eeny Oberg, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAR), will speak at the Barclays 2017 Gaming, Lodging, Leisure, Restaurant and Food Retail Conference, to be held on Wednesday, December 6. Ms. Oberg’s remarks will be at approximately 3:05 p.m., Eastern Time, and will be webcast live.
To access the webcast, please go to http://www.marriott.com/investor, and then click on the link to the “Barclays Gaming and Lodging Conference” under “Recent and Upcoming Events.”
The webcast will be available until March 5, 2018 at the same site.Read More
You may ask yourself what a refined and polished tourist from New York who has jumped off the plane at the Kigali International Airport and traveled to Musanze has in common with a rustic and weather-beaten Nyakinama village when you see them walking and chatting together along a small strip of road behind the imposing buildings of Musanze Village Polytechnic, seven kilometres west of Musanze town, northern Rwanda. The answer is Red Rocks Cultural Centre.
Both have a common interest that can be summed up into learning from each other’s culture. Since its establishment in 2011, Red Rocks Cultural Centre has established different programmes that help in promoting tourism, conservation and community development, and in this regard it has also helped in promoting activities that help to bring people of different backgrounds around the world to share their unique cultural experiences.
Jeanne Sauer, a tourist from Germany, says when she came to Rwanda her main purpose was not to see the famous mountain gorillas in their natural habitat around the Virunga massif, but to also experience what Rwandan people have to offer in terms of their culture.
“I had read about Rwanda and this is the country I had put on by bucket-list to visit one day. A quick Google search introduced me to Red Rocks and the amazing activities they provide there. I said this is a country I have to visit and here I am at Red Rocks, relishing my dreams,” she says.
The dream Sauer must be talking about is the various cultural activities that she found being carried out at Red Rocks. She says when she asked the staff about how she could spend her time enjoying the real cultural heritage of Rwanda, she was told that there are many activities that the local women here are engaged in, including making of authentic traditional Rwandan handicrafts, and of course demonstrating how to make the traditional beer.
“I wanted to have a first-hand experience of making the traditional beer. This is when they called a group of women who came with raw materials, precisely ripe bananas and the millet to help in making the final product,” she says.
Preserved and unchanged by a few die-hard loyalists, the brewing of Urwagwa – a local brew made out of crushed bananas – remains faithful to an ancient formula handed down over generations in Rwanda.
“The women, through their interpreter, led me through the whole process, and what I discovered is that it was not an industrial scale process as we know it but just putting your energy and effort into it,” says Sauer.
Like most traditional skills, the recipe and process for brewing Urwagwa is mostly handed down from father to son.
Jeanne Uwangabiye, a 52-year-old woman from Nyakinama village, says she picked the tips from his grandfather who would not substitute Urwagwa with any other beverages. She finds it appropriate to lead tourists through the process, which begins with obtaining ripe bananas and pressing them with grass to yield slightly clear juice.
The contents of the tank are then stirred and the leaves squeezed to remove residual juice which can effectively be obtained through using a small amount of water.
After that sprouted, lightly roasted or ground millet is poured on top of the juice which thereafter is covered in banana leaves and kept in a warm area for three days and this is why some times the mixture is buried in the ground to allow fermentation.
The process of fermentation happens because there are enzymes present in the sorghum which facilitate the breaking down of banana starch that is eventually acted upon by the yeasts and bacteria. Those who prefer enjoying the drink while it is as clean as possible may have to filter it prior to consumption.
“What I liked most about this experience is drinking what I had brewed with my own hands. It made me realize how life can be simple,” says Sauer.
Another tourist from the US, Fredric Fitzgerald, says he learned about the skills of making the traditional beer in a home in Nyakinama village when he went for a homestay.
“It was exciting to see how the people around there are able to use simple ingredients to make such stuff. And the taste was not all that bad!” he quips.Read More
A trip to Kinigi, outside the main Musanze town in northern Rwanda, makes you interact with nature. Musanze itself has established a reputation as Rwanda’s tourism hub for many reasons. However, for most tourists who come to Rwanda, Kinigi’s mountain gorillas are always on their bucket-list.
