Pastor (Mrs.) Chichi Umeasiegbu, a former banker and finance and investment specialist, is a graduate of the University of Bangor, UK and chief executive officer and managing director of Global Links Travel and Tours, Warri, Delta State, with operational offices in Lagos and Port Harcourt. She developed passion for travel from her childhood days following her exposure to different destinations across the world on family vacation and that passion had ever since stayed with her and stoked her delving into the travel business years later. ‘‘My passion for travelling and visiting different countries began as a young child going on vacations with my family,’’ she disclosed.
Despite the successes that she made of her banking career spanning over a decade, she gave it up to journey into the world of uncertainty, at least that was what the travel world was to her then a she knew little about the intricacies of it, but was buoyed on by her passion for travels.
‘‘After more than a decade in banking, I was motivated to move out on my own to start a travel outfit so as to have more time for my family and myself,’’ she said, adding that her taking to buying and selling business while still in the banking field made a lot of difference in her stability at the time. ‘‘It was a bit easy as I had tried my hands on buying and selling even as a banker, but I moved on into the capital market as a broker for a highly based securities company and eventually my love and passion for travelling won the day as I ended up concentrating fully on it.’’ Her family, she said was her backbone, especially the husband who was there for her and gave her all the needed support to thrive in her new business: ‘‘Well, the challenges were there, but I was fully supported by my husband,’’ she stressed.
Niche in travels
Travel business is a vast one and to succeed in it, either as a travel agent or tour operator, requires you carving a niche for your company so as to grow into an authority and a household firm in those areas. Aware of this, Umeasiegbu, after trying her hands in the different areas of the business, over time decided to carve a niche in some of the prime areas of travels. These include pilgrimages, cruises, and vacation packages. In addition, she also offers ancillary services in the areas of recruiting students for foreign universities particularly the University Of Georgia, Tbilisi and visa assistance as well as ground tour services.
Growing Global Links Travel and Tours to the level it is today, a household name in Warri, as one of the leading travel companies in that part of the country, and extending further down South South region, for her, has a been a challenging task. However, she attributed the successes recorded to God, describing the journey as: ‘‘Wonderful though a bit challenging. As a group we have been able to cut our teeth and settled well into our core business and we are most grateful to God for this. ‘‘I am not joking. My total dependence on God has steadied me and the business. In fact, God is our ‘Executive Chairman.’ We would not have gotten to where we are now without His direction and leading.’’ The place of God in her life and her business is very clear given her spiritual bent and ‘a woman of God’ status. ‘‘It has been God,’’ she said.
‘‘A lot of factors would have made us close up shop, but we persevered even after the exit of Shell from Warri and we still stayed on,’’ she revealed. She described Warri, birth place and home of her business, as her Jerusalem. ‘‘Warri is our Jerusalem, so to speak, and we have tried over the years to try to contribute to its growth in our own small way of promoting the city and region to our travel trade partners.’’ According to her: ‘‘Our presence in Port Harcourt and the South South is informed by the need to extend our services to our colleagues in those areas who partner with us in our different travel offerings. ‘‘Also, we initiated and originated our trade platform known as Travel Trade Network (TTN), where we collaborate with our colleagues.’’ Staying afloat in this part of the country, according to her, has been challenging as people and businesses prefer to patronise travel operators based in Lagos, however, she has mastered the market and carved a niche for her business as one of the most prominent in the market. ‘‘It is challenging because our trade partners tend to concentrate more on Lagos and the other major cities in the country; so we have to push for every kind of support that we get from them’’ she said of her staying power.
Ije – The journey
Given the growth of the travel business in the Niger Delta region, she saw the need to create a platform for the operators to interact with the travelling public and exchange ideas on growing trends and developments in the industry. This gave birth to an exhibition platform, which she called Ije (The journey). The platform, which is now in its sixth year holds yearly in the month of March and has been instrumental in forging the growth of the industry in the Niger Delta. ‘‘The main objective of Ije is to promote our services and products and promote the region with Warri as its hub. We get our trade partners to come to Warri to support us and showcase their own products, giving them an opportunity to interact and network with our participants. We also promote different destinations as well at Ije,’’ she said of Ije. She described the last edition of Ije as very explosive: ‘‘It was explosive.
Our focus was on promoting Namibia as a destination and our signature project; the Nam-Naija Project, which is basically promoting Namibians to Nigerians and Nigerians to Namibians. ‘‘Ije 2019 was showcasing Nigerians to Namibians, as we had a host of local talents showcasing their craft during the event, which was recorded and will be shown in Namibia.’’ On the logistics and challenges of organising this travel platform yearly, she said that: ‘‘Well, our company fully sponsors the event and have been doing so in the last six years. It is our way of promoting the region, and it can be bigger if we are supported by the private sector. I deliberately did not mention the government, because of the bottlenecks and bureaucracy there.’’ Despite this challenge, she is grateful to God that the platform has become very successful and visible, saying that: ‘‘In terms of visibility, it has been very successful.’’
Nigeria travel industry
She holds an optimistic view about Nigerian travel industry as the said that it is ‘‘growing with major room for improvement.’’ However, Umueasiegbu lamented on the hampering role of ‘‘security, bad road network, government neglect of the sector, while other countries fall over themselves to develop it since it is a viable alternative to oil, given our great tourism potential.’’ Also, she called ‘‘on the government to be more interested in the tourism sector. Appointing core tourism professionals as minister of tourism and other key positions to be spearheaded by professionals so as to turn around the fortune of the tourism sector.’’
