Wednesday 31 May 2017

PERU: Kuelap Cable Cars

Have you been to Kuelap, the fortified citadel in northern Peru?

Despite being one of the largest ancient monuments in the Americas, Kuelap has yet to receive the same amount of attention from tourists as Peru’s famed citadel, Machu Picchu.

Although Kuelap, noted for its exquisitely built round houses, sits at about half the altitude of Machu Picchu (3,000 m.a.s.l., as compared to 7,000-plus m.a.s.l. of the Incan fortress), the ease of getting to the Kuelap site has always been an issue.

In the next few weeks however, we can expect that to change. According to Eduardo Ferrereyos, Peru’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, a cable car service stretching 4 km should be completed by the end of January or early February..

The service aims to increase tourism to the Amazonas region gem, by cutting the travel time (typically done by car) from 1 hour 30 minutes to as quick as 20 minutes.

As reported by Andina, there will 26 cabins with the capacity to hold 8 passengers each. Round-trip tickets will run S/ 20.

Back in December 2016, the minister noted locals would be able to ride for free during an initial 10-day trial period.

“We are working in different ways to boost private investments, so the area has all services to cater for tourists, such as hotels,” Ferreyros told local station TV Peru.

In October 2016, LATAM began offering direct flights from Lima to Jaen, a significant boost for tourism in Chachapoyas, a town in northern Peru just hours from Jaen. From here, travelers can take a 2 hour 30 minute drive to Kuelap.

Built between 500 and 800 AC by the Chachapoya civilization, the well-preserved remnants of Kuelap have led archaeologists to label it a fortress as well as a religious or administrative center.

Tourists flock to Arequipa for its beautiful scenery and trails, even more so in recent years. In fact, this month, approximately “120,000 tourists” are expected to visit Arequipa, estimated Arequipa’s Hotels, Restaurants and related Establishments Association (AHORA-Arequipa) Chairman Rafael Cornejo.

Now, a new tourist route arises: Pinchollo geysers, located in Arequipa´s Colca Valley. This unique natural attraction may increase tourism even more. State-run Colca Valley Autonomous Authority (Autocola) is promoting the Pinchollo hot springs, acccording to Andina News.

Andina News also reported that Caylloma Province Mayor Romulo Tinta claimed the Pinchollo springs are in the process of being improved for both domestic and foreign tourists.

One feature of the hot springs which people may be interested in is the constant steam rising, indicating volcanic activity. Water rises simultaneously with eruptions of the Sabancayay volcano, located 100 km northwest of Arequipa.

Additionally, Hualca Hualca peak is visible in the distance at the Pincholla geysers. Colca Valley also maintains its culture, which consists of towns dating back to pre-Incan times.

There is a lot to see and appreciate at Arequipa´s Colca Valley. Currently, the area receives few visitors, but that could change soon.

PERU: Interesting Places To Visit In Amazonas Region

Interesting places to visit in the region Amazonas.

To get it clear right from the beginning: The Amazonas region is not close to the Amazonas River, nor is it in the hot and humid jungle. The region of the Amazonas lies mainly in the Andean mountains and most of the tourist sites are between 1,400 and 3,000 meters above sea level (m.a.s.l.).

You definitely should come prepared with sun block, a hat, mosquito repellent and good walking shoes, as well as some rain gear and an extra layer. Anything can happen here.

Many of you have likely read about the fortified city of Kuelap, the region’s highlight.

Kuelap was built between 500 and 800 AC by the Chachapoya civilization on the height of a mountaintop at 3,000 m.a.s.l. It even seems that archaeologists have found evidence of people living there as early as 400 AC and the investigations are still going on.

The city is surrounded by up to 20 meter high walls, which is why archaeologists initially thought that it was a fortress.

Today they have shifted their analysis to saying that it was rather a religious and administrative center of the Chachapoya. Chachapoya means Warrior of the clouds.

The chronicler Cieza de Leon said that the Chachapoya people were tall, blonde-haired people of fair skin color and with blue eyes.

Until today, we don’t know where this comes from; one theory is that Celtic people came to Peru, hundreds of year ago. It seems that their women were extremely beautiful considering that after the conquest of the Incas, many of the most beautiful women were sent to Cusco to serve the Incas there.

The city of Kuelap is built on two levels and there are only three entrances. One is to the cliff side and was used as an “emergency exit”; the two other exits are particularly interesting in their form and construction.

From around 3 meters wide at the beginning, the entrance channel becomes more and more narrow, to allow only one person at a time to pass at its end.

Like this, Kuelap was extremely easy to defend, as the Chachapoya warriors could just wait for the enemies to try to come in and throw stones or other projectiles at them.

Currently the main entrance is under renovation and you cannot use it. You will enter the city through the second entrance, which actually was the delivery entrance for fresh produce, corn, potatoes and water.

On the light stone of the stairs, you will even find some llama tracks. Do you know that llamas were the pack animals for the Chachapoya? Not only can a llama carry about 15 kg on its back, it was also a source of meat and wool.

On the first level you will see the ruins of about 500 roundhouses,the form in which the Chachapoya built their houses, all built on a higher base and some of them with beautiful stone decoration.

The gods of the Chachapoya were the condor, the feline and the snake, each representing one of the three “worlds”: the world of the gods, the world you live in, and the world of death. Only the houses of important people would have this kind of decoration.

In each house, you can find the “guinea pig cage”. It is common to this day for Andean families to raise guinea pigs for their meat (which is not much) and the proteins. They are easy to keep and not much work. In addition, the “batan”, a stone to grind seeds and corn, can be seen.

Another curiosity is that each house contains the tomb of an ancestor. This seems strange to us, but not to the Chachapoya culture.

The corpse of the deceased would first be buried in the soil until the flesh deteriorated. Thereafter, the Chachapoya arranged the bones into a fetal position then placed them in a cotton bag. This little bundle would then be kept in a hole in the family’s house.

Like this, the deceased would always remain close to the family.

This and many more interesting stories are part of the guide’s speech when you visit Kuelap. As of the beginning of 2017, the cable car up to Kuelap should be operating which will significantly shorten your travel time.

From Chachapoyas, the capital of the Amazonas, to Kuelap is currently a 2 and ½ hour drive. From the parking station La Malca (where you also pay your entrance fee of S/ 20 per person), you walk an easy hike of about 2 km up to the walls of Kuelap.

The guided visit costs S/ 40 per group and takes around 2 hours. It is absolutely recommend to take a guide.

PERU: Peru Is More Than Just Food

Starting January 1, tickets prices to visit the city of Machu Picchu in Cusco increased for foreign visitors.

This announcement came from Cusco’s culture department who made the decision last January as a way to ensure the adequate measures are implemented to meet the international standards and recommendations set by UNESCO.

The entrance fees for foreign tourists to the ancient city of Machu Picchu will have an increase of S/ 24 for adults and S/ 12 for university students.

Foreigners who enter the Llaqta Inka of Machu Picchu and also intend to visit the mountain of Wayna Picchu, Machu Picchu Mountain, Camino de las Fuentes and Inkaraqay Trail must pay an additional S/ 48.

The afternoon entrance to Machu Picchu, after 1 p.m., will increase by S/ 10 for adults and S/ 5 for foreign university students.

As for the Inca Trail Network, the adult rate for routes 1, 2, 3 and 4, will increase by S/ 38 and S/ 19 for students.

“Tourists operators were aware of the new prices since last January and had all year to adapt to the new rates,” said Vidal Pino, Director of the Culture Department in Cusco.

Peru’s ancient city of Machu Picchu was TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Landmarks top selection for 2016.

According to the world’s most popular travel site, Machu Picchu claimed the Travelers’ Choice 2016 Award, the most important prize granted by TripAdvisor.

Peru is more than just food

Peru’s Exports and Tourism Promotion Board (PromPeru) announced: “this important recognition is the outcome of intense efforts by PromPeru, which has allowed our country to position itself as an important destination for visitors year after year, through campaigns such as ‘Peru, land of hidden treasures’ and ‘Peru, to the world.’”

Here are the top 10 destinations (out of 25):

1. Machu Picchu, Cusco region (Peru)
2. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)
3. Angkor Wat, Siem Reap (Cambodia)
4. St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City (Italy)
5. Taj Mahal, Agra (India)
6. Mezquita Cathedral, Cordoba (Spain)
7. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg (Russia)
8. The Alhambra, Granada (Spain)
9. Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. (United States)
10. Duomo di Milano (Italy)

TripAdvisor has highlighted the planet’s top landmarks based on the millions of reviews and opinions collected throughout the year from travelers from all over the globe.

CHRISTMAS ISLAND: Visit Christmas island

Christmas Island is one of the islands of the Indian Ocean, south of Indonesia and some distance northwest of Australia, of which it is a territory.

Christmas Island rises to a central plateau of stands of rainforest. Its 80km coastline is an almost continuous sea cliff up to 20 metres high, with a few shallow bays of small sand and coral shingle beaches.

The largest of these forms the island's only port, Flying Fish Cove.

Settled Areas on Christmas Island

- Settlement

- Kampong(or Flying Fish Cove)

- Silver City

- Poon Saan

- Drumsite

Named in 1643 for the day of its discovery, the island was annexed and settlement was begun by the UK in 1888. Phosphate mining began in the 1890s. The UK transferred sovereignty to Australia in 1958. Almost two-thirds of the island has been declared a national park.

The Australian Government in 2001 agreed to support the creation of a commercial space-launching site on the island, which now looks unlikely to proceed after funding was withdrawn.

Steep cliffs along coast rise abruptly to central plateau. Rain forest covers the majority of the island, with small areas of the island under rehabilitation from mining. Sandy to Rocky beaches scattered along the coastline of the island separated by steep limestone cliffs.

Phosphate mining was the the reason for first settlement in the 19th century and is still a major contributor to the local economy.

The island is also the place of entry for immigrants seeking asylum in Australia. Migrants from Southeast Asia make the journey by sea, often on rickety, over crowded boats that are weighed down with passengers and personal belongings. It is a dangerous trip and sometimes the boats capsize before they arrive. The Australian government operates a detention center on the island for these asylum seekers.

Visiting Christmas Island

There are four weekly flights from Perth, Australia with Virgin, who also offer three connecting flights to the Cocos Islands. Fares from about A$520 one way.

