Some of South Africa’s biggest mixed-use developments are evolving into “smart cities” by embracing the latest technology.
Beyond the new urbanism trend – where all daily requirements are within easy reach in walkable precincts – new developments are targeting millennial investors with “smart” features that make a smart city.
Think electric car charging stations, precinct-wide WIFI and Fibre to the Home, significantly enhanced 24-hour security, and assistance in your home for a range of emergencies – at the push of a button. This is the future of development.
What are millennial buyers looking for?
Social commentator Mal Fletcher says: “Millennials expect to create a better future, using the collaborative power of digital technology.”
“Technology is an integral accompaniment to new urbanism as it holds the desirable characteristics of walkable precincts, where residential and office space are combined with gyms, hotels, and a wide variety of upmarket, cocktail bars and restaurants,” shares Nicholas Stopforth, Managing Director of Amdec Property Development.
Increasingly, people want to live, work and play in the same place – a space where they can easily and safely walk to an office, home, restaurant or another amenity. This concept is a mixed-use precinct. When combined with the latest in technology, it becomes a smart city.
And while a smart city has all the latest technological security and lifestyle benefits, these are designed into the development so largely unseen. You won’t find high-rise tower blocks with unsightly satellite dishes adorning the façade. Instead, imagine buildings that offer green design, green spaces, and pedestrianised roads, yet harken back to a feel of traditional, communal village life where all your daily needs are within walking distance.
It might sound contradictory, but it’s not.
Stopforth explains that new developments must offer a range of features to suit the ever-changing trends and demands of modern living. Developers need to expand the range of features that come with this community-driven lifestyle to include wireless internet across the precinct, the latest in access control, panic buttons as well as medical and security assistance on instant standby. The Melrose Arch precinct even has license plate recognition, to ensure increased security for residents and businesses.
Amdec Property Developments is the group behind South Africa’s best practice in mixed-use precinct design both Melrose Arch and Harbour Arch, the fastest selling large-scale development in the country with sales and reservations topping R1billion since its launch in October 2017.
The planned R10billion Harbour Arch on Cape Town’s foreshore, due to open in August 2019, is modelled on the global trend for walkable precincts such as Darling Harbour in Sydney and Canary Wharf in London.
As proof of the desirability of smart cities, Melrose Arch’s latest residential development – One on Whiteley – is already 75% sold out.
Residents at One on Whiteley will benefit from all the precinct’s sophisticated technology systems including fibre internet, back-up generators, license plate recognition, electric car charging stations, and recycling facilities.
But more than just focussing on technology, smart cities are focused on sustainability. And in South Africa, these mixed-use, new urbanist precincts are certainly driving the sustainability trend.
The world over, developers are under pressure to drastically minimise water usage and incorporate eco-friendly technologies that will benefit the planet in the long-term.
“Residents and investors want to know what is being done to reduce impact on the environment,” says Stopforth.
Sustainability is a key focus area in Amdec’s developments, with green building initiatives including refuse recycling, water-saving devices, low-energy LED lighting, and rainwater harvesting.
These will be core features of Cape Town’s new Harbour Arch precinct. With water scarcity being the new normal for the city, developers are required to implement water-wise strategies from the ground up. For this reason, Harbour Arch has invested a lot of time and energy in scenario planning with regards to the drought Cape Town faces.
This has resulted in a shift towards water-conscious design and planning – like rainwater and grey water harvesting, dual-flush plumbing systems, and water storage facilities. The company will also be investigating the viability of installing an on-site desalination plant to take advantage of the abundant ground water available in the foreshore area.
“There is huge benefit in executing water-saving measures at the construction stage, rather than retro-fitting. Not only is it better to have systems in place at the start, but it saves money in the long run,” says Stopforth.
“Ultimately, we need to reduce our impact. A smart development needs to be smart about sustaining our future.”
Source: Leadership Magazine
Africa is the fastest growing tourist destination. It offers a rich mélange of culture, heritage and natural wonders which draw tourists from all over the world. From rich forests to barren deserts and unmatched wildlife, Africa has everything to offer. However, constant tourism can put a huge strain on the resources, leading to its rapid depletion.
The beautiful continent has already started coming up with new and improved means to counter depletion and make way for sustainable tourism. It has adopted a four-pronged approach to containing the damage caused by some of the major aspects of tourism.
With more and more tourists visiting the continent, the need for production of food has been rapidly on a rise. This has resulted in practices which improve production but also lead to depletion of resources. To counter this, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in 2003.
This aims to allot at least 10 percent of the budget to agriculture. This promotes sustainable practices while also causing a growth in production. Crop rotation, use of natural fertilisers, drip cultivation and rainwater harvesting are encouraged. It is estimated that over the next decade, the production of food will increase to the point of solving a majority of the hunger issue of the continent while reducing wastage and damage to the planet.
