Sunday, May 25, 2014


Final preparations are well under way to welcome more than 1,000 delegates to one of the aviation world’s most significant events – the 70th International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit.
The three-day IATA event taking place in the Qatari capital Doha between June 1–3, will focus on key themes of airline industry reputation, the global aviation skills supply and aircraft noise developments.
Qatar Airways, the country’s national airline, is an IATA member and event host, while other local sponsors include Ooredoo and Alfardan Automobiles.
Qatar Airways will be flying many senior airline executives including more than 200 international media to this important event in the aviation industry’s calender.
Ooredoo will participate as the events Official Telecom partner by providing state-of-the-art laptops at the media centre, LCD television screens to be used at the conference, as well as Hala SIM cards and superfast 4G internet upgrades for the delegates.
Alfardan Automobiles will be the Official VIP Transport partner providing guests with transportation for the entire duration of the event.
Waleed Al-Sayed, Chief Operating Officer, Ooredoo, said: “Ooredoo has a long history of working with leading aviation companies such as Qatar Airways, and on large transportation projects. This conference gives us a perfect chance to not only demonstrate our strength and experience in the field, but to showcase the products we have available for industry leaders.”
Mr. Mohammed Kandeel, Chief Operating Officer, Alfardan Automotive Group said: “Alfardan Automobiles is glad to support the 70th IATA Annual General Meeting in Qatar to draw over 1,000 delegates from all over the world. BMW is all about driving performance and the characteristic precision and performance of the event are values with which the BMW brand identifies perfectly, which makes our sponsorship a winning combination.”

Air connectivity increases Nigeria, UAE trade volume

Air connectivity increases Nigeria, UAE trade volume
… Emirates celebrate 10 yrs in Nigeria

R-L: The Acting Director General, NCAA, Engr. Benedict Adeyileka; the MD/CEO, Goodnews Travels & Tours Limited and the Platinum Award winner of Top Agent

The coming of Emirates Airline into Nigeria ten years ago increased the value of bilateral trade between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E) from 106 million US Dollars at the start of Emirates’ services in 2004, to 857 million US Dollars in 2009. This represents a 710 percent increase in a five year period”.
This was revealed by Emirates’ Regional Manager for West Africa, Manoj Nair, at an event organized to mark the airline’s 10th anniversary in Nigeria.
Nair said the 710 percent increase in a five year period is due mainly to the air connectivity between both countries. 
“Air connectivity between countries plays a major role in economic growth and development, and we are confident that travel, trade and business will continue to grow.”
He explained that Nigeria being Africa’s largest economy now is very important market to Emirates. “Since the start of our operations 10 years ago our services have grown significantly.
Nair disclosed that they started out with a four times weekly flight that was linked with Accra in Ghana, using an A330-200 aircraft, “whereas now we operate double daily flights between Dubai and Lagos with the  larger Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft, and we will soon welcome Abuja and Kano to our network.”
“We are very excited about the launch of flights to Abuja and Kano, as this will provide Nigerian travelers even greater convenience and comfort to access our worldwide network through our Dubai hub, particularly to destinations in the Middle East and Asia Pacific. It will also further boost tourism and create business opportunities,” he added.
The airline used the event to appreciate its travel partners and customers for their contribution to their success in the past 10 years of operations in Nigeria. More than 20 awards across eight categories were presented to travel agents.
In the first category – Top Agent Award, GoodnewsTravels and Tours Limited won the Platinum Award while God’s Power Travel Agency went home with the Gold Award. With the Platinum Award, Goodnews Travels and Tours Limited grabbed two business class tickets to Dubai and two nights in Medinah Jumeirah while the Gold Award recipient got two business class tickets to Dubai and two nights in Atlantis De Palm. Aeroland Travels Nigeria Limited got silver.

