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Nazareth: TB Joshua boosts religious tourism

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Nazareth: TB Joshua boosts religious tourism

The echoes and impact of the two days religious meeting conducted by Nigerian globally acclaimed televangelist, Prophet TB Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in the ancient town of Nazareth, is something that people of the town will forever relive given the great boost.
With over 40, 000 tourists from over 50 countries, including Nigeria, the birth city of Jesus Christ was set agog with celebrations on the two days (June 23 and 24), with Nazareth Meeting with popular Nigerian pastor, Prophet TB Joshua. The event was held on the historical Mount Precipice, at the newly constructed amphi theatre at the entrance to the city of Nazareth.
The Mount Precipice amphitheatre, built and donated to the city by Prophet TB Joshua and his EmmanuelTV partners, has a capacity of 40,000 thousand. It was filled with thousands sitting on the plastic chairs provided at the overflow.
The climax of each day’s programme was the prayer line where thousands of people from different continents with different ailments and diseases where prayed for and the prayer and deliverance session conducted by the Prohpet TB Joshua.
The programme was very well organized with tight security and excellent crowd management. The residents were amazed by the huge turnout of people for the meeting as many of them admitted that this would be the first time ever for them to witness such a large and enthusiastic crowd of people descending on tier little city.
One of the natives at the event, Mr. Roger Wakim, a Christian Arab and a member of the Mother Church of the Holy Spirit in Nazareth Illit, summed up the experience: “This is the experience when Jesus was on earth in Israel. He was sent to start ministering at the age of 30. For three and half years he was casting out demons and healing the sick. Deliverance and healing go side by side. Whenever there is deliverance, there will be healing.”
The Mayor of Nazareth, Mr. Ali Salam said the visit and programme of Prophet TB Joshua was a big boost to the city economically. “This visit supports the city economically and some defeated politicians in the recent electoral battle, who are trying in vain for relevance, are now working to impede my work on peace.
‘‘In order to support their weak position, they claim I received and praise those who claim prophecy. If you want to fight for peace, fight with funds not lies and fabrications. The people of the city will not fall into the trap you are trying to build. They love the mayor who works day and night to raise the city economically, culturally, ethnically, and educationally.”
Throughout the two-day meeting on Mount Precipice, there was no protest, no security breach and no ugly accidents.

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Kwara will promote tourism, hospitality industry, says AbdulRazaq

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Kwara will promote tourism, hospitality industry, says AbdulRazaq

Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has disclosed that his adminstration would do everything within available resources to promote and encourage culture, tourism and hospitality industry in the state.
Abdulrazaq stated this at the commissioning of Awiye Memorial Library and Museum donated by Pastor Olountele Alabi Dokun in Ijomu Oro, Irepodun Local Government area of the State.
Represented by his Deputy, Mr Kayode Alabi, Governor Abdulrazaq noted that the library, which was stocked with 40,000 valuable books to immortalise the late Nathaniel Sangodokun, was in consonance with the developmental efforts of his administration to rebuild the state.
“On our part, we will do everything within available resources to ensure that Kwara reclaims its  pride of place in Nigeria. I have repeatedly said that our administration will promote our culture and encourage tourism and hospitality industry to grow in the state,” he emphasised.
The governor listed government’s efforts targeted at rebuilding education and schools across the state to include insistence on National Certificate in Education (NCE) as minimum teaching qualification in primary schools, ongoing renovation of the state library as well as construction and rehabilitation of some schools across the state.
AbdulRazaq disclosed plans to make a part of the State library innovation hub whereby tech-savvy young people could try their hands on new ideas to make their mark in the world of information communication technology.
The governor commended the effort of Pastor Dokun for his laudable contribution to the future of the state and expressed gratitude to the community, urging other well to do individuals to emulate the gesture.

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FRANCISO NUNEZ: Nigeria is an important market to us, BTM a worthy partner

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FRANCISO NUNEZ: Nigeria is an important market to us, BTM a worthy partner

Francisco Nunez is the vice president and global head of CWT Global Partners Network, he was in Lagos, Nigeria recently to unveil the new partnership between his company and Business Travel Management (BTM) Limited. He spoke to ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA in this new deal, his company, travel business, Nigeria and Africa as well as his love for football among others

 

Background

Francisco Nunez, is Spanish, born and raised in Betis, one of the notable cities of the country. He is the vice president and global head for global partners network, CWT, a travel technology – based company, with partners across the world. ‘‘I have been working for CWT for the last seven to eight years, taking care of leading the global partner network organisation for over two and half years,’’ said Nunez of his stint with the global firm. Prior to joining CWT, he had worked for other companies, including America Express for over 13 years, where he worked in the credit card section before moving to the travel section of the company. He operates from both Madrid and Dubai where he oversees over 100 companies in the network.