Green initiatives by hotels
A number of African hotels are adopting green initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint and conserve their resources. From planting more trees to recycling and harvesting rainwater to convert it into drinking water, the tourism industry of Africa is going the extra mile to conserve the continent and its precious resources. Some hotels have discarded conventional sources of electricity and opted for solar power.
It has been seen that the green initiatives adopted by the hotels have resulted in greater footfall which acts as a huge incentive for more and more hotels to join the movement. Hotels in countries like South Africa, Egypt, Madagascar, etc. have managed to make an actual and substantial contribution towards the protection of their country’s resources by adopting sustainable means.
Energy efficient tourism
The recent years have seen a huge rise in eco-tourism. Here travellers are offered all the basic comfort and amenities but there is barely any extravagance. It is true that it offers minimum luxury but maximum experience is what one takes back. This is a very useful model of tourism which minimises the damages that are associated with tourism. Solar energy is the primary source of energy while traditional materials and sustainable practices are implemented in order to conserve. African countries are now actively promoting eco-tourism in a bid to offer tourists an authentic African experience as well as to reduce the energy consumption.
It is a known fact that tourism produces quite a lot of waste. Right from food waste to plastic water bottles, the amount of waste that is a direct result of the tourism industry is staggering. To manage the problem of waste, governments have started taking active steps to promote segregation and treatment of wastes to promote a more sustainable model.
There are talks of converting biodegradable waste into biofuel, while on the other hand recycling is given an extra push in order to reduce the quantity of non-biodegradable waste. Segregated waste baskets have been installed at various popular tourist spots and also in cities and hotels. The waste management sector has done a great job in improving sustainable tourism in the continent.
As tourism is increasing, various African governments are gearing up for a greater footfall without causing a strain on their resources. They have been taking active steps to build a sustainable model of tourism and it is their relentless, challenging work that is putting Africa on the road to a completely sustainable development.
Canadian mining firms, lured to West Africa by low taxes and friendly governments, must now grapple with an emerging new risk: the rising threat of attack by Islamist radicals in the region.
Canadian gold miners have been among the biggest investors in many West African nations in recent years. But after a wave of terrorist assaults on hotels and tourist sites over the past year, along with a report of a rocket attack on a French uranium mine, West Africa is becoming a more dangerous place for foreign investors.
In a sign of the new anxieties, Burkina Faso announced this month that it will deploy more than 3,600 soldiers and police to protect the nation’s 18 mining sites from the escalating threat of attack by Islamist extremists who have already struck at targets in the country.
Gunmen from an Islamist radical group killed 30 people, including six Canadians, in an attack on a hotel and restaurant in Burkina Faso’s capital in January.
Iamgold Corp. of Toronto is one of Burkina Faso’s biggest employers, operating a modern gold mine at Essakane in the country’s northeast, near the borders of Mali and Niger. The company’s officials, replying to questions about the new military deployment, said they have a policy of refusing to comment on security matters.
In the past, Canadian mining companies have pointed out that the terrorist attacks and other violent conflicts in Africa are usually in the capital cities, far from their remote mining sites. But this may be changing.
In late May, an Islamist radical group said it had fired Grad rockets at a uranium mining site in the Agadez region of Niger. The site belongs to the French uranium mining company Areva, although the company did not confirm the attack.
A notorious radical militia, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), claimed responsibility for the Areva attack and warned that all Western businesses were “legitimate targets.” Just two months earlier, the same group claimed responsibility for a Grad rocket attack on a gas facility in Algeria.
In a recent report on Burkina Faso, the International Monetary Fund said there are concerns about the security threat in “rural and border areas” in the country. “Mining companies in particular note that they have had to step up security measures as they cannot fully rely on the police or army,” the IMF said in the June report.
Burkina Faso’s foreign minister, Alpha Barry, in an interview after the terrorist attack in January, pledged that his government would strengthen the protection of Canadian mining companies. He pleaded with Canadian miners to keep their investments in the country. “These are companies that enable Burkina Faso to live,” he said. “Our economy depends on it.”
Islamist radicals could attack Western mining companies for kidnapping operations or for strategic reasons, analysts say. “Such institutions remain at a credible threat of being targeted, given the dynamic nature of terrorism in the Sahel and Maghreb regions,” said Ryan Cummings, director of Signal Risk, an Africa-focused risk analysis consultancy.
“Mining sites in countries located within AQIM’s operational theatre, namely Mali and all countries sharing a border with the country, are susceptible to an attack,” he said.
Mining companies in West Africa have already been targeted for kidnapping operations to raise revenue from ransom, Mr. Cummings noted. But groups such as AQIM could be targeting mining companies because any economic decline in West African countries would make it easier to radicalize their populations, he said.