Jordan beckons on religious tourists

By Jimoh Babatunde
Jordan holds different experience for different tourists.  The country has long been a destination not only for leisure, but also those interested in biblical and Middle Eastern history.
The kingdom itself is so steeped in histories that to visit Jordan and ignore them is impossible. As part of a team that visited Jordan recently, I discovered that tourist sites like Madaba, Mount Nebo Bethany and Dead Sea apart from having religious significance also happen to be quite beautiful, and at times inspiring, regardless of your beliefs.
The trip South from Amman along the 5,000 year old Kings Highway is one of the most memorable journeys in the holy Land, passing through a string of ancient sites.
The first city to encounter is Madaba, “the City of Mosaics.”  The city is charming, quiet and has an interesting history. Arriving in Madaba, the first point of call was the church of St George which houses the oldest known map of the holy land.
The Madaba mosaic map is considered the oldest known geographic floor mosaic in art history as it is considered a remarkable example of the Byzantine Christian art.
The map, which happens to be a 6th century Byzantine mosaic, was said to have been found while locals were building the church in 1894. The city itself is known for its mosaics, both ancient and modern.
Since its discovery, the mosaic map has been protected by the patriarchate of Jerusalem, which also invited scholars to study and document it.
With two million pieces of coloured stone, the map depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns as far as the Nile Delta. A significant aspects of the map is the inclusion of the areas East of Jordan River and particularly Madaba, although almost part of the map no longer exist today.
It was discovered that the Christian identity of Madaba was and still part of the national identity of Jordan. The belfry of the church of Saint George amongst others and the minarets of the city’s mosques together adorn the skyline of Madaba today.

The journey moved to Mount Nebo, literally minutes from Madaba, whose fame is derived from the Biblical event in Deuteronomy 34, the death of Moses. It is believed to be the very spot where the Prophet Moses viewed the Promised Land in the moments before his death.
It is today the most revered holy site in the country as it was blessed by the Pope in 2000 as one of the sites for Christian pilgrimage. I joined other tourists atop the mountains trying to see as Moses did the vast panorama that encompasses the Jordan Valley.
Due to poor visibility on the day of the visit, it was impossible to see clearly the Dead Sea, Jericho and Jerusalem in the distance.  The Moses Memorial Church at Mount Nebo displays a large number of beautiful mosaics.
Of interest also was the Serpentine Cross, which stands just outside the sanctuary, symbolizing the brass serpent taken by Moses into the desert and the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.
Baptism site of Jesus
Looking at the small and brownish water at the baptism pool, I was forced to ask the Tour Guide if it is true that Jesus Christ was baptized there. Muhammed Kadheer answered in the affirmative that that was the point where John who lived East of the River Jordan opposite Jericho met Jesus and baptized him.
“River Jordan during the time of Jesus was 60m wide, it became 40m wide  when the land was captured  by the Israelis and the water diverted but today, it is just 2m wide.” He said .
The site is Bethany also referred to as the ‘Baptism Site’. It is believed, and some say archaeologically-proven, to be the baptism site of Jesus Christ. This is where John the Baptist is said to have done most of his work and the area has now become a Vatican-sanctified site that pilgrims visit each year.
The area known as “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” has been discovered between the River Jordan and St. Elijah’s Hill. The Jordan River—or River Jordan, as it is commonly called—is one of the most sacred places, both historically and symbolically, for Christians throughout the world.
 Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist and Jesus Christ all crossed it during their lifetimes, and it is associated with some of the most important events in the Bible.  
The river today is the natural boarder between the state of Israel and Jordan. Stationed on the other side of the river were Israeli soldiers.
One of the focal point of the baptism site is the St. Elijah’s Hill, where it was said that he ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire. Findings from the early 1st century AD is said to have confirmed the site was inhabited during the times of Jesus and John the Baptist.
Moving round the sites, the tour guide was glad to draw attentions to the churches dotting the area now. There are the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church, the Armenian Church, the Coptic Church and the Russian pilgrims’ house. He added that most of the churches organize events at the holy sites  yearly like the Day of Epiphany.

