Archive for the ‘Visas’ Category

Tanzania uses diplomats to promote Tourism

Tanzania has organised a trip for foreign envoys to various regions as a way of promoting the country’s tourism.

The trip has been packaged as part of the activities to mark the East African state’s 50th independence anniversary.

Officials hope that the envoys would help disseminate information about Tanzania’s main tourist attractions.

The diplomats have already visited Butiama village in Mara region, the birth place of the first president, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, as well as Zanzibar and Olduvai Gorge, where they saw Laetoli footprints.

The Laetoli footprints, in the Olduvai Gorge in the Great Rift Valley, were excavated by Louis and Mary Leakey in the mid-1950s.

The group of sites, is about 10.5km long and 350 feet deep and has evidence of almost 2 million years of occupation.

Sites at Olduvai are primarily stream and lake-side occupations, where stone working occurred.

Tanzania’s minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Bernard Membe, says the diplomats’ trip was aimed at exposing them to the beauty of Tanzania.

“As we mark our 50 years of independence, we have opted to show diplomats the beauty of our country… they have also visited burial places of our founding father in Butiama and Zanzibar,” Mr Membe said.

Gorilla Tracking charges lowered

The Uganda Wild life Authority (UWA) has slashed fees for Uganda gorilla tracking permits by about 60% to both locals and foreigners.

UWA executive director, Dr. Andrew Seguya, announced on Tuesday in Kampala that the fee for East Africans – Ugandan trackers inclusive will be Ush.100,000/= from Ush 250,000, US$250 from US$475 for Foreign Residents and US$350 from US$500 for Foreign Non residents.

These promotional rates are applicable only for the low months of March, April, May, October and November. For the peak months rates will remain Ush 250,000, US$475 and US$500 respectively.

This, he explained is meant to attract more tourists to Bwindi impenetrable forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and other tourism sites in the country. It is now on record that Gorilla trekking provides over 50% of tourism revenue for Uganda.

From a recent census, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park now has a total of about 32 gorilla groups. Of the 32 groups, nine are habituated of which eight are utilized for tourism while one is used for research. The total number of gorillas in Bwindi is about 340 which is almost over half of the estimated 720 Mountain gorillas in the world.

The census found that the percentage proportion of groups with several males (multimale) fell from 45% in the 1997 and 2002 censuses to 23% in the 2006 census.

According to an UWA press statement; this represents a normal fluctuation in the dynamics of gorilla groups. Because of the increase in the gorilla population, UWA has started a habituation process for two more groups in abid to boost Tourism revenue and satisfy the increasing public demand for gorilla tracking.

According to the researchers- “overall, the Uganda gorilla population has been increasing at an approximate annual growth rate of 1%, which is indicative of a healthy and well protected population”.

Reports also indicate that, in 2008, tourism earned Uganda $590m with 84,300 visitors. The tourism sector employs over 70,000 people directly while 300,000 people are employed indirectly in activities like handcraft.

According to the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), tourist arrivals continue to increase thus have led to recent increases in forex earnings from $590m in 2008 to about US$650 m in 2010.

Kenyan Game Park threatened by Construction

NAIROBI-A construction boom risks destroying a game park on the Kenyan capital’s edge, where lions hunt in the shadows of skyscrapers, a wildlife official said.

Nairobi has a population of about three million people but that is expected to surge to eight million within two decades, fuelling demand for housing and commercial property.

Analysts say sky-high land prices in the capital are forcing Kenya’s middleclass to seek affordable plots on the outskirts.

Julius Kipng’etich, the managing director of the state-run Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), says human settlement expansion and growth in industries pose a threat to Kenya’s oldest national park next to the city.

Tourism is Kenya’s number two foreign exchange earner after tea, while construction was the fastest growing sector in east Africa’s biggest economy in 2010. The economy is projected to grow by 5.7% this year, from 5.2% in 2010.

“The upswing of the economy brings its own challenges, such as human settlements encroaching on protected areas. So the encroachment of the park comes from high class settlements and the slums that follow them,” Kipng’etich said.

Hundreds of acres around the park are mainly owned by nomadic Maasai, who sub-divide and sell land to outsiders eager to build, he said, as a family of warthogs roamed outside the KWS headquarters. The occasional spine-chilling roar from the park’s lions could be heard.

Established in 1946, the Nairobi National Park provides a chance for visitors to experience a safari game drive and view Kenya’s famed wildlife between meetings, Kipng’etich said.

