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Aleph Hospitality, a Dubai-based group has signed a franchise agreement with Marriott International to operate a Protea Hotel by Marriott in Kisumu, Kenya.

The hospitality company will be operating the hotel, which is due to open in January 2022, on behalf of the owner Bluewater Hotels.

Speaking about the property, Bani Haddad, founder and managing director of Aleph Hospitality said: “We are thrilled to work with Marriott International to bring the first internationally branded hotel to Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city.”

The hotel will feature 125 rooms with lake views, three food and beverage outlets, a rooftop infinity pool, gym, spa and a meeting space.

“As the hotel owner, we benefit from the reputation and distribution of a major global brand [Marriott], coupled with the regional knowledge and expertise of Aleph Hospitality, known for its world-class approach to independent hotel management,” Edward Guda, Managing Director, Bluewater Hotels, said.

The hotel marks Aleph Hospitality’s continued expansion in Kenya, following the signing of Best Western Plus Westlands, set to open in Nairobi in Q4, 2019 and two further properties, one in Mombasa and one in Nairobi, which are both under construction.

Source: HotelierMiddleEast.com

Leading travel writer and publisher of ATC News, Prof. Wolfgang Thome, has emerged as one the winners of the African Travel 100 Global Personalities Awards scheduled to take place on September 23rd at the 15th AKWAABA African Travel Market.

Prof. Thome, a German national arrived in Kenya in the mid 1970s and has lived on the African continent since, spending over four decades. In Kenya, he was active in tour operations, hotel operations and air operations, and after 17 years he moved to Uganda in 1992. Settling in, the Pearl of Africa, he went into academics and consultancy.

He became active in trade politics helping to rebuild the association framework in the tourism industry which had all collapsed after the liberation war. He helped to reactivate the hotel association, form the tour operators association, travel agents association and the umbrella body Uganda Tourism Association, which he served as president for almost eight years.

I always felt as a welcome guest in Kenya, in Uganda I’ve become part of the furniture. …when I came to Uganda I literally became Ugandan – not maybe by passport, but certainly by the feeling in my heart that I belong here.

– Prof. Wolfgang Thome

Prof. Thome is happily married. His wife is Ugandan and they met in Kenya while she was in exile. The genial and witty professor has lived in Uganda for over 25 years and was granted life residency some time ago. We, at More Cream Than Coffee® congratulate Prof. Wolfgang Thome.

The organisers of the East African Tourism & Hospitality Expo (EATHE 2019) cordially invites tourism professionals and stakeholders to the East African Tourism and Hospitality Expo Cocktail Party scheduled for June 28, 2019.

The cocktail get-together is expected to serve as an avenue for a sharing of knowledge among true experts in various field of the tourism industry in a relaxed environment with keynote addresses to be presented by a number of tourism industry stakeholders and industry speakers from the East Africa region.

All key tourism stakeholders such as hoteliers, tour operators and many others are cordially invited to attend the event which will commence at 18:30hrs on Friday June 28 at the MaasaLand Safari and Lodge Arusha, Tanzania.

Entrance is Free!

For enquiries and RSVP kindly contact: sales@mikonospeakers.com

EATHE 2019 is an important opportunity for stakeholders in the sector to meet and discuss opportunities and common challenges at a policy level and it all kicked off at the EATHE 2019 Floor opening, which took place on 22nd March, Friday at 5h20 in the auditorium of the Four Point by Sheraton.

The opening address was by the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Dr. Hamisi Andrea Kigwangalla, Mr. Deogratius Kilawe chairman of EATHE 2019 and Leona Lemomo, the CEO of Msafiri Tours. Present were delegates from airline companies, hotels, travel companies, the Open University of Tanzania, National Tourism College, ZATI and others.

Mikono Speakers was honored to host the honorable Minister for the first time in its events. He officially launched the registration for both Buyers and Exhibitors of the 3rd edition for East Africa Tourism and Hospitality Expo. Since he took office thenumber of tourist has grown from 1.1m per annum to 1.5m and he expects the number to increase to 2 million by 2019.

During his opening remark the Minister stated that the future of tourism in Tanzania is lie on three things. First, increasing the use of Artificial Itelligence (AI), this ease the experience for travelers all the way from flight and hotel bookings to assisting the country to know the number of tourist in the country at any given time. Second, empowering local people to benefit from Tourism.The ultimate benefit reaches local people through social services and from selling local products to tourists e.g. Cultural items, food etc. Third, diversification of tourism services and products e.g. conferences and soccer.

