Monday, February 27, 2017

NTDC trains 52 youths, women on various skills

The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) on Monday embarked on a skills acquisition and empowerment training for 52 youths and women in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The acting Director General of the corporation, Mrs Mariel Rae-Omoh said the two-weeks training would hold in all the six area councils in the FCT.

According to the director general, similar training will be held in all the six geo-political zones of the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training is in local weaving, furniture and beads making, tye and dye, hair weaving, hat making, asoke and gyele tying, soap and izal making.

Rae-Omoh said the aim was to empower the youths and women with life long skills that would provide them with sustainable income and enable them to be employers of labour.

“ Our target is also to facilitate and provide small scale tourism enterprises the opportunity to grow,” she added.

She therefore encouraged the participants to utilize the opportunity effectively to acquire skills and generate income.

“ This programe provides an opportunity for youths and women or the unemployed to be empowered for self-reliance.

“The tourism sector is Nigeria’s hidden treasure as it provides huge and endless opportunities to earn income through small scale business enterprises,’’ she stressed.

She reiterated the commitment of NTDC in partnering with other stakeholders towards developing the tourism sector in view of the dwindling revenue from the oil sector.

“ Now that the country is face to face with dwindling oil revenue, the urgency of looking elsewhere cannot be over-emphasised and the tourism sector provides a preferred option.”

A participant, Mrs Blessing Sule, a widow and mother of five, said the beads making training would enable her develop a skill that would provide her steady income with which to train her children.

Also, Kufre Thomas, a 300-level student of the Open University, said the tye and dye training would offer her a source of income and reduce reliance on her family for financial support.

Thomas, added that the training would enable her produce some materials to sell in school.

On his own part, Yusuf Mananseh, a trainee in soap and izal making, said he plans to set up a small company to produce and sell the product in his village.

Mananseh added that he hopes to employ youths in his locality and train them to be self reliant.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tourism exploration :Nwoko to sponsor 100 tourists to Nigeria

...To set up lotto offer for tourists
… As Nigeria partners Miami on exploration
ABUJA: A former House of Representative member and Chairman Project Tourism Committee, Hon. Ned Nwoko has offered to sponsor 100 tourism investors willing to visit Nigeria for exploration of Nigerian tourism potentials.

Hon. Nwoko announced this at a dinner in honour of visiting Miami Dade Trade Mission to Nigeria organized by Linas International Ltd. in collaboration with Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) in Abuja.

Nwoko who expressed delight for the visit of the Miami delegation said Nigeria is blessed with huge tourism potentials yet untapped and requires synergy with rich tourism destinations like Miami to fully exploit her own resources.

He urged the visitors to disregard the stereotype usually placed on Nigeria as bad country and look towards the huge tourism potentials the country is endowed with.
As his own way of supporting Nigerian tourism sector, he promised to sponsor 100 foreigners willing to come to Nigeria for tourism exploration next year.

‘‘Nigeria is not as bad as you read it. Some of you who have been here two or three times will testify to this. We will encourage this coming together even as we form the synergy to partner in area of tourism.

‘‘The synergy will be like lottery kind of situation, where I want to sponsor 100 non-Nigerians to Nigeria next year as my own contribution to tourism sector.

‘‘I will bring in people from the private sector to do their own. We have about 100 Nigerians to do this and we are sure this will widen the scope of tourism in Nigeria,’’ he assured.

In her remarks, the Director General of NTDC, Mrs. Mariel Rae-Omoh said any effort by government to diversify the economy without tourism sector would amount to nothing, considering the huge tourism potentials that abound in across the 36 states and the FCT which hold great economic benefits.

Tourism is not just one of the most resourced based sectors of the economic but unites people from different cultural backgrounds every day through travelling in this globalization era.

In line with this, the NTDC has lined up, Slave Trade relicks in Badagary, Ojukwu War mesium in Unuahia, Yankari Game reserve in Bauchi, Kainji National Park, National Park in Ibadan among others.

To make them become more relevant, she said that the NTDC had set up a plan to upgrade them into world class status in line with the world best practice.

In addition to this, she also said that the NTDC had unfolded plans to develop at one tourism centre in every state of the federation, as part of its contribution to the diversification agenda of the present administration.