Australian Indian Ocean Territories Airlines used to offer the only international flight on a chartered Malaysia Airlines aircraft from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore every Saturday but these flights have been discontinued as of March 2013.

Possibly there will be a weekly or fortnightly flight from Jakarta on a chartered Garuda aircraft by late 2013.

There is no passenger chartered boat services to Christmas Island, however Flying Fish Cove is frequented by yachts and cruise ships as a stop off.

Christmas Island has 80 kilometres of shoreline but only small parts of the shoreline are easily accessible. The island's perimeter is embodied by sharp cliff faces, making many of the island's beaches difficult to get to.

Some of the easily accessible beaches include Flying Fish Cove (main beach), Lily Beach, Ethel Beach, and Isabel Beach, while the more difficult beaches to access include Greta Beach, Dolly Beach, Winifred Beach, Merrial Beach, and West White Beach, which all require a vehicle with four wheel drive and a difficult walk through dense rainforest.

The culture of Christmas Island is unique, for people of many different ethnicities inhabit the area. The majority of residents are Chinese, but Europeans and Malays reside there as well with small Indian and Eurasian communities too. The main languages of Christmas Island are English and Chinese.

Dress is usually modest, and tourists should keep a wrap, such as a sarong or pareo, on hand to cover shorts, bathing suits, and tank tops. It is common to remove shoes when entering a house and to also avoid touching anyone's head.

Religious beliefs are diverse, but people are very tolerant of each other's religions. The religions practised include Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam, and Christianity.

There is a Mosque in Flying Fish Cove. With all of these religions, there are many religious festivals, such as Spring Festival, Hari Raya, Christmas and Easter. Additionally, there is a Bahá'í centre on the island.

Christmas Island is well known for its biological diversity. There are many rare species of animals and plants on the island, making nature-walking a popular activity. Along with the diversity of species, many different types of caves exist, such as plateau caves, coastal caves, raised coastal caves and alcoves, sea caves, fissure caves, collapse caves and basalt caves; most of these are near the sea and have been formed by the action of water.

Altogether, there are 42 caves on the island,with Lost Lake Cave, Daniel Roux Cave and Full Frontal Cave being the most well-known. The many freshwater springs include Hosnies Spring Ramsar, which also has a mangrove stand. The Dales is a rainforest in the western part of the island and consists of seven deep valleys, all of which were formed by spring streams. Hugh's Dale waterfall is part of this area and is a popular attraction.

The annual breeding migration of the red crabs is a popular event. Fishing is another common activity. There are many distinctive species of fish in the oceans surrounding Christmas Island. Snorkeling and swimming in the ocean are two other activities that are extremely popular.

Walking trails are also very popular, for there are many beautiful trails surrounded by extravagant flora and fauna. 63% of the island is national park making it one of the main attractions to experience when visiting.

Dales - The Dales comprises of numerous freshwater streams running roughly parallel to each other. The streams originate from underground caves and eventually flows into the ocean. The streams over the length of time, have worn out gullies between the cliff walls of the coast, and have created unusually step-like formations (terraces).

There is a waterfall above the terrace formations, vistors are often fond of taking showers under the waterfall.

The Dales are located in lush tropical rainforest which is known for its unique fauna, such as the blue crab and blind snake and flora such as giant buttrest root trees.

The Dales area has signage and raised walkways/steps installed by the national parks departmant for visitors.

Located in the national park at the south west portion of the island. The Dales can only be reached via 4WD and trekking by foot.

Lily Beach - Tragically named after a girl who was swept off the rocks at the beach never to be found. The beach comprises a sandy area running down to a bathing pool, the pool is seperated from the open ocean by rocky basalt/limestone outcrops. The pool is constantly fed sea water from the gullies leading to the ocean and the whitewash generated from the waves hitting the cliffs and outcrop.

Caution is advised when venturing past the bathing pool on to the rocky outcrops, as large freak waves have known to swamp the rocky outcrops. Lest you meet the same fate as Lily!

Located in the 'snout of the dog' eastern part of the island, this beach can be accessed by normal 2 wheel drive vehicles when road conditions are dry and only with a 4WD when roads are wet.

Wooden pergola and BBQ facilities are avaliable.

Blowholes - A geological feature located along the steep limestones cliffs along the southern coastline of the island, the Blowholes comprise of holes in the ground where air and seawater are blown out due to waves crashing into caves formed along the bottom of the cliffs. Depending on wave conditions, the water and trapped air in the caves are forced out from the holes formed at the top of the cliff caves, leading to spectacular plumes of water thrown up into the air. Distinctive sound of gushing air can heard from the holes when the waves crash onto the cliffs.

Dolly Beach - An isolated beach, 1 hour drive by 4WD over rocky step tracks and then another 45 minutes trek on foot downhill. Well worth the trip.

A white sandy beach sheltered and ringed by black basalt outcrops 5 meters from the shoreline. The rear of the beach are lined with overhanging coconut trees, there is a clear stream flowing through the middle of the beach from the cliffs above.

A fairly scenic beach, this is a favorite camping site for locals and visitors alike, due to availability of drinkable freshwater from the stream and 'exotic secluded beach paradise' ambiance.

Dolly beach is also a favorite nesting locations for endangered sea turtles, is it very common on most nights to have one or more turtles make their way up onto the beach from the sea, and lay their eggs into holes dug by the turtles themselves. After laying the eggs, the turtle refills the hole with sand and make their way back to the sea.

Witnessing this event is magically and memorable. The turtles if startled prior to laying their eggs, will return back to the sea. It is recommended you do not shine any torch light in their eyes or make loud noise. Disturbing the turtles or poaching the eggs are illegal.

Other Places:

- Margaret Knoll

- Nursery Lookout

- Flying Fish Cove

- Administrators House known locally as "Buck House"

- Historical World War 2 Artillery Bunker past the Buck House

- South Point

- Greta Beach

- Freshwater Caves

- Grotto

- West White Beaches

- Ethel Beach

- Waterfall/Casino


- View the spectacular world famous Christmas Island Red Crab Migration normally during the October - December months.

- Diving or Snorkeling off the 'Drop Off' at Flying Fish Cove

- Whale Shark Watching

- Game Fishing on chartered boat

- Rock Fishing

- Caving (Warning - Seek local advice before setting out to any caves)

- 4- Wheel Driving, known locally as 'Bush bashing'

- Mountain Biking

- Relax by the beach or on the patio with a cold beer

- Duty Free cheap drinks at numerous bars and taverns on the island

- Historical Trail Self Tours

- Hiking


Walk, ride, or hire of cars/4WD/SUV. You can hike around the settled areas of island, as most locals are happy to give a ride to visitors.


As a territory of Australia, English is the most common language spoken on Christmas Island, but is not universal. Many senior residents speak dialects of Chinese and Malay as a first language. All signs are in English.


The Island has "duty free" status, and shop prices for perfume and alcohol are very low compared to even duty-free shops on the Australian mainland. But when doing your groceries, double check for the expiry date mostly with the super cheap items. Expired items might gone for few months back.

Christmas Island Supermarket

Gaze Road, Settlement - Usual Supermarket lines / groceries, fresh bread, fruit and vegtables, wine, beer and spirts.

Christmas Island Visitor Information Centre - Gift Shop

Run by the Christmas Island Tourism Association located at the Visitor Information Centre, Gaze Road, Settlement. A range of souvenirs from Australia and Christmas Island, local craft, T-shirts, Christmas Island Books, posters, maps and videos, jewellery, pottery, postcards and much, much more.

Gaseng only place to buy gas and closes on public holiday's

Australian standard Diesel Automotive fuel and unleaded petrol: 2 stroke mix out board motors: 20L jerricans for loan to refuel yachts - free transport to and from the jetty and able to fuel larger yachts on application.

Gold N Things Duty Free

Cosmetics, perfumes, watches, jewellery, sunglasses, leather goods, top shelf liquor, giftware

Island Pharmacy And News

Dispersing of prescriptions and supply of vitamins, pharmaceuticals, toiletries, make-up, first aid items, suncare and sunglasses. Open :Mon to Fri 9:00am - 5:00pm and Saturday 9:00am - 12 noon.

Lintex Marketing

Whitegoods, stereo equipment and accessories. Music CDs, DVDs, PC and other console games. Open :Mon, Tue, Wed 10:00am - 3:00pm, Thu, Fri 10:00am - 6:00pm, Sat 9:00am - 12:30pm

Lucky Lukes

Range of clothing and unique giftware from around the world. Open :Mon - Fri 9am till 5 pm and Sat 9am - 1pm Contact Bridgette or Ron Lines.

The Red Crab Surf'n'sound

ShopSurf wear and accessories, sunglasses, shoes range of music CDs.

Shorefire Fishing Shop

Reels, rods, lures and expert advise for your fishing trip. Surf and sportswear, camping equipment, ice.

Westpac Bank

All your banking or money changing needs. Oh, provided that doesn't include using an ATM (there are private ATMs at the Poon Saan shops though). Open :9am - 3pm Monday to Friday, until 4.30pm Wednesdays

Wild Papaya

Gallery, Gifts and Homewares. Unique Gift Ideas, Handcrafted Australian Jewellery, Christmas Island Photography and Art. Located in the Temple Court. Open :Tuesday - Friday 11am - 5 pm; Saturday 9am - 12 pm

Listing referenced from Christmas Island Tourism Association website

Dine & Wine

There are several restaurants on Christmas Island serving Western and Asian cuisine.

Lucky Ho Restaurant, Lot 236 Poon Saan Rd.

Christmas Island Resort - Waterfall Restaurant

Western Food and Asian Food - Modern International - Steaks, Pasta, Pizza. Located at the Christmas Island Resort. Open :Everyday for Breakfast and Dinner with Sunday Roasts.

KooKai'z Cafe'

Western and Asian Food - Coffee, milkshakes, slushies and cool drinks. Located at the Christmas Island Recreation Centre. Opened: Tues-Sun

Golden Bosun Tavern

Rocky Point Complex, Gaze Road Settlement. Modern International fare, with a dessert selection and coffee. Uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean from the restaurant verandah Dinner served 6 nights per week, closed Monday. Restaurant : 5.30pm - 8.30pm Bar : 4pm till late.

Longs Bakery

Mon - Fri :Fresh bread daily including white, wholemeal, wholegrain and rolls containing Kaya paste; Coconut and chicken sausage rolls. Thurs: Sticky Buns Sat :Closed but bread is still available from shops listed below. Sun: Fresh bread and french sticks Available from Boong Trading, Meng Chong Trading, and Metro Enterprises.