CWT is technology driven

Speaking on the areas of focus of CWT, Nunez disclosed that: ‘‘We are very focus on technology, we are very focus on innovation, and together with our other partners we are able to bring the solution that we have available to our clients. ‘‘Clients want to have a seamless and consistent experience, they want an experience that is single and simple when they travel. This is our key focus over the last 10 years.’’ On the global network, he revealed that: ‘‘The scope that I look after is over 104 markets, delivering that consistent experience is key, especially based on the clients’ needs.’’

 

Partnership with BTML

For him and CWL, the choice of Business Travel Management (BTM), is a deliberate one that was carefully crafted given the focus of the travel management company and its track records, which according to him, are in tandem with the qualities that CWT look out for when signing a partnership deal. ‘‘It is very important to deliver consistent travel experience that is safe and secured. And driven by innovative technology, I think this is the common ground between BTM and CWT,’’ he said. Adding that: ‘‘I think the timing was right. Here in this market, we do manage portfolios of different industries but not as potentially as much as we wanted. I think that is what I mean that our customers are happy and that is what is bringing us together with BTM.’’ He further disclosed that: ‘‘The interest, I will say as solution provider, we always want to partner with companies that share the same values with us. Everything that we do is governor by four simple values, these are; caring, leadership, passion and integrity. ‘‘So, these four values are very critical and we travel around the world seeking partners that could fit into our way of operating. It is actually not that easy. ‘‘Of course, we select who is our partner very carefully.’’

Entrenching CWT presence in Africa

With presence in over 104 countries, Nunez revealed that CWT, which operated in the market before as Carlson and Wagonit, is seeking to entrench it brand in Africa. ‘‘It is to re- install CWT as brand in Africa that is recognisable as business to business for employer, which is a concept that we have created and we want this to spread all over the continent. ‘‘It is a global brand and we have rebranded and moved from Carlson and Wagonit, it is just CWT. ‘‘Basically, CWT delivers to the consumer great experience, to have the same smoothness of travelling with their travel management company. We invested over the last two years a lot of capital and human resources to actually bring solution that will in the last couple of months, not just for Nigeria, but for the wider spread of our network, this core solution.’’

 

Sight on Nigeria’s energy sector

Nunez does not also disguise the fact that one of the reasons that informed his company choice of BTM is the energy market, which has a huge potential in the country, and with BTM reach and profile, he is sure of having a foot hood in this growing market. ‘‘There is a great opportunity for us in the energy sector in this country, we have some presence and though a much longer presence and I think this is a big opportunity of working together with BTM. ‘‘We are very much into the energy sector because they enable us to keep a constant in real time connection with the travellers, which is the essence of the business to business for the employer (B2B4E) because the customers have travellers, and ultimately their employers are travellers and they come to us all over the world seeking for us to connect their people anywhere, anyhow and anytime and this happens everyday world wide.’’

Nigeria is an important market to us

As a result, he declared that: ‘‘Nigeria is a very important market and we at CWT have a specialised team dedicated to energy resource and marine. The opportunity that we have to further penetrate that market in Nigeria is very huge, and this is where a lot of the efforts are going to be placed in the coming months and years, to ensure that we have a bigger presence as well in the energy sector in Nigeria ‘‘CWT customers’ needs evolve and this is why we are delighted to partner with BTM and is another chapter of our story in Nigeria and Africa. One that we are very excited about, specifically because of the profile of BTM. ‘‘The caliber of leadership and everything that we do in CWT is governed by four basic values, which are integrity, caring, leadership and passion. And so, we seek for the same values from companies that work with us and we believe that BTM has all of those as well. ‘‘I think the travel industry is consolidating as we have seen in recent times and what we strive for in CWT is to have a very strong and stable networks because ultimately, the networks service CWT’s clients. ‘‘So, we rely on the quality of service and the professionalism of the service that our partners are able to deliver to our clients.

We want to deliver top notch experience to corporate travellers

For CWT, Nunez said the focus for prospecting corporate travellers is to ensure that they don’t just travel only for business but also experience the luxury and appurtenances that come with it as do leisure travellers. With BTM, he said his clients are guaranteed the experience of their life as business travellers: ‘‘We look for a partner that is able to deliver a top notch service, and secondly, we look for partner that has an entrepreneurial perspective on business. ‘‘That they are not complacent in terms of how they look at the business. They want to grow the business, that share the passion to really make sure that the corporate travellers get when they have on business trips that is as similar as the one for travellers on leisure trips, with all the technologies that goes with it. ‘‘This is why we as a global technology company are investing a lot of capital in developing solutions that will bring to the customer this travel experience and that is where the concept of business – to – business for customer comes to play.’’

