Tag Archives: Eco-tourism

the IBIT TRAVEL DIGEST 3.11.12

A roundup of the good, the bad and the bizarre from the world’s best travel media.

© Christina Deridder | Dreamstime.com

KENYA: GOING BEYOND BUSH AND BEACH TOURISM
I’ve been saying for awhile now that there’s a lot more to Africa than just exotic wildlife. It looks as if the folks in charge of Kenya’s tourism agree.

According to media reports out of Nairobi, the Kenya Tourism Board is abandoning its focus on beach and safaris. Now, they’re looking to diversify their approach, touting the East African nation as a destination for multiple forms of upscale travel — among them cultural tourism, eco-tourism and sports travel.

Kenya also is looking to raise its profile as a prime African location for MICE — traveltradespeak for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.

(South Africa is the Mother Continent’s current leader for MICE tourism. Looks as if Kenya wants to break off a chunk of that lucrative market for themselves.)

All this is being done with an eye toward drawing more tourism from Europe and the KTB started pushing this updated concept of Kenyan tourism at the International Travel Bourse show last weekend in Berlin.

Kenya continues to draw international visitors despite its military clashes with al Shabab militias from neighboring Somalia.

For more on this story, check out this report from theNairobi Star.

“LOVE BOAT” TO THE BONEYARD
According to USA Today, the cruise ship that served as the floating set for the TV series “The Love Boat” ‐ and may well have helped launch the modern cruise industry as we now know it — is sailing toward an inglorious end.

The vessel formerly known as the Pacific Princess, has been sold to a demolition company in Turkey, where she’ll be cut up for scrap.

Apparently, she’s been laid up at a dock in Genoa, Italy for nearly a decade.

You can read the USA Today story here.

Those old enough to remember the show also will recall how huge we thought the ship was. In reality, she only held a maximum of about 600 passengers. Today’s mega-cruisers can hold more than that on one deck.

And now, here’s this week’s Digest:

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AIR
from the New York Times
Is there any way to make airplane food taste good? The airlines are trying everything — and I do mean everything.

from the New York Times
A couple of Sea World penguins get the celebrity treatment aboard a Delta flight. Not only do penguins fly, but in this case, they flew First Class. The humans loved it. VIDEO

from USA Today
The skies haven’t been that friendly of late for babies and parents. In one instance, TSA screeners denied boarding to a nursing mother. In another, JetBlue booted an entire family off a flight after their toddler went to DEFCON-5 with her tantrum.

LAND
from the New York Times
From how to save money on whale-watching in Hawaii to why your next pair of contact lenses should come from Thailand. A roundup of tips from the recent NY Times Travel Show.

from Budget Travel
A vacation rental site adds insurance to protect vacation home renters from nasty surprises.

from Frommer’s
Buy fragile things when you travel? Here’s how to pack them to survive the trip home. SLIDESHOW

SEA
from USA Today
The Costa Allegra, the container ship-turned-cruise ship that went adrift in pirate-infested waters off the East African coast after an engine fire, has probably sailed her last cruise. Her owners, Carnival Cruise Lines, say she will be sold or scrapped.

from USA Today
Another bit of fallout from the loss of the Costa Allegra — beleaguered Costa is cancelling its Red Sea cruises this year. The ship that was to be used in the Red Sea, the Costa Voyager, is being shifted to take Allegra’s place.

from USA Today
Carnival Destiny, the first of Carnival’s mega-sized cruise ships, is going to get one of the biggest makeovers ever done on a cruiser. By the time she re-emerges, even her name will be different.

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AFRICA
from Capital FM (Kenya) via allAfrica.com
Buoyed by what is sees as an improving global economy, British Airways is adding flight between London and the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

from The Chronicle (Ghana) via allAfrica.com
Aviation officials in Ghana say their citizens are being subjected to artificially high airfares, antiquated equipment and disrespectful treatment by flight attendants aboard foreign airlines. Accra is threatening retaliation if the foreign carriers don’t “come correct.”

from This Day (Nigeria) via allAfrica.com
Four years ago, Lagos welcomed the arrival of the first yacht hotel anywhere in Africa. Four years later, the Sunborn Yacht Hotel is a floating white elephant, yet to welcome a paying guest. PICS and VIDEO

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AMERICAS/CARIBBEAN
from The Associated Press via The Grio
In New York’s Harlem, the phenomenon of gospel tourism is increasingly filling the pews of dwindling black congregations with white European tourists. It’s proving to be a mixed blessing.

from Budget Travel
How well do you know New Orleans? Test your knowledge of the NOLA with this quiz.

from the San Francisco Chronicle
Mention the Amazon and the first place you’re likely to think of is Brazil. Add Peru to that list. Especially if the prospect of exploring the Amazon via a small luxury cruise appeals to you.