Earn valuable CPD credits
The pace of green building in the hospitality sector is on the rise, and it doesn’t require making any sacrifice in the luxury of your stay away from home, according to a new report from the U.S. Green Building Council.
It’s no secret that with operations running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, hotels consume natural resources at a high rate. Representing more than 5 billion square feet of space in the United States alone, there is an enormous opportunity for the industry — and guests — to positively affect the built environment, according to the USGBC.
For years, USGBC has diligently made progress toward greening the hospitality sector. Among these efforts was the establishment of the LEED User Group for Hospitality and Venues, which engages in multifaceted dialogue and peer-to-peer collaboration to identify best practices, lessons learned and ongoing challenges for sustainability in the sector. The LEED in Motion: Hospitality report brings the dialogue to a wider network and highlights the opportunity for triple-bottom-line wins when hotels think sustainably.
Across the world, demand for green hotels is rising. Today, LEED-certified hotels of all sizes are found in more than 40 U.S. states, 31 countries and five continents. It’s a movement sparked in part by guest preferences. According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, nearly two-thirds of travelers reported plans to make more environmentally friendly choices over the next year. And while on vacation, 88 percent of travelers turned off lights when not in their hotel room, 78 percent participated in the hotel’s linen and towel reuse program and 58 percent used recycling in the hotel.
In response to this shift, companies such as Starwood’s Elements brand, Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotel Group and Hyatt Hotels include LEED mandates and policies in their design and construction specs. ITC Hotels in India requires not just LEED certification, but also top performance.
When structural engineer Jignesh Goyani started developing his affordable housing project, Kesar City, at Moriaya village in Sanand – the satellite town on the outskirts of Ahmedabad – three years ago, he decided to go all green. While the apartments are small – at 33 sq metres – with the cheapest costing as little as Rs 5.4 lakh, the project is equipped with the whole ‘sustainable’ shebang: lighting controls, form construction, sun-dried fly ash bricks, sewage treatment plant, optimal daylight use and solar for street and common lighting, low-flow faucets and fixtures, biogas from sewage and daily green waste, and green landscapes irrigated by porous pipes. Kesar is as kosher as any high-end green building.
Developed in collaboration with Ahmedabad-based firms Aroma Realty and Kesar Buildcon – all working in the affordable housing niche using low-cost green technologies – the first lot of 1,200 homes is now being handed over to their owners. And who are they? Popcorn sellers, tea vendors, restaurant waiters and money transfer kiosk operators, among others, most of whom earn between Rs 330 and Rs 1,000 a day. “Almost all our customers are from the unorganised market,” says Goyani.
Housing for this segment does not find it easy to get bank finance; hence the project developers had no option but to keep costs to the minimum – even for sustainable technologies. That meant doing without green building certification by the Indian Green Building Council’s (IGBC) rating standard, which would have ratcheted up the project cost by another Rs 25 lakh. “Anything that adds to the cost of these homes, including certification, is not for us,” says Goyani. He is certain that, had he applied, the project would have easily made the cut for IGBC’s silver certification, if not gold. “About 80 per cent of our design and technology solutions beat the parameters prescribed by any green rating standard,” he says.
Instead, Goyani is working with Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) software, a low-cost green building certification system developed for 100 emerging economies by the International Finance Corporation. Based on a mind-boggling database of local utility costs and climate in different cities, this free software suggests customised resource-efficient solutions right at the design stage to reduce operational expenses and environmental impact. In order to qualify for the EDGE certification, a building must achieve at least 20 per cent saving in energy, water and construction resources over conventional practices. Kesar City is also on the shortlist of pilot projects the National Housing Bank is assessing for technical assistance under the UK government’s Department of International Development (DFID) funding for innovative pilot projects.
Goyani’s project underscores how the once-elitist market for green buildings – those which make efficient use of energy, water and construction material – is percolating down to the very lowest. A green building movement is under way in the country. Until recently, it mostly meant designing high-end commercial and corporate office spaces, or building energy-efficient hospitals and hotels, in tier II towns at best. There were also the bespoke residences of select affluent and niche clientele.
Driven by cost savings for home owners, and responding to the incentives offered by state governments, an increasing number of developers are greening their residential portfolio. Features like rainwater harvesting, outdoor window shades, energy-efficient electrical fixtures and waste treatment plants are helping economise resource consumption. Even existing home owners are opting for retrofits as a smart investment option. “It is not enough to ascertain how structurally sound a building is; it is also important to see how well it will perform,” says Aalok Deshmukh, energy efficiency expert, Schneider Electric India.
Low-cost green housing projects need to be rolled out quickly in high volumes with minimal design typologies to be feasible. Residential developers such as Tata Housing Development Co and Value Budget Housing Corporation, whose raison d’être is large-scale housing, are thus developing a green template for all their standard offerings, which can be scaled up in little time. Other developers like Lotus Green and Biodiversity Conservation India Ltd (BCIL) – also known as the ZED Group for its zero-energy driven solutions – have got into realty to focus primarily on green development.