According to her, the proposed tourism centres would be built on already established/existing monuments, arts and sites in the affected states.

She expressed satisfaction with the contribution so far made by the Nollywood, which she said had projected the Nigeria’s tourism potentials to the outside world and called for more collaboration.

In his address, the leader of Miami Dade Mission to Nigeria and Vice Mayor, City of Miami Gardens, Florida USA, Erhabor Ighadaro said their visit to Nigeria was to keep a linkage with Nigeria on how best to explore the rich tourism potentials of the two countries.

Ighadaro said their visit was basically aimed at seeking for possible areas of collaboration with Nigeria and how Nigeria could tap from the Miami’s multicultural jewels.

He further assured his hosts that the relationship between Miami and Nigeria on tourism exploration would be mutual and beneficial to all.

Tourism/Business trip: FG reviews visa processing for foreigners to boost economy

The Federal Government has reviewed the visa processes for foreigners who wish to visit Nigeria for business and tourism purposes with the aim of boosting the economy.
In a statement issued yesterday, by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the measures were part of the action plan for the ease of doing business as well as efforts to boost tourism, within the overall context of the Administration's economic diversification agenda.
''The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has reviewed the requirements for Nigerian visas to make them more customer friendly, and details of this review are available on the NIS official website, types of visas currently reviewed include Visa on Arrival (VoA) processes, Business Visas, Tourist Visas and Transit Visas,'' the minister said.
Mohammed explained that business visas are available for foreign travellers who wish to travel to Nigeria for followings: Meetings, Conferences, Seminars, Contract Negotiation, Marketing, Sales, Purchase and distribution of Nigerian Goods, Trade Fairs, Job Interviews, Training of Nigerians, Emergency/Relief work, Crew members, Staff of NGOs, Staff of INGOs, researchers and musical concerts.
He said Tourist Visas are also available to foreign travellers who wish to visit Nigeria for the purpose of tourism or to visit family and friends while Nigeria Visa on Arrival is a class of short visit visa issued at the port of entry, and it is available to frequently-travelled High-Net-Worth Investors and intending visitors who may not be able to obtain visa at the Nigerian Missions/Embassies in their countries of residence due to the absence of a Nigerian mission in those countries or exigencies of urgent business travels.
Mohammed said other actions that have been taken by the NIS for the ease of doing business and facilitation of travelling for Nigerians and foreigners alike include the harmonization of multiplicity of Airport Arrival and Departure Form/Cards into a single form for all agencies of government to save foreign visitors from the current frustrating practice of filling 3 different forms or more and the decentralization of Immigration services to the State Commands
''Re-issuance of passports for change of names due to marital reasons or lost cases have been decentralized to all State Commands and Foreign Missions to save passport holders from additional costs and inconvenience of travelling to the Service Headquarters in Abuja, while additional 28 offices have been opened for issuance of Residence Permits in Nigeria, bringing the issuance of Combined Expatriate Residence Permit And Aliens Cards (CERPAC) closer to the doorstep of employers of expatriates at all 36 states and FCT,'' he said.
Mohammed said the measures by NIS fit perfectly into the 60-day national action plan for ease of doing business in Nigeria that was approved recently by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), as well as the administration's efforts to boost international tourism.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Rae-Omoh Promises Synergy with Professionals, Stakeholders

THE Acting Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Mariel Rae-Omoh, said she would work with professional bodies, associations and stakeholders to move the industry forward.

Rae-Omoh revealed this when the Hospitality and Tourism Management Association of Nigeria (HATMAN) paid her a courtesy visit in her office, in Abuja, on Thursday.

While describing the stakeholders and private sector as the main drivers of the industry, Rae-Omoh said, “I’ll build a strong alliance with the stakeholders and professional bodies in the industry to move it forward.”

She also promised to boost the socio-economic activities and development of minority ethnic groups through promotion of untapped tourism potentials in Nigeria.

Rae-Omoh added: “Tourism is an important instrument for poverty reduction, economic growth, biodiversity conservation, employment creation, community empowerment, grassroots development and revenue generation.

“In line with this, NTDC as the apex tourism policy implementation agency under my administration will effectively carry out its mandate with the support of the Public-Private Partnership and staff of the Corporation.”

