atq THE 2013 edition of the Akwaaba African Travel Market in its ninth year set another standard for the regional market to build a strong threshold for the marketing frontier of tourism in Africa. This year’s edition of the number one tourism expo in Nigeria and a brand platform to sell Africa ditto Nigeria to the world witnessed a diverse of business activities with tourism, travel, aviation, hospitality and allied industry players from within and outside Nigeria who described Akwaaba as a viable and visible market for Africa.

Unarguably, the jinx of travel trade monopoly of the western world is gradually being broken by the commitment displayed at the just concluded Akwaaba African Travel Market (AfTM) as more countries joined the exhibition bid to make it a solidarity mission to position the African market for tourism gains.

However, the ninth edition portends a travel trade that will grow the Akwaaba platform as a true representation of the continent and a mouthpiece to strategically showcase the rich tourism potential in a newer way.


South Africa StandIn addition, the unprecedented influx of new exhibitors, trade buyers and sellers, visitors, tourism institutions and authorities to the 2013 edition was an evidence of genuine effort by Africans to build a common front for the development, promotion and marketing of tourism to the world.

The three-day travel and tourism fair was described by a cross section of newer foreign and loyal exhibitors as a unifying ground that would uniformly brand Africa’s tourism market who came with series of networking platform.

SAM 1602Visibly, the acceptability and patronage at the fair was impressive with over 15 countries at the exhibition ground with South Africa, The Gambia, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Namibia, Zimbabwe among others, wore a new look in terms of exhibition stands, contents and paper presentations, which rallied tourism and travel enthusiasts and stakeholders.

Just as loyal exhibitors are strategising to consolidate on previous effort at the AfTM, new entrants to the fair were up to date with trendy outings for visitors and trade buyers to get the pulse of their offerings at the expo.

Different travel and tourism educative information, products and services updates and ideas were at the disposal of participants who used the better hours of the three days event to tidy and seal deals.

A broad spectrum of questions on the state of the tourism industry globally and domestically came handy at the seminar where different papers were presented with vivid case study-solutions and answers on the pressing tourism issues.

On day one, Sunday, October 27, 2013, the Minister of Tourism, The Gambia, Hon. Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie  declared the edition of the AfTM opened, which rallied industry players in their numbers to  the  paper on the Paradigm Shift in the Travel and Tourism, and its Implications for Africa, presentation by the guest speaker, Dr Auliana Poon.

 The eye opening presentation was timely as most of the participants applauded Dr Poon as she progressed in the delivery of the topic, which highlighted the new rules for competitive success in tourism. The day’s event ended with the Africa Travel Award at the Mezzanine of Eko Hotel and Suites.

Day two which was opened to all and sundry witnessed an unprecedented influx of over 500 students from secondary and higher institutions, tourism organisations and bodies and clubs, who visited the venue of the event to feel the pulse of the tourism industry.

The day started with some thought provoking paper presentations with topics The Future of TMC’s; Could they soon become extinct? Africa on the Fast Track; How Africa can leapfrog conventional thinking, TMC Independence; Local know-how for Global competitiveness and The Corporate Perspective: Key challenges faced by companies travelling into Africa were presented by the President, Sabre, Mr Gabriel Olowo, Director: Business Travel - Severnside Consulting UK, Mr Chris Pouney, Chief Executive Officer, Peninsula Travel & Tours, Mrs Yemisi Bamidele and Travel Manager, Puma Energy & Trafigura, Mr Alan Reid, respectively.

Later in the day, different countries’ day were celebrated at the Mezzanine with the Director-General of the NTDC, Mrs Sally Mbanefo, hosting participants to a culinary delight at Nigeria Day while The Gambia Day brought out the best of the smiling coast of Africa. Pepping up the day’s celebration was presentation of the Kenya Airways and Kenya Tourism Board.

The educative session ended on October 29, 2013 with four incisive topics; Business Travel- A Fresh Perspective to improve your relationships, Looking after your travellers-Matching ‘wants’ with ‘needs’, were delivered by the Founder – African Business Travel Association, Mrs Monique Swart, Owner, Sigma Travel Solutions, Mrs Debbie Ubaru, Editor - Travel & Business News, Mr Ewos Iroro.

