death of his farther, Isaya Mukirania Kibanzanga.

Kibanzanga was among the Bamba fighters who led a rebellion against the Toro kingdom, demanding independence in 1962.

Single Tourist Visa for East Africa

By Arthur Baguma

The East African Community plans to start a single tourist visa for the region. The member states are discussing a protocol to create and market the region as a single tourist destination. Member states have started to coordinate their policies in the tourism industry and were establishing a frame work that would ensure equitable distribution of resources. In addition the partner states are establishing a common code of conduct for private and public tour and travel operators, standardized hotel classification and professional standards of agents in the industry.

A collective policy for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wildlife and other tourist sites in the region is also in pipeline.

“They include harmonizing policies for the conservation of wildlife within and outside protected areas, exchanging information and adopting common policies on wildlife management and development, coordinating efforts in controlling and monitoring encroachment and poaching activities,” information at the EAC states. The policy encourages joint use of training and research facilities and developing common management plans for trans-border protected areas.

These developments are good news to East Africa tourism potential. From some of the world’s finest beaches to unique wildlife sanctuaries East Africa is a tourism hub. In Uganda the unique wildlife sanctuaries East Africa is a tourism hub. In Uganda the unique Bwindi National Park home to some 340 mountain gorillas, the Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Park are also preferred sites for tourists. In Kenya, the magnificent Maasai Mara reserve, among 48 wildlife parks and reserves, including the amazing Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks attract tourists both local and international. In Tanzania, the world famous Ngorongoro crater, the breath taking spectacular Serengeti plains, wildlife conservation areas and Mt. Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest mountain are just the tip of the ice berg of what Tanzania can offer tourists.

Apart from the scenic attractions, East Africa has a lot more to offer. Hotel and beach tourism is at its peak. The region offers a large number of historical sites spread through the region. It boasts of interesting traditional culture, the Makonde sculptures and Akamba wood crafts as well as the Uganda Kingdoms, cultures and tradition. The Olduvai Gorge in the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania is the site of discoveries of the traces of early humanity.

There is, however potential for development, expansion and promotion of East African tourism, taking into account on going development of tourism and other potential of the lake Victoria basin. The world’s second largest fresh water body is shared by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

The number of tourists to the East African region increased significantly between 1995 and 2002.In Tanzania the number increased from 285,000 to 550,000 while in Uganda it increased from 160,000 to 254,000. In Kenya there was a slight decline from 896,000 to 838,000 but the figures rose to one million in 2003.

Currently the three countries attract more than two million tourists. The figures indicate a vibrant trend of the tourist sector in East Africa. With joint promotion of the industry, tourist visits in East Africa are expected to double in the near future. In 2005, the East African Community countries launched the plan for joint tourism and wildlife development including joint marketing and promotion of East Africa as a single tourist destination.

Starting with the Internationale Tourismus Borse (ITB), Berlin 2006, the tourist boards of East African countries participate in international trade fairs under one roof, the East African Village exhibition area. On going activities aim at developing both short and long term measures in the joint promotion and marketing of East Africa as a single tourist destination.

The plan and strategy for joint development and promotion of tourism envisages steady growth due to stable political and peaceful conditions prevailing in the region coupled with modernization of infrastructure, transport and communications facilities and links to all parts of the world by major world air lines and ocean cruises.

TOURISM: RWANDA’S MAJOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE EARNER

By George Kalisa

Rwanda’s experience shows that the road to total liberation of the people has neither been straight nor smooth. Faced with the challenge of improving the lives of Rwandans in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, President Paul Kagame has met barriers ranging from political to economic ones, a high ranking government official has said. The international perception of the country was a major hold up to efforts to the liberation of the Rwandans from all forces that denied them human dignity. The world knew Rwanda for the genocide.

However Kagame and his government have triumphed over a sea of problems and Rwandans are already reaping the fruits of Kagame’s vision says Rosette Rugamba, the deputy chief executive officer of Rwanda Development Board in charge of Tourism and conservation.

The enterprising President looked at tourism as a potential sector in reconstructing the economy hence the re launch of the industry in 2003 on two definitive fronts – domestic and international tourism.

Domestic tourism focused on creating a culture of appreciation of the intrinsic value of and benefit of the sector to the economy while international tourism positioned Rwanda as a high end destination that put conservation and the environment first.