As the night was during nearer, we proceeded to the Dead Sea, which is reported to be the  lowest point on earth lying some 400 meters below sea level. In addition to the historical significance of the "Salt Sea," as it was referred to in the Bible, the Dead Sea is today an important and rich source of minerals essential for agricultural and industrial development, as well as for the treatment of various medical conditions such as psoriasis.
With the reported healing power of the sea,  very early the following morning, I joined other friends to take a deep in the water, that deep became an unforgettable swimming experience, as the high density of the water makes sinking virtually impossible.
The Dead Sea is 75 kilometers long and from 6 to 16 kilometers wide. It is fed by the Jordan River, but it has no outlet. As its name suggests, the Dead Sea is entirely devoid of plant and animal life. This is due to an extremely high content of salt and other minerals—350 grams of salt per kilogram of water, as compared to about 40 grams in the world’s oceans.
This concentration is caused by a rapid rate of evaporation. These natural elements give the waters of the Dead Sea certain curative properties, recognized since the days of Herod the Great over 2000 years ago.

Monday, May 19, 2014


2013 ICCA rankings confirm South Africa has stepped up its rankings to occupy its place as the leading business events destination on the continent.
South Africa’s credentials have been given a major boost and have cemented the country’s position as Africa’s top business events destination. The International Congress and Convention Associations (ICCA) 2013 ICCA rankings show that South Africa has gained three places on the global rankings placing it at number 34 from 37. In 2013, South Africa hosted 118 meetings officially making it the number one convention destination in Africa and the Middle East.
Furthermore, two of the country’s cities – Durban and Cape Town – are placed in the Top 100 cities in the world for business events.
“We are exceptionally happy with this announcement. Our hard work and the execution of the ‘Rise with Us’ strategy launched last year is clearly bearing fruits. We launched it to address and change the misconceptions the global industry has about South Africa and it seems the message is being well received,” says Mr Thulani Nzima, Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism.
 “But we cannot take all the credit: This feat would not have been possible had it not been for the truly remarkable contributions of all the members of the South African tourism industry and association bodies. It is their seamless execution of conferences and meetings as well as their dedication to our vision and mandate that has clearly cemented South Africa’s growing reputation in this industry,” Nzima adds.
The SANCB was launched in 2012 to help grow and position the country as a favourable destination. At the time of its launch, South Africa had already hosted numerous mega events and meetings and conferences of global significance which had catapulted the nation’s skills and capabilities into the international spotlight.
“Before 1994, the first year of our democracy, South Africa hosted 12 international association conferences. Fast forward to 2013 and we have grown this number to 118 ICCA recognised meetings. We have also hosted 1 038 international association conferences that met ICCA’s criteria since 1994 and remain ranked under the top 11 long haul destinations globally,” says Nzima.
Some of the events successfully hosted by South Africa include the International Aids Conference that took place in 2000, which the country has won the right to host for a second time in 2016 and will be taking place in Durban. An estimated 20 000 delegates will be in attendance. The 123rd Session of the International Olympic Organising Committee which took place in Durban in 2011 and the World Congress on Intensive and Critical Care Medicine (WFSICMM) which had a total of 10 000 delegates (2013) and the One Young World Conference in 2013 which took place for the first time in Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Many of the meetings and conferences hosted have not only demonstrated the country’s world class infrastructure and capabilities, but have also showcased a united industry and a committed government, working hard, passionately and together to taking this industry forward and in so doing, growing our global reputation for the benefit of all businesses in the sector. They have also done a sterling job of showing why South Africa and indeed, South Africans are highly regarded as experts and industry experts in various industries.
Shows such as IMEX Frankfurt help to deliver this message in a direct way.
“We participate in trade shows like IMEX not only because it is part of our mandate to market our country and create international marketing platforms for the local business events industry but also, and most importantly, because these shows give us direct access to the buyers and key decision makers we are targeting.”
But, as he is quick to point out, this achievement is not a win for South Africa only but for the continent as a whole. It encourages African Associations to work together and collaborate in a bid to win more events for the continent.
“Our success as a destination is made sweeter when our counterparts from the continent win as well. We need to collaborate and unite with our counterparts on the continent if we want to be a destination to be reckoned with on the business events front. The business events markets is vast and varied. There is enough for everyone – but it will take collaboration, partnership and understanding that we are working to unleash the potential of business events for the benefit of the continent, not just our country,” concludes Nzima.
It is for this reason that the SANCB manages and hosts the continent’s pan-African business event tradeshow, Meetings Africa. The show delivers a quality business platform for growing the continent’s business events industry. Next year, Meetings Africa will celebrate its tenth year and is now firmly established as the biggest, best represented and most valuable business events tradeshow in Africa.
“We’re excited about the growth of Meetings Africa and how it brings the best of Africa under one roof. It is an excellent business platform, an opportunity to discuss, network and work on ways in which we, as players in the business events sector, can and should pool together for the betterment of the industry, and of Africa,” says Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer at South African Tourism.
Meetings Africa 2015 takes place from 23 – 25 February at the Sandton Convention Centre. The SANCB is currently participating at the IMEX Frankfurt exhibition.


