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KENYA NEWSLETTER APRIL 2017 ( 20 April 2017 )

DESTINATION NEWS:

DISNEY ANNOUNCES LION KING LIVE ACTION REMAKE 
Following the success of The Jungle Book last year, Walt Disney Studios has confirmed that The Lion King will also be getting a live-action remake. The Lion King was originally released in 1994 and is one of the biggest animated films of all time, grossing nearly $1 billion dollars at the box office. Meanwhile the musical of the same name, which celebrates 20 years since its Broadway debut this year, became the highest-grossing show of all time overtaking The Phantom Of The Opera. The film is set to be directed by The Jungle Book director Jon Favreau while James Earl Jones is rumoured to be reprising his role as Mufasa. The main setting of the 1994 film, Pride Rock, was inspired by a location within Kenya’s Hell’s Gate National Park, just south of Lake Naivasha. www.kws.go.ke/content/hells-gate-national-park
   
UK FCO LIFTS TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR LAMU ISLAND AND MANDA ISLAND 
On 9th March 2017, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) removed the travel advisory warning against all but essential travel for Lamu Island and Manda Island on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast. Both areas are now accessible by air with airlines serving this airport including Air Kenya, Safarilink, Fly 540 and Jambojet from Nairobi, as well as Mombasa Air Safari from Mombasa. Kenya’s coastline offers 500km of stunning Indian Ocean beaches and Lamu and Manda islands join other popular areas as part of the Kenya’s coast offering including Mombasa Island, Nyali, Vipingo, Kilifi, Watamu and Malindi on the North Coast, and Tiwi, Diani, Galu, Msambweni, Shimoni, Wasini Island and Funzi Island on the South Coast. “This latest announcement means visitors to Kenya have the opportunity to visit this beautiful area of the coastline, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lamu Old Town, the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa,” said Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Chairman, Mr. Jimi Kariuki.
KENYA WILDLIFE SERVICE DECLARES PARK ENTRY FEES ‘NON-CASH’ 
On 27th January 2017, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) issued a new policy that states cash can no longer be used to pay at the gates when on safari in Kenya. The KWS has instead adopted use of technology to ensure a better payment process and more efficient services for their customers and stakeholders. Alternative forms of payment are being accepted such as mobile money and VISA Card. KWS is conscientiously working to make the payment process faster and KWS Service Charter states that visitors should be served in less than five minutes. Customers have the option to pay directly into KWS foreign accounts in either US Dollars, pounds or euros or via the use of Visa and Master Card point of sale machines. www.kws.go.ke
 
CONFERENCE TOURISM AMOUNTED TO 14% OF THE TOTAL TOURIST ARRIVALS IN 2016
In 2016, Kenya hosted a number of international high profile conferences and, as a result, conference tourism amounted to 14% of the total tourist arrivals to the country last year. The Kenya Tourism Board is therefore aiming to position Nairobi as a regional hub and to further boost tourism to the country through this sector. From 20th to 23rd March this year, KTB Chief Executive officer Dr Betty Radier unveiled the first ever Pan-African campaign ‘TekeTeke’ which brought together travel agents from over 15 African countries for business to business sessions with the local trade. “Ease of access, availability of safari options within Nairobi city and its ranking by The World Travel Awards (WTA) as Africa’s Leading Meetings and Conference Destination has given Kenya a competitive edge over other destinations,” said Radier. She added “We are projecting Nairobi as the next must visit city in Africa for diverse product offering, facilities for conferencing and meetings, shopping, attractions and the most vibrant social scene in Africa.”
CONSERVATION NEWS:

KENYAN CONSERVATIONIST AND POLITICIAN RICHARD LEAKEY TO ATTEND CONSERVATION LAB 2017 
Following on from last year’s successful event, Beyond Luxury Media Ltd will host their 2nd edition of the Conservation Lab from 29th April to 1st May 2017. The two day workshop in South Africa will be attended by one of the biggest names in conservation, and Chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Trust, Dr Richard Leakey. The event brings together the conservation sector, travel industry, government, community and commercial enterprise to discuss conservation efforts. Other attendees include TV presenter and Kenyan conservationist Saba Douglas Hamilton, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Northern Rangelands Trust co-founder Ian Craig, and founder and CEO of Tusk Charles Mayhew MBE. For more information on the event and to apply for participant places (these are limited), visit www.conservation-lab.com
 