Attractions of outbound tours
It is a known fact in the travel industry that many of the travel agents and tour operators in the country prefer the promotion of outbound to inbound tours. She attributed this sad development mostly to Nigerians penchant for outbound destinations and to remain in business travel operators have to follow suit. ‘‘It is because of our people, Nigerians are travellers. I believe that we must be one of the most widely travelled people on planet earth. I am not sure there is any place on this earth that a Nigerian has not visited, or does not live in. If there is such a place then that place is not inhabitable. ‘‘Nigerians love to travel, so we position ourselves to provide them with all they would need to enjoy and have a fun filled experience.’’
Shutting the door on international travel exhibitions
It is on record that in the last five years that Nigerian government has shut its doors on attending foreign travel expositions and conferences, such as the World Travel Markets (WTM) in London and ITB Berlin, where operators like herself, who was a regular face on the circuit, market Nigeria. She described this development as disadvantageous to Nigeria and affecting the business of the private operators: ‘‘It puts us at a serious disadvantage because people do not get to know about our diverse offerings in terms of tourism,’’ she said. However, her admonition is that this period of hiatus should be used to put Nigerian tourism in proper perspective.
‘‘But then we need to use this period of absence to put our tourism house in order, so that when we do attend such shows again, we would have definitive products to offer.’’ According to here, there is a lot to gain from such international promotions. ‘‘A lot, especially opportunities of meeting and building new working relationships with our foreign destination partners. Where you discuss with them one on one.’’ Umeasiegbu stressed that one of the things that she and other trade partners have missed most about not attending these travel trade exhibitions is ‘‘meeting with new and old partners, as it is one big reunion meeting places.’’
Recipes for the best bedtime snacks
Late night calories can boost recovery and set you up for an active day. Here, a nutritionist weighs in on athletes’ favourite snacks. Whoever spread the notion that bedtime snacks are bad for you must not have been an endurance athlete.
If you’ve ever been roused prematurely by a grumbling stomach or woken up feeling depleted from the previous night’s workout, you know that a bite before bed has its merits. But research has only recently started to show exactly how a late night snack can benefit active bodies, with various studies establishing the correlation between evening calories and muscle recovery and growth.
Those calories also help replenish glycogen stores in preparation for the next day’s workout. Catherine Kruppa, a registered dietician and certified sports nutritionist with 14 Boston qualifiers and three ultras to her name, explains that a 200-to-400-calorie snack should do the trick.
Look for foods with a three-to-one carbohydrateto- protein ratio, and opt for complex carbs instead of simple sugars. She also recommends you sneak in some antioxidants and omega-3’s, which will help boost your recovery while you sleep.
If you need some inspiration, here are some nighttime snack ideas straight from the pros.
Cherry-Almond recovery smoothie A big week for long distance triathlete Chelsea Sodaro entails 30 or more hours of training. “I have a hard time getting in enough protein and calories during a six- or seven-hour training day,” she says, “so having a shake before bed helps keep me full during the night and aids muscle repair while I’m sleeping.”
This easy-to-digest smoothie is a perfect bedtime snack for recovery, with protein and carbohydrates, fluid to help rehydrate, and anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Sodaro’s protein needs are skyhigh due to her heavy training load, so Kruppa recommends you tweak the recipe according to your own needs, adding that the three-to-one carb-toprotein ratio is a good rule of thumb for everyday athletes. Ingredients: • One cup almond milk
• Three scoops (1 serving) Vifit sport recovery shake
• Half cup Greek yogurt
• Half cup frozen berries
• One tablespoon tart cherry-juice concentrate
• Three ice cubes or
• One third cup light coconut milk
• Half cup water
• Half scoop 100 per cent whey, collagen, or vegan protein powder
• Two teaspoons almond butter
• One cup frozen tart cherries Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Antioxidant Granola Bars Three-time distance-running Olympian Jen Rhines created these granola bars specifically for night time snacking after a hard training day. “When I eat late at night, I try to avoid foods that will cause a spike in blood sugar,” Rhines says. The ample protein and fat in her bars slows digestion and keeps her satiated. She also adds goji berries, which contain a whopping 18 amino acids, and antioxidant-rich raw honey. Kruppa approves of Rhines’s ingredient list, which includes ample complex carbs and important nutrients. If you’re low on protein for the day, Kruppa suggests adding whey-protein or collagen-protein powder to the mix. Flax seeds would also contribute healthy omega-3’s to this nourishing bedtime bite.
• One and a half cups rolled oats
• One cup dates, pitted
• One cup almonds, chopped
• A quarter cup almond butter
• A quarter cup raw honey
• A quarter cup goji berries
• A quarter cup cacao nibs (optional)
Directions: Optional: Toast oats at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Chop dates into small bits with a food processor or by hand. Combine the oats, dates, and almonds in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Warm almond butter and honey in a small saucepan over low heat, then combine to the oat mixture. Add the goji berries and cacao nibs. Line an eight-by-eight-inch baking pan with parchment paper, spread the mixture inside, and flatten.
Cover and place in a fridge or freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and chop into squares. Coconut-Milk Yogurt Bowl Matt Llano, the runner-up at last year’s USA Track and Field Marathon Championship, only snacks in the evenings before a particularly long run or hard workout.
“My favourite lately has been a coconutmilk yogurt bowl,” he says. He typically uses So Delicious yogurt, sweetens it naturally with maple syrup or honey, and tops it with fresh fruit and granola. Kruppa called Llano’s yogurt bowl “a great whole-food snack,” thanks to the nine grams of both fiber and protein it provides.
To increase the protein, she suggests opting for Greek yogurt. As a topping, Kruppa also recommends Kind Cinnamon Oat Clusters with Flax Seeds, which contains omega-3-rich flax seeds and only five grams of sugar per serving.
• Three quarter to one cup coconutmilk yogurt • One to two tablespoons almond butter
• Half tablespoon maple syrup
• A quarter cup fresh raspberries
• A quarter cup granola
• Chocolate-Chip Flax-Seed Cookies Olympic steeplechaser Shalaya Kipp, who is working toward her Ph.D. in kinesiology at the University of British Columbia, keeps it simple with a glass of milk.