Qatar Executive, the corporate jet division of the Qatar Airways Group, announced today, it will add another new ultra-long haul Bombardier Global 5000 Vision to its modern fleet in July – just in time to cater for the increased demand for private jet travel during the traditionally busy summer season.
The announcement one day prior to the opening of Europe’s leading business aviation show EBACE in Geneva, where Qatar Executive is exhibiting with a dedicated stand (booth number 415), follows shortly after the operator’s recent acquisition of a brand-new Bombardier Global Vision at the end of 2013.
The new delivery will bring up Qatar Executive’ fleet size to a total of eight wholly-owned aircraft, comprising of four Global 5000s – among them two Global 5000 Visions – three Challenger 605s and one Global XRS.
To cater for the surge in private jet travel in the region and worldwide as well as following the exceptional response Qatar Executive received from customers towards its first Global 5000 Vision, the operator has taken swift measues to expand its fleet with yet another similar state-of-the-art business jet.
Built to please the most discerning customers, Qatar Executive’s new Bombardier Global 5000 Vision with its ultra-long range, superior cabin comfort and cutting-edge technology is proving very popular.
With a flying speed of up to 950km per hour, and range of up to 9,260km, the aircraft is capable of flying virtually anywhere in the world to many intercontinental destinations non-stop from Doha and other points in the Middle East without having to stop for refuelling, ensuring a hassle-free and time-saving experience.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, who also heads up the airline’s corporate jet division said: “The Bombardier Global 5000 Vision is the private jet of choice for today’s travelling elite. With its extended range, maximum comfort levels and state-of-the-art technology, our latest aircraft caters perfectly to the requirements of leaders, who need to be connected to their global businesses around the world in the shortest amount of time.”
David Edwards, Executive Vice President of Qatar Executive further added: “With the recent deliveries of our Global 5000 jets we are well-positioned to accommodate increased demand during the busy summer travel season and we look forward to serving our customers with this enhanced product offering.”

The new Global 5000 Vision’s elegant design, unsurpassed performance and class-topping cabin size provides passengers with more living comfort and working space than any other jet in its class.
The highly-optioned Bombardier Global 5000 Vision features a spacious two cabin configuration with a separate galley, and can accommodate up to 13 passengers, with seats that convert into fully flat beds with a well-appointed aft stateroom for optimal relaxation and privacy.
While the forward cabin allows sufficient space for up to eight passengers, with a four place conference table, the rear cabin has two single seats, a private aft lavatory, and a three person divan which can be transformed to a double bed. Conveniently placed forward and aft lavatories diminish traffic through the mid-cabin, allowing a more tranquil environment for passengers.
The interior decor is made up of elegant earthy colour tones, creamy beige leather seating and exquisite fabrics, which visually elongate the cabin and create a warm and sophisticated cabin ambiance.
A further outstanding virtue of Qatar Executive’s Global 5000 Vision is its industry-leading entertainment and communications system, including high-definition viewing via BluRay media on two large TV screens as well as at individual screens at each seat. This very latest cabin entertainment system even offers enhanced 3D graphics. iPods at every seat allow passengers to control cabin features such as cooling, adjustment of electronic window shades, mood lighting and sound system. The aircraft further features a satellite telephone system, printer capabilities and the world’s fastest airborne Internet available, transforming  the cabin into an ‘office in the sky’ .
A special dampening cocoon system significantly reduces the cabin interior noise, allowing high-net individuals, government leaders and top executives to work, sleep and arrive well-rested at their final destination.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Domestic tourism is the way to go for Nigeria ----Mbanefo

The Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Mrs. Sally Mbanefo,  said her visits to the six geo-political zones  of the country has revalidated her strong belief that promotion and development of domestic  tourism is the way to go .
Mbanefo revealed that after promising stakeholders late last year to focus on domestic tourism that she has been on the road visiting all major attractions to authenticate the existence and status of tourist sites in all the six geopolitical zones and Abuja.
Speaking with this reporter in Lagos after visiting the Akran of Badagry, De Wheno, Aholu Menu-Toyi I in his palace, the NTDC’s boss revealed that she has visited about 15 states, meeting with governors, tourism/culture commissioners, traditional rulers, and chief executives of tourism agencies with the view to partnering with them on the importance of the tourism sector to the local economy.
According to her, the plank of her visits across the country has been that of, ‘we can do it and we must do it jointly.’
Ms. Mbanefo disclosed that her visits have now convinced her that domestic tourism is an avenue to generate wealth for an economy blessed with a rich population.
“From the several festivals/carnivals such as Carnival Calabar, Carniriv, OsunOsogbo, and Mare festivals, the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation now has enough activities to promote and stimulate the once forgotten domestic tourism.”

She said is already organizing a national tourism calendar for domestic tourism, working with all states in Nigeria, “while there is no illusion that most of its tourist attractions though in existence, need development and investments, the leadership and board of the NTDC, with the support of the minister, are making conscious efforts to attract investors into the country.”
During her visit to Badagry, the Akran of Badagry, De Wheno, Aholu Menu-Toyi I, described the domestic tourism promotion agenda of NTDC as an incontestable way to promote Nigeria's tourism and boost the nation's economy.
The monarch said "Sally Mbanefo is hitting the nail on the head with the promotion of domestic tourism. This was what the government of Japan did some years ago with a law stopping Japanese from traveling out of the country for holidays. It paid off. It did not only endear Japanese to their country and the tourist attractions therein, but it also wooed foreigners to the country and developed their economy.
"Domestic tourism remains the best approach to promote Nigeria's tourism and better the lots of Nigeria and Nigerians. Hence, the NTDC boss should be well-mobilised and supported by every stakeholder in the industry to achieve her domestic tourism promotion course, which in turn will boost our economy, hearten peace and unity, drastically reduce social vices and woo hosts of foreign tourists to our country."

De Wheno, who described the NTDC boss' visit to his palace as momentous, as the visit coincided with his 37th coronation anniversary noted that Sally Mbanefo is the first Director-General of the NTDC to personally come to Badagry to appreciate the tourist sites in the town with a view to championing their development and promotion.

Mbanefo, while congratulating the monarch on his peaceful reign, disclosed that domestic tourism will enable Nigerians know Nigeria, appreciate the innumerable and enviable tourist attractions in the country, appreciate different fascinating cultures and traditions in the country, and also attract foreigners to the country.”
She described her visit to Badagry as part of her ongoing visit to the geo-political zones in the country to visit the tourists’ sites in the states of the federation, see to how to develop and promote them to encourage Nigerians travel within Nigerian and foreigners to travel to Nigeria. This, according to her will have immense benefit on the nation and her good people.

Mbanefo described Badagry as the first tourist destination in Lagos, adding that, "there is no way the history of Nigeria will be written without prominently mentioning Badagry, where Christianity was first preached in 1842 by Reverend Thomas Birch Freeman, where the first Christmas was held in Nigeria, where the first church, the first primary school and the first story building in Nigeria, just to mention a few, are located.”

The Akran of Badagry while presenting a gift of coconut to the NTDC boss prayed that God should give her Solomon-like wisdom to achieve her lofty dream for Nigeria tourism, which will make Nigeria, which is enviably rich in tourism, stand tall in the comity of nations and enrich her people.