Friday, July 11, 2014

NCPC HAS CHANGED THE FACE OF CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE IN NIGERIA-----GOVERNOR AKPABIO

By NCPC MEDIA

The Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom state, His Excellency, Governor Godswill Akpabio has commended the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission for changing the face of Christian pilgrimage in Nigeria. He made the commendation in his office in Uyo while playing host to the Executive Secretary of NCPC, Mr. John Kennedy Opara and his Federal Commissioners who were in the state on a sensitization drive for the 2014 Christian pilgrimage.
Governor Akpabio Commended the NCPC boss for his giant strides, vigorous sensitization and strong advocacy since his assumption in office as the helmsman of NCPC. He stressed that before his coming on board in NCPC, Christian pilgrimage was not popular, but through responsive leadership, Christian pilgrimage has become a household name in Nigeria.
He further commended NCPC for using pilgrimage as a tool for moral and spiritual rebirth. The No.1 citizen of Akwa Ibom state was particularly touched to hear from the NCPC Boss that the main essence of Christian pilgrimage to Israel was to have a divine encounter with God. The Governor further commended him for his self sacrifice which he is using the commission to achieve. He prayed that his sacrifice for the country and that of Mr. President would never be in vain. He assured the Executive Secretary of NCPC that he would continue to work with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state, as well as the State Christian pilgrim Welfare Board to sponsor as many Christians as possible this year.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of NCPC, Mr. John Kennedy Opara equally commended Governor Akpabio for changing the face of governance in Nigeria. He stated that the Governor has consistently demonstrated his faith in God; hence, his ability to transform Akwa Ibom state beyond imagination. According to the NCPC boss “your impeccable love for the people of the state and the entire Nigeria is unprecedented.” He further commended him for transforming Akwa Ibom state to the Dubai of Nigeria.
Mr. Opara further told the Governor that the commission had decided to honour him for consistently supporting Christian Pilgrimage in Nigeria. A plague was presented to him for this honour which would further spur him to do more for the Christians. Mr. Opara affirmed that last year alone, the Governor sponsored about 1,700 Akwa Ibomites on Holy Pilgrimage, which he said was the highest number ever sponsored by any state Government.
He stated that since 2012 till date, the Commission had been able to maintain steady reduction of 9% in pilgrimage costs and would continue to ensure that Christian Pilgrimage is affordable for all Nigerians.
The Executive Secretary also met with CAN officials and members of the Akwa Ibom state Christian Pilgrim Welfare Board.
The Executive Secretary was accompanied on the sensitization visit by the Chief of Staff to Mr. President, Gen. Jones Oladehinde Orogbofa, the Federal Commissioner representing South-South, Pastor Mike Abrakata, the Federal Commissioner representing North-West, Elder Major (Rtd) Dogara Akut as well as the Ex-officio member representing CAN, Pastor Austine Febo.

NCPC HAS CHANGED THE FACE OF CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE IN NIGERIA-----GOVERNOR AKPABIO

By NCPC MEDIA

The Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom state, His Excellency, Governor Godswill Akpabio has commended the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission for changing the face of Christian pilgrimage in Nigeria. He made the commendation in his office in Uyo while playing host to the Executive Secretary of NCPC, Mr. John Kennedy Opara and his Federal Commissioners who were in the state on a sensitization drive for the 2014 Christian pilgrimage.
Governor Akpabio Commended the NCPC boss for his giant strides, vigorous sensitization and strong advocacy since his assumption in office as the helmsman of NCPC. He stressed that before his coming on board in NCPC, Christian pilgrimage was not popular, but through responsive leadership, Christian pilgrimage has become a household name in Nigeria.
He further commended NCPC for using pilgrimage as a tool for moral and spiritual rebirth. The No.1 citizen of Akwa Ibom state was particularly touched to hear from the NCPC Boss that the main essence of Christian pilgrimage to Israel was to have a divine encounter with God. The Governor further commended him for his self sacrifice which he is using the commission to achieve. He prayed that his sacrifice for the country and that of Mr. President would never be in vain. He assured the Executive Secretary of NCPC that he would continue to work with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state, as well as the State Christian pilgrim Welfare Board to sponsor as many Christians as possible this year.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of NCPC, Mr. John Kennedy Opara equally commended Governor Akpabio for changing the face of governance in Nigeria. He stated that the Governor has consistently demonstrated his faith in God; hence, his ability to transform Akwa Ibom state beyond imagination. According to the NCPC boss “your impeccable love for the people of the state and the entire Nigeria is unprecedented.” He further commended him for transforming Akwa Ibom state to the Dubai of Nigeria.
Mr. Opara further told the Governor that the commission had decided to honour him for consistently supporting Christian Pilgrimage in Nigeria. A plague was presented to him for this honour which would further spur him to do more for the Christians. Mr. Opara affirmed that last year alone, the Governor sponsored about 1,700 Akwa Ibomites on Holy Pilgrimage, which he said was the highest number ever sponsored by any state Government.
He stated that since 2012 till date, the Commission had been able to maintain steady reduction of 9% in pilgrimage costs and would continue to ensure that Christian Pilgrimage is affordable for all Nigerians.
The Executive Secretary also met with CAN officials and members of the Akwa Ibom state Christian Pilgrim Welfare Board.
The Executive Secretary was accompanied on the sensitization visit by the Chief of Staff to Mr. President, Gen. Jones Oladehinde Orogbofa, the Federal Commissioner representing South-South, Pastor Mike Abrakata, the Federal Commissioner representing North-West, Elder Major (Rtd) Dogara Akut as well as the Ex-officio member representing CAN, Pastor Austine Febo.