Reuters

Rwanda generates $56million in first quarter of 2011 from Tourism

The tourism industry amassed US$56 million (Rwf33 billion) in revenues in the first quarter of 2011, from US$43 million during the same period last year, indicating a successful start for the year.

During the same period, 201,088 visitors have visited the country representing a 32 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

John Gara, The CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), attributed the increase to the diversification of Rwanda’s tourism products. The introduction of new products, particularly the 150 meters high canopy walkway in Nyungwe, is projected to attract at least 13,000 visitors this year.

“Due to the canopy walk, Nyungwe National Park activities almost doubled with an 89 percent increase in the first quarter of 2011,” Gara said, Thursday, during a press conference.

He added that in order to reduce human-wildlife conflicts in national parks, the Parliament and Senate voted in the compensation law to fence Akagera Park and contain wildlife within park boundaries and also compensate evicted families.

Gara said, “There was a 35 % increase in park activities registered in the three national parks,” He also noted that, “park activities in Akagera and Volcanoes parks increased by 20% and 39% respectively.”

He expressed optimism over the forthcoming Kwita Izina function scheduled for 18th June, which is a gorilla naming public event expected to massively boost the tourism sector, as well as attract several international celebrities.

“Kwita Izina will be held under the theme “Community development for sustained conservation” and will see 22 baby gorillas given named in a colorful event at Musanze. This is one of the major events in the tourism calendar, which we are all optimistic about,” Gara added.

As part of the country’s long term tourism master plan, Rwanda Development Board is to launch three birding routes outside the national parks.

Tanzania Tourist Numbers Decline

By TEA Correpondent

Tanzania is likely to miss out on millions of dollars usually expected from the tourism industry following the decline of international tourists’ arrivals which is due to the global financial crisis. According to the UN World Tourism Organization, Tanzania suffered a 10 percent decline in foreign tourist arrivals in its wildlife-rich national parks in the first ten months of 2009.

The WTO’s 2009 comprehensive report shows that the country had received about 576,643 travelers, down from 641,951 international tourists in 2008. The UN body goes on to note that the negative trends in international tourism surfaced in the second half of 2008 and intensified in 2009 due to the global economic downturn.

As a result, Tanzania, East Africa‘s second largest economy after Kenya, is currently struggling to promote domestic tourism in a bid to fill the gap in foreign tourism. Mr. Ibrahim Mussa, Assistant Director Research, Training and Statistics in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism observed that government had opted to concentrate on domestic tourism due to its potential.

“We have decided to increase efforts to woo domestic tourists as a counter to the effects of the global financial crisis because we found that it is paying off,” said Mr. Mussa. He added that findings revealed that an endeavor to pursue local tourists is paying off with a 19.3% increase in activity.

Mr. Donatius Kamamba, Director of Antiquities in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, said that a preliminary analysis conducted by his Ministry, shows that the number of visitors coming to the country for leisure had dropped due to the consequences of the financial crisis.

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.

The Shoe Bill: Africa’s most saught after bird

By Geoffrey Baluku

Uganda is more than just Gorillas. With 23 years of dramatic tourism growth Uganda has now been voted the number one birding destination in Africa. Travelers to Africa have unanimously consented that Uganda not only has a great diversity of wildlife but also a profusion of bird species.

Sir Fredrick Jackson, a former Governor of the Uganda protectorate and keen ornithologist once described Uganda as a “hidden Eden….and a wonderland for birds”.

He was right as no other area in Africa can match Uganda’s amazing diversity of habitats and this richness is reflected in the available 1056 bird species that include the rare shoebill stork – arguably one of the world’s most sought after birds.

Also known as Balaeniceps rex translated as “King Whale head“; the shoe bill is remarkably a striking bird with certain pre-historic looks. It is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves and order Ciconiiformes.

The shoe bill has a large head and unusually long and wide colored bill, which ends in a hooked tip. Standing at 1.5 m in height and sharing attributes with both herons and storks, shoe bills with broad wings, long legs and unwebbed feet live alone in widely spaced pairs.

Some of the places known for viewing of this rare bird specie include Mabamba swamp on the shores of Lake Victoria, the banks of the Nile River in Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Kikorongo in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Kyoga and the southern fringe of Lake Albert that adjoins with the Semliki wildlife reserve.

Their stealthy movements over rafts of floating vegetation, enable them to get hold of prey that include lung fish, water snakes and small crocodiles.

Partially nocturnal and sluggish, the shoe bill obtains its diet by probing the mud with its boot like bill. They also fly with their heads and necks folded back.

