Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The bold and loud Brazilian Lagos!

From Bourdillion Road, through Falomo, to Awolowo Road, Ikoyi before berthing at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) the colours of the participants at the Lagos carnival 2014, called LASGIDI, on Easter Monday, reflected the glory of the rising sun and the variegated hues of the setting sun as they danced all the way.
As the participants danced, it was endless fun, merriment and time for making new friends watching the crowd that lined the routes and those that found their ways into the 60,000 capacity TBS. Local and foreign tourists were seen dancing to musical vibes dished out by the DJ.
The Lagos carnival, in its fifth year, is an expression of the creative talents of young Lagosians who produced all the costumes worn by the participants as well as the floats and effigies used by the various bands during the procession that lasted  eight hours.
According to Governor Raji Fashola, the carnival represents the real spirit of Lagos which is a spirit of prosperity after prosperity.
The Lagos carnival, which is a beautiful recreation of the age long tradition of Brazilian Lagos as pioneered by Brazilian returnees Emancipados, was given added impetus through a colourful display of music and dance by various groups.
As early as seven in the morning, Awolowo Road, Campos Square, and TBS was already bubbling with participants as the children bands took over the vast field of the national museum for the take off of their street procession.
Over 40 schools, drawn from the six educational districts across Lagos State, participated in the carnival that preceded the adults carnival.
David Oyeniyi and Oyedun Debora of the District One Band were happy being part of the carnival as it has afforded them the opportunity of making new friends, just as they looked forward to taking part in subsequent carnivals.

The adults carnival was bold and loud as the groups representing specific neighbourhoods in the state came in costumes that drew applause from the crowd.
Locomotion Band, one of the several adults bands, caused commotion with its costumes as the crowd was wowed with the band’s innovative yellow and black dress.
The over 150-member band, in replica of the performance that won them the best carnival band, last year, was delightful to watch with their high energy, well choreographed dance steps and bands stripped round their necks resonating beats of the popular songs.
It was not all about dancing by the Locomotion Band, they also came with a message of hope, unity and a thought for the Nigerian child.
The Ikoyi Legacy group, participating in the carnival for the first time, was not intimidated by other bands as it brought vibrancy to the show . Their procession has a lot of interesting and intriguing moves that included flips, acrobatics.
The bevy of dancers in the band, Sunday Vanguard learnt, were choreographed by Segun Adefila who blended the dancing steps of the band with Nigerian hip-hop and other African vibes that created an entirely new flavour.
Other bands worthy of mention are the Lafiaji, Ogba, Ketu, Oko-Faji and Emerald bands. The Emerald Band stood out in their splendid lemon green costumes worn by carefully selected array of energetic, beautiful young ladies who had what it takes to dance.
The chairman of the Carnival Committee, Disun Holloway, who is also the state’s commissioner or Tourism, said the costumes, which gave the event its main character, received enormous attention as it took several months to prepare.
“Preparation involves dozens of gifted hands sketching, designing, redesigning, cutting and sewing all the fabric used. It also includes fabricating sails, head-gears, backpacks, floats and effigies used by the various bands during the carnival procession.”

The commissioner added the carnival is one vehicle through which the creativity and the resourcefulness of the young men and women of the Lagos State Skills Acquisition Centres is exhibited.
The carnival, apart from empowering the youth, is also repositioning the lives of Lagosians in different ways. The venue of the carnival and adjoining streets were taken over by traders.
One of the organisers said the carnival has helped many in several ways. “Can you imagine what volume of business the hotels, restaurants and corner shops in this vicinity would have made today  not to talk of the professionals that have made additional source of income during the duration of the carnival?.’he asked.
The Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke, said the carnival will   further boost the nation’s economy and expose the rich culture of the country to the world, as he calls for local content   in future   carnival organization.
Governor Babatunde Fashola, who was joined by his wife, Abimbola, and Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope Adefulire, used the occasion to reiterate the need for peaceful co-existence and urged everyone to remain vigilant and be his brother’s keeper.
Preceding the Lagos carnival was the water regatta on Easter Sunday at   the Civic Centre, Lekki and Falomo Waterfront, Ikoyi, where residents and tourists were treated to the best of water display of culture, tradition and aquatic splendour.
Large boats  colourfully decorated   adorned the water ways. The men in the boats later danced and rowed to show agility and their prowess in handling water sports.
The Lagos State water regatta is water based cultural sporting and recreational activities put together to show diverse functions of the boat in the yesteryears, from community to community.
The fiesta featured a parade of decorated floats on the creeks around Ikoyi and Victoria Island with the parade consisting of large fishing boats, ferries, barges and other marine vessels depicting social cultural tradition, folklores and occupational aspects of the people of Lagos.
A major highlight of this year’s edition is the ‘Regatta Village’, which consists of exhibition stands, viewing centres where all the activities on water   were for inspection.
The Fun Park and other fun activities for children were equally a plus for the event as they were treated to the best of comedy and music.