 

Africa is a continent on the rise

‘‘I think everyone is of the view that Africa is a continent that is rising and for us at CWT, our view is that we need to have a stronger partner network in Africa. We have the largest group footprint in Africa of all the other global teams. ‘‘We are in 40 countries in Africa, so, we are pretty much everywhere in Africa. We believe that we need to have that presence because getting energy resources and marine business is very important for CWT. This part of the world is rich in this sense but not just that necessarily because we also cover financial services, and consulting companies.

 

Nigerians love football

On personal note, Nunez, who was visiting Nigeria for the first, admires the country and its people and appeared to have had a long distance relationship with the country. A love affair that is according to him, stoked by his love for football just as Nigerians have strong passion for the game.

 

‘‘I come from a country that loves football and I have always regarded Nigeria as a country that loves football. I am a very big fan of football.’’ He was one of those who fell in love with the former Nigerian international star, Finidi George, who for many years plied his trade in Nunez’s place of birth, Betis, as a player with Real Betis. According to him, Finidi George was very popular in his playing days with Real Betis and was an item in the city, with many followers and admirers. ‘‘I enjoyed Finidi George when he played in Real Betis. He was much loved in the city. ‘‘I am Spanish and from Betis, I was there when Finidi George made a huge mark and it was the best years of his career,’’ said Nunez, who also shares his love affairs for football with Real Madrid because he lives in Madrid, very close to the Bernabeu; the iconic stadium of Real Madrid. ‘‘I happen to come from Betis city, even though I live in Madrid and very close to Real Madrid stadium, I am a Real Madrid fan, but in my heart because of the city that I come from, Betis, I am a Real Betis fan too, he disclosed with a feeling of nostalgia.

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YANKARI GAMES RESERVE Set to regain past glory

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YANKARI GAMES RESERVE Set to regain past glory

Mohammed Ladan is the acting general manager of Yankari Games Reserve Bauchi. He spoke with ALI GARBA on the effort at repositioning the games reserve, which used to be Nigeria’s most visited games reserve

 

Background

Yankari Games Reserve has an enduring history as Nigeria’s foremost games reserve. It was established following a recommendation by the committee set up for that purpose in 1953 by the then Northern regional government, which recommended for the establishment of a pilot game reserve in the Bauchi Emirate. In 1956 Yankari Games Reserve was established, and became the first premier game reserve in Nigeria and West Africa. It has total conservation area of 2, 240.10 square kilometres with about 50 different species of mammals, with over 359 different bird species and seven species of amphibians, 18 species of reptiles and over 350 plants species. But over the years, the games reserve has had a chequered history and enduring years of neglect due to poor management. It was part of the eight national parks of Nigeria brought under the national park service in the early 1990s when the part service was created. However, the state government years after fought for its excision from the national parks and this was granted as it reverted back to the management of the state government. But years after it fell to poor management resulting to it be reverted back to the national park service, which has been granted in principle but awaiting a bill to this effect by the national assembly. Despite this state of affair, the present state government led by Senator Bala Mohammed, has assured of revamping it poor state during a recently meeting with the members of Wildlife Conservation Society at the Government House Bauchi. The governor disclosed that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the state government and the society in 2014, would be reviewed by it for effective service delivery aimed at improving the games reserve present state.

 

What are some of the tourist attractions of the games reserve?

Yankari have numerous tourist attractions; let me start from the gate, once you move seven kilometers before reaching the camp you meet donkey walls that were made during the slave trade era. It is about 136 interconnected walls and the top of the walls reserve water for dry season while the people passing then have to stop over and take their bath with the water before moving to Jos and then East then Europe. We have a museum of natural history where we have on display both flora and fauna species. They represent some of the species available in the games reserve. We have three sections; there we have the fauna section; flora section and the artefact section where you would be able to trace the history of some of the ancient settlements. There is also Wikki Warm Spring; we have about five of these springs but only one that is developed for the tourist. The warm spring maintains a constant temperature of 31 degree. When you swim in it you will spend hours without you noticing you have spent hours there. The other warm springs that are not developed include: Dimil, Mawulgu, Tubga Maliki and Gwaba warm springs. There are some historical monuments in the reserve such as Marshall cafes; some of them are interconnected with a room and parlour. It is believed that it was an ancient settlement but there is no record of the tribe or the people that settled there. Apart from the cafes we have another historical sites of archeological value that is the apparatus ion melting site. We also have Tungan Dutse, it has a design on the walls made by ancient people. Design of animals, design of rock painting, of different plants species with animals such as cats. Apart from the rock painting we have natural historical cafe and it is called the Falaliram Maikogu. It is a big hole which would accommodate about 20 to 30 people and it is believed that there it was dug by a woman, a heroine from Pali District. There is also a beautiful accommodation; chalets for the guests and of different categories, ranging from royal villa, corporate villa, VIPs, Luxury double to studio. Then we also have both indoors and outdoors sport facilities such as table tennis, badminton court and squash hall.

