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From Africa travel times magazine, honour comes for tourism patrons 

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Africa Travel Times Magazine Publisher Lucky Onorode George (left), MD/CEO NANET Hotels Ltd Ini Akpabio, GM Accra City Hotel, Roman Krabel and GM Golden Tulip Accra, Paul Kavanagh at the Africa Travel Times Magazine Award in Accra, Ghana.


No doubt, tourism has become an important sector that has an impact on development of country economy. With income creation and generation of job as its main benefit, for many regions and countries, the sector has become the most important source of welfare.
   
However, the ability of the national economy to benefit from tourism depends largely on the availability of investment to develop the necessary infrastructure and on its ability to supply the needs of tourists. But while countries in the Southern Africa, as well as East and North African regions seem to have found winning formula to take advantage of the sector and grow their income, West African countries seem to still be grappling with ideas on how to make the sector work.
   
In line with its tradition of honouring and encouraging stakeholders within the sub-region, who are making noticeable impact in the development of travel and tourism sector, the Africa African Travel Times Magazine recently held this year’s edition of the Africa Travel Times Magazine Award. Unlike previous editions where the awards were presented to the winners at their offices, the magazine this year opted for an elaborate ceremony at the iconic Golden Tulip Hotel, Accra, Ghana, with guests from both public and private sector in attendance.
   
Anchored by renowned Nigerian Broadcaster and Film Critics, Theo Akatugba, awardees for this year’s edition include Roman Krabel, General Manager, Accra City Hotel, Accra and Paul Kavanagh, General Manager, Golden Tulip Hotel, Accra, both of whom have been working in West Africa for almost 10 years.

Also present to receive his award is Ini Akpabio, Managing Director, NANET Hotel Limited, Nigeria. Meanwhile, Onung Nkereuwem, Managing Director, REMLORDS GROUP, owners of Remlords Tours and Car Hire, who is also National President of Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) and first Deputy President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) and Sam Alabi, Company Secretary and Legal Adviser, Eko Hotel Limited, who were also nominated for the award, could not make for the ceremony.
 
Now in its fourth edition, the event, which was spiced with performance by a cultural troupe, also featured a presentation by Nse Obong Ekong of Thisday Newspapers on The Role of Entertainment, Arts and Culture in the Marketing, Promotion and Development of Tourism in West Africa.
   
Ekong, who took guests down memory lane on the long lasting relationship and rivalries between Nigeria and Ghana, noted that without a deliberate effort by government and the private sector in the sub-region to harness the aforementioned potential, this part of Africa will continue to lag behind in achieving its full tourism potential.
   
“The young people are the ones that consume entertainment contents; this is the only industry that is not controlled by the older population. Since the big record companies left Nigeria and Ghana, the next categories of people that control the music industry are the younger people.” He noted.He noted that, structure or no structure, these young Africans have been able to do something with the entertainment industry that has attracted the attention of the world, adding that the tourism sector could tap from that opportunity that already exist.
   
“Today, a respected company like PWC has said that the Nigerian entertainment and media industry is growing at a rate of 12 per cent, which is more than many industries in Nigeria. Whether the statistics are reliable or not, what we see around us, gives a good clue that the industry is doing well. A few years ago, you couldn’t talk about playing Nigerian music on radio and TV station. Today, that’s the order of the day and it has extended to other African countries, including Ghana.”
   
While calling on stakeholders to seek ways of collaborating within the sub region, Ekong said, “You find that where the older people have failed in trying to find a synergy or areas of collaboration, the younger people in entertainment have succeeded in doing that. So, you find many Nigerian and Ghanaian artistes working together. That’s the kind of thing that we need to do in tourism if there’s going to be any progress in West Africa. There must be more collaboration, we must find areas of strength and be able to lean on each other’s shoulders,” he said.

   
In his remarks, the chairman of the occasion and President of Ghana Tourism Federation (GHATOF), David Nana Anim commended the initiator of the award, Lucky Onoriode George, who is also the Publisher and Editor, African Travel Times Magazine, for his bold and courageous efforts in sustaining the publication as well as also finding time to spot excellence in the industry.
   
Anim said the time has come for Ghana and Nigeria to wake up and lead the sub region in the quest to develop the travel and tourism sector.“In Ghana here, when we talk of traffic in terms of travel and tourism, our major traffic comes from Nigeria and we are proud to have you here. We will continue to be proud of you because you’ve added to our income generation. Today, as we sit here, I tell you by the next one or two years to come, this award ceremony will grow from strength to strength.”
 
He continued: “This is the time that we have to work together as partners and collaborators and we have the networking; you all are part of the networking to bring the two countries to the level we are aiming. We can do it and this is a stepping-stone; Africa Travel Times Magazine has done it.”He further informed that, in line with the spirit of collaboration, Ghana is already making plans to visit Nigeria to develop more working relationships.
   
“As we are speaking, the Minister has asked me to set up a committee to go to Nigeria, Calabar precisely, to understudy the Calabar Carnival. I’m pleased to inform you that three of the awardees here today are part of the committee. I think together with Ghana, we can help to build tourism in Africa,” he said.Also speaking, Paul and Roman general managers of Golden Tulip and Accra City Hotels, respectively took time to go down memory lane on how they both came to West Africa through Nigeria; 10 years ago.
   
While receiving his award, Ini Akpabio, Managing Director, NANET Hotels Limited, hinted on the viability of the sector in creating jobs, adding that a lot can be achieved in the region if tourism development is taken as a key economic sector, rather than for mere entertainment instruments for visitors among others.Speaking at the event, the founder of the award Lucky Onoriode George said that the genuine and respected award in the industry was long overdue, especially in an industry that is service based.

“Asking the travelling public that lack the technicality and experience of how the travel and tourism industry works to select the best hotel, restaurant and even the best airline in an operating environment yearly, is wrong. It is the process that differentiates this publication’s awards from others, as awardees are selected by professionals in the various sub-sectors,” he noted.

   
While highlighting the many opportunity available in the sector, George noted that the tourism industry in West Africa is not very good, as most countries rely only on business tourism.“We know that in most destinations and regions that are making it big in travel and tourism, you need to have enough business tourists and leisure tourists. But in Nigeria for instance, leisure travel is almost zero.”He urged stakeholders and relevant government agencies for find ways of collaborating with each other to grow the region.
   
“Tourism generally has gone beyond individual tourism; it has become a regional business. Nigeria can’t be doing things along and Ghana cannot be doing a different thing; we can’t grow that way. The tourist want to maximize his benefits when he’s traveling; we need to begin to look towards that direction. When I travel to South Africa, I’m probably going to add Botswana or Zimbabwe and if you have been to a place where South Africa Tourism is marketing their destination, they encourage you to visit their neigbours. I’m happy that we have stakeholders here, so I think this is the time for us to begin to see ways of working together,” he said.
   
African Travel Times Magazine is Nigeria and West Africa’s only monthly travel and tourism magazine, which initiated the awards in 2014 to annually recognise ‘Excellence’ in the travel and tourism sector in Nigeria, West Africa and beyond.Apart from being a core travel and tourism industry magazine, the coverage also includes ‘Insider’, a destination piece written from a local or native point of view (can also be written ‘as told to), as well as ‘fascinating people’, an article profiling persons of interest in the industry in any part of Nigeria and Africa.



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