Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tanzania Government Scraps Tourist Hotels Grading Fees

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Hardly eight months after tourist hotels grading exercise launched in Tanzania, the government has abolished fees paid by hotel owners to the grading teams.

Tanzania’s new Minister for Tourism Dr. Hamis Kigwangala abolished fees in the grading exercise for tourist hotels in Tanzania.

Grading and classification of tourist accommodation establishments was  a requirement by the East African Community (EAC) regional plan aimed at marketing the region as single tourist destination with standardized accommodation and other services offered through hotels, lodges and wildlife camps.

The Tanzanian Tourism minister said weeks ago that the classification exercise has been wrongly carried with hotel owners paying a uniform fee amounting American dollars 3,500 (US$ 3,500) to grading teams against the government procedures on rating Tanzania’s accommodation establishments.

Hotel owners and managers had earlier complained over the high and quoted classification fees set by the grading teams, saying the exercise was expensive to most of them.

Hotels Association of Tanzania ( HAT) Chief Executive Officer Ms. Nura-Lisa Karamagi said the grading exercise of Tanzania hotels and lodges was vital in marketing Tanzania along with other EAC member states. 

She told NCA that the hotel industry has been burdened with multiple fees and taxes.

“We are looking mostly on quality service delivery that would compete with other EAC members, also thinking of the quality of our hotel services we offer”, she said.

In August this year, the Ministry of natural Resources and Tourism which has been carrying out the Grading exercise released a list of Five to One Star hotels, lodges and camps.

Tanzania has about nine Five Star hotels located in Arusha and Dar es Salaam with 19 Four-Stars, 65 Three-Stars, 81 Two-Stars with a number of hotels rated One-Star class.

Serena Hotel, the Kilimanjaro Hyatt Regency and Sea Cliff were the bona fide five-star tourist accommodation facilities located in Tanzania’s commercial capital of Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean coast.

The three hotels were rated Five Star Class in August this year using the Criteria for Standardization of Tourism Facilities developed under the auspices of the East African Community (EAC). The grading and classification exercise began early this year.

Classification of tourist class hotels and other accommodation establishments is being executed by the East African Community (EAC) in all five member states of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.

The exercise to classify hotels has been initiated by the EAC members in efforts to improve tourism services and hospitality sector in the region and stimulate competition in service delivery, efficiency, and responsibility among the governments and the business stakeholders in travel and tourism sectors.

More than 60 hotel inspection experts have been trained in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi for executing the classification and evaluation duties in grading the properties.

With a total workforce of about 400,000 employees, tourist hotels in Tanzania are braving to match with cost cutting measures after the government restricted its agencies to book them for conferences and accommodation services.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tanzania Welcomes Chinese Tourism Market

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Tanzania has been encouraged to tap the rich Chinese tourism market in a quest to boost revenue receipts from the sector. The idea emanated from the Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania, Ms Ke Wang, when speaking at an event in Dar es Salaam recently.

The envoy is of the view that the local tourist board and other stakeholders should moot a comprehensive strategy that would culminate in a hefty increase in the number of tourists who visit local tourist spots, some hailing from China. The envoy’s idea is welcome. Tanzania is, certainly, the richest country in the world in terms of the number of tourist attractions.

This situation has prompted the government to apportion more than 44 per cent of its land area to game reserves and national parks. So far, there are 16 national parks, 29 game reserves, 40 controlled conservation areas and marine parks.

Mount Kilimanjaro, the Roof of Africa, is also located in Tanzania. But tourist arrivals are still few, although their number climbed up slightly last year. At the moment, the nation envisages creating a friendlier climate that would see the number of arrivals climbing from the current 800,000 to 1.6 million annually in the near future. Indeed, it is high time the nation increased its tourist share from China as well.

It is unacceptable, that while Tanzania has some of the best tourist attractions in the world, the number of visitors still remains low and national earnings from the sector unsatisfactory. This stark reality needs remedial action.

It is also unthinkable that a country that has 16 attractive wildlife sanctuaries should fail to shunt in millions of lovers of nature. The number of tourists visiting Tanzania rose by 10.4 per cent from January to October, last year, compared with the same period in 2015.

This is delightful news but these figures are still bleak. More efforts should be made to popularise Tanzania as a sparkling tourism spot. Tourism is one of the main sources of foreign currency in Tanzania.