 

What has been the impact of the games reserve on the socio-economy development of the state?

Yankari is alive today in the sense that 99% of the work force are people from the supporting communities, which are Maina Maji, Kuka, Pali, Kwala, Jada, and Mai Ari while the rest are from the three surrounding districts of the games reserve; Duguri, Pali and Gwana. Apart from that, economically, the supporting zone also enjoy the benefit of constant electricity supply from the reserve, and such infrastructure as schools, and clinics. The Bauchi State Government also generate tax as revenue from Yankari every month.

 

People complain about high gate fees and expensive nature of other services offered by the games reserve, what is responsible for these high charges?

The present state government has addressed this complaint as the entry fees, accommodation rates and other charges have been reviewed downward due to this complaint. For instance, the entry fee was reviewed downward from N5000 to N2000 for adults while students’ entrance fee was brought from N2, 500 to N800. While no fee is charged for using Wikki Warm Spring as the charges have been built into the entrance fee. For accommodation then the least rate was N17, 500 but brought to N9, 800.

What is the present level of patronage?

In 2017 we recorded tourist influx of 20,122, and there was an increase in 2018 to 29,215 and for this year, our projection is 50,000 visits. If you go to the social media you will see us all over; on Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram.

What are your plans for attracting the 50,000 tourists apart from the publicity stunt you spoke about?

Before now one of our major challenges was electricity but now we have a standby generator in Yankari through the government intervention. The chalets were recently rehabilitated, with the interior and facilities fixed to international standard.

What are some of the challenges?

The challenges are numerous but one of the major one is media reports on insecurity in the North East and this affects the tourist influx in Yankari most especially the international tourists. Other challenges that we are facing are insufficient vehicles; we still need open trucks that can be used for safari. Although we have small Jeep but that can only take between 10 and 15 people. So we still need an open truck. In terms of tourist facilities, we want to improve on our in – room and our housekeeping amenities, and restaurant. Those are some of the areas that we need to be address urgently.

 

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Wakanow CEO, Adedeji, unfolds company’s agenda

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Wakanow CEO, Adedeji, unfolds company’s agenda

The newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of Wakanow, Mr. Adebayo Adedeji, has unfolded his area of focus, with a commitment to deliver on his mandate and pursue with vigour customer satisfaction, innovation, expansion and automation, as well as deliver more pleasurable travel experience.

Adedeji made this disclosure during his recent inaugural media interactive session at the corporate head office of the company in Lagos. “Our number one goal is to ensure that our customers not only get the best, value – adding travel products and services, but also that their experience is the best it can be, from the moment of first contact, online or offline, he declared. ‘‘This include a smooth booking process, reliable turnaround times, and a quality that exceeds your expectations.

We realize we may not meet that goal 100% of the time, but we won’t stop improving until we do,” added Adedeji while re-affirming Wakanow’s position as Nigeria’s number one online travel agency. Adedeji stated that the company’s; “strength lies in our innovative travel solutions, ranging from Pay-Small-Small, which is an instalmental payment plan for travel products and our value – adding ancillary products launched within the last few months, which include automated flight reminders, airline liquidation insurance, lost baggage insurance, seat selection, airport protocol services and so much more.” For the new CEO, innovation is crucial to delivering on seamless travel experience for their clients, as he said that:

“At the heart of our market leadership is innovation and more than ever before, we are committed to being first to market with game-changing travel solutions.” On expansion and automation, the Adedeji said: “We are committed to expanding our customer touch points both online and offline in order to bring travel closer to our customers.

To this end, we are proud to announce partnerships with key strategic institutions with the requisite spread and network, both online and offline. With these partnerships we are able to serve even more customers across the globe”.

He further revealed that the company would be unveiling more industry-defining automations in a few weeks’ time. Thanking the board of directors for their demonstrated faith in his leadership, Adedeji said: “I would like to use this opportunity to restate that we are committed to serving a growing, satisfied, multi-demographic customer base by consistently and reliably providing unique, affordable, and pleasurable travel experiences backed with world-class customer support.”