“It’s somewhat filling, and I get a little extra hydration with some carbohydrates and protein,” she says.
“Though I’d be lying if I didn’t say I normally look for a cookie or two to dunk in it.”
Kipp’s glass of milk in the evening is spot-on, according to Kruppa. It contains a nice balance of protein, carbohydrates, fluid, and potassium, and it pairs well with the occasional treat.
When homemade cookies aren’t an option, Kruppa’s favorite alternatives are Kashi Oatmeal Raisin Flax Cookies and Simple Mills Chocolate Chip Cookies.
• One stick butter (at room temperature)
• One cup light-brown sugar
• One egg
• One teaspoon vanilla
• Half teaspoon baking soda
• Half teaspoon salt
• One and a half cups flour
• Two third cup ground flax seed
• One and a half cups milk-chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar together in a mediumsize bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla.
Add baking soda and salt. Add flour and flax seed, and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.
Place golf-ball-size dough balls on a cookie sheet and chill in the freezer for five to ten minutes. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
Women’s Entrepreneurial Journeys through Tourism calls for support for women investors
Without doubt, women are underrepresented in virtually all sectors in industrialised countries, even in entrepreneurial activities, leading to significant and persistent gender gap. In order to understand the implications of this for gender equality and productivity of women entrepreneurs in the hospitality and tourism industry, and its impact on development in sub-Saharan Africa, the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK in partnership with Lagos Business School, Nigeria and the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, conducted a study on Women Entrepreneurial Journeys through Tourism in Sub-Saharan Africa.
As part of the study, workshops were held in Nigeria and Ghana to equip and enlighten women on the different pathways women entrepreneurs in these countries navigate their way in an ever-changing tourism industry, and how different environments, agents, policies and actions across different scales influence their opportunities, motivations and challenges. In Nigeria, the workshop took place at the Lagos Business School (LBS) on July 25 and it explored challenges being faced by Nigerian women in their entrepreneurial journeys including but not limited to navigating socio-economic, cultural and financial roadblocks in the tourism industry, why women need to succeed in the industry and bridging tourism gaps in Nigeria.
Associate Professor of Marketing at LBS, head of the research team in Nigeria and lead facilitator at the Workshop, Dr. Ogechi Adeola, in opening the workshop gave a brief introductory remark and introduced the speakers lined up for the session while in his opening remark, the Director of Research at LBS, Dr. Frank Ojadi, advised the various operators in the tourism sector to collaborate by pulling their resources together to create a sustainable industry.
He emphasised that generating income will require empowering women as this will stimulate the growth of the sector. Adeola then came back on stage to further the discourse, starting with a quote by the former First Lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton (1993-2001). In her speech during the 2015 international women`s day celebration to encourage and lay in the minds of women to go beyond societal construction of their roles and responsibilities, Clinton said: “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.”
She stimulated the curiousity of the over 40 participants by asking the question; “Where are the women”? A followup consideration was how far has women truly showcased their talents and entrepreneurial abilities in their journeys? She then highlighted the expected outcome of the workshop as: to explore women`s pathways in hospitality and tourism entrepreneurship, highlight women’ empowerment through hospitality and tourism, discuss evidence-based policy and practice recommendations to foster women’s entrepreneurship in hospitality and tourism, present some practice and policy recommendations to enhance women’s participation in tourism as entrepreneurs.
The Project Lead, Dr. Albert Kimbu, who is a senior lecturer, Hospitality and Tourism from the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Surrey, discussed the project and its key findings emanating from a survey of, and interviews with women entrepreneurs in the sector.
The challenges in women entrepreneurial journeys and pathways towards the removal of socio-economic and cultural barriers in the tourism industry in Nigeria. According to him: “Our findings show that women who venture into hospitality and tourism want to express their creativity and innovative skills. They hope to move their businesses beyond being just hobbies into thriving, profit-generating businesses.
Like all other businesses, tourism faces challenges such as access to capital, high taxes, and lack of skilled and qualified staff, among other.
‘‘Other challenges they face include the lack of mentoring and coaching for nascent entrepreneurs, limited networking opportunities, unclear regulatory frameworks and legal assistance, access to customers and sales” Additionally, limited access to financial resources from formal institutions which meant that most of the women relied on their personal savings as start-up capital, low government support for tourism start-up businesses, and high levels of distrust of government and local non-governmental institutions contribute to hampering the growth of women-owned businesses in this sector. Nevertheless, family and friends are a significant source of support for entrepreneurs and tourism entrepreneurship enhances the socio-economic and cultural status of women.
Looking ahead, Kimbu posited that women must realise that even though they are competitors, they notwithstanding have to get together and start addressing these issues collaboratively, such as through coopetition if they want to succeed and grow their individual hospitality and tourism businesses. On her part, the keynote speaker, and Chief Executive Officer, MAD Hospitality and Job-Link Foundation, Mary Dinah, discussed her entrepreneurial journey and how she rose to the apex of the hospitality sector in the United Kingdom and Nigeria. Networking was identified as a major hindrance to the success of women in the sector.
According to her: “Networking is very important for entrepreneurship in any country. In Nigeria, women have not been given the freedom to network as widely and as deeply as they should and as men do. The more women are allowed to freely socialise within moral lines, the more options and opportunities will open up to them.”
The workshop also witnessed panel discussions and interactive sessions, which was anchored by some players in the tourism industry, such as Guava- House Hospitality’s Bukky Arowosafe, Deft Consult’s Khadijah Junaid, Nene- Uwa Hub’s Nnenna Fakoya-Smith, Radisson Blu’s Moyo Ogunseinde, and Wonuola Olatunde-Lamidi of Diamond and Pearls Travel.