Earlier in his speech, HATMAN President, Mr Badaki Aliyu, who congratulated the Acting DG on her appointment, described her as a professional who understands the language of the industry and is willing to drive the industry for development and productivity.

Aliyu said the main objective of HATMAN is to entrench professionalism in the hospitality and tourism industries, which according to him, the association will achieve through training

While disclosing the willingness of the association to collaborate with NTDC to ensure that the industry moves forward, Aliyu prayed that God should give her the wisdom to sail the ship of the industry and confirm her appointment to as Director General, NTDC. In his company for the courtesy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tourism: Gov. Obaseki explores potentials of Amarho water-side

Gov.Godwin Obaseki of Edo has visited the Amahor waterside to ascertain the tourism potential of two rivers which formed a confluence at Amahor town in Igueben Local Government Area of the state.
During the tour around the water-side, which is located inside a forest reserve, the governor visited a rest house used by colonial masters when they visited the water-side and rain forest.
He said that the area, when developed, would boost economic activities and draw tourist attraction to view the natural wonder of the rivers that do not mix.
According to Obaseki, government is trying to identify economic opportunities and also the land marks we have for economic activities such as that for tourism and agricultural production.

‘’We understand that we have a lot of land marks and space here.

‘’Most importantly, we came here to appreciate nature and begin to direct interest to places like this so that people can come here for relaxation and to appreciate nature’’, he said.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lai Muhammed Charges Stakeholders On Tourism Development

MINISTER of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, has called on tourism stakeholders in the country to put their hands on deck and move the industry to the next level.

Alhaji Muhammed made the call in his address at the public presentation and lunching of the book titled, “Redefining Tourism in Nigeria: The Real Issues and Challenges Vol. 1-3” at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.

The Minister, represented by the Director-General of the National Institute for Hospitality & Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Mrs. Chika Balogun, explained that, “This effort must be collective and should attract the best of Public-Private Partnership.”
The Acting Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Mariel Rae-Omoh ( Red Head Tie ); Amanyabo of Brass Kingdom , Co-Chair Pan Niger Delta Forum (PNDF) , His Royal Majesty King Alfred Diete-Spiff , OFR (Red Hat) with others during the Presentation and Launch of the Book: Redefining Tourism in Nigeria: The Real Issues and Challenges Vol.1-3 held at the Auditorium Yaradua Centre in Abuja recently.

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He added that “Nigeria has strong comparative advantages in the Hospitality and Tourism industry because of its diverse cultural heritage that are all disposed to what is commonly referred to as the Nigerian hospitality.

“This great nation is indeed blessed with abundant natural and cultural resources that are well blended for tourists’ delight and might I add, a strong emphasis on domestic tourism. It is against this background that the Federal Government is committed to repositioning tourism as one of the levers for economic growth and development in the country,” Lai Muhammed said.

Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Mariel Rae-Omoh, earlier in her speech emphasised her commitment to ensuring that the Nigerian youth embraces tourism.

This, according to her, informed the efforts of the Corporation to promote youth tourism.

She explained that “I have always been a crusader of youth tourism, even before I became the Acting DG. And now, the efforts have been geared up as the Corporation under my administration is committed to heightening the interest of the youth in tourism, making them appreciate the inherent rewards of the money-spinning sector.”

Rae-Omoh, who disclosed that the book will educate the young generation on the importance of tourism, noted that the tourism book as long overdue.

The tourism book is centered on changing the perception of Nigerian people on the place of tourism to the overall national development objective.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Murcia to host the 1st UNWTO World Conference on Smart Destinations