Rockfall Cafe

Huge range of burgers, rolls, sandwiches, delicious meals and fresh salads, Fresh coffee and cakes BYO - Eat in or Take away Open :6 days 7:30am - 1:30pm (closed Sunday).

Rumah Tinggi Tavern & Restaurant

Gaze Road Settlement. The Rumah Tinggi offers modern Australian fare, fine wine and cocktails. With uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean and a spacious open air verandah - the perfect location to watch the sunset or the moon rise over the Indian Ocean. Bar open 5pm till late - Dinner - 9 pm. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Season's Palace

Poon Saan area - upstairs from the Poon Saan Shops. Offers authentic chinese dishes in air conditioned comfort.

As Christmas Island is duty free, alcohol is usually lower priced than the Australian mainland. Some of the bars and taverns are:

Tracks at Drumsite
Golden Bosun
Pool Hall at Poon Saan
Rumah Tinggi, coconut grove, settlement.


Seven possibilities for accommodation exist on the island, five of which are in the main settlement. Of the other two, one is located next to the island's waterfall whilst the other is further out in an area called Poon Saan.

Accommodation available:

- Christmas Island Resort

- The Cabin

- Captain's Last Resort

- Christmas Island Lodge

- Hibiscus House

- Mango Tree Lodge

- The Retreat

- Rumah Biru Cottage

- The Sanctuary

- Sea Gazin

- Sunset

- VQ3 Lodge

For further details, bookings or enquiries visit the Christmas Island Tourism Association website on

Christmas Island District High School is the main school on the island, Year 1 to Year 10 is taught based on the Western Australian Curriculum.


It is difficult for non-locals to find employment on Christmas Island. The largest employers on the island are the small scale phosphate mining and federal/local government.

The most common way of obtaining employment on Christmas Island for non-locals is to check government positions advertised on the Australian mainland (Federal Government Employment Gazette), there are occasionally posting for teachers on several years contract from Australia.

National Parks, Federal Police and positions related to the Detention Center are occasional advertised on Newspaper and Government Gazette.

Also check online for posting at Christmas Island.
Stay safe

The island is safe all times of the day in the populated areas, locals usually leave their houses and car unlocked. There are no poisonous or dangerous animals/insects on the island.

The most likely danger is large waves at cliffs and coastal waters during the monsoon(October - February).

There are occasional sighting of reef and hammerhead sharks off the coast near the 'drop offs',underwater coastal shelf which drops off into the ocean depths, usually 5 - 30 meters offshore , however there have been no reported sharks attacks on Christmas Island in recorded history.

Some 4 Wheel Drive tracks are steep and slippery during the wet season, caution is advised when driving in national parks areas.

Many tracks are 4 Wheel Drive only, in particular Dolly beach track and Dales and Blow Holes National Park areas. 4 Wheel driving experience required when venturing into these areas.

It is recommended that you bring a local or get local advice before heading off to any unpopulated national park areas.


Wear loose fitting clothing suitable for humid tropical climates. A hat and sunscreen is recommended if you're intending to be under the sun at the beach or fishing.

Bring water with you, as in humid environments you will tend to perspire more than normal.

Mosquito repellent should be brought on trips to rain forest areas, no instances of Malaria have ever been reported in recent history.

There are rare occurrences of Hepatitis A & B. However there is no particular vaccination required when visiting the island.

Nudity is not permitted at beaches, normal beachwear applies.

It's good manners to wave back if waved by locals when driving.

Christmas Island Tourism Association, PO Box 63, Christmas Island, Western Australia .

Cocos Islands is the closest land to Christmas Island and there are weekly connecting flights which take about 1 hour

RWANDA: 41st Annual World Tourism Conference 28-31 August, 2017 In Kigali

During the international year of tourism, The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and Africa Travel Association (ATA) are proud to present the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

In collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board, CCA and ATA designed this conference to set the tone for how tourism can be utilized as an engine for economic growth and job creation through innovative business models, new technologies and strategic partnerships.

The conference will also provide a platform to network and explore new tourism markets and products including the promotion and preservation of Africa’s rich cultural heritage and wildlife.


Identify Potential Partners and strengthen existing relationships

Market Your Brand and generate new business leads

Meet Key Stakeholders from the continent’s travel and tourism industry

Discover Innovative Models transforming African tourism

Take Part in Discussions focused on Africa’s tourism market development

Explore Opportunities for investment along the tourism and hospitality value chain

Experience different African destinations and grow your travel services and packages

Engage with government leaders and initiate public-private Partnership discussions


Airlines and Logistics Managers

Destination Marketing Professionals

Hotels, Hoteliers and Lodging Establishment Officers

Infrastructure Company Representatives

Investors and Financiers

Marketers and Trend/Research Specialist

National, Regional & City Tourist Officers

Students & Young Professionals

Tour Operators and Travel Agents

Travel Technology Specialists


​Airlines - Africa Travel Association have partnered with a number of airlines to provide discounted travel to Kigali.

Airfare discounts can be found here:

Hotels - Please visit the conference Housing page to view accommodation options and step by step instructions to reserve to make reservations via MegaReservations.


Travelers arriving from any of the following countries are allowed into Rwanda without a visa and may stay up to 90 days:
Hong Kong, Philippines, Mauritius, Singapore and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

EAC Partner states citizens’ shall be issued with 6 months visitors pass (renewable) upon arrival with no fee.

Nationals of Australia, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, Republic of South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States of America will be issued with entry visa valid for a period up to 30 days and pay for a visa ($30) upon arrival without prior application.

For more information please visit the Rwandan immigration page:


There is only one required vaccine for traveling into Rwanda. Please make an appointment with your doctor to obtain a yellow fever vaccine as well as to discuss your options for malaria medications.

You may also wish to check the CDC website for more information: http://www.CDC.go.

Africa Travel Association
A Division of Corporate Council on Africa
Annual World Tourism Conference – Kigali, Rwanda
28-31 August 2017
(The agenda below is subject to change.)


7:00 am – 5:00 pm | Registration

8:00 am – 5:00 pm | Site Visits

1:00 pm – 5:00 pm | Professional Development & Capacity Building

2:00pm - 5:00 pm | Special Sessions for Tourism Boards & Authorities

2:45 pm – 4:00 pm | Council of Tourism Ministers (By Invitation Only)

6:30 pm – 8:00 pm | Reception


7:30 am – 5:00 pm | Registration/Exhibit hall Open

9:00 am – 9:45 pm | Opening Ceremony

Welcome Remarks

Keynote Address

Plenary: 10:00 am -11:30 am | Unlocking Africa’s Tourism Potential
What are the challenges and opportunities to unlocking the sector’s economic potential across different regions on the continent?

11:30 am -11:45 am | Coffee Break

Breakout: 11:45 am -1:00 pm | The Evolution of Online Travel
In today’s globally digital world, how do companies and countries put themselves on the online map?
How is online booking changing tourism and trends in the region? How can companies adapt and
take advantage of the rise in online booking, mobile payments etc.?

Breakout: 11:45 am -1:00 pm | Financing Tourism Development
Countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco have experienced continued economic growth, creating demand from institutional investors as well as major tourism and hospitality brands that see expansion into the region as a source of future growth. This panel will examine how countries are positioning themselves to attract private sector investment in the tourism sector; what alternative sources of funding are available for private sector investors; and how companies and governments can harness funding for human resource development, transportation infrastructure, real estate development and more.

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm | Lunch

Plenary 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm | On Location! Africa in the Movies
Discussion with movie production professionals around selecting movie locations in Africa; experiences and challenges; what countries need to do to package/position themselves for location consideration.

Breakout: 3:20 pm – 4:35 pm | The Business of Conservation
As demand for new and sustainable tourism investment continues to rise, there is also increasing awareness of the need to conserve the natural, social and cultural assets of destinations. A healthy environment upholds the competitive advantage of a destination. Panelists will examine opportunities in conservation investment and how principles of sustainable investment are being applied across capital markets. (Safaris, eco-tourism, biodiversity).

Breakout: 3:20 pm – 4:35 pm | Safety and Risk Management in Tourism
What are African governments’ approach to raising security measures to increase tourism? How do companies protect their guests and the industry from safety threats? How do they protect customers, staff, reputation and assets? How do destinations and companies manage this risk to their brand and reputation?

Private Roundtable: 3:20 pm – 4:35 pm | (Tourism Boards)

Roundtable: 4:50 pm – 5:50 pm | Spotlight on East Africa


7:30 am – 5:00 pm | Registration/Exhibit hall Open

8:00 am – 9:00 am | Annual ATA Membership Meeting

Plenary: 9:00 am – 10:30 am | Connecting the Continent: The Infrastructure of Tourism
What significant investments are being made in logistics, transportation and real estate? On the government side, what policies (open skies, visa) are being made to support private sector efforts and tourism infrastructure development?

Special Presentation: 10:30 am - 10:40 am

10:40 am – 11:00 am | Coffee Break

Breakout: 11:00 am – 12:15 pm | The Business Traveler
Business travel spending is expected to grow by 2.1% in 2016 to USD$12.6 billion, and rise by 3.6% to USD $18 billion in 2026. Business tourists are less cost-sensitive than leisure tourists, spending on average twice as much per day. Their purchase decisions are influenced primarily by their ability to use time efficiently within business travel schedules. How can destinations attract business travelers? What are the competitive trends and how can countries meet business travelers’ needs for both efficiency and relaxation?

Breakout: 11:00 am – 12:15 pm | Bridging the Hospitality Skills Gap
Tourism and hospitality education is key in fueling the growth of the Tourism sector in Africa. Currently, the sector faces a major skills gap in business management and operations and customer service. How are schools partnering with the private sector to ensure a well-trained hospitality workforce? How are some major players in the industry utilizing in-house training to bridge the gap? How can African governments create an enabling environment for strengthening the workforce in the tourism industry by setting high standards for the industry?

Special Presentation: 12:15 pm – 1:15 pm

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm | Lunch

Breakout: 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm | Education: A Sizeable Market for Tourism
Educational tourism is one of the fastest growing areas of the travel and tourism and one that is too often overlooked by tourism professionals and marketers is “educational tourism.” Often educational tourism is called by other names, such as career enhancement, studying abroad, job development or self-actualization experiences. In India, education tourism accounts for 1/3 of its total revenue. How are African countries and universities positioning themselves to attract consumers in higher education?

