Travel News for Africa
- Ecology Activists Oppose plan to build Railway through Serengeti National Park
- Finnair Resumes Direct Flights to Mombasa
- Tanzania Tour Operators urge Govt to Form Tourist Police Unit
- Poachers kill 23 Rhinos in Zimbabwe
- Rwanda Launches new Tourism Trail
- Turkish Television Travel Show Crew visit Uganda
- African Tourists to Rwanda Increase
- 200 people to climb Kilimanjaro to mark Tanzania Independence
- Air France to Fly Direct to Cape Town South Africa
- Zambia Tourism Board Targets One Million Tourists
The Opulent Hotel Group that recently acquired 10 acres of the delayed Kigali amusement park land worth US$1.2 million announced plans to build a Hilton brand Hotel in the country.
Hilton Hotels Corporation is a global hospitality company, with more than 3,500 hotels in 81 countries and more than 130,000 team members worldwide.
Hotel rooms in Rwanda grew from 651 rooms in 2001 to 4,225 rooms in 2009. Visitors are expected to rise from 689,000 last year to 750,000 this year generating $175 million and $187 million respectively.
The announcement by the Opulent Group comes after another hotel group, the Belgium based Rezidor Hotel Group announced it was set to enter the Rwanda hospitality sector through the Radisson Blu Hotel and Kigali Convention Centre.
The Group is one of the fastest growing hotel groups worldwide. The Radisson Blu Hotel with 292 rooms is scheduled to open in 2012.
The adjacent convention centre will have a net floor area of 32,000 square meters, which includes a multipurpose arena with a capacity of up to 2,600 delegates, 7 sub-divisible conference rooms and 10 smaller meeting rooms.
Another Hotel Group, the Marriot Hotels International, an American hotel chain at the end of last year entered into a management contract with New Century Development (NCD). NCD, a Chinese company and its Rwandan partners are constructing a $60 million five star hotel in Kigali. Marriot Hotels will manage the 242 rooms New Century Hotel for a period of 30 years. The rooms range from deluxe to presidential suits.
According to the chief executive officer of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Mr. John Gara, Rwanda is increasingly attracting tourists and visitors, leading to high demand for quality hotel accommodation.
Most visitors on a Rwanda safari come to track the endangered mountain gorillas on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains within the Parc National des Volcans. Other activities besides gorilla tracking include wildlife safaris, cultural tours, birding and genocide memorial site tours.
Tourism in Rwanda will get a major boost after the country was named among the top five “Emerging Destinations” during the 2011 Wanderlust Travel Awards after a ranking based on a worldwide online poll conducted by British travel magazine, Wanderlust.
Following the annual poll that attracted votes from over 2,000 readers of the magazine, Rwanda was the only African country listed among the top five.
The contest was topped by Burma/Myanmar with 97.14%, Rwanda came as the top African destination in 5th position with 93.68%, ahead of Ghana, which was ranked 6th with 93.33%, Malawi in 8th with 89.33 and Libya in 9th position with 88.57%.
The magazine noted that despite Rwanda’s bitter history, the country is “firmly back on the travel map.”
The news was welcomed by Rwanda Development Board, whose head of the Tourism department, Rica Rwigamba, said the rankings will enhance curiosity about the country’s tourism products.
She added that the readers of Wonderlust are among the targeted tourists.
“The people who read Wonderlust are high-end tourists who are within our target market.” Rwigamba noted.
Former Chairperson of Rwanda Tour and Travel Agency (RTTA) John Kayihura also appreciated the rankings.
“To me, the news is not surprising because Rwanda treats its visitors very well. On top of that, we have a rich history and a variety of tourism sites ranging from the beautiful hills, 23 lakes, gigantic rainforests and many animals, particularly the mountain gorillas” Kayihura said.
“We are currently discussing ways to diversify the sector by tapping all the tourism resources in the country, so that we can generate as much revenue as we can from this profitable trade.” He added.