UNWTO and France debate areas of further cooperation


UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, and the French Minister of State in charge of Tourism, Fleur Pellerin, met to discuss the new tourism strategy of France as well as how to further strengthen the collaboration with UNWTO. Issues on the agenda included visa facilitation, taxation and the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (Paris, 30 June 2014).
Mr. Rifai commended the decision of France to place tourism as a national ‘cause’ and welcomed the 30 measures recently announced by the Government to promote the competitiveness of the sector, in particular the visa facilitation measures. These include, among other, the extension of the ‘visas in 48 hours’ initiative, launched in China in early 2014, to several Gulf countries, South Africa and India. Ms. Pellerin explained that the measure had translated into an exponential growth in the number of visas issued in the Chinese market from 30 to 250%.
“The call by President Hollande to place tourism as a national cause clearly shows the value that is awarded to the sector in France as a means to create jobs and improve the balance of payments”, said Mr Rifai. “France is a tourism leader, the most visited destination in the world, and is aware that keeping such position in today’s competitive market requires strong cross-cutting policies that support the sector. At UNWTO we particularly welcome the measures adopted by France to promote visa facilitation, one of our priorities, as we trust that, as our research shows, these measures yield significant return in terms of economic growth and job creation”, he added.
Further issues on the agenda included tourism taxation and the integration of tourism under the portfolio of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, a decision welcomed by UNWTO as it provides an opportunity to advance key issues such as travel facilitation and the inclusion of tourism in the international trade agenda. On the issue of taxation, Mr Rifai recalled UNWTO position on the importance of evaluating the global impact on the economy of any changes in tourism taxation and welcomed the fact that a possible raise of tourism taxes in France currently under discussion is being seriously debated considering such impact.
On the occasion of his visit to France, Mr Rifai addressed the 3rd Parliamentarian Meeting on Tourism (3e Rencontres Parlementaires sur le Tourisme: Et si le redressement passait par le tourisme?) highlighting the role of the sector in accelerating the economic recovery in Europe.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New regulations for children travelling to and from South Africa

New regulations for children travelling to and from South Africa

With effect 01 October 2014, South African Airways (SAA) will comply with new regulations relating to children who travel to and from South Africa. These new regulations were promulgated in terms of the South African Immigration Amendment Act of 2010 and define children as persons under the age of 18.

“These regulations are designed to ensure the safety of children and should thus be welcomed,” says SAA’s spokesperson, Mr Tlali Tlali. “As from 1 October, we will not be able to check in all travellers who cannot produce the necessary documentation in terms of this Act.”
In terms of the new regulations, when parents are travelling with a child they need to produce an unabridged birth certificate that shows the names of both parents. In cases where the certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.
When a child travels with only one parent, additional documents should include an affidavit in which the absent parent gives consent for the child to travel, a court order granting full parental responsibilities or legal guardianship of the child, or the death certificate of the absent parent. The affidavit should be no more than three months old, from date of travel.
In the case of a child travelling with a person other than a parent, the unabridged birth certificate must be supplemented by affidavits from the parents or legal guardians confirming that the child may travel with that person, copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian, and the contact details of the parents or legal guardian.
Similarly, a child travelling as an unaccompanied minor would have to produce not only the unabridged birth certificate, but also proof of consent from both parents, or legal guardian and contact details, plus documentation relating to the person receiving the child in the Republic. The latter documentation should include a letter stating the person’s contact details and residential address and contact details where the child will be residing, plus a copy of his or her identity document, passport or residence permit.
All documents must either be original or certified as true copies of the original, by a competent authority. Documents not in English must be accompanied by a sworn translation.

