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Port Harcourt hots up for Bantaba 2017


Ben Ayade

Gov. Ayade, Onyema, Okezie Win Tourism Man Of The Year
As stakeholders and players in the travel and tourism sector prepare for the return of Bantaba, which holds in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, organisers have announced that three foreign ministers will be in attendance at the event billed for March 16 and 17, at De Edge Hotel Resort. They include Timothy McPherson, Finance Minister of Acompong, Jamaica, Walter Mzembi, Tourism Minister for Zimbabwe and Alain St Ange, Tourism Minister for Seychelles.

This edition of Bantaba is unique, as the event, which is returning after two years absence, will be leaving its traditional Abuja location to the Garden City of Port Harcourt. While Syechelles and Acompong will be making a maiden appearance at the event, same cannot be said about Zimbabwe, as they were well represented by the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Zimbabwe, Annastacia Ndlouv at last year’s Akwaaba Travel Market held in Lagos.

Among experts, who will be speaking this year include Mr. Damian Cook from East Africa, an expert on e-tourism. Training will cover topics such as Tourism in Theory and Practice, eMarketing Strategy, Web Design, Content and Management, Analytics and Conversion Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing, Relationship Marketing, The Generation Gap- Encouraging User Generated Content; Trip advisor, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Managing Multimedia, Mobile and Location Based Services. Some past speakers include Femi Adefope, former Chairman, HRG and former President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies and Mr. Harold Demuren, former DG, NCAA.

For two days, Bantaba will provide opportunity for stakeholders in the industry to come together to discuss some of the salient issues affecting the sector and the way forward. Like the Akwaaba annual travel fair and ACCRA Weizo in Ghana, the Bantaba will offer a platform for travel trade networking in the South-South & South- East region of the country this year.

Meanwhile, governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has won the Atqnews Tourism Man of the Year award for 2016, the CEO of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema also emerged the Aviation Man of the year, while Obinna Okezie, Managing Director of Wakanow, wins the award for Travel Personality of the Year. All the awards are for the year 2016. The event will also feature an award for Top 100 Hotels in Nigeria, which aims at recognising hotels that have impacted positively on the growth and development of travel and tourism business in Nigeria.

Winners emerged through a rigorous process that started at 2016 Akwaaba African Travel Market, through over 2,000 nominations by delegates, top travel professionals, travel agents, tour operators, travel experts and professionals with collations from returned questionnaire from nominated hotels.

Ayade was voted Tourism Man of the Year for sustaining the Carnival Calabar and most importantly, for improving on the offerings of the carnival with the international edition and bikers fiesta, despite the economic recession. On his part, Allen Onyema was voted the Aviation Man of the Year for positioning Air Peace as one of leading domestic airlines in the country, including its expansion drive on the Ghana route, while Obinna Okezie of Wakanow was selected for building the travel company that has become big African brand with branches abroad.

Organised by in partnership with Akwaaba African Travel Market, the awards are intended to celebrate Nigerians both in government and private sector, who have distinguished themselves in moving the travel and tourism business forward in Nigeria.

“Last year was difficult in Nigeria, but some organisations and people dared and did good things that brought good news to Travel and Tourism sector. These great efforts and successes are worth recognising and celebrating,” Ikechi Uko, founder of the award, said.

On the return of Bantaba, Uko informed, “the Government of Nigeria, through the Minister of Tourism, had asked us to return Bantaba to Nigeria. We had planned to move Bantaba to Atlanta, Georgia in America because, for four years, Boko Haram disrupted our events in Abuja. As a response to the Honourable Minister’s request, Bantaba is back to Nigeria. However, it might be rotated to different cities based on request,” he said.

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