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A floating pizza bar in the middle of the South Pacific

As our two-engine speedboat starts the journey back to Port Denarau Marina, a major port on Fiji’s main island, we lurch to an unexpected stop.

A seal on the fuel injector on the engine has loosened, so we sputter back to the mainland at half the usual pace.

But the possibility of such a transit hiccup is the chance you take when visiting a floating pizza bar in the middle of the South Pacific.

Opened in 2013, Cloud 9 bobs above Roro Reef in the Mamanuca archipelago, about 45 minutes off the west coast of Fiji.

“Prior to Cloud 9, Fiji was famous for family getaways and swaying palms, but it was really, really quiet,” Bar’el Wachtel, co-founder of Cloud 9, tells CNN Travel.

“There’s still not a lot to do, but Cloud 9 offers a gathering spot for people to come from all the hotels and experience a different kind of place.”

A ticket to paradise

If a buoyant bar in the middle of the ocean sounds like someone’s pipe dream — that’s not too far off the mark.

An Australian DJ, sailor and avid surfer, Wachtel dreamed up the remote bar with friends during a surfing trip in Fiji.

“I’d always been from a marine background — my father is a yachtie and circumnavigator — and the sea has been my home for a very long time,” recalls Wachtel.

“Surfing brought me to Fiji as a visitor about seven years ago. It’s a really tricky place to surf, because the breaks are so isolated. You really need a boat to access everything. We thought it’d be amazing to have a meeting place, closer to the breaks.”

When scouting locations, Wachtel and his business partner chose the spot carefully.

They finally settled on a crystal-clear lagoon, about nine miles southwest of Fiji’s famous Cloudbreak swell.

Thanks to surrounding islands, the relatively shallow water is generally protected from the strongest winds and waves.

The restaurant has one mooring, so it sways gently in the breeze and, in case of a storm, a boat can tug it to safety in about one day.

Build it and they’ll come

Cloud9 Fiji floating pizza restaurant

Designed by Fiji-based architect Lisa Philp, the floating restaurant was constructed using three different types of local wood: mahogany, raintree and treated pine.

The two-story structure sits atop two pontoons, while sun shades protect guests from the intense rays and solar panels power the entire operation.

“We wanted people to be able to move easily in and out of the water, to have some dry areas, and also plenty of shade,” says Wachtel.

“The over-water structure allows guests to access the reef in a way that’s not possible if we were to have just set up on land.”

The most complicated part of the process wasn’t in the restaurant’s construction, but in the building of relationships with various local stakeholders.

“Here in Fiji, there is the government and then there are the land owners, the indigenous custodians of any area. Gaining their support is crucial to being able to operate everywhere in Fiji,” explains Wachtel.

The hardest part was about six months after opening.

“We encountered a lot of hurdles,” he adds. “I needed to move to Fiji and take over the operation, because my first business partner, who was the original manager, didn’t get it right.”

A day on Cloud 9

Cloud9 Fiji floating pizza restaurant Cloud 9 was mostly a hangout for serious surfers when it first opened, but the guest list has expanded considerably over the years to include young couples, groups of friends and even a few families.

With two daily sessions, Wachtel estimates that the place welcomes roughly 200 visitors a day during peak season.

When guests disembark from the ferry, they tend to find their own little nook.

Each level offers varied seating arrangements, including large day beds, shaded communal tables, bar seating and rows of sun-soaked reclining chairs.

Once settled, you can rent snorkel gear, jump from the top deck and swim around the reef, where you’ll find colorful coral and a smattering of fascinating fish.

“A lot of places offer a party on an island, but I was attracted to this project because it’s unique and it’s authentic,” says Wachtel.

“You get the feeling of being really far out, but you still have a sense of proximity to a lot of important tourist destinations, such as Port Denarau.”

The floating paradise also lures music lovers from all over the world, thanks to a rotating roster of guest DJs, including international DJ Ant J. Steep — an Australian DJ and composer who fills the air with mellow, moody electronic beats.

“Since I was coming from a music background, it was important for me to figure out a way to throw parties out here and provide a cutting-edge music policy,” says Wachtel.

Following each guest DJ performance, Wachtel uploads the set to Cloud 9’s Soundcloud account so visitors can tune in at home.

How’s the pizza like?

Served on thick wood butchers’ boards, thin crust, wood-fired pizza is the order of the day.

 Cloud 9 Fiji floating pizza restaurant

There are about six options available, including classic Margherita and Hawaiian (topped with ham and pineapple).

It’s maybe not the best pizza we’ve ever had, but we were impressed with the homemade dough (made fresh every morning) and crispy crust.