BRITISH AIRWAYS HAS IT COVERED FOR SKY-TECH SLEEP EXPERIME

BRITISH AIRWAYS HAS IT COVERED FOR SKY-TECH SLEEP EXPERIME

British Airways has begun testing a hi-tech blanket which changes colour using brainwaves, to ensure it offers customers the best flight’s sleep in the sky.

The ‘happiness blanket’, which is woven with fibre optics, uses neuro-sensors to measure a person’s brainwaves and changes colour, from red to blue, to show when they’re at their most relaxed and meditative.

The airline hopes monitoring a person’s sleep and relaxation patterns during a flight will inform decisions made to improve aspects of the in-flight service; from changing the timing of meals, what food is served and even the types of films shown – to make flying and sleeping on British Airways flights even more relaxing.

Last week, a group of volunteers on board the BA189 Dreamliner service from Heathrow to New York, were among the first to try out the hi-tech ‘happiness blankets’ for themselves and report on their experiences.

Frank van der Post, British Airways’ managing director, brands and customer experience, said: “This is the first time this technology has been used by any airline to help shape how service is delivered on board an aircraft.

“Using technology like the British Airways ‘happiness blanket’ is another way for us to investigate how our customers’ relaxation and sleep is affected by everything on board, from the amount of light in the cabin, when they eat, to what in-flight entertainment they watch and their position in the seat.

“Having been the first airline to introduce the fully-flat bed in business class, we take our customers’ sleep and relaxation, very seriously. Now we want to ensure they get the best possible good flight’s sleep as well.”

Supporting the initiative, Vincent Walsh, professor of human brain research at University College London, said: “Sleeping on a plane is a great opportunity to reset your body clock so you arrive at your destination after a long flight, feeling refreshed and rested."

"The short transatlantic flights west give a great opportunity for naps that will refresh you for that long first evening in New York or LA."

“You can never underestimate the importance of a good sleep so I’m looking with interest at what the British Airways ‘happiness blanket’ will reveal about the traveller’s sleep and relaxation patterns during the course of a flight.

“Flying presents the body with a unique set of challenges, but getting a proper sleep on a flight isn’t rocket science. You need to ensure your brain has as few distractions as possible so that you can ease it into a different time zone.

“Lying down, making sure you have as much darkness as possible and covering your eyes from any available light source, by turning off your in-flight entertainment, phone and computer, all go a long way to helping you to sleep and fly well.”

Professor Walsh’s top tips to improve you sleep while flying:

 Have a light pre-flight meal before you board
 If you can, book a seat that lies fully flat or reclines as much as possible
Take off your shoes, to improve circulation
Don’t drink any alcohol and avoid anything with caffeine, such as tea, coffee or fizzy drinks
If you're awake, always take the hydration offered
If you want to sleep, try to not watch any movies, use your tablet, computer or mobile phone
Wear an eye mask and ensure any lights around you are off and the window blind is down
If you want to relax, put in ear plugs or listen to a specially made relaxation soundtrack, such as specially produced podcasts by British Airways
Listen to your body. Sleep is not a waste of time

If sleeping pills help you, only use them at bed time in New York, if you’re flying from London to New York. Whereas if you’re flying from London to Beijing, take the pills at Beijing bed time, while you’re on board the flight  If you fly often make a habit of these things. Sleep hygiene is a habit.

British Airways already features special in-flight podcasts to encourage customers to relax and de-stress during their flight.

Last week it also announced the introduction of ‘Slow TV’ programming on board a number of its long-haul flights. The ‘wallpaper’ style footage, which features a seven hour train journey through Norway, introduces a hypnotic quality for some viewers.

British Airways features more than 130 movies, 650 TV shows from around the world and some 550 audio albums and 225 radio shows in its in-flight entertainment systems.

