44 C002D5556 Sunday 15 April 2018 Travel NATOP ushers in a new dawn …as new president emerges, promises more visibility OBINNA EMELIKE No doubt, the past two years have been good for the National Association of Tour Operators (NATOP). The period witnessed two successful Annual General Meetings (AGM), in Calabar and Lagos amid other activities that have combined to raise the profile and visibility of the association after a long lull of inactivity in the national tourism scene. Within the two years period, the association had strong partnerships with public and private sectors, organised scores of roadshows, celebrated World Tourism Day, attended trade exhibitions, trained members, among others. But the biggest of the feats is the membership drive, which has seen an association of 15 members about two years ago, grow into a national association with members across the country. Besides inaugurating the FCT chapter with the South Eastern and South South chapters coming up soon, the association has also reintegrated and reinforced its membership with the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN) and other associations. Well, a great deal of credit goes to Nkereuwem Onung, the immediate past president of the association and his executive who worked tirelessly to ensure that the association gained relevance in the national tourism scene. It was on the above ground that the 2018 NATOP elective AGM was 2nd (from left) Bilkisu Abdul, president, NATOP, Rabo Saleh, president, FTAN, presenting an award of excellence to Simon Laloang, governor, Plateau State, which was received by Yakubu Dati, the commissioner for Information at the recently concluded NATOP AGM in Jos. imperative in order to elect the right people to further lift the association higher from the point of relevance the immediate past executive has left it. As expected the AGM, which held in Jos, the Plateau State capital on April 9, 2018 had some intrigues. Before the election there was tension as some members who wanted to contest accused the Executives of setting up the Abuja chapter in March to recruit members to vote at the AGM for a preferred candidate who was the general secretary. To resolve the issue the president followed the Constitution and asked all new members who were less than two years old to leave the hall. This included all but two of the Abuja chapter members. The President stepped aside and the Board of Trustees conducted the elections among the verified members. At the end of the tension packed election, Bilkisu Abdul of BBOG Travels, an Abuja-based tour operator, was elected the National President while Ime Udo, a Lagos-based tour operator, was elected the Vice President. A new BOT was also constituted at the AGM. The members include; Kabiru Malan, former NANTA president, Fatima Garbati, former president of NATOP, Jemi Alade, pioneer tour operator, Gabe Onah, chairman, Carnival Calabar Commission, Nkereuwem Onung, immediate past president, NATOP, Josephine Anenih and Ikechi Uko, a travel expert. In her acceptance speech, Bilkisu extended a hand of fellowship to the two candidates she had defeated in the elections and promised to work with all members to make gain more visibility for the association at the national tourism scene. Earlier in his speech, Onung asked the federal and state governments to place more premium on marketing destination Nigeria. “We need to emphasize more on domestic assets and develop them. Marketing at International Trade Shows should resume. Tourism is a federal Government matter and Government needs to walk the talk”, he noted. He also advised the new executives to ensure that NATOP remains a national association by inaugurating other regions after Abuja chapter. “I advise the incoming executive to take training of members seriously in view of the influx of hospitality practitioners and travel agents into NATOP”, he concluded. As well, Plateau State government, the host, commende NATOP for choosing the state as its firstever host in the northern part of the country. In his speech at the event, Simon Bako Lalong, governor of Plateau State, who was represented by Sonni Tyoden, his deputy, assured the tour operators present that his state is making efforts at developing tourist sites and also providing conducive environment for the promotion of tourism. He explained that upon assumption of office about three years ago, his administration unveiled a five policy trust governance intervention agenda.“The first item on this agenda is peace, security and good governance. And the fifth is the provision of greater infrastructure and the development of a sustainable environment. The security of lives and property in an environment of peace as a primary concern of government is the fulcrum upon which we desire to promote the attainment of a sustainable environment”. The AGM, which held on the theme: ‘Security Challenges and Promotion of Tourism in Nigeria’ with a paper presentation on the theme by Ona Ekhomu, also witnessed many cultural performances by cultural troupes across the state and a tour of some tourism attractions in the state by the delegates. Ambode commends Ministry of Culture, promises support in hosting UNWTO/CAF meeting The governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, has commended the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, for his efforts to reposition culture and tourism in the country. The governor made the commendation when the Minister paid him a courtesy visit in Lagos on Thursday, in connection with Nigeria’s hosting of the 61st Meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization/ Commission for Africa (UNWTO/CAF) in Abuja from June 4-6, 2018. “I will like to welcome the Minister of Information and Culture back home to the Centre of Excellence. It is always a delight to welcome people like him. He has been very impactful in the last three years in the Ministry of Information and Culture,” he said. Ambode assured that the Lagos State government will support the Federal Government in order to ensure a successful hosting of the global event, adding: “We are happy to associate with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Information and culture in their efforts to reposition tourism and diversifying the nation’s economy.” Earlier, the Minister had said he was in Lagos as part of his nation-wide promotional tour for the 61st edition of the UNWTO/CAF Meeting. From Right: The Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Steve Ayorinde, during the courtesy