When looking for outdoor activities, the place to be is definitely the Volcanoes National Park. This, according to tour operators, is home to a variety of wildlife that include the mountain gorillas. Furthermore, preserved within the Volcanoes National Park are the three Virunga Volcanoes: Sabinyo, Bisoke and Karisimbi. These are part of the eight volcanoes making up the Virunga Massif which straddles Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda.
According to Ferdinand Ndamiyabo, a tour guide with Thousand Hills Tours, the main tourist attractions in Kinigi includes: gorilla tracking, golden monkey tracking, nature walk, as well as hiking Bisoke, Karisimbi, Muhabura and Gahinga mountains.
Ndamiyabo adds that most of the tourists who visit Kinigi come specifically for tracking the gorillas, though he is quick to add that Kinigi itself has so much to offer apart from the mountain gorillas.
“These primates have been extensively marketed as the main attractions of Rwanda’s tourism industry. However, visiting Kinigi itself and seeing what nature provides, together with the cultural activities carried out within the area, is going to introduce you to what more Rwanda has to offer,” says Ndamiyabo.
Amos Tega, also a guide working with the same tour firm, says the move by the Rwandan government through the Rwanda Development Board (RDD) to increase gorilla trekking fees from $750 to $1500 eventually is going to be a blessing in disguise since this is a prudent move to protect the mountain gorillas, which have become the flagship of the country’s tourism industry.
“Without the gorillas, Rwanda tourism industry naturally will not stand on its feet. Many tourists to Rwanda come just to see the primates in their natural habitat though Rwanda has so much to offer like bird watching and cultural tourism. However, hiking the gorilla fee by the government was a long-term investment to preserve these species and within two to three years, we are going to see what the policy makers at RDB foresaw,” says Tega.
Tega adds that now is the time for Rwanda diversify its marketing strategy, saying Kinigi itself has so much to offer for adventure tourists who just “want to experience the other side of Rwanda”.
Greg Bakunzi, the managing director of Amahoro Tours and founder of Red Rocks Rwanda, a cultural exchange center based in Nyakinama village, mentions some of the things tourists can enjoy for free in Musanze and Kinigi in particular, including excursion to the Twin Lakes, hike to the waterfalls of Musanze, walk to the local villages, enjoying scintillating music and dance by the evergreen Intore dancers and a visit to local community projects such as local arts and crafts markets and schools.
“Although those events are free of charge, it shouldn’t stop you from making a donation to the community depending on how much you’re satisfied,” says Bakunzi.
The tour operator adds that among the most recognizable tourism attractions in Kinigi is visiting the Musanze caves and the Dian Fossey Tomb.
According to Remarkable Rwanda (Tembera U Rwanda) website, a move by RDB to promote domestic tourism, the 1.25-mile long Musanze caves are located just outside of the town they share a name with, and are only a 90-minute drive from Kigali. With an enormous opening (and an equally huge number of bats resident inside), the greenery outside spilling over into the twilight within makes for a fantastic photo opportunity. Caves were used as a shelter during wartime for many centuries leading right up into the modern era, and as such, it’s an important site to local people. Thus, out of respect for the area’s residents, access is limited to guided visits.
Bakunzi says visiting the Dian Fossey Tomb in Kinigi is among the most sought after safari activities which is carried out when visiting Volcanoes National Park for a gorilla trip. The walk to the tomb also affords good views of forest hogs, forest elephants, a variety of primates and bird species.Read More
Local tourism and hospitality sector players have welcomed the initiative by African Development Bank (AfDB) to support diversification of tourism business, saying it will help make the industry more competitive and attractive. Commenting on the development, Osborn Kinene, the Rwanda Eco-Tours chief executive, said diversifying the tourism industry presents industry investors and other stakeholders, including communities surrounding tourism sites and national parks an opportunity to expand offerings and attract more visitors.