Research by Kantar Media for British Airways, has found that customers start their journey in a stage of ‘nesting’ which involves planning their in-flight entertainment schedule and getting comfortable in their surroundings.

After food and drink has been served they enter the next stage of ‘me time’ used indulgently to watch films, catch up on box-sets, or possibly doing work. The final stage of ‘adjustment’ see’s the customer preparing for the new destination, this is the peak time for looking at the moving map, as well as getting changed and refreshing for the onward journey.

The seven stages of emotions a flier will go through were identified by Ipsos MORI as; enjoyment, conviviality, belonging, security, control, empowerment and vitality.

As well as providing pre-flight dining in many of its airport lounges, British Airways also looks to serve light and refreshing in-flight dining to aid sleep and relaxation.

Sheraton hotels slash prices for Ramadan

SPG Members Will receive a 20%  on Iftar and Suhoor, as well as Earn Starpoints in Crockpot Restaurant and Pool Bar, Sheraton Lagos, Wazobia Hall, Sheraton Abuja and Vista Restaurant, Le Meridien Ibom.

During the Holy Month of Ramadan, Sheraton Lagos Hotel,
Sheraton Abuja Hotel and Le Meridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort will offer Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG) members a special 20 per cent discount onCrockpot Restaurant and Pool Bar- Sheraton Lagos Hotel-Lagos, Wazobia Hall-Sheraton Abuja Hotel-Abuja and Vista Restaurant, Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort-Uyo.
SPGthe award-winning loyalty programme from Starwood Hotels & Resorts is celebrating the heritage of selflessness during the Holy Month with this dining offer and giving members the opportunity to earn Starpoints when they partake in Iftar or Suhoor. Starpoints can be redeemed for free nights, room upgrades and flights, or be used to bid for one-of-a-kind experiences through SPG Moments.

SPG members will also receive discounts on Iftars and Suhoors at some 60 additional participating Starwood properties across 18 countries, including Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda and United Arab Emirates. For a full list of participating Starwood properties and venues, please visit spg.com/Ramadan.  

Non-members can sign up for SPG for free on the spot and immediately benefit from the Ramadan promotion.  For enrolment and more information on Starwood Preferred Guest please visit www.spg.com

Alongside the SPG Ramadan offerSheraton Lagos Hotel, Sheraton Abuja Hotel and Le Meridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort will feature other promotions during the Holy Month of Ramadan in Lagos such as varieties of dishes from Nigeria and around the world, Intercontinental favourites and kids menu in Akwabom while in Abuja customers will enjoy a selection of Middle Eastern and Nigerian cuisine alongside the ability to observe Salat at the special prayer grounds. 
For further information on Ramadan at Sheraton Lagos Hotel, Sheraton Abuja Hotel and Le Meridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort please visithttp://ramadan.spg.com/en/location/nigeria?EM=PR_RAMADAN_AREA_343_445_1936_NIG_AFIO_EAME .

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

New Four Point by Sheraton for akwa Ibom

 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. has announced the signing of Four Points by Sheraton Ikot Ekpene, a new build hotel scheduled to debut in 2015. Owned by the Akwa Ibom State Government, Four Points by Sheraton Ikot Ekpene will be Starwood’s 10th hotel in Nigeria and its second hotel in the state of Akwa Ibom after Le Meridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort.

“Looking back to when we first opened Le Meridien Ibom in 2007, we saw an opportunity in a city with limited infrastructure, today the state of Akwa Ibom has been transformed and modernised with new highways and a local airport, while the hotel was recently selected as an SPG® Members’ Favourite,” said Michael Wale, President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa and Middle East. “Our experience and shared successes with the government of Akwa Ibom leads us to believe that Four Points by Sheraton Ikot Ekpene is another milestone in the development of the state and we embark on this second joint venture with great confidence.”
“This agreement is another milestone for the people of Akwa Ibom and the opening of Four Points by Sheraton Ikot Ekpene will strengthen the hospitality sector in the state,” Governor Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State Government commented.
Starwood’s Four Points by Sheraton brand ‘best for business’ approach provides travellers with everything that matters the most including timeless design, uncomplicated comfort and a genuine and friendly approach to hospitality and service. Four Points by Sheraton Ikot Ekpene will feature146 guest rooms, an all-day dining restaurant, a lobby bar, 814 square metres of meeting and event space, as well as a fitness centre and an outdoor pool.