“To increase the number of tourist in Tanzania we need to focus on bidding international events. Tourism is not about leisure only, these events bring a lot of tourist at par. South Korea has been doing well in tourism because they bid number of events around the world and so far they control 30% of majors events and this is the main reason they have number of tourist in their country.” Said Deogratius Kilawe, Chairman of EATHE 2019.

Leona Lemomo the CEO of MSafiri travels who has been in the industry for over ten years added that “the major challenge facing the industry that needs to be solved will boost the growth of the industry in the Country is to open the Southern circuit to increase accessibility to local and international tourists.

According to the 2018 BMI report on Tourism in Tanzania, the industry is playing an increasingly important role in the global economy, contributing 5% of gross domestic product (GDP), 30 percent of service exports, and 235 million jobs. Indeed, each year, approximately 1 billion people travel internationally. By 2030, consumer spending on tourism, hospitality, and recreation in Africa is projected to reach about $261.77 billion, $137.87 billion more than in 2015.

From 1998 to 2015, service exports, including of “industries without smokestacks” such as tourism, have grown about six times faster than merchandise exports in Africa. Africa’s travel and tourism industry continues to record impressive growth over the years. In 2017, the continent hit a 63 million high in international tourist arrivals as compared to 58 M in 2016 (+ 9% vs 2016).

Africa’s share of international tourist arrivals is 5%. Europe’s share is 51%, Asia and the Pacific 24%, Americas 16% and the Middle East 4% respectively. Results were driven by the continued recovery in Tunisia and Morocco and strong performance in Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritius and Zimbabwe. Island destinations Seychelles, Cape Verde and Reunion recorded double-digit growth in arrivals.

The African economy has been gaining momentum, with the real output growth estimated to have increased by 3.8% in 2017 and expected to reach 4.1% by 2018/2019. Travel and tourism contributed a total of 8.1% to Africa’s GDP (USD 177.6 bn) in 2017. This percentage is expected to rise by 3.7% (to reach 12%) in 2018. Moreover, the direct contribution to the GDP stood at 3.3% in 2017.

The industry is also a major employer in the continent, supporting over 22 million jobs in 2017, approximately 6.5% of total employment. These include jobs directly & indirectly supported by the industry, and are expected to rise by 3.1% in 2018 to 23 million jobs.

Rise of international hotel brands is a key factor in the growth of the hospitality industry. Pipeline activity of 76,322 rooms in 418 hotels (with over 100 brands across Africa) have been reported in 2018. Of these, 47,679 rooms in 298 hotels are in Sub Saharan Africa, while North Africa recorded 28,643 rooms in 120 hotels.

In 2016, around 670 hotels and establishments were present in Tanzania, and we forecast robust growth in hotel numbers in the medium-to-long term, with the number of hotels and establishments expected to reach 830 in 2021.

Total overnight stays are expected to increase by 6.9% in 2017, reaching 14.0mn, with steady growth expected through to 2021. The average length of stay will remain stable, at around 9.6 nights, throughout the forecast period.

“We expect 2019 to have more than 2 Million tourists. Tanzania and Africa is vibrant melting pot for tourism: the diverse cultures, customs and traditions of our people, merged with the endless variety of our landscapes, blended with our unique biodiversity, tempered by our historical legacy, and fired by the spirit of freedom and equality, ” said the Minister.

However, he noted that if we are to be successful, everyone needs to pay more attention to the image and reputation of East Africa. “Not only through effective marketing, but by putting on a really great show when tourists arrive like Urithi Festival which is very important to give experience to tourists. Their word of mouth will do marketing for us and using social media begins the minute they arrive on our shores.”

The Minister adds that the East Africa Tourism and Hospitality Expo 2019 provides the ideal platform for African countries to work together. “A successful EATHE 2019 contributes to the success of tourism in all countries.”

Mr Kilawe added that, “Kilimanjaro is honored and privileged to host the Continent’s biggest tourism event in Africa. EATHE 2019 allows Kilimanjaro to be competitive in the tourism sector and brings the city a direct Tsh 2 billion revenue and an indirect longer term income of Tsh 50 Billion.”