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Hamad International Airport opens with touch down of Flight QR7450

Hamad International Airport welcomed a celebratory Qatar Airways’ VIP flight this morning, upon the airport’s highly anticipated soft opening.
The Qatar Airways A320 aircraft, which left Doha International Airport just before 11:00am, landed on Hamad International Airport’s Easterly runway shortly afterwards. Upon arrival, QR7450 was greeted by a traditional water salute and a warm welcome from gathering crowds at gate B3, on one of the airport’s new concourses.
Onboard the inaugural flight to Hamad International Airport were VIPs and other dignitaries, including; Minister of Transportation, His Excellency Mr. Jassim Al Sulaiti, Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker and Chairman of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, His Excellency Mr. Abdul Aziz Mohammad Al Noaimi.
Also onboard were NDIA Project Director, Mr. Bernardo Gogna, together with other members of the New Doha International Airport Steering Committee, Mr. Nassr Al Ansari, Mr. Mohammad Al Meer, Mr. Abdulla Al Muraikhi, Mr Abdulla Al Asiri, Mr. Eissa Al Rumaihi, Mr. Ali Al Abdulla, Mr. Saad Al Otaibi and Dr. Jaffar Abdulrahim. Joining them were Manager of Airport Security, Mr. Eissa Arrar Al Romaihi, Manager of Airport Immigration, Colonel Mohamed Al Mazroui and Aeronautical College Manager, Mr. Ali Al Malki.
QR7450 is greeted by a traditional water salute upon arrival at HIA QR7450 is greeted by a traditional water salute upon arrival at HIA
Following the soft launch today, 10 airlines are now operating fully from Hamad International Airport. These are;
Biman Bangladesh Airlines, flydubai, Air Arabia, Iran Air, Air India Express, Yemenia, Pakistan International Airlines, Syrian Airlines, Pegasus Airlines and Nepal Airlines.
Qatar Airways will move its entire hub operations to Hamad International Airport on 27th May.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “It is a historic moment, not only in the history of our airline, but for the State of Qatar, to see this Qatar Airways VIP flight touch down at the newly opened Hamad International Airport.
“Today’s highly anticipated opening of the new airport signifies to the world that Doha is now ready to open its doors for passengers to experience an airport that transforms the travel experience, and it is with much excitement that we await the move of all Qatar Airways flights to this new facility on the 27th May.”
Hamad International Airport is the world’s latest global gateway and will raise the bar on passenger expectations, thanks to its state-of-the-art facilities and passenger focused design.
Designed to accommodate 30 million passengers annually, rising to 50 million upon full completion, the airport covers an area of 29 sq kms and is 60 per cent built on land reclaimed from the Gulf.
Qatar Airways, the national carrier for the State of Qatar, will officially move to Hamad International Airport on the 27th May. The airline has seen rapid growth in just 17 years of operation, to the point where today it is flying a modern fleet of 134 aircraft to 138 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
Inaugural flight QR7450 touches down at HIA
Inaugural flight QR7450 touches down at HIA 

Monday, April 28, 2014


Qatar Airways’ highly anticipated arrival of its A380 fleet moved one step closer today, with the annoucement that from 17th June the aircraft will commence operations on the popular London Heathrow route from Doha’s new hub, Hamad International Airport.
With a customised interior meeting the high-demand specifications of Qatar Airways, the airline’s new A380s will undoubtedly be the talk of travellers at Qatar’s new Hamad International Airport when the first aircraft enters service.
The first of 13 such aircraft on order, Qatar Airways is set to receive three A380 aircraft in quick succession this summer and the new aircraft will commence operations on the QR003 and QR004 London-Heathrow route.
Featuring a tri-class configuration of seating in First, Business and Economy Class, over two decks, the A380 is the largest passenger jet in the world and will provide a superior traveller experience to the airline’s customers.
The new First Class A380 seat, recently revealed at the world’s leading travel show, ITB Berlin, features a 90-inch seat pitch, transforming into a fully flat bed, together with an expansive choice of entertainment options displayed on individual 26-inch television screens.

The new A380 First Class cabin and a famous London landmark, Tower Bridge.
 The new A380 First Class cabin and a famous London landmark, Tower Bridge.

Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “It is a significant moment in our airline’s history to welcome these aircraft into our rapidly expanding fleet. Operating on the Doha to London Heathrow route, these aircraft, with their customised cabins, will set a new level of comfort for our passengers, who will also benefit from a smooth and pleasant passenger experience at the world’s newest airport, Hamad International Airport, the soon to be opened new home of Qatar Airways.
“We are committed to offering our passengers the best possible experience when it comes to travelling with the airline, not only in terms of custom-built comfort features across all of our cabins, but with the continued expansion of our young and modern fleet.”
The arrival this year of the airline´s first A380 marks a significant milestone for the airline, whose future home, Hamad International Airport (HIA), has been specially designed to cater to the aircraft, with six contact gates designed specifically for the superjumbo. In addition, the maintenance hangar at HIA – which is the largest in the world – is able to accommodate two A380s simultaneously.
Qatar Airways is also celebrating a year of intensive fleet growth and recently becoming a member of the oneworld global alliance network. In addition to the 13 A380 aircraft the airline currently has on order, Qatar Airways is also set this year to welcome the first of 80 A350 aircraft, the world’s newest aircraft, as Airbus’ launch customer. This forms part of Qatar Airways plans to significantly expand its fleet with 300 additional aircraft on order, worth more than US $50 billion, including the Boeing 787 and 777X.
Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 17 years of operation, to the point where today it is flying a modern fleet of 131 aircraft to 137 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Qatar Airways, the award-winning five-star airline, has added an extra benefit to its mobile application, with the addition of a dedicated Privilege Club function.

The new functionality, which comes on the back of the successful launch of the Qatar Airways mobile application last year, enables passenger’s lives to be connected to their full and detailed Privilege Club membership information, at the touch of a button.

This fully integrated application will now enable customers to check their benefits and activities, use the Qcalculator to calculate Qmiles that can be earned or required for redemption, claim any missing Qmiles, cancel any pending award bookings, while also receiving tailored offers to meet their individual needs.

This new line of service allows the Doha-based carrier to enhance its five-star passenger service with value added benefits, as passengers can already search for, book flights and check their flight status, while following any relevant travel alerts.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “We continually look for ways to bring new and exciting services to our customers. Mobility is increasingly important in a world where people may have to change or adapt their travel plans at the last moment. Our mobile application not only allows passengers to have all their flight information in the palm of their hand, but now enables Privilege Club members access to a whole new level of five-star service.”
Passengers can download the application from their respective app stores or by visiting and following the links to the iPhone, BlackBerry or Android smartphone app stores. Customers who have already downloaded the application will automatically receive an update with the added Privilege Club functionality.
Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 17 years of operations, currently flying a modern fleet of 131 aircraft to 137 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Eko Signature hotel , a boost to Lagos state policies- Fashola

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has said that the newly commissioned Eko Signature, a part of the Eko Hotels and Suites in Victoria Island, represents a vote of confidence in the policies and programme of the state government.
Speaking with journalists after commissioning the 166 rooms addition to the Eko Hotels and Suites, Fashola said the new outfit represents a vote of confidence in the policies and the programme that the State Government has implemented towards ensuring that businesses thrive.
“From my part, it represents the vote of confidence in the policies and the programmes that the government in the state has implemented towards ensuring that businesses thrive here, polices of efficiency, service delivery, access to justice, protection of citizens rights, proprietary and personal and I think that security of life and property”.
He explained that as a deliberate policy, the State created for the first time a Ministry of Tourism because of its belief that it is a sector that has not been fully and appropriately measured and its potentials have not really come on stream.
“As the transport assets improves, tourism is all about destination, if you can’t get there, there is no tourism so as the transport assets that we are building road, rail and ferry increase in sufficient quantity, we would see the full impact of these but also as a government we are helping to harmonise the payment of operational cost, levies, business taxes in a way that it is easy and conducive for businesses”.
“The message that is coming to me is that the rates are reasonable but the administrative processes for paying them are proving some challenge. We have harmonized that as a government”, Fashola stated
The Governor noted that the new hotel is a kind of investment that creates cascading opportunities for not only people who would be directly employed there but people whose businesses would be defined by what happens there.
The Governor’s sentiment was shared by the chairman of Eko Hotels, Mr. Richard Herb as he said that the Eko Signature is a giant stride in their commitment to sustain the state’s prime vision of placing Lagos State in the list of recognized mega-cities of the world.
While noting that the peace and serene environment provided by the Lagos State Government created necessary impetus for the growth in the state, he said the company has provided direct employment to close to 200 graduates thereby providing for the well-being of the citizenry.
Indeed, the peace and serene environment provided by the Lagos State Government created necessary impetus for the said growth as Tourism is fragile and it responds negatively to inclement environmental situation.
It is the growth so created and the prospective growth in the Industry that encouraged the expansion of our business by the creation of Eko Signature.”
Richard Herb disclosed that the new Hotel is equipped with the state of art facilities to further enshrine their emerging taste for quality and excellent service in the hospitality industry.

