RHINO KILLED BY POACHERS | Uganda group tours

Tezpur: The body of a bullet-riddled rhino with its horns removed was found by forest guards in Sonitpur district of Assam Tuesday morning.

The adult male rhino was allegedly killed by poachers last night and its carcass was found by patrolling forest guards at Nichalamari area under Dhekiajuli police station, Sonitpur (West) Divisional Forest Officer Narayan Mahanta said today.

The rhino came out from Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park in search of food and was suspected to have been killed by poachers near a paddy field fully covered with water.

Mahanta said a joint search operation has been launched by both forest and police personnel in Nichalamari area to nab the suspected poachers.

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CNOOC Uganda Limited, Total E&P Uganda and Tullow Uganda Operations PTY have earlier in the week unveiled the new oil and gas section at the Uganda Museum.

Uganda’s Minister of Energy, Hon Eng. Irene Muloni, said that the project is aimed at educating and increasing awareness of the oil and gas industry to various stakeholders in Uganda and the general public.

The newly launched section is to serve as a centre for basic information and research about oil and gas in Uganda. It consists of historical information and achievements to date in the Ugandan oil and gas sector, the oil cycle i.e. exploration, development & production, some of the equipment used during operations and related videos.

Speaking at the launch ceremony held at the Museum , Hon. Irene Muloni, commended the participating oil companies for their commitment to information sharing with Ugandans.

In his remarks about the history of the project, Abdul Kibuuka, the Public Affairs and National Content Manager Tullow Uganda mentioned that the discovery of oil and gas has been a landmark event in Uganda’s history and once oil production is achieved, current and future generations will benefit from the knowledge and information provided by the oil and gas section.

Mrs. Rose Mwanje, the Commissioner of Museums and Antiquities welcomed the contribution by the three partners and expressed her hope, on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, that the revamped section would assist to revitalize public interest in the museum. She invited other corporate companies to emulate the contribution made by the oil companies in order to bring the Uganda Museum back to international standards.

Due to budget constraints in the past has a major upgrade and overhaul not been possible until now and the facility largely been in a state of hibernation. The situation of the museum in fact at one time lead to an attempt to hive off the extensive museum land when the then Minister for Tourism, one Kahinda Otafiire, among his many other misteps attempted to have the museum razed and a high rise office block constructed instead. This lead to widespread condemnation and opposition from among tourism and conservation circles but did not prod government into action to allocate the resources needed to spruce up one of Uganda’s greatest sources of historical artefacts.

It has in the past been several times proposed to put up a showcase cultural village on the museum grounds, featuring the type of homesteads Ugandan’s use in the rural areas so that visitors to the city can appreciate the wide cultural variety of the many different communities, kingdoms and chiefdoms

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Targeting tourists and airline passengers for taxes has become sort of fashionable in recent years and examples gone woefully wrong, like the ticket taxes in the UK, show how often immediately the market reacts to such blatant attempts to siphon money out of travelers pockets.

Worse, when combined with the pretense it is a green tax do such governments, councils and cities only lose the last bit of respect they might still have commanded and are turning into bashing bags on the social media by those who suffer from such daylight robbery. Even the African Union has in its current budget estimate tried to extract a 10 US Dollar tax for arrivals and departures and a 1 US Dollar tax on every bednight spent, raising an outcry of protests from the UNWTO over the WTTC and the respective private sectors, apart from many tourism ministers being totally opposed to tax their industry out of existence.

The government in Zanzibar, notoriously cash strapped and yet overly dependent on tourism, does not seem to have learned any lessons from the failures and fiascos elsewhere when they just announced a one US Dollar tax on tourists for every night spent, payable together with the hotel bill. Additionally is a further tax of 1 US Dollar payable when leaving any airport or seaport from Zanzibar to the mainland, under the disguise of an infrastructure levy and an infrastructure tax respectively.

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The saying that the sky is the limit is of course well known and it applies in particular to airlines for which the sky is their main office and production facility.

Tanzania’s Auric Air, regularly mentioned here, has over the past few years been on the prowl, adding destinations, now over 30 in total, many of them served on a scheduled basis with their growing fleet of Cessna C208B Grand Caravans. It does appear as if the sky for them is not the limit as they keep expanding and rarely put their rudder wrong. Operating out of three hubs, Mwanza, Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro, has the airline just announced the addition of more flights to the town of Iringa, a place where few other airlines, and then mainly expensive charters, fly to.

The extra flights, according to information received, will operate every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, leaving Dar es Salaam at 14.00 hrs and taking off from Iringa back to Dar at 16.00 hrs.

The airline is one of the few of its kind to meet the exacting standards of the Flight Safety Foundation’s maintenance, training and operational standards which earned Auric a Gold Label at their last audit.

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UBER SHOULD BE DISSOLVED | Camping Rwanda tours

Uber should be dissolved and declared illegal. These are the words of French President Francois Hollande. He said this Friday morning in Paris, but at the same time condemned violent protests by taxi drivers against the car ride-booking app Uber.

Hollande, speaking early on Friday morning, described the Paris demonstrations as “unacceptable violence in a democracy, in a country like France”.

Around 3,000 traditional taxi drivers took part in the protests on Thursday, blocking access to the capital’s Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, setting fire to vehicles and preventing cars reaching train stations around the country.

Ten people were arrested, seven police officers were injured and 70 vehicles were damaged in clashes between Uber drivers and taxi drivers.

The service, known as UberPOP, has been illegal in France since January but the law has proved difficult to enforce and it continues to operate.