visit by the Minister at Alausa, Lagos on Thursday to promote the forthcoming 61st UNWTO/CAF Meeting in Abuja “We started the tour in Abuja on Tuesday with a visit to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, because he is the Minister of the meeting’s host city. This is the second stop on the promotional tour that will take us across the country. Lagos, the economic nerve centre of Nigeria, is also a foremost tourist city. It is therefore not a surprise that it is our next port of call after Abuja, which will host the UNWTO/CAF Meeting,” he said. Mohammed said the Meeting is a great opportunity to promote Nigeria’s tourism industry and to showcase the country to the world, especially in the area of its culture and tourism, adding: “And of course, we have a lot to showcase; our tourist attractions, our rich culture, and our music and films, which have taken the world by storm”. He said Lagos State is crucial to the success of the Meeting, especially because the state will host the Technical Visit programme of the Meeting “A major part of the programme is what is referred to as the Technical Visit. For this, we have chosen the Eko Atlantic City as the destination. The choice is not an accident. It is designed to showcase to the world a city that promises to be a tourist haven, with the largest shopping mall in sub- Saharan Africa,” the Minister said. All eyes on Lagos Tourism Summit, as former Ghanaian president presents keynote address Activities lined up for the forthcoming Lagos Tourism Summit is fast gathering momentum as John Mahama, ex-president of Ghana, is set to arrive the country for the Tourism Summit holding on April 16, 2018 at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos . Mahama is expected to deliver the keynote address at the summit, which holds on the theme: Destination Lagos: Towards A Sustainable Tourism-Driven Economy”, and will also feature paper presentations by renowned stakeholders in the tourism business and a panel discussion. Speaking during a press briefing on the summit in Lagos recently, Steve Ayorinde, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Art and Culture, noted that the forthcoming Lagos Tourism Summit is a bold step embarked upon by the Governor Akinwumi Ambode’s administration to demonstrate its commitment towards making Lagos, the foremost tourism destination in Africa. He explained that the idea of the Lagos Tourism Summit is part of the inclusive agenda to allow all stakeholders contribute to the ongoing tourism masterplan being put together by Messrs Earnst and Young on behalf of the Lagos State Government. Ayorinde maintained that the present administration has pursued vigorously his project T.H.E.S.E agenda which seeks to invest in human capital and infrastructure to encourage creativity and promotion of genius minds in arts, entertainment, culture and tourism. He stated that the gathering will provide a rare opportunity to engage stakeholders, professionals, leading academics and scholars, researchers in the tourism, culture, arts and entertainment industry, local and foreign media practitioners to debate, exchange ideas, deliberate and chart a way forward for Lagos tourism. “The idea of the summit is not to find another talk shop but to list out in specific terms the interventions that are needed in producing a masterplan that assist in shaping the tourism sector in Lagos State in the next 15 to 20 years. And so you will find the four sessions at the summit as well as the exhibition hall dwell around the pillars that the proposed Tourism Masterplan, namely: Culture and Heritage, Film Art and Entertainment, Business and MICE, Beach and Leisure, Nature and Adventure and Medical and Wellness.”
Sunday 15 April 2018 C002D5556 BDSUNDAY 45 Travel Arik has increased fleet to 15, flies 5000 passengers daily – AMCON Stories by IFEOMA OKEKE The Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), the receiver manager of Arik Air has disclosed that the airline has increased fleet size from six to 15 operational aircraft and increased number of passengers from 1,400 to 5000 daily. Speaking at a training forum organised on Wednesday for its travel agents in Lagos, Roy Ilegbodu, CEO of Arik Air, said since AMCON took over management of the airline it has been able to stabilise its operations and have resuscitated its current operational aircraft. “We are currently on 15 aircraft now. That we have 15 does not mean that they all operate at the same time. The planes are always going for maintenance that is why we run between 10 and 12 at any point in time,” Ilegbodu added. The CEO who was represented by Omokide Kamilu, the chief commercial officer and head receivership support of AMCOM, said that many Nigerians wants the airline to open international routes but it has chosen to plan probably to avoid getting its hands burnt in the process. “One of the things we realise Lufthansa, Brussels airlines support West African artists residency tour Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines are supporting “Stretched Terrains – The Mobile Museum on its Way to Dak’Art”, a residency program for young artists from Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Germany on the move spanning several countries in West Africa. is that you should not go into international route without proper planning and that it should be well resourced and possible; we should get your partnerships right before going to international routes. “If we must go to international routes, it has to be with the right aircraft in terms of fuel efficiency, seat capacity and fall back so that when a planes are down for Aircraft on Ground (AOG), there is a support system which enables you recover your service quickly. If we don’t have all of these things well arranged and go to the international route, we will burn our fingers. To this extent, going to the international route is a decision to be carefully made,” he said. On plans to acquire aircraft for short haul operations, Kamilu said AMCON is not getting into aviation business, as its job in Arik is to first stabilise the airline so it can be in a position to repay its loans. “We see ourselves as enablers. The aviation industry is important to the Nigerian economy and Arik and Aero are big that is why you see a lot of direct AMCON interests in those companies, otherwise, we wouldn’t be. Our job is to recover our money and in doing that we also want Nigerian people to get some benefits by stabilising the airline,” he added. Speaking on possibility