Importantly, with the real estate sector facing recessionary pressure and unsold inventories piling up in recent months, the business case for developing differentiated projects by building green is stronger than ever before. Developers have realised that green certification helps attract more customers and investors. Godrej Properties, Raheja Developers, the Hiranandani group, Ansal Properties, MARG group, SARE Homes, Emaar MGF and Gaursons India are only some of the prominent players building certified green homes in recent years.
“Over the last year or so, realtors have grown to understand the importance of sustainable development,” says Brotin Banerjee, Managing Director and CEO of Tata Housing Development Co. The company has 6.5 million square metres of housing in different stages of execution in all consumer segments, from value to luxury, all of which will be certified green. All the company’s housing projects have no less than IGBC’s gold certification. Value and Budget Housing Corporation (VBHC) is developing over 3,000 EDGE-certified homes across Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Bhiwadi. Almost all its houses are in the affordable segment, predominantly comprising apartments priced between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 30 lakh. SARE Homes is developing six projects adding up to 5,000 homes across Amritsar, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Chennai.
“The green building movement is well entrenched and people are set to demand energy efficient buildings the same way they demand star-rated air-conditioners,” says P. Sahel, Vice Chairman, Lotus Greens. The company is developing four projects in Gurgaon and Noida over the next three years, all of which will have a Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) certification (an alternative to IGBC). BCIL, an early green builder with a presence in Bangalore, Mysore and Chennai – all of whose projects since 2003 have platinum certification – is currently building 2,000 green certified apartments and villas. Around 40 per cent of BCIL’s homes are priced under Rs 15 lakh and another 50 per cent in the Rs 30 lakh- 50 lakh segment. Only the remaining 10 per cent is priced between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 80 lakh.
All of Gaursons India’s residential projects over the last three years have been in the certified green category. The company is aiming for IGBC’s gold certification for three of its upcoming projects on Delhi’s outskirts – Gaurcity I, Gaurcity II and Gaur Yamuna City. Managing Director Manoj Gaur heads the Delhi-NCR chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI). “More than half the 200-plus members of the Delhi-NCR chapter are now developing green projects,” he says.
India had only around 1,850 sq metres of certified commercial green floor space in 2001, which rose to 22 million sq metres by 2008. The first residential green rating standard was launched in May that year. Seven years later, India has around 325 million sq metres of registered green floor space, both pre-certified and certified, across all categories – commercial, residential, hospitals, hotels and factories. Real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle said in a report in July that projects registered with the IGBC have grown incrementally at a compound annual growth rate of over 50 per cent in the past 10 years – the highest year-on-year growth anywhere in the world. In July, the US Green Building Council ranked India third on its annual ranking of the Top 10 countries outside the US that are making significant strides in sustainable building design, construction and transformation – next only to Canada and China.
Deshmukh of Schneider India goes on to say, “The single largest certified green floor space outside the US would be in India.” Chandrashekar Hariharan, Chairman, BCIL, and co-author of IGBC’s residential green guidelines, agrees. “In a decade’s time, we are set to outstrip the US, currently the world’s largest green market,” he adds.
The potential is indeed enormous. Green floor space accounts for only 3-5 per cent of all construction in India so far. In developed markets like the UK, where green building began almost two decades ago, around 40 per cent of all buildings would fall in that category. “In the US, it would be around 30 per cent,” says Prashant Kapoor, IFC Green Buildings’ specialist and founder of EDGE. By 2030, green building penetration in India is expected to reach 10 per cent or around 1.5 billion sq metres.
Mandatory Compliance Awaited
Green building construction and certification is growing at a scorching pace, despite the fact that it has not yet been fully mandated by legislation. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency, an arm of the Ministry of Power, announced the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) in May 2007. The Code mandates certain minimum energy performance standards for buildings and recommends many more. (For example, it prescribes that 20 per cent of all hot water requirement is to be met by solar energy.) But, it is still largely voluntary and applies only to commercial buildings, not residential ones.
The responsibility for enforcing it rests with state governments and local urban bodies, which do not have the wherewithal for implementation. “State governments also have the flexibility to modify the code to suit local or regional needs and notify it,” says Sanjay Seth, energy economist at the BEE. Once the notification for the mandatory adoption of the code is in place, the provisions have to be integrated into the municipal by-laws to enable enforcement.
Seven states and one union territory – Pondicherry – have notified the ECBC so far: Rajasthan, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. Another 23 states and union territories are at various stages of implementing it, which will take mandatory compliance almost countrywide. “Most states are expected to come up with the statutory regulation by end-2015,” says Seth. The national implementation of ECBC is expected to transform the market through enforced demand.
