first_imgThe news that the tourism industry had experienced a bumper July has given the Donegal tourism industry a huge boost. County Manager Seamus Neely says Donegal has so much to offer visitorsA number of surveys this summer have all concluded that this summer is shaping up to be one of the best tourism seasons in almost a decade for the county.And the most recent news coming from online travel agent,, that Donegal ranked number 1 in a nationwide poll with a staggering increase of 800 per cent in bookings is certainly evidence that County Donegal is fast becoming Ireland’s favourite holiday destination. Welcoming the news, Seamus Neely, Chairman of Donegal Tourism Ltd and Donegal County Manager said he is absolutely delighted that Donegal has seen an influx of holidaymakers this summer.“It is my view that Donegal has a fantastic range of visitor products. We have some of the best Hotels, B&B’s and Guesthouses in Ireland. We have more Blueflag Beaches than any other County in the Country, and most important of all, we offer a high quality tourism product at very competitive rates.“I would like to praise the excellent work of Fáilte Ireland, Donegal Hotel Federation, Donegal Self-Catering Association, B&B Ireland, and all of the Small and Medium Sized Enterprises that have really come together this year to ensure that Donegal’s tourism product is as competitive as any on the Island of Ireland.“I think it is important to recognise the contribution of the Elected Members on Donegal County Council for their continued support for the tourism sector. It is our ambition that the rest of the year will be as successful as the last number of months. There are still plenty of reasons to visit Donegal this summer and autumn.” Donegal County Council launched a new destination tourism website – in February 2013, began an intensive marketing campaign aimed at the staycation market in April. saw an extraordinary increase of 463% in visitor traffic in July, with many users searching for information on beaches, accommodation and festivals or events.The €104,000 advertising campaign targeted the key visitor markets in Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Galway, through a range of outdoor billboards, bus advertising in the capital and an intensive national radio and print campaign. The campaign was funded by Donegal Local Development Company and Inishowen Development Partnership under the LEADER element of the Rural Development Programme.Tourism Development Officer, Kevin O’Connor added it is clear that Donegal has benefited from the heatwave in July.“However, I think it is worth noting that while the weather was an attraction for many people, there were certainly other factors in making Donegal the number one choice for holidaymakers in 2013.“Our festivals and events programme, marketed under the Gathering and Donegal Gathering Brands has been second to none. Big ticket events such as the Earagail Arts Festival, Feile An Grianan, the Donegal Rally, Letterkenny Live, A Taste of Donegal Food Festival are major attractors for visitors. That is not to forget the hundreds of community-driven events and gatherings that have really added to the annual festival calendar. “We have also benefited from our partnership work with the City of Culture team, and our trade have been very astute in creating innovative packages around the big events happening in Derry this year. “TOURISM BOSSES SAY DONEGAL CAN CONTINUE TO WOO VISITORS was last modified: August 15th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:County Managerdonegal tourismSEAMUS NEELYtourismlast_img read more

Eye in the sky benefits society

first_imgThe top image of the port of Sona, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, is sourced from Google Earth and is dated September 2010. The bottom image was taken in April 2011 by SumbandilaSat and shows the extensive tsunami damage in the area. (Image: Sunspace) South Africa’s maritime domain, including the area around the Prince Edward Islands.(Image: Sea Around Us project) Former science and technology minister Naledi Pandor expressed her thanks to Japan for its continuing collaboration with South Africa.(Image: Janine Erasmus) MEDIA CONTACTS • Anacletta Koloko  Science communication unit, South  African Agency for Science and  Technology Advancement   +27 12 392 9338 RELATED ARTICLES • Space science thriving in SA • SA’s space capabilities set to grow • Great astronomy, with or without SKA • Pandor: we did it • New Dawn satellite now in orbitJanine Erasmus The science of earth observation (EO) is gaining ground in South Africa. It gives us a new perspective on our planet, helps us understand our environment, and uses satellite information to anticipate climate variations such as drought or floods. This was the message at the Space Science Colloquium that took place at the University of Pretoria (UP) in early October. Organised by the Japanese embassy in South Africa, along with the national Department of Science and Technology (DST), the event brought scientists from the two countries together to discuss the latest developments in EO, micro-satellites and astronomy. The colloquium was co-hosted by the Nairobi Research Station of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and supported by South Africa’s National Research Foundation. Its theme was Promoting Space Exploration and Earth Observation: Contribution of Japan and South Africa to Humanity.The event coincided with the first day of World Space Week, which was first held in 1999 and