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Tourism experts, stakeholders applaud 2023 Akwaaba



By Christy Anyanwu


Stakeholders in tourism, aviation, education, health and hospitality have commended the 19th edition of Akwaaba African Travel Market, held from September 3 to 5, 2023, at Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

They also made recommendations and listed gains from the three-day event, which was spiced with ceremonies, different dance troupes, Calabar Carnival dance groups, the Lagos State talking drum troupe and Eyo masquerades, among others.

Commenting on the organisation and success of this year’s event, Ambassador Ikechi Uko, convener of the Akwaaba Travel Market, said Akwaaba was a platform for emergent tourism segments like medical and educational tourism, in addition to the conventional forms of tourism.

“Last year, we only had two hospitals, but this year, we had close to 40 hospitals from all over the world. This year, we didn’t have one country dominate; we had more countries and more participation from Nigeria. We had a lot more people and we had better participation from Nigerians,” he said.

The 2023 travel market was an avenue for countries, organisations, firms and individuals to showcase their products and services, network and learn more about the tourism, travel, aviation and hospitality industries. Also, most of the pavilions had something for visitors to eat and drink.

General Manager, Marketing and Communication, Ibom Air, Annie Essien Ette, who described Akwaaba as one of the biggest travel market-fairs, said: “For us at Ibom Air, we pride ourselves as a world class regional airline, which means that our operation is strictly restricted to Nigeria and other African countries in the interim.

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“We have been able to meet with our tour operators and travel agents. We have heard their concerns and we have been able to expose them to initiatives from us as well.”

Head of ET Holidays, Firiehiwot Mekonnen, a regular visitor at the fair, said: “This is a platform where we can meet people. We can share ideas in order to grow tourism in Africa and all over the globe. This is the kind of platform that we need to have sustainable tourism connectivity in Africa.”

Commenting on the Ethiopian stand, Mekonnen said: “Ethiopia is the origin of so many things, and one of the things is coffee. We have the best coffee in the world. There was a showcase of coffee for visitors to sample the product.”

For Edna Abonu, representing Ghana State Authority, coming to Akwaaba was a delightful experience: “We are here to tell you more about Ghana, to sell Ghana, not as a country but as the tourist centre of the world. We have one of the tallest mountains in West Africa. We have the Safari in the northern part of Ghana, which is Mune National Park, and we have historical tours in the central part of Ghana, which has the history of the story of the slave trade, and all the activities of Gold Coast trade happening in Ghana.”

Vivian Oyebola, a staff of Gino Foods, said: “We are one of the sponsors. As you can see, it was party jollof war at the opening on Sunday.

 “We are the best party tomato paste company. We started on the opening day and it was interesting. Akwaaba has given us the opportunity to get more consumers and people to know more about the product.”

A representative of Medical Pharm, Turkey, told Sunday Sun: “We have nine hospitals in Istanbul, three hospitals in Ankara and other cites as well in the Black Sea regions. In the Mediterranean region, we have hospitals also. We offer all types of treatment to people, according to their needs.

“We have all kinds of departments in the School of Medicine. We have specialists for procedures, from plastic surgeries to aesthetics, orthopaedics, dental works, transplantation, dental surgeries, dermatology, oncology, cancer surgeries, haematology, etcetera.”

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