“Pizza was an elegant solution, because we have environmental considerations out here,” says Wachtel. “With a full menu, you need to have a full kitchen.”

“Waste is obviously a very important logistical consideration for us — we have to transport everything back to the mainland and we want to preserve the beauty of the area, so we do everything we can to minimize waste.”

At the bar, day drinkers can order tropical cocktails from every shade in the rainbow, a few local beers like Fiji Gold and Fiji Bitter, and a handful of wines and bubbly.

“Obviously having a fully stocked bar was very important,” recalls Wachtel. “We wanted to have the raddest lounge bar in the world — a meeting place in the middle of the ocean.”

Source: CNN.com

Would you sleep in a glass pod hanging off a cliff?

Would you sleep in a transparent capsule hanging off the side of a Peruvian mountain?

That’s the idea behind the spectacular Skylodge Adventures Suites, glass lodges precariously situated on the side of a cliff in Peru’s Sacred Valley.

If you’re brave enough, these crystalline pods are accessible only after climbing 400 meters (about 1,300 feet) of the rock face or hiking a daring trail featuring a zip-line network.

The motivation behind these dramatic lodges was to offer “a unique experience that that [reconnects guests] with nature or make them realize what really luxury can be,” Natalia Rodriguez, the SkyLodge manager, tells CNN Travel.

The suites are the brainchild of adventure company Natura Vive — who want their guests to embrace their inner adventurer: once you’re ready to leave your suite, you can zip-wire down to the ground below.

Inside these 24- by eight-feet pods, guests are treated to views worth marvelling over– alongside four beds, a dining area and a private bathroom.

SkylodgeTimelapse99

– Inside, guests are treated to fantastic views — alongside beds, a dining area and a private bathroom.

The beds have down pillows and quilts, ensuring you’ll sleep well if you aren’t distracted by stargazing.

Rodriguez says the main challenges of constructing this unique structure were “getting things up there” and “designing it to handle winds.”

Don’t worry though — the pods are crafted from aerospace aluminum and weather resistant polycarbonate — so Natura Vive promises they are secure and guests are safe.

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– A stay in the lodge includes a gourmet dinner with bottle of wine and a hearty breakfast.

This unconventional vacation will set you back roughly 1335 Peruvian soles/$400 for one night. The price includes private transportation to and from your lodge, equipment, guides — plus a gourmet dinner with bottle of wine, and breakfast overlooking the valley below.

For those who’d rather not stay the night, SkyLodge offers a lunch-only, Peruvian gastronomic experience — from 770 Peruvian Soles/$237 per person.

SkylodgeTimelapse449

-The SkyLodge suites are for adventurers only.

Peru’s Sacred Valley — home to natural wonders, greenery and archaeological ruins — is book-ended (more or less) by two UNESCO World Heritage sites: former Imperial capital Cusco and 15th century Inca citadel Machu Picchu.

The SkyLodges are well positioned to allow guests a day or two to admire the Valley from above, before venturing below and onto Macchu Picchu.

Inside Sweden’s new floating hotel

A good vacation is an escape from the every day and this upcoming resort in the Swedish Lapland, couldn’t be further from normal life — it’s literally floating on a river in the middle of nowhere.

ArcticBath is a new hotel adrift on the Lule River in the Scandinavian north — a glacial haven of snow-tipped forests, world-class fishing, amazing wildlife and the Northern Lights.

The resort is from the team behind the region’s acclaimed Treehotel — the quirky brainchild of owners Britta and Kent Lindvall, situated amongst the forest canopy.

ArcticBath will offer a similar mix of luxury and nature — inspired by the wild, stunning Swedish surroundings.

Homegrown ethos

Arctic Bath Hotellrum (1)

The unusual design of ArcticBath has a homegrown history.

“You don’t have to copy things made elsewhere, it’s not interesting,” says ArcticBath articitect Bertil Harström — who worked on the project alongside Johan Kauppi. “I think the interesting things come from your own history and your background.”

Bertil Harström tells CNN Travel that the zany design is inspired by Swedish log-shipping traditions.

Arctic Bath patio

Until the mid-20th century, logs were transporting along Swedish waterways. En route, the timber would often get stuck on the rapids and form clusters of floating logs.

The architect recalled this image from his childhood — and it became his main inspiration for the new design.

“It was a symbol for that era,” Harström says. “So I chose to build this idea around the connection to the forest in the north.”

The resulting circular structure is a striking combination of man-made and natural influences.

