The 3rd East African Regional Tourism Summit Set to Unlock New Vistas in Travel and Tourism in East Africa.

The recent culmination of the 3rd East African Regional Tourism Summit and the 13th Magical Kenya Travel Expo marks a pivotal moment for the travel and tourism industry in East African region. As we reflect on the insights gained and the passionate remarks of the East Africa Community (E.A.C) Deputy Secretary General (Customs, Trade and Monetary Affairs) Ms. Annette Ssemuwemba, Dr. Alfred Mutua, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, it becomes evident that there’s a call to action for all stakeholders in the industry.

It was attributed that the quick rebound of the travel and tourism industry from the pangs of covid-19 pandemic was as a result of deliberate diversification of tourism products and the improvements of the challenges facing the industry in the past.

In a dynamic continent where each country boasts unique tourist attractions, the need for collaboration and a unified regional approach cannot be overstated.

This annual regional travel-tourism fair showcasing the region’s diverse offerings is a step towards the right direction in providing opportunity for countries in the region especially Kenya, in consolidating its position as a premier for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions destination in the region and Africa-hence an overall effect in growing and maintaining our global share of the international tourism market. Dr. Mutua emphasized the necessity for East African countries to set aside unproductive rivalries and collaborate in promoting the region’s collective tourism assets.

The Magical Kenya Travel Expo, Kenya’s annual flagship travel fair which brings together tourism stakeholders, partners and media from Kenya’s key source markets in Europe, Africa, Asia and America merger with East Africa Regional Tourism Summit this year was set to create more value and enhance the level of engagement.

The key focus areas to catapult and enhance the region’s visibility and maximization of the economic benefits to bolster travel and tourism trade which featured highly during the summit are:

Connectivity: The Backbone of Regional Tourism

Notably one of the primary challenges facing the East African region is connectivity. Despite the diversity of tourist attractions, the region receives very few direct flights from international destinations. To truly tap into the potential of the tourism industry and maximize economic benefits, there’s a need to focus on strengthening air links. Policies such as Open Skies Agreement (OSA) should be adopted to give our airlines the flexibility to respond to market opportunities. These agreements could empower our airlines to dance to the market’s tune, fostering growth within the East African Community and the broader African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Tech-Forward Tourism

In an era where technology is redefining travel, creating a hassle-free tourist experience is paramount. The new generation of travelers, predominantly Millennials and Gen Z, with their ‘You Only Live Once’ ethos, innovation and technology play a crucial role in attracting these tech-savvy explorers seeking seamless experiences. Therefore, industry players need to adopt innovative solutions that cater to this demographic, ensuring a personalized and convenient travel experience.

Unity and Collaboration for a Visa-Free Continent

In his closing remarks, Dr. Mutua passionately called for a shift in strategy, urging countries to pool resources for marketing and present the region as a unified destination. His proposal for a multifaceted approach involves identifying, mapping, branding, and packaging all the region’s tourist attractions while developing interconnected tourist circuits.

The idea of a visa-free continent is an idea whose time has come; it’s a journey that has commenced and will spread like wildfire in coming days. Simplifying visa processes, ensuring safety, and leveraging technology will be key in achieving this vision.

Forging partnerships from country, regional Associations and state corporations that promote destination marketing for signature events and experiences of the region’s unique propositions should be done in a synchronized manner where incentives are given for those who go out of their way to aggressively market the region’s unique prepositions. This Annual Tourism Expo among other key initiatives that the EAC has embarked on as part of implementing the regional tourism marketing strategy 2021-2025 will surely set up the bloc to exciting vistas.

Source: KATA Media & Communications -Bryan Obala

Jambojet To Start Flying from Mombasa To Zanzibar Beginning July Next Year

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 22 – Low-cost airline Jambojet will, starting in July next year, start flying from Mombasa to Zanzibar. The unveiling of the new route comes at a time when the airline’s market share in the domestic market stands at 56 percent. “The Mombasa-Zanzibar route is not just a flight route but a bridge that cements the cultural heritage between our people, but also connects the beautiful coasts of Kenya and Zanzibar,” Jambojet Chairman Vincent Rague said at the ongoing Magical Kenya and East African Region Tourism Expo.

“With its rich history, pristine beaches, and vibrant culture, the two destinations are gems within the Indian Ocean, and we are delighted to bring these breathtaking destinations closer to you.” The tourism sector is the engine of a majority of countries in the East African Community (EAC), thus its importance on their economies. The EAC Tourism Marketing Strategy aims to position the region as Africa’s leading sustainable tourism destination.

