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BusinessDay 08 Apr 2018

44 C002D5556 Sunday

44 C002D5556 Sunday 08 April 2018 Travel New NATOP sets to emerge in Jos AGM …outgoing executive assures on sustainability of professionalism, feats OBINNA EMELIKE As members of the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) converge in Jos, the Plateau State capital, for their Annual General Meetings (AGM) 2018 from tomorrow, stakeholders in the Nigerian tourism industry hopes for the best in the elective meeting, especially for competent hands to emerge and steer the association to greater heights. Well, the outgoing executive has done well in repositioning the association, seeking fruitful collaborations in promoting Nigerian tourism and exposing its membership to international best practice in their business. To sustain the feats of the association, Nkereuwem Onung, the outgoing president of NATOP and his executive, are not leaving any stone unturned at ensuring a smooth transition of power and most importantly, that competent hands take charge after the AGM. On April 9, 2018 at Hill Station Hotel, venue of the AGM, Onung assures that he will deliver a new and more professional association to members, Nigerian tourism sector and the country at large. However, the elective AGM is going to be very interesting for many things. First, this is the first time NATOP is holding its AGM in the Jos and in any northern Nigerian city. Again, NATOP executives have resolved to roll in younger leaders to encourage the youths to take charge, learn and impact the society better. As well, the outgoing president recalled the past, the feats and need to achieve. From 15 professional tour operators registered by NTDC in 2011 when other travel associations had over 2000 registered members, Onung is excited that today, NATOP has grown to a national association that is reckoned with by Nigerians. Over the years, the association has also become the voice of tourism private sector and has engaged government on contentious issues. Of course, the growing relevance in matter of tourism Nigerian has become a thing of envy to other associations. Onung and the entire members of NATOP are grateful to Segun Runsewe, director general, Nigerian Council of Art and Culture, then the director general, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), who in 2011 officially registered tour operators as professional tourism practitioners in Nigeria. “Let me use this medium to appreciate all members of NATOP especially the present executives for their solidarity and steadfastness that has been exhibited in the past years. It has been a long Journey. We picked up an association at a fragile stage with very few members and little visibility and have seen it grow into limelight and prominence to the extent that other associations feel threatened. We have witnessed desperate Nigerian tourism media, experts decry wildlife depletion Nigeria’s travel and tourism journalists have collectively spoken against the continuing attacks on the local wildlife population, calling on the government and other relevant institutions to take the problem seriously. “As a nation we need to let people know that these animals are national assets,” says Ikechi Uko, publisher of African Travel Quarterly (ATQ) magazine and an influential voice on the continent. “Nigeria needs to make a lot more effort to protect the few animals left by shaming the killers and prosecuting some.” Wale Olapade, Tourism Editor at the Nigerian Tribune proposes stiff penalties for indiscriminate poaching Nkereuwem Onung that goes on daily in Nigeria. “Also there is need for a long-term campaign on the importance of game reserves and wildlife parks as it relates to the socio- economic wellbeing of Nigeria’s eco-tourism landscape,” he adds. “Nigeria is just full of people who only think about what to eat today and not how to feed a community for the long-term,” says travel blogger and author, Pelu Awofeso who has already started a social-media campaign #SaveNigeriasWildlife in the hope that it will help draw more attention to the issue. “Imagine how many more tourists would be drawn to Idanre town if they learned there was an Elephant colony there.”Early in March photo- graphs of a dead elephant, the hunter who killed it and a crowd of onlookers in Janiyi village (Idanre, Ondo State) surfaced on Nigeria’s social media. It became an instant talking point on several online platforms and the focus of newspaper editorials. Oddly enough, this shooting happened in the same week that the international community marked World Wildlife. According to news reports, the locals claimed that over time herds of elephants had repeatedly strayed into the community, and in the process destroyed crops and houses, and trampled on people. And so fed up with constantly being in the mammals’ arms way, the locals called on the hunters, who tracked the elephants and eventually shot one. “There are many ways this is wrong, but you can’t fix a problem permanently if the origin of the problem isn’t dealt with,” said the twitter handle @LogicallySpeakn, reacting to a tweet with hundreds of comments, likes and retweets. “Are the agencies in charge of wildlife in Nigeria ignorant too? It’s easy to blame the shooter, what about the people who let it happen?” During the celebration of World Environment Day in June 2016, Nigeria’s former Environment Minister and currently United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed was quoted to have said: “The status of wildlife in the country leaves efforts by some individuals who are not tour operators and some outside forces attempting to scuttle and hijack the association and crash it. Thanks to a few dedicated members of the association who stood firm, supported and funded the association up until now. I appreciate them”, the elated outgoing president explained. He also noted that Plateau State government should be commended for accepting to host the AGM and also making history as the first Northern State to host the meeting. “Plateau State Government, in an attempt to refresh and highlight “Destination Plateau”, has accepted much to be desired, as the rate of depletion of the population of animals like the elephants, leopards, giraffes and crocodiles amongst others are frightening.” Shocked and upset, Nigerians chastised the “ignorant” hunter for depriving the village of a potential source of tourist dollars. Some commentators called for him to be prosecuted, arguing that his action was