As the breeding season approaches usually in the months of April to June, the male and female start engaging in a bill clacking courtship prior to mating and putting up a nest of broken reeds and other aquatic vegetation.

Two eggs are usually laid with both the female and male taking turns incubating them for a period that takes about a month. Two silvery brown chicks are hatched – and do remain helpless for some time. The young birds are dependant on the skilful hunting of their parents.

This goes on for about four months – till the young bills are properly developed. Shoe bills life span usually ranges between forty and forty -five years. Approximately 1000 shoe bills are still believed to survive in different parts of Uganda.

With increasing human population characterized by continued habitat destruction and encroachment the survival of the shoe bill stork is paramount considering the increasing number of dedicated ornithologists as well as the novice bird watcher to Uganda who are coming in big numbers to get a glimpse of this rare bird.

Mount Rwenzori: Africa’s highest Mountain Range

TEA & Agencies

Awe-inspiring is perhaps an understatement when describing the beauty of this world-class hiking and mountaineering destination: the Rwenzoris. Described by one enthralled visitor as Heaven’s Garden, it is as though the gods had hidden this profusion of colour up in the clouds so that only those who dare might reach up and share its secrets. No wonder the mountain range is described as the Mountains of the Moon, even by ancient Hindu scriptures.

Mount Rwenzori can be reached from Kampala either by air or road. From Kampala, the park can be approached from the south via Mbarara or the north passing through Fort Portal. By air the park is served by Kasese airfield.

These legendary snow-capped mountains were declared a forest reserve in 1941. The reserve is a catchment area giving rise to numerous streams that supply water to the surrounding communities as well as maintaining the flow of water to lakes Edward, George and Albert. Rwenzori Forest Reserve was gazetted as a national park in 1991 and declared a world heritage site in 1995.

The Rwenzori mountains have a range covering an area of 996 square kilometers, lying 4° north of the Equator. The mountain range has six peaks that stretch from Mt. Stanley with Alexandria and Margherita (Africa’s third highest mountain at 5109 metres above sea level), Mt. Speke - Vittorio Emmanuele (4889m), Mt. Baker (4843m), Mt. Gessi (4797m), Mt. Emin (4791m) and Mt. Luigi de Savoia (4626m).

Mt. Rwenzori is renowned for its non-engineered, steep and slippery trails and frequent rain. High altitude, rain, cold temperatures, mud, bogs and steep terrain make it the most challenging range in Africa. Hiking the mountain commences with the hiring of equipment followed by briefing from the guides. At 1,646m departure from the park headquarters starts with a client walking past Bakonzo homesteads. On reaching the Makoma River, you cross via a very steep climb through open bracken fern slopes and podocarpus forest up to Nyabitaba Hut at 2,652m, which is the arrival point for the day. This walk usually takes five to six hours.

The following day involves heading westwards for half a kilometer then dropping north steeply to Kurf Shafer Bridge. One can choose to overnight at Nyamileju or continue to John Matte Hut. From John Matte you cross the Bujuku River from where you will enter the lower two Bigo Bogs and this is the place where your first real experience of jumping from tussock to tussock in a grassy bog begins.

The trail in this area is usually muddy to the south until the Bigo Hut which is an ideal spot for parties climbing Mt. Speke with overnight usually at Bujuku Hut (3,962m). From Bujuku Hut the circuit is continued on new trails, which rise and fall twice before finally climbing steeply through magical moss-draped Groundsel Gully towards Scott Eliot Pass (4,372m). The trek continues to Elena Hut (4,372m) which is the camp prior to climbing Margherita Peak (5,109m).

It is advisable that descent towards Kitandara should never be delayed. Here you will find massive rock walls and craters at the base of Mt. Baker. You then proceed via Upper Kitandara Lake through bad mud to the lower lake and Kitandara Hut where you can spend the night.

It is from this point that treks to Mount Baker or Mount Luigi di Savoia and Vittorio Sella can be arranged.

To avoid overheating on the steep long climb from the lake to Fresh Field Pass (4,282m), it is advisable that the descent starts early. From here one can descend through Kabamba onto the park headquarters at Nyakalengija.

Generally the trek is an excellent destination for keen hikers and climbers. The best time of the year for hiking is during the dry seasons from July/August and December to February. However, it is still possible to trek in other months. The fauna of this park is a checklist of 70 mammal species and 182 birds. The Rwenzori Colobus Monkey, L’Hoesti’s Monkey, Chimpanzee, Blue Monkey, Rock Hyrax, Red Forest, Black-fronted Duiker, Elephant, Leopard and the three-horned Chameleon are some of the wildlife that can be spotted.