As part of an initiative to boost revenue, the government of Tanzania lifted an 18 per cent value-added-tax exemption in July, last year, on some tourist attractions, including wildlife park entry. And yet not enough lovers of nature visit the nations wonderful tourism spots!

The main reason is that not enough effort is made to advertise Tanzania as the most wonderful tourism spot in the world.

Yes, Tanzania’s tourism spots can easily and readily be rated as the best in the world.

There is no reason at all why a country that has the largest herd of wild animals, some of which have an intriguing annual migratory habit, should not win the hearts of even the most skeptical travelers. Spots such as the Ngorongoro Crater are simply amazing.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Prince William Speaks out against Illegal Wildlife Trade: 'It's Barbaric and it Supports Organised Crime'

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"The royal patron of the Tusk Trust urged stronger measures to protect and preserve global wildlife populations.

Prince William has spoken time and again against illegal wildlife and poaching and on 2 November used his voice once again to encourage countries to work towards protecting animals from the "barbaric" practice.

The Duke of Cambridge made the plea during the gala dinner hosted by the Tusk Trust, for which he is a royal patron.

"In my lifetime, we have seen global wildlife populations decline by over half," he said, pointing out that rapid rise in human population was specifically to blame for the problem.

"Africa's rapidly growing human population is predicted to more than double by 2050 — a staggering increase of three and a half million people per month. There is no question that this increase puts wildlife and habitat under enormous pressure," the 35-year-old continued, explaining that while urbanisation, infrastructure development, cultivation were positive in themselves, they were also having a "terrible impact".

William went on to urge those in attendance at the black-tie event at the Roundhouse in London, to participate in finding solutions to "ensure that human beings and the other species of animal with which we share this planet can continue to co-exist".

He also touched on the importance of curbing illegal wildlife trade and poaching. "It is barbaric, it destroys livelihoods and communities, and it supports organised crime," he said (via The Telegraph). "The world is a worse place for it, and we must stamp it out."

Founded in 1990, Tusk Trust has been working towards conservation of Africa's natural heritage through community development and environmental education. Along with Prince William, its patrons include TV personalities Zoe Ball and Bear Grylls along with music legends Mark Knopfler and Ronnie Wood.

Last month, the trust celebrated the UK government's plan to put an end to ivory trade of all ages. Earlier, ivory produced before 1947 was exempt from the ban. Despite the restrictions, the country is one of the highest exporters of legal ivory carvings and antiques

William himself had previously urged the government to impose a blanket ban on all ivory trade within the country. "We know now what previous generations did not — ivory treated as a commodity is the fuel of extinction," he said at an international conference in Vietnam in 2016. "Ivory is not something to be desired and when removed from an elephant it is not beautiful.

"We need governments to send a clear signal that trading in ivory is abhorrent."

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Tanzania: Tourism Boost As Marriot Buys Arusha's Oldest Hotel

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Marriot International has acquired Arusha Hotel, the oldest tourist establishment in northern Tanzania. The hotel chain said the 106-room Arusha Hotel will be operated under the Four Points name by Sheraton management.

"A growing middle class and demand for travel and high quality lodging has given us a significant opportunity to enhance our footprint and play our part in supporting emerging markets across the continent," Marriot International Hotels president Alex Kyriakidis said.

The acquisition is part of Marriot's goal to own 200 hotels comprising more than 37,000 rooms by 2022. The group seeks to generate a $8.5 billion capital investment and create 50,000 direct and indirect jobs through this development process, Mr Kyriakidis's statement added.

Marriot's expansion is a boost to the Tanzania government's drive to attract more investors and other service providers. Tanzania reportedly attracts 1.2 million tourists every year. About 80 per cent of them, nearly 900,000 end up in the Northern Circuit, the Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro.

Already, the government is drafting a new tourism policy targeting the development of new tourist attractions, hotels and other investments in the sector. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has held several meetings with tourist stakeholders from the Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar, seeking to draft a new policy to replace the Tourism Policy of 1999.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Aloyce Nzuki, said the new policy will consider diverse attractions and services including conference tourism, historical and cultural heritage sites, eco-tourism and beach.

The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators chairman Wilbard Chambullo told The EastAfrican that the policy would bring together private sector players to work with the government in developing tourism. A tourism and hotel consultant in Arusha, Leopold Kabendera, said global marketers and hotel chains patronise Tanzania, mostly from the US, South Africa and Europe.