“I don’t call myself a sophisticated intellectual architect designer, I work with more conceptual structures,” says Harström.

Internaal and external

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The resort is home to six, 25-square-meter hotel rooms alongside saunas, a cold plunge pool, spa treatment rooms, a restaurant and bar and the central open-air bath.

Visitors will access the resort from a wooden walkway.

“You can say that the building is rather introvert, the focus is on the inside,” says Harström. “So if you see it from a distance, you will have some problems to guess what is inside.”

During winter, the resort will be frozen into the ice. During the summer it’ll be floating in the river.

The center of the bath will offer spectacular panoramas of the Swedish night sky above.

“It’s not a traditional façade in architecture,” says Harström, who also worked on one of the treehouses for the nearby TreeHotel. “I think TreeHotel prepared the world for ArcticBath as the next project.”

Local community

Arctic Bath Winter side

Harström says locals in the nearby village of Harads have been very encouraging about the project, especially after the success of TreeHotel:

“They are confident now […] that it will be something good for society,” says Harström.

The designers and owners are also conscious of protecting the environment — as well as providing an excellent tourist experience. Harström says their ambitions are supported by the local government.

Arctic Bath Topview winter

“They have been positive, and now we have all the papers that we need for starting up the building process,” explains Harström.

ArcticBath is due to open in the latter half of 2018.

Dine with the fishes at world’s largest all-glass underwater restaurant

A warning to travelers heading below sea level to dine at luxury Maldives resort Hurawalhi’s 5.8 Undersea Restaurant.
Your manners will likely be left up on the surface — along with your shoes.
Cutting off one’s companion mid-sentence is almost a certainty as you rush to point out one of the remarkable sea creatures swimming by, whether it’s a reef shark or — if you’re lucky — an octopus.
You might even find yourself giving your dining partner the silent treatment, mesmerized by the marine life that have made the stunning coral reef their home, from colorful parrot fish to moray eels and tiny mantis shrimp.

Largest of its kind

Opened in late 2016, 5.8 Undersea Restaurant is the world’s largest all-glass underwater restaurant. Its name comes from the depth at which the restaurant sits — 5.8 meters (about 19 feet) below the surface.
This huge construction weighs 400 metric tonnes and is 90 square meters.
To access the restaurant, diners walk across a pier towards the resort’s over-water Aquarium Restaurant and head down a separate path to a long, winding staircase.
Each of 5.8’s 10 tables offers views of the outside action.
The coral landscape, which stretches around the edges of the tubular structure, draws all shapes and sizes of sea life right up to the glass, leaving you with the inescapable feeling that you’re the one on display and the sea life are actually looking in at you.

Does the food match the scenery?

It’s tempting to feel sorry for the chef tasked with creating a menu that competes with these views.
But during a recent visit by CNN Travel, German chef Bjoern van den Oever’s dishes had us not just excited for what was swimming by the glass, but what would next appear on our plates during the seven-course dinner.
“it’s a lot of pressure,” admits van den Oever, who works with a team of six chefs.
“You have to keep up with the surroundings, you don’t want people getting bored by the food. So we have to always keep the food exciting as well.”
Maldives Hurawalhi
As a result, he says lot of people have underestimated the restaurant and come in with low expectations — only to be blown away.
“We wanted to create something special,” he says.
“More like where people can sit and have a whole theater of things going on. Not only the fish outside, but also on the plate. So everything was very inspired by the surroundings: the coral life, the fish. And there’s a lot of small details where you can look on the coral and you get the reflection on your plate.”
Courses include a mix of unique meat and seafood-based dishes that emphasize the flavors of the local and imported ingredients. For example, there’s the “Diver Scallops,” served with apricot and almond vinaigrette.
“We take one product and we try to make the best out of it,” says the chef.
Maldives Hurawalhi
German chef Bjoern van den Oever oversees the menu at 5.8 Undersea Restaurant.
courtesy Hurawalhi
“So you have scallop in two ways: You have the seared scallop and then the scallop tartare. Which shows, basically, both the raw and the cooked scallop so we have a better experience eating the dish.”
All courses — sent down via a tiny elevator near the kitchen above — are paired with a selection of top wines, selected by the resort’s sommelier.
In addition to the seven-course dinner menu there’s a four- or seven-course lunch. Diners from other resorts are welcome to visit — provided they don’t have kids in tow. Hurawalhi is an adults-only resort.
According to van den Oever, some diners even fly in just for lunch.
“I became a chef because I wanted to make people happy,” he says. “And with a restaurant like this, it’s very easy.”