Located at the crossroad between two major highways with easy airport access, the hotel will be the first high-rise tower in Ikot Ekpene as well as the first purpose-built internationally branded hotel in the iconic town. Reflecting the brand’s promise and insight into the needs of today’s traveller, the hotel will also offer all of the brand’s defining elements, including the signature Four Points by Sheraton Four Comfort bed and free bottled water in the room, complimentary Wi-Fi in all public areas, a delicious breakfast with great coffee and refreshing local beer with Best Brews, helping guests to start and end the day right.

“Nigeria remains to be an important growth market for Starwood and we see a significant opportunity in growing our mid-market brands in the country and throughout all of Africa,” said Bart Carnahan, Senior Vice President Acquisitions & Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa & Middle East. “With one of the strongest pipelines in the Starwood portfolio, Four Points by Sheraton offers a compelling blend of comfort, style and affordability, making it an increasingly attractive choice for owners and developers across the world.”
Starwood currently operates five hotels in Nigeria including Sheraton Lagos Hotel, Sheraton Abuja Hotel, Four Points by Sheraton Lekki-Lagos, Le Meridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort, and Le Meridien Ogeyi Place. The company will also expand its presence in Nigeria with five new hotels opening by 2017 including Four Points by Sheraton Ikot Ekpene, Four Points by Sheraton Benin City in Edo, Four Points by Sheraton Ibadan in Oyo, Four Points by Sheraton Ikeja in Lagos and Le Meridien Ikoyi Towers.


EMIRATES ROLLS OUT CHILDREN SUMMER SPECIAL


 
Emirates has rolled out special programming for children and is offering more than ever before for families travelling with youngsters this summer and throughout the year. With the busy summer holidays in full swing, Skytraxs World Best Airline, is pulling out all the stops to keep the young ones entertained both in the air and on the ground. In the 2013/14 financial year, Emirates carried 2.3 million youngsters, demonstrating its strong family following.
 
Even before departure, complimentary baby strollers and changing tables are available within Emirates dedicated Terminal 3 and there are play areas equipped toys within Emirates exclusive lounges. Priority boarding is provided to families with young children. But its on board when the real fun starts. The dedicated childrens channels on the popular ice entertainment system brings an array of cartoons, interactive games, podcasts and CDs.
 
There are currently more than 60 childrens movies on ice, including the entire Harry Potter series, a whole section dedicated to Disney Classics, plus over 20 dedicated childrens television channels including CBeebies, Disney Junior, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. The young ones can also immerse themselves in hours of the very best music, such as One Direction, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry. On board, young flyers can meet AirBoe and Oggie, amongst the new cuddly monsters and explore activity-filled backpacks, all provided on a complimentary basis. Aircraft also carry kids favourite meals, as well as vegetarian options.
 
We go to great lengths to entertain and occupy children with products and services that are constantly being updated and enhanced, said Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, EmiratesDivisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Centre.  We know keeping the young ones happy is a key part of ensuring a smooth and enjoyable travelling experience for the whole family so investment in this area is very important.
 
Emirates recognizes that loyalty is essential amongst its younger customers too so children even have their own frequent flyer programme called Skysurfers. Miles can be exchanged for free flights, toys, books and entry to attractions in Dubai. For those more interested in the operational side of the adventure, children can watch the Airshow channel to see a pilots view of take-off and landing, while following the aircrafts progress across the globe.
 
Emirates Holidays, meanwhile, is well equipped to deal with families with specially-tailored packages. Many of the hotels available through Emirates Holidays offer kids and teens clubs
 

ABUJA AIRPORT RUNWAY RE-OPENED



The runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja which
was closed for 30 hours for rehabilitation on July 5, 2014 has been
re-opened for flight operations.

Reports from pilots who have used the runway so far indicate that the
rehabilitation of a section of the runway was professionally executed
and would enhance safety of flight operations on the runway.

The second phase of the rehabilitation of the remaining section of the
runway would however take place for another 30 hours next weekend
between Saturday 12, (2300 UTC) and Monday 14 (0500 UTC), 2014. A
NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) to this effect has already been sent to all
aircraft pilots and other relevant stakeholders, informing them of the
impending closure.

The runway rehabilitation is being done in two phases to minimize the
inconvenience the runway closure would have on air passengers and
aircraft operators if it was carried out at once.

The Authority regrets the inconvenience the second closure of the
runway, within one week, would cause passengers and other
stakeholders.

