In what looks like a royal rumble in wrestling, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, will bring his royalty to bear on the events of the 15th Akwaaba Travel Market at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, from September 22 to 24, 2019. The Ooni is special guest of honour to the African Tourism Diaspora conference holding at the Akwaaba. The African Tourism Diaspora conference 2019 is to mark 400 years of slavery and celebrate the merging of Africans, Americans, Caribbeans and the rest of the world during the gathering in Lagos. The Caribbean and African diaspora have a unique culture, rich heritage and beautiful destinations for tourists, hence the need to connect and combine these wonderful cultures and population, creating a huge global market.
The conference presents a platform to discuss, initiate, and celebrate a new relationship. However, the recognition of Africa as a beacon of hope for her people living on the continent and in the diaspora to explore, relate and live using the African tourism conference as the platform for the foundation of this long-lasting relationship is auspicious. Africans, wherever they exist, have the same unique culture, rich heritage and beautiful destinations for tourism and trade, therefore, there is a need to connect and combine these wonderful cultures and population as a market for mutual benefit.
The African Travel 100 Global Personalities Award will also take place during Akwaaba. Now in its 18th year, the award has recognized over the years, leaders, industry practitioners and government officials who have promoted tourism and improved travel using unique platforms and new information technology. Recently, at the launch of the Oduduwa Museum unveiled at the Brazilian Embassy in Lagos, the organisers of Akwaaba presented the Ooni of Ife with the First Africa Travel 100 Global Personalities Award.
Meanwhile, the director-general, National Council for Arts and Culture(NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, a tourism giant, will use the venue to reinforce government’s position on upholding right cultural values as Nigerians. He plans to sustain his campaign for developing tourism using cultural offerings to mirror the society and as benchmark for improved gross domestic product.
One of the countries that plans an intimidating outing is Dubai. Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, is gearing up to participate in the prestigious travel trade for the fourth consecutive year, with this year’s delegation led by Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM). Kazim will lead a strong delegation of 21 Dubai-based partners, as well as a team from Expo 2020 Dubai, to engage in a series of networking sessions with key industry players and trade media. This is the latest in a series of ongoing efforts from Dubai Tourism to strengthen its relationships with key travel partners in the region, as a reaffirmation of its interest in Nigeria and the African continent. Speaking ahead of Dubai’s participation in the event, Issam Kazim, said: “Our continued presence at the Akwaaba Travel Market is testament to our ongoing commitment to Nigeria and the African continent, and its importance to Dubai’s globally diversified market strategy. Africa has continued to be a significant growth driver, with Nigeria posting a stellar 28 per cent year-on-year visitor growth from January to July 2019. This year, we hope to further engage with new partners and strengthen our relationship with the African travel trade ecosystem to highlight Dubai’s destination proposition to travellers in Nigeria, West Africa and Africa as a whole.”
The delegation will on September 23, hold at a dedicated session with industry stakeholders, beginning with a welcome message from His Excellency, Fahad Obaid Mohamed Al Taffag, Ambassador of UAE to Nigeria, and followed by an overview of the destination by Kazim. After that, Dubai Tourism’s director of international operations, Stella Fubara-Obinwa, will give a trade update while head of campaign management for Africa, Salim Ali Mohammed Dahman, will provide insights on ongoing campaigns in Nigeria and the larger African market. The team from Expo 2020 Dubai will then discuss the hugely anticipated event taking place from October 20, 2020, until April 10, 2021, a show that is expected to welcome 25 million visitors. They will shed light on the various elements that will come together at the Expo, and what visitors can experience. Dubai-based partners confirmed to attend include: American Hospital, Avani Deira Dubai Hotel, Copthorne Hotel, Dubai Health Authority, Emaar Hospitality Group, Expo 2020, Golden Sands Hotel Apartments, Golden Treasure Tourism, JA Resorts & Hotels, Jumeirah Group, Mida Travels, Pacific Destination Tourism and others.
In West Africa, Abdoulie Hydara, Director General, Gambia Tourism Board has confirmed Nigeria as a very important market for Gambian tourism and the reason for their attendance at the akwaaba trade fair every year.
“Nigerians are known as high spenders and with the close proximity to the Gambia we have an opportunity to penetrate fully in this market. Many meetings are lined up during the period to showcase what Gambia has to offer to Nigerians tourists. Due to the importance we place on Nigeria, Gambia tourism board will appoint a Destination Manager to represent us in the promotion and marketing of ‘Destination Gambia’ in Nigeria. Gambia has lots of investment opportunities to offer to potential investors in Nigeria and the need to sell this among others in Nigeria has become imperative.”
The director of marketing of the GTB, Adama Njie equally confirmed the importance of the Nigerian market in terms of planning our all-year-round tourism strategy to create durable memories. With only four hours flights in-between, the Gambia is an ideal place for Nigerians. The facilities available in the Gambia are world class and services measure and surpass the expectation of most Nigerian travellers to our country. These range from shopping, honeymoon, conference, exhibition, meetings, unbeatable gastronomy, good and standard hotels to name a few. We hope that more businesses will come to the Gambia after our visit in Nigeria and by extension Ghana. The Gambia values a lot in subregional tourism and the reason for our attendance in Nigeria every year is to boost seamless travel in West Africa.
From East Africa, Uganda Tourism Board in collaboration with Ugandan Tour Operators will present the country’s top tourist attractions to Nigerian travel trade consumers at the Akwaaba. Uganda with a rich pristine nature, cultural and historical African religious heritage has lined up tourism experts from the tourism board and tour operators to market and promote its tourists potential to the West Africa market at the “Uganda Day” on September 22 at 2:00pm and at the 3-day expo.
“Uganda is the land of martyrs in Africa; this religious story is summarized in the Uganda Martyrs Trail. The trail, is an extraordinary journey of faith that literally gets in the footsteps of the first Christian missionaries and converts as they walked through Uganda preaching, teaching, healing and transforming lives and finally to the places of their martyrdom.” Its abundant wildlife includes the “BIG 5 “as well as a home to 1,072 bird species including some of the world’s rarest birds. There is the world’s heritage site of Bwindi National Park, a renowned mountain gorilla tracking life-changing experience. The white sands of Ssese Island, one of Uganda’s greatest and uncrowned beaches known for its tranquility and never-ending honey moon experience located in the portion of Lake Victoria. Finally, Kampala the Capital city of Uganda is a city that never sleeps and has earned the title of ‘Entertainment capital’ in East Africa. Fantastic wildlife and some of the friendliest people in Africa make Uganda unbeatable.”
Akwaaba, serves to bring travellers, airlines, hotels, restaurants, tour operators, travel agents, state tourism boards, foreign trade and other tourism sectors together for networking, promotional and business purposes. Now in its 15th year, the Akwaaba events have been successful and have attracted exhibitors from over 25 countries and numerous attendees from around the globe.