NEW LODGE TO OPEN IN REMOTE KAOKOLAND NAMIBIA Comments Off on NEW LODGE TO OPEN IN REMOTE KAOKOLAND NAMIBIA 1210

South African-based safari company Natural Selection has announced it will open the Hoanib Valley Camp in the remote and wild Kaokoland in northwest Namibia in May. The camp is a joint venture between Natural Selection, the local communities and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

Located in the Sesfontein Community Conservancy, the camp sits on the banks of the Obias River, just outside the Palmwag Concession and overlooks the ephemeral Hoanib River.

From the camp, guests can track elusive desert-adapted lions, elephants and black rhinos, enjoy cultural experiences and discovering more about the desert-adapted giraffes that are the focus of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation’s work in Hoanib.

Hoanib Valley Camp features six guest tents that are raised on large decks and all have views out to the Hoanib River valley beyond.

Rates at Hoanib Valley Camp start at $580 per person, per night, inclusive of accommodations, meals, daily activities and locally brewed beers and wines from the region.

CONSERVATION

Hoanib Valley Camp is a joint venture with the local community and with the NGO the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). GCF are the longest running giraffe conservation charity in Africa and are the leaders in cutting edge giraffe research. In Hoanib, their research not only focusses on the desert-adapted giraffe in the area, but also helps to monitor elephant and general game.

Very few people realise the giraffe are endangered and they are often over-shadowed by the larger (sexier!) species such as rhino and elephant. Through their genetic work, Dr. Fennessy and the GCF have discovered four distinct species of giraffe across Africa, instead of what was formally thought to be sub-species – crucial information concerning the future of giraffe populations across the continent. Interested in finding out more? When in camp there are opportunities to meet the researchers and learn about the critical work going on in the area, and it’s also possibly to spend time in the field with the team for a donation of US$ 500.

Natural Selection donates 1.5% of their gross revenue to conservation, and the GCF is one of the partners who receives funds. We’re delighted to have partnered with them, and to be contributing to their research and project work.

WILDLIFE

The wildlife of the Hoanib Valley is perfectly at home in the arid environment, and learning about their survival techniques is fascinating. Game drives will reveal desert-adapted elephant, as well as stately desert-adapted giraffe, and, if you’re very lucky, desert lion. Zebra, klipspringer and kudu move freely through the mountains, and you’ll find hardy herds of springbok and oryx, as well as steenbok picking their way across the dust-blown landscapes. The region is home to the largest population of free-ranging black rhino, and a day (or even a morning or an afternoon) tracking the magnificent beasts is an absolute must. Bird watchers, keep your eyes peeled for Monteiro’s hornbills or Ruppell’s korhaans in the valleys, and the imperious Verreaux’s eagle in the mountains.

THE LANDSCAPE

Deep in the north-western corner of Namibia, Kaokoland is one of the most remote, wild and marvellously unique areas of the country. It’s a land characterised by rolling dunes, rocky mountains and desert plains all criss-crossed by ancient, dry riverbeds, the roads of the area. Temporary Himba settlements dot the landscape, and scattered herds of desert-adapted elephant and giraffe are a common sight.

Hoanib Valley Camp itself is located in the Sesfontein Community Conservancy, our joint partners in the area. The camp sits on the banks of the Obias River, just outside the private 500 square kilometre Palmwag Concession, and overlooks the ephemeral Hoanib River that teems with resident elephant, giraffe, oryx and springbok. Although parts of the land have been designated ‘concession areas’ tourism is still limited, making a visit to this unspoiled corner even more memorable.

Sources: Travel Weekly | Natural Selection

Author – Marc Anthony Johnson

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THE MALDIVES, MAURITIUS, SRI LANKA, WHO IS DOING WHAT TO RESTORE TRAVEL CONFIDENCE ACROSS THE INDIAN OCEAN Comments Off on THE MALDIVES, MAURITIUS, SRI LANKA, WHO IS DOING WHAT TO RESTORE TRAVEL CONFIDENCE ACROSS THE INDIAN OCEAN 401

After the recent round of short interviews with hospitality leaders in the Maldives, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka, these were the key messages that will win customers back. 