"We are looking for a better policy that would create public and private partnerships in tourism. This would attract more investors to inject capital through hotels and other business services," he said.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

10 Amazing Elephant Facts you Need to Know

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1:The African elephant is not just the largest living land animal but it has an enormous brain size to match. Their brains can weigh up to a whopping 5.4kg and are, without doubt, the largest brain of all animals living on land.

2:Need help remembering which is an African elephant and which is an Asian elephant? Check out their ears! African elephant ears are, rather helpfully, the shape of Africa.

3:Have you ever seen an elephant swim? It’s pretty special! But not only can they swim, did you know they’ve also been spotted using their trunks as a snorkel when crossing rivers?! Now that’s handy…

4:Elephant family groups are very close. While they can’t exactly hug each other, elephants do wrap their trunks around younger relatives to reassure them and to greet each other they twine their trunks together.
     
5:Elephants are super smart! They can both learn and feel emotions. If a member of their family group is injured, the rest of the group may come and help it. They also know when a family member is no longer in the herd and it’s a truly heart-breaking sight to see an elephant grieve over the bones of lost family and friends.

6:Female elephants have the longest pregnancy of any mammal. It’s a lengthy 22 months before baby elephants are ready to be born!

7:Baby elephants stay with mum for up to 10 years. They even learn to eat by putting their trunks inside their mothers’ mouths to take food.

8:Did you know elephants can get sunburned? Ouch! These giants bathe in mud to help protect their skin from the sun.

9:You definitely don’t want to get in the way of a charging elephant. It’s said they can reach speeds of 40km/h!

10:Elephants make sounds that we can’t even hear. Some of their calls are so low, they are below the range of human hearing. And these amazing animals can recognise over 100 different friends from their calls alone.

Bonus fact… it’s not something to celebrate, but here why we so desperately need to save elephants.


Adult elephants have no real predators in the wild… except us.

Right now, elephants are fighting for their survival. Despite a ban on international sales ivory in 1989, the illegal trade has expanded, particularly over the last 10 years and is now bigger than ever. The number of elephants being poached for their ivory is unacceptable and we must end this before it’s too late.
 
 

Tanzania: Ethiopia's B787-9 to Boost Tourism

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Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 878-9 Dreamliner maiden commercial flight to Kilimanjaro is a big credit to tourism industry to the country.

The Boeing touching down to Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) is also expected to expose tourism attractions to tourists and various stakeholders across the world.

Local tourism stakeholders told 'NCA' yesterday that through its latest technologically advanced aircraft, Ethiopia Airlines has proved to the World that Tanzania is the best destination to tourists from all parts of the World.

According to the statement released by Ethiopian Airlines yesterday, the company operation with B-787-9 is part of its commitment to deliver exceptional level of service to the African market by operating the latest technologically advanced aircraft in the market.

Kilimanjaro is a major tourist destination with huge economic significance to the country and part of Ethiopian's extensive network in Africa. Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) Principle Public Relation Officer, Mr Geoffrey Tengeneza said KIA is the main entrance for tourists in the Northern zone.

The international airport links tourists with crucial and attractive areas such as Serengeti National Park, Mountain Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Tarangire National Park and Zanzibar Island.

Mr Tengeneza said TTB and Ethiopian Airline have been working together in promoting tourism in the country for some years now and that the maiden commercial flight to Tanzania proves to the world that everyone need to visit tourists attractions in the country.

He said TTB believes the number of tourists will increase after the new Ethiopian aircraft maiden trip because the company flies to various areas across the World where TTB has its markets.

"Ethiopia Airline is our partner in tourism business, it is our hope that the new aircraft will help to boost the tourism sector in Tanzania," he said. He added: "It is obvious the Ethiopian Airline has played a big role in promoting Tanzania tourist attractions and we look forward to receive more tourists from various countries."

Eagle Travel Distribution System Chief Executive Officer Mr Renatus Kyakalaba said the 'maiden trip is a big credit' to Tanzania international airports and a big boost to the tourism sector at large.

Mr Kyakalaba said the whole world now know that KIA has the capacity to handle new aircraft with most sophisticated technology like the latest B 787-9 dream liner.

"This means, the whole World is now aware that Tanzania is equipped with local experts and equipment to attend the latest technologically advanced aircraft in case anything happens," he said.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Tanzania: 'Star' Hotels Lose Ratings...

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THE Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamis Kigwangalla, has nullified all results from recent hotel grading, citing complaints that the entire exercise was dubious.

