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Single African air market will reduce airfares for customers –Wakanow

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As the newly introduced Single Africa Transport Market by the African Union (AU) gains ground, Wakanow has thrown its weight behind the project, describing it as a commendable initiative that would reduce the customer of airfares and offer other benefits to the market.

The agenda 2063 project of AU, seeks among others to: Create a consolidated air transport market in Africa, increased access to global supply chains and liberalise civil aviation as a driver of Africa’s economic integration agenda. Speaking in this initiative, the Managing Director of Wakanow, Mr. Obinna Ekezie, said the project will further complement Wakanow’s drive to make airfares considerably affordable for Africans and open a new vista of opportunities for African economies.

This is coming in the heels of the recent adoption of a daily direct remittance and pre-paid card payment settlement model by Wakanow, which it believes will significantly reduce the cost of travel for customers. While commending the leadership of the African Union for the initiative, Ekezie noted that a single unified air transport market would inspire sustainable development of the air transport sector in Africa, foster job creation and revolutionise intra-African travel.

“Globally, air transport has remained a catalyst for growth, contributing more than half (55%) of international tourist arrivals in 2016. We believe this initiative by the African Union will accelerate the development of the aviation sector in the continent, and we are committed to supporting airlines to de-risk the remittance process and reduce airfares for our customers,” he stated. Already, a joint study by IATA and AFCAC has shown that when implemented in 12 major African countries, enhanced connectivity can generate additional 300,000 direct jobs, two million indirect jobs and US$1.3 billion in annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Following the double-digit decline of 26.3% in passengers’ traffic recorded in 2017, reduced airfares will grow the Nigerian travel market and empower about five million more passengers to afford air travel. As demonstrated in global markets where air transport liberalisation has taken firm roots, the Single Africa Air Transport Market is forecast to stimulate turnaround time, improve frequency of travel and new routes and lower fares for the customer.

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Runsewe lauds tourism writers, pledges to move WCC headquarters to Abuja

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Runsewe lauds tourism writers, pledges to move WCC headquarters to Abuja

The Director General of the National Council for Art and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe, has disclosed plans to move the headquarters of the World Crafts Council (WCC) to Abuja.

This is also as he praised travel and tourism writers in the country for driving discourse and ‘constantly pushing agenda and operators to improving the tourism sector of the national economy.’

Runsewe made these remarks while receiving members of the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET) who paid a courtesy visit to him in Abuja to felicitate with him on his appointment as President of the World Craft Council (African Region). According to Runsewe, the tourism writers have formed the backbone of his many accomplishments in the service, noting that they were also the first professional body to formally congratulate him on his WCC African Region appointment, ‘outside of a couple of government agencies.’

Runsewe, who described his appointment as a plus for Nigerian crafts industry as well as its practitioners, added: “This is a big platform for showcasing art and craft. It is big business representing a veritable platform for showcasing Nigeria and its arts and craft industry to the world.” Continuing, the NCAC boss said: “I am moving the headquarters of the WCC to Abuja.

That is one of the tasks I have at hand for now. I have concluded arrangements to that effect and have been given the go-ahead to commence the groundwork and when we are through, you shall be the first to know.

‘‘Let me say that with my appointment as the chief executive of the WCC Africa Region, I have come to turn around the fortunes of Nigerian artists and craftsmen who were also not previously reckoned with but now by virtue of my position at the WCC, the time for Nigerian crafts industry to shine has come.’’ He further disclosed that: “I am incubating a great project and vision for arts and craft for Nigerians which will yield even greater returns for them.

My being at the WCC is for a purpose, and with time the world will see it. I am also going to change the narrative for the industry in Nigeria and Africa, as a whole. “Gone are the days of mere showcasing of art and crafts for the sake of it. It’s all about the presentation and packaging. It is how the Nigerian artist and craftsman package his works that he will be defined by.

‘‘So we are going to address that, which is why I said the days of showcasing are gone. Art and crafts means money. I have seen other countries package what ordinarily is worthless, but end up branding it as rare and exotic works just to rake in the money. With me at the WCC in Africa, now is the time for our artists and craftsmen to also acquire that exposure,” he said.

Ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the NCAC boss said his agency has come up with entirely locally-produced souvenirs for fans of the Super Eagles which, according to him, the supporters’ club has commended. “Since the FIFA has barred us from using our drums and trumpets which we are known for, we at NCAC have come up with an ingenious idea of locally defining our support instruments for cheering the football team in Russia.

