This edition goes to Ghana, where an intercontinental initiative is working with thousands of school children to collect, clean and sell the trash that litters the country, thereby creating jobs and income.
Recycle Up! Ghana (RUG) is an African-German initiative that works with Ghanaian school children to tackle the massive waste problems in the country. Collected and cleaned trash is sold to recycling companies for reuse.
From one school to another, we head up into the mountains of Morocco, where female boarders are learning how to grow and use local plants that were once a part of their ancestors’ lives. With the help of their grandmothers, they are even putting together a book of medicinal and culinary recipes.
Staying in Africa, we go to Zambia, where a woman who grew up in the mist of Victoria Falls is doing everything she can to teach young people about the problems of local deforestation, and we visit Nigeria’s Ogoniland to find out about plans to clean up the oil spills.
In Germany, we look at the difficulties facing a power company that failed to get on board with the green energy transition, and along the coast of Turkey, we meet a formidable English woman, who at age 93, has earned herself the title of “Captain June” for her unerring devotion to saving the local turtle population.
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Not the best of times for Zimbabwe’s tourism industry. Tourist arrivals were down by 20% in 2015 in comparison to the previous year, according to the Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators, the reason was, quite predictably, the largely reported Ebola outbreak, which put the whole world in danger, but had its center in West Africa.
The industry isn’t backing down, though, and several actions have been put in place in order not only to improve on last year’s disappointing results, which saw companies suspending the payment of bonuses, but also beat 2009, a record-year for Zimbabwe.
Tourism stakeholders expect a 10% rise in demand, but insiders estimate that big marketing campaigns will be needed for companies to accomplish their goals.
2004’s Ebola outbreak cost Zimbabwe a whopping $6 million, as cancellations rained down and buyers withdrew from the important tourism expo, but the Zimbabwe tourism authority believes the industry is making its recovery.
Meanwhile, neighboring Zambia has been visited by an estimated 1 million tourists last year, registering a 3.24% growth on average over the last five years. According to Zimbabwe tourism insiders, a similar growth could be within reach if the Victoria Falls International Airport was to be completed.
The completion of the airport could make a really significant difference for the country, as it would triple the handling capacity of the Victoria Falls airport, allowing more airlines to be licensed in Zimbabwe and increasing the number of passenger to 1.2 million, where it now lays around 400,000.
Unfortunately, the introduction of VAT on foreign tourists’ expenses has not helped the industry’s case, and neither has the devaluation of African currencies like the South African rand, both of which have taken a further toll on tourism, especially seeing as South African tourists were responsible for a slight boost to the industry in 2015.
It isn’t just the overzealous actions of local governments or the scare of infectious diseases that is casting a shadow over Zimbabwe tourism though. Two lion sub-species, which are mainly found in the region, have been considered endangered, and a ban on hunting products is pending the US government’s approval.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Council has reacted to this impending ban by expressing its disappointment with this action which might have substantial impact on the hunting industry and thus on the already crippled tourism industry of the country.
USA is the biggest market for Zimbabwe’s hunting packages, which are likely to be affected, but the ban also causes fear that other countries will follow such example. The argument behind these fears is that hunters will be discouraged by the fact that they can’t import their hunted goods, and they will stop hunting altogether.
The ban comes after a tourist shot ‘Cecil, the Lion’, a popular Zimbabwe attraction, and is only the latest in a growing list of bans on local hunting products.
Hunting will be one of the main topics of the 2016 Tourism Convention, to be hosted in Victoria Falls from February 10 to 12, an event aimed at encouraging the various sectors, including the people and government, to get involved in the tourism industry.
Cape Town – fastjet on Monday, 18 January, announced its newest international routes – from Johannesburg to Harare and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
The launch of these routes comes after fastjet received clearance from the Zimbabwean and South African governments to operate flights between the two respective countries.
Return flights from Harare International Airport and Victoria Falls International Airport to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport will operate using fastjet’s modern Airbus A319 jet aircraft with seating for up to 144 passengers.
The Johannesburg/Harare route will commence on 1 February 2016 and operate daily with an additional daily flight on this route expected soon, the airline said in a statement.
Flights linking Victoria Falls to and from Johannesburg will initially be three times a week on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, commencing 3 February 2016.
Tickets for flights will be on sale this week, with fastjet advising passengers to book early to take advantage of its lowest priced fares on both routes of R1 340* ($80) one-way. This excludes government and airport taxes (R837 [$50] departing Zimbabwe / R586 [$35] departing South Africa)
The initial daily flights will depart from Harare at 06:15 and land in Johannesburg at 07:55, a flight time of 1 hour 40 minutes. The return flight from Johannesburg to Harare departs at 08:40, landing at 10:15 (all local times).
Finalised slots and timetables for the flights linking Victoria Falls and Johannesburg are still to be confirmed by the respective airports.
The flights to Harare and Victoria Falls mark the third and fourth international routes for fastjet from South Africa with the airline presently operating to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
fastjet also announced that it expects to receive approval for additional international flights to commence from Zimbabwe to further East and Southern Africa markets within the first quarter of 2016.
“The only alternative to flying is to undertake long and uncomfortable journeys by road, which can take up to 20 hours from Johannesburg to Harare or Victoria Falls,” fastjet’s Chief Commercial Officer Richard Bodin, says.
“As has been the case with other routes that we have launched, we expect many of our passengers to be first time flyers who, because of prohibitively high fares, could not afford to travel by air previously,” as recent research undertaken by the fastjet shows up to 40% of passengers on all routes are first time flyers able to afford air travel for the first time.
Available for purchase on these routes will be fastjet’s luggage upgrade option, ‘Freighty’, that allows passengers to transport up to 80kg of checked in bags.
The Freighty luggage option in particular is expected to be popular with traders flying with fastjet to purchase wholesale produce in Johannesburg to transport back to their home markets to sell.