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Travel and Tourism

FITUR 2018 to host conferences on tourism innovation

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As the tourism world gear up for the first international tourism exhibition of the year, FITUR 2018, in Madrid, Spain, the organisers of the yearly gathering, which attracts hundreds of countries and thousands of tourism operators, including the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which operates from Madrid, has announced among its line up hosting of conferences on tourism innovation. The conferences on tourism innovation, entitled ‘Tourism Intelligences,’ will be organised by the Asociación Española de Expertos Científicos en Turismo, (AECIT – Spanish Association of Science Experts in Tourism). It will hold on the second day, January 18 of the international tourism expo, which opens on January 17, spanning January 21.

This conference, which will be chaired by Juan Miguel Moreno, an expert in tourism innovation, CEO of More Turismo Internacional and AECIT board member, will serve to analyse the importance of smart management applied to tourism. Specific cases from different countries and organisations will be studied, and four leading professionals in the field will analyse, among other topics, the influence of smart tourism in countries’ competitiveness, the role of technology companies in the future of tourism, the structure given to smart tourism by supranational organisations or the future of the tourism sector and the role of innovation in all of it.

Some of the slated speakers include: Fabián González, co-founder of The Digital Band S.L and a professional in the tourism sector, who will be presenting ‘Smart business for the tourism sector’; Albert Isern, CEO of Bismart, will speak on “Application of Big Data to smart tourist destinations” ; Jimmy Pons, the Innovation Maker of Blue Bay Hotels and Executive Mindfulness Teacher in EOI, will analyse a common doubt among professionals of the sector: will humans be replaced by robots and AI in the tourism sector?; and José Luis Gago Llover, from Prevengal Safety S.L. Gago is an expert in drones and has extensive experience in the labour field.

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Travel and Tourism

Tinapa Lakeside Hotel boost for Niger Delta Tourism Expo

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As preparations for Niger Delta Tourism Expo, which is scheduled to hold for the first time in Calabar, Cross River State, gather momentum, Tinapa Lakeside Hotel, the choice venue for the maiden event, has offered to partner with the organisers of the event.

This is coming on the heels of recent support for the tourism event, which would see the nine states in the South – South region gather to promote and market the tourism business of the region, by the Cross State government, through the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which pledged full endorsement for the travel and tourism trade expo.

At a meeting with the local organising committee of the event, the General Manager of Tinapa Lakeside Hotel, Mrs. Justina Ovat, declared that as a measure of its support, the management of the hotel is offering 50% discount on its facilities, including rooms to participants and exhibitors.

She conducted the team on a tour of the facilities, which included the proposed venue, exhibition spaces, halls and board rooms for breakout sessions. State tourism boards, agencies, different stakeholders and experts, tourism operations, designated speakers and panelists as well as the media and the public from across the states of the South – South region of the country, are expected to converge on Tinapa, Calabar to chart a new course for the improvement of the economy of Niger Delta states beyond the oil and gas.

Billed to hold between 11 and 13 July, the theme is: ‘Niger – Delta Beyond Oil: Tourism, A Tool for Sustainable Development.’ Different sub topics on issues ranging from hospitality, the role of the media, the government, security agencies, and financial and traditional institutions among others would occupy the seminar sections of the event.

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Travel and Tourism

Kenya Tourism Board organises training workshop for travel agents

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Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has concluded plans to organise a series of skills training workshops for travel agents and other travel operators in Nigeria, with the aim of equipping them with new skills and marketing tools to enable them perfect the act of selling the country’s tourism offerings.

‘‘The Workshop is aimed at helping you increase efficiency and revenue by selling Kenyan holidays,’’ declared the authorities of KTB.

The first in the series of workshops is expected to hold between June 4 and 5 in Abuja while the second session would hold in Lagos between June 7 and 8. The last in the series is billed for Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, spanning June 11 and 12.

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Travel and Tourism

AMAKA AMATOKWU-NDEKWU: Pyne Awards is to celebrate unsung faces in tourism business

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Mrs. Amaka Amatokwu-Ndekwu is the founder and president of The Women in Hospitality Nigeria, a thoroughbred hospitality professional, she speaks to ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA on her trajectory and her pet project, The Pyne Project/Awards, which maiden awards event holds next month in Lagos

 

Background

Mrs. Amaka Amatokwu – Ndekwu, hails from Delta State but her world presently straddles between Nigeria and United States of America. She is widely read, with an accelerated management programme certificate focused in Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services from Lagos Business School.

She also studied Management at the European School of Economics, London, United Kingdom and Accountancy at Madonna University, Okija, Anambra State as well as obtained a certification from ESSEC Business School on The Fundamentals of Hotel Distribution, among others. Although quite youthful, full of life and energy, with the world of hospitality under her feet, she has within over a decade of stepping her foot into the hospitality world qualified to be described as a thoroughbred hospitality professional as she has a deep seated passion and commitment towards the sector. She aptly described herself in this manner:

‘‘I am an experienced hospitality professional with a demonstrated history of tenacity, strong drive, passion and leadership. Experienced in hotel start- ups, customer service, operations, food and beverage, front office, event and market planning, hospitality management and career counselling.’’

Her track records include serving as a general manager in indigenously owned hotel brands and as an assistant general manager in international hotel brands in Nigeria. Young Amatokwu – Ndekwu is currently the founder and president of The Women in Hospitality Nigeria, an organisation she says has ‘‘a vision to change and improve the status of women in the industry.’’