The session was moderated by Dr. Adun Okupe of the LBS Sustainability Centre and Red Clay Advisory. Okupe engaged participants on the need for women to succeed in sub-Saharan African. In the last segment of the workshop, Mrs. Abiola Ogunbiyi of SJ Tours and Allied Services and Chairperson of the Lagos State Traditional Sports Association, provided crucial details on finding information and support as a tourism entrepreneur.
Participants gave feedback on their challenges and pathways to navigating the sector. Overall, the workshop, explored women’s pathways in hospitality and tourism entrepreneurship; highlighted women empowerment through hospitality and tourism initiatives; discussed evidence-based policy and practice recommendations to foster women’s entrepreneurship in hospitality and tourism; and presented some practice recommendations to enhance women’s participation in tourism as entrepreneurs. At the end of the session, quality networking was prescribed as one of the solutions to the many challenges that women entrepreneurs face in the hospitality and tourism industry in Nigeria. Concerted efforts are needed by stakeholders to encourage women’s participation in tourism.
Hospitality: Bench Events, APO Group partner to drive investment in Africa
A new vista has opened for hotel development in Africa as Bench Events, organiser of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), and APO Group, a leading media relations consultancy and press release distribution service, have announced a wide range of collaboration aimed at boosting investment in the hospitality industry in Africa.
The deal, which spans 2022, covers the next three editions of AHIF and its Francophone equivalent, the Forum de l’Investissement Hôtelier Africain (FIHA). Hotels are crucial in boosting the economies of developing nations. Not only do they drive tourism, encouraging foreign investment and bringing in foreign currencies, they also host important business meetings.
All over Africa, international conferences like AHIF help generate huge exposure while world class hotels facilitate day-to-day business travel for global executives and multinational organisations. As Africa grows, it is essential hotel infrastructure develops alongside it, and Bench Events and APO Group are perfectly placed to help raise the profile of the hospitality industry, and driving international investment through increased media exposure.
AHIF 2019 is scheduled to hold at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa between September 23 and 25 while the next FIHA conference will be held in March 2020. Bench Events has consistently ensured that AHIF and FIHA attract the highest calibre of international hotel investors of any conference in Africa, connecting business leaders from international and local markets, driving investment into hotel development and other hospitality and tourism-oriented projects across the continent.
This year’s edition of AHIF is predicted to be the biggest event of its kind ever staged in Africa, generating millions of dollars for the local economy, and billions for the continent as a whole.
Among the over 600 expected participants, there will be senior figures from the Marriott, Hilton, AccorHotels and Radisson hotel groups, while speakers include key influencers from the global hospitality investment industry. APO Group’s involvement in the conference highlights their credentials as the most influential media distribution experts in Africa and the Middle East. In recent years, the consultancy has worked closely with some of the biggest players in the hospitality and tourism industries.
The firm supports over 300 prominent organisations, including 57 leading PR agencies, with their communications strategies in Africa and beyond. During the week of each event, exhibitors at both AHIF and FIHA will benefit from complimentary access to APO Group’s comprehensive African press release distribution service.
APO Group’s industry-leading monitoring technology will help ensure that coverage of the both AHIF and FIHA events will be intricately tracked, providing invaluable data insights to Bench Events as they look to increase momentum and drive further investment into the hospitality industry in Africa.
APO Group are also running several initiatives to help raise the profile of the events. Ahead of each of the next three editions of AHIF and FIHA, APO Group will invite an African journalist on an all-expenses-paid trip to the conference. APO Group will also mobilise their unparalleled corporate network to provide keynote speakers from diverse industries to add depth and breadth to the topics being discussed.
“What’s great about APO Group is their unrivalled expertise in African media landscapes and their ability to reach prominent journalists to help drive our message to new audiences,” said the Managing Director of Bench Events, Matthew Weihs.
“In partnership, I believe we have all the tools to make these conferences even more successful and bring greater international exposure and investment to the tourism industry all over Africa,” he added.
“AHIF and FIHA represent the best in global collaboration in the hospitality industry,” said the Chief Executive Officer of APO Group, Lionel Reina.
“Hotels in Africa are a showcase for tourism and business across the continent, providing meeting places for commerce, as well as helping to drive interest and investment throughout the region. ‘‘We relish partnerships like this one with Bench Events, as they demonstrate our commitment to raising Africa’s profile across a range of diverse industries.”
Forwardkeys predicts boom for Madagascar tourism
A study undertaken by Forward- Keys, which analyses over 17 million flight booking transactions a day, reveals that Madagascar looks set to experience a boom in its tourism this year. Visitor arrivals in Madagascar in 2018 was put at 8% up on the previous year and they are 19% up in the first five months of this month.
The country is richly endowed and it is a magnet for nature-loving tourists, with unique flora and fauna as well as its un-spoilt, authentic character. A detailed breakdown of Madagascar’s top 10 origin markets shows that in the first five months of this year, there has been a strong improvement in booking trends. Arrivals from France (excluding the Reunion Island), which is the most important source of visitors, was 33% up on 2018.
While arrivals from the ‘Vanilla Islands’ (Reunion, Mauritius, Mayotte, Comores and the Seychelles) were 21% up and from Italy were 37% up. Markets which had experienced declines in late 2017 and early 2018, South Africa, Germany, Great Britain and China, all returned to growth. Only the USA, which is Madagascar’s 8th most important origin market, continued to decline but the degree of decline fell.
The outlook is even more encouraging. Forward bookings for the period June-August (inclusive) are 34% ahead of what they were at the beginning of June last year and from the top 10 origin markets are 38% ahead.
The most significant factor driving the improvement is a substantial increase in seat capacity. For example, during the first nine months of 2019, capacity to Europe has increased by 81% on Air Madagascar, the island’s most important carrier, with almost a third of the market. In June, the airline started a new twice-weekly service to Johannesburg.