If you build it, the fish will come

The natural reef landscape framing 5.8 was created by Hurawalhi dive instructor Paige Bennett.
“Basically what I did is [find] dislodged coral blocks, which were not healthy,” she says. “Then, I transported them to the restaurant in hopes that it would start to regain these coral animals that live inside.”
In the beginning, it was an experiment, so she started out with small pieces. Then, after a couple of weeks, the corals regrew.
Maldives Hurawalhi
Aerial view of 5.8 Undersea Restaurant.
courtesy Hurawalhi
Knowing that certain fish live in symbiosis with certain corals, she chose the pieces that would attract specific fish, which would then attract other marine life.
“Once I saw that it was going to work then we started to take bigger blocks and create a natural reef landscape, something that would attract fish in a way that is representative of the Maldives.
“It’s an actual living, thriving reef system and ecosystem, which will grow on its own.”
Though the sheer breadth of sea life drawn to 5.8’s corals is to be expected given the diversity of the Maldives’ marine ecosystems, Bennett admits they were surprised by just how many species decided to move in.
“That’s what makes it so rewarding now,” she says.
But long before any coral was built came the most difficult task of all — actually building the restaurant.
Manufactured in New Zealand, the restaurant’s glass is 15 centimeters thick and was shipped in one entire piece then lowered down with a special crane — a process that took two years in total. (Footage of the lowering can be viewed in in the above video.)

Hurawalhi Island Resort

Though the chef says there are diners who visit 5.8 from other resorts, most are in-house guests of Hurawalhi.
Located in the Maldives’ Lhaviyani Atoll, this five-star luxury resort was designed by Japanese architect Yuji Yamazaki, of YYA New York, and is owned by Crown & Champa Resorts.
Just a 40-minute seaplane flight from Male International Airport, it’s made up of 90 spacious, contemporary villas. Sixty are over-the-water villas and 30 are on the beach. Some come with infinity pools.
The resort offers a variety of dining and drinking packages, from half-board to all-inclusive. In addition to the 5.8 Undersea Restaurant, there’s the over-water Aquarium Restaurant and the beach-side buffet-style Canneli Restaurant. (The spread is vast yet of a high quality — exactly what you want in a buffet.)
Maldives Hurawalhi
Hurawalhi offers a mix of over-water and beach villas.
courtesy Hurawalhi
Bars include the Coco Bar, located on the beach and open 24 hours. Aquarium Bar is over-water and offers indoor and outdoor seating. The small Champagne Pavilion, also over-water, sits at the end of the Ocean Villa jetty. It’s the ultimate place for a sundowner. Bonus: Pods of dolphins regularly pass by.
In terms of activities, the resort offers a wide range of sports and excursions both on and off land, many of them free.
The dive center caters to beginner and experienced divers and can plan dives on either the resort’s house reef or to some of the Lhaviyani Atoll’s 50-some dive sites.
But, this being the Maldives, even the snorkeling is incredible.
Due to Hurawalhi’s unique position in the atoll, the area attracts a huge array of marine life, such as manta rays, reef sharks and — as we experienced first-hand with Bennett — a group of massive sea turtles that regularly gathers to feed on sea grass.
Hurawalhi Island Resort, Lhaviyani Atol, Maldives; +960 6622000
Source: CNN

Akufo-Addo receives AAI’s National Achievement Award

Steve Pfeiffer and Kofi Appenteng, President and CEO of the Africa America Institute, presenting the National Achievement Award to President Akufo-Addo

The Africa – America Institute (AAI) has awarded President Nana Akufo-Addo with the institute’s National Achievement Award for the year 2017.

The award, which is also for the people of Ghana, was bestowed on the president on Tuesday in New York at the institute’s 33rd Annual Awards Gala.

The award is to recognise the President and the people of Ghana “for their continued leadership and excellence in promoting democracy, accountability and peaceful transitions of power”, a citation for the award said.

In his acceptance speech, President Akufo-Addo said “Ghanaians are deeply humbled by the award”.

According to President Akufo-Addo, the award, which recognises Ghana’s status as a free, democratic and stable country in Africa, is as a result of the contributions of successive generations of Ghanaian patriots who played invaluable roles in establishing the free, sovereign and democratic Ghana.

He noted that over the course of Ghana’s long, tortuous history, it has emerged that “the spirit of the Ghanaian, in his or her quest for peace, progress and prosperity, cannot be quenched. We are a determined lot, who cannot be deterred.”