The Supporters’ Club people were here to see and they quite like it. “I am also presenting to you here some literature produced by the NCAC and personally handed to the various delegates who attended the 61st United Nations World Tourism Organisation/ Commission for Africa (CAF) Meeting in Abuja. The literature contains information about Nigeria, Nigerian cultural festivals and calendar, pins, and many others, all produced by us,” Runsewe said.

Earlier, in the congratulatory letter presented to Runsewe by the Chairman of ANJET, Mr. Andrew Okungbowa, the group noted that the appointment coming barely a year of his coming into office as DG NCAC, only goes to confirm that ‘you are indeed a man that is widely known and recognised by many for your vision and resounding commitment to the development and promotion of humanity and that you hold an uncanny belief in the furtherance of the frontiers of not only Nigerian but African arts and culture.’ They, therefore, expressed the ‘hope and desire’ that Runsewe ‘will fly high the flag of Nigeria and that of NCAC in carrying out the dictates of your new office.’

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Nigeria tourism shows strength at UNWTO/CAF Meeting 2018

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Nigeria tourism shows strength at UNWTO/CAF Meeting 2018

ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA who was in attendance at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)/ Commission for Africa (CAF) Meeting held in Abuja last week, reports on the epoch making event

 

This was not the first time that Nigeria would play host to the yearly United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Commission for Africa (CAF) Meeting otherwise known as UNWTO/CAF Meeting or other highly rated events under the auspices of the UNWTO, which is the global body responsible for tourism development and promotion.

But the recent event held at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja between June 4 and 6 under the umbrella of the Ministry of Information and Culture, which is in charge of the country’s tourism sector, had a different colouration to it as it was greatly hyped and promoted across the country by the minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. Right from the onset, Mohammed made it clear that hosting the event was very important for the nation and its tourism sector because of the numerous benefits that the nation stands to gain from the event, which it last hosted in 2012 during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Besides, the minister declared that the three days event would more than anything else help Nigeria to showcase its tourism industry and its attendant potential to the world and thereby attract tourists and investors to the country as the event was tailored towards exposing the country to the people of Africa and the entire world.

To this end, no effort was spared by the minister in preparation for the event as he embarked on a nationwide tour to promote the event and source for sponsorship and partners from among the corporate bodies and even state governments and their agencies as well as the media, with the Association of Nigerian Journalists and Writers of Tourism (ANJET) canvassed for support in promoting the event.

Besides getting ANJET and the Nigeria media on board, Mohammed’s solicitation to corporate Nigeria did yielded the expected result with the likes of Dangote Group, First Bank of Nigeria, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Heritage Bank, Eko Atlantic City, Bolanle Austen – Peters Production and Sahara Energy. Also, some state governments gave a helping hand, this include: Lagos, Edo, Ebonyi, Kano and Ogun.

The meeting was the 61st annual session of the Commission for Africa, which is dedicated to Africa’s affairs. The body is presently chaired by Kenya Minister of Tourism, Najib Balala, with Elicia Grandcourt serving as the regional director and it has 51 member states.

The event may have come and gone but not so with the echoes, colours and talking points generated by it. These would last for a long time especially the entertainment packages that were put on display for the three days. Also the culinary treats were some of the basic tourism elements of the country that were on display.

It was simply a master showpiece, in terms of it entertainment features bordering on Nigeria’s cultural tourism that was served delegates by the minister and his team. Whatever may have been the short comings of the meeting, in terms of its organistaion, though quite few, were in the estimation of many of the delegates and observers, dwarfed by the well – packed night cultural entertainment that was put together for the three days.

The event lived up to its billings as the minister and his team gave a good account of themselves. They were highly commended for burnishing Nigeria’s image and putting the country’s tourism on the global tourism map.

For those that may have harboured doubt about Nigeria and its ability to host a world event and the true nature of Nigeria tourism, they left with a different impression about the country and openly testified that that they had a good time in the country as they were exposed to the abundant and unique wealth of the country.

With the visa on arrival policy in place, many of the visitors testified that the policy worked as they had easy access and were courteously treated by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) officials and other agencies at the airport.