According to Rwanda Development Board (RDB) statistics, tourism receipts leaped to $ 200 million (Rwf118.4billion) in 2010, up 14 percent from 2009, with 666,000 tourists visiting the country last year.
Most of the government hotels managed by the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation (KTDC) have been run down over the years and continue to struggle financially, prompting the government to restructure them through sale to investors.
Kenya plans to sell its stake in 11 hotels, among them the Intercontinental and Hilton Hotels, some of Kenya’s most profitable hotels and part of Nairobi’s architectural landmarks through strategic partnerships or share issues.
Investors in East Africa are keen on a fresh opportunity to invest millions of dollars in the privatisation of these fine Kenya hotels in the coming months, as the country seeks to reduce its ballooning domestic debt.
News of impending sale of the hotels is said to have excited the market and enquiries from major hospitality management companies and private investors are keen to cash in on Kenya’s attractiveness as a major tour destination.
Foreign and domestic investors have deepened their presence in the hospitality industry with the construction of several hotels.
A number of lodges have also been built in the national parks and game reserves.
The sale is part of a larger privatisation plan that will affect at least 26 enterprises the government is seeking to divest in a Ksh8 billion ($102.7 million) round.
The proposal to dispose of the ownership to investors was approved by Cabinet last year. The government is now said to be finalising the plans.
In the divestiture plan, hotels up for grab include Ark Ltd, Golf Hotel, International Hotels which owns Hilton Hotel, Kabarnet Hotel, Kenya Hotels Properties, Mountain Lodge, Mt. Elgon Lodge, and Sunset Hotel will be up for grabs.
The plan is also hoped to help the country spruce up its tourism sector, which is one of its leading hard currency earner.
A Kenya safari includes the following activities; Big Five Safaris in Safari Parks like Masai Mara, Wildebeest Migration Safaris, Mountain Trekking Tours, Beach Holidays, Camping Safaris, bird watching safaris as well as Special Interest Vacations in Kenya.
Thousands of Kenyans every year board a plane to visit some of the religious sites in Egypt and Israel as part of understanding of the Christian faith.
However, the pilgrimage is under threat this year due to the ongoing protests in the land of Canaan.
Tour operators are now rethinking visits organised early this year as they watch demonstrators take to the streets and reports of tourists fleeing the country emerge.
Travellers had initially paid their fees from as early as November 2010 for the pilgrimage.
By selling packages in groups, the prices are lower due to the numbers and shared costs.
“The demand is overwhelming, sometimes we have to do an extra group trip to accommodate the demand,” said Ms Kirimi who has been organising the religious tours since 2009, but individual trips to Egypt since 2004.
The ongoing protests in Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, have seen other international tour operators and airlines cancel trips to the country with some governments advising their citizens against travelling to the country unless it is important.
The revolution protests have hit countries like Tunisia then Egypt with similar chaos witnessed in Saana in Yemen, demonstrations that have forced tourists to cancel trips too.
Egypt relies heavily on the tourism sector to drive economic growth.
Tourism is one of Egypt’s top sources of foreign revenue, accounting for more than 11 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), and offers jobs in a country with high unemployment.
In 2009, about 12.5 million tourists visited Egypt, bringing revenue of $10.8 billion (Sh864 billion).
Mass protests have raged in Egyptian cities in the past few days against President Hosni Mubarak’s 30 year rule. The protests have crippled major operations in the country leading to companies, banks and shops remaining closed.
They also cross Sinai desert where an early morning climb to the summit of Mt Sinai is part of the trip before crossing to Jerusalem.
Across the border in Jerusalem travellers visit Qumran caves where the Dead Sea scrolls were found and drive via the Good Samaritan’s Inn – the route associated with the good Samaritan in the bible.
One of the most popular sites during the tour is the ‘burning bush’ associated with Moses in the bible; here people are known to slip their prayer requests.
EgyptAir, the national carrier, cancelled about 100 of its nearly 150 scheduled international flights and halted its service.
The carrier has been cancelling about 75 per cent of its flights because crew are either unable to make it because of curfews, or are too worried about leaving their families.