RESEARCH SHOWS OLARE MOTOROGI AND OL KINYEI CONSERVANCIES HAVE HIGHEST DENSITY OF LIONS IN AFRICA 
Nic Elliot, a researcher from Oxford University, is the Project Director of the Mara Lion Project and with his fellow zoologist, Arjun Gopalswamy, recently published a scientific paper on lion densities in the Mara eco-system which reported that the Olare Motorogi and Ol Kinyei private conservancies in the Maasai Mara have the highest density of lions in Africa. The research found that there was a higher lion density in the combined conservancies than in the Mara Reserve itself and so the report shows how vital the conservancies are for the species’ survival.  www.porini.com/blog/olare-motorogi-ol-kinyei-have-highest-lion-density-in-africa/ 
CHINA BANS DOMESTIC IVORY TRADE
In January 2017, the central government of China announced a ban on all domestic ivory trade and processing by the end of 2017 offering a glimmer of hope in the fight against elephant poaching. The decision is set to disrupt the global marketplace for the product compelling legal ivory processing industries to close down thereby eliminating the cover under which the illicit ivory trade had flourished. Similarly, the ban will put in place strict mechanisms of ivory collection and disallow the display of ivory products in physical and virtual markets. With approximately 415,000 elephants remaining in Africa, the step is crucial in ensuring the long-term survival of one of the continent’s most iconic species. The move is clear indication that Beijing is making good on its commitment to the African Union and African States during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in 2015, to cooperate in combatting poaching and illegal trade in wildlife.
THE PEREGRINE FUND SPEARHEADS PROTECTION OF VULTURE SPECIES IN NORTHERN KENYA
In the wake of catastrophic declines of vulture populations across Africa, The Peregrine Fund has partnered with the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Marwell Wildlife to monitor and protect critical breeding sites in northern Kenya. The epitome of a good scavenger, a vulture’s ability to pick clean a decaying carcass is critical to controlling the spread of disease to humans, livestock and other wildlife but their greatest strength is now their biggest threat. Poisoning is becoming a widespread practice among livestock owners wanting to eradicate predators, and this is taking a huge toll on vulture populations. In January 2017 Munir Virani of The Peregrine Fund, who have been monitoring vultures in northern Kenya since 2012, conducted a helicopter survey of Mt. Ololokwe with support from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. This iconic and sacred mountain sits inside Namunyak Community Conservancy and is home to the largest and most important breeding colony of critically endangered Rüppell’s vultures, and many other species of rare and endangered raptors, in Kenya. The flight aimed to provide The Peregrine Fund with an idea of just how many vultures were nesting on Ololokwe’s sheer cliff faces. With this information, they hope to establish a baseline by which future conservation actions will be measured. Lewa Conservancy, NRT, Marwell Wildlife and The Peregrine Fund are working together towards developing field and community-based programs to educate communities on the habitat requirements of bird communities over the larger landscape of NRT conservancies. www.nrt-kenya.org/news-list/2017/2/2/the-vanishing-vulture
KENYA BANS PLASTIC BAGS 
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources, Prof. Judi Wakhungu, last month announced an official ban on plastic bags in Kenya, which will become effective on 28th August this year. The ban will affect the use, production and importation of all forms of plastic bag, giving supermarkets and shops, manufacturers and importers ample notice to use up existing stocks before this type of packaging material becomes illegal to use. Conservationists were swift to praise the ban which will positively contribute towards conserving Kenya’s landscapes and wildlife.
TRANSPORT NEWS: 