Nigeria lacks consistent, coordinated tourism marketing – Ngozi Ngoka

Ngozi Ngoka, the CEO, Zigona Travel is passionate about the travel trade business . As the Publicity Secretary of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), she believes that the internet can’t take the place of a travel agent.
In this interview, she talks about the travel trade business in this country and other issues relating to tourism. Here is an excerpt by JIMOH BABATUNDE

On the challenges of marketing Nigeria as a leisure destination
Before you can market a product, the product first of all, needs to be properly packaged and branded. We need to develop a strong, recognized and consistent brand and image for Nigeria before we can promote it as a Tourist Destination.
The Nigerian .Brand should be based on our values and build upon what makes us different or our unique selling point. Another challenge we face is that we do not currently have a coordinated and consistent approach to positioning and promoting Nigeria as a destination.
Although we have quite a few tourism initiatives in Nigeria, some of which have evolved without any planning, we need to be aware that effective destination management relies on an iterative and continual planning process that integrates tourism into our country's social, economic and environmental aspirations. Policies need to be put in place to harness all the Tourism initiatives
We currently have, our hotels are not properly rated and strict standards are not enforced. Our airports and transportation systems need to also be standardized. Strategic planning for tourism must be developed and should align and integrate with national and state policy and plans. When all these measures are adequately addressed, we can then talk about marketing.
On in-bound travel into Nigeria
Nigerian inbound tourism is mostly skewed towards business travelers. Lately, however, the Abuja and Calabar carnivals are beginning to attract visitors from outside the country. But these are just a little fraction of our Tourism potential as a country. We need to look at other areas such as Religious and Cultural institutions and see how we can secure and improve on their locations in order to attract more tourists.
On Nigeria participation at travel fairs
I think that Nigeria should suspend further participation in any Tourism expo outside our shores until we have improved upon what we have to showcase to the outside world. We need to channel our resources towards creating and sustaining our own brand before we showcase it to the outside world.
Home grown trade shows like Akwaaba Travel Market, which is held yearly in Nigeria should' also be encouraged so that they are able to bring Tourism buyers into the country.
On what the country needs to develop the tourism industry
We need to develop on our existing Tourism Policy at the national and state levels in order to provide a framework for tourism development and management in Nigeria. In doing this, we should identify the different tourism stakeholders and understand the linkages between decision making and government institutions and the tourism plans at the national, state and local government levels.
We also have to consider other relevant plans such as economic development, infrastructure, environment, sport, culture and of course, transport, tourism involves a complex interaction between all these sectors
Furthermore, strong public /private sector partnerships are essential to providing the tourism industry with the opportunity to influence and inform tourism policy and planning and also provide the certainty needed to encourage investment in the sector.
I am pretty confident however, that the current leadership at the Ministry of culture and Tourism are on top of all these as we are already seeing some changes.
On the relevancies of travel agents in age of ICT
There are several good reasons why you should use a travel agent but the bottom line is that travel agents know much more than you can possibly learn after a few hours of looking for deals on the web.
We are better connected and have access to benefits you can't possibly get on line; and the best part is that travel agents provide you with a safety net during your trip that you simply can't get by booking on line. If you ever had an emergency while on a trip, one can only hope that you made your travel plans through your travel agent.
To be honest, not everyone needs a travel agent these days. If you need a cheap flight and accommodation and don't really care much about comfort, you can easily find that on line.
If you are flying in premium class (or private jet); staying in 4 or 5 star accommodation, planning complicated itineraries with multiple stops, planning complex airline routings or taking any trips using guides/drivers or local experts, any trip to a destination where you do not already know, or any cultural travel or safaris, you would be making a costly mistake not to use a travel agent.
When I say travel agent, I mean real professionals. The best travel agents are essentially travel consultants because it is their advice, expertise and connections that are of value, not the ability to print air tickets for you.
Some of us have become hyper specialized and in some cases like booking a cruise, golf vacation, destination event planning, you will want to seek out a niche specialist. But for most travelers, it is better to find an excellent travel consultant and stick with them, because a big part of the equation is that we get to know you, your likes and dislikes and make suggestions accordingly.
Among the many advantages which agents bring to the table is personal connections and clout. A number of our agents are very well traveled and know a lot of people in the travel and tourism business.
Consequently, we are able to get our customers rare deals at very short notice even when the facility on demand is "sold out". Also your agent books lots and lots of rooms, tickets and tours so the airlines and hotel management are bound to bend over backwards to please them.