To advance and shape a tourism model for the 21st century based on innovation, technology, sustainability and accessibility – these are the aims of the World Conference on Smart Destinations to be held in Murcia on 15-17 February, organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda of Spain, and the Region of Murcia.
A few weeks following the launch of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the city of Murcia has picked up the baton to offer a platform for the discussion of key issues in the global agenda of the sector, such as innovation, technology, sustainability and accessibility.
The 1st UNWTO World Conference on Smart Destinations will bring together government representatives, private sector entities, researchers and academics, as well as technology centres. Among the topics to be addressed is that of digital applications that make it possible to offer increasingly customized services and to differentiate tourist destinations that provide added value while preserving the natural, social and cultural environment.
“These themes, which are priorities of the work of the World Tourism Organization, define 21st century tourism: committed to ecosystems, local cultures and to economic and social development,” explained UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “It will be impossible to capitalize on the potential of tourism in aspects such as job creation and socioeconomic development if we do not commit to and move towards sustainable practices that are respectful of the environment and local communities,” he underlined.
The Conference includes an academic block in which research related to 21st century tourism will be presented. A session will also feature entrepreneurs who have developed highly innovative products or services in the area of smart destinations.
The event will conclude with the reading of a manifesto summarizing the contributions of the participants, which will form the basis of the first UNWTO report on smart destinations.
The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, declared by the United Nations General Assembly and led by UNWTO, constitutes a common tool for global action towards a more responsible, inclusive and prosperous sector. To this end, the organizations in charge of the Conference encourage governments, private sector entities, consumers and civil society organizations to join the campaign and share their experiences.

LASG to make Badagry tourism hub of Africa — Commissioner

Mrs Adebimpe Akinsola, Lagos State Acting Commissioner for Tourism, Art and Culture, said on Monday in Badagry that the state government was determined to transform the ancient town into the tourism hub of Africa.

Akinsola spoke with reporters after an on-the-spot assessment of some ongoing tourist projects in Badagry.

Among the Tourist Sites visited by the Acting Commissioner were the Badagry Heritage Museum, the Marina shoreline, the slave market and the Gberefu Island, otherwise known as the `Point-of-no-Return’.

Akinsola explained that the purpose of the inspection was to enable the state government to be able to evaluate the progress of work on the projects.

“The Lagos State Government is determined to transform Badagry into the tourism hub of Africa and we are committed to the ongoing projects in the ancient city.

“The purpose of the inspection is to get first-hand information on the various sites and to see how the ongoing facelift of the projects are going.
Image result for Badagry

“At the Heritage Museum, a lot of progress is being recorded and with the pace at which the workers are going, I’m sure that the project would be finished ahead of schedule.

“Also at the Marina shoreline, work is ongoing and I am sure we will get the desired effects of the project, so we are glad at the way things are turning out.

“The Lagos State Government is determined to transform Badagry into a mega city and with the completion of the various projects, the ancient town will be opened up to the world,” she said.

The commissioner, therefore, urged residents of Badagry to always pay their taxes to the state government.

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“If taxes are paid regularly, the state government would be enabled to continue to improve the welfare of the people. So, people should always ensure that their taxes are paid as and when due,” she added.

Qatar Airways aircraft incident caused by bird strike — NCAA

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said the air return made by a Qatar Airways aircraft on Feb. 9 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, was caused by a bird strike on one of its engines.

The NCAA made the clarification in a statement signed by its General Manager, Public Relations, Mr Sam Adurogboye and obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday.

“The Qatar Airways Airbus A330 with Registration no.A7 – AED, Flight no.1408 scheduled operation from Lagos to Doha ,received a push back to take off from the MMIA at 14.45hrs UTC.

“On board were 256 passengers and 10 Crew members.

“At 16.18hrs UTC, the Pilot-in-Command (PIC) made an air return to MMIA. He took this decision after the aircraft suffered bird strike in flight.

“The bird strike hit the No.1 Engine. On its safe return to MMIA, diligent inspection was carried out on the aircraft. However, finding disclosed no damage,” Adurogboye said.

He said since there was no damage, the aircraft was cleared and it recommenced the operation and departed at 17.30hrs UTC.

According to him, it is pertinent to point out that the Aircraft Pilot adhered to the Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs) in undertaking an air return.

Adurogboye said this was to carry out an assessment of the impact of the bird strike before continuing the flight.

“The NCAA wishes to assure Nigerians that it will continue to ensure robust safety oversight of the industry for safe and secure air transportation,” he added.  

Ethiopian Airline receives third airbus

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest and fastest growing African airline, announced that it had received its third Airbus A350 XWB on Feb. 1.

The airline made the announcement in a statement issued by its Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Tewolde GebreMariam in Lagos on Saturday.

GebreMariam explained that the aircraft was named after Erta Ale, a large basaltic shield volcano located in the Afar Region of north-eastern Ethiopia.

