Marriott CFO to Speak at Barclays Gaming and Lodging Conference
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
Rwanda’s Urwagwa Banana Beer comes of age, now on the tourist map
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
How Well Do You Know Kinigi, Rwanda’s Tourism Hub?
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