A variety of accommodation caters for all budgets while in Kasese town and these include Rwenzori Base Camp in Ibanda, Hotel Margherita and Rwenzori International Hotel.

Why Uganda?

By Geoffrey Baluku

Uganda is a land locked country located astride the equator. With an area of 236, 580 sq. km, Uganda is bordered by Sudan in the north, Kenya to the east, Tanzania and Rwanda in the South while the Democratic Republic of Congo is toMountain Rwenzori the west. It is a country blessed with varied and spectacular scenery to fill one action packed holiday and still leave scores of other experiences to be enjoyed on a return trip.

From the snow capped Rwenzori Mountains through the virgin rolling hills of the eland to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, from Lake Victoria down the mighty Nile River to Murchison falls National Park, the country Uganda contains immense natural and cultural wealth.

It is in Uganda that over 50% of the worlds endangered Gorillas are still preserved; it is the same place where the mighty Nile starts its long journey to the Mediterranean Sea.

Mountain GorillaUganda is undoubtedly renowned for its Mountain gorillas. However, the country is more than just gorillas! For magnificence, the cheetah and Ostrich in Kidepo National Park, the Giraffes and Crocodiles in Murchison falls, Zebras and Eland in Lake Mburo National Park, are a must see. The launch cruise along Kazinga channel and the Nile River famed for their close view of hippos, birds and crocodiles not forgetting the tree climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park are all true rewards to the discerning traveler.

But the magic of safari isn’t all this great country has to offer. For the more intrepid adventures bungee jumping and a climb to the snow capped legendary mountains of the moon – Mt. Rwenzori are a must for the daring. Other interesting offers include chimpanzee tracking, birding, fishing, Kayaking and the friendly people that complete the true story of Uganda.

Cultural tourism is also a popular choice for many visitors to Uganda. History buffs will find Uganda’s story an interesting one and will delight in exploring the relics of Uganda’s unique Kingdoms.

GiraffeFrom the friendly people, day hikes on the Virunga and Mt. Elgon, rafting on the Nile, discovering the dramatic lakes and launch cruises, Uganda truly is gifted with a wide choice of activities.

Characterized by 23 years of dramatic tourism growth, Uganda’s GDP is now at 6.5% with a budget that is 70% self sufficient. A big portion of the country’s land mass is dedicated to wildlife parks, thereby keeping Uganda on track as it preserves endangered and great wildlife and bird species.

With a diverse mixture of traditional tribes and cosmopolitan professionals Uganda is the place to go.

So welcome to Uganda – experience the warmth of our people and spectacular wildlife.

More Tourists in 2008, though a decline is evident in 2009

TEA Agencies,

Kampala, Uganda

 A total of 844,000 foreigners visited Uganda in 2008, representing a 32% increase over 2007. As a key contributor to Uganda’s GDP tourism accounted for 3.7% of the total. Despite this increase, it is clear that Uganda’s tourism industry is now facing difficult times as a result of the financial melt down.

The tourism industry is especially vulnerable to financial slow downs with consumers spending less on travel products and experiences in the short and medium terms. Expenditure on accommodation and

Gorilla Permits, Uganda’s trump card has decreased drastically as visitors choose more affordable safari options.

There was growing optimism that Uganda would soon achieve the 1 million foreign visitor mark by 2012. However, with the current economic melt down experienced globally and domestically, the effect on Uganda’s tourism industry is likely to be worse.

The unstable fuel costs and fluctuating dollar rate means that long-haul tourism is on the decline, particularly for middle income tourists. This has already had an effect on Uganda’s tourism industry.

As long haul travel becomes increasingly unaffordable, the integration of the East African region is now paramount for the region to achieve its tourism targets. However, reasonable controls such as some degree of protection for the Ugandan tour operators should be taken into consideration as we go into the final stages of the East African re integration.

The drop in visitors from all major source markets including UK and USA is now evident. According to research firm Trip Advisor, 58% of UK consumers are likely to or have already been influenced by the economic down town when it comes to choosing a holiday this year.

Tour operators in Uganda must now guard, at all costs, against pricing itself out of the global market as this destination now competes, on affordability levels, with Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.

With the deepening of the global financial crisis and economic slowdown, there is a rise of new challenges ranging from safari cancellations to souring inflation rates now believed to have settled at 14.8%.

These challenges thus call for a cash injection so as to help in facilitating tourism research, marketing and work force issues for the better of Uganda’s Tourism industry.