While speaking during the World Tourism Day celebrations in New York last Wednesday, the African Development Bank (AfDB) president, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said the continental funder was renewing its support for the tourism industry, focusing on projects that seek to promote diversification of tourism on the continent. The annual event is organized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Rwanda Development Board projects the tourism sector to generate about $444 million in 2017, up from $404 million recorded last year. Meanwhile, Adesina has called for strong public-private sector partnerships geared at supporting and promoting sustainable tourism development in Africa.
He added that Africa’s tourism and travel industry can serve as an engine of progress for socio-economic transformation. Adesina challenged Africa’s tourism and travel industry players to work together and bring up innovative ideas and initiatives that will help revolutionize the sector.
He added that the cultural and creative industries, such as textiles, fashion, food, culinary, arts and film present huge untapped potential that could help boost tourism on the continent, and create jobs and spur incomes of communities.Read More
In contrast to a lot of other airlines, rapidly expanding on the back of massive government pride programs or compulsively delving into opulence way beyond the spirit of their initial charter, RwandAir seems to earnestly reflect the new-found optimism of the country without exaggeration. Just as Kigali is a neat and well-groomed city rather than a hollow, high-rise metropolis, so the national carrier is a relatively small, but impressively well-oiled machine – and nowhere is this more apparent than from a customer’s perspective.
As a foreigner with a professional network spread over East Africa, I clock up quite a few days on the road in the region yearly. However, the unpredictable nature of the entertainment industry makes it infeasible to rely on solely one mode of transport when moving around – as is the case for most travel here. In addition to this, I’m an aviation geek, and my travels in the region more often than not find me at an airport, ready to sample yet another airline offering more or less comfortable flights at a more or less competitive price point. Of course, coaches are cheap and reliable, but when time is of the essence, you can’t beat flying – and nothing beats the thrill of roaring down the runway before seeing the lovely landscape unfold below you, at least in my book.
A few days of meetings and networking in Nairobi recently, gave me the opportunity to sample some of the very newest aircraft trawling East African skies. With an average age of around 6 years, RwandAir really does have a thoroughly modern, eco-friendly and efficient fleet. New planes, however, are no match for flaws in other aspects of customer experience, so I was very interested to see how the crew and facilities stacked up to their impressively fresh aircraft.
Date: 9th March 2017
Aircraft: 9XR-WQ, 737-800, delivered Nov. 2016
Duration: 1 hour
Entebbe Airport is compact and easily navigated. The staff are sometimes very friendly, at other times very formal and cold. In other words, not the greatest airport in the world, but far from the worst. I had a late morning flight out, which is a time of day when Entebbe does not receive fully-laden flights from far-off destinations and everything moves at a leisurely pace. Such was the case on this lovely March day: check-in went smoothly, as did the passage through immigration before the departure lounge revealed itself fairly empty. boarding had not yet started, so I enjoyed a cup of coffee along with the free WiFi offered by the airport.
After having gone through the pre-boarding and subsequent wait, I was happy to board the almost brand new 737-800 aircraft. It had the “new plane smell” that I all too infrequently experience, but so much the better on the few occasions I do get it. The 3-a-sideslim leather seats made for excellent leg room, and with around a 50% load, there was ample room to recline the seats and lift the arm rests, making the amount of personal space very generous. A very smartly dressed, efficient crew made sure we were all properly strapped in for an on-time push-back and taxi. Shortly after takeoff, they were there, offering drinks and making ready for a meal service. And what an impressive meal service! In addition to some very tasty chicken, we were served a roll of bread –with butter and cheese– and cake for dessert. Hot food on a 1-hour hop is not something you can get for free back home (and for economy passengers, they hardly even stock snacks), so this was a very pleasant surprise. The drinks were also kept coming, and before I could say chin-chin to my seat neighbor, we were approaching JKIA and Nairobi. Clearing immigration was a breeze, and I met my ride outside easily.
