Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Repositioning culture and tourism in a diversified economy

A News Analysis by Rotimi Ijikanmi, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
The sudden and sustained decline in the price of petroleum, the mainstay of the nation’s economy, has been impacting negatively on the country’s revenue base.
As predicted by a former Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the decline has led to massive depreciation of the currency, a shortfall in foreign reserves and a huge growth in deficits.
The development has also brought about a situation in which many of states, outside the oil producing region, are now finding it difficult to pay workers’ salaries.

Lai Muhammed, Culture Minister 
For the nation to get out of the quagmire, President Muhammadu Buhari recently declared that his administration would take urgent steps to diversify the national economy and initiate the productive development of various sectors of the economy.
Buhari asserted that the diversification of the Nigerian economy was long overdue, as continued reliance on proceeds from crude oil exports had always made the economy vulnerable to shocks.
The culture and tourism sector has since been identified as one of the sectors that could serve as veritable sources of revenue for the government in its economic diversification programme.

Olumo Rock , Abeokuta

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that the Federal Government had identified arts, culture and tourism sectors as some of the sectors that would be the focus of its economic diversification programme.
Mohammed recently said in Lagos: ``As you are very much aware, this administration is diversifying the economy away from oil, which for many years has been the mainstay of our economy.
``Among the sectors that have been identified as veritable sources of revenue for the nation are the arts, culture and tourism sectors.
``This is why we, in the ministry of information and culture, are working hard to move these sectors from the margins to the mainstream and ensure that the rural poor, in particular, are factored into the sectors’ architecture.’’
Conscious of the potential challenges facing efforts to reposition these critical sectors and the need to carry along strategic stakeholders in the reform process, the minister said that the government would convene a National Summit on Culture and Tourism, with a view to charting the way forward.
Mohammed underscored the Federal Government’s determination to ensure that the culture and tourism sectors became money spinners for the country.
``We are, however, aware that similar efforts had been made in the past, without an appreciable result.
``The difference, this time around, is our commitment and the different milieu provided by the national imperative to diversify the economy, amidst the crash in the price of oil,’’ he said.
He said that the summit, which would hold from April 27 to April 29 with the theme, ``Repositioning Culture and Tourism in a Diversified Economy’’, would be declared opened by the President, who was also the Special Guest of Honour.
The minister said that the summit would focus on the creative sector and its roles in creating the necessary enabling environment and fillip for local industries to become economically viable.
He said that the summit would forge solid public-private-partnerships and collaboration, with a view to creating employment opportunities and promoting sustainable grassroots development in the culture and tourism sector.
According to him, efforts will be made to explore ways of transforming heritage sites, museums and galleries into avenues for employment and wealth generation.
He said that the gathering would also re-examine cultural education, with a view to expunging negative cultural practices, youth restiveness and delinquency.
Besides, Mohammed said that there would be coordinated marketing and promotion of Nigeria as a tourism destination as well as the development of a research and statistics mechanism that was vital national development efforts.
On cultural diplomacy, the minister said that the summit would devise strategies for the use of culture as a potent tool for dispute resolution, peace-making and creating synergy within and outside the country.
Mrs Ayotunde Adesugba, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, said that festivals, traditional cottage industries, including arts and crafts; bronze and brass works; pottery; leather works; tie and dye weaving and raffia works, among others, would be critically examined for employment generation purposes.
She said the Nigerian movies, music, fashion and attires, as well as indigenous cosmetics would also be examined, with a view to repositioning them for wealth creation.
Adesugba said that the summit would look into how to develop the five tourism clusters, which had been identified in Nigeria’s National Tourism Master Plan.
The tourism clusters include the Conference Capital (FCT, Nasarawa, etc.); Sahara Gateway (old Kano’s city wall, dyeing pits, etc.) and Scenic Nature (Museum and traditional architecture)
The others are Atlantic Gateway (Olokola Resort) and Tropical Rainforest (Obudu Ranch resort).
Mr Nkanta Ufot, Director of International Cultural Relations, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, said that the summit which would hold at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, would feature presentations by culture and tourism experts.
He said that papers would be presented by a Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, former Secretary of National Council of Arts and Culture, Frank Aig-Imoukhuede and former Gov. Donald Duke of Cross River.