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TREASURE SUITES AND CONFERENCES: World-class facilities and services at your call

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TREASURE SUITES AND CONFERENCES: World-class facilities and services at your call

Treasure Suites and Conferences is one of the pace setting hotels located in Central Business District of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, on Plot 66, First Avenue by Shehu Shagari Way, with close proximity to the Federal High Court Headquarters and National Assembly. It is also easily accessible from any part of the city, and about 35 minutes drive to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. As business and leisure based hotel, it boasts well- apportioned luxury and sophisticated facilities, offering world class services tailored made to suit the taste of both business travellers and leisure seekers, especially residents of the city seeking for a home away from home to unwind and savour the best of hospitality treats. According to the General Manager of the hotel, Theophilus Nzei, the hotel is luxury personalized and cater for those with distinct taste and seeking for luxury delivered by the best hands in the hospitality business as the hotel is known for is culture of excellent and personalised service.

 

Accommodation

The hotel has a variety of rooms, posh, with tastefully and elegantly fitted amenities ranging from ling size comfy bed, tea/coffee making machine, work desk and chair, settee, ward robe and safe for personal effects, with an ensuite bathroom that is polished and equipped with freshly minted toiletries; all designed for the comfort of the guest.

Wining/dining

With it on-site and all day restaurant and bar, you are guaranteed the best of culinary treats with homily flavours delivered by professional chefs and kitchen hands. It culinary treats ranges from breakfast, lunch and dinner to munchies of both African and continental descents. It lounge bar is well suited for relaxation and sanctuary of some sorts for one to harvest rich fun and entertainment, with wide selection of drinks ranging from wine, brandy, champagne, cocktails, and mocktails to beverages. You are also treated to live band entertainment and special offers at night hours and during festival periods. While at the pool bar you are treated to such delicacies as fresh sandwiches, salads, snacks, fruit salads and cocktails.

Wellness

The hotel’s swimming pool is well fitted and landscaped to offer you that exciting treat for you to have a feel of some semblance of wellness treat that you will never get anywhere else. It has ample seat- out area for you to relax after a cool dip, with the pool bar offering varieties of treats at your beck. It also has a fully equipped gymnasium, with massage centre.

Conference facilities

The hotel’s niche is also in conferencing and banqueting, with its having in its line up different classes of conferencing and banqueting facilities, all fitted to taste with modern conference equipment and personnel that are professionally trained to assist you maximise the best of the facilities as your conference managers. The elegantly fitted banquet facilities include: Taraba Hall, with a state – of – the – art equipped and has capacity for over 270 persons. Some of amenities are PA system, screen, projector, flip chart and whiteboard; Lagos Hall, fitted and equipped to taste with a capacity for over 120 people and has amenities such as PA system, screen, projector, flip chart and whiteboard. Others are: Sokoto Hall, with well – apportioned facilities and attractive ambiance and has a capacity for over 120 people. It is fully air-conditioned, boasting amenities such as PA system, screen, projector, flip chart and whiteboard; Anambra Hall, sits over 80 people, with rich ambience as well and equipped with such facilities as PA system, screen, projector, flip chart and whiteboard. There is also Akwa Ibom Hall, which can seat over 80 people as well. And equipped with PA system, screen, projector, flip chart and whiteboard. While it has two board rooms of different sizes and fitted for different occasions and meetings. Both can seat over 15 people each and boast such amenities as big screen HD TV, flip chart and whiteboard.

 

Other facilities/services

Besides, the hotel also offers such facilities and amenities as high speed Wi-Fi internet connectivity within the premises, 24 hours room service, out-door catering services, business centre offering secretarial to guests, 24 hours laundry service, and 24 power supply with security of life and property guaranteed. Others are travel agency, car hire services, airport shuttle services and city tours.

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Atunda entertainment, 3D modeling Agency to groom top models

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Atunda entertainment, 3D modeling Agency to groom top models

Atunda Entertainment has scored big in its quest to offer first class and international exposure and experience to models under its grooming as it has signed a partnership deal with one of the world’s leading modelling agency, 3D Modelling Agency.

With this new deal, both organisations are expected to synergise in hunting for talented models from across Nigeria and Africa, with the aim of nurturing them into world acclaimed models through the various channels available in the creative industry globally. According to the Lead Model of Atunda Entertainment, Ogongo, who is spear heading this new move, 3D Agency is an internationally recognised modeling agency, with presence in major countries and cities of the world.

The endless list include: The USA (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami), Canada (Montreal and Toronto), Hong Kong, China (Beijing and Taipei), and Japan (Tokyo and Osaka). Other locations are: Australia (Sydney and Melbourne), Russia (Moscow), Argentina, Chile and Mexico and Italy (Milan, Rome), France (Paris), United Kingdom (London), Portugal (Lisbon), Denmark and Sweden. And now making inroads into Nigeria through Atunda Entertainment.