Date: 12th March 2017
Aircraft: 9XR-WI, Canadair CRJ-900, delivered Oct. 2012 & 9XR-WL, De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400, delivered Feb. 2014
Having concluded my business in Nairobi, I was looking forward to another day of flying, this time in two different RwandAir aircraft, both of which were relative newcomers to my own flying experience. I have flown each of these aircraft only a handful of times, and while I am never averse to 737’s and Airbuses, it’s always refreshing to be taken for a flight on other birds as well.
I like JKIA for departures. The modular nature of their main terminal means you’ll never feel extremely crowded, as only a handful of flights are checking in at any one time in the same area as you – as was the case on this day. In fact, the only other departure from Terminal 1C at the same time as us, was an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa, and it seemed that most of their passengers were already through by the time I arrived. It was evident from talking to others I was queueing with, that a fairly large contingent was travelling together, heading to Bujumbura. They were in a good mood for travelling, and I could tell this was going to be an entertaining flight.
Canadair regional jets are definitely smaller than Boeing 737’s, but with the 2×2-configuration, we were all very comfortable. RwandAir does offer a business class product on these aircraft, with a more comfortable 1×2 configuration, but no upgrades were offered to the six seats – of which only one was taken for this flight. The upgrades, however, were not needed. The party bound for Burundi lived up to my expectations, providing raucous entertainment for the 75 minutes the flight lasted. It was all further fueled by the generous servings of food and drink the very professional and pleasant crew offered up throughout the flight.
As we landed in Kigali, our ways parted inside the compact, yet airy departures lounge of Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport. Despite a relatively long queue, my passport was checked quickly, and I had a quick look around before deciding to spend $ 25 on access to the Pearl Lounge for the duration of my stay – which was scheduled to be around 4 hours. The lounge was nice, with plenty of areas to sit and relax, as well as a work area for the large number of business travellers who need to be available or to finish the report that was due yesterday. There was free WiFi in the lounge, and this worked perfectly fine, even though I suspect it would struggle quite a bit if it wasn’t for the relatively few people apparently using it. There was a modest amount of food available, both hot and cold, and while this was all fine, it did not blow me away to the same degree that the service aboard the RwandAir aircraft had done.
After a good session of work, some food and a couple of cold drinks, I was ready to head down to the day’s second flight, taking me back to Entebbe. I did end up sitting in the gate area for a lot longer than I had needed. Oh well, maybe I was a little restless to get back up in the air. As soon as boarding did start, we got on the bus that would take us to the aircraft pretty quickly. There was only one snag, an aircraft chartered by the government to transport soldiers was disembarking along our route, and if you’ve ever been to the circus and seen the clowns coming out of the small car (they just keep coming and coming, endlessly), well, it was a little bit like that. We stood for a good 15 minutes waiting for all the soldiers to exit before our bus driver gave up and took a detour around the scene.
Our DHC-8-400 was very fresh looking, and the seats were the most comfortable I have ever experienced in aircraft of this size. Despite the slight delay getting to the aircraft, this was quickly recovered by an efficient crew, and a fairly light load of passengers. Even on this short 50-minute flight, a hot meal and free drinks was served. The service was very professional and pleasant, as I had now come to expect from RwandAir.
All in all, travelling within East Africa on RwandAir was a thouroughly pleasant experience which I would have no qualms about repeating. I am now also eagerly looking forward to sampling their new long-haul service to Europe. Let me just get my calendar…
The writer is the managing director of East African RecordsRead More
Singita, is set to launch their latest venture on a breath-taking, isolated but contained, 188 acre piece of land, right on the edge of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. Singita Kwitonda will be built to embody the spirit of Rwanda and offer a tribute to the lodge’s namesake – Kwitonda – a great silverback gorilla whose legend lives on in Rwanda and was known for his humility and gentleness. This remarkably positioned site offers a buffer between the farmland of the region and the national park where Rwanda’s iconic gorillas live.