Obudu Ranch, Cross Rivers
Mrs Bolanle Austen-Peters, Founder of Terra Kulture, and Chief Tomi Akingbogun, President of Fed¬eration of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), are also among the resource persons.
It will be recalled that Duke, as Cross River governor, created the Obudu Ranch International Mountain Race, which has grown to become one of the most famous mountain running competitions in the world.
He also initiated Tinapa Resort project to boost business and tourism in the state.
Besides, Ufot said that Professors Mabel Evwierhoma, Umar Buratai, Ahmed Yerima, Sunnie Ododo, Tracie Utoh-Ezeajugh and Sule Bello; Dr Paul Adalikwu, Chief Tope Awe and Dr Franklin Adejuwon were some of the discussants and contributors expected at the summit.
He said that the summit would feature a gala night, cultural performances by the National Troupe of Nigeria and a tour of cultural and tourism sites in Abuja.
Stakeholders have described the decision to convene the summit as ``apt, timely and a step in the right direction’’.
This is because the consensus of opinion is that if the potential of Nigeria’s culture and tourism sectors is properly harnessed and developed, the sectors can contribute a lot to the national economy.
For instance, Mr Charles Folayan, a tourism expert, said that if properly developed, the tourism and hospitality sector, which currently contributed a meagre 1.5 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (PDP), could facilitate Nigeria’s economic survival.
Folayan, the Public Relations Officer of Hospitality and Tourism Management Association of Nigeria (HATMAN), said that government only have to review the sector and have the political will to implement innovative and transformative policies.
``It is no longer news that many countries of the world generates a larger percentage of their revenue from the hospitality and tourism industry, but the case is not the same in Nigeria, in spite of our clement weather that is suitable for visitors and the relative peace in most states.
``We have population of over 150 million people, with many tourism sites, rich cultural heritages and festivals, capable of providing jobs and generating revenues.
``If these are well-handled and good policies are put in place by government, the tourism sector will contribute immensely to the country’s economy, particularly through income tax, property tax and duties on commodities and services rendered to tourists,’’ he said.
Another tourism expert, Mr Zubairu Abubakar, nonetheless, insisted that ``without the government leading the approach, private investors will not show adequate interest in tourism’’.
He stressed that culture and tourism could be powerful drivers of national economies if they were well-developed, packaged, harnessed and promoted.
Abubakar reiterated that the government must exhibit enough will and commitment, while formulating pragmatic policies that would improve the culture and tourism sectors.
He urged the government to collaborate with the private sector to develop reliable statistics, empirical data and knowledge that would portray Nigeria as a veritable tourist destination.
``With its vast landmass, physical features, rich cultural diversity and numerous wildlife species, Nigeria clearly has several advantages over several other countries.
``Nigeria, with its over 250 ethnic groups, has ample opportunities for cultural tourism, in terms of historical sites, annual traditional festivals and folk arts, such as crafts, carvings, and sculpture,’’ he added.
All the same, tourism experts insist that concerted efforts should be made to elicit tangible investments in Nigeria’s tourism infrastructure so as to develop the sector and enhance its contributions to the national economy. )
**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria

Monday, April 25, 2016

NTDC boss with Ooni of Ife

 The Director General ,  Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation  (NTDC) Chief . Dr. ( Mrs.) Sally Uwechue -  Mbanefo   presenting  a gift to the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty,   Adeyeye Babatunde  Ogunwusi Ojaja II and his wife Yeyelua Olori Wuraola Ogunwusi during the  dinner of African  Ambassadors  with the Ooni of Ife organised by Motherland Beckons at the Ooni's Palace in Ile Ife

The Director General ,  Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation  (NTDC) Chief . Dr. ( Mrs.) Sally Uwechue -  Mbanefo  receiving a gift from  the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty,   Adeyeye Babatunde Ogunwusi Ojaja II and his wife Yeyelua Olori Wuraola Ogunwusi during the  dinner of African  Ambassadors  with the Ooni of Ife organised by Motherland Beckons at the Ooni's Palace in Ile Ife