East Africa Tourism and Hospitality Expo 2019 will have 2,300 meetings from 22nd – 24th November 2019, 400 exhibitors, 700 buyers and 144 media. Owned by Mikono Speaker, East Africa Tourism and Hospitality Expo 2019 is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and showcases the widest variety of Africa’s best tourism products and services.

The event attracts quality buyers from across South Africa, the African continent and the world and is co-located with World Embassy Festival 2019, Kilimanjaro Festival 2019 and Africa Food and Drink Expo 2019. EATHE 2019 will impart key stakeholders with realistic strategic plans that will play a major role in shaping the future of tourism in Tanzania.

The fifth edition of the Swahili International Tourism Expo (S!TE) will be held from 18th to 20th of October 2019 at Mlimani City Conference Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania‘s commercial capital.

Speaking at a press conference today in Dar es Salaam, the Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist board (TTB), Ms. Devota Mdachi said that unlike last year, S!TE 2019 is expected to attract 250 exhibitors and more than 400 hosted buyers and journalists from different countries such as: USA, Italy, UK, Russia, Germany, China, Singapore, Uganda, Seychelles, Mauritius, Rwanda, Kenya, Sweden, South Korea, Malaysia, India and South Africa, just to mention a few.

She called for government and private institutions to support the expo by extending sponsorship in different categories so as to make it a success.

Source: TTB Instagram page

KARIBU-KILIFAIR is the worldwide first tourism expo ever, to present a portfolio of 30 selected Prime Resorts & Hotels of East Africa in ONE dedicated area under one roof. The so called “Prime Resort area” is implemented in a specially decorated 1000 m2 marquee tent for maximum business & leisure opportunities given to exhibitors and their respective visitors.

Axel Janssens’s Signature Catering and his hand selected gourmet partners like Browns Cheese and Red & Wine Spirits, will exclusively indulge the “Prime Resort exhibitors & guests” with specialties of international &Swahili kitchen. Inaya Zanzibar & Spa is offering complimentary Body Treatment services to get a relief from the long fair days.

The 2019 KARIBU-KILIFAIR “Prime Resort area” is certainly one of the highlights of the fair – but only one of many attractions to be discovered from June 7-9th at TGT / Arusha.

Participating Prime Resorts (as of March 30th 2019):
AndBeyond, Arusha                                      
African Tulip Hotel, Arusha                           
Axel Janssens Signature Catering, Arusha  
Baobab Beach Resort & Spa, Diani – Kenya
Barazza Resort & Spa, Zanzibar                  
Bluebay Hotels Zanzibar                               
Breezes Beach Club & Spa, Zanzibar          
East Africa Camps, Arusha                          
Elewana Collection Afrika, Arusha               
Essque Zalu Resorts & Spa, Zanzibar          
Four Points by Sheraton, Arusha
Gran Meliá Arusha, Arusha                          
Grumeti Migration Camp, Serengeti            
Kili Villa Ltd, Arusha                                      
Mantis Hotel SerengetiMelia Zanzibar, Zanzibar
Melia Serengeti Lodge, Serengeti                
One Nature Camps, Arusha                         
Ramada Encore Dar, Dar es Salaam          
Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort, Zanzibar      
Serena Hotels, Arusha                                  
Sopa Lodges Tanzania, Arusha                    
Swahili Beach Resort & Spa, Diani – Kenya
The Nature Collection, Arusha                     
The Palms, Zanzibar                                     
The Retreat at Ngorongoro, Karatu              
The Zanzibar Collection, Zanzibar                
Tulia Zanzibar Unique Resort, Zanzibar       
Zawadi Hotel, Zanzibar                                 
Zuri Zanzibar Beach Resort, Zanzibar

If you followed the series “My Uganda Memoirs” you’ll probably have read where I mentioned doing the bungee jump on Saint Valentine’s Day while I was in Jinja in the country known as the Pearl of Africa. Jinja is regarded as the Adrenaline Capital of East Africa because of the several activities one can engage in in the town; from quad biking to whitewater rafting, cruises on the Nile, horseback riding, or even swimming with crocodiles! Okay, that’s a joke – no swimming with the crocodiles, please.

Jinja is also the place where the longest river in the world, River Nile originates from; so it is often called the Source of the Nile. For more about my Jinja experience please see: My Uganda Memoirs IX and XI, so you can get some background info.

