With the ‘new normal’ dictating the way of life due to the impact of COVID – 19, the organizers of the annual travel and tourism trade conference and exhibition event, Akwaaba African Travel Market, is adopting to the situation as its has announced the hosting of the event with some forms of modification. According to the head of atqnews. com, Ikechi Uko, the 16th edition of the event, which has created a veritable forum for Africa to meets the world in its own continent, has planned a series of virtual conferences to mark this year’s edition while looking at the possibility of staging the physical gathering and exhibition should the Lagos State government relaxed its rules on the number of people allowed for physical gathering. But in the meantime, Uko said that four webinar conferences have been planned to hold between September 21 and 22, with focus on the millennial, which many believe holds the key to Africa tourism rebound during post COVID- 19.
“It is said that tourism and travel in Africa lost $55 billion to COVID-19 while studies show that the millennial might hold the future of growth for tourism post – lockdown as they are more likely to travel more, said Uko, adding that: ‘‘For Africa, the pandemic has provided an opportunity for Africa to build a new tourism profile. For this to happen what is the role of the youth?’’ To answer this question, one of the conferences, he said would be dedicated to discourse on youth tourism.
‘‘Akwaaba African Travel Market as part of its annual youth tourism conference has lined up a gallery of young tourism professionals from across Africa to discuss this,’’ he said. According to him, Jamie-Lee Abtar, United Kingdom – based founder of 22:19 Media, will serve as the lead speaker; while Gbabo Laura Dein, business development manager of Akwaaba Travel Market is the host.
The conference is fixed for September 22 while the panelists include: Chiamaka Obuekwe, CEO of Social Prefect Nigeria, Pauline Marere of Miss Pan African Queen Zimbabwe, Ann Mwangi Riansavvy from Kenya, Paul Kosarachi Ukachukwu of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Uwase Aunarite Annie, CEO of Primate Safaris Rwanda, Carmen Imbili of Xceptional Tourism Services Namibia, Sam Adeleke, CEO of TravelwithSam Nigeria, and Mel Tihapi, CEO of Mel Prods, South Africa as well as Miss Tourism Ghana. Also scheduled to hold virtually is the fourth edition of the African Travel and Tourism Conference, which has been slated for September 21, with the theme: ‘Is MICE a viable pathway for tourism recovery in Africa?’ While the Diaspora engagement, which is the third in the series of conference holding on September 23. The special guest of honour is tourismexpert and presidential candidate in the Seychelles elections, Alain St. Ange while Uko serves as the host of the MICE conference. The speakers are: Sisa Ntshona, CEO of South African Tourism, Lilly Ajarova, CEO of Uganda Tourism Board, Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority, Jacinta Nzioka, national coordinator of Kenya Convention Bureau, and Nelly Mukazayire, CEO of Rwanda Convention Bureau.