Breakout: 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm | Lifestyle Tourism: Leveraging Africa’s Diversity
Outside of traditional tour packages, what can countries offer to increase traffic? How can African destinations attract music festivals, culinary festivals, fashion events and Diaspora travel?

Roundtable: 3:30pm – 4:45 pm | Spotlight on Southern Africa

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm | Seated Dinner


7:30 am – 5:00 pm | Registration/Exhibit hall Open

Plenary: 9:00 am – 10:30 am | Marketing Africa
Panelists will share best practices on how to sell Africa to foreign markets. What are the mechanisms needed to increase tourism in various regions on the continent? How do you fund such efforts? Plenary will include new media voices including digital influencers.

10:30 am – 11:00 am | Coffee Break

Breakout: 11:00 am – 12:15 pm | Business Models Transforming the Tourism Industry
How are companies and entrepreneur’s new business models shaping the future of tourism on the continent and worldwide?

Roundtable: 11:00 am – 12:15 pm | Spotlight on North Africa

Closing Luncheon: 12:15 pm – 2:00 pm | Destination Rwanda
Facilitated by: Rwanda Development Board

Closing Remarks

Tuesday 30 May 2017

UNITED KINGDOM: British Airways Clears Computer Mess

British Airways is working to restore its computer systems after a power failure caused major disruption for thousands of passengers worldwide.
The airline is "closer to full operational capacity" after an IT power cut resulted in mass flight cancellations at Heathrow and Gatwick.

Thousands of passengers remain displaced, with large numbers sleeping overnight in terminals.
BA has not explained the cause of the power problem.

So far on Monday, 13 short-haul flights at Heathrow have been cancelled.

Heathrow advised affected BA passengers not to travel to the airport unless their flights had been rebooked, or were scheduled to take off today.

Passengers on cancelled flights have been told to use the BA website to rebook.

Chief executive Alex Cruz has posted videos on Twitter apologising for what he called a "horrible time for passengers".

But no-one from the airline has been made available to answer questions about the system crash, and it has not explained why there was no back-up system in place.

Cancellations and delays affected thousands of passengers at both Heathrow and Gatwick on Saturday.

All flights operated from Gatwick on Sunday but more than a third of services from Heathrow - mostly to short-haul destinations were cancelled.

Passengers slept on yoga mats handed out by the airline as conference rooms were opened to provide somewhere more comfortable to rest.

BA faces paying out millions of pounds in compensation after the failure of its computer systems led to long delays and cancellations over the weekend.

Passengers are facing a third day of disruption as the airline deals with the impact of a worldwide IT crash.

There are EU regulations governing compensation for cancelled flights leaving from EU airports.

The amount of money reimbursed depends on the length of delay and whether it is a short, medium or long-haul flight.

A BA spokesman said: We have been giving letters to customers telling them how to claim under EU compensation rules and we will fully honour our obligations.

Compensation could be more than £500, depending on the distance of the flight.

But compensation is not automatic. customers have to write a complaint letter to the airline.

Some airlines, and consumer body Which? provide standard compensation application letters for passengers to complete.

Passengers are entitled to assistance and compensation, if the disruption was within an airline's control
This applies to short-haul flights delayed by at least two hours,and to medium-haul flights delayed by three hours, or long-haul delayed by four

For overnight delays, airlines must provide hotels, and transfers between airport and hotel.

Airlines have to offer full refunds, paid within seven days, or re-bookings for a flight cancelled at short notice
In addition passengers can also claim compensation.

Cancellation amounts are: 250 euros (£218) for short-haul, 440 euros (£384) for medium-haul and 600 euros (£523) for long-haul.

The EU regulations do not apply if the disruption has been caused by factors outside the airline's control, such as a strike.

In 2014, two UK Supreme Court judgements stated airlines should have to pay out when a delay was caused by a technical fault, which appears to have happened in this instance with BA.

Aviation expert Julian Bray adds:Also remember if you actually paid for your fare with a credit card, then the Consumer Credit Act comes into play, and you could well get money back that way.

Meanwhile, BA says it is meeting its obligations in providing hotel accommodation and refreshments for customers whose journeys have been disrupted.

We are refunding or rebooking customers who suffered cancellations on to new services as quickly as possible and have also introduced more flexible rebooking policies for anyone who was due to travel on Saturday, Sunday, today [Monday] and Tuesday who no longer wishes to fly to-from Heathrow or Gatwick,they add.

Customers on flights that have been cancelled can claim a full refund or rebook to a future date for travel up until the end of November 2017.

Customers should get in touch with us directly via our Manage My Booking tool on or our contact centres so that we can re-book or re-route them to their destination as quickly as possible.

They added: Passengers whose journeys are disrupted have been urged to keep any food, transport or accommodation receipts and can make a claim in due course through our customer relations teams.

The firm says it has been booking passengers onto other airlines where necessary.

Customers displaced by flight cancellations can claim up to £200 a day for a room based on two people sharing, £50 for transport between the hotel and airport, and £25 a day per adult for meals and refreshments.

Consumer expert Franky Brehany said travellers stranded in a "high-value city" like London may be able to claim more and should keep all receipts.

Laura Thomson and Sam Sciortino, from Woking, planned a Sunday ceremony in Santorini but will now marry on Monday.

The bride-to-be's brother and family - including three bridesmaids - waited at Heathrow for 13 hours on Saturday before leaving without their luggage.

They have now booked flights with a different airline.

Ms Thomson said: "We have had to contact suppliers, and change all the arrangements we had planned.

"We've been planning our big day for two years only to be forced to rush around and change everything to take place a day later.

The couple flew to Santorini earlier in the week, ahead of their guests. They said an aunt and uncle were also caught up in the BA disruption.

Ms Thomson said: My brother is one of the groomsmen, and my nieces and sister-in-law are my bridesmaids, so naturally I wanted them to share the day with us.

They booked with British Airways because they thought it was a reliable company.

Ms Thomson's sister-in-law Marcia Thomson said:We are devastated that this has happened.

Our luggage had already been checked in and after waiting for 13 hours at the airport we were forced to leave without it.

Luckily we have managed to get flights to Crete this evening with a different airline.

We will have to get a ferry from there to Santorini on Monday morning just in time for the wedding, but without our bridesmaids dresses.

Posting on Facebook Ms Thomson shared her disappointment with family and friends.

I am just a shell of myself right now. We are absolutely shattered, she said.

I have been in tears with our dream of how it should have been slowly fading away, knowing I can't share the day with my family the way I imagined.

She added:The hotel have been very accommodating but we've incurred extra costs as all the food has had to be paid for again.

We had a family cruise booked which also had to be cancelled and we have lost money on that as well.

Mr Sciortino said: It's one of those things you don't think will happen to you but we've been so lucky that we have managed to rearrange it even though there are certain things that we will be missing.

The British Airways check-in hall at Gatwick Airport is eerily empty. Elsewhere people are milling around with luggage, gazing hopefully at information boards not knowing if they will be going on holiday.

The emotion came earlier with the first announcement that a major IT system failure meant flights had been cancelled, both here at Gatwick and at Heathrow until 18:00 BST. BA would later announce no flights would be leaving from either airport for the rest of Saturday.

People were in tears as staff started to clear a crowded check-in queue.

Some holidaymakers have been here all day, others have just turned up hoping to catch a flight. BA staff are on hand to help explain the situation as some passengers try to rethink their plans.

Among the usual security warnings to stay with your bags there have been announcements apologising for the disruption. Many people are waiting calmly and patiently to see what happens.

Fiona Lancaster, 49, from Braintree, Essex, was due to fly to Sicily and has been in the airport for four hours.

They don't automatically rebook you. You have to try to rebook yourself and if you book with another airline there is no refund.

I've been deciding whether to sleep in the car, she said.

There have been a lot of people in tears. I'm trying not to cry. I was going on holiday for a week and am a bit upset. I was supposed to be on Mount Etna for my 50th birthday next Friday, I was on a tour.

Mariah McIntyre, 39, who is with her two children Sloane, three, and Ellie, seven, were supposed to be flying to Portugal for a half-term holiday.

Ms McIntyre said: We knew the situation but we still turned up. It was wishful thinking. We are going to check other flights.

We'll give it several hours and will await the next update, we are looking at other airlines and we're trying to be resourceful and we are going to look at other routes via Lisbon and Seville.

I had a feeling about the refunds. We're kind of out of luck but we have to be positive and we have to try and not get frustrated until we've tried every which way.

Paul said: "We arrived at 07:45. We are going to Orlando for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Disney.

We were waiting to board the plane at the gate when we got told. We got turned back to departures and told to book a flight and stay in a hotel and pay for everything again.

It didn't help us in any way. They're not putting us in a hotel. They didn't tell us what was happening, we just found ourselves in the baggage hall.

We saved for a year for this. it's a £15,000 holiday and we have probably lost three days of it.

Builder Kujdes, 31, said: The website's crashed. I just got here I don't know much about what's happening. I'm trying to fly if I can. But they said there is no information. I talked to one of the managers.

He said that the system had crashed I had to wait until 18:00 and and there is no more information. I'm flying to Albania for a holiday. I just got here I don't know what's happening I don't even know whether I've got to rebook.

Dr Tikare had been due to fly to Malaga with his family and said they were feeling pretty anxious.

We're coming back on Thursday, so it's not a long trip. I couldn't get any information on the BA site, so I've been checking for possible updates.

He said passengers had been speculating over whether the problems had stemmed from a cyber attack although BA has said there is no evidence that is what caused it.

Dr Tikare, who works as a paediatric doctor, said he had heard about people being stuck on planes for hours.

We are just hoping it will have cleared up and feeling optimistic, he added.

BA says that: The root cause was a power supply issue which our affected our IT systems - we continue to investigate this.

The airline said it could not add anything further at this stage, but it is understood that all systems are not fully up and running yet.

John, air transport expert and director at JLS Consulting, says: The problem has affected multiple parts of the business which are not only customer-facing, but also operational-facing, and without which the airline could not do many tasks, for example completing load sheets,which are needed for fuel calculationsfor aircraft."

The GMB union has suggested the BA computer systems failure was another example of the shortcomings of BA IT systems since they made a number of staff redundant, and outsourced their work to India in 2016.