But, in the meantime, some of the other states and urban development bodies have begun offering myriad incentives. Haryana, Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra and parts of Uttar Pradesh (the development authorities of Noida, Greater Noida and the Yamuna Expressway), allow an additional 5 per cent floor area ratio (FAR – a measure of the built-up area of a plot) for buildings certified green. The development authorities of Ghaziabad and Delhi have proposed the same. Kerala and Bhubaneswar city also allow some extra FAR in green buildings. West Bengal has even announced raising the FAR to 10 per cent. Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are considering providing a similar carrot.
Among other incentives are fast-tracked construction permits for green buildings being offered by Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Maharashtra also has an energy efficiency financing programme, providing credit guarantee for half the green project cost. Buildings using solar or wind power are allowed to be built higher than their conventional counterparts in Pune. Punjab has mandated that every roof measuring more than 465 square metres should be used for solar energy generation. Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, too, are considering some stimulus for residential solar. The Department of Renewable Energy in Haryana bears 50 per cent of energy audit costs.
The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation in Maharashtra offers a rebate of up to 15 per cent on property tax for green buildings, and up to 50 per cent on premium for builders who get their projects GRIHA-certified. The urban local bodies of Nashik and Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra, and Noida in UP, have proposed property tax discounts based on the level of green certification achieved. Hyderabad has suggested monetary incentives for architects designing GRIHA-rated green buildings. Punjab is developing a draft adaptation of ECBC even for large residential buildings.
Buildings guzzle more than a third of the country’s energy resources at present. Savings on green buildings can be a staggering 25-30 per cent from day one. As Schneider India’s Deshmukh says, “When done right, or when incorporated at the design stage, there is no additional cost of building green.” In fact, a green building pays for itself through the savings accruing from energy efficiency, and premium developers can charge on such construction. Given that floor space will triple by 2030, the case for driving resource efficiency couldn’t be more compelling. According to one estimate, mandatory ECBC implementation across the country could lead to an annual energy saving of about 1.7 billion kWh. At the very least, this means an annual saving of Rs 600 crore in energy cost. A McKinsey India report has projected that by 2030, India could save an estimated Rs 90,000 crore ($14 billion) per year by investing in energy efficiency.
Building activity is relatively low in developed markets where most of the infrastructure is already in place. India has seen only one-third of its built space come up yet. According to global think tank Global Buildings Performance Network, the energy demand from building in India will grow by 70 per cent by 2050, for which an estimated 900 new power stations fired by fossil fuels will be required. Going green couldn’t have been a bigger and more pressing opportunity.
Durban’s beachfront, in line with the city’s marketing strategy of being the “Playground of Africa”, received a huge boost yesterday when the eThekwini Municipality announced it was in the process of appointing a beachfront manager.
The move has been warmly welcomed by the tourism and hospitality industry.
City spokeswoman Tozi Mthethwa said internal processes were being finalised prior to the position being advertised.
The beachfront currently falls under a number of different departments – for example, parks and recreation, waste and sanitation, and health and safety.
Mthethwa said the city manager had called for “integrated management of the beaches”, and the new beachfront manager would be responsible for “strategic direction in the integration of operations for beaches from Umgababa in the south to Westbrook in the north”.
She said a priority would be the categorisation of beach nodes into “well-served, under-served and un-served nodes”.
This would allow gaps in operations to be identified.
With regard to the Durban beachfront, Mthethwa said: “It remains a critical node for our tourism sector, and much effort will be put into growing partnerships with stakeholders and improving the beach operations and management.”
She also highlighted the establishment of a beach management committee, which “may include technical, security and operational sub-committees whose work will be all year round, as opposed to the festive season management committee, which convenes only during the festive season”.
Logie Naidoo, the Speaker of the eThekwini Municipality, said last night that the appointment was “preparing the ground” for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“We are also looking at using the Rachel Finlayson Pool for the 2022 swimming competition, which will have the Indian Ocean as a backdrop.”
He added the appointment would also fit in with the long-term plan to extend the promenade to Virginia and uMhlanga.
“After uShaka Marine World, our beach is the second-biggest attraction in the city. We have achieved so much with the promenade and believe the beachfront is a tourism asset, which has a diversity of people you won’t find anywhere else in the world.”
He said the city’s Malaysian partners were also keen to commence with further development at the Point Waterfront this year.
The hospitality industry has given the announcement a big thumbs up.
Mike Jackson, KZN director of operations for the Tsogo Sun Group of Hotels, described it as “a very significant step”. Tsogo Sun owns the majority of the big hotels along the beachfront. “It has always been a case of dealing with different departments and heads and now we are going to have a manager who we can sit down with and discuss our industries.
