World Travel Market, WTM, staged annually in London is a vibrant must-attend B2B travel event. As the leading global travel trade show, the 2019 edition, on November 5 and 6 at ExCeL London, United Kingdom, attracted participants, ranging from tourists, travel writers, government officials and tour operators from across Africa. The highlight was the West Africa Festival on Wednesday, November 6, at 4:30-6 pm at the West Africa pavilion.Ola Wright, CEO, West Africa Tourism Organisation, had a brief chat with TIMEOUT:
West Africa Tourism organization
We are an NGO and the umbrella body for tourism in West Africa. Our organisation is a partner of WTM. We coordinated all participating countries, destinations and exhibitors.
I have visited every destination I eagerly wanted to visit. Hawaii was one of my dream destinations many years ago. Then it became like my next-door place. There were a few other destinations I wanted to visits and I had visited them
My favourite? West Africa has so much to offer. For example, I will liken Hawaii to Sao Tome and Principe, an island and second smallest of the African nations.
There is always a culture shock, even Nigeria is a culture shock to my system. When you are in tourism, you see a lot of different cultures, you learn to understand and to respect other people’s culture.
I remember one time I worked very closely with Israelis and I met a Rabbi, an orthodox Jew; we had been talking and he finally came to my office and lo, I stretched my hand to shake him but he didn’t take it; I stretched my hand a second time and he still refused to shake me. Then it dawned on me: “Oh, you a female, and you are trying to shake hand with an orthodox Jew!” That doesn’t happen. I had forgotten that I wasn’t in Nigeria or relating to a European who has no rule or tradition against shaking hand with a woman. The point is, you learn other people’s culture. Culture is a colourful thing. It has to be learned.
Even in Nigeria, we have lots of different cultures, which I am still learning, trying to understand, apart from the Yoruba culture––even, there are still parts of the Yoruba culture that I am not necessarily used to.
Necessary travel items
Apart from my toiletries, my chilli sauce. I love chilli. When you travel to a lot of countries, they don’t necessarily have chilli sauce or the kind of chilli sauce you would want. They may probably have Tabasco that doesn’t taste hot. So I like to travel with my chilli sauce.