Friday, October 22, 2010

Hurray! AKWAABA 2010 opens today

Meet Sir Dawda Jawara, Danny Jordaan, World Bank, foreign ministers, others at Eko Hotel
With the successful completion of preparations, including completion of the construction of stands yesterday; Friday, 22 October, all is now set for the opening of this year’s Akwaaba African Travel Market (AfTM) fair at Eko Hotel Expo Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos today, Saturday, 23 October. Akwaaba is organised by ATQ (Africa Travel Quarterly) Magazine in partnership with Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).
The Director General of NTDC, Nigeria’s apex tourism body; Otunba Olusegun Runsewe OON, will serve as Chief Host; and, a former president of the Gambia, Sir Dawda Jawara; CEO of FIFA World Cup 2010, Dr Danny Jordaan and Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Prof Zahi Hawass as well as three ministers from Ghana and the Gambia are among other very important personalities, whose attendance of this year’s edition of Akwaaba African Travel Market; has been confirmed.
Although Akwaaba African Travel Market 2010 is billed to run till 25 October, only exhibitors, invited guests and the organizers will, however, be admitted to the 23 October events’ venue, while the fair will be open to the general public on both 24 and 25 October.
Programmes’ guide
The 2010 AfTM is the sixth edition of the ever-growing annual event, which will feature intermittent performances by Ghana Cultural Ensemble throughout the three-day fiesta.
Stands’ set-up will take place from 6am to 11am this morning, followed by formal Opening Ceremony at 12noon by Sir Dawda Jawara. Next to be rendered would be goodwill messages from various governments, ministers, heads of delegation, African Ambassadors and Special Guests of honour.
The morning segment will be rounded off with an Award Session and the launch of Sir Dawda Jawara’s biography. The post-lunch session starts at 2pm with a seminar featuring Richard Sandalls of the World Bank, whose 20-minute presentation will include Question and Answer segment. This will be followed by another 20-minutes lecture on Financing Hotel Investment in West Africa by Obi Nwogugu; while Capt Adebayo Araba of NCAT has 10 minutes to speak on Training Pilots in West Africa.
Capt. Araba’s presentation would precede an interregnum featuring an international festival parade, where the DG of Gambia Tourism Authority, Binta Jobe, will speak for 10 minutes on “Gambia and the Roots experience”; followed by a 10-minute address by Elenda Dokubo, Executive Secretary of Carnival Calabar on “The Carnival experience and Challenges”.
Gabe Onah, Special Adviser on Tourism in Cross River is expected to handle the Q&A session, there after; ahead of the day’s Lead Paper, “Africa’s World Cup Experience” by Danny Jordaan, CEO 2010 World Cup. Jordaan’s presentation will bring to a close that day’s seminar at 5pm and dinner will start 7pm.
The Ghana Dance Ensemble is billed to stage a dance and drama presentation before 7.30pm, when the second Award Session begins. Additionally, there will be a performance by the Cross River Carnival Band before the Award Dinner ends at 9pm.  
The fair continues from 10am on Sunday, 24 October with an exhibition, which opens in the morning preceding a 2pm Press Conference by Ghana’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Zita Okaikoi. Beyond 5pm, when the exhibition is billed to end; there are scheduled private cocktails by exhibitors.
Exhibitions will continue from 9am on Monday, 25 October, even as a Press Conference by Golden Beach Hotels, Ghana is slated to start at 1pm. Exhibitions are expected to close by 5pm ahead of raffle draws. Presentation of Special Awards will also take place.
Akwaaba, from the horse’s mouth
A release signed by Mr. Ikechi Uko, CEO of ATQ and Chairman of the organizing body, described Akwaaba African Travel Market as “the only international travel fair in West Africa”. In the statement, Mr. Uko revealed; “World Bank confirms its participation and intention to use AfTM as a stakeholders’ forum”.
In the same vein, “New York, US-based Africa Travel Association (ATA) will participate at the board level” and “there will be awards for airlines, Travel agents and pioneers at the Award Dinner to be graced by African Ambassadors and the first female airline Captain Irene Mutungi of Kenya Airways”, continued Mr. Uko, who said the Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe OON, will be the Chief Host.
According to the fair’s organisers, “Akwaaba African Travel Market has been designated by the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) as the official travel exhibition in Nigeria, and this year’s edition of the fair, will be the largest gathering of World Class Hotels in West Africa.
“All major international hotel chains and brand hotels that operate in the region are booked to exhibit at this year’s expo. For The Starwood group comprising Sheraton, Meridien and Four Points; it will be their first time as a group joining others like the Protea Group, Golden Tulips, The Legacy Group, The Golden Beach Group, The African Sun Group and The Southern Sun Group”. Also, Eko Hotels, Colonades, African Regents, HSSL, Alisa Hotel, Coconut Groove and Bon Voyage, among other outstanding hotels, have, Uko continued; “all signed up for the biggest global show in West Africa”.
“Over the last 5 years, the AfTM has become the most important travel marketing platform in the (West African) region drawing attendance from over 20 countries, including 12 foreign Airlines and leading African hotel chains. It is open to all as it is “where Africa meets the world”, Uko enthused, adding that “All international Airlines operating in Nigeria, except a few have all signed to participate in the big event including first timers like Lufthansa German Airlines and Afriqqyah Libyan Airlines”. Ethiopian Airlines, he continued, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary at the fair, and the government of Ghana is coming down with a full complement of Tour operators and cultural troupe just as The Gambia repeats it huge campaign started last year”.
This year’s event will feature “My African Travel Experience”, an essay writing competition for school students, and cash prices will be awarded to the best essays, while tickets from Ethiopian Airline, Lufthansa, Afriqyyah and Emirates will be won by lucky visitors to the trade fair.
Ikechi Uko again: “The success of AfTM attracted the presence of the former President of the Gambia Sir Dawda Jawara, the former Secretary General of the British Commonwealth Sir Emeka Anyaoku and the former Vice president of Nigeria, Sir Alex Ekwueme as guests among over 10,000 visitors that attended the event last year. AfTM has become a major fixture in the events calendar for Africa, listed by UNWTO as the only travel event in West Africa. Africa Travel Association (ATA), based in New York, has also signed Akwaaba as its partner event in Africa.
“Akwaaba was admitted this year into the prestigious International Tourism Trade Fair Association (ITTFA) further establishing it as an prestige event in the region. The organizers of Akwaaba are delighted to belong to the well respected and influential group of global exhibitions represented by ITTFA,” declared Mr Uko; who observed; “This membership offers us an opportunity to network, learn and operate amongst shows of the highest standards. It offers us the opportunity to provide our audience with the combined experience of our peers in the association thus bringing to the shores of West Africa global best practices in the exhibition business. Membership of this elite group will further position AfTM as an international event that takes place in Africa, integrating the African Travel practitioners into the global community.” 

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