NEW PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICE BETWEEN NAIROBI AND MOMBASA NEARS COMPLETION 
The construction of Kenya’s first standard-gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, at a cost of $3.2 billion, is expected to be completed by summer 2017. According to Kenya’s Transport Principal Secretary, Irungu Nyakera, civil works on the railway project are 80% complete. Nyakera says 280km of track has so far been laid from Voi to Sultan Hamud and the total route length is 472km. He adds that the Kenyan government has already started the acquisition of locomotives, passenger coaches and wagons, with 56 locomotives set to be delivered from China before the end of the year. The railway will revolutionise transport in Kenya, says Nyakera, with the journey taking only four hours from Mombasa to Nairobi. It will also relieve congestion on the Nairobi-Mombasa highway. Tourism players are confident that the commissioning of the standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Nairobi will boost tourism. Kenya Coast Tourism Association Chairman, Mohamed Hersi, said the railway will make it easier for tourists to travel from Nairobi to Mombasa.
HOTEL NEWS: 

GREAT PLAINS CONSERVATION OPENS FIRST STABLES IN THE MAASAI MARA
In February 2017, eco-tourism operator Great Plains Conservation announced the opening of the first permanent riding stables in the Maasai Mara. Ride Kenya-Mara is a standalone riding stable housing 16 horses, offering morning and afternoon rides in the Maasai Mara and the private conservancies of Olare Motorogi, Mara North and Naboisho, with a maximum group size of just eight riders. The stables are located on the border of the Maasai Mara and the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, around 1.5km from Great Plains Conservation’s Mara Expedition Camp and 2km from Mara Plains Camp. Head guides, Ali Mundy and Martin Dodwell bring years of experience and top-condition horses and equipment. Ride Kenya-Mara is just one hour from Nairobi by scheduled air transfer. Participants must be competent horse riders, a minimum of 14 years old and weigh no more than 95kg. www.greatplainsconservation.com
   
ALMANARA LAUNCHES LUXURY BOUTIQUE HOTEL CASA BELLA 
Located on Diani Beach, Almanara Luxury Resort boasts six fully inclusive villas along with a spectacular Presidential Villa. Complete with personal chef and maid services, this all-inclusive resort provides guests with the chance to enjoy seven star luxury while experiencing African culture and hospitality. In 2017, the formerly secluded presidential villa was turned into luxury boutique hotel ‘Casa Bella’. The two-floor hotel features five lavish ensuite bedrooms, two Deluxe Ocean View Suites and three Deluxe Ocean View Rooms, an infinity pool, Jacuzzi and treatment room as well as its own beach garden. Each booking is on an all-inclusive basis which includes three freshly prepared daily meals with local ingredients, a range of beverages, local transfers and activities. Casa Bella can be booked for exclusive private hire and sleeps up to 12 people. www.almanararesort.com/villas/presidential-villa
  
LAZIZI PREMIERE NAIROBI HOTEL OPENS IT DOORS 
Indian hotel chain Sarovar Hotels and Resorts opened the first official hotel located at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in January 2017. The 144-room hotel features three conference rooms, a swimming pool, spa, gym, bar and café. Sarovar operates more than 75 hotels across 50 destinations in India and Africa and has two further Nairobi properties in its portfolio: the Zehneria Portico and the Heron Portico. www.thelazizihotels.com
 
