A tragic plane crash happened in Empakaai, near Ngorongoro, Tanzania on November 15, 2017. The Cessna 208 Caravan plane, operated by Coastal Aviation, was flying from Arusha to Serengeti National Park. Ten passengers and the sole pilot perished in the accident (Reuters news piece).
Despite being a relatively small plane, eleven victims make it among the worst plane crashes in 2017, that has been a remarkably quiet year in terms of aviation accidents.
Yet there has been very little about the crash in the international media, even if the plane carried western tourists. There is space for only one Africa news item at a time, and for the last few days it has been the coup in Zimbabwe.
Only three weeks earlier did the airline have another accident, it was only luck that everyone survived that time ( Dar Post report ).
Coastal Aviation has been known to be a reliable airline serving mainly tourist with scheduled and chartered flights between main cities, national parks and Zanzibar. These accidents are a major blow to the airline, which may now face uncertain times.
Tanzania has recently introduced an 18% Value-added tax (VAT) on tourism services , including ground transportation, tour guides, parks fees and camping fees. Hotel fees are not affected, as these are already subject to VAT.
Tour operators and other tourism stakeholders have appealed the government to repeal the tax, so far to deaf ears. Both Kenya and Zimbabwe issued new taxes on tourism recently, only to scrap them after realizing how badly these affects tourism. Thanks to internet, tourists today are more price-sensitive than ever, and will easily change their destination in favour of a cheaper option. Kenya’s recovering tourism will certainly benefit of new taxes in their southern neighbor.
Tanzanian general elections were held a fortnight ago. The incumbent president, Jakaya Kikwete, has served his two terms and steps down now. This won’t mean the end of rule by Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which, counting in its predecessor Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), has held the power since the 60’s. This despite the restoration of multi-party system 20 years ago.
The new CCM flag-bearer is John Magufuli, who beat two female candidates in the preliminaries. It comes as no surprise, that after a sluggish tallying, Magufuli of CCM was declared the winner of the presidential election. Nevertheless, for the first time, CCM had to face a strong opposition candidate, Edward Lowassa of CHADEMA, who garnered 40% of votes, against Magufuli’s 58%.
Since 2014 the East African Tourist Visa (abbreviated here as EATV), has been available so tourists can enter Kenya, Uganda and/or Rwanda using a single visa. The visa will be valid for 90 days, is multiple-entry (but read my experiences below), and can be obtained on arrival at airports (not sure about border crossing points). The cheapest single entry visas to Uganda and Kenya cost 50 USD, and to Rwanda 30 USD. So if going to Kenya and Uganda, obtaining EATV makes sense, but if going to Rwanda and only either Kenya or Uganda and not re-entering any of these countries, then it will be cheaper to get single entry visas instead.
Using mobile internet in Africa can be a frustrating experience. 3G networks are very limited, speeds often low, networks may get down, and lastly, data bundles can be expensive and tend to have small data caps. Unlimited plans are handy as one does not have to constantly worry about exceeding data limits, but hardly any operators dare to offer them. However, in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania some operators provide affordably priced prepaid unlimited data plans. These are are my experiences how they work, and whether are worth the money. Read the rest of this entry »