The strategy has set five key objectives, among them developing competitive multi-destination tourism products, branding East Africa as a single tourism destination, and positioning and marketing EAC as a leading regional tourism destination in Africa. “As Africa’s leading low-cost airline, we take pride in being part and parcel of the ever-growing tourism sector by adapting to market dynamics but driven mainly by consumer needs and insights,” Jambojet CEO Karanja Ndegwa stated. “Multi-destination travel is only possible with reliable, affordable and accessible connectivity. This is the role Jambojet seeks to play as we expand our network, evident in the new route Mombasa – Zanzibar.”

Source: Capital fm

Africa: Safety Remains Top Priority for African Airlines with Domestic Traffic Projected to Double By 2040

The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has revealed some of its key priorities for 2024 as aviation operations continue to grow across the continent.

According to experts, the African air traffic will double by 2040.

Ultimately, aircraft manufacturers expect demand for new aircraft in Africa to exceed 1,000 units in the next 20 years.

During the AFRAA 55th Annual General Assembly held at Speke Resort Munyonyo, the association’s secretary general, Berthé Abderahmane said that addressing the safety challenges and opportunities remains their key priority for next year.

He noted that African Airlines CEOs and key stakeholders are to gather in Ethiopia next year for the Aviation Safety Summit in Ethiopia, from where aviation safety strategies will be discussed.

“This summit seeks to bring together the stakeholders in the industry to discuss, strategise, and collaborate on shaping a safer future for African aviation.” Abderahmane said.

Routes development and connectivity

Currently, 85% of the intra-Africa flights are direct versus 15% connecting. Only 21% of the direct flights are operated under 5th freedom traffic rights.

According Abderahmane, despite the AU’s Single African Air Transport Market flagship project, access to markets and connectivity remains challenging.

He highlighted that in collaboration with other stakeholders, including the Airports Council International Africa (ACI Africa) and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), AFRAA will be prioritising aviation inter-connectivity and routes development on the continent.

Held under the theme, “Strides to Transform Aviation for Development”, AFRAA AGA concluded on Tuesday.

The assembly was hosted by Uganda Airlines under the high patronage of the Ministry of Works and Transport.

The summit was attended by over 500 high-profile delegates from the aviation industry in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and North America.

According to Abderahmane, the summit presented a great avenue for key aviation stakeholders across the continent to engage to build air services within Africa.

He further implored the African continent to focus on aviation as a critical socio-economic development driver.

“AFRAA intends to play a pivotal role in navigating African airlines by charting a sustainable path in support of rejuvenating the continent’s aviation industry through specific support measures.” he said.

Source:All Africa.

Kid’s Zone to Restaurant Pop-Ups, Emirates Dubai 7s Reveals Its Line Up of Experiences!

Emirates Dubai 7s has unveiled its full lineup of experiences for the festival goers. In case you aren’t aware, the ultimate weekend is coming back from December 1 to 3 at the Sevens Stadium. Not to mention, but just a few weeks to go, the Sevens World Series ‘HSBC SVNS’ has re-branded. Featuring unrivalled sporting actions, and lots more, here’s all you need to know about the incredible line-up.

Emirates Dubai 7s Reveals Its Line-Up

Happening during the UAE National Day weekend, the Emirates Dubai 7s has finally revealed its complete lineup of events. Yes, it seems that fans will be able to get an exciting entertainment lineup, fantastic family-friendly activities, engaging live musical performances, and lots more. Not to mention, this year, the festival offerings also include a wide selection of incredible food and beverage options. Yes, there will be two all-new sections the Prosecco Lounge and the Shaded Garden, that you will certainly want to check out.

They Have a Special Zone for Kids

It so happens that they are doing something special for the kids. The special Kid’s Zone is returning with a larger and double-sized zone that has been designed for children of all ages for a fun-filled time with their families. Your little munchkin will be able to explore a wide range of activity areas, which include everything from toddlers’ soft play zone with air-conditioners and seating for parents to a full junior inflatable area and ball pits! As it happens, there will also be an arts and crafts area, a beanbag, a chillout zone, a selfie corner, and more for an enjoyable time. A full-size carousel is also coming to the kids’ area for the first time ever!