The mountain gorillas of this region are Rwanda’s treasure and have flourished in the last decade, thus the Rwandan government is striving to find ways to increase their habitat. This is where Singita can provide support. Singita is about building sustainable revenue streams to support conservation efforts in Africa, and the government’s objective to grow the gorillas’ habitat aligns closely with Singita’s mission to create low-impact tourism to help preserve areas of iconic African wilderness for future generations. Singita was established in 1993 in South Africa and has set the bar for high-end safari escapes in Africa ever since, balancing a philosophy of preserving and protecting land and wildlife with the wellbeing of local communities. It is this conservation model that Singita is proud to be able to extend into Rwanda.
COO of Singita, Mark Witney comments: ‘The favourable environment and government’s commitment to develop tourism have made Rwanda a very attractive conservation development partnership for Singita. For our guests, a once-in-a-lifetime itinerary that includes a seamless transfer between our Serengeti properties in Tanzania and Rwanda covers two of the real ‘bucket list’ items on a seasoned traveller’s list – the Serengeti plains and the gorilla experience of the Volcanoes National Park. We’re honoured to be a part of this opportunity in Rwanda and furthermore extending Singita’s important conservation efforts across this magnificent continent’.
Singita’s established brand in the high-end tourism segment will attract influential world travellers who have a heightened awareness of the plight of wilderness and wildlife in Africa and want to be part of the solution.
Planned to open in August 2019, Singita Kwitonda will offer 8 suites and a villa with magnificent views of the Sabinyo and Gahinga volcanoes. Sustainability is at the core of the construction project. Paul Milton, CEO Singita Private Partnerships, states ‘We ran a sustainability framework in the design stage to ensure that what we are designing is as efficient as possible. For example a thermal analysis was completed in order to minimise energy usage given we’re positioned in a cool and temperate environment’. Great lengths have been taken to engage with specialists to create a light foot print and maximum energy efficiency on so many levels.Read More
Gorilla trekking is one of the best adventure tourist activities in the world. Uganda and Rwanda are some of the world’s best destinations for gorilla trekking safaris in Africa. The Volcanoes National park in Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda hosts the largest number of mountain gorillas hence the biggest gorilla trekking experience.
Here are 10 things to know about gorilla trekking in Africa:
- The experience is expensive
Gorilla Trekking is an expensive activity. In Uganda , the permit to see the mountain gorillas cost US$ 600 while in Rwanda it costs US$ 750. To that note therefore, many clients find it hard to pay for gorilla trekking permit, Air ticket, Visa and so on.
- The trekking requires maximum level of fitness – many people likes gorilla trekking but experience is strenuous and it involves climbing mountains and sloping down, crossing rivers and moving through slippery trails among others.
- Some forests habour dangerous insects, animals and reptiles. The fact that Gorilla trekking is conducted in Forested areas, trekkers stand higher chances of getting Malaria from Mosquitoes, Sleeping sickness from Tsetse flies among others. However, we advise all our clients to move with mosquito repellent.
- Gorilla trekking is tiresome – trekking involves moving through the forest while searching for the mountain Gorilla and the time to meet Gorillas in unpredictable and some times takes a full day.
- Gorilla permits are on a very high demand and are booked in advance yet some clients prefer paying on arrival. Any delay to pay for the permits can make a client miss trekking when all gorilla permits are sold out.
- Gorilla permits are non refundable -once the client has paid for the gorilla permit and misses to come on the safari then, the Uganda wildlife Authority (UWA) OR Rwanda development Board (RDB) will not make refund by can only allow rescheduling.
- Gorilla tracking starts early morning yet some people find it hard to wake up early especially on cold days. Early in the morning, Gorilla trekking trails are filled with fog and dew which hinders visibility and smooth walking to meet Mountain Gorillas.
