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Times Square New York Hosts Kenya Tourism Board & Wilderness Safaris Meet Up

by AfricanMecca Safaris / Friday, 24 March 2017 / Published in Blog For AfricanMecca Safaris, Safari Planning Blog Posts - AfricanMecca Safaris

Times Square New York Hosts Kenya Tourism Board & Wilderness Safaris Meet Up

24 March 2017 | Published By AfricanMecca Safaris | Blog CategoriesSafari Planning.

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Left: Hon. Najib Balala (Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary For Tourism) – Right: H.E. Robinson Njeru Githae (Kenya Ambassador to the United States Washington DC) and Dr. Betty Addero Radier (Chief Executive Officer – Kenya Tourism Board) With Raza Visram (Tour Director – AfricanMecca Safaris)

Raza Visram, Tour Director of AfricanMecca Safaris, was part of an exclusive and hand-selected delegation that met on February 16, 2017, near Times Square, New York City, with Kenya’s tourism minister, the Hon. Najib Balala; Kenya’s ambassador to the United States, H.E. Mr. Robinson Njeru Githae; Kenya’s United Nations ambassador, H.E. Ms. Koki Muli Grignon; and the new CEO for the Kenya Tourism Board, Dr. Betty Addero Radier.

He had the direct ear of these key decision-makers and the opportunity to discuss and hear from them. Minister Balala discussed his team’s efforts to market Kenya internationally as well as advances the country is making on infrastructure, with repair or new construction of highways in Nairobi, the Rift Valley and Masai Mara; designation of the new Nairobi airport as a tier 1 FAA status, which will allow U.S. flights to land directly in Nairobi; and the addition of the new railway that will make it possible to travel between the coastline of Mombasa and Nairobi in 4.5 hours, and also link to rail connections in Uganda and Rwanda, a project aided by  Chinese investments.

In private discussions, Raza discussed his consistent position on conservation and sustainability, with the increase in human population numbers, and the  growing number of new safari camps crowding an ecosystem that already has a high tourist density. This growth has a direct impact on the environment, resulting in pressure on wildlife, land and communities who have made it home for centuries. Raza added that in his work he has seen a recurring theme:  new construction of profit and investment-focused safari camps and lodges, in fragile ecosystems around East and Southern Africa, driven by the upward mobility of entire populations with disposable income from what was previously referred to as the Third World.

Left: Koki Muli Grignon (Ambassador and Deputy Representative of the Republic of Kenya to the United Nations) – Right: John Chirchir (Deputy Regional Marketing Manager at Kenya Tourist Board) With Raza Visram (Tour Director – AfricanMecca Safaris)

Raza passionately shared his views on maintaining a focus on quality and low-impact tourism in the up-and-coming private conservancy reserves in Kenya, such as Mara North, Lewa and Amboseli. This focus is what Raza believes will be the future of Africa’s tourism as it struggles to protect wildlife against encroachment, habitat loss, poaching, or the disastrous effects of climate change. Raza described to Minister Balala why the balanced approach to visiting the private and public reserves of the Masai Mara made it a top-choice safari option for discerning AfricanMecca travelers coming to Kenya. First-time visitors to Africa want to be able to appreciate and experience the original Masai Mara Reserve, well-known through countless nature films and photography by National Geographic, BBC, Big Cat Diary and others, but they don’t want to be surrounded by a plethora of obstructive vehicles in a zoo-like setting.

Raza reminded Minister Balala that AfricanMecca is a pioneering and private, independent, comprehensive tourism services organization, which is fully and completely built, owned and operated by East African–born professionals from scratch. The company has been working internationally for 20+ years to educate the world about Kenya and Tanzania’s natural resources and tourism experience as an East Africa safari destination, in combination with Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Rwanda and Uganda. AfricanMecca is set up to do more than just marketing of safari trips. Most travelers who pick AfricanMecca Safaris do so because of the company’s excellent reputation for integrity, honesty and knowledge.

There was a discussion by the delegation on marketing Kenya abroad, a process that is now getting stronger financial and organizational support from the Kenyan government. Raza presented the point to Dr. Betty Addero Radier that millions of dollars could be spent marketing Kenya, given the challenges presented in the past by security issues and tribal differences. The Kenyan government has worked hard to overcome these problems, but many of the barriers to tourism could be resolved or reduced if people in the region treated each other better, with the keystone being equal access to resources and opportunities. He made a moral argument for a solution that would produce long-term results rather than a short-term, band-aid marketing approach.

