THE elasticity of Akwaaba African Travel Market for orchestrating practical promotion of tourism destinations and the travel industry not only in Nigeria, but in Africa, and to serve as a viable marketing platform in the region, is limitless.
Stakeholders in the African traveland tourism sector, gathered for the 2016 edition of the reputable travel market event at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island Lagos, Nigeria for the three-day event, which started today, Sunday, 30 October, to brainstorm on ways to promote and improve the travel tourism sector in West African at the annual Akwaaba African Travel Market which will end on Tuesday, November 1. No fewer than 16 countries exhibited at this year’s edition of the event.
Declaring the exhibition open the Deputy Minister, Zimbabwe Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Annastacid Ndlouv, described Akwaaba as a good avenue for people in the tourism industry room to interact with hoteliers, travel and transport industry operators and to share their individual experiences.
In attendance for the first day of the event were: NANTA President, Mr Bernard Bankole; Former Senator, former Tourism Commissioner, Tokunbo Afikuyomi; the UAE representative, Manager Dubai Tourism, Mr Talal Alsuwaidi; Rwanda High Commissioner to Nigeria Ambassador Stanislas Kamanzi, among other personalities in the industry, globally.
The opening ceremony of the 12th edition of the event has 16 counties represented and shares its similarities and recognition with World Travel Market (WTM) in London, ITB, Berlin in Germany as the Africa version was lighted with so much glamour and ovation by influx of foreign representation and participation.
UAE lead the participation with 10 and the highest number of companies in attendance and some other West African countries like Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Benin Republic among the countries and host of other companies that came to exhibit.
Meanwhile, Nigeria government was not present at the first day of the event.
The organiser, Mr Ikechi Uko, reacting to the absence and representation of the Nigerian government as the host country and its readiness in tapping into vast opportunities in the travel and tourism business said, “I was told by a hotel manager that government is not yet serious about tourism. You could see how many government that are here and the Nigeria government is not here, so that tells you.
“This is the biggest travel exhibition in West Africa and the only one that people pays to enter and government of Nigeria is not, that tells you what they think of tourism.”
However, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi said the government of the day has tried to boost the tourism and travel industries in the country by tackling insecurity.
He said, “the various initiative of the government to improve more, and the introduction of destination visa with ease of doing business and the rest are good propellant to the development of the tourism and travel industries in Nigeria.
“I think they have just started the biggest contribution they can make to tourism and which they are already doing is in the area of security. When you secure the country now people are going feel free to travel more and to enjoy tourism more. Without security, tourism promotion is a bloody waste of time.”
The event which has already commanded top artist like Face of the famous default Plantation boys, and Ire on the first day, promises more fascinating programmes as the event go bye.