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Peacock, Sinotrust hold talks on travel

L-R: Chairman, Sinotrust Group of Companies, Alex Wang; Group Executive Chairman, Peacock Group of Companies, Aare Segun Phillips; Chairman, Sino Travel International, Air Services (Beijing) Co Ltd, James Zhan; and Chief Accountant, Peacock Group, Mr Olawale Oyero, shortly after a discussion in Lagos by the three companies on travel business collaboration between Nigeria and China

Thursday, April 21, 2016

FTAN commends information minister on tourism summit

The  Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) has commended the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed for convening the National Culture and Tourism Summit billed for next week,   to fashion out a way for the Nigerian tourism industry.
Speaking on the summit scheduled to commence on Wednesday next week, FTAN President, Mr. Tomi Akingbogun, said the tourism industry in Nigeria is on a back foot and the industry would totally be extinct if efforts are not made to go back to the drawing board and fashion a way forward.
Speaking on the summit, Akingbogun said: “FTAN is very much involved in the stakeholders’ summit by the minister. We are happy he is a listening minister because we have been communicating with him. He is kicking off with everybody sitting at the same table to look at the challenges and proffer solution. In the past the ministry would come up with policies that were strange to the private sector. That is the reason for the summit, to carry everybody along. We are happy he has taken the right step. We also want to thank the ministry officials for their inputs.”

UNWTO to help boost tourism in Nigeria – Minister

The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has agreed to design a two-year Plan of Action to promote tourism in Nigeria, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, has said.
Mohammed said that the decision was reached at a meeting he held with the Secretary-General of the organisation, Taleb Rifai.
Mohammed said the meeting was held on Wednesday on the sidelines of the April 19 to April 21 UNWTO Commission for Africa meeting in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.
A statement issued yesterday  in Abuja on the meeting by the Special Adviser to the Minister, Mr Segun Adeyemi, stated that UNWTO would work with the government to boost the nation’s tourism sector.
According to the statement, Rifai invited the minister to the organisation's headquarters in Spain during which he would meet with the UNWTO, private sector investors and Spanish government officials.
The statement said that the visit would be followed by that of the secretary-general to Nigeria for on-the-spot assessment of the challenges militating against the development of tourism in Africa's largest economy.
On his part, Rifai said that the UNWTO was delighted to have Nigeria fully back in the fold.
``We are happy Nigeria is here. Nigeria is too significant to disconnect from UNWTO.
``Happily, the new government in Nigeria has a good reputation,’’ the secretary-general said.
The minister on his part briefed the Secretary-General and his team on the efforts being made by the Nigerian government to ensure the security of lives and property.
He said successes had been recorded against Boko Haram, as well as on the upgrading of infrastructure.
The UNWTO is the leading international organisation in the field of tourism, promoting tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability.

The organisation also provides leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies globally.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

African tourism ministers convene in Côte d’Ivoire

Over three days (19-21 April) high-level tourism representatives from African countries, including 18 tourism ministers1, are convening in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to discuss the challenges of the sector and the priorities for the programme of work of UNWTO in the African continent. The event is held in parallel with the Sustainable Tourism Conference of the 10 YFP, focused on ‘Accelerating the Shift towards Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns’.

Tourism and ethics, tourism and security, and the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development to be celebrated in 2017 are some of the topics in the agenda of the meeting. The events taking place in Côte d’Ivoire show clear support to the country following the tragic events that took place in Grand-Bassam last March and recognition by the Government of Cote d’Ivoire of tourism’s role in development.
“Côte d’Ivoire is one of the most evident examples of the great potential of African tourism; it holds impressive natural assets and unique cultural diversity and traditions. Continuing to foster tourism in this part of the world can really make a difference, not only for society as a whole but for the perception of the African continent in the world,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, opening the event.   

During the occasion, the UNWTO Secretary-General and attending delegations visited Grand-Bassam to pay tribute to the victims of the attack of March 13, 2016.

"Thank you for coming to Grand-Bassam and paying respect to the victims. We thank you for maintaining the meeting, which is very important for us," said President of Côte d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara.