Atunda Entertainment is an arm of Motherland Beckons, an outfit created by Otunba Wanle Akinboboye, who is the president of La Campagne. It is devoted to the building of Africa continent, focusing on developing African talents in the areas of music, modeling, acting and general creativity.

With the aim of showcasing these talents, which have been groomed under the finest of African culture and creative ferment, to the rest of the world. Since its inception Atunda Entertainment has developed major musical stars and presented them via explosive and unique performances to the world. According to her, it is a new dawn for the modeling industry in Nigeria and Africa, declaring that: ‘‘The agreement represents the next stage for Africans that would like to build a career in the modeling industry.’’

She further disclosed that the grooming process for models to be featured in the programme will take place at La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort in Ikegun Village, Ibeji Lekki, Lagos. La Campagne is world acclaimed African themed resort and Nigeria’s premier resort, where African culture and architecture have been creatively showcased to present the best of Africa.

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November to treasure at The Envoy Hotel

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November to treasure at The Envoy Hotel

At The Envoy By Mantis Abuja, it is a November to treasure as the world class hotel located on Diplomatic Drive, Abuja, has rolled out enticing and fun filled offerings for the month. According to the General Manager of the multiple awards winning hotel, Dewald Kruger, the featured offerings for month are uniquely packaged to meet the expectations of its esteemed guests, ranging from business travellers to leisure seekers as well as event planners. ‘‘Make use of our well – appointed conference facility, private bar or Zanzi Bar and pool area. The only gin bar in town.

Harmattan is knocking at the door, let’s say hello, and good-bye to rainy season. Our rooms are well – appointed, luxurious and located in a serene sub-urban setting, Kruger. Adding that: ‘‘Our talented in- house band Jojo Entertainment, provides a good starter for the weekend. Good vibes for a Friday. Bring your friends, enjoy a cocktail, pizza and good music. Enjoy a classy meal in our signature restaurant, Lami, or have a relaxing drink at Vandos Bar, stocking the best wines, whiskies and much more.’’

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IDA CHAM NJAI: Dine with Ida when in The Gambia

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IDA CHAM NJAI: Dine with Ida when in The Gambia

 

Ida Cham Njai, an hotelier of many years and renowned chef, is the face of The Gambia tourism, noted for her unique promotion of the country’s cultural tourism, life style and culinary offerings, she spoke with ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA of her passion for tourism and love for her country

 

Background

 

The Gambia, which is otherwise known as ‘the smiling coast of Africa,’ is noted for its rich and colourful tourism offerings and one of the promoters of the country’s tourism is Ida Cham Njai, the founder of Yabouy Home Cooking. For her unique blend of home cooking, fashion, life style and cultural offerings, she is globally known and is one of the most sought after Gambians, with her face and products adoring many world’s publications and television programmes. A visit to The Gambia without an encounter with her where she treats you to a savoury bouquet of The Gambia’s cultural offerings, is regarded as incomplete.

 

The country’s tourism promoters are always proud to display her as one of their precious exports to the world. Nigerians had a taste of her culinary skill last year when she participated in the jollof rice competition held during Akwaaba African Travel Market, where she came first, beating others to the coveted crown. Though she was around for the event this year but decided to leave the scene for others to prove their mettle.

However, she was a sight and delight to behold all through the three days event as she graced her country’s pavilion, like a precious model, attired in her splendid; colourful and brightly toned signature African’s attire.

 

I love tourism Ida Cham Njai is not one of those whose engagement with the tourism industry is due to happenstance but rather, she was driven into by her innate love for the industry. No wonder, she goes about her various pre – occupations effortlessly. She is her country’s most beloved tourism face and beloved by everyone that comes in contact with her, especially tourists who cherish every moment they spent with her.

‘‘I loved tourism and that was why I studied it. Growing up I saw the potential in it and so I decided to go into it, so that I can at least play my part in the tourism industry,’’ she tells you with some sense of pride and a feeling of accomplishment.

 

Career path She founded Yabouy Home Cooking in 2008. But prior to that the graduate of Hotel Tourism and Catering Management from West London College, United Kingdom, started her career in the tourism industry in 1989 at the Senegambia Beach Hotel, following her return to the country from England on the completion of her study. Between 1989 and 2005, she worked in different capacities at the hotel.

 

These included: Food and beverage coordinator; purchasing manager; guest relations manager; conference manager; and sales and marketing. During her stint with the hotel, she made quite an impact and was recognised as one of the influencers in the industry and as a result represented her country at different foras, especially trade exhibitions across the world. ‘‘Due to my work I used to travel a lot to represent The Gambia in trade fairs,’’ she   says. With the glitz and recognition that came with the work, one would had expected her to keep at it for long, however, she graciously bowed out to face a more challenging task.