On how the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies {NANTA) has been able to protect the interest members
NANTA as a body has ensured that many agents that would have closed shop by now, have remained in business by ensuring the introduction of the Billing Settlement Plan (BSP) into the Nigerian market.
Those of us who have been in the business for some time now, know how difficult it was to be a travel agent in the past, With the BSP, things are so much easier.
NANTA is also working with our relevant trade partners to introduce more insurance companies into the scheme. Last year, we negotiated with our principles to allow our members to choose between Default Insurance Policy and Bank guarantee options for BSP. All these are our more recent achievements.
We have also engaged Airlines , sometimes with the help of the NCAA, when the former have engaged in unfair practices like publishing disparate fares on line and in the GDS's Fare disparity portends a huge problem for our members because our customers never understand why they can obtain disparate fares from the agent/airline office/on line.
We even took our case to the National Assemble, where we made useful presentation to the Senate Committee on Aviation. NANTA has set up a monitoring committee to ensure that all the airlines comply.
All our activities are aimed at creating an enabling environment for our member's businesses to prosper. We are creating a brand that will make our members the preferred choice for travellers. Our brand is now known and valued for providing quality and reliable service.
On fake travel agents and what is NANTA is doing to forestall future occurrence
Yes, we issued a press statement after series of reports had gone out in the electronic and print media about how some "travel agents" had collected money from intending hajj pilgrims under false pretences and was now at large.
We informed the general public that all legitimate Travel Agencies are registered with the National association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA). We also advised the general public to visit the website of National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in order to ascertain the authentic list of Licensed Tour Operators for Hajj and Umrah.
NANTA blacklists Travel Agencies that default on their responsibilities to passengers, airlines and financial institutions and actively conducts periodic checks on all registered Travel Agencies.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Emirates Airline Lands at The Dubai Mall

DUBAI, UAE, 14 April 2014 – Visitors to The Dubai Mall can now connect with aviation like never before, thanks to Emirates airline.
His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group, today officially launched the newest Emirates Official Store and the Emirates A380 Experience - the Middle East’s first public A380 flight simulator - at the shopping destination.
Located at The Village at The Dubai Mall, the Emirates A380 Experience introduces visitors to the flight deck of the world’s most modern aircraft, allowing guests to experience the thrill of landing and taking off from 12 of the world’s busiest airports in different weather conditions. Adding to the excitement, guests will be scored on how well they navigate the aircraft, allowing them to compete against family and friends.  This is the airline’s second such project, having launched the Emirates Aviation Experience in London last year to a strong public reception.
“Emirates is the largest operator of the A380 with 47 in our fleet, and it is an immensely popular aircraft with our customers. We are delighted to present aviation enthusiasts with another unique perspective to the world’s largest passenger aircraft with the Emirates A380 Experience. Based on what we’ve seen in the UK, we believe the Emirates A380 Experience will be a very popular activity for mall visitors as well as for team building activity from corporate groups,” said Sheikh Ahmed.
“By bringing the Emirates A380 Experience and the Emirates Official Store to Dubai Mall, we aim to connect with a broader audience in a high-traffic lifestyle environment and provide them with a piece of the Emirates brand experience regardless of when they next travel,” he added.
Guests of the Emirates A380 Experience will have the chance to fly past Paris’ historic sites, soar over the canals of Amsterdam, and take in Hong Kong’s unmistakable cityscape, all on high-definition screens. 

Just steps away, the newest Emirates Official Store carries the airline’s full range of merchandise - everything from model aircraft and clothing to the Little Travellers collection and travel accessories and will stock the full line of football shirts from the airline’s global sponsorships. The store is the airline’s 10th retail location in the region, and its first outlet in a mall.
Starting as a line of corporate giveaways, Emirates has progressively developed its range of branded merchandise eventually launching its first Emirates Official Store in 1996. Emirates merchandise has grown in both range and popularity, and can be found being used, worn, collected and displayed by its customers and fans around the world. With hundreds of items on offer, shoppers at The Dubai Mall can take home a piece of Emirates as a memento or gifts for their loved ones.
Both the Emirates Official Store and Emirates A380 Experience at the Dubai Mall are open now.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lagos Water Regatta set for Easter Sunday, promises fun fill event

Lagosians home and abroad will once again converge at the waterfront pier on Oyinkan  Abayomi Drive, Ikoyi Lagos on Easter Sunday  for the 5th edition of the Lagos Water  Regatta; a  fun filled water-based cultural sporting and recreational  activity put together  to showcase the aquatic splendour of the state.
According to a statement by the organisers, signed by its Chairman, Engr. Olusegun Jawando, the Lagos Water Regatta is an annual water-based cultural sporting and recreational activity put together to showcase what the various coastal communities have to offer in terms of water sport, cultural beauty and aquatic splendor.
The event, planned to coincide with the Easter, is meant to energize the tranquil nature of the Lagos Island waterfront during the festival and transform it into meeting point of colour, excitement and beauty.
According to the Chairman, Lagos Water Regatta is part of the activities lined up to celebrate the 2014 edition of the Lagos Black Heritage Festival. “The regatta is a private sector led initiative with support from other corporate bodies and the state Government to promote the tourism potential of the state,” said Engr. Jawando.
“The Regatta will  consist  of large fishing boats, ferries, barges and other marine  vessels adorned with colours  and decorations depicting the social, cultural, traditional  folklores and  occupational aspects of the Lagos people. “There will  be a parade of floats and  canoes with traditional, cultural and social troupes from 20  communities of the  five divisions that make up the state.”
Engr. Jawando  added that boats branded by sponsoring corporate organisations and jet skis from members  of the Aquamarine Boat Club would participate in water  racing and perform stunts to the delight of fun seekers.
He then called on private organizations to support the good initiative of the Lagos State Government by sponsoring boat branding and exhibitions to showcase their brand to the millions of people home and abroad.
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Jordan targets Nigeria’s religious tourists

