By Demola Ojo
Nigerian pop star Banky W, Ghanaian actor Van Vicker, and Carnival Calabar band leader Sen. Florence Ita Giwa were among the many notable faces that graced the colourful South African Tourism stand at the Akwaaba African Travel Market held in Lagos recently.
Akwaaba Travel market is the biggest travel and tourism show in West Africa. It hosts exhibitors and buyers to meet with airlines, hotels, restaurants, tour operators, travel agents, state tourism boards, foreign trade and tourism sectors from across the continent and beyond.
The event had participants from 17 African countries and over 80 travel organisations in attendance, including a large delegation from the UAE. SAT’s fascinating stand where it engaged with trade partners, consumers and exhibitors alike, was a beehive of activities as it shared information on the amazing offerings the destination has to offer.
Guests were thrilled with the innovation adopted by SAT during the event as it kept attracting participants with various tourism sites of the country, with different pictures of places in South Africa being changed each day as its stand’s backdrop.
This was in line with the focus of the event for this edition; introducing and encouraging African tour operators who promote African destinations to Africans; growing future of aviation in Africa, showcasing wining and dining as a key element of tourism through food fair, destination weddings, Spa and wellness across Africa and engaging youths in Africa tourism.
At the end of the three-day fair, SAT emerged winner Best African Stand award as participants at the expo thronged to the stand for selfies and photo ops with hosts dressed up in beautiful South African attire depicting the country’s cultural heritage.
Trade Relations Manager, West Africa, for SAT, Mohammed Kwajaffa received the DG, National Council for Arts & Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe who declared the exhibition open alongside other top dignitaries from across the continent at the SAT stand.
The DG expressed his admiration saying, “We are very proud of South Africa as they made the whole of Africa proud during the World Cup 2010 as the first African country to host the World Cup.”
Kwajaffa explained the huge impact Akwaaba has brought to Africa ‘s travel trade and tourism saying, “One of the key game changers this year is the inclusion of the local and small scale tour operators and travel agents to exhibit, as it attracted more footfalls fromztheir own clients and followers.”
Kwajaffa extended a huge appreciation to the organiser of Akwaaba, Mr. Ikechi andUko, for putting together an exceptional event and also thanked stakeholders from the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agency (NANTA), Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP) Tour Operators of Ghana (TOUGHA) who visited the stand to show their continued support and partnership.
“This gave us opportunity to showcase destination South Africa to more than the usual clientele hence reaffirming SAT’s commitment to supporting such initiatives and activities in the market. Congratulations to all the award winners of the Top 100 Africa Tour Operators,” he further stated.
Other winners include NCAC, which emerged the winner of the best Nigerian stand award, Travelstart Nigeria which won Best Travel Trade stand award and Air Namibia which won Best Airline Stand Award.