At least for the first time in a long while visitors to the conference testified of being treated right, which is good for the country’s image and tourism as well as a plus for the minister who worked assiduously to make this happened. In terms of attendance, about 166 delegates from 36 member states and 24 tourism ministers were recorded.

The chairman of the commission, Balala was also in attendance with his team alongside the UNWTO Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili and his team, who was attending his first CAF meeting since assuming office in January. It was also his first time of visiting Africa, with Nigeria as his first port of contact with the continent. The theme for the meeting was: Tourism statistics as catalyst for tourism development.

For CAF this was quite instructive and timely given that the contribution of tourism to African countries’ economy and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) have been poorly captured over the years as reflected in the UNWTO Barometre for Tourism yearly report of global tourism performance. In the case of Nigeria, it was a welcomed development because the nation and its tourism authorities have not succeeded in accurately measuring the contribution of tourism to the country’s economy hence the less attention paid to it by the government and even the public sector.

On this ground, all the technical sessions and seminars, including panel discussion held during the meeting, were devoted to improving the statistical measurement of tourism contributions to member states.

Addressing a press conference a day to the opening ceremony of the event, which held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Nigeria Minister of Tourism, Mohammed, underscored the importance of the theme when he said that it sits well with the aspiration of the continent as it seeks to improve on the data gathering of member states, thereby aiding proper development of tourism.

Commendation for Nigeria

Pololikashvili in his remark on the day expressed the feelings of many of the delegates when he commended Mohammed for the great organisation, as he said that the event was well organised and to many, it was therefore, not surprising that at the end of its all, he scored the country high when he declared that it was the best UNWTO/CAF Meeting to have been held, as he described the organisation as ‘fantastic.’

Pololikashvili expressed satisfaction over the way the meeting went, describing it as: ‘‘Impressive meeting and interesting visit for me and not only me but for the participants and visitors. You really showed us the best of Nigeria.’’

He further added that: ‘‘This is my first time of attending CAF, which is very important for Africa.’’ He also scored the quality of discussions he held with the ministers as very high, disclosing that they discussed on the modalities of working together and that they all showed commitment to tourism development and promotion.

UNWTO scribe offers to assist Nigeria tourism

On Nigeria tourism, the UNWTO scribe expressed desired and willingness to help the country to build on its tourist receipts as he said that recording a paltry 1.9million tourists is not good for Nigeria, insisting that this is just the beginning as ‘‘we will see how we can support Nigeria to be the most important place to visit and enjoy the culture and hospitality.’’

Pololikashvili, who had a private session with President Muhammadu Buhari, expressed excitement over his meeting with him, disclosing that the president is quite interested in tourism and that ‘‘he (Buhari) encouraged us (UNWTO) to support Nigeria tourism,’’ to this end, he promised that UNWTO would think of how to create something for Nigeria that would bring about development and promotion of its tourism. According to him: ‘‘The minister and the ministry have a clear vision on how to develop tourism and initiate concrete programmes.’’ He pleaded with the media for help, as he said that:

‘‘We need your help to promote Nigeria and Africa.’’ Having seen and tasted of the vast wealth of the country, Pololikashvili, declared that: ‘‘Nigeria is a good showcase for others,’’ adding that: ‘‘This is not my last visit, I will come back.’’

A great opportunity to test our readiness for tourism – Mohammed

Nigeria’s Minister of Tourism, Mohammed, was elated and excited about successfully pulling off the three days meeting. For him, the meeting, among others afforded the country the opportunity to test the ground and show how prepared it is for tourism.

One of the refrains that pervaded his speeches all through the meeting was how safe and secured Nigeria is, insisting that the country is safe for both tourists and investors.

According to him, ‘‘the meeting provided excellent opportunity to discuss ways of promoting inter – Africa travel and a platform to establish stronger linkages and collaborations among the member states,’’ even as he impressed on the delegates the various steps taken so far by the federal government to develop and promote tourism in the country, with special focus on areas of infrastructure and legislations, as he made reference to the visa on arrival policy of the government. ‘‘Everything that we have been doing is to ensure that all the ingredients needed for tourism to thrive are being put in place.

This has encouraged and embolden us that we are on the right path,’’ even as he declared that the challenges being faced by the country are not peculiar to it. He expressed confidence in the ability of Nigeria to overcome these challenges with the support of UNWTO: ‘‘Together with the support of UNWTO we will overcome these challenges and make Nigeria a choice destination.’’