The importance of tourism to Cote d’Ivoire has been reflected in the acceptance by President Ouattara of the UNWTO/WTTC Open Letter on Travel and Tourism, geared to raise awareness and support of tourism at the highest political level.

Sustainability in the agenda of tourism in Africa

Parallel to the Regional Commission, UNWTO organized the Sustainable Tourism Conference of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns.

The event focused on ‘Accelerating the Shift towards Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns’ and discussed the importance of sustainability in the agenda of tourism in Africa, as well as in enhancing tourism investment and financing and collaboration among stakeholders to improve the tourism sector’s performance.

Through a combination of plenary sessions, interactive panels and roundtable discussions, examples of good practices from related projects and activities were presented and shared.

The UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa coincided with the holding of SITA - Salon International du Tourisme d´Abidjan - providing attendees with the opportunity to also participate in the fair that brings together local exhibitors as well as those from the neighbouring countries.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2016 Hajj: NAHCON reads riot act to private tour operators

 The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on Tuesday in Abuja warned Private Tour Operators against collecting money from intending pilgrims and refusing to transport them to Saudi Arabia.
The Executive Chairman of the commission, Alhaji Abdullahi Muhammad, gave the warning during the 1st Operational Meeting with Licensed Tour Operators on 2016 Umrah (lesser Hajj) and Hajj operations at the National Mosque.
Muhammad said that the measure was part of efforts by NAHCON to enhance transparency and accountability in the management of Umrah and Hajj exercises in the country.
He said that the commission was collaborating with other relevant agencies to track down illegal operators and bring them to book.
``The Board of NAHCON had resolved that from this year, anybody who collects money from any intending pilgrims, and for no fault of the pilgrims, refuses to carry them to Saudi Arabia to perform that Hajj, that Tour Operator or State Pilgrims Welfare Board will be responsible for the payment of the difference between the fair paid by the pilgrim in the next Hajj that the pilgrim is going to observe.
`` If we take this measure, it will prevent tour operators and the state Pilgrims Boards from collecting money from people without making adequate arrangements for them to travel.
`` Certainly, in addition to that, administrative penalty and others will be also be used by NAHCON on such defaulting tour operators or state pilgrims boards,’’ Muhammad said.
He explained that the meeting was aimed at discussing very critical matters that have to do with the management of Umrah and Hajj to ensure better service delivery to Nigerian Pilgrims.
He, therefore, advised all the stakeholders to comply with the Saudi rules and regulations governing the Umrah to ensure a hitch-free exercise.
`` We have conducted similar meeting with the states and now we are having this engagement with the Private Tour Operators,’’ the executive chairman said.
He said that the meeting provided opportunity for the commission to inform operators about its policies and those of the Saudi Government which had to do with the comfort of the pilgrims, including transportation and accommodation in Munah and Arafat.
The Chairman, Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria, Alhaji Abdulfatai Abdulmajeed, assured that the association would abide by both the NAHCON and the Saudi Arabia rules and regulations governing Umrah and Hajj operations.
Abdulmajeed commended the leadership of NAHCON for providing an enabling environment for members of the association to conduct their business effectively and expressed their readiness to partner with the Commission. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

FG to bring culture, tourism sectors into mainstream of economy – Minister

The Federal Government has identified arts, culture and tourism among the sectors that would form the mainstream of its economic diversification programmes.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this in Lagos on Sunday at a meeting with Arts, Culture and Tourism correspondents.
A statement issued on the event by the Special Adviser to the Minister, Mr Segun Adeyemi, said that arts, culture and tourism would be made the veritable sources of revenue for the nation.
The minister in the statement said: ``This administration is diversifying the economy away from oil, which for many years has been the mainstay of our economy.
``We are working hard to move these sectors from the margins to the mainstream, and ensure that the rural poor in particular are factored into the sector's architecture.’’
Mohammed added that special attention would be paid to capacity building of culture and tourism managers in order to revive the nation’s creative arts, boost tourism and create employment particularly for the rural dwellers.