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MUMBAI RANKED FIFTH | Rwanda group gorilla tours

MUMBAI, India – A survey by a leading travel portal has ranked Mumbai the fifth most budget-friendly city in the world, after Hanoi, Warsaw, Sharm el Sheikh and Bangkok.

The survey by TripAdvisor found the total cost of a three-night holiday in Mumbai coming to Rs53,911, with the most notable expense being accommodation at Rs23,091. Mumbai is 39% more expensive than Hanoi. However, with respect to taxi rides, it’s cheaper than Bangkok, Sharm el Sheikh and Warsaw.

The survey compared the cost of a three-night break during the summer travel months of June to August in 40 key tourist cities around the world, taking into account typical costs for two people. These include a four-star hotel for three nights, a visit to three attractions, lunch each day, and dinner each day and a taxi ride to and from place of dining.

The survey found that travellers can find the best value in Southeast Asia, as four of the top 10 cheapest destinations are located there — Hanoi, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Manila take first, fourth, seventh and ninth places, respectively.

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AVIATION FESTIVAL AFRICA | Camping Rwanda safaris


Aviation experts and buffs will have a field day, or rather two, when the Aviation Festival Africa / Aviation Outlook Africa goes underway in Sandton / Johannesburg next Tuesday. Over 5.000 participants are expected to crowd the event and over 600 formal delegates are registered, representing some 150 airlines, airports, regulatory authorities and service providers.

300 presentations have been prepared to tell the crowds in five separate arenas the latest trends in aviation.

Now in its sixth year has the event by far exceeded the hopes of the organizers when looking back over the past years and has indeed established itself as Africa’s number one event about all things flying.

New this year is the addition of the ‘Airports Show Africa’ which will give airports the opportunity to interact with airlines to attract more traffic.

In a related development will Durban later in the year be the venue for the global Routes meeting, again showing that South Africa is indeed one of the continent’s main aviation hubs, rivalled only by East Africa and Egypt.

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In a surprise development has Air Seychelles’ changed CEO’s when it was announced yesterday that Roy Kinnear, previously Senior Vice President for Revenue Management and Planning at Etihad in Abu Dhabi, will take over on the 01st of July from Manoj Papa. Manoj had joined the airline from South African Airways in March 2014 replacing Cramer Ball who, after two years at HM, marked by a return to profitability, went on to take over as CEO at Jet Airways, another Etihad partner airline.

Only last weekend had Manoj received three trophies, as reported here, for Air Seychelles at the World Travel Award ceremony which was held at the Kempinski Seychelles Resort.

Under Manoj’s stewardship had Air Seychelles started to embark on an ambitious growth path, adding in December last year three new destinations in rapid succession, after taking delivery of their first liveried Airbus A320. Dar es Salaam, Antananarivo and Mumbai were launched with two and three weekly flights respectively, the latter two since then getting a fourth flight due to high demand for seats as was a fourth weekly flight added to Mauritius.

It was the airline’s chairman Mr. Joel Morgan, who is also the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Transport, who made the announcement in Victoria yesterday, when he introduced Roy during a brief ceremony.

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Following the Seychelles’ success at the World Travel Awards for Africa and the Indian Ocean last weekend did the Seychelles Tourism Board bring all their key foreign marketing executives to Mahe for the midyear review and to establish existing challenges in key market places. The event took place on Eden Island’s Eden Bleu Hotel and included key private sector stakeholders for the opening session and selected further interaction.

The rise in visitor arrivals this year so far by a staggering 16 percent will no doubt please the powers that be but the Seychelles’ secret of success is in part at least rooted in not resting on laurels but looking at the future and aiming to bring yet more tourists to the archipelago.

He also took aim at an apparent leakage’ where visitors numbers recorded at the airport do vary from guests staying in registered establishments by as much as 12 to 16 percent, suggesting that they have made direct deals with non-licensed operators of guest houses, villas and apartments. St. Ange vowed to use all available means, including the regular monitoring of social media, to establish if unlicensed establishments advertise to rent out rooms and bring them to book. He further suggested that this was in the interest of all licensed hospitality providers who contribute to the marketing effort of the Seychelles and they deserved protection from underpricing and from unscrupulous operators not paying taxes.

Establishment to establishment visits by the Minister and key members of his team have taken place and continue to allow one on one interaction between hotel, resort and accommodation owners and government to hear about the challenges the industry faces and how best to address the issue of the high cost of doing business.

Tourism stakeholders are confident though that the launch next week of nonstop flights by Air Seychelles to Paris CDG will make a major difference in having the French market gather additional pace and maintain its lead position as the number one source of foreign tourists to the archipelago. A series of charter flights from China to Mahe in the second half of the year are also expected to boost arrivals from the most important growth market and should the charters result in the launch of nonstop scheduled flights it would no doubt catapult China into the top three producer markets in no time.

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From 18th of May to 18th of June this year did 55 amateur photographers participate in the photo competition entitled ‘A look at the ocean’ which was launched by the Tourism Quality label of Reunion Island (QTIR). A total of 1,228 Internet users participated and voted to elect the twenty best photos of the big blue that have allowed their authors to win one of the prizes at stake by the members of QTIR label. The competition is part of a collective marketing campaign between all tourism stakeholders in Reunion, aimed to showcase the destination as seen through the eyes of individuals, visitors and locals alike.

Congratulations to winners who have earned either a stay at the hotel or in a guest room, a museum visit, a canyoning outing, an overview paragliding, to dive, mountain bike downhill, or an excursion to the lava tunnels!

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