Mick Rix, GMB national officer for aviation said: BA made hundreds of dedicated and loyal IT staff redundant and outsourced the work to India.

BA have made substantial profits in for a number of years, and many viewed the company's actions as just plain greedy.

Meanwhile aviation expert Mr Strickland, added: Surely a business should be able to make an outsourcing decision without any problems, if it is done in a quality-controlled way.

But this issue is part of the analysis that will have to be done by BA.

But the airline says: We would never compromise the integrity and security of our IT systems. IT services are now provided globally by a range of suppliers and this is very common practice across all industries and the UK government.

British Airways employs around 35,000 people in the UK providing high skilled and well paid jobs. It hires 1,000 people a year and has a strong apprenticeship programme.

BA says: Customers on flights that have been cancelled can claim a full refund or rebook to a future date for travel up until the end of November 2017. Customers are urged to keep any food, transport or accommodation receipts and can make a claim in due course through our Customer Relations teams.

We are refunding or rebooking customers who suffered cancellations on to new services as quickly as possible and have also introduced more flexible rebooking policies for anyone due to travel on Sunday and Monday who no longer wishes to fly to/from Heathrow or Gatwick.

We have provided customers with hotel accommodation.

The best channel for customers to use to get information about their flight is Manage My Booking on This is now updated regularly.

We have also been using social media to communicate, and airport communication channels. Our CEO video which was posted on Twitter, YouTube and Faceboo has received more than 175,000 views.

We are extremely sorry for the disruption caused to customers and understand how much frustration this is causing.

Delayed travellers will also be able to claim financial compensation under EU law, unless the disruption has been caused by factors outside the airline's control.

In 2014 two UK Supreme Court judgements stated airlines should have to pay out when a delay was caused by a technical fault.
BA passengers trying not to cry.

BA says: We have been doing everything possible to provide as much information to customers as possible, but it has been challenging.

Many of the systems our staff usually use have not been functioning properly which has meant we were slower than usual to give customers accurate information at the airports.

In addition, unfortunately the systems that we use to send emails and texts to individual customers about their flights have also been affected by the IT problems, so we haven't been able to communicate with customers in our usual ways.

There had been complaints from passengers on Saturday that they had not been informed their flights were cancelled until after the airline had put out a media statement announcing the decision.

Passenger Terry, 28, from London said: There's no such announcement here. The boards are showing go to gate, and no mention of cancellations.

Communications complaints continued at Heathrow on Sunday, with one passenger saying they had no idea how much longer we'll be here and we're getting no communication from the staff.

Aviation expert John Strickland was at Heathrow on Saturday to collect a friend flying in from Mexico, and says : Communications have been a challenge.

There were BA people there on Saturday doing what they could, but the tools usually at the disposal of staff were not available.

We are becoming more and more reliant on automation, even in things like communications, and less on actual people. It means it is a challenge for businesses when things go wrong.

Could it happen again? What has BA learned ?

John says: They will have to sit down in the cold light of day and analyse the causes and how to eliminate them in future.

There will need to be in-depth planning in terms of managing any similar potential situation again.

BA is used to things like bad weather, or air traffic control issues, and other challenges, but this is different. By its very nature they did not have the information available that they would have liked to have had.

But he also added: This could have happened to any other airline, including a low-cost one.

THAILAND: Wildlife Foundation Rescues Wounded Monkey

A long-tailed macaque has made a “miracle” recovery after being shot with a harpoon gun on the outskirts of Bangkok.

The quarrel that hit the monkey, which has been nicknamed “Rocket”, penetrated under the animal’s eye through its head and into its back.

The Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand tracked down the animal after concerned residents began posting pictures of it in obvious distress on Facebook.

Foundation staff then sedated the monkey before capturing it and administering veterinary care.

It’s actually doing quite well with no infection and no abscesses at the moment, the foundation’s founder Edwin Wiek said.

He seems to be recovering quite well and we expect to return him to the wild in four or five days.

Wiek said such incidents were not uncommon in areas around the industrial estates on Bangkok outskirts, which he attributed to migrant workers hunting animals for food.

These people do not know the laws of Thailand and that these animals are protected,Wiek said.

The foundation plans to post hoardings in the area in the Khmer and Burmese languages to educate people about animal cruelty and wildlife protections stipulated by Thai law.

This is not the first time the foundation has come to the assistance of wounded animals in the area, although Rocket’s strong recovery made the animal something of the exception and only the second monkey to fully recover from such an injury.

Taxi drivers chase foreigner out of Uber taxi in Pattaya

Taxi drivers in Pattaya surrounded an Uber taxi on Wednesday afternoon and forced a western passenger out of the vehicle, the Uber driver said.

Thai Uber driver, Surasak Khukham, 29, filed a complaint with the Pattaya Police Station at 11pm.

He also played a video clip he had recorded when his car was surrounded by five or six taxis on Pattaya 2 Road in North Pattaya in the Bang Lamung district of Chon Buri province.

Surasak said the western tourist was terrified when the taxi was laid siege to.

Surasak was fined after the taxis surrounded his car and police turned up. His driving licence was seized.

Uber service is still illegal in Thailand.

THAILAND: Foreign Tourists Advised Not To Travel To Bangkok During Royal Cremation

Foreign tourists are being advised to travel outside Bangkok during the royal cremation ceremony of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej in late October in move to avoid traffic congestion.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports will release an official travel advisory for foreigners coming to Thailand in October to inform them about the royal cremation which will take place from October 25-29.

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangul said that in order to avoid traffic congestion, foreign visitors are advised to stay outside of Bangkok during the cremation period.

Information on tourist attractions outside the capital will be included in the advisory, she said.

Activities around the cremation site at Sanam Luang will be allowed only prior to the ceremony and must be cleared out when notified.

The cremation will take place on October 26, which has been declared a public holiday.

BANGLADESH: Thousands Evacuated As Cyclone Mora Hits Bangladesh

Cyclone Mora hit Bangladesh Tuesday packing winds of up to 117 kilometres per hour (73mph) after authorities evacuated hundreds of thousands of people from low-lying coastal villages.

The severe cyclonic storm made landfall on the coast between Cox's Bazar and the main port city of Chittagong at 6:00 am (0000 GMT), the Bangladesh Meteorological Department said in a special weather bulletin.

Bangladesh had raised its highest number 10 weather danger alert as the storm approached with officials quickly evacuating more than 300,000 people to cyclone shelters.

They have been evacuated to at least 400 cyclone shelters, schools and government offices in the coastal areas,Golam Mostofa, senior government bureaucrat who is coordinating the evacuation, said.

Mostofa said they had not received any reports of casualties so far but some houses have been damaged and trees uprooted.

The weather office has said the cyclone could unleash a five-foot (1.7 metre) high storm surge around Cox's Bazar, Chittagong and several other coastal districts on the Bay of Bengal which are home to millions of people.

The local administration has called in all fishing vessels and advised them to remain anchored, while the Chittagong port authority has postponed activities.

Bangladesh is routinely hit by bad storms between April and December that cause deaths and widespread property damage.

In May last year, Cyclone Roanu hit the southern coast of Bangladesh leaving 20 people dead and forcing half a million to flee their homes.

Flash floods and excessive rain led to landslides in hilly areas, which caused most of the casualties.

But this time we are more prepared, disaster management authority spokesman Abul Hashim said

UNITED KINGDOM: Hamerton Zoo Park Tiger Kills 33-year-old Rosa King.

A zoo-keeper who died after a tiger entered an enclosure at a wildlife park in Cambridgeshire has been named as 33-year-old Rosa King.

The death happened at Hamerton Zoo Park, near Huntingdon, at about 11:15 BST on Monday.

Friend Garry Chisholm, a wildlife photographer in his spare time, said she was the "focal point" and "shining light" of the wildlife park.

The zoo said it was a freak accident, and police said it was not suspicious.

Mr Chisholm, 59, of Irchester, Northamptonshire, said the wildlife park revolved around the zoo-keeper.

Rosa wasn't just a keeper at Hamerton Zoo - she was Hamerton Zoo, he said.

She was the absolute central point of it, the focal point of it. She was the shining light of it.

Her passion for the animals in her care was exceptional though her favourites were undoubtedly the cheetahs which she would refer to as her pride and joy.

She will be greatly missed, not just by me, but by everyone who came to know her.

The only consolation I can take from today's tragic events is that Rosa is now reunited with her beloved Ares the cheetah, and Blizzard and Ladybelle, her beloved tigers.

A Cambridgeshire Police spokesman said,a tiger had entered an enclosure with a keeper. Sadly the female zoo keeper died at the scene.

Visitors were led away from the zoo. At no time did the animal escape from the enclosure, said police.

Officers investigating the death said it was "not believed to be suspicious, and that the tiger involved was believed to be fine.

Hamerton Zoo Park said in a statement: This appears to have been a freak accident.

At no point during the incident did any animals escape their enclosures and at no point was public safety affected in any way.

All our thoughts and sympathies are with our colleagues, friends and families at this dreadful time.

The park will be closed from tomorrow, 30 May, and we will give more information as soon as we can.

The wildlife park said an investigation was under way.

A visitor to the zoo, who did not wish to be named, said We got to the zoo at opening time, around 11:45.

We were close to the tiger enclosure when a member of staff shouted for everyone to leave the park quickly and immediately.

The wildlife park opened in June 1990 and covers 25 acres.

It includes enclosures for Malaysian tigers, Bengal tigers, cheetahs, wolves, corsac foxes, kangaroos as well as a variety of birds, reptiles and domestic animals.

The zoo opened a new enclosure for its Malaysian tigers in July last year.

In October 2008 a cheetah which escaped from the park was found by a nine-year-old boy in the back garden of his family home.

Monday 29 May 2017

PHILIPPINES: The Armed Forces Of The Philippines Continues Striking Terrorists In Marawi City, Lanao del Sur

Cops on Sunday, May 28, entered ground zero of military clashes with local terrorist groups to finally retrieve dead bodies on the streets.

The military earlier said the terrorists have killed 19 civilians in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

Among the bodies recovered were those of 3 women and a child, said Al Sayyeed Alonto, who joined the retrieval operations in Barangay Basak Malutlut.

It signals the beginning of attempts by Marawi City to get a semblance of normalcy even as clashes continue for the 6th straight day. The fighting erupted last Tuesday, May 23, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao.