- Gorilla trekking is strictly done under instructions – only one hour is given to stay with Gorillas, No flash cameras, 7 metres distance must be left between Gorillas and the trekkers among others. Some people are not used to strict instructions.
- Gorilla Tracking is Safe!
Many travelers think that gorillas are violent creatures and thus can cause harm to human beings. However, gorillas are peaceable animals unless provoked. once you follow the set gorilla watching rules, you will definitely enjoy the company of these great apes safely.
- There are strict rules to gorilla tracking that follow ecotourism. Children below 16years are not allowed to trek Gorillas yet some parents prefer trekking Gorillas with their children. Only one hour is allowed to stay with Gorillas –some clients find it less to maximally view gorillas and take photos.
Currently car hire in Rwanda has become popular trend of travel in the land of a thousand hills. When it comes to the ground transportation fraternity, organised travel can easily be attained if you decide to work with car rental agencies. This is normally used by independent travelers on a self drive car rental in Uganda. Remarkably, renting a car in Uganda has been so useful to visitors traveling to Uganda since they are convenient, safe, and reliable to take the travelers at any place they are practically or still be un-farmiliar with.
On the same note However, self driving in Rwanda can be disastrous if you are never careful. This can be validated by you hitting the internet and see how some customers complain about them due to the high costs they land in after using the car rentals as some car rental companies hire cars to customers without insurance coverage and pretend to have. Not well services and there are also overwhelmingly hidden fees that are not explained to the customer before hire.
So we are here to enlighten you on how to avoid Rwanda car rental nightmare:
Know what car suits your travel needs.
Continuously, most people make a mistake of under estimating the need or finding out what car best suits the needs of their travels and just go for expensive car rental yet there are those cheap cars in Rwanda purposely for a specific need. Say adventure, business car rental or corporate car hire. Example if you are going for a Rwanda gorilla safari, ask yourself which car suits the tour, read about the terrain of the Virunga volcanoes and know in detail which car maneuvers the terrains. Vehicle with high ground clearance would perfectly fit your needs.. The most recommended cars for safaris are the Toyota land cruisers, Toyota RAV4s and the Nissan patrols reason behind is these are sport utility vehicles with 4WD with reasonably high ground clearance vehicles. On the other hand if you are going for a city tour around Kigali city and the neighboring towns of Musanze, Huye or Karongi with about two persons,best recommended use a compact car.
Book a car rental in advance
Like the old saying goes, The early bird catches the worm and this works well in Rwanda car rental business due to the high demand and growing car rental demand and yes, in the high tourist seasons. If you start searching and booking your car rental earlier than the date you intend to travel, you have the time to look for a best car rental as you have all the time to search and also bargain for better offers getting the best car rental deals. There is always room for you to control the car rental deals in that you tell the car rental company whatever you want in the car rental service that is the size of the car, specification and the prices
Ask for the disclosure of all the prices included in the car rental package
In every business on the internet, there are always attractive prices displayed on the websites and there are always additional costs behind the enticing price on the internet. So you have to play your part and tell the car rental company in Rwanda to stipulate each and every expense you may incur while using the car rental services in Rwanda. Some of the hidden costs are fuel refill fees, early return fees, limited mileage, road taxes, and airport parking fees. So make sure all these are included and explained to you in the car rental clause and the car rental agreements so that you can easily budget for your car rental in Rwanda.
Ask if the car rental in Rwanda is comprehensively insured
It’s a mandate from the government of Rwanda that every car rental in Rwanda must be insured against third party, comprehensive insuarance is recommended and yes never hire a car in Rwanda without comprehensive insurance because if you land in trouble and in cases of damages, all the costs caused will be apportioned onto you. Very much recomended make sure that has third party insurance and comprehensive insurance where by the car is covered against all cost it may cause while traveling.
Considerably following the above advice well, you are more likely to avoid the nightmares that may be attached to Rwanda car rental and definetly enjoy your self drive car rental in Rwanda.Read More