to offset “Stretched Terrains’ is a great platform to show the strengths of Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines in West Africa working closely together and supporting the development of young African talents”, says Robin Sohdi, Lufthansa General Manager Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. On April 11, 2018, which started the loans, Kamilu said it is possible depending on the circumstances. According to him, “AMCON did not just jump into Arik. We bought these loans in 2011 and 2012 and after buying the loans, we gave Arik N20billion, additional lending to help them rejuvenate. So, talking about putting Arik in a position to pay its debt, we did that several years before we decided to appoint a receiver manager to intervene. So where we are now is a different recovery level. “The initial recovery level was pursuing to build capacity and let them repay but where we are now is build capacity and exist. How you exist can take different forms and we have people in AMCON that are working on that.” Meanwhile, travel agents who spoke to journalists commended from Lagos, the artist group began a six-week journey with a Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines branded, converted public transport bus, called the Molue Mobile Museum of Contemporary Art. They will cross through Benin, Togo, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Mali, with a planned arrival in Dakar, Senegal at the beginning of Emeka Udemba, curator of the ‘Stretched Terrains’ art project, Friederike Möschel, director Goethe-Institut Lagos and Robin Sohdi, Lufthansa general manager sales Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, before departure of the Molue Mobile Museum road trip with resident artists to DaK’Art in Senegal, one of the continent’s most important biennals for contemporary African art at the Goethe Institute in Lagos. AMCOM, stressing that the airline has fully regained air passengers’ confidence unlike before. Phillip Adeleke of Bon Voyage Travels said that, with innovations AMCOM has put in place, confidence and that air passengers have developed interest once again in the airline. Margaret Ekerete another travel agent and Arik Air trade partner pointed out that AMCOM has transformed Arik for good. Pointing the current platform the airline is using as a right step in the right direction, the travel agent said “I think the platform Arik is using is very good. Our airlines and agents find it very convenient. In a general term, I am very happy Arik Air is back in the air, resuming all its major operations with buoyant plans going forward.” May, right in time for the opening of the13th International Biennial Dak’Art” exhibition. The artists will be greeted at every stop by the Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines and Goethe-Institute teams. Furthermore, they will display their artwork at each destination they stop at. Once they reach Senegal, the artists will stay for the Dak’Art” exhibition until May 07, when they will start their journey back to Lagos. On their way back, they will make stops again at all the previous Goethe-Institut locations they visited on the way to the exhibition, planning to arrive in Lagos on May 25. During their journey, the artists examine diverse public spaces as communication zones of social, economic and political interaction. The project embraces the diversity of practices and perspectives of the participating artists, who will discuss and exchange their artistic interactions as they travel almost 10,000-kilometers on a road trip. The artwork, which will be created in Dakar and during the journey, will be presented and discussed along the way back to Nigeria at the Goethe-Institutes and cultural centers at Dakar, Bamako, Abidjan, Accra, Lomé and Lagos. The Nigerian artist Emeka Udemba, who is living in Germany, is the curator of the project. Dana Air named official airline of wives of Africa presidents’ summit Dana Air has been named the official airline of the maiden edition of the Coalition of Wives of Presidents and Vice Presidents in Africa for Peace (COWAP) Summit for Peace and Development, scheduled to hold from 21st to 22nd of April at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja. Themed: African Women Summit for Peace and Development in Africa, the coalition is a project put together by Engage, Empower, Educate Initiative, an NGO which aims to harness the enormous capacity and goodwill of both sitting and past wives of Presidents and Vice Presidents in Africa towards four thematic points which aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals: Peace in Africa, Girl-child education, Ending hunger and poverty in Nigeria. Speaking on the choice of Dana Air as official airline of the Summit, Kingsley Ezenwa, the airline’s Media and Communications Manager said, “We are proud to have been selected as the official airline of such a huge summit coming up this month in Abuja. “This is testament to the fact that Africa appreciates and understands our efforts towards strategically connecting Nigerian cities to Africa, and providing safe, reliable and affordable air transport. We welcome this rare opportunity to showcase our award-wining service to all the delegates and Africa at large.’’ Wakanow launches ‘Travel Now Pay Later’ Scheme for 2018 Russia World Cup As part of the comprehensive drive to significantly boost the capability of the Nigerian traveling public, Wakanow has designed a new travel payment scheme, ‘Travel Now Pay Later’ that would alleviate the strain of outright payment for travel packages on her customers by allowing them pay in convenient instalments even after their travel date. With a minimum down payment of 25%, intending travellers who wish to take advantage of the Wakanow Travel Now Paly Later Scheme can enjoy the flexibility and convenience of spreading the balance payment for their travel package for as long as 9 months even after their travel dates. The product offers Wakanow customers soft loans at a very marginal interest rate within a 24-hour turnaround time. According to a statement by Obinna Ekezie, the Managing Director of Wakanow, these new offerings accentuate Wakanow’s commitment to boost the financial capacity of Nigerians to afford air travel and benefit from the innumerable benefits of travel and leisure. As a company with keen interest in sports, it was ideal to launch the product exclusively to encourage the live participation of Nigerian football lovers at the forthcoming World Cup.