Fedhasa East Coast operations director, Charles Preece, described the beachfront as a “critical zone for our members”.
General manager of the Protea Edward Hotel, Werner Gere, said: “It’s going to make it much easier, it’s a no-brainer.”
ANALYSISBy Marco Scholtz, North-West University
More than 30 million tourists visit Africa every year. Over half of the international arrivals are for business purposes, and may partake in tourist activities as well, while 15% travel for pure tourism and 30% visit friends and family.
Tourists select the continent as a destination for wildlife viewing and to enjoy the sunny skies. Africa is the world’s number one destination for safaris which range from the exotic to the very simple.
The tourism industry is one of the most important for the continent: it provided 12.8 million people with jobs, directly and indirectly, in 2011. Tourism in 2012 contributed over US$36 billion or 2.8% of the continent’s GDP.
The continent’s vast and diverse nature makes it complex and difficult to decide on the best region for a safari. But the east, central and southern parts of the continent are by far the preferred choices. These areas generally have well developed or fast developing tourism sectors. There is an abundance of wildlife as well as low to no visa requirements. Tourists to these regions mostly come from countries like France, the UK, the USA, Germany and Portugal.
Below is a quick guide to some of the safari hot spots on the African continent.
East African countries are strongly reliant on the tourism industry for generating income. Strong improvements in marketing and cooperation between these nations will help to ensure the success of this vital tourism sector.
Standardised criteria for hotels, restaurants and other services across these countries will make it easier for tourists to find suitable services. These countries possess various natural and cultural resources that make tourism possible.
The Serengeti wildebeest migration is the main reason Kenya and Tanzania have become popular safari destinations. This migration sees millions of wildebeest, accompanied by various other animal species, move between Tanzania and Kenya. The best places to view this migration include Kenya’s Maasai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. .
And while in the area, don’t forget to visit Africa’s highest mountain –Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park.
The Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area is also a great choice with an abundance of big 5 – the African elephant, African lion, white/black rhinoceros, African leopard and the Cape buffalo – and will not disappoint.
Civil wars and terrorist groups have made it dangerous to travel to some countries in this region. Many tourists still take their chances, though, as Central Africa is an area of immense natural beauty.
Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda are great places to view the endangeredmountain gorillas. The best places for viewing them include theVirunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in south-west Uganda, orVolcanoes National Park in north-west Rwanda.
Various factors have threatened the population of gorillas, including poaching, habitat loss, disease, war and unrest and poverty. Today, due to conservation efforts, the population of mountain gorillas is showing steady growth. The fact that many tourists want to get up close to these animals also drives conservation efforts, since with tourism comes economic improvement.
If you’d prefer to take part in Africa’s best on-foot chimpanzee encounters, visit Kibale Forest in Uganda.
South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi offer very diverse wildlife. This is because of the variety of biomes in the region.
Chobe National Park is home to the biggest concentration of elephants in the world – 70 000 of them. It lies between the Chobe River and the Okavango Delta in the north eastern parts of Botswana. Also in Botswana, the Moremi Game Reserve, in the iconic Okovango Delta, is the first reserve in Africa to be established by local residents.
The Etosha National Park in the northern arid region of Namibia offers great chances of spotting endangered black rhinoceros as well as flamingos in the salt pans.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park was the first site in South Africa to be awarded World Heritage status. It contains most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests and is Africa’s largest estuarine system, which is a partially enclosed body of water where fresh water from rivers and streams mix with salt water from the ocean. The park borders Kosi Bay and St Lucia Lake which is the only place in the world where you can find sharks, hippopotamus and crocodiles in the same body of water.
Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape province is the only park where you can find the Big 7: the African elephant, Cape buffalo, African lion, African leopard, African rhino as well as whales and Great White sharks.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park consists of mostly unspoiled wilderness in the north of South Africa, crossing over into Botswana. This park is largely located in a desert area and is famous for animal species such as the Kalahari black-maned lions and the Gemsbok or Oryx.
This week, two events have pushed the revival of the tourism industry to even greater heights. The first one is the ongoing World Trade Organization ministerial conference that has seen the country hosting up to five thousand delegates.
Hosting such a huge delegation has meant good business for hotels, especially those with world class accommodation. One hotelier, for instance, says that his hotel is full house as a result of the conference.
“Our hotel is fully booked thanks to the ongoing WTO Conference. The timing was also perfect because it is almost Christmas. We do not have available accommodation until next year and we are very happy,” said Bidwood Suites Hotel General Manager Ambrose Mwendwa.
It has also validated the country as a safe and ideal destination for business travellers.
The second event is Kenya being voted as the world’s leading safari destination by World Travel Awards (WTA) beating countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa among others.
The ‘Oscar’ of the tourism industry voted for Kenya in different categories which include Africa’s leading airline in the business class category which Kenya Airways won.