There is division of labor, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The AFP continues operations against the terrorists, police-assisted local government units (LGUs) lead the retrieval of bodies, volunteers rescue families trapped in combat zones, and so on.

Right now, the LGUs are the ones collecting dead bodies of civilians. Sa amin naka-focus pa rin kami sa,We're still focusing on military operations pertaining to clearing and security operations,said Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, military spokesman on the Marawi crisis.

The retrieval operations come after 8 bodies were found in a ditch near a security checkpoint on Sunday morning. It is unclear if these 8 were included in the military's count of civilian deaths.

Trapped civilians

Herrera also said over 200 civilians trapped inside the combat zone have been "rescued" from their homes.

But 2,000 others remain trapped in areas controlled by the terrorists, according to Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesman for the Lanao del Sur crisis management committee.

They have been sending us text messages, calling our hotline, requesting us to send rescue teams but we cannot simply go to areas which are inaccessible to us, Adiong said.

They want to leave. They are afraid for their safety. Some are running out of food to eat. They fear they will be hit by bullets, by air strikes, he said.

Surgical air strikes

Air strikes had resumed on Sunday afternoon. The attack choppers could be seen from the provincial capitol.

Surgical air strikes resume in Marawi City Sunday afternoon.

Herrera said they are surgical attacks targeting fortifications of the local terrorist groups.

We are still using surgical air strikes dahil mayroon pa rin silang mga,because they still have fortifications. They are occupying buildings. They are using sniper rifles to inflict casualty on government forces, he said.

The military assures public that the air strikes are surgical, targetting fortifications of Maute.

UNITED KINGDOM: British Airways Passengers Continue To Face More Chaos And Disruption At Heathrow

British Airways passengers are facing a third day of disruption at Heathrow as the beleaguered airline continues to deal with the fallout from a global IT crash.

Both Heathrow and Gatwick have warned Bank Holiday travellers that they should check the status of their flights before travelling to the airports where scenes of chaos unfolded over the weekend.

BA has said it will run a full schedule at Gatwick on Monday and it intends to operate a full long-haul schedule and a "high proportion" of its short-haul programme at Heathrow.

The airline said it was continuing to make "good progress" in recovering from the worldwide IT glitch that grounded scores of planes, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

An airline spokeswoman said: "We operated a full schedule at Gatwick on Sunday. At Heathrow, we operated virtually all our scheduled long-haul flights, though the knock-on effects of Saturday's disruption resulted in a reduced short-haul programme.

As our IT systems move closer to full operational capacity, we will again run a full schedule at Gatwick on Monday and intend to operate a full long-haul schedule and a high proportion of our short-haul programme at Heathrow.

We apologise again to customers for the frustration and inconvenience they are experiencing and thank them for their continued patience.

Travellers spent the night sleeping on yoga mats spread on terminal floors on Saturday after BA cancelled all flights leaving the London hubs, while disruption continued into Sunday with dozens more services from Heathrow axed.

The IT outage had a knock-on effect on BA services around the world, while passengers who did get moving on the limited number of flights to take off from the UK reported arriving at their destinations without their luggage.

The disruption also hit transport systems on the ground, with hundreds of travellers flooding London's Kings Cross station in hope of boarding a train north instead.

Experts predict the knock-on effect could continue for several days and BA is facing huge compensation costs, with reports suggesting the bill could top £100 million.

The airline blamed the computer blackout on a "power supply issue" and said there was no evidence of it resulting from a cyber attack.

Issuing an apology on Sunday, the airline's chief executive, Alex Cruz, admitted it had been "a horrible time for our customers".

On Monday a Heathrow Airport spokeswoman said: "Following a worldwide IT system issue, there continues to be some disruption to British Airways flights from Heathrow.

"All British Airways passengers due to fly should check the status of their flight before travelling to the airport, via, and British Airways' Twitter account.

"All passengers whose flights have been cancelled should not travel to the airport unless they have already rebooked onto another flight. Passengers looking to re-book flights should go to"

Meanwhile Gatwick Airport tweeted: "Today, Monday 29th May, British Airways are planning to operate a near normal schedule at Gatwick, following the British Airways IT system failure.

We continue to advise customers travelling with British Airways over the Bank Holiday Weekend to check the status of their flight with British Airways before travelling to the airport.

Customers should not travel to the airport unless they have already rebooked onto another flight."

ISRAEL: Best Israeli Food

In big cities and small towns, Israelis from all walks of life enjoy these popular Israeli foods.

It’s easiest to try them during a trip to Israel, but you can also find many of these dishes at a local Israeli or Middle Eastern restaurant, a specialty market, or make them in your own kitchen!

While there is a tremendous variety of cuisines and food eaten in Israel, certain dishes are considered typical Israeli food.
popular israeli food

These traditional foods of Israel can be found throughout the country in restaurants and cafés,food stands, and of course, in many Israeli homes.

Israeli Breakfast Foods:

These dishes are universally popular in Israel. We often eat them at home because they’re easy to make and very filling. A chopped Israeli salad is often served on the side.

Borekas – these pastries can be filled with cheese, potatoes, or vegetables

Israeli breakfast – features fresh vegetables, eggs, and cheeses

Israeli salad – a popular way to enjoy vegetables

Jachnun – a filling dish made from dough and cooked overnight

Labane – a tangy yogurt spread to be enjoyed at any meal

Shakshooka – an easy way to enjoy eggs in the morning (or anytime!)

Israeli Lunch / Dinner Foods:

Popular Israeli food is characteristically simple. A typical lunch in Israel is shnitzel with different side salads, including hummus and tahini, and served with rice or mashed potatoes, and vegetables.

For a quick meal on the go, it’s easy to grab a falafel or shwarma on the street, usually stuffed in pita with French fries ("chips") and salad.

Baba Ganoush – a tangy eggplant spread

Falafel – deep fried chickpea balls, often served in pita bread

Hummus – a mashed chickpea spread, hummus can be served in many ways and is a staple in Israeli households

Malawach – this flaky round pastry can be enjoyed with sweet or savory toppings

Pita bread – the “national bread” of Israel

Sabih – a sandwich of fried eggplant, hard boiled egg, tahini in pita

Shnitzel – chicken cutlets breaded and fried, Israeli supermarkets also offer many varieties of frozen “shnitzelim” to be enjoyed easily at home

Shwarma – grilled lamb or other meat that is then sliced or “shaved”, often enjoyed in pita or laffa bread

Tahini – a delicious spread made from ground sesame seeds

Israeli Snack Foods / Desserts:

These are just some of the sweet treats available in Israel. Disclaimer - they're not exactly dietetic!

Baklava - a sweet layered pastry enjoyed throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East

Crêpes - In the malls and on the streets, food stands sell freshly made crêpes, available with different fillings.

Ice Cream - Israelis, like people all over the world, love their ice cream.

Knafeh – this dessert is made of shredded pastry, soft cheese and sweet syrup

Malabi – a pudding flavored with rose water and topped with nuts

Sahlab – a rich, creamy, sweet hot drink or pudding

Israeli Drinks:

Living in Israel convertes one from a die-hard tea drinker to a coffee drinker. The coffee served in cafés here is delicious! Fruit shakes and lemonades are especially refreshing and tasty because the produce is grown locally.

Café Afuch – an “upside-down” cappuccino

Fruit Shake – in Israel these shakes are always fresh and flavorful

Mint Lemonade – called “lemonana”, sometimes served frozen and blended

Mint Tea - enjoyed with or without a teabag!

As you can see from this list, most of the popular food in Israel is also “everyday food” – tasty, unpretentious dishes to be enjoyed often, both in and out of the home.

Sunday 28 May 2017

THAILAND: Jewel In Thailand’s Crown

The Tourist Authority of Thailand remembers the late Monarch with a trip to Prachuap Khiri Khan

While the country has moved on from the overwhelming grief following the death last October of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the late monarch and the benefits he provided to all his subjects are still being remembered and honoured nationwide.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is among the organisations constantly paying tribute and is now inviting tourists, both local and foreign, to remember the monarch’s illustrious life with a trip to Prachuap Khiri Khan dubbed Follow the Royal Path at the City of Three Bays, the Gateway to the South.

We start our visit to the three bays at the Sirinart Rajini Ecosystem Learning Centre. Some 30 kilometres south of Hua Hin where the Pranburi River flows into the Gulf of Thailand, it is the largest mangrove forest in Thailand.

An ongoing flood prevention and sewage treatment project makes it easy for us to walk along a footbridge through the heart of a beautifully preserved natural mangrove forest that’s home to various species of crabs.

We also climb the 97 steps up to the three-storey Chakhram Lookout Tower from where we gaze out over the panorama of the reforested area.

We stop off at Tha Tabun Pavilion, which marks the spot where the late King and Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn planted mangrove trees at a reforestation ceremony held on November 16, 2002.

The late monarch returned to the centre two years before his death to see the development of the forest project and a new exhibition zone displaying native fishing tools and information about shrimp farms developed on deteriorated forest land.

The learning centre has been successful in promoting public awareness of natural conservation for the community’s common interest.

Our next stop is Phra Mahathat Chedi Phakdi Prakat on top of Khao Thong Chai at the northern end of Ban Krut beach. A stunning nine-peak pagoda built for King Rama IX in celebration of his golden jubilee, the chedi boasts colourful stained glass windows.

We climb to the top and admire the magnificent view over Ban Krut beach before turning back to pay our respects to the large golden Buddha statue called Phra Phut Kitti Sirichai, which measures an impressive 12 metres in width and rises 10 metres into the air.

The remarkable architecture of Wat Ao Noi also comes as a surprise. Built in 2003 entirely of golden teakwood, it is decorated with paintings and intricate carvings. Facing Ao Noi bay is Tham Phra Non Cave, home to two grand reclining Buddha images.

We end our first day at this gateway to the south by taking in the coastline and seascape from the top of Khao Chong Krachok, a tiring climb up 395 steps that’s enlivened by several stump-tailed macaques playing along the pathway.

The King came here June 12, 1958 to attend the containing ceremony of the relics of the Buddha and the Buddha’s footprint and oversaw the planting of a Bodhi tree.

Climbing is back on the following day’s agenda and there are more than a few winces as we make our way up 496 steps to the top of Khao Lom Muak inside the Airforce base of Prachuap Khiri Khan, better known as Wing 5. The agony doesn’t end there though, and soon we are scrambling up rocks to reach the summit.