Ghana flag

Despite taking a while to reach a consensus on the establishment of multi-party constitutional, democratic rule in Ghana, he added that “today, after quite some time, we are recognised as a beacon of democracy and stability on the African continent. We are a country governed by the principles of democratic accountability, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the rule of law, an aspiring modern nation.”

It is for this reason that President Akufo-Addo indicated that, in the aftermath of the disputed elections of 2012, “we demonstrated clearly that it was not the ambitions of Akufo-Addo, or the fortunes of the New Patriotic Party, that we sought to promote. The stability and progress of Ghana, and the enhancement of her democracy, were the paramount considerations that guided our every action in those difficult days.”

Ghana’s future 

President Akufo-Addo giving his acceptance speech

President Akufo-Addo told the packed gathering that the time has now come for Ghana to move on even further to deepen her democracy.

“It is time to make sure that we have a genuine separation of powers between the various arms of government. Our Parliament, the legislative arm of government, must grow into its proper role as an effective machinery for accountability and oversight of the Executive. Our Judiciary must inspire confidence in the citizens, so we can all see the courts as the ultimate, impartial arbiters when disputes arise, as they would,” he stressed.

Additionally, he noted that Ghana must also decentralise more, and devolve more power with corresponding resources to the base of her political system and to her people, in the regions and communities.

President Akufo-Addo being congratulated after the receipt of the award

President Akufo-Addo being congratulated after the receipt of the award, while First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo looks on

“We must trust the individual and collective wisdom and good sense of our people. We must create wealth and restore happiness to our nation. We can only do this when we have a powerful private sector, with a strong sense of enterprise, innovation and creativity, and an educated and skilled population that is capable of competing in the global economy,” President Akufo-Addo added.

It is for this reason that his government, he told the gathering, is insisting on making basic education, i.e. kindergarten through primary school to junior high school to senior high school, free in all the country’s public schools, to guarantee access to quality basic education to all of Ghana’s children, irrespective of the circumstances of their birth.

“In doing so, we must expand our horizons and embrace science and technology as critical tools for our development. We want to create a society of opportunities and incentives. We have to build a confident Ghana which is united, at peace with itself and takes pride in its diversity, and which continues to pursue its pan-African vocation,” he added.

Tribute to successive generations

President Akufo-Addo paid tribute to a tall list of Ghanaians who made the receipt of the award possible.

This list included the members of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society; the great nationalists who gathered at Saltpond to inaugurate the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC); Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and leading stalwarts of the government of the Conventions Peoples Party.

The President also paid tribute to some others, who are not listed among the forefront fighters for political freedom, ”but who fought equally hard for our cultural integrity and identity of who we are as Ghanaians, such as Philip Gbeho, Ephraim Amu, Theodosia Okoh, Amon Kotei, Kofi Antubam, Ayi Kwei Armah and Ama Ata Aidoo, Esther Ocloo, Dede Asikisham, Akua Shorshorshor, and other pioneer entrepreneurs.

He also paid tribute to his predecessor Presidents of the country, ”all of whom contributed in their diverse ways, during their respective tenures of office, variously to the Ghana we are celebrating tonight, the Ghana of Freedom and Justice, the stirring words of our national motto.”

Africa-America Institute  

Founded in 1953, the Africa-America Institute is a premier U.S.-based international organization dedicated to strengthening human capacity of Africans and promoting the continent’s development through higher education and skills training, convening activities, program implementation and management.

AAI raises funds to provide scholarships to smart and under-resourced students to attend top-performing African universities and develops programs that focus on increasing the skills of the next generation of African youth so that they become globally competitive.

AAI alumni are at the forefront of Africa’s public, non-profit, and private sectors.

The Gala supports AAI’s efforts to strengthen the human capacity of Africans and to promote enlightened engagement between Africa and America through education, skills training, dialogue and special events.

The award ceremony brought together diplomats, international and senior US government officials, business and civil society leaders, educators, philanthropists, journalists and other prominent figures.

 

 

 

Credit:

Graphic.com

Ghana picks 10 awards at Travel Market Confab in Lagos

Ms Nancy Sam Quartey, the President of the Tour Operators Union of Ghana (TOUGHA), receiving her award from Mr Ikechi Uko

Ms Nancy Sam Quartey, the President of the Tour Operators Union of Ghana (TOUGHA), receiving her award from Mr Ikechi Uko,surrounded by the Ghanaian contingent with their awards

Ghana’s tourism industry received recognition last Monday at an Africa Travel Market Conference underway in Nigeria where the country picked 10 awards in the travel and tourism sectors.

Ten women, including the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mrs Catherine A. Afeku, and the Minister of Aviation, Ms Cecilia Dapaah, were honoured for their respective contributions to the growth of the travel and tourism sectors in Ghana.