celebrates its 13th anniversary in 2012. It takes place every year from 4 to 10 October and this year is held under the theme Space for Human Safety and Security. EO can also help in assessing water quality through the mapping of eutrophication – the excessive growth of plant matter on a water surface when nutrients are present in abundance, often because of the addition of chemicals – as well as fire scar mapping and damage assessment: Another use for EO is to detect change in land use, for instance the growth of informal settlements, and uncover other crucial information that could affect the ecology of an area or the safety of residents. For instance, if the settlement is built on agricultural land or wetlands, or is located near or under electricity pylons, the people and fauna and flora could be at risk. Other EO applications that have a benefit for society are disaster response and management, atmospheric pollution observation, and the monitoring of deforestation.Learning from the experts In the last 80 years Japan’s space industry has come along in leaps and bounds, said former science and technology minister Naledi Pandor, speaking at her last engagement in that position, and South Africa can learn much from the Asian island nation. “We have good relations with Japan, our most important commercial partner in Asia,” she said in her opening address. “They are working with us in areas such as biotechnology, information technology, the development of manufacturing technology capacity, renewable energy, and the development of capacity in space.” These are key areas into which the DST invests its resources, added Pandor. “The Japanese government pays particular attention to three key areas – funding of basic research, strong university partnerships, and strong protection of intellectual rights,” she said. “We are attempting to follow suit, to learn from them.” South Africa’s funding of basic research has grown in the last decade and the country recently established an agency to protect university intellectual property. “We’ve learned a lot from Japan but we can still learn more,” said Pandor. “We need to focus more strongly on university and private sector partnerships if we want to make the most of opportunities.” She named the relationship between industry and universities as a massive opportunity for entrepreneurship and job creation, and added that South Africa has to make better use of the transfer of technology contracts, as well as the expiry of drug patents, to create more opportunities. “We are lucky to have a competent core of scientists who are world-class in technology and innovation, so the base is there,” Pandor said. “Our scientists achieve very well and hold good rankings in the international arena, but we need to grow the ability to commercialise the intellectual property they produce.” South Africa has to work faster to accelerate this commercialisation, she said – if not, it will always be the client of others.Imaging for the good of mankind Climate change specialist Dr Jane Olwoch, MD of the South African National Space Agency’s (Sansa) earth observation division, said that satellite imagery helps people to understand the current situation in terms of land use and degradation. Sansa has a number of operational themes in its EO programme, including environmental and resource management, disaster management, industrial activities, and urban planning and development. Based at Hartebeeshoek, west of Pretoria and Johannesburg, the core business of Sansa’s EO division is data reception and processing, image archiving, dissemination of information, and development of applications. Satellite information is received at Hartebeeshoek, explained Olwoch, and once it is processed by a bank of 14 dual and quad core processors, it is archived in an 80-terabyte online catalogue, with older data held in a 760-terabyte tape library. The archive goes back to 1972 and is a rich resource, she said, holding, among other data, about 1 900 images captured by the now-defunct SumbandilaSat, South Africa’s second commercial satellite. These are available at no charge. Sansa EO is also responsible for the redistribution of imagery from other sources such as the Ikonos EO satellite and TerraSAR-X – these, however, are not free. “We want more people to access our data, and understand what we can derive from it,” Olwoch said. The catalogue is available online at Keeping an eye out from the sky Dr Waldo Kleynhans, a senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s remote sensing research unit (RSRU), is one of a team of experts that is developing EO applications for South Africa. Two of these projects involve the detection of anthropogenic – man-made, caused by humans – land cover change, and maritime domain awareness, involving the monitoring of South Africa’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and territorial waters. In the first instance, said Kleynhans, the objective of the RSRU project was to develop a change alarm that is able to detect the formation of new settlements and can accurately distinguish between the spread of settlements and natural cycles. “Human settlement expansion is the most pervasive form of land cover change in South Africa,” said Kleynhans. However, to ensure accurate readings, a bi-temporal approach is not always appropriate. This refers to readings that are taken only twice. For example, the land may become drier in winter but a computer, given only a summer and winter reading, will interpret the natural event as a