We wish to assure the public and all aviation stakeholders that the
conclusion of the maintenance work on the runway would guarantee
enhanced flight safety on the Abuja Airport runway.

Jordan Experience

JIMOH BABATUNDE was part of selected Nigerian journalists that embarked on a journey across the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan courtesy of the country’s tourism board and the Royal Jordanian Airways.
He captures in this write up what Jordan has to offer tourists seeking different experiences from history to adventure, from religion to restorative experience.
The   Queen Alia International Airport in Amman welcomes you with a hassle free, tranquil ambiance and friendly smiles. At the arrival hall of the Amman Airport, a small beautiful billboard welcomes a visitor to the “Home of Hidden Treasures.”
In a country where rain is a luxury, the cold outside of the airport after early down pour before our arrival was least expected as we quickly got into the waiting hands of the tour operator taking us into the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for a week-long trip.
As we arrived Regency Hotel in Amman, I could easily sense the essence of Jordanian hospitality that awaits us in the country.
After two hours rest in the hotel, the tour of Amman began with the tour guide, Muhammed Khadeer , explaining that  the country's capital and largest city, Amman , is located in a hilly area in the north-western section of the Hashemite Kingdom.
“The city's original design spanned seven hills, but it now encompasses an area spread over nineteen hills (each known as a jabal or "mountain"). The main areas of Amman gain their names from the hills and mountains on whose slopes they lie.
“Its history, however, goes back many millennia. The settlement mentioned in the Bible as Rabbath Ammon was the capital of the Ammonites, which later fell to the Assyrians. It was dominated briefly by the Nabataeans before it became a great Roman trade center and was renamed Philadelphia.”
He added “After the Islamic conquests, Amman became part of the Muslim empire, until the Ottomans were forced out by the Allies, with the help of the Hashimites, who formed a monarchy that continues to rule until the present.
I later discovered that Amman has a unique traffic set-up whereby the main sections of the city centre are connected through a series of traffic circles or round-abouts.
The tour guide later disclosed that there are seven round abouts or circles in the city, pointing out that the first circle, which we were passing through,  is the first in a series of large traffic circles that are stretched across an east-to-west direction primarily connected by Zahran St.
According to him, this first circle is located in the older part of the city on Jabal Amman while the second circle is also located in the older part of Amman. He said the third circle also known as King Talal Square is of particular interest to tourists since it is surrounded by a series of popular tourist hotels and some of Amman's famous restaurants.
THE HISTORICAL JOURNEY
The visit of Amman will not be complete without a visit to the Citadel, a national historic site that is perched on top of one of the city’s high hills.
This summit is reported to have been used as a settlement and a fortress for millennia, dating back 7000 years according to some estimates, to the time of the rise of civilization in Mesopotamia and the Nile valley.
The Citadel is an astounding open-air museum where tourists can walk through time and see the relics of numerous civilizations. It has also witnessed numerous sieges, wars and earthquakes.
While fortification walls enclose the site, occupation throughout time has spread beyond its enclosing walls.
The ancient Citadel, study the traces of Amman's many lives: the regal columns of a roman temple in silhouette against the sky, the elegant capital of a Byzantine church, endlessly inventive carvings in the Umayyad Palace, fascinating displays in the Archaeological Museum, and digs and ruins everywhere.
It is also home to the first National Archaeological Museum, which houses an extraordinary collection of artifacts, such as pottery vessels, status and coins, found in Amman and other archaeological sites in Jordan.
Castle of Ajloun



We drove some kilometers north of the city of Amman through a beautiful pine-forest and olive groves that took us to the town of Ajloun, the castle was  clearly visible from the town as it perched on a hill.
 The castle, an Islamic fortress, built during the period of the Crusades, is an interesting maze of passages and levels, and offers a wonderful view of the surrounding area, northwestern Jordan, and off into Galilee.
The castle was built in 1184-1885 AD and was one of the few fortresses built to protect the country against Crusaders’ attacks from both the west and the north. It also controlled the area around it, including controlling the iron mines in the area.
The castle is one of the best preserved and most complete examples of medieval Arab-Islamic military architecture. Ajloun Castle dominated the three main routes leading to the Jordan valley and protected the trade and commercial routes between Jordan and Syria. It became an important link in the defensive chain against the Crusaders, who, unsuccessfully spent decades trying to capture the castle and the nearby village.
ANCIENT CITY OF JERASH




