Stakeholders Laud 2021 Akwaaba Tourism Exhibition

tourism - December 18, 2021

DTourism stakeholders were able to see support and deals, even from banks and the media, despite the challenges of COVID-19 during the recently concluded 17th edition of the Akwaaba African Travel market, a tourism exhibition in Lagos. As a result, they are happy with the travel trade and the resilience of the tourism industry.

The operators also praised the organiser of the travel market, Mr. Ikechi Uko, who decided to hold this year’s edition (the 2020 edition was cancelled), despite COVID-19 challenges.

Uko said participation at the exhibition wasn’t too bad: “All we had planned for the 2-day event which began on November 29, 2021 was well received despite the Coronavirus pandemic which impacted negatively on international travel. Domestic tourism has gained.”

He thanked the various tourism-reliant organisations and the media for their support.

Tourism stakeholders in the country focused on domestic tourism at Akwaaba 2021, and by so doing, leveraged on the sheer size of the country’s population of about 200 million and the huge natural resources.

Unlike the past editions, most of the exhibitors and trade visitors at the fairground at the Eko Hotels Convention Centre venue were mostly Nigerians from across the country.

Traditional exhibitors from the United Arab Emirates, Southern Africa and East Africa, The Gambia and neighbouring Ghana (except Accra-based Arisa Hotels) for instance, didn’t come or open for business as a result of Coronavirus.

A few travel companies and foreign airlines operating in Nigeria were able to open for business at the travel Expo.

What happened that obviously gladdened participants was the rare attention paid to domestic tourism, lifestyle and Nigerian cuisine.

Head of Tourism Business, Sterling Bank, Mrs. Abiola Adelana, said: “Attending Akwaaba Travel Expo is of great benefit to the bank. This event has given us opportunity to engage with the industry and we have done our research and know the needs of the tourism industry.”

Adelana, in her presentation, revealed that Sterling Bank has a financial plan to support tour operators and holidaymakers.

The bank unveiled plans to create special funds for the purchase of tour buses by tour operators and fund vacations.

She explained that the funding of tour buses would enable operators own their tour buses and repay the loan over the years while its travel loan for tours and vacations would be through its pay with Specta platform.

Adelana said the bank “is soon to launch its e-commerce platform” for the benefits of Nigerians and its growing customer base.

The bank earlier made a commitment of N5 billion funding for domestic tourism, perhaps making it the only bank and financial institution in Nigeria that has a dedicated facility for the tourism industry.

The Guardian’s Publisher, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, who declared the exhibition open, sought for a better synergy between the media and tourism sectors to enhance mutual benefits and economic growth.

The publisher, in a paper entitled: “Role of the Media in Promoting Tourism and Travels,” observed that both industries were traditional development partners, with mutual benefits.

Uko maintains that Akwaaba equips industry players and stakeholders with information needed to boost business activities in the sector.

He says it is an avenue for people who have products in travel and tourism to exchange with those in need of such services.

Citing the abundance of opportunities in the tourism sector, Uko urged the government to step in and do more to mitigate the challenges posed by the COVID 19.

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