change. “The temporal frequency should be high enough to distinguish change events from natural cycles such as the seasons.” The change alarm program uses Nasa’s moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer on board the Terra and Aqua satellite platforms, which covers the earth every two days or so and delivers images with a resolution of 500 metres – this is the dimension of each pixel in the image. The data are analysed using two change detection methods, both developed by the local team. They are the extended Kalman filter change detection method, and the autocorrelation change detection method. Moving on to the maritime application, Kleynhans named piracy, illegal fishing and oil spills as a few of the potential problems in South Africa’s maritime domain. Monitoring is currently achieved predominantly through transponder-based systems such as satellite automatic identification or long-range identification and tracking, as well as terrestrial-based radar systems such as those situated in Simon’s Town, the seat of the South African navy. “Terrestrial based radar systems are effective but only cover a fraction of South Africa’s total EEZ, which extends over 1.5-million square kilometres,” said Kleynhans. “South Africa has more sea than land to monitor, because the land area is just over 1.2-million square kilometres.” Satellite data and newer technologies such as synthetic aperture radar, he said, play an important role in monitoring this extensive piece of ocean, which includes the area along the coast and also that around the Prince Edward Islands – Marion Island and Prince Edward Island – situated some 1 800km southeast of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is used mostly from the air, from an aircraft or satellite, and uses the flight path of the platform to electronically simulate a large antenna or aperture. The captured information is then used to generate high-resolution remote sensing imagery. SAR is viewed as a potential addition to current maritime monitoring efforts, said Kleynhans, and using the technology, thousands of square kilometres can be surveyed in a single overpass. An international collaboration between bodies such as Pretoria University and the US office of naval research has yielded a system known as the International Collaborative Development for Enhanced Maritime Domain Awareness. “It’s an open source platform,” said Kleynhans, “which everyone can use. We are one of five countries contributing to the database.” The program and web portal is under development by researchers in Chile, Ghana, the Seychelles, South Africa and Mauritius. It provides information that can be freely accessed and analysed by the global maritime community on issues such as wave detection and oil spills. UP’s contribution focuses mostly on vessel detection. Even if a ship switches off its transponder, said Kleynhans, the program will still be able to detect it and in fact, disabling a transponder is often a cue to illegal activity, meaning that the relevant naval or coastal authorities can be alerted in time. “With historic vessel location information, intent detection algorithms are currently being researched, with particular emphasis on illegal fishing and piracy,” he said.last_img read more

Unicef to host fundraising gala in South Africa

first_imgUnicef is hosting a fundraising gala in South Africa for the first time, in May. The proceedings will benefit socioeconomically disadvantaged children.Unicef national ambassador for South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss will moderate the organisation’s gala event on 6 May 2017 in Johannesburg, its inaugural fundraiser in South Africa. (Image: Jo-Ann Strauss, Facebook)Brand South Africa reporterThe United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) will hold its inaugural fundraising gala in South Africa on 6 May 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in Rosebank, Johannesburg.At the gala, the international organisation will highlight its global campaign, Ending Violence against Children. The gala, Unicef said, was seen as an opportunity to “profile our mandate and values that guide our daily work, for every child, in South Africa”.In attendanceIt would be “a VIP event that will help catalyse further investments for children in need”, the organisation said. Actress Priyanka Chopra, a goodwill ambassador, will attend.South African Unicef national ambassadors, former Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss and clothing designer Gavin Rajah, will play prominent roles. Strauss will moderate the event, and Rajah will feature a fashion show.Funds raised from the live auction will go towards Unicef South Africa child protection programmes.Thanks @AskMotswako for being part of our efforts with @UNICEF_SA @UNICEF and for helping us help the children of Africa.— Jo-Ann Strauss (@jo_annstrauss) March 23, 2017Progress madeHerve Ludovic de Lys, Unicef representative in South Africa, said the Convention on the Rights of the Child was the first international treaty signed by a democratic government of South Africa. “Over 20 years later we have collectively learned how to create effective circles of care and protection for children.“The urgent matter today is twofold: to put this knowledge into use by enhancing effective child protection approaches; and to support the millions of children trapped in poverty by improving the quality of public expenditures.”Watch:Source: Unicef South AfricaWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more