From Ajloun, we moved to Jerash another historical site of significance that will thrill any history buff endlessly as the ancient city is remarkable for its long chain of human occupation.
It is one site where the Roman Empire came alive being one of the members of the Decapolis, a dynamic commercial league of ten Greco-Roman Cities.
Jerash  covers  an extensive area that must have been the city centre during the Roman conquest.  The main entrance of the historical site is the Hadrian Gate, an imposing sandstone structure made of three arches, built to commemorate the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s visit.
Another impressive building in the ancient site is the South Theatre, a surprisingly well-preserved amphitheatre that could sit up to 2000 people back in those days.
The acoustics of the theatre is astonishing. We were thrilled hearing the echo of our voices bouncing back from the theatre walls as we stood at the centre of the theatre trying to enact a play.
The publisher of ATQ magazine, Ikechi Uko a historian in his own right was entrapped by the Cardo Maximus,  a walkway that cuts through the city centre, typically found in most Greco-Roman cities.
A tourist at the site told this reporter that “it is a great impression and emotional to see many things from the past to the present here. I have never seen historical sites with this preservation, not even in Rome. Having old and new together makes the whole experience beautiful.”
PETRA





This is one tourism attraction in Jordan that seems to have dwarfed other attractions as it is ranked as one of the eight wonders of the world. It is also one of the United Nations’ World Monument sites.
As we arrived the reception gate, little did we know of the long trekking that had to be made. If we had known, many of us would have put on our walking shoes for a trek through the 'Rose-Red City' of Petra.
Petra is renowned for its charm and ancient cultural heritage. It marks the achievement of an impressive civilization, the Nabataean Arabs, who perfectly carved the city into its mountains. It was considered  a central convergence  of the old trading roads between the Arabian Peninsula, Levant, China and Europe.
Our tour guide, Kahdeer, disclosed that Petra covers an area of about 100 square kilometres where over 800 monuments can be found. “When shipping slowly displaced caravan routes, the city's importance gradually dwindled; it fell into disuse and was lost to the world until 1812, when it was re-discovered by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.”
There are hundreds of elaborate rock-cut tombs with intricate carvings - unlike the houses, which were destroyed mostly by earthquakes, the tombs were carved to last throughout the afterlife and 500 have survived, empty but bewitching as you file past their dark openings. Here also is a massive Nabataean-built, Roman-style theatre, which could seat 3,000 people. There are obelisks, temples, sacrificial altars and colonnaded streets.
We entered through the Siq, a narrow gorge, over 1km in length, which is flanked on either side by soaring, 80m high cliffs. Just walking through the Siq is an experience in itself. The colours and formations of the rocks are dazzling. As one reaches the end of the Siq  one catches the  first glimpse of Al-Khazneh (Treasury).
The Treasury is said to be the pride and joy of Petra and the most beautiful monument there. It was carved in the first century BC as a tomb of an important Nabataen king, and it is believed that it was later used  as temple.
The elaborate carved fa├žade represents the Nabataen engineering genius. The most thrilling was the rows tombs with intricate carvings.
The Sextius Florentinus tomb is the only tomb in Petra  that the person it was built for is known. Sextius was said to be the Roman governor of the province of Arabia and as the inscription shows that he wanted to be buried in Petra and his elaborate tomb was carved around 126-130AD.
Our walking tour continues down the path to the impressive 8000-seat Roman Amphitheatre. Archaeologists first believed that the Romans constructed the site in the 2nd century; further excavations have now shown that the amphitheatre was actually carved out by the Nabataeans around the time of Jesus Christ.
Mr. Ikechi Uko,  said, “Petra is an exercise, the best gym in the world” having walked the over three hours to and fro, but many took the short cut of having to ride on horses .
If you are visiting Petra wear sensible walking shoes and carry plenty of water and food. Although there are plenty of Bedouin-run shacks on the main tourist route selling soft drinks, water and snacks, once you are on the back roads supplies are difficult to come by.