Other key airlines such as Air Austral or Air Mauritius are also increasing their capacities to Madagascar by 23.6% and 3.8% respectively for January to September, compared to the same period the previous year. In 2018, total international seat capacity had grown by just 1.8%.
The President of the Madagascar National Tourist Office, Boda Narijao, said of the development: “This is extremely encouraging data, which validates our recent initiatives to make Madagascar more appealing to international visitors.”
Over three quarters of visitors to Madagascar are tourists who stay for more than two weeks and 19% stay longer than a month. This relatively long length of stay is a key driver of economic growth for the destination.
The Vice President, Insights, ForwardKeys, Olivier Ponti, disclosed that: “According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism is responsible for 15.7% of Madagascar’s economy and 33.4% of its total exports, so the increases we are seeing in air traffic lead us to expect that the country will experience a tourism-driven boom this year.”
African Sports Tourism Summit and Olympic Roundtable for Sept 19
Preparations is gathering momentum for this year’s edition of African Sports Tourism The African Summit and Olympic Roundtable, which will headline the African Sports Tourism Week Ghana 2019, with major stakeholders and players in sports federations/commissions/councils, Olympic committees, tourism boards, and tour operators among others converging on Oak Plaza Hotels, Accra, Ghana.
Billed to hold between September 19 and 20, the two days event, will witness the cross fertilization of ideas on how best to infuse tourism as a major drive for the development of sports in the continent given the huge potential of both sectors.
Some of the listed speakers are Dev Govindjee, Geoff Wilson, Tafadzwa Mapanzure, Juliet Bauwah and Abi Ijasanmi. Bauwah is a renowned sports journalist, broadcaster and founder of African Women Sports Summit. She is a contributor to a number of popular sports media such as BBC and Goal.com. Govindjee is a South African cricket legend who played in 45 first-class matches for Eastern Province between 1971 and 1983.
He worked with International Cricket Council for more than a decade. He is currently an international match referee.
While Wilson, a member of the board of Tourism Northern Ireland, runs his own marketing and communications consultancy business, with focus on sport. Mapanzure is a sports industry consultant with years of experience in sports marketing in Southern Africa region. Ijasanmi was one of the first female agents negotiating salaries, endorsements and media deals for US Basketball players in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
A Commercial Lawyer with over 10 years business development experience, she is currently director for Africa at DiamondAir International.
According to the President of African Sports Tourism Week, Deji Ajomale-McWord, the goal of the event is impact on the economy of the continent: “Our goal is to increase the gross domestic products of African nations through better delivered sporting events and sports holiday. Sports can only be best commodified through experiences that only hospitality and tourism can offer.’’
The theme for the two days gathering is, ‘‘Aligning Sports Tourism with Sustainable Development Goals’ and we shall be discussing other topics bordering on bidding process, why Africa isn’t attracting enough sporting events and commodifying sports holiday in Africa,” said Ajomale – Mcword.
2019 China-Nigeria Tourism and Culture Forum holds on August 22
The stage is now set for the hosting of this year’s edition of the China – Nigeria Tourism and Culture Forum, which is billed to hold on Thursday August 22 at the China Cultural Centre in Nigeria located on Wuze, Zone 5, Abuja.
The yearly tourism and culture forum is a collaboration between the China Cultural Centre in Nigeria and the Nigerian Youth Tourism Development Organisation. According to a statement by the two partners, the event is a display of the rich tourism and cultural wealth of both countries and it is geared at fostering cultural exchange and growth between the two countries. Some of the activities to be featured at this one – day gathering include: Tourism lectures and seminars, China and Nigeria tourism video, singer and guitar, photo exhibition of Hainan and dinner.
3rd International Business Tourism Conference and Exhibition opens tomorrow in Canada
Winnipeg, Canada will tomorrow play host to a number local and international players in the tourism world as the third edition of the International Business Tourism Conference and Exhibitions opens in the city. As reported by Alain St. Ange Tourism Report for August, the event, which is being organised by Nigerian – Canadian –based travel outfit, Travellinks Holiday and Education Service, headed by Gbenga Oluboye, will span Monday August 20.
According to Oluboye, the three days tourism conference and exhibition, holding at Canad Inns Destination Centre, Polo Park, Winnipeg, theme is: Precision and Performance: Key factor in sustaining tourism business.
The MICE show will host trade buyers and sellers through different meetings.
“We are expecting captains of the industries in the allied tourism sector from Nigeria and other African countries to participate in the conference,” said Oluboye even as he disclosed that Alain St, Ange, a former Seychelles minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine and Authority, is one of the international speakers slated to speak at the conference.
PABLO CASTRO: Nigeria offers great opportunity as an emerging market
Early this year, Tifa Travels and Tours Limited became the first Nigerian travel agency and tour company to earn the franchise of Lufthansa City Centre (LCC) and became known as Tifa Travel Lufthansa City Centre. Pable Castro, senior business development manager of Lufthansa City Centre, who is in charge of African market, and was at a special guest at the formal opening ceremony of the centre, spoke with ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA on the centre’s operation and a long range of issues
My sojourn in travel business
Pablo Castro is a young travel professional with a bright future ahead of him. Born and raised in Vigo, Spain, Castro fell in love with the travel profession at a tender age and since then has never looked back when he took his first tentative step towards the realisation of his lifetime dream. At the age of 20, he left his country of birth for the United Kingdom where he studied tourism at Hammersmith North West College, London. At the completion of his study, he worked at a shopping mall for a while. He proved at the time to be a restless soul in search of self – fulfillment.
‘‘I worked in a shopping mall for a while and then I moved to Italy and after some years I moved back to London again where I worked in a restaurant for four years as the restaurant manager,’’ he said of his early career path. Again, Castro left his restaurant job in London for Italy where he worked for a travel agency for five years.