Going forward, he disclosed that Nigeria needs to build on its creative industry as that is her strength, stressing that the ministry is working on creating a specific brand for the country through engagement with the creative industry.

Mohammed then gleefully declared that: ‘‘We are quite satisfied with the way the meeting has gone, this include quality attendance, discussions and superlative social events and passion showed, especially the commitment of the UNWTO secretary general, who has attended all the events. ‘‘We are very proud of the hosting of the UNWTO/CAF Meeting and proud of the role played by the UNWTO. We are also happy with the attendance, the role played by the ministers and outcome of the overall event.’’

Delegates wowed by Nigeria’s cultural tourism offerings

The social aspect of the three days event gave Nigeria the much needed platform to expose the rich and colourful nature of its cultural and entertainment products to the admiration of the delegates who were delighted by the various performances. Mohammed reiterated this fact on the eve of the opening ceremony when he said that: ‘‘We are ready to expose our guests to the rich taste, sights and sounds of Nigeria.

They would be treated to world class and spectacular cultural shows lined up,’’ adding that ‘‘Eko Atlantic City visit would blow the minds of our visitors and the world.’’ Truly, Mohammed never disappointed on this score, as what appeared to have been some of the best representatives of Nigeria’s cultural pieces were put on display and they were masterly and professionally rendered to the satisfaction of the delegates who did not hide their admiration and amazement at the various presentations, which included: Drum ensemble performances from from Benue, Ogun and Ebonyi as well as Seki Dance Drama from Rivers State, which was embellished with storytelling and colourful lightening techniques to achieve great dramatic effect.

Then of course, were the various presentations by Bolanle Austen – Peters Production, with such acts as Fela and the Kalakuta Queens, sights and sounds of Nigeria and adaptation of Saro the Musical, all holding the audience spellbound. While the sights and sounds of Lagos and Ogun states also made the bill. A wide selection of Nigerian local delicacies made the rounds during the cocktail, lunch and dinner hours.

Technical visit to Eko Atlantic City

A befitting end to the three days meeting was the technical visit to Lagos State where the delegates alongside UNWTO scribe and his team where hosted by Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode at the State House Alausa. Thereafter the team headed for Eko Atlantic City for the technical visit.

The delegates were hosted by the management of South Energy, developer of Eko Atlantic City, at their office where introductory documentary on the project was screened for their benefit before the tour. According to the company, Eko Atlantic City is the 21st century city designed and built on reclaimed land to the highest standard and quality. The city sits on 10, 000, 000 square metres of prime real estate and is providing essential space for residents and businesses alike to live, work and invest.

The city has been designed to accommodate approximately 300, 000 residents and 150, 000 daily commuters. Eko Atlantic is poised to be the new financial capital of Africa and will change the shape of Lagos and Nigeria. The delegates at the end of the tour expressed satisfaction with the wonder of the century that they were treated. They were pleased that the country is taking the lead in shaping the destiny of Africa not just in oil and gas but in tourism and hopefully, the financial world with this new project that is expected to be fully delivered in the coming years. The visit ended with a sumptuous lunch for the delegates at Eko Hotel and Suites. At the end of the delightful lunch the delegates were flown back to Abuja to spend the night and thus signal the end to the 61st session of UNWTO/CAF Meeting.

Commitment to adopt correct tourism measurement for improved policy

At the end of the meeting, participants underscored how tourism projects can contribute to poverty alleviation, the importance of finding innovative approaches to developing tourism in the region, and the need to find and foster new partnerships and resources to develop the sector. Against the backdrop of the growth of international tourism in Africa, tourism’s overall economic impact needs to be measured accurately in order for tourism strategies to effectively contribute to national economies. The ministerial dialogue addressed the significance of collecting and compiling quantitative and qualitative data, as well as the importance of commitments from national stakeholders and institutional partnerships for a rigorous tourism statistics system. Also emphasised was the need for establishing a Statistical Framework for the Measurement of Sustainable Tourism (MST). This Framework includes environmental, social and cultural tourism components geared towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Endnote: A call for synergy between Ministry and NTDC

Although many observers said that Nigeria has done well by delivering on the promises of the meeting, but the question on every lip is what next? Would Nigeria been able to capitalise on the gains from the meeting to develop and promote its tourism or as it has become the norm go to bed and allow those gains to slip away unnoticed? To ensure that this is not so, a call has gone to the minister and even the private sector that was fully represented by the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) and others, to get to work by setting up a machinery that would help galvanise the various interest towards the actualisation of the gains of the meeting, especially with regard to domestic tourism and tourism data that were highlighted during the meeting.