Southern Sun sells Nigeria to South Africans

Southern Sun sells Nigeria to South Africans
 
Selected team of top South African journalists from the print and electronic media that were recently in Nigeria for a familiarization tour of the country has described Nigeria as a wonderful country.
The familiarization tour was organised by Tsogo Sun, South Africa, owners of Southern Sun Ikoyi in partnership with South African Airways (SAA).
The team that was in the country for three days and  toured some tourists sites in Lagos described Nigeria as a very exciting place far different from the story they hear from outside.
Speaking on the tour, the Corporate Manager-Group Communications, Tsogo Sun, and Priya Naidoo said “We experienced Nigeria, and it is really wonderful. We didn’t really see only the great parts of Nigeria; we also got to see the market…what is so wonderful is the Nigerian spirit. You have amazing traders. The entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerians is phenomenal.”
Speaking further on the reason for the tour, she said it was to give the journalists a first-hand experience of Nigeria and also sell Nigeria as a destination to South Africans.
She said: “What we wanted was for some South African journalists to come out and experience Nigeria and, of course, our hotel. “Our core purpose is to let South Africans know, when they come to Nigeria, we’ve got an amazing hotel, Southern Sun, Ikoyi that is really the reason we are here.”
Part of the reason for the trip, which was organized in collaboration with the South African Airways, was to correct some of the erroneous impressions some in South Africa have about Nigeria, according to Naidoo.
She said: “The other reason that we are here is that we brought the largest radio station. John Robbie is our Breakfast Show host, and we brought his entire team to broadcast from Southern Sun Ikoyi. What was wonderful about that is he has a wide audience, people listen to him. He has the ability to change people’s mindsets.
“When we initially arrived, we were all anxious because we did not really know what we would meet. We were so pleasantly surprised and he was also saying at this morning show how amazing it had been because he was so surprised by the Nigerian people. There were no safety issues; he just felt really great.
“We live in Johannesburg, we suffer from the same safety concerns that you suffer in terms of perception. When people think of everything that is happening right now, you will think that it is unsafe to come to Nigeria, and we’ve just proved the fact that it is not true. Since we arrived in Nigeria, we’ve had an amazing trip, we’ve had an amazing welcome by the people of Nigeria. They’ve really been wonderful. Yet, we had perceived it was going to be dangerous, but it was not.”
She also talked about some of the places visited: ”We went around on a boat cruise into the Atlantic. We saw shipping villages, ports and so on. We went to see the markets; we went to Balogun Market and another one. We were at Yellow Chillie Restaurant. We ate typical Nigerian food with goat meat, very spicy. It was really very pleasant and lovely.”
 

Travelport rolls out new travel solutions


Travelport, a leading travel service provider in distribution, technology, payment and other solutions for the $7 trillion global travel and tourism industry, has reinforced its commitment to Nigeria with the launch of six new technology solutions to benefit the local travel industry.
The new innovative solutions in Nigeria will enable both corporate and leisure agencies to take full advantage of the latest travel technology to help their agents work in a much more streamlined and efficient manner.
Speaking at the lunch in Lagos during the week, Rabih Saab, President and Managing Director, Africa, Middle East and South Asia at Travelport, said “Nigeria has one of the most exciting and fastest growing travel industries in the world, and it remains a key investment region for us.
 “The economy and the travel industry in Nigeria have continued to flourish over the past few years and further growth is expected not only over the coming years, but decades. The launch of these cutting edge solutions therefore further reinforces the vital importance of Nigeria in our regional strategy – both today and in the future.”
Saab said the travel sector in Nigeria has been growing steadily over the recent years as a direct result of the country’s rapid economic development. “Earlier this year, Nigeria’s GDP was revised up by 89% to exceed US $500 billion, effectively making it the largest economy in Africa.
“This growth brings with it a direct impact on consumer spending, as 128 million African households are expected to earn US $5,000 a year or more by 2020, enabling them to spend half their income on non-food items (McKinsey, 2014). This means more travel than ever before on and within the continent.”
He said to enable travel agents in Nigeria to take full advantage of these opportunities that they decided to introduce six of their leading edge solutions to Nigeria.
One of the solutions, agentivity, offers travel providers a unique and detailed insight into their agency’s activity, client behaviour, booking related issues, just as the Galileo E-tracker provides agencies with ready access to view, monitor and generate reports on the status of all E-tickets issued by their organisation via Galileo.
One of the travel agents gathered for the products lunch, Mohammed Kareem from Greywings said  “Introducing these innovative Travelport solutions to the local travel industry will definitely help travel agencies and travel management companies reduce costs, enhance their quality of service and increase productivity.
He added “Travelport seems to have a very clear understanding of what we require to take our businesses forward in an ever-changing competitive industry.” 
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