The major endorsement of Kenya Airways will likely revive the name of the national carrier after the turbulent times it has been facing such as recording Sh25.7billion in losses.
Diani Beach scooped Africa’s beach destination putting the country ahead of other contestants. Other winners include Africa’s leading cruise port which Port of Mombasa won, Africa’s leading Eco-Lodge scooped by Sanctuary Olonana and Africa’s leading Green Hotel won by Nairobi Serena Hotel.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve also won Kenya Africa’s leading National Park while Finch Hattons won Kenya Africa’s leading Safari Lodge. Additionally, Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa scooped the continent’s leading spa resort.
Kenya Tourism Board was also a big winner scooping Africa’s leading tourist board.
Twiga Tours was also a big winner taking the world’s leading luxury safari company and the world’s responsible tourism award. It also clinched Africa’s Responsible Tourism Award and Africa’s leading luxury Safari Company.
“We congratulate Kenya on this deserving win and encourage the country to continue their commitment to preserving the unique heritage bestowed to the country for the sake of generations to come,” said WTA President Graham Cooke adding that Kenya’s win was an endorsement of the destination known as home to authentic safari.
These events follows other successes such as hosting Pope Francis late last month and US President Barack Obama in July which put Kenya on top of the tourism map.
They also come at a necessary time after the tourism industry faced problems following close to two years of turbulence in the industry after isolated terror attacks cases made Kenya get served travel advisories bringing tourism on its knees.
According to the Earth Day Network, 2015 will be the 45th anniversary of Earth Day and could be the most exciting year in environmental history.
This could be the year in which economic growth and sustainability join hands; the year in which world leaders finally pass a binding climate change treaty; the year in which citizens and organisations divest from fossil fuels and put their money into renewable energy solutions.
In celebrating Earth Day, a local green cleaning product manufacturer is encouraging the hospitality industry to adopt sustainable practices to safeguard the environment, its guests and its employees. “The extent of the damage that chemical products have on the environment, on the health of those that use it and on the people that are exposed to it cannot be overstated,” says Clinton Smith of Green Worx Cleaning Solutions.
Although a recent study indicated that consumers avoid utilising green cleaning products due to the perception that they are more costly than traditional products, the reality is that enzyme based products are more concentrated, are more efficient, and are therefore more cost effective. The enzymes digest host material where the germ and odour causing bacteria live and reproduce.
When ensuring that their facilities are sufficiently sanitised, accommodation providers should focus on utilising safe, non-toxic products that are effective and reliable. Where facility management services are utilised, industry leaders should exert pressure on these organisations to implement green practices. “If each industry takes responsibility for the effects that its actions have on the environment, true change can be effected,” concludes Smith.
Millennials the New Power Segment
Exploration, interaction, and emotional experience is the hallmark of Millennials, the fastest growing customer segment in the hospitality industry, expected to represent 50% of all travelers by 2025. With the rise of millennial consumers businesses will need to be more transparent and tech savvy, with a strong focus on empathy and customer connection. Technology is essential for this demographic and they will expect technology to power check-in, payment, eating, and shopping. They will also actively engage in social media like Twitter, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor to complain. Millennials will expect a deeper link between tourism services and how they manage their everyday lives. “Foodies” are a distinct subset of this market looking for a gourmet experience at a reasonable prices. Culture buffs, LGBT and multi-generational travelers are looking for unique and novel experiences. Over half of Millennials stayed at independent hotels last year, 20% more than baby boomers. However, don’t count out the aging baby boomers that are living longer, are rethinking how to define retirement, and placing their energy in more creative pursuits.
Political Tensions and Terrorism
Around the world citizens have responded to increased government involvement with distrust and have begun to challenge entrenched political parties. Punishing economic policies and austerity measures along with ethnic, cultural and religious tensions have resulted in the rise in civil unrest. A megatrend found in Europe and likely to spread is the rise in populist movements that seek to regain national identity. The ability to efficiently deliver social services will be an ongoing challenge for governments. Countries and states with ethnic and religious tensions along with poor governance, and weak economies will breed terrorism. Transnational and free-wheeling terrorism enabled by information technology will replace state-supported political terrorism. In spite of collective actions to prevent, protect, and respond to terrorism, the threat will remain high in Europe and the US.
Deepening Income Inequality and the Working Poor
Inequality tops the list of economic trends to watch with the US viewed as the most unequal of the world’s rich nations. The wealthiest 1% of all Americans have 288 times the amount of wealth as the average middle class American family. Many predict that Asia will be the region most affected by deepening income inequality in 2015. Middle-income groups in many advanced economies are shrinking. Consumers struggle to pay down debt because their inflation-adjusted incomes have fallen since the 2007-09 recession.
