FeaturesFEATURES: 19th Akwaaba: Meeting Point For Africa Travel Business Investors, Others

FEATURES: 19th Akwaaba: Meeting Point For Africa Travel Business Investors, Others


September 16, (THEWILL) – This year’s Africa Travel Market (ATM) brand ‘Akwaaba’, brought together multiple industry stakeholders, especially Africa travel and tourism investors. This development availed these stakeholders the opportunity to exhibit their products, have face-to-face encounters, and exchange business ideas and collaborations. JANEFRANCES CHIBUZOR writes that the resultant effects were amazing while scoring the event very high.

With the unique diverse nature alongside the numbers that turned up for this year’s ATM, which took place at Eko Convention Centre, Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, there are apparent testimonies of what the future holds for Nigeria’s economy as it concerns growth.

ATM, no doubt, the mother company of ‘Akwaaba’, one of the brands between two others such as Accraweizo and Abuja Jabama, focuses on providing services to related travel businesses across continents.

Mr Ikechi Uko, a tourist expert, consultant and an African Ambassador is the brain behind the topnotch Africa travel outlets. Before and during the event, he completely kept his eyes on the ball to ensure the Akwaaba edition 19, successfully created that conducive environment for African travel business practitioners to interact.

The three-day event with its theme. ‘Building Sustainable Cities Through Tourism’, started on September 3, through September 5, 2023.

The outstanding performances of two gorilla masquerades were one of the event highlights. The spotless black gorilla masquerade; and a very traditional ash colour gorilla masquerade were furnished by the Chief Executive Officer of Wakanow, Mr Bayo ‘Lion’ Ayodeji.

Speaking with journalists at the event, Uko, during the travel expo, which in attendance witnessed about 80 percent of players in the Africa travel businesses, pointed out that Akwaaba was the only authentic Africa Travel Expo.

According to him, the outfit remains the only travel expo without government funding.

To buttress the claims, Uko reiterated that Akwaaba gave an opportunity for Nigerians to engage with the world. “And that is why stakeholders have described the forum as a point where Africa meets the world.”

Describing Akwaaba as a platform designed for leaders in the travel sector to discuss various strategies to chart a way forward, he said “The travel expo is where everybody in the travel business meets themselves. There is no other place in Africa where players in travel businesses meet themselves, any travel exhibition you go to in Africa is dominated by none of Africa, except Akwaaba.”

For the purpose of that, he said Nigeria could lean on two things to boost tourism.

“For instance, it is like when you see how the winners play if you go to watch. So, when we bring the Messi and Ronaldo to play, you learn perfection and best practices from them. The best product here is for our players to know how to market and how to communicate.”

“Nigeria believes you go to CNN to sell tourism, but the real people know that is not how to sell tourism. Face to face, tourism is sold on trust, for me to give you 100 people’s lives and put them in your care I have to trust. And I have to build a relationship with you and the easiest way to build a business relationship is what that is going on.”

Emphasising further, Uko said “I can tell you what one of the exhibitors that participated told me. She specifically said that Nigerians are the best business people that she has seen.

According to the exhibitor, she was able to conclude business deals with so many people, adding that she has never seen business opportunities as the one she observed in Nigeria.

“I have ten passengers. And they would ask” How much is it going to cost? How do I pay you? I want this and I want that. For most domestic airlines, “they see themselves as transporters and they don’t see themselves as service providers. And so coming to where the big boys play, you will understand how the big boys play, which is service is key.”

“Again, you can see Ibom Air and Value Jet that are here; they have high service standards. This comes with how you position your airlines and if you could handle questions and answers here, you can handle it in the airport.

“You wonder why almost all the international airlines have a holiday arm, Ethiopia holiday, Virgin holiday etc. Does Nigeria have any such thing? “So, service has been our challenge and I am impressed that Ibom Air and Value Jet are here; at least, let them lead the charge and let others follow.”

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