ill-advised and dents ongoing biodiversity conservation efforts in the country; many called for hunter groups nationwide and communities to be better educated on the importance and benefits of preserving the unique animal and plant species in their communities. “It is a shame that a nation which once had the most diverse population of elephants in the world can now boast only a few because they have been hunted almost to extinction,” writes ThisDay, a national newspaper. “The Idanre Forest Reserve, where the latest tragedy took place, covers 561 square kilometres and is a designated nature reserve of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.” The hills of Idanre are also a UNES- CO World Heritage Site, one of two to be found in Nigeria, which has seven National Parks. The West African country is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and his laws—the to host tour operators from April 7-9, 2018”, he said. In appreciation of the gesture, Onung said, NATOP has agreed to partner with the government to help grow another tourism destination in Nigeria, thereby promoting domestic tourism. Speaking on the rationale for moving the AGM to the northern region, the outgoing president said, “NATOP is a National Association and as such, her AGM should be rotated across the country.This will be my last AGM as president, and as such I invite all members to take advantage of the event and promote tourism in the Plateau”. Highlighting some of his achievements, Onung said he has grown and stabilized membership of the association. “Abuja is Nigeria’s federal capital and should have a strong presence of NATOP. The executive took the initiative to set up a chapter in Abuja because it is the duty of executive to propel the association. After Abuja, Warri/Port Harcourt and the South East are the next in line for inauguration”, he assured. The outgoing president also appreciates his predecessors. “I want to use this medium to thank Fatima Garbati who steered the ship of NATOP in the past and handed over to us. I believe that a new NATOP will emerge after Jos AGM where young professionals will be given opportunity to participate”. Tamukat Weli, Commissioner for Tourism, Plateau State and her team, wait to fete NATOP members and Nigerian tourism stakeholders to the hospitality of Plateau. National Park Service Act, the Endangered Species Act, The Forestry Act and Wild Animals Act—to protect its flora and fauna heritage. Apparently, they’ve been largely overlooked. There have been slaughters of this nature in recent years, reported in the media but largely ignored by the authorities. In January, six chimpanzees as well as a manatee were killed in Delta State; conservationists say that three manatees were also killed in Lagos weeks earlier. In December 2017, local vigilantes killed an African Civet in Benin City (Edo State). Back in February of the same year, locals in an Abuja locality captured and killed a Hippopotamus; and whales that washed up on the shores in Lagos, Ondo and Akwa Ibom States were cut in pieces and shared. In all of these cases, the locals ate their catch. Newspaper reports quote the commissioners for environment, tourism and culture in Ondo State as saying they couldn’t be bothered. Curiously, the public institutions with responsibilities for tourism promotion and development—the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture (FMIC), the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), the National Parks Service (NPS), the Forestry Research Institute, to mention just four — have been mostly silent on these developments.

Sunday 08 April 2018 C002D5556 BDSUNDAY 45 Travel Strong passenger demand resumes, as February sees increase in load factor Stories by IFEOMA OKEKE The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced global passenger traffic results for February showing a rebound in traffic growth following the slower demand experienced in January, which was owing to temporary factors including the later timing of the Lunar New Year in 2018. Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) for the month rose 7.6%, compared to February 2017, up from 4.6% year-overyear growth in January. Monthly capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 6.3%, and load factor rose 0.9 percentage point to 80.4%, surpassing the previous record for the month of 79.5%, which was set in February 2017. “As expected, we saw a return to stronger demand growth in February, after the temporary slowdown in January. This is being supported by the robust economic backdrop and solid business confidence. However, increases in fuel prices--and labor costs in some countries likely will temper the amount of traffic stimulation from lower airfares this year,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director Infrastructure, costs key to harness power of aviation – IATA The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean to focus on infrastructure, costs and the region’s regulatory framework. By concentrating on these areas, the economic and social benefits of aviation can be maximized while accommodating the region’s expanding demand for air connectivity. Aviation already plays an important role in the region’s economy, employing some five million people and supporting $170 billion in GDP. “We need effective infrastructure to accommodate growth; reasonable costs and taxes that don’t kill it; and a modern regula- General and CEO, said. International passenger markets February international passenger demand rose 7.2% compared to February 2017, which was up from the 4.2% increase recorded in January. Led by airlines in Latin America, all regions recorded better year-on-year growth compared to January’s results. Total capacity climbed 5.9%, and load factor rose 1.0 percentage point to 79.3%. African airlines experienced a 6.3% rise in traffic for the month compared to the yearago period. The growth occurred amid an improving regional economic backdrop. Business confidence in Nigeria has risen sharply over the past 15 months while a reduction in political uncertainty in South Africa has contributed to an improvement in business confidence there for the first time in more than a year. Capacity rose 3.3%, and load factor climbed 1.9 percentage points to 67.8%. European carriers saw February demand increase by 6.8% compared to a year ago, a modest acceleration compared to a 6.0% increase in January. Passenger volumes are trending upwards at a double-digit annualized rate alongside sup- tory framework