While the papers on Service Delivery in West Africa-Key challenges and opportunities for improvement, The African Airline Industry-Alliances, Infrastructure, Challenges, Trends and Opportunities, were anchored by the Commercial Director, Airfrance KLM, Mr Cosmando Byarugaba, Mrs Monique Swart and Mr Alan Reid respectively.

The third day which incidentally was the last day of the expo witnessed exciting features and display by the Rwanda dancers hosted by the Rwandair and Rwanda Development Board, who after their beautiful display of Rwandan’s hospitality and culture handed over the baton of celebration to South Africa who took participants on a mental tour of different fascinating destinations.

The evening with the South Africans did not only bring out the best of picturesque of Cape Town, Joburg, Durban among others, but also ended with a refreshing leisure-friendly atmosphere, which demonstrated the existing warm and bilateral relationship between Nigeria and South Africa.

In his opening remarks, the project coordinator, Naija 7 Wonders and organizer, Akwaaba African Travel Market, Mr Ikechi Uko, welcomed all loyal returnees and new entrance to the Akwaaba platform assuring all exhibitors, trade buyers, sellers, visitors and participants of a wonderful time.

“The event created a brisk global village for Africa tourism players, exhibitors and experts not only to build alliance for a common front but also strengthen the chances of positioning and attracting western market to d continent.

He said that the fair created a platform for Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world to meet, showcase and exchange ideas on tourism potentials.

“The fair brings together all the sub-sectors in the tourism industry in Africa such as the leading hotels, airlines, travel agents, tour operators, among others, to participate in the event.

Akwaaba wll help tourism advancement-Mbanefo

The Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Ms. Sally Mbanefo commended the organiser and initiator of Akwaaba African Travel Market. “This reputable travel and tourism event is highly necessary and timely, especially at this time that Nigeria through NTDC is strategising to champion the course of tourism advancement”, Mbanefo said.

“Tourism contributes over 10 per cent GDP to all countries globally and the more reason my organisation’s priority agenda is to make the sector great, rewarding and a good source of revenue for the stakeholders and government”. The NTDC boss disclosed that on her resumption as the director-general of the apex tourism body, her efforts has yielded some positive results as the NTDC has successfully signed five “Memorandum of Understanding” (MoU) with various reputable corporate organisations to boost tourism development. AFTM is not only an exhibition platform, but also an avenue to cross-fertilise ideas through various educative seminars.

South Africa wins best exhibition stand
The South Africa team to the 9th edition of the AfTM came out in the best not only to show that ‘it is possible’ as its former tourism slogan reads, but also came out in its innovative paraphernalia to show that the rainbow nation has more to its destination offering as it displayed them in newer ways.

In a more creative manner, the South Africa Tourism team’s arrival at the expo hall was announced by the train-like exhibition stand that caught the spectacle of participants, with the desk attendance exhausted with number of patronage, leaving scores of visitors on queue.

Speaking at the South African Day, the Consular-General, South African High Commission, Ambassador Sam Monaisa, said Nigeria is the real friend of South Africa, because in the political history of South Africa, Nigeria plays a great role in the struggle, which showed the bond between the two countries.

The Consular-General who promised to sustain the good relationship between the duo, thumbed up for Nigeria tour operators for their patronage. “The ongoing relationship is the real song of progress between the two countries and we are happy to share the warmth, food, culture and wealth of each other. The existing intermarriage between the duo is one of the best investment to cherish.”

Corroborating the consular-general’s assertion, the country manager, South African Airways, Thubi Duma who was elated with the maiden outing of SAT at Akwaaba said the participation was in line with the country’s vision of showcasing tourism in a new way to the world. “We are happy to be here and we promise to continue to service you better with the hospitality of South Africa and South African Airways.”

Goodie Ibru extols platform
One of the biggest hospitality stakeholders in Nigeria, Chief Goodie Ibru who was represented by his son at the just concluded AfTM has extolled the commitment of the organisers, as he described the fair as a stitch in time for the prompt promotion and networking platform for tourism in Nigeria and Africa. “Akwaaba is one of the most important tourism platforms in this region of Africa and it is a pride for us to uphold and grow it for the benefit of the industry.”

Chief Ibru commended the organiser and publisher of, Mr Ikechi Uko for his genuine commitment and effort at growing the fair to an acceptable level and also standing as an umbrella for Africa to boost tourism marketing.

(Courtesy of Africa Travel Quaterly)