He disclosed that the ministry was working with local and international partners, including the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the British Council, in mapping out creative arts.
``By this we mean; pottery, weaving, dyeing, sculpturing, etc, to review them massively through capacity building for those involved and the provision of loans.
``We believe this will not only create hundreds of thousands of jobs, thus keeping our people meaningfully engaged, it will also become money spinners for the economy and stem the rural-urban migration,” he said.
Mohammed identified the non-involvement of local communities in the tourism and culture architecture as one of the banes of the sector.
The minister promised to reverse the trend through the training of the locals on specific skills that would enable them to participate actively in the tourism and culture economy.
He assured the public that government would muster the political will to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing the sector.
``We are not naive enough to believing that repositioning these critical sectors will be a walk-in-the park.
``We do know, for example, that tourism is a multi-sectoral issue that involves easier access to visas, provision of necessary infrastructure like roads and adequate security.
``This is why we have decided to call a National Summit on Culture and Tourism, which is scheduled for April 27 to April 29 in Abuja, with a view to charting the path forward.
``We are aware that similar efforts had been made in the past, without an appreciable result.
``The difference, this time, is our commitment and
the different milieu provided by the national imperative to diversify the economy, amidst the crash in the price of oil,’’ he said.
Mohammed, therefore, solicited the support and cooperation of the media to achieve the goal of repositioning the sectors into the main pillars of the economy.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

ICAO, Nigeria find common ground on aviation devt.


The President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, met and held high-level discussions this week with the President and Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H. E. Muhammadu Buhari.

The two officials covered topics including projected aviation growth and associated human resource capacity and infrastructure challenges, ongoing threats from terrorist organizations in the region, as well as Nigeria’s potential to position itself as a leader in the provision of air services and aviation facilities including training for aviation professionals. President Aliu also welcomed Nigeria’s confirmation of its pending financial contribution to the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) for Africa.

President Buhari was accompanied during the discussions by Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, its Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, and other high officials. President Aliu was joined by the Representative of Nigeria on the ICAO Council, Mr. Nwafor Emeka Martins, and ICAO’s Regional Director for Western and Central Africa, Mr. Mam Sait Jallow.

“Civil aviation in Africa is an essential enabler of growth and social development, and ICAO has been very encouraged by Nigeria’s recent leadership and commitments with respect to aviation safety, capacity, security and human resources development,” President Aliu highlighted. “Consistent with the principles and priorities of ICAO’s No Country left Behind initiative, ICAO will collaborate with Nigeria towards the enhancement of aviation training capacity here and the upgrading of the Nigerian College of Aviation  Technology (NCAT) to full status as an ICAO Regional Training Centre of Excellence (RTCE). The establishment of an Aerospace University in Nigeria has also been proposed.”

ICAO Council President Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu (far left) met with Nigerian President and Head of State H. E. Muhammadu Buhari (2nd from right) during his recent mission. They are accompanied here by Nigeria’s Honourable Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika (2nd from left) and by its Honourable Minister
of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

Additional topics covered by the senior officials included the need to strengthen the autonomy of Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority and to ensure that revenues accruing from aviation activities are returned to the sector in the form of investments for training and other priorities.

It was agreed that a concrete roadmap and masterplan for aviation development will be put in place as a  follow up to the discussions held. 

During his mission, President Aliu also met with heads of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, the Nigerian Accident Investigation Bureau and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, as well as the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology. He visited the new Abuja International Airport terminal project, meteorological installations and weather forecasting facilities, and the Accident Investigation Agency’s laboratories.

In addition, meetings were held with the Vice President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mr.Edward Singhatey, the Executive Director and Staff of the Banjul Accord Regional Aviation Safety Oversight Organization (BAGASOO), and the Regional Director of IATA for Africa and the Middle East, Ms.  Adefunke Adeyemi. Discussions with these stakeholders focused on the need for greater collaboration and mutual cooperation between ICAO and the respective organizations for the advancement of aviation safety, security, capacity building, infrastructure development and air transport liberalization.

In the course of the visit an MOU for cooperation was signed between ECOWAS and BAGASOO in a bid to support the Regional Safety Oversight Organization.