According to him, as part of the airline’s continuous fleet modernisation programme, it has now phased in a third Airbus A350 XWB 900 to further improve customers’ experience.

The group CEO said both the B-787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A-350 were the most technologically advanced airplanes in the world today.

“We are highly delighted that we are one of the very few airlines in the world to own and operate both airplanes at their early stage in service.

“Ethiopian Airlines customers will have the special privilege of experiencing the superior features and services of both airplanes.

Image result for Ethiopia airways

“These environmentally green airplanes are enabling us to expand our vast network to new and exciting destinations like Oslo in Norway, Singapore, Chengdu in China, Jakarta in Indonesia, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Antananarivo in Madagascar,” he said.

GebreMariam said that apart from the on board game changing aircraft, passengers would experience the latest high-definition touch-screen personal monitors with even more movies, television series, and audio channels.

The airline boss further explained that passengers would also enjoy wider seats and larger windows, the lowest twin engine noise level in the skies, advanced air conditioning technology, and full LED mood lighting.

“All of these amenities will enhance comfort and reduce jet-lag after a long flight,” he said.

GebreMariam said the new aircraft had a configuration of 30 Cloud Nine business, 313 economy class seats.

Ethiopian airline was the first African Airline to take delivery of Airbus A350 XWB in 2016.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

NTDC partners private sector to develop tourist sites

The Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) says it is partnering with the private sector to develop some tourist sites in the country.

The Acting Director-General of the Corporation, Mrs Mariel Rae-Omoh disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at a news conference on a proposed book launch.

The title of the book is, “Redefining Tourism in Nigeria: The Real Issues and Challenges,’’ written by Ogbonna Okoronkwo and Nwankwo Rapheal.

According to her, the corporation will focus on developing the sector in order to promote market as well as assist in the development of the Nigerian tourism industry.

She said that the FCT would be used as the launching pad for the tourist sites.

“ The corporation has also commenced work with the private sectors towards the development of tourist sites in the country using FCT as a launching pad.’’

Rae-Omoh added that the NTDC would also focus on developing a template for running tourism in the country.

She said the corporation will also engage in youth tourism development through education and exposure; embracing all stakeholders in the sector.

The acting D-G also said that the book was targeted towards empowering the public, particularly the youths.

She stressed the need for adequate knowledge on tourism potential and the need to contribute towards revamping the sector.

“ The book would promote rural tourism-based enterprises, create jobs, reduce unemployment and urban migration, as well as create more awareness at the grassroots on tourism development at the Federal, State and Local Government levels.’’

Rae-Omoh said there was need for the private sector to continue collaboration with the government towards developing tourism.

In his remark, the Team Leader, Rapok Production Ventures, Prof. Osmond Onyeka, said the essence of the book was to empower stakeholders, particularly the youths on tapping the abundant tourism potential.

Onyeka said the book would be massively produced and sent to schools, tourist sites and other relevant places to stimulate the thinking and assist in advertising the tourism potential in the country.

He stressed the need to develop the sector, which he said, would reduce out flux of people travelling out of the country for vacation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the book “Redefining Tourism in Nigeria: The Real Issues and Challenges,’’ would be launched on Feb. 14 by Alhaji Aliko Dangote.

NAN also reports that Prof. Joseph Mamman and Bishop Mattew Kukah will review the book.

Encourage excursion to nation’s museums, Pupils tell school owners

Some school pupils on Thursday in Lagos urged proprietors to encourage their pupils to regularly tour the nation’s museums to enrich knowledge about Nigeria history.

They spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews during their excursion to the National Museum Onikan, Lagos.

Miss Shemsiyyah Ibrahim, a pupil of Smilley Kids Montessori School, Sango-Tedo, Lagos, said she was happy to see the instrument used on young girls and women for circumcision in the olden days.

“Immediately I saw that instrument, l started imagining the pains they went through before, during and after the circumcision.

“I think the issue of circumcision is clearer to me now; and above all, I am happy with all I saw, I will like to come back here,” she said.

Also, Master Temiloluwa Odetundun, said, “I saw the pictures of past Prime Ministers and past Presidents of Nigeria whose names we have been hearing, but no picture to march the faces.’’