Rugamba adds that the security and stability in the country spur growing investment in the sector.

“The journey of the tourism sector in Rwanda started with the vision of our President six years ago. We are now harvesting six years of solid investment in destination tourism positioning, continuous improvements in the product backed by unwavering government support. With out doubt, the peace and security we enjoy in this country have been enabling factors,” Rugamba said.

Rugamba says although they have achieved many successes, Rwanda has not yet realized its dream tourism industry, adding that more innovations are needed.

“While we celebrate where we are today, we all believe that we still have a long way to go. The year on year growth is testimony that we are doing something right as a nation, “Rugamba said in an interview.

In 2003, only 16,000 visitors went to Rwanda compared to 980,577 in 2008. By June 2009, 440,000 visitors had been to the country. The increase in the number of visitors has meant increase in revenue and expansion of tourism infrastructure and tour operator agencies over the years.

Revenue upped from $8m in 2003 to $209m in 2008, while hotel rooms increased from 650 to 4,256.

Currently, Rwanda boasts of 189 hotels compared to just 30 in 2003. Besides being the number one foreign exchange earner for three consecutive years, the sectors competitive performance globally has improved ten fold the country’s image.

For the third time Rwanda was this year voted best African exhibitor at ITB Berlin, the worlds largest tourism trade fair. It was also voted among the “Top 10” tourism destinations in the world by Lonely Planet (2009), a travel guide in the United Kingdom. Early this year, Rwanda mountain gorilla trekking was ranked among the top green travel experiences in the world by the latest Rough Guide’s publication, 500 New Ways to see the World.

Rwanda’s gorilla experience was also listed in the publication Unforgettable journeys you must take before you die by Steve Watkins and Clare Jones as one of the 50 things you must do before you die.

The influx of international celebrities into the country is evident of growing tourism. These include; Jack Hanna (world’s conservation icon), CNN founder, Ted Turner and Catherine Crier.

Gorilla naming ceremony: it is one of the sector’s land mark innovations and one of the most recognized conservation events on the world tourism calendar.

Kwita Izina, as the gorilla naming ceremony is locally referred to, was launched in 2005 by Kagame. A total of 105 baby gorillas have been named since Kwita Izina ceremonies started. The annual ceremony has attracted high profile people locally and internationally, including Hollywood celebrities and world renowned conservationists. Kwita Izina is a celebration of successes in protecting the mountain gorilla and the environment it lives in.

Over $2m has been raised through the event and has been spent on supporting the communities that live outside the mountains of the Virungas.

Rugamba says Rwanda expects tourism revenues to hit $278m by 2012, adding that in the offing is a 10 year master plan, an initiation that will take the sector to greater heights.

New Products
: Central to Rwanda’s tourism strategy has been the development of new diverse products. They include avi tourism, Nyungwe National Park, Akagera Savannah Park and conference tourism.

In 2008, we launched the birding product (avi tourism) at the birding fair in UK, says Rugamba. Rwanda hosts over 700 bird species of which 44 are endemic to Rwanda. It is anticipated that birding will contribute 10% to Rwanda’s tourism receipts by 2010. The Nyungwe forest trails are offering nature hikes and an opportunity to see over 13 primate species, including chimpanzees.

By the end of the year, two lodges will be opened in Nyungwe and the canopy walk will be launched in the heart of the forest, the first of its kind in Eastern Africa.

The government is currently restocking and up grading accommodation facilities in Akagera National Park.

Rugamba discloses that a 20 seat leisure boat will be commissioned on Lake Kivu in October. The boat will enable tourists to visit islands on the lake.

Commenting on conference tourism, Rugamba said; “Our fastest growing product has to be conference tourism. Rwanda has become a much sought after destination for multi sectral, regional, continental and international conferences. In the first half of 2009, 189,857 (43%) of the visitors who came to Rwanda came for business purposes. In 2010, we hope to have set up a convention bureau to manage and coordinate conferences”.

Rugamba added, “With Rwanda becoming part of East Africa, we shall continue to work on promoting East Africa as a single destination and working on fast tracking of the East Africa single visa. The East Africa standards are already in place and Rwanda has started preparing the hotels for classification”.