By Ebun Sessou
African top 100 women in tourism will on September 9 and 11 gather at the 14th edition of the Akwaaba African Travel Market in collaboration with ATQ News, Africa’s online travel news portal at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos to discuss issues relating to tourism in Africa.
The event which is an annual travel show and exhibition would this year take a new dimension to award and recognize Africa top 100 tour operators who have contributed immensely to tourism in Africa.
Speaking on the event, the founding member of the #TeamAfrica, Mr. Ikechi Uko, who is also the organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market expressed his excitement about the awards as he also shed light on the award for the Africa Top 100 Tour Operators.
In his words, “Last year we celebrated the awards of the Africa Travel 100 Women at the 13th Akwaaba Travel Market.
“During that event, top of the Class, great and industrious women who have established themselves in and are still driving the growth of travel business from across Africa gathered in Lagos for that memorable Africa Travel 100 Women awards. The resounding reception, feedback and transformation that event set forth in Africa coupled with the massive acceptance we received from every country in Africa and beyond was great. Today many Countries have set up Women in Tourism organisations and we are proud to have helped set it off.
“Our vision is to stimulate Intra Africa Tourism. We need to get at least 10 percent of Africans to travel within Africa. This can only work with the support of Tour Operators. We are going a step further this year to recognize and celebrate the core professional outbound Tour Operators who are at the fore of attracting and moving Africans outside their own countries to explore the abundance of the beauties of our Africa.
“Africa remains a great goldmine whose tourism potentials remain unmatched and untapped. So you can nominate your Top 5 of such operators. Nominations should be only for tour operators who do outbound tours to other African countries. According to the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, “Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region where Travel and Tourism competitiveness is the least developed. Although regional performance has increased, it has improved less compared to other parts of the world. Southern Africa remains the strongest sub-region, followed by Eastern Africa and then Western Africa. Yet, on average, Eastern Africa is the most improved region, while Southern Africa has experienced a slight decline. And that considering the size and the rich cultural and natural resources, the 63 million tourists visiting the continent in 2017 remain low”.
“It is against this background that the Africa Top 100 Tour Operators were chosen. Only Destination Marketing Companies (DMCs) that market mainly Regional Destinations were selected.
“Africa is a continent of Over 1 billion people but receives only 6percent of the global tourist Arrivals. As the middle class and number of travelers increase there is a need to organize the Tourism and Travel landscape by growing scale. Some organizations have grown continent wide operations but most operators are still small and limited to their countries. There is a need to organize the Tour Operators on a larger scale across countries
“To this end Akwaaba African Travel market is pulling together all major outbound tour operators in Africa to a Summit in Lagos on the 10th of September. This Summit will enable players from Different countries to build partnership and explore new opportunities to grow.
“The 14th Akwaaba African Travel Market will also host Africa Tour Operators Conference. During the session, the theme, “The Role of DMCs and DMOs in Sustainable Destination Marketing in Africa will be discussed with sub – topics including What are the Challenges? 2. Should it be Competition or Corporation? 3. What are the Effective Models? 4. Who is Responsible?
“Another event slated for the 14th Akwaaba African Travel Market is the Africa Youth in Tourism Summit. Tourism is the largest employer of labour in the world and is known to mop up large numbers of employable youth in most countries. With a large youth population in Nigeria who need to be gainfully employed, there is a need to broaden the scope of opportunities available for the Nigerian and by extension the African youth in the Tourism Sector.
“In Nigeria, Domestic tourism promotions is controlled by the youth. This year, we have extended invitations to more than 200 tourism youth tour operators across the country”, he explained.