Odetundun said that he was able to put pictures to every information and knowledge already acquired in school about those names.

“ I saw the pictures of Past Presidents, Heads of State and their Vice Presidents since 1960 to date.

“I saw Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister’s picture, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Gen J.T.U Aguyi Ironsi, Brig. Babafemi Ogundipe, the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters.

“Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Military Head of State and Vice Adm. Joseph Edet Akinwale, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters.

“I also saw the picture of Gen. Murtala Ramat Muhammed, the late Military Head of State, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and Maj.-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters then.

“Alhaji Shehu Shagari, former President and his vice, Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekweme; Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as former Military Head of State and the late Brig. Babatunde Idiagbon, the then Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters.

“I also saw the pictures of Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida as the Military President, Cdr Ebitu Ukiwe, the Chief of General Staff and that of Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, Chief of General Staff.

“I saw Chief Ernest Shonekan picture, the Head of Interim National Government, late Gen. Sani Abacha’s picture as the military Head of State and Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya, then Chief of General Staff.

“ I think with all I saw in the museum, I believe the stories more now,” he said.

Also, Miss Glory Ewa, a pupil of New Generation Baptist School, Lagos, said that she saw the slave chains used during slave trade era.

“We were told about the story of slave trade in school, and now I have seen the chains used on them, it is so big! I feel like shedding tears,” Ewa said.

Narrating her experience, Miss Fazzilet Siyaka from Itian Bell Schools, Lagos, told NAN that apart from schools, parents should also endeavour to bring their children to the museums.

Siyaka said that this would encourage pupils to learn more at their own leisure.

“I love all I have seen and I will tell my mother to bring me here at least every quarter, so that I can learn more,” she said.

When contacted, Mrs Christine Daniel, the Coordinator, Itian Bell Schools, said that the school had been exposing its pupils to the study of slavery, circumcision, past leaders and more about Nigeria History.

Daniel said that the pupils were at the museum to learn more and prepare them for the studies of the museum in secondary school.

“We have taught them a lot about the History of Nigeria; we brought them here to see all that we have teaching them in classes to enable them to understand better.

Also, Mr Paul Ikposhi, the coordinator of pupils from the New Generation Baptist School, said that the pupils were at the museum to make real everything they had been taught in school.

AMCON takes over Arik Air, Sirika explains

The Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on Thursday said it has taken over the operation of Nigeria’s largest domestic carrier, Arik Air.

Mr Jude Nwauzor, AMCON spokesperson, confirmed the development to newsmen in Lagos.

Nwauzor said the airline would now be managed by Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, an aviation expert under the receivership of Mr Oluseye Opasanya (SAN).

He said the government decided to intervene because Arik Air is immersed in heavy debt burden that is threatening to ground its operations.

“For some time now, the airline, which carries about 55 per cent of the load in the country, has been going through difficult times that are attributable to its bad corporate governance and erratic operational challenges.

“Others are inability to pay staff salaries and heavy debt burden among other issues, which led to the call for authorities in the country to intervene before the airline goes under like many before it,’’ he said.

Nwauzor said the move underscores government’s decision to instil sanity in the nation’s aviation sector.

According to him, the development will afford the airline to go back to regular and undisrupted operations, avoid job losses, protect investors and stakeholder funds as well as ensure safety and stability in the already challenged aviation sector.

Also, the Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, in another statement obtained by NAN further explained the rationale behind the intervention of the government in the troubled airline.

Sirika said: “We believe that this takeover is timely and will stabilise the operations of the airline.

“This will enhance the long term economic value of Arik Air and revitalise the airline’s ailing operations as well as sustain safety standards, in view of the airline’s pivotal role in the Nigerian aviation sector,’’ he said.

The minister further pledged that the Federal Ministry of Aviation would support the new management of the airline.

According to him, all necessary steps have been taken to ensure that there will be no undue disruption of the airline’s regular business operations or activities of stakeholders, on account of the recent changes in its leadership.

However, Ilegbodu assured both staff of the troubled airline and all other stakeholders that his appointment at Arik would among other objectives enhance the value of the airline.

He said it would also improve customer experience, and sustain the safety, reliability of the airline before all those values were eroded.

