Monday, December 30, 2013

Gambia needs more investment to attract tourists - Lombardo

 By JIMOH BABATUNDE


The miles of empty white sand beaches of the Gambia attract tourists from around the globe seeking rest and relaxation. To complement the country's numerous unspoiled beaches is Kairaba Beach hotel.
The General Manager of the luxurious five-star hotel, Gerard Lombardo, in this interview shares his experience at Kairaba Beach hotel and what makes the hotel thick.
Here is an excerpt.

On how he joined the hotel industry?

A friend of mine who was already working in a hotel made it sound exciting, I gave it a try and loved it immediately after my baccalaureate in hotel management from a French school.

On challenges he has faced

 Definitely, there are lots of daily challenges, as a hotel is similar to a small city, running 24/7 with all sort of trades being represented.

Having worked here for over six years, those tremendous challenges have all become a motivation factor to always improve on our standards.

On hopes and aspirations for Kairaba hotel

Being the flagship of the Gambian hotel industry, We want to see the hotel being the most recognised hotel in West Africa.

The Kairaba Hotel offers a unique atmosphere of relaxation and comfort in which to rest and unwind in complete comfort. The ambiance of Kairaba oozes serenity and tranquillity.
In the middle of 40 acres of lush tropical gardens and miles of pristine sandy beaches, it is the perfect location to put the hectic pace of everyday life behind you and enjoy a place of peace and beauty.
All our rooms offer an exceptionally high standard of comfort and overlook both the ocean and the beautiful natural landscaped gardens surrounding the crystal-clear pools.
Whether tourists are here solely for pleasure or taking advantage of the hotel's large and fully equipped conference facilities, guests will be pleased with the hospitality and friendliness of our local and international staff.

On having a say in the direction of the hotel

I do have a say much as the General Manager, but I always consult with my associates. An hotel in the class of Kairaba cannot be run as a one man show.

On what   Kairaba hotel has brought  to the hospitality industry in Gambia.
The Kairaba is the flagship hotel of the Gambia. It has helped in building a reputation of a world class destination to tourists but also to international events, conferences, seminars.
The confidential. Services offered to our guests are similar and sometimes superior than those offered by similar hotels around the world.
People come to the Kairaba Hotel to relax and unwind. That is why our guests keep returning. Sixty percent of our clients have been here before and have come back.
It not uncommon to find many of them enjoying a cocktail by the pool or strolling in the gardens before going to eat at the resort’s renowned restaurants.
After sumptuous meals, long walks on the beach and many hours by the pool, many guests want an added bit of pampering.

On highlights working in the hotel

Many VIP stayed with us such as President of countries, ministers, artists, and other high profile personalities. We have held prestigious events, fashion show, all shown on foreign television channels. We also have had accolades and awards as the best hotel in the Gambia during the past 6 years.

On where he relaxes outside the hotel

At friend’s home (I reside in the hotel), on the beach, or in another hotel!

On a message to the hospitality industry about Gambia

Improve the standards, invest in the hotel and we will be able to attract a clientèle that will spend more.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rivers Agog for festival



The Director-General, Rivers State Tourism Development Agency (RSTDA), Dr. Sam Dede, has assured Nigerians and international tourists of their safety as the Port Harcourt Carnival (CARNIRIV 2013) began yesterday with the Kids’ Carnival.
Dr. Dede assured participants all over the world of the readiness of the government and people of Rivers State to host them to another glamorous cultural and tourism fiesta in Port Harcourt.
He said everything was ready from the preparation of the venues for all the lined-up events to the confirmation of international guest artistes and their Nigerian counterparts. Besides, he said all the logistics such as the construction of booths and stages for specific events across locations as well as musical equipment and sound gadgets were also in place.
Dede added that other critical success factors like traffic management, emergency and ambulance service, security and uninterrupted electricity at designated event venues had been taken care of, as part of plans to ensure a hitch-free CARNIRIV this year.

‘‘We began to prepare well ahead of this year’s Green World Edition of CARNIRIV because of the importance the Rivers State and indeed Rivers people attach to the carnival. As the days were counting down, we ensured that every person and groups that we had assigned certain responsibilities did what was expected so that we can all make CARNIRIV 2013 a long-lasting experience for the participants. I am glad to inform attendees that this year’s CARNIRIV will kick-start on Sunday, December 15’’, Dede declared.

Preparations for the Port Harcourt Carnival (CARNIRIV 2013) have gone upbeat as various groups from the 23 local government areas of the state conducted their final rehearsals during the week.