With the quad biking action done, the bus returned to the Jinja Nile Resort with everyone, while those who signed up for the bungee jump made our way to the venue, which was around the back entrance of the resort. A few people had already gone ahead and started the bungee while we were busy on the quad bikes, but there was still a couple of people waiting to take the leap of faith when we got there.

Would you dare?

The first thing to do was to sign the indemnity form, followed by the weighing in, after which you proceed to the platform. You have enough time to change your mind as you walk up and start the climb up the steps to the platform.

All set…

At the weighing in, they ink your weight on your wrist, so once you get up the platform you show your wrist. This helps the guys there determine the necessary things to ensure your safety. They proceed to strap you into the harness. You sit down while they bind your feet together. The guys try to make you feel at ease. Once everything is set, you hop to the edge of the platform and raise your hands up and wait for the guys to give you the go ahead. Once they give the go ahead, you jump. Pretty simple, right?

Here we go…

You can have a million and one thing running through your mind at this time. I’ve heard tales of people who stood on that edge and refused to bulge after the go ahead. For whatever reason, they froze and had to be coaxed into taking the jump. Sometimes, I guess fear comes to people when they look down, so they tell people not to look down, or to close their eyes.

I wasn’t bothered and I looked down. No matter how much you try to steel yourself though, your heart starts racing as the rush builds up! I’m not sure I can describe what happens when you jump. You’re free falling until suddenly the rope jerks and you are upside down. You start a pendulum swing with spins which slows down after a while. For me, the rope didn’t jerk until I touched the Nile. The guy gearing me up had asked if I wanted to touch the water, and I said, “Yes.”

As the swing slows down to the barest minimum, a rescue team comes to get you. They are in a boat and they call out to you, asking you to open your eyes – usually most people have their eyes shut when they jump. Once you spot them, they stretch a paddle to you and you grab a hold of it and they easily bring you into the raft and unharness you.

That’s it?

So that’s it. I think I need to do this again. I’m really looking forward to an in tandem jump with a sweet young lady. I guess I should go in search of her…

The organisers of the Karibu-KiliFair have announced the dates for the 2019 edition of the travel and tourism expo.

Billed as the biggest and most opinion building Tourism fair in East Africa will be held from June 7th to 9th, 2019 (after Ramadan) at Friedkin Recreation Center, Arusha – formerly known as TGT grounds. The new venue gives us enough space to grow the fair by 60% to now 27,000 sqm.

What’s new for 2019?

  • New venue in Arusha – the “capital city” of Tanzania & East Africa Safaris
  • Larger and improved 27,000 Fair layout m2for 450+ exhibitors
  • 1500 m2Marquee tent for Premium Resorts & shell scheme business stands only
  • 1000 m2  Marquee tent for business networking, Buyer lounge and Press
  • New buyer “Cash pay back” program for 500+ international travel agents/buyers
  • App with buyer appointment rating opportunities
  • Facts & news can always be spotted at the modernized website kilifair.com 

Registration will soon open for those willing to take part in East Africa’s No 1 tourism B2B event this year.

This article was first published by Afro Tourism in the Uganda edition of S.E.E. AFRICA® magazine under the title So Much In Murchison Falls National Park.

*****

Situated in the northern part of the Albertine Rift Valley where the massive Bunyoro escarpment merges into the expansive palm-dotted Savannah of Acholi land is Murchison Falls National Park, the oldest and largest conservation area in Uganda, and one of the alluring pearls of the landlocked East African nation.

First gazette in 1926 as a game reserve, Murchison Falls NP is a massive 3,840km² expanse bisected by the Victoria Nile which squeezes through an 8-metre gorge cascading 45 meters over the rift valley wall to create the centerpiece of the park after which it is named – the Murchison Falls! The park is part of the Murchison Falls Conservation Area, the largest protected area in Uganda, along with the adjacent Bugungu Wildlife Refuge and Karuma Wildlife Refuge which works as buffer zones for the park. Also included is the Budongo Forest Reserve which overlaps both Bugungu and Karuma.

We arrived Murchison Falls NP ahead of schedule – two days ahead. We were supposed to spend those two days at the Kidepo Valley National Park, another of Uganda’s wonderful safari destinations, but due to the unpreparedness of the facility we were scheduled to stay in, we had to leave a few hours after we arrived – sadly. However, a few hosted participants, among them my colleague at the office, Nkiru Osuji remained in Kidepo Valley at a different facility.