“As a matter of fact, Arik Air has been in a precarious situation largely attributable to its heavy financial debt burden, bad corporate governance, erratic operational challenges and other issues.

“This required immediate intervention in order to guarantee the continued survival of the Airline.

“Yesterday, Arik temporarily suspended its flight operations to the John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, United States, claiming that the two Airbus A330-200 aircraft dedicated to the route have been taken to France for C check at the same time.

“Equally more than eight aircraft are currently grounded at the tarmac making it difficult to meet their routine commercial flights,’’ Ilegbodu said.

NAN reports that the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) also on Wednesday stormed the airline’s office at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos and also grilled its Chairman, Mr Joseph Arumemi-Ikhedi for several hours.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Minister Kick-starts Tour of Tourist Sites With Visit To Owu Fall

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, kicked-started a tour of tourist sites in the country with a visit to the spectacular Owu Waterfall in Kwara State weekend.

The Minister, who was accompanied by representatives of the local community in which the Waterfall is located, and officials of the Kwara State Ministry of Culture and Tourism , described Owu Waterfall as one of the wonders of nature, saying the government is now looking toward natural assets like the waterfall with a view to developing them for economic benefits.

"We are all awed by the awesomeness nature of the Almighty. You can't begin to wonder where is the source of this water and what I found most enticing and really baffling is the louder we shout, the more the volume of the waterfall. This is one of those natural assets that we have been bestowed with and there is no country that has this kind of assets that will not be able to exploit it for economic benefit," he said.

From Left: Accountant, Kwara State Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Alhaja Salawu Awawu Funmilayo; Secretary,Owa-Onire Central Planning Committee, Mr. Sunday Akanbi; Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Kwara State, Alhaja Iyabo Jolade Adewuyi; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; General Manager, Tourism Board Kwara State, Mr Taye Alabede; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture and
Tourism, Kwara State, Dr. Rhoda Ajiboye and Special Assistant to Kwara State Governor on Culture and Tourism Mr. Femi Adebayo, when the M\inister visited Owu Waterfall in Kwara State on Sunday
Alhaji Mohammed underscored the dearth of infrastructure as one of the major challenges confronting tourism development in Nigeria, but expressed optimism that the revitalization of the Presidential Council on Tourism (PCT) will bring about synergy within the government to surmount the challenge.

"Fortunately we have been very busy trying to revitalize the Presidential Council on Tourism because tourism is not a stand-alone ministry. Without the cooperation of other ministries such as Power, Works and Housing - because you need to provide road, electricity and security - you cannot actually have a vibrant tourism industry.
“ I am happy I came here personally today and I have seen it and at the next meeting of the Steering Committee of the PCT, we will actually put this across," he said.

The Minister promised to liaise with his counterpart in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to give priority to the construction of the 7-kilometer access road to the waterfall.

He also commended the Owa-Onire Community and the Kwara State Government for encouraging tourists to visit the Owu Waterfall through the facilitation of access and the provision of security.

The Tour Guide , Mr. Akanbi Sunday, who chronicled the history of the Owu Waterfall, thanked Alhaji Mohammed for being the first-ever Minister of Information and Culture to visit the waterfall.

Meridiana Fly reaffirms commitment to Nigeria, Ghana markets

Meridiana Fly, Italy’s fastest growing airline has reaffirmed its commitment to the Nigerian and Ghanaian markets by confirming both routes in their summer schedule for 2017.

The airline, in partnership with Ghana’s first affiliated global aviation advisory firm -Dre Aviation and one of Nigeria’s leading airlines Dana Air, recently launched its operations into the West African market.

Speaking to newsmen in Lagos on Tuesday, the Managing Director of Dre Aviation, Mr Paul Saade, said the airline was pleased with the success-rate it had recorded within its short entry.

Saade said :“A prudent approach was taken by Meridiana when entering these highly competitive markets but we have demonstrated stable operations and a growing commercial presence for them in West Africa and they are pleased with the results.

“Based on the feedback from our guests, we have also rescheduled the flight times which now means a late evening departure from Lagos which arrives in Italy’s Milan Malpensa Airport early the next day.

“This allows our Nigerian passengers to onward connect onto Meridiana services into Europe and beyond.