‘‘I went back to Italy to work for a travel company for five years and then moved to Madrid and worked for 11 (Eleven) months with a Spanish company. But again bitten by the bug of constant movement and change of environment, six years ago he left and joined Lufthansa City Centre where he has risen to become the senior business development manager for Africa. ‘‘I have worked with Lufthansa City Centre for six years and I am in charge of Africa continent in terms of account management,’’ said the elated Castro. It was in this capacity that he came to Lagos, Nigeria for the first time to witness the formal opening of the Tifa Lufthansa City Centre. LCC offers global leverage for travel business
According to him, LLC adds value to travel business by offering global leverage to companies under its brand. ‘‘LCC is a franchise organisation for travel agencies that need global network. When an agency is in need of or want to have a global coverage they have to approach one of the organisations that provides worldwide services and that organisation is LCC,’’ disclosed Castro. Part of the qualifications for becoming a member of the group, he said is that the travel agency must be accredited by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
‘‘They have to have an IATA certification, which is a priority and provide travel agency related services such as ticketing, hotel reservation, and end – to – end service,’’ he said. What is the connection between Lufthansa Airline and LCC? One sought to know. ‘‘Lufthansa is part of my company (LCC) but doesn’t run my company,’’ disclosed Castro as he explained that Lufthansa Airline was part of those who set up LCC but now LCC works independently of the airline and as such is at liberty to work with other airlines besides Lufthansa Airline.
‘‘I work with every airline,’’ he said of the global ranch of LCC, which he said holds inventories of different operators within the global travel value chain and it is these inventories, which it offers to those under its brands that make LCC a world beater as not many brands boost of such a wide ranch and offers.
According to him: ‘‘LCC was opened in 1991 in Germany and we have a relationship with hotel chains, cab chains and other services providers,’’ stressing that any travel operator under the LCC brand ‘‘will be able to benefit from the global reach of LLC with over 570 offices in over 90 countries where LCC is located.’’
Tifa Travels and Tours Limited is in good company with LCC Application by Tifa Travel and Tours Limited to be admitted into the LCC family, he said was speedily attended to because the company was found to be worthy and earned all the required stripes. For LCC, having Tifa Travels in the family was a welcome development because for years LCC has looked to penetrating the Nigerian market given its huge potential in Africa and globally.
‘‘Lufthansa was very happy with them. They were the ones that reached out to us and we have been trying to penetrate the market over the years but it wasn’t possible because of the political situation and the business environment,’’ said Castor.
He further di sclosed that LLC f i r s t m a d e incursion to the African market in 2014 and has a presence in three countries before now; Namibia, Ghana and Kenya, with Nigeria making it the fourth country even as it is prospecting other countries within the continent.
‘‘We are getting a footprint in West Africa countries and hopefully this will lead to more and more countries,’’ he said of the future of LCC.
He also admitted that Lufthansa Airline has not made an appreciable impact in Africa in terms of its operations but with LCC partners in the continent that is expected to change for the better. Traffic in Lagos is hellish For Castro who was visiting Lagos (Nigeria) for the first time, he finds affinity between his country, Spain and Nigeria in terms of the culture, as he said that ‘‘the culture is very much Spanish – based.’’ However, there was a culture shock for him when it came to the traffic situation.
In his words: ‘‘I feel comfortable but the traffic is too much,’’ adding that: ‘‘The traffic is hellish.’’ I am a citizen of the world Despite the ubiquitous traffic situation and other challenges that the Nigerian environment present, especially the business environment, Castro said he is not fazed by any of them, describing himself as a world citizen who sees in every challenge or environment the opportunity for a new vista.
Having travelled across over 93 countries, he truly earns the title of a world citizen because he must have experienced the good, bad and ugly and learnt how to navigate and survive no matter the environment he finds himself at any point in time. ‘‘I have travelled over 93 countries and I am a citizen of the world and I don’t see barriers but I see opportunities,’’ he said.
As it concerns Nigeria’s image at the global level, his verdict is that the impression is not encouraging as Nigeria is perceived as crime infested country. ‘‘However, you are badly portrayed in the media outside Nigeria. But those that know better know that you can’t believe everything you hear in the news.
Though people have a very bad impression of what they can expect here. ‘‘That is a fact because of the travel advisories,’’ which he said globally portray Nigeria in the negative with warnings to their nationals by the various national governments to avoid travelling to Nigeria. Nigeria offers great opportunity as an emerging market ‘‘But for me, this is an opportunity, this is a great and emerging market.
This is an emerging market and we will be working very closely with them (Tifa Travel Lufthansa City Centre) because there are a lot of people here and a lot of things that have to change as you get better and better,’’ said Castro of his perception of Nigeria not only for travel business but for other businesses. If there is one thing that impressed Castro most in the course of his short visit to Nigeria, it was the organizational skills displayed by Nigerians in the course of hosting the Tifa Travel Lufthansa City Centre opening ceremony.
According to him, when he first visited the company at it Oba Akran, Ikeja – based office, it was still undergoing construction and he expressed fear as to the readiness of the office for the launch the next day.
But to his amazement and delight, when he arrived the next morning for the ceremony he couldn’t recognised the office anymore as it was not only ready but transformed and had all the required trappings of LCC global brand.
For this feat, he commended Mrs. Adelola Adewole, the managing director of Tifa Travel Lufthansa City Centre and her team for the organisation and event management skills displayed, as he described the occasion as: ‘‘Great organisation of event. I am very impressed, yesterday this was still under construction but today, it is all made and looking good and impressive. ‘‘I was very surprised when I arrived here this morning.’’
This is the era of infusion of local content to global brand
To succeed as a global brand, he said you need to understand the local market and realise that ‘‘people’s perceptions and tastes change over time,’’ adding that: ‘‘Globalisation has its advantages and disadvantages as well and now we are going back to more local content but with global exposure.