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ASIA/PACIFIC
from Voice of America
One year after being rocked by a devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, Japan is still trying to get tourists to come back.

from the Los Angeles Times
In Vietnam, the city of Hanoi is making a name for itself among international travelers looking for the best in Vietnamese cuisine.

from the Los Angeles Times
Another sign of growing affluence in China — a domestic wine industry.

from Your Singapore
Remember when Singapore was known for its staid, ultra-conservative lifestyle? The St. James Power Station is an old coal-fired powerplant converted into the ultimate nightlife venue — ten different bars and live music venues under one roof. (Wikipedia lists 11.) So much for staid.

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EUROPE
from TravPr.com
“Paris pour les femmes” means Paris for women. A European tour company is offering luxury tours of Paris—exclusively for women.

from The Guardian (London UK)
“Foodie” may be a dirty word these days among the travelerati, but if you’ve got a thing for both rustic Italian countryside and great Italian food, there are some places to stay in rural Italy that can satisfy both cravings.

from The Guardian (London UK)
And speaking of Italy, virtually every hotel in Venice is on an island, but this one has an island pretty much to itself, well away from the tourist mobs.

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WEST AFRICA JOURNAL: A new Gold Coast?

Slave fort, the former James Island, Gambia River |©Greg Gross

When it comes to travel and tourism, West Africa is sitting on a potential gold mine. Much work needs to be done, but the opportunity is clearly there, waiting.

There once was a British colony in West Africa called the Gold Coast. Built on trade, slavery and dedicated to the proposition that Africa existed solely to make Europe rich.

Look at West Africa today and you see the potential for a different kind of Gold Coast, a new mecca for international travel.

Thousands of miles of coastline. Unspoiled habitats. People with international reputations for welcoming visitors. How much more does one region need to succeed?

Resort tourism. Eco-tourism. Adventure tourism. Cultural tourism. Heritage tourism. Sport fishing. Surfing. Food. Music. Even high fashion. The nations of West Africa contain elements that lend themselves to any or all of this. And the region is perfectly positioned to take advantage.

Start with the geography.

Being close to the Equator gives it a warm tropical climate within an easy flight of Europeans ever eager to escape their brutal winters.

But the real surprise comes when you look to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. West Africa is closer to the United States than any other part of the Mother Continent.

That’s critical, because that geography also plays a key role in creating what may be the most powerful lure for West African travel: heritage tourism from the Americas.

Row of kora players, International Roots Festival, Banjul, Gambia | ©Greg Gross

The West African region was Ground Zero for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, a triangular route in the northern and mid-Atlantic.

At the height of its 400-year run, Europeans were taking captive Africans from eight principal regions on the Mother Continent; coastal West Africa covers six of them.

If you’re black and were born anywhere on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean, there’s a good chance that your DNA can be found somewhere here.

The success of Alex Haley’s book “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” and the wildly successful TV series that followed it, showed clearly the interest that black Americans have in learning about and reclaiming their African heritage. In West Africa, you can see that heritage for yourself, hear it, taste it, hold it in your hands.

From New York City or Washington DC, your flight to Dakar, the capital of Senegal, will last a shade over seven and a half hours. From Atlanta, about eight and a half.

If you’ve ever flown from the West Coast of the United States to virtually anywhere in Europe or Asia, you know that any flight under ten hours is a snap.

From South America, where the legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade is at least as strong — and the memory at least as painful — as it is here in the States, the flight times are even better:

  • Rio de Janeiro-DKR: 6 hrs, 14 min.
  • Caracas-DKR: 6 hrs, 41 min.
  • Montevideo-DKR: 8 hrs, 30 min.

But while Africa may be our heritage,black Americans — indeed, Americans of all races — generally lack the cultural familiarity with Africa that Europeans, with their colonial backgrounds, take for granted.

No part of the Mother Continent is better positioned to introduce Americans to Africa, and introduce black Americans to their African heritage, than West Africa.

Several West African countries are English-speaking while others are francophone. Americans who can culturally navigate London and Paris wouldn’t have much trouble finding their way around Banjul or Accra or Dakar or Abidjan.

Indeed, there already are travel agencies in the United States that sell tour packages to West Africa, many of them focusing on the history of the slave trade. But the possibilities are so much greater.

None of this will happen easily or overnight. Infrastructure is a huge need throughout the region. Some West African countries are still trying to escape the shadow of political violence. And there are health concerns to be conquered, not the least of which is malaria.

And for some, the mere act of trying to build a tourism industry will be a giant leap into unknown territory, for some have never really made a serious attempt to market themselves to travelers.

But if the nations of West Africa can stabilize themselves, attract the investment they need, focus their energies on building a tourism offering that makes use of their best attractions — and most of all, if they can cooperate with one another, West Africa could become one of the world’s greatest travel destinations.

A lot of big “ifs,” I know. But the way I see it, small dreams are a waste of sleep.