 

‘‘But in 2005 I resigned from Senegambia Beach Hotel to a more challenging job,’’ she discloses, pitching her tent with Mandina Eco Lodge at Makasutu Culture Forest. ‘‘I was the general manager. I worked there for two years from 2006 to 2008. Her stint at the eco lodge was for a short period as she again resigned and moved on to a new terrain.

 

‘‘Because I wanted to start something new in the tourism market,’’ she recalls with nostalgic feelings. Birthing Yabouy Home Cooking Her birthing Yabouy Home Cooking was not also something that she chanced on but rather, it has been part of her as she only stepped out of her routine to give a voice to what she had always done by the side while working for others.

 

‘‘When I was working in the hotel industry, I used to invite friends to my house and they always say that I made their holidays. I do realise that most travellers when they travel they will like to go to the local market and they will also like to see how we live. ‘‘Every time that I put on African attire they liked it and so, I said let me combine these two,’’ she reveals of how today she has become a promoter of the culture, life style, fashion and culinary offerings of her people, giving tourists a whole world of experience of The Gambia.

 

This reporter visited her home to experience her home cooking and cultural offerings in the company of other Nigerian travel journalists in one of his visits to the country. Her home was one of the spots explored by us for the best of The Gambian tourism offerings. Till today, there is not letting off steam as she has continued to attract hundreds of tourists to her home who come to savour the rich culinary taste offered by her.

 

She engages the tourists actively in the purchase of the cooking items and in the cooking as well. She offers some details of her style of operation: ‘‘When people come to me they put on African attire, then I give them the   basket, we go to the market, then come back to the house, cook together, eat together, play games and then exchange cultural values.’’ She has made quite a huge progress with the project, as she discloses that: ‘‘I am very proud to say that in 2008 I started with less than 50 pounds, I started with my utensils that I used at home.’’

 

She attributes her success to the unique nature of her offerings and to the fact that: ‘‘I think the beauty of my product is the personal touch.’’ It is no wonder that she has won the heart of everyone, including the tour operators, who go all out to promote her special offerings. ‘‘Instead of me going out to find the customers, the customers come to me. It is the tour operators who are selling or promoting me,’’ she says, adding that: ‘‘Many of the tour operators used me as a success story for sustainable tourism and now I am being hired by The Gambia to cook Gambia foods.’

’ The Gambia food is the best She regards The Gambia food as one of the best in the continent and that it has a vast collection. Perhaps the most distinct and noted of this repertoire, she says: ‘‘We have different types of foods and we put a lot of vegetables in our cooking but the most popular three are: Benachin (One pot), known as jollof rice and originated from the wolof tribe; Domoda, peanut soup, which originated from the Mandika tribe; and Yassa, which is charcoal grill fish or chicken, with spicy onions and originated from the Jola tribe.’’ However, she doesn’t restrict herself to these three only but offers rich variety of foods and recipes to her visitors who most times find it quite a savoury experience.

 

Dine with Ida Aside of the Yabouy Home Cooking, she IDA CHAM NJAI last year introduced a new variant to her offerings, which is known as ‘Dine with Ida.’ ‘‘Last year I also started something new because I realised that some people will like to taste

 

The Gambia food but are not interested in cooking. ‘‘So, I started with dine with Ida. With this, I cook everything myself and people come with their families to dine with me.’’

 

I am happy with what I am doing She expresses a sense of satisfaction with her pre – occupation, especially given the fact that she is not only the face of The Gambia tourism but has also earned global acclaim as people all over the world invite her to cook The Gambia foods for them whenever they have important events. For all of these honours, she says, ‘‘I am very happy about it because I love my country.’’ She also glows in the fact that she enjoys a lot of support from the private sector operators who are her backbone. ‘‘It is because of them that I am known and very popular. They advertise me a lot,’’ she says.

 

 

Giving succour to the indigents Chef Ida, as many of her admirers and followers fondly call her, has also spread her tentacles of influence beyond Yabouy Home Cooking and Dine with Ida to that of creating a community of entrepreneurs through a foundation, which she founded in 2013, to render financial assistance to indigent people who are into business. ‘‘I am also into micro financing, helping the least fortunate.

 

I give them loans and they pay me back without interest,’’ she says, explaining that the loan has a six month repayment span. She also discloses of plans to extend her field to that of creating a new project where she employs and utilises the products made by the beneficiaries of her foundation’s loan scheme, as many of them produce fresh farm products such as peanut butter.