Ado Ekiti: Udiroko Festival 2019 beckons the world
ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA who was at the world media event staged by the organisers of Udiroko Festival 2019 writes on the attempt by the people of Ado Ekiti, their monarch and Ekiti State government to put the yearly festival on the global tourism map
The occasion was the world press conference staged over the week at the Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos by the organisers of Udiroko Festival 2019, a yearly historical and cultural tourism festival celebrated by the people of Ado in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State.
It was to intimate the world of the preparations for the hosting of the festival this year, with the theme: ‘Enforcing and sustaining the solidarity of our history, culture and tradition.’ It is scheduled to hold between August 12 and 20, in Ado Ekiti, with the grand finale billed for August 20. But more importantly, it was to let the world into the new spirit of the age – long festival, which is to blaze the global tourism trail and position it to propel the people and the city into a new economic era.
The banquet hall was colourfully decked and draped with the colours and cultural motifs of the people of Ado who left no one in doubt of the richness and colours of their cultural heritage. While the people waited for the event to get underway, the cultural troupe from Ado Ekiti gave a good account of the cultural propensity of Ado people as they enthralled the audience with energetic and entertaining performances ranging from songs to dance.
The audience was a mixed one, reflecting the importance and historic nature of the world press conference, with a number of Ado people resident in Lagos sharing the podium with their kin and kindred from Ado Ekiti who had come in their number to grace the occasion.
The home front was led to the event by no less an important personality than their royal father, Oba (Dr.) Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe Aladesanmi III, the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, with his olori, Bosede Adejugbe Aladesanmi III, the Eyesorun of Ado Ekiti, and the full complement of his council members, officials and palace attendants.
It was a graceful and majestic event, with the Ewi in his full traditional attire, adding colour, elegance and splendour to the event, which turned out to be a rich and colourful cultural display by the people of Ado Ekiti. For the audience that was thrilled by the rich display, it was like an added pep to plan to attend the festival for the full dose of the savouring cultural bouquet that the Ewi and his people are planning to serve the people.
A display of our cultural values – Adelusi – Adeluyi Speeches were given by various speakers at the event, including the monarch, in a bid by the organisers to win converts for the festival and explain the reason behind the festival. One of those that spoke was the chairman of the festival, Prince Julius Adelusi – Adeluyi, who is also the chairman of Juli Pharmacy. Besides being an astute businessman and administrator, he showed another side of his, which perhaps is not known to many.
The fact that he is well abreast with the tradition and culture of his people, Ado Ekiti, as he backed up his pitch for the festival with display of cultural nuances and lacing his presentation with songs and rally cry for ‘cultural solidarity’ from the people.
He started off by letting the audience know that Ado people are a proud race and cherish their tradition and cultural heritage, which they have laboured over the years to preserve and promote through celebration of all sorts. ‘‘We are proud of ourselves and we have a big city that has existed for centuries, therefore, we have our traditions but the most important of all our festivals is Udiroko,’’ he said, even as he stressed that ‘‘it is a national day for us in Ado Ekiti.’’ With this, he struck at the import of the festival and the reason why the people go all the way to celebrate it yearly, with the celebration of this year’s edition a notch higher than previous ones, as the emphasis is now on giving it a global audience and mainstreaming it into the economic development mix of the people and town.
He emphasised the need for people to understand their culture, as he disclosed that: ‘‘A group of people without culture is a group that that can be written off.’’ Therefore, he implored the audience, particularly the youth, to not only study but to embrace their culture. An Ekiti man, he said is known for his culture and then called for support for the festival, as this will give impetus for the people to keep promoting the festival and their culture. ‘‘When you support Udiroko you are strengthening our traditional values.
Ado Ekiti people have content and our programme today will be the success of the future.’’ A celebration of our historical foundation – Akindele Professor Sunday Akindele is the chairman of the festival planning committee for this year. Although with a petit physique but he has a dashing and overwhelming nature, with a full grasp of the history and culture of his people. He treated the audience to a dose of this as he went down historical lane to present the essence of the festival to the people, stating that: ‘‘The essence of Udiroko is to annually remember the foundation of Ado Ekiti Kingdom,’’ adding that ‘‘it has nothing to do with fetish or idol, all our programmes are recorded and documented for all to see.’’
According to Akindele, ‘‘it is about the historical development of the people and the town.’’
He then attempted to paint the history of the people and the festival, saying that it dates back to 12000 AD and that it is of great significance to the people as it defines their humanity, existence and authenticity as a people.
Therefore, he insisted that the festival is purely historical, cultural and traditional celebration and has no religious or political undertone. It is for this single reason that the people gather yearly under the guidance and leadership of the Ewi to celebrate the festival amidst colours and cultural pageantry as a national day event.
Having the monarch of the town grace the occasion, he said underlines the importance that the people and the palace attach to the celebration, especially given the new spirit of the festival, which is opening it to the world and using it as the bedrock for the socio-economic development of the people and town. Given this, no one else was fit and proper to unfold this new initiative to the people than the royal father, who according to Akindele, is not given to frivolities and not ordinary as well as not prone to travelling out of the palace commonly.
His visit to Lagos for the event, he said was very significant and historic as that would be the first time of his visiting Lagos since he assumed the stool of his ancestors in 1990 as the 28th Ewi of the town. We will create a new impetus for the festival to prosper – Gov Fayemi For the Ekiti State government, this year signifies a new dawn in the annals of the festival as the Governor John Kayode Fayemi – led administration is poised at rebrand the festival and put it on the global tourism map hence it is partnering with the palace to organise and promote the festival. This new commitment was disclosed by the governor who was represented at the event by the Director General of Ekiti State Council for Arts and Culture, Wale Ojo – Lanre. The governor commended the Ewi and his people for their tenacity in preserving and celebrating the historic and cultural festival yearly.