MALDIVES – No social distancing, but a rather physical distancing in the Maldives.

One month ago the Maldives reopened the country borders to international travelers and since then, welcomed nearly 4500 tourists mainly from the UK, USA, UAE, Germany, Swiss, and Russia. With strict health and safety standard procedures implemented across the country, starting from the airport to the resort islands, the ‘new travelers’ have already voiced their appreciation for the level of care and hygiene on various social media and forums. But if being welcomed by the resort representatives wrapped in PPE and armed with face shield, gloves, and masks might not feel like the most relaxing start of a much-needed holiday, Afeef Hussain, Regional Director at LUX* Resorts in the Maldives, reassures that guests do love the feeling of safety 

“Being able to arrive at the resort and start enjoying their vacation right away not having to worry about anything, is what our guests want”

Together with high levels of hygiene, another key element to restoring travel confidence is the value of the experience. Afeef Hussain shares that the ‘new travelers’ are not going to spend the same amount of money they used to. Therefore, the value of the vacation is under great scrutiny and determines whether your customer might decide to return to your hotel or to travel somewhere else. 

“There is no such thing of ‘new normal’, but rather a ‘new mindset’”

To ensure that each action taken to uphold the hygiene standards at the resorts is mutually beneficial, Afeef says that whatever is done for the guests, is also done for the team members. This ensures their wellbeing and wellness and translates the Company’s core message of ‘care’ into action.

SRI LANKA – Borders are closed, but our resorts are not.

Sri Lanka has recently delayed the opening of the country borders, but hotels and resorts across the island are back in business with the local market. The execution of health and safety standards at each property has been instrumental to restore a domestic travel confidence, says Arjuna Perera – Sales Manager at Theme Resorts & SPA based in Colombo. To start with, Arjuna Perera and his team produced a video message to show all the procedures and reassure their customer base. 

‘We immediately created a survey, to help understand what are our customers’ priorities at this critical time’ 

But, as we know, the local market demand alone does not cover it. A voucher system propelled by Arjuna’s sales team successfully generated over 1000 room nights. This shows that flexibility is another key factor to encourage travel demand. Flights can be canceled or delayed, quarantine systems are changing by the day. ‘All we need is a bit of flexibility’ says Arjuna ‘and the results are showing us that people are keen to travel, they just want to feel safe’. 

But how do we ensure social distancing in Sri Lanka? For Theme Resorts & Spa, more than distancing, we talk about isolation, but in a good way. The nature experience of some of their properties is guaranteed to the point that to reach some of their glamping sites, you will have to be picked up by the hotel concierge somewhere in the jungle.

MAURITIUS – A contactless experience and smart use of technology.

As Mauritius prepares to reopen borders next month, the health & safety checklist of the destination seems to grow longer.

The use of technology, however, plays a key role in the destination, currently undergoing a digital transformation with a brand new website, a travel platform in the making and a range of digital solutions for tourists. Airline and travel industry expert Youvraj Seeam, based in Mauritius, shares that to pick up on travel confidence, we first have to observe the consumers’ changing behaviors and thereafter understand the new demands.

“For this to be truly successful, we need collaboration with all the stakeholders across the industry”

Youvraj shares that tools like the Travel Recovery Insights Portal of ARC & Boston Consulting, the McKinsey Travel Pulse, or the Traveller Trends Tracker by Adara must be on top of today’s agenda for the modern marketer. This would enable industry leaders to have more visibility and start making progress along the way.

Based on his experience in the airline industry, the key message needs to revolve around hygiene standards and procedures from the moment the traveler checks-in, boards the plane and reaches the destination. Once arrived, says Youvraj, a contactless experience needs to be in place to ensure a safe transit until the guest ultimately reaches the hotel.

 About the author:

Dolores Semeraro is a multilingual professional speaker and trainer, fluent in the Chinese language. She provides strategic direction and training courses to companies and tourism institutions helping them to speak today’s digital language of their audience. Her vision is to create a sustainable digital connection between travel industry stakeholders and their desired customers.