After touching down at Pakuba airstrip, we hurriedly piled into a waiting safari Jeep and raced to catch the 18:00 ferry on the northern bank of the Nile at Paraa Crossing. Our new accommodation, Kabalega Wilderness Lodge was on the southern bank of the world’s longest river and we were not in the mood to wait the 30-minute interval idling on the banks for the ferry after such a long day. Thankfully, we made it to Paraa with about ten minutes to spare.

Kabalega Wilderness Lodge took us in eagerly and after a refreshing dinner we retired to our rooms for a well-deserved sleep. It was the kind of sleep you don’t want to get up from – and it’s not even because of being in a dream. Well the sleep had to be disrupted because of an early morning game drive. We had to head out early with our breakfast packed to catch the first ferry at 07:00.

Game drives take place only on the northern side of the park, a savannah with Borassus aethiopum (African fan palm), acacia trees and riverine woodland, while the south is dominated by woodland and dense forest patches.

It was a rewarding game viewing experience that lasted well past 11:00 as we drove through. We spotted a sleeping lion a safe distance, as well as elephants, buffaloes, impalas, giraffes, colobus monkeys, warthogs, birds of various species and hippos. The pick of the day was when we drove past the ruins of the old Pakuba Safari Lodge and spotted a hyena trapped between two porcupines.

Pakuba Safari Lodge used to be the choice spot and a favorite of the late Ugandan despot, Idi Amin. After he was ousted, the lodge was looted and destroyed and all that remains is a dilapidated structure that has become a haven for wild animals, since efforts to rebuild it has not materialized. Unfortunately, we failed to get a good shot of the hyena and porcupines.

On another early morning drive after moving in to Paraa Safari Lodge on the northern, we spotted a pride of lions feasting on a fresh kill. By this time, the team from Kidepo Valley had joined us and we crossed the Nile together to  the south banks, before a drive down to Budongo Forest Reserve to track chimpanzees. We also had a drive after another crossing to the south banks to get to the top of the waterfalls.

We did enjoy an afternoon river cruise to the falls and spotted a host of animals such as hippopotami, waterbucks, elephants, water buffaloes, crocodiles and several bird species. Murchison Falls NP certainly teems with game and some animals like elephants and warthogs even roam close to the lodges.

Now that’s another impressive bit about the park – the accommodation facilities are quite good. They range differently in value, but what we saw on a site inspection to the various places were nice. Paraa Safari Lodge has to be the pick of the pack in the entire park. Others like Bakers’ Lodge, Murchison River Lodge, Kabalega Wilderness Lodge, Nile Safari Lodge and the new Pakuba Safari Lodge are nice too.

By and large, Murchison Falls NP is one of those places to visit, especially if you love safaris and game viewing. The 1951 movie, The African Queen was filmed in the park on Lake Albert and the Nile. Several British royals and other notable personalities such as Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway, among many others have visited the park. Well, I guess you can add my name to that list!

*****

For more about Murchison Falls NP, and Uganda in general search for the series: My Uganda Memoir on the site.

Feb 16, 2017

Today was dedicated to site inspection and after breakfast, we left the Kampala Sheraton Hotel and visited the Munyoyo Commonwealth Resort and its sister facility, the Speke Resort & Conference Center.

Driving in…
Some light refreshment to welcome us…
…and the inspection begins…
Swimming pool…
Conference room…
Gym…
Ballroom…
One of the rooms…
Oh my! Is Prof being arrested?
A room…
Another pool by the lake…
Lake Victoria…

We spend quite some time exploring Speke Resort & Conference Centre and the Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort, and at some point I couldn’t tell any more which was which. After we were done, we left, driving on to Cassia Lodge for another round of inspection.

View from Cassia Lodge set on a hill overlooking the lake…
Restaurant…
A room with a great view…
Enjoying the view…

Our final port of call was the massive Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa, an impressive stretch of class. After we had gone round, the facility, we had lunch at the Kalangala Hall, one of the restaurants within the facility.

Arrival at Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa
As we wait for a briefing Richie does his thing…
Swimming pool…
Views…
One of the rooms…
Kalangala Hall…
Lunch was welcomed and good…

We returned to Kampala Sheraton Hotel afterwards quite tired. Some people went out to check a nearby facility which we noticed as we drove into our hotel, but I just went straight to my room to rest and await dinner.