Taking Control of Health and Personal Well Being
Taking charge of personal health will expand. Monitoring and adjusting your health will become more important as technology moves onto the body and consumers take greater control of their health. Tracking internal biochemistry and personal fitness data will result in more engaged and empowered personal health, and telehealth (remote consultation) will allow for higher quality and more personalized care. You can also expect to see more advanced devices to help people stay healthy and connect with their doctors, like devices worn on the ear due to the proximity to the temporal artery. The privacy and security of health records will become increasingly important in 2015 as medical records and online patient portals expand. The West Africa Ebola outbreak raises new challenges in managing infection and healthy living while traveling will require more innovative wellness options. Air purification, energizing lighting, a yoga space, in-room exercise equipment, and vitamin infused shower water are just the start.
Technology Driven Self-Sufficient Travelers
Innovative technologies on a mobile platform will be expected as more individuals rely on digital concierge services. Mobile check-in and seamless connectivity across platforms and devices is now expected. With geo-location software easily available, selling locally with a focus on content marketing is expected. Connectivity is key as more individuals are relying on information delivered through social software from virtual networks. Technology is better and smarter, and more integrated user experiences are likely. The smartphone is essential equipment for almost all employees, making it a potential tool for HR training and other workplace uses. Integrated outlets, USB ports, and wireless technology integration with hotel TV systems are basic. The iPod docking station is passé, but simple clocks are back in.
Sustainability and Resource Constraints
Eco-friendly practices are becoming the norm, and most hotels must have an attractive “green policy”, as travelers expect hotels to have some type of environmental program in place, while few are still willing to pay more for eco-features. Critical resources such as water and power are under increasing strain leading to price increases, volatility and even shortages. Global warming and energy use are affecting how we consume and live on a societal scale. Water scarcities and allocation pose challenges to governments in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and northern China. Renewable energy resource and innovative projects will shape the future of resource use, while regional tensions over water will be heightened in 2015. Falling oil prices, show how easy resource constrains can change, with a dampening effect on the power of countries such as Russia and Iran, while lowering prices for jet fuel, impacting growth in air travel, even as airlines acquire new fuel-efficient jets from Boeing and Airbus and replace old fleets.
Disruption and the Sharing Economy
Emerging new business models including peer-to-peer networks life Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft, multi-sided platforms such as Google and eBay, or free business models such as Skype and Flickr will change the business landscape. As peer-to-peer networks expand and grow they will become more professional and pose stronger direct competition to traditional travel services. Further, the growing popularity of meta search engines from big players like Google and Microsoft and the rapid growth of firms like Kayak may alter the user experience, define the mobile experience, lead to consolidation and impact partnerships with OTAs and hotels. As OTAs consolidate and expand their relationship with customers the costs of distribution will become increasing critical.
A Global Worldview
Increasing similarity and connectedness between nations, companies, and individuals. The globalized economy will be a net contributor to increased political stability in the world, although its benefits will not be universal. Continued transparency in global financial systems and free capital flows is likely. The global market for skilled and trained employees will grow while countries with aging populations will require immigrants to fill entry jobs. Expect more human migration. The travel industry is among the largest and fastest-growing industries worldwide, forecasted to support 328 million jobs, or 10 percent of the workforce, by 2022 according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Citizens of Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom have the best passports for global travel (may enter 173 countries without a visa). In general, passport holders in North America and Europe have the most freedom of travel, while passport holders in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia have the least. Chinese tourists still encounter difficulty traveling abroad with only 50 countries and territories offering visa-free or visa on arrival access for this group of travelers.
Fewer People and More Data
Will staff be needed to clean rooms and provide concierge services? As more travelers prefer technology to human beings, bypassing the front-desk, using a digital concierge, and saying good bye to bellmen and other traditional positions could be in your future. Rethinking how to communication with guest will mean using more data and fewer staff. Recommendation engines will allow guests to obtain “good service” on an array of travel needs once handled by the hotel. Group planners will also expect easy online planning capabilities and fast rates. While a help yourself model will focus on technology to drive service, staff will need to be better able to create and execute on a “new” model of service.
Emerging Growth Markets
Global growth in GDP (adjusting for inflation) will be moderate at 3.2% in 2015, projections of 3.1% for the US, 1.3% for Europe, 7.1% for China, and .8% for Japan. Europe appears to be in an economic rut, Japan’s recovery is faltering again, and China while high compared to other nations looks to have its slowest growth since 1990. The US may be the most likely to power world growth in 2015. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its latest outlook called global growth “mediocre”. Emerging markets are challenged with inflation if they seek to grow as fast as they have in the past. Brazil will be challenged by slow growth and high inflation, while South and East Asia as well as much of Arica are projected to experience the strongest growth. Overall the global economy is taking longer to recuperate from the financial problems of the last decade.
Source: 4 Hoteliers
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