IT’S NOW OR NEVER INDUSTRY GLOBAL RESET BY MARC WILLIAMS Comments Off on IT’S NOW OR NEVER INDUSTRY GLOBAL RESET BY MARC WILLIAMS 479

IT’S NOW OR NEVER, I am only tired, as the song goes and so says mother Earth after years and years of succumbing to the filth that are being spilled into her bosom by the 7 billion of us.

 We are at a crossroad and an eye-opening moment that have to be reckoned with. The changes to the way we live, the way we do business and the way we conduct ourselves in this world will happen whether we like it or not. It will be subtle and forcing us to be the architect of this change – it’s another industrial revolution enabling humans to evolve into a more conscientious being for the benefit of all and mother nature. And it’s worth mentioning here the abrupt change we are witnessing in the hospitality industry. 

Being reliant on large number of human capitals, the hospitality industry has been the most affected by the global pandemic, like no other. Think about it, its an industry that needs an intensive labour force to serve its consumers, it needs the use of fossil fuel to allow its consumers to travel and at the core of the travel industry there is the need for the Oil & Gas producers to power the planes and run the establishment that serves the hospitality industry. So, it’s an industry that at the core, survives and becomes profitable on the demands and supply within the Petroleum Market – for instance, when we see a low cost of crude, the demand rises, consumption rises and tourist travels. On the other hand, as the demand for Petroleum products rises, we see a rise in production which accompanies the rise in crude price. At the same time industrial catering contracts are signed in numbers around the Middle Eastern oil producing countries to support the crude majors, like BP or Total, and their service partners.

Then sometime in March 2020 the world stopped…

As every human activity came to a standstill, the price of crude oil stumbled and crashed as the demands crumbled. Unfortunately, we have made crude oil the center of our existential activities; that businesses linked to its production, whether directly or indirectly, are struggling to keep afloat during this pandemic period. This is a true portrait of our vulnerability as humans who have become too dependent on fossil fuel – the only matter that is damaging our beloved mother Earth.

In light of the new normal as we fashionably call it these days, the only way forward for the hospitality industry, but more certainly for the industrial catering sector, is automation and robotics with a change in attitude within the concept by all stakeholders and consumers. This in turn will reduce the heavy reliance on large manpower thereby improving profitability which has hit the industry since the fall of crude price. Although change is a pill hardly accepted by people entrenched within a certain framework and mindset, and unless changes are actuated, the hospitality industry may lose the precious backing of the investors. 

How can we forge this sudden change then…? One aspect with the labour intensive hospitality industry is to use automation and robotics wherever possible but still remain within the framework of good practice. For instance, within the kitchen we have already started using automation when it comes to the processing of veggies, washing up of cutleries, pots and pans. What we need now would be the autonomous self-cleaning equipment – in the domestic market we already have self-cleaning oven – with a bit of imagination we can have self-cleaning combo oven and cooking plates inserted on a stainless free stove where every debris or liquids drops into an underlying tray from where they are sucked into garbage cannisters. The idea here is to reduce the manpower wherever possible and keep only the chef and a small brigade to assist him in the mass production. 

The other crucial change within the industrial catering facility, most appropriately, would be the implementation of self-service as a general rule of the game. This will limit human contact and adheres to the on-going rule of distancing as applied in the pandemic situation. The onus will then be on the catering team to properly and intelligently prepare the plated layout which is then collected by the consumers. This process will help on portion control amongst other things, which is important in controlling the cost. 

Obviously, the arguments for change and innovation within the hospitality industry is a hot subject at the moment and should be for quite some time. After all we do not know when the pandemic will subside nor when will a real cure be found! However, we have already engaged in a new way of living and a new way of doing business, which in the industrial catering sector it means finding innovative ways to reduce the reliance on large manpower and engaging strategic actions to reduce the cost of doing business in order to be more profitable.

Let’s hope at the end of the day, the right course of action is taken with the interest of all the stakeholders considered and enough investments are made to meet up the challenge of considerable change. 

Marc WILLIAMS