Kenya organises cultural festival to promote tourism

Kenya is holding a cultural festival in Mombasa to attract tourists.

The event, which was launched on Wednesday, would run for four days and would provide a platform for various groups to showcase cultural events. It is expected that the event would provide a window to the rich cultural legacy of the nation and also boost tourism in the coming years. The festival is being organised by the Research Institute of Swahili Studies of Eastern Africa in association with the Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association (MCTA). The events are to be held at the Fort Jesus Museum.

The theme of the festival is ‘towards peaceful co-existence through culture to promote tourism’. Authorities devised the event in order to beat falling number of tourists and also to address concerns that the culture of the nation was not adequately being highlighted to tourists.

MCTA executive officer, Millicent Odhiambo, said, ‘What we want to spread is a message that Mombasa is safe for tourists. We are all aware the numbers into Mombasa has taken a nose dive and businesses are suffering. This will directly impact on the lives of people living in this region. The Cultural Festival, we hope, will express to the world, Coast is safe and like Lamu build it to an annual festival that attracts the world into the Mombasa county.’

The cultural festival will include more than 15 activities including a fishing competition, henna designs, poem reciting competition, traditional dances and others.

GTMC Narrows Ten Most Required Routes from London

Guild of Travel Management Companies, a UK-based professional association of travel companies, is reporting that the UK is currently in need of at least 10 new direct air routes to support its business travellers.

The top 10 most urgently required new direct air routes from London Heathrow airport includes Bogota (Colombia); Brasilia (Brazil); Chengdu (China); Dammam (Saudi Arabia); Douala (Cameroon); Lima (Peru); Panama City (Panama); Phuket (Thailand); Santiago (Chile); and Shenzhen (China).

The association chairman, Ajaya Sodha, said, ‘Any discussion about increasing airport capacity in the south-east hinges on its link to growth.

It is business travellers that ‘do the deals’ that will mean more exports, investment and jobs for the UK economy and they need to be able to access target markets easily and speedily.

We urge the government to insist that any decision on allowing mixed mode or night flights is dependent on these routes being added to the roster at Heathrow.’

The association is currently participating in a new lobbying campaign to pressurize London Heathrow airport to offer direct flights to the 10 routes identified by the association as most required for air travel.

The Ten Routes for Growth campaign is being led by political lobbyist, Gareth Morgan, who is an associate director with Cavendish Communications and an advisor to the association.

Gareth Morgan said, ‘We have been trying to persuade politicians that there is the need for new capacity in the south-east. We have reached the point now where that argument has almost been won and it becomes about battling over where that capacity will come from.’

London Stansted Airport Announces New Offerings

London Stansted Airport is now offering a number of new experiences for passengers this winter.

The airport departure lounge saw the opening of a new grab and go coffee shop, Joes Coffeehouse; and relocation of the luxury home and body cosmetics brand outlet of Rituals to a new location in the centre of the main departure lounge of the airport.

The rock style cafe, The Illustrious, is slated to open next to the international departure gates of Ryanair, while a new outlet of Cafe Piccolo will open in the main departure lounge before Christmas.

Zoe Farmer, the head of in-terminal commercial at the airport, said, ‘At Stansted, we’re not only committed to delivering our passengers with punctual flights to a wide range of destinations but also an excellent choice of shops, restaurants and other services.

Research shows that provision of good quality shopping and catering plays a pivotal role in the overall airport experience for many passengers so I am delighted to welcome the arrival of exciting brands such as Cafe Piccolo, Joes Coffeehouse and The Illustrious to Stansted.

It’s also wonderful to see Rituals expand into a prime location following the success of their mobile unit that only opened earlier this year.

I only wish I could unveil the other high street brands we are currently preparing to welcome as tax-free shopping options at Stansted but those announcements will come soon so watch this space.’

The airport has recently relaunched its interactive noise website, which allows local residents to track potential effects of aircraft noise in their communities. The newly redesigned www.stanstedairport.com/noise is now offering a number of new factsheets offering details of actions the airport takes to reduce noise pollution.

Iberia Unions Cancel Strikes

Unions for Iberia, the Spain based airline owned by International Airlines Group (IAG), have called off six days of planned strikes.

The unions of the striking workers called off a six-day strike before Christmas after meeting with the airline management, and on advice of the mediation and arbitration service.

The company has issued a statement saying, ‘No agreement was reached at the meeting, despite Iberia’s undertaking to be flexible in considering the proposals advanced by the unions. However, though the opportunity to move forward was missed, the meeting could be another step towards future negotiations.

Iberia hopes that in the future the possibilities of dialogue and negotiations will be exhausted before any new strikes are called since they inflict great harm on the company and its customers.

Iberia is delighted that its customers may now look forward to travelling without problems, though it regrets the damage already caused to company’s public image and to its business.’

The airline is also commencing negotiations with the unions on its Transformation Plan, and is holding meetings with representatives of ground staff, cabin crews, and pilots on December 13, 2012.

As part of a transformation plan, the airline will be cutting down its routes, and will stay focused on its profitable operations.

The airline will be terminating its services to Athens, Istanbul and Cairo from mid-January, 2013; and long-haul services to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and Havana in Cuba, from April 1, 2012.

In a statement, the airline chief executive officer, Rafael Sanchez-Lozano, said, ‘Iberia has announced a Transformation Plan intended chiefly to restore profitability, ensure our future, and to transform us into an airline that is prepared to meet the challenges being faced by the industry, and, most importantly, to meet the expectations of our customers.’

New London Heathrow Shopping Experiences for Christmas

London Heathrow Airport has launched two new shopping services for Christmas.

The offers include an online shopping experience, named ‘Heathrow Boutique’, for passengers to browse and book purchases before they arrive at the airport, currently live at www.heathrow.com/boutique. The other shopping experience on offer is a home delivery, named ‘Heathrow delivered’ for passengers who would like to have their purchases delivered complimentary to any UK mainland residential address.

A recent study has revealed that around 41% of passengers at London Heathrow airport travel through the airport to visit friends and families during Christmas, and hence, the airport is often a place where they shop.

Nick Adderley, the marketing and insight director at Heathrow airport, said, ‘December is a special time at the airport – more than any other time of the year, Christmas is the time Heathrow brings people together. We have done a lot of work to make every journey better for our passengers, ensuring that the spirit of Christmas touches our airport with surprises and treats for everyone.’

Other holiday activities and services offered by the airport to passengers during the Christmas period are family lanes in security; ‘Kids eat free’ offers; and carol singers and chocolate treat giveaways for children.

London Heathrow airport has reported higher retail sales compared to any airport worldwide, very much ahead of Incheon Airport in South Korea, which ranks second.

Gross retail sales at Heathrow in 2011 stood at around £1.7bn, compared to £1.5bn reported in 2010; while net retail income per passenger increased by 5.3% in 2011, to £4.35, from £4.13 in 2010.