KENYA’S GIRAFFE MANOR FEATURES IN BBC TWO’S AMAZING HOTELS: LIFE BEYOND THE LOBBY SERIES
Episode 3 of BBC Two’s new ‘Amazing Hotels’ series travelled to Kenya’s iconic Giraffe Manor in Nairobi as Giles Coren and Monica Galetti went behind the scenes at this unique hotel where Rothschild giraffes, staff and guests all co-exist in a Scottish-style hunting lodge on the edge of Nairobi National Park. Viewers were invited to follow the cameras and crew as they tagged along with the manor staff and discover what it takes to provide such an immersive and exceptional experience to a never-ending stream of awe-struck visitors, all of whom have expectations as high as the giraffes can reach! The programme, which also visited Giraffe Manor’s sister property, Sasaab, in in Samburu, aired on Monday 10th April and can now be viewed on BBC iplayer:
www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08mjgp1/amazing-hotels-life-beyond-the-lobby-series-1-3-giraffe-manor-kenya
NEW SARUNI RHINO CAMP LAUNCHES FIRST ON-FOOT BLACK RHINO TRACKING EXPERIENCE
In February 2017, the Saruni group in Kenya opened new safari property, Saruni Rhino and launched the first ever opportunity in East Africa to track the majestic black rhino on foot. Saruni Rhino is located in the Sera Community Conservancy, a vast wildlife reserve of 350,000 hectares in the spectacular Northern Kenya region which is the first community conservancy in Africa. It is the only conservancy to own and operate a sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of an iconic species, a historical achievement for conservation in Kenya. The relocation of the black rhinos from other parks and reserves in Kenya has been facilitated by Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) in partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) which marks the return of the endangered black rhino to the land of the Samburu warriors after an absence of a quarter of a century. Saruni Rhino offers a unique walking safari experience tracking black rhino on foot, accompanied by an expert Saruni guide and a highly-trained Sera Community Conservancy ranger who uses a combination of traditional Samburu tracking methods and electronic transmitters to track the black rhino. A four-night twin-centre trip with two nights at Saruni Rhino and two nights at nearby Saruni Samburu starts from $630 (USD) pppn sharing plus an additional $175 pp conservation fee applies which includes the Rhino tracking experience. www.saruni.com / www.nrt-kenya.org
SANCTUARY AT OL LENTILLE CELEBRATES 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY 
Opened in 2007 as Laikipia’s first lodge with private villas, the Sanctuary at Ol Lentille is a pioneering example of how private partnerships with the community can successfully work in Kenya. Located in the Ol Lentille Conservancy in the far northern escarpment of the Laikipia Plateau, the lodge has spectacular views of Mount Kenya, the Samburu sacred mountain of Ololokwe, the Matthews Range and the Karisia Hills. 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the safari lodge and in celebration, every tenth booking made and travelling in 2017 will be free* and a four for three offer is valid throughout 2017. Ol Lentille offers a range of activities including traditional game drives, walking safaris, quad biking safaris and camel riding safaris along with facilities including a pool and spa. Rates start from US$500 per person per night. www.ol-lentille.com *Applicable to bookings made on or after 1st March 2017 only, excluding conservation fees, valid for two people in low and mid-season 
- Ends -

For more information on Kenya visit:

www.magicalkenya.com or call 0207 7593 1731

 


For further press information please contact:

Daniela Resenterra, Senior PR Account Manager
Email: danielar@hillsbalfour.com / Tel: 020 7593 1771
Josie Self, PR Account Manager
Email: josies@hillsbalfour.com / Tel:  020 7593 1758
Annabel Jenkins, PR Account Executive
Email: annabelj@hillsbalfour.com / Tel: 020 7593 1770

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In 2010, Charity Challenge organised a celebrity trek to Machu Picchu in Peru for Denise Van Outen, Fearne Cotton, Alexandra Burke, Amanda Byram and Gabriella Cilmi, in aid of Breast Cancer Care. The logistics were huge, and we came to rely on Hills Balfour for their support and advice in their role as representatives for PromPeru. The trip was a huge success and we anticipate an increase in bookings for our Peru challenges in 2011 of around 300%.

Simon Albert,
Director, Charity Challenge

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MEET THE TEAM

Nick Evans

What I have done…
My first foray into both the travel industry and social media came while travelling through Latin America. I was picking up freelance work along the way for a group of hostels and, on the back of that, worked in Ecuador for three months creating a new social strategy for Exclusive Hotels and Haciendas of Ecuador. Drawing from those experiences and a deep fascination with both social and digital media I founded Student Dimension, while at Bristol University studying Spanish, a small marketing company designed to help small organisations break into the new world of communication we live in. Since graduating and moving to London I have worked in all areas of the social and digital spectrum, from filming and editing to content creation and consultation for the likes of Discover New England, South Africa Tourism, Discover Canada and STA Travel to Microsoft and McDonalds.
In 2014, I was invited to be a partner of Vida Digital, a new media think-tank that specialises in understanding modern media ecology and the talent that works within it. I was also made a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2015 for my work within the education sector with an organisation called Foresight and recently assisted Nesta, the self-proclaimed ‘innovation foundation’, in their study of hyperlocal media platforms across the UK.
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