” This is a compelling proposition as the fares are much cheaper than other carriers into Europe and offers a real alternative for the travelling public. “Our fares start at 350 dollars all in for a one way ticket into Europe.”

He noted that more frequencies would be added in due course and Dre Aviation was ramping up the market initiative for the carrier in both Ghana and Nigeria.

According to him, Dre Aviation, which is also Meridiana Fly’s office GSA partner for Sierra Leone and Liberia, are seeing demand for connecting passengers from these markets into Italy grow via the Lagos service.

Saade said the Nigerian partner, Dana Air, had flown 4.5 million passengers in the last eight years of its operation and currently operates over 27 daily flights from Lagos to Abuja, Port Harcourt, Uyo and Owerri.

He said the airline was reputed for its superior on–time performance, world-class in-flight service and customer service.  

Ethiopian Airlines says U.S. travel ban causing confusion for passengers

Ethiopian Airlines chief executive said on Tuesday that a U.S. order temporarily halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority states was creating confusion for passengers.

Tewolde Gebremariam told Reuters in Addis Ababa that although the directive was confusing, it was yet to have much impact overall on the operations of the airline.

“It is affecting air travel because people are nervous and confused. There is no clarity in the executive order,” Tewolde said.

“It has led to a few cancellations and refunds by Ethiopian Airlines to passengers.

“Operationally it has not created any disruption to us, either on our schedule or our customer service.”

An Ethiopian official said last week that nine Yemenis were deported from America on an Ethiopian Airlines flight after President Donald Trump’s travel ban for seven countries.

Yemen, which lies a short distance from Ethiopia and Somalia, which shares a land border are among the seven nations on the list whose citizens are affected by the ban.

He, however, said the airline’s revenue rose 10.3 per cent to 54.5 billion birr ($2.43 billion) in the 2015/16 fiscal year, while passenger numbers climbed 18 per cent to 7.6 million.

He said net profit was up 70 per cent at 6 billion birr.

He said 2015/16 produced record revenue and net profit but the airline still faced challenges, particularly in African states where foreign exchange shortages meant it could not repatriate earnings held in local currency.

He said the airline had local currency holdings worth $220 million in Nigeria, Angola, Sudan, Egypt and some other states.

According to him, this is losing value as the local currency depreciated, partly because lower oil prices had hit oil-producing economies.

“This is a huge challenge for us. We saw tremendous pressure on our revenue from these countries,” he said.

He added that the issue undermined benefits of an oil price fall during 2015/2016.

The state carrier is Sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest by revenue and has been rapidly expanding with regular plane orders in its bid to become a global player through its increasingly crowded hub in Addis Ababa.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

We shall collaborate with professionals to boost tourism, says Ag. D-G of NTDC

Mrs Mariel Rae-Omoh, the acting Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) ,said on Thursday that the corporation had resolved to work with stakeholders to move the industry forward.

Rae-Omoh during an interactive session with stakeholders in the tourism sector in Lagos said that collaborating with professionals was one of her cardinal objectives for the sector.

“I have my cardinal objectives; and the major goal is to sell the country’s tourism potential to the outside world and, in turn, boost our economy.

“We can only achieve our goals when the experts in the sector join their voices and ideas with ours. Then, we will set the goals to be met and come out with a practicable blue print to achieve the set objectives,” she said.

According to her, stakeholders are quite key in any development; so they must be embraced in order to succeed, especially, in this industry.

She noted that though some of the tourism sites were not in place, the blue print to be produced would centre on reviving identified tourism sites and developing those that had existed.

That would pull foreign tourists into the country, she said.

She added that boosting the morale of the staff would further accelerate the mission of boosting the industry.

“The staff is the engine behind the success of any organization; if they have low morale, the outcome will not be successful so they must be adequately motivated,’’ she said.

She, however, urged the stakeholders and the press to collaborate with the corporation toward achieving the basic goal of promoting the corporate image of Nigeria to the international world.

“Our basic goal is to sell our country to the world; we cannot do it on the pages of the newspapers.

“The professionals and stakeholders should be the ones fronting the goals on our behalf; so we need to collaborate with them.

“I need a lot of workable advice, suggestions and challenges from those on the field so that the industry can become an economic hold for the country,’’ she said.