Several Activities for Kids

Yes, the entertainment stage will feature Disney sing-along shows, balloon bending, and a silent disco, which has a specially curated child-friendly playlist! While you are at it, don’t forget to click tons of pictures of your children with giant roaming mascots for a cherished memory that you can look back on. Did you know there’s also a Princess and Prince Play Booth? Yes, your little ones can get their face painted, hair braided, and even get transfer tattoos before they get clicked.

Coming to the teen hub, which is another family-friendly zone, there will be several thrilling experiences, such as inflatables, including the big red slide. Several other activities like football darts, the big baller, Flip-It, foosball, table tennis, and lots more will be in this place.

This year, the festival is all set to leave all you awesome foodies spoilt for choice. Offering the widest variety of culinary and beverage options ever, there will be some pretty famous names to choose from! Restaurants like Pret a Manger, Costa Coffee, Giraffe Sport Shack, and Mr. Toads, will all be stationed here. Moreover, the festival will also be able to relish regional favourites, like Pickl, Gino’s Deli, Baskin Robbins, Wingstop, and HERE O.

As mentioned previously, the Shaded Garden will feature the ultimate boho festival, which will be complete with full shade, relaxed seating, and feature glitter artists, hair, braiding, body marbling, and transfer tattoo stations. While the Prosecco Lounge will be located on the South Stand Where one can enjoy a bubbly drink.

There will also be a star-studded lineup of artists who will be taking the stage. Happening across four iconic stages, the festival will promise a mammoth live music lineup that will be spread throughout the entire festival. As it happens there are only limited tickets left for the event, and they start at AED425.

Source: Curly tales

African airlines to engage states on opening air space

A total of 570 delegates from the aviation sector yesterday resolved to engage their home governments to liberalise and open up air spaces within Africa to ease movements.

During the closure of the 55th African Airlines Association Annual General Assembly (AFRAA) in Kampala, Uganda on Tuesday, delegates unanimously agreed that opening up air spaces within African countries is a game changer for the sector.

“So far, 37 out of 54 countries have subscribed to the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) but majority have not fulfilled the commitment. The problem is that most countries are protective and as AFRAA, we have engaged them to open up their air spaces because it is a good initiative. For example, Morocco who opened up its air space to Europe at first were hit hard but in the long run got a lot of traffic,” AFRAA Secretary General Abderahmane Berthe said.

“Another major problem we have is visa restriction which is a complex thing and as AFRAA we cannot do much about it, but we are still engaging governments to facilitate free movement of people as this will facilitate trade and tourism,” he added.

According to Berthe, AFRAA’s revenue loss for 2022 at $3.5 billion, representing 20 percent of 2019 revenues, will narrow down to $1 billion in 2023.

The 2022 statistics from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) indicates that African airlines carried 67 million passengers out of the total 3.4 billion who travelled worldwide during the same period, accounting for two percent of global traffic.

Berthe said the mismatch between capacity and demand and the limited commercial cooperation between local carriers may explain the low load factor in Africa.

Uganda Airlines CEO Jenifer Bamuturaki said the meeting underscored the need for bringing on board more women in top hierarchies of the sector like CEOs and pilots to encourage them to take up leadership roles.

She also handed over the AFRAA presidency to her Egyptian counterpart, who will host the 56th annual general meeting next year.

Source:  The East African

Navigating the Skies: The Reality of Carbon Offsets in Air Travel

In the wake of global efforts to combat climate change, the aviation industry has faced increasing scrutiny for its environmental impact. Responsible for nearly 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions, airlines are under pressure to adopt sustainable practices. One prominent approach has been the introduction of carbon offset programs, allowing passengers to pay extra to mitigate the environmental impact of their flights. However, the question remains: Does buying carbon offsets genuinely contribute to a greener planet?

Understanding Carbon Offsets

Carbon offsets operate on the principle of mitigating climate damage caused by carbon emissions. Passengers, concerned about their flights’ carbon footprint, can opt to purchase carbon credits. Each credit represents the reduction of one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions, typically generated from verified environmental projects. When these credits are used to compensate for emissions, they are retired, becoming carbon offsets.

The Role of Airlines

Over 50 airlines, including major carriers such as Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, and All Nippon Airways, offer passengers the option to buy carbon offsets. Despite this widespread availability, the voluntary nature of these programs results in a notably low uptake rate. According to Air Transport Action Group Executive Director Haldane Dodd, the participation rate is typically “very low,” with fewer than 5% of passengers choosing to offset their emissions through airlines.