The Managing Director, Jordan Tourism Board, Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat, has disclosed that they are working hard to ease visa processing for Nigerians as they intend marketing the religious sites in Jordan.
He said the tourism board is working hard to minimize the time for visa processing from 30 days to 15 days.
Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat added “we are working on getting visa on arrival for Nigerians as the Jordanian government has realized the importance of the Nigerian market.
Speaking with selected Nigerian journalists during the week in Amman, he said Jordan is blessed with historical, cultural and religious sites.

Place where Jesus was baptised in Jordan

Cultural and religious sites
Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat said the country before now has been marketing the cultural and historical sites in the country, “but we are now changing strategy as we have decided on marketing religious tourism.”
He explained that the Vatican has approved four places in the country as pilgrim sites, “ two millennia ago, the area opposite Jericho has been identified as the place where Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist, making it one of the focal Christian pilgrim sites.”
Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat added that the area known as Bethany beyond Jordan has been discovered between the Jordan River and St.Elijah’s hill.
He said they are working on having 15000 religious leaders around the world to see how pilgrimage can start from Jordan as approved by the Vatican.
The Jordan Tourism Board disclosed that they will soon be having a road show in Nigeria for tour operators as part of their marketing strategy, noting that the direct flight of Royal Jordanian Airways to Lagos will boost tourism.
Abdul Razzaq Arabiyat noted that about 3.8 million tourists visit the country   with most of them from the Gulf countries, Europe and South Africa “but we   coming to Nigeria for tourists as one of the emerging markets in Africa.”
He explained that the Jordanian government has invested more in tourism in recent years, saying “tourism is our oil here in Jordan.”
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Our plan is to make Gambia year round destination – Joof

The view point at the Base Camp at Makasutu Cultural Village

By Jimoh Babatunde
Since 1965 when a party of 300 Swedish tourists visited the Gambia, the tourism industry has grown tremendously making the sector a major income earner, but this is still a far cry from what the government wants to achieve.
The Permanent Secretary of the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Mr. Momodu  Joof, said the plan of the government is to make the country an all year round destination as it is presently a seasonal destination.

Speaking with some Nigerian journalists on a FAM trip of the nation, he said majority of the tourists visiting the country are from Britain and Scandinavian countries, “these tourists come during winter as they see the Gambia as a destination they can enjoy sun, sand and beaches as well as also experience the excitement of a real African holiday.”

Joof noted that this seasonality is not good for the industry as most hotels close down during the off season leading to lay off of Gambians who are employed in the hotels.
While noting that this is not good for the country’s economy, the Permanent secretary of the tourism Ministry said they are looking forward to having Nigerians fill the gap as Nigerians are high travellers.
“Nigeria can help solve the seasonality of the Gambia tourism market and this is why we are intensifying our marketing and promotion in Nigeria by engaging a reputable advertising firm to handle that for us.
“Nigeria and the Gambia share close affinity; we have had Nigerians having weddings, conferences and religious programs here in the past.  They know that the Gambia is safe.”
He promised that Nigerians will have lots to see in Gambia as the country boost of mix of high quality facilities catering to the needs of all categories of visitors.
Joof said the Gambia has quality of hotels that are competitive in the African market, “what else does Nigerians need for holidays?” He asked.
Speaking earlier the Director General, Gambia Tourism Board, Benjamin Roberts, said that the country is rich in natural water ways that extend the entire length of the country, providing excellent opportunities for water sports, fishing and inland cruising.
“The Gambia’s ecosystem also provides a sanctuary for over 50 species of birds, making the country a favourite for birdwatchers from all over the world. Along the country’s 80km coastal stretch, tourists can experience forest parks, bird reserves, dolphin sightings and sky driving.”
Roberts disclosed that the country will be leveraging on the 80km coastal stretch by organising water base sporting competition that will attract tourists to the country soon.
He added that the Gambia remains an attractive destination for visitors, primarily because of its safety, “our people are known for their hospitality and smiles.
On air connectivity, Roberts said marketing a destination is important but accessibility to the destination is more important, disclosing that the government is making efforts to have more airlines fly into the country.
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‘It is never boring watching Dophins on River Gambia’

Rachel Joyce is a Briton who feels at home in Africa. She runs the Pleasure Sports Gambia, the operator of a cruising boat on River Gambia. In this interview with JIMOH BABATUNDE during a cruise to Juffureh and Port James Island, the ancestral home of Kunta Kinte, she shares her travelling experience. Excerpt :