AwardeesOther awardees were the Head of Human Resource of the Ghana Tourism Authority,(GTA) Ms Gifty Kwansah; the Head of Sales and Marketing of Africa World Airline, Ms Victoria Takyi; the Managing Director of Apstar Tours Limited; Ms Stella Appenteng; the Chief Executive of Stellar Tours and Ms Glory Brisbane; Chief Executive of Staple Travel and Tours and President of the Tour Operators Union of Ghana (TOUGHA).

Catherine Afeku- Minister for Tourism Arts & Culture

The rest were Ms Nancy Sam Quartey the Director of Sales and Marketing of Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel, Ms Victoria Obiakor; the Managing Consultant of Ridge Royal Hotel, Mrs Marigold Mingle and Ms Bertha Degraft Johnson of the Golden Tulip Hotel.

The biggest winners on the night, from Kenya, swept 22 awards, including the first female commercial captain to Fly Kenya Airways, as well as the first woman on the continent to fly the world’s biggest aeroplane.

Observations

In his address, the Founder and Organiser of the Africa Travel Market, Mr Ikechi Uko, observed that while Africans in the diasapora remitted more than $100 billion annually, the amount of grants Africa got from donors was about $40 billion, meaning “we got more money from our people than grants”.

“If we ever begin to work as one people, we don’t need any grants, we don’t need any loan, we don’t need NGOs running around telling us what to do. The only way we can do it is if we collaborate,” he said.
Mr Uko said Africans needed to walk hand in hand to break down the barriers of challenges and cited the commitment of travel and tourism advocates for being part of the reason behind visa on arrival policies in some countries.

Ghana introduced visa arrival in Mach last year.

 

 

Gratitude

Speaking to the Daily Graphic at the event, Ms Kwansah of the GTA expressed gratitude to organisers of the awards.

“Tourism is about customer satisfaction and we strive to give our best to catch the eye, the heart and feeling of tourists,” she said.

Hard work

Ms Appenteng of Apstar Tours was of the view that the award was a reward for hard work after 20 years in the industry.

“As a woman in our industry, you have to be very strong and have the willpower to be at par with the men and not to be brought down. You just need to work harder to get to the top,” she stated.

 

 

 

Credit:

graphic.com.gh

Ghana’s tourism sector records worst FDI performance in 10 years – Report

Catherine Afeku- Minister of Tourism

Ghana’s tourism sector has for the first time in 10 years, recorded its worst performance in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the first quarter of this year, statistics from the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) have shown.

Although FDI constitute about 49 per cent of investments into the sector,  its share in the sector has been declining. The development, according to Groupe Nduom Research (GN- Research), could threaten Ghana’s National Tourism Development Plan (2013-2027) that requires 1.3 billon dollars annually.

“The sector recorded no new project for the first quarter of the year [2017], although GIPC recorded 95 new FDI projects in the period,” analysis from GN Research, authored by Samuel Kofi Ampah stated. It mentioned the areas that enjoyed new projects as the services, manufacturing, general trading and liaison, building/construction, export trade and agriculture sectors.

The poor performance has been attributed to lack of incentives for enterprises in that sector, mainly due to the repeal of the Promotion of Tourism Instrument (LI 1817) that gave the GIPC the power to grant tax incentives to businesses in the sector. That LI per records, stimulated private sector investment in the sector through construction, refurbishment and upgrading of tourism infrastructures.

Institutional and regulatory lapses in the country arising out of bureaucracy has also been blamed for the no new investment in the tourism sector for the first quarter of 2017.

Canopy walkway in Kakum National Park, Accra Region, Ghana, West Africa

“The 2017 World Bank Doing Business report shows that, Ghana’s performance on almost all the institutional and regulatory components is declining. For instance, factors such as ease of starting business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, protecting minority investors and enforcing contracts have fallen,” the analysis by GN Research stated.

The sector’s share of FDI in value terms fell from 1.59 per cent in 2013 to 0.06 per cent in 2014, while its total contribution fell from 7.6 per cent to 6.7 per cent. In 2015, the sector’s share however increased to 25.8 per cent, generating 2.7 billion dollars in revenue and contributed significantly to the economic growth rate of 4.2 per cent recorded.

The Umbrella Rock, Ghana

“This was short lived, as the sector’s share fell sharply to 0.03 per cent in 2016 with direct and total contribution to GDP decreasing from 3.3per cent and 7.8 per cent to 3 per cent and 7.1per cent respectively” the GN Research analysis indicated. It has in view of the situation, asked the government to give financial incentives in the areas of tax, depreciation subsidies, subsidized tariffs and concessions under specific projects or geographic locations to ensure a satisfactory return on investments.