As part of the mission of this organisation, she has created a project known as The Pyne Project/Awards, which according to her: ‘‘Celebrates growth, hard work and success of all stakeholders in the hospitality and tourism industry.’’ She and her team would be debuting with an award event on Friday June 29 slated for Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

She is also into mentorship programmes and seeks to inspire young industry professionals through career counselling under Rehoboth Recruiters, a leading hospitality recruitment firm based in both Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She once earned nomination as ‘hospitality personality of the year.’

This young and pretty hospitality professional, who is just coming into her own, certainly has the future to content with and a force to be reckoned with in hospitality, as her sight is set on conquering the global hospitality industry and not just Nigeria or Africa, which today serve as her oasis.

Growing up

She speaks of her interesting upbringing, paying glowing tributes to her lovely and devoted mother, who in her words made the greatest sacrifice ever, including sacrificing her personal freedom and ambition to ensure that her sibling and herself got the best of this world: ‘‘My upbringing shaped me to become the strong and determined woman I am today. We had a simple, firm and happy home.

I was nurtured by a strong, passionate and determined mother. I watched the way she would react to situations; the way she would fix problems and the way she would care about others. ‘‘She always explained to us the benefits of succeeding in everything you do.

She was very close to my sister and I; that kept us together and open to each other. I watched the way she would strategise, plan and execute even if it had to be a long-term goal. It gave me some form of excitement when I saw it all come together. ‘‘I grew up knowing that she stuck to her good morals and values and those motivated me to do same and even better. She shielded us a lot but never hesitated in carrying us along with decisions she had to make for the family.

So, I would say growing up with an amazing mum shaped me.’’ Added to the growing influence of her mother whom one could rightly described as the fabled ‘Mother hen,’ are such elements as ‘‘family, religious belief and morals, hard-work (failing wasn’t an option),’’ which she discloses influenced and shaped the young professional and caring woman that she has become today.

It is not surprising, therefore, to note that her life’s philosophy is: “Don’t wait for the right moment to start, start and make each mom e n t right,” a d d – ing that ‘ ‘ t h i s philosophy has encouraged me to start and finish whatever journey I embark on.’’

Career path

She has no doubt had an eventful and fulfilling career while in Nigeria, stretching to about a decade, with the high point being perhaps her stint as the general manager of a 94 room boutique hotel, The Sojourner, Lagos, owned by Genesis.

But just when she thought her dreamed career was already falling into place and savouring all the elements that came with it that her emotional needs got the better of her, as she was swept off her feet, in her words, ‘‘by an amazing man who gave me a good reason to move and start afresh.’’

She got married to her ‘Alpha man’ and relocated to the United States of America last year with him, where she lives presently and shuttles to Nigeria and other parts of the world in pursuit of her career dream.

‘‘I’m trying to fit into my new environment and new system. I am taking some time off working for other people to start my own long- term initiatives (Women in Hospitality Nigeria and The Pyne Awards). I am also currently working on some certifications in Hospitality Management,’’ she reveals with some level of happiness.

Motivation for The Pyne award

‘‘Operating in the hospitality and tourism industry for nine years, I saw how under appreciated the major stakeholders were. I saw how underrated the industry seen to be in Nigeria.

I always felt the people behind that good service needed motivation or like they say now an accolade for doing a good job. ‘‘In my own perception tips were not enough, they needed to be praised and motivated publicly.

Now brands and owners may be celebrated all the time but what about the general managers, or the chefs, the housekeeping staff, the sales managers, the travel agents, or the tour operator, and the others?

‘‘Who is celebrating them?’’

Based on this development, Amatokwu – Ndekwu harped on the desirability of celebrating the faces behind the ‘mask’ of hospitality business, hence the creation of The Pyne Awards, which she says would be a yearly event to celebrate success, hard-work, growth and excellence of all hospitality and tourism stakeholders operating in Nigeria.

‘‘The Industry Stars awardees will become Ambassadors of The Pyne Awards/ Project, they will be involved in our mentorship programmes for the year 2018- 2019,’’ she says of those to be honoured at the maiden session of the awards.

It may appear that she is walking a lonely path, however, she discloses that she is encouraged by the positive reactions from many of the industry people who have signed on to the project and seen it as a welcome and salutatory event. She realises the tendency for many to dismiss the award event as one too many in the industry, however, she says hers is very distinguished:

‘‘There is a big difference between this award and the others. The awards are not bought by anyone, it’s strictly merited and the exciting part is that it involves the employees.

‘‘The awards give every major stakeholder in the industry a chance to be celebrated and motivated. Imagine working for 15 years in an industry and not receiving any recognition either publicly 0r in private.’’ Adding: “Biko (Please) everyone deserves an accolade.”

The challenge

Putting together an event of this magnitude, especially when you don’t have any financial backing from neither the government nor the money bags except from the industry people who believe in your dream, could be very challenging, she admits, as she exclaims thus: ‘‘Wow, organising this award made me more aware of how underrated our industry is.

I tried seeking support from major companies from other industries and I got turned down but wasn’t discouraged. We need to change this perception, it hurts me badly. ‘‘I remember one of them telling me they had no provision for the hospitality industry. Meanwhile, 90% of their earnings come through the hospitality industry.’’

Sense of fulfillment

Despite these challenges and even the past frustrations that had dogged her heels, Amatokwu – Ndekwu, certainly is a fulfilled young professional, as she enthuses:

‘‘I am so fulfilled, I have an amazing family and friends, I’m proud of the woman I have become. ‘‘Yes, I definitely want more but I’m happy and grateful for the graces and opportunities. I’m a quiet bulldozer, so watch out for me.’’

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