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Experts to explore African-Caribbean heritage as Akwaaba opens tomorrow

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Dr Kerry Hall

All is now set for this year’s Akwaaba Africa Travel Market, which opens tomorrow, at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos. Already, participating countries are currently setting up their stands at the venue with the hope of marketing their tourism offerings to participants, who will be attending from different parts of the world.

Now in it’s 15th year, the three-day travel and tourism expo, which is the first and biggest in the West African region, will feature interesting events, including the is the maiden African Diaspora Tourism Conference. Other events lined up include are the 3rd edition of the African Food Fair tagged Jollof Rice War, African Youth Tourism Conference, African Travel 100 Global Tourism Personalities Award and others. There will also be paper permutations and panel discussions on aviation and tourism.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation will exhibit at this year’s expo and also host the Caribbean Panel discussion on African Heritage of the Caribbean… Connecting the Dots. During the session, Dr Kerry Hall, Director of Tourism Product Development, in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, Barbados, will deliver the keynote address.

Dr. Hall will share historical facts on the English-born settlers living in Barbados, who required more land to expand the island’s thriving sugar industry. They sailed to North America, bringing along enslaved black Barbadians and white Barbadian indentured servants. Not only did the plantation-based system of enslaved people define the economy of the American South, but also Charleston in South Carolina, still reflects the African and Barbadian heritage, and proudly maintains Gullah Traditions.

According to Dr Hall, the connection between Africa, Barbados and Charleston is a story that needs to be showcased to the world.

“I’m honoured to have the opportunity to share the fascinating yet little known linkages which bind Barbados and Charleston. We recently launched the documentary Beyond Barbados: The Barbados Carolinas Connection and will also showcase the documentary during Akwaaba Travel Market.”

Other esteemed panel members for the session include His Excellency Wendell De Landro, High Commissioner for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and His Excellency Esmond Reid, High Commissioner of Jamaica to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

High Commissioner De Landro will discuss how the Africa Caribbean Heritage has influenced diaspora and international tourism in Trinidad and Tobago, and the impact that this has had on establishing Trinidad Carnival as one of the most renowned carnivals in the world.

On the other hand, High Commissioner Reid will address how Jamaica’s music and heritage have been strongly influenced by Africa and the Rastafarian movement. These influences have enriched Jamaica’s position as a leading destination for travellers seeking an authentic cultural experience.

Fabien Anthony, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Pan-African Council, will address the Caribbean roots of Pan-Africanism, including opportunities to foster connections and strategic partnerships between Africa and its diaspora in the Caribbean and North America that will lead to impactful opportunities for youth and communities. Anthony, will also promote diaspora tourism as a lever for education, cultural exchange, community leadership and economic opportunities.

Also, Sharon Palacio, Chairperson from In2Belize Travel and Tours and leading Garifuna Specialist from Belize, will discuss the African Heritage of the Garifuna people, enslaved West Africans, who washed ashore on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent around 1635 while likely on their way to the mines and plantations in the Americas. Palacio will also highlight how their legacy is preserved today through culture and heritage.

Carol Hay, CTO’s Director of Marketing UK & Europe, will moderate the session.

“We welcome the opportunity to participate in Akwaaba Travel Market with such a dynamic panel of speakers. The theme for the travel market, ‘The Year of the Return’, commemorates 400 years since the first Africans were enslaved, taken from their homeland and brought to the Caribbean and the rest of the Americas. We have a vibrant story to tell; a rich heritage to share, and really see this as an opportunity to connect the dots on all levels, including the opportunity to promote tourism and trade between Africa and the Caribbean,” Hay said.


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