World Tourism President urges leaders to keep borders open

 The President of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Mr David Scowsill, has urged world leaders not to close borders in response to the growing threat of terrorism.
Scowsill made this pledge while speaking at the beginning of a two-day meeting of the organisation’s annual Global Summit in Dallas, on Thursday.
"Don’t close borders in response to terrorism, because closing borders and jeopardising the freedom to travel is not the answer to the current security concerns."
A transcript of the WTTC president's quoted him as saying that world leaders need to stand together and act now, with the support of the travel and tourism sector in the fight against terrorism and threat to global security.
He said that the combination of global terrorism and an international refugee crisis is creating an unprecedented threat.
``Closing our borders and jeopardising our freedom to travel is not the solution.
"We have to prevent an overreaction from governments. We live in an ever connected world, brought closer by technology, multi-platform media, binding trade agreements and the sheer speed of travel.
"That same connectivity sees us witnessing the migration of peoples, on a scale not seen for decades.
``Navigating our way through and beyond the complexities of mass migration, embracing the possibilities while acknowledging the concerns, will be the urgent task of our global leaders now and in the future," he Scowsill.
``To prevent an overreaction from governments; the critical question is to understand how to keep the borders safe, while keeping those same borders open to business travellers and tourists."

Obudu Cattle Ranch 
Scowsill reminded the delegates of the impact of the US border tightening after the Sept. 11 2001 attacks, which led to a lost decade of tourism income that cost the US some 600 billion dollar in losses.
He said that the WTTC advocates improving international intelligence and security agency cooperation, better use of technology, and better communication as ways of combating the terrorism problem.
"Such action will take global agreements and a commitment to sharing data something which can only happen with concerted international effort.
"World leaders also need to stand up together and to act now, and it is our role as travel and tourism leaders to make that happen, and the economic contribution of travel and tourism is clear.
"Globally, the travel and tourism sector contributes 7.2 trillion dollars annually, almost 10 per cent of the world’s GDP, and supports one in eleven of all jobs on the planet, which is an exceptionally resilient performance despite many challenges," Scowsill said.
He also highlighted how the sector is force for good in the world, noting that, travel and tourism brings people together.
It puts a smile on people’s faces. It alleviates poverty. It provides employment across all levels of society, and in some of the most remote places on earth. It broadens horizons and breaks boundaries."
The WTTC is the global forum for business leaders in the travel and tourism industry, with chief executives of hundreds of the world's leading travel and tourism companies as its members.
It also advocates partnership between the public and private sectors, and delivering results that match the needs of economies, local and regional authorities and local communities. (PANA/NAN)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

SON inaugurates committee on tourism

The Acting Director General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Dr. Paul Angya, has said that standardization of the various tourism activities and products in the country are critical in the development and growth of the sector.
He made this assertion yesterday at the inauguration of the National Mirror Committee on Tourism Related Activities in Lagos under the leadership of Mrs. Chika Balogun.
Speaking at the inauguration, Dr. Paul Angya, said the committee provides an opportunity to harness the country’s knowledge of tourism to grow the Nigerian economy through participation in regional and global standardization activities.
“A National Mirror Committee provides a good avenue for the aggregation of knowledge, facts and views from stakeholders and interested parties in Nigeria to make valuable contributions to the elaboration of international standards with a view to ensuring that our peculiarities are taken into consideration in arriving at the final draft of the standards for tourism.”
He added that the committee will be the voice of the country at International Organisation for Standardization, African Organisation for Standardization and ECOWAS in developing standards specifically for the tourism industry.
While noting that Nigeria stands to benefit more from tourism now that it is looking for alternative sources of revenue to oil, Angya represented by Komolafe Abiola, Director of Standards in the organisation, said it is expected that the committee through its work will be able to position the country’s tourism to compete globally.

