At Accra Weizo, stakeholders advocate seamless travel in West Africa
As part of efforts to sustain and advance the founding vision of ECOWAS to create a region of one people integrating and growing together, particularly in the area of travel and tourism, stakeholders in the sector recently gathered in Accra, Ghana, for this year’s edition of the Accra Weizo West African Travel Fair. Held at the Palm Beach Hotel, the event also witnessed the official unveiling of 100 Travel Personalities In West Africa, as well as the Balafon Award 2017.
Though West Africa remains the biggest Region in the continent with over 350 million people, it receives the least number of tourists, even as it generates the highest number of outbound travellers in Africa. So, in a bid to reverse the trend, Accra Weizo was instituted by the Africa Travel Market (organisers of Akwaaba Travel Market in Lagos), with the aim of growing travel business in West Africa.
Themed Seamless Travel in West Africa, the two-day event provided a platform for stakeholders to look at available statistics in the sector and see how members nations could partners in the interest of the sub region.
The opening day featured seminar on the aviation industry, with special focus on how to make West Africa a domestic aviation market, while expert tour operator Kwame Ansong of Sunseekers Tours, delivered a paper on tour packaging. The event also featured digital training for participants on the use of social media to grow travel business. The training covers areas such as Trip Advisor, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with focus on how to utilize them in driving travel and tourism.
The Top 100 Tourism Personalities in West Africa, who was unveiled at the fair, was put together to recognise individuals, who have (through their efforts or that of their organisations) impacted positively on the travel and tourism sector across the West African sub region. It includes those whose efforts have stimulated and helped to achieve their individual country’s tourism goals and help forging interactions among stakeholders and customers across the region.
Meanwhile, the Balafon Awards Committee made up of Travel Professionals and Journalists from across West Africa, had earlier met and shortlisted nominees for this year’s ward, which was set up to recognise individuals and organisations that have excelled in Tourism and Travel sector.
In his address, Nene Nagai Kassa VIII, Mike Gizo, called on stakeholders and practitioners in the travel and tourism industry in Ghana to seek progressive knowledge towards moving the industry forward by attending travel fairs, urging them to support Accra Weizo.
“Every great tree started as a small seed; people should learn to appreciate and associate with great gestures while it is still in its formative stages. We used to have the African Travel Association (ATA) based in America. For most of our events, we have to travel to America. When we get to their office, all the correspondents are from America. I got worried and began to write to fellow Africans to stimulate it in Africa, but many of them were not participating. We need to encourage ourselves as Africans to develop Africa”, he concluded.
Winners include Leeford Quarshie, General Manager, La Villa Boutique Hotel Accra – Ghana, Hazel Gumpo, General Manager, Oak Plaza Hotel, Accra Ghana; Dr. Felix Anyah, General Manager, Holy Trinity & Spa, Accra Ghana. The list also included Nana Dwomoh Brobbey, Chief Executive Officer, Capital View Hotel Ghana; Mr. Nicolas J. Gebara, Fund Manager, Busac Fund Ghana; Gilbert Abeiku Aggrey, Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Communications, Ghana; Mrs. Bella Ahu, Managing Director, Bella Travels Ghana; Manish Nambiar, General Manager, Kempinski Gold City Hotel Accra Ghana; Nancy Sam Quartey, Chief Executive Officer, Staples Travel & Tours, Accra Ghana; Daniel Mckorley, Chief Executive Officer, McDan Shipping Company Accra Ghana; Roman Krabel; General Manager, Accra City Hotel, Accra – Ghana, and Sajid Khan, General Manager, Tang Palace Hotel, Accra – Ghana, among several others. Dr. Michael Pinder, Managing Director, Sun Heavens Hotel & Resort and Stella Fubara – Obinwa of Dubai Tourism also received the Balafon Award for Travel Personality of The Year in West Africa and were also listed in the Top 100 Tourism Personalities in West Africa.
As part of Accra Weizo 2017, Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) hosted participants to a FamTrip from May 23 to 25, which saw them visit the famous Cape Coast of Ghana where GTA lined up lots of activities to entertain them; some of the tour operators were also hosted at Ridge Royal in the Coast. A welcome dinner was organised by GTA in Accra after a city tour, while La Palm and Kempinski Hotels hosted the foreign delegates to cocktails and dinner.