The Nigerian Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) hosted an event to mark World Tourism Day (September 27) and also announce a partnership with the Carnival Calabar. The partnership is seen as another milestone in positioning and promoting Nigeria’s top cultural brand and Africa’s biggest street party.
The event hosted representatives from Cross River State led by the Carnival Chairman, Mr. Gabe Onah, Mr. Ken Aklar and a team of the Carnival Marketing Consultants.
A delegation from South Africa Tourism was also present, and was led by Mr. Hloni Pitso who is SAT’s Regional Manager for West Africa and Mohammed Kwajaffa, Trade Relations Manager for West Africa. South Africa Tourism is already in partnership with NATOP.
Onah, speaking on the partnership said: “For us at the Carnival Calabar we are happy that the import of the World Tourism Day is dawning on all the sectors that make tourism to tick. A product cannot be a product until it is marketed. And one of the strong pillars of a tourism experience is that platform that takes it to the consumer.
“So, we have offered ourselves to them (NATOP) and they have offered themselves to us, so that this golden egg of the culture of Nigeria, which is like the oil with which our tourism is eaten, the Carnival Calabar, can now appeal to Nigerian tourists who are weary of travelling abroad.”
Hon. Ken Aklar, speaking on what to expect at the Carnival Calabar revealed that there would be magic shows from international troupes to hold spectators spellbound,, as well as a new experience for the young ones in partnership with a Nickelodeon.
National President of NATOP, Mr. NkereuwemOnung, also used the opportunity to call for the restoration of a stand-alone tourism ministry.
IkechiUko, Organizer of Akwaaba African Travel Market commended former President Olusegun Obasanjo for recognising the importance of tourism by establishing a dedicated ministry in 1999. Uko also reminded the audience that the proposal to adopt September 27 as World Tourism Day was put forward by a Nigerian, Ignatius Atigbi, and subsequently adopted by the UNWTO.
The event had in attendance managers of hotels, tour operators and consultants, travel agents and travel and tourism stakeholders along with the media.