South Africa Camp Suppliers, Wilderness Safaris, Meets Up With AfricanMecca For Training

 Left: Tim Farrell (Wilderness Safaris US Representative) With Raza Visram (Tour Director – AfricanMecca Safaris) – Right: Wilderness Training Team

Next day, the meeting carried on with a discussion and training session with Wilderness Safaris from southern Africa, on their up-and-coming superlative premier luxury accommodation in Rwanda, Bisate Lodge, and the work that is being done to rehabilitate the fertile farmland on the lower slopes of Bisoke Volcano, adjacent to Volcanoes National Park, home to one of the best trekking and mountain gorilla viewing areas in East and Central Africa. AfricanMecca has a lot of experience in this matter from an environmental perspective, gorilla trekking safaris aside, because some gorillas leave their natural habitat in the forests of Parc de Volcans in Rwanda and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, to forage off farmland. This leads to a comical cat-and-mouse game played out on the slopes, between the local farmers protecting their crops and gorillas looking at the crops as easy and convenient food – which in its true essence is no laughing matter. Wilderness Safaris’ Bisate Lodge will act as catalyst for reforestation of the farmlands surrounding the lodge, by planting over 10,000 trees. This process of re-creating a forest ecosystem will bring back the natural vegetation and biodiversity that will draw visitors for many years to come. Wilderness Safaris purchased 161 parcels of land, totaling 66 acres under its direct control for conservation. Some 103 landowners received prices for their land above market value, at a total cost of half a million US dollars. These landowners then took the cash to make purchases elsewhere in Rwanda or around the Volcanoes National Park area, where the lodge’s guests and other visitors to Kinigi and Musanze will visit and patronize their businesses. Guests who intend to stay at Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge aren’t simply looking for an accommodation for the night but rather want to be part of something grander, more sustainable and more meaningful: returning Volcanoes National Park land to the gorillas of Rwanda and the region’s diverse wildlife, bringing Dian Fossey’s dream and work full circle, starting on 01 June 2017, when Bisate lodge opens.

Other interesting points were:

  • Elimination of the elephant-back safari at Abu Camp in Okavango Delta for a Zen-like “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I touch and I understand,” focus, involving a multi-day, intimate, immersive experience with the elephants that includes learning about elephant behavior, greeting them one-on-one, and walking with them side by side, as part of a walking safari in Abu Camp’s private conservancy in the Okavango Delta.
  • Segera Conservancy in northern Kenya brings premier-class services and standards to a new level with its uber-luxury lodge in a private conservancy setting with an authentic cultural experience, endemic game of northern Kenya such as the beisa oryx, reticulated giraffe, and Grevy’s zebra, alongside herds of Kenya’s famous northern rangeland elephants. Guests can also be awed by one of largest collections of African art in private hands, as well as Segera’s Artist in Residence program.
  • Botswana continues to be high on the list for visitors who prefer a nature-engaged experience with safari game drives, boating and something like a slow nature walk, but on water, aboard a canoe.
  • Namibia is on the “scene” and extremely busy in 2017, with camps such as Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, located in the country’s rugged and remote northwestern corner, paradoxically surrounded by Skeleton Coast National Park’s desert ecology, which forms a dry barrier on the west against the Atlantic Ocean. The Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp design is ingenious. In commitment to Wilderness Safaris’ 4Cs, the camp, operating in a desert environment, efficiently soaks in, circulates and exhausts desert air thanks to the design and position of the tent roofing covers. It is a sheer coincidence that Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp’s earthy roof colors and contours match the beautiful, rocky desert backdrop.
  • The Busanga Plains in Zambia’s Kafue National Park remain on the list for authentic Africa wildlife enthusiasts who want to get away from the endless camps and lodges typical of other parks and reserves in Africa. The region is home to large populations of lions as well as herds of plains game: puku, lechwe and roan antelopes. It’s an excellent choice for travelers making a return visit to Africa.
  • North Island, a private island, is part of the 115-island Seychelles chain. The 5000-square-foot Presidential villas continue to welcome the immersive, barefoot luxury traveler who wants to soak in a sunrise on one side of the island and sunset on the other. North Island continues its focus on a wholesome experience, combining a beach vacation and relaxation with water activities, as well as exploration of the Island’s biodiversity via hikes, bikes, kayaks and buggies. Excellent hawksbill turtle nest sites have been documented on the island by the resident naturalist. All in all, you would come here to cast all your worries into the ocean, fishing them back out only when you depart and fly back with your helicopter – so totally worth it!

 

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