Speaking after the inauguration, the elected chairman of the committee, Chika Balogun, the Director General, National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Studies (NIHOTOUR), promised that they will work towards standardization and quality assurance in attracting international tourists  to the country.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Alaska Air to buy Virgin America for $2.6 billion

 Alaska Air Group Inc said on Monday that it had agreed to buy Virgin America Inc. for 2.6 billion dollars to expand its flights on the U.S. West Coast.
Alaska Air made this known in a newsletter issued on Monday which stated that the merged airline would become the fifth largest in the U.S.
It added that it would help it compete against larger rivals for lucrative business and international travelers visiting San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as Seattle, where the company is based.
The acquisition will herald the first U.S. commercial airline merger since U.S. Airways and American Airlines combined in 2013 to form the world's largest carrier.
Alaska's offer of 57 dollars per share in cash represents a premium of about 47 per cent to Virgin's Friday's close
Including, Virgin America's debt and aircraft lease obligations, the transaction value amounts to about 4 billion dollars, according to the release.
The deal will generate 225 million dollars in annual benefit once the companies are fully merged, while one-time integration costs are expected to be between 300 million dollars and 350 million dollars, Alaska Air said. (Reuters/NAN)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Muslim family accuses United Airlines of "racial profiling"

CHICAGO, IL - A Muslim family of five were reportedly asked to deboard Washington, DC-bound United Airlines plane at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, citing "safety" issues.

Muslim family accuses United Airlines of "racial profiling"

Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley in her Facebook post complained about United Airlines racially profiling and humiliating her family by asking them by asking them to leave the flight. Shebley also posted two videos of the incident.
"Shame on you ?#?unitedAirlines? for profiling my family and me for no reason other than how we look and kicking us off the plane for "safety flight issues" on our flight to DC for the kids spring break. My three kids are too young to have experienced this," the post said.

The videos show the airlines pilot asking the family to leave a plane before it took off.

On asking whether the decision was "discriminatory", the pilot replied that it was a "flight safety issue". However, the staff did not provide any further detail.

The family inquired earlier whether the stewardess could provide five-point harness safety seats for their children.

The airline said that it apologized multiple times to Shebley's family and even rebooked them on another flight.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, United Airlines said the family was rebooked "on a later flight because of concerns about their child's safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations" and said the airline has "zero tolerance for discrimination".

Swiss International, Alisa Hotels Ltd signed License Agreement as Swiss Spirit Hotel & Suites - Alisa Accra

Swiss International Hotels & Resorts is proud to announce the signing of a license agreement with the owning company of Alisa Hotel Accra.
Since last week Friday, the hotel will undergo re-branding and training initiatives for a period of 3 months. The new name of the hotel will be: Swiss Spirit Hotel & Suites Alisa - Accra.
This 199 room hotel is strategically located in the upscale North Ridge district of Accra. North Ridge was originally planned as a neighborhood for civil servants and businessmen in the colonial era. Today, North Ridge remains one of the best residential neighborhoods in Accra. The area of North Ridge, West Ridge, and East Ridge, collectively referred to as "The Ridge" is populated by several major embassies, including those of Germany and the United Kingdom, making it an ideal location for an international hotel brand.
The Swiss Spirit Hotel & Suites Alisa – Accra will offer besides the 199 oversized rooms and suites, a Swiss Café Restaurant & Lounge, a TED & Co Bar & Lounge, The Box – for Meetings & Events and an Inspirations Pool & Gym.
The General Manager of the Alisa Hotels Ltd, Mr Yusuf Olela stated: “With Accra becoming one of the leading destination cities in Africa, there has always been a call for Alisa Hotel to be competitive in the global market and to reorganize its services to international standards. We believe the association with Swiss International will empower us to offer top international hospitality services.”
The Hotel is the first hotel of the chain in Ghana. The hotel has entered a license agreement with Swiss International on March 3rd, and as such will benefit from the strength and offerings of an international brand.
“We live in a globalized world. Travellers seek the same levels of service and quality from the hotels at home and abroad indicating demand for international hotel brands.
Swiss International is making its debut in the country and we are happy that we entered the capital” commented Mr Henri W.R Kennedie, the CEO of Swiss International Hotels & Resorts.
Mr Kwame Ofosu Bamfo, the owner of the hotel added “This is an exciting time for our company as we partner with Swiss International to gain and secure a stronger position in the hotel market of Accra. I am convinced that our hotel, under the flag of Swiss International, will continue to see higher peaks of success.”

