As preparations for this year’s edition of the annual travel and tourism trade conference and exhibition, Akwaaba African Travel Market, intensify, organisers have unveiled some of the notable guests and speakers for the event, which is scheduled to hold at the Eko Hotel and Suites on Victoria Island, Lagos between November 29 and 30.
According to Ikechi Uko, who heads the organising team, the travel market, which is in its 17th year and is expected to open to limited participants as a result of the COVID – 19 pandemic regulation, will have as special guest of honour the publisher of the Guardian Newspapers, Lady Maiden Alex – Ibru, who will formally declared open the event. Others are the Director General of the National Council for Arts and Craft (NCAC), Otunba Segun Runsewe and the Director General of the National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR)), Alhaji Nura Sani Kangiwa, who is one of the top paper presenters.
Apart from the exhibition, which will feature a rich display of services and products across the travel and tourism value chain by exhibitors, series of conferences, including hospitality training session have been line up for the two days gathering expected to be attended by stakeholders in both public and private sectors and the travelling public. Youth tourism session will open the floodgate on Monday with a panel discussion to be moderated by one of Nigerian award – winning travel journalists, Obinna Emelike of Businessday Newspaper while the panelists include: Chiamaka Obuekwe, CEO of Social Prefect Tours, Bolaji Seun of Naija Explorers, Dr. Onifade Adekunle Eedris of Universal Aviation School, Aminat Akanbi, CEO of Triplisters, Cordis Marianuela Umeokoli, CEO of Mardis Travels, Sam Adeleke of TravelwithSamGlobal and Olugbenga Sunday Omotayo, promoter of Idere Hills in Oyo State. The second panel for the day will be on; Outbound Tours and Travel Tears, highlighting the challenges of tour operators in handling international tours. The panelists include the President of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, David Lamidi, co-founder, Diamond and Pearl Travels, Shalom Asuquo-Ankoh, Travel Lab, Cecile Doumbe of CMD Tours, Odion Chigbufue of Tour Brokers International, Egbane Pelagie, chief experience curator of 3Cords Leisure and Vacation and Gbenga Onitilo of Wakanow while the session will be moderated by the Vice President of Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) and Lagos Coordinator of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), Ime Udo.
The day’s activities will conclude with a training session, which is the second batch of the Nigerian Tourism Specialist Certificate Course (NTSC). The training is in conjunction with NIHOTOUR. The second day activities will be heralded by Hospitality Day, with a number of topics for discussion, including a special presentation by Kangiwa on; How to scale hospitality training to meet international standards.
The panel members include: Tana Forsuelo of Wavecrest, Victor Kayode of Nigerian Hotel and Catering Institute (NHCI) and Justina Ovat, president, Women in Hospitality Nigeria while Amaechi Ndili, president, Golden Tulip Hotels, West Africa, will speak on; The role of hotels in the leisure economy and tourism recovery. The Chairman of FTAN’s Board of Trustees, Chief Samuel Alabi, will speak on; The limits of state regulation of tourism and hospitality Businesses”.
While the First Deputy President of FTAN, Alhaji Aliyu Badaki, will speak on; State registration and classification of hotels: The journey so far. Professor Wasiu Babalola, who is the senior vice president for Africa, Continent Worldwide Hotels, Eric Anderson, Commissioner for Tourism, Cross River State, Ini Akpabio, chairman, Akwa Ibom Hotel and Tourism Board and Princess Adenike Adedoyin, permanent secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
The Top 20 Natural Wonders of Nigeria by the team of Naija7wonders will be unveiled on the second day of the event by Princess Surah Animashaun, chairperson of Epe Local Government Area, Lagos State, Piriye Kiriyamo, and President of FTAN, Nkereuwem Onung.
As part of add – on value for local delegates attending the event, the organisers said that they will be hosted on December 1 to the opening ceremony of the Greater Lagos Fiesta by Lagos State government while the international delegates will be guests at the Annual African Movie Academy Awards, AMAA, holding on November 28, a day to the formal opening of Akwaaba.