On her first travelling experience
My first travelling experience outside of the UK was Tunisia when I was eight years old.  It was nearly 40 years ago now. Tunisia in those days was a very different country and it was a new experience for me as a small girl then.
It was fascinating and I still remember probably every minute of it now.
On how often she travels
How often I travel depends greatly on work, for instance here in the Gambia, if I travel it is either to Senegal or back to the UK to visit my family.
Apart from that over the years, I have travelled extensively through Europe and extensively through North Africa, particularly, Morocco.
When I was 40 years, I went on six months  sabbatical  and I went backpacking through Morocco , I spent lot of time in southern Spain  and I travelled  right  through Morocco  by road and rail system.
I started from Tangier, went through the mountain area, which was a beautiful part of Morocco. I went to Marrakesh; saw the highest mountain covered in snow when it was 40 degrees.
I took the night sleepers from Casablanca back to Tangier. I visited Rabat after spending sometime in Casablanca going through some villages’ right on the mountains.  That part of Africa is very important to me.
I have families that live there too. I find Morocco very interesting and nice place, with very nice people.
I have been to lot of places in Europe, I love Florence in Italy. I went with my daughter a few years ago and I have been to Milan. A long time ago, I went for my honey moon in Italy, so I spent time in Rome.
On her best destination
Morocco remains my best destination.
On what she travels with
If I am packing, my medication is the first, I need a camera and these days, I go with  USB sticks to store things on, because there is no end to the number of photos to snap.  I also take a luggage scale to know the amount of what everything weighs and sun hat.
I take a little clothing as much as possible.
On what she reads on flight
I read a lot any way. If I am on the plane, I read the flight magazines, I read about destinations I have not been to. Tourism is part of who I am apart from business.
I read a lot of books and do a lot of cross words and so those are the kind of things I take with me. I am not a magazine person. I like reading books as I like to learn from what I am reading.
On her best travelling experience
My best experience was probably again in Morocco. I went up to one of the oldest monolithic stone circles and the guardian of those circles is a wonderful man.  He was there with his wife and son who was disabled and we were trying to prepare a wheel chair or motorized chair for him and trying to find different ways of him to self propel because the terrain is not so easy .
So we devised one for him. It was nice. They were looking after me. As soon I got there, there was no issue like payment they looked after me like their family member.  I think that was a memory I will take along throughout my life.
On her worst travelling experience
It was probably getting mugged in Senegal.  As I was working down the street some guys were following me, I actually knew a guy was following me but in fact they were four. One was in the front and two by my sides, by the time we got to the main street in Dakar, the four of them closed in and that was where I lost my passport, money and other items.
On whether she tries local food when she travels
Yes, I always. For many years I was a vegetarian, but out of Europe I will try the local meat apart from pork. I think an important part of learning about different culture is to experience the traditions that include their food, the dance and their music.
Food is very important to every culture and person and so it is always good to experience the food. Some you will like and some you don’t.
On her best airline
I think one of the best airlines is Turkish airline. It was a very nice experience with them. I have also used the Gambia Bird coming from Barcelona last year and they gave excellent service too.
On the cruise business
From my position everyday is different, there is a different dynamics on the boat by the tourists we have and where they come from. Personally, I find every tour interesting, you find people drawn to me especially the Europeans wanting to know what it takes for another European to live in Africa.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Easter Fiesta Fun at Sheraton Abuja Hotel

Sheraton Abuja Hotel promises a steady flow of fun events at Easter with the theme, “Easter Fiesta Fun”.
From exciting kiddies Easter egg hunts to a lavish buffet meal offering at the Papillion restaurant as well as great get-away offers on room rates, these packages are created to keep customers happy and satisfied”.

The General Manager of the Hotel –Mr. Boris Bornman adds that “the special offers running from the 17th to the 20th of April 2014 are largely targeted at visitors to the FCT as well as Abuja patrons in the sense that people can stay here and experience a fun Easter filled with memories that will last a life time”.
Our special Easter offering consists of great bargains on room rates from N30, 000 to the Easter buffet special (N6, 500) a truly unforgettable dining experience”.
General Manager Bornman says “we have not left out Health and Fitness; it is going to be the best time ever at our Sheraton Abuja Fitness Center with our well thought out Easter Aerobics/Body Blasting work out plan”. “This” he explained “is a map out of Strict but relaxing work out activities which are guaranteed to help you build 6-pack abs, burn excess calories & maintain a healthy body sculpture all for just N2, 000 only for walk-in guests”.

The children” he added “are not left out of the fun. Kids will enjoy swimming sessions, water polo, football, taekwondo and lots more”.
The Area Public Relations Manager for Starwood Hotels in Nigeria-Nanji Tyem also explains “ Sheraton is the world’s gathering place and in this regards our guests will have a range of entertaining options from Barbecue nights at the poolside, exciting Social Hour at the Lobby Bar to themed nights at the restaurants”.
Mr. Bornman on a parting note mentions that “our services have become more personalized as we consistently orient ourselves to the needs and expectations of our clients; much more people are willing to spend Holiday seasons here instead of going somewhere else. Everyone is going to have a great time this Easter, that's a promise."

