Tuesday, 12 February 2013

VistaJet International Enters Uganda’s Market

VistaJet International, the world's luxury private aviation company for the first time landed one of its global aircrafts at Entebbe airport in Uganda and launched its operations in the country.
Revealing the arrival of the three weeks old jet in Entebbe recently, Thomas Flohr the founder and Chairman of VistaJet said the company is set to offer dedicated aircraft flying Ugandans to all corners of the globe. "Such booming markets deserve brand new state of the art aircraft rather than the ageing pre-owned aircraft they have been accustomed and this is what VistaJet is here to provide in Uganda," Flohr noted.
The company targets business men and government leaders who want to be flown directly into the destination they deserve to and at that particular time when they want to depart which is not the case with other commercial flights.
"The most important thing is the time the passenger wants to arrive at the given destination and so those who will use VistaJet will save time on delays due to connecting to airports," explained Flohr adding that the concept of private jets has been so much out of Africa but now is the time for the continent to go global.Ugandan business mogul, Charles Mbire said the world today is about price, cost and time while business is about efficiency and therefore competing globally in terms of business requires such avenues.
"The people targeted here are the ones who think and spend therefore the notion of African time and arriving late at business meetings on the side of Africans is phased out with the arrival of VistaJet," said Mbire.
In the year 2012, VistaJet carried 25,000 passengers on 10,000 single international flights. All transactions will be tabled between the client and the aircraft considering those with expected travels of between 100 and 600 flights per year. "We charge only for the time spent on the aircraft a concept termed as 'legs up and legs down' in aircraft business and when the passenger is done with conducting business.

Lamai Camp is Africa's Best New Safari Property

TANZANIA'S tourism industry continues to record best achievements globally with the latest recognition going to Serengeti's Lamai camp which won the 2013 award of 'Best new Safari Property' in Africa.
This comes shortly after the Serengeti National Park topped all global tourism destinations and named the 2013 global winner of International Award in Tourism, Hotel and Catering Industry. Lamai-Serengeti operates under the Arusha-based 'Nomad Tanzania,' and is tucked amongst the rocks of the endless Kogakuria Kopje plains, just a few miles from Mara River. "This is a prestigious award for us and further proof that Tanzania is one of the very best Safari destinations in the world," stated Mr John Corse, the Managing Director of Nomad Tanzania. With the additional global award for the park, he said Serengeti should emerge as the best area for tourism this year.
Serengeti National Park gets 350,000 tourists a year, earning the country more than 42bn/- and therefore becoming the third highest earner of tourism revenue after Mount Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro Crater. The Singita Faru-Faru Lodge in the Singita game reserve also topped in another category, 'Best property in East Africa,' in which other Tanzanian lodges like Nomad's Greystoke Mahale of Kigoma, Beho-Beho and Sayari camp also got listed in the top five.
Overall it was windfall for Nomad Tanzania because it was also listed in the 'Best Mobile Safari Operator' category and the 'Best Safari Guiding Team,' in Africa while the Singita game reserve produced other outstanding properties such as Singita Sabora camp, Singita Explore camp, Singita Castleton and Singita Grumeti Reserves and Riding Safaris. The official best safari operators, lodges, camps, guides and conservationists in Africa were recently announced in London at the 2013 Safari Awards said to be the 'Oscars of Safari,' which now runs in their fifth year.
The 'Oscars of Safaris' as they have become known, are very established with 90 finalists in 18 categories selected by a panel of eighteen of the most experienced and trusted independent safari specialist tour operators, based on over one thousand eight hundred votes from travel agents and tour operators globally.
The 2013 Safari Awards are not only about honouring the most expensive lodges, or most luxurious spa, but also features categories that range from 'Best Ecological Lodge or Camp' to 'Best Personal Contribution to Wildlife Conservation' and contribution to community and society development.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Total Solar Eclipse November 3rd in Uganda 2013

On November 3rd 2013, the total solar Hybrid eclipse will pass over Western Africa in Equatorial Gabon, Congo, Uganda, Kenya and finally Ethiopia. This is a hybrid eclipse of the Sun with a magnitude of 1.0159. Totality will be visible with the maximum of 1 minute 39 seconds visible from the Atlantic Ocean south of Ivory Coast and Ghana. This eclipse will be experienced in Northern Uganda (Apoka in Kidepo National Park) and Murchison Falls National Park. This eclipse of November 3rd is a Hybrid Eclipse which means that along the central section of the path it will be a very short total eclipse while at the beginning of the path there will be an annular eclipse. Hence the unofficial term "hybrid" being associated with this very special type of eclipse. The reason is that the darkest shadow of the moon doesn't quite reach the surface at those locations. Such a narrow and abrupt eclipse will come with a prominent presentation of the colorful Sinner most atmospheric layer of the Sun (the chromospheres) and a spectacular view along the axis of the Moon’s shadow. Satellite and surface measurements indicate that the weather prospect in northern Uganda and Kenya is the best along the entire 2013 eclipse track.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Murchison Falls Gains to Double