Gambians are the nicest people on earth Proud of her country, she describes her people as warm and the nicest people on earth. ‘‘The Gambia I will say is the smallest country in Africa and the nicest. We are gifted. Gambians are nice naturally and we love strangers. We love our culture as well. We have nice hotels, eco lodges and we have many other things as well. ‘‘We would like everyone to know that The Gambia is a very nice place and we are very welcoming.’’

 

I like bright colours Though she most often maintains a quiet disposition, almost coming across as taciturn and introvert, however, she is given away by her colourful and bright coloured African attire, which stands her out in the crowd.

 

‘‘I like bright colours and The Gambia is very sunny. Anywhere I am I want to stand out. My favourite colours are red, yellow, green and white.’’

 

My favourite food is benachin ‘‘My favourite food is benachin and it is the best. I don’t know why Nigerians and Ghanaians are claiming jollof rice when jollof rice is from our home, our sub region, Wallof. It is from Wallof and I am a Wallof. So, I don’t know why Nigerians are making claim to it.

 

‘‘You can only find that in Senegal and Gambia,’’ she says with pride. Reminding the reporter that she came tops during the jollo rice competition held last year at Akwaaba African Travel Market when she took part, representing her country. Nigerians are nice people too ‘‘Nigerians are very nice as well. Very open. Because just yesterday (A day before the interview) I got somebody who came all the way just to see me, which is an honour. ‘‘Nigeria is very big and there is a lot that

 

the country can do especially for the other smaller countries in Africa.

 

Senegal is my favourite destination

 

For someone who has travelled across the many countries of the world, you would had expected her to name one of the exotic destinations in Europe as her favourite destination of all time.

 

 

But to one’s surprise, she named Senegal, which is neighbouring country to The Gambia as ‘‘my favourite destination.

 

That is where I go to relax always.’

 

I love my bed

‘‘I love my bed. I sleep or I relax on bed. I love that,’’ she tells you when it comes to how she unwinds and get back her groove.

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Travel and Tourism

Abuja set to host Abuja Jabamah, NTIFE, INAC, Abuja Carnival 2019

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Abuja set to host Abuja Jabamah, NTIFE, INAC, Abuja Carnival 2019

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja is set to play host to four major tourism events, all within a period of one week, thus living up to its billing as Nigeria’s leading city for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE).

This is a big plus for the city and Nigeria tourism even though failure of the city’s administrators, tourism operators and the residents to take advantage of its prime setting in promoting its tourism economy has been a source of worry to many.

 

The four events are namely: Abuja Jabamah; International Arts and Craft Exhibition (INAE); Abuja Carnival; and Tourism Investors Forum and Exhibition (NTIFE) 2019.

 

With these four events, it is still not clear whether the administrators of the city understand the import of these forthcoming mega celebrations on the city, as there is nothing on ground to show that they are gearing up to work assiduously with the organisers of these events in order for the city to reap from the windfall, with visitors from across the country and other parts of the world expected to converge on the city during the one week period.

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Travel and Tourism

Abuja Jabamah 2019 holds November 18

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Abuja Jabamah 2019 holds November 18

The first of the triple tourism outings is the seventh edition of Abuja Jabamah, a travel and tourism trade conference and exhibition organised annually by the organisers of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Africa Travel Quarterly (atq.com), as part of activities to create a platform for travel operators in the northern part of the country to exhibit their products and services and interact with major players in the industry, travelling public, suppliers and buyers as well as operators from other parts of the country.

 

Billed to hold on November 18 at the exhibition hall of the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja.

The one – day event will feature exhibition, business – to – business (B2B) session, celebration of the Top 100 Tourism Personalities in Nigeria and induction of travel operators from the different fields of the sector into the Tourism 100 Club.

 

Also, there will be an exponential tourism activation, with half – day city tour for operators attending the event to be hosted by the organisers of the event in partnership with other stakeholders in the city. Some of the key partners for this year’s edition include the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Cabo Verde Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and the National Institute for Tourism and Hospitality (NIHOTOUR).

 

Cabo Verde Airlines is making its first appearances at the tourism event and Nigeria market. Previously branded as TACV Cabo Verde Airlines, it is a scheduled passenger and cargo airline based in Praia, Cape Verde.

 

 

 

 

 

It is the national flag carrier of Cape Verde, operating flights to West Africa, Europe, North America and South America. It is billed to commence flight operations from Lagos, Nigeria this December; flying from Lagos to America, Europe and Latin America.

 

NIHOTOUR will host the half day tour and also introduce guests to its different training programmes while NCAC will curate the cultural component of the event as Chef Fatima of Abuja treats the people to some of the unique culinary experiences of Northern Nigeria.

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