But for this to be achieved, many observed that the apparent disconnect between the ministry and the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) needs to be urgently addressed. Whereas all of the countries in attendance during the meeting had the full compliments of their national tourism board especially in the case where the ministers were not in attendance but that could not be said of NTDC as the DG and his management team were not involved in the meeting except to put up appearance and disappeared when it pleases them.

This lack of synergy and coordination between the ministry and NTDC is worrisome to many of the observers as they noted that except the ministry and NTDC close ranks not much can be achieved.

In the light of this, the minister and his team would continue to stretch themselves thin while NTDC looks in the other direction and pretends to be fully engaged while the industry suffers for this lack of cooperation and pulling of ideas and resources together.

NTDC must realise that the ministry’s job essentially is to offer policy guidelines and direction for the industry while it duty is to ensure the execution of those policies and programmes but what we have witnessed so far is antithetical to the positive development and promotion of tourism where the minister and his team seem to be everywhere, making all the linkages and connections especially with the UNWTO and other global bodies and NTDC is never seen to be involved just as in the case of the just concluded UNWTO/CAF where the imprint and presence of NTDC was lacking from preparation to the final execution.

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Hilton Garden Inn Nairobi offers rich break

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Hilton Garden Inn Nairobi offers rich break

Hilton international brand, which recently debuted in Nairobi, Kenya, Hilton Garden Inn, has since its opening making waves with its sophisticated and elegantly apportioned facilities and excellent service culture delivery standing it out as the place to visit for the best of hospitality offerings, for which the brand is noted globally.

Located on Mombassa Road, adjacent Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), the hotel is said to truly redefine the taste of hospitality services in the East African city that is noted for its bustling nature, with rich commercial activities round the clock.

It is also noted for its attractive pull for both business and leisure travellers with the locals not left out of the mix. According to the hotel management, the hotel, which is easily accessible from the different angles of the city, judging by the fact that is not just only within the airport precinct but also about 15 kilometres downtown and Kenya International Convention Centre, ‘‘is a place to savour a high level of hospitality services from the committed team from the first ‘hello’ on guests arrival to the cheery ‘goodbye’ on departure after blissful stay at a great value will always reflects good memories with desires to return to the hotel for another exciting experience.’’

Among the plush and fascinating facilities of the hotel are its 175 rooms comprising 114 King rooms, 56 Twin and five Deluxe Suites; all tastefully furnished and fitted with some of the best hospitality gadgets for the pleasure of guests.

The bell-decorated rooms, which provide a relaxing getaway for guests of the hotel feature cosy air-conditioners, easy connection with the complimentary Wi-Fi, a well-lit work area, mini-refrigerator and flat-screen 40- inch HDTV with free view channels as well as ergonomic chair and mini-refrigerator, iron & Ironing board, laptop safe and tea/coffee making facilities. Other features are: High speed complimentary Wi-Fi, complimentary 24 hours state-of-the-art fitness centre for stress bustling workouts and infinity rooftop with heated swimming pool, Garden Grille Restaurant, which is a full service restaurant, offers cookedt o – o r d e r breakfast, lunch and dinner.

There is also a full bar to unwind at the end of a busy day, a comfort zone for Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions (MICE) is available with at least six meetings rooms, all exuding natural daylight while the conference room can host up to 220 delegates in theatre setting, with 24 hours business centre providing complimentary printing and Wi-Fi services.

For tourists to Nairobi, Hilton Garden Inn, is the right choice with easy access to major tourist attractions like Nairobi National Park, David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe Centre, Karen Blixen Museum (Out of Africa) and National Museum of Kenya.

All guests have the opportunity of benefitting from the ‘Hilton Honours,’ the guest-loyalty programme for Hilton’s 14 world class brands comprising nearly 5,000 properties with more than 812,000 rooms in 103 countries and territories. Hilton Garden Inn Nairobi is a place for travellers who deserve a satisfying hospitality experience peculiar with global Hilton brands in more than 720 locations in 33 countries and territories.

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