Challenges in Uptake

Experts point to various reasons behind the low adoption of carbon offset schemes. The voluntary nature of these programs means passengers perceive them as an additional cost, potentially impacting travel budgets. With rising airfares and growing concerns about inflation, consumers are becoming increasingly cost-conscious. Although the pandemic has heightened awareness of green consumption, the financial considerations often outweigh the desire to offset carbon emissions.

Singapore Airlines’ Approach

Singapore Airlines, for instance, offers passengers the ability to calculate their carbon emissions and pay for offsets. Funds from these offset fees contribute to initiatives such as rainforest preservation in Indonesia, solar energy projects in India, and the distribution of clean-burning cooking stoves in rural Nepal.

While the intention behind carbon offset programs is noble, the current reality indicates a significant gap between intention and action. Addressing the low uptake of these initiatives requires a comprehensive understanding of consumer behavior, cost considerations, and effective communication about the tangible impact of offset contributions. As the aviation industry continues to grapple with its environmental responsibilities, finding ways to bridge this gap will be crucial in fostering a truly sustainable future for air travel.

Source: Airspace-Africa.

African airlines still face government-imposed financial pressures that exceed global norms

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is the global representative body for the airline industry, has again highlighted the problem of high commercial aviation costs in Africa and urged African governments not to increase them. These costs come from higher-than-global-average fees, levies and carbon and other taxes imposed on air transport, tourism and trade, by African governments. This is not only a problem for airlines, particularly African ones, who are still recovering from the Covid pandemic, but also for the economic development of the countries that are imposing such costs.

‘[In Africa] the average airfare is already 30% higher than the industry average and the jet fuel cost is 10% to 20% higher than the global average,” pointed out IATA regional VP Africa and the Middle East Kamil Al-Awadhi, in his address to the fifty-fifth annual general meeting of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), in Entebbe, Uganda. “Higher costs would discourage customers who are sensitive to prices, resulting in lower demand and revenue for airlines and other stakeholders in the aviation sector, such as airports, ground handlers, suppliers and air navigation services. They would also hamper economic development and limit the opportunities for job creation and income generation. High-cost leads to high price, which reduces demand and growth in a price elastic market, and ultimately affects connectivity negatively.”

He urged African governments to follow the policies of the intergovernmental International Civil Aviation Organization, on aviation charges and infrastructure. He further urged African States to consult with the industry and with airlines to create an operational environment that was fair and cost-effective and would bring the benefit of a better-connected continent.

Another major financial issue facing airlines in Africa was that of blocked funds, he cited. A number of African governments had banned the repatriation of money, accrued through ticket sales, by airlines based in other countries. In September, the global total figure for blocked airline funds was $2.36-billion; of that total, African countries were responsible for $1.68-billion.

“Aviation is capital intensive,” he pointed out. “Cash flow is key for airlines’ business sustainability – when airlines are not able to repatriate their funds, it severely impacts their operations and impacts their decisions on where to fly. But the risk of blocked funds is not just limited to airlines; the negative impact extends to the countries blocking the funds. It impacts the country’s economy and its connectivity, and it hurts investor confidence and reputation. Aviation is not only an economic enabler; it is a pillar of modern economies. Governments must prioritize aviation and find sustainable solutions in the clearing of blocked funds, and we continue to offer our support in any way we can.”

On the bright side, working together, IATA and AFRAA have had success in persuading a number of African governments to unblock airline funds, he reported. Since 2018 a “significant amount” of such funds have been released by Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. The two associations are also advising governments on the best practices to clear the backlogs of blocked funds.

Source: Engineering news

Moving the Needle: Empowering Travel Agents-KATA/Travelport Workshop.

This collaborative initiative, generously sponsored by Travelport Kenya, brought together KATA members and travel agents from the coastal regions for a look into our value proposition offerings for our members and partners, the diverse services offered by Travelport and future plans. Our endeavor is to partner and represent our members with even greater travel options and value.
Special thanks to: Nita Nagi, the Managing Director of Travelport Kenya, who graced the event with an insightful presentation with its zenith – a vibrant Q&A session where the industry’s’ pertinent issues were fully addressed.
In the ever-dynamic world of travel, where information is currency, KATA and our partner friends stand as pioneers, guiding our members towards a future where knowledge empowers and partnerships redefine the journey.
Here’s to a workshop that wasn’t just an event; it was a strategic move towards a more empowered and resilient community of travel agents.

SOURCE: KATA Media Desk.