Revenue generated from Murchison Falls National Park is expected to double, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has said.
This projection is based on the aggressive marketing, development of new tourist attractions and the ongoing expedition led by Julian Fisher of the Royal Geographical Society. UWA executive director said during the 2011-2012 financial year, Murchison Falls National Park collected sh6.8b in revenue. "After 150 years, David Baker and his daughter Melanie are retracing the footsteps of their great grandfather, Sir Samuel Baker," said Seguya. "Fortunately, with the skills of the National Geographic Society and modern technology, we have been able to locate the exact spot where Baker stood the first time he saw Lake Albert," he added.
Addressing journalists at Paraa Sarova Safari Lodge last week, Fisher said: "People want responsible tourism in this century. I have traced Sir Samuel Baker's footsteps from Egypt through Sudan and finally to Uganda now." David Baker expressed awe as he admired the panoramic landscapes, listened to the waterfalls and bird songs at the lodge. "A lot has changed since my great grandfather first set foot here," said David.
"I was stunned when I went to Fort Patiko, where he fought slave trade. Using a mobile phone, my 98-year-old mother talked to the Acholi chief (Rwot). He has given me a blow horn to take to her as a gift!" he added. For two hours, David and Melanie climbed rocky outcrops, snuggled through forests and hopped over seasonal rivers to retrace their ancestor's footsteps. David said: "This is a new historical tourist attraction to add onto other products that have been developed in existing protected areas." "This is the only way we will have tourists staying longer, spending more money while here and have them so impressed that they will come again or recommend Uganda as a destination," he added.

Uganda’s New Tourism Law Gives Tougher Fines to Poachers to Get Tougher Fines

Following the review of the Wildlife policy for which consultations were concluded last year, Uganda intends to clear any grey areas in the wildlife legislation by moving to amend the 1996 Wildlife Act.
Among the proposed amendments in the draft, which was recently up for consultations at Grand Imperial hotel, is the issue of poaching and trading in wildlife products whose penalties - both fines and jail sentence - have been revised and made more punitive. For example, if you are caught hunting an elephant, the minimum you can pay - with the draft act - is Shs 200m plus ten years in prison. Yet previously it was at the discretion of the judge to decide the penalty. For businesspeople caught illegally trading in wildlife products, the fine shall not be less than the value of the products. Also, any other items such as a vehicle, gun, aircraft, or boat that one is caught with while carrying out the crime will be handed over to the government.
"We are also providing, under the amendment, that government will regularly publish in the gazette a list of wildlife species according to their conservation status so that if you are trading in elephants which is endangered, you shouldn't face the same penalty with someone who is trading in butterflies, where we have so many or someone trading in cockroaches," he said.
Previously, poachers and smugglers have been walking away with paltry fines, with some of the rulings raising eyebrows. For example, once a man who killed a gorilla was fined Shs 50,000. And recently, a trader who was caught with pangolin scales worth Shs 300m was fined Shs 200,000 at the Makindye Magistrate's court, where also the scales disappeared.
"We have raised the threshold for all existing offences. We want to see how these criminals will walk free,"
Oil and Gas
The draft has updated the law to take care of the emerging challenge of oil and gas activities in protected areas. At least 31 oil wells are found within protected areas.
"We are putting in place a provision, which requires that activities of oil and gas must recognize first of all the sensitive habitats and breeding areas for wildlife conservation, and must follow Environment Impact Assessment as provided by National Environment Management act." The current 1999 wildlife policy, which is under review, does not allow mining in protected areas, an anomaly that the new act seeks to regularise.
"We are creating a provision that harmonizes the activities of oil and gas together with wildlife conservation because when the law was made, oil and gas wasn't an issue. So, we are providing for coexisting of sustainable wildlife conservation and extraction of oil," said James Lutalo, the Commissioner, Wildlife Conservation, ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, who is heading the review of the act.
"Oil has come and it will have to be extracted. What we want is to minimize the damage it will cause. We are legalizing it so that activities can take place in a legal framework," he added.
The draft bill also seeks to harmonize the supervision of the sector. The intention is to spell out each one's role, including that of the minister. Some conservationists are worried that the draft bill has given a lot of powers to the minister. For example, the power to run the wildlife fund, which has been under the UWA executive director, has now been transferred to the board of trustees.
This board answers to the minister. Conservationists are worried that the minister might abuse his/her powers.
Not strong enough?
There are some who feel that the draft is not comprehensive enough. Dr Arthur Mugisha, the country representative Flora and Fauna International, says: "There is no major input in terms of looking at the challenges of the country for the wildlife and looking for appropriate legislation to address those challenges. What causes poaching? The land is becoming smaller and smaller. We need new strategies, policies and legislation."
Dr Andrew Seguya, the UWA executive director, says whereas UWA has rights over management of wildlife outside protected areas, it has no say in the land use within those areas. Yet land use is important because these are the habitats of the wildlife.
"These are very crucial things that have to be captured. How are we going to manage wildlife outside protected areas if we have no say in the land use, in the management of the wetlands, or the management of forests where wildlife is?"