Khao Lom Muak first opened to the public two years ago but was closed following a series of accidents involving visitors falling, slipping and tripping, especially at night. It is now open on holidays and members of the public are invited to conquer the summit. More than 14,000 have tried their luck and this Labour Day holiday we welcomed 1,532 adventurers, an officer from Wing 5 explains.

For safety, we issue queue cards that allow 50 visitors to go up every 20 minutes. We have personnel stationed at the summit to take care of the visitors and a small staff of military doctors. A replica of the Buddha’s footprint was built on the summit in 1989 at the order of the then commander.

The original plan was to install a Buddha image to mark the late Monarch’s birthday but when the five stones making up the foundation were connected, it looked like a Buddha footprint. In fact, the Fine Arts Department is of the opinion that the foundation was laid in the reign of King Rama IV.

While the climb is challenging, the view of the three bays of Ao Noi, Ao Prachuap and Ao Manao that awaits at the summit more than compensates for our tired legs.

A popular tourist destination today, Ao Manao was once a theatre of war.
During World War II, Japanese warships came into the bay and landed some 3,000 to 4,000 Japanese troops at Ao Manao at 4am on December 8, 1941. We had only 120 airmen on site and the Japanese troops quickly occupied City Hall and the post office at Ao Prachuap. Pilot Officer Srisak Sujarittham, together with other airmen, had gone fishing in order to prepare food for a farewell party for our soldiers, and saw the warships off Ao Manao. He contacted Wing Commander ML Prawat Chumsai of Wing 5 who immediately gave orders to resist. In the battle that ensued, we lost 38 airmen, two families, one policeman and a 13-year-old boy who was studying at Prachuap Wittayalai School. More than 400 Japanese troops were found dead on the beach. The site is today marked by three museums, the officer explains.

Later that day, we pay our respects to the fallen at the museums. The first museum offers an eight-minute light and sound show that takes us back to the past. The second is a former 10-room military home that’s been converted into a museum featuring five rooms. They include one dedicated to the “Incidents of War” and another named “The Dignity of the Brave”. The third museum reveals a conversation between an old man and a young boy about the events of that time.

A sandstone memorial depicts Thai soldiers fighting against the Japanese amphibious landing and, at the back, the signing of an armistice.

THAILAND: Gaysorn Village Has A Gourmet Choice

Gaysorn in the corner of Ratchaprasong intersection has long been known as a haven for shoppers who love luxury brands but despite being home to a selection of cafes and restaurants, it has never made it to the list of Bangkok’s culinary destinations.

That’s all about to change now that the shopping centre has been rebranded as Gaysorn Village with the existing eight restaurants, bars, cafes and tearooms soon to be joined by another five outlets, each with a sterling reputation.

Among the magnets opening soon is Thailand’s first Burger & Lobster – London’s hottest fast food restaurant since 2011 – and the new branch of Eric Kayser – known for its croissants – which will see its shop transformed into a mini factory for visitors to observe every step of the baking process.

“We want Gaysorn to be a place of style, experience and food,” says Gaysorn Village’s executive director Korakot Srivikorn.

“The dining and drinking venues have been selected for their heritage and because they offer a one-of-a-kind experience.”

The culinary journey can start at Thai restaurant Paste where ancient royal Thai recipes are brought back to life with a contemporary approach by experienced chef Bee Satongun.The eatery, which has relocated from Sukhumvit Soi 49, offers a range of signature dishes inspired by the Snidwongse family cookbook as a few other private sources.

They include Roasted duck with nutmeg, curry paste and saw tooth coriander served on rice crackers, and Watermelon and ground salmon with crispy shallots and roasted galangal powder.

From June 5 to August 5, Paste will also be offering a lunchtime sumrub, a set of dishes at Bt800-plus per person. I was lucky enough to be offered a pre-taste and started my travel back through time with an amuse-bouche of crispy prawns with roasted coconut and cashew nuts served on a bed of rose apple.

The amuse-bouche will change regularly based on what seasonal produce is available.

Few younger generation diners will have tasted tangmo pla haeng yet it is one of the most basic, but sophisticated and enduring of Thai appetisers. The fresh and sweet watermelon with a dressing of crispy smoked dried fish flakes is evidence of Thai cuisine’s loyalty to freshness and wholesomeness.

At Paste, salmon is used as a substitute for local fish and the presentation is artful and modern. Compressed watermelons are topped with ground salmon, crispy shallots, roasted coconut and salmon caviar.

Then there’s Canadian lobster dressed with kaffir lime juice, mandarin juice and buzz button flowers to which a crunchy texture is added with crispy seaweed and fried fish skins.

That’s followed by Southern-style yellow curry with crabmeat seasoned with black pepper, pennyworth leaves, hummingbird flowers and Thai samphire and a hot-and-sour soup of crispy pork leg with chargrilled shallots, jackfruit seeds and roasted peeled tomatoes in a smoky chicken broth that is best enjoyed with hot steamed jasmine rice and organic riceberry served together on a plate.

If you don’t want to go for a whole set, there are two new a la carte dishes that beg to be shared: the aromatic chargrilled organic pork loin glazed with wild honey and a side dish of smoked eggplant and tomato relish and fennel seed (Bt700).

Equally tempting is Northern-style curry paste made from tomato puree, garlic, coriander, baby anchovies served on top of fried mackerel and topped with fried fish scales (Bt650).

A favourite with wine lovers, Riedel Wine Bar and Cellar offers more than 200 labels and state-of-the-art wine dispensers that allow for a comprehensive tasting experience along with tempting Mediterranean tapas.

The showroom-cum-wine bar at Gaysorn is the German crystal glassware brand’s first concept store. Guests are given a personal card to enjoy a wide selection of wine by glass at the wine dispensers. Insert your card and select your preferred wine in one of three pours – 30ml for taster option, 75 and 150ml – with prices ranging from just Bt60 a glass to Bt2,500.

A row of Riedel glassware is arranged to match the character and body of each wine and in-house sommeliers are on hand to offer their expertise.

The food is orchestrated by Patrick Martens and on the day I visited, he was offering stracciatella (soft stretched-curd Italian buffalo cheese) with bottarga on toast, and chilli garlic prawns.

Duke, the speakeasy whiskey bar and cigar lounge- is hidden from view behind the shop. Once through the door, the 477-square-metre area that’s run by Water Library Hospitality Group combines contemporary art gallery, with a creative space for any functions, whiskey bar, and cigar lounge.

The artworks on display are curated by the editorial team of Fine Art magazine and rotate every month. Currently on display is the show “Plus Four” by Prahassorn Butphrom, Soomphong Ponradsamee, Manut Lao-on and Atchalinee Kesornsook. Art installations and sculptures are arranged around the remaining space.

“We are set to become the biggest cigar and whiskey lounge in the world,” says co-founder Attawoot Papangkorn with pride. “So far, we have about 200 labels and we intend to offer 450 by the end of this year.”

The cigar lounge has a wall hand-painted by noted Thai artist Alongkorn Lauwattana and another two private rooms for members only. These are decorated with works by such artists as Panya Vijinthanasarn and Alex Face.

The huge list of whiskey is divided into different categories based on region. Smokers will find an extensive list of cigars, plus suggested pairings with whisky. Only snacks and light meals are served here including a cheese and cold cut selection and nacho chips with tomato salsa.

Gaysorn is home to the world’s first and full-scale tea lounge belonging to German tea brand Ronnefeldt, which was established in 1823 in Frankfurt. The 1823 Tea Lounge by Ronnefeldt offers diners more than 70 distinct flavours together with afternoon tea sets, all-day light meals, pastries and an extensive drink list.

Two exclusive blends have been prepared especially for Gaysorn. The Bangkok Blend is Oolong tea blended with tropical flavours of papaya and pineapple while the Gaysorn Blend combines light flowery Pai Mu Tan white tea from Fujian with ripe mango and hints of citric notes.

The blends are best enjoyed as an afternoon set and tea master Rami Sambath recommends the Gold Indulgence set (Bt1,370 for two). These includes two pots of tea based on your choice and a feast of scones with jam and clotted cream, macarons, strawberry panna cotta, carrot cream cheese, green tea financiers, cucumber sandwiches, crab salad and salmon tartar rolls.

For something a little more substantial, check out matcha carbonara with truffle oil, a savoury matcha soba dish tossed in a classic Parmigiano and Pecorino cheese sauce with eggs, finished with crispy tea cured pancetta, poached egg and a drizzle of white truffle oil. Other option is tea rice with ikura and truffle made with signature Ceylon tea rice, lemon and a topping of ikura shoyuzuke (marinated salmon roe) and freshly shaved truffles.

Starbucks at Gaysorn is the country’s first Reserve Experience Store, offering a coffee bar with 15 seats for coffee lovers to enjoy a cup of its fine, rare beans brewed either in a press, as a pour-over, in a chemex and with a siphon.

The reserve coffees include one from Costa Rica with a citrus acidity and green apple, honey notes, Nicaragua Maracaturra, which boasts a red-apple sweetness with a hint of vanilla, and Nicaragua La Roca with hints of orange hibiscus and red-plum sweetness.

Store manager Wanchana Sakpratheepkorn offered me the Costa Rica beans with siphon brewing that uses vapour pressure and vacuum force to extract the coffee flavour, resulting in a clean and smooth brew.

“Costa Rica is known for producing full-body coffee and this reserve one was created with cherries from selected farmers using the yellow honey processing method – a technique that intensifies the coffee’s sweet and fruity notes,” says Wanchana.

“The beans are constantly roasted as they dry, with the pulp left intact. Eventually the parchment turns a honey-yellow colour as the pulp become sticky.”

Paste on the third floor is open from noon to 2.30pm, and for dinner from 6.30 to 11.30pm. Call (02) 656 1003.

Riedel Wine Bar & Cellar on the second floor is open from noon to midnight. Call (02) 656 1133.

Duke on the first floor is open 10am to midnight. Call (094) 647 8888.

1823 Tea Lounge by Ronnefeldt on the first floor is open from 10am to 8pm. Call (02) 656 1086.

Starbucks Reserve Experience Store on the second floor is open from 6.30am to 9pm. Call (02) 656 1008.

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THAILAND: Belgian Tourist Accused Of Theft In Phuket

The owner of a mobile phone accessory shop in Phuket province has accused a Belgian tourist of stealing an accessory costing Bt699 from her shop on Friday.

