Tourism

Botswana, the country you should visit in 2016 if haven’t yet

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Lonely Planet, best known for large selection of travel guide books, has released its “Best in Travel in 2016” lists. Botswana was named the number one country to be visited. This is a great recognition to Botswana that has steadily improved its popularity among tourists over years.

Botswana businesses and industries, driven by mining, concentrate in southwestern parts of the country. In contrast, major tourist attractions – game parks and Okavango Delta – are mostly located in northern Botswana. Maun is the local tourism capital. It is a relatively small town, without much to do in itself, but is considerably more pleasant than big congested cities in other countries. Another small touristy town is Kasane, in the northeastern corner of the country. Both towns are connected to Johannesburg by direct flights.

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“Don’t you have any smaller notes?”

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The topic question is what I hear too often when trying to buy something while travelling abroad. So I have only big notes for a purchase of minimal price. What I pay with cash is drinks, snacks, small meals, bus rides, tips or other minor payments. Bigger payments like flights and hotel nights are usually paid by credit cards. Paying with large notes also eats my credibility as a budget traveller. Imagine, for instance, haggling hard for a cheap taxi ride only to hand over a large note hoping he got enough change.

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Make your travel safe, essential tips

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This article provides some recommendations how to stay safe while travelling. These tips are useful regardless of the destination, but especially when travelling to those countries where security risks are the most.

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Western countries lead the World Economic Forum’s tourism ranking

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The World Economic Forum has published the 2015 edition of its  biennial Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report. The ranking is dominated by western countries, the top three positions are taken by Spain, France and Germany. The best African country is South Africa, 48th, thus just making the top-50. Seychelles, Mauritius and Namibia are the only other African countries reaching the upper half of the table (TOP 70). Instead, the bottom 25 has 19 African countries, and that includes Ethiopia, Malawi and Mozambique that are actually fairly popular with tourists. The last place (141) is taken by Chad.

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World Tourism Organization 2014 stats – small growth in Africa

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World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has recently published the 2014 statistics on international tourism. These are summarised on the UNWTO Tourism Highlights (2015 edition) publication. Globally tourism has been growing almost uninterrupted since the 1950’s. Europe accounts still about half of all international tourist arrivals, but emerging regions, especially Asia-Pacific but also Middle East and Africa have seen stronger growth in the last 30 years. Asia-Pacific region has now overtaken the Americas as the second most popular region. Despite the growth since 1980’s, Africa remains a minor player in world tourism, with 2014 being a year of a slow growth, not least due to Ebola outbreak.
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More unwelcome visa news – Uganda and Malawi fee hikes

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UPDATE, July 30, 2016: The cost of Uganda single-entry visa has been reduced back to 50 USD, so the double price was a short experiment ending in a foreseeable failure.  For Malawi, the current visa fees appear to be 75 USD for a 3-month-visa, or 50 USD for transit visa valid for seven days.

Just as Kenya stops issuing visa on arrival, two other African countries punish tourists by significantly increasing visa fees. Reports say that the cost of Ugandan single entry visa has been doubled from 50 to 100 USD, while the Malawi visa is or will be increased to 75 USD, while previously visa-exempt nationalities have to pay for a visa.

Western tourists are used to visit most countries of interest without having to pay for a visa, but just few of those countries are in Africa. Recent fee hikes further highlight the divide. Majority of potential tourists shun Africa due to numerous image problems the continent has, and new visa rules will not improve situation.

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Kenya introduces online visa application, visa on arrival to be scrapped

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Starting from July 1st, 2015 Kenya introduced e-visa, meaning the Kenyan visa will be applied online from now on. Visa on arrival will be available until August 30, 2015, but thereafter every visitor to Kenya must have obtained the e-visa (save those from visa-exempt countries). Visa will be applied through the Kenya E-Citizen portal. Visa application process should take at least two days and up to a week. A visitor may be denied boarding a plane if he/she fails to provide a proof of a granted visa. Thus booking a trip to Kenya on a short notice will be difficult or impossible, as a consequence Kenya will lose potential tourists.

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