Addressing stakeholders in travel, tourism, conservation and hospitality industries at the climax of his weeklong tour of Arusha Region, the minister said the 'hotel grading exercise,' whose second instalment results were announced about two months ago, left "a lot to be desired" in regard to the process on how it was conducted.

"... I have heard that hotel owners were subjected to paying $3,500 ... to the grading teams ... this sounds like bribing these operators to give you higher accreditation," the minister observed.

He says: "... there's great possibility that many of the hotels ranked that high did not even deserve the so-called 'stars' ... while those that could not get higher ratings were not acknowledged because they were unwilling to pay," pointed out the minister.

Last August, the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism released results for the second leg of the country's 'Hotel Grading,' the exercise which so far have covered Arusha, Manyara and Dar es Salaam regions.

Arusha was lucky with ten properties that were accredited with 'Five- Star,' rating, to wit: the Mount Meru Hotel in the town hotels category and Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge on the Vocational Lodges category.

Other five star properties were all lodges, mostly located in National Parks or in surrounding areas such as Karatu, such as the Ngorongoro Oldean, Manor Ngorongoro, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, Tarangire Sopa Lodge, Legendary Lodge, Acacia Farm House and Lake Manyara Lodge.

THE Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamis Kigwangalla, has nullified all results from recent hotel grading, citing complaints that the entire exercise was dubious.

Addressing stakeholders in travel, tourism, conservation and hospitality industries at the climax of his weeklong tour of Arusha Region, the minister said the 'hotel grading exercise,' whose second instalment results were announced about two months ago, left "a lot to be desired" in regard to the process on how it was conducted.

"... I have heard that hotel owners were subjected to paying $3,500 ... to the grading teams ... this sounds like bribing these operators to give you higher accreditation," the minister observed.

He says: "... there's great possibility that many of the hotels ranked that high did not even deserve the so-called 'stars' ... while those that could not get higher ratings were not acknowledged because they were unwilling to pay," pointed out the minister.

Last August, the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism released results for the second leg of the country's 'Hotel Grading,' the exercise which so far have covered Arusha, Manyara and Dar es Salaam regions.

Arusha was lucky with ten properties that were accredited with 'Five- Star,' rating, to wit: the Mount Meru Hotel in the town hotels category and Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge on the Vocational Lodges category.

Other five star properties were all lodges, mostly located in National Parks or in surrounding areas such as Karatu, such as the Ngorongoro Oldean, Manor Ngorongoro, Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, Tarangire Sopa Lodge, Legendary Lodge, Acacia Farm House and Lake Manyara Lodge.

There were also 19 four star properties, 65 three star properties, 81 properties with 2 stars and three properties accredited with the lowest single (1) star grading.

The Manyara property grading exercise had two hotels that managed to reach 4 stars category, 11 others earned 3 stars, four properties got 2 stars and their other accommodation premises were reported still under refurbishment but likely to earn at least a single star badge each.

'And Beyond' operated, Lake Manyara Tree Lodge,' was declared the best property earning the company 4 stars. And Beyond is also behind the mega luxurious Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in Ngorongoro and Kleins Camp in Serengeti.

Properties that earned 3 stars include the Tarangire Safari Lodge, Kirurumo Under-Canvas Lodge, the Eco-Science, Science Centre & Luxury Lodge, Un-Lodge En Afrique Tented Lodge, Tarangire Treetops Lodge, Maramboi Tented Lodge and Roika Tented Lodge.

Campsites were also not left behind with Kikoti Safari Camp getting 4 stars, Sanctuary Swala Tented Camp earning 3 stars, Balloon Tarangire Tented Camp also getting 3 stars.

The three stars also went to Maweninga Tented Camp, and Tarangire River Camp. Oliver's Camp, Manyara Ranch Conservancy Tented Camp and Lake Burunge Tented Camp all earned 2 stars as far as camping properties were included in the Manyara grading exercise.

The exercise enrolled a total of 32 hotels and lodges for the initial evaluation but only 12 of them were found to be sub-standard leaving 20 properties to undergo hospitality property standardisation exercise which led to a number of them being badged with stars.

Until recently, Arusha which is the tourism capital and gateway to the Northern Circuit was featuring just about 2,800 hotel beds, but said to have topped this number to 3,000, while Mwanza despite its tourism potential has only 920, Kilimanjaro also around 916 and Mbeya a measly 670; at least Dar es Salaam has more than 3,000 hotel beds.