It is also proposing long term opportunities that should includes multi-hotel resorts; one each at the Volta Estuary; Brenu beach in the Central Region; Cape Three Points area in the Western Region; Lake Bosumtwi in Ashanti, the Volta Lake Basin, Dodi Island, Dwarf Island, Digya National Park, Melinli Peninsular, Amedzofe and Wli-falls in the Volta and the Accra marine drive project.

“Aside the financial incentives, government should enhance the security of investments in the sector by ensuring stable economic and political environment since the sector is very sensitive to them,” it advised.

 

 

 

Credit: 

3news.com

Vehicles with weight above 20 tonness can’t use Buipe, Yapei bridges

The Ghana Highway Authority has set load restriction on the Buipe and Yapei bridges on the Kintampo – Tamale trunk road, due to the continuous deteriorating condition of the two major bridges.

From now until a major rehabilitation is done, vehicles weighing above 20 tonnes will not be allowed to cross the two bridges, the Authority announced in a statement.

“The allowable load limit on these bridges is now 20 tonnes,” it said.

Vehicles weighing above 20 tonnes will not be allowed to cross the two bridges

Rehabilitation work on the two bridges, according to the Authority, will start soon, but did not say exactly when, adding that once it commences, the two bridges will totally be closed to traffic. In view of the load limits, mobile axle load weighing vans will be placed at the ends of the two bridges to enforce compliance.

It has consequently suggested alternative routes for vehicles weighing above 20 tonnes:

Western corridor: From Accra through Kumasi, Wenchi, Bamboi, and Bole to Wa.

Eastern corridor: From Accra trough Tema, Hohoe, Jasikan, Nkwanta, Oti Damanko, and Bimbila to Yendi.

The bridges

Central corridor: Accra through Kumasi, Mampong, Ejura, Atebubu and Yendi (by Ferry crossing) to Salaga or Kintampo, through Techiman, Nkoranza, Ejura, Atebubu and Yendi (ferry crossing) to Salaga.

Western/Central corridor: From Takoradi through Tarkwa, Bogosu, Ayamfuri, Dunkwa, Obuasi, Kumasi, Techiman, Wenchi, Bamboi and Bamboi to Wa.

“Motorists are advised to adhere to the allowance limit, in order to maintain safety on the bridges ahead of the planned rehabilitation works,” it advised.

 

 

 

Credit:

3news.com|Ghana

UK visa applicants accuse High Commission of rip-off

Ian Walker- British High Commissioner to Ghana

Ghanaian applicants for United Kingdom (UK) visas have accused the British High Commission of demanding multiple fees and charges for information on the status of their applications.

The applicants expressed worry over the extra fees that they were required to pay when they followed up on the status of their applications.

An applicant with a standard application form is expected to receive information on the status of his or her application within 15 working days, and when such verification delays in reaching the applicant, the only resort is to contact the Visa Application Centre for explanations. However, these explanations, which are supposed to be given to applicants as part of visa processing services, are sold to them.

Applicants are asked to pay an additional £1.37 per minute to standard network charges to be connected to a system operator who provides no explanations for the delay.

File. Visa

The centre’s email address, which can be accessed via www. gov. uk/ contact ukvi-insideoutside-uk/y/outside-the-uk, also attracts a charge of £5.48 per email sent.

Even priority applicants, who pay premium charges to fast-track their application process within seven days, are unduly delayed for more than two months without communication from the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) Office, only for them to resort to contacting the office at additional cost, thereby disrupting their travel plans.

Standard processing

Is this the reason?

Some of the applicants told the Daily Graphic on condition of anonymity that  ‘ they applied for visas on different days in July this year and paid processing fees ranging between £119 and £199 (GH¢1,138) for ordinary or standard processing, while priority applicants ‘ coughed out about GH¢1,900.

In an email response to questions sent to the Communications Manager at the British High Commission in Accra, Ms. Estelle Sackey, she said, “We are aware of the reported delays in processing UKVI applications. We apologise for the delays and the inconvenience this has caused.”

According to her, the UKVI Office in the UK was working to address the delays by putting in place a process to consider each case as soon as possible.

“If customers want further information, they can contact the International Customer Enquiry Service by phone or email, although there is a cost to this that covers the service,” she said.

Waving flag of Ghana and UK

She, however, said the visa application fees were payable for every aspect of processing an application and not just the decision to award a visa.