Nichapha-orn Chaiviriyawong, the owner of Remax shop in Tambon Talad Yai in Phuket’s Muang district, posted a video clip on her Facebook wall that purportedly showed one of two tourists putting something from her shop into a bag of purchased goods before leaving the shop.

Nichapha-orn filed a complaint with the Phuket Muang police station that the theft took place at around 3.14pm.

She said she was monitoring CCTVs in her shop when the two Belgian tourists entered and she saw one of them put something into the bag of goods he had already paid for while his friend was paying for his goods.

The shop owner said she called her staff to check their bags but it was too late as the tourists had left the shop. The staff checked their stocks and found that a dashboard phone holder costing Bt699 had gone missing.

The two Belgian tourists had together bought goods with their credit cards totalling Bt5,365.

She said she had posted the clip to warn other shops.

Pol Lt-Colonel Naruewat Phutthawir, an inspector at Phuket Tourist Police Station 2, said efforts would be made to locate the two tourists.

Meanwhile, a pregnant British woman was killed in a hit and run with an 18-wheeled-truck on Thepkrasattri road in Thalang at noon today.

She was riding on a motorbike with her partner, who did not sustain injuries. While driving, they changed lanes to avoid a vehicle parked on the left side of the road (the motorbike lane).

As they did this, the truck hit their bike from behind, said Lt Col Sanit Nukhong of Thalang Police.

“The woman was then run over by the truck and sustained fatal head injuries,” he added.

Her partner is also a British national. Both were taken to Thalang Hospital. Their names are being withheld until their families have been notified.

Police are now looking for the truck driver, who fled the scene in his vehicle.

MEXICO: 4 Cab Drivers Murdered In San Miguel de Allende

Drug violence may be behind the killing of four taxi drivers in the picturesque central Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende, a popular tourism destination that is home to thousands of American retirees, authorities said Thursday.

Mayor Ricardo Villarreal said that while the investigation into the Wednesday night slayings was continuing, the bloodshed appeared to be a "score settling" within the world of street-level drug sales.

Villarreal said in an interview with Radio Formula that because San Miguel is a tourist destination, it is prone to small-scale drug sales.

Saying the city remains a safe place, he said the four slain taxi drivers were targeted, not the victims of random attacks. He said the drivers apparently were all called to the location on the town's outskirts where they were killed in their cabs.

A statement from the city said two other men were wounded.

Mexico has struggled with increased drug gang violence in some of its most popular tourism spots. Killings and attacks have occurred recently in Cancun, Zihuatanejo and Los Cabos, though the attacks have not targeted tourists.

San Miguel de Allende is a city and municipality located in the far eastern part of the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico. It is part of the macroregion of Bajío. It is 274 km (170 mi) from Mexico City and 97 km (60 mi) from the state capital of Guanajuato.Historically, the town is important as being the birthplace of Ignacio Allende, whose surname was added to the town’s name in 1826, as well as the first municipality declared independent of Spanish rule by the nascent insurgent army during the Mexican War of Independence.

The city has been known by various names since the Spanish founded the settlement. It was called Izcuinapan by the indigenous peoples. The Spanish originally called it San Miguel el Grande and sometimes San Miguel de los Chichimecas. San Miguel refers to the founder of the city, Father Juan de San Miguel.The name of the town was changed in 1826 to San Miguel de Allende in order to honor Ignacio Allende, who was born here.

The surrounding municipality is officially called Allende, both seat and municipality are called San Miguel (de Allende). The municipality has a coat of arms that was designed by a group called Amigos de San Miguel, but it has not been officially recognized.

The layout of the center of the city is mostly a straight grid, which was favored by the Spanish during colonial times. However, due to the terrain, many roads are not straight. There are no parking meters, no traffic signals and no fast food restaurants.These roads are lined with colonial era homes and churches.

With a few exceptions, the architecture is domestic rather than monumental, with well-tended courtyards and rich architectural details.The houses have solid walls against the sidewalks, painted in various colors, many with bougainvillea vines falling down the outside and the occasional iron-grated window. Many of the larger structures have large front doors which used to be used by horses and carriages.

The town is noted for its streetscapes with narrow cobblestone lanes, that rise and fall over the hilly terrain, and occasionally defy colonial attempts to make a straight grid. It is still a small city, and at night, many wander the narrow streets with relative safety.The people on the streets are a mix of Mexicans, foreigners and indigenous. Its cultural and artistic reputation has brought many people from Mexico and abroad here to live. Several publications have named it one of the top 10 places to retire.

About half of the colonial buildings have been partially or fully converted into businesses such as stores, restaurants, galleries, workshops and hotels. Since there is no zoning, residential and commercial establishments are well-mixed. Although it is small and rural, it has a wide variety of upscale and ethnic restaurants, specialty shops and art galleries. All around the historic center there are over 80 bars and cantinas as well as various nightclubs. To compete, many offer two-for-one drink specials.Others rely on gimmicks such as the frontier themed bar on Mesones Street called “El Gato” with swinging cantina doors like those seen on “Old West” movies.

Despite being less than five percent of the total municipal population, foreign residents have considerable cultural and economic impact. Most foreign residents are retirees from the United States, Canada and Europe attracted by the mild climate, cultural opportunities and low crime. It is only a ten-hour drive to the U.S. border.Many of the home buyers are from this segment of the population as well. Estimates of foreign residents range from 5,000 to 8,000 with at least half of these from the United States.

Outside of the main town and in these smaller communities are the municipality's indigenous groups, mostly Otomi and Nahuas. The Otomi are the largest group, accounting for just under 38% of the municipal population. The Nahuas follow at about 20%. Other groups include the Mazahua, Huasteca and Purépecha. However, according to the 2005 Census, only 355 people speak an indigenous language.

Due to its growth as a tourist destination, some of the most obvious culture seen on the streets of the town relates to visitors, both foreign and Mexican. To cater to these visitors, the town contains organic cafes, boutiques, art galleries, upscale restaurants and hotels, and a wide variety of bars and nightclubs.Bars and nightclubs range from DJs or loud bands catering to young people, to jazz clubs, sports bars and even those that specialize in traditional Mexican music such as mariachi.

Some were founded by foreigners and reflect that ownership, for example the Berlin Bar & Bistro.Shops around the Jardin Principal sell art, handcrafts, furniture and decorative items. The Fabrica La Aurora is an old textile mill that has been converted into galleries and shops selling art, furnishings and antiques; it has a lot of open space along with a café and restaurant.

Many of the festivals here are purely Mexican, combining social activity with religious expression. Throughout the year there are pilgrimages, all-night vigils, ringing church bells, processions and fireworks. The largest celebration of the year is that of the town's patron saint, the Archangel Michael. The angel's feast day is 29 September, but festivities take place for an entire week. Activities include private parties, sporting events, cultural events, indigenous dance and more.

The week is popularly called the Fiestas de San Miguel de Allende. An event, now discontinued for safety concerns, was the "Sanmiguelada", a running of the bulls event similar to that in Pamplona.Youths fill the streets showing off their "matador" talents in front of the bulls.The finale is a parade through the street in honor of Michael and a fireworks "castle" competition to see who can build the most elaborate frame from which fireworks are lit.

Holy Week begins with a exhibition of altars dedicated to the Virgin of Sorrows and end with the Procession of Silence.Prior to the Procession of Silence, there is a reenactment of the judgment of Jesus by Pontius Pilate, on one side of the San Miguel Parish. Then the procession begins, which represents the fourteen scenes of the Passion before his crucifixion.

Many of the townspeople participate in the event, with children dressed as angels and adults in period clothing carrying statues of Jesus. The procession winds its way along the main streets of the historic center completely in silence.Another large religious celebration is the feast of Nuestro Señor de la Columna.

There are also secular, cultural festivals during the year. The annual Festival de Música de Cámara or Chamber Music Festival occurs each year in August in the city's historic center. One of the purposes of the event is to bring this type of music to streets and other public venues as well as traditional concert halls such as the event's home of the Angela Peralta Theater.

The 2009 edition had over 100 singers invited to various events, three major conferences, and instrument exhibition and ten classes taught by prominent persons in the field. Some of the groups invited that year included Yale Glee Club, the Cuerdas Amernet Cuartet, the Alientos de Bellas Artes Trio, soprano Guadalupe Jimenez and pianist Natasha Tarasova .

San Miguel de Allende has long had a reputation as a haven for visual artists. Since the 1950s, when Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros worked there, it has attracted professional and amateur painters, sculptors and printmakers to the classes and workshops frequently held.

In addition to two major art institutions (Instituto Allende and Bellas Artes), artists and art venues can be seen in various parts of the town. One notable art gallery is the Galería Manuel Chacon, which carries contemporary art.On the streets, it is not unusual to see someone sketching people on the street or selling their own work.

Much of the municipality's economy is now tied to the influx of tourists and foreigners who come to live, mostly retirees. In 2002, 250,000 visitors spent about 8.4 million USD at the town's attractions, but those who live here contribute far more to the economy.Most of this is concentrated in the town of San Miguel proper.

Hotel occupancy typically reaches 80% on weekends with about 50% occupancy on weekdays, when rates can be about half. Most visitors are vacationers and about 60% are domestic visitors, interested in the town's history and role in the Mexican War of Independence. Another attraction for visitors are the two main art/cultural institutions of Instituto Allende and Bellas Artes as well as a number of Spanish language schools.

Most domestic visitors come from Mexico's large urban centers like Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey and Queretaro. This growth has spurred the development of newer hotels, resort and vacation home developments, especially on the corridor between San Miguel and Atotonilco.There are 149 hotels, nine of which are 5-star. The town has just over 9% of all hotel rooms in the state, and this percentage is growing. Another important sector is restaurants.

In 2006, the town invested 800,000 pesos to implement an online marketing plan to increase services to potential tourists. The town now has presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Outside of the town of San Miguel, the economy is more traditional. A bit over half of the land is used for grazing with 37% used for crops. Over 80% of the crops are grown during the rainy season with less than 20% grown on irrigated lands. Forestry is minimal. Agriculture produces 25% of the employment in the municipality. Principal crops include corn, beans, wheat, and alfalfa, which account for 84% of harvests.

Another important agricultural activity is fruit orchards. The most important livestock is domestic fowl, especially poultry. The municipality raises over 12% of the state's chickens. Another important product is honey, of which the municipality provides 7.5% of the state’s total.