When asked about the role that emerging markets like Ghana play in the broader portfolio of International hotel brands like Swiss International, Dr Wasiu Babalola, Managing Director - Africa for Swiss International Hotel & Resorts commented: “In general, Africa is considered to be the market with the biggest possibility for growth, as it is yet to maximize its development potential. The hospitality industry in Ghana and Accra in particular has seen huge growth around rising commercial centers and natural resources extraction.”
The arrival of Swiss Spirit Hotel & Suites brand in Ghana earmarks Swiss International’s commitment to Africa. The chain is already represented in Nigeria with 2 hotels, in Rwanda with 1 hotel and in Sierra Leone with 1 hotel and it is moving to Kenya to operate a luxury resort

Ooni of Ife advocates cultural tourism as alternative source of revenue

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi has advocated for cultural tourism to serve as an alternative source of revenue in the face of the dwindling oil price and economic challenges facing the country.

Oba Adeyeye who spoke in Owo area of Ondo State said when properly accessed, it can be used to create wealth, empower the people and generate employment.

He pointed out that Nigeria is blessed with many tourist attraction which have been suffering from neglect.

According to him investing in this sector will further showcase the cultural heritage of the country to the world and will also boost the country's GDP.

"Tourism is an everlasting product that serves as alternative source of revenue and discourages over-dependence on perishable and exhaustible products like oil. It is, also, an alternative source of income.

"Cultural tourism is just to show case our heritage and our culture to the world. Our people depend so much on government for everything. 

"Private sector should take the first lead. Look at what happened here today. 100percent private sector. Let private sector comes in. 

"We have the most richest culture in the world , but the challenges is for the people to come and fact find our cultural heritage for us. 

"The major impediment is comfort, that is, where they would stay in the entire land. 

"All over the world, private sector is the engine room of any economy. So as a result, when private sector start, UNESCO and government can come to support. My believe is that we don't need to depend on government for everything. 

"If you go to South Africa, their economy is been driven by tourism, Gambia don't have crude oil, the entire France don't have crude oil and if you go to all the Caribbean island, they don't have crude oil and their GDP is even better than us in Nigeria that we have crude oil. 

"If we have more places like this , both in the North ,South, West and the East, people will be moving from one point to the other . 

"This will even boost our GDP rather than any little thing, we always travel out of the country to go and do the similar thing . Why should we do that?, let us encourage ourselves ."

The traditional ruler later visited the Deji of Akureland, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi  said his visit to Deji Akure is to preach on peace and unity among the Yoruba nation because it is the only guaranteed key to progress. 

   The monarch said the only way to progress in life is to be in unity and in love and he will continue to do this to bring all Obas in Yorubaland together as one family

On his part,  Oba Aladelusi  described the visit of Ooni of Ife to some paramount Yoruba Monarch to preach Unity and love as a welcome development that can bring Yoruba race together. 

ICAO President inspects Abuja airport

The new international terminals being constructed simultaneously in Lagos, Abuja, Portharcourt, Kano and Enugu will increase capacity and improve passenger facilitation. 

The Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Engr Saleh Dunoma stated this in Abuja following an inspection of the new terminal under construction by the Council President of ICAO, Dr Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu.

According to Engr Saleh Dunoma "In the past 12 years, passenger traffic at the airports increased from 4.4milion to 15million per annum (over 23%) and FAAN is expanding its capacity to accommodate envisaged growth. 

He described Dr Aliu as an icon who has positively impacted the aviation globally emphasizing that his policy of "No country left behind " has addressed the challenges faced by the sector especially in developing countries.

Engr Dunoma reiterated the Authority's commitment to sustain the standards achieved following the recent ICAO audit.

The ICAO President was accompanied by Com Martins Nwafor, the Nigerian Representative at ICAO council, Mr Mam Saint Jalo, ICAO Regional Director for West and Central Africa, senior officials from the Ministry and heads of aviation agencies. 

The ICAO President who earlier met with labour unions called for closer collaboration for the development of the sector.