Monday, April 7, 2014


Qatar Airways has begun the rollout of QLOUD, an internally developed mobility application for iPads, which will provide real time and decision-relevant information to the airline’s pilots. Over 500 pilots have already embraced the new technology with 500 more set to begin using QLOUD over the next few weeks. All 2,500 Qatar Airways pilots are expected to be using the QLOUD system by September this year.
Qatar Airways has been innovatively using mobility technology in its various business functions for over three years, ensuring that its workforce, whether on the ground or in air, are able to retrieve decision-relevant information in real time, and in turn improve operational efficiency and enhance customer service.

QLOUD, a Qatar Airways designed application, provides pilots with real time and decision-relevant information

QLOUD allows pilots to check-in for duty and retrieve important pre-flight information, such as their schedules, flight plans, maps, weather information, details of the crew they are flying with, hotel and destination information and dispatch briefs. This information is accessed at a time and place of their convenience ahead of the flight departure.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer, His Excellency, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are continually investing in mobile technology as a means to provide our workforce with real-time information, when required. Qatar Airways has always been, and continues to be, at the forefront of implementing technology for the purposes of increasing workforce productivity and efficiency, as well as enhancing customer service. We have already rolled out an internally developed iPad-based mobility application called QRUISE for our cabin crew which has been extremely successful.”
QLOUD also provides Qatar Airways pilots with easy access to operational documentation. Hard copies of flight operational manuals and regulatory documentation, which can easily run into thousands of pages, will become obsolete as soft copies will be made available on the iPads. Updates to these documents will be completed automatically by distributing relevant operational manuals and updates to all the pilots through QLOUD programming, which includes acknowledgment of receipt from the pilot. In addition, all the paper-based forms, which were being filled out manually by pilots, have been replaced with electronic forms as part of QLOUD.
QLOUD also aids pilots in scheduling their training, keeping track of their certification and fully supports eLearning. The platform provides easy access to all corporate applications required by pilots, including their email, providing everything needed by the flight crew community on a single device wherever and whenever they need it.
With Aviation Authorities approving iPads for use in the aircraft deck, Qatar Airways intends to enhance QLOUD to supplement and support on-board Electronic Flight Bag technology.

Emirates launches ‘The Emirates App’ to connect globalistas to new experiences

 Emirates airline has increased its mobile presence with the launch of the Emirates App for iPad on the global App Store. 
Travel aficionados and those curious about the world, can now explore over 130 Emirates destinations on six continents, and learn more about Emirates’ world-class services at a tap of a finger. Customers can directly download the App or visit the App Store and search for ‘Emirates’.
The Emirates App for iPad also makes it even easier for Emirates customers to manage every aspect of their booking, whether on the road, in the air or in the comfort of their homes.  They can book flights, select seats and meals, manage their Emirates Skywards frequent flyer accounts, check in online, and download their boarding pass directly from the app, amongst other features. 

Personal flight details, product and service information are stored in the app, so users can view it offline too.
“The Emirates App was designed for today’s new tribe of global travellers – what we term “globalistas” – who are curious about the world, are mobile and digitally connected, and expect simplicity at their fingertips,” said Patrick Brannelly, Emirates’ Vice President, Corporate Communications, Marketing and Brand, Product, Publishing, Digital and Events.
“In some markets, we already see about 20 per cent of visitors to using iPads, and our customers are increasingly using their iPads and mobile devices to book and manage their travel. The Emirates App has been designed to make this process even easier, faster and significantly more convenient, and many more enhancements are already in development. We first launched The Emirates App in the UAE Apple store, our home market, a couple of weeks ago and the response has been tremendously positive. We are now working to make the App available on the iPhone and Android, and will be introducing many new features in the coming months.”
With The Emirates App, users can:
·         Book flights and view their personal travel itinerary on the go.
·         Manage every aspect of their booking, from seat selection to dietary requirements. This feature is particularly useful for our frequent flyers who can see all of their future trips in one place – and for personal assistants who plan their manager’s travel.
·         Download their boarding pass directly to their iPad ready to print, send it to their phone via SMS or email to use it as a digital boarding pass. 
·         Have fun viewing the exact position of Emirates flights on an interactive ‘Live Flights’ map and set alerts to track a flight's status.
·         Explore the Emirates experience - from the award-winning ice inflight entertainment and fine dining, to the signature A380 Onboard Lounge and Shower Spa.
·         Book complimentary Chauffeur-drive service for First Class and Business Class travellers and find out more about Emirates’ exclusive lounges around the world.
·         Explore over 130 destinations with quick and handy guides.
·         Register for Emirates Skywards membership through the app. Start collecting Skywards Miles as they fly, view their balance and history and use their Miles to pay for flights and upgrades.