that supports it,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO during a speech at the Wings of Change – Chile conference in Santiago. “Demand for air travel is outpacing both airport capacity growth and the upgrades to air traffic management systems. In the last decade the number of passengers carried by the region’s airlines has more than doubled. And by 2036, we expect more than 750 million journeys will touch the region. Without concerted action today, we are headed towards a crisis,” said de Juniac. IATA called for the region’s governments to work with industry to develop a long-term strategy that will ensure sufficient capacity, portive economic conditions in the region. Capacity rose 5.0% and load factor increased 1.4 percentage points to 82.2%, highest among regions. Asia-Pacific airlines’ February traffic rose 9.1% compared to the year-ago period. Demand is being supported by healthy regional economic growth and expansion in the number of routes on offer. Capacity increased 8.4% and load factor climbed 0.6 percentage point to 80.5%. Middle East carriers recorded a 3.4% demand increase in February compared to a year ago. Capacity rose 3.9% and load affordable costs and service and technical expertise aligned with user needs. The region’s key capacity challenges are Buenos Aires, Bogota, Lima, Mexico City, Havana and Santiago. “Unless they are addressed, Latin American economies will suffer. If planes cannot land, the economic benefits that they bring will fly elsewhere,” said de Juniac. He highlighted Mexico City and Santiago as the most pressing: Mexico City is the most critical of the bottlenecks. The current airport was designed for 32 million passengers annually but serves 47 million. “The solution is a new airport which is already under construction. But its future has been politicized in the current presidential election. The critical need for the new airport needs to be understood by all,” said de Juniac. In Santiago much-needed airport terminal capacity is being built but transparency is lacking, service levels are suffering and user costs are increasing. This threatens to upend the long-standing partnership between government, airlines and other stakeholders that helped create one the most advanced air transport hubs in the region and a thriving tourism industry. On costs, de Juniac said, “Latin America and the Caribbean is factor slipped 0.3 percentage point to 74.1%. Carriers in the region faced significant headwinds over the past year including the temporary ban on large portable electronic devices as well as the proposed travel bans to the US from some countries in the region. Domestic passenger markets Domestic travel demand rose 8.2% in February compared to February 2017, up from 4.9% year-over-year growth in January, with all markets reporting increases, led by India and China. Domestic capacity climbed 7.0%, and load factor increased 0.9 percentage point to 82.3%. an expensive place to do business. Taxes, fees, and government policies create a great burden. Today governments see aviation as a revenue source. But it is more powerful as a revenue catalyst. Reducing the costs of doing business will pay big economic and social dividends.” IATA cited several areas where the cost burden of government policies and taxes is excessive and counter-productive: Brazil’s fuel pricing policy adds $800 million in costs annually. Ecuador and Colombia suffer from the exorbitant costs charged by monopoly fuel suppliers—made all the worse in Ecuador where there also is a 5% fuel tax. Colombia has a connectivity tax, an exit tax and now the municipal mayors are planning to tax air travelers $5.00 to subsidize road infrastructure. Argentina has high passenger fees made worse by the monopoly pricing and poor service of its only ground handling company. In St. Lucia, taxes and fees (including the Airport Development Fee) are rising in order to repair roads and construct a cruise ship terminal. Tourism taxes are rash across the region (Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Costa Rica and St. Lucia), deterring tourists with higher costs. Turkish Airlines launches direct flights to Aqaba, its 2nd destination to be served in Jordan With existing services to Amman, Turkish Airlines has added Aqaba to its flight network as the 2nd destination in Jordan. Flights will be operated 3 times per week, with round trip fares available from Istanbul to Aqaba starting at 404 US Dollars (including taxes and fees). Additionally, there is a special offer for Miles&Smiles members to be used for their trips departing from Turkey provided that completed by 11th June 2018, and the trips departing from Aqaba provided that completed by 12th June 2018, with a 25% reduction in the miles needed to redeem either award tickets or upgrades. Lufthansa’s global advertising campaign introduces raffle with chances to win tickets ‘ Say yes to the world,’ discover it and explore it together with an open mind: this is the heart of Lufthansa’s new global advertising campaign, which has gone live in many international markets across various communication channels. The campaign is one of the most innovative in the company’s history as it aims to question familiar ways of thinking and habits, while demonstrating how enriching it is to discover the world. As part of the campaign, Lufthansa is launching a #SayYesTo- TheWorld raffle, where contestants can register to win flight tickets to destinations operated by Lufthansa. The first place winner will receive two Business Class round trip tickets for an intercontinental destination. The second place winner will receive two round trip tickets for an intercontinental destination in Economy Class. The third and the fourth place winners will be selected for two round trip tickets each, to a continental destination in Economy Class. The contest will be valid until 15 April 2018 and winners will be selected in May 2018. With #SayYesToTheWorld Lufthansa encourages people to open-up to the world by asking them questions that create more awareness and allow them to see a journey as a source of inspiration. As part of the cross-media campaign, Lufthansa installed aircraft seats at public locations in Munich, Shanghai and New York, and asked people walking by to sit in the seats and answer the question “Why do you love the world?” The campaign does not include statement but rather open questions that can be answered based on personal and unique experiences.

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