In the same manner, facelift and environmental enhancement of venues that have been designated to host specific events have been carried out to create nice ambience for the participants. For instance, the Liberation Stadium, which also doubles as the ‘Carnival Village’ and host centre of most of the events, has undergone tremendous transformation in preparation for the carnival.
Among the events that will take place at the stadium are Kids’ Carnival, CARNIRIV official opening ceremonies, Dance of Fireflies (DOFF), Cultural Arts Exhibition, Egelege: Champions of the Sand Arena, Ekere: Rhythm of the Tribes, HOSH Jam: Port Harcourt Exclusive, Black Africa Music Festival (BAMFest), Reggae 360 and the World Peace Concert/closing ceremonies.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Eko Hotels sign N2.5bn Signature




An  additional 171 suites, that is estimated to have cost N2.5 billion, has been added  by the  owners of the Eko Hotel & Suites to its existing 654 suites.
The new building called  Eko Signature is close to the old Eko Hotel building and shares the same border with the popular Eko Convention Center.
The head of Sales and Marketing, Eko Hotel, Iyadunni Gbadebo, who conducted  travel journalists round the property disclosed that the Eko Signature affords a brand new experience of sophistication.
“With a bold contemporary style and 171 exquisitely furnished 5 star suites, every detail has been designed and created to relax and indulge senses. Each room has an elegant yet modern setting, with a contemporary European touch.
It is tastefully designed and furnished with the professional executives and guests in mind as our suites embody elegance.”
Explaining that that Eko Hotels group consistof Eko Hotels, Eko Suites, Eko Gardens and Eko Signature, she said that Eko Signature recently started improving on existing facilities at the premises.
"The idea is to make Eko Hotels a one-stop hotel destination in Africa that can compete with similar establishments globally.
"We have 654 rooms available at Eko Hotels and with the 171 rooms added at Eko Signature to give us a total of 825 rooms and this will give us competitive edge over other hotels in Africa."
She said that improvement of facilities was in line with customers’ demand and to meet up with the growing market.
"We are committed to delivering excellent services to customers and investing on unique products.
"Our objective is to take the hotel to the highest level. We believe in the future of the hotel and the Nigerian market," she said.
Gbadebo said that aside from the new 171 rooms, the hotel had other facilities like a bar, six meeting rooms, butler service, room service, spa and library.
The director said that the workers were well trained to understand the business environment and to offer excellence services to guests.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Emirates commission Nigerian tour operators

By Jimoh Babatunde

As a way of consolidating on the growing numbers of Nigerians visiting the United Arab Emirates, the leisure arm of the Emirates Airline, has concluded plans to commissioned four Nigeria tour operators to packaged exclusive tours to the emirates.
Emirates Airline’s Manager for West Africa, Manoj Nair, who disclosed this in a chat with journalists in Lagos recently, said the airline is committed to offering their   customers the highest standard of product and consistent service delivery as Dubai has become one of the world leading destinations.
He said Emirates airline has contributed to make the Emirates what it is today as a top tourist destination as the airline  offers flights to Dubai from more than 130 destinations around the world and  operating the very latest aircraft with the very best service on board.
Manoj Nair disclosed that the commissioned agents in Nigeria through Emirates Holidays will offer Nigerians easy and enjoyable holidays. “Nigerians will be able to experience the best in everything, from fine dining and nightlife to sightseeing and sport, through to world class boutiques and businesses.
“With overflowing malls, world-class businesses and sophisticated haunts, it’s a truly international oasis that attracts entrepreneurs, adventurers and pleasure-seekers alike.
- See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/12/emirates-commission-nigerian-tour-operators/#sthash.89lWmzOj.dpuf

As a way of consolidating on the growing numbers of Nigerians visiting the United Arab Emirates, the leisure arm of the Emirates Airline, has concluded plans to commissioned four Nigeria tour operators to packaged exclusive tours to the emirates.
Emirates Airline’s Manager for West Africa, Manoj Nair, who disclosed this in a chat with journalists in Lagos recently, said the airline is committed to offering their   customers the highest standard of product and consistent service delivery as Dubai has become one of the world leading destinations.
He said Emirates airline has contributed to make the Emirates what it is today as a top tourist destination as the airline  offers flights to Dubai from more than 130 destinations around the world and  operating the very latest aircraft with the very best service on board.
Manoj Nair disclosed that the commissioned agents in Nigeria through Emirates Holidays will offer Nigerians easy and enjoyable holidays. “Nigerians will be able to experience the best in everything, from fine dining and nightlife to sightseeing and sport, through to world class boutiques and businesses.
“With overflowing malls, world-class businesses and sophisticated haunts, it’s a truly international oasis that attracts entrepreneurs, adventurers and pleasure-seekers alike.
- See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/12/emirates-commission-nigerian-tour-operators/#sthash.89lWmzOj.dpuf
As a way of consolidating on the growing numbers of Nigerians visiting the United Arab Emirates, the leisure arm of the Emirates Airline, has concluded plans to commissioned four Nigeria tour operators to packaged exclusive tours to the emirates.
Emirates Airline’s Manager for West Africa, Manoj Nair, who disclosed this in a chat with journalists in Lagos recently, said the airline is committed to offering their   customers the highest standard of product and consistent service delivery as Dubai has become one of the world leading destinations.
He said Emirates airline has contributed to make the Emirates what it is today as a top tourist destination as the airline  offers flights to Dubai from more than 130 destinations around the world and  operating the very latest aircraft with the very best service on board.
Manoj Nair disclosed that the commissioned agents in Nigeria through Emirates Holidays will offer Nigerians easy and enjoyable holidays. “Nigerians will be able to experience the best in everything, from fine dining and nightlife to sightseeing and sport, through to world class boutiques and businesses.
“With overflowing malls, world-class businesses and sophisticated haunts, it’s a truly international oasis that attracts entrepreneurs, adventurers and pleasure-seekers alike.
- See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/12/emirates-commission-nigerian-tour-operators/#sthash.89lWmzOj.dpuf