El Salvador slaps a $1,130 fee on African and Indian travelers as US pressures it to curb migration

MEXICO CITY (AP) — El Salvador’s government has begun slapping a $1,130 fee on travelers from dozens of countries connecting through the nation’s main airport, amid U.S. pressure to help control migration flows to its southern border.

Since the end of October, citizens of 57 largely African countries and India have had to pay the fee, according to El Salvador’s aviation authority.

Aviation officials did not say whether the measure was aimed at reducing migration and have described the tariff as an “airport improvement fee,” but El Salvador’s government acknowledged an uptick in travelers from those countries this year. Also, the U.S. has been pressuring Central American countries to curb migration flows to its border with Mexico. U.S. authorities say they stopped migrants there more than 2 million times during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

El Salvador’s aviation authority said most passengers who have to pay the fee are headed to Nicaragua on the commercial airline Avianca. Because of its lax visa requirements, Nicaragua is a transit point for migrants from Haiti and Cuba, as well as from Africa, who are trying to reach the U.S.

Earlier this year, for example, U.S. officials were surprised by an increase in Mauritanian migrants arriving at the southern border. No natural disaster, coup or sudden economic collapse could explain it. Rather, travel agencies and social media influencers were promoting a multileg trip that took migrants from the west African nation to Nicaragua.

A flight itinerary of one Senegalese migrant seen by The Associated Press showed the migrant passing through Morocco, Spain and El Salvador before landing in Managua. The last two legs were aboard Avianca flights.

Source: Seattle Times

Kagame: Single African Air Transport Market Needed for Tourism Growth

Rich with tourism attractions, Africa remains poorly connected via air transport, making it difficult to market itself as a tourist destination within its boundaries and internationally.

Lack of viable transport polices among African states, high cost of air travel to Africa and within the continent, remains a barrier to the growth of the tourism sector.

Implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is therefore an important priority to connect Africa by air, Rwanda’s President Kagame said.

While the travel and tourism industry has recovered strongly globally, Kagame pointed out that the high cost of air travel to Africa and within Africa remains a barrier and the implementation of SAATM is an important priority.

SAATM is the unified air transport market aiming to boost the aviation industry on the continent by allowing free movement of airlines from one country to another.

President Paul Kagame said that implementation of the Single African Air SAATM will bring about positive development in tourism through air connection between each African state and other continents.

Kagame said during the just-ended World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) 2023 in Kigali that higher costs of air should be controlled through joint efforts by African governments as to attract more tourists within the continent and outside its boundaries.

“We should not lose sight of our own continental market. Africans are the future of global tourism as our middle class continues to grow at a fast pace in the decades to come. We must work closely together with partners, like the WTTC, to continue developing Africa into a premium destination for global travel”, Kagame told the delegates.

Latest report on tourism in Africa shows that travel and tourism could increase Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to $50 billion by 2033 and create six million more jobs by employing the right approach and galvanized efforts through viable investments.

Kagame said that Rwanda had identified tourism as a key driver of economic growth earlier on, and the results have not been disappointing.

“Every year, we welcome so many visitors who come to Rwanda to enjoy the unique natural beauty, attend sporting events, or participate in gatherings like this. This is a privilege and a trust that we don’t take for granted,” he said.

He said that conservation efforts were in place to build a more sustainable future and which have recognized Nyungwe National Park as a world heritage site.

Additionally, Rwanda had invested in the infrastructure and skills that would to host major sports events, including the Basketball Africa League.

He signaled that Rwanda had removed visa restrictions for citizens of every African country as well as many other countries, hence, inviting the delegates to visit different parts of Rwanda.

Co-organized by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the WTTC 2023 was the most influential annual summit on the travel and tourism calendar which brought together thousands of travel and tourism industry leaders, experts and key government representatives.

The WTTC had brought together tourism leaders and policy makers to continue aligning their efforts to support the growth of the tourism sector and then move towards a safer, more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future.

Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, commended the efforts of the Rwandan government in building the tourism sector which is the main contributor of the economy and employs a significant number of people.

These efforts have enabled Rwanda ranking among the top world’s 20 countries with ease of doing business on the continent and across.

Simpson added that the summit was an opportunity that would lead debates with governments and point out the need for policy shifts to develop a sustainable industry.

Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board Mr. Francis Gatare said that the WTTC global summit in Rwanda and Africa marked an incredible milestone for the continent’s tourism growth.

“It is also an opportunity for the world to see our country and experience the tremendous transformation that Rwanda has gone through and Africa’s dedication to sustainable tourism”, Gatare said.

Source: Eturbo news.