According to him: ‘‘The Ekiti State Council for Arts and Culture has the full mandate of the government of Dr. John Kayode Fayemi to promote our culture as a well as our core values in order to evolve a state that manifest the vision of its founding fathers; this explains the passion and commitment of the council towards a collaboration with communities to transform their festivals into a prosperity instrument for the people.’’
He further stated that: ‘‘Since it is within the compass of our purview to inject critical innovations into the original manners of celebrating festivals in Ekiti, we initiated this world press conference in furtherance of the strategic marketing of some Ekiti festivals.’’
Therefore, the choice of Udiroko as one of the festivals to earn the partnership of the state government, is also informed by what he said to be the consistency, energy and tenacity of purpose displayed by the people of Ado Ekiti.
‘‘We have noticed the energy and vigour with which the Ewi and the people of Ado prepare and celebrate Udiroko annually hence our decision to partner with Ado Ekiti people to rebrand the festival, globalize its celebration, seek marketers for the festival so that it becomes self – sustaining and involve Ado – Ekiti indigenes in The Diaspora as a well as those outside the shores of Ekiti States.’’ Achieving this onerous goal is no mean task as it will take time and resources hence the state governor concluded by stating that: ‘‘This mandate is being delivered gradually.’’
A lift to our history, culture and tradition – Ewi of Ado Ekiti
For the elated Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba (Dr.) Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe Aladesanmi III, the occasion for many reasons was an epoch making one for him and his people. Visiting Lagos formally to felicitate with his people after his first attempt was aborted 28 years ago was a thing of joy and a dream come through.
Besides visiting to launch a new initiative for the festival, which is meant to propel the festival to a new height and open a new vista for the economic development of the people and town, is a welcome development. It was for this reason that he elected to grace the event with his presence to announce the beginning of this journey to the world and personally invite the world to his domain for the festival, which commences next week. He was more detailed in his presentation as he took the people on historical excursion of the kingdom and the festival, which according to him, is as old as the people and defines the existence and essence of the people.
‘‘The Udiroko Festival, which marks the first day in Ado Ekiti traditional calendar is yearly celebrated to continually give a pride of place to our history, culture and tradition as a people.,’’ said the Ewi, adding that: ‘‘The celebration of this tripod of our collective existence as Ado people every year provides the ample opportunity to all Ado sons and daughters both at home and in Diaspora to come together to appreciate God and pray for continuous peace and progress in the coming year.’’
The word Udiroko, according to the monarch, means Idi igi iroko (Under the iroko tree). Therefore, Udiroko, he said became significance to the people of Ado Ekiti right from the creation of Ado Ekiti through conquest in the early 13000 AD. Following this, the people were said to meet under the tree to celebrate and commemorate the founding of the town and since then they have yearly celebrated the festival, which today is assuming a new dimension.
The festival, which has not only become the national day of the people of Ado but a New Year Day for them, is celebrated by all the people from across the world with the Ewi and his council taking the lead in the celebration. According to him, it is a joyous celebration, which is coated in the mode of thanksgiving by the people to God for another year and that it is free from any form of ritual hence the entire community, regardless of the religious and socio – economic backgrounds, are involved in the festival. The festival is a weeklong celebration, with each day before the grand finale devoted to different activities, such as feasting, music, dance and performances of all sorts underlining each day’s celebration. The Ewi promised a colourful, exciting and fulfilling celebration as he beckoned the world to Ado Ekitit to witness the people at play for one week
JEROMES GARDEN AND SUITES: Romantic bliss at its height
For the best of natural bliss and summer offerings, Jeromes Garden and Suites is the place to be this summer to savour rich and enchanting natural offerings at its best; wrapped with professionally enticing service culture.
With its garden – like setting, you are enamoured with the enchanting scenery and serenading feel of the hotel the moment you walk through its gate. For nature seekers, you find affinity within the bowels of the hotel as you settle down to explore its different offerings. Leisure seekers will find it not only fascinating but a perfect scene to explore to one’s fill.
For all you know, romantic blues and natural bliss appear to find a meeting point for lovers to savour nicely put together leisure packages by the management of the hotel.
The packages come in different colours and sizes, depending on the distinctive taste of the guests as the hotel seems to have everything at its beck, ranging from quality and standard accommodation, with the different rooms stylishly fitted and furnished with the best of hospitality gadgets for the comfort of the guests. They all exude elegance and opulence.
While it culinary offerings are delightsome for foodies, especially for those with rich taste and in love with home cooking, with its range of Nigerian and continental dishes prepared by its professionally trained chef and kitchen hands.
The garden area and gazebo offer naturally blissful setting for the guests to enjoy romantic night and even during the day. They offer some comfort and exciting pull for the guests as each gazebo comes with its setting and offerings and can also be made up to fit the taste and dictate of the guests.
The magical elan of the hotel goes beyond its romantic and natural offerings as it also provides a homely feel for business executives seeking for inspiring and calm environment to live in and conduct businesses.
Beside the attractive environment, the hotel has different levels of tailored made facilities to suit high profile business executives once closeted within the bowels of the hotel. Guests will also enjoy cool dip at the in – door swimming pool, which comes with naturally pleasing setting, offering ample sit – out area for guests to unwind after a cool dip and smooching by lovebirds who sometimes find the pool area a good hideaway to explore because of its private nature.
Other facilities/services: Other facilities and services on offer include: Free Wi – Fi, laundry/ dry cleaning, car hire and airport shuttle, onsite parking, 24 hours room service and power supply, security and safety of lives and properties guaranteed as well as luggage storage. Looking for a home away from home with a romantic setting that offers natural bliss, then Jeromes Garden and Suites, located on 29 Oroleye Crescent, off Abel Oreniyi, Salvation Road, Opebi, Lagos, is the home to visit
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