Abuja carnival: Nigerians decry low turnout



Abuja carnival: Nigerians decry low turnout

… call for proper funding
BABATUNDE JIMOH & CALEB AYANSINA
Unprecedented crowd in the past used to line up the carnival routes of Abuja city to catch glimpse of the best of Nigeria culture on parade during the annual Abuja carnival that was initiated by Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime to promote Nigeria tourism.
But that  crowd was missing this year as the 9th edition of the Abuja Carnival took place in the nation’s capital with less than 20 states of the federation participating.
As the contingents marched through the carnival routes in well cut-to-fit costumes, exciting gyration, fantastic colours and sparkling steel drums, there was handful of Nigerians and foreign tourists on hand to part take in the festival aimed at creating a platform for the 100 years commemoration of the amalgamation of Nigeria’s Northern Protectorate and Southern Protectorate by the then British Governor, Sir Lord Lugard in 1914.
In the past editions of the carnival, the participating states showcased many innovations to the delight of Nigerians and foreigners, who danced unhindered through the length and breadth of Abuja.
It  was  ironical that  the number of  states that participated had dropped from the thirty five states  that took part in the first edition  to  less than twenty  in this year’s edition with the theme “ A People for a Century, A People Forever”
Declaring the Carnival open in Abuja, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, noted that this year celebration was special because it spiced up 100 years of amalgamation of Nigeria as an indivisible nation.
He said: “The convergence of the 36 states of the Federation and the pursuance of this carnival as a common goal is therefore a symbolic demonstration of the ties that bind us together as a people and the vigour with which we have maintained our unity for a century in spite of the challenges of nation-building”.
The low turn out of the crowd did not stop the  participating states  from parading the  selected routes  from Old Parade Ground, Festival Road and Independence Road in a colourful street parade  before moving into the Eagles square to entertain dignitaries.
The crowd of people and invited dignitaries that had waited patiently all the day for the cultural floats where treated to different cultural offerings by the participating states and foreign countries, which each state interpreting the theme of the carnival in terms of their dance choreography, costumes, dance styles and movements, floats and music to suit their tempo and mood as the ceremony unfolded.
Some of the participants called on the Federal Government to ensure proper sensitization of the public before holding subsequent Abuja Carnival.
Those who spoke under condition of unanimity said that poor publicity had over the years hindered the growth of the event.
Mr.  Bala Shuaib, an Abuja resident, disclosed that the carnival could generate a lot of money if handled properly.
“Since the inception of the carnival, we just wake up to see the street blocked without prior information. This has always been the problem. It is high time things are done the right way.’’
For Nigerians and some selected countries, the Durbar and the Boat regatta events   will remain indelible in their minds as some northern states, particularly Niger and Kaduna, tried to out do one another with the large contingents of horses, camels and elephant.
The Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, who witnessed the Durbar as a great celebration, which has survived since the colonial era to become a cultural tourism event being celebrated today across the country as one of the nation’s cultural icons.
The boat regatta remained an indispensable event of the carnival as riverian states compete with each other at the Jabi Lake, venue of the event.
Kogi, Taraba, Rivers, Bayelsa and Anambra that participated in the competition displayed their skills and dexterity in boat handling under high speed to the delight of the crowd.
Other events that could have been used to project the country’s tourism properly were the traditional cuisine, traditional hairdo and masquerade.
Nigeria has a rich and unique masking tradition which dates back to centuries of its evolutions. Masquerades are found in virtually all communities in the country and are seen as spirits which represents the communication links between the living and the dead.
When confronted with the low turn out  at the events, one of the organizers said  the Minister for Tourism Edem Duke, can not be held responsible  for the lack of  publicity as the budget for the  festival was not released few days to the  opening.
“How do you want the planning committee to perform without money? We just pray and hope that the promises made by the executive and the legislature to support the festival will be fulfilled next year.
The member added “ Tambuwal  said the Abuja carnival has created awareness, national understanding, social appreciation, and national co-habitation…Therefore,  they will  continue to support it in every way possible in order for it to boost the socio-cultural and economic development of the country, as it has proved a potent force for good over the years.”