“We are not able to reimburse customers, except in very few cases where priority fees will be reimbursed where we fail to meet our published longest service standard of 12 weeks for a non-settlement and 24 weeks for a settlement visa,” she said.

No feedback

Meanwhile, a Kumasi-based applicant, whose application has been pending for eight weeks without a word from the UKVI, said she went back to the office in Accra to complain about the delay, but got no explanation.

On her visit to the office, a security guard at post gave her a piece of paper with telephone numbers and an email address on it to contact the UKV I Office in London.

When she called one of the telephone numbers, she was charged an additional £1.37 UK per minute to her standard network charges, only to be connected to an operator who gave no explanations for the undue delay, neither was she assured of a refund.

“You will only be connected to an operator who tells you nothing you don’t know already,” she said.

She also sent an email which attracted a charge £5.48, but this time she was warned to desist from contacting the centre until she had been contacted by the UKVI Office.

Frustrations

Another applicant who applied for a Visa for himself and other family members encountered similar frustrations.He said his application, which was to be processed within two weeks, was unduly delayed without any explanation and he was even charged for extra services which were never rendered.

“I applied on July 5 and got my passport at the end of August. But for me, it was not the issue of the visa, but the fact that I met people at the office who had applied for months without any explanation, but who were being charged for extra services which were no guarantee that their issues would be resolved,” he said.

Some applicants recounted that on their appointment dates for visa processing, they were asked to pay the cedi equivalent of $79 (GH¢355) as additional cost for arriving for the appointment at 8 a.m., 30 minutes earlier than the official time of commencing work at the visa processing centre.

Applicants who reside outside Accra said the UKVI Office ripped them off after charging them the cedi equivalent of £15 for courier services which were not delivered.

 

 

 

 

 

Credit:

 Graphic.com.gh

Gambia beats Ghana, two others in jollof rice competition

Gambia was adjudged the country with the best jollof

Gambia has been adjudged the winner in the Jollof Rice Competition organised by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) as part of activities marking the Jollof Festival at the weekend.

The competition, which featured Ghana, Gambia, Nigeria and Senegal, formed part of the “See Ghana, Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana, and Feel Ghana” campaign being championed by the GTA, under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts to promote local tourism on a global scale.

Gambia prepared the jollof rice without tomatoes but with mustard, fish and other ingredients, making their jollof yellowish-white as compared to Ghana, who used tilapia, tomatoes and other ingredients to make their jollof attractive and tasty, giving it a reddish colour.

Gambia jollof

The Nigerian and Senegalese chefs used ingredients they believed could make their jollof super and delicious but, unfortunately, they could not win.

Ms Felicia Aniagyei, the Acting Public Relations Manager of the GTA, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said the Jollof Competition, which falls under the “Eat Ghana” module, was to encourage Ghanaians to be proud of their local dishes and patronise them wherever they went.

She said the occasion was also used to showcase some locally made cuisines including Kenkey with fish and rice balls with groundnut soup.

This month has been dedicated to the “Eat Ghana” module while next month, September, would be for the “Wear Ghana” module, followed by the “Feel Ghana” in October.

The judges

Ms Aniagyei noted that engaging other African countries in the competition was to help showcase the varieties of jollof rice and deepen the relationship among the participating countries.

Some of the jollof prepared at the event included; Kontomire black eye bean Jollof, Smoked Tuna and Vegetable Jollof, Beef Jollof and Egg plant koobi Jollof.

Mr Lucky George, the Publisher of African Travel Times Magazine, said jollof rice originated from the SeneGambia in the 19th Century before they separated to become two different countries.

Senegal jollof

There was also Chief Executive Officers’ (CEOs) challenge in the jollof rice competitio

There was also Chief Executive Officers’ (CEOs) challenge in the jollof rice  competition, out of which Mr Seth Ocran, the CEO of Yorks Car Rentals, emerged the winner over Abeiku Santana of Kaya Travel and Tours and Mr Akwasi Agyemang of the GTA.

The Judges, who were drawn from Mexico and the Netherlands, said the judgment was based on criteria including presentation, aroma, and taste.

Mr Jan van der Veer, the lead Judge, told the GNA that the Gambians had “a fine presentation and a better taste for their jollof as compared to that of Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.”

He lauded the Tourism Ministry and the GTA for the innovative event, adding that it was a great avenue to sell Ghana to the world.

The event was characterised by live-band music from the Ghana Immigration Service Band and the iconic Ghanaian female highlife Artiste, Akosua Agyapong.

 

 

 

Credit:

GNA

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